Ether Star RPG: Coming Some Day Maybe

Yet another RPG I want to work on is “Ether Star” (formerly “Star Sorcerer,” possibly to be called something else if I can come up wiht something better). I came up with the setting a while back; it basically mixes bits and pieces of Xenosaga, Phantasy Star Online, and a few other things, the result being an anime space opera setting with a big emphasis on “ether powers.” Ether is sort of a distillation of psionics and magic into a single scientific practice, and is heavily used in the setting’s technology.

The original Star Sorcerer campaign I ran used Fudge (with very loose rules) and was generally a big success with my group. Writing the actual book has proven to be more daunting of a task than I expected. Still, I want to sit down and try some time, and I do want to use Fudge still. One of the things I like about Beast Bind is that its character creation has a lot of “flavor” too it that generic point-based character creation lacks. There’s just something about picking the Full Metal blood and then the Gospel Engine art to go with it. I’m actually kind of starting to dislike noodly point-based character creation. Granted you don’t have to deal with it after your first game session, but I think a game system can go a long ways towards helping create interesting or at least pertinent characters. octaNe‘s archetypes kick ass on that front, and Weapons of the Gods lets you spend Destiny points on loresheets to give your character more plot hooks, and of course good old D&D’s classes give you iconic characters with pre-defined niches.

Although I was toying with using Five-Point Fudge, my idea for Ether Star is to go for more Japanese-style character creation and have players select a race (human, variant human, android, simulant) and two professions (or your can double up on one), plus a few levels of stuff to personalize attributes, skills, gifts, and faults. That’s the thing about Fudge; it’s basically just an action resolution mechanic and a list of suggestions, but most published Fudge-based RPGs just use the Objective Character Creation rules as-is, making character creation much like every other point-based RPG out there.

OTOH I do want to come up with some kind of HP type rules for Ether Star; the damage rules of Fudge work, but for me at least they’re a little clunky, plus a death spiral isn’t quite the right thing for an anime-style epic space opera setting IMO. And there’s the matter of vehicles/mecha and the actual ether powers too. But realistically, I think I’d better try to finish up a playtest version of Tokyo Heroes before I get into yet another RPG project.

Plus the major problem with Ether Star right now is that it doesn’t have a good answer to the “What do you do?” question. In Tokyo Heroes and Thrash it’s pretty obvious, but as it stands now Ether Star is a pretty wide-open setting, a big galaxy where there’s all kinds of neat stuff going on, but nothing so pressing that anyone can assume it’s about a particular thing. My campaign had a pretty clear focus, but it was based on keeping the PCs in the dark about a lot of stuff for a long while, so I’m not sure how effective it would be to have the secrets of the ancient Terran Empire be the answer to the “What do you do?” question. The lack of this kind of focus is one of the major things that keeps me from doing a whole lot with most of the White Wolf stuff I own. Solar Exalted are tossed out into the world to find their destiny, Dragon-Blooded are mired in imperial life, Sidereals mostly have to do stuff for Yu-Shan, etc., and all of that is pretty vague compared to “kill things, take their stuff, get stronger to kill stronger things” or “kill monsters and make people less afraid so the DeadLands disappear” or “fight supervillains for truth and justice.” (Though I’ve been hearing on RPG.net that the new WoD books tend to be chock full of plot hooks–like they should’ve been over a decade ago).

Housecleaning is pretty much done though, but then school starts up in about a week and a half, and my schedule’s going to be pretty heavy this time around.

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2 thoughts on “Ether Star RPG: Coming Some Day Maybe

  1. Wow, this sounds really cool! I apologize on the , uh, blog necro, but I was goggling Xenosaga for a BESM campaign I’m thinking of and found this. It sounds quite awesome. Do you have an actual play of this written anywhere?

  2. For my current campaign we’ve been trying to keep an ongoing wiki with summaries and stuff. I really wish I’d thought of that sooner, because the Star Sorcerer campaign would’ve probably benefited immensely from it. As things stand, I don’t have anywhere near the records of what went on in the campaign that I’d like to have.

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