For whatever reason I’ve been very inspired to put a lot of work into Adventures of the Space Patrol. I think it’s partly because I’ve been thinking about shorter games in general (and I hope to have some exciting news to share before too long!), and (in MS Word with normal margins and 12-point type) AotSP is likely to top out at around 40 pages maximum.
I’ve posted about it before, but Adventures of the Space Patrol is a game about “Space Agents” trying to help ordinary people with problems from outer space. The setting is inspired by a mixture of the art of Shane Glines and other illustrators/animators, and a mishmash of cheesy old sci-fi as seen through that general kind of lens. The rules are a very light implementation of FATE 3.0, with a little bit of a Japanese TRPG sensibility added, and a whole lot of influence and attitude derived from Yuuyake Koyake. Thus, it’s a game of bold, stylized, heartwarming adventure, with cute girls, beautiful women, square-jawed heroes, and strange aliens. Unlike a lot of my other games, it’s not based on a particular genre or range of actual titles (though My Life as a Teenage Robot is probably the closest to what I’m going for) so much as a general attitude and aesthetic. That also means that getting the right artwork–with some of that amazing confidence and fluidity of line–is going to be critical for making the final product work.
The biggest change I’ve made to the game in my renewed enthusiasm for this game is to make all of the characters be pregens. It saves me some work making up extra Shticks (basically the same thing as Stunts in SotC), it reinforces the “pick-up role-playing” aspect of the game, and they’re just plain fun to work on (especially when I can give them names like Jenny Jetstream and Rick Fireball). Each character also has only three Aspects and three Shticks, to keep the character concepts simple and tight and give PCs a few interesting tricks to try. Billy Smith, the Plucky Kid who’s a Deputy Space Agent, has my favorite Aspect in the game so far: “Hey, mister, what’re you doing?” Coming up with Shticks that are flavorful and useful yet don’t at all relate to anything violent is really fun but very challenging too, as it runs against the grain of what we’re used to for RPGs. (Yuuyake Koyake is quite impressive in this regard, and I’m going to spare you the whining I could be doing about how hard it’s been to come up with clique-based Talents for Slime Story.)
I also finally finished the episode creation tables. The idea is that in order to very quickly plan out a scenario, the GM can use playing cards to get elements from three different oracle-like tables (Who’s in trouble? What’s their problem? What space thing is involved?), which of course meant I had to come up with 156 different story elements. The tables are packed with references that range from obscure (“Mo-Ran, a Robot Monster”) to silly (“Stephen, an arrogant talk show host”) to personal (a few people I know are subtly mentioned in there). On the whole I’m really happy with the result. I tried it out to make a sample scenario, and I got “Cindy, a veterinarian who loves animals very much,” “Something important has gone missing,” and “The Men In Black, secret agents that try to cover up weird stuff.” Hence, the MIBs carried off one of Cindy’s patients because they mistook him for a missing alien diplomat.
I still need to think more about the overall rules. In particular, the game is meant to be mostly non-violent, and while I’ve made a point to avoid Shticks that serve violent purposes (hence I’ve gotten rid of Jenny Jetstream’s “Ray Gun” shtick), I’ve left in Conflict rules (albeit a very simplified version of the Awesome Adventures version of FATE), I’m not sure how or even if I could/should enforce nonviolence in the rules. Yuuyake Koyake strongly cautions against violence, and I think the rules make it uninteresting and unrewarding.
Anyway, all of that means that playtesting won’t be too far off, and I’m really looking forward to giving the game a try.