NaBloPoMo 2015 – Entry 15 – Some History of My Creating
Posted by docryder
I know I’ve discussed some of the origins of the StarSea as a concept, but I feel I need to discuss them more, maybe for my own clarity. I write more, but I realize I might not write anything truly new here, and may just rehash stuff I included back when I first started this blog.
The seeds of the StarSea were first implanted in my mind with the release of three products from the late ’80s/early ’90s: Spelljammer, the D&D 2nd ed setting; XXVc, the Buck Rogers RPG based on D&D 2nd ed; and Dark Space, a setting for RoleMaster that combined Fantasy and Sci-Fi written by Monte Cook. The ideas I glommed onto in those three books formed the first version of the StarSea, called The Twenty Spheres. That name came from a map I created based on a map for a computer game called NetTrek, which I put on a grid and simplified down to 20 systems. I pulled a lot of different ideas together.
I liked the idea of the Crystal Spheres of Spelljammer, if not the overly complicated and time consuming tracking of which planets in a system were on which orbit and at what location on the orbit tracker, etc. There was a bit of that in XXVc, too, as you tracked the movement of the Inner Planets, Jupiter and Saturn (as I don’t recall any colonies beyond Saturn). You had to track the planet movement to correctly measure travel distances, doncha-know. I’d rather simplify, maybe even to the speed of plot.
I liked the idea of D&D races as alien races that was touched on in Spelljammer, which I think had some cachet in Dark Space, too. Both had, I think, some dumb aliens as well (the hippo people of Spelljammer, for example), as well as goofy monsters (giant space hamsters, again from Spelljammer). Dark Space had some villains that influenced me in other ways, the Vlathachna, who were demonic and alien, more like D&D aberrations (or Far Realms creatures). Both also had some neat “technologies”, something I had issues with in the Magitek setting for Amazing Engine that TSR published sometime later (Magitek, The Galactos Barrier and Once and Future King for those rules are also an influence I’ll mention more later).
My major problem with Dark Space was that Mr. Cook seemed to not have a solid direction for the setting. Magic and Tech weren’t integrated or combined. They seemed to be two separate forces that just coexisted in the world. And that coexistence was uneasy, as one world would have magic, another technology.
At that time, I was happy with D&D 2e. When XXVc came out, it was an enlightening moment. Here was D&D used for a completely different setting. TSR had never done an adaptation quite so complete. Before they’d always done bits and pieces; maybe the attributes, the weapons system, maybe saving throws, the leveling system, hit points; some, but never all. XXVc used all of those items, including using the Thief skill system as something all classes could use, with each class getting its own set of skills. I became inspired, and started tinkering around with a more expansive setting than simply our home solar system. That’s the birth of the Twenty Spheres.
I pulled some technology from Dark Space, as well as a couple of world ideas (as well as one from Mekton II), and I went on to build two versions, one straight tech and one with magic. I really can’t say the version with magic was any more of a fusion of ideas, to be honest. In fact, I just took a few minutes to look at those old notes, and no, they weren’t a real fusion. In fact, I went out of the way to make tech replace magic.
Looks like I’ve gone farther than WordPress will allow me. I’ll continue this…