Jason Durall

BRP Interplanetary

305 posts in this topic

Inspired by Pete's revelation about BRP Rome, I thought I'd unveil the proposal for my next BRP project. This is the actual "pitch" I sent Chaosium, and was approved by Dustin and Charlie.

I'm in the middle of collecting background info, re-reading the classics of the genre, and doing "preproduction" on it before dedicated writing begins in the last third of the month.

INTERPLANETARY – A BASIC ROLEPLAYING SOURCEBOOK

By Jason Durall

Interplanetary is an adventure sourcebook for roleplaying games in the style of planetary adventure (also called ‘interplanetary adventure’ or ‘planetary romance’). This popular genre was epitomized by the John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, as well as other authors such as Poul Anderson, Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Andre Norton, and many others. It is a fan favorite in many online polls regarding what genre should be explored more, and has rarely been addressed in roleplaying games.

Rather than being about the worlds created by any one of these particular authors, Interplanetary deals with an overview of the genre, and focus more on the style of planetary adventure. This sourcebook presents a sample campaign and exploration of the planets of this solar system in a manner appropriate to the planetary adventure genre. Additional resources allow game masters and players to explore distinct and new settings of their own devising.

In size, this project will be in the 48,000-64,000 word range. Once approved, I anticipate it taking roughly three-to-four months to complete, with an additional month for a limited playtest cycle using a smaller and more dedicated subset of the Basic Roleplaying playtest, as well as local playtesters and reviewers. Assuming approvals and contracts are executed in or around January, it would be ready around late April. Writing will go much faster than BRP due to the lack of rules-related content and the relative light requirement for playtesting.

Following is a projected outline of Interplanetary:

SECTION ONE – INTRODUCTION

A basic introduction to the genre and a quick description of Basic Roleplaying, stating that this is a sourcebook for BRP and that the core rules are required.

  • Introduction to the genre
  • Suggested optional rules from BRP

SECTION TWO – CHARACTERS

Mostly self-explanatory, this provides some background and context for players to grasp how to create appropriate creatures for planetary adventure.

  • Character origins
  • New character professions
  • Character generation
  • Alien characters
  • Powers
  • Motivations and personalization

SECTION THREE – ARTIFACTS AND EQUIPMENT

Self-explanatory, this presents a wide range of armaments, equipment, ancient artifacts, and vehicles for use in planetary adventure campaigns.

  • Introduction to planetary adventure technology
  • New weapons
  • New armor
  • New equipment
  • Creating new artifacts and equipment
  • Spacecraft, ground cars, seacraft, airships, and other means of transport

SECTION FOUR – ADVENTURING

This section is for players and game masters, and contains game systems and mechanics.

  • Getting into space
  • Vehicular combat
  • Space hazards
  • New spot rules

SECTION FIVE – OUR SOLAR SYSTEM

Each planet’s description will include a basic description of the planet’s geography and climate, its inhabitants, major conflicts, notable points of interest, significant NPCs, and a variety of aliens and creatures native to that planet.

  • Earth – Described in brief with the 1920s as the default setting.
  • The Moon – A near-lifeless wasteland, though with strange canals and ancient ruins hidden in crater cities.
  • Mercury – Extremely hot volcanic planet, as well as [withheld] life forms.
  • Venus – Hot and humid, with thick jungles and evocative life.
  • Mars – The desert planet, home to many [withheld].
  • Sol System's Asteroid Belt – Home to exotic life forms and [withheld].
  • Ceres – This planet-sized asteroid is near-lifeless, though home to ancient mysteries of time and space.
  • Jupiter – A giant gassy planet, with inhabitants dwelling in floating cities.
  • Saturn – The ringed planet, host to many moons and inhabited by [withheld].
  • Uranus – A cold gassy planet, inhabited by [withheld].
  • Neptune – An oceanic planet, shrouded in poison mists and inhabited by [withheld].
  • Planet X (Pluto) – A barren and strange planet, with equally inscrutable inhabitants.
  • [withheld]

There will be a short section describing how the planets were viewed at the time, versus their scientific reality.

SECTION SIX – GAMEMASTERING AND CAMPAIGNS

Basic information for handling planetary adventure campaigns and structuring adventures.

  • Aspects of the planetary adventure genre
  • Evoking a planetary adventure atmosphere
  • Adventures in planetary adventure games
  • Sample campaign involving [withheld] threatening the entire solar system and involving a visit to each planet

SECTION SEVEN – APPENDIX AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • List of sources
  • Reference sheets

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It definitely looks interesting and useful. Good luck with the project and congratulations on its acceptance.

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You can count me in for a copy as well, it looks like it would mesh well with some things I want to do.

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Funny you should be doing this, Jason; one of the campaign ideas being considered locally is a planetary romance in the "Planet of Adventure" style...

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Yes, I'll be awaiting the release of this product as well. It's true that this genre is mostly ignored in roleplaying and I think it can be loads of fun. I think too many people have become too serious about science fiction and forget to stop worrying about "logically" explaining everything and just have fun with it. I love that the default Earth setting is the '20s...wouldn't be hard to tie it in with Cthulhu or any other pulpy adventures. Great idea!

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... In size, this project will be in the 48,000-64,000 word range. Once approved, I anticipate it taking roughly three-to-four months to complete, with an additional month for a limited playtest cycle using a smaller and more dedicated subset of the Basic Roleplaying playtest, as well as local playtesters and reviewers. Assuming approvals and contracts are executed in or around January, it would be ready around late April...

:D

Nick Middleton

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Damn it, Jason!

You are determined to make me spend more money on BRP products, aren't you?! :D

Consider it bought. ;)

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Spaceships in the 1920's? How does that happen in the setting, if you care to explain that much?

It reminds me a of E. E. Doc Smiths' 'Skylark', a bit. Invasion, alien gift, brilliant breakthrough? All of the above?

Good hook job, Jason.:thumb::D

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Spaceships in the 1920's? How does that happen in the setting, if you care to explain that much?

Spaceships are common to the interplanetary adventure genre, so they're in here.

The first significant one of these stories appeared in 1911 (ERB's "Under the Moons of Mars" serial that later became A Princess of Mars) and space vessels appeared later in the series.

The 1920s will also be stretched to the early 1930s.

Mad inventors, alien technology, etc.

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Great idea!

There's definitely a hole out there in gameland where a 'John Carter of Mars' game oughtta be...

This sounds like it will do all that and more... (I'm assuming the Earth is hollow as well?)

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I can't wait for this! I've always wanted a BRP planetary romance game so much so I had begun to convert Adament's Mars game. Don't forget Leigh Brackett's work in the genre though.

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The 1920s will also be stretched to the early 1930s.

That's good news for me as I'll most likely be shooting for the early 30's in the Campaign I'd use this for! :D

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Jason,

Firstly:sounds great ! consider one extra copy sold :D

next, have you read any Stanley Weinbaum ? he was a pulp writer in the 30's who sadly died very young from throat cancer...he'd only been writing about 2years. Anyway his most famous story is 'A Martian Odyssey' What makes him stand out in my opinion is his aliens, they do things for alien reasons, and aren't just humans with extra tentacles etc. Also he seemed to have a love of trying to imagine weird ecologies. In fairness I should point out that his work leans more to science fiction than planetary romance, but his name sprang immediately to mind when I saw the thread title. Highly recommended to anybody who wants to read intelligent evocative science fiction from the early days of the genre.

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Spaceships are common to the interplanetary adventure genre, so they're in here.

The first significant one of these stories appeared in 1911 (ERB's "Under the Moons of Mars" serial that later became A Princess of Mars) and space vessels appeared later in the series.

The 1920s will also be stretched to the early 1930s.

Mad inventors, alien technology, etc.

Sounds a little bit like "....FLASH! ahaaaa..." :)

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Sounds a little bit like "....FLASH! ahaaaa..." :)

"Savior of the universe" :thumb:

Ah, Ornella Mutti, Max von Sidow, gosh we're old!!!

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

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So is this new sourcebook suppose to be space adventures in the 1910s-1930s, or sci-fi space adventures as they thought the future would be in 1910-1930s? Meaning, is it 1920 and we are space travelling, or is it a 1930s serial set in 2025?

Im also a big fan of the XXVc Buck Rogers game form 1990 (and TSR), but I am not sure if that is Planetary Romance or straight Sci-Fi.

And what is Gor? Fantasy? Science-Fantasy? Sci-Fi? Planetary Romance? Of just plain bad?

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So is this new sourcebook suppose to be space adventures in the 1910s-1930s, or sci-fi space adventures as they thought the future would be in 1910-1930s? Meaning, is it 1920 and we are space travelling, or is it a 1930s serial set in 2025?

None of the above.

It's pulpy, heroic adventures on alien worlds within our solar system, most of which are filled with ancient ruins or primitive societies. Very little of the game is set in space or concerning space combat.

Think "sword and planet" rather than rayguns and Martian invaders.

Im also a big fan of the XXVc Buck Rogers game form 1990 (and TSR), but I am not sure if that is Planetary Romance or straight Sci-Fi.

Pulp sci-fi.

And what is Gor? Fantasy? Science-Fantasy? Sci-Fi? Planetary Romance? Of just plain bad?

Just plain bad. But it might fall into the planetary romance genre, as it is (at least initially) about an Earthman who travels to another world where he has fantastic adventures.

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Jason,

Firstly:sounds great ! consider one extra copy sold :D

next, have you read any Stanley Weinbaum ? he was a pulp writer in the 30's who sadly died very young from throat cancer...he'd only been writing about 2years. Anyway his most famous story is 'A Martian Odyssey' What makes him stand out in my opinion is his aliens, they do things for alien reasons, and aren't just humans with extra tentacles etc. Also he seemed to have a love of trying to imagine weird ecologies. In fairness I should point out that his work leans more to science fiction than planetary romance, but his name sprang immediately to mind when I saw the thread title. Highly recommended to anybody who wants to read intelligent evocative science fiction from the early days of the genre.

I'm casually familiar with his work, and it's not really planetary romance. In fact, I'd agree with you that it is pretty much straight-out sci-fi.

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"Savior of the universe" :thumb:

Ah, Ornella Mutti, Max von Sidow, gosh we're old!!!

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

I was always wondering why Flash preferred this blond cheerleader girl and not the sex godess Ornella.

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None of the above.

It's pulpy, heroic adventures on alien worlds within our solar system, most of which are filled with ancient ruins or primitive societies. Very little of the game is set in space or concerning space combat.

Think "sword and planet" rather than rayguns and Martian invaders.

Hmm ... now, to my mind, the old Flash Gordon serials fall across this line - rayguns and invaders from Mongo, but also primitive alien societies and fallen civilisations.

Anyway, I hope that the spaceships, prominent or not, at least look like those in the 1930's serials. :thumb:

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Hmm ... now, to my mind, the old Flash Gordon serials fall across this line - rayguns and invaders from Mongo, but also primitive alien societies and fallen civilisations.

Anyway, I hope that the spaceships, prominent or not, at least look like those in the 1930's serials. :thumb:

I have a soft spot for this old 30er series. Each time I make a video evening with friends, watching one or two episodes of Flash between the real movies is mandatory. Buster Crabbe in his short panties rulez. :)

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Hi Jason, hi all,

This sounds great - I've always been a huge fan of ERB's Barsoom stuff, it'll be cool to see finally a game dealing with it on a grand scale!

Couple of questions. Do you plan on addressing pre-existing stuff such as Space 1889 in any way? I believe Frank Chadwick still owns the property, but there is still a very sizable fan community out there (out here?) which would probably be quite excited to hear about any possible "Victorian" slant to the Interplanetary sourcebook. I always thought Space 1889 Mars was very, very groovy, as was their version of the Moon, but Venus and Mercury were a bit lacklustre for me - the ERB fan showing through!

Second - I don't know how famous this guy is (ie mega or just incredibly ;-) ), but are you looking at any Olaf Stapledon stuff for inspiration? "Last and First Men" and "Star Maker" are 1930's golden age stuff, but with some incredible ideas. They're certainly not planetary romance (in fact, they're hardly fiction at all in the traditional sense), but they're busting with mindblowing concepts ripe for plundering.

Just a few thoughts! Clock up another copy sold there!

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