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Ringworld: Roleplaying Adventure Beneath the Great Arch

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Another challenge to basing a game on the Known Space stories, I think, is that Niven's narrative tends to focus on scenarios intended to exhibit neat speculative scientific and technological wonders, not personal narrative so much.  Neat things to marvel at, but not necessarily to play with.  To be fair, he's not alone in this regard in the world of Sci-Fi of the era.  I was once really eager to run an adventure set among the Integral Trees, until I realised that I didn't actually have an adventure to run.  A game needs to be about What Will People Do, and not so much Where Will People Do It (or What Clothes Will People Wear if we want to include fantasy/supernatural).  Which is why, so often, an "Old West Set in Space" scenario works in gaming -- "Space" is just the backdrop, while "Old West" is the recognisable action that the players will do.

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia
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1 hour ago, Ian Absentia said:

A game needs to be about What Will People Do, and not so much Where Will People Do It

I'll confess I'm prone to setting-itis, as the world-building is what captures my imagination. But yeah, it's people that drive the action forward, and I try to run NPCs as their own people, and preserve the players' free agency as well.

Tangentially, I'm proud to mention that we just hit a big milestone in our family Twilight 2000 campaign.

 

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Oh, that's a very cool animation of Ringworld in that link. 

I have yet to read any any of the Fleet of Worlds books, but the premise is perfect for an RPG campaign. The PCs would be the scouts looking for safe passage or creating it as needed. 

That said, I have some notes regarding an idea for a one-shot (convention game) Ringworld adventure.  A Kzin father is ready to take his teenage cubs on the traditional hunting trip/rite of passage.  It's a long journey to the out-of-the-way hunting preserve planet he has in mind, and the navigation system seems to be acting up, but that's all part of the challenge, right? 

Ringworld is a more crunchy version of the Chaosium system than most, so I might go with the more simplified version used in River of Heaven (based on OpenQuest).  I made a few changes to the character sheet for RoH just to see how it would look.  Which also reminds me that the art in Ringworld was good, but there wasn't a lot of it.  Anyway, here is the first page of that sheet I threw together.

FGjSEIq.png?1

 

Edited by ORtrail
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On 11/4/2019 at 12:50 AM, seneschal said:

I liked the initial novel but felt that all the sex scenes really slowed it down.  It was if it needed a disclaimer, "We interrupt our fascinating science fiction action for yet another round of gratuitous hanky panky."

Are we talking Ringworld or Gor now? Ringworld might sound a little bit more interesting.

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Most of the way reading the book now. The erotica is a bit surprising, I agree. But it's fairly minimal I'd reckon.

Late 60s - early 70s novels... erotica is sprinkled throughout them. 

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3 hours ago, soltakss said:

Are we talking Ringworld or Gor now? Ringworld might sound a little bit more interesting.

Not as bad as Gor and much more respectful toward women, but still a big distraction, especially when the reader is 17.  Plus, in retrospect the "romance" was a major plot point but was totally undone by the book's conclusion.  Either bad writing by the author or bad editing by the publisher.  I think it was added in by the latter in an addle-headed attempt to increase the book's "appeal."  You know it is gratuitous when even the characters joke about it.  🙄  Reduced my interest in reading the rest of the series.

Edited by seneschal
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4 hours ago, Wayne's Books said:

Late 60s - early 70s novels... erotica is sprinkled throughout them. 

No kidding.  It was pretty much fire-and-forget fan service.  I remember reading an otherwise well written Jack Vance novel (one of the Planet Tschai series?) and out of nowhere the book ended on "And later he made a woman of her."  Okay, Late '60s, shine on you crazy, sexist diamonds, but really, more or less out of nowhere.  Not even erotica -- just making a woman of her.  Maybe the main character implanted a uterus in the woman and they were squeamish on the details.  I'm willing to blame the editor.

!i!

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On 11/10/2019 at 12:29 PM, soltakss said:

Are we talking Ringworld or Gor now? Ringworld might sound a little bit more interesting.

The Teela Brown / Louis Wu romance elements, I presume.

It always seemed a bit forced to me, from a character standpoint; but kind of critical to the arc of the stories.

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But that's the point I was making earlier; the relationship is supposedly what drives the plot of the book (and indeed the course of human history) but at the end Brown casually tosses Wu aside as if she'd only met him the night before and hadn't gone home with him.  I'm like, "Wait just a darn minute, y'all."

Edited by seneschal

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4 hours ago, seneschal said:

But that's the point I was making earlier; the relationship is supposedly what drives the plot of the book (and indeed the course of human history) but at the end Brown casually tosses Wu aside as if she'd only met him the night before and hadn't gone home with him.  I'm like, "Wait just a darn minute, y'all."

Her joining up with Louis in the first place was also a bit discordant, a waitWHAT? interaction.  Leaving him even moreso.  Niven was (I always thought) attempting -- badly; character-driven stories aren't his oeuvre -- to show Teela as being essentially driven by and a victim of her "Luck," not really having self-determination.  Floating through life following her whims, with the proddings of "Luck" being the strongest.

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And her highest destiny is to hook up with a Conan wannabe on an alien world?  I suppose it worked out for John Carter, but come on, Niven, it's been done already.  :wacko:

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1 hour ago, seneschal said:

And her highest destiny is to hook up with a Conan wannabe on an alien world?  I suppose it worked out for John Carter, but come on, Niven, it's been done already.  :wacko:

i guess you didn't read on... Root of Life. A million Best Babies and a Protector to guard them.

also the film version of John Carter was FANTASTIC, I can't believe it tanked. I loved it.

Edited by Qizilbashwoman
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On 11/10/2019 at 6:39 PM, Ian Absentia said:

I'm willing to blame the editor.

Considering the times under discussion, I'm willing to blame "the man" (Philip K. Dick would approve!).

Edited by Bill the barbarian

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I've made good progress on my Known Space/Ringworld adventure idea.  I'm thinking most or all of the players will want to play as Kzinti, but there will be options to play as a Puppeteer or human.  Keep in mind the millions of aliens from various races captured by the Kzinti and mostly freed during the Man-Kzin Wars.  Space is a big place and deep enough into Patriarchy space there are no doubt original captives and descendants of captives being used as servants/pets.  Stockholm Syndrome isn't just for humans. 

Also, I checked my local used bookstore and found a handful of Niven books to add to my collection.  Ringworld's Children, The Man-Kzin Wars, Protector, and Neutron Star.  Oh, and Star King by Jack Vance (I'm finally getting around to reading his Demon Prince novels). 

Here's what I wrote up for the convention adventure description:

RPG

1.       Chaosium Ringworld RPG

2.       2-5 players

3.       Pregen characters

4.       Rite of Passage: A Kzinti Story

5.       A trip to the Kzinti hunting preserve planet of Banden is a family tradition.  You’ll need to work with your Kzinti cub siblings to stalk and kill prey out on the savanna plains of this tidally locked world.  However, you may not be the only hunters in search of prey….

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On 11/23/2019 at 4:13 PM, ORtrail said:

...  I'm thinking most or all of the players will want to play as Kzinti, but there will be options to play as a Puppeteer or human...

Does the game have something to force the Kzin PC's -- particularly rite-of-passage Cubs -- to play to the "Scream and Leap" mentality, aggressiveness, lack of curiosity, etc?

Or are they just humans-in-fursuits (with Kzin stat-boosts)?

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3 hours ago, g33k said:

Or are they just humans-in-fursuits (with Kzin stat-boosts)?

When I played a Kzinti in DnD (WD i think had the stats, and we played in JGs Tegel Manor) I had no problem with that. Half the fun was going off half cocked!

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7 hours ago, g33k said:

Does the game have something to force the Kzin PC's -- particularly rite-of-passage Cubs -- to play to the "Scream and Leap" mentality, aggressiveness, lack of curiosity, etc?

Or are they just humans-in-fursuits (with Kzin stat-boosts)?

Ringworld has a nice write-up of the Kzin race, but I don't remember any specific rules that would push, or punish, the players for a certain play style.  Keep in mind these are the equivalent of 15-16 yr old teenagers out on a family hunting trip.  They'll need to cooperate to get the bigger game animals, but will want to stand out if possible too.  Like trying out for a sports team if you will.  You need teamwork, with chances to shine for individual performance.  Any PC puppeteer or human will be a family servant -which are VERY difficult to come by these days and a point of family pride.  Father won't be happy if something happens to them. 

No point in playing a Kzin if you DON'T get to scream-and-leap on occasion though.  There will be plenty of conflict when all is said and done, but mostly along the lines of 'Us vs Them'. 

Edited by ORtrail
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12 hours ago, ORtrail said:

Ringworld has a nice write-up of the Kzin race, but I don't remember any specific rules that would push, or punish, the players for a certain play style. 

I wonder if @g33k meant a game mechanic within the context of the convention scenario -- points accrued to determine a "winner" at the end of scenario play, or somesuch.  Most commonly, these are hidden goals that each pre-gen character is supposed to achieve by the end of the game.  These could be reflections of the write-up in the Ringworld rulebooks.

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia

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Kzin PCs would probably  benefit for  traits and passions, ported over from Pendragon or RQ4. They will help to give the PCs that sense of bloodthirstiness and  aggression that could work  for them.

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To paraphrase the expression "When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail." for a party of Kzinti, it would be, "When you have claws, everything looks like prey." or something like that.  I've got no concerns the players won't be able to act like young aggressive Kzinti.  

I own a copy of the fourth edition of Pendragon, though I've never played it (or any edition for that matter).  The idea of traits and passions always seemed like an interesting game mechanic.  I think the conflict for playing Kzinti would be holding back your aggression to avoid harming your puppeteer or human servant, to hold back attacking when negotiation is the better option, to do your part in a coordinated attack versus a 'scream and leap' and so on.  Though after all the Man-Kzin Wars only the more mellow Kzinti are still alive....

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