Making one game out of another game…
…is kinda weird when you think about it. Oh, and a dash of Star Trek to boot.
I picked up John Wick’s Blood and Honor a while ago. It’s a game of samurai tragedy using a very similar FATE-style system to his Houses of the Blooded game. Except that Blood and Honor is much more streamlined and places the emphasis on building the clan over the individual character. This is an exceedingly good idea and it comes out in the game in very interesting ways.
But I had the funniest thought as I was reading it the first time. The basic framework of Blood and Honor is actually a nearly perfect framework to build a Star Trek game on…
This is a weird thought at first — but it makes a lot of sense if you look at the actual game. Instead of the step where you choose a Daimyo – you create your ship’s captain. Then instead of a virtue, you choose a branch of service — are you Exploration, Science, Military, Diplomatic, etc. Many ships will have crew who fill multiple roles, but this allows you to focus on what types of missions you prioritize for the Federation. Instead of holdings – you have special parts of the ship (a holodeck, an armory). Choosing aspects works as well — except that instead of choosing three for your ship, you choose two (more on this later) AND the ship has the compulsory Aspect – “We Follow the Prime Directive.” Your ship also then chooses one thing and gains a bonus for that one thing that it is known for – it’s earned reputation. Finally, just like the Clan – everyone defines truths about the ship.
Next – in the making a character step, you make your crew member. Choose a duty on the ship (Chief Medical Officer, Tactical Officer, First Mate). Choose your virtues. Choose your aspects — this is a little different. Instead of choosing two aspects from your ships’ list, you choose one. The other aspect comes from a difference in being a Star Trek game — you also choose an aspect based on the type of alien you are. Humans get one aspect, Vulcans another, Andorians yet another… you get the idea. I think this fits with Star Trek well and I’ll explain a few of these thoughts as I wrap up. Advantages can be customized to the Star Trek style and you are good to go.
Now, here’s a few thoughts on all this. I’ll start with the alien aspect. It seems to me (and I’m a Trek fan but not a fanatic so I may need to defer to others here — but it seems to me…) that characters in Star Trek are often defined by their alien type. Warf is as much a Klingon as he is a Star Fleet Officer — and that tension defines his character as much as his individual personality (in many ways it can sometimes become a substitute) for his personality when resolving episodes. This is seen with the aliens in all Trek shows. And to take this further — I think the reason these mesh so well is that Star Trek crews ARE homogenous. Not entirely. Everyone on the ship has a personality – is an individual – but they are also very united by their place as members of Star Fleet. You don’t really get to be an officer of a Star Fleet ship without “buying in” to the ideals of Starfleet and the Federation. That said, it’s also the occasional “rogue” character who makes us realize this. And characters who do play a major part but buck the system (like Kirk) are often admired and derided in equal measure.
Now — one major difference is the whole “tragedy” part. Star Trek is generally an optimistic universe and tells optimistic stories. But not always. So it might be up to the GM and players to scale the level of tragedy. It’s not hard to do. Moreover, the whole, “one hit kill” thing with a katana? It makes perfect sense when applied to Phasers. They melt people. Also, let’s face it — violence at a personal level in Star Trek stories is often interspersed with bouts of banter — something easy to work into a story. You’ll get a lot more “injuries as tags” and a lot less outright death — but it’s totally playable. I haven’t really considered ship to ship combat yet but I’m sure it’s not too hard to work out.
So. There it is. My plan to convert a samurai tragedy game into a Star Trek game. Who knows if I’ll ever even run it — but I find these kinds of exercises keep the GM muscles working.
So tell me — what’s the last game you completely turned into something totally unrelated? I’d love to hear.