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Words from the Wise (Guys)

An Editorial Rant.


To the fifteenth issue of The Guild Companion.

When Nicholas contacted me asking to write this editorial, I had just received Spacemaster:Privateers and was assembling materials, ideas, and adventure plots for my new science fiction campaign. As usual, in the first stage of creation, my struggle for perfection was titanic. I gathered NASA pictures of Solar System, videos of starship battles, I even considered writing a software simulating a starship console, all in the name of accuracy.

Last week though, I gave a lecture on fractals at the Starfleet Academy of Rome...

The Starfleet Academy

The Starfleet Academy is a live RPG where players impersonate the cadets of Star Trek's Starfleet Academy. Academy teachers, on the other hand are played by Gamemasters. Once a week people gather to follow lessons about physics, history (Federation history, obviously), tactics, law, technology and all other subjects a Starfleet officer is supposed to know. Teachers really teach and cadets really study what they are taught, nevertheless everybody is having fun.

It was not the first time that I have roleplayed live, but it was surely the first time I roleplayed something as "dull" as a lecture, however I enjoyed it very much. (You should have seen those scared faces: "Do we really have to learn these things?").

Why did I enjoy the evening so much? It was short but intense, I didn't act as a Starfleet officer, I felt I was one. Adventure, mystery, violence were not present at all, yet it was a great gaming experience.

Historical Settings

So I decided to share the experience with my usual fellow players.

I devised a series of scenarios set in various historical periods. They put the emphasis on recreating characters' feelings, not their reactions to events. Below are some examples of the few scenarios we played.

  • A monk has arrived in your village, telling stories about his god and how he died to save mankind. You have never met him before but his reputation precedes him, his name is Patrick.

  • Your father has finally come back from his long voyage. He followed the river to the sea. He tells you of strange lands where the snow is rarely seen. He tells you of the golden city, the capital of the empire where there are more people than trees in a forest and he tells you of the Emperor, who hired all the men of your tribe as mercenaries to reconquer the Western regions his ancestors lost. You will soon know his generals, Narses and Belisarius.

  • Lorenzo writes to you about the Donation of Constantine. "There is evidence", he says "it is a fake". An interesting discovery with many political ramifications. Unfortunately your research of the Philosophers' Stone can't wait; you put down his letter and hastily return to your laboratory.

Unexpected Results

We had a lot of fun playing those scenarios. We spent some great evenings looking at history flowing before our eyes, watching with the eyes of a contemporary, rather than a fantasy hero.

The most unexpected feeling was with magic. We really felt magic existed, not because we were in a fantasy world where real world physics didn't work, but because magic was all people had to explain the world in those times.

I'm still gathering stuff for my new SF campaign, but I have decided I can wait for all the supplemental material that should come out before the summer. In the meantime, I know what to do.

Farewell (for now ...)

Enough ranting for this column, I could continue endlessly on other topics but I suspect I would be ambushed again, this time with serious consequences.
Next issue will be published in June 2000, until then, as someone else often says,
Keep gaming and have fun!

Paolo Angelini,
Assistant Editor

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