Thursday, 5 August 2021

Mud and Lasers

One of the games being proposed for the next club rotation is Lancer which I had thought was just a wargame albeit in Warhammer style. It is perfectly possible for a wargame to overlap with a roleplaying game but I suspect that more accurately it would be better if both forms of gaming were drawn from a common narrative. The proliferate novels in the Warhammer series are a good example of how narrative is laid down one strata at a time over decades to eventually form a deep archaeology from which culture and warfare can be created serving both role playing and tabletop gaming respectively. Whilst there is some inconsistency in the Warhammer lineage due to the many authors, the timespan over the narrative is so vast that it seems that the contradictions are a matter for historians rather then GMs which enriches the interpretation of events rather than frustrate them.

Tolkien is similar as its spawned both a gaming franchise as well as an RPG, it just so happens that it was crafted by someone doing the work of a hundred authors - a lifetimes work. Basically, as with all things, quality is in the detail and Lancer has the challenge of being a Kickstarter which naturally has to solve a lack of lineage. In the first instance it focuses on a rules light approach and narrative, modular  advancement which makes the game quickly accessible and is a must for a kickstarter. Its play canters around Mech warfare which has its audience in Warhammer, Heavy Gear/Jovian Chronicles, Shadow of the Demon Lord and the like.

But where do you get your culture from when you are a kickstarter? Well the simple answer is to pick and mix from an already vintaged sci-fi stock. This has never really occurred to me before - as a SciFi fan I am already aware of the vast number of stories that are as yet untapped by the movie and TV industries but Lancer simply pulls suitable elements from already notable works and makes no bones about it; to quote

"Lancer draws thematic inspiration from various media: The lived-in, cosmopolitan, working class CRT retrofuture of Aliens, Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Akira, and Cowboy Bebop; the science fantasy of Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos, Bungie’s Destiny, Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, Moebius’s The World of Edena and Arzach, and Anne Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy; the soldiers-on-campaign tension of The Thin Red Line, Band of Brothers, and Platoon; and the subjectivity-fraying uncanny of Tarkovsky's Stalker, Cronenberg’s Videodrome, and Evangelion’s Angels."

Blending concepts together is an excellent method for world building but like all pick and mix, shovelling too many sweets in to the bag tends to mix gummy bears with chocolate so there is a need to be a little sensitive to the pallet before players end up vomiting over one other .

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