Starblazer is an excellent game, no doubt about that, but it’s also somewhat unwieldy. It’s the Arcturan MegaTome of RPG books rivalled, perhaps, only by HERO. That said it’s a fantastic toolkit for putting together your own games and it, and Legends of Anglerre, are my go-to resources when doing something with FATE. The incarnation of it I like best and the one I tore into little pieces and then reassembled to make Agents of SWING.
Another FATE project I’ve alluded to, apart from the pulp SF one, is a half-joke. The title of this post is the ‘working title’ if you will but it only really exists as scattered ideas and notes on the back of a napkin. (This is the state that most of my 100+ item to-do list exists in most of the time, I have – like – a lifetime of work I’m never going to get around to doing, I tell ya).
If Starblazer is Rock’n’Roll Space Opera then, asks my brain, what would a Heavy Metal space opera look like? The obvious answer is Heavy Metal or Heavy Metal 2000 but that’s to sell it short I reckon. Those might be the obvious sources, themselves drawn from the pages of Heavy Metal magazine (Metal Hurlant) but there’s so many, many other sources you can look to. Lobo, RanXerox, album art and the artists who made it.
What defines the sources we can draw on for such a genre and what might it look like?
- Sleaze – Wherever you go in the universe, people are sleazy and tend to have dark motives. People are trying to survive.
- Brutality – Fights are nasty, brutal, life is cheap.
- Male Oriented – Heavy Metal is unabashedly male-oriented in imagery, style and its pandering to adolescent power/destruction/sex fantasies.
- Sex – Speaking of sex, even aliens are susceptible to it.
- Evil – Even the ‘good guys’ can be pretty awful. The bad guys have to be total, total bastards beyond redemption or some ultimate cosmic evil.
- Shock – Sex, drugs, death, the depictions of things in Heavy Metal whether lyrically or otherwise tend to be pretty OTT with no pause or regard given to the sensibilities of others.
- Anti-Authoritarian – Damn the man.
- Drugs are Cool – Or if not cool, at least important/an experience/a motivation.
- Badass – Anyone remotely important is a badass and so they should be.
- Magic/Horror/Mysticism – In any Heavy Metal space opera, magic, horror and mysticism need to play as strong a role as the sci-fi elements (this is where my personal taste starts to diverge from the genre).
If I did have time to write this, how would I go about it? Would I kitbash the rules or just make a style/universe guide for use with Starblazer? I don’t think I’d be able to resist a similar simplification to what I did with SWING, though some things would have to work differently to that. I’d definitely keep the ‘attacker defines the consequence’ change I made, do something to make melee combat as important as ranged. Probably some work to make different weapons and their special effects stand out more. The key would be the presentation though, the key to such a game would be to invoke and inspire the right kinds of adventures and ideas.
To be honest I’m not sure if such a project has legs any more. I’m heartened by the success of games like Lamentations of the Flame Princess
but is there even much of a metal ‘scene’ any more? I know there’s some tongue in cheek and retro things going on, Black Metal etc bumbles along as it ever has but would a ‘metal theme’ just hopelessly date the already somewhat dated image of gaming even further? It’s a puzzler, much as I’d love an excuse to fill a book with heavy metal pinups.
What do YOU think?