From Malcolm Sheppard, who has experience with splat design: The Elements of RPG Splat Design (circa 2009)
“But if the splat is hyperfocused on its pickup role it’ll lack depth. All the fighter guys have their fighter meetings and talk about how great fighting is. A splat needs more to flesh out its internal culture.”
I’ve been talking at length with a friend, and got some insightful feedback.
* My setting carries and 90s aesthetic to the point that some of the built-in conflicts – e.g. the freaks vs the Corporation a la cyberpunk – seem dated in the modern era, or indeed would have seemed dated in 2002.
Oddly, this counts as a half-success. My work does pull from nostalgic memories from the late 90s/early 00s of certain fragments of subculture that I’m reconstituting in zero-g. And yet, I still want to go for retro and relevant, rather that purely a throwback. More balancing to be done.
* It’s a given that spacerpunks are generally part of the fringe of this society. But why? There is the natural youthful impulse to rebel and find your own path, but there needs to be more motivation than tourism to get someone to risk their life for life with a hopeless ship and a feckless crew.
* I’ve tried to put shards of existing pop-culture into the various splats, scrapbook-like. However: there’s simply more of it than I can handle, and trying to port all the fun parts of pop-culture into the game is both subjective and doomed.
* By design, I’ve tried to let all the setting content of the game be generated through play and oracles. The universe is a decentralized network of islands.
As a side-effect of this and/or my nostalgic punk influences: the game has a decidedly suburban bent! In a decentralized world, there isn’t necessarily a Core to which all are drawn, and the lack of that blocks out some stories. I’m not yet sure if this is okay, or if I want to create a canonical equivalent of “the City” to which spacers are drawn. (Then again: worlds are created randomly, and we can let a hub emerge organically.)
Setting design is hard.