In lieu of Futurama, I’ve been watching a lot of Red Dwarf via Netflix, one of my favorite television shows. Now I’ve got an urge to play an RPG with the setting - one based around the last known human being alive on an enormous deep space mining vessel.
Right then, for the sake of it, how would this work? I know that there was a Red Dwarf RPG released back in 2003, but I’d like to use something very rules light that I’m already more familiar with… X-Plorers seeks to be something OD&D would have been if it’d intended to be Sci-Fi based instead of Fantasy. That would work nicely, as would Terminal Space, which explicitly states that it’s a Sci-Fi supplement for OD&D. I could also use the original Traveller rules (I have the little black books and supplements). For the moment, I’d choose X-Plorers - I’d like to support a new publisher and the only reason I prefer it is that it’s in print. There’s something satisfying about holding a professionally printed game book, although I should mention that TS should be available soon on Lulu.com too.
The physical game setting is mostly aboard the mining vessel itself. The ship is so large that in episode 21, the character Rimmer (a holographic projection) takes a ten day holiday hike through the ship's combustion engines with two small robots as companions. A whole civilization evolved from a pregnant cat on board, ultimately abandoning ship in the midst of holy wars and in search of their god (Lister) and holy land. There’s also occasional run-ins with other space vehicles or bases and planets or asteroids. Smaller shuttle vehicles are used for exploration when these are encountered. The thing to keep in mind is that the human players (or one of them at least) was kept in stasis for three million years until a radioactive contamination of the ship was no longer dangerous. During this time, one might assume the entire human race had died out or evolved into something unrecognizable. Portions of the ship may have been inhabited by extraterrestrials for long periods (and maybe still are)… Or maybe there’s nothing out there anymore. There might be remnants of cat people lurking in distant recesses of the ship as primitive tribes. There’s always the possibility of time anomalies caused by spacial rifts and wormholes too.
One difficulty in using the setting would be the limited number of characters at the game start. In the show, there are only Dave Lister (the sole surviving human, and the lowest ranking member of the 400+ member crew), a descendant of his pet cat (now a semi-intelligent humanoid), and a holographic projection of Lister's bunkmate, known as Rimmer. Later in the series, they are joined by Kryten, a laundry robot, as well as by Kristine Kochanski, a former girlfriend of Lister. There’s also the ship’s artificially intelligent computer which is malfunctioning but still manages to navigate the ship and maintain most of its vital systems.
This is also what I like about the idea - that there are so few characters. As GM, I’d want to play the computer. Shades of Paranoia…
Though the ship’s computer (“Holly” in the show) and the one hologram character it can provide power for can’t die, the remaining PCs might snuff it at some point. The artificially intelligent robot can be rebuilt or replaced with backups. So really there’s only the one human and the cat-man. If the human character died, I might rule that he could be cloned or rebuilt by nanobots (in one episode, everyone on board was brought back to life this way.) For game purposes, I’d have this process take a certain amount of time (perhaps 100,000 years for example) so death would still have consequences. Or instead, technical complications and malfunctions mean only one new character can come out of stasis every so often. Other crew members might be able to be brought back to life as well, or perhaps the holographic character’s program becomes corrupted and the original is replaced with another crew member. If or when the cat died, I’d rule that his foreign physiology would prevent any resuscitation. Players wanting another cat-man would have to go find one running loose in the bowels of the ship somewhere.
Well, that about covers the basics. Red Dwarf fans out there? Anyone ever play Deep7’s Red Dwarf rpg?
Preparing to Descend
4 hours ago