Posted in: Role Playing Games, Science Fiction

#RPGaDay2021 Day 20: Foundation

Day 20: Foundation

I love science fiction stories. They are the ultimate “What If” types of stories that still fit into the realm of possibilities. Where as a fantasy story has elements of things that would not exist (elves, dragons, magic, etc.), science fiction seems to be a story that could happen in our future (or even modern day). Not to say that fantasy stories are any less enjoyable, I just recognize the differences between the two closely aligned genres.

One book series that I have really enjoyed was The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov. A good story and presentation will have me give high marks to an artistic work. But another of the indicators that I enjoyed a book/television show/movie/comic/etc. is if I think about what it would be like to participate in a role playing game based off of the source material. Even a bad movie like Battlefield Earth gave me RPG ideas afterwards. I remember getting RPG urges from Stargate SG-1 episodes just because of how well the stories and concepts were presented.

The Foundation Series had a very interesting concept that I wondered if it could be placed in a role playing game. Hari Seldon came up with a concept called Psychohistory in which he uses mathematical concepts to predict the future events of large populations. It couldn’t tell if someone was going to win the lottery, but it could predict what would happen to a galaxy spanning civilization over the course of decades and millenniums. The results were not good as it predicted the fall of the Galactic Empire and 30,000 years of barbarism. This, of course, didn’t sit well with the current ruling class and they wanted to punish Seldon for it. Seldon convinces them that setting up a scientific colony, called The Foundation, would allow them to keep the knowledge of the universe safe from destruction and allow a second Galactic Empire to be set up in 1,000 years instead of 30,000. If you haven’t read the books, I would highly recommend them.

A universe where a giant empire has fractured into many different small governments, all competing for resources and lost knowledge is a universe begging to be used in an RPG. Can the remains of the empire regain the power it once had? Can smaller governments protect their citizens from barbarians? What happens when a scientific colony developing new technologies is discovered?

Portions of the stories jump by several decades (to show the effects of the predictions), so a direct translation from book to RPG may not be feasible. But the core concepts could be quite enjoyable in a space opera role playing game.

I understand that one of the streaming services that I don’t subscribe to is making a television series based off of the Foundation books. I don’t know how I’m going to see it as I’m currently maxed out on the number of paid subscriptions that I have now. I wonder how they will keep the audience interested in characters that are only in a portion of the books. This is one of those “Please Don’t Suck” wishes that fans often have when a show is based off of a popular intellectual property.

Final Thoughts:

This group of suggestions started edging back into the “Eh?” category where the terms were really broad in scope. I could see some posts about how to use an “Ally” in the game. “Lineage” could be useful in a Klingon based campaign (or something similar). “Peace” drew a complete blank for me. Again because of how broad it was.

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