[Mars Colony] A Game of Thrones, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

Started by juliusz, July 31, 2011, 04:33:18 PM

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Sorry it took so long, Tim - I've been adventuring in the cruel world of academia.

So, the story is, we spontaneously hacked Mars Colony, and I thought that maybe it's not a bad idea to share some thoughts about the whole process.

Case 1: A Game of Thrones.

Played this somewhere in June. Unfortunately, all notes were left at the other player's house, so my reconstruction will be painfully incomplete.

Instead of Kelly you get Hand of the King. In our game it was Eddard Stark, but we don't see it as a necessary condition. For organisations, we had King's Council, dangers from outside the Seven Kingdoms (as Earth Coalition) (incl. Mance Ryder, Khal Drogo, etc.). The whole frame took about 1.5 hour to be developed, which is quite long - but IMO only because we were doing some seriously geeky googling here.

My Ned did pretty good, overall - solved two Health Markers (and the third one was at 20+), avoided The Biggest Spoiler Of The First Book, suppressed the civil war, confiscated Greyjoy's and Lannister's treasures, and even all Starks managed to survive. This all didn't help the poor Ned himself, who liked being the Hand a little bit too much - we leave him working as a kind of Robert's grey eminence, with his hand always on the Iron Throne, his eyes dead and icy, his only pleasure being power and looking into the far, cold sea waves.

Case 2: Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri.

We decided to start at the moment in the game where the colonisation is developed (the Planetary Council exists, and both humanity and the planet are closer and closer to Transcendence).

Our Saviour was Cha Dawn (the child-prophet from the Alien Crossfire), found in the fungus by Colonel Santiago (his relation). Oh, and emanation of the planet, too.

Fear Cards: Planet Busters, Nerve Stapling, lack of privacy, mind control, isolationism (in the artificial worlds), suppressing progress in science.

Factions: Spartan Federation (fringe), Human Hive (dominant), University of Planet (minority), Gaia's Stepdaughters (minority).

Colony Organisations (some left unspecified, except their faction):
- Governor's Office [The Mayor's Office]: Mayor, Chief of Staff, Deputy: Sein-Yi Yang, Chief of Security: Colonel Santiago
- The Colony Council: Prokhov Zakharov, 2x Hive, 1x University, 1x Gaia
-  Morgan HoloVision [New Network Corp.]: Network Chief - Nwambudike Morgan, 1x Gaia, Hive, University
- UN Charter [The Earth Coalition]: Pravin Lahl, Lady Deirdre Skye, rest for Hive

Health markers: drone, withdrawal from the society, transcendence (planet seeing what's going on and not liking it).

In fiction: lots of fun with Hive, mind worms, Santiago playing Mishima, pro-ecology riots, and more.
Cha finished the game with 20, 20, 43, so we decided that he will be remembered as a governor better that Yang - and that's all; his eyes close precisely when alien ships land on the planet.

1. Hacking Mars Colony is easy and fun.
2. Both games were totally spontaneous.
3. Things to do in a hack: deciding
- who is Saviour?
- what are the factions?
- what is the government (that is, the four ready-made structures from the game)
- deciding the Threats and developing the Colour of the game
Obviously, most of these is just a normal setup.

Two things come to my mind here:
4. It might be good to play with Fear Cards. In the Alpha Centauri game, for example, we scribbled down three things we are afraid of from our posthuman overlords, instead of our actual government.
5. How important is the fact that the Saviour is a member of the political party?  RAW, s/he should. In these two games, neither Ned nor Cha belonged to the party. It seems to me that it has potentially huge impact on the game, for Governor has more ways to challenge Saviour - his\er party being kind of a mirror reflecting his\er actions.

Comments and questions are welcome.

Tim C Koppang

Game hacks are especially interesting to me because, when I'm designing a game, I always have a very specific setting in mind.  While at first disorienting to think about others playing the game with a different setting, I must admit that I flattered to think you took the time to make it all work.  I will also note that both Hero's Banner and Mars Colony have now been used to play Game of Thrones.  George R. R. Martin fans rejoice.  (Although I say you had way too little death to really be a Game of Thrones experience.)

I'm less familiar with Alpha Centauri.  My good fried Mike was always the Sid Meier fan, so I'll have to have him take a look.  But I can certainly relate more readily to the sci-fi trappings.

Now for some specific comments:

As you mentioned, it looks like in both games you made Fear Cards more about what you feared within the setting you chose.  I can see that working, especially if it helps orient both players to the new setting.  You probably lose some political inspiration, but trade it for some setting-specific inspiration.  Nonetheless, I like how your Alpha Centauri Fear Cars, while more typically sci-fi, are also very relevant to modern day (e.g., lack of privacy, scientific progress, and even perhaps mind control).  How did that work for you?

Responding to your Number 5, I'm not sure I follow.  Do you mean that the Savior is a member of *any* political party, or just the dominant party?  Overall, I agree that whatever party the Savior is a member of will become a source of conflict in the game.  If she's part of the dominant party, then rebels attack (or whatever).  If she's part of the fringe party, then the establishment sabotages her.  Etc.  In my experience, opposition scenes are often driven by political allegiances.