Saturday, April 25, 2009

When is a dungeon not a dungeon?

Groknard's review of an old gaming magazine involves a scenario for Star Trek that's little more than a routine dungeon crawl wrapped in a space suit. That begs the question of how interchangeable rpg elements are. After all, couldn't it be argued that Orcs, Elves and Drow just pseudo-medieval analogs of Klignons, Vulcans and Romulans? How easy and desirable is it to transpose the typical fantasy adventure to a sf setting?

Take, for example, generic sourcebooks like Flying Buffalo's Citybook series. They're intended for use in a standard fantasy setting, but I've always thought that, mutatis mutandis, they would serve equally well as material for a space-opera campaign. "Monsters" become "aliens", "wizards" become "espers", you get the idea. The same goes for the typical dungeon. There are countless fantasy dungeons out there that could be easily redesigned as sf adventures. They could be the ruins of an ancient and powerful alien species, or the deserted base of visitors from afar. Furthermore, it doesn't have to be set underground. It could be an abandoned space station, a derelict hulk, or a mysterious asteroid. There are many possibilities.

Granted, you probably wouldn't want to base an entire campaign on this kind of thing, but it would be fun as an occasional episode. At the very least they would make entertaining settings for one-off adventures, like the OVAs in Mekton Z.

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