13 Sep An Interview with the Designer of Shadows Over Sol RPG – Now on Kickstarter!
Shadows Over Sol is a science fiction horror game. Two hundred years from now humanity has spread out throughout the solar system. Corporations and other groups wage small-scale wars in the streets or in space. Bioengineered horrors left over from these conflicts stalk the hulls of ruined stations and abandoned colonies.
Outside Earth (and maybe the major cities on Luna and Mars), space is still very much a frontier with a bit of a “wild west” lawlessness. With the default campaign parameters, the PCs are a team of “scarppers” who skirt the gray areas of the law collecting salvage from derelict space stations and doing odd jobs. You know, generally finding excuses to poke their noses into remote and dusty corners of space – places where they may stumble into bioengineered horrors, or run across black budget corp projects people don’t want them knowing about.
I’ve played dozens of RPG systems over the years: World of Darkness, Traveller, Savage Worlds, Rolemaster, GURPS, D&D, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, FATE, Eclipse Phase, Freemarket, Blue Planet, SAGA, Everway, Castle Falkenstein, the list goes on and on. There’s a lot I like about a lot of systems, but none of them really hit all the sweet spots for me.
We call the rules system we use Saga Machine. The core of it is the same system we published in our Against the Dark Yogi RPG. It is something I’ve been working on in various incarnations since about 2007 or so.
I’ve been making my own games for fun almost as long as I’ve been roleplaying. It’s something I enjoy. For years I’d design and write up games, and they’d just sit there. The barrier to entry in the RPG business was more than I could handle on my own.
But Kickstarter has afforded me the opportunity to finally publish my games. It’s a game-changer in the RPG business. I love it! And I’ve had some great reviews and feedback from the community.
Just getting started publishing games was probably the biggest challenge.
But also, I’ve learned a lot about game design over the years. I can look back on my first amateur games and see the ways that I’ve improved. That’s true with everything, but understanding the core of what makes a game fun very much a skill.
I’ve got lots and lots of notes and rough drafts of times. Wikipedia has been essential in researching different technologies and putting together the big picture.
Most of all I wanted a sci-fi future that feels real; that feels “lived in” and messy and complex, rather than just playing off the tropes that have been played out time and again in the genre.
It’s a hard sci-fi game that doesn’t go the transhumanist route. That itself is fairly rare among RPGs right now. But also, it’s a modern game with a modern view of the future. It’s easy to run, has lots of fun gear options for players, but everything has been carefully arranged so as to not break common horror plots. It’s also got some fun subsystems for engineering and hacking.
Check out the Kickstarter. At any pledge level you can get immediate access to the full text of the game, and see for yourself what you think of it!