Blue Light is a space opera RPG I've been creating in my head for a while. I figure I should start creating it on my blog instead and invite comments from whoever can be arsed to read it.
The title is a joke on what most technology in sci-fi movies and tv-shows appears to be based on: blue light. Starships create propulsion by firing blue light out the back. Weapons kill you by zapping you with rays of blue light. Medical technology heals you by bathing you in blue light. Blue light is all over the place.
One of the things that led me to start thinking about this system is how space opera characters appear to know how to do absolutely everything - they're rarely stopped by a lack of understanding how to use some relatively common item. If I were being chased by a pack of zombies and I saw a van parked with the key in the ignition, I wouldn't jump in the van and flee in that because I don't know how to drive. This kind of thing isn't usually an issue for space opera characters: If there's a convenient getaway vehicle standing around, they'll jump in and speed away because they know how to operate it. Even if it's a spaceship and they've spent their entire lives up to this point on a farm in the middle of a flipping desert and have never been near a spaceship let alone operated one.
I guess the controls on these high-tech thingies are just really intuitive.
Anyway, in most RPG's with a skill system, players will specialize and choose only the skills that are core to their character's concept which will typically limit the kinds of actions that they're able to perform.
In Blue Light, therefore, there won't be skills as such. Instead, there'll be Attributes, basic abilities that everyone has a rating in, and Specialties, narrower applications of an Attribute that they're particularly good at.
All actions will be based on rolling against an Attribute. With just an average level of ability, you'll have a pretty good chance of success. With a Specialty, your chance of success will be even better but it will never be a requirement for success.
Just for the record: I'm not writing the above to slag off other RPGs. I think the skills systems make perfect sense in most genres. It's just that in a more light-hearted, free-wheeling space opera game, I think this is a good fit.
Right, the other idea that's pretty fundamental here (although not, strictly speaking a part of the system per se) is the campaign map - a simple tool I've come up with to help the GM create a short but epic campaign ad take it from start to finish and adapt it to the PCs' choices and successes or failures.
And lastly, the other other idea is the setting or, if you will, the lack of one. I want to make it clear that the PCs not only can irrevocably change the setting - they're expected to do so. Bring down the Evil Empire. Expose the Sinister Consiracy. End the War. At the end of your campaign, the setting will have been altered, hopefully for the better. That's tough to do if you have a ton of setting material that becomes effectively invalidated if you allow the setting to be drastically altered. Instead, the universe is detailed in the sketchiest possible way and there'll be a way of creating a few details for the places that the PCs actually see. And a system for helping the GM come up with a new evil for the PCs to defeat and tie it into the campaign map mentioned above.
I think that's the basic ideas and concepts right there. I'll start getting into actual mechanics in my next posts.