7/23/2018

Eye of the Galaxy

Those who follow my (dozens of) projects with any closeness probably recall one of my long-simmering favorites: a swashbuckling, satiric space-opera where the PCs are journalists for a galaxy-wide media empire in the midst of a space-opera equivalent of the Hearst-Pulitzer days fused to Google via Lemmon & Matthau in The Front Page and echoing my fascination with investigative journalism from Nelly Bly to Hunter S. Thompson and (of course) a bit of Ford Prefect for good measure.

The early test-sessions went so effing well. They were each little powder-kegs of roleplaying awesome, and the players in each run had an obviously-joyful attachment to their characters.

The whole thing was frothy and ridiculous, pulpy and unlikely, and more than occasionally heroic despite itself. The motto Get The Story, Don't Become the Story (the refrain of Max, the PCs' editor and resident fountain of MacGuffins) became the tagline of the whole shebang (because it never worked out that way, making it feel just as much Dirty Pair as Hitchhiker's), and the resulting book - a concentrated dose of Risus world-building that would also provide the necessary context for one of the kick-modules - started to coalesce into something I was stoked about.

But then, 2016 happened. And it just felt wrong, writing about fun, pulpy journalists trotting around the galaxy as inadvertent folk-heroes trying to out-scoop their competitors. Every bit of solar wind drained from those sails, and I just couldn't even look at it for a year or so.

I sometimes say that my subconscious does most of the actual work, and when it's done, it tugs on my shirt-tail to start typing.

Sometime last year, that started happening very urgently on the space-journalists project. My subconscious had clearly been busy, because the book had morphed a bit while my conscious back was turned.

The original concept was a fusion: the state of journalism in the 1890s, 1960s and 1980s, told through a frothy space-opera lens. Should a lens even be frothy? Not the point; this one was.

The revised concept remains fusion: the state of journalism in the 1890s, 1960s, 1980s and today.

My original, despairing feeling was that this would flatten out the froth, take the joy from the game world just as the real world had become joyless.

But my subconscious, ever the contrarian (even moreso than regular me) was like NO WAY CONSCIOUS S. JOHN, IT JUST MAKES THE HEROIC PARTS A LITTLE BIT MORE HEROIC. Plus less about paper-to-paper competition and more about journalism as a dysfunctional but well-meaning family.

And I was like "Oh."

"Oh."

"YEAH."

So, for those keeping track, Risus has that worldbook back on track, and it's better than it would have been.

Not the Real Logo, But I Like Having a Placeholder To Look At

If Eye of the Galaxy feels like something you might want to blindtest when the time comes, drop me a line and tell me about your group!