A couple of days after the last D&D trip, Nick decided he wanted to roleplay “something futuristic”. Since the late 1970s I’ve felt that the main challenge in running SF games is that players lack the instinctive grasp of the setting which they soak up at the mothers’ knees for the mediaeval period thanks to fairy tales; so the first question was, what was the SF setting we jointly knew best? That turned out to be Stargate SG-1, so out came my Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition rulebook (never travel without it) and some dice.
This, you see, is the thing I like best about Savage Worlds; you can run it with almost no preparation at all. While Anna created Dr Benjamin Brightman, archaeologist with the Jack Of All Trades and McGyver edges (and that turns out to be a scarily effective combination), and Nick created The Captain (team leader, ace driver and pilot, who may someday get a name as well as a rank), I was musing on two things: The recurring enemy and the immediate plot.
Every SGC team needs their own unique recurring enemy. After a few minutes thought I settled on the Kafers, from the 2300AD RPG. These will give Nick something to shoot at, as they are implacable foes of humanity, and Anna something to puzzle over, namely why are they implacable foes of someone they’ve only just met? It was the work of seconds to file the serial numbers off Orcs, give them laser rifles and Barrett .50 rifles (described differently, of course), and determine that to mimic the well-known stupidity of Kafers at the start of each encounter, they should begin each combat Shaken until they recover. Job done.
As for a plot, well, 95% of all SF episodes begin with a response to a distress call. So I decided that SG-26 had gone missing some while back, but that now the village where they were last seen on a mediaeval-level world had been burned down and the inhabitants massacred.
Not just the first few sessions, you notice, but a complete campaign and characters created in less than half an hour. I love this game.
A quick Persuasion roll allowed them to take quadbikes through the stargate, to a planet looking like a stretch of Canadian forest (because they all do). A certain amount of thrashing around and significant casualties on both sides ensued. Nick quickly learned that Kafers are a problem easily solved with grenades and automatic weapons, so long as you lay the groundwork early; Anna is still puzzling over how they speak English and why they hate her so much.
Surprisingly, I found that giving the NPC team members a tag characteristic and a couple of edges, and placing them under the players’ control, gave them an almost instant, but genuine, emotional bond to said NPCs – there was genuine regret when the first couple died.
Dr Brightman also has the Arcane Background (Weird Science) edge, which Anna decided represents the half-understood Ancient devices he tinkers with; and that since he doesn’t really know what they do, we should determine their powers randomly when they’re first used. Surrounded by Kafers at the end of the second trip through the gate, she pressed the button, and a quick die roll gave us the Stun power in her first device, which was probably the best one for the job, as it set them up nicely for the NPC team members to shoot.
The party are now resting up while they recover from their wounds, as they still haven’t recovered the missing team (although they suspect that the Kafers have something to do with it). In the next session they should meet Giulia’s character – she has of course created a “furry”, which gives the team what I consider to be the optimum genre trope for its membership: One warrior/team leader, one scientist, one honourable good-guy alien and one expendable red shirt to show them how the monster works.