Coriolis Wednesdays

We’re finally starting Coriolis, and as is my habit when I run things, imma write about it. It’s a useful process for hammering stuff into my thick skull and processing the experience.

Being fairly centered in the new-wave trad universe, the game required our first session be all about making our characters and talking about them. Several weeks ago, one of the players had skimmed the PDF and thought the explorer crew type sounded neat, and I’m in the mood to do some heavy GM lifting right now, so we went that way.

The game is super smart about funneling the players into one of several very fruitful and distinctive campaign types. We chose explorers but there’s also free traders, agents, mercenaries, and pilgrims, with subsets within those as well. Besides pointing the players toward suitable character classes (there are 10 or 11, of which just a few are nice, tight fits), the crew type also grants everyone a Crew Talent. Ours chose “truth seekers,” which kind of is like the Gumshoe thing where, if you need a clue to get through something, you just get it. Once per session, and the GM gets paid a Darkness Point, and I think that’s kind of nifty.

My three players chose, let’s see…a trailblazer (scout), a ship hand (engineer) and a scientist (archaeologist). Ships have five roles that can be filled for the ship combat bit, so we invented a husband/wife NPC team to join them, which is cool because then I get to kinda-sorta participate as well. 🙂

Something cool I got to do was roll out my “Coriolis in 10 minutes” pitch. It is a very elaborate setting and the on-ramp is just impossibly long, despite the rulebook’s best efforts. Really it’s again a very traddy setup: long sloggy on-ramp for the GM, who is then responsible for picking out the bits they find interesting. I tried to frame up the explanation from a local’s POV, kind of eliding the deep history stuff most non-academics might not really even know or care about it. I mean there’s like a thousand effing years of history from the very first launch of the Zenith and Nadir, with a bunch of wars and dark ages and other stuff between then and now. Really I think most folks are going to know and care about “the new era” of the setting, the arrival of the generation ships and the big cultural upheaval.

I have no sense of how Middle Eastern-y folks are feeling about thing so far. It’s hard to get past the Islamic there is no god but God tropes, which did not surprise or worry me. As Paul Czege mentioned, futuristic polytheism is hard to swallow.

The funnest bit of setup I thought was having folks talk about their personal space on their ship (an Orxy class medium freighter, decked out for hauling stuff fast and maybe not getting blown out of the black doing it). That gave us a chance to talk about their relationships, why they’re on the crew (my lone wolf player built another lone wolf and I always want to take time working out what’s keeping that kind of character around and engaged), their religious practice.

First session will be, I think, next week. But I’ll have just gotten back from NewMexicon so I might be fried, dunno. If I’m not, MadJay Brown and Ralph Mazza maybe will play the husband and wife NPCs!

14 thoughts on “Coriolis Wednesdays

  1. One of my players is taking on the hard work of running Masks, which was going to be my next game, which means I think I’m going to be hitting Coriolis next. I’m eager to see if I can run this effectively, since my trad muscles are so out of shape.

  2. There’s just something delicious about committing the bandwidth to the effort. Building a grabby setting is way harder than I think most gamers really understand, and it’s a whole zone of engagement that the indie world has left behind. Maybe not “left behind.” More…hasn’t gotten to get back to because the fashion now is collaboration.

  3. I do love the guided group and character creation. That was something we definitely felt the lack of in Uncharted Worlds. I feel like 90% of games would be improved by a “let’s talk about why your characters aren’t going to stab each other in the night and make off with all the loot” step in character creation. The other 10% are the games specifically about that.

  4. My favorite bit of the game is deciding “what” kind of campaign people are getting into from the get-go and making it part of character gen. It does make it very trad in the sense of session one will be character gen only as the GM can’t really have anything up the sleeve to go with.

    You could always go super sandboxy and see what happens, but as you mentioned the on-ramp is steep with this one. As a GM, I would want a few days to digest the direction the players wish to go first.

  5. As you get into this in time, I’ll be very curious to get your sense of how setting material is handled, and whether the game is even usable if you tweak or overhaul the baked-in setting too much. I know some folks who are not entirely comfortable with what looks to them at first glance like cultural appropriation (but I personally don’t know enough about the game or the people behind it yet to have a strong opinion).

  6. Jason Tocci I don’t see the appropriation at all. It’s got some art trappings, but the religious stuff is, at best, tapping into stuff that’s a couple thousand years old.

    There’s probably a larger appropriation conversation worth having but I’m super leery of that charge getting thrown around as readily as it does.

  7. Paul Beakley Yeah, I’m definitely in the “I’m ignorant of this but interested in listening” department with that kind of thing, so I hope that didn’t come across as an accusation from me. This does look like a space RPG where the setting actually matters in the system (as opposed to something that looks like Star Wars or Mass Effect if you squint hard enough), so I’m extra curious about the setting and wary about just dismissing it.

  8. Jason Tocci totally cool. It’s just a … very frustrating conversation to have mostly because the alt-right/anti-sjw crowd rips into any and all talk of cultural appropriation, which makes any criticism or pushback sound like you’re coming from that place. It’s a really hard conversation and I feel like it’s frequently not engaged with in good faith, you know? By either side. It’s a scoring opportunity.

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