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Watching this first look at Mothership and craving a sci-fi ttrpg that isn't colonialist and really unsure how you even go about that, maintain the outer shell of sci-fi, and make a game that doesn't end up leaning overly uwu/let's all always be friends. Gotta think, I guess.
I haven't done a thread in a while. Let's talk out the theoretical non-colonialist sci-fi ttrpg narrative while I try to fall asleep and get me a little nap. Maybe we'll hit something.
So, some basics that need to get dropped from the traditional sci-fi narrative to make this possible.

-more options than just fight
-species from other planets can’t just be Star Trek-y
-species from other planets need variety
-you have to be able to learn and share culture
(Note: some players will need to learn what culture is and looks like first and that’s fine. Y’all will learn.)
The moment players become invested has to be outside of themselves and not self-centered. By that, I mean players are going to need to care about more than themselves and their survival/mission/whatever. That’s going to have to be baked into the system itself.
Horror can be done with this, I think, but it would have to be more existential. Less about the threat posed to you by the unknown and more, perhaps, about the threat you pose to what you’ve encountered? This needs more thought and I don’t know that I’m the one to do it.
Also, fuck colonies. Fuck planting your flag somewhere else and claiming you live there now. In part, that breaks space-based sci-fi and could be a problem for this theoretical game. Space stations over planets also feel kind of gross, as there’s some definite voyeurism there.
The Star Trek series and movies have a lot of this. The voyeurism, interfering with life, utterly disrupting and sometimes destroying life, and being forced to fight a culture you can’t wrap your head around are all decidedly part of the franchise.
The most obvious example of that last one are the Klingons, the Borg, and the plot twist of Star Trek Beyond. The Klingons are Just So Different and have a culture that centers around combat. The Borg on the other hand Cannot Be Understood By Humans (until they can).
Eventually, both get folded into the empire that is the United Federation of Planets in some form that’s incredibly Model Minority (see Worf and Seven of Nine). A lot of sci-fi repeats this without a lot of thought (including Starfinder and Stars Without Number).
I think there’s ways to show coming to an understanding without edging into this territory but I couldn’t make this alone. It’s very close to real world circumstances and history I don’t know personally and should be handled with care.
So what do I think could work in this theoretical rpg? Factions, possibly. Something that tracks how you’ve interacted with others, who they know, and how they feel which follows you. Something where the journey is the goal. Combat as a clear last resort, not a first tool.
Naturally occurring resources probably shouldn’t be scarce or need something other than combat and theft to gain them. I feel like communication and barter would be big in this. Running away has to be an option that is always viable; fighting cannot be viable every time.
Like I mentioned earlier in the thread, you’ve got to care about something other than yourself, and by extension humanity. The easy answer is to make a naturally occurring, slow, unstoppable threat but, well, that’s the easy answer.
People need motivations. Civilizations need something overarching that continues to hold them together (or is slowly driving them apart). People need a purpose. It has to be clear and guiding. It needs to feel real.
It’s possible that what’s needed here is there needs to not be any baked-in othering, but what does that even look like? To me right now, that’s a utopia I’ve never seen before and I don’t know how to portray it. The closest I can think of is maybe broadly Mass Effect.
That’s not to say othering doesn’t and can’t exist, just that it isn’t a blanket us v them scenario. Othering, in some way, shape, or form, will always exist in a setting where human are involved and people look different enough.
The other alternative is that you focus in closely on humanity and the game becomes about struggling to communicate with those you meet. Some exploratory that’s less Lewis & Clark and more road trip maybe?
I’m starting to get tired so I’m gonna check out of this thread for now and come back later.

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