Monday, November 14, 2016

Gaming Trisolaris

2016 MN State Fair Arts & Crafts Exposition

A couple weeks ago, I finished reading Cixin Liu's Remembrance of Earth's Past, better known as the Three-Body Problem or Trisolarian Trilogy. The trilogy has a huge fandom in China, at least one authorized sequel, and perhaps the most expansive future history since Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker. It's the best SF I've ever read, and so of course that makes me wonder aloud about how to make it gameable.

The system - that's pretty straightforward. I'd use Fate, and specifically the Diaspora rules, since they are already fine-tuned for hard SF such as Cixin Liu's trilogy. The Technology-Resources-Environment rating scales can be put to good use in the Trisolarian trilogy's universe.

Environment gets swingy in a system like Trisolaris, where prior to human contact, the system ratings alternate between E0 (garden world) and E-3 (barren world).

We also need some modifications to the T2-4 end of the Technology ratings.

Over the course of the novels, we see Trisolaris transitioning between T levels with respect to interstellar propulsion, from something like a T1 (exploiting the system, and generation ship capability) to T2 (light curvature propulsion by the third novel).

That being said, it is apparent from quite early on that some T4 technologies exist for the Trisolarians, such as sophons and the capability to block others' T-advancement through a sophon block.

Clusters are worth mapping purely as relationships rather than itineraries. Specifically, they become a way to map potential relations of power, including colonial relationships between different species in the dark forest. I suppose there need to be dark forest detection mechanics too.

Finally, what do the PCs do, and what are campaigns like? There are a lot of options here:
  • The PCs are Wallfacers, or in the retinue of a Wallfacer
  • The PCs are members of the ETO, another faction, a group of scientists, or even a spacecraft crew
  • The PCs are Trisolarians, members of a leadership faction or even a dissident group with greater empathy for the humans
  • A Trisolarian campaign should be episodic, with the plot being advanced thanks to time-hopping technologies such as hibernation (for humans), dessication facilities (for Trisolarians), or near lightspeed propulsion / time dilation as plot devices to advance the story.
  • As time advances through progressive eras, the GM should engage the entire group of players in mapping key features of the setting in each era.