Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 148: Worldbuilding and Themes for Setting

Main Topic

In the last episode we let you in on what we are doing this season. We all pitched a setting . . . and then we came to the conclusion that they all had a place in this season’s setting! To recap:  The setting is an Ark Ship that had left early from its dock ahead of a catastrophe of some sort. In doing so, it didn’t have all the supplies it would need and was carrying full gene lines for every creature that was left on the home world. But the shielding on the ship isn’t complete, Resources are needed to manage the potential mutations for the crew and their descendants as well the normal repairs needed for the ship. Will whatever finally finds a new home be human, something we would recognize as human, or whole new creatures once the journey is over? 

Now we are going to dive into the major themes for the season. This will also help to direct the type and way we are going to look at worldbuilding. One significant impact on the themes is that a Savage Worlds engine encourages pulpy game play and results, so more Buck Rogers than Space: Above and Beyond from the mechanical system. 


The themes we think are going to be present are as follows:

Desperation – The ship is going to get to the new world but will the people be ok and will the seeds of life brought with them be viable? What tradeoffs will be needed?  

Scarcity – Things on the ship are in a state of decline. The ability to repair things is present but the parts are starting to run out. What do you do to find new ways to repair items? What sort of partial successes are you open to? 

Exploration – As different environments on the ship and on other worlds are encountered, the sense of wonder and “what is over the hill” should be used. It isn’t a horror game so a sense of hope has to be available and can best be found in something “new”. 


Technology Level – Part of any Sci-Fi setting is the technology level – while lacking a “warp” drive of some sort, planetary exploration or at least asteroid exploration means some level of advanced travel or a highly “messy” area of space. 

Because a post-apocalyptic setting makes much story potential out of the character choices in the face of limitations, the technology has to be recognizably limited but also advanced enough to build out the world. Will this be more of a steampunk creaking corridor and venting pipes sort of tech or a cleaner, if still malfunctioning, stream of lights?

Density – How often would new planets or biomes be encountered? Should it be built around one per session, per arc, or per campaign? How frequently should the players encounter something they don’t have the answer for? Are there other lifeforms out there? 

Closing remarks 

    Zendead – Let’s Summon Demons Ok I am not a board game person but this game is so fun. I played like 10 times over 2 days with my wife. We got so into it we want to try the other ones in the series. 

    Guard-a-Manger – Defiance. Sci-Fi Channel’s show with an MMORPG tie-in was an example of a unique world and great worldbuilding across multiple platforms that fits a lot of the themes for our world. I may be using this as inspiration as we look at aliens, scarcity, wonder, and hope in a world that is left shattered by the past. 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

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