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Detailing and mapping SW planets....
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Barrataria
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Joined: 28 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 6:40 pm    Post subject: Detailing and mapping SW planets.... Reply with quote

So, SW is of course solidly in the space opera tradition of planets. Flash Gordon or whoever would visit the "ice planet", the "volcanic planet", the "desert planet", etc. That is what the planet gen system in the WEG books was supposed to generate, if you used it.

This technique is of course very handy for fiction purposes, since you only need to design whatever setting you want for your adventure/game. Maybe Tatooine had frozen polar regions, but even if so who cares? All the adventure happened in the deserty part. This gets a little silly (not a major concern with SW, but still) when you try to think through how a "jungle planet" would work, or a "plains" planet.

Other than terrestrial planets that seem to have multiple biospheres, like Naboo and Alderaan, how detailed do you make your SW planets? Just the bare minimum to make a platform for adventures you run? When I ran Traveller I would always make a world map up for any planet which would feature in play for more than a few scenes.

Do you stick to space opera monoworlds, and if not (or if so) how much, if any, mapping do you do for those worlds?
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Whill
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Location: Columbus, OHIO, USA, Earth, The Solar System, The Milky Way Galaxy

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I tend to just use film (and even some EU) planets as is and not question the science of these space opera monoworlds, I find that for terrestrial Goldilocks planets of my own device, I just can't resist making them extremely detailed and varied, like most habitable planets would be. I find that the more realistic it is, it helps me suspend disbelief and focus on the adventure at hand, and greatly minimizes the internal fear in the back of my mind that some player is going to criticize it (my own issue - it's actually never happened so far).

I not only map out the entire planet with all the terrain variations (at least on the continental level for the unimportant places), but I also plot out the entire star system with all the other orbits - star type, basic planet information, the moons for every planet, orbital asteroid fields, etc. I make use of the wonderful in-depth resource GURPS Space 4e, and a program that automates some aspects of the book's system creation system. I do handwave some details that are not within my scientific forte and of great interest to me, like global meteorological patterns but I still try to make it make some kind of basic sense with the terrain types. For one of my planets that has two somewhat original sentient species with many races, I even plotted out their biological ancestors' evolutionary migrational patterns over millions of years!
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Barrataria
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Joined: 28 Dec 2005
Posts: 295
Location: Republic of California

PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2015 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whill wrote:
While I tend to just use film (and even some EU) planets as is and not question the science of these space opera monoworlds, I find that for terrestrial Goldilocks planets of my own device, I just can't resist making them extremely detailed and varied, like most habitable planets would be. I find that the more realistic it is, it helps me suspend disbelief and focus on the adventure at hand, and greatly minimizes the internal fear in the back of my mind that some player is going to criticize it (my own issue - it's actually never happened so far).


As I said that's how I always thought of it too, but I've softened (and lazified ?)). I played in a Traveller-kinda planet-per-week game that used classic space opera, and it worked very well.

I suppose it does depend a lot on the intended play style. For a classic SW game or to replicate the movie style, planet-hopping really is part of the bundle. OTOH, when I prepared my Ancient Republic game I envisioned the knights operating on a distant world for a while, sort of like Beast Wars of Onderon. I used Muzara from the TotJ book, and although it was described as a world of grasslands, I mapped out a more varied landscape (actually adapted Ethengar from D&D's Known World).

I wonder if the structure of the SW films and cartoons has conditioned folks to just overlook the unreality of the worlds.
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