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“Hacking” Burning Empires to Diaspora

July 12, 2012

Myself (Mark Richardson) and my best friend (Phil Brown) got together last summer (2011) to put together what could only be described as our dream RPG. Both fans of epic stories and science fiction we wanted to tell a sweeping epic of galactic human civilizations and alien first contact but not use a pre-canned setting. The problem we found was finding an RPG system that we were both interested in applying to our idea. We wanted a system that was detail oriented and we also wanted a system that allowed more empowerment to the players, a feature of the more recent “Indy” style games.

We came across at this time a great game called Burning Empires (BE) written by Luke Crane of Burning Wheel fame. We both fell in love with the core mechanics, detailed character life paths and how the game was centred around the movers and shakers of the game world. The problem was that for our purpose BE was very setting locked on a single planetary body using a GM vs. PC mechanic for alien invasion which were not elements we wanted to explore.  But what to do? BE seemed like the perfect solution, well almost.

Enter Diaspora, also a great stand alone game written by b.murray, c.w.marshall, t.dyke and b.kerr. Diaspora was a very open system that centred around a co-operative method of building systems to craft unique galaxies for the players to explore. It also gave a great idea of Slipstreams (wormholes) that allowed us to physically cap the “size” of our game universe.

What followed were a series of discussions and problem solving sessions where we cracked skulls to figure out how to “Hack” Burning Empires with Diaspora to create one unique game that would not only work but feel right. It took a staggering amount of time, neither of us had any idea what we were in for but in the end we succeeded in creating our own gigantic space opera universe with all the crunch of the Burning Wheel.

Our campaign is titled Burning Empires: 5th Contact and this blog is dedicated (for now) to showing how we “Hacked” two great games into our own little bastard. It’s my hope that in the following entries you will get some neat ideas that could easily be ported into your own Burning Empires or Diaspora games or even to use our “Hack” as it stands. To get things started my next post isn’t going to talk about the system but more the background we lashed together for our setting. The setting and the system are tied so intricately together it seems like the logical place to start this discussion.

As an aside core mechanics will not be copied into this blog  as I’d like to encourage you to check out these great rpgs, but I’ll place page references to the books so if you own them you can follow along.

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