Friday, March 30, 2018

The Movies of BlackStar

BlackStar is the working name for my "Star Trek meets Cthulhu" game and the material I am writing for it that may (or may not) see the light of day as published material.
There is a lot that is going into this, including years of my mis-attempts at SciFi games over the last few decades.  But today I want to talk about the movie influences that have gone into this campaign/game/idea.

I am posting this as part of the "GM's Cut" RPG Blog Carnival hosted this month by Codex Anathema.



The Movies of BlackStar

BlackStar, at it's core, owes everything to the WhiteStar RPG, which owes a lot to Star Wars.  It was during my playing of White Star that Black Star was born out of a desire to add more horror to my game. I always want to add more horror to my games.   While I loved SciFi novels, SciFi movies are my favorite.

Here are some of the movies that are going into my BlackStar experience.

Star Wars (1977)
I have said it before that Star Wars (A New Hope) is the perfect Dungeons & Dragons movie.  We have a hero, a villain, a princess (who is also a hero), an old wizard, a rogue, an impenetrable fortress (the Death Star), war, magic (tell me to my face the Force is not magic) and a quest.  There are sword fights, monsters, and interesting locales. It is D&D in all but name.   They even meet the rogue in a bar!

Not only was it out at the same time (more or less) I discovered D&D. It became so much a part of my experiences as a kid that is hard to tease out where one influence begins and the other ends.
I loved everything Star Wars growing up too.    I still have a couple of Boba Fetts (one I had to save proof of purchases for, one I bought) sitting on my desk.  I went from being a hard-core fan to a more relaxed one.

There is not a lot of horror here despite lip service to the "Dark Side", but that is fine.  Horror is a spice to be added to some things or a main dish.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Again, these movies are not horror.  But for horror to be effective there needs to be a "normal". For me my "normal" is not Star Wars, but Star Trek.  These two movies influenced my opinions of what a good Sci-Fi game should have.  I also feel that Star Trek: TMP is a vastly underrated movie.
The goal of BlackStar is to start it out as a "Star Trek"-like story but move it into a new and horror filled direction.
Why these two? Well to me they fit the ideas I want and the style I want. I am even considering setting my Trek-ish game in the time of the Enterprise C or after, but before TNG.
That is just details though.  I can do anything really, what is important to me is how do I do the horror?

Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986)
It is often said that the difference between horror and action adventure is in the Last Girl.  If she is a girl/woman and afraid, you have horror. If she is a big burly dude with guns then you have action adventure.  What if your last girl is Lt. Ellen Ripley? Then you have the Alien franchise.  But only the first two are worth talking about here.  Alien is straight up horror. Aliens takes that horror and turns it into a Sci-Fi action adventure. Both are good for what I want for different reasons. I want to do the opposite. Take Sci-Fi action adventure and turn it into horror.
The difference is agency.  In Alien Ripley is alone, with no weapons or resources.  In Aliens she has a pulse rifle, a flamethrower and a giant loader exoskeleton.  In my game I'll take away the characters power OR more to the point make them comparatively powerless in the face of the great evil on their doorstep.



Event Horizon (1997)
Jumping way out of the late 70s, early 80s here for this one.
Event Horizon is actually kind of a perfect movie for what I want to do here. Sci-fi, horror, alternate dimensions, lots of terror. The Event Horizon could have been a proto-Federation Starship too; or really a proto-Romulan ship.




Special Mention, Galaxy Quest (1999)
Ok. This is totally NOT horror.  Or is it?
We have a race, the Theramins (love that name) that are really squid-like aliens pretending to be human.  They can construct a complex starship from a TV show, but not realize it is a show.
Plus I have to give a nod to Galaxy Quest since it was one of the inspirations for not only the tone of the this game (light-hearted at first then soul-wrenching terror) but also my new Starship, the USS Protector.




For the record, you can see my inspiration for the Protector here.

I am also working on a list over as the Internet Movie Database on horror sci-fi films from the 80s (though I will consider 1979).
https://www.imdb.com/list/ls023307178/

I'll keep you posted how the game develops.


8 comments:

Konsumterra said...

Pandorum would fit in a space mythos movie fine - exploring spaceship wrecks and claustophobia made me choke - on of my top 10 sf films

Timothy Brannan said...

Thanks! Sounds Awesome.

Mark Craddock said...

I wasn't sure if this would be about the Blackstar, the 80s cartoon :)

Justin Isaac said...

I agree that Pandorum would be a good fit for this. The upcoming SyFy adaptation of Martin's Nightflyers (http://www.syfy.com/syfywire/george-rr-martin-announces-nightflyers-will-have-a-10-episode-first-season) would also prove useful. To a less extent for setting material The Expanse or Kurt Russel's Soldier (just for the junk planet setting) might give a little inspiration.

Rodney Sloan said...

Wasn't Event Horizon shock horror, not cosmic horror? Been ages since I watched it though. Two things I recommend:
These musings on horror: http://endzeitgeist.com/miscellaneous-musings-horror-part/
And the Nightscape series, particularly the comic (because it's sci-fi, unlike the rest). Some great stuff there.

Rob Schwarz said...

Event Horizon was about what would happen if hyperspace was Hell and you picked up hitchhikers when you went through, or something like that.

I'd add Serenity to the list. I'm thinking something along the line of the Reavers might make for a nice red-herring low level bad guy that ties in to the cosmic baddie later. Thinking Aboleth/Skum in space.

Timothy Brannan said...

@Rodney, Event Horizon was shock horror trying to be supernatural horror. In any case it works for me!

@Robert, ugh. I hated, hated, HATED Firefly and never watched Serenity. No plans on doing so either. Sorry. But it rubs me the wrong way on a fundamental level.

Rob Schwarz said...

@Timothy Brannan, I felt the same about Event Horizon. Well maybe not three Hated but I didn't like it at all.

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