Friday, May 10, 2013

Re Investigating: The Spur-Loki's Rock By Mark Ellis For Favorite Science Fiction Retroclone

The Spur-Loki's Rock By Mark Ellis 

The Plot And World According To Amazon : 
The colony world in the Orion Spur known as Loki wasn't so much lost as forgotten. In the 188 years since a world-wide catastrophe destroyed what passed for civilization there, Loki had become a savage wilderness of strange cultures, as well as being the sanctuary for every bizarre cult, mad sect and outlawed scientific discipline in the Sol 9 Commonwealth. 

Quentin Crockett, a Colonel in the department of OffWorld Operations leads a team of specialists to Loki to monitor, catalog, and if necessary, eliminate the myriad societies that sprang up in the wake of the global cataclysm. In their armored ACP Ambler, the team travels Loki, searching for the lost Terran Enclave, while fighting off not only wild beasts, and the wilder natives but also the ruthless schemes of a mastermind about whom they know practically nothing. 

In The Spur: Loki’s Rock, Crockett and his team contend with the bizarre native fauna, but also with resurrected Nazi supermen, flocks of flying piranha, and the denizens of the kill-crazy town of Loki’s Rock, led by the psychotic Django Bonner and his bloodthirsty hench-wench, Pagan. 

     The Spur As Blue Print For Stars Without Number 

So lately I've been rereading quite a bit of post apocalyptic literature, re watching old films, and reexamining older material.  The stories of Mark Ellis move very quickly through my hands and this one isn't any exception.  The Spur-Loki's Rock By Mark Ellis is apologetically a space western which many science fiction fans used to look their noses down at. As you can see from this page from Galaxy Magazine.


This book not only uses the tropes of the space western but uses them in the same tradition as "Firefly" in other words it kind of redefines them. I'm not going to say that this book isn't entertainment but I'm saying its good solid entertainment. There is a ton of information about the "space western trope" right over Here on Wiki.
I've covered the book before but really what I'm interested in the world of  Loki  itself. Which is a post apocalyptic space colony world. Loki isn't really a Gygaxian ecology but more of a Wardian. As in James Ward's Metamorphosis Alpha.
This is world that has gone from on the edge to on the brink with its ecology. This isn't a friendly place to take the kids. Take a few animals from MA first edition add a couple mutations and suddenly you might have Loki. The real danger on this world isn't the wildlife which will certainly kill you.
Its the two legged variety. Mankind is the real danger here and that really is often missed in science fictional table top gaming. A lesson from last night's game is that your games are only going to be as memorable as the NPC's you create. 
The other interesting thing about the book is the myriad of micro societies that have sprung up. These numerous tribes of  modern primitives that move across the landscape of Loki. The background really sprang out on the third read through of the book.
Applying this to games like X plorers is pretty simply really. Create societies that are going to engage your players and have fun.
With a game like Carcosa you can pretty much create any mult colored tribe you want. The idea of basing these on some real world native populace is nothing new but the setting might surprise the hell out of players who aren't expecting it. Carcosa is a very interesting case because of its wildly varying technology level. The bench mark in the game is the fact that someplace along the line a smart humaniod is going create a hell of a problem for the "Great Old Ones" 
Star Ships and Spacemen second edition is built on the very stuff that created the trope in the first place. The book exams characters who might have come right off of the screen from Star Trek The Original Series.After all the show was really "Wagon Train" in space. The book's characters, ecology, technology, etc. fit right into the background of both Mutant Future and S&S second edition. 
The Spur-Loki's Rock By Mark Ellis is a great blue print for an action/adventure science fantasy game. That being said I personally wouldn't steal from it at all. Instead of violating the author's world. I'd use it as a blue print to create my own world. With shows like Defiance and Firefly style books on the shelvs. The Spur-Loki's Rock By Mark Ellis stands on its own merits as a book that I'll be turning to again and again. 

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