Thursday, November 30, 2017

Five or So Questions with Jaye Foster on Poor Amongst The Stars

Jaye Foster has out a new space-based setting for Malandros that's got billions of possibilities - literally. And I got to ask questions about it! Learn about Poor Amongst the Stars, currently available on DriveThruRPG, in the interview below!


Stars by Ethan R ( CC-BY-ND-2.0 

Tell me a little about Poor Amongst the Stars. What excites you about it?

The possibilities. There are twentyish questions asked during creation of the generational ship and at least three suggested answers for each question. Not taking into account player creativity, that's 3486784401 possible ships, each subtly but importantly different.

So while the book does encourage you to select from a limited list of answers the players are not actually that restricted in the scenario creation. I'm pleased that I was able to find so many options for ways to describe how the characters are trapped aboard ship and what that cage feels like.

How did you figure out the questions?

I originally started with a more technical approach, describing the ship in mechanical/physical way; how long is it in meters, how big are the cabins, what scientific instruments does it carry. I quickly realised that this approach was not compatible with Malandros. What matters more is how the ship feels and how it influences play. So I started from the point of view of an unimportant person on this ship and built the questions to give context to their life rather than just measurements. For example, I don't ask you how big the ship is, I ask you how does its size feel to the characters; is it cramped, cozy, spacious or nearly empty?

ISS by Daniel Lombraña González ( CC-BY-SA-2.0
What about the questions makes the creations interesting? How do they spur creativity?

The questions and prompted answers themselves don't make the creations interesting. That comes from players and their creativity is spurred from a lack explanation. The prompted answers never tell you why the ship is as chosen. In selecting an option, the players are partially forced to consider why they are picking that option and to consider what history the ship has that resulted in this current condition. For example, if the players decide that the ship's crew are segregated from the passengers a lot of the story detail will come from expanding the reasons why. In my test game, the players decided that the crew slept in a virtual reality to keep them in a pseudo-stasis to preserve their precious skills and knowledge.

Where did you get your inspirations for the Poor Amongst the Stars?

I was thinking about writing a setting for Malandros and had the thought that a science fiction would be an interesting diversion from the original Imperial Brazil setting. Another author had already tackled a colony style setting so when the idea of a generational ship fell out of my brain it interested me. Fiction that influenced me during writing included: Macross Frontier, Cities in Flight, WALL-E, Dark Star and Red Dwarf.

What are a few examples of scenarios for the setting?

I wouldn't say the book has any pre-generated scenarios. With Malandros, the scenarios are created by the characters relationships with themselves and the constraints the ship puts on a person's ability to improve their standard of living. The book does have a short section on episode themes for the game master to apply if they feel the need to inject an external stimulus.

Crab Nebula by NASA GSFC ( CC-BY-2.0

Thanks, Jaye, for a fun interview! I hope you all enjoyed reading what Jaye had to say and that you'll check out Poor Amongst the Stars on DriveThruRPG!

All images CC-BY-ND-2.0 sourced by Jaye Foster.

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