Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Telling Details: Cultural Texture in the Fading Suns

I've mentioned elsewhere that I was struck by the parallels between the Fading Suns and the Philippine political structure (despite our government being based on the U.S. Federal model), and I wanted to see how mining Philippine news and history would translate into Fading Suns game material.

At the same time, I'm constantly looking for ways to make the Fading Suns universe both stranger and more familiar to the players by adding in little bits of texture -- throwaway details that reflect a different culture from our own but somehow ring true in terms of human nature and plausibility.

Here are a few examples:

Chapels in or near the Agora
In the Known Worlds, the Universal Church of the Pancreator has great influence and importance in everyone's life (for good or for ill). When planning the map for a location's Agora (the central shopping district or open-air mall), make sure that a chapel or church of some kind is present in that location, with regular service times. If you have time, detail the volunteer staff and regular patrons of that chapel or church. It allows shoppers and stall owners the convenience of worshipping without substantial travel time added to their daily schedules.

Basis: In the Philippines, many malls and shopping centers in Metro Manila have this. SM Mega Mall has a big "chapel" on the top (5th) floor -- bigger than many churches in the city -- centered between the mall's two shopping wings. The Greenbelt ring of malls in Makati has a circular chapel located at the park-like center of the shopping area, and many people listen to the various Sunday masses inside the chapel, or outside if it's full, before returning to their shopping.

Messaging Services at Starports
Not all travelers are guaranteed rapid transport to and from starports, and sometimes there are situations that need to be relayed to travelers as soon as they arrive. Likewise, last minute messages and instructions sometimes need to be sent when these same travelers are waiting for their ship to depart. Enter the starport messaging services! For a monthly fee, these message centers can receive and send messages to the various approved locations on the planet utilizing Guild technologies and personnel. For added privacy and secrecy, special rates apply.

Basis: the messaging services and extra benefits provided by the hotel concierges worldwide, mixed in with door-to-door delivery services -- slightly adjusted for the strange mix of old and new technologies in the Fading Suns milieu.

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