Game Design Challenge: Conflict Resolution meets General Relativity
So imagine a game that is epic scale: conflicts can take place over multiple star systems. The maximum scope of a single conflict can be limited to a single planet, but the scope of the campaign is multiple star systems. This means that the indirect effects of a conflict must be able to bleed across star systems. But to accord with the laws of physics, these effects cannot propagate faster than the speed of light. If you've read Alastair Reynolds novels, you have a good grasp of the problem (and the possibilities). Is this game possible?
Here's an example. The campaign is about whether or not the horrible entity at the heart of the galaxy consumes all life or not. A conflict happens on Planet Q in which a brave scientist learns some key fact about the nature of the Entity. How do we decide if an when a warrior on Planet H can use that knowledge to create a weapon to fight the Entity?
A few possibilities bubble up:
- You could isolate distant characters in space time. They cannot communicate. However, allow them to discover facts that become part of the game universe and are then usable across locations. Facts about things that happened in the very distant past would be allowed for example. I can imaging a game where you play a different character every session, collaboratively building a galaxy by discovering its ancient history as you go.
- Maybe a decade passes between sessions. Each session play picks up somewhere a decades travel from where the last session occurred with players using the same character (having traveled) or a new one.
- Allow players to set their narration anywhere across a continuity of time. You can set a narration in the distant past and its effects become universal. You might even have a game where the current crisis is rooted in something that happened in the early days of colonization, or even in the past history of Earth itself. How about a star empire about to repeate the error of Atlantis?
I guess one conclusion from all this is that if you include relativity, the past becomes very important. In a certain sense, you could quickly create a game that's all about the past.
Addendum: You know, it occurs to me that what I'm designing is really more of a campaign creation and strategic event metagame than a standalone system. Matt Wilson (for example) is already creating a way cool space opera game and I have no desire to reproduce his work.