Saturday, February 11, 2012

Halo RPG Part II: Crafting An Environment Of Despair, While Not Being A Total Bummer

In our last installment, I went over a couple of options for what game system I might use to make the skeleton of my nascent Halo campaign that I am set to GM. While I am deciding on that, I figured I should work on another conceptual problem I foresee with the Halo setting: bleakness.

Now for many of my readers who are 40k fans, Halo doesn't seem particularly grim in comparison, to, well, the grim dark future. To a group of gamers for whom the darkest setting they have played is Dragonlance, however, Halo can be a bit of a downer. After all, the whole premise of the universe is that humanity is at the tail end of losing a 40 year long war against superior aliens who are bent of exterminating our species. That they are doing a good job is only frosting.

The problem is, I want the campaign to be true (ish) to the games, books, and other media, but still have the players feel like their characters can have a positive effect on the outcome. I've come up with two possible solutions to this quandary so far:
  1. The Player Characters are a secret special forces team akin to the Headhunters (from the pics). They can have feats of daring-do, beat the bad guys, rescue the girl, and not have a 'visible' impact in the video game universe, because, well, their missions are secret.
  2. Post Halo 3. The future of the Halo universe, after the dissolution of the Covenant in the Great Schism, is not yet known. Karen Traviss is doing great work in this regard with her novel Glasslands, and its presumed follow ups, and I could have the PCs be a black ops team, like the one in that novel.
There might be more workable options out there, but I have not thought of them yet. It's officially open for discussion! Since none of the players read my blog (as offensive as that seems) I can talk about it pretty openly without spilling the Covenant's beans.


sonsoftaurus said...

Couple of other possibilities:

1) Make it your own Haloverse. Start it at some point in regular continuity, and let it deviate from there.

2) Tie it in to "real" continuity, but in an unexpected way. Maybe the PCs missions are what makes a major canon event possible. Like running a Star Wars campaign where the PCs don't realize until very late in that the stuff they just ripped off from Coruscant are the plans for the Death Star.

RevTibe said...

Have them operate on a single, covenant occupied human colony? That way they'd see the benefit of their actions on that planet.

"Covenant have occupied Planet Y. For unknown reasons, they have yet to orbitally bombard it, instead enslaving the human population and forcing them to excavate a large area, for unknown reasons. Elites remain concentrated around the dig site, while Brutes run wild through human settlements. The planet previously had a significant ONI contingent, but they were wiped out during the invasion. Fortunately, some ONI bases and weapons stockpiles remain unidentified and unfound."

A setting like that would give the players a mutable environment they could easily affect, have access to fun equipment if necessary etc. Plus, you could start the campaign off with them landing on the planet via-drop pod, which would be a pretty balls-out beginning.