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Slipstream, the pulp science fiction setting designed for Savage Worlds role-playing and miniatures wargaming, was the topic of our most recent story-telling effort.

Greg and I approached this as we have done for all of our efforts in the last few years, treating it as a shared GMless story-telling  game, rather than a traditional role-playing game. This meant that much was randomly generated on the fly and we talked through the possibilities, creating the events and resolutions as we progressed.

Slipstream is squarely my baby. I know Greg tolerates it, but his particular passion is mythic Greece. To ease us over the hurdle of me living and breathing this stuff and therefore having a deeper affinity with the setting, I created a few tools.

The first was a deck of cards listing everything in the Slipstream Gazeteer on pages 49 to 52, along with the explanatory text. This served as the primary location randomiser answering such questions as, ‘Where are we?”, “Where does he come from?”, “Where is our home planet/fragment?”, “Where does the evidence point?” By flicking out these to Greg, he had an instant thumbnail on a place. This relieved me from the role of deciding on a place and then describing it in detail – effectively making me the GM. Once locations where found, the book was available to both of us to open it for more info in the Fragments section, pages 57 to 74.

To give us a feel of the sweep of the place I took the free download PDF of the Slipstream universe and printed it in A1 and had it laminated (quote $120 at the printer under our office, or $28 down at Office Works – guess who got the job). This sat in the middle of the table and we poured over it, tapping and stroking the map making grand plans and generating the feel of navigating the slipstream and estimating travel times. I think this device worked well.

To generate an Inciting Incident, I created a deck based on the ideas in Instant Game. Each card had six possibilities, such as: Secret Door, Brainwashing, A Visit From the Law, and so on. There were 32 cards. So with a roll of a dice and a flip of a card we had a very large set of things to push us into an adventure, and find new twists when we got stuck.

Then I created a more specific location deck, designed in a similar way to the Inciting Incident deck, showing such specific places as: Beach, Roadside Motel, Abandoned Building, and so on. This deck helped us move from scene to scene. Where is the next contact going to be waiting? Roll a dice and flip a card. These last two decks could be used with any setting.

Finally, we used our old standby tools, the Mythic Game Master Emulator to answer yes/no questions and generate any on-the-fly motivations or twists, and also Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable to generate character names and any deep motivations.

Together, these tools appeared to provide enough support to keep the action moving while informing enough detail. We appeared to be slowed down on only a couple of occasions, and I do not recall being totally stumped, as we have been on previous efforts.

The full story-telling game lasted for around three hours. We found our characters, developed two memorable foes that are sure to reappear as nemeses, linked several fragments in a complex plot of rebellion against queen Anathraxa, and painted pictures of a particular place – Bartertown – that I found to be vivid and ‘live’.

I think it worked, and with any luck we will continue in this setting.

The full write up of the story will come when I get around to it.