Don't write an Aslan sourcebook...

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khazwind
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Don't write an Aslan sourcebook...

Postby khazwind » Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:33 pm

... which sounds very controversial, but wait! I have a point.

MGP have done an excellent job with RQ. Heck, they even made the dragonnewts playable while remaining totally incomprehensible.

I'd like to see that level of insight and creativity brought to bear on Trav races.

OTOH, I'm wary of diluting the impact of those races, espesh the Aslan.

I'd like to suggest that, instead of a source book, MGP releases an Aslan-centric version of Traveller.

I don't mean to re-write everything, but in presentation/char sheets etc.

Frex,
TL 0 is the Claw Age
TL 4 is the Age of Queens (or whatever)

Something that gets the players thinking Aslan first, human second.

In chargen, the stats are STR, DEX, END, INT, EDU, TER and humans, "don't have a territory statistic. Instead they have something called Social Status that can be used like Territory."

UWP could to be replaced with some other system peculiar to Aslan, even though the underlying rules may be the same.

Many people on this forum have written about how inconsistently the Aslan have been treated in print up to now. I'd say, take ALL of it, even the contradictions and make them more rather than less unusual. After all, Humaniti has at least three different nations.

Of course, this is all IMHO and I could be wrong.
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Postby whtknght » Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:17 pm

Heck NO.

We need a comprehensive and definitive supplement on the Aslan, along with a supplement on the Vargr. These are two of the three major PC races (human being the third of course).

I don't think that Droyne, Zhodani, and Newts necessarily need their own supplements, but Vargr and Aslan do.
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Postby GypsyComet » Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:29 pm

To disagree to some extent, I think all of the so-called Major Races need extensive coverage, though the Vilani may not need a book to themselves.

Of course, I've been your friendly neighborhood Zhodani Ambassador for 20+ years, so I'm biased. Prior published coverage of the Zhodani does not make them playable, sadly, except as "black hats".

A certain amount of "through their eyes" material is a good thing, no question. Too much and the product risks becoming too esoteric to use. Too little and the role-player has nothing to get a grip on.
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Re: Don't write an Aslan sourcebook...

Postby AndrewW » Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:08 am

khazwind wrote:In chargen, the stats are STR, DEX, END, INT, EDU, TER and humans, "don't have a territory statistic. Instead they have something called Social Status that can be used like Territory."
Would you settle for both Social Status and Territory?
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Postby khazwind » Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:48 am

whtknght wrote:We need a comprehensive and definitive supplement on the Aslan, along with a supplement on the Vargr.
Hells yes, we need good supplements. I'm really just talking about how they would be presented, from the Aslan POV in thise case.

I'm thinking C.J. Cherryh's Chanur books here. Not as a guide to the Aslan, rather the way that the books were entirely from an alien POV.

Re-read them and notice just how wierd alien species can be, particularly those pink, hairless apes who call themselves human.
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Postby simonh » Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:32 am

I think this idea is pure genius.

I find it hard to believe that whtknght and GypsyComet actually read the post and not just the title. After all, what about this idea isn't 'comprehensive and definitive'? In what way would it not qualify as being 'extensive coverage'?

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Postby GypsyComet » Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:41 am

simonh wrote:I think this idea is pure genius.

I find it hard to believe that whtknght and GypsyComet actually read the post and not just the title. After all, what about this idea isn't 'comprehensive and definitive'? In what way would it not qualify as being 'extensive coverage'?

Simon Hibbs
Then you didn't read my response completely, either.

Climbing into the mind of an alien culture and race is not a trivial writing exercise. C.J. Cherryh is highly talented, and has been for years. She's good at getting into alien headspace, having done it many times. It is an exercise of many carefully worded pages and chapters, designed to immerse the reader in those thought patterns.

As the saying goes, I've read Cherryh, and you, <fill in the blank>, are no Cherryh.

The danger of making such a book incomprehensibly esoteric is very real. The disconnects inherent with squeezing game mechanics that are useful into such an environment would be that much more jarring, for starters.

Now keep in mind that for the Aslan, you have to do this TWICE. Male thought and female thought are very different amongst the Aslan. So much so that I'm not sure any of the prior material on the race really covers female Aslan to a playable extent.

And frankly, the Aslan are one of the easy races...

Traveller also operates under a handicap, particularly compared to the proffered example of Runequest. RQ material is cleared through the one and only Gloranthan native on Earth, Greg Stafford. I've met Greg. He knows his creation cold.
By comparison, the "mind" that created Traveller is dead. Marc has creative control now, but much of what we recognize as the OTU came from the massive brain-trust and hive-mind that was GDW, FASA, and DGP. Marc was just one small part of that. I've met Marc (at a couple Cons over the years), and he's no Greg Stafford.
Last edited by GypsyComet on Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby alex_greene » Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:48 am

Imagine the Hiver-themed core Traveller book.
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Postby simonh » Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:58 am

GypsyComet wrote: Then you didn't read my response completely, either.
I read it all, I just didn't respond to it all. Just the 'extensive coverage' comment, which made no sense to me and still doesn't.

Sure this would be an ambitious approach, perhaps too ambitious. Even so, I think it's a valuable point of reference on the map of 'possible ways to write the book' for anyone commissioned to write an Aslan supplement.

One of the problems MGT faces is that much of what it does has already been done many times before. How many Aslan supplements have been published before, 3? 4? I've lost track.

So far Mongoose have done a great job of breathing new life into the material. e.g. Spinward Marches contains scads of detailed world writeups that are new, in addition to the updated world data. The ship design system retains the simplicity of CT/High Guard while also rpesenting a wealth of additional components and options you can include in your ships.

An inovative approach to the alien supplements could provide a welcome injection of new value into the established material.


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Postby AndrewW » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:39 am

Well, the Aslan book is well under way at this point and I wouldn't expect anything major to change in it at this point. Like doing a rewrite to fit in with anything on this thread. Though minor things could perhaps still make it in. Not that it would be up to us.
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Postby rust » Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:35 am

In my opinion one chapter of the Aslan sourcebook describing the Aslan
culture from the point of view of a male and a female Aslan would be a
welcome help to understand the Aslan, but to write an entire supplement
from an alien point of view seems almost impossible to me.
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Postby GypsyComet » Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:26 pm

simonh wrote:
GypsyComet wrote: Then you didn't read my response completely, either.
I read it all, I just didn't respond to it all. Just the 'extensive coverage' comment, which made no sense to me and still doesn't.
Ah, the response to whtknght's opinion of alien worthiness? Maybe I could have aimed that a little better.
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Postby kafka » Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:13 pm

Please do go ahead with the Aslan book but I would like to say two things...

(1) Improve dramatically the art of Mongoose's Aslan. If you need references look at the CT, DGP stuff or late MT. They seem to have been the only ones who managed to get the Aslan right in terms of art.

(2) Do something we have not seen before. All Aslan to date have pretty well repeated the treatment of the original Aslan module. If you are going to Samurai Cats or Kzinzi they have already been done. If the Aslan are going to be different read other sources.

Especially, with the last point in mind. I have played the Aslan using L5R as the base...a fully developed Aslan using a L5R milieu would not be a bad thing.
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Postby alex_greene » Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:22 pm

I like the idea of the images of Aslan sitting down, reading, or engaging in sword practice with training bots, or poring over some chemicals in a laboratory etc.

An Aslan male in full regalia, standing before The 29 declaiming something and gesturing expansively would also be a good addition.

I really wish my forte was art. So many images ...
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Postby EDG » Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:54 pm

kafka wrote:(2) Do something we have not seen before. All Aslan to date have pretty well repeated the treatment of the original Aslan module. If you are going to Samurai Cats or Kzinzi they have already been done. If the Aslan are going to be different read other sources.
Imagine the shrieking that will happen if they do that... heaven forbid that they should change things! ;)

Though this is the problem with MGT's approach - by setting it in the CT era, they basically have to reprint and rehash a lot of material that's already been published for older versions of Traveller, at least initially. We're starting to see actually new products now (Agent, Scoundrel, Tripwire, etc) but I think their hands are kinda tied with the aliens books because they're pretty specific to the setting.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen a "reimagined" OTU (a la BSG) rather than the same old Charted Space, where all the old stuff could be revamped and updated - keep the "iconic" stuff that works, throw away the rest.
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Postby GypsyComet » Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:19 pm

I'm not terribly fond of the strong Samurai overlay that the Aslan got from DGP. The Aslan mixture of Honor and Feudalism tends to get interpretted that way, though.

I can put up with a certain amount of Kzinti imitation, as both races are firmly "Carnivore Pouncer".

One of my favorite pictures of the Aslan comes from DGPs book, where we see the males at table, and the meal (a plate full of large isopods) desperately trying to get OFF the table.
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Postby daryen » Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:25 pm

EDG wrote:
kafka wrote:(2) Do something we have not seen before. All Aslan to date have pretty well repeated the treatment of the original Aslan module. If you are going to Samurai Cats or Kzinzi they have already been done. If the Aslan are going to be different read other sources.
Imagine the shrieking that will happen if they do that... heaven forbid that they should change things! ;)
Actually, with the Aslan you have a lot more latitude than you might think. The Aslan have been portrayed with such ridiculous inconsistency, and been so screwed up along the way, that just picking a consistent subset and "riffing" off of that will keep you true to canon, yet give some nice new wrinkles.

Seriously, you can do a lot with the Aslan that would be more than just a simple rehash. Really, it is just whatever the author wants to do.
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Postby GypsyComet » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:06 pm

daryen wrote: Really, it is just whatever the author wants to do.
Which has been the problem in the past, of course...
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Postby Cyphr » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:35 pm

rust wrote:In my opinion one chapter of the Aslan sourcebook describing the Aslan
culture from the point of view of a male and a female Aslan would be a
welcome help to understand the Aslan, but to write an entire supplement
from an alien point of view seems almost impossible to me.
I like that idea. I remember the vignettes DGP had for Vlani and Solomani to show how the two branches of Humaniti handled crisis and decision making. Having more on the POV of published aliens would really help, both veterans and rookies of Traveller.
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Postby Cyphr » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:53 pm

kafka wrote:Please do go ahead with the Aslan book but I would like to say two things...

(1) Improve dramatically the art of Mongoose's Aslan. If you need references look at the CT, DGP stuff or late MT. They seem to have been the only ones who managed to get the Aslan right in terms of art.
I remember a Challenge magazine cover showing an Aslani group meeting a human group. I think it was in the concourse of a starport. The two heads greeted each other like friends or colleagues, while their sons, both sigh and curious, were interested in making friends.

I always thought that image was cute. :) To expand what another poster suggested some artwork showing more of Aslani professionals (both male and females) and home life would be nice. The later treated by artwork and writing would do a lot in the getting across how their lives and culture are both different and similar to ours.

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