How The Stars Could Inspire Your Games

A friend at work just got a deluxe telescope. Always interested in astronomy, he contacted a local club and a member approached him with a used one for sale. Now he explores the winter sky, peering into all its wonders.

And on a related note, I recently had an awesome chat with Roleplaying Tips Patron Auke Slotegraaf from South Africa as part of a free consultation experiment I’m running with Platinum Patrons. And Auke just happens to be an astronomer.

So it seems the stars are in alignment to begin thinking about this topic.

I asked Auke how astronomy might inspire gaming. He gave me a nice list of starting possibilities:

Superstitions

Different cultures in your world will have different ideas about what the sky and stars mean.

You can create a variety of superstitions or grab some from this superstitions list. Then attribute the origin to some heavenly event or urban legend involving the power of the stars.

Astrology

Speaking of the power of the stars, I mentioned to Auke I’ve always wanted to create a birthsign and custom astrology magic system for my campaigns.

Players roll for character birthdate, and that links to a destiny table. More plot hooks!

Astrology might provide a powerful force in your game or it could inspire faction symbols and identities.

Ley Lines

Auke has turned the universe into a functional puzzle in his campaign.

Ley lines provide powerful magic booster points where spell durations increase and magic item creation becomes easier.

The ley lines happen to map exactly to the stars.

He says his players suspect there’s some kind of logic behind how the ley lines are arranged, and soon they’ll figure it out. Draw the night sky to get a map of invisible magical conduits on the ground.

Monsters

Make a monster out of each constellation.

Give different cultures different star mappings or constellations. And therefore, different monsters.

Fill your adventures with astronomical monsters, and may their stars burn bright!

How To Make The World A Happening Place?

For his consultation, Auke wanted ideas on how to make his world more dynamic without just rolling on random tables. He is inspired by an old Dragon Magazine article called “Make The World A Happening Place.”

He wants a cause-and-effect way to make the world feel real and connected. He wants a middle ground between a full simulation and what he calls “GM fog of war” like my Loopy Planning method where you only know the Next Action or events and major plot forces.

He also wants a good way to detail his light simulation without bogging down in documentation. He likes using Campaign Logger, but is not sure what to write just yet or how to plan his details.

We discussed a few approaches and ideas. However, I did not feel he had an Aha! moment for his quest. It’s a tough challenge.

So I ask you, awesome Roleplaying Tips Game Master, what ideas do you have for Auke to create and run a detailed, simulation-lite game world that’s a happening place?