Arcane Game Lore

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A Possible Podcast

So it’s very early in the morning again as I’ve been up all night observing and doing homework for my Masters program.  Again I apologize for any incoherence due to lack of sleep.

Since I’m a little too tired to focus on one of the more complex topics I’ve been planning to blog about, I thought I’d ramble on a bit about a podcast I’m considering doing.  You, dear readers, can weigh in in the comment section to gives suggestions on what to change, what to keep, whether or not you think it’s a good idea or not.

Some History

I’ve been toying with the idea of resurrecting my old podcast, Whispers from the Void, that I started and did five episodes for back in the 2009-2010 time frame.  However, the reincarnation would be in a completely different format.

image of the SOFIA 747 flying with it's side door open to expose the 2.5 meter telescope housed within the aft fuselage.

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)

When I started that podcast, I was working full time in California at NASA Ames Research Center as the Information Systems Development Manager for the SOFIA mission, a 2.5m telescope in the back of a Boeing 747SP.  My family, however, was still in Utah where my wife is an astronomy professor.  So I’d fly out Monday morning and fly home Friday night.  In the weekday evenings, I had lots of spare time and so I started the podcast.  That particular living arrangement proved to be an untenable situation and I left the position at SOFIA to return to working on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, which I had been working on since 2003 and could work on from home.  Being back home killed my spare time and the podcast petered out.

But enough history.  Here are my thoughts for the new podcast.  I haven’t decided if I’ll keep the name or come up with something new.  In the intervening years, someone registered the Whispers from the Void .com domain while I wasn’t watching and started a horror comic by the looks of it.  So I probably want to come up with a new name.

The Concept

The basic idea is to make it a world building podcast.  And since I’m big into science fiction and am an astronomer, it will actually be designing an entire star sector system by system and planet by planet.  We would talk not only about the concepts but also about tools and resources that you could use to create your own worlds.

At the highest level, we’ll talk about stellar populations and how many of what types of stars you might find nearby.  We’ll dive into exotic systems like black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs.  We’ll cover different types of nebula and different types of stars, and talk about the impact all of these astronomical objects would have on life.

Planetary formation in the solar nebulaAt the middle level, the podcast would cover planetary system formation, what types of planets you might find in a system in where and how to build a believable (and potentially stable) planetary system.  We’ll also talk about things that might cause problems or at least interest for your systems such as comet and asteroid collisions, solar flares, wandering stars and planets, and anything else that might come up.

At the lower level, we’d focus on individual planets.  Here the discussion would cover planetary formation, geography, climate, weather, water, and whatever else we can think of related to the physicality of the planet.  The podcast would probably cover software you could use to design planet and/or make maps of them as well as software to make detailed maps of regions of the planet.  The focus would be on making the planet and it’s systems realistic and believable.

Finally, at the ground level, we’d design ecologies and cultures for each world.  This could range from life just starting out to large space-faring civilizations and anything in between.  Some of these episodes might be conducted using a world building game like Microscope (or others that I can remember the names of at the moment) to test out and see how they work.  These session may create kingdoms, democracies, histories, and notable people for the game world.

The Format

I’m a firm believer in shorter podcasts, so the goal would be to keep each episode to just a half hour.  Obviously, you can’t do much in such a short amount of time so each episode would focus on just a small aspect of the world being covered.  Most likely some of the world building will be done off-mike to prepare for a recording session or a longer session will be broken up into smaller segments.

My plan is to have myself plus two or three regular co-hosts on each show.  Additional guests will join us as they are available and interested.  That way you won’t be just listening to me attempting to spin moonbeams into ideas.  I think the creative process will go much better with more people involved and the resulting worlds will be much more interesting.

Eventually, I’d like to get this to the point of a weekly podcast.  Whether that means recording weekly, or recording longer sessions less often that are then broken up into smaller segments to be released weekly, I don’t know.  It will really depend on how things work out.

One thing that I’m trying to decide on is the scale of the first few episodes.  I’d like to rapidly move through all the detail levels to get a sampling of each one but I’m not sure if it should start at the sector level and drill down to a planet or start with a world and expand the horizons.  Given my personal interests and knowledge, I think I’d prefer to start large and zoom in but I think that starting with a world, drilling down to the ecology and history, and then zooming out to the planetary system and sector level would probably be of more general interest.

The Products

In addition to producing the podcasts themselves, the process will generate lots of notes and ideas for each world.  I’d like to take these and develop them beyond what is outlined in the podcast sessions and do full write-ups on the worlds, systems, and sector discussed.  I might use these as the setting for the game I’m “designing out loud” here on this blog or maybe just write them up and make them available on-line, probably as a pay what you want product on RPGNow.


So what do you think.  Is this a podcast that you would be interested in listening to?  Is it something you’d like to participate in and help create?  Do you have any ideas or thoughts on  how this might work out or how it might be a complete disaster?  Should I keep the Whispers from the Void name or come up with something new?  Any suggestions on a different name?  Feel free to leave your comments below and let me know your thoughts.

Categorised as: General

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