In Flames - Initial thoughts

This game was intended to be a short campaign introducing the players to Mini Six and, as In Flames uses the Mini Six system and is a setting I really like, it seemed like the perfect choice. If you haven’t already, check out our In Flames review to get a bit more background on the game. Basically it is a hard sci-fi game set in a star system not too dissimilar to our own in a near future where inter-planetary, but not interstellar, travel is common place. Humans have colonised most planets in the system despite the lack of a breathable atmosphere pretty much everywhere except the main planet of Steel. There are no Aliens but there are non-human life-forms known as uplifts, the products of century’s old genetic experiments.

In Flames

I am a big fan of the setting, the details about the planets and the technology give the game such amazing flavour and make it stand out from most other sci-fi games. Corrupt politicians, mega corporations and sentient robots are all there waiting to add intrigue and mystery to your game.

However, if you are familiar with In Flames you will know there is a bigger mystery than all these things at play in the Flame worlds, the one concerning the Loa and Understar. In In Flames, your characters are god-like beings, Loa, who have been exiled from Heaven, Understar, and have to win there redemption in the physical world. This is used to encourage a lot of collaborative storytelling and world building between player and GM. It is arguably In Flames most unique feature, it’s even the games tagline (“You were a god, you committed a crime, and now you must pay”), and yet, despite all this, I am not going to use it in my game!

Here’s why; firstly I feel the setting is still one of the best I have ever read in an RPG without any mention of the Loa or understar. It is a solid sci-fi world with more than enough going on to fuel even the lengthiest of campaigns (the planet Cloud is just mind-blowing!). Secondly, I am only planning a short 3-4 game mini campaign to get the players used to the Mini Six system, and so introducing concepts such as understar might get a bit confusing (and believe me, my games can be confusing enough at the best of times!).

I wanted to show off all the Flame worlds had to offer, the genetic engineering, inhospitable environments, political intrigue, clandestine agencies working in secret, and have their characters at the centre of it all. I decided to make them soldiers working for Unity, essentially the police in the Flame worlds, stationed on the mining planet of Stone. For the first game I wanted the players to feel like they were in some insignificant part of the system, a backwater away from all the action. Then, whilst on some routine mission they get dragged into a plot that could affect everyone in the Flame Worlds.

Stone is a barren rock dotted with mines that are striping the planet causing it to become unstable. Without a breathable atmosphere, there are few people live on stone, most of the work being carried out robots or “puppets”. The raw materials are then shipped to orbital factories via space elevators called “bean-stalks”. Once stripped, the mines are then turned into great landfill sites for the rest of the systems rubbish. It was the ideal, boring place for the characters to start there adventure.

This gave me the idea for a set piece to end the game, an explosion on one of the bean-stalks causing it collapse to earth* (*Stone) in a spectacular display of destruction, foreshadowing the scale of what is to come.

I would need a reason for all this (obviously!), a main villain and a plot for the characters to become entangled with. I also need to bear in mind that this is a mini-campaign and so it needs a conclusion that is satisfying but doesn’t necessary tie-up all loose ends in case we want to re-visit the characters in the future.

So over the next few weeks I will be bringing you updates about the game, reviews of the source books and discussions about where I got inspiration from. Hopefully this will be informative and entertaining but at the very least you learn from my mistakes (of which there are bound to be a few!). So be sure to check back next time to see how the first game went.