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Subject: An Alternate Backstory rss

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Chris K.
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One of the major concerns I hear from people who don’t particularly like Eclipse is that it is not thematic enough or that the backstory does not work for them.

I have to agree to some degree. The original backstory does not really work for me either. Also a lot of the things in the game feel “unrealistic” or “unthematic”.

Since I teach the game a lot, I felt I need to come up with a better hook for what the game is about and I figured, some of you might like to use it as well. So here goes one of my two major “Variants” for this game during my introductory and explanation spiel. This is the version I use for “Intro Games” with newbies, which are always all Terran.

“So in the far future Humanity has gone to the stars. Technological and social advances have allowed us to create a galaxy wide Empire. It was a golden age with prosperity and riches for all. However we have not left human nature behind us and this Golden Age could not endure forever. Factions rose within the Empire and they quibbled over prestige and resources. We do not know who fired the first shot, but soon the Empire was embroiled in all out intergalactic war. The Great War was mercilessly fought with methods of annihilation never seen before. It threw the Empire into a dark age. Soon the Factions lost more and more of their capabilities to travel the stars and wage war against one another. Routes between worlds were lost or destroyed, entire Planets eradicated and after a thousand years of war, all that was left were few islands of civilization that had either lost the ability to travel the stars or did not dare for fear of leading the enemy to their homeworlds. The factions retreated to the sanctity of these home worlds.

The Great War has passed. It is long past. A hundred generations did it take our civilizations to recover ancient knowledge and build new technologies to once again reach for the stars. The horrors of the great war have faded, but the fabled stories of other worlds remain. The legend of the galactic center, its riches and its awe inspiring defender spur curiosity and greed. It is time we go out there and reclaim the galaxy.

We will build an Empire the galaxy has not seen before and which will be remembered through the ages. We will leave them a legacy worthy of our greatness.

The problem is … apparently the other five factions have also recovered and got the same idea right about now. So it begins once again ....”

And the version for when you play mit Aliens:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
“So in the far future Humanity has gone to the stars. We soon learned we were not alone and found other Races. Over generations of struggle Technological and Social Advances allowed us and them to forge the Galactic Empire, a federation of races united in their goals. It was a golden age with prosperity and riches for all. However not all bad habits were behind us. Mistrust and envy between the Races festered under the surface and so this golden age could not endure forever. The leaders of the races quibbled over prestige and resources. We do not know who fired the first shot, but soon the Empire was embroiled in all out intergalactic War. …”


I then frame the lasting legacy as the main goal of the game and all VP explanations as “things that ancient empires are remembered for”:
- Great technological wonders like Atlantis = Tech VP
- great and vast empires like the Romans = Territory VP
- Great and Dramatic Battles like the Greek or Napoleon = Battle VP
- Adventures and Stories of Discovery like Magellan = Discovery VP
- Ancient wonders and buildings like the Pyramids or the Great Wall = Monoliths and some Development VP

So what do you think?
What do you use yourself?
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Jim Parkin
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This is more or less how I describe it.

Being steeped in the lore of both the Master of Orion and Escape Velocity series of computer games, it's easy for me to go for the "once golden age--then dark age--then reemergence" hook. I agree entirely. I've never cared about the plot in the rulebook for Eclipse because the emergent play styles of each race tend to tell great story without extra help. That said, I also find myself framing new teaching games in the same language as you, albeit unwittingly and unintentionally.
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