Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Expendable Crew Members

When I was in the eleventh grade, I read a novel called Expendable. The short version is this: in the future, people who have physical defects or other undesirable qualities are "volunteered" for the Explorer Corps. Whenever a ship is investigating a new planet, the Explorer Corps crew members are dropped down on the planet to see what it's like. They tend to die a lot.

I don't recall the book being particularly amazing, but I find that I remember it strikingly well for something I read thirteen years ago. I know one reason it has stuck in my mind is that I always thought it would be a cracking good idea for a short campaign.

Since I'll be going to a number of conventions this year, I think perhaps I ought to run this. I'm going to ditch the setting, for the most part, and focus on the concept: expendable crew members who get dropped onto unknown planets.

System-wise, I have a lot of options: Traveller, Star Frontiers, d6 Star Wars (for the mechanics only), Savage Worlds, Fudge, even a kitbash of Mutant Future. Ideally, I'm interested in running it using the upcoming Labyrinth Lord compatible edition of Spacemen & Starships, but who knows when that will be hitting bookshelves...I doubt it will be out in time for con season, anyway.

A working title for the campaign just popped into my head: "Planet Crawl."

This could be a fun con season, indeed.


  1. Didn't one of the later seasons of Red Dwarf have this Canary Corps idea as a premise?

  2. I've never seen Red Dwarf.

    It also turns out the book was part of a series.

  3. ...Especially if every PC had to roll on a Random What The Hell Is Wrong With You Chart.

  4. Ooh, I want to see such a chart!

  5. Wow, this sounds remarkably like a game idea of mine currently in ultra-rough stages. It got put on hold a year or so ago due to other (*ahem*) projects. However, my buddy told me "who would want to play someone who was "screwed up" and expected to die anyway?"

    Glad to see someone else likes the idea...I'll be following this concept/project.
    : )

  6. "who would want to play someone who was "screwed up" and expected to die anyway?"

    My existential answer to your buddy:

    Because, ultimately, doesn't that describe the whole of humanity?

    My non-existential answer:
    Because playing a bunch of twitchy rejects who get to explore the DM's fever dreams is sweet.

  7. A great idea. Nothing to lose protagonists have given us some great novels & movies, and I think the same will be true in an RPG... leave it all on the gaming table.