I do not really know when or how I first learned about the Expanse. I checked my order history in my mailbox and I bought the first book in 2017, and the corebook for the RPG in 2020. So it has been on my mind for quit some time, and I love it. Space without the space magic from Star Trek (which I also really like). Sci-fi that felt like it could actually happen some day.
So even since I knew there was a tabletop RPG, and more so since I have the book, I wanted to play it.
And a week-and-a-half ago, I actually started my first Expanse campaign!
There are 2 reasons that took so long. First, the usual one: I already ran multiple campaigns, have a job, hobbies, family, and so on. The second was more complicated. I am very well aware of how this campaign is more serious, and I felt like I needed more experience as a gamemaster for it. The intention is still to have fun, but a different kind of fun.
My usual RPG campaigns and oneshot are in a medieval fantasy setting, sometimes with steampunk elements. But always with magic, I can use my umptheen monster book to throw in scare or silly-weird creatures and it never feel real. At least to me it does not. It is a bit hard to explain for me, but since the Expanse is a tv series now it is easier;
My fantasy campaigns to me always feel like the old Legend movie, with sparkly visuals when the unicorns show up. The Expanse series is nothing like that, and the RPG should also not be sparkly. There will always be room for lol-play at my table, we are doing this to have fun after all.
This is more a blog about the start of my expanse campaign than one about the tiles, but don't worry: there will be tiles!
Anyway, I have been a gamemaster since 2015 now, and I have ran at least 1 campaign at any given time since then. I have done my share of oneshots and I did loads of demo's so I think I can say I am an experienced gamemaster. Even if it never feels like that.
I have also read the books and binged the series more than once.
So, some weeks ago I felt like I was ready for this.
But where to find players for my short 'let's try this' adventure?
Then, I suddenly realised: I go to a scifi larp! I have scifi larping friends!
We know scifi RPG, even though there are some magic-like elements in the larp, it still is mainly scifi tech, computers, shooting (with nerf) and scifi-ing.
So, I asked some of the people I know well enough and whom I think will make a nice party, and they all immediately said yes. We set a date and count-down could commence.
I read all the books again, ordered some more because for the max. 3-session trial campaigns I needed to be as prepared as I could be. The campaign book tells me that the Expanse is played mostly with theatre of mind. So: no mini's, no map, no terrain and so on.
But a thought occured to me;
(Here come the tiles!)
We play at this scifi larp, line of sight feels important because we experience that in the scifi game we already know. I have the spacial awareness of a brick, and I know that visualising a room, corridor, doors, places where other folks are, that is not something a lot of people can. Whenever I do a fantasy encounter without maps or terrain the players always ask several times if a creature is within range, or can they walk to it, where was the door again, and so on. It is why I prefer to use some form of map, because I have trouble kleeping that mental map up-to-date.
So at least for shoot-out encounters I wanted some terrain. I did search for something online but everything I could find was too much sci-fantasy or setting specific to my taste. Warhammer skulls, alien whatevers, junk like that incorporated in the print files.
All I wanted were floors, walls and doors with some scifi-vibe. Not the medievel stone/wood stuff. Just smooth no-fuss no-decoration no-skulls floors and walls with some scifi-ish look.
So, I eventually made some myself and it was a lot easier than I expected! These are just the basic plain non-decorated WDhex tiles, but with a little line along the edges. That's it!
The best thing about these tiles is that I just print them in aluminium coloured PLA, with Hilbert Curve top layer infill so it looks different and not printed-stripey, and then they are done. No painting needed!
We already used them in out try-out shoot-the baddies encounter and the work fine, line of sight was used, hiding behind walls was clear.
So here they are: the WDhex very basic SciFi floors and walls.
I admit, I am already thinking about what else I could make. Space station area tiles? I am oogling the Ships of the Expanse book and I am thinking about making tiles that will allow me to make ship-deck set ups.
But first I need to have some more sessions with my fresh new party in space, see what we like for gameplay and environments.
With only humans and actual laws opf physics.
And no magic, goblins, owlbears or spacehamsters.