Mars Colony 12 Principles of Play — No. 8

Let Fear Inspire Your Play. Fear Cards ensure you are thinking about how the real world interfaces with your fictional Martian setting. Once created, however, they don’t intrude, and they don’t get pushy. There is no mechanic that forces anyone to pull a new card. They are simply waiting for you when you need them. Don’t be afraid to use them, but likewise don’t feel obligated to make use of every aspect of every card. Even the act of writing the cards is enough to set most players’ creative potential in motion. The cards are as much for establishing tone as they are for in-the-moment inspiration. In a two-player game especially, you can’t rely on a table full of creative minds. So instead let the little details created during the preparation phase fill that void.

When you do use a card, use it immediately to color whatever is happening in the current scene. Fear Cards often hint at large systematic problems. But the cards are not obligations. Resist the urge to describe the entirety of an insurmountable problem. Don’t put that sort of pressure on yourself. Instead, start small and leave it at that. Let the problem, like all problems in the colony, spool out naturally and gradually. Your real-world fear becomes the seed within your fiction that transforms into something much more frightening as it develops and combines with other Fear Cards. Allow each idea to mutate into something new and horrifying.

Think about that for a second, and what you might create using someone like Trump as just the seed of something bigger. On second thought, maybe don’t.