Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out, and now I've finally seen it - review coming soon.
Alpha Blue also debuted on December 18th. Alpha Blue is a vintage sci-fi RPG, campaign setting, and blast in a dirty, digital shot glass. It's got a lot of everything, inspired by every sci-fi TV show and film I could think of. Even the shitty ones. Sometimes, especially the shitty ones!
But one thing I didn't get too deep into was the spaghetti western aesthetic, which is where the original Star Wars trilogy was born and Episode VII continues the saga. Below are some stylistic aspects of the traditional spaghetti western that I gleaned from several websites... plus my own memory banks. Consider it bonus content for Alpha Blue.
Spaghetti Western Tropes
- Everything looks dirty, aged, decayed, discarded, used up, and lived in - even the people look scarred, unshaven, and like they haven't bathed in weeks. For a spaghetti western space opera, think "used future".
- The desert! It just seems like the place, doesn't it? Remote, desolate, and forlorn with every inch covered in sand. Add belligerent heat, ungodly thirst, and scorpion squids for good measure.
- Gratuitous violence and buckets of blood. We want to hear the bones cracking, snapping, and breaking. We want to see how red the blood runs. We want to feel our feet kicking the corpses.
- The kind of cigar Clint Eastwood smoked in The Man with No Name trilogy is called Toscano (Toscani is the plural). They are densely packed tobacco, very dark, and strong, too. They have a habit of going out frequently so you have to constantly keep them going or re-light them. Mr. Eastwood claimed that smoking them during filming put him in the right frame of mind - "kind of a fog". Chewing tobacco is also fine because, really, what doesn't look dingy and gross after it's been spat on with chewing tobacco?
- Clothing: you've got your buffalo or beaver hat with leather hat band, cowboy railroad shirt, weapon of choice (some kind of blaster, most likely) with gun holster belt and bullet loops for extra ammo, poncho or duster, suede boots with spurs, and maybe a neck scarf for good measure.
- Banditos! Most of the principle characters of this story live outside the law. Maybe they're career bandits or mercenaries turned thieves just trying to get by. Since corruption is a way of life, criminal acts are almost a necessity.
- Cantinas! This is more than just a run of the mill bar - a cantina is the meeting place where all types gather. All types, that is, except for proper ladies, minors, and - in some cases - droids. There's alcohol, food, whores, music, gambling, and who knows what else?
- Emotional motivations: revenge, lust, greed, hatred, love, etc. There's definitely a reason for why the characters do what they do. Exploit it!
- Death! From graveyards to gallows, there's dying in the air. This goes hand in hand with the darkness and cynicism infusing the spaghetti western genre. Death is just one wrong move away. Its presence colors the world and our characters are forced to breathe it in like asbestos.
- Treasure! There's something in it for those who make it out alive. With great risk should come great reward. It's the dream for all the scum and slaves trapped on this godforsaken rock. Why else would they stick their necks out? Space gold!
- Revolution! These are troubled times, a darkness hangs over the land. Remember the grim conditions mentioned earlier? Well, there's a reason for it. Whoever's in charge either wants to keep it that way (oppressive) or just doesn't give a fuck (nihilistic). That means a lot of people don't have that much to lose, which means things can change. Probably violently but, hey, that's the way it goes sometimes.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little tour down Lee Van Cleef Gulch. Watch out for rogue cyborgs now, ya here! ;)
Authored by Venger Satanis