Continuing a basic GUMSHOE motif, Ashen Stars encourages GMs to find inspirations for scenarios in the news of the day. In so doing, it follows in the issue-oriented footsteps of the Star Trek franchise, the Battlestar Galactica reboot, and the general observation that all science fiction is really about the present.
For example, you might springboard from the recent spate of scientific studies exploring the connection between genetics and political beliefs. The PC team of freelance troubleshooters takes a contract to return the supposedly brainwashed daughter of a wealthy shipping magnate to her homeworld. They find her on a planet resettled by members of a reactionary nufaith. Investigation leads them to the colony’s water system, which turns out to be dosed by chemicals that activate the complex genetic response predisposing people to loyalty, obedience, and conformism. Do they concentrate only on spiriting away their target, hoping she’ll return to form when the substance clears her system? Or do they take it on themselves to restore the population’s free will by destroying the chemical mechanisms of social control? And if they do this, will the people they’re saving thank them for it?