We had our first (Set up) session of the M&S playtest on Saturday. We are starting with the All-Alien - AKA the Compact Space - setup It went very well! We started off with some basic decisions. I had pre-made a bunch of oxy-breather aliens, and offered them for the group's use, or they were free to create the various alien species. They chose to create the PC species - in fact each of the players created a species (all of them took the Trickster package, BTW) and they voted on what they liked. We put away the non-winners, because they were all tricksters, and decided to choose from among the group I had pre-made for the other species in our Compact.
Then they rolled the number of other species - five oxygen breathers and one Methane breather - chose them, and we made a quick star map. Then we got into the relations of the various species with each other. For this we used a set of 27 cards I had printed and cut out, with various relationships (secret dealings, valuable trade, owns central station, etc.) on them, shuffled them, and counted out four for each species. I distriuted the cards randomly among the players, and they began layout how the various species felt about each other, how they traded, and the like.
At the end, they went a completely different way than I had thought. The PC species they had created - the Tamburlins - had the most powerful jump drive, could change vector in mid-jump -both of these normally reserved for Methane Breathers, but there was only one of those - and controlled the central station. All the other species hated, distrusted, and/or feared the Tamburlin because of this. Also, piracy was rife in Tamburlin Space.
Then they made their association. There were two proposals, to create an espionage company and a company of pirates, so they compromised on Spyrates. The Tamburlin had recently undergone a revolution. The old ruler was in exile on Central Station, while his heir formed a privateer group. They would be trying to build up support with aliens, while hurting and trying to undermine and destroy the new government. Then they made their characters - a squad of spies and a squad of pirates.
This is my group! They are CRAZY MAD AND WONDERFUL!