Choosing the best system for a homebrew space opera campaign

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Tyler Do'Urden

Soap Maker
Ultimately I decided that I was too busy at the time for RPGs and stuck to board gaming for the next few years - I wouldn't start RPing again until I moved back to the US, and didn't start any serious campaigns until 2019.

I did eventually find the system that was ideal for this - Stars Without Number. We played several games of it last summer - but my group decided we preferred fantasy. So now I'm running a 5E campaign (with rules modifications and elements from Worlds Without Number, Stars Without Number, and ACKS) in a far-future science-fantasy setting, something ala Dying Earth or Numenera (as well as the influences above).

Tyler Do'Urden

Soap Maker
I have heard good things about Stars Without Number. Intrigued by the amount of tables promised between its pages.
It's worth it for the tables alone - especially because it's free. I also highly recommend it's sister game, Worlds Without Number - which is a great toolset for worldbuilding for any fantasy game. And is also free!

aramis erak

-Traveller d20. Never really looked at it, but it might be a good fit for what I've got in mind.
It's fairly conceptually close to a no-force d20 Star Wars (not SWSE). (You'll find my name in the credits under Lead Playtesters, along with another roughly half dozen.)

If you want the game that was playtested, cut the prior service and adventure XP awards in half.

There are a number of bits that made it unpopular with d20 system fans...
Armor works entirely differently from most.
Armor results in doing two different counts of the rolled damages.
Criticals can kill even high level characters.

I like it, but not enough to run it again. I do, however, use parts ported to a hybrid edition.

It's version of the High Guard combat is VERY mechnically different from CT/MT/TNE/T4 combat... but very similar end results. The structure points mechanic is Dr Skull's tweak of either Hunter or MJD's base. And it works well.

Hunter's expanded version of the Bk 2 trade tables is a personal favorite.


GURPS Space for sure. With High Tech and Ultratech, few parts of CyberPunk allowed. Best Sci Fi game I ever played over about 3-years in the late 80s/early 90s. Still one of my all time top two games in nearly 40-years role playing. We did this after Traveller before which was just too limited for our style of play.

Obviously awesome GM didn’t hurt… and happened to be a serious artist as well so always awesome Christmas gifts of our characters and when he had something really amazing he had dreamed up to see it after he described it was always incredible.


I'm going to recommend the battlelords of the 23rd century core system. It's written for a hi-tech action oriented sf setting and is pretty solid as a general purpose system, and it has so much gear you can pick and choose items to stock most space opera settings. The baisc system covers vehicle and ship combat, and the setting is a space opera so you can mold it to a lot of settings. I think it would be good for mass effect, for example. You could run traveller in it by leaving out the more gonzo stuff. It could handle star wars too. Just add force rules.

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