Recommended a hard-science space RPG

I feel the need for the sci-fi campaign next, but I don't want a 'build your own galaxy' ruleset.

I would like a defined setting, and rules that lead a lot closer to reality than fantasy. Definitely no magic.

Looking for a Firefly (TV series) feel.

Coriolis, Alien RPG, GURPS, and Mothership RPG are out, already looked at them.

EDIT:
You know, I realize that I have gotten things backwards:

I need to make a list of sci-fi games supported by Roll20, and review those. It wouldn't help to get pointed to the perfect game, only to find out Roll20 doesn't support it.

Old habits get in the way.

Thanks for all the suggestions.
 
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Mezuka

Hero
Cypher System with The Stars are Fire.

A review of the setting book:
 





Bayushi_seikuro

Adventurer
Been playing Traveller. We've finished the Fall of Tinath starter campaign and moved onto basically being freelancers between three fleets.

Character creation is a fun mini-game by itself, and also incentivizes players working on ways they know each other before the game starts. For instance, my character was born to space scavengers, and along the way to becoming a Senior Scout, he helped one PC heist a megacorp's algae technology (gaining more slugthrower skills) and another PC helped him 'space' a rival game on a derelict ship (gaining Remote Ops for a skill). The gunplay in combat is very deadly if you're not careful. I had rolled that I got my own scout ship from the Scout Service and we've been adventuring from that - we just hauled in enough money to buy an AI to 'crew' the ship (the AI will count as five crewmembers spread out amongst Pilot, Gunner and (Sensors I think?)
 




Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
Diaspora is a FATE game that leans hard sf, aiming to recreate the feel of old-school Traveller in a small, tight universe (like Firefly). (disclaimer: I'm one of the authors). It does expect a session-zero in which the whole table (players and ref) "build the galaxy" (4-8 systems), but the work is shared equally and it helps generate player buy-in.
 


Diaspora is a FATE game that leans hard sf, aiming to recreate the feel of old-school Traveller in a small, tight universe (like Firefly). (disclaimer: I'm one of the authors). It does expect a session-zero in which the whole table (players and ref) "build the galaxy" (4-8 systems), but the work is shared equally and it helps generate player buy-in.
Thanks, but as I noted in the OP, I specifically don't want a 'build a galaxy' system.
 

I hear you. But you might be painting yourself into a corner with this notion of realism.

If I were you I'd use Mongoose Traveller and set it in your setting of choice. Could absolutely do Terradyne, for example, or The Expanse, with minimal tweaks.
I might, you are right.

But I'm not the sort to settle. If I can't find the right setting, I'll do something else.

I've played Traveller, but I found it colorless, and too 'big picture', lacking in PC-level focus.
 




aramis erak

Legend
I feel the need for the sci-fi campaign next, but I don't want a 'build your own galaxy' ruleset.

I would like a defined setting, and rules that lead a lot closer to reality than fantasy. Definitely no magic.

Looking for a Firefly (TV series) feel.

Coriolis, Alien RPG, GURPS, and Mothership RPG are out, already looked at them.
Knowing you restrict yourself to PDF only...

Traveller is the closest feel (as in, what you're looking for is probably better described as a Traveller feel), and the hardest-science version of Traveller is Traveller: The New Era... it's still got fusion rockets and gravitics, and there are psionics rules, but said psionics rules are easily ignored, and only a minor part of the official setting. On the other hand, the ability of the deo-chips to transmit a virus that rewrites the chips of the receiving computer/comm-gear... pretty much requires a (non-present) psionics component to be sensible.

Which said, setting wise, there's a HUGE raft of it for Traveller... but most of it isn't regressed to TNE levels... it's the post-holocaust version of Traveller.

Albedo (the Chessex/Thoughts & Images editions) are fairly hard SF; the Albedo Ship Sourcebook is the hardest SF ships supplement I've seen. And yet, it does so with minimal crunch. There's over 500 pages of the comic book online at the author's website: Albedo . There is excellent setting in the Chessex/T&I version (Chessex is the 2nd ed, T&I the first). But it's an anthro setting (with a science based reason - humans existed in the setting). The system mechanics are not as smooth as I'd like, but it's quite playable, and is set between wars between the EDF and the Independent Lapine Republic.

Note also: GURPS is about the hardest mainstream SF you're going to find that isn't attaining hard-sf by being rules light... and thus leaving setting restriction to the GM saying "No." No version of Traveller is as hard SF as GURPS Terradyne or Transhuman Space.
 

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