Space Adventure RPGs

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Mapper/Publisher
Fantasy Games Unlimited produced Space Opera in 1981, and if you have a firm idea on what type of sci-fi game you want to run this game is not a bad choice. It is straight up aliens and strange worlds and fantastical science fiction. But if you are looking for a particular setting then find the game which is focused on the particular setting you are into. Space Opera is best used by Star Masters who are interested in creating their own original sci-fi universe.
I still have some of the star system guides, I think, Confederate States Alliance is one. I'd say my development of my Kronusverse setting for Starfinder is procedurally more like Space Opera than Traveller or anything else of inspiration.
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
I still have some of the star system guides, I think, Confederate States Alliance is one. I'd say my development of my Kronusverse setting for Starfinder is procedurally more like Space Opera than Traveller or anything else of inspiration.

SO had some colorful material, and a few of the mechanical ideas were interesting, but in many ways it was pretty much a train-wreck of different-mechanics-for-every-purpose and unclear character generation rules. I tried more than once to get ready to run it and never managed, and I can't say that of virtually any other FGU game of the time, some of which appeared more complex on paper.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Fantasy Games Unlimited produced Space Opera in 1981, and if you have a firm idea on what type of sci-fi game you want to run this game is not a bad choice. It is straight up aliens and strange worlds and fantastical science fiction. But if you are looking for a particular setting then find the game which is focused on the particular setting you are into. Space Opera is best used by Star Masters who are interested in creating their own original sci-fi universe.
It can also be described as "Traveller redone by guys who love complexity and prefer Roddenberry to Doc Smith and CJ Cherryh."
It supports the same range of activities, it has a traveller inspired character prior experience system (source: Phil McGreggor via email, circa 2002), and lots of Jeff Dee art.... it can be used as easily for gritty to derring-do focued campaigns, but with the notice that all the drives are essentially warp drives - the Sublight and FTL are different regimes of a singular warp effect - and the weapons are essentially phasers and photons only.
 

aramis erak

Legend
SO had some colorful material, and a few of the mechanical ideas were interesting, but in many ways it was pretty much a train-wreck of different-mechanics-for-every-purpose and unclear character generation rules. I tried more than once to get ready to run it and never managed, and I can't say that of virtually any other FGU game of the time, some of which appeared more complex on paper.
Having run some 2-3 session adventures...
char gen isn't bad, just poorly presented; skills are bought at the end based upon class, career, and time in services.
It's design is, much like traveller, custom rules for most of the skills. It does, however, require a lot more math...

It's up on Drive through for the brave/foolish/mathlovers...
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
It can also be described as "Traveller redone by guys who love complexity and prefer Roddenberry to Doc Smith and CJ Cherryh."
It supports the same range of activities, it has a traveller inspired character prior experience system (source: Phil McGreggor via email, circa 2002), and lots of Jeff Dee art.... it can be used as easily for gritty to derring-do focued campaigns, but with the notice that all the drives are essentially warp drives - the Sublight and FTL are different regimes of a singular warp effect - and the weapons are essentially phasers and photons only.

Star Trek and Star Wars (parts make the latter obvious).

And the space weaponry is all that, but there was actually a wide variety of personal scale weaponry.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Having run some 2-3 session adventures...
char gen isn't bad, just poorly presented; skills are bought at the end based upon class, career, and time in services.

Maybe so. All I know is it managed to defeat me during a period when I was having no trouble engaging with the Hero System and Aftermath!

It's design is, much like traveller, custom rules for most of the skills. It does, however, require a lot more math...

I never was a fan of that approach in general, and adding in the level of crunch to it that SO had (and to make it clear, I'm fine with crunch but if I'm going to have it I want a system with a common approach) was, well, a thing.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Star Trek and Star Wars (parts make the latter obvious).

And the space weaponry is all that, but there was actually a wide variety of personal scale weaponry.
Not unlike Traveller again!
In all seriousness, it's Phil & Ed's "advanced Traveller" - the star wars effect was minimal in core, but yes, once you get to the ship books, becomes VERY obvious. But the ship mechanics remain, throughout, purely CT plus TOS, TAS, & SFTM Star Trek.
Maybe so. All I know is it managed to defeat me during a period when I was having no trouble engaging with the Hero System and Aftermath!
Once you get the disconnects, it actually runs really well. Generate atts and background, do careers, then buy all the eligible skills (by class and career) desired
I never was a fan of that approach in general, and adding in the level of crunch to it that SO had (and to make it clear, I'm fine with crunch but if I'm going to have it I want a system with a common approach) was, well, a thing.
In 1981, the separate rules by skill was pretty much the norm.
Rolemaster was moving towards a unified mechanic, but had a bunch of exceptions in skill handling (Adrenal Moves, Body Dev, SP Dev. Spell Aquisition).
Palladium had only a couple special case non-combat skills, but every combat skill was a special table of modifiers... and early palladium wasn't even X+(Y per level), so the skills were 1-3 skills per progression
RuneQuest was still possessed of multiple skill approaches (as it was 2E) with a few boolean, most percentile.
Star Frontiers iwas a mostly unified skill system, but still had rules blocks per skill with different odds per subskill, and each non-weapon skill being a chunk of rulebook space.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
In 1981, the separate rules by skill was pretty much the norm.

You might get some of it, but that wasn't, for example, the approach in RQ. Or even Champions (outside of combat, and why that used such a different process is a historical accident rather than a deliberate decision). Both of those added up to "make your roll, modified by difficulty." The difficulty numbers might be spelled out under individual skills, or you'd get things like opposed skills, but the fundamental resolution was all the same.

Rolemaster was moving towards a unified mechanic, but had a bunch of exceptions in skill handling (Adrenal Moves, Body Dev, SP Dev. Spell Aquisition).

Well, arguably, those were proto-talents that were done as skills because nobody had any idea about something like modern talent systems. Even TFT sort of lumped them together.

Palladium had only a couple special case non-combat skills, but every combat skill was a special table of modifiers... and early palladium wasn't even X+(Y per level), so the skills were 1-3 skills per progression
RuneQuest was still possessed of multiple skill approaches (as it was 2E) with a few boolean, most percentile.

I don't think I agree, outside of the obvious case of combat skills. You pretty much had straight resolved skills, and opposed skills. What else was there?

Star Frontiers iwas a mostly unified skill system, but still had rules blocks per skill with different odds per subskill, and each non-weapon skill being a chunk of rulebook space.

I'm not really talking about taking space out to do separate modifiers, but where the resolution itself is different for various skills.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I don't think I agree, outside of the obvious case of combat skills. You pretty much had straight resolved skills, and opposed skills. What else was there?
Note: I'm looking at the 2nd ed of RQ - NOT the 1984 3rd ed, which is, functionally, VERY VERY different.
Alchemy - 2 pages of special case by potion type skill. And Alchemy skills are boolean... "... the type which are learned totally or not at all" (p 45)
Oratory has a special table for its meaning
Language skills aren't rolled most of the time and has a half page of mechanics.
Spells (both types) are different (and from each other)

I'm not really talking about taking space out to do separate modifiers, but where the resolution itself is different for various skills.
The resolution itself only unified in RQ with 3rd ed... wherein Avalon Hill forces Chaosium to get professional...
excepting languages. :)
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Note: I'm looking at the 2nd ed of RQ - NOT the 1984 3rd ed, which is, functionally, VERY VERY different.
Alchemy - 2 pages of special case by potion type skill. And Alchemy skills are boolean... "... the type which are learned totally or not at all" (p 45)

I'd forgotten there was even Alchemy rules in the book, to tell you the truth, so I'll give you that one (though we mostly played 1e so it may not have existed there.)

Oratory has a special table for its meaning

As long as the resolution is the same, I don't consider that any more significant than the fact that, say, jumping or climbing rolls do; how the rolls actually effect a situation beyond crit/special/succeed/fail/fumble doesn't seem to be special casing in the sense I was using it.

Language skills aren't rolled most of the time and has a half page of mechanics.

I'll give you those.

Spells (both types) are different (and from each other)

Until sorcery came along, spells simply weren't skills; they were resisted rolls, but that doesn't seem any more significant than the fact damage rolls aren't done like skills. Again, that's output issues, not resolution per se.

The resolution itself only unified in RQ with 3rd ed... wherein Avalon Hill forces Chaosium to get professional...
excepting languages. :)

As you can see, I disagree with all but two of your examples here (one of which I'd forgotten even existed).
 

Jay Murphy1

Meterion, Mastermind of Time !
Having run some 2-3 session adventures...
char gen isn't bad, just poorly presented; skills are bought at the end based upon class, career, and time in services.
It's design is, much like traveller, custom rules for most of the skills. It does, however, require a lot more math...

It's up on Drive through for the brave/foolish/mathlovers...
There is a very useful character creation excel spreadsheet available which does a great job of crunching the number for you and templating a complete character sheet. Takes forty minutes out of character creation by my estimate and use. Even faster if you are not being picky on all the character's skills. I wouldn't think of playing the game without it.
 

Jay Murphy1

Meterion, Mastermind of Time !
It can also be described as "Traveller redone by guys who love complexity and prefer Roddenberry to Doc Smith and CJ Cherryh."
It supports the same range of activities, it has a traveller inspired character prior experience system (source: Phil McGreggor via email, circa 2002), and lots of Jeff Dee art.... it can be used as easily for gritty to derring-do focued campaigns, but with the notice that all the drives are essentially warp drives - the Sublight and FTL are different regimes of a singular warp effect - and the weapons are essentially phasers and photons only.
It has more detailed rules for creating characters of an alien race, I suppose. And the combat system is an easier grasp for me than Classic Traveller. I love Traveller's combat system, but for the cinematic I always felt Space Opera's combat rules were better suited.
 
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Jay Murphy1

Meterion, Mastermind of Time !
SO had some colorful material, and a few of the mechanical ideas were interesting, but in many ways it was pretty much a train-wreck of different-mechanics-for-every-purpose and unclear character generation rules. I tried more than once to get ready to run it and never managed, and I can't say that of virtually any other FGU game of the time, some of which appeared more complex on paper.
I challenged myself to find out if it was indeed a train wreck of different mechanics and sub-systems. To clarify my bias, I don't mind sub-systems in my ttrpg. The book is badly edited. A master class in how to make your simple idea opaque to your reader. What I did is, with highlighter in hand, marked every rule I could find which was a resolution mechanic specific to character actions. The stuff you would run across in any ttrpg session. Basically everything except Starship Combat. Once I had them all on two sheets of paper the game became pretty similar to anything else I had tried as an elven year-old. Here is the PDF for those interested.
 

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Yora

Legend
There is a very useful character creation excel spreadsheet available which does a great job of crunching the number for you and templating a complete character sheet. Takes forty minutes out of character creation by my estimate and use. Even faster if you are not being picky on all the character's skills. I wouldn't think of playing the game without it.
But why would you even want to play a game that requires this? A game doesn't have to be just playable, but also be more fun than alternative games. This sounds more like a major nuisance to me.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
But why would you even want to play a game that requires this? A game doesn't have to be just playable, but also be more fun than alternative games. This sounds more like a major nuisance to me.

What degree of complexity you want in character generation is always going to be a mirror for the observer. I've gotten plenty of fun out of pretty complex character generation system games in the past, and been left cold by ones with really simple ones. There's no real relationship, per se.
 

practicalm

Explorer
Fantasy Games Unlimited produced Space Opera in 1981, and if you have a firm idea on what type of sci-fi game you want to run this game is not a bad choice. It is straight up aliens and strange worlds and fantastical science fiction. But if you are looking for a particular setting then find the game which is focused on the particular setting you are into. Space Opera is best used by Star Masters who are interested in creating their own original sci-fi universe.
Actually I enjoyed the different Space Atlas books for Space Opera.
The game is a bit clunky compared to modern systems.
GURPS Space has great charts for making systems if you want an exploration game, it's worth it even if you are playing a different system.
 

aramis erak

Legend
It has more detailed rules for creating characters of an alien race, I suppose. And the combat system is and easier grasp for me than Classic Traveller. I love Traveller's combat system, but for the cinematic I always felt Space Opera's combat rules were better suited.
The math was the hangup for many of my players...
I challenged myself to find out if it was indeed a train wreck of different mechanics and sub-systems. To clarify my bias, I don't mind sub-systems in my ttrpg. The book is badly edited. A master class in how to make your simple idea opaque to your reader.
Yup. It's not hard to run, but it's hard to learn from the books. Still, many manged to.

It's a different feel from Traveller, despite having, almost item for item, the same ground covered.

Spacemaster likewise covers most of the same ground (no trade rules in the books I have, tho')
 

Jay Murphy1

Meterion, Mastermind of Time !
What degree of complexity you want in character generation is always going to be a mirror for the observer. I've gotten plenty of fun out of pretty complex character generation system games in the past, and been left cold by ones with really simple ones. There's no real relationship, per se.
I enjoy the life path systems found in Cyberpunk 2020, Traveller, and Warhammer Fantasy RPG. Maybe even more than I like running the game. Now as far as running a game, I really groove on the DC Heroes heartbreaker The Blood of Heroes. The system makes running super hero games fun for me. Writing up the stats for NPCs is a snap. Same for equipment and vehicles. Buut, if I had to do character builds by the numbers by hand, I would not, and did not, play it. There is a nice character creation piece of freeware. If I want to see how my villains stack up points-wise to the players it gives me a number fast, and this one too prints out final character sheet useable at the table.

Same with Space Opera, I groove on the ability to customize (house rule) character creation to help enforce the flavor of sci-fi I want to run, and/or telegraph to my potential players. But there are repetitive skill computations which are tedious and detract from solidifying a character concept. And there are not many short-cuts available in the system, you kind of want most, if not all, NPC stats, attributes, weapon statistics, and combat skill numbers available during most any roleplaying encounter. You do want to read your skills and note how they function differently then each other. Counting points gets in the way of this. If I cannot stat-up NPCs easily I'm going to cut it and choose a different system which will.

Amazing what a character creation pivot table (excel spreadsheet) can do to remove this hurdle. I am not familiar on how to create these excel templates, but I used one made for Space Opera and I love it! I make up all sorts of characters based on setting ideas I come up with and use the character creator to crunch all the numbers and fill out the derived stats and format a character sheet. Now I cannot wait to start running a casual game of Space Opera.
 


Thomas Shey

Legend
I actually have never heard of Space Opera before.

It was one of FGU's games, and even though it was one of the most well known ones (along with Chivalry and Sorcery and Villains and Vigilantes) they've mostly faded from popular awareness by now, even if they were pretty well known away from the D&D sphere in the day.
 

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