TTRPGs that have a "Wagon Train to the Stars" feel?

Libertad

Hero
Based off of the initial concept for Star Trek, this focuses on science fiction centered around a group of interstellar explorers visiting strange new worlds. In some cases it's for research purposes, others to harvest and exploit the resources of other planets, and in some cases settlers seeking to find a new planet to call home. What ttrpg rulesets best exemplify this feel? The only one which I have more than a passing familiarity is Stars Without Number, whose sector creation tools and emphasis on sandbox play make it quite optimal for this gameplay.

Traveller is perhaps the oldest known RPG focusing on this subgenre.

40k's Rogue Trader focuses on the PCs being part of a ship's crew venturing into unexplored regions of space for profit.

Star Trek has had various ttrpgs, notably the FASA system and more recently Modiphius' Star Trek Adventures.

How do these rulesets stack up against SWN? I'm aware that SWN's tools are system-neutral and can likely be used with these other RPGs, but I'm more interested in how well these other RPGs stand on their own.
 
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I really like how Starforged has a focused and fast set of tables for building out planets, people and ships - the game is designed to be played solo, but can also handle like 3 PCs and a GM. It has some decent point crawl rules with more abstracted/narrative resources under simply a 5 HP bar of Supply. And there are tables for helping creating interesting encounters as you travel. PCs establish major goals (a bit like Burning Wheel) to guide play, so its highly flexible to all kinds of adventures. It even has an XP system based on exploration, completing your goals and making contacts.

It very much is wrapped in PbtA DNA based a lot off Dungeon World, so its better for fans of more narrative games. It would definitely be my go-to for exploration in space. You can also check out how the system basically works with its free predecessor, Ironsworn (but its gritty viking fantasy), though Starforged has some nice quality of life fixes and (IMO) a nicer advancement system since its counts getting contacts and exploring for earning XP.
 

dragoner

KosmicRPG.com
This is sort of what Makara's Sea is about, a couple of space cruisers exploring the unknown, one could take any planet generator, and generate a main world for them to visit, or expanded system generation, kinda solo-playable.
 


aramis erak

Legend
Based off of the initial concept for Star Trek, this focuses on science fiction centered around a group of interstellar explorers visiting strange new worlds. In some cases it's for research purposes, others to harvest and exploit the resources of other planets, and in some cases settlers seeking to find a new planet to call home. What ttrpg rulesets best exemplify this feel?
It was really not a good comparison for ST:TOS... Other than the constant travel, it's pretty poor match.
Traveller is perhaps the oldest known RPG focusing on this subgenre.
No, it really isn't. It's more in the Military SF genre and Mecantile SF genre; Even the Imperial survey rules are for a census, not new worlds. Almost everywhere is people and it's all settled centuries before... One can force a survey mode game with it... but it's not been a focus of GDW/IG editions eras. The emphasis on travel, mercenary, and mercantile activity is there in all editions through at least MGT1e.
Only in TNE is exploration really a setting trope, and it's about finding out what's left there from before, not into the unknown.

Even the Traveller: 2300/2300 A.D. setting isn't about new systems - given the catalog used, and the 7.7 LY limit, mean there's no frontier left in reach, and all but the Kafer worlds are described.

Now, for actually getting the Wagon Train feel,

Things I think needed for a good exploratory mode more akin are...
  • Decent ship rules.
  • Interstellar travel
    • Preferably FTL
  • System and World Generation
  • Rules for determining what's ahead and on world.
  • Some form of long term power constraint, but not too constraining.
Of the Trek games, the ones hitting all of those: FASA Trek barely meets it; LUG hits it well, Decipher Trek does OK, STA lacks coherent world gen/sys gen. WNMHGB and Far Trek do better than most. Starship's & Spacemen (S&S) does OK, and is the one that includes lots of space terrain other than systems. The board game, Star Explorer, can readily be used as a mission generator for S&S, and plays well on its own.. Note also: almost all but S&S/SE lack long term power constraint in rules.
The avoid list is Heritage Models Star Trek, Prime Directive (all editions are unsuitable for this mode, tho PD 1E is the least far). Alpha Quadrant is mostly just proof of concept character gen.

Real Old School folk will like S&S 1e; fans of (IMO, the absolutely horribly lame) Mutant Future will likely prefer 2e...

WEG Star Wars 2e/2er and WEG d6 Space are both good choices save for the long term constraints - tho one can extrapolate from GG6 for that aspect.

WEG's Shatterzone, TSR's Alternity, Leading Edge's Aliens Adventure Game, FGU's Space Opera, and Other Suns, and several others, lack one or more of the elements, IMO. But they're usable. Same is true of Free League's Coriolis and Alien. They're not going to have the wagon train feel, but can do the trek feel almost passably, IMO.
 

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