What Science Fiction Games are being played these days?

Votan

Explorer
I was surprised to see very few science fiction (in the sense of spaceships not cyberpunks) games on the local gaming store and book store shelves (I was looking at a few of each kind). The only science fiction RPGs that I saw more than once were Serenity and Star Wars.

I tried looking up Traveller and it seems to have been mostly forgotten (aside from some poorly reviewed Mongoose game products that weren't actually stocked anywhere I looked). Hero seems to have undergone a revision (6th ed) that doesn't current support a space option.

Are the generic (non-universe specific) science fiction games gone?
 

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Andor

First Post
I was surprised to see very few science fiction (in the sense of spaceships not cyberpunks) games on the local gaming store and book store shelves (I was looking at a few of each kind). The only science fiction RPGs that I saw more than once were Serenity and Star Wars.

I tried looking up Traveller and it seems to have been mostly forgotten (aside from some poorly reviewed Mongoose game products that weren't actually stocked anywhere I looked). Hero seems to have undergone a revision (6th ed) that doesn't current support a space option.

Are the generic (non-universe specific) science fiction games gone?

While I haven't seen 6th ed hero I would be astonished if it wouldn't support a space campaign. GURPs has plentiful space options as well of course.

Aside from those two... I think so. Generic SF has always been pretty rare, really. And there are plenty of specific options like Dark Heresy/Rogue Trader, the SW games, there's a new Mechwarrior game due out soon, I've got GURPs Vorkosigan on order, there are some cRPG based games in the works, the Serenity RPG.

So the genre isn't dead by any means, but if you want a generic I think you either need to go with a modern+ generic system like Hero, Gurps or D20 modern or take another SF system you like and strip out the setting specific stuff.
 

Azgulor

Adventurer
GURPS - Still does sci-fi very well and has strong supplement support for the latest edition (4e)
True20 - One of/the most popular OGL multi-genre game on the market. Has several 3rd-party sci-fi settings available. [Reign of Discordia, Interface Zero]
Mutants & Masterminds - can be adapted for sci-fi gaming
D20 Modern - No longer published by WotC but still easy to find (at least online). Tons of 3rd-party PDF support.
Serenity
Battlestar Galactica
Cortex (the engine Serenity & Battlestar Galactica are built upon)
Traveller - Current edition published-by/licensed-to Mongoose. Several settings/licensed property books as well.

Science Fantasy:
Star Wars SAGA
Shadowrun



Since sci-fi sells less than fantasy, you won't often see these games in your typical bookstore chain (possible exception of Star Wars & Shadowrun), and certainly not in the numbers of fantasy RPGs.
 

The Green Adam

First Post
Are the generic (non-universe specific) science fiction games gone?

Not so much gone but largely forgotten it would seem.

Mongoose's Traveller is indeed a viable game and the closest thing to the classic version we've seen in a long time (that isn't reprints of the classic version that is). I still prefer the original, with a few elements from MegaTraveller and some house rules.

Starblazer Adventures is an interesting alternative from Cubicle 7 and based on the FATE/FUDGE engine if I'm not mistaken.

Firefly/Serenity and Battlestar Galactica have their own games and soon Doctor Who will too.

Now as always, while Sci-Fi dominates video games, TV and film, we see very little of that popularity translate to RPGs. I myself, a much bigger fan of Sci-Fi then Fantasy, have always found it odd. For years I've heard the 'shared past, variable future' theory as to why this is but the arguement loses strength under closer inspection. If it's hard to make a Sci-Fi game popular to a large number of people because everyone's view of Sci-Fi is different, why are we (gamers interested in SF) all complaining that no one makes what we are all clamoring for. We essentially all seem to want the same game.

For the most part a game between Hard Sci-Fi and Space Opera with FTL Spaceships, Future Tech Weapons, Powered Armor, Robots, Cybernetics and Aliens. Don't want Aliens, don't use them. Better yet, let's see the player's book or section have 5 sample aliens made with an 'alien design system' located in the GM section. The same could be done for Robots, Cybernetics, etc.

The thing is, Halo, Mass Effect, Star Trek, Star Wars, the upcoming Avatar movie and Babylon 5 are all different but are they really? Are you telling me that a single game couldn't be made that gives you the mixed feel of all these things?

Personally I homebrew most of my Sci-Fi these days using a self-modified variation of classic Traveller or else I play D6 Star Wars or Last Unicorn Games' ICON system Star Trek depending on my mood.

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Votan

Explorer
Cortex (the engine Serenity & Battlestar Galactica are built upon)

This is an interesting option. I've seen Serenity and BSG in Barnes & Noble so the system is definitely out there but I hadn't noticed that the core rules existed separately (or that the 2 systems both used it as there are items that could be mixed and matched between the 2).

Thanks for the head's up!

{I did know about GURPS but find it awkward in play (and I have tried it many times) so I guess I was subconsciously blocking it.}
 

Votan

Explorer
The thing is, Halo, Mass Effect, Star Trek, Star Wars, the upcoming Avatar movie and Babylon 5 are all different but are they really? Are you telling me that a single game couldn't be made that gives you the mixed feel of all these things?

I completely agree. When I was 20 years younger, the system that I loved was Traveller. It's definitely got quirks but I liked that you could capture the feel of most of those universes with it (okay, Star Wars was challenging).

I also think that you are right on with Aliens; a good system for building them and let the DM decide if they belong in his universe (like Babylon 5 or Star Trek) or not (like Battlestar Galactica or Serenity).
 

The Green Adam

First Post
You know what else has always amazed me and I know I've mentioned it before on these forums...

How come no one ever really followed the tried and true format of Player's Book, GM Book, Alien Book? I mean, it worked for a certain game I know became popular...;)

The way I would've done it actually would be akin to the original D6 Star Wars mixed with D&D...in addition to a book for the player and the GM, the third book would be a general sourcebook for sci-fi space adventure. Sticking with the idea that we are making (up) a generic game, we would have an additional 5 to 10 Alien PC Species not in the Player book, a dozen alien creatures of a helpful or adversarial nature, 5 PC style starships (freighters, scouts, etc.), a few capital ships and starfighters, 6 robots and a host of general equipment.

Since the GM book would have the systems for creating all of the above you could basically play indefinitely with just the three main books. Sound familiar?

Again, only Star Wars D6 ever really got it close to perfect. Alternity tried but Alternity suffered from being a TSR/WotC Sci-Fi game and all that entails.

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cattoy

First Post
I am in a biweekly Serenity game, we tried using the published rules and gave up and converted our characters to Hero 5e.
 

Cam Banks

Explorer
This is an interesting option. I've seen Serenity and BSG in Barnes & Noble so the system is definitely out there but I hadn't noticed that the core rules existed separately (or that the 2 systems both used it as there are items that could be mixed and matched between the 2).

Not only is there a "generic" Cortex System RPG, but you get a free copy of the PDF with it when you buy the print copy. We've got fans using Cortex for all sorts of licenses and settings, from Stargate: SGU to Dresden Files and Farscape. And of course Supernatural is our latest official Cortex-powered license, which is already a big hit.

Cheers,
Cam
 

Cam Banks

Explorer
I am in a biweekly Serenity game, we tried using the published rules and gave up and converted our characters to Hero 5e.

It's always good to go with what you're used to if the published rules don't click! You should check out the recently released Big Damn Heroes Handbook, though. Tons of stuff in there that's system-neutral.

Cheers,
Cam
 


JediSoth

Semi-Professional Author
Epic
Star Frontiers is a pretty good game, and you can still find copies on eBay and at various second-hand places. While most of the material was recycled into D20 Future, I find the original rules to be more suitable for that type of game.
 

Arawn76

Explorer
Ignoring foolishness to the contrary Alternity is a sweet sweet game and surprisingly easy to pick up second hand.

Funny enough one of my players was begging me to run a new game yesterday.
 

Ahnehnois

First Post
I've run the BSG rpg and I like the Cortex system. Rules-lite, deadly, plot points are nice-it's good for the settings its been published for.

That said d20 Modern (Future) is SRD-ed and well supported. I think the future rules are fantastic and you can do just about anything.
 
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Psion

Adventurer
Mongoose Traveller has been seeing some play at my table; my players (mostly new to Traveller) are lapping it up. The base book is very good; the quality of the supplements are hit-or-miss.

I'm also pretty impressed by Starblazer Adventures; it's an odd juxtaposition of fundamentally rules light system and huge toolkit. Not sure how well it would go in play, but I've pulled bits from it for other FATE based games.
 

Votan

Explorer
Mongoose Traveller has been seeing some play at my table; my players (mostly new to Traveller) are lapping it up. The base book is very good; the quality of the supplements are hit-or-miss.

How do the players handle the character generation system? It's a nice contrast to the "build" approach but definitely not what modern players are used to.

I have been tempted to try Traveller again just to get away from the modern focus on "character optimization".
 

Thanee

First Post
This is an interesting option. I've seen Serenity and BSG in Barnes & Noble so the system is definitely out there but I hadn't noticed that the core rules existed separately (or that the 2 systems both used it as there are items that could be mixed and matched between the 2).

I definitely like the Cortex System. The book could be prettier (like the Serenity or BSG main books, which are very nice), but as a plus it comes with a download code for a free PDF version.

Savage Worlds is also an option for pretty much anything, of course, as is the HERO System (6th edition coming out now).

Always depends a bit in what direction you want to go (realistic, heroic, cinematic, etc).

Bye
Thanee
 

Psion

Adventurer
How do the players handle the character generation system? It's a nice contrast to the "build" approach but definitely not what modern players are used to.

I can unequivocally say they love chargen more than any other game I've played with them. I will caveat that I gave them a pool of "reroll points" to help temper the downside of the randomness, but the way the system builds a backstory, makes connections between PCs before play, and ensures all skill needs are addressed, is pleasing for the players and convenient for the GM.

I ran a campaign scenario with most of the PCs being non-combatant spaces and troubleshooters. When they ran into a combat part, I let them hire mercenaries, who would also be PCs. They had so much fun making characters the first time, they actually relished the chance to make a second set of characters.
 


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