What Science Fiction Games are being played these days?


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Treebore

First Post
Currently running Mongoose Traveller, just recently wrappedc up a SW SAGA game, and I too have Starblazer and considering giving it a try. My problem is how similar FATE mechanics are to Traveller, so thinking of just adapting it to Traveller.
 

DarkKestral

First Post
Currently running Mongoose Traveller, just recently wrappedc up a SW SAGA game, and I too have Starblazer and considering giving it a try. My problem is how similar FATE mechanics are to Traveller, so thinking of just adapting it to Traveller.

I don't see how FATE's mechanics are all that similar to Traveller's. FATE's big thing is Aspects, something Traveller doesn't really have. And the Stunt system is unlike Traveller too.

Could you explain your thought process some? I'm really interested in this comparison.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Would you count Rifts or Shadowrun as a generic sci fi?

I think Sci Fi's big problem is it doesn't have a "standard" race mix like fantasy does, or a staple set of creatures that's generic enough. At this point and time, every science fiction universe is pretty unique; a common world hasn't yet been created that has unified sci fi, much like Tolkien's works did.

I mean, you can expect just about every fantasy game to have:

- Elves
- Dwarves
- A small race (such as Halflings or Gnomes)
- Orcs

And enemies such as
- Undead
- Trolls
- Dragons
- Goblinoids
- Demons
etc.

There's no corresponding generic set of science fiction races/monsters that is common to the genre. In fact, a lot of times the ONLY race you can choose is human, and all the other races are enigmas and/or enemies.

The closest you might be able to come to set of common sci fi races is:

- Augmented Humans
- An insect-like race
- An anthromorphic race (like cat-humans)
- Greys
- Robots/androids

Star Wars is perhaps the closest to "generic" sci fi I can think of, but it's still under copyright at this time.
 

Hussar

Legend
I'm currently running a Sufficiently Advanced campaign. Very hard SF, set in a post humanist setting, several thousand years in the future.

Best of all, it's 100% free.

Fantastic system and a very cool setting too.

You can download it (legally and aboveboard) here

I'm totally loving it.
 

Treebore

First Post
I'm currently running a Sufficiently Advanced campaign. Very hard SF, set in a post humanist setting, several thousand years in the future.

Best of all, it's 100% free.

Fantastic system and a very cool setting too.

You can download it (legally and aboveboard) here

I'm totally loving it.


Cool! Our "Thursday Irregulars Group" has been running various systems for about 6 week periods for a couple of years now, glad to see other people doing the same, on Maptools as well!
 

The Green Adam

First Post
Cool! Our "Thursday Irregulars Group" has been running various systems for about 6 week periods for a couple of years now, glad to see other people doing the same, on Maptools as well!

Indeed. This does my heart good. Its amazing to me that I'm 40 and most of the gamers I know around my own age have only played D&D or maybe a handful of other games.

To me that's just bizarre. I think of it like eating only one kind of food every meal for the rest of your life. I mean I love tacos but I can't eat them every night of the week for years and years.

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The Green Adam

First Post
Would you count Rifts or Shadowrun as a generic sci fi?.

No. At least not to me. IMHO you couldn't get further from generic sci-fi then these two. Both encompass other genres and both have strong fantasy elements.

I think Sci Fi's big problem is it doesn't have a "standard" race mix like fantasy does, or a staple set of creatures that's generic enough. At this point and time, every science fiction universe is pretty unique; a common world hasn't yet been created that has unified sci fi, much like Tolkien's works did..

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement and to me that's what makes Sci-Fi so much more interesting then fantasy. At the same time, a vast number of Sci-Fi titles share the following idea about aliens:

Alien species in Sci-Fi ficition incorporate interesting looking creature concepts (visuals different from humans) with unusual cultural complexities (societies different from those on Earth). That's all I'm asking for in a Sci-Fi game.

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Smeelbo

First Post
Starblazer Adventures!

I recommend the Starblazer Adventure Game, which is essentially FUDGE/FATE Spirit of the Century expanded into space. In contrast to SotC, Starblazer is better designed for "gritty" play, character advancement, detailed gear, campaigning, and large scale organizations.

Starblazer Adventures, while a thick book with $50 price tag, is a complete kit for fast paced collaborative science fiction campaigning, and requires no supplements: only pen, paper, dice and players.

I am very happy with the game, despite a fair number of stupid typos (perhaps they are "flavor" from the comic books).

If you're planning on attending next DunDraCon, I'll be running a game Saturday February 13 2010.

Smeelbo
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Very hard SF, set in a post humanist setting, several thousand years in the future.

Hr. When you say "post humanist", what do you mean by that? If you mean "transhumanist"... well, I'm curious to hear how you fit that in with "hard" SF.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I think Sci-Fi's problem is actually pretty much the opposite of 'shared past, variable future'. As some have stated, I think that explains nothing.

The real problem with Sci-Fi is complexity. Regressing into the past allows us to strip off various modern conventions to produce a quite simple world which is nonetheless believable. It doesn't matter if the real world was never as simple as our game world, or if it is missing some feature that the past di have because most of us aren't familiar enough with the past to notice (or if noticing care).

However, we do know the present. And unless we go post-apocalyptic, then we expect the future to have at least all the attributes of the present plus whatever additional features we wish to add to the setting. The further into the future we go, the more layers we add to the onion as one tech level is made to sit on top of another.

This presents a hideous problem to anyone wanting to create a believable sci-fi world. It's just simply too huge and sprawling to document. In a fantasy game world, the 'local neighbor' can amount to a few hundred square miles. In a sci-fi game world, we should count ourselves fortunate if the 'local neighborhood' amounts only to an entire solar system. Every 'local neighbor' of a sci-fi universe is potentially as complex and as varied as an entire fantasy multiverse. You just can't sandbox in that sort of situation very easily, and yet at the same time, once they have a spaceship the players have much more freedom to sandbox if they want to.

Space is just incredibly vast, and a space faring civilization is just mindbogglingly complex. No sci-fi novel even begins to try to cope with the vast number of potentially complex factors that could interplay together. Usually, a sci-fi novel introduces just one theme - biological engineering, cybernetics, AI, nanotechnology, cloning, VR, aliens or whatever - and explores just that one thing as its major theme.

My experience with sci-fi games (well, just Star Wars) is that they tend to use the trope of representing the entire planet with a single tiny location, and entire races with a single individual.

The scope is just too big. The culture is just too complex. Sci-fi games die because they are overwhelming. We expect to much of them and when we get it, we don't know what to do with it.
 

Votan

Explorer
I think Sci-Fi's problem is actually pretty much the opposite of 'shared past, variable future'. As some have stated, I think that explains nothing.

The real problem with Sci-Fi is complexity. Regressing into the past allows us to strip off various modern conventions to produce a quite simple world which is nonetheless believable. It doesn't matter if the real world was never as simple as our game world, or if it is missing some feature that the past di have because most of us aren't familiar enough with the past to notice (or if noticing care).

However, we do know the present. And unless we go post-apocalyptic, then we expect the future to have at least all the attributes of the present plus whatever additional features we wish to add to the setting. The further into the future we go, the more layers we add to the onion as one tech level is made to sit on top of another.

This presents a hideous problem to anyone wanting to create a believable sci-fi world. It's just simply too huge and sprawling to document. In a fantasy game world, the 'local neighbor' can amount to a few hundred square miles. In a sci-fi game world, we should count ourselves fortunate if the 'local neighborhood' amounts only to an entire solar system. Every 'local neighbor' of a sci-fi universe is potentially as complex and as varied as an entire fantasy multiverse. You just can't sandbox in that sort of situation very easily, and yet at the same time, once they have a spaceship the players have much more freedom to sandbox if they want to.

Space is just incredibly vast, and a space faring civilization is just mindbogglingly complex. No sci-fi novel even begins to try to cope with the vast number of potentially complex factors that could interplay together. Usually, a sci-fi novel introduces just one theme - biological engineering, cybernetics, AI, nanotechnology, cloning, VR, aliens or whatever - and explores just that one thing as its major theme.

My experience with sci-fi games (well, just Star Wars) is that they tend to use the trope of representing the entire planet with a single tiny location, and entire races with a single individual.

The scope is just too big. The culture is just too complex. Sci-fi games die because they are overwhelming. We expect to much of them and when we get it, we don't know what to do with it.

I wonder how much of this can be covered by focusing on plot or story? In a real sense, you aren't going to see entire worlds so it makes sense to look at small parts of them that the players are going to see.

Sure, high technology is a complicating factor but so would magic be. In that sense you can keep open the sense of wonder and possibility that is the hallmark of the best fiction. There is always a fringe out there somewhere and the universe has many secrets.

I liked the Traveller universe, 15 years ago, for having this feel. These days I would suspect that Serenity/Firefly has replaced that older example but with the same basic feel.
 


The Green Adam

First Post
Depends on your take...

I think Sci-Fi's problem is actually pretty much the opposite of 'shared past, variable future'. As some have stated, I think that explains nothing.

However, we do know the present.

We also know the past. The concept of 'shared past, variable future' is not only a valid perspective and one noted by fans and game designers for years and years but it also relates directly to what you're saying. So yes, it does explain something.

If you are correct in the statement that...

Usually, a sci-fi novel introduces just one theme - biological engineering, cybernetics, AI, nanotechnology, cloning, VR, aliens or whatever - and explores just that one thing as its major theme.

...and I agree that you are, isn't this because each author is showing us their individual interpretation of one possible future? Another author may agree or may say, "Never mind the changes in humanity in a future with bio-engineering nanites. None of that will matter once the technologically superior aliens arrive."

The real problem with Sci-Fi is complexity.

Agreed! However, one person's complexity is another person's variety and options. I've certainly run my share of Sci-Fi RPGs where some elements were more prominent then others but all the various elements of a space faring future are up for grabs plot wise.

Star Wars deals with cloning but rarely bio-engineering. Star Trek has Data but how come there are so few other less advanced robots (like simple droids)?* In Firefly we can travel to other star systems and have grav-lift vehicles but guns use bullets and there isn't an alien to be found.

Give me the stuff and the option to use it or not but don't produce a genric Sci-Fi/Space Adventure RPG in this day and age that doesn't at least touch on some aspect of the more common SF concepts.

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Barking Alien

*Side Rant: This in particular bugs me as a Star Trek fan who is also interested in robots. Its sort of like after years with no automotive carriage to speak of, Ford invented a car that traveled 150 mph and got amazing gas mileage. He didn't. So how come we have no robots of any kind in the UFP in the old show, no robots in the movies and then 'poof' Data? Where are the mass produced lesser models? You can't tell me Scotty couldn't have used an Astromech once in a while.:D
 

Celebrim

Legend
We also know the past.

No, we don't. We know something about the past, but its pretty easy to recognize that we have no shared conception of the past just by reading several different historians takes on periods of history. We don't even know say 'The Great Depression' which is a very recent event, much less know 11th century France. The average geeks ability to imagine say the interior of a 17th century proto-ship of the line is no better than their ability to imagine a cyborg. We have a fuzzy conception of tropes about the past and tropes about the future. But we have nothing like a clear shared past.

The concept of 'shared past, variable future' is not only a valid perspective and one noted by fans and game designers for years and years but it also relates directly to what you're saying.

Wow, two logical fallacies in the same sentence.

If you are correct in the statement that...

...and I agree that you are, isn't this because each author is showing us their individual interpretation of one possible future?

No. Often the author doesn't believe that this is a possible future at all. The reason you don't load dozens of different ideas into the same story is that you'd either spend the whole novel in exposition or else leave the reader utterly lost and confused.

Another author may agree or may say, "Never mind the changes in humanity in a future with bio-engineering nanites. None of that will matter once the technologically superior aliens arrive."

That's nuts. No one actually says that. It's not even logical. It would be like saying, "Never mind nuclear weapons, that doesn't matter because of the computing revolution." or some other nonsense. What someone might say is, "Between nano-technology, AI, cybernetics, bioengineering, machine-mind interfaces, cloning, and space travel, I can't begin to imagine what society would be like, and even if I could, I couldn't communicate it, so instead I'm going to imagine as civilization that is otherwise mostly like our present world, except I'm going to imagine one big change and then think about the implications of that."
 

Rhun

First Post
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.

I agree with Ahnehnois on this. I've been able to make d20 Modern/Future work extremely well for most types of sci-fi games I've run. I've had to tweak a few things, but I end up doing that in every single game I play anyway.
 

pawsplay

Banned
Banned
If you like d20-based game, I'll go ahead and pitch Dawning Star for d20 Future. Disclosure: I consulted on it. But it's a fun, adventure-heavy setting with some space operatic elements, but most of the places where there's science, we tried to make it good science.

Apart from that... the big problem with writing, publishing, and selling a sci-fi game is that GURPS is already a nearly ideal game for so many premises and is better supported, across the SF branch of the line, than many dedicated SF games. Until the most recent version of Star Hero, there wasn't even a comparable product out there for generic science-fiction. Transhuman Space (just one GURPS setting) is a surging fountain of SF awesomeness, while Ultra-Tech and Bio-Tech have enough goodies to power an entire Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri game (but of course... that's a published GURPS setting, too).

So basically, if you like SF and you like gaming, buy GURPS 4e and the high-tech sourcebooks. If it turns out you don't like GURPS, you still own a great library of useful resources.

In terms of what else is out there and viable... D6 Space is nice, but has little in the way of published settings. A gear-heavy PL8 Mutants & Masterminds game is plausible. Hero System is of course quite good for either space opera or a skill-based game (a little clunky for more technology-heavy games). Star Wars Saga is obviously still being played by someone, although I personally abandoned it and I've seen a nice little stack of sourcebooks piling up at at the used book store.
 

Aryoche

Explorer
Since the topic is on Sci-fi type games, does anyone have any info on Alpha Omega by Mindstorm ? (who happen to be a sponsor here). Somehow this slipped off my radar, and sounds interesting, but as always, I'd curious if anyone has first hand experience.
 

jdrakeh

Hero
Since the topic is on Sci-fi type games, does anyone have any info on Alpha Omega by Mindstorm ? (who happen to be a sponsor here). Somehow this slipped off my radar, and sounds interesting, but as always, I'd curious if anyone has first hand experience.

I bought the entire line at RPGNow, but had completely forgotten about it until I read your post. :blush:
 

Aryoche

Explorer
Forgotten as it didn't leave an impression, or forgotten you hadn't had a chance to read through 400+ pages? ;)

I've tried tracking down reviews, and read the "quick start", which puts me in mind of a cross between Shadowrun, and Obsidian, but since I haven't tracked down locally anywhere I can thumb through it, I thought I'd take a shot and get opinions here. I may just bite the bullet and order the set.

I bought the entire line at RPGNow, but had completely forgotten about it until I read your post. :blush:
 

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