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View Full Version : What about a new sci-fi setting?



trechriron
09-30-2009, 05:17 PM
Adding a poll for some broader opinions. (just like the Fantasy thread)

What sci-fi tropes are you tired of seeing in sci-fi settings?

What things would you LIKE to see in a new sci-fi setting?

I appreciate your opinions!

RULES: Please don't suggest another system or setting that fits any of the wants here. I really want to see what people here WANT as I am doing research for my own possible work.

Thanks!

cliff
09-30-2009, 05:26 PM
I love grit in my sci-fi. The harder the sci-fi, the happier I am.

Something that would be quite different would be to not take the usual FTL shortcuts and instead take a lot of inspiration from Vernor Vinge's books... time dilation allows the characters to survive and the effects of near-light-speed travel gives the GM a lot of room to control the situation without his players feeling railroaded.

I'm generally into crunchy bits, but I must acknowledge that GOOD sci-fi stories are about human interaction and story, and not the technology. It might be interesting to see a good narrative ruleset that focuses on the needs of sci-fi storytelling. I am not qualified to even suggest how to do such a thing, but some of the narrative rulesets I've seen have certainly been very interesting. I think the right group could do very well with the collaborative fiction nature of it.

I could come up with more ideas given time to think, but I'm supposed to be working right now so I'm going to let it go at this for the moment being.

Slipstream
09-30-2009, 08:17 PM
I'm there with cliff on all he said.

I myself am working on a project that I believe will be original... to a point. But indeed I am influenced, and in whatever form I end up publishing this (independently for sure)... the influence will not be shy. I believe its okay to borrow as long as it isn't blatant. Storytelling is about the people, the characters. The surrounding elements add to the richness. There are elements of Star Wars, Firefly, and Battlestar that I detest... but the stuff I love? I may mesh and create something all my own. Good thread.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
09-30-2009, 09:44 PM
I voted #1, but would have voted for #2 as well if given the choice.

I'm going to ponder your questions and get back to you with some answers. Thought provoking stuff.

Here's a great science fiction pic to help get the creative juices flowing.

http://alxa.ru/file/wallpaper/the_rise_of_a_planet.jpg

Slipstream
10-01-2009, 11:01 AM
http://alxa.ru/file/wallpaper/the_rise_of_a_planet.jpg
I can't imagine what kind of climatic effects having two planets so close to each other like that would be. Insane to be able to watch a hurricane on one planet from another... or a nuclear... okay I'm shutting up because I'm giving you guys my ideas :P

fmitchell
10-01-2009, 12:12 PM
I've also thought of how to make a SF game work without FTL. I've concluded that campaigns would a) limit themselves to one star system, or b) make interstellar travel a one-way trip (barring scenarios like Halderman's Forever War).

The species that travel from star to star would almost have to live in a post-scarcity economy, given the huge expense of star travel vs. manufacturing locally ... but post-scarcity economies don't lend themselves to adventure. One solution I've adopted is that humanity hitches rides with aliens who travel from star to star, but Iain Banks's Culture novels present another possibility: citizens of an idyllic post-scarcity economy roughing it on less advanced worlds, or the denizens of those worlds being played by an insanely advanced culture.

In general, I'm all for escaping the standard starships & aliens universe. For example, genres like retro-futures (e.g. Space 1889) and planetary adventure (e.g. Barsoom) tend to be under-represented. Cyberpunk is passe, but a near-future extrapolation of modern times might catch on. I'd also like to see a semi-plausible post-apocalyptic setting (not Gamma World).

cliff
10-01-2009, 01:54 PM
I've also thought of how to make a SF game work without FTL. I've concluded that campaigns would a) limit themselves to one star system, or b) make interstellar travel a one-way trip (barring scenarios like Halderman's Forever War).


The way Vinge handles it in some of his books is pretty interesting. "A Deepness in the Sky" has a lot of it about space traders without FTL, I highly recommend giving it a read if you haven't already. It is a pretty unique treatment of the idea.


I'd also like to see a semi-plausible post-apocalyptic setting (not Gamma World).

I always do love me some post-apocalypse.

tesral
10-02-2009, 07:15 AM
Asimov's Foundation books. An entirely human Galaxy.

Buck Godot (http://www.airshipentertainment.com/buckcomic.php?date=20070111): A just plain cute comic by Phil Foglio. His concept of The Law is interesting.

Dragonriders of Pern has not been done as a RPG. There are possibilities there. Yes, it is SF not Fantasy. Anne Mccaffery's whole universe is under explored from an RPG perspective. The Brain ships, Crystalsinger Federated Telepath and Teleport, it's all the same setting.

cliff
10-02-2009, 02:46 PM
Dragonriders of Pern has not been done as a RPG. There are possibilities there. Yes, it is SF not Fantasy.


This is true to a limited sense, but not in the shape of the stories themselves. Fantasy and Science Fiction tend to explore different ideas, and I personally always found DRoP to be Fantasy wearing a Science Fiction overcoat.

Of course, that's just my opinion - I could be wrong. ;-)

I would like to add that I do not mean for this to suggest that I disagree with making an ass-kicking DRoP RPG, just the genre of it. In this PARTICULAR case, I will disagree with this not because of setting or genre, but rather licensing. Indie game developers take too much risk licensing existing IP.

Hoitash
10-02-2009, 10:01 PM
I think an RPG based on Resistance: Fall of Man would be cool.

It depends on how you difen sci-fi also, I think. Dungeons in Dragons in space? Wait, that sounds cool, too. I better write that down...

tesral
10-02-2009, 10:28 PM
This is true to a limited sense, but not in the shape of the stories themselves. Fantasy and Science Fiction tend to explore different ideas, and I personally always found DRoP to be Fantasy wearing a Science Fiction overcoat.
Of course, that's just my opinion - I could be wrong. ;-)


Well dragons are generic alterations of the fire lizards. The Humans got there by spacecraft and every indication exists that it's the same universe as her Crystalsinger and Brain ship novels.

There is always the old body new clothes approach. Dragonriders wouldn't take too well to that, it's pretty much what it is, but something like the Foundation books could be genericized.

kkriegg
10-03-2009, 12:43 PM
I can't imagine what kind of climatic effects having two planets so close to each other like that would be. Insane to be able to watch a hurricane on one planet from another... or a nuclear... okay I'm shutting up because I'm giving you guys my ideas :P

It could just be a fairly far away gas giant being viewed from a life supporting Earth-sized moon. Doesn't really look that way in the picture, but I always thought a setting like that would be cool.

trechriron
10-03-2009, 01:03 PM
Serenity/Fire Fly universe is a huge solar system with piles of terraformed planets and moons.

I guess my inquiry was more in the -

What would you like to see in a setting?

AND What are you tired of seeing in sci-fi settings?

NathanLuna
10-07-2009, 11:23 AM
FTL drives like StarTreks warp, and Star Wars hyperdrive i dislike.
Jump gate/jump drives are more fun. the Babylon 5 method looks good to me jump gates/drives let you in to hyperspace but its tricky, you can get lost, you can't have a fire fight there, and it means smaller ships need to use gates making it easyer for the GM to control without rail roading. it also avoids crap like time dilation and relativity (spelling?).

Hoitash
10-07-2009, 12:22 PM
I use wormholes in my writing.

Artificial ones, like Stargate. Think of it as like a magnetic train, with the wormhole as the rail. It's also one of the most plausible forms of FTL, although I'm also fond of the Battlestar Galactica method of beinding space/time (I think Wing Commander used that, too.)

Jump Gates do have their appeal, though.

NathanLuna
10-07-2009, 03:23 PM
stations next to jump gates make for good adventure hubs

Dytrrnikl
10-08-2009, 02:46 PM
What sci-fi tropes are you tired of seeing in sci-fi settings?
Humans being the dominant race in the galaxy or the ones that make things happen. Stop with the enlightened society. Look at the way things are going right now, call me cynic, but enlightenment is the last things that is going to happen and probably not until it's too late, if it isn't already.


What things would you LIKE to see in a new sci-fi setting?
Non-Humanocentric setting where humans are the invaders or completely wiped out and the other aliens in the universe are trying to find out why.

Arkhemedes
10-08-2009, 10:20 PM
How about an rpg based on the Dune setting? I've considered doing that myself. But I'm not sure if there is enough playability on a world where there is little more than sand and giant earthworms. I suppose it would depend on the style of campaign you went with though, as there are political struggles aplenty and with enough thought and imagination, a good GM (and fan of the Dune series) could make something out of it.

Hoitash
10-08-2009, 10:23 PM
At least the Monster Manual would be short.

Firefly rpg does indeed sound awesome. So many ideas, so little time. No frakkin' gamers on campus I can find...

tesral
10-09-2009, 01:28 AM
There was a Lensman game done, it sucked. A better Lensman game would be cool.

michael
10-12-2009, 08:04 AM
I want more space pirates. Interstellar cosa nostra! Galaxy-spanning religions! Unjust authorities opressing "lower" cultures. Massive battles employing exotic tech. World-smashing tech! Star-smashing tech (Cthulu!) Dopplegangers from Mars! Slave traders from Mars! Riddick! Smugglers! The Borg! a smellascope!

ARRRGG There's never enough!

:mad:

Hoitash
10-12-2009, 08:09 AM
You forgot the space dreadnaughts bristling with atomic weaponry.

Inquisitor Tremayne
10-16-2009, 10:00 PM
I want more space pirates. Interstellar cosa nostra! Galaxy-spanning religions! Unjust authorities opressing "lower" cultures. Massive battles employing exotic tech. World-smashing tech! Star-smashing tech (Cthulu!) Dopplegangers from Mars! Slave traders from Mars! Riddick! Smugglers! The Borg! a smellascope!

ARRRGG There's never enough!

:mad:
You looking for something like this!:

http://www.zml.com/content/covers/187476_3.jpg

trechriron
10-17-2009, 05:10 PM
You looking for something like this! ...


Awesome. Yes. An Ice Pirates game (or something along that vein) could be hilarious fun!

Hoitash
10-17-2009, 10:58 PM
There is another option, though it would be hard and time consuming.

Make your own setting.

Being a sci-fi writer I tend to do this myself naturally, but sci-fi can be hard to come up wth new stuff because it gets recycled alot (stupid alien lizards conquering Charon...) You know it's late when I argue with myself while posting.

LordChicken
10-17-2009, 11:40 PM
I like a setting that has some meat on its bones,

I mean when your playing in a Si Fi world millions or more years in the future, you need some history! i mean why are there more humans then other races? was there a war? who won? HOW? and how did it change the worlds?

Speaking of wars with worlds, how come its always side 1(good guys) VS side 2(bad guys) were the war gos on between these 2 worlds for 100 to 1000 years... I mean how dos that happen? with star crushing death rays how come 2 nabors fightning has lasted so long? is there like 80 years of traval time between battles? Its understandable when its 20 worlds on 20 worlds, but a 1v1? =.=

Well sorry for complaining, when you make a history thats war filled, but give a good reason why they have been at war for 2,350 years!

CarlZog
10-18-2009, 03:57 PM
I like a setting that has some meat on its bones,

I mean when your playing in a Si Fi world millions or more years in the future, you need some history! i mean why are there more humans then other races? was there a war? who won? HOW? and how did it change the worlds?

Speaking of wars with worlds, how come its always side 1(good guys) VS side 2(bad guys) were the war gos on between these 2 worlds for 100 to 1000 years...


I like Alternity's Star Drive for this purpose. There were wars, but they were messy, multi-party affairs started for complex reasons, not lasting long but dramatically shaping the landscape of the setting. (I was just singing the praises of this setting in another thread...)

Star Drive had a LOT of what I love in space opera, and I'd love to see it revisited.

michael
10-26-2009, 11:26 AM
You looking for something like this!:

http://www.zml.com/content/covers/187476_3.jpg

I loooove Ice Pirates. I make my wife sit through that movie with me once a year. That would be an amazing game setting.




I like Alternity's Star Drive for this purpose. There were wars, but they were messy, multi-party affairs started for complex reasons, not lasting long but dramatically shaping the landscape of the setting. (I was just singing the praises of this setting in another thread...)

Star Drive had a LOT of what I love in space opera, and I'd love to see it revisited.

I loooove Alternity. The Mechalus is my favorite race of all time.

WhiskeyFur
10-26-2009, 11:38 PM
Think something I don't see too many of are sundivers. The kind of ships that arn't just proof against damage from flying near a sun, but are designed to fly INTO them for various reasons, from refueling to just hiding.

Can you imagine the amount of power you can store up if you could tap into the power of a star directly? Even one of those ships flying around would be the same category as the flying dutchman. Powerful, bloody rare, and something folks would be willing to go to war for at just the rumors of.

Things I don't like to see in a sci-fi setting? Heavy soap operas/dramas don't entice me too much. Part of the fun with sci-fi is to explore technology that we could only wish for now. Stuff like BSG, pure utter drivel. Yuck.

iceage
10-29-2009, 09:26 PM
I must agree the Alternity setting was a pretty fun universe. There was plenty to do there.

One of my gripes with Sci-fi setting is the humanoid alien syndrome. Star Trek and Star Wars are both fairly guilty of this.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
10-29-2009, 09:35 PM
Thoth...must...check...out...Alternity!

tesral
10-30-2009, 01:41 AM
I must agree the Alternity setting was a pretty fun universe. There was plenty to do there.

One of my gripes with Sci-fi setting is the humanoid alien syndrome. Star Trek and Star Wars are both fairly guilty of this.

The reason is simple. When Gene Roddenberry sent to Central Casting for non Human actors, he got Lassie, Mr. Ed, and Flipper. TV technology was not up to the level of today. CGI wasn't even a term, never mind a technology. So, if you are going to have aliens you have to work with the materials you can get. Ten years later Star Wars didn't have it a whole lot better. Let's cut them a bit of slack.



Thoth...must...check...out...Alternity!

It's a fairly striaght up Space Opera setting. It has it's own twists.

fmitchell
05-18-2010, 12:25 PM
The reason is simple. When Gene Roddenberry sent to Central Casting for non Human actors, he got Lassie, Mr. Ed, and Flipper. TV technology was not up to the level of today. CGI wasn't even a term, never mind a technology. So, if you are going to have aliens you have to work with the materials you can get. Ten years later Star Wars didn't have it a whole lot better. Let's cut them a bit of slack.

Oh, come now. Doctor Who managed a few non-humanoids using hand-puppets and swirly video effects. And who can forget the Zanti from Outer Limits?

EDIT: HOW COULD I FOR-GET THE DA-LEKS? THOSE WHO FOR-GET THE DA-LEKS WILL BE EX-TER-MI-NA-TED!

WCRPG Butcher
05-21-2010, 10:13 AM
I think the sci-fi trope that bothers me the most is that typically humans are sub-par when compared to the other life forms in the set universe, their only redeeming feature being their ability to adapt and overcome much like sewer rats. In this case, it's either usually looked upon in a tolerant manner by the galactic community (or hated by what usually the bad-guy species), or it's lauded as the one thing everyone else lacks and can SAVE THE UNIVERSE FROM DESTRUCTION.

Personally, I'd like to see a sci-fi setting where either humanity is treated like backwater trash by the universe, or humanity turns out to be the most advanced species in the universe and has to deal with a "we're not alone, but we're alone at the top" situation.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
05-21-2010, 12:40 PM
If you swap out the word "advanced" and replace it with "prevelent," then you just described many of my science fiction stories. In my stories, mankind needs a common foe or enemy, otherwise, mankind will self destruct with corruption. It's in his nature.

Interesting that Wing Commander had an rpg. I didn't know. I've used elements of the movie for years in my Traveller games. If it wasn't D20, I'd be all over the system. As it is, i can only tolerate D20 with dnd, but just barely. I, for one, would love to see a big write-up in said game on its own thread, WCRPG Butcher - hint-hint.

Hoitash
05-21-2010, 12:43 PM
So you want Earth to be the United States of space?

Eh, why not.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
05-21-2010, 12:49 PM
No United States, no states, no countries, just a one-world government and about 400 years into the future...depending.

Hoitash
05-21-2010, 01:37 PM
I alwas have problems with those stories because humans are just too culturally diverse, stupid, and anti-each other to go for that. If the earth ever unified it would be like B5 or Wing Commander, with a loose Confederation or Alliance.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
05-21-2010, 01:40 PM
It will work as it did for Rome....for a time. Again, remember, i said the planet had a common foe. We are like tribes, only coming together to fight against a common enemy, otherwise, we fight with each other. The common foe is the key that allows for my particular future to even happen.

kkriegg
05-21-2010, 03:15 PM
I think the sci-fi trope that bothers me the most is that typically humans are sub-par when compared to the other life forms in the set universe, their only redeeming feature being their ability to adapt and overcome much like sewer rats. In this case, it's either usually looked upon in a tolerant manner by the galactic community (or hated by what usually the bad-guy species), or it's lauded as the one thing everyone else lacks and can SAVE THE UNIVERSE FROM DESTRUCTION.

I totally agree.


Personally, I'd like to see a sci-fi setting where either humanity is treated like backwater trash by the universe, or humanity turns out to be the most advanced species in the universe and has to deal with a "we're not alone, but we're alone at the top" situation.

In Star Wars, humans are the unofficial rulers of the galaxy.

There was also a book I read when I was younger, which I forgot the name of. Humans were surpassed in technology by the other aliens, but were regarded as the most physically impressive in the galaxy.

fmitchell
05-21-2010, 04:54 PM
Personally, I'd like to see a sci-fi setting where either humanity is treated like backwater trash by the universe, or humanity turns out to be the most advanced species in the universe and has to deal with a "we're not alone, but we're alone at the top" situation.

Some novels and series, notably the Foundation trilogy and most of the sword-and-planet genre, assume humans are the only intelligent, or at least interstellar, species in the universe. Sword-and-planet often has an unpleasant "white man's burden" vibe, but I can imagine a smarter version that justifies why alien intelligences might limit themselves to one world.

The "humans are the dummies of the universe" assumption, on the other hand, gets really old really fast: Space 1999, Close Encounters, Contact, etc.

One game universe I'm still working on has only three interstellar civilizations: the Elders, the Machines, and humanity. Because FTL was unknown until recently, humans are by far the least stable of the three civilizations, due to their short lifespans (relative to interstellar distances): at one point in history, all humans were clients of the Elders. On the other hand, the Elders are ill-suited to planetary surfaces (or indeed any environment but their gigantic ships), so it was a fruitful symbiosis. With the coming of FTL, developed in part by all three species, the Elders are fading away. (The Machines, of course, adapt themselves to every environment, but care more about airless high-metal rocks than squishy biomes.)

tesral
05-21-2010, 11:00 PM
One thing to remember. SF regardless of the genre is more about the people that are writing it than it is about any future it supposedly represents. The bowl cannot contain the bowl.

WCRPG Butcher
05-22-2010, 05:55 AM
Interesting that Wing Commander had an rpg. I didn't know. I've used elements of the movie for years in my Traveller games. If it wasn't D20, I'd be all over the system. As it is, i can only tolerate D20 with dnd, but just barely. I, for one, would love to see a big write-up in said game on its own thread, WCRPG Butcher - hint-hint.

Well, I wouldn't say it's strictly a d20 system, we just use some d20 mechanics cobbled together with a few other custom mechanics that work with ours, so saying it's "d20" means it's the closest thing that PnP RPG players can grasp. I would certainly say our flight combat, the traditional cornerstone of the Wing Commander universe, is most decidedly it's own system.

And I do have a campaign invitation thread, as I figured that posting what would be a similar thread in a different section (like the sci-fi section) would be frowned upon. I'll see if I can come up with a subject thread that can allow me to further explain the WCRPG in an appropriate section, but not be hinged on self promotion.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, I'll admit to liking Star Wars' take on the role of humans. The Empire being the Humans-Only Club and the Rebels being the ragtag assortment of everyone and everything.

Another Sci-Fi trope I suppose I don't like is that military technology gets so advanced that it resembles Apple products, in the sense that everything is sleek and aesthetically pleasing, and function at near infallible rate despite the dizzying complexity of the devices. Private industry devices such as these are fine, it comes with the market, they're supposed to be the sexy-sleek no-expense-spared brands of the universe. However, military equipment (aside from redundant last-generation ceremonial equipment) almost always tend to be mass-produced lowest-bidder units intended to be brutally effective and deploy-able by idiots. It's why claymore mines used today have etched into its face "FRONT TOWARDS ENEMY". As former military myself, I don't think of military equipment as super-expensive high-technology lovingly made by craftsmen and artisans, it's more like very spartan cheap surplus units made on a factory conveyor. The only time the price jumps to private industry levels is when you get to things that aren't supposed to be on an open market, like tanks and space fighters.

trechriron
05-24-2010, 04:57 PM
I am really appreciative of the recent responses. This stuff is very helpful! :-D More! More! More!! :-D

Slipstream
05-25-2010, 08:24 PM
Anti-gravity systems, allowing people to walk on board vessels without floating around without good explanation, gets on my nerves. I want to address this in a story sometime. Maybe work it into a minor, but important plot point.

templeorder
05-26-2010, 12:22 AM
I LOVE running sci-fi. Sadly my players like fantasy mostly - which i would rather play in. We have a on-hold Star Frontiers setting based game thats been running for decades. Its hard to get the players involved schedules to mesh... once a year at most... and last year nothing. I love gritty sci-fi - technology, different ethics, alien cultures, space flight, exploration... corporatism... i love it all. I'm really at home because it serves well for really complex, involved plots with lots of intrigue and mystery. The flavor just appeals to me as a GM more than anything else.

fmitchell
05-26-2010, 01:44 PM
Anti-gravity systems, allowing people to walk on board vessels without floating around without good explanation, gets on my nerves.

I started a whole thread related to that whole point. ("Fore-and-aft spaceship design considered silly")

Continuous acceleration would provide artificial gravity, but ships would be built like silos, not boats.
A rotating section is the most feasible explanation for pseudo-gravity, but I've found only a couple of commercially available ship maps that actually have rotating rings.
A small black hole providing energy at the core of a ship would lead naturally to concentric rings or spheres, with feet pointing toward the center (assuming tidal forces wouldn't rip the crew apart).
A moon-sized ship would have spherical decks, albeit with a huge area.

Yet all spaceship deck plans I've seen assume the crew stands perpendicular to the direction of motion, on the same plane ... as if the ship were a set built on a studio backlot.

tesral
05-26-2010, 02:52 PM
Would it mean something to point out that the shuttle had decks laid out like an airplane?

fmitchell
05-26-2010, 08:15 PM
Would it mean something to point out that the shuttle had decks laid out like an airplane?

The shuttle was designed to move between Earth's surface and orbit. (And it's tiny.) A ship meant to hit atmo would logically have a fore-and-aft design, no matter how inconvenient the layout in zero-g. A better design would orient space engines under the ship when it lands, with separate atmospheric engines; it not only accommodates real gravity, it makes use of forward thrust as pseudo-gravity.

A ship meant only for deep space and high orbit, like the U. S. S. Enterprise or an Imperial Star Destroyer, might have a spherical, cylindrical, or vertical layout to maximize space or minimize distances between stations. If there were no magic artificial gravity, they would need it. (Engines in line with the center of mass would also be nice.)

Hoitash
05-26-2010, 08:27 PM
Star Destroyer's have that wedge shape to maximize multiple weapon targeting.

Just my two cents.

tesral
05-26-2010, 09:58 PM
And assuming that artificial gravity is "magical".

I consider it a non-issue. My Science Fiction has artificial gravity.

trechriron
05-27-2010, 06:13 PM
I personally like tweaking technology with magic so I don't have to field protests from physicists. For me it's about the story, not the science. :-D

Hoitash
05-27-2010, 07:47 PM
Asimov-did I spell that right?- and some other well known sci-fi writers wrote a book about writing science fiction and fantasy, of which I own a copy. Within that book they expressed the following idea:

After about 50 years into the future of the real world present, you can write about the future with pretty much any technology you want without any explanation, simpy because our rate of tech advancement is now so fast that suspension of disbeleif is not nessessary. Two hundred years ago ships were made of wood, rope, and cloth. One hundred years ago rifles were single fire breach loaders (for the msot part). Fifty years ago nukes were plutonium bombs. Ten years ago my Dad still used the Windows 3.11 based computer. So to assume some highly advanced future tech just exists is not too far fetched.

I do not subscribe to this theory myself, having watched too much Battlestar Galactica (the re-imagined series.) But its an option.

Slipstream
05-28-2010, 11:07 AM
For me it's about the story, not the science. :-D
I agree. Still, many like to play with the balance between the two. Give just enough science to let the reader/player consciously go "uh huh, yup, on board with that" but allow some play with the story that excites and surprises them.

fmitchell
05-31-2010, 09:10 PM
And assuming that artificial gravity is "magical".

Honestly I'm bored with the Standard Science Fiction Setting (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StandardSciFiSetting). It's a product of live-action budget constraints and lazy writing. By going back to "hard science fiction", I'm trying to make a science fiction interesting, and find different freedoms within different constraints. Besides, fighting in micro-g would be cool.

But, getting back to the topic, I'd love to see a setting based on Big Ideas that SF thrives on. An indie game, Shock: Social Science Fiction, took a stab at it, but it's really only good for one-shots and improv gaming. Even some of the past Big Ideas are getting a little overused. Blurring lines between man and machine? Transhuman Space, Eclipse Phase, every cyberpunk game of the 1990s. Genetic manipulation? Transhuman Space again. Shiny dystopias? Paranoia, Ex Machina. Retro-futures? Space 1889, Forgotten Futures.

Show me something new, at least in RPGs. (But feel free to raid any books or graphic novels you like.)

tesral
06-01-2010, 12:16 AM
"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless. What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. -- Ecclesiastes 1, 2-9

I don't know what to tell you. You find one and then we will both have a new one.

trechriron
06-14-2010, 03:00 AM
Eclipse Phase is tickling my sci-fi yearnings. It is mostly hard science. :-D

I am learning to enjoy harder sci-fi and get past my aversion to zero-g, micro-gravity stuff.

Lord Captain Tobacco
06-17-2010, 05:51 PM
Serenity/Fire Fly universe is a huge solar system with piles of terraformed planets and moons.

I guess my inquiry was more in the -

What would you like to see in a setting?

AND What are you tired of seeing in sci-fi settings?


Can we get away from 2-D maps with easily defined borders?

Not that colorful maps aren't needed, but an inclusion of the Z-axis would be really helpful for determining the actual distance between stars. This is assuming that gates and wormholes are not in use.
In a true (3D) representation, two systems may be visibly neighbors but in actuality may be separated by a distance greater than the length of the map. For those of us who muck about in hyper, jump, and the algorithms of AU distances, this is the most maddening part of most SF games.

For those interested Traveler 2300 had a decent star map and included both the XYZ co-ordinates AND the math formula for determining the true distance.

tesral
06-18-2010, 01:06 AM
3D maps area great idea. Harder in execution. 2D paper doesn't display them well. Computers are great for that aspect. I don't really blame older games for the shortcomings of the media they had to use.

Curufea
09-28-2010, 12:27 AM
Selfish of me to suggest, but it is completely different to what has so far been mentioned-

Faction Paradox.

Time paradoxes as a regular game mechanic - the web of time/time vortex as a sentient loa, the travelling in time and space as ritual, sentient life having destiny/fate DNA called biodata (ie an inherent connection to the web of time)

It's borderline fantasy - but then it is a variation of Doctor Who :)

PCs would be Faction members - a bunch of anarchic rebels who occasionally vandalise linear time just to annoy the Time Lords, viewed as a fascist dictatorship of order-fanatics. Suppliers of weapons to The Enemy - an unknown force that is currently winning in the war against the Time Lords.

Various "War time powers" who choose either Time Lord or Enemy sides, or the middle ground of the Faction - including Post Humanity, the Celestis (conceptual entities similar to the Celestial Toymaker), the Osiran Court, etc...

Now DWAITAS (Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space) is kinda capable of this - but in an opposite way. It is pro-order and pro-linear time. I'd like to see an inspired approach to handling the rebels of time.

tesral
09-28-2010, 01:51 PM
One idea that I have had pitched at me is the infinite plane. Each world is a bowl in the plane. The world is not flat, it is concave. If you can get over the impossibility high mountains at the edge of the world you find yourself in another world. Mind you the bowls, dish is more like it, are world sized. 20,000 miles across world sized.

The physics of such a place are going to be substantially different. You don't need magic, you don't need fantasy elements. It can fall into the realm of Science Fiction. You can have as many worlds as you want. You can start the PCs without the knowledge of the other worlds. Just state the world is flat and bounded by mountains none can pass.

Getting to the other worlds should require an extrene technology. Ether ship, long dark tunnel, a month of climbing and breathing gear. Figure 10 mile high Mountains. Say 5000 miles of ridge after ridge.

trechriron
09-29-2010, 11:23 AM
That actually sounds really cool! It would need some "science-fu" technology to pull off. There is a purpose to the circular rotating constantly moving universe we find ourselves in. :-D Frankly, ESPECIALLY for roleplaying games, I don't see the need to be "scientifically accurate". Why not just make something fun to play?

yukonhorror
09-29-2010, 12:52 PM
I think a sci-fi game similar to the space age of Spore would be fun. Populate planets, evolve species into indigenous tribes, make inhabitable planets into virtual paradises, bring the word of Zod to other planets (and destroy them if they don't like the sound of it), etc...

I am not well-versed in the sci-fi genre of gaming, but I think that game is fun.

But something I always judge sci-fi stories on is their scientific accuracy. With the genre, I feel there is a bit of author's privilege to bend/tweak the laws of physics, but some things are just down right ridiculous. To me, Star Trek is good science fiction, but not Star wars. Star wars has a great story, but judged solely as a science fiction movie, it is seriously lacking. Just my opinion.

That's just me though. As long as it is well understood, it is not about the scientific accuracy/possibilities, then I am cool with that. But it bugs me when an author/movie maker/etc... TRIES to incorporate a degree of scientific accuracy and completely misinterprets the concepts. I.e. the cloning process from Brave New World is actually WAY closer to how cloning actually works than the way Jurassic Park did it.

Anyhoo, some other new things I'd like to see in a sci-fi game: maybe cross-genre (fantasy or super-heroic or espionage), non-universal access to space travel (too many planet systems with similar levels of technology).

Something that has been done, but not a lot is the source of mythology. Greek/Norse/Egyptian, etc... gods aren't gods, but aliens with serious powers. That came to our planet to help us out, and found their influence was lacking so they move onto some other stupid planet that will "bow before them".

I think there is a game that sort of does that (Scion Hero from white wolf publishing), but keeps it here on earth. But I think a war between the Norse system and the Egyptian system (or whatever) would be a fun campaign idea.

tesral
09-29-2010, 01:20 PM
But something I always judge sci-fi stories on is their scientific accuracy. With the genre, I feel there is a bit of author's privilege to bend/tweak the laws of physics, but some things are just down right ridiculous. To me, Star Trek is good science fiction, but not Star wars. Star wars has a great story, but judged solely as a science fiction movie, it is seriously lacking. Just my opinion.

Speaking as a Trekkie here: If science fiction as a class has rubber science; Star Trek "science" is soft unvulcanized rubber (Pun intended). Hideously inconsistent, prone to technology of the week, and repeated self contradiction. Love it though I do I admit the flaws, and there are flaws.

Star Wars is a typical Space Opera setting. Broad sweeps, unexplained technology; it's there, it's used, it's old, everyone gets it. One can see direct paralells with say EE Doc Smith's Lensman universe, right down to the mystic Lens/Force using technowizards, huge battles in space and so forth.

From a literary standard both are what I call Science Fantasy. A fantasy setting with the trappings of Science Fiction, I.E. spaceships, FTL drives, blasters and so on. Judging them as literature on the convention of consistency, which is the only realistic test of a fantasy, Star Wars comes out on top. Mainly becasue Lucas is an anal retentive nerd that demands total control of his baby.

fmitchell
09-29-2010, 06:54 PM
One idea that I have had pitched at me is the infinite plane. Each world is a bowl in the plane. The world is not flat, it is concave. If you can get over the impossibility high mountains at the edge of the world you find yourself in another world. Mind you the bowls, dish is more like it, are world sized. 20,000 miles across world sized.

At one point I had a similar idea, only on the inner surface of a Dyson sphere. Each bowl has breathable atmosphere and its own climate; above the bowl might be vacuum, or merely rarefied atmosphere. One or more civilizations develop steam-punk space travel, which involves leaving one bowl and rocketing (sailing?) to the next.

Because, let's face it: as far as we can tell we can't travel faster than light, the next star is decades away at any reasonably attainable velocity, and if we get there we certainly won't find green-skinned space babes. Even if a Dyson sphere requires materials far stronger than we have today, it's far more probable than warp drive or hyperspace. (Or rattling through the Time Vortex in a blue box that's far bigger on the inside, sadly.)

Soft Serve
10-12-2010, 10:36 AM
I voted #1, but would have voted for #2 as well if given the choice.

I'm going to ponder your questions and get back to you with some answers. Thought provoking stuff.

Here's a great science fiction pic to help get the creative juices flowing.

http://alxa.ru/file/wallpaper/the_rise_of_a_planet.jpg


That is the best picture of my mom you can find on the internet.




It depends on how you difen sci-fi also, I think. Dungeons in Dragons in space? Wait, that sounds cool, too. I better write that down...

Spelljammer. (http://www.spelljammer.org/sj3e/)


My most hated trope?

Universal Translators.

tesral
10-12-2010, 12:32 PM
I'm not real fond of them, but I understand why they are such a well used trope. It is rather difficult to teach the audience Inner High Thogmortian so they can understand the dialog. Worse, if you chose to use Inner High Thogmortian and put in subtitles, you have to invent it. Ergo in TV SF you have universal translators.

Books have an easier time of it. You can declare that Inner High Thogmortian is being spoken, and leave it at that. I usually set this dialog off in some manner. /Klingon./ {Vulcan} and so forth.

RPGs are another animal. You need the players to understand you.

So, while the universal translator is a problematic device, it is highly useful.

fmitchell
10-12-2010, 11:10 PM
So, while the universal translator is a problematic device, it is highly useful.

If a SF universe has only a few sapient species, a plausible future device can store all known languages, and match unfamiliar ones by applying morphological transformations. In a human-only universe, conceivably all languages descend from Earth languages, constructed languages with natural parallels, or languages from cultures settled offworld by the now-vanished Ancients.

Granted, first contact becomes far more complex, but perhaps an NPC team conducts basic linguistic and sociological analysis before the PC negotiators come in. The NPC team must first determine how an alien species communicates: ultrasonic or subsonic frequencies, infrared fluctuations, other parts of the EM spectrum, ground vibrations, telepathy if it exists, ...

Soft Serve
10-13-2010, 11:44 AM
If a SF universe has only a few sapient species, a plausible future device can store all known languages, and match unfamiliar ones by applying morphological transformations. In a human-only universe, conceivably all languages descend from Earth languages, constructed languages with natural parallels, or languages from cultures settled offworld by the now-vanished Ancients.

Granted, first contact becomes far more complex, but perhaps an NPC team conducts basic linguistic and sociological analysis before the PC negotiators come in. The NPC team must first determine how an alien species communicates: ultrasonic or subsonic frequencies, infrared fluctuations, other parts of the EM spectrum, ground vibrations, telepathy if it exists, ...

I speak english here in Indiana.
Have lived in Louisiana where they also speak English.
Yet I only understood maybe %40 of the people there %100 of the time.
Not because they can't talk, or they're using other languages.
It's local slang and accents. (See Joe Dirt.)

A translator for anything, no matter how advanced, could never be perfect thanks to slang and local accents. Hell if we unfroze a man from 250 years ago who spoke our language we wouldn't understand half the things he said thanks to the drastic culture change. America is the perfect example. We came speaking The Kings English, and now the accent is so exotic, now imagine that shift over different planets. Any universal translator would be either incomplete or utterly useless.

tesral
10-13-2010, 01:25 PM
Actually, Americans speak closer to the Kings English of 1780 than do the British. The BBS standard accent which most everyone would call "English" didn't develop until the 19 century.

However the point of idiom is taken. Going on the Star Trek explanation of the Universal translator from Metamorphosis it is a teleapthic device that gets the meaning from the sub-vocal thought level and then translates the concepts into something holder understands. In that case it would handle slang and idiom as the meaning would be made clear.

Hoitash
10-13-2010, 02:49 PM
This may be my Anthropology class talking, but a trade language between cultures might be a likely alternative to a universal translater.

Soft Serve
10-13-2010, 03:30 PM
My point as far as relation to gaming is that, difficulty with language is a real thing. See the part in Titanic when the ship is going down and the foreign couple are using a translation dictionary to find the exits. (It's like a 1.5 second clip but it stuck with me.)

If you want a realistic game, take the good and bad. No universal translator.

tesral
10-13-2010, 04:30 PM
This may be my Anthropology class talking, but a trade language between cultures might be a likely alternative to a universal translater.

Very likely. That scenario has resulted in several Earth languages.




My point as far as relation to gaming is that, difficulty with language is a real thing. See the part in Titanic when the ship is going down and the foreign couple are using a translation dictionary to find the exits. (It's like a 1.5 second clip but it stuck with me.)

If you want a realistic game, take the good and bad. No universal translator.

Five lashes with the wet noodle for misusing "realistic". Frankly I like my UT, be it magical comprehend langunage or technobabble. When it comes to an RPG some people don't want to deal the the mundane issues. I happen to agree with that. PCs do not starve to death if they don't mention eating for example or explode of backed up bowels if they fall to squat in the wood every six hours.

Besides fun can be hand with the UT itself. A friend of mine had a situation where the PC were inflicted with a faulty UT that rendered all proper nouns in one langunage only as "Brian". But didn't translate back property. So you get things like "Greetings. I am Brian, the Brian of the Brian Brian. We welcome you to Brian."

trechriron
01-07-2011, 08:07 PM
... non-universal access to space travel (too many planet systems with similar levels of technology).

Dune. :-D

tesral
01-07-2011, 10:39 PM
Star Wars for that matter.

fmitchell
01-11-2011, 08:53 AM
... non-universal access to space travel (too many planet systems with similar levels of technology).

If traveling to another star system is as easy as a ride on a jet today, or even as easy as a 17th century ship voyage, technology will transfer relatively quickly to all worlds on standard routes. (A thumb-drive, or its ultra-tech equivalent, has negligible mass.) Star Wars, for example, implied that ships regularly carried goods to Tatooine, surely a Force-forsaken hellhole if there ever was one.

However, consider all conditions where even technology transfer becomes far less likely:

Some worlds are seldom if ever visited by starships after initial settlement. Maybe initial colonization used generation ships, the mysterious Ancients seeded humans all over the galaxy, or the non-human(?) natives evolved on that planet.
Interstellar travel is perilous, expensive, time consuming, or otherwise uncommon. For example, FTL travel and communication are impossible, so that colonies 100 LY away will always remain over a century out of date.
Most planets lack the industrial base to replicate high-technology items, even if they get plans from the next passing ship or over the FTL telegraph.
FTL travel is only possible/likely between certain points in space, leaving worlds without a jump gate to fend for themselves.
FTL is a closely guarded secret, rare gift, or technology wholly under alien control. (Mi-Go brain cylinders, anybody?)

Possibly, also, some technologies progress faster in some cultures than others. Even in our planet, the Mayans invented wheels but used them only for toys because their mountainous terrain precluded smooth roads. So, for example, one planet far advanced in biotechnology invents bio-ships ahead of anyone else ... armed with missiles and rail guns, since their physicists never discovered principles required to build disruptors.

tesral
01-11-2011, 10:17 AM
All of the above. Nice summation of the usual tropes. Industrial base is my favorite. Recall that today many countries do not build their own ships or jets. The industrial base to do so isn't present in that country. And we are talking counties that are critically dependant on the technology like Micronesia.

fmitchell
01-11-2011, 10:51 AM
On the scale of a whole planet, I'd imagine the only worlds without the industrial base are isolated, low-population startup colonies or post-apocalyptic regressed civilizations.

The RPG Stars Without Number (free on RPGNow) posits a level of technology possible only with advanced psionics ... and all the psionicists died in a catastrophic galaxy-wide Scream. Artifacts produced before then are extremely valuable. While I'm not keen on the psionic angle, I like the general idea of technology nobody knows how to produce locally (anymore).

As those who have read my previous threads will remember, I'm fascinated with the idea of an interstellar civilization without FTL. You'd need some sort of pilot for the long centuries between worlds (e.g. an AI, an alien or mutant with near immortality) and a way to keep humans in stasis for that long. (Generation ships require too many resources to be common.) Restricting FTL to certain star systems, groups, or alien species is a limited version of "no FTL". So is Ursula K. LeGuin's universe in which allows FTL communication but not physical FTL travel (for living creatures, at least): technology and basic knowledge remains up to date, but inhabitants of each planet might differ wildly from human cultural and biological norms.

Now I really want to develop a universe where humans travel FTL only in Mi-Go brain cylinders ... (Or a software equivalent, a la Accelerando.)

tesral
01-11-2011, 02:15 PM
Don't forget relativity. If you had STL fast ships rather than slow ones the survival problem is eliminated. Relativity effects keep your crew young, but you still take years to get from planet to planet. Say you get to 0.5c. That would be 8 years to Alpha Centauri, doable, plus you get the anti aging of relativity. (I don't have the exact formula handy.)

It still means that your interstellar Empire is going to be small. 100 light years is still 200 years away. You can't alter that. So outside a handfull of stars a planetary government could not exert any influence. By the time the proclimations of El Generalissimo gets to the next world someone has shot him already.

Star Voyagers are going to seem near immortal. Centuries pass and they age but little. The ship would become their world. Everything they care about would have to be there. Anything left on a planet is left behind forever.

tesral
02-06-2011, 01:08 PM
Given the question further thought Larry Niven wrote several tales that involved bussard ramjets. Exactly the kind of circumstane I was discussing. Mr. Niven is among the hardest of the Hard SF writers.

ashewyntr
02-06-2011, 03:52 PM
I don't like slow-boats for exactly that reason. The starship becomes a one-way portal to each world, and is in fact their only home. There is no going back.

I like a universe with multiple political entities - a la the Honorverse - because it gives you more plot lines than "Rebels vs Government". Each polity can have different technological biases, so you can see different tech levels, etc (And a lively trade in tech transfers).

I subscribe to Clarke's "Apes or Angels" conclusion: It is extraordinarily unlikely to encounter another species in the same range of technological development - look at how much we've changed in 200 years. Even if you propose a Berzerker/Gamma Ray Burst scenario to give the region a common start, one minor theological dispute can alter your development calendar by hundreds of years.
I suppose you could propose a "Universal Tech Barrier" - the idea of a plateau in technology that allows only tweaks in our relatively complete understanding of the universe. Any significant advances would require a change in philosophy/comprehension/etc that implies Ascension to a new order of life - thus the Angels.
I did work out a couple of ways you can get aliens in space, though:
-Anthropology 101 - find primitives, misuse them until they kill you and take your stuff. You can get barbs in space that way.
-Make 'em ourselves - Big Bad Corporation fiddles with ye olde genetic code to make the Best New Thing in tailored lifeforms. Typical malfeasance and incompetence leads to unexpected developments, seeds of a new race with a hate-on for Humanity takes their creche, their Maker's computers, and a starship or three to Beyond Known Space to make a new start. Fast Forward a couple hundred years and suddenly scouts on one end of the fringe are reporting attacks by an alien race using comparable technology (Woohoo! Somebody else to talk to!).

I like fringe regions - areas of space with only limited governmental control reminiscent of the Old West. That's where you get adventures. You don't see too many RPGs aimed at Mall Shopping, after all.

fmitchell
02-06-2011, 08:59 PM
I subscribe to Clarke's "Apes or Angels" conclusion: It is extraordinarily unlikely to encounter another species in the same range of technological development - look at how much we've changed in 200 years. Even if you propose a Berzerker/Gamma Ray Burst scenario to give the region a common start, one minor theological dispute can alter your development calendar by hundreds of years.

Stars Without Number assumes that all advanced technology ("pretech") depended on a mastery of psionics. "The Scream" killed or brain-fried all living psychics, rendering all pretech either useless or priceless. Subsequent generations of psychics learned a little from written records, but secrets beyond the basic disciplines remain a mystery. Meanwhile, the majority of humans and aliens make do with "postech", comparatively primitive physics and engineering that includes star-drives and fusion weaponry.


I suppose you could propose a "Universal Tech Barrier" - the idea of a plateau in technology that allows only tweaks in our relatively complete understanding of the universe. Any significant advances would require a change in philosophy/comprehension/etc that implies Ascension to a new order of life - thus the Angels.

Perhaps monkey-brains (and extraterrestrial equivalents) suffice for life planet-side and a few steps into space, but can't handle the complexity of interstellar travel. Certainly enough physical barriers exist to make human travel beyond the orbit of the moon extremely resource-intensive. Routine space travel may require a post-scarcity society with nigh-unlimited energy, biomechanical organisms adapted to space, or a comprehension and exploitation of physical principles far beyond current human limits. (And who says they're Angels? Maybe they're Great Old Ones.)



Big Bad Corporation fiddles with ye olde genetic code to make the Best New Thing in tailored lifeforms. Typical malfeasance and incompetence leads to unexpected developments, seeds of a new race with a hate-on for Humanity takes their creche, their Maker's computers, and a starship or three to Beyond Known Space to make a new start. Fast Forward a couple hundred years and suddenly scouts on one end of the fringe are reporting attacks by an alien race using comparable technology (Woohoo! Somebody else to talk to!).

Sounds like a universe I developed a while back. The first wave of human interstellar settlers founded various transhumanist civilizations, many of which abused their creations. The second wave, powered by religious zeal, turned a humanistic religion into a humanocentric one, killing, restricting, or neutering non-humans. (A few species who can "pass", or survive in environments humans won't go, live secretly under humanity's pure-strain noses.) At the fringes, where the Terran Empire's power is weakest, lie only recently discovered genetic experiments, rebel artificial intelligences, and breakaway republics/dictatorships/failed states. Beyond that boundary, and in a few scattered systems within the Empire's volume, lie alien civilizations either far ahead or far behind human development, separated from humanity by ultra-powerful aliens obsessed with preserving the children of one planet from exterminating the children of others.

tesral
02-07-2011, 06:17 AM
I like fringe regions - areas of space with only limited governmental control reminiscent of the Old West. That's where you get adventures. You don't see too many RPGs aimed at Mall Shopping, after all.

That would depend on the maul. :fencing:

nijineko
11-12-2011, 06:04 PM
This is true to a limited sense, but not in the shape of the stories themselves. Fantasy and Science Fiction tend to explore different ideas, and I personally always found DRoP to be Fantasy wearing a Science Fiction overcoat.

i would have said that it was sci-fi wearing a fantasy overcoat. the more you read, the more hard and soft science you uncover. but then, she always was fond of psionics.



I think an RPG based on Resistance: Fall of Man would be cool.

It depends on how you difen sci-fi also, I think. Dungeons in Dragons in space? Wait, that sounds cool, too. I better write that down...

check out the Dragonstar d20 rpg. some interesting ideas.



I use wormholes in my writing.

Artificial ones, like Stargate. Think of it as like a magnetic train, with the wormhole as the rail. It's also one of the most plausible forms of FTL, although I'm also fond of the Battlestar Galactica method of beinding space/time (I think Wing Commander used that, too.)

Jump Gates do have their appeal, though.

one of the most intriguing descriptions of an angelic visit i have ever read was as follows; i quote in part:


"...I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor...."

"After this communication, I saw the light in the room begin to gather immediately around the person of him who had been speaking to me, and it continued to do so, until the room was again left dark, except just around him, when instantly I saw, as it were, a conduit open right up into heaven, and he ascended until he entirely disappeared, and the room was left as it had been before this heavenly light had made its appearance."

This would seem to imply something we would recognize as tech, namely a portal or gate of some kind. it seems to only be visible at the entry point, rather than the exit point, given the differences in arrival. perhaps a focus point of some kind?



There was a Lensman game done, it sucked. A better Lensman game would be cool.

are you speaking of the gurps version, perchance?



Stuff like BSG, pure utter drivel. Yuck.

which one? the original had some interesting takes on hard science.



I think the sci-fi trope that bothers me the most is that typically humans are sub-par when compared to the other life forms in the set universe, their only redeeming feature being their ability to adapt and overcome much like sewer rats. In this case, it's either usually looked upon in a tolerant manner by the galactic community (or hated by what usually the bad-guy species), or it's lauded as the one thing everyone else lacks and can SAVE THE UNIVERSE FROM DESTRUCTION.

Personally, I'd like to see a sci-fi setting where either humanity is treated like backwater trash by the universe, or humanity turns out to be the most advanced species in the universe and has to deal with a "we're not alone, but we're alone at the top" situation.

seen titan ae? does both in the same movie....



Eclipse Phase is tickling my sci-fi yearnings. It is mostly hard science. :-D

I am learning to enjoy harder sci-fi and get past my aversion to zero-g, micro-gravity stuff.

check out quantum locking (levitation) phenomena (http://io9.com/5850729/quantum-locking-will-blow-your-mind--but-how-does-it-work) and successful acts of modern teleportation (http://www.research.ibm.com/quantuminfo/teleportation/)....

your reality just got a bit more hard sci-fi. ^^



Don't forget relativity. If you had STL fast ships rather than slow ones the survival problem is eliminated. Relativity effects keep your crew young, but you still take years to get from planet to planet. Say you get to 0.5c. That would be 8 years to Alpha Centauri, doable, plus you get the anti aging of relativity. (I don't have the exact formula handy.)

It still means that your interstellar Empire is going to be small. 100 light years is still 200 years away. You can't alter that. So outside a handfull of stars a planetary government could not exert any influence. By the time the proclimations of El Generalissimo gets to the next world someone has shot him already.

Star Voyagers are going to seem near immortal. Centuries pass and they age but little. The ship would become their world. Everything they care about would have to be there. Anything left on a planet is left behind forever.

there are some intriguing hints that there is a state of existence outside of our universe in which time does not operate under the same rules, if at all. here (http://io9.com/5799335/five-weird-theories-of-what-lies-outside-the-universe), here (http://www.physicsforums.com/archive/index.php/t-60934.html), and here (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/03/100322-dark-flow-matter-outside-universe-multiverse/)for some interesting reading.

tesral
11-14-2011, 03:16 AM
are you speaking of the gurps version, perchance?

It was a Byzantine d100 system with a skill list that took up most of the character sheet in very small print. I only encountered it the one time and was confounding the GM I think because I understood the setting. I cut my space opera teeth on Lensman after all. From Triplanitary to Children of the Lens. The system was overly complex and under explained, typical of the early systems.,

nijineko
12-16-2011, 12:46 PM
i've never seen an old lensman system. own most of the books, though. fun reading. =D

tesral
12-17-2011, 01:48 AM
Something late 70s. I never owned the book myself so I don't even know the proper name of it.

nijineko
12-18-2011, 03:57 AM
indeed, that is a proper.

;D

tesral
12-19-2011, 04:40 AM
indeed, that is a proper.

;D

Never trust a smiling spell checker after one AM.

nijineko
12-21-2011, 01:24 PM
you are not alone... (http://damnyouautocorrect.com/)

shadowmane
01-13-2012, 12:13 PM
I've been kind of leaning towards the pulp sci-fi/atomic punk type stuff. Hard Sci-Fi and Space Opera are starting to get kind of old and stale. I think I want something that you don't have to take too seriously.

I would love to see someone come up with a Space Fantasy setting that uses no technology and all magic. Want a jump gate? Cast a teleport or dimensional portal spell (or have the jump gate as a magic item that casts the spell). Want a computer screen? Cast an illusion spell, or have a magic item that does it for you. Want the ship to go? Use a helm from Spelljammer, but as a magic item. Ray gun? Nope, magic want shaped like a pistol... and it shoots magic missile... or fireball... or lightning bolt.

tesral
01-13-2012, 01:52 PM
Spelljammer is 90% there. It's is all special effects. You could do Star Trek, just dress Scotty in wizard robes and declare it is all magic. (Star Trek is a fantasy) Kirk in a fur jock strap and Uhurua in less.

ashewyntr
01-13-2012, 03:08 PM
Heh. And the nacelles have to be so far apart because the elemental in each one goes homicidal if it detects another living thing. Spock (or Data) is a golem created by an elf.

Ya know...it might be interesting to see if you could design the Enterprise using D&D rules...

tesral
01-16-2012, 03:44 AM
Straight up? I doubt it. Could you noodle it out to work in D&D? Yes. You just have to be old school enough to bend the rules into pretzels when required.

Step one, take a page from Roddenberry. The technology, magic in this case, does not need to be explained. He made a big point of this in the Original writer's guide. Cops do not explain their service guns. Our characters do not explain phasers. Now, you have to figure out the mechanics for the game, but it is not necessary to tie yourself in knots explain the why of how it works. The helmsman mutters "Ignash in gobay" and the ship moves, done. Scotty makes a technowizard roll and the ship's speed improves for 1d4 hours. Insert magicobabble to suit yourself. The one real hard and fast rule is be consistent. IF X does Y now, it always does Y.

I know people that will not do a thing unless you can find it in a book by Lizards. Poor locked up people.

ashewyntr
01-17-2012, 08:36 AM
Straight up? I doubt it. Could you noodle it out to work in D&D? Yes. You just have to be old school enough to bend the rules into pretzels when required.

Step one, take a page from Roddenberry. The technology, magic in this case, does not need to be explained. He made a big point of this in the Original writer's guide. Cops do not explain their service guns. Our characters do not explain phasers. Now, you have to figure out the mechanics for the game, but it is not necessary to tie yourself in knots explain the why of how it works. The helmsman mutters "Ignash in gobay" and the ship moves, done. Scotty makes a technowizard roll and the ship's speed improves for 1d4 hours. Insert magicobabble to suit yourself. The one real hard and fast rule is be consistent. IF X does Y now, it always does Y.

I know people that will not do a thing unless you can find it in a book by Lizards. Poor locked up people.

You're missing the point. It's easy to point at a black box and say "Magic done it"; "Powerful mystical forces make it go." The challenge here is to see how much of the functions of the Enterprise can be described using actual rules. I'd suggest 3.x because I believe it has the most variety in powers and a certain amount of cheesy goodness for when you need to move faster than light. Eberron is even more useful with Artificers and rules for interesting magic items.
I'll start: The phasers appear to be wands that fire sleep/scorching ray/disintegrate, depending on the setting.
The impulse engines could be done as ganged long-flight spells. LOTS of "Glowing blocks of flight". OR could be a horde of bound air elementals. Which might also be useful for life support.

shadowmane
01-17-2012, 07:20 PM
I was thinking of something much more simple. "Phasers" would be embued magic items that fire a massive magic missile, or a massive fireball. The ship's engine would also be a very powerful magic item. The engineering alone of these magic items would take high level artificiers just to build them. They would have multiple spells, and one would have to have the ability to use magic items of this time just to make them work. However, "phaser pistols" would be a simple magic wand shaped like a pistol, with multiple charges and a recharge rate. The ship's computer would be a magic item with the power to store and retrieve data, with an illusion spell to cast it onto a surface, or into the air as a "hologram". No elementals, just magic.

tesral
01-18-2012, 11:51 AM
I said you need to work out the mechanics. But you cannot be afraid to invent things as required.

nijineko
01-19-2012, 03:02 AM
You're missing the point.

i don't think he missed the point. rather, his point was somewhat different from yours.

in theme with the current thought experiment, and assuming you are sticking with official wotc material only (3.x), spelljamming helms (yes, there are official 3e versions of them if you know where to look for the rules) and elemental binding might be good options for movement.

in star trek, both the shield tech and the warp tech were based off of recovered alien tech, rather than invented. as such, one might have to do some inventing, just like tesral suggested. perhaps an artifact, of which lesser copies can be made, might also be appropriate for large scale speed and movement.

a computer could be composed of library spaces (stronghold builders guidebook) miniaturized with a scrying device to magnify and search the libraries in question. it should also contain many blanks combined with a ghost page power and/or auto-quill in order to write or dictate logs and such. scry can also provide the scanners and various viewing screens. others might be made using silent image. greater telekinesis platforms provide the turbolifts. beds of healing or restoration for sickbay (both from stronghold builders guidebook)

if you don't mind being super cheesy and rules questionable, you could postulate locate city bombs as photon torpedoes.

ashewyntr
01-19-2012, 04:07 PM
Shields could also be done as Shield spells alongside Elemental Resistance and Elemental Protection. Items with recharge times in rounds could refresh each shield area as it's worn away.
Your computer seems more akin to a ship's library, whereas a Computer/scanner might be a divination device.
The transporters are a simple (9th level!) Teleportation Circle.
I'm afraid I'm not familiar with Stronghold Builder's Guidebook, but it does sound interesting.
I wonder if it'd be worth approximating the Warp Drive by using Shadow travel? You'd be kinda-here, kinda-there, and moving faster than normal travel.

nijineko
01-20-2012, 02:25 AM
well, the computer always was used as a library, except for the times when it wasn't. ;D and even a library can be used as a calculator which was one of the other major things it was used for in star trek... except for when it wasn't. which was usually then a plot device of some kind.

tesral
01-21-2012, 06:05 AM
TOS it was either a calculator or a Library. TNG and latter they used the computer more the way we use the computer, but then they were starting to understand what the computer was for.

shadowmane
01-22-2012, 09:33 PM
In the 60's, all they had to go off of was the computers of their time. Great bulky things that didn't do as much as the one sitting here on my desk. But we can go even further, specially with the scrying idea, and have the information put right into the character's head.

ashewyntr
01-23-2012, 08:46 AM
"Ah! God! We're all gonna die! Oh. Wait. Never mind. We dodged that meteorite. Sorry. Sorry. Carry on."

tesral
02-26-2012, 10:03 AM
In the 60's, all they had to go off of was the computers of their time. Great bulky things that didn't do as much as the one sitting here on my desk. But we can go even further, specially with the scrying idea, and have the information put right into the character's head.

Yep, I was there. I remember, anytime the utilities screwed up your bill it was "The computer made a mistake" The bill was a punch card, do not fold spindle or mutilate! "Earn a career as a punch key operator!" screamed late night TV. Ayup. Big Iron computers for which I have no fondness.

I've said before and will doubtless say many more times. Science fiction, written or filmed tells you more about the time in which it was written than it does about the future. Star Trek by sheer volume of work alone says a great deal if you are willing to pull aside the curtain and look.

Trek is a fond setting, but an old one. We are looking for something new in terms of an RPG. Frankly I've found that as an RPG setting Star trek is not great for group play. The hierarchy of Starfleet puts someone in command. I've had fun to ten years in a play by E-mail with a single friend. But the more you add the worse it gets.

RPG setting. Allow a different approach here. Instead of blue skying ideas, lets look for something that is fresh, and lends itself to group play. Not every great SF setting does, even if the setting is itself great.

Why does D&D work, or Hero for that matter. What is it about the Heroic Fantasy and the Super Hero genres led themselves to enduring role-play?

ashewyntr
02-26-2012, 10:52 PM
I think one of the problems with scifi RPGs is the reverence for technology that permeates the genre. It makes it hard to resist the temptation to solve all problems from the Engineering bay.

The other common problem I've seen is the obvious benefits of modern technology and economics. In a fantasy game, you can accept, probably with reluctance, that you cannot use that powerful magic item because you are not yet ready for it. It would burn out your mind, refuse to work, take you over, etc. So you have to "gain more experience and power" before you can wield it. And so you apply level and (at least in D&D) value limits on treasure. Superhero games aren't based around technology; they're based around cool things you can do. Since it's obvious that Powerman isn't going to be worried about your M16, we're actually going to give you a boost and explain how your gun is actually an Uber-Gun that will make him sweat. Superhero games are generally balanced around the powers, not the toys.

Unfortunately, in scifi (technically, any culture from Modern forward), we now have access to mass production, financial markets, and supply and demand. The cost of an item is not based on its power, but on how hard it is to create, and how many of them are desired. No one is going to believe that your .38 special should cost a multiple of your iPhone, despite the relative combat power of the little gun. Carry it forward, and you have nano-assemblers, replicators, etc, and manufacture of whatever is, if you will, ruinously cheap. Combine that model with someone who builds a character to have money, or make money, or steal money, and they can then go out and buy the bestest, most powerful custom firearm/powered armor/spaceship on the market. Modern+ breaks loot-based RPGs.

Once the power dynamic is broken, it's hard to stay excited about adventuring. "More treasure? Nah, thanks. I already bought a planetoid with the investments from the last haul."

A Scifi game needs a story-based design, where the rules complement telling the story, instead of adventuring - which, I might add, in our civilization we call murder, robbery, desecration, and grave-robbing.

fmitchell
02-27-2012, 06:27 AM
Frankly I've found that as an RPG setting Star trek is not great for group play. The hierarchy of Starfleet puts someone in command.

Prime Directive, set in the "Star Fleet Universe" of Star Fleet Battles, centers on an away team or "alpha team". In typical Star Trek, Kirk, Spock, and a redshirt beaming down to the planet, which unrealistically endangers the command staff on every mission and raises the issue of rank. An alpha team usually consists of low-ranking officers from various specialties who don't directly report to each other; like PCs in other games, leadership is informal and depends on circumstances, e.g. the diplomat might take over in first contact missions and trade negotiations, the security chief leads in combat, the scout leads in exploration missions or survival situations, and scientists/engineers/technicians do their thing with non-technical staff in supporting and "gofer" roles. If players really want to command the starship instead, maybe each has a second character among the command staff (captain, helm, sensors, weapons, damage control, etc.) during space battles.


Why does D&D work, or Hero for that matter. What is it about the Heroic Fantasy and the Super Hero genres led themselves to enduring role-play?

Power creep and ready access to that power breaks the typical D&D dynamic, as ashewyntr noted. Another problem, noted in a blog post on a site I'm too lazy to look up, is that fantasy role-playing games all have a catchy elevator pitch, usually "medieval times with magic". Everyone knows (or thinks they know) about the Middle Ages, and everyone can imagine what magic does even if the actual system works completely differently. On the other hand, there's no ISO (http://www.iso.org/) Standard Science Fiction Setting, so GMs have to a) pick a specific franchise and deal with players' superior knowledge of canon, b) list the premises of that particular setting, or c) do both with the advantages and disadvantages of both.

To paraphrase the unspecified blog post from memory, fantasy games allow Gandalf, Conan, and the Gray Mouser to hunt down Dracula, but a setting that allows Obi-Wan Kenobi, James T. Kirk, and The Doctor to defeat Ming the Merciless is far harder to find.

EDIT: I overcame my laziness: Sci-Fi Goulash (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2010/09/sci-fi-goulash.html) at Grognardia.

tesral
02-27-2012, 06:07 PM
Once the power dynamic is broken, it's hard to stay excited about adventuring. "More treasure? Nah, thanks. I already bought a planetoid with the investments from the last haul."

A Scifi game needs a story-based design, where the rules complement telling the story, instead of adventuring - which, I might add, in our civilization we call murder, robbery, desecration, and grave-robbing.

That is one factor, no argument. It is one reason Star Trek does work as an RPG. While there are lots of toys you cannot phaser a social problem into submission. Likewise Serenity, or Star Wars.

Star Wars is plot Velcro. Any plot can be played out in the Star Wars game. You have a whole galaxy to deal with. But we want something new. How do we take the parts of the various SF genre that work for gaming and put a new face on it that isn't used furniture?

---------- Post added at 06:07 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:44 PM ----------


Prime Directive
To paraphrase the unspecified blog post from memory, fantasy games allow Gandalf, Conan, and the Gray Mouser to hunt down Dracula, but a setting that allows Obi-Wan Kenobi, James T. Kirk, and The Doctor to defeat Ming the Merciless is far harder to find.


You can actually, if you break them down to what they are not who they are. Obi Wan is the wise teacher, Kirk the smart action hero. Ming the nefarious tyrant. Star Wars or Star Trek both are "generic" enough to insert these types. Obi Wan = Surak, Kirk = Han Solo, Ming =- Palpatine.

So story and characters must come first. Characters must be in situation where they can have adventures. Another day at the Imperial Ministry of Dull Affairs does not a RPG make.

Oh and one forgotten. Traveller. Again the open ended galaxy where anything can happen.

One Idea I have seen exploited to good effect was River World. The basic idea of famous people from history and or fiction encountering each other. It was a amorphous shaped changing race that considered taking on the personality and shape of a figure from their vast library of personalities a religious experience. The change is complete and the blob believes to the very core they are that person. No using blob shape. Some of the people escape the world by building ships. Any number of character concepts can be played out on the planet or in space.

fmitchell
02-28-2012, 06:34 AM
Oh and one forgotten. Traveller. Again the open ended galaxy where anything can happen.

Out of the box, Traveller can't emulate Jedi lightsaber duels. Its equipment list lacks a sonic screwdriver or TARDIS, and "regeneration" isn't listed among possible alien abilities. You can always house-rule something like those abilities; no D&D magic-user is exactly like Gandalf, so the "laser spanner" won't be a Universal Plot Device, for example. However, a house-ruled Jedi probably won't play the same as a Jedi in Star Wars D6, and a house-ruled Time Lord probably won't be able to flim-flam or jerry-rig the way he could in Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space.

And what happens when Caprica Six, Aeon Flux, or River Tam want to join in the fun? One's a cyborg that can upload its consciousness into an uncounted number of copies, one's a dystopian freedom-fighter/terrorist who uses gadgets and improbable acrobatics, and one's a crazy psychic who can beat up an entire bar full of people by herself. (Together they fight crime?)

Every SF RPG makes some assumptions about technological progress, how psionics works (if it exists), and the realm of possibilities beyond known science, and they're all different. Contrast this with fantasy roleplaying, where everyone knows (more or less) what chain mail is, how a sword works, and how a horse travels the vast gulf between one village and the next. Magic differs in every set of rules and house rules, but hey, it's magic, A Wizard Does It.

tesral
03-12-2012, 02:58 AM
Out of the box, Traveller can't emulate Jedi lightsaber duels. Its equipment list lacks a sonic screwdriver or TARDIS, and "regeneration" isn't listed among possible alien abilities.

Every SF RPG makes some assumptions about technological progress, how psionics works (if it exists), and the realm of possibilities beyond known science, and they're all different. Contrast this with fantasy roleplaying, where everyone knows (more or less) what chain mail is, how a sword works, and how a horse travels the vast gulf between one village and the next. Magic differs in every set of rules and house rules, but hey, it's magic, A Wizard Does It.

I've never considered the game out of the box as the limits of the game. My gaming philosophy is more inclusive. My game can have anything in it I or my players want. Yes the general flavor of Traveler is different than Star Wars or Star Trek. However that by no means closes off the font of the possible. Different flavors are good.

Sweeper
04-18-2012, 09:08 AM
I voted for interesting background.