View Full Version : Branching out....

07-17-2010, 03:04 PM
I'm getting a little full of fantasy and want to branch out into my other genre love of Sci-Fi. My likes in this genre are Firefly/Serenity, Star Wars, Eve Online. These are the influences that I like in the genre right now. As sci-fi in the RPG world is vast, I would definitely be a noob. I've been playing D&D since AD&D 2E and am currently in a campaign in 4e. I'm burned out on swords and sorcery and I'm looking for something different. Any suggestions to get my feet wet? I've played the Star Wars RPG a looooong time ago, so I'm not sure if that has changed at all since then. I've been looking at picking up the Serenity RPG. But, I figured asking around here would also be a good bet. So, any suggestions????

07-17-2010, 04:28 PM
Depends on how much of a change you're looking for, really - just the genre, or mechanical change, too (though I'd say most sci-fi games are mechanically different from d20/D&D). Also, what are you looking for in a game, other than "sci-fi"? Those answers will help narrow down suggestions.

Star Wars: you're looking at a game that is (depending on the version) either out of print, or soon to be. There's the old West End Games d6 editions (out-of-print), the initial WotC d20 offering and its revised rules (out-of-print), and the newest d20 Saga Edition (soon to be out-of-print). The Saga Edition rules are, I think, the strongest offering from WotC, but others can go into better description of its flavor.

FATE-based games: Starblazer Adventures (http://www.cubicle-7.com/starblazer.htm) (more space opera) and Diaspora (http://www.vsca.ca/Diaspora/) (harder sci-fi). FATE rules are pretty different from D&D. VSCA has the Diaspora SRD on their page, so you can peruse. If I were to run a straight sci-fi game right now, I'd probably use Diaspora.

Other games I'm not familiar with, so I'll let someone else pitch them :P

Richard Littles
07-17-2010, 04:35 PM
I'd recommend Star Hero (https://www.herogames.com/viewItem.htm?itemID=199587) since it can do pretty much everything you want. There's a setting for Star Hero that is completely unique called Alien Wars. (https://www.herogames.com/viewItem.htm?itemID=227626)Once you get used to the Hero System (https://www.herogames.com/viewItem.htm?itemID=240432) you'll never have to use another system out there for any genre.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
07-17-2010, 08:34 PM
Traveller rpg. Arguably the most flexible scifi system out there today. Over 30 years old and still its huge fanbase is growing. Heck, they are even releasing new material on a monthly basis.

07-17-2010, 10:08 PM
with reference to "space opera", what does this refer to and how is it different then your regular "sci-fi"?

Richard Littles
07-17-2010, 10:42 PM
with reference to "space opera", what does this refer to and how is it different then your regular "sci-fi"?

Space opera doesn't adhere to science and is more fantasy based like Star Wars. Regular science fiction rests upon science for the most part, but there are occassions that scientific law is broken or replaced by the imagination of the author. A regular sci-fi show would be like Ron Moore's Battlestar: Galactica.

07-19-2010, 02:05 PM
Using Savage Worlds and the Slipstream setting is also a good choice. The rules are fast and easy to learn, and the setting is details and has a built in campaign arc if you wish to follow it.

07-19-2010, 03:38 PM
I would recommend Traveller or Alternity's Stardrive setting for straight Sci-Fi. If your into Transhumanism I can' t recommend Eclipse Phase enough (you can download the game for free here http://robboyle.wordpress.com/eclipse-phase-pdfs/). If you want Sci-Fi but aren't ready to totally ditch fantasy Shadowrun 4e is a fantastic game and the 20th anniversary edition book is amazing.

07-20-2010, 07:11 AM
Forgot to mention, I have played a session of Serenity. Honestly I knew I was going to have issues with it before I was even done reading the book. It was a great show and great movie but the setting feels very lacking when it comes to trying to put together a campaign. You have one monster, the Reavers, that's it.

07-20-2010, 12:47 PM
With Serenity, it was more about people verse people and everyone vs the reavers. The movie sort of tied up the whole reaver thing, but that doens't really detract from the setting, however, it is a very Human centric setting.

Traveller as Thoth and otehrs have stated is good system with a great deal of flexibility on-going support. If your looking for more Cyperpunk Sci-Fi..ie. Corporate governments, heavy intrigue, subterfuge, everything and everyone looking to get one up on everyone else...you've got Shadowrun, based in the 2060s or 70s depending upon incarnation. And then tehre is the newer system Alpha Omega, set in the year 2280 3 years before uber powerful entities are about tor eturn to Earth and continue their eternal battle, only to discover that the people of Earth have evolved to the point of being able to determine the outcome of things this time around. Both systems use Dice pool mechanics...no classes...no character levels.

If you'd like to keep things simple, theirs always any number of d20 variants d20 Futures, Farscape, Stargate SG-1, and Babylon 5, though they have class-level systems. If yo've played 3E, then you'll have no problem picking up any one of these.

FASA, Last Unicorn Games, and Deicpher all released versions of a game for Star Trek. FASA was percentile based, with LUG/Decipher having there own unique mechanic, all system used a template set-up for characters. Unforunately all three are out of print. I believe there is a d20 version called Prime Directive that is still in print.

Alternity is a good system that is arguably the precursor to the d20 fad that hit DnD and a host of other game systems. Nicely put together system if you can get a hold of it, as it's almost 10 years out of print. d20 Future Stardrive was actually ported in from Alternity. Versatile sytem that would pretty much support any style fo Sci-Fi game you're looking for.

But as Sascha stated, it all depends on the style of game you're looking for. Exploration, see what's out there...HArdcore military campaign with galaxy spanning interstellar empires...Space Opera, fantasy based game in technological setting (Star Wars)...hell, maybe even a post apocalyptic game, sort of Cleopatra 2525, where machines have taken over the surface of Earth while Humans struggle for survival underground as they try to return to the surface.

07-20-2010, 03:06 PM
I'd suggest Traveller, any edition or Battletech's Mechwarrior. I've played Star Wars, both the early edition and the d20 version, but it had too much of a high fantasy feel to it for my tastes. (I prefer gritty fantasy like WFRP or historical fantasy like Pendragon).

07-21-2010, 07:03 AM
The new Battletech rpg "A Time of War" just came out recently Catalyst has the quick start rules on their website. You can still get all the Alternity books reasonably priced on Amazon.

07-22-2010, 09:23 AM
This isn't Sci-fi in the sense of Star Trek or Star Wars, but the D20Modern books could give you ideas for near future/modern sci-fi. I've got both the Alternity and D20 Dark Matter books which would be sci-fi ala X-files. BTW, anyone know of a Dark Matter/conspiracy type game online that could use a player, drop me a PM.

07-27-2010, 05:17 PM
I would say go with what you/your group likes... that said traditionally it seams most people went from D&D to either Star Wars (latest is Saga but now out of print) or Shadowrun (latest is 4e but I have real problems with the way the company has been treating its authors) in my area anyway.

07-28-2010, 07:45 AM
As far as a rules system is concerned, I'd suggest looking for one that fits your needs. Each one will have pluses and minuses. For instance, if you're looking for a level based system, similar in line with DnD, then you'll want to use a similar system, for instance D20 Future. If you'd rather go with a skill based system, there are quite a few out there that work well.

G.U.R.P.S. comes to mind, but tends to be more math intensive than say Basic Role-Playing. G.U.R.P.S. characters are normally built on points, while BRP characters are built from a combination of dice rolling and point spending. G.U.R.P.S. skills use a 3d6 method to determine success while BRP uses d100. In G.U.R.P.S. you gain experience points, which are used to increase stats, skills and sometimes new advantages. BRP normally grants skill progression through use of skills via a skill increase roll.

I'd say check out any of the free test drive rules that are out there. Most systems have them no a days or forgoing that, check out the games in your local game store, if the owner will let you look through the rule books, then pick the one you think you'll like best.

Good luck in your search.