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fmitchell
07-09-2008, 01:31 PM
Since Generic/Universal systems can theoretically emulate any genre, I'm curious what people actually use them for. Please pick the options that best fit the genres you use a generic system for.


P.S. For those wondering what a Planetary Romance (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_romance) is, just follow the link.

Webhead
07-09-2008, 02:26 PM
Hmmm...tricky to answer. I've read far more "generic" RPGs than I've actually played, so most of the genres I've considered exist in my noodle and nowhere else.

I ran a "Supernatural Wild West" (a la Deadlands) game once with Risus and once with FATE. I tried running a "Sword and Sorcery Fantasy" with GURPS briefly before I decided against it. I began building a "Modern Fantasy-Horror" based on the Dresden Files using Unisystem but haven't gotten to run it yet.

So I guess the trend reveals that anything with a "Supernatural" bent to it, I try to squeeze out of a "generic" RPG. Maybe because that's one of those genres that I don't play much, but would like to see more often.

Valdar
07-09-2008, 07:21 PM
I've played a lot of science fiction games that some players wanted to be space travel (me) and others wanted to be cyberpunk.

The biggest problem with GURPS Space is it's not really playable with heavy weapons, since the difference between bouncing harmlessly off the armor and scrambling the armor's contents is like 10 percent of the armor's DR.

Other than that, as mentioned above, the trouble with GURPS Space is that it's got no default setting, and everybody comes to the table with a different notion about what sort of game it is. I've found the best solution is to borrow a setting from elsewhere (Traveller, Star Trek, etc.)

tesral
07-10-2008, 12:54 AM
A little bit of everything. Frankly anything I don't use D&D for.

My other games are Star Trek and B-13. Generic systems work best with both in the heavy skill based sense.

fmitchell
07-10-2008, 04:34 AM
I've played a lot of science fiction games that some players wanted to be space travel (me) and others wanted to be cyberpunk.

The biggest problem with GURPS Space is it's not really playable with heavy weapons, since the difference between bouncing harmlessly off the armor and scrambling the armor's contents is like 10 percent of the armor's DR.

Other than that, as mentioned above, the trouble with GURPS Space is that it's got no default setting, and everybody comes to the table with a different notion about what sort of game it is. I've found the best solution is to borrow a setting from elsewhere (Traveller, Star Trek, etc.)

That's why a GM should outline exactly what he means by "science fiction" at the outset. More importantly, he should either outline the assumptions of his world or draw an analogy with existing fiction ... which is quite independent of genre. "Old West" could be dime-store-novel shoot-em-ups, gritty tales of survival, or Deadlands. "D&D" is practically its own genre, modulo edition wars, but "fantasy" could be low magic or high magic, "high fantasy" or "low fantasy", Conan or Lord of the Rings or Lord Dunsany or Wizard of Oz or Arthurian legend or Chinese legend or nearly anything, really. And so on.

Maybe I should take the rest to the GURPS forum, but in brief: GURPS tends towards "gritty realism". Extrapolating from the present, future weapons will not only kill people but cremate or at least puree the corpse for convenience. Heck, in the real world gun wounds are far more debilitating and deadlier than most games represent. If you want a military game where people shrug off blaster bolts or minions never hit PCs, you probably want HERO, FATE, or D6. Or, like Firefly, assume that slugthrowers, stunners, and expensive laser guns are state of the art.

Webhead
07-10-2008, 08:49 AM
Maybe I should take the rest to the GURPS forum, but in brief: GURPS tends towards "gritty realism". Extrapolating from the present, future weapons will not only kill people but cremate or at least puree the corpse for convenience. Heck, in the real world gun wounds are far more debilitating and deadlier than most games represent. If you want a military game where people shrug off blaster bolts or minions never hit PCs, you probably want HERO, FATE, or D6. Or, like Firefly, assume that slugthrowers, stunners, and expensive laser guns are state of the art.

Aye. Many genres I prefer to play in a more "cinematic" style over "gritty realism" style. Oh, there should be the threat of death or serious injury, sure, but it is just as possible for people to take "grazes" or get punched in the face and wipe the blood from their lip Bruce Lee-style.

I always liked that Firefly didn't go overboard with advanced personal tech. Personal ranged weapons are still things that hurl small pieces of lead really fast, and a "laser gun" is something very rare, highly illegal and gets 5 or 6 shots off before it needs to be recharged. :)

tesral
07-10-2008, 10:44 AM
That's why a GM should outline exactly what he means by "science fiction" at the outset.


One set of defintions.

Science Fiction A from of speculative fiction first defined and promoted as such by Hugo Gernsback by founding the first magazine dedicated to it, Amazing Stories (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Stories), in 1926. The Science Fiction Achievement award, given to various works each year by vote of the members of the World Science Fiction Society, is named the "Hugo" after him.
Science fiction is often defined in terms of various sub genre. These can include:
Hard SF: Obeys the known rules of physics with one exception. (FTL, Hyperdrive etc.) Can speculate on future developments within reason.
Soft SF: Obeys the general rule for Hard SF but can play freer with the exceptions.
Science Fantasy: Follows the framework of science fiction, using the tropes of that genre I.E. space ships, strange worlds etc. but hews closer to the rules of fantasy. Most space opera is Science Fantasy.
Fantasy: Breaks known laws of physics and replaces them with alternative laws. "Magic" known unreal beasts on Earth etc.
Alternate History: Can be hard or soft but explores the possible future if certain events in history had not turned out as they did. The Confederacy won, ancient people did invent the steam engine, etc.

Valdar
07-10-2008, 07:25 PM
Even if you've narrowed things down to a sub-genre, the players will still be frustrated when they don't know anything about their world.

I once ran a game in which a player wanted to put a brick through a car window and hot-wire it. How would this scenario play out in the far future? Will civilian vehicle windows be fragile enough to smash by hand? How difficult would it be to circumvent the ignition protection on such a vehicle (if "ignition" even applies here)? What are the chances it will have lo-jack? The character will know all of this, but as far as the player and DM go, you're in free-form roleplay territory.

As far as lethality of weapons goes, it's certainly realistic, but doesn't offer much from a game perspective. It would be good if there were some way to let the heavy weapons get some play beyond "you're killed, or you're fine". Maybe some way the characters could have huge numbers of HT (biotech, mutation, cyber, etc), or an easy way of coming back from the dead, partial insubstantiability to fend off the majority of the attack, etc. Or even ablative armor, though that's pretty Car Wars-ish...

Valdar
07-10-2008, 07:45 PM
Hard SF: Obeys the known rules of physics with one exception. (FTL, Hyperdrive etc.) Can speculate on future developments within reason.

Apart from FTL, I'd ask for one other exception: An easy way to get out of an Earthlike gravity well. Super-efficient fuel, anti-gravity, reactionless thruster, or even "Sinclair molecule chain" for a space elevator, you name it- you need to be able to visit a planet without needing 99 percent of your vessel's mass in fuel to leave it, which is where we're at now technologically.

The advantage of going with a "super-rocket" (fuel or reactionless) for this is that it gives you tactical space combat. And nothing beats space combat.

Nothing.

fmitchell
07-10-2008, 10:09 PM
Hard SF: Obeys the known rules of physics with one exception. (FTL, Hyperdrive etc.) Can speculate on future developments within reason.

Gregory Benford regards any sort of FTL as "playing with the net down". Also, some "hard SF" includes other technologies not possible under current scientific understanding, e.g. "force shields", artificial gravity, "reactionless drives" to get out of orbit or to make interplanetary engines ultra-fast (as cited above), etc. Different people draw the lines in different ways.

I actually like Ultra-Tech for GURPS Fourth Edition -- a Fourth Edition that Tesral might not hate. Unlike previous editions, this one clearly marks any scientifically unjustifiable technology with a "^", rather than assigning it a specific (far future) tech level. Not only does that demarcate possible from improbable, it also allows someone to declare that, say, Johannes Kepler discovered antigravity and space flight in the seventeenth century, and his book Somnium wasn't fiction.

Valdar
07-11-2008, 01:33 AM
Gregory Benford regards any sort of FTL as "playing with the net down".


Orson Scott Card tried to create a universe that obeyed Einsteinian physics, with no FTL. Did really well at first. Then found it tough to write against and threw in interstellar teleportation, apparently.

Even without FTL, you have to invent something fantastical in order to get between stars within a human lifetime. Our rockets work for hours at best- you'd need one that fired for months to get to the nearest star.




it also allows someone to declare that, say, Johannes Kepler discovered antigravity and space flight in the seventeenth century, and his book Somnium wasn't fiction.

Sweetness. I'm totally writing a 17th c. science ficition game now. Who's with me?

(aliens in this game come from Bergerac and Fontenelle...)

fmitchell
07-11-2008, 04:59 AM
Even without FTL, you have to invent something fantastical in order to get between stars within a human lifetime. Our rockets work for hours at best- you'd need one that fired for months to get to the nearest star.

Months? Try years, decades, or centuries.

You can also have space travel without star travel, if your solar system contains multiple habitable (or at least inhabited) worlds. GURPS Transhuman Space assumes myriad colonies on our Moon, the Lagrange points, Mars, asteroids, the moons of the outer planets, and in independent orbit around the Sun (if I'm not mistaken) ... plus thriving undersea colonies. Firefly takes this principle to an absurd extreme -- hundreds of earthlike planets and moons within a few weeks of each other -- but one idea I've had is a bunch of "bowls" with their own atmospheres in an otherwise airless Dyson sphere.

But yes, if you want interstellar travel at sub-light speeds, you have to assume a) a reason for even doing such a thing, b) some sort of stasis or cryogenic suspension, and c) a trans-stellar organization willing to ship people around and help them orient themselves on a new planet. Another thread (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5745) explored this idea, but I think we concluded that STL interstellar travel was really only good as a backstory for a planetary romance (see above), or a campaign based entirely in a single alien solar system.

Valdar
07-12-2008, 10:34 AM
Months? Try years, decades, or centuries.


I think months would do it. The trip would take decades, but the acceleration and deceleration at the beginning and end (when you'd need the rocket firing) would take months.

I think I figured out once that if you accelerated at 1g, it would take you about six months to reach lightspeed. Due to relativity, though, that's six months on board the starship- I'd have to get my math geekitude on to figure out what the sweet spot would be for cruising speed, since getting to exactly lightspeed would take exactly forever in the static world, so you'd want to get nearly as fast as light (NAFAL, as I've heard it abbreviated).

fmitchell
07-12-2008, 04:52 PM
I think months would do it. The trip would take decades, but the acceleration and deceleration at the beginning and end (when you'd need the rocket firing) would take months.

I think I figured out once that if you accelerated at 1g, it would take you about six months to reach lightspeed. Due to relativity, though, that's six months on board the starship- I'd have to get my math geekitude on to figure out what the sweet spot would be for cruising speed, since getting to exactly lightspeed would take exactly forever in the static world, so you'd want to get nearly as fast as light (NAFAL, as I've heard it abbreviated).

But the greater your speed, the more energy it takes to accelerate. Plus, formerly harmless interstellar dust and gas particles are now hurtling at you at your own relative speed. Most practical starship designs, using currently understandable technology, top out at about 0.3c.

Also, despite your own personal time, the universe will have moved on. Assuming a reliable lightspeed communication mechanism and some "cheat" that allows 0.9c travel without extinguishing stars, that peaceful colony 50LY away that you were going to retire to may have had a bloody coup and an ecological disaster in the century since you first heard about it.

Valdar
07-12-2008, 05:28 PM
But the greater your speed, the more energy it takes to accelerate. Plus, formerly harmless interstellar dust and gas particles are now hurtling at you at your own relative speed. Most practical starship designs, using currently understandable technology, top out at about 0.3c.

Also, despite your own personal time, the universe will have moved on. Assuming a reliable lightspeed communication mechanism and some "cheat" that allows 0.9c travel without extinguishing stars, that peaceful colony 50LY away that you were going to retire to may have had a bloody coup and an ecological disaster in the century since you first heard about it.

The increased energy requirements are a relative argument (literally)- your ship increases in mass according to a static observer, but on board the ship, it just looks like the universe is slowing down.

And, the final velocity would depend on how the "cheat" was defined- if you're using a reaction rocket, you're limited to your exhaust velocity, which for most rockets we know about today is significantly less that 0.1c.

And as for civilizations rising and falling during your trip, I can't think offhand of a SF story that takes that into account (in both Niven's Integral Trees and Card's Ender's Game, the same galactic government is happily chugging away after the trip...)

nijineko
07-12-2008, 07:26 PM
technically, it's the rest of the universe's mass that appears to increase from the point of view of a spacefarer in said rocket.... however, that will require more energy from the rocket to push against the increased mass and resulting gravitational attractions. end result... you still need more energy than before the longer you accelerate.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
07-14-2008, 09:39 PM
Hmmm...tricky to answer. I've read far more "generic" RPGs than I've actually played, so most of the genres I've considered exist in my noodle and nowhere else.

I ran a "Supernatural Wild West" (a la Deadlands) game once with Risus and once with FATE. I tried running a "Sword and Sorcery Fantasy" with GURPS briefly before I decided against it. I began building a "Modern Fantasy-Horror" based on the Dresden Files using Unisystem but haven't gotten to run it yet.

So I guess the trend reveals that anything with a "Supernatural" bent to it, I try to squeeze out of a "generic" RPG. Maybe because that's one of those genres that I don't play much, but would like to see more often.
Kind of a bit of a tangent here(apologies) but REH (Robert E. Howard), the author of Conan and others, wrote a couple of supernatural westerns, if i recall. I sent the book to a relative years ago, that loved westerns, and he said he loved it.

Thoth-Amon

Webhead
07-15-2008, 11:46 AM
Kind of a bit of a tangent here(apologies) but REH (Robert E. Howard), the author of Conan and others, wrote a couple of supernatural westerns, if i recall. I sent the book to a relative years ago, that loved westerns, and he said he loved it.

Thoth-Amon

Hmmm...I may have to research this. The only works of Howard that I'm familiar with are his Conan and Solomon Kane stories, but if he did something of the "supernatural western" sort, I'd have to give it a read.

agoraderek
07-15-2008, 10:31 PM
i use GURPS to get my old school top secret fix, basically. i loved playing top secret, but the rules were, um, esoteric...

(im talking original TS, not the TS/SI edition...)

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
07-15-2008, 10:47 PM
Hmmm...I may have to research this. The only works of Howard that I'm familiar with are his Conan and Solomon Kane stories, but if he did something of the "supernatural western" sort, I'd have to give it a read.
I'll look for the name. If i can find it, i'll list it here.

Thoth-Amon

MortonStromgal
07-23-2008, 04:42 PM
double post

MortonStromgal
07-23-2008, 04:44 PM
Post Apocalyptic just because I can't think of a good system for one.

Tamerath
08-13-2008, 01:30 AM
I got my hands on West End Game's d6 generic system before it went out of print...damned if I didn't loose the thing just as fast. I liked what I read though. GURPS is okay too..I flipped through that a couple of times but have never played it

Chi
08-15-2008, 10:01 PM
I have never been brave enough to ask my fellow mates to play anything new so I guess all I will ever play is d and d

TAROT
08-16-2008, 01:41 AM
Something else (please explain)

Supers & apocalyptic.

ronpyatt
08-17-2008, 12:58 AM
I've been able to play multiple genres with generic systems. Supernatural, fantasy, science-fiction, and mixed genres are common for me to use in a generic systems. I prefer PDQ, Fudge, and Wushu over the most popular rpg in the world anyway. I even reworked a version of Fudge to play what I call DnD'Lite.

Kelbin
08-28-2008, 08:53 PM
My favorite use for the generic systems is with scifi. Mainly because different worlds are just that different.