Last year only saw one post from me. I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I'm going to try and make 2013 a more active one here on Worlds Galore. That said, I want to discuss Sci-Fi RPG's.
For a while now I've been in a major sci-fi kick. This is largely due to my entertainment outlets. I've been replaying the Mass Effect series again (just finished my third complete play-through of all three games in order) as well as having just started a Star Trek Online account, reading The New Space Opera Vol 1, and watching Farscape and Star Trek (TOS and TNG) on Netflix. I’ve always loved sci-fi rpg’s, but it’s usually been Star Wars-based and while Star Wars is one of my most beloved universes, I’ve been longing for something else, something a tad bit more science than just fiction. Thanks to this, I’ve been on the look-out for a new sci-fi rpg system.
Just like with fantasy gaming, I’m wanting something that’s going to be easy to run, easy to play, and pretty malleable when it comes to the system. I’ve found that I really like Stars Without Number, even moreso now that Other Dust is out and I can add in mutations to the setting without trying to modify Mutant Future’s mutations rules or entirely creating them myself. However, there are still some things that I don’t like about SWN. First off is that I don’t like the human-centric focus of the setting. This is a focus that is tied very closely to the rules. I like my sci-fi more in the “Space Opera” vein of Star Wars, Star Trek, Farscape, Babylon 5, etc. with lots of aliens and beings all interacting in some capacity. Plus, while I enjoy the idea of mankind crawling out from under the rubble of a fallen civilization, I prefer that more for games like Gamma World or any zombie apocalypse game I should run. Another sticking point for me is that I don’t like the “old-school” AC system. I prefer the contemporary climbing AC rules brought about with 3rd Edition D&D. However, I like how SWN handles starships, starship battles, cybernetics, and so on; things I don’t want to try to re-create or I haven’t found in other sources that I like better. To alleviate these issues, I went through the rules, essentially re-writing them in spots to strip out as much of the setting material as possible as well as to modify the system more to my liking. What I was left with was something much more to my liking while still being able to utilize the great material for SWN as well as other OSR and D20 System-based resources at my disposal.
Some of the changes I’ve made: Ascending AC, modified the attribute bonuses (9-10 are baseline, with a -1/+1 bonus for every 3 points above or below that base, so 11-13 grants a +1 bonus, while 8-6 grants a -1 penalty), and species use a simple -/+ system for attribute rather than having to have a certain score in a stat or stats to play a certain species.
Setting-wise, it is heavily inspired by Mass Effect. I added in the Mass Effect relays (called “Elder” Relays) to the setting to allow for faster intergalactic travel (while still keeping the relays down to only one per sector, so drilling distance can still hamper ships that just can’t get beyond the system the relay rests in). Reapers are there, but I’m toying with changing them from a force that decimates advanced cultures every 50,000 years to a rogue nanobot collective. Still very dangerous, but not one on par with what’s found in the Mass Effect games. The primary focus is on the political play of the Galactic Concord, which is a large, and growing alliance of stellar nations of various species. The Concord is similar in many respects to that of the Federation in Star Trek, though it works more like a UN rather than a stellar nation in and of itself. There are many threats ranging not just from the Reapers, but also from criminal syndicates, invasion remnants (both the Yuuzahn Vong from the Star Wars Expanded Universe and the Illithids of D&D fame have attempted and failed to dominate Concord space and are still found in pockets throughout the galaxy), rogue stellar nations, vast alien intelligences and so forth. As I continue to work on the setting, I’ll provide more detail.
Currently, my work on the setting has been primarily on getting system where I want it. I consider that job pretty much done, so now I’m working on the species found in the galaxy, as well as converting over weapons, armor, creatures, and robots from other games. Since I’ve wrapped up my previous project of characters for MSH, this has become my gaming focus…now if I just had more time to actually play…