Space Opera without wars (Space Guard instead of Space Navies)

Dropkicker

Part Time Dilettante
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#41
I would very much like to see a science fiction setting where the main characters are not members of a military or quasi-military organization, where they don't wear uniforms, have ranks, or call each other "sir" They should have a variety of jobs, and not have to always be saying things like "target their engines. Fire!" Since Star Wars, people have continued to focus on the "Wars" part. Because of this, sci-fi is so often focused on laser fights and big explosions in space. I think as soon as someone begins designing a science fiction RPG, they immediately start thinking about all the cool weapons this game will have. This a problem. A story can be interesting and fun even if it isn't about a war.
Both Traveller and Thousand Suns ably support what I think of as "working class" sci fi; that is folks traveling around working for a living (and having adventures).
 

creases

Registered User
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#42
A common adventure theme of classic Traveller is, taking all manner of borderline-legitimate jobs so you can keep up with your ship's regular mortgage payments.
 

Rupert

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#43
If one is okay with "there can be wars, but there won't be one for a while", for whatever reason (exhausation and cold war, for example), 2300AD with ignoring the Kafer War arc or saying it turns into another cold war would work. The material for 2300AD, aside from the Kafer War books, is mostly about troubleshooting and solving mysteries, both human and natural.
 

Rupert

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#44
A common adventure theme of classic Traveller is, taking all manner of borderline-legitimate jobs so you can keep up with your ship's regular mortgage payments.
A lot of them are "Go to system X, as agents of Patron Y, and make sure that your Patron's interests are protected/furthered there." How the PCs go about that is up to them, and illegal methods might not be the best answer, given the risk of blow-back if they go wrong. The important traits of the PCs in this sort of campaign are honour and reliability - the Patron has to be able to trust them with their reputation and honour, as well as their wealth.
 

Bruce Redux

Not flying or biting
Validated User
#45
I would very much like to see a science fiction setting where the main characters are not members of a military or quasi-military organization, where they don't wear uniforms, have ranks, or call each other "sir" They should have a variety of jobs, and not have to always be saying things like "target their engines. Fire!" Since Star Wars, people have continued to focus on the "Wars" part. Because of this, sci-fi is so often focused on laser fights and big explosions in space. I think as soon as someone begins designing a science fiction RPG, they immediately start thinking about all the cool weapons this game will have. This a problem. A story can be interesting and fun even if it isn't about a war.
Agreed so much. I want space historians (guess my college major), space archeologists (the Fate setting book Ghost Planets is awesome for this), space entertainers, space search-and-rescue people, space first responders, space journalists, space doctors (why, yes, I did imprint on James White's Sector General stories at an early age), space artists, space field scientists (guess my college housemates' majors), space wilderness enthusiasts and conservationists (John Muir, that thou coulds't see such a day), and so forth and so on for many paragraphs.

A common adventure theme of classic Traveller is, taking all manner of borderline-legitimate jobs so you can keep up with your ship's regular mortgage payments.
My initial reaction, when I grasped how much Traveller was built around this back in the late '70s, was that I probably could think of more boring things to do in a campaign in a setting like the Third Imperium but that it would take some work. I still feel that way. I've seen folks have wonderful fun with it, and I'm glad for them, but it is so far removed from anything that interested/interests me in sf prose, comics, etc., or that I ever hankered to do myself.
 

Rupert

Active member
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#46
My initial reaction, when I grasped how much Traveller was built around this back in the late '70s, was that I probably could think of more boring things to do in a campaign in a setting like the Third Imperium but that it would take some work. I still feel that way. I've seen folks have wonderful fun with it, and I'm glad for them, but it is so far removed from anything that interested/interests me in sf prose, comics, etc., or that I ever hankered to do myself.
I've never been terribly keen on the 'merchant campaign' either. Most of my SF games back in the day started with a few adventures for a party with no spaceship, and then sooner or later, the PCs would acquire one usually by stealing it, sometimes by working for someone who provided as part of the job. I don't think anyone ever took out a mortgage on one with the intention of actually making payments.
 

Dropkicker

Part Time Dilettante
Validated User
#47
I've never been terribly keen on the 'merchant campaign' either. Most of my SF games back in the day started with a few adventures for a party with no spaceship, and then sooner or later, the PCs would acquire one usually by stealing it, sometimes by working for someone who provided as part of the job. I don't think anyone ever took out a mortgage on one with the intention of actually making payments.
I always preferred the PCs as troubleshooters approach myself. Years ago I had one person interested in speculative trading but the rest of the group looked at him a little strangely. ;)
 

Adam Reynolds

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#48
I think that if you want to overlap with the Coast Guard, then one big thing to consider is that a lot of the rescue type stuff that was important (as opposed to anti drug smuggling operations) is because the sea has rather changeable conditions. People go out under-prepared on nice day, the weather shifts, and they they're in trouble. Space doesn't really seem like it's going to catch people out like that, and under more realistic models, rescue ships are almost always going to be too far out to do anything about a ship crippled by random micrometeorite impact or something. I mean, I guess Star Trek has all kinds of weird anomalies that can mess people up, but those are generally 'out there' as opposed to near settled and patroled areas that seem safe.
It would be more about rescuing those who do things like run out of propellant or are alive inside semi-crippled ships a la Apollo 13, or a case like Columbia in which the ship cannot land successfully because of damage(after that there was always a second shuttle in reserve). Ships that are fully dead will basically have dead crews. Certainly there is little point in an escape pod in most designs, unless it is solely in Earth orbit, and so rescue/salvage would have some utility.

There would also be a need to protect spaceports from vessels that have wound up off course, whether by accident/stupidity or by malice. Unprepared spacers could still occur in something like orbital space, but even though the regulations involved would almost certainly be even more demanding than aircraft, there are plenty of unprepared pilots who crash. You don't quite find the same problems as with weekend sailors or hikers, but it isn't that different, and plenty of rescue resources are devoted to them. Or perhaps a better example is something like the US Air Force's pararescue teams, in which they are not rescuing idiots as much as they are rescuing generally skilled people from impossible situations.
I would very much like to see a science fiction setting where the main characters are not members of a military or quasi-military organization, where they don't wear uniforms, have ranks, or call each other "sir" They should have a variety of jobs, and not have to always be saying things like "target their engines. Fire!" Since Star Wars, people have continued to focus on the "Wars" part. Because of this, sci-fi is so often focused on laser fights and big explosions in space. I think as soon as someone begins designing a science fiction RPG, they immediately start thinking about all the cool weapons this game will have. This a problem. A story can be interesting and fun even if it isn't about a war.
I was more thinking about the sorts of conflicts that lead to wars, but without the actual wars themselves. Instead you are left with a mix of covert action and diplomacy to attempt to get what you want. Ideally you could skip the covert action piece, and merely rely on negotiation and settlement, but that seems even less likely than merely getting rid of wars. Adventures involving spies are also just plain fun and don't involve nearly as much death and destruction, though there is the question of whether or not they are actually effective in the first place. With an example like Stuxnet, did it really have an impact on the Iranian nuclear program? Was it worth the cost even if it did?

Though I do agree that it would be nice to have more diversity of roles within stories. There really aren't enough characters in settings like this that don't use violence at all and are still extremely successful. Considering just how diverse real life stories can be in this respect, it is somewhat odd that so much of science fiction has a military focus.
I've never been terribly keen on the 'merchant campaign' either. Most of my SF games back in the day started with a few adventures for a party with no spaceship, and then sooner or later, the PCs would acquire one usually by stealing it, sometimes by working for someone who provided as part of the job. I don't think anyone ever took out a mortgage on one with the intention of actually making payments.
The real problem for me is that in the overwhelming majority of systems you wind up doing accounting most of the time, which is certainly not something I like doing for fun. I think the best solution to the spaceship problem is to have a patron of some kind(which is actually a possible rule in GURPS, oddly enough).
 

Amberpup

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#49
I always preferred the PCs as troubleshooters approach myself. Years ago I had one person interested in speculative trading but the rest of the group looked at him a little strangely. ;)
I played a campaign of Traveller back in 1990s, where I was that guy. Keep the books on our cargo runs, found the troublershooter missions to go on (usually profitable cargo runs lined-up with planets that had missions on - odd that ;)). I even started the crew on expense accounts (to control their stupid spending while I was trying to beef-up the ship), then added a number of other PC friendly investments so I could use the cash in my varies crooked schemes.

But I had to change jobs, and give-up my account book to the GM. Luckily I didn't stop by till months later, them being a bit annoyed at me once they learned the amount of money I hid from them.
 

LordofArcana

Registered User
Validated User
#50
I was more thinking about the sorts of conflicts that lead to wars, but without the actual wars themselves. Instead you are left with a mix of covert action and diplomacy to attempt to get what you want. Ideally you could skip the covert action piece, and merely rely on negotiation and settlement, but that seems even less likely than merely getting rid of wars. Adventures involving spies are also just plain fun and don't involve nearly as much death and destruction, though there is the question of whether or not they are actually effective in the first place. With an example like Stuxnet, did it really have an impact on the Iranian nuclear program? Was it worth the cost even if it did?
Even if the espionage isn't very effective at resolving conflict by itself, the information that spies find out would be invaluable for foreign policy.
 
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