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What’s Your Ideal Sci-Fi RPG

flump

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Diaspora, and it's not even close. I've tried all sorts of games over the years, but nothing else has the flexibility and sense of wonder for me.

Weirdly enough, it's still not perfect for me. I have to drift it into soft SF with comfortable spaceships and anti-gravity, rather than the hard SF it's written for, and I have to handwave a lot of the tech levels in general, as well as ship to ship combat.

My dream game would probably be:
a softer version of Diaspora with higher tech included​
starting with the genre creation document from Mortal Coil​
then doing the Diaspora cluster generation​
long-term play including the faction turns of SWN​
all done in Fate Accellerated.​

... but I can close that gap myself. Diaspora gets me close enough to what I want that it's a moot point.


The reasons Diaspora is by far the best science fiction rpg I've seen, are:

a) The cluster generation system is a thing of beauty, which gets the whole table interested in the universe.

b) Even though it's a really soft system, Fate turns out to be just lovely for even fairly hard science fiction. I've tried harder things like Traveller, and it might emulate a lot of careful OSR-style play, but our table wants to be big damn heroes with protection against random death or ineptness.

c) Fate aspects let us tell character-based stories rather than tech based ones.

d) The idea that each character has a peak skill which the player is allowed to be authoritative about works brilliantly in play and, as GM, I love being surprised by something rather than coming to the table knowing it all already.

e) Diaspora doesn't have a setting! Or at least, can easily divest itself of even the minimal setting information that's provided. In the end, this is such an important feature - I can't believe how many science fiction rpgs are written so that you end up playing in someone else's universe. Or at least, I don't understand why I'd want that. For our group, the point is to generate our own universe and play in a fiction of our own generation!

f) It all works great when run as a sandbox. After a bit of a setup, the players generate the plot and I just turn up to see what they do each week!
 
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Anfelas

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Traveller.
No levels.
Lifepath or start as an 18 year old and see what happens (Traveller does have experience rules)
Technology at a wide range of TLs that I can tailor for the game I am running.
A resolution system that can be as simple or as detailed as I want it to be.
Options, lots and lots of options - taken from the various editions or even borrowed from other games.. but at its core, Traveller.
 
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Anfelas

Registered User
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I'm (obviously) a big fan of the original Traveller rules. But I started reading Diaspora -- built by people who love Traveller using the Fate rules... and so far I'm loving what I'm seeing. It might be perfect for my group and what I want to play with my group. We'll see!
Have you seen the FATE Space rules?
They fill in some of the gaps Diaspora leaves.
 

DeathbyDoughnut

a.k.a. Mr. Meat Popcicle
Validated User
I am going to toss my dice in the Black Hat for Fate as well. Diaspora is a beautifully written setting, Bulldogs! is soft scifi fun (seriously, imagine Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy but as a teddy bear; there is a whole race of them!), the Scfi Companion book is excellent.

I've run Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, plus a few homebrew settings in Fate, and consistently the structure of Fate really emphasizes the character centricity that good scifi is known for. I've played a bunch of other dedicated scifi systems and typically it devolves into gear porn which I find boring. I also like the structure trappings of Fate to tell scifi stories. I'm not interested din hard scifi I don't care to calculate how long it takes a Corellian cruiser to jump from one system to another. The storytelling way time is used in Fate helps tell the story where one scene the crew jumps in to warp and has some character interaction moments, then the next scene they are at their destination.

Not to mention the Fate fractal and how helpful it is to be able to extrapolate things out into characters. When I ran Star Trek, I used the Fate fractal to represent ships, I used Fate Accelerated approaches, renamed them into the ship departments, and then ran any ship as a character if I needed to abstract the scene out that far, especially for scenes like ship to ship combat, or racing to a destination.

Fate is an excellent system for character focused storytelling and narrative, which is what I think scifi is all about.
 

seanairt

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Validated User
I agree that Bulldogs! for Fate is all kinds of awesome. If Fate is at all your jam, that's worth a look.

But, that said, the game described in the OP - for me, that's Traveller. It does that. It does it well. You'll find a lot of people online who'll tell you otherwise. Those people are either utterly without a clue, or lack imagination. I'm not sure which. I use it for everything but my Sword and Sorcery gaming. If I played high fantasy, I'd probably also find something else that. But for anything from modern to space opera to planetary romance (aka science fantasy), whether relatively grounded or high on the swashbuckling and derring-do. That's Traveller.
 

CK!

Creator of Things
Validated User
Sometime this year we might be able to offer a playtest package for a second edition!
I've heard rumor of this!
a) how does one get on the list for playtesters?
b) is there any place you discuss the changes you'll be making (aka: "You won't be fucking it up, will you?")
 
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Derrick Kapchinsky

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My current preferred flavour of sci-fi is pretty Guardians-esque, and Bulldogs! hits that more closely than anything else I can think of. So that's what I'd go with at the moment.

Edit: Unless I just want to play a straight up Guardians game. Then I'd go with Marvel Heroic.
 

seanairt

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The cluster generation system is a thing of beauty, which gets the whole table interested in the universe.
That was easily Diaspora's killer feature for me. I've toyed with various ideas of porting it into Traveller and replacing subsector generation, but never got it to the table.
 

Soylent Green

Polar Blues
Validated User
I tend to fall back on WEG Star Wars for space opera style sci-fi. I'm not that big a Star Wars fan* but I do appreciate the combination of a setting that everyone knows and rules that pretty much explain themselves. I mean if I am running the new "Sci-Fi Game X" I can find myself having to spend a good chuck of the first session explaining background of the Xrogphorian invasion Galactic Compact and the locations of the different Warp Portals... or we could jump straight in and start shooting Stormtroopers.

I also like Bulldogs! setting alot, though I am less fond of the default delivery boy premise.

* It is fair to say that my different Star Wars games over the years have been singularly non-Star Warsy in tone, ranging from film "Noir Star Wars" to "Spanish Civil War Star Wars" all the way to "Lego Star Wars".
 
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