Sunday, January 2, 2011

Space Race

Three "science fiction" (AKA Outer Space Adventures, AKA Aliens & Astronauts, AKA Spaceships & Blasters) role-playing games based on old school D&D systems.

Are these the new fantasy heartbreakers?

I have to say I'm kind of with Adam of Barking Alien regarding these new games. They are all impressive works, but none of them...mmm..."do it" for me.

But maybe that's just because I'm working on my own game with a similar idea. The "similar" part is starting with a D&D chassis to make a space opera-esque game.

But that's where it ends.

For one thing...hmmm...I thought I'd already blogged about this, but maybe I didn't post that essay.

Let me compose my thoughts a bit. To be continued!


  1. So many games, but it does seem fair to ask how much they really differ. I've also started to think the only way forward is to roll up the sleeves and get to work on a new and unusual model. I look forward to seeing what you have in mind.

  2. For me, an attractive feature would be interplayability. I never played GURPS, but the idea of being able to move the same character seamlessly from one milieu to another makes a lot of sense to me. Do we need a separate set of rules for a scifi game, or can we just use D&D rules with additional races, classes, and technologies?

  3. TSR and SSI teamed up to make a bunch of CRPGs fashioned after the Buck Rogers franchise. Have you ever checked those out?

  4. Of the three Stars Without Number comes the closest to what I've been looking for in a retro sci fi RPG. I'd be curious to hear more about what your "working" on.

  5. Count me in on the Space Race. I'm developing a pulp sci fi setting based on the star-faring ancients of Tékumel. I'm still up in the air about the system but it will be Old School, possibly based on 1975 EPT.

    Clearly, as it is Tékumel based it will have to be released as a freely available fan project.

    I'm also looking for help getting it finished before the world ends in 2012...

  6. Here, I found this link.

    You can download the manual in txt format. The basic ideas are there and it uses the B/X D&D rules. Really, it's D&D in space.

  7. Are you planning on making starship combat a big part of the game? I'm interested in seeing how you integrate character actions within a single ship or squadron with a larger space battle.

    Oh, and congrats on the Seahawks win!

  8. In truth, when I wrote Stars Without Number, the mechanical aspects of the game were the trivial part. A retroclone is a retroclone, and renaming the saving throw categories and using target-20 combat rolls that can be converted into THAC0 with one subtraction operation does not exactly require brilliant design chops. Even the skill system didn't require anything more than checking the scaling against a 2d6 bell curve. I used an old-school base for SWN simply because it was a proven system model that could neatly interlock with existing OSR games with minimal tweaking. Going d20 would've required more infrastructure work before I could get to the parts that interested me.

    And what interested me wasn't the mechanics of Yet Another Retroclone, but making sandbox sci-fi games manageable for the GM. A lot of people love to talk about the joys of sandboxing and emergent stories and all that, but how exactly does a GM handle that in settings where he can't even be sure what planet the PCs are going to be on two sessions from now? What tools can I give a GM that will let them support the idea of starfaring adventurers rambling around a half-mapped sector, doing things that actually have visible, long-term consequences? I think that questions like that, that don't rely on essentially trivial points of mechanical difference, are the ones likely to earn a new OSR game some interest.

  9. @ Sine Nomine: I totally grok where you're coming from on the challenge of designing a SciFi game with tools for the GM to create adventures. This is the subject of a (hopefully, short) series of posts. It's something I've been wrestling with myself for a loooong time now!