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Posted (edited)

So I hear Paizo's got this new game, Starfinder, up and coming. And I am not sure what to think. 

Pathfinder filled a need; I tried 4th Edition D&D, and did not much care for the radical changes after several years of 3.5. Pathfinder was just an extension of the d20 system, and worked well as a generic fantasy game ... that, as splatbook after splatbook and so forth, grew steadily less generic. Still a fine game, although it begins to show signs of splatcreak*, as the sheer amount of rules pile up.

Makes sense they'd want to expand their base of gaming; a one-game company is vulnerable to changes in the market, and D&D has finally gotten its head on straight. Time to seek out new life and civilizations... if only to stay competitive. 

But I dunno.

First science fiction RPG I ever played was Traveller, which did an amazing job of distilling the basics down to three little booklets in a box, which seems to be how things were done, then. We had combat, we had spaceships, we had computers, find a ship, find a crew, find a job, keep flying. It worked. (I will not discuss Gamma World or Metamorphosis Alpha; while I enjoyed 'em, these were more postapocalyptic and less space opera, and this is hard enough to keep on track as it is).

Another game, Space Opera, was interesting and fun, although waaaay too in love with its rulesset; as I recall, you could burn a whole gaming session just creating a character. Which I guess was a little better than Traveller, where you could accidentally get killed before your character entered PLAY, but Space Opera's extra crunchy rules were a bit much, even for the times.

I enjoyed Star Frontiers, once TSR finally got off their duffs and designed a neat space opera setting, although I took it kinda personally that they did not include a starship design or purchase system, or for that matter much of any information about space travel other than "buy a ticket." What, Traveller could do it, but you can't? They were up front enough, though, about the fact that they'd be out with a separate boxed set that would include the starship rules... eventually. And they did. 

Aaaand that's where we take a sharp left, because Star Frontiers was the last generic science fiction space opera I ever played.

 

FASA quickly came out with a licensed Star Trek game, set during the TOS era, because that's all we had back then; Next Generation was still years away. Still remember the one adventure we played as Klingon officers, who wound up blowing up the ship due to a complex web of backstabbery... but I digress. Not long after that, they also came out with a licensed Doctor Who game, which preoccupied us for a while, as there were a hell of a lot of VHS tapes to track down to keep up with the setting! It did have the advantage of spreading across all TIME, as well as space... although we took a break when West End Games's Star Wars came out, because to a nerd-child of the seventies, the history of mankind breaks down into pre-SW and post-SW. After all, you never saw any Planet Of The Apes RPGs, did you? Hell, I still have a copy of Leading Edge's Aliens RPG around here somewhere; it was fun, albeit rather sketchy, as it was based entirely on the two movies in the Alien franchise as of 1988... had plenty of information about Weyland-Yutani, the Space Marines, the Aliens... and nearly nothing else...

 

Which brings us to now. As I said above, Pathfinder filled a need.

But there are a great many licensed science fiction games now. Firefly is still going strong. A new Star Wars game still circulates, albeit unsupported due to licensing. A new Star Trek game is in the works, assuming its maker ever gets it out of playtesting, and the current Doctor Who game still seems to be selling.

Is there a place now for a generic science fiction setting? Will it appeal to people who've never tried Pathfinder? Or does the current market favor established licensed science fiction settings where one can watch a movie or three and get an idea INSTANTLY about the world and how it works?

Opinions? Ideas? Rants?

Edited by Dr.Bedlam

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Is star finder generic scifi? The folks in my gaming group who were eyeing it saw it as spell jammer with a thin layer of starwars/mass effect paint on top.

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Is it? Spelljammer was flat out D&D in space; NO technobabble, all magic, wanna put your paladin in orbit? No problem!

I was under the impression that Starfinder was more of a science fiction setting than a mere extension of Pathfinder.

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17 minutes ago, Dr.Bedlam said:

Is it? Spelljammer was flat out D&D in space; NO technobabble, all magic, wanna put your paladin in orbit? No problem!

I was under the impression that Starfinder was more of a science fiction setting than a mere extension of Pathfinder.

it is pathfinder in the future of their setting, so there is still technobabble, but the prime movers of the metaplot are the gods, and there are still wizards running around doing wizard stuff.

 

so I guess it is more scifi than spell jammer was, but it's still d&d in space.

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I've spent some time lately with a few sci-fi RPGs.  Mongoose Traveller is still fantastic (avoid the newer reboot.)  Savage Worlds is my go-to for a generic setting, or if I want to run something customized to my needs.  Bulldogs is also fantastic.  Generic sci-fi?  Absolutely.  I love it and it is out there.

I will say, though, that I'm no longer really in the market for a Pathfinder style rules-heavy crunch fest game.  I've got teenaged kids, I've got responsibilities, and it is harder and harder to get a group of adults with similar commitments together to play at all, let alone often enough to justify the time that is required to prep and play a rules heavy system. 

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1 hour ago, Werkrobotwerk said:

it is pathfinder in the future of their setting, so there is still technobabble, but the prime movers of the metaplot are the gods, and there are still wizards running around doing wizard stuff.

 

so I guess it is more scifi than spell jammer was, but it's still d&d in space.


Yeah... been reading up... apparently, you can still access magic in the setting. Which tends to be kind of a dealbreaker for me; I'm not one to mix my chocolate and peanut butter, so to speak...

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Just now, Dr.Bedlam said:


Yeah... been reading up... apparently, you can still access magic in the setting. Which tends to be kind of a dealbreaker for me; I'm not one to mix my chocolate and peanut butter, so to speak...

Not even sure if there's chocolate there, just peanut butter cleverly disguised as chocolate. The FTL drives rely on tearing apart chunks of magical realms and dumping them permanently into the realm of the the robot god. This is just magic painted up as scifi.

 

Which is fine if you're going into it knowing it's fantasy.

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1 hour ago, Werkrobotwerk said:

Not even sure if there's chocolate there, just peanut butter cleverly disguised as chocolate. The FTL drives rely on tearing apart chunks of magical realms and dumping them permanently into the realm of the the robot god. This is just magic painted up as scifi.

 

Which is fine if you're going into it knowing it's fantasy.

 

Yeah, well, call me irrational... hell, I AM irrational... but I was never wild about Shadowrun, where wizards and trolls double as hackers and street samurai, for all that Star Wars is about space wizards from the future's past. 

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Posted (edited)

My understanding is that it is being badged as Science fantasy, and Paizo is quoted as wanting it to be to Sci fi what Shadowrun was to Cyberpunk.

 

If you wanting pure Sci Fi, I agree, this probably isn't for you.  I personally am excited for it.

 

basically, what happens to a world with Magic available after a few millennia, you still have magic, but you have technology as well.

 

Edited by Sanwah

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I wanted to be excited for it. Now I think I'll just wait and see.

Still, new science fiction miniatures. That's something.

 

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As for miniatures, I am still hopeful for non-prepainted character figures from Reaper, though, I am less worried about starships. 

 

I am interested to see how the starship combat plays out.

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I can't remember where I heard this, but sci-fi games were generally intellectual properties because the "stuff" in them was usually created by someone specific, as opposed to fantasy games that could rely on fairy tales and mythological critters.  That is, Vulcans were part of Star Trek, while elves are creatures that have a long history in Norse/Celtic lore. 

 

As for me, I try to stay away from Star Wars games because most gamers are familiar with the movies.  We know how they end, so there isn't as much of an opportunity for us to create our own stories.  I am not a huge fan of Star Trek, so playing a game in that universe doesn't excite me.  I did enjoy the Serenity/Firefly universe, but again, I'd rather not play games based on television episodes I've already seen.

 

I'm partial to Stars Without Number by Sine Nomine.  The core rules are free; it's based on the system you probably already have played. There are supplements that let the game become more Gamma-World-ish or large-scale Naval campaigns, or on running a Merchant ship.  I actually use some of the stuff as part of my version of "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" (that is, characters investigating a crashed space ship inhabited with strange aliens and weird technology).

 

There's also White Star by Barrel Rider Games, which runs off the Swords & Wizardry White Box rules.  Simple, easy to pick up, cheap (that is, free).  The default game has "star knights" which warrior mystics with laser swords, totally not something else that's IP protected.  But the game is what the GM and players make it. 

 

I'm sure Starfinder will be successful.  Whether it's hard sci-fi or a Spelljammer-like universe, there's probably enough demand for the material.  I'm pretty much out of buying new RPGs, though, and prefer rules-light stuff, so obviously I'm not the target market. 

 

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What's the default setting for science fiction?  Fantasy has the default setting of Tolkien-esque elves & dwarves, and Arthurian legend humans, with a dash of pulp literature thrown in, and has had 40 years of feeding ideas from and providing fodder for the popular fantasy literature -- it's pretty tropey nowadays.  If I were to guess, the default setting for science fiction is space opera, and Star Wars/Star Trek has pretty much crowded out all other contenders for the public's mental space in that setting.

 

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While far from generic there is Rifts, but that's more "We're going to throw everything we think is cool into one game" than anything else.  And it's from Palladium, so that's a mark against them for most folks.

 

AFAIK GURPS with their sci-fi splat books are still available, and probably in digital form as well.

 

There seem to be a couple Open D6 sci-fi RPS Kickstarter projects also.

 

A quick look on the Google-o-matic turned this one up http://geekandsundry.com/want-something-different-than-dd-check-out-the-worlds-n-e-w-est-sci-fi-rpg/

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My journey through sci-fi RPGs has been a little different. I started with WEG's Star Wars in high school, played Alternity in college, tried and failed to get my gamers to play some Star Trek. More recently I've returned to Star Wars, and have gotten to try out Traveller (which I liked a lot) and the newest version of Star Wars. But as far as anything else? I can't say StarFinder fills any need for me, and I don't see myself picking it up.

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