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Finding a Sci Fi pen and paper game that's right for me.

NimoyNimoy Registered User regular
edited June 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
My friends and I have been playing D&D 3, 3.5 and Pathfinder for years now with a few forays into other systems with no lasting results. Now we're at a crossroads in our weekly games and there is an outcry among my friends for me to run a Sci Fi campaign in order to get away from swords and sorcery. I've played in Shadowrun games before but I'd prefer something without magic. I'm still very much interested in the hacking and technology of the setting though.

I've become enamored with the Savage Worlds rule set and would love to try it but I'm completely stumped when it comes to setting. The couple of published sci fi settings I've seen for Savage Worlds all seem to be a Pulp style which isn't doing it for me.

Ideally I would love to play in anything resembling a sort of gritty near future with limited space travel. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Nimoy on

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    Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    You could just play Shadowrun without Magic. The rules work well without any Magic in them at all. If the temptation is too great, though (understandably so), you can go for Cyberpunk 2020 (which is basically Shadowrun without Magic and with rigid classes). The most current version is called Cyberpunk V.3 and uses the Fuzion system. I think there's a Savage Worlds setting with a cyberpunk theme called Interface Zero.

    I wouldn't discount space travel settings, as there are a lot of great transhumanism (what cyberpunk becomes when it grows up and gets out of the 80s) settings out there, like Eclipse Phase.

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    kaortikaorti Registered User regular
    Yeah, Eclipse Phase has a really great setting if you're fine with in-system spaceflight but no FTL. If you want to try out a more rules-light system, Diaspora is a fun sci-fi system based around FATE. The default game assumes that spaceships have FTL based around specific points in a system, but things could be easily hadwaved into a firefly-like setting with a lot of planets and colonized moons. Setting creation in Disaspora is a game in itself, and it's a great way to get player input on making some really cool settings.

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    PlatyPlaty Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    You could check out GURPS and its various settings and supplements (there's also a book detailing the setting of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, if you know that game). What I'd maybe do in your situation would be to run a campaign based on Philip K. Dick books with GURPS rules.

    Platy on
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    syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    As a rules system I cannot recommend Alternity enough.

    You can get the books dirt cheap from Amazon, and the rules allow you to run anything from the dark ages all the way up to crazy ships made out of energy fairly elegantly.

    I am running a tabletop modern day game using the rules right now, and its a blast.

    there are rules for psionics end even magic, but they are very, VERY optional and are easy to remove from your use of the game. Lots of settings don't even use the FX rules.

    Take a peek and see what you think.

    SW-4158-3990-6116
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    DehumanizedDehumanized Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    If you are interested in something with a significantly different feel (to go with the different setting) from D&D, try Paranoia.

    Here's a review of the Paranoia XP book (which has since been replaced by Paranoia: Troubleshooters as the base rulebook, iirc): http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/10/10725.phtml

    The setting is unique and extremely fun, the rules are workable (and mostly to be ignored -- if a player cites a rule during the game it is punishable by death), and it will surely play out totally different from the games you've run before.

    Dehumanized on
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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited June 2012
    Esh on
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    The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    Do you just want a high-adventure game with lasers & stuff, or are you more interested in a high concept sci-fi experience?

    With Love and Courage
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    RadicalTurnipRadicalTurnip Registered User regular
    I know you said "Sci-Fi", and this isn't exactly non-fantasy, but have you ever checked out any of the Vampire series? (Like Vampire: The Masquerade or Vampire: The Requiem). I've honestly only played two sessions into it, but I loved them. I mean, Its weird playing in *our* world. You realize how much more complex a real world is compared to even a good game world: it allows a lot of lateral thinking. Like my Pop-star vampire had an agent. And a Cell phone. It's amazing what you can do with instant communication and a little renown.

    Anyway, you could always look into D20 modern or D20 future. I haven't played those, but isn't there magic? And they're very akin to the system you're used to.

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    Rhesus PositiveRhesus Positive GNU Terry Pratchett Registered User regular
    Dark Heresy is a WH40k RPG where you play low-level Inquisitors. It can be run as a fairly low-magic (or Psychic powers in this case) setting, with fun combat and a lot of possibilities for scenarios.

    [Muffled sounds of gorilla violence]
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    Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    I know you said "Sci-Fi", and this isn't exactly non-fantasy, but have you ever checked out any of the Vampire series? (Like Vampire: The Masquerade or Vampire: The Requiem). I've honestly only played two sessions into it, but I loved them. I mean, Its weird playing in *our* world. You realize how much more complex a real world is compared to even a good game world: it allows a lot of lateral thinking. Like my Pop-star vampire had an agent. And a Cell phone. It's amazing what you can do with instant communication and a little renown.
    That's more of a modern fantasy sub-genre. A bit more stigmatized nowadays, due to Twilight and whatnot. :D

    While he's talking more of a cyberpunk game ("gritty near future with limited space travel"), modern fantasy games tend to have similar gameplay to cyberpunk games, mostly because of the modern setting (OMG, I can talk across the AIR using this handset device!) and emphasis on abstract entities (conspiracies, corporations, conspiracy corporations, corporate conspiracies) pulling the strings, rather than mystical entities (spirits, cults, occult). There are quite a few modern fantasy games out there, if he is interested.

    I forgot to mention the old warhorse of post-apocalyptic near-future games, Rifts. It's terrible and awesome at the same time, like other Palladium games. Another take on post-apocalyptic is another Palladium After the Bomb, where you play as furr... mutant animals (based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle universe). It's actually a lot of fun, once you break past the anthropomorphic animals part. Also, Gamma World. But that's all post-apoc stuff.

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    liquiddarkliquiddark Odd magpie St. John's, NLRegistered User regular
    The new Gamma World doesn't fit the description, exactly, but it is very simple and a lot of fun to play, particularly if you've got guys who have a sense of humor about the game.

    Also, +1 for Rifts, though again it doesn't fit the bill that well. Everyone should play at least one game of Rifts. It is the most delicious setting.

    Current project: Contension, a realtime tactics game for mobile
    @oldmanhero .programming .web comic .everything
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    grouch993grouch993 Both a man and a numberRegistered User regular
    My wife and friends always seemed to enjoy their Traveler sessions, old GDW game.

    Paranoia is extremely fun, have to be glib to survive.

    I used to enjoy battletech/mechwarrior.

    Steam Profile Origin grouchiy
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    RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    syndalis wrote: »
    As a rules system I cannot recommend Alternity enough.

    You can get the books dirt cheap from Amazon, and the rules allow you to run anything from the dark ages all the way up to crazy ships made out of energy fairly elegantly.

    I am running a tabletop modern day game using the rules right now, and its a blast.

    there are rules for psionics end even magic, but they are very, VERY optional and are easy to remove from your use of the game. Lots of settings don't even use the FX rules.

    Take a peek and see what you think.

    hehe, I was justa bout to recomend Alternity as well.

    Attacked by tweeeeeeees!
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    KiasKias Registered User regular
    Nimoy wrote:
    I've become enamored with the Savage Worlds rule set and would love to try it but I'm completely stumped when it comes to setting. The couple of published sci fi settings I've seen for Savage Worlds all seem to be a Pulp style which isn't doing it for me.

    Ideally I would love to play in anything resembling a sort of gritty near future with limited space travel. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

    Savage worlds is an absolutely amazing system that really fits whichever setting you want. Its a big part of why it stuck so well with my gaming group over the last three years as we have done everything from fantasy, steampunk, super villains, modern zombies, and cyberpunk through savage worlds. Several setting certainly lean in the Pulp direction, but there is a lot of grittier setting mixed in there assuming your group doesn't mind losing a character or two if they start acting like they are playing D&D (or more if its Dead Lands).

    That said, as far as pre-packaged plot points go, science fiction is sort of one of the company's weak points. I would recommend Interface Zero if cyber-punk fits the bill for you. Daring Tales of the sprawl is also fun, but it doesn't give the players as much freedom as most RPG settings and can lean more to the pulpy side. Necropolis is another option, seems like a grittier, more 40k-esque setting, though I have not personally played that one.

    The real strength of Savage Worlds is how flexible the system is. For example, if you check in the savage-pedia, you will find many systems and setting have been converted to work with the savage worlds rules. Star Wars, Star Trek and a few other sci fi options are on that list. There also appears to be a sci-fi toolkit for creating a savage setting, though once again, I have not looked through it personally. If you have a setting you like and don't mind putting some time in to the creative side of world building, it's really simple to make the rules fit with whichever setting you want.

    Another plus is that the forums for Pinnacle (company behind SW) are generally a really good place with a solid, stable community and the people who make the games/rules frequently post and respond to any questions. I found a stupid amount of good content and advice for getting my Modern Zombies (War of the Dead) game rolling, which has been a great break from the more pulpy settings.

    Hope this helps!

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    davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    I found Technoir on Kickstarter a while back. I've only played a little bit, but if I had a better core group of people to play with more frequently, I think it would be way awesome. There are all sorts of other similar ideas going along with it, such as Westernnoir or Steamnoir or Spacenoir. But the standard Technoir is what you're looking for I think.

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    NimoyNimoy Registered User regular
    Cool! Thanks everyone. I'm going to have to spend a night looking all these games up.

    The Savage Worlds Sci Fi toolkit is looking good. I may try my hand at creating my own setting but my ambition often far outstretches my reach and my friends delight in poking holes into anything I try to come up with.

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    InvictusInvictus Registered User regular
    Rogue Trader is set in the same universe (WH40K) as Dark Heresy, but it's a little more open-ended and big-picture, with the PCs being more significant players in the world. I like it a ton, even if the system is not great, really.

    Generalísimo de Fuerzas Armadas de la República Argentina
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    Rhesus PositiveRhesus Positive GNU Terry Pratchett Registered User regular
    Rogue Trader's issue when compared with Dark Heresy is that a mid-level player is powerful enough to basically not have to roll to do their chosen activity. I was getting something like +60 on rolls for using technology by the end, for example. It made it quite hard for our GM to write challenging encounters without using bad guys who could outright kill us in one hit.

    On the plus side: spaceship battles.

    [Muffled sounds of gorilla violence]
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