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Carolus
2017-10-03, 05:22 PM
I'm hoping the combined knowledge of the playground can help me with this.:smallsmile:
Long story short, I'm looking for a good science fiction table top rpg system.

Short story long: my rpg experience has mostly been limited to D&D (3.5 and 5e; which I both like although I strongly prefer 3.5) and I'm looking for something different. I would really like to play a science fiction game and I've been looking around for a system to use. I am however a bit overwhelmed by the amount of different rpg systems that exist and could use some advice on which ones would suite me. Any help would be really appreciated.
Ideally I would like a system with the following characteristics:
-No or absolutely minimal magic or magic equivalent (such as psionics, biotics, or however it is called). This might be my strongest preference. I don't want magic or something like it to be an important aspect for the players. Something like the Force in star wars which is limited to only a couple of individuals in the galaxy and likely unavailable to the players is okay, though not my first wish.
-No mecha. I find the idea of giant fighting robots just silly and way to much like anime for my taste.
-No time travel, alternate dimensions, parallel universes, etc. It's never pretty. And it delves to much into fantasy territory for my taste.
-I don't mind some genetic engineering/mutations, as long as it's not over the top. Slightly accelerated healing: yes. An invisible force throwing people into a wall: no.
-I kind of like the concept of classes and levels, something like that would be nice.
-Exploration options. I like the idea of flying around space finding new planets etc.
-Includes some form of Faster Than Light travel. Although FTL also tends to veer into the fantasy area, it's sort of necessary to allow a universe of even slightly realistic scale. Without FTL you'd basically be restricted to one solar system.
-Includes different allien species; either as opponents or character options.
-Allows for both ground based action as actions between space ships.
-It would be nice if there is some sort of free SRD like document all players can read.
-Not setting specific would be nice, but is by no means necessary
-I don't mind if the rules are a bit complex; I prefer that over a "it's all up to the GM" vibe.
-If there are a few published adventures to get started that would be great

Of course these are mostly preferences, but the first point is important for me. A setting in which something like psionics is really important or overly present feels to much like fantasy for me. Although nice in D&D, I don't want that in my scifi.
Basically I'm looking for something with the mixed feeling of Firefly, Star Wars and Mass effect (without the biotics part).

I've looked at D20 future, but it seems a bit... lackluster. Anyone here have some experience with that sytem? Is it any good?
The GURPS lite rules make GURPS seem like a nice option, but it also looks like GURPS requires a lot more work of the GM than your average game, requiring you to basically build everything from the ground up.
I've read about the traveller system and that one also seems promising, but I haven't found the actual system itself yet. Does anyone know if that one is worth pursuing?

I would be gratefull for any help you guys could offer. The sheer amount of options makes it rather hard to find the one best suited for me. I feel like finding a needle in a haystack.

CharonsHelper
2017-10-03, 05:30 PM
If psychics being rare (and having a decent in-universe reason) are okay and small mecha are too (2-4 meters as I don't like the big ones, but small ones can make sense if they hook into the nervous system to improve reflexes etc.), then I would *SHAMELESS PLUG* recommend my system Space Dogs. (still a WIP)

Space Dogs is a near-future space western in which humans are recruited by the builders to be their military and enforcers, because humans are the badasses of the galaxy.

Space Dogs (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/y1ew2wf5u1m7kc3/AAD_q3oS1xcdAI_-F2mKmmkya?dl=0)

2D8HP
2017-10-03, 05:37 PM
The 1977 rules of Traveller may just be the game that I've played most (it's weird I remember the rules of D&D better, but the adventures of Traveller better), anyway I think that there's a new version out (I think Anonymous Wizard knows it well), and I don't think it's far different from the version I knew which fits your criteria.

Knaight
2017-10-03, 05:58 PM
Traveller is pretty hard to track down these days - however, Cepheus Engine is basically a free Traveller SRD in .pdf form, and pretty easy to find. If you're good for heavier Fate implementations there's also Diaspora, and Stars Without Number fits your class and level preference. Cyberpunk V3 might also be worth looking into.

Then there's the usual slate of generics (GURPS, Fudge, Cortex, Savage Worlds, HERO, etc.), with special mention of d6 Open as d6 Space is one of the core areas of focus.

Grod_The_Giant
2017-10-03, 06:28 PM
The newest edition of Traveller (http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/rpgs/traveller-1.html) seems pretty easy to find. I've got a buddy who adores the system; it certainly fits the "fly around exploring and trading and being Firefly" bit. And from that page, it looks like there are pre-made adventures.

Rogue Trader might or might not work; I've heard many good things, though I dunno how easy it would be to rip the psychic stuff out of the setting.

Star Wars Saga Edition is pretty decent; you could easily ignore the Force part. It sticks pretty close to the D&D framework, so it should be nicely familiar.

Bakkan
2017-10-03, 06:53 PM
Since you mention Firefly, I'll point out that there is indeed an RPG called Serenity set in that universe. The core rulebook needs more editing, but I found it captured the feel of the show decently well.

Knaight
2017-10-03, 06:55 PM
Since you mention Firefly, I'll point out that there is indeed an RPG called Serenity set in that universe. The core rulebook needs more editing, but I found it captured the feel of the show decently well.

It's also obsolete - there's a "Firefly" now in a more up to date version of the core system.

Mark Hall
2017-10-03, 07:58 PM
d6 Space is free, has an option to use psionics-like Force but it is not necessary. It's compatible with a lot of prepublished stuff from Star Wars, and there's some good sized community support for it. It is not a class and level system, however.

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/20447/D6-Space?it=1

Aliquid
2017-10-03, 08:44 PM
FATE is a good generic setting and genre neutral system. It also has a free SRD.

They have a variety of "Fate Worlds" supplements, some of which are space and sci-fi related.

https://www.evilhat.com/home/fate-worlds-and-adventures/

Carolus
2017-10-04, 04:34 AM
You guys are great, thank you. :)
I'll first try to track down the traveller system and check out the d6 space system, since reading from your comments those might fit me best. I'll keep an eye out for the others that were mentioned though.

Mutazoia
2017-10-04, 06:04 AM
I should throw in a plug for Star Frontiers, TSR's original Sci-Fi TTRPG, which has been kept alive by fans on the web. Despite it's age, it is still one of my favorite Sci-Fi RPGs. They (TSR) also did Buck Rodgers in the 25th century (semi-ftl but the whole setting takes place in our solar system, so lacks the exploration aspect you are looking for) and Alternity.

If you can locate them, the Ringworld and Dune RPG's are rather interesting to play.

We've already had mention of GURPS, Traveller, and Open D6.... hmmm.....there is also Albedo, if you don't mind playing anthropomorphic animals in space...Space 1889 (Victorian era with space travel) and an RPG based off of, and set in, the "Aliens" universe.

And, just for pure laughs, there is always "Teenagers from Outer Space".

Anonymouswizard
2017-10-04, 06:25 AM
I think that there's a new version out (I think Anonymous Wizard knows it well)

I know the old edition of the new version well, and have a good grasp of the new edition's vastly improved ship building system.

But yeah, off the top of my head:

-Traveller (includes Psi, but it's easy to rip out). 2300AD is also worth checking out.
-Many generics (GURPS, Fate, Savage Worlds).
-Rogue Trader (you need to work out a replacement for navigators, but atropaths and other psykers can be removed relatively easily).

Some others to look at:
-Eclipse Phase: here the cybernetics, bioengineering, and brain uploading has gone insane, but nothing to the walls of force level. It's high-level transhumanism though, and mostly within the solar system (unless you go through a Pandora Gate). On the plus side it's free.
-Transhuman Space: a GURPS setting that is essentially the low-transhuman version, it's solidly set within the solar system. On the plus side it's a rather well colonised solar system, with a partially terraformed mars, settled asteroid belt, and research and mining stations on other bodies.
-Mindjammer: available in both Fate and Traveller versions, it technically meets all bar your 'classes and levels' and 'not setting specific', although there's also a lack of aliens (but when we have transhuman characters who needs them, you can play a purple skinned uplifted squid).

Pleh
2017-10-04, 08:45 AM
Might help to specify that you're essentially asking for "hard sci fi" or at least several degrees harder than the science fantasy common to RPGs. Could save you a lot of words.

I don't have a wide range of experience with various game systems, but I'll second the vote for Star Wars Saga minus the Force bits. I find the gameplay to just run so smooth and elegant most of the time, and the mechanics are dry enough to fit in whatever fluff you want (part because everyone else is copying star wars anyway).

Plus, if/when you do want that one psionic monster to scare the players, the Force in a low Force universe is pretty scary.

hamlet
2017-10-04, 10:39 AM
Plug for the old version of Alternity here. Really decent system once you get over the learning curve (it can be a little tough to wrap your head around at first). Lots of optional stuff that you can just scratch off or not include at your whim.

Can't speak to the new version, haven't read it, yet.

Knaight
2017-10-04, 12:51 PM
I'd also add Jovian Chronicles to the list - I've heard good things about it, and while I haven't checked it out personally (I favor games at a particular range of light to medium, and I know enough about it to know that it's not in or even near that range) I have seen other Silhoette systems enough to be confident that they work okay. It's also pretty far on the hard science fiction end of things, without the likes of psychic powers or reactionless drives.

Max_Killjoy
2017-10-04, 03:20 PM
Not sure if it meets your criteria, but there's the Planet Mercenary RPG (see link in sig, goes to a post with much useful linkage).

ImNotTrevor
2017-10-04, 07:23 PM
Nobody mentioned Stars Without Number, which is easy enough to clip the psychics out of. (You just don't allow the class and ignore that fluff, of which there is little.)

Class-based, but the classes are mostly a framework. The skills and backgrounds you pick provide much more of what you actually DO.

Space ship combat is fairly straightforward after you've done it once or twice, and there are alien options as well. (They recommend having any player alien races amount to a +1 in one stat and a -1 in another.) Making a sector is fun, and exploration is risky and rewarding.

Also, there's a free edition with everything in it that you need to play.

tmjr6
2017-10-04, 09:40 PM
Paizo recently released Starfinder. It has a two magic-oriented classes, but they are not the primary focus and they can easily take a backdrop since technology is much more prevalent.

Lorsa
2017-10-05, 09:38 AM
Nobody mentioned Stars Without Number, which is easy enough to clip the psychics out of. (You just don't allow the class and ignore that fluff, of which there is little.)

Class-based, but the classes are mostly a framework. The skills and backgrounds you pick provide much more of what you actually DO.

Space ship combat is fairly straightforward after you've done it once or twice, and there are alien options as well. (They recommend having any player alien races amount to a +1 in one stat and a -1 in another.) Making a sector is fun, and exploration is risky and rewarding.

Also, there's a free edition with everything in it that you need to play.

I was just going to mention it, but seems like you got there first.

I think it is quite close to what the OP is asking for (minus the physics).

Anonymouswizard
2017-10-05, 10:17 AM
I was just going to mention it, but seems like you got there first.

I think it is quite close to what the OP is asking for (minus the physics).

Let's be honest, Stars Without Number doesn't have much in the way of physics. It replaces it all with psionics.

For something pulpy White Star might also be worth a try. It's really split between two (free in pdf) books, the first is the 'core book' (http://drivethrurpg.com/product/148169/White-Star-White-Box-Science-Fiction-Roleplaying-Swords--Wizardry?cPath=8545_24145) which essentially lets you recreate Star Wars, and the Companion (http://drivethrurpg.com/product/175521/White-Star-Companion-Swords--Wizardry) is where all the important character options live (Techies, the skill system, a lifepath backstory system, some additional equipment...). It's not hard (genre-wise or rules-wise), but with a bit of work you can get it recreating actual classic science fiction.

Plus the covers are nice. It's such a shame that they didn't admit their inspirations and market misleadingly. (Play classic science fiction! As long as you don't count Lensman, Star Trek, Foundation...) I'd love it if it was all in one rulebook rather than two, as it is I can deal with running from two books (and really need to buy the PoD versions).

Psyren
2017-10-05, 10:29 AM
Paizo recently released Starfinder. It has a two magic-oriented classes, but they are not the primary focus and they can easily take a backdrop since technology is much more prevalent.

The "magic" is also very open to refluffing. You can make it psionics, biotics, The Force, or whatever else you need, because it has no set components. It's generally noticeable by onlookers when you use it, but exactly what form that takes is left open.

As mentioned, you can of course remove it entirely and stick with just mundane and technology.

ngilop
2017-10-06, 07:15 PM
-No mecha. I find the idea of giant fighting robots just silly and way to much like anime for my taste.

DO you include Mechs in your definition of mecha?

never really ever imagined a Madcat, Puma, Annhilator, Kodiak, or any of the other Battletech stuff to be very anime-ish.

Knaight
2017-10-06, 11:07 PM
DO you include Mechs in your definition of mecha?

never really ever imagined a Madcat, Puma, Annhilator, Kodiak, or any of the other Battletech stuff to be very anime-ish.

There's some anime that uses that style as well, and the deep impracticality still holds.