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View Full Version : Looking for a good Sci-Fi tabletop RPG. Recommendations?



supergoji18
2017-10-26, 01:42 PM
After rewatching some old sci-fi movies and playing some space shooters, I now have a desire to play a tabletop sci-fi genre game. I have no idea which one to play though, so i'd like to hear some recommendations from the community.

Things that I am looking for in the RPG:

- something like Warframe's... warframes. I saw some gameplay of the game from a friend of mine and I was very interested in the Tenno and their Warframes. So I was hoping there was an RPG system out there with something similar or perhaps a homebrewed version existed.
- a mystical element like the Force from Star Wars. I've been a big fan of the Star Wars franchise for a long time, and I have always liked the Jedi and Sith elements. I'd like something like that in the game.
- a wide array of weaponry
- some sort of character upgrade/customization thing (ex: getting biotic implants or something like that).

Anything like this out there? Thanks in advance.

EDIT: Genres I am interested in include Cosmic Horror, Superhuman, Space Opera, Cyberpunk, Biopunk, and Speculative Evolution.

EDIT 2: I am looking to emulate Star Wars primarily, with elements from Mass Effect, Warframe, and some Cosmic Horror aspects thrown in.

Koo Rehtorb
2017-10-26, 02:19 PM
I don't know what Warframe is, but you could take a look at Stars Without Number.

It certainly has psionics and augments.

Scripten
2017-10-26, 02:22 PM
Shadowrun is technically cyberpunk, but that's arguably a subset of science fiction. Depends on what you're looking for mechanically, though.

Anonymouswizard
2017-10-26, 02:32 PM
What genre do you want? Or rather what do you want to emulate, Star Trek and Night's Dawn have very different requirements.

I mean, from what I own you can get all of that from Traveller, GURPS, and Savage Worlds (with sf supplement). Maybe Stars Without Number as well, I haven't checked, and Shadowrun should give it as well. White Star misses some of the bits in the free version, but might not in this new Galaxy Edition.

Eclipse Phase also had most of that, and can be legally downloaded for free, but is much more modern science fiction.

I'm also making a SF game based off more space opera, but it's early in development (for about version four at this point).

golentan
2017-10-26, 03:02 PM
Huh... It would require a bit of hacking, but you might wanna look at Eclipse Phase. Psychics and other manifestations of the TITANS' impact on the world are basically magic, there are portals to other worlds, and bodies are disposable, upgradeable, and interchangeable (freely mix and matching almost any biological or mechanical features you want) as long as you keep your Cortical Stack on and maybe have a backup somewhere.

Just tone down the horror elements (which I like to do anyway) and focus more on exploration and adventure of this strange, strange universe humans have suddenly found themselves not at the top of the brain-chain in.

supergoji18
2017-10-26, 03:18 PM
For those wondering, I'm interested in the cosmic horror, superhuman, space opera, cyberpunk, biopunk, and speculative evolution genres.

I am looking to emulate Star Wars mostly, with elements from Warframe, Mass Effect, and cosmic horror stories thrown in.

Anonymouswizard
2017-10-26, 03:32 PM
For those wondering, I'm interested in the cosmic horror, superhuman, space opera, cyberpunk, biopunk, and speculative evolution genres.

I am looking to emulate Star Wars mostly, with elements from Warframe, Mass Effect, and cosmic horror stories thrown in.

Gah, a bit of everything.

I recommend looking at the more genetic systems than specific ones then, Traveller might work. My first thought would be to use Fate or FUDGE for the rules and go from there (my system is descended from a Fate hack that slowly became more FUDGE-like as it's been evolving and Aspects have lost their importance*).

* Traits are their replacement and only grant permissions, while damage is measured in Wounds Levels.

Knaight
2017-10-26, 04:33 PM
I could see you liking Remnants, which is a post apocalyptic sci-fi mecha system that will work just fine for the warframes. A big mix of different styles that favors Star Wars is also a perfect fit for a generic sci-fi game descended from Star Wars, so d6 Space is worth looking into.

golentan
2017-10-26, 06:07 PM
For those wondering, I'm interested in the cosmic horror, superhuman, space opera, cyberpunk, biopunk, and speculative evolution genres.

I am looking to emulate Star Wars mostly, with elements from Warframe, Mass Effect, and cosmic horror stories thrown in.

Oh, definitely do Eclipse phase. Only thing I can think of that ticks all those boxes to some degree.

Anonymouswizard
2017-10-27, 03:44 AM
Oh, definitely do Eclipse phase. Only thing I can think of that ticks all those boxes to some degree.

While I adore Eclipse Phase (although I prefer the official Fate hack to the original system or 2e), it's very much not Space Opera. The original version steers very close to cosmic horror, Transhumanity's Fate and 2e seem to focus more on the evolution side. It's very much the wrong place to go if you're mainly looking to emulate Star Wars. I'd say these are minor spoilers for those who care, but they're all outside of the GM section of the corebook.

PCs aren't even superhuman, they're transhuman moving towards exhuman. Most of society has moved towards a mind-body split because basically nobody is in their original body anymore, and minds are immortal (bodies not so much). I fully expect that someone in the setting has worked out how to reverse aging, but doesn't use it because resleeving is more convenient. But it's even more anti-Star Wars here because there it's implied that souls exist (via force ghosts), Eclipse Phase is all about the mind and says the soul probably doesn't exist. Death isn't a major thing because you can come back for tens of thousands of credits or a rep hit (and most PCs will have one or the other to pay with).

Psychics/Asyncs are scary. There's no way to be certain if they're safe long term, because the thing that created them is literally a strain of the Exurgent Virus. That they still have within themselves, because of course they do.

Space travel is difficult, and so it and space combat is relatively rare. Spaceships are mainly used to transport mass, most PCs will travel by uploading their mind, sending it to the destination via laser comms, and optionally downloading to a new body. Yes, the setting does have working space planes, plasma drives, and maybe even ion drives, but few people use them because there's maybe a couple of thousand people in the setting that haven't resleeved at least once. At most you'll use a spaceplace to go surface to orbit because it's cheaper then renting a morph, and even then not everybody would (then again, most people can only afford a new morph by selling their old one). There's even a space elevator on Mars, because of course there is.

Oh, and forget about going FTL in a starship. The only practical way transhumanity has found to go to other systems is via planet- and moonbound Pandora Gates, which seem to create wormholes and definitely instantaneously transport people to other planets, which may or may not be in the Milky Way. Oh sure, somebody's probably loaded up on a bunch of synthmorphs and egos and sleeved into a spaceship they plan to send to another system, but that's because transhumans are crazy people who have created at least one morph for living in the sun's corona.

Heck, in Star Wars a droid is a well defined thing, in Eclipse Phase the difference between an AGI and a human mind is whether it was programmed or developed in a meat brain. They work the same, down to an AGI being able to become an Async (which will be annoying, feeling uncomfortable in both biomorphs and synthmorphs). Sure, an AGI will tend to have problems socialising, but they can learn to do it because they're in practice so close to human egos it makes not difference.

On the other hand, Eclipse Phase is very, very, very good at biopunk, cyberpunk, and cosmic horror, because those are really the resources it draws from. But there's literally no traditional space opera (and almost no modern space opera) even if you go with gatecrashing.

golentan
2017-10-27, 07:09 PM
I know the assumption with eclipse phase is that it's horror biopunk rather than space opera. But having played some non horror, gatecrasher style games in it, I will say it's much easier to use the mechanics of eclipse phase for a more star-wars like universe than it is to use any of the star wars systems I've encountered for a more biopunk/speculative evolution universe.

Like, the OP is apparently looking for a kitchen sink of hard sci-fi and space opera elements, and eclipse phase is the only system I can think of that has explicit rules for magical elements and doesn't break when you have remote possession of customizable bodies as your primary character. I'm not saying use the setting, I'm saying lobotomize it and use the system, IMTU style.

Cuz as much as I love traveller (second favorite system, by far) it BREAKS when you have transhuman or AI elements. Hard. I know that from painful experience, both personal (Rest In Peace, crew of the "Chamax Buffet") and general setting knowledge (Megatraveller attempting to incorporate computer science developments from the late 70s early 80s blew up the setting and there is a good reason that almost nobody likes "After the Third Imperium's Collapse" as a setting for any book, adventure, campaign or edition since then). It doesn't even work when you tell players they're allowed to buy anagathics, and they're an in setting fact of life.

Mark Hall
2017-10-28, 08:17 AM
How about a Mass Effect hack of Savage Worlds? (http://rpgcrank.blogspot.com/p/savage-worlds-mass-effect.html)

supergoji18
2017-10-28, 08:29 AM
Gah, a bit of everything.

Perhaps I am being too broad. Space Opera and Cosmic Horror are the two I'm most interested in.

And Star Wars is the series I want it to most closely resemble, primarily with its space travel, the force, and the jedi & sith.
From Warframe, I'm mostly interested in the armor, which is essentially a super advanced suit of armor with unique powers that can be upgraded and modified.

Martin Greywolf
2017-10-28, 08:52 AM
Things that I am looking for in the RPG:

- something like Warframe's... warframes. I saw some gameplay of the game from a friend of mine and I was very interested in the Tenno and their Warframes. So I was hoping there was an RPG system out there with something similar or perhaps a homebrewed version existed.

Uh, depends on how much you know about what warframes and tenno really are, but the short version is that Warframes are essentially powered armor where the guy using it doesn't have to sit inside of it. Take any system and make HP, AC and shields dependent on the armor you use and you're pretty much there, you'll just have to give a 'spell' or four to each armor. Yeah, there's a lot more lore about Void, Sentients, Transference, Rift and so on and so forth, but that is mostly fluff at this point.



- a mystical element like the Force from Star Wars. I've been a big fan of the Star Wars franchise for a long time, and I have always liked the Jedi and Sith elements. I'd like something like that in the game

You'll have to homebrew most of this, unless you're lifting Force/Void wholesale. SciFi has a decent amount of science in it and therefore tends to play around with how the mystical stuff interacts with physics, so it is pretty setting-dependent.



- a wide array of weaponry


If you want these to have rigidly defined effects in the mechanics sense, you'll have to use some crunchy systems, like d20 or GURPS variations. If you're okay with more abstract representations, then you can build pretty much anything in FATE, but it lacks the looking through the upgrade options and picking stuff feeling.



- some sort of character upgrade/customization thing (ex: getting biotic implants or something like that).


Okay, major spoiler for Warframe ahead. They did something like this with Operators, the kids who are piloting warframes, and it is mediocre at best. Problem is, if you have a warframe and an operator, how do you handle balance? If one is more powerful than the other, you'll have to come up with increasingly improbable reasons why the more powerful option can't be used, and even if you pull it off, your players are now playing the thing that is uncool.

You could have them have competences in different fields, sort of like playing 2 characters per player, but what's the point of that? It adds a pile of complications for very little benefit.



IMO, you're trying to do too many things at once, and find a system that does them all well to boot. Not only do I think something like this doesn't really exist, I think it almost can't exist, not without horrific investment in betatesting and polishing. What you need to do is to look into what you really want - space robot ninjas with magic powers can be done, but throwing in cyborgs and Neon Genesis Evangelion on top of that is a bit too much.

Max_Killjoy
2017-10-28, 09:04 AM
There's always the d6 system that WEG published -- still the best system used for a published Star Wars RPG.

And there's a new edition of the system coming out (https://www.gallantknightgames.com/gallant-knight-games-partners-with-nocturnal/).

(As an answer to the thread title without specifics, I'd also suggest the link at the bottom of my signature.)

ngilop
2017-10-28, 12:32 PM
Heavy Gear from Canadian Publisher Dream Pod 9 (http://www.dp9.com/heavygear).. they also have Gear kreig which might be a good choice.. never lookedinto or played it though.

bonus they have a few free rule books on their website :)

the caveat though is no magic, cuz its sci fi... not science fantasy.

which though you asked for science fiction you then go into wanting some science fantasy elements, then you go into the whole Lovecraft mythos additions. So

maybe Godlike (http://arcdream.com/home/godlike-3/)?

Mekton Zero is you like mecha not so much mechs

Chtulhu Tech (http://www.wildfirellc.com/) get your cosmic horror wit mechs going.. there might be magic idk.

of course there is a GURPs supplement for mechs, but I understand that GiTpers tend to dislike GURPs for whatever reason.

Theres also Dust Warfare (https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/dust-warfare/) The background behind the game is basically aliens came and gave the world some technology and now WW2 is being fought on the moon with lasers and mechs and stuff.

Anonymouswizard
2017-10-28, 12:42 PM
I know the assumption with eclipse phase is that it's horror biopunk rather than space opera. But having played some non horror, gatecrasher style games in it, I will say it's much easier to use the mechanics of eclipse phase for a more star-wars like universe than it is to use any of the star wars systems I've encountered for a more biopunk/speculative evolution universe.

Like, the OP is apparently looking for a kitchen sink of hard sci-fi and space opera elements, and eclipse phase is the only system I can think of that has explicit rules for magical elements and doesn't break when you have remote possession of customizable bodies as your primary character. I'm not saying use the setting, I'm saying lobotomize it and use the system, IMTU style.

Cuz as much as I love traveller (second favorite system, by far) it BREAKS when you have transhuman or AI elements. Hard. I know that from painful experience, both personal (Rest In Peace, crew of the "Chamax Buffet") and general setting knowledge (Megatraveller attempting to incorporate computer science developments from the late 70s early 80s blew up the setting and there is a good reason that almost nobody likes "After the Third Imperium's Collapse" as a setting for any book, adventure, campaign or edition since then). It doesn't even work when you tell players they're allowed to buy anagathics, and they're an in setting fact of life.

Eh, there was little request for high level transhumanism, it's literally the wrong direction to go if you're primarily trying to emulate Star Wars. It's core ideas are in literally the other direction, it's probably better to go Traveller and add a lot more Augmentations (or just use a lot of them) than it is to modify Eclipse Phase. Plus Traveller psionics (especially Mongoose Traveller 1e with the Psion supplement) are much closer to Star Wars style mystic powers than EP's 'barely understood science' angle.

This is why I suggested a generic system (although I also think Eclipse Phase's system is a massive pile of overcomplication compared to the Fate hack, even 2e).


Perhaps I am being too broad. Space Opera and Cosmic Horror are the two I'm most interested in.

And Star Wars is the series I want it to most closely resemble, primarily with its space travel, the force, and the jedi & sith.
From Warframe, I'm mostly interested in the armor, which is essentially a super advanced suit of armor with unique powers that can be upgraded and modified.

Let's see.

For Star War's space travel, bare in mind that it varies a lot depending on the source, but is at least several thousand times c going by movie implications. In short, any system with ships will work, but changing the speed of travel will change the setting. For the Force, almost any 'psionics' system will do, but bare in mind that you'll have to add the philosophy aspects in.

For the armour, look at mecha systems.

Guizonde
2017-10-28, 12:44 PM
why not look at fantasy flight's 40k series? between rogue trader (pure space opera), dark heresy (cosmic horror), only war (war machines), and black crusade (more cosmic horror, but from the bad guy side), knowing all are inter-compatible, you'll be just fine. since they're not published anymore, a lot of the fanbase has even made codices that are approved by the devs (the tau supplement for rogue trader is the most well-known and tried).

magic/psyonics? check. psykers are horribly potent and even more dangerous to themselves.
augmentations? bionics are a dime a dozen, from crude battlefield-style ugly prosthetics to works of art hiding a plasma pistol in your eyebrow.
space combat and travel? you bet.
cosmic horror? it's warhammer. the universe that coined the word "grimdark". you'll be quite happy.

did i mention a braindead slug could dm it? it's stupidly easy to get the hang of as a system.

only downside is that your "warframes" will take some refluffing or tinkering. outside of the tau empire or really high up in the space marine army, battlesuits are very rare. you've got powered armor and a metric butt-ton of afv's though, from tanks the size of hangars to chicken walkers. naturally, nothing is stopping you from refluffing the game and keeping the crunch.

it's very high-lethality, but there are mechanics to safeguard against that.

if that's not up your alley, you could always try "star wars: edge of the empire" along with its supplements. you need special dice to play it, but it's very fun and you're smack in the star wars universe just before episode 4 kicks off.

dps
2017-10-28, 01:19 PM
Traveller might work.

There was a more-or-less remake of Traveller called 2300 AD that might work as well. IIRC, 2300 AD was a bit more "hard" SF while Traveller leaned a bit more towards space opera. I don't think 2300 AD was as well received as Traveller, but I could be wrong about that, and in any case that's just the overall consensus, YMMV.

Arbane
2017-10-28, 03:01 PM
There's a small 'indie' RPG called 'Scum and Villainy' that might be worth looking at - it doesn't have warframes by default, but I suspect you could patch them in. (Part of S&V's gimmick is that the players choose a ship at the start of the game, and that determines whether the game will be more like Star Wars, Firefly, or Cowboy Bebop.) It does have a Force-like set of psychic powers.

Anonymouswizard
2017-10-28, 03:56 PM
why not look at fantasy flight's 40k series? between rogue trader (pure space opera), dark heresy (cosmic horror), only war (war machines), and black crusade (more cosmic horror, but from the bad guy side), knowing all are inter-compatible, you'll be just fine.

That's a really good idea, I forgot about it since I got rid of Dark Heresy a while ago and my copy of Rogue Trader is I storage, but it fits most of OP's requirements. Either Rogue Trader pulling elements from Dark Heresy (especially enemies and the like), or 2e Dark Heresy with Rogue Trader's ship system should be perfect.

Sure, quite a bit of it is designed for the fluff, but scrape that fluff away and 60%+ of the books are a solid system for cosmic space horror opera, especially as they all have the standard Insanity track for CH games. I'd recommend Rogue Trader if the OP can only get one, but I'm also considering that most Space Opera games probably don't need a system for ships (especially if space combat is rare in-universe).


There was a more-or-less remake of Traveller called 2300 AD that might work as well. IIRC, 2300 AD was a bit more "hard" SF while Traveller leaned a bit more towards space opera. I don't think 2300 AD was as well received as Traveller, but I could be wrong about that, and in any case that's just the overall consensus, YMMV.

I recommended Traveller because what OP described sounds like a very augmentation-heavy Traveller setting to me, 2300AD (the Mongoose edition at least) doesn't have psionics and is an attempt at more realistic space opera. 2300AD does have a lot of useful stuff in the rulebook, including a nice table for FTL drive speed (in ly/day, but convert to ly/hour for standard space opera speeds) and several alternative reaction drives, as well as rules as the minimum amount of tonnage a ship should dedicate to radiators (no rules for internal heat sinks though, combat craft have to have radiators extended).

Guizonde
2017-10-28, 04:05 PM
That's a really good idea, I forgot about it since I got rid of Dark Heresy a while ago and my copy of Rogue Trader is I storage, but it fits most of OP's requirements. Either Rogue Trader pulling elements from Dark Heresy (especially enemies and the like), or 2e Dark Heresy with Rogue Trader's ship system should be perfect.

Sure, quite a bit of it is designed for the fluff, but scrape that fluff away and 60%+ of the books are a solid system for cosmic space horror opera, especially as they all have the standard Insanity track for CH games. I'd recommend Rogue Trader if the OP can only get one, but I'm also considering that most Space Opera games probably don't need a system for ships (especially if space combat is rare in-universe).


your sig says you're into sci-fi. why did you get rid of dark heresy? you didn't enjoy the system? i'm about to embark on a campaign of rogue trader. being a nearly 20-year veteran of playing the imperial guard, i hope i won't be too shaken by that (although i am going to play an ex-storm trooper from the scarus sector, just like my old regiment).

although i gave up on the wargame a decade ago, i'm still quite happy with the fond memories. hell, i've got an aquila tattooed on my shoulder. combined with the one hanging on a chain around my neck, my future dm was overjoyed at having a real veteran of the game and lore at his table (even if he likes the filthy blue-skinned xenos... that heretic).

Anonymouswizard
2017-10-28, 05:34 PM
your sig says you're into sci-fi. why did you get rid of dark heresy? you didn't enjoy the system? i'm about to embark on a campaign of rogue trader. being a nearly 20-year veteran of playing the imperial guard, i hope i won't be too shaken by that (although i am going to play an ex-storm trooper from the scarus sector, just like my old regiment).

although i gave up on the wargame a decade ago, i'm still quite happy with the fond memories. hell, i've got an aquila tattooed on my shoulder. combined with the one hanging on a chain around my neck, my future dm was overjoyed at having a real veteran of the game and lore at his table (even if he likes the filthy blue-skinned xenos... that heretic).

Getting rid of books and decided I didn't need both. I adore Dark Heresy, but think Rogue Trader is just slightly better. Plus I've moved away from 40k and to Banks, Hamilton, and Renoylds for my SF fix these days, apart from maybe the Night's Dawn books Fate/FUDGE generally gives a better base for the games I want to run. My favourite game settings are Eclipse Phase and Transhuman Space, I prefer the hard science aesthetic to 40k's Gothic one.

Plus space opera isn't the only science fiction I run, there's also cyberpunk (see Transhuman Space and Eclipse Phase, I tend towards a more optimistic style due to being in my early twenties) and very occasionally very near future stuff. My cyberpunk is actually generally better received than my space opera (my next game is going to be Eclipse Phase with the Fate rules, possibly Gatecrashing but more likely inner system hypercorp politics).

Rerednaw
2017-11-03, 12:28 PM
After rewatching some old sci-fi movies and playing some space shooters, I now have a desire to play a tabletop sci-fi genre game. I have no idea which one to play though, so i'd like to hear some recommendations from the community.

Things that I am looking for in the RPG:

- something like Warframe's... warframes. I saw some gameplay of the game from a friend of mine and I was very interested in the Tenno and their Warframes. So I was hoping there was an RPG system out there with something similar or perhaps a homebrewed version existed.
- a mystical element like the Force from Star Wars. I've been a big fan of the Star Wars franchise for a long time, and I have always liked the Jedi and Sith elements. I'd like something like that in the game.
- a wide array of weaponry
- some sort of character upgrade/customization thing (ex: getting biotic implants or something like that).

Anything like this out there? Thanks in advance.

EDIT: Genres I am interested in include Cosmic Horror, Superhuman, Space Opera, Cyberpunk, Biopunk, and Speculative Evolution.

EDIT 2: I am looking to emulate Star Wars primarily, with elements from Mass Effect, Warframe, and some Cosmic Horror aspects thrown in.

Cthulhutech may give a firm grounding in what you're looking for.
You have:
Vanilla humans.
Human/half alien.
Humans (but genetically created as proxy warriors...kind of like Zentraedi from Macross)
Augmented (via fusion with a transdimensional entity, think something like the manga/anime "Guyver") humans and yes you can even have a limit break style weapon. Not quite megasmasher but pretty impressive.
Psionics.
Conventional Battlemechs...and their bigger brother semi-sentient Mechs that bind to their pilot.
Magic (though not the pew-pew variety, that's more the Psionics side).
Lovecraftian horror setting...dark future where about half the planet is infected by or has fallen to minions and the Old Ones are (well may be if enough stupid humans open the way) coming. BUT the PCs can be one of the glimmers of hope. The campaign starts dark but with each expansion there has been an optimistic swing. Though it does leave it open to the game master.

I don't recall if they have lightsabers...

There is a free quick-start scenario with pregens that gives you a taste. The pregens are the augmented human-alien fusions that they call Tagers.

I run this every time I go to a con...pretty much a forgotten system but I loved the setting. Oh house rule the crit fail system so 1 die and 2 dice pools require all 1's. Math quirk.

Anonymouswizard
2017-11-03, 01:40 PM
Cthulhutech may give a firm grounding in what you're looking for.

Run, run as fast as you can, before the designers release a module railroading your opinions! Oh, and the sex stuff.

Eldan
2017-11-03, 03:52 PM
For those wondering, I'm interested in the cosmic horror, superhuman, space opera, cyberpunk, biopunk, and speculative evolution genres.

I am looking to emulate Star Wars mostly, with elements from Warframe, Mass Effect, and cosmic horror stories thrown in.

Definitely look at Eclipse Phase, then. It's a transhumanist horror space opera.

Kaptin Keen
2017-11-03, 05:40 PM
I feel someone should 2nd 40k. So I shall.

It's neat. It's easy. It works. Also, it has one of the most loved (if fatally flawed, but let's not go into that) fluff universes ever created.