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    Question Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Hey all,
    I just wrapped up an 8-year standard-issue fantasy campaign, and I'm looking to give my players something new and fun. Our second DM is running a D&D mercenary campaign, so we'll still get to play good ol' swords & sorcery.

    I'm looking for something more along the lines of Starships and Psychics. What Space Opera-compatible RPG systems do you recommend?

    My favorite space system used to be West End Games' D6 Star Wars. I played the Firefly RPG and it didn't do it for me. The new star wars game from Fantasy Flight looks interesting, but complicated, but has the advantage of being set in an environment that all my players know and love.

    I've personally been loving Stargate SG-1 lately, but it takes a back seat to Farscape, as well as Star Treks TNG and DS9.

    I want my players to get attached to a ship, be able to customize the bejeezus out of it, take on jobs/directives for episodic fun, and generally cruise around and explore the weird parts of a galaxy.

    I do not want magic spells, so it looks like Starfinder is right out. Space dragons, space orcs, space giants, etc all just feel like D&D with a little hard vacuum rubbed on it. I'm very cool with psychic powers, as that feels more 'sciency.' I want the focus to be on the characters, their ship and the enemies they make along the way, and would prefer to keep the supernatural to a minimum, since that was the focus of my last campaign.

    What are your favorite space RPG systems? Is there anything awesome that fits what I'm looking for? Should I bite the bullet and just learn the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG? (and if so, are there any Old Republic sourcebooks?)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy View Post
    If the world was a Hollywood movie, Overdrive would be the protagonist.

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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    I always end up saying the same when people ask for RPG recommendations and I must be starting to sound like a broken record, but I think Fate is worth a look.

    It's generic, so it can work with a space opera and you can add whatever elements you want to it. It's focus is towards drama and story progression. So one thing it can do particularly well is emulate a TV show (in the sense of having a series of episodes wherein there's a conflict presented that the characters have to solve).

    The system is fairly simple to learn and has plenty of room to hack to your willing. And it would allow you to add psychic powers and have a ship for your PCs.
    Last edited by MrSandman; 2019-07-03 at 04:22 PM.

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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Quote Originally Posted by MrSandman View Post
    I always end up saying the same when people ask for RPG recommendations and I must be starting to sound like a broken record, but I think Fate is worth a look.

    It's generic, so it can work with a space opera and you can add whatever elements you want to it. It's focus is towards drama and story progression. So one thing it can do particularly well is emulate a TV show (in the sense of having a series of episodes wherein there's a conflict presented that the characters have to solve).

    The system is fairly simple to learn and has plenty of room to hack to your willing. And it would allow you to add psychic powers and have a ship for your PCs.
    Interesting! I think one of my players has experience with Fate, but it's 100% foreign to me. I'll look into it. Any idea if there are space sourcebooks/kits for it?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy View Post
    If the world was a Hollywood movie, Overdrive would be the protagonist.

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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    There is the Fate Space Toolkit for it, though I don't know how good it is, as I don't own it.

    There's also a couple of Fate Worlds, which are basically settings, usually very quirky and unusual, that you can use for inspiration (and pay what you want).
    Andromeda is sort of a humanity in a ship looking for a new land thing.
    The Crisp Line is also futuristic. It doesn't involve space exploration, I don't think. But if you want cyborgs, it might be a good source of inspiration.
    Ghost Planets might be the closest ti the kind of game you're planning on. It's space exploration with a bit of horror.
    Frontier Spirit is about survival in a colony. I don't think it features space travel, but I hear it's section on space opera stunts is good.

    Well, I hope that I haven't overloaded you with info. I would suggest having a look at least at Ghost Planets and Frontier Spirit. Also, other than Fate Space Toolkit, you can get everything for free on DriveThru.
    Last edited by MrSandman; 2019-07-03 at 06:01 PM.

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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    I'd say Stars Without Number seems like it would tick all the boxes you listed. And, even if you do go with Fate, it has a lot of tools you'll probably still find useful, like planet/sector generators, mission generators, and possibly even the faction system. Also, the psychic rules might provide inspiration if you don't find good ones for Fate.

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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Quote Originally Posted by MrSandman View Post
    Well, I hope that I haven't overloaded you with info. I would suggest having a look at least at Ghost Planets and Frontier Spirit. Also, other than Fate Space Toolkit, you can get everything for free on DriveThru.
    These are great resources! Thanks, MrSandman!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kadzar View Post
    I'd say Stars Without Number seems like it would tick all the boxes you listed. And, even if you do go with Fate, it has a lot of tools you'll probably still find useful, like planet/sector generators, mission generators, and possibly even the faction system. Also, the psychic rules might provide inspiration if you don't find good ones for Fate.
    Holy buckets. This looks like a really close fit! I'm going to check out the system and see if it's a good fit for my players.

    Thank you both!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy View Post
    If the world was a Hollywood movie, Overdrive would be the protagonist.

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    How crunchy do you want it to be? If you're good on the rules light side I can't recommend Save the Universe enough.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Star Wars Saga Edition is great, and can do pretty much any space opera you want, and really, I've run fantasy and other settings in it. It's still my favorite d20 system to date.

    Savage Worlds, as well, is great and do just about anything. It's more of a toolkit than anything, but I've run many different types of games, and various genres.

    As you're familiar with Star WArs d6, there is always Open d6, and it's like 2 or 3 variations.
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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Eclipse phase is extremely free and is good for space horror. It has rules for emailing your consciousness across the system and downloading it into an entirely new body. You can also be like a cloud of nanites or a tractor.
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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    So there is a Star Trek rpg, and it's not bad, ship to ship combat is better than person to person, but it has the advantage of being a system that is Very compatible with splitting the party, as everyone who doesn't have their character in that scene gets a red shirt, which are limitless.

    I enjoy the FFG Star Wars/Genesys, especially because of the narrative dice, but I recommend using all 3 core books simultaneously, with all their subsystems intact, as that's the only way it really "feels like" Star Wars. Also, there's a website that has a compilation of vehicle stats if you don't want to buy the 10000 supplemental books.

    I played old school d6 Star Wars and it was a blast, but if you haven't used FFG'S dice, you ought to, it creates much more cinematic action as long as both sides are flipping story points and you occasionally let the players get involved in adjucating results from extra advantage/threat and Triumph/Despair.

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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    I haven't seen any love for Traveller yet, so I'll give it a mention. It's basically what Firefly (the series) was based on (it even gets a mention in the 1st episode). Simple d6 system, a focus on buying and maintaining a ship, epic star systems and optional weird aliens and/or psychics. 'nuff said.
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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Quote Originally Posted by JellyPooga View Post
    I haven't seen any love for Traveller yet, so I'll give it a mention.
    The first RPG campaign I was in was Traveller (Black Book edition). I'm pretty sure Marc Miller is in the process of releasing a new edition.
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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Quote Originally Posted by JellyPooga View Post
    I haven't seen any love for Traveller yet, so I'll give it a mention. It's basically what Firefly (the series) was based on (it even gets a mention in the 1st episode). Simple d6 system, a focus on buying and maintaining a ship, epic star systems and optional weird aliens and/or psychics. 'nuff said.
    Sticking with the "old school" theme, I'll also mention Star Frontiers. Yup, long since out of print, but where there's a will...much fun to be had with it if you like the style.

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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Planet Mercenary might work, although I don't know how appealing it is if you don't already follow the webcomic.
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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Wow! I didn't realize there were so many options. Thanks for the recommendations, guys! I'm looking for something that's easy on my players. I don't mind putting in the homework to get up to speed with a system that takes a little more work from a GM.

    Holy cow, I can't believe Traveler is still being published. Impressive!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy View Post
    If the world was a Hollywood movie, Overdrive would be the protagonist.

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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    If ease is what you want, I'd wager Savage Worlds would fit the bill nicely. I don't have experience with many rules lite systems, so I can't comment on them.
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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Planet Mercenary might work, although I don't know how appealing it is if you don't already follow the webcomic.
    A freind of mine has fallen in love with the system, and has never read a single panel of the comic. So it has apeal outside the core fanbase.
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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparx MacGyver View Post
    Star Wars Saga Edition is great, and can do pretty much any space opera you want, and really, I've run fantasy and other settings in it. It's still my favorite d20 system to date.
    ive used it to run a mass effect game, a bsg , and a star wars game

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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Whenever this gets asked, I always recommend Alternity (the original, not the newer one).

    You can find the free Alternity Fast-Play rules here: https://www.alternityrpg.net/downloads.php
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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparx MacGyver View Post
    If ease is what you want, I'd wager Savage Worlds would fit the bill nicely. I don't have experience with many rules lite systems, so I can't comment on them.
    It occurs to me (and thus probably a ton of other people long before me) that Savage Worlds is the tofu of RPGs. Personally not a fan of generics, but SW gets a ton of support (and I liked the Deadlands game system that provided the base for it).

    Too bad there was never a full-fledged Star Blazers (Yamato) RPG...but I suspect it would have ended up a lot like Star Frontiers anyway.

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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Quote Originally Posted by OverdrivePrime View Post
    My favorite space system used to be West End Games' D6 Star Wars. I played the Firefly RPG and it didn't do it for me. The new star wars game from Fantasy Flight looks interesting, but complicated, but has the advantage of being set in an environment that all my players know and love.
    ...

    I want my players to get attached to a ship, be able to customize the bejeezus out of it, take on jobs/directives for episodic fun, and generally cruise around and explore the weird parts of a galaxy.
    ...
    Should I bite the bullet and just learn the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG? (and if so, are there any Old Republic sourcebooks?)
    Edge of the Empire is PERFECT for you and your group. It's express purpose is to do exactly what you're setting out to do. I grew up with 3.5/Pathfinder, but after trying out EotE, I don't ever feel the need to go back to d20.

    It's definitely different, but the whole system can be summed up with a two page comic.

    You can also pick up and run a beginner box (I'd recommend either the Edge of the Empire or Force Awakens ones for your preferred feel). It's a beautifully written module designed to teach new players and GMs the system. They're well designed and laid out to make them accessible to new and old players alike. It also comes with dice, so the total cost comes to something like $10 more than just dice alone.

    As for Old Republic, no. I'm sure they'll release stuff from that era in the next couple of years, but for now we're stuck filling the serial numbers off of what we have and reskinning it. On the bright side, with Star Wars all you have to do is say it's the Old Republic and everything is basically the same. Find a ship that is an analog for what you want and just use its stats. It's a little extra work, but this system is SO EASY to prep that it's not much of an extra burden on the GM.

    Quote Originally Posted by ErdrickOfAliaha View Post
    I enjoy the FFG Star Wars/Genesys, especially because of the narrative dice, but I recommend using all 3 core books simultaneously, with all their subsystems intact, as that's the only way it really "feels like" Star Wars. Also, there's a website that has a compilation of vehicle stats if you don't want to buy the 10000 supplemental books.

    I played old school d6 Star Wars and it was a blast, but if you haven't used FFG'S dice, you ought to, it creates much more cinematic action as long as both sides are flipping story points and you occasionally let the players get involved in adjucating results from extra advantage/threat and Triumph/Despair.
    I'd argue that, especially starting out, all this particular group really need is Edge of the Empire. They don't seem particularly interested in the struggles of galactic politics and warfare, and the OP specifically mentioned not wanting to get too into magic (aka "the Force").

    To start out, I'd say just to get the EotE core rulebook and maybe a beginner box (which also comes with dice!). Then if you're inspired, you can pick up other rulebooks and splats. I'm a huge fan of the Adversary Decks for GMing. It's so easy to create encounters on the fly!
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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    If you don't mind an overall lighter system, I recently came up with a bunch of space combat rules for STaRS.

    Dogfighting was based on Warbirds. Every round, you roll to see if you're in position to shoot or if you've got an enemy on your own tail. If you win, you get all the usual attack options; if you fail, you get a couple options for how to react that offer different advantages and disadvantages.

    Capital ship combat was designed to involve the whole party. The pilot gets to dogfight, the gunners shoot off individual weapon emplacements, and the engineers run around like madmen trying to jury rig repairs.

    Fighters are customized pretty much like characters, adding various weapons, skills, powers, and so on. But Capitol ships are laid out on a grid, with specific systems located in specific squares. So not only do you get to design that, but during a battle every point of damage hits a (semi) random square and knocks out whatever system is there.

    It's also, you know, STaRS, so it's lightning fast, flexible, and improv-friendly. Basic rules are pay-what-you-want.

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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Planet Mercenary deffinately deserves a look, has a lot going for it.

    WEG d6 is still the best actual Star Wars system, hands down.

    Not a fan of FFG's goofy dice, the progress trees, or the meta-narrative powers.
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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Wait, FATE was mentioned but there's no love for Diaspora? For shame!
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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    Star Frontiers and classic Traveller are both available as PDF downloads from DriveThruRPG.com. I havenít checked, but Iíd bet POD versions are available, too.

    My goto would be Traveller. Itís based on classic SciFi tropes (heck, it practically is H. Beam Piperís masterpiece Space Viking, with bits of the Niven-verse thrown in).

    But then I grew up with the original Traveller, so Iím an old school dude.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amechra View Post
    Wait, FATE was mentioned but there's no love for Diaspora? For shame!
    Diaspora's not really space opera - I wouldn't classify it as hard science fiction, but people who aren't as hardline generally would. Bulldogs is a closer fit there.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    d20 Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    I'm in a Star Trek: Adventure Gaming in the Final Frontier PbP (http://www.unseenservant.us/forum/viewforum.php?f=219) that I'm really enjoying. I'm not sure how good the rules are for customizing ships though... considering we work for the Federation not too much. But I'm mainly an old school D&D guy, so this is a little different for me, but really love ST:TOS and really enjoying this game!
    Good luck with whatever you choose! :)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Not a fan of FFG's goofy dice, the progress trees, or the meta-narrative powers.
    May I ask why you don't like these things? Is it just an aesthetic/preference thing?

    Regarding the meta-narrative powers, how are they different from other systems aside from the playful way it addresses them? XP, x/encounter abilities, prerequisites, skills, and every other RPG mechanic all have a certain level of meta-narrative aspect to them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArcanistSupreme View Post
    May I ask why you don't like these things? Is it just an aesthetic/preference thing?

    Regarding the meta-narrative powers, how are they different from other systems aside from the playful way it addresses them? XP, x/encounter abilities, prerequisites, skills, and every other RPG mechanic all have a certain level of meta-narrative aspect to them.
    Quick answer, best discussed on a separate thread beyond this so we don't derail this thread.

    The physical dice are a bit of a money gimmick, and require added effort to read and parse.

    I don't care for locking powers / abilities that fit the character behind powers / abilities that do not. See also, classes.

    XP isn't really meta-narrative, any more than real people learning from their experiences is "meta narrative". "Per day" or "per encounter" abilities are usually disassociated and not to my taste. A lot of prereqs are imposed purely for balance and have no really justification in the "fiction layer".

    The things that are outright meta-narrative in FFG's Star Wars are the powers that give the player an ability to affect "the story" completely outside of their character interacting with the setting (such as the ability to make a device or system fail even if the character has never interacted with it, has never even been aware of its existence -- purely the player deciding they'd like the thing to fail now) and more generally the way in which dice roll results are interpreted into long chunks of resulting "story" as opposed to adjudicating discrete events.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Default Re: Best Space Opera RPG System?

    There are these two Colonial Troopers (and Colonial Troopers: Knight Hawks) pdfs that look interesting:

    https://www.thomasdenmark.com/night-owl-workshop

    Check the previews (and neato video) to see if it's what you want, I don't know too much about them but they are based on OD&D type rules. They aren't free PDFs but are decent priced if you thought they might work. :D
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