Generic but simple, less-numbercrunching SCI-FI RPG?

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Generic but simple, less-numbercrunching SCI-FI RPG?

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2017-11-21 03:55pm

Same question I asked reddit...


I'm looking for a sci-fi RPG that's as open-ended as D&D 5th ed, in that while there are fully kitted out or detailed classes and a not-broken system, the worldbuilding is generally non-specific and allows the GM or players to make stuff up... while at the same time being less-numbercrunchy like more modern systems like 7th Sea or the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG.
Is there any such system?
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Re: Generic but simple, less-numbercrunching SCI-FI RPG?

Post by Bedlam » 2017-11-21 05:32pm

I'm partial to the West End Games D6 Star Wars system. They used the same system for a few other settings at the same time, I remember a Ghost Busters version and I used it for a Babylon 5 system back in the day.

Its a fairly simple and solid backbone for most Sci-fi, it scales fairly well for personnel, fighter scale, vehicle scale and even small capital ship combat (falls apart a bit above that but then things are more GM fiat anyway).

It manages to make things fairly dangerous so that players don't just charge any everything as they will die from a few blaster shots while the character point / story point system allows for really heroic actions to be achievable when needed.

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Re: Generic but simple, less-numbercrunching SCI-FI RPG?

Post by bilateralrope » 2017-11-21 11:27pm

I'm partial to Myriad Song. The number crunching is very light, the only time I can recall having to do math is in damage calculations. Add base weapon damage, number of successes and any conditionals, subtract the targets soak. This is a system where doing 5 damage to a target kills it, 6 or more damage is a messy overkill, so the numbers are small. Once you know the total damage you're dealing, you look at a chart and apply all status effects for that much or lesser damage to the target. No tracking of an HP number.

The basic roll is you grab a few dice from your characters stats (dice being d4s to d12s), then roll against your opponents dice. The person with the highest number showing wins, each number higher than the opponents highest is a success. A bonus is an extra die to you, a penalty is a die to your opponent.

The setting is generic 70s sci-fi.

There are a few bits you might not like:
- It's a classless system.
- Vehicle rules are mostly nonexistent.
- Reprogramable computers are something that just doesn't exist in the setting.
- You are going to need a lot of dice. I'd recommend every player having at least 4 D4s, D6s, D8s, D10s, and D12s.
- There is one ability (lucky) that lets a player manipulate the dice the GM rolled, which forces the GM to roll openly.

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Re: Generic but simple, less-numbercrunching SCI-FI RPG?

Post by Zwinmar » 2017-11-22 09:19am

There is this if you like the d20 system.
There is also Rifts.

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Re: Generic but simple, less-numbercrunching SCI-FI RPG?

Post by TheFeniX » 2017-11-22 11:33am

I'll give another nod to the WEG D6 SW system. It's pretty generic and there are no real "classes." The force stuff can be ignored. What I really liked about it is you can develop hard and fast rules for pulling and adding dice as needed and generic "difficult" vs "Heroic" target numbers, rather than getting involved with insane number crunching with multiple modifiers, such as with Shadowrun. As a GM I had sooo little to track on my end in WEGD6 versus Shadowrun.

I just got my brother's Star Frontiers books off him. It's another generic Sci-Fi setting that I recall not having a whole lot of number crunching except with personal shields and the like. But I need to give them a solid read again, which I plan too.

Rifts might work, but the setting is wildly inconsistent in power levels. One guy in power armor can either control a whole town or he's stepped on immediately by malevolent forces from the Rifts. There's a chance for more personal story-telling, but it can easily become a campaign where the character's mecha or powers vastly overshadow the characters themselves. But the number crunching itself is pretty straight forward. The Palladium ruleset is only mildly more complicated than older D&D rules.

In fact, I prefere the magic system if only because it's much easier to track what the mages and psionics can and can't cast. Tracking spells per level per day means more paperwork on my end versus: "You can't cast that because I know you only have 15 PPE left."

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Re: Generic but simple, less-numbercrunching SCI-FI RPG?

Post by Jub » 2017-11-22 04:55pm

This might be too number-y for what you're looking for but Eclipse Phase is fairly easy to play and highly flexible in terms of what archetypes can be played and the kinds of stories that can be told. The core rules are also free, so check them out here.

The basics are that it's a D% based system where you want to roll under your combined stat + skill + bonuses. It doesn't use money to gate what players can buy and instead uses your reputation with various factions to call in favors which could be anything from transport to a new system, to getting geared up for a job, or even getting your dead character's back-up reloaded into a new body. It's got a very nice setting, but could be made generic fairly easily. New skills and even things like magic or psionics could also be added easily due to how the skill system works.

I personally like reading the books more than playing this system's core setting but the rules are tight.

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Re: Generic but simple, less-numbercrunching SCI-FI RPG?

Post by Formless » 2017-11-22 05:13pm

For the sake of completeness, there is Starfinder by Piazo. Its new, its OGL, and its based on the D20 system, which can mean a lot of numbers but IMO anyone who has played D&D 5e shouldn't have a hard time adjusting. I haven't played it myself, but from what I've seen they did a lot of simplifying on things like the action economy, and I love Pathfinder's generally simpler approach to the skill system, so you might check it out. You certainly won't have a hard time finding players familiar with Pathfinder or D&D 3e, and in my experience that definitely counts for something.

If all else fails and you just want to tell a good story, you can always go with FATE as a simple all-genres RPG.
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Re: Generic but simple, less-numbercrunching SCI-FI RPG?

Post by Annatar Giftbringer » 2017-11-24 07:14am

I’d recommend Mongoose publishing’s version of Traveller.

Simple system, based on 2D6 rolls. There is a default setting called The third imperium which is a kinda generic space opera, but the rules are also very generic and space ship, vehicle design and equipment books are all setting-neutral, with options to make anything from Roman legionaries to Star Wars or 40k.

In addition, the game and the third imperium setting have existed in various editions for forty years, so there’s a lot of resources out there, many of which are rules-neutral and can be used regardless of version. Others, like ship stats, might require converting.

The rules for designing spaceship - and even more so vehicles - are are specifically meant to be easy and quick to use, so there won’t be too much number-crunching.
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Re: Generic but simple, less-numbercrunching SCI-FI RPG?

Post by U.P. Cinnabar » 2017-12-28 01:34pm

Either Mongoose's Traveller or True 20 by Green Ronin. The latter is a more simplified version of d20, with the character classes(Adept, Expert, Warrior) which cover most character concepts.

Vehicle construction in T20 is a bit too light for my taste, but that's about the only flaw I, can think of. And, you only need the core rule book to play and narrate(T20 GMs are called Narrators), which is a bigger appeal if you're cash strapped.

Also, GURPS 4e, which both Raw Shark and myself prefer, has greatly simplified several aspects of its system, including vehicle and starship design(using GURPS Spaceships).
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