Tuesday, December 21, 2010

OSR Sci-Fi Game, Where Art Thou?

downloaded Stars without Number the other day in the desperate hope that a rules light, neo-classical old school Sci-Fi/Space Adventure RPG had finally been made. It has not.

Now don't get me wrong, its a fine product, excellent in fact, but still not what I was hoping for. Maybe I don't really know what I'm hoping for.

But I do. Ever since I was 13 or 14 I imagined that the fog in front of TSR's eyes would clear and they would learn that their approach to D&D would work for Sci-Fi. You would start with a basic boxed game and than proceed to an advanced version. The advanced game would have three rulebooks: A Player's Handbook, a Sci-Fi Master's Guide and an Alien Manual. Either there is something seriously wrong with me for thinking of this all too obvious idea or I'm some kind of freakin' gaming genius. I really don't think the latter is the case. Smart yes but a genius...?

For months and months now I've been secretly screwing with my D&D-for-those-people-who-don't-like-D&D system, mostly based on 1st Edition AD&D crossed with S&W crossed with mine own personal madness, to create a Sci-Fi version currently entitled Aliens & Astrobases. Its a bit (understatement warning) over the top but I think it would really fill a niche not currently covered. Its a bit like X-Plorers meets Anime. Sort of. Not exactly. Its fun.

Any interest or should I just move on to my next crazy idea?

Barking Alien


  1. It sounds interesting to me. I'm all for the OSR pushing the limits and trying new things.

  2. Its partially something new and partially something old. While not a fan of D&D per se, I say if your going to do a SF version of it, do it. Make it like D&D. Most attempts seem to stray too far away.

    Mine does too if you add my 'talent' system but at least its rules light and you can drop it if you don't want to go that way.

  3. I am actually working on a conversion of Errant to a sci-fi setting as my current secret project. Check out Errant through the links in my google profile. If you like the idea of that being sci-fi, send me an e-mail and I will get you on the alpha review list so you can get a sneak peek behind the screen.

  4. they would learn that their approach to D&D would work for Sci-Fi

    They tried this in the early 90s as their Buck Rogers XXVc game. It didn't do well at all.

  5. X-plorers came out to a lot of fanfare in 2009 - it was a "what if Gary/David had gone in the direction of sci-fi instead of fantasy." It's being reworked by Brave Halfling Publishing right now.

    Terminal Space is an OD&D suppliment for sci-fi play that I've heard a lot of "buzz" about but I've not read it.

  6. I like X-plorers and Terminal Space both as well. My gut tells me you'd like X-plorers better of the two, BA.

  7. @ChicagoWiz and Jeff - I think you guys missed the line that reads, "Its a bit like X-Plorers meets Anime".

    I am familiar with all of the other OSR SF games (Terminal Space, Star Seige, etc.) and while X-Plorers comes close it has some odd elements. For example, if you're going to bother with classes in a Sci-Fi game, have them be different. Two out of four classes have the pilot skill. Two out of four had the Computer skill. Pilot and Computer are so common in SF they should be abilities anyone can take. Your Class with a capital 'C' should actually do something special.

    @Erin - That's 'cause, quite frankly, it sucked. More importantly it wasn't LIKE D&D. It wasn't generic. It didn't build on itself.

    Its like, TSR found out how to print money and instead said,

    TSR Employee #1: "Let's try to make a Sci-Fi using our print money method."

    TSR Management: "No wait! Let's try to do it by pissing on the ground and than dancing in it like we did something awesome!"

    TSR Employee #1: "Huh?? Don't you like printing money?"

    TSR Management: "We can do that any time. We made D&D. Let's try my new idea. Happy Piss Dance Sci-Fi!"

    Seriously. It boggles the mind.

  8. No, I didn't miss it. I think you'd like X-plorers better. Which it looks like you do. So no need to spend time on Terminal Space. Which you apparently already have. Which means my original post here was useless. As is this one.

    I'll shut up now, I think.

  9. Heh, its cool Jeff. You know I'm just happy when you stop by.

    The point of my post was really that I've read through and tried out a bunch of Sci-Fi games modeled after D&D and none of them do it for me but it may have nothing to do with the games themselves.

    See, any OSR SF RPG is not only full of consonents, its also fighting an uphill battle carrying an elephant when trying to impress me.

    I don't like the D&D game and I don't think it works well for Sci-Fi. That said, its still cool to see people try to make an attempt.

    Even if you end up with a half-way decent game I'm pleasantly suprprised. X-Plorers, Terminal Space and Stars Without Numbers are all good tries. In the end however, I'm still not convinced they really achieved the goal I've set for them in my head (and heart - let's not kid ourselves. We care about this crap).

    It may well be an impossible task.

  10. I'm still not clear on how Stars Without Number fails to meet your requirements. Too many new rules? I'm only asking out of interest.

  11. One thing is too many rules. Another is it just doesn't really have that old school D&D feel. Something about the way Classes and Packages are handled is way too modern to me. It reminds me of LUG's Star Trek RPG which is quite a different beast from old school.

    I actually prefer this type of game over an OD&D model. I simply don't feel it follows an OD&D model.

    It just seems like in order to do a Sci-Fi game that's D&D-like, one has to do it un-D&D-like.