Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Days of Futures Past

Jeff Rients's recent post reminded me of a post I'd been intending to make for a while now. You see, even though the bulk of this blog's content is focused on fantasy roleplaying games, particularly Dungeons & Dragons, it's science fiction that's my true love. From my earliest youth, my imaginary worlds were far future ones. My favorite movies, TV shows, and books were science fictional, not what we today call "fantasy." I daydreamed of being Captain Kirk and Han Solo, not Sir Galahad or Conan. Then, as now, I played fantasy RPGs because, while I did (and do) enjoy them, they were what other people wanted to play. But when I had the opportunity to choose, I almost always chose a science fiction RPG.

Of course, when I say "science fiction," I'm generally talking about older strains of the genre, some of which are called "retro-futuristic" in certain circles. My notion of what science fiction is was forged in the 1970s, reading stories and watching movies and TV shows that were made in the 50s and 60s. That notion doesn't comport well with most of the sci-fi that's come about since the late 80s, which is why most contemporary examples of the genre leave me cold.

For me, science fiction is about adventure. It's about exploring new worlds, dealing with inscrutable aliens, and discovering new knowledge, all the while keeping the focus very much on the human beings who are doing these things. My sci-fi preferences are keenly humanistic and, for that reason, deeply old fashioned. I have no truck with transhumanism/posthumanism, for example, which I find no less silly a notion than space princesses and whole lot less fun. And, ultimately, fun is what I want out of science fiction and I find that I get a great deal more of it out of "retro" visions than I do out of the contemporary stuff.

Wow, James likes older stuff better than newer? That's quite the shock, I know. I mention it only because, as I explore the history of this hobby, I realize that probably its most successful SF games drew inspiration not from contemporary speculation but from older strains of it. Traveller was already "out of date" even in 1977 and yet it went on to become a powerhouse of the hobby. Why was that? What was it about Traveller that made it so appealing and successful as RPG? Why does it, more than 30 years later, still have a larger and more devoted fanbase than, say, something like Transhuman Space, which is arguably more "realistic" a depiction of the future than Traveller's 57th century?

These are questions I'll likely be discussing here over the next few months. I've been feeling the SF itch a lot lately and not just because I'm in the midst of revising my own SF RPG. I think there are some interesting avenues of investigation here and I intend to take them up.

45 comments:

  1. One thing to consider is that older sci-fi is much more action-based than a lot of the newer sci-fi, at least literature-wise. Yes, the movies and TV series still feature action, but the literature now is extremely varied and the whole space opera/space pulp thing has faded somewhat from the scene. In that sense, older sci-fi does better fit the nature of role-playing games. Much as classic cyberpunk, best embodied by R. Talsorian's Cyberpunk 2020 and in part in Shadowrun, is better suited to the RPG universe than the more transhumanist modern cyberpunk, so it is also with sci-fi. That's the way I perceive it, anyway.

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  2. I'm intrigued by Starblazer Adventures for the very reason that it looks focussed on adventure rather than science.

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  3. I would say there is a lot of space opera out there--quite a bit.

    I think one reason for the lesser popularity of newer science fiction games (like Transhuman Space) is that, since people read less these days, there conceptions of what science fiction should be liked is more formed by film and TV. Star Trek and Star Wars loom large, and even old school Trek wasn't seen as "fast-paced" enough for modern audiences, and so had to be "updated" in the new film.

    There's no reason with no aliens, more realistic space flight, and more realistic tech can't do action and adventure--but it isn't what people associated with action and adventure.

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  4. I sympathize. My ideas of "what science fiction is" were formed in the 60s and 70 by many of the same sources, but especially stories such as those by H. Beam Piper and movies like Forbidden Planet. (And, of course, original Trek) There are more recent authors whose works would work well as a game setting for adventures "in the old style," such as Cherryh's Compact Space (the setting of her Chanur stories.) Though, thinking about it, I'd be very curious to see how anyone would roleplay a Knnn or a Tc'a/Chi symbiote... :)

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  5. Traveller vs Transhuman Space?

    Traveller is a generic toolkit that can be used to craft the type of science fiction game you want. Transhuman Space is implementing GURPS for a specific type of science fiction.

    Even back in the day there was those who like Star Wars style Sci-fi and those who like Star Trek sci-fi and yet a third who like H Beam Piper sci-fi. Traveller could address all three. GURPS Space can do so as well but Transhuman Space cannot.

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  6. Like Rob said, Traveller (especially before it became synonymous with its Third Imperium setting) could be used for any number of settings, while Transhuman Space is its own setting, with its own assumptions.

    In addition to the literary influences of Piper, Asimov, and Anderson, I also think the great sci-fi art of the 1970s--massive starships, wierd planetscapes and so on--influenced Traveller (the Terran Trade Authority books come to mind).

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  7. To my mind Traveller has always been sadly lacking in space princesses, ray guns, giant robots, bug-eyed alien invaders and most of the things I want from a space opera game.

    In fact I'm still looking for the game that gives me what I want. I've bought dozens, including several OSR ones, but they're all sadly lacking. It's like Star Wars hoovered up all the space opera RPG oxygen, or something.

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  8. "I'm intrigued by Starblazer Adventures for the very reason that it looks focussed on adventure rather than science" - Me too, but Starblazer is very Narrativist, which is not what I'm looking for.

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  9. I find it funny, your notions of Sci-Fi were made in the 70's, when I was born, but MY sci-fi preferences come from the earlier works in the late 40's and 50's. I got the itch for it reading my dad's old paperbacks that were in the garage. Which combined with the old stuff that got shown on Saturday afternoon movies, makes for a very odd view of Sci-Fi then many of my contemporaries.

    It seems nowadays that the only pre-requisite for Sci-Fi is spaceships and aliens instead of magic and elves. There's not much difference. There's no science to it, its all space opera. Most of the stuff that is based on science is in the 'science gone horribly wrong' category of horror, which isn't exactly the same. There hasn't been any real science in Sci-Fi in years.

    I like my Sci-Fi based in extrapolation of current ideas and how they effect the people using it. Really it comes down to how one describes Sci-Fi, is it just another fantasy set in a space setting or is it Science Fiction? That doesn't negate or lessen the importance of the fantastic in a space setting.

    I have much love for those sorts of stories (and games for that matter). Star Wars, Buck Rogers, Adam Strange, Firefly, and even Aliens are all great. It's just that they aren't Sci-Fi, they're fantasy. Space Opera. Not the same, but infinitely better suited to an RPG.

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  10. Well, the core of what I would call the S-F designed for TV and Movies and RPGs is action oriented. One thing I think is that the less successful shows (Farscape, B5, and Firefly) all care about character and social stuff first, and that makes more interesting stuff than the more well defined "franchises". I honestly think Star Wars and Star Trek came to dominate way too much and tend to become a little corrupted in that, instead of taking a break, they kept on going. (Especially Trek, which had a well-received sequel in 1987 but then kept going instead of taking a 5-10 year break to not exhaust the potential).

    Why can't you have old-school rules with new-school worlds? If they rules are truly "setting neutral", you should be able to create something that can take current trends and yet support what people claim is the old-school philosophies of game design.

    I hate bringing up the word nostalgia, but I think it's a lot harder not to view the retro-SF movement as more about nostalgia, because if you're continuing to deal with an alternate view of the technological future from the norm, it's more fantasy anyway. Conan will always be Conan, King Arthur will be King Arthur, but reading the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon strips gets really outdated real fast. One of the core appeals of SF is the degree of realism involved, that this is a plausible future scenario, and I can't take the retro-future view as anything other than a deliberate move towards fantasy.

    It's not fair to compare Transhuman Space with Traveller. Compare Traveller to GURPS Space and the Imperium setting to Transhuman Space.

    One thing I really like about the new Eclipse Phase, is that they found a way to sort of induce a sense of Lovecraftian horror into the modern era in a way that I find completely believable and plausible.

    Trey is right. It would be nice to see at least the mainstream entertainment media start picking up on the Transhuman elements of S-F--heck, it took them a long time to embrace the Cyberpunk elements. But I think they are behind the curve a bit.

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  11. @ S'mon
    I think Barbarians of Lemuria translated to SciFi/SciFantasy would work well.

    I think...

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  12. In addition to the literary influences of Piper, Asimov, and Anderson, I also think the great sci-fi art of the 1970s--massive starships, wierd planetscapes and so on--influenced Traveller (the Terran Trade Authority books come to mind).

    There was certainly a lot of great SF art in the 70s, especially the work of guys like Chris Foss and Chris Achilleos. I'm not sure how much any of it directly influenced Traveller, though it is perhaps telling that the fourth edition of the game used Foss artwork for all its covers.

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  13. To my mind Traveller has always been sadly lacking in space princesses, ray guns, giant robots, bug-eyed alien invaders and most of the things I want from a space opera game.

    This is true. Traveller always had a decidedly more serious tone than a lot of space opera.

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  14. Starblazer is very Narrativist, which is not what I'm looking for.

    That's my feeling as well.

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  15. It's just that they aren't Sci-Fi, they're fantasy. Space Opera.

    I figured someone would eventually balk at my use of the term "sci-fi." :) I plead no contest to this. I readily acknowledge that what I want out of "science fiction" isn't scientific speculation so much as a good adventure story that takes place in the future.

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  16. >It would be nice to see at least the mainstream entertainment media start >picking up on the Transhuman elements of S-F--heck,

    They already have with Avatar.

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  17. but reading the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon strips gets really outdated real fast. One of the core appeals of SF is the degree of realism involved, that this is a plausible future scenario, and I can't take the retro-future view as anything other than a deliberate move towards fantasy.

    For me, good SF is timeless, regardless of whether its speculations have been proven wrong. I find nothing at all "outdated" about the best works of authors like Heinlein, Asimov, or Piper, even if the futures they portray in those stories are unlikely to come to pass. There's no "expiry date" on the imagination.

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  18. Good science fiction - whether it be hard, space opera, movement (not cyberpunk) or whatever - has always been about exploring human reactions to the unknown. Good authors who have embraced that will never date.

    Heinlein (up until Friday, imo) managed to do so very well. Asimov's stories, especially The Caves of Steel and the Robot short stories, likewise. There are also modern authors, like Stephen Baxter, who manage to weave good tales. Unfortunately, most publishers seem to be more interested in pushing out multi-part door stops than interesting science fiction. Except for Gollancz for some reason. They seem intent on publishing as much of their back catalogue as they can. Thanks to them I've recently rediscovered Cordwainer Smith and Samuel Delaney. Meanwhile, my old copy of James Blish's Cities in Flight omnibus is getting almost as worn as my copy of Gulliver's Travels.

    That aside:

    "Starblazer is very Narrativist, which is not what I'm looking for."

    Sorry. I have to disagree with you. You can forgive Starblazer for being a bit Narrativist as it is based on a series of British comics from the late 70s early 80s. A lot of the writers of these comics were part of the old IPC stable and responsible for 2000AD, so anything based on that school of writing is fine by me.

    I've been using Starblazer to run my own brand of Atomic Sci-Fi, and I find it emulates that style very well. Nothing like thrusting across the solar system, driven by the power of disintegrating atoms, clenching the pipe between the teeth and muttering "This could be the end of civilisation as we know it!"

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  19. I always found the 80's to be a very lame time for science fiction shows. A few shows were out, and they showcased everything that was wrong about a standard American TV show. Though campy, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was a notable exception. It wasn't until 1987 when Star Trek: TNG was released, and even then it took a couple seasons to be interesting and fresh.

    The 90s brought us Babylon 5, which still stands as a stellar example of good science fiction (pun intended).

    I believe most of the people producing sci-fi for mass media such as TV shows and movies don't like or understand science fiction, and the product suffers as a result. Witness the move that the Sci-Fi Channel made, rebranding themselves as SyFy, to dissociate themselves with the supposed nerds who watch such things.

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  20. "Starblazer is very Narrativist, which is not what I'm looking for."

    "Sorry. I have to disagree with you."

    You disagree that it's Narrativist, or that it's not what I'm looking for?

    Hmm, this does have me thinking again that I should just suck it up and buy the damn thing. What I really want is something that lets me run the cheesier sorts of '70s American tv/b-movie space opera, from Buck Rogers in the 25th century to Battle Beyond the Stars. With a bit of Blake's 7, but not so dark. TLG's Starsiege: Event Horizon was a big disappointment, as was Bezio's X-Plorers. Admittedly I think you could do Dark Star or Alien with X-Plorers quite well, but you could do them better with Call of Cthulu.

    I like the idea of Barbarians of Lemuria in space; that's certainly the feel I want, not sure about the specific ruleset though.

    I do have hopes for Dan Proctor's BX-ified version of Starships & Spacemen and I expect to buy it on Lulu when it comes out. S&S's basis in TOS Trek is very close to what I'm looking for.

    TOS Trek meets Thongar, hmmm... *reverie*

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  21. Actually, I think part of my problem is not so much rules, as adventures and other campaign-support material for the kind of "Las-Swords & Starships" feel I want. Even published Trek adventures seem far too low-key. Setting building is something I suspect Starblazers would be strong on. Hmm...

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  22. steelcaress:
    "Though campy, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was a notable exception"

    I bought the complete series on DVD recently, it mostly stands up pretty well to reexamination. :) Admittedly a lot of the 1st-season plots could be Travis McGhee tales set in New Orleans or similar.

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  23. One of the first full-blown conversions we ever did of D&D was adapting it to Star Wars. And we hadn't even seen the film down here as yet!

    But early the next year I discovered Traveller which was much more in keeping with how I liked my SF, with huge battlefleets of 5000 ton Nova Class Dreadnaughts moving through space. [OK, so that was the largest hull size in basic Traveller.] With the emphasis on the military it was well-suited for a militaristic SF game. [In that first game all my players were still actively serving officers of their appropriate services. As a result, it was a very political game.]

    The next campaign, again using Traveller was set in the solar system, with near-future technology. No jump drives. Instead they had very low thrust ion drives and constant low thrust fusion drives (the military were the only ones that used those). It was thematically based on either throwing Earth's yoke off the High Frontier (or, with one group, ensuring that it didn't happen).

    With the published adventures for Traveller starting to appear and the Third Imperium starting to coalesce, my interest drifted off to a pseudo Star Trek using Space Opera, actual Star Trek using FASA's Star Trek, and my favourite space campaign of all, which used that incredibly useful set of space rules called Privateers & Gentlemen and Heart of Oak, which meant that I had finally come full circle.

    This illustrates a substantive difference between the old school and the new school eras of gaming. In the old school you take the rules and derive a setting for them. With the newer games the setting is integrated into the rules, and this can be very difficult to change. The rules don't matter. Only your imagination and ingenuity.

    Although Starblazer Adventures is based on a highly narrative game system (FATE), it is also relatively easy to jailbreak and use it to run a more traditionally-focused game. And it has a plethora of ideas to use. [Currently I'm using as a basis of a play by email space empires wargame in the same vein as Star Probe and Star Empires. Works well.]

    All that being said, I'd really like to try out a transhumanism game using Sufficiently Advanced, which I think has grasped the important idea that the game is not about what you can do, but rather the essential conflicts between the various beliefs and core values. It's just that I doubt most of my current potential players would truly grokk the subtle beauty and elegance inherent in such a game.

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  24. call your game
    Science Fantasy
    and let your imagination run free

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  25. One of the things that makes older Sci-Fi more attractive from an RPG point of view is the way technology and cultures interact.

    Older SF is often just "todays stories" set in the future and technological and social change is glossed over. Surveillance tech, super deadly weapons tech, bio-chemical tech, information and network technology and such if they exist at all are are there are shiny toys or plot elements and do not color the whole setting. From an RPG POV this is a big advantage.

    As a counter example, one thing I noticed when I was involved with early Transhuman Space play-testing is that the technology of the setting leads to "adventure" being pushed farther out on the fringes and away from familiar things. This makes running or playing in a game.

    In Transhuman Space "Modern" 5th wave societies can be alien in very significant ways and in fact it would not be unreasonable to describe say the US of that setting as "A Hispanic flavored 24-7 IP driven welfare surveillance state run by Google where anyone who is rich has a computer in their head."and that is one of the much more approachable ones in a game book designed for approachability.

    This is not a society where adventure as the players understand it is likely to thrive or one where they even understand .

    No shootouts, no chases, little theft of physical objects except shoplifting and so on" Its fundamentally alien in ways that even say Travellers Imperium or Cyberpunk (which is just the 80's with cool tech) is not.

    And yes sure there are what the setting calls 3rd wave nations in Africa say where more conventional adventures or even Mars or somewhere but in my experience gamers want familiar, not weird.

    This is why say, Tekumel or Jorune were not huge successes but yet another D&D clone can be.

    And its not just players either, A GM has a limited amount of time and imagination and the more "immersion" and learning required on the part of the GM the less likely a setting is to be run.

    D&D,OTOH Old School in particular is easy to design adventures for and even things like C-Punk or Trav are simple compared to say THS or some of the more complex games.

    Throw in well understood stuff like Star Wars and its no contest -- easy to understand wins every time.

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  26. For me, good SF is timeless, regardless of whether its speculations have been proven wrong. I find nothing at all "outdated" about the best works of authors like Heinlein, Asimov, or Piper, even if the futures they portray in those stories are unlikely to come to pass. There's no "expiry date" on the imagination.

    The stories are classics and are important, and I agree that being outdated in regards to technology doesn't negate these classics.

    All I am saying is that, if the goal for these RPGs is to be a toolbox for "generic" SF, it should incorporate modern theories of technological development, especially if you are going to aim this for younger audiences. Thus, I would think the very thing an old-school style or designed RPG should do is incorporate modern technology with the game ethos intact. At least if the theory is that old school philosophy is about game design and not game setting, you should be able to create such a modern setting with the right RPG.

    One of the other purposes of SF is to see how technological advancement would change us and be a predictor of a possible future. And I think at least being aware of that is important. In more simplistic terms, Monte Cook once noted how much Star Wars changed things. When people tried to re-purpose old Buck Roger's style ray guns with Art Deco design and some decepting art, the kids were savvy enough to know better.

    I guess this is also why S-F was never as popular as Fantasy.

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  27. "if the goal for these RPGs is to be a toolbox for "generic" SF"

    I don't think that's a worthwhile goal. The better sf games are all decidedly non-generic, even Traveller.

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  28. S'mon, I totally disagree with you on that point. My favorite SF game was Alternity, with a close second being Traveller. Especially the older editions we played cause the GM was too cheap to buy new stuff. Both of which are generic toolboxes.

    Alternity itself has the basic rules for running anything. We've used to play Star Wars, Aliens, Space Marines, Star Trek, Dune, a survival horror game, and Harry Turtledoves World at War (space lizards vs Nazis), and right now an Superspies game. We wouldn't be able to have done all that with a restrictive setting like Star Wars (number three on my list).

    A good toolbox is a great goal. Alternity has its flaws, and it can break down at higher levels, which requires a lot of play. I would love to see another game that CAN do it all and not break down. I find more specialized setting games work, and break down less frequently, but often lend themselves to only one style of play. Star Wars d6 was good for the non-Jedi, Star Wars d20 was really only good for lots of Jedi, Mechwarrior was really only good for... er... well I'm not sure we were never really able to get that one off the ground.

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  29. Well, Traveller is popular because it never rested upon its laurels (thanks in big part to productive excesses of the Keith bros. who defined the Traveller Universe visually and in words). Also, Traveller had a simplicity about it - the Imperium while constraining to some was still one big sandbox (11,000 worlds to play around in) and while the history marched on...the adventure lay not in the metaplot (although, many players got off on the events unfolding) there were various points that it did intersect.

    While, some older Gamers/grognards did not like the metaplot others did as it anchored them in the vast canvas of the cosmos (in which the guiding thread was the Universe did not Care...when in fact, players actions could prove otherwise).

    Traveller also cultivated loyalty through mimicking SF tropes for a long time whilst keeping a respectful distance. For instance, the Hivers were modeled undoubtedly on Niven's Puppeteers yet were crucially different in other ways. Similarly, there were Dune like adventures that could equally borrow from Lawrence of Arabia. And, the big one STAR WARS fed the imaginations of entire generation of SF fans...and Traveller paralleled the films in a respectful shadow.

    Then, why have the new games not taken to the imagination that Traveller has. For one, they have not captured the hearts & minds of younger audiences. Explaining a transhuman or a complex space opera to a 8-12yr old is a daunting task. Traveller, to an extent dumbs things down...each planet has single characteristics not complex societies or ecosystems or histories. Also, Traveller has always strove KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) rules - although one could get lost in the simplicity say of CT's Universal Ship Profile but it still made sense. It also can appeal SF gamers who want the generic universe and it provides them with a ready made toolkit. For as much as the history (or metaplot) hemmed characters in...GDW and successor companies never assumed that players would take on the roles that would alter the metaplot - rather they were working class joes trying to survive in a hostile, corrupt, bureaucratic universe and turn a trick or two.

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  30. James, do you like Firefly / Serenity? Some people say that it's very Traveller-like.

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  31. I mentioned this in a prior thread, but Iain Banks' Against a Dark Background felt very Traveller-y to me.

    Protagonist, a woman named Sharrow, is from a noble line. A religious order, the Huhsz, has obtained a one-year warrant to kill her, for theological reasons. She needs to avoid them, or else obtain the last, long-lost Lazy Gun and give it to them. (The Lazy Gun is a high-tech gadget that kills things with a sense of humor. Point it at a guy, pull the trigger, and a shark might blink into existence, chomp down on his head, then disappear. It's the only thing in the story like that.)

    Sharrow's part of a group of 5 space combat pilots from an earlier war. She gets them together again in order to find the Lazy Gun. That search takes them to various places in the system, including a radioactive city inhabited by androids, and a remote backwater city that rejects technology (where they need to steal a book that may contain a clue to the location of the Lazy Gun.) Before starting the quest for the Lazy Gun in earnest, they take time out to steal a priceless piece of jewelry.

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  32. How about the three Warhammer 40K RPGs - Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader and Deathwatch? After all, the original Warhammer 40K game (also called Rogue Trader) is clearly imagined as a sort of mash-up between a miniature-based table-top wargame and an Games Mastered RPG.

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  33. James,

    SF isn't my thing, but I'm really digging The Moody Blues reference in the title of your post. :D

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  34. Characterizing older SF as primarily [boy's own] adventure-oriented is a bit misleading if not outright mistaken. There was plenty of more cerebral, philosophical SF being published in the 40s, 50s, and 60s alongside the spaceship and bug-eyed alien fare, just evidently not the stuff you were reading. For every Jack Vance there was a Cordwainer Smith, for every Beam Piper a Philip K. Dick. Trans/Posthuman SF was already well established mid-century, as well (van Vogt's Slan comes to mind, among others). Unfortunately, the action/adventure SF market is now dominated by Heinlein's successors in the military SF subgenre (yech).

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  35. One also count the persistence of brands in our industry. RPGs have formed communities around associated brands. Traveller happens to be one of those brands. This is also a persistent reason - it still commands legions of fans.

    People who started gaming in the 70s associate that good feeling with Traveller partially because it was a toolkit that could do so much. Because of that nostalgia they keep on coming back and teaching their young ones - the trade (how to RPG). And, because of its simplicity, as I mentioned earlier, it carries on.

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  36. Actually, I think part of my problem is not so much rules, as adventures and other campaign-support material for the kind of "Las-Swords & Starships" feel I want.

    Yes, I know exactly what you mean.

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  37. This illustrates a substantive difference between the old school and the new school eras of gaming. In the old school you take the rules and derive a setting for them. With the newer games the setting is integrated into the rules, and this can be very difficult to change. The rules don't matter. Only your imagination and ingenuity.

    I do think that the move toward an integral setting as an assumed feature of a RPG is definitely one of the differences between old school games and newer ones. Admittedly, there were old school games that did this too (EPT and RQ, come immediately to mind), but they were oddities at least until the early 80s, when you started to see more RPGs with integral settings. Now, they're the norm.

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  38. James, do you like Firefly / Serenity? Some people say that it's very Traveller-like.

    No, I'm not a fan at all and I think most of the comparisons to Traveller are quite facile.

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  39. How about the three Warhammer 40K RPGs - Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader and Deathwatch?

    I'm actually well disposed toward 40K in general and like a lot about the RPGs, but I do wish they weren't so darned expensive and oddly organized.

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  40. SF isn't my thing, but I'm really digging The Moody Blues reference in the title of your post. :D

    Heh, I am a man of many interests.

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  41. Unfortunately, the action/adventure SF market is now dominated by Heinlein's successors in the military SF subgenre (yech).

    I'm not a huge fan of military SF generally and it's a shame that space opera is now overly crowded with that kind of stuff.

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  42. "I'm actually well disposed toward 40K in general and like a lot about the RPGs, but I do wish they weren't so darned expensive"

    Expensive? Of course - it's Warhammer! I keep spending my gaming fund before it gets to the £40 I need to buy Rogue Trader from my FLGS. I'm not that bothered about the other two - I might be wrong but a game set in endless space that explicitly ties characters into a tightly ordered hierarchy (the Inquisition and the Space Marines) seems a bit restrictive. Rogue Trader, though, seems like (as someone who hasn't played it, just browsed the book countless times) it has plenty of scope of science fantasy of the broadest kind. I doubt it has the mid-1980s 2000AD inspired humour of the original Rogue Trader book, but there's nothing to stop me adding it. Except a thin wallet.

    That said, at least they're not the £80 (how many dollars is that?) you need to shell out for the 3rd edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay! There's a reason I still rely on first edition materials, and its not all down to a dislike of the boardgame accessories in the new version.

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  43. @DrBargle: Expensive?

    Just got the email from my FLGD for the collector's edition of Deathwatch (the 40K Space Marine RPG). Only A$400. For a role-playing game... =8O

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  44. I hope the Collector's Edition comes with a set of LARP Space Marine armour then.

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  45. The movie Outland seemed to encompass what I wanted in an SF RPG setting. I think it was very Traveller-y too.

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