Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wars Among the Stars

I hardly ever get to play Science Fiction games. When I do, it tends to be the type of Science Fiction that's mixed with rubber science or even mystical abilities (which I also enjoy, but that's really Science Fantasy and I have Fading Suns for that).

But I do buy and read a fair amount of them (more and more of them in electronic form)! I have stuff from Hero Games and stuff for GURPS. I've got Traveller stuff and the Stars Without Number stuff. I used to have all the Star Wars D6 stuff and all the Cyberpunk stuff. I was going to try to collect all the Heavy Gear, Jovian Chronicles, and Blue Planet stuff but realized I just didn't have that much money.

And I didn't get to complete my collection of Mongoose Babylon 5 stuff before their license ran out, gosh darn it.


Here are a couple of games that I'm looking at picking up, even if it's likely that I'll never run them:

I already picked up the Thousand Suns RPG before, and enjoyed its approach toward creating a space opera type campaign setting with a semi-toolkit approach. The d12-based mechanic is interesting as well, though I will say that I'm biased towards bell curve dice mechanics for resolution. I'm looking at picking this supplement up, which gives even more material on fleshing out your own very special space opera setting -- even if I know that there's a new edition of Thousand Suns in the works.

I guess I'm just interesting in things that will help flesh out the verisimilitude of a space-based campaign setting: the trading, the politics, the logistics of daily life on colonies and space stations and starships. And I'll admit that I've often used these details on adventures set on different Fading Suns planets.

Another RPG of interest is primarily on my wishlist due to curiosity. Some of my favorite Science Fiction RPG adventures in the past have been largely military campaigns (hence my interest in the Stars Without Number supplement Skyward Steel), and this particular RPG -- called 3:16: Carnage Amongst The Stars is really just that ("Out-Veerhoeven's Veerhoeven!" said Robin D. Laws).

Not only that, it's been nominated for, and has won several industry awards, so that speaks well for its quality and hopefully playability.

The copy says: "This high-octane Science-Fiction role-playing game for 2 or more players has your Space Troopers killing bugs all across the Cosmos. You’ll advance in rank, improve your weapons, slay civilization after civilization and find out who you are through an innovative 'Flashback' mechanic."

War Games

Fortunately, I do stand a decent chance of actually playing in a war game. There's a local group of gamers interested in playing them (mostly historical though open to new games) that get together on occasion for one-off gameplay. For that occasion, I'm looking at the following:

Noble Armada: A Call to Arms is a wargame that I've mention in this blog before, primarily due to its chosen game setting(s). The old incarnation of A Call to Arms was set in the Babylon 5 setting (which is in fact where it got its title). I was fascinated by the ruleset's flavor, particularly the manuevers -- which were named using the actual commands of the commanding officers of the ships ("Ramming Speed!").

And now that the new ruleset is out, set in the Fading Suns universe -- taking over where the old Noble Armada miniatures game left off, and adding rules for things like boarding actions, I'm getting ready to jump in! I have no idea what I'll use for miniatures and definitely have no budget for that. But coins and cardboard can be used I suppose.

In another corner, a more generic ruleset known as Starmada -- with fantastically lean yet plausible rules for ships that don't mysteriously stop in space when their thrusters cut out (inertia is retained) -- rules for fleet actions have come out in the very clearly titled Starmada: Fleet Ops.

I've only managed to read through the Starmada: Admiralty Edition rules and tried out some solo simulations, but what I read was enough to sell me on the other material for the game.

I want to get more experience in building ships under the rules (which is actually quite easy to do, but getting the feel of the ships right is similar to any type of point-build system) especially since there are many rules (core and optional) to build most of the types of SF ships you see in fiction. You try to get the ships to play as you envision them. But then again, one could think of these new ships as pathfinders for new lines of ships.

Perhaps someday, who knows?

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