A few weeks in the past, we explored a couple of of the various RPGs that supply a special tackle the fantasy style from that the majority acquainted and well-known expertise out there in Dungeons & Dragons. Many skilled D&D gamers would be the first to inform you; top-of-the-line methods to increase your horizons and grow to be a greater participant or GM is to expertise what different video games have to supply.
But on this golden age of tabletop role-playing, there are many choices that stretch past the standard confines of the fantasy style, together with some fantastic adventures into the realms of science fiction. Here are a number of top-notch choices to check out, for those who and your gaming group are prepared for the heady speculative realms of futuristic storytelling.
Stars Without Number
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
Players already accustomed to the mechanics of D&D will discover plenty of recognizable territory in Stars Without Number, an interesting retro sci-fi RPG that attracts inspiration from the earliest days of the tabletop gaming interest, a convention additionally usually known as the Old School Renaissance.
In this sandbox-style RPG, gamers band collectively to discover an enormous sector of area within the 12 months 3200, after humanity has unfold out throughout the celebrities, and within the wake of the autumn of an enormous interstellar empire. While acquainted trappings, together with attributes like Strength and Dexterity, present the roots of the system, Stars Without Number launches into solely totally different arenas in a number of methods. A thoughtfully imagined system helps psychic powers. Players construct and management starships to maneuver by way of the universe. More than something, this “feels” just like the basic science-fiction setting that first involves thoughts when you consider the style.
Unlike many role-playing video games, Stars Without Number encourages the PCs to undertake their very own objectives, and use these to drive a lot of the motion. The sandbox aspect isn’t simply lip service; the expectation is that GMs and gamers work collectively to craft a narrative distinctive to the characters they’ve rolled up, and use the setting as a backdrop to see how these tales unfold.
Also Consider: Traveller, Rocket Age
Publisher: Monte Cook Games
To uncover a dose of the actually odd for a participant group prepared for one thing fully totally different, it’s straightforward to advocate the aptly named RPG known as The Strange. Brought to us by the identical writer because the fantastic Numenera, The Strange is a recreation about alternate dimensions – and a few of these dimensions are downright bonkers.
Ostensibly, The Strange is ready on Earth. But the PCs of the sport are able to touring to parallel “recursions” that characteristic their very own guidelines of actuality, creating an enormous networked multiverse of pocket dimensions. And in every, your character may seem in another way, however keep the identical core consciousness and objectives. These recursions are born from the tales and legends of Earth, creating an enormous playground of potential alternate settings, which you soar between from one session to the subsequent. In sensible phrases, it provides you permission to “borrow” total settings to tug into your recreation, letting PCs freely move between recursions impressed by worlds of The Matrix, Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, DC superheroes, or every other favourite story world that you simply like.
In gameplay, The Strange intently follows the freeform and narrative focus of Monte Cook Games’ Cypher System. That implies that plenty of motion and narrative course is pushed by the gamers, and massive flexibility is given to gamers to construct a singular character. The guidelines are saved gentle, and your gaming group is supplied the liberty to form almost each facet of the continued marketing campaign. But don’t fear, The Strange has loads of insane concepts to get you began in your journey.
Also Consider: Invisible Sun, Cypher System: The Stars Are Fire
Publisher: R. Talsorian Games
While the most recent version of the Cyberpunk tabletop RPG only in the near past launched, its historical past stretches again many years, and served because the inspiration and supply materials for CD Projekt Red’s latest launch of Cyberpunk 2077. No matter your emotions about that recreation, the most recent iteration of the tabletop expertise is richly imagined and a ton of enjoyable; it’s an excellent place to take your gaming group in case your imaginative and prescient of science fiction contain near-future, neon-lit city playgrounds, full of gritty fights and excessive type.
For these conserving observe, Cyberpunk RED is purpose-built to bridge the hole in timeline from the earliest editions of the tabletop RPG and the brand new online game. Your group is given the latitude to discover Night City (or past) and uncover the breadth of characters dwelling within the typically bleak crossover area between being totally human, and giving over totally to know-how.
Cyberpunk RED does a standout job in providing up an easy core mechanic that governs essential interactions like primary fight and expertise, however loads of extra concerned choices for gamers fascinated by going deeper, together with the complexities of cyberware, and the way they slowly degrade a connection to a personality’s personal undefinable soul. This can be a recreation that embraces the significance of fashion and look, putting a giant emphasis on how “cool” your character is, the garments they put on, and the way in which they carry themselves. If that dynamic matches what a number of the gamers in your group most take pleasure in about role-playing, it’s an excellent recreation to contemplate bringing to the desk.
Also Consider: Shadowrun: Sixth World, Altered Carbon: The Role Playing Game
Alien: The Roleplaying Game
Publisher: Free League Publishing
If you want your science fiction tinged with a wholesome dose of horror, you doubtless already benefit from the universe of the Alien movies. What chances are you’ll not know is that the RPG adaptation of that setting is such nice enjoyable, offering gaming teams an easy-to-learn system that ably helps actually darkish and scary encounters in opposition to the enduring xenomorphs.
The Alien RPG employs the identical simple Year Zero gaming engine present in video games like Tales from the Loop and Vaesen. A mix of character expertise and attributes decide a pool of six-sided cube that have to be rolled, with any rolled “six” resulting in a hit. But within the Alien RPG, the system has a enjoyable added aspect outlined by stress, which may each provide you with clutch additional cube in important moments, but in addition result in significantly devastating outcomes upon failure.
My favourite facet of Alien is its two types of play. The marketing campaign type caters to teams that basically wish to dive in for an prolonged multi-session arc – good for giant followers who simply wish to take pleasure in a prolonged story woven by way of this surprisingly wealthy fiction. But for a lot of, the higher draw would be the distinctive cinematic mode that the sport gives, constructed to supply one-shot adventures that extra intently resemble particular person motion pictures within the franchise. In these tight and terrifying classes, it’s fairly doubtless that some (and even most or all) of the PCs will meet a grisly demise, however the brisk nature of the setting ensures everybody nonetheless has a good time.
Also Consider: Coriolis, Mutant Year Zero
Star Trek Adventures
In the world of licensed sci-fi RPGs, one of many best to advocate is Star Trek Adventures. That’s as a result of virtually everybody who could be prepared to play a tabletop RPG doubtless has at the least a passing familiarity with the setting. In addition, the sport itself is well organized and well-tuned to deal with the form of cooperative interactions which might be the center of most Star Trek tales. At the identical time, it additionally takes its setting severely sufficient that even hardcore Trek fanatics may have hassle discovering cause to complain.
Star Trek Adventures helps all kinds of potential types of play, together with heading again to the Original Series period of Kirk and Spock, or oven the extra grounded and socially complicated storylines of exhibits like Deep Space Nine. But the core rulebook is most firmly targeted on providing the fantasy I imagine most followers shall be most wanting to check out – controlling a Star Fleet crew within the Next Generation period, exploring unusual new worlds and in search of out new life and new civilizations in daring adventures.
The writers and designers of this Star Trek RPG exhibit a virtually encyclopedic data of Star Trek fiction and magnificence, which is clear after solely a short time digging into the Core Rulebook. It’s additionally only a great-playing recreation, utilizing Modiphius’ 2d20 system to create tense and thrilling encounters, with enjoyable guidelines that encourage gamers to work collectively to tackle probably the most troublesome duties. If you’ve ever discovered your self questioning if there was a approach to actually make up and stay out the identical form of tales that unfold in your favourite Star Trek episodes, I feel you’ll be pleasantly shocked with what’s on supply right here.
Also Consider: Mutant Chronicles third Edition, John Carter of Mars
I’d be remiss to not point out two of my favourite role-playing video games of latest years on this article. I hesitated to incorporate them as devoted sci-fi entries, or within the companion article that targeted on fantasy RPGs, as a result of each so completely straddle the road in-between. Star Wars and Starfinder are each squarely within the “science-fantasy” area, however each video games are additionally too pleasant to be neglected.
Several makes an attempt have been made through the years to seize the enjoyable of the Star Wars universe in a role-playing setting, each in official and non-official codecs. But I’m particularly keen on Fantasy Flight’s latest efforts, which manifested as a number of distinct RPGs that shared a standard system, every targeted on totally different tones of play. Star Wars: Age of Rebellion is all concerning the Galactic Civil War, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire handles outlaws and smugglers at midnight underbelly of the galaxy, and Star Wars: Force and Destiny focuses squarely on the ability of the Force and its practitioners. But all three sourcebooks share a standard language, and help principally shared guidelines of play. Whichever “style” appeals to you, the core recreation itself is just excellent, utilizing a set of customized cube to encourage the form of complicated narrative outcomes that you simply so usually see in Star Wars fiction, the place success and failure are sometimes tinged by extra twists. Like many elements of the Star Wars fiction, the Fantasy Flight RPG combines the massive coronary heart and emotional grandeur of a sweeping fantasy epic, alongside the spaceships, droids, and lasers of science fiction. If you select to provide it a strive, I don’t assume you’ll be disenchanted.
Starfinder undoubtedly drew some robust inspiration from the area opera richness of Star Wars, but it surely’s a spot to go if you would like one thing a bit extra recent, and in addition a ruleset that doesn’t veer removed from the acquainted environs of D&D. That’s as a result of Starfinder is a far-future spin-off of the Pathfinder RPG, which itself was an offshoot from an earlier version of Dungeons & Dragons. As such, Starfinder maintains a lot of the recognizable nomenclature and construction of a D&D recreation, however provides in loopy aliens, ship battles, planetary exploration, and extra. But simply to maintain your in your toes, Starfinder additionally maintains a lot of the magic and most of the creatures from the Pathfinder universe. If you want the concept of a flaming +2 plasma rifle that you simply use to struggle necromantic liches that come from a planet of all undead, Starfinder could also be proper up your alley.
There are a lot extra fantastic sci-fi RPGs to find, so don’t be shocked if you end up taking place a rabbit gap for those who resolve to research these and different associated video games. Speaking as a longtime participant and GM, I can say with confidence that few issues can enliven a stale gaming dynamic like introducing a brand new recreation system – as long as you may get some mental buy-in from all concerned gamers to be taught some new mechanics. Moving from the acquainted environs of basic western fantasy and launching out into area could be particularly rewarding as a departure, even for those who finally resolve to return to the superb and extremely useable techniques of D&D, or no matter different recreation you play most.
If you’re on the lookout for extra suggestions within the tabletop sphere, try our Top of the Table hub, or dig by way of the latest round-up of the Best Board Games of 2020, in addition to the Best Tabletop RPG releases of 2020. Finally, for those who need assistance discovering the appropriate recreation for you and your group, be happy to drop me a line, and I’ll do my greatest that can assist you discover what you’re on the lookout for.