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Old 09-16-2017, 03:37 PM   #1
awarnock
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Default Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

I've been browsing some of the threads that have been around about "what to do after DFRPG" or "what's next for GURPS." One of the common things I've seen is a space opera or a sci-fi boxed set. One of the arguments I've seen against that is that even space opera is a very broad genre and just having a generic space opera boxed set would be difficult because of the vastly different levels of power and tech and realism that we see in things that are classified as space opera.

I don't think the problem is as insurmountable as it seems.

If you were to ask random people on the street what the first thing they thought of when you say science fiction was, I'm willing to bet most answers would be Star Trek or Star Wars, and probably be heavily weighted on the Star Wars side of things, especially given the fact we're in the middle of a new trilogy and we have the anthologies coming out.

Now, I know that Mailanka's Psi-Wars is supposed to be heavily inspired by Star Wars, but I'm not sure if SJG would be willing to work with him on turning that into a boxed set. I have enjoyed reading through the series posts on it, and I'd buy a boxed set in a heartbeat, but I think that the fact it is online and freely available may cause some issues.

Which brings me to what would a space opera boxed set look like?

I think we need something that shows that GURPS can be used to play highly cinematic games. I would make the style of play match the general style that we see in Star Wars, over the top, bombastic, and energetic action with ray guns, laser swords, and plucky heroes defeating hordes of mooks. The setting doesn't need to be deep, but it does need to be broad with lots of variety and hints of something deeper if you dig, which should encourage those that have a creative bend to start thinking about what that something deeper is without overwhelming those that just want to play Han Solo and make witty quips and not worry too much about the history of some obscure sect of space knights.

There's a bunch of smart people on the boards here, I'm sure that between all of you we could bang out what should go into a GURPS Space Opera boxed set.
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Old 09-16-2017, 03:45 PM   #2
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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Originally Posted by awarnock View Post
There's a bunch of smart people on the boards here, I'm sure that between all of you we could bang out what should go into a GURPS Space Opera boxed set.
However, we also love to discuss things, and have a very wide range of ideas about what's interesting - and otherwise - in SF. So we aren't going to agree, and even if we did, SJG would decide for themselves.
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Old 09-16-2017, 04:24 PM   #3
awarnock
 
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
However, we also love to discuss things, and have a very wide range of ideas about what's interesting - and otherwise - in SF. So we aren't going to agree, and even if we did, SJG would decide for themselves.
That's part of the fun. Even if SJG didn't do a thing we suggest, we'd still have fun talking about it and spitballing what could or what we think should go into a boxed set.

Think of it this way, it's a thought exercise and may spark some other ideas for GMs and SJG.
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Old 09-16-2017, 04:50 PM   #4
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

One thing I was thinking about was "Sci-fi/space opera" is a huge setting, how do you fit it in a box?

There are ways of narrowing the focus of the setting, doing it geographically is one option, just one planet/city/solar system/ship. Focusing on one element of the setting is another, boarding actions and ship combat, trading, exploration, criminal activity or police work.

I am sure there are many other ways of narrowing the focus, any more suggestions?
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Old 09-16-2017, 05:36 PM   #5
awarnock
 
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

Well, If I was doing it, I'd use broad strokes with enough detail to make things unique. I'd also keep the mechanics as simple as I could to let things flow as freely as I could get them.

For example, say we have a galaxy far, far away, I'd break it down into regions and what can typically be found there. A spiral galaxy could have the core and then a region for each arm. If you wanted, you could even subdivide the regions into subregions for spurs and clouds. For each region, I'd have one or two systems detailed. I'd also have a few different powers that influence the galaxy at large, again, using broad strokes. Give the powers some mooks that the party can encounter and that should be enough to get something gameable that easy to pick up and has a lot of potential for expansion.

As I said, the idea is to be broad, but shallow with hints of depth.

Ship combat and vehicular combat should probably be extensions of the combat lite rules in the Basic Set. Use pilot/driving rolls for fancy tricks and stunts and gunner for shooting and run things on "Rule of Cool." I'd do my best to get things simple enough to fit on a sheet of paper.

I'd also use Action 2 as a model for the GM's side of things. I'd have to closely read through it to be sure, but I think you could pare things down to fit in 24-32 pages or less even if you wanted.

Where things get sticky is aliens and ships. There needs to be enough so that players and GMs don't feel restricted, but not so many as to overwhelm them. I think 6 different alien races would be good. Ships are a little more difficult. If you have fighters, you need at least one for each major power, the same with small transports, like the Millennium Falcon, and small and large capital ships.

The good news is that both aliens and ships make for good expansion material. You can do the same with locations and galactic powers.

As for other miscellania, I'd have a simple system for generating star systems, that can be expanded in a supplement. I'd also have a stripped down version of the Spaceship rules that apply specifically to that setting for making starships and starfighters. Since they can also be used to make vehicles, I'd try to include that as well, though that may be better in supplements that expand the set.
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Old 09-16-2017, 05:48 PM   #6
hal
 
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

Rather than think in bland generic terms, I would suggest that the Space Opera style game be VERY specific.

For example, suppose the setting were for Earth 50 to 100 years from now? Suppose someone did a job describing the space vehicles used to get man off earth and onto the moon and say Mars. Then go with what happens when you have facial recognition software that operates via a central network (ie multiple hand held cell phones and a primary computer that takes the requests for identification in stride, makes the identification, and shoots the information back to the networked cell phone. Toss in some VERY rudimentary AI capabilities (nothing earth shattering and see where it takes us.

Toss in technology abuse as well as technological gains - and the story can be set anywhere in the world - First World Country, Last world country, Earth Orbit station, Mars Prime, Luna Prime, or what have you.

Maybe have a more broad cybernetic limb replacement system that is NOT common amongst the normal population or have it be wide spread (Fine tuning the SCI-FI). Have biotech as a limited thing, or have BIOTECH as an emphasized thing (again, fine tuning).

Then FINE tune the space craft rules. Subsequent supplements can be released for when mankind leaps for the stars.

In short? Build the basic FRAME to achieve ONE basic setting, and the the GM's fine tune it to their desires. Have artificial beings for those who want Bladerunner. Have cybernetic limbs for those who love the DEUS EX: HUMANITY DIVIDED set up. Space 1999 should be doable.

That's my advice for what the SCI-FI version of DUNGEON FANTASY should be. Give the buyers 100 items, and let them pick and choose as to what to emphasize or de-emphasize for their game worlds.
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Old 09-16-2017, 06:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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Originally Posted by hal View Post
Rather than think in bland generic terms, I would suggest that the Space Opera style game be VERY specific.

For example, suppose the setting were for Earth 50 to 100 years from now?
I think you have basically described Transhuman Space. Not exactly, but pretty close. It's already almost a boxed set ... just missing the box and a few top-notch, open-the-can-and-serve adventures. There are even miniatures already out there for the line. Space marines? THS has them. Intelligent robots? Check. Electrolasers? Sure thing. Space elevators and Martian settlements? Yup. Mysteries in the Oort Cloud? Affirmative!

The only thing THS is missing is the woo-woo and gee-whiz of psionics, aliens, and FTL travel and communications.
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Old 09-16-2017, 06:32 PM   #8
hal
 
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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I think you have basically described Transhuman Space. Not exactly, but pretty close. It's already almost a boxed set ... just missing the box and a few top-notch, open-the-can-and-serve adventures. There are even miniatures already out there for the line. Space marines? THS has them. Intelligent robots? Check. Electrolasers? Sure thing. Space elevators and Martian settlements? Yup. Mysteries in the Oort Cloud? Affirmative!

The only thing THS is missing is the woo-woo and gee-whiz of psionics, aliens, and FTL travel and communications.
While it may have come close to Transhuman space, note that this "framework" should not be GEARED towards Transhuman Space. It should permit something like Bladerunner for example (which while similar to Transhuman Space, is definitely NOT Transhuman Space). As mentioned earlier, the "Faster than Light Travel" etc, can come AFTER the initial boxed set opens up - as a secondary purchase. Alternatively? SOME things would be detailed lightly, but more in depth detailing would result in their own "books". PSI book, Cybernetics Book, FTL ALIENS book or what have you...

Get the basic framework first, keep it specific - something that highlights what GURPS SPACESHIPS can do, and work it from there.
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Old 09-16-2017, 07:22 PM   #9
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

There's only really one thing that comes to mind for a GURPS Space Opera boxed set: Mailanka's Psi-Wars. :)
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Old 09-16-2017, 07:43 PM   #10
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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There's only really one thing that comes to mind for a GURPS Space Opera boxed set: Mailanka's Psi-Wars. :)
I'm pretty sure that at this point Mailanka's Psi Wars is the Unofficial GURPS Space Opera Unboxed Set.
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