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Old 05-27-2019, 01:43 PM   #1
Ezra
 
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Default Star Trek Campaigns: Prime Directive vs GURPS Space/Spaceships/Psionics 4e

BLUF: Does the time saved reading 1 book as opposed to 3-4 justify the suboptimal templates/space combat provided in Prime Directive?

What I want to Run
I'm new to the GURPS system, but I want to start a science fiction campaign this year. I'm leaning towards setting the game in the Star Trek universe. I feel like this would save me a lot of worldbuilding since I have a finite amount of time to work on a campaign, and I'm working through the growing pains of a new system.

I'm a little conflicted about resources though. I own GURPS Space, Spaceships, and Spaceships 3 for 4th ed., but I also picked up Prime Directive. At the time, I assumed Prime Directive was a straight Star Trek setting source book. After the fact, I learned about the Star Fleet Universe vs Star Trek Universe legal fiasco.

Prime Directive Pros
I'm fine with that though. What I really wanted from the book were templates for some of the Star Trek races (which it has), descriptions of Star Trek hierarchy (which it also has, albeit with deviations from Star Trek canon), and ship statistics, and a basic space combat system (which it also provides). As far as I'm concerned, there's enough universe info available online to flesh out the rest of the Star Trek universe.

I also like the idea of space combat working as a sort of mini-game to complement the RPG. Steve Jackson's Sorcery! implements these kinds of mini games and I find they enhance the fun of an rpg.

Lastly, and this is a big plus, Prime Directive would save me the preparation time of reading 3-4 GURPS (Space, Spaceships, Spaceships 3, Ultratech, Psionics, etc.) books as opposed to one.

Cons
I've poked around the Internet, and some people say the racial templates are poorly designed and difficult to budget from a character-build perspective. Also, the officer templates are designed with the idea that characters will begin as low level cadets, rather than bridge officers (not what I had in mind). Lastly, I read that the phaser stats are also not good.

Lastly ...
How is GURPS Traveller? As far as I can tell, it's only available as a 3e product. Does it provide a better science fiction system though?

Last edited by Ezra; 05-27-2019 at 01:44 PM. Reason: Punctuation
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Star Trek Campaigns: Prime Directive vs GURPS Space/Spaceships/Psionics 4e

My opinion:

An imperfect game that you'll actually run is better than a better game that you'll run "some day". Or, like I used to tell my team in the days before I was a high school teacher, "Done is better than perfect."
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Old 05-27-2019, 02:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: Star Trek Campaigns: Prime Directive vs GURPS Space/Spaceships/Psionics 4e

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Originally Posted by Brandy View Post
My opinion:

An imperfect game that you'll actually run is better than a better game that you'll run "some day". Or, like I used to tell my team in the days before I was a high school teacher, "Done is better than perfect."
I try to teach that to my students, that a poorly written text is better than no text, but the perfectionists prefer to miss deadlines than to give me a poorly written text...
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Old 05-27-2019, 04:14 PM   #4
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Default Re: Star Trek Campaigns: Prime Directive vs GURPS Space/Spaceships/Psionics 4e

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandy View Post
My opinion:

An imperfect game that you'll actually run is better than a better game that you'll run "some day". Or, like I used to tell my team in the days before I was a high school teacher, "Done is better than perfect."
That's a very good point.
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Old 05-27-2019, 04:27 PM   #5
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Default Re: Star Trek Campaigns: Prime Directive vs GURPS Space/Spaceships/Psionics 4e

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ezra View Post
BLUF: Does the time saved reading 1 book as opposed to 3-4 justify the suboptimal templates/space combat provided in Prime Directive?


Lastly, and this is a big plus, Prime Directive would save me the preparation time of reading 3-4 GURPS (Space, Spaceships, Spaceships 3, Ultratech, Psionics, etc.) books as opposed to one.


Lastly ...
How is GURPS Traveller? As far as I can tell, it's only available as a 3e product. Does it provide a better science fiction system though?
Time saved is a matter of what you want and too subjective a question to really help with.
I like reading books, what I dont like is flipping through them during the game to answer a question. Thats a bonus of PDFs with the search function and SJG wonderful attention to indexes.

Space is a genre book designed to help you build a setting.
Spaceships gives a combat rules system and a quick method of building spaceships.
Ultratech is an equipment book but also helps with thoughts on how different technologies affect a setting.
The Psionics books are a powers system and setting info.
Traveler and Prime Directive are specific settings.

So the utility depends on what your looking for. If you have a setting you like other settings and ideas for making a setting are less useful. I still like them asI tend to run my own setting so can pick and choose elements from multiple settings.
Equipment books are handy if they fit the setting.
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Old 05-27-2019, 05:31 PM   #6
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Default Re: Star Trek Campaigns: Prime Directive vs GURPS Space/Spaceships/Psionics 4e

You should understand from the beginning that GURPS Prime Directive (GPD) is a Star Fleet Universe game not strict Star Trek. Though both worlds are based on the original Star Trek TV series they diverged between Star Trek the animated Series and Star Trek the Motion Picture. Differences between the two include: Klingons don't have forehead ridges or charge into modern combat carrying melee weapons instead of disruptors and their crews include several "Subject Races." No Borg. No Farengi, although the Orion Pirate cartels have some similarities. Several interstellar powers not in the series such as the Kizinti (felinoids greatly altered and expanded from those included in a TAS episode) the Lyrans (another feline speicies) and Hydrans (the armed methane breathers) who are on the far side of Klingon space from the Federation, The Inter-Stellar Concordium (a multi species empire beyond Gorn and Romulan Space.
As to the con's you mentioned. I'm not sure what you mean by racial templates are difficult to budget and poorly designed. They are built to give abilities that emulate not just what's in the series but also several decades of SFU game fiction and older versions of Prime Directive. Point costs are what the writers felt was needed to fit those abilities not to fit a budget. As for the officer templates, yes they are designed to make a character an ensign. If you want to play a bridge officer buy more levels of rank and you might want to boost levels of skill depending on what their station is. Look at the professional certification requirements to decide what you need. This will probably mean you need to increase the overall point budget of your campaign which is appropriate if you're going to play people in charge of a 400 man crew as opposed to low rank officers.
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Old 05-27-2019, 05:45 PM   #7
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Default Re: Star Trek Campaigns: Prime Directive vs GURPS Space/Spaceships/Psionics 4e

  • GURPS Basic Set is necessary, unless you're minimizing costs and going pure GURPS Prime Directive.
  • GURPS Prime Directive was a good starting point for templates and what-not, but now I almost never reference it.
  • GURPS Space is useful for star system and planet generation, and the occasional rule for dealing with different gravities and atmospheres.
  • GURPS Spaceships combat rules are good for giving every body something to do during a ship battle, but I've never used it to build ships.
  • GURPS Psionics Powers is indispensable if psionics will be a part of your campaign.
  • GURPS Ultra Tech is useful, as it is in any ultra tech setting.
  • my GURPS Star Trek webpage is amazing and should be used by anybody running an original series Star Trek campaign, but I may be biased.

Last edited by Captain Joy; 05-27-2019 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 05-27-2019, 06:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: Star Trek Campaigns: Prime Directive vs GURPS Space/Spaceships/Psionics 4e

Quote:
Originally Posted by rkbrown419 View Post
Differences between the two include: Klingons don't have forehead ridges or charge into modern combat carrying melee weapons instead of disruptors and their crews include several "Subject Races." No Borg. No Farengi, although the Orion Pirate cartels have some similarities. Several interstellar powers not in the series such as the Kizinti (felinoids greatly altered and expanded from those included in a TAS episode) the Lyrans (another feline speicies) and Hydrans (the armed methane breathers) who are on the far side of Klingon space from the Federation, The Inter-Stellar Concordium (a multi species empire beyond Gorn and Romulan Space.
This is good to know. Thank you!

I think you're right; I'll need to raise the point buy.
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Old 05-27-2019, 06:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Star Trek Campaigns: Prime Directive vs GURPS Space/Spaceships/Psionics 4e

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ezra View Post
BLUF: , I read that the phaser stats are also not good.

Lastly ...
How is GURPS Traveller? As far as I can tell, it's only available as a 3e product. Does it provide a better science fiction system though?
The phaser stats are not good. I may be thinking of an earlier edition Prime directive but in the one I have the "stun" setting for a Hand Phaser required a HT roll at -1. Did you ever see anyone shot with "stun" who didn't go down who wasn't a superhuman of some kind? At -1 you'll see one third of normal humans ignore phaser stun.

There's more like that. The smallest merchant ship in my version of PD had a crew of 30. So what about Cyrano Jones, interstellar trader and general nuisance (or was it general trader and interstellar nuisance)? I was once told that ADB was going to get to those (very common to my memory) one man scouts and traders at a future date.

So I wouldn't say that you'd be very Star Trek-like without some major mods. To take advanatage of player familiarity you need a setting where what they end up with is mostly what they expect.

There is an exception to Traveller being 3e only. Interstellar Wars is for 4e.
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Old 05-27-2019, 07:05 PM   #10
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Default Re: Star Trek Campaigns: Prime Directive vs GURPS Space/Spaceships/Psionics 4e

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
The phaser stats are not good. I may be thinking of an earlier edition Prime directive but in the one I have the "stun" setting for a Hand Phaser required a HT roll at -1. Did you ever see anyone shot with "stun" who didn't go down who wasn't a superhuman of some kind? At -1 you'll see one third of normal humans ignore phaser stun.
The standard Phaser has a -2 to the HT roll, still way too weak. The only way to stun someone reliably is to shoot them many times, which is very much not how the TV shows work (but might be how the SFB universe has worked). Damage for the 'kill' and 'disintegrate' settings seems reasonable and matches the armour available okay.
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