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Old 09-18-2017, 05:08 AM   #31
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

Maybe an overall frame with the different sub-genres localized, like in Reign of Steel?

Evil Space Empire over here,

Well-meaning but clueless Federation over there,

Noble sorta-democratic Space Empire there,

Chaotic warlord planets that way,

Incomprehensible Energy Beings the other way, etc?
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Old 09-18-2017, 08:30 AM   #32
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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Originally Posted by tbone View Post
Well said. I could be wrong, but I think that throughout this long Space Opera discussion, people's ideas for "campaign focus" or "mission statement" generally come down to those three: Space Exploration, Military Sci-Fi, and Scoundrels in Space.
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Yeah, I think you're largely right. Mind, I would actually count Space Opera proper as a fourth sub-genre, one which the other three could easily segue into. Any of the other three can have the stakes raised a bit, their characters given some personal reasons to get involved, and their decisions given a bit more weight than usual, and *poof*, you have space opera. It's why I like that selection so much.
The problem with counting space opera proper is a fourth genre is you haven't described what the characters will actually do. Yes, they battle for high stakes in exotic places for honorable and yet personal reasons, but what do these "battles" actually look like? I submit that any answer to that question will fit into the three options above. I also agree that one of those options is not enough for space opera though. You've got to have the stakes, the background, and the motives.

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Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
Space Opera itself, I'd define as stories that a) are set in space, or have space travel as a major, ongoing plot element, b) have higher than modern tech, c) involve characters influencing events on a scale larger than the strictly personal, and d) have characters whose motivations are personal.
I agree with these, but with some important caveats:

a) This isn't satisfied by a single generation ship that never leaves space, or setting things in a floating city. Space Opera demands a variety of exotic environments and cultures. You need odd people who live in bizarre ways, and a number of different ones, and strange environments, to primeval forests to wind swept deserts to enormous cities and space vessels.

b) Ultra tech is not specific enough. Space opera generally implies FTL, artificial gravity, psionics, and force-fields. It also requires a setting where modern culture humans are normal. You can have cyborgs, AI's, Virtual Reality, and cloning tanks, but most people came from their mother's womb and were raised in meat-space. These things can be raised to make aliens exotic or to make Characters special, but the reference society doesn't rely on having them.

Getting the tech right for space opera is important.

c) and d) stands as is.


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When I think of Space Opera, I think of Star Trek, not Star Wars.
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Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
I think that's a pretty idiosyncratic interpretation. "Space Opera", as a term, was coined (pejoratively, at the time) to describe science fiction stories that focused more on flashy descriptions, action, and such things rather than "hard" science. Things like the Buck Rogers ... Star Wars is the incarnation of space opera, not Star Trek.

In any case, the distinction, realism-wise, between Star Wars and Star Trek is not that great...
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It needs to a genericized SW, and not just SW with the serial numbers filed off, but something completely different than SW but which contains all the important elements of SW...

... If you can look at it and say it might be Star Wars, that's fine, but if you can look at it and it is obviously from SW, that's not fine.
If either star wars OR star trek is overly dominant in your product, you've done it wrong. You should be able to say it might be from star wars, or star trek, or star gate, or star whatever. But only in a very few cases should you say "That's obviously from star X!"

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Originally Posted by Humabout View Post
I still think all we need is GURPS Action 5 - Space Opera, but that might just be me.
But what would you put in it? I agree that it would go well with action, but what does the book need that action doesn't have?
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Old 09-18-2017, 10:13 AM   #33
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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Originally Posted by cptbutton View Post
Maybe an overall frame with the different sub-genres localized, like in Reign of Steel?
You could also separate sub-genres by time rather than space.

Strange New Worlds/Space Explorers goes along with Humanity's initial expansion into space.

Defenders of Civilization/Space Patrol in The Rise of the Empire part of the future history.

Scoundrels in Space is set as the Empire descends into Decadence.

Something like pure Military SF could be After the Fall.

This could also segregate TL and frequency of aliens with both increasing as the timeline advances..
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Old 09-18-2017, 11:30 AM   #34
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
The problem with counting space opera proper is a fourth genre is you haven't described what the characters will actually do. Yes, they battle for high stakes in exotic places for honorable and yet personal reasons, but what do these "battles" actually look like? I submit that any answer to that question will fit into the three options above.
I actually agree, yes. Space Opera, to me, is more of an "overlay" over another sub-genre. It informs and modifies other genre conventions and tropes, more than injecting a bunch of new ones of its own.

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Originally Posted by ericthered
I agree with these, but with some important caveats:

a) This isn't satisfied by a single generation ship that never leaves space, or setting things in a floating city.
Agreed. The element of travel in space is pretty crucial to the feel. You've got to visit different places.

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Originally Posted by ericthered
b) Ultra tech is not specific enough. Space opera generally implies FTL, artificial gravity, psionics, and force-fields.
This, though, I'd disagree on. All of these are certainly common to stories I'd categorize as "Space Opera", but they aren't universal. Even FTL isn't necessary - the TV show "Firefly", and particularly its movie, "Serenity", is pretty firmly Space Opera to me, but that setting doesn't seem to have FTL travel, it's all confined to a single (implausibly huge and crowded with habitable planets) solar system.

Which is not to say that I don't think the Space Opera boxed set shouldn't have rules for all these common techs - I think it definitely should! But I'd be cautious about listing a set of techs and saying "only stories with these are Space Opera".

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Originally Posted by ericthered
It also requires a setting where modern culture humans are normal. You can have cyborgs, AI's, Virtual Reality, and cloning tanks, but most people came from their mother's womb and were raised in meat-space. These things can be raised to make aliens exotic or to make Characters special, but the reference society doesn't rely on having them.
Agreed on this, at least mostly. I would put it as "technology can rarely improve an individual human". You don't cybernetically enhance your pilots, you don't genetically engineer individuals, producing a bunch of identically-trained clones doesn't win against a diverse force of regular humans, and so on.

Technology can have some broad societal-level impacts, though. Genetically engineering whole planetary populations (your Heavy/Light Worlders, aquatic humans, etc.) has a place in space opera, I'd say, and there are things like the holodecks of Star Trek that certainly have a cultural impact.
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Old 09-18-2017, 12:02 PM   #35
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
This, though, I'd disagree on. All of these are certainly common to stories I'd categorize as "Space Opera", but they aren't universal. Even FTL isn't necessary - the TV show "Firefly", and particularly its movie, "Serenity", is pretty firmly Space Opera to me, but that setting doesn't seem to have FTL travel, it's all confined to a single (implausibly huge and crowded with habitable planets) solar system.
That would be the exception that proves the rule then- either you need FTL, or you need to substitute it with a more implausibly crowded setting to compensate.
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Old 09-18-2017, 12:27 PM   #36
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
All of these are certainly common to stories I'd categorize as "Space Opera", but they aren't universal. Even FTL isn't necessary - the TV show "Firefly", and particularly its movie, "Serenity", is pretty firmly Space Opera to me, but that setting doesn't seem to have FTL travel, it's all confined to a single (implausibly huge and crowded with habitable planets) solar system.
A hypothetical boxed set should have what is commonly thought of as space opera, not everything that it can be.

Ask a bunch of people who don't hang around RPG or science fiction message boards what they think of when they hear the phrase "space opera." That's what it should be about. Let's assume they have a general understanding of the term and know that it's not about large sopranos wearing horned helmets belting out arias in outer space.
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Old 09-18-2017, 01:26 PM   #37
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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Let's assume they have a general understanding of the term and know that it's not about large sopranos wearing horned helmets belting out arias in outer space.
Ah, I'd been wondering what Kromm was working on as a sequel to GURPS: Cabaret Chicks on Ice
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Old 09-18-2017, 06:05 PM   #38
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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T2300
I enjoyed the heck out of the 2300AD setting, and would love to see a company like SJG (or, hmmm. . . ) take it and run.
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Old 09-18-2017, 08:22 PM   #39
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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But what would you put in it? I agree that it would go well with action, but what does the book need that action doesn't have?
Just adaptations for high TL, a simplified psi power with a pointer to Psionic Powers for more detail, a Psi class and background, Spacer background, an adaptation for Wheelman that turns him into a space pilot, simplified rules for space combat that mesh with the Chase rules, modifications to everything in Exploits to address ultra-tech equipment (I'd go very kitchen sink so GMs can simply omit that which they don't want to include, instead of making GMs invent rules for stuff not covered), Skill Specialties (Action 4) for space opera stuff, a Starship Crewman lens/mod for the Wire Rat so he can serve as an engineer/fire control/technician type, oh, and tons of simplified TL 10+ equipment. Oh, and we'd need to address robot and alien PCs.

Other than that, we don't need an entire product line. We certainly don't want a setting of any kind; that's not how SJGames does its worked example series. One Action book would provide rules for recreating everything from Star Wars to Star Trek to Foundation to Blade Runner to The Expanse to Starship Troopers to Dune.
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Old 09-18-2017, 08:22 PM   #40
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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I enjoyed the heck out of the 2300AD setting, and would love to see a company like SJG (or, hmmm. . . ) take it and run.
Doooo iiiiiiiiit!
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