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Old 09-18-2017, 08:42 PM   #41
DouglasCole
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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Doooo iiiiiiiiit!
I've got a few other things in the hopper right now, but it's a possibility, at least to ask the question. I can always do something in the spirit of it, though I'm loathe to spiritually pillage IP that way.
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Old 09-18-2017, 08:42 PM   #42
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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(SNIP)

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.
I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with you, here. If you create just another toolkit, then you just appeal to the same (tiny) core audience that buys GURPS, now.

A Space Opera kit has to include a setting, and at least a half-dozen pre-planned adventure modules in that setting, to allow a GM and a group to pick up a game in a hurry, and build on from there.

In the last thread, I proposed something similar to the Brian Daley's Third Breath setting, in the Hobart Floyt and Alacrity Fitzhugh books.

Provide a wide-open, rollicking space-cowboy setting like that, with a series of modules that allow the party to wind up with their own beat-up, seen-better-days starship, and you might have a winner.
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Old 09-18-2017, 08:49 PM   #43
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with you, here. If you create just another toolkit, then you just appeal to the same (tiny) core audience that buys GURPS, now.

A Space Opera kit has to include a setting, and at least a half-dozen pre-planned adventure modules in that setting, to allow a GM and a group to pick up a game in a hurry, and build on from there.

In the last thread, I proposed something similar to the Brian Daley's Third Breath setting, in the Hobart Floyt and Alacrity Fitzhugh books.

Provide a wide-open, rollicking space-cowboy setting like that, with a series of modules that allow the party to wind up with their own beat-up, seen-better-days starship, and you might have a winner.

I think this is the point the people recommending the framework over a worked example are overlooking. The more work it is, the less likely people will buy the box set.

That said, I think there's something to letting people have a peek beneath the hood, which is why I said have notes on how to tweak things and recommend books if the GM is interested in seeing how to expand things
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Old 09-18-2017, 09:29 PM   #44
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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I think this is the point the people recommending the framework over a worked example are overlooking. The more work it is, the less likely people will buy the box set.
I don't believe we're overlooking the point. We disagree with it. A fixed setting on a product like this inherently limits your audience. Some fraction of the potential buyers of a Space Opera boxed set will like the particular setting you come up with. Inevitably, a larger fraction probably won't. Some fraction of those people will buy it anyway, to strip the setting-specific elements out and use it for their own preferred millieux. Others won't bother at all. Fixing a setting only saves work for the people who are actually interested in that specific setting.

It's actually saving work for the majority of the market that I'm suggesting the Space Opera should cover a wide range of potential setting elements for the genre or genres it details. It's easier to build a setting by selecting from the elements provided, rather than taking some elements tightly tied to an existing setting, reworking them to fit your own, and then creating out of whole cloth the elements that weren't in the specific setting at all.

Let's say, for example, that our hypothetical specific setting has an alien race of Proud Warriors who are cat-people, lasers are the default hand weapon, and ships defend themselves by having hulls that are basically invulnerable. But I don't want to play that setting. Instead, my Proud Warrior Race are bumpy-foreheaded humanoids who like spikey bits on everything, hand weapons are either disintegrators, shoot some kind of phased plasma, or just magically stun people, depending on the setting, and ships have okay armor but really good forcefields. There are cat-people, but they're sneaky, dexterous types. So now, for the original material to be at all useful to me, I have to separate the Proud Warrior Race bits from the cat-people, and add bumpy-forhead traits to the proud warriors and sneakiness to the cat people. The ships are only partially useful, in that I have to figure out how to adjust their stats to give them vulnerable hulls, and force screens which I have no rules for. And the hand weapons are completely useless, I have to invent the ones I want out of whole cloth.

What I'd much rather see is a set of templates that let me build aliens based on their species, and then slap a "narrative role" character template on top of that, a selection of weapons with some guidelines as to which ones work with which tech assumptions, and several different types of spaceships I could pick and choose from. That way, yes, I have to do some work when building the setting, but it's not that significant, and everyone is in the same boat. I strongly feel that "X amount of work for all customers" is a better marketing model than "0 work for 10% of the customers, X*10 amount of work for the other 90%".
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Old 09-18-2017, 10:13 PM   #45
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

For what it is worth, having seen all of the posts on this thread thus far and the diversity of opinions...

Dungeon Fantasy: does it have a single arc for a story line, a single background entirely - or goes it have a general "frame" and the GM then decided what to emphasize or de-emphasize?

Think of it like a car. It has to have 4 wheels to be called a car, along with a driver seat (GM's), passenger seats (Players), and a destination to arrive at. Would I use Psionics in a Space Opera or Sci-fi campaign? Usually not. With Traveller, I think I ran maybe one or two campaigns with psionics in it, and then shunned it entirely. However, knowing that there are those who want to run a DUNE style campaign - I'd say have a basic set of rules for it, very minimal, with perhaps role convents built in (or is that character plot protection?). The GURPS SPACESHIPS rules for trade look doable and reasonable. The Action line of PDF's could likely be parleyed into the SPACE OPERA BOX SET easily enough. So, where do people usually struggle the most for their campaigns?

Usually, it is a function of "timelines" or background history for the space opera.

Now, take a step back and think about this a moment...

Create a timeline, call it the "early years". That's for those who want the lower tech stuff, and want a background history of sorts. Emphasize or de-emphasize "elements" (sort of like when you bake a cake - there is one general recipe for it, but it has differences between cake recipes that make each cake relatively unique).

Then have the mid-years. This is when mankind actually develops an Early FTL drive. It doesn't have much in the way of "Legs" (or the ability to span great distances). If the Space Opera box set is done correctly, it will generally be a 3-D co-ordinate system. Why? Let's say that Doug Cole wants to run an analog of Traveller 2300. With a low distance FTL drive that is limited, he can recreate his Travller 2300esque game with out having to change a single darned thing. The early years doesn't interest him, but the Mid-years do. Me? I'd LOVE the early years, when Mars more or less reasonably gets a strong effort towards colonization. THE MILLENNIAL PROJECT might prove to be a fertile ground for a "timeline" if you will.

Then come the later years. Mankind's tinkering with FTL has finally produced the X-drive. Man has been in space a LONG time.

Now we can do TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE as a campaign style if needed. We can do the CO-Dominion books maybe. How about MUTINEER'S MOON? Downbelow Station?

The basic "frame" is the time line. The parts that go onto the frame will be the technological presumptions (assumptions?) required to make the genre work at that point in the time line.

Those who want Psiwars - they add to the mix, a LOT of the PSI stuff. Those who want the augmented personnel (such as MUTINEER's MOON) where the Imperials can lift 10 times what normal humans can, can access computer files directly via Direct neural interaface etc - aren't concentrating on "cyberpunk" so much as enhanced humans. Transhumanism also gets to have its place (which would fit in very well with a Traveller 2300 style campaign).

So, build the frame first - add the elements that make the vehicle spaceworthy (so to speak) for the Sci-fi Space Opera Set.

DUNGEON FANTASY doesn't LOCK you into one story for all players who want to play DFRPG does it? the SORPG (Space Opera Fantasy Role Playing Game) should be the same. It should basically do the bulk of the work, give the rules required for the flavor the GM wants to run, and then step out of the way.

Equipment lists? yes.

Early Age limits on Equipment lists? Yes.

Mid age limits on Equipment lists? Yes (and use the early list for "antiques")

Late age limits on equipment lists? Hmm, everything the GM wants, plus all of the other stuff included.

And just to be a pain in the buttocks? It would be nice if the SORPG contained the near 50 to 100 light year radius from earth already pre-generated. Or failing that? How about a file online, that the purchaser of the box set can go online and download for the game?

How many have ever played with FTL:2448? Remember the long slim FTL ships that were largely rectangular "frames" with the habitable section of the ship at the front, and the FTL drive at the rear? GURPS SPACESHIPS could be used to build those. The FTL drives are not "fixed" by the game so much as chosen by the ship designer as a switch. That fits right in with a Space Opera style game in my opinion.

But, be as that may be, the powers that be who finalize the whole project, assuming that they even bother to do one, is likely to not fit what we're speculating on now.

On that note, I'll leave you to your fun. ;)
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Old 09-18-2017, 10:37 PM   #46
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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Originally Posted by tshiggins View Post
I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with you, here. If you create just another toolkit, then you just appeal to the same (tiny) core audience that buys GURPS, now.

A Space Opera kit has to include a setting, and at least a half-dozen pre-planned adventure modules in that setting, to allow a GM and a group to pick up a game in a hurry, and build on from there.

In the last thread, I proposed something similar to the Brian Daley's Third Breath setting, in the Hobart Floyt and Alacrity Fitzhugh books.

Provide a wide-open, rollicking space-cowboy setting like that, with a series of modules that allow the party to wind up with their own beat-up, seen-better-days starship, and you might have a winner.
Just how DF has a tiny core audience? That has no setting, but judgung by the kickstarter's success, there appear to be plenty of people who were willing to put money up before a product even existed.

A lack of core setting is not a detriment in the least, it would seem. In fact, it is an asset - especially for anything science fiction. I love acifi. It's what I grew up on. I have never bought a single scifi RPG specifically because I don't care about their settings. I don't want a bunch of rules for a specific setting that I will then have to alter and "fix" so they do what I want them to. And I'm not alone. The shear number of arguments over what is space opera on these boards speaks to the variation in tastes and preferences.

By releasing a framework, you can address not only space opera, but a huge swath of cinematic science fiction. That lets SJGames hit a broader market than just a space opera line. And it hits a mich, much broader market than a specific space opera setting.
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Old 09-19-2017, 08:47 AM   #47
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

Ideally, its a framework, not a setting, and not a setting builder book.

For reference, look at Horror, Monster Hunters, and Madness Dossier.

Madness Dossier is a setting. It gets into the nitty gritty of history and organizations. It only does one setting and possibly some closely related. I've never played a madness Dossier setting.

Horror is a setting builder book. Its full of great advice on how to build monsters and run horror games. But it requires a lot of work to get started. It can do "Any" horror setting, and as a consequence it does none of them quickly. I've used Horror, but I've never sat down and used the book to build a campaign. I've borrowed tools from it occasionally.

Monster Hunters is a framework. It has all the pieces of a setting, but it leaves out the history, the organizations, and the locations. It puts in the character templates, a mostly complete set of monsters, and assumed magic systems. You can build a Monster Hunters setting in 15 minutes (though I usually take a bit longer). And it will feel like its own setting, different from another monster hunters setting. I've sat down said "I'm going to run a monster hunters game", and then did so.

One of my favorite sections of Monster Hunters is "A Dark Reflection", where it instructs you how to build your campaign and setting. If a space opera set doesn't have that, I will be sorely disappointed.
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Old 09-19-2017, 02:59 PM   #48
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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Monster Hunters is a framework. It has all the pieces of a setting, but it leaves out the history, the organizations, and the locations. It puts in the character templates, a mostly complete set of monsters, and assumed magic systems. You can build a Monster Hunters setting in 15 minutes (though I usually take a bit longer). And it will feel like its own setting, different from another monster hunters setting. I've sat down said "I'm going to run a monster hunters game", and then did so.
Monster Hunters assumes an activity, though--hunting monsters. Space Opera does not really have a unifying activity for the PCs to engage in. Is it fighting the oppressive empire? Invading aliens? Boldly going? Galactic palace intrigue? Smuggling? Colonizing? The variety of possibilities makes the "framework" wind up a lot more like a "builder book" which would probably be more or less one that already exists: Space.
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Old 09-19-2017, 03:13 PM   #49
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

While not space opera a monster hunters themed sci-fi game seem like something that will fit in a boxed set. X-COM has a solid presence in the computer game field and humans vs alien invaders has been a staple of fiction for at least a century.
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Old 09-19-2017, 03:30 PM   #50
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Default Re: Spitballing a Space Opera Boxed Set

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Monster Hunters assumes an activity, though--hunting monsters. Space Opera does not really have a unifying activity for the PCs to engage in. Is it fighting the oppressive empire? Invading aliens? Boldly going? Galactic palace intrigue? Smuggling? Colonizing? The variety of possibilities makes the "framework" wind up a lot more like a "builder book" which would probably be more or less one that already exists: Space.
Check up thread. They came up with a list:

Exploration
Military Action
Scoundrels in space

As for your list:

Much of your list can fit into those three. And usually its not that some elements you listed don't fit, its that parts of the ones you listed don't fit, and those parts are where a lot of the bloat come in.

There are lots of ways to play a "Resist the empire" game. But if you're not hiding out on obscure planets, fighting in spaceship battles against them, and associating with said scoundrels, you're not in the core of space opera, and the product doesn't need to support it.

Many alien invasions aren't space opera. But the ones that are focus on the exploration (often of the invader's ships and lands) and militarily opposing the invaders.

Colonizing in space probably isn't space opera. Unless the fate of the universe is in the balance, and you have to deal with attacks and explore inexplicably deadly terrain. In which case it is, and we're back to military action and exploration.
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