Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > Roleplaying in General

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 11-18-2007, 09:08 AM   #1
Pmandrekar
Careful Wisher
 
Pmandrekar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Oregon, WI
Default How Hard is your Science Fiction?

As an offshoot discussion of the Difficulties of SF vs. Fantasy, I thought that it might be interesting to have this discussion.

I like running Science Fiction. And I am alternately hot and cool towards running gritty, "Hard" SF with a lot of hard science, as opposed to running Buck Rogers type campaigns with "ray guns" and 'flying cars'

How hard do your SF campaigns run? Do you have a strong preference for one extreme or another?

For the purposes of this discussion, anything that you consider Science Fiction is fair game, I don't want people pushing out examples like "Star Wars" which certainly has elements of Science Fiction but borders on other genre titles.

Also, as has been pointed out, some people exclude "rubber science" Science Fiction as not being Science Fiction. For the purposes of this discussion, let's assume that there is a continuum from the downright silly but entertaining end (I'm thinking that Star Wars, or Buck Rogers is closer to this extreme) to the extremely hard SF campaigns where it's not at all unreasonable to think that science can get to that point.

GATTACA, for example, is something that one could technically accomplish *now*, with enough information about which genotypes in the human genome are advantageous or disadvantageous, and with high density genetic testing, one could easily do enough testing to put people into different genetic categories based upon their over all genetic health, as predicted in their genes.

Instead of arguing with other people's preferences, what I'm hoping to do is let you discuss your own preferences, what it is about your own choices as a GM that energize you about Science Fiction.

-P.
__________________
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
P. Mandrekar, Geneticist and Gamer
Rational Centrist
"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts"- Daniel P. Moynihan
Pmandrekar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2007, 09:21 AM   #2
Phantasm
 
Phantasm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: On the road again...
Default Re: How Hard is your Science Fiction?

My own tastes in science fiction is about the middle, rather than one of the extremes. So long as the science isn't wrong (it doesn't have to be 100% right, however) and internally consistent, I'm fine.

Right now, my current game prospectus includes a number of science fiction games. The one is set on a pressure dome mining colony on Titan; another is set on a centrifugal-force simulated gravity station in a sublight interstellar war, with "patrol boats" which are essentially oversized five-person flying tanks being the smallest possible craft (no fighters as yet). These lean closer to the "hard" end of the spectrum, to be sure, but I've also had fun with "soft" science in my Rebellion-era Star Wars game last year. (If you ignore the Jedi, you get closer to real science fiction.)
__________________
"Life ... is an Oreo cookie." - J'onn J'onzz, 1991

"But mom, I don't wanna go back in the dungeon!"

The GURPS Marvel Universe Reboot Project A-M and N-Z, and its not-a-wiki-really web adaptation.
Ranoc, a Muskets-and-Magery Renaissance Fantasy Setting
Phantasm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2007, 09:24 AM   #3
Phoenix_Dragon
 
Phoenix_Dragon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: How Hard is your Science Fiction?

I prefer hard SF, and tend to game such, as well. I generally have a tendancy toward realism that I try to aim for in most of my games (Even my current kilopoint fantasy game uses all the harsh-realism rules, but then tops it all off with cinematic abilities that let these supremely-powerful, divinely-empowered beings break some of these rules).

It kind of goes to the whole suspension of disbelief thing, for me. And for the high-power campaigns, the added sense that something major was really accomplished, despite the difficulty. That, and (for me) it tends to reinforce more and different means of acomplishing things, as the straight-forward "I kill them" response is often not a very good one. Though, a tactically intelligent version of that might... :>
Phoenix_Dragon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2007, 10:12 AM   #4
David Johnston
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Default Re: How Hard is your Science Fiction?

I have very little use for hard science fiction, except in modern roleplaying. The appeal of science fiction to me is getting to visit strange new worlds with unique new worlds and societies separate from those of Earth. Those are not possible with really hard science fiction. The solar system is made up of dead rocks and the stars are out of reach without a technology so unimaginable at the moment that making it "hard" is simply laughable.
David Johnston is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2007, 10:35 AM   #5
sambudak
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Soldotna, AK
Default Re: How Hard is your Science Fiction?

My only experience with SF RPG is of course Traveller. I consider the canon stuff to be middle-of-the-road as far as how much science and how much handwavian stuff is going on.

The softer the "S" the more accessible the game is to all the players IMO. I used to play MT with a physicist and he never once called foul-- preferring to let the game universe be just that.
sambudak is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2007, 11:18 AM   #6
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: How Hard is your Science Fiction?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pmandrekar
How hard do your SF campaigns run? Do you have a strong preference for one extreme or another?
Let's analyze the data on what I've run:

Kafer Outbreak (2300 AD): Generally hard sf in spirit, but with stutterwarp FTL: call it +1

Uplift (GURPS): Focused on trade, alien cultures, practical jokes, sex, and personnel problems on a merchant starship: 0

First Contact (GURPS): Based on one paragraph in Olaf Stapledon's The Star Maker; focused on diplomacy and potential inter planetary war; no FTL, but assumed that entire planets could be launched into interstellar space: +1

Whispers (GURPS): Private investigators in the Montréal of Transhuman Space: no FTL, and serious worldbuilding: somewhere between +1 and +2

I'd say that I tend toward the "hard SF" side, but I'm not necessarily focused on the tech, and I may allow one "impossible assumption" such as FTL. So called it midway between firm and hard, maybe.

Bill Stoddard
whswhs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2007, 12:08 PM   #7
ravenfish
 
Join Date: May 2007
Default Re: How Hard is your Science Fiction?

Myself, I like SF fairly hard. Just personal preference- technology doesn't work as well as a belief suspension device for me as magic does. I will, however, often use non-hard science if the setting seems to call for it- and any multi-system setting, no matter how hard in other respects, almost *needs* a FTL drive (unless you like playing on generation ships), and I like big universes.
ravenfish is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2007, 12:49 PM   #8
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: How Hard is your Science Fiction?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pmandrekar

Instead of arguing with other people's preferences, what I'm hoping to do is let you discuss your own preferences, what it is about your own choices as a GM that energize you about Science Fiction.
The last SF camapign setting, generally known as Gloria Monday" (which I've run twice with different groups) was created in response to a request for "Gurps Firefly". The resulting homage/knock-off was probably harder than Firefly and quite a bit harder than Traveller.

This is not say it was truly hard it's just that the whole suite of rubber science came as the result of a single phenomenon. This was the ability to convert normal matter into short-lived "pseudo particles" through a process somehow related to vacuum fluctuations and higher dimensions.

So power was total conversion rather than fission or fusion and total conversion engines provided thrust without annoying exhaust radiation. A "drive field" of psuedo particles enabled hyperdynamic flight as well as ftl along specified jumplines. There was artificial gravity as well.

Careful manipulation of factors like this in Ve2 let me come up with very cheap starships by most people's standards. They were also fairly small by soem setting's standards. I don't think anyone staring down a Kza'deKenor's broadside would have called it small but it would only have come to 600 Dtons. <shrug> Traveller ships are huge.

That might have been all the rubber science though. I never crunched the math real hard but there were Transhuman Space-like limits of how much heat you could handle and even big ships mounted few energy weapons (all lasers).

Most space weapons were e-mag cannons and missile launchers. Their projectiles were equiped with "sustainer coils" that enabled them to take a piece of the launching ship's drive field with it for about a second. This extended their range by a factor of about a thousand.

Personal weapons were slugthrowers. Either e-mags for the core worlds or caseless ammo for the frontier planets.

The Core Worlds were TL10 and the outer worlds were TLs 8-9 depending on population and how many minifacs they could import.

The Gloria Monday was 45 yrears old and still flying even if the emergency power system only covered 90% of the life support ssytem. :).

It was fun and the tech stuff seemed to work well.

Fred Brackin
Fred Brackin is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2007, 07:37 PM   #9
Gold & Appel Inc
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: One Mile Up
Default Re: How Hard is your Science Fiction?

I like my Sci Fi like my eggs: Over Easy with firm edges of logical consistency but a yummy center of runny golden hand-wavium (usually FTL comms and travel, at least, though I have been kicking around an idea for an all-hard game set on a generation ship).
Gold & Appel Inc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2007, 10:17 PM   #10
RevBob
 
RevBob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Here on the perimeter, there are no stars
Default Re: How Hard is your Science Fiction?

For me, it depends on what I'm in the mood for - especially as I'm doing a whole lot more reading than game-plotting these days. I just finished a handful of Star Trek books and am in the middle of a trio of modern fantasy books, the next one on that stack being the cyberpunk dark fantasy I mentioned on the other thread. After that...I dunno. I've got a moderately slutty socio-SF book that I wouldn't mind getting to, and there's another Trek book I just can't seem to get into but am making occasional progress with. Then again, I've got the final book in a decently-hard SF trilogy making its presence known....

You just never can tell. I might finish the Dresden Files book that I'm in the middle of and hop over to some Tom Holt comic fantasy. I'm mercurial that way. :) Suffice it to say that as long as I can get into the story, I'm game no matter how rigorous the science is (or isn't). I'll dive into some Robert Sawyer just as fast as I will the new Star Wars novel.
__________________
Find me at @RevBobTnJ * Goodreads

Looking for a St. Aosbczkcs medal.
RevBob is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:17 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.