Monday, June 14, 2010

Your Cloak of Resistance Is Futile

After an impromptu Dungeons & Dragons session this weekend that was 0% dungeon and 100% spaceship (though there were indeed space dragons), I began to actively long for a sci-fi tabletop RPG that I could get into as much as I get into D&D. Now, I know that there's Star Wars RPG, Shadowrun, and something called Dark Heresy (which, admittedly, I know virtually nothing about, but it sounds kinda dark and heretical), and I'm itching to try out the Serenity RPG as soon as a certain blogging buddy is fully initiated as a Browncoat... But these are not exactly my kind of sci-fi, at least for an RPG.

I'll admit up front that my tabletop RPG knowledge is almost entirely limited to D&D, but it seems like the sci-fi options I'm aware of are too gritty, dystopian, low-tech, heavy on fantasy elements, and light on space travel for my taste.

I like Star Wars, but the universe is too huge and history-rich for a casual fan like me to swoop in and start creating adventures, especially when my likeliest players would be calling me out on everything that inadvertently goes against canon. Plus, Star Wars feels like equal parts fantasy and sci-fi at times, what with the Force and the I-can't-believe-it's-not-magic special abilities of some of the alien races. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm in the market for something different.

I can't really talk about Shadowrun and Dark Heresy, as I've neither played them nor heard/read too much about them, but I'm just not getting the vibe that they're entirely up my alley. I could explain myself, but if you've followed the blog for any length of time, you probably don't need much of an explanation. (And if you're just joining us here on Exfanding Your Horizons, there's a whole archive to explore! Shameless plug!)

Firefly/Serenity is my second-favorite sci-fi series, but the characters, storytelling, and fine fusion of western and science fiction are the main attractions for me--it's wonderful to watch, but I'm more interested in watching than actually being there.

Star Trek, on the other hand... I'd love to live Star Trek.

Visiting Star Trek: The Exhibition allowed me to fulfill one of my lifelong dreams: I got to be on Star Trek. Or, as close as I'll probably ever get--a replica of the bridge of the Enterprise-D, complete with sound effects and stars flying by on the viewscreen.

There's something wholly satisfying about connecting with your favorite fandom in a tangible way, but Star Trek is more than a fandom; it's the kind of future that I hope is in store for humanity. Sure, I could do without Borg invasions and transporter accidents combining my DNA with the guy beaming up with me, but the notion that humanity can overcome poverty and injustice and fly around the galaxy in sleek spaceships is one that I wholeheartedly embrace.

Thus, I'd love to live Star Trek.

Seems like the perfect RPG for me--a world I'd like to be a part of, plenty of options for characters and adventures, and a history and mindset that I've been in touch with since I was a kid. I know there's a Star Trek RPG that came out in the early 2000s, but sourcebooks cost money. There's also the question of availability, and the risk associated with buying used books from people you've never met. I don't deal with bootleg PDFs--I want hardcopy sourcebooks.

The other option seems to be a GURPS adaptation of Star Trek--people keep talking about this GURPS thing, you know--but the preliminary research I've done makes it look like GURPS only offers an alternate reality of the Kirk-era Star Trek. I could certainly work with that, but then I wouldn't get to ride in the Delta Flyer or stage an unlikely encounter between the Crystalline Entity and the Jem'Hadar.

For a while there, I was thinking about making my own Star Trek RPG. I've always wanted to design an RPG. How hard could it possibly be? How much time could it possibly take? How much research and playtesting could possibly be necessary to assemble a completely functional game?

I hope you can smell the "rhetorical" emanating from that last paragraph.

There's Star Trek Online, but I have issues with the very nature of MMORPGs. I have no doubt that there are other possibilities... but I'm looking for something that'll require some combination of time, effort, and almost certainly money to acquire.

For now, perhaps, I'll stick with my space dragons.


A Philosophical Nerd said...

Were you talking about the Star Trek RPG by Decipher (the makers of the Star Trek: CCG)? If so, I bought their first two sources books, Player's Guide and Narrator's Guide. It's really a fantastic game, and I've even hosted several sessions of the Star Trek RPG. It's really well done, and really you're only limited by your imagination with that game. You can tell stories set within the scope of one of the series', or begin your own series, if you wish. If you ever see them in the store, I'd highly recommended picking them up or at least checking them out. There were many other source books made, but the series was eventually discontinued, as was the CCG.

Also, I'd be interested in hearing what you take issue with about MMORPG's.

A Philosophical Nerd said...

Also, I got to live out my Star Trek dream when I went to Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas. I've been there several times, and you actually go through a brief encounter with the Starship Enterprise. When it was new, I actually paid to have my picture taken in the captain's chair on the bridge. That was amazing, an exprience I'll never forget.

Scott said...

You could always do a fantasy-sci-fi thing... start with regular D&D characters, then shift them to a futuristic universe somehow and just keep using D&D rules. Take monsters, tweak them, rename them. Create new skills as the campaign goes on and award them to characters as they become more acclimated to the technology and environment. Sounds like fun to me!

Flashman85 said...

APN: That's the one. I couldn't find many good reviews of the Decipher RPG, but if what you say is true, then it's on my to-buy list.

I had a similar experience with Star Trek: The Exhibition, and despite the slightly commercialistic bent it had to it, it was a phenomenal experience to walk the bridge of the Enterprise-D and sit in the Big Chair.

My beef with MMORPGs is that I like my games to have a clear ending point; even in sandbox games like SimCity and Animal Crossing, there comes a point when there's not really much you can/want to do.

I'm also a single-player type of gamer; multiplayer is fun for a few rounds of something here and there, and it's good for teamwork games like Tales of Symphonia and X-Men Legends, but I don't want to have to work around other people who aren't under the same roof to be able to quest effectively, nor do I want to deal with the immaturity and rudeness that can interfere with the gaming experience.

Also, the monthly fees bug me, and coming back to the game after not having played it for months could mean you're returning to a totally new game. Effectively, there's nothing a MMORPG has to offer that is more appealing to me than what a single-player or traditional multiplayer game has.

Scott: Ah, but see, I much prefer pure sci-fi; the futuristic setting was fun for a one-shot, but I'd want a universe with characters who were meant to be there for a sustained campaign.