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.