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If you ever get the chance, look up Mindjammer RPG. They have a really cool stellar system creator that I use along side Traveller Book 6: Scouts and this update to TB6:S about gas giants to get some fairly close to realistic systems (if that matters). It includes distances from stars and probable year length in there that I've used in my M-Space game. I have the standalone Mindjammer RPG for FATE, but I believe they recently updated it to Traveller.
Benjamin Medrano wrote:
I have mixed feelings on the setting of Starfinder. I love the aliens and the Drift, but I hate the Gap and the current treatment of elves. I'll probably do what I usually do and cannibalize parts of it I like to use with the stuff I've made up.
Yeah, further research into ants have revealed less of an authoritarian style of rule and something more akin to anarcho-mutualism. But they have such simple nervous systems that no one it really in charge, not even the queen and drones. So you can't attach a human government to an animal species that are essentially automatons. Most of their actions are run by a complex array of pheromones, not independent thought.
Also some colonies have multiple queens and ants don't each their males. That's more of a spider/mantis thing. Also the drones (breeding males and females) represent an important part of keeping the hive alive and making a new one. Fun fact, ants and bees reproduce haplodiploidly, which means that unfertilized eggs are always female while fertilized eggs are always male. This makes an unusual generation precedence where male drones have no fathers or sons, but they have grandfathers and grandsons.
I think it's a good idea to read about ants before using them as an example. They are fairly surprising. I know all this because I made an entire race of ant-like people for a game I am running.
A good example of this are Heinlein s characters, who he purposefully made minorities as a counter to heroes at the time. That said, rpgs are much more interactive and more done for fun, so not every one wants to deal with social issues at the table. This is especially true if you've dealt with them in real life.
Archmage Variel wrote:
Unfortunately, in my experience, whenever a player plays a bigoted character, it never really pans out as great as it sounds on paper. When a story is told about a bigoted character as a protagonist, it's usually following the story on how they meet a person of the race they hate and learn from each other, overcoming their bigotry. Remember the Titans is probably a good example of this, as is American History X (although a bit more violent). While most of the players I've played with that do it end up playing their character as more a joke character that makes snide remarks about drow or half orcs, with little character growth. Of course, seeing a PC get worse over the adventure is a type of character growth and is interesting, it also has the capability of rubbing players the wrong way. Especially people that have dealt with bigotry in the real world.
Maybe I've just been unlucky *shrug*
Jason Mosher wrote:
That is true. Unfortunately, I still just do not like how the elves have become xenophobic and unilateralist. It's been done before.
Personally I really liked how Dragon Age did elves. I thought it was a more fresh take for them while still keeping them different enough from humans to matter. Same with The Witcher 3. For a long time, I kinda hated elves and preferred half orcs. But it turns out, I just dislike aloof protagonists with a superiority complex :)
But I don't want to take up the entire topic and make it about elves. So far, Castrovel seems to be an interesting planet. I really like the potential dangers there with the wildlife that the players can interact with while planetside. I'm actually running an M-Space campaign where the players are exploring a planet similar, so I can mine some good ideas off of this.
When you make an entire culture hateful and isolationist with a superiority complex, it's hard to root for them in a story. Especially if you're dealing with elven NPCs or worse, an elven PC.
And the thing is... this isn't new stuff. Nothing was changed, but merely amplified to an almost caricaturish level. The elves of Kyonin are depicted about the same way in Second Darkness, only not as bad. There isn't anything creative or new or interesting about their culture that hasn't been done in other mediums (Eldar for example). And yes while they are not a core race anymore, people are going to want to play elves in Starfinder because it's elves.
It just feels like a poor treatment on a race that had the potential for an interesting and engaging culture in a new setting. Why have a new setting when we'll just have the same old cultures? It is a missed opportunity. I hope that dwarves and half-orcs get something better than this.
Not necessarily. It's definitely possible to keep to their own flavor while not making them oversimplified and stereotypical. Complexity and depth in a culture doesn't somehow equal bland. That's the issue I'm having is that the other aliens in Starfinder are fairly interesting and cool, with great ideas that are twists on standard space opera tropes. While the elves are just xenophobic isolationists, just like they've always been since Tolkien's time. Only turned up. It feels like a missed opportunity to do something unique and fun with the elves, and instead makes them even more unlikable and a caricature of elves. It's like no one learned from their mistakes with Second Darkness.
Besides, let's not forget that humans can be xenophobic and aloof isolationists. Arguably better at it than fake elves.
Alternatively, they could be a race not defined by an oversimplified monoculture and instead could have complexity and depth beyond "we hate everyone."
Anything would be better than taking the most disliked traits of elves and making it worse. I'll pass.
I'm disappointed in the treatment of elves. It's an unusual step backwards I feel, making them even more aloof and xenophobic and unlikable. I feel like given all of the ways they made many of the other alien races fresh and fun, this was a weird choice to take a stereotype that arguably many are tired of and bringing it more to the front. Definitely a missed opportunity imo.
As for the change in the Lashunta, I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I disagree that their depiction was problematic. On the other hand, I actually prefer this change to the lashunta. I find aliens that have different biological functions and capabilities to be cool, especially to see how a culture is built around it. And their ability to have different results of their puberty interests me moreso than the previous sexual dimorphism. So I think the retcon made the lashunta more interesting to me than the more cliche original pulp trope. Also I like their decentralized, more libertarian government style of a confederacy of city-states. Too often you just see either a space democracy or space empire, so it's cool to see something different and fresh in sci fi.
And for me, I really wanted to hear more about the formians. But I like ant people, so that's admittedly a bias for me.
Yeah, I feel you on that. I'll just stick with my black hair.
Jason Mosher wrote:
I disagree to a point. As we've seen in today's world, there is a great deal of misinformation on the internet. And that having the information to do something doesn't actually mean you can use it effectively. If I ready a WikiHow on doing brain surgery, that doesn't mean I can suddenly do it. Or that the WikiHow was even correct.
I think knowledge skills still have a place in sci fi games, both as a way to do specialized things and as a way to spot misinformation.
Depends on the ship I imagine. Star Wars and Traveller low balled how good computers would be in the future. Eclipse Phase gives some good ideas on how to do Stealth. Thing to remember is that not every ship will have those capabilities. Especially low end military and most civilian ships.
There's also hacking. It's doubtful that ships will have super advanced sapient virtual intelligence, so you can hack the ship's computer to leave you undetected from such measures.
As for knowledge checks, the way I've seen it done and I do them is to have basic knowledge freely available, but specific stuff that requires a degree take a bit longer to find, and with a higher chance of finding misinformation. Just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's true :)
Also it's better to focus on using information in an age where information can be found fairly easily.
Honestly, I always found that mindset silly, especially in a game where everything including the loot is imaginary. That's why I play the game to have fun, face challenges, and chill with friends. Because gp isn't real.
Reading Cepheus Engine, which is a retroclone of T1, there were rules for increasing skills. You could also get some stat boosts, but the importance of progression was based more on getting more money and doing the adventure, rather than getting experience for better stats. Which for me, I've honestly preferred adventuring and gaming for fun and the excitement rather than getting loot and XP.
Stellagama has a PWYW pdf that has a great deal of the stars around the sun. It's come in handy in my sci fi games, so I think you guys might enjoy it. It's more of the standard Traveller hexagon star map, but that is a bit simpler on the table than going full on 3d Cartesian map.
The link is here
There is also the level of automation that a ship can have. Earlier science fiction like Star Wars and Trek don't have a significant level of automation since that didn't fit the thoughts of science at the time. Especially Star Wars has a level of analogue tech (which I personally dig) that requires a person to run it. So ships like that would require a larger crew.
I like having the option to pay for automation for certain functions. Gunnery, Life Support, Engineering... things that you don't need a lot of people for. Maybe it costs less than hiring out a person, but you get a more limited use out of it. Or conversely, it costs more than hiring a person but there isn't a monthly salary/wage to pay the computer.
Not really. Space opera is generally defined by it's melodramatic tendencies, space warfare, romance (the classical term), and interstellar travel/communication. Science fantasy is simply science fiction with fantasy tropes in it. Supernatural, archaic governments, swords... It's really not hard to combine the two or eschew one for the other. Hell, Star Wars is a good example of a space opera/science fantasy mash up. So given that the main difference is in tone and not really rules, I think it should be easy to convert science fantasy to space opera.
Now, trying to turn Starfinder into a hard science fiction is probably a lot more hard and probably not worth the effort. Especially with games like Traveller/Cepheus Engine and Eclipse Phase that already does it.
This is very true. A constant issues I've had with games like Traveller/CE, Stars Without Number, M-Space, etc, is that there is a fairly limited amount of premade ships for use. Usually you have to find those with third party companies, but it'd be nice if there was a sort of bestiary for space ships. Call it the Shipyard or Fleet Log or something.
Of course with a souped up warp drive, you'll end up turning into salamanders.
Honestly, I'm really glad that they have avoided doing the Star Trek monocultures gimmick with a lot of the races. I get that simplifying aliens and their cultures makes it easier to describe them to players, but I always found that terribly dull, limiting, and uninteresting. So I'm glad that they didn't make the Shirren the standard 'hive mind collective insect race'.
What I've done in my current M Space game is that I have a race of insectoid-like creatures called formacids that are very much like ants. I gave them a haplodiploid reproduction cycle similar to ants and I try to set out how I imagine their culture, society, and government would generally play out.
The interesting thing about haplodiploidism is that males come from unfertilized eggs and have one X chromosome, while females come from fertilized eggs and have two X chromosomes. This has a peculiarity where the male drones don't actually have fathers or sons, but they do have grandfathers and grandsons. This makes the family unit really interesting.
I too went with two sexes but multiple genders based on their class (worker, soldier, etc), which affects classism in their society. However, I also subverted the ant social structure by trying to see how a democratic government would work for a eusocial alien race.
I don't know, other sci fi mediums give inspired names to their Swarm creatures and it seems to work out fine. Zerg, Tyranids, Rachni, Arachnoids.
I just feel like there could be more creativity in some of these names.
Good thing is that I left it open for editing if you want to add more stuff to it.
Get some green stuff and other sci fi models and kit bash them together, and you've got yourself a lizard man alien.
Generally when I do stuff for my sci fi game, I use an expanded system I made for gas giant classification. It starts with super earths and ocean worlds, and runs the spectrum to gas dwarf, ice giant (neptunian), gas giant (jovian), and finally brown dwarf. I mostly do it for flavor as well as to show the different resources the players can obtain to use, sell, or exploit. Or in case of gravity, to see if the players can escape from the gas giant's gravity if they go in to scoop for fuel.
Ryan Freire wrote:
As a GM for almost two decades, this kind of thinking leads to bad GMing.
Yes the GM puts in a lot of work into the game. No denying that. But ultimately, you're GMing for the players to show them a good time, not to control them. And in D&D, there's always going to be give and take from both the players and GM. If you're just going to force the players to do whatever you want or complain whenever a player makes a remark about the game, it's probably best not to GM.
It's like me being a chef. I generally have to accomodate the guest within reason. Allergies, stupid food requests, dietary restrictions. Sure, I can complain all I want when a customer orders something dumb, but ultimately, we give it to them if we are able to. A chef that makes no compromise won't be in business for very long. Believe that.
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