On the Sci-fi Side: How 'Hard' is Hard Enough?


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Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There's always a danger when you try to apply too much real-world science to science fiction, let alone fantasy. Still, I'm curious about how people plan to approach the hard science, the physics and cosmology of reality, to their Starfinder setting. Will you be limiting two-way interplanetary communication, because Castrovel and Akiton are 20 light-minutes apart? Will your planetary systems never include blue giant primaries, because those stars are far too young to have developed a solar system? Or is all that too much to worry about, and not any fun besides?


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My rule is gonna be "would I complain if Star Wars did this?" If I'd be cool with Star Wars doing it, it's cool for Starfinder. Which, basically, means a minor hand-wave is good enough for me to buy anything.


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Shisumo wrote:
There's always a danger when you try to apply too much real-world science to science fiction, let alone fantasy. Still, I'm curious about how people plan to approach the hard science, the physics and cosmology of reality, to their Starfinder setting. Will you be limiting two-way interplanetary communication, because Castrovel and Akiton are 20 light-minutes apart? Will your planetary systems never include blue giant primaries, because those stars are far too young to have developed a solar system? Or is all that too much to worry about, and not any fun besides?

I dont feel any particular need to get gritty and realistic with science and the actual hardships of space. between magic and technology i dont see the need to make everything so distant and dangerous unless i am aiming for a story about being stranded in the dark... and i suspect that even if i was trying to do such a story, the PCs would have abilities to send messages FTL or supernaturally kludge a working drive together.

I spent a while wondering about effects of exposure to space under the idea of doing something about like that but kind of gave up when i realized that even a level 1 suit seems to offer complete protection from space. I just dont think it will be a constant threat in the setting.

Liberty's Edge

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FTL comms and travel exist in Pathfinder, so that, at least, shouldn't be an issue.

Liberty's Edge

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Travel yes, but I'm not so sure about comms. Mention was made of using the Drift to launch message packets back and forth in drones or on small carrier vessels, so I don't think interplanetary or interstellar communication is realtime.


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One of the previews mentioned that interstellar missions required sending probes carrying messages through the Drift, but I would assume real time comms is feasible within a well-populated system.


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A fair bit of sci-fi comes down to the Hyperdrive Motivator, also known as "The thing that makes it work". XD I hope they'll at least try to stick pretty close to real-world development of solar systems, though - or, failing that, a reasonably plausible explanation for the difference.


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In general, if I'm looking for hard sci fi, I'd stick to Traveller or M-Space. I think the fantasy of it is a bit more hard wired into this. Not that it's bad, just I think I want to play to the system's strengths. But we won't know until it comes out.


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In science fiction "hard" just means sticking as close to the real, current, science as possible.

However as any real scientist will tell you real science changes based on how much evidence you gain amd what engineering does to your tools. Finer more precise tools, better info.

So add on to that the confirmed existence of gods, the supernatural, and extradimensional p[laces and you have a whole host of things you can get away with.

tl;dr, Leave hard sci-fi to Traveller and Eclipse Phase which are much better at it.


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I find 'hard' focuses too much on the toys and not enough on the characters... and usually comes across as absurd a decade or two later.

That said, I'm really sure it isn't an issue with starfinder. We're way in the realm of wacky and magic already. (Which is a good thing. 'Serious' treatments of space tend to be on the dull side. Lots of travel time with ridiculously small odds of running into anything, food on other planets isn't compatible and on and on).


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So... you're reading too much Gadget, and not enough Adventure or Social? (Context.)

Liberty's Edge

Shisumo wrote:
Travel yes, but I'm not so sure about comms. Mention was made of using the Drift to launch message packets back and forth in drones or on small carrier vessels, so I don't think interplanetary or interstellar communication is realtime.

In Starfinder? Probably, or at least that's what they've indicated. It does, however, require that Pathfinder's Sending (edit: and Gate, and teleportation circle, and...) get nerfed or retconned.

It probably makes for a better story experience to have expeditions out beyond the range of the Interstellar Communications Network.

I am, however, hoping that the magic is less hand-wavy and a lot of the obvious physics exploits are dealt with in Starfinder. Otherwise we may wind up with Starships powered by decanters of endless water or permanent walls of flame.

Sending:

You contact a particular creature with which you are familiar and send a short message of 25 words or less to the subject. The subject recognizes you if it knows you. It can answer in like manner immediately. A creature with an Intelligence score as low as 1 can understand the sending, though the subject’s ability to react is limited as normal by its Intelligence. Even if the sending is received, the subject is not obligated to act upon it in any manner.

If the creature in question is not on the same plane of existence as you are, there is a 5% chance that the sending does not arrive. (Local conditions on other planes may worsen this chance considerably.)


TarkXT wrote:

In science fiction "hard" just means sticking as close to the real, current, science as possible.

However as any real scientist will tell you real science changes based on how much evidence you gain amd what engineering does to your tools. Finer more precise tools, better info.

So add on to that the confirmed existence of gods, the supernatural, and extradimensional p[laces and you have a whole host of things you can get away with.

tl;dr, Leave hard sci-fi to Traveller and Eclipse Phase which are much better at it.

Even in Traveller, things aren't completely hard. Rolling up a sector would leave a lot of M class stars and very little habitable worlds. While you can have adventures in all kinds of barren and hostile worlds, a little hospitable world here and there helps to liven up the area.

And yeah, things changing really makes certain aspects of hard science hard to keep up with. For example, in Book 6 Scouts of Traveller OG, you can't have a gas giant in a close orbit (like Mercury). But since that has been published, we've found out that is actually very common. Same thing in Eclipse Phase, where it had the planet Tyche as a real thing. But since then, we've proven that it does not exist.

That's the problem with hard science. Hard to keep up with it. So it's better to accept a certain level of softness so to speak for ease of the game.


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Johnico wrote:
My rule is gonna be "would I complain if Star Wars did this?" If I'd be cool with Star Wars doing it, it's cool for Starfinder. Which, basically, means a minor hand-wave is good enough for me to buy anything.

This.

For me, I like games to have that cinematic feel. Realism sucks. I want that super awesome summer blockbuster feel when I see people clinging to the side of jets and defusing a bomb before strapping a parachute to motorcycle and screaming off through the sky.

For space 'Would Star Wars do it' is a great benchmark... I also tend to add in would this work in 'James Bond, Indiana Jones, A-team, Mission Impossible' and will we still be talking about it 20 years from now. THAT'S what makes Roleplaying fun. Sitting with friends 20 years later talking about that time you were enlarged and your monk throat punched a dragon or outraced a black hole. Not the debates about how long a message should take to go from one place to another.

Much like the rest of the rule books, Science should enhance the game... not cripple it.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The more realistic the science gets, the more boring the game will be. Stick to science fiction science for a game.

-Skeld


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Shisumo wrote:
Travel yes, but I'm not so sure about comms. Mention was made of using the Drift to launch message packets back and forth in drones or on small carrier vessels, so I don't think interplanetary or interstellar communication is realtime.

... see, that's silly from a science perspective. If you can make PEOPLE go faster than light, then you can already make light (or other electromagnetic waves) go faster than light. It is harder to move matter faster than light without killing it than it is to move EM waves.

The only time when transmission delays make sense is if there is no FTL travel.


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Not even remotely hard. I an astrophysicist, so I tend to quicky spot flaws in what passes for "hard" SF. The solution: don't bother. This isn't our universe anyway, there is no reason the same physics should apply.

Liberty's Edge

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Zelgadas Greyward wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
Travel yes, but I'm not so sure about comms. Mention was made of using the Drift to launch message packets back and forth in drones or on small carrier vessels, so I don't think interplanetary or interstellar communication is realtime.

... see, that's silly from a science perspective. If you can make PEOPLE go faster than light, then you can already make light (or other electromagnetic waves) go faster than light. It is harder to move matter faster than light without killing it than it is to move EM waves.

The only time when transmission delays make sense is if there is no FTL travel.

We're not making people go FTL though. We're using the Drift. And the way the Drift works - it might take 18 days to go from Absalom Station to Beta Sergonious and then 1 day to go from Beta Sergonious to Absalom Station - suggests that you can't just point a laser at your target and send data. You have to be able to steer.


phantom1592 wrote:
Johnico wrote:
My rule is gonna be "would I complain if Star Wars did this?" If I'd be cool with Star Wars doing it, it's cool for Starfinder. Which, basically, means a minor hand-wave is good enough for me to buy anything.

This.

For me, I like games to have that cinematic feel. Realism sucks. I want that super awesome summer blockbuster feel when I see people clinging to the side of jets and defusing a bomb before strapping a parachute to motorcycle and screaming off through the sky.

For space 'Would Star Wars do it' is a great benchmark... I also tend to add in would this work in 'James Bond, Indiana Jones, A-team, Mission Impossible' and will we still be talking about it 20 years from now. THAT'S what makes Roleplaying fun. Sitting with friends 20 years later talking about that time you were enlarged and your monk throat punched a dragon or outraced a black hole. Not the debates about how long a message should take to go from one place to another.

Much like the rest of the rule books, Science should enhance the game... not cripple it.

Science puts limits in place. Limits create challenges that need to be overcome. Overcoming challenges is what adventure is about.


Bluenose wrote:
phantom1592 wrote:
Johnico wrote:
My rule is gonna be "would I complain if Star Wars did this?" If I'd be cool with Star Wars doing it, it's cool for Starfinder. Which, basically, means a minor hand-wave is good enough for me to buy anything.

This.

For me, I like games to have that cinematic feel. Realism sucks. I want that super awesome summer blockbuster feel when I see people clinging to the side of jets and defusing a bomb before strapping a parachute to motorcycle and screaming off through the sky.

For space 'Would Star Wars do it' is a great benchmark... I also tend to add in would this work in 'James Bond, Indiana Jones, A-team, Mission Impossible' and will we still be talking about it 20 years from now. THAT'S what makes Roleplaying fun. Sitting with friends 20 years later talking about that time you were enlarged and your monk throat punched a dragon or outraced a black hole. Not the debates about how long a message should take to go from one place to another.

Much like the rest of the rule books, Science should enhance the game... not cripple it.

Science puts limits in place. Limits create challenges that need to be overcome. Overcoming challenges is what adventure is about.

I don't agree with that.

Science is routinely dismissed in Science Fiction ANYWAY when it gets in the way of the story they want to tell. There's always some Mcguffin or process or something that will be introduced to do what science says is impossible.

In a game spun off from and combining Sci-fi with High magic?? Yeah, legitimate science is just going to get in the way. There are so many traditional rules that don't make any sense and we have to handwave as 'it's just the rules' that trying to shoehorn a Masters in physics as prerequisite for both the players AND the developers?? Yeah... that won't be fun.


Fardragon wrote:
Not even remotely hard. I an astrophysicist, so I tend to quicky spot flaws in what passes for "hard" SF. The solution: don't bother. This isn't our universe anyway, there is no reason the same physics should apply.

This is my rule for all of fiction. Don't try to make something rely on IRL stuff unless you do it at a very low level and still have done your research.* You can make up whatever rules you want**, and I'll accept your setting as long as they're followed.

*:
When reading Lord of the Flies in high school, I couldn't take it seriously because they were using a diverging lens to focus light. Seriously, check some definitions.

**:
Except metal/technology being opposed to magic. There's no excuse for that.

Scarab Sages

The Sideromancer wrote:
Except metal/technology being opposed to magic. There's no excuse for that.

It makes sense and I enjoy it in the Dresden Files. Technology isn't opposed to magic, but human wizards basically have an equivalent of the wrecker oracle curse for anything more advanced than steam power.


Imbicatus wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
Except metal/technology being opposed to magic. There's no excuse for that.
It makes sense and I enjoy it in the Dresden Files. Technology isn't opposed to magic, but human wizards basically have an equivalent of the wrecker oracle curse for anything more advanced than steam power.

Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura handles the opposition of the two very well and makes it a central part of the setting though. They also do a good job of explaining the how and why of it. Here is the wikipedia blurb on it though the actual game explains it much better with a lot more words, "An important in-game dynamic is the dichotomy of magic and technology in the world. Technology is explained to function by using physical law to produce a desired result, e.g., a bolt of electricity from a Tesla Gun would arc through the most conductive path to its target, with some plated armors being more prone to electrical damage than others. Magic, on the other hand, is explained to manipulate physical law to make a lightning spell follow the shortest path to the target, instead of the natural path. The two are incompatible to the point that they overwhelm each other."


And yet a consistent effect is achieved from the same initial conditions and applied forces. Magic thus lends itself to scientific study and technological development.


The Sideromancer wrote:
Fardragon wrote:
Not even remotely hard. I an astrophysicist, so I tend to quicky spot flaws in what passes for "hard" SF. The solution: don't bother. This isn't our universe anyway, there is no reason the same physics should apply.

This is my rule for all of fiction. Don't try to make something rely on IRL stuff unless you do it at a very low level and still have done your research.* You can make up whatever rules you want**, and I'll accept your setting as long as they're followed.

** spoiler omitted **
** spoiler omitted **

Indeed. Piggy is short sighted. You are not the only person to notice the error.

Liberty's Edge

The Sideromancer wrote:
Except metal/technology being opposed to magic. There's no excuse for that.

Actually, Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magic Obscura had a pretty solid explanation for their use of this. Basically, magic works by changing the laws of physics to make what it's doing possible (want to create fire? just temporarily remove the law of conservation of energy). The more complex the technology, however, the more it relies on those laws of physics to work. And when magic is in the area making those laws not work, the technology that relies on them becomes unreliable as well.

Now, to be fair, that didn't exactly play out in-game (it doesn't explain why knowing how to use technology made you suck at magic, for example), but the overall reasoning makes sense, even if they didn't implement it perfectly.


Shisumo wrote:
Travel yes, but I'm not so sure about comms. Mention was made of using the Drift to launch message packets back and forth in drones or on small carrier vessels, so I don't think interplanetary or interstellar communication is realtime.

I'm currently rereading a sci-fi series called The Saga of Seven Suns, and it actually does explore this a bit. At one point in the 1st book, an Earth battle fleet comes across a destroyed scientific observation post and wants to know what happened. So they calculate how far a distress signal would have gone, and literally outrun it using their FTL drive so that they can intercept the signal.

There is also instantaneous communication in the setting, but that's accomplished through using slightly sentient telepathic space trees.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Ventnor wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
Travel yes, but I'm not so sure about comms. Mention was made of using the Drift to launch message packets back and forth in drones or on small carrier vessels, so I don't think interplanetary or interstellar communication is realtime.

I'm currently rereading a sci-fi series called The Saga of Seven Suns, and it actually does explore this a bit. At one point in the 1st book, an Earth battle fleet comes across a destroyed scientific observation post and wants to know what happened. So they calculate how far a distress signal would have gone, and literally outrun it using their FTL drive so that they can intercept the signal.

Yeah light cones are fun.


JRutterbush wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
Except metal/technology being opposed to magic. There's no excuse for that.

Actually, Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magic Obscura had a pretty solid explanation for their use of this. Basically, magic works by changing the laws of physics to make what it's doing possible (want to create fire? just temporarily remove the law of conservation of energy). The more complex the technology, however, the more it relies on those laws of physics to work. And when magic is in the area making those laws not work, the technology that relies on them becomes unreliable as well.

Now, to be fair, that didn't exactly play out in-game (it doesn't explain why knowing how to use technology made you suck at magic, for example), but the overall reasoning makes sense, even if they didn't implement it perfectly.

I dont have the manual in front of me but i thought that they did explain that, magic relies on an innate fluctuation of the rules of nature, a magic user knows that reality is fluid and that belief makes reality fundamentally less stable around them. Likewise a greater understanding of the laws of reality results in a mind that re-inforces them making technology more reliable and actively stiffling the fluctuations that magic needs.


I remember them saying that magic breaks reality when used while technology used the laws of reality in one of the earlier Starfinder threads.


Torbyne wrote:
JRutterbush wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
Except metal/technology being opposed to magic. There's no excuse for that.

Actually, Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magic Obscura had a pretty solid explanation for their use of this. Basically, magic works by changing the laws of physics to make what it's doing possible (want to create fire? just temporarily remove the law of conservation of energy). The more complex the technology, however, the more it relies on those laws of physics to work. And when magic is in the area making those laws not work, the technology that relies on them becomes unreliable as well.

Now, to be fair, that didn't exactly play out in-game (it doesn't explain why knowing how to use technology made you suck at magic, for example), but the overall reasoning makes sense, even if they didn't implement it perfectly.

I dont have the manual in front of me but i thought that they did explain that, magic relies on an innate fluctuation of the rules of nature, a magic user knows that reality is fluid and that belief makes reality fundamentally less stable around them. Likewise a greater understanding of the laws of reality results in a mind that re-inforces them making technology more reliable and actively stiffling the fluctuations that magic needs.

Again, I just don't get this. Having a concrete understanding of physics in the setting implies that you know it's fluid.

Scarab Sages

The Sideromancer wrote:
Torbyne wrote:
JRutterbush wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
Except metal/technology being opposed to magic. There's no excuse for that.

Actually, Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magic Obscura had a pretty solid explanation for their use of this. Basically, magic works by changing the laws of physics to make what it's doing possible (want to create fire? just temporarily remove the law of conservation of energy). The more complex the technology, however, the more it relies on those laws of physics to work. And when magic is in the area making those laws not work, the technology that relies on them becomes unreliable as well.

Now, to be fair, that didn't exactly play out in-game (it doesn't explain why knowing how to use technology made you suck at magic, for example), but the overall reasoning makes sense, even if they didn't implement it perfectly.

I dont have the manual in front of me but i thought that they did explain that, magic relies on an innate fluctuation of the rules of nature, a magic user knows that reality is fluid and that belief makes reality fundamentally less stable around them. Likewise a greater understanding of the laws of reality results in a mind that re-inforces them making technology more reliable and actively stiffling the fluctuations that magic needs.
Again, I just don't get this. Having a concrete understanding of physics in the setting implies that you know it's fluid.

I see the system in Arcanum as similar to Mage The Ascension. Reality is warped by both observation and belief. Knowledge of magic or technology equals belief in magic or technology which weakens the other reality bending options. The effect of one making the other more difficult is paradox.


Imbicatus wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
Torbyne wrote:
JRutterbush wrote:
The Sideromancer wrote:
Except metal/technology being opposed to magic. There's no excuse for that.

Actually, Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magic Obscura had a pretty solid explanation for their use of this. Basically, magic works by changing the laws of physics to make what it's doing possible (want to create fire? just temporarily remove the law of conservation of energy). The more complex the technology, however, the more it relies on those laws of physics to work. And when magic is in the area making those laws not work, the technology that relies on them becomes unreliable as well.

Now, to be fair, that didn't exactly play out in-game (it doesn't explain why knowing how to use technology made you suck at magic, for example), but the overall reasoning makes sense, even if they didn't implement it perfectly.

I dont have the manual in front of me but i thought that they did explain that, magic relies on an innate fluctuation of the rules of nature, a magic user knows that reality is fluid and that belief makes reality fundamentally less stable around them. Likewise a greater understanding of the laws of reality results in a mind that re-inforces them making technology more reliable and actively stiffling the fluctuations that magic needs.
Again, I just don't get this. Having a concrete understanding of physics in the setting implies that you know it's fluid.
I see the system in Arcanum as similar to Mage The Ascension. Reality is warped by both observation and belief. Knowledge of magic or technology equals belief in magic or technology which weakens the other reality bending options. The effect of one making the other more difficult is paradox.

Yup, just as Imbicatus states. if it helps, think of technology as "natural order magic" and that it is made stable by belief that it works while "wizard like magic" is pushing back natural order to temporarily create new rules and these two beliefs compete and cancel each other. It is interesting to theorize what would happen in that setting if you were to draw together a lot of powerful spell casters, i mean like a town where everyone is a high level wizard, and see how there mere presence messes up reality. Stray thoughts causing trees to grow fire or water flowing up to the sky kind of stuff.


Shisumo wrote:
There's always a danger when you try to apply too much real-world science to science fiction, let alone fantasy. Still, I'm curious about how people plan to approach the hard science, the physics and cosmology of reality, to their Starfinder setting. Will you be limiting two-way interplanetary communication, because Castrovel and Akiton are 20 light-minutes apart? Will your planetary systems never include blue giant primaries, because those stars are far too young to have developed a solar system? Or is all that too much to worry about, and not any fun besides?

The Rule of Cool should apply here, meaning we should be able to find planets, even a (barely) habitable planet, orbiting just about every conceivable stellar-class body known to science.

O and B class stars could have captured rogue planets, or some godlike being could have put some planets into orbit from somewhere else. A supergiant or hypergiant star could have a 'habitable zone' far enough away. Pulsar planets are a thing too, though you might only see undead, ionovoric life, or radiovoric life thriving there.

A creationist explanation of some sort would be almost essential in such cases, but in the Starfinder universe, no one should be complaining about it. :)


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Science = Magic = Science

Job's done.


Arturus Caeldhon wrote:

Science = Magic = Science

Job's done.

Pretty sure they said that magic works by breaking the laws of reality.


I prefer to think of it as temporarily modifying the laws of your plane. In the end, everything is reality, don't you think? So breaking it isn't that easy...

I mean, y'know, unless you're me. Paradox is kinda my thing.


Well, reality was the wrong word. Material Plane would be better. Everything that comes from other planes, magic included, isn't part of the Material Plane or its rules, it's "outsider", with "outside" rules.


IonutRO wrote:
Arturus Caeldhon wrote:

Science = Magic = Science

Job's done.

Pretty sure they said that magic works by breaking the laws of reality.

No. It works be cause your laws of reality are only a small part of a much bigger picture.


Aqua Zesty Man wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
There's always a danger when you try to apply too much real-world science to science fiction, let alone fantasy. Still, I'm curious about how people plan to approach the hard science, the physics and cosmology of reality, to their Starfinder setting. Will you be limiting two-way interplanetary communication, because Castrovel and Akiton are 20 light-minutes apart? Will your planetary systems never include blue giant primaries, because those stars are far too young to have developed a solar system? Or is all that too much to worry about, and not any fun besides?

The Rule of Cool should apply here, meaning we should be able to find planets, even a (barely) habitable planet, orbiting just about every conceivable stellar-class body known to science.

O and B class stars could have captured rogue planets, or some godlike being could have put some planets into orbit from somewhere else. A supergiant or hypergiant star could have a 'habitable zone' far enough away. Pulsar planets are a thing too, though you might only see undead, ionovoric life, or radiovoric life thriving there.

A creationist explanation of some sort would be almost essential in such cases, but in the Starfinder universe, no one should be complaining about it. :)

I actually disagree, but only because you can have cool adventures without requiring a habitable planet. I recently had my players explore a hot volcanic planet near their system's sun that was lethal to the players because of radiation and heat. But they went through an old crashed space ship on the planet and found cool stuff.


Johnico wrote:
My rule is gonna be "would I complain if Star Wars did this?" If I'd be cool with Star Wars doing it, it's cool for Starfinder. Which, basically, means a minor hand-wave is good enough for me to buy anything.

I'm curious as to where Starfinder will fall on the Sci-Fi <-> Space Opera continuum. I've seen different advertisements billing it as one or the other.

A thousand readers will give a thousand different definitions, but this is mine:

If a significant character dies because they didn't have a space suit on, it's Science Fiction. Otherwise, Space Opera :-p


Starfinder, like Pathfinder, will encompass all genres in some way or another. At its core it's a toolset for whatever kind of science-fantasy game you can possibly want to play, it's not only one kind of game.


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Ithnaar wrote:
Johnico wrote:
My rule is gonna be "would I complain if Star Wars did this?" If I'd be cool with Star Wars doing it, it's cool for Starfinder. Which, basically, means a minor hand-wave is good enough for me to buy anything.

I'm curious as to where Starfinder will fall on the Sci-Fi <-> Space Opera continuum. I've seen different advertisements billing it as one or the other.

A thousand readers will give a thousand different definitions, but this is mine:

If a significant character dies because they didn't have a space suit on, it's Science Fiction. Otherwise, Space Opera :-p

Hmm. I've only seen stuff pushing it as 'space opera,' for a random value of that exceedingly poorly defined term.

Sci-fi doesn't seem to fit at all. The travel method is pure 'wizard did it' and every armor appears to be a space suit with a hand waved 24 hour supply of air without any air supply necessary, let alone the tanks the size of small vehicles necessary for that kind of time


Continuum:

Hard SF (2001, Gravity) - Hard Space Opera (Traveller RPG, Babylon 5, Star Trek OS) - Space Opera (Star Wars, Starfinder) - Silly Space Opera (GotG, Flash Gordon movie)


Voss wrote:
Ithnaar wrote:
Johnico wrote:
My rule is gonna be "would I complain if Star Wars did this?" If I'd be cool with Star Wars doing it, it's cool for Starfinder. Which, basically, means a minor hand-wave is good enough for me to buy anything.

I'm curious as to where Starfinder will fall on the Sci-Fi <-> Space Opera continuum. I've seen different advertisements billing it as one or the other.

A thousand readers will give a thousand different definitions, but this is mine:

If a significant character dies because they didn't have a space suit on, it's Science Fiction. Otherwise, Space Opera :-p

Hmm. I've only seen stuff pushing it as 'space opera,' for a random value of that exceedingly poorly defined term.

Sci-fi doesn't seem to fit at all. The travel method is pure 'wizard did it' and every armor appears to be a space suit with a hand waved 24 hour supply of air without any air supply necessary, let alone the tanks the size of small vehicles necessary for that kind of time

With a perfect CO2 scrubber, a human only needs a couple pounds of oxygen per day, which would fit in a wineskin in liquid form.

Scarab Sages

Fardragon wrote:


Continuum:

Hard SF (2001, Gravity) - Hard Space Opera (Traveller RPG, Babylon 5, Star Trek OS) - Space Opera (Star Wars, Starfinder) - Silly Space Opera (GotG, Flash Gordon movie)

I wouldn't call Star Trek or Babylon 5 hard space opera, they are both in the realm of space fantasy explained by technobabble. Transporters, Artificial Gravity, Tractor Beams, and the like are not hard sf. The only show I can think of that would qualify as hard space opera is the expanse, and that is going farther away as the alien tech becomes more prominent.


That's what hard space opera is. It still uses technobabble, but it tries to use it in a way that sounds somewhat plausible and consistent.

If there is no technobabble at all, it isn't Space Opera at all, since interstellar travel is a core component of Space Opera, and there can be no interstellar travel without technobabble.


On the whole magic/tech discussion:

Magic based on specific arcane formula (like the traditional 3.0/PF Vancian Wizard) just feels like a second set of rules to operate within reality (or, as a previous poster pointed out, borrowing a different plane's reality). But a more mysterious, mystical approach (force-based or 'Will and the Way', which seems more intuitive and unique to each user, as well as less defined insofar as what's possible) seem more like "breaking reality".

The latter seems more like a true natural/supernatural split, to me. If we just take the SF Mystic into account, this seems like a good example. I guess we don't know what the Technomancer is like, though, or how they 'hack reality'.

So far, I like how SF is handling the natural/supernatural relationship so far (or you might say tech/magic balance). We'll see what they have in mind for the Technomancer.


I think for any game you need to stick with "because it's in the rules" otherwise you're going to get bogged down by that one friend (or your own thoughts) that went to Space Camp for a week.

It's pretty hit or miss for me. I ignore that a 50 lb halfling can have an 18 STR score and fight with 300lbs of gear but when a forensic scientist on NCIS is allowed to fly an F-18 I go ballistic!


Eben TheQuiet wrote:
...Magic based on specific arcane formula (like the traditional 3.0/PF Vancian Wizard) just feels like a second set of rules to operate within reality (or, as a previous poster pointed out, borrowing a different plane's reality). But a more mysterious, mystical approach (force-based or 'Will and the Way', which seems more intuitive and unique to each user, as well as less defined insofar as what's possible) seem more like "breaking reality"...

I think both styles fit within the cosmology as we know it. Either by rigid formula or exerting one's will, the two schools could both just be a means by which the manifester's will is used to manipulate the energy that creates the spell, with that energy being an extra dimensional force that just so happens to be easily accessed by those who know how. Effectively any SLA or spell cast reaches into a whole other universes' energy and can force some laws of that reality onto the caster's reality while in effect. As vast as the universe is on the Prime Material Plane, every other major plane is effectively just as vast and is basically a universe in its own right that operates under its own rules.

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