Hard Sci-Fi: Can you (effectively) use a subset of the rules?


Advice


Had been considering for a while running a Firefly styled game and was considering D20 Future or Star Wars D20 (without Force powers) about the time Starfinder was announced.

I'm curious how the game runs if you strip all the magic out. If I remove access to Mystics, Solarions, and Technomancers, would it severely unbalance the game?

I'm comparing it to trying to run a fantasy game without magic - take out clerics and wizards and only allow fighters, rogues, trapper rangers, etc. and you lose access to magical healing, a lot of battlefield control, etc. which dramatically impacts how you design adventures. Is Starfinder the same way or is the magic fairly easy to remove?


A lot of things utilize magic, but some of the more important things can flavor it out. For instance serums could use nanobots instead of magic, hybrid items could just be reflavored as advanced enough tech to not need the magic, and without magic you still have 4 fully functional classes (5 if you have some in-universe way to explain Solarions using something other than magic.)


I'm sure you could strip out all the "magic and mysticism" if you wanted to. Another option is just to re-skin it all. Instead of magic, it's instead psionics and ancient alien technology that you just don't really understand.

However, if you really can't live with that option either. Well, perhaps Traveler is the system you're truly looking for.


I took out all the magic and the aliens. Works just fine. Reskinned Technomancers to Psychic. Dropped Solarian and Mystics, added in Chemists (Alchemists) and Caveliers (I just can't get how cool they'd be with a hovercycle mount!). I'm making up my own "races" that are all humans, but changed a bit, i.e. Mutants, Genespliced, etc.

BOOM. No more Mutan...um...Magic...No more Magic. :D

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I wish space movement was more hard'ish.


Derek Vande Brake wrote:

Had been considering for a while running a Firefly styled game and was considering D20 Future or Star Wars D20 (without Force powers) about the time Starfinder was announced.

I'm curious how the game runs if you strip all the magic out. If I remove access to Mystics, Solarions, and Technomancers, would it severely unbalance the game?

I'm comparing it to trying to run a fantasy game without magic - take out clerics and wizards and only allow fighters, rogues, trapper rangers, etc. and you lose access to magical healing, a lot of battlefield control, etc. which dramatically impacts how you design adventures. Is Starfinder the same way or is the magic fairly easy to remove?

Magic systems pretty trivial to remove. HP healing becomes a little weird, but very little seems to outright depend on magic. A lot of stuff is intentionally flavorless (under the guise of 'flavor it however you like')

Liberty's Edge

Short answer: Yes.

Longer Answer: Yes, but if you try to outright strip away all Undead, you will probably seriously undermine the utility of many adventures and expansions. Better to come to some pseudo-biological explanation you can make youself comfortable with on that score and downplay it.

There is a point where the benefits to using a current system can be undermined by varying the default assumptions too much.


If you want to run hard sci-fi, get Mongoose Traveller. It looks like you were trying to stay with D20, but MgT is even easier to run and still has incredibly impressive depth.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Steel_Wind wrote:

Short answer: Yes.

Longer Answer: Yes, but if you try to outright strip away all Undead, you will probably seriously undermine the utility of many adventures and expansions. Better to come to some pseudo-biological explanation you can make youself comfortable with on that score and downplay it.

There is a point where the benefits to using a current system can be undermined by varying the default assumptions too much.

nothing wrong with robo-zombies.


The easiest method would be to just call magic something else... that's what I'll do in my Xenosaga/gears inspired setting. Any tech, if advanced enough, could just as easily be called magic. I'll call it Ether (aka. Especial Theory of Rudimentary) and link it to the (renamed Mysticism) Meta Sciences skill.


Honestly, I'd just use a different system for that. I'm sure Starfinder works without all the magic and such, but it's a backbone to the flavor and balance of the system. Other d20 sci-fi systems, like Star Wars even, would likely fair better (a system where force usage is more balanced around the whole party having it, or nobody having it).

Traveller may also be a good call but I've no experience.

That said, if you just wanted to focus on Starship combat, that has little involvement with magic anyway (I'm sure there's some, but it's not as key as general combat). I'm sure that'd work fine if you were planning on scraping magic out, and even in encounters where you're just using those 4 classes, I would think those would happen with such infrequency compared to space combat that it'd be less problematic.

I think the reason people play D&D games in settings with no or low magic is because D&D and Pathfinder really are the major lead on medieval and fantasy RPGs. I can't think of another system off the top of my head, at all, that is designed explicitly for a medieval or fantasy setting and has no magic. It's easier, in that regard, to remove magic for a setting than to find a new system. Pathfinder/D&D also automatically lends itself well to playing in a wide variety of different scenarios and settings.

Meanwhile, magic + space is basically the point of Starfinder, and there's plenty of existing sci-fi systems that don't have such a key element.


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It depends what you mean by "hard SF" you can strip out all the magic, and you are still left with technology that is completely nonsensical in terms of real world science.

Space Opera without magic is still Space Opera.


Derek Vande Brake wrote:

Had been considering for a while running a Firefly styled game and was considering D20 Future or Star Wars D20 (without Force powers) about the time Starfinder was announced.

I'm curious how the game runs if you strip all the magic out. If I remove access to Mystics, Solarions, and Technomancers, would it severely unbalance the game?

You should be able to use Traveller20 with Starfinder if Starfinder is 3.5 compatible like Pathfinder. Traveller20 is pretty hard SF. The only thing remotely magical is the Psionics )and that's usually optional in most games). So playing Starfinder without the magic would probably work just fine.

EDIT: There's also a SciFi20 out there that was based on Traveller20.


Yakman wrote:
Steel_Wind wrote:

Short answer: Yes.

Longer Answer: Yes, but if you try to outright strip away all Undead, you will probably seriously undermine the utility of many adventures and expansions. Better to come to some pseudo-biological explanation you can make youself comfortable with on that score and downplay it.

There is a point where the benefits to using a current system can be undermined by varying the default assumptions too much.

nothing wrong with robo-zombies.

Also, when you look at zombie genres such as Walking Dead, Resident Evil, Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later, HP Lovecraft's Reanimator, etc there's nothing magical about those undead. They're the result of a virus, radiation, chemical concoction, etc.


Derek Vande Brake wrote:
Had been considering for a while running a Firefly styled game and was considering D20 Future or Star Wars D20 (without Force powers) about the time Starfinder was announced.

If you're insisting on a D20 system, I can't really help you, but if you want a gritty game system with good mechanics where the magic is almost so entirely removed from the rest of the game; I'd recommend the Dark Heresy 2nd Edition system. All of the rolls are either D10s or D100, so you'll only need 2 d10s to play.

If you don't want magic in your game, just ignore daemons and psykers and because magic isn't integrated with the majority of the system, it's pretty simple. It also has sanity stuff and enemies that act like reavers already prepared.

Liberty's Edge

There is a Firefly RPG. It's actually pretty cool and fits the setting quite well. Why not use that?

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