I'd like to GM a sci-fi game, one that falls, preferably, somewhere between space opera and hard sf. I've been looking at options, reviews, etc., but haven't found anything to my taste.
Please, recommend me an SF game that
- is modern and relatively recent (this other Q is rather dated SF-wise, unfortunately), yet traditional, that is, more simulationist than narrativist (FATE's not my cup of tea, sorry). By "modern" I guess I mean its world and setting is extrapolated from recent scientific and technical developments and forecasts.
- is not too rules light (a single roll determining an entire battle, etc), but
- is not too crunchy (in a single combat move, don't make us roll attack, then dodge, then damage, then soak, all of these with a myriad modifiers - let's just shoot and damage with a single roll, then deduct armor from that damage... or something like that.)
- is, preferably, not d20 based
- doesn't require me (and the players!) to read hundreds of pages of setting, yet has some interesting selling points background-wise as well (without a metaplot stretched over dozens of sourcebooks and novels, though)
- is not Star Wars or Firefly or Battlestar or... based on a TV show (but computer games - like Mass Effect - would be okay)
- is, preferably, not fan-made
- not too posthuman (sorry, but no Eclipse Phase this time, too much sleeving)
- is not Gumshoe-based (I know, I know, I'm getting nitpicky, sorry, but it's not over yet)
- can be learned quickly
- has quality artwork and layout... the more awesome the artwork (wishful thinking), the better (sorry, but we've got some grumpy graphic designers on the team, for whom supporting visuals and artistic vision are important)
- is not humorous by default
- is not retro-SF (including WH40k's otherwise excellent permutations)
- is not science-fantasy (meaning: there are no pure fantasy elements in it that couldn't be explained away by pseudo-science mumbo-jumbo)
Emphasis on top priorities (but everything is important on the list.)
I hope I haven't forgotten anything (but I reserve the right to extend the list later on.) :D
Yep, I know I'm asking for the impossible / non-existent. Should it be so, please, recommend a generic rpg (no, not GURPS!) whose system I / we could use to relatively quickly develop an SF world & game along the abovementioned lines.
(Sure, an official Mass Effect (ep1, ep2, NOT ep3) adaptation would be cool. But it doesn't exist, afaik.)