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"Causality and Choice in RPGs, Part 1: Getting rid of the {TECH}" on The 20' By 20' Room blog by Neel Krishnaswami It was a bit challenging to find this article. It took a search result pointing to a forum post linking to another forum post linking to a dead site (which I then looked up in the Wayback Machine), but I found it. Here's the article. The ...


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They're really not that different... ...because you left out an important adjective: abandoned. Often, those "fantasy" adventure locations you cited - a crypt, a prison, a cave system, a necromancer's lair, or a castle - are only interesting because nobody is currently and legitimately/legally living there. They're full of loot because it's stuff that was ...


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What, Are You a Terrorist? Think of all the things the TSA won't let you bring on planes. Now imagine a higher-tech world where dangerous things are even easier to make out of seemingly-innocuous items. Why can you have a medkit with A but not B? Because someone figured out how to use B to weaponize ebola, or cause apparently natural heart attacks from 50 ...


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Talk to your players, and you don't need to trick your players into playing a game they don't like. My advice is to actually sit down and talk to your players about running a sci-fi style game and for your entire group to actually sit down and pick out a game that suits everyone's needs. "My problem is my players" is the wrong atitude to have in this ...


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Before you even get to the point where you need to start talking technical, it's worth taking some time to head off that sort of necessity in the first place. Often this won't be possible, it's worth trying to focus the scene around character interactions rather than the technology being used. That should head off many of the dangers of sounding off when ...


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Finally, I had also thought about some kind of virus which would make robots turn against humans, in a society were security bots are the norm. I find that the best plots are engendered by taking elements of current events, exaggerating the causal themes, and inserting a unique twist, then time adjusting it and inserting it into your baseline campaign to ...


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Well, it depends what you want out of an actual game system that would make it "hard SF." Except for systems that have bunches of magic integral to them, I assume what you want is a "simulationist" system, one that behaves realistically, and has some explicit rules support for realistic near-future tech. The most prominent fit for this is probably GURPS. ...


17

Traveller. Traveller is an old game that's had a lot of editions, and several of them do what you want. It's... Well, it's basically Firefly. No, seriously: It's a game where the players are the crew of a small independent starship that hauls cargo and passengers between star systems to stay out of the red. I've described its features below, with the points ...


17

The most useful way to create a Fate Accelerated pregen character is: just barely, and then jump into the game immediately and let people fill in the blanks when they need to. Aeon Wave (which is pay what you want, including free) does this to great success, and is a sci-fi game based on six premade characters. It's for Fate Core, but you may want to adapt ...


17

This is a difficult one, as we don't know the reason that the pilot isn't going on the "away missions". Answering the main question: Pirates/local big bad/aliens/space whales/asteroids attacking If you don't mind it being a bit dangerous, have the pilot fight off or defend against lots of small enemies whilst the party are planetside. Telepresence I'm ...


15

Not all dungeons have walls. A dungeon is really an encounter graph with connections between them. Encounter graphs can be generated without any walls. You can start an encounter graph with a goal or a hook. A goal is an "end room" to your encounter graph (the treasure room of the moon king) while a hook is an entrance room to your encounter graph (a ...


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I figured I'd try to answer the part of the question that most of the other answers haven't really touched on yet, namely "How do I decide whether a particular piece of tech would be too disruptive?" One way to approach this question is to ask yourself, "How could the players achieve the same effect using things that are listed in the books?" If all the ...


13

Given the fallout setting, where there's no 'psionics' or magic as such (at least as far as anything appearing the games so far). Broadly speaking you've got a few options: Introduce psionics or magic into the game (this isn't part of the fallout canon). Go with mutation (this does appear in the canon setting). Tell the player no I think that the first ...


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Other ideas include: Size Yes, the technology exists. It's the size of a room. If you can find a lab that has one, you may be able to rent it by the hour. You must provide 100 points of ID to do so (limiting criminal or anonymous activity.) Limited Ammunition D&D often provide magical weapons in the form of wands with limited charges, such as a ...


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Luckily, this system you search for is not only existent, but also has a free pdf available! (Although the extra content in the book is definitely worth getting) Stars Without Number is a futuristic sci-fi system and setting. Essentially, humanity reached the stars and spread out across the galaxy using 'spike drives' to travel between solar systems faster ...


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This is the only one I know of that is completely free: Stars without Number This was is part of the D6 universal system. However I am adding this because the progenitor system was Star Wars The Roleplaying Game. Of all the D6 games this is the closest to the original sci-fi RPG: D6 Space The Cepheus Game Engine is available as a clone of classic ...


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Human(oid)s will be human(oid)s When in a scifi setting, what is new and innovative to us, is ordinary to the characters. People tend to iterate and adjust ordinary stuff. Your problem is not that space stations won't have strange nooks and crannies, it's that new space stations won't have them. Just like that new crypt didn't have any at the time of the ...


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I recommend Heavy Gear first (or its later generalized version, the Silhouette Core RPG Rules) from Dream Pod 9. It is a nice and smooth system, good for both role-playing and small-scale skirmish. It is not class-based though, but has many character templates, with many support and non-combat roles. A close second is Cyberpunk 2020, with the Maximum Metal ...


12

You are missing one of the best. Conspiracy X. It's pretty much built for XCOM style play. Edit: Not a pathfinder style clone. This is Unisystem, by Eden Studios. Second Edit with Clarification: In Conspiracy X, you play members of Aegis, a secret organization dedicated to protecting human kind. There are three alien races (Greys, Saurians, and Atlanteans),...


12

I ran this game for you, and it's nice to know you enjoyed it so much! Alex emailed me and linked me to this thread. The setting was the 'Revelation Space' universe from the books by Alastair Reynolds. I believe you were colonists from Sky's Edge, a war-torn planet mentioned in several of the books, en-route to another system. The people who attacked you ...


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I would highly recommend giving Eclipse Phase a try, it's a very enjoyable system and setting in my experience. Let's go through some bullet points that might draw in you and your Pathfinder players in to get excited to play it. The setting is definitely hard-sci; the "star-trek" style tech in it is pretty minimal and I couldn't really find anything in ...


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Traveller Without a doubt, Traveller has to be my first recommend for this subgenre... Why? Battle Dress is stolen liberally from Starship Troopers. The character generation model for CT, MT, T4, MGT, and T5 all show a serious limit upon player control over skills received, but at the same time, involve serious player choices. All the mentioned editions ...


11

Decribe the situation accordingly, using proper terms. Instead of saying "you are there" say "you are floating there". This should be a pretty strong reminder. Plus, force them to use the near-0 gravity, for instance placing objects in locations they couldn't reach with Earth-like gravity. However I'm puzzled: which problem exactly did you encounter with ...


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Put a tented index card labeled No Gravity in the middle of the table.


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First of all, have a critical re-read of whatever game system you're using. There is the possibility that either: It is deliberately telling your players to anthropomorphise. If it's packed full of stereotypes of animals (owls are wise, foxes are cunning, cats are elegant and self-centred), then the game doesn't really care about real animal psychology. It ...


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I just played a game in a similar situation. We were running a Stargate-themed game and I was the team doctor. We spent three to four game sessions in non-stop combat situations where our four soldiers shined and discovered of a "magic" healing device along with an NPC who could use said healing device and usurp my character's entire reason for being there, ...


9

There's lots of good answers here. I particularly like the first one of using stories from the news as inspiration. Here's some ideas that are still relevant, but perhaps were more obviously cutting edge 8 years ago: widespread use of drones, widespread use of mercenaries by both governments and corporations, and the use of child soldiers. For something more ...


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I normally avoid recommending generic, "universal" systems for questions like this. It's too easy to think of one's own favourite generic system and think that it can do whatever is being asked about. I hesitate, but not all generic systems are made equal – each has different fiddly bits that it brings to the experience of play, and in this case, Savage ...


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Oblivious Sage's answer is fantastic, but except for his very last bullet they are all reasons to deny a request for equipment, they don't do much to help if you already handed the players a piece of equipment and implied it was reasonably easy to get in the world. So let me add some thoughts on how to handle it if the players already have it. The direct ...


8

Cyberpunk is about a fast world overwhelming and crushing people. Pick a technological or social advance that occurs too fast and destroys the lives of a lot of people while catapulting a few others beyond humanity. Ideas: A new affordable and safe source of energy (practical fusion power at last, maybe) threatens to upset the balance of power(=oligopoly) ...


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