Imagine a Sci-Fi ACKS

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fletch137
Joined: 2012-11-24 19:12
Imagine a Sci-Fi ACKS

With some science fiction elements added to ACKS in Kanahu, I got to wondering what a sci-fi sister game might look like. I'm personally fond of near-future science fiction with mostly real technology except for the occasional stardrive or low-level psionics which suits the Terran Cosmonaut, but there's always the Terran Navy of the 23rd century that brought us the Terran Starman and it's super-science and aliens.

Could ACKS be used to create a Traveller-like galaxy of space hexploration, colony building and free trading?

What about fantasy elements? Are the D&D bones ACKS is built on robust enough to support a game without spells or magic?

Would you need a skill system, or could you bake that into classes like Pilot, Engineer, or Space Pirate?

What do you think a game like this would need to feel like a companion to ACKS? More importantly, what would you call it? Traveller, Settler, Raider might cause some legal problems...

GMJoe
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Allow me to introduce my friend, Traveller.

Aryxymaraki
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My current proof-of-concept draft is Explorer, Settler, Imperator.  The basic impetus was when I realized that, using sci-fi hyperdrive rates of travel, you could say that a star system is basically a 24-mile hex and a planet is a 6-mile hex.

I generally feel that a sci-fi system needs to have at least soft classing, but also that it's important to maintain compatibility, so it currently experiments with a system of Professions and Specialties.  A Specialty is a class built in 3 points, and is basically "what you do in combat", and a Profession is a plug-and-play Thievery 1 for "what you do out of combat".  Since it's Thievery 1 no matter which one you pick, each Speciality can be presented as a full class with a known XP cost and so on.

 

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10
A sci-fi version of ACKS is something that I've given some though to. It seems difficult to do a truly generic sci-fi set. The "laws of physics" for Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, and Aliens are all quite different and so I think one would need to lock down a particular genre to emulate, with supplements expanding it from there. White Star seems to have SW-style space opera well-covered, and Stars Without Number has Traveller-style hard science fiction well in hand. Free trader science-fiction is well-covered by Traveller and although I could certainly do it, I personally don't love that genre. The market for Aliens-style space horror/exploration of space hulks/etc probably remains open, since Bughunters is out of print and Hulks & Horrors is too. ACKS could do this really well. However, military science-fiction of the Starship Troopers, Hammer's Slammers, or Shiva Option seems to be the most wide open and would probably be a place where ACKS-type rules would shine. You could use D@W-type rules for starfleet battles. Space Horror and Mil Sci-Fi might be able to be combined into one game, since marines killing bugs is prominent in both genres. My working title is something like "Trooper Commander General".
RandyB
Joined: 2018-02-14 22:07

A sci-fi version of ACKS is something that I've given some though to. It seems difficult to do a truly generic sci-fi set. The "laws of physics" for Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, and Aliens are all quite different and so I think one would need to lock down a particular genre to emulate, with supplements expanding it from there. White Star seems to have SW-style space opera well-covered, and Stars Without Number has Traveller-style hard science fiction well in hand. Free trader science-fiction is well-covered by Traveller and although I could certainly do it, I personally don't love that genre. The market for Aliens-style space horror/exploration of space hulks/etc probably remains open, since Bughunters is out of print and Hulks & Horrors is too. ACKS could do this really well. However, military science-fiction of the Starship Troopers, Hammer's Slammers, or Shiva Option seems to be the most wide open and would probably be a place where ACKS-type rules would shine. You could use D@W-type rules for starfleet battles. Space Horror and Mil Sci-Fi might be able to be combined into one game, since marines killing bugs is prominent in both genres. My working title is something like "Trooper Commander General".

-Alex

Back compatible with AKCS? Take my money now! :)

fletch137
Joined: 2012-11-24 19:12

Allow me to introduce my friend, Traveller.


-GMJoe

I've played Traveller a couple times and enjoyed it, but that was mostly due to a great GM rather than any appeal of the game. I prefer more class-based niche-protection for my characters. Somehow I randomly own a GURPS Traveller book, Interstellar Wars, and it's probably my favorite sci-fi game setting: a still-Balkanized Earth taking its first steps into the cosmos and running up against a decadent empire that's woefully unprepared for how insidious humans can be.

The market for Aliens-style space horror/exploration of space hulks/etc probably remains open, since Bughunters is out of print and Hulks & Horrors is too. ACKS could do this really well. However, military science-fiction of the Starship Troopers, Hammer's Slammers, or Shiva Option seems to be the most wide open and would probably be a place where ACKS-type rules would shine.

-Alex

That’s surprising to hear. ACKS is one of the best retro-clones of D&D in a very crowded market of retro clones, so the idea of having to find an open niche is an odd pitch. Meanwhile, the big appeal of ACKS is how much agency it gives the PCs to rule kingdoms, corner trade markets, and even build and stock your own dungeons for other adventurers to die in. A sci-fi ACKS that has the PCs as soldiers under someone else’s command (and that option only) is a bit off base. I mean, as long as we're talking "sister-game" and not just, "look, Autarch made another game."

golan2072
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With some science fiction elements added to ACKS in Kanahu, I got to wondering what a sci-fi sister game might look like. I'm personally fond of near-future science fiction with mostly real technology except for the occasional stardrive or low-level psionics which suits the Terran Cosmonaut, but there's always the Terran Navy of the 23rd century that brought us the Terran Starman and it's super-science and aliens.


-fletch137

The 23rd Century Terran Navy was a nod to this:

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/206628/TSAO-These-Stars-Are-Ours

It's a setting for the Traveller-style retro-clone, the Cepheus Engine, involving 23rd century Terrans who recently won a war against the local Visitor-equivalents.

golan2072
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My current pet idea is Dereliction.

Singularity came and went. It went badly. The Solar Federation is in ruins. Its once-proud ships and stations are derelicts haunted by technological and biological horrors. Its colonies are death trap tombs. Only Terra remans - clawing its way back to space out of desolation. The new Terran Union needs the technological artifacts of the past to help build its nascent industrial base. Such artifacts abound in pre-Signularity derelicts. As the small Terran Navy has its hands full, the Terran Union outsources this dangerous exploration to (fool)hardy individuals, typically ex-military. You are such an individual. A licensed Stalker. You go to dead star systems to salvage machinery from dead ships, confronting their dead crews and robotics. The government pays you in cash for every artifact you bring back. You may even keep useful items you salvage from ships - the government needs machines much more than it needs individual laser rifles. Keep us the good work, stay alive for long enough - and you might even get a highly coveted Colonial License to set up your own extrasolar colony. Vast fortunes await - or an early death. Most likely, an early death.

My initial thought was to do this using Sword & Wizardry: White Box rules, which are simple and easy to work with. But this may transition into ACKS rules, which are much better but also much more complex to work with.

Rodriguez
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That’s surprising to hear. ACKS is one of the best retro-clones of D&D in a very crowded market of retro clones, so the idea of having to find an open niche is an odd pitch. Meanwhile, the big appeal of ACKS is how much agency it gives the PCs to rule kingdoms, corner trade markets, and even build and stock your own dungeons for other adventurers to die in. A sci-fi ACKS that has the PCs as soldiers under someone else’s command (and that option only) is a bit off base. I mean, as long as we're talking "sister-game" and not just, "look, Autarch made another game."


-fletch137

 

I think entering an unoccupied niche is always a good idea, especially if its something like military/horror!

There should not be any agency loss if the theme is about private military contractors instead of being part of an army. PCs could be officers with their henchmen as sergants and the rest are mercenary grunts. Not much different then standard ACKS and D@W with the additional motivator of high monthly costs from spaceship maintainance and debt.

RandyB
Joined: 2018-02-14 22:07

That’s surprising to hear. ACKS is one of the best retro-clones of D&D in a very crowded market of retro clones, so the idea of having to find an open niche is an odd pitch. Meanwhile, the big appeal of ACKS is how much agency it gives the PCs to rule kingdoms, corner trade markets, and even build and stock your own dungeons for other adventurers to die in. A sci-fi ACKS that has the PCs as soldiers under someone else’s command (and that option only) is a bit off base. I mean, as long as we're talking "sister-game" and not just, "look, Autarch made another game."


-fletch137

 

I think entering an unoccupied niche is always a good idea, especially if its something like military/horror!

There should not be any agency loss if the theme is about private military contractors instead of being part of an army. PCs could be officers with their henchmen as sergants and the rest are mercenary grunts. Not much different then standard ACKS and D@W with the additional motivator of high monthly costs from spaceship maintainance and debt.


-Rodriguez
Traveller owns the "motivator of high monthly costs from spaceship maintainance and debt" niche already. I'm OK with leaving it to them. There's a lot of other logistic challenges for a PMC that ACKS is ideally suited to model.
golan2072
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Why not both? Autarch could definitely publish its own Cepheus Engine (Traveller retro-clone) variant rules for PMCs and the like. Which would probably be better than the Mongoose mercenary rules.

 

That’s surprising to hear. ACKS is one of the best retro-clones of D&D in a very crowded market of retro clones, so the idea of having to find an open niche is an odd pitch. Meanwhile, the big appeal of ACKS is how much agency it gives the PCs to rule kingdoms, corner trade markets, and even build and stock your own dungeons for other adventurers to die in. A sci-fi ACKS that has the PCs as soldiers under someone else’s command (and that option only) is a bit off base. I mean, as long as we're talking "sister-game" and not just, "look, Autarch made another game."

 


-fletch137

 

 

I think entering an unoccupied niche is always a good idea, especially if its something like military/horror!

There should not be any agency loss if the theme is about private military contractors instead of being part of an army. PCs could be officers with their henchmen as sergants and the rest are mercenary grunts. Not much different then standard ACKS and D@W with the additional motivator of high monthly costs from spaceship maintainance and debt.


-Rodriguez

Traveller owns the "motivator of high monthly costs from spaceship maintainance and debt" niche already. I'm OK with leaving it to them. There's a lot of other logistic challenges for a PMC that ACKS is ideally suited to model.


-RandyB

Rodriguez
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Traveller owns the "motivator of high monthly costs from spaceship maintainance and debt" niche already. I'm OK with leaving it to them. There's a lot of other logistic challenges for a PMC that ACKS is ideally suited to model.


-RandyB

Thats no more a niche then "GP = XP" I would say and repaying debt fits the theme better then just doing the "1 credit earned from military contracts = 1 XP" motivator. Guess doing both at the same time could work though.

What challenges / rewards / motivators would you suggest?

Hardrada
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I'd like to see someone who modeled modern sensibilities into how PMCs fit the universe. Most Sci-Fi games portray PMCs as interchangeable with regular forces. It would be more interesting, I think, to capture some of the unique features of PMCd that explain why they exist (beyond BattleTech's vision of a feudal future).
wmarshal
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Is there a niche for a system that supports campaigns with semi-realistic space travel/logistics and economics AND plenty of aliens and mystical “wuuwuu”? I see that White Star has lots of aliens and options for space magic built in, but I cry when told that space travel is pretty much described as “speed of plot”. Stars Without Number has more crunch, but is lacking in the department of aliens. SWN does have low level psychics, and a separate book for space magic, but for some reason the psychic powers and magic feel off to me. (Might be the bizarre spell names/effects and the tool box nature of the material.) I think there could be a space between the two systems. For my Dwimmermount campaign to convert the Astral Reavers in the Divinitorium into some more interesting I’m basically converting Star Knights from White Star into a variant of the Blade Dancer (trading in Turn Undead for being more awesome with their swords), but if I was building a setting with interstellar travel I’d lift from SWN. I think Alex could come up with an interesting setting to go along with his version of space ACKS. The real question is whether or not Alex has the time.

 

 

GMJoe
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Is there a niche for a system that supports campaigns with semi-realistic space travel/logistics and economics AND plenty of aliens and mystical “wuuwuu”?

-wmarshal

Rubber-forehead aliens and mystical wuuwuu are associated more with the science fantasy genre, which tends to care more about drama than about how its settings' technologies work; wheras fiction that leans heavily on detailing the capabilities and limitations of specific technologies is almost by definition "hard" SF, and hard SF avoids handwaving like the plague.

Which isn't to say you couldn't have an SF game with both wuuwuu mysticism and hard logistics - just that there's not much written fiction that includes both, so the "I wanna make a game that plays like the books I love" motivation for designing such a game is missing, so it's less likely that a game designer has already been inspired to make such a game.

Your best option might be to import some wuuwuu mysticism into an existing hard SF game. Traveller's pretty easy to mod, in my experience; maybe you could... I dunno, import Mage: The Awakening's system of spheres as abilities for player characters, or something?

Stars Without Number has more crunch, but is lacking in the department of aliens.

-wmarshal
Eh? It has rules for making new alien races, and the sector generation rules have a fairly high chance of generating alien-inhabited worlds, and the entire game is built on the premise that you can import old D&D adventures and reskin the monsters as alien critters of various sorts... Is it that you want some predefined alien cultures that fit into the setting in a well-defined way, rather than rules for rolling your own?

SWN does have low level psychics, and a separate book for space magic, but for some reason the psychic powers and magic feel off to me. (Might be the bizarre spell names/effects and the tool box nature of the material.)

-wmarshal

For a while now I've been considering running a Stars Without Number campaign with magic, but using only the Arcanist class from the SWN Deluxe Edition core book and the eldrich spells from ACKS's Heroic Fantasy Handbook, instead of any of the content from Stars Without Number's own magic sourcebook. My idea is to flavour magic as an ancient practice barely changed since the days of pre-modern alchemists and astrologers, and which has been preserved and passed on only by secretive cults - differentiating it from the more mainstream-studied-and-publically-acknowledged psionic disciplines.

I've no idea how well that idea would work in practice, but there's something about using insense and chalk and ritual to conjure cacodemon spawn in the engine room of a tramp freighter starship that I find fascinating.

wmarshal
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Stars Without Number has more crunch, but is lacking in the department of aliens.


-wmarshal

Eh? It has rules for making new alien races, and the sector generation rules have a fairly high chance of generating alien-inhabited worlds, and the entire game is built on the premise that you can import old D&D adventures and reskin the monsters as alien critters of various sorts... Is it that you want some predefined alien cultures that fit into the setting in a well-defined way, rather than rules for rolling your own?


-GMJoe

It’s probably because I’m more of an modifier/mixer of existing settings than one who creates a setting from scratch.

RandyB
Joined: 2018-02-14 22:07

 

 

Traveller owns the "motivator of high monthly costs from spaceship maintainance and debt" niche already. I'm OK with leaving it to them. There's a lot of other logistic challenges for a PMC that ACKS is ideally suited to model.


-RandyB

 

Thats no more a niche then "GP = XP" I would say and repaying debt fits the theme better then just doing the "1 credit earned from military contracts = 1 XP" motivator. Guess doing both at the same time could work though.

What challenges / rewards / motivators would you suggest?


-Rodriguez

The logistics of a PMC are semi-notoriously described as "lawyers, guns, and money", all of which are required at a scale beyond "high monthly costs from spaceship maintenance and debt". For an ACKS-ish depiction of the establishment of a PMC, albeit in an alternate early 21st century setting, read Tom Kratman's "Countdown" series, currently sitting at three releases.

The main protagonist, in ACKS terms, is at the late "Adventurer" tier and, lacking any perceived opportunity to move into the "Conqueror" tier, has retired. Then just such an opportunity is unexpectedly presented to him.

Kratman, and Jerry Pournelle's Falkenberg stories, are my main go-tos for PMC campaign inspiration. ACKS is ideally set to be adapted to those kinds of campaigns.

Rodriguez
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Thats no more a niche then "GP = XP" I would say and repaying debt fits the theme better then just doing the "1 credit earned from military contracts = 1 XP" motivator. Guess doing both at the same time could work though.

What challenges / rewards / motivators would you suggest?

 


-Rodriguez

 

The logistics of a PMC are semi-notoriously described as "lawyers, guns, and money", all of which are required at a scale beyond "high monthly costs from spaceship maintenance and debt". For an ACKS-ish depiction of the establishment of a PMC, albeit in an alternate early 21st century setting, read Tom Kratman's "Countdown" series, currently sitting at three releases.

The main protagonist, in ACKS terms, is at the late "Adventurer" tier and, lacking any perceived opportunity to move into the "Conqueror" tier, has retired. Then just such an opportunity is unexpectedly presented to him.

Kratman, and Jerry Pournelle's Falkenberg stories, are my main go-tos for PMC campaign inspiration. ACKS is ideally set to be adapted to those kinds of campaigns.


-RandyB

 

These books might make a good setting and campaign backstory but thats not necessarily a motivator for PCs.

I say good motivators include rewards and a sense of urgency. In a standard ACKS campaing that could be GP=XP and the rising of evil while the local rules are busy with other things.

RandyB
Joined: 2018-02-14 22:07

 

 

 

Thats no more a niche then "GP = XP" I would say and repaying debt fits the theme better then just doing the "1 credit earned from military contracts = 1 XP" motivator. Guess doing both at the same time could work though.

What challenges / rewards / motivators would you suggest?

 


-Rodriguez

 

The logistics of a PMC are semi-notoriously described as "lawyers, guns, and money", all of which are required at a scale beyond "high monthly costs from spaceship maintenance and debt". For an ACKS-ish depiction of the establishment of a PMC, albeit in an alternate early 21st century setting, read Tom Kratman's "Countdown" series, currently sitting at three releases.

The main protagonist, in ACKS terms, is at the late "Adventurer" tier and, lacking any perceived opportunity to move into the "Conqueror" tier, has retired. Then just such an opportunity is unexpectedly presented to him.

Kratman, and Jerry Pournelle's Falkenberg stories, are my main go-tos for PMC campaign inspiration. ACKS is ideally set to be adapted to those kinds of campaigns.

 


-RandyB

 

 

These books might make a good setting and campaign backstory but thats not necessarily a motivator for PCs.

I say good motivators include rewards and a sense of urgency. In a standard ACKS campaing that could be GP=XP and the rising of evil while the local rules are busy with other things.


-Rodriguez

Fair point. "1 GP = 1 XP" is a rewards-based, or positive motivator. "High monthly costs from spaceship maintenance and debt" is a negative motivator. Rewards-based or positive motivators for a PMC are contracts and battlefield loot. A sense of urgency for a PMC could be "the rise of a threat while governments are otherwise occupied".

Negative motivators encourage lazy GMing. Challenging PC weaknesses is far easier than challenging their strengths. Presenting a fun mix of both kinds of challenges is tougher still.

fletch137
Joined: 2012-11-24 19:12

As a translation of ACKS to space, I imagine a future where Earth has expanded to a couple nearby stars, but a recent advancement in hyperspace or whatever has extended that reach and opened up a whole range of new planets to explore. At low levels, Astronauts would be hired or motivated to hexcrawl the starmap to lay claims to these new systems, uncover alien artifacts, and make first contact with alien races. At the Commander level, they'd be establishing trade networks or colonies to tame these far reaching worlds until, at...ummm...I can't think of a 'K' term for space, but they'd be establishing their own mini-republics or governances either as their own petty empire or as part of the expanding Solar Republic.

For wuuwuu, you could either have a more hard science of psionics being developed in the future -OR- a more horrific/mystical system that has hyperspace be an actual opening into a Cthulhu-like realm with all its accompanying space monsters and invocations.

Like Traveller, the game shouldn't assume the PCs are a team with their own spaceship, giving them something to work up toward as they hop rides on active trade ships or get dispatched by an employer.

I'm a bigger fan of class-based systems than skill-based, but I haven't really thought about what the classes would be.

Rodriguez
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These books might make a good setting and campaign backstory but thats not necessarily a motivator for PCs.

I say good motivators include rewards and a sense of urgency. In a standard ACKS campaing that could be GP=XP and the rising of evil while the local rules are busy with other things.

 


-Rodriguez

 

Fair point. "1 GP = 1 XP" is a rewards-based, or positive motivator. "High monthly costs from spaceship maintenance and debt" is a negative motivator. Rewards-based or positive motivators for a PMC are contracts and battlefield loot. A sense of urgency for a PMC could be "the rise of a threat while governments are otherwise occupied".

Negative motivators encourage lazy GMing. Challenging PC weaknesses is far easier than challenging their strengths. Presenting a fun mix of both kinds of challenges is tougher still.


-RandyB

I would argue that "High monthly costs" creates a sense of urgency because if the group fails then campaign is over or transforms into a pirate campaign.

Quest rewards and loot are a motivator but not something specific for PMC campaigns. There is also no reason why Space-ACKS would be better at delivering that compared to any other system.

The "rising threat" part also sounds bad for a PMC campaign. Why should mercenaries care? Sounds more like a business opportunity to me.

I really think we dont have much common ground here... 

RandyB
Joined: 2018-02-14 22:07

I really think we dont have much common ground here... 


-Rodriguez

I agree.

wmarshal
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Like Traveller, the game shouldn't assume the PCs are a team with their own spaceship, giving them something to work up toward as they hop rides on active trade ships or get dispatched by an employer.

I'm a bigger fan of class-based systems than skill-based, but I haven't really thought about what the classes would be.


-fletch137

A difficulty I see with having a model where PCs earn the cash to acquire a space ship is that it usually cost a very large amount of cash that could be redirected towards massive amounts of spending on personal equipment, cyberware, lavish lifestyle, etc. That’s not a real problem if you’re running a wide open campaign, but could be if your idea of a campaign involved the PCs system hopping across the galaxy. I’ve only played a couple of demos of Starfinder at conventions, but they had an interesting idea where the PC’s ship was essentially a reward for leveling up. Each character level in the party granted them build points by which they could requisition either modifications to their existing basic ship they got at 1st level, or get a larger more advanced ship as the campaign went along. I thought it was an interesting approach, but it’s premised on the idea that the PCs were part of a larger organization assigning the PCs their ship. Maybe something similar could be an optional setting rule implemented by the GM if it would fit his campaign.

Regarding classes perhaps something could be done similar to what was done with the Freebooter class in the Heroic Fantasy Handbook. Give a class decent fighting and/or hit die, then develop varieties of specialization for engineers, combat medics, hackers, etc. Retain a basic fighting class to represent dedicated space soldiers, but use the Freebooter as a template to build specialist classes. For wuuwuu I’m already converting the Bladedancer into light/dark versions where the Turn Undead ability gets traded in for a +2 to hit for their laser swords, and a inherent ability to cast magic missile (aka Force Lightning) 3 times a day for dark version. The Player’s companion recommends against granting damaging spells in this way, but in this case I think it’s a decent thematic fit, and I “tax” the level 1 damaging spell as if it was level 2 in terms of how often it can be cast. Not sure what to grant the light side version in place of the magic missile. Maybe Fate points.

GMJoe
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A difficulty I see with having a model where PCs earn the cash to acquire a space ship is that it usually cost a very large amount of cash that could be redirected towards massive amounts of spending on personal equipment, cyberware, lavish lifestyle, etc. That’s not a real problem if you’re running a wide open campaign, but could be if your idea of a campaign involved the PCs system hopping across the galaxy.

-wmarshal
One way I've seen this addressed in both Stars Without Number and Traveller is limiting the availability of equipment by location, as well as by price. Both games generally require you to be on a planet with a high tech level in order to purchase high-tech gear; Traveller's planets additionally have a "law level" which restricts which weapons and armour can be legally purchased there.

Stars without number also includes the ability for players to add asteroid mining and manufacturing facilities to their ship. The requirements for doing so are extremely steep (the mobile factory alone requires 100 NPC crew or a true AI PC to run it), but doing it means the party can produce almost any equipment, vehicles, stations, and even new ships that they might need, given enough time. (The only things such facilities can't make are tech level 5 and above, the "magic items" of the setting.)

Cash spent on a ship isn't necessarily taken away from cash spent on equipment, I guess I'm saying, since equipment availability can depend on things other than available cash.

Come to think of it, most good equipment in ACKS is magical, and non-consumable magic items are generally things you obtain via adventures rather than by puchasing them, so there's no real change there.

golan2072
Patreon SupporterBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu AuthorPlayer's Companion BackerDwimmermount BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters BackerBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2012-01-14 14:14

Yes, as noted above, tech is limited by available tech levels; I don't see any problem with "low-level" PCs getting all the "TL4" (in SWN terms) gear early on - let them cyber themselves up and get teh best mag rifles available. It's the equivalent of getting plate armor and a plate-barded warhorse (or even a few healing potions!) in ACKS, something you can get on levels 1-3. Any good market (in Traveller terms: high-TL, high-Population, low Law Level world) can supply these and somewhat experienced low-level characters ahve enough cash to buy them. It's the "pemanent magic items" that are rare - starships (monstrously expensive) and equipment beyond the setting's common Tech-Level (rarely available to purchase; you usually find them by adventuring).

If you want to go full "Traveller", start right at the Conqueror level - you already have a starship and cash after chargen and can start saving/looking for financing for cool mid-level stuff such as building a small fleet/trading corporation, pirate gang, or mercenary company.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Further musings...

Outside of cyberpunk, my personal interest in so-called hard sci-fi is fairly low, to the extent that hard sci-fi is defined by "how people today extrapolate from current trends to create what they think are plausible situations in the future". It seems to share the following assumptions:

  • physicalism is true
  • human minds are just computers
  • nanontech will work
  • evolution explains where we came from and where the aliens came from
  • nobody will figure out how to go faster than the speed of light
  • quantum collapse isn't caused by consciousness

These are the assumptions found in most classic and contemporary hard sci fi. Alisdair Reynold's space opera is an example of this genre. 

In contrast, what I like are:

  • physicalism is not true - there's something more
  • human minds aren't just computers - luminous beings are we - and AI never replaces people
  • nanotech doesn't work reliably - no magic mini-robots replace all machinery
  • evolution isn't the full answer, and progenitors, uplift, panpsychic cosmology or something else is involved
  • speed of light travel is routine
  • quantum collapse is caused by consciousness and is the basis of psychic powers

Though these assumptions above are implicit in Star Wars and Warhammer 40K, they are not taken seriously or well-defined, and the result is Jedi that can do whatever, ships that travel at speed of plot, etc.

If I designed a sci-fi RPG setting, it would be hard space fantasy: It would use the second set of assumptions but do so rigorously. As far as I can think of, Dune is the only sci-fi I can think of that does that. 

 

GMJoe
Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

In contrast, what I like are:

  • physicalism is not true - there's something more
  • human minds aren't just computers - luminous beings are we - and AI never replaces people
  • nanotech doesn't work reliably - no magic mini-robots replace all machinery
  • evolution isn't the full answer, and progenitors, uplift, panpsychic cosmology or something else is involved
  • speed of light travel is routine
  • quantum collapse is caused by consciousness and is the basis of psychic powers

...

If I designed a sci-fi RPG setting, it would be hard space fantasy: It would use the second set of assumptions but do so rigorously.


-Alex
I'm sold. When's the Kickstarter campaign?

wmarshal
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Joined: 2012-04-08 15:12

 

In contrast, what I like are:

 

  • physicalism is not true - there's something more
  • human minds aren't just computers - luminous beings are we - and AI never replaces people
  • nanotech doesn't work reliably - no magic mini-robots replace all machinery
  • evolution isn't the full answer, and progenitors, uplift, panpsychic cosmology or something else is involved
  • speed of light travel is routine
  • quantum collapse is caused by consciousness and is the basis of psychic powers

...

If I designed a sci-fi RPG setting, it would be hard space fantasy: It would use the second set of assumptions but do so rigorously.


-Alex

I'm sold. When's the Kickstarter campaign?

 


-GMJoe

Be reasonable. Alex needs at least two years to put in the proper amount of work to get the spreadsheets right. :-)

Alex, have you ever looked through projectrho.com ? Lots of articles discussing realistic/consistent sci-fi. Maybe more hard sci-fi than what you’d like for a setting, but I think starting from a hard sci-fi base and then adding the fantasy elements could be productive.

RandyB
Joined: 2018-02-14 22:07

 

In contrast, what I like are:

 

  • physicalism is not true - there's something more
  • human minds aren't just computers - luminous beings are we - and AI never replaces people
  • nanotech doesn't work reliably - no magic mini-robots replace all machinery
  • evolution isn't the full answer, and progenitors, uplift, panpsychic cosmology or something else is involved
  • speed of light travel is routine
  • quantum collapse is caused by consciousness and is the basis of psychic powers

...

If I designed a sci-fi RPG setting, it would be hard space fantasy: It would use the second set of assumptions but do so rigorously.


-Alex

I'm sold. When's the Kickstarter campaign?

 


-GMJoe

 

I'll say it again: take my money now!

fletch137
Joined: 2012-11-24 19:12

If I designed a sci-fi RPG setting, it would be hard space fantasy: It would use the second set of assumptions but do so rigorously. As far as I can think of, Dune is the only sci-fi I can think of that does that.

 


-Alex

I've never heard the term "hard space fantasy." I like it.

I've recently been getting into some '50s sci-fi like Tom Corbett, and I've really grown to appreciate a more vintage view of what space travel was going to look like. Modern rocket design is even going back to the ol' pointy missile asthetic as seen in SpaceX's rockets.

I've also been watching a lot of Isaac Arthur on the YouTube and his videos about colonizing our solar system. When practical space colonies now include covered Martian ravines and floating Venusian sky-cities, I'm all on board with how fantastical "hard science" can be.

golan2072
Patreon SupporterBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu AuthorPlayer's Companion BackerDwimmermount BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters BackerBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2012-01-14 14:14

In contrast, what I like are:

  • physicalism is not true - there's something more
  • human minds aren't just computers - luminous beings are we - and AI never replaces people
  • nanotech doesn't work reliably - no magic mini-robots replace all machinery
  • evolution isn't the full answer, and progenitors, uplift, panpsychic cosmology or something else is involved
  • speed of light travel is routine
  • quantum collapse is caused by consciousness and is the basis of psychic powers

Though these assumptions above are implicit in Star Wars and Warhammer 40K, they are not taken seriously or well-defined, and the result is Jedi that can do whatever, ships that travel at speed of plot, etc.

If I designed a sci-fi RPG setting, it would be hard space fantasy: It would use the second set of assumptions but do so rigorously. As far as I can think of, Dune is the only sci-fi I can think of that does that. 


-Alex

Traveller does a lot of that:

  • It seems agnostic about physicalism, as far as I understand, but psionics and the Empress Wave hint at something more.
  • Full AIs are hard to achieve; most robots cannot fully replace human beings. The exception is the Virus, but again - no day to day AIs replacing people.
  • Nanotech? What nanotech? 1970's tech assumptions... :-)
  • The Ancients tampered with the evolution of pretty much everyone and spread humans around Known Space.
  • Jump travel is pretty routine, though relatively costly.
  • No discussion of quantum collapse, but there are Psionics (which "scientific" basis is not explanied as far s I can remember).
RandyB
Joined: 2018-02-14 22:07

 

 

In contrast, what I like are:

  • physicalism is not true - there's something more
  • human minds aren't just computers - luminous beings are we - and AI never replaces people
  • nanotech doesn't work reliably - no magic mini-robots replace all machinery
  • evolution isn't the full answer, and progenitors, uplift, panpsychic cosmology or something else is involved
  • speed of light travel is routine
  • quantum collapse is caused by consciousness and is the basis of psychic powers

Though these assumptions above are implicit in Star Wars and Warhammer 40K, they are not taken seriously or well-defined, and the result is Jedi that can do whatever, ships that travel at speed of plot, etc.

If I designed a sci-fi RPG setting, it would be hard space fantasy: It would use the second set of assumptions but do so rigorously. As far as I can think of, Dune is the only sci-fi I can think of that does that. 

 


-Alex

 

Traveller does a lot of that:

  • It seems agnostic about physicalism, as far as I understand, but psionics and the Empress Wave hint at something more.
  • Full AIs are hard to achieve; most robots cannot fully replace human beings. The exception is the Virus, but again - no day to day AIs replacing people.
  • Nanotech? What nanotech? 1970's tech assumptions... :-)
  • The Ancients tampered with the evolution of pretty much everyone and spread humans around Known Space.
  • Jump travel is pretty routine, though relatively costly.
  • No discussion of quantum collapse, but there are Psionics (which "scientific" basis is not explanied as far s I can remember).


-golan2072

All of those are reasons why I have never considered Traveller to be hard sci-fi.

golan2072
Patreon SupporterBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu AuthorPlayer's Companion BackerDwimmermount BackerSinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters BackerBarbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2012-01-14 14:14

Traveller is not hard sci-fi, but rather old-school space-opera inspired by 1950's-1970's sci-fi, especially Dumarest, Space Viking, and Van Rijn. But it does have a "hard-ish" feel to it in some cases.

GMJoe
Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

I think the hardness of sci-fi is measured by how a work treats its sci-fi elements: If it goes into the nitty-gritty details of how things work and what they can and can't be used for, that's "harder" than if it only uses its sci-fi elements as handwaves for explaining stuff without exploring the nature of those technologies in any detail... But maybe I'm wrong about that? I'm willing to believe I've somehow misled myself about this particular thing.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Omer, you're right - Traveller does qualify. It isn't explicit but it's definitely implicit in the setting. 

 

RandyB
Joined: 2018-02-14 22:07

Traveller is not hard sci-fi, but rather old-school space-opera inspired by 1950's-1970's sci-fi, especially Dumarest, Space Viking, and Van Rijn. But it does have a "hard-ish" feel to it in some cases.


-golan2072

Vector movement of spacecraft and prominence of gunpowder weapons. Oh, and various attempts at a functional economy, all of which are proclaimed "broken" because players can discover ways for their PCs to escape poverty/debt unless the Referee actively stops them.

Love Traveller, but a lot of the online Traveller community is too narrow-minded for my tastes.