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The Expanse? ... or "Expanse-alike" ?


g33k

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I may be running a mini-campaign to introduce a newbie to RPGs... sci-fi, action heavy for the genre.  I'm considering using The Expanse as the setting:  the newbie likes it (probably more the TV show than the novels), and a familiar & well-loved setting is just ALL kinds of good, when introducing a newbie!

I know of Green Ronin's official RPG but it's based upon the AGE system, and I don't know that system (and it's likely a short campaign, so learning (& teaching!) a new system is "unattractive").

BRP (and the extended family) is kind of my go-to engine for many things.  Has anyone hacked it for The Expanse?

And yes, I do know of M-Space, so I ask the variant question -- has anyone tuned M-Space (which is a good sci-fi toolbox, tune'able to many settings!) to run an Expanse-like setting?  (fwiw, I'll re-post this query on the specific subforae here, and over on TDM's tapatalk site).  I guess John Snead's Worlds United (also for Mythras) may be somewhere near-ish to what I want... tweak'able / re-skin'able...?

There's also River of Heaven.  That seems more pre-tuned to its setting, which is more-advanced than The Expanse.  Again, with some tweaks and reskinning... maybe.

I'm just leaving off the old Ringworld RPG.  Not sure if any e-tailer has it, and I AM sure I don't want to pay crazy-collector prices for it!

...

... have I missed anything?

Edited by g33k
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I don't see why you couldn't use BRP as is....

Personally I'm working on a Master of Orion setting that I will share here when ready! :)

M-space has few rules in it... But many good ideas... About spaceship design, conflicts (non combat), circles (mix of cult and allegiances) and some custom psionic rules

It's designed for mythras, which show subtle difference sometimes  

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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4 minutes ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

I don't see why you couldn't use BRP as is....

...

Basically, I'm looking for all the setting build-out; as I'm not using Green Ronin's crunch, I need BRP crunch.  Personal gear, planetary vehicles, spacecraft, space-stations, etc.

 

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13 hours ago, g33k said:

BRP (and the extended family) is kind of my go-to engine for many things.  Has anyone hacked it for The Expanse?

By "for The Expanse" I assume you mean rules for realistic physics in micro-gravity, conservation of momentum, and contained atmospheres?  The stuff that most Sci-Fi games gloss over or allow convenient "handwavium" options?  I'm not aware of any BRP options, but would die for one if it's out there.

When I get this itch (and I do on occasion), I go to my old GURPS: Transhuman Space books.  I can't stand GURPS mechanics, but they scale closely enough to BRP to cobble conversions together.  And, for the most part, most issues regarding gravity and atmosphere are for setting and theme.  Possibly as difficult to find as Ringworld is FASA's Grav-Ball, which might be useful for hand-to-hand combat in micro-gravity.  More recently, for Mongoose's lacklustre iteration of Traveller is a homebrewed product called Orbital, which I won't recommend out of difference of opinion with the author.

I've seen M-Space, which cleaves very closely to the structure set by Traveller, so I'd recommend it as a start.  It doesn't address the crunchy bits I mentioned above, though, which is what sets The Expanse apart from Star Wars.

!i!

[Edit: Further comments upon reflection...

  • I have Grav-Ball.  It's an artifact very much of the early '80s, and fun from a nostalgic point of view, but not very good.  Don't waste your time or money looking for it.
  • I'm being petty about Orbital.  It may prove a very concise distillation of the Expanse-like features you're looking for, and I think you can find it easily and relatively cheaply.  The author has put a lot of effort into assembling rules and background for realistic space adventure (presumably his own work in this case).  Definitely not BRP, though.]
Edited by Ian Absentia
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I've been looking for a setting like this for a while, a hard sci-fi Solar System game, collecting various rules sets along the way and not quite finding it. I have RIver of Heaven and M-Space (and Clement Sector, Fading Suns, Jovian Chronicles, Coriolis, Infinity RPG..) The old Cyberpunk 2020 had deep space supplement that was pretty good, but would be way out of print now. I saw one called Shadows Over Sol recently, which was Solar system-based and had some interesting ideas, and there is High Colonies coming up (a recent Kickstarter) from Columbia Games (Hârnmaster like, so approaches BRP). Cthulhu Rising was a Solar system-based Monograph (hard to find now) by Jon Ossoway , author of River of Heaven, with some extra solar planets which I was going to ignore (along with the Cthulhu mythos in space stuff). Another old Cthulhu monograph which may be useful (in terms of skills, equipment) is End Times, which was set on Mars in the future when Earth has been overwhelmed by the Cthulhu mythos.

There are elements of The Expanse which are scifi-horror, but I'm generally not so interested in that particular crossover genre.

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18 hours ago, g33k said:

I may be running a mini-campaign to introduce a newbie to RPGs... sci-fi, action heavy for the genre.  I'm considering using The Expanse as the setting:  the newbie likes it (probably more the TV show than the novels), and a familiar & well-loved setting is just ALL kinds of good, when introducing a newbie!

I know of Green Ronin's official RPG but it's based upon the AGE system, and I don't know that system (and it's likely a short campaign, so learning (& teaching!) a new system is "unattractive").

BRP (and the extended family) is kind of my go-to engine for many things.  Has anyone hacked it for The Expanse?

And yes, I do know of M-Space, so I ask the variant question -- has anyone tuned M-Space (which is a good sci-fi toolbox, tune'able to many settings!) to run an Expanse-like setting?  (fwiw, I'll re-post this query on the specific subforae here, and over on TDM's tapatalk site).  I guess John Snead's Worlds United (also for Mythras) may be somewhere near-ish to what I want... tweak'able / re-skin'able...?

There's also River of Heaven.  That seems more pre-tuned to its setting, which is more-advanced than The Expanse.  Again, with some tweaks and reskinning... maybe.

I'm just leaving off the old Ringworld RPG.  Not sure if any e-tailer has it, and I AM sure I don't want to pay crazy-collector prices for it!

...

... have I missed anything?

I would start with the 2300AD BRP fan adaption for equipment. Some adaptions are needed, but most tech should be relatively close, especially to Belter tech.

SDLeary

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@g33k, you say it's likely to be a "short campaign".  Give us a few quick bullets of the Expanse-like features or events you and your friends want to see over a half-dozen sessions.  Maybe we can narrow down sources for you.

Alot of the appeal of The Expanse is more descriptive in nature, and simulationist rules aren't really needed until you want to stage a space battle factoring in thrust vectors, conservation of momentum, and mass drivers instead of lasers - for which I'd go really old school and suggest Triplanetary.

!i!

[Edit:  Damns!  SJG's re-release of Triplanetary is already OOP.  I started to think that you could just play that with BRP-based roleplaying sessions tying scenarios together.]

Edited by Ian Absentia

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On 3/12/2020 at 1:56 AM, g33k said:

I may be running a mini-campaign to introduce a newbie to RPGs... sci-fi, action heavy for the genre.  I'm considering using The Expanse as the setting:  the newbie likes it (probably more the TV show than the novels), and a familiar & well-loved setting is just ALL kinds of good, when introducing a newbie!

 

Fine place to set a game in, cyber/sci-fi noir appeals to me. G33k, you sound to me like the kind that can wing it. Use Mithras as a starting place for the kinetic guns, give characters 30 percent (or multiple of this for more power) a year per year over 15 in skills based on M-space. Handwavium NPCs to have 25% in skills they are novice in, 50% in skills they are journey men in, 75% in skills they master and 90 and above for the special types. A search for “guns in the expanse?” yielded this page https://expanse.fandom.com/wiki/Hand_Weapons which looks at weapons and I am sure a search for anything else should be as useful. and then Roberta is your aunt! This is for a couple of games only, right?

On 3/12/2020 at 2:42 PM, Ian Absentia said:
  • I have Grav-Ball.  It's an artifact very much of the early '80s, and fun from a nostalgic point of view, but not very good.  Don't waste your time or money looking for it.
  •  

Holy crap, have not heard that name since the ‘80s!

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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The old GDW rules for Traveller -- particularly the standalone Snapshot rules -- were surprisingly solid for hand-to-hand and gun combat in micro-gravity, and could be ported to other games fairly easily as a mini-system.  They didn't get wrapped up in the specific physics so much as abstracting:

  1. How well your character understood the physics of zero-G;
  2. How extreme your actions are; and,
  3. The chance that you'll go spiraling out of control and hurt yourself.

"Accelerator" ammo turned out to be a great thing -- rocket-propelled ammunition that fires from the gun at low velocity, then accelerates under its own propulsion after exiting the muzzle.  It's laughable crap under normal circumstances, until you realise that firing a normal slug-throwing gun in zero-G is like wrapping your arms around a rocket.

But none of this is helping out in the immediate sense, is it?

!i!

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17 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

@g33k, you say it's likely to be a "short campaign".  Give us a few quick bullets of the Expanse-like features or events you and your friends want to see over a half-dozen sessions.  Maybe we can narrow down sources for you...

I had picked The Expanse specifically because I know he has seen & liked it.  His fiance thinks more action-y (less figuring-out, less strategy-and-planning) will be to his taste.

I do take your point that I might be able to do a lot of the Expanse with narration, rather than mechanics ...

I envision some combats (at least one in zero-G).  A chase... probably 2 (chasing, being chased).  At least one or two scenes of techie-types rolling their challenge (hack the computer, or repair the drives, or etc) against-the-clock with some looming danger, while the combat-types hold off forces that will stop the tech from saving them all.  You know, classic action-adventure, with a sci-fi spin.

 

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4 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Fine place to set a game in, cyber/sci-fi noir appeals to me...  Use Mithras for ...

The full-bore Mythras engine is maybe a bit too much crunch, which is why I am looking more base-BRP-ish:  I've tried Mythras (well, RQ6; same difference!) with a couple of these players previously, and apparently Combat Effects were a crunch too far.

I can probably use the TDM/Mythras guns supplement, however... good call, and thanks!

But you mentioning "cyber" reminds me that there's ANOTHER Mythras supplement, After The Vampire Wars by @jsnead, which is specifically an urban fantasy+SciFi setting.  The author has whipped together some ideas for hacking his AtVW in an explicitly-Shadowrun direction (so did @Raleel IIRC)... which I might go with (instead of an Expanse-y direction).  The SR setting offers some other assets for the audience in question, too... Hmmm...   <ponder ponder ponder

 

And now that I'm thinking outside my prior (Expanse-centric) box, I recall that I previously put a fair bit of thought (and noticed some other people have actually uploaded some content here on BRPC!) into a different action-heavy science-fantasy-ish setting, so I might go that direction:  a BRP take on the venerable Gamma World setting!

 

URGH ...  Choice is a good thing, but if I'm not careful I'm gonna begin chasing my own tail here !

 

25 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

 ... G33k, you sound to me like the kind that can wing it. Use Mithras for the kinetic guns, give characters 30 percent (or multiple of this fro more power) a year per year over 15 in skills based on M-space. Handwavium NPCs to have 25% in skills they are novice in, 50% in skills they are journey men in, 75% in skills they master and 90 and above for the special types ...

NPC stats are relatively easy, yes; I can wing those (just like any other NPCs in BRP (or any other system I know well)).

My main concern stats-wise is actually for the gear.  I think many sci-fi fans see "gear" (and "the shopping trip") as important parts of sci-fi RPGs.  (and I notice unhappily that a big downside of BRP'ized SR is the setting's strong "gear porn" tradition (which I don't have to indulge in (because newbie!), but still -- it wouldn't be SR without lots & lots of chromed-up street-sam & similar types).  And all that crunch has NOT been worked-out in that "whipped together hack."   So a fair bit of work still to do... 

If I'm using a reference setting (such as The Expanse) I want my gear to match the reference if pistol-X is canonically more-dangerous than pistol-Y, I want my game to reflect that, but it's probably best not done as "wing it at the table".  And if they move through the campaign from gun to bigger gun (and thence to BFGs) I don't want to scale up out of meaningful difference (i.e. one-hit-kill) 3 steps before the climactic scenario.

Those sorts of balances -- and a robust catalog of non-weapon gear! -- is part of what I'm hoping other people have done.

 

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22 hours ago, Questbird said:

I've been looking for a setting like this for a while, a hard sci-fi Solar System game ...

Have you looked at Eclipse Phase?  It's... damned good work, frankly.  It doesn't lean-in on the hardness of the sci-fi, but the handwavium isn't (IMHO) too egregious.

Mechanics and char-gen are (way) too complex for what I want... but...  now that I think about it, their 2e is just coming out, and I hear it's supposed to be simpler; I'll look into that, too!  They also have a Fate hack, but Fate just doesn't seem to be my cuppa <shrug>.

Nota Bene -- It definitely has a couple of skeins of Horror going into the weave of their world... but I /think/ it's not too hard to tease those out or deprecate them, and use the rest of the setting.  If you haven't looked at EP, it's probably worth your while.

Also note -- the publisher has released their entire catalog under a CreativeCommons license https://eclipsephase.com/cclicense  (and I mean the whole thing, artwork and all; except for a few pieces by one particular artist).  So you can legally download & freely share, and even hack together your own version (and make THAT freely available!), if you want!

Edited by g33k
that's what "CC" means, dammit!
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1 hour ago, g33k said:

Have you looked at Eclipse Phase?  It's... damned good work, frankly.  It doesn't lean-in on the hardness of the sci-fi, but the handwavium isn't (IMHO) too egregious.

Mechanics and char-gen are (way) too complex for what I want... but...  now that I think about it, their 2e is just coming out, and I hear it's supposed to be simpler; I'll look into that, too!  They also have a Fate hack, but Fate just doesn't seem to be my cuppa <shrug>.

Nota Bene -- It definitely has a couple of skeins of Horror going into the weave of their world... but I /think/ it's not too hard to tease those out or deprecate them, and use the rest of the setting.  If you haven't looked at EP, it's probably worth your while.

Also note -- the publisher has released their entire catalog under a CreativeCommons license https://eclipsephase.com/cclicense  (and I mean the whole thing, artwork and all; except for a few pieces by one particular artist).  So you can legally download & freely share, and even hack together your own version (and make THAT freely available!), if you want!

 
 
 

Yes, I have seen Eclipse Phase and I agree it's pretty good. I'm looking for something a bit less transhuman. I'm really enjoying reading the Infinity RPG right now. It's set 170 years in the future, with recognisable political groups, a few exo-planets accesible by wormhole, semi-randomly generated characters and a decent equipment list. Probably the same sort of zone as Traveller 2300, which I never got into but liked the idea.

Which reminds me: @pansophy has uploaded a 2300AD conversion to BRP, available right here. Maybe that might help your immediate problem.

 

Edited by Questbird
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The trouble with adapting particular TV Series, Films or Books is that most of the technology is the same, so you can use any old stuff from other supplements.

What is special about The Expanse? The Ship Drives are unusual and allow for rapid travel between planets, so you just describe them and how fast they can travel. People have High-G Protector Technology, so that can be included to assist with the super-fast drives. Apart from that, you can just use normal SciFi equipment.

I suppose you could go through every episode of The Expanse and detail what technology was used, but I can't see the point of that, really.

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10 hours ago, Raleel said:

M-space has a traveller conversion that might help here. @clarence would you be bale to help these fine folks?

RQSciFi combines RQMI with Traveller, so might be useful.

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If you like BRP, like I do, then you might want to consider the fan made publication New Horizon. It provides detailed rules as well as a setting for playing science fiction in a world most like that in Blade Runner or Total Recall. I haven't studied it in depth but the only thing it seems to lack are rules for creating starships (Use M-SPACE for that). Instead it just list a few ships and their stats. You can find it at https://gitlab.com/NHcthulhu/NewHorizon

 

 

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46 minutes ago, rsanford said:

If you like BRP, like I do, then you might want to consider the fan made publication New Horizon. It provides detailed rules as well as a setting for playing science fiction in a world most like that in Blade Runner or Total Recall. I haven't studied it in depth but the only thing it seems to lack are rules for creating starships (Use M-SPACE for that). Instead it just list a few ships and their stats. You can find it at https://gitlab.com/NHcthulhu/NewHorizon

Thanks for sharing.

Lots of good stuff in there, I'll have to spend some time reading! :)

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On 3/12/2020 at 8:56 AM, g33k said:

And yes, I do know of M-Space, so I ask the variant question -- has anyone tuned M-Space (which is a good sci-fi toolbox, tune'able to many settings!) to run an Expanse-like setting?  (fwiw, I'll re-post this query on the specific subforae here, and over on TDM's tapatalk site).  I guess John Snead's Worlds United (also for Mythras) may be somewhere near-ish to what I want... tweak'able / re-skin'able...?

I've looked up the Expanse setting and WORLDS UNITED seems similar setting-wise. But WU is mainly a setting and the rules are mostly ported from AFTER THE VAMPIRE WARS which were partially ported from LUTHER ARKWRIGHT.

Ruleswise, all books - WU, AtVW, LA and the books for M-SPACE - have useful crunch content for your setting. You have to do some research to scan them for useful content. I assume that you don't need any setting material because you'll use the setting as it is.

It would be better , especially if you find MYTHRAS CORE too crunchy, to stay with MYTHRAS IMPERATIVE and use M-SPACE as the rules core.
If you own most of the books [for MYTHRAS and the M-SPACE line] it's easy to build your rules from M-SPACE up and use crunchy bits from here and there to melting them together to your own The Expanse- campaign setting.

The upcoming M-SPACE COMPANION will have rules for Hacking, btw.

Edited by prinz.slasar
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1 hour ago, prinz.slasar said:

I've looked up the Expanse setting and WORLDS UNITED seems similar setting-wise.

Expanse really leans in on hard-sci-fi & gritty (albeit not grimdark) realism.  WU is clearly pulp physics & pulp vibe, "planetary romance" with an alt-history / alt-science setting.  Their solar-system scope is shared, but that's really about all, honestly.

 

1 hour ago, prinz.slasar said:

... But WU is mainly a setting and the rules are mostly ported from AFTER THE VAMPIRE WARS which were partially ported from LUTHER ARKWRIGHT.

Ruleswise, all books - WU, AtVW, LA and the books for M-SPACE - have useful crunch content for your setting. You have to do some research to scan them for useful content. I assume that you don't need any setting material because you'll use the setting as it is.

It would be better , especially if you find MYTHRAS CORE too crunchy, to stay with MYTHRAS IMPERATIVE and use M-SPACE as the rules core.
If you own most of the books [for MYTHRAS and the M-SPACE line] it's easy to build your rules from M-SPACE up and use crunchy bits from here and there to melting them together to your own The Expanse- campaign setting...

Yeah, this would be my path forward with Mythras, I think.  I'd use M.Imperative at the core with M-Space for the bulk, maybe adding bits from other books in the Mythras line (I think mostly LA).

 

1 hour ago, prinz.slasar said:

... The upcoming M-SPACE COMPANION will have rules for Hacking, btw.

Does it indeed?  Iiiiinteresting!   TYVM.

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27 minutes ago, g33k said:

Expanse really leans in on hard-sci-fi & gritty (albeit not grimdark) realism.  WU is clearly pulp physics & pulp vibe, "planetary romance" with an alt-history / alt-science setting.  Their solar-system scope is shared, but that's really about all, honestly.

There is no MYTHRAS setting in existence which is really similar to the Expanse. Of all MYTHRAS-settings out there WU would be the most similar. LUTHER ARKWRIGHT comes close.
[As an aside, in WU are suggestions and options to play WU gritty and hard]
Since you have The Expanse as a setting already, this not much of a problem, though.

For Hard-sci-fi & gritty realism the scenario A GIFT FROM SHAMASH could be interesting.

27 minutes ago, g33k said:

Does it indeed?  Iiiiinteresting!   TYVM.

yep, 3 days ago one of the co-authors wrote on TDM forum: "there will be detailed rules on Robotics, Cybernetics, Hacking as well as a new character generation system and technology so advanced it feels like magic."

Edited by prinz.slasar
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38 minutes ago, prinz.slasar said:

... For Hard-sci-fi & gritty realism the scenario A GIFT FROM SHAMASH could be interesting ...

Ooooh.  Imperative+AGFS?  Add some of M-Space.  Add some bits of L.Arkright.  That could do most of the Expanse out-of-the-gate, I think... adding as needed (mostly from M-Space, at a guess...)

Hmmm ... 

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