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Is BRP/d100 good system for scifi?


almenac

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After my current campaign is finished I'm possibly running a scifi game for my group. I've used Savage Worlds for some time now and while the system has its strengths, I'm itching for something grittier this time. So I'm asking about BRP/d100 and how do you feel about it for science fiction purposes? What does it do well? Where it needs improvement? Any campaign stories etc. are more than welcome. Note that I'm planning to use my homebrew scifi universe, not an established IP.

I also wrote on Mythras subforum, but I'm interested in hearing a more general take on the subject. But if you have experiences with M-Space or Mythras, feel free to write there too.

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BRP is good at human-scale characters whose knowledge and life experiences matter more than their physical prowess.  Combat is lethal and gritty, not to be entered into lightly.  There are optional rules for assorted super powers and psychic abilities, good for creating mutants and aliens.  These can also fill in, maybe, for cybernetic implants.  If Alien, Outland, Scanners and such are your idea of sci-fi, you are in good shape.  Sorta.

Where the system falls down for science fiction is its lack of real support for gadgets, gear and vehicles.  This is where its Bronze Age RuneQuest roots really show.  Sure, there is a section on using skills as technology, but it is vague and loosey-goosey and assorted genre supplements haven't really filled the gap.  There are a few sample ray guns but if you want jet packs, starships, James Bond super spy gadgets, or cool hover bikes with the latest multi-media setup (WHY are you watching/listening to that when I'm having to share the road with you?), then you will have to wing it.

Also, BRP isn't very cinematic (see Hit Points discussion).  If your idea of science fiction is John Carter of Mars, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Star Wars or any other franchise where characters are larger than life you may find your PCs too fragile to pull off the heroic stunts of their inspirations.  They don't enjoy the same plot immunity.  And I say that as a guy who has posted loads of write-ups for superheroes, movie monsters, and pulp heroes.  Can you compensate with double HP. Luck rolls, etc.?  Sure, but it isn't BRP's default mode.  

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4 hours ago, seneschal said:

...  Can you compensate with double HP. Luck rolls, etc.?  Sure, but it isn't BRP's default mode.  

They may not be "default," but they are a pretty well-known alternative setting, and known to work well.

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Mythras, aside from M-Space, has a reasonably good supporting base for SF and Science Fantasy:

'A Gift from Shamash' - hard SF following a group of marines on a boarding mission for an abandoned mining vessel in deep space

'White Death' - 80s low-level SF/espionage on an arctic ice floe with a chilling secret

'Agony & Ecstacy' - Superheroes with requisite powers

'Luther Arkwright' - transdimensional agents with rules for vehicles, firearms, psionics, and special powers.

'Worlds United' - Pulp Rockets and Rayguns set in an alternative Earth where the Martians invaded twice, Venus is a lush jungle world, and humans are expanding across the solar system.

All are available on Drivethru and TDM's own web store. And they're all 100% compatible with each other, so it's worth taking a look a

 

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5 hours ago, almenac said:

... So I'm asking about BRP/d100 and how do you feel about it for science fiction purposes? ...

+1 for Loz' excellent line of Mythras supplements!

You may also want to look in on a recent thread I started regarding "Expanse or Expanse-alike" BRP; lots of folks chimed in there with good suggestions!

I'm likely to be hacking-together my own crunchy bits from multiple sources (both official publications and fannish ones), but such FrankenBRP's are a long tradition in the tribe!

 

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To be fair, whether you need technology rules depends on what PCs are expected to do in a given scenario or campaign.  In a space marine scenario, if the adventurers are intended to hunt or be hunted by aliens but aren't expected to repair the space hulk they're exploring and fly it off somewhere, they don't need starship rules.  The joint is basically a dungeon in space. Likewise, both Asimov's Foundation series and Bujold's Vorkosigan saga have vast space navies that engage in fleet battles -- but since all that goes on in the background and the protagonists aren't in command, it doesn't affect the skills and equipment the heroes need.  

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7 minutes ago, seneschal said:

To be fair, whether you need technology rules depends on what PCs are expected to do in a given scenario or campaign.  In a space marine scenario, if the adventurers are intended to hunt or be hunted by aliens but aren't expected to repair the space hulk they're exploring and fly it off somewhere, they don't need starship rules.  The joint is basically a dungeon in space. Likewise, both Asimov's Foundation series and Bujold's Vorkosigan saga have vast space navies that engage in fleet battles -- but since all that goes on in the background and the protagonists aren't in command, it doesn't affect the skills and equipment the heroes need.  

Thank you for the articulation, This is what I was trying to say to @g33k in his thread that he mentions above, but i unfortunately failed my roll. I did not fumble, as he thanked me in that sad way one thanks a slightly addled relative, but a fail none the less.

 

 

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... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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55 minutes ago, seneschal said:

To be fair, whether you need technology rules depends on what PCs are expected to do in a given scenario or campaign.  In a space marine scenario, if the adventurers are intended to hunt or be hunted by aliens but aren't expected to repair the space hulk they're exploring and fly it off somewhere, they don't need starship rules.  The joint is basically a dungeon in space. Likewise, both Asimov's Foundation series and Bujold's Vorkosigan saga have vast space navies that engage in fleet battles -- but since all that goes on in the background and the protagonists aren't in command, it doesn't affect the skills and equipment the heroes need.  

I will argue that we almost-certainly need /SOME/ sort of tech rules.  Maybe the Space Marine grunts seldom need starship rules, but they need rules for infantry-scale energy-weapons, high-mach kinetics, advanced armor, etc... the genre staples of "Space Grunt" warfare.

If reasonably advanced or future-projected science/tech/etc (and the PCs' corresponding skills!), and high-tech threats (and responses, and counter-threats of your own) aren't part of the rules and rolls... then IMHO you aren't playing a sci-fi RPG, you're playing some other genre with sci-fi elements in the background.

Or maybe you're playing a more Narrative-style ruleset, rolling the Conflict in an abstracted sense, rather than rolling your Skills in a universe-simulating pseudophysics of the game-engine.

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Franchise matters when it comes to gear and how it works.  In the Foundation universe there is no need to roll for damage when you fire your atomic ray pistol.  If you hit, your target is dead.  Period.  No near misses, glancing blows, or stun setting.  Unless the target is wearing a personal force shield, in which case he takes no damage at all.  Period.  

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I would personally welcome having technology modeled at least with some accuracy. BRP/d100 is quite detailed system and if I handwave lots of stuff I feel I'm missing out most of the system. Or to put it another way, if I'm willing to forgo tech/gear modeling I could as well play something like PbtA or Fate where you don't care about this stuff. But I want to see if my 2d8 plasma rifle will penetrate that force field or will the enemy make that 43 % Dodge :) 

All in all I don't think that traditional rpg systems like BRP should try to model narrative, but concentrate on using the rules to see what happens. If a raygyn should be deadly, it should have lots of damage.

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6 hours ago, seneschal said:

To be fair, whether you need technology rules depends on what PCs are expected to do in a given scenario or campaign.  In a space marine scenario, if the adventurers are intended to hunt or be hunted by aliens but aren't expected to repair the space hulk they're exploring and fly it off somewhere, they don't need starship rules.  The joint is basically a dungeon in space. Likewise, both Asimov's Foundation series and Bujold's Vorkosigan saga have vast space navies that engage in fleet battles -- but since all that goes on in the background and the protagonists aren't in command, it doesn't affect the skills and equipment the heroes need.  

This is true if we're talking about a one shot or really short, tightly scoped campaign. But in my experience if the players want to do what they want to do and I really want the rule system to be able to support different things. A campaign might start planetside, but if the players express wishes to be able to take part in space combat, I want to provide that. And honestly, I'd argue that starships is something most people think when they think scifi rpgs.

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Chaosium produced Ringworld back in the day a Sci Fi setting based on the novels of Larry Niven. If memory serves they did a good job of translating the Tech from the novels into the game.

In the setting Humans had achieved extreme life extension with older persons able to acrue vast knowledge and experience over the centuries with no physical detriment.  So older charecters were vastly more competant (more skill points)  than younger charecters.

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Pirates of Drinax for Traveller is one of the few classic sci-fi mega-campaigns. Pentallion converted most of it to M-Space. Now he’s collected his conversion advice in an article here:

https://elruneblog.blogspot.com/2020/03/converting-pirates-of-drinax-to-m-space.html

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Read my Runeblog about RuneQuest and Glorantha at: http://elruneblog.blogspot.com.es/

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So, I finally got the fillable PDF M-Space character sheet completed.  I added a bit of art taken from the rulebook just to jazz up the character sheet.  Time permitting I'll try and get the sheets (ships, alien lifeforms, etc.)made fillable too.  Let me know if there are any issues with the character sheet, such as font size or repeating text boxes. 

It can be downloaded here: http://www.mediafire.com/file/6g6306hbyikahfg/M-Space_CS_Fillable.pdf/file

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On 3/24/2020 at 12:00 AM, Runeblogger said:

Pirates of Drinax for Traveller is one of the few classic sci-fi mega-campaigns. Pentallion converted most of it to M-Space. Now he’s collected his conversion advice in an article here:

https://elruneblog.blogspot.com/2020/03/converting-pirates-of-drinax-to-m-space.html

 

This article made me want to play Pirates of Drinax.

I went to DriveThruRPG and it was reasonably cheap but the exchange rate is a killer for me at the moment, so I desisted. Especially since I have not much chance of playing it in COVID-19 lockdown. Maybe later. I'm still thinking about it.

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1 hour ago, Questbird said:

This article made me want to play Pirates of Drinax.

I went to DriveThruRPG and it was reasonably cheap but the exchange rate is a killer for me at the moment, so I desisted. Especially since I have not much chance of playing it in COVID-19 lockdown. Maybe later. I'm still thinking about it.

Same! :) 

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