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Why did BRP never establish a 'Classic' Sci-fi setting?


TrippyHippy

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Y'all know BRP. Famous for being the first commercial attempt at being a 'generic, universal' system. Established in 'classic' RPGs - RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu, and to an extent Stormbringer too. Influenced many other games, especially Pendragon. Yet it never really put together a 'classic' sci-fi setting, that sticks in gamer memory. Why is this?

I mean, I do know that there was a Ringworld adaptation, while some other sci-fi games appear to have used similar systems towards their designs over the years (Paranoia used a percentile based system originally, and I'm sure that there has been a percentile based Star Trek game along the line). I'm also aware that there are some sci-fi settings being written now, as well as Cthulhu scenarios. You could also argue that the W40KRP games are distant relatives of BRP too.

Yet no real successful, or 'official' high profile BRP sci-fi game.

I'm not complaining, as such. I have Traveller which tends to account for most of my needs - but it always seemed such an obvious omission in Chaosium's stable - with RQ and CoC counting as fairly archetypal, but distinctive games in the fantasy and horror genres respectively, why nothing for sci-fi?

Should game companies seek to do anything about it now? What high profile licensed sci-fi setting would make an excellent BRP game, that manages to draw the best from it's qualities in the same manner that RQ and CoC do?

Edited by TrippyHippy
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Yet it never really put together a 'classic' sci-fi setting, that sticks in gamer memory. Why is this?

I would call it a string of very bad luck. There have been several attempts, including Ringworld,

Other Suns and - for the post-apocalyptic genre - The Morrow Project, all using the BRP system,

but all not exactly commercial successes, for widely different reasons.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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TrippyHippy said:

Should game companies seek to do anything about it now? What high profile licensed sci-fi setting would make an excellent BRP game, that manages to draw the best from it's qualities in the same manner that RQ and CoC do?

I'd like to see a BRP version of Cubicle 7's Mindjammer setting (for Starblazer Adventures), or something very similar, and published by the Alephtar games/Cubicle 7 coalition. But I don't think it likely to happen.:(

Edited by Conrad
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http://www.basicrps.com/core/BRP_quick_start.pdf A sense of humour and an imagination go a long way in roleplaying. ;)
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The "coalition" cannot publish 20 books per year, and we already have another China book, new versions of our RQ Fantasy Europe titles and campaigns for Rome and Dragon Lines in the pipeline. We could do something techno-fantasy in double stat format in the near future, but it would certainly be based on OpenQuest and not on "pure" BRP.

There will be some rules for sci-fi vehicle combat in BRP Mecha (I ran a very fun combat of four knightmares vs. two Apache helos last tuesday), but not detailed rules for vehicle construction like in GURPS. But expect stats for capital ships, and at least one scenario of a mecha squad assaulting a space cruiser or even a space station.

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I think part of it simply is that on the whole SF games, especially ones more on the hard-SF side than science fantasy haven't been exactly the biggest dogs in the RPG marketplace in the first place. Outside of Traveller, there's been rather mixed success in general. When you consider that most of the formal BRP based games have been licensed products, there's another layer there.

There are also some mechanical issues; BRP can sometimes be a somewhat unforgiving system, so its probably a coincidence that the most modern adaptation that really flew was CoC, which is generally oriented away from combat pretty heavily.

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What is a "realistic" mech in your opinion? :)

Like I wrote, Mechwarriors, more like walking tanks and such. Have you seen the anime FLAG? thats one type. And then like the N.E.G mechas in the rpg Cthulhutech.

mechwarrior41.jpg

gladius.jpg

They are not swooping around like ninjas with magical super powers, but are a biped/multiped walker weapons platform.

Tea and Madness

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What high profile licensed sci-fi setting would make an excellent BRP game, that manages to draw the best from it's qualities in the same manner that RQ and CoC do?

I'm curious if anyone can list a "high-profile" sci-fi setting that isn't either already licensed or has enough name-brand recognition to warrant the license fee.

Star Wars - licensed by WEG, then WotC, now sort of abandoned

Star Trek - licensed by FASA, then Decipher, died with Decipher... now probably out of anyone's price range

A Princess of Mars - protected by Disney now, probably out of anyone's price range

Battlestar Galactica - licensed by MWP, now abandoned

Dune - licensed by LUG, then by WotC, abandoned due to problems with licensor

Ringworld - licensed by Chaosium, unavailable due to problems with licensor

Serenity/Firefly - licensed by MWP, successful game line that ran its course

The Matrix - licensed once by Decipher, problematic, was never published

Riverworld - done by GURPS

Planet of Adventure - done by GURPS

Doctor Who - licensed by Cubicle 7, still in development

Starship Troopers - licensed by Mongoose, has run its course

Babylon 5 - licensed by Chameleon Eclectic, then Mongoose, has run its course

Red Dwarf - obscure RPG, not a big seller

Farscape - licensed by AEG, poor-quality game, game line retroactively killed before release

After those, I have a hard time thinking of name-brand sci-fi settings... Buck Rogers? Flash Gordon? Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Blade Runner? Terminator?

I have a short list of a few interesting sci-fi licenses that haven't been made into RPGs, but I'm curious if anyone can name others I might be overlooking.

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The Culture setting by Iain Banks springs to mind.

But honestly, why do so many people want licensed settings? I'd much prefer to see a clever and thoughtful setting created by a writer of RPG games than a writer of television shows or films.

Edited by Thalaba
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Here are a few of the names of "high profile" game settings that might work as RPGs, and have never been attempted (to the best of my knowledge):

Logan's Run - post-apocalyptic setting, science-fiction elements, etc.

X-Com - the computer game... an established IP, alien invasion and action

Heavy Metal - a grab-all name that wouldn't need to be tied to a specific IP or comic strip within the actual magazine... just a crazy mix of pulpy sci-fi and action, with a sexy quasi-European rock-and-roll angle

Fallout, Mass Effect, Starcraft, etc. - probably outside the budget of any RPG studio to afford as an IP

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There is ony one licensed science fiction setting I would really jump at without hesitation,

because it would be truly perfect for my kind of roleplaying:

Mars Trilogy - Kim Stanley Robinson

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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The problem is that BRP has never been a gear-heavy game, which I'm sure has a lot to do with Traveller's success - even if you can't find any players, you can spend years happily making up characters, planets, star systems, vehicles and spaceships. I've never been able to successfully merge a gear-design system with the BRP system. That might not be necessary, but i like the idea of a complete game system which follows the same elegant principles, rather than a lot of ad-hoc add-ons.

As for other SF games, as has been mentioned they come, run their course, and go. Licensed settings tend to do that, it seems. I, too, would prefer a well-thought-out original setting written specifically for the game, but the fact is that fiction authors tend to come up with more interesting stuff than gamers. That said, Bladerunner seemed to work particularly well with BRP whenever I've run or played it, as did Aliens and Blakes 7. All probably out of Chaosium price range. Licenses, in oder to be worth having for the name recognition, must be famous and hence expensive.

I don't think it has anything to do with BRP's "lethality" because Traveller is also pretty lethal. SF games tend to be a bit less combat heavy than fantasy, anyway, because people are expected to be a bit more civilised.

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You mean those Knightmares from Rebellion of leblauch (ore something like that?) - or a special thing in the book?

Yes, "Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion". And the one you portrayed is the RPI-029 Gloucester of Princess Cornelia vi Britannia, one of the few models that use mainly melee weapons. The other knightmare frames usually wield machineguns and autocannons, not lances.

I have a short list of a few interesting sci-fi licenses that haven't been made into RPGs, but I'm curious if anyone can name others I might be overlooking.

Aliens, Predator. The Cthorr series (but it has a GURPS book).

A setting I would really like to make one day is John Varley's "Titan", or the Nine Worlds. They were the "coolest thing" of sci-fi in the 80s, and both are perfect for BRP, as they let you play really weird creatures or surgically enhanced humans.

I don't think it has anything to do with BRP's "lethality" because Traveller is also pretty lethal. SF games tend to be a bit less combat heavy than fantasy, anyway, because people are expected to be a bit more civilised.

Absolutely true. Space opera has a lot of combat, but less than fantasy. And hard sci-fi has less opportunities for PCs to get into a fight than, say, pulp.

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Aliens

Aliens had been officially released in Italy as a BRP supplement several years ago. I guess it would be impossible to translate it into English and to re-publish it (the rights must be super expensive).

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Yes, by Stratelibri. The exact title was "Giocare Alien". I reckon they had the rights: the front covers bears a huge 20th Century Fox logo, with the sentence "in collaborazione con 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment".

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Oh, I found it. But it is not a supplement, it is just a special number of the "Excalibur" zine. As I said, they did it for X-Files, too. I think they had an agreement with 20th Century Italy, but not the rights to publish a RPG, so they went with a special issue of the zine. Something like the X-Men stats that were posted here some months ago.

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Aliens was published as an RPG from Leading Edge Entertainment a couple of decades ago. It was astonishingly crunchy, and even had neat little minis packs of Colonial Space Marines and aliens.

I don't necessarily think it would be a particularly great RPG, though, unless you broadened the scope so much it became unrecognizable.

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If I could develop any sci-fi setting into an RPG I'd go with the Galactic Empire created by Asimov in his expanded Foundation series. There's a lot of "history" to play with there, and I'm not sure exactly when I'd set it. Perhaps during the Mule's consolidation of the Union of Worlds when it's still unknown that Trantor is the Second Foundation.

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