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Suggestion for a Science Fiction RPG based on the upcoming 'Hyperspace' board game.
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Spaceresearcher
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July 22, 2020 - 11:21 pm

Dear Petersen Games,

   I’ll paste in a suggestion I originally made through Facebook and it was suggested I post it here on the forum for your consideration.

 

Hello Petersen Games, as everyone who backed and late backed the fantastic looking Scifi game ‘Hyperspace’, eagerly awaits it’s arrival and like yourselves is slightly frustrated by the pandemic that none of us can do anything about except assist in ensuring it burns out killing off the minimum number of people, I got thinking about Sci-Fi RPG’s to take my mind away from the confounded threat while isolating.

Twas reading through some Call Of Cthulhu and suddenly it occurred to me that surely the Hyperspace universe would make an ideal setting for a SciFi RPG. What I’ve personally always loved about the Call Of Cthulhu RPG, is how well designed it is and how much sense the system makes. Percentile systems are something anyone can get there head around. We all know the difference between 0, 10, 50 and 100% for example, so it just makes logical sense. It also pins everything down in the game nicely so there’s no issues about the rules or what a character can and can’t do successfully(or at least with the best chance of success). The strangest aspect of the game is that in a sense it’s a horror game and a Sci-Fi game. However there is yet to be a pure Sci-Fi game that absolutely nails it for getting the rules just right. Case in point, would be the most well known Scifi RPG system “Traveller’. While this game was certainly great, especially for the first system, it’s always had error’s and to this day it’s frustratingly dipped into what’s essentially open source rules chaos. No 2 players can agree on the rules to use or even the actual galaxy they game in. Past games I played resulted in arguments over the universe they had gamed in previously and the current one, no matter how well you tried to put it and don’t get me started on the rules.

In comparison Call Of Cthulhu presents a system where players get together and actually agree on the well established rules, the creatures and locations are agreed on because there based on established well thought out backgrounds and of course real life actual places. It would be amazing if there was an RPG for the Scifi side of RPGing that actually could deliver what Call Of Cthulhu could. With Hyperspace the first thing that grabbed me was ‘YES, finally someone who understands and wants all aliens to be completely different. Who says they all look humanoid.’ I was thinking about the system and how well it may just suit a SciFi RPG system. A system with the straight forward no nonsense system of Call Of Cthulhu but set in a space faring setting. The closest system that ever came close was TSR’s Star Frontiers, which featured a straight forward percentile system and locked down skills. Alas that’s been out of print for many years, but to this day still has a dedicated fan following due to the fact it was just such a great system to use.

Fast forward to 2020 and you still have Traveller being updated(but it’s a massive mess of errors and pointless rules beyond what I’m confident could ever be repaired, let alone consider making it a playable fun game.) Anyway, I just thought I’d drop the idea and perhaps it’s something that a Kickstarter would be the ideal platform to try out, for a SciFi RPG system based on Hyperspace. If anyone could deliver a perfect Scifi RPG system(something that’s desperately needed by the RPG community.), it would be Petersen Games, featuring the main man who coined the game that is still mega loved by all us fans decades later, because the system works so well and even encourages a level of play that only a handful of games have ever come close to meeting(some of the White Wolf series of games along with perhaps Star Frontiers are the only ones that come to mind.) Otherwise systems that have simply expanded on the clunky ugly Advanced Dungeons and Dragons RPG system or altered that system to fit with there game. Worse systems like the Pathfinder and Starfinder system are to this gamer, so convoluted and weird in there number system, they don’t make logical sense. They work to a degree if you follow them but all I end up thinking is. OK, I have 3 numbers on one character stat and they all seem to make no sense but what a twisted group of game testers came up with as a ratio that worked for them. Compared with Call of Cthulhu which highlights, your stat out of a 100% and then 50% or 20% values of that stat. Makes logical sense, I don’t need to mix every dice type up just because a sadistic game designer felt that rolling as many different kinds of dice as possible was cool. In fact I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but a good example of how not to do a SciFi RPG was the terrible system ‘Aftermath’ by the Fantasy Games Unlimited company back in the early 80’s. The game was so full of rules, that it was practically unplayable. It was kind of like that classic board game ‘The Campaign For South Africa’ where some sadistic designer had a great goal of making it realistic but honestly who wants to calculate the rate of fuel evaporation based on cultural attributes of your army(French, Italian, German etc) to see if you can move your units to your desired point or if they will be left sitting on a battlefield 2 thirds of the way there etc which would be again calculated to factor in the terrain, wind factor and reliability of the particular vehicle???? Talk about boring. Thank goodness for Cthulhu Wars were just about anyone can quickly understand the rules and concentrate on having a fun game(and yes I do imagine I’m spawning a gate to bring forward my monsters all over the top of that pointless battle field in the Africa section of the game board.) Looking forward to Hyperspace and hope my suggestion for a Petersen Games developed SciFi RPG may perhaps be a possibility some day.

As this is a forum, I’d also love to hear from fellow gaming people as to what you think of this idea and how you’ve found SciFi RPGing one of the most frustrating genres to actually get a great game going in.

Your fan, Sean.

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LuckyHastur
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July 23, 2020 - 10:19 am

PG has said they are working on a RPG for hyperspace, which I am extremely excited for. The only rules they have hinted about so far is that you play a crew on a spaceship, and have rules for assigning crew to different sections of the ship to change it’s stats.

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Sandy Petersen
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July 23, 2020 - 12:04 pm

I do have a stub of a Hyperspace RPG and have played several sessions. In the same way that the “basic” system in Call of Cthulhu is that you investigate strange occurrences, the Hyperspace “basic” is that your team is the crew of a starship who travel from world to world as a sort of troubleshooter. 

I was already working on a game with the code name Starship Captain which is a tactical starship battle game, and I thought it, or a variation thereof, could be the space combat system for Hyperspace RPG except of course I want everyone aboard the ship to have jobs and things they can do during battle. 

Maybe I can try it out with a team of people from here at some point on Zoom or whatever perhaps when it is further along. 

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Spaceresearcher
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July 25, 2020 - 12:45 am

Wow, that’s great news to read, I look forward to seeing the result when the stars are right.

That makes sense, just like Investigator’s are banded together for to uncover dark secrets, so to the crew of a Starship will be banded together to go on exploratory missions, science missions, economic missions, covert missions etc.  It would certainly solve the issue that Traveller has where you always get that one player who wants to be the lone wolf renegade super soldier and do there own thing(even when it really doesn’t fit in with the adventure but you don’t want to cheese off a friend by killing them off to get back to the game your trying to run.)

Amidst all the incredible races of Hyperspace this will be most interesting.  I really look forward to seeing the Universe this will create. Finally a universe that all players will have to agree upon as there part of the same crew.

Would the Keeper be the Starship Captain by default, thus keeping the players locked into the game or could it be either way?  The only issue, could be the arguments over who’s captain and then players trying to mutiny if they wanted to be the captain etc?

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LuckyHastur
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July 25, 2020 - 2:05 pm

Well, I’ve played my fair share of sci-fi games, it doesn’t seem to be that difficult for a player to be a Starship Captain. As long as players aren’t dicks to each other it shouldn’t be a big deal for a player to be a captain. 

But well, even if players would like to mutiny, as the GM you should be a fair arbitrator of events. I personally would use that as a potential problem for the player playing the captain. “All of the crew are whispering behind your back and seem to be sharpening their knives. How do you respond?” 

And if PCs are the ones fighting, maybe they shouldn’t play together then? You might have to sit them all down and say, “Hey, don’t be jerks. We’re playing a game for fun. If you’re way of fun is to aggravate others, you need to reorganize your priorities.”

Me and my table are pretty new-school though. We don’t tolerate any Munchkining and generally assume all the players are allies from the start.

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Sandy Petersen
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July 30, 2020 - 2:28 pm

My idea is that the PCs and maybe a few hirelings are the majority of the crew of the starship. There’s not 900 NPCs working the ship that you are the boss of. Of course a mutiny would be a super fun adventure in my opinion so its possibility is no deal breaker. 

The players would have to choose a captain somehow. In my own campaign I’m running now one of the players is the anointed ship captain but he is emphatically not the party leader, except during space combat. 

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