Resources For Every GM: Alternative Games Part 5

Today we have a set of games to try out at your table that aren’t D&D. If you are relatively new here, this is one of my resource topics simply because much of the mechanical content of this blog is D&D based. Furthermore, I reference and play that game more than any other. But I want to share other games and expand readers’ potential experiences. So, the theme for today’s set of RPGs is space! All three are sci-fi games of various types and mechanics that you should look into if you are looking for a change of pace.

Star Wars (FFG)

Star Wars is a wonderful setting that many (most?) of us know and love. Regardless of what your favorite movies are or how involved in the expanded universe (or Legacy universe) you might be, there is sooooooo much room for doing things. The great thing about Star Wars is the heavy fantastical bent that the whole universe has. Despite being a science-fiction franchise, it is arguably more fantasy than sci-fi. Between force users, laser swords, and ridiculous amounts of different species and technology that have no scientific explanation there is plenty of room to do whatever you want here while still having it feel heavily sci-fi. Of course that doesn’t even begin to cover things like themed worlds (lava, snow, desert, jungle, etc.) that comes straight out of fantasy style universes. Beyond that let’s talk about how awesome the Fantasy Flight Games version of the Star Wars RPG is fantastic. The system is not a sliding number scale, but instead uses different types of dice to make dice pools of varying success probabilities. For every positive die type there is a negative type. Totaling these determines success vs fail and the degree to which it happens. It can also add on a threat or a positive outcome. The end result is that there are possibilities of failing forward and succeeding at cost built into the mechanics. More than that, the whole game encourages building a narrative from those die results. For some it may be challenging to do this, not having any guidance to add minor effects to so many rolls, but getting used to the system provides for some of the most fun game play I have seen. For those looking to play some Star Wars, this is definitely a great system with core books to cover Outer Rim adventures, Rebellion adventures, and even Force-related escapades.

Star Trek (Modiphius)

I really love this game, but I am going to keep the entry short. I reviewed the core book early this year and you can find it here. That being said there is something special about playing in the Star Trek universe. This is one of the most science fiction settings you will be familiar with, but it isn’t really HARD science. There is a lot of technobabble and things that follow in-universe rules but don’t actually exist. Of course there are great elements that make the universe fantastical. From the Traveler to the Q Continuum there are all kinds of explainable and strange events. The events of Star Trek are grounded in science but take things to the extremes of knowledge, experience, and exploration. More than that this is a wonderful setting to explore and be a part of. The short story on the mechanics is that they are very well done and fit exactly the framework that the shows are shown in. If you want to play in the Star Trek universe especially as a fan, Modiphius has done a superb job of providing you a game that feels great in every way.

Starfinder (Paizo)

From Paizo’s Starfinder Alien Archive

This is the farthest away from “actual” science fiction as you can get in an RPG. It is definitely science fantasy, but I had to include it. Hells, I haven’t even had a chance to play it yet despite having it on my shelf since January. The thing is, though, Paizo has done an incredible job with Pathfinder over the years and this was there shot at the future of their world and universe. What happens when you take a high fantasy setting and throw in laser weapons, space travel, and futuristic technology? Starfinder. There is so much to love about the game just on the surface, but with an experience company like Paizo, you can’t go wrong. This isn’t a game you should play if you are looking for realism or even sci-fi with touches of fantasy like Star Wars is. This is what you play when you want to see a goblin in a space suit whose helmet is cracked and taped. This is what you play when you want to wield tech and magic. This is what you get when you want to travel the stars and still be a cleric. I look forward to playing this game and confident in Paizo’s ability to produce a game. If you want high fantasy in a futuristic setting this has gotta be the game for you.

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