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Author Topic: Space Opera Gaming  (Read 6948 times)

Heavy Josh

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #45 on: December 12, 2021, 04:13:59 PM »
This is not about systems, per se. This is about genre conceits and "what is cool". AND more importantly, do established Space Opera settings get in the way of your ability to enjoy other settings in the genre?

What elements do you like in a Space Opera?

I like Traveller's baseline assumption that there's no interstellar FTL communications. It is a great way to keep the action focused on the PCs and makes the players responsible for their decisions. It's also a very easy thing to get your head around, and feels like a weird old-timey age-of-sail setting choice that activates all the science fiction muscles.

Politics have to be non-utopian, and almost always should show how there's no technological solutions to current political problems that don't cause more problems and issues down the road. There shouldn't be many (if any) clear "good guys" or "bad guys", though I'm not averse to having political villains that are there for the adventurers to fight. One thing that I do enjoy about science fiction is that it does provide many opportunities to comment on real-world issues while keeping a bit of distance. I have one campaign that is all about the PCs spreading civilization and scientific knowledge to planets recovering from the Scream (Stars Without Number). And it has become a commentary on military/political intervention and colonialism, without me having to force it. It's really interesting to watch how the players come to their decisions vis a vis which local government to prop up, which to destroy... neat!

I'm a fan of WW2 dogfights-in-space, but I recognize that it's difficult to pull off well for many campaign styles--unless everyone's a pilot. There is a danger in every scifi game that I run for the whole campaign to turn into the Battle of Britain/USMC Corsair pilots flying off of a small carrier. Some see this as a bug. Some do not.  I do enjoy age of sail ship of the line style space combat because I enjoy age of sail adventure literature too, but Star Wars hooked me early.

I can take or leave psionics or transhumanism, though I enjoyed Altered Carbon on Netflix. Psionics can be fun, but it has to be super-dangerous to the psion. Less like Vancian space-magic.

I like eldritch creatures from non-Euclidian universes/Precursor aliens that left megastructures and monoliths. Just creepy and really makes humanity feel small and ant-like. Yes, I have been enjoying the Expanse TV series and novels, why do you ask?

Exploration should be blue-collar like from Zozer Games' Hostile/Explorers publications. Corporations, unions, and scientific interests should be competing and screwing over PCs all the time. Environmental and other natural hazards are great as well.

Historical linguistics in space: evolution of language, culture, and religion is great. It's like a little bit of archaeology-as-easter-eggs in a game setting.


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What KILLS Space Opera for you when it raises its head?

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SpaceJews. Space Jews. Seriously. Not Jewish people in science fiction. Just the trope of racialized characters and cultures mimicking modern-day cultures and stereotypes. A little cultural borrowing for the purposes of filling in a setting is fine. Even welcome, when you have settings where today's societies have settled space (2300, for example). But out-and-out "let's have alien/society X be like modern culture Y" just makes me roll my eyes. It's lazy and dull.

Any willful lack of religion is dumb. Just because it's the future doesn't mean that religion suddenly disappears. Religion is not something to be overcome. Taking it out of a setting just removes adventure opportunities.






When you find yourself on the side of the majority, you should pause and reflect. -- Mark Twain

Aglondir

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #46 on: December 14, 2021, 03:35:24 AM »
Any willful lack of religion is dumb. Just because it's the future doesn't mean that religion suddenly disappears. Religion is not something to be overcome. Taking it out of a setting just removes adventure opportunities.

But mainstream Space Opera doesn't take religion out of the setting. Quite the opposite. 

* Star Trek started humanist, maybe even atheist, but by NextGen we see the Federation treats American Indian religions and Vulcan mysticism with respect. In DS9 there is the Religion of the Prophets, which has priests, scared texts, a messiah figure, and a close-minded orthodoxy. Entire episodes, if not the entire series, centers around it. In Voyager, a major character is religious, and his beliefs are featured in several episodes. It's a bit weird we never see any other mainstream Earth religions, but there's definitely religion in Trek.

* Star Wars has the Force, which an imperial commander once said was a "hokey religion." That was probably the majority opinion of the galaxy at the time. In the past, the Jedi had a temple, a library of sacred texts, and a mystic tradition. C3PO mentions "The Maker,"perhaps a god of droids? And the Mandolorians have "The Way" which seems quasi-religious.

* Babylon 5 probably takes the award. In one show, a Catholic priest, a Baptist preacher, and a Minbari mystic compare their faiths. Entire shows feature religious elements and themes, like the one that featured a Catholic monastery and explored the concept of forgiveness. We even get to see a major character heralded as a modern day religious icon, much to his dismay.

* New Battlestar Galactica probably comes in second place. A new monotheistic cult challenged the existing polythetistic religion. The show even touched on issue of separation of church and state, when some of the citizens questioned if the president was being influenced too much by religious leaders.

* Firefly didn't do much with religion, but they did acknowledge that it still existed. One of the characters was a "shepherd," probably a modern version of a Christian pastor. Granted the writers seemed more interested in hinting at his mysterious past than bringing religious elements into the show, but it was there.

* Dune is too complex to encapsulate in a single forum post, but... Orange Catholic Bible. Zensunni.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2021, 03:37:32 AM by Aglondir »

S'mon

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #47 on: December 14, 2021, 09:09:26 AM »
* Star Trek started humanist, maybe even atheist, but by NextGen we see the Federation treats American Indian religions and Vulcan mysticism with respect.

Uhura: "It's not the Sun in the Sky... it's the Son of God!"

I'd say she was probably Christian, and judging by other comments the Federation/Earth ruling class seem agnostic overall. By Next Gen the Federation ruling class are Atheist, paralleling developments in Southern California 60s to 80s, but treat Hippy New Age mysticism stuff with respect.

horsesoldier

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #48 on: December 14, 2021, 12:59:32 PM »
What elements do you like in a Space Opera?

Whole wide galaxy to explore, settlements on the fringes, low populated dangerous worlds, ability to make/lose a fortune. Kind of like the west in America post civil war I guess.

 - Human space federation?

As long as it is decentralized. Holy Roman Empire as opposed to the British Empire.

 - FTL?

Yes, and not instant.

 - Pseudo-Science?

Can't really have sci fi gaming without pseudo science. But I prefer it to be vague and not overly used.

 - Lots of humanoid aliens?

No, hardly any. Aliens should be alien and dangerous.

 - Capital ship customization and combat?

No, I've never been interested in capital ship combat. Corvette and below. Sloops fighting each other kind of scale. Where all of the crew can have names.

 - Fighter-scale combat?

Yes.

 - Psionics? How powerful?

Very powerful, very dangerous, controlled, misunderstood.

 - Politics/Exploration?

This is the biggest element to me. That's what space opera is, politics/exploration.


What KILLS Space Opera for you when it raises its head?

Anything Star Wars adjacent. Thick lore. Games that try too hard to extrapolate modern tech into the future.

Rhymer88

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #49 on: December 23, 2021, 08:31:07 AM »
Do any of you have experience with Battlelords of the Twenty-Third Century? How is it?

palaeomerus

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #50 on: December 23, 2021, 09:51:00 AM »


This thing? I'm not sure. I think I remember it being some kind of outgrowth of the old Kryomek table top war game (sort of a fake giger-aliens things with AT-ST like walkers and some weird resin tanks and hab module type scenery.) Probably wrong about that. Maybe I am thinking of Warlords?
Emery

Rhymer88

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #51 on: December 23, 2021, 11:08:01 AM »
Is that an older edition? I think this is the current version:


Batjon

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #52 on: December 23, 2021, 11:44:34 AM »
FrontierSpace by DWD Studios is excellent.

Stars Without Number by Sine Nomine Studios is great.

Fading Suns 4th. edition by Ulisses Spiele as well.

Greentongue

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #53 on: December 23, 2021, 02:47:22 PM »
Are series like "Killjoys" considered Space Opera? There is a clear Evil and the characters are "The Good Guys/Girl".

What about narrativest games like "Scum & Villainy"? It has the overall Bad People that will WIN if not opposed by the Crew.

palaeomerus

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #54 on: December 23, 2021, 04:08:52 PM »
Scum and Villainy is a Farscape/Firefly/Blake's 7 kind of deal. Jerks on the run trying to make money smuggling or robbing people or playing enforcer, disappear before the authorities or enemies spot them, and get out of any trouble they fall into along the way. It links adventures into a campaign that has a sort of opfor that gets feedback from what players attempt, and what they succeed and fail at. So if players score big, and word gets out they need to kick up to lenders/sponsors/associated or they risk being hit, their stuff stolen, or exposed to pursuers, or someone coming to make an ultimatum, getting thrown out of a protective organization or not allowed to do anymore business with a neglected or offended party...that sort of thing.
Emery

jeff37923

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #55 on: December 23, 2021, 06:47:38 PM »
FrontierSpace by DWD Studios is excellent.

Stars Without Number by Sine Nomine Studios is great.

Fading Suns 4th. edition by Ulisses Spiele as well.

In Your Humble Opinion
"I do not want to create a story, I want to create a stage. The player characters will perform on that stage and interact with the setting. When the players talk to their friends about what their characters did, then there will be a story."

Batjon

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #56 on: December 24, 2021, 12:29:42 AM »
FrontierSpace by DWD Studios is excellent.

Stars Without Number by Sine Nomine Studios is great.

Fading Suns 4th. edition by Ulisses Spiele as well.

In Your Humble Opinion

Nope, in FACT.

jeff37923

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #57 on: December 24, 2021, 08:06:16 AM »
FrontierSpace by DWD Studios is excellent.

Stars Without Number by Sine Nomine Studios is great.

Fading Suns 4th. edition by Ulisses Spiele as well.

In Your Humble Opinion

Nope, in FACT.

The FACT being Your Humble Opinion.

It's OK, everyone believes that their own way is the Truth.
"I do not want to create a story, I want to create a stage. The player characters will perform on that stage and interact with the setting. When the players talk to their friends about what their characters did, then there will be a story."

HappyDaze

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #58 on: December 24, 2021, 10:06:53 AM »
FrontierSpace by DWD Studios is excellent.

Stars Without Number by Sine Nomine Studios is great.

Fading Suns 4th. edition by Ulisses Spiele as well.

In Your Humble Opinion

Nope, in FACT.
What is the Fading Suns 4e system like?

Ocule

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Re: Space Opera Gaming
« Reply #59 on: December 26, 2021, 12:04:34 AM »
I usually think 40k when I think space opera. It’s not my go to genre but I think for a good space opera the characters trump setting. Science shouldn’t be outright bad but should make sense in context of the world, high action, heroic or tragic. But I think space opera is firmly planted in soft scifi but not usually to the rocket ship weirdness of early scifi.

To me I think what really loses me crappy characters, uninteresting civilizations or conflicts, or anything that is oh so random lolz. A good example of a failure is Star finder. World is inconsistent doesn’t make sense and made heavy use of “it’s magic we don’t have to justify shit”

Good settings
Warhammer 40k
Dune
5th element
Firefly
Farscape (characters made this enjoyable)
Original trilogy Star Wars
Mass effect 1-3

I also hate any tech that’s function is anything you can think of at the time.

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