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Thread: Epic Space Opera and BRP Mecha

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    Default Epic Space Opera and BRP Mecha

    Today I saw an RPGNet inquiry on how "epic space opera" can work in BRP. A very general inquiry, and while I am interested in the subject I fear I might have been very little help. The only thought I had was adapting some of the rules material in BRP Mecha to fighting space vehicles.

    Even that would probably only work on the scale of small ships -- something like the Millennium Falcon would probably be the top end of the scale. The roleplaying paradigm breaks down a bit the bigger the ships and crews get. If you're playing Honor Harrington and commanding a ship or a fleet, the GM has to find stuff for the other players to do. And the Enterprise-D, with a crew of more than a thousand, would have very little for most of them to do in a big fight. (Mind you, there are many, many types of adventures you can have on an exploration/war ship, but if you want to be important in a big starship battle there are only a few things you can be.)

    But some things in the genre are still doable as well. A lot of characters in the d100 multiverse are alien -- many of them very alien -- so it shouldn't be too hard to populate a universe with weird and wonderful critters. Or even move some around a bit (Dragonewts in space, anyone?).

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    Ah, but genre conventions are your friend - if you are running a game on the Enterprise D, the player characters are the command crew, so are always the people taking the crucial decisions in a ship to ship action, and for somereason always the ones in the away team...

    the FASA Trek RPG Ship combat system had separate control panels for each role (Helm, Gunnery, Engineering etc) - worked quite well IIRC.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Hopcroft View Post
    Today I saw an RPGNet inquiry on how "epic space opera" can work in BRP. A very general inquiry, and while I am interested in the subject I fear I might have been very little help. The only thought I had was adapting some of the rules material in BRP Mecha to fighting space vehicles.
    Mecha rules would probably work for Space Ships.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Hopcroft View Post
    Even that would probably only work on the scale of small ships -- something like the Millennium Falcon would probably be the top end of the scale. The roleplaying paradigm breaks down a bit the bigger the ships and crews get. If you're playing Honor Harrington and commanding a ship or a fleet, the GM has to find stuff for the other players to do. And the Enterprise-D, with a crew of more than a thousand, would have very little for most of them to do in a big fight. (Mind you, there are many, many types of adventures you can have on an exploration/war ship, but if you want to be important in a big starship battle there are only a few things you can be.)
    The same thing applies to any military unit, no matter which genre. How do you deal with PCs on a battleship, on a pirate ship, in an army? They have the same issues as crew on a space ship.

    Do you need everyone to be involved in a spaceship battle? Unless you are a gunner, pilot, commander or engineer then you probably won't have a part to play.

    What if the life support system is hit? Then the different technicians come into play. The Sewage Disposal Technician Second Class comes into his own when the sewage pipes are cracked and can cause bacterial infection of the whole crew.

    Finding roles for each of the PCs to play is not an issue for BRP. The same thing would apply to a Traveller game, for example.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Hopcroft View Post
    But some things in the genre are still doable as well. A lot of characters in the d100 multiverse are alien -- many of them very alien -- so it shouldn't be too hard to populate a universe with weird and wonderful critters. Or even move some around a bit (Dragonewts in space, anyone?).
    Sure, BRP has a strong history of playable aliens, no matter that the aliens have been fantasy races. It is no big jump to playing people from a different planet.
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    "Dragonewts in space, anyone?"

    It's Dragonewts and Dropships! The ultimate human vs. reptilian galactic war simulation. Otherwise known as D&D. Er, um, wait. Well ... maybe not.

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    Dragonewts' tendency to be bizarre in terms of their behavior, to the point that humans think they're mad, would make them interesting as space aliens. They might not have a real empire, but they do have talents that make their services in many areas in demand. Nobody who isn't a Dragonewt has ever been to their homeworld (assuming it even exists) so they're still a complete mystery.

    Dragonewts are already very alien in Glorantha. Put them in space and they become really alien.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Hopcroft View Post
    Dragonewts' tendency to be bizarre in terms of their behavior, to the point that humans think they're mad, would make them interesting as space aliens. They might not have a real empire, but they do have talents that make their services in many areas in demand. Nobody who isn't a Dragonewt has ever been to their homeworld (assuming it even exists) so they're still a complete mystery.

    Dragonewts are already very alien in Glorantha. Put them in space and they become really alien.
    Inscrutable, mysterious reptilian enemies (or allies) are good. Even if they're on your side, you're not sure why or what they might do next.

    Personally, I'd like to see Ducks in a space opera setting. They've been booted out of RuneQuest, so surely Duckworld is a planet that exists in the PCs' universe -- homeworld to fearless, wily adventurers. The endurance of Flash Gordon, the cunning of Buck Rogers, the avarice of Harry Mudd, all rolled into one waist-high package wrapped in shiny white spandex jumpsuits.

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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Hopcroft View Post
    Dragonewts' tendency to be bizarre in terms of their behavior, to the point that humans think they're mad, would make them interesting as space aliens. They might not have a real empire, but they do have talents that make their services in many areas in demand. Nobody who isn't a Dragonewt has ever been to their homeworld (assuming it even exists) so they're still a complete mystery.

    Dragonewts are already very alien in Glorantha. Put them in space and they become really alien.
    Its a great idea, if you've ever read the 'Bug Wars' by Robert Asprin ( one of his earlier jaunts )
    apply the 'Tzen' as Dragonewts and you have a awesome advanced alien race with swords & blasters .. technically a 'flamer' but you'll get the point

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    BRP Mecha does have some stuff for space ships. It could work for a Space Opera setting. You could pretty much run something like Space Cruiser Yamato or Macross fairly easily. The major hurdle is coming up with your own ships. Your pretty much going to have to figure that out on your own, using the example ships as benhcmarks.

    You might even be able to use the mecha design rules as capital ship design rules by kicking up the SIZ scores to capital ship levels. Maybe even try adding another "scale" and bump everything up by 10 again?

    For something like a Star Trek setting, you might be able to come up with some sort of key for stats. Like using the Size class of other Trek RPGs as a hint. Or the phaser "type".
    Smiley when you say that.

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    Phasers are interesting. If you're hit with a phaser set to kill or disintegrate, you're toast. Stun will almost always KO just about anyone (but I can't imagine it not doing more serious harm if done repeatedly or to the wrong person). Makes combat different. Phaser duels are quick and brutal, especially given that they are also pretty accurate for handguns. Literal point-and-slay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NickMiddleton View Post
    Ah, but genre conventions are your friend - if you are running a game on the Enterprise D, the player characters are the command crew, so are always the people taking the crucial decisions in a ship to ship action, and for some reason always the ones in the away team...
    That's one convention that really bothers me. Were I doing a Star-Trek-like game, I'd do one of the following:
    1. Players start off as red-shirts and/or bridge crew, following orders from command officers who usually stay on the bridge. (I think ADB's Prime Directive works like this. See John Scalzi's Redshirts for an extreme example of how this might work.)
    2. Players have two or three sets of characters: away-team, bridge crew, and command staff
    3. The ship is small/automated enough that the PCs are at least half the available crew.
    4. The starship is huge and powerful, but the PCs fly a shuttle to/from/around the planet.


    And don't get me started on transporters. Or alien-human hybrids. Or phaser disintegration. Or ... well, lots of things.
    Frank
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