Science Fiction and OSR

Started a blog recently that I may update periodically. Main reason was to write down some thoughts on Space Stations as Dungeons.

However, I also wanted to use this as a kick-off for people to talk about Science Fiction and how it does or doesn’t relate to OSR. It seems like the mindset that stems from the OSR play-style allows for Sci-Fi but don’t see as many Sci-Fi games being released.

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I’ve been running a Sci Fi campaign for about a year now. I also run one a few years ago that last the same amount of time. I like to alternate and mix it up every now and again. I don’t get too caught up in the “science” aspect of it though - run a very rules light space opera type campaign. All my rules light sci fi stuff is in my game Star Dogs: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/295403/Star-Dogs--Players-Handbook (let me know if you desperately want a copy and i’ll send you one).

Regarding space stations as dungeons…

Here’s my outpost/space station generator https://lizardmandiaries.blogspot.com/2019/11/automated-sci-fi-outpostspace-station.html and then you can stock any dangerous areas with this https://lizardmandiaries.blogspot.com/2019/11/automated-sci-fi-dangerous-sector.html . They generate places and room in a similar method to the ideas in your blog post.

My campaign is very open ended - the first 10 ish sessions were the players hustling to get a ship. From there they’ve sort of become a bunch of pirates/free lance mercenaries. Its a lot like a hex crawl but in space so I made a bunch of generation tools for easily coming up with planets/aliens/npcs etc (they are all here: https://lizardmandiaries.blogspot.com/2020/01/star-dogs-galaxy-sector-creation-kit.html + all the tables are in the star dogs referees handbook). Sci fi is fun!

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@LizardMan These resources are great. Definitely saving these.

I’ve stumbled across Star Dogs and I would definitely take a copy. Always down to take a look at other Sci-Fi systems.

Here you go :slight_smile: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1XTm2Xau3X3CtUZLoSWju97HEM2vP5IFD/view?usp=sharing

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Great idea for a discussion. I really want to run a sci-fi osr game but my players aren’t interested :disappointed_relieved:. I think one obstacle with running Sci-fi OSR games is the OSR reliance on player skill over character skill. Everyone intuitively knows what a rope or some pebbles or a candle is capable of but the introduction of future technology leads to uncertainty occasionally I feel like.


Like this list of equipment from SWN, what are the limitations of this tech etc are things that bog down play imo.

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i would def ask players what they think the limitations are.

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https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/adamxvass/necronautilus a new
scifi osr game. looks very awesome :0

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I think what kind of holds back Sci-Fi OSR rule sets is general interest from the around the scene’s player base and the general presence that Sci-Fi TTRPGs have period across the TTRPG community. Not saying there is Zero Interest in Sci-Fi Rulesets, but the ones that are available are usually tied to a long running ruleset (Traveller), something that has come upon the scene recently (Starfinder), or is licensed by a larger group (Star Wars) or an independent work.

Personally, I kind of want to try and develop a Ruleset or at least hash out the basic outline for a Sci-Fi Ruleset in the vain of Spelljammer where it’s a mix between Sci-Fi and Fantasy to help pull players with something familiar.

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Yeah. I’m hoping to see more OSR-adjacent Sci-Fi systems start to come about and looking to put some out myself in the near future too.

My initial thought was more focused on Hard Sci-Fi than Science Fantasy. More along the lines of Expanse than Flash Gordon. @Kingroy23 probably has a good point with item lists and familiarity. It’s easier to describe low-tech equipment and have an immediate sense of what to do with it.

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i dont think this argument really works, because there are spell lists in fantasy games with which the players are also unfamiliar.

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I’m presenting somewhere else on the discourse OSR my newest attempt at a Sci-Fi game based on microlite 5th (and the black Hack):

For those who really get excited for a “alien meets Blade runner”-Black-Hack-derivation, I would really recommend “Extinction”. Best OSR SciFi I read in a while:
Extinction on DTRPG

That’s a very good point. I’m trying to put together a sci-fi version of my gritty-fantasy hack, and one of the main elements I’m trying to stick with is making sure that every ability and cybernetic is simple, crunchy and easy to explain. The way I see it, you could save a lot of trouble with those SWN items by not using contractions for no reason and actually saying what things are, rather than making them sound sci-fi-ish at the cost of readability.

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