I presented at a convention last year, talking about the history of science fiction roleplaying games. I’m in the process of switching that up and editing it for future use. But it was fun to research and pull together, because science fiction RPGs have always taken a back seat to fantasy RPGs. Recently, though, with a resurgence of popular sci-fi TV and movie properties, SF RPGs are popping up all over the place.
The first one I ever played was Metamorphosis Alpha, an indirect precursor to TSR’s Gamma World. You played as the (sometimes mutated) descendants of colony ship Warden’s crew and passengers, who don’t realize their world is actually a failing generation ship. It had its flaws, but it worked for eleven-year-old Brent because it still had a fantasy feel because of the relatively low-tech involved. It also informed a lot of how I would later run the AD&D module Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, where D&D characters explore a crashed starship.
Flash forward to this year, and I have found a new SF RPG to love. Mothership is a tight, well-written game of sci-fi horror roleplaying. Think Alien, think Event Horizon, think Starship Troopers with less humour; this is the type of world your characters will inhabit. Better yet, think of everything you love doing in other RPGs. Then imagine your characters doing all that in the inhospitable vacuum of space. At almost every turn you are forced to choose between pushing to do the necessary thing, or resting and hoping that won’t lead to disaster. The game is currently in alpha, with a full release planned for 2020. I await it with bated breath; hopefully my oxygen holds out.
What’s your favourite space RPG? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.