I don't know if it's Gen Con, the peak of the Perseid meteor shower or the confluence of the two, but this sure seems to be a banner month for science fiction RPGs in general. The genre is still overshadowed by fantasy setting releases such as Paizo's Pathfinder and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Unaffordable Edition, but there does seem to be plenty of renewed interest in SFRPGs.
Here's a sample, starting off with the flood of Mongoose's Traveller releases (looks like I picked a good time to quit
sniffing glue collecting them):
Golden Age Starships Compilation
Supplement 5: Civilian Vehicles
Supplement 6: Military Vehicles
Book 6: Scoundrel
Alien Module 1: Aslan
Mongoose is also releasing the 25th Anniversary edition of the classic Paranoia with Paranoia: Troubleshooters. And Shadowrun celebrates its 20th anniversary with, um, Shadowrun 20th Anniversary Edition. Also just released is the transhuman sci-fi Eclipse Phase, the Cthulhutech supplement Damnation View, FFG's Warhammer 40k game Rogue Trader, and Adamant Entertainment's new hardcover release of MARS: Savage Worlds Edition.
Also at risk of being overshadowed are some SFRPG releases from smaller outfits, but books I can't wait to get my hands on nonetheless.
First up, Grey Area Games has released the OGL-based X-Plorers: the Role Playing Adventures of Galactic Troubleshooters (pictured above) by David "grubman" Bezio. If you've ever wondered what would have happened in 1974 if Gary & Dave had tried to make a science fiction game rather than a fantasy game (using that same Original system), X-Plorer's may have been the result. The printed version is available for $12 ($6 PDF) through Lulu, and I'm going to wait until I have it before I do a proper review elsewhere, but you can check it out right now, absolutely FREE, on the X-Plorer's Downloads page. The Free version omits the art and some of the enhancements of the Full version, but is absolutely everything you need to start playing. So try it, then buy it! I'm really anxious to see what comes of this game. David is already planning on Galactic Troubleshooters, a quarterly supplement to the game, and it will be interesting to see if it gains the same kind of traction that other recent "old school" games such as OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry and Spellcraft & Swordplay have garnered. And of course (on topic), I'm interested to see how easily the "United Corporate Nations (UCN)" might translate to the UFP!
From Original-based old school to FATE-based new school, the long-awaited hard science fiction RPG, Diaspora, is finally here from VSCA Publishing with a 6x9 hardback available for $35 through their store at Lulu. Here are some description excerpts from the Diaspora Wiki (where you can find preview PDFs and other tools):
Humans have been in space tens of thousands of years, and societies have risen and fallen so many times that no one remembers where we come from.
Colonies are grouped in clusters of a few systems connected by slipstreams - artifacts of the cosmos or perhaps a forgotten technology. Only the splipstreams allow travel faster than light. Apart from that, spacecrafts make do with reaction drives, dumping heat as best they can.
Diaspora is a self-contained role-playing game, with rules for starship-battles, individual combat, social interaction, and platoon-scale engagement, in an original science fiction setting that you help design.
This is your universe. How are you going to survive?.
Sounds stark, but fascinating. Very "anti-Traveller" in ways, and I think the market could use that right now. Looking forward to picking it up with the next paycheck.
Finally, from Rogue Games' comes the latest supplement for their grand space opera RPG, Thousand Suns, called Foundation Transmissions. It's available today for $7 as a PDF through RPGnow, with the $13 print edition available at Gen Con now and through Indie Press Revolution in a few weeks. The 130-page book is a collection of articles and new game mechanics for Thousand Suns by Rogues Richard Iorio II and James Maliszewski, Gabriel Brouillard, and some new guy named Robert Saint John. I saw it this morning and it's absolutely loaded with some great art, some of which didn't make it into the original core rules book. Articles include:
- Military Ranks in Thousand Suns (this is one of mine... note the section on ranks for "Navy/Combined (Starfleet)")
- The Ways of Scheming
- Custom Weapons
- Custom Protection
- Guide to the Core Worlds
- A Spacefarer's Introduction to Lingua Terra
- The Aurigan (new alien species)
So even if you (like me) couldn't make it to Gen Con, there's plenty of new SFRPG stuff out there this month to keep us occupied. 2009 has shaped up to be a great year for the genre, and it shows no signs of slowing down in 2010!