When does Star Frontiers stop being Star Frontiers

Deryn_Rys's picture
Deryn_Rys
November 9, 2010 - 7:57pm
Out of curiosity, has anyone ever considered at what point does Star Frontiers stop being Star Frontiers. Is it when the rules are changed (as WOTC did when they added the core 4 races into D20 future) or is there something else, beside game mechanics, that makes Star Frontiers special?
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Comments:

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
November 9, 2010 - 10:35pm

It stopped being Star Frontiers when they released Zebulon's Guide to the Top Secret/Frontier...


To me, once you do away with the AD and KH rulebooks it's something else.

I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Sargonarhes's picture
Sargonarhes
November 13, 2010 - 7:07am
Don't know if it could ever stop really being Star Frontiers, it's a matter of perspective. We've all added a little of our own touches to the game, or maybe even modified the rules a little. As long as the game still has that feel of classic sci-fi to it I'd think it would still be Star Frontiers. Over the years I've seen rules to convert it for other games from normal D&D to conversion to Mekton, it still seemed like Star Frontiers to me up to a point. As long as you left out giant robots and kept with powered armor it seemed fine.
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.

Deryn_Rys's picture
Deryn_Rys
November 13, 2010 - 7:56pm
I don't know about Mechs not being Star Frontiers. I've actually been considering making mechs a big part of the Sathar wars, that I'm planning on having in my expanded Frontier's campaign. Basically the Sathar unleash a bio-engineered terror on several Frontier worlds during the war (the creature is an adaptation of a creature from Spelljammer) and in order to stop this creature the Landfleet is forced to employ mobile gun platforms (mechs) to stop the creatures from devastating the planets in question.
"Hey guys I wonder what this does"-Famous last words
"Hey guys, I think it's friendly." -Famous last words
"You go on ahead, I'll catch up." -Famous last words
"Did you here that?" -Famous last words

Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
November 14, 2010 - 1:16am
I agree with Shadow here.

Also -

Not a big fan of mechs, not because of a lack of coolness but because of their obvious impracticality on the battlefield.  After all, for the past 60+ years or so, weapons have been getting SMALLER, not bigger.  If one of those lumbering hulks was spotted on a SF battlefield, I would just aim all of my unit's heavy lasers and artillery at it and blow it away in one big salvo.  Plus how do those huge things get transported?  Can they cross bridges?  Can they handle bogs of mud?  And what about repairs and maintenance?

It just seems to me that with the same materials, you could have a dozen heavily armed Explorers with fully equipped infantry inside for the cost of one of those monsters.  More firepower and less vulnerable...

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
November 14, 2010 - 3:37am
House rules definitely don't alter the setting. People do the same thing with Monopoly..."free parking" earns the pot in the middle of the board is a popular house rule for that game and it certainly doesn't change the game in a cataclysmic manner. The umpteen-million variants of Monopoly still stick to the same ruleset (re: Star Wars Monoploy, Las Vegas Monopoly, etc). What I have a problem with is when the entire mechanics are changed, then it becomes something else. Rolling d% for Monopoly, charging more for the Baltic Avenue property than the Boardwalk property, and Free Parking costs $50 for the car and horse tokens...see, it's no longer Monopoly now. Change the SF mechanics to d20 or "Cobalt/Shift-X" and it's the same effect. Roll 4d6 to resolve everything and it's not SF, now it's Traveller...

Star Frontiers has a very basic seetting that the referee defines - there's the UPF and Sathar, there's Star Law and a few mega-corps, there's a select set of defined worlds (which, for the most part, are merely specced rather than defined), and the rest is up to the GM: if you want X-Wing fighters or Mech Warriors in the game, so be it...that can get house-ruled right in as long as the basics aren't manipulated. However, once you swap in the WEG Star Wars or the Robotech rules to the SF game, it's no longer SF anymore. Saving Throws are for D&D...

I went so far as to change my "UPF"...I replaced the confederation of systems with an upstart dictator bent on Frontier domination who essentially wipes out the UPF (think of it as Emprorer Palpatine takes over the UPF instead of the Old Republic --- minus the jedi backstory. Just another "corruption within" scenario). However, the Frontier is still very much Frontier-like, all the unexplored worlds are still unexplored, the Rim is still the Rim, just a stricter set of "laws" that the PCs are forced to endure on each former-UPF world (until the UPF rises back to power and allows the individual world governments run things as they each see fit once more), and then there's still the Sathar who are hell-bent at infiltrating this militant dictatorship just the same as they were against the UPF.

All the while, the characters get to venture from the UPF to the dictatorship era and back again to the UPF...assuming they live long enough (or at least their offspring lives long enough LOL).
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Deryn_Rys's picture
Deryn_Rys
November 14, 2010 - 11:30am
While I understand so far what has been said here, to me however the game was always more about feel of the game, rather then the mechanics of it. To me it was always more important that the adventures felt more like classic SF then whether or not your characters were generated using 3d6 or 2d10 (percentile dice). Maybe I'm in the minority about this, but when I prepare a game I try to capture the spirit of the game, regardless of the mechanics involved. I mean when I reminisce my old gaming group about the adventures we most enjoyed everyone always remembers the adventure and what happened to his or her character rather then what they rolled.

That's why I wanted to start this discussion, I'm curious if I'm strange for thinking this way, or if there are others who think the same way.

On an aside when the mechanics make it impossible to recapture the classic feel of a rpg game (as WOTC) have done with Dungeons & Dragons, then I can no longer play the game in that incarnation, which is why I won't ever play a 4th edition D&D game.
"Hey guys I wonder what this does"-Famous last words
"Hey guys, I think it's friendly." -Famous last words
"You go on ahead, I'll catch up." -Famous last words
"Did you here that?" -Famous last words

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
November 14, 2010 - 3:40pm
I suppose mechanics can be tailored. Tailored is a good word, as opposed to "changed".

But you still need to stick to certain basics. You probably could play with 3d6 or d20...a table could be generated for 3d6 or d20 to generate ability scores between 30 and 70 much like the d% table does. d20 can be used for resolutions since most of them utilize increments of 5, although (and here's where that "most" comes into play) your characters lose any incentive to increase their ability scores --- combat is resolved w/ half STR or DEX, so any score ending in anything but a zero or five loses any additional percentage points applicable (ditto for raising a racial ability by anything other than 5 points): d20 simply can not determine an ability score ending in anything other than 0 or 5. You can't calculate a Battle Rage of 27% or a to-hit score based on a 56 Dexterity without penalizing (or rewarding) those scores. That's where the mechanics changes start to fall apart.

But once you start messing with those basics, like making ability scores range from 50 to 120 (a la 4e D&D w/basic characters starting off with 20+ ability scores instead of 3-18) and start adding in all sorts of feats, mutations, special abilities etc it's over and done. Change it from simple resolutions to complex series of calculus fomulas and it's no longer the game it once was. This is where Zeb's fell apart, even if TSR had managed to release the other two volumes and go so far as to print some modules for the new system, it still wouldn't have been Star Frontiers...it would have been 2e Star Frontiers. Which would have eventually led to a 3e Star Frontiers, and the WOTC cataclysmically changed 4e Star Frontiers.

Which, come to think of it, made the Lorraine Williams' FUBARing of SF a good thing. Foot in mouth
_______________________________________________________________________

On the other hand, you can have a solitary adventure where things like mutations can be explored (such as a UPF exploration team discovering a GammaWorld-like planet) and nothing is lost, but once the entire game centers around that Gamma World setting it's no longer SF. Likewise one PC or NPC can boast a mutation, but once all of them do it's no longer SF. You can increase damage of weapons to make them more "lethal", as long as you do it across the board. But if you make laser weapons deadly and keep the projectile & gyrojet weapons in their canon "pea-shooter" state, that's different, that's unbalanced.  The UPF and/or Sathar can be driven out and a substition takes place, but not permanently...eventually things must revert or the flavor is lost. You can even start characters earlier in the timeline: before the UPF or before the Sathar. You can even form the UPF before the Sathar enter the Frontier, or allow the Sathar to enslave the Frontier before the idea of a UPF comes to be. The megacorps can even rule the Frontier before a UPF is formed. Simply put, there has to be that hint of both the UPF and the Sathar.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
November 14, 2010 - 5:09pm
Funny- I'm running a Witch Hunter game for a group of friends and I absolutely despise the rule book for its non-user friendliness. Several players have asked me to convert it to something else as their interest in the game is the setting not the rules.

You could change the rules and keep the setting but why would you want to? SF % based rules rocked for fast play and adaptability and are still fun today. Sure there are some areas that never got their kinks worked out in a proper revision. but the core of the game is solid. Converting to d20 just because its the monster in the RPG market? screw that. I get it though- that if you like a particular mechanic and it works for you go ahead and use that with the setting. To me it the difference between making a recipe with real chicken stock or hot water and chicken boullion cube- they both work but one will really show in the taste.

While my heart wants to jump in with shadow on the change the system and it aint SF, I cant. Though the classic system is like using real chicken broth and anything else just doesn't quite taste as good. Its the setting that makes SF what it is.

So we come to the question of What makes the SF setting the SF setting?

1. Not too advanced technologically over present day levels

2. vertical ships and no artificial gravity

3. Western in space feel

4. and I would contend that the mega corps play a major peice of making the setting what it is; though that could fall under #3 if you view them as playing the role of the Rail Roads and Robber barons of American history.

I think if you keep it close to these 3-4 points you're good. Because that setting was like nothing else until Serenity/firefly came along and its still going strong with a significant fanbase and a first rate Fan zine.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Deryn_Rys's picture
Deryn_Rys
November 14, 2010 - 5:09pm
(I hope I'm not coming off as if I am attacking Shadow Shack because I'm not. I love a good debate and Shadow Shack's posts are so well thought out and enjoyable that I want to keep the debate going).

When you say that things must revert or the flavor is lost, do you mean that the campaign can not evolve beyond the scope of what is canon? Taking for example adding any of the new technological items in the SF mag, these in my opinion do not change the flavor of the game, though perhaps adding many of the new races might, I would not consider myself not playing Star Frontiers anymore because I choose to incorporate them.

What about those people who have used the d20 future rules or Alternity rules to create a version of Star Frontiers because they weren't lucky enough to find this site, would you say that they aren't playing Star Frontiers? I mean if there is a hint of the UPF and the Sathar (quote) then they are even if the entire game mechanics are not classic SF.  

Come on people please join the debate, we need a lively debate every once in a while :0)
"Hey guys I wonder what this does"-Famous last words
"Hey guys, I think it's friendly." -Famous last words
"You go on ahead, I'll catch up." -Famous last words
"Did you here that?" -Famous last words

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
November 14, 2010 - 5:50pm
@ Jedion: There never was a prohibition against advancing technology in SF, as in the case of Artificial Gravity or Grav based technology. Sooner or later someone in the Frontier will invent technological advances that will make space life easier. I believe that new tech for SF should fit the SF setting as much as possible and express the kinds of limitations that the new tech would experience in the frontier world. For example, Newly invented gravity generators simulated gravity to certain extent with limitations. I dont think that we all the sudden should abandon the verticle deck plans and go with a star wars or star trek type designs unless the gaming group wanted that as a house rule. Lets face it, you can't have void travel, particle beam weapons, and subspace radio without the possibility of advanced theoretical physicis eventually inspiring new equipment as well. At sometime in the frontier someone is going to swap out those old fission engines for more fuel efficent fusion system. My opinion is to keep it simple and do make new stuff too powerful.

@ The discussion: I agree with SS, Zebulon's game mechanic sucks big time, I never used it. I just incorporated the good stuff into the AD/KH rules and dumped the rest.

I believe that a lot of its up to the gamers to decide what they want. However, once you put too much of something else into the engine it will eventually become something else. 100+ ft mech robots and you got yourself a battletech game using SF rules. 15 - 30ft Heavy Duty Power Armor sounds a lot more like something they might build in the Frontier. Maybe someone would a few, for whatever reason, and that could be fitted into the setting. However, an army of battletech style mechs definitely doesn't fit the Feel anymore than an 18,000 man star destroyer fits into SFKH.
 
Dice - SF is D10 / D100 all the way in my humble opinion. To use anything else is like playing the boardgame battleship with monoploy pieces, it just doesnt fit. I can't express in civil words how much I despise the "shift column this" or "slide rule that" method of gaming. For some ultra precise games like battletech, Star Fleet battles, squad leader, etc. games that simulate as much detail as possible are fun for those folks who are just fascinated with simulating every detail imaginable. That just isn't SF to me. The complexity of SF always was based on the gaming group and rules always followed the same D100 system that could easily be remembered and adapted. This also says alot about continuity and standardization. You can pick up a SF game anywhere with anyone who understands the same D100 system, its a common language. However, You throw Zebs or D20 or something else in there and the only people who know what you are talking about are the members of your gaming group.  

jedion357's picture
jedion357
November 14, 2010 - 6:02pm
@ Az gamer- your approach to adding artificial G is sound- its the shiny new tech but it has massive limitations and most things are largely unchanged. my point is wholesale conversion to STar Trek, BSG, Star Wars or anything else just wouldn't feel like SF to me. I liked the "Low tech" approach to gravity of the setting. To me it was a distinguishing feature and I'll always be a little nostolgic about it.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Deryn_Rys's picture
Deryn_Rys
November 14, 2010 - 6:16pm
I remember a long time ago, the big Traveller vs. Star Frontier's wars, with gamers arguing back and forth about the superiority of multiple d6's over a percentile system, and to me it was always SF over Traveller because I loved the setting of SF not because of the mechanics of gameplay. That's why I asked the question to begin with is Star Frontiers more then just its mechanics? Or is it so tied together in people's minds that without the mechanics of play, the game is no longer SF.

And though I agree with AZ that somethings don't feel right for SF, I wouldn't say that an army of mechs would turn the game into something other than SF (specially if these mechs were being pilotted by the badest squad of Yazirian Marines in landfleet...the Howling Commandoes).

I also don't see that if you upped the technology level, by saying that the campaign is set 100 or more years into the future of the Frontier that you are not playing SF any more, so long as the core components of what make SF great are still there.


"Hey guys I wonder what this does"-Famous last words
"Hey guys, I think it's friendly." -Famous last words
"You go on ahead, I'll catch up." -Famous last words
"Did you here that?" -Famous last words

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
November 15, 2010 - 4:35am

First off, I'm not interpretting anything as an attack. This is good clean fun, and a well thought out discussion all around. I'm offering my outlook, others are offering theirs. We're all good. Wink

Okay, a few posts were made since I last popped in. That's a good thing, the debate is definitely alive and well!


#1 - @ jedion:

Quote:
1. Not too advanced technologically over present day levels

2. vertical ships and no artificial gravity

3. Western in space feel

4. and I would contend that the mega corps play a major peice of making the setting what it is; though that could fall under #3 if you view them as playing the role of the Rail Roads and Robber barons of American history.


With exception to ion & atomic drives, and perhaps a few other things I can't think of at the moment --- we are pretty close to reaching SF tech today. Back in 1982, not so much.

With possible exception to the electric vehicles. Electric car tech is pathetic at best right now, in 40 years we've only managed to add another 20mph to the top speed and another 20 miles worth of range. SF ground cars go almost as fast as modern electric cars, but I'll bet the farm along with vital parts of my anatomy that NONE of us will live to see the day that an electric car can go over 600 miles (1000km) on a single charge. As it stands, we have to wait eight hours to charge up a car in order to go 80 miles. That 286 mile trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas? Forget 4-6 hours depending on traffic in a gas powered vehicle, that becomes a four day trip in an electric car. You can ride a bicycle there faster. Innocent

The ships? I never saw vertical or horizontal decks as an issue. The canon module and rule book each featured a ship with horizontal decks, as did the Referee Screen mini-module add-on to the Serena Dawn layout. Even the post-KH era "Beyond the Frontier" series of modules had the Sathar scout ship as a horizontal deck plan. From a realistic standpoint, the vertical decks make more sense than having to explain "inertial compensators" and "gravitics" (terms taken from Traveller's horizontal deck plan renderings). The past decade has seen me translating a lot of my former horizontal deck plans to vertical. But I really see no issue or harm in using either, it just seems to be a preference more than anything. In the end I simply preferred the more realistic set. Wink

Western in space? No arguement there. The game is really a high tech "how the wild west was won" type of game: exploration, development, and civilizing of new worlds. Expansion from the old worlds. Nothing is set in stone, you develope it your way as you see fit and you can't go wrong.


The only thing I would add to #4 is the good guy/bad guy establishment. There's the UPF, there's the Sathar. Everyone knows which color of hat each side is wearing. As for the mega-corps, they too can fall into this pattern. The PGC/Streel rivalry is heavily mentioned in several texts. Does one really have to be "good" and the other "bad"?  Again, that's up to the GM developing the Frontier. I chose to have them portrayed as General Motors/Ford/Chrysler and Honda/Toyota/Nissan/Mazda --- two different entities competing in the same market with different outlooks and practices. But I have no problem with a GM that insists that PGC is "good" and Streel is "bad" or vice versa, because business can be driven by good intentions and/or malcontent greed just the same.

#2 - @ Deryn:

Quote:
When you say that things must revert or the flavor is lost, do you mean that the campaign can not evolve beyond the scope of what is canon? Taking for example adding any of the new technological items in the SF mag, these in my opinion do not change the flavor of the game, though perhaps adding many of the new races might, I would not consider myself not playing Star Frontiers anymore because I choose to incorporate them.


Evolving is a good thing. I would just say that the canon "history" must be observed and maintained. You can evolve your game from pre-UPF to the post UPF era, but you need to somehow make the UPF come to be (or already be in place, depending on where you want to start your game). You can even make the UPF collapse, as I did...but the game has to have that element in it.

As for Dragon/Polyhedron etc article goods and races, again that's all up to the GM to introduce. I don't see any of them as a make-or-break deal, most of the ones I have seen (and I'll readily admit not being familiar with a lot of those articles) had some degree of background written in them to introduce them to the game. For example: the Pod Laser article mentioned numerous ways to introduce them into the game, ranging from an experimental mega-corp inventions to "introduced by the bad guys" and "capture - reverse engineer/adapt" scenarios. That article in particular is one I found to be brilliantly written and one item that became a mainstay in my game. RAFLURs, well...I introduced them to each of my groups and for the most part they never seemed to catch on with any of them - save for my one ammendment to the article: the M-0 proton sword, essentially a visible sonic sword by game mechanics. Everyone seemed to love that one, it was the Light Sabre that all of us secretly desired in Star Frontiers LOL. Before that, none of my bad guys had those defenses because none of my players invoked the weapons, and by the same token the few bad guys that had RAFLUR weapons never swayed my players to rush out and buy synth-defenses either. But as soon as the Proton Sword was introduced, that single add-on fueled the need for synth screens and synth suits in my game.

I can't comment on the races as I never saw any of those articles. But as much as I dislike the Zeb's mechanics, I incorporated the three new Rim races into my game without experiencing any flavor change. None of my groups cared much for venturing into the Rim though, and the encounters they had with Rim races never left them wanting to portray one. But I have introduced several Rim-race NPCs to their groups and they all readily accepted each one. Personally, I have no qualms playing an Ifshnit character...I kinda like them.

Although I did away with the cutesy high-pitched voices. I made my Ifshnits more "celtic" flavored: "Aye, laddy...if'n ye'll be wantin' a proton sword, I might be 'avin' a contact for ye to be lookin' up. Yuir a hearty lad with a big pocket book, lookin' farward ta meetin' ye I'm sure 'e is. Now if'n ye'll be joinin' me for a swig of Anker Ale..."

Quote:
What about those people who have used the d20 future rules or Alternity rules to create a version of Star Frontiers because they weren't lucky enough to find this site, would you say that they aren't playing Star Frontiers? I mean if there is a hint of the UPF and the Sathar (quote) then they are even if the entire game mechanics are not classic SF.  

 
I am not familiar with those game systems. My game mechanics familiarity runs with SF:AD/KH and Moldvay B/X D&D as a mainstay. Beyond that I have some decent familiarity with Holmes D&D, Mentzer BECMI, and Gygax AD&D. Oh yeah, and a minor in Top Secret. Beyond that I played (but never GMed) Traveller and a couple sessions of Car Wars.

As such, I tried in my youth to meld SF with B/X D&D and it never seemed to work out well, even to my munchkin side at the time. Mostly because it just felt wierd to roll d% for an Elf character's resolutions or d20 followed by d4/d6/d8 for a Yazirian's resolutions. Not so much as having that elf piloting an assault scout or the yazirian helping to defend a castle from orc invaders, after all trying out a Humma/Ifshnit/Osakar for the first time is a similar experience as the elf in space, as was trying out a half elf or half orc for the first time in AD&D.

To me, the whole concept of moving elements of one familiar game system to another familiar system was distracted by the different mechanics more than anything. Now had I started out with SF in d20 rules or D&D in d% rules, it might have been different. Both systems are simple and easy to use, nothing complex in either game. That's where my whole stance on altered game mechanics stems from. I suppose if a person starts with one set and stays with it (and also assuming the players start and stick with it as well) the mechanics becomes a moot point. The trouble starts when a player or GM of game mecahnics A joins in the group playing the same game by mechanics B.

#3 - @AZ_Gamer:

Well, we seem to be on the same page so there's really nothing to debate LOL


I'll say this much: I don't find the idea of mech warriors/robotech etc as an appealing addition to my game. That's not to say I wouldn't want to try it out once or twice. After all, in my youth I managed to adapt a Dragon article on Gamma World (the Aquabot) to my SF game and my players loved it. "A submarine is surfacing off the coast. Then, you watch in terrified amazement as it begins to shift and eventually stands upright, towering to a 60 meter tall robot-like monster. It begins firing numerous weapon systems at your group..." Yes, it literally kicked their butts and they quickly retreated, only to enlist an air strike (which they joined in as pilots etc) and eventually took it down. But they loved it.

And it was the only time I incorporated anything like that. It just wasn't the well I was willing to draw water from often.

I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Deryn_Rys's picture
Deryn_Rys
November 15, 2010 - 10:11am
while I'm not a fan of the Alternity mechanics, they seem close to the kind of mechanics that were originally intended for SF in that version zero that has been mentioned before, and though I have no proof except that TSR and Wizards of the coast for that matter have a habit of reusing old game concepts in shiny new ways, In my oppinion Alternity might just have been all those copious notes that might have been Star Frontiers, polished up, renamed Star Drive, and released as Alternity.

That being said, my gaming group have always known me to be obsessed with tinkering with my game systems to the point where they become something completely new, because I am never satisfied with playing a game as is, specially if in my hubris I think I can do it much better. Of course in my later years I've learned to appreciate the games as they were intended and collect RPG's (which I mostly just read for fun, or mine for material that I might be willing to add to my pet projects).

I have however never considered that I was no longer playing a game, because I had basically rewritten it by adding whatever elements I thought would make the game more fun for me and my group. To me it was still D&D, or AD&D even though I had eliminated allignments, the common tongue, and changed the monatery system from a gold piece standard to a copper piece standard (among other changes). Nor have I ever stopped to think that I was no longer playing Star Frontiers, because I had incorporated Tachyon drives for faster then light travel, added dozens of new races, and included repulsor lift, and artificial gravity tech to my game.

To me it was always AD&D, Gamma World, Marvel superheroes, WOD, or Star Frontiers so long as the games still had the same feeling as what the creators of the game infused in their canon material, though I will admit that my AD&D campaign and SF campaign walked that razors edge between being AD&D, and SF and being something completely different.

And when I could no longer find my original rules for SF (before I found this site) I did the only thing I could think of to keep my game alive, I rewrote it using the only game system I had available to me (my very modified 3rd edition D&D rules), and even with that It was to me still Star Frontiers. 

I have never considered not adapting cool ideas regardless of the source to my games if they would make the experience more fun for me, or my players, just because it would not mesh with canon material, though I'd never bring magic into SF (but that's just where I draw the line), though I have had a SF character stranded in my AD&D world until they could figure out how to get back home.

I'm always interested in how others play their versions of the games I love, and how they feel about certain things, and sometimes I'll throw an idea out there just to see how people react to it, or to keep things interesting, and I really like learning about people who I might consider friends, though we've never actually met.

So far I know what AZ, Jedion, and Shadow, Imperial lord and Sargonarhes feel about the point where SF stops being SF, but what about the rest of the community? and saying it isn't SF when w00t says it isn't doesn't count :0)
"Hey guys I wonder what this does"-Famous last words
"Hey guys, I think it's friendly." -Famous last words
"You go on ahead, I'll catch up." -Famous last words
"Did you here that?" -Famous last words

Georgie's picture
Georgie
November 15, 2010 - 12:02pm
I think that the combination of the SF rule framework along with the somewhat reality based set of abilities is what determines if the game is still SF. I've seen campaigns that have been modified to fit other SciFi universes that were inspired by movies and/or literature. Since they're still SciFi and using the SF mechanics and didn't involve super powers or magic, it would still have an SF feel and be SF. Simple rule sets are very malleable and encourage this experimentation.

My brother ran a D20 Future campaign once that was inspired by SF, but the mechanics of the game were totally different. Occasionally, when simply role playing, you could forget that it wasn't SF. But as soon as you had to make a skill check or make a 'to hit' roll, the illusion was shattered. Given the D20 rule set's love of die rolling, this was often. This does not extend to the Zeb's rule rewrites though. Back in the day we converted to the Zeb's format, and, honestly, I rather liked it. I especially liked the damage determination and multitude of skills. It took a while to get used to, but in the end it was still SF. And it didn't have quite as much die rolling as D20. Some in my group never got used to the new combat rules though, and we ended up shoehorning the new skills system into the original framework. (Side note: when I first played D&D 3.5 I liked the skills and feats found in the core rules. Once I read a handful of the expansion rulebooks, I started outlawing many of the feats. They got way too 'comic bookie' for me. I felt like I was in the middle of some crazy anime (not a fan) then in a mideval world of warriors and witchcraft).

Ages ago, we played a Gamma World campaign, which IIRC, shared the SF mechanics for the most part. But the mutations were sometimes akin to super hero powers, so it felt more like playing a super hero RPG (the name escapes me for the moment). It never felt like SF.

Sometimes campaigns in themselves can be created to feel like the setting of another game. I can easily envision a SF version of Twilight 2000 or Top Secret or even Gang Busters. As long as there is the possibility of interstellar travel, though, it would still be SF.

So, for me I guess, the determination falls along two lines. One is mechanics. Once you completely change the mechanics (as opposed to tweaking them a la Zeb's) it stops being SF but another game with an SF feel. If you had played that other game before SF, the opposite would be true. The other is once you introduce things (powers or objects) that strain the link to our reality, it also stops. This includes magic, super power like mutations, or most things found only in cartoons.
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jedion357's picture
jedion357
November 15, 2010 - 12:46pm
Georgie wrote:
....  or most things found only in cartoons.

or the Toon rpg

Wink
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
November 15, 2010 - 12:48pm
For me it's more about the setting than the mechanics.  Give me the Cour Four, the Sathar, the UPF and the Frontier worlds in a just barely above current technology, "hard" sci-fi meets the wild west setting and it's Star Frontiers as far as I'm concerned. 

I love the original AD/KH mechanics for their ease and simplicity.  But as has been said, there are a few issues with them that can use some tweaking.  I've personally never played SF with any other rule set, but if done well, I don't think it really matters what the rule set is as long as the Referee and players are comfortable with it.

Pesonally, I've always wanted to do a SF conversion using Chaosium's old Basic Role Playing System.  That is the system that powered RuneQuest 3rd Ed. (which I played all through high school) and Call of Cuthulu (which I've never played but my RuneQuest GM was one of the original authors) back in at least the late 80's and early 90's (I'm not familiar with the current state of those games).  It was more complicated than the AD/KH rules (at least for character generation) but I loved both the combat and skill systems.  I have notes and parts of the conversion done or well ingrained in my brain, maybe someday I'll actually do the writeup Smile.
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Ascent's picture
Ascent
November 15, 2010 - 2:42pm
I disagree with the idea that weapons have gotten smaller.

Only spying weapons have gotten smaller. Tanks are nearly twice as big now as they were in world war II. The Stealth bomber had significantly more mass than most bombers previously. Supply craft are nearly twice as large as they were in world war II. Jet fighters have only grown larger. Aircraft carriers grow larger and larger with each design. Submarines grow larger and larger with each design. Anti-aircraft cannons have grown larger. Anti-personnel weapons have grown larger. Pistols have grown larger (The Desert Eagle was almost twice the mass of previous pistols.) Only the missiles, torpedoes and rocket launchers have grown smaller.

So, maybe you might rethink the stand on mechs. If a mech has the mobility of a human, I could definitely see it being more effective than most other vehicles. A land rover, tank, or wheeled mobile base would be a sitting duck in comparison.

Also, the issue of mud has already been proven a non-issue by the military. It's a matter of mass and area versus the mud's pressure. Wheels sink into mud because they have almost no coverage. The foot of a mecha, however, would have more coverage per square inch and meet significantly more resistance, and being mostly air, it would have boyancy on mud, which maintains greater pressure resistance than what most people think. Think of quicksand, which actually hold's human weight quite nicely until the person's foot breaks the surface. Now consider, that most mud pits aren't but 2 to 3 feet deep, which would not significantly bog down a 30 foot tall robot. Even still, it would take a very watery mud pit for the mecha's foot to sink all the way down. It would be no more a problem than a human slogging through ankle-high mud. It would not be more than a minor nuisance. And seeing as there are few mud fields of this nature in comparison to most land (less than 1%), it's hardly a consideration. Thus if there were even an issue with mud, they would simply bring in the right vehicle for the right job. It's not like they would rely 100% upon mecha. Mecha would still only make up a very small percentage of the fighting force, just as fighters are. In fact, mecha, due to their expense, would likely be more along the rarity of tanks.
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Deryn_Rys's picture
Deryn_Rys
November 15, 2010 - 3:13pm
Just to add to the mud issue, a Mech can be purchased with an augmented suspension system allowing it to jump. Just picture what would happen if a Yazirian piloted, 60' mech jumped into the middle of a firefight. The sight alone would demoralize all but the most reckless Humma.
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Will the Stampede's picture
Will the Stampede
November 17, 2010 - 2:51am
Star Frontiers is in the eye of the beholder, same as canon. 

This is an RPG, something everyone here has seemed to have forgotten. The rules are a skeleton, and the referee and his players have to put flesh on that skeleton to make it in their own image and their own likeness.

If you want mechs, fine—even if 60' monstrosities are more easily targeted and destroyed by damn near everything else in the battlefield.

If you want mentalists, fine.

If you want to change a rule, or even most of them, fine.

Whatever you feel like doing, as long as it's Star Frontiers to you, that's all that matters.

I mean, whatever happened to "imagination should be given wings and a rocket pack, not told it can't fly?" 
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jedion357's picture
jedion357
November 17, 2010 - 8:53am
Elitist And Bully wrote:
I'm back pendejos.

Will


I think your avatar should be a humma, it fits you better.

As usual you missed the point of the adult discussion, and resorted to a dismissal of the topic typical of the maturity found in teen agers.

BTW the name fits you.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Deryn_Rys's picture
Deryn_Rys
November 17, 2010 - 9:31pm
Personally Mechs would serve in much the same way as a tank or other large artillery piece in the battlefield. The only advantage to a mech is that it can often move across terrains that would be difficult for most ground effects vehicles to cross. Of course with the advent of repulsor lift technology most ground effects vehicles would be replaced by hover craft, which would make mechs less useful.

Mechs would be most useful in specialized situations (like raids, or to destroy such things as pirate bases, or terrorist encampments) rather then in full scale engagements, where repulsor lift battle tanks would be more advantageous.
"Hey guys I wonder what this does"-Famous last words
"Hey guys, I think it's friendly." -Famous last words
"You go on ahead, I'll catch up." -Famous last words
"Did you here that?" -Famous last words

jedion357's picture
jedion357
November 17, 2010 - 9:35pm
Deryn_Rys wrote:

Mechs would be most useful in specialized situations (like raids, or to destroy such things as pirate bases, or terrorist encampments) rather then in full scale engagements, where repulsor lift battle tanks would be more advantageous.


Facist also like them too for police actions
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
November 17, 2010 - 10:43pm

You know what would resolve the discussion on Mechs? Thats right, a Frontiersman article. I like Mechs but I have a hard time picturing them in Star Frontiers. I would however, love to see an article giving a well balanced rule system and stats for mechs in Star Frontiers. Knowing how much pepper one of these monsters could take to bring one down may change my opinion. What range they have, power or fuel requirements, piloting skills, armor and weapons, size/class, crew, maintenance and repair, malfunctions and repairs. There is a lot of material that could make for a great article. I think balance is the key. If they are too powerful no one will want to play against one and fighting in them will eventually become boring.  


Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
November 17, 2010 - 11:25pm
Even the ideas of how to integrate mech's in SF would vary between all of us. In the last issue I had a variant personal walker that is really a mech but I didn't call it that.

Issue 15 wrote:
Personal Walker - A personal walker is a 2-legged upraised vehicle and can carry around two crewmen. Walkers are rugged and can handle diverse terrain by stepping or jumping over most objects in their path. Sometimes they simply crush objects rather than move around them. If a walker is tipped over it cannot right itself. A variant personal walker is a full-body vehicle which encases the pilot in a special full-body sensor suit that amplifies movement moving the walker more like a person than a vehicle. It has shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, fingers and a mobile waist. Multiply the top, cruise, accel, decal and SP by 1.5. The cost is 9,500Cr.

There is a project to convert Mekton Z to SF here;

Really a Mech is just a vehicle, do people want to see stats for mech's, a mech building system or something else? That way I'm leaning is during a gaming session a mech is just a stat block to role-play with. Not even how it was created is important. 

Thoughts?

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
November 17, 2010 - 11:29pm
AZ_GAMER wrote:
 There is a lot of material that could make for a great article. I think balance is the key. If they are too powerful no one will want to play against one and fighting in them will eventually become boring. 

Excellent points AZ. I believe it would be fun to see how a party would tackle bringing down a mech. Yes they are depicted as very powerful, sometimes very fast but how about a team that infiltrates the hull and works their way up to the cockpit! 
:-)

jedion357's picture
jedion357
November 18, 2010 - 6:43am
AZ_GAMER wrote:

You know what would resolve the discussion on Mechs? Thats right, a Frontiersman article. I like Mechs but I have a hard time picturing them in Star Frontiers. I would however, love to see an article giving a well balanced rule system and stats for mechs in Star Frontiers. Knowing how much pepper one of these monsters could take to bring one down may change my opinion. What range they have, power or fuel requirements, piloting skills, armor and weapons, size/class, crew, maintenance and repair, malfunctions and repairs. There is a lot of material that could make for a great article. I think balance is the key. If they are too powerful no one will want to play against one and fighting in them will eventually become boring.  



I'd suggest something on the order of what we saw in the movie Avatar- not quite your classic mech but quite a bit bigger than what is usually portrayed for power armor- they were very cool in the movie and I thought they hit the right feel for the Frontier plus they were paid for by an evil money grubbing corporation.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
November 18, 2010 - 7:33am
Err, isn't that what I said?
[bump] is this thing on?
Foot in mouth

 

I would like to build one of these;


Gargoyle2k7's picture
Gargoyle2k7
November 18, 2010 - 1:29pm
Let me put in my two cents as easily as I can.  Not Star Frontiers: Star Wars, Fifth Element.  Definitely Star Frontiers: Firefly, Battlestar Galactica (new).  Few worlds, real science, frontier feeling.  No magic/fantasy elements, far-flung civilization, thousands of worlds.  I hope this sheds some light on how I feel.  :)
Long live the Frontier!

jedion357's picture
jedion357
November 18, 2010 - 2:11pm
ooops double post 
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!