D&D Break

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
October 18, 2014 - 2:37am
So my main Star Frontiers campaign has come to a close.  Real Life intrudes once again... people move away, move on, etc.

For a while, I still had my family campaign, but that has come to a /pause/ because my kids have decided that they want to take a break from Star Frontiers to play D&D for a while.  That's why I haven't been here lately.  I've been running D&D!

It's been fun, and I'm certainly glad to be doing ANY gaming, but I keep finding myself thinking about ideas for my Star Frontiers campaign...

Comments:

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 18, 2014 - 5:19pm
That's the only table top I've been doing in the past five years, I can't seem to find anyone interested in the sci-fi setting.

Not that there's anything wrong with the wholesome goodness that is the Moldvay/Cook Basic & Expert stuff...but I do long for a live SF session.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
October 19, 2014 - 1:19am
I consider myself lucky to have been doing live gaming almost continuously for nearly 40 years now.

I always did a lot of conventions, and would meet gamers there (and recruit them).  My wife is a gamer as well.  I also have lots of "reunion games", where I get together with old friends and have weekend marathons where they play their old characters.  In addition to live gaming, I used to do play-by-mail, and play-by-email. 

It was always harder to find science fiction gamers for some reason.  Most gamers just seem to prefer fantasy.  I do remember that it was easier in high school and college.  We played Traveller, Gamma World, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Star Wars, you name it.  But Star Frontiers was always the game we came back to.  I played a lot of Traveller, but Star Frontiers was just "friendlier" and more fun.

Abub's picture
Abub
October 19, 2014 - 9:18am
my group had a big split a while back with some of us just basically quiting gaming (as in table top)

But the ones that remained, we declared to play any game without preconditions that one of us wanted to run.  So the guy that doesn't like d20 plays it... the guty who doesn't like super heroes plays it.

Just miss the days when we could have up to 7 guys at the table.  Now we are at four and a fifth we hope will get some time away from his wife to play.

Been playing with the same guys since high school... like 25 years ago?  I graduated in 91


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bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
October 20, 2014 - 1:06am
It's a dying hobby.  Sad.

I remember when we used to play the same campaign 3 times a week, with marathon overnight games that would take an entire weekend.  Finding new gamers was as easy as a trip to the local college, convention or game shop.  Everyone played. 

I can still find players, but it's not like it was.

KRingway's picture
KRingway
October 20, 2014 - 2:14am
I don't think that the hobby is dying out. If anything, the RPG industry has been going through a bit of a renaissance, thanks to digital publishing. It's just that at the moment fantasy settings dominate people's 'go to' RPG worlds. This is in no doubt due in part to the Lord of the Rings films and the success of on-line digital fantasy games. That said, such things are cyclical (faddish even) so sci-fi RPGs may also get a resurgence at some point.

Mind you, there aren't that many new sci-fi RPGs and those that are still going (i.e. Traveller) aren't really being promoted all that much. Meanwhile, some RPG genres - horror, for example - are still going strong. So it may be that sci-fi RPGs just need a shot in the arm in terms of being a more widely played genre.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 20, 2014 - 11:37am
KRingway wrote:
So it may be that sci-fi RPGs just need a shot in the arm in terms of being a more widely played genre.


Like Guardians of the Galaxy? Embarassed
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Putraack's picture
Putraack
October 20, 2014 - 11:57am
Like some of you, I've always had trouble finding sci-fi RPG players. Back in the day, it was only my brother and myself for Star Frontiers, so we spent more time playing Knight Hawks ship battles than RP adventures. I still play RPGs with one of my high school friends and several college friends, but one guy will now only play D&D (and only some editions), and the rest of the group follow his lead. He has let me experiment in the past, but not in years.

I now have a second group that plays anything but D&D, the most recent vote was for Traveller.

I've had a little better luck with my oldest son and his friends (now 15-16 years old), I ran a short SF campaign for them, and one of those boys bought the boxed set off Ebay, and now runs occasionally. I'm mildly surprised that they don't play more often, it's maybe one weekend a month for them, with debate for who is running what (Shadowrun, Star Frontiers, Star Wars, D&D are in the mix).

KRingway: "Mind you, there aren't that many new sci-fi RPGs and those that are still going (i.e. Traveller) aren't really being promoted all that much. Meanwhile, some RPG genres - horror, for example - are still going strong. So it may be that sci-fi RPGs just need a shot in the arm in terms of being a more widely played genre."

I've never been able to pin down why SF is less popular in RPGs than fantasy, but it sure seems to be a fact.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 20, 2014 - 12:04pm
KRingway wrote:
I don't think that the hobby is dying out.

The new 5e D&D boxed set mission was to return to the TSR glory. I've yet to see that set personally, but I hear a lot of positive things about it from those who are big fans of TSR era D&D (who, coincidentally, are also big haters of anything WotC).
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

OnceFarOff's picture
OnceFarOff
October 20, 2014 - 8:19pm
Funny you posted this Bossmoss. I was just thinking of how I'm going to be shutting down my SF campaign of several years here soon. My kids have been playing the same characters for a few years now and they're so powerful that it's time to retire. We're going to be starting a Scarlet Heroes campaign (which is basically B/X D&D with rule hacks to make it more playable for 1 or 2 players.) But first, one final, colossal battle with the Clikk...

KRingway's picture
KRingway
October 21, 2014 - 2:20am
Putraack wrote:
I've never been able to pin down why SF is less popular in RPGs than fantasy, but it sure seems to be a fact.


It may be due to assocations from other media - films and TV. As sci-fi is more common to such media, people might make certain assumptions about it and either find it interesting or a turn-off. Fantasy is less of a TV and film staple and so might seem more open-ended. That's not to say that fantasy doesn't feature on film and TV, but just that sci-fi has a much more well-trodden path, in various forms. This in turn might mean that, to some, sci-fi is perhaps too entrenched in certain tropes and themes and those aren't as universally liked as one might hope. There's also the idea of sci-fi having more innate restrictions than fantasy - i.e. it's either in space or on planets, and various other things - so it may seem to be more of a set-piece thing. I know fantasy is still pretty much set on a fantasy world, but that world usually has less mundane aspects to consider. Sci-fi usually has to make a nod or two at reality (i.e. science) and to some that might seem to be more restrictive than fantasy. Perhaps they see sci-fi as more dry.

Of course, I'm basing all this on my years on running, playing and designing for both sci-fi and fantasy RPGs. It's not any sort of sociological fact Wink

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
October 21, 2014 - 3:26am
RKingway - Some good thoughts there.  Maybe it's not dying.  I checked, and according to D&D sales figures, more people are playing than ever before.  So in theory they are all out there somewhere.  Are you finding players where you are?

Shack - I do see a renewed interest in 1st edition and Basic D&D, especially among those too young to have played it the first time around.

Once - Yeah, that is funny that both of our family SF games are ending around the same time.  Good luck with Scarlet Heroes, and let us know how that Clikk battle goes!


jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 21, 2014 - 4:38am
It might be that with sci fi you logically need more setting detail and fantasy you can "You meet in a tavern"

fantasy can be more rough and ready but an advanced modern society should have some detail to it.
That need for detail can be intimidating such that fantasy feels more accessible.

It also might explain some of Traveller's appeal/longevity - a setting where large areas have been out of contact with the imperial seat of power for a long time- in the Traveller module Leviathan the adventure very much has the feel of exploring in the wilderness.

RE: SF campaigns winding down, this is ok too. All good things....
Best if you go out with a bang though.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

KRingway's picture
KRingway
October 21, 2014 - 8:14am
bossmoss wrote:
RKingway - Some good thoughts there.  Maybe it's not dying.  I checked, and according to D&D sales figures, more people are playing than ever before.  So in theory they are all out there somewhere.  Are you finding players where you are?


My players are the same guys I used to play with back in the 80s, plus a friend of theirs, plus my girlfriend - so about 4-5 people per session, usually. Star Frontiers is on our 'to play' list, as many of us played it a lot from '83 to '90. We've only just started to play RPGs as a group again since February of this year. Whether I'd be able to find new players without this situation, I don't know. There are a few gaming groups nearby, but I think they're mostly interested in tabletop stuff such as Warhammer.

One other thing I'd like to add to my other post is that sci-fi has become much more fragmented as a genre than fantasy has. Fantasy as a genre can cover many bases but still pretty much be the same thing, whereas sci-fi has split into more 'camps'. So in those camps you have steampunk, dieselpunk, space opera, hard sci-fi and various other things. They don't have much overlap, whereas fantasy worlds can be ported quite easily from one to another without too much hassle.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 21, 2014 - 8:21am
Ah Warhammer, its been both a boon and a bane to table top gaming.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 21, 2014 - 6:19pm
OnceFarOff wrote:
I was just thinking of how I'm going to be shutting down my SF campaign of several years here soon. My kids have been playing the same characters for a few years now and they're so powerful that it's time to retire.

Perhaps it's time to introduce your players to the offspring (illegitimate or otherwise) of their characters. A second generation/legacy of the originals is always a good way to continue a campaign if overpowerful characters is stagnating the game. 

As far as the D&D games go, most of the folks I've played with (past and present) enjoy low level play. It wasn't common for us to reach name level in a game, and the few times we did it was even more rare to continue playing those characters. More often than not, we ended up starting with new characters that ultimately end up working for the "retired" characters...and if the retired characters were to accompany them on a mission we would only role play them during any overwhelming wildeness encounters, otherwise they were strictly NPCs that had an influence on the group.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

OnceFarOff's picture
OnceFarOff
October 21, 2014 - 6:42pm
Shadow Shack wrote:
OnceFarOff wrote:
I was just thinking of how I'm going to be shutting down my SF campaign of several years here soon. My kids have been playing the same characters for a few years now and they're so powerful that it's time to retire.

Perhaps it's time to introduce your players to the offspring (illegitimate or otherwise) of their characters. A second generation/legacy of the originals is always a good way to continue a campaign if overpowerful characters is stagnating the game. 

As far as the D&D games go, most of the folks I've played with (past and present) enjoy low level play. It wasn't common for us to reach name level in a game, and the few times we did it was even more rare to continue playing those characters. More often than not, we ended up starting with new characters that ultimately end up working for the "retired" characters...and if the retired characters were to accompany them on a mission we would only role play them during any overwhelming wildeness encounters, otherwise they were strictly NPCs that had an influence on the group.

I totally agree. That said, I'm going to run a couple of other things for a bit. My older son needs something different. When he goes off to college, I'll probably come back around with my younger boy and revisit our SF game. He loves the story part of gaming most of all. 

In the meantime, I plan to run a few different games to let them try different stuff. First will be D&D, then probably a Supers game using some flavor of FATE, then maybe Eclipse Phase - that setting is insane. 

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
October 22, 2014 - 1:31am
My 12 year old son has become something of an amateur filmmaker.  We got him a little video camera a couple years ago, and now he's editing his own previews for real movies - and he's gotten quite good.  He probably has a future in film.  Anyway, he often says that he intends to make a Star Frontiers film or TV series someday.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 22, 2014 - 10:44am
bossmoss wrote:
Anyway, he often says that he intends to make a Star Frontiers film or TV series someday.

In light of the D&D movies' stellar success (yes, that was sarcasm), it goes without saying that getting the nod of approval from WotC shouldn't be difficult.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
October 22, 2014 - 10:33pm

In my opinion I think that breaking into Scifi is more difficult for people too. Even here at this site we run into the friendly disagreements on whether it should be played as Hard Sci-Fi or cinematic sci-fi. I find myself frustrated from time to time in the stict adherence to "Canon" and "Rules" when the rules themselves state that they are just a guideline or structure for the creation of your own game universe dreamed up with your own immagination. True the original SF setting is way cool in its own way but in sticking with the Canon material new players who may want to explore more of a "Star Wars", "Star Trek", "Babylon 5", or "Bladerunner" setting become discouraged with another run through of Crash On Volturnous. In Fantasy you don't get that pigeon holed feeling about a setting quite so much as you do in Sci-Fi. Plus if something defies the laws of Physics or even reason we can always blame it on Magic. However in Sci-Fi if you come up with something that challenges a player's perception of the imiginary world they have a harder time coping with it. For example, whoooooa baby just start a thread on Psionics or Teleportaion here and watch the teeth come out and fur start to fly. Its funny the base storyline for my Titan Rising Universe had its foundations laid in Star Frontiers... when TSR stopped producing stuff, my friends and I started creating our own material knowing that it was unlikely we would ever see anything new for the game that would be worth playing. After all, you can only revisit Volturnous so many times before you just throw your hands up and say lets go somewhere new where there aren't any more Sathar. However, in  complete contraditction, SF even with the original setting still is one of the best game systems I have ever played and one the most memorable.


jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 23, 2014 - 6:17pm
Well, AZ doesn't post all that much but when he does its worth reading. Great comment.

1. Az is quite correct that the rules as published are only a guideline and that referees are only suppose to to use them as a jumping off point.

However...

the canon is important as it forms a base line langauge that we all start with and work from and actually fascillitates communication. for example if I say "Volturnus Campaign" everyone knows what I'm talking about more or less. So I think the canon material is important to the community to a certain degree.

However....

AZ's comments illustrate an important issue, cantankerous grognards can scare off newbies.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
October 23, 2014 - 7:54pm
jedion357 wrote:
AZ's comments illustrate an important issue, cantankerous grognards can scare off newbies.
Well said. And which is why I tend to post as little as possible.  I'm as cantankerous as they come. Wink
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 24, 2014 - 12:45pm
While I'm not cantankerous, I won't deny the grognard part.

My vocal love for Zeb's should be proof of that. 
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Abub's picture
Abub
October 24, 2014 - 1:23pm
SS... your soooo modern in your gaming and all with your playing the NEW zeb's content with its magical color chart and all.  lol


And about the rules... I house rule... but I like to study the rulez as-writ to make sure I understand why they are like that and why I wanna modify them.  

AZ - I think you are on crack if you can honestly say the SF rules as-writ as the bestest ever.  I think you are just saying you have had a lot of fun playing SF... or that you just like old school rule lite, judgements over rules style

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bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
October 24, 2014 - 5:15pm
I try not to alter the setting too much, but I would have to say that in the end, I run my own game.  I use all the original material, including AD, KH, the modules, and all the Dragon & Polyhedron articles.  I am a fan of Zeb's in general (especially the aliens), although I can remember being annoyed about the plague worlds when it first came out.  Not everything in Zeb's can be integrated easily, and some things just don't work.  I use Saurians, Zethra, S'sessu, Notui, Heliopes, Mechanons, and the Rim aliens.  I adopt much of what I find in the Star Frontiersman and Frontier Explorer.  However, the way I run my setting is unique to me, and I used the basics I mentioned above as merely my starting point.  The campaign has evolved over many years of being played.  My foundation was canon, but it has grown beyond that.  A campaign setting is like a living thing, which is especially true the more it gets played.  Players don't know what direction the campaign is supposed to go, and are prone to going off the timeline to create something new.  Canon is important, as Jedion said, but too much adherence to canon becomes like reading the same book over and over... or playing Crash on Volturnus over and over, as AZ said.  The GM was meant to make the game his own.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 24, 2014 - 7:56pm
Crash on Volturnus is the game you open the campaign with. Oftentimes --- in the absence of railroading --- the characters will define how the campaign goes from there. 
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
October 25, 2014 - 3:44am
Abub wrote:

AZ - I think you are on crack if you can honestly say the SF rules as-writ as the bestest ever.  I think you are just saying you have had a lot of fun playing SF... or that you just like old school rule lite, judgements over rules style



In case there is a drought of posting from AZ, I'd like to respond to this- there are problems in AD like the vehcile damage rules, and one aspect of the skill check system but for simple fast play at the table top I LOVE these rules! When you go with all skill checks are 1/2 ability X 10%/level the game plays very fast. I've run two separate combats in 30 minutes and then with the same players participated in a D&D session (3.5) for 4 hours that only had 1 combat and that was glacially slow.

There is one caveat that some things just dont require a skill check and a referee should be mindful of this- like diagnosis under the as writ skill system its 100% for the medic which effectively means no skill check required unless performing it on an alien (to the character) species which would carry a 20% penalty but even then the math is easily done in your head.


For my money a rule system that gets out of the way and lets you play like SF can is priceless. A game where you must buy heavy tome after heavy tome at $50 a pop and where said heavy tomes pile up, must be consulted during play and slow the game down? Lousy.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 25, 2014 - 10:37am
jedion357 wrote:
 A game where you must buy heavy tome after heavy tome at $50 a pop and where said heavy tomes pile up, must be consulted during play and slow the game down? Lousy.

Feldercarb. The AD&D 1e trio of hardbounds were a much smoother ruleset than the single booklet in Top Secret. 

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

My SF website

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
October 25, 2014 - 11:00am
[
AZ - I think you are on crack if you can honestly say the SF rules as-writ as the bestest ever.  I think you are just saying you have had a lot of fun playing SF... or that you just like old school rule lite, judgements over rules style
[/quote]

Ha ha on crack, nice. Anyway, i recognize the rules are not perfect and from the content of my posts, projects, and Frontiersman articles...everyone knows i have a ton of house rules and off the beaten path campaign direction. Im just saying that as a game mechanic SF AD & KH are some of the best rules systems developed for the genre. Unless you like over cumbersome slow play game systems that leave your players spending a lot of time conducting research or doing math with a slide rule trying to get through a round of play. While its not perfect by any means, out of the box, it is one of the best game systems hands down especially for beginners and occasional hobbyists. I've played a lot of role playing games over the past 35 years and when it comes to SCI-FI SF is my go to system. I also am becomng very fond of bare bones system and Goblinoid Games Starships & Spacemen 2E (Mostly because its super easy and very open ended). So yes there is a lot of good out there but I stand behind my assertion that SF is the "bestest" which I suppose is why I am posting and contributing at a SF site and not somewhere else (and while on Krak too)

Jaxon's picture
Jaxon
October 26, 2014 - 9:10am
You have to also understand the time that SF came out, in 1982. 

Cellphones, for example were out in 1973 but, weighed 4 lbs. The flip-top, etc; did not come out until 1983. 

So the rules, equipment, etc; reflect this. It's like writing a game when computers used vaccum tubes but the audience (after a decade or two), is using desktops.

Now, I understand that in 1985, Zeb's Guide came up and tried to address the tech gap, (progits, etc) but, sadly it was the first of three books and the other two never came out. So, we only get a third of the new universe and no way to convert our characters (for those that wish to). Sad. Cry

I personally, HATE that color code crap. I prefer the old way - it's simple and easy and great for Nubs!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 26, 2014 - 10:22pm
Jaxon wrote:
Now, I understand that in 1985, Zeb's Guide came up and tried to address the tech gap,

3 years is hardly a tech gap. If anything, they were drawing upon ideas from James Bond and miniaturization more than any technological advances. That, and goofy names like "Maser Razer", "Alpha & Omega Bolt" (suggesting 24 possibilities in between?), adding an extra F into RAFLUR (RApid FLUctuating Ray as it was spelled out in Dragon), a rifle attached grenade launcher that arcs down toward the ground (boy howdy, that's just where I want the grenade to end up), and "projectile/gyrojet/sprayer" as if they all worked the same.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website