5 Sci-Fi RPGs To Play If You Like D&D

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A few weeks in the past, we explored a couple of of the numerous RPGs that supply a special tackle the fantasy style from that almost all acquainted and well-known expertise out there in Dungeons & Dragons. Many skilled D&D gamers would be the first to inform you; among the best methods to increase your horizons and change into a greater participant or GM is to expertise what different video games have to supply.

However on this golden age of tabletop role-playing, there are many choices that stretch past the standard confines of the fantasy style, together with some fantastic adventures into the realms of science fiction. Listed below are a number of top-notch choices to check out, for those who and your gaming group are prepared for the heady speculative realms of futuristic storytelling.


Stars With out Quantity
Writer: Sine Nomine Publishing

Gamers already conversant in the mechanics of D&D will discover a number of recognizable territory in Stars With out Quantity, a captivating retro sci-fi RPG that pulls inspiration from the earliest days of the tabletop gaming passion, a convention additionally usually referred to as the Previous Faculty Renaissance.

On this sandbox-style RPG, gamers band collectively to discover an enormous sector of house within the 12 months 3200, after humanity has unfold out throughout the celebs, and within the wake of the autumn of an enormous interstellar empire. Whereas acquainted trappings, together with attributes like Power and Dexterity, present the roots of the system, Stars With out Quantity launches into solely totally different arenas in a number of methods. A thoughtfully imagined system helps psychic powers. Gamers construct and management starships to maneuver by means of the universe. Greater than something, this “feels” just like the basic science-fiction setting that first involves thoughts when you consider the style.

Not like many role-playing video games, Stars With out Quantity encourages the PCs to undertake their very own objectives, and use these to drive a lot of the motion. The sandbox ingredient isn’t simply lip service; the expectation is that GMs and gamers work collectively to craft a narrative distinctive to the characters they’ve rolled up, and use the setting as a backdrop to see how these tales unfold.

Additionally Contemplate: Traveller, Rocket Age

The Unusual
Writer: Monte Cook dinner Video games

To find a dose of the really odd for a participant group prepared for one thing fully totally different, it’s straightforward to advocate the aptly named RPG referred to as The Unusual. Delivered to us by the identical writer because the fantastic Numenera, The Unusual is a recreation about alternate dimensions – and a few of these dimensions are downright bonkers.

Ostensibly, The Unusual is about on Earth. However the PCs of the sport are able to touring to parallel “recursions” that function their very own guidelines of actuality, creating an enormous networked multiverse of pocket dimensions. And in every, your character would possibly seem otherwise, however preserve the identical core consciousness and objectives. These recursions are born from the tales and legends of Earth, creating an enormous playground of potential alternate settings, which you leap between from one session to the subsequent. In sensible phrases, it provides you permission to “borrow” complete settings to drag into your recreation, letting PCs freely go between recursions impressed by worlds of The Matrix, Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, DC superheroes, or every other favourite story world that you just like.

In gameplay, The Unusual carefully follows the freeform and narrative focus of Monte Cook dinner Video games’ Cypher System. That implies that a number of motion and narrative course is pushed by the gamers, and large flexibility is given to gamers to construct a singular character. The principles are stored gentle, and your gaming group is supplied the liberty to form almost each side of the continued marketing campaign. However don’t fear, The Unusual has loads of insane concepts to get you began in your journey.

Additionally Contemplate: Invisible Solar, Cypher System: The Stars Are Fireplace

Cyberpunk RED
Writer: R. Talsorian Video games

Whereas the newest version of the Cyberpunk tabletop RPG only recently launched, its historical past stretches again a long time, and served because the inspiration and supply materials for CD Projekt Purple’s current launch of Cyberpunk 2077. Irrespective of your emotions about that recreation, the newest iteration of the tabletop expertise is richly imagined and a ton of enjoyable; it’s a super place to take your gaming group in case your imaginative and prescient of science fiction contain near-future, neon-lit city playgrounds, full of gritty fights and excessive model.

For these holding observe, Cyberpunk RED is purpose-built to bridge the hole in timeline from the earliest editions of the tabletop RPG and the brand new online game. Your group is given the latitude to discover Evening Metropolis (or past) and uncover the breadth of characters residing within the typically bleak crossover house between being totally human, and giving over totally to expertise.

Cyberpunk RED does a standout job in providing up an easy core mechanic that governs essential interactions like primary fight and abilities, however loads of extra concerned choices for gamers inquisitive about going deeper, together with the complexities of cyberware, and the way they slowly degrade a connection to a personality’s personal undefinable soul. That is additionally a recreation that embraces the significance of fashion and look, putting an enormous emphasis on how “cool” your character is, the garments they put on, and the way in which they carry themselves. If that dynamic matches what a few of the gamers in your group most get pleasure from about role-playing, it’s a super recreation to contemplate bringing to the desk.

Additionally Contemplate: Shadowrun: Sixth World, Altered Carbon: The Position Taking part in Sport

Alien: The Roleplaying Sport
Writer: Free League Publishing

In case you like your science fiction tinged with a wholesome dose of horror, you doubtless already benefit from the universe of the Alien movies. What it’s possible you’ll not know is that the RPG adaptation of that setting is such nice enjoyable, offering gaming teams an easy-to-learn system that ably helps really darkish and scary encounters towards the long-lasting xenomorphs.

The Alien RPG employs the identical simple Yr Zero gaming engine present in video games like Tales from the Loop and Vaesen. A mixture of character abilities and attributes decide a pool of six-sided cube that have to be rolled, with any rolled “six” resulting in successful. However within the Alien RPG, the system has a enjoyable added ingredient outlined by stress, which may each offer you clutch additional cube in important moments, but additionally result in significantly devastating outcomes upon failure.

My favourite side of Alien is its two types of play. The marketing campaign model caters to teams that basically wish to dive in for an prolonged multi-session arc – excellent for large followers who simply wish to get pleasure from a prolonged story woven by means of this surprisingly wealthy fiction. However for a lot of, the higher draw would be the distinctive cinematic mode that the sport gives, constructed to supply one-shot adventures that extra carefully resemble particular person motion pictures within the franchise. In these tight and terrifying periods, it’s fairly doubtless that some (and even most or all) of the PCs will meet a grisly demise, however the brisk nature of the setting ensures everybody nonetheless has a good time.

Additionally Contemplate: Coriolis, Mutant Yr Zero

Star Trek Adventures
Writer: Modiphius

On the earth of licensed sci-fi RPGs, one of many best to advocate is Star Trek Adventures. That’s as a result of virtually everybody who could be keen to play a tabletop RPG doubtless has at the very least a passing familiarity with the setting. As well as, the sport itself is well organized and well-tuned to concentrate on the kind of cooperative interactions which might be the guts of most Star Trek tales. On the similar time, it additionally takes its setting significantly sufficient that even hardcore Trek fanatics can have bother discovering cause to complain.

Star Trek Adventures helps all kinds of potential types of play, together with heading again to the Authentic Sequence period of Kirk and Spock, or oven the extra grounded and socially complicated storylines of exhibits like Deep Area 9. However the core rulebook is most firmly centered on providing the fantasy I consider most followers might be most desperate to check out – controlling a Star Fleet crew within the Subsequent Era period, exploring unusual new worlds and looking for out new life and new civilizations in daring adventures.

The writers and designers of this Star Trek RPG exhibit an almost encyclopedic data of Star Trek fiction and magnificence, which is clear after solely a quick time digging into the Core Rulebook. It is additionally only a great-playing recreation, utilizing Modiphius’ 2nd20 system to create tense and thrilling encounters, with enjoyable guidelines that encourage gamers to work collectively to tackle probably the most tough duties. In case you’ve ever discovered your self questioning if there was a solution to actually make up and stay out the identical kind of tales that unfold in your favourite Star Trek episodes, I feel you’ll be pleasantly stunned with what’s on supply right here.

Additionally Contemplate: Mutant Chronicles third Version, John Carter of Mars


Honorable mentions:

I’d be remiss to not point out two of my favourite role-playing video games of current years on this article. I hesitated to incorporate them as devoted sci-fi entries, or within the companion article that centered on fantasy RPGs, as a result of each so completely straddle the road in-between. Star Wars and Starfinder are each squarely within the “science-fantasy” enviornment, however each video games are additionally too pleasant to be ignored.

A number of makes an attempt have been made over time to seize the enjoyable of the Star Wars universe in a role-playing setting, each in official and non-official codecs. However I’m particularly keen on Fantasy Flight’s current efforts, which manifested as a number of distinct RPGs that shared a standard system, every centered on totally different tones of play. Star Wars: Age of Insurrection is all in regards to the Galactic Civil Battle, Star Wars: Fringe of the Empire handles outlaws and smugglers in the dead of night underbelly of the galaxy, and Star Wars: Pressure and Future focuses squarely on the ability of the Pressure and its practitioners. However all three sourcebooks share a standard language, and help largely shared guidelines of play. Whichever “model” appeals to you, the core recreation itself is solely excellent, utilizing a set of customized cube to encourage the form of complicated narrative outcomes that you just so usually see in Star Wars fiction, the place success and failure are sometimes tinged by further twists. Like many points of the Star Wars fiction, the Fantasy Flight RPG combines the massive coronary heart and emotional grandeur of a sweeping fantasy epic, alongside the spaceships, droids, and lasers of science fiction. In case you select to offer it a strive, I don’t assume you’ll be dissatisfied.

Starfinder undoubtedly drew some robust inspiration from the house opera richness of Star Wars, but it surely’s a spot to go if you need one thing a bit extra recent, and likewise a ruleset that doesn’t veer removed from the acquainted environs of D&D. That’s as a result of Starfinder is a far-future spin-off of the Pathfinder RPG, which itself was an offshoot from an earlier version of Dungeons & Dragons. As such, Starfinder maintains a lot of the recognizable nomenclature and construction of a D&D recreation, however provides in loopy aliens, ship battles, planetary exploration, and extra. However simply to maintain your in your toes, Starfinder additionally maintains a lot of the magic and most of the creatures from the Pathfinder universe. In case you like the thought of a flaming +2 plasma rifle that you just use to combat necromantic liches that come from a planet of all undead, Starfinder could also be proper up your alley.


There are lots extra fantastic sci-fi RPGs to find, so don’t be stunned if you end up happening a rabbit gap for those who resolve to research these and different associated video games. Talking as a longtime participant and GM, I can say with confidence that few issues can enliven a stale gaming dynamic like introducing a brand new recreation system – as long as you may get some mental buy-in from all concerned gamers to be taught some new mechanics. Shifting from the acquainted environs of basic western fantasy and launching out into house may be particularly rewarding as a departure, even for those who finally resolve to return to the wonderful and extremely useable programs of D&D, or no matter different recreation you play most.

In case you’re searching for extra suggestions within the tabletop sphere, take a look at our Prime of the Desk hub, or dig by means of the current round-up of the Greatest Board Video games of 2020, in addition to the Greatest Tabletop RPG releases of 2020. Lastly, for those who need assistance discovering the precise recreation for you and your group, be happy to drop me a line, and I’ll do my finest that can assist you discover what you’re searching for.

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