Today’s topic is a tough one for me: Favorite Science Fiction RPG. It’s difficult because I’ve always preferred science fiction to fantasy — hell, when I play fantasy, I even lean towards science-fantasy (what do you expect from somebody who was raised on Star Wars?). I’ve played more science-fiction games than any other category. So the question of which is my favorite is a difficult one.
I could answer it several ways, for one thing. If I was going for “which Sci-Fi setting do I most enjoy playing in”, that would narrow things down to Doctor Who, Star Trek and Star Wars. All of these, though, have had several games devoted to them over the years. If I went purely on what rules system I enjoyed the most, that clears things up a bit more: Doctor Who’s three games (FASA’s 1980s Doctor Who, Virgin Books’ 1990s Timelord and Cubicle 7’s current Doctor Who: Adventures In Time and Space are all fine, but in each case, for me, the rules took a back seat to the setting. Of the three, I like the rules of the current system the most. For Star Wars, despite the existence of the WotC version and the current Fantasy Flight systems, my favorite will always be the original West End Games version of the late 1980s. The rules are really, really good — and “feel” like Star Wars to me, making that game a really strong contender. The Last Unicorn and Decipher versions of Star Trek never made much of an impact on me… but the original FASA Star Trek of the 1980s? I think I’ve hit upon the one game that beats West End’s Star Wars, in my estimation.
FASA’s STAR TREK: THE ROLEPLAYING GAME was one of the first games that I specifically hunted down: I saw an ad for it in Dragon Magazine, and it lit a fire in me. When I finally got it, I devoured it. Got everything I could for the game. The rules system was based on percentile dice, like my beloved TOP SECRET, and the system of generating your character’s service history was an early iteration of “Lifepath” systems — similar to those present in Traveller and Cyberpunk, which gave almost a solo game quality: I would have fun creating characters even when I didn’t have a campaign going. When the game first came out, it was mostly set in the Original Series era, but as the line continued, gradually the art began to reflect the then-current post-Khan Star Trek films, which I loved. I actually didn’t play it as much as I’d have liked — at least not until college, when I found people who were as into it as I was — but yes: It’s definitely my favorite science fiction RPG.
Here’s Dave Chapman’s video entry for the day, where he choses my close second: