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Sunday, April 14, 2013

More Thoughts on a Sci-Fi Swords & Wizardry Hack

I think before I get beyond basic brainstorming of a Sci-Fi Hack for Swords & Wizardry, I need to figure out what I want to accomplish. Am I looking for something that covers a broad swath of Sci-Fi genres, or do I want to pick a genre and focus on doing that right.

The truth is, I don't know which way I want to go.

It's kind of like comparing Swords & Wizardry to Crypts & Things. S&W can do any genre of fantasy with some tweaks from the GM and buy in from the players but Crypts & Things focuses on Swords & Sorcery and does it well.

I guess the question is more of "do I aim for a Sci-Fi toolbox that can be used with Swords & Wizardry or do I focus on a specific genre". The toolbox can be picked apart and used piecemeal a lot easier than something genre specific, and that by itself makes it potentially more useful. A genre focused set of rules are easier to use as is. Decisions, decisions...

I'll need to read some Classic Traveller for inspiration. I can certainly see turning some spells into psionic powers. Saving throw for skill would probably be the mechanic, but I see them grouped by profession, and some skills could only be used trained. Damn but these thoughts are bouncing around my head ;)


  1. You also need to figure out a niche for it that isn't already filled by Stars Without Number, which itself is (while not specifically a Sci-Fi S&W) for the most part D&D in space.

  2. As both a C&W and CT fan, I'm curious to see what you decide to do.

    T20 used Traveller professions as classes (well, not precisely, but that's sort of how it worked), but unless you also want to allow characters to pre-level up, I don't think that's the best way to proceed.

    Maybe the right answer is to focus your rules on a single style of SciFi gaming - say, the "Firefly" free-trader crew, and assume all characters are "spacers", but specialize in their jobs - Pilot, Engineer, Command, Scoundrel, Security. Maybe the "Trader Crew" party starts off with a ship someone else owns, and when they reach "named level", they can own their own ship.

    Subsequent modules could add different crew types - Space Marines (Party is a fireteam), Bounty Hunters, Star Exploreres (Party is an "away team" on a large ship until they hit Level 9, in which case they can get their own ship), etc., and players would choose classes within those crew types.

    Let the players dream up their back stories, but assume that whatever that story is, it prepared them for their "crew" at Level 1.

    I like the Save-as-skill idea. The Cleric Turn-Table approach might be even better since it easily handles various levels of difficult in tasks.

    I don't know, but now i kinda want to play that game. ;)

  3. A good example of "filling a niche" in this vein is Hulks & Horrors which manages to nail the basic "derelicts in space full of aliens" corner. Since SWN seems to suggest there is a market for "D&D-ifying" SF, I imagine if you can figure out how to do it so it fills its own niche apart from SWN, then that might be a good thing. One way (call me crazy) to do this would be to actually make it an OSR homage to Traveller rather than D&D...but I'm not a fan of class-based SF so don't listen to me!

  4. when i got spaceships and spacemen i modded the hell out of it - http://elfmaidsandoctopi.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/spaceships-and-spacemarines.html - following blog too - star trek too nice for me

  5. Just off the top of my head, I'd recommend you figure out A Thing that your hack does, and then make it do That Thing. Between Hulks & Horrors, Terminal Space, Bandits & Battlecruisers and et. al., I think there's not going to be a whole lot of enthusiasm for a general S&W sci-fi toolkit. I suppose you could get the market that insists on only using S&W-branded old-school products for their games, but that has to be a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction.

    Instead, I'd pick a sub-genre or play style and write directly to that. Just as Hulks & Horrors pitches itself as "dungeoncrawling in space", you can pitch your effort as being " in space", and thus attract interest from those who might not especially care about the core game system.