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Translating D&D to space ships

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Jarec
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Joined: 12/27/2013

Inspired by the posts here I actually want to show and tell something I've been cooking, and to add more ingredients you guys come up with.

The basic premise is to have a game of classic class-based dungeon crawler, but instead of dudes, the players command a (single?) space ship.
The main concepts I want to include are: really broad ship customization, heavily class-based so that every player excels in something special, and to have something other than just fighting to be meaningful.
So really heavy into the mechanical side, and meaning to take a whole afternoon for a single mission.

I now have:

a Dice mechanic. I really want to use the D6, so I decided to go with exploding/imploding pool with static target number. 1 is minus one success, 4-5 is one success, and 6 is success and another roll. The number of dice comes from skills and talents and such. (As I recall this gives me ~0,4 successes on one die).

a Hex mat. I love hexes, and with ships they relay just the right amount of information about ship movement and facing for the "rogue" ships to make their "backstabs".

Rough idea of ship types and the defining abilities: a warrior ship has tractor beams and heavy shields to "tank", a rogue ship has big vector engines and active camo to go to the back lines to get the glass cannon enemies, mage ships have big energy capacitors to feed the space-magic modules, cleric ships have materia holds to have patching materials for their nanomachine "healers" (The two resource types that all ships work with; energy and materia), summoners and necromancers are carriers and drone ships, and archers are the missile ships.

a Rough idea for a ship sheet: all ships are divided into quadrants in which the players install their modules (power source, gun, shield, cargo hold, etc.), and the quadrants tell the hit locations when fired upon.
On top of that I have the crew with their special abilities and skills, who can be assigned to the modules or sent to do missions or boarding actions. I'd like to have upwards of ten heroes on a ship to get really deep into the min-maxing of ones ship.

a Bunch of other miscellaneous stuff I'd like to include: three types of shields optimized for different forms of attack, point-defense/EMP/evasions for roughly the equivalent of fortitude/will/reflex saves, (data-)mining and diplomacy stuff for those who took the pacifist route, "beaming" your heroes to a friends ship to help them in tight spots, and likely a lot more that I forget...

So I kinda just want to let all this out, and let it sit here a bunch so it has a chance to gather some outside influence.

Thanks in advance.

Leeton
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Joined: 04/28/2013
It's an interesting concept.

It's an interesting concept. Here's a few things that came to mind when I was reading it that you might want to consider:

1) Since they're spaceships and not characters, you're limiting the RP element of the game. You're drastically reducing the market by making a game that's combat-focused and has little RP element. And unless you're adding miniatures to the game, I'd imagine it would be a hard game to sell because it would be less appealing to both the RP crowd and the tabletop war game crowd.

2) What will keep battles from getting repetitive? Since you're fighting ships with ships, it will be hard to make a compelling narrative. Think about any Star Wars, Star Trek or any other space story you know. There's always space battles, but it's the characters and their actions that make the stories compelling. It wouldn't be overly interesting to explode ships for an entire afternoon with little reason.

I like the concept you have and it sounds really fun, but it might not quite be all that compelling on its own. Perhaps you could incorporate some sort of character expeditions to planets, opposing ships, etc.? Something to make it seem more... real.

A ship is only as good as its crew and it's the crew and people on board that ship which make it compelling. The Titanic wouldn't have been half as insane had it not been for the poor decisions made on it!

Corsaire
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Joined: 06/27/2013
Traveller

As a starting point, you might enjoy looking at the first space RPG: Traveller. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveller_(role-playing_game)

McTeddy
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Joined: 11/19/2012
To be honest, I agree with

To be honest, I agree with the not creating a character limits your RP. It sounds too combat-y and I wouldn't see myself playing for long.

Anyways... another thing to look at is the old "SpellJammer" universe. It allowed players to take their D&D characters into space. It's one my favorite campaign settings.

Chip Molter
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Joined: 11/20/2013
Check out Battlestations

It's not exactly what you're talking about, but it is a well loved RPG/board game hybrid.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/12350/battlestations

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Worthwhile investigating

Leeton wrote:
1) Since they're spaceships and not characters, you're limiting the RP element of the game. You're drastically reducing the market by making a game that's combat-focused and has little RP element. And unless you're adding miniatures to the game, I'd imagine it would be a hard game to sell because it would be less appealing to both the RP crowd and the tabletop war game crowd.

I have found that there is a market for Science Fiction games. My current WIP is Sci-Fi and I believe it fits a niche market.

Leeton wrote:
2) What will keep battles from getting repetitive? Since you're fighting ships with ships, it will be hard to make a compelling narrative. Think about any Star Wars, Star Trek or any other space story you know. There's always space battles, but it's the characters and their actions that make the stories compelling. It wouldn't be overly interesting to explode ships for an entire afternoon with little reason.

My casual gamers group has concluded (and demonstrated) that if players are locked in a dual (Player vs. Player), they never get tired of battling. Although battles may be repetitive in order (rolling of initiative dice and combat resolution), the game allows for many types of configurations. It also allows for things like combination attacks like three (3) against one (1) starship and counter-attacks.

So I think there is a market for Sci-Fi "Battling" games. If they are RP oriented then perhaps they might have more depth (in terms of content). In my WIP, I have gone in the direction of Deck-Building (DBG)... So although there are a couple DBGs in the Sci-Fi category, nothing in terms of "Battling".

I would do some more research to see if there are lots of RPGs (From DriveThru RPG = http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/) in the Sci-Fi genre... I found 7148 results - but you might be able to focus the search on a particular genre (like Cyberpunk or Post-Apocalyptic)

Jarec
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Joined: 12/27/2013
Hey, thanks for the

Hey, thanks for the feedback.

Some info that I like to clarify that didn't make the original post - The reduced Roleplay elements are by design (but can be still implemented), so the D&D in the topic is kinda misleading, Dungeon Crawler might have been a better term.
I'm kinda making this game for myself; who enjoys building the character for hours, and helping guys in combat more than the role playing.

There will be more to it than just ships shooting ships.
On-site missions and boarding will be a big part of the gameplay, where you pick your best suited dudes to sent to planet, ship or station to make some skill rolls. In fact most of the missions I imagine to be on-site stuff, with the combat just acting as a obstacle in between.
Some weirder tactics too, like "spells" forcing enemy ships to instantly turn around to face asteroid fields with their engines at full rev, or moving the enemies in into planets' Gravity Well with tractor beams to leave the GM figure out how to get it out.

Miniatures will be used with that hex mat along with planets, asteroid fields and other anomalies. Those things look great on table compared to the amount of work they require.

Oh, and that Battlestations game looks damn awesome! Looking at the gallery, I imagine this game to be almost the same looking, but the Space-Hulky ship tiles replaced by big ship sheets making the boarding actions much more abstract.

Sarge
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Joined: 03/03/2010
Star Fleet Battles

Um… this is Star Fleet Battles through and though.

When I made the transition from D&D to SFB back in the 80’s that is exactly how SFB was described by D&D players. “Imagine your characters are ships, and the options are limitless".

SFB came to be known as the definitive counter-style wargame with over 400 pages of rules, something like a thousand ship types, and a great theme.

To the nay-sayers; Not many games can boast being still in production after more than 35 years. Pretty sure the idea works :-)

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