Anyone up for some scifi D&D?

I was going through some old roleplaying books of mine this afternoon, and I realized that even though I have tons of relevant sourcebooks, I’ve never actually played a roleplaying game with a futuristic theme. I know we have a bunch of experienced players, so I was wondering if anyone would be interested in setting up some kind of science-fiction or futuristic game?

I don’t think I would have the time or skill to effectively run a game from a distance, but I’d love to play if there is any interest.

While waiting for replies, and since I don’t think we’ve had an official “Tell funny stories about D&D” thread for a while, I offer the following:

I once took part in a generic, informal stock-medieval theme. I say informal because nobody in this particular game really cared about historical accuracy, and we would occasionally find poorly disguised scuba gear, jury-rigged flamethrowers, and on one occasion that was amusing for everyone but our ranger, something that looked and acted exactly like a tommy gun, save for the fact that it fired in the opposite direction somebody with a modern-day background would assume, which caused our poor projectile expert to shoot himself with a full spread the first time he tried to use it.

I should also note that this game had a slightly atypical theme: our party had entered a winner-take-all tournament in which 50-60 NPC adventurers were given a list with twenty objectives. The idea was that each objective held a fragment of a map leading to the final level, and one needed to secure five of the twenty fragments in order to re-assemble the map.

At least, you were expected to. The tournament was actually something of an exercise in loot-gathering, as all sixty-ish players were frisked before the tournament began, and everyone started with the same tournament uniform, a list of objectives, and naught else. The game was set to officially end when a team or individual located the final level (an entire town that’d been retrofitted for this purpose) and defeated the boss, a True Neutral fighter who was a willing participant: he, and all openly marked tournament assistants (which constituted about 95% of all the hostile NPCs) had been blessed by a wizard with an epic spell that kept their HP from dropping past -8, but penalties were leveled at participants who employed excessive force, and bonuses were given for clever or dexterous solutions that minimized the harm to official guards, leading the party to prefer nonlethal measures (grappling, blunted objects) over brute force. Once the Final Boss had been defeated, and the tournament officially declared over, each individual’s loot would be counted up, his coins tallied and his equipment assigned the blue book value. The total value of his equipment plus his coinage would be his final score, and the wealthiest participant would be declared the winner. (All participants were made aware of the somewhat substantial storehouse of loot held in the Final Boss’s chambers, which was valuable enough to give the team that actually finished off the boss a decided material advantage.)

Anyway, our party had two rogues, who we began to respectively refer to as the Good Rogue and Funny Rogue, owing to the former’s effectiveness in combat, and the latter’s penchance for making spectacularly bad rolls that he frequently dressed up with funny quirks. He also had a penchance for frequently passing small notes to the DM, something that we tended to ignore in the beginning. However, as the game progressed his notes got larger and larger with alarming speed, until it got to the point that he and the DM simply brought a thick black binder that they frequently passed back and forth, much to the rest of the group’s increasing suspicion and, as the game continued without an explanation for the device, moderate alarm. The Funny Rogue, it should be mentioned, had been serving principally as our Faceman. This was partly due to the fact that the Good Rogue had been min/maxed into a trap-destroying, lock-picking, pocket-picking, dungeon-crawling machine, honed to a fine edge for one purpose and one alone, and partly because the Funny one had much better success with his skill rolls than he did with his trap rolls. Frankly, looking back on it, this should have been a blaring warning that something was wrong, as the Funny one was an experienced player who wouldn’t have normally made someone so completely unsuitable for his roll by mistake, and who wouldn’t have made a comically incompetent character without making sure that the party didn’t mind.

I should also note that the players had no obligation to show their character sheets to each other, meaning that nobody at the table other than the DM was capable of figuring out the reason for the Funny one’s terrible luck. Most everyone simply assumed that he was trying to sabotage the party’s progress and minimize the wealth that we assembled, but since the rest of the team had secretly agreed to decrease his share in retribution for his terrible performance, nobody seemed to mind.

Previewing my post it seems as if this story has gone on much longer than I had anticipated, so I’ll cut to the chase: our party assembled the map, snuck into the last town, confronted the boss, defeated him, and scooped up his loot, at which point a tournament official appeared, announced the competition officially over, and teleported all of the characters to a giant accounting substation where several gnomes began to tally each character’s individual loot. (We did shaft the Funny one, and he accepted the penalty with a mysterious smile and an amiable “That seems fair”, which instantly set alarms off with almost everyone else at the table.)

Anyway, we added up the tallies of all seven characters and, surprise surprise, the Good Rogue came out on top, having mercilessly picked the pockets of the other PCs just before the last big confrontation. It was as his player celebrated, however, that the Funny Rogue produced the (by now, quite gigantic) binder, dropped it on the table, and said "Oh yes, I tap the head accountant on the shoulder, show him my portfolio, and ask ‘Does this count?’ ".
As it turns out, after a somewhat hasty talk with the DM on the first day of the campaign, he and the Funny rogue had sketched out a rudimentary stock exchange and agreed on some rules to govern it. The funny one had made his character with this in mind, and as such his rogue had emphasized Intelligence and Charisma, which he and the DM agreed would be the primary stats to give him bonuses when making stock buys. After our first big objective had been completed, our rogue took practically everything the dungeon earned him, liquidated it, and used it to short stock owned by companies (primarily merchants) based in towns that we planned to pass through en route to the next objective. Many of his character’s quirks had been oriented towards doing as much damage as possible to the facilities we passed through (crude explosives were, for instance, his favorite weapon), and so he had covertly spent the entire game playing an increasingly complex scheme based around shorting stock of companies that he planned on blowing up.

Unsurprisingly, by the end of the game he actually had so much money that his first act upon being declared the winner was to buy the tournament itself. :smiley:

Hell, if I had time I’d love to run a party through my Savage Worlds conversion of the Star*Drive module Black Starfall if only to playtest it. I’ve already run a party through my d20 Future conversion of the module. But my GM prep time is more or less spoken for currently. Maybe in the summer.

I ran a Metamorphisis Alpha campaign once. Can’t say that my attempt was all that successful or memorable, but the rules are right there for you, if you want. Others in my D&D group had more success with Traveller.

Play-by-Post? Yikes, never gotten into that and I don’t think I shall. But for futuristic roleplaying, try Shadowrun. I’m hooked on a Shadowrun 3e MUD called Awakened Worlds–it’s amazing stuff. It’s not sci-fi in the sense that Star Trek is sci-fi–it’s just 2062–but it’s awesome. I’ll babble on and on about it over PM if you like; otherwise, I’ll come back and spill a bunch of stuff later if I get to it.

Haven’t tried Shadowrun 4e in any form. It’s similar, but some of the differences include an emphasis on wireless technology (since it’s a 2000s concept of 2062 rather than 3e’s Gibson-esque 1980s concept of 2062) and some other things I’m not real well versed on.

OK, actually, more details on Shadowrun (focused on the differences between the world of 2008 and the Shadowrun universe):

  • The concept of bionics has become widespread, though by no means universal, and is still somewhat stigmatized. Bionics is split into cyberware (kind of like plugins) and bioware (complete replacements of biological systems). It can offer the street samurai a number of benefits, but it depletes from your human essence, which makes healing less effective on you, reduces (cripples, if used in any more than a bare minimum) your ability to use magic, and (if taken to an extreme) can induce psychosis and/or kill you.

  • Magic has come back to the world as an objective fact, and science has embraced it. The magical tradition has split into three paths: hermetic (mages, who take a strictly empirical view of their profession, perfecting it through intense study of expensive books); shamanic (shamans, obviously, who take a more spiritual view of magic, calling on a specific totem animal from within magical “lodges” they “build” as astral shrines to their totem); and whatever-the-word-is for “adepts”, masters of combat who use low-level magic to enhance their fighting capabilities, as an alternative to cyberware and bioware. Sort of like futuristic kung fu masters (unarmed combat, nunchaku, and katanas are still viable options, BTW), but with a wide range of weapon specializations. Mages and shamans can project themselves onto the astral plane, which exists alongside the physical world; adepts can see the astral plane to a limited degree if they choose to develop that ability, but cannot project.

  • Technology has led to a point where experts can interface directly with computer systems in a full-sense experience: “riggers” jack in to their vehicles and feel the gas line as their blood veins, use the axles like arms and legs, aim mounted machine guns as if holding Uzis in their hands, etc., while “deckers” jack in to the matrix (this is where Gibson comes in) and assume an electronic persona to crack computer security in another parallel world, this one made of 1s and 0s. While PDAs and keyboard/mouse/monitor computer interfaces still exist, and are still as popular among non-specialists, deckers settle for nothing less than full sensory control over the matrix itself.

  • Globalization has been pretty much completed, and corporations (specifically Japanese corporations) rule the day. Riggers, deckers, mages, shamans, adepts and “street samurai” (who enhance their combat skills with cyberware and bioware) are all “runners”, who do odd-jobs or “runs” for corporations/gangs/mafiosos, who hire “Johnsons” to find runners to do the work. Generally, Johnsons just sit around in bars and restaurants waiting for runners to come plead for jobs from their clients. Runs vary in legality and difficulty, from simple courier work to assassinations of royal figures to dismantling of rival gangs to protection of targeted individuals.

  • The human race has split into several metavariants, like elves, trolls, orks (sic) and several variations thereof. They’re all homo sapiens, and a child of any of those races can be born to parents of any others through an apparently little-understood process of genetic mutation or something–I’m not really up on that stuff. Anyway, racism and bigotry are alive and well, but have generally realigned to fit the new racial divisions, and color has become relatively unimportant. It’s important to note that this is not at all an optimistic view of the future of race relations, since two elf parents in elven Tir Taingire can have an ork baby and be ostracized/hunted-down for unwritten-law race crimes.

  • Governments have split up and reformed among different lines, some of them racial. The MUDs I play (based on the AwakeMUD codebase) focus on the Pacific Northwest, where the Seattle area is part of the United Canadian and American States (Seattle is a “free” city-state), southern Washington is part of the militaristic Salidh (sp?) nation, and Oregon is now Tir, which is basically to elves what Utah was for Mormons. The Seattle area is a run-down, wretched hive of scum and villainy, while Tir is shiny and clean (although still overrun with gang activity).

  • The black market is the primary way of securing goods both legal and illegal. The grey market thrives (much, maybe even most, of the black market’s supplies come from stores), but supplies of most things are low enough that most shadowrunners need “fixers”, or people who are experts at negotiation, to supply them with weapons, computers, vehicle modifications, armor, etc.

  • Use of military-level armor and weapons is widespread among all walks of life, from shadowrunners to executives to soccer moms, because life is so much more dangerous. You don’t get a second glance when you roll down the street in an RV with double mounted machine guns, armour plating and nitrous oxide boosters–the cops will assume you just need that stuff to drive through gangland unmolested, and you generally do.

It’s awesome stuff. So far I’ve only played it on AwakeMUDs, but I’m trying to get my buddies to run a tabletop game.

Bionics in the Shadowrun universe aren’t really stigmatized… a datajack (essentially a USB plug into your brain) is installed in the206X version of a mall piercer

Not entirely… Elves and dwarves have elf and dwarf children; their races were ‘born’ in 2011: orks and trolls are mutant variations that manifest at puberty from human children, as well as descend from their parental stock.

The Shadowrun universe has 2063 North America looking much like 1863 America: America divided into the US and the Confederate States, most of middle America owned ruled by Native American groups, and the west coast colonized by other groups: Americans (Seattle), Elves (Oregon, or ‘Tir Tairngire’) and Hippies/Japanese (California).

It’s a great tabletop game, by the way. :slight_smile:

I’d believe it, but doesn’t Shadowrun have some really insane balance issues if you try to use the default rulebook? I seem to recall that a savvy player could turn a Troll character into what was essentially an invincible artillery delivery system with legs.

The character gen system is extraordinarily malleable which is, of course, a munchkin’s dream. That doesn’t mean that the system’s broken… only that you should game with the sort of people who don’t care about bragging about their character’s awesomeness.

I’m a big fan of ‘Hell On Earth’, the post-apocalyptic Deadlands* setting. I’d love to play in a good game of it… Or whatever else folks run… That being said, I know HoE has three big flaws, all of which are fixable by GM’s with very little effort.

The three flaws:

  1. All major NPC’s are untouchable. Literally, the designers wanted to make sure that ‘their’ story got told, so they intentionally never statted any major NPC’s, because the PC’s -might- beat them. Answer? Either don’t include said NPC’s, or stat 'em yourself.

  2. Too many ‘save or die’ moments. This is really due to the authors wanting the post-apocalyptic to feel -very- deadly. Answer? Make the saves lighter, or don’t put them in the game.

  3. (Personal preference here) I didn’t realize until re-reading the books years after I got them (on the off chance that I was going to run or play in a game of it recently) how anti-North the slant of the ‘world’ is. 90% of bad things that happen in the world is due to the unlucky, over-agressive north, while the south only seems to have (relatively) good, clever, lucky people in it. It irks me a bit.
    *for those unfamiliar with deadlands, a quick summary: At the battle of Gettysburg, the dead start to rise. It ends up as a rout against the north, and the civil war rages as a stalemate for many more decades. Also at that time, magic and mad-science start to appear in the world, and california partially sinks into the sea, revealing ‘ghost-rock’, a new superfuel. The game has some wonderful backstory and very nicely knit canon behind it.

Well yeah. I should’ve said something more like “still very mildly stigmatized”, to the extent that if you walk around looking like a half-cyborg people are going to look at you differently. But you’re right–being cybered up from head to toe is certainly not going to make you an outcast in the shadows (except among healers, maybe).

BTW, I know absolutely nothing about Shadowrun 4e, so some of what I said earlier may be outdated, etc.

It’s definitely a system that a minmaxer can take advantage of, but I don’t think that would be as much of an issue on the tabletop as in AwakeMUD. (And it’s not an issue on some AwakeMUDs, like Awakened Worlds, which gives players a lot of freedom over whether to power-game or whether to stick to RP. Most “high-level” (no levels, actually–“high-TKE” would be more accurate, but it’s not real important to go into what TKE is) players there have done their share of farming and are taking the time now to do more RP. Awake 2062, on the other hand, stops just short of making it against the rules to farm. Power-gaming actually earns you a “Power Gamer” flag there, which brings a fair bit of stigma with it. It might be a good way for you to get a glimpse of what Shadowrun is like without putting a group together.

Oh, and if you really have dedicated munchkins, remember: you’re the GM. Just force them to take some NERPS (Non-Essential Role Play Skills).

Soooo… While we’re weighing game merits, anyone have any idea how possible doing a game like this would be?

If what you have in mind is some kind of play-by-post or play-by-e-mail scheme, I don’t know what you’d need to do that. But if you want to do a virtual tabletop, OpenRPG is still your best option. I’ve run everything from D&D to Marvel Super Heroes using the system. It helps to have the GM at least with a web-accessible directory from which to link image files, and you’ll be a lot happier in general if you have a TeamSpeak server set up and everybody’s got a mic.

Yes, I should’ve mentioned this earlier, but I was thinking either a virtual tabletop (I’ve never heard of OpenRPG, but I’m checking it out now): essentially, these things are basically IM programs that come with a white, dice rollers, and a bunch of tools that are fairly useful in a game.

Okay, for future reference, consider me ‘in’. What’re we playing, and who’s GMing? :slight_smile:

(I’ll bring the cheetohs!)

Hurray! :slight_smile:

I tried to start a virtual game before as the GM, and it fell apart when an choreographed increase in workload made it impossible for me to do a good job. So I guess this whole venture is kind of dependant on finding a doper willing to GM.

I’m not married to settings, and a lot of people have mentioned some really great systems… Torg might be fun, but I understand it can be a cumbersome system to use, and that isn’t what you want when playing online.

One of the many Star Wars systems might be another place to look. I have the revised D20 rulebook hanging around here somewhere, and while some of the character classes are extremely unbalanced, it’s a possibility.

(Assuming we get this thing organized under a system that allows it, I for one was planning on making a Kris Longknife-type character: essentially a politically connected tech specialist who used an obscene amount of specialized equipment to make up for her crappy combat skills.)

I like the Star Wars d20 system, and I have a character lying around from when my local GM promised to run a game and didn’t.

I also have a major hard-on for Shadowrun right now, but I’m willing to consider anything else.

I’d definitely be up for Shadowrun, too… I always did want to try playing a dwarf with a gun. :smiley:

I’d be in for a Shadowrun game, and would be willing to GM or play.

Or anything else with an online ruleset, for that matter. I’ll pass on it if I have to spend real money for an online RPG (the double escape from reality boggles my pocketbook’s mind)

Diomedes, pleasepleaseplease GM Shadowrun!

I would do it myself, but I’ve never even played it except in MUDs and I’m not at all familiar with 4e.

I don’t know about OpenRPG’s support for it, one way or the other, but the rulebooks are, um, “easily acquired” on the Internet.