vendredi 12 septembre 2014

LEARN TABLETOP ROLEPLAYING GAMES - Find the Best Science Fiction Game for Your Group

Just as there really is no such thing as a best book or movie, there is no best roleplaying game, or even best in a particular category. But if you’re looking to try something new, this selection should help. The games were selected to cover a wide spectrum of game mechanics, settings, and play styles. Some are well known, others relatively obscure. Some are licensed from video games, movies, TV shows, or books. Some are free for download, and several provide free quickstart PDFs.
Each of these images links to a full writeup about that game, including overview information, three of the things that make the game stand out out, purchasing information, and links to reviews and community sites.

3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars

Some games are subtle. Some games hit you over the head with their simplicity. Very few games allow you to quickly and easily jump into the action, then slowly reveal subtleties after repeated play. 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars is one such game.
3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars is a grim, brutal game of interstellar war in very personal terms.Suitable for one-offs or campaign play, 3:16 can be used to run straight-up Aliens-style bug hunts or extended deployments in which characters advance in rank and have to grapple with more complex moral issues.
Here’s how the creator of 3:16 describes the game:
  • Elegant, simple game system
  • Very low-preparation to start
  • Complete game in one book
  • Designed for campaign play

Three Things About 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars

  • Simple, Lethal Mechanics: This game uses straightforward conflict resolution mechanics, and the possibility of character death is everpresent.
  • Focused Setting: Player characters are members of the 16th Brigade, 3rd Army Expeditionary Force, sent by the Terran Council to wipe out any and all alien threats. The mechanics are, however, straightforward enough to allow the game to be hacked to suit the military sci-fi setting of your choice.
  • Flashback Character Exposition: Character creation is extremely fast, but over the course of play more is revealed about characters through “Flashback” moments that affect the course of events.

Eclipse Phase

Looking for a meticulously-detailed, immersive science fiction setting that will stretch your imagination? Ready for crunchy d100 rules tailored for simulationist play? Eclipse Phase may be the game for you.
Earth has been abandoned by most of humanity after a massive AI uprising left it barren. The rest of the solar system has been colonized by augmented humans, uplifted animals, and other forms of transhuman life. The conservative Inner System governments, hypercorps, anarchists of the Outer System, and everyone in between jockeys for power, even as new threats to transhumanity’s survival emerge.
The AIs that started the war still linger in hidden pockets. Strange unknowable aliens have appeared, and mysterious gates enable travel to planets far from the solar system. Behind it all a greater danger lurks. Player characters work for Firewall, a secret organization dedicated to confronting these threats. Unknown horrors await!
Here’s how publisher Posthuman Studios describes Eclipse Phase:
  • Your mind is software. Program it.
  • Your body is a shell. Change it.
  • Death is a disease. Cure it.
  • Extinction is approaching. Fight it.

Three Things About Eclipse Phase

  • A Tremendously Detailed Setting: Everything from political and economic systems to space habitats, mesh hacking, and nanoviruses is defined in detail.
  • Death is a Thing of the Past: The ability to disassociate the mind from the body and back up one’s consciousness is a core tenet of the game, and it deeply affects game play.
  • d100 Mechanics: The skills-driven d100 mechanics will be familiar to anyone who has played RuneQuest or any other Basic Roleplaying-derived game. You can also run an EP camp;postID=2642183304988119537aign using Fate Core mechanics.


Microscope is unique. It can be used to model the events of a region, a continent, a world, or a galaxy. It can cover years, decades, centuries, or millennia. Creation of a collaborative history is the name of the game. While Microscope can be played as a stand-alone affair, many groups use it in to establish the backstory and setting for a campaign to be played using another game.
Here’s how the publisher describes Microscope:
Mock chronological order. Defy time and space. Build worlds and destroy them. A role-playing game for two to four players. No GM. No prep. Microscope was playtested for two years by over 150 awesome gamers.

Three Things About Microscope

  • Worldbuilding: Microscope is all about worldbuilding. The worlds you build can be an end to themselves, or be used as the basis for a campaign that uses another RPG.
  • Collaborative: There is no GM in Microscope, and the focus of the game is on collaborative creation.
  • Variable Depth: The outline of the history you create can stretch through thousands of years and still have myriad discrete moments where the course of events hinges on individuals.
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Using Fate Core mechanics, Mindjammer takes place in a space opera setting that incorporates faster than light travel, virtual reality, transhumanism, genetic engineering, conflicts of all kinds, aliens, and more. The rules can be also be used to run campaigns in settings of your own creation.
This is a game well-suited to campaign play, with a solid emphasis on narrative.
Here’s how the publisher describes Mindjammer:
Never has there been a greater time of opportunity. The universe is in flux, and for the first time in ten thousand years no one knows what the future will bring. Charge your blaster, thoughtcast your orders to the starship sentience, and fire up the planing engines. Come and defend the light of humanity’s greatest civilisation as it spreads to the stars!

A Few of the Things That Make Mindjammer

  • Incorporates Fate Core Rules: The Fate Core rules are baked into the game, which means Fate Core is not required. It also means system tweaks designed for Fate Core can be incorporated into Mindjammer.
  • Leverages an Array of SciFi Tropes: This game really covers everything, from the intersection of humans and machines to exploration of the vast reaches of the galaxy to the subtleties of interspecies interaction.
  • Suitable as Setting or Toolkit: The New Commonality of Humankind is a fully-developed setting, but it is presented in a way that provides for everything from tweaking to full overhaul.
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In Numenera the tremendously advanced technologies developed by long-dead civilizations linger on in a low-tech world where people struggle to survive. Adventurers attempt to gather and harness this dangerous, powerful magic in order to build a better future.
Characters in Numenera come from one of three broad classes and advance by gaining experience points, but those traditional d20 mechanics are married to newer elements that offer a great deal of narrative control to players. It is a medium-crunch system delivered with plenty of advice for gamemasters. While it can be used for one-offs, Numenera is best suited to campaign play.
Here’s how the publisher describes Numenera:
Set in a far, far distant future, the Numenera RPG puts a new spin on traditional fantasy, creating something unique to reinvigorate the imagination of gamers everywhere. Player characters explore a world of mystery and danger to find leftover artifacts of the past: bits of nanotechnology, the datasphere threaded among still-orbiting satellites, bio-engineered creatures, and myriad strange and wondrous devices that defy understanding.

Three Things About Numenera

  • A Unique Post-Apocalyptic Setting: Set in earth’s far distant future, technology advanced enough to be indistinguishable from magic coexists with agrarian economies, alien species, and unrecognizable creatures.
  • Character Differentiation: A character type is joined with a descriptor and focus to rapidly generate a unique character.
  • Streamlined NPCs and Monsters: A non-player character or monster’s level determines attack and defense targets, so gamemasters have less work to do up front when creating encounters.
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First published in 1989, Shadowrun blends cyberpunk and fantasy to create a near-future world in which player characters engage in corporate espionage and other dirty work, using magic, technology, and cunning.
The fifth edition consists of the Shadowrun Beginner Box Set and the Shadowrun Core Rulebook, each of which are stand-alone games.
Here’s how the publisher describes Shadowrun:
Shadowrun, Fifth Edition is the newest version of one of the most popular and successful role-playing worlds of all time — a fusion of man, magic and machine in a dystopian near-future. With rules for character creation, magic, combat, Matrix hacking, rigging, and more, you have everything you need to face the challenges of the Sixth World.

Three Things About Shadowrun

  • A Tremendously Detailed Game World: The future history of Shadowrun has been extensively developed over the past 25 years, giving gamemasters a vast palette for creating adventures.
  • The Blending of Technology and Magic: From shamans to riggers, dragons to hovertanks, the Shadowrun rules incorporate virtual reality, advanced technology, and magic of all stripes.
  • Dice Pool Mechanics: If you like rolling lots of six-sided (‘normal’) dice, this is the game for you.
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A Song of Ice and Fire

This is a game tailored for the Seven Kingdoms setting from George R.R. Martin’s books and the A Game of Thrones TV show. The intrigue between the noble houses is just as important as the actions of individual characters; players actually create a house before creating individual characters. In keeping with the source material, this is as much a game of guile and subterfuge as of clever fighting.
A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones Edition focuses on replicating the breadth of political, military, and individual confrontations found in The Seven Kingdoms. With medium complexity rules, deadly combat, and ongoing political intrigue, this game is made for campaign play in the grim, high fantasy, low magic world of the Seven Kingdoms.
Here’s how the publisher describes A Song of Ice and Fire:
A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying gives you everything you need to play and run games in the Seven Kingdoms using an easy to learn system specifically designed to evoke the atmosphere of the best-selling novels and hit TV show.

Three Things About A Song of Ice and Fire

  • Noble Houses: The creation of the noble house your characters serve is it’s own mini-game, with rules covering relationships with other houses, creation of a coat of arms, and more.
  • Destiny Points: Players may spend Destiny Points to change the course of events in a minor way, burn them to affect major events, or invest them to acquire permanent benefits.
  • Intrigue Rules: Secret plans, subtle manipulations, and the cultivation of political and social influence are core to the A Song of Ice and Fire books, and the game’s Intrigue mechanics bring those elements to life.
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Star Wars

One Galaxy – Three Games
The Star Wars galaxy is vast. It has been explored in six movies, dozens of novels and cartoon episodes, and hundreds of comics. With the dawn of the Disney Era of Star Wars, this galaxy will be getting fleshed out in even further detail for years to come.
Given the breadth of the Star Wars setting, it’s not surprising that when it took over the license for Star Wars tabletop RPGs, Fantasy Flight Games elected to create three different flavors of the game, all using the same mechanics, but each emphasizing a different aspect of everyone’s favorite far, far away galaxy. Each is set in the interval between episodes IV (A New Hope) and V (The Empire Strikes Back), but creating a campaign set after The Empire Strikes back wouldn’t require much effort using any of these books.
FFG has released boxed beginner sets and a core book for each of the games. The rules for all these games games use destiny points and a set of special dice to drive a narrative approach to task resolution.
Star Wars is oriented toward campaign play. Character specialization and advancement are familiar to anyone who has played a classes-and-levels game, and the narrative mechanics support the system’s overall emphasis on simulating the pulp feel of the movies.

Three of the Things That Make Star Wars Stand Out

  • A Familiar Universe: You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t at least familiar with the Star Wars universe, which makes it easy to pitch the game to players, and easy for players to situate themselves in the game world.
  • Special Dice: A set of special dice (included in the boxed set) are used to generate a cinematic success/failure and advantage/disadvantage outcomes from a single roll.
  • Tie-ins: Characters, equipment, NPCs, and storylines from each game can be seamlessly incorporated into the others.

Edge of the Empire

Han Solo. Lando Calrissian. Boba Fett. Jabba the Hutt. These smugglers, scoundrels, bounty hunters, and crime lords of the grimy, desperate Outer Rim are the kinds of characters that occupy Edge of the Empire. If the grubby side of Star Wars appeals to you, this may be your game. Typical Edge of the Empire adventures include heists, treasure hunts, protection missions, investigations, smuggling runs, and the like.Players can take the role of Bounty Hunters, Colonists, Explorers, Hired Guns, Smugglers, or Technicians. The core rulebook defines three specializations for each career (ex: Bodyguard Hired Gun), so you wind up with 18 character types. Player characters can be Bothan, Droid, Gand, Human, Rodian, Trandoshan, Twi’lek, or Wookie.
Edge of the Empire uses a story mechanic called Obligation. Obligations are debts, favors, or other responsibilities owed by player character. Gamemasters can use Obligations to put pressure on characters, give them access to resources they wouldn’t otherwise have, and introduce new adventures.
The Force plays an ancillary role in Edge of the Empire; the Force-Sensitive Exile specialization can be taken with any career and provides some nifty capabilities, but characters with Force sensitivity are mostly untrained and hiding their talents for fear of being discovered by the Empire.


The first edition of Traveller was released in 1977. Its central themes of interstellar travel, trade, and warfare caught on and it went on to become the de facto science fiction RPG.
Since then it has undergone several revisions, including the massive 655-page Traveller5: The Ultimate Edition. The most current version, published by Mongoose Publishing, is much more accessible to Traveller neophytes. That is the version discussed here.
In Traveller characters go through a series of careers, accumulating skills along the way, before they enter play. The game mechanics rely on a straightforward d6-based system.
While the default Third Imperium setting is used for many game supplements, the rules are generic. Referees (gamemasters) can easily create their own settings. Traveller is well-suited for campaign play with a hard SF flavor.

Three Things About Traveller

  • The Original SF RPG: If you want to run a campaign built around the hard scifi of galaxy-spanning adventures, spaceship combat, and discovery.
  • Simple Mechanics: Traveller uses d6 (‘normal’ dice) coupled with attribute and skill modifiers, which makes for streamlined task resolution.
  • Back Catalogue: Many supplements were created for the original GDW edition of Traveller, and Mongoose has re-released several of them.
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