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Re: Basic Scifi Role-Playing Game

Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 7:12 am
by Seven
Still, in Basic Fantasy, the economy is well defined. There is a universal currency based on precious metals. The price of things is listed in the core rules and expended elsewhere.
Monster entries list how much treasure they normally carry and hoard. It's very economically driven.

Do you plan to cover that? Or leave it to the GM?

Re: Basic Scifi Role-Playing Game

Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 8:23 am
by Solomoriah
Currency in the future may or may not be based on some form of blockchain; precious metals aren't nearly as valuable when (a) they are relatively expensive to transport, and (b) they aren't nearly as rare in space. But it's difficult to predict whether or not the "final" solution to currency will be the blockchain mechanism.

So, the smart thing to do is to have a standard "credit" which can be electronically transferred, and not think too hard about it otherwise.

However, while it's hard to predict the future of money, it's impossible to ignore the fact that fabricators are coming. Galactic civilization fiction is virtually always set 1,000 or so years in the future. In the last 200 years we went from horses and handmade items to rockets and 3D printers... 1,000 or more years will certainly turn the humble 3D printer into a fully flexible factory device.

So the book will need to talk a lot about them in the Equipment section. All articles of standard equipment should have a price given in credits, as well as a cost in materials. I suggest that fabricators use standard units of kilograms in several categories; metal, ceramic, plastic, organic spring to mind, but more thinking needs to be done. Time requirements need to be included; anything made from metals or ceramics will be hot and need time to cool, so since we aren't building replicators it can't be instant (and I think it works better if making things takes some time... stuck on the Planet of Doom for three hours while a critical engine part prints sounds like a fun one-session adventure). I don't want to deal with this in too much detail, just build basic rules that work adequately most of the time.

Fabricators themselves would come in various sizes; after all, a fabricator that makes a blaster doesn't need to be in the same class with one that makes starships. Indeed, fabricators might be more than one piece... imagine a fabrication station that includes robots, so that the individual fabricators make parts and the robots assemble them. In the broadest sense, such a station is just a big fabricator.

The point is to cover this area in as small a section as possible while including everything you need to run it in game.

Imagine an adventure where our heroes find an ancient weapon of great or subtle power. They don't have plans for it, and so they can't reproduce it. Oh sure, there will be scanners that can duplicate things, but only if the scanning computer understands the thing it is scanning. Duplicating a skillet is one thing, alien technology using unknown principles is another.

Now imagine the heroes hear a rumor about an archeological dig that found an alien memory device, possibly with plans or scientific data that would make reproduction possible... ah, that would be an adventure!

Re: Basic Scifi Role-Playing Game

Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 10:30 am
by daryen
To me, the fabricators are beside the point.

Like you said, trying to figure out what 1000 years from now will look like, especially considering what has happened in the last 200 years, is nearly impossible. Just go with whatever makes sense to you and rock it.

The main point, however, is AI and transhumanism. Simply put, there are many very smart people* who are expecting sapient AI to be right around the corner, much less what is 1000 years in the future. And 1000 years allows for more than enough time for transhumanism. However, if you are going for "old school science fiction", you can't have either. The dichotomy is between the human condition playing out in 1000 years, or the condition of humans in 1000 years. "Old school" is definitely in the former camp.

So, the issue isn't the importance, or lack thereof, of fabricators. The issue is whether what is controlling those fabricators is AI or purely humans. If it is AI, why aren't they the ones in charge running the whole thing (or potentially being the only things). If it is purely humans, where is the AI?

Even if you don't explain in-universe why, you'll still need to explain what type of AI (if any) and what kind of transhumanism (if any) is present and the assumptions for such.

* I am not in either camp. I am not one of those super-smart people and I am not one who expects sapient AI to be right around the corner. "Expert systems" AI, sure. Sapient AI, no.

Re: Basic Scifi Role-Playing Game

Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 10:52 am
by Solomoriah
I agree with you, to a point.

This game system is meant to be a foundation. (Not a Foundation, but I digress.) Cool and scary as it sounds, transhumanism and "the singularity" cannot really be predicted... we do not know enough about what it is to be human to reliably predict what it will mean to be transhuman.

Fabricators can be imagined, and indeed, we can see the engineering steps. The progression from 3D printers to compact, flexible factory machines is direct and predictable in its progression, if not necessarily in its timescale. We don't know if a human mind can become an AI, but we know how to make things, and anything we know how to make, we can automate that process of making.

Things we can predict must be covered somehow in the rules. Things we can't predict go in supplements. Some GMs will want to run a campaign that is transhuman; others will want to ignore that completely. For myself, I'd prefer a campaign where transhumanism, kind of like fusion reactors, remained frustratingly just a few years away for centuries (though I do think we need fusion reactors, but I digress again). In such a galaxy, worlds where humans transcended their biology would be few, and probably legendary if not mythical.

In like vein goes AI. Robots that can do work, but are not properly sentient, can be predicted now. We have some idea what is involved in doing it. But creating truly sentient AI systems is something we don't properly understand, not yet. The game thus must allow for robotic movers and cleaners and builders and such, but must leave sentient robots (including robotic player characters) for a supplement. Maybe we never cracked AI; maybe we did, and it tried to kill us, or caused some other issues, and we stopped using it. The core game will omit any of that, as that is up to the GM to decide upon, and supplement writers to create and detail.

Finally, sentient aliens fall into this category, kind of sideways. The core game won't allow for nonhuman characters, but supplements can add them. One can imagine the galaxy of Asimov or Vance, full of humans but without significant nonhuman sentience; or one can imagine the Trek universe of multiple bipedal humanoid sentiences, or Star Wars' wild array of nonhumans in a galaxy obviously ruled primarily by humans and "related" bipedal humanoids. The core game should not promote anything that is "flavor" any more than necessary, so all of those aliens are out, relegated to supplements.

Re: Basic Scifi Role-Playing Game

Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 10:57 am
by Solomoriah
Having said all of that... supplements.

Basic Fantasy supplements are strictly downloads, but insofar as we can, I'd like to hope that Basic Sci-Fi supplements can be made printable. I'd love to see supplements that include not only a concept for a world or alien race or what have you, but also provides one or more adventures applying those concepts, which can be published as a package in print as well as in PDF form. Obviously, supplements that violate someone's IP will be omitted from distribution, even as free PDFs, from whatever official site we end up with. Anything outside that should be fine, though.

Re: Basic Scifi Role-Playing Game

Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 10:59 am
by Solomoriah
Also, R3 just uploaded.

Some of the mechanics are not quite like Basic Fantasy; some more closely resemble Iron Falcon, and some are from my Realms of Wonder game (and some of my other games that never got distributed). Hopefully I've fixed all the improper references.

Re: Basic Scifi Role-Playing Game

Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 11:04 am
by SmootRK
Had a couple thoughts about a sci-fi sort of game. Primarily I was thinking... it still needs to be a game, played for fun and adventure. For me, its going to need to be a lot like it is in BFRPG (and all the BFRPG emulators and so-called official game editions)... meaning games revolving around exploring, exciting encounters including those with combat, finding "treasures" (exactly what makes treasures can be subjective), etc.

If the game intends to play out like a emulator of future economics... then uggh, I don't think it is going to appeal to me. If it is just hard science without those features of fun that we get from our mundane fantasy games... then I will have a hard time being enthused. Of course, I am just sharing my own opinions here. I know other opinions matter around here... probably more important than my own feelings.

In my mind, the setting that seems to have the most robust opportunity for the fun as I explain my opinions above is going to be something more like Star Wars. Bear in mind, I am not saying to make a Star Wars clone... just saying the pieces of the setting have the most potential for a variety of game play styles. Tech is left mostly vague and unexplained, myriad of races and creatures to encounter, opportunity for ancient and alien sites, mental/psy-powers/ inter-dimensional or unexplainable physics (ie sort of an analog to Magic).

Again, my experience with Sci-Fi leans towards more of this lighter "sci-fantasy". I enjoyed playing Star Frontiers and Gamma World games, and never got thrilled with stuff like Traveller or even Star Trek sort of games for the reasons listed above.

Anyhow, just a few cents from me... I know it is in good hands regardless.

Re: Basic Scifi Role-Playing Game

Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 11:06 am
by SmootRK
Wow, Solo posts three times while I was writing my post. :D

Re: Basic Scifi Role-Playing Game

Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 11:12 am
by toddlyons
Solomoriah wrote: Tue Sep 22, 2020 10:59 amAlso, R3 just uploaded.
Very cool. Downloading... ... 731#p69622

Re: Basic Scifi Role-Playing Game

Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2020 11:20 am
by toddlyons
I'm strongly in favour of the initialism BSFRPG, not just because Sci-Fi is two words, but because it just seems funny talking about Chris's new "BS"RPG.

Yes, I'm immature. I thought if I kept repeating it, I'd get used to it, but my brain still wants to leave an appreciable pause between BS and RPG. :lol: