I’ve been on a space-SF kick lately, and really have a hankering to run a star-faring space RPG, but having trouble deciding what system to use. Over the years I’ve tried a bunch, and even written one (Zap!) but none of them seem like they’d really scratch my current itch. Zap!, while I’m still quite fond of it allows the players a bit too much narrative freedom for the kind of SF survival, trading, and exploration game I’m hoping for. It’s great for running a very trope-y setting like Star Trek, where you are expected to solve problems with technobabble and a good roll, but isn’t so good when presenting players with constrained options and tough decisions.
Traveller is very tempting for the overall feel, and all the supplementary material, but I find the system very clunky, particularly the ship to ship combat mini-game, but even basic task resolution. 2d6 to beat 8 is nice and simple, but the list of possible DMs to apply is (for me) hard to internalize. Plus I know my players really, really prefer systems where they can significantly improve over the course of adventuring. There’s a lot that I’ll probably swipe from Traveller, but the core system needs to be something a bit different.
Which brings me to this project: taking my current jam, Dungeon Crawl Classics with its great combination of streamlined d20 resolution, flavorful charts, and brilliant tweaks to the class system to provide simple, elegant, and fun special class abilities, and using that as the engine for a space operatic SF adventure game.
Per aspera ad astra!