I'm a big fan of the TSR Buck Rogers XXVc roleplaying game - the big chunky boxset was great value and had everything you needed. Although the game was clunky, and the Buck Rogers label was tacked on to it for various reasons, it was a solid game and was great fun. As a fan of Buck Rogers I didn't mind the setting, but it was easily adaptable to any sci-fi setting regardless.
I always thought it was a wonderful contender as a generic sci-fi game, just as Dungeons & Dragons was a generic fantasy game, and it was a shame they didn't make the leap into making it into the official sci-fi version of D&D.
There were two game systems I always saw as the sci-fi version of D&D; Traveller and the D6 version of the Star Wars which I used to great effect in various sci-fi settings. With these other great systems, did D&D really need a sci-fi version of itself?
Bedroom Wall Press seemed to think so, and so they created Hulks & Horrors. The completely free 156-page book is a great little system and easy to use. If you know Basic D&D then you'll know H&H, and you'll be zipping across the cosmos in no time. The book contains:
Complete rules for characters up to Level 6 and beyond
7 character classes: Pilot, Scientist, Soldier, Psyker, Hovering Squid, Omega Reticulan, and Bearman.
Easy to learn old-school inspired game rules and combat system
Weapons, armor, and equipment inspired by classic science-fiction
Spaceship construction and combat rules
Random tables for creating whole sectors of space
Loot generation rules
Dozens of alien monsters as well as guides for designing your own
Dungeon-mastering advice for sandbox space exploration
Optional rules for customizing Hulks & Horrors
It's quick and easy, and other than the odd rule change it's the system we know and enjoy. I've always enjoyed Basic D&D and this game certainly reminds me of that. The combat system is pretty good - you have to roll below a target number on a D20, which is the attacker's To Hit bonus plus the AC of the target, which is better the lower it is, and a base target number of 5 - and it's easy to use.
The spaceship system is nice and easy and helps give ships a bit of a personality, and there's enough customisable options to help personalise a vessel. Then there's a great big galaxy to fly the thing in, with sectors and planets to explore.
You get a complete game with this, and there's plenty of options and material to get a few hefty campaigns out of.it. My gaming group had fun with it last year and we're about to embark on the second lot of adventures; we've already been exploring planets like we've explored kingdoms, abandoned space stations like age-old citadels and mined asteroids like dungeons. Other than the jetpacks and the laser pistols, this is a great D&D clone.
This is the sci-fi version of D&D I've been waiting for.