Once again, I’ve hit that time of the year when I start to muse about a science fiction version of Dungeons & Dragons.
I recently posted a mini review about Hulks & Horrors, a D&D retroclone that puts the game into the sci-fi genre with aplomb, and swaps sword for blaster and horse for starship. The entire roll-under on D20 skill setup is excellent – although I’ll always prefer the roll high approach as those natural 20s are always a fistpump moment – and it’s as close to a proper D&D sci-fi game as I’ll get.
I’ve always loved the Buck Rogers XXVc RPG, as it’s a great science fiction version of the original AD&D 2nd Edition.
So, we’re on to the next edition of D&D and up to yet I’ve loved it; 5th edition is my favourite edition by far. It has the right balance between ease of use and complication and it focuses on fun and not mechanics. So, does this new edition have room for a science fiction version?
Absolutely. The system is quick and fluid and there’s already a hint of tech in the rulebook. All you need to do is create some races and classes, add some new skills and starship rules (the starship rules from Hulks & Horrors would work just fine, I reckon) and some extras for equipment and the basics of a setting, or at least some guidelines on different kinds of settings.
With the correct approach the game could be used to great effect; hard science fiction, space opera, post-apocalyptic, deep space exploration and everything in between could get a crack at the whip and gaming groups embedded in the D&D rules wouldn’t have to be worried about changing systems to start a sci-fi campaign.
It’s not just the genre or the setting, but the era as well. Classic pulp sci-fi? Golden age? 1970s low-fi sci-fi? 1980s space opera or cyberpunk? The game has the chops to cover everything and suit every sci-fi fan. Using the three core books of the D&D game and creating a new book, you could dedicate only a part to new characters and skills and a lot of the book to tech, settings and the different science fiction genres.
Of course, this is just me dreaming again. Every fantasy game that comes out I always think of a sci-fi version of it but I always come back around to D&D.