A post over at Grognardia, http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2010/09/sci-fi-goulash.html, has prompted a reoccurring thought in my head.
I have mentioned before that I have had a hit and miss, mostly miss, luck with Sci-Fi games. Every so often I am convinced I have the One, only to be ultimately disappointed in them.
I after I posted a reply to James' post I went back to the Star Frontiers book I have and online at http://starfrontiersman.com/downloads/remastered. I also went through all the Star Trek books I still have left.
In terms of Sci-Fi I like Trek the best, loved Star Wars as a kid, but got into Dune or the hard sci-fi of Asimov. I did like Heinlein and Arthur C. Clark a lot though. I loved Farescape when it was on and I even enjoyed LEXX. Never watched Space Above and Beyond, could not get into Babylon 5 or the new Galatica (though that is not really a reflection on them) and I thought Firefly was stupid.
For games I started out with Traveler, moved to Star Frontiers, Doctor Who (FASA), Star Trek (FASA), Alternity, Star Wars d20, d20 Future and others that I have forgotten. More recently I have used Unisystem (All Tomorrow's Zombies) and Doctor Who (Cubicle 7). Yet nothing seems to fit just right. I looked over Star Blazer Adventures, Rogue Trader and others and didn't really care for them. I don't like GURPS enough to honestly consider it, same for FUDGE and FATE.
What do I want?
That is a very question and one I don't have a good answer for. There are bits and pieces that I like from all the above games. I like the sandboxy feel of Star Frontiers and Traveler. I love the tech in Trek, the scope in Star Wars. I could get better buy-in from my Kids with Star Wars, even if my youngest says "I am not into Star Wars" and lightsabers are cool. I like some of the features of Alternity. I liked some of what I read in Dune.
And I don't want to spend a bunch of time figuring out a new system.
I suppose this points to two things. Unisystem and d20 3.x.
Well I have a bunch of d20 materials laying around including Star Wars, d20 Traveler (T20), Dragon Star, and d20 Future (which has material from Star Frontiers and Alternity). I like the idea of using the d20 Mod/Future classes. I am not thrilled with the idea of levels though, but multi-classing looks like it could be fun. Plus I have a metric ton of d20 material. Bring back mind flayers as an alien race. Baator? Now a planet; literary Planet Hell.
Star Wars, like I said, has a great scope and is full of aliens. Adding a Trek-like Federation to battle an Evil Empire is also very cool and a great backdrop. I'd make it more of a cold war, with hotter areas on the edges. Lots of room then for black markets and ops. Maybe even steal a page from Battlestar and make the evil Empire one of artificially intelligent machines. T20 has a lot of cool stuff too and the Imperium is neat and again lots of cool races.
What is lacking in all of this is unified narrative. Maybe I don't need one. D&D doesn't have one, never did. A lot of what I don't like about the various systems out there is I find their "fluff" to be restrictive. I don't want all the baggage that go with Jedi, or the Imperium, or Aslans, or Fraal. I guess say here is Oerth, here is Yavin, over there is Krynn and Vulcan and just let the universe take care of itself.
I guess until I find that perfect mix, I keep searching.