Monday, May 23, 2016

A Question of Frontiers

My brain suddenly had this weird idea, but it requires a bit of forethought. Mainly in answering a single question: How tied to their published settings are the old TSR (and others from the same era) games?

Mainly, for now, I am wondering if it would be acceptable to play Star Frontiers using a completely new setting, with all-new races, governmental entities, etc.? Or is the game so tied with the UFP setting (even just in the minds of players), that it would just feel “wrong” to change things up?

I mean, I’m pretty sure it would be easy enough to do from a technical standpoint. But, would players buy a game “Inspired by TSR’s classic game Science Fiction Adventure” even though it had no Yzirians, Dralasites, or Vrusk, and your big bad enemies were something other than the Sathar.

Of course, that also begs the question of whether such an effort would be worth it due to the system itself. I, personally, love the system (a nice, succinct percentage-based one), but I have heard mumblings and rumblings about how “limited” or “rudimentary” it is.

I dunno, with the old OGL (which allowed me to make Mutants & Marvels), I might just put something together and see what happens. I’ve been looking for a new RPG project to sink my teeth into, and this may be a fun diversion.

Then again, I'd be willing to bet someone is already doing it...


  1. Star Frontiers isn't covered by the old OGL, unfortunately. I've had that discussion with WotC. That said, as long as you wrote up the system from scratch, you could use the mechanics to create a game. I was just having that very thought earlier today myself.

    I don't think it would be "Star Frontiers" as I think that is very much tied up in the races and background of the game. There are lots of ports the other way (i.e. the setting to other systems) because people love the setting.

    As far as I know, no one has ever done a setting-free version of the mechanics. It should be possible. Of course, as you mentioned, there are parts of the games that many would tweak. Game design has come a long way in 34 years. If you are going to tackle this and are looking for a collaborator, I'd be interested.

  2. Definitely something to consider. I might have to look into that. But I'm thinking the way you are in that the setting itself is what makes SF what it is. Replacing all of the details would make it just another Sci-Fi game. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that, I suppose.

    Hmmm...things to consider. :)