Darth Kwame
▶ Stars Without Number

TLDR: Trying to decide if I should use Traveller M2e, SWN, or something else entirely for a far future space campaign.

Okay, I have a personal sci fi campaign world, that I plan to use for a campaign I'm running in a year or so. It's set in the far future, about 12,000 years from now.

The campaign would be set in known Human space, specifically the nearest 200 parsecs (652 light years) from Earth. My world is mainly populated by Humans and genetically modified Human subspecies, but there are a few alien civilizations with playable species. There is a lot of transhumanism amd biotech, advanced AI, terraforming, FTL travel at around 8 light years per day through hyperspace, et cetera.

I want to have a well designed system that is good for hard science fiction, preferably has rules and info for the aforementioned technology, is relatively simple and easy to learn, and allows varied play styles and characters.

I have skimmed through the Traveller rulebook, SWN Revised, GURPS Space, Genesys, and mire but it's hard to decide. What do all of you suggest?

Another important thing: my world has no psionics.

Data Lore

I have researched hard sci fi rpgs for a while. I have read through pen and paper sci fi rules for a slew of systems. I have yet to make the jump to actually running sci fi (still GMing fantasy) but I am getting ready to start a campaign.

I really liked the world presented in Ashen Stars (Gumshoe), the narrative system in Genesys, and, being a huge Vorkosigan Saga fan, GURPS (since there's a Vorkosigan supplement for it).

Btw, I would look up the Varkosigan Saga books (or the GURPS supplement). Great inspiration for the kind of campaign you describe. Grab Shards of Honor off Audible, you'll love it.

Ultimately, I think SWN does it best. Though I haven't run it, Koebel's online campaigns are an inspiration. Swan Song is good stuff. The system is clean and makes sense. It seems crunchy enough to do varied things but light and flexible.

By comparison, Gumshoe seems weird, like, too deterministic. GURPs is too crunchy and finnicky. Genesys does not seem terribly gritty. Ok for space opera less good for hard sci fi.

No experience with Traveller, though I am sure it can do what you want. It was made for the kind of campaign you describe. But I haven't looked into it too much.

Alistair Langsford

From what I’ve seen, the Cepheus Engine (derived from Traveller) stuff plus SWN may do all that you want with simple mechanics. And you can get ‘free’ or inexpensive stuff. GURPS probably already has it done but it could be in several different rule books. And not done the way you’d like. And, its a bit of a crunchy system. Partly depends on how much work you want to be doing, and how much you like ‘winging it’.

John Powell

Uncharted Worlds is pretty cool.
uncharted-worlds.com - Uncharted Worlds

Dave Sherohman

I'd say either Traveller or SWN because, as noted above, that sounds like pretty much just the sort of campaign they were designed to run.

As for choosing between the two, I think that mostly comes down to whether you prefer something relatively D&D-like with classes and levels and XP and increasing HP (SWN) or something grittier and skill-based where characters gain skills rarely (if at all) and damage comes directly off your base stats (Traveller). Also note that the two are broadly compatible at the world-building level, so you could easily run a Traveller game, but use SWN to create planets and manage faction-level interactions (which is probably how I would personally run something like you describe).