Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Traveller's Love Child: Diaspora

In an earlier comment, Robert Saint John put me on to Diaspora, published by VSCA, out of (I gather) Vancouver, Canada.

Curious if it would be a good "Firefly" rule-set, and setting?


Robert Saint John said...

I don't mean to keep pimpin' Diaspora, I have no vested interest in it. I think the world of it, but I'm not going to be That Guy who recommends it for everything. Having said that, yeah, it's probably exactly what you'd want to run Firefly-style games. :)

You may find this thread over at useful (and civil!): Side by Side Comparison: Diaspora and Starblazer Adventures. Here's a key quote:

"Diaspora is aimed at encouraging stories that are less over-the-top, slightly more grounded - less Flash Gordon and more Serenity"

Diaspora is the first SFRPG I've bought that feels perfect for Firefly. I thought that was going to be MGT, but I found I had to shoehorn Firefly into the Traveller system, and discard parts of one or the other to make it work. And, frankly, Firefly is simply not about the fiddly bits that Traveller is so much about, IMO. I wouldn't really use Thousand Suns for Firefly either. TS is more "Foundation" than Firefly.

OTOH, Diaspora really captures elements such as the ship as a character (through Aspects) and the isolation of a non-FTL Verse. It's billed as "Hard SF", but you could totally build a character like River using stunts and the optional psionics guidelines. Most of all, the setting is generic, almost non-existent. It could be the Verse of Firefly, Weyland-Yutani of Alien, Outland's mining outposts, Riddick's universe or C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. It's not good for Trek, Lensman, Farscape, or anything transhuman.

Speaking of which, I'm currently torn between the new Eclipse Phase, some swords & planet stuff and real life. I have an extra copy of Diaspora that you're welcome to borrow for a few weeks to confirm your suspicions. We have similar enough tastes in games old and new that I think you'd dig it. Besides, I love your resource cards so I feel I owe you one. Drop me a line (robertATrobertsaintjohndotcom)with your address and I'd be happy to send it up there, seriously.

rainswept said...

Weyland-Yutani of Alien, Outland's mining outposts... or C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate.

For me, that sentence should come with a link to Lulu. I've been struggling to combine those three specific films into an 80's retro-future RPG setting for years.

It's so gritty and low tech' that I haven't yet found a better fit than Chaosium's BRP.

I will definitely be checking out Diaspora.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

@RSJ: That is really generous offer! I may take you up on that.

Can you tell me more about Diaspora? Did you buy that through Lulu as well, or was it off-the-shelf? It looks hardbound. You might want to post a review on your Blog (I find it easier to do that, as I can then edit my blogs).

In my early teens, I tinkered with the Traveller rules, A LOT OF TINKERING, including a set of detailed ship design and maintenance rules, trying to give Traveller a gritty, "one-ship-repair-from-meltdown" feel. That is probably whey Firefly holds such appeal to me. I probably had 200 pages of notes. I also put together some macro-economic trade-rules and insterstellar combat rules, so that you could play a campaign of planetary dictators, each vying to control the subsector.

Sadly, most of my gaming stuff went up in flames, when my parents' garage burned down. I don't know that those notes were any good, but they held a lot of nostalgia for me.

I checked out Thousand Suns again today. It looks pretty good (although, again, it uses a skills system, although I am a little more forgiving when it comes to SF rpgs) but I think I will wait for the revised version.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

@rainswept: The Alien setting always intrigued me, as did the setting used in the early 80's Star Wars novelizations that featured Han Solo.

My vision of Traveller was of creaky spaceships, dodgy assignments, and the players always dealing in the grey-market. I was never interested in "save-the-universe" plots. It was more about, how can we earn enough money to buy fuel for the next jump, or buy that fusion reactor part that is about to fail.