24XX/2400

Yesterday I was looking for a simple Science Fiction roleplaying game which I could use as a basis for a campaign idea I had. At first I thought about using something like the Cepheus System (or one of its variants), but it didn’t quite fit what I was looking for, especially because the system still puts a lot of emphasis on combat and other fiddly bits I just didn’t want to bother with.

Eventually I stumbled upon Jason Tocci’s lo-fi sci-fi RPG 2400. In fact it’s not a single game, but actually a whole slew of them. Each comes with all necessary rules, equipment lists, and random tables which help generate NPCs or adventures on the fly. Since each of the 2400 games is inspired by familiar franchises you should be able to start playing almost immediately.

The core mechanics themselves are extremely simple. There’s not a lot of bookkeeping involved and unlike most other ultra-rules-light games 2400 allows for character advancement. While I don’t think the mechanics are that well-suited for a campaign spanning many years, shorter campaigns should definitely be viable. And did I mention that the rules themselves have been released under a Creative Commons Attribution license?

Roll a d6 skill die — higher with a relevant skill, or d4 if hindered by injury or circumstances. If helped by circumstances, roll an extra d6; if helped by an ally, they roll their skill die and share the risk. Take the highest die.
1–2 Disaster. Suffer the full risk. GM decides if you succeed at all. If risking death, you die.
3–4 Setback. A lesser consequence or partial success. If risking death, you’re maimed.
5+ Success. The higher the roll, the better. If success can’t get you what you want (you make the shot, but it’s bulletproof!), you’ll at least get useful info or set up an advantage.

(Excerpt from the 24XX system reference document)

Up to this point Jason has released twelve modules which can either be used standalone, or you can mash them together into one large setting. If you are – like me – looking for a simple SF system which you can run online, look no further than Jason Tocci’s little gem. I highly recommend getting the 2400 bundle for mere $6 which contain the following booklets:

  • Cosmic Highway: space truckers trying to keep their rust bucket flying
  • Inner System Blues: cyberpunk freelancers in a grainy retro-future
  • Orbital Decay: a space-horror scenario generator
  • ALT: uplift, AI, and clone operatives in a world without death
  • Zone: exploring an area where known science no longer applies
  • Exiles: twenty weirdos surviving in a xenotech-riddled quarantine world
  • Xenolith:an alien crew faces threats from ancient relics
  • Eos: human marines fight for the common good in the galactic community
  • Project Ikaros: rogue psychics flee—or fight—elite agents
  • The Venusian Job: a casino heist above the clouds on another world
  • Tempus Diducit: timeline-bending mashup setting for all 24XX games
  • Emergency Rules: (slightly) expanded version of the rules and principles

Have you played 2400 or one of the many games based on the 24XX system reference document? Please share your comments below!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

2 thoughts on “24XX/2400”

  1. I have also recently stumbled on 2400 and to be honest my mind has been blown. That these games can pack so much into a sheet of paper – rules, character gen, GM tools – and also be distinct from each other is brilliant design.

    Have yet to play them, but keen to. I agree with you that they look better suited to short campaigns, but to be honest I’m fine with that especially as there are so many (and 3rd party too) to explore.

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