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.(Excerpt from the 24XX system reference document)
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.
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!