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Tabletop Space Game

Cognisant

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Dec 12, 2009
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I’ve been thinking about a tabletop version of games like EVE Online and Freelancer, games where the player’s space ship is essentially the player’s character. In terms of combat and gameplay mechanics it’s easy to see how outfitting a ship could translate to tabletop. It’s basically Battletech in space, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if Battletech has rules for combat in space. What’s more interesting to me is how D&D like roleplay could be encouraged both by game mechanics and the lore of the setting.

Gameplay Mechanics
Different classes of ship function like different classes in an adventuring party by specialising in certain combat/utility roles, the stealth ship is the rogue, the drone ship is the druid, of course it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) exactly match D&D, my point is each ship class should affect how the player plays the game. Likewise the manufacturer or species a ship originates from should affect how people (NPCs mainly) react to it with each species/manufacturer having their own history, culture and technical specialities. As a result players might be singled out by local law enforcement due to their ship choice or be treated better or worse by certain factions.

Setting & Lore
I see a lot of the roleplay coming from having to contend with politics and bureaucracy, certain areas of space will be managed like the airspace near an airport, players will have to announce their designation, ask permission to enter certain areas, maybe explain their presence and provide flight plans. Of course following the rules isn’t very interesting but they create problems for players to work around, as any bureaucrat knows rules are very circumstantial. For example they may want to intercept a shipment but attacking a cargo ship in patrolled space will quickly get them in trouble so instead they might try to stage an accident or initiate hostilities between two other factions so they can take advantage of the chaos.

Information warfare is a big part of the game, players might have multiple transponders on their ships with different ID signatures, special paint-jobs that let them change their colour/markings on the fly, bolted on fake superstructure to make their ships look like a different kind of ship, concealed weapons, jamming equipment, decoy drones, etc.
 
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