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When you think of tabletop RPGs, the first game that probably comes to mind for you is Dungeons & Dragons. Wizard of the Coast’s RPG masterpiece has become as ubiquitous as Kleenex is for facial tissues.
As such, most people tend to imagine tabletop RPGs in a fantasy setting, since that’s where D&D exists. However, there is a slew of tabletop RPGs out there set in a science fiction world. If you’re more into Star Wars and Star Trek than Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, these Sci-Fi tabletop RPGs are perfect for you.
Like D&D, this is an old-school RPG. It was first published in 1977, and it hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down since. It has all the things you’d expect from a sci-fi world such as space battles, trading, exploration, and so much more. Because the game has been around for so long, it’s quite refined and balanced. The game might be deeper than D&D in terms of systems, so there’s no shortage of things to learn and stuff to do!
2. Stars Without Number
Stars Without Number has quite a few benefits over other games. First of all, it’s cheap, with a PDF of the Revised Edition selling for only $19.99. Additionally, it’s a true sandbox game, making it nearly limitless in terms of value. It’s also built to make being the game master as easy as possible, so the group can spend more time having fun and less time preparing. Like all good tabletop RPGs, this one is packed with depth, so there’s plenty for players and GMs to sink their teeth into.
3. Savage Worlds
Savage Worlds is one of those RPGs that is all about being quick and painless to get started. Players can get into the sci-fi game without spending weeks learning complicated systems. And once the game gets going, it moves much faster than a lot of other games, which means players won’t be spending too much time waiting for their turn. Don’t let that turn you off, though, because there’s plenty of depth if you’re willing to dig in.
Shadowrun first released back in 1989, and it’s still one of the most popular tabletop RPGs out there. The game is so beloved that it even became a popular video game. It’s on the sixth edition right now, so it’s very refined and balanced. If you’re into deep mechanics, systems, politics, and all the stuff that comes with both RPGs and sci-fi, this is a game you should check out.
5. Star Trek Adventures
If you love Star Trek, then you’re in luck, because there’s a very well-received tabletop RPG set in the Star Trek universe. Honestly, what sci-fi fan doesn’t want to create their own stories within the confines of Star Trek? While it’s cool to create your RPG worlds, there’s something to be said for spending time role-playing in a world you already know and love.
Outside of D&D, one of the most popular fantasy games is Pathfinder. The same company responsible for that beloved game also made Starfinder. It uses the same mechanics, but it swaps the setting for something that’ll appeal to science fiction enthusiasts. It’s a fairly new game, having launched in 2017, but don’t let that scare you away, because the mechanics were refined over the years in Pathfinder.
If you like fantasy, but you want some sci-fi mixed in, Numenera is the perfect tabletop RPG for you. It masterfully blends the trappings of the fantasy genre into those of sci-fi, and it does it all with an incredibly refined gameplay system, a fun mechanics, and the ability to create some entertaining and exciting worlds.