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KKylimos

Twilight Imperium as an RPG.

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I have been working on this idea for some time now... Twilight Imperium is by far the best board game i ever experienced and as a fan of roleplaying games i would love to see FFG publish books that will allow people to play on the setting.

In my opinion , it wouldnt be TOO hard. There are many races to choose from and each race has a complex back story and a different personality archetype. In order to keep things from spreading too much , each race could have a preset class archetype. For example , Jol-Nars being "scientists" , winnu being the "face" , Letnev's being combat oriented etc. Ofcourse there would be a talent/skills system that would allow you to customise and personalise your character as much as you like. Another idea would be to have 6 archetypes that you can choose from after you pic your race. Ofcourse considering the racial traits of each one , some choices will be much more fitting that others.

The setting is also very rich. There are a million reasons for different races to form groups in TI and a million of places to visit. 

I personally adore FFG's work on the warhammer 40k roleplay and im sure that they would nail a TI version. Theres already a lot of content to draw from , both from TI and their other roleplays ( characteristics , character growth system etc.)

On the marketing side , i think that a TI rpg would also attract further interest to the franchise. Not everyone likes or can play board games so the product would spread in the roleplaying genre aswell which is a good thing.

So , what do you guys think? Would you like that? Do you think its a silly idea? Discuss :D

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There was a TI RPG released back in the late 90s.  It was based on an earlier edition, obviously.  It was an in-house system and I think it suffered from some poor execution of mechanics.

 

A newer TI RPG based on one of the established systems they use for their current RPGs might do better.

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I for one would LOVE a well functioning TI3-based RPG! The question is when in the timeline it should be set. Before the Twilight War? During it? At the time TI3 is played out? My vote (I only have one since my Home System is tapped and I own no other planet) would be cast on before the war.

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I started working on this and then found this thread when looking to see if someone else did a timeline.

 

I will be starting the game right at the Letnev blockade of Quann and the subsequent attack by Federation of Sol. So I can develop the story and game material on races over time as apposed to trying to front load preparation, I'm having the players make humans from the Federation. As they run into the other races I'll develop them at that time, adding them to the list of playable races. I'll probably confine these playable races to the ones that would reasonably work together. 

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I think a proper RPG should be independent of a specific time in the game's history. Provide a timeline, by all means. Identifying what races were around and when would be useful, but the game should be playable at any point in the TI history, subject to the whims of the gaming group.

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I think a proper RPG should be independent of a specific time in the game's history. Provide a timeline, by all means. Identifying what races were around and when would be useful, but the game should be playable at any point in the TI history, subject to the whims of the gaming group.

Decently set up, such a game would include the very common races and a sort of implied, but not really stated as such, default time period and then have a series of supplements that go into more detail on 3-4 specific time periods.

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Well just to entomb this here;

 

Thing is; to have a somewhat decent playable group you would have to remove several races as playable races. 

Arborek, L1Z1X, Necro are a must remove because they are pretty much hive-mind (are the jin individuals in a conservative sense? i mean they are clones)...which would suck. It´s also arguably how playable races that depend on exo-suits are: such as the peeps of the university, creus and muaat(do these guys need these suits?). Im also not sure if SardakNorr and Naalu should be playable for players.

Also; Mentak are not really an own race but just a political system containing different races.

 

So whats left (if we take only the safe picks):

Humans, Hacan, Letnev, Saar, Winnu, Yssaril and Xxcha. (If I didn´t miss out on a race here)

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Well, the thread is well over a year old, but what the hell. I love TI and any excuse to discuss it is good in my book.

Thing is; to have a somewhat decent playable group you would have to remove several races as playable races. 

I don't really think that is at all an issue. A RPG us going to focus on different things than a strategy board game, no reason you have to include everything from one in the other. A Star Trek RPG isn't going to include the Borg as a PC race, at least not initially, so removing the Arborec or L1z1x wouldn't be at all unexpected. Include 3-4 of the "great races" and another 3-4 minor race that aren't important enough to have an impact on the strategic game.

Honestly, I think figuring out a method of FTL travel in the setting that doesn't contradict how fleets move in the board game but that still allows for individual scale adventurers would be more of a challenge.

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well you are right about the races and I totally agree that having a few "great" races is probably better than forcing everything into it just because its in the "universe".

 

The transistion of spacetravel is something I see much less critical. Since the player group could be something else than part of an army with banners all over the place. they might be a group of mercs or even pirates. More challenging could be to keep the players entertained if the game includes "flying". Even in combat. Imagine one of the players is a sweet ass pilot and you might actually have proficient gunners to use weaponary.yet someone is most likely to sit around with nothing but to wait till the others handled this....or they all die. which would be super aweful and something that wouldnt just happen in a shoot out in a sidestreet or something like that. giving all players the option to contribute positively is super important and that could be an issue if you let them "fly" on their own. So finding a balance there is probably tough.

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Also, it kinda depends when in the timeline the rpg would take place I think. If before the Twilight War then the L1Z1X would be easy to take out since they are deseandants of the few Lazax that managed to flee the Sol attack on Rex for example. And the Necro Virus and Creuss? Don't even show up in the galaxy until way after the war.

To me it would be important to have a bunch of races to choose from when creating a character. To have options. For example, I for one think that an Yssaril rogue would be far more plausible and successful than, say, a Winnu one. And a Xxcha would propably make a better "paladin-type" than a Jol-Narian.

That being said it WOULD be interresting and more challenging to play a Winnu Fighter or Xxcha rogue so I wouldn't knock it 'til I've tried it...

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Well I think it is very dependant on what system you use as a base right?
Although I agree with you on how yssaril "rouge"-ish roles are more fitting than on winnu I must say that I like when some races have clear disatvantages. I generally dislike the position that most races in pen and papers must be "decent at everything". no. not really.

So I wouldnt be mad that Xxcha "rouges" would be either nonexistant or assbad tbh.

 

I also feel like this game already has a buttload of adventure potential that it might be not really needed to write own adventures; for example the revolution of Moll Primus; Dune-like adventures in the hacan home system; Freedom for the Clans of Saar/ What happend with the lisis colony that "disappeared" and this is just some examples.....I am more worried about shrinking this to a small scale. It was one of the things hard to believe in mass effect and here this is even worse because ti lacks seriously written lore a bit. Because in both settings there aren´t really different governments but mostly entire races pitted against each other; I actually find this hard to believe. The mentak ad some other ti "races" are somewhat different but the problem still exists.

Edited by Wonoz

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there aren´t really different governments but mostly entire races pitted against each other; I actually find this hard to believe.

That's a perennial problem in most space opera settings, Star Trek, Babylon 5, along with the mono-climate planet. I find it easiest to assume that each "race" in a sci-fi setting has a number of less powerful satellite species that are aligned with them. So the government of the Federation of Sol may be dominated by Humans and have its capital on Earth, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't also include Vulcans and Andorians and Tellerites (or whatever). There is support for this in TI, we know that the Hylar used Muat slaves in the construction of the first Death Sta  War Sun, it is unlikely that they were the ONLY other species in Jol Nar space and it is also unlikely that all other species in their sphere of influence were slaves.

 

The flip side of this is that it is also not at all unlikely that there are colonies peopled by one the "great races" that exist within the territory of one of the other super powers. Just because the Hacan are most solidly identified with a particular nation does not mean that you can't find ethnic Hacan living with Humans. It also doesn't mean that you can't have a Human, an Yssaril, a Xxacha and a Winnu working together as deep space scouts and having adventures.

 

TI is a very large scale game, which necessitates a heavy dose of abstraction and simplification. That's why I think an RPG would be such a winner, when you get down to the scale of a half dozen individuals, you get the opportunity to add a lot of the details that get glossed over at the macro scale, like how various species actually work together.

 

 

Mechanically, I don't much like class based RPG systems, they require too many assumptions that the actual players may not like. I would much prefer to see a system with a robust skill system and you just take the skills that make sense for your character background.

 

 

I generally dislike the position that most races in pen and papers must be "decent at everything". no. not really.

 

Um... huh? P&P RPG races virtually always skew toward favoring certain types of classes or professions and suck at others, usually by giving them stat bonuses in one area and penalties in another.

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Youtuber Rodney Smith over at the channel Watch it Played showcased an rpg in one of his Periscope broadcasts that had a "learn by doing"-style of skill system that would probably fit well for a TI-based rpg. You'd need a certain amount of successes AND failures in a skill to rank it up. Don't remember the name of the game/system though. I have asked him so I'll get back with his answer.

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thats probably a really good idear tbh. I got a friend from my ti3 playgroup hooked into this who is playing shadowrun. i myself play "the dark eye". he said he wanted to give this a shot at least for the sake of having somethng to waste time on. i´ll keep you up to date if you want :D

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And the rpg i was thinking of is Mouse Guard. I think it's set in the universe of Mice & Mystics but I'm not 100% on that. Worth noting is that Rodney looked at the new 2nd edition so 1st edition might work differently.

Edited by Fnoffen

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Thing is; to have a somewhat decent playable group you would have to remove several races as playable races.

Arborek, L1Z1X, Necro are a must remove because they are pretty much hive-mind

Removing these as playable races is not a terrible sin, IMHO. However, if you REALLY wanted to have a Necro player, I'm sure you could kitbash some ideas to make it work. Give him individuality, but periodically force him to roll to resist Hive Mind directives, come up with an excuse for how thise one separatd itself from the Hive Mind, etc.

 

(are the jin individuals in a conservative sense? i mean they are clones)

IIRC the Jin are Human clones, so I don't see any reason why they'd be incapable of individual thought. Maybe the bulk of their faction is aligned to a single fanatical religious vision, but there's no reason why a player couldn't assume the role of a lone wolf dissenter.

 

...which would suck. It´s also arguably how playable races that depend on exo-suits are: such as the peeps of the university, creus and muaat(do these guys need these suits?) Im also not sure if SardakNorr and Naalu should be playable for players.

I see no reason why any of these races can't be playable. The requirement for an exo-suit is largely fluff when you boil it down. It could be used the odd time as a plot device (oh noes! Your suit is damaged, you need to hurry and patch it.)

Giving them the option for "combat-hardened" suits that can withstand moderate weapons fire largely resolves issues of them wearing these things into battle.

And yes, the Muaat do require exo-suits.

 

Also; Mentak are not really an own race but just a political system containing different races.

Indeed. As such, "Mentak" would be a political affiliation that a character of ANY race could claim, if they so desired.

Of all the races, Mentak would be the easiest to integrate into a rag-tag team of adventurers, I would think.

 

I am more worried about shrinking this to a small scale. It was one of the things hard to believe in mass effect and here this is even worse because ti lacks seriously written lore a bit. Because in both settings there aren´t really different governments but mostly entire races pitted against each other; I actually find this hard to believe.

I understand exactly what you mean by this, and if it seems hard to believe that's because it is.  The establishment of a global political body would be a veritable necessity when dealing with alien species, but that wouldn't absolve us of our own nationalities and other political affiliations.  It wouldn't make our entire species one unified organization.

 

However, as Fnoffen pointed out, this isn't really a flaw with TI's setting so much as it is a flaw with sci-fi in general.  But of course, the generalizations go far beyond just grouping an entire race under one banner.  For instance, the majority of sci fi settings (Mass Effect, Star Trek, Twilight Imperium, etc) depict most aliens as basically humanoid and breathing the same air.  Species that require exo-suits are rare.  In reality, this would be statistically impossible.  We humans are known to get sick just from drinking water in a different country because the native bacteria are too different from what we're used to.  Forget about drinking water from another planet.  The odds that we'd be able to breathe the air on another planet without mechanical assistance are already miniscule, even if it had an atmosphere.  So multiple alien species from different corners of the galaxy being able to breathe the same air?  Forget about it.  I know some people who disliked War of the Worlds for having an anticlimactic ending, and while I can see what they mean by that, the fact is it was one of the most realistic alien invasion stories I've ever read precisely because of how it ended.

 

There are a LOT of these sorts of technicalities that sci fi glosses over in the interest of telling a good story, not the least of which is the mind-bogglignly large amount of emtpy space between planets and stars, and the amount of time it'd take to travel anywhere, even at relatavisitic speeds.  You would need to draw the line somewhere yourself, in such an RPG, otherwise the entire game would consist of your players sitting in their own habitable environments, talking to each other on video screens.  In a REALLY realistic game, they'd probably spend more time troubleshooting communication glitches between two completely alien computer systems just to TALK to one another than they'd spend doing anything actually interesting.  (Even saying THAT much is assuming we hand-wave the technicalities of translating languages you can't physically speak.  Either you have a techno-magic computer that always perfectly translates every language in existence, or your player character is a genius who can comprehend and mentally track a single conversation being conducted across 6 or 7 different languages.)

 

This is why suspension of disbelief, on the part of the audience, is such an important part of any story.  If you refuse to just accept at least a few obviously ridiculous things, you'll never get the story off the ground.

Edited by Steve-O
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Credit where credit's due, Steve-O. It was Forgottenlore who pointed out the perennial problems of space-opera, not me. We just happen to have the same avatar.

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Hmmm yes. Fact aside we all seem to agree on these problems;

I rather meant that TI somehow lacks detail on these race-internal-power systems; we know the Xxcha is a kingdom and other rought information about the political system of other races. But entirely making stuff up is somewhat hard.

And going into some of the Lore brings up even more problems such as: some of the planets are home to races that are not part of the main-game races. Flora and Fauna would have to be made from scratch for almost all planets. For a non-interactive setting such as videogames, movies or books this is not as much of a problem and more information only densens the atmosphere. But imagine this simple question: "I ask the native what kind of hostile animal or poisonous plants there might be"....and then the master sucks his fingers trying to make stuff up on the fly. this works out for a few hours....but at some point your brain will just dry out.

 

What im trying to say: everytime you would play this the master would make the setting his or her own....in basicly every department. There just is not enough lore and trivia in existence to support the entire universe of TI with decent information. although I must say that some of the planets and system are flatout not really thrilling places to play adventures on

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Credit where credit's due, Steve-O. It was Forgottenlore who pointed out the perennial problems of space-opera, not me. We just happen to have the same avatar.

 

Blast!  Forum Avatars, you have failed me for the last time!

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Flora and Fauna would have to be made from scratch for almost all planets. Imagine this simple question: "I ask the native what kind of hostile animal or poisonous plants there might be"....and then the master sucks his fingers trying to make stuff up on the fly. this works out for a few hours....but at some point your brain will just dry out.

There are a couple of ways around this conundrum, assuming that simple improvisation is not an acceptable answer:

1) assuming you play once a week, the GM can come up with 5 or 10 "generic" ideas for such things in between sessions, and draw on those (modifying as necessary for planet details) during game. Only come up with as many answers as you're likely to need for the next session.

2) random charts. 80's RPG systems had these for a reason :P

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yeah....A friend of mine, who happens to have deep knowledge of shadowrun, and I ( i play the dark eye a lot) started to rough out some basic things abou this and read as deep into the lore as the game itself provides (searching the internet later). If you look out for the details the game actually provides a lot of information to base rough localization and relationships between the races on. such as that the Xxcha do like to smoke that root (i forgot the name) as stated on their sheet and that the hacan have on theirs that the foundation for their trade empire was selling this root(probably primary to the xxcha).

Information to maybe base locations on are things like:

- Hope´s end is one of the most distant planets from mecatol and yet rather close to Moll primus.

- On the other end of the Passage of tears lies the home system of the Yssaril.

- It is pretty likely that the Letnev, Sol and Xxcha are compareable close to each other or at last close to Quaan or another Beta Wormhole as the Letnev and the Humans had a major conflict about Quaan and the Xxcha were apparently close enought to take part of the beating.

- Lisis, the original home system of the Saar, was ravaged by the Sardakk n´or. It would make sense if they were somewhat close to each other.

- Darien van Haugh, the "father" of all Yin fled Jord (so the yin are in fact Humans that are just vulnerable to a certain disease that disfigures them) so Darien (the Planet) is probably a bit farther away from Jord as the humans were hunting him van Haugh.

 

the list is long. everything here if obviously speculative but it would make sense in my opinion. And since we probably won´t get a detailed Galaxy map with all locations and Planets it is most likely a good way to put at least some cornerstones down and let the GM do the rest like he wants.

Edited by Wonoz

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That would be great, maybe set some "Canon" stories that are derived directly from resources available, then set out the lore that is implied or left blank for the GM.

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I could totally get behind a TI:RPG. It could be set in either at the end of the Lazax reign or during the current time frame. Either would be a great choice of timeline setting.

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I would like if it was a "Firefly" type setting, where you're manning a specific ship that you can keep upgrading, and you are just in the middle of all the wars between the other races.  So you have missions to accomplish, diplomatic tensions to ease, and also just the survival of your crew!

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Yeah, during the Age of Dark(?), where all the races are fighting each other and the Lazax have already fallen, there is a lot of different stories that a GM could tell.

The real key for a Twilight Imperium RPG, will be to decide upon a proper system for character creation and conflict resolutions. Whether you choose to model it based upon a current system, (eg, D20, The Warhammer 40k series, or something else.) Or even if you decide to create your own system from scratch.

The keys of any great RPG, is having a system that is intuitive for character creation. It should be a system flexible to allow the players to attempt anything that they can concoct up. As well as being a system that is consistent in reguards to resolving the characters actions. These are the things that make up a great RPG.

Off of the top of my head, I would suggest using Only War as a good starting system to use for TI:RPG. I recommend that one because it is geared for Human (ie, the Sol Federation.) It would be a good system to start with for the race we are all most familiar with. Then, once you get your base system down, you can then proceed to adapt it for all of the other races of Twilight Imperium.

Edited by SYKOJAK

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