Today I want to talk about the three genres of adventure in space and compare them for the purposes of tabletop play. These are science fiction, which can itself be split into hard and soft forms; science fantasy, which the best known example of is Star Wars; and space opera, which regards science as a thing it used as a vague starting point before blending it with the kind of over-the-top antics you might expect from a pulp adventure novel.
Paizo has announced a new game line, based off their Pathfinder properties – a science fantasy line they’ve dubbed Starfinder. For those of us who backed the Aethera setting on Kickstarter, this came with the news that the people working on it will apparently be involved with Starfinder as well, although so far we’ve been promised that the new product line won’t interfere with the Kickstarted products. So today I’ll look at what I have knowledge of, and indulge in a bit of speculation.
Often, in most forms of entertainment, there’s a tendency to take one opponent and set them up as the Big Bad for an arc, only to escalate things. As you take out what you thought was your foe, it turns out they were subordinates to a bigger menace, leaving you with a new foe. It continues until the campaign culmination, with a battle against something that would have trounced everyone at the beginning of the story. Rarely, however, the Big Bad is known from the start, and it brings about a different kind of game. Today, I’m going to compare the two.
Location: 4200 ly antispinward and coreward of Sol
Gravity: Negligible at Gate
Atmosphere: Negligible at Gate
Body Type: Young super-Earth
Location: 6600 ly spinward of Sol
Atmosphere: Nitrogen/carbon dioxide
Body Type: Scorching super-Earth
Name: PXC-907 (Tidelock)
Location: 1800 ly antispinward/rimward of Sol
Atmosphere: Nitrogen-oxygen mix
Body Type: Tidally locked terrestrial planets
Name: Europa Nova
Location: Unknown; dense stellar cluster presumed to be in the local arm of the Milky Way
Atmosphere: Highly saline water
Body Type: Ice-crusted oceanic moon