Sunday, September 20, 2020

Buck Rogers XX5e

I've recently been looking at 1990s Buck Rogers XXVc rpg from TSR. It's a not unclever update on the original Buck Rogers comic strip, which started as post-apocalyptic science fiction story but transformed over the original comic strip into a more pulpy space yarn. It keeps both of those elements, but weds them to a elements of hardish sci-fi, post-cyberpunk. 

Earth is mostly devastated and under the thumb of RAM (Russo-American Mercantile), a megacorporation that rules Mars. Several planets have been partially terraformed, and humans have been genetically engineered to live on them. Plus there are gennies, artificial transgenic organisms developed to help in the colonization of the solar system. 

The system the game used was a 2e derivative, which means it would probably be relatively easy to adapt to 5e. Not that any version of D&D is ideal for science fiction gaming, in my opinion, but hey, it's there so it's good for a blogpost or two.


Dick McGee said...

Decent rules set for "modern" (by 90s standards) space opera with a lingering pulp feel, with a fairly interesting setting. I liked the decision to stick to just the solar system and the deliberate (and kind of monstrous) decision to adapt humanity to its new environments more than the other way around. TSR leaned hard into this one for a few years, lots of supplements, a few novels, and a comic book series.

Also way, way less uncomfortable to talk about than the later Buck RPG they did that stuck closer to the original novel, which was chock full of Yellow Peril tropes.

Trey said...

The CLiffhangers game was more based on the comic strip than the original novellas that inspired it, but yes, it does contain an unfortunate number of Yellow Peril tropes (though less than the original novellas, even still!). High Adventure Cliffhangers is a nice ruleset though, absent those setting considerations.

Charles said...

regarding the genetic engineering, I'm reminded of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, which was set in an alternate Marvel universe a few centuries after the apocalyptic War of the Worlds/Killraven stories. There were aliens and interstellar travel, but humans seemed to focus on colonizing the solar system with terraforming and genetic engineering. I'm not sure if this was just an excuse for a team of "normal" humans to have superpowers relative to Earth conditions, or if it was also tapping into some other sci-fi trend of the time.

Tom said...

I keep forgetting that there were two TSR Buck Rogers games. Any idea why they did two different ones? Did one replace the other or did they live alongside each other?

Trey said...

The Buck Rogers High Adventure Cliffhangers Game followed Buck Rogers XXVc. I suspect that XXVc didn't sell well, so they decided to go at the property a different way.