First - some cool sci-fi art harvested from the digital tides.
This one makes me think Traveler, but very '70s slick sci-fi. From the Syd Mead Gallery.
These images are more Encounter Critical to my mind - the kind of game I'm probably way more likely to play than Traveler. To be completely honest, though, I've never played either game. I've rolled up characters, but never had the chance to play. Found at (like the image above) Super Punch!
So, I was perusing a blog that asked why sci-fi RPGs never hit it as big as fantasy RPGs. My take was that D-n-D ('cause when you're talking about uber-successful fantasy rpg's, you're talking about D-n-D) was successful because it borrowed things from the fantasy genre without trying to emulate fantasy stories. Instead, it was a wargame set in a dungeon. That kind of game is easier to run than story emulation, and therefore it was more popular. So - my question - would a sci-fi game that attempts to be nothing more than, for example, "save the space princess from the starlord's fortress" work. I think my next project that I promised I wouldn't write was just born. And I think I'll call it Space Princess.
Hmmm - Star Warrior, Scoundrel, Scientist and Psychic ... this could be fun.
Update: Jay reminds me of X-plorers. I need to look into that game.
Update 2: In the meantime, I'm thinking about the concept of sci-fi heroes delving into star fortress, and here's where my mind is wandering:
Four ability scores - Strength (bonus to hit, bonus to hit points), Dexterity (bonus to hit, bonus to defense), Mentality (for psychics) and Knowledge (for scientists) - simple bonuses and used for saving throws (maybe score x3 as a percent + 5% per character level?)
Four classes - As above; I've already written a scientist and psychic class that I could adapt, and the star warrior and scoundrel should be pretty easy as well.
Races - Human, Android, Alien - the alien rules would be a "build your own alien" concept - probably would resemble d20 race builds more than anything else. They would probably have a level limit and be able to take levels as star warrior or a multi-class based on whatever ability score they get a bonus to.
Scoundrel skills - Disguise, Defeat Security System, Hide Contraband, Avoid Notice, Fast Talk, Pilot Ship - percentage skills like a thief, except you get six columns with percentage changes and assign the skills yourself; maybe Star Warriors can choose a skill as well?
Would rules that assign levels to players by dice roll - a'la Young Hero (Luke), Experienced Heroes (Han and Chewie), Old Hero (Obi-Wan) - be any good? Maybe a fun option. Also - maybe just five levels with slow advancement in the middle.
Need rules for the space battle when you've escaped the space fortress and the minions are chasing you.
I don't know if I'll go any further, but it's fun to think about.