Which PbtA or FitD games are recommended for science-fiction settings? In part, it depends on which genre you are trying to emulate. The following are each unlicensed settings in similar genres. To boldly go where your favorite science fiction has gone before:

  • If you want 1980s cinematic science fiction, like V, Gremlins, Goonies, Terminator, The Thing, or Red Dawn, try Invasion of the Third Kind.
  • If you want 5th Element or Warhammer 40K inspired space opera, try Uncharted Worlds.
  • If you want Alien/Aliens, try The Regiment: Colonial Marines [PDF]. (H/T Bytor_Snowdog.) 
  • If you want Asimov’s Galactic Empire series, try Numberless Worlds.
  • If you want Battlestar Galactica, try Last Fleet. (H/T @Quietwraith on the PbtA Discord.) 
  • If you want Fallout, try Legacy: Life Among the Ruins. (H/T @chekhovsgunman on DW+ Discord.)
  • If you want Farscape or Mass Effect, try Impulse Drive. (H/T @Henry on DW+ Discord.)
  • If you want Firefly, Farscape, or Star Trek but focused on the trust between the crew, try Starscape. (H/T Kimi on Golden Lasso Games Discord.)
  • If you want Firefly, try Offworlders.
  • If you want Flash Gordon, try Space Wurm vs. Moonicorn. (H/T @chekhovsgunman on DW+ Discord.)
  • If you want Futurama or Star Trek: Lower Decks, try Space Aces: TNG (The New Guidebook).
  • If you want Gundam or other mecha anime, check out Beam Saber. (H/T @Henry on DW+ Discord and @Quietwraith on the PbtA Discord.)
  • If you want The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, try Farflung. (H/T @rythter.)
  • If you want John Carter of Mars, or other sword and planet, try Adventures on Dungeon Planet.
  • If you want Jupiter Ascending or Revolutionary Girl Utena campy LGBT+ space romance, try Thirsty Sword Lesbians.
  • If you want Jurassic Park or Land of the Lost, try Escape From Dino Island. (H/T @chekhovsgunman on DW+ Discord.)
  • If you want Mad Max or another post-apocalyptic setting, try Apocalypse World (duh!). (H/T @rythter.)
  • If you want Neuromancer or other cyberpunk, try Sixth World, The Sprawl or The Veil.
  • If you want an Overwatch style “mix of near-modern lite sci-fi with some anime sprinkled on top”, try Atma. (H/T Kevin Bishop.)
  • If you want Star Wars with the serial numbers filed off, try Scum & Villainy. If you want a fan-made Star Wars RPG, check out Light Side.
  • If you want X-Files, try Monster of the Week. (H/T @chekhovsgunman on DW+ Discord.)
  • If you want “the quest-driven stories of The Mandalorian, the lived-in aesthetic and fantasy-infused trappings of the original Star Wars trilogy, the workaday exploits of Firefly, the isolated horror of Alien, the mysticism and faction politics of Dune, the retro-tech and desperation of Battlestar Galactica’s modern reboot, the cosmic mysteries and class struggles of The Expanse, and the gonzo adventures and fantastic locations of Guardians of the Galaxy,” try Starforged.
  • If you want 30s pulp sci-fi style planetary exploration and primitive meets high-tech, try the DW hack The Continent Adrift.
  • If you want Star Trek “planet of the week” adventures, I’m not sure what you should try!

And a few fantasy titles:

Comments and suggestions welcome here!

Originally published 2022-06. Updated 2023-05. Added Atma, The Continent Adrift, Invasion of the Third Kind, Light Side, Sixth World, Thirsty Sword Lesbians and changed the description of Uncharted Worlds. Updated 2022-08-23. Added Starforged’s own list of inspiration.

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash.