Need a recommendation for a slightly gonzo SF campaign

Hello friends! My group is in need of a new system and I would love any recommendations y’all have.

We have been playing an FFG Star Wars campaign that over the years has gone from pretty standard Star Wars to increasingly gonzo. The PCs have long outgrown the character archetypes enforced by the system and the whole group is ready for something new.

We are all fans of Danger Patrol and Scum and Villainy, so I figured folks around here would have some good opinions. Scum and Villainy would be an obvious choice except that our players don’t map well to the playbooks there. For context, our group includes…

  • A rogue scientist who heads up his own research division and has other scientists at his beck and call
  • A fading cinema celebrity, sort of “what if Bob Hope had worked for the Empire”
  • A former Bothan spy turned Bounty Hunter (our only combat-focused character who is usually busy saving everyone when things get rough)
  • A “tour guide” droid who is millenia old (and whose player often uses that historical context to introduce new facts into play)
  • A wrestling-star turned Jedi-ish person, basically if John Cena had magic powers (replete with a vocal fanbase)

The scientist, tour guide, and the force user’s notoriety don’t map well to the playbooks of S&V or FFG Star Wars. We find ourselves having to improvise a lot of mechanics for these characters. I would love to find a system that either better supports these characters or puts everyone on a level playing field.

Our adventures run the gamut and are generally 60% planned, 40% improvised. As you can probably guess from the player descriptions, the tone is generally pretty lighthearted, just shy of playing for laughs. We have been playing these characters for about 2 years so a system designed for playing the same characters over 20 - 40 sessions would be great.

Any recommendations on systems we should look at? In lieu of a better option, I will probably default to something generic and narrative-ish like FATE.

Thanks in advance and hope you are all having a great new year.


Bulldogs! is a fun gonzo sci-fi Fate build.

I was going to suggest Fate, but Firefly may also be worth a look. You would have to do a bit of work designing distinctions for the characters (in Firefly they’re roughly equivalent to a Fate aspect with a couple of stunts attached to it, and there is advice on how to make your own) and ships, though I’m reasonably sure someone somewhere has done the latter already. It’s Cortex Plus which is similar in complexity level and general attitude to Fate.

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You are welcome to try Star Tropes, which is my PBTA sci-fi serial game. It plays like a TV series.

The playbooks are modular so you can take any archetype and give it two different specialities. There are good playbooks for budding Jedi, grizzled soldiers, underhanded charmers, showboating hotshots, and the like. There is also a separate list of alien and droid moves that can be bolted onto any character.

Shoot me a PM if you want the playtest packet.


Oooh, didn’t know the Firefly RPG was a Cortex game or I would have paid more attention when it was a thing since I loved Leverage to pieces. Looks like it’s OOP and increasingly hard to find unless I’m missing something.

I can’t wait for the Cortex Plus Kickstarter to wrap. “Make a Star Wars Cortex hack” is definitely on my todo list for whenever that happens

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I would take a look at Fate, where slightly gonzo is its sweet spot. Bulldogs! Is a good instantiation of Fate for those purposes–I’ve run lot of two-hour Bulldogs con games over the past year, and gotten a lot of gonzo mileage out of “Okay, we’re in port, Cap’n says deliver the cargo and get a new one so we can get out of here. What do you do?” It would probably also be worth looking at the Fate Space Toolkit, which admittedly I had a hand in.


Yeah, I’m also looking forward to Cortex Prime finishing up. It’s been a while since the last update but from what I recall it’s coming along nicely.

I guess they lost the license to Firefly, as things tend to go with these things.