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Space Opera Basic Information
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Space Opera (role-playing game) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search This article is about the game. For other uses, see Space Opera (disambiguation). Space Opera Cover of Space Opera Volume 1 manual Designer Edward E. Simbalist, A. Mark Ratner, Phil McGregor Publisher Fantasy Games Unlimited Publication date 1980 Genre(s) Space opera System Custom Space Opera is a science-fiction role-playing game created by Edward E. Simbalist, A. Mark Ratner, and Phil McGregor in 1980 for Fantasy Games Unlimited . While the system is applicable to the whole genre of science fiction the focus is on creating space opera themed adventures. Space Opera resolved to give gamers a system and universe which they could mold into any popular science fiction milieu, be it Star Wars, E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman, Larry Niven’s Known Space, Frank Herbert’s “Dune”, Battlestar Galactica, Galactica 1980, etc.
Though it gained a dedicated following, the game never achieved the popularity enjoyed by Traveller. Like Traveller, Space Opera had a default setting, though also like Traveller it was also intended to be used as generic science fiction role-playing game rules. As well, it would be a “complete” system. With the basic rules one got most everything one would need: character construction, aliens, monsters, combat, starship construction, and world creation.
Contents [hide] 1 Development 2 Character Creation 3 Races 4 Official Universe 5 Combat 6 Books 7 Technology 8 Reprints 9 References 10 External links
 Development According to the Scott Bizar, the founder of FGU, “I wanted a SFrpg and I gave the job to Ed Simbalist. During the process I’ve never met Ed, nor Phil McGreggor and Mark Ratner, who lived in the Canadian west, Australia and the east of the USA, respectively. The project was completed over more than two years entirely by correspondence.” Ed was responsible for all the editing and coordination.  Phil McGregor sent some technology and space ship related stuff, which Ed liked so much that he incorporated it in the finished product. While the background universe was based on Mark Ratner’s Space Marines, Mark had little input into Space Opera itself.
 Character Creation Character creation is a long process in Space Opera, typically taking an hour or more. While the number of random rolls is limited, the player has wide discretion in how points are applied and many choices especially when it comes to skills. This was a significant break from the tradition in earlier role-playing games such as D&D and Traveller, where there was more emphasis on “throw-away” characters.
Players choose from the following Character Classes; Armsman, Tech, Research Scientist, Medical Scientist, Engineer Scientist, and Astronaut. The classes are especially important for where bonuses can be applied to Personal Characteristics and later ease (cost) to acquire skills.
Space Opera characters are supposed to be larger-than-life. As such their Personal Characteristics average out higher than the “common man”. For each of the 14 Personal Characteristics a d100 is rolled. These are Physique, Strength, Constitution, Agility, Dexterity, Empathy, Intelligence, Psionics, Intuition, Bravery, Leadership, GTA, MechA, ElecA. Depending on the Character Class chosen, bonus points can be applied to these rolls. The final number is compared against a table resulting in a number between 1 and 19 for the Personal Characteristic. Characteristic Rolls (CRs) are then made on a d20 during play.
Planet of Birth is made up of three rolls for Gravity, Atmosphere, and Climate. This could have effects on the Personal Characteristics, and some on the choice of race.
Races could be Human, Humanoid, Transhuman, Pithecine, Canine, Feline, Ursoid, Avian, and Warm-blooded Saurian for player characters. The races are general and don’t necessarily bind to a particular star culture.
A variety of other capabilities, such as Carrying Capacity, Damage Factor, and Stamina, based on Personal Characteristics help to further define the character.
The Career path, is very similar to Traveller’s with the main exception being that there was no risk of death prior to the start of play. The character goes through the recruitment process, participates for a random number of tours-of-duty, has opportunities for promotion, and then finally musters out.
Finally the player calculates the generous number of skill points available and goes through the process of picking skills. The rich assortment of choices often makes this the most time-consuming part of creating the character.
 Races In Space Opera races are treated very generally. Instead of assigning a unique name to a particular specific race, the races were named as their general, anthropomorphic stock. This allowed any race seen in fiction before or since to be simulated.
Humanoids: These include current Earth homo sapiens as well as well-known Science Fiction races. Example: Fremen Transhumans: Any kind of humanoid race which has achieved a greater level of evolution. Example: Vulcan Pithecine: Anthropomorphic primate races resembling monkeys, gorillas and the like. Example: Planet of the Apes Canine: Anthropomorphic canine races. Feline: Anthropomorphic felines come in two general strains: Mekpurr, the smaller and more technically adept and Avatar, larger, hunting cat varieties. Example: Kzinti Ursoids: Anthropomorphic bear races. Example: Wookie Avian: Anthropomorphic bird races. Saurian: Anthropomorphic reptilian races. Example: Gorn Irsol: Low gravity, fragile humanoids which have been raised on space stations or other orbital installations. They are treated as the librarians of the universe.
 Official Universe While the Space Opera rules can be adapted to any imagined universe, the official universe was based on the nations described in Mark Ratner’s Space Marines, and further defined through a series of Star Sector Atlases.
Star Culture United Federation of Planets (UFP) Mercantile League Azuriach Imperium “Azzis” Galactic Peoples Republic (G.P.R.) United Ranan Worlds “Ranan Horde” Rauwoof Worlds MekPurr StarKingdom of the Blarad IRSOL Whistlers Hissss’ist Bugs Klackons Confederate Systems Alliance Korellian Empire
 Combat Combat was generally a four step process. One first determines if a character scores a hit with his chosen weapon. Things like range, size of the target, movement, and amount of cover come into play. If one scores a hit, then one rolls to determine hit location. After hit location, one then determines if the attack penetrated the armor. Finally, damage is determined.
 Books Title Type Year Space Marines related wargame 1979 Space Opera core rules (2 books) 1980 Ground & Air Equipment supplement 1981 Seldon’s Compendium of Star Craft 1 – Ship’s Boats, Traders, Liners and Patrol Vessels supplement 1981 Seldon’s Compendium of Star Craft 2 – Starships of War Azuriach, GPR, Mercantile League and Terran supplement 1984 Seldon’s Compendium of Star Craft 3 – Starships of War Blarad, Mekpurr, Ranan and Hissss’ist supplement 1988 The Outworlds supplement 1981 Star Sector Atlas 1 – The Terran Sector supplement 1981 Star Sector Atlas 2 – The Mercantile League supplement 1983 Star Sector Atlas 3 – The Azuriach Imperium supplement 1984 Star Sector Atlas 5 – The United Ranan Worlds supplement 1985 Star Sector Atlas 11 – The Confederate Systems Alliance supplement 1982 Star Sector Atlas 12 – Korellian Empire supplement 1984 Alien Base module 1980 Martigan Belt – An Adventure in the Asteroids module 1981 Probe NGC 8436 module 1981 Fasolt in Peril – An Anti-Terrorist Adventure module 1982 Rowison II – A Merchant Service Adventure module 1982 Vault of the Ni’er Queyon module 1982 Incedus III module 1982 Agents of Rebellion module 1983 Casino Galactica – Adventure Setting and Scenarios module 1983 Operation Peregrine – The Quanchiovt Conspiracy module 1983
Clash of Empires supplement not published Star Sector Atlas 4 – The GPR supplement not published Star Sector Atlas 6 – The Hiss’isst supplement not published Seldon’s Compendium of Star Craft 4 supplement not published
The Space Opera core game consisted of two volumes and four double-sided 8×11” cards, in a box. Although there were three different box covers4 probably corresponding to three printings, the contents remained the same.
 Technology The technology of Space Opera follows the grand tradition of its name. Notably missing are the influences of cyberpunk, mechs, and nanotechnology, which all came later than the publication of the game. Computers were based on a monolithic, mainframe-style that seemed a bit dated even in 1980.
 Reprints Some components of Space Opera are in print again after a long absence and are available via FGU’s online store and the RPG download sites DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.
The rights to the game are jointly held by the authors and Fantasy Games Unlimited, whereas the rights to the title were probably held by FGU solely. The rights to the game were to revert to the authors if the company went out of business. Despite going into dormant periods operating as a company in name only, FGU is still in operation. Ed Simbalist sought to buy the rights from the publisher Scott Bizar, however Bizar’s asking price was judged too high.
From a December 2000 interview with Ed Simbalist: “I won’t write another version of Space Opera. Scott Bizar owns that property, hasn’t done anything much to promote it, hasn’t paid royalties that offer any hope that an author will be compensated for his considerable effort, and won’t release it back to the authors. I know of the many persona[l] reverses he’s experienced, and I doubt that FGU would ever become a viable publishing company in the future. Any revision work on my part would be a waste of time. Similarly, the expense of legally recovering the right to publish Space Opera isn’t worth it. Apart from a highly inflated value placed by FGU on the game (actually on the NAME), why would I wish to purchase several thousand copies of a recent reprint that just won’t sell in the current market? It makes no sense.”  Reportedly the asking price was $100,000, though the authors felt it was only worth $10,000.