Unlike fantasy RPGs, sci-fi RPGs are something I’ve done more of, and also something of a interesting point because of where you put the border of sci-fi.
Demon Hunters: A Comedy of Terrors or Conspiracy X could be classed as sci-fi because they uses advanced fictional technology, but I’d be hesitant to class them as such because they’re based in the modern era and I associate sci-fi with being out in space which isn’t anywhere near being a requirement for good science fiction.
In a more comfortable definition of sci-fi, I still have room for favourites. My first RPG (and still somewhat of a favourite) was Star Wars (West End Games) or at least was based on it. As part of the Imperial Order, I gathered a group of friends online all across the world and roleplayed with them on a nightly basis. Those rules were a little ridiculous, but that factor probably arose from no one going “what if someone put all of these factors together” or not thinking about difficulty scaling. For reference, I had around 13 d6 to roll for starfighter piloting in my TIE Defender, with a result of 20 being a “heroic” feat that could achieve just about anything – my average roll was in the 30s.
The Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying games by Fantasy Flight Games are favourites as well. Between Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Deathwatch, and Black Crusade, I’ve had a lot of fun playing and running those games – you can do some ridiculous stuff when you get to max level Ascension…
I also love the look of the Serenity roleplaying game, though I would have to get a second copy to roleplay with as the copy that’s been signed by 7 of the main cast isn’t going anywhere near a gaming table full of snacks.
So there you have it – some of my favourite sci-fi games without even a brief jaunt into the world of LARP for a change.