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Tabletop Game / Buck Rogers XXVC

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TSR's fourth Sci-Fi RPG, after Metamorphosis Alpha, Gamma World, and Star Frontiers. It was based on Buck Rogers, and used a variant of the second edition rules of TSR's own Dungeons & Dragons. It was first published in 1990, with a number of tie-in novels, video games, and board games, and lasted until about 1993.

The game took what was perhaps a surprising hard sci-fi approach, given the original source material. The setting was limited to the solar system, there were no aliens, and the technology described was much less extreme than what is seen in many other incarnations of the character. It was effectively a retelling of the Buck Rogers universe, with some of the same characters and basic ideas, but it was not a direct sequel to any prior stories.

Compare Rocket Age, for a similar Raygun Gothic-style RPG.

In 1993 the game line ended with the production of the High Adventure Cliffhangers Buck Rogers Adventure Game, which did tie back in to the comics continuity and ignored the XXVC universe.

An unofficial remake has been released: Overlords Of Dimension-25. During a particle accelerator experiment at the local physics lab, the rural area of Rogers County, Pennsylvania is suddenly teleported to an alternate version of the solar system that more closely resembles scifi of the 30's and 40's. The tech is only slightly more pulpy, but the main elements are the same.

This game contains examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: Also Buck. He was a top air-force pilot in the 20th century, and his skills seem to have transferred rather well to the 25th.
  • Action Girl: Wilma Deering, who has been fighting against RAM her whole adult life and is something of a Tom Boy.
  • Absent Aliens: Venusians, Martians, and other weird Humanoid Aliens in the setting are actually genetically engineered Human Subspecies.
  • After the End: The "Last Gasp" nuclear war of 1999 destroyed all the familiar civilizations of the 20th century.
  • Betty and Veronica: Buck has this choice, with Wilma Deering as "Betty" and Ardala Valmar as "Veronica". Wilma has her own love triangle with Buck as "Betty" and Killer Kane as "Veronica".
  • Cool Starship: The basic set included cards showing various ships from the 'verse. Black Barney's Free Enterprise is probably the coolest, as it is heavily armed and armored, and even has a Cloaking Device.
  • Cut Short: The line only lasted a scant few years, and the supplement books remain sorely lacking. Most notably the location sourcebooks only covered the inner Solar System up the the Asteroid Belt in detail, even though there are mentions that the outer planets also have their own things going on.
  • Femme Fatale: Ardala Valmar, who is a rich RAM information broker obsessed with Buck.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Buck Rogers himself is one of these in the 25th century, but he proves pivotal to NEO winning its independence from RAM.
  • Human Popsicle: Buck Rogers spent four centuries and change as one of these in deep space.
  • Mercurial Base: Cities on the surface of Mercury, naturally.
  • Pocket Rocket Launcher: Miniature rocket launchers (pistol and rifle sized) are a standard weapon type of the 25th Century, using "smart shells" that make them capable of things like shooting around corners (the description of the weapon is similar to a gyrojet weapon with target-seeking ammo; an evolution of the rocket guns from the book and newspaper comic strip). The problem then becomes that personal electronic spoofing devices that play havoc with the smart shells' sensors are also a standard method of protection, which means that Buck's old-school .45 revolver is a very awesome weapon because it cannot be electronically spoofed, with its only drawback being that it's hard to obtain ammunition for it.
  • Recycled In Space: The rules system is pretty much AD&D 2nd Edition - IN SPACE!
  • Retro Rocket: Spaceship designs have fins and curves and typically land upright on their aft section, for example in space port berths depicted on maps.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Buck's 20th-century Colt .45 revolver is unique in the 25th century, and is immune to the sorts of electronic defenses commonly used against the "smart shells" used by rocket pistols. On the down side, he doesn't have much ammo for it.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: Buck Rogers missed the Last Gasp nuclear war, and the intervening four centuries during which the Earth rebuilt and colonized the solar system.
  • Space Battle: The basic rules included the space battle system, counters, and a map to fight on.
  • Space Fighter: The F-66 Starfire on the side of the NEO, and RAM has the much more advanced X-23A Krait stealth fighter.
  • Space Pirate: Black Barney, for one, but there are actually quite a few in the setting.
  • The Empire: RAM "Russo-American Mercantile", which dominates the solar system from Mars and against whom Buck Rogers and NEO - the "New Earth Order" fight.
  • 2-D Space: The maps are all flat. Of course, the map of the solar system would be mostly flat anyway.
  • Virtual Ghost: There are several, including Doctor Huer - copied after Buck's friend from the 20th century, and Simund Holzerhein - a copy of the businessman who turned RAM into The Empire a hundred years ago.