Against my better judgment I decided to pick up Mongoose Publishing's 2nd edition of the Traveller science fiction tabletop RPG.
It's interesting to see how it's evolution is so different from D&D despite their both coming about in the 70s. Just from the mechanics it's easy to tell the differences in what was important to the creators of these games.
At the moment I'm most enamored with the lack of mechanical character growth in Traveller. I think this is cool for a few reasons:
* Levels are fake anyway. Supposedly the encounters are supposed to scale but you often reach a tipping point in D&D-likes where it becomes much harder for characters to be challenged.
* The game can be more deadly for PCs since you can have a narratively satisfying demise without an associated loss of mechanical investment.
I absolutely love Traveller's FTL system. No matter how far you jump, whether one parsec or six, it takes a week. Then you still have to slowboat to port to refuel, which might take another. Information is only as fast as the ships that carry it.
This means that information must depend on a decentralized infrastructure. I imagine the delayed posting and forwarding of usenet, and maybe a mail delivery system leveraging volunteer couriers and public key cryptogry.
Elaborating more on "if you're human", lionfolk and wolffolk are among the game's core playable species...