Have Unique Adventures in a Starfield setting with these TTRPGs

Starfield setting Tabletop RPG Space Western Akila Freehold scum and villainy Traveller

What tabletop RPGs can players use to have adventures in a sci-fi, space western, NASApunk, Starfield setting?

The entire internet is waiting in anticipation for the release of Starfield on September 6th (or August 31st for those who preorder the premium edition). The game has been labeled as a space-based, “NASApunk” open-world RPG by its developer, Bethesda game studios, which boasts triple-A game franchises like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, and is sure to add another hit to their list. Gamers are awaiting to dive into the breadth of the new mechanics, brutal combat, stunning visuals, and the 1,000 procedurally generated worlds within the game. As discussed in our previous article in this series, there is no official Starfield tabletop RPG. Therefore, here are two more systems with which you can have space-faring adventures with your friends in a Starfield setting. These next two entries are tonally very similar to Starfield, and are as close as you can get to a Starfield tabletop RPG at home (the last of which actually inspired Starfield).

Scum and Villainy

Scum and Villainy Core Rulebook Space Western Tabletop RPG Starfield

Scum and Villainy is an immersive tabletop role-playing game that invites players to step into the shoes of ragtag crews of outlaws and misfits in a gritty and lawless galaxy. Drawing inspiration from the acclaimed Blades in the Dark system (which we’ve mentioned before), Scum and Villainy places a strong emphasis on heists and criminal enterprises, allowing players to engage in daring missions and navigate the treacherous world of illicit activities in space. Through Scum and Villainy, players will be able to experience adventures similar to what likely awaits us in the Freestar Collective in Starfield, as this TTRPG is dripping with influence from Firefly, Cowboy Bebop, and other space westerns. 

Starfield Akila City Firefly Space Western setting
Firefly’s… I mean Starfield’s Akila City in Freestar Space. Pretty much what you’ll find in Scum and Villainy.


The setting of Scum and Villainy is a dangerous and corrupt galaxy teeming with rival factions, crime syndicates, and powerful corporations far from the reaches of the centralized government power, the Hegemony. Similar to Star Wars: Edge of the Empire but without the Disney-owned branding, the gameplay of the players is first based around what the player is trying to do in the narrative, and consequences fall from that. The game captures the essence of a space opera, allowing players to immerse themselves in a richly detailed universe where their actions and choices shape the unfolding story. 

Mechanics and Gameplay

Scum and Villainy has plenty of fun features in the gameplay mechanics. When adventurers are, say, executing a dangerous heist or assaulting a government outpost, and things get hairy, a player can have an Oceans 11-style flashback in the midst of the action that can turn an expected outcome on it’s head due to the character’s “careful planning,” which the player creates on the spot to get the desired result. Another is the gambit system, which allows the crew to share extra dice for rolls in times of need. The mechanics are very simple and narrative-centric, overly so to some players, but to others it will help them dive quickly into the action.

The game has interesting character customization options where players who are familiar with science fiction archetypes will immediately feel at home. Players have the freedom to choose from Mechanic, Muscle, Mystic, Pilot, Scoundrel, Speaker, and Stitch. All these being exactly what they sound like: classic sci-fi character tropes. The character gains experience when they “stay in their lane” within the crew. Therefore, players are rewarded when their characters act in a way befitting their stereotype in their various criminal pursuits. The game provides a wide range of options to suit different playstyles. Each class feels distinct and has interesting special abilities that contribute to the overall success of the crew’s endeavors.


Overall, Scum and Villainy has a low bar for entry and a fun setting, which is a great for beginners looking to play a Starfield Tabletop RPG. It will help you scratch your space western itch when you’re outside of Starfield’s Freestar Collective. The mechanics are fun and improve on the Blades RPG system in a lighter setting. The campaigns tend to be episodic in length, so this is a great game to pick up and play for 5-10 sessions with a group of friends.

What you need to start playing:


Traveller Core Rulebook Starfield setting inspired RPG tabletop space western sci-fi

Traveller is likely the tabletop RPG most akin to the NASApunk Starfield experience players are awaiting. It places a strong emphasis on realism and immersive world-building. Traveller was developed by Marc W. Miller and first published in 1977 (though having been updated many times since), Traveller has stood the test of time. It’s nearly as old as D&D’s first edition, and it offers players a sandbox-style gameplay that prioritizes freedom and exploration. Traveller has many aspects of its mechanics which have significantly influenced or been downright incorporated into Starfield.


The game boasts a detailed world with a rich history and lore, and plenty of detailed resources for players. Straightaway, players will notice the tone is along the lines of the hard sci-fi Expanse series, with elements of Firefly sprinkled in. The atmosphere and mechanics make it perfectly fitting for an RPG in a Starfield setting. The standout aspect of Traveller is the incredible systems players can use to create their own universe and adventures. Though Traveller has campaigns players can start with, the sandbox gameplay allows players to have a variety of experiences.

The rulebook gives the GM (or “Referee” as they’re called in Traveller) tools for creating almost anything on the fly. Each of these tools give an extensive framework for creating worlds that fit the realistic sci-fi theme of the game. Players can land on random planets, which after some dice rolls, will have their own culture, government, and technology level. There’s further systems based on those customizations for unique scenarios that happen throughout your journey on the planet!

Space ships starfield space western sci-fi explore planets worlds procedurally generated
Traveller has literally infinite possibilities of planets and scenarios for players to experience.

Gameplay and Mechanics

A feature of Starfield that Traveller influenced is its character creation system. This is signficantly different from from other TTRPGs. Traveller employs a lifepath system, which is basically a mini-game all on its own. Players determine their character’s skills, attributes, and experiences through branching choices and use dice rolls for the successes or failures in their upbringing and careers. The system generates unexpected outcomes and enables multi-career characters, resulting in well-rounded individuals with unique stories and expertises. Overall, Traveller’s character creation offers immersive and realistic character development unlike any other tabletop RPG. This allows players characters’ backstories to align with their skills and attributes while being a simultaneously fun and unique system.

Additionally, the game provides robust rules for starship creation and space combat. Much like Starfield, players can design and customize spacecraft and engage in interstellar battles with unique rules and features. Whether you’re exploring uncharted star systems or engaging in high-stakes space combat, Traveller offers a comprehensive and engrossing gameplay experience that appeals to fans of science fiction and tabletop role-playing alike.

To continue on the similarities to Starfield, commerce is a heavy focus in Traveller. Traveller incorporates a robust economy and trading system where players can engage in interstellar trade, buying and selling goods, and performing various jobs across numerous star systems. It has systems for pricing commodities, taking into account supply and demand, as well as factors like legal restrictions and local market conditions. Successful trading ventures can yield significant profits, allowing players to acquire wealth and resources for their characters and starships.


The limits of Traveller’s system are what you can imagine! You can do a military campaign mirroring Starship Troopers. You can be on a crew exploring the far reaches of space like Star Trek TNG. Typically, many Travellers form a ragtag crew to do jobs together like Firefly. Much like the games that Bethesda puts out, the experience can be shaped to fit your unique playstyle. Likewise, you can begin your adventure into Traveller’s universe using one of their campaign modules that Mongoose Publishing has released.

The rulebook is robust enough that your GM can use the rules provided to create a living, functioning universe! Consequently, players could experience a Starfield tabletop RPG by using Traveller’s mechanics as a base and applying a NASApunk setting. Either way, Traveller has delighted tabletop gamers for decades and it will continue to do so for decades to come!

What you need to start playing:

To really get the most out of your experience, you’ll likely additionally want:

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