So I had an idea for an adventure story game in the vein of Lone Wolf or Way of the Tiger, but set in a space-fantasy setting. I also want to try and capture the essence of the writing of the era, but that's not my main concern. My main concern is if this is doable on this site (though from what I have read ib the Help section it seems that it is).
Anyway I want some advice on something that is bugging me that I'm not sure how to handle. Should I allow the player to pick being an alien instead of a human if they want? And if so, what effects should it have on play as I don't want it to be purely cosmetic in nature.
If it's not just cosmetic, and changes the story in some way, sure...go for it!
Some ways to keep it from being just cosmetic;
What powers do the aliens have? Perhaps humans get a certain weapon, while aliens have another.
Would it affect the feelings of the other characters due to the MC's species? (E.X: Would a certain character be hostile towards a human, but if the player chose "Alien" as their species, they would have the option of taking that character as a companion in their travels?)
Would it affect how much knowledge the player is given about certain things? (E.X: Aliens would know the weaknesses of a certain monster, while humans wouldn't and therefore the humans would have a tougher time taking out that monster. Meanwhile, humans would know how to fix a certain weapon, but the alien wouldn't; therefore, the human would have been able to get a better weapon while the alien wouldn't.)
Ask yourself; what is different about aliens, and what is different about humans; and try to incorporate that within your game.
I was thinking more along the lines of stat manipulation since I was going to do stats, but that does give me some ideas for other benefits/drawbacks to it. Since there is going to (obviously) be a war and I want humans on both sides, making scenarios where the hero can sneak through via infiltration if they are human would be useful. Both sides have distinct alien species which cuts off those options to the alien players. However things like scent, night vision, etc. could offer other story choices. Now I'm not sure if this should influence stats or if it should just affect available choices for paths.
It should obviously affect both, if you want the most realistic gameplay xD
Since humans are not built like aliens (I think?). What stats do you want to add? Just the normal strength, perception, speed, etc stuff?
The stats I am going for are very simple, I don't want to bog the player down with a hundred things to keep track of.
When it comes to Psi powers, it's going to be X available, start with Y. Sequals, if I get that far, will be +1 power until you have them all.
For aliens right now I am thinking for abilities: scent, dark vision, camouflage, and water breathing. Any other ideas that could be useful? Even if they don't wind up an alien ability they might become a Psi power.
If you could describe the aliens and their surrounding environments, I could give you a better answer.
Usually, "powers" are because of evolution. Due to a certain need, certain mutations were encouraged (and/or because those mutations helped the species survive; therefore they were the only ones able to breed), and became a large part of that species.
Yeah I'm still in the super rough phase of development here. I don't have anything concrete for any of the aliens except that I'm going to have the evil Empire have things like "orcs" and some sort of four armed lizard men as evil alien species. Everything else is purely conceptual right now. As for environment, it's space fantasy. I can give them whatever sort of environment and have it just work. We are talking "Due to radion particle bombardment from their hyper-active star the Dethaga evolved underground, granting them the ability to see in the dark" and as I write that I am going to go with that. But yeah don't think "hard sci-fi", think "Original Star Trek".
There are humans fighting aliens. There are humans fighting humans. There are aliens fighting aliens. It's just that the Republic and the Empire have different aliens.
Largely yes, while also having special options available for each race in progression paths, such as the humans being able to try and bluff as Imperial humans or the like.
Also don't think battlefield, think more Flash Gordon pulpy space adventure.
Can I suggest some psychic powers?
Of all you suggested only empathy is on the list, and was there already.
This sounds similar to a storygame I'm writing where the character can be a human or an alien or a different species altogether. So yes, it's certainly possible, as long as you can handle all the changes and variables and stuff which arise.
As for effects, that would certainly depend on what your storygame would focus on. Special abilities is one that's been covered here, but then you have to decide when and where those abilities might come into play. If they're only in battle, then it might be easier. If they appear in special scripted events throughout the storygame, then...well, you may have to be prepared to write specific situations which use the abilities. It can get complicated, but still quite possible!
I would also give the player's chosen race their individual strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps humans have more luck and are more rounded as a character, whereas the aliens are faster and have the benefit of psychic powwaaaas.
Extra idea of mine: Maybe the aliens can fly from place to place, or possibly teleport, thus making travel easier. (That's assuming transport is relevant to the gameplay). To do so may exert a price on their stats, however.
Maybe I'm just looking too much into this.
The player is a psychic, that's one of the absolute baseline assumptions here. There is a stat and character creation choices for that specifically. You don't have to be alien to be psychic.
And having a branch for "if you are x species you can do this" is no different than "if you have x power/item you can do this". Not exactly hard to do.
As for transportation, not really relevant. It's space age stuff. If you could fly where you need to go, you'd just take your rocket there.