Replicating No Man’s Sky Through Engines, Systems, and Drivers

No Man’s Sky is a space exploration game using procedural generation to create millions of different planets. Some people hyped it to be the space exploration game with how open world it was. Unfortunately, many people felt cheated with how empty the game feels. This video, while long, helps sum up the problems that No Man’s Sky had. It’s so bad, that Steam is offering refunds to people.

I saw this review and figured that most, if not all, of what No Man’s Sky promised could be easily replicated with RPGs given the plethora of random generators and stuff like that. That or playing Mount & Blade. Oh man, have I gotten addicted to the original Mount & Blade game.

But I digress. Today, we’ll look at some ways we can replicate or even improve No Man’s Sky with the help of RPGs. I’ll make some recommendations for a No Man’s Sky Replication toolbox. These are just recommendations, but if you have an idea in mind, feel free to put it in the comments.

Finding a Ruleset

So, the first step is to find a ruleset. The idea for this toolbox is to find a sci-fi themed game. If you already have one in mind, great! But if not, stick around.

The idea for this is to find a ruleset with some depth, namely a character development system. Lasers and Feelings, while ridiculously simple, lacks the development system that makes your character progress. The idea would be that it would record the growth of your character. Another mechanic for the ruleset in order to replicate No Man’s Sky is an inventory system.

I would recommend Stars Without Numbers, as the game pretty much hits those two requirements really well, is simple to get into, and has a couple of the drivers needed for No Man’s Sky (see below) built in. However, if you can, you can also use an OSR or a D20 sci-fi game. And of course, if you are able to, any sort of generic system with a sci-fi spin to it would also work.

Though there’s also Traveller that is also pretty good for solo roleplay, especially since it’s made for sci-fi trader campaigns in mind. Also check out the Star Wars D6 system.

Finding an Engine

Like with the ruleset, the Engine should also have some sort of depth to it. Not a lot, but enough to be able to address stuff like threads and NPCs. Mythic and CRGE are good engines to have. For a more specific flair, Covetous Poet and Game Master’s Apprentice both have Sci-Fi styled settings.


Now comes the tricky part. Since we need to replicate No Man’s Sky and what it had promised us, we need to figure out exactly what features we need to recreate. There’s plenty of drivers out there, so I’ll just say what types of drivers you might need and lightly recommend some drivers. I say we start with the biggest aspect.


If you can stomach the complex nature, I would recommend using Instant Universe. It works pretty well, but you have to do lots of rolling and looking at tables. Of course, if you want to have the busy work taken away from you, you can use Donjon’s Star System generator, which creates a good universe for you to explore.

This will help knock down one of the features on the list, planets with varying biomes.


This was a little harder to find, but if you can find yourself a spaceship generator, then that’s one step closer to replicating No Man’s Sky. Even better if you can find a way to generate other space ships, then generate where exactly they’re going (those scatter dice from the Warhammer games would work with that).

Speaking of, it’s almost a necessity to get the Universal NPC Emulator to simulate the pilots’ interactions with the player, and then maybe a percentile-based table to determine what faction they’re a part of.

And speaking of again…


Factions are a huge factor in the promised No Man’s Sky. While more orientated towards D&D, Chaotic Shiny’s generator is pretty good. When determining character interaction, I would recommend using UNE, using the faction as one big NPC.


To create aliens, sentient or otherwise, I would recommend either Creature Crafter or Species and Societies. The people who made Instant Galaxies are also making Instant Aliens, so look out for that.


There’s plenty of mission generators out on the web. Perhaps Donjon’s?

And there you have it, a list of stuff you may need to replicate No Man’s Sky in tabletop format. Hopefully this may give you a fuller experience than the actual PC game.

Now if you excuse me, I got some Nords to slay.


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