Saturday, February 26, 2011

Playing the Roles: My God... It's Full Of Stars...

Hey everyone and welcome to an infinite installment of the Dispatch!

I recently have been getting an itch to do some science fiction role playing. One of the podcasts I was listening to mentioned Traveller and I started thinking about checking it out. I've never played the system but I remember looking through my brothers copies the various books years ago. I don't like the idea of killing off players during character generation (one of the things Traveller is famous for...) but still, from what I'd heard it seems like there's enough wiggle room that you can really make the setting your own.

I briefly looked at it on RPGNow but honestly $24 seems like a lot to spend on a pdf, especially since I'm probably going to print up a bunch (if not all) of it so it's just going to cost me more. Kind of discouraging but I decided to just cruise around the site to see what I could see. Oddly enough, I stumbled across another sci-fi rpg and honestly you can't beat the price... $0! Needless to say I downloaded and printed it out (so 200+ pages later and it's not really free but you get the idea...).

Stars Without Number

Stars Without Number is one of the many old school RPGs that has been hitting the scene lately. Characters have the familiar stats that a lot of us grew up with; strength, intelligence, wisdom, dexterity, constitution, and charisma. Sound familiar?

Once you have your stats, its time to choose one of three character classes. The expert is a kind of catch all class for any of the more intellectual occupations. The psychic is just that, a psychic. The warrior is your combat professional. At this point things sound kind of limited, but there is actually a lot more depth beyond just these three classes. Every character also chooses a background which adds a little bit of flavor along with a number of skills, and you also choose a training package which help further define your character class.

As far as the skills, they are used to make skill challenges but instead of using a d20 like 4e does you use 2d6 and add your skill bonus. This gives you a pretty good idea whether you are going to be able to succeed right off the bat.

Combat is handled slightly differently in that you roll a d20, add your opponents armor class along with any modifiers you might have (combat skills, to hit bonuses, etc.) and if it totals up to 20 or more, you hit. Honestly, the whole thing sounds very straightforward and I'm really looking forward to giving it a try.

In addition to the system itself, the game has a nicely developed background plus rules to generate the planets in the sector of space you are setting the game in, alien races, alien critters, factions, advise on developing adventures (along with 100 different adventure seeds to get you started)...just a whole bunch of stuff.

All in all, it looks really good from what I've seen except for the experience system. Out of all of the stuff that I've looked over so far this is the only thing that seems a little week but I think that it still gives you enough to be able to work with it.

A solid sci-fi setting with very straightforward mechanics, a good background, plus rules to help you really flesh out your gaming world and give it your own feel and flavor... and did I mention that it is a free download?

There is an option to buy the book as a hardcover or softcover if you want, but you can just download the pdf and go right from there. There is also additional content being produced as well. Currently there are three free downloads that detail various aspects of the game universe, plus an adventure setting, and another expansion detailing how to run a military based campaign.

So if you are interested in getting into a well written and nicely developed sci-fi rpg setting, I definitely recommend picking this one up. Heck, even if you're not into sci-fi go pick it up! It is free after all and you might just find something interesting in there.

The Parting Shot...

Well that wraps up another installment of the Dispatch. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...

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