[Review] Stars Without Number (Core Game) Pt. II; Spacestuff

Last time we covered character creation in Kevin Crawford’s genius space OSR Sandbox game Stars without Number. The equipment section is interesting because unlike OSR fantasy games, the credits to physical power curve goes quite deep. While gold coins can’t generally buy magic items and armies of pikemen are impractical in many a fantasy adventure, credits can mean the difference between a bum with a laser and a leather jacket and a Power-armoured, cybernetically-augmented killer with a Distortion Cannon. Barring the might of the Psychic, wealth and power scale much harder then wealth and experience. While many a fantasy game would eventually incorporate some sort of carousing rules to bleed off excess gold, there is no need for this in SWN, where the world can easily accommodate multi-million dollar bank accounts without breaking a sweat.

Equipment is divided by Tech Level and covers the gamut of tech level 0 (stone age) equipment to Tech Level 5, for those few Pre-tech devices that are still in wide enough circulation to be found on the open market (SWN mentions the odd Pretech factory that still manufactures Shear Rifles for example) and covers everything from convenient Glowbugs that are essentially sticky flashlights to Gravtanks and Carriers. A ludicrously expansive and powerful system, actually running SWN can feel like driving a Lamborghini in first gear since you will likely end up using only the lower echelons of its capabilities. If you are a filthy min-maxer, SWN is like a lucid wet dream.

First a note on encumbrance. In an astonishing twist of parallel evolution, SWN simplifies inventory management from the godawful beancounting common among most editions of DnD. You can carry a number of items (or bundles of small items) equal to half their Strength Score for easy use (within the round), and twice that many Stowed on their person so as to take a round to dig out. Characters can opt to reduce their speed by a fourth by carrying 2 additional items (4 stowed) or half by 4.  Some items count as more then one, say, a machine gun. Anyone who can achieve by approximation what was previously handled with tedious pettyfoggery deserves an exaltation.

The currency of the future is the Credit, backed up by the still functional Exchange of Light, an interstellar banking organization that enables some form of pan-stellar economy by enforcing contracts, overseeing negotiations and generally acting as stabilizing influence. In a refreshing but somewhat incredible take, they are not also a coven of Baphomael worshipping cannibal war profiteers, but its the future so we can dig it. The credit does not seem to be based on the value of any one material, SWN mentions the relative abundance of metals to any TL 4 civilization via asteroid mining.

Rules for carrying weaponry abroad appear to vary from culture to culture, with most SWN worlds having a frontier-ish feel and at least open-carry laws. Most planets draw the line at heavy weapons and more importantly, Body-armor. While you can carry a gun for self-defense, it is reasoned anyone wearing armor is expecting a smackdown, adding a market for…concealed armor!

Armor should be pretty familiar to anyone who has played Dnd, and goes from Leather Jackets to complex polyceramic hardsuits, space-capable Power Armour and personal force fields. Edgy players wanting to portray a medieval knight in a future setting may readily do so, with the caveat that plate armor is utterly useless against TL 3 weaponry or higher. This seems a little too binary, I would have enjoyed a system where plate armor would protect better against laser weapons [1] then a futuristic kevlar vest and perhaps some hyper-advanced shield would be vulnerable to the kidnjall [2] but this does not take place [3]. Technology advances in an almost linear fashion. 6000 credits will net you an AC 2 Assault suit (you need the Exosuit skill at 0 or take a penalty to hit when wearing it) proof against all man portable weaponry of TL 3 or higher. The implications are clear. A band of ruthless criminals can easily land on some primitive world and set up an empire of violence and terror, or as I like to call it, “the first thing PCs do when they get a starship and a good starchart” [4]. Min-maxers can opt to shill out for a TL 4 shield proof against bullets for that extra AC.

Primitive weaponry is SWN slang for melee combat, and unfortunately for Wh40k/Dune enthusiasts, melee combat is very much the pere noir of the SWN system. There is no rule for firing into melee, meaning that barring extreme environmental conditions, the projectile and the laser rule the battlefields of SWN. In the rare cases when melee weaponry is actually advantageous or you are teaching a bunch of savages some lessons about interstellar entrepeneurship, you have you collection of low-tech swords, rocks, knives, clubs, spears and bows. The Greatsword is still pretty good. The section is very general but covers most categories you are likely to encounter in a sci-fi game.
High tech options include the TL 3 Advanced Bow, a stun baton, a mono-blade and the deadly suit-ripper, a weapon specifically designed to destroy space suit. On the plus side, Grenades are counted as Primitive and inflict 2d6 – 1/point of AC under 6, save for half damage with SCATTER DICE. As a note to any future spacers, Grenades are essential to surviving a game of SWN and you should carry as many as humanly possible. You will never regret a purchase.

In SWN only girls and otaku fight with Primitive Weaponry. Real men fight with Guns. Projectile weapons are the bread and butter of TL 2-4 combat, providing a cheap and masculine alternative and preventing your game from descending into a Star Trek Larp. Muskets, Revolvers, Automatic rifles, Carbines, Combat shotguns, Sniper Rifles that can kill instantly on a surprise attack and the terrifying 2d8+2 Mag Rifles. A look at the damage of a simple shotgun (3d4 or 3d6 with slug ammunition) and the plethora of burst options (+2 to hit and damage for 3 increased ammo expenditure) tells you who is the king of the battlefield. Advanced weaponry is lethal to low level characters, often dealing 2 or three d6 damage. Excluding psychics Combat in SWN is largely a brutal arithmetic of net economic worth multiplied by numbers and expressed through superior armor and weaponry. The Age of the Sword is over. Death is fast, noisy and light.

Completing the holy trinity are Energy Weapons. Is your aim shaky and your vision misty? Does your girlish wrist shatter with kickback? Does your girlfriend tell you that guns are bad for the environment? Fear not! Energy weapons give a +1 to hit, have superior range and all take easily rechargeable Type A energy cells. The drawback? Environmental scattering, wimpy damage and a high price tag. The more advanced weaponry uses particle beams instead and deals horrendous damage, the TL 5 weapons use gravitic fields, shear planes or even a portable spatial disruptor. As written, there is no real drawback to Energy Weapons besides requiring a TL 4 infrastructure to maintain, making the eventual transition from projectiles to energy weapons for advanced civilizations almost inevitable.

The odd duck, clocking in at the last are psitech weaponry, which can only be used by Psychics. Psitech represents a mostly lost technology from before the Scream and requires a number of levels in certain disciplines to use. They are all awesome. A blade of mental energy that passes through inanimate materials. A grenade that can be set by precognitives so it only hits enemy combatants in the blast zone. A telekinetic gravity gun! And last and best, the Metastasis Projector or Cancer Gun! Even a single hit requires prolonged treatment in a TL 4 medical centre! Outlawed on virtually all worlds aware of their existence! Badguy weapon confirmed.

The game starts to open up with its description of Gunnery, that is to say supra-man portable weaponry, which can see a surprising amount of use unprecedented in a fantasy game. Its huge weight is no longer the inconvenience it once was in a game where one is readily equipped with Grav Sleds and Shuttlecraft capable of fielding that weight or more, though all but the heavy machine gun and the rocket launcher are so massive as to be only mounted on vehicles. While the ability to perform supressive fire is given all the terrifying potency it should have, the rocket launcher is surprisingly weak and lacks an area effect, making it an effective weapon against vehicles only. The heavy machine gun has the most potential as a space dungeon asset for defensible locations.
TL 4-5 vehicle weapons are nightmarish agglomerations of damage dice and ranges, 20 foot radius Wheatcutter Belts or a TL 5 5d12 Vortex Cannon are important only for vehicle on vehicle purposes. In the battlegrounds of the 33rd century men are like gnats [7].

Vehicle rules are simple, but complex enough to provide logistical challenges for their widespread use. Vehicles generally consume 1 type B powercell every 6 hours, meaning that you’d better bring plenty of spares if you are going to do any vehicle-based hexcrawling. Speed is given in abstract terms only for purposes of pursuit, as a number that can be subtracted from Drive Tests or added to AC when a vehicle is moving. Being on a vehicle, even a motorcycle, will give its occupant complete protection until the vehicle’s hit points are depleted, after which all occupants take the vehicle’s maximum hit points in damage (half on a luck save) in a vaguely quantum mechanical approach to balanced combat. That being said, the armor on even rudimentary vehicles like a Gravcar or a helicopter generally makes them a force to be reckoned with. The Grav Tank is a humongously powerful machine, proof against all non-gunnery weaponry, but its TL 5 nature implies that even Sector Powers are unlikely to be able to field them in great quantities.

So is there anything else you can pour your hardearned cash into besides terrifying amounts of firepower? Yes! There is a fairly expansive list of adventuring gear, suitable for all manner of expeditions into alien jungles, mineral prospecting reports and pre-tech base dives. As a space DnD adventuring list, it actually serves exceptionally well. Atmophilters, Comm serves, glow bugs, Grav Chutes, Light Amplification Goggles, Pressure tents, Advanced rope that can be welded to other rope seamlessly with the one-size fits all Meta-tool, Survey scanners and so on, all the relevant items powered by the Type A power cell, the oil flasks of space Dnd. Unlike oil flasks, they are actually easy to recharge, so once you have the infrastructure set up resources are no longer a problem.

Its interesting how SWN handles the vaccuum of space, a topic that comes up remarkably little in Space Opera. Much like actual space, SWN space is fucking deadly and inflicts d20 damage per round (save for half) for each round after the first if you do not wear a suit or fancy Vacc skin. Fortunately, adventuring in vaccuum is rendered something less then the absolute death trap it is likely to be. While you can’t wear armor under your bulky shit suit, it does have elaborate self repair mechanisms meaning it won’t puncture from bullets. Edged weaponry has a 50% chance of puncturing your suit if you have 10 or less hit points, but you can always use a turn’s action (does that mean a round Kevin?) to mend your suit with an emergency repair patch. Space is not all that much deadlier then air unless you have 10 hp or less it seems. The exploration of a partially pressurized dungeon like the hulk of a pretech battlecruiser seems to beg for these rules, and Vaccuum can thus add an interesting environmental hazard to your space dungeon. Recommended.

All the equipment adds a bit of a tonal shift from DnD. Where early DnD would essentially cap out equipment at around the time your PCs can afford the impractical full plate mail armor for anything from 50 to 1000 gp [6], forcing PCs to rely on their wits, SWN seems to postulate a more deterministic playstyle. There is always some sort of gadget or technological solution for most problems that cuts into the ability to improvise a solution on the fly, which is rather a shame. On the other hand, there is plenty of opportunity for shenangians. Who can resist the allure of the Dermofilm for instant disguise, the blackmail potential of the Argus Web, the architectural blitzkrieg potential of the Instapanel?

Crawford deserves some credit in between writing up costs for Thunder Cannons and Holo units for actually putting down the credit costs of various lifestyles and commodities like prostitutes, bribes (minor to major), booking transport to a nearby world and the wages of various experts of different skill levels, from unskilled laborers to Level 2 Lawyers. It not only covers the costs of most services PCs are likely to need (with the curious omission of Starship Navigators), but also provides a grounding for the value of a Credit, conductive to that all important verisimilitude.

I will note that there are generic “trade metals” or “trade goods” suitable for distribution on hithereto undiscovered or rarely visited worlds as well as a flat fee for cargo space but SWN Core seems to regard regular honest trade as something best left to NPCs [8]. It is quick to remind us that while it is possible to make a literal killing selling trade metals to undeveloped worlds, once a world is known other Travellers will quickly make their way there and ruin your ability to trade an army of men for a cargo-load of booze and glass beads. Subsequent expansions would introduce other staples of technologically asymmetrical entrepreneurship such as Control Drugs to hand out to any prospective natives once they decide they have enough metal.

One of the most un-traveller-esque editions to the equipment catalog is Cyberware, the goldsink of choice if you already have powered armor and TL 5 weaponry. As SWN points out, most of the functions of cyberware lies in its subtlety, consigning the purchase thereof mostly to a small number of elite operatives, assassins or visiting dignitaries. Cyberware takes up 1 permanent system strain each, and mechanically significant upgrades tend to have some sort of drawback. The balancing is immaculate. While there are a few implants that allow you to sport concealed weaponry in your hand, have a phone in your head or induce a deathlike coma which is cool if you like being circumspect, the real deal are Twitchlock Actuators that allow you to reroll ranged attack rolls (lower Dex bonus by 1 and 1 system strain per reroll), a Stabilization Window that automatically stabilizes you if you hit 0 hp (lower Con bonus by 1, still fucking worth it) and the hideous Revenant Wiring, the implant of choice for death commandos, which contains a small AI that allows the body to fight on after death until it has been reduced to -25 hit points (half stabilization chances). While some might argue it will clash with the 70s-80s aesthetic or Traveller, its presence makes sense and there are plenty of interesting tactical trade-offs. Approved.

There is a section on what for lack of a better word may be termed the “magic items” of SWN; pre-tech devices that can no longer be replicated or properly understood. Much like magic items, you are unlikely to encounter them on the open market and most planetary governments will be very eager to get their grubby paws on them if they are revealed, making their possession outside of a millionaire’s vault the purview of criminals, explorers and elite faction operatives. I think the key of this section’s success here are the little hints of flavor strewn about, the nuggets of description of a weapon’s appearance and possible origins alongside the mechanical effects that add a touch of mystery and awe to an otherwise very rationalist universe.

There is a list of for lack of a better word, templates, that may be added to existing weapons to represent that they have been created by a certain pre-scream corporation. From low key entries like Colonial Arms issue firearms that were specifically designed to be self-repairing and used in the frontier, the section quickly scales up to Omnipresence nanotech weaponry that can be disguised as any innocuous object and foils scanners, the disturbing Samaeltech class of advanced melee weaponry covered in religious iconography or the Stardust Micropellet System projectile weapons that never require ammunition. This section is alright, some of the entries are a little standard but their presence makes sense in the context of the universe.

The real deal is the Artifact Armor and Equipment Section, which brings the supertech power. Armors with Integral Artifical intelligences (might have own purpose),  stylish executive security suits, personal cloaking devices, teleportation suits, Integrity Stimms (like health potions, these nanotech-based devices can no longer be easily faricated), polymorphic nanites that can be turned into any device of TL 4 to the god-like revidivus sheath, a greyish sleeping bag that can be used to revive someone from the dead provided he has not been dead for longer then 5 minutes. Not too shabby, it lacks the Golden Age of Technology clarketech feel of Warhammer 40k artifacts but its still damn cool and it makes sense. The awe is lacking but the punch is there.

An actual discussion of Starship construction, the primary goldsink of the system before one gets into delicious faction-play will be handled in part III of this review, which will cover the basic systems also. Since Starship combat is different from normal combat and its principles are of vital important to the nature of starship construction, I figure we may as well kill all the gnats with one blow. See you there!

[1] See also Dark Heresy
[2] Ah la Dune.
[3] At least partially. The Field Emitter panoply is a space capable forcefield that provides complete protection whereas the Deflector Array is an easily concealable version that is useless against environmental effects and primitive weapons.
[4] Swn calls this a Kurtz, after the mad ivory trader from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness [5].
[5] It is probable this work is also the origin of Konrad Curze, the Night Lords Primarch from Warhammer 40k.
[6] We can quibble over whether warhorses, carts or mercenaries count as equipment but I say they don’t for the purposes of dungeoncrawling.
[7] I’m struggling to find a good fictional analogy for land battles in SWN. If we discount the mech rules, which are put in later in the book, presumably so you can do a soft battletech pastiche if you so desire, I think the closest analogy would be something like Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers or Starship Troopers, small groups of highly mobile mechanized infantry demolishing the enemy with overwhelming firepower.
[8] The subsequent Suns of Gold expansion would focus on the principles of interstellar entrepreneurship and free trade like a boss.

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17 thoughts on “[Review] Stars Without Number (Core Game) Pt. II; Spacestuff

    1. I think its more that that though that is certainly a part of it. A Space Sandbox game needs to cover a lot more bases then a fairly simple dungeoncrawling campaign or a quick off-the-cuff space comedy game like Alpha Blue and this equipment section does so very well. You’ll see in the next few sections its kind of insane how deep the rabbit hole goes. A game of awe-inspiring depth and potential.

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    2. Crawford delivers top notch systems and toolkits for sandbox creation in all his systems.

      While most sandboxkits are basically a bunch of tables strapped together around a common theme or idea … Crawfords toolkits really bring depth and complexity to the table without being too deep or complex themselves.
      The systems are mostly simple and straight, but generate tons of complex and interesting content at the table.

      Another sandboxkit problemzone is the generation of useless (at the table, in the game) information. Like a table that lets me generate “relatives who live far away” for my npcs or “backstories for every damn npc” or such stuff.
      Crawfords systems shine again here … everything he gives you serves a purpose … to create something gameable at your table.

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  1. Good Review.
    Now I have to look whats different in 2E in the equipment department 🙂

    And that third part better have Spike and Ed as cover picture or else I will have to use some stern words 😛

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    1. Man that one is hard, as I said I’ll do a comparison run at some point, like I did between WHF 1e, 2e and Zweihander, but it might take a while. I have some backburner stuff too and Zakgate sort of interfered with SF februari.

      [Spike and Ed]

      I figured I do one sci fi series or other IP that could be good SWN material with each part. Cowboy Bebop is a dead giveaway, Firefly is solid SWN too. We’ll see if you catch all the references.

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    2. It will probably only be a quick glance over both editions to catch the biggest changes for me ;-P
      I use only 2e and don’t plan on using first.
      My interest is mostly academic … I always like to learn where a system comes from and what changes were made.

      [Spike and Ed]
      Well then you are forgiven.

      [FTL-Februari]
      “…and Zakgate sort of interfered with SF februari.”

      What? I hadn’t noticed, but now that you mention it 😛
      Maybe extend FTL-februari into march … Make-it-so-march or something like that.

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      1. [Editions]

        Like my girlfriend always says, if you ain’t broke, you is gettin laid [paraphrased].

        [Systems]

        Yeah I feel ya. My GM (Kelvin Crawlford) was under the impression that Revised was kind of shit, so we didn’t go for most of it.

        [FTL-Marchuari or Meteorite-March]

        I was going to do Megadungeons yet but at the rate this is going I can easily devote half a year to just doing SWN alone. Its a pretty popular game and I played it a lot and we already have most of the PDFs anyway but I also want to keep a little variety going. We are doing more science fiction provided another Lotfp author does not suddently get accused of sexual misconduct by his coterie of former concubines, in which case we are going to have to write another Homeric post.

        [Emergent Systems]

        I think you nailed it. Systems are never overly complex but simple and robust, favouring caution and planning over improvisation (no wonder I lost two characters) its how they flow into eachother while remaining compatible that is kind of breathtaking.

        [Animu]

        While I hate most animu like anyone who has ever watched it Cowboy Bepob is probably the best one. I have a fondness for Legend of the Galactic Heroes but I have too little time and autism nowadays to commit myself to a 116 episode grand opera. I liked Knights of Cydonia even though it got confused and thought it was a harem anime halfway through its second season.

        Honestly with all the shit I am reading I might even give Fate a shake only for the science fiction settings.

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      2. [Systems]
        I only know Revised so I’m in no position to judge it or first edition in relation to each other.

        [FTL-Marchuari or Meteorite-March]
        Variety is kinda important in the long term … but for now I think everyones fine with a bit of SWN.
        I have maybe played 3 Fate based games in my life and was never really impressed by them (to be fair one of these games was a “tales of deponia”-game… which is a nice pc game but a shitty setting for a tabletop-rpg).
        You could look at some of the savage worlds scifi books … Some of them sound interesting

        [LotFP-Authors]
        Are there any left? Not that I didn’t want another of your epic posts, but honestly … who remains?

        [Emergent Systems]

        Yeah, thats really the top of system and mechanics design for me: simple and robust systems that are easy to use, yet produce complex effects and content which is immediatly usefaul at the table. Then these systems interlock and interact with each other in simple ways to produce even more complex and deep content for you.
        It looks so simple from the outside … but i shudder to think of all the braincrunching and playtesting that went into this.

        speaking of simple and robust sysems:
        Thats another great part of these systems … you can houserule the shit out of them without breaking game balance or the whole mechnanic base structure of the system. Just slap a subsystem on it or change a few things here and there and you are good to go. Just imagine doing the same thing in 3.5 or Pathfinder … You change one little thing and suddenly one class is unplayable, another becomes unbeatable and 35 feats don’t work as they should be anymore …(I exaggerate, but you get the point.)

        [Animu]
        Yeah same here.
        I read some manga online but haven’t watched anime for years now.
        Cowboy Bebop remains one of the best period. The Soundtrack alone is pure gold and the rest of the show just set a standard for me few have (sadly) reached since then
        Knights of Cydonia is nice … but I get how one could think its a harem show.
        Blame! from the same mangaka is one of my alltime favorites … but It’s not for everyone.

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      3. [Systems]
        I don’t think there’s that big of a jump between revised and the OG when it comes to systems, but it does a great job simplifying some of the other stuff so it flows better. Having played both and coming from a 3.5 DnD background, they were much more familiar, and it seems that Crawford used a lot of the lessons he learned in Godbound and ported them over to improve SWN
        [Millennium-March]
        SWN seems to be the ticket, as The Last Jedi seems to have left a bad taste in many mouths, and folks are looking toward some actual good sci-fi. Of course, that seems to be the strength of SWN, other than the ease and use of its systems, is that it’s generic enough that you can do almost anything, which is again supported by those simple interlocking systems

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      4. [FTL-March]

        Glad to hear that the menu is to everyone’s taste. Fate always seemed to me to be the ideal game if you want to do as much RPing as possible with as little restrictions and strategic elements as possible. That being said, Evolution Pulse is a Blame-inspired game (yes, I too have read the Word of Tsumoto Nihei and dream still of its far future femtotech gigadungeons!), Baroque was some sort of Metabarons/Dune Mashup that looked pretty neat and there were plenty of other Space Operas that looked interesting. I think the combat system of Savage Worlds tends to skew the design in certain directions and I like my SF to be oblique rather then straightforward.

        [Lotfp Authors]

        At last count, Zak is out indefinetely but not permanently, Zzarchov is out permanently, I’m guessing Stuart will softly dissassociate himself from Lotfp and the rest is still trucking on. I think the fall of Zak/Zzarchov puts a stop to Lotfp’s prominence but I don’t see it dying that soon. Give Raggi some credit, the guy knows how to attract talent, I think he will slither out of this catastrophe instact.

        [Houseruling for 3.5]

        Boy I hear ya. I remarked to Thief of the autistic nightmare of houseruling or on the fly GMing for 3.5e. If you catch a GM making an on the fly ruling for holding your breath in 3.5e it is almost physically painful.

        [Chinese cartoons]

        Blame the manga is awesome and I will even recommend Biomega but the anime sucked ass. I looked at it for 10 minutes, turned it off, its shit, the animation is shit, the color palette is shit and nothing of the atmosphere of the manga is preserved, a travesty. Other sf manga that are not shit are 2001 Nights for some vintage golden age sci fi goodness.

        [Learning curve]

        That sounds good, that reminds me of Fantasy Flight’s learning curve with Dark Heresy, that they would end up getting JUST right with the 2nd edition after 4 other games, before ruining it by stripping out all the bizarre unique antagonists in favor of eldar, orcs and chaos cultists. Bleh.

        [Genericism]

        Its weird, I would not call it generic but I’d agree its adaptable and conductive to a variety of playstyles. Crawford uses some sort of technological explanation to create the exact setting he wants but his solutions never seem by the book or standard, it comes across very much like B-list contemporary Space Opera.

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      5. [Millenium-March]
        A Bad Taste in the mouth is puttingit very mildly. A good portion of the SW Fandom went batshit insane after that movie.
        (Disclaimer: I also think it is shit … not just as a SW movie, but as a movie in general)

        [Houseruling for 3.5]
        *crazed laughter* Preach it my friend!!

        The sad thing is, that houseruling in 3.5e in general is not only a problem of the mechanics and the system but to a certain extent a problem of the players.
        On the one side you have an (sometimes) insanely overloaded system that reacts poorly to changes at a certain level.
        But you also have the players who seem to regard houserules as some sort of cheating (At least thats what i saw most of the time)
        I remember one player who wanted to play some obscure Archetype class thingy from an old sourcebook in one of my games … I said no, because and the player went on a crazy tangent how I was destroying his fun, how the game was supposed to allow all options, how I couldn’t restrict offical content from my games, … fun times …

        [Chinese cartoons]
        “Aye” to everything you said about the Blame Anime.

        I read a bit of Gantz and found it to be a hilarious mixture of Black humor, science fiction, softporn and just crazy ass storytelling.
        Then there is TerraFormars which is even better in the “crazy-shit-goes-down” department.

        [Learning Curve]
        And yet the best changes in a system are wasted if the DM and players already made up their mind about this version or that.
        I still know some guys that only play Vampire the Masquerade second edition because it is the height of roleplaying … everything that came before was shit, everything after even more so (especially the dreaded third edition)
        Even tough the new World of Darkness (Chronicles of Darknes) is a much better system these guys wouldn’t play it if their life depended on it.
        I once met a guy at a convention who told me, that he used Pathfinder for everything … SviFi, Cthulhu, Modern Horror … I boogles the mind how much time that guy sinks into converting PF to other entirely unsuited settings instead of reading another system :/

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      6. [TLJ]

        Truthfully? I think it may have killed Star Wars. I don’t see any franchise walking away from it unless they disavow and bury it entirely. Its the movie that effectively made me give up Star Wars. It killed my interest in the entire IP entirely.

        [3.5e]

        Yeah Pathfinder or D20 always did seem to loom over the game, the GM reduced to an impotent gnat, a pigmy high priest to the game designer god. And it had too much crunch and too much looking at the character sheets. I still kind of like it, there are some settings that are really awesome that I want to take a stab at and 3e combat was very clean if cubersome until you reached level 10, at which point it turned into rocket-launcher tag.

        [Gantz]

        I’d never recommend Gantz as “sci-fi” which immediately evokes imagery of space and spaceships in my brain but I’d recommend at is a surrealist sci-fi war series. I read all of it, its a brutal, existential breakdown of people in combat situations, bordering on the nihilistic if not for its flirtations with the nobler aspects of humanity as well. I don’t know what it is with the japanese and grimdarkness but they can pull it off very well. See also Berserk the manga for a terrific example. Blue Gender is a great mil-scifi show if you can get past the 20 dollar budget.

        Damnit animu fagging on my blog noooo…

        [WoD]

        I actually heard that and I had discussions with fake white wolf about new WoD being a better system but a worse setting because it no longer had the trappings of gothic horror to lean on, seeking instead to do something “new” that was kind of pointless.

        [Systems]

        Learning a new system is kind of like learning how to code in a new language (or so I gather, I know fuck all about coding), and it takes a while to get familiar with it, especially if its a complex system. If you take into account the average length of a campaign being (probably way) less then 10 sessions there might be some merit in just fitting a well-known but unsuitable system to the setting. Which is incidentally my Good-GM cutoff line. If you can sustain a game for 10 sessions you are at least competent.

        [D20/PF]

        The question: ‘what does D20 do really well?’ is answered with ‘tactical complex combat heavy simulationist gameplay’ or more properly ‘combat heavy high magic fantasy.’ I’m not big on Ebberon but I will give it credit for at least being PERFECT for the system that powered it.

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