Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Seventh Game Of Christmas 2017

Previous Games of Christmas: Traveller, Heavy Gear, Exalted, Mutants & Masterminds, Rifts, Hunters of Alexandria
This game was a game changer for me. Until I played it I had no real interest in the Old School gaming. This game changed my mind on that. It changed my mind on a lot of things. Man...I wish I was as good a designer as +Kevin Crawford every time he designs a new game, or even a new expansion on an existing game he kind of shakes my paradigm. All that aside, lets dig into...

Stars Without Number

There are two editions of this game. I will be dealing with second edition here. Though it is fully compatible with first edition, it is much clearer with more options and far better layout and art. Second edition just carries forward the excellent work of the first edition and just improves the mechanics and polish. I am a bit of a fan. The best bit, is that you can get the game for free. Probably the best value for money in gaming.

Peritextual Elements
The book is beautiful, full color and two column layout. The art is striking, full color, and has a painterly quality. It really gets the high action science fiction vibe across while hinting at those classic sci-fi book covers. Giant robots, aliens, and space ships all the way through. I like the art a lot. The font choice is solid, very readable. The charts and such are also very clean and well done. This is a book that is designed for ease of use and I like the choices made.

Mechanics
The basic mechanics of the game a pretty simple. There are saving throws, skill use, and combat actions. Saving throws are a d20 vs a set difficulty. You roll skills with 2D6 plus the relevant skill rating vs a target number. Combat is pretty solidly in the D20 bailiwick, roll a D20 fr initiative and attack(vs armor class). It has ascending AC, which I am pretty sure is a change over the previous edition(I am pretty sure it was a descending AC in the old version). Character creation is pretty simple as well. Roll your attributes(Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha), Choose a background(Grants you a skill), pick or roll for additional skills(rolling is more fun and better), Choose your class(Warrior, Expert, Psychic, or Adventurer which I can have abilities from two separate classes), Choose your foci(grants a special talent), and then do some basic followup stuff. It is set out very neatly and explained well. It is a bit more complex than some other Old School games, but it works well. The main mechanical draw of the game for me though is the GM tools. It really focuses on making the GMs job easier and explaining how to generate adventures and the things you will need within the adventures. Even if you have no intention of playing this game, I would recommend getting it just for the GM tools. They are a delight.

Setting
The setting is solidly generic sci fi. In the future mankind has expanded to unknown numbers of stars. Psychic powers were well mapped and somehow related to FTL travel. Technology evolved to the point where all the really powerful and useful stuff was psychic of one sort or another. Then came the Scream, it killed or drove mad all the psychic in the galaxy and shut down all the big important technology. Now it has been a long time since the scream and mankind has crawled its way back up t the ability to travel the stars once again. So we have a high tech post apocalyptic galaxy filled with hidden ancient super tech and knowledge. It is a solid setting and it lets you have a lot of interesting adventures. I would love for there to be a supplement on how to play in the pre scream era, but I am not sure if that would be as fun as it sounds in my head.

And there ends the seventh game of Christmas. Tomorrow...

Monster of the Week