In early 2010 one of my first posts on this blog was a review of Pathfinder. It is only fitting that seven years and a few months later I review Paizo’s newest hit Starfinder.
Allow me to muse a little before I get to the meat of this review.
If you read my review on Pathfinder back then, I was really enamored with the system. Having tried and disliked D&D 4th edition, I was thrilled someone was continuing and expanding upon the 3.5 rules which all my gaming group enjoyed. Fast forward to now, and as much as I like Pathfinder, and continue to buy products from Paizo such as Pawns, Flip-Mats and Map Packs, I’m no longer playing the game. My current fantasy campaign uses the D&D 5th edition rules. Some of my players still play on Pathfinder campaigns and long for the character options and builds they can do in Pathfinder.
Over the past seven years I’ve come to appreciate simpler, more streamlined systems, and while Paizo does a lot to make running the game easier through tools and books like the NPC, Monster and Villain Codex, and their terrific Pathfinder Reference Document, keeping up to date with all the Feats, Spells, special rules, character classes, etc., is a daunting task. As a GM you don’t have to use them all, but you need to check character builds, make sure you create challenges appropriate to their powers, and fun for the players. I felt that running Pathfinder was too much of a hassle. I liked what WotC did with D&D 5th edition and moved on to that system.
Still I long for the kind of support Paizo gives Pathfinder, I know that my players want more options that the ones 5th edition offers, and I’d be more than happy to run Pathfinder 2nd edition if they cleanup and simplify the system. When Starfinder was announced I was sure this was a prelude to a new edition. Testing out the waters, fiddling around with the rules, and then using that for an updated version of the flagship game. I pre-ordered Starfinder, and thanks to Hurricane María, had some free time to read the book. Did I get what I expected? Read on and find out… Continue reading What about Starfinder? A review….
As I stated in my recent review of the FrontierSpace PHB, FrontierSpace is one of the most exciting releases this year. Even though I have played and even written fantasy roleplaying games before, I am first and foremost a science fiction fan. Unfortunately a lot of SF RPGs out there have been written by designers who love rules. It feels as if crunch and science fiction often come in pairs. Luckily FrontierSpace is an exception. The rules are between rules-light and rules-medium, but there’s definitely enough depth for long campaigns. The referee handbook adds optional rules and various generators to expand your FrontierSpace game and help the GM (or Referee as it’s called in the game) to do their job.
This review is based on a unfinished copy of the RHB provided by DwD Studios. Thanks again, Bill. The 198-paged preview copy lacks a couple of pieces of art but aside from that it should be identical to the finished version. The RHB shares its look and layout with the PHB. The release is probably only a week or two away and like the PHB the RHB should be available both as POD version (soft- or hardcover) and PDF via RPGNow/DriveThruRPG. I guess it will probably set you back $10 just like the PHB, which is a very good price, if you ask me.
So what does the RHB add to the table? The first chapter of the book called Game Guidelines mostly expands on the rules on the PHB. In the first section of said chapter there’s a closer look at Character Rules including the morality system, how it applies to robots, and how the Referee can react when players let their character’s act against their defined moral code. Personally I don’t think codifying one’s morality is really necessary (especially in a SF game), but that’s just me.
More interesting are the information on earning DP (development points, FrontierSpace’s XP equivalent). In this section the author gives detailed tips on how to grant DP after each session. There’s a bullet list with ten item which if applicable grant you 1 DP each. This makes granting DP a much easier task, since you just have to check which criteria apply. Veteran Referees may just wing it, but if you’re new to the game it definitely comes in handy.
Another form of reward is also detailed: Loyalty benefits. These are special benefits granted to characters who have been loyal to a certain patron may it be a powerful corporation or a local government. Loyalty benefits are usually designed by the Referee but a list of examples is given which contains benefits like special skill training, the use of certain vehicles provided by the patron, or even company stocks.
It’s a great time for fans of science-fiction roleplaying games. Kevin Crawford has just successfully kickstarted a revised edition of Stars Without Number, Green Ronin recently accounced a roleplaying game based on the “The Expanse” franchise, and DwD Studios finally released the long-awaited Player’s Handbook to FrontierSpace .
Before I start my review I have to make a confession. I know that the people behind FrontierSpace are huge fans of TSR’s Star Frontiers, and I was told that some of the mechanics are at least inspired by this classic RPG, but I can neither deny nor confirm this. I have actually never played Star Frontiers. Having said that, let’s get this review started…
This review is based on the digitally version of the FrontierSpace PHB which has graciously been provided by DwD Studios’ Bill Logan. The 248-paged PDF is currently available on RPGNow/DriveThruRPG and a POD version should be available soon as well. DwD Studios will also release a Referee’s Handbook in the next couple of weeks. While FrontierSpace is fully playable with just the PHB, the RHB will contain a lot of material to make the GM’s life easier and which also expands the game. There will be rules for Psionic abilities, Referee advice, Alien creatures and species generation, star system generation and more.
FrontierSpace is powered by DwD Studios’ d00-Lite System which they already used in both Barebones Fantasy and Covert Ops. It’s at its core a d%-roll-under system. But instead of most games where a result of 00 means 100, it’s zero in d00-Lite. Something I especially like about the d00-Lite System is that the Skills are basically archetypal roles like Academic, Commander, Medic, and the like. So if you are trying to perform an action a marksman might be good at, you use the Marksman skill, while everything medicine-related is covered by the Medic skill. Sounds easy, right? This also solves a common problem with SF roleplaying games: skill creep.
Continue reading Review: FrontierSpace Player’s Handbook