If you haven’t been living under a rock you’ve at least heard of one of his games: Stars Without Number, Silent Legions, Godbound, Other Dust, just to name a few. I first heard about about him when suddenly everyone started to talk about that exciting new (and free!) science fiction roleplaying game, which combined sandbox gaming, with OD&D combat and a Traveller-like skill system. This game was Stars Without Number.
Over the last few years Kevin has successfully kickstarted a couple of games which have two things in common: 1) OD&D-like rules and 2) advice and tables to help the GM to run sandbox campaign. Some of his games also make use of a skill system reminiscent of classic Traveller. On top of that especially the more recent books are just gorgeous and Kevin also made the artwork used available for free and under a CC license as well, so that other small publishers can use it in their own work. Have I mentioned that most (if not all) of his games are also available in a free edition? That means you can basically get the whole game for free, before deciding if the deluxe version is for you. That level of generosity is unprecedented.
One of the main selling points for me is the sandbox advice included in the books. Since I first read about sandbox campaigns I wanted to run one myself, but it always felt like a very daunting task. The GM chapters in SWN, Silent Legions, etc. not only give you advice on how to run the game in general but also gives specific advice on how to run a sandbox. The included tables and rules for factions, etc. make the GM’s job much easier. Suddenly the idea of running a sandbox campaign doesn’t sound that bad anymore.
If you haven’t done so, I recommend you check out Kevin Crawford’s work. He recently successfully kickstarted the revised edition of Stars Without Number which should be out in early 2018. But you can already have a look at the beta version for free. I did mention that Kevin is incredibly generous, didn’t I?
Unfortunately I haven’t really had the chance to either run or play one of his games. This is a real bummer since I enjoy reading his games so much. In my regular gaming group science fiction and post-apoc games are a tough sell, so SWN and Other Dust are probably off the table, but Godbound and especially Silent Legion should be a better fit for my players…
Sometimes I don’t know what’s going on in the minds of the people working at Mongoose. Recently they released the digital version of a Starter Set for their 2nd Edition Traveller game – or as they call it “New Traveller”. There will be a boxed set in the near future. So far, so good. Unfortunately this starter set sets you back $39.99 for the PDF version, and I don’t really want to know what the printed version will cost.
Starter Sets are made to get new players interested in a game. They are usually inexpensive and include simplified rules for newbie players and GMs alike. Especially FFG has released a couple of great Star Wars Starter Sets which provided you with a lot of bang for your buck. Wizards of the Coast has done so as well with their D&D Starter Sets.
To Mongoose’s credit I have to mention that their Starter Set basically includes the complete Core Rules. It’s not simplified or restricted in any way. BUT in my opinion this defeats the purpose of a starter set. Their core rules book is sold at their website for £35.99 which is about $46. If the upcoming boxed set is similarly priced, it will cost about $60. Wow, that’s a lot of dough.
In my opinion a Traveller Starter Set should consist of a boxed set including dice, a couple of pregenerated characters, simplified rules in small booklets (reminiscent of the LBBs), perhaps a map of the Spinward Marches and a couple of deckplans. And all this should be sold for a more reasonable price.
What are your thoughts on Mongoose’s latest Traveller product? Do you think it was the right move or another bad decision? Please share your thoughts below.
If you are a fan of science fiction roleplaying games, then you probably know of Marc Miller. Back in the late 1970s he designed Traveller, which is without doubt one of the most well-loved scifi games out there. Last year I got in touch with Mr. Miller and asked him if he was interested in answering a couple of questions for our readers and luckily he agreed.
I have done quite a few interviews with game designers in the past, but this time it was special. As some of you may know, Traveller was the first roleplaying game I bought, and even though I played it less often than I wished, it always had a special place in my heart.
Just recently I started to read up on the history of Traveller, its ups and downs, and I also started collecting Traveller material (in print and PDF). But I still didn’t know much about its creator, his ideas and his dreams for the future of the game. So when I had the chance to ask for an interview I immediately grasped the opportunity. But I digress. Without further ado, here are our questions and his answers:
Stargazer: Let’s start at the beginning. Could you please tell us about how you got into roleplaying games in general? What was the first game you played and what made you want to write your own?
Marc Miller: When Dungeons & Dragons came out, I was a wargame designer. In a sense, the fantasy role-playing idea was new, but in another sense, it was a familiar concept. I had done political role-playing exercises in college: model UN and model Organization of American States, and some campaign simulations.
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