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Ashen Stars $24.95
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by A.J. E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2015 22:20:44

TL;DR This has been my first entry into the GUMSHOE system. My opinion of this particular product is split: I really like the system and the overall premise for the setting, but the text contains numerous errors and I think that one of the races in the book is just plain silly. Overall, this is an item I recommend with a few caveats.

Pros:

  1. The system is very streamlined and integrates pretty well with the setting. If you wanted to, you could easily use this system to run any number of episodic sci-fi games. Now that I think about it, this system would be perfect to run a Cowboy Bebop game.

  2. Ship combat is handled in an abstract, almost cinematic way. For me this is a plus—some may miss the crunchiness, or the level of customization that may be had in other system, but I personally prefer this abstract fashion.

  3. The Bogey Conundrum (the central mystery of the setting) provides all kinds of fun "X-files in Space"-esque opportunities.

Cons:

  1. There are a lot of errors in the text, to the point where I found it distracting. It's not an every page occurrence or anything, but it happened often enough that I had to wonder whether or not they employed a copy editor to give their product a once-over before it was published. Fortunately, this is just an aesthetic thing—the rules are solid and you should be able to figure everything out.

  2. The Balla. They are basically a race of emotional space-elves who are cursed with ever-increasing beauty. Some people may like them, and that's fine, but after reading about them in the book, I basically told myself, “Well, it looks like this is a race that I won't ever use.”

Closing: This core book doesn't offer much in the way of weapon customization. It seems to indicate that you can give a +1 to weapons, but it doesn't provide any rules for modification costs. I don't see this as an outright Con, however. The system is about solving mysteries and exploring stories, not engaging in laser-powered slap-fights. Don't get me wrong, I do love a good photonic backhand (not a real move, sadly), but what I like about the system is that it doesn't get too hung up on combat.

Overall, I was pleased with my purchase and would recommend it to anyone looking for a flexible, streamlined rpg system that lends itself towards episodic narratives. If you don't mind doing some re-writing to customize the universe to your particular palate (and, let's be honest, what GM doesn't?), then I think that you would enjoy this book.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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