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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.


  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.


  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.

[3 of 5 Stars!]