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Retrostar Rulebook


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Science fiction (n.): fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component.

Now, add disco. This is Retrostar.

Retrostar is a story-driven roleplaying game that faithfully and meticulously emulates the science fiction television shows of the 1970s. The game is powered by the Intention System, which places a sizeable portion of the narrative control in the players’ hands, while still maintaining the traditional roleplaying game structure.

Like all of Spectrum’s “genre emulation” games, Retrostar is not simply a universal RPG that just happens to be adorned with genre-appropriate art. Every single design decision was made with the purpose of bringing to life the sci-fi TV shows of yesteryear, right at your gaming table. The rules even take into consideration the fact that these shows were created with very limited budgets at their disposal!

Everything you need to play Retrostar is included in the rulebook. Some of the features include:

Simple and Elegant Task Resolution: The core of the Intention System revolves around rolling a certain number of six-sided dice (usually between two and four) and adding together either the two lowest results or the two highest results, depending on the rating of the Trait (Adventure, Thought or Drama) being used, the situation at hand and a few other factors. The higher the roll, the better. Based on that total, the character will either fail or succeed, though whether the player has to briefly cede control of the character is also determined here. There are more wrinkles to it, but that’s the gist of how it works.

Series Creation: The Showrunner creates the Series in which the game will take place and there are full rules and guidelines for doing exactly that. You’ll devise a setting, set up Dials that will help you generate Episodes on the fly, create supporting characters and flesh out all the fun details (terminology, styles, common special effects, etc.). It’s a great deal of fun, without a bunch of complicated rules and number-crunching to bog the process down.

Time and Budget Management: In order to reflect the time restrictions these shows faced, the players are limited to twelve rolls (called Intents) in a given Act, of which each Episode has five. Characters will receive a certain amount of SFX—the exact amount is determined by the Series’ “SFX” Dial—to spend in order to activate cool effects that would require expenditure of the show’s budget (impressive stunts, special effects and so forth).

The Spotlight: Just like in the TV shows of old, the heroes are all given a chance to have the spotlight shine on them. In Retrostar, this is represented by a communal pool of Spotlight Tokens that can be spent to showcase an appropriate aspect of a PC and giving them bonus dice for an Intent. For example, if a PC has a phrase in their Background that says “Best friends since childhood with Malcolm (the name of another PC)” the player can grab a Spotlight Token when Malcolm is in trouble.

Ready-to-Play Series: Inside the rulebook, you’ll find seven full Series that allow you to dive right into the game. The Series are Battleground: Homefront, Earth Squared, Family Nuclear, Galactic Run, Outpost 2015, Space Rejects and WarpCruise-76. Additionally, it includes three Series Seeds that can be fleshed out and customized to suit your tastes.

Example of Play: This 13-page example of play covers the span of entire Act, so you can see precisely how the game works in practice.  

Genre Information: The rulebook contains an exhaustive discussion about the 1970s-era sci-fi television shows. It explores the nuances, tropes, styles and even a detailed “recommended viewing” section. By the time you’re finished reading it, you’ll be well-versed in the genre!  

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Reviews (5)
Discussions (27)
Customer avatar
Joe C February 17, 2022 10:40 am UTC
Guessing this game is nearly a parody of itself.
Still in four years we've had plenty of Sci-fi games
That are out and doing well.
Customer avatar
Joe C April 02, 2021 10:05 am UTC
Three years no P.O.D
This is annoying to say the least
Especially after some correspondence over on Facebook.
Saying it will happen
( This was after R.Hatch Passed)
Why mention to folks that you're gonna do something if you're not going to do it.
All a bit Palladium still never mind I'm sure one day
it will happen all the best.
Customer avatar
Scott N April 19, 2020 10:30 pm UTC
I would print it out myself if it had a Printer Friendlier version since they seem to be unable to do a freaking POD!
Customer avatar
Ed S January 21, 2020 2:15 am UTC
I like the game, a friend ran it for us, but if you are not going to support it... I think I'll pass on buying it and just keep being a player in my friend's game...
Customer avatar
Matthew C June 10, 2019 3:42 am UTC
Publisher seems to have lost interest in this, unfortunately. Sounds like it could be fun. Need it in print.
Customer avatar
Jonathan L April 30, 2019 8:37 pm UTC
Still homing this will make POD.
Customer avatar
Michael L March 19, 2019 8:54 pm UTC
We recently did an actual play of Retrostar on the BAMF Podcast -
Customer avatar
Matthew C March 01, 2019 9:13 pm UTC
No answer. Guess not. Okay then. Lost a customer.
Customer avatar
Matthew C February 16, 2019 1:56 am UTC
Any chance of this in print? PDFs don't work for me at the table and this game sounds like a lot of fun.
Customer avatar
Scott N August 22, 2018 7:14 pm UTC
Oh for pete's sake put the POD up, Richard Hatch is dead, you waited too long for him to write it.
Customer avatar
Cynthia M September 17, 2018 5:06 pm UTC
He was in the process of writing it when he passed away. At any rate, we plan to release the print version next month. :)
Customer avatar
Jeff L November 26, 2018 12:49 pm UTC
Next month has passed-- Any chance of this hitting POD anytime soon, for real?
Customer avatar
Matthew C March 01, 2019 9:14 pm UTC
When you say "next month" what year do you mean?
Customer avatar
Scott N August 01, 2018 2:42 am UTC
They said they where waiting on a forward by Richard Hatch (That's going to be a long wait as he's dead) to do a POD.
Customer avatar
Pauli K February 07, 2018 4:55 pm UTC
I'd still love a POD of this. I find i just can't run RPGs from PDF files. I need a book in hand!
Customer avatar
Joe C February 03, 2018 1:49 am UTC
A P.O.D version must be on the cards soon surely
I hope it comes too fruition.
Be great too get this in a dead tree format.
(maybe I'm old fashioned.)
PDF's just don't cut it for me I need a dead tree in my hand & the new book smell.
You just don't get that from a PDF.
Customer avatar
Gene S November 16, 2017 2:06 am UTC
I am waiting until this goes to print (POD) edition to buy it. Any idea from the Creator of when this will happen?
Customer avatar
Andrew B June 21, 2017 8:50 pm UTC
I didnt know the price was going back up. Damn. Should have picked it up before.
Customer avatar
Jonathan L February 15, 2017 4:17 pm UTC
Hoping to see a hard copy of this soon.
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File Last Updated:
December 16, 2015
This title was added to our catalog on December 09, 2015.