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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
by Scott S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2020 06:30:33

SWN is my favorite RPG system. It's flexible to be used for any Sci-fi setting or amalgamation of settings. I've ran it off and on for years and now with the pandemic, my group is playing the system via Roll20. There is a great deal of community support for the product line as well.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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Wolves of God: Adventures in Dark Ages England
by Olivier R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2020 10:16:12

When I first saw this, I was not attracted to the theme (Dark Ages England is not my cup of tea and, as a Frenchman, I was quite ignorant of this part of English history). I bought this out of curiosity and because I know the quality of the author's work. It was a discovery. The writing is not dry (as is often the case with historical material). A great job was done to make the rules reflect the setting . Also there is a lot more interesting adventuring in this setting to be done, as it is written, than I would ever have thought possible. Lots of useful ideas in there. This can also be used for your low magic, dark fantasy setting, quite easily. But I'd like to emphasize how the writing made the setting interesting to someone like me who was not attracted to it in the first place. A warning though: as (I think) a homage to Chronica Feudalis, this book is written as if it were a RPG manuscript written by a Saxon monk of the period. I found it great for immersion into the setting, but it might not be to every reader's taste (and it also reflects the prejudices of the time from a Saxon perspective). It might be nice to add supplements covering the Saxon invasion from the Wealh's perspective (and maybe also introduce somehow Arthurian elements) as well as further advancing the timeline as to cover the Danish invasions (this book made me interested by the Last Kingdom TV show, which I love and provides quite a few ideas for a band of adventuring young Saxon PCs). All in all, it's been a blast to read and I hope to play this game one day. 5 stars for me (the pdf is gorgeous). Sorry for my bad English as I am not a native speaker.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wolves of God: Adventures in Dark Ages England
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
by Anthony L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/04/2020 19:51:28

//BLUF: Stars Without Number: Revised Edition is an elegant and straightforward RPG complete with outstanding GM tools and exceptional flexibility. I highly recommend it. The Deluxe printed version would be well-worth the price even if it didn't include the excellent bonus material.//

Kevin Crawford's Stars Without Number: Revised Edition is, in a word, elegant. The presentation is straightforward and clear. The systems are robust yet simple and easy to learn for those familiar with D&D 5e. Kevin's GM advice is actually helpful, assisted by extensive roll tables that reduce the stress and burnout of GM prep. Topics are thoughfully organized and laid out in sections that begin and end on the top and bottom of the page (or the adjacent page);-- I can only imagine how difficult that must have been to organize and edit, but it is much more pleasant to read and reference than the other RPGs I have. Whenever I read this book, it's almost like I can hear Radiohead's "Everything In It's Right Place" playing in my head. (OK not really but you get my point.)

I'll highlight a few of SWN's best features (Caveat: I haven't GM'd SWN yet. Not for lack of trying. Probably won't get to until my group's Shadowrun 4e and D&D 5e campaigns end):

  • System: This is my first OSR game. I've played and/or GM'd D&D 5e and Shadownrun 4e (yuck). SWN uses the swingy D20 (+ attack bonus) for combat and more reliable 2D6 (+SKILL) for skill checks. I suspect this will help establish how dangerous and unpredictable combat can be while mitigating D&D's most annoying problem: highly specialized characters failing D20 skill checks that they're supposed to be good at. There's also no advantage/disadvantage mechanic (in the rampant D&D way), which I think is too impactful on success/fail probabilities for how common it comes up. In other words, SWN is similar enough to other systems to be quickly learned while avoiding some of other systems' pitfalls.
  • Classes / Character Creation: The D&D crowd has a Pavlovian response to teased classes and sub-classes. Who am I to judge?-- I've have like 7 D&D books. For what it's worth, Kevin's character classes are comparatively lean, and, as a GM and player, I think I will like this change of pace. Though it's too early to tell, I suspect there will be less pressure to min-max. Psionic abilities seem more balanced to me (excepting perhaps telekinesis, which seems underpowered). Maybe the game will feel less like a puzzle to solve (mechanically) and more like a RPG? Again, too early to tell and obviously group dependent. Kevin's character creation guide is easy to follow and should be pretty easy to explain to people.
  • GM Tools: If you've read anything about this book, you know how good the GM roll tables are. Since OSR RPG worlds don't revolve around the player characters, the GM doesn't have to fiddle with enounter difficulty and challenge ratings (which I really found tedious about DMing D&D 5e). 'Nuff said.
  • Faction System: People really like the faction system as a way of animating the major organizations in your sector. Perhaps they are on to something. To be honest, I can't tell whether I'll like it until I try it out (hopefully soon). It's not really like anything I've tried before as a GM. Seems interesting though.
  • Flexibility: The Deluxe edition has transhumanism, space magic, and mechs along with all the free edition content (drones, ship combat, hacking, etc.). If there's a sci-fi trope or setting you want to try, it's probably in this book in one way or another. You can have a hacker in your party without it feeling like he/she is playing a totally different game from everyone else.

If it helps characterize how I feel about this book, I read the free PDF edition first and bought the Deluxe POD version just to support the creator, even though I don't see myself running a transhuman or space magic campaign (some the unique Deluxe content) anytime soon.

One comment on the POD version. My copy arrived in excellent condition (at least as well as RPG books ever do). The binding seems strong although I'm not sure how well it will hold up to abuse (it's in that gray zone where I'm just not sure how it will hold up-- could be no problem at all). My only minor complaint about the Deluxe POD version is that the margins on the outside of the page should probably be smaller so there's more space for text on the inside of the page. As it stands now, the text on the inside of the page curves towards the binding. It's totally readable and nothing is cut-off, but it is annoying and seems like something easy to fix.

If you're reading this, Kevin, write more adventure modules for SWN! Hard Light is awesome and I'm lazy. Cue the 'take my money' meme.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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The Crimson Pandect: A Handbook of Eldritch Lore
by Nicolas L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2020 11:58:47

Excellent condition, although I have yet to actually read it, I look forward to doing so--given how much I am impressed with its presentation and format. With just the basic review of it, it is quickly apparent that it's worth having for any DM/GM's or RPG collector's library as a source guide.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Crimson Pandect: A Handbook of Eldritch Lore
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
by Jason D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/12/2020 09:54:09

I am typically not a huge fan of OSR rulesets, but I will say SWN defies that genre and comes up with something familiar yet unique. For sandbox sci-fi RPGs, Stars Without Number ranks at the top or very nearly so. 100% recommended.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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Scarlet Heroes
by Rudy C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/21/2020 22:58:59

Amazing product, absolutely love the great ideas the author puts forth. You can run solo games or with a full group. The default setting is interesting (think Jade Empire meets Old School D&D), however it's not required and you're free to use your own setting or one already published. Have to say this game definitely rates as one of my favorites amongst the old school RPG systems.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Scarlet Heroes
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
by Glenn H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/18/2020 13:08:07

Updated:
I'm leaving my original review below because i think by leaving it, along with the resolution helps highlight DriveThru's great service. After leaving my original review, I opened a ticket with DriveThru and provided a picture of the binding on the copy I had received. They responded within an hour, and with no questions asked, indicated that they would send a replacement. I just received the replacement, and the quality of the binding is much better, it's nice and tight without any gaps or looseness. I'm much happier with this copy. Still a tiny bit steep for a book, but I've really wanted this one for a while.

Original review: I had this on my wishlist for a long time before finally buying it because, let's be honest, $79.99 is really expensive for a book. But I liked what I saw in the free version, and I really prefer physical books to electronic versions. But I am really disappointed in the binding job. I'm torn about leaving a bad review. The game and the book's content both merit a 5-star review. However, the binding job on this book I'd consider subpar for a $29.99 book, let alone $79.99. I've ordered a handful or so print on demand books from DriveThru and from LuLu, and I feel I've been happy with most of those. But this was really bad. I doubt the binding is going to hold up for a single read through, let alone the wear and tear from travelling and use during gaming sessions.

If you're contemplating this, and you're buying the PDF, go for it. It's a terrific game, and the content and layout is superb. But I'd strongly advise steering clear of the $79.99 version.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
by Philip M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/05/2019 11:20:23

I think any RPG can be graded on its a) mechanics, b) setting, and c) utility and SWN Revised delivers each.

MECHANICS: Straight forward. Simple enough to grasp and run with them at the table, but complex enough to have variety and tactical opportunities. The skill system is spot on for me (this revised edition has fewer skills) in terms of how it works (roll 2d6 + mods) and what experts look like (roll 3 or 4d6 and take the 2 highest.) Character design has enough choice within it that you can create a unique person with choices that matter at the table. Retaining the d20 in combat is brilliant - making those moments of high drama more statistically "swingy." Best space combat I've seen and solid psionics rules as well. LOVE the advancement system. I also love how attributes are far less important than in say D&D5E.

SETTING: A+ This is the sci fi game I want to play. The motivation to get credits is crystal clear and tangible: upgrade and maintain your ship. The fallen disaspora of humanity is a wonderful backdrop - re-discovering mankinds lost empire and plundering it for tech works great. The scarcity effecting most systems is drama-inducing and I've yet to see a player not almost instantly get it and fall into the groove of things. I can't do it justice - worth a read.

UTILITY: Goes above and beyond. So many generator charts for plots, names, personalities, planets... amazing advice for GMs. Clearly and entertainingly presented. This cannot be overstated - the design and presentation of this material is... and I do not use this word lightly... perfect. This is a game that puts the GM and players first - calling out what is intended and then how you can hack it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition (Free Version)
by Johnathan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/29/2019 15:35:52

I cant believe this is a free product. There is so much detailed information inside to run a game. I have very little familiarization with sci-fi, sandbox, or OSR rpgs. After reading this product, I not only am confident that I can run this type of game, but I am also very excited to try it. I really enjoyed reading this. It is very in-depth, and the game is explained really well. I am looking forward to running this with my game group. Once again, this is an amazing product that is surprisingly free. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition (Free Version)
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
by Michael C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/22/2019 08:38:37

This is the single best Sci-Fi system I've ever read. It successfully bolts together D&D 3d6 characteristics and d20 combat with Traveller's skill system. The real killer feature is the extensive, yet approachable set of "generators" that allow you as a GM to "wing it" and generate planets etc. quickly on the fly. The Faction system (a metagame used to generate realistic plot hooks) is stunning in it's depth and simplicity and is usable in any sci-fi rpg - worth the entrance fee for that alone.

The best bit is, there are many different supplements focussing on different types of campaign so you only need to pay for the ones that inspire you or your players. Spies, merchants, mercenaries, naval ships on a "five year mission" - all are possible, and one reasonably priced supplement away. Even Magic rules can be added in if you want to go full "Starfinder" or "Warhammer 40,000".

The starship mechanics and skill system are compatible enough with Traveller's (without copying them) to allow you to easily play SWN in the Third Imperium searching for "Twilight's Peak" - if that's what you want.

Wonderful job Kevin. I cannot recommend this higher.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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The Codex of the Black Sun: Sorcery for Stars Without Number
by Jerry S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2019 19:16:03

This book is perfect if you want to run a space Syfy game with magic, Kevin Crawford goes into how the magic works and why it works the way it does. And just like all of his books offers other ways to run the game, it like module with lots of mini modules that you can add and subtract to make the perfect game. My favorite part of the book is where you can build research and arcane points that then is what gives you new spells and create new artifacts. Building a bigger and grander libery of artifact and books to aid in other research, And if you’re a pacter you can create shadows to summon your new creations. Overall really good book, there are something I wish Kevin would go more in-depth for example giving more how shadows work or ideas on how to implement them into a campaign. If your looking for even ideas about magic in a syfy game this is the book to go to!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Codex of the Black Sun: Sorcery for Stars Without Number
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
by Zach B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/11/2019 20:48:07

I love this game. Here are a few reasons:

  • I love OSR (Old School Renaissance) games, but my players are used to more modern games where characters have options to customize with mechanics. SWN manages to be firmly OSR (rulings not rules, deadly combat, emphasis on creative solutions, yada yada) but gives players just enough options to scratch that itch.
  • The GM Tools are awesome
  • Easy to prep! I LOVE prepping SWN sessions; the tables provide so much inspiration. And if you need to improv on the spot, it's SO EASY to create an NPC stat block and the encounter tables are easy to use on the fly.
  • Easy to get this game to the table when I can just send my players a link to the FREE rules.
  • Rules-light (OSR FTW), but has enough (easy to understand) systems so you feel covered when a player tries one of the more common SciFi tropes (hacking, space combat, modding guns, adding cyberware, etc)
  • Easy to house rule
  • A lot of supplemental material to build on
  • Compatible with a number of OSR content: re-flavor your favourite B/X dungeon when your players unexpectedly decide to explore those alien ruins.
  • Built to run sandboxes, and run them well (but, of course, you could totally run a more "linear" game very easily)
  • This has more to do with sandbox style, but, as the GM, I am just as surprised and delighted as the players by what each new session reveals about the Sector, its planets, and the people (and aliens) that inhabit it.

The "base" game is great for debt runner, space opera, hard scifi, gritty scifi, etc. It has a section for running heroic scifi, transhuman campaigns, or science fantasy (check out "The Codex of the Black Sun" for magic and magic classes). If you're a GM, get this game just for the system neutral tools.

Again, I love the OSR, and this game captures the OSR spirit while not feeling like just a B/X retroclone. It has a number of modern touches that make it appeal to players that want character mechanics, skill checks, and a clear resolution mechanic. For the GM, it makes it super easy to create interesting situations for our players to stride, stumble, and bumble into; and its systems give you a nice backstop to referee from, but not so much that you're prevented from making rulings or keeping the fiction flowing.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition (Free Version)
by Aaro S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2019 11:06:48

Some comments after several months of play (as a player):

  • Writing is solid and easy to read, "look and feel" is professional. Understanding character generation and other mechanics in general does not cause problems.
  • Variety of backgrounds and foci, adding flavor to characters is feels easy.
  • Space combat mechanic is quite nice.
  • Setting is fun and allows versatile scenes.

I have felt there is only very few issues with mechanics. The one thing that bugs me most:

  • After a while, using the same skill for ranged weapons and ship-to-ship combat ("Shoot") tends to cause suspension of disbelief problems and makes a bit boring play. (Characters that are good with rifles or bows tend also to be the best ones targeting missiles while shipboard.) To lesser extent, same applies to piloting (riding a horse and flying a ship are practically the same, .. err.. urmm...). If I were to GM a SWN campaign, I would institute some house-rules to differentiate between the two: perhaps split the skills ("Shoot" and "Ship weapons" maybe), or add penalties when applying them in drastically unfamiliar circumstances / would require specialized training that character does not have (similar to powered armor rules).


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition (Free Version)
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition Art Pack
by angela d. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/28/2019 12:35:27

Great!! Thanks a lot, as for the Godbound art pack



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition Art Pack
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Godbound Art Pack
by angela d. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/28/2019 12:33:56

Great art pack, thanks a lot for these beautiful illustrations, and thanks to the Kickstarter for allowing the distribution of these illustrations



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Godbound Art Pack
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