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Quick Ship File: Independence Armed Freighter
Publisher: Moon Toad Publishing
by Neil L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/11/2021 14:43:28

The Independence Armed Freighter looks like an ideal ship for players. It actually close to an Armed Merchantman or a Q-Ship, in that it sacrifices 50 tons of cargo capacity for armour and it has lots of pop-up weapons. It’s useful for working in high risk areas. It has 3G and J2 performance so would also make a decent pirate ship. It could be assigned to support a fleet, involved in anti-piracy operations, gun-running or smuggling. The players could even be travelling as the 4 security troops the ship carries and sorting out problems at each port of call. There are lots of possibilities. You get 10 deck plans and a 23 page pdf booklet. The 10 plans are full size, with each deck square around 3.5 cm squared when you display it at actual size. If you want to print them off, you’ll need to find an A3 printer. The ship has 4 decks. You get two plans for the top two decks, one bare and the other cluttered with things that might be present. I thought it was an interesting touch and brought the ship to life. You get three full size plans of each of the two cargo decks, one bare, one with some cargo and one packed with as much as you can fit in. The pdf booklet starts with a short introduction, explaining the ship’s design brief. It’s just a page long and serves to set the scene. I dislike supplements that give several pages of fiction. You’re buying a ship plan, not the introduction to a novel. I thought this was about the right length. The supplement has lots of good quality illustrations. There’s a plan view of the top, bottom, right, the front and rear of the ship with a few pages of text describing what’s on each deck. The large scale deck plans are reproduced at a more useful size. One thing I really liked was they show what each number on the plan is on the same page. I’ve bought ship supplements where you had to scroll down several pages to find what each number represents in the key. There are a lot of views showing the ship in different colours. I liked this, it reminded me of aviation books where they show you several images of a Spitfire in different colours. There’s a plan and side view showing where the weapons are. There are 3D views too, showing the ship in space. You get a worksheet, showing the details of the design. If you wanted to make yourself a pure merchantmen, without the armour and weapons, you can do so very easily. The supplement is very lavishly illustrated, it’s also only $5.43 (£4.02) so about the same price as a a fancy coffee. What are you waiting for?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Quick Ship File: Independence Armed Freighter
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Godstar
Publisher: Zozer Games
by Neil L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/28/2020 14:06:50

Godstar is a supplement for the Cepheus Engine rules. You’ll either need that or a version of Traveller to use this, although it can be adapted for use with other systems. It’s set on a desert world and there are a lot of similarities to Dune. There are, however, no Sandworms so you’ll be able to convince your players to go into the desert. The supplement starts with a brief history of settlement on Aurelia, a few maps of the main locations and an introduction to the planetary environment, the people who live there and maps and statistics of the subsector around it. The factions in the game are treated as if they were people, they have statistics like a player-character and can roll under these statistics to decide whether they have something. So, if a faction has STR of 4, it is comparatively weak and if it wants to force you to do something, it has to roll under 4 on 2D6 to have armed men, weapons and ships to do so. A faction with high SOC has respect, confidence (and support) of others in power. I like this mechanic. If your players negotiate an alliance with another faction that provides extra infantry, that might increase your faction’s STR. Your players will be working for these factions. Character creation is modified to take account of the setting. There are a few additions to the usual rules, such as personal force fields. The consequence is that firearms are less useful than swords, knives and spears, although there are rules and firearms are included.

One thing I really liked was the rules for duelling. If you have used medieval weapons, these feel like a much better abstraction on how one-on-one combat works. It’s worth buying just for this, it’s a much better system than the basic Cepheus rules. There are rules for gladiatorial combat too, based on the Roman model, although with less emphasis on the low status of Roman gladiators. You can be part of a traveling troop of professional gladiators, or take part in a competition as an amateur (and hope you win your first bout). Computers are huge mechanical devices or non-existent (something similar to the Butlerian Jihad in Dune happened in the past). Personal computing and embedded computers in devices just don’t exist, although there are no Mentets in this setting. There are some mystical powers (called Karam) that you could make into Bene Gesserit powers. It’s not Dune, although you could easily adapt it. You have extensive rules for desert survival. You could make a very entertaining game with a few characters in a crashed starship or escape pod trying to get to civilisation. There are plot suggestions and some NPCs to use. There nice pictures, helping you to visualise them. There is no introductory adventure, though. The artwork in this ranges from excellent to OK. There are lots of pictures of desert settings and a few that are really excellent. The illustrations of weapons and the maps are acceptable, but they contrast with the excellent quality in the rest of the publication. There’s nothing I’d characterise as poor.

Bad points: I thought the entry on “playing Gaugamelans” (page 45) was poorly done. Most of the paragraph is a brief history of the race’s interaction with humans, at the end is a sentence with a brief physical description and what changes to statistics are made to play one as a character. Nothing about their personality traits, culture or anything else to bring them alive. The picture looked like a Space Ork from Warhammer 40K with protruding lower fangs. I thought this could have been left out and made into a supplement. Gaugamela is Greek for “uncle”, so it’s either a reference to one of Alexander’s battles or a dig at a family member.

Where Dune uses Arabic words to give flavour, Godstar uses lots of words associated with the Central Asian area, so there’s a Masada and a Ferghana, a Hermon and an Akkadia. Nothing wrong with that, but I thought the Latin city names of Primus, Secundus and Tertius (First, Second and Third) didn’t work. The people of Aurelia are called The Kuban, so I thought they might use Russian (or Turkish) words for their cities. Weapons names are Central Asian. It gives the supplement a nice feel.

The Godstar of the title is little developed. You are free to decide how much to use what information is provided and take your game in whatever direction you please. If you want to use this just for a campaign based on House Atreides versus the Harkonnens, it’s ideal.

It’s moderately priced and you get more than your money’s worth. If you use Cepheus Engine rules, buy this for the duelling and desert survival rules. There are a lot of other useful ideas throughout this supplement that you will adopt for your own games. It’s good value, I'm very happy I bought it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Godstar
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Ships of Clement Sector 13: Strikemaster Class Brig
Publisher: Independence Games
by Neil L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/23/2020 10:27:10

This ship not likely to fall into player's hands (it's a pure warship, after all), but it's got a lot of possibilities. It's a 400 tonne escort, the sort of ship operated by a navy for protection from piracy and general duties. If you don't want to run a navy campaign, it carries 6 troops and a ship's boat. You can have the players sent to defuse trouble on planets (like Star Trek's Away Teams). If one of these turns up on the other side, your players are in real trouble. You get a scene-setting piece of fiction at the start, a history of the ship and an interior description. There's deckplans for the ship and the ship's boat. What really makes this product worth buying is the artwork. Lots of colour diagrams of the ship, pictures of it in action and some very well done 3D art of the crew and interiors. I've seen some RPG art that looked like it was done using 3D female models more suited to the walls of a teenager's bedroom, these people looked like they belonged on the ship. I loved the excellent texture-mapping and incidental details. I think the artwork is what makes this worth buying. There are many supplements that contain shiips you could design yourself, but the artwork and interior plans bring the ship alive.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ships of Clement Sector 13: Strikemaster Class Brig
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Hard S.F. Worldbuilding Cookbook #1: Moons of Gas Giants
Publisher: John Freeman
by Neil L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/22/2020 08:01:21

If you really want to bring Gas Giants alive in your games (and not just as a place to refuel a ship) then this gives you lots of useful ideas. There's a bit of maths if you want to calculate things yourself, but it's not necessary to make use of the product. I liked the table of damage caused by running into micro-meteorites of different sizes and speeds. How may other products give you hard data on the amount of radiation you can take? Perhaps there's something valuable on a moon, but it's in the radiation belt. It's going to cook electronics and defeat your protective suit in 2 hours. How are your players going to get to it? There is some nice colour artwork, and some black and white art that I thought didn't really add to the product, but did break up pages of text. This is not a scenario, but it gives you a lot of ideas to help you make one yourself. Worth paying for.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hard S.F. Worldbuilding Cookbook #1: Moons of Gas Giants
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Starlight Manifesto [Black Box Edition]
Publisher: Dancing Lights Press
by Neil L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/29/2018 15:04:00

If you've never played a RPG, then this isn't for you. If you have, this might be useful for inspriration, but you'll have to do a lot of work to make a game happen. THere are some really nice ideas in here, particularly the game's approach to your skills and skills rolls. The usual "DM of -2 if standing on one leg" tables you find in other RPGs are not here. The focus of the game is on the characters and their interactions with their world. You'll find some ideas for cultures to play. The whole tone is very much in line with Star Trek's Federation's ethics. Whether playing morally good characters is your cup of tea, or whether you'd prefer to play characters more like The Klingons, is up to you and your group. (note, this is not a Star Trek game).

The game does not have any artwork. This makes it cheaper and it takes less space, the author says. I've bought some RPG games where I thought the quality of the artwork was so bad, it ought to have been left out as it made the product worse. However, good artwork can inspire both the players and referees (called The Guide in Starlight Manifesto). The artwork in Traveller helped give their universe a look and feel that was very distinctive. Showing someone a picture of a TIE Fighter or Traveller's TYpe S Scout Courier will inspire them, we are visual creatures.

Artwork can break up pages of text and make it look more inviting to read. I've bought several games because I liked the artwork and wanted to be inspired. I'll happily pay more to help support a decent artist if their artwork contributes a look and feel to a game. Preview Coriolis, Excellium, Polaris or Numenera for good examples of games you'd buy for their artwork. This game feels like they just didn't want to pay an artist.

Starlight Manifesto doesn't have any lists of guns, statistics for vehicles or spaceships, no detailed descriptions of the worlds, nothing about alien animals and plants or any space maps to show the setting. I got really sick of reading "What the (named species) looks like is entirely up to you.....It's more fun to make up something original, so your game isn't the same as someone else's". I personally don't care if my game is the same as someone 4000 miles away, because I'll never know!

I felt that the person writing it had copied and pasted the same text in a lot of places rather than do any creative work. The whole thing has so much repetition in it, you just skim past whole paragraphs. On the other hand, you do get a detailed description of arm-of-service shoulder board colours, complete with medieval heraldic names that add absolutely nothing of value to the game. If the rest was done to this standard, it would have been better, but as it is, it looks odd having a detailed description of something that doesn't matter. I also got sick of reading "Because Starlight Manifesto is space opera..." time and time again.

Personally, I like tables of options as they give you a basis to build your world (or your grav tank or spaceship) . I like star maps, because I don't have to think about what the next world looks like when the players decide to do something I hadn't planned for. A good game designer inspires you to use the game as a basis for your own universe. My version of Traveller is nothing like the original designers intended. Unless you really do like world building, this game doesn't help. If you do like world building, this game doesn't help, as you'll need another game to help you develop worlds to explore.

The text I bought has several typos. There's a huge amount of unecessary repetition that tells you to make it up yourself. Why they ddin't just put that text in once and told you it applies to everything is beyond me. It looks like padding to reach a word count. There's even a recommended play list of music to listen to at the back, but no introductory adventure to get you started.

The author should have got someone to proof read the text and critique the writing style before publishing. Some advice on text layout would also help. This looks like it was typeset in Office 95. On the other hand, it was cheap so good value.

I really can't recommend this as anything more than a cheap source of ideas to use in another game.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Starlight Manifesto [Black Box Edition]
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Alien Breeds
Publisher: Zozer Games
by Neil L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/10/2018 04:36:55

The problem with Aliens (and vampires) is that everyone has seen the movies and knows a lot about how to kill them. If you'd like to include something similar in your RPG, but don't want the players to use that understanding to beat the creatures too easily, this has some useful variations you can use. It comes with a good scenario to use and a nice set of colony plans and maps.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Alien Breeds
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