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Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
 
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Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
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Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/08/2021 20:17:04

Originally Published here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2015/05/review-stars-without-number.html

Continuing my deep dive into the OSR-based SciFi games we naturally next come to Stars Without Number. This gem was released in 2011 and was written by Kevin Crawford and Sine Nomine Publishing. SWN is a big book, 254 pages filed with maps, sheets, a great index, but no OGL statement that I kind find. To me this book feels more like the work of hard sci-fi; like that Asimov, Bradbury and Heinlein. Certainly it is epic in scope. There is more of a setting here than other OSR-flavored games, so if you like that, great, if not, well it seems easy enough to ignore.

Chapter 1 covers Character creation. We have seen this all before, but perfect for people new to RPGs or scifi fans new to the Classic 6 Attributes and level/class systems. The classes are the three "archetypes" that you can find in True20 and other games, The Expert, The Psychic and The Warrior. Each has their own advancement table and Hit Die. SWN assumes a 20 level career in case you were curious. Each class also gets their own saving throw tables. There are background packages which can be added to classes to give your character more depth and determines some of their skills. There are also training packages to further define your character. Character creation is a breeze and no one seems to die while doing it.

Chapter 2 covers Psionics. There are quite a lot of psionic powers detailed here. So first thing, if psionics are something you must have in your sci-fi game then please check this game out first. Powers as expected have point cost values. Psionic points always give the powers a different feel for me than magic, so this is another plus really. These powers are not merely reskinned spells, they have been redone to fit within the mythos of the game better.

Chapter 3 details all the equipment you will need including the Tech Level of the equipment. D&D would be tech level 1 (or so) while we are at TL 3. The game is set at TL 5 with some artifacts at TL 6. Time Lords are hanging out at 7 or 8 I would say. D20 Future and Traveller also use a similar mechanic, so if you want to see how they can also work, checking out those games is advisable. The standard batch of weapons and armor from sticks and stone all the way up to energy weapons are discussed. AC is descending by the way. What is really nice about this game is in addition to lasers, energy swords and computers it also includes Cyberware.

Chapter 4 is the Game Systems chapter. It includes the expected combat, but also a new twist on the skill checks with Target Numbers. Useful if you are using the skills as described here, but it's real utility comes in how flexible it can be. I would have to try it out more, but it's close enough to other skill + die roll + mods vs TN that I can see it's use in a variety of situations.

Chapter 5 covers the history of space of the default campaign setting. Even if you don't use it there are some great ideas here.

Chapter 6 is the Game Master Guide of the game. Deals with running the game and how and where to use skill checks.

Chapter 7 is World Generation which is just FULL of material for any game. While this game has a lot going for it, this is the real gem in my mind. This flows right into Chapter 8, Factions. Factions are important groups. Say a group of allied pirates or smugglers, a government or a band of plucky rebels. Several key factors when creating a faction are given and there is a huge list of sample factions. Chapter 9 discusses what sort of adventures you might be able to have. With Chapters 6 through 8 and all the details they give, running out of ideas is the least of your worries really.

Chapter 10 covers the creation of alien species. First the hows and whys of aliens are discussed; what to use, where and why to use them. Some of this is situated in the campaign setting, but there is some good advice here even if you plan on using your own background/campaign or not even have aliens. Plenty of traits are detailed and how they might combine. There are three alien races detailed. Naturally this flows into Chapter 11, Xenobestiary. AKA the Monster Manual. Again we are given a lot of detail on how make alien beasts and then a listing of several samples. Chapter 12 gives us Robots and Mechs. We have various traits detailed and then plenty of samples. Chapter 13 deals with societies. This might have felt better coming after Chapter 8 really. Chapter 14 has designer notes. I nice little treat to be honest. Chapter 15 deals with the Hydra Sector, or the "Known World" of this game. Instead of countries we have planets. Chapter 16 ends the book with scores of random tables. Create just about anything with a few rolls of the dice. There is a nice Index (sadly lacking in many books) and plenty of maps and blank sheets for characters, starships, and adventures.

Stars Without Number is big. It is a vast game with endless possibilities. If there is a sci-fi property out there chances are good that this game will be able to do it.

My only complaint is a non-existent OGL declaration. Can you do a game like this without one? Maybe, but I would not want to. Plus it makes the game's utility a little less for me.

The game is beautiful and there is so much going on with it that it would take me a number of games with it just to get the right feeling for it. The overall feel I get with this game is that it is the perfect child of Basic D&D and Traveller. So much of what made both of those games so great is here.

Is Stars Without Number perfect? No, not really. But it is really, really damn close and even from a short distance I could not tell it apart from a perfect game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by John R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/03/2021 17:50:49

Kevin Crawford is the best in the business at designing sandbox-gaming tools. This is the gateway drug to Sine Nomine Publishing's library of games, and it's well worth your while. Do consider picking up the revised edition!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by Bradley G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/19/2019 15:59:32

I was really happy with the speed of the printing and delivery of the book and other than a small stain on one page that bled onto the next page i was really happy with the overall conditions the book arrived in.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by pirata n. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/15/2019 13:06:25

Really great scifi sandbox creator game. In this free book, you have the tools for creating your own universe, full of wreid and fun things. The sistem is caind of simple...but thats life. The perfect game, dosent exits.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by Michel V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/13/2019 05:46:45

Real fun Space snadbox RPG which has ample tools for a GM to use to set up the galaxy. The second version is improved.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by CD F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2018 09:49:41

This is a great open ended system that you can make as complex as you want! I have been using it to run adventures. Any flavor of sci-fi can be used but beward at the lower levels, unless you choose the "heroic characters" option, you are in the default "gritty" setting where you can die early.

I got this after watching Adam Koebel on RollPlay. I am running a game on Roll20 and love it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by John M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/23/2018 21:38:39

The book re-uses many of the familiar tropes in tabletop RPGs. I think that Stars Without Number does an excellent job of not only remaining faithful to those tropes, but to add its own flavor into the mix. The storylines involving the use of psychics to effect interstellar space, with a unique twist, was my favorite bit.

"Magic" is kinda Vancian. Ability scores are based on D&D (Strength, Charisma, etc). The encounter generation table is quite useful, even outside of this setting.

I'd recommend this book. You should download it. And why not? It's free. Even if you don't run an encounter using this setting, there's enough material here that it can be inserted into almost any Sci-Fi based rules system, like Serenity, RIFTS, or Starfinder.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by Goran E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/23/2018 15:58:51

Massive work with lots of nice details. It is really designed with a sandbox look at the game universe and it gives a lot of help to maintain the game world feeling right)

System is accessible and coherent. Stats on 3-18 and the usual bonused at both end of that scale.

Character creation is limited to basic classes with a very "old D&D" feeling in a science-fiction setting.

Book gives plenty of ways to add things to a campaign (factions etc), like Traveller and its offsprings but in an easier way.

If i have a complain it would be that' i'd like to have more objects, artefacts and psionics

However, I really llike it.

Best free SF DL I got ever.

Will play it soon.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by David D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/07/2017 12:28:46

'Traveler through the lens of a retro-clone'.

3 Classes to choose from (Warrior, Expert, and, Psychic). Lots of Gear, Starship Rules. A fast and simple core mechanic. All the basics are covered right there.

The best part of the product is the Planet, Alien, and Faction Generators and Rules. Very similar to Traveller in that regard but tweaked enough to make the purchase worthwhile for fans of that kind of game.

Also includes a very limited setting, and an essay on 'Sandbox Play' which is interesting if potentially controversial.

The art is black and white and pretty basic. The PDF is bookmarked



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by Ian N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/20/2017 20:24:30

A big and detailed book explaining all the rules for playing Stars Without Number, a great sci-fi game with elements of old-school D&D. The book includes tons of help for new GMs as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by Alex F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/09/2016 15:53:52

Nice flavour, but overall a sloppy and unfinished looking product. It had good ideas but combined them with an iniability to artciulate them well and make them flow.

Plus it had agod-awful system that was trying to be 'retro' and instead felt cruede and unfinished. The Psionics system was particualrily clunky and felt poorly implmented, like it was bolted on at a later stage.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by jimi r. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/25/2016 22:33:59

It had some readability issues and could have used another pass or two by an editor but once I got the hang of it the system itself is very good.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by Hugh A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/29/2016 07:34:34

An "old school" space opera game with an intriguing mechanism for generating a campaign background. Stars without number is an ideal light to medium weight RPG not least as the price is right so that every player can have a copy of the rules to refer to which can also spark story ideas from other players. On the downside there is no real explanation of how much experience points to reward characters with in a given situation, leaving it to the referees discretion. A good solution could be to encourage PCs to define their goals and reward them for meeting these.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by mark b. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/24/2016 08:15:20

Amazingly well done. Written well enough to start quickly but with the required depth of material to maintain your interest. Even better there is a significant amount of additional material that adds depth to the game in key areas. Of interest this game has been noted to be one of the best solo/solitary RPG's and is played extensively in that community (myself included!). I believe SWN is both so well designed and such an open sandbox universe that any play style is facilitated. Oh, and if your still not sure, give it a read through, its free.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
by Alex L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/04/2016 16:19:14

Excellent product. I have had no issues with the scan quality or file download. It was a quick and painless acquisition. I've been through it dozens of times already and have seen no issues. It is also a huge help as I just started playing in a campaign of Stars Without Number and we only had one book between all 6 of us. Thank you for the time and care spent making sure we get the best product possible.

- Alex

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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