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Universal Decay: Dead Stars Primer
by Ian B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/14/2009 06:40:20
For a free primer this is nearly a complete system.

DEAD STARS uses an "alternate d20" system. This primer apparently lacks artwork and several sections (metasetting??) found in the full system.

Enough to play with. Enough to know it is a very close cousin to d20.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Universal Decay: Dead Stars Primer
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Universal Decay: Dead Stars Primer
by Elliott S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2008 22:06:32
Great system, although the book is necessarily short (but hey, it's free). Good as a trial version of the DSRB, and as something you can hand out to players without requiring them to buy anything, although if I were to run an entire game, I would certainly invest the money to get the full-size DSRB (it's worth the money).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Stars Rule Book
by Joanne D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/02/2006 00:00:00
I bought this to decide if I should shell out cash for the "Character Primer" from the same product line.

This reads as a copy of the d20 SRD with a few minor changes to aim for a sci-fi setting (without using the modern SRD, however) (such as the autofire rules from a dozen other d20-based RPGs). The whole SRD is in there though, so you have to hunt through the whole thing to find out what is different from the core rules - for example, the rules for facing which try to make the game more 'realistic' than the core d20 rules, but the rules for facing exist only in the back of the book, and they are not used at all in the combat section - so while there is facing and rules for where you can and cannot attack based on your facing, there are no rules for changing facing, or attacking a creature from the back, and so on.

. All the while, this sci fi setting comes with a list of diseases straight from the fantasy SRD like demon fever and devil chills and the terror of the space-lanes - mummy rot.

Psionics uses a skill and feats system with Vitality costs, basically an advanced rip-off of the Star Wars force system, but with only 3 skills (in other words, anyone with the psionic feats will have their skill levels maxed in all three skills at each level - never having to decide what is more important or what powers to sacrifice in order to focus on others).

Which brings us to vitality. This game uses the same terminology as other d20 games, but not the same rules. Vitality is different than the vitality in Unearthed Arcana, Star Wars, or Spycraft. In this game, you have to track your vitality expenditures from combat (1 pt every 10 rounds), running or hustling (if you fail a Fort save), and only 1 point every time you suffer a hit that deals hit point damage. Hit points don't go up much as you level up - so a level 20 fighter-equivalent will have 10 hit points more than a level 1. The rules for hit point loss are contradictory - in one section it describes how losing hit points and vitality results in serious levels of fatigue, then later it says that damage doesn't slow you down until your current hit points are reduced to 0 or lower.

On the plus side, it includes rules for creating poisons. However, the rules in either Quintessential Rogue or Poisoncraft are better suited to the job (Poisoncraft is the best product for this, IMO).

In all, a sci-fi campaign would probably be better served by getting the books that do each chapter better than this book does. There are a number of excellent cybernetics products out now, as well as robots, vehicles and so on. The Dead Stars setting is hinted at but has no material within the book, and according to the website will never be completed nor released.


LIKED: There are systems in this book for creating EVERYTHING for your sci-fi campaign - armor, robots, weapons, firearms, vehicles, poisons, nanotech. That in itself is very cool, and can probably be modified to suit your campaign.

DISLIKED: The original material is burried in the SRD material which has been simply cut-and-pasted into place. New rules introduced in the book are not fully introduced - in places where they should be referenced, the material has just been pasted in from the SRD without modification.

QUALITY: Disappointing

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Stars Rule Book
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Publisher Reply:
One thing I feel I should point out: You mentioned d20Modern, Unearthed Arcana, Star Wars, and Spycraft. Most of the rules material in this book was originally creted by me BEFORE those came out (with the exception of Spycraft, which I never got into due to not being a fan of the genre). As for it being a "modified SRD for sci-fi", that is the bare-bones truth. It IS an laternate version of the SRD designed for sci-fi, as it was intended to be. The purpose of the "Universal Decay" serries is to fix and expand on many of the rules holes in this book, hence why THAT set of books is being sold for far below the going rate here on RPGNow.com for a 200-page book.
Universal Decay: Dead Stars Character Primer
by Daniel H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/20/2005 00:00:00
Once more with Dead Stars. The writing is good for the most part; a few spots here and there could serve with adjustment, especially in the timeline section. The art is missing in many cases, and isn't of perfect quality you'd see in a wizards product; but it definitely has style. I like the image of the Serkalth Vanguard standing in a blast crater; gives a nice image of a super-tough beast that your pitiful mortal weapons are useless against. (Or just the right attitude) The Gorbrasch image is pretty much exactly what I envisaged them to be; or at least, thats one possible form I imagine for them.

The modular systems for equipment and quality remain in place; personally, I prefer a modular method based on size and technology. But still, it allows for massive equipment variety, especially compared to the simplistic array of something like 'd20 Sci-fi'.

The Psionics system is reminiscent of Star-Wars d20's Force system, only rebuilt in more effective fashion. Definitely superior to a Mageonics deployment, though it could have helped to make this method just as modular as the equipment.

Overall, there are several things I'd do differently, but this would work excellently for a game, and my problems about it in no way detract from the quality of writing.

DISLIKED: It could use some more art in empty spots so designated; this will doubtless eventually be remedied.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Universal Decay: Dead Stars Character Primer
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Publisher Reply:
The art is all donated, in order to keep the book's sale price down (and because being a small-time publisher I can't AFFORD paid artists). However, anybody that donates artwork I use for the books gets a free copy of whatever book it is used for, as well as byline on the credits page and the art itself (i.e. publicity). Since this is the first half of the soon-to-be-released FULL version, that could save a few bucks. Artists who are used are also asked to contribute to future projects, for which they get preliminary chapters and free copies as well. == I actually came up with the psionics system BEFORE Star-Wars d20 came out, as shown by its presence in the first incarnation of this book years ago. The psionics system was not made modular like the tech system for a simple reason: psionic characters will be using thier powers ALL THE TIME (most especially in combat), while technologist characters will be using the tech system only during down-time. This means that having a modular psionics system would slow down combat and casual action time considerably, so best to just keep it limited to certain categories of well-described effects. == I have playtested the final chapters of the full version, as well as the material in the Character Primer, and soon expect to be releasing the finished (but still in need of art (hint, hint) Dead Stars book in a few months. All I'm waiting on is a bit more art, and tweaking a few chapters.
Dead Stars Rule Book
by Dominique C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/19/2005 00:00:00
This "Dead Stars Rulebook" should have been called "OGL Dead Stars", so people would immediately understand it is a d20 gaming supplement. Since it isn't clear at first sight, I guess that not many people are inclined to download it, even though it is free.

I gave it 5 stars primarily because it is FREE and TOTALLY Open Content. Now if it was sold and Closed Content, it would probably merit only 2 or 3 stars. In fact, the layout and art are poor, which would be a bad point if this book was sold. But as a free document you get 160 pages of densely packed d20 system information that would be of great use in most d20 sci-fi games. Even if you already own d20 Modern / d20 Future, or Traveller 20, or Star-Wars d20, there is useful info in this book. For example, the alien races are much more original and sci-fi than most d20 races I have found for sci-fi games so far. When you know that others do sell a d20 document for just a single d20 race, don't hesitate and download 6 alien races for free with Dead Stars. On the other hand, the 6 character classes are really basic, not "exciting" at all. But with the MSRD and all the free stuff found on the Internet, plus all the modern/sci-fi d20 PDFs sold on RPGnow, you don't need that Dead Star provides you with another set of character classes, or even tries to reprint OGC ones. I will otherwise point out that the technology and equipment section is a good one, that will be useful even to someone using d20 Future for example. So, as it is free, no hesitation: Download it!

Anyway, I think Dead Star Rulebook should be seen more as a toolkit than anything else. It has very little campaign setting info, and while it can be used as is, where game mechanics are concerned, you should better add other material as well (especially character classes).

The only persons who will find little use in downloading Dead Stars, are those who can spend money on commercial supplements, and want something immediately usable rule and setting wise, and don't want to bother make their own houseruling and homebrew. Now, if you are in the process of creating your own d20 sci-fi game/homebrew don't wait! Download it right now!

LIKED: A mine of info and idea all OGC and totally free!

DISLIKED: Given it is free, I dislike nothing. Given it is free, I don't care about dense text, poor layout, and near abscence of art.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Stars Rule Book
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Publisher Reply:
I'm trying to make it a policy not to reply to ANY comments (a policy I'm having problems with anyway), but I felt that I really should in this case. Just to clarify a few things. Firstly, this was never intended as a stand-alone book. The idea was to give the BASICS of the setting and new SRD-based rules set away, then sell the particulars in the form of a campaign setting/suppliment book. During the development of the setting book, custome feedback on the DSRB could be used to improve it as far as the book's mandate woud allow, and by extension the setting book as well. But life is never like we plan for, is it? So now I am in the process of rolling the material developed for the setting book, and the improvements slated for the DSRB, into a new book called "Universal Decay". Comments like this one, and those e-mailed to me directly, have gone into improving the new version. About what is going to be in "Universal Decay": * More and better artwork. I've gotten the cover and a few internal pics in already, and they are PHENOMENAL. * Greatly expanded details on the "Dead Stars" default setting. As well as expanded notes on conversions to other settings. * The six basic classes are still there, but with small balance tweaks made to them and more flavor added (including premade examples). There are also more prestige classes as well. * The technology system has been tweaked somewhat, and MUCH more material added! * A section on space and stellar bodies that could be used as a course primer for planetary studies. What can I say: I'm a closet space nut. * The races that Dominique was so impressed with have had not only their culture and psychology greatly expanded, but also have more detial on how they fit into the "Dead Stars" setting. I better have improved it greatly, after all I'll be charging for it!
Dead Stars Rule Book
by Ryan R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/13/2004 00:00:00
I've been playing D20 for a while. And nearly all would agree we need a good solid system for Sci-Fi. If you are looking for good SOLID sci-fi, Then Dead Stars is it. The system is a little more streamlined, holds well to firefights and building ships just as well. The point based system is nice, though I like my players to have a more heroic stance, so I upped the stats bit in mine a couple points (I like heroes, not average joes for the most part). Gear was good, and I liked being able to customise armor and equipment, and even bioware. You can set up things how ever you want, and it will pretty much be balanced across the board.

While the setting is set toward HARD SCI-FI and horror, the system runs smooth enough to be used for any sci-fi campaign. Though the system could use a couple of calc's to double check work on building items, thats about the only thing I can see that I was taken back by. Couple of typo's, but then who doesnt have those? I sent in my recomdndations for changes, and got ready, helpful responces to all questions. This system lends itself well to other settings like Dragonstar and just about any of AEG's settings. My group is planning on using in for a sci-fi swawshbuckler coming up here soon. So this system is ruels flexible.

I dont know how the clown was who double posted, citing his own post as someone else below here... Thats not polite not helpful to anyone looking to truly find a system they came to RPGNOW to purchase from. I ask that you disreguard it and look at the product yourself, you'll see that its solid, being supported, and flexible for most settings in a variety of ways. <nods>



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Stars Rule Book
by ihate s. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2004 00:00:00
I'm with the previous guy. The book itself is pretty bland. I mean, none of the much-touted ideas really lives up to their potential, so the $0 price tag is the least the author could do.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Stars Rule Book
by Christine E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/17/2004 00:00:00
A bit meh. Reasonable system, good ideas...and not enough setting.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
As I stated in the book's Introduction, as well as the purchase page, this is NOT a setting book. That should be out sometime this summer.
Psionics Companion 3.5
by ERIC W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2004 00:00:00
Good stuff. Makes a psionic character worth playing again.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Companion 3.5
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Publisher Reply:
I appreciate the kind words, they seem few and far between. Could you say WHAT you liked specifically so that I can be sure to keep it up?
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