So, last night we played our first session of Cosmic Patrol, which promises to deliver old-timey rocket and raygun type science fiction fun. And it does, in spades.
Cosmic Patrol is significantly different from other RPGs in a couple of ways. First, it is set up for immediate, no prep play. All we did was print out a few of the pre-gen character sheets, pick a scenario from the back of the book , and we were off to the space races. Easy peasy.
Secondly, it is designed for the role of Gamemaster (or Narrator in CP speak) to be rotated around the table during play. Each adventure scenario is split up into multiple scenes. One player takes the role of Lead Narrator and sets the scene for the rest of the players. Then, play goes around the table, with everyone taking an action, including the Narrator who has a PC of his own. When the scene is resolved to everyone's satisfaction, the role of Narrator passes to the next player, who sets the scene and runs that until it is also resolved, and so on. I was skeptical about this way of playing at first, but seeing it in action, it really makes for a fun session of gaming.
Characters are defined by a handful of attributes, which are represnted by a die type (d4, d6, d8, d10 or d12) To do something, roll a d12+your die type vs. a d20 rolled by someone else, which can have mods applied to it by the Narrator. Beat the number and you succeed! Combat is even simpler with the player rolling his Combat die vs the NPC's Combat die, beating the NPC's roll to do damage. Every character has pips of armor and health, and you lose these as you take damage. The more damage you take, you start to take penalties to your die rolls.
Characters are also defined by a number of tags and descriptors that help define the character and what his or her attitudes and personality are like. There is no game mechanic attached to these and they are there merely to help the player get into character.
And finally we get Plot Points, which are tokens each player has to let him change elements of a scene. These can be used to regain health or armor, as well as change the scene around the characters. Say you're facing down a dread space crocolisk. You might spend a plot point to say there is an open hatch above the beast that you could try to leap to to escape it. Or another player might spend one to say that not only is there a Crocolisk, but now the walls are closing in on you! Either way will definitely add to the fun of the session. Plus, for every point a player spends, the Narrator gets a point to spend on the scene as well!
In closing, Cosmic Patrol is a hoot to play. The rules are very barebones and easy to use, and the play is smooth and very creative and fun! An excellent game for when you have no time to prep and don't want to have to resort to busting out a boardgame instead. Plus the mechanics of the game really could lend themselves to any genre of roleplay you like, if you were so inclined. Go buy this, strap on your Atomo-Lift Pack, and blast off for adventure!