I recently purchased this book. I bought the Hardcover version as well, but for now I can only comment on the PDF.
Simply put, Thousand Suns is a Imperial Science Fiction game using the 12° system.
For those of you not familiar with this system, it uses two twelve sided dices (2D12) for all rolls. You determine a target number by adding an ability (average of 6) and a skill (variable value). For example, a Dexterity of 6 and a Shoot of 6 will give you a Target Number of 12. When you roll, you need to roll equal or under the target number. So in the previous example of a target number of 12, you need to roll from 1 to 12 to succeed. The amount by which you succeeds becomes your degree of success.
I have to say that I am not a fan of systems using a roll low approach, but it works somewhat neatly anyway.
The book starts with character creation. You can build any character you can imagine in such a setting, from a grizzled army veteran to a frail scientist. The character creation is based on choices and is NOT class-based, which I like. You start will a pool of 30 points to choose your abilities between Body, Dexterity, Perception, Presence and Will. Then you basically go through phases to choose what your character will be. Each choice adds to your skills and attributes.
The phases are:
- Determine Ability Scores: Divide 30 points between the character’s five abilities.
- Select Species: Choose the character’s species. Spend the bonus points listed under the “Traits” section of the species on abilities and/or skills of one’s choice.
- Select Homeworld Package: Choose one homeworld package for the character.
- Select Career Package(s): Choose three levels of career packages for the character.
- Create Hooks: Decide on five hooks for the character, one based on his species, one based on his homeworld, and three based on your his career(s).
- Benefit Points: Determine how many benefit points the character receives and spend them.
- Finishing Touches: Give the character a name, age, and gender.
You do not have any freebies after this to add to your character so you must choose wisely. Some choices you make can give you some free points to spend on skills and attributes.
I like this approach to character creation which reminded me of lifepaths.
In the Gamemaster section is presented numerous options to make the setting what you want it to be. The author claims that the first part of the book was left deliberately free of setting-related information so the Gamemaster may plug his own setting in. It is somewhat true, if the GM decides to replace races and a few character options (such as languages which are already tied in to the setting).
Then the Author gives the Gamemaster a run down of what his setting is. It is brought forward in a fashion that helps understand why such and such choices were made. It also gives the GM the opportunity to choose between and Empire or a Federation to be the ruling body of the setting. It is a very interesting option for GMs!
The setting itself is your usual Imperial Sci-Fi background, with old federations, civil wars, first contact and such. Note that Terrans (or humans) are considered to be on top and the Federation/Empire of the Thousand Suns is top dog. No other Alien race is more powerful (or at least not yet...).
[My Take on it]
Overall, the product is well made. The layout is well done and the art is mostly decent. As for the writing, I have not spotted many spelling errors (but since I am French, what do I know?).
I will need to delve further into it and playtest it, but so far so good.
[Differences with the old Edition]
This is basically the revised edition that was published by Rogue-Games. The layout is way better, the rules are better explained. Psionics are embedded in the basic system and appears to be working fine. Overall, it is a far superior work that its last iteration