Every so often you come across a product that is so different than the rest it is hard to know what to do with it. +trey causey's Strange Stars is not exactly that. Strange Stars is a product so different it is hard to know what I can't do with it.
The book is a joy to look at. Yes it is only 32 pages with cover, but each page is so rich with art and color it must have cost a lot to make. Since art is important to how this book can be used it is a better investment than say page after page of text.
Let's start with that cover. There are homages to late 70s, early 80s sci-fi shows and movies. I can feel the influences of Star Wars and even Jason of Star Command here. Not to mention the obvious, but loving, nod to the classic Star Frontiers. Really, I should be able to buy that as an art print for my game room. I put that cover up there with some of the best RPG covers ever.
Strange Stars is not a game itself, but a setting book for other sci-fi games. Not just the OSR-flavored ones of my last few reviews, but any sci-fi game. As a mental exercise I kept asking "can I use this in Traveller? Star Frontiers? Alternity?" most times I was saying yes.
The book starts out with a historical overview of the setting. The "Ancient times" in this case is humanity leaving "Old Earth". So already this is a setting far flung into the future.
Various forms of life are introduced, or Sophonts. This can be your garden variety human or other life form that is mostly biological, self-aware robots, or AIs. Or, most likely some combination of the above.
Really a couple of the great features of this book are not chapter by chapter but concept by concept.
Free of system Causey's mind rushes down dark un-explored pathways, strange lands and truly alien worlds. BUT, and this is very important, this not so far removed from our experiences to be really out there. There are roots here. Roots with names like "Star Crash" and "Buck Rodgers" (the TV series on NBC, not the serials) and "Logan's Run". Jenny Agutter's "Jessica 6" practically jumps off of page 12.
Speaking of which, the characters here BEG to be stated up for your favorite system. Siana Elizond, the previously mentioned Jessica 6 clone, is more interesting in a picture and paragraph than some characters with pages and pages of back story. Plus I can't help but think that Elphaba Mandrake was made as a personal challenge to me!
So yes. The page count is small, but it is chock full of great ideas, eye catching art and more than enough to get you going on a campaign set out among the stars.
You can find Trey at http://sorcerersskull.blogspot.com/
[5 of 5 Stars!]