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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition (Free Version)
by Tyler L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/11/2018 12:48:14

Stars without number is a fantastic game that I'd reccommend any fan of RPGs and Sci Fi to play. That being said, I will not give it a 5 star rating for only a couple reasons. First I provide evidence to why my opinion is valid, and then I will present the couple of issues that I had with it. Bear in mind that this is my opinion, and I do, still love the game quite much. Now, to get started

  • MY OPINION = VALID: This is the narrative to how I arrived at my rating decsision. If you want to see only my end result of thoughts, please look below this area. So, as with most people who have played a certain games' opinion is valid, I believe mine is as well. Me and my group of friends played this game for about 1 entire year, and we loved it. We played it in a strange fashion however. We had gotten bored of playing fantasy (we've played DND for over 8 years at this point) and I have most often been in the dungeon master seat. I was also getting bored of running only fantasy games. One of my friends told us about STARS, and we decided to play the game in a one-shot fashion. So, I read a good portion of the book, prepared some ready-to-hand-out characters. We were quickly in love with how much tension the system provides, and we decided to keep playing the game in episodic fashion. Every week we'd pick a random day in between our normal game session, and we would play an 'episode' of the game, which the players and I as the GM, loved. We did this all year.

    Now, we eventually stopped playing it, and I will tell you why. We had played the game with a series of episodes, which the players would pick from a group of pre-made characters, and complete whatever 'mission' the CEO of their company told them to do. They would do this however they'd like, and sometimes would take unexpected twists and turns to accomplish their objective. It was a little bit more narrow focused than most of my games, but it seemed the group liked that direction. Then, one day, my one player asked the question that would later be associated with dread for the entire group. . . "Can I make my own character?"

    Now, normally this question would not be a problem, if the rest of the group was not already in love with the way the game was set up. They were pre-made operatives. Everyone had become attached to the characters that they played each week, and the atmosphere was team oriented in game. Everyone was a specialist. However, a player convinced me that he would be more attached if he made his own character, which, despite the nature of this game in particular that we were running, I allowed him to roll his own. I realize this was a pivotal mistake with OUR experience with STARS. He ended up creating a psionics character, which I had made any as part of their team. And for a reason. One of the players in the group was known as Doctor Emmis. He was a combat medic, he saved the other players' lives while putting his own at risk. The player that played him loved that character and gave him a lot of personality. Now, the psionics character that was made, was a healer as well. But it wasn't just that. His character was so unbelievably good at healing, that he could bring people back to life and what not. He eventually gained the ability to regenerate decapitated creatures. The player playing Emmis felt that his character was now, wholly underpowered, undermined by the psionics mechanics, and I can see why. A few weeks after this new character, we got disinfatuated with the game and stopped playing.

    After looking back at the psionics rules, it seems obvious to me that they are overpowered. If you aren't playing a psionics character, you're missing out on some strength. Sure, maybe you won't have as many skills, but that does not matter, you will more than make up for it by being stronger than everything else. Now, on to the more objective stuff.

    • THE GOOD - THE BAD - AND THE UGLY - In this section, I will highlight what I like, dislike, and hate about this system.

    • GOOD - Stars without number is, well, a fantastic system overall. The combat is more streamlined due to people not making multiple attacks, damage dice rolls being mostly condensed, and the hitpoints not being superbly over-inflated. All of that, and the character creation is stellar. It really sells that you are creating some science fiction person with a history. The weapons are cool and fleshed out, and various mechanics allow things not usually present. Also some innovative mechanics such as "Once Per Scene," abilities make it easier to keep track of otherwise boring tediums, while still allowing people to have decent resource management. Skills also function a little better than in other d20 systems, where instead of rolling a d20 it is 2d6, so its much more averaged out. There is less chance of an idiot at a skill succeeding something they shouldn't, and those that are good at something are more likely to succeed. That's pretty cool. Also it has skill points, so you feel more invested when you level up. That is more subjective, but I know tons of people who miss games giving them skillpoints. The games' character customization is modular, allowing you to create whatever you want without having to pidgeon hole yourself into some stupid archetype that you don't want all the abilities from like in 5e. It also provides tons and tons of GM tools to run an awesome game.ONE MORE NOTE: Ship combat is cool, nuff said. So, overall. . .
    • Streamlined Combat
    • Superb Character Creation
    • Looks and Feels like sci fi
    • Variety of weapons/backgrounds
    • Melee combat fits in
    • Once Per Scene abilities are great!
    • 2d6 for skills is a massive improvement over a d20.
    • Skill points!
    • Character customization +++
    • Ship combat finally done right.
    • GM Tools are fleshed out.
  • Bad - As with all things, there are some faults with this system. Combat, although streamlined, has its various issues, mainly with immersion becoming problem, and just overall awkward design philosophy. First off, just like most d20 systems, it operates with the 6 second turn rule, meaning, one round (composed of everyones' turns) takes place over the course of 6 seconds. This means that whatever your character does, it happens in 6 seconds, every single turn. Now, for a game like 5e or other medieval fantasy d20 games, this is okay, it is fine, but the way STARS is presented, I think this harms the game at it's core. So, essentially you can fire in burst mode, or regular mode. Thats three bullets, or one, for your attack with many weapons. Other weapons it's just one shot per round. If you have a head on you, I think you may figure out the issue with this. No one with a fully automatic weapon will fire only one shot over the course fo six seconds. It is ridiculous. It is not that it breaks the games balance, but it really does destroy the immersion. The problem with this is that I don't know how I would fix it without completely redo-ing things or adding some arbitrary ruling here and there. But, you can look past these things to enjoy the game. Another minor complaint is that the way the skill points work would allow you to level up a skill to 4 (max) very quickly, which can hurt a games' progression system. The maker seems like he noticed this, so he put in an arbitrary level requirement to reach certain skill levels. This is okay, but it kind of puts a weird blockade on doing things, and I think it could be done a better way if it was thought about more. Last but not least, skill points. It is awesome that they are in the game, but they are done awkwardly. I had to, several times, re-explain the whole 0-4 skill progression to the same players, as the book did not explain it easily enough for them. Also, it costs the skill + 1 to level up, and that was the main source of confusion. I know I may sound scatterbrained, but it is a glaring issue that can slow down the game. So, overall . . .

    • Awkward gunplay
    • Progression is awkward.
    • Skill points, while great, are presented in an awkward way.
  • UGLY - So, there are a couple of things that eat away at me in this game. Things that make me not want to pick it up as much as I did when I first got it. Most of these are avoidable, but if they are let in to the game, in my opinion, they destroy it. First, and quite literally, foremost, are the 'casters,' of the book. The psionics. They are unquestionably broken beyond belief. You can play a regular character which needs crazy expensive high tech gear to break through a wall, or you could be a decent psionic who can just R.A.W. rip through the wall. You can play a hardened combat medic, slowly churning through supplies to keep your teammates alive, or you can be a decent psionic, and reattach heads of fallen comrades without expending real reasources. Now, this wouldn't be a problem, as there is a resource called 'effort' which limits the amount you can do these things, but the power difference of these abilities versus being slightly better at shooting, are just astronomical. I think we can pinpoint just how it happened this way too. AC's never get to a ridiculous level in this game, so, as you level up, you just become crazy good at hitting your target. Your Base attack bonus makes sure of it. Even a psionic with skill 2 in ranged ends up with like a +10 to hit, which at that point being a warrior type doesn't change much. Psionics are too good at all the other things. If they are to be as powerful at psionics as they are, they need to be hindered in other ways. There is a reason in RPGs why you can't play a wizard wearing platemail with a greatsword, at least not without expending tons of resources to do so. It's just too easy to be good at other things to justify the strength of the psionic. A way to fix this might be to tone back the attack bonus scaling. We found while playing, the people getting the hit bonus every level hit almost every time, and so did the psionic character with his gun. Raise some AC's, lower some Hit bonus scaling on the psionics, or just scale back their power. Now that's my main complaint of this game, but I want to touch on a couple more things. The hacking systems and other skills, are neat. I am glad they are in the game, but its' also just, well, underwhelming as a player. For example, in order to appropriately hack, you need to premeditate it for some long period of time. I know, it makes sense, but if you're trying to run a game and you want to play as some master-hacker type person, or making a quick decision to hack into something, the game doesn't support that very well, and it doesn't have a reason not too. Most of the time in an RPG, the players aren't going to want to take a one week break so the hacker can plan his hack, and that can be frustrating for the person who wants to live that fantasy. That's my main example. So, last but not least, there are the special items. The magic items of the game. Most of them are straight up game breaking, and as such, will not be used very often by many people. I can't really remember, but one of the items was a 'black spike,' or something like that, and it automatically instantly hacked for you, and kept it hacked forever. Just seems weird is all, I don't know how else to explain it. A lot of the special items and weapons were like this, where as a GM i would be legitimately afraid of what my players would think of doing with these items. So, I just never used them. I came up with my own special items. So, overall. . .
    • Psionics' power scale
    • Some skills seem under-powered, or just awkwardly restricted.
    • The 'magic' items baked into the system are mostly too powerful, such to a point that they are not interesting.

Review Overall, the game is great. It has some glaring issues, but they can be worked around. You can ban psionics, you can avoid putting powerful items into the game. So with that in mind, you can have an amazing experience playing it, but I can't help but think it could have been better if this stuff was baked into the game -properly-



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition (Free Version)
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The Lexicon of the Throne
by Dominik S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/23/2018 04:41:26

As always this is a high quality and useful RPG supplement by Kevin Crawford. I admit of being kind of a fanboy regarding his work and was so excited for this new expansion for the godbound rpg. Alas, I have to admit I am a little bit disappointed, since some of the words, especially the (super cool) Dragon concept word. Just by being a dragon you get automatic boons worth two to three minor gifts for free. On the other hand you are a frigging dragon, so I might be to concerned about balancing issues. Still its something that lessens this otherwise great product in my view.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Lexicon of the Throne
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
by Jonathan P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/18/2018 17:31:00

Stars Without Number is becoming one of my favourite Sci-Fi RPG's. It's game mechanics are simple to grasp, being easy and fluid in play, yet crunchy and satisfying enough to deal with nearly any Sci-Fi setting you want to stomp around in. The default setting is elegant and infinitely expandable. The actual rules are kept firmly in check, making combat deadly and intensely satisfying. Think twice before starting a fight. They end quickly.

If you have a hankering for some 2d6 Traveller style Sci-Fi, with some OSR/3.5 d20 style D&D combat mechanics, this is highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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Godbound Art Pack
by Shawn P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/12/2018 14:12:07

Great art pack, the map-by-country is a nice touch and expecially the artist being contained in the image file name for attribution. It's a very generous donation to small creators to be able to use professional level artwork.

-An Eldritch Dream Games



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Godbound Art Pack
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Stars Without Number: Original Free Edition
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
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Black Streams: Solo Heroes
by Kyle M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2018 22:09:36

This is not a game itself, but a modification to games of a particular subgenre (think OD&D or B/X) so that the math allows a single adventurer to play through older modules. If you like this, take a look at Scarlet Heroes by the same publisher, which takes this and builds a complete game around it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Black Streams: Solo Heroes
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The Lexicon of the Throne
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2018 22:26:54

This is the best system agnostic pantheon and religion generator I have come across. I used it to create two religions using my own pantheon for a homebrew DnD 5e world and it generated two very well fleshed out religions along with a history, heirarchy, rules, punishments, and base of operations. These two religions ended up opposing each other and have basically sparked a campaign for my players. I highly recommend this for the religion and pantheon generator alone. Kevin Crawford never ceases to amaze me at his high quality works and Lexicon of the Throne is a great addition to any Worldbuilding GM's repetoire.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Lexicon of the Throne
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
by Skuuf S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/12/2018 07:16:06

I've been running games every week for 14 years and this is my favorite System/Setting by far. The tools that Kevin Crawford gives to the GM are powerful and freeing. This product is worth the purchase for the Faction system alone. If you want a game that enables you to be creative, and then gets out of the way, this is the one for you. It can also be modded it for a fantasy setting without much difficulty and I currently perfer it to D&D.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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The Lexicon of the Throne
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/16/2018 14:43:23

Another high quality product from Sine Nomine. Lots of fun Words to play with, and the section on creating new Words is great! My favorite bit is the section on Concept Words, like "Lich King" - AWESOME! Also, well made PDF table of contents, which is very pleasing to me. Highly recommend!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Lexicon of the Throne
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition (Free Version)
by Matthew S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/25/2018 20:26:28

The revised edition streamlines skills and adds new features such as drones and the new adventurer class. The Sector generator is always a help, allowing GM's to easily create unique settings. Psionics have changed substantially, now having core techniques and more versitile uses. Can't help but weep at the lack of Mindblades though.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition (Free Version)
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
by Roberto M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/09/2018 21:11:44

I am a longtime fan of the original. The Revised Edition is a vast improvement on the system. Mr. Crawford takes the OSR engine into refreshing territory. They book is worth the asking price just for the advice and the tools it provides. With this game you can pretty much run any sci-fi game you can imagine with it. Easy to modify and house rule, flexible and simple, yet robust. Can't recommend it enough!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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Spears of the Dawn
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/05/2018 06:29:54

Really impressed with the useful tools in here, especially handy random tables. The sensible explanation of how to run a sandbox campaign then leads on to a number of useful tables for generating evocative random locations, cults, tribes, conflicts, and cultures. These tools will allow me to smoothly handle my players running off in any random direction.

The 5 cultures presented are a great mix that are easy to come to grips with. Some other fantasy-Africa products proivde actually too much detail and too many cultures to be easily used.

The written content is definitely 5 stars. I gave 4 stars because the art is wonderully quirky. I like the style, but it is all black and white which nowadays is unexpected (regretably).



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Spears of the Dawn
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Stars Without Number: Original Core Edition
by David D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/17/2018 00:33:28

Stars Without Number is a great accomplishment. Not just for an OSR, but for any RPG.

3 classes (Warrior, Psychic, Expert) supplemented by training and background packages (1 of each) to produce varied characters.

A strong selection of scifi gear and ships. With solid subsystems for customizing your own starship.

The mechanics are a bit clunky by modern standards but smooth by OSR standards. Very playable.

The setting is intriguing but minimal. A galaxy emerging from a dark age. A second chance to create a human Imperium among the stars.

Sector, Planet, Faction, Adventure, and Alien creation subsystems. A wonderful toolbox to build almost anything a GM might need.

A small bestiary and example sector.

A really excellent 'How to GM' section focusing on Sandbox Style play.

Black and white art throughout, very high quality. The PDF is bookmarked.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Original Core Edition
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Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
by Leo R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/16/2018 04:29:09

5 Stars without a doubt. The amount of content you can find within the pages of this book is simply amazing. GM tools for creating your space sandbox (and running it), elegant but simple rules for important scifi tropes/scenarios (mechs, AI, starships, tech equipment, cyberware, drugs, hacking, etc.) and finally a simple method of character creation with lots of options and opportunities for diversification. This is the working mans' space RPG, with a system simple enough not requiring you to spend hours on preparation yet with enough customizability that not every character/situation at the table feels the same after a few gaming sessions. SWN is not a product without its problems though, don't get me wrong. While the authors creativity is unparalleled (at least from my point of view) and they clearly know how to write functional and elegant rules for their game, the presentation of those rules ist somewhat unoptimized. Often one sentence clearly states a rule, while the following paragraph seeks to explain this rule (hint: not needed!) and instead brings up new questions or contradicts the statements made one paragraph earlier. This is but a minor issue, since most rpg books are plagued by these problems, and thus doesn't modify the 5 star rating.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition
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A Brief Study of TSR Book Design
by Ben F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/15/2018 18:44:28

Succinct and useful. Excellent both as a design study and as inspiration for the design-challenged among us.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Brief Study of TSR Book Design
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