Are you an old-school gamer, or a new-school gamer? I’m the Level One Wonk, and I consider myself both, which may be why I enjoy this week’s game so much. Today we’re going to talk about Stars Without Number, a game designed by Kevin Crawford. Crawford has released many games through his Sine Nomine Publishing imprint, which are all built around similar design principles: hackable sandbox experiences with an old-school heart. Games like Godbound, Scarlet Heroes and Stars Without Number are all designed to bolt right in to both old-school D&D and its retroclones, but these games are no mere clones. While Stars Without Number has characters with six familiar stats, saving throws, classes, and levels, it stretches the D&D framework quite far. As you may be able to guess from the name, Stars Without Number is a science fiction game.
“I’m writing this anonymously, because I’m spilling some secrets that aren’t supposed to slip out. Just know that I’m on the right side of true history – whatever TimeWatch says it is – and I’ve done my best to make that happen. And if I screwed up a few times? Well, no one’s perfect . . .” So begins the blurb on the back of a manuscript that has recently fallen into my hands, a century and change after a TimeWatch agent delivered it for publication and the entire print run vanished months later. It’s been out again for more than a year now, though, so apparently whoever made it vanish from the time stream didn’t manage to do so a second time around. Before history gets rewritten once more and I forget I ever read it, let’s review The Book of Changing Years from Pelgrane Press!
“Welcome to the Halcyon City MegaMall. We are currently experiencing a metahuman event. Please evacuate. Welcome to Halcyon City MegaMall . . .” The standard prerecorded warning announcement echoed through the wide corridors and plazas of the MegaMall, abandoned packages here and there on the floor. The only person in sight was a single extremely bored-looking security guard sitting at an information kiosk, idly flipping through a magazine, apparently heedless of the warning announcement. Aside from the lack of shoppers and scattered goods there was no sign of what sort of event might be going on – until the glass storefront of a shop exploded outwards as CryptoHertz and Spitfire were sent flying backwards through it.
Welcome back! I’m the Level One Wonk, and this week I’m being totally down to Earth. Fact is, we live on a pretty interesting planet, and if you’re running a game that concerns itself with the past, present, or future of humans as we know them, you may be running a game using actual places. Depending on your disposition, using the real world as a basis for your games can either be way easier than worldbuilding, or way more difficult. Everything in the real world is “written” for you, which can be a boon to those of us not predisposed to improv…but on the other hand, the idea of doing research to run a game rubs a lot of people the wrong way. However, no matter the preference, anyone can run a fun game in the real world, or something like it.
It was a normal enough day at Arasaka Base, a hobby and game store located in one of the suburban areas of Halcyon City. Prospective buyers walked the aisles, a few gamers were trying out a new card game, and proprietor Chase was manning the front counter and reading a magazine. A breaking news report on the counter’s television caught his eye, though: the Vespamancer was apparently attacking the Halcyon City Eastern Bank. Somewhat half-heartedly looking around to see if anyone would be able to hear, he reached over and picked up a landline phone: “Hey, guys, think you’ve got some work to do.”
Welcome to Adventure Log! While the Borrowed Time may have finally run out, there are still new adventures to be had around every corner. Today, we move from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away to a distant world, where empires have crumbled and the planes themselves are opening passages between dimensions. There may be dungeons, and there may be dragons, but not everything is as it seems.
Welcome back to Level One Wonk, where it’s time to go back to the Dark Future! We’re substituting the interface plugs and cyberarms for a whole new Slack as we check out The Veil: Cascade. This supplement not only advances the timeline on PbtA Cyberpunk game The Veil, but also adds a whole slew of new settings, playbooks, and rules tweaks for upload. After reading, it appears that Fraser Simons and his contributing authors were not only thinking outside the box, but have gone so far as to delete the box with no chance of data recovery.
A circle of druids who champion decay as part of the natural order, with fungal spores and a sometimes strange relationship with the undead. An archetype of fighter who apply overwhelming strength and persistent durability to simply overcome their foes. A tradition of wizards that champion innovation and experimentation in magic who are regarded as (and just might be) utter lunatics. We’ve got our first Unearthed Arcana of 2018 folks, and so we have Three Subclasses to check out!
The cargo hold of the Sleight of Hand looked more like the mustering area of a troop transport than a light freighter or smuggling vessel. Nearest to the rear hatch Lt. Averre’s small SpecOps team were professionally checking their gear and charging weapons in a small circle, mostly quiet. Most of the deck was taken up by the infantry squads that had come from Bolthole Station and trained with Shikte and The Wookiee; they were either playing cards, sprawled out sleeping, or working on a blade or a scope depending on their mentor. The recruits from the Sullustan Resistance were mostly checking and assembling grenades, Dohl Che’qy’to overseeing it from a tall crate while eating a piece of fruit. Meanwhile, up in the crew area and the bridge, the so-called crew of the Borrowed Time tensely waited through their journey to the Mustafar system.
Greetings all, and Happy New Year! The Level One Wonk has returned, emerging wide-eyed and determined to face 2018 down! Of course, New Year often means new games. Like I mentioned in the Holiday Special, I’ve wanted to find good write-ups of new RPGs available on Kickstarter ever since Kickstarter began absorbing strangely large quantities of my money back in 2014. While some of these sorts of articles do exist, they are either irregular (covering only Kickstarters relevant to the topic of a given blog as an example) or short-form (there are good Kickstarter threads on RPGnet, but with a max post count north of 1000 these can be quite tough to track with). So I’ve taken it upon myself to plumb the depths of Kickstarter looking for new games.