Starships & Spacemen 2nd Ed. Product Review

AZ_GAMER's picture
December 8, 2012 - 6:31pm
I have to start by saying that I downloaded the PDF but there is a hardcover version that I have seen pictures of that looks simply awesome in print.

Starships & Spacemen was an early science fiction roleplaying game designed that was heavily based on the original star trek series. Goblinoid Games recently acquired the rights to the game and has produced a second edition game. I picked up the PDF version at Drive Thru RPG a few days ago when I was purchasing my copy of Bare Bones Fantasy from DWD Studios. Starships and Spacemen uses the labrinth lord game system which from what I can see looks very much like oeriginal Dungeons & Dragons in the way its mechanics work. In one way that is a good thing because it is a familiar and easy system. However have become spoiled on D100 that it seems like there are too many dice involved (LOL). Anyway, the game mechanics are very rules light and leave a lot up to the Game Master (called Star Master) to resolve for themselves (which is also the manner I prefer). The setting is very very much a straight forward unappologetic clone of Star Trek. They have changed the names and some minor details as well as creating a whole lot of new content which was quite refreshing. It was cool to see all the details and plots from the movies and television show in the setting. With the details and names changed it was fun to see all the little plots and concepts described in new way. Now here is one thing that I really liked, the setting and rules were a little ambiguous so the reader could interpret alot of things with their own imagination which is a good way for a game system to do things. An over detailed game system leaves no room to grow and a setting that is based on Star Trek is super heavy on the details.

Now the one big disappointment I had was with the Starship Combat game rules. I think a few additional pages should have been devoted on the subject. I did really like their idea of energy use for all activities in the course of a day so it requires the player to budget their energy resources. Normally I don't like energy allocation systems because they are way too complicated with lots of rules and charts to keep in mind (I.E. Starfleet Battles & Battletech). The more math I have to do in the game less fun it becomes in my opinion. The S&S 2E keeps the energy use system easy and straight forward with only about a dozen areas for possible allocation and only about four small charts to use for combat resolution (that includes both combat and energy allocation). Things are tacked in both interstellar scale and individual scale when not at FTL. The interstellar travel rules are interesting and have a lot of merit. The movement rules at STL for starship movement and combat rules seem to be cinematic style and are almost non-existent. I do recommend house rule revisions for this. While their STL combat rules are super easy, relying on energy allocation rules, they do not provide a real sense of strategy or tactics. When dealing with Starships, especially as powerful as the ones found in Star Trek, it is understandable why details would be light as any successful hit on an unshielded ship could be its last. There are five starship classes which appear to be descriptions taken right out of the Franz Joseph technical manual. 

Interior art work is black and white and some pieces are exceptionally well done in the classic old school feel. Others however were not as intersting or impressive. I honestly would have liked to see more art in the rule book. I understand art is expensive but it really does make the product and convey the ideas being described in the rules. Yep, I do like books with pictures (LOL).

Overall this game looks like a lot of fun and very customizable and open ended. I give it a very good rating and hope that you will take the time to look into it as well!