We started playing Stars Without Number, a D&D meets Traveller retro-style game last Friday night. It’s free for the PDF version, or you can buy it in softcover or hardcover from the link. The mechanics are simple old-school D&D with a simple skill package system. It was dead easy to teach the kids, and my friends, since rolling up a character and choosing a class is the same as what they’re used to from D&D. That’s pretty much the reason I chose this, instead of trying to teach them Zap!, my own take on SF RPGs. One thing that would make generating a character quicker would be for me to print off multiple copies of the skills section and equipment… and possibly even make a set of starter equipment “kits” so they don’t have to comb the lists looking for what they might want to buy. One thing that would be nice would be a comprehensive equipment list, instead of it being divided into a number of tables by type, one table for primitive weapons, one table for energy weapons, one table for exploration gear, etc.
All in all, it went pretty smoothly for what was their first non-D&D game ever. They all seemed to like the Stars Without Number setting, and found it easy to get the hang of. I don’t think we’re going to be running it in a particularly sand-box style, even though that’s probably SWN’s biggest strength; the players had already told me they’d really prefer to be given discrete missions, so they know what they have to accomplish and there’s a definite goal for the evening’s play. So I just began the session with them all stuck on a backwater world, trying to scrape enough creds together to book passage out, and get approached as a group by a Xenoarchaeologist who was worried that he wasn’t able to establish contact with the base camp that his daughter and the workers she hired had gone ahead to set up near some of the ancient alien ruins that dotted the planet.