Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Revisiting The Pay What You Want OSR Space Fantasy Source Book - Bandits And Battle Cruisers For Your Old School Campaign

Grab It Right Over 

I stumbled across the fact that Bandits and Battle Cruisers an old school pulp and comic based inspired space opera add on and cap system for your old school retroclone or OD&D system had gone to 'Pay What You Want Status'. This makes some of the comments about the original price tag of 10.00 originally pointless. 
Bandits And Battle Cruisers is from the same author who does the Underworld Kingdom blog and the highly successful free OSR 'space opera' retroclone OD&D add on Terminal Space. Terminal Space was partially inspired by Lovecraftian horror and science fictional themes there's a Mi Go Warrior as a PC racial class for parties. 
Bandits and Battle Cruisers takes the themes, ideas, and systems that were in Terminal Space and expands on them systemically.  If you've been following my blog here then you've seen me offer free Charlton space comics, 1950's free teen  science fiction and more free science fictional sources  for use with your old school or retroclone systems. 
This is one of those systems that allows you to graft those resources and run a solid evening's pulp science fiction or science fantasy adventure campaign as a one shot or a complete game campaign.
Bandits and Battle Cruisers has many of the systems that you'll need to fully flesh out your old school or retroclone campaign setting with its own rules set but really this is a great add on for a retroclone or OD&D based rpg campaign. 
From The Drivethrurpg blurb : 


Bandits and Battlecruisers is an Old School Role Playing Game, based on Bandits & Basilisks mini-game and the classic Terminal Space supplement. On its 140 pages you will find:
  • Detailed character creation rules;
  • Monster creation aids (plus 18 monsters - not the well-known monsters from the Original Game);
  • Complete rules for creating star sectors, star systems, planets, moons and space stations;
  • Five 100-keyword tables, helpful in designing monsters, robots, civilizations and planets;
  • 100 random space encounters and 100 random space stations;
  • Tools helpful in creating treasure hoards and artifacts (plus 16 sample artifacts);
  • Over thirty random tables;
  • Chapter with a detailed starship creation sequence and starship combat rules (plus over twenty sample spaceships).
Does this game supplement do what it says on the tin? The answer here is yes it does in spades. This system is highly oriented towards pulling from both its comic book and pulp resources and giving you the DM quite a few of the resources that you'll need to fill out the rank and files of a star ship crew in that tradition. Where in Hulks and Horrors is more weird dungeon crawling in space with a crew of aliens. Bandits and Battle Cruisers is more oriented toward dealing up a Flash Gordon or Tom Corbett crew of heroes capable of dealing with some really nasty and dangerous space pirates, cosmic menaces, and the like. This isn't to say that you couldn't use both resources together but it would take some shoe horning of systems.   
For example the B&B system includes a free form PC creation system with mutations to add a flare of the alien if you want to. Why because many of the space heroes of yesteryear were unique heroic individuals with very different traits that created them. Space Heroes from comics and pulps are often one shot rugged individuals who didn't come off of an assembly line. This book allows one to create such PC's and add in a flare of the dramatic. 
There isn't a psionic system and instead we get a spell based backed system which adds in to the OD&D basis for this book and makes things much easier on a DM to add this into a Labryth Lord, Swords and Wizardry campaign or other OD&D based retroclone of their choice. I don't see this as a weakness but a plus.  B&B isn't going to work well with OSRIC without some extensive work but it its generic enough for many of the systems presented to be used with a space based AD&D first edition adventure.
The starship rules are killer and have a whole back section of the book before the page after page of random charts that allow a DM to generate who sections of adventure based locations from space hulks to space stations and other weird as well as woolly star based locations.
This isn't a perfect set of rules and the PDF isn't cross indexed but there's enough material here for me to be forgiving. And while I've read several reviews of the book that point out that there isn't an example adventure included in the B&B rules. I have to ask why? Anyone whose read an old science fiction comic from the 1950's through 1970's has an excellent grasp of what this material is all about. Just put this together and go run this for your players. There hasn't been a better time to be an old school science fiction gamer. B&B even offers a few things that might appeal to a Stars Without Number DM and because of the free form nature of the book I can see using B&B with a number of existing retroclone game systems to create a long sustaining campaign quite easily. 
Can you tell that I want a physical copy of this book instead of a pdf? Yeah its that useful to a DM like me and one that adds in a whole other level of pulp based excitement. Make no mistake this is a shiny pulp tool box that does a wonderful job of creating and generating hours of fun and nastiness right out of the gate. From Flash Gordon to a Guardians of the Galaxy style campaign this one is solid. So glad I took the time to look back into this pdf after so very long.


  1. I'm a fan.

    I don't think it's quite complete as a game, but as a resource it's quite nice. I own a hard copy and am glad to have it in my bag of tricks. It's a fun resource!

  2. I'm thinking of combining it with the Warriors of the Red Planet which is based partially on OD&D and work up an OD&D pulp based campaign rather soon.
    I'm glad that I'm not the only fan of this one. Its great little resource and one that I've got to grab a hard copy of soon.

  3. I have it in hard copy. It isn't a complete game IMHO, but it has some cool ideas and some of the generation tables are pretty cool and useful.

  4. Its definitely on my list of things to get in hard copy soon and its not a copy game but more of a really nice tool box that can be accessed and mined for a variety of ideas such as science fictional adventure locations, monsters, and the like. I'm looking at it for possible use with some of the space based material that Trey has been turning out recently on his blog as well. There's some great stuff there and I think it might compliment some of what already in B&B.
    Thanks for the comment and info Bill. More to come.


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