Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Review Of White Star Rpg System Rising For Revenge Of The Fifth or Your Old School Campaigns

So your a DM looking for a science fiction or science fantasy retroclone system. Are you looking for one that will work with OD&D and Swords & Wizardry? A game that can handle all of the nuts and bolts of cinematic science fiction and allow you to fit your Swords and Wizardry game characters in through the back door easily? You have been recruited for White Star!

Grab It Right Over

  Alright I know what your thinking, oh great another science fiction clone rpg system when your looking at White Star. What does this rpg system do that X plorers, Stars Without Numbers, and Hulks and Horrors do? Well right off the top White Star is cross compatible with the  Swords and Wizardry retroclone system but so what there are more then a few add on systems for that. Well White Star  is pure flat out space opera and emulates films such as Star Wars, the recent Guardians of The Galaxy Marvel movie. I own X plorers and its a great game, it is a fast, very concise set of rules that takes PC's into the great beyond ala a Saturday matinee. Stars Without Number is complex space opera with a solid science fiction background that has lots of nifty add ons, bells, and whistles to it. Hulks and Horrors is a combination of partial bug hunt, space opera, and a more lost universe style of play with humanity's former empires cut off from the main hub. I'm rather fond of all of these games and that's where White Star comes in.
   This is a space opera retroclone system that emulates none of the above and is actually a sliced up and concise set of science fictional space opera tools in a nifty little tool box. Right out of the gate its got a ton of stuff going for it. Some nice artwork, good solid PC options with aristocrat,  mercenary, pilot, and star knight as your options on the table but a DM could easily add in their favorite Swords and Wizardry classes as well. There are also racial options to add in to your parties as well as the normal human. You've got Alien Brute, Alien Mystic, & Robot on the table as well to add even more to the party. Anyone familiar with Sword and Wizardry isn't going to be out of their depth at all here. The character generation is straight forward and concise which is nice.
  The equipment section is inclusive and includes a wide variety of galaxy and interstellar pieces of hardware. Many of these are going to be solidly familiar to any science fiction fan or Star Wars aficionado but this is a solid selection of stuff here.
The playing the game section is short sweet and to the point giving PC's a solid grounding in a science fiction version of the grand game. This is done very well and with little fuss. There's a bit here and there about hirelings and the assistants.
  The personal combat section is where some of the variations of space opera madness come into play with Space Knight meditations and gifts complicating the usual D&D style of combat. This isn't a bad thing just a bit well different. I say that as a science fiction fan because if you've seen any of the Star Wars or old school science fiction many of these powers and abilities will be familiar. Its interesting to see them added into a D&D style game. The section on the meditations and gifts of the space knights are pretty interesting and solidly done in a pulptastic style.
Star Ship combat in the far reaches of space is solidly done, effective, and very space opera style. There's more then a few options in this section, its far cinematic then realistic in its execution. Its very well done and its a good section of space based combat.
  Aliens and Creatures gives the DM a good solid  range of options and that's all that really needed to get your own style of monsters, horrors, and what not to bedevil your party.
Advanced equipment brings cybernetics, more armor, and a host of add ons to customize your PC's. Sort of like how cybernetics was lurking in the background of Star Wars and some other 70's and 80's science fiction space operas. Not to mention some of the 60's.
But then we get not one campaign setting but three options on the table for your old school space operas.   We get the White Star campaign setting outlined with a solidly done history, background, and how to incorporate the rpg system into your Swords and Wizardry Whitebox campaign. Then we get a whole sector to play in as well with the Kelron sector and lots of pretty worlds for the PC's to go play in. Then we jump right into the introductory adventure The Second Battle of Brinn.
   Here's where the game really shines and its a great adventure that pits six to eight PC's with their wits, their courage, and their assets into the deep end of the setting. You go exploring into the bowels of an asteroid base and get your necks up in adventure. This isn't a waist high pack of trouble but one where the party better actually have a Space Knight or two on hand to help handle some of the issues in this adventure if things break down your also going to want a fighter or pilot on hand with a steady blaster to help sort out trouble this isn't all hack and slash either. This game also includes some damn fine rules on diplomacy and they are in the rule book for a reason. The adventure really sets out the tone of what the authors and designers were going for. Yes it is an emulation of 80's and 90's science fiction films, literature, and more.
Is the White Star worth the hype and volume that its been receiving? Yes I believe its a really welcome set of tools for the science fiction DM. And I do think that its worth grabbing a copy to play an extended campaign of ? Yes because it adds a whole damn exciting extended range of science fiction options for the Swords and Wizardry DM or any OD&D style rpg system.
   Now there is one thing missing in my humble opinion while there is a starting adventure, lots of worlds, etc.,etc. there aren't any encounter tables the game include encounter tables (space, wilderness, urban, asteroid belts, etc.) And here's where the game loses points in my humble opinion. This is a point that many science fiction games miss. An inclusive set of encounter tables helps a DM determine placement of adventure elements in a game. Another thing I came across was this on OSR today, "
The new game is completely compatible with other versions of S&W Whitebox and other Swords & Wizardry [AL] games and products, and even comes with its own compatibility logo that third party publishers can use to create and share their own products with." Lately I've been very carefully reading through various retroclone's OGL and White Star has something very interesting going on under its OGL. Everything in the game is OGL except the author's classes, sector, setting, and campaign details. This one thing caused me to look at the game and make a very solid decision. Gut the setting out and create my own. This is where the DYI aspect of the game shines though. Without the restrictions of the setting the DM is truly able to work up their own material in a very well thought out and put together pulptastic system. My advice is to take your existing campaign write out the elements that you want to turn into a cinematic science fiction adventure and use White Star to go for it. The game does lots of things very well. I do think that Barrel Rider games adds a lot to the table with this game. The price point is a bit steep but there are frequent sales through rpg and Drivethru. Personally I'd wait and grab the print copy when it hits lulu or Drivethru's print option. All in all I was pretty happy to look into the background of White Star. A nice and neat  little piece of science fictional and science fantasy cinematic retroclone action. 


  1. Cool sounding game. Nice review, man. The price is steep, you say? It's $9.99 for a full RPG in 132 pages. That sounds like a hell of a bargain to me.

  2. Well that's the Pdf not the print version and you might be right at that though. There's also a massive sale on Drivethrurpg. There is also the artwork in the book to consider as well in this one.

  3. I just bought this tonight. I started reading through and it gives off a great Star Wars vibe. I'm looking forward to integrating my own Star Wars material with this.

  4. Good luck with that it's a great system for space opera and can't wait to see your results David! Cheers my friend! All my best!


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