Monday, September 16, 2019

Review & Commentary Strange Stars OSR Rule Book By Trey Causey From Hydra Cooperative For Use With Stars Without Number & Other OSR Rules Systems

Sometimes you get to see an artifact from another alternative time period, a strange 'what if' book that ports itself into your hands. Unfortunately this sort of thing isn't real but Trey Causey has finally released his Strange Stars OSR Rule Book and its aimed straight at the heart of the Stars Without Numbers rpg system rule book as an alternative setting. 

"It’s the far future, Old Earth is lost and shrouded in legend, and the children of paleo-humanity have long ago populated the stars, branching into new forms and strange cultures. Adventure is measured in light-years!"
This is a zipped down, stripped down, Stars Without Number setting book spun through the blender of Trey Causey's warped imagination. This book reads like a combination of a late 70's classic era Marvel space opera comic book setting with a completely different take down of the Stars Without Number setting on its own terms. So is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, in many respects its a good thing, this book has actual playable OSR alien races that make you want to play them. There is a an entire boat load of worlds, materials,and adventure hooks sewing through out the setting book. This book is an exercise in compactness and interstellar utility. The layout is smooth, easy to read, & gives not only a gist of the interstellar setting but an entire setting straight out of the box. Here's a sample of the type of quality material that your going to get.

Is it a complete setting? Yes and no, yes its perfectly suitable for running adventures in the Strange Stars universe mixed along side the Stars Without Number universe & system. But is it worth it if you already own the Strange Stars setting & resource book? Well that's going to depend if you want to convert the whole setting, plus races, material, etc. into Stars Without Number or into your favorite space OSR clone such as Hulks & Horrors, White Star, etc. This book covers all of the bases but making the buyer go for another purchase all over again is a bit of a pain in the ass for the consumer. So it loses points for that.
But I get the reason why multiple versions of Strange Stars have been done. Trey is trying to get his hands into the gaming public's hands for sheer love of his setting & in a word its worth it. Especially for the Stars Without Number game universe because in many ways Strange Stars fulfills the retro gaming promise of SWN without all of that OSR  system's setting baggage.
I've DMed lots & lots of Stars Without Numbers over the years & in some respects there's way too many books, settings, etc. for SWN. In thirty seven pages you get factions, alien races,NPC's, adventure hooks, etc. ready too go for that group of player's that coming in fifteen minutes. This is a great setting book for Stars without Number because its ideal suited to take the PC's to the stars and beyond for months or years of old school play.

Much of the Strange Stars setting echoes both SWN and its own internal 70's space opera groove. Could this work with other OSR gaming systems? Yes, in fact it would be an excellent fit with Venger Satanis's sleazy Alpha Blue rpg system. But without the adult sex & sleaze bits. Instead you get some very fine quality material that can literally generate months of 70's space opera play at the usual author's quality and output. There's some really fine pieces of artwork in here as well.

Could Strange Stars OSR be used with other OSR retroclone systems such as White Star or Swords & Wizardry? In a word quite easily, not only the author's other work setting  Weird Adventures 
the crunch is done in such a way to make porting over into your favorite game system quite easy & somewhat painless.  This piece by Jason Sholtis, is especially evocative of the Seventies comic space opera. There is idea after idea here with homages to classic 70's films such as Logan's Run, Star Wars, Star Crash, etc. But Trey has free reign to let his imagination run wild. It does indeed lead into some weird & dark corners of his universe but that's half the fun here.

What about using Strange Stars OSR with say the  White Star rpg? Well after doing a bit of looking I found that Trey pointed me in the right direct it seems that friend already has done exactly this; " Mike aka Wrathofzombie has run some sessions of Strange Stars in White Star with some adaptation of the setting book of his on devising. Here are some races/classes

Looking at what he did there, I don't think it would be very hard to convert over, as White Star looks even "rules lighter" than SWN, but with a similar OSR chassis. "
This begs the question could Strange Stars be used with OD&D or say Swords & Wizardry? Well judging by the research I've done with it. I'd say definitely & because, "the children of paleo-humanity have long ago populated the stars" it would not be hard to take your favorite campaign setting or old school fantasy world & make it a back water planet in the Strange Stars universe.

 There are also lots of PC racial options from Atozan librarians to armored thrax warriors which can add new dimensions to character racial development.This is  especially true for retroclones such as Swords & Wizardry or for other favorite OSR system.

Could Strange Stars be used with Traveler, Star Frontiers ( the loving homage of the cover is a dead giveaway), or even Labyrinth Lord, Mutant Future, or Star Ships & Space Men Second Edition? In a word, yes. But where I think that Strange Stars OSR loses some points is in the fact that if you bought the first Strange Stars book; this is a companion piece in some respects. While I totally understand the reasons why this was done as a setting book. Its not a full game but a supplement to Stars Without Number (available here in a free version) or similar retro science fiction games. Its  also  companion to  STRANGE STARS .But if you download the Stars Without Numbers rule book its an easy fit as a great setting for that game as a stand alone book.
Now the reason why this pdf costs five dollars & fifty five cents is because its full of some really nice artwork, a solid layout,editing, & more all of this costs time, money, & high quality costs.
Even though the page count is only thirty seven pages, this pdf is so chalk full of great OSR retro sci fi ideas that its well worth your time & money. The fact that its geared for Stars Without Numbers only adds to the value. My recommendation is to grab this one and start playing among Strange Stars. Five out of five in my book for solid OSR space opera for your old school campaign settings.

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