To make matters worse, I'm stuck in the malaise of writer's block, which incidentally is not a good thing considering the April A-Z Challenge 2013 is on the ever-approaching horizon. On top of that, I'm looking at at least another three weeks until the gaming group gets together.
Courtesy of Matt Jackson over at Lapsus Calumni and his Chubby Monster Games imprint.
First of all: talk about fast. I ordered these on Friday afternoon and they were in my hands on Tuesday afternoon. Amazing turn-around. However, the mailing also was the source of one of my only complaints about the product: the mail carrier was less than careful with the envelope, so there was some minor bending and wrinkling on the "Incident" booklet. I can't figure out a solution to this that doesn't also involve a price-hike; so I'm going to put them under my unabridged Webster's for a day or two and see if that doesn't do the trick.
- Edge of Space: Science Fiction Roleplaying Game Manual:
- The content of the game manual itself is quite nice. Presented very neatly and concisely written, the system is, to me, pretty tight. It's certainly not a WotC-esque "cover every eventuality in the rules" kind of game system. Instead, it's got just enough crunch and fluff to give a GM a foundation on which to build. Character creation and -options seem fairly straightforward and generation seems like it would be fast. I could easily envision using this with my group at one of our New Years' Eve family parties without needing any advance character/player prep time.
- There is only a single race of aliens presented in the manual. Therein lies another of my complaints, albeit a minor one. We are presented only with "bugs" (and "The Master"--the BBEG Bug) in this instance. I would have liked to have seen a wider variety of aliens; perhaps only one or two more would have done the trick. However, I've salved my complaint and told myself three things:
- One--this is only the introductory material. More aliens are likely forthcoming. For an introduction, do you really need more than a "standard" alien race?
- Two--although one "type: Bug" is presented, there are actually five different bugs here. The Master, the Grunt, the Shooter, the Brain, and the Recon. So, technically you're wrong about only "one" alien. Now shut up and play.
- Three--the content itself says that the "Bugs...are by far the most common aliens encountered." That implies that there are other aliens and we might see them later. (See 'Thought One,' supra.)
- Incident at Intrepid Station Adventure
- My first thought? Hey look, self, new aliens! Matt provides a really nifty "infection" rule. Although I don't often like the "GM takes control of the PC" idea, this one makes sense and is not an arbitrary rule.
- There's enough fluff here again to provide a good foundation on which a GM can build--or not, if she chooses not to do so. There's enough backstory that most players will be satisfied with the information.
- I particularly like the fact that Matt's specifically using "Space Marines" here. Most of my OSR readers will understand my glee at this jab. If you don't, pick your favorite search engine and look up "space marine", "copyright", and "Amazon"--you'll get a pretty good overview in the first few search results. Again: Go Matt!
- Matt's also included one of his fantastic maps. My readers know my fondness for maps; there are a few mappers out there whose works I keep on my metaphoric cartographic 拜拜 (bài bài) stand: Three of those mappers are Dyson Logos, Tony Dowler, and Matt Jackson.
In addition, he's also offering a PDF download that includes the manuals, a nice embiggened map, and an "image version" of the map for your favorite virtual table top program.
For all that, I give this four hammers out of five. (I would have gone five out of five, but I'd like to see what comes next from Chubby Monster Games and Edge of Space. This way I can save room for that final star...I figure that's better than giving something 6 out of 5 stars.)
Buckle up, boys and girls...we're going on a bug hunt.