Written by James Spahn, White Star adapts the original Dungeons and Dragons (1974 edition) to science fiction. Mechanics wise there is not much there, but that was goal. To open up the classic tropes of science fiction using the straight forward mechanics of original Dungeons and Dragon routed through Swords and Wizardry, White Box edition. And James does a hell of a job. Everything drips with the love of the genre. His adaptation of the original mechanics to science fiction is spot on. And he manages to pull off a hat trick with retaining 100% compatibility with Swords & Wizardry White Box.
And it been generating buzz all over the OSR especially by Tenkar over on Tenkar's Tavern. I am seeing announcements for supplements popping up like this from the Greyhawk Grognard. I think it warranted based on what I read.
What are the highlights of the products in my opinion there are several.
- He treats starships as monsters/characters with AC, hit points, etc and I am impressed with how it reads.
- He retains 100% compatibility with Swords and Wizardry.
- Does a great job of including what you need to run Star Wars style space opera campaigns.
So what bad about White Star? Well if you are not interested in content creation then pretty much the only support the rulebook has is for Star Wars style space opera campaigns.
But I don't view that as a problem in the long run. Because just about the whole thing is under the Open Game License. So while James has opted to present support for space operas the path is open for other folks to jump in with support for other types of science fiction. Also while it has no explicit planet creation or starship creation rules it looks pretty straightforward to just make up stuff with the examples in the book. It just that easy with the ODnD style mechanics.
I will complain that chapter two, Character Creation, was declared product identity. I get that the campaign stuff involving his setting is product identity. But I don't see the point of making the classes product identity. But then again the whole thing so straight forward that it is easy to see how to make your own.
So what about Star without Numbers the current leader of sci-fi roleplaying in the OSR. Star without Number is a great RPG, however for me it sits where OSRIC does in relation to Swords & Wizardry. While pretty much the same game, Swords and Wizardry lays out the foundation of of Dungeons and Dragons in a way that OSRIC doesn't. Swords and Wizardry not OSRIC was the game that fired up my imagination enough to figure out how to adapt my Majestic Wilderlands from GURPS to a variant of classic Dungeons and Dragons.
White Star inspires me in the same way. I can see what James is getting at and how I can adapt it to what I like about science fiction. And yes I have something to adapt. While it doesn't have the pedigree or the play behind it as the Majestic Wilderlands, it is something I been working on for a long, long time.
Mankind has reached the stars only to find… Earth
Birds flying under distant skies, fish swimming unexplored seas, and dinosaurs ruling unknown continents. On a hundred words there are the children of Earth. Children from an Earth of sixty-five million years ago.
Now man has outgrown his cradle and traveled into the black, wondering who and what scattered the seeds of Earth throughout the cosmos. Mankind is forging a new life among the stars but old fears and conflicts still threaten. The year is 2425 and this is their universe, the Majestic Stars.