Stepped away from wargames this week and picked up my RPGs. In particular, I have been playing around with Thousand Suns: Starships.
The comparisons to Traveller: Book 2 are inevitable. Though I have the original LBB2, I know that Mongoose Traveller Book 2: High Guard is also out there (indeed, I own both). TS: Starships is a worthy successor to the original LBB and (in my opinion) better than the Mongoose Traveller implementation.
What TS: Starships gives us is 169 pages of medium crunchiness. Chapter 1 is subtitled “The Navy.” This explains what a Navy typically is in “Imperial SF,” the genre that Thousand Suns aims for. The explanations in this chapter are excellent; not rules as much as they are explanations of how the Navy or Space Patrol or whatever the force is called could be organized and operates. In Chapter 2, Operations, we get some rules but again this is more how things could work vice how they should work. This is in keeping with the rules-lite approach taken by Thousand Suns.
Chapter 3 is the combat rules. A good deal with the combat rules are that they generally play just like character combat. Indeed, many rolls will be more dependent on the characters than the ships. This focus in a RPG is refreshing because, after all, the players should be the focus and not the ships. The combat system showcases the best of the 12degree system.
Chapter 4 is the starship design chapter. If there is a section that could be accused of being too crunchy, this may be it. The system seems straight-forward enough but I found that I needed a good calculator and eventually a spreadsheet to make it work. Just too many calculations and numbers to track by hand.
If I have a beef with the books it is that Rogue Games needs to do a better job of layout and proofing. The most glaring error is on pages 78 and 79. At the bottom of page 78 is a text inset box that doesn’t end, but at the top of page 79 the box restarts from the beginning. I first discovered this error in my hard copy, but I was really surprised when I got my PDF guarantee copy and found the same error! This supplement has been out since GenCon and I find it surprising that the error has not been fixed in the PDF. There are also a handful of spelling errors and some sentences that just don’t make sense. In a few cases spell check should have picked up the problems and in others they just need to be proofread. The amount of errors is just enough to worry me; this inattention to detail could be enough to turn people away.
Bottom Line: Thousand Suns: Starships is a valuable and useful addition to the Thousand Suns library. I just wish Rogue Games was a bit more careful. I will be watching them closely in the next few products; if the quality control issues are not resolved I am going to have a hard time throwing my money their way.