While there seems to be a general buzz over the release of the new Swords & Wizardry White Box compatible sci-fi RPG White Star by James M. Spahn, I find myself far more excited about another old-school retroclone that has recently been made available: FASERIP by Gratis Games.
Some background: in terms of hours playing RPGs, superhero games come a close second to fantasy in my life. Of the various systems, my favorite historically is Villains & Vigilantes for two reasons: I love the character generation system and the longest running and most successful superhero campaign I ever ran used this ruleset. The most hours logged, however, belongs to Champions. While I am a huge fan of random character generation, most folks who play superhero games generally have a very good idea of what they want to play and Champions does one of the best jobs of giving players that kind of control over character generation.
The most fun I have ever had playing a superhero game, however, is with Marvel Superheroes. It terms of actual system mechanics, this is by far my favorite system for playing a superhero-type of game. It does an awesome job of making me feel like I am playing a character straight out of a comic book.
Historically, however, I have never liked the character generation system nor the idea that campaigns took place inside the Marvel Universe. PCs varied in power so dramatically that it was often impossible to sustain a campaign because players would feel left out and powerless to make any impact on the game. I have never been a fan of parading around in someone else’s universe, let alone my least favorite comic book universe.
FASERIP solves both of these problems. It obviously has to divorce itself from Marvel, as does any ruleset that seeks to emulate the system. The real strength of FASERIP, however, is its character generation system. While still maintaining a random generation system, it ensures that all PCs will be of a similar power range. It also empowers the player to customize what has been handed them via a random dice roll.
Another really interesting touch that I appreciate is a section on non-traditional campaigns and how to handle them using the FASERIP system. Included are a Shadowrun-type setting, a fantasy-type setting and a sci-fi alien taking over the world-type setting. This has got my non-playing Gamer ADD revving up. Expect some FASERIP meditations coming soon.
1 hour ago