Stars Without Number caught my attention this time, for several reasons.
Aside from being free, it's also got an old school vibe to it, a sense of modern starship-based science fiction, and there are a number of (not free) books that have come out for it -- one of which details a stellar navy-based campaign.
So I decide to (electronically) flip through it and was impressed by the look and the production values. So let's do our quick skim read.
The table of contents looks fairly comprehensive, the layout is organized, clean and readable with the greyscale tables and illustrations. Two of them look familiar -- I think I've seen them in other SF RPGs before (or perhaps the same artists work on them) -- but all of them are good to great in quality and really evoke a sense of the breadth and elements of the types of Science Fiction the game covers.
Default Setting and Campaign Premise
Page 5 of the game has a lovely two-thirds page summary of the setting and campaign premise. It is set a post-fall interstellar empire connected by psychic-powered jumpgates and spike drives (shades of Fading Suns and one of the classic Traveller period settings), that has become a mixture of lost worlds, small self-sufficient worlds and mini-empires after the events known as the Scream and the Silence.
Page 6 has a nice summary of the type of characters expected to adventure in the game, which I will quote in part:
In Stars Without Number you play the role of an interstellar adventurer. Whether a grizzled astrotech, lostworlder warrior, or gifted psychic, you dare the currents of space for the sake of riches and glory...
The dangers of the starfaring life claim legions of aspiring adventurers and precious few of them ever manage to die in bed. Still, humanity needs their courage, ingenuity, and reckless ambition if mankind is ever to recover its former glory.
After that, there's the also brief explanation of RPGs and a nod to the game's OSR roots in terms of mechanics and inspiration and then it's on to Character Creation!
next up: Character Creation