Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Retro-space Race has Begun

You may not be aware, b ut there are several groups working on retro-scifi RPGs. Well, The today the first volley of the Old School Renaissance's space race has been fired. David Bezio (the author of one of my favorite fantasy settings, the Phoenix Barony)has released the play-test edition of "X-Plorers" for free at Lulu. X-plorer's is bills itself as a retro rpg that tries to capture the feel of 70's scifi. Hopefully this news will lead Elf Lair Games and DorkswithDice's to step up their efforts to get "Twelve Parsecs" and "Frontier Space" into the war for the stars.

Until than I'll give my impressions on the Playtest version of "X-Plorers"

X-Plorers is set in the year 2000 AD, when the United Corprate Nations rules the massive city wide planet of earth as well as terraformed Venus and Mars. The characters take the rolls of explorers of the frontiers of space.

The system is very simple, and easy to learn by anyone familiar with OD&D, BD&D or their clones. Each character rolls four attributes (Agility, Intelligence, Physique, and Presence,) chooses a class (scientists, soldier, scout, and technician,) copies their save throw, Base-to-hit, and their class skills. Now I know those last two are going scare some people away, but there is no reason for anxiety. Some of you are annoyed by single saves, and ascending to-hits, but I imagine the thing many grognards are already turning their noses up at the word "Skills," however I think they'll be pleasantly surprised if they give it a chance.

Skills are handled similar to the way saves are in most OSR systems in that they are dependent on class and level and are rolled in a similar fashion. Each class has four unique skills that are distinguish the class from the each other(There is an optional rule that allows for the learning of another class's skill but it cost additional XP to advance.)

"X-Plorers" really shines in the ship based combat. Each ship is placed on a linear chart that represents the relative distance between one and another, if a ship moves off the chart they may escape combat. Each round is broken into phases in which a crew member effect combat in a significant way depending on their roll in the ship. I really like this system, and consider it the highlight of the game. My only complaint may be that unlike the other classes the Navigator does not get any options on their phase other than to make a Computer save to give strategic bonuses to the other crew members. Personally I would have preferred if they could choose to add to initiative, or help with a free escape on the following round.

The creature section was a tad small for my tastes, but it does feature a rather extensive alien creation system. Still I hope the final version does have a few more premade critters.

All in all after my first read thru I am quite happy with X-Plorers.


  1. Thanks for the plug! 12p is coming along. I'm hoping to have it in playtest and begin commissioning art by the end of August, barring complications.

  2. I love Scifi rpgs, so you can count on my supporting both, especially since they look like very different game. I couldn't find a good page for info on 12p, so I linked to a random blog post that you were working on.

    I'll be posting later this week reporting on a solo session of Xplorers after it happens.

  3. I win the race!

    Just kidding :) but, X-plorers is up an running, with a print and PDF version avaliable at Lulu and a Free version avaliable at the Grey Area Games website (and check out the other stuff while your there...maybe even join up :).

  4. I am waaaaay late coming to this party, but what happened to Frontier Space? The link is dead now. Was it supposed to be like Star Frontiers?