Tag Archive: sandbox

Stars Without Number

“Stars Without Number” is another grognard inspired game that is really going to turn some heads. The “sandbox” elements inherent in the game, allowed me to port much of the setting my friends and I created in “Diaspora” (see my earlier review) into this game system. The post-society collapse and psionic emphasis in “SWN” softens the sci considerably – and in my opinion serves a perfect balance. Each character in the game feels distinct in that everyone has a background and profession even before a class is chosen. This allows for a vast array of archetypes, and adds a significant level of re-playablity.

The system is skill based, and moves fast. Slowdown is never an issue in this game, and the characters always have something to do (by default because motives are a necessary component of character creation). I haven’t examined the faction leadership section of the book too thoroughly yet – but I’m very excited by the possibilities.

So far I’ve only had the chance to run one session of the game (which is my fault mostly for advertising other RPG’s to my friends), but as I’m writing this I’m realizing how solid this game really is. The psychic class in particular really excites me. Every psychic has the capacity to be either a specialist in their school, or a jack of all trades. The game suggests that it is rare for characters to survive past level 10… which I love – because I have an obsession with re-rolling characters with new stories. This might be my favorite game I’ve run all year. This is a definite buy, if you like the idea of playing a bada** space marine, a cocky starship gunner, or back-world witch. It’s all here, really.

O yeah, and its free… what the heck are you waiting for?


“Diaspora: hard science-fiction role-playing with fate” might be the first “sandbox” game that really caught my attention. You might have heard of Diaspora after its Ennie Award, and I will tell you – the game is worth all the talk its been getting. The fate system gives a lot of power to the players, allowing them a significant influence on the narrative when it really counts (by “tagging” NPC’s and the environment with interesting qualities). Personally, I love this.

But what really impresses me about Diaspora is the galaxy creation rules. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a creation system with such depth and possibility. My friends and I spent hours just writing about the places and characters we had created. I’m not the first to say that this is a heck of a lot of fun even if you don’t get around to playing the game.

Even if hard-sci isn’t your thing – Diaspora provides an unparalleled creation toolkit. My friends and I ported the setting we had created in Diaspora into a grognard we wanted to play. Only after playing did I realize how many plot seeds there were. With the setting we had created, we could probably make a campaign to last years and years.

Buy this product if you are even remotely interested in sci-fi. I’ve had the game for a while now, and still – every time I open the book, story ideas practically leap from the page.