Quick Thoughts: Edge of Space
Another entry for PocketMod-sized gaming, Edge of Space has been a title I’ve seen kicked around and mentioned on G+. The game is available for a buck on RPGNow, and comes in both PocketMod and Mobile-friendly PDF format.
From the description on RPGNow:
The Edge of Space Rulebook is designed to allow GMs to easily get an exciting science fiction game up and running in no time. Character generation takes only minutes while still providing players with wide ranging character types to flesh out their space marine squad and get ready to squash bugs in the deep blackness of space.
I don’t want this to be considered a full review, as the game apparently isn’t finished yet as the author Matt Jackson appears to be listening to initial feedback and reviews and currently adding on and revising the game. I will admit I found the game to be lacking in some areas initially, but that was because I didn’t really read the synopsis and just cold bought the game to see what it was about. I suppose I also entered with a bit of bias, since my buddy Matt Bryant wrote his own space PocketMod game modeled after WYRED. That said, I wouldn’t be bothering with a blog post if I didn’t find merit in the game.
Quick Run Down:
Edge of Space is pretty light, and I would assume would play pretty fast (while still being pretty lethal.) A lot of the rules depend of GM judgment calls and heavy narrative interaction between the GM and players. Character creation is pretty fast and simple: Pick one of six careers, and roll four times on their skill list to see what (and how much) your character is trained in. Each career has five skills plus a “player’s choice” where they’re allowed to pick any skill from any career, or even choose from an “Additional Skills” list.
After that, it’s just a matter of describing your character’s background and introducing them to the group. Yeah, seriously, that’s it. There’s no equipment guides here, not even a list of weapons or armor (aside from explaining pistols and rifles have different ranges.) I, personally, can be OK with that (High Valor from Silverlion Studios lacked weapon or armor tables and played fine,) but I can tell this will be a problem for a lot of groups.
Task resolution is basic: 2d6+Skill Levels vs Difficulty Numbers. In opposed situations, it’s simply a matter of who rolled higher. Everyone tracks damage the same (pretty much 5 steps, with each step adding difficulties and prolonged recovery time.)
I do want to note that there’s a section discussing a teamwork mechanic, where an ally helping out a character can actually lend a hand and improve their chances. There’s also an interesting “String” mechanic, where players choose who else in the group their character is connected to (whether positively or negatively) and they could opt to “burn the string” to either assist them or penalize them.
I’m really torn. Overall I got my buck’s worth out of it, and could easily see me running a couple quick gaming sessions on the fly with friends or over Google+ with this system. The problem is there’s aspects that I’m not sure are either genius approaches to minimalist gaming, or just poor presentation decisions.
Hear me out on this: For example, every career has a skill list. But there’s no skill descriptions. The names are pretty self explanatory (Pistol, Intimidation, Cooking, etc.) Even the psychic skills — Mind Reading, Suggestion, etc — are pretty easy to grasp what they’re supposed to do. But, we’re also kind of left to the GM to dictate the flexibility of said skills. There’s also the fact that without attributes, general “anyone could potentially do this stuff” (such as perception based stuff) is also left up to the GM’s adjudication.
That said, it could also be REALLY easy to add professions and new skills.
My only other real gripe is that there isn’t any kind of guideline for opponents. There’s no bestiary, no NPC’s….honestly if it wasn’t for the description at RPGNow I wouldn’t ever know this was supposed to be a Xeno-stomp fest.
Parting Thought For Now:
I know these gripes have already been brought to Mr. Jackson’s attention. I’m looking forward to seeing his extended guidelines and suggestions, and I’m thankful he’ll be adding these on to the initial product for everyone who’s already bought in. I’m holding off my final review until then.
For now, despite its warts, I like what I see here. As a general sci-fi system, it’s a great foundation, and a clever GM can easily build off of the simple mechanics really quickly for whatever it is they need to run. A group who can handle more judgment calls based on the narration or off-the-cuff rules calls could potentially have a few nights of good gaming with this and a few minutes of prep. Folks who want more detailed, crunchy systems will be disappointed — but anyone who wants just enough mechanics to keep it playable while having the freedom to just work off the details can enjoy this.