Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: Machinations of the Space Princess

Continuing my reviews of OSR Sci-Fi games.  Next up is Postmortem Studios' Machinations of the Space Princess.   Continuing also with the comparisons. If White Star is Star Wars, Spacemen & Starships is Star Trek then Machinations of the Space Princess (MotSP) is Heavy Metal, the Movie.

Written by +James Desborough and art by +Satine Phoenix this game has a really cool, sexy vibe.
Firmly planted in the PG-13 area, this game does more with a nudge and wink than some games try to do with out right R material.
The game is described as a game of "Kick Ass Heroes".  It is. It is also a game of rogues, smugglers, free wheeling pilots, more-than human psionics and accountants.  Seriously, you can hire them.  But more on that later.

This game is built on Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but it takes more than a few liberties with it.  Bottom line here; you can add this to any of the OSR Sci-Fi games I have been reviewing.
The book itself is 244 pages which includes cover, OGL, title pages and acknowledgments.  There are a few pages of "What is Roleplaying" and examples of play.  Anyone reading this review though can likely skip these sections.

There is a section on the default setting, the Urlanth Matriarchy, and it's fall.  Also each page has a note with some tidbit of information.  Don't ignore these, there is a lot colorful commentary here.
The section on Kick-Ass heroes is a good one and even though it feels like something we have read before it is worth reading again (or for the first time).   MotSP is fully character focused.  The empire, the aliens, the tech, that's all just backdrop to playing a Kick Ass character and having a good time.  This is refreshing for an old school game and honestly for me it nudges MotSP ahead in my book.
The mechanics of building a hero are also here. This is old hat for most of us.
Note: Ability score bonuses are more in-line with D&D 3.x than old-school D&D.  But you could use whatever you like really.
MotMP has Seven attributes.  Comeliness is back.
There are actually a few compelling reasons to include Comeliness and MotMP is a good game to use it.
Races are covered with the default humans and various archetypes of other races (Amoeboid, Aquatic...). Races are also divided up by Species (an actual species), Cultural (many species or one species that make up a culture) say like a planet of criminals or Exotic (something about them is very different), for example everyone is dead or a cyborg.  There are a lot of of these races given and they can be combined in different ways.
Classes cover many of the basics; Experts, Killers, Psions, and Scholars.  Each class has their own sub-specialties, HD, Attack Bonus and Skill Points.   Psions get Psi Points and Power Points.  In what seems reversed to me Psi-Points are your reserve of power to use your psionic powers and Power Points allow you to buy your Psychic Powers.  I am planning to spend some time with the Psion since it is the closest thing I have seen to a witch-like character.

Skills define what a character can do.  The skill system is a d6 roll under the skill points you have for a particular skill.  There are some common skills that everyone can use, the Psi skills (Psions), Combat skills, Scholastic skills, and General skills (ones that anyone can learn but don't start out with).

After skills we discuss gear, which includes arms and armor. Some basic ship stats are also given.  Ships can also have a number of qualities.  My favorite so far is "Killer Paint Job" which makes your ship "look totally rad".  Seriously it like this is the only game that remembers that fun is important!  Ok, not really, but fun is in the forethought here.

Of course you are are going to get all that loot from doing what ever your kick-ass characters do, but can you afford that "killer paint job"?  Better hire that previously mentioned accountant.  Retainers are discussed next.  How many hit die they have (space is a dangerous place) and how much they need to be paid.  So do you want 10 accountants or 1 elite assassin?

There is a chapter on cybernetics and enhancements.  It isn't as fully transhuman as say Stars Without Number, but it gets the job done.

Bodly Going is the chapter on space and planet exploration.  It can also be called 1,001 Ways to Die in Space.  I give James a lot of credit here. I know the guy outside of the gaming world and he is what I call a science-cheerleader.  He does not hit us over the head with hard core science in this, but he is paying enough lip service to the real thing to make this chapter fun to read.  I know he could have dialed this up more, but since his goal is fun this is perfect.

Rocket's Red Glare gives us more details of spaceships.  This includes a lot on combat.  What I do like here is that ships are treated like characters.  It is something a lot of games do so there is a real pragmatic approach to it all.

The rest of this section covers things characters can do and psionics.

A little after the half-way point we get into the Game Master's section.
If the players make kick-ass characters then the game master is instructed to be a bad-ass Game Master.  Additionally advice is how to keep the game fun.
So everything from planetary romance, swords and planets stories, sexy (or sleazy) fun, traps, killing things and taking their stuff and more are discussed.

The book ends with an index and character and ship sheets.

There is so much here to be honest that I doubt I'd ever run out of things to do with this game. It may be more tongue-in-cheek than other sci-fi games.  There are plenty of "Serious" sci-fi games that play great and are fun, but I doubt I will find one with a bigger sense of fun than this one.


Jeff said...

This is one of the few D&D "Versions" that I really like, anymore. They are ALL over complicated, really.

Bruno said...

My favorite OGL sci-fi game. Already I'm seeing lots of supplements on Drivethrough RPG for alien races for White Star, and I keep thinking about how a single Machinations book covers pretty much any alien race you might want to make!