Monday, March 5, 2012

My First Sci-Fi Love

A few weeks ago I took a quick peek at Alternity. While I think Alternity is great, it isn't my first sci-fi love. Judging by my age and history with the hobby, you may be tempted to think my first love would be Traveller. I do love Traveller, and maybe I did indeed love it first, but it is not my First Love. Traveller's design was completely linked to the Imperium, no matter how much anyone may try to deny it. Sure, you can make up your own setting, but at the end of the day Traveller's design paradigm will leave you with your own version of the Imperium. Not that there is anything wrong with that, the Imperium is a fine sci-fi setting. Traveller, for me, never seemed to have a wide-open, anything-is-possible attitude. Then, along came a darling of a sci-fi game that was over-the-top, gonzo sci-fi at its free wheeling best.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I give you . . .

This little beauty had it all (except starships). That cover tells you everything you need to know. Of course, it wasn't a perfect design, but it was fun. It had that lightning-in-a-bottle of OD&D. Just enough of a framework to hang your own adventures and house rules on.

Then, along came . . .
Knight Hawks actually has a nice physics model under the hood. Not perfect, it is science fiction, but the rules for starship movement are pretty well thought-out. A real surprise given the general aura of "thrown together" that surrounds these two games. There has never been any doubt that everything in the TSR stable took a back seat to D&D, so to discover that these two titles actually comprised a good, consistent, fun gaming experience proved a very pleasant surprise.

They are still available, and free, at Also available at that site is Starfrontiersman, a free fan e-zine. It looks pretty good, with 17 issues for free download, the most recent being from October 2011.


  1. I stumbled across the boxed set for SF at an antique store for 5 bucks a couple years ago. Not only was it complete, but it had 2 (2!) copies of Zeb's Guide in it as well.

    Now if I could just find the time and players...

  2. I am very envious of you guys that live in areas where yard sales, thrift stores, antique stores, and used book stores regularly turn up with old games on the cheap. There is only one used bookstore around my parts with any used games, and it is a very static and spartan selection indeed.

    Good luck with those players. It was always my hope to get my son into rpgs, but he has two things working against that: he is more of a social butterfly than the average game geek, and he is all about Black Ops and the Xbox 360. At least he finally quit playing Runescape.