OSR Sci Fi GM Screen (Mini-Review)
Let’s take a short break from my Whitehack
series and look at a
different old school gaming product. The OSR Sci Fi GM Screen is a
production in the wake of the White
(aff) hype. While White Star isn’t perfect, it still has lots of fans
in the old school community.
The GM Screen sheets are a tool to help you run White Star (or compatible) games. As White Star is basically Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox in space, this should be compatible with most old school D&D offshoots.
The product is available in an electronic format or as portrait-oriented sheets for use with a GM screen. If you purchase OBS' GM Screen with these inserts (there’s an option during the checkout process), then you get the inserts free. (Pretty awesome!)
You can buy them HERE (aff) for USD $4.99. (The physical screen itself is available for USD $29.99 + shipping). Disclaimer: The author, Jacob Ross, was so kind to send me a physical review edition for free.
What do you get?
The product contains 12 pages total, including cover and OGL.
The player side features a beautiful cover page, a summary of both melee and starship combat rules, an example sector map with an FTL travel system and descriptions of each world. The GM side includes the same sector map, planetary descriptions that also come with GM secrets, a combat summary, a random mission and reward generator and a convenient one-roll enemy generator that scales from mooks to bosses.
The quality of the physical screen sheets is superb, they are printed on
cardstock paper in color. The background is light blue. The information
is easy to read and the sparse artwork really looks superb. The digital
download also comes with a print friendly version. Let’s take a quick
peek at the stuff included.
The author included a method to scale the opposition by choosing a die size which equals the threat level (e.g. 1d6 for a weak enemy, stats are derived from the result).
You can roll for attack type (fast, standard, precise and savage attacks) and for abilities.
Here’s an example monster:
competent enemy: 1d8 (=5)-> HD 5, To-Hit +5, AC 7 (20/result +3 for competent), ST 7, Morale 7 attack type: 1d4 (=3) -> precise attacks, once per round at 1d6+1/2 damage abilities: 1d20 (=10) -2 for competent enemies -> penetrating: ignore 1/2 HD damage-reducing effects
You need to come up with a name and description yourself but other than
that it’s a pretty fast method for generating monster stats. Mission
Another random table with entries for patron (e.g. government), job (e.g. bounty), risk (how many encounters/job), distance (e.g. same city or 2 weeks deep space travel) and reward (e.g. favor owned (proportionate to risk+distance)). Combat Summary and Space Combat:
This is a one-sheet which explains initiative, melee attacks, missile attacks, damage, unseen opponents, movement, morale, and healing. And then the same for space combat, including a table for weapon range. Nice to have although it’s perhaps a bit too much text. I prefer a more redacted version which resembles mathematical formulas as it’s better to absorb the information at a glance.
Missile Attack: Roll 1D20+BHB from Class+Dexterity bonus and any other applicable bonuses. The criteria for hits are the same as melee attacks. Missiles have a Rate of Fire (ROF) that determines how many times per round you can attack with them.
This is an example sector. It comes with a hex map and FTL travel rates for both the player side and the GM side. Then there’s a sheet with descriptions, one for the players and one for the GM. Information is given in broad-strokes only.
There are two additional species, the Shax and the Sha-Iz, who populate the sector. The Shax are a primitive reptilian warrior race while the Sha-Iz are an offshoot of humanity. The product includes stats for the survivalist Shax Implacable and the Sha-Iz Operative who comes across as very rogue-like. Both species sound very interesting and are viable alternatives to the White Star core classes.
The GM side of the sector also includes GM secrets. The different worlds include some adventure hooks which should get the GM started.
This is a really nice product for White Star. I especially like the
Enemy Generator and the example sector. The rules summary (combat and
space combat) adds a lot of utility.
While it’s not necessary for running the game, this product is a really fine accessory and offers good value for your money. I’d rate this as a 4.5 out of 5 stars.