Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Thousand Suns Readalong!

Why would I possibly need another science fiction role-playing game…? GURPS seems to serve admirably enough in that genre– its tilt toward realism and general crunchiness is right in line with the tone of Niven and Pournelle’s masterpiece, The Mote in God’s Eye. The fact that I can reach into GURPS Martial Arts for literally anything that the players might want to try is the icing on the cake. Even crazy sequences like those in the new Sherlock Holmes movies are relatively straight forward.

Traveller should be the go-to game here if I could ever really wrap my head around it, but I’m not entirely happy with it at the moment. The current license holder leaves me cold… and the classic materials available in not-all-that-high-of-quality-PDFs on CD-Rom are kind of a pain to dig through. I’ve walked around conventions with my LBB’s proudly in hand and never once gotten a game in at such a setting.

I think it was Brad over at Skull Crushing for Great Justice that observed that James Maliszewski tends to make you think whereas lesser bloggers tell you what to think. I figure if he can keep me coming back to his blog almost daily talking about all kinds of cool vintage games without alienating me, then maybe he can write a game that contributes something useful to space gamerdom. (Heck, he’s said something nice about CAR WARS, so how bad a guy can he be, anyway?) And who knows… maybe the community that ends up surrounding this game will end up being fun to hang out with out on the wider convention scene….

I am excited about this game. I don’t know anything about it other than the fact that I enjoy reading anything that this particular author puts out. I am not going to do a normal review for this. I want to enjoy every single page and savor every single nuance, so I’m going to dig into it chapter by chapter…. Feel free to read along and put in your two cents along the way. I’ll try to get one post out each day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays– that’ll get us going at a rate of a few chapters per week.

I see that this is actually a second edition of the game and that the 12° system has been used in other role-playing games, but it’s all new to me. During these posts, I will pretend that this book is all that exists for both the system and setting.

See you here tomorrow for Chapter 1!

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4 responses to “Thousand Suns Readalong!

  1. RogerBW January 3, 2012 at 7:07 am

    I’m interested to see what you think. I tend to run SF, or at least high-tech, in preference to fantasy; my most recent game was an Aliens homage, but with fairly gritty combat and sneaky bits of hard science underpinning the universe setting. And of course I’ve done a certain amount with Reign of Steel, which lends itself quite well to cinematic play.

    Like you, I tend to reach for GURPS when I’m setting up a new game; it’s just one set of rules, so I don’t have to relearn both rules and setting at the same time; and I’m particularly fond of the way characterisation can be built into a PC design in a usefully crunchy way (not just the high-level “troubled veteran of the Big War” that you might see in FUDGE/Fate, but also the low-level “flashbacks, nightmares, cybernetic arm, tactical skills”).

  2. Brendan January 3, 2012 at 8:26 am

    I’m curious as to how Traveller-like Thousand Suns is. Based on Grognardia’s lavish praise for Traveller, I imagine it has to have been an influence.

  3. James Maliszewski January 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Seeing as the book is dedicated, in part, to Marc Miller, Loren Wiseman, and Dave Nilsen, there’s no question that Traveller was a huge influence on my design of Thousand Suns, at least thematically. Mechanically, it owes a bit to Traveller, too, but I’d say the biggest influence Traveller had was in forming my youthful conception of science fiction, a conception that Thousand Suns reflects.

  4. Robert Saint John January 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Thousand Suns is one of my favorite games *, and the new edition packs a great deal into one book, and presents it much better than the previous version. With regards to how it compares to Traveller, I think TS does a better job at bringing the inspirational material (Asimov, Piper, Pournelle, Anderson, etc.) to life in one book than Traveller did in its first 3 Little Black Books (or Mongoose’s new Core book). But the real issue I came to have with Traveller was that as it grew its Third Imperium setting through supplements and subsequent editions, Traveller’s canon became constraining and geared toward one of two types of games. This is more an issue with players and canonista-oriented fans, but it dampened my enthusiasm for the game over the years.

    Thousand Suns feels like a clean slate onto which I can overlay a wider variety of settings and themes, and over the years I’ve found it very easy to use the 12° system to add or subtract as much detail as I need without fear of breaking it. It also doesn’t hurt that James’ writing style is very readable and inspiring. Traveller, on the other hand, can read like a technical manual at times.

    Anyway, l’m really looking forward to this series of posts!

    * Disclaimer: some material I’d written for the game previously does appear in this edition of TS, and I’m credited as a contributor

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