I tried it back in the early-mid 80s and it didn't grab me, but it may have been a case of a group of young kids looking for D&D in space and gaving up when we didn't get enough 'kill monsters and take their treasure'. Is it worth giving another look?
The modules were like A4 IN THE DUNGEONS OF THE SLAVELORDS so it set a really bad tone of rationing the sci-fi equipment. Plus the auto-"alien among us" set up was a mistake. They should have kept it in a spacey feel with humanoid choices for players. What they came up with is too weird. I'd say cut the aliens, cut the skills (they're stupid) and keep the space laser shit flowing or it turns into this unique producty turd.
The most memorable thing is that the basic booklet has been missing for most peoples sets that I know, usually stolen, and specifically in my case that in High School played with my 65 year old female art teacher in 9th grade in 1983.
A friend of mine bought it c. 1983 but we never got around to trying it. The cover art on the box was awesome, and that is one of my favorite Elmore paintings. But when I browsed the content it didn't grab me. As I recall, the playable alien choices were space-glider-monkey, space-beetle-centaur and shmoo, who were the "ally" species with humans, and the "evil" alien species was like a big tape-worm. Aside from unappealing playable alien choices, I was never clear on what the game was "all about."
Space-agents trying to thwart the schemes of the space-worms?
I'd be willing to give it a try. I've read that the combat system is a weak point (takes forever to kill anything), so that might be something to consider.
Last Edit: Feb 10, 2017 10:57:02 GMT -5 by GRWelsh
Post by geneweigel on Feb 10, 2017 14:10:09 GMT -5
I had to dust off my memories to remember why I had given up on STAR FRONTIERS after 1983. Its what I said but to elaborate more, it was that the Volturnus campaign of 3 modules (Mark Acres and Tom Moldvay) burned out with its style. Then a few months later after we were all "Volturnused out" TSR repackaged STAR FRONTIERS as "STAR FRONTIERS: KNIGHT HAWKS" which was TSR's attempt to mimic Star Fleet Battles. I sat in for a few Knight Hawks games in the computer department in high school and it was boring as hell. It just might have been the people running it but I had purchased the first Knight Hawks boxed set and it didn't seem flush with what I had for STAR FRONTIERS and it seemed too IP specific for anything that I wanted to do sci-fi-wise in a game. I wouldn't have used the term "IP specific" I think I would have used the terms "this sucks and its boring".
Post by geneweigel on Feb 11, 2017 13:37:14 GMT -5
The Elmore Holloway art made the whole thing look great but its too Moldvay (friendly misunderstood monsters) and not enough Gygax (monsters eating you with panche). They needed elves and dwarves for exotic characters so what would the sci-fi equivalent be? Pointy eared "Martians" (Mr Spock) should have been thd priority but they just launched the mini line. I have all the minis but I was off the wagon when Knight Hawks minis came out. I saw quite a lot of sci-fi minis and I think the idea was to uniqueness with the dralasites, etc, etc
Post by geneweigel on Mar 13, 2017 13:29:18 GMT -5
Another major flaw of STAR FRONTIERS is the premise from the Basic Game Rules interior cover:
HISTORY Near the center of a great spiral galaxy where stars are much closer together than Earth's sun and its neighbors, a Human race developed They were not identical to the Humans of Earth , but they were not very different either. When these Humans discovered that waves of sub- space pi·tachyon particles could cross interstellar space faster than light. Ihey realizeed they had found a link to the stars. A radio message that would have taken years to travel between stars could be sent with subspace communicators In months or even weeks. The Humans started broadcasting news of themselves to the neighboring stars, and soon found they weren't alon8
The Humans made contact with an inventlve race of insect-like crea- · tures called Vrusk, who had developed limited space travel decades earlier. One of the Vrusks' mIning colonies had already contacted another race. the shape-changtng Dralasltes. The two races had been exchanging information for several years The Vrusk and Dralasltes were pleased to learn of another race They sent a wealth of scientific information to the humans using this new knowledge, the industrious Humans quickly developed interstellar spaceships.
The three races met in a large area of space known as the Frontier There they also discovered the Yazirians, a race of tall, maned huma- noids. Soon, settled worlds in the Frontier became melting potS for the four races, with dazzling mixtures of architectures and alien cultures
To supply the needs of these worlds. Ihe interstellar company, the Pan-GalactIC Corparation, was formed. It developed interests every- where, from scientific research to farming to spaceship building. PGC even created its own language. Pan-Galactic. which soon became the most common language of all races on Frontier worlds. Many large companies which started later were modeled on PGC. but none approach the size or power of the Pan-Galactic Corporation.
Then, the Sathar appeared. No one knows where they came from or why. They attacked and destroyed lonely systems on the edges of explored space, moving slowlv inward. Survivors described Sathars as worm-like creatures 3 to 4 meters long . That was all that was known about them, because they would rather kill themselves than be captured. As the danger increased. the Humans. Dralasites, Vrusk and Yazlrlans formed the United Planetary Federation (UPF) to defend their worlds. The mysterious Sathar were forced back. but before long they returned in a more sinister form.
The Sathar had learned that they could not beat the UPF in battle. Instead, they began hiring Yazirian, Human, Dralasite and Vrusk agents to sabotage interstellar trade and interfere with local govern- ments. The UPF created the Star Law Rangers. an intterstellar police force, to track the Sathar's agents from planet to planet and fight them on their own terms, But despite the efforts of the Rangers, the sly Sathar agents have become the most dangerous threat ever to face the United Planetary Federation and the frontier corporations.
This just boggles the mind. Its not the future its somewhere else. Its called a frontier but its just a name. Human culture is integrated with 3 aliens already. This is overbaked. I see the reference to Brian Blume's ego is what gives away why this is such a slop job.
Maybe the best way to approach Star Frontiers is to keep the box with the great Elmore painting, and throw out everything inside the box. Start from scratch trying to imagine the space game EGG would have created... The 'frontiers' concept is a good start, implying exploration and discovery, a border of known or patrolled space, pirate zones, mystery zones, a 'Wild West' atmosphere with places like the cantina from Star Wars, Jack Vance's BIG PLANET, etc. I don't know what EGG would have done, for sure, but I do know Jack Vance was his favorite writer, Vance was primarily a science fiction writer, and if you look at Vance's sf stories over the years, that might be a good basis... The DEMON PRINCES, PLANET OF ADVENTURE, and ALASTOR series (one of which even has a character named 'Lord Gygax' in it, as a nod to his fan) are all decent inspiration.
Last Edit: Mar 15, 2017 12:50:20 GMT -5 by GRWelsh
Post by foster1941 on Mar 15, 2017 12:10:49 GMT -5
That's my recommended approach to almost everything non-Gary from TSR: look at the cover art, read the blurb on the back cover, and then write your own version of what you think should be inside. Whatever you come up with will almost certainly be better and more imaginative and probably make for a better game-experience than what the TSR hacks churned out. Because, with rare exceptions, that's pretty much the same thing they were doing - the marketing department came up with titles, gave them descriptive blurbs, page counts, and release dates, sold them to Random House on that basis, and then assigned somebody (staffer or, later on, freelancer) to write a product to fit those specifications.
So by re-writing the product based on the cover and concept, you're doing the same thing the original writer did, only you're probably more genuinely interested in the topic than they were (they had to write something in order to keep getting paid) and you've probably got better taste and sense of the game than they did, and you can also work on it at your own pace, as inspiration strikes, rather than churning out wordcount because your paycheck depends on having to hit a pre-defined pagecount by a pre-determined release date.
Last Edit: Mar 15, 2017 12:31:47 GMT -5 by foster1941
Post by geneweigel on Mar 15, 2017 14:27:36 GMT -5
The lack of "frontier" and it being name only (which still isn't plural) was really what killed this subliminally to players back in 1982. You're playing in known space visiting "cave men" and dealing with infiltrators of the player based races with known technology. Its like making a STAR WARS game with the monsters, jawas, ewoks, sandpeople and just imperial spies.
What flagged my paranoia about Blume's diddling of STAR FRONTIERS was that he's mentioned in a later product (1985?) as putting a lot of effort into STAR FRONTIERS.
That and one of the Gygax brothers (Luke?) describing STAR FRONTIERS as if it was something that the Gygaxs were involved with and they loved it. This contradicted something that I had learned earlier.
When I had spoke with Gary about GAMMA WORLD he had briefly mentioned the GW module LEGION OF GOLD and briefly mentioned STAR FRONTIERS as being one of the things that was left behind when he was sent off to get out of the Blumes' hair in Hollywood. This conversation started around him pimping his then new game(that never was) LEJENDARY ASTEROGUES.
So its still a mystery to me but I know Blume is why this thing sucks.
Post by foster1941 on Mar 15, 2017 18:33:00 GMT -5
They're sort of a mash-up of Jack Vance's "Planet of Adventure" and Dune, but for kids. Probably the biggest knock against them is that SF promised to be a high-tech space-adventure game but these adventures are all set on a single, low-tech world (and, of course, unless you wrote your own they were the only choice). It's like if the ads for Star Wars had featured all the cool ships and blasters and lightsabers and such but then the first movie was just C3PO and R2D2 crash-landing on Tattooine, trying to avoid dehydrating and overheating, and meeting Luke at the end, the second movie was all about encountering the Jawas and Sand People, before meeting Ben Kenobi at the end, and the third movie had been about trying to convince the Jawas and Sand People to band together into a ragtag army to fight against an invasion by the Storm Troopers, who show up for a few minutes at the end.
White apes have lost their color due to many years of living in caves. They are nocturnal, sleeping in the day and looking for fruits and vegetables at night. If creatures approach their lair, the apes will threaten them. If their threats are ignored, they will attack. They may throw one stone per round for 1d6 points. White apes are not intelligent and sometimes are kept as pets by Neanderthals.
Its not very well thought out. It almost seems like a politically correct feel good description. Fruit & vegetables in a cave?
Killer white apes have lost their color due to many years of living in caves. They are nocturnal, sleeping in the day and looking for meat at night. If creatures approach them, the apes will attack. They may throw one boulder per round for 2d6 points. Killer white apes are not intelligent and sometimes are kept as pets by evil Neanderthals.