Star Bastards

Herman S. Skull (author)
Sam Iacob (artist)
Two-Fisted Fantasy (publisher)

I learned about this book through the Lone Wolfe Roleplaying community on Google+. It comes highly recommended, it has a cool name, a cool cover, and the PDF is under a buck! 

First Impressions
This is a solo adventure game book in the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style. You can play either as a 10' tall Polish space explorer on the run or the canine cop that is chasing him! There is also a deck of cards to represent co-pilots, ship upgrades, and cool items you can pick up. The book contains a decent amount of good art, and the character sheets, maps, etc. all look good. The theme feels clever, the text is fairly witty, and the design is attractive. The book is 340 pages, averaging about two entries per page, and comes with a Space Exploration Quarterly (a kid of gazette on the SF setting), record and rules summary sheets, and cards. 

Play Impressions
The tone of this book is great. It's a fusion of Traveller and Hitchhiker's Guide. That is, stylish and fun without being too silly, and with just a bit of grit to make it feel more real. I love that you can play it from two perspectives. I like that there are mechanics for both fist-fights and starship battles. The game play seems smooth and fun once you catch onto it, though it took me a few battles to gain confidence.

Perhaps my favorite part was that a few inconsequential but flavorful bits of dialogue were given in Polish. I had to use Google's Translate function to find out what was said. That seems like it would be annoying, but I chuckled every time I learned a new Polish phrase.

If I have a complaint it's the way the book sometimes pulls GM fiat instead of giving you a dice fight. In my first adventure I got to roll to surreptitiously latch onto a ship and hitch a ride, and I had a space battle. On the other hand, I once got beat up with no chance to throw dice; and when I got caught by the police dog I didn't get a roll. But that is coming from a very small sample size, one 'run,' and I enjoyed the adventure nonetheless.

Overall, I think there is a lot of value here for the money and I look forward to playing again. Like most solo adventures I've sampled so far, I wish I had bought physical copies to play with instead of working from PDFs. Also you will need a decent amount of table space for the book, your record log, and the cheat sheets.


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