Okay, I think I posted a little too fast back there. Now that I’ve thought about it, I think the Starfarer’s Handbook actually bucks a lot of the trends I’ve been complaining to myself about, as I’ve become more familiar with RPGs over the last year. You know how when you get a new RPG and you want your group to try it, everyone has to read all the details of the game world before they understand what kind of character to make? This process can slow things way down, especially if there’s only one copy of the book getting passed around, to the point where everyone just says “forget it” and rolls up a D&D character. The elaborate worlds created in contemporary RPGs are actually a barrier to entry when it comes to playing them… but without all that detail, no one’s going to get excited enough about the world to buy the book. That’s the catch-22 the industry finds itself in. D&D is perennial because everyone already knows Tolkien-esque fantasy.
So, FFG may actually be doing a very smart thing by modelling their Dragonstar books after the PH and DMG. The Player’s Handbook has almost no world info in it, just like the Starfarer’s Handbook. The upcoming Galaxy Guide, like the DMG, has more of the goodies. By providing a very complete toolbox for sci-fi fusion gaming in D&D and just enough story to get things going, Fantasy Flight may have made the best possible move. Upon reading the story text more closely, it could still be a little less stiff, but I can’t prove that I could do better, and the content is a solid, intriguing treatment of how to make first contact in a fantasy world. So, we here at OgreCave hereby upgrade Dragonstar from “maybe” to “probably.” Check it out for yourself if you haven’t and see if I’m wrong.