Sunday, February 17, 2013

X-Plorers RPG

Two kinds of X-Plorers and The Anubian Ambassador

I am just getting back from Con of the North 2013, and will have detailed con reports to share on the two events I ran. Check back here during the course of the week. I'll be sharing my experiences running the Ubiquity-system Leagues of Adventure RPG - which entailed 6 hours of adventures both above ground and below in the Hollow Earth - and a Tekumel game using FATE Core.

But first I'd like to share a little about a very fun two hour game session I had the chance to play in on Saturday night. Jay MacBride, who edited the X-plorers RPG (see the B&W first edition box set and the second edition all-in-one saddle stitched book above) ran X-Plorers in his '70s-inspired 'spoitation movie setting RAD ASTRA.

This is a game with serious 1st edition flavor. We created PCs in about 15 minutes. Everyone struggled a bit at first with chargen. This wasn't because there is anything wrong with the rules. Rather, it is based on people's acclimation to D&D 3rd Edition/Pathfinder chargen and mechanics. Once people realize that their very specific expectations didn't really apply here, they could focus on getting their characters finished and ready for play. (Our Tekumel group had a very similar experience this fall when creating characters for the original Empire of the Petal Throne rules.)

My character was a scientist that I rolled as having one, read that ONE, hit point. Again, I had the same experience recently creating a PC for original edition Empire of the Petal Throne, so I was preparedI didn't groan this time; I was actually curious about how long my Scientist character would live in the scenario. (Actually, a strong case has been made recently that this is a feature, not a bug of old school-inspired games. Read Porky's exploration of that idea here.)

Forbidden Planet (1956)
We played SPACE MARINES who had been pod grown and trained for different roles: Soldier, Scout, Scientist, and Tech. Well, nobody chose Tech. So two soldiers, two scouts, and two scientists went planetside on a world in the Gamma Aquilae system. The scenario was inspired by Forbidden Planet, but I won't give too much away except to say that it also had references to Space: 1999, the Buck Rogers TV series (1979-1981), and the film The Black Hole.

GM Jay MacBride shared that this was only his second time running an RPG! You never would have known that considering how well organized he was, with really neat props and a great, fast paced adventure! Congratulations, Jay, and keep up the RAD ASTRA! We want more!


  1. Thanks for the link. I have more thoughts on this, as with most things, but it sounds like you feel it too. Your next post also suggests the idea that if the measure is the adventure or the world as a whole, and the joy of experiencing it, the loss of a character is more bearable.

  2. There's also a free version of the rules (no art, alas), so players have every reason to give it a test drive.

  3. Thanks for the kind words John. I'm glad you had fun--and there's definitely more RAD ASTRA on the way!

  4. Sounds like a great game. I keep forgetting about X-Plorers among the old school sci-fi games, which is a shame.

  5. @Porky: I do think there is something to be said for the world as character, and that being in a very interesting world is some degree of compensation for the risk of character life and limb. Even FATE Core seems to be moving back in this direction - not so much with mechanics for death and dying - but towards a grittier character design and fewer FATE points to change reality: it is a shift towards a more picaresque fantasy baseline for a system rooted in the pulps.

    @Bob: Yes the game is pretty accessible with free and low cost options.

    @Jay: It was a real pleasure playing the game! This AM over coffee I looked at the rules and figured out the very few things I didn't fully grasp during our session. I am looking forward to seeing the additional classes you are designing.

    @Trey: I am thinking about running some Humanspace Empires using this.