Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Capsule Review: Free Traders

Free Traders by Lari Assmuth is an outstanding (free) little rpg that fits on two sides of a business card.

Influences named are Wing Commander: Privateer, WEG Star Wars d6, Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy, Nathan Treme's Wander, Apocalypse World, Blades in the Dark, and Lasers & Feelings.

Your character has three stats with scores of 3, 2, and 1. You roll d6's by applicable trait when things get hard and read the highest die. The results are trinary as in most ApocWorld games: it's bad, you do it with a complication, and success! Each "job" you complete gives you one "payoff" which you can use to upgrade your ship or pay down a debt (not blood likely).

Obviously it's hard to put a complete system on a business card (w/art!). I think the two biggest things the designer leaves up to the gamer are a) how to work stress/damage to a character and b) what to do with ships and their tags. 

I would handle the former fictionally, and perhaps by taking away a die or two from rolls for major stress until it is healed/relieved. At -3 dice I would consider the character incapacitate/out-of-action in some way. 

Ships I guess I would just treat like characters and consequences are relative. (Same is true for dealing with alien monsters.) All rolls are player-facing. So if you (or your ship) is being chased by a giant alien (dreadnaught) you roll as normal (no dice penalties for being outclassed). Since you are being chased and (let's assume) your goal is to get away, a character would roll her Maneuver stat dice. (A ship would roll dice for tags like "sleek" and "nimble" and "fast.") On a loss the consequences would be worse because it's a large alien (dreadnaught) rather than a voracious squirrel (alien scout boat).

But of course one of the beauties of these microgames is that they are a starting point and each game could be tailored by/to the players.



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