Navigator RPG

So I have been thinking about my Spacemaster idea from last week. There are a few threads I want to pull together today.

Cepheus vs Whitebox

There are two potential ‘original sources’. The first, as pointed out by Egdcltd was Cepheus. This is basically Traveller with the serial numbers filed off. So the core mechanic is 2d6 + skill and roll over target number.

The Cepheus Light rules are a complete set of Sci Fi rules and cover everything from character create to starship combat and planet building. Those rule weigh in at just under 170 pages.

Whitestar by Whitebox on the other hand is a D&D in space game OSR build. It is closer to the original sources as Rolemaster was D&D house rules so this would be Spacemaster as Whitestar house rules. As a d20 system the conversion to d100 is simple and logical. The rules as sold are 134 pages all in including setting, starting adventures and the game rules.

In terms of popularity Cepheus is a Pay What You Want game that has achieved Silver metal status. Whitestar is also PWYW but is a Gold metal product. The PWYW is important as you only get metal ratings if you actually pay for the PDF/book and most people don’t pay when they can have the PDF for free. If only 1% paid then the actual number of downloads would be in excess of 10,000 and 50,000 respectively. Whatever way you cut it Whitestar appears to be four or five times as popular as Cepheus.


Over in Zweihander-land I have been running some collaborative projects. In principle it works like this. I suggest a title, I set up simple shared project management board where people can list the content they are working on and can then list when it is all completed. I then do the page layout and put the book on sale. Profits are shared on a pro-rata basis using page count as the unit of measure.

It works, and works well with that group of developers because there is a real sense of helping each other out. It is very non-competitive. I would go so far as to say it is very supportive.

The most important thing is to leave your ego at the door.

I am not entirely sure if the Rolemaster community could pull off the same level of collaboration. To be fair Brian, Egdcltd and I managed it with the 50in50 adventures so it is possible. Creating an entire game system is a little harder as there will always be the tug of war between simplicity and complexity. That question has never been suitably answered. That is in part why I mentioned right from the start RM2 rather than Rolemaster in general. I find RM2 fans are more open to simpler games because at the start RM2 was a rather simple game.

What’s in a name?

Finally, I have been tossing names around recently and I have rather grown to like Navigator RPG. It is a bit of a nod to Shadow World. If you use a Sci Fi type font it looks quite cool. Also, just as important there is no Navigator RPG at the moment. I say at the moment as there used to a game a Gamma World retro clone but the last update on their blog/site was eight years ago and the game never made it onto Drivethru or RPGnow.

6 Replies to “Navigator RPG”

  1. There’s also White Star: Galaxy Edition which has the original White Star, White Star Companion and a bunch of new stuff. This is a paid supplement and is Electrum on both DriveThru and RPGNow (yes, I have White Star too!). Something that might be interesting is that Barrel Rider Games, publishers of White Star, have become the latest publisher to become part of Gallant Knight Games.

    Regarding collaborating on a system, that is a bit different. One thing I like about White Star is the optional rules. So if one person wants simplicity and another complexity, you can go with simplicity with complexity as an optional rule.

    It might be possible for different people to develop different parts of a system but you’d probably need an overall developer to keep everything related.

    1. Part of the appeal of White Star is that there are plenty of options. If that was used as the base system then the project becomes of limited scope and completion is more likely in a short time span.

      The number of options then become fodder for companions.

      The perfect combination is of course a simple Spacemaster Retro Clone based on Whitestar plus a compatibility license so anyone can expand the system. The release the whole lot under one of the Creative Commons licenses to make it free and open for ever.

      As to managing the project there are two options. The first is the ‘closed option’ where I or just a couple of people really crack on and produce the core system and then open it up for all and sundry to expand via indie companions.

      The other option is the ‘open’ version where anyone interested is added to a Trello board where all the development, testing and revisions are maintained.

  2. Incidentally, the original Cepheus Engine is also a Gold supplement on DriveThruRPG. It doesn’t help that there are effectively three versions of the main book from three different publishers: the original Cepheus Engine System Reference Document from Samardan Publishing, Cepheus Engine RPG from Moon Toad and Cepheus Light from Stellagama Publishing.

  3. I have been discussing this in another Rolemaster group, on MeWe, and there is a real appetite for it.
    The desire seems to be for a basic system that they can then house rule to their heart’s content.
    It will be a lot faster to work from White Star than any of the Cepheus variants, simply because the original RM2 and SM were derived from the same system as White Star but White Star has already done the Fantasy to Sci Fi changes.

    1. White Box-derived systems definitely qualify as basic systems that can then be extensively modified. Even though White Star is in itself a modification, it still is nowhere near as complex as others.

      1. I have spent much of today Spacemasterifying White Star. I am about an eighth of the way through but having done only the easiest parts so far. My Plan A is to hammer through this and produce a playable Spacemaster/OSR game build with the signature RM modularity in place. It is easier to discuss and modify something that exists than it is to hold entirely theoretical discussions about something that may never exist.

        With one designer and one writer no time is lost in debate and discussion. I can just full steal ahead until we have a draft v0.01. Then the fun can start.

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