I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this article. After perusing the equipment offerings in both White Star and Spacemaster’s 1e Tech Law, I believe that Peter R probably intends to confine himself to the gear in White Star, though this might cause problems for backward-compatibility with Spacemaster products, an intention of purpose he has for his Navigator RPG.
As would be expected, White Star equipment is fundamental. Its standard gear isn’t more wondrous than modern tools in existence today. Its weapons range from the primitive ones available in most fantasy rpgs to modern “slugthrowers” to laser weapons. Armor in White Star, no matter how it is “skinned,” is just armor—even if it has reflective coating against laser weapons. Shields are either energy or physical, and they can’t be used together. Only with starships do we see some innovations predicated on genre. Here we find Shielding, Targeting Systems, Automated Weapons, Cloaking, Ion Guns, Proton Missiles, Reinforced Hulls and Tractor Beams.
The range of equipment in Spacemaster’s 1e Tech Law is much more diverse, but these raise design questions that aren’t easily resolved. Does armor lacking reflective covering provide any protection against laser beams? How about blasters, which I’m interpreting as a weapon that fires a wall of force? Against these energies, armor might minimize damage, but the character nonetheless should be subject to being knocked prone. Ion blasts should be particularly pernicious to robots and gadgetry, and plasma and matter/antimatter should be particularly lethal: plasma should eat right through physical armor (only energy shields might provide a defense) and perhaps continue to do so for rounds later, and matter/antimatter… Well.
White Star Advanced Equipment (in the White Star universe, this appears to be the equivalent of wondrous items or artifacts—not “for sale” and designed to be extremely rare) offers devices such as an Atomizer (Save or die, 10 uses), Plasma Projector (massive damage, 10 uses), and a Freeze Ray (a stunner?). These, perhaps, emulate some of the Spacemaster tech I have described above.
I guess these considerations merely show, per Peter’s intentions, that there is great potential in these spaces for third party developers. These designers should have opportunities to create very interesting and tactical mini games based on real or fictional “science” and technology.
If the range of science fiction personal gear in White Star is limited, its starship offerings are much more serviceable, and this chassis, as a foundation upon which to build, is preferable to Spacemaster 1e’s opaque method for designing starships, though much—particularly the construction of computer programs and abilities—could be ported in from there. I guess I likewise look forward to the mini games that third parties might develop for spaceship combat and exploration.
Well, those are my thoughts for the emerging Navigator RPG. I’m eager to see it take shape!