We’ve got 25 playtest groups who have jumped through the first hoop – answering a simply questionnaire. I haven’t had this level of participation since Trail of Cthulhu. Ashen Stars is very different to Trail, with starship combat, high-tech equipment, multiple races, the necessity of earning enough from contracts to stop your equipment falling apart and some very specific adventure creation advice. This all needs a thorough run-through, and then a second round.
The fun tech available in the game includes non-lethal disruption pistols with a variety of attachments which give a flavour of the game. Poppers are one-shot defensive items which absorb a single disruptor blast; while a crick-cracker burns out multiple poppers. The stockholmer makes a person you knock unconcious cooperate with you. But here is my favourite:
Cost: 1; buys one gun-nanny for each crew member, plus free replacements
The gun-nanny consists of a micro-camera connected to a chip running a sophisticated risk matrix algorithm. It activates when you switch your weapon to lethal mode. Whenever you aim at a target, it calculates the potential public relations risks of killing that target. If it determines the risk to be significant, it sends an unmistakeable chiming sound to your headset. The chime in effect asks the question, are you sure you want to do that?
In rules terms, the GM warns you before you fire that a kill would threaten your Reputation.