If Hostile is based on the movie Alien, Zozer Game’s Godstar has a lot in common with Frank Herbert’s novel Dune or Free League’s Coriolis game. Of course, it’s neither. There are no sandworms, spice or Icons granting magical powers. The planet Aurelia attracts pilgrims as it has a sentient star that can be consulted (for a large fee). It gives out practical and scientific knowledge, not the meaning of existence. Aurelia is also the centre of administration for the area of space around it. The game is about playing the various people and factions that live on Aurelia. You can include as much as you like about the influence of the Godstar, I thought it was not essential to involve it. Godstar’s a supplement, you need to have a copy of the Cepheus Engine rules (or one of the versions of Traveller) to make best use of the material. The nice thing about this is that even if you don’t want to play in this setting, it’s really good for things to use in other games.
You can do lots with this supplement. Ideally, you’ll have one of the many factions as a patron. You can be a member of the ruling house, employed by the ruling house that was deposed, a prisoner in the punishment battalion present on the world, a gladiator, one of the Sandmen, there are a lot of nice possibilities. Godstar has a good mechanism; political factions are given statistics like a player character. The referee can instantly see the relative abilities and resources of a faction when a decision is needed. So if you want to know whether a faction’s spies already know about the player’s plans, a successful 2D6 roll under the Factions INT score says they are one step ahead.
I don’t like the standard Cepheus Engine rules for melee combat, it’s always seemed to be different to what I’ve experienced myself. Godstar gives you a much better way of resolving fights. Although intended for duels, it works very well for all melee weapon combat. It’s the first system I’ve encountered that takes into account the advantage the length of spears gives you when you have a sword. The spear can get you before you’re in range to get them. A lot of fighting is about trying to get past that spear point (and the skill of the spearman is keeping it at the range where it can get the swordsman but he can’t get you).
The Godstar setting has personal force fields, so swords, knives and spears are more useful than firearms and explosives. You can still use them, you just won’t be effective. There are gladiatorial bouts on this world, if you want to have a career as a professional gladiator, you can, just hope that you survive your first fight. There are a few changes from the standard rules. Personal and embedded computers do not exist, the only computers available are huge mechanical devices that take up a lot of space. There’s a kind of limited psionics available to certain people. I really liked this aspect, powers that could easily be mistaken for natural abilities, or otherwise explained. If someone used their skill to lift something heavy, you don’t know if they were using psionics or just really on-form today.
Aurelia is a desert world, the supplement includes a lot of useful rules for desert survival. Get lost, run out of water and you can die quite easily if the desert dwellers don’t kill you first. A lot of these procedures can be used in other games to give some nice detail. There’s a history of Aurelia and star maps and statistics of the subsector, but only Aurelia has any detail beyond the UWP. If you want to play on other worlds, you can create the detail yourself. The Million Sun Empire is not detailed. You can make of it what you will. Godstar has a lot of desert photographs to help bring the setting to life and a few good quality SF art pictures. The maps and pictures of the weapons in the game are OK, but not to the same standard as the other artwork. Where Dune uses Arabic for flavour, Godstar is more Central Asian. Think Caspian Sea rather than Red Sea for the culture, although there’s nothing difficult. The history of Aurelia includes an alien race called the Gaugamelians. The race is briefly described, the artwork portrays them as similar to goblins with protruding lower tusks. The race isn’t developed and can be left out of the setting if they don’t suit you.
The supplement is fairly cheap, $7.49 (£5.49), it’s worth it for the desert survival and hand to hand combat rules, there are other useful ideas too. It’s well worth the price of a coffee and a sticky bun.
Images from Godstar pdf. (Artists and License listed in the pdf.)
Used with permission from Zozer Games.