Star Frontiers – System Mastery 88


It’s the space 80s!  Feather your hair and ready your giant wrap-around bubble glasses for some interstellar adventure where the computers are so advanced that Oregon Trail has four colors!  This game is, in a shocking surprise to us, imaginative, relatively simple, and fun!  Join us for Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn.

10 responses to “Star Frontiers – System Mastery 88

  1. As a note of interest, related to your questioning the lack of spaceships in the game, there was a second boxed set available for the game called Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks that was basically devoted to spaceships. It included a starship combat boardgame with scenarios and a Second Sathar War campaign, and then those rules doubled as a system for space combat in the RPG.
    The RPG expansion included a system for designing your own spaceship as well as rules for travel and commerce. Then there was a set of modules introduced that combined the Alpha Dawn exploration style with the Knight Hawks fly exciting space battles style.
    I know this because I played Star Frontiers excessively during my early teen years. Loved the game, still have it.
    You can find pdfs of pretty much everything ever printed for the game on

    • It’s worth mentioning that those pdfs are both free and legal, offered as a gift by WotC a couple of years back.

      • It was more than a couple of years, he’s had permission to post them since the late 90’s early 2000’s. The original permissions were from TSR before they were even bought out.

  2. Great review. Glad to see a game I’ve been playing since it came out get such a glowing endorsement from people looking at it for what sounds like the first time.
    As Brad mentioned above, the spaceship rules were published as a second boxed set. And I have to agree with your assessment of the vehicle rules. It’s definitely something I mostly ignore when running games. Although in one of the modules there’s a running vehicle battle as part of the scenarios were at least the combat between vehicles plays a role.
    If anyone gives Star Frontiers a try and/or is looking for additional material there are also two free fan magazines for the game, one active (Frontier Explorer) and one currently dormant (The Star Frontiersman) with tons of fan created material for the game. (Full disclosure: I’m the owner/editor of both of them now, long story).

  3. By the way, if you say the skill/subskill system should have been the way D&D was done, you can pick up BareBones Fantasy (DWD Studios). It was written by fans of Star Frontiers who adapted the idea to fantasy. There are only 17 or 18 spells in the whole game but those are scalable with sub-skills too!

  4. Thanks for this! I ran this game a couple of times as a kid and remember it as being an easy system to run where everyone had a good time. I think the main reason we ended up not playing it more was that that the “every alien is a different class” didn’t seem as inspiring as D&D’s more dynamic class/race system.

  5. The lack of player owned spaceships makes a great deal of sense actually when you consider the economics of the setting, and the focus on working for massive corporations which control planets.

    I also agree that Star Frontiers is a great game. The rules are rationally and seamlessly put together. Its one of the only systems that I felt worked well for hex crawling. The crash on volturnus adventure is still worth checking out for inspiration in designing your own.

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