In about a week, SR 16 will publish a lightweight RPG that merges investigative noir and dystopian sci-fi. It’ll be available from their Itch.io store.
Space Street is 13 pages, and those are square, use occasional but striking images, and have plenty of white space from cover to cover. I found myself wondering whether you could present the entire RPG as an Instagram carousel.
There are three stats in the game; Brawn, Finesse and Investigation. Also, you’ll log the number of wounds your character has taken and their belief.
The stat your character is good at gets a +2, the one they’re bad at gets a -1, and the other a 0. Resolution to any challenge means rolling a d6 and applying that modifier.
Outside investigations, you’ll have a target number to hit, and I’m wary of explaining too much in the review and giving away the heart of the $7 RPG for free, so I won’t reveal the scale.
However, I will linger on the exception – the investigation rule. Here, the investigation roll doesn’t produce a “You succeed” or “Your character knows nothing” result. It always grants the players the ability to ask questions about the nearby clues. The more successes rolled, the more questions you can ask.
I’m reminded of GUMSHOE, another RPG system designed around mysteries and equally determined not to put players into dead ends they can’t puzzle their way out of.
My experience with the approach is a good one but comes with a health warning. As a GM, you will have to think on your feet and come up with good answers to the curveball questions your players will throw at you. It ruins the mystery to give answers that fob players off or pour freezing water on theories they’re trying to explore.
Space Street is a lightweight RPG and designed around a simple three-part structure. Each game broadly follows these three acts; The Search, The Hunt and then The Climax. You’ll have seen this format in movies.
The first part is the excitement of dealing with whatever trouble is coming at you and figuring things out, the middle part the turning the tables or finally getting some threads of investigation that lead somewhere and then the final component is the dramatic showdown.
Space Street is a system designed to tell stories in a setting that blends 1920’s film noir and dystopian sci-fi. It doesn’t provide that setting for you. You’ll have to make it up. There are, though, some suggestions. For example;
… vast cities house humanity, beset by spying aliens, cosmic horrors, broken androids and insane criminals lurking in every dark starlit alley and dirty street.
The game’s cover is a bit more whimsical than the contents encourage, I think.
As noted, I’ve an advance copy, and there may well be tweaks to the final release. There are some typos to weed out, which is always the case. I just have the luxury of looking for them first. They’re easy to spot with only 13 pages, but the most significant is the apparent contradiction of awarding +1 to your top stat on page 4 and it being +2 everywhere else.
Is Space Street worth the money? Heck yeah. At $7, I think it’s a fair price, and I think the lightweight system provides enough structure for groups that want it when they reach for the dice. My main group rarely does and uses a system not too dissimilar to this as our homebrew.
I hope the investigation rules are an eye-opener for many.
I think I’d squeeze in a sentence or two about wound recovery and maybe NPC guidelines. I wonder whether NPCs are also on the +2,0,-1 scale or how they might oppose characters.
Overall, Space Street might not be as innovative as SR 16’s Incoming Call, but I like it and can see me using it for one-shots.
Disclaimer: My copy of Space Street was provided for review.
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