GameScience & Lou Zocchi are synonymous with old school in the minds of many. Sharp-edged, scientifically perfect dice, and the king of old school himself holding court at GenCon every year. But back in the old days he wrote a few games himself and Gamescience released a few and some adventures (including a revised version of Tegel Manor). One of these old-time games was Space Patrol, released in 1977.
Space Patrol references so many Sci-Fi sources through it’s 32 pages that it becomes hard to track – there’s the obvious continual Trek references, but also the Kzin from Niven, and references to Starship Troopers, Foundation and several other sources – even Star Wars turns up in the Addenda. It really tries to be the be-all end-all Science Fiction / Space Opera RPG.
Character creation is truly bizarre and fun, appealing to my love of arcane randomization systems. It starts off, like most games of the era, with 3d6 rolls for the six ability scores used in the game – Strength, Dexterity, Luck, Constitution, Charisma and Mentality. A quick batch of rolls gives us a character who is frightfully average except quite clumsy and slightly more clever than the average… average… whatever he/she/it is.
You see, the next part is to determine exactly WHAT we’ve just rolled up. The first roll on these tables indicate that our hero is (or at least resembles) an arthropod with a slow metabolism (further reducing its Dexterity down below human minimum… this lobster-thing sure is clumsy). Oh, and I can finally call it a him, as he is neither female, nor a hermaphrodite, neuter, nor exotic. At 225 cm tall/long, he is significantly taller than the average human… I’m thinking a big crab-type critter who’s got fine motor claws as well as big honking claws. He also has some cyborg replacement parts it seems – in this case arms. Ok, so the manipulating arms arewhat they’ve evolved over time, and they’ve added these massive claw-arms cybernetically that remind us of classic crabs or lobsters. This guy is awesome. The cybernetic augmentation also increases his Strength and Dexterity, making up for his slow metabolism. Surprisingly for a critter this large and armored, he’s from a planet with Earth-standard gravity, in the equivalent of the atomic age (so early 21st Century tech, but with cybernetics).
Next up we get to find out his “class” (training). Since there aren’t experience levels in this game (or skills – the only advancement is in weapon skill if you managed to maintain over 80% hit accuracy with 10 or more attacks in one mission, you can get +1 with that weapon), this training gives him a stat boost and that’s it. In this case, Lobster-Borg is a scientist, increasing his Mentality a further 4 points, making it pretty formidable.
As a scientist I equip him with a Tricorder, hand computer, and communicator. And of course a Phaser I.
Man, more games should have you roll for random creature type and morphology…
Zuggrot Ur Plint, Lobster-Borg Scientist
General Shape: Hexapod
Special: Cybernetic Arms
Armor: Chitin (Rating 2)
Weapon: Phaser I (-1 Initiative, 2 targets per turn, 9 shots, 2 turns to reload, damage & range varies on charge)