I liked Robin Laws’ work on Feng Shui, and wanted to see what he’d do with a “gritty space opera” game. This was my first exposure to Pelgrane Press’ Gumshoe System, which is designed for investigation games, with a lot of support for the narrative of exposing clues. It has four dozen skills ranging from “Bullshit Detector” and “Cop Talk” to “Forensic Accounting” and “Evidence Collection”, and assumes that the players are creating characters in a group so they can get good coverage of the spectrum of specialties. The space combat system is also narrative, accumulating progress toward a goal like “Escape” or “Cripple for Boarding” rather than a more typical simulationist view with maneuvers and damage tracks.
The setting is in the aftermath of an interstellar war, with the player characters being the special operatives of half a dozen sentient species trying to keep civilization from falling apart, accepting contracts for investigating problems, solving mysteries, and managing their image (yes, there is a “Public Relations” skill). The wreckage from the war provides ample trouble for game masters to invent. The worldbuilding is in keeping with the game’s emphasis on being like a space opera TV series, not hard SF, more on style than consistency; I expect that if I were in a game, I would be coming up with a lot of “if they have this then they should be able to do that” fill-in work. The provided background gives the Cliff’s Notes for the next five centuries of history and then gives plenty of room for improvisation from whatever cool thing you read in the past week.
I’m impressed by the Gumshoe System; the design looks great for a police procedural game.