Well, I have to say that this is quite unexpected. I actually found a RPG that I like! And best of all, it is a solo experience!
I was looking around for a game system that I could use to flesh out my out of cockpit adventures in Elite: Dangerous. I really like that game, but it leaves something to be desired when it comes to experiencing all the stuff that must go on outside of your ship, as do 99% of most space games, sadly. So, I wanted something to give me an easy to use gameplay framework for resolving stuff that could happen stationside and plantside. After reading the description for the game, it sounded exactly like what the doctor ordered.
The rules run 75 pages or so (plus extra pages for charts, etc), but the promise that it is the type of game you could explain to a friend in 10 minutes is largely true because the core mechanics are simple to grasp and highly abstracted. I particularly appreciate this because I am at that age where I just don't have the patience to read 200-page rule sets that get bogged down in tedious minutia that have me counting individual screws on a rifle. Fringe Space's mechanics are sort of chess-like in that they have a simple to grasp overarching mechanic that revolves around a "reputation" score and a xd6 rolling mechanic for the bulk of actions. Once you get that down, the rest flows easily.
The solo campaign generator seems to be nicely simplistic but still loaded with story-telling possibilities. Case in point: my first test game involved me trying to unload some contraband cargo at a starport. It played out in a hilarious fashion. I initially found the dealer in a restaurant stationside. His name was Russe Powash, was 33 years old. Oh, and a drunk. Using my "talk the talk" skills, I convinced him to buy the contraband from me. He agreed, but told me to meet him at a motel the next day to do the actual exchange. As I am playing a low-level pilot, I had no backup and went alone. When I got there, I met the dealer. I also met his bodyguard, Josuha Jenka, a 42 year old man who packed a pistol. Yeah, I didn't like the way this was going. Long short, the deal fell through, and Powash flew into a drunken rage and started swinging at me. Even though he was tougher than me, somehow I got the better of him and beat him to death with my bare hands. At this, his bodyguard took out his pistol and took a shot at me. I ducked behind cover, drew my own pistol, and fired back. The bodyguard ducked behind cover and then decided to beat a hasty retreat from the motel, no doubt off to find a new employer.
That took about 10 minutes to resolve (not including the time it took to generate the NPCs). Awesome. Just awesome.
Yeah, I like this game. A lot! I have never said this about a board game or RPG before, but I think I will definitely be picking up one of the follow on modules, probably New Beginnings: Urban Renewal that I understand adds some groundlevel chrome.
I need to play it some more to really get a feel for it, but based on my first test encounter this seems like a fun RPG made for solo gamers who want to have some simple fun in a sci-fi environment. Recommended.
[4 of 5 Stars!]