Lately I've been thinking about how I'd like to run another SF campaign soon. As my year+ long Pathfinder 2E campaign winds down, I can sense that I need a palette cleanser in the mix before tackling the next mega campaign in PF2E, and science fiction generally does the trick. The problem, of course, is that what I most need right now is a game system which will support the particular vision I have in mind.
There are five choices in my repertoire: Traveller, Cypher System, GURPS, Savage Worlds and White Star. For various reasons I have narrowed the list down a bit: Traveller is too formal and comes with a heap of stylistic baggage; GURPS would be cool but GURPS Space is too complex for what I need; Savage Worlds would be fine but I am waiting for the Sci Fi Companion to get revised to the SWADE edition; Cypher System with The Stars Are Fire expansion is looking like the best choice overall, but there's a problem: Roll20 seems to hate my players, and when you have three sessions of Cypher System in a row in which failure rates even on level 1-2 tasks are approaching 90% it becomes enormous dispiriting for the players (and as GM I got tired of the constant grouching about the failure rates and simply ended the game). I love Cypher System, but there seem to be two issues at hand: it requires a bit of system mastery to play the odds and reduce the levels of difficulty, and it also requires accepting the dice where they fall when the time comes.
In fact....the brutal honesty of the Roll20 dice randomize might be so offensive to some players for reasons that I can only speculate on in my head, but I do think ultimately that when the game requires resource management to improve your odds of success, that puts more demand on the player to actually understand the mechanics and work to play them in their favor. Spend those points when you need them, and often!
So what about White Star? With White Star I might just have a good balance. The biggest problem I can identify is that the Galaxy Edition is almost Too Much Kitchen Sink....if you don't want uttin*, yabnabs, novomachina and brimlings in your campaign, for example, then you as GM better go into the book with a big hatchet. But other than that, it's a great system with a tight and easy old school aesthetic. I have run two prior campaigns with it now (using the original rules with some supplements) and I feel like this might indeed be the perfect palette cleanser. A Short 5-10 session White Star campaign would be a lot of fun.
There's a new setting sourcebook out for White Star on Drivethrurpg.com now called Heart of Varrul, which I just might check out. White Star, like all OSR games, continues to have its groundswell of support and remains in many regards timeless. I think I'll need to see how much support it has on Roll20 now....
*I'm actually cool with uttin, the grittier and dirtier version of ysoki; but to hell with yabnabs! And Brimlings are a halfling too far for me.