5150 New Beginnings

Came across another game that is on the edge between wargaming and roleplaying games this weekend. “5150 New Beginnings” was published earlier this year and is billed as a “science-fiction adventure game”. It’s filled with interesting stuff and is definitely on my list to play soon.

Here’s a bit from the opening blurb:

In 5150: New Beginnings you’re thrust into a bustling, living urban environment hundreds of years in the future. Or maybe it’s now but just a place far, far away. In any case, your goal is to take your Character, we call them Stars, as far as it can go. Acquire wealth, fight crime, commit crimes, or something in between, it’s up to you. Want to be an Interplanetary Smuggler or how about a Bounty Hunter? Yep, you can be that. Want to feel the rush of jacking up your body with the latest technology and running on the edge. Oh yeah baby, this is the place. And it’s your Story so let’s get started.

5150 New Beginnings (16 Jan 2022), page 3

The description of the game as an “exciting Sci-Fi immersion adventure game” was intriguing. It’s a game designed to be played solo or in a co-op mode against the various random events that the system generates. There are lots of good ideas in here and anyone familiar with the work of Two-Hour Wargames will see how small a shift this product is from their usual small-scale skirmish wargame system.

The character mechanisms are perhaps a little too abstracted for most roleplayer’s tastes: you have a single digit Reputation score and one or two Attributes (think: Advantages / Disadvantages). There are two Skills which are optional. You can take whatever gear you want. And that’s about it.

The game allows you to recruit Grunt NPCs into a Band which looks to turn the game into a small squad-scale skirmish game with lots of roleplayed interactions and linked scenarios. The system is built around random tables which generate interesting NPCs, events, and challenges. All-in-all, it’s a natty little game.

Is it an RPG? It looks a lot like one but that question might depend on how you want to define it. For me, it’s a yes because the way I define roleplaying is in making decisions from the point-of-view of your character in a system designed to allow you to live out the life of one such player character. You have a maximum of 10 years to play in 5150 New Beginnings, with key updates to the characters in your Band every month.

What I like is the fact that the game is harkening back to my earlier days of skirmish wargaming and the idea of roleplaying with minimalist rules. I enjoy the promise of solo and co-op play. I wonder what ideas I can mine for running games at the table with friends too.

For the current sale price of $19.99 it’s a good buy. Just try to overlook the poor editing and crude layout because there’s good stuff under the hood.

Game on!

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