Zeb's Guide Rules...

Tchklinxa's picture
March 14, 2015 - 7:22pm
I am starting to reread Zeb's not just the parts I have very selectively used in the past. My original issue with it years ago was the revamp on skills & combat, but I am going to actually try and give it a shot... so Zeb fans any advice is welcome. 

There will probably be some things I will always have issues with like everyone has had, but I want to try and give the Zeb's mechanics a fairer shake than I may have given it ages ago as I do recognize there are also problems with some things in AD. 

"They say change is good, but it isn't." "Oh, the horror, the horror." was pretty much my reaction back in the day. 

 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

Mother's picture
March 14, 2015 - 7:55pm
Great idea. I've always wondered if people gave the mechanics of Zeb's a chance or if they dismissed it after noticing the other problems...I have never used Zeb's rules so I am interested in reading your comments after trying it out.

KRingway's picture
March 15, 2015 - 2:04am
We never had any problems with it at all, and used the Zebs' rules and skills for quite a few years. I always felt that it gave the players more options, skills-wise and the combat/resolution side of things seemed faster.

jedion357's picture
March 15, 2015 - 5:50am
I did use Zebs rules back in the day and created quite a few characters.

However, these days I'm of the oppinion that a rules mechanic that requires a table to resolve slows down play. The 1/2 ability score + 10%/level of AD is exceedingly fast.

Even back in the day I thought the AD skill system was clunky and loved the changes that Zebs brought. However, I discovered several years ago helping new to SF players role up characters with the SF 2000 rules (which are essentially Zebs skills on steroids) that SF 2000 and Zebs are way too fiddly for my tastes as skill systems. they broke every activity and subskill down into a separate skill and players have to pay attention to get all of the robotics, medical or computer skills if their intent is to play a character. new to SF players found this tedious. Today I, run AD rules for simplicity but prefer the "A Skilled Frontier" skill system.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Tchklinxa's picture
March 15, 2015 - 6:46am
Well I reread the sections I have not been using at all and I can see why I was upset back in the day, but honestly I have played worse game systems since, then what is presented in Zeb's. 

I can see though what they where going for in Zebs' and I will probably roll up a few test N/PC to do horrible things to. Test the rules & ideas behind them. Maybe even take an NPC from a module and see how hard revision  really is.

If I remember "A Skilled Frontier" was an article in one of the fan magzs... I will see if I can locate that and reread it as well.

We have been only playing ship combat with the club once in a while as they have all been wanting to play Pathfinder right now which I am not GMing which is good with all of hubbies health issues, so I am thinking good time to re-vamp everything test some things out, work out any issues rule changes might create from what I used to do in SF, and workup a few adventures... all with no pressure on me... RD department time for me Foot in mouth


 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
March 15, 2015 - 9:14am
What turned me off about the resolution system was the whole philosophy of "the better you roll, the better the results". If you have a 50% chance of doing something, you have a 50% chance of succeeding at it. Why does that have to be so complicated?

Applying the Zeb's resolution to the coin toss for the Superbowl:

"Visiting team calls heads."

The coin bounces on the ground fourteen times, rolls around, and finally settles on heads.

"Visiting team gets the ball."


"Visiting team calls heads."

The coin lands on heads without a single bounce or roll.

"Visiting team gets the ball and a three touchdown lead."

Yyyyyyeah, okayyyyyy...
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

RanulfC's picture
March 15, 2015 - 12:59pm
One thing while I was recently re-reading the AD rules that came to mind was a discussion I had with fellow players back in the day. AD and Zebs don't actually have that many "skills" but they break down everything into "tasks" as your "skills" which alway struck me as an odd way to do it. Re-creating a chart I did back then and now using color highliters to get a good feeling, I find that AD and KH had only about 16 "skills" between them, but dozens of "sub-skills" which were in effect "tasks" that the character with the relevent "skill" could perform. I've got to go through Zeb's again but a quick glance shows it to be pretty much the same except the "skills" are expanded.

I like AD resolution and mechanics better than Zebs, (and the history and background is right out :) ) but I DID like the single-roll, to-hit/damage done resolution of the color chart for specifically the reason it made cause and effect a single roll. (Which worked better for "mass" combat ala Volturnus-3 or spacecraft combat) For skills it was less efficent though I never thought of it the way Shadow does :)
(Rather than an automatic three touch down lead the Visiting team manages to turn the initial ball gain INTO a three touchdown lead. And in actual mechanics the straight binary roll would not matter how MUCH over or below the 50% you got as the answer is ONLY "yes-or-no" which was included in the mechanics :) )

Not that that really "saves" Zebs in my mind there were just to many "kludges" in it for me to use it as a main mechanic. (Then again my main "mechanic" has become Savage Worlds anyway :) ) I couldn't get "over" most of the flaws in Zebs and my players at the time weren't enough "into" SF in general (mostly D&D anyway) to consider a change. Though I DID "trick" another wargamer into a "conversion" KH game at one point we never actually finished the game...


Tchklinxa's picture
March 15, 2015 - 3:00pm
Well I read through the Skills and Combat and table stuff and yes they micro managed the skills which if I remember correct is why I disliked it at the time... but I have played worse and I may dig out my GURPS stuff to compair skill ideas. I have played SW but not in awhile. 

Now the feel I get on the combat rules is a real attempt (but I can see where people got frustrated) to make it more realistic and skill based versus PC raw ability based. Anyway it won't hurt me to fiddle with the Zeb rules a bit while I mull over changes in the setting I am making as well... I am thinking making FTL ships rarer or new tech or just so darn expensive only a few exist, maybe backing the adventure into a pre-FTL time period or right at the beginning of FTL being discovered... a Frontier pre-Sathar? 
 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."