Shadows Over Sol
A future of hard sci-fi and horror...
Two hundred years from now what should be the shining beacon of the future is instead cloaked in conspiracy and horror. Humankind has expanded throughout the solar system, and there it has discovered mysteries older than humanity.
Well-Regarded (But Not Well-Ranked) [ edit ]
Shadows Over Sol is actually slightly older than both Mothership and Alien RPG, although not by much (about a year). It's also from an independent publisher (Tab Creations), and while many of the gamers who've tried it enjoyed it, it hasn't quite "caught on" the way those other two RPGs have, and it has an RPG Geek rank of ... well, of zero: not a single person has reviewed it (as of October 2020).
However, the game does have an average rating of 4.5/5 stars on Drive Thru RPG, and if you read various forums on the Internet you'll find plenty of praise for Shadows Over Sol. So while Tab Creations could perhaps use a better marketing team, this RPG is still definitely worth considering.
The Saga Machine System [ edit ]
Shadows Over Sol uses Tab Creations "Saga Machine" RPG system. Characters in this system have four mental and four physical stats (1-10, with 4 or 5 being average), as well as a set of skills (with roughly twenty to choose from).
The game uses a deck of cards to determine success (although an alternate, d10-based, system is provided in an appendix). Players draw a card and add their relevant attribute to the card's value (possibly with a skill bonus added also): if the number beats the actions targe number, it succeeds. Actions can also succeed by varying degrees.
A somewhat unique aspect of the system is that characters have another trait called "Edge" (ie. Luck). Players get to hold a number of cards in their hand based on this trait, and can play those cards in various ways (instead of taking a card from the top of the deck).
For more details, check out Tab Creation's summary of Saga Machine on their site.
Who Should Pick Shadows Over Sol? [ edit ]
As yet another space horror RPG from an independent publisher ... and one without any ENnie Awards, or even any RPG Geek rankings, at first it might seem like there's not much reason to recommend Shadows Over Sol over Mothership or Alien RPG.
However, being a bit older than it's competitors, Shadows Over Sol has a lot more material, with a fairly decent number of both source books and published adventures. Unlike Mothership, which focuses far more on rules so that you can create your own setting, and Alien RPG, which focuses exclusively on its own setting, Shadows Over Sol is set in a complex and detailed world (well, worlds), so perhaps it's biggest advantage is that setting itself.
There's also one more thing Shadows Over Sol has going for it: you can download the PDF of its core rulebook for free! Now technically you can do the same with Mothership, but that game at least encourages you to pay a few bucks: not Shadows Over Sol.
Ultimately, a gamer doesn't have to pick just one system, and with two of the best choices both offering a way to view their core rules for free ... you don't have to: you can download both books and see which appeals to you more (or you can even use ideas and bits from one game in another).