Last night I finished reading Exiles of the Stars, by Andre Norton. This is the second book in her Moon Magic series, and like many of her books features an outsider dealing with issues relating to separation and growth, while overcoming the immediate problem. It is set in a far future, where Free Traders are contracted to move cargo from one primitive planet to another
Reading this book, I was struck by how much the story and setting would suit an Old School sort of game. Everyone is fairly low powered, death is imminent at any time, and classes are at once rigid and generic. Solving mysteries and exploring maze like ruins are key, and the risk of being overtaken by those with magic (esper) powers is ever present. This started the creative juices flowing, and I started thinking about a sandbox game set in a vaguely Norton-esque universe, with the Star Patrol, Free Traders, Combines and Guilds mucking it up for the little people, and howling wilderness worlds loaded with Forerunner treasure, monsters, and secret pirate bases. Atomic rockets, blasters, stunners, fliters, tape computers, and all the good stuff.
Thinking about how such a game would be run, I immediately thought of Stars Without Number, the 0D&D based space exploration game from Sin Nomine. Since the rules in PDF are currently free (at the link above), I had a bit of a look through, and they seem pretty workable. The game uses 3d6 for skill checks (in a similar way to d20 games). Interestingly, a professional published version of this game is coming out soon from Mongoose in September... something to watch for. I think I will post more of a review of the rules later, once I have the chance to read them more thoroughly.