Star Frontiers was one of my favorite non-D&D games. While my friends loved Traveller. I was all in on Star Frontiers. Traveller and SF are two completely different games in the sci-fi genre. In my opinion, Traveller is a pure RPG while Star Frontiers incorporates role-play into a board game. It is my personal belief, being a pure RPG, Traveller is unified and therefore more balanced. The setting also doesn't hurt. However, I rarely play it.
Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn and Knight Hawks are both excellent games, but they are completely different games. Trying to integrate player characters into a fleet battle-type game is glitchy, to say the least. One of the biggest disappointments is summed up in this chart from Knight Hawks:
Holy hell, you need to max out an Alpha Dawn character to be able to fly a spaceship at minimum competency. A level 6 technician should be able to build a whole spaceship with little trouble, why would you need this level of skill to operate a spaceship?
Han Solo's ability to fix stuff is putting a blaster shot into it. I can't picture Maverick fueling his plane, he can't even put on fireproof gloves. Ok, Data could assemble pretty much anything, but he is a robot made of McGuffin but I can't imagine Sulu doing the same.
The second chart is even more annoying.
It perpetuates military skills are the best way to advance quickly. If you look at the chart from Alpha Dawn, this at least continues the trope started in the first book.
I had a strong desire to fix this back in the 80s in a simplistic fashion. Everyone got 3 skills to start, anyone could take spaceship skills from the get-go and I just accepted that spaceship skills were harder to level up in.
I did preserve the first chart of requirements as a social aspect of being a spacer. These were the minimum skills necessary to get a professional job on a ship. Rather amusingly, my players figured out exactly what I getting at and would role-play padding their resume to land jobs.
Recently, I decided to engage in a bit of confirmation bias and checked to see if anyone else saw this as a problem. A lot of people did see this as a problem at the time and today, and many of them even used this very technique to fix it.
Since I was engaging in confirmation bias and not fact-finding, I totally discounted people who had other modifications to these tables as being a less common option. I reserve the right to be wrong.
Let me know in the comments.
Interestingly, I did see many people playing the game straight. While I absolutely hate this solution it is firmly based in reality. Historically, astronauts were (and still are) brilliant people and a vanishingly small portion of the general population. It does make sense in that respect. I just don't like it for space opera. There is a case for leaving it alone but I wanted to have spaceships as an option from the get-go.
I blame this attitude of mine on some players' odd reactions to skills in a given era. Some players will opt to claim that their character can't swim, can't ride a horse, or drive a car in eras where most people can. They see that skill on a chart and not wanting to waste skill points don't select it. Then they assume that not ticking a box means zero ability. Most people who can't swim merely can't swim well. Most people who "can't" drive a car can totally explain the operation of a vehicle and merely lack the will to do so. This is just being wise to one's own limitations, not a lack of understanding or slight ability.
I have a whole post on silly things I won't let players do. That is D&D-themed, but you can read it anyway.
Speaking of posts, you can expect to see more posts about Star Frontiers soon. I want to have a campaign going shortly.