Had our first full-on playtest of StarNova Sunday. By that I mean creating characters intended for StarNova and playing exclusively with it, rather than swapping it in on the fly to test it out. It was a hellova good game! StarNova is both extremely gritty and explosively high powered, due to the exploding 6. My players loved it, ranking it just behind StarPerc and on a par with StarPool in their favorite mechanics! Their closest comparison was to Pendragon, where life can be tenuous and death fast. My players do not care at all for StarKarma, the randomless mechanic, BTW, though they all say it works fine. They just prefer some random action - any random action.
Their characters are fun! Most are performers of some type who work in acts in the Casino - an extremely dumb exotic dancer (stripper) named Candi, a stage magician named the Great Marvello and his equally gifted assistant, and a knife thrower/actor/dancer. There's also the scions of the Castella Family - the grandson of the Don, Fabrizzio, who has led the life of a playboy, but now must shoulder the burden of running the family now that his father is dead, his half-sister, daughter of the ex-playboy's father and his father's lifelong mistress who was killed with him, and the ex-playboy's driver-bodyguard. The young man is intelligent, but utterly untrained for this, and his most trusted companions are not the made men around his father, but the lounge acts from the Casino. The first session was extraordinarily funny, and wonderfully in character for all. The group find out that his father and mistress were murdered, most likely by a member of the family, which only serves to drive them closer together.
The Casino is on an "island" - a chunk of rock floating in the Necklace, a breathable gas torus (a la Niven's Smoke Ring) around a neutron star, with an artificial River - created by gravitic technology - endlessly writhing through the torus. These chunks of rock, covered with vegitation, orbit the neutron star and many are inhabited. This island is fairly small. Many are huge. I have painted a view of the island: