Let’s Read “Stars without Number” - “Systems - Hacking, Advancement, and Hazards”

The book title “Revised Stars without Number: A Science Fiction Role Playing Game by Kevin Crawford” overlaying a star field
A part of my series. Go grab your free copy of SWN and join in.

Prior detailed systems:

Remaining are:

  • Hacking
  • Character Advancement
  • Environmental Hazards


A quick discussion about accessing computers. You can hack in a Main Action if you spend an hour planning, or spend 10 minutes for an off-the-cuff. If you don’t have 10 minutes, you can spend a single Main Action at an increased penalty.

You can acquire data or control a system (for a short period of time). Progressive hacking attempts get harder. And failure means there is a chance of triggering an alarm.

And if you are hacking something corporate or government, you’ll need to have direct access to a line and sometimes through two points (via line shunt).

From hacking you can:

  • Answer a specific question
  • Get general information
  • Complete database acquisition
  • Suppress a system
  • Subvert a system
  • Sabotage a system

What I like about this system, is planning matters, but also sneaking in to gain access to a terminal or plant a line shunt matters. The planning of a hack is a team affair, and the skill check for hacking is a quick matter.

Character Advancement

Characters advance quick during the early levels - a session or two per level - up until level 4, then advancement begins slowing down. So that by level 11 you’ll need 12 or so sessions for advancement.

When you level up you:

  • Roll your hit points again. Take the new result if its higher, or take the previous result + 1 if its lower.
  • Increase your attack bonus, if applicable. Warriors increase each level, others gain a bonus every even level
  • Improve each saving throw by 1.
  • Gain and spend 3 skill points; Experts get 1 extra skill point.
  • Choose a new Foci at level 2, 5, 7, and 10. If the Foci grants a skill rank, check the additional considerations.
Table 91: Stars without Number Skill Cost and Limits
New Skill Level Skill Point Cost Minimum Character Level
0 1 1
1 2 1
2 3 3
3 4 6
4 5 9
Psychic’s may buy additional discipline techniques with their skill points.
Table 92: Attribute Boost Cost and Minimum Level
Attribute Boost Skill Point Cost Minimum Character Level
1st 1 1
2nd 2 1
3rd 3 3
4th 4 6
Final 5 9
Characters may buy, at most, 5 attribute boosts.

Environmental Hazards

SWN details the dangers of space:

  • Falling
  • Poisons
  • Diseases
  • Radiation
  • Hard Vacuum

Training in Heal or Biopsionics can make all the difference in treating exposure to these hazards.


The Hacking system reminds me of Divination spells in D&D. Consider the availability of a tremendous amount of information, and its possible impact. Characters will most certainly seek information in their planning.