Last week, my son and two of his friends came over to start a Stars without Number mini-campaign. I read through my introduction. With dice in hand, they opened their free PDF* copies of “Stars without Number” and started building characters.
After each person rolled stats, we started talking about the kinds of characters. Aidan wanted to play a sniper or a bounty hunter. Jacob’s heart set on getting a spaceship. And Ben saw his character as a former courier, leveraging teleportation and precognition to his advantage.
They sifted through the backgrounds, and all chose to roll three times instead of choosing twice. Then spent time working through the foci. I wrote a quick summary in Table 136: Quick Breakdown of Characters.
|Aidan||Aisaak Jasper||Warrior (Thug)||Shoot-1, Sneak-0, Stab-0, Survival-2||Assassin, Wanderer|
|Ben||Marce Caero||Psychicic (Pilot)||Connect-0, Fix-0, Pilot-0, Trade-0, Precognition-1, Teleportation-0||Psychic Training|
|Jacob||Terathis Altair||Expert (Technician)||Fix-1, Know-1, Pilot-1||Starfarer, Tinkerer|
We talked through the characters, and I set them on Epidavra in the Ilios system.
Over the last decade, the Compass Sodality has gained governmental control of Isabela, Ilios, and Umbrete systems. Projecting its power from Zumeta (in the Isabela system), the Compass Sodality may have caused the recent disasters that struck the Oxport Federation.
|Alcazar (Umbrete)||Thick||No native||5M||TL2||Variable warm||Xenophiles (Ózu), Revolutionaries|
|Epidavra (Ilios)||Breathable||Human miscible||45M||TL4||Variable warm||Theocracy, Cultural Power|
|Inkberrow (Oxport)||Airless||Human miscible||25M||TL4||Variable cold||Minimal Contact, Hatred|
|Newton (Oxport)||Breathable||No native||16M||TL2||Warm||Hostile Space, Regional Hegemon|
|Ueda (Barium)||Breathable||Human miscible||27M||TL3||Temperate||Hostile Biosphere, Flying Cities|
|Zumeta (Isabela)||Invasive||Human miscible||Outpost||TL4||Variable warm||Regional Hegemon|
Jacob named him “Jane Karakas.” And I introduced them to Jane, a cybernetic man with exposed titanium right arm and leg. He chose to not have a synthetic replacement. Jane had recently completed a one-person show in the theater district. With reviews of “Didn’t see that coming” and “Well that sure was something” and “Simply unbelievable”
Building a Bit of Back Story
I wanted to establish 3 prior missions that the players had went on. I asked questions of the players about these missions.
“So Aidan, what was your first mission from Jane?”
Aidan responded “A stealth mission into a secured compound.”
“Great, stop there. And Ben, when you found out the target was a theater troupe during tech week, what was it you were charged to do?”
And Ben, “Why, kill the director. Except we inflicted heavier casualties.”
They also helped sneak in a prelate into a government building. Also did some mining of an asteroid.
In these questions, we established that Jane Karakas had a seemingly inscrutable agenda. Interested in theater, mining operations for pre-tech, and some government interference.
My reason for wanting a history of employment was to establish that Jane Karakas would entrust the characters with a spaceship. We had 2 sessions, and one character built a space pilot. Give them the ship.
Wrapping up their brief conversation with Jane Karakas, the PCs* agreed to travel to Alcazar. They were to fetch an artifact described on a paper scroll. They could contact Shu, a writer, and drug addict, to get more information. Jane gave them some illicit drugs as payment. Jane also requested, if possible, to bring them back a sonorous Ózu (a creature native to Alcazar).
Jane supplied the cargo; After all, when traveling its a good idea to have cargo instead of completing an errand for an eccentric patron. The PCs negotiated that if they were to bring back an Ózu, they could keep the money made selling the cargo. Good thing, as the cargo turned out to be over-priced.
They drilled from Epidavara (in Ilios) to Zumeta (in Isabela). Arriving in Zumeta, they drilled quickly to Umbrete.
In the Umbrete system, a patrol boat hailed them.
As part of the inspection, they bribed the postmaster and marines with elicit drugs. Marce Caero used his “Sense the Need” precognition power, and had secured additional drugs in an off-camera scene with Jane.
Having passed inspection, they landed on Alcazar at a pad of stone, steel, and lead mortar. They talked with a few Ózu and haggled to sell their goods (at a loss).
We drew our session to a close.
I may re-think my star system naming convention. I may want systems that have a different naming convention. I thought it might help to have the system and planet use the same cultural origin. We’ll see.
We used the quick mercantile system. It worked well. For the purchase price, Jane rolled a 12 on their behalf (so they bought almost as high as they could). And for the sale price, they rolled 8 (they were going to lose money). Fictionally, it highlighted that Jane Karakas had purchased goods with little concern for cost; But put the characters on the hook for paying them back.
In my haste to get going, I didn’t think over the protocols for leaving a planet, nor arriving. I’ve since spent some thought on that. Given that Alcazar has revolutionaries, and are in the neighborhood of a regional hegemon, I felt that I didn’t throw up enough checkpoints and interference.
I love the “Sense the Need” precognition power. I’m contemplating porting that to 5th Edition D&D. Such a great divination spell.
Sense the Need
At some point in the recent past, the psychic had a vague but intense premonition that a particular object would be needed. By triggering this power as an Instant action and Committing Effort for the day, the psychic can retroactively declare that they brought along any one object that they could have reasonably acquired and carried to this point. This object must be plausible given recent events; if the psychic has just been strip-searched, very few objects could reasonably have been kept, while a psychic who’s just passed through a weap- ons check couldn’t still have a loaded laser pistol.
To get things going, I used
swnt and my
gm-notepad with the free SWN*
data. I found the computer distracting. I instead prefer pen and paper.
I also think that I might break out my copy of Traveller to augment some planetary data. In particular, I’m looking at the Government and Law tables.