Let’s Read "Stars without Number" - Example Character Creation

Rolling up a quick and random character

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.

Let’s roll up a character or two for Stars without Number: Revised Edition (SWN 📖). Character creation in SWN starts off a bit like Dungeons and Dragons: Basic/Expert (B/X 📖) Dungeons and Dragons (D&D 📖).

Rolling Attributes

In attribute order, you roll 3d6 for each attribute. Once done, you may replace one attribute score with a 14. One thing of note, SWN has a different attribute score modifier. See Table 85: Stars without Number Ability Score Modifiers for those modifiers.

My character after roling up their attributes.
Attribute Scores
Strength (Str 📖) 9
Dexterity (Dex 📖) 10
Constitution (Con 📖) 7 (−1)
Intelligence (Int 📖) 11 (+0)
Wisdom (Wis 📖) 7 (−1) 14 (+1)
Charisma (Cha 📖) 13

I bump the 7 in Wis to a 14. Instead of rolling, the Referee may allow you to use the default stat array: 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 7. In that case you assign the scores and don’t replace an attribute score with a 14.

Picking a Background

Next up, is a background. I can either pick one or roll. Each SWN background has a quick summary, a free skill, quick pick for skills, and two tables: Growth and Learning.

I roll and get a Spacer; a dweller in deep-space habitats. I get Fix‐0 and then have a few options. At this point, I can pick two skills from the Learning table or roll three times on a combination of the Growth (See Table #212) or Learning (See Table #213).

Table 212: Stars without Number—Spacer Background Growth Options
d6Growth
1+1 Any Attribute
2+2 Physical
3+2 Physical
4+2 Mental
5Exert
6Any Skill
Table 213: Stars without Number—Spacer Background Learning Options
d8Learning
1Administer
2Connect
3Exert
4Fix
5Know
6Pilot
7Program
8Talk

I’m going to roll on the tables. I roll a 1 on Growth, and get a +1 to any attribute. Decision point, do I want a +1 Charisma or a +1 Constitution? Both will increase the modifier by 1. I’m going to go with Charisma. I’m seeing this character as more of a soft touch, and someone avoiding dangerous situations.

For my second roll, I get an 8 on Learning; opening up Talk-0. Looks like my initial thoughts about character are taking shape.

For my last roll, I get a 4 and bump my Fix to rank 1.

My character after with background growth and learning.
Attribute Scores
Str 9
Dex 10
Con 7 (−1)
Int 11 (+0)
Wis 14 (+1)
Cha 13 14 (+1)
Skills
Fix-1
Talk-0

Maybe this character was a deep-space communications operator; They would spent multiple weeks on a communication beacon fixing and relaying information. Or maybe they were a space DJ, broadcasting from their little satellite.

Choosing a Class

In the free version of Stars without Number you have four basic options: Expert, Warrior, Psychic, or Adventurer. In the paid version, you have a few more: Arcanist, Magister, Adept, and Artificial Intelligence (AI 📖). As I haven’t yet written about the paid version, I’ll stick with the four basic options.

I don’t see this character as a warrior. I can see an expert, psychic, or adventurer. I’m going to go with an adventurer psychic/expert.

As an adventurer, I won’t have the experts “re-roll a non-combat skill once per scene” ability. I’ll also be limited to one Psychic discipline.

I roll 1d6-1 for hit points; I’ll start with 1 Hit Point (HP 📖). I rolled a 2, but subtracted one for my CON modifier. My Psychic Effort is 2.

My character after picking their class.
Attribute Scores
Str 9
Dex 10
Con 7 (−1)
Int 11 (+0)
Wis 14 (+1)
Cha 14 (+1)
Skills
Fix-1
Talk-0
Hit Points
1
Psyhic Effort
2
Base Attack Bonus
+0

Picking a Foci

Next, I need to pick two foci; Each first level character gets one. An expert gets a second focus at first level. The one from the expert may not be a combat focus.

Building on the communications person, I’m going to go with Authority and Connected.

Gain Lead as a bonus skill. Once per day, you can make a request from an NPC who is not openly hostile to you, rolling a Cha/Lead skill check at a difficulty of the NPC’s Morale score. If you succeed, they will comply with the request, provided it is not harmful or extremely uncharacteristic.
Gain Connect as a bonus skill. If you’ve spent at least a week in a not-entirely-hostile location, you’ll have built a web of contacts willing to do favors for you that are no more than mildly illegal. You can call on one favor per game day and the GM decides how far they’ll go for you.
, Stars without Number: Revised Edition p20
My character after choosing their foci.
Attribute Scores
Str 9
Dex 10
Con 7 (−1)
Int 11 (+0)
Wis 14 (+1)
Cha 14 (+1)
Skills
Connect-0
Fix-1
Lead-0
Talk-0
Hit Points
1
Psyhic Effort
2
Base Attack Bonus
+0
Foci
Authority-1
Connected-1

Picking a Psychic Discipline

I’m always a sucker for diviners and prognosticators; However, I’m going to go with Telepath.

The telepath can obtain a progressively-deeper understanding of a sentient target’s thoughts. The target must be visible or otherwise perceptible to the telepath’s unaided senses. Opening a contact requires the telepath to Commit Effort for the day as a Main Action, and the contact lasts for a scene at most unless augmented by other techniques.

The depth of contact that can be made depends on the psychic’s Telepathy skill. A single contact can use any or all of the effects permitted to a telepath of the user’s skill level. Basic forms of contact do not allow for a saving throw, though more advanced probes allow the target to make a Mental saving throw to resist. On a successful save, no form of this technique that allows a save can be used on them for the rest of the scene.

Level-0: Observe emotional states in a target. Intense emotions provide a single word or image related to the focus of the feelings.

, Stars without Number: Revised Edition p40

With my character’s foci and telepathy, they’ll certainly have a lot of sway in conversations.

My character after picking their psychic discipline.
Attribute Scores
Str 9
Dex 10
Con 7 (−1)
Int 11 (+0)
Wis 14 (+1)
Cha 14 (+1)
Skills
Connect-0
Fix-1
Lead-0
Talk-0
Hit Points
1
Psyhic Effort
2
Base Attack Bonus
+0
Foci
Authority-1
Connected-1

Finalizing the Character

I have one more skill to pick; It can’t be a Psychic skill, but it’s fully my choice. I’m going to grab Trade-0; With a focus on relationships, my character needs some way to exploit that.

My character finalized before purchasing gear.
Attribute Scores
Str 9
Dex 10
Con 7 (−1)
Int 11 (+0)
Wis 14 (+1)
Cha 14 (+1)
Skills
Connect-0
Fix-1
Lead-0
Talk-0
Trade-0
Hit Points
1
Psyhic Effort
2
Base Attack Bonus
+0
Foci
Authority-1
Connected-1

Conculsion

I still need to purchase my gear, but otherwise I have a complete character.

Stars without Number’s character creation is comparable in complexity to Dungeons and Dragons: Fifth Edition (5E 📖) character creation. In ten minutes or so, I have a ready to go (albeit fragile) first level character.

Comparison to Traveller

Stars without Number anchors firmly in the “clonse of D&D” space. The goal is to quickly make a character and get playing. Contrast this with Traveller, in which character creation is it’s own mini-game.

In my Let’s Read “Traveller: Core Rulebook” series, I made four example characters:

Pat
A pilot and astrogator
Quinn
A veteran gun slinging psychic
Kris
An administrator and advocate
Jean
A gun lugging rogue

When I look at those characters, Traveller produces many more hooks for the Referee. The cost is in up front time of making a character.

And while I chose to make a random SWN character, the rules are written such that it’s easy to make the character I want. Whereas in Traveller, I’m at the mercy of the dice rolls and the emerging character.

As written, your Stars without Number begins their life once the character is created. Whereas in Traveller, the character has lived an extensive life before they begin their adventures.