Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Inspiration: Dreadstar

Vanth Dreadstar with sword in hand.
Dreadstar was a long-running epic comic series. It was essentially a space opera / space fantasy story with a mix of moderately powerful to ridiculously powerful characters with the self-appointed task of bringing down an oppressive empire (having already neutered the opposing one in the 1st issue).

As if facing off against the might of an intergalactic empire wasn't enough, the head of that empire -- Lord Papal -- was granted powers to face off against the heroes of the story by the gods that he served.

It was a great run, full of mind games, strategy, betrayals, and personal tragedy.

What can we grab from this comic series?

Campaign Premise

The series was premised on a core team of characters with a very specific goal -- to bring down an Empire. Even with powers abilities far, far beyond those of normal citizens of the empires this is a huge undertaking.

To achieve their ends the had to gather allies, secure technologies that could unbalance the delicate balance of power with the OTHER empire in existence, elude capture from determined and highly skilled and funded individuals, and complete their attempt to erode popular support of Lord Papal and his Church.

Well, they don't think small. Dare I say -- sandbox campaign?

Characters and Teamwork

Individually, the members of the Dreadstar team are pretty formidable:
  • Vanth Dreadstar - bonded to a mystical sword crafted by a god, he is at least twenty times stronger than a normal human, can use his sword to absorb and reflect energy attacks, can blast things with the same sword, has a regenerative healing ability, and is a superbly skilled hand-to-hand combatant.
  • Syzgy Darklock - powerful mage with a dark past (he traded something precious to him for power), he is skilled at magic, mental abilities, and a host of other things. He can be surprised and knocked out, but if he isn't he can make you wish you were dead a hundred times over.
  • Willow - blind telepath and technopath (she can control computers and machines) who was trained in combat by Vanth and Syzgy, and can see through the eyes of her pet monkey (and anyone else open to her telepathy) she acts as the mindlink to the team.
  • Oedi - the deadly Cat-man of the group. Swift, agile, possessed of keen feline senses and driven by revenge.
  • Skeevo - the resident smuggler who's a relative lightweight in combat but wealthy with resources, contacts, and sneakiness.

Together, however, they're damn near unstoppable. The best way to take them on is to separate them (GMs take note) and deal with the resulting gaps in the skillset. But that's not always easy. I mean, Vanth and Syzygy survived a nuclear blast that decimated an entire -- ah, but that's a post for another day.

Players, think about completing your party similarly, and be wary about your team-ups. You want to be like these guys when taking on an empire.


  1. Dreadstar is indeed some good stuff and great inspiration for gaming, no doubt.

  2. May I nominate it as a candidate once the Warlord Wednesdays are over?


That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.