Monday, January 22, 2018

Stars Without Number II: Sine Nomine Strikes Back

It has come to my attention that there is a new edition of Sine Nomine's Stars Without Number -- the appropriately named Stars Without Number (Revised Edition). This has rekindled an old interest of mine.

Longtime readers of my blog know that I had many incomplete attempts at building a campaign inside the setting of Stars Without Number (Confederation Chronicles posts). They all trailed off, in retrospect, because I was trying to recreate an old Hero System homebrew setting in a different system, and I got overwhelmed by the conversions.

This time, I have a different approach, and I'm going to try again.

Core Campaign Frame

I'm salvaging what I can from my old Condederation Chronicles posts; in fact it's from one of those failed restarts that I have this summary:

In "Confederation Chronicles: A Campaign Premise" parts 1 and 2, I decided that I was going to riff off of the Battlestar Galactica concept -- a fleet of ships trying to find their way home. Unlike that show, or the other inspiration show (Andromeda), they actually come from a stable part of the Imperium: a self-sufficient cluster of worlds and systems that survived the mysterious disintegration of their galaxy-spanning Empire.

And they've been charged to find a stable path of travel along linked routes back to the Throneworld.

In "Confederation Chronicles: A Mobile Base of Operations -- Part 01", I explore the benefits of a self-sufficient, ridiculously powered ship being available to the PCs, with Blake's 7, Andromeda, and Farscape as inspirations.

In "Confederation Chronicles: A Mobile Base of Operations -- Part 02", I look at how dialing back the power levels and scale might affect the setting, while looking at the other campaign elements shows like Battlestar Galactica, Robotech/Macross, Firefly, and Starblazers/Space Cruiser Yamato dealt with life on a ship.

In "Confederation Chronicles: A Mobile Base of Operations -- Part 03", I decide on the Stars Without Number source material I'll be using to build the campaign's traveling fleet: the Imago Dei and the Bruxelles-Class Battlecruiser sourcebooks in the Mandate Archive series.
However, I'm dropping the Confederation Chronicles part of things, and just embracing a lot of the elements (and ready-made tools, ships, and equipment) in the Stars Without Number setting.

My revised overview is as follows:

The Sol Finder initiative (working title) is a massive conglomeration of ships from various backgrounds with a single purpose -- to find a path across the various Sectors to the Terran Mandate worlds. A cabal of AIs have analyzed decades of data and determined the best route through lost sectors to Lost Terra.

My overall goal for this kind of meta-campaign, is to create a broad enough background wherein many different types of campaigns can be run. There are long-term campaigns that deal with the jump from a known Sector into a lost Sector, and the exploration and adventure that takes place as a result:
  • espionage campaigns to infiltrate and gather information in the new sector;
  • exploration campaigns to map out and uncover more clues as to how to progress toward the Terran Mandate worlds;
  • factional politics as the fleet's progress, discoveries, and own economic gravity impacts the sectors it passes through;
  • military campaigns (from police actions to war) as enemies known and unknown are encountered;
  • new technologies, psychic abilities, and organizations arise and impact the campaign.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Star Trek Adventures: Online Resources 2

Official Materials
Cover of the Star Trek Adventures:
These are the Voyages book
In addition to the main Star Trek Adventures rulebook, the following are now also available:

A Wiki with a Wealth of Material

You'll find at the Star Trek Adventures Resources Wiki, you can find a growing collection of documents that can help fill out the universe you're trying to populate. They include:
  • different sheets and character sheets from various eras
  • different ship registry sheets from various eras
  • links to different species builds
  • various space frames
  • adventures
  • GM & Player resources
  • NPCs

Mephit James' Blog

There are several blog posts here that tackle different types of Star Trek campaigns, including campaign for
 (updated: fixed prime link, added links to the individual campaigns)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Star Trek PLUS Star Wars: The Wormhole and The Empire

This is part of a series of posts that scours the internet for useful resources on the Star Wars vs. Star Trek discussion that is prevalent in fandom -- but with an eye towards a practical integration into an RPG campaign. Hence, the Star Trek PLUS Star Wars title.

In essence, these posts explore creating an additional neighbor / antagonist for Starfleet beyond our Romulan, Klingon, and other friends in the Milky Way Galaxy. I'm not sure how it would be for Star Wars adventurers entering the Trek universe, given (a) the pressing needs of the Rebellion against the Empire; (b) major technological jumps: transporter technology, replicators, warp, and -- my favorite -- the Genesis Device (also known as: hey you got another Death Star, let's make it a living world!).

The first entrant is this set of videos from the Resurrected Starships channel on YouTube:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek (part 01)

Star Wars vs. Star Trek (part 02)


Some things that I do like are:
  • the idea that the wormhole near Deep Space 9 somehow connects to a galaxy far, far away -- and to a time long ago. If events proceed more or less as constructed in this video, then you could have expeditions to the NOW of the galaxy of Star Wars... and what would you find there, centuries after the events in the Star Wars movies?
  • the strengths of Trek (diplomacy, intelligence gathering and study, and an infuriating ability to come up with breakthrough technologies to save the day) vs. the strengths of the Empire (the resources of an entire galaxy focused on war and subjugation, and a few brilliant and experienced strategies in charge of those forces).
  • the possibility of corridor battles between Star Wars and Star Trek forces, due to the joys of transporter technology, and modulating frequencies.
  • the use of the Rebellion as a possible foil to the invading armies of the Empire.
  • the hint of the alarmingly large number of nigh-omnipotent (and omnipotent) beings in the Trek universe as an expression of GM fiat, should things get out of hand.
Some things I didn't like quite as much:
  • the strong contributions of personas like Thrawn and Vader to the conflict; I'd have preferred generic references to brilliant personas or powerful Force users, but there are only a few of these of note in the Star Wars universe (by design).
  • the Organians didn't make themselves felt here? The Dominion didn't stir themselves either? Granted, it would've made things more convoluted, but IDIC does have its benefits in this kind of conflict.
  • what about them droids? Trek may have Data as its sentient construct, but Star Wars has arguably sentient mechs in many shapes and sizes -- wouldn't this be of interest to the Federation (or any one of their allies / enemies) in this war?

Friday, January 5, 2018

Flights of Fandom: Star Wars Gaming

To me, Classic Star Wars is what Lucas had envisioned: a return to the pulpy, swashbuckling, never-tell-me-the-odds heroes against dastardly villians in a never-ending series of space opera cliffhangers and reversals.

But it also transcended that. In addition to the well-worn hero's journey, there was a celebration of friendship and loyalty, and an exultation in having close friends adventuring together and -- despite seemingly adversarial banter -- triumphing in the face of overwhelming odds.

Perhaps, in light of the conflict in fandom this day, it's time to explore what Star Wars means to us in our own circles of friends and gaming buddies -- through the classic Star Wars RPG!

Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game 30th Anniversary Edition

You can pre-order this limited edition recreation through the website of Fantasy Flight games, if you're eager to have the original edition of the book. I owned one of these way back when -- two of my prized possessions (I left it in the hands of a friend who has since drifted away) were the Star Wars RPG rulebook and sourcebook.

The price is a bit steep, and delivery to my country is always expensive. But hey, if I can pull together the creds -- and pay off Jabba first, of course -- who knows? The system really supported that seat-of-the-pants-adventuring feel, and the starship combat, chases, and melee combat resolution was fast and fun. And there was something magical about seeing all the technical specs, the in-universe ads and recruitement posters, and the pitch-perfect section on gamemastering that nailed what adventures in Star Wars are all about (based on the 3 original movies, anyway).

By the way: these books, for a time, were canon, and the basis for some of the Expanded Universe novels.

Classic System, Expanded Source Material

Of course, if you're not eager to cough up the creds for this limited edition set of books, you can always grab the classic West End Games system rules online. There's a generic line, now in the care of Nocturnal Media, that you can use to run your space opera games (d6 Space) with the same ruleset as Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. You can even grab the supplement (d6 Space Ships), so that your interstellar travels aren't limited to a Stock Light Freighter.

And you can of course go to places and settings that were never covered in the chronicles of adventures a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away:
  • there's Bill Coffin's Septimus setting, which uses the same system, which will allow adventuring inside a Dyson Sphere and trying your luck against clashing factions within.
  • there's Exilium by Fire Ruby Designs, which is a setting that allows you to play post-humans in a planning-spanning setting called the Flame Worlds.
and there are a number of resources out there online that you can search for that support the Classic Star Wars ruleset and setting.

Me, I'm trying to carve out time to read the new Star Wars RPGs by Fantasy Flight Games, but I'm a bit confused by all the offerings. Staying with the classic theme of this post, I'd probably target the Star Wars: Force and Destiny RPG.