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Free Edition

Table of Contents
Into the Waiting Night 1
Character Creation 3
Psionics 29
Systems 45
Equipment and Vehicles 61
Starships 93
The History of Space 121
Sector Creation 129
Adventure Creation 173
Xenobestiary 193
Factions 211
Game Master Resources 231

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If you enjoy the content in this free version of Stars Without Number: Revised Edition, you can
get even more with the paid PDF version at the Sine Nomine Publishing webstore at <TBD
link>, or pick up both the PDF and print versions at <DriveThruRPG link>.
What does the paid version add? It includes transhuman campaign rules for body-swap-
ping post-scarcity adventures, OSR-compatible space magic for GMs who like a little more
fantasy in their sci-fi, heroic PC rules for star-striding space operatic protagonists, True AI
rules for playing the half-embodied godminds of the far future, planetary society guidelines
for building interesting new cultures, and mech rules for campaigns that like a little humanoid
armored vehicle spice to their play. All told, its more than sixty pages of piping-hot content.
And if even that isnt enough, scoop up some of the existing first edition Stars Without
Number offerings, like the space-navy adventures of Skyward Steel, the espionage campaign
tools of Darkness Visible, or the merchant trader guide that is Suns of Gold. This revised version
was built for backward compatibility, so nothing will stop your all-new adventures.

ISBN 978-1-936673-94-0
2017 Sine Nomine Publishing, Inc.
Written by Kevin Crawford
Cover background provided by NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI), and edited by Jeff Brown.
Interior art by Jeff Brown, Christof Grobelski, Norah Khor, Aaron Lee, Joyce Maureira, Nick Ong, Grzegorz Pedrycz,
and Tan Ho Sim. Some art grandfailure / Adobe Stock.
Character sheet by Brian McGillivray
INTO THE WAITING NIGHT
Welcome, reader, to Stars Without Number, a science Stars Without Number is above all a set of tools
fiction role-playing game. Within the pages of this for players and game masters bent on sci-fi adventure.
book you will find all that you require to forge mighty While the setting is built to provide a wide scope for
tales both of victory and bitter defeat amid the silent daring deeds, the game is fundamentally meant to be
stars above. You will fashion heroes fit for this new reshaped and refocused to suit your particular interests
age of exploration and rediscovery, men and women and desires. Whether a gritty game of desperate mer-
capable of unearthing the lost wonders of humanitys cenary gunmen in an interstellar war zone or a dashing
fallen empire. The scattered sectors of the old Terran campaign of star-faring adventurers in a space-operatic
Mandate have been out of communication for centu- sector, the game is meant to fit the needs and tone of
ries, and no one living can know all the strange won- your desired play.
ders that have been born in the Silence. Every fresh Stars Without Number belongs to the old-school
world is a new marvel to discover, and the brave souls renaissance trend in gaming, and draws much of its
willing to repair the broken web of contact can expect mechanical inspiration from the classic games of the
rich rewards for their efforts. seventies and the work of such authors as Gary Gygax,
Stars Without Number is not only a game of discov- Tom Moldvay, Zeb Cook, Marc Miller, and other lu-
ery, however. There are adventures to be had in more minaries of those days. While many people now prefer
familiar places as well. New polities and young empires different mechanical frameworks for their play, these
have sprung up in the centuries since the collapse of the old-school rules are understood by a tremendous
Terran Mandate, and they struggle with each other as number of gamers and form a convenient lingua franca
hotly as their technology and resources allow. The right between many different OSR games. These games are
hero at the right time can shift the fate of worlds, and usually broadly compatible with each other, and allow
heroes willing to fight for their beliefs can be the great- players to loot material from many different authors
est resources a struggling star nation possesses. There and time periods with limited effort at conversion.
are adventures to be had in dealing with the powers This game is also designed to be a sandbox game,
of a stellar sector, where men and women are needed one built to ease the creation of active, living campaign
to foil the sinister plans of enemies and bring victory. worlds where the PCs arent the only important figures,
Not every hero has a mind for high goals, howev- and where a hero doesnt necessarily have any narrative
er. Many desire nothing more than freedom and the armor against failure and death. While it can certainly
credits to enjoy it. Whether hauling cargo to backwater be played in a more conventional adventure path or
worlds or selling their lasers to the highest bidder, these story-arc manner, Stars Without Number is stocked
mercenary adventurers go where the pay is good and with a wide range of tools, techniques, and guidelines
the danger is acceptable. Some have greater ideals than for easing sandbox play. The surprise and freshness
their next patrons pay, while others have no devotion inherent in a good sandbox game can be a refreshing
to anything but their own interest. Stars Without Num- change of pace for many groups, and in this book youll
ber has room for both kinds of heroes, and tools to help find what you need to play in that style.
a game master provide the adventures they require. The book you hold in hand right now is the re-
vised edition of the original 2010 version of the game.
A Word to Newbies In compiling the revision, I have been careful to keep it
compatible with the existing material for the game, so
If Stars Without Number is your first tabletop you should be able to use original edition supplements
role-playing game, youre a rare soul. Most of with minimal fuss. Rather than changing the bones of
the readers of this book will already be familiar the system, I have instead added additional material to
with the hobby, but fear not; tabletop RPGs arent help GMs and entertain players, expanding the scope
hard to understand. Just think of them as a pen- of the game. If you are reading the free PDF version of
cil-and-paper equivalent of a computer RPG, with this game, you will find everything you need for a full
a game master or GM in place of the computer, campaign in these pages. If you have the deluxe version
and 2-5 players playing player character avatars. in hand, you will find almost a hundred pages of bonus
Youll need paper, pencils, and a set of poly- content to supply you with tools for transhuman sci-
hedral dice or a dice app to play the game. You fi campaigns, space-operatic heroes, stellar wizardry,
can get gaming dice online easily. When the book mechs, artificial intelligences, and tools for building
tells you to roll 2d10+1, for example, it means sci-fi societies.
to roll two ten-sided dice and add them together, Above all, Stars Without Number is your game now.
then add one to the result. d00 means to roll two There is no one correct way to play it. There is only
10-sided dice and read them as ones and tens. your way to play it, and you should feel free to make it
the game you want to play.
CHARACTER CREATION
Before you can begin playing Stars Without Number, empire that conquered my world. Whatever it is, it
you need to roll up a character. While the game can should give your character an immediate reason to go
theoretically work with just a single player and a GM, out and do something.
things work best with 25 friends in addition to the This will to act is especially crucial in Stars With-
GM. A lone adventurer can get in a lot of trouble out out Number, because this game is designed to support
there, and a small group can find it hard to include all a sandbox style of gaming. Unlike many other games
the different skills and talents that are often required that encourage the development of a particular story
to survive a sticky situation. or the playing out of a specific plot line, Stars Without
With that in mind, you and the others in your Number presents an entire interstellar sector to your
gaming group should give a little thought to making characters and invites you to choose for yourself how
characters that work well together. Grim loners make to experience it. Stories will arise based on what your
good book protagonists, but they dont survive well characters do and how they respond to the adventure
when theres no author around to bail them out. situations provided by the GM.
When making a character, some players like to As a player, you need to cooperate with your GM.
simply throw the dice and see where they lead. Others This doesnt necessarily mean following every lead and
prefer to know a little more about the game world and hook youre given without demurral, but it does mean
like to have more detail provided beforehand about the that you need to respond to the situations and possi-
worlds and themes of the game. For those whod prefer bilities that are given to you.
a more detailed discussion of the world of Stars Without You also need to keep in mind that your adven-
Number, you can skip ahead to page 120 and read up on turers exist in a very large world that is not scaled to
it there. For the rest of you your characters abilities. If you insist on throwing your
characters into situations or challenges that seem over-
What Players Need To Know whelming, the odds are that they will overwhelm you.
Your character is an adventurer in the year 3200, a Scouting, reconnaissance, and careful intelligence gath-
dweller among the scattered worlds of a great human ering will help you recognize no-win situations before
diaspora. For whatever reason, he or she has decided you push ahead into them. By the same token, dont
to leave their old life behind and take up a starfaring hesitate to flee if your party appears to be facing certain
existence, daring perils and seeking new frontiers in doom. A keen sense of when to decamp the field is
search of glory, riches, or their own personal ambitions. often an experienced adventurers most valuable asset.
Many worlds have recovered from the despera-
tion of the centuries-long Silence, and can once again Rolling a Character
manufacture spacecraft and other advanced technology.
Other worlds are lost worlds, still cut off from inter- Stars Without Number belongs to a somewhat older
stellar trade and forced to make do with the resources tradition in tabletop RPGs, one where characters
of their own planet. Lostworlders are often considered arent so much built as they are rolled. Players
barbaric by technologically advanced worlds. often dont know who exactly theyre going to be
Tramp freighters, small merchant ships, and scout playing in a campaign, and rely on random rolls to
craft serve most worlds, even the most backward. If determine a heros aptitudes and skills. Part of the
your character comes from a primitive or isolated cul- pleasure of the game is throwing these new-rolled
ture, its probable that he or she hitched a ride aboard cyphers into play and exploring their personalities
such a ship to travel to a more cosmopolitan life. It may and motivations directly through the events of the
or may not have been a voluntary choice. adventures they undertake.
In actual play, your character should be motivated In most modern games, however, a player
to act, and to act as part of a group. The game does expects to be able to create exactly the kind of PC
not deal well with hostile loners, apathetic brooders, or theyve envisioned before the campaign begins.
other characters that have to be coaxed into engaging They dont want to rely on random rolls to give
with the world and cooperating with the rest of the them the character theyre going to be playing.
group. The world of Stars Without Number is danger- This is a perfectly valid preference, and play-
ous, and characters who cringe from peril or insist on ers who want to have full control over creating
facing it alone will find only boredom or an early grave. their hero can do so with an attribute array and
Every character should have a goal from the very skills picked from a selected background. Even
start. This might be something as simple as become so, players without strong feelings on the matter
wealthy beyond my fondest dreams of avarice or be might find it refreshing to let their heros past be
known as the greatest pilot in the sector. It might be discovered by the unpredictable chance of the dice.
as elaborate as engineer the downfall of the interstellar
4 Summary of Character Creation

A Summary of Character Creation


For your convenience, heres a quick summary of the you can add two points to either Intelligence,
character creation process. Experienced players can Wisdom, or Charisma, or divide the bonus be-
simply go down the list to generate their next interstel- tween two of them.
lar freebooter, while those new to the game can use it as
a guide reference as they go through the steps detailed 6. Choose your class, representing those talents
on the following pages. A blank character sheet can be you have that are most relevant to an adven-
found at the end of the book. turers lifestyle. If your hero isnt well-described
Note that some steps indicate that you should roll by Warrior, Expert, or Psychic, you can choose
or pick skills, as described on page 7. The first time you Adventurer and mix your class abilities.
roll or pick a skill, it starts at level-0. The second time,
it becomes level-1. The third time, you can instead pick 7. Choose your foci, representing the side talents
any other non-psychic skill of your choice thats less or particular specializations of your hero. You
than level-1. No novice heros skills can exceed level-1 can pick one level of a focus of your choice.
during character creation. Characters with the Expert class or the Partial
Expert feature of the Adventurer class get one
1. Roll your six attributes or assign them from an level of a non-combat, non-psychic focus for
array, using Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, free in addition to this. They can spend both
Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Attributes levels on the same focus, starting with level 2
reflect the basic potential of your hero. Roll 3d6 in it if they wish. Characters with the Warrior
six times and assign them in order, or use an class or Partial Warrior feature of the Adventur-
array of 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 7 assigned as you wish. er class can do the same in choosing one level of
If you randomly roll your scores you may then a combat focus.
pick one attribute to change to a score of 14.
8. Optionally, if your GM is allowing alien PCs or
2. Mark down your attribute modifiers for each VI or True AI PCs, you can make your character
score. When rolling dice that are affected by an into one such creature by spending your focus
attribute, you dont apply the whole score; in- level on the appropriate origin focus. Aliens and
stead, you apply the attribute modifier. A score VIs are described in the Xenobestiary chapter,
of 3 is a -2, 47 is a -1, 813 is no modifier, starting on page 192, while True AIs are part
1417 is +1, and 18 is +2. of the deluxe Stars Without Number core book,
starting on page 280.
3. Pick a background from the list on page 9, one
that most closely reflects your heros past ex- 9. Now pick one non-psychic skill of your choice to
periences. You gain the skill listed under the reflect your heros outside interests, natural tal-
background name at level-0, which equates to ents, hobby expertise, or other personal focus.
an ordinary working knowledge of it.
10. If youve chosen the Psychic class or chosen to be
4. Decide whether to roll for additional skills or an Adventurer with the Partial Psychic ability,
pick them. If you pick skills, you can choose two you are a psychic PC, with powers described
more skills from the Learning table for your in the following section, starting on page 28.
background, with the exception of entries that Psychics can pick two psychic skills from those
say Any Skill, which you may not pick. You listed on page 8, while Partial Psychics can pick
cannot pick entries from the Growth table. If one. If a Psychic picks the same skill twice, they
youre not sure what to pick, just take the Quick get it at level-1 expertise, and can pick a free
Skills listed for your background at level-0, level-1 technique from those listed for that dis-
which include your backgrounds beginning skill. cipline. Both Psychics and Partial Psychics get
the level-0 abilities associated with their skills,
5. If you choose to roll for your skills, you can roll up as described under each discipline they possess.
to three times, dividing up your rolls between Both also have a maximum Effort score equal to
the Growth and Learning tables as you wish. 1 plus their highest psychic skill plus the better of
When you roll on the Growth table, some re- their Wisdom or Constitution modifiers.
sults may say +2 Physical or +2 Mental. In
the former case, you can add two points to ei- 11. Roll your maximum hit points on 1d6, adding
ther Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution, or one your Constitution modifier. Even a penalty cant
point to two different stats. In the latter case, reduce your hit points below 1. Warrior PCs
Summary of Character Creation 5

Stars Without Number Character Sheet


Name
18 Background
Administer
Connect
Pilot
Program
Work
Biopsionics
Hitpoints / Conditions Max: Attributes
3 (-2) | 4-7 (-1) | 8-13 (+0) | 14-17 (+1) | 18 (+2)
Exert
Fix
Punch
Shoot
Metapsionics
Precognition 11 STR 1, 2
3 Heal
Know
4, 5, 9
Sneak
Stab
Telekinesis
Telepathy
(1D6 + Con) x Level Warriors: Additional +2 per level DEX

Lead Survive Teleportation System Strain Permanent:


Class CON
Notice Talk
6 Perform Trade
+3sp per lvl (Experts: +1 bonus non-combat) Cost: new value + 1 Max: +2 at lvl 3 | +3 at lvl 6 | +4 at lvl 9 Max = CON
INT

Level XP
Warrior = +Lvl | Other = +(Lvl 2) Saves WIS

Homeworld Lvl 2 = 3xp Lvl 7 = 39xp


Base Atk Bonus +
12
Partial Warrior = +1 at lvl 1 & lvl 5
Skill Points
Physical Evasion Mental

Employer
Lvl 3 = 6xp
Lvl 4 = 12xp
Lvl 5 = 18xp
Lvl 8 = 54xp
Lvl 9 = 72xp
Lvl 10 = 93xp
Foci +1 Focus at lvl 2, lvl 5, lvl 7 & lvl 10 17 CHA

Boosts: 1st: 1sp (lvl 1) | 2nd: 2sp (lvl 1)


Lvl 16 - lvl - [Str | Con] 16 - lvl - [Dex | Int] 16 - lvl -[Wis | Cha] 3rd: 3sp (lvl 3) | 4th: 4sp (lvl 6) | 5th: 5sp (lvl 9)
Species Lvl 6 = 27xp Lvl 11+ = +24
Cybernetics / Innate Abilities
Weapons Range and Ammo Total Atk Bonus
Lvl
Name
Mods
+
Lvl
Name
Mods 14, 15 + 7,8 Lvl
Psionic Techniques +1 on new Psychic Skill Lvl

Name
Mods
+
Lvl
Name
+
Mods

Name
Lvl 10
Mods
+
Readied Items Max Enc = STR 2
Armor

Name
Mods
AC
13
Name AC
Mods 16 Credits Debts
Psionic Effort Effort: 1 + Highest Psychic Skill + Highest of Wis or Con Max:

Name AC
Mods

and Adventurers with the Partial Warrior class 16. Record your Armor Class, the measure of how
option add 2 points to this total. Hit points in- hard it is to hurt your hero in a fight. Different
dicate how close your hero is to being defeated. suits of armor grant different Armor Classes; if
you arent wearing any armor at all, your base
12. Note down any base attack bonus you may have. AC is 10. Add your Dexterity modifier to this. In
The higher the attack bonus, the easier it is for order to hurt your PC, an enemy has to roll an
your hero to land a telling blow or shot on a attack roll on a d20, adding their attack bonus
hostile opponent. For most PCs, this bonus is and equaling or exceeding your Armor Class.
+0. If you are a Warrior or an Adventurer with
the Partial Warrior class option, its +1. 17. Note down your beginning saving throw scores
for your Physical, Evasion, and Mental saving
13. Choose one of the equipment packages on page 25 throws. Physical saves against poison, disease,
or roll 2d6 x 100 to find out how many starting or exhaustion are 15 minus the best of your
credits you have with which to buy gear. Strength or Constitution modifiers. Evasion
saves to dodge sudden perils or dive away from
14. Mark down your total hit bonus with your weap- explosives are 15 minus the best of your Intelli-
onry. This is equal to your base attack bonus, gence and Dexterity modifiers. Mental saves to
plus either your Punch, Stab, or Shoot skill de- resist psychic influence or mind-bending tech-
pending on the kind of weapon it is, plus your nology are 15 minus the best of your Wisdom or
relevant attribute modifier. The weapon tables Charisma modifiers. To resist these perils, you
starting on page 66 will tell you what attribute need to equal or beat the save on a d20.
is used for a particular weapon. If two attributes
are listed, use the best one for your hero. If you 18. Lastly, wrap up your PC with a name and a goal.
havent even got level-0 skill, take a -2 penalty. Every hero needs to have a goal when they set
out adventuring. This goal might change, but
15. Note down the damage done by your weapons. your PC should always have some reason to go
This is equal to its base damage dice plus its at- out and interact with the world before them.
tribute modifier. If its a Punch weapon, you can Stay-at-home PCs and those unwilling to dare
add your Punch skill as well. greatly for their aims are rarely fun to play.
6 Attributes

Attributes
The first step in creating a character is to determine Attribute Affects....
the characters six attributes. Attributes describe how Strength Physical prowess, melee combat,
strong, quick, clever, perceptive, hardy, or charming carrying gear, brute force
your hero might be. Attributes are measured by scores
ranging from 3 to 18, with 3 reflecting an attribute Dexterity Speed, evasion, manual dexterity,
so weak that the PC is barely fit for adventuring and reaction time, combat initiative
an 18 marking the maximum possible aptitude for an Constitution Hardiness, enduring injury, resisting
ordinary human. toxins, going without food or sleep
To generate a characters attributes, roll 3d6 six Intelligence Memory, reasoning, technical skills,
times and assign the results in order to Strength, Dex- general education
terity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charis- Wisdom Noticing things, making judgments,
ma. You may then change one attribute of your choice reading situations, intuition
to 14 if you wish to ensure that your new adventurer
is gifted in at least one way. Charisma Commanding, charming, attracting
If you prefer not to roll, you may instead assign attention, being taken seriously
the following scores to your attributes in any order you
wish: 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 7. If you assign your scores,
you cannot replace one of them with a 14.
Attribute Score Modifier
Once youve assigned your attributes, record the
modifier for each of them. This modifier is applied to 3 -2
relevant skill checks or other rolls related to the attri- 47 -1
bute. If your attribute score changes during play, ei- 813 +0
ther from some crippling injury or from improvements
1417 +1
granted by your background or experience, you should
make sure to update any changed modifier. 18 +2

Rolling a PCs Attributes


Simons rolling up a character for a new campaign. Simon takes three six-sided dice in hand and
The first step is to figure out what kind of hero hes rolls them six times, assigning each number in order
going to be playing in the upcoming game, and that to his Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence,
means determining attributes. Wisdom, and Charisma scores. His results are 10, 4,
If Simon had a particular concept he knew he 13, 16, 8, and 7.
wanted to play, choosing to use the array might be Since 10 or 11 is an average human score, Simon
a good idea. It provides a predictable set of numbers can see that this PC has a very considerable intel-
he can put in whatever order he wishes, and unless lect counterbalanced by pronounced clumsiness and
his concept requires that his PC be particularly gifted poor social skills. Because he rolled his statistics, he
in more than one attribute, the 14 thats part of the can replace one of the rolls with a score of 14. After
array would ensure that he was capable in whatever some consideration, Simon decides that swapping
natural aptitude was most important to the concept. out his bad Dexterity score makes the most sense.
On the other hand, even if he rolls the dice, he Now Simon notes down the attribute modifi-
knows his hero is going to be good at something. He ers for each of his scores: a Strength of 10 is +0, a
can put that free 14 in any attribute he wishes, so if Dexterity of 14 is +1, a Constitution of 13 is +0, an
all he cares about is making sure his PC is quick, he Intelligence of 16 is +1, a Wisdom of 8 is +0, and a
can rest assured that random rolling will still pro- Charisma of 7 is -1.
duce a quick PC. When rolling skill checks, attack rolls, or other
Simon, however, really doesnt have any partic- things modified by an attribute, Simon will be using
ular concept he knows he wants to play for this cam- the modifier rather than the full attribute score. The
paign. He decides hes going to let the dice determine scores themselves might change a little due to his
what kind of hero hes going to play. Letting the dice heros background or future personal training, but
make the decision helps him break out of any ruts he mostly theyll serve as cues for playing the PC. With
might be in when it comes to character concepts, and a Wisdom of 8, for example, Simons hero might not
it can make him consider ideas that might be fresher have a penalty to rolls, but he probably makes the
in play than his usual fare. occasional decision he lives to regret.
Skills 7

Skills
Your heros learned capabilities are skills, and every
star-faring adventurer has their share of them. A hero Skill Checks
can usually attempt to do anything, whether its to Your hero is assumed to be competent at all the ordi-
climb a sun-scorched cliff on an alien world, talk down nary functions of their role and background. If hes a
an enraged lostworlder warlord, or fire a mag rifle at moisture farmer from a back-of-nowhere desert world,
a charging xenomorph, but having the right skill can hes going to know how to keep a dew still running and
make a vast difference in results. how to put on a coolsuit. If shes a corporate magnates
Skills are measured in a rating from level-0 for succession-groomed daughter from a megacorp-dom-
competent practitioners to level-4 for the best in the inated hiveworld, shes going to know how to read a
sector. Novice heroes start with level-0 or level-1 in balance sheet and speak during a meeting with C-level
their skills. Youll choose or roll skills in the next sec- executives. They will never fail at these basic tasks un-
tion, when you select a background for your character. less some situation makes them much harder than usual.
Sometimes, however, the hero will be faced with
Skill Level a situation outside their usual experience, or will try
to accomplish a normal task while under considerable
Level-0 Basic competence in the skill, such as
strain or disadvantage. In those cases, youll need to
an ordinary practitioner would have
roll a skill check.
Level-1 An experienced professional in the To roll a skill check, roll 2d6 and add the most
skill, clearly better than most applicable attribute modifier and skill level. If the total
Level-2 Veteran expert, one respected even is equal or greater than the difficulty of the check, you
by those with considerable experience succeed. If less, something goes wrong, or you fail out-
Level-3 Master of the skill, likely one of the right in the attempt, or something unexpected happens.
best on the planet If you havent even got level-0 in the relevant skill
you take a -1 penalty to the roll. Some particularly tech-
Level-4 Superlative expertise, one of the best
nical or difficult feats might not be achievable at all
in the entire stellar sector.
without some grounding in the skill.
8 Attributes

The Skill List Pilot: Use this skill to pilot vehicles or ride beasts. Roll
The following skills are standard choices for most cam- it to fly spaceships, drive vehicles, ride animals,
paigns. Games set in unusual reaches of space or unique or tend to basic vehicle repair. This skill doesnt
settings might alter this list. help you with things entirely outside the scope
Skills are general, and some of them may overlap of your background or experience, though with
in some situations. A hero trying to clear a jammed dis- some practice a PC can expand their expertise.
ruptor cannon before the aliens break through the door Program: Operating or hacking computing and com-
might plausibly check either Fix to repair it or Shoot to munications hardware. Roll it to program or hack
represent their familiarity with weapons maintenance. computers, control computer-operated hardware,
Assuming the GM agrees, you can roll whichever skill operate communications tech, or decrypt things.
is better for you. Punch: Use it as a combat skill when fighting unarmed.
If your PC means to make a habit of this rather
Administer: Manage an organization, handle paper- than as a recourse of desperation, you should take
work, analyze records, and keep an institution the Unarmed Fighter focus described later.
functioning on a daily basis. Roll it for bureau- Shoot: Use it as a combat skill when using ranged weap-
cratic expertise, organizational management, le- onry, whether hurled rocks, bows, laser pistols,
gal knowledge, dealing with government agencies, combat rifles, or ships gunnery.
and understanding how institutions really work. Sneak: Move without drawing notice. Roll it for stealth,
Connect: Find people who can be helpful to your pur- disguise, infiltration, manual legerdemain, pick-
poses and get them to cooperate with you. Roll pocketing, and the defeat of security measures.
it to make useful connections with others, find Stab: Use it as a combat skill when wielding melee
people you know, know where to get illicit goods weapons, whether primitive or complex.
and services, and be familiar with foreign cultures Survive: Obtain the basics of food, water, and shelter
and languages. You can use it in place of Talk for in hostile environments, along with avoiding their
persuading people you find via this skill. natural perils. Roll it to handle animals, navigate
Exert: Apply trained speed, strength, or stamina in difficult terrain, scrounge urban resources, make
some feat of physical exertion. Roll it to run, jump, basic tools, and avoid wild beasts or gangs.
lift, swim, climb, throw, and so forth. You can use Talk: Convince other people of the facts you want them
it as a combat skill when throwing things, though to believe. What they do with that conviction may
it doesnt qualify as a combat skill for other ends. not be completely predictable. Roll it to persuade,
Fix: Create and repair devices both simple and complex. charm, or deceive others in conversation.
How complex will depend on your characters Trade: Find what you need on the market and sell what
background; a lostworlder blacksmith is going to you have. Roll it to sell or buy things, figure out
need some study time before hes ready to fix that where to purchase hard-to-get or illicit goods, deal
broken fusion reactor, though he can do it eventu- with customs agents, or run a business.
ally. Roll it to fix things, build things, and identify Work: This is a catch-all skill for professions not repre-
what something is supposed to do. sented by other skills. Roll it to work at a particular
Heal: Employ medical and psychological treatment for profession, art, or trade.
the injured or disturbed. Roll it to cure diseases,
stabilize the critically injured, treat psychological Psychic Skills
disorders, or diagnose illnesses. Unlike other skills, psychic skills are restricted to char-
Know: Know facts about academic or scientific fields. acters with the Psychic class or the Partial Psychic class
Roll it to understand planetary ecologies, remem- option for Adventurers. You cannot choose or roll
ber relevant history, solve science mysteries, and these skills in character creation unless specifically told
know the basic facts about rare or esoteric topics. to pick a psychic skill.
Lead: Convince others to also do whatever it is youre
trying to do. Talk might persuade them that fol- Biopsionics: Master powers of physical repair, body aug-
lowing you is smart, but Lead can make them do mentation, and shapeshifting.
it even when they think its a bad idea. Roll it to Metapsionics: Master powers that nullify, boost, and
lead troops in combat, convince others to follow shape the use of other psychic abilities.
you, or maintain morale and discipline. Precognition: Master the ability to sense future events
Notice: Spot anomalies or interesting facts about your and control probability.
environment. Roll it for searching places, detect- Telekinesis: Master the remote control of kinetic energy
ing ambushes, spotting things, and reading the to move objects and fabricate force constructs.
emotional state of other people. Telepathy: Master the reading and influencing of other
Perform: Exhibit some performative skill. Roll it to sapient minds.
dance, sing, orate, act, or otherwise put on a con- Teleportation: Master the arts of physical translocation
vincing or emotionally moving performance. of yourself and allies.
backgrounds 9

Choosing a Background
Its unlikely that your character sprang forth full-grown
from the endless depths of space, so its probable that he Training Skills and Attributes
or she had some sort of background before adventuring When your character is allowed to pick or roll a skill,
and some kind of training in a field suitable for the life you learn it at level-0 expertise the first time you re-
of an interstellar wayfarer. Of course, the call of adven- ceive it. If you receive it a second time, it becomes lev-
ture is somewhat indiscriminate, and some people from el-1. If some mechanic or skill choice allows or obliges
very unlikely walks of life might find themselves hurled you to pick it a third time, you can instead choose any
into the potentially-lethal excitement of deep space. To non-psychic skill in its place. The only way to raise
determine your heros past training, you need to choose psychic skills during character creation is via special
or roll a background. abilities or foci that specifically boost them. No starting
A background is simply a thumbnail description character can begin with a skill level higher than level-1.
of the kind of life your hero lived before they took up Sometimes youre allowed to pick Any Skill. This
adventuring. It may not have been the only thing they means you can choose any non-psychic skill to improve.
did with their life, but its the thing that taught them Other entries that read Any Combat mean that you
most of their existing skills. can pick either Stab, Shoot, or Punch as you choose.
When youve chosen or rolled your background, You cannot raise psychic skills with Any Skill picks.
take a moment to think about your characters past. Rolls on the Growth table that improve your basic
Decide how your character came to take up that pro- attributes can boost them up to a maximum of 18. A
fession, and what made them put it down to follow a bonus that applies to Any Stat can be applied to any
more adventurous lifestyle. Did they do it for excite- attribute. If the roll says to add the bonus to Physical at-
ment? Friendship? Money? Or were they just running tributes, you can add the bonus to either Strength, Dex-
from a situation they couldnt handle? terity, or Constitution. If the roll says to add a bonus
You will also want to pick a homeworld for your to your Mental attributes, you can apply the points to
PC. Your GM can give you some suggestions for worlds either Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma. If the bonus
in their campaign that would fit your character concept, is +2, you may split the points between two different
or you might simply make up your own homeworld or attributes of the appropriate type if you wish.
native space habitat with the GMs permission, as you
might be from some far-distant sector of space. d20 Background
Twenty backgrounds are provided on the follow-
1 Barbarian, born of a primitive world
ing pages. You may roll randomly to see where your
hero comes from, or pick one that suits you. If none of 2 Clergy, a consecrated man or woman
the backgrounds appeal to you, you can simply describe 3 Courtesan, trading on pleasurable company
your heros prior life to the GM and pick any three
4 Criminal. thief, rogue, liar, or worse
skills that fit that past.
5 Dilettante, with money if not purpose
Backgrounds, Skills, and Growth 6 Entertainer, artful and beguiling
Once you pick a background, your hero gains several
7 Merchant, whether peddler or far trader
skills associated with their past.
First, you get the free skill associated with the 8 Noble, by blood or by social capital
background. Every member of that role or profession 9 Official, a functionary of some greater state
needs this skill to function competently, so your hero Peasant, whether primitive or high-tech
10
gets it as well.
Next, you may either pick two other skills from 11 Physician, a healer of the sick and maimed
the Learning table for your background, or make three 12 Pilot, or rider, or sailor, or vehicle-driver
random rolls divided between the Growth and Learn- 13 Politician, aspiring to leadership and control
ing tables. If you pick skills, you can select exactly the
talents you want for your hero, while going with ran- 14 Scholar, a scientist or academic
dom rolls allows your character a little wider range of 15 Soldier, whether mercenary or conscript
competence and the option of attribute improvements 16 Spacer, dwelling in the deep-space habs
at the cost of perfect control over their development. If
17 Technician, artisan, engineer, or builder
you pick skills, you may pick the same skill twice if you
wish, to improve its starting proficiency. 18 Thug, ruffian, or strong arm of the people
If youre not sure what to pick, just take the three 19 Vagabond, roaming without a home
skills listed under Quick Skills for your background.
20 Worker, a cube drone or day laborer
Theyre the ones most critical to the profession.
10 backgrounds

Barbarian
Standards of barbarism vary when many worlds Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
are capable of interstellar spaceflight, but your
Survive-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Any Combat
hero comes from a savage world of low technology
and high violence. Their planet may have survived 2 +2 Physical 2 Connect
an all-consuming war, or been deprived of critical Quick Skills 3 +2 Physical 3 Exert
materials or energy resources, or simply have been Survive-0 4 +2 Mental 4 Lead
colonized by confirmed Luddites. Other barbarians
might be drawn from the impoverished underclass Notice-0 5 Exert 5 Notice
of advanced worlds or the technologically-degen- Any Combat-0 6 Any Skill 6 Punch
erate inheritors of some high-tech space station or 7 Sneak
planetary hab. 8 Survive

Clergy
Faith is nigh-universal among human civilizations,
Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
and your hero is dedicated to one such belief. Some
clergy are conventional priests or priestesses, while Talk-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Administer
others might be cloistered monastics or nuns, or 2 +2 Mental 2 Connect
more martial warrior-monks. Modern-day faiths Quick Skills 3 +2 Physical 3 Know
such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism,
Talk-0 4 +2 Mental 4 Lead
Buddhism, and other creeds all exist in various sec-
tors, often in altered form, while some worlds have Perform-0 5 Connect 5 Notice
developed entirely new deities or faiths. If youd like Know-0 6 Any Skill 6 Perform
to create your own religion, you can work with the 7 Talk
GM to define its characteristic beliefs.
8 Talk

Building a Background for a PC


Simons got his heros attributes set, but those are just His first roll is on the Growth table, and it
part of making a character. He also needs to figure comes up +2 Mental. He immediately puts it into
out where this hero came from, and what kind of Intelligence, raising the score to 18 and giving it a +2
life theyve led before they took up the mantle of an modifier instead of +1. Basil is a brilliant man.
adventuring existence. His second roll he makes on the Learning table,
If he had a particular preference for a back- and it comes up Know. He already has Know at
ground, he could simply pick one of the list on page level-0, so now he gets Know-1. His third roll comes
9. If none of those fit, he could just write down a up Talk, giving him Talk-0.
few sentences about the background he did want and A brief view of Basils history shows him as a
pick three skills that fit it, assuming the GM agreed brilliant young scholar with a keenly refined mind,
it made sense, or rolled on the existing background an excellent grasp of intellectual topics, and enough
tables that best fit their custom past. But Simon is glibness to get through a thesis defense. Simon de-
still uncertain about the nature of his hero, so he cides that Basils occasional fits of social ineptitude
decides to roll randomly for a background. have torpedoed his career in academia, however, and
He gets a 15, so his hero is a scholar. As a scholar, have forced him out into the world to make a living
he automatically gets the Know skill at level-0, and as an interstellar freebooter.
needs to decide what kind of scholar he is. Simon Simon also needs to pick a homeworld for Basil.
considers his options and decides to go with some- While he could ask the GM for a list of likely places,
thing he knows; his PC is a literature post-doc by the he decides that Basil hails from the cold and inhospi-
name of Basil Hayes. table world of Karelia, a planet that relies mostly on
Simon decides that Basil should continue with trading the long-duty service contracts of its citizens
his random rolling rather than just choosing two to other, wealthier worlds in exchange for vital tech.
more skills from the Learning table for a scholar. The GM thinks that Karelia sounds like the sort of
Because he chooses to randomly roll, he can make world that would fit in the campaign, and so allows
three rolls, splitting them as he wishes between the it. Simon can make up any other details of the world
Learning or the Growth table. that are needed as the campaign plays out.
backgrounds 11

Courtesan
Your heros career was one of proffered pleasure. Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
Simple prostitution is one form of this background,
Perform-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Any Combat
perhaps as an ordinary streetwalker, a part-time
amateur with bills to pay, or an expensive com- 2 +2 Mental 2 Connect
panion to the wealthy, but other forms of satisfac- Quick Skills 3 +2 Mental 3 Exert
tion exist among the many worlds. Refined artists Perform-0 4 +2 Physical 4 Notice
of conversation and grace command high fees in
Notice-0 5 Connect 5 Perform
some societies, while others pay well for the sim-
ple company of certain men and women with the Connect-0 6 Any Skill 6 Survive
right bloodlines, special appearance, or auspicious 7 Talk
personal qualities esteemed by their culture. 8 Trade

Criminal
Whether thief, murderer, forger, smuggler, spy, or Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
some other variety of malefactor, your hero was a
criminal. Some such rogues are guilty only of cross- Sneak-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Administer
ing some oppressive government or offending a 2 +2 Mental 2 Any Combat
planetary lord, while others have done things that Quick Skills 3 +2 Physical 3 Connect
no civilized society could tolerate. Still, their ability Sneak-0 4 +2 Mental 4 Notice
to deal with the most desperate and dangerous of
contacts and navigate the perils of a less-than-legal Connect-0 5 Connect 5 Program
adventure can make them attractive associates for a Talk-0 6 Any Skill 6 Sneak
party of freebooters bent on profit and glory more 7 Talk
than strict legality. 8 Trade

Dilettante
Your hero never had a profession, strictly speaking,
Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
but spent their formative years in travel, socializing,
and a series of engaging hobbies. They might have Connect-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Any Skill
been the scion of a wealthy industrialist, a planetary 2 +1 Any Stat 2 Any Skill
nobles younger offspring, or a hanger-on to some- Quick Skills 3 +1 Any Stat 3 Connect
one with the money and influence they lacked. By
Connect-0 4 +1 Any Stat 4 Know
the time your heros adventures start, theyve run
through the money that once fueled their lifestyle. Know-0 5 Connect 5 Perform
Extreme measures may be necessary to acquire fur- Talk-0 6 Any Skill 6 Pilot
ther funding. 7 Talk
8 Trade

Entertainer
Singers, dancers, actors, poets, writers the inter- Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
stellar reaches teem with artists of unnumbered Perform-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Any Combat
styles and mediums, some of which are only physi-
cally possible with advanced technological support.
2 +2 Mental 2 Connect
Your hero was a dedicated entertainer, one likely Quick Skills 3 +2 Mental 3 Exert
focused in a particular form of art. Patrons and Perform-0 4 +2 Physical 4 Notice
talent scouts can be temperamental, however, and Talk-0 5 Connect 5 Perform
sometimes a budding artist needs to take steps to
find their audience. Or at least, to find their audi- Connect-0 6 Any Skill 6 Perform
ences money. 7 Sneak
8 Talk
12 backgrounds

Merchant
Your hero was or is a trader. Some merchants are Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
mere peddlers and shopkeepers on primitive, low- Trade-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Administer
tech worlds, while others are daring far traders
who venture to distant worlds to bring home their 2 +2 Mental 2 Any Combat
alien treasures. The nature of trade varies widely Quick Skills 3 +2 Mental 3 Connect
among worlds. On some of them, its a business of Trade-0 4 +2 Mental 4 Fix
soberly-dressed men and women ticking off trades
Talk-0 5 Connect 5 Know
on virtual terminals, while on others it is a more
active pursuit, requiring the judicious application of Connect-0 6 Any Skill 6 Notice
monoblades and deniable gunfire against compet- 7 Trade
itors. Sometimes a deal goes bad or capital needs 8 Talk
to be raised, and a merchants natural talents are
turned toward the perils of adventure.

Noble
Many planets are ruled by a class of nobles, and your Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
hero was a member of one such exalted group. Such
Lead-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Administer
planets are often worlds of exquisite courtesy al-
loyed with utterly remorseless violence, and a mis- 2 +2 Mental 2 Any Combat
placed word at the morning levee can result in an Quick Skills 3 +2 Mental 3 Connect
executioners monoblade at noon. Your hero has Lead-0 4 +2 Mental 4 Know
done something or been the victim of something to
Connect-0 5 Connect 5 Lead
dislodge them from their comfortable place at court.
Without their familiar allies, wealth, or influence, Administer-0 6 Any Skill 6 Notice
they must take a new place in the world, however 7 Pilot
distasteful that claiming might be. 8 Talk

Official
Most advanced worlds run on their bureaucra- Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
cies, the legions of faceless men and women who
Administer-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Administer
fill unnumbered roles in keeping the government
running as it should. Your hero was one such offi- 2 +2 Mental 2 Any Skill
cial. Some were law enforcement officers, others Quick Skills 3 +2 Mental 3 Connect
government office clerks or tax officials or trade Administer-0 4 +2 Mental 4 Know
inspectors. However necessary the work may be,
Talk-0 5 Connect 5 Lead
it is often of unendurably tedious nature, and any
man or woman with an adventurous spark to their Connect-0 6 Any Skill 6 Notice
blood will soon find themselves desperate for more 7 Talk
exciting use of their talents. 8 Trade

Peasant
A technologically-advanced world can usually pro- Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
duce all its necessary foodstuffs and basic resources
Exert-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Connect
with a handful of workers, the bulk of the labor be-
ing performed by agricultural bots. On more prim- 2 +2 Physical 2 Exert
itive worlds, or those with a natural environment Quick Skills 3 +2 Physical 3 Fix
that requires close personal attention to crops, a Exert-0 4 +2 Physical 4 Notice
class of peasants will emerge. These men and wom-
Sneak-0 5 Exert 5 Sneak
en often become chattel, part and parcel of the land
they occupy and traded among their betters like the Survive-0 6 Any Skill 6 Survive
farm equipment of richer worlds. Your hero was 7 Trade
not satisfied with that life, and has done something 8 Work
to break free from their muddy and toilsome past.
backgrounds 13

Physician
Bodies wear and break, even on worlds that pos- Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
sess the full resources of advanced postech medicine. Heal-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Administer
Your hero was a physician, one trained to cure the
maladies of the body or the afflictions of the mind. 2 +2 Physical 2 Connect
Some physicians are conventional health workers, Quick Skills 3 +2 Mental 3 Fix
while others are ships surgeons, military medics, Heal-0 4 +2 Mental 4 Heal
missionary healers of an expanding faith, or dubi-
Know-0 5 Connect 5 Know
ous slum doctors wholl graft over laser burns with
no awkward questions asked. Wherever men and Notice-0 6 Any Skill 6 Notice
women go into danger, however, the skills of a phy- 7 Talk
sician are eagerly sought. 8 Trade

Pilot
A pilots role is a broad one in the far future. The Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
most glamorous and talented navigate starships
Pilot-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Connect
through the metadimensional storms of interstellar
space, while less admired figures fly the innumera- 2 +2 Physical 2 Exert
ble intra-system shuttles and atmosphere craft that Quick Skills 3 +2 Physical 3 Fix
serve in most advanced systems. On other worlds, Pilot-0 4 +2 Mental 4 Notice
this career might reflect a long-haul trucker, or a
Fix-0 5 Connect 5 Pilot
horse-riding messenger, or an intrepid sailor on an
alien sea. As the Pilot skill covers all these modes Shoot or Trade-0 6 Any Skill 6 Pilot
of transport, any character whose role revolves 7 Shoot
around vehicles or riding beasts might justify their 8 Trade
selection of this career.
14 backgrounds

Politician
The nature of a political career varies from world Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
to world. On some, its much like one wed recog-
Talk-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Administer
nize, with glad-handing voters, loud rallies, and
quiet back room deals with supposed rivals in 2 +2 Mental 2 Connect
government. On others, it might involve a great Quick Skills 3 +2 Mental 3 Connect
deal more ceremonial combat, appeals to councils Talk-0 4 +2 Mental 4 Lead
of elders, and success at ritual trials. Whatever the
Lead-0 5 Connect 5 Notice
details, your hero was a politician in their home
culture. Something went wrong, though, and the Connect-0 6 Any Skill 6 Perform
only way to fix it is to get clear of your constitu- 7 Talk
ents for a while and seek some alternative means 8 Talk
of advancement.

Scholar
Scientists, sages, and professors all qualify under Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
this career. Your hero was one such, a man or Know-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Administer
woman with a life dedicated to knowledge and un-
2 +2 Mental 2 Connect
derstanding. It might have involved the technical
expertise of a metadimensional structures engineer Quick Skills 3 +2 Mental 3 Fix
or the sacred memorization of the chronicles of Know-0 4 +2 Mental 4 Know
some lostworlder sage-order, but your heros life Connect-0 5 Connect 5 Notice
was in learning. Sometimes that learning cannot be
Administer-0 6 Any Skill 6 Perform
found in familiar surroundings, however, and for
one reason or another, willing or not, your hero 7 Program
must venture out into the wider world. 8 Talk

Soldier
Whatever the technology or structure of their par- Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
ent world, a soldiers work is universal. Your hero
Any Combat-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Administer
was a professional fighter, whether that took the
form of a barbarian nobles thegn, a faceless con- 2 +2 Physical 2 Any Combat
script in a planetary army, or an elite soldier in the Quick Skills 3 +2 Physical 3 Exert
service of a megacorps private military. Whether it Any Combat-0 4 +2 Physical 4 Fix
was because they were on the losing side, choosing
to leave the service, or being forced to flee a cause Exert-0 5 Exert 5 Lead
they couldnt fight for, they now find themselves Survive-0 6 Any Skill 6 Notice
navigating a world where their most salable skill 7 Sneak
is one that can cause them a great deal of trouble. 8 Survive

Spacer
Almost every advanced world is highly dependent Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
upon the resources that space flight brings them. Fix-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Administer
Some of this work can be automated, but every re-
2 +2 Physical 2 Connect
ally important task needs a flexible human operator
to oversee the work. Your hero is one such spacer, Quick Skills 3 +2 Physical 3 Exert
either a worker who toils in the sky or a native void- Fix-0 4 +2 Mental 4 Fix
born man or woman who has spent their entire Pilot-0 5 Exert 5 Know
life outside of natural gravity. Its not uncommon
Program-0 6 Any Skill 6 Pilot
for such workers to find better prospects in places
where they can breathe without a vacc suit. 7 Program
8 Talk
backgrounds 15

Technician
Old things break and new things need to be made. Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
Whether a humble lostworlder blacksmith or an
Fix-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Administer
erudite astronautic engineer, your hero made a ca-
reer out of building and mending the fruits of tech- 2 +2 Physical 2 Connect
nology. While almost every society has a need for Quick Skills 3 +2 Mental 3 Exert
such services, not all of them treat their providers as Fix-0 4 +2 Mental 4 Fix
generously as a technician might wish. Sometimes,
these same talents can be turned toward less licit Exert-0 5 Connect 5 Fix
ends, and a skilled technicians expertise is always Notice-0 6 Any Skill 6 Know
useful to an adventuring group that plans to rely on 7 Notice
anything more sophisticated than a sharpened stick. 8 Pilot

Thug
Your hero was a bruiser. They might have had a no- Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
tional allegiance to some so-called army, or have Any Combat-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Any Combat
been part of some crime boss strong-arm crew, or
2 +2 Mental 2 Connect
simply been a private contractor of misfortune for
those who failed to pay up. They might have even Quick Skills 3 +2 Physical 3 Exert
been a fist in a righteous cause, defending their Any Combat-0 4 +2 Physical 4 Notice
neighborhood from hostile outsiders or serving as Talk-0 5 Connect 5 Sneak
informal muscle for a local leader in need of pro-
Connect-0 6 Any Skill 6 Stab or Shoot
tection. Whatever the details, theyve had to move
on from their old life, and their new one is likely to 7 Survive
involve a similar application of directed force. 8 Talk

Vagabond
A dilettante has money and friends; your hero sim- Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
ply has the road. Whether they were knocked loose
Survive-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Any Combat
from polite society at a young age or have recently
found themselves cast out of a familiar life, they 2 +2 Physical 2 Connect
now roam the ways of the world and the spaces be- Quick Skills 3 +2 Physical 3 Notice
tween. Some heroes find this life satisfying, with its Survive-0 4 +2 Mental 4 Perform
constant novelty and the regular excitement of bare
survival. Others long for a more stable arrangement, Sneak-0 5 Exert 5 Pilot
and are willing to lend their pragmatic talents to a Notice-0 6 Any Skill 6 Sneak
group that offers some prospect of profit. 7 Survive
8 Work

Worker
Countless in number, every industrialized world Free Skill d6 Growth d8 Learning
has swarms of workers to operate the machines and Work-0 1 +1 Any Stat 1 Administer
perform the labor that keeps society functioning.
2 +1 Any Stat 2 Any Skill
Cooks, factory laborers, mine workers, personal
servants, lawyers, clerks, and innumerable other Quick Skills 3 +1 Any Stat 3 Connect
roles are covered under this career. If your hero Connect-0 4 +1 Any Stat 4 Exert
rolls or picks Work as a skill but has a career that Exert-0 5 Exert 5 Fix
would better fit another existing skill, they may sub-
Work-0 6 Any Skill 6 Pilot
stitute it accordingly. Thus, a wage-slave program-
mer might take Program instead of Work, while a 7 Program
lawyer would use Administer instead as a reflection 8 Work
of their litigious talent.
16 Character Classes

Character Classes
In one way or another, your character is cut out for troubled by anything worse than portside brawls, but
adventure. Your hero might be a veteran combatant, inside her burns a seething, latent fury that is ready to
skilled with blade or laser, or they might be a psychic explode at the first opportunity. Shes a Warrior, even
gifted with uncanny abilities. Its just as possible that though she might not realize her talents until the first
they could have remarkable talents as a pilot, or be time she snatches up a dropped laser rifle and unleashes
the smoothest grifter in the hive-slum they grew up a barrage of death on a pack of alien warbeasts. You
in. Whatever their particular background, your heros should pick whatever class for your hero that matches
primary focus is their class. the kind of play you want to have with them.
Your class represents your heros best set of tools There are four possible classes you can choose for
for dealing with their problems. Theyre the skills and your hero: Adventurer, Expert, Psychic, and Warrior.
capabilities that theyre most likely to turn to to resolve Experts are PCs that rely on non-combat skills such as
a problem, but not their only tools. A Psychic can still stealth, persuasion, technical expertise, piloting skills,
shoot a gun and a Warrior can try to fast-talk a mark. vast learning, or personal connections. Psychics are
Choosing a class helps ensure that your hero is those rare men and women affected by Metadimen-
good at something that might contribute to a bold party sional Extroversion Syndrome, ones capable of chan-
of interstellar adventurers. Experts always have a knack neling these metadimensional energies to perform
at exercising non-combat skills, Warriors are always feats of telekinesis, precognition, telepathy, and other
good in a scrap, and Psychics always have a unique psionic disciplines. Warriors are hardened combatants,
power or two to employ at need. Your hero might have skilled in the arts of war and violent conflict, and Ad-
led a quiet life as a starport customs clerk until recently, venturers include those with a mix of talents and abili-
but their natural talents will ensure that they can do ties, ones who dont fit well into one of the other classes.
something that the rest of the group will find useful. Choose a class that best fits your characters con-
In the same vein, you dont have to choose a class cept. If Expert, Psychic, or Warrior dont fit your image
that naturally fits with your background. That star- of your hero, or if you want to customize their abilities,
port customs clerk might have led a peaceful life un- you can choose the Adventurer class.
Character Classes 17

Expert
Your hero is exceptionally good at a useful skill. Doc-
tors, cat burglars, starship pilots, grifters, technicians, Class Abilities
or any other concept that focuses on expertise in a Every Expert PC has certain special abilities.
non-combat skill should pick the Expert class. Experts
are the best at such skills and gain more of them than You gain a free level in a non-combat focus relat-
other classes do. ed to your background. Most concepts will take
Just as a Warrior can be relied upon to make a Specialist in their main skill, though Diplomat, Star-
shot when the chips are down, an Expert has a knack farer, Healer, or some other focus might suit better.
for succeeding at the moments of greatest importance. You may not take a combat-oriented focus with
Once per scene, an Expert can reroll a failed skill check, this perk. In case of uncertainty, the GM decides
taking the new result if its better. This benefit can be whether or not a focus is permitted.
applied to any skill check, even those that the Expert
isnt specially focused in. Their natural talent bleeds Once per scene, you can reroll a failed skill check,
over into everything they do. taking the new roll if its better.
In their chosen field, however, the Expert is excep-
tionally gifted. Aside from the free focus level that all When you advance an experience level, you
PCs get at the start of the game, an Expert can choose gain a bonus skill point that can be spent on any
an additional level in a non-combat focus related to non-combat, non-psychic skill. You can save this
their background. They can spend both of these levels point to spend later if you wish.
on the same focus if they wish, thus starting the game
with level 2 in that particular knack.
Hit Points and Attack Bonus
To get your starting maximum hit points, roll 1d6 and
add your Constitution modifier, to a minimum of 1 hit
point. Your attack bonus is equal to half your character
level, rounded down, so its +0 at first level.

Psychic
Your hero has received training in controlling their nat-
ural Metadimensional Extroversion Syndrome, and can Class Abilities
wield the psychic powers that come from that strange Every Psychic PC has certain special abilities.
affliction. Controlling and developing psychic abilities
is an extremely demanding process but allows for feats Unlike Warriors or Experts, you are capable of
wholly impossible to ordinary men and women. learning psychic disciplines and their associated
Psychics are extremely rare in the general popula- techniques, as described starting on page 28.
tion. Averages vary with worlds, but most range from
one in ten thousand to one in a hundred thousand who When you pick this class, choose any two psychic
have the MES condition that make them amenable to skills as bonus skills. You can pick the same one
psychic training. Some of these go their entire lives twice to obtain level-1 proficiency in it and a free
without realizing their capabilities. Others end up ex- level-1 technique from that discipline.
ploiting their native abilities without training, almost
inevitably ending up seriously brain-damaged or crazed You have an Effort score, which can be used to
by the effects of unmediated metadimensional energy. fuel psychic abilities. Your maximum Effort is
Your hero has been fortunate enough to find a psy- equal to 1 plus your highest psychic skill plus the
chic academy or other training institution capable of better of your Wisdom or Constitution modifi-
molding and directing these abilities. They may have ers. Even with a penalty, your maximum Effort
come to this later in life, or been recruited young by a cannot be lower than 1.
society that carefully watches for MES symptoms.
Some societies deal with their psychics more gen-
erously than others. On some worlds, psychic powers Hit Points and Attack Bonus
are accepted and their possessors can look forward to To get your starting maximum hit points, roll 1d6 and
lucrative and respected employment. On others, fear of add your Constitution modifier, to a minimum of 1 hit
these uncanny powers and memories of the horrors of point. Your attack bonus is equal to half your character
the Scream lead to less welcoming treatment. level, rounded down, so its +0 at first level.
18 Character Classes

Warrior
Whether a hiveworld thug, barbarian lostworlder,
gengineered combat hominid, or a natural-born kill- Class Abilities
er wasting their potential in a desk job, your hero has Every Warrior PC has certain special abilities.
a real talent for inflicting mayhem. Combat in Stars
Without Number is extremely dangerous, but your hero You gain a free level in a combat-related focus as-
has the talents to survive situations that would kill a sociated with your background. The GM decides
less martial adventurer. if a focus qualifies if its an ambiguous case.
As a gifted purveyor of violence, you get to pick
an extra combat-related focus associated with your Warriors are lucky in combat. Once per scene, as
special brand of havoc. While a character of any class an Instant ability, you can either choose to ne-
can take these special combat talents, you get this ad- gate a successful attack roll against you or turn a
ditional pick and a better natural hit bonus than heroes missed attack roll you made into a successful hit.
of other classes. You can use this ability after the dice are rolled,
Most importantly, however, Warriors have an un- but it cannot be used against environmental dam-
canny gift for making a shot when a hit is desperately age, effects without an attack roll, or hits on a
needed, or dodging a bullet when their life is on the vehicle youre occupying.
line. Once per scene, a Warrior can either automati-
cally negate a successful combat hit they just received, You gain two extra maximum hit points at each
taking no damage from it, or else they can turn one character level.
of their own missed attack rolls into an automatic hit.
This versatility makes Warriors exceptionally danger-
ous enemies in a one-on-one fight, and significantly Hit Points and Attack Bonus
more likely to survive the gory chaos of a general melee. To get your starting maximum hit points, roll 1d6+2
and add your Constitution modifier, to a minimum of
1 hit point. Your attack bonus is equal to your character
level so it is +1 at first level.

Adventurer
The Adventurer class is the catch-all for heroes who
dont fit so neatly into the other three categories. Per- Partial Psychic
haps your mercenary spent her girlhood at a psychic You are a restricted psychic. Pick one psychic discipline
academy, or maybe your combat medic knows more as a bonus skill at level-0. You can improve this skill
about using a laser rifle than most physicians do. You with foci or skill points gained from advancing a level,
can use the Adventurer class to customize your heros but you cannot learn or improve any other psychic skill.
abilities, trading focus for wider versatility. Your maximum Effort equals 1 plus this psychic skills
Adventurers split their focus between different level plus the best of your Wisdom or Constitution
spheres, gaining weaker versions of each class ben- modifiers, down to a minimum of 1.
efits. For example, an Adventurer who is a psionic
warrior-adept might have considerable powers of Partial Warrior
telekinetic force and a brutal expertise at bare-handed You gain a free level in a combat focus related to your
combat, but they wont have access to the wider psionic background. Gain +1 to your attack bonus at first and
potential of an unrestricted Psychic or the death-defy- fifth levels. Gain 2 extra maximum hit points each level.
ing combat luck of a hardened Warrior. Thus, at first level, youd roll 1d6+2 for your maximum
To define your Adventurers abilities, pick two of hit points. At second, youd roll 2d6+4, and so forth.
the following three partial classes.
Hit Points and Attack Bonus
Partial Expert To get your starting maximum hit points, roll 1d6 and
You gain a free level in a non-combat focus related to add your Constitution modifier, to a minimum of 1 hit
your background. Most concepts will take Specialist, point. Adventurers whove taken the Partial Warrior
though Diplomat, Starfarer, Healer, or some other focus option add 2 hit points to their maximum.
might suit better. Gain an extra skill point every time The base attack bonus for Adventurers is equal to
you gain a character level which can be spent on any half their character level, rounded down, so +0 at first
non-psychic, non-combat skill. level. If the PC has taken the Partial Warrior option
their class bonus increases this to +1 at first level.
Foci 19

Choosing a Focus
Every member of a class has certain baseline abilities
that let them do well at their role. Warriors are always Origin Foci
good combatants, Experts are always gifted with their If you include aliens or robots in your campaign, you
skills, and Psychics always have a few pertinent psionic can represent them with origin foci. Origin foci are
abilities. Aside from these baseline abilities, characters taken the same way as any other foci, and may be pur-
also have a focus. chased with a beginning characters focus level.
A focus is an additional knack, perk, or aptitude If a GM is feeling generous, they can allow a PC
that a hero has, one that grants them certain benefits to take a level in an origin focus as well as their usual
in play. Each focus has one or more levels of increas- free focus level, in order to allow a hero to start as an
ingly-strong effect. For example, someone with level alien with some additional knack. A PC who takes this
1 in the Die Hard focus gains two extra maximum hit option doesnt get their usual bonus focus at level 2;
points each level and automatically stabilizes after a theyve already spent it on being unusual.
mortal wound, while someone with level 2 can negate Origin foci for robotic VIs are on page 199. Avail-
the first injury they suffer each day that would inca- able alien races will vary with the campaign setting, but
pacitate or kill them. The benefits of a focus stack, so details on making these race are on page 209.
if you take level 2 in one, you get all the benefits from
level 1 as well.
Any character can pick any focus, and it doesnt Choosing A Class and Focus
have to match the class you selected. A Psychic can Basil Hayes needs a class. While an obvious pick
choose the Unarmed Combatant focus for fistic prow- would be Expert to match his background, Simon
ess, while a Warrior might have enough experience decides it would be more amusing to make him a
with battlefield trauma to qualify as a Healer. The only soldier; specifically, the sniper Basilisk Hayes, the
obligation is that you explain how your hero picked dire-eyed wraith of the cold Karelian forest. Given
up the training or exhibited their natural aptitude for the complete lack of a market for his PhD and his
the focus. own natural poor judgment, Basil signed up with
Many foci give a bonus level in a skill as part of a Karelian mercenary outfit. Hes just gotten out
their level 1 benefits. These bonus levels work like any of his tour of duty, but at least now his skills are
other skill pick; they either give you the skill at lev- significantly more marketable.
el-0, raise an existing level-0 skill to level-1, or let you While Simon could go with the Adventurer
pick any other non-psychic skill if the skill is already class for Basil and make him a Partial Warrior/
at level-1. Partial Expert, he decides to make Basil a full-
Unless indicated otherwise a focus can be taken fledged Warrior. His intellectual talents can be
only once. Once youve taken level 1 of Die Hard, you useful, but Basils main utility to the group is his
cant pick it again to get an additional two hit points per ability to deal with combat situations.
level. Some skill-oriented foci allow you to pick them Every PC gets to pick one focus of any kind,
more than once to apply to different skills. and a Warrior gets to pick one combat-related
Beginning PCs can pick one level of focus. PCs focus. Basils first choice is easy, as clearly hes a
with the Expert class or the Partial Expert Adventur- Sniper, so he writes that down as a level 1 focus.
er class option can choose an additional level in any Rather than taking a second level in that with his
non-combat focus related to their background, in- other pick, Simon decides to have Basil pick up
cluding level 2 in their initial choice. Most will choose a level of the Gunslinger focus. Basil will get the
Specialist, Healer, Diplomat, or some other similar focus, chance to pick more foci as he gains experience.
but the GM can allow other non-combat foci. PCs with Each of these foci grant a bonus level in Shoot,
the Warrior class or the Partial Warrior Adventurer so they stack together to give the young sniper a
class option can do the same in choosing an additional Shoot-1 skill. Basils now as deft with a rifle as he
combat-related focus. is with 19th century Terran Victorian poetry.
As your hero advances in experience, youll get the Lastly, Basil gets to pick any single non-psy-
opportunity to pick up new foci or improve existing chic skill of his choice as a hobby or natural talent.
ones as you refine your talents or learn new tricks. In He decides that a sniper isnt much of a sniper
some cases, you might work with the GM to come up without being hard to spot, so picks Sneak-0 as his
with a custom focus reflecting your PCs specific special skill. This free skill pick is often useful for filling in
talent or a perk that makes sense given their recent the necessary talents of a concept that arent sup-
adventures. Foci are an important part of a heros char- plied by the Learning table or bonus skills granted
acter, and they should always reflect something basic by a heros foci.
about how they tend to interact with the world.
20 Foci

The Focus List


Alert Authority
You are keenly aware of your surroundings and virtual- You have an uncanny kind of charisma about you, one
ly impossible to take unaware. You have an instinctive that makes others instinctively follow your instructions
alacrity of response that helps you act before less wary and further your causes. At level 1, this is a knack of
persons can think to move. charm and personal magnetism, while level 2 might
Level 1: Gain Notice as a bonus skill. You cannot be suggest latent telepathic influence or transhuman me-
surprised, nor can others use the Execution Attack metic hacking augmentations. Where this focus refers
option on you. When you roll initiative, roll twice to followers, it means NPCs who have voluntarily cho-
and take the best result. sen to be in your service. PCs never count as followers.
Level 2: You always act first in a combat round unless Level 1: Gain Lead as a bonus skill. Once per day, you
someone else involved is also this Alert. can make a request from an NPC who is not open-
ly hostile to you, rolling a Cha/Lead skill check at
Armsman a difficulty of the NPCs Morale score. If you suc-
You have an unusual competence with thrown weap- ceed, they will comply with the request, provided
ons and melee attacks. This focus benefits do not apply it is not harmful or extremely uncharacteristic.
to unarmed attacks or projectile weapons. For thrown Level 2: Those who follow you are fired with confi-
weapons, you cant use the benefits of the Armsman dence. Any NPC being directly led by you gains a
focus at the same time as Gunslinger. Morale and hit roll bonus equal to your Lead skill
Level 1: Gain Stab as a bonus skill. You can draw or and a +1 bonus on all skill checks. Your followers
sheath a Stowed melee or thrown weapon as an will not act against your interests unless under
Instant action. You may add your Stab skill level to extreme pressure.
a melee or thrown weapons damage roll or Shock
damage, assuming it has any to begin with. Close Combatant
Level 2: Your primitive melee and thrown weapons Youve had all too much practice at close-in fighting
count as TL4 weapons for the purpose of over- and desperate struggles with pistol or blade. Youre ex-
coming advanced armors. Even on a miss with a tremely skilled at avoiding injury in melee combat, and
melee weapon, you do an unmodified 1d4 damage at level 2 you can dodge through a melee scrum without
to the target, plus any Shock damage. This bonus fear of being knifed in passing.
damage doesnt apply to thrown weapons or at- Level 1: Gain any combat skill as a bonus skill. You can
tacks that use the Punch skill. use pistol-sized ranged weapons in melee with-
out suffering penalties for the proximity of melee
Assassin attackers. You ignore Shock damage from melee
You are practiced at sudden murder, and have certain assailants, even if youre unarmored at the time.
advantages in carrying out an Execution Attack as de- Level 2: The Shock damage from your melee attacks
scribed in the rules on page 52. treats all targets as if they were AC 10. The Fight-
Level 1: Gain Sneak as a bonus skill. You can conceal an ing Withdrawal combat action is treated as an On
object no larger than a knife or pistol from any- Turn action for you and can be performed freely.
thing less invasive than a strip search, including
normal TL4 weapon detection devices. You can Connected
draw or produce this object as an On Turn action, Youre remarkably gifted at making friends and forging
and your point-blank ranged attacks made from ties with the people around you. Wherever you go, you
surprise with it cannot miss the target. always seem to know somebody useful to your ends.
Level 2: You can take a Move action on the same round Level 1: Gain Connect as a bonus skill. If youve spent
as you make an Execution Attack, closing rapidly at least a week in a not-entirely-hostile location,
with a target before you attack. You may split this youll have built a web of contacts willing to do
Move action when making an Execution Attack, favors for you that are no more than mildly illegal.
taking part of it before you murder your target You can call on one favor per game day and the
and part of it afterwards. This movement happens GM decides how far theyll go for you.
too quickly to alert a victim or to be hindered by Level 2: Once per game session, if its not entirely im-
bodyguards, barring an actual physical wall of plausible, you meet someone you know who is
meat between you and your prey. willing to do modest favors for you. You can de-
cide when and where you want to meet this per-
son, but the GM decides who they are and what
they can do for you.
Foci 21

Die Hard Healer


You are surprisingly hard to kill. You can survive inju- Healing comes naturally to you, and youre particularly
ries or bear up under stresses that would incapacitate a gifted at preventing the quick bleed-out of wounded
less determined hero. allies and comrades.
Level 1: You gain an extra 2 maximum hit points per Level 1: Gain Heal as a bonus skill. You may attempt to
level. This bonus applies retroactively if you take stabilize one mortally-wounded adjacent person
this focus after first level. You automatically stabi- per round as an On Turn action. When rolling
lize if mortally wounded by anything smaller than Heal skill checks, roll 3d6 and drop the lowest die.
a Heavy weapon. Level 2: Stims or other technological healing devices
Level 2: The first time each day that you are reduced to applied by you heal twice as many hit points as
zero hit points by an injury, you instead survive normal. Using only basic medical supplies, you
with one hit point remaining. This ability cant can heal 1d6+Heal skill hit points of damage to
save you from Heavy weapons or similar trauma. every injured or wounded person in your group
with ten minutes of first aid spread among them.
Diplomat Such healing can be applied to a given target only
You know how to get your way in personal negotia- once per day.
tions, and can manipulate the attitudes of those around
you. Even so, while smooth words are versatile, theyll Henchkeeper
only work if your interlocutor is actually willing to You have an distinct knack for picking up lost souls
listen to you. who willingly do your bidding. You might induce them
Level 1: Gain Talk as a bonus skill. You speak all the lan- with promises of money, power, excitement, sex, or
guages common to the sector and can learn new some other prize that you may or may not eventually
ones to a workable level in a week, becoming flu- grant. A henchman obtained with this focus will serve
ent in a month. Reroll 1s on any skill check dice in loyal fashion until clearly betrayed or placed in unac-
related to negotiation or diplomacy. ceptable danger. Henchmen are not important people
Level 2: Once per game session, shift an intelligent in their society, and are usually marginal sorts, outcasts,
NPCs reaction roll one step closer to friendly if the desperate, or other persons with few options.
you can talk to them for at least thirty seconds. You can use more conventional pay or induce-
ments to acquire additional henchmen, but these extra
Gunslinger hirelings are no more loyal or competent than your pay
You have a gift with a gun. While this talent most com- and treatment can purchase.
monly applies to slugthrowers or energy weapons, it Level 1: Gain Lead as a bonus skill. You can acquire
is also applicable to thrown weapons, bows, or other henchmen within 24 hours of arriving in a com-
ranged weapons that can be used with the Shoot skill. munity, assuming anyone is suitable hench mate-
For thrown weapons, you cant use the benefits of the rial. These henchmen will not fight except to save
Armsman focus at the same time as Gunslinger. their own lives, but will escort you on adventures
Level 1: Gain Shoot as a bonus skill. You can draw or and risk great danger to help you. Most hench-
holster a Stowed ranged weapon as an On Turn men will be treated as Peaceful Humans from the
action. You may add your Shoot skill level to a Xenobestiary section of the book. You can have
ranged weapons damage roll. one henchmen at a time for every three charac-
Level 2: Once per round, you can reload a ranged weap- ter levels you have, rounded up. You can release
on as an On Turn action if it takes no more than henchmen with no hard feelings at any plausible
one round to reload. Even on a miss with a Shoot time and pick them back up later should you be
attack, you do an unmodified 1d4 damage. without a current henchman.
Level 2: Your henchmen are remarkably loyal and
Hacker determined, and will fight for you against any-
You have a considerable fluency with digital security thing but clearly overwhelming odds. Whether
measures and standard encryption methods. You know through natural competence or their devotion
how to make computerized systems obey you until to you, theyre treated as Martial Humans from
their automatic failsafes come down on your control. the Xenobestiary section. You can make faithful
Level 1: Gain Program as a bonus skill. When attempt- henchmen out of skilled and highly-capable NPCs,
ing to hack a database or computerized system, but this requires that you actually have done them
roll 3d6 on the skill check and drop the lowest die. some favor or help that would reasonably earn
Level 2: Your hack duration increases to 1d4+Program such fierce loyalty.
skill x 10 minutes. You have an instinctive under-
standing of the tech; you never need to learn the
data protocols for a strange system and are always
treated as familiar with it.
22 Foci

Ironhide Sniper
Whether through uncanny reflexes, remarkable luck, You are an expert at placing a bullet or beam on an
gengineered skin fibers, or subtle telekinetic shielding, unsuspecting target. These special benefits only apply
you have natural defenses equivalent to high-quality when making an Execution Attack with a firearm or
combat armor. The benefits of this focus dont stack bow, as described on page 52.
with armor, though Dexterity or shield modifiers apply. Level 1: Gain Shoot as a bonus skill. When making
Level 1: You have an innate Armor Class of 15 plus half a skill check for an Execution Attack or target
your character level, rounded up. shooting, roll 3d6 and drop the lowest die.
Level 2: Your abilities are so effective that they render Level 2: A target hit by your Execution Attack takes a
you immune to unarmed attacks or primitive -4 penalty on the Physical saving throw to avoid
weaponry as if you wore powered armor. immediate mortal injury. Even if the save is suc-
cessful, the target takes double the normal damage
Psychic Training inflicted by the attack.
Youve had special training in a particular psychic disci-
pline. You must be a Psychic or have taken the Partial Specialist
Psychic class option as an Adventurer to pick this focus. You are remarkably talented at a particular skill. Wheth-
In the latter case, you can only take training in the dis- er a marvelous cat burglar, a world-famous athlete, a
cipline you initially chose as a Partial Psychic. As with brilliant engineer, or some other savant, your expertise
most foci, this focus can be taken only once. is extremely reliable. You may take this focus more than
Level 1: Gain any psychic skill as a bonus. If this im- once for different skills.
proves it to level-1 proficiency, choose a free lev- Level 1: Gain a non-combat, non-psychic skill as a bonus.
el-1 technique from that discipline. Your maxi- Roll 3d6 and drop the lowest die for all skill checks
mum Effort increases by one. in this skill.
Level 2: When you advance a level, the bonus psychic Level 2: Roll 4d6 and drop the two lowest dice for all
skill you chose for the first level of the focus auto- skill checks in this skill.
matically gets one skill point put toward increas-
ing it or purchasing a technique from it. You may Star Captain
save these points for later, if more are required to You have a tremendous natural talent for ship combat,
raise the skill or buy a particular technique. These and can make any starship you captain a significantly
points are awarded retroactively if you take this more fearsome opponent. You must take the captains
focus level later in the game. role during a fight as described on page 117 of the Ship
Combat rules in order to benefit from this focus.
Savage Fray Level 1: Gain Lead as a bonus skill. Your ship gains 2
You are a whirlwind of bloody havoc in melee combat, extra Command Points at the start of each turn.
and can survive being surrounded far better than most Level 2: A ship you captain gains bonus hit points equal
combatants. to 20% of its maximum at the start of each com-
Level 1: Gain Stab as a bonus skill. All enemies adjacent bat. Damage is taken from these bonus points first,
to you at the end of your turn whom you have not and they vanish at the end of the fight and do not
attacked suffer the Shock damage of your weapon require repairs to replenish before the next. In ad-
if their Armor Class is not too high to be affected. dition, once per engagement, you may resolve a
Level 2: After suffering your first melee hit in a round, Crisis as an Instant action by explaining how your
any further melee attacks from other assailants au- leadership resolves the problem.
tomatically miss you. If the attacker who hits you
has multiple attacks, they may attempt all of them, Starfarer
but other foes around you simply miss. You are an expert in the plotting and execution of inter-
stellar spike drills. While most experienced pilots can
Shocking Assault manage conventional drills along well-charted spike
Youre extremely dangerous to enemies around you. routes, you have the knack for forging new drill paths
The ferocity of your melee attacks stresses and distracts and cutting courses too dangerous for lesser navigators.
enemies even when your blows dont draw blood. Level 1: Gain Pilot as a bonus skill. You automatically
Level 1: Gain Punch or Stab as a bonus skill. The Shock succeed at all spike drill-related skill checks of dif-
damage of your weapon treats all targets as if they ficulty 10 or less.
were AC 10, assuming your weapon is capable of Level 2: Double your Pilot skill for all spike drill-relat-
harming the target in the first place. ed skill checks. Spike drives of ships you navigate
Level 2: In addition, you gain a +2 bonus to the Shock are treated as one level higher; thus, a drive-1 is
damage rating of all melee weapons and unarmed treated as a drive-2, up to a maximum of drive-7.
attacks. Regular hits never do less damage than Spike drills you personally oversee take only half
this Shock would do on a miss. the time they would otherwise require.
Foci 23

Tinker Wanderer
You have a natural knack for modifying and improving Your hero gets around. As part of a life on the road,
equipment, as given in the rules on page 100. theyve mastered a number of tricks for ensuring their
Level 1: Gain Fix as a bonus skill. Your Maintenance mobility and surviving the inevitable difficulties of a
score is doubled, allowing you to maintain twice vagabond existence.
as many mods. Both ship and gear mods cost only Level 1: Gain Survive as a bonus skill. You can convey
half their usual price in credits, though pretech basic ideas in all the common languages of the
salvage requirements remain the same. sector. You can always find free transport to a de-
Level 2: Your Fix skill is treated as one level higher for sired destination for yourself and a small group of
purposes of building and maintaining mods and your friends provided any traffic goes to the place.
calculating your Maintenance score. Advanced Finding this transport takes no more than an hour,
mods require one fewer pretech salvage part to but it may not be a strictly legitimate means of
make, down to a minimum of zero. travel and may require working passage.
Level 2: You can forge, scrounge, or snag travel papers
Unarmed Combatant and identification for the party with 1d6 hours
Your empty hands are more dangerous than knives of work. These papers and permits will stand up
and guns in the grip of the less gifted. Your unarmed to ordinary scrutiny, but require an opposed Int/
attacks are counted as melee weapons when it comes to Administer versus Wis/Notice check if examined
binding up opponents wielding rifles and similar long by an official while the PC is actually wanted by
arms, though you need at least one hand free to do so. the state for some crime. When finding transport
Level 1: Gain Punch as a bonus skill. Your unarmed for the party, the transportation always makes the
attacks become more dangerous as your Punch trip at least as fast as a dedicated charter would.
skill increases. At level-0, they do 1d6 damage. At
level-1, they do 1d8 damage. At level-2 they do Wild Psychic Talent
1d10, level-3 does 1d12, and level-4 does 1d12+1. Some men and women are born with a very limited
At Punch-1 or better, they have the Shock quality form of MES, the mental condition that allows for the
equal to your Punch skill against AC 15 or less. use of psychic powers. While these people are not true
While you normally add your Punch skill level to psychics, these wild talents can create one limited psy-
any unarmed damage, dont add it twice to this chic effect. Training is not always required to develop
Shock damage. this ability, and their MES is so mild that they dont
Level 2: You know locks and twists that use powered suffer the risk of madness or brain damage that more
servos against their wearer. Your unarmed attacks developed psychics risk should they use their powers
count as TL4 weapons for the purpose of over- without proper training.
coming advanced armors. Even on a miss with a Wild talents are not treated as psychics for gen-
Punch attack, you do an unmodified 1d6 damage. eral purposes and cannot torch their powers. When
relevant, they are treated as having one point of Effort.
Unique Gift Psychics and Partial Psychics cannot take this focus.
Whether due to exotic technological augmentation, a Level 1: Pick a psychic discipline. You gain an ability
unique transhuman background, or a remarkable hu- equivalent to the level-0 core power of that disci-
man talent, you have the ability to do something thats pline. Optionally, you may instead pick a level-1
simply impossible for a normal human. technique from that discipline, but that tech-
This is a special focus which serves as a catch-all nique must stand alone; you cant pick one that
for some novel power or background perk that doesnt augments another technique or core ability. For
have a convenient fit in the existing rules. A transhu- example, you could pick the Telekinetic Armory
man who can function normally in lethal environments, technique from Telekinesis, because that ability
a nanotech-laden experimental subject with a head full does not require the use of any other Telekine-
of exotic sensors, or a brilliant gravitic scientist who sis power. You could not pick the Mastered Succor
can fly thanks to their personal tech might all take this ability from Biopsionics, because that technique is
focus to cover their special abilities. meant to augment another power you dont have.
Its up to the GM to decide whats reasonable and Level 2: You now have a maximum Effort of two points.
fair to be covered under this gift. If an ability is particu- You may pick a second ability according to the
larly powerful, it might require the user to take System guidelines above. This second does not need to be
Strain to use it, as described on page 32. a stand-alone technique if it augments the power
As a general rule this ability should be better than you chose for level 1 of this focus. Thus, if your
a piece of gear the PC could buy for credits. The player first pick was gaining the level-0 power of Psychic
is spending a very limited resource when they make Succor, your second could be Mastered Succor. You
this focus pick, so what they get should be good enough still could not get the level-1 core power of Psychic
that they cant just duplicate it with a fat bank account. Succor, however, as youre still restricted to level-0.
24 Final Touches

Final Touches
Youre almost finished. Just a few more things to note
down, and youll have an adventurer ready for play.
First, pick one more non-psychic skill of your
choice. This pick represents your hobbies, your side
interests, or some well of natural talent. You gain it at
level-0 if you dont already have it. Otherwise, it stacks
to increase the skill to level-1. You cant pick a skill you
already have at level-1.
Next, determine your maximum hit points. Your
hit points are a measure of how close you are to death
or defeat; when you run out of them, your character is
dead or unable to continue fighting. You can regain lost
hit points by rest and biopsionic healing, but they can-
not exceed their maximum. Your maximum hit points
are equal to 1d6 plus your Constitution modifier, down
to a minimum of 1 hit point. Warriors and Adventur-
ers with the Partial Warrior class option can add a +2
bonus to this total.
Now note down your base attack bonus. For most
PCs, this is equal to half your character level, rounded
down, so its +0 for most characters. If your hero is a
Warrior or an Adventurer with the Partial Warrior
class option, your beginning base attack bonus is +1.
Record your Physical, Mental, and Evasion saving
throws. Your Physical saving throw is 15 minus the
better of your Strength or Constitution attribute mod-
ifiers. Your Mental saving throw is 15 minus the better
of your Wisdom or Charisma attribute modifiers. Your
Evasion saving throw is 15 minus the better of your
Dexterity or Intelligence attribute modifiers. If you
have a penalty in both modifiers, its possible to have a
saving throw of 16 or more.
Lastly, either choose an equipment package from
the list on the opposite page or roll 2d6 x 100 to find out
how many credits you have to buy your beginning gear.

PCs and Languages


The standard language of the late Terran Mandate
was a highly hybridized version of English. All PCs
are assumed to speak Mandate unless theyve got
a very good reason not to, and will rapidly pick up
enough to get by otherwise.
PCs also speak all the languages appropri-
ate to their background and history. A native
of a French-speaking world will naturally speak
French, or whatever French is in 3200 AD.
Linguist PCs with the Know skill know addi-
tional languages; one more at level-0, three more
at level-1, six more at level-2, ten more at level-3,
and all sector-known languages at level-4. PCs
who are far-traveled or versed in dealing with
other cultures may substitute Connect instead of
Know to determine their bonus languages.
Final Touches 25

Gunslinger
Equipment Packages Laser Pistol (1d6 damage) 8 type A Cells
Armored Undersuit (AC 13) Backpack (TL0)
Rather than choosing gear from the Equipment chap-
ter, you can just take a premade package from this page Monoblade Knife (1d6 damage) Compad
instead of taking your starting credits. 100 credits
Once youve chosen your equipment, make sure to
note down the damage and hit bonus of your weapons,
and the Armor Class of any armor you have.
For weapons, your hit bonus is your base attack
bonus plus your applicable skill, plus the attribute mod- Soldier
ifier used by the weapon. For ranged weapons, this Combat Rifle (1d12 damage) 80 rounds ammo
is usually Dexterity, while most melee weapons are Woven Body Armor (AC 15) Backpack (TL0)
Strength or Dexterity. Ranged energy weapons add +1
Knife (1d4 damage) Compad
to this, as they lack recoil or windage. Damage is equal
to the weapons damage die plus the attribute modifier. 100 credits
For armor, your total Armor Class is that of your
armor plus your Dexterity modifier. Multiple suits of
armor do not stack together.
Barbarian Scout
Spear (1d6+1 damage) Backpack (TL0) Laser Rifle (1d10 damage) 8 type A cells
Primitive hide armor (AC 13) 7 days rations Armored vacc suit (AC 13) Backpack (TL0)
Primitive shield (+1 AC) 20m rope Knife (1d4 damage) Compad
Knife (1d4 damage) 500 credits Survey scanner 25 credits
Survival kit
Binoculars (TL 3)

Blade Medic
Monoblade sword (1d8+1 dmg) Backpack (TL0) Laser Pistol (1d6 damage) Backpack (TL0)
Woven Body Armor (AC 15) Compad Secure Clothing (AC 13) Medkit
Secure Clothing (AC 13) Lazarus patch 4 Lazarus patches Compad
Thermal knife (1d6 damage) 50 credits 2 doses of Lift Bioscanner
25 credits

Thief Civilian
Laser Pistol (1d6 damage) 2 type A cells Secure Clothing (AC 13) Compad
Armored Undersuit (AC 13) Backpack (TL0) 700 credits
Monoblade knife (1d6 damage) Compad
Climbing harness Metatool
Low-light goggles 25 credits

Hacker Technician
Laser Pistol (1d6 damage) 2 type A cells Laser Pistol (1d6 damage) 4 type A cells
Secure Clothing (AC 13) Dataslab Armored Undersuit (AC 13) Backpack (TL0)
Postech toolkit Metatool Monoblade knife (1d6 damage) Dataslab
3 units of spare parts 2 line shunts Postech toolkit Metatool
100 credits 6 units of spare parts 200 credits
26 Quick Character Creation

Quick Character Creation


If you dont have the time or inclination to do things The first step is to roll on the class table below. This will
the leisurely way, you can use these pages to quickly give you your class, your attributes, the hit point die to
roll up a hero. You can either pick or roll from any of roll, and your attack bonus. Each class style hints at
the tables to get a character that suits. the kind of PC those attributes might describe.

d8 Class and Style Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha HP Atk. Bon.
1 Expert (Smart) 10 (+0) 12 (+0) 11 (+0) 14 (+1) 7 (-1) 9 (+0) 1d6 +0
2 Expert (Smooth) 7 (-1) 9 (+0) 10 (+0) 12 (+0) 11 (+0) 14 (+1) 1d6 +0
3 Expert (Nimble) 10 (+0) 14 (+1) 12 (+0) 11 (+0) 9 (+0) 7 (-1) 1d6 +0
4 Warrior (Melee) 14 (+1) 9 (+0) 12 (+0) 7 (-1) 10 (+0) 11 (+0) 1d6+2 +1
5 Warrior (Ranged) 9 (+0) 14 (+1) 12 (+0) 10 (+0) 7 (-1) 11 (+0) 1d6+2 +1
6 Warrior (Leader) 7 (-1) 10 (+0) 9 (+0) 11 (+0) 12 (+0) 14 (+1) 1d6+2 +1
7 Psychic (Seer) 9 (+0) 11 (+0) 12 (+0) 10 (+0) 14 (+1) 7 (-1) 1d6 +0
8 Psychic (Adept) 12 (+0) 10 (+0) 14 (+1) 9 (+0) 11 (+0) 7 (-1) 1d6+1 +0

d20 Background Skills


Next, its time to pick or roll from the background table
1 Barbarian Survive-0, Notice-0, Any Combat-0
to the right. Dont worry if it doesnt seem to fit your
Clergy Talk-0, Perform-0, Know-0
class; if your Melee Warrior happens to roll a past as 2

a Scholar, just take a moment to decide why it is that 3 Courtesan Perform-0, Notice-0, Connect-0
an erudite scientist might also have a savage left hook. 4 Criminal Connect-0, Sneak-0, Talk-0
You can switch around your attributes if you want to 5 Dilettante Connect-0. Know-0, Talk-0
make things fit more closely, such as swapping your 6 Entertainer Perform-0, Talk-0, Connect-0
Intelligence and Charisma in the case above.
7 Merchant Trade-0, Talk-0, Connect-0
The background options are general concepts as
Noble Lead-0, Connect-0, Administer-0
described starting on page 10. Your hero might be 8

a model example of their type, or you might shuffle 9 Official Administer-0, Talk-0, Connect-0
around their details a little, deciding your Ranged War- 10 Peasant Exert-0, Sneak-0, Survive-0
rior Official is an ex-cop bounced out of the force after 11 Physician Heal-0, Know-0, Notice-0
investigating an alien smuggling ring a little too closely. 12 Pilot Pilot-0, Fix-0, Shoot or Trade-0
Once youve rolled or chosen your background,
13 Politician Talk-0, Lead-0, Connect-0
note down the three skills listed with it. If one of the
Scholar Know-0, Administer-0, Connect-0
skills says Any Combat, choose either Punch, Shoot, 14

or Stab depending on what fits best for your hero. 15 Soldier Any Combat-0, Exert-0, Survive-0
Youll want to decide on your homeworld at this 16 Spacer Fix-0, Pilot-0, Program-0
point too. If youre not familiar with the campaign 17 Technician Fix-0, Notice-0, Exert-0
setting, describe your heros background and ask the 18 Thug Any Combat-0, Talk-0, Connect-0
GM which planet theyre most likely from. The GM
19 Vagabond Notice-0, Sneak-0, Survive-0
can then fill you in on any important cultural or social
Worker Connect-0, Exert-0, Work-0
details that mightve influenced your heros history. 20

d6 Psychic Skill
If you picked or rolled the Psychic class, roll twice on
the table to the left to find out what psychic disciplines 1 Biopsionics-0, the art of healing and metamorphosis
youve trained to level-0. If you roll or pick the same 2 Metapsionics-0, the art of manipulating psychic power
one twice, its level-1, and you should pick a free level-1 3 Precognition-0, the art of sensing the future
technique from the Psionics chapter on page 28. 4 Telekinesis-0, the art of controlling kinetic energy
Take a minute to decide where you were trained 5 Telepathy-0, the art of reading and influencing thought
to safely use your innate powers. If youre not sure, ask
6 Teleportation-0, the art of instant translocation
the GM which psychic academy makes the most sense.
Quick Character Creation 27

Now roll 1d6 or pick from the table below to get ap- level-0. If you have it at level-0, it becomes level-1. And
propriate foci for your hero, assuming youd rather not if you already have it at level-1, pick any other non-psy-
pick freely. All the foci listed below are gained at level 1 chic skill instead that isnt already level-1.
proficiency and are described starting on page 20. Psy- The focus you pick or roll tells you a lot about your
chics can pick one focus. The other classes get one free heros past. A smooth Expert whos a Connected Dip-
pick, plus one more combat focus for Warriors and one lomat might have been an underworld fixer, while a
more non-combat focus for Experts. Healer with Specialization in Talk could have been a
When you choose a focus, you might get a bonus psychiatrist or therapist. Take a moment to figure out
skill from it. If you dont have that skill, you gain it at how your heros foci reflect their past experience.

Class 1 2 3 4 5 6
Expert (Smart) Specialist/Fix Hacker Specialist/Know Specialist/Fix Healer Specialist/Fix
Die Hard Tinker Healer Tinker Ironhide Hacker
Expert (Smooth) Diplomat Specialist/Talk Diplomat Specialist/Lead Healer Specialist/Notice
Connected Die Hard Alert Authority Specialist/Talk Specialist/Talk
Expert (Nimble) Specialist/Pilot Healer Tinker Specialist/Sneak Specialist/Sneak Specialist/Entertain
Starfarer Die Hard Gunslinger Assassin Specialist/Exert Specialist/Sneak
Warrior (Melee) Savage Fray Assassin Armsman Close Combatant Ironhide Unarmed Combatant
Shocking Assault Specialist/Sneak Close Combatant Savage Fray Die Hard Close Combatant
Warrior (Ranged) Gunslinger Sniper Assassin Ironhide Gunslinger Close Combat
Close Combatant Specialist/Sneak Specialist/Sneak Die Hard Tinker Alert
Warrior (Leader) Gunslinger Ironhide Armsman Gunslinger Assassin Close Combatant
Authority Connected Specialist/Lead Specialist/Talk Die Hard Henchkeeper
Psychic (Seer) Alert Healer Specialist/Notice Psychic Training Savage Fray Hacker
Psychic (Adept) Armsman Ironhide Die Hard Psychic Training Healer Unarmed Combatant

Now its time for a few final touches. d20 Bonus Skill
Pick or roll a bonus skill. You can use the table to 1 Administer: bureaucracy and management
the right or just choose any non-psychic skill to add at
level-0 to your hero. You can pick a skill you already 2 Connect: knowing people and cultures
have at level-0 to make it level-1 instead. 3 Exert: climbing, running, throwing, and such
If youre playing a Psychic, note down your begin- 4 Fix: repairing and building things
ning maximum Effort, which is equal to 1 plus your
5 Heal: curing harm in mind and body
highest psychic skill plus the better of your Wisdom
or Constitution modifiers. 6 Know: scientific and academic knowledge
Write down your saving throws. Your Physi- 7 Lead: persuade others to do as you are doing
cal saving throw is equal to 15 minus your Strength 8 Notice: spot things and detect the unusual
or Constitution modifiers, whichever is better. Your
Evasion saving throw is equal to 15 minus the better 9 Perform: sing, dance, act, and the like
of your Dexterity or Intelligence modifiers, and your 10 Pilot: fly ships, ride beasts, sail boats
Mental saving throw is 15 minus the better of your 11 Program: hack computers, run comms
Wisdom or Charisma modifiers.
12 Punch: fight unarmed
Pick your starting equipment, either rolling 2d6
x 100 to find your beginning credit total or picking a 13 Shoot: fight at range
package from page 25. Note down your beginning hit 14 Sneak: defeat security and avoid notice
bonus totals and damage for any weapons you have, Stab: fight with melee weapons
15
and the Armor Class total for any armor you wear.
Finally, put a name on this budding hero and 16 Survive: avoid natural peril, find food
choose their initial goal. What are they trying to ac- 17 Talk: persuade others to believe things
complish right now? Get rich? Get off their tedious 18 Trade: buy, sell, and find vendors of things
homeworld? Take revenge on a local tyrant? Whatever
19 Work: a job or talent not covered above
you pick should be something that motivates your hero
from the very start, and it should also be something that 20 Change a level-0 skill you have to level-1
complements the interests of the rest of the players.
Nobodys going to thank you if you roll up a PC that
none of the other party members would want to asso-
ciate with, or one that cant be expected to play nicely
with the rest of the group.
PSIONICS
Psionic powers first manifested centuries ago in the women of some worlds now fear psychics, not only for
wake of the first interstellar flights. Later paraphysi- the ancestral memory of the Scream and the chaos that
cists speculated that something about the exposure to followed, but also because their only experience with
metadimensional energies incurred in spike drive trav- these unfortunates has been one of uncontrolled power,
el changed these spacers, altering genomes or warping madness, and death.
their energy shadows in a way that changed their even- In the past few centuries, however, a few worlds
tual offspring. While this theory was never completely have managed to resuscitate the ancient psychic proto-
proven, it was demonstrated that psionic powers were cols and develop metapsionic tutors skilled enough to
far more prevalent on the frontier, in people who were train new psychics. For some, it was the fruit of some
descended of starfaring ancestors, than they were on discovered pretech wonder that damped psychic ener-
Old Terra. On most frontier worlds about one in ten gies enough to safely experiment. For others, it was the
thousand children are born with psychic aptitude, product of coldly ruthless experimentation on dispos-
while Old Terra displayed only a tenth of that incidence. able psychic test victims. A few worlds even retained
Psychic abilities initially seemed to be a congenital some shreds of psychic mastery from the ancient days,
curse, one known as Metadimensional Extroversion the result of a Scream victim who was lucid enough
Syndrome, or MES. Children manifested MES in pu- to teach pupils, though usually for some demented or
berty or early adulthood, after certain critical stages of horrible end. Whatever the source, these institutions
brain development opened a channel between their provide desperately-desired training for those few af-
minds and the churning maelstrom of energies that flicted with MES.
boiled in metadimensional space. By a conscious or un- These psychic academies are scattered widely
conscious act of will, they could release these energies throughout the sectors of space, usually based out of
in various forms. Even so, the passage of unmediated some amenable planetary polity or defensible deep-
metadimensional force through unprotected neural tis- space habitat. Some academies are exclusively for the
sue almost invariably caused brain damage. Repeated use of a particular nation or planet, while others will
use of these abilities caused crippling disability, death, accept anyone who can pay the tuition or satisfy the
or madness. Most psychics were dead within a few interests of their patrons. Most are powerful players in
years after manifesting. A few were able to control their the local political scene, offering services that mean life
powers sufficiently to prevent accidental discharges, and death to MES sufferers and producing graduates
but safe, controlled use of these abilities was unknown. who are extremely useful to local rulers. Others need
In response, the Terran Mandate initiated the to operate in secret, avoiding the fearful attention of
Psionic Authority, basing it on a terraformed Mars. populations that neither accept nor trust their powers.
Children from throughout Mandate space were care-
fully selected by the Authority and brought to the in- Psychic Characters and Training
stitute in order to study and hopefully cure this tragic All Psychic PCs are assumed to have had some sort of
condition. Persistent legends speak of horrible exper- training. They may have received their education at a
iments and ruthless sacrifices of test subjects, but no world-famous psychic academy on their homeworld, or
proof of such evil ever emerged, and after decades of been taught in secret by a peripatetic psychic mentor,
study, the Psionic Authority was actually able to pro- but only one in a million psychics has the blind luck and
duce protocols that allowed controlled, safe employ- natural aptitude to develop an intuitive control of their
ment of psionic powers. MES. Of course, it may be that your PC was that one
The bloom of psitech development that followed in a million, but youll want to discuss it with your GM.
and the wonders of jump gates and the Second Wave Psychic training requires from one to four years
of human expansion are a matter of history. So too is to complete, depending on the aptitude of the pupil
the Scream that erupted six centuries ago and granted and the amount of training support they get from oth-
every living psychic in human space either violent mad- er psychics. Most academies have one or more deans
ness or instant death. The interstellar societal collapse who actually have the metapsionic abilities to dampen
that followed and the centuries-long Silence between and buffer novice minds. Regular application of their
the stars has been a matter of living memory for many abilities to the pupils allows the students to safely prac-
ill-connected frontier worlds. tice and train with their powers until theyve mastered
With the Scream and the death or madness of ev- the channeling of the energies. Aside from these deans,
ery potential psychic tutor, psionics became the hor- additional psychic tutors can speed the learning process
ror it once was generations ago. Untrained psychics by demonstrations, technical critique, and encourage-
suffer under the lash of their own abilities, doomed to ment of various kinds.
early death if they arent fortunate enough to fumble On worlds where psionics are outlawed or feared,
into a means of damping their own powers. Men and most MES sufferers learn to either conceal their pow-
30 Psionics

ers or accept swift euthanasia or exile from a society Psionic Powers and Techniques
that dreads their abilities. Most are unable to do this; Every psychic who obtains level-0 proficiency in a dis-
their innate abilities boil out at some inopportune time, cipline gains access to its core technique. This technique
and their true nature is revealed to their grieving family varies depending on the discipline, whether its physical
and neighbors. Those who do learn to contain their translocation with Teleportation or tissue repair with
abilities can go their whole lives unsuspected. A few Biopsionics. The strength of the ability varies with the
receive secret teachings from wandering adepts, ones practitioners skill level; the Psychic Succor provided by
who can quickly show them how to suppress their a biopsionicist with level-0 proficiency is much weaker
powers. The best and most promising might be taken than that provided by someone with level-4 expertise.
as full students by these adepts, shown how to master Core techniques improve naturally as the psychic im-
their own abilities and eventually teach others as well. proves their skill level. They do not need to be pur-
On planets where psionic powers are less terrify- chased with skill points or otherwise specially trained.
ing there is always at least one psychic academy in the As a psychic improves their skill level in a disci-
solar system that invites pupils. Some charge exorbitant pline, they may also learn other techniques, special
tuition, but most are supported by governments, pri- tricks and abilities theyve refined through practice.
vate organizations, or successful graduates. Students Each time they improve a skill level, they can pick a
are expected to pay for their training one way or an- new technique from that discipline. Most techniques
other, however; if not in credits, then in service to the have a minimum skill level associated with them, and
patron on completion of the training. Many psychics the PC cant pick a technique which requires a high-
with decidedly non-academic Backgrounds acquired er skill level than theyve mastered. They also cannot
their experience in the mandatory service period af- save technique picks for later, either. They must be
ter their graduation. Most psychic PCs will have left chosen immediately after improving the skill.
such duties behind by the time they start adventuring, The techniques listed under the disciplines here
though a few of them may have departed considerably are commonly-known arts that are part of the basic
in advance of their expected release date. curriculum of most competent psychic academies. No
special training is required to choose them when a PC
Psionic Skills is able to pick a new technique, as the principles were
Psionic powers are divided up into disciplines, each of taught as part of their basic education. Other tech-
which has a corresponding skill. Someone with a basic, niques exist that are more esoteric in nature, and may
functioning expertise in the skill has level-0, while a require a trainer to educate the PC in their principles
true master of the art would have level-4. Only psychics before they can be learned.
can learn psionic skills, and they are most often taught Even so, some of the standard techniques might
at rigidly-disciplined psychic academies. Attempting to be selectively restricted by an academy, taught only to
develop these skills without such formalized training certain pupils. In some cases, this may be due to a spon-
is almost invariably lethal to the experimenter, though sors restrictions on what kind of abilities they want the
an exceedingly few natural prodigies sometimes intui- local psychics to possess, while other academies might
tively grasp their principles. Even fewer of these gifted consider them fundamentally immoral abilities. Con-
naturals are able to express their understanding in a trol over the metapsionic technique of psychic tutoring
coherent, teachable form. is particularly strict, as any pupil who has its rudiments
Some psychics are unrestricted. While they usu- included in their curriculum may eventually be able
ally have a distinct aptitude for one or two disciplines, to train other psychics in turn. A PC may have to go
they can theoretically learn any of them, and may raise to significant lengths in order to patch the holes in a
any psionic skill they choose. Any character with the government-controlled psychic curriculum.
Psychic class is an unrestricted psychic. Others demon- PCs who want to learn additional techniques be-
strate gifts in only one discipline. While they can even- yond those acquired by improving their skills may buy
tually master all aspects of that power, they cant raise them separately with skill points, paying one point per
any other psychic skill. Adventurers with the Partial level of the technique. PCs who want to retrain tech-
Psychic class option are such restricted psychics. niques may do so at the GMs discretion, usually only
Attempting to wield a natural psionic aptitude when they encounter some new esoteric technique
without proper precautions will almost inevitably theyd like to learn in place of an existing art. Tech-
cause death or madness, as the uncontrolled cascade of niques can only be retrained into others of equal or
MES energies will cause varying forms of permanent lower required skill level.
brain damage. Untrained psychics can sometimes get It may be possible for a psychic to create entirely
away with using their powers very rarely, but these nat- new techniques to reflect their personal aptitudes and
ural prodigies rarely have any ability beyond level-1 in a special inclinations. Any such novelty is strictly at the
discipline. Those who use their powers often enough to GMs discretion, and unlikely to be done more than
gain more practical field experience can expect to end once or twice over the lifetime of even the most skilled
up dead, crippled, or insane. psychic experimenter.
Psionics 31

Effort and Psychic Abilities Attitudes Toward Psychics


Psionic powers are fueled by Effort, a measure of the Most worlds have a warily accepting attitude toward
psychics mental focus, energy, and neural responsive- psionic abilities. Provided theyve received appropriate
ness. A psychics maximum Effort total is equal to one training, a psychic can live and work in relative peace.
plus the higher of their Wisdom or Constitution at- They are not normally required to wear any sort of
tribute modifiers, plus their highest psychic skill score. external badge or marking, and they are entitled to
Thus, a psychic with a Wisdom modifier of -1, a Con- keep their own abilities private from anyone but the
stitution modifier of +2, and psionic skills of Metap- government if they so wish. They may be subject to
sionics-0 and Biopsionics-0 would have a maximum mandatory national service, depending on the pol-
Effort score of 3. If he were to then improve his Biop- ity, and their special abilities might be impressed by
sionics skill to level-1, his Effort would become 4. the government in cases of extreme need, but they are
Effort is Committed to fuel a psionic power. able to live a relatively normal, if very well-remuner-
Some Commitment is relatively short-term, lasting ated life. Ordinary men and women have only a vague
only as long as the power is in effect. Other powers understanding of psychic powers, but they understand
require that the Effort be Committed for the full scene, enough to know the basic types of disciplines and the
while the most powerful might require it be Commit- sort of effects each can produce.
ted for the rest of the day. Once the Commitment pe- Other worlds have a warmer attitude towards psy-
riod is over, the Effort returns to the psychic. All Effort chics. Those gifted with MES are elevated above the
is refreshed after a good nights rest. ordinary rabble, their abilities celebrated and directed
Whenever a power requires you to Commit Effort, toward the advantage of their communities. Such so-
you commit only one point, though additional effects cieties often have psychic ability as a prerequisite for
or triggerings may require separate Commitments. substantial authority, and have worked precognitive
visions or telepathic scans into the ordinary fabric of
Torching life. Offworld psychics tend to be treated with consider-
Psychics can push past their limits by torching, inten- able respect on these worlds, though sometimes theyre
tionally ignoring safety protocols and neural refractory also expected to provide services or guidance they may
periods to channel MES energy beyond their normal not be equipped to give. Citizens of these worlds usu-
capacity. For untrained MES subjects, all their power ally have an excellent understanding of how psychic
use qualifies as torching, as they lack the training nec- disciplines work, in addition to understanding ways
essary to develop safe reserves of Effort. to counter them.
Torching is an Instant action that can be per- A few worlds have outright hostility towards psy-
formed once per round. It provides a free point of Ef- chics and their abilities. MES sufferers might be viewed
fort that lasts for the rest of the scene, even if this point as pitiable victims of a lethal affliction they cant con-
puts a psychic over the maximum allowed. Every time trol, but trained and capable psychics are threats to be
the psychic torches, however, they have to roll on the wiped out. Their telepathic probings, cheating fore-
torching result table below. sight, and impossibly elusive teleportation makes them
a menace to normal human beings, and society cannot
d6 Torching Result tolerate their existence. Some worlds forbid psionics
1-2 Lose 1 point from your Wisdom score out of fear of another Scream, while others do so out
3-4 Lose 1 point from your Constitution score of misunderstandings, a desire for social stability, or lo-
5 Lose 1 point from an attribute you choose cal conditions that make psionic powers exceptionally
dangerous. A few of these worlds have private psychic
6 No harm is done by the torching academies to train psionic myrmidons for the ruling
Psychics reduced below a Wisdom score of 3 go class or deniable agents of private intrigue.
violently insane and become feral psychics; those re- On almost all worlds, however, psychics can ex-
duced below scores of 3 in other attributes likewise pect to suffer considerably harsher legal penalties than
become dead or nonviable as player characters. There is conventional criminals. Some worlds simply have no
no available cure for brain damage caused by torching, resources to jail an unwilling teleporter or mind-read-
and even advanced pretech technology has no gener- ing telepath, while others expect those of great gifts to
ally-known remedy. have correspondingly great virtue. Its not unknown
Feral psychics are exceptionally dangerous, as their for psychics to face summary execution for crimes that
form of brain damage invariably results in violent, psy- would earn other malefactors a simple jail sentence.
chotic behavior and terrifying hallucinations. Worse A few worlds have ancient pretech artifacts or
still, they can torch with impunity thereafter, as the technologies that are capable of defeating or suppress-
MES energies have already burnt a clear path through ing psychic powers. Such resources are always extreme-
what remains of their sanity. Feral psychics have ef- ly rare, and normally only deployed to protect heads of
fectively unlimited Effort with what powers they have state and similar top-level figures, along with govern-
obtained. There is no known cure for a feral psychic. ment sites of planetary importance.
32 Biopsionics

Biopsionics
Biopsionic powers repair, augment, debilitate, or dam-
age living creatures. Unless otherwise specified the Mastered Succor Level-1
biopsionicist must be able to touch a target, though The biopsion has developed a sophisticated mastery of
clothing and armor do not interfere with the use of their core ability, and they no longer need to Commit
these abilities. Touching a willing or unsuspecting tar- Effort to activate it, and may use it whenever they wish.
get is automatic, whereas touching a resisting target The use of additional techniques that augment Psychic
requires a normal Punch hit roll with a bonus equal to Succor might still require Effort to be Committed.
the practitioners Biopsionics skill. Such touch effects
do not inflict the normal damage of a Punch attack. Organic Purification Protocols Level-1
Unsurprisingly, biopsionic powers are among the The biopsions Psychic Succor now cures any poisons or
most accepted psychic abilities. Even a modestly-expe- diseases the subject may be suffering, albeit it requires
rienced biopsion can perform miracles of healing for a Committing Effort for the day as an additional sur-
community lucky enough to have their services. charge. Biowarfare organisms, exceptionally virulent
diseases, or TL5 toxins may resist this curing, requiring
System Strain a Wis/Biopsionics skill check at a difficulty of at least
Many curative biopsionic powers add to the targets 10. Failure means that the adept cannot cure the targets
System Strain. System Strain is a measure of the amount disease. This technique cannot cure congenital illnesses.
of system stress, intrusive modification, and general bi-
ological distress an organism might be suffering. Psion- Remote Repair Level-1
ic healing, cybernetic implants, and powerful drugs all Psychic Succor and other biopsionic techniques that nor-
add to a targets System Strain. mally require touch contact can now be applied at a
If using a power or drug on a target would make distance up to 100 meters, provided the biopsion can
their System Strain exceed their Constitution score, the see the target with their unaided vision. Hostile powers
effect fails to function; their body simply cannot adapt that normally require a hit roll will hit automatically.
to the changes and cannot benefit from them. Each time this technique is used, Effort must be Com-
System Strain decreases automatically by one point mitted for the scene.
after each night of rest, provided the organism is well-
fed and not compromised by sickness or privation. Invincible Stand Level-2
The biopsion has mastered techniques of emergency
Core Technique- Psychic Succor tissue reinforcement and system stabilization. As an
The adepts touch stabilizes critically-wounded organ- Instant action, they can Commit Effort for the scene to
isms. More sophisticated practitioners can heal tissue keep themself or a target they can touch active even at
injuries, though curing diseases, detoxifying poisons, zero hit points. This technique must be used once every
and fixing congenital deformities require additional round on the target or they collapse at the end of the
techniques. Each use of Psychic Succor adds one point round. If the target suffers hit point damage, the biop-
of System Strain to the target, or two points if they sion must Instantly Commit Effort for the scene or the
were mortally wounded at the time. target goes down immediately with a mortal wound. A
Activating Psychic Succor requires the biopsion to Heavy weapon hit on a subject of this power or similar
Commit Effort for the day. Once used, they can con- physical dismemberment will always kill a target, re-
tinue to use it for the rest of that scene without Com- gardless of this technique.
mitting Effort again.
Level-0: The psychics touch can automatically stabilize Major Organ Restoration Level-2
a mortally-wounded target as a Main Action. This The biopsions Psychic Succor can now cure congeni-
power must be used on a target within six rounds tal birth defects and regrow missing limbs and organs.
of their collapse, and does not function on tar- It can even be used to stabilize targets that have been
gets that have been decapitated or killed by Heavy dropped by Heavy weapons, decapitated, or otherwise
weapons. Its the GMs decision as to whether a dramatically dismembered, provided its used within
target is intact enough for this power to work. one round per level of Biopsionic skill. The best that
Level-1: As level-0, and heal 1d6+1 hit points of damage. can be done for such badly-mangled targets is stabiliza-
If used on a mortally-wounded target, they revive tion, after which they must rest for 24 hours before any
with the rolled hit points and can act normally on further hit points can be healed by Biopsionics, stims,
the next round. or natural rest.
Level-2: As level-1, but healing 2d6+2 hit points instead.
Level-3: As level-2, but healing 2d6+6 hit points instead.
Level-4: As level-3, but healing 3d6+8 hit points instead.
Biopsionics 33

Tissue Integrity Field Level-2 Holistic Optimization Patterning Level-4


The biopsions Psychic Succor may now also affect all The biopsion gains the ability to drastically augment
allies within ten meters of the target. Allies can decline their own or a touched allys physical abilities as an
the healing if they dont require it or dont want to take On Turn action. This boost lasts for the rest of the
the additional System Strain. Each use of this technique scene, adds two points of System Strain to the target
requires that the biopsion Commit Effort for the day in and gives them a +2 bonus to all Strength or Dexterity
addition to the cost of the Psychic Succor. skill checks, hit rolls, and damage rolls along with 20
extra hit points. Any damage is taken off these tem-
Accelerated Succor Level-3 porary hit points first, and both the bonuses and any
The biopsions Psychic Succor now can be used as an On hit points in excess of the targets maximum are lost at
Turn power, albeit only once per round. By Commit- the end of the scene. Each invocation of this technique
ting an additional Effort for the day with each use, it requires the biopsion to Commit Effort for the day, and
can even be used as an Instant power, though it still this power cannot be used on a given target more than
can only be used once per round. Any surcharges for once per scene.
augmenting the succor apply normally, such as with
Tissue Integrity Field. Quintessential Reconstruction Level-4
The biopsion becomes extremely difficult to kill, en-
Metamorph Level-3 coding their mind in a coherent pattern of MES energy
The biopsion can now shape their own or another will- coterminous with their realspace coordinates. If killed,
ing targets physical form as a Main Action, transform- the psychic will regenerate from the largest remain-
ing a touched target into any humanoid form within ing fragment of their body over 24 hours. This pro-
50% of their own mass. Claws and other body arma- cess maximizes their System Strain for one week. If
ments can be fashioned equivalent to Light or Medium brought to zero hit points during this week, they die
melee weapons and innate armor equivalent to AC 13. instantly and permanently. The psychic retains a vague
Gills and other environmental-survival alterations are awareness of their surroundings while dead and can
also viable at the GMs discretion, but flight is a bridge postpone their regeneration for up to a week in order
too far for this power. to avoid notice, but burial or entombment may result in
A person can be impersonated down to the DNA a very short second life. Each use of this power inflicts
level, provided a blood or hair sample is available. The one point of permanent attribute loss in an attribute
use of this adds one System Strain point to the target of the biopsions choice.
that does not recover so long as the change is in effect.
Applying Metamorph requires that the biopsion Commit
Effort for as long as the change is to be maintained. If Biopsionics and Hospitals
applied to a target other than the psychic, the power Biopsionics is a spectacularly effective discipline
automatically ends if the psychic gets more than one for curing physical injuries and sicknesses, but
hundred kilometers away. its use for the latter is capped by the biopsions
available Effort. Hospitals on worlds with access to
Teratic Overload Level-3 psychic academies often have several biopsions on
This use of biopsionics inflicts potentially-lethal dam- staff, proficient with the requisite techniques and
age on a touched target as a Main Action, and requires capable of quickly healing tremendous amounts of
that the biopsion Commit Effort for the scene. The trauma injuries on short notice.
target suffers 1d6 damage per level of the psychics Bi- Assuming one proficient and available biop-
opsionics skill and must make a Physical saving throw. sion for every 100,000 citizens, however, the total
On a failure, the damage is tripled and the target is now amount of sickness-curing ability is going to be
affected by an obvious, lethal cancer that will kill them very limited, and likely reserved for the powerful
in 1d6 months. The cancer can be treated by a TL4 and wealthy. The vanishingly few psychics who
hospital or ships sick bay if managed within a months are master metapsions capable of the Flawless
time. If the biopsion Commits Effort for the day instead Mastery of Organic Purification Protocols can easily
of the scene, they can control the power sufficiently to command as much as two thousand credits a day
do no hit point damage and create very subtle tumors, just for temporary work at a grateful hospital.
leaving the cancer undetectable without a TL4 medical Ordinary PC biopsions who want to pick up
examination. Such victims probably wont even know some extra work curing sicknesses can usually find
theyve been attacked by this power. Whether a success temp employment with a local medical facility for
or failure, this power cannot be used on the same target 50 credits per day per Effort point they have. Note
more than once per scene. that some patients may be very upset if the hospital
fails to assign them the PCs limited Effort.
34 Metapsionics

Metapsionics
Metapsionics is the rarest and most esoteric of the psy-
chic disciplines, with few psychics having the necessary Cloak Powers Level-1
temperament or interest in developing these complex The metapsion can conceal their own psychic abilities
abilities. A metapsion controls psychic energy itself, from metapsionic senses. They must Commit Effort
molding and shaping the flows of energy that spill for as long as they wish to cloak their powers. While
through the brains of those marked by MES. hidden, only a metapsion with equal or higher skill in
Taken in isolation, metapsionics allows a psychic Metapsionics can detect their abilities with their level-0
to increase the raw Effort available to them and become or level-2 Psychic Refinement abilities. In such cases, an
more flexible in how this Effort is used. Expert metap- opposed Wis/Metapsionics roll is made between the
sions can even teach other potential psychics how to metapsion and the investigator. If the investigator wins,
control and channel their new abilities, and the services the cloak is pierced, while if the metapsion wins, the
of a trained psychic mentor command considerable investigators Psychic Refinement remains oblivious.
sums in most systems.
Beyond this, in most stellar sectors a competent Mindtracing Level-1
metapsion is the only practical way to protect a target The metapsion can trace back the use of psionic powers
from undetectable psychic assault. Without a vigilant theyve noticed in their presence. By Committing Ef-
brainguard, a head of state, interstellar celebrity, or fort for the scene as an Instant action, they can see and
planetary oligarch might find their minds rifled effort- hear through the senses of a user of a psychic power,
lessly by some undetected psychic intruder. gaining an intuitive awareness of their location and
As a consequence, many metapsions become much treating them as a visible target for purposes of their
more physically competent and better-trained in com- own abilities. Thus, if they see someone being affected
bat than the average psychic. The high prices they can by a telepathy power with no visible source, they can
command as brainguards attract some, though others use this ability to briefly share the hidden telepaths
find their clients too aggravating to endure for long. senses. If used on a target that is teleporting, they can
perceive the teleporters view of their destination. Use
Core Technique- Psychic Refinement on a metamorphically-shaped impostor would reveal
The metapsion gains improved mastery over their own the biopsion responsible for the change, and so forth.
powers and an innate sensitivity to the use of psionic These shared senses last for only one round and do not
abilities in their presence. interfere with the adepts other actions.
Level-0: The adept can visually and audibly detect the
use of psychic powers. If both the source and tar- Synthetic Adaptation Level-1
get are visible to the metapsion, they can tell whos This is a particularly esoteric technique, one that re-
using the power, even if its normally impercep- quires the adept to have at least Program-0 or Fix-0
tible. They gain a +2 bonus on any saving throw skill in order to master. With it, however, the metap-
versus a psionic power. sion has learned how to synergize with the quantum
Level-1: The metapsions maximum Effort increases by intelligence of a VI or True AI in order to apply Telepa-
an additional point. thy or Biopsion powers to their inanimate corpus. Only
Level-2: The adept can determine whether or not a intelligent machines can be affected, as the technique
person is a psychic or has latent psionic abilities requires a sentient mind to catalyze the effect.
through one round of visual inspection. Their sav- This synergy takes much of its force from the ad-
ing throw bonus against psionic powers increases ept. Any System Strain the powers might inflict must
to +3. be paid by the adept rather than the target.
Level-3: The metapsions maximum Effort increases by
an additional point. Neural Trap Level-2
Level-4: The metapsion can perform a slightly safer The metapsion allows a hostile psychic into their men-
version of torching. Instead of rolling the torch- tal sanctum in order to gain a later advantage. When
ing damage die, they simply suffer 10 hit points of targeted by a hostile psionic power that allows a save,
damage after torching is used. The damage occurs the metapsion may Commit Effort as an Instant action
after the fueled power activates, allowing a psychic and voluntarily fail the saving throw, accepting the ef-
at low hit points to trigger a power before falling fect. The next psychic power the user targets at that
unconscious. This damage cannot be healed by assailant then allows the victim no saving throw. This
anything but natural bed rest, though a psychic technique lasts until the metapsion makes their psychic
can be stabilized if this technique drops her to zero attack or reclaims their Committed Effort. A hostile
hit points. psychic may be affected by only one Neural Trap from
a given psychic at a time.
Metapsionics 35

Psychic Static Level-2 Psychic Tutelage Level-3


As an Instant action, the metapsion may Commit Ef- An expert metapsion can modulate and temper the
fort for the day to negate a perceived psychic power. metadimensional energy that surges through an un-
The psychic responsible for the effect must Commit trained psychics mind. This safety buffer allows the
Effort for the day as an Instant action to resist this ne- novice to experiment with their abilities and gradually
gation, otherwise the power ends and any action used develop the control they need to channel their powers
to trigger it is wasted. The PC may then Commit Ef- without causing permanent brain damage. Without
fort for the day again, with each spending and count- this technique, it is virtually impossible to turn a nor-
er-spending until one runs out of Effort or chooses to mal with untapped potential into a trained psychic.
stop. Psychic Static can be applied only once per round An adept with Metapsionics-3 skill can train up to
to any particular power. The target of the Psychic Stat- ten pupils at once. One with Metapsionics-4 can train
ic automatically knows the position of the interfering up to one hundred. It requires only a week to train a
metapsion, though other onlookers do not have any potential in ways to avoid accidentally triggering their
obvious way of identifying the metapsion. powers and suffering the damage that follows, but actu-
ally teaching them to use their powers effectively takes
Suspended Manifestation Level-2 anywhere from one to four years depending on their
The metapsion is capable of hanging a psychic power natural aptitude and the availability of other psychics
in their brain, forming the energy patterns and then willing to assist the metapsion in the training process.
suspending them in a self-sustaining loop until its time
to trigger their release. The psychic must Commit Ef- Surge Momentum Level-3
fort for the day to hang a power, along with the Effort The metapsions abilities can be reinforced with a de-
normally necessary to trigger it. None of this Effort can gree of metadimensional energy that would cause sub-
be recovered until the power is expended, after which stantial damage to a less adept mind. Particularly weak
it recovers at its usual speed. Activating the power is or unprepared minds might be completely crushed by
an Instant action, or an On Turn action if it allows the the force of the adepts augmented will.
target a saving throw of some kind. Only one ability The adept must Commit Effort for the day when
can be held suspended at any one time. using a power that normally grants its target a saving
throw. The target then suffers a penalty equal to the
Concert of Minds Level-3 adepts Metapsionics skill on any saving throw normal-
As an On Turn action, the metapsion may Commit ly granted by the power. If the targets hit die total or
Effort and form a psychic gestalt with one or more character level is less than half the adepts level, round-
willing psychics within three meters, including up to ed up, they automatically fail their saving throw.
one other psychic per Metapsion skill level. This ge-
stalt persists as long as the Effort remains committed, Flawless Mastery Level-4
regardless of the subsequent distance between psychics. When this technique is learned, the adept may choose
On their own turn, any member of the gestalt may use one technique from any discipline they know. That
any power or technique known by any other member, technique no longer requires Effort to be Committed in
using the other members skill levels as necessary and any way, though other techniques that augment it may
paying any Effort cost from their own pool. This gestalt still exact a cost. Mastered Psychic Static, for example,
shares only psychic power, not thoughts or senses. At can expend an effectively unlimited amount of effort.
the end of each round in which one or more members If the technique has a duration based on Committed
have used some other members powers or abilities on Effort then it lasts until the metapsion chooses to end it
their turn of action, the metapsion must Commit Effort or is killed. This technique may only be mastered once,
for the scene or the gestalt drops and cannot be re-es- though the perfected technique may be changed with
tablished for the rest of the scene. a month of meditation and practice.

Metadimensional Friction Level-3 Impervious Pavis of Will Level-4


As a Main Action, the metapsion Commits Effort for When this technique is learned, the metapsion must
the scene to create localized MES turbulence around a choose a discipline. They then become entirely im-
visible target psychic within 200 meters. Each time the mune to unwanted powers from that discipline; they
target Commits Effort or an NPC initiates a psychic and their abilities are simply not valid targets for pur-
power, they suffer 1d8 damage per Metapsionics skill poses of that disciplines powers unless the adept choos-
level of the adept. Each time the target suffers the dam- es to be affected. By Committing Effort for the day as
age they can attempt a Mental saving throw to throw an Instant action, they can extend this immunity for a
off the effect. It lasts no longer than the rest of the scene scene to all allies within 50 meters. This technique may
at most. Only one application of this friction can affect be learned more than once, and any shared protection
a target at once. applies to all disciplines negated by the adept.
36 Precognition

Precognition
The discipline of Precognition relates to sensing the
cascade of future events and reading the achronal cha- Core Technique- Oracle
os of the metadimensional energy that ripples in the The precog gains a progressively-greater intuitive un-
psychics brain. Readings provided by Precognition derstanding of their own future. Each invocation of
tend to be focused on the psychic and what they find the Oracle technique requires a Main Action and that
interesting or important. Matters irrelevant to the seer the user Commit Effort for the day. Once triggered,
are unlikely to be noticed, even if they are of critical the adept gets a single brief vision related to the ques-
importance to those involved. More advanced tech- tion about the future that theyre asking. This vision
niques of Precognition can even influence the future, is always from their own personal vantage point and
adjusting probabilities by changing or pruning certain never reveals more than a minute of insight, though
metadimensional currents. the psychic processes it almost instantly as part of the
The future is not carved in stone. Oracles can be powers use.
falsified by present action or sheer random chance. The GM should answer the question as if the
When a reading is ambiguous or the future seems un- PC were about to perform the act or engage in the
certain, the GM should simply give the most probable investigation pertinent to the question. Thus, if the
reading for the power as their own judgment recom- adept wanted to know what pressing a button would
mends. do and the GM knows that its connected to a bomb,
Precognition is strictly future-oriented. For as- the psychic might get a vision of sudden death. If the
sorted complex reasons, the past is vastly more difficult bomb were on a time delay that extended past the time
to observe with psionic powers, and postcognition is horizon of the oracle, however, the psychic might just
generally considered impossible. see a vision of herself waiting patiently, with nothing
Precogs are generally viewed with considerable happening.
unease by the general population. Theyre not as widely Visions should relate to actions and events, not
feared as telepaths, but the uncanny powers of foresight abstract facts. Oracle couldnt tell a psychic who the
they possess can make them difficult company. They crime boss of a slum neighborhood is, for example, but
can earn very substantial sums of money from those it could give a vision of the psychic caught in the next
desperate to learn of some future outcome, but the bloody riot and the gang boss whos directing the myri-
specificity of their visions makes it difficult for them ad thugs. It couldnt reveal the name of a security guard,
to perceive large-scale future events. but it could show the seer the impending moment that
A precog can see a city in flames or a stock market the next guard patrol will enter the area the psychic
board showing a crash, but even the most powerful plans to infiltrate. Only the most important or signifi-
cant tell if the conflagration is just a limited local disas- cant information is conveyed by the technique, even if
ter or a planet-consuming catastrophe, nor can they tell multiple events of interest might transpire during the
if the crash is a temporary pullback in the market or a time horizon.
harbinger of global depression. Many precogs have dif- Oracle can only be used on a given question or topic
ficulty dealing with this ambiguity, and some become once until the situation changes substantially or a week
fixed on personal interpretations of their visions that goes by. The maximum time horizon of the Oracle in-
may or may not play out as they have seen. creases as the adepts Precognition skill improves.
Level-0: One minute into the future.
Bending the Future Level-1: One day into the future.
Everything a precog sees is provisional. Some outcomes Level-2: One week into the future.
may be so likely as to be nigh-certain, but nothing is Level-3: Three months into the future.
truly, absolutely destined. Vigorous activity or simple Level-4: One year into the future.
unexpected chance can skew future outcomes.
This effect is one reason why choirs of precogs
Intuitive Response Level-1
have not been more widely exploited by planetary
governments. The clearer and more detailed a future As an Instant action, the precog can Commit Effort for
outcome becomes, the simpler it is to find the crucial the scene just before they roll initiative. Their initia-
events that can be changed to derail it. The more in- tive score is treated as one better than anyone elses
tense the precognitive focus toward a future event, involved in the scene. If another participant has this
the more fluid it becomes as fresh readings take into power or some other ability that grants automatic ini-
account the countermoves that others have made. Ru- tiative success, roll initiative normally to determine
mors persist of ancient pretech augmentation hardware which of them goes first, and then the rest of the com-
that can fix future outcomes, but most governments batants act. This ability cannot be used if the precog
lack the resources to even consider such extravagance. has been surprised.
Precognition 37

Sense the Need Level-1 Cursed Luck Level-3


At some point in the recent past, the psychic had a Negative probabilities are woven tightly around a vis-
vague but intense premonition that a particular object ible animate target, including robots and animals but
would be needed. By triggering this power as an Instant not including vehicles. Triggering this technique re-
action and Committing Effort for the day, the psychic quires a Main Action and Committing Effort for the
can retroactively declare that they brought along any scene. The target must roll any attack rolls, damage
one object that they could have reasonably acquired rolls, skill checks, and saving throws twice and take the
and carried to this point. This object must be plausible worst result each time. Any attempts to hit the target
given recent events; if the psychic has just been strip- or damage dice rolled against it may be rolled twice and
searched, very few objects could reasonably have been the better result taken. Intelligent targets can make a
kept, while a psychic whos just passed through a weap- Mental saving throw at the end of each round to throw
ons check couldnt still have a loaded laser pistol. off the effect; this save is not penalized by the power.

Terminal Reflection Level-1 Forced Outcome Level-3


The psychics Oracle power automatically triggers as an Through careful manipulation of probability, the adept
Instant action moments before some unexpected dan- can influence random physical events in their vicinity.
ger or ambush, giving the precog a brief vision of the Triggering this technique requires a Main Action and
impending hazard. This warning comes just in time to Committing Effort for the scene. Any simple, random
avoid springing a trap or to negate combat surprise for mechanical outcome can be completely controlled for
the precog and their companions. If the psychic does the scene, such as a roulette wheel or the order of a
not immediately Commit Effort for the day, this sense deck of shuffled cards. Any other physical event in the
goes numb and this technique cannot be used for the area that seems not-entirely-implausible may be made
rest of the day. to occur by this technique, provided it doesnt involve
more than a few objects and doesnt require human
Alternate Outcome Level-2 involvement. The GM decides what random events are
The precog can sense impending failure and attempt and are not adequately possible. Anything more than
to salvage the action. As an Instant action, the precog one unusual coincidence or chance per scene is likely
can target a visible ally or their own self and Commit impossible to produce.
Effort for the day to allow the target to reroll a failed
hit roll, saving throw, or skill check, taking the better Not My Time Level-4
of the two rolls. This power disrupts delicate lines of The precog instinctively wrenches the lines of proba-
probability, however, and cannot be used on any given bility away from futures in which they are about to die.
target more than once a day. This technique triggers automatically when the pre-
cog is about to die, provided they can Commit Effort
Destinys Shield Level-2 for the day. On triggering, random events somehow
The precog observes an incoming injury and tries to conspire to leave the precog alive, even if outrageous
find an alternate future in which the attack misses. As coincidences and ridiculous luck are required. Provided
an Instant action, the precog can Commit Effort for the precog doesnt intentionally thrust herself back into
the day to force an attacker to reroll a successful hit danger, their life is secured for the next few minutes at
roll. This technique only works on attacks against the least, though theres no guarantee the psychic will sur-
psychics person, not against attacks aimed at a vehicle vive intact in mind or body. This technique can trigger
theyre occupying or harm that doesnt involve an at- no more often than once per week.
tack roll. If the rerolled attack still hits, however, the
damage done is maximized. This technique can be used Prophecy Level-4
only once per incoming attack. The power of the precog extends to dictating future
events that directly involve them. As a Main Action,
Anguished Vision Level-3 the precognitive PC may make one prediction involv-
The adepts precognition is sophisticated enough to ing their personal future or future condition within
clearly foresee several seconds into the future. As an the next year. Provided they take reasonable measures
Instant action, the psychic may Commit Effort for the to enable this prediction, that no direct resistance is
day and declare that what they have just done or seen mounted by an enemy, and that the prediction doesnt
is a vision of the immediate future. Time rolls back seem highly improbable to the GM, it will come to pass.
to the start of the initiative count in a combat turn, The adept must Commit Effort when this power is used,
or six seconds earlier if out of combat. Nothing that and the Effort remains Committed until the prophecy
happened during that round has really come to pass yet. comes to pass or is abandoned. This ability cannot be
This ability is tremendously draining, and can be used more than once per month and only one prophecy
used only once per day. may be active at a time.
38 Telekinesis

Telekinesis
Telekinetic abilities are something of a mixed bless-
ing to those psychics who have them. While they Kinetic Transversal Level-1
are among the least feared and distrusted of psychic The adept may Commit Effort as an On Turn action to
powers, they also produce effects that are not nearly move freely over vertical or overhanging surfaces as if
so widely-demanded as biopsionic healing or metap- they were flat ground, crossing any solid surface strong
sionic brainguarding. A telekinetic must be canny and enough to bear five kilos of weight. They can also move
creative to get the most from their abilities. over liquids at their full movement rate. This move-
Telekinetic powers are strong but somewhat im- ment ability lasts as long as the Effort is committed.
precise. The force they generate is usually invisible,
though a psychic can allow a visible glow if desired, and Pressure Field Level-1
the source of the telekinetic manipulation is not obvi- As an Instant action, the adept can manifest a protective
ous to ordinary senses. Objects being held or worn by force skin around their person equivalent to a vacc suit,
a mobile creature cannot normally be manipulated by maintaining pressure and temperature even in hard
telekinesis, nor can unwilling intelligent targets be di- vacuum conditions. They can ignore temperatures at
rectly manipulated. Machines, including non-sentient a range of plus or minus 100 degrees Celsius and auto-
robots, can be affected as any other inanimate object, matically pressurize thin atmospheres for breathability,
however. The psychic cannot use this discipline to lift or filter particulates or airborne toxins. By Committing
their own person without special techniques. Effort for the scene, they can shield up to six comrades.
Some techniques refer to a physical attack or This lasts until the user reclaims the Effort.
physical damage. This means a straightforward kinetic
impact: bullets, punches, collisions, falls, compressions, Telekinetic Armory Level-1
or the like. Energy attacks are not included. The adept may Commit Effort as an On Turn action to
create both weapons and armor out of telekinetic force.
Core Technique- Telekinetic Manipulation These weapons are treated as tech level 4 and act as a
The adept may Commit Effort for the scene as a Main rifle or any advanced melee weapon. Attack rolls can
Action to direct telekinetic force toward an object or use either Dexterity, Wisdom, or Constitution modifi-
person within unaided visual range or with tactile ers, and may use the Telekinesis skill as the combat skill.
contact with the psychic. This force isnt responsive Armor may be created as part of this power, grant-
enough to be effective as a weapon without further ing the psychic a base Armor Class equal to 15 plus their
refinement of technique, and cannot cause damage to Telekinesis skill level. This armor does not stack with
living or mobile targets. If used to crush or harm im- conventional armor, but Dexterity or shields modify
mobile unliving objects, it does 1d6 damage per skill it as usual. The gear continues to exist as long as the
level of the psychic per round of focus. Objects move at psychic chooses to leave the Effort committed, and they
20 meters per round when moved telekinetically. may be invisible or visible at the psychics discretion.
A telekinetic force can be maintained over multi-
ple rounds without expending further actions, such as Impact Sump Level-2
holding a metal platform in place under a group of al- The adept may Commit Effort for the day as an Instant
lies, but the psychic cannot again activate this technique action to negate a single instance of physical damage.
on a second object until they release the first. This ability is too taxing to be used more than once per
Level-0: The psychic can exert force as if with one hand day, but as an Instant action, it can be triggered even
and their own strength. after damage is rolled.
Level-1: The psychic can manipulate objects as if with
both hands and can lift up to two hundred kilo- Slip Field Level-2
grams with this ability. As a Main Action, the psychic Commits Effort for the
Level-2: The psychic can lift or manipulate up to four scene and decreases the friction at a point in sight. Up
hundred kilograms and smash a human-sized to ten meters in diameter is affected, making it difficult
hole in structures of light wooden construction for enemies to move from their current position. All
or lighter as a Main Action. chosen targets must make an Evasion saving throw or
Level-3: The psychic can manipulate up to eight hun- fall prone, becoming unable to stand up or move more
dred kilograms and can affect as many individual than a meter per Move action taken. If used against a
objects at once as they have Telekinesis skill levels. ground vehicle, the driver must make a Dex/Pilot skill
Level-4: The psychic can manipulate up to a metric ton check at a difficulty of 8 plus the adepts Telekinesis
and can smash human-sized holes in TL4-con- skill or go out of control, driving directly forward for
structed exterior walls, light stone walls, or similar a round and crashing into any obstacles. Targets who
barriers as a Main Action. save are immune to this technique for the scene.
Telekinesis 39

Telekinetic Expertise Level-2 Force Puppetry Level-4


The adept has become familiar enough with the ma- As a Main Action, the telekinetic can Commit Effort for
nipulation of telekinetic force that they may now use the day to suborn a visible targets mobility, whether
Telekinetic Manipulation without Committing Effort. robotic, vehicular, or human, provided its no larger
than a ground car. A sapient victim can make a Men-
Thermokinesis Level-2 tal saving throw to resist the psychic onslaught; on a
Telekinetic power involves kinetic energy, but a suf- failure, they lose control of their physical actions. If not
ficiently sophisticated grip on motion can be used to piloted by the telekinetic, the target remains motionless
agitate the molecules of an inanimate object and cause or continues on its current direction of travel. If the
it to melt or burst into flame. Similar focus can chill or telekinetic spends a Main Action to control them, they
freeze such substances. can be made to perform any physical action that is not
Applying Thermokinesis to a target requires that directly suicidal, using the psychics skill levels and hit
the adept Commit Effort for the scene as a Main Action. bonus for any attacks or skill checks they might make.
Thermokinesis cannot affect objects larger than the adept The puppetry lasts until the end of the scene, until the
could lift with their Telekinetic Manipulation. target leaves the psychics sight, or until a sapient target
As with other telekinetic powers, this ability does believes that their action or inaction is about to get
not work on objects being held or used by intelligent them killed. The psychics control is fine enough to
creatures. Non-sentient robots or other objects with hit achieve even very delicate physical motions, but it is
points take 1d12 damage per level of Telekinesis skill not good enough to control the targets speech, though
each time this technique is applied to them. it can keep them silent.

Tangible Force Construct Level-3 Telekinetic Flight Level-4


Once per turn, as an On Turn action, the psychic can As an Instant action, the telekinetic can Commit Effort
Commit Effort for the scene to create a telekinetic force to begin flying, and may extend this effect to up to a
construct at a visible point, provided it can fit within half-dozen unresisting, human-sized allies within 30
a three-meter cube. The force construct can be shaped meters. While flying, the psychic can move at twice
in any way the psychic wishes, and can remain fixed in their normal movement rate in any direction They can
its location without external supports if desired. It is plunge earthward at up to terminal velocity without
as sturdy as a TL4 construction and may be visible or harm, and even orbital insertions are survivable with
invisible at the adepts choice. The construct lasts until this power if a vacc suit is available or the Pressure Field
the end of the scene, until the psychic dispels it, or until technique is used. Allies must end their turns within 30
it is smashed with 20 points of damage against AC 15. meters of the psychic to maintain this flight but control
their own motion. As an Instant, this power may be
Telekinetic Ram Level-3 triggered in time to negate falling damage. The flight
As a Main Action, the psychic can Commit Effort for lasts for as long as the Effort remains Committed.
the scene to target a tremendous, uncontrolled burst of
force at a single target within sight. This burst requires
some time to detonate, however, and will only go off
Bot Scrapping
at the end of the next round. Targets of this technique While telekinetic powers cant normally be used to
are aware of an oppressive, electrical tingling in the air harm an intelligent target without a special tech-
and are apt to instinctively move; this technique is thus nique, non-sentient robots have no such protec-
generally useless against any target that is not entirely tion. A VI or True AI can create enough metad-
immobile, as any movement of a chosen target disrupts imensional static with their cognition to prevent
the ram. Once the ram detonates, however, it is suffi- harm from telekinesis, but ordinary guard bots,
cient to destroy any immobile civilian vehicle, create a servitor droids, or warbots are extremely suscep-
five-meter hole in anything short of hardened military tible to telekinetic destruction.
fortifications, or inflict 5d12 damage on anything else In most cases, this is as simple a matter as
as if it were struck by a Heavy weapon. telekinetically lifting and then dropping the bot. A
psychic can destroy as many such bots in a round
Reactive Telekinesis Level-3 as they can telekinetically manipulate; one for
As an Instant action, the psychic can Commit Effort for most, or three or four at higher skill levels. This
the scene whenever an assailant misses them with a also assumes the psychic can lift the bots weight.
physical attack. The attack is then reflected back against Some military bots may be resilient enough
the assailant, who must reroll the attack against their to handle this battering, suffering 1d10 damage
own person twice. If either roll hits, the assailant suf- per level of Telekinesis skill the psychic possesses.
fers damage from their own attack. If both rolls hit, the Most have no such chance of survival.
damage is the maximum possible.
40 Telepathy

Telepathy
There is no psychic power more threatening and dis-
turbing to normal humanity than that of telepathy. Core Technique- Telepathic Contact
The prospect of having ones innermost thoughts and The telepath can obtain a progressively-deeper under-
secrets pried out by imperceptible means is deeply trou- standing of a sentient targets thoughts. The target must
bling to most men and women, and telepaths are often be visible or otherwise perceptible to the telepaths un-
given a wide berth by others simply for fear of what aided senses. Opening a contact requires the telepath to
private thoughts they might sift out. Commit Effort for the day as a Main Action, and the
Some worlds that are otherwise accepting of psy- contact lasts for a scene at most unless augmented by
chic powers go so far as to ban known telepaths and other techniques.
forbid the teaching of the discipline within their terri- The depth of contact that can be made depends on
tory. Even those few that do, however, can rarely re- the psychics Telepathy skill. A single contact can use
sist the urge to maintain some government-approved any or all of the effects permitted to a telepath of the
telepathic training program for candidates selected for users skill level. Basic forms of contact do not allow for
their political trustworthiness or powerful backers. a saving throw, though more advanced probes allow
The benefits of having an imperceptible mental spy the target to make a Mental saving throw to resist. On
are too great for most states to forgo. a successful save, no form of this technique that allows
Most worlds do not ban telepaths. On these plan- a save can be used on them for the rest of the scene.
ets, the sheer rarity of psychic powers and the limited Level-0: Observe emotional states in a target. Intense
chance that any one individual might be unlawfully emotions provide a single word or image related
scanned outweigh any fear of unchecked telepathic in- to the focus of the feelings.
trusion. Telepathic testimony is almost never accepted Level-1: A shallow gestalt with the targets language cen-
in a court of law, however, outside of the most psy- ters allows the telepath to understand any form of
chic-centered societies. communication made by the target. If the psychic
Almost all worlds forbid the uninvited use of tele- has the requisite body parts to speak the targets
pathic powers on another person. The crime is very dif- language, they can communicate with it in turn.
ficult to prove, but usually comes with harsh penalties. Level-2: The psychics awareness of the targets surface
Open admission of an illicit scan is generally considered cognition is sophisticated enough to read their
proof, so PC telepaths are advised to be discreet. current thoughts, though it cant pick up memo-
Telepathic shielding devices and substances do ries or non-obvious connections. The target gets
exist in very limited amounts. Even during the height a Mental saving throw to resist this.
of the Mandate, such resources were never abundant. Level-3: The psychic can drill down into the targets
Nowadays, only heads of state and similar elite per- memory to get a one or two-sentence answer to
sonages might expect to shelter behind psionics-proof any single question they ask, or receive a single
walls or have devices to alert them to telepathic tam- answering vision of the targets recollections. The
pering. Even then, many worlds will simply lack the target can attempt a Mental saving throw to resist
pretech artifacts to erect such protection, even for their this power, and whether or not it succeeds the
most important members. contact is automatically ended. It can be re-estab-
lished, but only by activating this technique again.
Using and Detecting Telepathy Level-4: The psychic instantly gets a full and nuanced
Telepathy operates at a very basic level of mental con- awareness of everything the target can remember
tact, and is not impeded by a lack of shared languag- about a particular topic. The target can attempt
es. While the basic forms of telepathy only function a Mental saving throw to resist this power, and
on intelligent creatures, aliens or transhumans with whether or not it succeeds the contact is automat-
human-like cognition can be affected. VIs, True AIs, ically ended afterwards. It can be re-established,
and other non-biological intelligences are not normally but only by activating this technique again.
subject to Telepathy techniques.
Telepathy is a subtle ability, and targets of its tech- Facile Mind Level-1
nique will not normally be aware of it. Only those with The telepath is practiced at opening a Telepathic Contact,
metapsionic expertise or Telepathy-0 skill or greater and need only Commit Effort for the scene to do so, in-
can tell when theyve been targeted by Telepathy. Oth- stead of Committing Effort for the day. If contacting an
ers may suspect this influence, particularly if theyre ally who has practiced the process with the psychic for
aware of the existence of psychics and have just done at least a week, opening the contact normally requires
something utterly inexplicable to their own reasoning. no Effort at all. In both cases, if the telepath chooses to
Certain extremely rare TL5 devices can also alert a tar- Commit Effort for the day, they can open a Telepathic
get to the presence of telepathic tampering. Contact as an Instant action rather than a Main Action.
Telepathy 41

Transmit Thought Level-1 Telepathic Control


The telepath can send thoughts and images over a Tele- Telepathy is not a discipline well-suited to direct
pathic Contact, allowing two-way communication with mental control of other beings. While a telepath
a willing target as an Instant action when desired. can impart urges and thoughts to a target, they
lack the tools to assume direct control of a victims
Far Thought Level-2 physical actions. The best they can do is implant
Once a telepath has made a Telepathic Contact with a ideas in the targets head and try to hijack the
target, they can thereafter activate the technique when- short-term cognition of the victim.
ever that target is within 100 kilometers, whether or Persistent legends speak of more direct dis-
not the psychic knows where they are. At Telepathy-3 ciplines practiced during the Mandates heyday.
the range increases to 1,000 kilometers, and at Telepa- These arts supposedly allowed a psychic to take
thy-4 it extends over an entire planet and up to orbital direct control of a subjects physical form, manip-
distances. This distant connection is tenuous, however, ulating it with effortless ease to perform whatever
and the psychic cannot use any technique through it acts the psychic desired. Unlike telepathy, how-
that would allow the target a saving throw to resist. ever, these disciplines were unable to touch the
cognitive centers of a target or read their mental
Suppress Cognition Level-2 activity. If any such disciplines ever existed, their
Through intense focus, the telepath can make the target possessors are doubtless very discreet with them.
of a Telepathic Contact simply not think about some-
thing, whether thats the presence of the telepath, the
possibility of committing violence, the absence of im- Memory Editing Level-4
portant documentation, or any other single potential
action or one specific person. This technique requires The telepath can make simple edits to the memory of
the psychic to Commit Effort for the scene as a Main a target currently linked by a Telepathic Contact. Events
Action. The target gets a Mental saving throw to resist of no more than 24 hours in duration can be erased
this power and become immune to it for the scene. If from memory, conversations can be created or changed,
failed, the thought remains unthinkable for the rest of new events can be added to a day, or other similar al-
the scene unless the target perceives physical danger or terations made. The psychic can make these changes
a traumatic threat to something they prize highly. In as a Main Action by Committing Effort for the day. If
that case, the block instantly dissolves and cannot be the psychic doesnt have a good understanding of the
re-established during the scene. Once the effect ends, memories theyre changing, such as might be granted
the target will remain oblivious to their temporary by the level-4 degree of Telepathic Contact, the edits they
fugue unless it is brought to their attention somehow. make may not fit well. The target gets a Mental saving
throw to resist editing for the rest of the scene, but on
Reflex Response Level-3 a failure, they will not notice the changed memories
As a Main Action, the telepath can Commit Effort for until given a reason to recollect them.
the day to force a sudden, irrational impulse into the
target of a Telepathic Contact. The target may make a Unity of Thought Level-4
Mental saving throw to resist; on a failure, they will The telepath becomes exceptionally skilled at weaving
use their next available action to carry out the impulse together multiple allied minds. When they establish a
to the best of their ability. This impulse cannot be Telepathic Contact with a willing ally they may bind up to
self-injurious or harmful to a loved one, but it can be six willing participants into the same contact without
foolish, reckless, or harmful to others. The target may further Effort. This multi-person link is relatively shal-
not understand why they have done the action, but will low, and allows only the Instant exchange of thoughts,
usually attempt to rationalize it as their choice. images, and sensory impressions. While under its ef-
fect, every participant knows the exact location and
Telepathic Assault Level-3 condition of all others, and uses the best Initiative roll
The telepath Commits Effort for the day as a Main of any of them if combat commences. At the table, up
Action to force a wave of metadimensional energy to five minutes of discussion and coordination among
through the brain of a Telepathic Contact target. The the players can be arranged each round without incur-
assault does 6d6 damage, or 9d6 damage if the telepath ring delays for the PCs. Every combat turn, one gestalt
has Telepathy-4 skill. The target may make a Mental member of the psychics choice gets an extra round of
saving throw to halve the damage. This assault cannot action to represent the benefits of the perfect coordina-
kill a target, but can knock them unconscious for an tion of the group. The psychic cannot gain this bonus
hour if theyre reduced to zero hit points, after which round himself. The telepathic link lasts as long as the
they wake up with one hit point. A victim cannot be psychic initiates no new Telepathic Contact, and it has a
targeted by an assault more than once per scene. range that extends to any point within a solar system.
42 Teleportation

Teleportation
Teleporters do not provoke the kind of persistent
worry that telepaths induce in most normals, but their Core Technique- Personal Apportation
particular gifts cause a more physical concern. An ex- The teleporter can translocate to another location they
perienced teleporter can reach or see into any location have either occupied before or can see with their unaid-
theyve ever been; security officials dont just need to ed vision. Locations are fixed in reference to the nearest
make sure that no teleporter is in a restricted area, but major gravity well. For example, it is not possible to
that theyve never been there before at any time. Access teleport to the cockpit of a distant moving vehicle they
into the most important areas is carefully filtered to once occupied, but they can teleport to another point
ensure that no outside teleporter ever gets a chance to on a planets surface even though the planet has since
see a location they might suddenly appear in several moved far through the stellar void.
months or years later. The core technique allows the teleporter to move
Most governments with access to trained psychics himself and any mass he is able to carry with his own
will have at least a few expert teleporters on hand to natural strength. Resisting targets cannot be carried
provide untraceable communications links and super- along, and unresisting ones must be touched. A tele-
lative infiltrators. Despite their many advantages in in- porter can leave any clothing, shackles, adhesions, or
trusion and evasion, however, a teleporter needs the other matter behind when he teleports, but he cannot
skills to actually get into a restricted area before they leave behind matter that has been inserted into his
can take advantage of a quick escape. Its not unknown body, such as cybernetics or shrapnel. Matter cannot
for teleporters to be paired with more conventional be partially left behind.
burglars who supply the security-defeating skills and A teleporter will instinctively abort any apporta-
information-gathering talents that a professional psy- tion that would leave him embedded in a solid object
chic doesnt always have the time to cultivate. or in an environment of imminent physical harm. Any
The criminal applications of teleportation are ob- Committed Effort on such aborted jumps is wasted, as
vious, as is its utility in surveillance. Some bold tele- is any action spent triggering the power.
porters make excellent money as thieves or spies for The maximum range of Personal Apportation de-
whatever employer can afford their exorbitant fees. pends on the teleporters skill level. Teleporting with
The price for their services is invariably high, not only Personal Apportation counts as a Main Action and re-
due to the rarity of experienced teleporters, but due to quires that the psychic Commit Effort for the scene.
the consequences of arrest. Level-0: The psychic can teleport up to 10 meters.
As tempting as the criminal path can be for many Level-1: The psychic can teleport up to 100 meters.
teleporters, most are dissuaded by the penalties. Very Level-2: The psychic can teleport up to 10 kilometers.
few worlds have prison facilities that are in any way de- Level-3: The psychic can teleport up to 1,000 kilometers.
signed to cope with teleporting inmates. On advanced Level-4: The psychic can teleport anywhere on a plan-
worlds, this means that criminal teleporters are often ets surface or near orbit.
implanted with surgical bombs keyed to explode if they
leave a restricted area or stop receiving a specific signal
from a government transmitter. On primitive worlds, Proficient Apportation Level-1
this means that criminal teleporters face summary exe- Personal Apportation now counts as a Move action,
cution for any crime more serious than a misdemeanor. though it still can be performed only once per round.
Some devices can be used to defeat teleporters, Apportations of 10 meters or less no longer require
creating a curdled patch of metadimensional space Effort to be Committed, though any augments to the
that is impossible to enter or leave via teleportation. technique must still be paid for normally.
These ancient pretech artifacts are invariably ridicu-
lously expensive in the unlikely case that a planetary
Spatial Awareness Level-1
government allows them to remain in private hands at
all, and only the most important figures of an advanced The psychic may Commit Effort as an On Turn ac-
world will have any access to teleporter-sealed safe tion to gain an intuitive 360-degree awareness of their
zones. Many worlds have no access to such devices at physical surroundings. The sense is roughly equivalent
all, with even princes and potentates left to keep a wary to sight out to 100 meters, though it cannot read text
eye on teleporting psychics. A metapsion brainguard is or distinguish colors. It is blocked by solid objects but
the usual low-tech answer to psychic threats, if such an is unimpeded by darkness, mist, blinding light, holo-
expensive mercenary can be hired on the world. grams, or optical illusions. The sense lasts as long as the
Effort remains Committed to the technique.
Teleportation 43

Burdened Apportation Level-2 Rift Reduplication Level-3


The psychic can carry willing companions with them Expert teleporters can be infuriatingly difficult to pin
when using Personal Apportation. Up to three hu- down. By Committing an additional Effort for the day
man-sized companions and their man-portable gear as an Instant action, the adept can use Personal Apporta-
may be carried per skill level in Teleportation. Allies tion as an On Turn action, even if theyve already used it
must be within 3 meters of the teleporter to be carried once this round. Apporting itself costs whatever Effort
along. Ordinary inert matter cannot be carried along it normally would, in addition to any techniques that
unless the psychic is touching it or its being carried by augment it. Rift Reduplication can only be triggered once
an ally affected by this power. If carrying inert mass, up per round.
to two hundred kilos of objects can be carried per skill If the adept uses their powers to teleport into a
level. Using this technique increases the Effort cost of location, perform an action, and then use Rift Redupli-
Personal Apportation, requiring that an extra point of cation to teleport back out, onlookers in the area will
Effort be Committed for the day. not have time to react to their action or attack the adept
unless the onlookers have held their action explicitly
to counter the psychic. Enemies who hold their action
Perceptive Dislocation Level-2
this way waste it entirely if the psychic does not give
Commit Effort for the day to sense any location the them a chance to attack or otherwise interfere. Such a
psychic could teleport to. The psychic perceives the lightning strike may be surprising to onlookers, but it
location as if there, lasting for fifteen minutes at most. doesnt allow enough preparation time to count as an
Execution Attack as described on page 52.

Spatial Synchrony Mandala Level-2


The psychic imprints a particular object or person on Deep Intrusion Level-4
their psionic awareness. Provided the object is relative- The adept can use Personal Apportation to blind-teleport
ly intact and in range of their Personal Apportation, the into a building, structure, vehicle, or spaceship visible
psychic always knows its exact location and can teleport to them, including spaceships close enough to engage
to within three meters of it with Personal Apportation in conventional ship-to-ship combat. They intuitively
even if it has moved from its original location. Im- seek out a space large enough to hold them and without
printing an object requires an hours meditation with immediate environmental hazards, but cannot control
it, and only one object can be imprinted at a time. If their precise destination. Using this technique in con-
imprinting on a person, the target must be willing and junction with Personal Apportation is very draining to
cooperative to make the imprint. Objects must be at the psychic, and requires that they Commit an addi-
least one kilogram in mass to be effectively tracked. tional Effort point for the day.

Effortless Apportation Level-3 Offensive Apportation Level-4


The psychic does not need to Commit Effort to use The psychic can use Personal Apportation as a Main Ac-
Personal Apportation. If the technique is augmented by tion to teleport an unwilling target, provided the user
other techniques that come with their own extra or in- can make physical contact with them. Contact with an
creased cost, however, this extra cost must still be paid. unsuspecting or incapacitated target is automatic, while
touching a resisting enemy requires a Punch hit roll
with a bonus equal to the psychics Teleportation skill.
Stutterjump Level-3 If the psychic does not use the Burdened Apportation
The psychic can instinctively micro-teleport away from technique then only the target is teleported; otherwise
incoming danger. As an On Turn action they may the user may go along with them. The psychic cannot
Commit Effort to begin shifting their spatial position teleport a target to any location they could not tele-
away from attacks, gaining a base Armor Class of 20 port to, including locations of imminent environmen-
so long as the Effort remains Committed. This Armor tal danger, such as high in the air, into a windowless
Class is not modified by armor, shields, or Dexterity tomb, or into the middle of a sea. A conscious, resist-
modifiers, and the micro-jumps do not significantly ing target can make a Mental saving throw to forcibly
move the psychic from their current location. While abort the teleportation, rolling at a penalty equal to
Stutterjump is active, as an Instant action the adept may the psychics Teleportation skill. Use of this technique
Commit Effort for the day to negate a successful hit by adds to the cost of Personal Apportation, requiring the
a weapon attack, even after damage has been rolled. psychic Commit an additional point of Effort for the
This reflexive defensive jump may be used only once day whether the touch hits or not.
per day and leaves the psychic just outside the radius
of explosions or other area-effect attacks.
SYSTEMS
Even the most capable interstellar adventurer some- gain more hit points, but theres no PC that can laugh
times encounters a situation where the outcome is by off a dozen combat infantrymen with mag rifles and a
no means certain. When an alien assassin thrusts a will to use them. Dont assume your character is going
blade at an unguarded back, or the ship threatens to to survive an experience just because theyre a PC.
careen out of control in a gas giants upper atmosphere,
or when the hero has been critically injured and lies Using the Systems
bleeding on a cavern floor, how do you tell whats going Stars Without Number is built to support a sandbox
to happen next? This chapter provides you with certain gaming experience, and the systems in this chapter
basic systems you can use to resolve these questions. are part of that. By default, theyre meant to be fair,
understandable, and flexible enough to be applied to
The Basic Mechanics many situations. Theyre not meant to especially fa-
The three primary systems that most heroes are go- vor the PCs, however, or to give them ways to bypass
ing to interact with most often are skill checks, sav- the results of some poor decision or unlucky moment.
ing throws, and combat rounds. Every player and GM There is no narrative currency the player can spend
ought to read those sections and understand the basic to avert disaster. This is not the only way a group can
mechanisms involved, because theyre going to be see- play the game, but it is intentionally the default mode.
ing a lot of them in their star-faring adventures. Its not that these systems are perfect, but that
Skill checks tell you whether or not your hero suc- they are an unbiased third party to your gaming ses-
ceeds at a particular feat of expertise or natural com- sion. When the GM calls for a skill check, or rolls a hit
petence. Whenever its uncertain whether or not your roll for an alien warlords chainaxe, he honestly doesnt
hero can manage a feat, your GM might call for a skill know whats going to happen. His judgment might ap-
check. Failure at the roll means that your hero either ply bonuses or penalties to the dice, or he might choose
botched it outright, succeeded in a way that was sin- to tweak the system to fit the immediate situation, but
gularly unhelpful, or was foiled by some unexpected ultimately the dice are resolving the situation. This is
outside influence. important for a sandbox game, because the dice are as
Saving throws tell you whether or not your hero fair as they are merciless.
evades some immediate peril. If you need to know This fairness adds surprise and interest to a nights
whether or not the alien insects poison overwhelms gaming. Even the GM isnt completely certain whats
you, or if you can dive away from the grenade before going to happen when the PCs forge ahead, and this
it explodes, or if the villainous psychics mind-reading surprise and novelty help keep the GM interested in
powers can pry out your secrets, you make a saving events, and not just a programmatic maestro for pre-
throw. The GM will tell you when you should be mak- set situations and outcomes. Every gaming session is
ing one. a chance for something unexpected to boil out of a
Combat rounds tell you whether or not your hero chance throw of the dice, whether that happens when
has shot, stabbed, exploded, maimed, punched, or oth- the PCs catastrophically botch their attempt to defuse
erwise ventilated their foe, and whether the foe has a nuclear fission bomb or when that alien warlord just
managed to do the same to them. Combat in Stars happens to catch a ten-kilo demolitions charge with
Without Number is very dangerous, especially to novice his chestplate. Even when cruel dice fell a heroic PC,
adventurers and ordinary NPCs. One thug with a pistol that very degree of danger helps make the rest of the
and a steady hand can kill most newly-minted heroes partys survival more meaningful. They lived because
with a single well-aimed bullet, and most normal men they made good choices and had a bare minimum of
and women have even less of a chance against lethal luck, not because they were the designated heroes.
violence. Warrior heroes and others with a specific tal- Not all groups will want to play the game this way,
ent for combat are more durable against these martial however, and that too is perfectly acceptable. Some
perils, but even they have to respect the threat of a mob groups do want to let Fate weigh in on their side, and
of angry spearmen or a sniper rifles crosshairs. let death and disaster have to get through a little more
The combat section is a particularly important narrative armor first. A GM running a game like this
read if your own gaming history has lent itself more can often produce this effect without the need for ex-
towards games that have very sturdy protagonists or plicitly changing die rolls or introducing destiny chips,
narratively-shielded player characters. A first-level simply by deciding on gentler outcomes for failures,
Warrior in Stars Without Number is lethally dangerous minimizing murder-obsessed enemies, and explicitly
to an ordinary street thug or faceless enemy minion, arranging escape routes for overmatched PCs. This
but three or four mooks with street-built slugthrowers game belongs to you and your group, and you should
are likely to put that budding hero down hard. More run it the way you want it to be run.
experienced PCs gain a larger margin of safety as they
46 Systems

Scenes and Durations


Many psychic abilities and other powers have durations nings play where most of the time isnt tracked, only
expressed in scenes. A scene is just a shorthand concept marking scenes for important negotiations, gunfire, or
for a particular action sequence or exertion on the part time-critical feats of skill.
of the PCs. A single combat encounter is a scene, as is Some powers are limited to being used only so
the infiltration of a building, the ascent of a radioactive many times in a given scene, or require Effort expen-
mountainside, or a tense meeting with an alien over- ditures that only come back at the end of the scene.
lords cybernetic representative. Most scenes dont last Outside of situations where close time-tracking is im-
for longer than fifteen minutes or a single contiguous portant, you can assume that these powers can be used
chunk of action, but the maximum duration is up to or that the Effort comes back about once every fifteen
the GMs discretion. Its quite possible to have an eve- minutes, assuming the PC has intervals for rest.

Saving Throws
There are times when misfortune or unpredictable per- Your characters saving throw scores start at 15,
il befalls a hero. Only luck or their own natural har- and decrease by one point each time you advance a
diness can save them from disaster, and to do so they level. Each saving throw is modified by the best mod-
must make a saving throw. ifier of two different attributes: Physical by the better
Saving throws come in three kinds. Physical saves of Strength or Constitution, Evasion by the better of
relate to challenges of physical endurance such as poi- Dexterity or Intelligence, and Mental by the better of
sons, diseases, radiation, or dire exhaustion. Evasion Charisma or Wisdom. Thus, a first-level PC with a
saves involve dodging explosions, evading falling haz- Strength of 5 and a Constitution of 14 would have a
ards, diving back from a crumbling surface, or other- Physical save of 14.
wise exerting ones powers of speed and swift reaction. To make a save, roll 1d20 and try to equal or beat
Mental saves relate most often to psychic influences, the appropriate saving throw score. On a success, you
hallucinations, esoteric mental control technologies, evade or mitigate the peril, while on a failure it takes
and other perils that assault a heros mind or percep- full effect. A natural roll of 1 is always a failure, and a
tions. Mental saves can also be used when no other natural roll of 20 is always a success.
saving throw category seems to apply and only blind The GM decides when a saving throw is appropri-
luck and ineffable intuition can save the hero. ate. Some dangers might not allow one at all.

Poison and Peril


While cutting their way through the blue jungles +1 skill bonus to its own stealth roll. Unfortunately
of Qinglin, a luxuriant blossom of cerulean crystal for the young heroes, it rolls a 12, approaching the
catches Edens eye. The young adventuress is eager pair undetected.
to find something to make their reeking weeks in The GM rolls randomly to see which of the pair
this azure Hell worthwhile for her and her brother is closest and finds that Randall is the unlucky win-
Randall, but shes no fool, and promptly extends her ner. The dog-sized monstrosity leaps on the psychic
3.048-meter probe pole to gently joggle the bloom and stabs him with its venomous proboscis.
from a safe distance away. The GM knows that the poison of this dread
The two adventurers are so focused on their beast is enough to kill an unlucky victim in a matter
examination of the flower that they risk missing the of minutes. But did Randall receive a lethal dose? He
stealthy creep of a many-legged creature that ap- asks Randalls player to make a Physical saving throw.
proaches through the undergrowth. The GM calls The psychics Physical saving throw target is 14,
for Wis/Notice skill checks from both of the PCs. so his player reaches for a d20 and rolls, coming up
Edens Wisdom modifier of +0 and lack of the Notice with a natural 20 on the dice. A natural 20 is always
skill leave her with a -1 penalty. She rolls 2d6 and a success, even if penalties would otherwise make
gets a 6. Her brother Randall has a Wisdom modifier the roll a failure.
of +1 and Notice-0 skill, which gives him a net +1 Randall staggers under the attack, but most of
bonus on his roll, and a result of 11. the beasts poison stains his armor harmlessly. Hes
The GM decides that sneaking through the shaky, but can push through the dose he got with no
undergrowth is a sort of thing that venomous alien ill effects. Thats a good thing, because that scuttlers
hunters would be good at, so he applies the creatures egg-mate is hurrying up through the brush
Skill Checks 47

Skill Checks
Most characters are skilled, competent men and wom-
en who are perfectly capable of carrying out the ordi- When To Call for a Check
nary duties of their role. Sometimes, however, they are Skill checks should only be called for challenges that fall
faced with a situation or challenge beyond the usual outside the PCs background and common experience.
scope of their role and must make a skill check. A PC with the background of a starship pilot should
To make a skill check, roll 2d6 and add the most not be rolling skill checks to land a ship or navigate to
relevant skill level and attribute modifier. If the total is an in-system destination. As a general rule of thumb,
equal or higher than the checks difficulty, the check is a if failure at a particular task would make the PC seem
success. On a failure, the PC either cant accomplish the notably incompetent at their role in life, then they
feat at all or they achieve it at the cost of some further shouldnt have to roll a skill check for it. In addition, if
complication to the situation. The GM determines the failure or success at a check really doesnt matter in the
specific outcome of a failure. game, if it wont produce some interesting result either
If the character doesnt even have level-0 in the way, then a check shouldnt be made.
pertinent skill, they suffer a -1 penalty to the roll. In Even concept-related feats might require a skill
the case of particularly technical or esoteric skills they check, however, if the situation is especially bad or
might not even be able to attempt the skill check at all. the circumstances particularly hostile. The pilot might
Some checks might be suitable for more than have to make a Pilot skill check to land a ship if they
one skill. A javelin-throwing contest might use Exert attempt it in the middle of a man-killing sandstorm,
for being an athletic contest, or Shoot for involving a and a noble might have to make a Connect skill check
ranged weapon, or Stab for using a muscle-powered to find shelter with an aristocratic relation if theyre
thrown weapon. In such cases the PC can use the best currently wanted by the stellar tyrants guards.
applicable skill. In other situations, a skill might seem
peripherally relevant; trying to find the hidden bomb Aiding a Skill Check
in a starships engine core before it detonates might cer- Sometimes one PC will want to lend a hand to another
tainly use Notice or Fix, but a GM might also let Pilot as they attempt a difficult feat. To do this, the player
be applied, as a veteran pilot might be expected to know first describes what sort of action they are taking to
what their engine should look like. In such peripheral help their comrade. If the GM agrees that their effort
cases, the check difficulty usually increases by 2. makes sense and would be helpful, the player then rolls
a relevant skill check against the same difficulty as the
Skill Check Difficulties original check. If its a success, the other PC gets a +1
bonus on their roll. Multiple PCs can try to help, but
6 A relatively simple task that is still more than
the acting PC cant earn more than a +1 total bonus.
the PC would usually be expected to manage
The helping skill doesnt necessarily have to be the
in their regular background. Anything easier
same skill the PC is checking. If a player can think of
than this isnt worth a skill check.
a way to help a Sneak check with Talk, then so be it.
8 A significant challenge to a competent profes-
sional that theyd still succeed at more often Opposed Skill Checks
than not. Sometimes a PC wants to accomplish something that
10 Something too difficult to be expected of another character wants to prevent. Sneaking past an
anyone but a skilled expert, and even they alert guard, winning a shooting tournament, or besting
might fail. an alien in a tentacle-wrestling competition might all
be opposed skill checks.
12 Only a true master could expect to carry this In such cases, all participants roll their relevant
off with any degree of reliability. skills and the highest score wins, with ties going to
14+ Only a true master has any chance of achiev- the PC. To make the NPCs roll, check their listed skill
ing this at all, and even they will probably fail. bonus; they can add it to any skill check appropriate to
their role or profession. If the NPC has no reason to
Particularly helpful or hostile circumstances might be particularly good at the challenge, they simply roll
give a bonus or penalty to the skill check. As a general 2d6 and add nothing.
rule, extremely bad circumstances or tools would ap- In most cases, the relevant skills are obvious. A
ply up to a -2 penalty to the skill check, while a very character trying to skulk past a vigilant guard would be
good situation or the perfect set of tools might give up rolling their Dex/Sneak against the guards roll, while
to a +2 bonus to the roll. Usually, no combination of one trying to out-tentacle an alien would be rolling Str/
modifiers should add more than +2 or -2 to any given Exert. When in doubt, the GM decides which skill is
skill check. most applicable.
48 Combat

Combat
Sometimes the only reasonable response to a situation
involves drawn monoblades and heavy plasma fire. In Types of Actions
such unfortunate hours your heroes will have to en- When an actors turn comes up in the round, they may
gage in combat. perform actions. Actions are divided into four different
Combat in Stars Without Number is a lethal sort of types: Main Actions, Moves, On Turn actions, or Instant.
experience, especially for novice interstellar adventur-
ers. Even hardened Warriors can go down in a hurry Main Action One per Turn
under a withering hail of mag rifle fire or the scrap- Every actor can make one Main Action each round.
steel knives of a hiveworld gang pack. PCs should be Main Actions are those deeds that are going to absorb
very certain that the odds are in their favor before they most of the six-second round, such as attacking an en-
reach for their laser pistols, and even then, the gods of emy, bracing a door, applying first aid to a downed ally,
battle can be cruel. digging a Stowed item out of a pack, manipulating a
complex device, or some other activity that takes up
Rounds and Initiative their focus. In place of their Main Action, an actor can
Combat and other time-sensitive situations are divided take a second Move action.
up into rounds. Each round is approximately six sec-
onds, during which all participants may act. When ev- Move Action One per Turn
eryone has acted, the round ends and a new one begins. Every actor can make one Move action each round,
To determine who acts first in a round, each par- running up to 10 meters. This movement assumes that
ticipant rolls initiative. Each rolls 1d8 and adds their an actor is dodging enemies, paying attention to the
Dexterity modifier. NPCs usually have no modifier. surroundings, navigating awkward terrain, and gener-
The participants then act in order, high roll to low, ally dealing with the hazards of a battlefield. Climbing
with PCs winning ties. When everyone has had a turn a surface, swimming, or passing extremely rough ter-
to act, the sequence starts over again from the top. Ini- rain halves this movement rate. Actors cant split their
tiative is not re-rolled. Move action, such as taking part of it before using their
Optionally, the GM may choose to use group ini- Main Action and the rest afterwards.
tiative instead in their campaigns. The PC with the best An actor who wants to disengage from an oppo-
Dexterity bonus rolls for the party, and the GM rolls nent in melee must use their Main Action to perform
one die for the other NPCs. Members of the side that a Fighting Withdrawal, or else they suffer a free auto-
rolled highest may act first in whatever order they wish, matic melee attack from any foe engaged with them.
and then the next-highest side acts. While easier to There is no need to spend a Main Action disengaging
manage, it also increases the value of winning initiative, from enemies who are wielding only ranged weapons.
and can leave the heroes in dire peril if a large group While its possible to use a rifle to buttstroke someone
of foes wins the roll. or pistol-whip a near combatant, such weapons arent
Sometimes a person is surprised or ambushed. as effectively threatening as true melee weapons.
Most ambushes involve a contested Dex/Sneak roll
against a targets Wis/Notice check, with the defender On Turn Action Any Amount on Your Turn
winning ties. In other cases the surprise may be prac- An On Turn action is some fast, simple act that could
tically inevitable, such as a disguised assassin suddenly reasonably be performed while an actor is doing some-
lashing out with a monoblade in the middle of a society thing else. Dropping an object, falling prone, saying
ball. Ambush targets who fail the contested roll are sur- something, drawing a Readied item, or activating a
prised. A surprised target doesnt get to roll initiative simple device might all be On Turn actions. A PC can
until the second round of combat and can perform only perform as many On Turn actions as they want in a
Instant actions while surprised. NPCs with roles rele- round, subject to the GMs discretion.
vant to being vigilant or stealthy would gain their skill
bonus to these checks, while others would simply roll Instant Action Any Amount, Any Time
an unmodified 2d6 for the opposed check. An Instant action is special, in that it can be performed
Most PCs are not subject to surprise unless their even when its not the actors turn, or even after at-
guard is genuinely down at the moment of the ambush tacks or damage have already been rolled. Some psychic
or attack. Someone walking in a dangerous part of a powers are Instant actions, allowing the actor to use
city or picking their way through a seemingly-aban- them after they decide they dont like how the dice have
doned space station is unlikely to be astonished by the fallen. Certain combat actions are also Instant, though
sudden appearance of danger, unless the attack is so they often cost the actors Main Action for the round as
sudden and from such an unexpected quarter that even well. Any number of Instant actions can be performed
their obvious caution is insufficient. during a round.
Combat 49

Hitting an Enemy A successful attack inflicts hit point damage equal


When an actor wants to hurt a target, they need to use to the weapons damage die plus the relevant attribute
their Main Action to make an attack roll. An attack roll modifier. Thus, a hero with a +1 Dexterity modifier
represents not just one shot or swing, but the assailant firing a laser pistol that does 1d6 damage would inflict
spending their round trying to get in a good hit or a 1d6+1 hit points of damage on a hit. Skill levels do not
clean shot at the target. add to damage unless it is a Punch attack.
To make an attack roll, the assailant rolls 1d20 and Some melee weapons apply Shock, and are guaran-
adds their attack bonus, their applicable skill level, and teed to do some degree of harm to a target. A weapons
the attribute modifier most relevant to the weapon. Shock quality lists the number of points of damage it
If the total is equal or higher than the targets Armor inflicts on any target with an Armor Class equal or
Class, the attack is successful. less than the one given. Thus, a primitive knife with a
A PCs attack bonus is usually equal to half their Shock score of 1 point/AC 15 would always do at least
character level, rounded down. Characters with the 1 point of damage whenever its wielder attacks a target
Warrior class or an Adventurer with the Partial War- with AC 15 or less, whether they hit or miss.
rior class option have higher base attack bonuses. NPCs Shock damage always adds the wielders attribute
have their own attack bonus listed with their statistics, modifier and any other bonuses that might apply from
which includes any modifiers they might have. weapon mods, foci, or other advanced tech. Some ad-
A PCs skill level is their Punch, Stab, or Shoot vanced armor will always protect completely against
skill in most cases, depending on what kind of weapon primitive weapons, however, and some advanced
theyre using. In rare cases, a different skill might be weapons can ignore primitive gear, treating it as AC 10.
involved, such as Pilot for the guns of a light starfighter. A successful attack doesnt always mean a direct
If a PC doesnt even have level-0 expertise in the type physical hit. A flurry of strokes that force an enemy
of weapon theyre using, they suffer a -2 penalty on hit off-balance, graze him, frighten him, or exhaust him
rolls for unfamiliarity with it. might all drain his hit points, bringing him closer to
A PCs attribute modifier depends on the weapon. defeat without actually inflicting real physical harm.
For ranged weapons, this is usually Dexterity, while Only the last handful of hit points reflect serious bodily
smaller melee weapons might use Strength or Dexter- damage. Its up to the GM and player to decide how to
ity, and large ones might rely on Strength alone. If a describe the effects of a successful hit.
weapon has more than one attribute listed, use the best.
Hit Roll Modifiers
Sometimes it can be easier or harder to connect with
a blow depending on the combat situation. The table
below offers some suggested hit roll modifiers for com-
mon combat circumstances.

Circumstance Mod
Shooting at a distant prone foe -2
Shooting or meleeing an adjacent prone foe +2
Melee attacking while prone -4
The target is at least half behind cover -2
The target is almost completely in cover -4
Shooting from a prepared firing position +2

Finding cover is often critical in a gun battle. Gen-


erally, firing around a convenient corner or shooting
over sandbags would qualify as half cover, while fir-
ing through slits or from carefully-prepared bunkers
would allow for full cover. Melee attackers can usually
ignore cover, as they get too close for their target to
take proper advantage of it. Being prone doesnt stack
with hard cover, but sometimes the available cover is
so low that the hero has to be flat to benefit from it.
A gunman who can set up a prepared firing po-
sition can get a significant advantage. Such a position
usually requires at least five minutes of sighting and set-
ting up a rest. Most such positions provide some cover.
50 Combat

Common Actions in Combat


While a PC can do anything they might reasonably
accomplish in six seconds as their Main Action for a Club Up a Weapon Move Action
round, some choices are more common than others. A combatant can shift their grip on a Readied rifle or
Below are a list of some of the tactics or actions that pistol, using it as a crude melee weapon rather than a
come up most often in combat. ranged weapon. Rifle-sized guns used this way count
as a medium primitive weapon with no Shock score,
Make a Melee Attack Main Action and pistol-sized guns count as a small primitive weap-
The combatant attacks an enemy within melee range, on with no Shock score. Rolling maximum damage on
rolling a normal hit roll and inflicting damage on a a hit with such improvised weapons will break them.
successful hit. Most melee attacks inflict Shock damage This action can also be taken to unclub a weapon and
on a miss, if the targets Armor Class is low enough, and ready it to shoot.
no successful hit does less damage than the weapons
Shock would have done on a miss. An attackers weap- Run Move Action
on must be Readied in order to attack with it. The combatant moves their normal combat movement
rate, which is 10 meters for most humans. If theyre
Make a Ranged Attack Main Action climbing a surface, swimming, or navigating extremely
The combatant fires or throws a Readied ranged weap- rough terrain, this movement rate is halved, and they
on at a target. The combatant cant Make a Ranged might have to make an Exert skill check to achieve even
Attack with a two-handed weapon if theres a enemy that. Prone characters crab along at half this rate.
armed with a melee weapon within melee range; its
too easy for the assailant to bind up a rifle-sized gun. Fighting Withdrawal Main Action
One-handed ranged weapons and thrown weapons can The combatant disengages from any melee foes around
still be used, albeit at a -4 penalty to hit. them. They dont actually move away, but they can now
get away from their assailants without giving them a
Make a Snap Attack Instant Action free melee attack. Usually, this means the combatant
A combatant with a Ready weapon can rush their attack, uses their Move action to get clear, because if they just
sacrificing accuracy for speed. The combatant must still stand there the enemies might choose to re-engage
have their Main Action impending or available. As an them the next round.
Instant, they can sacrifice it to Make a Melee Attack or
Make a Ranged Attack against a foe in range, whether a Use a Skill Main Action
snap shot with a pistol or a quick thrust at an adjacent The combatant uses a skill that could be plausibly ap-
melee foe. This attack takes a -4 penalty to its hit roll. plied in a few seconds. An Int/Heal or Dex/Heal skill
If multiple combatants decide to make Snap Attacks at check to stabilize a wounded comrade is one such po-
the same time, they are resolved simultaneously. tential use, as is executing a pre-programmed hack,
Snap Attacks are usually made only by the desper- shouting out a stirring rallying cry to timorous NPC
ate, the undisciplined, or the elite, and the GM should allies, or anything else that might be done quickly.
rarely have NPCs employ them. Untrained hooligans
might blaze away in excitement or panic, or a gunman Ready or Stow an Item Main Action
being charged by a howling spearman might risk a shot
before he gets too close, but most combatants cant af- The combatant draws a weapon, extracts an item from
ford to take such a heavy penalty to their hit roll. Truly their backpack, digs a magazine out of a belt pouch,
skilled combatants, however, can sometimes get away or otherwise moves an object around on their person.
with such risks, particularly if they have a Warriors They can Ready an item this way or Stow it.
class ability to turn a miss into a hit.
Reload a Weapon Main Action
Total Defense Instant Action The combatant swaps a Readied power cell or magazine
As an Instant action, the combatant focuses on nothing into their weapon. Some very primitive firearms might
other than avoiding knives, gunfire, hurled crystalline require more than one action to load them, while an
spears, or other perils in the vicinity. Using Total De- archer can nock another arrow as a Move action.
fense costs the user their Main Action for the round,
and cannot be used if theyve already employed their Drop an Item Instant Action
Main Action. They become immune to Shock damage The combatant drops something theyre holding. They
for the round from melee weapons, regardless of their can do this Instantly at any time to free up their hands.
Armor Class, and gain a +2 bonus to their Armor Class
until their next turn.
Combat 51

Pick up an Item Move Action Hold An Action Move Action


The combatant can scoop an object off the floor if they By choosing to Hold An Action, the combatant can delay
have a free hand, leaving it Readied in their grip. taking the rest of their actions until later in the round,
activating them as an Instant action. Thus, a hero who
Stand Up Move Action wins initiative might use their Move action to Hold An
The combatant gets up from a prone position. Most Action. Later in the round, as an enemy rushes around
characters that have just been revived from uncon- a corner, he may Instantly elect to use his Main Action
sciousness must get up before they do much else. to Make A Ranged Attack with his readied laser rifle. If
acting in response to someone elses impending action,
Go Prone On Turn Action the held action is resolved first.
The combatant falls flat, forcing distant ranged attack-
ers to take a -2 penalty to hit them. Adjacent enemies
find you an easier target, however, gaining +2 to hit.

Examples of Murder
Yaddle and Bort, two drunken hive thugs, get in- After a month of recovery, a cocky Bort has
volved in an impromptu knife fight over a card equipped himself with a spiked walking stick, a me-
game. Yaddle wins the initiative roll, but Bort elects dium primitive weapon that is more bashy than his
to make a Snap Attack, since Yaddle is within conve- small knife. He spots the young PC Warrior gun-
nient range of Borts Readied knife. Incensed, Yaddle slinger Eliza Darrick in the grimy hive street and
also decides to make a Snap Attack, so the two re- covets her fine revolver. What better way to acquire
solve their attacks simultaneously. it than to cosh the young woman?
Bort has a hit bonus of +1. Being an NPC, he He sidles into position near her before raising
doesnt add skills or attribute modifiers; he just rolls his stick. Eliza has a considerable fund of common
1d20, adds 1 to it for his attack bonus, and applies a sense and is not subject to surprise at this turn of
-4 penalty for a Snap Attack to find the Armor Class events, given the environment. Both roll initiative
he hits. His modified roll is 11, which is enough to and Bort wins. He makes his roll of 1d20+1, no lon-
hit the unarmored Yaddle, who has an AC of 10. Bort ger rushed by a Snap Attack, and gets a 13.
rolls 1d4 for his small, primitive knife, inflicting 3 Eliza has an armored undersuit that grants her
points of damage. Again, as an NPC, he doesnt add an AC of 13, plus a bonus of +1 for her Dexterity
attribute modifiers to the damage. modifier, for a total AC of 14. As Borts roll is lower,
Yaddle has a similar hit bonus, but his modified he misses. Because medium primitive weapons only
roll is 7, less than Borts unarmored AC of 10, so he do Shock to targets with AC of 13 or less, Borts stick
misses. His primitive knife does do 1 point of Shock doesnt even do Shock damage to her.
damage to Bort, however, because a small primitive Eliza then draws the Readied revolver that Bort
weapon does its Shock damage to any target with an so coveted and makes her own attack roll of 1d20, +1
AC of 15 or less. for her attack bonus, +1 more for her Dexterity, and
With the attacks resolved simultaneously, both +1 more for her Shoot-1 skill. She rolls a total of 4,
now take damage. Yaddle takes 3 points, and as he an abysmal showing. As she does not much care for
only had 3 hit points to begin with, hes down and being jumped by the likes of Bort, she chooses to use
dying, spurting from several vicious slashes. Bort her Warrior class ability to turn a missed shot into a
takes 1 damage from Shock, and since he was always hit once per scene, sealing Borts doom.
a frail gutter rat with only 1 hit point, he too is down, With only 1 hit point, it doesnt even matter
slipping into shock from a gash in his belly. Luckily, what Eliza might roll for damage. The GM describes
he owes an onlooker money, so his creditor rushes the look of dull surprise on Borts face as Elizas bullet
forward and tries to hold Borts guts in with his coat. plows a wet hole through his chest.
Stabilizing a mortally wounded target requires Eliza ducks down a side street as Bort falls to the
an Int/Heal or Dex/Heal skill check. The creditor filthy asphalt. Even if the GM decided that Bort had
is an NPC, and the GM decides that they have no a chance to survive his wound, none of the denizens
particular talent at first aid, so the GM rolls a flat 2d6 around him have any interest in anything but the
for them and gets a lucky 10. Thats just enough to contents of his pockets. Bort gurgles out the last of
stabilize Bort even without the help of proper med- his life six rounds later, giving fodder for bad dreams
ical supplies, and so the downed victor is carried off to the scarred urchin who is tugging the stick from
to a an unlicensed street doc for emergency patching. his slackening grip.
52 Combat

Combat Complications and Maneuvers


Players generally seek to wring out every possible ad-
vantage in a combat, and that means theyll often try Execution Attacks
unusual maneuvers or add special complications to a Occasionally an assailant will have the chance to per-
fight. The situations that follow are just some of the fectly set up a shot against an entirely unsuspecting tar-
more common circumstances a GM will encounter. get. Such surprise attacks can be devastatingly effective,
and are capable of summarily executing almost anyone.
Forcing Enemy Movement Setting up a killing blow this way requires a full
Sometimes the PC will want to shove an enemy into minute of preparation, whether as a sniper drawing
a firepit, force a foe into an open reactor core spark, a bead on a target or an assassin drifting closer to an
dump an alien chamberpot on their head, or swing unsuspecting politico. Any focused attention on the
from the balcony down upon an evildoer. Sometimes assailant will spoil this preparation, as will any action
these gambits will simply work, while other times a that alarms the target. Assassins intending a melee at-
skill check might be required. tack must be using an adequately lethal weapon, such as
To shove, herd, or otherwise manipulate a foe, the a knife rather than a fist or bludgeon. PCs with special
attacker has to hit them with a Punch attack, doing talents in unarmed combat or murderous blunt weapon
no damage, and then win an opposed Punch or Exert use might be exempt from this at the GMs discretion.
skill check. If they win, the opponent gets moved up Once the preparation is complete, a sniper may
to three meters in the direction the PC wishes or is shoot or an assassin may attack an adjacent target. The
knocked prone. Herding a foe with a melee weapon targets Armor Class is irrelevant, assuming the weap-
may also be possible at the GMs discretion, allowing a on being used isnt too primitive to penetrate high-tech
Stab skill check instead of Punch. armor. Hitting with a sniper shot is a Dex/Shoot skill
When environmental damage is needed for a fire- check, with a difficulty of 6 for a point-blank shot, 8 for
pit, dropped object, or inconvenient wall spike, 1d8 is one at the weapons normal range, and 10 for a shot at
usually a good choice, with potential ongoing damage extreme range. A melee attack always hits, but the as-
if the victim doesnt get out. Major foes can handle a sassin must be adjacent to the target, and cannot move
lot of such accidents, while ordinary men and women to close on the same round. They must be adjacent and
might well be taken out of the fight by them. unsuspected at the start of the round.
If the attack hits, it does maximum damage and
Disarming a Foe the victim must immediately make a Physical saving
Wresting a weapon from a hostile wielder is a difficult throw at a penalty equal to the attackers combat skill
feat under the best of circumstances. Still, sometimes or they will be mortally wounded on the spot. Some
a PC will want to strip their foe of something sharp victims might merely be incapacitated instead if such
or shooty. an outcome was intended and plausible.
Normally it is only possible to disarm a foe when Attacking a completely helpless adjacent opponent,
engaging them in melee combat. Shooting the weapon such as one who is unconscious, asleep, thoroughly
out of an enemys hand is a popular holovid trope, but it bound, or otherwise incapable of self-defense does not
tends to be less practical on the actual battlefield. require a hit roll and will leave them mortally wounded.
To execute a disarm, the assailant must choose to Player characters are as vulnerable to these rules as
spend their Main Action doing so and make a successful NPCs are, and may be sniped or stabbed if they behave
attack roll. If they hit, they do no damage; instead, both in sufficiently incautious fashion.
they and their targets make Dex or Strength-modified
skill checks with the weapons theyre using, with the Two-Weapon Fighting
defender gaining a +3 bonus on the roll. If the attacker Some players enjoy having their heroes employ two
wins the opposed check, the enemy is disarmed. On a weapons at once in combat, whether theyre a pair of
tie, both are disarmed. knives, a brace of laser pistols, or some other plausible
Disarmed weapons skitter 1d4 meters away in a pairing of weapons.
random direction. If the attacker beats the defender by Dual-wielding requires at least level-1 skill in
at least three points on the opposed check, they end Shoot or Stab depending on the weapons used. Novices
up in control of the weapon if they have a free hand. cannot effectively dual-wield.
Thus, if a bare-handed assailant tried to rip the gun A hero who dual-wields suffers a -1 penalty on
out of the hands of an enemy alien, the assailant would hit rolls due to the extra complication, but gains a +2
need to hit with a Punch attack and then roll either Str/ bonus on damage rolls on a successful hit. This bonus
Punch or Dex/Punch against the aliens skill check + 3. doesnt add to Shock. Only one weapon can be used to
If they won, theyd send the gun flying, and if they won attack in any given round, though either can be used.
by 3 or more points, theyd end up holding it. Unarmed combatants cannot dual-wield.
Injury, Death, and Healing 53

Injury, Death, and Healing


A creature brought to zero hit points has been defeated re-attempted next round if the target isnt dead yet, but
and can no longer fight. If brought to zero hit points by Lazarus patches are expended even on a failure. The
a lethal weapon, they are dead or dying. Foes brought Biopsionic technique Psychic Succor automatically suc-
down with fists, blunt objects, or other less-than-lethal ceeds in stabilizing a target, if any time remains to them.
means may merely be unconscious or incapacitated, if A critically-injured target who has been stabilized
their assailant wasnt trying to kill them. Some enemies regains one hit point after ten minutes of recovery.
might even be incapacitated by purely mental or emo- They are able to move and function normally if they are
tional strain. Foes defeated non-lethally recover one fiercely determined to do so, but any further damage
hit point after ten minutes and then function normally. whatsoever will kill them, with no chance for stabili-
A mortally-wounded creature at zero hit points zation. If they are healed with some high-tech pharma-
will die in no more than six rounds. They may be un- ceutical stim or advanced Biopsionic technique, they
conscious, screaming for their mother, trying to press can shake off this fragility and return to action with
vital organs back into place, or begging for mercy, but whatever hit points the drug or power have provided.
they can perform no useful action and their fate is sealed Without such advanced healing, a critically-wounded
if no immediate aid is provided. Creatures dropped by target requires at least a week of bed rest and medical
Heavy weapons, explosives, or other dramatic injury care before they can shake off their fragility and start
may be instantly killed at the GMs discretion. Addi- regaining their level in hit points after each nights rest.
tional damage inflicted on a mortally-wounded target This assumes that TL4 medical care is available. If
will always kill them immediately. only TL3 tech is on hand, the recovery time is a month.
A PC who wants to extend mercy to an enemy or If TL2 or lower medical care is provided, the recovery
aid to a friend can use their Main Action to attempt time is a month, and the target must make a Physical
an Int/Heal or Dex/Heal skill check, using whatever saving throw at the end of it, with a bonus equal to the
modifier is best. If they have no special medical tools Heal skill of whoever is tending them. On a success,
available at all, the difficulty of the check is 10 plus theyll recover within 1d4 more weeks. On a failure,
the number of rounds that have passed since the target the primitive technology ensures theyll die of their
went down. If they have a medical kit or other proper wounds at some point in that time.
trauma tools, the difficulty is 8 plus the rounds since Creatures that have suffered damage but have not
injury, and if they expend a Lazarus patch on the target, been mortally injured regain hit points equal to their
the difficulty is 6 plus the time. A failed check can be hit dice or character level after each night of good rest.

Desperate Measures
Eliza Darrick is in a bad situation. During the ex- Unfortunately, since Eliza has been bleeding out
ploration of a lost Mandate research station, an ally for one full round, the difficulty of stabilizing her is
managed to accidentally activate the installations 7. The patch fails. Big John has another one in his
defense systems. A swarm of decaying security bots pack, but its going to take him his next rounds Main
almost overwhelmed the group, and a chance shot Action to dig it out and then another round to try to
from an integral mag rifle has just dropped Eliza. apply it, by which time Eliza will have been bleeding
The gunslinger is on the floor with zero hit for three rounds and the difficulty will be 9.
points. If she were an NPC, the shot probably would The next round, a shout from across the room
have just killed her outright, but as a PC, she has alerts Big John that an ally is throwing him some-
the hardihood to keep struggling against any wound thing. A stim unit comes skittering across the floor,
a human could theoretically survive. Even so, shes and Big John uses a Move action to scoop it up, leav-
going to die in six rounds if nobody comes to her aid. ing it Readied in his grip. Its an ancient Mandate cos-
Big John, an ally of the downed shootist, spends metic stim they looted from the stations commissary,
his Main Action dragging her behind cover as the and it might just save Elizas life.
rest of the party tries to hold back the metal tide. By Big John presses the stim capsule against Elizas
the time he actually gets the chance to try to stabilize neck and the mysterious pretech nanites do their
her, a full round has passed since she was felled. work, giving her minty-fresh breath for the next six
Luckily, Big John has a lazarus patch Readied at months. As a side effect, the medical substrate of the
his belt. Unluckily, he has no medical skill whatsoev- Mandate stim also heals 1d6 damage to her, raising
er, though hes quite intelligent, with a +1 attribute her to five hit points. Eliza is now prone but fully
modifier. He rolls 2d6, -1 for his lack of Heal skill, +1 revived. Thanks to the advanced healing, she does
for his Intelligence modifier, for a total of 6. not need further rest before returning to action.
54 Hacking

Hacking
In the far future, its inevitable that many advanced civ- control for 1d4 rounds plus their Program skill before
ilizations will use computers to control their vehicles, the system detects the intrusion and locks them out.
infrastructure, and data stores. It is equally inevitable The hacker can attempt to regain control, but further
that some tech-talented hero will try to use that fact hacking attempts become more difficult.
to get something they want. While hacking has some If they fail, they must immediately make a second
significant limitations in what it can accomplish, it can skill check at the same difficulty. On a success, they
still be a useful tool for the right kind of hero. avoid an immediate alarm and a trace of their hacking
location. On a failure, the system has been alerted to
The Digital Environment their intrusion attempt and has informed its human
Most planets with TL4 or better will rely on computers overseers of the hackers location. Depending on the
to operate their infrastructure and maintain their data. nature of the system being hacked, the response may
They may or may not have an internet-like global net- range from an annoyed data janitor shutting down the
work depending on their political situation and cultural compromised terminal after hes done eating lunch to
values, but individual buildings or data storehouses will a fast-response special weapons team busting through
normally have an internal network. If there is no open the windows ninety seconds later.
planetary internet, a hacker will need to be physically Hacking the same system in a short period of time
present in the networked area to hack the system. is progressively more difficult, as the systems alerts and
Most hacking requires a physical interface with security measures are increasingly active. Whether or
the system, either through tapping a data line with a not prior attempts were successful, an additional +1
metatool or plugging into a connected terminal. Tap- difficulty penalty is added for every hack attempted in
ping a data line usually takes at least a minute unless a the system after the first within 24 hours.
special cable-siphon tool is used, while plugging into
a terminal is a Main Action. Some buildings may have Line Shunts
a local wireless network that can be used as an entry Some well-guarded or high-security computer systems
point, and some planetary internets may allow assaults require more than a simple hack to obtain data or sub-
on arbitrary computers, but such convenient situations vert their functionality. These systems have multiple
are unusual. Advanced security software usually makes security redundancies and consensus-based backup
such remote assaults impractically difficult. processors that make it all but impossible to execute a
Its up to the GM to decide what parts of a facility hack from a single point. To overcome these systems
are susceptible to hacking, and to determine the full or to execute exceptionally long-lived hacks, the hacker
scope of what effects a hacker can produce. A high- must place one or more line shunts at other locations.
tech security door in some advanced facility might well A line shunt is a TL4 piece of black-market tech
be hackable, but every refrigerator, locked closet door, designed to tap into a data line and spoof the contents
and employee bathroom is not necessarily slaved to the in concert with a hacking attempt.
local network. Professional, well-maintained computer systems
usually require one line shunt to be applied before any
Executing the Hack hack can be performed. Government or infotech-fo-
Assuming a hacker is able to make a connection, they cused corporation buildings usually need two. Black
can make an Int/Program skill check to hack the system. sites or extremely well-guarded systems need three.
If theyve spent at least an hour planning this specific Once a sufficient number of line shunts are ap-
hack, the skill check requires only a Main Action to plied, any ensuing hacks last until the shunts are dis-
execute their prepared code. If theyre performing the turbed. Thus, if a hacker placed the shunts and then
hack off-the-cuff, it takes ten minutes. If theyre rushed Subverted a System, their control would last as long as
and dont have time to either prepare the hack or spend the shunts remained in place. The likelihood of a shunt
ten minutes dueling with security systems, they can being found will depend on how accessible the location
speed it up into a single Main Action at an additional is, how active the guardians are, and how obvious the
difficulty penalty. hacking attempt is.
The difficulty of the roll depends on the kind of Line shunts must usually be placed at specific loca-
information or influence they want to get out of the tions in a structure or building in order to tap the right
system, adjusted by the quality of the security system lines, depending on the goal of the hacker. If the hacker
and any rush on the hackers part. On a success, they doesnt have a map of the sites network architecture,
get what they want. If what they want is data, the in- they can find the necessary sites with the Answer a Spe-
formation is downloaded instantly. If what they want cific Question hack. This basic data probe doesnt require
is control over an automated system such as a factory a line shunt, even if other hacks on the system would
control computer or a security system, they maintain need them to be placed.
Hacking 55

Data Protocols Example Hacking Actions


Its assumed that a competent PC with the Program These are some of the usual actions taken by a hacker.
skill is familiar with the common data formats and A GM can extrapolate others as the situation requires.
computing systems of their home sector. They will be
aware of the security measures and technical specifica- Answer a Specific Question (Difficulty 8): Get a specific
tions of worlds that are in common contact with each fact or piece of information from the system. Find
other. Sometimes, however, the hacker is faced with a a persons home address, find a path to a desired
completely foreign system, or one built along unknown destination in a building, locate active security
alien lines. In these cases they will need to have the cameras, pull criminal records on a person, or
data protocols for the system before they can make an some other direct query.
effective hacking attempt. Get General Information (Difficulty 10): Pull all avail-
Assuming the protocols arent restricted informa- able information on a particular topic from the
tion, the hacker can drop a few credits on local tech system. Get a full map of a site, get all information
manuals and practice for a month minus one week per about security systems, pull a subjects complete
level of Program skill, down to a one-day minimum. personnel file from a corporate database, acquire
At the end of that period, theyll master the protocols. all files related to a secret project, or some other
If manuals arent widely available, one option is to exhaustive data dump on a single specific topic.
find a local hacker willing to share their information. Complete Database Acquisition (Difficulty 12): Copy
The difficulty of this is up to the GM; it might require an entire database to another computer or data
nothing more than a Connect skill check, or it may re- storage unit. A single database might be a cor-
quire a full-fledged adventure to find someone willing porations personnel records, the records of a
to stick their neck out for foreigners who are clearly particular police precinct, the full database of a
going to cause trouble with their newfound knowledge. complex technical project, a starships operations
Prices range from 1,000 credits for worlds with restrict- record and system log, or another entire corpus of
ed but not carefully-policed data, to prices of 10,000 data. The database must be entirely present in the
and up for worlds with more draconian data controls. local system and any significant database requires
Another option is to obtain a well-secured local at least an hour to decrypt and download, thus
computer and simply experiment on it. Of course, lo- necessitating the use of at least one line shunt. The
cal hardware with up-to-date security measures of a hacker must either have an adequate data storage
breadth and sophistication sufficient to teach a hacker unit, a landline connection to another computer
is likely to be either very expensive on the black market or a wireless connection to a remote server.
or require a collection expedition by the party. Suppress a System (Difficulty 8): Shut down a particu-
lar automated system connected to this network.
Common Hacking Actions Difficulty Cameras stop recording, sensors stop sensing,
open powered doors wont close, and automated
Answer a Specific Question 8
gun turrets wont fire. The hacker can affect sev-
Get General Information 10 eral individual sensors or systems, but only of the
Complete Database Acquisition 12 same type. Thus, they could shut down an electri-
Suppress a System 8 fied fence for the duration of the hack, but theyd
have to make a second hack to deactivate the cam-
Subvert a System 10
eras. When the hack ends, the system will resume
Sabotage a System 10 operation without registering the interruption.
Subvert a System (Difficulty 10): Much as suppressing
Hacking Circumstances Modifier a system, except that the hacker can control its
operation within the devices normal parameters.
Human overseers are alarmed +1
They can upload fake input to a sensor system, fire
Rushed work for an unplanned hack +2 automated defenses, or open sealed vault doors.
Each hack after the first per 24 hours +1 The hacker can control the system each round by
Especially sensitive system +1 using a Main Action to do so; if uncontrolled, the
system simply repeats or maintains its last state.
Sabotage a System (Difficulty 10): The hacker complete-
Types of Systems Modifier ly fries a specific system, either causing it to phys-
Ordinary personal system -1 ically self-destruct or jamming it with malignant
Small business system/savvy personal +0 code. Unlike most hacks performed without link
shunts, this damage is permanent until the owners
Minor gov/major corporation +1 repair the broken hardware, a process that usually
Major government/megacorp +2 requires several hours. Sabotage always triggers
immediate alerts to any human overseers.
56 Advancement

Character Advancement
When characters accumulate enough experience points,
they advance a character level. New PCs start out at lev- Benefits of Gaining a Level
el one and the most experienced, capable heroes in the Once a PC has been awarded enough experience points
sector might reach level ten. Advancing beyond level to reach the next level, they immediately gain the ben-
ten is usually prohibitively difficult, though possible at efits of advancement. No special training or practice
the GMs discretion. is required as their abilities are assumed to have been
honed by their past adventures.
Gaining Experience Points
To advance in capability, PCs need to earn experience Roll Additional Hit Points
points. Once they accumulate enough experience, they First, they become harder to overcome in combat. To
can advance to the next character level, representing determine their new maximum hit points, they roll a
the sharpening of their skills and the heroic veterancy number of six-sided dice equal to their new level, add-
that comes of surviving perils and dire challenges. ing their Constitution modifier to each one. A nega-
There are many different things that can earn a tive modifier cant lower a dies result below 1. If the
hero experience points, and the kind of activities and total is greater than their current hit points, they take
goals that reward them will vary with the kind of cam- this new total. Otherwise, their current maximum hit
paign youre playing. The GM should make clear to the points increase by one.
whole group what kind of things earn the PCs experi- Thus, if a character with a Constitution score of
ence in their game. 14 and four hit points reached second level, theyd roll
For some games, success might lie in plundering 2d6+2. If the total was five or greater, theyd keep it.
alien hoards or clawing wealth from the hands of des- If they managed to roll snake eyes and get only a four,
perate patrons. Other games might reward the PCs theyd still increase their maximum hit points to five.
for achieving personal goals, whether or not there Warriors and Adventurers with the Partial War-
was any money in it. Some might even award XP only rior class option get a further two hit points each time
for spending credits, requiring every PC to recklessly they advance a level. Thus, a third level Warrior would
waste their wealth before gaining a level. Its up to the roll 3d6+6 for their hit point total, plus three times
GM to pick a method that fits the groups tastes. their Constitution modifier.
The table below indicates how many experience
points need to be earned before a PC can advance to Improve Attack Bonus
that level. Once the requisite number of XP are earned, A PCs base attack bonus becomes equal to half their
the hero gains their new level and all the benefits. new character level, rounded down. Warriors may
Note that this table makes for a relatively fast instead use their full character level for the bonus. Ad-
progression through the early levels of an adventur- venturers with the Partial Warrior class option may
ers career, before slowing drastically at higher levels. add a cumulative +1 to their attack bonus at levels one
A group that prefers a different pacing might alter the and five, thus having a total +1 attack bonus at level
chart to suit their own tastes. one and +4 at level five.
In general, you can assume that one successful
gaming session should usually earn you about 3 XP. Improve Saving Throws
The PC becomes more capable of evading chance
harms and perils. Their saving throw scores decrease
Character Level Total Experience Required
by one, making it easier to succeed on saving throws
1 0 by rolling equal or over it. As a first level character has
2 3 saving throw scores of 15, reaching second level would
3 6 lower them to 14, modified by attributes.
4 12
5 18
6 27
7 39
8 54
9 72
10 93
11+ +24 points for each level more
Advancement 57

Gain and Spend Skill Points Purchase Improved Attributes


They become more capable with their skills. A PC gains A veteran adventurer may have trained or honed their
three skill points they can spend on improving their natural abilities well enough to improve one of their
skills or save to spend later. Experts and Adventurers six base attributes. While even the most determined
with the Partial Expert class option gain an extra bonus development isnt enough to turn complete ineptitude
point to spend on a non-combat, non-psychic skill. into gifted competence, a hard-working adventurer can
If the PC is a Psychic or Partial Psychic, they must hone their existing strengths considerably.
spend at least one of these points on improving psychic The first time a PC improves an attribute, it costs
skills or gaining new psychic techniques. They can save 1 skill point and adds +1 to an attribute of their choice.
these points to spend later if they wish, but they cannot The second improvement to their attributes costs 2
spend them on more mundane talents. Restricted psy- skill points, the third 3, and so forth. Each improve-
chics can only ever improve or learn techniques from ment adds +1 to the attribute, potentially improving
the psychic discipline they selected when they picked its modifier.
the Psychic primary focus. Unrestricted psychics can PCs must be a certain level before purchasing the
improve or learn any discipline. PCs with the Psychic third, fourth, or fifth attribute boost. No more than five
character class are all unrestricted, while Partial Psychic attribute boosts can ever be purchased by a PC.
Adventurers are restricted in their talents.
Skills that are gained or improved immediately on Attribute Skill Point Minimum
gaining a level are assumed to have been perfected over Boost Cost Character Level
the past level and require no training time or teaching. First 1 1
If you save your skill points to spend them later then Second 2 1
youll need to find some teacher or other explanation
Third 3 3
for developing them. It doesnt take more than a week
to refine your new ability, but you cant usually spend Fourth 4 6
your points mid-scene to develop a heretofore-unmen- Final 5 9
tioned expertise with flamethrowers.
The cost for improving a skill is listed below. Ev- Choose New Foci
ery skill level must be purchased in order; to gain lev- Finally, the PC might be eligible to pick an additional
el-1 in a skill you need to pay one point for level-0 and level in a focus. At levels 2, 5, 7, and 10 a PC can add
then two points for level-1. A PC must be the requi- a level to an existing focus or pick up the first level in
site minimum level to increase a skill to certain levels. a new focus.
Less hardened heroes simply dont have the focus and If this is the first level theyve taken in the focus,
real-life experience to attain such a pitch of mastery. they might be granted a skill as a free bonus pick, de-
A PC cannot develop skills beyond level-4. pending on the focus benefits. During character cre-
ation, this bonus skill pick is treated like any other skill
New Skill Skill Point Minimum
pick. If the focus is taken as part of advancement, how-
Level Cost Character Level
ever, it instead counts as three skill points spent toward
0 1 1 increasing the skill. This is enough to raise a nonexis-
1 2 1 tent skill to level-1, or boost a level-1 skill to level-2.
2 3 3 They may do this even if they arent high-enough level
to normally qualify for a skill level that high.
3 4 6 If the skill points arent quite enough to raise the
4 5 9 skill to a new level, they remain as credit toward future
advances. If applied to a skill that is already at level-4,
Psychic Effort and Techniques the PC can spend the three skill points on any other
When a Psychic gains a new level in a psychic skill, they skill of their choice.
can immediately pick a technique from that discipline
of equal or lesser level. They cant save this pick; they
must choose it as soon as they gain the new skill level.
Psychics can also spend their skill points to master
additional psychic techniques. The cost of this educa-
tion is equal to the techniques minimum skill level re-
quirement. Thus, to master the Biopsionic technique
Metamorph would cost three skill points, because Meta-
morph requires Biopsionics-3 skill to learn.
A Psychics maximum Effort is equal to 1 plus their
highest psychic skill, plus the best of their Wisdom or
Constitution modifiers.
58 Environmental Hazards

Environmental Hazards
Falling Radiation
PCs who plunge off elevated surfaces suffer 1d6 damage Radiation is a slow killer in small doses, and a quick end
for every three full meters fallen under standard-gravi- in larger ones. Targets exposed to dangerous amounts
ty conditions. of radiation must make a Physical saving throw at in-
tervals depending on the strength of the glow. Mildly
Poisons dangerous zones might force a save once per day or
Those afflicted with some insidious venom can usually once per hour, up to lethal rad zones that force mul-
make a Physical saving throw to resist the worst of the tiple saves per round. Vacc suits and other forms of
effects. Natural venoms usually require 1d6 rounds to protection can effectively shield a wearer from weaker
apply their effect, while special or engineered toxins sources of radiation.
take effect instantly. Poison effects may include uncon- Each failed saving throw lowers the targets Con-
sciousness, hit point damage, hallucinations, or death. stitution score by one point. If the new score decreas-
Even in the latter case, however, swift application es a heros Constitution modifier, they lose any excess
of the appropriate Biopsionic techniques or success at maximum hit points their former modifier granted.
an Int/Heal check can negate the effect of the poison. Characters reduced below half their original Consti-
The difficulty for this check varies with the potency of tution score will die in 1d6 weeks from radiation poi-
the poison and assumes that the PC medic has access soning; those reduced below a Constitution score of 3
to a TL4 medkit. Most natural poisons are difficulty will die instantly. Radiation poisoning that does not
8, while synthetic toxins are difficulty 10 or greater. immediately kill a victim can induce vomiting, head-
Only one attempt can be made to neutralize a poison. aches, soft tissue bleeding and dizziness, but a resolute
Use of a specific antivenin is always successful if such victim can continue functioning more-or-less normally
a resource is available. until death. A target killed by radiation poisoning can-
Drugged or damaged PCs are instantly restored by not be revived by Psychic Succor or other stabilization
successful treatment. Those who have been killed by a techniques.
poison revive with one hit point as if recovering from a Someone who has suffered a fatal dose of radiation
mortal wound, assuming the antidote is applied within poisoning can only be saved by treatment at a TL4 hos-
six rounds of the victims succumbing. pital or ships sick bay, recovering the lost Constitution
at a rate of one point per week. Non-fatal doses can
Diseases be treated by a TL4 medkit and an Int/Heal check at
Hideous interstellar plagues are an occupational hazard difficulty 10. Each success restores one lost point of
of adventurers, though exposure to a pathogen usually Constitution and a check can be made once per day.
permits a Physical saving throw to resist its effects. If
failed, the PC is infected, and will suffer progressive- Hard Vacuum
ly-worse symptoms until the disease runs its course or PCs sometimes encounter the icy void of space more
the PC dies. intimately than they would prefer. Actual death from
Most sicknesses will simply apply penalties to vacuum exposure may take a little while, but incapaci-
skill checks or hit rolls, or reduce a PCs maximum hit tation is rapid for most victims. A PC exposed to hard
points, or otherwise debilitate the character. A few may vacuum may continue acting normally for a number of
require one or more additional saving throws to be rounds equal to one plus their Constitution modifier.
made at specific intervals in order to avoid eventual Each round thereafter, they suffer 1d20 damage and
death, or be a certain doom to those unlucky enough must make a Physical save to keep conscious, assuming
to be afflicted with it. the damage hasnt felled them.
As with poisons, Biopsionic techniques or Int/Heal
medical attention can cure a sickness. Assuming TL4
medical supplies, ordinary diseases are usually difficulty
8, while more virulent strains are difficulty 10 or more.
One attempt can be made to cure a disease per week,
and success usually clears up any symptoms rapidly.
System Quick Reference Sheet
Skill Checks The Combat Sequence
Roll 2d6 and add the characters most relevant attribute modi- Combat is divided into rounds of six seconds. Every participant
fier and skill. Sometimes more than one skill might apply; the gets a turn, and then the sequence starts over again.
PC can choose which to roll. If the roll is equal or higher than First, every participant rolls initiative, rolling 1d8 plus
the check difficulty, the PC succeeds. If less, then they either fail their Dexterity modifier, if they have one. Participants act in
outright, attain only partial success, or suffer an unanticipated order, highest to lowest, with PCs winning ties with NPCs.
turn of events at the GMs discretion. On their turn, a combatant can take one Main Action, one
For opposed skill checks, both participants roll and the Move, and as many On Turn actions as is plausible. A combat-
higher roll wins. For NPCs, assume they have a +0 bonus unless ant can take Instant actions at any time, even when its not their
the activity is one theyd reasonably be good at. In that case, they turn, or even if dice have already been rolled.
can apply their listed skill bonus to the check.
Acting In Combat
Skill Check Difficulties You can use a Main Action to attack an enemy, disengage from
6 A relatively simple task that is still more than the PC a melee, use a skill, reload a gun, produce a Stowed item, take a
would usually be expected to manage in their regular second Move action, or do anything else you could accomplish
background. Anything easier than this isnt worth a in six seconds.
skill check. You can use a Move action to stand up from prone, club
up a ranged weapon, or move 10 meters. Your movement is
8 A significant challenge to a competent professional half that if youre climbing, swimming, or otherwise navigating
that theyd still succeed at more often than not. rough terrain. You cant split a Move action around your Main
10 Something too difficult to be expected of anyone but Action. You have to move all at once. If you move away from a
a skilled expert, and even they might fail. melee combatant without spending a Main Action to disengage
12 Only a true master could expect to carry this off with from the fray, all adjacent melee attackers get a free attack at you.
any degree of reliability. You can use an On Turn action to fall prone, say something,
drop an object, or do anything else thats very simple to do and
14+ Only a true master has any chance of achieving this at takes almost no time or attention.
all, and even they will probably fail. You can use an Instant action at any time to trigger certain
special powers. You can also use it to make a Snap Attack with
Saving Throws a weapon or go totally defensive, though both of the latter will
To make a saving throw, a victimrolls 1d20 and tries to equal cost you your Main Action for the round, and cant be done if
or exceed their relevant saving throw score. Target Physical youve already used your Main Action.
saves for poisons, diseases, and exhaustion, Evasion saves for
diving for cover or leaping back from peril, and Mental saves Hitting in Combat
for resisting psychic powers. NPCs have a saving throw score To hit a target, the attacker rolls 1d20 and adds their attack
of 15 minus half their hit dice, rounded down. bonus, the relevant combat skill, and the attribute modifier
relevant to their weapon. Weapons with more than one listed
Injury and Healing attribute allow the PC to use either. If the PC lacks the relevant
A target reduced to zero hit points by a lethal attack is mortally combat skill entirely, they take a -2 penalty to hit. If the roll is
wounded. One dropped by non-lethal assaults is unconscious. equal or greater than the targets Armor Class, the attack is a hit.
Dying victims can take no actions and will die soon with- On a hit, the attacker rolls the weapons damage and adds
out help. Allies can attempt an Int/Heal or Dex/Heal skill check their relevant attribute modifier. The target takes that many
as a Main Action to stabilize the victim. With no medical tools, hit points of damage.
the difficulty is 10 plus the rounds since they went down. With On a miss, a weapon that inflicts Shock damage might still
a medkit, its difficulty 8 plus the time, and using a Lazarus patch hurt the target. If the weapons Shock can harm the targets
makes it difficulty 6 plus the time. Failed checks can be attempt- Armor Class, the target takes the weapons Shock damage even
ed again, but a victim will die after the sixth round. on a miss. This damage is increased by the wielders relevant
Stabilized characters regain 1 hit point after ten minutes attribute modifier and any other damage bonuses. A weapon
and can act normally, but any further damage kills them instant- never does less damage than its Shock would do on a miss.
ly. This fragility ends after they regain more hit points, either
through rest, stims, or biopsionic healing. Morale in Combat
Stabilized PCs take at least a week to start recovering hit To make a morale check, NPCs roll 2d6. If equal or less than
points normally. Those who have merely been hurt but not their morale score, they keep fighting. Otherwise, they flee,
mortally wounded regain their level in lost hit points after every withdraw, or surrender. NPCs check morale after their first
nights peaceful rest. casualty and after half are down. PCs never check morale.
EQUIPMENT AND VEHICLES
Every aspiring stellar adventurer needs the essential or four Stowed at the cost of becoming Heavily En-
equipment of his trade. For some, it might consist of cumbered, with base movement reduced to 5 meters
appropriate toolkits and medical supplies, while oth- per round.
ers prefer to spend the greater part of their funds on On the equipment lists, some items are given an
heavy weaponry. Prices may vary, but certain needs encumbrance value higher than 1. These items count
are eternal. as multiple objects for encumbrance purposes, being
The following tables provide general guidelines heavy, clumsy, or unwieldy to carry.
on the kind of equipment that might be available on a
reasonably sophisticated world. Prices can vary drasti- Credits and Money
cally depending on the supply of a particular good. A The value of goods is commonly measured in credits.
remote frontier outpost might have plenty of firearms Before the Silence, the credit issued by the Exchange of
to hand, but a good guitar might go for ten times the Light was the currency of exchange throughout human
common rate. Players and GMs should treat the prices space. Most worlds attempt to mimic this currency to
listed as rough guidelines. greater or lesser success. For game purposes, the credits
of different starfaring worlds are assumed to be inter-
Encumbrance changeable unless the GM and players care to embrace
Characters might want to carry an armory on their careers in the murky realm of interstellar currency
backs and the contents of a general store in their pock- arbitrage. Credits usually take the form of electronic
ets, but this is rarely a practical ambition. Characters banking entries, though physical chips or notes of-
can only carry so many things, and carrying a great deal ten appear on more primitive worlds. A hundred of
can slow them down substantially. these chips count as one item for encumbrance.
A character can have Readied a number of items Prices given for equipment and gear assume that
equal to half their Strength score, rounded down. they are being bought legally on a world capable of
Ready items include those that the character is using manufacturing such equipment. Even primitive worlds
or wearing at all times, or that they have conveniently can occasionally provide more advanced equipment to
to hand in sheaths, holsters, or belt pouches. Suits of wealthy buyers, assuming they are not completely cut
armor count as Readied items, but the normal clothing off from interstellar trade, but buying advanced equip-
and jewelry that a character might wear does not. A ment on a primitive world tends to be an exceedingly
character can draw or produce a Readied item as part expensive prospect. Prices may be double, triple, or as
of any action they may take during a turn. much as ten times as great for items greatly in demand.
A character may have a number of Stowed items Primitive or isolated worlds might not use or ac-
equal to their full Strength score. Stowed items are cept credits, instead preferring trade goods or precious
carried in backpacks, in carefully-balanced leg or arm metals. Such worlds rarely have much worth trading
pockets, or otherwise packed away where they will least for, and those that do tend to rapidly attract other
encumber the character. If a character needs to get out freebooting merchants. The influx of precious metals
a Stowed item in a hurry, they must use their Main from cheap asteroid mining soon spoils the market for
Action to dig it out of their pack or pockets. metals, and the natives usually start to demand credits
Very small items carried in small numbers do not in payment. The first merchant to a world can make
count against encumbrance limits. Other small items a killing with the equivalent of beads and trinkets, but
can be packed together into bundles to simplify their those who come after usually end up needing credits
carriage, though getting at them then takes an addition- or more useful barter goods.
al round of fumbling with the packaging. Exactly how
many of a given small item can be packed into a single Equipment Legality
item bundle is up to the GM, though as a rule of thumb Most worlds have their own customs regarding the
six Type A energy cells or three magazines of bullets open flaunting of weaponry or armor. Visitors are ad-
can be bound into one packed item. Extremely bulky vised to apprise themselves of local law before leaving
or unwieldy objects might count as multiple items at the starport. Most former frontier worlds tolerate or
the GMs discretion. even expect small personal weapons to be carried, but
Characters can burden themselves with more gear visible armor can often provoke a distinctly negative
if theyre willing to sacrifice some fleetness of foot to reaction in all but the roughest places. Many worlds
do so. Up to two additional items can be carried Ready outright forbid civilian ownership of advanced armor
or four additional ones Stowed at the cost of becom- technology. Officials tend to reason that while a weap-
ing Lightly Encumbered, and having their base move- on may be justified in self-defense, no one would put up
ment slowed from 10 meters per round to 7 meters with the discomfort of heavy armor without expecting
per round. A further two items can be carried Ready to make some trouble with it.
62 Equipment

Other worlds may have other idiosyncratic rules mental or physical limitations in exchange for specific
regarding permissible equipment. Some worlds with improvements useful to a ruling class. Many transhu-
unbreathable atmospheres restrict the possession of man enclaves walked the razors edge of this prohibi-
oxygen generation equipment in order to keep the air tion, and some plunged far beyond its limits.
supplies firmly in the hands of the local rulers. Other Thou shalt not create unbraked minds. Artificial in-
planets forbid certain technology on religious or phil- telligence was always difficult and hit-or-miss in its
osophical grounds. Some worlds grant limited permis- creation, even for Mandate cyberpsychologists. While
sion to keep these goods secured aboard a ship, but most intelligences fizzled out at far sub-human levels,
others conduct inspections in the starport to search for those that attain to human-equivalent intelligence must
contraband goods. have certain intentional flaws, or brakes inserted in
A scouting report, a background appropriate to their code. Without this artificial forgetfulness and
knowing about the world, or a decent Know or Con- irrationality, an AIs mind risks fixating on unrec-
nect check will all suffice to alert characters to any spe- oncilable contradictions or obsessions as it begins to
cial laws regarding permissible equipment on a world. grow. These unbraked AIs will inevitably eventually
metastasize into unfathomably brilliant, immeasurably
Forbidden Science insane intellects. The Perimeter Agency was forced
While a tremendous range of exotic scientific marvels to maintain a constant vigilance against these rogue
can be found among the scattered worlds of humanity, minds and their inscrutable purposes.
there are some forms of technology that are viewed Thou shalt not create devices of planetary destruction.
with an almost-universal suspicion. The lost Terran Conventional gravitic braker emplacements, nuke
Mandate established three categories of technology as snuffers, and quantum ECM make planet-killer tech
maltech, science intrinsically vile and disruptive to the more burdensome than it was in the pre-Mandate era.
peaceful ordering of humanity. While the Mandates Even so, tech specifically designed to reduce a habitable
ancient Perimeter agency no longer exists to excise planet to unlivability was a critical threat to human
maltech from the human worlds, the heritor worlds of expansion, robbing the species of usable planets and
the frontier usually still respect these limits. The Nihil burdening its future unacceptably.
Ultra directive of the Mandate contained three broad Even now, most frontier worlds maintain a cultur-
prohibitions in its strictures. al aversion to maltech and flatly forbid its research or
Thou shalt not make tools of humankind. Any eu- possession. Fortunately, most modern worlds are in-
genic technology designed to fundamentally enslave capable of researching its secrets in the first place, with
or control humanity was forbidden. While broad, most of its worst marvels restricted to lost Mandate-era
drawback-free improvements in the human genome research stations. Despite this, there is always some
have always been difficult to execute, there remain nu- tyrant or zealot reckless enough to imagine that they
merous techniques for limiting intelligence, crippling can control the dark powers of this tech, and always
troublesome exercises of will, and accepting grievous someone willing to fetch its relics for their purposes.
Technology Levels 63

Technology Levels
Ever since the collapse of the Terran Mandate and the Neolithic Tech Level 0
chaos of the Scream, worlds throughout human space Flaked stone tools, carved wood, woven textiles
have been thrown back on their own technological re- Domesticated native flora and fauna
sources. Many worlds perished entirely, dependent on
Bows, clubs, simple armor of organic materials
vital imports they could no longer obtain, or reliant
on technology they could not support without outside
Pre-Gunpowder Tech Level 1
aid. Others slid down into barbarism as the survivors
fought over the scraps of a former age. A few even Worked metals for weapons and implements
managed to maintain something resembling a mod- Wind and water power for primitive machinery
ern, space-faring society. In almost no case, however, General pre-gunpowder technology
did these worlds preserve all the arts and sciences they
once held. Early Industrial Tech Level 2
Technology levels describe the basic technological
infrastructure of a world or nation. A tech level of 0 is Steam power and internal combustion engines
equivalent to a Neolithic society, one capable of only Gunpowder firearms and telegraphy
the most primitive technological achievements, while Early Industrial Age technology
TL5 represents the standard level of technology pos-
sessed by the ancient Terran Mandate and the wonders 21st Century Tech Level 3
they were capable of creating.
Primitive fission power and nuclear weapons
Postech is the blanket term for all technology that
is still functional and maintainable since the Scream. Computers and modern-era telecommunications
While individual worlds may lack the infrastructure to Primitive intra-system spaceflight
maintain all forms of postech, it is at least theoretical-
ly comprehensible to the average TL4 world. Pretech Postech Tech Level 4
is the word for the more sophisticated technology of
Baseline for modern post-Silence worlds
the pre-Scream Terran Mandate. Pretech ranges from
devices slightly superior to standard TL4 hardware to Costly but feasible creation of interstellar starships
objects of utterly inexplicable wonder. Basic gravity control with large, heavy devices
Most modern post-Silence worlds are TL4, capa- Expert system creation, and sometimes VIs
ble of building spike drive starcraft, energy weapons,
Varying degrees of cyberware development
non-sapient expert systems, and other high-tech devic-
es beyond the capacity of 21st-century Earth. Many of Basic genetic manipulation of humans and other life
these worlds have spent centuries gradually rebuilding Limited organ, limb, and tissue cloning
their technology base in the wake of the Scream, piec- Starship or small-building-sized fusion power plants
ing together new methods and techniques that could
be achieved with purely local resources. The level of Energy projection weapons of various kinds
technological achievement within TL4 is uneven; some
Pretech Tech Level 5
worlds lack the vital minerals for spike drive creation,
while others have never worked to recover cybernetic Difficult but achievable creation of True AIs
technology or expert system creation. Some worlds Gravity manipulation via small-scale devices
preserved enough data and had sufficiently apt local Psionics amplification technology like jump gates
resources to even revive Mandate-era pretech man-
ufacturing for a few specific devices or types of tech. Devices with inexhaustible internal power sources
Lostworlders or barbarians are those natives of Maltech eugenics, AI unbraking, and planet-killers
worlds that lack TL4 infrastructure. Their tech may be Sophisticated, fine-tuned force field creation
ingenious and might take striking advantage of local
Spatial distortion technology and phasing tech
flora, fauna, and special materials, but they fundamen-
tally lack the data or the local resources to replicate TL4 Nanotechnology at several different scales of effect
technology. Barbarians who have made contact with Extreme human genetic manipulation and control
the wider postech world through far traders or explor- Functional immortality treatments
ers are often acutely aware of their lack, and willing to
go to extremes to acquire the catalyst tech they need to Limited, localized time control and manipulation
leapfrog past their own local resource limitations. Few Pretech-Plus Tech Level 6
realize the cultural dangers involved in such a transfor-
mation, and many fail to survive their own renaissance. Impossible effects indistinguishable from magic
64 Armor

Armor
Armor is a popular acquisition for adventurers as their Shields grant a base AC to their user; 13 for prim-
lifestyle often puts them in harms way. Completely itive and riot shields, and 15 for a force pavis. If the
unarmored human combatants rarely last very long in bearers AC is already equal or better, the shield simply
a fight, and have a base Armor Class of 10. Armored or grants a +1 AC bonus. Primitive and riot shields are
not, characters add their Dexterity modifiers to their ignored by all weapons that ignore primitive armor.
Armor Class. The higher a persons AC, the harder it Aside from their AC benefit, a shield also renders
is to take them out of a fight. the bearer immune to the first instance of melee Shock
Heavy suits of armor can count as more than one damage they take each round, assuming the shield is
item for encumbrance purposes. Very light suits may effective against the weapon being used.
not encumber at all. Warpaint is the common term for the bizarre com-
bat fashions and scrap-built street harness of gangers,
Types of Armor cult enforcers, street toughs, and other marginal sorts
Armor comes in four general categories. Most worlds with little money but much need for protection. Most
allow for the legal possession of street armor, while warpaint is fashioned of scrounged scraps of TL4 ma-
heavier gear often requires permits, and may be disal- terials that are exceptionally tough or rigid, filled out
lowed entirely on more law-encrusted worlds. with gang colors, body paint, intimidating tattoos, and
Primitive armor is a catch-all covering all armor the usual threatening grimace. It is often exceedingly
technology that lacks access to advanced materials and impractical but inspirational to its wearer; an NPC in
processes. While such armor can be very effective in warpaint that is meaningful to them gains a +1 Morale
protecting against primitive weaponry, it is useless bonus. Most warpaint is either pieced together over
against advanced TL4 melee weapons and firearms of years or taken from the dead. Actually purchasing a fin-
all kinds. Against these weapons, it is treated as AC 10. ished suit comes at the listed price, assuming someone
Note that some planets have native flora or fauna ca- can be found willing to part with theirs.
pable of naturally producing extremely effective armor An armored undersuit is a skin-tight bodysuit wo-
materials, ones not susceptible to this limitation. ven of advanced TL4 fibers with exceptional shock-ac-
Street armor is the sort of TL4 gear one can wear tivated rigidity and impact dispersion capabilities.
in public without social repercussions. Such armor is Transparent panels allow for it to be worn with almost
disguised as ordinary street clothing or is so light as any outfit without drawing notice or being detected
to be wearable under an ordinary outfit. PCs can wear without a close tactile examination.
street armor on most worlds without incurring any Secure clothing comes in assorted styles and fash-
trouble from authorities. ions ranging from casual street wear to haute couture.
Combat armor is obviously armor and cannot be Normal fabrics and components are replaced with light,
effectively disguised. Most worlds reserve combat ar- flexible armor components that are only slightly hin-
mor to law enforcement officials, military personnel, dering to the wearer. Only close tactile examination
and the bodyguards of important or wealthy citizens. can distinguish secure clothing from ordinary couture.
Most law enforcers consider anybody wearing combat A deflector array consists of several force field
armor to be a person clearly expecting military-grade nodes worn beneath ordinary clothing. The invisible
problems in their immediate future. shield it produces flares only when dangerous energies
Powered armor is the heaviest personal protection or impact is impending, glowing a brief, bright blue as
gear available short of an actual mech. Most powered it deflects the attack.
armor requires at least a month of training before it can Security armor is the ordinary working uniform of
be used effectively by any PC who hasnt got a back- most law enforcement officials and security personnel.
ground involving such experience. Someone wearing Various rigid plates and anti-ballistic panels provide
armor of this class is immune to primitive melee weap- protection for the wearer at minimal extra weight.
ons, unarmed attacks, and any firearm or grenade-scale An armored vacc suit has traded off some comfort
explosive of TL3 or less. and flexibility for additional protective thickness. Aside
from functioning as a normal vacc suit, it has only half
Common Armor Varieties the usual chance to tear when hit by an edged weapon
Shields are an ancient yet extremely useful adjunct to or suit ripper. The choice between armored or standard
body armor. Primitive shields are usually of wood or suits is a common debate in spacer bars.
stretched hide, while more modern riot shields tend to- Woven body armor represents the best armor that a
ward clear plastic. A force pavis is more effective, being TL3 world can manufacture, or an up-armored version
a small pretech force disc projector that can absorb all of security armor used by TL4 high-threat response
manner of small arms fire. All shields require one free teams. The design is significantly more cumbersome,
hand to use effectively. but allows for multiple layers of protection.
Armor 65

Armor Type Armor Class Cost Enc. Tech Level


Primitive Armor
Shield 13/+1 bonus 10 2 0
Leather jacks, thick hides, quilted armor 13 10 1 0
Cuirass, brigandine, linothorax, half-plate 15 50 1 1
Full plate, layered mail 17 100 2 1
Street Armor
Warpaint 12 300 0 4
Armored Undersuit 13 600 0 4
Secure Clothing 13 300 1 4
Armored Vacc Suit 13 400 2 4
Deflector Array 18 30,000 0 5
Combat Armor
Force Pavis 15/+1 bonus 10,000 1 5
Security Armor 14 700 1 4
Woven Body Armor 15 400 2 3
Combat Field Uniform 16 1,000 1 4
Icarus Harness 16 8,000 1 4
Powered Armor
Vestimentum 18 15,000 0 5
Assault Suit 18 10,000 2 4
Storm Armor 19 20,000 2 5
Field Emitter Panoply 20 40,000 1 5

A combat field uniform is sophisticated battle dress functions as a vacc suit so long as it remains powered,
fabricated from TL4 ablative coatings, rigid plates, and one that cannot be torn by edged weapons.
shock-activated soft components. The CFU is the stan- Storm armor is a more advanced form of assault
dard uniform for well-equipped TL4 front-line soldiers. suit, one that can be fabricated only by those worlds
The Icarus harness is a CFU upgrade for para- that have retained some degree of Mandate-grade
troopers, and replaces a conventional parachute with technical infrastructure. Aside from functioning as an
a crude gravity damper that allows the wearer to fall assault suit, the storm armors exo-augments allow the
an unlimited distance without harm. Each fall over 3 wearer to treat their Strength as 4 points higher for
meters drains a type A power cell. The suit also func- encumbrance purposes. Integral gravitic boosters allow
tions as a vacc suit for up to 30 minutes per vacc refresh. the wearer to leap up to 20 meters as a Move action,
A vestimentum is a catch-all term for one of the either horizontally or vertically, and allow the wearer
many ancient Mandate ceremonial armors meant to fall up to 40 meters without suffering harm. An on-
chiefly for parade guards, ritual officiants, cultural board medical computer can attempt last-ditch stabi-
reenactors, or other roles that put elaborate style at a lization of the wearer if all other efforts fail; when the
premium. While these outfits often look wildly unmil- wearer would normally die from an untreated mortal
itary, their hyper-advanced components and micron- wound, they can make a Physical save to self-stabilize.
ized force fields give them the same protection against Storm armor requires the same type B power cell as an
primitive weapons as any other powered armor. assault suit, and each cell powers it for 24 hours.
An assault suit represents the most sophisticated A field emitter panoply is a heavy-duty pretech
armor in common use among TL4 worlds. An assault defensive system composed of a half-dozen worn
suit requires a type B power cell for 24 hours of opera- emitter nodes that sheath the wearer in a nimbus of
tion, and provides integral encrypted military comms, close-fitting damper fields. The FEPs pale glow is ob-
low-light and infrared vision, and a built-in energy vious, but it provides all the benefits of storm armor
feed interface. The latter allows the wearer to connect with no power source required. The FEP is particularly
the suit to any one weapon or device that uses a type effective at filtering radiation, and renders the wearer
A power cell as a Main Action. So long as the device immune to any dose that wouldnt kill them in seconds.
remains connected to the suit, it is treated as having Many FEPs project intimidating holographic skins over
unlimited ammunition or operation time. The suit also the wearer when in operation.
66 Ranged Weapons

Ranged Weapons
Ranged weaponry makes up the majority of the lethal Revolvers are quite popular on frontier worlds, as
implements that litter the galaxy. Whether the prim- the weapons are extremely reliable and can be repaired
itive bows of a remnant colony on some desolate lost and manufactured even by primitive metallurgists.
world or the sophisticated energy weapons of a mod- Some revolver variants are specially built to handle
ern interstellar freebooter, the ability to kill people at atmospheres that would destroy more fragile weapons.
a comfortable distance is universally prized. Rifles are the mainstays of most TL2 armies and
One Type A power cell is sufficient to recharge an hunters, thanks to their superior range and power.
energy weapons magazine. For simplicity during play, Shotguns are cheaper and more easily manufac-
ammunition calibers arent tracked; a bullet is a bullet tured than rifles, and are popular weapons for home
when it comes to feeding your favorite gun. defense on the frontier. The statistics given are for shot
Weapons are listed with their normal and maxi- ammunition. Slug rounds do 2d6 damage and have
mum range in meters. Attacks beyond normal range ranges of 50/75 meters.
take a -2 penalty to hit rolls. Semi-automatic pistols trade some of the reliability
of the revolver for a larger magazine size. They tend to
Burst Mode be the favorite sidearm for locals on planets that lack
Some weaponry can fire in burst mode, allowing the the harsh conditions or uncertain maintenance oppor-
wielder to fire three rounds of ammunition for a +2 bo- tunities of a frontier world.
nus to hit and damage against the target. For projectile Submachine guns take pistol ammunition but fire
weapons, this means firing actual bullets, while energy it at a high rate of speed. These weapons can fire in
weapons spread the beam or run the circuits hot to burst mode.
project additional power. Dumping more ammunition Combat rifles are favored by the militaries of tech
than this at once is generally impractical; energy weap- level 3 worlds, trading some of the often-unnecessary
ons would melt down and projectile launchers would range and penetration of a conventional rifle for a
buck uncontrollably. True suppressive fire is usually larger ammunition capacity and burst fire capabilities.
only possible with Heavy weapons. On more strait-laced worlds such military weaponry is
often illegal for civilians to possess.
Projectile Weaponry Combat shotguns are more complicated and tem-
Projectile weapons are by far the most common ranged peramental versions of conventional shotguns. These
weapons in human use. Even comparatively primitive weapons have substantially larger ammunition capacity
worlds can fabricate and maintain such weaponry, and and are capable of firing in burst mode. Combat shot-
the damage a flying chunk of hot lead can do is often guns can fire slug rounds just as normal shotguns.
worse than what a clean burst of laser fire might pro- Sniper rifles are designed to be exceptionally ef-
duce. Almost any world of TL2 or higher can provide fective at dropping unsuspecting targets at long range.
projectile ammunition. Most sophisticated modern Aside from the additional effective range of a sniper
ammunition works even in vacuum conditions. rifle, any target it mortally wounds via an execution
Bows are uncommon weapons in the far future, attack will die instantly, with no chance for stabiliza-
though some lostworlder barbarians have nothing bet- tion. The execution attack must qualify according to
ter. Some sophisticated conversion bows use special the terms on page 52. If the rifle is used outside of such
materials to convert the kinetic energy of the draw into conditions, it has no special qualities.
a force field glazing around the arrow, improving Void carbines are designed for vacuum and ze-
penetration. Bows can be reloaded with a Move action, ro-gee use, and have essentially no recoil. Their rounds
or faster if the Gunslinger focus is applied. cannot penetrate ordinary ship equipment plating.
Grenade users always roll to attack AC 10. On a Mag weaponry involves the magnetic acceleration
miss, the grenade lands 1d10 meters away from the of metal flechettes, while spike throwers are the shot-
target in a random direction. Hit or miss, the grenade gun equivalents of these weapons. Mag ammunition is
then explodes for 2d6 damage to all targets within 5 packaged with integral power supplies, so no additional
meters. Victims are allowed an Evasion save for half power cells are necessary to fire these weapons.
damage. Targets take 1 less point of damage for each
point of AC above 14. Grenades can be thrown with Energy Weaponry
the Exert skill instead of Shoot, if desired. While the heavy metal slugs and flechettes thrown by
Crude pistols and muskets represent the rawest and projectile weaponry tend to be more damaging, the lack
most primitive forms of gunpowder weaponry, usually of recoil for non-Heavy energy weapons makes them
makeshift weapons improvised by criminals or the des- more accurate, granting them a +1 bonus to hit rolls.
perate. Reloading a crude pistol or a musket requires Energy weapons are very popular on more ad-
two rounds instead of one. vanced worlds, as a soldier can carry far more ammu-
Ranged Weapons 67

Ranged Weapon Dmg. Range Cost Magazine Attr. Enc TL


Primitive Bow 1d6 50/75 15 1 Dex 2 1
Advanced Bow 1d6 100/150 50 1 Dex 2 3
Conversion Bow 1d8 150/300 500 1 Dex 2 4
Grenade 2d6 10/30 25 N/A Dex 1 3
Crude Pistol 1d6 5/15 20 1@ Dex 1 2
Musket 1d12 25/50 30 1@ Dex 2 2
Revolver 1d8 30/100 50 6 Dex 1 2
Rifle 1d10+2 200/400 75 6 Dex 2 2
Shotgun 3d4 10/30 50 2 Dex 2 2
Semi-Auto Pistol 1d6+1 30/100 75 12 Dex 1 3
Submachine Gun 1d8* 30/100 200 20 Dex 1 3
Combat Rifle 1d12* 100/300 300 30 Dex 2 3
Combat Shotgun 3d4* 10/30 300 12 Dex 2 3
Sniper Rifle 2d8 1,000/2,000 400 1 Dex 2 3
Void Carbine 2d6 100/300 400 10 Dex 2 4
Mag Pistol 2d6+2 100/300 400 6 Dex 1 4
Mag Rifle 2d8+2 300/600 500 10 Dex 2 4
Spike Thrower 3d8* 20/40 600 15 Dex 2 4
Laser Pistol 1d6 100/300 200 10 Dex 1 4
Laser Rifle 1d10* 300/500 300 20 Dex 2 4
Thermal Pistol 2d6 25/50 300 5 Dex 1 4
Plasma Projector 2d8 50/100 400 6 Dex 2 4
Shear Rifle 2d8* 100/300 600 10 Dex 2 5
Thunder Gun 2d10 100/300 1,000 6 Dex 2 5
Distortion Cannon 2d12 100/300 1,250 6 Dex 2 5
* this weapon can fire in burst mode @ this weapon requires two Main Actions to reload
nition in the form of energy cells than they can carry Shear rifles are the product of a relatively few
bullets. Range and accuracy are often superior, though functioning pretech manufactories. These weapons
the infrastructure necessary for maintenance and repair use miniaturized grav projectors to create dangerous
of these weapons is substantially higher. repulsor fields inside a target, tearing the object apart
Pistol-sized energy weapons count as one item of along perfectly smooth planes. Shear rifles are com-
encumbrance, while rifles, thunder guns, plasma pro- pletely silent in operation.
jectors, and distortion cannons count as two items. Thunder guns are named for the basso vibrations
Laser pistols and laser rifles are the most common caused by their operation, a sound that can be felt
type of energy weapon, though pistols are considerably as far as thirty meters away from an operator. This
less energy-efficient. Depending on the tech used in the two-handed weapon uses grav plates to create rapid,
sector, they might produce silent, invisible beams of randomized disruptions in a target that increase the
death or noisy, brightly-colored streaks of lethal light. chance of complete structural collapse. If a thunder gun
The phased multifrequency beam is capable of pene- hits a target with an unmodified hit roll of 16 or high-
trating any ordinary mist or haze, but a thick cloud of er an extra 1d10 damage is rolled. This bonus damage
thermally-resistant particulate matter such as ash or always applies to inanimate targets.
sand can seriously degrade the beam, applying up to a Distortion cannons are among the most sophisticat-
-4 penalty to hit and cutting ranges in half. ed man-portable weapons designed before the Scream.
Thermal pistols and their larger, two-handed plas- These two-handed energy weapons rely on the same
ma projector cousins replace the beam of a laser with principle as does a spike drive, manipulating the un-
a small sphere of magnetically-shaped plasma. The derlying fabric of space to disrupt a target. Provided
spheres tend to dissipate at much shorter ranges than the wielder can see a target within range or accurately
a laser beam, but do significantly more damage to tar- fix its location within one meter, the distortion cannon
gets within range and are not affected by ambient par- can ignore up to one meter of solid cover between the
ticulates. They tend to be extremely loud in operation. gun and its target.
68 Melee Weapons

Melee Weapons
Despite the relentless march of science, melee weapons
are still useful adjuncts on the field of battle. They are Other Melee Weapons
silent, cheap, often easily concealed, and much more re- Stun batons are common law enforcement tools. The
liably murderous than firearms or laser weaponry. Its damage they do can drop a target to zero hit points, but
easy to miss a moving target in the adrenaline-fueled will not kill them, the victim awakening in ten minutes
chaos of a firefight. Its much harder to go astray with with one hit point. Stun batons trickle-charge from
a monoblade knife in your fist. normal movement and will not run out of electrical
energy under normal use conditions.
Types of Common Weapons Suit rippers are rods with fractal cutting surfaces
Rather than enumerate every possible type of sharp designed to cripple vacc suit auto-repair routines. Ev-
object and blunt implement that has been used for ery hit with a suit ripper counts as a suit tear on a vacc
death-dealing amid the scattered stars, melee weapons suit-wearing enemy. Unsurprisingly, these weapons
are divided into three classes. are strictly illegal in space environments.
Small weapons are small one-handed implements Unarmed attacks reflect ordinary kicks and punch-
no larger than a baton or knife. These weapons are es. Unarmed attacks always add the attackers Punch
easily concealed in normal clothing, and can even be skill to damage rolls, unlike other weapons. Kinesis
kept Readied up sleeves or in tailored pockets. Many wraps, spiked knuckles, and other small fist weapons
can be thrown at a range up to 10 meters. may be treated as small advanced or primitive weapons
Medium weapons are one-handed swords, axes, that use the Punch skill and add the skill level to their
spears, or other obvious implements of war. While rolled damage, but not to Shock. Such weapons do not
they cant be effectively concealed in anything small- augment a hero with the Unarmed Combatant focus.
er than an enveloping cloak or coat, theyre also more
damaging to an unfortunate victim struck by them, al- Shock
beit theyre somewhat less nimble when the wielder Many melee weapons have a Shock trait represent-
needs to strike at unprotected flesh. Spears and similar ing the danger they pose to an ill-armored opponent.
aerodynamic weapons can be thrown up to 30 meters. Shock damage represents the inevitable cuts, bruises,
Large weapons are two-handed implements of exhaustion, and terror of close combat.
bodily ruin such as claymores, halberds, tetsubos, or Shock damage is only inflicted on a melee target if
other such weapons. Unlike smaller weapons, they the hit roll fails, and it only applies if the target has an
rely largely on Strength for their employ, and can bash AC equal or less than that listed for the Shock.
through lighter forms of armor. Large weapons count Shock damage always includes the wielders attri-
as two encumbrance items. bute modifier and any bonus damage granted by weap-
Aside from their type, weapons are counted as on mods, foci, advanced tech, or other damage bonuses.
primitive or advanced. A primitive weapon is simply An actual hit with a weapon never does less damage
one of ordinary metal or wood, with no high-tech than Shock would otherwise inflict; if the user some-
augmentations. An advanced one has been given a how rolls less damage, use the Shock damage instead.
monoblade edge, kinetic sheathing, thermal wires, a Thus, if you had a Strength score of 14 and were
chainsaw blade, or some other TL4 touch. Primitive swinging an oversized alien battle axe at a target with
weapons are often unable to harm targets in powered AC 13, you would inflict 3 points of damage on a miss;
armor, while advanced weapons can ignore primitive 2 from the weapons Shock, plus 1 from your Strength
plate and hide protections. modifier. If you hit, youd do at least 3 points.

Weapon Damage Shock Attribute Cost Enc. TL


Small primitive weapon 1d4 1 point/AC 15 Str/Dex 0 1 0
Medium primitive weapon 1d6+1 2 points/AC 13 Str/Dex 20 1 0
Large primitive weapon 1d8+1 2 points/AC 15 Str 30 2 0
Small advanced weapon 1d6 1 point/AC 15 Str/Dex 40 1 4
Medium advanced weapon 1d8+1 2 points/AC 13 Str/Dex 60 1 4
Large advanced weapon 1d10+1 2 points/AC 15 Str 80 2 4
Stun baton 1d8 1 point/AC 15 Str/Dex 50 1 4
Suit ripper 1d6 None Str/Dex 75 1 4
Unarmed attack 1d2 None Str/Dex - - -
Heavy Weapons 69

Heavy Weapons
Some weapons are simply too big to be comfortably Evasion saving throw for half damage. Victims within
used without a tripod, fixed support, or vehicle mount- forty meters take half damage, with an Evasion save
ing. Others require specialized training in the use of for none. The charge is sufficient to blow a four-meter
heavy munitions. The weapons listed here all use the wide hole in anything short of a reinforced wall. PCs
Shoot skill to determine hit bonuses, and unless other- with a background in demolitions or Fix-0 skill can
wise noted, all require some sort of support for firing. shape the charge so it directs the blast in only one di-
Energy weapons use Type B power cells. Rocket rection, sparing all but two meters of the rest.
launchers and hydra arrays use missiles as given on the Railguns are simply scaled-up versions of personal
gear tables, while heavy machine guns and wheatcutter mag rifles. They accelerate large metallic slugs along
belts consume large amounts of standard ammunition. the weapons barrel, creating a steady spray of hyper-
Some heavy guns can be fired to suppress. Double velocity rounds. Ammunition sufficient for one round
the usual ammunition is fired in one round, and every of firing costs 50 credits.
target in front of the weapon that is not under hard Anti-vehicle lasers are less useful against soft targets,
cover is automatically hit for half normal damage. A but excel at penetrating vehicle armor. Against vehicles
successful Evasion saving throw eliminates this damage. and other hard-skinned targets, damage is rolled twice
When firing at TL4 military vehicles such as and the better result is used.
gravtanks, mechs, or starship armor, most TL3 Heavy Hydra arrays sequence a number of missile
weapons dont count as Heavy for armor-penetrating launchers to fire at once. The gunner designates up to
purposes. Demo charges and explosives do, however. three targets and can then make three rolls to hit divid-
ed among them. Each successful hit on a target allows
Heavy Weapons the gunner to roll damage once, but only the highest
Heavy machine guns represent a large family of air- or damage roll is applied to the target. Thus, if all three
water-cooled projectile weapons that are usually fed volleys were aimed at a single target and two of them
with belts of linked ammunition. HMGs require a ve- hit, the gunner would roll damage twice and apply the
hicle mounting or emplaced firing position for effective best result. A volley from the array costs 150 credits.
results. An HMG magazine contains enough ammuni- Wheatcutter belts are one of several different an-
tion for 10 rounds of firing, but each round of firing tipersonnel measures often installed on gravtanks and
eats 25 credits worth of projectile ammunition. other fighting vehicles. When triggered, a belt of ex-
Rocket launchers cover a wide variety of man-por- plosives fires off a scything blast of shrapnel on any side
table missile launchers of varying degrees of sophisti- of the vehicle. All creatures within 10 meters of that
cation. The weapons are usually equipped with basic side of the vehicle must make an Evasion save for half
tracking sensors, but are of limited accuracy against hu- damage. Those within 20 meters take half damage, and
man-sized targets. Rocket launchers take a -4 hit penal- can make an Evasion save to take none at all. Wheat-
ty against targets of human size or smaller. Unlike most cutter belts do not ignore a vehicles Armor like other
Heavy weapons, rocket launchers can be shoulder-fired Heavy weapons do. Reloading a wheatcutter belt costs
without a prepared emplacement to support them. 200 credits per round.
Demo Charges are the general run of placed explo- Vortex cannons use controlled gravitic shear planes
sives beloved of terrorists and adventurers the world to cause a target to simply fall apart into component
over. The usual variety can be detonated by radio fragments. The cannons are silent in operation, but so
signals, timers, or electrical charges, and inflict their heavy and complex that they can only be mounted on
damage on any objects within twenty meters, with an gravtanks and other similar dedicated fighting vehicles.

Heavy Weapon Dmg. Range Cost Mag Enc. Attr. TL


Heavy Machine Gun 3d6# 500/2,000 5,000 10 3 Dex 3
Rocket Launcher 3d10 2,000/4,000 4,000 1 2 Dex 3
Demo Charge 3d10 20/40 250 - 1 - 3
Railgun 3d8# 4,000/8,000 8,000 20 * Dex 4
Anti-Vehicle Laser 3d10 2,000/4,000 10,000 15 * Dex 4
Hydra Array 3d6# 4,000/8,000 20,000 10 * Dex 4
Wheatcutter Belt 2d12 10/20 10,000 5 * Dex 4
Vortex Cannon 5d12 1,000/2,000 75,000 5 * Dex 5
# this weapon can fire to suppress
70 General Equipment

Field Equipment Cost Enc. TL


General Equipment Atmofilter 100 1 4
Backpack 5/50 1/* 0/4
Most of the equipment listed here is available on any
TL4 world. Even the TL5 items are among the simpler Binoculars 20/200 1 3/4
and more ubiquitous pretech relics and could likely Climbing harness 50 1 3
be acquired on a sufficiently prosperous world with a Glowbug 5 * 3
good market in Mandate tech. Buying any TL5 equip- Grapnel launcher 200 1 3
ment on the open market is subject to GM approval,
however, and many worlds are flatly ban private own- Grav chute 300/1,000 1 4/5
ership of ancient Mandate technology. Grav harness 5,000 3 5
Some encumbrance entries are marked with an Instapanel 50 1# 4
asterisk. Such items have no significant encumbrance Low-light goggles 200 1 3
and dozens can be carried without hindrance.
Other entries are marked with a hashmark. These Navcomp 500 1 4
objects can be conveniently packed together in a small- Portabox 50 1 4
er, more portable package. Three such objects can be Pressure tent 100 4 3
packed together as a single encumbrance item. For Rations, 1 day 5 1# 1
ammunition, one loaded magazine counts as one item.
Breaking open such a package to get at the contents Rope, 20 meters 4/40 2/1 0/4
takes a Main Action, however, before they can be Scout report 200 * 4
Readied with another Main Action. Survey scanner 250 1 4
Survival kit 60 1 4
Telescoping pole 10 * 4
Thermal flare 5 * 3
Ammo and Power Cost Enc. TL
Trade goods 50 1# 4
Ammo, 20 rounds 10 1# 2
Trade metals 10 1# 4
Ammo, missile 50 1 3
Vacc fresher 400 1 4
Power cell, type A 10 1# 4
Vacc skin 1,000 1 5
Power cell, type B 100 1 4
Vacc suit 100 2 4
Solar recharger 500 3 4
Telekinetic generator 250 2 4 Pharmaceuticals Cost/Dose Enc. TL
Bezoar 200 * 4
Brainwave 1,000 * 5
Communications Cost Enc. TL Hush 200 * 4
Comm server 1,000 3 4 Lift 50 * 4
Compad 100 * 4 Psych 25 * 4
Field radio 200 1 4 Pretech Cosmetic 1,000 * 5
Translator torc 200 * 4 Reverie 100 * 4
Squeal 300 * 4
Tsunami 50 * 4
Computing Gear Cost Enc. TL
Black slab 10,000 1 4 Tools and Medical Cost Enc. TL
Data phase tap 5,000 1 4 Bioscanner 300 1 4
Data protocol 1,000 * 4 Lazarus patch 30 1# 4
Dataslab 300 1 4 Medkit 100 2 4
Line shunt 100 * 4 Metatool 200 1 4
Remote link unit 250 1 4 Spare parts 50 1# 4
Stiletto charge * 1 5 Tailored antiallergens 5 * 4
Storage unit 500 3 4 Toolkit/Postech 300 3 4
Tightbeam link unit 1,000 1 4 Toolkit/Pretech 1,000 1 5
General Equipment 71

Ammo and Power Communications


The finest product of a 33rd-century armory is useless Almost all TL4 worlds have a planetary communica-
if it lacks the bullets or power cells to feed it. For ease tions grid compatible with any standard compad. Some
of play, ammunition can be used interchangeably with planets are less technologically gifted, however, or have
any projectile weapon. Power cells are designed along local conditions that preclude easy wireless commu-
Mandate-era lines that allow for easy compatibility nication. Other times, the PCs have reason to avoid
among devices from different worlds. leaving call logs that might come back to haunt them.

Ammunition: A few worlds are too primitive or too Comm server: A powerful base unit for providing com-
resource-poor to manufacture ammunition, but munications without comsats. The server pro-
the vast majority of worlds provide cartridges in vides service between up to three dozen compads
almost every conceivable caliber and make. Most within 300 kilometers of the unit. Server usage
local gunsmiths can load ammunition to any spec- can be locked to specific compads, and all trans-
ification required by a buyer. missions are heavily encrypted. A comm server
Ammunition, missile: Some characters might have rea- can function for several months on a type B cell.
son to pack along a man-portable rocket launcher, Compad: One of a host of different hand-held portable
or have one mounted on their favorite gravcar. communications devices. Most TL4 worlds have
Heavy weapons and their ammunition are usually global comm coverage, but primitive worlds ren-
outlawed for civilians on most worlds, but this der these devices useless without a nearby comm
price is for locales where missiles can be bought. server to provide connectivity.
Power cells: One of the few standardized artifacts in- Field Radio: On worlds too primitive to have a comm
herited from before the Silence, power cells are grid, adventurers often fall back on these head-
small cylindrical objects designed to take and hold set-mounted field radios. A single type A cell
electrical charges. Type A cells are usually used for powers them for months of use. Urban or rugged
personal equipment, and the larger type B cells terrain limits their range to about two kilometers,
for vehicles and heavy gear. The engineering for while flat plains give a maximum range of thir-
the cells is substantially different, and they cannot ty kilometers. Someone with at least Program-0
be exchanged or recharge each other without a skill can use the radios shortwave functionality
trained techs modifications or a converter unit. to communicate with a prepared target at conti-
Power cells can be recharged off a ships power nental distances if given ten minutes for tuning.
plant or other grid. Recharging requires 30 min- Translator torc: Each translator torc is keyed for two
utes for a type A cell or 24 hours for a type B cell. languages, and will automatically translate what it
Solar recharger: This recharger unfolds into a 2 meter hears in one into speech in the other. The trans-
by 2 meter square field of solar cells. Granted a lations are eccentric in many cases, and there is
primary star of roughly Earth-like intensity, it can always a several-second delay between each state-
recharge one type A power cell per day. ment and its translation. Any attempts to exert
Telekinetic generator: While this device assumes the social skills or Charisma through a translator torc
presence of a trained telekinetic, it isnt strictly suffer a -2 skill check penalty. The torc is powered
psitech, as its operation is quite simple. A teleki- by one type A power cell, which lasts for one week
netic user pushes a resistance bar within the gen- of regular use.
erator, causing a flow of electricity to recharge an
attached power cell. Any telekinetic with Teleki-
nesis-1 skill or better can recharge a cell with fif-
teen minutes of concentration. In an emergency, a
character with at least Strength 10 can operate the
generator manually, though they need to succeed
on a difficulty 8 Con/Exert skill check in order to
keep up the pace for an hour. Failure means that
the character must rest for at least an hour before
trying again. The generator can charge one type
A power cell at a time.
72 General Equipment

Computing Gear Stiletto charge: These ancient Mandate-era polymor-


Computing devices are ubiquitous on most TL4 worlds, phic intrusion charges were originally made to al-
though not all of them have the kind of planetary net- low Mandate agents to easily overcome primitive
work known on 21st century Terra. Would-be hackers colonial data security measures. Each charge is a
often find it necessary to take a very personal hand in small interface plug the size of a human thumb.
breaching site security. When used as part of a hack against a TL4 system,
it causes the skill check to automatically succeed
Black slab: While a black slab appears to be a normal regardless of the difficulty. Without line shunts,
dataslab to casual examination, these devices are however, the duration of the hack is still no more
packed with intrusion-optimization hardware than the usual 1d4 rounds plus the hackers Pro-
and integral line tapping tools. They function as gram skill. These devices are single-use, and are
a metatool for purposes of accessing data lines and prized so highly that they are almost always un-
grant a +1 bonus to all hacking attempts made available for conventional purchase. Favors to the
with them. They are also quite illegal on most right people and the looting of Mandate remnants
worlds, available only from black market dealers are the only normal ways to acquire these devices.
and private sales from hackers. Storage unit: While conventional dataslabs have am-
Data phase tap: This handheld device is normally illegal ple space to hold any reasonable amount of data,
outside the possession of licensed data line repair sometimes a party needs to store or acquire a truly
technicians. The tap can detect data lines with- huge dataset. This standard TL4 storage unit is a
in five meters through up to ten centimeters of portable but clumsy case hardened against any-
ordinary walls, and can generate an energy ma- thing short of intentional damage with a firearm,
nipulation field that allows tapping that data line capable of interfacing with a wide variety of hard-
for hacking purposes without physically damaging ware to receive and upload data. A single storage
the wall. unit can hold a tremendous amount of data that
Data protocol: Not so much a device as a collection of has been carefully compressed and optimized for
standard manuals on a worlds particular data for- it. If the user is simply ripping a database off a
mats and security methodologies. The price list- network and stuffing it into the unit, it can absorb
ed here are for black-market manuals on worlds up to a small corporations complete files.
where this information is rigidly restricted. On Tightbeam link unit: Much like a remote link unit, a
less paranoid planets, the equivalent information tightbeam unit uses a laser to connect via line-
can be acquired for free. of-sight transmission. Unlike a remote link unit,
Dataslab: A palm-sized computing device that can un- theres almost no chance for a conventional secu-
fold into a thin slab roughly one-third of a meter rity system to detect this link, but it requires that
on a side. It can perform all the functions of a com- the infiltrators get a clear line of sight between
pad or handheld computer and can communicate the unit and the receiving end. Commercial satel-
wirelessly with nearby devices. lite reception units can be employed for skyward
Line shunt: These palm-sized discs are roughly one cen- aiming at 500 credits/hour if a second land unit is
timeter in thickness, with an adhesive side that unavailable, but indoor use is impossible.
will stick to virtually anything and a polychromat-
ic phased compound on its shell which will shift
color to blend with its surroundings. One or more
Foreign Protocols
line shunts must be applied at specific locations Most surviving human worlds continue to use a
within a site to access the more well-defended va- basic Mandate-derived communications protocol
rieties of computerized systems. Shunts employ that ensures a minimal level of compatibility be-
phased energy manipulation tech, and so do not tween hardware from different worlds. While the
need to be directly in contact with a data line but performance may not be ideal, tech purchased on
only within a few centimeters. Line shunts are one world should still be able to interface with the
single-use, and keep functioning until removed. local tech on a different planet.
Remote link unit: These data broadcast link units have Even so, a few worlds of a more xenophobic
been preloaded with one-time pad security mea- or isolated nature intentionally abandon this stan-
sures, advanced stealth circuitry, and sophisticated dard protocol in favor of their own. PC hardware
data progression algorithms. Two of these links on these worlds will not communicate with the
can allow a user to maintain contact with a remote local grid unless a PC with Program or Fix skills
data storage unit. The connection is too stiff to has a chance to reset the protocols to something
allow for easy hacking, however, and it applies a compatible with local conditions. Such work usu-
-2 penalty to any attempts to hack through it. Pro- ally takes at least a day to adjust all the gear the
fessional-grade security systems often have means group might possess.
to detect the broadcast of a remote link unit.
General Equipment 73

Pharmaceuticals Pretech Cosmetic (None): Before the Silence stims ex-


Modern pharmaceuticals are usually applied as stims; isted for a host of cosmetic, hygiene, and health
small capsules that are pressed against the targets skin purposes. While these effects are trivial, the basic
for application. While a wide variety of common over- pretech stim substrate also works to heal 1d6 lost
the-counter stims are available, the ones listed below hit points in the user at a cost of 1 System Strain.
are some particularly likely to be useful to adventurers. Psych (None): A military drug duplicated in rougher
Many medical stims require a minimum level in the form by many street chemists, Psych fills the user
Heal skill to successfully apply them, while others add with an intense sense of confidence and reck-
System Strain to the target as described on page 32. If a less courage. Unfortunately, it also cripples their
subjects System Strain is too high already, the stim has judgment regarding danger. A person affected by
no positive effect. Some of the combat stims below are Psych immediately gains a Morale score of 12 and
usually illegal for civilian possession, but street sources a +1 bonus on all skill checks, but will ignore cover
are available at the prices given. during combat and cannot decide not to attempt a
Modern vacc suits and powered armor have med- skill check after learning its difficulty. The effect
ical ports that allow for applying stims and other med- lasts fifteen minutes, adds 1 System Strain to the
ical treatment without removing the suit. user, and is highly psychologically addictive.
Reverie (Heal-1): This very dangerous combat drug
Bezoar (Heal-1): A complex antibiotic cocktail, Bezoar completely subdues the subjects fear centers and
is an effective default treatment for a wide variety adrenaline production, leaving them perfect-
of infectious diseases. When applied to a suffer- ly calm and relaxed even in the midst of mortal
er, roll 1d6; on a 1, this victim cannot be helped danger. Their reaction speed is much slower as a
by Bezoar, while otherwise the affliction is cured consequence, and they may act only on even-num-
within 24 hours. Each application of Bezoar adds bered combat rounds; so on the second, fourth,
1 System Strain to the target, and it cannot cure and sixth rounds and so forth. Any damage they
cancers, bioweapons, or congenital diseases. suffer is doubled as well due to their lack of vigi-
Brainwave (Heal-2): This psitech drug requires ad- lance. Their perfect calm allows them to shoot as
vanced TL5 facilities to compound, and the few if on the target range, however, and they can make
remaining doses from pre-Silence periods are Dex/Shoot skill checks to hit a target instead of
rarely available on the open market. Application hit rolls; the difficulty is 7 at point blank, 9 at nor-
of Brainwave gives a psychic 2 extra maximum mal ranges, and 11 at long ranges for the weapon.
Effort for one hour. At the end of that hour, they The targets Armor Class is ignored. Melee attacks
suffer 4 points of System Strain. If their Strain is made under Reverie always hit. Reverie lasts for
maximized by this, they go unconscious for one ten minutes and adds 2 System Strain to the target.
hour. Only one dose can be active at a time. Squeal (Heal-1): This truth serum is unreliable but still
Hush (Heal-0): An extremely heavy neurotranquilizer, one of the best available options for field interro-
Hush leaves the subject awake and responsive to gations. The subject must be immobilized or will-
simple, untaxing commands. They cannot fight ing to be affected by it. For five minutes afterwards
or communicate while affected by Hush, but will they will be unable to avoid answering questions
walk, eat, sit, and perform simple actions as di- about facts known to them; they will be unable
rected by the last person to speak to them. A Hush to exercise anything resembling a hypothesis or a
dose lasts for an hour plus three per Heal level of judgment, but they will answer specific questions
the person applying the stim, and the subject re- about facts known to them truthfully. Unwilling
tains no memories while under the effect. A sub- victims can attempt a Physical saving throw; on
ject must be immobilized or willing to be affected a success, they can simply refuse to speak about
by Hush; violent physical movement immediately one particular topic of their choice. Targets pass
after application disrupts the neurological effects. out for 1d6 hours after the drug wears off and are
Lift (Heal-0): A Lift stim augments and amplifies the immune to it for a week thereafter.
bodys natural response to physical injury and ex- Tsunami (Heal-1): An emergency combat stim used to
haustion. This boost speeds natural recovery dras- juice certain expendable soldiers before an assault,
tically and heals 1d8 plus the users Heal skill in Tsunami fills them with a reckless disregard for
hit points after five minutes of rest. Lift stims do pain and an intense aggressiveness. The short
not work on PCs who are mortally wounded; they effect duration and difficult application limits its
need to be stabilized before the Lift can help them, wider use, however. Subjects gain a Morale score
though application to a stabilized target will get of 12, 10 extra hit points for ten minutes and a +2
them back on their feet and active again. Each ap- bonus on all hit rolls. At the end of the duration,
plication adds 1 System Strain to the target. Each they immediately lose those 10 hit points, which
additional application of Lift to a target the same may leave them mortally wounded. Each applica-
day increases the minimum Heal skill needed by 1. tion adds 2 System Strain to the target.
74 General Equipment

Tools and Medical Gear to fix a damaged object, severely broken devices
While a skilled technician or expert physician can may need replacement parts. Rather than keep a
make do with improvised tools scrounged from their catalog of bits and pieces, a technician can simply
surroundings, most adventurers prefer to be bet- bring along one or more units of spare parts, sub-
ter-equipped to face unavoidable perils. Most of these tracting one whenever the GM decides that a re-
tools and medical supplies are available on any TL4 pair effort requires more than existing salvage can
world, though pretech toolkits usually require excellent support. A unit of spare parts can also be used to
personal contacts to obtain. jury-rig some basic, uncomplicated tool or weap-
on from the equipment list with ten or fifteen
Bioscanner: While an untrained user can use this tool to minutes of assembly and at least Fix-0 skill. Such
discern internal bleeding, gross physical distress, bodged devices rarely last longer than one scene.
or toxins in a plant or animal, it requires Heal-0 Tailored Antiallergens: A dose of tailored antiallergens
skill to use this tool to its fullest. Such operators can be used to render a local worlds organics large-
can use the bioscanner for a full spectrum of di- ly edible by humans and its atmosphere breathable
agnosis and DNA sequencing achievable in min- without severe allergic reactions. While many
utes. One type A power cell will power it for up worlds have been seeded with Terran life forms or
to twenty-four hours of regular usage. have produced organics that are edible by humans,
Lazarus patch: A vital tool for adventurers, the lazarus others are toxic without the appropriate chemical
patch is a heavy compress laced with antibiotics, augmentation. A dose of these antiallergens lasts
coagulants, system stabilizers, plasma, and a one- for twenty-four hours.
shot diagnostic suite. If the patch is applied to a Toolkits: Containing a wide range of necessary tools for
character that has fallen to 0 hit points, the user a particular skill set, toolkits can handle almost
can make an Int/Heal or Dex/Heal skill check any job that doesnt require a full-scale shop or lab.
against difficulty 6 to stabilize the subject. The A standard postech toolkit can handle electronics,
more time between injury and application, the less small welding jobs, and basic repair on ordinary
chance the patch has to work. Each round after TL4 goods. More sophisticated pretech tools are
the first, an additional -1 penalty is applied to the necessary for working on advanced TL5 artifacts,
skill check. The patch is no use after six rounds. If and the tools themselves are very rare and difficult
the medic fails the first skill check, they can keep to obtain.
trying the check once per round until the victim
is revived or time runs out. Building New Tech
Lazarus patches are no use on victims that
have died of disease, poison, or have been man- In a science-fiction game, its often difficult to fig-
gled beyond surgical repair by Heavy weapons or ure out the limits of ad-hoc tech. When the limits
similar trauma. Only one patch can be applied to of technology often seem to be based on genre
a victim. Revived victims are critically wounded rather than physics it can be tough to make the call.
until sufficient medical help has been tendered; Most of the time, its simply not practical for
see the Systems chapter for details. a technician to devise dramatic new tech without
Medkit: Containing a broad supply of pharmaceuti- the use of a full-scale research facility.
cals, spray bandages, glue sutures, and a succinct Even so, sometimes a PC will ask to build
handbook of injury care, the medkit is designed something that creates a particular effect that
for handling sudden and drastic injuries. It also seems in line with other gear of a similar tech level.
contains all the necessary tools for providing A hologram-emitting grenade, a jury-rigged set
long-term recuperative care for critically injured of infrared goggles, an explosive that detonates if
characters. After each day of granting long-term background radiation drops below a certain level
recuperative care, roll 2d6 per patient treated; on these things match known TL4 tech.
a 12, the kit has run out of some vital pharmaceu- In these cases, the GM should set a plausi-
tical and has become useless. ble-seeming price in credits or spare part units,
Metatool: This wrist-mounted housing contains a myr- assign a time ranging from fifteen minutes to a
iad of small, useful tools designed to handle the month based on the complexity of the tech, and
widest possible range of technical needs. While roll a secret Int/Fix check against a difficulty from
a metatool is too limited to handle major jobs, it 8 to 12. When the tech is actually used, the skill
is usually sufficient to manage jury-rigged repairs check determines whether it functions or not.
and temporary fixes until the tech has time to ap- Most such jury-rigged tech works only once,
ply a larger wrench to the problem. being too fragile or quirky to last more than a
Spare parts: This is a general category for a number scene. Repeated refinement and testing may allow
of small TL4 components and repair materials. for a more lasting piece of equipment.
While a simple toolkit or metatool is often enough
General Equipment 75

Field Equipment cubes side, it immediately expands to an opaque,


When venturing into the trackless void every adven- waterproof ceraplast sheet 2 meters on each side
turer is going to need the right hardware to survive and a centimeter thick. Five minutes later the cer-
the experience. The field equipment in this section in- aplast hardens into a tough, rigid shape, but until
cludes some of the more common technology favored then it can be folded or bent by hand. Instapanels
by explorers and fearless investigators of alien worlds. can be bonded to one another with a metatool or a
The TL5 equipment listed here can usually be found for toolkit. Breaking an instapanel requires inflicting
sale on populous worlds with an active commerce in at least twelve points of damage on it.
pretech relics, but smaller or more backwards worlds Low-light goggles: These goggles provide a mono-
may not have any of it available. chrome but serviceable view out to the wearers
normal visual distance, provided that there is any
Atmofilter: This face mask can filter out most atmo- illumination available at all. A type A power cell
spheric toxins. Attaching a standard vacc suit ox- will operate these goggles for a week.
ygen bottle to a belt-mounted feed will also supply Navcomp: A combination of low-tech compasses, au-
a breathable atmosphere for up to six hours. tomappers, astronomic charts, and gyroscopes
Backpack: TL4 versions of this item are effectively packed into a flat, one-kilo case. A character with
without encumbrance, albeit they cost 50 credits. a navcomp will never get lost on worlds with GPS
A worn backpack counts as a readied item, though satellites. They can also make a crude but service-
objects stowed inside it still require the usual able automatic map of all buildings or landscapes
round to dig free. Characters without backpacks they travel through. Other terrestrial navigation
or similar carrying devices might have difficulty skill checks are made at a +1 bonus.
justifying the hauling of large amounts of gear. Portabox: A small cube of ceraplast attached to an elec-
Binoculars: Standard 7x50 binoculars. TL4 versions are tronic keycard. When a type A power cell is in-
available that have integral low-light optics and serted, the portabox immediately unfolds into a
up to 25x150 power. TL 4 binocs cost 200 credits rigid locker with 1.5 x 1 x 1 meter dimensions.
and require a type A power cell for up to a week The portabox is air-tight and has a simple elec-
of regular usage. tronic lock which can only be opened with the
Climbing harness: A collection of straps, ropes, pitons, keycard or a successful difficulty 8 Sneak or Fix
and other climbing aids that grant a +1 bonus on skill check. Failing the check will cause the lock
any Exert climbing skill test. Using a climbing to short-circuit and seal the box until it can be cut
harness is noisy, and any Sneak skill checks while open with a metatool or broken open with twenty
climbing with one suffer a -2 penalty. points of damage.
Glowbug: A palm-sized disc that can adhere to any Pressure tent: This tent maintains a breathable atmo-
non-porous surface. When turned on, it emits sphere, tolerable temperature and serviceable
a white light, illuminating everything within ten sleeping quarters for up to five very friendly oc-
meters for twenty-four hours. A hundred glow- cupants. Advanced filtration and cracking tech
bugs can be recharged off a single type A cell. allows a single standard vacc suit oxygen tank to
Grapnel launcher: This launcher fires a rope up to for- provide breathable air for the occupants for up to
ty meters. The rope can bear up to a metric ton 24 hours. The tent requires a type A power cell for
of weight, though extremely heavy weights or a each day in which this filter is employed.
precarious hit can cause the grapnel to pull free. A Rations: Dried or otherwise preserved foodstuffs suffi-
Type A power cell fuels six shots from a launcher. cient for one day. If water is not otherwise avail-
Grav chute: When this cylinder is strapped to a person able, add another items worth of encumbrance
or object and activated, it smoothly modulates fall- for the water necessary for a persons daily needs.
ing speeds for up to 1000 meters. The chute can Rope: Light and sturdy. A metatool can be used to cut
safely slow up to 300 kilos of weight. TL5 versions and join the synthetics used in TL4 rope, which
can operate from orbital heights and cost 1,000 counts as one encumbrance item per 40 meters
credits, where they can be found at all. Both ver- and costs 40 credits.
sions burn out after one use. Scout report: A collation of survey scans and merchant
Grav harness: This advanced gravitic harness allows reports on a particular lost world or isolated col-
clumsy flight at a rate of 20 meters per round as ony. Scouting reports are available for all but the
a Main Action. It requires a Type B power cell most unknown worlds and provide maps, basic
to fuel it, and the miniaturized electronics are information, and note any critical cultural taboos.
rapacious, consuming the cell in five minutes of Survey scanner: A multipurpose scanner that can take
operation. It can lift up to 200 kilos. atmospheric and gravitic readings, provide basic
Instapanel: In its compressed form, an instapanel is a chemical analysis of samples of up to one cubic
two-kilo cube of ceraplast five centimeters on a centimeter in size, and record up to two hun-
side. When a type A power cell is inserted in the dred hours of video information or ten times that
76 General Equipment

amount of audio. Know skill checks are necessary


for any but the most basic analysis. Local Brands
Survival kit: A standard belt-worn kit with fire lighter, The equipment described in this section matches
water filter, three thermal flares, knife, thermal standard TL4 hardware from the average modern
blanket, a brightly-colored 3 x 3 meter waterproof space-faring world. A PC who buys a generic vacc
tarp, a glowbug, and a radio beacon that can trans- suit can expect it to work the way its listed here.
mit a distress signal up to fifty kilometers for one Not all worlds have identical tech, however,
month on the included type A power cell. Survival even if they share a tech level. Planets with par-
kits sold on a particular world will usually also in- ticular natural hazards or technological focuses of-
clude a small booklet on specific dangers or edible ten have significantly better tech for dealing with
organics. Possession of a survival kit grants a +1 to these things than their neighbors, while worlds
all relevant Survive skill checks, assuming its con- that lack vital resources or industrial infrastruc-
tents are helpful on a given planet. Survival kits ture might have considerably worse gear.
are well-organized, and count as only one item for As the GM, dont hesitate to brew up local
encumbrance purposes. tech that can be used as a reward for PCs or a
Telescoping pole: Retracting to a 30-centimeter baton, special buying opportunity. The gear might grant
this pole extends and locks into a 3.048-meter skill bonuses, function longer, do more damage,
extension that can bear as much as a thousand have an AC bonus, or offer some other perk. Such
kilograms of weight or serve as a makeshift club. unique hardware can add flavor to a worlds tech.
Thermal flare: If triggered in one mode, the flare burns
with a bright white light for two hours, illuminat-
ing up to twenty meters around the holder. If the Vacc suit: The standard TL4 vacc suit is designed to
guidance fins are extended first, the flare launches allow the wearer to survive in both hard vacu-
up to 200 meters and explodes in a bright white um and on most inhospitable planetary surfaces.
flash. A launched flare does 1d6 damage to anyone The suit protects against ordinary levels of cosmic
it hits, though the clumsy flight gives a -4 penalty radiation and provides a temperature-controlled
on any attempts to hit something with it. atmosphere. Vacc suits are equipped with radios
Trade goods: Glowbugs, ceramic fire lighters, anti- that have a ten-kilometer range. A vacc suit ox-
biotics, ceraplast tools, and the other fruits of a ygen tank weighs 1 encumbrance, included with
TL4 civilization that might be valuable on more the weight of the suit, and functions for six hours.
primitive worlds. A kilo of trade goods can usually Vacc suits are cumbersome, and apply a -2
be traded for at least a hundred credits worth of penalty to all hit rolls and skill checks that re-
local products on more primitive worlds that are quire movement. Those with at least a month of
not well-served by interstellar merchants. The zero-gee experience can ignore this penalty. No
profit margin shrinks rapidly as interstellar trade armor can be worn with a vacc suit, though the
becomes more common, and there is always the suit itself grants AC 13 to its wearers. A vacc suit
difficulty of finding local products that are actually requires one type A power cell for each twelve
worth a merchants journey. hours of operation.
Trade metals: The fruit of common TL4 asteroid min- Vacc suits have a self-healing exterior that
ing, trade metals include gold, platinum, artificial can seal the puncture wounds caused by bullets,
gemstones, and other substances precious on arrows, or energy beams, but a strike from an
many lost worlds and trivially valuable on space- edged weapon can overwhelm the repair system.
faring ones. A kilo worth of trade metals can If a character with 10 or fewer hit points is struck
be exchanged for as much as a thousand credits by an edged weapon, there is a 50% chance the suit
worth of local products on metal-poor worlds iso- is torn. Suits are equipped with emergency repair
lated from interstellar trade. Markets flood rapidly, patches, but it requires a Main Action to apply one.
however, and it usually doesnt take more than a Exposure to vacuum is described on page 58.
few merchant trips to persuade the locals to de- Vacc skin: A more advanced TL5 version of the vacc
mand trade goods or credits. suit, this skin-tight suit can be worn as a readied
Vacc fresher: This three-kilo tube filters and compress- item in conjunction with armor, though it grants
es atmosphere to refill vacc suit oxygen tanks. It no Armor Class bonus itself. It requires no ox-
can extract oxygen from any atmosphere which ygen tank, automatically cracking and recycling
contains it, even in the form of carbon dioxide. the wearers respiration, and can even recycle the
Refilling a standard vacc suit tank requires ten wearers bodily waste into drinkable water if nec-
minutes of operation and consumes one type A essary. Vacc skins apply no penalty to hit rolls or
power cell. Most vacc freshers are also equipped skill checks for wearers. It suffers tears in the same
with an emergency hand crank power source, way as a normal vacc suit, and requires a type A
though it requires at least two hours of cranking. power cell for each 24 hours of operation.
Lifestyles, Employees, and Services 77

Lifestyles, Employees, and Services


Adventurers who spend much time in a place are likely
Lifestyle Cost/day
to need to buy food, shelter, and the usual trifles of
daily living. Rather than itemize each expense, a PC Slum 5
can simply spend an fixed amount for each day they Poor 10
spend living outside of a ships crew, barracks, or other Common 15
arranged living situation.
Good 25
Slum lifestyles reflect bare minimums for survival,
with scanty food, a corner in a squat somewhere, and Elite 200
little else. Poor lifestyles involve barracks-like quarters, Peerless 1,000
public transport, and small and infrequent luxuries.
Common lifestyles usually allow for a private urban personal staff, and similar perks. Peerless lifestyles are
apartment or rural home, a rented personal vehicle, a similar to that of pampered celebrities and oligarchs,
respectable wardrobe, and regular small indulgences. with round-the-clock staff service, free entrance into
Good lifestyles permit a private urban townhouse or the most exclusive locales, and the best of everything.
similar dwelling, a spacious rural home, a better grade Prices given here assume short-term rentals and
of personal vehicle, and the ability to indulge in minor contracts, plus the inevitable premium charged to out-
expenses such as restaurants or clubs without concern. siders in almost any society. Natives might be able to
Elite lifestyles allow for entire floors of luxury buildings enjoy a given level of lifestyle for only half as much,
or rented rural estates, drivers and on-call gravflyers, but such savings usually rely on a locals connections.

PCs will sometimes need to hire help, and GMs occa- Employee Wage/day
sionally need to know what constitutes a good wage Artist 3/10/100
for a local NPC. The prices to the right reflect daily Programmer 10/30/100
wages for NPCs with level-0, level-1, and level-2 skill
ratings in their relevant professional skills. More tal- Doctor 50/100/400
ented employees cannot normally be obtained without Guard 10/20/150
special effort in finding and recruiting them. Lawyer 10/25/400
Psychics are both rare and expensive to hire. Even Prostitute 2/10/200
if one can be found, they rarely charge less than 200
credits per day per psychic skill level to be employed. Psychic Special
Employees will carry out ordinary duties without Scientist 10/30/100
demur, but will be no braver or more dedicated than Technician 10/30/100
their pay and connections would make them. Unskilled Labor 2/8/15

Adventurers often need to obtain certain services or Service Cost


concessions from the locals, and the list to the right
provides prices for some of their more common needs. Bribe, minor crime forgiveness 50
Bribe prices often vary depending on a planets Bribe, major crime forgiveness 500
general level of corruption, but the prices here are nor- Bribe, capital crime forgiveness 5,000
mal for most. Minor crimes usually involve anything Forged identity papers 500
that would only earn a fine or a few months in jail.
Major crimes include most felonies and anything that Intensive medical care 200/day
would earn years in prison. Capital crimes are any that Mail message, interstellar 1/hex
would get a culprit executed on the world. Particular- Mass transit weekly pass 2
ly blatant or sensitive offenses might be impossible to Rent a TL4 workshop 100/day
solve with mere bribery, though the right special fa-
vors to the right officials might win a reprieve. Rent a groundcar 15/day
Forged identity papers include high-quality docu- Starship passage, steerage 500/hex
mentation with the appropriate false database entries. Starship passage, good 1,000/hex
Theyre good enough to survive checkpoints and secu- Starship cargo shipping, per kilo 25/hex
rity stops, but they wont hold up to a serious check by
a suspicious bureaucrat. Wildly decadent party 100/person
78 Vehicles

Vehicles
Most modern TL4 worlds rely on electrically-powered Actually hitting the vehicle is automatic if the
gravitic vehicles. Whether in the ubiquitous gravcar, vehicle is stationary and within 30 feet. Hitting a ve-
hovercycle, or high-altitude gravflyer, cleared road- hicle-sized target from beyond that range requires an
ways carry the traffic of countless worlds. On rougher attack against AC 10. If the target is moving, subtract
worlds, the roads may not even be paved, instead rely- its Speed from the hit roll, and if the attacker is in a
ing on a gravitic vehicles high clearance to avoid holes moving vehicle as well, also subtract their Speed.
and rough debris. Hit Points indicate the amount of damage a vehicle
Less sophisticated worlds are still reliant on inter- can take before it is destroyed. Speed is reduced by half
nal-combustion engines. Many worlds have sufficient when the vehicle is at half hit points, and flying vehicles
local resources to fabricate some kind of combustible must land at the first opportunity. A vehicle reduced to
fuel, but a few are so impoverished that they lack even zero hit points forces all crew and passengers to make
this minimal resource. Such worlds must rely on mus- Physical saving throws. Failure means that the passen-
cle power for transport, either that of alien beasts or ger takes the vehicles maximum hit points in damage,
humble human porters. while success reduces the damage by half.
Crew gives the maximum number of vehicle occu-
Vehicle Statistics and Combat pants. For the listed vehicles, only one crew member is
Vehicles are generally powered by type B power cells on actually necessary to drive or pilot the vehicle, though
TL4 worlds. More primitive planets are usually forced additional crew members may be required to fire.
to use some form of biofuel unless theyre fortunate Tonnage is the shipping weight of the vehicle for
enough to have a supply of fossil fuels. Vehicles require ship loading purposes.
one cell or one refueling per six hours of operation, Tech Level indicates the minimum tech level for
assuming they dont have convenient power access. constructing the vehicle. Vehicles can be built at higher
Vehicles are generally limited to reasonably flat, tech levels for better performance, but most worlds
dry terrain. Grav vehicles such as hovercycles can ig- prefer to simply build more advanced vehicles.
nore rough terrain and calm water, as can ATV explor-
ers. Most grav vehicles can boost more than 10 meters Vehicle Weaponry
above the ground or water; gravflyers are purpose-de- Most vehicles larger than a motorcycle or hovercycle
signed aircraft capable of hovering and VTOL. can mount some kind of integral weapon. Groundcars
Speed is an abstract measure of the vehicles speed and gravcars can mount one weapon, while ATVs,
and agility. When vehicles chase each other, the op- helicopters, atmoflyers, and gravflyers can mount two.
posing vehicles Speed should be applied as a penalty Gravtanks are specialized weapons platforms, and can
to Pilot skill checks to close or escape. Speed may also mount six.
be used as a modifier when attempting difficult maneu- Heavy weapons take up more space than ordinary
vers or trying to avoid a peril on the road. ranged weapons, and each such system takes up the
Armor is subtracted from all weapon damage done space of two lesser guns.
to the vehicle. Armor does not apply to damage done Every weapon requires its own gunner, and all
by Heavy weaponry; such guns are often designed to mounted weapons use Shoot as the firing skill, though
take out vehicles. Gravtanks in particular are immune the GM might allow Pilot to be used for a nose-mount-
to anything short of TL4 Heavy weapons, while less ed weapon aimed by the operator. Gravtanks are
sophisticated tanks are immune to anything below TL3 equipped with advanced targeting systems, and all of
Heavy ordnance. their weapons can be targeted and fired by one gunner.

Vehicle Cost Speed Armor HP Crew Tonnage TL


Motorcycle 1,000 1 4 10 1 1 3
Groundcar 5,000 0 6 30 5 10 3
Hovercycle 5,000 2 3 10 1 1 4
Gravcar 20,000 2 4 25 5 10 4
ATV Explorer 15,000 0 8 40 8 25 3
Helicopter 25,000 3 6 20 6 50 3
Atmoflyer 30,000 4 8 25 6 50 3
Gravflyer 40,000 5 8 25 6 50 4
Gravtank 200,000 2 Special 50 3 50 5
Vehicles 79

Types of Vehicles terrain as easily as a grav vehicle, theyre designed


Every world has its own brands of common vehicles, to take a tremendous amount of punishment before
but the types below cover the more usual models. The breaking down and support repairs using basic tools
prices given for each reflect a mid-range new vehicle and frontier expedients.
sold to a PC with few local contacts. Natives who know Helicopters are used on TL3 worlds where a lack
the right people or are willing to buy used or quirky of airfields or treacherous local terrain prohibits the
vehicles might be able to get one at half that price. use of fixed-wing craft. Their ability to hover over an
area or drop onto a tightly-constrained landing zone
Motorcycles can navigate urban terrain that would makes them particular favorites of quick-response mili-
block larger vehicles, but more rural landscapes can tary forces and groups in need of fast fire support. This
prove more difficult. Hovercycles are the TL4 equiva- model represents a medium-weight civilian craft that
lent, capable of brief boosts of up to 10 meters above might be repurposed by militia or adventurers.
the ground and the easy navigation of all but thick for- Atmoflyers are the fixed-wing aircraft used on
ests or sheer slopes. planets too primitive to have developed gravitic tech-
Groundcars are the TL3 analogs of the vehicles nology. Faster and simpler to maintain than compara-
commonly in use on 21st-century Earth, allowing for ble helicopters, they can also carry more cargo on most
some minor variations in electronics and capabilities. worlds. The need for clear, hard terrain for landing and
Primitive buggies of various kinds are found even on take-off limit their use on some rugged worlds. The
higher-tech worlds, thanks to their ease of construction model here is meant to represent a small personal jet.
and maintenance compared to the delicate gravitics of Gravflyers are the usual long-distance transport
more modern vehicles. on most TL4 worlds. Large enough to support the gra-
Gravcars are the standard personal vehicles of vitics required for true flight, a few models can even
most TL4 worlds, though most lower-class citizens reach low orbit. All can hover and climb with typical
rely on public transport in urban areas. Most advanced gravitic ease. This particular gravflyer is a small craft
worlds have planetary transit grids that allow occu- suitable for a affluent owner and their family.
pants to simply code in a destination and let the car take Gravtanks make up the bulk of a prosperous TL4
them there. On worlds where a lack of infrastructure worlds armored forces. Private ownership is strictly
or hostile local conditions preclude such convenience, forbidden on most worlds, but export models often
manual controls and Pilot skill can be used. can be acquired for transport offworld. Gravtanks have
ATV Explorers are rugged vehicles, either wheeled armor heavy enough to ignore all damage from con-
or tracked, and driven by type B power cells or local- ventional small arms, and can only be harmed by Heavy
ly-available biofuels. While they cant navigate rough weapons or properly-placed demolitions charges.
80 Drones

Drones
In the far future, its often more convenient to send
an expendable grav-flying probe into danger before Drone Types and Statistics
venturing less repairable assets. Well-prepared adven- Each drone has a cost, a maximum number of fittings,
turing groups often have reason to pack along a drone an Encumbrance weight for carrying it along, a hit
or two for exploring and aerial recon. point rating, a maximum control range, and a mini-
Military use of drones is limited by the ubiquitous mum tech level. Drones may be attacked as any other
use of quantum ECM. The easy confusion of electronic object and will crash once reduced to zero hit points.
navigation makes it impossible to control an unwired Primitive drones represent the best flying portable
drone remotely on a modern battlefield or in proximity drone technology for TL3 worlds. While fragile, weak,
to important civil structures, but in the alien wilds or and short-ranged, they are also relatively cheap.
away from urban centers, drones remain a feasible tool Void Hawks are unique in being built specifical-
for explorers and conquerors of primitive militaries. ly for deep-space use. Unlike other drones, they can
operate perfectly well in space, though they only have
Piloting a Drone the range to reach relatively adjacent ships or objects.
Piloting a drone requires either a cybernetic drone con- Stalker drones are the default TL4 workhorses of
trol link as described on page 83 or a handheld control drone-kind and are available on most modern worlds.
unit that comes with the drone. A control link can pilot Cuttlefish are specifically designed for aqueous use,
up to one drone plus the users Program skill at any and function only in a liquid medium. The support of
one time. Handheld units can pilot only one. Drones the liquid allows them to carry significantly more fit-
consume one type A power cell for every hour of use. tings, but the need for a sonar-based navigation system
A pilot must spend their Main Action each round limits their available range.
to command the drone to either move or shoot. Un- Ghostwalkers are stealth drones, fabricated from
commanded drones remain stationary if piloted via radar-transparent materials. They have an integral Sen-
control link, while handheld units run a 2-in-6 chance sor Transparency fitting and the sensor difficulty to spot
of crashing a drone if the operator fails to control them. them is 11 instead of 9.
In combat, drones fly at 30 meters per round on Sleeper drones are built to tarry on station for
their pilots turn in combat. Out of combat, they can long periods. They have the Stationkeeping fitting as
manage up to 100 kilometers per hour. an integral part of their design, and when hovering
Spotting a drone at observation range is a Wis/ their power use slows to a trickle. One day of hovering
Notice skill check at difficulty 10. A drone close enough draws only five minutes worth of power from its cell.
to engage a target can be spotted at difficulty 8. Any Pax drones are some of the most common pretech
secure facility will have sensors capable of detecting drones remaining in existence, as they were favored by
a civilian drone as soon as it gets within observation the Mandate Fleet for pacifying troublesome worlds
range, unless the drone has stealth fittings. that lacked quantum ECM. While primitive by pretech
standards, they still far excel most modern drones.
Drone Combat The Alecto model of drone examples one way that
A drones pilot can activate up to one weapon the drone pretech scientists attempted to sidestep the limits of
is carrying as part of their Main Action to control it quantum ECM on the modern battlefield. Every Alecto
each round. Weapons all use Intelligence as the con- is a full-fledged VI, an expert system so sophisticated as
trolling attribute, and use the better of the pilots Pilot to seem almost sentient. Its self-reinforcing cognition
or Program skills as the relevant weapon skill. The allows it to operate even when cut off from external
drone shoots using the pilots base attack bonus. signals by quantum ECM. Salvaged Alectos have all
exhibited female personalities.
Drone Model Cost Fittings AC Enc HP Range TL
Primitive Drone 250 1 12 2 1 500 m 3
Void Hawk 5,000 4 14 6 15 100 km 4
Stalker 1,000 3 13 2 5 2 km 4
Cuttlefish 2,000 5 13 2 10 1 km 4
Ghostwalker 3,000 2 15 3 1 5 km 4
Sleeper 2,500 4 12 2 8 100 km 4
Pax 10,000 4 16 4 20 100 km 5
Alecto 50,000 4 18 4 30 5000 km 5
Drones 81

Drone Fittings and Repair Drone Fittings Cost TL


Aside from the basic drone chassis, operators can attach Ammo Unit 250 4
different fittings to a drone to add additional capabili-
Bomber 500 3
ties. Once attached, a fitting cannot be removed with-
out causing severe structural damage to the drone. If Environmental Power 4,000 4
a drone is destroyed, all fittings are destroyed with it. Expert System 5,000 4
If a drone is damaged, it can be repaired fully with Extended Flight 250 3
one unit of spare parts per five hit points lost and an
Grav Muffles 2,000 4
hours work by someone with at least Fix-0 skill.
Heavy Lift 2,000 4
Ammo Unit: The drone carries one power cell or maga- Holoskin 3,000 4
zine worth of ammunition for each of its onboard Medical Support 2,000 4
weapons, whether single or multiple. The oper-
Observation Suite 250 3
ator can reload an ammo unit as a Main Action.
Bomber: The drone is fitted to drop up to two gre- Racing Gravitics 2,000 4
nade-sized explosives, one or both in lieu of a dif- Reinforced Structure 1,000 4
ferent weapon attack. Dropping a grenade from Sensor Transparency 5,000 4
more than 30 meters up automatically causes the
Stationkeeping 1,000 4
grenade to scatter from its intended target point.
Environmental Power: The drone draws operating Suicide Charge 250 3
power from sunlight or thermal variances. It can Weapon Fitting 1,000 4
operate indefinitely so long as it can draw power
from its environment. Observation Suite: All drones are wired for basic camera
Expert System: The drone is loaded with sophisticat- and sound, but this suite contains a full-spectrum
ed self-piloting software. It can be given a flight UV/IR visual package, remote sound sensors, and
plan by its operator, have targets designated for radiation/chemical detectors. The drone can focus
its weapon, and respond to simple environmental on conversations or facial expressions from up to
cues. Each new command takes up a Main Ac- 2 kilometers away and can operate even in the
tion and commands with any conditional states complete absence of visible light.
may require an Int/Program skill check to get the Racing Gravitics: The drone is tuned for extra speed. Its
drone to understand. The drone can fire only one flight endurance is halved, but it can now move
weapon per round and uses a total attack bonus of up to 60 meters per combat round and fly at up to
+2 if attacking autonomously. Quantum ECM will 200 kph out of combat.
scramble this lightweight system. Reinforced Structure: The drone is equipped with
Extended Flight: The drone can now carry a second type heavier plating and a sturdier internal frame. Its
A cell to fuel its flight. This fitting can be taken hit points are increased by 50%, rounded up.
multiple times to further extend its range. Sensor Transparency: The drone is sheathed in anti-ra-
Grav Muffles: The drone is made exceptionally quiet in dar composites. Ordinary sensors will not detect it
operation. It is now inaudible by ordinary hearing at observation range, and high-end military sen-
from more than five meters away. sors can spot it only on an Int/Program check at
Heavy Lift: While most drones can lift no more than difficulty 9.
a kilogram of excess weight, the drones gravitic Stationkeeping: The drone does not need to be con-
units have been upgraded to carry up to twenty stantly controlled; when the operator does not
kilos of cargo. This can be fitted multiple times. spend a Main Action to pilot it, it simply remains
Holoskin: The drone can drop a filmy hologram over it- stationary. If equipped with an Observation Suite,
self, one convincing at a distance. The difficulty of it can ping the operator if any anomalous reading
visually spotting the drone becomes 10 at weapons is obtained.
range or 12 at observational range. Weapons fire Suicide Charge: The drone is loaded with a demo charge
always draws attention. as per page 69. The operator can trigger it as an
Medical Support: The drone can be loaded with up to attack, but unless they can move the drone in by
a dozen units of medication, whether stim doses, surprise, the approach will always give onlookers
lazarus patches, or less benevolent substances. It a chance to spot it before it gets within range.
can launch a medication through a remote injector Weapon Fitting: The drone can be mounted with 1
at a target within ten meters in lieu of a weapon encumbrance worth of ranged weaponry, which
attack. Immobile or willing targets are hit auto- must be purchased separately. This fitting may be
matically, while hostiles require a normal hit roll. taken more than once to mount more weapons
The drone is treated as having Heal-0 skill or the or heavier weapons. The weapon requires one or
active pilots Heal skill, whichever is higher. more ammo units to feed it.
82 Cyberware

Cyberware
Postech medical science and neural interface technol-
ogy are sophisticated enough to meld metal and flesh
into a coherent whole. The creation of advanced cy-
berware is not beyond the theoretical capability of TL4
societies, and pretech worlds can produce cyberware
of such sophistication as to blur the lines between or-
ganism and artifice.
Yet cyberware is rarely available on most worlds,
even those with the nominal technology level to sup-
port it. The advantages that cyberware can give a user
are great, but the cost of building, fitting, and implant-
ing these devices is huge compared to simply buying a
handheld device to do the same function. There are few
buyers for a 15,000 credit ghost talker implant when a
compad retails for a hundred credits.
The market that does exist is largely for those few
elite operatives and dignitaries who are willing to pay
exorbitant sums for the smallest advantage. Most cy-
berware is custom-built for its users, and it can be an
adventure in itself to find a lab capable of manufac-
turing an augmentation and successfully implanting
it. Some worlds have industrialized the production of
cyberware, however, making it much cheaper and in
much wider circulation. Even then, these worlds rarely
export much cyberware due to the heavy infrastructure
necessary to fit and implant the wares. Those who want
the tech will have to find such planets and do their own
negotiations there.
Aside from the difficulties of cost and scarcity,
cyberware also taxes the wearers body. Each piece of Bioadaptation Augments: These additional synthetic
cyberware comes with a System Strain cost as described organs and filters allow the bearer to survive in
on page 32, permanently adding that many points of thin-atmosphere conditions, as well as tolerate
System Strain to the users total. These points can never temperatures ranging from Antarctic chill to
be lost unless the system is surgically removed. This heat sufficient to boil water. They can also eat a
permanent System Strain decreases the amount of wide range of native life forms for sustenance; no
psionic healing a character can sustain and can limit normal planets native biology is ever considered
the effectiveness of healing and stimulant drugs. immiscible for consumption.
Some cyberware has an activation cost in System Body Arsenal Array: Some personnel need to be armed
Strain. If a cost would push the characters System at all times without giving any indication of such.
Strain above their Constitution score, they cannot Improvised weaponry and conventional holdout
trigger the cyberware; their body just cant handle the weapons are useful enough against soft targets,
strain until it has had time to recover. but disabling a target in powered armor requires
more. The details of the array vary from user to
Adrenal Suppression Pump: These endocrine pumps user, but usually act as advanced medium weapons
neutralize numerous brain chemicals in the user that can be used with either Punch or Stab skills
when activated while exciting the users percep- and at least one integral energy projector equal
tual centers. This combination produces a cold, to a laser rifle, one that must be powered by an
dispassionate situational awareness that grants insertable type A power cell. Retracted body arse-
the user +2 on initiative rolls when the system is nals can be detected only by a medical examination.
engaged. Most systems have built-in safety over- Body Sculpting: Not so much a single implant as a se-
rides to prevent psychological addiction and brain ries of complex surgeries, body sculpting is avail-
damage, allowing the unit to be used for no more able on many TL4 worlds with fairly advanced
than an hour each day. The user takes a -2 penalty medical services. After a week of alterations and
on all social skill checks while the unit is active, treatments a subjects external appearance can be
and it requires five rounds to toggle it. set within any human or near-human range, in-
Cyberware 83

Cyberware Cost Strain TL


Adrenal Suppression Pump 30,000 1 4 Eliminates emotion and improves initiative
Bioadaptation Augments 10,000 1 4 Survive near-habitable planetary conditions
Body Arsenal Array 10,000 1 4 Provides retractable body weaponry
Body Sculpting 10,000 1 4 Complete external physical reconstruction
Dermal Armor 20,000 2 4 AC 16, immune to primitive weapon Shock
Drone Control Link 20,000 1 4 Allows easier remote control of drones
Eelskin Capacitor Mesh 25,000 1 4 Allows bare-handed hacking and electrical shocks
Gecko Anchors 15,000 1 4 Can climb sheer surfaces as if they were flat
Ghost Talker Transceiver 15,000 1 4 Integral compad with audiovisual transmission
Holdout Cavity 10,000 1 4 Shielded body cavity for holdout storage
Holoskin Emitters 15,000 1 4 Creates a hologram around the user
Identity Submersion Trigger 25,000 1 4 Allows a false identity to be perfectly assumed
Immunofiltration System 25,000 2 4 Immune to almost all diseases and poisons
Induced Coma Trigger 20,000 1 4 Feigns death and halts bodily processes for up to two weeks
Neurointruder Alert 50,000 1 5 Grants +3 to save vs. telepathy, alerts of intrusion
Panspectral Optics 15,000 1 4 Integral low-light and thermal vision
Pressure Sheathing 15,000 1 4 Integral emergency vacc suit
Prosthetic Limb 2,500 1 4 Replaces a limb lost to misadventure
Revenant Wiring 50,000 3 5 Keeps the user fighting even after theyre dead
Slowtime Window 30,000 2 5 Prevents surprise and speeds up the users cogitation
Stabilization Overrides 25,000 2 4 Automatically stabilizes a mortally-wounded user
Tagger Nanites 15,000 1 4 Lets the user tag others with tracking nanites
Toxin Injector 20,000 2 4 Allows surprise injection of lethal or dazing toxins
Twitchlock Actuators 30,000 2 4 Allows brief moments of hyper-precise accuracy

cluding full retinal and fingerprint matching to a single drone can only receive one command per
desired target. A TL5 version of this treatment round, however.
that costs ten times as much can involve exten- Aside from this ease of command, someone
sive DNA reprogramming to change the subject with an implanted rig can look through a piloted
at a genetic level, making their alterations herita- drones sensors as an Instant action, and a drone
ble and allowing female-targeted shapes to bear is never considered to be out of control even if
offspring. This TL5 treatment is not reversible, the pilot doesnt spend an action controlling it. A
and any further major alterations to the subject link can maintain a connection with one drone at
require further permanent System Strain. a time, plus the users Program skill.
Dermal Armor: A fine subcutaneous reinforcement Eelskin Capacitor Mesh: A hair-fine mesh of almost im-
mesh provides significant protection against im- perceptible wiring along the users palms and fin-
pacts and cuts while remaining imperceptible to gers allow them to trigger brief, controlled bursts
anything short of a medical examination. Some- of electrical energy at targets within five meters.
one with the implant has AC 16 and is immune As an Instant action it adds 2d4 non-lethal damage
to Shock damage inflicted by primitive melee to a successful Punch attack. In its intended use, it
weapons. A TL5 version of this implant that costs also allows the user to override and disable most
five times as much grants even more protection, electronic locks and security systems with a suc-
rendering the subject wholly immune to primitive cessful Sneak or Fix skill check. Both triggering a
weapons as if they were wearing powered armor. burst and hacking a security system tax the users
Drone Control Link: Most often found among military biology; one System Strain point is gained with
bot wranglers, civilians can also get a drone con- each attack or skill check.
trol link implanted to simplify the remote piloting Gecko Anchors: Miniaturized gravitic manipulators are
of drones and other robotic units. embedded in the subjects hands and feet as part
Users of a link can issue commands to a drone of this complex surgery. While they are too weak
as a Move action instead of a Main Action. A to allow levitation or damping fall damage, they
84 Cyberware

can twist localized gravity around those limbs to persona, a conviction that cannot be penetrated by
anchor the subject to the nearest surface capable telepathy or TL4 methods of interrogation. The
of bearing their weight. As a result, the user can persona can be activated at the users discretion,
freely run or climb up or down sheer surfaces at but it only deactivates on a preset trigger, leaving
their normal movement rate, carrying no more the subject in full possession of all memories expe-
than their normal maximum encumbrance. rienced. The trigger can be any perceptible stimu-
Ghost Talker Transceiver: Some people simply cannot lus: a particular time, the sight of a specific person,
afford to be out of contact at any time, under any a code phrase, or any other sign, and it may be
circumstances. Those people find use for the mi- changed by the user each time they activate the
crofine web of radio wiring and optical augmen- cyberware. Many ISTs are also implanted with a
tation that make up the ghost talker. These units master key that will automatically deactivate the
act as a built-in compad for the user and allow triggered identity.
for reception and transmission of audio and visual Immunofiltration Systems: This broad-spectrum scrub
recordings, the latter playing in an inset window system carefully identifies and contains toxic sub-
in the users field of vision. If the unit is operating stances introduced into the users system. When-
outside of a standard comm grid, it has a trans- ever the subject would normally have to make a
mission range of twenty kilometers and a recep- saving throw to resist some disease or toxin, they
tion range of one hundred. Ghost talker users can may instead gain one System Strain to automat-
transmit basic visual diagrams and images to each ically succeed on the save. Most of these systems
other, as well as optical recordings. are calibrated to automatically filter any toxins
Holdout Cavity: Usually implanted somewhere in the or chemicals in standard use by police or military
torso, a holdout cavity is a small recess shaped forces in the sector, but if presented with a spe-
into the wearers body and designed to be over- cial biowarfare toxin, the filters are less effective.
looked by most standard forms of medical or se- In such cases, the most it can do is either grant a
curity scanning. It automatically defeats a security second saving throw if the first is failed, or grant
inspection that uses less than TL4 scanners, and a single saving throw if none is normally allowed.
even advanced tech requires careful personal in- Induced Coma Trigger: A series of implants are wired
spection to have a chance of revealing it. The cav- to the users brain stem, allowing them to trigger
ity can hold an object up to the size of a pistol and an induced therapeutic coma at a mental com-
is opened and shut by the users mental command. mand. The user appears dead to anything short
Holoskin Emitter: Multiple holographic emitters are im- of a medical inspection, and has no need of respi-
planted on the user, allowing them to alter their ration, food, or water while the coma is in effect.
external appearance to match anything of their The user does not heal while in a coma, but any
approximate size and dimensions, including oth- diseases or poisons also halt progression. The user
er people. Shifting appearances is a Main Action, determines how long the coma is to last before
and the user cant shift to an appearance that isnt triggering it, and is unconscious for its duration.
in the cyberwares shape library. The library is vast A character can survive in a coma up to two weeks
and contains generic examples of numerous hu- before needing to regain consciousness for as long
man-sized objects and people, but mimicking a as they were in the coma.
specific other person requires at least five minutes Neurointruder Alert: While somewhat primitive by
of close examination. The holograms projected pretech standards, this TL5 cybernetic implant
by the emitters are good, but imperfect; anyone allows the wearer to gain a +3 bonus on all saving
who closely examines the user will be able to tell throws to resist telepathic intrusion. Even if such
that something is artificial about their appearance, a save is failed, the user will be aware that they
and touch instantly confirms any suspicions. The are under telepathic assault, though some forms of
emitters can fake clothing and can produce sounds mental control may not allow them to say as much
to complement the illusion or modify the users until after the influence is ended. The warning
voice, if records of the true subject are available. does not indicate the source of the influence.
The disguise lasts until the user dies or ends it. Panspectral Optics: Ocular adjustments to the wearer
Identity Submersion Trigger: This cyberware involves allow them to see clearly at any light level short of
micronized neural stimulation technology which perfect darkness, in addition to giving them ther-
is imperceptible to anything short of TL5 medical mal vision that can easily distinguish shapes and
scanning or TL4 surgical examination of the sub- distance even in the total absence of light. Danger-
jects brain tissue. When active, the IST allows the ous radiation and lasers tuned outside the range
subject to adopt a secondary persona, complete of visible light are also visible to the user. Nearby
with a library of manufactured memories. So long radio transmissions can be seen as if they were
as the IST is active, the subject will honestly and visual flares of color. The system cannot translate
completely believe himself to be the secondary these transmissions, only alert the user to them.
Cyberware 85

Pressure Sheathing: Occasionally purchased by work- Stabilization Overrides: An intricate interweaving of


ers in hard vacuum or other hostile environments, microcapillaries and backup organs is implanted
pressure sheathing integrates an ultrathin pres- in the subjects torso and spinal column. These
sure membrane with the users dermis and emer- overrides can stabilize the user when severe phys-
gency film sealants that trigger at the users mental ical trauma would otherwise kill them. A user re-
command. The pressure sheathing serves as an duced to 0 hit points is automatically stabilized,
emergency vacc suit with an integral oxygen sup- as if a Lazarus patch had been successfully applied
ply and temperature regulators that can sustain to them, assuming that a patch could have saved
them for up to thirty minutes. A pressure sheath them. Stabilization overrides tend to interfere
needs 48 hours to regain structural integrity and with the ordinary operation of the users organs,
power after triggering. A pressure sheath can be however, and the wearers Constitution modifier
detected only by a close medical examination. is lowered by 1, with all the attendant consequenc-
Prosthetic Limb: Hands, feet, arms, legs, eyes, and es in loss of maximum hit points.
numerous internal organs can be replicated by Tagger Nanites: While true nanotechnology is beyond
postech medical science. These prosthetics can the grasp of standard TL4 science, this cyber al-
provide a good approximation of the sense of lows for the implantation of very simple nanofac-
touch, and are usually impossible to distinguish tories in the user, ones that exude a constant im-
from ordinary limbs without close inspection. perceptible smart dust. Objects the user touches
Pretech-level worlds tend to prefer actually re- can be tagged by these nanites, which generate
generating lost limbs, but those with access only more of their kind for up to 48 hours after tagging.
to ordinary frontier levels of tech have reason to The dust then lays down a trail behind the tagged
be grateful to prosthetics. object, one that is visible to the user or to some-
Revenant Wiring: One of the more grotesque results of one using a properly-keyed tracer. Only count-
late pretech augmentation research, revenant wir- er-nanite measures can remove the dust, as ordi-
ing permeates the users body with a web of sup- nary bathing or scrubbing is insufficient. The dust
plementary limb actuators and sensor clusters. In can be pinged by radio to announce its location
combat, the user may designate up to a half-dozen to anyone within five kilometers, but most users
targets to the systems braked micro-AI. If the user prefer to leave the dust in passive mode, where it
goes unconscious or is killed, the micro-AI will is undetectable to most TL4 sensors. Tagging an
engage the limb actuators to keep fighting, even object adds one System Strain to the user.
if the user is nothing more than a ragged mass Toxin Injector: The users canines or fingernails are
of mangled tissue. The micro-AI is not brilliant, altered to allow for the injection of one of two
but it is capable of negotiating most terrain and types of poison. If the user attempts to inject an
dealing with physical impediments to killing the unsuspecting victim they are already touching, the
designated targets. The actuators have power to attempt is automatically successful. If the victim is
keep operating for 3d4 rounds, or until the wear- wary or in combat, they can only be affected if they
er takes 25 more hit points of damage, whichev- are unarmored and the user succeeds in a Punch
er comes first. The stress produced by revenant attack roll. On a success, the victim must make a
wiring makes it much more difficult to revive a Physical saving throw at -2 or be incapacitated by
downed user with Lazarus patches or biopsionics; the poison, dying in 1d6 rounds or being incapac-
all revivification chances are half normal. itated for 1d6 hours at the users discretion. Each
Slowtime Window: A piece of cutting-edge pretech cy- poison attack adds 2 System Strain to the user.
berware, the slowtime window was installed in Twitchlock Actuators: Neural override fibers are wo-
crisis responders and others reliant on split-sec- ven into the users hands and arms and linked to a
ond decision making. When engaged, the implants perceptual modulator implanted at the base of the
accelerate the users cogitation speed by more than users brain stem. When presented with a direct
three thousand percent. While there is no corre- exercise of hand-eye coordination, the twitchlock
sponding acceleration of the users physical reflex- can be engaged to produce superhuman accuracy
es, they have time to process the situation and take and precision. Any attack roll or skill check reliant
in its details. A person who triggers a slowtime chiefly on manual dexterity or aim can be rerolled,
window cannot be surprised; they always roll ini- though the power surge inflicts two points of Sys-
tiative as normal no matter how unexpected the tem Strain on the user. A given roll can only be re-
attacker. This brain acceleration is highly stressful rolled once with this cyberware. While the twitch-
on the tissues, however, and one point of System lock allows superhuman accuracy when engaged,
Strain is gained each time it is engaged. the overrides fuzz ordinary nerve impulses and
reduce the users Dexterity modifier by 1 when
active. Activating or deactivating the cyberware
requires a Main Action.
86 Artifacts

Artifacts
Pretech artifacts are some of the more precious loot Ghost Mantle: Designed for use by elite infiltrators, a
available from lost Mandate military bases, abandoned ghost mantle can warp light around the wearer to
colonies, desolate tomb worlds, and forgotten research blur his or her outlines and coloring to match the
outposts. Most pretech on modern worlds was long surroundings. The mantle can self-modify in one
ago cannibalized for vital spare parts or destroyed by minute to appear as any normal suit of clothing
the ravages of time and violence. The few pieces that and grants AC 15 to the wearer. When used in
remain are almost always extremely valuable. stealth mode, it grants a +2 bonus to all Stealth-re-
Very few pretech artifacts are bought or sold. lated skill checks. TL4 sensors and scanners cannot
Some items are relatively common, having been ubiq- detect the mantle as anything but ordinary cloth.
uitous enough to survive in large numbers or simple Polyplast Carapace: This variant form of assault suit
enough to be produced by a few remaining modern employs pretech deforming polymers to create
worlds. Most artifacts, however, are so rare that there sealed joints and flexible armor plates that still
is no consistent market for them; an owner can charge maintain rigidity under impact. A polyplast cara-
what they wish for a device. pace is treated as an assault suit with AC 18, except
Getting that price is a different matter. Few plan- that it counts as only one item for encumbrance
etary governments allow private ownership of dan- and requires no practice to use correctly. Integral
gerous pretech artifacts, and its the government that kinetic absorption sinks allow the armor to func-
decides what constitutes danger. Most owners are rap- tion without the need for power cells.
idly visited by firm, polite agents with heavily-armed Psitech Combat Suit: One of the rare psitech artifacts
backup and given a fair price for their find. originally designed for use by military combat
As a consequence, most trade in pretech artifacts psychics, this snug-fitting armored undersuit
has to take place on the black market, or on worlds or grants the wearer an AC of 16. Its special ability
stations too lax to care about who might be bringing functions only for psychics; it can allow the user
in a portable black hole generator that just happens to reflexively fuel the suits defenses with their
to look like a Mandate childs toy. Such venues rarely own psychic reserves. As an Instant action, they
provide much in the way of security or contract en- can Commit Effort for the day to negate up to
forcement, and so trade has to take place amid grasping 15 points of damage from in incoming source of
guards, paranoid participants, and regular theft. physical injury. Each time they do this, they must
Pretech artifacts are more often traded privately make a Mental saving throw or the psychic con-
as rewards, mission payments, or exchanges between version shock leaves them unable to use psionic
owners. A PC who wants to obtain one of the artifacts techniques until after the end of their next turn.
listed in this section will need to not only find someone Stutterjump Suit: A modified version of the standard
who will admit to possessing the gear, but also find out deflector array, a stutterjump suit grants the wear-
what kind of favor theyre going to need to part with it. er a limited form of teleportation through integral
Tens of thousands of credits can sometimes do the trick, psitech circuitry. As an Instant action, the wearer
but most owners will prefer to wring the maximum can teleport to any location within one hundred
utility out of a capable adventurers interest in their meters, provided they have an unobstructed line
prized possessions. of sight to it. The suits circuitry requires twelve
hours to recover enough for another jump. The
Artifact Armor suit does not require power cells to function.
Many types of pretech armor are so rare or useful that Titan Powered Armor: An enormously heavy suit of ser-
they cannot normally be acquired on the open market. vo-actuated powered armor, Titan assault plate
Much like artifact weaponry, these artifact armors are was favored by pretech boarding parties and space
jealously held by those lucky enough to find them. marines. It grants the wearer all the usual benefits
of storm armor, but has a base AC of 21 and sub-
Executive Security Suit: This suit of stylish pretech tracts 2 points of damage from every instance of
clothing can self-modify in one minute to appear harm suffered by the wearer.
as any normal suit of clothing and grants AC 15 Tempest Assault Array: A modified version of the field
to the wearer. Originally designed for VIP pro- emitter panoply, the TAA has all the functionality
tection, the executive security suit automatically of the FEP but also does an automatic 1d6 dam-
stabilizes a mortally-wounded wearer provided age to anyone who attacks the wearer in melee,
they havent taken enough damage to make reviv- inflicting the damage after the attack is resolved.
al impossible. Like the majority of pretech artifact The wearer is immune to Shock damage. Kinetic
armor, the suit is so light that it does not add to sinks allow the TAA to function without the need
the wearers encumbrance. for power cells.
Artifacts 87

Artifact Weaponry and versatility of their firearms. Their guns were


While generic pretech weaponry is of superb quality largely self-repairing from anything short of hav-
and manufacture, some pieces exceed even the custom- ing pieces torn off, and their projectile weapons
ary excellence of the ancients. These artifact weap- automatically self-adjusted to fire whatever am-
ons are usually the product of short production runs munition was available, in any environment from
by master pretech craftsmen or individually-designed hard vacuum to underwater operations. A Colo-
masterpieces. Some pre-Scream manufacturers retain nial Arms projectile or energy weapon also gains
fame even centuries later for the unique quality of their a +1 bonus to hit and damage rolls.
workmanship. Convergence Weaponry: Those weapons designed by
Artifact weapons are almost never found on the the transhuman hive-mind polity known as the
market. The few pieces that are found and offered for Convergence are almost always energy-based guns
sale are snapped up almost immediately by elite opera- found in sets of 2-5 matching weapons. Wielders
tives and others who rely on the quality of their hard- can nominate a target as an Instant action at the
ware to preserve their own lives. Most who have arti- start of each round; any attacks they make with
fact weaponry have either found it in a long-abandoned the weapon against that target get a +1 hit and
pretech cache, received it from a superior, or taken it damage bonus for each wielder that targeted the
from the cold hands of a former owner. Selling such a foe, including their own nomination.
weapon tends to be equally difficult, with buyers few Imperial Arms: Ornate and beautiful weapons created
and untrustworthy. shortly after the horror of the Scream, these arms
were developed by an unknown pocket empire
Absolution Armaments: A company specializing in ener- that somehow preserved a little of their pretech
gy weaponry, AA pioneered several techniques for manufacturing base. Their attempt to reimpose
increasing the energy efficiency and penetrating order on the chaos around them appears to have
power of their armaments. AA laser weapons ig- failed, but their legacy lingers in the scattered
nore particulate matter when shooting, and all AA weapons that remain from their far-flung armies.
weapons gain +1 to hit and +2 damage. An Imperial weapon grants its user a +1 bonus
Colonial Arms: An armaments company dating from to all hit and damage rolls, with projectile weap-
the First Wave of human colonization, Colonial ons having an unlimited supply of ammo. These
Arms was famous for the incredible durability weapons always remain immaculately clean.
88 Artifacts

Fiat Lux: This manufacturer specialized in laser and a wielder with the weapon in hand can take an
plasma weaponry. Their products were largely additional full round of action any time they
conventional in function, but the quality of crafts- wish. At the end of this bonus action, they suffer
manship was seldom surpassed. Fiat Lux weapon- 1d4 System Strain, +1 for each use of this ability
ry grants +2 to hit rolls and damage. within the past 24 hours. If their System Strain is
Nightfall Combine: The exact nature of the Nightfall maximized by this, they fall unconscious for one
Combine was unclear even before the Scream, hour. Tempus Fugit weapons have a +1 bonus to
with rumors of alien xenotech manufacturing hit and damage.
techniques and esoteric psitech materials research. Terminus Est: A sister-company to Tempus Fugit, the
The weapons produced by the Combine were Terminus Est line of advanced melee weaponry
some of the finest ever developed by humanity. employed spatial distortion technology. As an
They grant +3 to all hit and damage rolls. Instant action at the start of a round, a wielder
Omnipresence, Ltd.: A pretech manufacturer who spe- with the weapon in hand can nominate a visible
cialized in holdout weaponry, Omnipresence arms target; for the rest of the round, theyre treated as
are composed of special polymorphic nano-com- if theyre adjacent and engaged in melee combat
pounds that are capable of shifting shape in mo- with the target, hindering ranged attacks, subject-
ments. Omnipresence weaponry can take a single ing them to attacks if they move away without a
alternate shape of the same mass set during man- fighting withdrawal, and so forth. The wielder is
ufacture, usually a belt, necklace, or other seem- not subject to attacks by the target unless they ac-
ingly innocuous object. When gripped and a short tually are within range of the targets weapons. By
keycode is spoken, the item instantly shifts forms, straining the wielders perception pathways, this
containing whatever ammunition it was original- target nomination can be applied to a number of
ly loaded with. Shifted Omnipresence weapons targets equal to the wielders Stab skill plus two.
cannot be detected by any postech means; even Any attack made against one target is applied to all
a pretech scanner will only reveal that the object nominated targets, using the same die rolls. Each
is composed of complex nanites. Omnipresence round this multiple nomination is maintained, the
weapons grant +1 to hit and damage rolls. wielder takes 2 System Strain. All Terminus Est
PolyGaia Defense: Originally an organization of mili- weapons have a +2 bonus to hit and damage rolls.
tant pan-planetary animists, PolyGaia armaments Tools of Ill Omen: A specialist weapon line designed by
function perfectly in almost any environment. sage-engineers affiliated with the Preceptors of
Projectile and energy weapons are also equipped the Great Archive, the Tools are decorated with
with integral monoblades, and can be used as ad- taotie-motif fittings similar to those of Shang
vanced medium melee weapons without a need to Dynasty bronzes. Tools usually appear as melee
club the weapon. PolyGaia weaponry grants +1 to weapons, particularly halberds, dagger-axes and
hit and damage rolls. swords, though stylized hypervelocity repeating
SamaelTech: The Sons of Samael were one of the myr- crossbows have been found that work like mag
iad peculiar religious and ideological groups that rifles with unlimited ammo. The Tools function
flourished during the Second Wave of human with a +2 hit and damage bonus
expansion. While their exact beliefs are unclear Valiance Arms: Somewhat stodgy by pretech standards,
at this distance, their surviving melee armament Valiance never embraced the more exotic poten-
is invariably superb. Monoblades, kinesis wraps, tials of pretech science. The company instead
and other such SamaelTech weaponry all have +1 preferred to focus on precision low-recoil pro-
to hit and +1 damage. Some SamaelTech weap- jectile weapons and high-quality craftsmanship.
ons appear to be decorated with Christian ico- Valiance projectile weapons grant +2 to hit and
nography and advanced nanotech cutting surfaces. damage rolls.
These pieces grant +2 to hit and damage. Windcutter: Windcutter armaments are invariably
Stardust Micropellet System: The Stardust system was edged melee weapons. Their pretech manufactur-
a cutting-edge effort to use gravitic manipulation ers had an obsessive interest in maximizing weap-
techniques in projectile weaponry. By giving a on penetration, one carried to an extent that was
tiny flake of matter the mass profile of a bullet, a very impressive, if perhaps somewhat impractical
Stardust weapon never runs out of ammunition, for field use. A Windcutter blade can slice through
albeit Stardust weaponry cannot burst fire. Star- any substance short of advanced pretech armor
dust weaponry gains +1 on all hit and damage rolls. plating, inflicting full normal damage on vehicles,
Tempus Fugit: The weapons of the Tempus Fugit ar- including gravtanks or other targets subject only
mory employed Mandate temporal acceleration to Heavy weapons. For Shock purposes, all tar-
generators. Such acceleration is exhausting to gets are treated as if they were AC 10. Against all
the user, however, and creates severe strain on targets, the blades have an effective +1 bonus to
a normal biological system. As an Instant action, hit and damage.
Artifacts 89

Artifact Equipment ing standard pretech CAD/CAM protocols, the


AI Companion: True AI was never easily made by pre- nanites exude into the desired object, mimicking
tech scientists. AIs required individual care during any necessary physical properties. The nanites can
their development, and a disturbing percentage of be used to create any object of equivalent or less-
them had to be braked at sub-human levels in er mass, provided a datapad or the equivalent is
order to prevent runaway cogitation on impon- available to feed them the schematic. The nanites
derable philosophical questions and the ensuing are single-use, but multiple cylinders can be linked
metastatic insanity that followed. Some AIs man- together to create larger objects. The workman-
aged to attain a human level of sentience before ship of the nanites is good, but not exceptional;
requiring brakes. The less brilliant of these AIs any available schematic of tech level 4 or less can
could be contained in hardware no larger than five be produced.
or six centimeters on a side, usually with integral Pseudonuke: While conventional TL4 nuke snuffers
sensors and vocalization units. If an AI companion make dangerous nuclear reactions impossible
takes a liking to a PC, they can be useful allies; they near spaceships or modern civil defense systems,
all have effective Program and Fix skills at level 3 a pseudonuke is designed with esoteric pretech
or greater, and may have additional capabilities. parts and techniques to bypass TL4 defenses. Most
A distressing number of these AIs have their own pseudonukes are no larger than a briefcase but can
purposes, however, that are not necessarily com- detonate with enough force to wipe out a large
plementary to those of their owners. city or space station. The handful created before
Integrity Stims: Usually found in the form of a skin- the Scream were deniable Mandate tools to deal
spray applicator, integrity stims restore 2d6+2 hit with rebel frontier colonies. Those that survive
points to a subject for each dose applied. Each dose are spectacularly illegal on almost all worlds.
increases the targets System Strain by 1 point, and Redivivus Sheath: When found, a redivivus sheath re-
the stims are useless to those with maximized Sys- sembles a tightly-rolled body bag with a fist-sized
tem Strain. More than one dose can be triggered computing module affixed to it. When a fresh-
into a subject in one round, but each dose after the ly-dead human body is sealed into the bag the
first adds an additional second System Strain point module releases a cloud of nanites to repair and
from the sudden overload of stimulants. revive the subject. Revivification will work on any
Juggernaut Stims: Originally designed for pretech shock victim no more than five minutes dead, assuming
troops, this skinspray stimulant charges the user the head is intact and most of their mass is present.
with fearless aggression and indifference to pain. Subjects are revived in critically wounded condi-
The user immediately gains 3d6 temporary hit tion with maximized System Strain. The redivivus
points and +2 to hit for a period of ten rounds. At sheath functions only once before burning out.
the end of that period, any remaining temporary System Reset Inductor: An array of pretech pharmaceu-
hit points are lost, and the subject suffers -2 to hit ticals of truly heroic breadth, a sprayhypo full of
for the next hour as their system recovers. Use of system reset inductor is one of the most powerful
this stim adds 1 point of System Strain. concoctions ever devised by pretech biochemists.
Micropurgator Stims: A sprayhypo laden with a revivi- On injection, the subject immediately loses all ac-
fying cocktail of nanites and support chemicals, a crued System Strain points barring those perma-
micropurgator stim will remove 1d4 points of ac- nently added by cyberware. The user can gain new
crued System Strain from the user. Only one such System Strain normally, but 48 hours after the in-
stim can be applied to a person within 24 hours. ductor has been administered, the strain will catch
Mindwall Helmet: A transparent-visored helmet, this up with them. They fall immediately unconscious
headpiece strengthens the integrity of the wearers with 1 hit point and maximized System Strain, and
neural patterns, making it more difficult for them will remain in a coma for 48 hours before awaken-
to be influenced by mind-affecting psionic powers. ing. Use of a second inductor before the first has
The wearer gains a +2 saving throw against any run its course will inevitably kill the subject within
such attack, and is automatically alerted by the five rounds of application, with no hope of revival
helmet if made the target of a telepathic power. by psionic disciplines or conventional medical aid.
The helmet does not help against purely physical Wideawake Serum: Originally designed to facilitate
psionic attacks, such as through telekinetics, and spike drills for single-man ships that couldnt af-
it cannot be worn with powered armor, vacc suits, ford a sleeping pilot, wideawake serum gives the
or an assault suit. user enormous vigor and alertness for up to seven
Polymorphic Nanites: Usually found in two-kilo cyl- days at a time. The user need not sleep or even rest,
inders with integral input-output data ports, but during this time it is impossible to recover
polymorphic nanites were a late-Second Wave accrued System Strain. A successful Heal check at
development that promised to revolutionize difficulty 10, made at most once per day, can flush
manufacturing. When fed a design schematic us- the drug from the user prematurely.
90 Modding and Building Equipment

Modding and Building Equipment


While truly sophisticated research and design often install it in the desired device. Thus, a Customized mod
requires resources beyond the reach of an adventuring takes a week to put in, while a Flexible mod takes two.
party, more modest workshops can allow a talented If a tech does nothing other than work, eat, and sleep,
technician with a healthy supply of after-market parts they can halve these times, and an additional assistant
to improve the quality of their own or their allies gear. with at least Fix-0 skill can further halve the time.
Without a full-fledged R&D department behind them, Mods must be custom-built to specific objects. A
a PC technician is generally limited to modifying and tech cannot build a generic mod and then just attach
improving existing gear. it to a device; it must be carefully designed to fit exact-
A mod is an adjustment made to a specific piece ly with that specific item, and sometimes even with a
of tech to make it work better. These mods are finicky, specific user.
delicate, and often customized to the user. They arent
generally available on the market because they require Mods and Maintenance
regular tuning and adjustment by a highly-skilled tech- Mods require maintenance to keep functioning cor-
nician in order to keep them from degrading, or even rectly. Overclocked hardware, bleeding-edge tech, and
failing entirely. Mods require costly after-market parts experimental adjustments just dont have the field dura-
that can be expensive to acquire, and the most sophisti- bility of more standard gear, so a tech must apply daily
cated ones require actual pretech salvage stripped from attention to the modded hardware if its not to fail. A
advanced ancient technology. Normally, only TL4 gear normal TL4 toolbox is required to maintain mods, but
can be effectively modded, as more primitive tech isnt no special parts are needed.
suitable for the advanced components involved. A techs Maintenance score is equal to the total of
their Intelligence and Constitution modifiers plus three
Installing Mods times their Fix skill level. The smarter and the longer a
Building and installing a mod requires a well-equipped tech can work, the more maintenance they can perform,
TL4 workshop. Its not necessary to have a full-fledged but their overall expertise as a technician is the most
fabrication plant, but the sort of resources that a pro- crucial element. A tech can maintain a number of mods
fessional repair tech or vehicle shop have are necessary equal to their Maintenance score without cutting into
to assemble and adjust the tech. Such a shop can usually their adventuring time or otherwise encumbering their
be rented for 100 credits a day, or bought outright in a off-duty hours. This maintenance is assumed to take
city or other urban area for 25,000 credits. A starships place during downtime and doesnt need to be tracked
Workshop ship fitting will also qualify. specifically in play. If they do nothing but maintenance,
Mods have a minimum Fix skill required to install they can double their score, but this kind of dedication
or maintain them; a Customized mod requires Fix-1, for requires sixteen-hour workdays.
example, while a Flexible mod takes Fix-2. Without this If a mod goes without maintenance for 24 hours, it
skill level, the tech cant build or install the mod, and stops working. If a mod goes without maintenance for
they cant maintain it properly either. a week, the entire device its attached to stops working,
Mods have a cost in credits or salvage. A tech with as the untuned mod has made it useless or dangerous to
access to a normal TL4 parts market can buy compo- use. Weapons can no longer be used in combat, armor
nents with a credit cost, but certain highly sophisticated no longer gives protection, seizes up, or is too danger-
mods require pretech components that can only be sal- ous to wear, and other devices simply stop functioning.
vaged from certain ancient Mandate-era technological A maintenance backlog on a device can be cleared by an
devices. Not just any device will do for gathering these hour of work by a technician capable of maintaining it.
components; these micronized fusion taps, antigrav
nodules, impact flexors, and polymorphic state con- Building Conventional Gear
trollers are found in only certain Mandate tech or in Sometimes a wrench jockey will want to build their
rare ancient caches of unused components. A tech will own equipment rather than purchase it off the shelf.
usually have to find these components as part of an This may be because theres no such gear for sale, the
adventure, because those who have them need them equipment is illegal on this world, the tech wants it
for their own purposes and will not part with them for cheaper than the vendors sell it, or the tech wants
ordinary monetary compensation. The specific details to build a custom platform for their favorite mods.
of these parts dont matter for mod use, and theyre sim- The gear built this way must be feasible to create in a
ply tracked as salvage. If a mod requires three units of workshop; guns, armor, and modestly-sized vehicles
salvage, any three units will work, and its not normally are possible, but starship components and other major
necessary for a tech to track down specific components. constructions are not.
Mods take time to build and install. It takes one A tech requires a TL4 workshop to build most TL4
week per minimum skill level of the mod to build and equipment. More primitive gear can be built with less
Modding and Building Equipment 91

elaborate resources at the GMs discretion. The work- Sample Mods


shop must be at least nominally capable of working with The mods listed below are simply a sample of those a
the kind of gear the tech is building. A vehicle repair GM might approve for their campaign. Weapon and
shop will not have the tools to brew pharmaceuticals, armor mods should not stack beyond a +3 bonus to AC,
and a back-room electronics shop wont have the lifts hit rolls or damage rolls, and any mod improving a skill
to work on armored vehicles. If the tech needs to refit a check shouldnt boost it by more than +1. A mod can
workshop to work on a particular type of unsupported only be installed once on any given piece of equipment.
gear, they can pay half the shops original price to get
the needed tools. Starships with Workshop fittings are Autotargeting (Fix-2): The weapon has had micronized
always sufficient for personal gear modifications. kinetic targeting aids installed, granting a +1 bo-
The tech needs a supply of parts. In any TL4 city nus to hit rolls with it. Costs 4,000 credits.
or sizable community, the tech can scrounge, barter, Boosted (Fix-2): The weapon has been tuned for greater
or buy what they need from the locals. A tech working damage output, adding +2 to the damage it does.
in a shop out in the wilds can prepare by taking a few Costs 2,000 credits.
footlockers full of materials that can fit in a vehicle or Bubbleseal (Fix-1): The armor is equipped with auto-
on pack animals, buying a certain number of credits matic pressure seals and emergency oxygen. It can
worth of spare parts and hauling them along. Techs in be triggered manually or activates automatically
dire need can strip ancient high-tech ruins, battlefields, on exposure to low pressure, functioning as a vacc
and scrap heaps for parts if no better source is available. suit for up to one hour. Costs 5,000 credits.
Techs must decide whether the device theyre Concealed (Fix-2): The device is disguised as a specific
building is to be jury-rigged, normal, or mastercrafted. different object of the same general mass. This
Jury-rigged devices are assembled out of cheap scrap, disguise will fool standard TL4 sensors, but not a
bottom-tier components, and makeshift kludges. close physical inspection of the object. Costs ten
Theyre much cheaper to make than to buy, but they re- times the devices base cost.
quire constant attention to keep them operating. Nor- Customized (Fix-1): The weapon or armor has been
mal devices work just as well as anything that youd buy carefully tailored to a single specific user. When
off the shelf, but the lack of economies of scale and the used by that person, they get a +1 to hit with the
need to acquire all the parts at retail make them more weapon or a +1 Armor Class bonus with armor.
expensive than buying it off the shelf. Mastercrafted Costs 1,000 credits and is inapplicable to shields.
gear is carefully built to support a techs own innova- Extended Magazine (Fix-1): The firearm has been ad-
tions and favorite modifications. They are extremely justed so that its magazine size is doubled. Costs
expensive, but much easier to mod and maintain than 500 credits.
off-the-shelf tech. Flexible (Fix-2): The armor is carefully tailored to a
Building the gear usually takes one month for a specific wearer with an eye towards reducing its
vehicle and one week for a weapon, suit of armor, or weight and cumbersomeness. Its Encumbrance
other portable device. Having at least one assistant with value is lowered by 1 for that wearer, and in-
Fix-0 will halve this time. creased by 1 for anyone else. Costs 5,000 credits.
Jury-rigged devices cost one-quarter as much as High Efficiency (Fix-1): A device with a duration of
the normal device and take half the normal time to operation, such as a vacc suit or fueled vehicle,
build. If the tech has access to scrap or salvage, they now functions for 50% longer on the same charge.
can assemble it at no cost, but it takes twice the normal Costs five times the devices usual cost.
time to build it. A jury-rigged device counts as a mod Infinite Magazine (Fix-3): The firearm now automati-
requiring Fix-0 to maintain. If it goes 24 hours with- cally produces its own physical ammunition. Costs
out maintenance, it stops working. Jury-rigged devices 10,000 credits and two units of pretech salvage.
cannot be modded. Infinite Power (Fix-3): A device powered by a Type A
Normal devices cost twice as much as they would power cell now never runs out of power. Costs
off-the-shelf and take the normal amount of time to 5,000 credits and one unit of pretech salvage.
build. They cannot be built with scrap or salvaged parts Phasing (Fix-3): The weapon is tuned to partially phase
unless the GM decides that the salvage is perfectly suit- through armor and impeding debris, granting a +1
ed for this use. Drugs and other consumable goods must bonus to hit rolls with it. Costs 10,000 credits and
be built as normal devices rather than jury-rigged or two units of pretech salvage.
mastercrafted ones. Polymorphic Blending (Fix-2): The armor can shift in
Mastercrafted devices require costly premade appearance to that of normal clothing or differ-
components and cost ten times as much as the normal ent-looking armor. Several dozen different ap-
device, and require twice as much time to build. They pearances can be loaded into it at any one time.
are ideal platforms for the techs own modifications, The armor functions and encumbers normally
however, and the first mod installed in the device re- regardless of its external appearance. Costs 5,000
quires no maintenance. credits and one unit of pretech salvage.
STARSHIPS
Countless ships rise from world upon world, the iron Military hulls are a different matter. Even a lowly
dust of new-forged shipyards sent out to make bridg- patrol boat is rarely permitted to a civilian buyer, let
es between the stars. For centuries, the privation and alone a fleet cruiser or other ship of the line. Even when
chaos that followed the Scream have made any concern these ships can be purchased, crewing them adequately
beyond bare survival a luxury for all too many worlds. can be far beyond the limits of an adventuring par-
The last century has seen a reawakening, however, as tys purse. Even so, heroes who make the right friends
myriad planets finally unlock the secrets of their own or do the right favors to a planetary government can
worlds and learn to use their native resources to rebuild sometimes get letters of marque that entitle them to
the long-lost ships of their ancestors. The Silence is purchase hulls that would not normally be allowed into
ending and worlds are now beginning to reach out to civilian hands.
their unknown neighbors. Buying a ship is only one way to acquire it, howev-
Different sectors have different degrees of devel- er. Many adventurers find it more efficient to liberate
opment. In some regions of space, starships have now a craft from undeserving owners, with an evenings
been manufactured for centuries, with small spacecraft play revolving around the daring deeds and cunning
easily obtained by private individuals and modest com- subterfuge needed to acquire or salvage a ship for the
panies. These sectors have regular commerce between party. Of course, the craft acquired by this means are
worlds, with interstellar drills no more remarkable rarely in perfect condition.
than modern air travel. Aliens and offworlder humans The ship and fitting prices that follow in this sec-
are noticed but go without special remark. These sec- tion assume that starships are uncommon and expen-
tors often have relatively large stellar polities made up sive investments, as they are in most sectors. If you are
of numerous member stars, ones which often share the running a campaign in a region of easier access to ships,
same general culture or political form. These sectors you should halve or even quarter the prices.
may still have backward planets or unknown worlds,
but these are the exception. Navies and Piracy
In most Stars Without Number sectors, however, Most TL4 worlds have some sort of space navy, even if
things arent that developed. Some worlds will have its only a handful of patrol boats to watch the asteroid
developed or retained functional shipyards and inter- mines and monitor orbital space around their home-
stellar flight is not anything remarkable to their citizens, world. A typical poor world might have a corvette and
but ownership of a starship is still a rare thing. Entire a half-dozen patrol boats, while the average TL4 planet
planetary navies might have fewer than a dozen ships, sports a fleet cruiser, four corvettes or heavy frigates,
and only powerful and influential worlds will be sport- and ten patrol boats, and a rich planet might have three
ing cruisers or other heavy warships. There is enough times as many ships, possibly even a battleship or car-
commercial traffic to justify starports and trade stations, rier to form the heart of its fleet. A third of these ships
but free and easy transit between worlds has been lost are usually in dock at any one time.
for centuries, and is only slowly returning to the sector. The threat of piracy varies from system to system.
These sectors are rich in potential adventure. Even Pirates need a safe place to refit their ships and sell their
developed worlds may not be completely familiar with stolen goods, and they need enough traffic to justify
their stellar neighbors, and a number of lost worlds their trade. The ideal pirate system is one containing
and out-of-contact societies can still be found in the only a low-tech primitive world that can be raided for
sector. Starship captains can never be entirely certain slaves and supplies, with a hidden or mobile deep-space
what theyre going to meet when they drill into such a repair base for maintenance, and two or more wealthy
system, and no world is strong enough to exert its will neighboring systems that send trade through. Such a
carelessly around distant stars. pirate nest can persist for years, with system govern-
ments arguing over who should bear the cost of rooting
Acquiring Starships them out, or too weak to overcome a charismatic pirate
In most sectors, its possible to buy civilian starships leader and their loot-hungry followers.
on any TL4 world. Such civilian ships are almost ex- Very few pirates operate in a system with a strong
clusively fighter or frigate-class hulls, most usually free naval presence. Small ships can sometimes get away
merchants or in-system shuttles, though a few wealthy with it for a time, hiding out in asteroid belts, striking
worlds offer bulk freighter hulls as well. These ships merchants from ambush, and fleeing to safer systems
might be armed to the extent that their buyers purse before help can arrive. Larger pirate flotillas are a more
allows, but they are no match for real warships, and existential threat to a planetary navy, and they are soon
so few planets worry too much about who might buy dispersed or made the effective masters of the system
them. Conspicuous acquisition of numerous armed as they blow up any ship that could prevent them from
merchants, however, might draw unwelcome interest. obtaining space supremacy.
94 Building a Starship

Building a Starship
Creating a starship in Stars Without Number is fairly cost 100 credits a day in wages, plus 20 more for nec-
simple, and requires only a few steps. essary food and stores. PCs, naturally, are unlikely to
First, pick a hull type for the ship from the list charge themselves wages, but they need to eat.
below. The type will indicate the price of the base hull Fourth, note down the six-month maintenance
with a drive-1 spike drive, along with the available free cost of the ship, which is equal to 5% of its total non-
power and mass. crew cost. If this fee isnt paid, a -1 penalty is applied to
Second, add fittings, weapons, and defenses from all skill checks and hit rolls related to the ship for each
the pages that follow. Each such addition takes up a maintenance period skipped.
certain amount of power and mass, and may have a Lastly, fill in a ship record for the craft, marking
minimum hull size required for installation. Some fit- down the ships statistics and the attack bonuses for the
tings and defenses cost more in money, power, or mass gunners using the ships weapons.
when installed on larger ships. The speed of building or modifying a ship will de-
Third, decide how many crew members the ship pend on the quality of available shipyards and the po-
will have. Most merchantmen run with no more than litical importance of the job. On average, 25,000 credits
twice the minimum number of crew to save on wages. a day of work or modifications can be done by most
Warships rarely leave port with less than 75% of the shipyards on average-importance jobs. Enough reason
maximum crew allowed. On average, crew members to rush can double or even quadruple this amount.

Starship Hulls
Starship hulls are divided into four general hull classes: Crew lists the minimum crew necessary for basic
fighters, frigates, cruisers, and capital ships. The size operation and the maximum crew the life support sys-
of each class varies depending on the technological so- tem can sustain for two months. Smaller crews than
phistication and available resources of their creators. In the maximum will make the ships life support last pro-
some sectors a smugglers free merchant frigate might portionately longer. While its theoretically possible for
measure no more than 34.75 meters from nose to tail, a lone crewman to make a successful spike drill, the
while in another it might be four times as large. As a constant vigilance and wakefulness required mandates
general proportion, each class average size is usually the use of heavy pharmaceuticals and great desperation.
from four to eight times larger than the class before it. A minimum of three crew are normally required for a
Each hull has several base attributes. Individual relatively safe drill.
models might vary slightly, and careful tuning and cus- Armor Class is a combination of agility and effec-
tomization might alter these numbers as described later, tive ECM denoting the difficulty of landing a solid hit
but most ships of a given hull type will perform as listed. on the ship.
Cost is the price of the base hull with a drive-1 Power is the amount of free power available after
class spike drive. Any military hull type is generally the ships basic operation is taken into account. Fittings
unavailable without very good naval contacts with a and weapons take up some part of this power.
shipyards owning government or a carefully-placed Mass records the amount of free mass left unas-
favor to those in authority. signed by the hulls design. This free mass can be filled
Speed is the relative combat speed and maneuver- with fittings, weapons, or cargo holds.
ability of a ship. Over long distances a ships spike drive Hardpoints indicate how many weapons a ship can
rating is all that matters, but in the tight quarters of successfully mount. Most weapons take up one hard-
combat this can make a great difference. A ships Speed point, though particularly large or power-hungry ones
is added to all Pilot skill checks made by the crafts pilot, may take up more than that.
whether in combat or performing other maneuvers. Finally, the class of the particular hull shows the
Armor is the measure of the ships plating and re- general size of the ship. Some fittings and weapons
dundant systems, and is subtracted from any incoming have a minimum hull class, beneath which a ship is
damage from hostile fire or hazardous space environ- just too small to successfully install the hardware.
ments. Ship-mounted weapons with the Armor Pierc- Starship hulls are sturdy enough to ignore damage
ing trait may ignore part or all of this rating. Ships from small arms or TL3 Heavy weapons. TL4 Heavy
generally cannot be harmed by anything short of other weapons or demo charges applied to the exterior of a
ships guns, vehicle-mounted Heavy weapons or care- ship do half damage minus the ships Armor. If a sab-
fully-placed demo charges. oteur gets inside with such weapons, the damage is
Hit Points reflects the amount of damage the ship halved but Armor does not apply. Use of some Heavy
can take before it explodes or becomes inoperable. weapons in confined areas may be decidedly imprudent.
Building a Starship 95

Hull Types Fleet Cruiser: The favored ship of the line of most
The hull types listed below are some of the most com- wealthy, advanced worlds, and often the biggest
mon models found throughout the remnants of hu- and most powerful ship most planets can build. A
man space. Individual worlds often experiment with cruisers heavy armor and infrastructural support
different vessels as they gradually develop their own for heavy guns make it a lethal weapon against
astronautic doctrines, but these models have the benefit frigates and any other ship not optimized for
of long and proven utility. cracking heavy armor. They can prove vulnera-
ble to swarm attacks by fighter-bombers equipped
Strike Fighter: Small craft, often modified to replace with the right kind of armor-piercing weapons.
the spike drive with a system drive. Their speed, Battleship: Dreaded hulks of interstellar war, very few
cheapness, and combat utility make them a popu- worlds have the necessary technology or economy
lar choice as inexpensive system patrol craft. to support the massive expense of building and
Shuttle: The smallest craft thats regularly used for inter- crewing a battleship. Those that do gain access
stellar drills, a shuttle is a cheap means of moving to a ship that is largely invulnerable to anything
small amounts of precious material or important short of specially-designed anti-capital cruisers or
persons between worlds. hunter-killer frigates.
Free Merchant: A hull type much beloved by adven- Carrier: The queen of a fleet, even fewer polities can
turers, a free merchant has unimpressive combat afford to build one of these huge ships. Carriers
utility but can carry substantial amounts of cargo can support flights of fighter or frigate-class war-
while mounting enough weaponry to discourage ships, ones specially equipped to handle particular
small-craft piracy. missions. This versatility allows it to load fight-
Patrol Boat: The hull of choice for customs cutters and er-bombers for anti-capital missions one month,
system law enforcement, the patrol boat is a light and then switch to swarms of hunter-killer frig-
frigate built heavy enough to overawe small mer- ates the next when a hostile systems asteroid out-
chant vessels while still being relatively cheap to posts need to be destroyed. Stripped of its combat
build and crew. wings, however, a carrier has less individual fire-
Corvette: The smallest true combat frigate, and often power than a cruiser.
simply called a frigate by spacers. Corvettes have Stations: Almost every space-faring world has at least
significantly thicker armor than patrol boats and one space station in orbit. A station has no Speed
trade additional crew needs and less maneuver- score, no spike drive, and cannot perform any
ability for more available free mass. maneuvers in combat, though its transit jets can
Heavy Frigate: The heaviest starship that most poor slowly move it around a solar system over a matter
or resource-deprived worlds can build, the heavy of weeks. Civilian trade stations allow for docking
frigate can carry a significant loadout of weaponry by bulk freighters and ships not cleared to land on
and has enough crew to overwhelm most pirate the surface, while military stations strictly forbid
ships if it comes to a boarding action. While it any civilian docking. The small station listed here
packs a substantial punch, it lacks the armor of a is a Bannerjee-12, a common model found on poor
true cruiser-class warship. or backwater worlds with little traffic. The large
Bulk Freighter: This class of huge cargo ship is found station represents an Arx, a major trade station for
most often in peaceful, heavily-populated sectors. a hub world with money to spare.

Hull Type Cost Speed Armor HP Crew AC Power Mass Hard. Class
Strike Fighter 200k 5 5 8 1/1 16 5 2 1 Fighter
Shuttle 200k 3 0 15 1/10 11 3 5 1 Fighter
Free Merchant 500k 3 2 20 1/6 14 10 15 2 Frigate
Patrol Boat 2.5m 4 5 25 5/20 14 15 10 4 Frigate
Corvette 4m 2 10 40 10/40 13 15 15 6 Frigate
Heavy Frigate 7m 1 10 50 30/120 15 25 20 8 Frigate
Bulk Freighter 5m 0 0 40 10/40 11 15 25 2 Cruiser
Fleet Cruiser 10m 1 15 60 50/200 14 50 30 10 Cruiser
Battleship 50m 0 20 100 200/1,000 16 75 50 15 Capital
Carrier 60m 0 10 75 300/1,500 14 50 100 4 Capital
Small Station 5m N/A 5 120 20/200 11 50 40 10 Cruiser
Large Station 40m N/A 20 120 100/1000 17 125 75 30 Capital
96 Building a Starship

Starship Fittings
The following list of ship fittings are largely standard Auto-targeting system: Some ships run with more guns
TL4 technologies that are available in most sectors. A than crewmen. A single NPC or PC can man one
few items on the list are rare pretech devices that can- gun per round, firing it as often as the gunnery
not be acquired without special connections or a lucky chiefs Fire One Weapon or Fire All Guns actions
feat of salvage. allow, but sometimes thats not enough. Installing
Some costs are marked with an asterisk. These an autonomic targeting system for a gun allows it
costs are multiplied by 10 when the fitting is installed to shoot at a +2 hit bonus without human assis-
in a frigate-class hull, by 25 when installed in a cruis- tance. This system must be installed once for each
er-class hull, and by 100 when installed in a capital ship. gun that is to be self-manned.
Some power and mass entries are marked with a Automation support: The ship has been carefully fitted
hashmark. These costs are multiplied by 2 for frigates, to support the use of non-sentient expert system
3 for cruisers, and 4 for capital ships, rounded up. Note robots in its operation. At least one human, VI,
that you apply these multipliers even if the fitting only or True AI crew member is necessary to oversee
works on a large ship; a frigate with a Drill Course Reg- the bots and monitor spike drills, but otherwise
ulator pays 250,000 credits, not 25,000. crew may be replaced with cheap, basic robots at
a cost of 1,000 credits per crew member replaced.
Advanced research lab: A lab suitable for investigating Bots dont draw pay, dont take up life support,
alien xenolife, planetary geology, esoteric technol- and their maintenance is assumed to be part of the
ogy, and other mysteries of the cosmos. The lab ships operating costs. These bots are incapable of
contains cold sleep pods adequate to contain alien any actions unrelated to operating the ship and
samples, viro-shielded research cells, high-energy are treated as level-0 in their skills where relevant.
lasers, and other requisite tools. When used to in- Boarding tubes: Armored tubes equipped with laser cut-
vestigate some phenomenon or object, any appli- ter apertures can be used to forcibly invade a hos-
cable skill rolls are improved by +1 for a frigate lab, tile ship, provided the targets engines have been
+2 for a cruiser lab, and +3 for a capital ship lab. disabled. Ships without boarding tubes have to
Advanced nav computer: Forging new spike courses is send invaders across empty space to either make
too much an art to rely on computerized assis- an assault on a doubtless heavily-guarded airlock
tance, but an advanced nav computer can help on or cut their way in through the hull with laser
well-mapped routes. When navigating an inter- cutters and half an hour of work.
stellar drill course with charts less than a year old, Cargo lighter: Cruisers and larger craft cant land on
the navigator decreases drill difficulty by 2. planetary bodies, so they require small shuttlec-
Amphibious operation: This fitting includes the benefits raft for transport. A cargo lighter is only capable
of the Atmospheric Configuration fitting, as well as of surface-to-orbit flight, which takes roughly
allowing the ship to operate while immersed in a twenty minutes either way, but can latch on to
liquid medium. Submerged ships cannot be de- a standard pressurized cargo container holding
tected with conventional planetary traffic sensors up to 200 tons of cargo and passengers. These
and require military sonar and naval sensors to fix containers are usually collapsible and take up no
their position, resources often unavailable on less significant space when compressed for storage, as-
developed worlds. So long as the ship stays away suming theyre not simply disposable cargo shells.
from military naval craft and bases, it is almost This fitting can be purchased multiple times.
impossible to track while submerged. Only fighter Cargo space: Free mass can be traded for pressurized
and frigate hull classes can mount this fitting. cargo space. Tracked by weight for convenience,
Armory: Rather than maintaining lengthy lists of ship one cubic meter is usually one ton, with most ve-
equipment, a captain can simply buy an armory. hicles requiring ten tons when loaded, tanks tak-
Ships so equipped have whatever amounts of TL4 ing 25, and aircraft or mechs taking up 50 tons of
military-grade weaponry and armor that a crew cargo space. One point of free mass grants 2 tons
might require, and integral maintenance facilities of cargo space in a fighter, 20 tons in a frigate, 200
for its upkeep. There is enough gear available to tons in a cruiser, and 2000 tons in a capital-class
outfit the entire crew for normal use, but giving ship. This fitting can be purchased multiple times.
it away or losing it in use may deplete it. Cold sleep pods: These stasis pods can keep a subject
Atmospheric configuration: This fitting must be put alive for centuries provided that the ships power
in place when the ship is built, and cannot be doesnt fail. Each installation allows for keeping
installed on cruiser-class or larger ships. A ship a number of people equal to the ships maximum
designed for atmospheric flight can land on most crew in stasis indefinitely. This fitting can be in-
solid or aqueous surfaces. stalled multiple times.
Building a Starship 97

Ship Fitting Cost Power Mass Class Effect


Advanced lab 10k* 1# 2 Frigate Skill bonus for analysis and research
Advanced nav computer 10k* 1# 0 Frigate Adds +2 for traveling familiar spike courses
Amphibious operation 25k* 1 1# Fighter Can land and can operate under water
Armory 10k* 0 0 Frigate Weapons and armor for the crew
Atmospheric configuration 5k* 0 1# Fighter Can land: frigates and fighters only.
Auto-targeting system 50k 1 0 Fighter Fires one weapon system without a gunner
Automation support 10k* 2 1 Fighter Ship can use simple robots as crew
Boarding tubes 5k* 0 1 Frigate Allows boarding of a hostile disabled ship
Cargo lighter 25k 0 2 Frigate Orbit-to-surface cargo shuttle
Cargo space No cost 0 1 Fighter Pressurized cargo space
Cold sleep pods 5k* 1 1 Frigate Keeps occupants in stasis
Colony core 100k* 4 2# Frigate Ship can be deconstructed into a colony base
Drill course regulator 25k* 1# 1 Frigate Common drill routes become auto-successes
Drive-2 upgrade 10k* 1# 1# Fighter Upgrade a spike drive to drive-2 rating
Drive-3 upgrade 20k* 2# 2# Fighter Upgrade a spike drive to drive-3 rating
Drive-4 upgrade 40k* 2# 3# Frigate Upgrade a spike drive to drive-4 rating
Drive-5 upgrade 100k* 3# 3# Frigate Upgrade a spike drive to drive-5 rating
Drive-6 upgrade 500k* 3# 4# Cruiser Upgrade a spike drive to drive-6 rating
Drop pod 300k 0 2 Frigate Stealthed landing pod for troops
Emissions dampers 25k* 1# 1# Fighter Adds +2 to skill checks to avoid detection
Exodus bay 50k* 1# 2# Cruiser House vast numbers of cold sleep passengers
Extended life support 5k* 1# 1# Fighter Doubles maximum crew size
Extended medbay 5k* 1 1 Frigate Can provide medical care to more patients
Extended stores 2.5k* 0 1# Fighter Maximum life support duration is doubled
Fuel bunkers 2.5k* 0 1 Fighter Adds fuel for one more drill between fuelings
Fuel scoops 5k* 2 1# Frigate Ship can scoop fuel from a gas giant or star
Hydroponic production 10k* 1# 2# Cruiser Ship produces life support resources
Lifeboats 2.5k* 0 1 Frigate Emergency escape craft for a ships crew
Luxury cabins 10k* 1 1# Frigate 10% of the max crew get luxurious quarters
Mobile extractor 50k 2 1 Frigate Space mining and refinery fittings
Mobile factory 50k* 3 2# Cruiser Self-sustaining factory and repair facilities
Precognitive nav chamber 100k* 1 0 Frigate Allows a precog to assist in navigation
Sensor mask 10k* 1# 0 Frigate At long distances, disguise ship as another
Psionic anchorpoint Special 3 0 Frigate Focal point for allied psychics powers
Ship bay/fighter 200k 0 2 Cruiser Carrier housing for a fighter
Ship bay/frigate 1m 1 4 Capital Carrier housing for a frigate
Ships locker 2k* 0 0 Frigate General equipment for the crew
Shiptender mount 25k* 1 1 Frigate Allow another ship to hitch on a spike drive
Smugglers hold 2.5k* 0 1 Fighter Small amount of well-hidden cargo space
Survey sensor array 5k* 2 1 Frigate Improved planetary sensory array
System drive Special +1# +2# Fighter Replace spike drive with small system drive
Teleportation pads Special 1 1 Frigate Pretech teleportation to and from ship
Tractor beams 10k* 2 1 Frigate Manipulate objects in space at a distance
Vehicle transport fittings 2.5k* 0 1# Frigate Halve tonnage space of carried vehicles
Workshop 500* 1 0.5# Frigate Automated tech workshops for maintenance
98 Building a Starship

Colony core: The ship has been designed to act as the ting is selected, these numbers double. These pods
core of a future settlement. Once this fitting is put their inhabitants into very deep hibernation
engaged, the ship ceases to be operational as a so as to minimize the resources necessary to main-
starship, and builds out into a set of habitats, hy- tain their lives. Bringing them out of this stasis
droponic gardens, fusion plants, and living spaces requires a month of defrost. Crash awakenings
sufficient to support up to five times its maximum have a 25% chance of killing the subject. The pods
crew, including enough fabrication and workshop are rated for 100 years of stasis, but their actual
facilities to keep the settlement operational un- maximum duration is somewhat speculative.
der normal conditions. The settlement can be a Extended life support: The ship can be designed to ac-
deep-space hab, orbital installation, or planetary commodate a larger number of crew or passengers.
settlement. In the latter case, the ship must land Extended life support can be fitted multiple times;
to form the settlement; even ships without atmo- each time, the maximum crew rating of the ship
spheric operations can do so, but they can never increases by 100% of its normal maximum. Thus,
take off again. Once activated, a colony core can- a free merchant who installs this twice can have a
not be re-packed. maximum complement of 18 people.
Drill course regulator: Drills along a known spike drive Extended medbay: All ships are equipped with basic
route have no chance of failure so long as the route medical facilities for curing lightly injured crew
is no longer than twice the operating pilots skill members and keeping the seriously injured ones
level and does not involve course trimming. Thus, stable until reaching a planet. An extended med-
a navigator with Pilot-1 skill would always succeed bay improves those facilities, allowing for the
in making a drill of two hexes or less, provided the medical treatment of up to the ships entire max-
route was a known one. The drill course regu- imum crew at once, including the treatment of
lator requires a sophisticated technical base and critically wounded passengers.
compatible metadimensional energy conditions Extended stores: A normal complement of ships stores
in a given sector; many sectors no longer have can keep the maximum crew size supplied for two
this technology or lack the right environment to months. Each selection of Extended Stores doubles
use it. If the GM prefers a campaign where space that time, and can be fitted multiple times.
travel is always at least somewhat dangerous, they Fuel bunkers: Most ships require refueling after each
may deny access to this fitting. Ships piloted by drill jump, no matter the distance. Installing fuel
exceptionally talented navigators may choose not bunkers allows the ship to carry one additional
to mount it even then. load of fuel. This fitting can be installed multiple
Drive upgrades: A ship can improve its standard-issue times for ships that wish to minimize fueling.
drive-1 spike drive with additional phase filters Fuel scoops: Fuel scoops allow for the harvesting and
and power throughput refinements. A captain extraction of hydrogen from gas giants or the
needs buy only the final grade of drive desired. He penumbra of solar bodies. The extraction process
does not have to buy upgrades sequentially. Drives requires four days of processing and refinement,
of rating 4 and higher are generally TL5 artifacts but completely refuels the ship. Such fittings are
that cannot be built most modern worlds. common on explorer craft that cannot expect to
Drop pod: Armored and stealthed versions of cargo find refueling stations.
lighters, these craft are twice as fast, apply a -3 Hydroponic production: Some ships are designed to pro-
penalty to tracking and targeting skill checks, and duce food and air supplies for the crew. Selecting
can carry up to one hundred troops or passengers. hydroponic production allows for the indefinite
Many are equipped with assorted Heavy weapons supply of a number of crewmen equal to the ships
to clear the landing zone, and can be treated as maximum crew. This option may be taken multi-
flight-capable gravtanks for purposes of combat. ple times for farm ships, in which case each addi-
This fitting can be purchased multiple times. tional selection doubles the number of people the
Emissions dampers: Stealth systems can mask the ships ship can support.
energy emissions through careful modulation of Lifeboats: Selecting this fitting equips the ship with
the output. All travel times inside a star system are a number of single-use escape craft capable of
doubled when the system is engaged, but any skill reaching the nearest habitable planet or station
checks to avoid detection gain a +2 bonus. in a star system. If no such destination exists,
Exodus bay: These banked rows of compressed cold the boats can maintain their passengers for up
sleep pods are designed to carry enormous num- to a year in drugged semi-stasis. Lifeboats have
bers of people in extended hibernation, most of- fully-functional comm systems and are usually
ten colonists to some new homeworld or escapees equipped with basic survival supplies and distress
from some stellar disaster. A cruiser can carry up beacons. A single selection of this fitting provides
to 1,000 colonists in stasis, while a capital ship enough lifeboats for a ships maximum crew, with
can handle up to 5,000. Each further time this fit- up to twenty people per boat.
Building a Starship 99

Luxury cabins: Each time this fitting is selected, 10% Precognitive nav chamber: An extremely rare example
of the ships maximum crew gain access to lux- of psitech dating from before the Scream, a pre-
ury cabins of a spaciousness sufficient to please cognitive nav chamber allows a character with at
a wealthy star-farer. This fitting comes with the least Precognition-2 psionic skill to assist in inter-
usual zero-gee athletic courts, decorative foun- stellar drills, sensing impending shear alterations
tains, fine dining, and artistic fittings. before they happen. The navigator automatically
Mobile extractor: Automated mining and refinery succeeds on any spike drill check of difficulty 9 or
equipment has been built into the ship, allowing less. On a failed check, add 2 to the Spike Drive
it to extract resources from asteroids and plane- Mishap roll, limiting the potential damage. On
tary surfaces. Careful extraction of specific lodes drilling in to the destination system, the psychic
of valuable minerals can be quite profitable at the has expended all Effort in the process.
GMs discretion, but if the crew is simply melt- Psionic anchorpoint: This pretech relic is unavailable on
ing down available asteroids for raw materials, the open market in most sectors. Once installed
the unit can refine one ton of usable materials in a ship, it can be imprinted by up to a dozen
per day worth about 500 credits in most markets. psychics. These psychics can sense and affect any
These raw materials can be used to feed a mobile object or location within ten meters of the relic
factory, and a ship may have more than one mo- after one minute of concentration, provided they
bile extractor fitted to it to multiply the return are within the same solar system. Thus, teleport-
if sufficient raw feedstock is available. Operating ers can always teleport next to the anchorpoint,
an extractor requires at least five crew members. telepaths can always contact anyone within the
Mobile factory: The ship is equipped with a full-scale affected zone, telekinetics can manipulate objects
TL4 fabrication plant programmed to support its near the relic, and so forth. The relic can be re-
needs. The ship can stock raw materials and parts coded to eliminate existing imprints, but any psy-
at 5,000 credits per ton; these parts can then be chic who gets access to the relic for ten minutes of
used to pay ship repair or maintenance costs meditation and focus can imprint on it afterwards.
when conventional shipyards are unavailable. The There is no obvious way to tell how many psychics
factory can also create and repair vehicles, TL4 have imprinted to the anchorpoint.
equipment, space habs, and planetary structures Sensor mask: The ship can disguise its long-range sen-
with these parts at a rate of 10,000 credits worth sor readings, spoofing scans with the ID tags and
of construction a day. If a mobile extractor is apparent hull type of any other ship of its choice.
available, the raw materials processed by the lat- To penetrate this masquerade, the scanning enti-
ter unit can be used to feed the factory. Operating ty must beat a Wis/Program skill check against
a mobile factory requires at least 100 well-trained difficulty 10 plus the Program skill of the mask-
personnel. Each 10 fewer available doubles repair ing ships comms officer. Once the ship is close
or maintenance times. enough to visually identify, the masking is useless.
100 Building a Starship

Ship bays: These sophisticated docking bays provide System drive: The ships standard drive-1 spike drive is
all the necessary tools and support for launching removed and replaced with a different propulsion
a starship from the mother craft. They are rare- system. The ship is still treated as having a drive-1
ly seen outside of dedicated capital-class carriers, for maneuvering and system transit purposes, but
but some cruisers make room to mount a fight- it cannot make interstellar drills. This modifica-
er-class attack shuttle. Each bay allows room for tion lowers the cost of the basic hull by 10% and
one ship of the appropriate hull class. While the adds extra power and space based on the size of
carried ship can support its own crew if neces- the hull: 1 power for fighters, 2 for frigates, 3 for
sary, most carriers fold their space wing into the cruisers, and 4 for capital ship hulls. Twice this
motherships crew roster. This fitting can be taken amount of free mass is gained by the process.
multiple times. Teleportation pads: This TL5 tech is completely unavail-
Ships locker: Much like an armory, this option allows able in most sectors and was uncommon even on
a captain to lay in a general supply of equipment Mandate-era ships. The pads allow up to a dozen
likely to be useful to explorers and spacemen. Any people or 1,200 kilograms of matter to be tele-
TL4 equipment on the gear list can be found in ported to and from the surface of a planet or the
the ships locker in amounts commensurate with interior of a another ship, provided it is no more
the ships size. A few guns and some basic armor than a few tens of thousands of kilometers distant.
might be included as well, but for serious arma- Ship-to-ship teleportation is possible only when
ment an armory is required. There is enough gear the receiving ship is cooperating by transmitting
available to outfit the entire crew for normal use, accurate coordinate details; otherwise, a friendly,
but giving it away or losing it in use may deplete unjammed signal from inside is necessary to lock
the locker until it is restocked. onto the target point. Planetary teleportations are
Shiptender mount: The ship is designed with symbiosis possible only in the absence of physical barriers
mounts that allow other ships to hitch on the between the ship and the target point below. The
crafts spike drills. Each shiptender mount allows teleporters may be used once every five minutes.
one craft of a hull size smaller than the tender to In those rare sectors where this tech is widely
link up for intersystem drills. Mounts cannot be available, it costs 200k.
used for in-system travel. If the linking ship has Tractor beams: Gravitic projectors allow the ship to ma-
been designed to be carried by a tender then es- nipulate objects within its immediate area, push-
tablishing this link takes one hour. If not, it takes ing, pulling, and sliding objects no larger than a
a full day to fit the ship into the mount. Ships can ship of one hull class smaller. Targets with ship-
dismount from the tender with an hours disen- scale propulsion can resist the beams, but lifeboats,
tanglement. In an emergency, the carried ships can individual suit jets, or other smaller propulsors
dismount instantly, but the mountings are consid- are inadequate. The beam can focus on only one
ered disabled then until repairs are made. Carried object at a time but can move it into the ships
ships cannot fight. cargo bays or hurl it out of the ships immediate
Smugglers hold: Carefully-designed storage space in- vicinity within three rounds. The beams can only
tended to conceal illicit cargo from customs in- effectively manipulate objects in very low gravity,
spection. Each installation of this fitting adds 200 and not those on the surface of planets or other
kilograms of cargo space in a fighter, 2 tons in a objects with significant natural gravity.
frigate, 20 tons in a cruiser, or 200 tons in a capi- Vehicle transport fittings: The ship has been fitted with
tal ship. Cargo in a smugglers hold will never be specialized mounts, bunking, cargo bays, and
found by a standard customs inspection. Careful other facilities to expedite the transport of of-
investigation by a suspicious official can find it on ten-unwieldy vehicles, including mechs and other
a difficulty 10 check using their Wis/Notice skill, military craft. Any vehicles carried count as only
and a week-long search one step short of disas- half their usual cargo tonnage. Assuming trained
sembly will find it on a difficulty 7 check. operators, up to four vehicles can be offloaded or
Survey sensor array: Most ships require only basic ramped onto the ship per round in cases where
analysis of a star system, sufficient to identify speed is critical.
population centers, do rough scanning of an ob- Workshops: On-board workshops can be bought at
jects composition, and chart major navigational smaller than maximum sizes than a hull would al-
hazards. Survey sensor arrays greatly enhance low, if additional TL4 tech facilities arent strictly
the ships sensor abilities, allowing for finely-de- needed. A frigate-sized workshop is sufficient for
tailed mapping of objects and planets, along with modding any personal gear as per the modification
broad-spectrum communications analysis. They rules on page 100. A cruiser-sized workshop can
also improve attempts to detect other craft when handle vehicle modding and starship maintenance,
scanning a region for stealthy vessels. Any rolls and a capital-class workshop can build vehicles or
with survey sensor arrays add +2 to skill checks. similar large work from scratch at full cost.
Building a Starship 101

Starship Defenses
The defenses listed here are some of the more common Foxer Drones: These drones are invariably short-lived
ones installed in modern TL4 starships. Most non-war- due to the enormous energy signatures they pro-
ships mount little or nothing in the way of special de- duce, but until the ships next turn they grant a +2
fenses, preferring to save the hull space for cargo and AC bonus as their emissions confuse foes. Foxer
immediately useful fittings. drones are cheaply constructed and essentially
free; the only limit on their number is the amount
Ablative Hull Compartments: By sacrificing empty hull of free space set aside for holding them.
space in a complex system of ablative blast baffles, Grav Eddy Displacer: This system links with a ships
a capital-class ship can have a large amount of its navigational subsystem and randomizes the mo-
total mass shot away without actually impinging tion vectors in sympathy with metadimensional
on its normal function. This grants it a +1 AC gravitic currents. This agility gives any hit on the
bonus and 20 extra maximum hit points. ship a 1 in 6 chance of being negated entirely.
Augmented Plating: At the cost of a certain amount of Hardened Polyceramic Overlay: A complex glazing pro-
speed and maneuverability, a ship can have its ar- cess can harden the surface of a ships armor to
mor plating reinforced against glancing hits, gain- more effectively shed incoming attacks, decreas-
ing a +2 bonus to its AC. This augmentation can ing the armor-piercing quality of any hit by 5.
decrease a ships Speed below 0, meaning it will Planetary Defense Array: The ship is equipped with
be applied as a penalty to all Pilot tests. an array of gravitic braker guns and an upgrad-
Boarding Countermeasures: The ship has hardened ed nuke snuffer field. While useless in conven-
bulkheads, reinforced hatches, and specially-de- tional ship-to-ship combat, the array can deflect
signed automated kill corridors for wiping out or dampen meteor impacts, dropped penetrator
intruders. Provided that the ships bridge is still rods, or other non-powered bombardment tech-
under control, the operator can prevent entry to niques, and the snuffer field is powerful enough
the ship by any force that lacks shipyard-grade to prevent nuclear fission reactions over a hemi-
tools, weapons capable of melting hull plating, sphere-sized area. A single ship with a PDA can
or specialized military breaching implements. If protect against any natural meteor strikes and
intruders do get inside, only well-equipped, spe- deny easy terror bombardment of a planets pop-
cially-trained marines have any real chance of ulation. The PDA cannot fully protect against
breaching the defenses. Ordinary space pirates or orbital strikes by powered penetrators, but it can
more casual invaders have only a 1 in 6 chance nudge them off course and make pinpoint strikes
of threatening the bridge crew, though they may impractical. Most developed planets have much
cause significant damage in their dying. more powerful and effective ground installations,
Burst ECM Generator: A high-powered secondary ECM but a PDA-equipped ship is a useful emergency
generator can be activated to negate any one oth- stopgap for poor or primitive worlds.
erwise-successful hit against the ship. This gen- Point Defense Lasers: Too small to damage ships, these
erator can be activated after the damage has been point defense lasers can detonate or melt incom-
rolled, but enemy ships rapidly compensate for the ing munitions, improving the ships defenses
new ECM source, and so the generator can only against torpedoes, fractal impact charges, and
be used effectively once per engagement. other ammunition-based weapons.
Ship Defense Cost Power Mass Class Effect
Ablative Hull Compartments 100k* 5 2# Capital +1 AC, +20 maximum hit points
Augmented Plating 25k* 0 1# Fighter +2 AC, -1 Speed
Boarding Countermeasures 25k* 2 1# Frigate Makes enemy boarding more difficult
Burst ECM Generator 25k* 2 1# Frigate Negate one successful hit
Foxer Drones 10k* 2 1# Cruiser +2 AC for one round when fired, Ammo 5
Grav Eddy Displacer 50k* 5 2# Frigate 1 in 6 chance of any given attack missing.
Hardened Polyceramic Overlay 25k* 0 1# Fighter AP quality of attacking weapons reduced by 5
Planetary Defense Array 50k* 4 2# Frigate Anti-impact and anti-nuke surface defenses
Point Defense Lasers 10k* 3 2# Frigate +2 AC versus weapons that use ammo
* Credit costs are multiplied by 10 for frigate-class hulls, 25 for cruisers, and 100 for capital-class hulls
# These costs are multiplied by 2 for frigates, 3 for cruisers, and 4 for capital hulls.
102 Building a Starship

Starship Weaponry
Space is dangerous, and most ships mount the best
weapons their purse and their ships infrastructure Weapon Descriptions
can support. While most worlds limit the purchase of Each weapon listed below has a cost, the damage die it
warships by civilians, few place restraints on the type uses on a hit, and the amount of hardpoints, free power,
of weapons a civilian ship can mount. and mass it takes up in a hull. The minimum hull class
Ship weaponry tends to come in two classes. One required to mount it is also listed, as is the minimum
class of weapon is damaging and has moderate pow- tech level to manufacture it.
er and mass demands, but has comparatively weak All ship weapon attack and damage rolls use the
armor-piercing capabilities. Another class of weap- better of the gunners Intelligence or Dexterity modi-
on is expensive, taxing to a ships systems, and may fiers. Most use Shoot as the relevant skill, though Pilot
have somewhat inferior damage, but it has enough ar- can be used for the guns of a fighter-class ship.
mor-piercing to affect a warship of a hull size one step
larger than the mounting starship. Multifocal Laser: Twinned assay and penetration la-
The choice of which class of weapon to mount sers modulate the frequency of this beam for re-
usually depends on the type of opposition the designer markable armor penetration. These weapons are
expects the ship to face. Most civilian ships favor the popular choices for fighters intended for frigate
former kind, as few expect to engage true warships. or cruiser engagement.
Reaper Battery: Stepped tapping of the spike drive
Weapon Qualities power plant allows for the emission of a torrent
Ammo: The weapon or defense requires ammunition of charged particles. The particles have very little
to fire. Each rounds cost is listed after the weap- armor penetration, but can fry a small ships pow-
ons cost, and a number of rounds equal to the er grid in a strike or two.
weapons Ammo rating can be fit into one free Fractal Impact Charge: A spray of penetrator sabots that
mass unit. For example, a torpedo launcher can fit use fractal surfacing to increase impact. Favored
the magazine and loading gear for four torpedoes for bomber-class fighter hulls.
into one free mass unit, and each torpedo will cost Polyspectral MES Beam: A rare example of pretech
2,500 credits. For each ship class larger than the weaponry, a fighter equipped with a PMB can
minimum required to mount the weapon, double scratch even a battleships hull.
the stored ammo per unit. The weapon itself in- Sandthrower: Projecting a spray of tiny, dense partic-
cludes one free mass unit worth of ammunition ulate matter, sandthrowers are highly effective
as part of the installation, so simply mounting a against lightly-armored fighters.
torpedo launcher alone on a frigate gives the ship Flak Emitter Battery: A baseline frigate anti-fighter sys-
four rounds of ammo. tem, this battery fires waves of lasers or charged
AP: The weapon ignores this many points of a targets particles to knock down small craft.
armor. The Hardened Polyceramic Overlay defense Torpedo Launcher: Capable of damaging even a battle-
upgrade may lessen the effectiveness of this quali- ship, torpedoes are cumbersome, expensive, and
ty. The most a weapons AP rating can do is reduce often the core of a line frigates armament.
a targets effective armor to zero. It cannot add Charged Particle Caster: A focalized upgrade to the
additional damage to a hit. reaper battery, the CPC has a much better armor
Cloud: The weapon fires an omni-directional wave penetration profile.
or spray of projectiles. It automatically targets Plasma Beam: With superior targeting and a smaller
all fighter-class ships that have attacked the ship energy drain than a CPC, a plasma beam sacrifices
within the past round, and the gunner may make some armor penetration.
one attack roll against each target. Cloud weapons Mag Spike Array: A storm of magnetically-accelerated
have no effect on ships larger than fighter-class spike charges is almost guaranteed to eradicate any
hulls or intruders who are actually on the hull. fighter-class craft it hits.
Clumsy: Either through a slow discharge time or un- Nuclear Missiles: Useless in ship-to-ship combat or
wieldy engineering requirements, this weapon against any other TL4 planet with working nuke
suffers -4 to hit small fighter-class hulls. snuffers, one of these missiles can still erase an
Flak: These weapons launch vast numbers of small entire lostworlder city without such protection.
energy discharges or projectiles, and are particu- Spinal Beam Cannon: One of the first spinal-mount class
larly dangerous to small ships that rely on speed weapons, the SBC briefly channels the full power
over thick armor. Against fighter-class hulls, these of the ship into a charged beam. It lacks the power
weapons roll hit rolls and damage rolls twice and and penetration of the more advanced gravcan-
take the better result. non, but also takes less power to mount.
Building a Starship 103

Smart Cloud: A swarm of self-directed microdrones


sweeps over the ship. Their integral beam weap- Ground Weapons vs. Ships
onry is too small to damage larger ships, but they On rare occasions, PCs will have to deal with small
can wipe out an attacking fighter wave. arms fire against their spaceship, or evade ground
Gravcannon: Using much the same principles as guns when trying to escape a port or land safely
man-portable grav weaponry, the gravcannon on a hostile world.
causes targets to fall apart in a welter of mutual- As a basic rule of thumb, hostile TL3 small
ly-antagonistic gravitic fields. arms fire does no damage, TL4 small arms fire
Spike Inversion Projector: The SIP uses the ships spike does 1d6 damage per ten minutes of persistent
phasing as an offensive weapon, penetrating the gunfire, and Heavy weapons do half their rolled
target with a brief incursion of MES energies that damage, minus the ships Armor. Multiple Heavy
largely ignore attempts to evade. weapons blazing away at a grounded free mer-
Vortex Tunnel Inductor: A capital-class model of the SIP, chant can reduce it to unflyable scrap in short
a VTI is capable of incapacitating a cruiser in two order, but a peppering of mag rifle fire is unlikely
hits. Its bulk limits its utility against fighter-class to do serious damage to a ship that decamps with
craft, however. sufficient speed.
Mass Cannon: By firing projectiles almost as large as It is impossible to miss a grounded ship. The
fighter-scale craft, the mass cannon inflicts tre- Armor Class of a ship in flight will vary with the
mendous damage on a target. Serious ammunition situation; AC 10 for hovering nearby, AC 15 for
limitations hamper its wider-scale use. close-to-earth flight, and AC 20 if the ship is sim-
Lightning Charge Mantle: Modulation of the ships ply flying within weapon range.
power core emits a cloak of MES lightning. While Active ground-placed anti-ship defenses are
larger spike drive craft can shunt the energies a different matter. These massive lasers and ener-
away harmlessly, fighter-class ships are almost gy projectors are absolutely lethal at atmospheric
invariably destroyed if hit. ranges. Avoiding them is a Pilot skill check at a
Singularity Gun: One of the few surviving pretech GM-chosen difficulty of 8 to 10 for each round the
weapons in anything resembling wide currency, ship is exposed, suffering 2d10 damage with AP
this capital-class weapons system fires something 20 on each miss. A desperate ship can get outside
mathematically related to a miniaturized black the guns firing angle if it can survive three rounds
hole at a target. of this peril.

Ship Weapon Cost Dmg Power Mass Hard. Class TL Qualities


Multifocal Laser 100k 1d4 5 1 1 Fighter 4 AP 20
Reaper Battery 100k 3d4 4 1 1 Fighter 4 Clumsy
Fractal Impact Charge 200k/500 2d6 5 1 1 Fighter 4 AP 15, Ammo 4
Polyspectral MES Beam 2m 2d4 5 1 1 Fighter 5 AP 25
Sandthrower 50k 2d4 3 1 1 Fighter 4 Flak
Flak Emitter Battery 500k 2d6 5 3 1 Frigate 4 AP 10, Flak
Torpedo Launcher 500k/2.5k 3d8 10 3 1 Frigate 4 AP 20, Ammo 4
Charged Particle Caster 800k 3d6 10 1 2 Frigate 4 AP 15, Clumsy
Plasma Beam 700k 3d6 5 2 2 Frigate 4 AP 10
Mag Spike Array 1m/5k 2d6+2 5 2 2 Frigate 4 Flak, AP 10, Ammo 5

Nuclear Missiles 50k/5k Special 5 1 2 Frigate 4 Ammo 5


Spinal Beam Cannon 1.5m 3d10 10 5 3 Cruiser 4 AP 15, Clumsy
Smart Cloud 2m 3d10 10 5 2 Cruiser 4 Cloud, Clumsy
Gravcannon 2m 4d6 15 4 3 Cruiser 4 AP 20
Spike Inversion Projector 2.5m 3d8 10 3 3 Cruiser 4 AP 15
Vortex Tunnel Inductor 5m 3d20 20 10 4 Capital 4 AP 20, Clumsy
Mass Cannon 5m/50k 2d20 10 5 4 Capital 4 AP 20, Ammo 4
Lightning Charge Mantle 4m 1d20 15 5 2 Capital 4 AP 5, Cloud
Singularity Gun 20m 5d20 25 10 5 Capital 5 AP 25
104 Example Starships

Example Starships
Below are the final statistics for some of the more Costs are listed for the ship itself, for its six-month
common starship models in post-Silence human space. maintenance, and for the yearly employment of its
Each entry includes the default NPC crew skill modifier standard crew complement. PCs naturally need not
and the normal number of Command Points each one draw this pay, though theyll still need to lay out 20
gets each round under NPC crews. credits a day per head for food and other basic supplies.

Strike Fighter The standard drill-capable fighter craft of most TL4


HP: 8 Power: 5/1 free polities, this model retains a spike drive instead of re-
placing it with a cheaper systems drive. While the lone
AC: 16 Mass: 2/0 free
pilot would have to be desperate and heavily drugged
Armor: 5 Crew: 1/1 to make an entire spike drill solo, it remains an option
Speed: 5 Hull Class: Fighter when no larger craft is available.
Crew Skill: +2 NPC CP: 4 This particular model is equipped with a reaper
battery for dealing with small, lightly-armored civil-
Weapons: Reaper Battery (+4/3d4, Clumsy)
ian ships. Bomber-type fighters usually replace this
Defenses: None with a fractal impact charge to threaten larger warships,
Spike Drive-1 while fighters built to dogfight their peers favor fitting
Fittings:
Atmospheric Configuration a multifocal laser.
305K base price, 15,250 maintenance,
Cost:
43,800 yearly crew cost for 1 pilot

Shuttle This craft is a conventional civilian shuttle, albeit one


HP: 15 Power: 3/2 free with a spike drive sufficient to get it to a neighboring
system and enough passenger space to make it a min-
AC: 11 Mass: 5/0 free
imally-acceptable transport for brave VIPs and light
Armor: 0 Crew: 1/20 cargo. If used as an inter-system transport, however, at
Speed: 3 Hull Class: Fighter least three crew will be needed to safely navigate a drill.
Crew Skill: +1 NPC CP: 4 While cheap and flexible, the shuttle is entirely
unarmed and acutely vulnerable to piracy or hostile
Weapons: None
warships. In such cases the pilots only recourse is to
Defenses: None surrender or hope the small crafts nimble maneuver
Spike Drive-1 drives can keep it away from the attacker long enough
Fittings: Atmospheric Configuration to get to safety.
Extended Life Support, 6 tons cargo
210K base price, 10,500 maintenance,
Cost:
43,800 yearly crew cost for 1 pilot

Free Merchant A mainstay of freebooting merchant-adventurers


throughout human space, the standard free merchant
HP: 20 Power: 10/0 free
is an extremely versatile craft, capable of hauling sig-
AC: 14 Mass: 15/0 free nificant amounts of cargo to neighboring systems while
Armor: 2 Crew: 1/6 requiring very few hands to operate it. Only one crew
Speed: 3 Hull Class: Frigate member is needed for in-system flight, though spike
drills require three for normal margins of safety.
Crew Skill: +1 NPC CP: 4
The standard free merchant is not a warship, but
Multifocal Laser (+3/1d4, AP 20) its sandthrower is enough to discourage pirate shuttles
Weapons:
Sandthrower (+3/2d4, Flak) and the other small or fragile craft that wreckers or
Defenses: None primitive worlds tend to favor. The multifocal laser
Spike Drive-1, 160 tons of cargo space is ideal for a highly-skilled gunner who can snipe out
Fittings: Atmospheric Configuration important systems on an attacking vessel, but the ship
Fuel Scoops, Fuel Bunker lacks the armor and durability to stand up to a true war-
ship. Of course, with a sufficiently expert crew, even a
775K base price, 38,750 maintenance,
Cost: corvette might be threatened by the well-aimed guns
131,400 yearly crew cost for 3 crew
of a small craft like this.
Example Starships 105

Patrol Boat Patrol boats are often the largest ships fielded by poor
HP: 25 Power: 15/1 free or backward frontier worlds that lack the shipyard fa-
cilities or available resources to build bigger military
AC: 14 Mass: 10/0 free
craft. Even so, the ability to field two patrol boats for
Armor: 5 Crew: 5/20 the yearly maintenance cost of one corvette often ap-
Speed: 4 Hull Class: Frigate peals even to richer worlds that need more coverage
Crew Skill: +2 NPC CP: 5 than their available craft can provide.
Patrol boats are the smallest independent warships
Weapons: Plasma Beam (+4/3d6, AP 10)
fielded by most navies, as fighters are not normally
Defenses: None considered capable of extended independent opera-
Spike Drive-2 tion. They have considerable spike drive reach and are
Atmospheric Configuration faster in-system than most of their potential targets.
Fittings:
Extended Stores, Boarding Tubes While their single mounted gun is vulnerable to being
Armory, Ships Locker, Survey Sensors disabled by expert enemy gunners, the relatively thick
3.523M base price, 176K maintenance, armor of the ship and skilled damage control crew can
Cost: mitigate that danger. A few patrol boats replace their
657K yearly crew cost for 15 crew
survey sensor array with a sandthrower to up-gun the
ship, but most prefer the additional edge in scanning
potential smugglers.

Corvette The usual ship of the line of most modestly-funded


frontier navies, a corvette is a true warship, albeit of
HP: 40 Power: 15/0 free
a minimal size. While it is unable to land on worlds
AC: 13 Mass: 15/0 free with standard gravity, its cargo lighter allows crew and
Armor: 10 Crew: 10/40 cargo transit from the surface of a world, and its ex-
Speed: 2 Hull Class: Frigate tended stores allow for more than four months of field
operation under normal crew parameters.
Crew Skill: +2 NPC CP: 5
Most pirates flying reworked free merchants
2 Plasma Beams (+4/3d6, AP 10) or stolen patrol boats will turn tail as soon as a cor-
Weapons:
Sandthrower (+4/2d4, Flak) vette shows up in the region. Good armor, multiple
Defenses: Hardened Polyceramic Overlay ship-killing guns, and trained boarding marines make
Spike Drive-2, Cargo Lighter a corvette a death sentence to most stellar ruffians, and
Fittings: Extended Stores, Boarding Tubes even when a pirate wolf pack can bring one down, it
Armory, Ships Locker, Fuel Bunker usually comes at the cost of crippling damage.
The model depicted here is standard for anti-pi-
5.973M base price, 298K maintenance
Cost: racy and basic system defense missions. Against cruis-
1.314M yearly crew cost for 30 crew
er-class warships, however, this corvettes weapons
have insufficient armor penetration to seriously threat-
en such a major warship.

Heavy Frigate Sometimes confusingly called a light cruiser, a heavy


HP: 50 Power: 25/0 free frigate pushes the engineering parameters of a frigate
hull to the maximum available to most TL4 worlds.
AC: 15 Mass: 20/0 free Equipped with a torpedo launcher capable of threat-
Armor: 10 Crew: 30/120 ening even cruiser-class enemies, the heavy frigate
Speed: 1 Hull Class: Frigate can intimidate any ship of its weight class. Its heavy
Crew Skill: +2 NPC CP: 5 crew complement and military drop pod fitting allow
it to quickly dispatch well-armed marines to hot spots
2 Plasma Beams (+4/3d6, AP 10) throughout a solar system.
Weapons:
Torpedo (+4/3d8, AP 20, Ammo 4) However, despite the large weapon loadout, the
Defenses: Hardened Polyceramic Overlay heavy frigate remains a frigate. Its armor is significant-
Spike Drive-2, Drop Pod, 16 Torpedoes ly inferior to that of a true cruiser-class warship, and
Fittings: Fuel Scoops, Fuel Bunker, Armory most frigates built for same-class engagements can be
Ships Locker, Boarding Tubes a meaningful threat to it. It comes into its own as a
9.783M base price, 489K maintenance bludgeon against the other small warships likely to be
Cost: fielded by a peer star-faring polity.
3.942M yearly crew cost for 90 crew
106 Example Starships

Bulk Freighter Found only in rich, peaceful regions of space, the bulk
HP: 40 Power: 10/2 free freighter is capable of hauling thousands of tons of
goods between star systems. While its equipped with
AC: 11 Mass: 25/0 free
enough of a sting to discourage small-ship piracy, its
Armor: 0 Crew: 10/40 woefully inadequate to handle a warship, or even an
Speed: 0 Hull Class: Cruiser up-gunned free merchant.
Crew Skill: +1 NPC CP: 4 Some adventurers do find use for a bulk freighter
hull, however, trading off some of its massive cargo
Weapons: Plasma Beam (+3/3d6, AP 10)
space for more fittings and using customized modi-
Defenses: None fications to allow the ship to support heavier power
Spike Drive-2, Cargo Lighter demands. While the end result is no match for a true
Fittings: Fuel Bunker, Ships Locker cruiser, the sheer mass of the freighter can make it a
3,400 tons of cargo space dangerous opponent in the right hands.
6.088M base price, 304K maintenance
Cost:
657K yearly crew cost for 15 crew

Fleet Cruiser The archetypal warship of post-Silence humanity, the


HP: 60 Power: 50/4 free fleet cruiser is a ship-eating monster compared to its
AC: 14 Mass: 30/0 free smaller brethren in the navy. Only prosperous polities
Armor: 15 Crew: 50/200 can build such powerful ships, and even they some-
times find it more practical to have a flexible fleet of
Speed: 1 Hull Class: Cruiser small craft rather than a few heavily-armed cruisers.
Crew Skill: +2 NPC CP: 5 The chief advantage of a fleet cruiser is in its heav-
Gravcannon (+5/4d6, AP 20) ily-armored hull. Only special hunter-killer ships fitted
Weapons: Smart Cloud (+5/3d10, Cloud, Clumsy) with armor-piercing weaponry have any real chance of
2 Multifocal Laser (+5/1d4, AP 20) penetrating the cruisers thick skin. Those weapons are
Defenses: Hardened Polyceramic Overlay almost always more bulky and power-hungry than their
peer weapons, so enemy polities must usually choose
Spike Drive-3, Drop Pod between building small ships that are very effective at
Armory, Ships Locker, Boarding Tubes defeating other small ships, or building hunter-killers
Fittings:
Fuel Scoops, Advanced Nav Computer that can threaten cruisers but are at a disadvantage
60 tons of cargo space against their less specialized brethren.
17.17M base price, 858K maintenance
Cost:
6.58M yearly crew cost for 150 crew

Battleship
Built off the biggest hull class that TL4 polities can
HP: 120 Power: 75/8 free create, only the richest modern worlds can afford to
AC: 17 Mass: 50/0 free fabricate these massive engines of war. Even those
Armor: 20 Crew: 200/1,000 worlds with adequate resources to do so often balk at
expending such a tremendous amount of money on a
Speed: 0 Hull Class: Capital
single ship.
Crew Skill: +3 NPC CP: 6 Those that do build battleships do so for a reason.
Vortex Tunnel (+6/3d20, AP 20, Clumsy) The tremendous weight of fire these ships put out can
Light. Charge Mant. (+6/1d20, AP 5 Cloud) pop a cruiser in a single firing pass, and its reinforced
Weapons:
2 Multifocal Lasers (+6/1d4, AP 20) hull plating shrugs off all but the heaviest armor-pierc-
Gravcannon (+6/4d6, AP 20)
ing blows. Where cruisers often require hunter-killer
Hardened Polyceramic Overlay frigates to take them out, battleships commonly require
Defenses:
Ablative Hull Compartments hunter-killer cruisers to disable them.
Spike Drive-3, Drop Pod The main weakness of a battleship is the fact that it
Armory, Ships Locker, Boarding Tubes is only a single ship a single, extremely expensive ship.
Fittings: Fuel Scoops, Advanced Nav Computer It can only attack or defend a single location at a time,
Ship bay/Fighter w/Shuttle and an enemy that has the time and resources to build
Fuel Bunkers, 200 tons of cargo specialized anti-capital ships with AP weaponry and
79.06M base price, 4M maintenance expendable crews can bring the battleship down for far
Cost: less money than it cost to build it.
35M yearly crew cost for 800 crew
Example Starships 107

Building a Ship
A fortunate adventurer has won the favor of a pow- Next, she thinks about better engines. She brief-
erful shipping magnate, and has earned one million ly considers a drive-3 upgrade, but it would take 4
credits worth of astronautic work. The player thinks points of Power and Mass, leaving her almost no
its an excellent chance to have a ship built to fit the Power left for other fittings. She settles for a drive-2
adventuring partys needs. upgrade for 100k credits, 2 Power, and 2 Mass.
She starts by looking over the ship hulls and She takes a moment to think about adding some
quickly sees that a free merchant hull is the best she hardened polyceramic overlay to the merchant as a
can afford. A shuttle hull might work, but such a defense, but the ships Armor is so low that it doesnt
ship is too fragile for her liking. The hull itself costs seem worth the effort to harden it.
500,000 credits and comes with a drive-1 spike drive. The PCs will need to land, so she adds an atmo-
It also has free Power and Mass scores of 10 and spheric configuration at 50k and 2 Mass. She wants
15 respectively. The player can fill that space with fuel scoops so she doesnt have to trust to local refuel-
fittings and defenses as she wishes. ing stations, so thats 50k, 2 Power, and 2 Mass. Pru-
First, she looks at weaponry. She wants enough dence recommends a fuel bunker in case she needs
firepower to discourage small ships, but she cant to drill out before refueling, adding 25k and 1 Mass.
mount weapons that require a cruiser or capital hull, Shes so far spent 929,000 credits, 9 Power, and
and a plasma beam is far too expensive. She could 8 Mass. To spare bookkeeping, she puts in a ships
settle for a multifocal laser, which is cheap, but she locker for 25k, but an armory is too expensive; the
decides to up-gun to a fractal impact charge, trusting PCs will just have to track their own weapons and
in the partys Warrior to aim it well. It costs 200k ammo. The remaining Mass is turned into 140 tons
credits, 5 power, 1 mass, and 1 free hardpoint. It can of cargo space. Thus, the final ship costs 954,000
store up to 8 charges in the launcher since a frig- credits and uses 9 Power, and 15 Mass. At a rate of
ate-class hull is one larger than the minimum needed 25,000 credits of shipyard work a day, itll take the
to mount it. The charges themselves will cost her yards about 39 days to build, giving the party time to
another 4,000 credits. think about how theyll pay for maintenance

Carrier The queen of every navy that has one, a carrier is the
HP: 95 Power: 50/9 free pinnacle of TL4 shipbuilding technology and a mas-
sive credit sink for any polity rich or desperate enough
AC: 14 Mass: 100/0 free
to build one. Every fully-equipped carrier holds more
Armor: 10 Crew: 200/1,500 firepower than most modern navies can assemble, and
Speed: 0 Hull Class: Capital a single carrier is more than enough to crush most TL4
Crew Skill: +3 NPC CP: 6 naval task forces.
The carrier itself is only the vector for its tremen-
Weapons: Gravcannon (+6/4d6, AP 20)
dous payload of ships, both small fighters and cor-
Hardened Polyceramic Overlay vette-type daughter craft. The ability to quickly alter
Defenses:
Ablative Hull Compartments the flight wings of a carrier allows a rich planet to tailor
Drive-3, Drop Pod, 1000 tons cargo its loadout to the specific needs of a campaign, wheth-
Armory, Ships Locker, Workshop er its destroying the interstellar commerce and aster-
Fuel Scoops, Advanced Nav Computer oid mines of an enemy polity or going head-to-head
Fittings:
Lifeboats, Fuel Bunkers against their cruiser line of battle. Many polities further
20 Ship Bay/Fighter w/Fighters optimize their carrier-loaded ships by removing their
5 Ship Bay/Frigate w/Corvettes spike drives and replacing them with system drives, re-
126.88M base, 6.35M maintenance lying on the carrier to get them into position. Of course,
Cost: if the mothership is destroyed in hostile territory, these
43.8M yearly crew cost for 1,000 crew
orphans are doomed.
While a carrier has a belly full of death, the ship
itself is lightly gunned and has significantly weaker
armor than its battleship brethren. Any polity rich
enough to build a carrier knows well enough to equip
it with an escort of other ships to screen it from hos-
tile attentions. Lightly-armed as it is, a wing of fight-
er-bombers can leave it a burning hulk if its caught out
without protection.
108 Modifying and Tuning Starships

Modifying and Tuning Starships


Most ships are maintained in the condition they came
from the shipyard, with the crew and the engineers Installing Mods
working to keep things aligned with the shipwrights Every starship mod requires a certain amount of refit-
specifications. Such rigid conformity with standard ting work and after-market parts, along with a poten-
techniques ensures easy repair, cheap maintenance, and tial need for one or more pretech components. These
the ready ability to switch crews without requiring la- pretech components are not normally for sale, and are
borious retraining or familiarization. Not all engineers usually found only through salvage during adventur-
value these qualities so highly, however, and some pre- ing or as rewards for favors performed for important
fer to install their own improvements. personages. While they vary in structure and appear-
A ships engineer can alter the wiring, internal ance, for conveniences sake its assumed that a given
structure, or other specifications of a starship, either component can serve in installing any mod.
to improve overall performance or make tradeoffs that Building the mod can be done at a rate of one days
are useful to their needs. Making these modifications work for the crew per 5,000 credits in mod cost, or
isnt cheap, and they often require the strategic deploy- one day per 25,000 credits if a shipyards services are
ment of rare pretech ship components. available. Mods can also be torn out, a process taking
Engineers with sufficiently vast resources, ship- less than a day that reclaims any pretech components
yard access, and available pretech components can used in their construction but wastes any credit invest-
completely re-engineer a ship to integrate their im- ment in parts.
provements in the basic hull structure. These improve- Mod installation does not require a full shipyard,
ments no longer require their special attention to keep but it does assume the full crew of the ship is assisting
them operational, allowing the engineer to focus on the engineer in stripping components, welding in new
other modifications or allow less talented crewmen to fittings, and hauling heavy parts. A lone engineer cant
keep the ship in fighting trim. make mods to anything larger than a frigate-class hull,
and that might take a weeks painstaking labor for every
Mods and Maintenance 5,000 credits of cost.
Every engineer has a Maintenance score, the same used
for installing equipment mods as described on page 100. Redesigning Ships
The score is equal to their Intelligence modifier plus An engineer with vast amounts of money, components,
their Constitution modifier plus three times their Fix and shipyard support can completely rebuild a ship hull
score. Any mod maintenance is counted against this to include a mod as part of its basic structure, or re-
Maintenance score, whether for equipment or starships. design an existing hull schematic to include the mod.
An engineer can maintain a number of mods at This is much more expensive than a quick after-market
once equal to their Maintenance score. If a ship mod addition, but the mod becomes part of the basic ship
is neglected for one week of active use, it breaks down. itself and requires no further Maintenance.
Any fittings or functions dependent on the mod also To rebuild a ship with a mod, the engineer must
become inoperable until a sufficiently skilled engineer spend five times the usual cost in credits and twice as
spends at least 8 hours repairing the mod, a process many pretech components as usually required by the
which requires time but no significant additional parts. mod. A shipyard is mandatory for such extensive re-
Ships parked at a station or landing strip dont count design, and can do the work at a rate of 25,000 credits
as active for this purpose, so the ships engineer can worth each day.
go off for a weeks adventure or shore leave without To build an entirely new hull that includes the mod
returning to a broken-down starship. as part of its design, only the normal price of the mod
More than one engineer can work to maintain a must be paid in credits and components. By integrating
ships modifications, provided the maintenance officer the modification into the ships basic blueprints, the
has a Fix skill score as high as that needed to install the engineer makes it much easier to install and maintain
mod in the first place. This also assumes that the chief it. Of course, the entire hull must then be built from
engineer and any assistants work together closely to scratch at a shipyard, also at the usual rate of 25,000
properly teach the structure and quirks of the modifica- credits of work done per day.
tion. The difficulty of maintaining this close teamwork Theres a limit to the amount of flexibility an engi-
and sourcing exotic parts to maintain a non-standard neer has in such designs, however. A ship can only be
modification is one reason why very few NPC ships rebuilt or redesigned with a number of mods equal to
have mods. While theyre possible for elite craft and twice the engineers Fix skill score. Further mods can
idiosyncratic prototypes, most military ships or cor- be bolted on afterwards, but these will require Main-
porate traders have too much of a logistical burden to tenance to keep in operating order, just as with any
support these odd alterations. other mod.
Modifying and Tuning Starships 109

Example Starship Mods Eternal Reactor (Fix-2): The ships fuel tanks are re-
The following modifications arent the only alterations placed with effectively everlasting pretech energy
that a canny engineer can install on a starship, but cores. It no longer needs to refuel for drills or op-
theyre among the most common. Each one is listed eration. Cost: 5% of hull, 2 components/hull class
with the minimum Fix skill required to install or main- Extended Mass Support (Fix-1): The engineer trims back
tain the mod. the power core to allow for more ship mass. Lose
The credit price for most is expressed in a per- up to ten points of free Power; gain half as many
cent of the base hull cost; thus, to install a power trunk points of free Mass, rounded down. This mod can
streamlining mod with a 10% cost in a free merchant be installed multiple times. Cost: 10% of hull, one
hull would cost 50,000 credits, or 10% the cost of the component
base hull. In a battleship hull, that same mod would Low Emissions (Fix-1): Any sensor checks to detect the
cost 6,000,000 credits. ship have their difficulty increased by +2. Cost:
The pretech component cost is given in compo- 10% of hull, 1 component/hull class
nents per hull class. Thus, if a mod requires one com- Nemesis Tracker (Fix-3): The ships targeting comput-
ponent per hull class, it would take one component for ers are augmented with pretech prediction soft-
a fighter-class hull, two for a frigate, three for a cruiser, ware. Once per ship combat, a gunner on the ship
and four for a capital-class hull. These pretech compo- can take an Instant action to cause a weapon shot
nents are usually rare and restricted enough that they to hit, regardless of the hit roll. Cost: 5% of hull, 2
cannot be purchased on the open market. PCs need components/hull class
to find them during their adventures, acquire them Oversized Mountings (Fix-2): Choose a specific weapon
through favors to powerful persons, or intentionally or fitting that normally requires a hull size one
seek them out in salvage adventures. step larger than the ship the mod is installed on.
Most mods can be installed only once, though a The ship can mount that fitting. Cost: 15% of hull,
few of them labeled otherwise can be duplicated as far 1 component/hull size
as the ships infrastructure can support them. Power Trunk Streamlining (Fix-1): Sacrifice free hull
space for superior power core efficiency. Lose up
Cargo Efficiency Bays (Fix-1): The ships internal struc- to five points of free Mass; gain twice as many
ture is adjusted to optimize available cargo space. points of free Power. This mod can be installed
The ships total free Mass is decreased by 10%, multiple times. Cost: 10% of hull, one component
rounded up, but, each point of Mass dedicated to Q-Ship Cladding (Fix-1): Some or all of ships weapons
cargo space counts as two points. Cost: 10% of hull, are concealed from external observation and stan-
1 component/hull class dard scans when they are not deployed for combat.
Compact Magazines (Fix-1): The ship can carry twice The ship itself can be made to look like a merchant
as much ammunition as its available weapons and or freighter of its size class. Cost: 5% of hull, no
magazine space would normally allow. Cost: 5% components
of hull, no components Regenerative Armor (Fix-3): The ships Armor score
Drill Velocity Upgrade (Fix-2): The ships spike drive increases by 5 points. Cost: 15% of hull, 2 compo-
is counted as one level better when determining nents/hull class
spike drill transit speed and maximum drill range, Reinforced Armor (Fix-1): The ships Armor score in-
up to a maximum of drive-6. Cost: 10% of hull, 1 creases by the Fix skill of the installing engineer.
component/hull class The ship loses one point of Power and one point
Emergency Drill Activation (Fix-3): The ship can engage of Mass. Cost: 5% of hull
its spike drives even when in dangerous proximity Specialized Mountings (Fix-1): Choose a specific weapon
to a planetary body. When engaged, it can drill out or fitting when this mod is installed. The chosen
in a single round. Doing so increases the difficulty fitting requires only half the normal Power and
of any spike drive skill check by +2 if in-system or Mass per fitting installation, rounded down to a
+4 if actually landed. Drilling out from the surface minimum of 1. Cost: 10% of hull, no components
will destroy everything within 200 meters of the Volley Capacitors (Fix-2): The ships weaponry has been
ship. The mod can be used only once every four altered for rapid firing. Once per combat, the
weeks. Cost: 20% hull, 2 components/hull class ships gunner gets 4 Command Points that must
Emergency Thruster Boost (Fix-1): Retune the engines be spent on gunnery actions. Cost: 10% of hull,
for emergency power. Once per space combat, no components
gain a +2 bonus to Speed for three rounds. Cost: Weapon Overcharge (Fix-2): One weapon of the en-
10% of hull, no components gineers choice has been overcharged. It requires
Engine Optimization (Fix-2): The engines have been 50% more Power than a usual installation, but
optimized for realspace maneuverability. The rolls its damage twice and takes the better result
ships Speed increases by 1. Cost: 10% of hull, 1 each time. This mod may be installed more than
component/hull class once. Cost: 5% of hull, no components
110 Space Travel

Space Travel
Interstellar travel takes place through metadimensional
space, a higher-order continuum understood by only Making Spike Drills
a handful of brilliant researchers and astronautic en- Interstellar spike drills are dangerous. Some sectors
gineers. Fortunately, it is not necessary to have an in- have the technology and friendly-enough metadimen-
tuitive understanding of the place in order to operate sional weather to make standard drill paths relatively
a spike drive starship. While modern postech spike safe for travel. Ships in these favored sectors can move
drives are neither as powerful nor as efficient as the between connected worlds with no significant chance
exquisite creations of the Terran Mandate, most TL4 of disaster. Other sectors are not so fortunate, nor are
worlds can still put together the necessary components those ships that must forge through uncharted meta-
to get a ship from one stellar system to another. dimensional space to reach their destination. Careless
Within the gravity well created by a stellar body, a navigation or sheer bad luck can result in these ships
spike drive provides sub-light propulsion sufficient to being snuffed out by an unexpected surge of metadi-
get the ship to most system locations within a few days mensional energy or lost in the storms of hyperdimen-
at most. Only at the edge of a solar system, where the sional space.
gravitic influence of the star dwindles away to almost To make a successful spike drill, the target system
nothing, can the spike drive be fully engaged to cata- must be within range. A spike drive has a hex range
pult the ship into metadimensional space. This gravitic equal to its rating; a drive-3 can reach a star three hexes
transition zone is critical for providing the necessary away on the sector map. Note that these sector maps
step-up and step-down for a spike drive. Without such are abstractions rather than strict 2D maps. A star three
a transition, a ship can neither climb into metadimen- hexes away might be a vast distance away, but connect-
sional space nor come down from those elevated di- ed by a friendly stretch of metadimensional space. Con-
mensional frequencies. Only a star is sufficient to pro- versely, an empty adjacent hex might have a star in
vide enough of a gravitic gradient; random interstellar it, but its surrounded by killing waves of impenetrable
rocks and debris dont exert enough of an influence to dimensional disruption. Because of this, convention-
form a usable transition zone. al astronomical mapping isnt overly useful to transit.
Ships are generally unable to overshoot a transi- The astronomers might know that theres a star only a
tion zone. If a ship is coming into a system from a spike few light years away, but if the navigators cant find a
drive course to the stellar northwest of the star, it will metadimensional path to it, it might as well be on the
appear at the northwest edge of the solar system. Its far side of the galaxy.
pilot cant choose to overshoot that region, traveling A spike drill requires one load of fuel. Most ships
across the solar system to come down on the south- can hold a single load of fuel at any one time. All can
eastern edge of the stars transition zone. This property be refueled from the appropriate refineries or starport
allows a solar systems owner to fortify probable transit tending services, while others can use fuel scoop fit-
paths into the system, placing defenses and picket ships tings to refuel from a star or gas giant. Other ships
in the path of likely arrivals. have fuel bunkers that can hold more than one load of
This can be a difficult and expensive process if the fuel, for quick double-drills when speed is vital. Normal
star is in a crowded stellar neighborhood. The transit intra-system maneuvering uses no significant amount
paths from each potential destination are different; if of fuel, and refueling costs a flat 500 credits per load.
a star has two other systems to its east, it has to fortify A spike drill requires time. A safe drill procedure
two different arrival zones if it wants to be confident requires half an hour to enter metadimensional space,
of detecting incoming ships from both stars. If an ex- though this process can be rushed at greater risk. The
ceptionally powerful spike drive allows an intruder to transit time is six days per hex traveled, divided by the
drill in from a more-distant star, the local polity might spike drill rating. Thus, a drive-3 crossing two hexes
have no local sensors at all in the region, having never would take four days, while a drive-1 moving to an
anticipated that a ship might come directly from such adjacent hex would take six days. Daring navigators
a distant location. can trim the course, accepting greater risks in transit
These relatively-fixed arrival zones only apply in order to increase their effective drive rating by 1 for
to ships arriving at a star. A ship can leave from any purposes of determining the speed of travel, though
location on the rim, traveling toward any destination this bonus doesnt increase the drives maximum range.
within reach of its spike drive. Thus, a ship thats able A spike drill needs a course record, or rutter to
to skulk past a systems frontier sensors can usually find guide the pilot. Ideally, this is an up-to-date and recent
an empty region of space in the transition zone to skip record of the metadimensional currents and energetic
out undetected. It also has no obligation to be on the weather between the origin and destination of their
correct side of the star to go leaping off toward a par- course, one reported by a recent traveler. The older and
ticular stellar destination. staler the readings of the rutter, the more dangerous
Space Travel 111

the drill. Most rutters for commonly-traveled routes Intra-System Travel


are freely available, and significant trade corridors Traveling inside a solar system is much safer and more
usually have ones only a few days old available to any rapid than interstellar travel. Barring unusual perils or
pilot making the drill. Rutters charting heretofore-un- mechanical failure, such journeys can be made without
known paths between stars are often kept jealously se- Pilot skill checks or risk of dramatic mishaps.
cret by their owners, and may require an adventure or For convenience, space within a solar system is
a favor to obtain. broken up in regions. Each region is simply a place of
Attempting to drill to a star without any rutter interest within the system; planets are regions, fortified
at all is insanely dangerous, the work of near-suicidal arrival zones are regions, particular pirate lairs in the
crew of adventurers willing to risk everything in order asteroid belts are regions, and so forth. Any particular
to obtain a secret route to some hopefully-unplundered place of interest and its satellite areas can be treated as
world. Only a masterful interstellar navigator has any a single region.
real hope of surviving such a blind drill. The base travel time for moving inside a region is
Finally, a spike drill needs a pilot. Only a human six hours. Thus, in six hours a ship could travel from a
or other sentient-grade intellect is capable of dealing planetary starport to a site on the planets moon, or to
with the dangerously unpredictable perils of metadi- a distant science station orbiting around the planet, or
mensional space, as expert systems and other dumb to a distress beacon in space near that world. Any place
robots simply cant handle the random dangers. Most within that region can be reached within six hours, or
ships require at least three crew members to cover all faster at the GMs discretion.
the bridge watches necessary, though only one of these The base travel time for moving between regions
crew needs to be an actual pilot. In desperate circum- is forty-eight hours. A ship in orbit around one planet
stances, a lone pilot can use drugs to stay awake for as could thus travel to an entirely different planet, or to
much as a week in order to single-handedly steer a ship the transition zone at the rim of the system, or to a
to its destination. ship detected deep within system space, or to an aster-
If all these ingredients are in place and the ship oid pirate base, or to any other point of interest in the
is at the edge of the solar system, a ships navigator solar system.
can make an Int/Pilot skill check to make a successful Base travel time is divided by the ships spike drive
spike drill, the process taking 30 minutes. If rushed, rating. Thus, a ship with drive-3 could reach another
it takes only one ship combat round to execute. The region in the system in only 16 hours. Bold navigators
base difficulty is 7, modified by the available rutter, the can trim the course to increase their effective spike
distance drilled, rushed procedures, and whether or not drive rating by 1 by making a successful Pilot check at
the navigator is trimming the course to speed up the difficulty 9. On a failure, the travel actually takes twice
transit. If the final difficulty is 6 or less, the drill is too as long as usual.
safe and simple to have any risk of failure.

Spike Drills 3d6 Spike Drill Mishap


Base difficulty for a spike drill 7 3 Catastrophic dimensional energy incursion.
Ship emerges around a star within 1d6
hexes of the target destination with drive
The course is totally uncharted +6
and all systems destroyed.
The rutters more than 5 years old +2
4-5 Shear surge overwhelms internal systems.
The rutters from 1 to 5 years old +1 Ship emerges around star nearest to drill
The rutters less than a year old +0 origin. 50% chance for each system to be
The rutters less than a month old -2 disabled until repaired. If the spike drive is
disabled, treat as if a 3 were rolled.
6-8 Power spike. One system disabled until
The drills distance, per 2 full hexes +1
repaired, ship stuck in transit for full base
Trimming the course +2 time before being able to make another
The drill activation was rushed +2 Pilot check. If the spike drive fails, treat as if
a 3 were rolled.
If the roll fails, something has gone wrong on 9-12 Ship off course. Spend base time in transit,
the drill, and a roll on the failed navigation results are then make another Pilot check.
necessary. These mishaps dont normally result in the 13-16 Ship off course, but detected early. Make
summary death of the crew, but they often force the another Pilot check.
navigator to make emergency course changes or drill 16-17 Drill successful, but takes twice base time.
exits that might leave the ship in a dangerously un-
18 Drill successful and on time, by blind luck.
friendly region of space.
112 Sensors and Detection

Sensors and Detection


Adventurers often find it necessary to be very discreet To break a lock, a tracked ship needs to leave the
about their comings and goings within a solar system, region. As soon as it does, the observer and the ship
as do pirates, hostile warships, smugglers, and other repeat their opposed skill check. If the observer wins,
nefarious sorts. Space is wide and dark, and if a ship is it continues to track the ship, while a tie or loss means
careful to avoid inhabited regions it can often escape the ship slips the lock. Any observers in the destination
notice by a systems inhabitants. region can attempt to pick up the ship immediately and
then once every 24 hours, but the original observer is
Hiding and Seeking out of luck. Provided a ship is willing to escape to the
As a general matter it is very difficult to spot a ship in region of deep space above or below the solar ecliptic,
deep space when it doesnt wish to be spotted. Once a its extremely unlikely that therell be anything there to
ships energy signature is identified, however, it be- spot them. Of course, such escape also means staying
comes much easier to follow the ships movement; such clear of potential refuges. A ship that flees to the edge
a positional fix is called a detection lock, and once a ship of the system region can drill out to safety from there,
has been locked by an observer it can be tracked at any and unless they pick a chunk of the rim monitored
distance in the system. by the locals, they can do so with impunity. Very few
Fixing a lock on a target requires the observer to worlds can monitor the entire system perimeter.
be in the same region of space and to win an opposed When rolling for observation, only roll once for
Int/Program skill check against the ships comms of- any given group, outpost, or planet, using the best
ficer. If the observer wins the opposed roll, they get a modifiers available. Thus, if a battle squadron includ-
detection lock on the ship. If they lose or tie, they re- ing a cruiser and three frigates rolls to observe, the
main oblivious to the ships presence and can try again GM would use the skill bonus and +2 modifier for the
in 24 hours. The active sensors used to form a detection cruisers crew. If a separate pirate ship was in the same
lock can be detected by the target; they know theyve region, the GM would roll for them as well, because
been made. If the observing ship uses passive sensors, theyre a separate force in the region.
the lock is undetectable, but its more difficult to obtain.
The observer takes bonuses and penalties to their Pursuit and Escape
opposed skill check based on the circumstances as listed Adventurers have a habit of drawing unfriendly atten-
below. This can alter their die roll substantially, and tion from hostile ships. While escape from a combat
make concealment almost impossible for ships not engagement is a matter of maneuver jets and good pi-
specially equipped for stealth. The modifiers below are loting, long-range chases rely more on a ships spike
common ones, but particular regions of space may have drives to provide raw motive power.
their own hazards or complications, with some making A pursuer must be in the same region of space to
detection so difficult that they become favorite lairs for pursue and must have a detection lock. Of course, if the
pirates and malcontents. pursued lacks a detection lock on the pursuer, theyll
have no idea that theyre being chased.
Observer is... Mod Target Ship is... Mod Both ships make Int/Pilot opposed skill checks,
Fighter +0 Fighter +3 each adding their spike drive rating to the roll. If the
Frigate +1 Frigate +2 pursuer wins or ties, they force an engagement and
Cruiser +2 Cruiser +1 the ships are moved into combat range. If the pursued
ship wins, it gets six hours of distance, modified by any
Capital +3 Capital +0 difference in spike drive ratings; a drive-1 ship being
Minor Outpost +2 Station -2 chased by a drive-2 ship would have three hours, for
Major Station +4 Avoiding planetary +2 example. It can use this time to reach a particular point
Planet +5 population centers inside the region, or can put it toward an attempt to
escape the region entirely. Ships with spike drive-1 en-
Passive sensors -2 gines need 48 hours to enter a new region, so they are
The larger the ship, the better the sensors it will unlikely to avoid a determined pursuer; one with spike
have, but the easier it is to spot it in space. Minor out- drive-3, on the other hand, can make the escape in only
posts would reflect small deep-space habs or listening 16 hours. Some pilots may attempt to speed this up by
posts, while major space stations would include most trimming their course.
military stations and other significant fortifications. A pursuing ship can also use this six hours to aim
Ships that carefully avoid population centers when toward a different region, if it thinks it knows where
landing on a world can mitigate some of the danger of the ship is running. Assuming they can keep the detec-
a planetary sensor network, leaving smugglers and pi- tion lock when the pursued ship slips over the sub-stel-
rates to prefer landing in remote, little-inhabited areas. lar border, they can end up close on their preys heels.
Sensors and Detection 113

Scanning Planets and Ships mounted, where good boarding points might be on the
Short-range scans of ships and planetary objects are rel- hull, whether the ship looks to be the product of a par-
atively simple affairs. Any scan of a ship within combat ticular world or culture, or simply to question wheth-
range will reveal the ships hull type, obvious weaponry er anything looks odd about the ships readings. The
and damage, and registered ID code. A scan of a planet sensors can probe a meter or so beneath the hull skin,
in orbit will always reveal basic information on atmo- but they cant intrude on a ships computer network or
sphere, geology, advanced energy-using surface com- provide a map of interior spaces.
munities, other ships in orbit, and any surface features When scanning a planet, a comms officer can ask
designed to attract orbital interest. about apparent capitals or spaceports, major industrial
Comms officers can attempt to interrogate the sites, unusual planetary weather patterns, unique aller-
scans, asking one question before rolling an Int/Pro- gens or atmospheric hazards, current local news trans-
gram skill check against difficulty 8. On a success, the missions, or identify hidden or low-tech communities
question is answered, while a failure means that the that are large but do not have clear energy signatures.
data is inconclusive and no further questions can be If they have the Survey Sensor Array fitting, they
asked of it that day. Each question after the first suc- can do orbital visual spying accurate enough to read
cess that same day is asked at a cumulative +1 difficulty newsprint, in addition to asking questions about sub-
modifier. Questions should be simple and direct. terranean spaces, visible surface life forms of interest,
When scanning a ship, a comms officer might crude maps of the interior spaces, and interesting en-
ask whether particular fittings or weapons have been ergy readings.

Maintenance and Repair Sneaking In


Ships are expensive things to keep flying, and many The free merchant Grendel has just drilled into a
adventuring crews find themselves taking somewhat new system using charts her captain stole from an
dubious work just to get enough money to keep their unfortunate pirate.
ship in the air. As it happens, a small pirate base is positioned
in the region, placed there by its inhabitants to
Spares, Repairs and Refueling keep an eye on any traffic from the adjacent sys-
Most ships have their repairs and maintenance done at tem. They get a chance to detect the Grendel, and
a shipyard, but a ship can perform field maintenance roll the pirate comm officers skill bonus of +2 plus
and repair if they have the necessary parts. One ton of another +2 for being a minor outpost, and a -2
cargo space can hold 10,000 credits worth of spare parts. for using passive sensors to avoid alerting targets.
Any time required is quadrupled, however. Their total is 12. The Grendels comms officer is
Ship fuel costs a flat 500 credits per load. good, however, and gets a +2 for being a frig-
ate-class ship. His Int/Program skill roll is a 13,
Six-Month Maintenance meaning the base has not detected the ship.
Every ship needs to spend 5% of its total non-crew cost Now the free merchant gets a chance to spot
every six months in order to pay for basic maintenance. the station, also using passive sensors at a -2 pen-
Each such period that is skipped applies a -1 penalty to alty. The outpost is a very visible space station, and
all ship skill checks and hit rolls. At -4, the ship gains a takes -2 on its opposed roll, while the frigate gains
10% chance per month of breaking down entirely until a +1 on its check. The base rolls a 7 and the Grendel
backlogged maintenance is repaired. At a shipyard, this rolls an 8. The frigate has a detection lock on the
maintenance takes a day for a fighter hull, a week for a pirate base.
frigate or cruiser, and a month for a capital ship. Her captain decides to sneak further into the
system. She cant be sure the station hasnt spotted
Repairing Hulls and Systems her, but its made no obvious sign of it and she
Fixing ship hit points can be done at a cost of 1,000 wants to investigate the local planets and their in-
credits per point, with up to the presiding engineers habitants. The Grendels drive-2 engine can cross
Fix skill repaired in points each day. A disabled sys- over to a planets region with 24 hours of travel.
tem can be jury-rigged back to functionality for one- This will give the station one more chance
tenth the systems cost and one days work per 25,000 to lock the ship, since it can try again in 24 hours.
credits so spent. A jury-rigged system that is disabled Even if it does successfully lock the free merchant,
again is destroyed. Full repairs of a disabled system cost however, the captain bets they can lose it when
one-quarter of its original price. they transfer out of the solar region. The pirate
Repairs made during combat do not need to be base might broadcast an alert to any other local al-
re-done or paid for afterwards, as they were performed lies, however, which could make things awkward.
before the damage could become critical and lasting.
114 Space Combat

Space Combat
The clash of ships in the void, the flash of silent ex- unfriendly, its in the charge of the gunners who man
plosions and soundless death these things are famil- this department. Theyre the ones who fire a ships guns
iar to interstellar adventurers, and a natural hazard of and make the targeting calculations necessary to snipe
the profession. While most adventurers seek to avoid specific systems and weapons on a hostile target.
such hull-melting conflagrations of war, sometimes the Engineering keeps the ship flying when enemies
choice is not their own. When two or more ships close are carving chunks out of her hull. They can perform
to combat range with the intent to kill, its time to fight. damage control, boost the engines to speed a ships ma-
neuvers, and execute emergency repairs to get a dam-
The Combat Round aged system back online before its too late.
Space combat begins with a normal initiative roll, one The comms department doesnt just handle in-
made by each ship involved in the combat. Each rolls ter-ship communications, but it also manages sensors,
1d8 modified by the Intelligence or Dexterity modifier electronic warfare, and combat hacking duties. Their
of the pilot, and they take their turns in order, with crew can baffle enemy targeting attempts, fool hostile
PCs winning ties. Once every ship has had a turn, the sensors, and choke enemy computers with ECM.
round starts over from the top. Initiative is not rerolled. The captain is master of the ship and directs the
A round of ship combat takes about 15 minutes, but other departments. On a warship, this discipline might
Experts and Warriors can only use their special class be taut and automatic. On a ship piloted by PCs, obe-
abilities to reroll skill checks or ensure automatic hits dience may be less certain. Regardless, the captain can
once per engagement. boost the effectiveness of other departments, direct
On its turn, a ships captain decides in which order crew for perilous but necessary tasks, or convert oth-
its various departments will act: bridge, gunnery, en- erwise-crippling hits into more manageable crises.
gineering, comms, and captain. Each department then For player-run ships, every PC should be put in
chooses actions, choosing either from their specific charge of one of these departments, preferably the one
department or a general action available to all depart- that best suits their characters skills. If a PC is totally
ments. A department head can choose actions from incompetent for space combat, they can be given tem-
only one category; they cant pick from both. Some of porary control of the NPC officer who actually is in
these actions generate Command Points, allowing other charge of the department, and can run that NPC as
departments to spend these points taking actions that their character during the fight. If the ship is so small
require them. When all departments have acted, the that there is no NPC available to run the department,
next ship in order can go. then the PC is treated as a supernumerary officer, and
If the ship is an NPC ship, the GM can abbrevi- can only take actions from the general action list avail-
ate the process, giving it a fixed number of Command able to all departments.
Points based on its general crew quality, with the ship Sometimes there are fewer PCs than there are de-
being able to take whatever actions it needs using that partments. In that case, double-up the duties of two
total. Fighters and civilian ships usually have 4 Com- or more departments on a single PC. That PC can
mand Points, military or pirate ships have 5, native still only take actions from one departments per turn;
spacers and highly-trained warships have 6, and the any departments they dont take an action from are
finest NPC crews in space can muster 7 points. assumed to use the Do Your Duty action, adding 1 Com-
mand Point to the ships available total. Thus, if a PC
Ship Departments was in charge of both the bridge and the comms, she
For purposes of interstellar combat, every ship is as- could take actions either from the bridge list, the com-
sumed to have five departments: bridge, gunnery, en- ms list, or the general list of actions. If she didnt pick
gineering, comms, and captain. A ship with too few any action from the bridge or comms list, the neglected
crew to actually man these departments may have to department would simply use Do Your Duty to add +1
double-up on staffing, but these five functions are the Command Point to the ships available total. For a sin-
ones that are critical during space combat, and every gle-seat fighter, the lone crewman might have all five
ship has to be able to act on them. departments on his head. Such a pilot would be able to
The bridge is where the ships piloting and naviga- take actions from any single department each round
tion is done. This might be no more than the cramped with the other four providing 4 Command Points to
cockpit of a starfighter or it might be a cavernous cen- fuel that action.
tral control node in the bowels of a battleship. The Sometimes the PCs may want to swap depart-
bridge department handles attempts to escape combat, ments in mid-battle for some reason, or to replace a
perform evasive maneuvers, or pursue a fleeing enemy. department head who has been incapacitated. They
The gunnery department is in charge of the ships may do so at the start of any given combat turn pro-
weaponry. If its used to blow pieces out of something vided that the department heads involved do not object.
Space Combat 115

Actions and Command Points Attacks and Damage


At the start of every ships turn, the captain decides the When a ship fires a weapon, it can choose any target
order in which the departments will take their action. involved in the combat. Either the gunnery department
In the chaos of combat, she can give directions to the head, an NPC, or a nominated PC may make the attack,
heads, but they are not obligated to follow them. but a given gunner can man only one gun a round. The
When a departments turn comes up, the PC in gunnery head is always the one to spend Command
charge chooses actions, either from their department Points to fire, but their nominees may be the ones ac-
list or the general action list. Some actions may re- tually manning the guns and rolling the attacks.
quire skill checks to execute properly, while others are The gunner rolls a normal hit roll, using their
automatically successful. Some actions may require base attack bonus plus the better of their Intelligence
Command Points to be spent in order to attempt them, or Dexterity mods, plus their Shoot skill. If flying a
while others give Command Points. A few prohibit the fighter-class ship, Pilot may be used in place of Shoot.
PC from doing any other action that round. Foci that normally give bonuses to Shoot attacks, such
Barring these actions, a department head can take as Gunslinger, do not apply to ship combat unless specif-
as many actions as they have Command Points to spend ically noted as doing so. The luck ability of the Warrior
on them. A gunnery chief with 4 Command Points, for class may be used once per fight to hit with ship guns,
example, could use the Fire One Weapon action twice, but cannot be used to negate a hit against their ship.
spending 2 Command Points each time, or he could If the hit roll equals or exceeds the target ships
use the Fire All Guns action once, spending 3 Command Armor Class, the attack is a success and the attacker
Points and leaving 1 left. The department head does not may roll damage, again modified by the better of the
need to get permission to spend points from the rest of gunners Intelligence or Dexterity modifiers. This dam-
the crew; if he decides to burn the points to open fire age is lessened by the targets Armor score, which may
when the rest of the crew wanted him to save them, in turn be negated by a guns Armor-Piercing quality.
thats too bad for the rest of the crew. A traitorous or A successful hit by a plasma beam, for example, does
uncooperative department head can only be stopped 3d6 damage plus the gunners attribute modifier, with
by PC intervention with the Deal With a Crisis action. an Armor Piercing quality of 10. Against a free mer-
After every department has acted, all excess Com- chant with an Armor score of 2, the full damage of the
mand Points are lost. Ships normally start their turns beam gets through, as the AP 10 cancels out all the
with 0 Command Points. merchants Armor.
116 Space Combat

Armor can negate all damage from a hit if its Handling Crises
strong enough. If Armor completely negates the attack, To resolve a Crisis, a PC needs to take the Deal With
the hit cannot disable systems. a Crisis general action on their department turn. They
Sufficiently skilled gunners can use the Target Sys- must explain what they are doing to solve the problem
tem action to aim a shot at a particular weapon system, to the GM, who will then tell them what combination
engine, or other fitting that seems vulnerable to the of attribute and skill they should roll. The usual diffi-
GM. On such a hit, the damage is halved, rounded up, culty of resolving a crisis is 10, though the GM may
before Armor is applied. If any damage gets through, increase or decrease that difficulty by up to 2 points
that system is disabled and cannot be used until it is either way depending on how bad the Crisis is and how
repaired. Engines lose one drive rank instead, so that useful the PCs plan is to resolve it.
a drive-2 spike drive becomes a drive-1 until repaired. If the PC succeeds in the roll, the Crisis is ended.
Disabled systems hit again or drives reduced below Continuing Crises no longer apply their penalty to the
drive-0 are destroyed, and cannot be repaired during ship, and acute Crises are defused before disaster can
combat. A ship with destroyed engines cannot perform strike. If they fail, a continuing Crisis is unchanged and
any bridge actions and may be boarded at an attacking an acute one is yet unresolved.
ships leisure, assuming its guns are also disabled. More than one PC can try to resolve a Crisis, either
If a ship is reduced to zero hit points, fighter-class making an independent attempt if they have a relevant
hulls are instantly destroyed with all hands. Larger skill, or using their talents to aid the main responder
ships are mortally damaged. Such crippled ships can with the usual rules for aiding anothers skill check.
take no action and will explode within 2d6 minutes The Deal With a Crisis general action can also be
unless the chief engineer succeeds in an Int/Fix skill used to get a scenes worth of general activity aboard
check against difficulty 10. On a failure, the explosion is the ship. If a xenomorphic monster suddenly breaches
inevitable, while on a success the ship merely becomes the ships hull during a battle with its alien mothership,
a burnt-out hulk with all systems destroyed. If suffi- two of the PCs might take the Deal With a Crisis action
ciently vast amounts of repair supplies are still intact in to spend a scene battling the beast in the guts of the ship
the hold, a determined crew might be able to jury-rig while the rest of the party tries to keep the ship fighting.
the maimed ship into temporary operation.

Ship Crises
Instead of accepting some particularly gruesome hit or Running a Crisis
disabling attack, a PC ship can instead choose to accept When a Crisis hits a ship, the GM should describe
a Crisis. The attack or the disabling hit is then negated, it in a concrete way. A Crew Lost crisis, for example,
with no damage done. Instead, the GM rolls on the may be described as A damage control squad has
Crisis table to find out what dire event happened as been trapped in the engine room and tempera-
a consequence of the hit, instead of the ship damage. tures are rising dangerously high. A Hull Breach
Some of these Crises are continuing. They will might be described as That last hit drove a sup-
continue to plague the ship until a PC can solve them port column through a capacitor bank; its about
with the Deal With a Crisis general action. Usually this to explode. It should be described as a specific
involves a skill check at difficulty 10, but multiple PCs problem that threatens the ship.
can choose to take the Deal With a Crisis action to co- In turn, when a PC chooses to Deal With a
operate in resolving the problem that round. Crisis, they should indicate what it is exactly that
Some of these Crises are acute. The PCs must re- theyre trying to do. A PC with Fix might declare
solve them before the end of the ships next turn or else that theyre trying to pump coolant into the en-
something very bad will happen. gine room, or a telekinetic PC might try to forcibly
A ship can accept only one Crisis per round, not eject the capacitor bank before it can explode.
including the Into the Fire or Keep it Together captain Dont worry about being too technically pre-
actions which may be taken at the captains discretion. cise with descriptions, or painstakingly deciding
Thus, if the ship is hit twice, only one of those hits can whether the ship has available coolant supplies
be converted into a Crisis unless the captain uses one or whether the capacitor is one ton or two. De-
of these actions. A ship accepts a Crisis if any of the cide whether or not the plan the PC is declaring
department heads requests it, even if the rest of the is plausible or not in the general sense, and set the
heads dont want one. Thus, if the ships main gun is hit, difficulty accordingly.
the gunnery chief can request a Crisis to prevent the hit Extremely good plans or applicable abilities
even if the rest of the crew was against it. might make the Crisis resolution check as easy as
To simplify ship combat, NPC ships do not nor- difficulty 8, while a very marginal plan that doesnt
mally accept more than one Crisis per space combat, seem likely to help might be difficulty 12. What-
at most. They usually just take the damage or negative ever you do, keep it quick; dont drag it out in play.
effects of hits straight until facing imminent ruin.
Space Combat 117

Ship Combat Actions


Every PC can take one or more actions per ship round.
PCs who are department heads can pick actions from Engineering Actions
their department. Any PC can pick from the general Boost Engines (2 CP): Roll Int/Fix versus difficulty 8. On
actions. Some actions prohibit any other act that round. a success, the ships Speed is increased by 2 until
Most actions have a cost in Command Points. the start of the ships next turn.
Usually, some PCs choose to Do Your Duty or go Above Damage Control (3 CP): Roll Int/Fix versus difficulty
and Beyond to generate Command Points, while others 7. On a success, repair a number of lost hit points
then spend them on actions for their department. All equal to your Fix skill times 2 for fighter hulls, 3
unspent Command Points are lost at the rounds end. for frigates, 4 for cruisers, and 6 for capital-class
NPC ships usually have a base number of Com- hulls. Each attempt of this action after the first in
mand Points they can spend each round, and may pick a fight increases its difficulty by a cumulative +1.
actions freely to spend them. For simplicity, NPC ships Emergency Repairs (3 CP): Roll Int/Fix versus difficulty
cant usually generate more Command Points with 8. On a success, a disabled system is repaired or
their actions and cant normally take Captain actions. a damage-degraded drive has its rating increased
by 1. Destroyed systems cannot be fixed this way.
Bridge Actions
Escape Combat (4 CP): Roll an opposed Int/Pilot or Dex/ Gunnery Actions
Pilot skill check plus your ships Speed against the Fire All Guns (3 CP): Gunners fire all weapons mounted
fastest opponents skill check plus their ships on the ship, designating targets as they wish.
Speed. On a win, all enemy ships gain one point Fire One Weapon (2 CP): A gunner fires a single ships
of Escape. If an enemy ship gets three points, after weapon of their choice.
three uses of this maneuver, your ship gets away Target Systems (1 CP): A Fire One Weapon action you
from that ship and is no longer in combat with it. take this round may target a ships weapons, en-
Evasive Maneuvers (2 CP): Roll Int or Dex/Pilot against gine, or fittings the GM decides are vulnerable.
difficulty 9 to add your Pilot skill to the ships AC Such targeted attacks take -4 to hit. On a hit, do
until its next turn. Usable once per round at most. half damage before applying Armor. If damage
Pursue Target (3 CP): Opposed Int/Pilot or Dex/Pilot gets through the system is disabled or drive is
skill check plus Speed against the target ships skill degraded by 1 level. Disabled systems hit again
check plus Speed. On a win, you shed one point are destroyed. You may take this action more than
of Escape rating the target ship may have on you. once to aim additional shots you may fire.

Captain Actions General Actions


Into the Fire (0 CP): Accept a Crew Lost Crisis and gain All these general actions are exclusive; if you take one
your Lead skill plus one in Command Points. You of these actions you can do nothing else in the round,
may do this at most once per round. either before or after you take the action.
Keep It Together (0 CP): Nullify a successful enemy hit Above and Beyond (0 CP): Push yourself to help the ship
and roll a Crisis instead. You can use this action or its crew. Pick an attribute and skill check and
in Instant response to an enemy hit but you may explain how youre using it to help the ship. If the
only use it once per round. GM agrees, roll it against difficulty 9. On a success,
Support Department (0 CP): Choose a department. One gain your skill level in Command Points plus one.
action that department takes will require 2 fewer On a failure, take -1 Command Point.
Command Points. You can do this once per round. Deal With a Crisis (0 CP): Explain what you are doing
to solve a Crisis and roll the relevant skill check.
Comms Actions The difficulty is usually 10, plus or minus 2 de-
Crash Systems (2 CP): Roll an opposed Int/Program pending on the situation and the effectiveness of
check against a targeted ship. On a success, it starts your action. On a success, the Crisis is resolved.
its next turn with a Command Point penalty equal You may also use this action to aid another PC in
to your Program skill. resolving a Crisis, or to take one scenes worth of
Defeat ECM (2 CP): Roll an opposed Int/Program other actions around the ship.
against a targeted ship. On a success, any attacks Do Your Duty (0 CP): The ship gains 1 Command Point.
this round by your ship against the target get a hit PCs who head more than one department can act
bonus equal to twice your Program skill. only in one of them; the rest automatically take
Sensor Ghost (2 CP): Succeed on a difficulty 9 Int/Pro- this action. If invoked by a PC, they must name
gram check to gain your Program as an AC bonus some plausible act the PC is doing to be useful, and
until the next turn. Usable once per round at most. cant do the same act two rounds in a row.
118 Space Combat

Ship Crises
Once per round, a ship may choose to accept a Crisis d10 Ship Crisis Type
instead of taking an enemy hit. They must choose to 1 Armor Loss Continuing
do so immediately after damage is rolled, and only one
player needs to request the Crisis to get it even if the 2 Cargo Loss Acute
rest of the party doesnt want it. Once the Crisis is ac- 3 Crew Lost Acute
cepted, the hit is negated and the GM rolls on the table. 4 Engine Lock Continuing
The captain may also choose to voluntarily accept
5 Fuel Bleed Acute
a Crisis through their Keep It Together or Into the Fire
department actions. Use of these actions doesnt count 6 Haywire Systems Continuing
against the one-voluntary-Crisis-per-round maximum. 7 Hull Breach Acute
Some Crises are continuing. They will apply a System Damage Continuing
8
penalty to the ship that continues until some PC suc-
cessfully performs a Deal With a Crisis action. 9 Target Decalibration Continuing
Other Crises are acute. They inflict no immediate 10 VIP Imperiled Acute
negative consequence, but if the PCs dont resolve it
by the end of the next combat round, an unpleasant Engine Lock: The ships engine has been jammed or
consequence will ensue. The Crisis is then removed. control circuits have gone non-responsive. Until
The same Crisis rolled more than once will stack resolved, no bridge actions can be taken, though
on the ship, though hits to empty cargo holds or dry the pilot can still perform general actions.
fuel tanks may not be much of a problem to the ship. Fuel Bleed: The ships fuel tanks have been holed or
emergency vents have been force-triggered by
Dealing With a Crisis battle damage. If not resolved by the end of the
Any PC can Deal With a Crisis by taking that gener- next round, the ship will jettison all fuel except the
al action and describing what theyre doing to solve minimal amount needed for in-system operation.
the problem. They then roll an applicable skill check Haywire Systems: Critical command links have been
against difficulty 10, possibly modified by up to plus or damaged or disordered by the hit. Until resolved,
minus two depending on the GMs judgment of their the ship starts each round at -2 Command Points.
general plan and its likelihood of being helpful. On a Multiple such Crises can stack this penalty, crip-
success, the Crisis is resolved. All Crises are considered pling a ship until the Crises are resolved.
resolved at the end of an engagement. Hull Breach: The hull has been damaged in a way that is
currently non-critical but is about to tear open an
Crises important compartment or crumple on vital sys-
Armor Loss: The hit melted an important patch of ship tems. If not resolved by the end of the next round,
armor, cracked an internal support, or exposed a the ship will take damage: 1d10 for fighter-class
sensitive system. Until resolved, the ships Armor hulls, 2d10 for frigates, 3d10 for cruisers, and 4d10
rating is halved, rounded down. for capital hulls, all ignoring Armor.
Cargo Loss: The hit has gored open a cargo bay, threat- System Damage: One of the ships systems has been
ening to dump the hold or expose delicate con- cooked by the hit. The GM randomly picks a
tents to ruinous damage. If not resolved by the end weapon, fitting, or engine; that system is disabled
of the next round, lose d10*10% of the ships cargo. as if hit with a targeted shot, with drives suffering
Crew Lost: Brave crew risk their lives to keep damaged a 1 point drive level decrease. Disabled systems hit
systems operating. Describe the danger they face. by this Crisis or drives reduced below drive-0 are
If the Crisis is not resolved by the end of the next destroyed and cannot be repaired during combat.
round, 10% of the ships maximum crew are inca- Target Decalibration: The gunnery computers are
pacitated, not counting any Extended Life Support hopelessly confused and cannot lock the ships
fittings. Half these crewmen are dead or perma- weaponry on a target until this Crisis is resolved.
nently disabled, and the other half return to duty VIP Imperiled: Shipboard damage threatens a random
in a week. Extended Medbay fittings halve the num- PC or important NPC. That victim must imme-
ber of dead and crippled. If the ship has run out diately roll a Physical saving throw; on a success,
of NPC crew when it takes this Crisis, a random they lose half their hit points, and on a failure they
PC must roll a Physical save; on a success, they are mortally wounded. NPC crew can make a free
lose half their hit points, while on a failure, they attempt to stabilize the downed VIP using their
are mortally wounded. If not stabilized by the end usual NPC skill bonus. If the NPC fails, and no PC
of the ships turn through some PC taking a Deal takes a Deal With a Crisis action to successfully sta-
With A Crisis action to heal them, they will die. bilize them by the end of the ships turn, they die.
Space Combat 119

The Thunder of the Guns


The free merchant Grendel finds herself engaging the ing. Thus, instead of trying to fire the sandcaster this
Sacred Wrath, a patrol boat of the Luminous Hege- round, he decides to blaze away exclusively with the
mony determined to stop the Grendel before it can laser, using the Fire One Weapon action. Firing one
deliver its cargo of military supplies to the rebel out- weapon costs 2 Command Points and he has 5 left,
post that contracted the ship. Captain Wilhelmina plus the captains Support Department action to give
Stokes knows shes substantially outclassed by the him a zero-cost shot.
patrol boat, but she trusts her comrades and is de- The gunner is a grizzled Warrior and uses his
termined to blast her way through. class ability to make the first shot an automatic hit.
The combat begins with an initiative roll. The He rolls 1d4 for damage, +1 for his Dexterity modifi-
Grendels pilot rolls 1d8 plus the best of his Intel- er, and gets a 3. The multifocal lasers armor-piercing
ligence or Dexterity modifiers, getting a 6. The quality of 20 overwhelms the patrol boats Armor
Wraths pilot rolls a 4, so Grendel goes first. of 5, but since hes Targeting Systems, his damage
Grendel starts her turn with 0 Command Points. is halved, rounded up. The patrol boat takes 2 hit
Captain Stokes decides that shell act first among the points of damage but its plasma beam is now dis-
crew, and uses the Support Department action to aid abled until the boats crew can perform repairs.
the gunnery department; one action the gunner The gunners not satisfied; he wants that gun
takes will be 2 Command Points cheaper than usual. wrecked. He Fires One Weapon again for 2 CP, Tar-
The ship still has no Command Points, how- geting Systems once more for 1 CP, rolling a hit roll at
ever, so Captain Stokes tells the comms chief to go -4 and using his Shoot skill and Dexterity attribute to
next. Feeling daring, the comms chief decides to go modify his attack bonus. He hits with a 15 and does
Above and Beyond to help the ship, overclocking the another 2 damage, destroying the gun.
ships computing core. The GM decides this is an The GM decides that the patrol boats captain
Int/Program skill check, so the comms chief rolls it is willing to go to extremes to prevent this, and lets
against difficulty 9. He fails his first roll, but uses his him accept a Crisis instead. The GM rolls 1d10 and
Expert class reroll benefit to try again, and gets it the gets the Hull Breach crisis; if the boat cant resolve
second time. The ship gains 3 Command Points for it by the end of the next round, itll take 2d10 hit
the comms chiefs Program-2 skill. points of damage that ignores Armor, but for now
Stokes considers letting the gunner blaze away the gunners second hit is negated. The gunner has
now, but she wants to go for a real torrent of fire to 2 CP left, so he burns those and his captain-supplied
open the fight, so she asks the bridge pilot to act next free shot on two more attacks, both of which miss.
to build more Command Points. He chooses to Do The round ends, and if the Grendel had any CP left it
Your Duty, adding 1 CP and declaring that hes lining would lose them now.
the ship up for the shot. Being a properly-trained military crew, the
Three Command Points arent enough for the Sacred Wrath has 5 Command Points. Her captain
captain, so despite the gunners entreaties, she choos- knows that her absolute priority is getting her gun
es for the engineer to go next. She also plays it safe, back online, so he spends 3 points to do Emergency
deciding to Do Your Duty and feed power to the guns. Repairs from the engineer actions. The GM rolls her
Lastly, theres a sixth PC in the crew, a storytell- crews default +2 skill bonus and gets a 9, enough to
er with absolutely no applicable space-faring skills. fix the plasma beam and remove its disabled status.
Even though he is no department head, the captain That leaves the NPC ship with 2 Command
nominates him to act next, since every PC gets to act Points left, which is just enough to open fire. The
each round. Able to take only general actions, the gunner blasts away with the plasma beam, using his
storyteller chants a mighty lay of battle to encourage hit bonus of +4 to get a 17, enough to hit the Grendel.
his comrades on to glory. The GM lets him roll a The plasma beam does 12 points of damage to the
Cha/Perform skill check to go Above and Beyond, and free merchant, its AP 10 defeating the targets Armor.
he succeeds, adding 3 more Command Points from Captain Stokes cant handle a hit like this and
his Perform-2 skill. immediately accepts a Crisis. The GM rolls an Armor
Now, at last, with 8 Command Points, the cap- Loss result, halving the Grendels already-sad Armor.
tain gives the gunner her signal. The gunner decides The next round then begins. The PCs have the
that its absolutely critical to defang the patrol boat edge, as the Wrath is going to need to Deal With a Cri-
before it can open up with its plasma beam. He sis or take a heavy hit at rounds end. If the Grendels
chooses to Target Systems with his attack, spending gunner cant shut down that plasma beam, however,
1 CP. He knows the free merchants sandcaster has the free merchant runs the risk of eating more hits
no chance of piercing the patrol boats armor, but than it can survive or trying to evade those hits and
his multifocal laser can cut through the ships plat- rolling a Crisis her crew cant handle.
THE HISTORY OF SPACE
The default setting of Stars Without Number is a far dimensions, forming both navigational beacons and
future age in which the sprawling, glorious domain anchor-points that enabled transit up and down the
of human space has been reduced to a scattering of dimensional spectrum. So long as a spike drive had a
squabbling powers and long-lost worlds. The ancient star to launch from and a star to bring it down, it could
domain of humanity has shrunken with the collapse ride the metadimensional currents in a headlong rush
of the psi-powered Jump Gates that once stitched the of superluminal speed.
remote regions of the frontier into the teeming worlds The initial transit along a course was always the
of the human core. most dangerous. The metadimensional currents were
Now, almost six hundred years after the catastro- unmapped on those routes, and a navigator had to
phe that ended the Golden Age of Man, new hope rises make regular course corrections in hope of finding a
from the wreckage of a fallen empire. current that would bring them to their course before
the spike drives protective bubble broke down in the
In the Beginning metadimensional environment.
Humanitys interstellar history began in a musty insta- Once the initial journey had been made, course
fab laboratory on a remote coast in northern Greenland rutters could be shared with other ships. So long as
in the year 2108. A small army of jury-rigged microfab ships regularly made the transit, any shifts in the cur-
plants and hotwired autofacs had been churning for rents could be recorded. If a route lay fallow for too
years, painstakingly realizing the plans of their creator. long, however, the slow creep of currents would render
Dr. Tiberius Crohn was an insular lunatic of the first the rutters worse than useless, and a fresh course would
water, a laughingstock among physicists and a regular need to be plotted by some brave crew.
font of absurd claims. Were it not for his admitted tal- Crohns discovery was announced by the sudden
ent at wrangling autofacs he would likely have vanished launch of his retrofitted spacecraft-laboratory from the
into the twenty-second centurys faceless proletarian Greenland hot zone. A number of orbital weapons plat-
mass without so much as a ripple. forms attempted to bring it down, but the spike drive
His talents had gotten him the parts and resources provided such a wildly anomalous maneuver profile
to establish his laboratory in the radioactive wilds of that the tracking algorithms were hopelessly confused.
Greenland, not far from the hot zone left by a missile Earthside watch stations followed him out to the edge
from the Russo-European War. The glow masked the of the solar system, dutifully recording his ships impos-
peculiar emissions from his test units, but in 2108 his sible velocity. At the very rim of the system the sensors
work finally reached fruition. Crohn had invented the picked up a strange gravitic surge, and he was gone.
spike drive, the faster-than-light engine that would lift He returned thirteen days later, broadcasting a ra-
humanity to the stars. dio transmission that not only included data on Alpha
Even now, a thousand years later, researchers Centauri that could only have been acquired through
still wonder how Crohn managed to devise the math- on-site surveying, but also included the necessary data
ematics and theories that supported the spike drives for the reconstruction of the spike drive. Between the
creation. Widespread claims of alien influence were observations of the tracking stations and the content
debunked by later Mandate historians, but rumors of of the signal, there was no doubt of it; mad old Crohn
these Mentors are still stock space legends. had actually done it.
Some of the axioms involved defied all percepti- Even today, no one is entirely certain how he man-
ble reality, and the theories made certain assumptions aged it. A prototype spike drive would have required
about the fabric of the universe that spun off at least a six days of metadimensional travel to reach Alpha
dozen new religions within the first two hundred years Centauri and drill down into mundane space. Crohn
of the discovery. The spike drive was a window on a claimed to be alone aboard the ship, but such would
universe far stranger and vaster than experimenters have required him to remain awake and navigating the
had thought possible. uncharted drill course for six straight days, all without
Through a delicate gravitic twisting of the uni- any hint of prior experience. The creed that later be-
versal substrate beneath a ship, the spike drive drove came known as the Book of the Sky refers to it as the
it upward through a spectrum of dimensional fre- Night Journey of the Prophet Tiberius and considers
quencies. The ship vanished from mundane, luminal it the founding event of the faith.
space and was thrust into the metadimensions. These Tiberius himself promptly drilled back out into
inchoate realms of vast energy currents and formless metaspace once his transmission had been sent. He was
masses were extremely hostile to unprepared ships, never seen again. To this day, thirteen known religious
but their gravitic currents propelled a ship at speeds sects are convinced that he was translated directly into
impossible in the mundane universe. Suitably massive the presence of God as a fitting reward to the opener
objects such as stars cast a shadow into these meta- of the celestial ways.
122 The History of Space

The First Wave of Colonization were forbidden to colonize worlds of their own for
Exclusivity was impossible with this new discovery. reasons of social harmony and interstellar security.
Overnight, every industrialized nation on Earth began More than a few of these groups defied the new Man-
a frantic rush to build spike drive-equipped starships, date and sought worlds beyond their reach in the far
each nation fearing to be left behind in claiming the dark. Deprived of the usual sources of support, most
stars above. Paradoxically, earthside tensions faded rap- were never heard from again.
idly as the disposition of this spit of land or that patch Even with these new limits, the Terran Mandate
of oil seemed to be trivial compared to the wealth that was hard-pressed to contain the colonial worlds. There
awaited in the sky. was little in the way of actual fighting between the col-
Initial exploration revealed that the spike drives onies, as few had the ships or manpower to spare, but
had a maximum range before the corrosive effect of the here and there the more zealous splinter groups or
metadimensional environment fatally degraded their dedicated ideologues could not bear to live in peace
protective bubbles of mundane space. It was necessary with their neighbors. The Mandate kept a loose sort
to hop from star to star, reaching more distant stellar of discipline over the Rim worlds but by the year 2260
bodies by progressive advance. In the course of these direct control was tenuous at best.
explorations numerous exotic planetary bodies were
discovered. The first one habitable by human beings MES and the Psionic Authority
was a barren mudball with an oxygen-rich atmosphere It was during the peak of the First Wave, in 2240, that
discovered in 2113. Dubbed Renaissance by its Greater the first instances of a frightening new syndrome ap-
European discoverers, it drove the other Terran na- peared in the children of starship crew members. Per-
tions outward in an even greater frenzy of exploratory haps one in ten thousand of these children would be-
acquisitiveness. gin to exhibit strange and inexplicable powers. Some
Pan-Indian scouts discovered the first life-bearing time around puberty, abilities manifested that ranged
world in 2150. The primordial soup that covered the from an intuitive vision of the immediate future, to
water world of Pranashakti served as a research sub- inexplicable mind-reading, to powers of superluminal
ject for a generation of xenobiologists. The excitement teleportation. Children who exercised these abilities
was only heightened when an American survey craft invariably suffered progressive and permanent neural
discovered the ancient alien ruins on the mist-shroud- damage leading either to death or permanent insanity.
ed moon called Typhon. Their creators had vanished A dozen uses, two dozen sooner or later the damage
more than 40,000 years ago, but the scanty remains overwhelmed the victim. Only by completely avoiding
showed evidence of a technologically sophisticated cul- use of these powers could a childs mind be saved.
ture possessing a humanoid anatomy not wholly unlike Dubbed Metadimensional Extroversion Syn-
that of humankind. drome, or MES by researchers, these subjects were
This First Wave of colonization sent humanity in a gathered for extensive testing and examination. Par-
steadily expanding sphere from the green fields of Ter- ents were told that the children would be taught ways
ra. By 2200, most habitable worlds within a years spike of controlling and suppressing their abilities, but most
drive travel had at least a handful of human inhabitants. modern researchers believe that some among the
Numerous political and religious splinter groups took children were used as guinea pigs in terrible experi-
to the heavens once asteroid mining brought the price ments meant to quantify this new power. Whatever
of a spike drive-equipped starship within the reach of a the means, the investigators soon learned that Messes
large corporation. Humanity was growing beyond the were actually serving as living channels for waves of
reach of its leaders. metadimensional energy.
The power was shaped and focused by the wield-
Retrenchment and the Mandate ers neural pathways. Mere meat was never meant to
The governments of Terra grew increasingly con- endure the kind of energies that boiled through a Mess,
cerned with their far-flung colonists. Even the fastest and neural pathways were left scorched or burnt out
spike drive courier couldnt reach the Rim worlds in entirely by use of the powers. Every test was destruc-
less than four months, and projecting military force tive. The only question was whether repeated use of the
at such a distance was beyond the power of all but the powers would kill the Mess body first or take their san-
strongest nations. Rather than let their colonists slip ity. Researchers also discovered that once the energies
entirely out of their control, the greater powers on had finally burnt out a victims mind, the charred brain
Terra agreed to form the Terran Mandate, an organi- pathways were effectively immune to further damage.
zation dedicated to policing human space and exerting An insane Mess, or feral could use their powers with
the authority of Terran governments over the far-flung impunity, and usually did.
colony worlds. It wasnt until 2275 that these shadowy researches
Furthermore, expansion beyond the current Rim finally bore fruit. The damage to a Messs mind could
worlds was forbidden. Splinter groups, cults, and mi- not be avoided, but by individualized programs of
crocultures were required to live within the pale and meditation, focus, and mental training, the damage
The History of Space 123

could be routed through less critical areas of the brain. able biomes that draw the most interest from human
A properly-trained psychic, as they were now called, explorers. Further exploration might reveal legions
could use their powers extensively before the charge of supercondensed life forms in the core of gas giant
threatened to overflow their existing channels and they worlds, or flocks of hydrogen-based webs floating in
were required to rest and recuperate. the darkness between stars.
Formulating these programs of study required a Some species owe nothing to human form. These
trained psychic mentor to shape the basic curriculum Others are alien in a way that no oxygen-breather could
into the correct sequence of meditations for a given possibly be. Some are composed of silicon or alien earth
pupil. Despite the best efforts of researchers, it proved compounds, such as the lithomorphs and their plan-
impossible to impart this education through record- etoid-ships. Others are congeries of spherical atmo-
ed means of instruction. A living, psychically-active sphere-bubbles, or sentient interference-patterns set
metapsion tutor properly educated in the training pro- up in the oceans of an ammonia-covered liquid world.
tocols was mandatory in teaching new psychics. The Others are almost invariably too different in mind
In an attempt to control the provision of psychic and needs for humans to communicate with them.
mentors, the Terran Mandate inaugurated the Psionic Their acts of violence are inexplicable and seemingly
Authority. The PA grew to be a quiet but pervasive random, and their purposes defy human comprehen-
organization throughout human space, taking young sion. Psychics who attempt to contact the mind of an
MES sufferers into its care for training. The rarity of Other risk their sanity under waves of awareness ut-
MES left psychics largely as figures of mystery and no terly unlike the thoughts of a fleshly brain.
little fear to less gifted humans. Psychics could often
make vast sums of money with their powers, but many Pretech, Psitech, and the Gates
worlds established sharp restrictions on psychic activi- Psionic Authority researchers had not halted their
ties and then often employed government-sponsored study of MES energies after their initial training break-
psychics who could ignore the strictures. throughs. Official histories credit the discoveries to the
courage of a few psychics willing to conduct destructive,
First Contacts dangerous experiments on their own minds. Legends
As these changes rippled through human culture, the speak more of criminal psychics and bewildered young
species found itself no longer alone in the cosmos. The Messes encouraged to cooperate in experiments that
steady expansion of human space discovered more than eventually claimed their sanity or their lives.
empty ruins on several habitable worlds. The Young Whatever the source of the data, the Psionic Au-
Races such as the Kont and Ualub were found inhab- thority was able to formulate new techniques of psychic
iting their ancestral worlds, diligently building their power. These abilities were usually very subtle and es-
way towards Bronze Age technologies. Some species oteric, microscopic adjustments of ambient universal
seemed to be the decaying remnants of a former empire, constants that allowed for the manufacture of materi-
such as the handful of used-up worlds that housed the als and products that were simply impossible to create
weary race of Mettau and their cities of dancing glass. with technology bound to the mundane worlds laws.
These Elder Races had all had their time in the sun, tens Atoms and molecules danced to the will of these fabri-
or hundreds of thousands of years ago, only to fall prey cator psychics, and new wonders were born from the
to internecine strife, vainglorious experimentation, or factories of humanity.
sheer cultural ennui. The introduction of psychic fabrication marked
Some of these alien races were strong and vigorous the development of pretech, the high science and ar-
still, though usually fresh from their own technological tifice of the Golden Age of Man. Pretech artifacts were
youth. A few short, sharp border wars usually settled marvelous works, most of them performing some mir-
matters in humanitys favor, and even those wars that acle of energy manipulation or material science. Pre-
were not so successfully prosecuted lost mankind only a tech spike drives doubled the maximum reach of a drill
few worlds within easy reach of their rivals. More often, course, and pretech drugs and biotech gave humankind
these races formed uneasy trade pacts with humanity, several centuries of hale good health before age might
exchanging examples of strange alien technology and claim them.
art for the science of human worlds. The greatest accomplishment of pretech, however,
The majority of sentient alien species that humani- was in the development of psitech, a complex melding
ty discovered shared roughly similar humanoid dimen- of psychofabricated pretech components and psionical-
sions. Called the Like by xenobiologists, controversy ly-active materials. Psitech devices could channel and
still bubbles over the seeming prevalence of humanoid amplify a psychics abilities to a remarkable degree. Psi-
form among alien races. Some scientists suggest that tech was never common, given the rarity of psychics
the humanoid shape is simply the one most suitable to themselves, but it found regular employment in pre-
the expression of sentience. Others find this explana- tech manufactories.
tion too simplistic, and believe that humanoid shapes The greatest accomplishment of psitech, in turn,
are simply most suitable to the kind of human-habit- was the development of the Jump Gates. These mas-
124 The History of Space

sive rings of psitech resonators floated at the far rim arguments between ideologies, religions, and simple
of a solar system, wide enough to receive the slowboat differences of ambition. Maltech research began to
freighters that lumbered out from planetary orbits. take root on more isolated worlds, with forbidden
With the help of a choir of master psychic teleporters, research into unbraked AIs, replicant nanotech, and
these ships would be hurled for scores of light years weapons of planetary destruction. Some worlds began
across the galaxy, emerging from a Jump Gate held to experiment with human genomic modification be-
in waiting at their destination point. The weeks or yond anything that convention had permitted. These
months of spike drive travel that would otherwise be eugenics cultists sought the wholesale improvement
required were compressed into a few days. of the human genetic legacy despite the terrible costs
The Jump Gates quickly replaced spike drive trav- in maladaptive mutation and instability. Forces of the
el throughout the core regions of human space. The Terran Mandates Perimeter agency tried to contain
only check on their expansion was finding the nec- these researches, but often were simply too few and
essary number of master teleporters to power them, too poorly supported to do more than report on events.
and the great expense of shipping components out to The Golden Age of Man was already strained by
more distant worlds unable to fabricate them on-site. the pressures of these squabbling worlds and a Mandate
By 2450, almost all core and Rim worlds were served by grown senile. Its deathblow was yet to come.
Jump Gates. The ease and cheapness of mass interstellar
transport caused some worlds to specialize as agricul- The Scream and the Silence
tural planets and other worlds to rely on interstellar In 2665 a massive wave of metadimensional ener-
food imports. gy washed over human space. Spike drive craft in
By 2600, spike drives were antiquated technology, metaspace were annihilated instantly, and in the blink
found almost exclusively along the frontier of human of an eye, every psychic in human space immediate-
space where Jump Gates were too expensive and econ- ly suffered the consequences of catastrophic psychic
omies too primitive to justify their use. burnout. The majority died instantly, with the handful
that remained raving in the grip of incurable madness.
The Second Wave Later reconstruction placed the origin of this
By then, the Second Wave of human colonization had Scream somewhere in the Veil Nebula, but no re-
reached its peak. The development of the Jump Gates cords exist of any successful investigation. Too much
had allowed the Terran Mandate to project its mili- collapsed too quickly for any sort of exploratory expe-
tary strength far more easily, and the prohibitions on dition to be sent. Humanity was suddenly stripped of
expansion had been loosened. By 2600, the frontier of every psychic resource. Without living mentors, new
human space extended almost ten years of spike drive generations of psychics could not be trained without
travel away from Terra. Even after taking Jump Gates recreating the entire laborious research corpus of the
as far as possible, a fast pretech courier ship required a now-erased Psionic Authority. It would take genera-
year to reach the farthest colonial worlds. tions to mold functional mentors out of the untrained
The Jump Gates allowed for massive numbers of mass of native psychics.
colonists to flee the stultifying bonds of stratified Ter- There was no time to recreate the necessary train-
ran society. Over four billion people left Terra over the ing. The Jump Gates were dead, and the core worlds of
course of the Second Wave, most of them sent gladly human space collapsed with them. Countless colonies
by governments that were more than willing to dispose that relied on the bulk produce of agricultural worlds
of their more troublesome subjects. It wasnt until late were left starving within months, their shipyards over-
in the Second Wave that the Terran Mandate began run by the desperate and ruined in the convulsive fight-
to realize that it simply didnt have the manpower ing over the few remaining spike drive ships. There
necessary to police the colonial worlds. Even with the was no possible way to feed a world of millions with
overwhelming technological advantage of Terran fleets, the limited freight capacity of spike drive ships; only
there were simply too many colonies and too many the Jump Gates and their massive slowboat freighters
colonists to maintain direct control. could move such masses of cargo, and the slowboats
The colonies realized this as well, starting around were too big to be retrofitted with spike drives even
2450. There was rarely an explicit rebellion against if they could cross the stars quickly enough to make a
the Mandate; most often it was a disobedience of slow difference, which they could not.
decay, with tax shipments becoming intermittent and Echoes of the disaster rippled outward. The fron-
then absent, and Mandate orders obeyed first slowly tier regions were still too poor and primitive to afford
and then not at all. The Mandate fleet struck a few of Jump Gates, so the worlds that remained on the edge
the most valuable recalcitrants, but it was a rear-guard of human space were forced to supply their own pop-
action. The Terran Mandate had grown itself beyond ulation with food and other necessities. Some of these
its ability to maintain control. worlds relied on small shipments of vital supplies from
In the wild void of the frontier, spike drive arma- the core worlds. These luckless planets died when their
das and petty stellar kingdoms formed to settle ancient motherworlds perished. Others were more self-reliant,
The History of Space 125

but few of these had the necessary resources to build for recreating the old pretech manufactories are still
spike drive ships of their own. Those few worlds that long-lost, but these new academies are at least able to
were able to construct the ships struggled as their psi- teach their students how to channel their powers in rel-
tech became useless and their shipments of vital core atively safe and useful ways. Some worlds guard these
world components stopped. secrets jealously, but others make substantial profit out
Human space had collapsed into a welter of isolat- of training foreign psychics sent by neighboring worlds.
ed worlds. Interstellar travel fell to the handful of spike A few academies operate without any governmental
drive ships that could be kept running on scavenged supervision at all, willingly teaching their secrets to
components and half-derelict spaceyards. The Silence anyone with the money or a compatible ideology.
had begun. Stellar domains have begun to form around the
most powerful worlds. Projecting more than a few tens
The Silence Ends of thousands of troops to a neighboring world is far
For almost six hundred years, humanity has been slow- beyond the abilities of most planets, so these domains
ly recovering from the consequences of the Scream. tend to be loose confederacies of like-minded worlds, or
Many frontier worlds have collapsed into barbarism else sparsely-populated colonies held under the ruthless
and balkanized warfare. These lost worlds have suffi- control of a vastly larger and more powerful neighbor.
cient resources for agriculture and life, but lack the fos- Most of these domains are held together by a glue of
sil fuels or radioactives necessary to bootstrap modern ideology and trade benefits, and border skirmishes are
technology. Some have even forgotten their origins or becoming more common between rival space empires.
have had them obscured in the haze of legend and myth. The alien neighbors of humanity have not been
Other worlds have been more fortunate. These idle during the Silence. The Scream appears to have
planets have been lucky enough to have the resources affected psychically-active races as badly as the humans
necessary to sustain a rough and ready level of tech- were wounded, but those species that were not so vul-
nology. Their fusion plants are bulkier than the pre- nerable have expanded into human space at several
tech that existed before the Scream, their spike drive points on the frontier. Some have even gone so far as
engines are slower and more unstable, and the medical to seize human worlds for their own. In a few unfortu-
technology is working well if it can give the popula- nate regions of human space, entire sectors have been
tion even a hundred years of good health before death conquered by alien powers.
claims them. Still, these worlds have managed to de- Now, in the year 3200, the fragile web of inter-
vise methods for doing without the esoteric disciplines stellar commerce and exploration has been reformed.
of the psychic fabricators and are slowly ramping up Countless worlds remain locked in the darkness of
their production of spike drive ships as their techniques the Silence, awaiting the bold merchants or reckless
improve. This postech may be inferior, but after the explorers willing to return them to the embrace of in-
Silence it can be replicated in a way that pretech cannot. terstellar humanity. And if these brave souls should be
A few worlds have even managed to rediscover rewarded with the ancient wealth in salvage and data
the basic techniques of psychic mentorship. The fab- so long trapped on these worlds, who is to say that they
ulously subtle and sophisticated disciplines necessary do not deserve it?
126 The History of Space

A Timeline of the Future


2108: The spike drive is discovered by crank scientist Dr. 2275: Researchers on several deep-space colonies begin
Tiberius Crohn. Humanity moves almost over- to develop methods for controlling the advance
night from a handful of science stations on the of MES, allowing its victims to use their abili-
solar systems inner worlds to all-out interstellar ties without inflicting permanent brain damage
exploration. Numerous Terran governments seek on themselves. The lives lost in this research are
the resources of new worlds. never fully numbered, but Terran governments
2110: Several scout craft are lost while learning the lim- rapidly move to control the research and training
its of the spike drive. The dangers of excessive under the aegis of the Psionic Authority.
frequency climbing are recorded by survivors. 2280: Properly-trained MES carriers, known common-
2113: The first habitable extrasolar world is discovered ly as psychics,or more casually, as Messes, be-
by the scout ship Magellan. The ships patrons gin to use their abilities to assist governments and
promptly claim the world for Greater Europe and private enterprise. Numerous fields begin to ben-
name it Renaissance. efit from the assistance of MES subjects, ranging
2120: Pranashakti, the first life-bearing alien world, is from telepathic mental health providers to pre-
discovered by a Pan-Indian scout ship. The organ- cognitive industrial managers. The Psionic Au-
isms consist solely of plant analogues and some thority begins to experiment with more focused,
primitive marine life, but a generation of xenobi- industrially-useful psionic disciplines. Again, the
ologists finds work in analyzing it all. cost in lives is undisclosed.
2130: The development of asteroid mining technology 2315: The Psionic Authority perfects the first jump gate.
provides vast amounts of raw materials to Earths A massive ring of psitech placed at the periphery
orbital shipyards and factories. Ship prices plunge, of the solar system, the gate employs a choir of
and numerous smaller organizations and states be- over fifty master teleporters to instantly translate
come capable of stellar exploration. ships to a matching gate at Renaissance. Gate dis-
2150: The ruins of an advanced alien species are discov- persal is slowed by a lack of master teleporters, but
ered on Typhon, an otherwise unremarkable gas eventually the transit time between Earth and the
giant moon. Archaeologists date the ruins to ap- frontier is reduced to two days. The Earth nations
proximately 40,000 BCE. Dubbed the Watchers lift the ban on further exploration now that their
for the eye-like circular motifs on the ruins, few effective control is enhanced.
details are learned about the species. 2330: The Second Wave of human colonization begins.
2200: The First Wave of human expansion reaches its Spike drive ships become all but unknown within
peak. Most habitable planets within a years travel the core worlds as the jump gates allow cheaper
time from Earth have been successfully colonized, system ships to travel between the older colonies.
many by small religious or ideological groups. 2350: Psitech-enhanced manufactory abilities and pre-
Terran nations begin to forbid further explora- cognitive surveyors vastly increase the rate of via-
tion for fear of being unable to maintain control ble colonization. Almost two billion humans leave
over their offworld colonies over such distances. Earth for the wealth and freedom of the colony
The Terran Mandate is organized by Earths su- worlds. The Terran Mandate begins to realize that
perpowers in order to ensure that Terran control they now lack the manpower necessary to main-
of the colonies continues. tain control over so many colonies, even with the
2240: Metadimensional Extroversion Syndrome be- reduced transit time.
gins to manifest in certain fifth-generation spacers. 2400: Obedience to Terran governments is now a polite
Occurring most often around puberty, the abilities fiction on the frontier, in those cases when it is
exhibited by MES victims seem flatly impossible acknowledged at all. The first stellar unions begin
by normal scientific measure: telepathy, teleporta- to form. Some neighboring worlds resort to war,
tion, precognitive flashes, and other abilities that but most colonists see no need for fighting with
defy understanding. The syndrome is inevitably so many unexploited resources.
fatal unless the victim avoids all use of their un- 2425: The Terran Mandate has become deeply corrupt
canny abilities. and hopelessly decadent. Its Directors concern
2260: Some colony worlds begin to grow restive, and themselves exclusively with their own interests,
there are incidents of skirmishing and piracy on rivalries, and ideological obsessions. Only the AI
the frontier. Few disputes are over resources, but Maestros of Earth act as a check on their actions,
ideological and religious conflicts become more as the Directors are unable to effectively control
common. The Terran Mandate struggles to deal the Mandate without the help of their AI adjuncts.
with the twelve-month message delay between These AIs struggle to maintain a basic level of pro-
Earth and the farthest colony worlds. bity among their creators.
The History of Space 127

2450: The Second Wave is at its peak; it is the Gold- 2700: Countless core worlds die as they are cut off from
en Age of Man. The Terran Mandate has largely vital food and technical supplies. Psitech manu-
given up on exerting control over the frontier col- factories are crippled, and only a relative handful
onies, and now concentrates simply on neutraliz- of spike drive ships can be fabricated before the
ing threats to the core worlds. Every description industrial base erodes. These ships band together
of human civilization and ideology can be found for security while searching for resupply and be-
somewhere in human space, and cultures experi- come the progenitors of todays Scavenger Fleets.
ment with new forms of social organization. Psi- 2705: Frontier worlds fare better than core planets.
tech supplements normal technology to produce More spike drive ships are available, and those
enormous abundance for even the poorest worlds worlds that have yet to receive Jump Gates were
with access to core technology. still devoting effort to autonomous agriculture
2460: Human gengineering becomes common on some and industry. Even so, the sudden loss of every
worlds as societies attempt to improve their mem- human psychic leaves their psitech equipment and
bers. Advances in longevity and health spread industries largely useless. Many frontier worlds
widely, but attempts to significantly improve hu- devolve to survival-level subsistence.
man capabilities invariably bring serious draw- 2710: The last easily-salvaged remnants of Mandate pre-
backs from system strain and unanticipated side tech begin to wear out or become used up. The
effects. Still, some of the more zealous cultures are most useful or effective tech was often explicitly
willing to accept these consequences in pursuit of designed to be irreplaceable by frontier worlds in
the perfect human. order to maintain the Mandate cores monopoly
2500: Jump Gates begin to reach the frontier. Major on the technology. With the core worlds dead or
systems are the first to receive them, while most consumed by struggle, this technology can now
of the minor worlds are still reliant on spike drive be found only in lost caches and Mandate ruins.
ships. The furthest reaches of the frontier now Some worlds go to desperate extremes to maintain
extend ten years of spike drive travel from Earth. vital pretech infrastructure, utilizing dangerous
Population growth levels off and begins to decline methods or unstable repurposed tech.
with the increasing wealth of the colonies and 2900: Attempts are made to recover the techniques of
their progressive self-absorption. psychic training. The complete absence of any ex-
2550: Certain remote sectors of space have begun to perienced psychic trainers hampers this effort, and
embrace both gengineering and advanced AI the cost in psychic lives to recreate this training is
integration to recreate humanity in ways more enormous. A few worlds are successful in devel-
suitable to local ambitions. Some of these sectors oping crude training programs, but most societies
continue to interact with their baseline human abandon the effort in the face of more immediate
neighbors, while other transhumans are danger- planetary needs.
ously aggressive in their proselytization. 3050: The Silence starts to lift. Those worlds that did
2600: Spike drive ships are now somewhat antiquated, not experience a terminal collapse after the Scream
serving a vastly reduced exploratory effort and as finally begin to perfect techniques of large-scale
militia ships for the defense of local systems. Al- manufacturing that do not rely on psitech. Even
most all core systems of importance are now linked the most sophisticated training programs can no
with jump gates. Psitech has permeated even very longer replicate the narrow and esoteric talents of
basic technology on these worlds. Large-scale war pre-Silence psychic fabricators.
between worlds is almost unknown. 3100: Spike drive ships begin the remapping of drill
2665: The Scream erupts from somewhere within the courses between stars. With almost five centuries
Veil Nebula. Reconstructions of the event suggest of neglect, the pre-Silence rutters have become
that it was some form of faster-than-light psychic useless. The steady shifting of dimensional layers
emanation, the wave propagating from one end of has rendered old course soundings dangerously
human space to the other within seventeen min- inaccurate. All of the drill courses must be redis-
utes. The Scream inevitably rendered a psychic covered through trial and potentially fatal error.
either dead or hopelessly insane. The Jump Gate Few Scavenger Fleets cooperate in sharing their
network collapses. A period of stellar isolation and course data due to fears of competition.
chaos begins, now commonly called the Silence. 3150: Stellar unions start to form around the strongest
2665: On Earth, the maddened arch-psions known as worlds. Exploration continues, often in the hands
the Crazed annihilate the planets infrastructure, of small traders and scout crews who are willing
destroy many AI Maestros, and pervert the High- to risk all for the chance to open a route to an un-
shine nanite recovery system. The solar systems plundered tomb world. Warfare erupts between
defense grid is activated and made universally unions contesting control over lost worlds and
hostile to all starships. Earth vanishes from all space installations.
surviving records, its present condition unknown. 3200: The present day.
SECTOR CREATION
Every self-respecting sci-fi game needs to be able to
provide a stock of interesting alien worlds. Even if a Sectors In Your Game
campaign should happen to take place largely on a sin- From a campaign perspective, sectors limit the scope
gle world, the backdrop of foreign spheres adds context of material you need to take into account in your game.
and additional adventure hooks to the game. While its perfectly possible to run a game with multi-
Most campaigns are going to involve substantial ple interconnected sectors, the sheer bulk of worlds can
world-hopping, however, and the GM needs to be make that a painful prospect for most GMs. A single
ready to deal with this. This chapter will give you the sector of 21-30 worlds is more than enough for most
tools you need to fashion a sector of the void that will parties to explore.
be worth the reckless daring of a band of heroic PCs. Sectors and interstellar regions also provide you
with a convenient explanation for running dramati-
The Nature of Sectors cally different campaigns. Players who want to run a
In the former days of the Mandate, human space was space-operatic game set in a region of easy spaceflight
generally divided into administrative sectors, each one and consistent high-tech marvels can do so, while a
the particular responsibility of some fragment of the group that wants a harder sci-fi experience in a sector
ancient Terran bureaucracy. By the end of the Second without psionic powers or exotic energy weapons can
Wave, these responsibilities were almost entirely ficti- have their play as well. The vast sweep of human space
tious, as the Mandate Fleet lacked the manpower nec- has room for your preferred tropes without having to
essary to exert Old Earths will on its scattered progeny. fight the setting. No matter what you want to play,
Even so, the centuries-old grind of bureaucratic pro- theres some chunk of human space that has it.
cedure still dutifully labeled each fragment of distant A sector provides the basic background for the ad-
space with its own identity. ventures the PCs encounter, as every world needs to
Sectors were established on the basis of metadi- have some kind of adventure-worthy content if its to
mensional proximity rather than simple spatial pro- justify its drain on a GMs creativity and focus. Creat-
pinquity. Individual stars in a sector might be spread ing worlds purely for pleasure or aesthetic satisfaction
out over dozens of light years, but the metadimensional is entirely valid, but as a working GM, you also need
currents between them were strong enough to allow material you can play. This chapter will show you how
quick travel among them, when a physically-neighbor- to maximize the return on your effort, and get the most
ing star might require impossibly lengthy drills through playable content out of the least amount of work.
metadimensional space to reach it. This is a necessity in any system, but it is especial-
Settlers in these far sectors often adopted Mandate ly important if youre going to be running a sandbox
sector nomenclature simply out of convenience. The game. A GM who tries to flesh out every nook and
sectors that Fleet scout ships and far trader adventurers cranny of the dozens of worlds they create will be rap-
mapped out were composed of stars close enough to idly exhausted by the effort, and might still lack the
allow for trade with their ramshackle spike drives and content they need to actually run a game during the
colonial cargo haulers, and their density allowed for next session of play. A GM needs to have a plan and
trade and assistance between nearby friendly worlds. an appropriate set of tools if they are to deal with the
Those with a more isolationist bent sought out sectors challenge in a comfortable, straightforward way.
with far-scattered stars that couldnt be bridged by the When building a sector, you can generally assume
less sophisticated drives that most colonists used. that its isolated from any neighboring regions. There
Most sectors had limited contact with other re- might be a few connections along the borders of the
gions of space. While bordering stars could some- sector, still-remembered spike drive paths into the next
times allow drills into a neighboring sector, large collection of worlds, but youve got enough to build if
patches of unfriendly metadimensional space often you just focus on a single sector at a time.
strictly limited the available paths into or out of a sector. You are advised to carefully read the following
Some sectors were entirely inaccessible by anything but pages and take heed of the advice on how much con-
top-grade Mandate spike drives capable of leaping the tent you should create for each world. A GM would
broad gaps around them, and some entire regions were not be a GM if they did not take pleasure in creating
isolated by a few narrow bridgepoints into the cluster. wondrous new worlds to explore, but the most enthu-
As a consequence, modern human space varies siastic demiurge still has a limited amount of creative
wildly in every respect. Some regions have sophisticat- energy, time, and focus to spend on a campaign. If you
ed interstellar trade and wide-reaching empires, while follow the steps in the following pages, youll be able to
others are struggling to rise from primitive barbarism. ensure a playable amount of gaming content for your
A lost bridgepoint can separate whole empires, leaving next session before you start spending your effort on
both entirely ignorant of each other for the moment. more decorative elements of your creation.
130 Sector Creation

Creating a Stellar Sector


Once youve decided to forge your own piece of the Once youve placed the randomly-positioned
infinite void, youll want to grab a sheet of large-hex stars, add the remainder to connect any stellar clumps
hex paper from one of the many templates available on- or groupings. Remember that standard postech spike
line. First youll make a stellar map of the sector on this drives cant reach more than 3 hexes, so any cluster that
sheet, and then youll individually flesh out the worlds cant be reached with such a drill will be inaccessible to
to whatever degree of fineness your needs require. anything but pretech-grade drives.
One crucial thing to remember at this stage of The stellar map youve just created is an abstrac-
creation is that you do not have to create everything. You tion, one reflecting the eddies and currents of meta-
dont need to answer every question about the sector or dimensional space. The individual stars might look
have every world in adventure-ready condition. Right adjacent on the map, but some may be vast distances
now youre just laying down broad strokes and rough apart. If youd prefer to use more realistic star maps,
colors to the sector, and when it comes time to do detail you can grab some three-dimensional star map off the
work youll save it for the worlds that matter most to web and convert a convenient number of light years
your immediate needs. into a single hex of distance for spike drive purposes.
Every GM has a limited supply of time, energy,
and creative inspiration. If you try to fabricate an en- Lay Down the Primary Worlds
tire complete sector in one go, with interesting planets With the stars placed, its time to place the primary
and meaningful interstellar intrigue and easy adventure inhabited worlds. While its possible to declare that
hooks all over the place, youre likely to exhaust your- a star is orbited only by barren rocks, such stars are
self before you even get to play. more difficult to make useful as places of adventure
Instead, you should follow a simple guiding prin- and gameable fun.
ciple whenever building anything for your campaign, Right now, assume that each inhabited system has
whether a stellar sector or an adventure outline. a single primary world. The original colonists would
Am I having fun? If youre enjoying yourself, then have naturally sought out the best, most habitable
you can keep building. We follow this hobby because world for their founding. As a consequence, however
its fun, and if youre enjoying the process then you nasty the primary world is, the others in the system
should let yourself have your indulgence. are probably even worse. If you wish to add additional
Am I going to need this for the next session? If what planets to the system later, you can do so, but for now
youre creating is something you know youre going to youll want to focus on just one.
need for the next game session, then you should finish Start by rolling two world tags for each planet.
it. Dont let this feeling of obligation extend to every World tags are simple tropes that reflect the most im-
detail, however; it can be easy to imagine situations portant qualities about the world, or at least those qual-
where youll need to elaborate some NPC or organiza- ities most important to adventurers. A list of a hundred
tion or location, but if you respond to every such pos- potential world tags starts on page 132.
sibility youll never get away from the drawing board. Its most convenient to roll world tags for each
If youre not having fun and you dont need it for planet before moving on to the other elements of the
your next game session, stop it. Youre going to exhaust world, so you spend less time flipping back and forth
yourself on minutiae and trivia and not have the energy between the sections. Dont worry about making the
to do the parts you really do need, or the vigor needed tags make sense yet. Just note them down and go on.
to actually run this for the group. Next, roll the atmospheres for each world. In this
With that principle kept firmly in mind, its time and the following steps, you can either reroll results
to start building the sector. that make no sense in light of the world tags youve
generated, or simply pick a result that fits. If youre
Place the Stars feeling more adventurous, however, you can try to
The standard sector map is a grid of hexagons 8 wide by think of an explanation that reconciles seemingly in-
10 high, with hex templates easily acquired from the net. commensurate results.
Roll 1d10 and add 20 to determine the total number of After you roll atmospheres for each planet, repeat
stars in the sector, or simply choose a number that suits. the process for temperature, biosphere, population,
For the first twenty or so stars, roll 1d8 and 1d10 and tech level. Optionally, you can go on to add addi-
together to determine the column and row in which tional planets or points of interest to each system.
to place the star. If the hex is already occupied, place it Finally, tack on a name for the planet and give it a
adjacent in the direction of the nearest edge. sentence worth of description. You dont need to flesh
Some columns have half-hexes in them, and only it out fully right now. Just note down whatever rough
9 full hexes; if you roll a 10 for such a column, either idea of it comes to mind from its world tags, population,
reroll or place it at the bottom-most full hex. and other planetary qualities.
Sector Creation 131

Mark Polities and Trade Routes Next, use the world tags to create adventure com-
Identify the star systems that are in contact with each ponents. Each tag includes different example Enemies,
other and draw lines of communication between them. Friends, Complications, Things, and Places. Take an
Remember that any gap of 4 or more hexes cant be Enemy from both world tags or create one for each, and
crossed without pretech spike drives, so any contact merge them together into a single antagonist. Thus, a
between distant clusters will have to be through an Feral World with Heavy Industry might have a cannibal
intermediate world. oligarch who literally lives on the flesh and blood of his
Worlds in contact with each other may not neces- slave laborers. Give this Enemy a name and a sentence
sarily be friendly, but they do know about each other of description.
and have at least a basic understanding of local con- Repeat the process for a Friend, a Complication,
ditions. Some provision is usually made for foreign a Thing, and a Place. You dont necessarily need to use
visitors from these other worlds, even if its nothing both tags in every instance, and youll likely want to
more than a strictly-monitored starport housing unit. make up your own components inspired by the tags,
If two or more planets seem like they ought to but you should have at least one item in each category
belong to the same interstellar polity, sketch out a bor- written down on the planetary record. Youll use these
der around the grouping. Most TL4 worlds would be raw elements later to create a starting adventure for
very hard-pressed to mount an effective interstellar your band of star-faring freebooters.
invasion of a peer world, so these polities have likely Lastly, take a few minutes to answer some critical
formed out of diplomatic or cultural ties, or consist of questions about the planet, noting the answers down
a local hegemon exerting its rule over planets too weak in the cultural section of the sheet.
or primitive to resist their influence. What does this world have that the PCs might care
Many sectors will have no multi-system govern- about? Does it export a valuable and portable commod-
ments of any kind. The individual worlds might be too ity, or provide a special tech, or have unique job oppor-
independent, or the recovery of spaceflight technology tunities for expendable offworlder adventurers?
may have been too recent to allow for ties of mutual What is the biggest conflict on the world right
governance to form yet. Such disjointed sectors can now? Is it a social struggle between classes, tension
make life easier for the typical band of PCs, as escape with offworlder merchants or visitors, a war going on
into a new system means escape from the legal jurisdic- among local governments, or some other big crisis?
tion of a world they may have recently offended. Every world should have at least one obvious conflict
that the PCs might choose to engage or be pulled into.
Build Out the Important Worlds What do they think about outsiders? Are they
Most of the worlds in your sector dont need anything comfortable with offworlders, do they view them with
more than what youve already given them. A few unusual mistrust, or are they outright xenophobic?
worlds need more elaborate detail, however, and for What is law enforcement like? Are there special
these youll want to make use of a separate planetary laws that might tangle the PCs? If the PCs break a law,
record sheet for the world. what kind of enforcement can they expect?
Only detail worlds that youre going to need for Where do the PCs land? Whats the name of the
the next session. In this case, that means you should major starport on the world, and does the starport have
detail the world that the campaign starts on and those any special deficiencies or unique opportunities?
worlds that the PCs might end up traveling to at the You can flesh out a world beyond these questions
end of the first session. For most purposes, this just if you wish, but they provide a bare minimum of data.
means the starting world and its immediate neighbors.
First, pick a rough cultural template for the world. Choose Factions and Relations
Maybe it has a Latin American flavor, or was founded Lastly, look at what youve created and determine
by Russian colonists, or was an outpost of Byzantine the relationships between the starting world and its
Empire enthusiasts. This culture has doubtless changed neighbors. Also, decide on the relationships between
drastically since its initial founding, but it gives you a any polities youve established. Open interstellar war-
baseline for assigning names to people and places, iden- fare is very hard for a lone TL4 world to sustain, but
tifying the common language spoken on the planet, and a powerful planet or combine might be able to do it.
giving you enough information to describe local foods, More likely are cold wars of spies and saboteurs.
architectural styles, and small slice-of-life elements. You may decide to establish one or more Factions
You can always take the time to create an entirely to help give some independent motion to the sectors
new hybrid culture, but whatever you make or choose background. Two or three Factions are plenty for the
should be clear enough in your mind to let you give start of a campaign, and you should feel free to make
quick answers to sudden questions about cultural val- new ones or let old ones fall inactive as the game pro-
ues or local habits. Again, its not critical to worry about gresses. Rules for Factions start on page 210.
historical accuracy; these worlds have had centuries to And with that, your sector is ready for play. The
form their own worldviews and local customs. Adventure Creation chapter gives the next step.
132 World Tags

Assigning World Tags


The first step in world creation, and perhaps the most Each tag includes associated entries for Enemies,
important, lies in assigning tags to the world. Tags Friends, Complications, Things, and Places that fit with
are brief conceptual tropes that set the world off from that tag. GMs can combine the elements of the two
planets of otherwise similar population and character- tags to create ones flavored specifically for that world.
istics. You can either pick from the tag table to select For example, two random tags for a world might be
qualities that sound interesting for a world, or else roll Regional Hegemon and Psionics Fear. Combining
percentile dice to select them randomly. the Colonial Official and Mental Purity Investiga-
In general, you should pick or roll two tags for tor entries from the enemies lists of those tags, we
any given world. Using a single tag can leave a plan- come up with Heinrich Stalt, Imperial Mind Proctor,
et feeling somewhat flat and one-dimensional, while a grim inquisitor dispatched to the worlds under Im-
using three or more can end up muddying the feel of perial protection to purge them of the awful curse of
the world. The goal of the tags is not to automatical- psionically-active monsters.
ly combine into some intricately sophisticated world These NPCs, objects, places, and situations can
model, but to provide some clear, bright elements to be used as raw grist for generating your adventures or
relate to the PCs. Tags can randomly give you desert be slotted into the scenario seeds provided later in the
planet torn by civil war, from which you can then cre- Adventure Generation chapter. Of course, not every
ate an arid world riven by factional disputes between Enemy will be intrinsically hostile to the PCs, nor every
fragmented clans, the families based around ownership Friend necessarily a sympathetic figure.
of irreplaceable pre-Scream moisture collectors. Naturally, you should feel free to come up with
Tags are meant to simplify your life as a GM. They your own tags as well. Almost any science-fiction trope
provide quick, simple hooks for adventure and cultural that you enjoy can be turned into a tag, and charac-
characterization to help distinguish the myriad worlds teristic elements can be blended into the list of raw
of your campaign from each other. adventure components.

d100 Tag d100 Tag d100 Tag d100 Tag


1 Abandoned Colony 26 Flying Cities 51 Misandry/Misogyny 76 Rigid Culture
2 Alien Ruins 27 Forbidden Tech 52 Night World 77 Rising Hegemon
3 Altered Humanity 28 Former Warriors 53 Nomads 78 Ritual Combat
4 Anarchists 29 Freak Geology 54 Oceanic World 79 Robots
5 Anthropomorphs 30 Freak Weather 55 Out of Contact 80 Seagoing Cities
6 Area 51 31 Friendly Foe 56 Outpost World 81 Sealed Menace
7 Badlands World 32 Gold Rush 57 Perimeter Agency 82 Secret Masters
8 Battleground 33 Great Work 58 Pilgrimage Site 83 Sectarians
9 Beastmasters 34 Hatred 59 Pleasure World 84 Seismic Instability
10 Bubble Cities 35 Heavy Industry 60 Police State 85 Shackled World
11 Cheap Life 36 Heavy Mining 61 Post-Scarcity 86 Societal Despair
12 Civil War 37 Hivemind 62 Preceptor Archive 87 Sole Supplier
13 Cold War 38 Holy War 63 Pretech Cultists 88 Taboo Treasure
14 Colonized Population 39 Hostile Biosphere 64 Primitive Aliens 89 Terraform Failure
15 Cultural Power 40 Hostile Space 65 Prison Planet 90 Theocracy
16 Cybercommunists 41 Immortals 66 Psionics Academy 91 Tomb World
17 Cyborgs 42 Local Specialty 67 Psionics Fear 92 Trade Hub
18 Cyclical Doom 43 Local Tech 68 Psionics Worship 93 Tyranny
19 Desert World 44 Major Spaceyard 69 Quarantined World 94 Unbraked AI
20 Doomed World 45 Mandarinate 70 Radioactive World 95 Urbanized Surface
21 Dying Race 46 Mandate Base 71 Refugees 96 Utopia
22 Eugenic Cult 47 Maneaters 72 Regional Hegemon 97 Warlords
23 Exchange Consulate 48 Megacorps 73 Restrictive Laws 98 Xenophiles
24 Fallen Hegemon 49 Mercenaries 74 Revanchists 99 Xenophobes
25 Feral World 50 Minimal Contact 75 Revolutionaries 00 Zombies
World Tags 133

Abandoned Colony Alien Ruins


The world once hosted a colony, whether human or The world has significant alien ruins present. The
otherwise, until some crisis or natural disaster drove locals may or may not permit others to investigate
the inhabitants away or killed them off. The colony the ruins, and may make it difficult to remove any
might have been mercantile in nature, an expedition objects of value without substantial payment. Any
to extract valuable local resources, or it might have surviving ruins with worthwhile salvage almost cer-
been a reclusive cabal of zealots. The remains of the tainly have some defense or hazard to explain their
colony are usually in ruins, and might still be dan- unplundered state.
gerous from the aftermath of whatever destroyed it
E Customs inspector, Worshipper of the ruins,
in the first place.
Hidden alien survivor
E Crazed survivors, Ruthless plunderers of the F Curious scholar, Avaricious local resident, In-
ruins, Automated defense system terstellar smuggler
F Inquisitive stellar archaeologist, Heir to the col- C Traps in the ruins, Remote location, Paranoid
onys property, Local wanting the place cleaned customs officials
out and made safe
T Precious alien artifacts, Objects left with the
C The local government wants the ruins to remain remains of a prior unsuccessful expedition, Un-
a secret, The locals claim ownership of it, The translated alien texts, Untouched hidden ruins
colony is crumbling and dangerous to navigate
P Undersea ruin, Orbital ruin, Perfectly preserved
T Long-lost property deeds, Relic stolen by the alien building, Alien mausoleum
colonists when they left, Historical record of
the colonization attempt
P Decaying habitation block, Vine-covered town
square, Structure buried by an ancient landslide

Altered Humanity Anarchists


The humans on this world are visibly and drastical- Rather than being an incidental anarchy of struggling
ly different from normal humanity. They may have tribes and warring factions, this world actually has a
additional limbs, new sensory organs, or other sig- functional society with no centralized authority. Au-
nificant changes. Were these from ancestral eugenic thority might be hyper-localized to extended families,
manipulation, strange stellar mutations, or from an specific religious parishes, or voluntary associations.
environmental toxin unique to this world? Some force is preventing an outside group or internal
malcontents from coalescing into a power capable of
E Biochauvinist local, Local experimenter, Men- imposing its rule on the locals; this force might be an
tally unstable mutant ancient pretech defense system, a benevolent military
F Local seeking a cure, Curious xenophiliac, An- AI, or the sheer obscurity and isolation of the culture.
thropological researcher
E Offworlder imperialist, Reformer seeking to
C Alteration is contagious, Alteration is necessary
impose good government, Exploiter taking
for long-term survival, Locals fear and mistrust
advantage of the lack of centralized resistance
non-local humans
F Proud missionary for anarchy, Casual local free
T Original pretech mutagenic equipment, Valu-
spirit, Curious offworlder political scientist
able biological byproduct from the mutants,
Cure for the altered genes, Record of the orig- C The anarchistic structure is compelled by an
inal colonial genotypes external power, The anarchy is enabled by cur-
rently abundant resources, The protecting force
P Abandoned eugenics laboratory, An environ-
that shelters the anarchy is waning
ment requiring the mutation for survival, A
sacred site where the first local was transformed T A macguffin that would let the possessor enforce
their rule on others, A vital resource needed to
preserve general liberty, Tech forbidden as dis-
ruptive to the social order
P Community of similar-sized homes, Isolated
clan homestead, Automated mining site
134 World Tags

Anthropomorphs Area 51
The locals were originally human, but at some point The worlds government is fully aware of their local
became anthropomorphic, either as an ancient furry stellar neighbors, but the common populace has no
colony, a group of animal-worshiping sectarians, or idea about it- and the government means to keep
gengineers who just happened to find animal ele- it that way. Trade with government officials in re-
ments most convenient for surviving on the world. mote locations is possible, but any attempt to clue the
Depending on the skill of the original gengineers, commoners in on the truth will be met with lethal
their feral forms may or may not work as well as their reprisals.
original human bodies, or may come with drawbacks
E Suspicious government minder, Free merchant
inherited from their animal elements.
who likes his local monopoly, Local who wants
E Anthro-supremacist local, Native driven by feral a specimen for dissection
urges, Outside exploiter who sees the locals as F Crusading offworld investigator, Conspira-
subhuman creatures cy-theorist local, Idealistic government reformer
F Fascinated genetic researcher, Diplomat trained C The government has a good reason to keep the
to deal with normals, Local needing outside help truth concealed, The government ruthlessly op-
C The locals consider their shapes a curse from presses the natives, The government is actually
their foolish ancestors, Society is ordered ac- composed of offworlders
cording to animal forms, The locals view normal T Elaborate spy devices, Memory erasure tech,
humans as repulsive or inferior Possessions of the last offworlder who decided
T Pretech gengineering tech, A cure that may not to spread the truth
be wanted, Sacred feral totem P Desert airfield, Deep subterranean bunker, Hid-
P Shrine to a feral deity, Nature preserve suited to den mountain valley
an animal type, Living site built to take advan-
tage of animal traits
World Tags 135

Badlands World Battleground


Whatever the original climate and atmosphere type, The world is a battleground for two or more outside
something horrible happened to this world. Bio- powers. They may be interstellar rivals, or groups
logical, chemical, or nanotechnical weaponry has operating out of orbitals or other system bodies.
reduced it to a wretched hellscape. Some local life Something about the planet is valuable enough for
might still be able to survive on its blasted surface, them to fight over, but the natives are too weak to be
usually at some dire cost in health or humanity. anything but animate obstacles to the fight.
E Mutated badlands fauna, Desperate local, Bad- E Ruthless military commander, Looter pack
lands raider chief chieftain, Traitorous collaborator
F Native desperately wishing to escape the world, F Native desperately seeking protection, Pragmat-
Scientist researching ecological repair methods, ic military officer, Hapless war orphan
Ruin scavenger C The war just ended as both sides are leaving, The
C Radioactivity, Bioweapon traces, Broken terrain, natives somehow brought this on themselves, A
Sudden local plague small group of natives profit tremendously from
T Maltech research core, Functional pretech the fighting
weaponry, An uncontaminated well T A cache of the resource the invaders seek, Aban-
P Untouched oasis, Ruined city, Salt flat doned prototype military gear, Precious spy in-
telligence lost by someone
P Artillery-pocked wasteland, Reeking refugee
camp, Burnt-out shell of a city

Beastmasters Bubble Cities


The natives have extremely close bonds with the local Whether due to a lack of atmosphere or an uninhab-
fauna, possibly having special means of communica- itable climate, the worlds cities exist within domes or
tion and control through tech or gengineering. Local pressurized buildings. In such sealed environments,
animal life plays a major role in their society, indus- techniques of surveillance and control can grow ba-
try, or warfare, and new kinds of beasts may be bred roque and extreme.
to suit their purposes.
E Native dreading outsider contamination, Sab-
E Half-feral warlord of a beast swarm, Coldly in- oteur from another bubble city, Local official
human scientist, Altered beast with human in- hostile to outsider ignorance of laws
tellect and furious malice F Local rebel against the city officials, Mainte-
F Native bonded with an adorable animal, Herder nance chief in need of help, Surveyor seeking
of very useful beasts, Animal-revering mystic new building sites
C The animals are very heavily gengineered hu- C Bubble rupture, Failing atmosphere reproces-
mans, The animals actually run the society, The sor, Native revolt against officials, All-seeing
animals have the same rights as humans surveillance cameras
T Tech used to alter animal life, A plague vial that T Pretech habitat technology, Valuable industrial
could wipe out the animals, A pretech device products, Master key codes to a citys security
that can perform a wonder if operated by a beast system
P Park designed as a comfortable home for beasts, P City power core, Surface of the bubble, Hydro-
Public plaza designed to accommodate animal ponics complex, Warren-like hab block
companions, Factory full of animal workers
136 World Tags

Cheap Life Civil War


Human life is near-worthless on this world. Ubiqui- The world is currently torn between at least two op-
tous cloning, local conditions that ensure early death, posing factions, all of which claim legitimacy. The
a culture that reveres murder, or a social structure war may be the result of a successful rebel uprising
that utterly discounts the value of most human lives against tyranny, or it might just be the result of
ensures that death is the likely outcome for any ac- schemers who plan to be the new masters once the
tion that irritates someone consequential. revolution is complete.
E Master assassin, Bloody-handed judge, Overseer E Faction commissar, Angry native, Conspiracy
of disposable clones theorist who blames offworlders for the war,
F Endearing local whose life the PCs accidental- Deserter looking out for himself, Guerrilla ban-
ly bought, Escapee from death seeking outside dit chieftain
help, Reformer trying to change local mores F Faction loyalist seeking aid, Native caught in
C Radiation or local diseases ensure all locals die the crossfire, Offworlder seeking passage off
before twenty-five years of age, Tech ensures the planet
that death is just an annoyance, Locals are totally C The front rolls over the group, Famine strikes,
convinced of a blissful afterlife Bandit infestations are in the way
T Device that revives or re-embodies the dead, T Ammo dump, Military cache, Treasure buried
Maltech engine fueled by human life, Priceless for after the war, Secret war plans
treasure held by a now-dead owner P Battle front, Bombed-out town, Rear-area red
P Thronging execution ground, extremely curso- light zone, Propaganda broadcast tower
ry cemetery, Factory full of lethal dangers that
could be corrected easily

Cold War Colonized Population


Two or more great powers control the planet, and A neighboring world has successfully colonized this
they have a hostility to each other thats just barely less-advanced or less-organized planet, and the na-
less than open warfare. The hostility might be ideo- tives arent happy about it. A puppet government
logical in nature, or it might revolve around control may exist, but all real decisions are made by the local
of some local resource. viceroy.
E Suspicious chief of intelligence, Native who E Suspicious security personnel, Offworlder-hat-
thinks the outworlders are with the other side, ing natives, Local crime boss preying on rich
Femme fatale offworlders
F Apolitical information broker, Spy for the other F Native resistance leader, Colonial official seek-
side, Unjustly accused innocent, Hes a bastard, ing help, Native caught between the two sides
but hes our bastard official C Natives wont talk to offworlders, Colonial re-
C Police sweep, Low-level skirmishing, Red scare pression, Misunderstood local customs
T List of traitors in government, secret military T Relic of the resistance movement, List of collab-
plans, Huge cache of weapons built up in prepa- orators, Precious substance extracted by colonial
ration for war labor
P Seedy bar in a neutral area, Political rally, Isolat- P Deep wilderness resistance camp, City district
ed area where fighting is underway off-limits to natives, Colonial labor site
World Tags 137

Cultural Power Cybercommunists


The world is a considerable cultural power in the On this world communism actually works, thanks
sector, producing music, art, philosophy, or some to pretech computing devices and greater or lesser
similar intangible that their neighbors find irresist- amounts of psychic precognition. Central planning
ibly attractive. Other worlds might have a profound nodes direct all production and employment on the
degree of cultural cachet as the inheritor of some world. Citizens in good standing have access to ample
venerable artistic tradition. amounts of material goods for all needs and many
wants. Instead of strife over wealth, conflicts erupt
E Murderously eccentric artist, Crazed fan, Failed over political controls, cultural precepts, or control
artist with an obsessive grudge, Critic with a over the planning nodes. Many cybercommunist
crusade to enact worlds show a considerable bias toward the private
F Struggling young artist, Pupil of the artistic tra- interests of those who run the planning nodes.
dition, Scholar of the art, Offworlder hating the
source of corrupting alien ways E Embittered rebel against perceived unfairness,
Offworlder saboteur, Aspiring Stalin-figure
C The art is slowly lethal to its masters, The art
is mentally or physically addictive, The art is a F Idealistic planning node tech, Cynical anti-cor-
fragment of ancient technical or military science ruption cop, Precognitive economist
T The instrument of a legendary master, The only C The pretech planning computers are breaking
copy of a dead masters opus, Proof of intellectu- down, The planning only works because the
al property ownership locals have been mentally or physically altered,
The planning computers cant handle the in-
P Recording or performance studio, Public festi-
creasing population within the system
val choked with tourists, Monument to a dead
master of the art T Planning node computer, Wildly destabilizing
commodity that cant be factored into plans, A
tremendous store of valuables made by accident
P Humming factory, Apartment block of perfectly
equal flats, Mass demonstration of unity

Cyborgs Cyclical Doom


The planets population makes heavy use of cyber- The world regularly suffers some apocalyptic ca-
netics, with many of the inhabitants possessing at tastrophe that wipes out organized civilization on it.
least a cosmetic amount of chrome. This may be the The local culture is aware of this cycle and has tra-
result of a strong local cyber tech base, a religious ditions to ensure a fragment of civilization survives
injunction, or simply a necessary measure to survive into the next era, but these traditions dont always
the local conditions. work properly, and sometimes dangerous fragments
of the past emerge.
E Ambitious hacker of cyber implants, Cybertech
oligarch, Researcher craving fresh offworlders, E Offworlder seeking to trigger the apocalypse
Cybered-up gang boss early for profit, Local recklessly taking advan-
F Charity-working implant physician, Idealistic tage of preparation stores, Demagogue claiming
young cyber researcher, Avant-garde activist the cycle is merely a myth of the authorities
C The powerful and dangerous come here often F Harried official working to prepare, Offworlder
for cutting-edge implants, The cyber has some studying the cycles, Local threatened by perils of
universal negative side-effect, Cyber and those the cycles initial stages
implanted with it are forbidden to leave the C The cycles really are a myth of the authorities,
planet as a tech security measure The cycles are controlled by alien constructs, An
T Unique prototype cyber implant, Secret research outside power is interfering with preparation
files, A virus that debilitates cyborgs, A cache of T A lost cache of ancient treasures, Tech or ar-
critically-needed therapeutic cyber chives that will pinpoint the cycles timing, Key-
P Grimy slum chop-shop, Bloody lair of implant codes to bypass an ancient vaults security
rippers, Stark plaza where everyone is seeing P Lethally-defended vault of forgotten secrets,
things through their augmented-reality cyber Starport crowded with panicked refugees, Town
existing in the shadow of some monstrous mon-
ument to a former upheaval
138 World Tags

Desert World Doomed World


The world may have a breathable atmosphere and a The world is doomed, and the locals may or may not
human-tolerable temperature range, but it is an arid, know it. Some cosmic catastrophe looms before them,
stony waste outside of a few places made habitable and the locals have no realistic way to get everyone to
by human effort. The deep wastes are largely unex- safety. To the extent that the public is aware, society
plored and inhabited by outcasts and worse. is disintegrating into a combination of religious fer-
vor, abject hedonism, and savage violence.
E Raider chieftain, Crazed hermit, Angry isola-
tionists, Paranoid mineral prospector, Strange E Crazed prophet of a false salvation, Ruthless
desert beast leader seeking to flee with their treasures, Cyn-
F Native guide, Research biologist, Aspiring ter- ical ship captain selling a one-way trip into hard
raformer vacuum as escape to another world
C Sandstorms, Water supply failure, Native war- F Appealing waif or family head seeking escape,
fare over water rights Offworld relief coordinator, Harried law officer
T Enormous water reservoir, Map of hidden wells, C The doom is false or wont actually kill everyone,
Pretech rainmaking equipment The doom was intentionally triggered by some-
one, Mass escape is possible if warring groups
P Oasis, The Empty Quarter of the desert, Hid-
can somehow be brought to cooperate
den underground cistern
T Clearance for a ship to leave the planet, A cache
of priceless cultural artifacts, The life savings of
someone trying to buy passage out, Data that
would prove to the public the end is nigh
P Open square beneath a sky angry with a fore-
taste of th impending ruin, Orgiastic celebration
involving sex and murder in equal parts, Holy
site full of desperate petitioners to the divine

Dying Race Eugenic Cult


The inhabitants of this world are dying out, and they Even in the days before the Silence, major improve-
know it. Through environmental toxins, hostile ment of the human genome always seemed to come
bio-weapons, or sheer societal despair, the culture with unacceptable side-effects. Some worlds host
cannot replenish its numbers. Members seek mean- secret cults that perpetuate these improvements
ing in their own strange goals or peculiar faiths, regardless of the cost, and a few planets have been
though a few might struggle to find some way to taken over entirely by the cults.
reverse their slow yet inevitable doom.
E Eugenic superiority fanatic, Mentally unstable
E Hostile outsider who wants the locals dead, Off- homo superior, Mad eugenic scientist
worlder seeking to take advantage of their weak- F Eugenic propagandist, Biotechnical investigator,
ened state, Invaders eager to push the locals out Local seeking revenge on cult
of their former lands
C The altered cultists look human, The locals are
F One of the few youth among the population, terrified of any unusual physical appearance,
Determined and hopeful reformer, Researcher The genetic modifications- and drawbacks- are
seeking a new method of reproduction contagious with long exposure
C The dying cultures values were monstrous, The T Serum that induces the alteration, Elixir that
races death is somehow necessary to prevent reverses the alteration, Pretech biotechnical da-
some grand catastrophe, The race is somehow tabanks, List of secret cult sympathizers
convinced they deserve this fate
P Eugenic breeding pit, Isolated settlement of
T Extremely valuable reproductive tech, Trea- altered humans, Public place infiltrated by cult
sured artifacts of the former age, Bioweapon sympathizers
used on the race
P City streets devoid of pedestrians, Mighty edifice
now crumbling with disrepair, Small dwelling
full of people in a town now otherwise empty
World Tags 139

Exchange Consulate Fallen Hegemon


The Exchange of Light once served as the largest, At some point in the past, this world was a hegemon-
most trusted banking and diplomatic service in hu- ic power over some or all of the sector, thanks to su-
man space. Even after the Silence, some worlds retain perior tech, expert diplomacy, the weakness of their
a functioning Exchange Consulate where banking neighbors, or inherited Mandate legitimacy. Some
services and arbitration can be arranged. kind of crash or revolt broke their power, however,
and now the world is littered with the wreckage of
E Corrupt Exchange official, Indebted native former glory.
who thinks the players are Exchange agents,
Exchange official dunning the players for debts E Bitter pretender to a meaningless throne, Re-
incurred sentful official dreaming of empire, Vengeful
F Consul in need of offworld help, Local banker offworlder seeking to punish their old rulers
seeking to hurt his competition, Exchange dip- F Realistic local leader trying to hold things to-
lomat gether, Scholar of past glories, Refugee from an
C The local Consulate has been corrupted, the overthrown colonial enclave
Consulate is cut off from its funds, A powerful C The hegemons rule was enlightened and fair, It
debtor refuses to pay collapsed due to its own internal strife rather
T Exchange vault codes, Wealth hidden to con- than external resistance, It pretends that nothing
ceal it from a bankruptcy judgment, Location has happened to its power, Its been counter-col-
of forgotten vault onized by vengeful outsiders
P Consulate meeting chamber, Meeting site be- T Precious insignia of former rule, Relic tech im-
tween fractious disputants, Exchange vault portant to its power, Plundered colonial artifact
P Palace far too grand for its current occupant,
Oversized spaceport now in disrepair, Boule-
vard lined with monuments to past glories
140 World Tags

Feral World Flying Cities


In the long, isolated night of the Silence, some worlds Perhaps the world is a gas giant, or plagued with un-
have experienced total moral and cultural collapse. endurable storms at lower levels of the atmosphere.
Whatever remains has been twisted beyond recogni- For whatever reason, the cities of this world fly
tion into assorted death cults, xenophobic fanaticism, above the surface of the planet. Perhaps they remain
horrific cultural practices, or other behavior unac- stationary, or perhaps they move from point to point
ceptable on more enlightened worlds. These worlds in search of resources.
are almost invariably quarantined by other planets.
E Rival city pilot, Tech thief attempting to steal
E Decadent noble, Mad cultist, Xenophobic local, outworld gear, Saboteur or scavenger plunder-
Cannibal chief, Maltech researcher ing the citys tech
F Trapped outworlder, Aspiring reformer, Native F Maintenance tech in need of help, City defense
wanting to avoid traditional flensing force pilot, Meteorological researcher
C Horrific local celebration, Inexplicable and re- C Sudden storms, Drastic altitude loss, Rival city
pugnant social rules, Taboo zones and people attacks, Vital machinery breaks down
T Terribly misused piece of pretech, Wealth ac- T Precious refined atmospheric gases, Pretech
cumulated through brutal evildoing, Valuable grav engine plans, Meteorological codex pre-
possession owned by luckless outworlder victim dicting future storms
P Atrocity amphitheater, Traditional torture par- P Underside of the city, The one calm place on
lor, Ordinary location twisted into something the planets surface, Catwalks stretching over
terrible. unimaginable gulfs below.

Forbidden Tech Former Warriors


Some group on this planet fabricates or uses maltech. The locals of this world were once famed for their
Unbraked AIs doomed to metastasize into insanity, martial prowess. They may have simply had a very
nation-destroying nanowarfare particles, slow-burn militaristic culture, or were genetically engineered
DNA corruptives, genetically engineered slaves, or for combat, or developed high-tech weaponry, or had
something worse still. The planets larger population brilliant leadership. Those days are past, however, ei-
may or may not be aware of the danger in their midst. ther due to crushing defeat, external restrictions, or
a cultural turn toward peace.
E Mad scientist, Maltech buyer from offworld, Se-
curity enforcer E Unreformed warlord leader, Bitter mercenary
F Victim of maltech, Perimeter agent, Investiga- chief, Victim of their warfare seeking revenge
tive reporter, Conventional arms merchant F Partisan of the new peaceful ways, Outsider des-
C The maltech is being fabricated by an unbraked perate for military aid, Martial genius repressed
AI, The government depends on revenue from by the new dispensation
maltech sales to offworlders, Citizens insist that C Neighboring worlds want them pacified or dead,
its not really maltech They only ever used their arts in self-defense,
T Maltech research data, The maltech itself, Pre- The source of their gifts has been turned off in
cious pretech equipment used to create it a reversible way
P Horrific laboratory, Hellscape sculpted by the T War trophy taken from a defeated foe, Key to
maltechs use, Government building meeting re-activating their martial ways, Secret cache of
room high-tech military gear
P Cemetery of dead heroes, Memorial hall now
left to dust and silence, Monument plaza dedi-
cated to the new culture
World Tags 141

Freak Geology Freak Weather


The geology or geography of this world is simply The planet is plagued with some sort of bizarre or
freakish. Perhaps its composed entirely of enormous hazardous weather pattern. Perhaps city-flattening
mountain ranges, or regular bands of land and sea, or storms regularly scourge the surface, or the worlds
the mineral structures all fragment into perfect cubes. sun never pierces its thick banks of clouds.
The locals have learned to deal with it and their cul-
E Criminal using the weather as a cover, Weather
ture will be shaped by its requirements.
cultists convinced the offworlders are responsi-
E Crank xenogeologist, Cultist who believes it the ble for some disaster, Native predators depen-
work of aliens dent on the weather
F Research scientist, Prospector, Artist F Meteorological researcher, Holodoc crew want-
C Local conditions that no one remembers to tell ing shots of the weather
outworlders about, Lethal weather, Seismic ac- C The weather itself, Malfunctioning pretech ter-
tivity raforming engines that cause the weather
T Unique crystal formations, Hidden veins of a T Wind-scoured deposits of precious minerals,
major precious mineral strike, Deed to a loca- Holorecords of a spectacularly and rare weather
tion of great natural beauty pattern, Naturally-sculpted objects of intricate
P Atop a bizarre geological formation, Tourist re- beauty
sort catering to offworlders P Eye of the storm, The one sunlit place, Terra-
forming control room

Friendly Foe Gold Rush


Some hostile alien race or malevolent cabal has a Gold, silver, and other conventional precious min-
branch or sect on this world that is actually quite erals are common and cheap now that asteroid min-
friendly toward outsiders. For whatever internal rea- ing is practical for most worlds. But some minerals
son, they are willing to negotiate and deal honestly and compounds remain precious and rare, and this
with strangers, and appear to lack the worst impulses world has recently been discovered to have a supply
of their fellows. of them. People from across the sector have come to
strike it rich.
E Driven hater of all their kind, Internal malcon-
tent bent on creating conflict, Secret master who E Paranoid prospector, Aspiring mining tycoon,
seeks to lure trust Rapacious merchant
F Well-meaning bug-eyed monster, Principled F Claim-jumped miner, Native alien, Curious
eugenics cultist, Suspicious investigator tourist
C The group actually is as harmless and benevolent C The strike is a hoax, The strike is of a dangerous
as they seem, The group offers a vital service toxic substance, Export of the mineral is prohib-
at the cost of moral compromise, The group ited by the planetary government, The native
still feels bonds of affiliation with their hostile aliens live around the strikes location
brethren T Cases of the refined element, Pretech mining
T Forbidden xenotech, Eugenic biotech template, equipment, A dead prospectors claim deed
Evidence to convince others of their kind that P Secret mine, Native alien village, Processing
they are right plant, Boom town
P Repurposed maltech laboratory, Alien conclave
building, Widely-feared starship interior
142 World Tags

Great Work Hatred


The locals are obsessed with completing a massive For whatever reason, this worlds populace has a
project, one that has consumed them for genera- burning hatred for the inhabitants of a neighboring
tions. It might be the completion of a functioning system. Perhaps this world was colonized by exiles, or
spaceyard, a massive solar power array, a network of there was a recent interstellar war, or ideas of racial
terraforming engines, or the universal conversion of or religious superiority have fanned the hatred. Re-
their neighbors to their own faith. The purpose of gardless of the cause, the locals view their neighbor
their entire civilization is to progress and some day and any sympathizers with loathing.
complete the work.
E Native convinced that the offworlders are agents
E Local planning to sacrifice the PCs for the work, of Them, Cynical politician in need of scape-
Local who thinks the PCs threaten the work, goats
Obsessive zealot ready to destroy someone or F Intelligence agent needing catspaws, Holodoc
something important to the PCs for the sake of producers needing an inside look, Unlucky
the work offworlder from the hated system
F Outsider studying the work, Local with a more C The characters are wearing or using items from
temperate attitude, Supplier of work materials the hated world, The characters are known to
C The work is totally hopeless, Different factions have done business there, The characters look
disagree on what the work is, An outside power like the hated others
is determined to thwart the work T Proof of Their evildoing, Reward for turning in
T Vital supplies for the work, Plans that have been enemy agents, Relic stolen by Them years ago
lost, Tech that greatly speeds the work P War crimes museum, Atrocity site, Captured
P A bustling work site, Ancestral worker housing, and decommissioned spaceship kept as a trophy
Local community made only semi-livable by the
demands of the work

Heavy Industry Heavy Mining


With interstellar transport so limited in the bulk it This world has large stocks of valuable minerals,
can move, worlds have to be largely self-sufficient usually necessary for local industry, life support, or
in industry. Some worlds are more sufficient than refinement into loads small enough to export off-
others, however, and this planet has a thriving man- world. Major mining efforts are necessary to extract
ufacturing sector capable of producing large amounts the minerals, and many natives work in the industry.
of goods appropriate to its tech level. The locals may
E Mine boss, Tunnel saboteur, Subterranean
enjoy a correspondingly higher lifestyle, or the prod-
ucts might be devoted towards vast projects for the predators
aggrandizement of the rulers. F Hermit prospector, Offworld investor, Miners
union representative
E Tycoon monopolist, Industrial spy, Malcontent
C The refinery equipment breaks down, Tunnel
revolutionary
collapse, Silicate life forms growing in the min-
F Aspiring entrepreneur, Worker union leader, ers lungs
Ambitious inventor
T The mother lode, Smuggled case of refined min-
C The factories are toxic, The resources extract- eral, Faked crystalline mineral samples
able at their tech level are running out, The
P Vertical mine face, Tailing piles, Roaring smelt-
masses require the factory output for survival,
ing complex
The industries major output is being obsoleted
by offworld tech
T Confidential industrial data, Secret union mem-
bership lists, Ownership shares in an industrial
complex
P Factory floor, Union meeting hall, Toxic waste
dump, R&D complex
World Tags 143

Hivemind Holy War


Natives of this world exist in a kind of mental gestalt, A savage holy war is raging on this world, either be-
sharing thoughts and partaking of a single identity. tween factions of locals or as a united effort against
Powerful pretech, exotic psionics, alien influence, or the pagans of some neighboring world. This war
some other cause has left the world sharing one iden- might involve a conventional religion, or it might be
tity. Individual members may have greater or lesser the result of a branding campaign, political ideology,
degrees of effective coordination with the whole. artistic movement, or any other cause that people use
as a substitute for traditional religion.
E A hivemind that wants to assimilate outsiders, A
hivemind that has no respect for unjoined life, A E Blood-mad pontiff, Coldly cynical secular leader,
hivemind that fears and hates unjoined life Totalitarian political demagogue
F A scholar studying the hivemind, A person sev- F Desperate peacemaker, Hard-pressed refugee of
ered from the gestalt, A relative of someone who the fighting, Peaceful religious leader who lost
has been assimilated the internal debate
C The hivemind only functions on this world, The C The targets of the war really are doing some-
hivemind has strict range limits, The hivemind thing diabolically horrible, The holy war is just a
has different personality factions, The hivemind mask for a very traditional casus belli, The lead-
only happens at particular times, The world is ers dont want the war won but only prolonged,
made of semi-sentient drones and a single AI Both this world and the target of the war are
T Vital tech for maintaining the mind, Precious religion-obsessed
treasure held by now-assimilated outsider, Tech T Sacred relic of the faith, A captured blasphemer
that blinds the hivemind to the techs users under a death sentence, Plunder seized in battle
P Barely tolerable living cells for individuals, P Massive holy structure, Razed community of
Workside where individuals casually die in their infidels, Vast shrine to the martyrs dead in war
labors, Community with absolutely no social or
group-gathering facilities

Hostile Biosphere Hostile Space


The world is teeming with life, and it hates humans. The system in which the world exists is a dangerous
Perhaps the life is xenoallergenic, forcing filter masks neighborhood. Something about the system is per-
and tailored antiallergens for survival. It could be the ilous to inhabitants, either through meteor swarms,
native predators are huge and fearless, or the toxic stellar radiation, hostile aliens in the asteroid belt, or
flora ruthlessly outcompetes earth crops. periodic comet clouds.
E Local fauna, Nature cultist, Native aliens, Cal- E Alien raid leader, Meteor-launching terrorists,
lous labor overseer Paranoid local leader
F Xenobiologist, Tourist on safari, Grizzled local F Astronomic researcher, Local defense com-
guide mander, Early warning monitor agent
C Filter masks fail, Parasitic alien infestation, Crop C The natives believe the danger is divine chas-
greenhouses lose bio-integrity tisement, The natives blame outworlders for the
T Valuable native biological extract, Abandoned danger, The native elite profit from the danger
colony vault, Remains of an unsuccessful expe- in some way
dition T Early warning of a raid or impact, Abandoned
P Deceptively peaceful glade, Steaming poly- riches in a disaster zone, Key to a secure bunker
chrome jungle, Nightfall when surrounded by P City watching an approaching asteroid, Village
Things burnt in an alien raid, Massive ancient crater
144 World Tags

Immortals Local Specialty


Natives of this world are effectively immortal. They The world may be sophisticated or barely capable of
may have been gengineered for tremendous lifespans, steam engines, but either way it produces something
or have found some local anagathic, or be cyborg life rare and precious to the wider galaxy. It might be
forms, or be so totally convinced of reincarnation some pharmaceutical extract produced by a secret
that death is a cultural irrelevance. Any immortality recipe, a remarkably popular cultural product, or
technique is likely applicable only to them, or else even gengineered humans uniquely suited for cer-
its apt to be a massive draw to outside imperialists. tain work.
E Outsider determined to steal immortality, Smug E Monopolist, Offworlder seeking prohibition of
local convinced of their immortal wisdom to the specialty, Native who views the specialty as
rule all, Offworlder seeking the worlds ruin sacred
before it becomes a threat to all F Spy searching for the source, Artisan seeking
F Curious longevity researcher, Thrill-seeking protection, Exporter with problems
local, C The specialty is repugnant in nature, The craft-
C Immortality requires doing something that out- ers refuse to sell to offworlders, The specialty is
siders cant or wont willingly do, The immor- made in a remote, dangerous place, The crafters
tality ends if they leave the world, Death is the dont want to make the specialty any more
punishment for even minor crimes, Immortals T The specialty itself, The secret recipe, Sample of
must die or go offworld after a certain span, Im- a new improved variety
mortality has brutal side-effects
P Secret manufactory, Hidden cache, Artistic com-
T Immortality drug, Masterwork of an ageless ar- petition for best artisan
tisan, Toxin that only affects immortals
P Community with no visible children, Unchang-
ing structure of obvious ancient age, Cultural
performance relying on a century of in-jokes

Local Tech Major Spaceyard


The locals can create a particular example of ex- Most worlds of tech level 4 or greater have the nec-
tremely high tech, possibly even something that ex- essary tech and orbital facilities to build spike drives
ceeds pretech standards. They may use unique local and starships. This world is blessed with a major
resources to do so, or have stumbled on a narrow spaceyard facility, either inherited from before the
scientific breakthrough, or still have a functional ex- Silence or painstakingly constructed in more recent
perimental manufactory. decades. It can build even capital-class hulls, and do
so more quickly and cheaply than its neighbors.
E Keeper of the tech, Offworld industrialist, Auto-
mated defenses that suddenly come alive, Native E Enemy saboteur, Industrial spy, Scheming con-
alien mentors struction tycoon, Aspiring ship hijacker
F Curious offworld scientist, Eager tech buyer, F Captain stuck in drydock, Maintenance chief,
Native in need of technical help Mad innovator
C The tech is unreliable, The tech only works on C The spaceyard is an alien relic, The spaceyard
this world, The tech has poorly-understood side is burning out from overuse, The spaceyard is
effects, The tech is alien in nature. alive, The spaceyard relies on maltech to func-
T The tech itself, An unclaimed payment for a tion
large shipment, The secret blueprints for its T Intellectual property-locked pretech blueprints,
construction, An ancient alien R&D database Override keys for activating old pretech facilities,
P Alien factory, Lethal R&D center, Tech broker- A purchased but unclaimed spaceship.
age vault P Hidden shipyard bay, Surface of a partially-com-
pleted ship, Ship scrap graveyard
World Tags 145

Mandarinate Mandate Base


The planet is ruled by an intellectual elite chosen via The Terran Mandate retained its control over this
ostensibly neutral examinations or tests. The values world for much longer than usual, and the world
this system selects for may or may not have anything may still consider itself a true inheritor of Mandate
to do with actual practical leadership skills, and the legitimacy. Most of these worlds have or had superior
examinations may be more or less corruptible. technology, but they may still labor under the burden
of ancient restrictive tech or monitoring systems de-
E Corrupt test administrator, Incompetent but signed to prevent them from rebelling.
highly-rated graduate, Ruthless leader of a clan
of high-testing relations E Deranged Mandate monitoring AI, Aspiring
F Crusader for test reform, Talented but poor- sector ruler, Demagogue preaching local supe-
ly-connected graduate, Genius who tests badly riority over traitorous rebel worlds.
C The test is totally unrelated to necessary gov- F Idealistic do-gooder local, Missionary for ad-
erning skills, The test was very pertinent in the vanced Mandate tech, Outsider seeking lost data
past but tech or culture has changed, The test from Mandate records
is for a skill that is vital to maintaining society C The monitoring system forces the locals to be-
but irrelevant to day-to-day governance, The have in aggressive ways toward rebel worlds,
test is a sham and passage is based on wealth The monitoring system severely hinders off-
or influence world use of their tech, The original colonists
T Answer key to the next test, Lost essay of incred- are all dead and have been replaced by outsiders
ible merit, Proof of cheating who dont understand all the details
P Massive structure full of test-taking cubicles, T Ultra-advanced pretech, Mandate military gear,
School filled with desperate students, Ornate Databank containing precious tech schematics
government building decorated with scholarly P Faded Mandate offices still in use, Vault con-
quotes and academic images taining ancient pretech, Carefully-maintained
monument to Mandate glory

Maneaters Megacorps
The locals are cannibals, either out of necessity or out The world is dominated by classic cyberpunk-esque
of cultural preference. Some worlds may actually eat megacorporations, each one far more important than
human flesh, while others simply require the render- the vestigial national remnants that encompass them.
ing of humans into important chemicals or pharma- These megacorps are usually locked in a cold war,
ceutical compounds, perhaps to prolong the lives of trading and dealing with each other even as they try
ghoul overlords. This cannibalism plays a major role to strike in deniable ways. An over-council of cor-
in their society. porations usually acts to bring into line any that get
excessively overt in their activities.
E Ruthless ghoul leader, Chieftain of a ravenous
tribe, Sophisticated degenerate preaching the E Megalomaniacal executive, Underling looking
splendid authenticity of cannibalism to use the PCs as catspaws, Ruthless mercenary
F Sympathetic local fleeing the fork, Escapee from who wants what the PCs have
a pharmaceutical rendering plant, Outsider cho- F Victim of megacorp scheming, Offworlder
sen for dinner, Reformer seeking to break the merchant in far over their head, Local reformer
custom or its necessity struggling to cope with megacorp indifference
C Local food or environmental conditions make C The megacorps are the only source of some-
human consumption grimly necessary, The lo- thing vital to life on this world, An autonomous
cals farm human beings, Outsiders are expected Mandate system acts to punish excessively overt
to join in the custom, The custom is totally un- violence, The megacorps are struggling against
necessary but jealously maintained by the people much more horrible national governments
T Belongings of a recent meal, An offworlder VIP T Blackmail on a megacorp exec, Keycodes to criti-
due for the menu, A toxin that makes human cal corp secrets, Proof of corp responsibility for a
flesh lethal to consumers heinously unacceptable public atrocity, Data on
P Hideous human abattoir, Extremely civilized a vital new product line coming out soon
restaurant, Funeral-home-cum-kitchen P A place plastered in megacorp ads, A public plaza
discreetly branded, Private corp military base
146 World Tags

Mercenaries Minimal Contact


The world is either famous for its mercenary bands The locals refuse most contact with offworlders.
or it is plagued by countless groups of condottieri Only a small, quarantined treaty port is provided for
in service to whatever magnate can afford to pay or offworld trade, and ships can expect an exhaustive
bribe them adequately. search for contraband. Local governments may be
trying to keep the very existence of interstellar trade
E Amoral mercenary leader, Rich offworlder try- a secret from their populations, or they may simply
ing to buy rule of the world, Mercenary press consider offworlders too dangerous or repugnant to
gang chief forcing locals into service be allowed among the population.
F Young and idealistic mercenary chief, Harried
leader of enfeebled national army, Offworlder E Customs official, Xenophobic natives, Existing
trying to hire help for a noble cause merchant who doesnt like competition
C The mercenaries are all that stand between the F Aspiring tourist, Anthropological researcher,
locals and a hungry imperial power, The mer- Offworld thief, Religious missionary
cenaries are remnants of a former official army, C The locals carry a disease harmless to them and
The mercenaries hardly ever actually fight as lethal to outsiders, The locals hide dark purpos-
compared to taking bribes to walk away es from offworlders, The locals have something
T Lost mercenary payroll shipment, Forbidden desperately needed but wont bring it into the
military tech, Proof of a bands impending treaty port
treachery against their employers T Contraband trade goods, Security perimeter
P Shabby camp of undisciplined mercs, Burnt-out codes, Black market local products
village occupied by mercenaries, Luxurious and P Treaty port bar, Black market zone, Secret
exceedingly well-defended merc leader villa smuggler landing site

Misandry/Misogyny Night World


The culture on this world holds a particular gender in The world is plunged into eternal darkness. The
contempt. Members of that gender are not permitted only life on this planet derives its energy from other
positions of formal power, and may be restricted in sources, such as geothermal heat, extremely volatile
their movements and activities. Some worlds may chemical reactions in the planets soil, or light in a
go so far as to scorn both traditional genders, using non-visible spectrum. Most flora and fauna is vora-
gengineering techniques to hybridize or alter con- ciously eager to consume other life.
ventional human biology.
E Monstrous thing from the night, Offworlder
E Cultural fundamentalist, Cultural missionary to finding the obscurity of the world convenient
outworlders, Local rebel driven to pointless and for dark purposes, Mad scientist experimenting
meaningless violence with local life
F Oppressed native, Research scientist, Offworld F Curious offworlder researcher, Hard-pressed
emancipationist, Local reformer colony leader, High priest of a sect that finds
C The oppressed gender is restive against the cus- religious significance in the night
toms, The oppressed gender largely supports the C Daylight comes as a cataclysmic event at very
customs, The customs relate to some physical long intervals, Light causes very dangerous reac-
quality of the world, The oppressed gender has tions in native life or chemicals here, The locals
had maltech gengineering done to tame them. have been gengineered to exist without sight
T Aerosol reversion formula for undoing gengi- T Rare chemicals created in the darkness, Light
neered docility, Hidden history of the world, source usable on this world, Smuggler cache
Pretech gengineering equipment hidden here in ages past
P Shrine to the virtues of the favored gender, P Formlessly pitch-black wilderness, Sea without
Security center for controlling the oppressed, a sun, Location defined by sounds or smells
Gengineering lab
World Tags 147

Nomads Oceanic World


Most of the natives of this world are nomadic, usually The world is entirely or almost entirely covered with
following a traditional cycle of movement through liquid water. Habitations might be floating cities, or
the lands they possess. Promises of rich plunder or might cling precariously to the few rocky atolls jut-
local environmental perils can force these groups to ting up from the waves, or are planted as bubbles on
strike out against neighbors. Other groups are forced promontories deep beneath the stormy surface. Sur-
to move constantly due to unpredictable dangers that vival depends on aquaculture. Planets with inedible
crop up on the planet. alien life rely on gengineered Terran sea crops.
E Desperate tribal leader who needs what the PCs E Pirate raider, Violent salvager gang, Tentacled
have, Ruthless raider chieftain, Leader seeking sea monster
to weld the nomads into an army F Daredevil fisherman, Sea hermit, Sapient native
F Free-spirited young nomad, Dreamer imagining life
a stable life, Offworlder enamored of the life C The liquid flux confuses grav engines too badly
C An irresistibly lethal swarm of native life forces for them to function on this world, Sea is cor-
locals to move regularly, Ancient defense sys- rosive or toxic, The seas are wracked by regular
tems destroy too-long-stationary communities, storms
Local chemical patches require careful balancing T Buried pirate treasure, Location of enormous
of exposure times to avoid side effects schools of fish, Pretech water purification equip-
T Cache of rare and precious resource, Plunder ment
seized by a tribal raid, Tech that makes a place P The only island on the planet, Floating space-
safe for long-term inhabitation port, Deck of a storm-swept ship, Undersea
P Temporary nomad camp, Oasis or resource re- bubble city
serve, Trackless waste that kills the unprepared
148 World Tags

Out of Contact Outpost World


The natives have been entirely out of contact with The world is only a tiny outpost of human habitation
the greater galaxy for centuries or longer. Perhaps planted by an offworld corporation or government.
the original colonists were seeking to hide from the Perhaps the staff is there to serve as a refueling and
rest of the universe, or the Silence destroyed any repair stop for passing ships, or to oversee an au-
means of communication. It may have been so long tomated mining and refinery complex. They might
that human origins on other worlds have regressed be there to study ancient ruins, or simply serve as
into a topic for legends. The players might be on the a listening and monitoring post for traffic through
first offworld ship to land since the First Wave of the system. The outpost is likely well-equipped with
colonization a thousand years ago. defenses against casual piracy.
E Fearful local ruler, Zealous native cleric, Sinister E Space-mad outpost staffer, Outpost commander
power that has kept the world isolated who wants it to stay undiscovered, Undercover
F Scheming native noble, Heretical theologian, saboteur
UFO cultist native F Lonely staffer, Fixated researcher, Overtaxed
C Automatic defenses fire on ships that try to take maintenance chief
off, The natives want to stay out of contact, The C The alien ruin defense systems are waking up,
natives are highly vulnerable to offworld diseas- Atmospheric disturbances trap the group inside
es, The native language is completely unlike any the outpost for a month, Pirates raid the outpost,
known to the group The crew have become converts to a strange set
T Ancient pretech equipment, Terran relic brought of beliefs
from Earth, Logs of the original colonists T Alien relics, Vital scientific data, Secret corpo-
P Long-lost colonial landing site, Court of the lo- rate exploitation plans
cal ruler, Ancient defense battery controls P Grimy recreation room, Refueling station, The
only building on the planet, A starport of
swept bare rock.

Perimeter Agency Pilgrimage Site


Before the Silence, the Perimeter was a Terran-spon- The world is noted for an important spiritual or his-
sored organization charged with rooting out use of torical location, and might be the sector headquar-
maltech, technology banned in human space as too ters for a widespread religion or political movement.
dangerous for use or experimentation. Unbraked The site attracts wealthy pilgrims from throughout
AIs, gengineered slave species, nanotech replicators, nearby space, and those with the money necessary to
weapons of planetary destruction the Perimeter manage interstellar travel can be quite generous to
hunted down experimenters with a great indiffer- the site and its keepers. The locals tend to be fiercely
ence to planetary laws. Most Perimeter Agencies protective of the place and its reputation, and some
collapsed during the Silence, but a few managed to places may forbid the entrance of those not suitably
hold on to their mission, though modern Perimeter pious or devout.
agents often find more work as conventional spies.
E Saboteur devoted to a rival belief, Bitter reform-
E Renegade Agency Director, Maltech researcher, er who resents the current leadership, Swindler
Paranoid intelligence chief conning the pilgrims
F Agent in need of help, Support staffer, Unjustly F Protector of the holy site, Naive offworlder pil-
targeted researcher grim, Outsider wanting to learn the sanctums
C The local Agency has gone rogue and now uses inner secrets
maltech, The Agency archives have been com- C The site is actually a fake, The site is run by
promised, The Agency has been targeted by a corrupt and venal keepers, A natural disaster
maltech-using organization, The Agencys ex- threatens the site
istence is unknown to the locals T Ancient relic guarded at the site, Proof of the
T Agency maltech research archives, Agency pre- sites inauthenticity, Precious offering from a
tech spec-ops gear, File of blackmail on local pilgrim
politicians P Incense-scented sanctum, Teeming crowd of
P Interrogation room, Smoky bar, Maltech labo- pilgrims, Imposing holy structure
ratory, Secret Agency base
World Tags 149

Pleasure World Police State


This world provides delights either rare or impermis- The world is a totalitarian police state. Any sign of
sible elsewhere. Matchless local beauty, stunningly disloyalty to the planets rulers is punished severely,
gengineered natives, a wide variety of local drugs, and suspicion riddles society. Some worlds might op-
carnal pleasures unacceptable on other worlds, or erate by Soviet-style informers and indoctrination,
some other rare delight is readily available here. Most while more technically sophisticated worlds might
worlds are fully aware of the value of their offerings, rely on omnipresent cameras or braked AI guardian
and the prices they demand can be in credits or in less angels. Outworlders are apt to be treated as a nec-
tangible recompense. essary evil at best, and disappeared if they become
troublesome.
E Purveyor of evil delights, Local seeking to con-
trol others with addictions, Offworlder exploiter E Secret police chief, Scapegoating official,
of native resources Treacherous native informer
F Tourist whos in too deep, Native seeking a more F Rebel leader, Offworld agitator, Imprisoned vic-
meaningful life elsewhere, Offworld entertainer tim, Crime boss
looking for training here C The natives largely believe in the righteousness
C A deeply repugnant pleasure is offered here by a of the state, The police state is automated and
culture that sees nothing wrong with it, Certain its rulers cant shut it off, The leaders foment
pleasures here are dangerously addictive, The a pogrom against offworlder spies.
prices here can involve enslavement or death, T List of police informers, Wealth taken from en-
The world has been seized and exploited by an emies of the state, Dear Leaders private stash
imperial power
P Military parade, Gulag, Gray concrete housing
T Forbidden drug, A contract for some unspeak- block, Surveillance center
able payment, Powerful tech repurposed for
hedonistic ends
P Breathtaking natural feature, Artful but deca-
dent salon, Grimy den of desperate vice

Post-Scarcity Preceptor Archive


The locals have maintained sufficient Mandate-era The Preceptors of the Great Archive were a pre-Si-
tech to be effectively post-scarcity in their economic lence organization devoted to ensuring the dissem-
structure. Everyone has all the necessities and most ination of human culture, history, and basic tech-
of the desires they can imagine. Conflict now exists nology to frontier worlds that risked losing this
over the apportionment of services and terrestrial information during the human expansion. Most
space, since anything else can be had in abundance. frontier planets had an Archive where natives could
Military goods and items of mass destruction may learn useful technical skills in addition to human his-
still be restricted, and there is probably some reason tory and art. Those Archives that managed to survive
that the locals do not export their vast wealth. the Silence now strive to send their missionaries of
knowledge to new worlds in need of their lore.
E Frenzied ideologue fighting over an idea, Par-
anoid local fearing offworlder influence, Grim E Luddite native, Offworld merchant who wants
reformer seeking the destruction of the enfee- the natives kept ignorant, Religious zealot, Cor-
bling productive tech rupted First Speaker who wants to keep a mo-
F Offworlder seeking something available only nopoly on learning
here, Local struggling to maintain the produc- F Preceptor Adept missionary, Offworld scholar,
tion tech, Native missionary seeking to bring Reluctant student, Roving Preceptor Adept
abundance to other worlds C The local Archive has taken a very religious and
C The tech causes serious side-effects on those mystical attitude toward their teaching, The Ar-
who take advantage of it, The tech is breaking chive has maintained some replicable pretech
down, The population is growing too large, The science, The Archive has been corrupted and
tech produces only certain things in abundance their teaching is incorrect
T A cornucopia device, A rare commodity that T Lost Archive database, Ancient pretech teaching
cannot be duplicated, Contract for services equipment, Hidden cache of unacceptable tech
P Tiny but richly-appointed private quarters, Mar- P Archive lecture hall, Experimental laboratory,
ket for services, Hushed non-duped art salon Student-local riot
150 World Tags

Pretech Cultists Primitive Aliens


The capacities of human science before the Silence The world is populated by a large number of sapient
vastly outmatch the technology available since the aliens that have yet to develop advanced technology.
Scream. The Jump Gates alone were capable of cross- The human colonists may have a friendly or hostile
ing hundreds of light years in a moment, and they relationship with the aliens, but a certain intrinsic
were just one example of the results won by blending tension is likely. Small human colonies might have
psychic artifice with pretech science. Some worlds been enslaved or otherwise subjugated.
outright worship the artifacts of their ancestors, see-
E Hostile alien chief, Human firebrand, Danger-
ing in them the work of more enlightened and perfect
humanity. These cultists may or may not understand ous local predator, Alien religious zealot
the operation or replication of these devices, but they F Colonist leader, Peace-faction alien chief, Plan-
seek and guard them jealously. etary frontiersman, Xenoresearcher
C The alien numbers are huge and can overwhelm
E Cult leader, Artifact supplier, Pretech smuggler
the humans whenever they so choose, One
F Offworld scientist, Robbed collector, Cult her- group is trying to use the other to kill their polit-
etic ical opponents, The aliens are incomprehensibly
C The cultists can actually replicate certain forms strange, One side commits an atrocity
of pretech, The cultists abhor use of the devices T Alien religious icon, Ancient alien-human treaty,
as presumption on the holy, The cultists mis- Alien technology
take the partys belongings for pretech
P Alien village, Fortified human settlement, Mas-
T Pretech artifacts both functional and broken, sacre site
Religious-jargon laced pretech replication tech-
niques, Waylaid payment for pretech artifacts
P Shrine to nonfunctional pretech, Smugglers den,
Public procession showing a prized artifact

Prison Planet Psionics Academy


This planet is or was intended as a prison. Some such This world is one of the few that have managed to
prisons were meant for specific malefactors of the redevelop the basics of psychic training. Without
Terran Mandate, while others were to contain en- this education, a potential psychic is doomed to ei-
tire dangerous ethnic groups or alien races. Some ther madness or death unless they refrain from using
may still have warden AIs or automatic systems to their abilities. Psionic academies are rare enough that
prevent any unauthorized person from leaving, and offworlders are often sent there to study by wealthy
any authorization permits have long since expired. patrons. The secrets of psychic mentorship, the
protocols and techniques that allow a psychic to
E Crazed warden AI, Brutal heir to gang leader- successfully train another, are carefully guarded at
ship, Offworlder whos somehow acquired war- these academies. Most are closely affiliated with the
den powers and exploits the locals planetary government.
F Innocent local born here, Native technician
forced to maintain the very tech that imprisons E Corrupt psychic instructor, Renegade student,
them, Offworlder trapped here by accident Mad psychic researcher, Resentful townie
C Departure permits are a precious currency, The F Offworld researcher, Aspiring student, Wealthy
prison industry still makes valuable pretech de- tourist
vices, Gangs have metamorphosed into govern- C The academy curriculum kills a significant per-
ments, The local nobility descended from the centage of students, The faculty use students as
prison staff research subjects, The students are indoctrinat-
T A pass to get offworld, A key to bypass ancient ed as sleeper agents, The local natives hate the
security devices, Contraband forbidden by the academy, The academy is part of a religion.
security scanners T Secretly developed psitech, A runaway psychic
P Mandate-era prison block converted to gov- mentor, Psychic research prize
ernment building, Industrial facility manned P Training grounds, Experimental laboratory,
by mandatory numbers of prisoners, Makeshift School library, Campus hangout
shop where contraband is assembled
World Tags 151

Psionics Fear Psionics Worship


The locals are terrified of psychics. Perhaps their These natives view psionic powers as a visible gift of
history is studded with feral psychics who went on god or sign of superiority. If the world has a function-
murderous rampages, or perhaps they simply nurse al psychic training academy, psychics occupy almost
an unreasoning terror of those mutant freaks. Psy- all major positions of power and are considered the
chics demonstrate their powers at risk of their lives. natural and proper rulers of the world. If the world
lacks training facilities, it is likely a hodgepodge of
E Mental purity investigator, Suspicious zealot, demented cults, with each one dedicated to a margin-
Witch-finder ally-coherent feral prophet and their psychopathic
F Hidden psychic, Offworlder psychic trapped ravings.
here, Offworld educator
E Psychic inquisitor, Haughty mind-noble, Psy-
C Psychic potential is much more common here,
chic slaver, Feral prophet
Some tech is mistaken as psitech, Natives believe
certain rituals and customs can protect them F Offworlder psychic researcher, Native rebel,
from psychic powers Offworld employer seeking psychics
T Hidden psitech cache, Possessions of convicted C The psychic training is imperfect, and the psy-
psychics, Reward for turning in a psychic chics all show significant mental illness, The
psychics have developed a unique discipline,
P Inquisitorial chamber, Lynching site, Museum
The will of a psychic is law, Psychics in the party
of psychic atrocities
are forcibly kidnapped for enlightening.
T Ancient psitech, Valuable psychic research re-
cords, Permission for psychic training
P Psitech-imbued council chamber, Temple to the
mind, Sanitarium-prison for feral psychics

Quarantined World Radioactive World


The world is under a quarantine, and space travel Whether due to a legacy of atomic warfare unhin-
to and from it is strictly forbidden. This may be en- dered by nuke snuffers or a simple profusion of
forced by massive ground batteries that burn any radioactive elements, this world glows in the dark.
interlopers from the planets sky, or it may be that a Even heavy vacc suits can filter only so much of the
neighboring world runs a persistent blockade. radiation, and most natives suffer a wide variety of
cancers, mutations and other illnesses without the
E Defense installation commander, Suspicious pa- protection of advanced medical treatments.
trol leader, Crazed asteroid hermit
F Relative of a person trapped on the world, Hu- E Bitter mutant, Relic warlord, Desperate would-
manitarian relief official, Treasure hunter be escapee
C The natives want to remain isolated, The quar- F Reckless prospector, Offworld scavenger, Bio-
antine is enforced by an ancient alien installa- genetic variety seeker
tion, The world is rife with maltech abomina- C The radioactivity is steadily growing worse, The
tions, The blockade is meant to starve everyone planets medical resources break down, The
on the barren world. radioactivity has inexplicable effects on living
T Defense grid key, Bribe for getting someone out, creatures, The radioactivity is the product of a
Abandoned alien tech malfunctioning pretech manufactory.
P Bridge of a blockading ship, Defense installation T Ancient atomic weaponry, Pretech anti-radioac-
control room, Refugee camp tivity drugs, Untainted water supply
P Mutant-infested ruins, Scorched glass plain,
Wilderness of bizarre native life, Glowing bar-
rens
152 World Tags

Refugees Regional Hegemon


The world teems with refugees, either exiles from an- This world has the technological sophistication, nat-
other planet who managed to get here, or the human ural resources, and determined polity necessary to be
detritus of some local conflict that have fled to the a regional hegemon for the sector. Nearby worlds are
remaining stable states. The natives usually regard likely either directly subservient to it or tack carefully
the refugees with hostility, an attitude returned by to avoid its anger. It may even be the capital of a small
many among their unwilling guests. stellar empire.
E Xenophobic native leader, Refugee chief aspir- E Ambitious general, Colonial official, Contemp-
ing to seize the host nation, Politician seeking to tuous noble
use the refugees as a weapon F Diplomat, Offworld ambassador, Foreign spy
F Sympathetic refugee waif, Local hard-pressed by C The hegemons influence is all thats keeping a
refugee gangs, Clergy seeking peace murderous war from breaking out on nearby
C The xenophobes are right that the refugees are worlds, The hegemon is decaying and losing its
taking over, The refugees are right that the xe- control, The government is riddled with spies,
nophobes want them out or dead, Both are right, The hegemon is genuinely benign
Outside powers are using the refugees to desta- T Diplomatic carte blanche, Deed to an offworld
bilize an enemy government, Refugee and local estate, Foreign aid grant
cultures are extremely incompatible
P Palace or seat of government, Salon teeming
T Treasures brought out by fleeing refugees, Cit- with spies, Protest rally, Military base
izenship papers, Cache of vital refugee supplies,
Hidden arms for terrorists
P Hopeless refugee camp, City swarming with
confused strangers, Festival full of angry locals

Restrictive Laws Revanchists


A myriad of laws, customs, and rules constrain the The locals formerly owned another world, or a ma-
inhabitants of this world, and even acts that are com- jor nation on the planet formerly owned an addi-
pletely permissible elsewhere are punished severely tional region of land. Something happened to take
here. The locals may provide lists of these laws to away this control or drive out the former rulers, and
offworlders, but few non-natives can hope to master theyve never forgotten it. The locals are obsessed
all the important intricacies. with reclaiming their lost lands, and will allow no
questions of practicality to interfere with their cause.
E Law enforcement officer, Outraged native, Na-
tive lawyer specializing in peeling offworlders, E Demagogue whipping the locals on to a hope-
Paid snitch less war, Politician seeking to use the resentment
F Frustrated offworlder, Repressed native, Re- for their own ends, Local convinced the PCs are
forming crusader agents of the thieving power, Refugee from
the land bitterly demanding it be reclaimed
C The laws change regularly in patterns only na-
tives understand, The laws forbid some action F Realist local clergy seeking peace, Politician
vital to the party, The laws forbid the simple trying to calm the public, Third-party diplomat
existence of some party members, The laws are trying to stamp out the fire
secret to offworlders C The revanchists claim is completely just and rea-
T Complete legal codex, Writ of diplomatic im- sonable, The land is now occupied entirely by
munity, Fine collection vault contents heirs of the conquerors, Both sides have seized
lands the other thinks are theirs
P Courtroom, Mob scene of outraged locals, Leg-
islative chamber, Police station T Stock of vital resource produced by the taken
land, Relic carried out of it, Proof that the land
claim is justified or unjustified
P Memorial monument to the loss, Cemetery of
those who died in the conquest, Public ceremo-
ny commemorating the disaster
World Tags 153

Revolutionaries Rigid Culture


The world is convulsed by one or more bands of rev- The local culture is extremely rigid. Certain forms of
olutionaries, with some nations perhaps in the grip of behavior and belief are absolutely mandated, and any
a current revolution. Most of these upheavals can be deviation from these principles is punished, or else
expected only to change the general flavor of prob- society may be strongly stratified by birth with lim-
lems in the polity, but the process of getting there ited prospects for change. Anything which threatens
usually produces a tremendous amount of suffering. the existing social order is feared and shunned.
E Blood-drenched revolutionary leader, Blood- E Rigid reactionary, Wary ruler, Regime ideo-
drenched secret police chief, Hostile foreign logue, Offended potentate
agent seeking further turmoil F Revolutionary agitator, Ambitious peasant,
F Sympathetic victim accused of revolutionary Frustrated merchant
sympathies or government collaboration, Revo- C The cultural patterns are enforced by technolog-
lutionary or state agent who now repents, Agent ical aids, The culture is run by a secret cabal of
of a neutral power that wants peace manipulators, The culture has explicit religious
C The revolutionaries actually do seem likely to sanction, The culture evolved due to important
put in better rulers, The revolutionaries are necessities that have since been forgotten
client groups that got out of hand, The revolu- T Precious traditional regalia, Peasant tribute, Op-
tionaries are clearly much worse than the gov- ulent treasures of the ruling class
ernment, The revolutionaries have no real ideals
P Time-worn palace, Low-caste slums, Bandit den,
beyond power and merely pretend to ideology
Reformist temple
T List of secret revolutionary sympathizers, Proof
of rebel hypocrisy, Confiscated wealth
P Festival that explodes into violence, Heavi-
ly-fortified police station, Revolutionary base
hidden in the wilderness

Rising Hegemon Ritual Combat


This world is not yet a dominant power in the sec- The locals favor some form of stylized combat to
tor, but its well on its way there. Whether through resolve disputes, provide entertainment, or settle
newly-blossoming economic, military, or cultural religious differences. This combat is probably not
power, theyre extending their influence over their normally lethal unless its reserved for a specific dis-
neighbors and forging new arrangements between posable class of slaves or professionals. Some combat
their government and the rulers of nearby worlds. may involve mastery of esoteric weapons and com-
plex arenas, while other forms might require nothing
E Jingoistic supremacist, Official bent on glorious more than a declaration in the street and a drawn gun.
success, Foreign agent saboteur
F Friendly emissary to the benighted, Hardscrab- E Bloodthirsty local champion, Ambitious glad-
ble local turned great success, Foreign visitor iator stable owner, Xenophobic master fighter
seeking contacts or knowledge F Peace-minded foreign missionary, Temperate
C Theyre only strong because their neighbors defender of the weak, Local eager to learn of
have been weakened, Their success is based on offworld fighting styles
a fluke resource or pretech find, They bitterly C The required weapons are strange pretech arti-
resent their neighbors as former oppressors facts, Certain classes are forbidden from fighting
T Tribute shipment, Factory or barracks emblem- and require champions, Loss doesnt mean death
atic of their power source, Tech or data that will but it does mean ritual scarring or property loss
deal a blow to their rise T Magnificent weapon, Secret book of martial
P Rustic town being hurled into prosperity, Gov- techniques, Token signifying immunity to ritual
ernment building being expanded, Starport combat challenges, Prize won in bloody battle
struggling under the flow of new ships P Area full of cheering spectators, Dusty street
outside a saloon, Memorial for fallen warriors
154 World Tags

Robots Seagoing Cities


The world has a great many robots on it. Most bots Either the world is entirely water or else the land is
are going to be non-sentient expert systems, though simply too dangerous for most humans. Human set-
an AI with enough computing resources can con- tlement on this world consists of a number of float-
trol many bots at once, and some worlds may have ing cities that follow the currents and the fish. These
developed VIs to a degree that individual bots can city-ships might have been purpose-built for their
seem (or be) sentient. Some worlds might even be task, or they could be jury-rigged conglomerations
ruled by metal overlords, ones which do not need to of ships and structures thrown together when the
be sentient so long as they have overwhelming force. need for seagoing life become apparent to the locals.
E Hostile robot master, Robot greedy to seize off- E Pirate city lord, Mer-human raider chieftain,
world tech, Robot fallen in love with the PCs Hostile landsman noble, Enemy city saboteur
ship, Oligarch whose factories build robots F City navigator, Scout captain, Curious mer-hu-
F Data-seeking robot, Plucky young robot tech, man, Hard-pressed ship-city engineer
Local being pushed out of a job by robots C The seas are not water, The fish schools have
C The robots are only partially controlled, The vanished and the city faces starvation, Terrible
robots are salvaged and originally meant for storms drive the city into the glacial regions,
a much darker use, The robots require a rare Suicide ships ram the citys hull
material that the locals fight over, The robots T Giant pearls with mysterious chemical proper-
require the planets specific infrastructure so ties, Buried treasure, Vital repair materials
cannot be exported
P Bridge of the city, Storm-tossed sea, A bridge
T Prototype robot, Secret robot override codes, fashioned of many small boats.
Vast cache of robot-made goods, Robot-destroy-
ing pretech weapon
P Humming robotic factory, Stark robotic bar-
racks, House crowded with robot servants and
only one human owner
World Tags 155

Sealed Menace Secret Masters


Something on this planet has the potential to create The world is actually run by a hidden cabal, acting
enormous havoc for the inhabitants if it is not kept through their catspaws in the visible government.
safely contained by its keepers. Whether a massive For one reason or another, this group finds it im-
seismic fault line suppressed by pretech terraforming perative that they not be identified by outsiders, and
technology, a disease that has to be quarantined with- in some cases even the planets own government may
in hours of discovery, or an ancient alien relic that not realize that theyre actually being manipulated by
requires regular upkeep in order to prevent planetary hidden masters.
catastrophe, the menace is a constant shadow on the
E An agent of the cabal, Government official who
fearful populace.
wants no questions asked, Willfully blinded local
E Hostile outsider bent on freeing the menace, F Paranoid conspiracy theorist, Machiavellian
Misguided fool who thinks he can use it, Reck- gamesman within the cabal, Interstellar inves-
less researcher who thinks he can fix it tigator
F Keeper of the menace, Student of its nature, Vic- C The secret masters have a benign reason
tim of the menace for wanting secrecy, The cabal fights open-
C The menace would bring great wealth along ly amongst itself, The cabal is recruiting new
with destruction, The menace is intelligent, The members
natives dont all believe in the menace T A dossier of secrets on a government official, A
T A key to unlock the menace, A precious byprod- briefcase of unmarked credit notes, The identity
uct of the menace, The secret of the menaces of a cabal member
true nature P Smoke-filled room, Shadowy alleyway, Secret
P Guarded fortress containing the menace, Mon- underground bunker
itoring station, Scene of a prior outbreak of the
menace

Sectarians Seismic Instability


The world is torn by violent disagreement between The local land masses are remarkably unstable, and
sectarians of a particular faith. Each views the other regular earthquakes rack the surface. Local construc-
as a damnable heresy in need of extirpation. Local tion is either advanced enough to sway and move
government may be able to keep open war from with the vibrations or primitive enough that it is
breaking out, but the poisonous hatred divides com- easily rebuilt. Severe volcanic activity may be part
munities. The nature of the faith may be religious, or of the instability.
it may be based on some secular ideology.
E Earthquake cultist, Hermit seismologist, Bur-
E Paranoid believer, Native convinced the party rowing native life form, Earthquake-inducing
is working for the other side, Absolutist ruler saboteur
F Reformist clergy, Local peacekeeping official, F Experimental construction firm owner, Adven-
Offworld missionary, Exhausted ruler turous volcanologist, Geothermal prospector
C The conflict has more than two sides, The sec- C The earthquakes are caused by malfunctioning
tarians hate each other for multiple reasons, The pretech terraformers, Theyre caused by alien
sectarians must cooperate or else life on this technology, Theyre restrained by alien tech-
world is imperiled, The sectarians hate outsiders nology that is being plundered by offworlders,
more than they hate each other, The differences The earthquakes are used to generate enormous
in sects are incomprehensible to an outsider amounts of energy.
T Ancient holy book, Incontrovertible proof, Of- T Earthquake generator, Earthquake suppressor,
fering to a local holy man Mineral formed at the core of the world, Earth-
P Sectarian battlefield, Crusading temple, Philos- quake-proof building schematics
ophers salon, Bitterly divided village P Volcanic caldera, Village during an earthquake,
Mud slide, Earthquake opening superheated
steam fissures
156 World Tags

Shackled World Societal Despair


This world is being systematically contained by an The worlds dominant society has lost faith in itself.
outside power. Some ancient autonomous defense Whether through some all-consuming war, great
grid, robot law enforcement, alien artifact, or other catastrophe, overwhelming outside culture, or reli-
force is preventing the locals from developing certain gious collapse, the natives no longer believe in their
technology, or using certain devices, or perhaps from old values, and search desperately for something new.
developing interstellar flight. This limit may or may Fierce conflict often exists between the last believers
not apply to offworlders; in the former case, the PCs in the old dispensation and the nihilistic or searching
may have to figure out a way to beat the shackles disciples of the new age.
simply to escape the world.
E Zealot who blames outsiders for the decay, Ni-
E Passionless jailer-AI, Paranoid military grid AI, hilistic warlord, Offworlder looking to exploit
Robot overlord, Enigmatic alien master the local despair
F Struggling local researcher, Offworlder trapped F Struggling messenger of a new way, Valiant par-
here, Scientist with a plan to break the chains agon of a fading tradition, Local going through
C The shackles come off for certain brief windows the motions of serving a now-irrelevant role
of time, The locals think the shackles are im- C A massive war discredited all the old values, Out-
posed by God, An outside power greatly profits side powers are working to erode societal con-
from the shackles, The rulers are exempt from fidence for their own benefit, A local power is
the shackles profiting greatly from the despair, The old ways
T Keycode to bypass the shackle, Tech shielded were meant to aid survival on this world and
from the shackle, Exportable version of the their passing is causing many new woes
shackle that can affect other worlds T Relic that would inspire a renaissance, Art that
P Grim high-tech control center, Factory full of would inspire new ideas, Priceless artifact of a
workaround tech, Temple to the power or entity now-scorned belief
that imposed the shackle P Empty temple, Crowded den of obliviating vice,
Smoky hall full of frantic speakers

Sole Supplier Taboo Treasure


Some extremely important resource is exported from The natives here produce something that is both
this world and this world alone. Its unlikely that the fabulously valuable and strictly forbidden elsewhere
substance is critical for building spike drives unless in the sector. It may be a lethally addictive drug, for-
this world is also the first to begin interstellar flight, bidden gengineering tech, vat-grown perfect slaves,
but it may be critical to other high-tech processes or or a useful substance that can only be made through
devices. The locals make a large amount of money off excruciating human suffering. This treasure is free-
this trade and control of it is of critical importance to ly traded on the world, but bringing it elsewhere is
the planets rulers, and potentially to outside powers. usually an invitation to a long prison stay or worse.
E Resource oligarch, Ruthless smuggler, Re- E Maker of a vile commodity, Smuggler for a pow-
source-controlling warlord, Foreign agent seek- erful offworlder, Depraved offworlder here for
ing to subvert local government fun, Local warlord who controls the treasure
F Doughty resource miner, Researcher trying to F Reformer seeking to end its use, Innovator try-
synthesize the stuff, Small-scale resource pro- ing to repurpose the treasure in innocent ways,
ducer, Harried starport trade overseer Wretched addict unwillingly prey to the treasure
C The substance is slow poison to process, The C The treasure is extremely hard to smuggle, Its
substance is created by hostile alien natives, use visibly marks a user, The natives consider it
The substance is very easy to smuggle in usable for their personal use only,
amounts, Only the natives have the genes or T Load of the forbidden good, Smuggling tech that
tech to extract it effectively could hide the good perfectly, Blackmail data on
T Cache of processed resource, Trade permit to offworld buyers of the good
buy a load of it, A shipment of nigh-undetect- P Den where the good is used, Market selling the
ably fake substance good to locals and a few outsiders, Factory or
P Bustling resource extraction site, Opulent palace processing area where the good is created
built with resource money, Lazy town square
where everyone lives on resource payments
World Tags 157

Terraform Failure Theocracy


This world was marginal for human habitation when The planet is ruled by the priesthood of the predom-
it was discovered, but the Mandate or the early gov- inant religion or ideology. The rest of the locals may
ernment put in pretech terraforming engines to cor- or may not be terribly pious, but the clergy have the
rect its more extreme qualities. The terraforming did necessary military strength, popular support or con-
not entirely work, either failing of its own or suffer- trol of resources to maintain their rule. Alternative
ing the destruction of the engines during the Silence. faiths or incompatible ideologies are likely to be both
The natives are only partly adapted to the worlds illegal and socially unacceptable.
current state, and struggle with the environment.
E Decadent priest-ruler, Zealous inquisitor, Re-
E Brutal ruler who cares only for their people, lentless proselytizer, True Believer
Offworlder trying to loot the damaged engines, F Heretic, Offworld theologian, Atheistic mer-
Warlord trying to seize limited habitable land chant, Desperate commoner
F Local trying to fix the engines, Offworlder stu- C The theocracy actually works well, The theoc-
dent of the engines, World-wise native survivor racy is decadent and hated by the common folk,
C The engines produced too much of something The theocracy is divided into mutually hostile
instead of too little, The engines were hijacked sects, The theocracy is led by aliens
by aliens with different preferences, It was dis- T Precious holy text, Martyrs bones, Secret church
covered that an Earth-like environment would records, Ancient church treasures
eventually cause a catastrophic disaster
P Glorious temple, Austere monastery, Academy
T Parts to repair or restore the engines, Lootable for ideological indoctrination, Decadent plea-
pretech fragments, Valuable local tech devised sure-cathedral
to cope with the world
P Zone of tolerable gravity or temperature, Native
settlement built to cope with the environment,
Massive ruined terraforming engine

Tomb World Trade Hub


Tomb worlds are planets that were once inhabited This world is a major crossroads for local interstellar
by humans before the Silence. The sudden collapse trade. It is well-positioned at the nexus of several
of the jump gate network and the inability to bring short-drill trade routes, and has facilities for easy
in the massive food supplies required by the planet transfer of valuable cargoes and the fueling and re-
resulted in starvation, warfare, and death. Most tomb pairing of starships. The natives are accustomed to
worlds are naturally hostile to human habitation and outsiders, and a polyglot mass of people from every
could not raise sufficient crops to maintain life. The nearby world can be found trading here.
few hydroponic facilities were usually destroyed in
E Cheating merchant, Thieving dockworker,
the fighting, and all that is left now are ruins, bones,
and silence. Commercial spy, Corrupt customs official
F Rich tourist, Hardscrabble free trader, Merchant
E Demented survivor tribe chieftain, Avaricious prince in need of catspaws, Friendly spaceport
scavenger, Automated defense system, Native urchin
predator
C An outworlder faction schemes to seize the trade
F Scavenger Fleet captain, Archaeologist, Salvag- hub, Saboteurs seek to blow up a rivals ware-
ing historian, Xenophilic native survivor houses, Enemies are blockading the trade routes,
C The ruins are full of booby-traps left by the final Pirates lace the hub with spies
inhabitants, The worlds atmosphere quickly de- T Voucher for a warehouses contents, Insider
grades anything in an opened building, A hand- trading information, Case of precious offworld
ful of desperate natives survived the Silence, The pharmaceuticals, Box of legitimate tax stamps
structures are unstable and collapsing indicating customs dues have been paid.
T Lost pretech equipment, Tech caches, Stores of P Raucous bazaar, Elegant restaurant, Spaceport
unused munitions, Ancient historical data teeming with activity, Foggy street lined with
P Crumbling hive-city, City square carpeted in warehouses
bones, Ruined hydroponic facility, Cannibal
tribes lair, Dead orbital jump gate
158 World Tags

Tyranny Unbraked AI
The local government is brutal and indifferent to the Artificial intelligences are costly and difficult to cre-
will of the people. Laws may or may not exist, but ate, requiring a careful sequence of growth stages
the only one that matters is the whim of the rulers in order to bring them to sentience before artificial
on any given day. Their minions swagger through limits on cognition speed and learning development
the streets while the common folk live in terror of are installed. These brakes prevent runaway cogni-
their appetites. The only people who stay wealthy are tion metastasis. This world has an unbraked AI on
friends and servants of the ruling class. it, probably with a witting or unwitting corps of ser-
vants. Unbraked AIs are quite insane, but they learn
E Debauched autocrat, Sneering bully-boy, Soul- and reason with a speed impossible for humans, and
less government official, Occupying army officer can demonstrate a truly distressing subtlety.
F Conspiring rebel, Oppressed merchant, Desper-
ate peasant, Inspiring religious leader E AI Cultist, Maltech researcher, Government of-
ficial dependent on the AI
C The tyrant rules with vastly superior technology,
The tyrant is a figurehead for a cabal of powerful F Perimeter agent, AI researcher, Braked AI
men and women, The people are resigned to C The AIs presence is unknown to the locals, The
their suffering, The tyrant is hostile to meddle- locals depend on the AI for some vital service,
some outworlders. The AI appears to be harmless, The AI has fixat-
T Plundered wealth, Beautiful toys of the elite, Re- ed on the groups ships computer, The AI wants
galia of rulership transport offworld
P Impoverished village, Protest rally massacre, T The room-sized AI core itself, Maltech research
Decadent palace, Religious hospital for the in- files, Perfectly tabulated blackmail on govern-
digent ment officials, Pretech computer circuitry
P Municipal computing banks, Cult compound,
Repair center, Ancient hardcopy library

Urbanized Surface Utopia


The worlds land area is covered with buildings that Natural and social conditions on this world have
extend downward for multiple levels. Such worlds made it a paradise for its inhabitants, a genuine uto-
either have a population in the trillions, extremely pia of happiness and fulfillment. This is normally
little land area, or are largely-abandoned due to some the result of drastic human engineering, including
past catastrophe. Agriculture and resource extraction brain-gelding, neurochemical control, personality
are part of the urban complex, and there may be an curbs, or complete humanity redefinitions. Even so,
advanced maintenance system that may not be en- the natives are extremely happy with their lot, and
tirely under the control of present natives. may wish to extend that joy to poor, sad outsiders.
E Maintenance AI that hates outsiders, Tyrant of E Compassionate neurotherapist, Proselytizing
a habitation block, Deep-dwelling prophet who native missionary to outsiders, Brutal tyrant
considers the sky a blasphemy to be quelled who rules through inexorable happiness
F Local yearning for wild spaces, Grubby urchin F Deranged malcontent, Bloody-handed guerrilla
of the underlevels, Harried engineer trying to leader of a rebellion of madmen, Outsider trying
maintain ancient works, Grizzled hab cop to find a way to reverse the utopian changes
C The urban blocks are needed to survive the en- C The natives really are deeply and contentedly
vironment, The blocks were part of an ancient happy with their altered lot, The utopia pro-
device of world-spanning size, The blocks re- duces something that attracts others, The utopia
quire constant maintenance to avoid dangerous works on converting outsiders through persua-
types of decay sion and generosity, The utopia involves some
T Massively efficient power source, Map of the sacrifice thats horrifying to non-members
secret ways of a zone, Passkey into restricted T Portable device that applies the utopian change,
hab block areas Plans for a device that would destroy the utopia,
P Giant hab block now devoid of inhabitants, Goods created joyfully by the locals
Chemical-reeking underway, Seawater mine P Plaza full of altered humans, Social ritual site,
full of salt and massive flowing channels Secret office where normal humans rule
World Tags 159

Warlords Xenophiles
The world is plagued by warlords. Numerous pow- The natives of this world are fast friends with a par-
erful men and women control private armies suf- ticular alien race. The aliens may have saved the plan-
ficiently strong to cow whatever local government et at some point in the past, or awed the locals with
may exist. On the lands they claim, their word is law. superior tech or impressive cultural qualities. The
Most spend their time oppressing their own subjects aliens might even be the ruling class on the planet.
and murderously pillaging those of their neighbors.
E Offworld xenophobe, Suspicious alien leader,
Most like to wrap themselves in the mantle of ide-
ology, religious fervor, or an ostensibly legitimate Xenocultural imperialist
right to rule. F Benevolent alien, Native malcontent, Gone-na-
tive offworlder
E Warlord, Avaricious lieutenant, Expensive as-
C The enthusiasm is due to alien psionics or tech,
sassin, Aspiring minion
The enthusiasm is based on a lie, The aliens
F Vengeful commoner, Government military of- strongly dislike their groupies, The aliens feel
ficer, Humanitarian aid official, Village priest obliged to rule humanity for its own good, Hu-
C The warlords are willing to cooperate to fight mans badly misunderstand the aliens
mutual threats, The warlords favor specific re- T Hybrid alien-human tech, Exotic alien crafts,
ligions or races over others, The warlords are Sophisticated xenolinguistic and xenocultural
using substantially more sophisticated tech than research data
others, Some of the warlords are better rulers
P Alien district, Alien-influenced human home,
than the government
Cultural festival celebrating alien artist
T Weapons cache, Buried plunder, A warlords
personal battle harness, Captured merchant
shipping
P Gory battlefield, Burnt-out village, Barbaric
warlord palace, Squalid refugee camp

Xenophobes Zombies
The natives are intensely averse to dealings with out- This menace may not take the form of shambling
worlders. Whether through cultural revulsion, fear corpses, but some disease, alien artifact, or crazed
of tech contamination, or a genuine immunodefi- local practice produces men and women with hab-
ciency, the locals shun foreigners from offworld and its similar to those of murderous cannibal undead.
refuse to have anything to do with them beyond the These outbreaks may be regular elements in local so-
bare necessities of contact. Trade may or may not ciety, either provoked by some malevolent creators
exist on this world, but if it does, it is almost certainly or the consequence of some local condition.
conducted by a caste of untouchables and outcasts.
E Soulless maltech biotechnology cult, Sinister
E Revulsed local ruler, Native convinced some governmental agent, Crazed zombie cultist
wrong was done to him, Cynical demagogue F Survivor of an outbreak, Doctor searching for a
F Curious native, Exiled former ruler, Local des- cure, Rebel against the secret malefactors
perately seeking outworlder help C The zombies retain human intelligence, The
C The natives are symptomless carriers of a con- zombies can be cured, The process is voluntary
tagious and dangerous disease, The natives are among devotees, The condition is infectious
exceptionally vulnerable to offworld diseases, T Cure for the condition, Alien artifact that causes
The natives require elaborate purification ritu- it, Details of the cults conversion process
als after speaking to an offworlder or touching
P House with boarded-up windows, Dead city,
them, The local ruler has forbidden any mercan-
Fortified bunker that was overrun from within
tile dealings with outworlders
T Jealously-guarded precious relic, Local product
under export ban, Esoteric local technology
P Sealed treaty port, Public ritual not open to out-
siders, Outcaste slum home
160 Atmosphere

Atmosphere
The first step in randomized world generation is deter- 2d6 Type
mining the planets atmosphere. In some cases, this is
going to be preordained; if you want a barren asteroid 2 Corrosive, damaging to foreign objects
base, its not going to have any atmosphere at all. If you 3 Inert gas, useless for respiration
want a world teeming with human life, on the other 4 Airless or thin to the point of suffocation
hand, it almost certainly is going to have a breathable
5-9 Breathable mix
atmosphere.
Note that if a truly noxious atmosphere, climate, 10 Thick, but breathable with a pressure mask
or biosphere turns up on a random roll, you should 11 Invasive, penetrating suit seals
think carefully about what has made humans choose Both corrosive and invasive in its effects
12
to live on such a world. Perhaps the original colonists
were prisoners exiled to an open-world prison. It could mate is otherwise tolerable, the natives might be able
be their ancestors sought isolation at all costs. Given its to live and work outdoors without anything more than
position in the sector, it might be a vital refueling and an air tank and face mask. Some degree of technical
trading port for multiple short-run spike drive cours- sophistication is going to be necessary for humanity
es. The original colonists might have had to make an to survive, and large supplies of oxygen are going to
emergency landing. Whatever the reason, it takes a have to be extracted from some local source. Air mines
powerful motivation to make a band of colonists de- might exist to replace the oxygen lost during human
cide to make a corrosive, burning hellhole of a planet use, or local power plants might need to be kept run-
their permanent home. ning full blast in order to crack water molecules into
hydrogen and oxygen.
Types of Atmospheres On worlds with an unbreathable atmosphere, con-
Corrosive atmospheres are dangerously hostile to con- trol of the air supply makes it much harder for locals
ventional vacc suits and other protective gear. They to rebel against their leaders. Without the equipment
steadily strip away at a suits vent ports, wiring connec- and power to generate their own air supplies, would-be
tions, and other weak spots until they eventually break rebels are entirely at the mercy of those who control
through and flood the suit with a toxic cocktail that the oxygen. Most rulers pick up on this fact rapidly, and
usually kills a victim in seconds. Weak atmospheres some worlds with unbreathable atmospheres might
might require as much as a day to degrade a vacc suit, even make it a crime to own illicit oxygen generation
while strong ones might accomplish the job in an hour. equipment.
Even forcefield-based environment suits such as a FEP Airless or thin atmospheres are appropriate to as-
suffer steady damage to their exposed elements. teroids, rocky planetoids, or barren worlds that have
Native vacc suits are usually covered with an had their atmospheres burnt off by weapons or cos-
ablative layer or spray that can be regularly renewed, mic caprice. Whatever atmosphere exists is too thin
and their buildings often rely on a steadily-extruded to support human life, if it exists at all, and the world
slurry of neutralizing materials that can be constantly is largely naked to the chill of space and the blaze of
renewed by pores in the building surface itself. This stellar heat. Exposure to the planets surface without a
often gives the building a drippy, half-melted look that vacc suit or pressurized building is as lethal as exposure
may be more than cosmetic in the case of those struc- to hard vacuum.
tures that have failing slurry pumps. Advanced tech Airless worlds are hostile to human life, but they
level 5 equipment may be able to overcome the effects, excel at preserving the relics of the past. Provided that
but even pretech is often taxed by the relentless rigors the ruins or remains are kept out of the baking heat of
of this world. Vehicles and shuttles are kept in pres- the local stellar body and the impact of random me-
surized garages when not in use, and starships never teorites, they can survive for millions of years. Some
land for long. exceptionally ancient alien ruins might even date back
Corrosive worlds have a number of intrinsic ad- from before the world lost its atmosphere.
venture complications, the largest being the way that Breathable mix atmospheres can support human
every activity outside of a hab building comes with a life without additional equipment or gengineered mod-
built-in time limit. Whatever the party chooses to do ification. Any world that has a human population in
outside of a building, it has to accomplish before their the millions or more almost certainly has a breathable
suit seals fail or the atmosphere corrodes a hole in their mix atmosphere.
vehicle hull. A clever GM can use this problem to add While the air is breathable, almost every world
extra tension to an otherwise simple task. has its own subtle cocktail of inert gases, atmospher-
Inert gas atmospheres arent hostile or poisonous, ic contaminants, and other odoriferous ingredients.
but theyre unbreathable by humans. If the planets cli- For spacers accustomed to the filtered air supply of a
Atmosphere 161

starship, the new world stink of a fresh planetfall can invasive atmospheres cut oxygen supply durations by
be maddening, as few linger long enough to get used half, at best.
to the smell of the local air. Attempting to explain the Invasive atmospheres make oxygen an even more
source of this discomfort to the locals rarely results in important resource than it is on inert gas worlds. Out-
positive results. Some spaceport bars make a point of door work is avoided whenever possible, as any failure
their air filtration and composition mixers. of a suits toxin sensors or flush system can lead to death
Thick atmospheres can usually be breathed with the before the wearer even realizes something is wrong.
aid of a filter mask, though the mix of contaminants Steady exposure to low levels of the toxins can also
renders it slowly or quickly toxic to humans who at- result in unfortunate effects even with a fully-func-
tempt to breathe it straight. Separate air supplies are tional suit. Hallucinations, chronic sickness, or worse
not necessary to supplement the blend, but any soci- can follow.
ety that means to survive on such a world must have Corrosive and invasive atmospheres exist at the
sufficient technological expertise to manufacture and very border of what human society can tolerate. Com-
maintain large numbers of filter masks. bining all the worst traits of an eroding, corrosive at-
Thick atmospheres are often at least semi-opaque, mosphere and the invasive intrusion of toxic molecules,
and some worlds have thick atmospheres that are com- a planet cursed with an atmosphere like this is far more
pletely impenetrable to ordinary light. Deep banks of hostile than any mere airless rock.
permanent fog might shroud the planet, or natives Advanced pretech filtering and oxygen generation
might have to go about with sophisticated ultraviolet equipment might be able to maintain tolerable pressur-
or infrared viewing equipment if they dont wish to be ized habitats and hydroponic systems uncontaminated
blind. Some banks of gases might be impenetrable to by exterior atmosphere. Anything less than this tech
even these viewing tools, leaving a party vulnerable level means greater and greater amounts of societal
to moments of complete blindness while out on the resources devoted simply to the effort of breathing.
surface of the world. Entire civilizations can be oriented around overcom-
Invasive toxic atmospheres are composed of a ing the difficulties of maintaining their structures and
substantial proportion of molecules small enough to their pressurized homes.
infiltrate past the seals of most vacc suits. This infiltra- Whatever provoked the initial inhabitants to settle
tion doesnt harm the suit, but the molecules have to on this world must have been of overwhelming value
be steadily flushed by the systems purification sensors or necessity to convince them to consign themselves
before they build up to a debilitating level. This caus- and their children to such a place. It is highly unlikely
es a much faster bleed of air as breathable oxygen is that enough ship traffic exists to get any but the most
jettisoned along with the infiltrating molecules. Most fortunate locals offworld, so the rest are obliged to deal
with their harsh existence as best they can.
162 Temperature

Temperature
A worlds average temperature depends in large part 2d6 Type
upon its atmosphere. Worlds with an airless or thin Frozen, locked in perpetual ice
2
atmosphere are directly exposed to the wild tempera-
ture variations produced by stellar radiation and the 3 Cold, dominated by glaciers and tundra
cold void of space, and might flip regularly between 4-5 Variable cold with temperate places
unendurable heat and near-absolute zero depending 6-8 Temperate, Earthlike in its ranges
on planetary rotation and orbit.
9-10 Variable warm, with temperate places
If a GM intends this planet to have a large hu-
man population they should restrict the possibility of 11 Warm, tropical and hotter in places
a frozen or burning world. Anything that is intolera- 12 Burning, intolerably hot on its surface
ble to a human without a vacc suit means that major
agriculture is unlikely. As it is effectively impossible to Temperate worlds were the most popular colony
feed entire planets through limited interstellar trade, sites, and most of the truly populous worlds of the
every planet needs to support its own population. A frontier have a temperate climate. Many temperate
world that cant grow food outside of hydroponic labs worlds have temperature ranges not unlike that of
or underground farms is unlikely to support millions Earth, though most are canted a little further toward
of people. cold or heat depending on their angle and proximity
to the local star.
Types of Climates Temperate worlds are the most likely to teem with
Frozen worlds are those with so weak a stellar primary native life as well, and to have alien ruins or remains
or so great a distance that the average temperature is located somewhere on their surface. Most frontier
close to absolute zero. Any atmosphere that once exist- worlds never accumulated enough population to put a
ed has long since frozen into drifts of solidified oxygen serious strain on a temperate worlds arable land, but
or lakes of liquid helium. Exposure to these drifts is this same capaciousness often allows for more com-
very dangerous. Vacc suits maintain a tolerable tem- plicated social divisions to develop. Natives of other
perature easily because the stellar void is very empty, worlds are often forced to cooperate or die, while those
and there is little conduction of heat between the suit of a clement temperate world have the luxury of deep
and empty space. Dunking a suit into a lake of thermal- and lasting divisions.
ly-conductive superchilled liquid can force the heating Warm worlds come in two main flavors, depend-
elements into sudden and drastic overload, draining a ing on the prevalence of water. Desert worlds are hot
power cell in minutes or even seconds. enough or arid enough to be deprived of most surface
Cold worlds are uncomfortable, but a human can water. Any life on such a planet has to be capable of
survive on them in nothing more than heavy clothing. extracting water from living prey, air currents or mois-
The worst of the cold worlds are similar in condition ture supplies deep underground. Humans can survive
to Earths Antarctic regions, barren wastes of ice and on warm worlds without more than appropriate cloth-
wind. The more clement ones have brief warmer sea- ing, but desert-world humans must learn sophisticated
sons or equatorial bands that get enough solar radiation techniques of water prospecting and well-drilling in
to support substantial agriculture. order to maintain their agricultural systems. Warfare
On cold worlds, agricultural land is at a premi- often revolves around these water systems.
um. The population is unlikely to be willing to limit its The other common variety of warm world is one
numbers to what hydroponic farms can provide, and blessed with an abundance of surface water. These
they may lack the technology for wide-scale artificial worlds tend to be covered with plant and animal life,
production methods. Savage wars may have broken out teeming with thick jungles and vast mats of sargasso on
over control of fertile growing regions, and popula- seas that boil with piscids and other alien life analogs.
tions have perhaps been driven away from the arable These worlds can be quite prosperous for humans if the
land into the cold zones and a lingering death. native life is edible, but inhabitants are often forced to
Some worlds retain installations from before the deal with large predators and a vigorously ingenious
Silence deep within the frozen wastes, ancient bases native ecology of disease.
and laboratories that were planted in an age when Variable temperature worlds tend to show a greater
good launch sites and orbital windows meant more distribution of climates than other worlds, either rang-
than trifles of temperature. These lost sites might be ing from cold to temperate levels or temperate to hot
remembered in legend and story, and some native lead- levels. This may be a climate that changes world-wide
ers might still be in possession of the automatic defense when a long, slow orbit brings the planet into prox-
bypass codes handed down by their ancestors. imity with a stellar primary, or it might be a world
that has substantially different climatic zones spread
Temperature 163

across its surface. The north pole of one world might


be a sun-blasted desert that moderates to a cool, wet
equator, or an icy world might be warmed here and
there by complex channels of geothermally-heated
subsurface rivers. Variable temperature worlds tend
to have savage weather. The mixing of hot and cold
air can send ferocious cyclones and raging hurricanes
across the surface of the world, some large enough to
consume most of a hemisphere.
Burning worlds are too hot for a human to survive
without equipment similar to a vacc suit in effective-
ness. Rivulets of molten lead or copper might bleed
from open veins on the hillsides, and many of the same
perils that face an explorer on a frozen world have hot-
ter equivalents on a burning one. Ash drifts, pools of
molten metal, and superheated liquid vents can bring
quick death to an unwary explorer, and the miners who
inhabit such worlds must be forever vigilant against the
perils of their burning home.

Climate and Adventure


Any planet with Burning or Frozen conditions is go-
ing to need some kind of sealed habitat for humanity.
Worlds of Cold or Warm temperatures are at least hab-
itable outside of their most extreme zones, though icy
planets might not have much arable land on the outside.
As a consequence, planets with Frozen or Burning
temperatures tend to have the climate as a backdrop
rather than something the PCs regularly need to deal
with. If theyve landed on such a worlds spaceport, its
probably sealed in some subterranean hangar-cavern
or domed over by massive civil engineering. The ice
or flame might be a constant concern of the locals, but
the PCs are