The Publisher: Sine Nomine Publishing
Degree of Familiarity: None. This is my second time reading it over.
Books Required: Just the core PDF
Stars Without Number is an application of old-school rules to science fiction. Let's be fair: it's a mishmash of early D&D, but in space. Which automatically makes me like it more, even if it does just replace magic with psi, and much overland travel with space travel. It puts the old-school penchant for "sandbox" gaming to good use to do a SF sandbox, and acts as a soft-SF complement to the relatively hard-SF of Diaspora. As soft-SF, it's stuck in the mid-late 80s as far as tech ideas go—no universal constructors, superhuman AI, or transhuman aspects. I'm seriously tempted to add them in to make the kind of batshit gonzo game that I wanted Eclipse Phase to be. Maybe later.
It's 3200. The centuries-long Silence has receded, and many worlds have reclaimed spacecraft and advanced technology. Some worlds remain lost, though intrepid adventurers bring some back to the fold as time creeps forwards. It's a big universe, ripe for the picking, and characters in SWN all should have a reason to act.
Unfortunately, as it's an old school game, that means random chargen. 3d6, six times, in order. Rolls above 13 can be traded off to boost those below 8, but it's still painful to not have any idea who your character is before the dice hit the mat, or the fluctuations of entropy bring the universe ever so slightly closer to thermodynamic collapse. The attributes are Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma.
Random.org gives me: 11, 12, 3, 12, 11, 9. Since I don't have any scores above 13, I can't spend any points to increase Wisdom above 3. Prone to very bad choices, indulgent behaviour, and practically unable to perceive things. Great. All the others are in the 8-13 range of "completely average". An attribute of 3 gives -2 to all related rolls. Fuck.
Oh, wait. At the GM's discretion, a character whose total attribute modifiers total less than zero can be discarded and rerolled. I'm the GM, and I hate starting characters who suck without the player deciding to make a character who sucks, so of course I'm using this option. Though it is yet another get-out clause. Just give 70 points to spread between the 6 or something. Fuck's sakes.
I'll spare you the twelve re-rolls it took to get a character who doesn't have a negative bastard ability modifier total, with my normal note that random chargen and the proponents of said can go die in a fire of dicks, and note that I finally rolled 13 9 18 10 15 9. So the opposite to my earlier Wisdom, at least.
Choose a class
While it'd be funny to note how someone with below-average intelligence and charisma got a start as an expert, I'm going to play to type and make a Psychic. As a special ability, that means he can use psychic powers. No shit, sherlock.
Pick a Background Package
Falling back on Stew's list of Stock Characters, our protagonist here is a con artist, who hides his psychic gifts behind layers of misdirection. He made a small fortune on a casino station, before security noticed his manipulation and tried to kick him out of an airlock. He survived, but with only a set of marked cards and a two-headed coin.
That gives me Culture/Criminal, Culture/Homeworld, Persuade, and Stealth as Skills. They all start at 0, which is better than not having the Skill.
Pick a Training Package
Training packages give characters a blob of skills specifically related to their Class, rather than the more generic background packages. Criminal Mind stares out at me: Culture/Criminal, Persuade, Security, and Stealth. Woo!
The three overlapping Skills jump up to +1.
Pick a Homeworld
This one's just for flavour. Eritheros is a dull planet stuck at the unfashionable end of the Kepler Verge. It's not a lost world, it's not primitive, or a war zone, or anything particularly bad. It's just really fucking boring. Sal Destani grew up dreaming of escape. He had a better chance than most due to his psychic abilities. Eritheros has it's own Academy, and most psychics there spend time in dull research. After graduating, Sal snuck aboard a tramp freighter, able to be whoever he wanted to be—as long as he didn't have to be the same person twice.
Psychics have d4 hit points, plus CON mod. 4 in total.
English, or universe-appropriate equivalent.
800 credits to spend on equipment of Tech 4 or lower. Right. Let's see. Without any DEX modifier, I need armour. I drop 600 credits on an armoured under suit, worn beneath fashionably anonymous clothing. I don't get a bonus that I can see for having two weapons, but I go for a pair of semi-auto pistols anyway, because they're easy to hide and guns akimbo makes Sal look more dangerous than he actually is, especially since he doesn't have any of those Combat skills. Hell, the only one available as a class skill is Combat/Psitech and that starts at 3,500 credits for a telekinetic slings. Ew. That's an additional 150 credits. With the remaining 250, I spring for a survival kit and some low-light goggles. On the one hand, that's 10 more than I should be allowed, on the other, I appeal to the gøds of whogivesafuck, who are merciful. It's notable that Sal's not set up for exploring ruins or contacting new worlds, so he'd be tagging along with others who are more prepared. Since he's mostly out to avoid boredom and to make a shitload of cash, that's understandable.
I get one point in a primary discipline, that always goes up when levelling, and one in a secondary discipline, with a free level going to any one at each level. I spring for Precognition as the primary, with a secondary of Teleportation. Finally, I note four power points.
STR 13 INT 9 WIS 18 (+2) DEX 10 CON 15 (+1) CHA 9
Skills: Culture/Criminal 1, Culture/Homeworld 0, Persuade 1, Security 0, Stealth 1
Armoured Undersuit (AC 7)
2x semi-automatic pistols
Survival kit, low-light goggles
Precognition 1, Teleportation 1, 3 PP
Attack 0, Physical Save 13, Mental Save 12, Evasion Save 15, Tech Save 16, Luck Save 14
Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.