Stars Without Number 001 – Welcome to Hades Gamma Sector
Started running a Stars Without Number game here in town. We’ll see how long it lasts. The last space game I ran used FATE as its core system and for all the good stuff in that system, I never could get the players scared for their characters’ lives. I’ve run SWN a few times before*, and this time around I’m trying to keep my penchant for killing everyone in deep freeze. So far it’s been fun. One thing I’ve done is not create much beforehand. The first session was rolling up characters and worlds and running with the randomness to build the setting. (This hands-off approach was aided by the fact that I had food poisoning at the time, so what might have been the first adventure just turned into 45 minutes of dice rolling before cabbing home in a cold sweat.)
While SWN would be a great system to run a Fading Suns Baroque SF style game, right now I’m defaulting to Futurama and Firefly, which everyone seems happy with. The player characters started in prison. They escaped on board a smuggler ship operated by a murderous nutcase. They picked up a passenger searching for her family fortune. In transit to the next starport they managed to kill the nutcase and takeover the ship. They landed and got a crash course in interplanetary economics and bill paying. Now they’ve lined up a new job with a high risk to high profit ratio, and that will be next week.
Things I like about running more modern-era games: it’s so much easier to find better pictures to show players. There’s just a wealth of stuff to pull from. What does the mutinous nutcase smuggler captain look like? Here you go. Sid Haig from Galaxy of Terror.
The gangster who owns the party’s ship is Jim Jarmusch, the grizzled NPC with the map to a lost ship supposedly containing a fortune is Harry Dean Stanton from Alien, the security chief at the starport is Pacific Rim’s Rinko Kikuchi, etc.
Or maybe I just dig Syd mead over Frank Frazetta, and I’m able to admit that now.
Another thing I want from games is for combat to be a deadly, panicked experience, and it’s easier to achieve that in games with shotguns. Having a six-shot revolver makes every missed attack stressful. I also stole a bit from 5e and made a successful tactics roll allow for the possibility of advantage on an attack roll because I had no idea what else to do with the tactics skill.
We still haven’t gone too deeply into space combat and psionics, despite one character being a psychic, but it’s been fun to witness this mass of random stuff emerge into a nascent story. What started as, “I’m a pilot *rolls* named Phil from *rolls* Upton which is a *rolls* space station where *rolls* men are second-class citizens” is now fueling the story, and it’s neat how the characters are starting to inhabit the random names they rolled up in odd ways. Esteban Zhukov, former commando, is now just Zhukov. Phillip Maeda, cocky starship pilot, got reduced to Phil. And Rana Bai, psychic historian, remains Rana Bai and don’t call her anything else. I’ve played games where people show up to the table with four typed single-spaced pages of backstory, and this is just so much more enjoyable.
All of which is to say, you can expect some game posts in the future. Play updates, background stuff, more pictures from forgotten movies, etc.
* The longest running table game we’ve had was a year long Beyond the Wall game. Unfortunately, the nature of migrant worker (AKA expat) life is high turnover rate. People come and go. Good game groups dry up, new groups have to form, and finding decent folks to game with takes time. It’s all topsy-turvy and sometimes you end up with situations where there are gamers to game with but they don’t meet your requirements**. This actually was what did in the 5e game and the FATE game.
** My requirements: would I want to hang out with the person for a nongame activity? If yes, then they meet my requirements.