Battlestars Without Number

I recently backed the revised edition of Stars Without Number on Kickstarter, which runs until the 30th of this month.*  As a backer, I got access to the free beta rules, which, came with the message “You are welcome to share this link or this beta PDF freely with others, or post it up where it’s appropriate and polite.”.  I’m going to go ahead and assume I can arbitrate what is “appropriate and polite” on my own blog, but I will remove that link if requested to do so.  I also make no guarantees how long that link will be good after the campaign ends.

*I feel a bit weird linking to an active Kickstarter, so I’ll make a few things clear before I move on.  I am not affiliated with this Kickstarter in any way beyond being a backer (and I will tell you if I ever am).  I can not promise that the project creator will deliver all, some, or any of the promised rewards.  I have personally backed plenty of projects on Kickstarter and while I have been mostly happy with the results, I have also had projects deliver rewards that were below the quality promised or implied, projects that have had to cancel and issue a refund/partial refund, and projects that have run off with my money never to be heard from again.  Anything you donate to any crowdfunding campaign should be an amount you can afford to never see any return out of.  This warning is not directed at any project or project creator in particular, but rather something you should keep in mind before you back ANY project.

Anyway, I’ve been reading the beta pdf, and like any good RPG book, it is making me think about the types of games I would like to run in it.  The things that really caught my eye for a game was some of the ship upgrades, and part of the history section where they talked about some of psitech.  I read the various upgrades that allowed a ship to be self-sufficient (although good luck fitting them all on one ship), and I immediately pictured a Star Trek sort of situation.  In particular, I was thinking of Voyager, a long and dangerous journey with no guarantees of ever making it to their destination.  When reading about some of the ancient lost technology, I found the idea of psychic powered jump gates pretty cool as well.

Those two concepts mixed together in my brain, along with the ever classic far future sci-fi trope of searching for lost earth.  And eventually I settled on this concept, an old rim world still has a jumpgate.  It was damaged during the Scream and all the psychics who knew how to work it died, but it is mostly intact.  What little Pre-silence records survive indicate that this gate very well could have been a direct line to earth!  Their psychics think they could actually get this old gate working again, but they need people on the other side to do so.

The PCs are dispatched to find the other end of this gate (and, ideally, Earth), only given an approximate meta-space heading, carrying with them a team of psychics in cold-sleep who can open the gate from the other side.  They also have a secondary objective of gathering as much data as they can on the worlds they encounter along the way (scientific, biological, technological, astrological, etc).

The PCs will be the leaders of this expedition, sent out by agents of their own local system government.  They’d take on the roles of the Captain, Bridge crew and department heads of the ship (or the Admiral and several captains if they have multipule ships). Tracking down the exact coordinates of the other end, dealing with potentially hostile locals, and determining the proper course, will be up to them. Almost no expense was spared on this mission.  As such, the PCs can start with whatever ship they want (or even a handful of ships), that they think they will need for this mission, with the following conditions:

  • Tech Level 4, no or limited Pretech components, an exception is the drive rating
  • A Drive rating of at least 4.
  • Limit to 1 Capital class ship
  • They need a set of Cold Sleep Pods/Exodus Bays to contain at least 100 psychics they are supposed to deliver.  If they lose these, their mission is a failure and they are only getting home (if they do at all) the long way.  Extra slots in those systems can be used for replacement crew.  Extra systems could carry more psychics.
  • They need enough Colony Cores to take care of the entire crew, plus everyone in cold sleep (people probably WILL die along the way, but they aren’t allowed to assume that).
  • While they don’t have to pay for the ship, they DO have to keep it fueled, maintain it, and keep the crew fed and breathing.  They don’t have to pay the crew per se, but they do have to manage morale, and shore leave with some stipends would certainly help with that.

Depending on the ship(s) the players come up with, they may need to work or barter for any supplies, resources or facilities.  Even a self-sustaining ship/fleet will still need to make contact with the locals to get local star maps and Rutters, and damage in battle or just a bad spike drill can put such a fleet in just as bad (or worse) need as if they never had those upgrades at all.  Depending on the players, and how seriously they take their secondary objective, it might end up being a race to complete the mission with as little delays as possible, or a more exploratory game involving finding interesting stuff scattered throughout unknown space.

Either way, it would require the types of players who actually enjoy figuring out the logistics of the situation, as well an agreement of how the PC/PC hierarchy structure works if one of them is in command, but it seems like it would be a lot of fun!  I’ll almost certainly have to back burner this idea for the foreseeable future, as I am still working on the Gulf, but I might be able to dig it out at somepoint (hopefully after the full rules come out).

A bit of an aside, I have never actually seen Battlestar Galactica, been meaning to, just haven’t got to it. I just know the general concept of this game is close to the premise of the show, and it made a good pun for the title.