Monday 26 June 2023

Strange Stars SF RPG Set-up

Having a go at a SF horror rpg using stuff from my Elfmaids & Octopi Space book which I partly recapped here recently with some scenario fragments. 

I will partly cover my preferred SF RPGs I cand Bend to SF Horror in my style. I freely admit I only have run 3 games since 1983 (ok a few star frontiers and gammaworld and top secret/SI too but mostly during 80s). TSR Marvel, Retro D&D and BRP (Cthulhu/Ringworld). There are games that I have and read and steal from which will be included here. Mothership isn't one of them. I think it is pretty, simple and probably good for short games but I find it pricey and lacking some grit I like and. Mostly mechanic novelties don't really excite me at all. I like BRP because its easier to scare ppl with violence and it is never 100% safe and has good detail for minor to lethal injuries and body part loss (cyborg or biological replacements possible). Space archaeology would be one of my favourite things and I hate heists and every employer betrays you tropes.

Character Gen

                        Terra       Luna       Venus       Mars        Belt
d12 random     1-6          7             8              9              10-12                           
Strength           2d6+6    2d6+4      2d6+6      2d6+6      2d6+4 
Dexterity           2d6+6    2d4+12    2d6+6      2d6+6      2d6+9
Intelligence       2d6+6    2d6+6      2d6+6      2d6+6      2d6+6  
Constitution      2d6+6    2d6+6      
2d6+6      2d6+6      2d6+6       
Appearance      2d6+6    2d6+6      2d6+9      2d6+6      2d6+6  
Power               2d6+6    2d6+6      2d6+6      2d6+6      2d6+6
Size                  2d6+6    2d6+4      
2d6+6      2d6+6      2d6+4      
Education         2d6+9    2d6+9      2d6+6      2d6+9      2d6+6  

These might end up with their own character sheets and skill bases

Terra is dominated by AI after an apocalyptic war and everyone is working on great space habitats, reclaiming Earth and preparing for 1 km-long colony ships for one-way trips to the stars. Terran 
people live in ultra-dense mile-high structures and most of the planet is managed wilderness. Terrans tend to go along with their ai model advisors who most of the time know best. All kinds of medical health problems have been eliminated by genetics. Most people live in confined utopias and have entertainment or busywork to occupy them provided by machines. Many works on a team surveilling a wild animal or small ecosystem or operating orbital construction drones or studying or making culture.

Mars is where the Sol system security forces are based and are involved in controlling assets in the middle and outer system and squashing rebellions, piracy, smuggling and other crime. Martians are disciplined and serious and their AI are always seeking threats. Everyone on Mars has a job and nobody gets to be idle.

Luna settlers or Selenites and their AI are idealistic, cooperative and peace-seeking. Most are involved in mining and construction and building orbital habitats and new asteroid colonies. Luna has the most advanced medical facilities and schools.

Venusians live in their cloud cities and orbitals and refinery complexes in relatively automated luxury. They are notoriously lazy, indolent and pleasure-seeking. Their automatons do most work and deal with the troubles of outsiders. 

Belters colonised the middle and outer system and are more independent and prefer dumber machines that are less friendly. 
 Belters are more loose and multidisciplinary due to small crew ships and isolation. They are more chaotic and have more freedom. They are less surveilled and catalogued by inner system AI. All kinds of malcontents and separatists have settled on asteroids and worked for supplies that need from the inner worlds. New moon colonies might mean independence. Many belters work on the colony ships and some are included in crews. Many hope that they can build their own colony ships or even move whole asteroid colonies to form independent allied regions.

Currently, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn have workers from everywhere but may end up with their own specialists one day. These will be where most adventurers live.

No aliens or evidence of them has been discovered. Government and AI think labs are not so sure and looking for exotic objects and building huge deep-space observation arrays. There were humanoid animal hybrids and androids after the apocalypse but they are rare now and in isolated places forgotten by most people. Some factions of habitats have modified themselves to be more distinctive with new colours of human skin never seen in nature. Gene mods to survive extremes of gravity have been common off Terra for generations. Clones and androids have been used by militant separatists in habitats and have been destroyed. People are wary of this technology in the hands of extremists. AI are commonplace as are functional dumb drones, humanoid and functional form robots and biomechanical androids all are common. Androids are mostly frowned on as subversive and for deception. Some machines have holographic interface personas to be more communicative or appealing.

Starting Space Service Careers Training EDUx20 points
or use specific example careers coming up

1 Millitary - millitary ship crew including marines and space fleet 
2 Security - law and intelligence forces focused on non-military threats to public
3 Technical - repairs, construction, maintenance and everyday technology operations 
4 Engineering - specialist technologist and applied sciences development
5 Medicine - health and welfare systems and support services
Exploration - navigators and scouts who go in first in exploration teams 
7 Biological - life support, food production, cloning, terraforming sciences
 Commerce - merchant ship crews and logistics, distribution of goods 
9 Information - data management specialists, planning, AI relations
Media - pop celebrities, entertainers, reporters, pundits  
Academic - scholars specialising in off-world research & education
12 Government - civil administration & management

There is definitely no 13th-service group
it's just a rumour spread by paranoid malcontent cults

These careers are also built into clone banks and are castes of the AI-controlled society for Terrans and the colony generation ships in construction. Androids and clones may be produced as adults with these career groups.

Starting Interests INTx5 points
Additional skills of your choice to give you some personality or some other skill you have chosen to learn that might not be on your personal record. Perhaps athletics or some branch of knowledge like some criminal skills. Interpersonal skills always make life easier.

Starting Gear
Everyone will have a basic Smartsuit gained during their career with service patches possibly removed and one spare outfit and personal grooming bag. The smart suit will have standard mods for your career. Also, choose one extra item from the GM and can negotiate this in secret away from other players. 

Ongoing Themes
Humans are on the cusp of diversifying as colony ships will be separate branches of humanity for possibly centuries. At this office, there is no evidence of alien life above the bacterium yet found in space. Many are still looking and claim to have found unusual objects and evidence of other life in the solar system in secret. Some claim that governments operate secret zones to contain alien artefacts. Mostly crazed old space hobos talk about this stuff when high in spaceports. No sensible person who wants a good psyche evaluation for promotion would talk about this stuff. Your AI councillor will most likely dissuade you from this line of inquiry.

The Inner system doesn't really use money and people live well but often meaninglessly. Outer systems out of AI control and used trade for basic resources which gives them the illusion of independence and free will. Inners will complain about conditions like unclean boring confined spaces and bad food. Outers will enjoy all these features as proof of their freedom. Martians enjoy minimal rationed luxury and mostly serve the greater enterprise of the Mars colony. Crime is more rampant in the outer system and inter-colony struggles over resources or ideology. Starting your own habitat colony or adopting a prebuilt hab somewhere isn't too hard. Databases are less consistent and coms access time lags are worse. 

The background of huge colony ships should be everywhere. Components structures and materials everywhere are being assembled for this wonder of the age. It is hoped once the first ships make it more will follow and more people dream of leaving Sol. Many of the malcontents of the belt started as outcast communities and many would appreciate a colony ship. Stealing plans, copying parts or hijacking might all be options. The first ship is a few years away but more than 20 are planned and some with capacity to deploy more than one colony. Popular media talks of speculative colony enterprises frequently its the spirit of the age. Aliens are not in people's imaginations.

Background Options
Everyone can choose to draw one secret background option card at the start of play and do this before making their character. 
Your secret may inform your character's choices or interests. Players should keep their secrets and only see the card they have. I may employ a card system to help players as the game will be deadly like my old SF game. 

d12 Option Card (soft option here only)
1 Gene-mod - from a separatist nationalist organisation +3 on one stat 21 max, often has cosmetic features like skin colour or even animal features to be distinct, considered a freak by most people
2 Mind Wipe - from medical or government authority +2d4 Sanity and +2d6 Psychology skill after time in a facility. You probably don't want to know what you knew
3 Cult Survivor - family were connected to a strange cult you escaped before the inner mysteries revealed to you +3d6 Occult skill. The cult has become more secretive and occasionally contacts you
4 Syndicate - criminal cartel gives you delivery jobs and occasionally false ID papers and data, they know everyone you ever loved +3d6 Streetwise skill and a minor illegal implant or smart suit mod for moving data or criminal activity like an electronic lockpick
5 Veteran - you've seen lots of death you automatically make sanity checks from human death, gore and massacres from normal explainable causes like violence or accidents
6 Amphibian - gene modded for high G, pressure and to breathe the liquid atmosphere of high G acceleration patrol and emergency vessels. You are even slightly more vacuum-resistant and you have 1AP from your tough skin and 10AP vs cold
7 Clone Corp - your not special and if killed your replacement can step in with different interest skills and otherwise the same as all your line. Most people prefer to not know
8 Agent - secretly you serve a security organisation as part of an investigation, if needed a backup personality can step in in times of crisis that is temporarily immune to shock
Replicant - android agent of security AI gathering intel but you don't consciously think about it unless you are compromised and your backup personality can kick in to clean up loose ends
10 Seventh Sense - sometimes get strange feelings of some secret danger but nothing has ever come of it so far. Pow as % chance of detecting unnatural threats or life-threatening danger for one magic point per check improves as a skill
11 Witness - you saw something unexplainable outside in space where nothing should live, someone died and you said nothing because nobody would believe you -d4 SAN +2d6% Spot and +2d6 Occult skill. Your a bit more open to wild stories
12 Conspiracy - may be watching you, all you know is they have agents in all sorts of places warning you and making trouble because they know you know. You're not really sure what they are up to or what you're supposed to know +2d6 Listen +2d6 Occult

I would use a much meaner table for a one-off or con game

Players might want to have a mixed team or might all be military-security or criminal or all be outer system inhabitants which makes adventure opportunities easier. It is possible anyone could end up criminal and any criminal might be recruited by force or extortion into black ops. My intention is when a era has had its drama potential used up will have a skip in time (frozen, clones, FTL mishaps). 

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