Seems like we are on a sci-fi roll here in the blog in 2013! So keeping with the theme, I’ve decided to share with Stargazer’s World readers a sci-fi hack I’ve been working on for the last couple of weeks.
Ever since I read the BareBones Fantasy rules (which Michael reviewed here, and posted about here), I’ve been itching to use the rules for a sci-fi game. It’s no surprise, the creators of the game DwD Studios are longtime supporters of my favorite old school sci-fi game Star Frontiers, about which I have posted here. They are in fact working on the FrontierSpace game, and some of the work done for that game apparently was carried over to BareBones Fantasy.
So I got about trying to modify the rules for a sci-fi game. This is NOT an attempt at a super detailed science fiction game, but more of a general rule set for the genre. It will require some simplification and assumption of genre tropes. I tried to keep the spirit of the BareBones Fantasy rules and REALLY tried to keep it simple. I don’t know if I’m going in the right direction, so that’s why I’m writing this post. I would love to get some feedback on the rules so far, criticism, see what you think work or doesn’t work.
Mind you this is a work in progress. Not all areas are complete, and I intend to revisit, but I encourage you to pick it apart and leave your feedback in the comments. Page references are to the BareBones Fantasy rule-book and notes in italics are design decisions I am unsure about. Thanks to Michael, aka Stargazer, for his input as I was conceptualizing this! OK let’s get to what you are here for…
Remains the same as in pages 5 to 7, except for the changes regarding new skills and changing coins or gold pieces to credits. I’ll probably keep the Moral Code rules, if slightly tweaked.
Adapt existing races or create new ones, I haven’t gotten around to this yet… The first ones I plan to convert are the Star Frontiers races since this little hack will more than likely allow me to run a Google+ Hangout Star Frontiers game!
This is the part of the rules I have altered the most. I have simply renames some skills, shifted around what some could do, and created brand new ones. I think this is the core of the system and the one I want to double check. What do you think of the more extensive use for different abilities for different applications of the skills? Are the new abilities too complex?
This skill represents training in the art and abilities of an investigator, spy or someone navigating the shadier underworld of galactic society.
Score: half DEX +10 per agent level. See Deception, Gather Information and Research for alternate uses.
- Deception – lie convincingly, forge documents, disguise, impersonate, etc. All social interactions (lie, impersonate, etc.) have a Score of half WIL +10 per agent level. Forging documents and disguises have a score of LOG +10 per agent level.
- Gather Information – the ability to collect information and date in social situations, be thy official channels or through shadier acquaintances. Use WIL +10 per agent level
- Research – basic research and investigation of public electronic records, even hard copy documentation when available. Use LOG +10 per agent level.
- Security Systems – identify or disarm traps, pick mechanical and electronic locks and disable electronic security systems, perform small mechanical repairs, etc. Requires tools.
- Sleight of Hand – pick pockets, palm objects, etc.
- Stealth – remain unseen and unheard. Gain +5 per agent level to hit and damage if attacking from stealth.
Commander (alternate title Diplomat, what do you think?)
Experience and training in the role of leader, both in and out of combat.
Score: half WIL +10 per commander level
- Battle Commander – before initiative is rolled make a skill check, if successful choose one below to be in effect until turn ends. Doesn’t count as an action.
- Assault – find weaknesses in enemy defenses such as a missing scale exposing soft flesh, unarmored area on an opponent, troop deployments that lack shields, fragile bricks in a castle wall, etc.
- Inspire – grant +5 to hit and damage per commander level to adjacent allies.
- Tactics – you and your allies gain +1 initiative die.
- Diplomat – receive +5 per commander level to check for any of the following: knowledge of cultural etiquette, social nuances, influence others with social grace and tact, foster goodwill, encourage negotiating in good faith, interact with aristocracy, persuading others, etc. (Should this be here?)
- Guardian – if an adjacent ally is hit, choose to intercept the blow taking the damage. No skill check required.
- Leader – attract followers for a specific mission. At commander level 3 attract 1D/2 followers, at commander level 4 attract 1D, at commander level 5 attract 2D, and at commander level 6 attract entire armies.
- Master Tactician – on your turn choose one effect, it lasts until the turn ends, this counts as an action.
- Courageous Word – allies gain +20 to a LOG or WIL resistance check against psionics, fear, etc.
- Rallying Cry – you and allies that choose to, gain +10 to hit and damage if they give up -20 to all resistance checks.
- Tactical Strike – When you outnumber a foe 2:1 in melee; you or your ally makes two attacks against foe and chooses which to keep, counts as a single action. In addition to taking damage the foe is knocked prone.
This skill determines the level of training on the piloting of vehicles of all sizes and the control, and repair, of all related systems.
Score: half LOG +10 per pilot level.
- Astrogation – plot ship navigation inside a solar system as well as safe hyperspace routes.
- Hotshot– You can substitute your DEX for LOG when for piloting rolls when using size 1 and Size 2 vehicles as per the vehicle combat rules.
- Naval training – each scientist level choose a specialization path and gain +10 to skill checks involving that path; these paths are piloting/helm, communications, weapon systems, tactician, ship systems, or other paths allowed by the GM. This bonus can be chosen more than once for the same specialization.
- Piloting – from land and sea vehicles, to atmospheric vehicles, space fighters, space ships and capital ships
- Ship tactician – for every even level you can reduce one advantage required for winning the chase, as per the vehicle combat rules. So at level 6 you only need 2 advantages to win a chase. You can also substitute your pilot level for the commander level in the vehicle combat rules.
This skill represents the innate ability to use psionic abilities and training on the use of these abilities.
Score: half WIL +10 per psionic level.
- Psionic Abilities – allows you to perform any of the following: emphatically sense beings emotional state and project simple images into the mind of willing subjects nearby; move small objects weighting no more than a few pounds; understand the language of willing sentient beings via telepathy; other simple/minor psionic tasks the GM allows. No skill check required.
- Psionic Disciplines – know a number of disciplines equal to psionic level. If psionic is your primary skill learn two disciplines each level instead.
- Psionic Senses – detect psionics and the use of psionics abilities nearby. Resisted by WIL.
This skill represents a general knowledge on various scientific fields and disciplines and specific knowledge in some areas, including medical training.
Score: half LOG +10 per scientist level.
- Applied Sciences – engineering, medicine, exo-medicine
- Formal Sciences – mathematics, logic, statistics, computer sciences
- Social Sciences – anthropology, archaeology, criminology, law, political sciences, psychology
- Life Sciences – biology, zoology, botany, exo-biology
- Physical Sciences – physics, chemistry, astronomy, earth sciences
- Renowned Scholar – each scientist level choose a specialization path and gain +10 to skill checks involving that path; can be any of the sciences, such as biology, physics, medicine, or a field such as researcher, historian, administration, or other paths allowed by the GM. This bonus can be chosen more than once for the same specialization.
- Historian – recall some obscure fact about famous places, people, or things. Identify archaeological remains, trace the ancestry of individuals, understand symbolism, etc.
- Know the Truth – once per game session, ask GM a single yes/no question about the setting, story, or its people. GM must answer honestly.
- Medic – if you treat a wounded character after combat add 1BP per scientist level once per day. If you provide long-term care to a resting character (no activity possible) add 1BP per scientist level per day to what the character naturally heals. You can provide long term care to one character per scientist level. Add 1 additional BP each time select medicine as your specialization for the renowned scientist ability.
This skill represents training or experience as an outdoors-man, survivor or colonist.
Score: half LOG +10 per scout level
- Animal Handling – befriend, calm, agitate, or train naturally occurring animals. Includes riding animals and handling beasts of burden.
- Planetary Navigation – know which way is north, determine location on a known map, decipher maps, create maps, etc.
- Survival – craft objects from nature, find shelter, build fires, gather food, identify drinkable water, identify and disarm natural traps and hazards, etc.
- Tracking – detect tracks, learn information from them, trail a target, ignore penalties associated with terrain, etc.
This skill represents training or experience as a mercenary, infantry, space marine, etc.
Score: Note this skill has two scores as follows; melee equals half STR, +10 per warrior level (including unarmed combat). Ranged equals half DEX, +10 per warrior level (includes thrown weapons).
- Melee weapons – batons, swords, clubs, daggers, etc.
- Ranged weapons – aimed projectile weapons such as pistols, rifles, bows, slings, etc.
- Thrown weapons – grenades, hurled knives, spears, etc.
- Unarmed combat – use your body as a weapon.
Special training in technology related fields beyond the common everyday use of technology of a space age society.
Score: half LOG +10 per tech level.
- Electronics – a practical knowledge of electronics including the systems for high-tech weaponry and armor systems. A tech may try to disable electronics with a tech roll if he or she has access to the device. At level 2 the Tech can attempt to jam one specific personal technological item as the Dispel psionic discipline one per day, and one additional time per day for each additional level. Dispel can be used against robots at level 5 and Size 1 vehicles at level 6.
- Experimental Tech – the tech can prepare technological devices, they may be defined as nano-boosters, cybernetic devices or memory tapes or however you wish to describe it using the Alchemy, Enchantment and Runecraft abilities from the enchanter skill. For example Nano-boosters could like potions, cybernetic devices or memory tapes like magic items, runes can be specific cybernetic abilities, discuss the possibilities with your GM according to the setting. The psionic disciplines that can be emulated with the equivalent of Runecraft are: Aid, Cleanse, Entangle, Heal, Offensive Strike, Protection and Transport. Some Magic Items listed in the book have been modified to become high tech items and may be created by a Tech. See the equipment list.
- Hacking – you have the skill to use computers beyond the basic usage. You can hack into systems, retrieve encrypted data and play havoc in the net.
- Robots and Mechanics – you can modify and repair robots and mechanical devices of all sorts.
Pending work on skills:
- How to handle languages?
- Should I used titles for skill levels? What names to use?
Spells are renames Psionic Disciplines. These disciplines are nto affected by lead, but the system may have psionic dampers or fields. All references to spellcaster is replaced with psionic, but otherwise discipline work identically as the spells with the following exceptions:
Cleanse – rename as Bio-metric Repair, remove the last sentence regarding permanent cleansing of evil, magic or undead.
Commune – (From Decahedron Magazine #1) no communication with thee dead is possible.
Control Weather – eliminate
Repel – this discipline affects any enemies, not specific creatures, and represents a telekinetic push. Enemies cannot be destroyed, instead they are incapacitated if they fail a WIL resistance roll.
Summon – eliminate
Transform – eliminate
Transport – there is no teleportation, at level 5 the character gains a burst of speed that allows him or her to move anywhere in combat or its periphery.
I obviously need more psionic disciplines for characters with higher level psionic skill.
I need to work on sci-fi equipment, including power armor… Also there is the need to rework some magic items as high tech equipment. For example
NEW RULES – Vehicle Combat
Rough draft! Consider yourself forewarned!
Vehicles are categorized in a three step scale:
Size 0 – characters
Size 1 (Vehicles) – ground transport, sea vessels, small atmospheric vehicles, mechs
Size 2 (Starships) – large atmospheric vehicles, space fighters, scout ships, escorts
Size 3 (Capital Ships) – the largest ships in a space armada
Differences between one size category are multiplied or divided up or down by 10 for numeric values or results. Two category differences are multiplied or divided by 100. Vehicles more than two categories different cannot effect each other.
Perhaps include some penalties on bonuses bases on size; perhaps make a little table…
Vehicles are defined by the following statistics:
- Movement (fixed by vehicle type)
- Initiative (A number that can be modified by a commanding officer)
- Body Points (fixed by vehicle type)
- DR (fixed by vehicle type)
- Maneuvering (+ or – % to Piloting, used for resistance checks)
- Weapons Rating (damage dice, using piloting, to damage other ships, generic, not specific per weapon)
- Minimum Crew (fixed)
- Repairs are done using pilot skill, ship systems
Naval positions in a bridge (depending on the ship) to interact with the pilot skill – Pilot/Helm (includes maneuvering and resistance checks), Communications, Weapon Systems (attack and damaged), Engineering (repairs), Captain (bonus to initiative).
Chases – Initiate a chase from combat is a contested maneuvering roll. One is the pursuer the other the target and chases are a series of contested actions. Each side that wins a contested check gains an advantage. Critical success grants two advantages, critical failures eliminate an advantage. Whoever gets five advantages first succeeds. The pursuer catches its prey, the target escapes.
OK this is what I got so far. I’ll revisit this in a future post, hopefully integrating your feedback. Thanks for reading!
Races: I would try to include a brief and lightweight “create your own”. I think that will be much more useful than whatever examples you put in.
And, I’m not sure if this fits Star Frontiers, but it certainly fits Space Opera as a genre (and I never got into Star Frontiers, back in the day) … but I’d want to see how you handle Robots/Droids, Mutants, and Cybernetics. I don’t want to see a full on heavy Cybernetics section (like you’d get in a cyberpunk genre game), just a basic nod to it.
You’ve eliminated 3 spells, and one bullet-list item from the Spellcaster (you’ve got 3 for the Psionic, in BBF it has 4) … so you should add something to the Psionic class.
The other thing I’d want to see is something that helps bridge BBF and whatever this is (BareBones Space Opera?). So, if you want to do Elves in Space, or something like that, you can.
Last, I think I’d also prefer more sizes:
Vehicles (cars, trucks, planes)
Buildings (incl. surface ships)
Small Starships (small transports — serenity and the millennium falcon)
Large Starships (non-capital warships, large transports, etc. — star destroyers)
Starbases and Asteroids
Gas Giant Planets
Thanks for the feedback! Will take that into account…
I also think it would be cool if someone did variations of “BareBones RPG” for Post-Apocalypse, Cyberpunk, Supers, and Pulp Adventure. Maybe Espionage, as well. Though, admittedly, my time and creativity aren’t going in that direction right now, so I’m not the right candidate for it.
I’m really glad you’re doing this, as DWD’s Frontier Space seems to be on the back burner for now. Just wanted to chime in and say I’m interested, I like the direction you’re taking this, and I’m looking forward to seeing more! I would like to see the wording of the Commander’s abilities expanded to include command of a large starship (as the Pilot seems to be rightly focused on smaller spacecraft and dogfighting).