Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Tyrant's Crew (A Stars Without Number Campaign Report)

Last night Barbarossa got to experience his first time GMing, and it was my first experience with the OSR space opera Stars Without Number. If you're not familiar, SWN is basically what happens when Moldvay Basic gets drunk at a party and starts making sexy grog-eyes at an edition of Traveler whose has had too many shots to know better. Nine months later, Stars Without Number is born.


To Barb's credit, he was informed that he would be GMing all of four hours before the actual session and he did spectacularly well with it. He's easily the most well-read sci-fi nerd in our group, and you could tell even just from the way he handled it that he loved the material he was working with. Superb.

Part 1: Dramatis Personae


We went for a very predictable "Baby's first space opera" campaign. We are to the be the crew of a tramp freighter smuggling, shipping, and doing odd jobs just to stay afloat in this harsh galaxy. Oh. We're playing Firefly? We're playing Firefly. Sweet.

Ironically, Barb was never a fan of firefly ("Their system makes no fucking sense. That's not how asteroids work"). I know one of the other players refuses to watch it because it was never finished ("I don't watch unfinished shows") and if the third watched it, he didn't seem to get anything out of it.

The starting crew was three players, including myself. Unsurprisingly, I was nominated to be the captain before we even started. The ship was also assumed to have been mine off the bat as well, so I rolled with it. In no particular order, our characters of note:

George Wang: a bright young Caucasian man adopted by an ethnically and culturally Chinese family from a settlement whose name I have since forgotten (uh, sorry, Boose). He should have had a promising life and career ahead of him, except he dropped out of college to pursue a life of petty crime—apparently just because it seemed more interesting. He's a decent pilot, though, so he's been useful aboard ship.

Deke Sun: an ex-mob doc who is now on the run after an attempt on the boss's life found his former employer's daughter instead. The wound was mortal, and there was nothing to be done. She died on the table. Rather than face the possibility that it was a life of crime that cost his daughter her life, the mob boss has externalized the blame and placed it solely on Deke's shoulders for killing her.

Then there's me.

Donnal Moraine: basically the stereotype of the post-war confederate. Hails from a backwoods planet that was recently brought under compliance in a brutal brush war with the Hegemony of Man. By group consensus (and for pure hilarity) this planet was named Dixie. The fighting was bitter on both sides. While Hegemony forces could have glassed the entire system from orbit if they chose, they wanted to dominate the system, not eradicate it. Native militia put up a strong resistance with a guerilla campaign, but eventually the toll on both the population and infrastructure was too great. A surrender was negotiated and a blanket pardon granted. Donnal was a kind of airborn infantry and lost everything during the war. He was one of a large number of ex-militia who still feel a seething resentment for the Hegemony, and a betrayal at the hands of the cowards in charge who surrendered. He now wanders the stars with his ship as the only home he knows.

As though this archetype wasn't quite strong enough yet, when I purchased his gear he wound up getting: Leather Jack, Dagger, Revolver, Rifle. This quickly got recorded on the character sheet as Leather Duster, Dixie Toothpick, Big Iron, 'Ol' Bess' Lever-Action Repeater.

I'll play Firefly by myself if I have to.

The Tyrant's Fear: Our ship is a horrific rust bucket that my character came by in a way that wasn't quite established yet, though I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't acquired in a game of cards with a dark-skinned gentleman with an Armenian name. It's a real piece of work. In Boose's words "Hot Garbage." They don't know what they're talking about. She's cozy. So what if some of the wires are fraying... Some of those panels don't quite shut anymore... Or we don't have enough power to run our offensive lasers and point defense gun at the same time? Whatever. It's fine. She's home.

UPDATE: The campaign has now been added to the Actual Play Reports widget on the side. You can check out the index here.

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