Stars Without Number Session 1

We started playing Stars Without Number, a D&D meets Traveller retro-style game last Friday night.  It’s free for the PDF version, or you can buy it in softcover or hardcover from the link.  The mechanics are simple old-school D&D with a simple skill package system.  It was dead easy to teach the kids, and my friends, since rolling up a character and choosing a class is the same as what they’re used to from D&D.  That’s pretty much the reason I chose this, instead of trying to teach them Zap!, my own take on SF RPGs.  One thing that would make generating a character quicker would be for me to print off multiple copies of the skills section and equipment… and possibly even make a set of starter equipment “kits” so they don’t have to comb the lists looking for what they might want to buy.  One thing that would be nice would be a comprehensive equipment list, instead of it being divided into a number of tables by type, one table for primitive weapons, one table for energy weapons, one table for exploration gear, etc.

All in all, it went pretty smoothly for what was their first non-D&D game ever. They all seemed to like the Stars Without Number setting, and found it easy to get the hang of.  I don’t think we’re going to be running it in a particularly sand-box style, even though that’s probably SWN’s biggest strength; the players had already told me they’d really prefer to be given discrete missions, so they know what they have to accomplish and there’s a definite goal for the evening’s play.  So I just began the session with them all stuck on a backwater world, trying to scrape enough creds together to book passage out, and get approached as a group by a Xenoarchaeologist who was worried that he wasn’t able to establish contact with the base camp that his daughter and the workers she hired had gone ahead to set up near some of the ancient alien ruins that dotted the planet.

7 thoughts on “Stars Without Number Session 1

  1. Rob Barrett says:

    What characters did the players come up with? I’ve been looking at SWN myself lately and am interested in hearing how it plays.

  2. Joshua says:

    Let’s see, we’ve got an Astrogator’s Mate/Military Psychic, a Peasant/Adventuring Expert, an Urchin/Bounty Hunter Warrior, a Biotech Crew/Scientist Expert, a Soldier/Commando Warrior, and a Gunnery Crew/Military Psychic. I think the packages approach provides a nice, quick way to add skills and background to a class-based system.

  3. Rob Barrett says:

    Neat. Question: am I grokking the XP rules correctly? Looking at p. 132, it appears that you take the reward number listed on the table for the highest level PC’s level, multiply it by the number of PCs, and then distribute that in XP. (You apparently also make sure that at least that much cash shows up in an adventure.) If I read this correctly, then a party with a 2nd level expert, 1st level warrior, and 1st level psychic will receive 2250 XP for an adventure, split up however the GM wants to reward it.

  4. Joshua says:

    I think you’re reading it right; I’m not sure I’d use it. It seems simpler to me to just advance them a level after the requisite number of adventures.

  5. Rob Barrett says:

    Joshua: that’s essentially where I was going to go next. I certainly prefer automatic leveling to bean-counting of XP.

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