Stars without number


Campaign Planning Grids for Plot Components

I have been playing around with ways to make my planning easier, more dynamic, and more focused.  The idea I've hit upon is mainly inspired by Technoir's "Transmissions" and the sheets I had made to track the Enemies, Friends, Complications, Things and Places for each system in my Stars Without Number campaign.Image (cc) Sheam BoI was using a 5x3 grid for SWN - one for each category for each tag I used, including the Trade tags from Suns of Gold, and it worked well.  However it didn't feel like there was much continuity in terms of the plot, and I was keeping notes elsewhere on what was happening on and off screen. Given that the system is designed for sandbox games that's fine, but in retrospect I think I overplanned here for my needs and should only really have had one of each category for background, side plots, and local colour - but that's for another article...Somehow I stumbled upon Technoir - I do love cyberpunk - and while I wasn't a massive fan of the narrative system I was impressed by th

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(WIP) Playbooks for Stars Without Number

Image (cc) BiPiCado on DeviantArtMidway through my recent SWN campaign I started reading some "Powered By The Apocalypse" games and I really liked the ideas of a) tying the story to the characters and b) character playbooks to help flesh them out.  It reminded me of what I liked about Beyond The Wall.I started making some "playbooks" for Season 2 of the campaign when one of the players talked to me about not being sure where his PC came from or how it fit in.They're not complete - by any stretch! - but you can download my Stars Without Number Character Playbooks in their current state from Google Drive and adapt them to your game.  Screenshot below:These are fan content based on the tables in the free Stars Without Number rules for randomly rolling characters based on background, but adding a prompt for each result to help with the fiction.  Mechanically the characters will be the same, as the tables are the same, but hopefully they will help generate character backstories and ideas for drives

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Stars Without Number Ship Combat Control Sheet

Image (cc) desuran on DeviantArtI've talked about Stars Without Number a lot. I think I'll probably continue to do so; I love it. One thing I did find hard to keep track of was Ship Combat, fantastic system/minigame though it is, so I decided to make this control sheet. I also think I ran it slightly differently to the book - it felt right to me - so I'll explain how to use the sheet to run it the way I did. I'm sure you can adapt it.I suggest you have:A copy of the Ship Combat Actions for each player (I printed handouts from the free SWN rules) for referenceOne SWN Ship Combat Control Sheet for the table - click to download from Google DriveA collection of minis, markers, or tokens to help keep track.  They can represent the players directly or indirectly, it's just for visual reference on the sheet.Command PhaseThe Captain decides and declares the plan of actions.Players assign their tokens to departments (top row) if they will be taking Department Actions or to the Delegate Pool if they choose "Do

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On DMing, or How I Learned to Let Go and Embrace the Chaos

Image (cc) Kridily on DeviantArtDungeons & Dragons is a bad game.*  Bad naughty.  It's irresponsible in that it doesn't show us how to be Dungeon Masters - my favourite term for which is Apocalypse World's "MC" as we are, after all, Master of Ceremonies above all else.D&D teaches us to build encounters, but not how to build stories and worlds.  It teaches us to think in terms of probabilities and not stakes.  I learnt to DM on 4e and I've spent maybe a decade unlearning how it was presented to me then.  It took Stars Without Number and Dungeon World to open my eyes to how a game could be run.Embracing the ChaosThe adage "No plan survives contact with the players" is particularly true at our table it seems, but it's usually expressed as a negative.  Dungeon World says Play To Find Out What Happens and I decided to embrace the chaos and go with that in my homebrew Stars Without Number campaign. Let the players drive the story and I'll try to steer, or just sit back and watc

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Friday Freebie: Stars Without Number

Liberator by Phil Parker, on FlickrHow could I not recommend the magnificent Stars Without Number as a top tier FREE GAME?Stars Without Number - Free Edition is the game that changed how I DM.  It helped me prep just enough and forgot about "building encounters" and start enjoying the game so much more. It's the game I wish I'd run first, but more on that later.But how does it play?Mechanically, it's an odd mix of d20 (for combat and saves) and 2d6 (for skills) but the players didn't seem to mind.  Skills are distinct enough without being too granular and it all seems to work.  Being an OSR game there are hit dice and hit points, and my favourite method for rolling HP when you level I have seen so far: roll all your hit dice and get that if it's higher than your current total, or get +1 HP if you rolled lower.  It really helps to smooth the curve.Character generation is somewhat random, in a similar vein to Mythras, but the players' non-random Focus (think Feat) choices and Skill pick mean

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Making skill checks more PBTA

One thing I loved when reading Dungeon World was how all the moves fall into the same basic pattern:10+ (on 2d6 plus modifiers) means clean success7-9 means success, but with a cost or limitation6 or less means failure and the DM moves the story alongIt's an easy change from pass/fail and it runs right through all "Powered by the Apocalypse" games.  Note how there's no DC. I like this. So often my players roll skill checks and announce the result before I decide the DC that I end up just eyeballing it - so why not get rid of it? This is all about stakes and not about difficulty.So for my beloved Stars Without Number it's an easy enough change for me to want to start using it, I guess it is for any other 2d6 system, but can we apply it to D&D?  Mathematically (according to AnyDice and some probability calculations) this should map to 18+, 9-17, and 8 or less which is actually not too clunky!However, 2d6 and 1d20 give totally different distribution shapes, so any modifiers are going to swing thing

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