Monday, March 7, 2011


Blog posts have been taking a back seat to other writing lately, with my time being divided between working on Class Free rules, filling in my Daruna campaign setting, and running a play-by-post sci fi game. I've talked a bit about Class Free and Daruna, but haven't said much about my PbP game, so...

Starlight is a space faring setting drawing inspiration from various incarnations of Traveller. The basics of the setting are:

  • Two forms of FTL travel: small jump ships with limited range a la Traveller, and galaxy crossing jump gates that open wormholes between gates at tremendous energy costs.
  • Jump gates use solar taps to provide energy. Early versions of these devices were flawed, and several suns, including Sol, were destroyed by the resulting explosions.
  • There are dozens of colony worlds organized into:
    • The Core, the most established and advanced colonies set up with gate tech.
    • The Outer Clusters, secondary colonies established by Core worlds.
    • The Independents, colonies established by early sleeper ships or other means. Most have rediscovered or bought gate tech from the Core.
    • The Fringe, less successful or newly created colonies, generally with no gate tech.
  • Technology ranges from primitive failed colonies that have reverted to pre-industrial levels to highly advanced cultures with advanced ship designs, cyberware, nano-technology, and multiple cheap energy sources.

System-wise we're using my go to system for PbP, FUDGE. It's light enough to stay out of the way, but provides enough structure to hang some interesting mechanics on. Character creation used a variant of Traveller's life path system (no one died).

Most of the characters chose fairly long careers, so they're a pretty competent group. There are eight players (down one from the starting nine) in the group, exhibiting various degrees of participation depending on availability and interest in the current scene. One of the players lucked into a damaged free trader hull as part of character creation so the group pooled their funds and rebuilt it into a pretty solid cargo vessel, christened the Drunken Angel.

I generally write two or three main turns a week, varying from a few paragraphs to a couple pages. Since everyone is aboard ship turns are public for the most part, allowing everyone to chime in as they like. We use a mailing list to manage the main conversation, with private threads to deal with side conversations and the few times the party has split up.

The last time I mentioned this game, the group had just arrived at Patera to do their cargo delivery routine. At the time we were having a side bar discussion on the general action level of the game, which seemed a bit slow. To fix this I took a page from the typical GM advice column and sent in the ninjas. And by ninjas I mean well-armed ships of unknown origins. As the Drunken Angel was heading for the rim and their jump out point, they witnessed an attack on the in-system naval fleet and the solar tap facility used to power the system's jump gate. During the attack they received an encrypted data stream from one of the naval vessels involved in the fight. By the time the Angel finally jumped out, prompted by the sudden appearance of another hostile ship near their position, the crew had witnessed the destruction of several naval vessels with very advanced missile technology and a potential boarding party headed for the solar tap.

Captain Hansen
Needless to say the group was worried. Luckily their next jump sent them back to New Paris and the HQ of the Seven Suns Coalition naval forces. After they jumped in-system, they immediately transmitted the encrypted data to naval authorities. That got them a priority trip to a naval berth, and started a system-wide naval alert. After some tense 'discussions' with the naval authorities, including the very serious Captain Hansen and enigmatic Ms. Bowie, the group is now transporting a party of naval officials to their next destination (along with a the usual selection of cargo, data and mail).

As usual sending in the ninjas was a good idea. Luckily this was part of my ongoing GM machinations, so it doesn't really break anything story-wise, just changes up the timing of some events. I'll hold off on further comment as to the origin of the hostiles, since my players read this blog and I don't want to spoil things. Suffice to say, things will heat up in their neck of the woods. The group is already speculating heavily on the enemy's origins, and speculation is good. The event charged up the players and my own interest in the game, and keeping everyone interested is a good thing. One of the biggest problems with PbP games is the slow pace, especially when players have jobs and lives to deal with.

Next stop for the Angel and her crew: Diversion, an Outer Cluster agricultural world half-way between New Paris and one of the most technologically advanced Core worlds, Matari Prime.


  1. Testing comments. Blogger doesn't seem to like me. :(


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