Sunday, August 20, 2017

SF + SWL Mash-Up Part 5


Before I get to the crux of this particular post, I need to explain my thinking on Characteristics because I won’t be using the traditional six of D&D and its decedents. Due to the fact that there are three categories of Areas of Expertise (AoE) (my proto-skill system) I wanted to condense the original six to three characteristics, each corresponding to an AoE. Thus:
  • STR/CON = Toughness which affects Hit Points, Melee Attacks and the Military AoE.
  • DEX/INT = Acuity which affects Defense, Ranged Attacks and the Hard Science AoE.
  • WIS/CHA = Judgement which affects Banishing, Spell-like Abilities and the Biosocial AoE.
For flavor, players can use descriptors to clarify which of the original six is dominant in each pair. For example, a character’s Acuity could be more intellectual than physical.


In both Star Frontiers and D&D (and its direct descendants), there are four basic races: humans plus three non-human races. Dralasites, Vrusks and Yazirians roughly correspond to Dwarves, Elves and Halflings. While it would be tempting to make simplified versions of the Star Frontier races in the same way SWL does with the traditional D&D races, it severely limits what the game can do. Suddenly, all campaigns are tasked with looking very much like the Star Frontiers universe.

I find this lacking because, while extremely interesting, Drasalites, Vrusks and Yazirians are not archetypal in the way that Dwarves, Elves and Halflings are. As a consequence, I want to offer a set of mechanics that can easily describe a number of different iconic sci-fi aliens rather than three aliens that are described by mechanics.


At character creation, a human PC gets a +1 that the player can place on any of the three Characteristics. The other two will be ±0. This expresses the great variety of humanity as well as their flexibility.

Militant Aliens

These are aliens that either come from a war-like culture or are physically capable of being excellent warriors. Militant Aliens have a +1 Toughness, ±0 Acuity and -1 Judgement. They also have the special ability of Battle Rage. They may take an action to enter into Battle Rage, which requires a successful Action Roll. If successful, the Militant Alien receives a +2 with Melee Attacks. With a Critical Success, that bonus increases to +4. Militant Aliens may only choose the Warrior Class.

Militant Aliens: Ka D'Argo, Ookla and a Yazirian 

Mentalist Aliens

These are aliens that rely on some kind of mental prowess. Mentalist Aliens have a -1 Toughness, +1 Acuity and ±0 Judgement. They also have the special ability to Detect with a successful Action Roll or a 10 minute preparation time. What exactly the character is capable of detecting is chosen by the player at character creation. For example, Dralasites can Detect Lies. Mentalist Aliens may choose the Mind Mage or Warrior Class.

Mentalist Aliens: a Talosian, Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan and a Dralasite

Merchant Aliens

These are aliens that have a gift for interacting with other cultures and species. Merchant Aliens have a ±0 Toughness , -1 Acuity and +1 Judgement. They also have the special ability to Comprehend Languages (Spoken) with an Action Roll. With a critical success, they can also Comprehend Languages (Witten).  Merchant Aliens may only choose the Warrior Class.

Merchant Aliens: a Neimoidian, Quark the Ferengi and a Vrusk 
Players and Referees are encouraged to re-skin these mechanics any way they wish. As an example, the Comprehend Language ability of the Merchant Alien could be re-skinned as a latent version of telepathy or empathy akin to Ship’s Councilor Troi from STNG.


JB said...

Hmm. Not bad as an abstract concept, but for SF I do prefer more specific setting (in this case species) material, if only because it'll be necessary to enforcing or working with Frontier regulations.

FrDave said...

I wanted a system where one Referee could insist on SF races, another could insist on aliens from their own campaign, and yet another who could roll with a potpourri of alien races. So, when you test-run this system, you are more than welcome to insist your players use Dralasites, Vrusks and Yazirians...