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The rules provided on these pages can also be used as a bolt-on module to an existing RPG campaign, regardless of what system is used, if their adventures take them to near space and a (semi)realistic approach is favored.

Rule Zero applies: The player characters are stuck in a booster-less capsule in a highly elliptical orbit? The game master should let them be clever about it.

Player characters as space travelers

  • The three "spacederp" stats can easily be derived from the stats used in most RPG systems. These rules take into consideration things like strength or robustness for stamina, reflexes or perception for piloting, and intelligence or knowledge for engineering. It should be fairly easy to convert these when required for PCs or important NPCs
  • A minimally trained (not untrained) character has stats 0/0/2; it is presumable that space pilot training is a part of the campaign. If player characters are shot into space untrained but have to perform maneuvers -- maybe they are passengers who have to take over for injured crew -- simply give them a penalty on rolls. On the other hand, surviving a first mission in this manner should count toward training!
  • The current rules try make spacederps about as likely to die in the line of duty as their real life counterparts; even so, remember that in most roleplaying games PCs should never be flat out killed by a die roll. The "injured" mechanic here can help; there is likely to be a healer-type PC who can bend the rule that mandates injured spacederps go home to recover.

Resource management

  • These rules abstract resources a lot. A RPG campaign is likely to benefit from additional restrictions: the most obvious one is splitting points used to buy equipment (the PCs might have to protect their local economy so that there's a surplus) and points used to do research and development (maybe the PCs have to rescue or kidnap scientists or sages in order to allow researching past a threshold).
  • The budget mechanic may not match the situation that the PCs are in -- perhaps they are running their own moonshot, have a large war chest that they gained in their adventures, but little or no fixed income. In this case it would make sense to convert dot bonuses into point bonuses, which should be correspondingly larger since they represent one-off boons rather than a budget increase. We recommend a 10:1 conversion factor.

Mission types

  • Payloads are likely to be more varied in a RPG campaign; perhaps it is important to shoot an evil artifact into the Sun by putting it in an escape trajectory (Makes more sense than hiking inside a volcano in enemy territory...), or retrieve a unique item from the Moon to take back home, and so on. In general, most payloads should weigh 1, for simplicity. Payloads are fairly fragile if current rules are used: obviously an irreplaceable artifact gained through epic quests should be a lot harder to destroy than with a Boom result on a roll!
  • We do NOT recommend using the space combat extra rules for in-person fights; it would be best to stick with the RPG system's native combat system, possibly adapting for the lack of gravity. This will allow player characters to use their unique abilities. Those rules may be relevant for vessel-to-vessel fighting. NPC-on-NPC fights can be quickly resolved using the given combat rules.
  • Player characters may join a space program in progress, either as new hires or as spies/saboteurs; the best way to deal with this is to play a solitaire game for a few turns in order to present them with a fledgling but estabilished space effort. However, players (if not player characters) should have a good amount of control over their space program's direction. Consider letting them play the strategic part of the game out-of-character.
  • If the storyline involves an alien invasion, presumably the invaders have better technology than the players do; give them high reliability and assume that their home planet has huge lower stages available to launch with, but apply the same rules as for player-built spacecraft. This would limit the amount of invaders coming down and make for an interesting squad-level game. Or maybe they are an old but not forgotten evil that has estabilished a funny-shaped base on the far side of the Moon?

Map layout

  • The standard game board provides for a home world, a moon and possibly a small asteroid; these three types of celestial body can be expanded to cover most rocky worlds. Note that landing on another planet that has an atmosphere and substantial gravity requires carrying lower stages with you as payload! Gas giants probably will not be landed on.
  • Interplanetary stages are likely to take a long time; extend durations accordingly. Consider using the Colonization extra rules. To make it simple, it may be useful to use a separate board for each planet with its system of satellites, and skip over the interplanetary transfer stage -- a planetary arrival should be treated as a braking burn into the return trajectory step. "Moon" and "rock" logic can be used depending on satellite sizes.
  • WhatGoesUp assumes that landings occur near one's home base / launch facility, for simplicity. A botched Deorbit or Reentry roll may cause a landing in hostile or unexplored territory instead of its normal consequences, forcing player characters to figure out how to get home.
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Page last modified on April 01, 2013, at 04:27 PM