I’ve long been a fan of the Stars Without Number game (written by Kevin Crawford), and am currently playing in an ongoing campaign run by Johannes Paavola, where I play Katherine O’Brien ship mechanic and recently awakened Artificial Intelligence. SWN uses an adapted and slightly more detailed version of the standard D&D/OSR ruleset with a skill system and all manner of other sci-fi gubbinz layered on top of it, skirting the line between crunchiness and simplicity. In my opinion it walks that tightrope well, without ever falling off.
One of the great thing about the game are the Faction Rules; in essence this series of rules allow the GM to create groups or factions within their setting–giving them loose stats and resources–and then run a sort of background mini-game where these factions plot, scheme and attempt to overcome each other. The game recommends that the GM do a faction turn every four games or so and that they drip-feed in rumours and news so that the players get hint of what is going on.
These rules create a really dynamic setting that feels like it is always in motion, it is never in suspended-animation or sleep-mode, waiting for the player characters to appear on the scene. I love this, but I don’t run a lot of sci-fi games to be honest, and most of the OSR-style games I run are a good deal simpler (rules-wise) than SWN, so I’ve turned my thoughts to adapting/creating a similar set of rules for a fantasy game.
I particularly want a set of rules that will work in my current Midderlands game, allowing me to represent the shifting tapestry of Guilds and organisations at work in Great Lunden.
What the rules need to include:
- A method to generate HP for a faction.
- A simplified set of stats for factions, which must include:
- Physical force.
- Cunning/Underhand dealings.
- A method for judging the size of a faction.
- Rules for adjudicating conflicts between factions and their effects.
- A system for determining what resources a faction has at their disposal.
- A system for dealing with wealth and purchasing new resources, this must be translatable into player-level wealth.
I’m planning to create a few posts dealing with this subject and then–assuming I get some rules that I’m happy with–I’ll probably collate them into a single page cheatsheet style dealio and post it on the podcast. All of the posts will be gathering under the heading Faction Rules.