Streets with Numbers: Faction Rules

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.
    • Wealth.
  • 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.

Podcast Episode 52 – Unique Foci in Stars Without Number

In this podcast myself and Johannes Paavola discuss our recent playtesting of the Behind the Walls adventure that I’ve been working on with Glynn Seal from Monkeyblood Design, we then move on to discuss me taking a unique foci for my character in his Stars Without Number campaign:
Title Music Shinigami by XTaKeRuX: Used under creative commons licence:

Podcast Episodes 31 & 32 – Johannes Paavola double-feature

I’m away for the weekend LARPing so–as a treat–I thought that I’d release a couple of episodes simultaneously, I’m lucky enough to be joined in these episodes by Johannes Paavola to talk about V20, the WOD, OSR, Stars Without Number and other such stuff.

Episode 31 – JP & John talk V20 and WOD

In this first episode of our JP double-feature, we discuss Johanne’s excellent V20 Sabbat game, the old WOD, how it’s aged and a few initial thoughts on the new version of vampire, V5.

Here is a link to the website Utility Muffin Labs that Johannes mentions in the podcast.

Episode 32 – JP & John talk OSR and Stars Without Number

In the second episode of our double-feature we chat about OSR games in general and go all fan-boy about Kevin Crawford’s stuff.

Here are some links related to the discussion in Episode 32:

Many thanks to Johannes for joining us for these two episodes, we hope that you enjoy listening to them as much as we did filming them 🙂