A Great Day to Game

Document container for project design documents.

Bad Guys by Albin Johnson (Fairhand)

As told by Albin Johnson

I remember the LAST official game of Star Frontiers ever played by my old group back home. It was a riot, because we'd all been to college for a year and SF was a thing fading fast in our interests as 'grown-ups'. James McCameron had a nice, normal scenario for us to play. Jim was so bitter at having spent all those years as a 'medic' character to my 'military' character (remember when military guys were the only ones who mattered? we were such doofuses!) that he re-wrote his entire character to be even more of a killer than my legendary Yalua the Yazirian.

Anyways, halfway into the intro of the game, everyone rebels and says: "hey, let's do something fun like take over the ship, be pirates, or just raid Port Loren!!!!" Well, James was put off at the idea of his game plot being ditched, and protested that he didn't have the stats rolled up if they wanted to go 'robbing banks' in Port Loren. So I just snickered and said 'aw, it's easy, James, just come up with some rough stats that make sense....here, let me do it and you control Yalua. Mind his backpack, though, he's got a full sack of TD-19!"

Well, the boys were happy. I plopped them down in the middle of Port Loren where they proceeded to that little cluster of buildings in the middle (see map that comes with game) and began heisting the jewelry store at gunpoint. Joe's Dralasite and Ola's Vrusk didn't like the idea and got nervous about Starlaw so they leave. Jim, Dave, and Don relish in the idea and start shooting everything. It was great! James just sulked in the corner, mad that his game had been hijacked (I was such a jerk! :)

Anyways, the law arrives in no time and in force - vehicles ring the entire block, closing it off from escape. Jim, Dave, and James bolt out the store, firing at everything in sight, blowing away pedestrians, shooting at the cars, etc. Joe's dralasite makes use of the panic and climbs one of the buildings and accesses a pedestrian walkway to cross into non-surrounded territory. Ola is smart, too, and as a Vrusk tech. runs over to one of the elevators to descend into the parking garage below. Don the human sees Ola's retreat and figures his is a better plan than sticking around and follows. Jim and Dave scurry about, Yazirian and Osakar, laughing like Beavis & Butthead and enjoying the whole 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' affair. At one point, Jim sees James (controlling Yalua) standing off to one side looking for police to come storming in. Jim mutters something to me, the GM: "Heh heh - well, so much for your legendary Yalua, Al!!!" So he fires his laser pistol at the backpack at 10 SEU setting - the TD-19 explodes in a bright burst of flame and all that's left of Yalua is a greasy spot on the sidewalk! I was crushed! Jim and Dave high-fived.

Meanwhile, Joe makes like Lee Harvey Oswald. His Dralasite clears the street, pursued by law enforcement that see him on the elevated walkway. He runs into a darkened holotheater, where he somehow loses them. Ola and Don, at the same time, enter the underground garage, Ola successfully opens and hotwires a car, and the two of them somehow manage to bust through the roadblock above. A fast car-chase follows, and out of the hail of gunfire their car is hit and the steering goes out. They crash outside Port Loren and escape on foot.

The rest isn't pretty, but it's the stuff of stories. Jim and Dave are the only living members still caught in the blockade, and there's NO escape. They dive into store after store, shooting customers and dodging gunfire from the police that sit outside each shop's window. They take hit after hit, but somehow keep going. Finally Jim and Dave grin at each other, look out on of the windows and say "I'll take the human over there" "Okay, I want to go down with that Vrusk over there". The two go crashing out a picture window, guns blazing, and after a hundred dice rolls simulating the police gunfire, the two are history.... What a rush.

What a nice game to end the legacy on....

Forward from the first Star Frontiersman

My gaming group sat down at the big conference table in the basement of the local public library and pulled out soda and potato chips. So far we had played board games: Chess, checkers, even more complex games like Shadow Lords (anyone remember that game?), Axis & Allies to name a couple. Yes, I guess we were dorks. We had never played a RPG before.

I pulled out the Star Frontiers box. It already had a dented corner from it being in my backpack. I pulled out the hastily made character sheets and handed them all out. We had one pair of dice that we had to share, and we made our characters.

One of our players at the time wanted to have a spaceship. I told him that this particular game didn’t work that way – that characters purchased passage on passenger liners and mining ships to get from point A to point B (Knight Hawks accessory hadn’t come out yet). He whined and complained, until I promised to give him one as long as he accepted the hardships that would come along with it. He readily agreed.

So we started our adventure as freight haulers. We were all excriminals who couldn’t get jobs because nobody wanted to hire you when you had a record. We were loading crates onto a banged-up piece of junk boxy scout ship.

As we did, we were annoyed by the customs inspector arguing with the ship’s captain (whose name escapes me – I made it up on the spot so it was probably dumb). During that argument, one of our characters dropped a crate (random Strength checks until someone dropped it). Out poured a bunch of contraband drugs... we all stared astonished as the ship’s captain pulled out a blaster and shot the inspector dead!

He forced us into his service because his own men were out carousing, and he needed an impromptu crew. We had many adventures under the command of that smuggler, and eventually we tired of being his reluctant crew and had it out with him. He died at our hands, and we were piloting around the Frontier in a stolen ship wanted for many crimes, always looking over our shoulder for Star Law and the several criminal bosses our excaptain had pissed off.

That’s why I keep coming back to Star Frontiers. So many memories of such amazing sci-fi fun. I plan to try to give this old game new legs through these gazetteers, the first of which you hold in your hands (or are reading on your computer!). If you have material you’d like to see presented, please contact me and I’ll add it. Of course, I may take license to make modifications or clarifications to what you provide. Hey – it’s my project!! Haha...


Bill Logan

Roll Initiative!

This excerpt came from an article by Bill Logan on Creative Refereeing in Star Frontiersman #8. For me it was an awesome moment gaming Star Frontiers and I can almost imagine that special moment in his son's eyes.

My son was playing a Yazirian, and the rest of the player’s characters had been shot down or stunned by members of the Redhawks, a notorious band of thugs and killers they were sent to disburse. He started getting really into the situation, I could see it in his eyes. He was worried for his character and was wondering if he or any of the others were going to survive this adventure.

He rolled for battlerage… and even with the pitiful chance of success, he succeeded. Even though the odds were against him, and even though battlerage wouldn’t be enough to save him, I knew I had to let him have his moment. I could see it in his face: the memorable moment of the adventure was here.

“Time slows for you… everyone else feels a single heartbeat but you feel like that heartbeat stretches out for many seconds. The storm strengthens, the rain coming down in the alley with great power – as if providing a soundtrack to the impending burst of rage you’re about to unleash. The remaining Redhawk’s eyes widen when they sense your building surge of raw animal power – but it’s too late… you unleash it!

“Roll initiative…”

Disintegration by Dralasite

Ravenshade here with a story. *Ahem* One day, when I was playing SF with my dad (human, character's name: Ronin) and my sister (dralasite, character's name: Octavia), we decided to start on the Clarion Station adventures. Well, when completing the adventure of the illlegal freighter cargo mission (mission #2, I think), Ronin and Raven got pinned down by three crew members. Vince was on the bridge of the freighter fighting three rogues of his own, but was doing okay. The battle downstairs seemed to be at a stalemate, but then one of the rogue crew made the mistake of stepping out of cover. Octavia suddenly burst into the room carrying a sonic destroyer that she'd found among the illegal cargo, took aim, and disintegrated the unlucky crewmember. The two that were standing behind the door surrendered immediately. I always found that rather hilarious, as Octavia isn't a fighter in the least (she's the medic) and she just happened to find that in the cargo.

Train Jump

Ravenshade here with another story. This time, I was playing a custom adventure with my dad as the ref where we were supposed to stop these pirates who'd hijacked a hover transport. Octavia (my sister's dralasite) stayed behind, driving Ronin's (my dad's human's) skimmer. Vince, Raven, and Ronin all successfully jumped onto the transport's rear bumper... going 160 km/hr! Vince almost fell off, which should have tipped me off that he shouldn't have tried... Oh well... We encountered some pirates guarding the top of the containers, which we made quick work of. The first issue was the jump between cars. Vince made it no problem, Raven made it no problem, but Ronin missed the edge and fell onto the catwalk in between the cars. He managed to get out by climbing a ladder, but he was a turn behind us. That's when the driver spotted us and made a sharp turn to throw us off. Ronin was on the ladder, so he was safe, and Raven barely managed to grab the handrail on the top of the transport, but Vince went flying off the side and took about 30 points of damage. He basically just sat there for the rest of the voyage, performing surgery on himself. Raven, meanwhile, was just above the cockpit. The driver opened the door for a good look above him, so Raven tried to jump into the door and slingshot into the cabin. Terrible idea. He tried it, managed to hit the door, but bounced off of the door onto the front fender containing the left front fan of the transport. The driver tried to take a shot at Raven, but at that moment Ronin shot him and he fell down, where Raven got him with his laser sword. When they all went back, they just found Vince sitting by the side of the road, waiting. Raven had a bruise for a few days but eventually it all went back to normal. It's still my favorite "Stupid Ravenshade" story to tell.

Lucky and unlucky

Ravenshade here with another story. This time the crew and I were playing a custom adventure, tracking down the handlers of the Sathar agents in the first scenario. We'd tracked them to an asteroid in Vince's starship Aphelion, and were preparing to enter their base and attack. We made it through the airlock, and managed to clear the first room. Raven burst through the door of the second room and threw a tangler grenade at the first person he saw. He hit and tangled three enemies, and the other three members of the party fired at the one remaining agent. He got knocked woozy and was down to 3 STA, so Raven decided that instead of using his perfectly good weapons, he would pick up a chair and hit the poor guy with it. He successfully picked up the chair, but then I rolled a 99. Raven tripped over one of the tangled enemies and threw the chair over the guy's head. Vince saw what happened, rolled his eyes, and zapped the guy with an electrostunner. Going into the next room, Raven saw an enemy at the far end of the corridor, took aim with his bow (his primary weapon in the early days) and fired. The shot, against impossible odds, hit the agent... with a roll of 01. The agent took one look at the arrow in his knee and fainted. Octavia stayed back to move and guard the prisoners, Vince went up one level to look in that room, and Ronin followed Raven into the control room, where a Yazarian agent was messing with the computer, trying to destroy the data. Raven burst into the room and smacked him with an electric sword. He went down in a heap and promptly surrendered. Meanwhile, Vince, our main technician, went up the stairs with a pistol in each hand. He peeked into the room and promptly slammed the door just in time to block a fragmentation grenade. He then fired around the edge of the door at the three agents firing at him. Vince radioed for backup, and his robot SN-36 and Octavia came running and rolling to the stairway, firing at the agents as well. Eventually, the agents were subdued, and Vince had managed to critical hit one of them against impossible odds, as well as doze one of them. This was the first time that Vince seriously surprised me with this sort of gunplay, but it wouldn't be the last...

Vince's Golden Gun

After stopping the Sathar agents, Vince and his crew were in high demand. Eventually they were hired by Clarion Station to use Aphelion to patrol around the base. A few weeks after that, the Marionette was spotted, and they were sent to stop it. They did, and after fighting through bunches of enemies the four adventurers were able to confront the final boss. After a few shots with laser pistols (and a bow), Vince took three shots with his gyrojet pistol, one of the few weapons he could use well, at the critical point of the boss. The first two missed horribly, but the third one, against nearly impossible odds, achieved a critical hit on the one spot it was vulnerable in. The shot penetrated the armor of the boss, killing it immediately. Everyone else looked at Vince, almost too shocked to speak. Vince spun the pistol on his finger. "Got 'im." We eventually were able to fix the Marionette, and it became one of the first cornerstones in Raven's conglomerate empire, along with a used spaceliner the group bought called the Deus Vult (Ronin named it.) This was probably Vince's finest moment as a fighter, but as a commander he did much more damage than as a fighter alone. Because of his high Robotics skill, he was able to command a large part of Raven's robot legions, and with his high Pilot skill he could maneuver his way out of almost any bad situation with fancy flying.

A story of Vince's Heroics, part 2

This story brings back memories. (Warning: Spoilers for Dramune's Run ahead!)

It happened sometime after we'd managed to put together a large group of gamers. (I think we had about four Yazarians, five Dralasites, six Humans, and two Vrusk.) At the time, we had decided to embark on Dramune's Run... and here's where the fun began.

The first encounter you could have was with a size 9 freighter, the Nightshade. Fairly straightforward stuff. That's when things got interesting. Instead of being captured, we knocked their drives out and boarded them, eventually taking the ship. Our main medic revived their pilot, and we diverted half our crew onboard to keep an eye on him. This allowed us to bypass the next three encounters, as it looked as though we'd already been captured!

Eventually we arrived at the space station. We docked the Gullwind, but left the Nightshade outside. (This was absolutely nowhere to be found in the rulebook... and this was just the beginning!) Since we had eyes on the outside, we knew that there was a large army of robots outside the ship... and that's when our two demolition experts decided to use the munitions inside the Gullwind, as well as the robot inside, to create and deliver a nuclear bomb explosion into the midst of the large droid army.

It worked perfectly.

In the initial blast, 28 of the robots were taken down immediately. Four more were lost due to subsequent burning. That's when things got really hectic. The Nightshade had been recognized by the five separate Malthar ships sitting in orbit around the station, so we crashlanded it into the bay, taking out four more bots. Vince, who had been on the Nightshade, immediately ran over to the Gullwind, as the battle raged on.

After we'd destroyed the first wave of bots, the next wave of 40 charged our positions. At this point, it would be good to note that the five Malthar ships mentioned earlier were sitting just outside the hangar, watching the battle rage down below. Vince ran out of the Gullwind with a spacesuit on and a rocketpack strapped to his back. Thankfully, he knew what he was doing. We'd already had half of our crew get tangled or gassed by the time he managed to take off, so he knew he'd have to act quick.

There were two frigates, two corvettes, and an assault scout.

Vince rocketed out into space without getting noticed, then immediately set a course for one frigate. He wired the engines of that frigate to explode using a panel on the outside, quickly rocketing over to the second frigate when he was done. He then accessed a control panel near one of the hatches, quickly hacking into the security system to open all doors on the spaceship. This sucked all the occupants out into space. As soon as he'd done that, gotten inside, and closed the hatches, the first frigate exploded, taking one of the corvettes with it and severely damaging the other three ships. The second corvette quickly fled the scene, leaving just the assault scout. Vince was preparing to fire on it when it targeted his friends on the deck, sending him a message that he should surrender or lose his compatriots, all of whom had been captured at that point. Reluctantly, he surrendered, sparking the next part of the mission.

(Footnote: later on in the mission, when attempting to sneak back onto the Gullwind, our resident psycho, Indie, noticed that they hadn't stolen all her knives, as they'd missed the one in her boot. This prompted her to float undetected to the sleepy guard and cut his throat in 0G, making it the most interesting kill I've ever witnessed.)

I'm Here to Avenge my Father

This was originally posted on Face book by someone called River Niles
admittedly its D&D not Star Frontiers but its a cool story and I liked it a lot.

So we played D&D with my 11yo cousin yesterday and it was his first proper session.
He had real bad luck with his dice rolls and HIS ELF JUST DIED.
After a solemn pause looking over his character sheet he writes
"Jr" next to his name and proclaims,
"I'm here to avenge my father!"

Yeah, I'm thinking that kid picked up role playing pretty quick.

SS' tale

Hey SFers, Richard "Shadow Shack" Rose here. I'll start with a brief introduction, my real name's Richard, but my friends simply call me...Richard. Now that that's over with, here's my SF background:

I jumped into Star Frontiers head first shortly after it was first published back in 1982. Before that my friends and I were heavily into D&D...not so much the AD&D, mostly regular basic/expert/companion etc with a bunch of the AD&D items integrated. It was interesting playing AD&D modules by basic/expert rules. Our D&D group consisted of five, but that was whittled down to three due to circumstances beyond our control (I'll touch on that in a bit). 

All of us were Star Wars nuts at heart (return of the Jedi had yet to be released, Lucas was probably filming in northern California under the guise of Blue Harvest at the time), some of us were into comic books, and when we started seeing the ads for the new TSR SciFi game in those pages we had to have it. I don't remember which of us brought the boxed set home first, but we pretty much all bought it within the same week!

Security Breach in Port Loren/the Hydra was naturally our first game and we played it several times under the basic rules, building up our characters' monetary level. After we earned a thousand credits or so from the repeated sessions, we went for the expanded game and chose a pair of 1st level skills and whipped through the Hepplewhite Inc. expanded rules sample scenario, then we jumped into the Volturnus trilogy.

As we played and played, yearning for starship rules, we all sat down and drafted some basic ideals and rulings so we could build/buy a ship. The Omicron module was something we'd play over and over as well (and basically used as a model for starship deckplans), the first time with our own characters and then many recurring sessions with the eight pregenerated ones. We loved that one almost as much as the Volturnus trilogy, and we'd even create our own scenarios to pit the eight pregenerated characters against.

A year passed and all three of us moved away simultaneously in separate directions (our fathers were in the USAF, that being the "circumstances beyond our control") and I ended up in Las Vegas in the summer of 1983. I found a couple of guys that were AD&Ders and introduced them to SF and eventually my former group's ship rules. I began drafting my second ship for my primary character, dubbed the Volturnian Knighthawk, and no sooner than when I was done with the rudimentary deckplans I was wandering in the toy section of a department store and much to my amazement, I found this magenta colored box set with the familiar Star Frontiers font on it bearing the name "Knight Hawks". Wow, imagine the surprise of a fifteen year old kid finding such a thing bearing the same name as a ship he'd just drummed up for a campaign!

Well I snatched that up and dug into the pages that night, and introduced my group to it shortly afterwards. About this time that group drifted apart, the older of us enlisted into the Air Force for full active duty and the other guy moved away (damn those uncontrolled circumstances!), and my family finally moved into the neighborhood where our house was being built. I eventually found another guy that was a Star Wars nut and in a group of AD&Ders and we eventually began to play SF. That group started off six strong but was eventually down to three (seems to be a magic number for me). One of them bought some of the Traveller stuff, another picked up Car Wars...and we would drift away with those (and occassionally D&D) whenever the SF campaign got flat, but we always eventually came back to SF each time.

After high school, things began to wane in the gaming arena. I'd run into a new college friend here and there that proclaimed himself as a fellow gamer and/or Star Wars nut and if they showed interest in the game, we'd play it for a year or two on our days off. It always seemed to ressurect itself in cycles, and we'd play the hell out of it each time with each group. I have some dice that are completely rounded off from use! Funny thing, none of us in any of those groups ever heard of the West End Games Star Wars RPG, and it wasn't until recently that I began researching the stuff but alas, it's only available on E-Bay in its original form and quite pricy at that. I discovered the online SF groups around 2004 and quickly jumped in.
Lately the live gaming end has been stagnant once more, although the wife and I play it on occassion. My original characters from my first group, having been NPCed each time a new group "catches up" to them (or in some cases gets fast forwarded), are in their early 90s age-wise and relatively tapped out in their primary skill areas. As such, I have "offspring" second generation characters from some of them that I use with new players/groups, just to steer clear of the "ultimist" NPC associates, whom I still use on occassion making cameo appearances (they currently command a dreadnaught cruiser).

My campaign echoes the Zebulon Timeline to an extent, although I rewrote some of it so that a group of new players could play all the published modules in a 20 year period with the same characters. I rewrote the latter 30 years with a dark/alternate reality: in a nutshell an upstart dictator rises to power with the alleged assistance of at least one cult and one mega-corporation, and eventually takes over the Frontier establishing a new authoritarian order of military might. The UPF and Council of Worlds gets dissolved and loyalists are rushed into hiding, the Sathar threat is all but removed as the new order eventually discovers their homeworlds and meets their first major defeat, and they eventually leave each other alone recognizing each others' strengths in their own systems and weaknesses in the oppositions' systems. Even the pirate threat is neutralized, although piracy still occurs it isn't as common as it was under UPF charter.