The in-game rules I want to lay out are just that: in-game. These are rules the player characters should operate under, not the players. These rules are designed to safeguard the most valuable thing the PCs will own: their ship. The three basic rules are:
- Don’t bring danger to the ship.
- No weapons on the bridge.
- The Captain runs the ship.
Rule 1 means that if members of the crew get into danger on their own time, they will not endanger the ship by leading that danger back to the ship. Or stated another way: “don’t go picking fights you can’t handle and then draw everyone else into the problem.” Player characters on away teams should, if at all possible, solve what ever problems they run into before returning to the ship and should never flee to the ship with and angry posse at their heels. Now player characters being player characters may ignore or bend this rule, but if the ship gets damaged, everyone else will blame the offending PC(s) and likely want them kicked off the ship.
Rule 2 is a safety precaution. The bridge contains too many critical portions of the ship, both mechanical and personnel, for there to ever be weapons hanging around there.
Rule 3 is to keep those without knowledge of ship systems and procedures from ordering things be done that will damage or destroy the ship and/or the crew. It also establishes the clear chain of command onboard the ship: everyone answers to the Captain only. While the player characters, as the Company men, can tell the Captain where to fly the ship, the Captain will decide how it is done and who does what. At some point, I would expect the player characters to work out their own hierarchy/command structure, but I really expect that to me an emergent thing that develops during play – my players are like that.
I also expect that as the game goes on, a list of standing orders and standard operating procedures will develop. I’d hope that one of the early ones (if not the first) is “Don’t leave crew behind if at all possible.” I’d rather the players develop these, but if they don’t, the Captain (meaning me through the NPC) will likely establish some.
Right now, the only metagame rule I have is that between sessions, one month of in-game time will pass. This allows PC healing to happen if anyone was injured during the last session, so everyone should start each session at full health or close to it. In a fantasy game, this can be shortened to a week or even a day due to healing spells, but sci-fi requires a bit more time for that. This time passage also assumes that some trading is happening off-screen, once the players have explored enough for that to be reasonable. I want to keep the adminis-trivia to a manageable level and not force the players to haggle for every little credit they make.
Available Ship Types
I’d like the first session to be character generation followed by a small roleplay session where the PCs explore the starship boneyard and select their ship. As the background states that Start World (not its final name, just a working reference) made custom luxury spaceships. Think of a world whose primary industries consisted of Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A., Orange County Choppers, and any custom-build luxury specialty company you can think of. The shipyards were all orbital with supplier fabrication plants being a mix of orbital and planet-side. There was some planet-side manufacture of parts, but a lot of the raw materials were ordered in a just-in-time fashion from nearby worlds. When the Virus started to hit, its initial actions were not always fatal. Faced with what appeared to be malfunctioning equipment, ship owners had their ships taken back to the manufacturers to be fixed, which also allowed the Virus to spread further.
As a result of the above, the Start World system has a selection of abandoned luxury craft in various parking orbits. It also has limited resources for the construction of new ships as some of the materials necessary are not native to this system (I’ll get more into that in the next post). So the first half-session will be the newly minted PCs in a small system boat looking through the boneyard for a ship to call their own. The basic choices will be:
- A Cigarette Boat-equivalent, good for racing or hauling tiny (and usually illegal) hyper-valuable cargo at very high speed
- A Quick Freighter-equivalent, good for small (usually legal) cargoes at high speed
- A Medium Freighter-equivalent, good for carrying a variety of cargoes, including the possibility of passengers with moderate standards at a good speed
- A Fat merchant-equivalent, good for carrying large amounts of cargo at a slow, steady pace
I’ll also accept player input if they want something different and design that. The goal is to provide a ship the players feel comfortable with for the campaign as it will likely be the only ship they own for a while.
That’s it for this time. In the next part I’ll discuss potential scenarios for the PCs to run into and some thoughts on starting tech and tech levels.