Friday, October 5, 2012

Redshirt Roll Call! (and Ranks and Ratings)

I do love a good character creation system.  Recently, we played the HERO system, which takes years to fashion a character with, but they are quite awesome characters.  Then we played Twilight 2000.  Okay, yeah, so it is reminiscent of filling out a 1040-EZ tax form.  But geez - that is no excuse for the players to start sobbing and rush to their calculators.  I swear, kids these days.  How do they do their taxes now?  Magic 8 ball?  I feel old.  But the character that come out of Twilight 2000 are very gritty and realistic.  Apocalypse realistic, that is and I quite like them.

But we are back to Stars Without Number now, and everything is right with the world.  Roll up a D&D character, select a background skill package and a training skill package - and WHAM - you are done.  No multiplication or division even.

Here are the members of the Aquila Scout Service so far:
  • Lieutenant Holt McManus - Lt. McManus shot up the ranks quickly to become a detective in the Aquila Naval Police Corp before being transferred to the Aquila Scout Service.  Played by Merwin.
  • Lieutenant Mark Five - Lt. Five was a hot shot fighter pilot when he was approached about joining the Scouts.  Played by Felipe.
  • Petty Officer 1st Class James Loranzo - PO 1st Class Loranzo is a hard core soldier, having seen action in several backwater ground assaults before he was selected for the Scout Service.  Played by The Boy.
  • Petty Officer 3rd Class Owlicious - PO 3rd Class Owlicious was hand selected for this mission because of her focus in xenoarchaelogy.  Played by Adelaide.
  • Spacer Apprentice Kal Kek - Apprentice Kal Kek is not your ordinary jar head marine, as he has ambitions of being an officer one day.  Played by Seamus.
  • Spacer Apprentice XC-OM - Apprentice XC-OM is a 600 year old artificial intelligence, manufactured before the Scream and interested in exploration.  Played by Kaye.
(Note: these descriptions are mine, based on their class, skills, and ranks.  They never really had much time to delve into their past or motives during the intro session.  Oh, and of course, all players names are Internet pseudonyms that I made up to - and no - no one gets to pick their own pseudonym.  So deal with it, players.)

So, those of you who have played Stars Without Number may be asking yourself where I came up with the ranks.  Well, that's random.  Take the 'Summary of Naval Ranks, Rating and Pay Grades' on page 9 of Skyward Steel: Naval Campaigns for Stars Without Number, and do this:

If you are a Psychic, you are automatically an officer.  If you have at least a 14 in Intelligence or Charisma, you can choose to either be enlisted or officer.  Otherwise, you are enlisted.

If enlisted, roll 2d4-2.  If you have an Intelligence or Charisma adjustment, apply it to the roll:

               Enlisted Chart
Roll Code Rate
1- E-1 Spacer Recruit
E-2 Spacer Apprentice
E-3 Spacer
E-4 Petty Officer Third Class
E-5 Petty Officer Second Class
6+ E-6 Petty Officer Third Class

Officers just roll a d6, regardless of Intelligence of Charisma:

               Officer Chart
Roll Code Rank
1-2 O-1 Midshipman
3-4 O-2 Ensign
5-6 O-3 Lieutenant

I had thought this set up would have given a nice spread of ranks and a clear leader.  Of course, we ended up with two Lieutenants.  So, in hindsight, the Officer Chart should go something like this:

              Officer Chart

Regarding class and rating/rank, if you do the math on the attributes, Warriors will almost always end up being enlisted.  Expert will always get the choice of being enlisted or officer (but with bonuses, they'll almost always be a higher rating than the warriors if they choose enlisted, on average.)  And those Psychics will always be officers.  Why?  Because people are scared of Psychics.  Best to put them in charge. 

I had thought about making AIs automatic officers as well, but society doesn't trust them much.  Psychics are feared, yes, but AIs are less feared and more . . . held in contempt.  I mean, the Psychic dude over there can read your mind. Be on your best behavior.  But taking orders from a toaster?  Not gonna happen unless that toaster proves itself.

Now that I think of it, I should probably increase the requirements for becoming an officer.  Ah.  One of their packages must have the Leadership skill in it.  Makes sense.  Otherwise, officers without leadership skills tend to get fragged.

Oh, and one more little rule that we used - if you make a character without an combat ability whatsoever, your rank immediately becomes E-1 Spacer Recruit.  'Nuff said?

I guess that is it for this post.  I was going to do the play report, but looks like I'll do that next post. I blab too much.  :)

- Ark


  1. Sounds like a lot of fun!

    1. Owlicious . . um . . a character in My Little Pony. Yeah . . . seems like the archaeologists didn't quite understand MLP, and thought is was an ancient religious tract. A group of new age Aquilans formed a church around the show and called themselves the Celestia-ites. It's tradition for the Celestia-ites to name their children after the holy apostle ponies and their cute, cuddly friends - thus you get kids named Owlicious running around. Sheesh - cultists these days.

      - Ark