Character Creation Overview

Character Creation

Step One: Motivation and Intimacies

The first step in creating your character is to define his or her core motivation and the things that matter to her most. A beginning character should have no fewer than five Intimacies and may not have more than ten.

Step Two: Attributes (5/4/3)

Next prioritize the three broad categories of Attributes, Physical, Mental and Social and allocate attribute points to them (on top of the default one that every Attribute starts with) according to priority. Five points to your primary category, four points to your secondary and three points to your tertiary.

Step Three: Abilities (10/10)

Next select ten Abilities that your character possesses. Your character begins with 0 in each of these ten Abilities and do not suffer a non-proficiency penalty on dice-pools including them. You also gain ten points to divide among these abilities. Abilities that cost double to raise above a certain level with experience points similarly cost two points for each such dot when raised above that level at character creation. Remember a character cannot have a specialty in an ability they do not have, but can have specialties in an ability they have rated at 0.

Step Four: Advantages

Record starting willpower (3).

Step Five: Initial Experience points (30)

A character begins with thirty experience points which may be spent as part of character creation ignoring the normal training time for the associated traits, banked to spent later or any combination of the two. Generally these experience points are used to “round out” character creation shoring up Abilities and Attributes as needed and adding specialties to fulfill a character’s core concept as well as adding merits as desired. It is possible to increase the number of experience points gained at this stage with flaws.

 

Experience Point Costs

The following chart defines the experience point costs for raising or purchasing various traits. In addition to the experience point cost for raising a trait there is normally also a period of training. Usually measured in hours. Generally speaking the training time for a trait is spread out over a long period of time – a few hours a week or half an hour a day dedicated to the purist of the skill or improvement of their body until they achieve the desired result. The experience point cost is not paid until the trait is gained, but if their training is abandoned for too long (storyteller’s judgment) then their accumulated training is lost. The precise details of how long each trait takes to train is listed with the trait in question.

 

New Trait            Cost

Ability Specialty            1xp

Ability                2xp

Advanced Ability Specialty    3xp

Attribute Specialty        5xp

Attribute            6xp

Merit                Listed Cost

 

Increased Trait            Cost

Ability                new rating x2*

Willpower            new rating x3

Attribute            new rating x4

 

*certain abilities are “rarely raised above” a certain level. Such abilities cost double to raise above the listed level (that being new rating x4).

Introduction to Cybernetics

What follows is something of a random jumble – about half of the existing rules and write-ups for cybernetics. It’s only been given a single editing pass so take it a little with a grain of salt, but it should shed some light on how those sorts of things work in setting.

Cybernetics

While the most primitive form of limb replacements such as hooks and peg legs have existed since before humanity left earth, even the crudest modern replacement limbs beggar such creations. Given their violent lives, pirates tend towards comparatively common use of cybernetic replacement limbs, eyes and the like. Even among their ranks however devices that exist only for purposes of enhancement or voluntary limb replacements are rare.

 

Hacking Cybernetics

As noted in their descriptions most cybernetic implants have a task-optimized processor that is literally capable of little beyond running the hardware to which it is attached. Even if that doesn’t render most traditional attempts at hacking moot by law all man-machine interface chips have sophisticated hardware firewalls and virus screening that are effectively impossible to compromise. Even if such a system can be compromised somehow, then under normal circumstances the limit of what a hacker can achieve is to shut down the component – still potentially a crippling or even fatal problem for the hacked cyborg.

Chips cooked in illegal labs – such as the rare black ports that have some industrial capacity – might lack proper protections. In general if a character purchases black market cybernetics you can determine if they contain such hackable chips with a simply d10 roll, on a failed roll the component is hackable, on a success it contains legitimate components that render it effectively impervious to such attempts. If the character purchases the parts to build such cybernetics themselves on the black market then it’s a safe assumption they lack the proper protocols, unless the character carefully checks each part – possibly delaying construction until parts which possess the protocols are available.

Those rare cybernetics that contain more powerful and sophisticated computers – such as the Integrated Cybernetic Processor can be hacked in the same way that traditional computer systems can – and using the same rules.

Replacement Eye or Ear (External Cybernetic Implant)

At least as common among pirates as a replacement digit or limb having a crude cybernetic eye or artificial ear is a mainstay of many experienced corsairs. Each device provides an effective Perception [sight] or Perception [hearing] of 2. Character’s with one cybernetic eye and one natural eye (or various combinations of sensory organs) use the average rating of all their organs rounded up.

Like most cybernetics it has an onboard processor optimized only for its intended tasks and cannot be hacked. It has 0.3 memory blocs for firmware 0.1 of which is taken up with its basic operating system.

Having even one of these provides a -1 internal penalty on all dice pools based on Appearance [Sexuality] though having more than one does not increase this penalty and this overlaps with (does not stack) similar penalties (say from having a robot hand).

It normally costs fifty kilograms of gold to have an eye or ear replaced. This includes the price of the cybernetic surgery. Buying the devices wholesale costs about 20% less. Building one from scratch is a difficulty 4, Intelligence [reasoning] + (6) Engineering (Cybernetic) action requiring parts equal to half the cost of final product in value and taking twenty hours. Each success part the difficulty reduces the time taken by an hour to a minimum of one hour.

Surgery: 3/1 hl (2 hl)/ten hours.

Replacement Digit or Limb (External Cybernetic Implant)

An exceptionally common cybernetic among pirates (comparable to the peg legs and hook hands of their ancient nautical forbearers) these ugly robotic substitutes seldom provide a mechanical advantage over the flesh and blood original and are in fact frequently inferior. They provide an effective Strength [Power] rating of 2 and a Strength [Persistence] rating of 3. They have a Dexterity [precision] rating of 2 and if the character has only cybernetic limbs a Dexterity [agility] rating of 2 as well. If these are higher than the character’s natural ratings the difference is considered to be the appropriate Attribute specialty. They are lower than the character’s natural ratings then they replace them completely being made up of the most logical combination of traits (generally Dexterity 2, Strength 2 [Persistence +1]).

They also have the regular drawbacks of cybernetic devices including vulnerability to ion damage. These devices run on small rechargeable power-cells and when purchased – even from a pirate sawbones – tend to come with one replacement cell so the character can alternate charging. Their power requirements are normally quite small a kilowatt per day for a digit and three times that for an arm or four times that for a leg. Having even one of these provides a -1 internal penalty on all dice pools based on Appearance [Sexuality] though having more than one does not increase this penalty and this overlaps with (does not stack) similar penalties (say from having a robot eye).

Like most cybernetics it has an onboard processor optimized only for its intended tasks and cannot be hacked. It has 0.3 memory blocs for firmware 0.1 of which is taken up with its basic operating system.

It normally costs twenty kilograms of gold to have a hand or foot replaced, while an arm costs more in the region of thirty and a leg forty. This includes the price of the cybernetic surgery. Buying the devices wholesale costs about 20% less. Building one from scratch is a difficulty 3, Intelligence [reasoning] + (6) Engineering (Cybernetic) action requiring parts equal to half the cost of final product in value and taking ten hours. Each success part the difficulty reduces the time taken by an hour to a minimum of one hour.

Surgery: 2/1 hl (2 hl)/five hours.

Integrated Armor (External Cybernetic Implant)

The cyborg’s body has been rebuilt with armored parts. Perhaps their bones have flexible plates bolted to them, or they have a self-reweaving carbon fiber mesh spun under the lower layers of their dermis. Either way the result is the same, they gain +1L/1B soak that is treated as armor with no mobility penalty. Furthermore it stacks with armor worn in the traditional fashion. Having this implant imposes a -1 internal penalty on all dice pools based on Appearance [Sexuality] though this overlaps with (does not stack) similar penalties (say from having a robot hand).

It normally costs one hundred kilograms of gold to have this implant installed. This includes the price of the cybernetic surgery. Buying the implant wholesale costs about 20% less. Building one from scratch is a difficulty 2, Intelligence [reasoning] + (6) Engineering (Cybernetic) action requiring parts equal to half the cost of final product in value and taking ten hours. Each success part the difficulty reduces the time taken by an hour to a minimum of one hour.

Surgery: 2/1 hl (2 hl)/five hours

Integrated Micro-Fusion Power Plant (Internal Cybernetic Implant)

A favorite of dedicated cyborgs the galaxy over this component provides internal power for all of a character’s other cybernetic components, up to 100 kilowatts a day. The internal deuterium store provides steady power for about fifty years before needing to be replaced – a quick act which does not interrupt power output. Unlike most cybernetic components this device by default has ion shielding rendering it resilient to electromagnetic pulses or more focused electromagnetic attacks (it has ion soak of 5L/10B). It is a ‘safe’ reactor and cannot go critical without significant sabotage – sufficiently difficult that it’s impossible while it remains implanted.

It normally costs three hundred kilograms of gold to have this implant installed. This includes the price of the cybernetic surgery. Buying the implant wholesale costs about 20% less. Building one from scratch is a difficulty 4, Intelligence [reasoning] + (6) Engineering (Nuclear) action requiring parts equal to half the cost of final product in value and taking twenty hours. A character also needs at least one advanced specialty in Engineering (cybernetic) to complete the action. Each success part the difficulty reduces the time taken by an hour to a minimum of one hour.

Surgery: 3/2 hl (3 hl)/five hours

Integrated Cybernetic Processor (Internal Cybernetic Implant)

Very rare among pirates this high-end cybernetic replaces part of the brain giving the cyborg access to highly accurate real-time computational capability. In its default configuration it simply acts as a personal computer that only the cyborg can use and interact with. It can be used as a traditional single person computer – even to the point of playing computer games and the like – though this is a huge waste of its potential capabilities. With custom software – and especially interfaced with other cybernetic hardware it can provide a myriad of advantages to the user. As a computer it has the following characteristics; Power: 5; Memory: 10 blocs.

The device itself is fairly expensive – about one hundred kilograms of gold in value. Finding a cyber-surgeon with enough skill to actually install it is likely an exercise in role-playing, though in the Core Worlds or a major legitimate port the surgery can be found for about another hundred kilograms of gold.

Surgery: 4/1 hl (1 point of mental*)/ten hours

*failing the surgery roll inflicts brain damage permanently reducing one of the character’s mental attributes by one as a crippling effect.

Ion Shielding (Cybernetic Upgrade)

Cybernetics with this upgrade have hardened components, designed to withstand electromagnetic pulses and more directed electromagnetic attacks. Implants with this upgrade gain 1L/2B ion soak. Progressively more expensive upgrades can increase this to 2L/4B, 3L/6B or even higher.

Creating this upgrade from scratch is a difficulty 1, Intelligence [reasoning] + (6) Engineering (cybernetic) action which takes five hours. It requires parts of value equal to half the cost of the final upgrade. Each additional success reduces the time by one hour to a minimum of one hour. The difficulty increases by one per additional level of the upgrade, and a character cannot add more levels of soak than their Engineering (Cybernetic) or their technology level (whichever is lower). For example a character with (6) Engineering 2 (Cybernetic +3) cannot create shielding that provides more than 5L/10B ion soak, while a character with (6) Engineering 4 (Cybernetic +3) is limited to 6L/12B ion soak. Unlike other upgrades the cost multiplier of this upgrade is not cumulative – it simply adds the base price again for each level to the final cost.

Requires: Any cybernetic implant.

Sensor Emission Shielding (Cybernetic Upgrade)

Some cybernetic devices don’t emit the tell-tale electromagnetic signature of a technological device. They can even be designed to appear like flesh and blood to normal medical and weapons scans. Implants with this upgrade either do not appear or appear to be normal living tissue to scanning and sensor devices. This upgrade is almost always paired with Artificial Flesh Synthesis, since without it a simple visual inspection can determine a cyborg’s nature.

Creating this upgrade from scratch is a difficulty 3, Intelligence [reasoning] + (6) Engineering (cybernetic) action which takes five hours. It requires parts of value equal to half the cost of the final upgrade. Each additional success reduces the time by one hour to a minimum of one hour.

Unlike other upgrades the cost multiplier of this upgrade is not cumulative – it simply adds the base price again to the final cost.

Requires: Any cybernetic implant.

Artificial Flesh Synthesis (Cybernetic Upgrade)

Not all cybernetics are overtly mechanical in nature. This may be because they are cleverly designed to appear natural or because they are actually sheathed in synthetic flesh grown from the character’s own body. The character does not suffer the normal -1 Appearance [Sexuality] penalty for having an external cybernetic implant with this upgrade.

Creating this upgrade from scratch is a difficulty 2, Intelligence [reasoning] + (6) Engineering (cybernetic) action which takes five hours. It requires parts of value equal to half the cost of the final upgrade. Each additional success reduces the time by one hour to a minimum of one hour. Creating this upgrade also requires a rating of at least 3 in Art (cosmetics), Medicine (cosmetic) or Engineering (cloning).

Unlike other upgrades the cost multiplier of this upgrade is not cumulative – it simply adds half the base price to the final cost.

Requires: Any external cybernetic implant.

Enhanced Sensitivity (Cybernetic Upgrade)

Cyborg sensory organs sometimes provide superior sensory input. This is not a separate piece of equipment but a cost-and-quality increase for a replacement eye or ear. The resulting implant provides Perception [sight] or Perception [hearing] of 3. Progressively more expensive upgrades can increase this to 4 or higher.

Each level of this upgrade doubles the cost of the level before it (or the base cost if it’s the first one). So for example an incredible cybernetic eye that provides Perception [sight] 5, costs eight times the base cost of forty kilograms of gold – making the total cost three hundred and twenty kilograms of gold, plus ten for the surgery in a normal market.

Upgrades beyond five are considered military-grade technology and can only be purchase by character’s or agencies with the appropriate licenses. A black-market version might be available for three times that in a black port but finding such a thing would be an exercise in role-playing unless a character already have the appropriate Contact background merit – and even then beyond a certain point such things just aren’t available.

Building a superior sensor from scratch increases the difficulty by one per level of the upgrade, and a character cannot upgrade it beyond their Engineering (Cybernetic) or their technology level (whichever is lower). For example a character with (6) Engineering 2 (Cybernetic +2) cannot an eye that that provides more than Perception [sight] 4, while a character with (6) Engineering 4 (Cybernetic +3) is limited to Perception [sight] 6.

Requires: Cybernetic Sensory Organ.

Celerity Motivator (Cybernetic Upgrade)

Some cybernetic limbs respond more quickly and certainly to nerve input than their flesh and blood precursors did. This is not a separate piece of equipment but a cost-and-quality increase for an existing replacement limb (generally an arm though legs can theoretically have the upgrade as well). The resulting limb (and that limb only) has a Dexterity [precision] rating of 3. Progressively more expensive upgrades can increase this to 4, 5 or even 6 or higher. As with more basic limbs if these are higher than the character’s natural ratings the difference is considered to be the appropriate attribute specialty. They are lower than the character’s natural ratings then they replace them completely being made up of the most logical combination of traits. These artificial attribute specialties never count for qualifying for Attribute Edges (though other cybernetics can sometimes provide the same mechanical effect as various Edges). If a character has all cybernetic limbs with this upgrade then their Dexterity [Agility] is rated at the same level as the lowest Dexterity [precision] limb they possess.

Each level of this upgrade doubles the cost of the level before it (or the base cost if it’s the first one). So for example a cybernetic arm that provides Dexterity [precision] 4 costs quadruple the base cost of twenty-fix kilograms of gold – making the total cost one hundred and four kilograms of gold, plus six for the surgery in a normal market.

Upgrades beyond five are considered military-grade technology and can only be purchase by character’s or agencies with the appropriate licenses. A black-market version might be available for three times that in a black port but finding such a thing would be an exercise in role-playing unless a character already have the appropriate Contact background merit – and even then beyond a certain point such things just aren’t available.

Building such a superior limb from scratch increases the difficulty by one per level of the upgrade, and a character cannot upgrade any single attribute specialty beyond their Engineering (Cybernetic) or their technology level (whichever is lower). For example a character with (6) Engineering 2 (Cybernetic +3) cannot create a cybernetic limb with more than Dexterity [precision] 5, while a character with (6) Engineering 4 (Cybernetic +3) is limited to Dexterity [precision] 6.

Requires: Cybernetic Limb.

Hydraulic Enhancement (Cybernetic Upgrade)

Some cybernetic limbs have massive robotic strength compared to the puny flesh and blood they replaced. This is not a separate piece of equipment but a cost-and-quality increase for an existing replacement limb (generally an arm though legs can theoretically have the upgrade as well). The resulting limb (and that limb only) has a Strength [power] rating of 3. Progressively more expensive upgrades can increase this to 4, 5 or even 6 or higher. As with more basic limbs if these are higher than the character’s natural ratings the difference is considered to be the appropriate attribute specialty. They are lower than the character’s natural ratings then they replace them completely being made up of the most logical combination of traits. These artificial attribute specialties never count for qualifying for Attribute Edges (though other cybernetics can sometimes provide the same mechanical effect as various Edges).

Each level of this upgrade doubles the cost of the level before it (or the base cost if it’s the first one). So for example a cybernetic arm that provides Strength [power] 5 costs eight times the base cost of twenty-fix kilograms of gold – making the total cost two hundred and eight kilograms of gold, plus six for the surgery in a normal market.

Upgrades beyond five are considered military-grade technology and can only be purchase by character’s or agencies with the appropriate licenses. A black-market version might be available for three times that in a black port but finding such a thing would be an exercise in role-playing unless a character already have the appropriate Contact background merit – and even then beyond a certain point such things just aren’t available.

Building such a superior limb from scratch increases the difficulty by one per level of the upgrade, and a character cannot upgrade any single attribute specialty beyond their Engineering (Cybernetic) or their technology level (whichever is lower). For example a character with (6) Engineering 2 (Cybernetic +3) cannot create a cybernetic limb with more than Strength [power] 5, while a character with (6) Engineering 4 (Cybernetic +3) is limited to Strength [power] 6.

Requires: Cybernetic Limb.

Consumes: each upgrade level increases the limbs power requirements by 1 kilowatt per day.

Improved Heat Sinks (Cybernetic Upgrade)

Most cybernetic limbs have more consistent kinetic output than the average flesh and blood arm, but with superior heat sinks this performance can be further enhanced. This is not a separate piece of equipment but a cost-and-quality increase for an existing replacement limb (generally an arm though legs can theoretically have the upgrade as well). The resulting limb (and that limb only) has a Strength [persistence] rating of 4. Progressively more expensive upgrades can increase this to 5, 6 or even higher. As with more basic limbs if these are higher than the character’s natural ratings the difference is considered to be the appropriate attribute specialty. They are lower than the character’s natural ratings then they replace them completely being made up of the most logical combination of traits. These artificial attribute specialties never count for qualifying for Attribute Edges (though other cybernetics can sometimes provide the same mechanical effect as various Edges). If a character has all cybernetic limbs with this upgrade then their Strength [persistence] is rated at the same level as the lowest Strength [persistence] limb they possess.

Each level of this upgrade doubles the cost of the level before it (or the base cost if it’s the first one). So for example a cybernetic arm that provides Strength [persistence] 5 costs four times the base cost of twenty-fix kilograms of gold – making the total cost one hundred and four kilograms of gold, plus six for the surgery in a normal market.

Upgrades beyond five are considered military-grade technology and can only be purchase by character’s or agencies with the appropriate licenses. A black-market version might be available for three times that in a black port but finding such a thing would be an exercise in role-playing unless a character already have the appropriate Contact background merit – and even then beyond a certain point such things just aren’t available.

Building such a superior limb from scratch increases the difficulty by one per level of the upgrade, and a character cannot upgrade any single attribute specialty beyond their Engineering (Cybernetic) or their technology level (whichever is lower). For example a character with (6) Engineering 2 (Cybernetic +3) cannot create a cybernetic limb with more than Strength [persistence] 5, while a character with (6) Engineering 4 (Cybernetic +3) is limited to Strength [persistence] 6.

Requires: Cybernetic Limb.

All These Things Stack

The price of all upgrades applied to a single piece of cybernetic technology are cumulative. So for example the oft-mentioned cybernetic killing machine with hyper lethal artificial arms that have Dexterity [precision] 5, Strength [power] 5, and Strength [persistence] 5 (a total of 8 upgrades) pays 6,656 kilograms of gold for each arm (assuming he acquired them legitimately). Building such a limb from scratch takes fifty hours, and requires an Intelligence [reasoning] + (6) Engineering (Cybernetic) roll of difficulty 11 and consumes parts with 3,328 kilograms of gold – many of which may be difficult to get at the desired quality except on major worlds and from legitimate suppliers.

Energy-Scattering Armor (Cybernetic Upgrade)

Integrated armor can be laced with radio and photon scattering crystals allowing it to deflect attacks from energy weapons more easily. This is not a separate piece of equipment but a cost-and-quality increase for integrated armor. The resulting implant provides an additional +1L/1B soak against energy-weapons and attacks only. Progressively more expensive upgrades can increase this to +2L/2B or higher.

Each level of this upgrade doubles the cost of the level before it (or the base cost if it’s the first one). So for example an energy scattering skin weave that provides +1L/1B (+3L/3B vs. energy weapons) costs four times the base cost of eighty kilograms of gold – making the total cost three hundred and twenty kilograms of gold, plus twenty for the surgery in a normal market.

Any upgrade of this sort is considered military-grade technology and can only be purchase by character’s or agencies with the appropriate licenses. A black-market version might be available for three times that in a black port but finding such a thing would be an exercise in role-playing unless a character already have the appropriate Contact background merit – and even then beyond a certain point such things just aren’t available.

Building upgraded armor from scratch increases the difficulty by two per level of the upgrade, and a character cannot upgrade it beyond half their [Engineering (Cybernetic) -2] or half their [technology level -2] (whichever is lower). For example a character with (6) Engineering 2 (Cybernetic +2) cannot create armor that provides more than +1L/1B additional soak vs. energy, while a character with (6) Engineering 4 (Cybernetic +3) is limited to an additional +2L/2B.

Requires: Integrated Armor.

Hardened Armor (Cybernetic Upgrade)

Integrated armor can be reinforced and hardened to deflect more significant attacks. This is not a separate piece of equipment but a cost-and-quality increase for integrated armor. The resulting implant provides +2L/2B soak. Progressively more expensive upgrades can increase this to +3L/3B or higher.

Each level of this upgrade quadruples the cost of the level before it (or the base cost if it’s the first one). So for example subcutaneous body armor that provides +3L/3B costs sixteen times the base cost of eighty kilograms of gold – making the total cost one thousand two hundred and eighty kilograms of gold, plus twenty for the surgery in a normal market.

Any upgrade of this sort is considered military-grade technology and can only be purchase by character’s or agencies with the appropriate licenses. A black-market version might be available for three times that in a black port but finding such a thing would be an exercise in role-playing unless a character already have the appropriate Contact background merit – and even then beyond a certain point such things just aren’t available.

Building upgraded armor from scratch increases the difficulty by two per level of the upgrade, and a character cannot upgrade it beyond half their Engineering (Cybernetic) or half their technology level (whichever is lower). For example a character with (6) Engineering 2 (Cybernetic +2) cannot create armor that provides more than +2L/2B soak, while a character with (6) Engineering 4 (Cybernetic +3) is limited to +3L/3B.

Requires: Integrated Armor.

Commercial-Grade Cyborg Virus and Firewall (software)

This software package is normally installed by default in Integrated Cybernetic Processors used by non-military cyborgs, though black market Integrated Cybernetic Processors may lack it when purchased. It provides hacking defense and virus protection at (Power) with a maximum rating of 5 (see rules for hacking and computer software). Aside from being optimized for use in cybernetics instead of traditional computers it resembles the software that large corporations use to protect their mundane computer assets.

Developing such software from scratch is a difficulty 3, Intelligence [reasoning] + Computer (Programing) action that takes fifty hours to complete. Each success over the difficulty reduces that by one hour to a minimum of one hour. For each dot less than 3 the character has in Computer (Hacking) the resulting software loses one point from the bonus it provides to a minimum of -3. The maximum hacking defense and virus protection the software can offer is equal to the character’s Computer (Programing) trait.

Requires: Power 1.

Consumes: 1 memory blocs.

Military-Grade Cyborg Virus and Firewall (software)

This software package is normally installed by default in Integrated Cybernetic Processors used by military cyborgs, though black market Integrated Cybernetic Processors may lack it when purchased even if they were ‘salvaged’ from such sources. It provides hacking defense and virus protection at an astonishing (Power +3) difficulty with no upper limit (see rules for hacking and computer software).

Such software is restricted to military personal under normal circumstances and agencies or people with appropriate licenses can purchase a copy for approximately two hundred and fifty kilograms of gold. A pirated copy might be available for three times that in a black port but finding such a thing would be an exercise in role-playing unless a character already have the appropriate Contact background merit. Developing such software from scratch is a difficulty 6, Intelligence [reasoning] + Computer (Programing) action that takes fifty hours to complete. Each success over the difficulty reduces that by one hour to a minimum of one hour. However for each dot less than 6 the character has in Computer (Hacking) the resulting software loses one point from the bonus it provides to a minimum of -3. Characters with less than 7 in Computer (Programing) cannot write software with an unlimited cap instead being limited to a maximum protection level equal to their Computer (Programing) trait. Such military-grade software requires exceptional ability to create.

Requires: Power 2.

Consumes: 1 memory blocs.

Dynamic Firmware Manager (software)

A software package for a character’s Integrated Cybernetic Processor that allows it to provide additional firmware memory to their other cybernetic components. Effectively they may allocate any amount of the memory from their Integrated Cybernetic Processor to any cybernetic component that uses firmware allowing more and larger firmware upgrades. Such software can be purchased for approximately ten kilograms of gold.

Developing such software from scratch is a difficulty 2, Intelligence [reasoning] + Computer (Programing) action that takes five hours to complete. Each success over the difficulty reduces that by one hour to a minimum of one hour.

Requires: Power 1.

Consumes: 0 memory blocs (though memory allocated to firmware is unavailable for software).

Battle Processor: Initiative (software)

A software package for a character’s integrated cybernetic processor that allows it to recognize threats more quickly than the character’s organic mind and forward such warnings to their cognitive cortex. It provides a +3 bonus on join battle rolls (or +5 if the character’s integrated cybernetic processor is directly connected to a sensor such as a cybernetic eye).

Such software is restricted to military personal under normal circumstances and agencies or people with appropriate licenses can purchase a copy for approximately fifty kilograms of gold. A pirated copy might be available for three times that in a black port but finding such a thing would be an exercise in role-playing unless a character already have the appropriate Contact background merit.

Developing such software from scratch is a difficulty 4, Intelligence [reasoning] + Computer (Programing) action that takes fifty hours to complete. Each success over the difficulty reduces that by one hour to a minimum of one hour. However for each dot less than 6 the character has in Computer (Programing) the resulting software loses one dice from the bonus it provides to a minimum of 1. Such military-grade software requires exceptional ability to create.

Requires: Power 4.

Consumes: 3 memory blocs.

Battle Processor: Vector Analysis (software)

A software package for a character’s integrated cybernetic processor that allows it to calculate the vectors of incoming attacks and quickly plot out an intercept. It raises the character’s parry defensive value by 1 (or by 2 if connected directly to a sensor such as a cybernetic eye or if it is directly connected to a cybernetic limb being used to effect the parry. If it is connected both to a sensor and a cybernetic limb effecting the parry then it provides a massive +3 bonus).

Such software is restricted to military personal under normal circumstances and agencies or people with appropriate licenses can purchase a copy for approximately seventy-five kilograms of gold. A pirated copy might be available for three times that in a black port but finding such a thing would be an exercise in role-playing unless a character already have the appropriate Contact background merit.

Developing such software from scratch is a difficulty 4, Intelligence [reasoning] + Computer (Programing) action that takes fifty hours to complete. Each success over the difficulty reduces that by one hour to a minimum of one hour. However for each dot less than 6 the character has in Computer (Programing) the resulting software loses one point from the bonus it provides to a minimum of 1. Such military-grade software requires exceptional ability to create.

Requires: Power 2.

Consumes: 1 memory bloc.

Battle Processor: Evasion (software)

A software package for a character’s integrated cybernetic processor allowing it to calculate shooting angles in real-time and automatically program evasive action into the character’s legs while feeding a false input into their cognitive cortex giving them the impression that the evasive movement was a voluntary action (which allows them to smoothly incorporate it into their existing actions without penalty). The upshot of this incredibly advanced piece of software is that the character using it is capable of evading attacks that are normally undodgable due to speed (such as particle and bullet fire). It is ineffective against attacks that are undodgeable due to scope (such as explosions).

Such software is restricted to military personal under normal circumstances and agencies or people with appropriate licenses can purchase a copy for approximately one hundred kilograms of gold. A pirated copy might be available for three times that in a black port but finding such a thing would be an exercise in role-playing unless a character already have the appropriate Contact background merit.

Developing such software from scratch is a difficulty 4, Intelligence [reasoning] + Computer (Programing) action that takes fifty hours to complete. Each success over the difficulty reduces that by one hour to a minimum of one hour. However for each dot less than 6 the character has in Computer (Programing) the resulting software inflicts a -1 penalty on DV’s that would be inapplicable without it to a minimum of 0 – such military grade software requires exceptional ability to create.

Requires: Power 3, Cybernetic sensor capable of detecting targeting angles (a cybernetic eye will do, but internal sonar and the like also works), both (or all) legs cybernetic.

Consumes: 2 memory blocs.

Optimized Operation: [Weapon] Handling (firmware)

A firmware package designed to be included in a cybernetic hand or arm which programs it with routines for quicker and steadier handling of a particular weapon such as a Vibrosaber or a Particle Magnum. When wielding the appropriate weapon with the upgraded limb the character gains a phantom specialty in that weapon. It stacks with other specialties normally including the limit of three dice total that can be added by specialties. This firmware upgrade can be installed multiple times.

Developing such software from scratch is a difficulty 2, Intelligence [reasoning] + Computer (Programing) action that takes ten hours to complete. Each success over the difficulty reduces that by one hour to a minimum of one hour.

Requires: Cybernetic hand (including a cybernetic arm which traditionally also replaces the hand).

Consumes: 0.1 memory blocs.

Data Filtering: [Sensory] Overload Protection (firmware)

A firmware package designed to be included in a cybernetic sensory organ which programs it to filter stimulation which would otherwise stun or distract the character to manageable levels. Even if the character retains flesh and blood organs that provide the same sense (such as a character with one natural eye and one cybernetic eye) the nerve interface allows this firmware to function effectively. The charcter becomes immune to sensory attacks based on the appropriate sense. Developing such software from scratch is a difficulty 3, Intelligence [reasoning] + Computer (Programing) action that takes ten hours to complete. Each success over the difficulty reduces that by one hour to a minimum of one hour.

Requires: Cybernetic sensory organ that provides the appropriate sense.

Consumes: 0.2 memory blocs.

Combat Will Get You Killed

Here are some of the combat rules used in this system. Note that compared to other Storyteller 2 games you may be familiar with, say Exalted, getting overwhelmed by superior numbers is a significantly greater hazard in this system while soak is comparatively a much better defense.

Pushing Through The Pain

A character can spent a point of Willpower to reduce their Wound penalties by half their Fortitude (rounded down) for Stamina x10 ticks. Outside of combat this is measured in long ticks.

Example:
A character takes four levels of damage, putting them in their -2 health levels. They have Stamina 3 and Fortitude 2 so they spend a willpower to push through the pain, reducing their Wound penalty from -2 to -1 for the next thirty ticks.

Moving Target

A moving target is much more difficult to hit with ranged attacks. If a character is moving at faster than their attacker’s Wits meters per tick then they are considered a moving target. If a moving target is within a ranged weapon’s normal range increment the attacker suffers a -1 internal penalty to hit. At greater ranges the range penalty is doubled. If a character is Dashing then they are counted at the range they start their dash action at for purposes of this penalty even if they are closer by the time they are attacked. Moving character’s do not gain this advantage even if they Move quite quickly.

Example:
A character raises their particle magnum against an opponent charging them down a corridor. Their attacker is taking a Dash action at six meters per tick – much higher than the character’s two wits – making them a moving target. Because they started their Dash outside the particle magnum’s range increment of ten meters (the corridor is twenty meters long) the character suffers a -2 internal penalty (-1 for a range of more than 10 meters and less than 20 meters doubled for a moving target) on attacks against the target until the end of their Dash – even if they are within 10 meters by that point.

Onslaught

Every attack that a character is subjected to before their DV’s refresh applies a cumulative Onslaught Penalty of 1 to their applicable Defensive Value. This penalty only applies if the character actually applies their DV against it, attacks that simply fail due to insufficient dice, external penalties or simply failure to score any successes does not count towards the number of attacks and the Onslaught Penalty.

Example:
A character acts on Tick 3 of an ongoing melee, making a speed 3 Guard action. On tick 3 they are subjected to a melee attack from one of their opponents, they meet this attack with their full dodge or parry DV. On tick 4 they are subjected to two attacks by separate opponents, whichever attack is resolved first imposes a -1 onslaught penalty, and whichever attack is resolved second imposes a -2 onslaught penalty. On tick 5 they are attacked twice by a single opponent using a flurry. The first attack imposes a -3 onslaught penalty and the second a -4 onslaught penalty. If they are still alive by Tick 6 when their DV refreshes all onslaught penalties reset to 0 at the same time and the next attack they are subjected to will be met by their full DV (minus whatever Wound penalties and other factors might apply of course).

Simultaneous Attack Penalty

Every attack that a character suffers on the same tick imposes a Simultaneous Attack penalty on their applicable DV’s equal to the total number of attacks landing that tick. Attacks that cause a Simultaneous Attack penalty also cause the character to accumulate Onslaught penalties and both can apply to the same attack. Attacks made in a flurry only count as a single attack for purposes of Simultaneous Attack penalties. This penalty only applies if the character actually applies their DV against a given attack, attacks that simply fail due to insufficient dice, external penalties or simply failure to score any successes does not count towards the number of attacks and the Simultaneous Attack penalty.

Example:
A character is caught in a crossfire between three attackers throwing knives while taking a Guard action. They have light cover imposing a +1 external difficulty on their attackers and respond to all three attacks with their dodge DV. The first attacker rolls two successes, the second a single success and the third three successes. The character suffers a -2 Simultaneous Attack penalty against the first and third attacks (the middle one missed due to the external penalty of their cover and doesn’t count towards the penalty). The third attack also carries a -1 Onslaught penalty.

Reach

It is difficult to avoid or deflect melee attacks made against you when the opponent’s weapon has a greater reach. Melee weapons frequently have a Reach # tag. The number following the tag is the penalty defenders suffer on their own DV’s against attacks made with such weapons. This penalty is reduced by the reach tag value of their own melee weapon to a minimum of 0. Note, some melee weapons (such as a Graviton Hammer) are too slow or clumsy to impose or offset this penalty despite their large size and lack the reach tag. A character attempting to fire a ranged weapon at a target who is or has just attacked them with a melee weapon suffers the reach as an internal penalty on their own attacks until their DV refreshes – it’s extremely difficult to shoot a man who is plunging at sword into your chest.

Example:
A character charges down a ranged attacker and slashes at their heart with a vibrosaber. The opponent, armed only with a particle magnum which is of little use in hand-to-hand fighting suffers a -2 reach penalty to their Dodge DV as they try to roll out of the way.

Undodgeable or Unblockable Attacks

Some attacks simply cannot be dodged or blocked by any natural means. A character might be able to snatch a thrown knife from the air if they are very quick or knock an arrow aside with a sword, but bullets and projected energy attacks are simply too quick to have any possibility of being avoided once launched. Character’s cannot apply their DV against such attacks at all (meaning they also don’t count towards Onslaught or Simultaneous Attack penalties) and must generally rely on external penalties (such as cover) and soak to protect themselves against such attacks.

Soak

Soak is the basic difficulty of an opponent’s damage roll. Any successes scored beyond the final difficulty are applied to the character’s Health Levels as damage.

Example:
A Particle Magnum blast strikes a character wearing heavy armor in the shoulder. The Particle Magnum is set to lethal and the attack scored two additional attack successes making the total damage 12L. The attacker rolls seven success. Because the damage is lethal the target has no natural soak and purely relies on the 6L soak of their armor which negates six of the seven successes – turning what would have been an instantly deadly wound into some heat burns and some minor carbon scoring on the outside of the armor.

Putting it all together

So for example. Let’s say that Eon Strayder and Boss Gears are breeching the inner airlock of a target ship, while four merchant marines await them in the inner corridor prepared to defend their ship. For purposes of this example we’ll say that Boss Gears has Strength 4, Dexterity 2, Close Combat 1 (+2 hammers) is wearing heavy armor that he has scrapped together from the salvage of several takes (6L soak and Mobility -3) and a join battle pool of 4. Strayder on the other hand has Dexterity 4, Strength 2, Close Combat 2 (+2 fencing), three levels of the fencing skill merit and a join battle dice pool of 5. The marines on the other hand consist of three green recruits on their first voyage (Dexterity 2, Marksmanship 2 and a +1 specialty in their particle magnums and join battle of 3) and one more experienced marine leading them (Dexterity 2, Marksmanship 2 and a +2 specialty in his particle magnum and join battle of 4). They are set up at the other end of the corridor, twelve meters from the inner airlock.

As the breeching charge finally explodes, filling the hallway with smoke and clearing the way into the ship everyone rolls join battle. Strayder scores a 3, Gears a 1, the green marines score a 2 (they use the same roll) and the experienced marine also scores a 2, meaning Strayder will act on Tick 0, the marines on Tick 1 and Gears Tick 2.

On Tick 0 Strayder charges into the enemy ship taking a Speed 3 Dash action. His Move in a Dash is six meters per tick and by tick 1 he is halfway down the corridor.

On tick 1 the inexperienced marines unload their particle magnums at Strayder hoping to gun down the dashing pirate before he can reach them with his vibrosaber! They are already in position stabilizing their shots with their off hands which makes the base accuracy of their attacks 2 (their dice pool of 5, the particle magnum’s accuracy of -4, and +1 for being stabilized) since Strayder is a Moving Target however (six meters a tick is much more than their two wits) who started his Dash outside their range increment (he was at 12 meters when he started running) they suffer an additional -2 penalty (-1 for being at more than 10 meters – the range increment of a particle magnum – doubled for a moving target) reducing them to 0 dice and causing their attacks to scorch the corridor wildly around Strayder without actually hitting.

The experienced marine on the other hand begins an Aim action raising his particle magnum with the full intention of blasting Strayder in the face at point blank range! Seeing the danger Strayder throws himself flat against the wall behind some sort of conduit (he’s technically still Dashing he’s just diverted to a different end point – one about halfway down the corridor) his next action will still be on Tick 3. At this point Strayder has medium cover imposing a +2 external penalty on attacks against him – at least until he leaves that position.

On Tick 2 Boss Gears, roaring as he raises his Graviton Hammer begins his own charge down the corridor. Gears has a Move of six meters per tick in a Dash even in his heavy armor (he has massively strong legs!). The experienced marine aborts his Aim against Strayder and coolly switches to the new target, beginning a new Aim action against Boss Gears on Tick 2.

On Tick 3 Gears is halfway down the corridor and once again the inexperienced marines unload a hail of particle magnum fire at the pirate charging them and once again they have an effective dice pool of 0 and their shots burn ineffectively around the target while the experienced marine curses and quips at them to hold fire until they are sure of their shots. Suiting his own words he unleashes his own attack against Gears. He has a base dice pool of 6, reduced to 2 by the particle magnum’s -4 accuracy, it is increased back to 3 by his steadying offhand and up to 4 by his one tick Aim action, and then back down to 2 because Gears is charging from outside his range increment and hasn’t ended his Dash action yet. Still the particle magnum’s attacks can neither be dodged nor blocked and encumbered by all that heavy armor and wielding such a slow and clumsy weapon Gears isn’t great at dodging or blocking anyway. The experienced marine rolls well, scoring two successes, giving him a raw damage of 12 dice. Again he rolls well scoring eight successes. Even less the formidable soak of gears patchwork armor the lethal blast still sears the brawny pirate for two levels of lethal damage. Gears spends a point of Willpower to “push through the pain” reducing the -1 wound penalty he is now suffering to 0 for the next 30 ticks.

Seeing his moment Strayder however Moves from his position flurrying a Dash and an attack with his vibrosaber against the experienced marine. His Dash has a speed of 3, while his vibrosaber attack has a Speed of 4 meaning that Strayder’s DV will refresh on Tick 7. Since he is six meters away and Dashes at six meters a tick he will resolve his attack on Tick 4.

By Tick 4 Gears has reached the enemy marines, but is still getting into position for his attack (his Speed 3 Dash action doesn’t end until Tick 5 and he didn’t flurry). The experienced marine is still pulling his particle magnum back into position after losing a Speed 2 shot on Tick 3 as are the inexperienced marines.

Strayder on the other hand slashes at the experienced marine’s heart! His base accuracy is 9 (including his vibrosaber’s accuracy) but he is taking the second action in his flurry with imposes a -3 penalty. Still the experienced marine’s normal dodge DV of 3 is reduced to 2 by his own action (he’s DV hasn’t refreshed from the shot he just fired) and by a further 1 for the mobility penalty of his own armor. Worse he isn’t holding a melee weapon and as an experienced fencer Strayder increases the already formidable reach penalty of his vibrosaber from 2 to 3 easily reducing the marine’s effective DV to 0 (it would be -2 if they could go that low). Strayder scores four successes, giving him a raw damage of 12. He rolls seven successes. Normally the marines light armor would give him 2 lethal soak against the attack but the vibrosaber’s agitant blade reduces this by 2 (to 0), light armor is no defense against a full-sized vibro-weapon! Strayder kills the marine with one swift strike.

Tick 5 arrives and Gears swings his graviton hammer down at the first target he sees while the desperate marine wildly shoots up at him. With no range penalty and a stabilizing hand the marine rolls two dice against Gears scoring two successes (the attack still cannot be dodged or blocked). He scores six successes on his raw damage roll of 12 dice, but this is simply not enough to penetrate Gear’s patchwork armor – the heat from the blast stings a little but does no actual harm. Gears in turn brings his graviton hammer down upon the hapless marine. He scores three successes on his five dice attack. The marine applies his dodge DV of 1 as he attempts to roll out of the way (his normal dodge DV is 2 reduced by 1 for the mobility penalty of his light armor. He won’t suffer the penalty for his own action until after he and Gears have resolved their simultaneous actions). This leaves Gears with two additional attack successes, and a raw damage of 22B. Gears opts to apply his “Lethal Blows” Strength Edge making the damage 22L instead. He scores fourteen successes against the marine’s soak of 2 – more than enough to crush the man dead and gone in a single blow, spraying blood and gore all over Gear’s hammer and armor with the sheer ferocity of the blow.

Of the two remaining marines one of them fire’s off a desperate shot at Strayder. His dice pool is two however Strayder is still a moving target (his Dash doesn’t end until Tick 6) though he moved from inside the particle magnum’s range increment so this only imposes a -1 penalty on the attack leaving one die. The marine rolls a 4 – not enough to hit – and Strayder feels the heat of the blast wash past his face as it harmlessly scorches the wall. The other marine drop’s his particle magnum – pirates keep prisoners don’t they? Sometimes they let the crew go once they have taken the cargo so long as they don’t resist right?

Tick 6 comes and goes Strayder is still pulling his vibrosaber from the dead marine’s chest (he’s no longer dashing but he doesn’t act against until Tick 7), Gears is lifting his ponderous hammer from the pile of guts he turned the other marine into (he won’t act against until Tick 11). The marine who surrendered is still taking his Speed 5 miscellaneous “put my hands on my head” action until Tick 10, and the last marine is pulling his particle magnum back into place from his speed 2 shot on Tick 5.

On Tick 7 Strayder almost casually finishes off the marine who is still armed. The man tries to shoot him at the same moment but Strayder’s effective reach of 3 reduces his dice pool of 2 to 0 making the shot worthless. On the other hand Strayder scores six successes on his attack dice pool of 9. This makes his raw damage 14. He scores eight successes and with his vibrosaber’s powered blade again negating the light armor’s effect he easily kills the man.

On Tick 10 the surrendering marine takes a Speed 3 Guard action – still with his hands behind his head.

By Tick 11 Strayder and Gears both act again, and Gears raises his hammer to crush the remaining marine – despite the man’s surrender – but Strayder calls him off. The man can lead them to the most valuable loot after all.

Martial Arts: Fencing

A peek at a topic near and dear to the black hearts of many a pirate!

Martial Arts: Fencing (2 to 10xp skill merit)

The character is skilled at wielding a light agile (but not short) blade in combat. The style focuses on agility, speed and carefully seeking an opening in their opponent’s defenses until they make a fatal mistake. Each level of this merit cost 2xp and provides the advantages of the levels before it in addition to their own. As with most skill merits characters can train this trait during the course of play with an appropriate teacher. The first three dots require a month of training time (300 hours) each – though this is normally spread out over a few hours a week, extending the training time over much longer periods. The last two dots require three months of training time each (900 hours) though again, it’s commonly spread out over a longer period of time.

•    Beginner: The character has learned enough skill to leverage the advantages of their blade against opponents who lack a similar advantage. Against unarmed characters or characters not armed with melee weapons they raise the normal reach advantage from 2 to 3.

••    Student: The character has learned not to drop their guard. They reduce the normal penalty to their own DVs from making attacks with a fencing weapon by 1 to a minimum of 0.

•••    Practiced: The character has sufficient practice with the parry and riposte to use the maneuver in lethal confrontations. When they successfully apply their parry defense value against another fencing weapon they immediately apply the difference between the attack and their DV as the successes on a reflexive counterattack with their own weapon.

••••    Master: The character may attempt a lethal feint, rolling their Manipulation [Deception] + Close Combat (Fencing Weapons) against a difficulty of half their opponents Wits + Close Combat (rounded up). If the roll is successful they immediately make a reflexive unexpected attack against the target at their full normal dice pool.

•••••   Savant: The character’s skill allows him to defeat lesser opponents with almost casual ease. When attempting to make a disarm using a fencing weapon they ignore the normal +2 difficulty.

Pirate Crews and Pirate Codes

Pirates are viciously democratic (perhaps unsurprising given that most of them have their origin as mutineers rising up against the oppressive tyranny of traditional shipboard discipline and the driving ambition of the large stellar nations). Recognizing the need for at least some discipline in shipboard operations then pirate crews still have officers but they are elected from among the crew and a vote of no-confidence (and hence in effect a new election) can be called at any time the ship and crew are not in combat and by any member of the crew. In practice the ardor of would-be agitators is somewhat tempered by the fact that officers who retain their positions often look dimly on those who tried to remove them… unless there was enough reason for the crew at large to think the question of their competence or honesty valid.

The precise composition of officers varies from ship to ship and code to code, but generally resembles something like this.

Captain

Quartermaster (sometimes called the First Mate or First Officer).

Chief Engineer/Head Enginer/Boss

First Reaver/Chief Reaver/Etc (commands boarding parties, the equivalent of the Marine Captain on a military vessel).

Boatswain

Navigator

Common variations include the First Officer being a separate officer than the Quartermaster (making the quartermaster third in command) – a common variation on very large crews. The Chief Engineer and the Boatswain being the same station – common on very small crews. Sometimes the First Reaver is also the first Officer (though never the quartermaster – especially if the quartermaster serves as the first officer as well, as is common). Some crews also add a Trusthsayer whose job it is to enforce the crew’s adherence to the code, up to and including the Captain himself and to ensure that the officers do not sweep the concerns of the crew under the rug.

Each pirate crew is governed by a code of conduct, normally set when the crew first forms (generally in the form of a mutiny). Some crews have been operating so long that none of the founding members remain with them in which case the code of conduct normally takes on an almost mystical significance. Younger crews sometimes modify or tweak theirs, though such actions are normally contentious and are sometimes held to be invalid unless every member of the crew ratifies the change. Of course being the single hold out can be unhealthy.

An example of a common code of conduct used the pirates who sail the ghost stars is;

I. Every member has a vote in affairs of moment; has equal access to the fresh provisions (including any luxury foods or booze). Such provisions seized from other ships are to be placed in the common store. The only exception is if the crew ‘votes a scarcity’ which can only be receded by another vote. Under such conditions the quartermaster shall see to the distribution of such stores.

II. Every member must keep their weapons clean and fit for service.

III. To desert the ship or their quarters in battle, is punished with death or marooning.

IV. No striking one another on board. Every members quarrels to be ended on planet or at station by a duel if needs be. (The quartermaster of the ship oversees the duel when the parties will not come to any reconciliation). Such duels are not normally to the death, but decide whatever issue is under contention for all time. In crews with a Truthsayer he or she oversees duels instead.

V. No member is to talk of breaking up their way of living (that being pirates), till each had shared five thousand kilograms of gold by value. If in order to this, any man should lose a limb, or become a cripple in their service, he to have provided appropriate replacements (normally cybernetic) paid for out of the public stock.

VI. The captain, first reaver and the quartermaster (and the first mate if separate) are to have three shares from every take, all other officers two shares, and the rest of the crew one share unless they are non-combatants (such as cooks and the like) who take a half-share.

 

 

Pirate Specific Merits

Merits

The following additional merits are available to pirate characters.

Pirate Officer (10 experience point merit)

The character is an officer on their crew, holding the position of Boatswain, Chief Engineer, Navigator or a similar post. In addition to authority over a critical field of endeavor aboard their ship they receive private quarters and two shares of every take. In exchange for these advantages however they are expected to take responsibility for their area authority. Normally a character must have a certain degree of competency in the area governed by their office to justify this merit – it’s difficult to image a crew Boss without Engineering dice pools of at least 5-6. A character could theoretically have this merit without meeting this requirement but unless they are exceptionally good at protecting their position another way they shouldn’t expect to keep it long. The default assumption for a character who beings play with this merit is that they have the nominal support of their crew – just enough to have been awarded their position with no guarantee they will keep it. Characters who lose their position on their crew over the course of play are not refunded the experience points for this merit, but nor do they have to pay them again if they regain a position as an officer later. Because former officers can be a discipline problem on pirate crews (already something they don’t excel at) they tend to have short life expectancies however, unless they leave the crew at their next port and go somewhere they are not known.

The natural leader Charisma Edge reduces the cost of this merit to 5xp.

Major Pirate Officer (Pirate Officer + 5 experience point merit)

The character is the quartermaster, first reaver, first mate or the like of their crew. In addition to the benefits of the Officer merit they gain three shares of every take. Each such officer also takes personal responsibility for some aspect of their crew’s well-being and operations. The first reaver for example is expected to enter an enemy vessel first when boarding, taking the greatest risk. In addition to the basic requirement for competency a character normally must have some additional merits to justify this merit – a first reaver for example might have the personal support of the most competent reavers on the crew in the form of the Henchmen merit. A Quartermaster on the other hand might have the Contact: Reliable Fence merit instead. As with the Officer merit, a character could theoretically have this merit without meeting these additional requirements but again unless they are exceptionally good at protecting their position another way they shouldn’t expect to keep it long.

The natural leader Charisma Edge reduces the cost of this merit to 3xp.

Pirate Captain (Major Pirate Officer + 5 experience point merit)

The character is the captain of their crew – a much less meaningful title than in private or military crews. While it entitles them to the captain’s quarters, three shares of every take as well as first pick for what their share constitutes and the expectation of absolute obedience during combat situations they are more a steward, responsible for their crew’s fortunes than the master and commander of their vessel. A character expecting to keep their position as Captain of a ship for long should expect to need additional traits in the same vein as a Major Officer, save that their position is even more difficult to maintain than even the Quartermaster or First Reaver. As ultimately the captain is responsible for providing the crew with scores the Contact: Corrupt Portsman merit is a useful one.

The natural leader Charisma Edge reduces the cost of this merit to 3xp.

Contact: Reliable Fence (5-20 experience point background merit)

The character has cultivated a personal relationship with a particular fence. Under normal circumstances they can expect the fence to deal with them fairly and consistently get 50% of the value of their legitimate goods when they sell them to their contact. Every additional 5 experience points spent on this merit increases the price they can expect to receive on sales by 5% to a maximum of 65% of their retail value. An additional advantage to this Merit is that a fence will expect to see the character when dealing with their crew and unless another member of the crew similarly possesses this Merit the crew will receive less favorable prices (generally 45% or lower) until their contact is satisfied that they are unharmed.

A character can have their merit multiple times each representing a relationship with a separate fence.

Contact: Corrupt Portsman (5-15 experience point background merit)

The character has a source for information that provides them specific and detailed information on potential scores – courses and schedules as well as an idea of the cargo and defenses. Generally such a character expects a bribe in exchange for such information – a full share to come out of the character’s own booty. And will only pass such information along in person. If a character spends an additional 5xp on this merit their contact only requires a half-share in exchange for their information, while if they are a 15xp merit they require only a nominal bribe – a single token from each take.

A character can have their merit multiple times each representing a relationship with a separate portsman.

Attribute Edges

This a preview of one of the core mechanics of the system for this game – Attribute Edges. The list of Edges below is truncated the full system contains a much larger set of specific Edges

Edges

When a character has an attribute rated at 4+ they gain an Edge in that attribute. A character’s Attribute specialties count towards qualifying for Edges as well as for the number of Edges they gain automatically, however only their highest attribute specialty applies to the later. A character gains another edge in each attribute rated at 5 and the pattern continues for characters with super-human attributes. Some Edges require higher levels of attributes to select, or that the character already has a similar, though lesser Edge.

See also (FX Edges and FX Attributes).

Strength Edges

Lethal Blows (Strength [Power] 4+): The character can choose to do lethal or bashing damage with their close combat attacks so long as the attack’s basic damage is bashing.

Pack Mule (Strength [Persistence] 4+): The character can carry twice as much weight without being considered encumbered.

Dexterity Edges

Fleetness (Dexterity [Agility] 4+): The character’s natural agility allows them to perform hurdles or otherwise avoid obstacles in their path adroitly. When navigating difficult terrain the character reduces the Speed penalty by 2.

Surgical Prodigy (Dexterity [Precision] 4+): The character halves the time required for all surgical tasks.

Stamina Edges

Hardy (Stamina [Endurance] 4+): The character gains a natural lethal soak equal to half their natural bashing soak (rounded down). This also comes with Lethal Hardness equal to half their lethal soak (rounded down).

Resistant (Stamina [Resistance] 4+): The character treats the Tolerance value of all poisons and drugs as one higher than listed.

Perception Edges

Scent Tracking (Perception [Taste and Smell] 4+): The character has the ability to track somewhat like a dog does by following the trail of smell left behind by the subject. Tracking rolls that would normally be inapplicable due to hard ground are considered a valid action for the character at a +2 external penalty.

Bloodhound (Perception [Taste and Smell] 5+, Scent Tracking): The character ignores the +2 external penalty when tracking by scent.

Longshot (Perception [Sight] 4+): The character doubles the range increment of their direct ranged attacks.

Intelligence Edges

Polyglot (Intelligence [Memory] 4+): The character halves the training time and experience point cost for the Speak Language merit.

Polymath (Intelligence [Memory] 4+): The character halves the training time and experience point cost for raising the Academics ability above 2 (reducing it to the normal level).

Intuitive Gadgeteer (Intelligence [Reasoning] 4+): The character halves the time required for all Engineering tasks.

Wits Edges

Canny (Wits [Insight] 4+): When targeted by a failed social attack based on Manipulation [Deception] the character recognizes the disingenuous nature of the attack even if it wasn’t a botch. They do not gain the supernatural power to determine the nature of the deception however, they simply have a hunch that the attacker’s intentions were not honest. They do not recognize deception of course if the social attack is successful.

Initiative (Wits [Savvy] 4+): The character reduces their Reaction Count by 1 to a minimum of 0 when resolving Join Battle rolls.

Charisma Edges

Natural Leader (Charisma [Magnetism] 4+): The character halves the experience point cost of ratifying Followers, Henchmen and Command merits.

Persuasive (Charisma [Forceful] 4+): The force of the character’s personality makes his arguments difficult to dismiss. The Willpower cost to resist their natural mental influence is increased by 1 to a maximum of 5.

Manipulation Edges

Crocodile Tears (Manipulation [Deception] 4+): The character is especially adroit at falsifying their own emotions. When making a social attack designed to inspire a particular Emotion in the subject they gain the full +3 Emotion bonus to their own dice pools without actually being under the appropriate Emotion or suffering the normal drawbacks.

Misdirection (Manipulation [Subtlety] 4+): When they attempt to make a surprise Social Attack and fail their target does not automatically become aware of the attempt to influence them (or its nature).

Appearance Edges

Disarming (Appearance [Sexuality] 4+): Those subject to the character’s sexuality (those of the correct gender/orientation and biologically compatible species) find it difficult to distrust them or hold their actions against them. When targeted by a social attack based on Manipulation [Deception] or any social attack intended to apologize for or otherwise smooth over past interactions an affected subject halves their Mental Resistance value (rounded up).

Unsettling (Appearance [Impact] 4+): Something in the character’s mien is off-putting, even if he is calmly eating his soup or otherwise minding his own business. The character may make a reflexive social attack to intimidate any character who can clearly see him using his Appearance [Impact] as the dice pool. The result of this attack must either be to inspire an Emotion of fear or a Compulsion to “leave the character alone”. More complex attempts at Intimidation – such as bullying someone into a particular course of action – require a social attack as normal. These reflexive social attacks can be made as a reaction to Join Battle and anyone opposing the character who suffers the Compulsion does not Join Battle and quits the field instead. Anyone who suffers the Emotion effect reduces their attacks against the character by three dice (the normal Emotion penalty).

Pirate Ports and Fences

Pirates Ports

There are two forms of “pirate ports” scattered through the Ghost Stars, semi-legitimate ports and black ports. By far the more common of the two are semi-legitimate ports; far flung ports of call out among the Ghost Stars where fences and others who straddle the world of the thriving mercantile concerns and the criminal underworld have taken up residence. The handful of black ports that hide perched out in the darkness are much more dangerous. Ruled by so-called Pirate Lords or Pirate Queens they are places without even the pretense of law and order. Semi-legitimate ports vary greatly in character. Some such as small colony on the moon of Krimea are all but directly ruled by the pirates that make the port their home (or more accurately the open secret is that it is ruled the local fence – ‘Lord’ Crimson who has been lining the Astrae governor’s pockets for years). While others such as the free port Ithoral (a massive space station which orbits the great red giant Fheor) maintain a public character as an honest place that deals only with honest merchants – and only pirates with the right connections can safely make port and find a place to offload their wares. Crews in need of new recruits often find them in such places – and especially ports such as Krimea are frequented by youths taken with the romance of the idea of being a pirate. Such young men and women however often prove unreliable – or even simply unequal to the realities of their new situation once recruited making it a hit or miss proposition with each new recruit. Black ports on the other hand normally accept all ships, but offer absolutely no pretense of providing safety. Docking ‘fees’ tend to be whatever portion of the ship’s bounty the local pirate Lady or Pirate Queen sees fit to have his or her thugs seize at gunpoint and is enforced by the docking guns as well normally. Still such places are the generally the only places where pirates can openly trade for illegal weapons and equipment as well as sell captured ships. Of course all such dealings run the risk of betrayal and lethal consequences – especially if one is dealing with a more powerful or more experienced crew. New crewmembers recruited from such places have the advantage of already being hardened criminals or pirates who have served on other crews. On the other hand since no one comes to such a place without already being a smuggler or pirate there tends to be less available manpower as only people who choose (or are forced) to break with their own crews at such a place (and survive the experience) are available.

Fences

Most fences operating in semi-legitimate ports will take whatever legitimate goods a pirate crew has off their hands for a fraction of its value (normally between 30% and 65% depending on the pirates relationship with the fence in question and how well established they are). It’s exceedingly rare to find a fence who pays less than 30% of the value of goods – they normally won’t remain in business long. Similarly even the friendliest fence simply can’t afford to pay more than 65% of the value of the goods they take in. If they start making exceptions they too won’t be a fence for long – if for different reasons. The average fence pays about 50% the value of goods. Similarly fences won’t take restricted or military goods, illegal goods or captured ships. Such things are simply too risky to try and move through their connections. Typically this means that smugglers and other ‘lesser’ criminals rarely suffer from predation by pirates. Pirates who do wish to try and sell captured ships, illegal goods, weapons and the like have little choice but to try and find a direct buyer in a black port – many pirates consider this to be simply too much trouble and just abandon such things in space, unless they have reason to use them themselves.

Martial Arts: Karate

Martial Arts: Karate (2 to 10xp skill merit)

While more exotic variations on karate and other martial arts might offer different advantages (and thus be represented by different merits) the variations between most karate styles are more thematic than mechanical. Each level of this merit cost 2xp and provides the advantages of the levels before it in addition to their own. As with most skill merits characters can train this trait during the course of play with an appropriate teacher. The first three dots require a month of training time (300 hours) each – though this is normally spread out over a few hours a week, extending the training time over much longer periods. The last two dots require three months of training time each (900 hours) though again, it’s commonly spread out over a longer period of time.

•        Low Kyū grades (9th to 5th Kyū): The character’s drilling raises the accuracy of their unarmed punches and kicks by 1.

••        High Kyū grades (5th to high Kyū): The character’s long focus on efficient maneuvers has lowered the speed of the unarmed punches and kicks by 1 (minimum 3).

•••        Low Dan grades (first Dan): The character has trained to perform potentially lethal strikes with their bare hands. Their unarmed punches and kicks can (at their option) because lethal damage instead of bashing damage. Unlike a character with the appropriate Strength Edge this benefit cannot be extended to close combat weapons. Additional they may block lethal block combat attacks with their unarmed parry DV.

••••    Middle Dan grades (second to forth Dan): The focused lethality of a character’s blows add one automatic success to the damage of their unarmed punches and kicks (before soak).

•••••    High Dan grades (fifth Dan and higher): The character’s body has become trained into a living weapon. They add one to their bashing and lethal soak (gaining a lethal soak rating even if they lacked one before).

Particle Magnum

Particle Magnum

A common side arm for officers aboard navy and even merchant vessels, the Particle Magnum is highly sought after among pirate crews, not only because of the effectiveness as weapons but because virtually every one of them in pirate hands was seized from the cold dead corpse of an officer by their current owners during a mutiny or attack and therefore serve as something of a mark of prestige. The Particle Magnum is powered by a small military grade fuel-cell installed in the main body of the gun and if purchased commercially typically includes a spare cell. Fortunately for most pirates such cells are rechargeable, though Particle Magnums that have long been in pirate hands are frequently modified to use different (and frequently less efficient) power sources, either because the original cells have failed and couldn’t be replaced or because they are hedging themselves against such future shortfalls.

A Particle Magnum has a variable fire system (not uncommon among commercial energy weapons) and can be discharged in stun, kill or disintegrate modes. Changing between modes can be achieved with a simple flick of the thumb if the weapon is drawn and is a reflexive action (though it might require a Wits roll if the character is in the heat of battle or otherwise distracted). The design incorporates shipboard safety as a consideration and a discharge in stun or even kill mode will only damage living targets (or lightly armored robots) and cannot fracture bulkheads or damage the hull of a ship. Disintegration mode holds no such limitations and combined with the drain on the weapons power source this makes it less popular even with aggressive users of the weapon – burning your enemies to dust makes an impressive show, but few people want to risk explosively decompressing themselves with every stray shot.

A Particle Magnum uses the following weapon traits;

Speed: 2; Accuracy: -4; Damage: *; Range: 10m; Rate: 4; Tags: Pistol, Powered (1 KW per shot in stun and kill mode, 10 KW per shot in disintegrate mode)

*The damage of a Particle Magnum shot depends on the mode it’s in; stun mode makes the damage 10S, while kill mode makes it 10L and disintegrate mode makes it 10A.

 

What’s up with these weird traits?

If you are familiar with other d10 games you might ask why the Particle Magnum has such low accuracy and such amazing speed. The answer is that in this system those are actually fairly typical for a pistol-type weapon. Pistols are notoriously inaccurate but it doesn’t honestly take that long to squeeze off a bunch of shots from the hip if you don’t care much about hitting anything. More practiced users typically take an aim action before firing, and stabilize their grip with their offhand (per the pistol tag).