Into the Void
Character Creation: Below are notes made due to campaign-specific rules, reminders, and anything else I felt required emphasis. Anything not specifically mentioned remains unchanged.
Optional Rules: Rules 2A-2C are used (and will be detailed later for clarity). In addition, Star*Drive includes Mutants, Psionics, and Cybertech, and I fully intend to include all that.
1 Develop a Hero Concept: Almost unchanged. Certain character personalities and affiliations would have trouble working in the campaign arc I have in mind, so VoidCorp and Nariac Domain characters are strongly discouraged, unless they are of rather atypical mindset. Likewise, I should warn you that stereotypical Hatires and Thuldans will probably have a bit of a challenge fitting in, but since they are less hampered by their governmental allegiance, I’m not going so far as to discourage their presence.
2 Species: Available species are the Fraal, Mechalus, Sesheyan, T’sa, Weren, and of course Human. I don’t like the fact the mechalus heroes will likely have to eventually upgrade their innate nanocomputer, so I am making a house rule: They no longer get the two neural data slots, but their internal processor is equivalent to an Amazing nanocomputer instead of a Good one. They still get bio-organic circuitry that functions like a reflex device, as previously. Due to my inexperience with Star*Drive, all requests for any other species will be met with an apologetic but firm “no.”
3 Careers: Although optional, I would prefer players to choose a career, if they can find one that fits them. Not all heroes fit into a definable career, so I’ll understand if you can’t choose one.
4 Profession: No changes here. If you are choosing the Diplomat profession, I ask that you give me some ideas as to your starting contact. If not, instead of assigning one at creation, I will leave it open to develop a contact later on.
5 Ability Scores: All heroes start with 60 points to divide amongst the six scores, as normal.
6 Purchase Skills: Just for ease of reference, I include the optional rules 2A-2C below.
Optional Rule 2A: In addition to the free broad skills determined by race selection, a new character has a number of skill points equal to 30 plus 3 times his Intelligence score available to purchase skills during character creation. Human heroes receive a special bonus of 5 additional skill points at character creation.
This replaces the skill point allocations indicated on Table P5 in the Player’s Handbook. Under the old system, an alien hero with an Intelligence score of 9 received 40 skill points for initial skill purchase; under the upgrade, he receives 30 + (3 × 9) or 57 skill points. A human hero of the same Intelligence score would begin with 62 skill points if using this optional rule.
Optional Rule 2B: During initial skill purchase, a character may not learn more than six additional broad skills, not counting his racial broad skills. Modify this number by the hero’s Intelligence-based resistance modifier.
Since low-Intelligence characters receive a much greater number of skill points in this upgrade, the limitation on purchasing new broad skills is relaxed somewhat. This replaces the limits given on Table P5. Previously, a character of Intelligence 6 would be able to purchase no more than 3 broad skills during initial skill purchase, but this upgrade increases that number to 5 (6, less 1 for his -1 Intelligence resistance modifier).
Optional Rule 2C: The cost to purchase rank 2 or higher in a specialty skill is either the list price or the list price -1. The number of ranks a character currently possesses in the specialty skill does not increase the cost of advancing that skill.
This replaces the second bullet point under Cost of Skills on page 61 in the Player’s Handbook. As originally written, advancing a specialty skill from rank 4 to rank 5 (for instance) would cost a number of skill points equal to the original purchase price +4. This upgrade changes the advancement of skills so that a character simply buys the skill again at its normal purchase price in order to advance his skill rank.
Note that a hero may not begin with a specialty skill rank of more than 3 at character creation, and that a character cannot improve a skill rank more than once per achievement level.
Additionally, I wish to modify some of the skills slightly, with my own house rules:
Stealth – sneak: This specialty skill is rolled into Stealth – hide. Anything you could previously do with sneak, you now do with hide. Stealth – hide retains its original functionality as well. This is an attempt to balance needing two concealment skills versus a single spotting skill (Awareness – perception).
Vehicle Operation: The specialty skills no longer require a specific vehicle model to be noted. This is for a variety of reasons, including bookkeeping purposes, none of the printed books noting the specialties of Supporting Cast skills, and simple ease of play.
Knowledge: As per page 233 of the Star*Drive manual, your hero begins with three ranks in Knowledge – stellar nation or home system, appropriate to your character. He or she also begins with three ranks in Knowledge – language for an appropriate language. Note that whatever origin you choose for your character, these two skill choices must be compatible with it! In addition, if Galactic Standard isn’t your free language, all characters start with 1 rank in it. If Galactic Standard is your free language, you get one free rank in a language of your choice. As a hero, you’re assumed to be cosmopolitan enough to have picked up at least a few phrases of a useful second language. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Medical Science – xenomedicine: This specialty skill is no longer specific. Instead, it applies to all well-known xenoforms (fraal, mechalus, sesheyan, t’sa, weren and human) continually. Encountering a new, or little-understood, alien race may require study or familiarisation, and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
7 Select perks and Flaws: No changes here. If you want to buy an alien artifact as either a perk or a flaw, please contact me, preferably either with some ideas, or whether you want it completely random or not.
8 Attributes: I would like to see a set of attributes for each character: a motivation, a moral attitude, and one or two character traits, if possible. It only takes a few minutes to look over, and can really help out – both yourself, for role-playing the character, and myself, for coming up with good role-playing opportunities in the future. However, this is optional.
9 Filling it out: A few things to pay attention to here:
Weapons, Armor, and Equipment: Mindwalkers and Combat Specs begin with 3,000 dollars, Free Agents and Tech Ops begin with 4,000 dollars, and Diplomats begin with 6,000 dollars with which to purchase starting equipment. Heroes with the Dirt Poor flaw or Filthy Rich perk modify these values accordingly.
Availability: During character creation (and ONLY then), the following rules apply: characters can buy Common and Controlled gear at cost. Military gear has its cost tripled, and Restricted gear can be purchased at quintuple (x5) price. Items of PL 5 have their availability downgraded by one (i.e., Restricted PL 5-6 items become Military, Military items become Controlled, etc.). Items of PL 5 are available, and are typically cheap, mass-manufactured knock-offs of an old design, rather than being historical relics. If for some reason you really want items from PL 4 or below, treat them as PL 5 for this purpose only.
Note: the accuracy optional rule is NOT being used.
Vehicles: Because this is both my first time with Alternity and forum gaming, characters cannot start out with a starship. You will certainly get both the resources and opportunity to purchase (or otherwise “acquire”) one as the game progresses, but to begin with, it will make my job vastly easier if the characters are restricted to public transportation and/or rentals.
Mutants: I’m honestly not sure how to handle mutants. However, here is what i am tentatively going with:
Only humans can be mutants, at least for this campaign.
Instead of rolling for mutations, choose a number of points for advantageous mutations, no more than 7. This number, minus one, is the minimum number of drawback points you must take. Thus, if you choose 6 points of advantageous mutations, you must take at least 5 points of drawbacks (or 4 points if your character is a Thuldan). Even if your character is from the Thuldan Empire, if you have any number of advantageous mutations, you MUST take at least one point worth of drawback mutations. You CANNOT get out of drawbacks by taking only 1 point of advantageous mutations. No exceptions!
You must choose a mutant origin appropriate for the number of advantageous mutation points you have (see table P48 for the ranges). In other words, a mutant with 6 or more advantageous points has to be a natural mutant; he can’t be engineered.
Do not roll for mutations; just pick them.
The drawbacks Minor Physical Change and Major Physical Change are not worth any drawback points, and provide no penalties for the vast majority of the galaxy (especially the Verge!). However, if you want a physical change for role-playing purposes, you can add this to your drawbacks, but it doesn’t count towards the drawbacks you must take.
As an additional bit of work you must do if you have a mutant character, I want the mutation touched on at least briefly in your character’s background. Was he born with his mutations, or did they develop later on? Does he try to hide them and blend in with humans? Was there an obvious reason for his mutation, such as engineering, parental radiation/chemical exposure, etc?
Psionics: Personally, I feel that psionics are rather underpowered, but since I have no game-play experience, I don’t want to make any sweeping changes yet. However, I am open to suggestions if you feel the same way.
Cybertech: I would like to try out a house rule I came up with. Instead of paying 10 skill points all at once, for every rank in the specialty skill Knowledge – cybertech, the hero knows how to operate a specific piece of cybernetic gear (chosen when the rank is taken). Mechalus of course, can always use their innate cybernetics without having to buy skill ranks. Just for the sake of clarity, Knowledge – cybertech is treated exactly like a Knowledge – (specific skill), it just happens to have a side benefit as well. More about this house rule below.
Additionally, for character creation ONLY, the characters only have to pay half the item’s price for installation, and the surgery is assumed to be conducted flawlessly. Additionally, if the character can somehow afford enough gear, he is assumed to have passed all his cyber tolerance checks (but again, only during character creation). Don’t forget to factor in the cost of surgery if purchasing cyber gear.
Contacts and Social Status: Contacts will develop naturally as the heroes display their skill and usefulness over the course of the campaign. Likewise, social status will develop with the heroes. I intend to use the guidelines in chapter 7 of the Gamemaster Guide to determine starting social status, but if you think our character deserves a higher or lower status due to his or her background, please feel free to let me know. At this point in time, Fame will probably have the strongest impact. Again, we shall have to see how the campaign develops.
General House Rules
Characters will be allowed to “retrain” skills that have become redundant or obsolete. Once per level, the player can request to reduce a specialty skill by one rank, receiving the appropriate number of skill points in exchange. “Appropriate number” is defined as the price for that character, taking into account profession and any modifiers for origin. For example, a Combat Spec reducing Modern ranged weapons – pistol by one rank would receive 3 skill points, anyone else would receive 4 skill points. A human Diplomat from the Rigunmor Star Consortium who reduced his Interaction – bargain skill by one rank would receive only 1 skill point. Training via the Teach skill is not taken into account for this rule.
Instead of spending 10 skill points for cybernetic gear, there is a special skill for it. It is a specialty skill under Knowledge, and specifically is Knowledge – cybertech, and counts as a Knowledge (specific skill) for that field, as well as providing certain rank benefits as laid out below. Unlike normal specific knowledge skills, this one cannot be used untrained.
For each rank in this specialty skill, select a piece of cybernetic gear that would normally require the character to have spent 10 skill points to use. The character permanently knows how to use that piece of cybertech (gear that does not require skill points to be spent, such as skin art and CF skinweave, doesn’t require this skill at all, just as before). For the purposes of this skill, learning to use one NIJack teaches the user how to use all of them – i.e., if the character learns how to use a subdermal NIJack, he also knows how to use a regular NIJack and a wireless NIJack. If the character has a piece of cybertech installed that he does not yet know how to use, he can use this skill to attempt to activate it through guesswork or intuition. A Critical Failure means the device does not activate, and he cannot activate it this scene at all. Also, some form of unpleasant feedback occurs – default is that the cyber-user takes 1d6 stun damage, but the Gamemaster could rule that another piece of cybertech shuts down, requiring an action to restart, or that another device, chosen at random, activates instead. From starting a music program in combat to firing a subdermal weapon during a diplomatic exchange, this could have varied consequences. Failure merely indicates that the implant in question does not activate, and the action used in the attempt is wasted. An Ordinary success indicates that the item does activate, but any bonus it provides is reduced by +2 steps; or that any actions attempted with the device take a +2 step penalty (Gamemaster’s discretion). A Good success leads to the same result as an Ordinary result, but the penalty is reduced to +1 step. An Amazing success indicates that the item activates with no penalties, exactly as if the character knew how to use it.
The skill can also be used in situations where a user of cybernetics might have particular insight into something. Identifying a specific implant’s manufacturer, judging the quality of an implant in another cyber-user, or knowing the reputation of a particular cybersurgeon could all be potentially covered under this skill; see the Knowledge skill in the Player’s Handbook for more details.
Rank benefit: As the character becomes more an more familiar and comfortable with the hardware installed in his body, he can expand his body’s acceptance of implants. At ranks 4, 8, and 12, increase his cyber tolerance score by one point. Example: a human with a CON of 11 and 9 ranks in Knowledge – cybertech has a Cyber Tolerance score of 13. A mechalus with a CON of 14 and 12 ranks in Knowledge – cybertech has the maximum possible Cyber Tolerance score of 21! Also, at rank 5, the character becomes more tolerant of further installation, resulting in a -1 step bonus to any Constitution feat checks to determine if his body can accomodate the new gear. At rank 10, this bonus increases to -2 steps. Neither of these bonuses can be purchased early.
As a final bonus, at rank 12, the character becomes proficient in using all cybernetic implants – this benefit is provided to reflect the case that there are more implants than skill ranks can be taken.
Teach skill: A character can only be taught in one skill at a time. However, a character can teach others up to a number of ranks equal to one less than his current rank, i.e. a character with 7 ranks in Investigate – track can train another character up to rank 6. The situation die modifiers change to: Teaching rank 1: -1 step. Rank 2-3: 0 steps. Rank 4-5: +1 step. Rank 6-7: +2 steps. Rank 8-9: +3 steps. Rank 10-11: +4 steps.
Combat: Mortal damage now causes 1 point of secondary wound damage and 1 point of secondary stun damage per point of mortal damage. This is partially to offset the fact that sometimes, against armor, an Amazing hit is worse than a Good hit.
When attacking a target with lower-grade armor than the grade of damage dealt by your weapon (e.g., mass rifle versus cerametal armor), the armor die roll is reduced by 2. If the difference is two grades, the armor roll is reduced by 4. This only applies to direct hits, not damage caused by being in the blast radius. This is my attempt to represent the fact that extremely high-velocity, armor-defeating weapons will slice right through all but the toughest personal armors.
Certain blunt or bludgeoning weapons cause secondary 1 secondary stun damage per point of primary wound damage (rather than 1 stun per 2 wounds). This includes any weapon wielded with the Melee Weapons – bludgeon skill, plus also the pulse baton, gravmace, and power cestus. This also applies to any Unarmed Attack skill attacks, but only against Ordinary armor or unarmored targets. Frankly, if you’re punching someone in a body tank, there’s something wrong with you. At the Gamemaster’s discretion, this house rule may apply to any improvised weapon that primarily uses blunt trauma as damage, such as hammers, rocks, bookcases, etc.