Review of Stars Without Number Free Supplements

Recently I bought Skyward Steel (SWN naval expansion) and Hard Light (SWN adventure module), of which more anon; but while doing so I noticed that Sine Nomine Games has also released a number of free web supplements ("Mandate Archives") via RPGNow. Naturally, I grabbed those as well. Here’s what I found…

MARTIAL ARTS

A 6-page free supplement for Stars Without Number, which expands on martial arts – hand-to-hand and melee weapons.

The default assumption for SWN is that characters will use a gun if they can, a melee weapon if they can’t, and bare hands only when they have nothing else available.

This supplement provides options for groups who would rather have melee as a viable option. Each style of martial arts is bought as a specialisation of the Combat skill, and confers benefits either by skill level (if the GM is using skills) or by class level (if he or she is not).

Styles covered include Dirty Fighting, Empty Holster (forcing armed opponents to turn their weapons on each other), the Gentle Way (aikido), Ghost Walker (ninjutsu), Kenjutsu (blade weapons), Mindwall and Red Dawn (psionics), Silver Petal (knife-fighting and throwing), Tempter’s Hand (hand-to-hand feints), and Tyrian Locks (a wrestling style which turns the foe’s own armour into a weapon against him).

I like the way that the author developed new styles that suit the setting, rather than simply creating "space karate". Definitely worth a look, even if only as background flavour.

RED SANGHA MERCENARY CORPS

A 7-page free supplement for Stars Without Number, detailing a mercenary organisation which grew out of neo-Buddhist genetic engineering. Free from all emotion except loyalty to their homeworld, the Red Sangha are fearless and ruthless, with absolutely nothing to lose.

The supplement covers the secret history of the corps, their organisation and missions, the unique approach which their gengineered past encourages, statistics for commonly-encountered members, and the goals and motivations of the current leadership. The corps is intended as patrons, allies, or opposition of the "noble enemy" school for experienced groups of PCs.

The supplement ends with rules for Red Sangha PCs.

What we have here is an organisation, and its homeworld, which can be easily dropped into any sector of space; and I probably will.

BANNERJEE CONSTRUCTION SOLUTIONS

An 8-page free supplement for Stars Without Number, detailing the history of the organisation which developed the plans for the standard orbital stations used in the game, and explaining why so many of the plans include flaws.

The supplement also provides rules for space station construction and combat; sample stations that can be used immediately; possible flaws built in to the schematics, and how to identify and correct them; and ten adventure seeds involving space stations. Finally, there is a pointer to the Hard Light scenario, which includes deck plans and other details for a Bannerjee Model 12 space station.

CONCLUSION

Stars Without Number goes from strength to strength. If I’m not careful, I’ll find myself running SWN as a campaign. Again, I’m impressed with the quality of the free stuff – coming soon, what I think of the pay-to-download books.

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2 thoughts on “Review of Stars Without Number Free Supplements

  1. We have been playing SWoN for a few months and find it far superior to most RPG products we have paid big money for. As a Traveller fan since 1977 I never dreamed I would put Traveller to second place but it has happened.

    • Yes indeed – I keep looking at my campaigns, past and present, and thinking “SWN has a more elegant way of handling this, I should adopt it”. At some point that could well tip over the edge to “I should just play SWN as written rather than borrowing bits”.

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