Good Lord, Mandate Archive: Stellar Heroes is out already… as promised, a review as soon as I got my hands on it.
In a Nutshell: Stars Without Number supplement for running adventures with one PC and a GM. 7 page PDF, free to download from RPGNow or the Sine Nomine website.
This Mandate Archive is split into three parts.
First, there is a one-page explanation of what the supplement is for (running Stars Without Number adventures for one or two PCs), and how that differs from normal play (since the group is smaller, consensus is reached much more quickly, so stories are faster-moving).
The second part modifies SWN’s rules for a single PC, who has fewer hit points and a narrower range of skills than a full party. The changes are largely common to Solo Heroes and Scarlet Heroes from the same publisher, both of which cover the same ground for fantasy. To summarise:
- The PC always wins initiative.
- Damage and healing dice are read differently, making PCs tougher and NPCs much more fragile, but without changing the scenario or characters.
- The Fray Die lets the PC roll damage each turn against any NPC in range, even if he is doing something else that round.
- Defying Death essentially allows the PC to trade hit points for success in a check they would not otherwise make.
- Lone heroes gain skill points at twice the normal rate when levelling up.
This part closes with a half-page detailed example of how the rules changes work in play.
The third part is a short adventure for a single 1st level hero, pitting him or her against a group of terrorists threatening to crash an orbital station into a surface city. It’s a 10-location dungeon crawl in space, with statblocks for relevant NPCs. Can you say Die Hard? I knew you could…
Black on gold front cover, full colour back cover advertising Scarlet Heroes, and in between, five pages of black on white two-column text in the usual crisp, effective layout.
This supplement does what it sets out to do, and does it well; specifically, it applies a handful of rules tweaks to SWN which allows a single PC to survive, and successfully complete, an adventure written for a full-sized group, without rewriting the adventure or the character sheets.
However, what I’m really looking for is a science fiction version of Scarlet Heroes – rules for GM-less SF with a built in setting. I’m hopeful that just as Solo Heroes led to Scarlet Heroes, so Stellar Heroes will lead to something bigger.