Arion, Episode 0: The Gritty Reboot

Posted: 4 January 2016 in Arioniad (2016)

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard

Actually, I kind of can make a brand new start, and I will. For new readers: The Arioniad was a solo campaign I ran from 2009 to the cliffhanger ending in 2013; it was one of the campaigns deleted in the Great Blog Purge of 2015, but I miss the characters and would like to play with them again. I considered reconstructing the previous game from such offline notes as remain, but on rereading those, I discovered that the game was much better in my memory than it was in reality; so I’m moving to a re-imagining of the game, a gritty reboot if you will – if it was good enough for Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek, it’s good enough for me. This is the second attempt at that, and by the time you read this the first attempt will also have been purged from the blog – it really wasn’t working, I think because I was trying to railroad it into repeating the earlier adventures.

Beyond simply being fun, the campaign is a way for me to experiment with different rules and setting elements before tormenting my players with them; the characters stay the same, but the rules and setting change around them – the reason for this was explained in the 2013 cliffhanger, and will come out again in due course; it also conveniently explains the periodic reboots, as you will see later.

ARION

Arion is the story’s protagonist, and he will appear in multiple formats as we go along. He will pick up sidekicks as we go. Like all my PCs, he has a theme tune, in this case The Traveler by Joe Satriani.

Savage Worlds: The basic version of Arion from which the others are converted. After several reworkings, he stabilised as a Pilot Archetype from p. 19 of Savage Worlds Deluxe, with his spare skill point used to buy Knowledge: Astrogation d4; his Hindrances are Heroic, Loyal: Friends, and Outsider. He has a Glock, a knife, a kevlar vest, and $25 in cash. He also has constructive possession of a small starship called the Dolphin.

THW: In THW games such as Larger Than Life, 5150 and so on, Arion is a Rep 5 Star pilot with the Steely Eyes and White Knight attributes, which means he uses the LWC reaction tables and moves in Exotic circles. His skills are Savvy 5, Fitness 4 and People 3. His items are a starship, body armour, a commlink, a pistol and a knife. He lives in the dock district of a Metropolis, for easy access to his ship. The conversion uses Steely Eyes to represent Alertness, and White Knight to represent Heroic; THW Stars are typically Rep 5, and looking at his SW traits, Arion looks like he is best at job-related skills like Piloting (thus Savvy 5), average in terms of physical attributes (Fitness 4) and worst at interpersonal skills (People 3).

Classic Traveller: UPP: 686777. Skills: Navigation-0, Pilot-3, Mechanical-1, Auto Pistol-1. Equipment: Cloth, auto pistol, knife, scoutship. Based on those, and using the 1977 edition of the rules, Arion would be a three-term scout. This conversion assumes that characteristic scores match the attribute die type where there is an obvious equivalence, and are 7 otherwise, while for skills d4 is expertise level 0 or 1/2 (depending on the rules edition in use), d6 is expertise-1, d8 expertise-2, and so on. CT doesn’t use Hindrances, and has only ship ownership or Travellers’ Aid membership as Edges, so none of those elements from SW really converts.

Stars Without Number: Attributes: Strength 10, Intelligence 10, Wisdom 10, Dexterity 14 (+1), Constitution 10, Charisma 10. Skills: Combat/Gunnery-1, Culture/Spacer-0, Culture/World-0, Exosuit-0, Navigation-1, Tech/Astronautics-0, Tech/Postech-0, Vehicle/Air-0, Vehicle/Space-1. Equipment: Woven body armour, knife, semi-automatic pistol, Cr 20. This incarnation of Arion is a level 1 Expert, using the Transport Specialist background and Pilot training package, which probably means he comes from a spacer family and is as close as I can get to the skillset of the original. We’ll pick the World whose culture he knows later. This conversion assumes attributes that match SW ones are the die type plus four, others are 10, and the character’s free 14 goes into the attribute with the highest score (unless it is already higher than that). Again, there are no Edges or Hindrances, it’s all in how you play.

DOLPHIN

I don’t expect much in the way of space combat or interstellar trade, so none of the statblocks are likely to see action anytime soon; this means I can be fairly relaxed in converting them. In any event, the key to conversion is to convert the feel of the thing accurately and not worry about the stats too much.

Savage Worlds: The Dolphin is a stock Light Freighter from p. 49 of the Science Fiction Companion. The onboard AI uses fist-sized metal spiders as effectors for repairs and so forth; these are collectively known as the Repair Swarm, and use the swarm rules in combat. One of the swarm typically rides on Arion’s shoulder, acting as a commlink.

THW: I haven’t got any THW rules for which this matters; I expect Fringe Space will have something, so I will come back and retrofit it later.

Classic Traveller: A Type S scoutship, obviously, but to match the SW version it has picked up a brace of pulse lasers from somewhere. Arion probably sold the air/raft to pay for them.

Stars Without Number: A Free Merchant from p. 198 of the free edition rulebook, because that’s the closest I can get without designing something from scratch.

THE SETTING

Initially, there isn’t one! It will emerge in play – but this time around there is not going to be a star map. Place names will be convenient for filing NPCs, so those will appear, and calendars may or may not be needed, depending on which rules I’m using at the time. Since the 1970s I have habitually set my homebrew SF campaigns in a volume of space centred on Antares, Alpha Scorpii, which I call the Antares Sector, with a starting date one thousand years in the future; there is no reason to change that for this campaign.

THE RULES

Since it’s the one that worked best last time, let’s begin this experimental run using straight Larger Than Life. Next up: The Opening Scene.

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Comments
  1. Brass Jester says:

    No map? NO MAP!! Sacrilege. It is written in all space RPG’s that the GM shall spend many hours or even days making star maps that ultimately never get used.
    But consider all of those little hexagons. Once they thought they had a job for life in wilderness mapping; things took an upturn when they were used in combat (The Fantasy Trip, Dragonquest etc.), but then came the freeform wilderness map and their last refuge was the star map. Now even this has gone and they are thrown on the scrapheap of six-sided redundancy.

  2. […] character generation, tweaked to reflect the particular setting. I did that for most games here, but didn’t have Fringe Space at the time. Since he is a well-established character, […]

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