Category: GM’s Pick of the Day

As Carinn and I are enjoying the hospitality of the fine folks of MarsCon in Virginia, here’s the last To the Stars Week Pick. It’s a favorite among quite a few folks, including my local gaming group. Driven by the core engine of Blades in the DarkScum and Villainy is definitely a game for those who look at folks like Han Solo, Aeryn Sun, and Malcolm Reynolds and go “Yeah, I wanna play that!”

Unwise deals. 
Blaster fights. 
High adventure among the stars.
Welcome to the world of SCUM AND VILLAINY

Scum and Villainy is a Forged in the Dark game about a spaceship crew trying to make ends meet under the iron-fisted rule of the Galactic Hegemony.

Work with the members of your crew to thrive despite powerful criminal syndicates, warring noble families, dangerous aliens, and strange mystics. Explore the ruins of lost civilizations for fun and profit. Can your motley crew hold it together long enough to strike it big and insure your fame across the sector?

Scum and Villainy is a stand-alone RPG based on the Forged in the Dark game engine. In this book, you’ll find:

  • A clear gameplay structure that puts the focus on the criminal undertakings of the crew. A session of play consists of a job followed by recovery, downtime projects, and advancement.
  • Ship “character sheets” that allow for XP spends, upgrades, and leveling up alongside your characters.
  • Crew advancement opportunities to reflect the change from a ragtag group barely flying in the black to a reputed crew that has built a name across the sector.
  • Forged in the Dark tools to help keep the focus on the action of the job rather than the extensive planning needed to make it happen.
  • Character and ship types to help create a unique and interesting crew at light speed.

MAY YOUR SHIP FLY TRUE, AND YOUR BLASTERS NEVER JAM.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

As you’re reading this, Carinn Seabolt and I are on our way to MarsCon in Virginia. She’s their Gaming Guest of Honor, and I am honored to also be a Special Guest.

Today’s To the Stars Week Pick is another D&D-drive (5e) space fantasy game that invokes “Star WarsFireflyCowboy Bebop, and Guardians of the Galaxy” as inspirations. HYPERLANES has a solid following and a lot of good ratings from its fans, so as you examine your 5e space gaming options, you’ll want to take a look at this one.

Adventure at hyperspeed, smirking at the authorities along the way. Tramp around a hostile galaxy in a starship held together with spit and pluck. You’re a motley crew of misfits, gathered by chance, venting your frustrations through witty barbs and alien howls.  

Strap in, kid. We’re gunna burn across the sky ‘til the stars become lines.

HYPERLANES is the gaming technology that takes you there. We begin with all new Classes and Archetypes, reverse engineered from the basic building blocks of the D&D Player’s Handbook, but reprogrammed for scifi adventuring among the stars, integrating starship battle abilities from the ground up. We splice in all new Feats for cinematic action, systems for building alien species and robot chassis as Races, and iconic Backgrounds to add dimensionality to your spacer. 

We don’t stop there.  

We hook up a hard hitting chapter on armor clad soldiers, fringe-planet crime lords, and monstrous alien threats. We install a honed system for enabling memorable space battles, designed to send a chill up your spine as you blast hostile spacecraft out of the starry sky. We bury you in “magical items” recast as scientific marvels and scavenged technology from forgotten civilizations.  

HYPERLANES is a humming engine of science fiction action and it’s what you need to adapt your favorite star spanning adventure setting to your living room cockpit. We take inspiration from such classics as Star Wars, Firefly, Cowboy Bebop, and Guardians of the Galaxy. We’re pretty sure this is the action scifi supplement you’ve been looking for.

This book was Kickstarted in December 2016 and we are happy to report that it successfully funded at over $40,000. Stretch goals from such an amazing total allowed us to hire on additional writers and artists and really make this book something memorable.

Thank you to all our wonderful backers.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Today’s To the Stars Week Pick is pretty on-the-nose, title-wise – the revised edition of Stars Without Number. Backwards-compatible with the original edition stuff, this is one of the pinnacle examples of OSR design for the modern age, and a highly popular and beloved space adventure game.

The year is 3200 and mankind’s empire lies in ashes.

The Jump Gates fell six hundred years ago, severing the links between the myriad worlds of the human diaspora.

Now, the long isolation of the Silence falls away as men and women return to the skies above their scattered worlds.

Will you be among them once more?

Stars Without Number: Revised Edition is an old-school-inspired game of sci-fi adventure, one built from the ground up to encourage sandbox play and simplify a GM’s job in providing it. Familiar mechanics are employed to forge new worlds and explore new possibilities, guidelines built on long experience used to help a group venture in wholly new directions. Within the full-color pages of Stars Without Number: Revised Edition, you’ll find… .

  • Backwards compatibility, as the Revised Edition is built to work cleanly with existing Stars Without Number supplements and materials. The new systems slot in smoothly, and you can take or leave them individually as your group prefers.
  • Expanded character creation, with PCs now customized by special talents and character foci, new options for psychic characters, and new ways to make your hero mechanically distinct. Yet the process is still smooth and quick, with a special quick generator spread to create a hero from nothing more than a half-dozen die rolls.
  • Refined psionics, with more options to distinguish your psychic hero’s powers and more flexible choices for their abilities. Tailor your psychic to your concept, whether as a cynical gunslinging brainguard or an ascetic psychic healer from a world of austere psionic scholars.
  • Improved starship combat, with decisive roles for every member of the party. Build your own starships with the included system and employ new hardware and new starship mods to make your ungainly crate the fastest contraband runner this side of the Veil Nebula.
  • New systems to support additional types of play, including rules for hacking, remote drones, and expert technical modification of gear and starships.
  • Upgraded tools for sandbox sector creation, with forty new world tags to help define a GM’s stellar creations, guides for adding additional system points of interest, and material to help a GM define the interesting traits of the worlds they create. These tools aren’t just a clump of random tables, they’re a framework to boost your own creativity and help you make fast, good, playable material for your game.
  • Augmented adventure creation guidelines. Aside from a hundred piping-hot adventure seeds that mesh smoothly with the world creation tools, Stars Without Number: Revised Edition also includes content to help you turn your vague ideas into a playable evening’s adventure. Guidelines on challenges, rewards, and complications in play are all aimed toward the working GM, the man or woman who’s not just theorizing their adventures, but actually responsible for making something fun for the whole group.
  • Tools for creating aliens, Virtual Intelligences, and hostile human foes, with guidelines for handling potentially-hostile encounters and creating the kind of fearsome xenobeasts that can challenge the doughtiest explorer. Or perhaps you want to be an alien or robot? You’ll find the tools for that in Stars Without Number: Revised Edition.
  • Faction rules, for handling the background warring and intrigues of hostile groups. Need to add life and motion to your stellar sectors? Sprinkle in a few factions to make news for the PCs to respond to, or use these rules to handle the colonies, spy agencies, mercenary companies, or other enterprises your heroes establish.

And these things? They’re all in the free version. Yes, just like the original edition, Stars Without Number: Revised Edition has a free PDF edition to share with your friends and pass around to interested parties. Those daring stellar freebooters who purchase this deluxe version will get…

  • Transhuman tech, with rules for bodyswapping, digital identities, post-scarcity economics, and just as importantly, GM guidelines on making exciting adventures when all the old pillars of familiarity have fallen away.
  • True AIs, the vast and terrible intellects that can bring forth wonders and ruin in equal measure. Playing a synthetic VI or aspiring organic godmind? Learn how your PC can accumulate the tech they need to ascend to this new plane of being.
  • Mechs, for those GMs who relish the thunder of steel titans on their far-future battlefields.
  • Heroic PCs, for groups that want to trade the gritty, lethal tone of a standard campaign for classic space opera, with larger-than-life heroes and superhuman skills.
  • Society creation, customizing a world or a hab with its own culture and history, pre-designed with fault lines and conflicts to engage your heroes. You’ll get more than a dry recounting of details; you’ll get the information you need to build adventures that fit with this world’s smouldering tensions.
  • Space Magic, with rules and guidelines for introducing sorcerous powers and old-school magic into your starfaring adventurers, with sagacious Magisters, versatile Arcanists, and Adepts graced with supernatural powers.

So leap forward, brave adventurer! The stars await you, and the wild glories of an untamed sky!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

As we continue To the Stars Week, here’s another galaxy-spanning sci-fi project designed for 5e-driven interstellar adventuring. Whether you want to expand your current D&D game into space-faring territory or start a brand new campaign, this book has you covered.

Note that this is the Alpha version of Dark Matter, meaning there’s placeholder art and things are generally not quite as polished while they adapt to feedback to update the thing. You’ll get the automatic updates without any additional cost, but you probably want to hold off on printing anything out until they get past Alpha stage.

Dark Matter is a full science fiction conversion for 5th Edition that unlocks a universe of adventure for your table, without leaving your favorite fantasy staples behind. The core book is is over 250 pages and will grow and improve as we add the finishing touches.

Everything in Dark Matter, from character options to space combat, is easy to learn, generic enough to use with any sci-fi setting, and made to work with 5th Edition. We take great pride in making sure that everything we write is fun and balanced for everyone who plays.

Dark Matter is for any player or GM who wants a little more sci-fi at their table. Though it’s a full campaign setting, Dark Matter is designed with flexibility as a top priority: the rules and options in Dark Matter can seamlessly be applied to any 5E campaign from the definitely-not-Star-Wars settings the to all-inclusive fantasy games. You need Dark Matter if you want to throw a blaster, laser sword, or starship into your next game, even if it’s only for one session.

**This book is currently in Alpha playtesting. It contains all of its playable material, but it also contains placeholder art assets in some places. As the book proceeds to its Beta and Final release versions, this version will be updated automatically**

Dark Matter is a 250+ page hardcover book with full-color illustrations and gorgeous art direction. Its 8 chapters (and appendicies) are chock full of sci-fi action, from beginning to end. Here’s what every chapter entails:

The ‘Verse: An introduction to the universe at large, providing the all-important top-down view on everything. This chapter details much of the ‘verse’s history, outlines all the major races, introduces all the major factions, and gives some insight in how to adventure around the galaxy.

Races: Six new playable character races, plus an extremely customizable human subrace, to inhabit the ‘verse alongside the usual fantasy standard of elves, dwarves, gnomes, and so on. Your next character could be an Amoeboid, a shapeshifting ooze-person, a Vect, a living construct of magical technology, or an Avia-Ra, a bird-headed sun worshiper.

Gadgeteer: A highly-customizable technological base class (complete with four subcalsses) that uniquely belongs in the Dark Matter universe. 

Character Options: A swathe of archetypes for every class in 5E core; plus a handful for Mage Hand Press classes, a deluge of new feats, a host of new backgrounds, and three new skills. With these options, you can finally play the tech-savvy gnomish space marine or the dashing elven starship pilot you’ve always longed for.

Equipment: Blasters, laser swords, rocket hammers, magic items, artifacts, and more! This chapter contains everything from personal radios and tool kits to universe-shaping artifacts. You know what they say: hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side!

Ships: Innovative rules for space combat, options for assembling and customizing your own starship, and over 40 example ships to populate your space battles. Everything you need to explore the universe! Will you spend your hard-earned gold on upgrading the dark matter drive in your custom Freelancer, or does it need another battery of pulse cannons?

Monsters: A bestiary full of alien critters from the adorable thrwirrel to sinister wandering rift. These creatures, all of which come with full descriptions and statistics, should provide a sci-fi challenge all the way from 1st level to 20th. In addition, the Monsters chapter comes stocked with a vast array of NPCs, ready to pilot opposing vessels and populate humanoid factions. 

Spells: A catalog of spells to influence technology, harness hardlight, and travel the universe. From cantrips like technomancy, which give some harmless tech-manipulation, to the devastating orbital hardlight cannon (which is a magic space cannon that is every ounce as cool as it sounds), there’s spells for every caster of every class and every level.

Appendices: The appendices of this book are a treasure trove of world-building fun, including tables to randomly-generate exotic alien planets, a breakdown of neat spacer lingo, a d100 table of plot hooks, and even a helpful unit reference and conversion guide!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

During last week’s New Year, New Game series of Picks, I featured bundles for Star Trek Adventures and Esper Genesis, two starfaring RPGs of sci-fi adventuring. With China’s moon landing and SpaceX and other companies going all-in to get us off this planet, it feels like a great time to celebrate To the Stars Week.

So let’s look at the great-grandaddy of all beyond-the-stars RPGs, Travellerand this latest supplement for the current edition, Traveller Companion. For GMs and players alike, it’s a modular set of expansions and alternatives to customize your science fiction experience.

The Traveller Companion is here…

This book is the ultimate toolkit for Traveller campaigns, allowing referees and Travellers to pick and choose the best additions for their adventures and explore the galaxy in greater detail than before. From alternate Traveller creation systems and training to gas giant operations and starports, from the effects of gravity and diseases to animal encounters on alien worlds and the use of transponders, there is a wealth of new rules-based material for all Traveller campaigns, ready to be unleashed on every new world, every starship, and every group of Travellers.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

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The final Pick for New Year, New Game Week (which, BTW, you only have three days left to take advantage of as of this posting) is a $10 bundle for Esper Genesisthe 5e-driven sci-fi project that really takes D&D to the stars in a beautiful and fascinating way.

“This is not a game that wants to be the property-of-your-choice, it’s a game that embraces sci-fi’s adventurous side. It is sci-fi with room for excitement and wonder. And 5E proves an excellent match for this, since EG’s relationship to sci-fi is much like 5E’s relationship to fantasy – it is part of the landscape, but the first priority is to play a game.” — Rob Donoghue, Evil Hat Productions

“Esper Genesis takes a proven system we all know and maps it onto an exciting new science fiction setting. These folks have really drilled down into 5th edition rules and popular cinematic sci-fi and made it all work together.” — Cam Banks, RPG Designer

The main piece is here is the core rules at a significant discount, though there’s also an adventure and some freebies conveniently attached.

(From the Esper Genesis product description) –

Heroic Sci-fi Roleplaying

The Esper Genesis Roleplaying Game is a powerhouse of awesome sci-fi adventure. The Core Manual is the first of three rulebooks, containing character creation rules new sci-fi races, character classes, backgrounds, skills, gear, rules for planetary exploration, high-tech weapon combat, starship combat, esper powers, and so much more!

Full 5E Compatibility

Esper Genesis is designed with an infinite universe in mind, powered by the 5th edition rules of the world’s greatest roleplaying game. If you’ve played any 5E game, you already know how to play Esper Genesis.  Though the system is easily integrated into any 5E setting, it is also a standalone product. You do not need the D&D rulebooks or any other 5E product in order to play.

This product contains:

  • Nine playable character races from the Silrayne Arc galactic setting.
  • Eight Character Classes
  • Sci-fi tailored backgrounds, equipment, and gear to round out your galactic pioneer
  • A full list of esper powers, allowing your characters to warp time, space, and matter
  • High-tech gear and weapons, including rules for modern weapons, burst fire, and explosives
  • Rules and options for modern and futuristic vehicles, space travel, and galactic exploration
  • A fully integrated starship combat system
  • A brief overview of the galaxy, people, and cultures

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Today’s New Year, New Game Week Pick is a $15 bundle containing $50 of stuff for the superheroic Masks: A New Generation, a Powered by the Apocalypse game that serves as one of the stronger examples of the system’s versatility. In addition to the core rulebook, the bundle also includes three key supplements to help you structure a complete and long-lasting campaign in Halcyon City.

(From the core rulebook description):

Masks: A New Generation is an ENnie-award winning superhero roleplaying game in which a team of young heroes fights villains, saves lives, and tries to figure out who they are—noble paragons? Dark avengers? Or regular kids? All against the backdrop of Halcyon City, the greatest city in the world.

This is the Playbook Edition – while not a second edition, this version includes the playbooks in the book, along with some changes to content. The rules are the same as the first edition, however.

In this book, you get:

– Ten playbooks for young superheroes, so you can create your own awesome characters
– Rules for superheroic action, interpersonal drama, and changing identity
– Detailed instructions for running the game, building villains, and playing to find out what happens
– Tools for creating your own custom material for 
Masks

Masks makes use of the same rules-light engine as Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts, Dungeon World, Urban Shadows, and Epyllion to create stories about young superheroes in the vein of Young Justice, Young Avengers, and Teen Titans.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Still deep in the throes of New Year, New Game Week, here’s a chance to grab what many feel is the best-ever expression of the Star Trek setting as a gaming universe. At $20, it’s a nice price for $50 worth of stuff, including the core Star Trek Adventures rules, the first set of eight adventures, and the Command Division supplement.

(From the core rulebook description) –

Welcome to your new assignment, Captain. Your continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before…

Star Trek Adventures takes you to the Final Frontier of the Galaxy, where new discoveries await keen explorers of Starfleet. Your duties may take you to the edges of known space, or to Federation colonies in need, to the borders of neighbouring galactic powers or into the eye of interstellar phenomena. Your ship and your crew epitomise the best Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets has to offer, and you are needed more than ever.

A new threat looms from across the Gamma Quadrant, as it is confirmed by Commander Sisko and his crew that the Dominion, led by the Founders, represent a significant threat to the Alpha Quadrant. Tension is already high in the region of Bajor and Deep Space 9, as the Maquis continue to act against the Cardassian-Federation peace treaty, with Captain Janeway and the crew of the U.S.S. Voyager preparing for their mission in the Badlands. It is a volatile time for the Federation and new crews have never been in higher demand.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

As New Year, New Game Week rolls on, we take a look at the Tiny Dungeon phenomenon (which seems to be part of a bigger “tiny game” kind of aesthetic I’ve also seen in the board game space). The idea is to keep it low-impact in terms of rules, headspace, and resources, and this series of products seems to knock that right out of the park.

This bundle, which is $50 of product for $15, has seven items in it, including core rules, monsters, treasures, adventures, and more.

TINY DUNGEON 2e is a minimalist game, designed to be easy to play, teach, and set up! It only requires three six sided dice per player, some 3×5 notecards and some imagination (ok, a lot of imagination, like any good RPG!)

Characters are quickly built by selecting Traits that define what situations they gain Advantage (where they roll 3d6), but be careful! Certain situations or effects can impose Disadvantage (where a player rolls 1d6), which makes it more difficult to complete tasks! A character consists of three Traits, a Heritage, Family Trade and Belief, and will all fit on a 3×5 notecard (with plenty of room for notes and treasure!)

A intuitive pass/fail system enables the most experienced, as well as the newest gamer to pick it up quickly. All you have to do is have one result of a 5 or 6 in your roll, and you accomplish your task! The mechanics get out of the way and fade to the background as your group tells their story and exciting adventures unfold!

Included in the Tiny Dungeon 2e book are exciting micro-settings designed to help a GM create a new and vibrant world to explore, and this bundle also includes the fully aquatic campaign setting Destiny of Tides, alongside tools to make the Gamemaster’s life easier, as well as exciting Destiny of Tides pre-gens!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

“Hello boys! I’m BAAAAAACK!” – Russel Casse (Randy Quaid), Independence Day

I hope everyone had a grand holiday season (which, for me, extended to January 4th, on which day we celebrated that I’d manage to not die for yet another year). Now we return to the Picks of the Day with New Year, New Game Week, a celebration of your opportunity to dive into a new game, new setting, and/or new rules as you get back to the table in 2019. DriveThruRPG has a number of bundles set up to celebrate exactly this idea, and we’re opening up with the Pugmire Bundle featuring my buddy, Eddy Webb, and his celebration of Good Dogs in the Days to Come.

For $9.99, you get $33 of Pugmire content to give you all you need for a complete deep dive into the system and the setting. The bundle includes:

  • Bizarre Bestiary
  • Digging Up Trouble
  • Pan’s Guide for New Pioneers
  • Pugmire Core Rulebook
  • Pugmire Interactive Character Sheet
  • The Pugmire System Guide for OGL 5e Creators
  • The Secret of Vinsen’s Tomb
  • Adventurers, Acrobats, and Acolytes
  • Character Creation Guide
  • That’s a Rich Tale

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!