Friday, July 21, 2017

Patreon Preview: the Alliance

Not what I had in mind
but sure, why not?
Alright, I've been dribbling out Alliance details for awhile now, but now I've well and truly got it finished, and for those of you who aren't patrons, it's scheduled already through August (in what will prove to be a very hectic posting schedule!).  If you are a $3+ patron, though, you can have it now!  It clocks in at 45,000 words, plus a 15,000 word personnel file.  No wonder it took so damn long to write!

This explicitly includes aristocratic space knights, revised versions of the "dueling styles" (the destructive form, the graceful form and the swift form), and four new noble houses (the beautiful Sabine, the haughty Grimshaw, the tragic and lethal Elegans, and the gruff Kain).

If you're a patron, you can check it out here (If you're seeing this, that means I haven't had a chance to put the link up yet, but you can just go to my patreon below and get your juicy preview)!  If you're not, as usual, I'd love to have you.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Alliance Militia Personnel

Militia Strategies

Militias focus almost exclusively on defense, and each militia has its own approach to defense (which makes coordinating between multiple militia somewhat difficult!). To simplify, consider three strategies below, each of which offers some optional traits that members of a militia following that strategy might have.


The militia uses trench warfare, embanked guns, minefields and planetary shields to create impenetrable zones of control that the enemy cannot bypass.

Optional traits:

  • Barricade Tactics [1]. Militia in cover apply an additional -1 to opponents attempting to shoot at them, giving opponents a -3 rather than -2.
  • Cool under Fire [1]. Militia ignore the -2 for pop-up attacks (this increases all “Fire from Cover” Tactics by +2!).
  • Enhanced Dodge (Dive for Cover) [5]. Militia have +1 to defend from explosions.


The militia relies on mobility, vehicular supports and “defense in depth” to defeat the enemy. The create a flow, flexible defensive line that can absorb the enemy’s advance, and flow around the enemy lines for a counter attack.

Optional traits:

  • Move Under Cover [1]. Assume the NPCs always find cover, if any is remotely available, at the end of a move on foot.
  • Motorized Training [1]. Ignore penalties for firing from a moving vehicle if a passenger. Gain the following tactic:
    • Fire on the Move (+1 to base skill): While aboard a moving vehicle (-0) as a passanger, make an All-Out (+1) Sighted attack with your weapon, firing a single shot at your opponent. You may not defend (but your vehicle may).
  • Basic Move +1 [5].


The militia fights using asymmetrical tactics against a superior foe. They prefer to fade into the terrain, to break apart under attack and reform later, which makes them maddeningly difficult to defeat, though it does little to actually protect the land or infrastructure.

Optional traits:

  • Dead Eye [1]. The nameless NPC may aim for 4 turns for a maximum accuracy bonus of +3 (rather than +2). Gain the following tactic:
    • Careful Aim (+Accuracy+5 to base skill): After aiming for 4 turns, apply full accuracy +3 from weapon and make an All-Out (+1) Sighted attack with your weapon, firing a single shot at your opponent. You may not defend.
  • Sure-Footed (Terrain): Ignore up to -2 to attack penalties for a specific terrain, or -1 to defense penalties for a specific terrain.
  • Fit [5].

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Alliance Militia Materiel

The Alliance military is defined by a strategy of distributed defense. Where the empire manages the defense of all member worlds, the Alliance expects their military forces to manage their own defense, and where they cannot, the alliance calls upon aristocrats to ride to the rescue of member worlds with their highly mobile fleets. Thus, we might expect that each world has unique armaments informed by the nature of their worlds. To keep things simple, I’d rather focus on some basic core strategies likely common to all worlds, and then expand it out a bit to emphasize the unique nature of each world.

The commonalities of strategy mainly come in that distributed defense. The Alliance offers very little money to its worlds for defense, expecting them to defend themselves and, of course, quietly enforcing a dependence on the nobility who can come in to “rescue them.” This means that most militia soldiers are less professional soldiers and more reservists with a modicum of training combined with enthusiasts who like to practice on their own. It also means that their gear tends to be cheap, and usually what they already had on hand. The result might be less disciplined than a typical BAD -2 army, but it’s close enough to BAD -2 for my purposes.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Alliance Militia

The Alliance believes strongly in independent sovereignty, and a key component of that sovereignty is independent military power, a feature of the Federation violated only once, a violation that caused the rise of the Empire. Each member world has the right to its own defensive force, called a Militia. In fact, the Senate sees a militia not as a right but as a duty, and typically sanctions worlds that leave their defense to the rest of the Alliance. One reason the Alliance has survived as long as it has is because a blaster lurks behind every blade of grass.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alliance Constabulary: Personnel

Just as criminal players dealing with the Empire will need mooks to fight, so too will criminal players facing down the criminal justice of the Alliance.  But, again, we find that the Alliance has wildly varying law enforcement.  This results in a highly customizable set of mooks that require a little bit of work from you, dear reader, to put them into action.  Once again, we have three different broad sorts of law enforcement, and we also have three different sets of equipment (the most common being Rook & Law and Stellar Dynamics).  You'll have to put the pieces together, just like you have to with insurgents, but I do have a "standard example" available for each entry.

Let me know what you think of the approach, and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Alliance Constabulary: Materiel

Our space cops need guns.  While the Empire has a single supplier, the Alliance has many varied suppliers and needs, which means that what sorts of arms and armor our constables might have vary depending on their intent and on where they get their weapons from.

A huge variety of guns resulted from my working on this post, not all of which are listed below, but I want to thank GURB once again for providing much needed variety for my weapons.

This design process went through quite a few steps, so you'll see me revisit again tomorrow when I look at Personnel, but that's because Materiel articles are design journals, while personnel documents actually make it into the final work.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Alliance Constabulary

The Alliance expects each planet to govern itself, which means it expects each planet to have its own laws and to enforce them.  That seems simple enough, until one crashes headlong into the fact that alliance members regularly intermingle and each has their own law.  What happens when a nobleman and members of an independent corporation run afoul of the law on their planet?  How do the locals handle that arrest?  How do they handle people who have fled justice on their world and have tried to find sanctuary on some other world?

Where the Empire allows its law enforcement to be judge, jury and executioner, the Alliance most definitely does not. It demands rule of law, not just out of sheer righteousness, but also out of the necessity of so many different legal systems rubbing elbows with one another.  If you're going to accuse a nobleman of breaking the law, you must present evidence to the House that governs him if you want to see justice done!

The result of this is a wild variety of law enforcement systems and approaches to the law meant to deal with the veritable chaos of the Alliance legal system.  I offer a few ideas below.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Patreon Preview: Alliance Planetary Personnel

Planetary Governments, naturally, need planetary militias and planetary law enforcement.  After all, the senate expects each world to be sovereign, independent and able to engage in its own defense and to handle its own criminal.  However, that independence means that each planet will have its own approach to these things.  The result turned into one of those highly varied documents full of opponents that I'm never quite sure what to do with, so I held off on releasing it and, with the release of planetary government, I offer it now to my Patreons as a preview.

Ultimately, the document revisits the ideas presented in Iteration 4 on law enforcement and alliance military personnel, with a greater focus on variety and specific strategic or law enforcement doctrines.

This is available to all $3+ patrons.  If you're a patron, check it out!  If you're not, I'd love to have you.  For the rest of you, they'll be up soon enough!

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Planetary Governments of the Alliance

As I wrote the Alliance, it became clear that the divide between planets and the aristocracy was a crucial element of the political landscape of the Alliance.  On a particular world, one faced the military and law enforcement of a planetary body, but that might technically fall under the purview of an interstellar aristocracy, and certainly off-world, one faced the naval power of the aristocracy.  So for the next couple of weeks, I want to stop and take a look at the sorts of worlds that exist within the Alliance, which will be a fairly generic exploration (given that any world that serves the Alliance could just as easily fall under the sway of the Empire, or be independent).  Today, we'll kick off this little series with Planetary Governments themselves.

Friday, June 30, 2017

State of the Patreon: July

June was an up and down month for the blog.  For the blog itself, viewership fell off sharply, and even on Patreon, I didn't see any up-tick for access when Orphan of the Stars came out.  The conclusion I must draw is that, despite much praise for the ideas, there wasn't a lot of interest in Orphan of the Stars.  I suspect this is likely because I haven't built up an audience.  There are certainly people who have been coming to this blog for Psi-Wars for months now who took a vacation from the blog while I took a vacation from Psi-Wars.

But that vacation worked.  I have more material!  Next month, I'll unveil planetary governments and (unless things go horribly wrong), four noble houses of the Alliance.  I haven't decided if I want to break corporations out into their own thing yet or if I want to wait until I start looking at the galaxy as a whole.  Stay tuned!

Despite the general lack of interest in Orphan of the Stars, my Patreon has picked up, especially here at the end of the month!  I've hit my second goal, which means I have the funding for art!  It does turn out that art is more expensive than I'd hoped, but the monthly $50 I've set aside for it should get us a nice piece at least once a month.  I would like to announce that I'm going to change the remaining stretch goals.  I have two sketch artists working on general designs (Patreons who participated with the Trader polls will remember some sketch work by Michelle) and concepts for me and they're doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, but they actually do charge money when other people ask, and I think it fair that we pay up if we can, so the next couple of stretch goals will be about making sure our sketch artists get paid.

Next month will be a little touch and go like this month has been, but it looks like you might get a second look at cybernetics, and then I'd like to dive into starships, including: more detailed thrusters, a deeper look at hyperspace travel and how to detect it, and then corvettes, corvettes, corvettes.  If I'm lucky, I'll have a new template for you, but I'm still trying to build up ground on the aristocracy, so we'll have to see!  Speaking of the aristocracy, $3+ will see the aristocrat documents as soon as they're ready, and for $5+, I have perhaps the oldest poll I had arranged, the poll that kicked off the idea of polls, which is the poll for a new aristocratic house.

I want to thank everyone for supporting my patreon, and for supporting this blog.  I do this for you, so it's wonderful to see it so appreciated. I also thank you for your patience.  Transitioning into fatherhood has been a wonderful adventure.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Senate of the Alliance

The last time we looked at "the Senate," it was a relic of the Federation's past, a rubber stamp for the Emperor's wishes.  Naturally, the Alliance, which claims to be the true heir to the Federation, has a Senate of its own, one with real teeth and real power.

Today, I'll look at this ultimate government for the Alliance, the one point at which all members of the Alliance converge to air their grievances, to welcome new members, to plot the overthrow of the Empire, and to make panicked plans with the Empire finally turns its great military juggernaut upon them.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Patreon Post: Mech Mob, the Rebellion of Grist

Last month, I gave my $5+ patrons a chance to vote on a rebellion, and I chose Dun Beltain's homeworld of Grist, as it was the only world that had serious details available for it already.

Today, for all $3+ patrons (as it's a preview!), you can now see the result of the poll, the fractious and idealistic Mech Mob, and the various tools they use (or seek to use) against the Empire in their pursuit of indepedence.

If you're a patron, check it out!  If you're not, I'd love to have you (Have I mentioned lately that we just reached our second goal of art work!  More about this soon).

Support me on Patreon!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Patreon Post: The Rebellion of Grist Poll Results

Last month, after we finished discussing insurgencies, I put up a poll where my Patreons could vote on the Rebellion of Grist, a junk world in the Empire near the dangerous border with the Cybernetic Union.  Today, after  along delay, I have the poll results and notes on how I've chosen to synthesize them.

If you're a $5+ Patron (a Companion or better), check it out!  If not, I'd love to have you (but note that this'll likely be less interesting for you, as you didn't participate in the original poll.  Tomorrow, however...)

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Patreon Post: Modular Robots

Hello, dear reader.  I've been hard at work finishing the Rebellion of Grist based on our vote, oh, last month and one of the choices I offered, that people took, was combat robots.  I don't have combat robots!  Well, I do: Ultra-Tech has combat robots (about 2), but if I use those, then I'm using the same ones over and over again.  I knew I wanted to look at robot design eventually, as I wasn't happy with the robots I had on hand, by I thought I would wait until I took a look at the Cybernetic Union, but no such luck: I needed that system now.

So, that's what I have for you today!  For today, for all $1+ patrons, I have a modular robot design system, inspired by the Modular Mecha pyramid article, including a design journal discussing why I made the choices I did.  If you're already a patron, go check it out!  If you're not a patron, hey guys, it's $1!  That's less than a pyramid article, and you get access to all of my other $1 articles, including the recent tech-week.  Check it out!

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Alliance

Well, my dear reader, we've finally returned to Psi-Wars.  I have the Alliance for you, the rump state of the old Federation, which combines the remnants of the old Maradon noble houses with rebellious planets and anti-Imperial corporations to create an industrial base from which the rebellion fights the good fight.

I've noted before that Psi-Wars will go in a different direction than Star Wars, and this is where that difference starts to become obvious.  The Empire of Psi-Wars and Star Wars tend to resemble one another strongly, but that isn't so here, and that's because Psi-Wars has some core needs that Star Wars doesn't.  Star Wars prefers the simpler black-and-white politics of the good Rebellion, an underdog desperately outmatched, vs the evil Empire.  Psi-Wars, being an Action RPG, needs to have the sort of crazy internal politics that you tend to see in most action movies (You know, where the CIA sends you to topple a dictator that it, itself, put into power).  I also don't want to tell you who you should be playing as, and who your opponent should be.  Imperial players need a good Alliance to go up against, and Alliance players need internal problems to solve.  Thus, the Alliance needs to be more nuanced than the Rebellion of Star Wars. Furthermore, Star Wars draws a lot of its inspiration from World War 2, but that didn't involve the French Resistance defeating Nazi Germany, but the Allies, industrial powers like the US, Britain and Russia, defeating Nazi Germany, with an assist from the French Resistance.  Where, pray tell, does the Star Wars rebellion get all those carriers and capital ships?

Hence the Alliance.  It represents a fractious and often politically tentative alliance of powers drawn together by their opposition to the Empire, and their general preference for the past.  This makes it a complicated group, heterogeneity in contrast to the Empire's homogeneity, and that took me a lot of work (and, as of this writing, still not complete yet).  I'd love feedback on it, as I slowly unveil it, especially how tenable a setting it presents.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Patreon Post: Alliance Preview 1: Planetary Governments

Hello my dear Psi-Wars fans! The time I took off has been well spent, and I come to you with the latest installment of Psi-Wars: The Alliance!

First, I want to note that the Alliance of Psi-Wars is very different than the Rebellion of Star Wars. Where the Rebellion is a bunch of rag-tag rebels from various walks of life who have managed to inexplicably get their hands on serious hardware. The Alliance is the rump state of the old Federation, the last hold-outs against the Empire, who take on a role similar to the Allies in WW2 and the Senatorial forces in the Roman Civil War. Thus, the Alliance has not only its own military, but it's own government and law enforcement!

The Alliance has also turned out to be much more complex and heterogeneous than the great, monolithic Empire, so I need to discuss the various parts of it. Today, I have the first chunk for you, which are planetary governments, which turned out to be much more important than I thought. Not only are they diverse, but you can also use ideas presented herein to create independent worlds out in the galaxy (which is effectively what they are), though this is an element I should revisit.

This is available to all Fellow Travelers ($3+). If you're already a patron (perhaps to check out the Orphan of the Stars document?) check it out! If you're not, I'd love to have you!

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Orphans of the Stars Political Document

meeting_the_emperor by klausmasterflex
First, I want to thank my fans for their patience.  This project has led to a startling drop in views, no doubt because the Psi-Wars fans aren't, you know, seeing Psi-Wars, and Orphans hasn't built up as much of a base, and also, the documents are a bit dry.  I've taken the time to rebuild some lead time on Psi-Wars, and I'm pleased to announce that we'll return to it starting next week, with a look at the Alliance, the beating heart of the rebellion against the Empire.

For those of you who are here for Orphans of the Stars, the draft is available on Patreon.  It's not particularly thoroughly edited (you'll get it "as is"), but I would appreciate your feedback.  It's 20k words on running political games for a sweeping space opera, but I'm sure you can alter it to fit other genres.  It's $5; if you're already a $5+ subscriber, you can just get it.  If you're not, just subscribe and you'll have it. You can immediately delete your pledge there after if this is all you want (you should be charged immediately and then never again), but while you're there, check out some other material, see if you like what I'm doing.  Some especially interesting posts might be:

  • Modelling Grav Cars, which includes a document that discusses how to use Vehicles 3e with GURPS 4e, provided you have access to works like GURPS Spaceships and several pyramid articles.  It's the best I've managed to cobble together, and it works pretty well until Vehicles 4e comes out.
  • Dirty Ultra-Tech, which borrows from GURPS High-Tech's Dirty Tech sidebars and applies them to Blasters
  • The Recent Tech Week has some general material, including a look at Weapons, and a discussion of Armor
If you're a psi-wars fan, dig back over the polls and some of the material that have come out of it!

Support me on Patreon!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Orphans of the Stars: Political Conflict

This will be my last "design notes" post for Orphans of the Stars.  I'm going to post the actual draft next week at this time and place, giving me a little extra time to work on Psi-Wars (the Alliance is coming along nicely, though it'll be a very different beast than what we see in Star Wars.  Stay tuned, my Psi-Wars faithful!).  It'll be available on Patreon for $5, as stated before.

Today, I look into the most important element of political gameplay, conflict, which allows you to defeat your opponents through war, espionage, subversion and economic sanction, which is just what everyone seems to really want when they talk about "political gameplay."  Most of this made it into the final cut, and more!  And even if you don't want sweeping, interstellar political contests, the ideas presented herein might still prove useful inspiration for your own political games.

GURPS Day: How are high point total campaigns possible?

It's kinda like that.

So I'm just curious. How are 300+ character point campaigns even possible? I'm a "lower decks" kinda guy myself (between 100-130 points), and haven't ever considered one of those ultra-powerful types of parties. Given what I know of the GURPS 3d6 mechanics, however, how does that even work? Unless one limits the players to purchasing more breadth of Skills rather than height, it would generate Skills and Basic Attributes so high that only a 17 or 18 would indicate failure. I'd think whoever goes first in a round would pretty much accomplish every goal before anyone else had a chance, and in combat, you'd get strike/successful dodge/strike/successful dodge ad nauseam against NPCs. Unless the GM contrives clumsy penalties that mediate every dice roll. I'm sure there are supplements out there specific to high-point campaigns, and I wondered if the mechanics change somewhat in consideration of such super-powered settings. Otherwise, it would be like an AD&D campaign in which only a natural 20 or natural 1 ever indicates anything besides a miss or successful Saving Throw.
-Thomas W. Thornberry 
Douglas Cole, of Gaming Ballistics, spread this around  the GURPS day list, and it personally struck a chord with me, not just because I so regularly run and play in these sorts of games, but because he talks my language.  Breadth? Height? Bell Curves?!  Let's do this!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Orphans of the Stars: Organizational Gameplay

We know what the overall themes of gameplay are now, but we need to know what the PCs, themselves, do with it.  The ruling noble might decree that the planet is to wage war upon a rival while also changing the ideology of the people, but what organizations wage war? Who changes the ideology of the people?  And how and when do the PCs improve their organizations?  How does all of this translate into, you know, something fun like an action scene or a dramatic seduction or a cunning infiltration?

Eventually, less of this material made it into the final draft because it turned out to be more complicated than necessary, but I present the whole thing for your consideration.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Orphan of the Stars: the Gameplay of Politics

After I had laid out my plans for the pieces of the game, I found it necessary to think my whow the game would play.  This turned into a three-part discussion, starting with high level politics, and I hoped to turn the game from a look at a bunch of stats and into a dynamic series of interesting choices that impacted the players and was impacted by them in turn (you know, gameplay).

Monday, June 5, 2017

Orphan of the Stars: Ideology as Will

One core element I wanted for Psi-Wars was ideology.  I wanted religion, culture and the flow of ideas to be a major element of gameplay, both in trying to create it, and trying to manage it.  Dune had its faith, yes, but it also had the cultural differences between the "soft" nobility, the originally "hard" sarduakar and the legitimately "hard" fremen.  In many ways, Dune turns on what it takes to make great men, or the upsides and downsides of certain ideological leanings.

This also assists us with our desire to have multiple genetic lines, as we can use different ethnicities as receptacles for ideological differences. Thus, not only can our Not-Fremen have "wild" genetic differences from our local House, but it can have ideological differences, and when managing both the nobility of the House and the wild not-Fremen, one must be aware of the clashes in their ideologies and carefully navigate them.

Thus, I wrote up a proposal for how to treat the last of our three central elements: Ideology, which has no rulebook in GURPS (THS's memetics come closest, but those tend to be shorter lived than what I have in mind)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Orphans of the Stars: Boardroom and Curia as Organizations

The Imperial Court by Pictsy
The next of our triumverate is organizations, the people who actually build, maintain and attack the capital nobles use to enhance their power.  For this, the obvious choice is to tackle GURPS Boardroom and Curia, which was designed for running organizations.

So, today, I take a look at what these organizations can do for us, and how PCs will maintain them (as that's the core premise of Orphan of the Stars: You run one of your lord's major organizations to enact his will).

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Orphan of the Stars: City Stats as Capital

In my previous post, I noted that physical capital can provide a basis for political power.  To represent this, I settled on Bill Stoddard's GURPS City Stats.

This represents the planetary lord maintaining his planet's infrastructure and expanding his power by expanding his industrial, commercial or population base.  Naturally, City Stats focus on cities, while I'm focusing on planets, but while this abstracts the gargantuan nature of planets a bit, it works well enough for my purposes.

Naturally, you can reversen engineer my material to work with actual cities (You'll have to adjust some of the costs, though)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Orphans of the Stars: Meditations on Politics

The first thing we chose to focus on, and what this series will devote all of its attention to, is politics.  I wrote the following post as a way of explaining the directions we could go, and how I saw politics. Eventually, it should be noted, that my client chose for extreme political systems, which means politics-as-wargame, which is what the final document looks at.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Orphan of the Stars: Iteration 1 Notes

This week I take a break from Psi-Wars to present: Orphan of the Stars

At the year's end (in the heart of Iteration 5 for Psi-Wars), someone approached me to write up some setting material for them, one inspired by a mixture of Dune, GURPS Biotech and, especially, a deep political gameplay.  That last is the focus of my work on Orphan of the Stars, and today, I present the Iteration 1 notes that I cobbled together based on his request, an outline of where I saw development going.

Like Psi-Wars, Iteration 1 for Orphan of the Stars, which wasn't even called Orphan of the Stars at the time, is a basic outline of how to make it work with as little work as possible, though in this case it was more of a discussion of my thoughts and where my patron could go in his own direction if he chose not to retain my services.  Thus, you can see it as a sort of guiding document.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

State of the Blog: June

This post is a bit early, though I suppose given my preference for posting on Thursdays, it fits.  I wanted to take a second and talk about what's up, what isn't, and what the blog might look like over the next couple of months.

First and foremost, as anyone will children already knew, my ambition for maintaining my writing after the birth of my son was... ambitious.  I have had entire days where all of my hours were working, eating and taking care of him.  He's honestly not so bad, most of the time, but sometimes, I simply have no time to write, and when I do, I'm so exhausted that it's difficult to find focus.  That doesn't mean I've stopped, of course, but the breakneck pace of 4 posts a week, plus a patreon post, is turning out to be a bit much.  That, paired with losing my lead time to Orphan of the Stars, means I need a break to catch up.

So here's the plan.

Orphans of the Stars

If Orphans is going to slow me down then, by god, it's also going to be what gives me a break.  The fellow who commissioned the work also gave me permission to do with it what I pleased: it's my work, he just commissioned it.  What I have, in addition to the document itself, is my personal design journal, and my thoughts on why it worked when other works haven't.  Over the next two weeks, I'm going to share this material with you, culminating in a Patreon exclusive access to the Orphans of the Stars rules for political gameplay, which will be available to all $5 patrons for June only.

This document breaks down Boardroom and Curia and various City Stat works to create an extremely detailed look at playing a "domain management" campaign.  I've designed it for a sort of "cut down" version of running planets, but in principle I think you could use its lessons for more down-to-earth games.

This will come with a change to my Patreon payment policy: currently, when you pledge, you are not charged.  Only at the beginning of the month do you get charged. Technically, that means you can pledge, access my material, and then delete your pledge, and never pay.  I've only had one person do this in the entire time I've run my Patreon, but I'd rather forestall it happening in the future, and I think you get enough material from my patreon to be worth the jump.  I also think most people don't realize that this is the case, and assume they get charged as soon as they join!  Now, this will actually be true.

I'll make the change on the 31st.  If you want to join, I recommend waiting until the 1st of June!

The Houses of the Alliance

As of this moment, I have got between 10 to 20k words on the Houses alone, and I need even more. What I thought might be simple has turned into something larger than the Empire, because I need to discuss an entire government's worth of organizations plus the very distinct character options that noble houses present.  So it's not that I have nothing, it's just that what I have hasn't been polished off yet.  I think you guys will enjoy them, though they represent a distinct shift in tone from Star Wars.  It looks to be about 2 months worth of posts, at this point, but we'll see.

I will hopefully release this after I finish up with my Orphan of the Stars posts.  It should come as a big chunk to all $3+ patrons, and then the rest of you will see it post-by-post on the blog.

The History of Tech

I know I promised it this month, but the outtakes of my work turned into Tech Week, so hopefully that'll mollify everyone.  I'm still hard and work on this, it's just that it turned out to be more work than I expected!  It also turned out to be very useful to my work on the houses, as they're steeped in ancient tradition.  Hopefully, I can finish it and release it as a series on my Patreon (pricing TBD).

And Beyond!

So that's it.  I've been able to maintain some pacing, but not as much as I would like.  I want to thank everyone for their patience, and I hope to see you next month!

Tech Week 4: Explosives Revisted (A Patreon Post)

It's Tech Week! Based on feedback or elements that have come up as I've worked on setting design, I've come up with some additional details on technology that I've been using to refine my material from the third iteration. Eventually, I'd like to separate the tech material off into its own little book, but there's still quite some work before I can do that.

Why is this on Patreon and not on my blog? Well, first, I don't want to interfere with the flow of my setting material and, second, this gets a little rambling and acts as something of a design journal.

Today, I revisit explosives. This may seem an odd choice, but explosives and infrastructure have a symbiotic relationship in the action genre. How many charges do you need to take out a factory? What sort of bombs are at your disposal? When I worked on the insurgency, I realized how important this was, and so I offer a thorough study of appropriate explosives and their impact on the Psi-Wars world, including 5 sample structures you can destroy!

This post is available to all $1+ patrons.  If you're patron check it out!  If you're not, I'd love to have you.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tech Week Part 3: Infotech Revisited (A Patreon Post)

It's Tech Week! Based on feedback or elements that have come up as I've worked on setting design, I've come up with some additional details on technology that I've been using to refine my material from the third iteration. Eventually, I'd like to separate the tech material off into its own little book, but there's still quite some work before I can do that.

Why is this on Patreon and not on my blog? Well, first, I don't want to interfere with the flow of my setting material and, second, this gets a little rambling and acts as something of a design journal.

Today, I revisit infotech. So far, I've just breezed past computers and used default assumptions for sensory technology. With this post, I dive deeper into what I really want out of my sensors, computers and what interstellar commuication infrastructure looks like.

This post is available to all $1+ patrons.  If you're not already a patron, I'd love to have you!

Support me on Patreon!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tech Week Part 2: Armor Revisited (A Patreon Post)

It's Tech Week! Based on feedback or elements that have come up as I've worked on setting design, I've come up with some additional details on technology that I've been using to refine my material from the third iteration. Eventually, I'd like to separate the tech material off into its own little book, but there's still quite some work before I can do that.

Why is this on Patreon and not on my blog? Well, first, I don't want to interfere with the flow of my setting material and, second, this gets a little rambling and acts as something of a design journal.

Today, I revisit armor. Action stories love fist fights, which make no sense in GURPS when fighting guys with armor, and the realism of this is questionable. Today, I look at some optional house rules to fix that, and then I dive deeper into the armor design systems offered in various Pyramid articles, including rules for using Battleweave and Cerablate Resin with them.

This is available to all $1+ Patrons.  If you're a patron, check it out!  If you're not, I'd love to have you.

Support me on Patreon!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Tech Week part 1: Weapons Revisited (a Patreon Post)

It's Tech Week!  Based on feedback or elements that have come up as I've worked on setting design, I've come up with some additional details on technology that I've been using to refine my material from the third iteration.  Eventually, I'd like to separate the tech material off into its own little book, but there's still quite some work before I can do that.

Why is this on Patreon and not on my blog?  Well, first, I don't want to interfere with the flow of my setting material and, second, this gets a little rambling and acts as something of a design journal.

Today, I revisit weaponry.  Specifically, I look at some house rules suggested by other blogs, take a look at fears regarding accuracy, recoil and rof combining to make supremely lethal weapons, and and then I explore EM disruptors (Utinni!), Stunners (why I haven't really talked abou them), Stingray Rounds, and Psi-Swords

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Patreon Post: The Rebellion of Grist

Junk World by Mark Molnar
For today's Patreon post, I've finished off my series on Insurgents by letting you, my dear Patreons, design the Rebellion of Grist, via a series of polls, including who leads the rebellion, what their great assets are, their great weaknesses, and what sort of rebellion they are.  These polls are available to all Companions ($5+).  If you're a patron, go check it out!  If you're not, I'd love to have you.

For the rest of you, I've included a cultural discussion of Grist below, which is a copy of Grist's culture from Iteration 5, which may have slipped past people unnoticed.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Insurgency Summary and Retrospective

When I started writing the Insurgency, I really had no idea where to start.  I had to dig around.  How are rebellions fought?  What are some good examples of rebellion?  What popped out, and I hope this doesn't reflect too badly on my material, were terrorists, from the IRA to the Taliban to the Vietcong, which served as the primary resources for my material, plus general discussions on how guerrillas win wars, and a look at the French Resistance.  I didn't use more classic inspirations, such as the American Minute Men or the various rebellions of the Americas, primarily because the technology, and thus the needs of war, differ so much.

One element that I find fascinating about the whole affair is how few changes I had to make to get these elements to fit into Psi-Wars.  Perhaps I'm not thinking about the technological differences enough, but I happen to think that's the strength of Psi-Wars: as it's essentially modern action thrillers with a thin, space opera veneer, our rebels don't use molotov cocktails and clubs, but plasma cells and neurolash batons, but otherwise everything looks very similar.  I think you have to knock the setting for originality, but at least give it marks for ease of entry.

The hardest part of this exercise was the realization that there's no such thing as a "typical" insurgency.  The Vietcong, French Resistance, Taliban and IRA all fight very differently, so your insurgency should fight very differently from my insurgency.  When I hit upon the design of four arbitrary "types" of insurgency, though, that made it work well in my mind, as well as a "grab bag" of various insurgent characters and tactics that you could grab for designing your own.  When I worked on the Empire, I came up with "Tactics" to help me sort out my thoughts on how the Empire fought.  I had initially dismissed doing the same for insurgencies, as they all fight so differently, but then I realized I could show those differences, use them to contrast.  The result is, perhaps, a bit long, but hopefully useful in giving you, my dear reader, how an insurgency might conduct itself and why it might actually be a serious threat.

So, how are we doing? Is the insurgency useful, appropriate and fitting?  Let's take a look, with a bonus "Insurgency Summary" for those who want to jump right in.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Patreon Post: Dirty Ultra-Tech

As I wrote up the rebel insurgency tactics, especially the hand-made munitions, I realized that many insurgents would be excellent bomb-makers and, in fact, that you might see improvised blasters, bombs and armor as part and parcel of gameplay in Psi-Wars, in the same way that it fits into GURPS Action.

GURPS High Tech has side-bars named "Dirty Tech," and I cribbed some notes from them to create a few ideas for home-made ultra-tech weaponry appropriate to psi-wars, and I offer them up to in Dirty Ultra-Tech!  This post will eventually make it into my final documents, and as such, it is now available to all $3+ patrons (my fellow travelers!).  If you're a patron, go check it out!  If you're not, I'd love to have you.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Insurgency Tactics

Unlike the Empire, insurgencies do not have a single, cohesive doctrine. Each has their own strategy, approach and tactics. Thus, the following list of tactics represents suggestions of tactics and agendas that an Insurgency might use to fight the Empire. No insurgency will use all tactics, rather, they are offered so that a GM can pick and choose from among them when designing his insurgency movement.

Each contains common insurgency types associated with the tactics. These are offered only as suggestions, to allow a GM to pick an insurgency type or two and quickly get an idea of how it might operate; GMs who wish to mix and match strategies and ideologies are free to do so! Each tactic also contains a list of suggested contact skills, which represent the sort of training necessary to carry out the tactic. Consider adding some of these to an insurgencies contacts or personnel.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Insurgency Personnel Part 2: Veteran Insurgents

Amateur Insurgents with sufficient experience or training, or Insurgents who come from more violent walks of life pose considerably more risk to security forces than their amateur counterparts, but still don’t represent the full lethality of a completely professional fighting force. Some insurgencies have just a few veterans sprinkled among amateurs, while others are composed entirely of veterans.
Some insurgencies are rumored to have even more elite agents, usually associated with the leader, and have ominous names like “the Black Hand” or “the Twelve Apostles.” These tend to be named NPCs or player characters, but the GM may instead treat them as skill 15 minions instead.
As before, each insurgent comes with a suggested insurgent type.  I provide these as guidelines, to get a perspective on different ways insurgencies might fight, and to emphasize that not all veteran insurgents appear in all insurgencies.  Feel free to mix, match and adjust.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Insurgency Personnel Part 1: Amateur Insurgents

The combatants who make up resistance movements vary as much as the movements themselves. Thus, the following list offers suggestions to help guide a GM who wishes to create his own resistance movement, or as a grab-bag of “generic” rebels he can throw at his PCs.

The characters listed below have no specific weapons. I have chosen generic weapons for GURPS Ultra-Tech or from previous iterations of Psi-Wars. These can be replaced with any similar or appropriate weapons.

Between the Insurgent Type and the suggested traits associated with each Personnel, a group might have a wide variety of disadvantages associated with them. These represent suggestions. Feel free to ignore, mix, or swap as you see fit. In principle, each Insurgency should have a unique character, and some flaws that a clever Imperial can exploit.

Lens: Insurgent Type

Different cells have different philosophies and approaches. Choose one of the following lens to represent the approach of a particular movement. Sometimes, multiple philosophies live within a particular movement, so a GM can mix and match as he sees fit. Furthermore, the lenses below offer a basic guideline on how to handle a particular philosophy, but also options for giving each movement some unique flavor.


Anarchists live for chaos. They rebel for the sake of rebellion and their fight with the Empire ultimately boils down to a disdain for authority. By default, their critical weaknesses are a lack of planning and an unwillingness to listen to others. Many anarchists fight for their own amusement and may have Trickster, while others do it for the sheer pleasure of watching things burn (Pyromania), or just to spite authority figures (Intolerance (Authority Figures)), or just because they’re so angry (Bad Temper). While most such characters do not last long, Anarchists, especially young ones, often have Overconfidence.

Default Traits: Impulsiveness (12), Stubbornness (12)

Freedom Fighter

Freedom Fighters fight for principles. They resemble Ideologues in this way, but they’re less devoted to a specific cause than that they’re just righteously indignant at the crimes of others. By default, they will not harm anyone not directly associated with the conflict, but nor can they just stand aside and do nothing as injustice is inflicted on those they know and love. This devotion to principles might manifest instead as Code of Honor (Rebel), and the drive to help others might become Charitable. Freedom Fighters tend to be derided by other factions as Gullible for their idealism; this may or may not be true.

Code of Honor (Rebel) [-15]: Only attack military targets or collaborators, never unassociated civilians. Never leave a a fellow rebel behind. Die before you betray your cell. If necessary, sacrifice yourself for the rebellion. When the conflict has finished, put aside your weapons and return to civilian life.

Default Traits: Pacifism (Cannot Harm Innocents), Sense of Duty (Community)


Ideologues fight for a purpose. By default, they devote themselves wholeheartedly to this ideal or, at their most generic, to the rebellion itself. What explicit purpose they fight for varies, and often determines the exact nature of their Fanaticism. Patriots devote themselves to the ideal of an independence movement or the safety of their people, and often have Sense of Duty (Nation). Fundamentalists devote themselves to religious ideals, and have some version of a Discipline of Faith. Ideologues who hold to more abstract ideals (like a deep devotion to some particular philosophy or economic model) might have a strict Code of Honor or be Hidebound. Those Ideologues who aren’t fanatics tend to be at least Selfless or have Intolerance (Outsiders or Nonbelievers).

Traits: Fanaticism.


Terrorists do whatever it takes to win; for them, atrocity is just part of the game! By default, Terrorists suffer (benefit?) from an overeagerness to shed blood and a complete disregard for the safety of others. Terrorists often enjoy the violence they inflict, and might have Bully or even Sadism. Most willingly engage in warcrimes for a reason, which might be Greed, Jealousy or Selfishness.

Traits: Bloodlust (12), Callous.

Amateur Resistance Members

Not every member of a resistance organization is a hardened warrior. In fact, most members lack decent training and believe that enthusiasm can make up for a lack of combat experience. In the most idealistic resistance movements, these eager allies assist on the edges of the battle until they’re skilled enough (or old enough!) to join on the front-lines. In more scrupulous resistance movements, they become cannon fodder, used to tire out the enemy before the resistance brings in its veteran fighters.

Child Soldier (Innocent)

Common Insurgent Types: Ideologues and Terrorists

Rebellion is often a family affair! Whether or not resistance members want children involved, children usually find a way to involve themselves. They might admire a big, strong resistance fighter that rescued them and want to be just like him or help him out. They might have lost their homes and only survive under the protection of the rebellion and seek to help however they can.

Innocent child soldiers don’t generally participate in combat, though they can; instead, they usually act as spotters, guides or distractions for the primary combatants. The stats below assume a human child of about 10 years of age.

Few resistance movements go out of their way to use Child Soldiers, but they’ll show up most often with Ideologues, who respect their devotion, and terrorists, who don’t care about the fate of the children. Anarchists tend to be dismissive of children, and Freedom Fighters actively oppose their use (It violates their principles!).

ST 8 HP 8 Speed 5
DX 9 Will 9/7 Move: 4
IQ 9 Per 10

HT 10/8 FP 11 SM -1
Dodge 8
Parry 7
DR: 0

Hold-Out Blaster (9): 2d(5) burn sur (Acc 5, Range 100/300 RoF 3, Bulk -1)

Rock (Thrown) (9): 1d-3 cr (Acc 1, Range 6)

Skills: Area Knowledge (Local)-10, Fast-Talk-10, Observation-10, Running-10, Stealth-10, Urban Survival-10.

Traits: Pitiable; Combat Paralysis; Easy to Kill -2; Pacifism (Reluctant Killer); Social Stigma (Minor);

Notes: Human; Untrained and largely unready for combat. Apply a -4 to shoot any recognizable humans (or other galactic sapients generally considered non-monstrous) with visible faces, or -2 if no face is visible. If they killed someone with a visible face, roll against Will or break down. If faced with imminent bodily harm, roll HT; on a failure, you are mentally stunned. The lower Will value applies to all fright checks. Always count as “innocent” for the purposes of Pacifism (Cannot Harm Innocents).

Child Soldier Tactics

Distract (10): Wave your arms, hurl insults and shout at the target. Roll a quick contest of Fast-Talk (10) vs your target’s will (if you hit the target with an attack in the past few seconds, including a thrown rock, add +1 to your Fast-Talk roll). On a success, the target must either chase you, attack you or suffer a -2 to combat for as long as you continue shouting at him.

Spot (10): If you see something, say something! Shout out advice to an ally and roll Observation (10). On a success, if your ally listens to your advice, he gains +1 to his next attack roll.


Common Insurgent Types: Freedom Fighters and Ideologues

The common man and woman serves as the backbone of the rebellion, not trained soldiers. The Partisan represents the civilian who takes up arms (whatever arms he or she can find) against the Empire. They tend to make poor soldiers, with an inability to handle direct confrontation well and, despite their enthusiasm, they falter when they come face to face with an enemy they must directly kill.

Partisans can show up in any resistance movement group, but they tend to be most common among Freedom Fighters, as they represent the every-day person pushed too far, or ideologues, as they represent the relatively common people who have given themselves over to some religious or philosophical cause.

ST 10 HP 10 Speed 5
DX 10 Will 10/8 Move: 5
IQ 10 Per 10

HT 10 FP 10 SM +0
Dodge 8
Parry 8
DR: 0

Blaster Pistol (10): 3d(5) burn sur (Acc 5, Range 300/1000 RoF 3, Bulk -2)

Cheap Assault Blaster (10): 4d(5) burn sur (Acc 8, Range 250/750 RoF 8, Bulk -3)

Cheap Blaster Rifle (10): 6d(5) burn sur (Acc 10, Range 500/1500 RoF 3, Bulk -1)

Blaster Butt (10): 1d+1 (Reach 1)

Skills: Area Knowledge (Local)-10, Observation-10, Professional Skill-12, Stealth-10, Urban Survival-10.

Traits: Combat Paralysis; Pacifism (Reluctant Killer);

Notes: Human; Untrained and largely unready for combat. Apply a -4 to shoot any recognizable humans (or other galactic sapients generally considered non-monstrous) with visible faces, or -2 if no face is visible. If they killed someone with a visible face, roll against Will or break down. If faced with imminent bodily harm, roll HT; on a failure, you are mentally stunned. The lower Will value applies to all fright checks.

Civilian Militia Tactics

Potshot (17, 20 or 22): After taking an Aim action, make a single, sighted, All-Out (Determined) attack against the target (+5 Acc with a pistol, +8 with an assault blaster and +10 with a rifle). If the target has a visible face, apply an additional -4 penalty. A successful hit strikes a random hit location. You may not defend.

Spray Fire (7): With an assault blaster, make a hip-fired All-Out (Suppressive Fire) attack against a one-yard zone. A successful attack strikes a random hit location. You may not defend.

Panicked Strike (10): Make an All-Out Attack (Determined) with your Rifle Butt at the nearest target to pose a risk to you. Because this is close combat and a “non-lethal” attack, it does not suffer from Pacifism. You may not defend.


Common Insurgent Types: Anarchists and Terrorists

Often, the angriest members of society, too young or too unstable for military service, find their way into resistance movements as an outlet for their rage. Punks serve on the front lines of riots, inciting violence and bringing the fight directly against the Empire. They also act as “strong arms” for less professional insurgency cells. They push for violence, and rarely consider the possibility of defeat at the hands of the Empire, until that inevitably happens. Punks often don’t survive long, or quickly evolve into harder opponents, like Fighters.

Punks are too undisciplined for Ideologues and too violent for Freedom Fighters; they tend to be most often found among Terrorists and Anarchists. Some particularly brutal Punks (especially working with Terrorists) exchange their clubs for vibro-blades or neurolash batons.

ST 11 HP 11 Speed 5.25
DX 10 Will 10 Move: 5
IQ 10 Per 10

HT 11 FP 11 SM +0
Dodge 8
Parry 8
DR: 0

Club (10): 1d+2 cr (Reach 1)

Neurolash Baton (10): 1d+2 cr + linked HT-5 (5) (Reach 1, parry 0)

Vibro Blade (10): 2d+3(5) cut (Reach 1, parry 0)

Weaponized C-Cell (10): 6dx4 burn ex sur (Acc 1, Range 40); Unstable!

Skills: Area Knowledge (Local)-10, Intimidation-10, Forced Entry-10, Running-11

Traits: Bad Temper (12); Overconfidence (12)

Notes: Human; Untrained; Highly likely to use tactics not properly trained for or to make unforced errors; Never resists distraction or “Draw Aggression” attempts. The weaponized C-Cell is a modified power-cell that explodes when thrown. A strike against the cell, or a critical failure could set it off!

Punk Tactics

Shoving Match (14): Make an All-Out (Determined) Shove. Your opponent may defend normally. If you hit, inflict 1d-1 dbk only (no damage!). If the target is pushed at least one yard, they must roll DX, Acrobatics or Judo or fall prone. You may not defend.

Beat Down (10): Against a prone target, make an All-Out (Strong) attack with your club. Your opponent defends at -3 for being Prone. Inflict 1d+4 crushing damage to the torso (or random hit location). You may not defend.

Night Nurse

Common Insurgent Types: Ideologues and Freedom Fighters

If an insurgent movement needs anything, it’s medical personnel who can help deal with wounds, whether those inflicted on the insurgents themselves, or upon poor civilians. Some such nurses amount to little more than local medical personnel with a strong stomach and a little medical training, but who find themselves sympathetic to the insurgents who come through their door and fail to report them to the Empire. They may even find themselves joining in battle, just to keep an eye on their fighters to make sure none of them go down.

Night Nurses tend to be most common among Freedom Fighters or Ideologues, as most medical personnel will only join their local insurgencies if their philosophies align, and both such organizations see a direct need for tending to the wounds of civilians. Terrorists and Anarchists tend to be too violent to attract civilian medical personnel, and generally don’t see the point in assisting wounded civilians or, worse, wounded Imperials.

ST 10 HP 10 Speed 5
DX 10 Will 12/10 Move: 5
IQ 12 Per 10

HT 10 FP 10 SM +0
Dodge 8
Parry 8
DR: 0

Blaster Pistol (10): 3d(5) burn sur (Acc 5, Range 300/1000 RoF 3, Bulk -2)

Pneumohypo (10): HT-3; penetrates up to 1 DR, Reach C, cannot parry.

Skills: Area Knowledge (Local)-10, Diagnosis-12, First-Aid-12, Physician-12, Pharmacy-12, Stealth-10

Traits: Combat Paralysis; Pacifism (Reluctant Killer);

Notes: Human; Untrained and largely unready for combat. Apply a -4 to shoot any recognizable humans (or other galactic sapients generally considered non-monstrous) with visible faces, or -2 if no face is visible. If they killed someone with a visible face, roll against Will or break down. If faced with imminent bodily harm, roll HT; on a failure, you are mentally stunned. The lower Will value applies to all fright checks.

Night Nurse Tactics

I don’t want to shoot you” (17): After taking an Aim action, make a “Wait” maneuver; if your target moves to attack you, you may attack first. If your wait triggers, you may make an All-Out (Determined) sighted attack. Success hits the torso. You may not defend.

Pnuemohypo KO (14): Against an unaware target, make a Telegraphic Attack with Knife or DX-4 (14). Unaware targets may not defend; other targets may defend at +2. A successful attack injects the drug, generally Morphazine or Soothe (both UT205), which can be resisted with an HT-3 roll. Failure generally puts the target out of commission for awhile.

Medic! (12): You attend to someone’s wounds. This takes 10 minutes; at the end, roll IQ-4, First-Aid or Physician (12). Success heals 1d+1 damage. You may use Medic at most once per victim for a given set of injuries.

Amateur Errors

Amateur insurgents don’t present much of a challenge. They largely serve as a back-up for superior forces, or as a story element, allowing the players to train plucky villagers into a decent fighting force, or forcing imperials to question the morality of slaughtering women and children. As such, the GM may wish to emphasize their lack of professionalism. The following represent ideas that the GM can inflict on Amateur forces, if he wishes. A successful use of Leadership instantly snaps an amateur insurgent out of this unprofessional behavior.

Action Hero

Many amateur insurgents only have an idea of what combat feels like from watching the holo-vids, and might have even joined an insurgency so they could feel like a hero. They expect a blaster to be a fire-hose spewing brilliantly colored shards of death at their opponents, who simply fall before they like grass before a mow-bot. Action Heroes will step out from cover, hurl some insult at the enemy, and then open fire. If they have a rapid fire weapon, they will make an All-Out Attack (Suppression Fire) at the nearest group of enemies. If they have two pistols, they will draw both, and make a Dual-Weapon All-Out (Suppression Fire) Attack by combining the ROF of both weapons. This is at -7 and has a maximum value of 7. Those with a single pistol or a single RoF 3 long arm will make a Fast-Firing All-Out (Suppression Fire) Attack. This applies a -4 to the roll, increases recoil to 2, and has a maximum value of 7. In all cases, the character cannot defend and those who target him have no penalty to hit him (he's not behind cover).

Big No

Many insurgents have family ties with one another, but only an amateur allows that bond to override his good sense during battle. When an ally falls (especially a child soldier), the amateur insurgent runs up to the fallen ally, cradles them, touches them, weeps and wails and may only choose Do Nothing for the next 1d6 turns. Thereafter, the amateur either retrieves the body and quits the field, or goes berserk (treat as the Berskerk disadvantage, but only against those who harmed the ally).


For many, blasters don’t “feel real.” When their adrenaline pumps, especially in close combat, they react on a primal level and lash out physically with their weapon. They’ll move right up against their opponent and either attack with the rifle butt (1d+1 cr for most insurgents), or turn it around and swing it from its barrel, often while screaming (1d+2 cr for most insurgents, and unbalanced). Treat this as an All-Out (Determined) Attack, giving most amateur insurgents a skill roll of 14 to hit.

Gangsta Shootin’

Some amateur shooters have peculiar notions about how best to fire their blaster pistols. Holding them at odd, dramatic angles to fire applies a -1 to all ranged attacks with the weapon, it reduces the Malf to 16, and the character cannot make All-Out Attack (Determined) sighted attacks or use a two-handed grip with his blaster pistol.

Gape and Point

Unless an untrained combatant has explicit orders to attack, if he sees the enemy, he may simply observe them in a detached way, without realizing the danger he is in. Unless the enemy is immediately violent (for example taking shots at the target), the amateur merely observes them, and makes comments to anyone nearby, saying things like “Hey, is that an Imperial trooper? Woah, I think it is. Gosh, I’ve never seen one this close. What do you think he’s doing?” When violence breaks out, the amateur is immediately mentally stunned for the next 1d seconds, as though totally surprised, not because he didn’t realize the enemy was there, but didn’t truly grasp the danger it implied.

Go Away!

The average person wants to survive, but feels a strong instinct preventing him from killing unnecessarily. When faced with combat, the character shouts at his opponents and makes an Attack, but deliberately misses, aiming over their heads, or even up into the air. Treat this as an Intimidation attempt.

Horrors of War

Most amateur insurgents have never seen the true brutality of war. The first time such an insurgent is the target of an attack or sees an ally hit or killed, they must make a Fright Check without the +5 bonus from combat. Remember to apply a -2 penalty if the amateur has Combat Paralysis! If the amateur passes, he still hunkers down and avoids conflict unless he gets a stern rebuke or hears a sharp command shouted at him.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Organizations of the Alliance: Rebel Insurgencies

Rebel Insurgency and Resistance Movements

"I'm not a terrorist. I'm a patriot. And resistance is not terrorism." ―Saw Gerrera
Star Wars drew a great deal of inspiration from the “heroic patriots” who resisted great and powerful enemies, such as the American Revolutionaries vs the British Empire, the French Resistance against Nazi Germany (I have found no references to equally interesting Eastern European resistance movements), or the Viet Cong resisting the “Imperial” Western powers (America in particular). However, the Rebellion of Star Wars doesn’t really depict an actual resistance movement, but rather hard-pressed soldiers of a power fighting a more powerful army. We see well-supplied starfighters, vast warships run professionally, soldiers fighting in formation, and grand and elegant award ceremonies, led a princess!

In reality, insurgencies rely not on soldiers, but on irregulars. They fill their ranks with old veterans, women, even children; anyone who can or will fight. They lack funding, so they must resort to homemade weaponry, whatever citizen-legal weaponry they already had, or hand-me-downs from a stronger power (or even stolen from their enemy). To make ends meet, they often need to resort to criminality, such as bank robberies or kidnapping rackets. Because they fight a superior opponent while they lack the funds, training or firepower to meet them head on, they must resort to the underhanded tactics of asymmetrical warfare, such as hit-and-run tactics, sabotage, assassination and terrorism. In short, they act like nothing in the Rebellion except the rebels as depicted in Rogue One.

By their very nature, this sort of organization represents a challenge, because there is no one rebel resistance movement. While any organization has variation throughout its ranks (not every Imperial Security Bureau is identical, of course), they still have common protocols, ranks, tactics and equipment. With a rebel insurgency, I lump everyone from minutemen-type patriots laying down their lives for their planet to extremist terrorists willing to blow up anyone who disagrees with them to criminal organizations with pretensions at governmental legitimacy. Not only can one resistance movement be completely differnet from another , several of these might operate at the same time on the same planet! The French Resistance was notoriously fractured, with some cells even coming to blows over resources! While nearly anyone, from a band of pirates to mutinous soldiers to secretive assassins could be an insurgency, I want to focus on a very specific subset: the unskilled, untrained and underfunded “citizen soldier” that tend to be the first thing we think of when we discuss such movements. For me, when people wax poetic about “rebellion,” as they do about Star Wars, they have visions of Red Dawn and the Patriot more than Inglorious Basterds or Anthropoid. They mean these sorts of rebels.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I want to mention it again: I take no moral position as I write these organizations. I think my write-up of the Empire tended towards the “villainous,” but I tried to leave room for a heroic interpretation. I want the reverse for the rebellion, and especially resistance movements like these. While I will happily accept that Rebellion of Star Wars clearly drew inspiration from the American Revolution, I cannot help but draw parallels with ISIS, the IRA or FARC, because all represent the same sort of approach to warfare. This is not to say that I believe all are the same, but that all have a lesson to offer us about how these sorts of soldiers fight. Moreover, a heroic Imperial game needs bad guys to fight against, and perhaps some resistance cells really are terrorists! This is especially important for organizations as fractured and divided as resistance cells can be, as even in a Rebel-focused game, a rogue movement might prove to be an interesting and thought-provoking opponent. If you smell moral relativism in this piece, it’s not because I’m trying to “bust the myth” of Rebel heroism or that I’m an Imperial partisan (I mean, I totally am, but that’s not why I’m doing this). Rather it’s to provide the GM with the tools he needs and, often, organizations in an Action game tend to be complex and full of hypocrisy. I want to give you, dear reader, the room to explore whatever it is you might wish to explore.

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