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Stars Without Number

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Just got my copy of the Stars Without Number deluxe rulebook in the mail today.  I cannot adequately summarize how great this game is... If you ever wanted to play Traveller, but didn't want to do trigonometry to pilot your spaceship and didn't want to learn hexadecimal notation to read your character sheet, get this game.  

The publisher offers a totally free version of the rulebook on DriveThruRPG, Stars Without Number (Free Version). The free version is a complete game, not just a watered down preview, the only things missing from the Free Version (other than a physical book) are all optional systems for adding things like Mechs, player character AIs, and Space Magic.  

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I'm definitely hooked on SwoN. The free version of the rulebook was enough to entice me to buy the hardcover and I opted for the "premium color" printing for $79.99 instead of the "standard color" for $20 less. I don't know if the value was quite there, but that's more to due with the print-on-demand pricing scheme of DriveThruRPG and not Kevin Crawford. It's a nice meaty tome, clocking in at 318 pages of dense (but readable) text. There's just enough illustrations to break up the text so it doesn't feel like you're reading a textbook, but none of the art feels like wasted "filler."  

I also snagged a bunch of PDF copies of supporting books: Suns of Gold, which adds extra material for running merchant campaigns; Starvation Cheap, for planet-side military actions (don't know if I'll ever use it, but I cannot resist a Kipling reference); Skyward Steel, for space navy action; and some others. Goodness knows the core rulebook alone has enough material in it to sustain years of play... But I had some Christmakkuh cash burning a hole in my pocket. 


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Tweaking SwoN for games in the WH40k ‘verse wouldn’t require much mechanical changes to the game. You’d need to come up with rules for Navigators and Warp travel, in lieu of the game’s built-in FTL system... But that wouldn’t be too hard.

Plus, if you’re going the “Inquisitor and his companions” route of Dark Heresy and most (of not all) interplanetary travel is being handled by off-screen NPCs, you don’t even need to do that. 

As it stands, I really like the default SwoN setting. Just enough background to feel like a lived in world, but not so much that it gets in the way. Ample “blank spaces” in the map to write Here Be Dragons but not a completely blank slate.

But the rules are easily broken out in a modular way that the whole thing could be used to run other settings. Stargate SG-1 and The Expanse seem like natural fits; Star Trek, Star Wars, Mass Effect, or Babylon 5 wouldn’t be difficult either once the GM created rules for some of their more distinctive technologies or alien species.

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On 12/16/2020 at 3:14 PM, Inquisitor66 said:

Check out Godbound. It has excellent kingdom managing mechanics. Also a cool world.

Well, based on your recommendation (and everybody else on the internet that ever talks about SwoN also singing its praises) I got ahold of Godbound and have been skimming it... Oh my god (pun intended) this looks like such a great game.

I've dabbled in a few "god tier" roleplaying games in the past, things like D&D's Epic Level Handbook campaigns (or the much older Immortals part of BECMI) and Exalted never felt truly godlike, they were just regular fantasy games with over-the-top powers; Games like Amber or Nobilis often got way too into their own navel-gazing, self-indulgent, we're-so-artsy-fartsy; and although I really liked lower-level Scion play, once those games got higher tier it felt like Epic Level D&D with cellphones. 

I don't know if Godbound is the kind of game I could ever DM for, but if anyone ever wants to run a campaign I'm in. I am so in.

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I've found Sectors Without Number incredibly fun to play around with and it would no doubt be invaluable to any GM running the game. It automates most of the functions of making a sandbox Sector for you, but also allows you to edit any of the random results it rolls up if you want to tweak them to your liking (or flat out add stuff of your own creation). Should prove pretty handy for just about any sci-fi game when you need to add something to the "blank space" on the map.

Then there's SWN Character Creator, which does exactly what it says on the tin. Very useful. (I desperately wish something like this was available for Godbound.)

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