A question recently came up regarding printing copies of the Stars Without Number adventure Hard Light, available at DriveThruRPG for a truly nominal price. Print copies of Hard Light are available at Lulu, but those customers who’ve bought PDFs of the adventure are free to make print copies of it for personal use. For those Office Depot souls who insist on absolute proof that the PDF has been legitimately acquired, the customer’s name should appear in the watermarking in the page corner of the file.
Why isn’t this print copy available at DriveThruRPG? Largely because Hard Light was my first foray into laying out a product for print as well as PDF, and the end result, while it produced a fine Lulu copy, was not viable for POD from DriveThruRPG/RPGNow’s printer Lightning Source. In order to make it available at DTRPG, I’d have to lay the thing out again with the right margins. and I haven’t the time to see to it. But for those who won’t have it if it’s not in hardcopy, Lulu can fix you right up with 38 pages of sinister intrigue, alien tombs, and murderous stellar radiation.
Until 10 AM on August 1st, it’s Christmas in July at DriveThruRPG. Every Sine Nomine product is 25% off, including POD print items. For those of you who don’t care to wait for the Mongoose edition and its bonus content coming out in September, you can swoop in and grab yourself a shiny Stars Without Number hardback for all of twenty dollars. Is there some other place you can get 210 pages of sci-fi RPG goodness in a lustrous hardcover format for twenty dollars? Perhaps, but they have not left their address with me, so I am forced to forge ahead on that path without assistance.
Also keep in mind the chance to snatch up such items as Red Tide for your fantasy gaming and Labyrinth Lord exertions, also ringing in at twenty dollars for a hardback with included PDF. Or grab yourself some tools for computer hacking and new cyberware in Polychrome. Whatever you choose, now’s the time to grab it, because you won’t see another sale like this for a long time to come.
Darkness Visible: Espionage Campaigns for Stars Without Number is next up on the release list, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all. Ideally, I’d like to get it out in print and PDF by the end of July, but preparations for Gen Con might get in the way of that.
Darkness Visible will delve into the history of the enigmatic Mandate security organization known as the Perimeter, men and women dedicated to detecting and containing the threat of maltech on the frontier. These agencies have waned with the Scream and the Silence, but now that interstellar travel is returning to human space, they take up their ancient cause to defend their worlds against the scourge of unholy science. Together, they fight against rogue AIs, runaway bioweapons, uncontrolled replicant nanites, and the mad ambitions of tyrants who would rule worlds of gengineered human slaves.
The book deals with more than just Perimeter agencies, however, and provides guidelines and helps to creating sci-fi espionage scenarios and campaigns of many different flavors. GM tips are combined with “schemes”- table-ready plot outlines that allow a GM to drop in existing NPCs and MacGuffins to create plots and intrigue with minimal prep time. Need a motive for why a given NPC plans to betray the PCs? Flip to the “Betrayals” section, pick a scheme, and insert the pieces you already have.
In addition, tools are provided for creating the agencies that the PCs work for and the cabals and rival powers that they face. The GM can brew up the PCs’ agency before play begins, or the players can contribute, deciding what particular benefits they want their characters to gain by which “elements” they purchase for their agency. These elements then combine into a simple numeric framework of attributes that can be used to handle “off-screen” conflicts and skulduggery between agencies. Are your PCs ignoring the tension between the Gateway Intelligence Service and the mad cabal of maltech gengineers on Hutton? Let them. Just roll the dice a few times to find out what unkindnesses Gateway and Hutton have been inflicting on each other. When the players get back around to caring about it, they’ll find events have moved on since last they were involved.
As a takeway, here’s a sample page from Darkness Visible depicting the Armory element in its current state. An agency can purchase it in one of three levels, each of which gives an improving benefit to PCs and a boost to the agency’s “Resources” statistic. If the GM needs a plot complication related to the armory, the table below gives some quick inspiration, and it can also be used to reflect the successful outcome of gambits launched by a rival agency.