During Character Creation
- Every PC is Terran. The game allows alien PCs, but I don’t.
- There are three homeworlds to choose from: Terra, Jambavan, and Parvati.
- All character creation rules that are optional are allowed.
- After rolling 2D6 for each stat, down the line, you may replace any characteristic with A (10).
- We use the “particularly merciful Referee” rule. If you fail a Survival roll, instead of immediately dying, you may roll on the Mishap table, increase your character’s age by 2 years, then immediately leave that career.
- In addition, you may ignore one failed Survival roll, at the cost of replacing your 10 characteristic with 2D6.
Once per session, each player may declare a flashback.
During the flashback, the player takes over narrative control of the game to describe something that happened in the past that has some relevance to the current story.
The goal is to eliminate the need to over-prepare for an adventure, in order to get into the main story quicker. These flashbacks could relate to equipment a character has at his disposal, contacts the character has made in the past, or special knowledge the character has because of his background.
Of course, there are limits to this. The flashback isn’t meant to replace or short circuit a story, or derail another character’s chance to shine.
Some good examples:
Previous PC contact:
Harbormaster Jameson? Oh, I know him from way back. We’re not close friends, but when I was in the Marines our ship had to make an emergency landing, and my commanding officer sent me to negotiate with Jameson when he was just a junior administrator. I’m sure he remembers me, because I bribed him with a Reticulan stimbot we had captured from an enemy ship.
Doing something implicitly in character:
I didn’t mention it then, but before we left the planet’s surface, I took a sample of the foliage - a small flowering bush that the primitive natives use to heal burns. Perhaps the doctor can extract the healing properties and use that on the wound.
Shortly after mustering out, I spent some of my cash to buy a black market psionic shield helmet. It’s been at the bottom of my backpack this whole time, so I’m taking it out now to put it on.
Some bad examples:
Short circuit the adventure:
I’m using my flashback to say that the enemy starship captain developed a weak heart due to a medical accident. When he woke up today, he felt weak and had a deep sense of doom, knowing today is the day his heart will fail.
Short circuit the adventure:
Oh, I forgot to mention I have the security code to activate the self-destruct sequence for the power plant supplying this entire city.
Nobody knows, but I’m really the universe’s greatest computer expert, and have an army of sentient robots at my command. I give them the order to de-cloak their ship and send a lifeboat to rescue us all.
Play out a scene with a crewmate to increase your bond with them. This can be a conversation or a narrative montage. This bond improves your ability to use the Aiding Another rule with each other in the future.
Here is the Aiding Another rule, from CESRD p.15:
Sometimes characters work together and help each other out. In this case, one character (usually the one with the highest total of modifiers on the check) is considered the leader of the effort and makes the check normally, while each helper makes the same check. The Effect of a helper’s check result can provide either a bonus (DM+1 with a successful result, DM+2 with an Exceptional Success) or a penalty (DM-1 with a failed result, DM-2 with an Exceptional Failure) to the leader’s check result. In many cases, outside help isn’t beneficial, or only a limited number of helpers can aid someone at once. The Referee limits aid as appropriate for the task and conditions.
For every point of PC Bond your character has with another, you get a +1 on the skill check to be a helper. Note that this isn’t the same as the “leader of the effort” having a +1.
Here is an example:
Abel and Baker have a PC Bond of +4. Abel has Electronics-2 skill and Baker has Electronics-1 skill. Baker decides to help Abel on a particularly important task, with the following task description:
Construct a mnemonic memory device using stone knives and bear skins: Electronics, Intelligence, 1d6 hours, Difficult
Abel and Baker both have an Intelligence modifier of +0.
First, Baker (the person aiding) rolls 9 on 2D6. Adding his skill of +1 and the PC Bond of +4, that adds up to 14. That’s an exceptional success, giving +2 DM on Abel’s roll.
Then, Abel rolls 6 on 2D6. He adds his skill of +2, and the Aid Another bonus he got from Baker of +2. But it’s a Difficult task, so there’s a -2 DM. The total comes out to 6+2+2-2=8, barely enough to succeed in the check.
If Abel and Baker didn’t have that PC Bond, though, the Aid Another bonus would have been only +1, meaning Abel’s check would have been 7, and they would have failed.
Good thing they work together so well!