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?
Over the past seven years, Stars Without Number has sent thousands of daring heroes into the uncharted void. It has armed innumerable brave men and women with the tools they need to explore an uncaring cosmos and given bold GMs the techniques and resources to fashion vast sci-fi sandboxes of excitement and mystery. Light, familiar OSR rules have equipped readers with what they've needed to get straight to playing. More than that, the modular design has allowed thousands more to effortlessly strip useful resources for their own favorite games and systems. With its free basic version and dozens of additional resources and supplements, Stars Without Number has been fashioned to not only be fun, but to be useful to players around the world.
Yet now it is time to do more. Stars Without Number was my first serious effort at RPG publishing, the product of six months of fumbling with Adobe InDesign and a hundred dollars in stock art. It was an exercise of intuition more than artifice, and the years of practice and dozens of newer works I've written since that time have left me with the gnawing, constant awareness that I could do it better now. I know more, I've practiced more, I've thought more in the years since I first wrote it. It's time to demonstrate that.
Stars Without Number: Revised Edition is an expanded, refined, full-color revision of the original edition. It adds more character options, more hardware, more ships, and more psionic options- but expanding the mechanical breadth of the game is only part of the goal. Just as importantly, Stars Without Number: Revised Edition is crammed with new GM resources, with new world tags, new adventure creation tools, and new support for sci-fi sandbox adventuring. And all the while, I've kept to my original goals of portability and modularity, so that GMs who want to use different systems or different settings can lift out useful pieces and use them directly in their own home games.
Don't just take my word for it. Have a look at these takes on the original edition:
- The Free Edition and Core Edition reviews up at DriveThruRPG
- The harrowing and hilarious exploits of the crew of the Swan Song, performed under the peerless Space Mastery of Adam Koebel
- Handy reviews from RPG Knights, Grognardia, The Other Side, Tenkar's Tavern, Halfway Station, and John Harper.
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 will have a free PDF edition available on release to share with your friends and pass around to interested parties. Those bold backers who support this campaign will get the deluxe version, however, with 40+ pages of additional content for even wilder interstellar adventures. With backing, you'll 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.
Every backer will immediately get access to the beta of the free edition of the Stars Without Number: Revised Edition rules, with the link accessible in the first backer-only update. You'll be able to start using these rules from the moment you pledge; and want to share them with your friends? Go ahead! While the link's behind a backer-only update, actual backers are encouraged to share the free rules with anyone who shows an interest.
STELLAR EXPLORERS who pledge at $20 or more will receive the Stars Without Number: Revised Edition deluxe core PDF, plus a PDF file of the SWN GM's Screen compatible with the DriveThruRPG Game Master's Screen in portrait format. Their names will also appear in the book's credits in thanks for their generous aid.
VON NEUMANN MACHINES who pledge at $35 or more will get everything that Stellar Explorers do, and will also get at-cost codes for purchasing a print-on-demand copy of either the standard-color heavyweight hardback of Stars Without Number: Revised Edition or the premium-color version from DriveThruRPG, with a discussion of the differences provided here. I anticipate the standard-color version will cost $18 plus shipping and the premium-color approximately $34 plus shipping. Both use the same weight of paper, but the premium-color version involves somewhat richer hues. This pledge level is provided in consideration of fans who live in regions where shipping is too expensive for me to ship them a book myself, or for fans who know they want at least a PDF but aren't sure they'll want a hardback as well.
NANITE FABRICATORS who pledge at $55 or more will get everything that Stellar Explorers do, and will also get a print-on-demand standard-color heavyweight hardcover shipped to them at no additional shipping cost. Due to shipping prices, I can only offer this pledge level to fans in Canada, the United States, the UK, and the European Union.
FORGERS OF WORLDS who pledge at $75 or more will get everything that Stellar Explorers do, and will also get a print-on-demand premium-color hardcover shipped to them at no additional cost. Due to shipping prices, again, I can only ship this level to backers in Canada, the United States, the UK, and the European Union.
GALACTIC OVERMINDS who pledge at $175 or more will get everything that Forgers of Worlds get, plus a PDF copy of the Stars Without Number PDF Omnibus containing every SWN first edition product ever offered for sale. In addition, if the campaign hits $40,000, every backer at this level will also receive a print-on-demand hardback paper copy of the mighty UNIVERSAL OMNIBUS, containing every scrap of Stars Without Number first edition material ever published in PDF or print format- an entire game line, completed and contained in a single vast black-and-white interior hardback. Due to shipping prices, I can only ship this level to backers in Canada, the United States, the UK, and the European Union.
I've always had a cautious view of stretch goals, because I'm a one-man publishing outfit and there are many ways to go astray in imprudent exuberance. Still, through toil and care, I offer these glinting possibilities if this campaign proves exceptionally generous in its giving.
At $20,000 I will release all commissioned art for the game as royalty-free, zero-cost art available for other gamers and publishers to use for their own personal and commercial products. I've made arrangements with the artists for this game, including Tan Ho Sim, Christof Grobelski, Joyce Maureira, and Aaron Lee, to buy full rights for all the pieces I commission, and so I will be able to let others freely use these assets for their own purposes.
At $30,000 I will rework both the free and deluxe versions of the core book as additional EPUB and MOBI file formats. This will involve considerable extra effort in redoing the text for these decidedly non-spread-oriented formats, but if the campaign gets this far, clearly you want these formats provided.
At $40,000 I will forge the culmination of madness and bibliomanic obsession- the mighty UNIVERSAL OMNIBUS, a vast hardback tome containing every single Stars Without Number first edition product, both free and for-pay. This massive, black-and-white interior tome will consist of the Stars Without Number first edition core book, Skyward Steel, Suns of Gold, Darkness Visible, Starvation Cheap, Polychrome, Dead Names, Relics of the Lost, Engines of Babylon, Sixteen Stars, Hard Light, all of the Mandate Archive free supplements, and both editions of The Sandbox, the whole summing over a thousand pages. Everything that ever has or will be written for first-edition Stars Without Number will be contained within this book.
Just look at this titanic beast. That's the testing proof I had printed of it, pushed to the bleeding-edge limits of Lightning Source's POD printing tech. The actual volume will be about 5/6th that size, but it'll still be a pet-crushing megatome of thunderous dimensions.
Every backer at $20 or more will be given a code that will permit them to order this voluminous codex from DriveThruRPG for $100, if they so wish. This code will not have an expiration date, so they may defer the purchase until later if they wish to reflect on it. Backers at the munificent Galactic Overmind level of $175 will get one of these superdense grimoires shipped to them at no further shipping cost, provided the address is in Canada, the United States, the UK, or the European Union.
No other persons will be permitted to acquire the UNIVERSAL OMNIBUS. Only those loyal and fearless backers who join me in my plunge into madness by contributing to this campaign will be allowed to buy the book from DriveThruRPG. It will not be made available for general public purchase.
At $50,000, I will be extremely grateful to you all and have the wisdom to refrain from offering further stretch goals. I am but one man. I've completed every Kickstarter I've ever launched on-time or early, chiefly because I've known when to stop promising and when to start working.
How This Will Work
I've run five earlier successful Kickstarter campaigns, summing over a hundred thousand dollars and five thousand pledges. I have a basic workflow for Kickstarter projects, one laid out in The Sandbox #1 for interested readers. I've tweaked and modified this workflow since then to account for additional things I've learned, but it's a good basic road map to the process.
After the campaign ends, you'll start getting monthly project audit reports from me, itemizing the number of art slots yet to be filled and identifying text fill and editing yet to be done. You'll also be getting monthly beta updates, which will include the deluxe version contents as they finish layout and get their art assigned. You'll watch the book come together over the next six months and get regular, playable evidence of progress. While I don't anticipate making substantial rules changes after the campaign's completion, there will also be room to make observations about the rules and content, and I'll be taking those observations into account as I work.
If the campaign has reached $40,000, Galactic Overminds will be surveyed for their shipping addresses as soon as I've confirmed the UNIVERSAL OMNIBUS book proofs from DTRPG. They'll be given two weeks to get their addresses in, after which I'll ship them their UNIVERSAL OMNIBUS copies and freebie codes for the PDF omnibus, and everyone else will get the purchase code to buy a copy of the book if they wish. This will happen independently of the fulfillment of the core book; backers will get these codes as soon as they're ready to give, and the UNIVERSAL OMNIBUS will be shipped separately from the core books. Galactic Overminds who don't get their addresses on time will still get their books as soon as they provide one, but they won't get them with the first batch of shipping.
Once the core book has been completed and proofed, all other backers will be surveyed for their mailing address, and Galactic Overminds will be reminded to send me an updated address if theirs has changed. Two weeks will be allowed for this, after which I'll ship the books, release the PDF codes for the book and the GM screen to people, and consider the campaign successfully completed. Backers who fail to get their shipping addresses in on time will still get their books as soon as they provide their addresses.
Risks and challenges
Over the past five years, I've completed five successful, fully-delivered RPG Kickstarters, each one coming in either on time or early. I've used the same project management techniques on each, refining and developing them with each new campaign as I learned how to deal with fresh challenges. There's nothing in Stars Without Number: Revised Edition's production workflow that I haven't prototyped in earlier campaigns. That also means I've acquired an educated respect for all the ways that things can go wrong.
Right now, SWN: RE still needs art slots filled, the expanded material put into layout, and the GM screen layout roughs refined into finals. I have artists working on the slots, I'm doing the expanded material layout myself, and the GM screen layouts will be finalized after the game text is locked for final. In case of the catastrophic failure of any of these steps, I've arranged for a shutdown and salvage plan.
If the campaign has not fully and completely delivered all rewards by February 28th, 2019, it will be deemed a failed campaign and I will pull the lever on the salvage plan. All existing material will be released to the backers as-is. All backers will receive a categorized list of campaign expenses illustrating exactly where each dollar of the money has gone. Any unspent funds will be refunded to backers in pro-rata form, and there should be some, because no campaign money is to be spent on anything but campaign expenses until the project is complete. While I would like to be able to promise that I will make backers whole, anything terrible enough to force the salvage plan into effect is likely to leave me incapable of further restitution.
Fortunately, I am in sound physical and mental health, with no prior episodes of inability to work. I expect to get this project wrapped and shipped well before natural mortality gets a more-than-inevitable chance at me.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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