Heart of Varrul is a White Star: Science Fiction Roleplaying™ campaign setting book that details the aliens, factions, and conflicts of the Rul System, Tathkee Station, and the Planet Varrul. The Rul System is on the brink of an interstellar gold rush and the PCs are poised to get involved on the ground floor. How they get involved is up to them!
Written by Peter C. Spahn and James M. Spahn, Heart of Varrul expands on the foundation laid by the critically acclaimed White Star: Science Fiction Roleplaying™. With illustrations by longtime White Star™ artist James Shields and maps by Just Insert Imagination's Morne Schaap, Heart of Varrul is specifically designed to give Referees a readymade location to run hours of adventures.
"They call it varrulium. A lightweight ore that, when refined, shows a remarkable ability to deflect energy. It can be used to protect everything from circuit boards to dreadnaught hulls. Some say that certain alloys can even resist the cutting properties of the mystical Star Swords.
The ore is found only on the remote gas giant Varrul, which lies deep in the Galactic Beyond, but that’s not stopping anyone. There are too many free credits to be made. Millions. Maybe billions, all just there for the taking.
The big corporations are sending contractors to locate and strip mine the islands floating through the gas giant’s skies. They are hiring mercenaries to protect their workers from the local fauna. A lot of independent miners have also traveled to Varrul hoping to strike it rich.
There’s a catch of course. Varrul’s turbulent red skies are filled with clouds of toxic gases, ion pockets, and storms of superheated plasma that can burn through even the thickest bulkheads, so every trip into the planet’s atmosphere could be your last.
Then there’s the wildlife. Flocks of power suckers descend on anything with an energy signature. Giant flying worms prowl the airways, attacking and consuming survey and mining vessels. And deadly swarms of insectile beasts have already slaughtered more miners than the Trampallan Plague.
I can see you're not deterred. Safe travels on your trip. When you get there, Tathkee Station is the place to start. It’s an old SkyMall 5000 series that has been converted to a rough and tumble suborbital spaceport. It’s owner, Ingan Tathkee, is an old friend of mine. Mention my name and he’ll set you on the right path to making your own fortune, but watch your back. There are plenty of lawless types at the station ready to prey on newcomers.
You’d best hurry, though. It’s only a matter of time before the Interstellar Upheaval reaches Varrul---if it hasn’t already. Varrulium ore would be worth a fortune to the war chests of the Galactic Consortium or the Restoration. And some say there’s even more to the planet than meets the eye. Talk among mystics and scholars suggests that Varrul’s swirling gases hide a cosmic secret deep in the planet’s core, in the very heart of Varrul.
Of course, these could all just be rumors. There's only one way to find out for sure. . . "
Heart of Varrul is packed full of usable content. The newly discovered Rul System lies far out in the Galactic Beyond which makes it easy to drop into any existing White Star™ campaign. Descriptions of NPCs, factions, and locations are similarly painted in broad strokes to make them easily adaptable. All NPC entries are fully statted for the White Star™ system. We’re estimating the finished product to be approximately 100-120 pages total.
The book contains a detailed overview of the Rul System, Tathkee Station, and Planet Varrul including:
- Layout of the planets and features of the remotely located Rul System.
- History of Varrul. This includes the history known to the miners and other visitors as well as the planet’s darker, more mysterious history.
- History of Tathkee Station. A seedy suborbital space station that acts as the hub of commerce and intrigue on the gas giant Varrul and the Rul System.
- Security, laws, and punishment aboard the station.
- Interesting shops aboard the station and locales throughout the system and planet.
- Games and leisure activities (many of them dangerous) to be found aboard the station.
- Over one hundred (100) original NPCs of Note.
- Twenty-five (25) Factions of Note.
- Ten (10) New Aliens and Creatures found on the station and in the Rul System, including the insectile Tikatikatik, a sapient species native to Varrul.
- Five (5) New Vessels found on Tathkee Station and Varrul.
- Three (3) New Classes.
- Various intrigues aboard Tathkee Station.
- Random Encounters on Tathkee Station (detailed and fully statted).
- Random Encounters in the skies of Planet Varrul (detailed and fully statted).
- Guidelines for opening a business on Tathkee Station.
- Guidelines for starting an independent varrulium mining company.
- Guidelines for working as a corporate mercenary.
- Guidelines for meeting (and perhaps joining) the native Varrulians whose lives are being ruined by the constant strip-mining operations.
- Numerous Plot Hooks, Conflicts, and Adventure Ideas to be found in the Rul System, aboard Tathkee Station, and on Planet Varrul.
WHAT'S NEW IN PLAY?
In summary, five (5) all new White Star™ adventures and a softcover copy of Heart of Varrul or a hardcover copy of Heart of Varrul (which contains three of those adventures), along with PDFs of the same. At the higher Backer levels, you get to help design a Personalized NPC (see below) to be included in Heart of Varrul. At the highest Backer level you also get PDF copies of all SNG products as well as links to "at-cost" copies of all SNG print products (softcover and hardcover). Check out the Small Niche Games catalog on RPGNow.
One thing that turned out to be hugely popular with past products such as the Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay and the Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall was the inclusion of personalized NPCs for higher-level backers. This really allowed the backers to leave their mark on the product by having their characters "come to life" in the settings (and in some cases, game fiction).
Heart of Varrul offers the same opportunity, so if you have a sci-fi character you want to see in print (and possibly illustrated), please look closely at the pledge levels. The Rul System would make a great home for your beloved character!
Anyone who has backed my previous Kickstarters knows I like to communicate frequently with backers via updates, emails, and comments. Progress reports will be sent out monthly to describe the overall progress and include select pieces of artwork and/or maps. I will also be available to answer questions and respond to feedback.
All money earned from Kickstarter pledges will be put towards writing, artwork, and maps, so the more backing I receive the prettier the product will look and the more content it will contain.
Risks and challenges
This is my fifth Kickstarter. All four of my previous Kickstarters funded and were fulfilled either on time or after a minor delay. I’ve had nothing but happy customers. No one can account for everything, but I like to think I've gotten a handle on all the common risks and challenges normally associated with Kickstarters.
Let me assure you that if this Kickstarter funds, "Heart of Varrul" will be released. There is no question of that. The writing is about 50-75% complete. I plan to be finished with the entire project by Fall of 2018 at the very latest---quite possibly much sooner.
I have been publishing Labyrinth Lord™, Swords & Wizardry™ and other OSR products (particularly adventures and setting sourcebooks) on a steady pace for the past seven years, so I am no stranger to publishing. For those of you who don't know me, I hope my previous experiences with Kickstarter and my publishing history will help set your mind at ease.
Check out the Small Niche Games product page on RPGNow for a listing of my previous titles, including a number of free downloads that should give you a better idea of my work.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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