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An OSR campaign using the Stars Without Number Revised© (Free Edition) rule system by Kevin Crawford, and the Strange Stars© setting book by Trey Causey

Campaign maintained by Mike Beizer(Doctor Talos) using Kanka

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Strange Stars Setting Overview

The Strange Stars is the sphere of the human phyle in the far future, a time millennia after the first human expansion and the rise (and fall) of builders of the hyperspace nodes, the Archaic Oikumene. In the current era, the Strange Stars are fragmented into smaller cultures and civilizations.

The former cradle of the Archaic Oikumene is a depopulated area without a central authority known as The Zuran Expanse. The Expanse is home to dangers like the inhuman Ssraad (in three colors), and ruined worlds that entice treasure-seekers like Tenebrae and the Library of Atoz-Theln. It’s also home to unusual cultures like the invertebrate Zhmun of Aygo and the self-improvement cult of Aurogov.

Spinward from the Expanse is the Alliance , a union of species allied for protection and trade. Members of the Alliance include the green-skinned psionicists of Smaragdoz, the privacy obsessed Neshekk of Kuznuh, the avian-humanoid splice Hyehoon of Omu, the human-alien blended cyborg Blesh, the Gnomes of Dzrrn and the angel-like Deva of Altair.

Bordering the Alliance is the expansionistic and theocratic Instrumentality of Aom.

On the other side of the Expanse is The Vokun Empire. Besides the decadent vokun, the empire contains several client species. The cybernetic crustacean-like Engineers build much of Vokun technology. The yellow-skinned Ibglibdishpan are their biologic computers. The Kuath are bioarmored child-soldiers.

There are a number of other interesting cultures and worlds: the oneirochemist Phantasist, the ancient mind excavators of Deshret, and the warrior-poet Moravecs of Eridanus, among others. The major galactic powers are at least openingly cordial (whatever may go on behind the scenes) and trade takes place between the two “civilized” portions of the galaxy that must pass through hyperspace nodes in the “wilder” areas (not just the Expanse, but the Rim and Coreward Reach, as well). New cultures, lost since the Great Collapse are discovered from time to time, and their are number of ruined worlds with treasures to loot.

Strange Stars Setting Assumptions

There are a set of underlying premises to the Strange Stars setting which might affect the play of the game.

Post-Apocalyptic. The technology level of civilization in the past was higher than today. This provides the rationale for some “sufficiently advanced” Clark level technology, the “points of light” nature of civilization, and also for lost world exploration and space scavenging.

Big But Bounded, and Subdivided. Strange Stars exists within one galaxy--and only a relatively small part of that one, but still there’s plenty of room for new clades, cultures, even minor empires to be introduced without much disruption. The use of hyperspace means that there are “clusters” that can serve as smaller sandboxes if the whole area is too daunting. The game can be as focused as a single world or station.

Harder than Average. While Strange Stars is in no sense a “hard science fiction setting,” there are a number of details I tried to keep “semi-hard” and realistic. Earthlike worlds are most often the result of engineering and there are seldom multiple earth-like planets in a system. Most people will live in orbital habitats. FTL exists but works in such a way that it couldn’t violate causality. There are very few “single biome” planets, and those there are tend to have an explanation for why they exist. The aliens aren't very alien, but that’s because they’re most likely the descendants of humans or human creations.

Intersystem, Fast. Intrasystem, Slow. Related to the last point is the way FTL works. Hyperspace nodes tend to go to one place in a system (and may well dump out somewhere other than directly at the planet of interest). In system travel is most likely non-FTL and takes a while. This allows both zipping around the galaxy (at least a part of it) and “realistic” distribution of clades, but with a hard science fiction scale to a solar system, allowing the full array of grizzled asteroid prospectors, fringe religious communities on gas giant moons, or isolated research bases. The planets highlighted in the setting book are just the “major feature” of their respective systems, not the whole story. Of course, the way space travel works also has implications for how and where space battles are fought.

A Post-Internet Conception. Most classic space opera doesn’t take into account the internet in general, much less ubiquitous social media, but these things are present in Strange Stars. As a rule of thumb, imagining “how would that work in the Strange Stars?” involves more extrapolation from the present that looking back to how it was done in Star Wars or Star Trek.

There’s Always Belief. The future doesn’t mean belief systems go away. The best of space opera (Dune, for instance) deals with this, but it was something I didn’t want to leave out or to portray one-dimensionally. From the arbitrary taboos of the Kosmoniks to the realpolitik theocracy of the Instrumentality, it’s an important part of what makes cultures in the setting distinct.

Technology In The Strange Stars

The level of technology is more advanced in the Strange Stars setting than the default assumptions of Stars Without Number or most old school science fiction roleplaying games. A Game Master may choose to ignore some or all of these elements to make the setting more in keeping with the preferences of their group. For those wishing to use the setting as written, here is a brief discussion of the basic technologies of the setting, with suggestions on how to implement them. Remember that the tech level varies across worlds and habitats: some places are at a Stone Age level, while others border on post-scarcity.


Most people experience the world through an augmented reality overlay referred to as the metascape. Each world (or world plus its satellites) contains useful information for travel, social media messages, and lots and lots of spam. Nobody walks through a public square without their filters on, lest they be bombarded by all sorts of unsolicited virtual messages. Clothing is enhanced — or even sometimes completely generated — in the metascape. Some jurisdictions make it a crime to view the world unfiltered by the metascape, as this is seen as an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

The metascape primarily comes into play in how the GM describes the world and how the players approach it; it doesn’t require a lot of rules changes. When entering a new location, the GM will need to describe both the physical (people, equipment, structures) and the virtual (animations, signage, notes/tags, etc.) elements that the characters will see. Characters can leave messages for other specific people in locations or call up publicly available building floorplans. They can also hack or falsify the metascape using the standard Hacking rules.


The noosphere is essentially the cyberspace of the far future, encompassing traditional internet activities, the metascape, and the living environment of Infosophonts. Think of it as the nervous system of a civilization. In gameplay, again, this is more a matter of presentation. GMs and players should just keep in mind the availability of information in the real world, via a standard smartphone, and use this as a model to extrapolate from rather than looking to most cinematic space opera.

Noospheric messages or queries that must travel between worlds or between star systems do so no faster than the speed of light or the Hyperspace Network, if available. The noosphere isn’t real-time or continuous; it’s like a collection of networks between which information can be passed.


In the Strange Stars, brain-computer interfaces are as common as smartphones are today and are used for similar purposes. The typical pre-programmed software package allows metascape interface, noospheric connectivity, communication 

(where messages can either be read or heard as read by an avatar or the sender or anyone else), chronometry, basic calculation, and interface with most modern devices. Most individuals don’t navigate their own apps, but use a daemon or “mook” (a nonsophont artificial intelligence) as a personal assistant and answering service. Some cultures (like the Vokun) find implanted devices distasteful, as do some individuals. These groups use wearable devices instead, for the most part.

The only mechanical impact of this sort of cyberware is in the (dis)use of the SWN Computer skill. Like on Star Trek, most characters will simply ask their personal assistants for things and never need to make a Computer skill check. Hacking or deep searches of ancient or restricted data records will be the only time these skills come into play — unless characters are on a pre-noosphere world.


A fabber is a nanofabrication unit (essentially an advanced 3D printer) that assembles finished products from raw materials at a molecular level. These aren’t easily portable, but they are near ubiquitous household and shipboard items, and public units can be used for a fee, generally figured on total mass of the item(s) fabricated. For portable items this can be approximated via encumbrance: Every unit of encumbrance fabricated after 1 carries an additional 5% charge to the standard price based on item cost per fabber user per day. (Example: Faizura Deyr fabbers lowlight goggles, a pressure tent, and 6 days rations on a public fabber. This will cost her 200 credits for the goggles, 120 for the pressure tent, and 5.25 for the rations). Anything from food-stuffs (though this would only be done on long space voyages) to starship parts can be made given enough substrate and the necessary “blueprints.” Commercially available models can be “jailbroken” to make illicit drugs or weapons, but it’s generally easier just to buy or steal such common items.

In rules terms, these function like the personal matter compilers described in Mandate Archive: Transhuman Tech. There are also larger units like the stationary matter compilers found on polities or the largest vessels, as well. As a rule of thumb, making one item will cost about the same as the list price in the Stars Without Number core book given the matter required, licensing fees for software, etc. Additional items will only cost half the listed price.


Programmable matter is able to change its properties or functions on the basis of user input or trigger stimuli. Programmable matter (or smart matter) is used to make exoskins (vacc suits that form around the wearer as they pass through a membrane aperture on an airlock) and smart-tools (similar to Nepoznato, but with multiple uses, able to become any tool that would part of a toolkit). 


The above describes the technologies of the most advanced civilizations of the Strange Stars, but some societies have more specialized areas of expertise, and there is remnant technology of the Archaic Oikumene that falls into the category of Clarke’s Third Law. The most common example of the latter is the Hyperspace Node Network discussed in the next chapter, but there are the other, more classically Space Opera technological aspects of the setting: the sky city of Eidolon, the Circus megastructure, and mysterious things like the Tenebrae Labyrinths and the Apotheosis Maze. Any examples of Pretech given in SWN books not already present in basic Strange Stars technology would be appropriate as examples of Archaitech.

The Smaragdines are the only culture described in the SSGSB that makes a concerted effort to develop psitech, and they do not tend to exploit it for military purposes. The psitech items described in the SWN core rules would be within their ability to create, however.


to do list
Doctor Talos prije 11 mjeseci
Doctor Talos prije 11 mjeseci
Pulsars & Polymaths House Rules
Doctor Talos prije 11 mjeseci
Transhuman/Gengineering Rules
Doctor Talos prije 11 mjeseci
Patrol Boat
Doctor Talos prije 11 mjeseci
Starship Hulls
Doctor Talos prije 11 mjeseci
Doctor Talos prije 11 mjeseci
Doctor Talos prije 11 mjeseci
Hyperspace Worm
Doctor Talos prije 11 mjeseci
Doctor Talos prije 11 mjeseci

Random Sophont Races

Physical Characteristics: Atozans are ectomorphic biologic humanoids with tall, narrow, domed skulls. 

Psychological Characteristics: Atozans often come off as scholarly and pedantic to other sophonts.

Names: Atozans have a lineage designator consisting of a letter in the ancient Greek alphabet followed by a numerical code (typically 3 letters, but occasionally up to five) and then a short personal name.

Examples: Alpha-729 An, Chi-0113 Bel, Beta-451 Hano, Kappa-002 Lin, Gamma-882 Mish, Omega-024 Mek, Phi-169 Sus, Tau-931 Pol, Rho-644 Rog, Eta-404 Thom, Nu-063 Kar.

Backgrounds: Bureaucrat. Data Prospector, Researcher, Technician.

Classes: Expert is the most common class for Atozans; Psychics are very rare.

Attributes: Standard.


Catalog Language

All Atozans learn a secret, ceremonial language that allows them to locate holdings within the Library, the vast and ancient noospheric and physical archive of most known worlds. Anyone else trying to locate a particular record would be completely lost.

Physical CharacteristicsHwuru are bipedal sophonts hailing from the Coreward Reach that bear some physical resemblance to Terran apes and sloths. They are shorter than humans but powerfully built with arms longer than their legs, and digits with claw-like structures (actually bony projections covered with horn) on their dorsal surface. They're covered with shaggy fur except on the anterior surface of their torsos, which are covered with leathery plates.

The hwuru evolved from arboreal insectivores. They have small, beak-like snouts (like the Terran echidna) and extendable tongues to aid in snatching up arthopods or their larvae in hard to reach places. Hwuru can’t swallow anything very large and must have bulkier foodstuffs made into a mash before they can consume it. Most hwuru have a mild dependence on chaoofsh a chemical attractant released by the trees native to their world. When off-world, they tend to wear a breathing apparatus to deliver this chemical.

Psychological Characteristics: Hwuru native culture is tribal and primitive by galactic standards. They have reputation for being highly sensitive to affronts to their honor and prone to violence, but this is a stereotype.

Names: Hwuru have a personal name and a tribe name.

Culture: On their native world, no hwuru have advanced beyond the Iron Age, and most live in tribal societies that use stone tools. Interaction with starfaring civilizations has afforded hwuru the chance to leave their planet, and they are sometimes found among the stars where their physical traits make them useful as hired muscle.

Examples: Personal names: Chafa, Ihooyo, Hakla, Hichi, Ooka, Tuklo, Ustakaa; Clan Names: Nuklagi-isa, Ichasulasa, Yarahutki, Kunipa-gichi, Muhwuhi-chisa, Bolahuma.

Backgrounds: Adventurer, Armsman or Tribesman. 

Classes: Warrior is by far the most common. They are never Psychics.

Attributes: Minimum strength of 12.


Bone Claws

1d4 damage.


All hwuru possess Climbing as a background skill.

Chaoofsh Dependence

Virtually all (85%) of hwuru are physically dependence on chaoofsh (an inhaled intoxicant). Going with-out for 12 hours or more leads to withdrawal: Toxicity 8, Interval one day, Virulence 3. Each failed save means a -1 to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Dexterity. Withdrawal resolves in 5 days.

The blue-skinned people of the moon Boreas in the Honopia System.

Physical Characteristics: The Uldra are baseline humans with blue skintones.

Psychological Characteristics: Uldra tend to be viewed as somewhat pessimistic in outlook, and possessing of a odd, fatalistic sense of humor.

Names: Uldra have a given name and a family name.


Male given names: Dmitr, Feodr, Kolya, Uloysha, Ygor

Female given names: Eliska, Galya, Ilya, Nadezda, Zlatana

Family names: Bogmolov, Kazlov, Kruptkin, Velkov, Macek, Lanik

Backgrounds: Any.

Classes: Any.

Attributes: Standard.

Random Planets, Megastructures, and other Habitats

Spinward from the The Zuran Expanse is The Alliance, a union of species allied for protection and trade. Members of the Alliance include the green-skinned psionicists of Smaragdoz, the privacy obsessed Neshekk of Kuznuh, the avian-humanoid splice Hyehoon of Omu, the human-alien blended cyborg Blesh, the Gnomes of Dzrrn, and the angel-like Deva of the Altair System.

The Vokun Empire lies in the trailing direction from what was the once core of the Archaic Oikumene. The Vokun are once-fierce conquerors in decline. As they age, they become progressively more obese until they are immobile without use of their conveyances. The elder Vokun direct the younger in administration of the empire, but increasingly they’re concerned only with political maneuvering and decadent games.

Besides the decadent vokun, the empire contains several client species. The cybernetic crustacean-like Engineers build much of Vokun technology. The yellow-skinned Ibglibdishpan are their biologic computers. The Kuath are bioarmored child-soldiers. The Yantran are a primitive people whose idyllic world is used as a place of recreation by the Vokun elite.

The former cradle of the Archaic Oikumene is a depopulated area without a central authority known as the Zuran Expanse. The Expanse is home to dangers like the inhuman Ssraad (in three colors), and ruined worlds that entice treasure-seekers like Tenebrae and the Library of Atoz-Theln. It’s also home to unusual cultures like the invertebrate Zhmun of Aygo and the self-improvement cult of Aurogov.

Old Earth is believed to be located somewhere in the Expanse, though the most likely candidate for the Sol System is quarantined by aggressive posthuman entities.

Random Organizatons

A lot of cargo is shipped around the Strange Stars. While multi-purpose freighter/transport ships care smaller and specialized cargo, specialized container craft handle the bulk of interplanetary trade, making the routine system and hyperspace runs. These craft are called haulers.

Haulers are stripped down vessels designed to carry standardized shipping containers. They're basically a bridge, a slender body for the attachment of containers and engines. Haulers have minimal crews; often just one pilot and a low sentient support ai. Shorter runs may be completely automated.

Perhaps due to the extended periods of isolation, hauler pilots are an eccentric lot, even compared to other spacers. Most haulers have simple sim equipment, and many pilots engage in a thriving trade in low res bootleg sims. Haulers use special data protocols to stay in contact with each other over their official communication channels. Underground hauler chatter is a good source of information about special custom checks or gossip on other hyperspace travelers, if one has a good translation program for their argot.

In the time of the Great Collapse, a cabal of  like-minded individuals set themselves up in a orbital sanctum and set about to explore extremes of sensation. They replaced their faces with featureless metallic masks that were actually incredibly sensitive sensory and recording apparatus. Their lower limbs they likewise replaced with mechanical ones covered with sensory fibers in a variety of modalities.

The Faceless Ones strove to experience and archive everything they could about their depraved experiments on those they fell into their hands. Ultimately, they created the Algosians as their servitors and collaborators.

The Radiant Polity, one of the successor states to the Archaic Oikumene, was torn asunder by conflict between toxic memes. The Instrumentality of Aom of the current age was born out of this struggle.

The Radiant Polity directly ruled only a few worlds or habitats, but it claimed ultimate guardianship over the future of the entire human-descended tribe. Membership in the polity was ostensibly voluntary, yet each of its lords wielded absolute power, checked only by other lords. Their mantra was: "We civilize; we do not govern. We end war; we do not wage it. We guard; we do not control. Our thoughts look always to the future."

The civil servants of the Polity were it's most common face. Many were volunteers; others were drafted. They administered the noospheric fora (where members could petition the lords) and the Polity controlled hyperspace network, collected tolls, and handed out encryption keys for it's use to members. Through these measures the Polity effectively controlled interstellar trade and exerted soft power to shape planetary governments.

Not all it's power was soft. Polity membership made a sophont or a world subject to the justice of the Radiant Lords--justice meaning anything the lord in question felt would further the needs of the Polity and by extension humanity. They had a strict code and seldom acted rashly, as actions determined to be in error by review of their fellow lords carried harsh penalties, but they wielded great power and acted decisively--even brutally--when necessary. The lords all appeared baseline human, but their nervous systems were linked to their swift sophont ships, their brains modified with psybernetics, and their bodies enhanced. Each acted as a combination law enforcer, spy, advisor, and diplomat. When real war was needed, lords' code required they withdraw, and Hannibal Early was summoned.

In an effort to keep the peace, the Polity prohibited the export of irrational memeplexes such as religion between cultures. It was this prohibition that brought it into the conflict with the emerging Instrumentality of Aom and ultimately led to it's dissolution.

It's believed that the psi-research NGO the Phaidros Group was involved with the Polity inception. If so, they abandoned it before it's final fall to begin their colony on Smaragdoz.

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