Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Shadowed Galaxy

In my home White Star campaign, the setting is a science-fiction version of 1939. The super powers having discovered spaceflight and a means to reach other star systems within the galaxy (details in a future post) ten years before, they have taken exploration (and their own quickly degrading political situations) to the stars. It is the eve of World War II and this tension, and the brush wars that arose from it, are played out on planets far from Earth.

I did a couple of one-page adventures in this setting: Bug Hunt, and Last Transmission. An expanded version of Bug Hunt is currently in the works (ETA end of September 2015).

The United Kingdom of Planets (UKOP) is set against the Deutschstern Reich (DR) as both try to gather allies among the other League of Free Worlds powers in order to bolster their forces for the inevitable confrontation to come.

UKOP formed the Space Operations Executive (SOE) with broad missions of sabotage, partisan recruitment, and intelligence/counter-intelligence against the DR and its allies (or potential allies). Denied by UKOP and with very little direct support, these teams of 4-10 specialists in the fields of intelligence, military operations, science and black ops fanned out to the stars with missions as varied as the political situations they encountered.


The tip of the spear in any SOE operation is the spy, a character specializing in disguise and diplomacy, with a network of contacts that can supply resources, safe houses, and most importantly: Information.

The spy is a new class meant for +James Spahn's excellent White Star RPG, or any OSR sci-fi game you wish to use it with.

Also note, this class is Open Content by the terms of the OGL.



You work in a world of shadows, where who you are changes as frequently as the mission at hand. In all of your guises, you have contacts across the galaxy that feed you data, and you have “ins” to organizations and governments that get you the information you need. Whether crouched in the muck on a jungle planet negotiating with a hostile tribe to railjumping across the galaxy to your next diplomatic soiree, you
are the secret weapon that feeds your employers with the most valuable currency of all: Intelligence.

Though seemingly a supporting character type, spies often lead groups of operators, radiohacks, and smugglers onto dangerous worlds, behind enemy lines, in order to complete intelligence missions for their employers. Spies assemble the teams, gather information from their contacts, and act as the “face” when negotiation and diplomacy are called for. When the laser blasts start impacting, spies can typically give as good as they get.

Weapon/Armor Restrictions: Spies can use clubs, daggers, firearms, grenades, laser pistols, mono-daggers, mono-blades, staves and swords. They can wear light armor, but do not use shields.

Linguist: Spies speak three languages plus one language if their Intelligence ability score is 15 or higher.

Disguise: Spies are masters of disguise. When affecting a disguise, it is generally accepted, unless
someone suspects the spy’s identity. Any that attempt to detect the disguise must make a Saving Throw. This roll is penalized by the level of the disguised spy. Disguises are limited only by the imagination of the player and the forbearance of the GM, though impersonating a known/famous person should entail significant bonuses to the Saving Throw.

Contacts: Across the galaxy, the spy cultivates assets that feed him or her data. This information is specific to the mission at hand and may tip the balance from failure to success. When used in play, the spy is able to gather public information on a target or location without a chance for failure. For secured or hidden information, the spy must make a Save modified by his or her Intelligence or Charisma bonus (whichever is higher or more appropriate to the situation). A failed save typically nets a portion of the secret information, but with consequences (i.e. the spy’s activities were detected/intercepted, someone informs on the spy to an enemy, etc.).

When dealing with someone in person and on friendly terms, the spy is able to draw the contact under his or her influence (as per the Charm Person Meditation). The contact is allowed a Saving Throw to resist the attempt. Such influence can be dispelled (or trigger another Saving Throw) if the spy asks too much of the contact, puts the contact in direct danger, or otherwise oversteps the bounds of an ally (GMs discretion). These direct contacts are limited to the one per level of the spy.

Saving Throw: The spy receives a +2 to all Saving Throws to detect or avoid traps.

XP Bonus: A spy with either a high Charisma (15+) or high Intelligence (15+) receives twice (x2) the normal Bonus XP for that attribute (10% not 5%).

Network: By the beginning of 4th level, the spy has built a network of protectors, informants and turncoats that are loyal to the character. This network includes 1d3 1st level Mercenaries that act as constant bodyguards, enforcers, and combat troops in addition to 1d8+level individual NPCs spread across the galaxy. Up to 1+character level of these individuals will directly serve the spy during a mission, while the others funnel information and resources, as needed.

Bolt Hole: At 8th level, the spy has acquired a defensible location (space station, planetary base, capital ship, etc.). Though the location must be purchased, the spy and his or her resources are completely protected from enemies. At this level, the spy’s network of loyal followers doubles.

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