We use Cepheus Deluxe rules for character creation, not counting converting older characters into the newest ruleset.
- 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.
- Roll stats the old fashioned way - 2D6 for each stat, down the line.
- After rolling stats, you may replace any characteristic with A (10).
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.
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.
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 Collaboration rule, from Cepheus Deluxe:
In some cases, characters may work together on a task throw. The character with the highest combined skill and characteristic DMs make the main skill throw. Any assistant can make a skill throw at the same difficulty as well; if they succeed, add DM+1 to the primary character’s throw; if they fail, the primary character suffers no penalty. There can only be one assistant to the main skill throw. However, the Referee is encouraged to allow other characters to assist the assistant. Each throw has the same difficulty as the original skill throw. Note that characters who are assisting in the throw do not necessarily have to use the same skill. If the player and Referee agree, a related skill task throw can assist. For example, a ship’s engineer might throw Engineering to assist the Pilot’s skill throw. Teamwork!
For every point of PC Bond your character has with another, you get a +1 on the skill check to be an assistant.
Here is an example:
Abel and Baker have a PC Bond of +4. Abel has Computer-2 skill and Baker has Repair-1 skill. Baker decides to help Abel on a particularly important task, and the Referee rules that Repair can be used to help in this situation.
The task has the following task description:
Construct a mnemonic memory device using stone knives and bear skins: Computer, Intelligence, 1d6 hours, Difficult
A Difficult skill check requires 10+ to succeed. Abel and Baker both have an Intelligence modifier of +0.
First, Baker (the “assistant”) rolls 7 on 2D6. Adding his skill of +1 and the PC Bond of +4, that adds up to 12. That beats the 10+ target, giving DM+1 on Abel’s roll.
Then, Abel rolls 6 on 2D6. He adds his skill of +2, and the Collaboration bonus he got from Baker of +2. That adds up to 10, barely enough to succeed in the check.
If Abel and Baker didn’t have that PC Bond, though, Baker would have only gotten an 8, falling short of the 10 required. That, in turn, would mean Abel wouldn’t get the DM+1, and his total would be only 9, a failure.
Good thing they work together so well!
Double Tap: You can fire a second time in the same action, with +1 die of damage and DM-2 to hit. Yes, a Double Tap weapon can fire 4 shots per round, if the PC does nothing but 2 Attack actions that round.
Aiming gives +2 bonus per action instead of +1 bonus (maximum of +6)
Here’s my stance on the optional rules mentioned in Cepheus Deluxe:
- Hero Points: yes
- Individual Hero Points: yes (meaning no group hero points)
- Improving Characteristics: yes
- Switching Careers: yes
- Aging and Technology: yes
- IRON MAN!: no
- Simultaneous Combat: no, though I may change my mind later
- Dodge and Parry: no
- Heroes and Grunts: yes, when I feel like it
- Armor as a Penalty to Hit: no
- Powerful Psions: maybe, we’ll see if it’s ever relevant
- Streamlined Turret Fire: maybe, we’ll see if it’s ever relevant
- Streamlined Point Defense for Ships up to 999 Tons: maybe, we’ll see if it’s ever relevant
- Streamlined Point Defense for Ships of 1000+ Tons: maybe, we’ll see if it’s ever relevant
The book’s description about the Static Pulser leaves a few questions unanswered about the rule effects of using one in combat. Here’s some clarification. First, to quote the Terra Arisen book (p. 80):
The Static Pulser is a specialized and advanced electronic warfare system used by the Reticulans. It uses a massive barrage of multi-frequency radio waves and magnetic pulses to overwhelm the target’s electronic systems and render it helpless in space perfect for abducting its occupants. A Static Pulser requires one Hardpoint to install, fills 2 tons, and costs MCr6.
Using a Static Pulser requires an Engineering/INT 8+ roll to hit. On any successful hit, roll 1D6; on 1-2 the target’s sensors suffer one level of damage (as per the combat rules), while on 3-6 the target’s electronics suffers one level of damage, as described in the Space Combat chapter. An Effects of 2+ on this Engineering roll causes two hits, and critical success (Effect 6+) means that the target ship is completely and immediately paralyzed. Note that the Static Pulser is powerful enough that a successful hit will simply fry the electronic systems of a regular vehicle.
- A Static Pulser can be installed in any standard hardpoint at a Type A or B starport.
- It does not require a turret; it uses the whole hardpoint.
- It requires a gunner to operate. In this case the assigned gunner uses Engineering skill instead of Gunnery skill.
- In space combat, the gunner assigned to the Static Pulser uses the Fire Energy Weapons action to attack an enemy ship (Engineering/INT 8+), as described on Cepheus Deluxe p. 147.
- Alternatively, on his action the gunner can use the Static Pulser to defend against incoming missiles, but only one missile at a time. Declare the Point Defense action, and target one missile. A throw of Engineering/INT 8+ permanently disables that missile’s onboard targeting and detonation system.
- The gunner assigned to the Static Pulser can receive assistance from another crewmember using the Collaboration rule. The assisting crewmember must be free to assist and not occupying another position on the ship. Typical skills to assist are Engineering, Computer, and Gunnery but be creative.