One of my goals for 2019 is to experiment with storytelling through RPGs. The idea is that it might be more efficient to deliver stories as ‘episodes’ of an RPG rather than fully-developed and realized comics or graphic novels. My test case with this will be StarHustlers, based on a series of sci-fi/adventure/space opera shorts and miniseries I started planning several years back but never fully developed.

Believing that the people should be less dependent on the all-encompassing government of the Periwine Arrangement, StarHustler crews operate on the fringes of society as freelance ‘fixers-for-hire’. If the pay is right, these licensed teams are permitted to respond to calls for assistance wherever and whenever they originate, to assist in any endeavor they decide is worth their time and resources, as long as that assistance does not interfere with normal Arrangement operations. Every crew has their own Agenda and Credo to guide them, from wanting to Make The Universe a Better Place, to being In It For The Money. So, the StarHustlers find themselves traveling from system to system, fixing problems nobody else is equipped to fix, and wondering if each job will be their last.

So many dice to use, so little time!

The first thing I have to do is build up a Core Scenario book. Based on the FATE Core system, this Core book will describe the universe where the game takes place. It will include the history of the universe, classes of citizenry, potential former occupations and the Skills you might bring from that, rules and information about designing your character and your ship, and working together as a crew. I’ll be working up different alien species and their homeworlds, all with appropriate Skill recommendations. And all of these sections will include copious Aspects and potential story suggestions. So far, the main Universal Aspects I’m working with are “The Periwine Arrangement – The Shining City in the Stars”, “Universal Peace Comes at a Price”, and “One Person’s Paradise is Another Person’s Prison-State”. The book will wrap up with a sample ‘Origin’ Episode of six to ten scenes, complete with additional locations, NPCs, and Antagonists.

While I’m developing that Core book, I’ll also be developing the first Season of Episodes – I’m hoping that developing them in tandem will inform the Core book’s requirements. The plan at the moment is to create about four Seasons of six or eight Episodes each. Each Season will have a distinct story arc, developing out the universe and presenting the players with dilemmas of increasing magnitude and import. The Episodes will be comprised of several scenes, and should be playable in just a few sessions each. How each group gets through each episode will be completely unique, depending on their characters.

So far, my only rule in creating this universe has been a simple one: No Humans, no Earth, and that’s been a fun limit to think around. I’ll be posting sample chapters on the Lunarbistro Patreon and encouraging feedback and suggestions. I’ve got ideas for a number of non-episode expansions and sourcebooks (like a volume of just alien species, or homeworlds, or inventory items, or a full shipbuilding kit), and I hope to get to all of them eventually. For now, though, the Core book.