Welcome back to Card Catalog where we are taking a look at TSR’s Star Frontiers from 1982. The last book published for Star Frontiers was Zebulon’s Guide to Frontier Space Vol. I. This was an attempt to rework the system for a Second Edition and address some of the critiques the original system received. It had scrapped the original percentile resolution system in favor of a column shift results table similar to the Marvel Super Heroes game. It also completely revamped the character creation and advancement process vastly increasing the skills available… this means a few House Rules to make the Ifshnit backwards compatible are incoming. We may look at the Zebulon’s Guide version of character generation in a future Card Catalog, but for now I wanted to get into a species introduced in Zebulon’s Guide but opted against the kangaroo looking Humma in favor of the “space dwarves” – herbivorous and friendly Ifshnits from the Frontier. If you have not read the overview of the entire system and the setting, click HERE for the introduction to Star Frontiers and the crew of the ‘Bodaz G’lunk.
I am also going to advance all the Star Frontier characters with about 50XP to show how you can optimize your chances or enrich your character as built.
As I mentioned above, the Ifshnit were introduced in the Zebulon’s Guide to Frontier Space. The first of their two special abilities is simple enough – they can’t be blinded because of an adaptive inner eyelid that protects their eyes. The second is an innate second level rank in the skill of Appraisal, Gemology, or Haggling. Because the original set doesn’t have that set of skills available even as subskills for most of what is offered, I will instead use the Vrusk as an example since they have a special ability of Comprehension for social dynamics that starts at 15%. I will peg this at 25% to start for the Ifshnit so that if an untrained human were to roll half their Personality as a base for a haggling test, all Ifshnits are inherently better than most humans.
For Star Frontiers, you roll a percentile which is converted to a starting attribute score for four pairs of attributes that start equal in rating. For Jorgein, I rolled 03; 68; 97; and 72 which results in starting scores as follows:
- Strength/Stamina 30
- Dexterity/Reaction Speed 50
- Intuition/Logic 70
- Personality/Leadership 55
As an Ifshnit, Jorgein will not only exemplify some of the Frontier Space ethos but also is a story hook into the Capellan Free Traders which are run by Ifshnits. In the Ability Modifiers, Jorgein will lose 5 (-5) from the STR/STA Ability pair but add 5 (+5) to the INT/LOG pair. Next, you can trade up to 10 points between the pairs, but I think I will keep Jorgein where he is for now. This results in the following statistics:
- STR/STA 25/25
- DEX/RS 50/50
- INT/LOG 75/75
- PER/LDR 55/55
In the Home Rules Section above, we mentioned the Ifshnits’ two Special abilities – Highly Developed Sight that prevents blindness by an inner lid that automatically closes and the Innate Bartering. As we mentioned, the Innate Bartering is at 25% and will allow them to roll to appraise the value of goods, haggle for the sale of goods, and otherwise rely on their cultural background as a trading society.
Jorgein is going to fill the role of smart alec, or scientist aboard the Bodaz G’lunk so his Primary Skill Area is the Biosocial Skill Area. What, you ask, is the Scientist doing with Biosocial instead of Technical? In the limited number of Skill Areas from the original Star Frontiers, the Environmental Skill in the Biosocial covers the vast majority of non tinkering Science! That means that Jorgein will have a discount or reduced cost to buy skills and skill levels of the Technical Area’s Skills. The aforementioned Environmental Skill, which includes astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, and geology among others, is one of Jorgein’s starting skills. For his second skill, I will have hm begin with Computers so that V’orz can focus on the Engineering and Technical skill areas.
I’ve already given Jorgein his gender as a Male Ifshnit and Star Frontiers also requires a handedness determination so I choose Left Handed. I am leaving equipment for after I spend the 50 advancement Experience Points!
The great simplicity of Star Frontiers is that there are only two places for a character to spend experience points – abilities and skills. The Abilities can range up to 100 and are a simple 1 XP for 1 Point expenditure. Straightforward and because the skill checks are percentile based easy to understand what your investment nets you. Skills are bought per level, from 1 to a maximum of 6. Non-human characters can also spend points on their special abilities, but those are purchased just like the Abilities on a 0-100 scale and a 1 for 1 improvement rate.
I am going to make sure that Jorgein can complete his general requirements of being the Scientist, so I will spend the XP first and foremost to raise his Environmental Skill to Level 3 for 25XP. A few fights happened as he was out in the world and while he is not terribly good at hitting things, he isn’t too poor with the Gyrojet Weapons Skill from the Military PSA to Level 1 for 6XP. A second level of Computer is 8 Points and a single Rank of Psycho-Social from his Primary Skill Area leave 6 Experience Points which I will use to raise his Personality from 55 to 61.
Now I am going to look at equipment, weapons, and defenses … which I may not pay too much attention to the cost because it’s a lot more fun just to get them outfitted. Also, the ship is under the Captain’s control with a Charter Letter with Streel Corp. as a reminder.
The Gyrojet Weapon Skill is a wonderfully broad skill that includes a lot of weapons with different range increments. Jorgein has a Gyrojet Pistol, which is a pistol that launches miniature rockets with explosive heads that will work well underwater and on lower tech planets, though he isn’t supposed to ever take it into space since explosions and spaceships don’t mix. He also has a Grenade Launcher Rifle which allows him to fire grenades instead of throwing them, though it is rather slow. This means that sleep, entangling, and fragmentation grenades are now in his reach providing maximum utility despite being a rather suboptimal combatant. .
For defenses, Star Frontiers provides two “slots” – a suit and a screen. Each type chosen will shield the character from incoming damage of a particular type and eventually need repair or replacement. Similar to Kratog, Jorgein is going with the Albedo Suit and Inertia Screen as his usual defenses, though a sonic screen is appealing to our little Ifshnit here. See our previous discussion of the way that these defenses work in the Captain’s section.
Jorgein is supposed to be a bit of an explorer, so he has a bit of gear to pack even with his low Strength and Stamina. Envirokit is needed to analyze the different planets they end up on while the gas mask, flashlight, and compass have similar obvious utility. The solvaway is in case he gets stuck in his own Tangler grenades since likes using those. A few other pieces of gear and some ammunition round out Jorgein’s Equipment. He tends to spend his credits pretty quickly so he hasn’t gotten a large reservoir of them built up yet.
Streel Co. was certainly happy to see to a qualified Ifshnit Scientist walk into the office and offer himself as an employee. The question, though, is why? A long tradition on the rim had the Ifshnits well entrenched with the Capellan Free Traders and the Ifshnit themselves were not particularly known for enjoying megacorporate employ. The Capellan Free Merchant’s unique charter from the UPF allowed them to avoid the Trans-Travel monopoly on interstellar travel and they don’t truly produce anything. The Capellan Free Merchants are an association of thousands of smaller merchants who work under the Capellan Free Merchant banner expressly to aoid the megacorporations like Streel.
Jorgein seemed to fit in just fine in Streel, often being the first awake, nibbling on dried fruit, and volunteering to go over the next hill in every assignment he was given. Jorgein is a born explorer and that carried over to his innate curiosity. While enjoying his crudite, Jorgein would ask other Streel employees about their homeworlds and their past. What led them to Streel was always on his mind. He never gave much away in response offering tales of being lost and alone on the rim – hard to believe for the clannish Ifshnits. He wanted to see more and further than his home allowed, but didn’t the Capellan Free Merchants have a reach as broad as Streels? V’orz Untisp was a friend who stayed curious about this seeming incongruity.
When the opportunity came to be assigned to a Chartered ship, and to perhaps take a more exploratory role in general, Jorgein’s eyes lit up and without finishing is salad, he had charmed his way onto Capt. Bodaz’s G’lunk.
V’orz has been on the right track looking into Jorgein because the mystery of Clan Abene is where this leads. Clan Abene is nearly gone in Rim Space and none remain members of the Capellan Free Merchants. It was Jorgein’s Uncle who put into motion this fate 75 years ago when the First Sathar War was still fresh in everyone’s mind. The Free Merchants are not always known for the niceties of due process, and the greed that the Council of Twelve can show rivals or exceeds that of any Corporate CEO. Clan Abene’s history of scientific exploration, in the field like Jorgein or in the lab like his Uncle, meant that the Clan saw sooner what the Free Merchant’s were planning. What became GODco and the planetwide terraforming economy wasn’t an accident – the Cassidine Development Corporation and the Capellan Free Merchants were planning it’s launch for years. Jorgein’s Uncle sat on the Counsil that quadrennium as a Free Merchant of repute. They encouraged the nascent architectural corporation on Hentz and helped it grow until the loan backed by the Capellan Free Merchants and goven by the CDC created GODCo.
While GODco claims to never terraform an inhabited planet, it is proud of its terraforming of planets and cares little for the destruction of the indigenous flora and fauna – this loss of biological diversity and the smuggling in the now wiped out flora and fauna is what began Clan Abene’s fall. The Clan, tight knit and family oriented, voted to oppose allowing GODco to continue and asked to call in the loan – the Council of Twelve refused his Uncle’s call and the heated debate that roiled the Capellan Free Merchants resulted in a half dozen Ifshnit clans banished, and in some cases, shunned by the Capellan Free Merchants.
Streel Co poses the best chance to stop the Capellan Free Merchant’s trade in illicit flora and fauna smuggled from terraformed planets, but even Jorgein wasn’t prepared to learn that GODco may be terraforming inhabited planets. Aboard the Bodaz G’lunk, he has seen that what his Uncle found may be frightening on a galactic scale .. but his honor doesn’t allow him to share this story and his fear is that the Council of Twelve of the Capellan Free Merchants do not still have the honor they had when Clan Abene had a seat.
Star Frontiers and Bodaz G’lunk overview here.