Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Warriors of White Light (spoilers)

Art by Jim Holloway

Included in the Knight Hawks boxed set is a 16-page module “designed to introduce players and referees to the spaceship rules in STAR FRONTIERS™ Knight Hawks game, and to show referees how the Knight Hawks rules can be combined with the original STAR FRONTIERS rules.”  Five scenarios are detailed.  According to to Beta Subsection 7, they “are designed to support rather than create, a campaign.”  Regardless, the module establishes the foundation of the campaign.  We are told, “the referee is encouraged to devise other encounters of his own to use between adventures.”

Player characters are supposed to be recruits in the Clarion Royal Marines.  Clarion – called Gollywog in Star Frontiers Expanded Rules – is in the eponymous White Light system.  Since the star's color is red-orange, the name 'White light' is hardly intuitive.  'Royal' implies royalty and – appropriately – Clarion is described as a “capitalist monarchy.”  The reigning king is Leotus XIX and we learn, “The Leotus line has held the throne for nearly 400 years.”  This suggests that the age of space exploration is at least four hundred years old.  (Humans are not native to the planet as we are told, “No native animal life has been discovered on Clarion.”)  Not everyone is happy with the monarchy; the Liberation Party holds twenty to thirty seats (out of one hundred) of Clarion's parliament.

Alpha Subsection 2 informs us that participating player characters “should already have a 1st level spaceship skill.”  Nine pre-generated characters are provided if “the players do not wish to roll up their own characters.”  Given that spaceship skills difficult to obtain and are not possessed by starting characters, the suggestion that players can roll up appropriate characters is somewhat disingenuous.  Unlike other Star Frontiers products, the White Light pre-generated characters are not supplied with names.  This is an interesting choice given that the module has a plethora of named non-player characters.  Your humble host's favorite is “Bluto Goorhud (Yazirian Male).”

In the 'campaign', the player characters are based on Clarion Station and assigned to the Osprey, one of three assault scouts in the Royal Marine fleet.  During the course of conversations with the other marines, the player characters are supposed to learn “a boarding party from the Assault Ship Osprey was ambushed by the crew of the freighter they were searching for contraband.”  This is the reason there were vacancies in the Royal Marines for the player characters to fill.  About the spaceport we learn:
A starship arrives at Clarion Station about once every 100 to 200 minutes.  Shuttles leave for the planet even more frequently.  This heavy traffic brings thousands of characters of all four races through the station, so huge crowds can be seen mingling about on the business deck at all hours.  The referee can stretch his imagination describing hundreds of beings going about their business with frantic haste.
Among the various recreational businesses on the station, there is the 'Dance and Dice'.  This establishment “is a favorite hangout for spacers of all types.”  Rules for dancing are not provided, but if player characters are inclined to gamble, the following table is presented.

There are rumors that the dice at the 'Dance and Dice' are not always honest.  The referee should feel free to alter any result he does not like.  Of course, the club keeps a number of 'Goons' on hand to reason with players who do not understand or appreciate such tactics.
Player characters function as a boarding party, checking ships for contraband.  The penalty for importing addictive drugs is “10 to 20 years in prison.”  For importing heavy weapons, the punishment is “Death by vacuum.”  Also listed among contraband is “Raw Uranjum,” which I presume is a typo for uranium, one of Clarion's natural resources.  Gamma Subsection 2 relates, “The characters should be allowed to search several ships that are carrying legal cargo before encountering the smugglers.”  The 'smugglers' are the focus of the first scenario; they are transporting “a variety of weapons...[which] are hidden inside robot bodies in the cargo hold.”  The weapons are intended for “Liberation Party rebels,” illustrating the extent of opposition to Clarion's aristocratic rulers.

In the second scenario, player characters board a freighter controlled by a cybot – “a cybernetic (partially organic) robot.”  Ideally, the characters should “subdue the 'cybot' and his robot minions while causing as little damage as possible.”  This scenario offers a bonanza of experience points.  In addition to the standard one to three point award, characters receive “3 bonus points for each robot that was deactivated without being destroyed.”  Also, they gain “10 points if the cybot was stopped by damage to its organic parts rather than to the robot body.”  This is in spite of the admonition in the Star Frontiers Expanded Rules, “The referee should never award more than 10 points for one adventure.”

In the next scenario, the Osprey attempts to save a freighter from the depredations of a pirate corvette.  Maybe the player characters are successful in this regard or maybe they're not.  Regardless, the pirates escape.  Eventually, “a wildcat miner operating in the asteroid belt” will inform the Royal Marines of the location of the pirate base.  As a result, the Marines mobilize against the pirate base and a battle in the (two-dimensional) asteroid belt ensues.

In the fourth scenario, the non-player character lieutenant in command of the Osprey is revealed to be a Sathar agent (which is another offence punishable by “Death by vacuum”).  The player characters are at a disadvantage as the lieutenant brings the Osprey alongside what turns out to be a Sathar freighter.  Should a player character look out a porthole, he or she can tell that the freighter is a “sinister object” if an Intuition check is successful.

By the time player characters participate in the fifth scenario, they “should be able to earn 15 or 20 experience points.”  This is because that scenario “is designed for characters with at least 2nd level spaceship skills.”  There is an assumption that player characters will spend their experience points on improving spaceship skills as opposed to improving other skills, acquiring new skills, or raising ability scores.  Incidentally, the final scenario is a battle against Sathar destroyers.

1 comment:

  1. I quite enjoy that little module. Its also a great reminder of how under-stocked the Frontier Sector is with regards to warships. My players knew from the jump how boarding an unknown ship for inspection without a backup ship is a bad idea. As ship-to-ship combat is not the focus in my games, I had the PCs be members of an inspection/security team serving on a patrol ship with a Stiletto-class assault scout providing back up.

    Oh, and Gollywog was renamed Clarion due to the issue of Gollywog being an old timey British "blackface" doll.