House Rules

This campaign uses Diaspora, with the following modifications:

Technology level represents industrial base more than understanding. T2 was the technology level of the Terran Confederation about a century ago, when jump drive was new and the Yorktown carriers were commissioned, and is the technology level needed to maintain said carriers (for the most part). (T1 covers the time before that: the first Pilgrim colony ships, crossing the void with high speed instead of jump drive, were high T1.) T3 is what most major Terran systems have today, with occasional (but very rare) T4s, though many Terran systems remain effectively T2 or below. Any PC with scientific or technical expertise knows theory up to T3 (unless there's a reason not to), though what equipment technology level the PC is familiar with (for game mechanics purposes) depends on that PC's situation. No Confederation colony will be less than T-1 without very good reason, though alien homeworlds may be.

When generating systems, players are allowed to pick values for T, E, and R if some combination of them suggests a good story. Rolling for inspiration is also allowed.

The only spacecraft that will be assigned stats are those likely to see direct combat. Fighters will be generated as independent spacecraft, instead of with the fighter design rules (which would limit a carrier to a handful of fighters; a Yorktown class carrier's mere 40 is the smallest compliment of any carrier in this 'verse). Fighters must have "skeleton crew", and must spend 2 BP to note that they can land on a planet (or most capital ships, such as carriers or to board enemy ships after knocking down shields).

Instead of slipstream and slip knots, there are wormholes and jump points. This is mostly a nomenclature change, though there are no jump points (at least in local space) that connect to more than 1 other jump point. Thus, travel time from jump point to jump point is a concern in navigation. Also, jump points tend to be scattered around the inner system - thus, the average distance between jump points about the same as the average distance between a jump point and the system's primary colony, if any.

Artificial gravity exists. It is only feasible on large installations, such as a carrier or a space station. Adaptations of it help explain fighters' superior maneuverability.

Force fields ("shields") exist, as screens of highly energized, magnetically controlled plasma. They are generally not man-portable, and would be hazardous to any user not in fully sealed battle armor even if they were. (Though, since they keep air inside, small vehicle sized ones can act as emergency rescue bubbles, for anyone suddenly blown out into space. This is an uncommon but not entirely unheard of practice.) Their most common use is as regenerative armor, but no sane ship designer will rely entirely on this for hull integrity.

The most successful space military doctrine, for the past few decades, has been to pair fast moving, nimble fighters with slow moving (and relatively underarmed & armored for their size) but jump capable carriers. The lack of a horizon in space means that long range missiles tend to be detected, intercepted, and destroyed, preventing them from supplanting fighters as they did in surface navies in the mid-20th century.

Artificial intelligence fighter pilots have been developed, and can readily be encountered - in simulators. They can clobber novice pilots, but are no threat, even in moderate numbers, to a well-trained pilot (or, especially, to multiple well-trained pilots). This has kept serious use of them to simulators - though AI systems to assist human pilots, such as target tracking software, have born some fruit. (In other words, no change from base Diaspora.)

One such assistant is the "maximum speed governor". Fighters tend to see combat in patrol or ambush situations, where getting to some destination ASAP is not nearly as important as having enough fuel to be militarily effective upon arrival, and to return afterward. (Detonation of fuel intended for a return trip is the typical "last straw" that results in a fighter's destruction, though by the time a fighter is damaged enough that this happens, the fighter and its life support are a lost cause anyway.) The most commonly encountered result is that most fighters have a computer-controlled maximum speed relative to certain celestial objects (most commonly: jump points, stars, or nearby planets). This can be overridden if necessary. Many pilots have spent their entire careers without encountering a single situation when it was necessary. Variants on this, having to do with fuel economy, explain why most capital ships are not under constant thrust during their journeys. (This has no game mechanics effect, especially since it can be switched off at any time.)

Most but not all jump capable ships can not enter atmosphere. The exceptions tend to be bulk transports - commercial freighters, troop transports, and the like, where the cost (in fuel and structure) of landing and takeoff is outweighed by the value of the time saved by being able to load or unload on a planet directly - or (mostly commercial) courier ships.

PCs start with a smaller skill tree: 1 skill at +4, 2 skills at +3, 3 skills at +2, and 4 skills at +1. (Any skills not listed on a sheet are counted as +0 for these rules.) They also start with a refresh of 3 fate points. However, PCs grow over time, replacing the refresh rules like so:

  • After every session, a PC may swap any two adjacent skills (for instance, changing X at +2 and Y at +1 to X at +1 and Y at +2). A PC may also either change one aspect, or change one stunt. These must be done before the next session or be passed up, but may happen before or after any other between-session growth. Stress track clearing and consequence recovery also happen at this time. PCs begin each session with the refresh's number of fate points, as does anything else with fate points (like certain spacecraft). Fate points are not carried over from session to session.
  • After every other session, PCs gain one skill point. Every fourth session, PCs gain an additional skill point. These are banked if not used, and may only be spent between sessions. A skill point increases any one skill by 1. The skill pyramid must be maintained - for example, there must be more skills at +1 than there are at +2 - though "+0" skills are included in the pyramid. Late game exception: once you have at least one skill at +8 (which requires that you have at least +1 in every skill), this shifts to a ladder - for example, there must be at least as many skills at +1 as there are at +2.
  • Around the midpoint of each chapter (see next item), the refresh increases by 1 fate point. This is automatic once it happens, so banking is irrelevant.
  • After each chapter, PCs gain another stunt. This is banked if not used. Immediate use is encouraged, though holding it for a dramatically appropriate reveal during a session is also possible. Chapters are plot-dependent and thus of variable length, though they are expected to last about 16 sessions each.

The skill points per chapter give the campaign a maximum feasible length of about 11 chapters. The campaign is expected to last not much more than 8 chapters, if that long.

Max skill Skill points (delta) Skill points (total) Sessions (delta) Sessions (total) Chapters (delta, approx.) Chapters (total, approx.)
+4 -> +5 15 35 20 20 1.25 1.25
+5 -> +6 21 56 28 48 1.75 3
+6 -> +7 28 84 37.33 85.33 2.33 5.33
+7 -> +8 36 120 48 133.33 3 8.33
pyramid -> ladder 34 154 45.33 178.67 2.83 11.17

Contacts and Minions

Contacts and Minions are modeled with appropriate aspects. If stats for the companion are needed, assume it has a pyramid starting 2 lower than your apex, aspects equal to the companion's apex and half as many stunts as the character.

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