Putting SWN Sectors to Use

Stars Without Number written around a black hole.

Razornet Away Team

Not as in, an Away Team but as in, a team that has been away for a while. There are plenty of reasons to have been out of the loop for a while. Here are a a few:

  • Armed Forces Service
  • Incarceration
  • Medical Cryogenic Hypernation
  • Shipwreck survivor
  • Pilgrimmage
  • Refugee

Whatever the reasons you were away, you’re back and either knew the other players from a past crew or job and now were put togther as a Freelance Team in Razornet’s app for enterprising freelancers on the edge of legality.

We’ll talk about what kind of game we want to see. Do you want to have all known each other from you previous enterprise? Maybe you all know each other from time in some Void Marine unit or all survived a shipwreck caused by a malicious alien intelligence…

Terran Mandate Envoy Team

You have just entered the system with a checklist in hand and a vague authority that might or might not be recognized by the governments in this sector. Can you bring the sector back to the bosom of Olde Earth’s government?

Do you want to?

Your commanding officer is jumping to another sector but will be back with the full weight of (TMB) Terran Mandate Battlecruiser Serengeti’s weapons and marines in a year (you hope).

We’ll discuss how your characters all feel about the Terran Mandate government and make an Engagement roll to see how well equipped you are to start. I’m thinking I’d make a roll or two behind the screen to know when the Serengeti will actually arrive and what state it will be in once it does.

Far Traders

Your team just jumped into this system in a rare ship equipped with an Event Horizon-Gate Engine, designed to harness the energy of black holes and turn that energy into jump-gate coordinates that will send you to another black hole near a different sector.

Naming starships is fun.

We’ll make an Engagement roll to see how the ship is doing and how valuable your goods are in the hold and move from there. You’ll stay in this sector for as long as it is profitable to do so before moving on with whatever you can carry. I love the idea of jumping to different sectors, each sector as its own chapter or book or season…


You are representatives in a scrappy government that wants to stay self-governed. Maybe it is a moon or a orbital station or a science station whose original mission has outlasted the government that put it there. Either way, you are a team looking to represent and stay independent in the face of powerful forces all around you.

We’ll look at the map, talk over the Sector’s situation and put your home in a spot that makes sense.

To the Table

I’m thinking about how I might use these SWN Sectors (I’ve got a few more in my drafts section that aren’t quite ready yet) and how I’d pitch those games. The Burned Over playbooks are looking really good to me and so many of SWN’s worlds are in various stages of apocalyptic decline/ascension. Air and water are still a big deal. I don’t think we’d have to change much to make that work.

I’m reading through my Traveller LBB and I’ve got some vague ideas about using that chargen to get background and then Burned Over Playbooks to show what kind of physical shell the character is downloaded into but that all might be too much work.

I’d rather just throw playbooks on the sector map, maybe make up a love letterish (article about Love Letters from a decade ago by John Harper…sure) engagement roll (like in Blades in the Dark) to see what kind of situation the players are starting in and get to playing.

Original picture from 12019 on pixabay

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Terran Mandate Envoy Re-Entry Checklist

In a perfect Sector re-entry contact scenario your Terran Mandate Bruxelles Class Battlecruiser would glide into dock at the Mandate Base. You would spend a few hours in silent contemplation of the site where humanity made its first landing and then call in the highest ranking naval officer, planetary officials, Perimeter Turing Investigator General, the Chief Exchange Officer, the Sector Archivist into a month-long series of meetings and reports in order to guide humanity back into the Terran Government’s loving arms.

Once that re-entry was complete there would be a sector-wide party.

In decades of envoy work I have never seen nor heard of re-entry going anything like that.

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Since the Scream, the human diaspora has been cut off from its Earth roots. It is unclear if this document comes from Olde Earth or if it has been created by Terran Mandate naval intelligence, passed from long range flotilla to flotilla.

The checklist is a good set of guidelines for long range explorers with spike drives that can venture to different sectors. The marginalia from various envoys over the centuries shows where the checklist can come up short or not offer solid expectations for rookie envoys making post-Scream first contact with the humans who have survived the three hundred years isolated from their homeworld and its government.

Mandate Bases

are sometimes the center of the sector’s government and are often the primary naval base for any ships still claiming to be descended from the Terran Mandate. Gathering up the star drive signatures and transponder data is the first chore so that any envoys sent to the far reaches of the sector will know what to expect.

Marginalia RE: Mandate Bases

The sectors that still have a base are staggeringly rare. When they do, they are often helmed by total [untranslated slang for an orifice]-hole who claims to have their power handed to them directly from Earth’s Prime Minister or some bullshit.

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My favorite Mandate Base was built on the original terran capital ship that settled the sector but it had been turned into a cathedral-ship dedicated to keeping humanity in touch with its terran roots.

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Refused to hand over star drive signatures and transponder data because we couldn’t be a true Terran Mandate ship because were couldn’t possibly be human. We weren’t pure enough in our genetic codes. At least I didn’t feel guilty dropping a battalion of Terran Mandate Marines on their asses.

Perimeter Agencies

are in place to make sure no illegal unbraked A.I.’s are on the loose in the sector. The envoy is to take hold of the hunting records, gaining an understanding of how many A.I.’s have been neutralized and how many hunts are still in progress. The Terran Mandate ship offers its updated search algorithm so that future hunts, based on carefully sifted data, can be completed at a higher rate of success.

Marginalia RE: Perimeter Agencies

Guess which organization AI most often take over when they gain significant power and mobility in the sector. You guessed it. I got in assuming the Perimeter Agency is entirely compromised and work backwards from there.

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We don’t even check to see if they’ve made any improvements to the search algorithm that could be better than ours. We are [difficult to translate synonym for genitalia].

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There’s an envoy theory that Draco wrote this checklist. Yeah, I still use it.

The Exchange Consulate

is the center of banking and diplomacy, is a key cultural touchstone in keeping the sector moving and working.

Marginalia RE: Exchange Consulate

I’m waiting to find that unique Exchange Consulate, where humanity moves past our capitalist bullshit and the Exchange Counselors help ease the sector towards a post-scarcity society. Nope. It is always violence and some bullshit about how we will never innovate without money to drive us on.

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Knowing the market forces at work in the sector is my first order of business. I stop at the Exchange Consulate first. Once I even helped them bombard a planet that had gone into arears on its debts and assumed the Terran Mandate would never come to help the sector’s toothless bank to collect.

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I am sure there is something more satisfying than taking out a laser pistol and shooting a CEO of a predatory corporation who is profiting off human suffering. Maybe true love would be better or ascending our physical world and becoming a being of energy and light.

But I fucking doubt it.

The Preceptor Archive

is where information and history are stored and is important for not only understanding the context that the sector is currently operating in but for sending a full report back to Olde Earth.

Marginalia RE:

We got into orbit and a nanite attack caused the battlecruiser to evaporate. I survived with a few others in an escape pod. When we buried the pod’s dead we made contact with locals. While we figured out each other’s language they understood the olde symbol for the Preceptor Archive. Had to walk halfway across a continent but you are damned right I did. It was a short journey to get to the library and wait out my extraction, ten years later.

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The archive had been attacked and the whole moon it was built into was operating at about steam level technology. The rest of the sector just watched their archive fall apart. I wanted to drop old bombs on the lot of them.

Check out the book is slang for sleeping the archivist liaison. The competition is ferocious on the battlecruiser.

Where is the place to put a check when you uncover a dangerous alien threat or a planet where they lit everything on fire and ascended to a different dimension or when the whole sector is warring with such intensity that they didn’t even notice you?

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