The Favored of Star Patrol

The Favored of Star Patrol is a co-operative, GM-less, dice-less storytelling game, in which a team of special galaxy patrollers face seemingly impossible odds and defeat them, all within 2 hours.

The heroes patrol the universe in a starship. Mysterious aliens have given each of the heroes a Sub-D Crystal, a powerful gem that orbits their heads. With the Crystal, they can sense danger, communicate telepathically over great distances, and even understand alien technology. (See more at the bottom of the page.)

Players will take plot points and conflict points throughout the game, so make sure you have 2 kinds of tokens (candies, coins, stones; whatever) to represent these.

You also need a timer that can be set in at least 5-minute increments.

The Main Resolution Mechanics

If your character attempts something dangerous or selfless, any other player can raise a hand. The player who raises a hand must then propose a negative consequence of your attempt. You can then either accept that consequence, or spend a plot point to avoid that consequence.

The player who raises a hand takes a conflict point. Keep track of these.

During every scene, certain player actions can earn plot points. Keep track of these.

Playing the Game

First, a clarification: Some scenes are PLAYER scenes, and some are HERO scenes.

In a PLAYER scene, the players discuss the story so far and suggest new directions for the plot. You can absolutely role-play new actions for your character during a PLAYER scene, but most of the conversation will be out-of-character. This is your chance to strategize. This is also your chance to worry more about the story than your character.

In a HERO scene, you're all playing your characters. Out-of-character talk should be kept to a minimum. This isn't just about “good role-playing;” these scenes play better if you jump into your character for the duration of the scene. You'll have plenty of chances to discuss things out-of-character during PLAYER scenes.

Heroes: The Opening Image

Set the timer for 5 minutes.

The heroes are all in their shared space ship.

Going around the table, each player introduces his or her character. This introduction should answer the following questions as a natural prose description of your character:

  1. What species are you?
  2. Are you high-energy or laid back?
  3. Are you task-focused or people-focused?
  4. Are you well-integrated into the group or are you more of a misfit within the team?
  5. What is your name?

The heroes can be highly moral and simple characters, or they can be rascals. They should not be evil. They were chosen for the Crystal specifically because they have a fundamental desire to help people.

If you answer all five questions, take a plot point.

Players: Stating the Theme

Set the timer for 5 minutes.

Each player secretly chooses a theme from the following set (or invents one). Players then announce their chosen theme in turn.

As a group, you may now choose which theme will be central to this session. Note, though, that all of these themes can be explored to some degree in this session.

Themes:

  • Rebellion
  • Romance
  • Freedom
  • Oppression
  • Extinction
  • Character
  • Idealism
  • Friendship

Heroes: The Set Up

Set the timer for 10 minutes.

Now you will describe the apparent mission. This is what you're supposed to do, which will inevitably become a small piece of a much larger story.

Describe your characters interacting and, as they interact, describe the apparent mission and any obstacles the characters encounter.

Every time you add a fact about the apparent mission or add an obstacle to the team's performance, take a plot point.

Heroes: The Catalyst

Set the timer for 15 minutes.

The mission goes poorly. This can happen very quickly, or part-way through the mission. Maybe there's an external event (Alderaan's now an asteroid field). Maybe an ally betrayed the group (Our client was just shot!). Maybe a member of the team messes up.

Every time you add a fact about the catalyst, take a plot point.

Players: The Debate

Set the timer for 5 minutes.

The characters will have to take conscious action soon. They're probably moving fast, either towards more information or away from an immediate danger.

While they're running, you players should debate the pros and cons of different options.

Every time you propose a course of action for the team or describe a possible outcome of a proposal, take a plot point.

Heroes: The B Story

Set the timer for 15 minutes.

Something new intrudes on the heroes. This is typically a consequence of their actions so far.

The B story often involves new antagonists, which can be organizations, people, physical environments, or internal conflicts. You should now have plenty of material to work through. You should be able to play through several scenes' worth of action as you explore these complications.

Every time you add a new complication for the team, take a plot point.

Players: The Villains' Plan

Set the timer for 5 minutes.

At this point, it's time for the main villains to reveal themselves.

Decide on the villains' Big Plan. In other words, what specifically are the villains trying to accomplish?

It's important here to establish the actual physical things that the villains are trying to do in the fictional world (find and destroy the rebel base; find the Ark and take it back to Germany). This will inform the next part of the story.

Every time you suggest a Big Plan, take a plot point.

Heroes: The Bad Guys Close In

Set the timer for 15 minutes.

Describe your heroes encountering the villains. Describe the villains' actions towards accomplishing their Big Plan. Let your heroes react to this.

Every time you stop a villain or describe a new course of action for a villain, take a plot point.

Heroes: The Dark Night of the Soul

Set the timer for 10 minutes.

Everything goes all to hell. The villains near completion of their Big Plan. The Death Star finds Yavin; the Nazis capture the Ark.

Every time you earn a conflict point, take a plot point.

Players: Break

Set the timer for 5 minutes.

Take a breather. If there's anything unclear about the finale–who wants what, how to get it, the pure mechanics of a seemingly impossible mission–discuss it now and come up with some options.

Every time you solve a seemingly intractable problem, take a plot point.

Heroes: The Finale

Set the timer for 10 minutes.

Describe how the heroes overcome the villains' Big Plan. The villains may well survive and even get away, but their plan must not come to fruition.

Every time you do something dangerous and selfless, take a plot point.

Players: The Final Image

Set the timer for 5 minutes.

Each player doubles his or her store of conflict points.

Any player with at least 10 conflict points or at least 10 plot points gets a permanent new attribute for his or her character.

If you have more plot points than conflict points, this attribute is mostly positive. If you have more conflict points than plot points, the attribute is mostly negative.

Each player, in turn, describes a concluding moment that includes his or her character. This is less role-played than described as if from a camera's or a narrator's perspective.

Points are not saved between sessions.

More About the Sub-D Crystals

The Sub-D Crystal normally orbits its owner's head, sending information to its owner telepathically. Sub-D Crystals are mysterious alien technological artifacts, and their owners do not completely understand them. They are only a few centimeters in size.

The heroes do not know exactly why they or their comrades where chosen for the Crystal. They do know that the mysterious aliens who chose them believe absolutely that the heroes are the right people to use the Crystals.

A hero can grab his or her own Crystal and put it in a pocket. However, if the hero falls unconscious it will levitate back to its normal position. If a Crystal is separated from its owner by more than a few feet, the Crystal will teleport back to its normal position.

The Crystals are recognized throughout known space. Any person owning a Sub-D Crystal can commandeer the full resources of any officer of the law, and will strike fear in the heart of any criminal who sees the orbiting gem. That said, there are only a handful of Sub-D Crystals in the known universe, so very few people have seen one in person.

Demos

The following is the first play test of the game.

The following is the second play test of the game. This one ran without plot points or conflict points, as a completely “mechanic-free” game (well, as “mechanic-free” as a game can ever get).

Credits

Thanks to Aaron Feild, Andrea G, John Reiher, and Matthew Bannock for playtesting.

Last modified:: 2015/07/09 07:11