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A subreddit dedicated to all things Stars Without Number, a sci-fi tabletop role-playing game designed by Kevin Crawford.

Welcome to /r/SWN, a subreddit dedicated to all things Stars Without Number!


Got a question about rules or lore in your campaign? Feel free to ask it here! ;)



Stars Without Number publications:

Core Rulebooks:

Campaign Supplements:


Setting Supplements:


Mandate Achives:

(Only available as part of the

Mandate Archive Collection 2011)

  • MA09 Transhuman Tech

  • MA10 The Imago Dei

  • MA11 Scavenger Fleets

  • MA12 Stellar Heroes



    Other Dust

    The following additions are set within the same SWN universe and follow the same lore, but the included books are intended for Other Dust campaigns which are set on earth about 350 years before the events of SWN (but around 185 years after the scream hit).

    Core Rulebook


    Codex of the New Earth:



    Sine Nomine Publishing Journals

    Every once in a while, a free journal is published with additional content supplements such as roll tables, items, or new classes. However, these releases aren't SWN specific, and contain supplements to various Sine Nomine publications.



    14,431 Subscribers


    Custom Actions - Help

    Hi all ,

    I've been running a campaign for just over a year and its going excellently. One issue I have come across , specifically in combat , is that the inclusion of a biopsion inherently ups the scale of dangers the crew is willing to take on , so the combat have gotten bigger and better as the crew become more and more infamous.

    One feedback from my players is feeling like Stars combat is somewhat linear and limited in thier choice of actions.

    I want to introduce some homebrew content to spice up their potential , Have any other GMs experimented with custom on turn actions , If so what did you introduce and how did it play out?

    07:21 UTC


    Which Faction Asset best represents a Secret Police or Inquisition?

    Which Faction Asset best represents a Secret Police or Inquisition?

    Would it be "Counterintel Unit"? "Informers"? "Tripwire Cells"?

    17:35 UTC


    What's the SWN equivalent to "Rimward/Coreward/Spinward/Trailing"?

    Traveller sector maps have cardinal directions of "Rimward/Coreward/Spinward/Trailing".

    SWN has no official cardinal directions I'm aware of. Indeed, its even implied that sector maps do not represent physical location in space/galaxy.

    So, given that, what do YOU use for cardinal directions? How do you describe what's off the edges of your sector map?

    00:17 UTC


    Too Many Mages In The Pot

    Hey all,

    My gaming group is very excited to run a game using all the available rulebooks, including CotBS, together. I am worried that this combination offers way too many spellcasters, it's more than half the available classes! Has this become an issue in anyone else's games who played with CotBS and WWN at the same time?

    15:31 UTC


    Help me stat out my factions

    I'm having trouble understanding how to create stats for the factions in my setting. The rules aren't very clear to me in this regard.

    1. How do I figure faction hit points?

    2. How many faction assets do established factions get? Is it one force asset per force point? One cunning asset per cunning point? etc?

    3. How do I define nested factions? For example, I've got the Orion Federation, their military Space Force, and Space Force is divided into Space Fleet and Planetary Corps. Is that all one faction or is that four factions? Do I divide the Federation up by individual planets in the Federation?

    Can anyone point me to good hand-holding resources to walk me through this process?

    18:08 UTC


    Simultaneous combat and ship combat

    One of my players did the most amazing chaotic thing in our last session. The players were on a pirate ship, planning a mutiny with some of the other npc crew. There's a bounty on the ship so they end up in ship combat with bounty hunters. During the ship combat, one of the players decides to waltz onto the bridge and pulls a gun on the captain.

    We carried on the ship combat during the combat happening within the ship so during the initiative order the ship would be shot at by the attacking fighters. The crew could only do their ship turns if close enough to the terminals in the ship so the internal combat was people wrestling to get to the captain terminal.

    At one point, a player got the captain terminal and did the Into The Fire action deliberately to deal with 10% of the crew they were fighting.

    It was really chaotic and great fun. Anyone who hasn't done this before, I hugely recommend giving your players situations for insane encounters like this to happen!

    05:59 UTC


    I have no experience at sandboxes, and I'm freaking out...

    So, fair warning, there is gonna be a bit if backstory at first here. If you wanna just jump to my question without context I totally get it, I fully admit that the first part is basically me venting.


    So we have been playing SWN for a little over a year now, and both myself and my players have been HELLA frustrated with it. We love the game engine, and we love the setting, but the actual playing has been a nightmare.

    For context, I have run only D&D 5e games before, and of my group one of them has played a short 5e campaign with me, another has been running several 5e games in the past, but never played anything else and the other two players are brand new to ttrpgs.

    I made the mistake of trying to run SWN like 5e and SWN at the same time. By which I mean I wrote out a sector Spanning campaign with big bad guys and main plot adventures, but also tried to use the planet tags to create planetary missions that came up on on each planet they came up on.

    In other words I was trying to run a linear campaign and a sandbox campaign at the same time, and it was frustrating as hell for everyone involved.

    When trying to reconcile why no one was having fun, and not believing it was the SWN system's fault, I started looking around online for ways to change the game.

    It was at this point that I came across a Ginny Dee(spelling) video that was a 15min add read for the book A GMs Guide to Proactive Roleplaying.

    Something about thet book clicked and clearly illuminated exactly what I'd been doing wrong. I was literally fighting the way SWN was meant to be played and getting mad because SWN wasn't working the way I thought it should.

    I chatted with my players and we all agreed thet what we were doing wasn't working. We scrapped the Main Story I had written, or rather we down scaled it, and spent and entire session narratively working on goals as a group and determining to move forward in a more sandboxy way.

    My Question

    Thing is, I don't know how to do that.

    I've literally never done it before. How do you run a sandbox campaign? I mean, if we move forward the way we all agreed to, then that means that the players decide where they are going, what planet's to visit and what goals to pursue and I just react (with the exception of the Faction turns obviously, where the world moves independent of them).

    But like...do I stop planning other adventures? Do I keep planning little unrelated one shots that they CAN do if they want to, that Are sprinkled throughout the sector, but aren't like tied to an overarching story so they are optional? I'm worried if I do that, then I am driving the story again which I don't want, but if I don't do that then what do I do for session prep? Do I just improv every session going forward l?!?!

    Guys...im freaking out. I really want to go this route, because I think it can be so much fun and when we were talking about goals it was the most excited I've seen my players in months...but like...what if I blow it? What if I just slide back into my old habits of trying to force a story on them?

    How do you guys do it? What tips do you have? I will take any and all advice (with one exception, see notes). Pls help.

    NOTE: I have a gut feeling that if I don't say otherwise, this post is gonna get at least 30 comments advising me to watch Matt Colville's Running the Game series. Watched it, many of the videos I've watched five or six times, it's been somewhat helpful, but obviously not completely as inspiring as everyone seems to think those videos are. We can agree to disagree on that, but if thats your only advice, I appreciate, but 8ve already done it and I'm looking for more tips an examples. Thank you tho.

    16:45 UTC


    Ideas for a dead city-planet?

    My players are on a treasure hunt, opening Mandate caches scattered around the sector. They know one cache is in the former capital of the sector, a completely urbanized planet with skyscrapers of up to one kilometer in height. Billions died after the Scream, but there are a few hundred thousand descendants of survivors in small communities on the upper floors. These communities belong to one of two factions. They mostly keep to themselves, but there is the occasional vicious clash that wipes out entire settlements.

    The players rescued two members of the Diggers from a derelict space station. This pair managed to put a shuttle together and went for what they assumed would be an easy scavenging expedition. Digger scavengers normally go down into the ruins to collect pretech and valuable materials; they often sell what doesn't have immediate use to trading partners from offworld, but they aren't fond of foreigners poking into their territory. They hope to one day tear down the city and rebuild the planet.

    Keepers are the other faction, smaller in numbers, but much more devout and organized. They see it as their sacred duty to maintain the city as close to undisturbed as possible, as a reminder of human hubris. They will attack offworlders on sight.

    This is what I shared with my players so far. One thread I have in mind is that a former associate of one of the PCs wants to establish a trade agreement with this Digger village, and for that they will have to win the favor of the elders that run the place.

    I'm open to any and all ideas. What fun things would you do given this setup?

    03:51 UTC


    Factions on a single world

    So I'm running the faction system and I'm having some issues as my campaign is currently locked to a single planet so every faction can attack the others instantly. Is there a better way to run it? One thing I thought of was to maybe make a map of a few cities instead of planets to move the assets about. Though would greatly appreciate tips.

    03:40 UTC


    How much would ships depreciate in value over time?

    So I'm planning to have the PCs be lent out a ship by the starship-building company that's building them a ship with the understand that, if they don't bring back the loaner within a set time frame, the corporation will be permitted to take possession of the ship they paid for and the cost of the loaner ship will be deducted from their balance. If they do bring back the loaner ship, they'll instead only need to pay if it requires repairs.

    Now I'm thinking this loaner ship is probably an older model they still have around because it didn't sell originally, and they might have lent it out like this a few times. With that in mind, about how much do you think starships would drop in value and over what kind of timeframe?

    23:25 UTC


    Planet tag ideas

    So I recently rolled up a planet with both an Inert Atmosphere and also Hybrid Biosphere and have been stumped at how creatures from earth would be able to coexist with creatures from a planet with an inert atmosphere. My tags for the world are Flying Cities and Sole Supplier, and my main idea for the world would be one in which massive flying cities would basically vacuum up clouds in order to harvest rare gases that could be used in pharmaceuticals and force field technology.

    22:41 UTC


    "Safeties Off," Denton Has a Line on The Mysterious Vigilante Turning The Hab District Into a War Zone, But The Clock is Running Out Faster Than He Knows

    14:56 UTC


    Licensing "without numbers"


    I've been wondering what kind of license are the "without number" systems using? I've found some information about cities without number and a stretch goal of 200k with the possibility to place it under a license.

    But how do worlds and stars handle that matter? Are they part of any license at all and if that may be the case; Which one?

    Thanks o/

    07:51 UTC


    How short do you like your campaign?

    I look at a sector and I see years of play. That being said, if you had to set a session limit for a campaign, how little would you feel comfortable with?

    04:44 UTC


    Will I need to implement supplements right away or can they be applied while in a campaign already?

    I'm new to SWN and I'm not quite sure what direction our campaign will go yet and don't want to essentially pay for things we're not going to use at all

    12:13 UTC


    Tips for running a Transhuman sector

    What are the genre conventions that I'm running for Transhuman sectors? Are the various polities like Dune houses and they are all scheming to topple each other? Or something else?

    Does players gaining face from a given polity impact anything in terms of mechanics?

    How do the polities interact with the planets and other bodies in the sector? Do they live on planets? Or Orbitals? Or just in VR?

    What are some books that use settings like this to tell stories? So far I've read Diaspora by Greg Egan, but I haven't found anything else. Thanks all

    12:40 UTC


    Automation Support and Spike Drills

    I was looking at the automation support fitting and noticed this part of the description:

    At least one human, VI, or True AI crew member is necessary to oversee the bots and monitor spike drills, but otherwise crew may be replaced with cheap, basic robots at a cost of 1,000 credits per crew member replaced.

    Ordinarily a drill requires at least 3 crew members to man the watch during a metadimensional trip or one drugged-up pilot. Is it meant that a single pilot in a ship with automation support can make a drill and have bots take over while they sleep, or do they still have to be drugged-up for the entire trip?

    01:35 UTC


    Telekinesis as an attack

    So I have a question that a cursory look at the books and the rules didn't quite answer.

    My player is a lv3 adventuerer with telekinesis 2. They were fighting some small insectoid pack animals and he wanted to lift up a large boulder and drop it on the their queen or them.

    Looking at the rules it appears that telekinesis is too slow and unrefined to make such an attack. Not wanting to set an expectation of being abke to drop or slam heavy every fight. I vetoed it.

    How does this actually work? Do they need telekinetic ram or am I missing something? Clarification would be greatly appreciated.

    18:23 UTC


    Original or revised

    Hi, I've only recently learned about Stars Without Number and I thought I'd give it a look to see about gm'ing a game and honestly I really like the idea of it but, I am not quite sure on whether to look into the original or revised.

    I've previously gm'd D&D, VT:M, pathfinder and only war and am a big fan of worldbuidling various different things, if thats any help.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

    21:04 UTC


    Has Kevin Crawford officially created any rules for starport classification in any of the ancillary books?

    I'm writing up a sourcebook for Sector-85 and I want to classify the starports in each system. Has Kevin Crawford officially created any guidelines for starport classification in any of the ancillary books?

    Edit/Add: to be clear, I'm going to assign a classification to each planet. I just don't want to create a new classification system if Kevin Crawford already made an official one.

    Should I just use Traveller's rankings?

    Roll 2d6

    2-4 Class A Excellent quality installation. Refined fuel available. Annual maintenance overhaul available. Shipyard capable of both starship and non-starship construction present.

    5-6 Class B Good quality installation. Refined fuel available. Annual maintenance overhaul available. Shipyard capable of constructing non-starships present.

    7-8 Class C Routine quality installation. Only unrefined fuel available. Reasonable repair facilities are present.

    9 Class D Poor quality installation. Only unrefined fuel available. No repair or shipyard facilities present.

    10-11 Class E Frontier installation. Essentially a bare spot of bedrock with no fuel, facilities, or bases present.

    12 Class X No starport. Class X starports are generally indicative of an interdiction. No provision is made for any starship landings and such landings are probably prohibited.

    20:53 UTC


    Suggestions for premade adventures? (from any RPG system); ideally combat light

    I'm in a SWN game right now and we rotate playing game mastering. Our campaign is pretty combat light and more adventure based with high social interactions.

    I'm looking for any suggestions on pre-made scifi modules/adventures/campaigs that I might be able to utilize when running an adventure. I don't really care what game system makes them (can be starfinder, gurps, cyberpunk, alien, etc) as I'm really looking for the core plot/characters/ideas for inspiration.

    Ideally, the adventure would involve lots of NPC interaction and exploration.

    13:44 UTC


    Scifi versions of magic items?

    I've been running a game for a few levels, and the players have gotten some better gear, but I miss the treasure reward a good magic item gives, even if it's something dumb. They're easy to explain in D&D (magic item from ancient wizard or god or whatever), but how do you handle "magic" items in SWN or other scifi games? Where do you got for inspiration on what the item stats and abilities are?

    20:38 UTC


    I'm a new DM working on learning the rules. One of my players wants to be an alien, but I don't see an Origin Focus that matches what they want.

    I'm making a "cheat sheet", which is just me copying over the rules in laymans terms. It makes it easy for me to learn and its easier to explain to my players when they arrive. I got to the point about Foci and Alien races.

    I figured I'd reach out to my players and ask if they wanted to be humans or Aliens. It seemed easy enough: If you want to be a green skinned humanoid or hairy like a wookie, you just are. If you want your race to be smarter, stronger or special-er than humans you have to swap your focus at the beginning for an Origin Focus, located around page 200 in the book.

    One of my players wants to be a humanoid chimp like Spike from Ace Ventura. They want a prehensile tail and the ability to grab and perform dexterous actions with it. They'll be just as tall as a human, just with a tail. I do not see anything in the book that resembles something like that.

    Would I just make it up and try to balance it? like "This race has a prehensile tail that works and acts like a third arm. It can perform skills and use weapons"

    20:13 UTC


    Source for more Ship Fittings?

    Though the content in the SWN rulebook is decent, I am looking for a source that might be able to add a little more crunch to the ships. Are there any official supplements with more ship fittings, weapons etc? Thanks in advance.

    02:57 UTC


    Ashes Campaign Musing

    So initially I was thinking Gamma Ray Burst scenario as I described before, but now I think I'm going to shift to mid-apocalypse Alien Invasion (not secret) similar to Falling Skies, with groups of survivors scavenging and scraping to survive against an occupying enemy force that they may (or may not) be able to defeat.

    03:43 UTC


    Podcast playing swn?

    Are there any?

    03:12 UTC


    Could someone help explain factions a little better to me?

    I'm using sectors without number to set up everything my players are going to run into. I've got a few "people" in mind But I don't know exactly if what I'm doing is correct.

    The people that I had ideas for

    A sector of six solar systems called the "Coalition of Universes". I figured these would be similar to a space themed United Nations.

    Then there's a guy who owns two planets and on both of these planets they're mostly slaves who work mining the planets so that he can get the money from the resources. If you end up on his planet eventually your ship might end up broken and then you have to pay an exorbitant fee, which turnes into " you can work it off!" Which turns into slavery.

    Then I have a guy who owns three planets but he is kind of a hive mind drug dealer. He has three separate forms that are all doing different aspects of daily life. One is managing his planet of industry and drugs and crime. The whole planet is like a crime-ridden Las Vegas. The second iteration is running kind of like a planet meant for his political prisoners. And the last one is just getting high all the time on his third planet.

    Then I have a group of religious monks who work off of a space station that protect a haunted world. Everybody who goes there dies. Kind of like the mist, that horror movie? Except imagine ghosts and spirits and supernatural stuff actually is real.

    And then I have two separate groups who both own two planets who are waging war for a third/fifth planet in their solar system. So they both own 2 planets, that makes 4 in the system and there's a 5th planet that they're both trying to occupy and there's a war going on between them.

    Lastly, I have a planet in a solar system that is similar to Wall Street. Except it's the Wall Street of almost every solar system in the universe. The city that never sleeps except an entire planet.

    Now here comes my question. For factions, are the factions the people that own these planets? Would the Coalition of universes be one faction? Or would each of the six planets be their own faction? And then for the crime Boss hive mind, I'm sure he's got people on his planet that are making dealings behind his back and other crime families who are trying to make a profit on his planets? Would those pop up as factions too?

    In the almost words of Beowulf, "must I write down a whole family tree of factions?"

    00:41 UTC

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