Peking Space Opera Blues

Like any other fictional character, a PSOB character has a name, an appearance, a history, friends, enemies, goals, and dreams. All these are created by the character's player and the GM, to describe the player's conception of the character as she exists in the GM's world. Like other RPG characters, she will also have some attributes, primarily numeric in nature, which describe what she can do: how accurately she can fire a blaster, how well she can repair a broken hyperdrive, how fast she can run, how well she can take a punch. In PSOB, there are two sorts of attributes: skills and schticks.

Quick Character Generation

To get started playing right away, a player need only choose whichever one of the following space opera archetypes most clostly fits his conception and assign the last few skill points and choose the last schtick or two to bring the character in line with his conception of this particular smuggler or space marine.

By default, all PSOB characters are human. Players wishing to play a non-human character should refer to the Detailed Character Generation section.




Hopefully, these skills will cover most everything characters attempt during the course of a PSOB game. If something that is really not covered by the skills here comes up repeatedly, the GM may wish to create a new skill, but should try to find an existing skill that covers the action first.

Climbing, swinging from chandeliers, other nonstandard movement
Noticing trouble before it notices you
Knowing what things are worth, buying them for less, selling them for more
Getting people to like you and do you favors
Friends and acquaintances among a certain sector of society
Lying, cheating, bribery, disguise
Finding clues and knowing what they mean
Repairing or sabotaging any mechanical device, jury-rigging equipment
Knowledge of various planets, species, customs, etc
Using any mounted weapon, including spacecraft weaponry
Using any hand-held energy or projectile weapon
Knowledge of a subject or profession of your choice
Terrifying people into submission,or at least into flight
Winning people to your cause and rallying them after the defeat
Martial Arts
Fighting bare-handed, with melee weapons, or with thrown weapons
Driving groundcars, flying spacecraft, wearing flight packs
Using psionic powers to maximum effect
Sleight of Hand
Picking pockets, switching boxes of money for empty boxes, party tricks
Going places without being spotted
Getting along without restaurants and hotels, and other low-tech skills
Operating computers, sensors, navcomps, shields, etc



Psionic Schticks


Mind Control

Mental Illusions

Imaginary Friend
Mean Imaginary Friend


Invisible Thumbs
Invisible Fingers
Strength of the Mind
Wings of the Mind
The Blade of the Mind
Armor of the Mind

Body Control


Psionic Flaws

Advanced Character Generation

Archtype Modification

Point-based Character Generation

By default, all characters have Alertness, Climb, Galaxywise, Guns, Martial Arts, and Sneak at 3. They also have one of Pilot or Survival at 3, depending on how primitive their home planet is, one of Charm, Deceit, or Intimidation at 3, depending on their personality, and Contacts at 3 among whatever sort of person they have contacts among (generally members of the same profession, or possibly species). Alien characters may reduce any of these by 3 to gain one schtick per skill reduced, or may, with the GM's approval, transfer the points among skills.

Figured Attributes

Characters have two attributes that are calculated from their skills but may be modified by schticks:

A character's Initiative rating is equal to the highest of her skills. Initiative is used to decide who acts first in combat time.
A character's Dodge rating is equal to the highest of her Agility, Alertness, Guns, Martial Arts, or Psionics skills. A character's Dodge rating is the base Difficulty of other characters attacking her.

They also have a few attributes that are modified from the base values only by schticks:

Base Damage
The base from which damage using muscle-powered weapons is calculated is normally 0.
Unarmed Damage
The damage bonus of a bare-handed attack is normally +0 above the Base Damage.
Running Movement
Characters can normally run 20 meters in a combat round (3 seconds), leap 2 meters from a standing start (run/10), or leap 5 meters from a running start (run/4).
Other Movement
Normal characters can swim 5 meters in a combat round, and cannot glide or fly at all.

Alien Characters


A schtick is some useful thing that a character is or can do that isn't a skill. Some schticks give bonuses to skills in certain situations, or increase figured attributes; others are completely orthogonal to skills. The names given here should not be taken as overly significant: if a player wants his character to be able to breathe underwater by absorbing oxygen through its skin, he should take the Gills schtick and not worry about the name. If he wants to write it as "Oxygen-permeable Skin" on his character sheet, that's fine. It's what the schtick does that's important, not the special effect.

Many schticks can be taken multiple times, with each additional schtick giving some additional benefit beyond the first. Following the name of each schtick is the number of times it can be taken.

Physical Schticks

These schticks reflect some advantage that the character's body gives her. Many of them are only appropriate for non-human characters, but humans who have been altered or are just exceptional in some way could have one or two physical schticks.

Big (1-2)
The character is much bigger than a normal human. Each schtick quadruples the character's mass (from a base of human normal, 50-100kg), functions as one schtick of Tough and one schtick of Strong, and reduces the character's Sneak and Climb skills and their Dodge value by 1. Large characters often have the Frightening trait, but this is by no means mandatory.
Enhanced Sense (1-3)
The character either has sharper senses than average, or has some sense humans don't normally have. One schtick either gives the character a +2 to notice things, or gives them one nonhuman sense such as infrared vision, tracking scent, eyes in the back of their head, etc. Particularly good senses may take more than one schtick at the GM's option.
Extra Limbs (1-2)
The character has more limbs than the standard allotment of two arms and two legs. The extra limbs can be legs, arms, tentacles, prehensile tails, prehensile tongues, or something even more disturbing, and the character can have as many of them as she likes, but in no case do they add to HtH damage, movement, or strength; the character must have the appropriate schticks to gain those advantages. Normally, the extra limbs have no more reach than arms (about 1m), but a second schtick can increase this up to 3m, and gives a +1 to Martial Arts in actual hand-to-whatever combat.
Fast Swimmer (1-4)
The character is naturally at home in the water. For one schtick, the character may swim at normal running speed (20m/rd). Additional schticks can increase this to 30, 40, or 60m/rd for one, two, or three additional schticks.
Fleet of Foot (1-4)
The character runs faster than most, for whatever reason. Each schtick multiplies the character's running speed by approximately 1.5, for a total of 30, 40, 60, or 80m/rd for one, two, three, or four schticks. This will also increase the character's jumping distance proportionally; see the section on movement.
Flight (1-5)
The character has wings, hydrogen sacs, or some other method of flight. For one schtick, she cannot actually fly, but can glide at 30m/rd (more if diving). For another schtick, she can fly at 30m/rd, and can gain altitude at half that speed. Each additional schtick multiplies flight speed by approximately 1.5, for a total of 40, 60, or 80m/rd for one, two, or three more schticks.
The character can breathe normally underwater.
Natural Weaponry(1)
The character has some sort of natural weaponry (hooves, fangs, etc) that adds +3 to her Unarmed Damage.
Strong (1)
The character is very strong. Each schtick adds +2 to her Base Damage and lets her lift and carry four times as much as usual.
Tough (1)
The character is resistent to damage for some reason (chitinous carapace, redundant circulatory system, sheer bloody-mindedness, etc). Each schtick subtracts 2 points from the damage of any attack that hits her.

Mental Schticks

Hair-trigger Reflexes (1)
Abort to some action
Quick Reactions (1)
+2 Initiative

Social Schticks

The character is attractive in some way (well built, exquisitely dressed, impeccable chitin) that gives a +2 to friendly social interactions with other characters that find her romantically or sexually appealing.
More and better equipment
Rank (1-4)
+2 for social interactions where it would be relevent


Physical Flaws

Flimsy (1)
+2 damage from all attacks
Small (1-3)
1/4 normal mass, Flimsy and Weak, +1 Dodge, +1 Sneak, +1 Climb, -1 Intimidate
just plain unlucky
Weak (1)
-2 HtH damage, 1/4 lift

Mental Flaws

Weak-willed (1-2)
-2 to resist Seduction, Intimidation, Leadership, bribery, etc

Social Flaws

Alien (1)
-2 to all social interactions with Imperials and other bigots
-3 to resist Deceit or any similar tricks
Lechery, gambling, drug addiction, ... -4 to resist appropriate bribes
Well-known, for who or what you are; cannot pass unremarked
Never refuse a challenge, break your word, etc.
Hunted (1-2)
Hunted by whoever. Hunted by Empire is two.
owe a debt or loyalty to someone
Poor (1)
No equipment, no money

Neutral Traits

+2 for hostile social interactions, -2 for friendly social interactions
+2 for friendly social interactions, -2 for hostile social interactions
+2 to notice things at night, -2 during the day

Character Advancement

Peking Space Opera Blues is copyright 1997 by Trevor Placker. All rights reserved.

This file was last modified at 1635 on 22Jun99 by