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.
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
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
- 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
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
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
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The character has some sort of natural weaponry (hooves, fangs,
etc) that adds +3 to her Unarmed Damage.
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.
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.
Hair-trigger Reflexes (1)
- Abort to some action
- Quick Reactions (1)
- +2 Initiative
- 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
- More and better equipment
- Rank (1-4)
- +2 for social interactions where it would be relevent
- 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
- Weak-willed (1-2)
- -2 to resist Seduction, Intimidation, Leadership, bribery, etc
- 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
- +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
Peking Space Opera Blues is copyright 1997 by Trevor Placker. All
This file was last modified at 1635 on 22Jun99 by email@example.com.