Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Spaceship Zero in the 2022 character creation challenge

On day 26 of  the #characterCreationChalenge my essential salts are reconstituted in Universe 2

Spaceship Zero is a 2002 game modeling a very Buck Rogers meets Call of Cthulhu setting where the people who accidentally destroyed the last universe are now the only hope for a human rebellion against the Hydronaut invaders in this universe. It leans hard into this concept, with special powers that really drive the play style (the Escapes Slave Girl template gives other PCs action bonuses when she swoons for them or hangs on their leg), and it’s really a setting that needs player buy in. With that buy in the biggest risk being every player deciding to be a super intelligent cat, dog, or monkey with a Robot PC to open cans for them. 

As such I’m playing a Robot PC who explicitly looks like Robbie the Robot (a standard Robot power is immunity to chokes and nerve strikes; it’s called “has no neck”; They aren’t fooling around on the genre emulation). There’s more than a dozen templates filling all the archetypes that fit in this game to steer players in the right direction. Each template has minimum and maximum scores for the 4 skills (Brains, Brawn, Balance, Bravado, all rated 1-20), and you have 50 points to distribute. Robots are supposed to be strong (minimum Brawn 12) but I lean way in with a 20 Brawn, a 12 Brains and 9 in the other two, high enough to avoid penalties. 

PCs get 1-4 “zero skills” where you get a bonus (roll 3d10 rather than d100, and place two in the order you prefer) and Robot comes with Technical Know How. Looking over the charts you can pick one of the combat skills, one frequent and one less frequent non-combat, or three less frequent non-combat.  I take the middle option and add Lore: Earth Invasion History (he was awake and monitoring events while the crew were in essential salts suspension) and Medicine. My idea is that as a JOAT robot he need to be able to step in as a doctor, pilot or engineer as needed, as well as being an information repository. 

Like Twilight 2000, SS0 does skill selection in rounds:
A) There are a bunch of skills that start at double their base attribute and I fill those in. 

B) I have 225 template points to spend on Robot skills. I boost lots of things to 33% because the mechanics have your skill as difficult baseline, with easy tasks being at *3, so that gives me 99% with simple functions. [Edit: it turns out I red this wrong and that multiplication is only for attributes; skills get flat bonuses, oh well....]

I then have 25 points to spend on any skills. Being a stickler i raise a lot of things to 20 or 30 because rolling a 0 on a successful skill check gives you a Zero Point that acts as a hero/drama point. Make sure you can get them!

Then I get ANOTHER 120 skill points from my 12 Brains. Those go to round out the rest of the skills I need to be my Jack of all Trades idea, plus a ton of points on Heave so my super strong robot can be really super strong. 

Like T2K this feels like a game what an open ended sandbox but a set end point: sooner or later you have to defeat the Hydronauts or get enough humans away to escape and form a new colony. The oppression of things being as bad as they are at the start has to lift for the game to feel long term fun to me, and even with that I don’t know id play this game for longer than a year. But it’d be a fun year! 


  1. Looking at how much I mangled that text writing it on my phone on a train is just embarrassing