Starfire | Messages | Letter | Galaxy | Rules
The following are the rules for Starfire, a work of interactive fiction. You are responsible for knowing these rules. If there is something that you aren't sure about, ask a Gamesmaster before it comes up, or you may find yourself unpleasantly surprised.
All Gamesmaster decisions are final, even if they directly contradict the rules.
Many of these rules are difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. Therefore, this game relies heavily on the Honor System. Bending or ignoring the rules is not a clever or inventive stratagem, it's cheating. Remember, this is a game, played for fun, and we hope you agree that it is no fun to win by cheating.
Before you begin to play in this game, we ask you to swear (or affirm) to the following Oath:
All game materials for Starfire copyright © 1999 Stephen R. Balzac, George S. Cole, P. Thomas Lehmann, Aimee Yermish. Based on the SIL-West game Stopover, copyright © 1993 Jeffrey A. Arenberg, David Bales, Stephen R. Balzac, Holly Kaslewicz, Kenneth E. Kofman, Aimee Yermish, used by permission. All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
1.1. Game Notebooks
2.1. Fair Escape
4.1. VIP Lounge
1.1. Game Notebooks
You should have received the following things in your notebook along with these rules. If you are missing anything, talk to a Gamesmaster (GM).
You may also have received any or all of the following. Again, if you think you are supposed to have something you don't, ask a GM.
1.2. The Real World
This game does not give you the right to do in reality anything which is normally prohibited by law or by common sense. Running, feigning of illness or injury, screaming, drawing real or costume weaponry, petty theft, rummaging through other people's possessions, blocking the hallways, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, smoking in the Player Lounge, annoying people who are not playing this game, and anything else which could possibly cause injury, anxiety, or inconvenience to others, or even lead a bystander to wonder if you might be something other than a perfectly normal, well-adjusted member of society, are all strictly prohibited. The GMs reserve the right to sadistically over-react to anything they don't like.
People who are not playing in Starfire, even if you know them, are referred to as civilians. You may neither ask nor allow them to participate in or help with any game action. This includes, but is not limited to, helping you spy on someone, holding game items for you, passing game-related messages to other players, or hanging around near you to prevent you from being attacked. Asking for advice from civilians is okay, as long as it's kept within reason. If people are interested in playing or watching for a while, send them to the GMs.
It is quite possible for civilians to affect the game, however. For instance, if a civilian accidentally comes into possession of a game item, you will have to figure out how to get it back. More importantly, if you participate in any suspicious or illegal act (searching a body, attacking or kidnapping someone, casting a spell, and the like) in the presence of civilians, whether or not they are looking or say they won't tell, you must contact a GM immediately. Real actions attract far more attention than our simulations.
[ top ]
1.3. The Game World
1.3.1. Gamesmasters (GMs)
The Gamesmasters are your link to your memory and to the world around you. GMs cheerfully spend the entire weekend:
[ top ]
1.3.2. Time and Space
Voluntary verbal interactions and item transfers between active players are permitted -- nay, encouraged! -- at any time, in any place.
During times that the GMs are off duty (Friday, and rest and meal breaks), you may not engage in any actions which might require the intervention of a GM (combat, use of special abilities, magic, thieving, or anything else discussed in sections 2 or 3) no matter how cut-and-dried you think the situation is, even if the action started before the break time began, even if everyone involved wants to keep going. Unless a GM gives you explicit instructions to continue, you must break off action when he clock says to. Stalling on purpose is, of course, bad form.
Game actions are permitted in any place, even inside private hotel rooms or outside the hotel. The presence of civilians doesn't keep you safe; it just means that the ship's security system will know of any unusual activity and may choose to intervene.
If you share a room with another player, he may not take items you leave untended in the room, nor can he bring someone else into the room to take them. They are considered to be in a separate room which he cannot enter, so you don't have to hide things under the mattress. If you are in the room and actively participating in the game, you are active, the items are on your person, and you and any other active characters in the room, including your roommate, are in the same physical location. Please be reasonable in accommodating each other's real-world needs for the room.
Some places in the game world will be assigned locations in the real world, posted in the Player Lounge as the need arises. To go to one of these game locations, go to the real location. If you are in one of these real locations, you are in the game location. There are no virtual walls or overlapping areas -- wherever you go, there you are.
To go to a place which is not available in the real world (someone else's hotel room) or the game world (Main Engineering), talk to a GM.
[ top ]
188.8.131.52. Holographic Projection
The Starfire is equipped with a Holodeck, located in the VIP Lounge. It is used for characters who wish to fight holoduels (see section 2.2.6) for amusement or honor. You may not project your hologram anywhere outside of the VIP Lounge, unless you have a special ability to do so. Characters who are holographic projections outside the VIP Lounge wear yellow badges to indicate their non-corporeal status.
While you are holographic, you may only interact physically with other holographic characters. You cannot touch any items, nor can you be forced to leave an area.
[ top ]
184.108.40.206. Space Exploration
Sargassan space can be explored, but only with some difficulty. You must have all of the following to go on an EVA mission:
Holographic characters cannot go on EVA missions.
The areas of Sargassan space accessible from the Starfire are represented by a tape maze at one end of the VIP Lounge. You move around in space by following along the lines of tape. Whenever you come to an envelope, you must open it and follow its instructions. Many locations cost Resource Points to enter or leave; you may pay for these with Resource Chits (see section 1.1) or with items having intrinsic Resource Points (see section 1.3.3). Note that it is quite possible to get stuck out there
Exploration around the ship itself is prevented by the security system, to guard against sabotage.
If you find an item in space, you are free to take it with you.
While you are exploring space, you are inactive with respect to everyone else in the game, unless they are in exactly the same place in the maze as you are. The only exception is that if you get stuck, you may issue a mayday call giving your present location.
[ top ]
220.127.116.11. Voluntary Inactivity
You may wish to take a temporary break from the game, to participate in a convention activity, go out to dinner, or just relax for a while. This is perfectly legal: all you have to do is go someplace where there are no other active players (say, your hotel room) and take off your badge. To reactivate, go back to the same place and put your badge back on. If you plan to be inactive for two hours or more at a stretch, please let the GMs know, as a courtesy to your fellow players.
While you are inactive, you may not participate in the game in any way whatsoever. Don't hang around where there are active players, listen to conversations, follow active players, and so forth. If you're talking in character, discussing game events, working on a game puzzle, waiting for a friend to show up, or anything else related to the game, even if it looks like you're not doing anything, there's no one else around, or the people you're with all went inactive together, you will generally be ruled active if a disagreement arises.
The purpose of this rule is to allow you to take a total break from thinking about the game. You may not go inactive for any reason having to do with the game. Thus, going inactive to avoid or escape being confronted or attacked, create artificial "safe" zones, pick and choose which characters you'd like to interact with, or "teleport" around are all out-of-bounds. Your enemies have just as much right to find you active as your friends do. If you wish to talk with or being in the same place as another character, you risk him doing something less-than-friendly to you. If you've made someone mad at you, you'll have to watch your back. If someone's outfoxed you, take your lumps like a good sport.
[ top ]
All game items are clearly marked as such. If you would like a game item to represent a real item which your character could reasonably come into possession of, speak to a GM. Note that folded, torn, spindled, or mutilated objects may not function. If you have a real item which looks like it might be a game item, please make sure that any players you show it to are aware that it is just a prop.
Unless otherwise indicated, all game items are freely transferable among players. If you find a game item lying around, feel free to walk off with it.
If someone has left an obviously useful real item lying around (a room key, for instance), you may "steal" it. Place a small sign on it saying "STOLEN" and contact a GM, who will give you a game item to represent the real item and inform your victim of his misfortune.
All game items in your pockets, character notebook, or other baggage on your person, regardless of their form, are equally vulnerable to pickpockets, spies, or other special abilities. If your character can hide something particularly well, you will have an appropriate special ability card (see section 3)
If you find a notebook lying around unattended (more than ten feet away from its owner outside of his hotel room), please bring it to a GM, who will sort out the transferable items for you, by way of reward. Never go through someone else's notebook! This rule is to reduce the headaches resulting from lost notebooks, not to provide a way for you to steal other people's items without a special ability. You may not purposefully steal a notebook.
Many items will have Resource Points marked on them (for such things as Oxygen, Biomass, Energy, and the like). These points are an important part of the Sargassan economy.
Some items have special abilities (see section 3). Just follow the rules as printed on the card to use them. Unless otherwise stated on the card, anyone may use an item's special abilities.
Some items, such as books, will have an envelope or cover page saying that you can only interact with them under certain circumstances ("You may only read this book if you can read Serbo-Croatian."). As in all things, follow the rules as printed on the item.
[ top ]
Most information in this game is carried around in your head, or printed or written in your character notebook, which represents your infallible memory and cannot be taken from you. You may reveal, conceal, or lie about any information, and what you don't know, you may feel free to make up. The only exception to this rule is that you may never misrepresent the rules, your knowledge of them, or a ruling you may have been given by a GM. If you plan to perpetrate some sort of scam on the other characters, the GMs will be happy to play along -- just warn them in advance.
If a piece of written information (including a page taken out of your notebook, but not including your character sheet or bluesheets) is not in your personal notebook, it is a game item. Real-life encryption and decryption are perfectly permissible.
[ top ]
2.1. Fair Escape
If you spot someone coming toward you with malice on his mind, you may not wish to stick around. The Fair Escape rule makes dangerous high-speed chase scenes unnecessary and illegal.
To make a Fair Escape, simply announce that you are doing so and walk purposefully but slowly away from your potential attackers. Everyone else around should hold their positions while you resolve the escape. If anyone you move within five feet of during your escape refuses to let you pass, your Fair Escape fails and you may be attacked. (Note that if you are already interacting with someone and the talk turns ugly, it's not easy to make a fair escape.)
After a successful Fair Escape, neither party may interact with the other for five minutes.
You may also make a Fair Escape after a round of combat, as explained in section 2.2.4.
[ top ]
2.2.1. Your Combat Card
Your combat card has your ratings in various physical skills on it, as well as a grid to help you resolve the effects of combat. A quick guided tour
Speed represents how quickly you move. In each round of combat, the As move first, then the Bs, Cs, and so on.
[ top ]
2.2.2. Basic Mechanics
Combat is divided into rounds. In each round, each character gets to make one Combat Move. Each row of your combat card lists the Combat Moves you know how to do; the columns list all of the possible moves your opponents might make. Most characters only know a few Moves, which is why your combat card has fewer rows than columns.
The Move you choose determines both what you are attempting to do to your target (usually some form of attack) and how open you are to your opponents' attacks. It is generally not possible to learn new Moves during the course of the weekend; unless specifically directed otherwise, you may only do Moves explicitly listed on your combat card.
You also choose how many of your Combat Points you will allocate to attack your opponent. The remaining points go to defend yourself against his attack. The more points you put on attack, the more damage you do when you hit, the more likely you are to do damage when you get a partial hit, and the more likely you are to achieve any special results listed in the grid. However, the more points you put on defense, the less likely he is to hit you, to do lots of damage, or to get a special result on you.
1. Everyone decides what they are going to do that round.
2. Each person's Move is resolved, starting with people with speed A and progressing through the alphabet. If you are rendered unconscious before your turn comes up, you do not get your move for that round. If two or more people have the same speed, the results are applied simultaneously. To resolve your Move
Note that it is possible for two characters to get Grab or Tempo results on each other at the same time.
c. Keep a running tally of your Current Hit Points on your combat card. If you are brought to zero Hit Points, you are out of the combat and probably very seriously injured (see section 2.3.1).
Once everyone has resolved the effects of their Moves, anyone still left standing may continue to the next round of combat.
[ top ]
2.2.3. Weapons and Armor
Some items are useful in combat. For instance, a force field generator would add points to your defense, while a knife would add points to your attack. The rules for these are printed on the item cards.
Unless otherwise indicated on the card, you can do all combat moves while holding any weapon or wearing any armor. You can only use one weapon at a time.
You can only draw a weapon during combat (or change which weapons you are using) if you would have been able to make a Fair Escape (see section 2.2.4), although you do not need to have a clear escape path.
Normally, people do not have difficulty hanging onto their weapons in combat. However, if you were to drop a weapon, it cannot be retrieved by anyone for the duration of that combat.
[ top ]
2.2.4. Making a Fair Escape From Combat
You may make a Fair Escape from combat if, at the end of a combat round, all of the following are true:
Alternatively, you may make a Fair Escape from combat if, at the end of a combat round, no one within five feet of your escape path is able to object, including your opponents. They are unable to object if they are dead, unconscious, lying on the ground, Grabbed by an opponent other than you (see section 2.2.2), or otherwise helpless.
[ top ]
If you wish to subdue someone without killing him, everyone hitting him must agree to this aloud and in advance. They may not use any weapons in the fight. They choose Combat Moves normally, but are assumed to be modifying those Moves so that they cause little or no lethal damage. The number of Hit Points of damage taken from these attacks is normal; when the victim reaches zero hit points, he is unconscious, but not in danger of dying (see section 2.3).
[ top ]
2.2.6. Holographic Combat
Fights between holographic projections (see section 18.104.22.168) occur normally, with a few small differences:
[ top ]
The following are brief descriptions of the Combat Moves.
[ top ]
2.2.8. General Comments
This system is complex, yes. It's also fun. Both in Sargassan society and aboard the Starfire, holographic dueling is often a form of entertainment. Feel free to fight holoduels with GMs or with other characters on Friday night in order to get the hang of the system. You can fight holoduels either as yourself, or you can check out a holographic avatar of a famous martial artist of the past, such as Bruce Lee, Muhammed Ali, or Nelson Drake, in order to get a better feel for the full range of the system. Don't hesitate to ask a GM if you have questions.
The strategy in the system involves guessing which Combat Moves your opponent will choose, how many points to allocate to attack and defense, and which of your Moves are most likely to succeed against them. In multi-party combats, there is also a considerable amount of strategy involved in deciding which opponent to attack when.
The system is in part deterministic: any two Combat Moves will yield the same result each time they are used against each other. It is therefore possible to sit down with your grid and figure out a lot of things about t he combat system which you might not be able to determine without actually sparring with other people. We hope you feel as we do that these practices are not in the spirit of the game, and that learning from experience is much more fun, if perhaps a bit painful.
[ top ]
After any occurrence which might have resulted in a character's injury, unconsciousness, or death, all parties involved must contact a GM immediately.
[ top ]
If you are injured (you lose Hit Points but have not been brought to zero), you will probably be able to continue playing normally. Damage sustained in combat can be healed by use of medical technology or special abilities, or you can wait for nature to take her course. Natural healing is 1 hit point per hour, including time during game breaks.
If you are knocked unconscious, you will remain so for fifteen minutes after the current combat is over. When you awake, you will have the same number of hit points you did when you were knocked out, even if that number is zero.
While you are unconscious or in the medlab, you are inactive. A GM will give you a pink "I'm Not Here" insert to wear in your player badge until you are able to hobble around again. While you are inactive, you may neither participate in nor observe any game actions, nor may you give even the slightest of hints as to how you came to such a sorry state.
If you are killed, you may be reincarnated, depending on character availability. The GMs will apprise you of your options. Rest assured that we do our best to not have you spend the rest of the game bored.
If you are killed and your body is not looted, please turn over any game items remaining on your person or in your room to the GMs, in case someone else searches later. Please try to be a good sport about dying: it was probably nothing personal.
[ top ]
2.3.2. Fun Things to Do With Bodies
An unconscious person is effectively helpless, so it is easy to keep someone unconscious by attacking him every fifteen minutes.
If no one around objects, you may kill an unconscious person simply by saying so.
Dead or unconscious bodies may be looted. You must have privacy for as long as it takes for the player being searched to pull out and hand over all of his transferable game items, including item cards, money, documents (other than the notes in his character notebook), and physical items. If you are interrupted, whatever you already have is what you get.
Dead or unconscious bodies may also be carried off. One person can move a body no more than ten feet at a time (just walk together). You must wait five minutes before you can move it again. Two or more people can move a body as far as they like, at a normal walking pace. If you move a body to any place in the hotel, that's where it is. If you keep your victim in your hotel room, your roommate does not have access to him (see section 1.3.2) while you are not there.
A kidnap victim is inactive except to the people who go visit him, and should wear an "I'm Not Here" badge. The GMs must be informed of the location of any kidnap victim or hidden corpse.
[ top ]
Using some of your character's skills in the real world might be dangerous (combat), illegal (thieving), or impossible (telepathy). Therefore, if your character has any of these abilities, you will have an index card explaining the use of the ability and its effects. Some special abilities may supercede some sections of these rules. Special abilities are not transferable among players.
You must be able to produce your ability card to use an ability. If you want to use an ability without showing the card (for example, to lie under a compulsion of truth), you must still show your card to a GM.
The following are specific types of special abilities of which all players should be aware.
Some players may have "disabilities," printed on orange 4x6" cards. If the conditions described on the card are met, you must use the disability, as directed on the card. Most disabilities are not transferable between players, but there may be exceptions.
[ top ]
All players in the game are assumed to speak, read, and write Galactic Common. You may also have a special ability saying that you can read other languages. Documents that are written in foreign languages will have covers stating which language they are written in. You may not read these documents unless you have a special ability to read the language in question. This rule is the only situation in which you may use an ability card while off duty: you may read any book for which you have an appropriate language ability at any time.
If you write margin comments and such on a foreign-language document, they are assumed to be in the same language as the document. If you want to do harm to a document in any way (changing or obliterating words, tearing pages, or destroying the entire document), contact a GM.
[ top ]
Chi is life force, a kind of mental or psychic energy which we all have, and which many mystics and martial artists work very hard to cultivate. Your Chi score is listed on your combat card. Some special abilities must overcome your Chi (the attack strength must be greater than your Chi score) in order to work. Some people claim that they can use Chi effectively in a fight to defend themselves or even to attack their opponents; if you know how to do this, you will have a special ability card explaining the appropriate rules.
If you spend Chi Points, they will regenerate once you spend a full hour without using any more Chi Points. For instance, if you spend 5 CP at 1pm, you will get them back at 2pm. However, if you also spent 3 CP at 1:30pm, you would have to wait until 2:30pm, when all 8 CP would regenerate.
You cannot use Chi abilities in holographic combat. Chi abilities cannot be combined.
[ top ]
Most thieving abilities (such as picking locks) and some abilities related to thieving have a Thieving Attack strength associated with them. Your Thieving Defense (TD) is found on your combat card. It represents your general awareness and your ability to protect your belongings.
To use a thieving ability, compare the Thieving Attack to your intended victim's TD.
Unless there is some other restriction printed on the card, each thieving ability may be used only once per victim per fifteen minutes. People tend to get suspicious of persistent pickpockets...
If you have a very good reason to need to ensure your anonymity (for instance, if you are stealing from someone who believes you to be his loyal follower), you may ask a GM to serve as a Thieving Assistant (TA). A GM may well take hours or refuse the errand entirely. You may only use a TA for one thieving attempt at a time, and the TA must be able to locate your target merely by looking around. The TA may ask you to pass within close proximity to the target before accepting the errand. While the TA is acting, you are inactive and must stay in the same place as you were when you asked for help. While TAs will generally make reasonable attempts to be subtle about whom they act for, they are under no obligation to do so. (It is bad form for a victim to watch a TA to figure out who the thief is.) Do not abuse this privilege, or it may desert you when you least expect it.
Two thieves may work together, if they have the same ability (the cards are identical, except perhaps for the exact attack strength). The second thief adds one half (round up) of his attack to the first. It is not possible for more than two thieves to work together on a single attack.
[ top ]
Torture is amusing but inefficient. Even the strongest will can be broken, but it may take quite a while. Describe your method of persuasion to your victim, including any intimidating patter, and he will roleplay accordingly. It is entirely up to the victim what, if anything, he will say, and whether he will tell the truth.
Truth-reading abilities and mind probes are a little more reliable, but they too have their limits. Most only allow a few questions, and while victims may be compelled not to lie, they are not compelled to give you the information you want. Read the rules on the card carefully, and ask your questions prudently.
[ top ]
4.1. VIP Lounge
During the hours the GMs are on duty, the game's main function room serves as the VIP lounge aboard the Starfire. The doors must remain open during those times, and any active character may enter or leave freely. If you want a private meeting, find a private location for it.
The back doors of the function rooms lead into service hallways. These are for hotel staff only and should remain closed at all times, unless a GM asks you to prop them open for ventilation. Players are not allowed in the service hallways.
[ top ]
The Starfire is equipped with state-of-the-art security equipment, most of which is still intact. It has the capacity to, if necessary, seal off areas and pipe in knockout gas in order to quell disturbances. The ship's AI ("Chan") can detect violence occurring outside of the authorized dueling area in the VIP Lounge. While it will generally not stop a fight, it will ensure that medical assistance is promptly forthcoming. Blasters and slug-throwers (guns) are not permitted aboard the ship; if one is used, the AI will detect it and take quick action. Any violent altercation, even if no one is injured or killed, must be reported immediately to the GMs.
[ top ]
4.3. Message Board
The Message Board in the VIP Lounge is for signs, announcements, public messages, and the like. You may read anything that is up there, including notes to other characters. You may not, however, cover, alter, or remove anything, unless you are the poster or the sole addressee, or the message serves only to announce a meeting which has already concluded. Scratch paper and removable tape has been provided; please do not write on the board itself.
[ top ]
4.4. Picture Board
To help you recognize each other, there is a picture board in the player lounge. Your character notebook has a card clipped to the front. If we have your picture already, it is on the card; if not, have a GM take your picture. Before you go off to read your notebook, find your character name on the board (they are organized alphabetically by character first name) and cover it with your picture, showing that you have arrived. If a character has no picture, but has a player name already posted, the character is cast but the player has not yet arrived. If there is only a character name posted, that character has not yet been cast. Please do not move or tamper with pictures, even your own.
[ top ]
4.5. The Starfire News
Events of public significance will be reported on by the Starfire News. Articles will be posted on the board in the player lounge. You may not post anything there yourself, nor may you remove anything. If you have a hot tip, write your story legibly and hand them to the Editors [any GM] in the player lounge.
It may be possible for certain dishonorable people to modify, suppress, or create news, if they cross an Editor's palm with enough GUNCs or Resource Chits. Discretion is guaranteed, unless the other guy pays a better bribe...
Each character has been issued a mailbox, located in the player lounge, where you may leave messages and items for each other. Your box is below your name.
GMs will also occasionally need to leave you notes to ask you a question, to give you information you had asked for earlier, or to resolve the effects of a special ability. GM notes are written on bright orange paper. Please check your message box often.
[ top ]
Any time you think you need a GM, you are entitled to ask for one to assist you. Please do not call for trivial matters, but if you are involved in a complicated combat, being kidnapped, interrogated, or killed, or for any other reason feel that events are moving too quickly or that you do not understand your options, call a GM. They will ensure that you are treated fairly.
[ top ]
Remember, all Gamesmaster decisions are final, even if they directly contradict the rules. Common sense, naturally, takes precedence over the exact wording of these rules.
In any game based on an existing work of fiction (even one that we wrote ourselves), there will be some parts of the game in which your interpretation of the works differs from that of the GMs, and other parts of the game where the GMs have deliberately altered things for the sake of keeping the game balanced and fun. Yes, folks, some aspects of the world have been changed since Stopover. We ask you to be patient and understanding.
The purpose of these rules is to provide a framework for roleplaying. Don't try to exploit, twist, or beat the rules. Don't argue, whine, or try to play GMs off against each other. That's not what this game is all about. Instead, go out and meet people, face setbacks heroically, play your character, stay alert, and have fun!
[ top ]
SIL West | About | Design | Contact
Dragon | Starfire | Secrets | Empire