Star Plunder INC Tutorial

Star Plunder INC is a sci-fi shoot ’em up future dungeoneering game I’m working on. It started off as a 13th Age hack, which inspired the factions in the game (such as Star Plunder INC rival corporations), but is currently using a modified version of Beyond Dread Portals. Paul Mitchener’s D20 Fantasy game of Multi-dimensional world hopping, which I’m kickstarting April 2nd. Mainly because Paul’s snazzy but straightforward D20 system does all the narrative things that 13th Age does without the pain of an intricate feat system (which as a writer I never get on with).

Writing is flowing like water, and it’s currently in my fun writing project (what I do in my evenings/spare time). Since my excitement for it is growing, I’ve decided to give it a whirl at the upcoming Virtual Grogmeet, which is being run online courtesy of the Grognard Files podcast.

So here’s a first peek via the pitch I sent for the con.


New employees of Star Plunder INC, congratulations on your recent successful employment! Now please move away from the Recruitment Station and board the battle bus. You will now travel from the relative safety of your hometown of Snits Creek (72% chance of living to natural terms) to the thrilling settlement of Tutorial (23% chance of living a full and fun life). That’s a full 42% drop in life expectancy statistics. Can you not already understand how much fun this will be?

Once you reach Tutorial, you will undergo the Employee Orientation Programme (EOP) in this carefully curated settlement and its surrounding Badlands. EOP is full of live ammunition, spontaneous explosions, psychotic muties and robots with annoying (and often) malfunctioning personality chips! Worry not, fearless, valued employee. Should you get shot, you’ve already signed a waiver absolving us of any responsibility. Also, you will be issued company credit to buy weapons and live ammunition to deal with all these threats. EVEN THE ROBOTS! Then find the carefully hidden loot boxes, and bingo! Mission Success!

Successful candidates will then be promoted from Level 0 Indentured Staffer to full Level 1 Freelancer status and be shipped off the world to experience full employment opportunities. Unsuccessful candidates, if not vapourised, will experience a fully paid basic funeral as guaranteed by the employment contract you have just signed.

Have a nice adventure!

Star Plunder INC is a D20 sci-fi dungeoneering roleplaying game I’m developing, set in a debris-filled post-apocalyptic far future. It’s based on the Borderlands series of computer games (with a dash of Fallout and Doom). If that seems confusing, this introductory adventure will gently ease you into the setting and the system. Just turn up with a sense of humour and the ability to roll dice when instructed.

Reboot the Future is done, but not Finished!

So I finalised the pdf of Reboot the Future end of last week. It’s now in the hands of Kickstarter backers and I move forward next week in getting the printed version out (both POD via and a printed version which will be available via a pre-order).

Getting getting over the finish line was extremely exhausting, caused mainly by having a final day of constantly fighting my inner Demons of Nope (“you can’t do this”, “Oh no you might be successful”, “why do get to do this”, “its crap, and when you put it out get ready for being burnt in the reviews/comments” etc). But once I had recovered, and had a bit of fun time basking in the glory (about an evening just paging through the pdf going “its done, my cyberpunk game is finally done!”), I had a bit of a reflection on Reboot’s future.

I’m not done with Reboot as a personal project. I love Cyberpunk as a genre, and more importantly as a RPG genre. But I can’t be doing with some of the clunky somewhat uncool rulesets that are out there. As much as I love Cyberpunk 2020, and I’ll probably get Cyberpunk RED to leaf through, I was done with the underlying system back in the mid-90s. Reboot the Future also hooks into conspiracy theory/ufology that opens up the potential to do quick focused games (and supplements) based on various wacky ideas outside of the usual Cyberpunks vs Corporations stereotype.

I’m going to grow its fanbase. When I did Project Darklight, it was a quick get this out and walkway type of job. Which as a publisher is a very valid way of doing things. Reboot is going to be different. I went into the Kickstarter with a grim determination NOT to offer any of the killer ideas I have for supplements as stretch goals. Well, I think they are killer ideas, but by giving them time to grow and develop outside any stress of getting them done for a Kickstarter that is rescinding in the review mirror and whose pot of money is rapidly dwindling, I will do them to a higher standard. And folk who missed the excitement of the first Kickstarter can discover Reboot on subsequent Kickstarters. Then there are all the ideas I have for micro-supplements, kick easy-to-digest low-cost pdfs, which can then be gathered up as print versions and kickstarted at a later date.

I’m going to open up the game to other writers. Something I’ve been slow on other games, including OpenQuest (believe it or not). So as an initial punt, if you are interested in writing for the game, either your own idea or me giving you a brief, get in touch via

Its a simple and direct Cyberpunk. I’m of the school of thought that RPGs should be easy to pick and play, nicely organised, and not a labyrinth of additional options and subsystems. If you have to ask someone else to interpret it, that’s a hard nope to me bringing it to the table. It comes from my introduction to RPGs as an 80s Teenager, where my first games were Fighting Fantasy (whose main architect at least for the rules system was Steve Jackson who now teaches Games Design theory at University level) and Moldvay Basic/Expert – which is an exceptionally clean and simple iteration of D&D. Paul Mitchener, who I’ve collaborated over the years many times, shares this view, and Liminal at the table is one of the most heart warmingly accessible TTRPGs I’ve had the pleasure to run. So it was a no-brainer to use it as a base for Reboot. So gently getting this across to potential customers, and then seeing other people pick up on this, is going to be something I’ll be promoting.

It’s going to help other games I’m writing. Without getting into the fine detail, all my other games are fantasy. I’ve now opened up a world of sci-fi and contemporary gaming by having the rules for weapons and vehicles (esp vehicle combat) in Reboot. These can be used as a base for other games, the upcoming Blasters and Lasers for example.

Its my sixth game line! When I dropped supporting Glorantha, it left a big hole in my portfolio. Not a devastating one, but one I noticed. Reboot and the things that I’ve got planned for it, can fill that hole 🙂

Convention support. Well, I’ve been playing it at various online and f2f cons, and no one has gotten sick of it yet. But keeping with getting new writers involved, I’ll be encouraging others to run the game.

See you on the streets! So I’m all fired up to do more for Reboot the Future. I’ve finally got the Cyberpunk game of my Dreams!

And with the pre-order for non-backers (opening imminently!) and the shipping of physical books soon, so can you!

Detail from Dan Barker’s cover, and the Kickstarter Banner from just over a year ago.

Fireteam RPG

Jonathan Hicks, author of Those Dark Places published by Osprey Games has released Fireteam a short rules-lite sci-fi RPG. It’s currently at 50% off and is published under the OGL so other publishers can publish content for it.

Here’s what he says from the product page about it.

This is an adventure roleplaying game designed for quick one-shots of high action and fast combat. Players will take on the roles of Specialists in a Fireteam of the Interplanetary Combine, a government body in constant conflict with the universe.

Threats to the Combine come in all shapes and sizes; insurrection, terrorism, and strange, alien threats that the Combine struggle to deal with. On top of all this they are fighting an ongoing war with the Gene League Separatists, a huge collection of worlds that see the Combine as a threat to their ‘freedom’ and individuality, as well as seeing the rest of the non-augmented human race as inferior. They feel they are fighting a war for the purity of their genetically superior species and their independence, and worlds and star systems continually change hands with the borders shifting every few months. It’s becoming more than the Combine can handle.


– Simple character creation and progress, with just a few minutes for a full combat team to get statted and ready, and more than suitable for one-shots and campaigns.

– Fast, easily modded rules that can be used with most science fiction setting, including rules for vehicles and starships; in fact, the character creation and rules are only 8 pages long, so you can get straight into the action in one sitting! 

– A single-page setting to get you started, and five adventures that fill out the galaxy and cover everything from tactical strikes, secret missions and assaults, to starship battles, boarding actions and all-out war!    

– Can be used as ‘Theatre of the Mind’ or on a grid battlemat, so you can use your favourite minis.

– Easily adaptable to your favourite military science fiction setting, with lots of room for new rules, stats and expansion.  

If there’s a problem, and if every other route to a resolution has tried and failed, then it’s time to call a Fireteam.