When starting a new campaign in one of FFG’s Star Wars Roleplaying systems with very diverse characters, I always find myself in a position where it is hard to give all characters a proper motivation for the campaign. An easy way to get them involved is to provide a common homestead, so they immediately share an interest. Since I found the rules for homebases in Edge of the Empire (Edge of the Empire: Far Horizons Sourcebook) a little vague and thin, I decided to compile a more detailed rule set that allows interaction with the base and its NPC inhabitants even if the PCs are not around.
The core ingredient of the ruleset is a new type of NPCs: the inhabitants of the homestead or settlement. These are the ones that drive the story around your base and create memorable experiences. I started my player group with 3 of these NPCs and continue to award them a new one here and there if the story allows. These NPCs are called Settlers and have traits influencing how well they perform different actions. As for all cards I will be showing here, the SWRPG deck cards (FFG Forum Thread) by thedarth2 are serve as a template for the Settler cards.
To the left you can see Flummot, one of the Settlers my players started out with. He is a Toydarian merchant who is able to provide your group with some extra credits. In addition to the common characteristics and skills, you can find three different traits on the card that provide bonusses for several activities. The homestead bonus gives some advantages when the character is assigned to a character slot of a building within the base. The away team bonus helps when going on missions without player characters, which is the core mechanic of the rule set suggested here. Finally, the companion bonus helps the player group when the NPC accompanies them. In the following, these three different options of using the settler are explained in more detail.
The homestead and the people living here have certain needs and require some maintenance to function optimally. To represent this there are a few ressources, the base consumes per tick. A tick can be an arbitrary time interval, here. It can be a day, a week or even a month. I, usually, let my players assign all settlers to a position or mission once a session. Thus, one tick has the duration of whatever time passes during one game session. But let’s come to the ressources:
- Food is maybe the most straight-forwad ressource. Every settler needs one crate of food per tick. If this is not satisfied, remove 2 morale per missing crate of food.
- The maybe second most important ressource is Security. You have to guard your settlement against outside sources of trouble, and maybe even against some inside sources. If you fail to provide 1 security per settler in your homestead. morale will decrease by one per missing security. Additionally, for each missing security, one damage token is added to the damage pool. Once the number of damage tokens reaches 5, the players are in danger to lose a building to riots or external threats.
- Every building needs an amount of Power given on its building card to run. If the amount of power supplied is insufficient, the players have to chose which buildings will stay inactive. An inactive building is treated as if it was not there.
- Last, but not least, everyone should have a bed to stay at. Buildings in your homestead provide shelter from the elements on a planet, or just a more comfortable way to sleep on a space station. If the homestead has less beds than settlers, only a number of settlers equal to the number of beds will be available to do something in the next tick. Choose randomly.
The homestead comprises different buildings and especially slots for the settlers to work at. These will be described below. First we will have a brief look at the Damage and Morale Pools.
If the number of damage tokens in the damage pool exceeds a number of 5, reset it to zero. Choose a random building from your homestead and roll a d10. If the number rolled exceeds the damage threshold of the building, destroy it.
The Morale Pool starts with 10 morale. It cannot be increased above 20 or below 0. For now only missing ressources decrease morale, but in principle also a critical mission failure or something similar could make your players lose morale. To increase morale again you might have to succeed in certain missions or use a building’s character slot. Once The Morale Pool falls below 5 morale, a randomly determined Settler will leave the settlement every tick.
Missions might be the most interesting part of the ruleset provided here. Depending on the number of Settlers in the players’ homestead a certain number of missions is made available. When the story favors some missions over others, they should be made available first. Otherwise, the missions made available are drawn randomly from a deck of missions. When a settler is assigned to a mission, his away team bonuses apply.
The mission cards have two sides: The front shows the name of the mission, a picture, a description, its difficulty, as well as the required skills, items and mission rewards. I also gave my mission cards a number in the bottom left and organize them into groups of repeatable (R) and unique (U) missions. Unique missions often have some reference to the players’ current adventures’.
The back of the mission cards holds the mission itself. Usually it is comprised of 2-3 checks and offers different paths to resolve the mission. To succesfully overcome the mission and earn the rewards, the last check on the mission card has to be successful. The way the mission takes through the scheme sketched out on its back can be decided by the GM or the players.
The texts within the boxes only give a suggestion on what might happen. If you play the same mission every now and then, try to add a little variety in the plot. Some of the rolls give additional advantage once they are successfully overcome. If you fail at a intermediate check, this does not mean that the mission is over, but will upgrade the difficulty of the last check by 1.
If a settler attempts a check, he will be exhausted for the next check attempted by the group. If an exhausted settler attempts a check, he upgrades the difficulty of that check by 1. Thus no settler may attempt two consecutive checks without the second being upgraded due to exhaustion unless a card says otherwise.
Once the players pass the last check on the mission card, they may receive the rewards and the mission was as successful. If the players succeed with a triumph on their last check, their reward should be upgraded in a way the GM sees fit.
All Settlers have an away team bonus that is given to the players if they take the settler with them on a mission. These settlers are not available for Missions or assignments. I usually limit the amount of settlers that can accompany my players by the space available in their ship. You can as well use the Leadership skill of the players or some combined value to issue an upper limit. Additionally, I allow my players to make use of the skills of the Settlers accompanying them. Having a Settler with your PCs on a mission is a less mechanical and more plot driven part of the ruleset.
Last, but not least, the Settlers can be assigned to slots provided by the buildings of the homestead. These, most of the times, generate the ressources needed to keep the homestead running: Food, Security, Power and Beds. The Settlers might also have a homestead bonus that applies when working in one of the homestead slots.
The buildings have three characteristics: Power, Beds and Damage Threshold. The power value determines how much power is necessary to run the building; beds gives the number of beds provided by the building; and the damage threshold is important when resolving the Damage Pool.
The buildings also offer slots for the settlers to work in. The building shown here, for example, has a Shop Clerk slot that demands a certain dice pool from the Settler to be filled. The dice pool is determined as usual and, thus, includes characteristics and skills to determine a Settler’s capabilities. The reward for filling the position during a tick is given in italics.
So this is it, the homestead system I am using during my current campaign of Edge of the Empire. We have Settlers that live in buildings of the homestead. Running the homestead needs some ressources obtained by resolving missions or working in the chracter slots of the buildings. Try to find you balance between a rule-heavy approach and enough story behind it. For our gaming group we managed to create some memorable situations that forge the sorroundings of the PCs and the PCs even got some Credits or Gear out of the homestead system.
You can find the photoshop files of the three new types of cards here to download and adapt for your private use. Please keep in mind that these are adapted from the SWRPG deck cards (FFG Forum Thread) by thedarth2.
- Settler Card
- Mission Card Front (print these on thick paper)
- Mission Card Back (print these on thick paper)
- Building Card
With this I want to leave you to it and thank you for reading my thoughts on Homesteads in FFG’s Star Wars Roleplaying game. I hope you can take something for your own gaming sessions. Feel free to comment on this entry to discuss improvements of this proposal!