Space Combat: Technology you can understand

Jun 25, 2019

In science fiction stories, what can sensors detect and what can they not detect?

In most cases, the answer is simple: Whatever the plot wants them to detect. Detect individual lifeforms? Detect a person's breathing? No problem! Except when it is a problem. In long-running series, it is not uncommon to see the capabilities of fantastic technology fluctuate wildly to fit whatever the story needed for that moment.

How can a character rely on and use a tool that they do not know what it does, or how it does what it does? Maze Rats is built on thinking up creative solutions to problems. The farther you move away from real life or well-established settings the harder that is to do.

To address that issue, Star Rats’ current technology level is set to roughly twenty minutes in the future. Aliens and robots wander crowded streets, starships are almost common, but the technology in wide use is not that different from what we see around us now. Instead of using sensors, starships use radar. Instead of tractor beams, harpoon cannons.

Space Combat: Everybody is invited!

Jun 17, 2019

Space combat is a difficult thing to get right. For one thing, how do you make space combat fun for characters who are not pilots and not designed for space combat?

First, let’s lower the bar for entry. In Star Rats, there is only one path that deals directly with space travel. Void jockey. A character with void jockey is skilled at piloting AND repairing starships, but anyone can attempt it. Added to this, the attack bonus used to wield a blade, or a pistol is the same used to fire a starship’s weapons. This way almost anyone can jump into the gunner’s seat. What if you do not have a free gunner seat available? Simple, put on a space suit and grab your laser pistol. It won’t do as much damage as a starship weapon, but just like peppering a car engine with a shotgun, you ARE going to do damage.

What about characters who really don’t care for space battles? They don’t want to be a pilot, they don’t want to fix stuff, or shoot ships. All they wanna do is crack skulls. That is okay. Boarding enemy ships is almost ridiculously easy.

But if all else fails, make it quick.

Space combat is easy to get wrong and I am not so arrogant to think I have a foolproof solution, so if all this fails, starships have low hull ratings so at least space combat should be over quick.

The Rat's Nest

Jun 11, 2019

Today is an exciting day! Today we open the new Star Rat's Discord! Come join us and have fun. If you have questions about Star Rats I am available and might have answers. Click the link above or the logo to the right to join.

WizardThiefFighter gains over 400 patreons!

Jun 8, 2019


The amazing, all around awesome person and talented writer-artist extraordinaire Luka Rejec has hit a well-deserved milestone today, reaching over 400 patreons. Let's keep good things happening for him and keep good things happening to yourself by signing up on his patreon here! I think he says it best when he describes his approach as "Concept heavy, rules-light, full metal."

His recently Kickstarted Ultraviolet Grasslands is a spectacular looking RPG that I can't wait to receive my copy of. Described as a science fantasy Marco Polo-style voyage across a weird, old world and often compared to being a science fantasy Oregon Trail in book form. Go sign up for his patreon now to see more and make sure you don't miss out!

Fungus Fun

Jun 2, 2019

As a big fan of everything fungus, I am looking forward to Alex Clements and Shuyi Zhang's Fungi of the Far Realms on Kickstarter right now. Meant as a tabletop role-playing game supplement and illustrated encyclopedia filled with fictional mushrooms. Along with the added bonus that it is written in a way that it can serve as an in-game handout to players. As far as I am concerned, fungi will always be science fantasy to me. Look at them, they are the closest thing we have to aliens here on planet Earth. Except for maybe the deep ones found at the bottom of oceans, but we don't talk about them...

The Kickstarter has been well over 100% funded and has 9 days to go. Go there now and make your pledge!

Robot Goblin's review of the Mutants of Ixx is spot on

May 27, 2019

Robot Goblin put up a review of Karl Stjernberg's Mutants of Ixx that is worth a read.

To sum it up Robotic Goblin said:
Stjernberg's post-apocalyptic game fits on two sheets of paper.
Is it worth $2 USD? F*ck yes.


I bought it in a heartbeat and am looking forward to playing. In fact, whenever I see Karl Stjernberg's name and the words "new" and "for sale" I am already reaching for my wallet. If you like post-apocalyptic games start reaching for your credit card now.

Perfecting Monsters

May 25, 2019


Star Rats is a modern science fantasy RPG, but with a crazy gonzo spirit. As I developed the monsters I kept asking myself, "Would this fit on a pulpy science fiction cover?" If the answer was yes, I knew I was on the right track. If not, then it was time to scrap the monster and start over. I scrapped a lot of monsters to get to this current list, but it has been worth it.

Changes are underway

May 17, 2019

As you may have noticed a lot of changes are going on and things look pretty crazy. Please bear with me. As Star Rats The Science Fantasy Hack gets closer to its final version I felt it was time to update the site and make it look nice... but first, I'm gonna make it look real messy!

SFH Patch Notes v. 0.3

Aug 1, 2018

Patch Notes!
  • Added a note at the beginning "This is not a comprehensive setting, but a jumping off point: it gives you the basics, then allows you to add to the universe, tailoring it as you wish."
  • Species changes: Renamed crawling vine heap to crawling bramble, renamed humanoid energy to electric humanoid in an attempt to describe the species more clearly. Added minotaur, neanderthal, snake folk, snake folk cyborg, wandering monster. Replacing many of the repetitive cyborg mutant entries.
  • Created a separate table for cyborg and mutant, but in the end, scrapped it since it created a need for an entire formatting change to work that never looked quite right and during gameplay I liked the ability to create different NPC population ratios with the old system that didn't work with the new system. The added benefit of adding ten new species to the already now 37 possible species (not counting cyborgs or mutants) felt like it was not a big enough bonus to keep, so I reverted back to the previous system.
  • Starting items: Added Bottle of chloroform, credits (fake, 20) (moved from misc items and made a static number to cut down on rolling when creating new characters; same with credits entry), flares (6), loaded dice (moved from misc items), space suit, truth serum (placebo).
  • Combat gear: Reduced armor back down by 1 point to bring it in line with Maze Rats again to make it easier for Maze Rats characters to enter this setting.
  • Added guideline for vendors buying used items for 25% of value and known stolen or illegal items at 10% value. Added Antlered jackrabbit, trained miniature goat. Added establish a small colony and partial ringworld for those players with very lofty ambitions. Various price changes.
  • Misc items: Changed anti-mutant tract to anti-cyborg to reflect more the underpinning tension between machines and organics, added brain slug propaganda, broken manacles, broken robot parts, coupon for 50% off Tool, upped credit amount rolled, datajack VR game, government poster, made musical instrument more specific, illicit pleasure cube, illicit stimpack, jar of metallic glue, preapocalyptic memo, small heater pad.
  • Weapons: Added disintegrator gun, added a +2 damage to the rocket launcher, changed whip to plasma whip.
  • Reduced XP loss possible from cloning from 10 to 5.
  • Cyborg: Removed 4 augment limit, figured if someone wanted to play inspector gadget, who am I to stop them! Added brain transfer plug, electro-stun fingertip, internal chiller, internal heater, renamed internal battery to living battery, pheromone mimicry, quick speed reading, robot centaur legs.
  • Mutations: Clarified that there were multiple ways to gain mutations after character creation. Added antlers, distrust became mistrust to more accurately reflect what it does, crustacean, insectoid and tentacle arms became limbs to give the players the option of having a leg transform instead of just arms, metal skin allergy was removed and replaced with metallic, parasitic entity (Spiderman beware!), prehensile tail, and my personal favorite addition... ram horns!
  • Vehicles and starships: Added damage to ramming plow, datajack VR system: comes with the "swords & museums" game (I'm not married to the game, but it's what is there until I think of a better one), Breaching ram-drill: Successful piloting roll versus target’s armor breaches the ship and allows access between ships until disconnected (I wanted boarding actions to be relatively easy to help alleviate the problem of PCs on board ships with nothing to do during space combat).
  • Quirks: Added buggy alarms, cabin always too cold, cabin always too hot, famous reputation, foul stench, infamous reputation instead of bad (three amigos flashback), roll 2 more quirks, secret upgrade found (I am such a nice guy!).
  • Had to shorten the random encounters intro, I went with: "Roll on the appropriate table. Optional: roll twice and combine the results."
  • Overworld: Added beast befriends a PC (I want more interesting results that are not just kill it, or talk with it, I really like this entry since it is different), bounty hunters (it was criminal that I did not include them originally), dead bodies, moved diseased travellers to overworld since I felt it made more sense, drunken revelers, flying starship, frogman tribe, irradiated glowcloud, lost traveler, monster nest, tar pits, vehicle gains a quirk (it's possible PCs may not have a vehicle, but I trust the GMs will be smart enough to reroll or just have nothing happen), wandering madman.
  • Underground: Added cryostasis pods, escaped experiment, group of miners, metal-eating spores (maybe I am not such a nice guy after all), pools of radiation, prisoners were moved underground, treasure vault door, unarmed enemy staff, vein of precious ore.
  • Space: Added creature on the hull, renamed ship inspection to customs inspection to clarify, leviathan boneyard, stealthed starship, swallower of worlds instead of cosmic horror, uncharted planetoid.
  • Had to remove the Thank You section, which I really didn't want to do, but in the end I decided to do it in order to add a wandering monster table.
  • Added a new table for wandering monsters. Populated with some new monsters and others moved from the random encounters. The monsters are: colossal worm, cyborg jellyfish in mechs, giant alien spiders, large flying leaches, mudmen, radioactive ooze beast, rogue nanite swarm, shadow beasts, 6-legged 2-headed wolves, swarm of giant grubs, teleporting crystal-crabs, towering giant.
  • Swapped the order of character and vehicle sheets to make more logical sense. Also made some inane, fiddly changes to the vehicle sheets.

Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells

Jul 29, 2018



Artwork by Diogo Nogueira for the Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells RPG

I've recently discovered the RPG Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells. From android priests spreading the message of the God Machine to a cyborg cemetery populated by scavengers and mutants, this game has a metric ton of creative ideas in it that will keep players happily busy for decades. The game is still under development, with artwork being added that perfectly compliments the crazy creativity of the game. It is shaping up to be an excellent addition to my RPG bookshelf.

Mattac Commision

Jul 19, 2018


I grew up playing the WEG Star Wars roleplaying games. Though I played many characters over the years, my favorite was always Mattac. A merc who specialized in stealth and being places he wasn't suposed to be. When he would invariably be found out (I had a history of poor dice rolls) he would quickly switch to Plan B: BLOW EVERYTHING UP! Using his twin cybernetic grenade launchers and his over the shoulder rocket launcher, lovingly nicknamed "The Door Maker."

This beautiful commision was created by Nekkyo Usagi.
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