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Porting Stars Without Number


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Has anyone thought much, or even done some work on, porting BRP rules into Stars Without Number? I know with Rivers of Heaven in the relatively near pipeline, this might be re-inventing the wheel, but there are a lot of really keen things in SWN, that if it could be done with a better system then basic DnD, might make a quite awesome game even better.

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Off the top of my head, it largely depends on how you want to respond to SWN's basic assumption of niche protection. SWN's core system assumes a fundamental division of abilities between warriors, experts, and psychics, and while there's some skill overlap if PCs push their skill points that way, their special class abilities are forever out of reach of the others. My assumption is that if you prefer BRP, you probably want to jettison this niche protection. I haven't used BRP in a long time, myself, but here's a vague impression of how it might work.

Character Creation

Roll BRP characteristics as normal. Each PC then chooses a background package and training package from the SWN core book. The SWN skills are then translated into their nearest BRP equivalents- "Combat/Projectile" would be Firearms, for example, while "Stealth" would be both Hide and Stealth. They then spend their skill points. If a given skill does not appear on either their background or training lists, their maximum is 25%. If it appears on one, the maximum is 50%, and if it appears on both, the maximum is 75%.

Each PC then picks one special ability- Veteran's Luck, Like a Charm, or the ability to gain psychic abilities.

Character generation then proceeds as normal for non-psychics. Psychics then choose either one SWN psychic discipline, if they have only one instance of "Combat/Psitech" or "Tech/Psitech" on their skill lists, or two disciplines if those skills both appear, or appear twice. They gain the level 1 psychic power for their chosen disciplines at POW x2 proficiency for each.


Triggering psionics costs power points equal to one-third of the power's level, rounded up. Level 1-3 powers thus cost 1 PP, 4-6 cost 2, and 7-9 cost 3. Psychics can permanently burn CON or POW points to fuel psionics if they run out of power points. A given psychic power can be permanently mastered by sacrificing POW equal to the activation cost; mastered powers no longer require PP to trigger.

Psychics can only unlock new levels of their discipline by gaining competence in earlier ones, usually under situations of extreme stress. When an experience check for a power would boost the power's associated skill to above 50%, the player may instead choose to unlock the next level of the discipline, gaining the next ability at POW x2. This experience check must be one gained through use of the power in a stressful, dangerous situation. Ordinary training will not unlock the powers of the mind.

Powers operate as per the SWN rulebook. Where a Mental Effect saving throw is required, a normal Resistance test of POW vs POW is made. Psychics always use their maximum original POW for resistance tests, even if they've sacrificed points for mastery or to fuel their abilities. For the few psionic powers that directly inflict multiple dice of damage or absorb a hit point buffer, just scale it to BRP's assumption of non-increasing HP.


SWN goes on a 2d6 bell-curve system, with the assumption that a TN of 8 is the lowest difficulty that's likely to be worth rolling for. Where the source SWN text gives a skill check difficulty, turn it into a normal skill check. Apply the following penalties to the check per the original 2d6 TN: Diff 8 is -0%, Diff 9 is -15%, Diff 10 is -30%, Diff 11 is -45%, and Diff 12 is -60%. Those mods put the likely results very vaguely in the same ballpark between a SWN character with +1 on the roll and a BRP character with 50% in the skill.

The above are just a first cut at ideas, but they might be useful for conversion.

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Thanks very much for the response. This definitely gives food for thought, and a very solid place to start. I think that between Stars Without Number itself, the BRP book, and Openquest, this is very doable.

The goal would be, I think, to set up rules that allow BRP to work with SWN's game concepts in such a way that each new SWN product that comes out requires a minimum of work to convert particulars. A lot of the SWN rules, like the world creation, factions, the starship, vehicle, and now mech creation rules, should be able to be used pretty much as written, since they don't interconnect tightly with character statistics and abilities. Those areas where they do connect, though, will probably need a good looking at, and some interpretation, in the conversion documents.

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I have looked at it, and as a reference, its gold. But one thing I want to hold onto, insofar as using BRP/Openquest core character and combat rules will allow, is the simplicity of Stars Without Number. I played all the games the RQ document was drawn from, and enjoyed each, but these days I'm looking for a simpler route to a good time. Which might beg the question of why monkey around with porting in a d100 basis to SWN at all, but I truly do prefer my tried and true BRP-based mechanic, these days, and have really preferred it for the last 30ish years.

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