Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Five or So Questions on Spaceships and Starwyrms

Hey all, today I have an interview with Benjamin Quiggins (he/him) and Audrey Stolze (she/her), the creators of Spaceships and Starwyrms (Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook). Spaceships and Starwyrms is a Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition supplement "that brings science fiction to the gaming table in a system that is familiar to many seasoned players and very accessible to new players. The supplement is nearly 400 pages long, with new species, classes, backgrounds, equipment, and combat rules, including rules for spaceship combat and travel." It seemed different and cool, so I asked a few questions - here's what Benjamin and Audrey had to say!

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The cover of Spaceships and Starwyrms with the title in white mod font and a spaceship flying next to a craggy, monstrous figure that looks to be a dragon.
Tell me a little about Spaceships and Starwyrms. What excites you about it?

Spaceships and Starwyrms is a sci-fi tabletop system built off the core tenets and philosophy of 5th edition. It’s an accessible d20 based system for people who enjoy the style of 5e but want to explore beyond fantasy into the realm of science fiction. The Core Sourcebook, which releases on December 11 on drivethrurpg, has the new combat rules, species, classes, equipment and everything else you need to jump right into a space adventure.

We’re excited to share the system and its setting with the gaming community. Neither of us have ever published something of this magnitude before, and it’s been a great learning experience. In particular, we’re really proud of all the work we put into creating unique spaceships and combat rules for spaceships. Plus, the setting (the Nacora Galaxy) really took on a life of its own during the creation process. It’s awesome to be able to put something out there that we’ve really poured our hearts and souls into. S&S is going to bring a lot of new opportunities and subtle changes to the d20 system everyone knows and loves, and we hope it has a broad appeal.


What made you decide to do a d20 system, and what have you added to it, including the combat rules?

We were aware that there are a lot of sci fi systems out there, and lots of them use special dice or unique systems. We wanted Spaceships and Starwyrms to be as accessible as possible, which is what informed our decision to create it as a 5e supplement. Our gaming table has been using 5e for a long time and Ben has been making homebrew for that system for a while. It only seemed logical to keep building on that system. Anyone who knows how to play 5e can play S&S without having to learn too many new rules.

The main rules changes involve cover and a new action, the Hack action. In addition, there is a whole chapter on spaceship combat that should be a new experience for every table.

A bug person in a pretty blue and gold robe, using a digital tablet, and somewhat resembling a grasshopper.

How did you come up with Nacora Galaxy setting, and what makes it exciting or unusual (or both!)?

When we first started working on this supplement, we were trying to keep the setting pretty generic. But as we made the species and started filling out the flavor of their homeworlds and cultures, we discovered we had a pretty strong foundation for an intriguing setting. We leaned into it 100%, creating planets, governments, religions, travel systems, and tons of other unique content for the setting.

One of the things we’re most excited about is the adaptability of the Nacora setting. We blended fantasy and sci-fi together to leave room for a slew of different genres of play. This came into play a lot in our spaceship-building section. We have options to create your traditional, tech-based spaceship, spaceships that run on magic, or a mix of both!

Plus, with a galaxy this big, there’s a lot of creative freedom for GMs and players to adapt to their preferences. In particular, we tried to turn some sci-fi tropes on their head to give the galaxy a vivid, fresh atmosphere. One of the best examples of this are the Ix, a playable species of humanoid insects. We wanted to counter the stereotypical monstrous attributes and attitudes given to bug species. The Ix of Nacora are a people who believe in community, friendship, and peace. They are inventors of the universal translator used across the Nacora and founders of the Galactic Coalition for galactic peace.

What is spaceship combat like, and how does it integrate with the 5e framework?

Spaceship combat uses the same timing and initiative system as normal combat, (i.e. each round is six seconds) which allows for simultaneous space and land combats mixed together. We find this really adds to the narrative for simultaneous fights while still keeping the pace moving. Combat feels different depending on situation and the size of the crew on the ship, as there’s different actions that can be taken on a spaceship. Using ability checks and attack rolls, your party can fire weapon systems at the enemy, pilot across the field with trick maneuvers, hack another ship, repair damage to their ship, and even boost the engine power. And those are just some of the highlights. There are also special rules for spaceship (and vehicle) chases.
a person with tusks and long hair wearing a red jacket and brown shirt and pants, with a metal forearm that ends in a glowing, bloodied sword
What kind of research and exploration are you doing to build up to cultures, homeworlds, and species in the Nacora setting?

With each of our species, we tried to consider the environment and evolution of the species first and foremost. That process involved a lot of research of biology. For example, we consulted with a botanist for one of our plant species, and we read articles about the effects of living without sunlight for another. Ultimately, we didn’t let the research hold us back too much - this is still a realm of fiction, after all.

As far as the cultures go, we tried to avoid direct parallels between our aliens and past and current cultures on Earth. We’re only human, however, which means that each species inevitably has some bits of our human experiences and knowledge in their cultures, no matter how much we tried to avoid that. The big exceptions to that rule are the Kygorans, who live in an extremely capitalist society, and the two cultures of Humanity in the setting, which both take aspects of real world humanity.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of science fiction for us is asking the big questions about how a species advances to the point of being a galactic power. We spent a lot of time asking ourselves about their belief systems and motives, their governments and economy, and what day-to-day life on their planets might be like. The Nacora Galaxy is a melting pot filled with pockets of deep cultural roots as well as areas where those cultures overlap and blend. Finding a way to have a variety of cultural experiences was very important to us.

The Core Sourcebook contains all the base information you need for planets, species, and cultures, but it does have a pretty broad focus on the history and cultural identities of the galaxy. We are already discussing plans for splat books that will dig into the individual cultures on a deeper basis.
A person with two separate flippers for legs and the look of coral growing out of their head, with spiny fins on their arms. They are wearing a powersuit that has gun gauntlets.

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Thanks so much to Audrey and Benjamin! I hope you enjoyed the interview and that you'll check out Spaceships and Starwyrms, releasing today! Find more at their Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, or email directly with any questions at spaceshipsandstarwyrms@gmail.com!



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