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Dark Frontiers - A twist on the old TSR game Star Fronties

Introduction     Why change the classic Star Frontiers?
History     An alternate history of the Star Frontiers universe
World     A tourist's guide to White Light and beyond
Missions     Get those players a job
Player     What the well connected actor needs to know
Storyteller     Read only if you plan on running the campaign
Boardgame     Cardboard simulation of the virtual city

Why change Star Frontiers?

Star Frontiers has always had a special place in my gaming heart. It came out while I was in grade school and ended up being one of the favorite systems that my group played throughout high school. In particular it wasn’t the setting so much as the solid design of the combat system that drew us into to it. When the Knight Hawks expansion released maybe a year later its well crafted space combat system had us locked into adventuring across the frontier for years.

The setting however wasn’t particularly to our liking. Back in 1985 the sci-fi culture was undergoing a strange transformation. The pristine clean cities and citizens of Star Trek with its optimism that science would overcome every modern woe were being overshadowed by a new form of sci-fi where man took his ugliness, hatred and irrationality with him into the future. Movies like Blade Runner, Alien, and the graphic comic magazine Heavy Metal Illustrated filled our heads with a darker much more grim future. William Gibson’s Neuromancer and pretty much anything by Bruce Sterling or Asimov filled in the literary blanks. Our infatuation with punk music also set a tone that was hard to marry to the optimistic traditional sci-fi setting of Star Frontiers. And so like true gamers do to any system they play we tinkered making it uniquely our own.

The unified racial front of the UPF was the first to fall victim to changes. We grew up in era where we were told that the world wouldn’t last past the millennium if it somehow survived Reagan’s itchy trigger button finger. It was inconceivable that mankind could ever form a unified collective when we didn’t see unity on a global, national, state, or even city stage. And so the benevolent Kingdom of Clarion morphed into just one of many nation states vying to dominate and influence other nations. The alien races followed suit creating a world with political intrigue spanned not just nations but across a galaxy of races that barely tolerated each other but were forced to live too close for comfort.

It also bothered some of us deeply that all the alien races had technology too similar. The races even if closely packed together a mere handful of light-years apart would still advance at different rates. The Sathar being the oldest race should sweep in with weapons of near magical proportions dominating and destroying the younger species with the same ease as the US Army in the American wild west.

In this environment the Sathar weren’t exactly required. Who needs bug eyed monsters when the likes of Roy Batty and Carter Burke are out to do you in? The Sathar took a back seat to the petty squabbling of four races out to ensure theirs got the largest slice of pie in the universe. Considering also that there was an entire frontier to explore the need for a big bad on a universal scale dwindled to the point that our gaming group simply pushed them entirely out of the picture. Our universe was radically different from the one presented in the pages of the official rulebooks. And as the changes kept coming we continued ignoring them further.

And so as an attempt to compile a worldbook of my own I present our vision of what Star Frontier had been. A dark dangerous myopic place. A place where humanity had split into two camps, the forces of monarchy and democracy waging a bitter ideological war that stretched to the stars. Where crooks and hoodlums ran the frontier towns looking to stuff their pockets more than find out what lay out there only waiting to be discovered. And where alien races grudgingly tolerated humans only because of their ability to make wars sting. Where conspiracy abounded as the powers that be struggled in ways unfathomable to the player pawns. This was our universe, a group of misfits standing on the edge of a dark frontier...

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The alternate history of the universe

The current state of affairs in Dark Frontiers is vastly different from the cheerful situation presented in the original Star Frontiers. The four races have not unified against the Sathar who in this universe do not exist. Instead they squabble not only with each other but with members of their own species. Humanity is a collection of nation states that have split into two major factions. The Vrusks and Vazarians are no better, their worlds are also split by competing hives, nations and clans. The races have carefully begun staking out their colony worlds and guard them jealously. To understand how this universe was shaped one need understand the history of the human race.

A Brief History of Dark Frontiers (click links for a deeper overview)
-1500 pf Ancient Age Pre-history dating back before writing. Loraina (now Port Loren) is founded and becomes a center of commerce in the ancient world. Late in this age The House Clarion of the White Light is founded.
0 wl Middle Age The year zero marks the founding of the Kingdom of Clarion. This period covers the medieval, discovery, and exploration ages. Clarion expands greatly during this era becoming a dominant world power by the Industrial Age.
1200 wl Industrial Age Impressed with a steam engine demonstration House Clarion modernizes all of its industries leading to a financial and industrial explosion.
1274 wl Modern Age Clarion and long standing enemy nation XXX go to war dragging 70% of the world’s nations into the conflict. Although Clarion would be victorious the ally nation Freyon falls to revolutionaries preaching the radical idea of democracy. A long standing Cold War style conflict shapes the world as monarchy and democry face off against each other.
1350 wl Frontier Age The Vrusk appear suddenly in the Home system with an armada of warships. After several Human-Vrusk wars Humans emerge victorious, reverse engineer faster than light drives, and expand out into the universe. Yazarians and Dralasites are discovered soon after and exploited for resources.
1472 wl The Present  

pf - Abbreviation for Pre-Foundation. Years prior to the foundation of the Kingdom of Clarion are counted backwards from the year 0.

wl - Abbreviation for The Kingdom of House Clarion of the White Light, or simply White Light. The foundation of the Kingdom of Clarion is base of the human dating system.

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A tourist's guide to White Light and beyond


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Getting those players a job


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What the well connected actor needs to know


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Read only if you plan on running this campaign


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