5150 No Limits - Month 1
As a reminder, the Crew of the Tiny Dancer (Pirate: Thrust 3, Firepower 3, Hull 3)
- “Captain” Reza Trenor 654* Smuggler. Crack Shot & Quick Reflexes. 400 SBA / BAP-2.
- “Security Officer” Emma Kyrkos 434 Private Investigator. Stealthy. 200 SBA / SG-3.
- “Co-Pilot” K-2DK (Medium Developed Humanoid Two-legged) 323 Spaceship Crew (Pilot). Logical. 000 AR 1 / P-1.
Month 1 Encounters
5150 No Limits provides a preset sequence of encounters you can run through that serves as both a tutorial and adventure module. I’m not going to use those and instead will use the tools the game provides to generate scenarios procedurally. 5150 No Limits breaks down game time by increments of a month. You will have at least an “Involuntary” and “Voluntary” encounter every month. Otherwise, I think you are free to do as you please within the month but you should probably think about how that might impact the Reputation “currency” in the game. As always with a THW, “your game, your way.”
To begin a month, we need an “Involuntary Encounter.” This is a simple die roll against a table based on where you start - on planet, in space, or moving between locations. Let’s assume we begin “on planet” as that seems most logical:
Involuntary Encounter, 1d6:  - Questioning and Arrest
The scene setup for a Questioning and Arrest Encounter goes:
“The Police have an interest in you and want to bring you in for Questioning. If you’re “clean” there’s nothing to worry about… I think. You’re in the precinct and it’s time to talk”
But I’ll note that THW encourages you to think out-of-the-box… you could just easily use this encounter for being swooped up by the local Crime Lord who wants to know who has been messing around on their turf.
Our objective in this scene is to “answer any questions and avoid any penalties — fines or jail time” so this will play out as a series of social encounters.
Of note, the rules are vague here but I’ve always felt that this line:
“You will be alone if you choose to go with the Police.”
…implies that you can totally choose to treat this encounter as a Confrontation encounter instead, with the objective to get into combat and flee the scene.
Ok, I need to generate the “Rep” of the Officer questioning me:
1d3+2: 3+2 = 5
Name generator: Romasko
It is odd that we are not given a table to generate the reasons for questioning - usually these are more obvious when the story is further along but it would be nice to have in this case. No matter, I can use a table of “Crimes” from an older 5150 game called “Working Grave” which was all about being a police officer in the future.
1d12: 2 “Brandishing a weapon”
Where are we? I’ll use one my custom Planet generator for 5150 which is a mixed of 5150 rules, West End Games Star Wars, and my own tables:
Random Planet: Siliguri is a Populated Class 2 Icy world in Ring 2 with a limited services spaceport. The planet’s primary function is Luxury Goods. It is supported by a Dying star. The law level is 1.
Random Place Name: Yaroslavl City
Reza finds themselves seated at a table inside a drab interrogation room and it is freezing. On the other side of the table is Officer Romasko of the Yaroslavl police.
The officer slides Reza’s ID card into the data slab and after a moment they ask “Mr…Trenor? Reza Trenor?”
Reza flashes a giant but sarcastic smile “That’s me. Look can I ask what this is about? Someone just shoved me into the hovercar… and see here, they bumped my head” Reza obnoxiously leans over and makes a show of pointing to their scalp.
“Someone matching your description was seen at the fish market threatening another individual with a class-B blaster…” Romasko holds up a labeled bag with Reza’s blaster.
(Cut to a flashback sequence of Reza holding out their blaster and chasing someone through a busy open-air market)
“I mean there are many blasters like that.”
“The aftermarket scope on this one is… unique?”
“I use it for sightseeing mostly.” Reza pretends to use a telescope.
Ok, enough “witty” banter how does this scene play out? It is a typical opposed challenge - each side rolls 2d6 equal to or under their Rep. The side passing more succeeds (ties are usually rerolled.)
Reza’s (Rep 5) Interaction test: 2d6<=5: [2, 2] = 2
Romasko’s (Rep 5) Interaction test: 2d6<=5: [6, 3*] = 1
Reza passed more and is allowed to leave
After about 30 minutes of questioning and introspection:
“Sure, sure… no more waving blasters around in public spaces - got it.”
Officer Romasko pats Reza on the shoulders “Good, good. Repeat offenders are not given the benefit of the doubt around here.”
Reza is led out to the lobby where he collects his belongings.
An uneventful encounter but we can add Officer Romasko to our list of known contacts for this world. While you can travel to 1000s of planets in this game and never repeat if you like it makes more sense to keep hitting a few of the same worlds in my experience. We don’t gain any Increasing Rep for this type of Interaction (normally you do) so there’s no bookkeeping to update. Now we need to find some work to pay for the ship & crew. How does Upkeep work? Well the ship’s upkeep (based on the hull size) is 3 Decreasing Rep per month. In addition the Star pays each Grunt crew member one Increasing Rep from their total at the end of each month. If the Star can’t pay, the Grunt leaves, and the Star gets one DRD in bad press. It seems a little fiddly but it is quick enough in practice and it encourages you to keep taking risks (and earning Rep.)
For our voluntary encounter we can pick from a list:
- Contact in Space
- Hauling Cargo
- Hauling Passenger
- Job Offer
Hauling Passenger is fairly lucrative so I think that’s our best bet to cover cost for the month.
Reza’s (Rep 5) Hauling Passengers test: 2d6<=5: [1, 2] = 2 - We may pick up 1d3: 3 passengers and they are headed 1d6:  (Ring 1)
A straight up passenger job with no “contraband” complications. It’ll pay 7 Increasing Rep (2 base pay, 1 per passenger, 1 per ring travelled (including current ring).) Every Hauling Passengers has 1 PEF per ring - a PEF in THW terms is a “Possible Enemy Force” (showing its war-game roots.) These are handled as “Contact in Space” encounters - meaning these will be other starships we encounter who may or may not be friendly.
Just for fun, let’s generate who these passengers are? There’s not really a table for this in 5150 No Limits but we can borrow the “random profession tables” from another 5150 title: Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money. If I want a little more atmosphere to imagine the scene as these folks board the ship I can also throw in the “looks” table from Shaun Tomkin’s Starforged (not yet released but in playtesting:)
- Cyim, Laborer (Joe - Labor) (Imposing and Plain)
- Süle Yüksel, Wait Staff (Joe - Service) (Tattooed and Attractive)
- Minika Ekim, Spaceship Crew (Joe - Labor) (Slight and Wiry)
Finally, I know we are headed to Ring 1 but what planet?
Kammel is a Populated Class 1 Desert world in Ring 1 with a standard spaceport. The planet’s primary function is Administrative/Government. It is supported by a Dying star. The law level is 2.
The interesting thing about a “seat of power” (Admin/Government) in Ring 1 with a “Dying star” suggests to me that people are generally trying to leave this place, not go to it. This is a good time to also establish a “truth” about this galaxy. I don’t really want the usual huge Empire vs. Rebels setup or the “lumbering and massive bureaucracy” trope. I think instead I’ll lean on a cyberpunk trope which is that corporations are the dominant factions in this galaxy. So I’ll turn to my custom corporation name generator to figure out who the big player on Kammel is:
Random corporation: Compass Companionship Global
What happens when you let an escort service become a powerful company that owns and operates a planet? We’ll find out I guess. What happens on Kammel, stays on Kammel… but probably not since it is “dying.”
In Space: Moving from Siliguri in Ring 2 to Kammel in Ring 1
We have 2 PEFs to resolve.
Unlike newer Star Wars movies, I’m going to imagine that hyperspace jumps require putting some distance between yourself and a planet. As such there is some time before you can jump into hyperspace and this is where you might run into a possible enemy when leaving your current Ring.
Leaving Ring 2
(1 ship) - Twilight Treasure, Pirate T3, F3, H3. Captain Emine Koç (Rep 5)
Pirates will generally attack traders. We can also use the “Friend or Foe” check to determine their reaction to us. That procedure has us making opposing dice rolls of 1d6 with a modifier equal to their party sizes. If one number is twice the other than a fight breaks out.
Tiny Dancer - 1d6+1: 2+1 = 3
Pirates - 1d6+1: +1 = 6
Man the guns because we are going to have a dogfight. This is cool because the Fire Table was recently modified and I haven’t had a chance to try it yet.
(Alarms blaring) “Which one of our passengers has a death wish?” yells Reza as they flick on the ship’s shields and targeting systems. “There’s a better than 50% chance the target us, Captain.” says K-2DK. A blast rocks the ship and Reza pulls the controls up to try and get into position to return fire.
The Twilight Treasure has the advantage going into the Dogfight table. Rather than testing against Rep we will be rolling equal to or under our “Thrust” now. The Tiny Dancer has a Thrust of 3 but Reza’s “quick reflexes” adds one to that. The pirates will add a +1 bonus to their for their initiative bonus.
Reza’s dogfight roll 2d6<=4: [4*, 6] = 1
Pirate’s dogfight roll 2d6<=4: [5, 2*] = 1
Neither ship has gained control so we move to the “Continue On” table. This is like a morale test if you are familiar with the concept. It is taken against the captain’s Rep.
Reza 2d6<=5: [4, 5] = 2
Pirates 2d6<=5: [4, 5] = 2
We cycle back into the dogfight table now, but looking for advantage. (By the way, if this starts feel like a lot of cycling around tables - it is and there is a subsystem in one of the newer 5150 books for resolving a space battle in a single roll.)
Reza’s initiative: 1d6+5: +5 = 9
Pirate’s initiative: 1d6+5: 2+5 = 7
Now Reza has the upper hand and their “quick reflexes” attribute might make the difference here:
Reza’s dogfight roll 2d6<=5: [4, 1] = 2: Pirate’s dogfight roll 2d6<=3: [4, 5] = 0:
The Tiny Dancer twirls and pulls up and back around now clearly on the Twilight Treasure’s tail. Reza fires several blast from the ship’s cannons (Reza is also a “crack shot” so they get a bonus here as well:)
Reza’s (Firepower+bonus) roll: 2d6<=4: [3, 4] = 2
Passed 2 D6 so now we the quality of the damage: 2d6: [6, 4]
Both damage rolls are +3 - so they cause hull damage to the Twilight Treasure who’s hull is now reduced to 1 point. This serves as negative modifier to the Pirate’s Rep on the morale test:
Reza 2d6<=5: [2*, 6] = 1
Pirates 2d6<=3: [4, 4] = 0
Passing 0 means the Pirates will try to make a “run for it.”
The pirates lose this test and move to surrender:
Pirate’s will test against Reza’s Rep: 2d6<=5: [6, 6] = 0
A result of 0 on this table implies that we can seize their cargo.
“Sir, Captain Emine Koç of the Twilight Treasure is hailing us.” notes K-2DK.
“Put them on…” says Reza as he leans back in his flight chair.
(Static crackles as an aged voice is heard) “Well done, the battle is yours. I offer a deal - you can take our cargo (1d3: 2 units) if we may keep our ship.”
“Deal. Jettison your cargo and hold while we inspect.” says Reza.
A pair of crates appear on the Tiny Dancer’s targeting screen and the tractor beam pulls them in.
“Emma, are the crates secured… what do we got?” asks Reza over the comms system.
“Looks like we got some basic textiles and some common unrefined ores here. Nothing fancy but easily sold at our next stop.” notes Emma.
“Sir, it is possible they have not jettisoned their entire cargo hold.” reminds K-2DK.
“Yeah sure, but do you want to go over there and get messy? Let’s call this a win.” notes Reza. Punching the ship-to-ship comms button Reza announces “Captain Koç we’ve got the cargo. We’re call it even as we agreed. Do you require any medical assistance?”
“No and we should be able to limp back for repairs. Your restraint is appreciated.”
“Happy hunting Twilight” says Reza as he closes the ship-to-ship comms and opens the general announcement channel “Ahh… folks this is your captain speaking. We’ve had a minor dust-up but all is clear you may unstrap yourself and freely move about the galley.” Reza turns to K-2DK “Calculate our hyperspace jump to Kammel and let’s get on our way.”
Arriving Ring 1
Fortunate Promise, Pirate T3, F3, H3. Captain Ismail Mansoor (Rep 4).
Friend or Foe test:
“Friends” or at least “not hungry.” Maybe the Tiny Dancer’s exploits in Ring 2 have proceeded them.
And that’s that. We’ll deliver the cargo & passengers to Kammel and trigger an Involuntary Encounter (using the “moving to another area” rules.)
Involuntary Encounter: Robbery
Probably the crew of Twlight has put out a notice that we have their cargo and there’s a reward out for retrieving it. So much for honor amongst thieves.
Day part: 1d6: 2 Daytime (this is important as it determines “cover” conditions)
Let’s generate the assailants:
- Aiguo Huang 554 Thief (Criminal Element), SBA / P-1
- Henry Turner 434 Thief (Criminal Element), SBA / P-1
Ok, so we now to do what’s effectively a “morale” test for each member of the PC’s party vs. Aiguo Huang’s (the Robbery Leader) own Rep test. I envision that only Reza and Emma are delivering the cargo, with K-2 back at the ship.
Aiguo Huang - 2d6<=5: [5, 5] = 2
Reza - 2d6<=5: [1, 2] = 2
Emma - 2d6<=4: [4, 4] = 2
Everyone passed two which means, that since Reza & Emma are Armed they will resist - the Robbers have an advantage as we enter combat. Now the two leaders will resolve an Action test to determine which side will activate first:
Aiguo Huang action test 2d6<=5: [6, 6] = 0
Reza’s action test 2d6<=5: [6, 4*] = 1
Reza’s side can activate first, having passed more d6. Reza and Emma are both “shoot first, punch later” types so they’ll elect to target Huang who is probably out front. Since we’re are doing this during the day - the “figures” do not necessarily start “in cover” as they would at night. That said, Huang’s side has Advantage and will start in cover.
Reza’s “crack shot” attribute will come into play here. Reza can fire twice with his BAP-2 and Emma gets “3” shots against the same target.
Reza’s shooting test: 3d6<=5: [2, 1, 4*] = 3
Being a “crack shot” Reza shoots first and succeeds. Huang is wearing “soft body armor” which counts as a penalty in this game (the shooting damage is weighted more towards armored soldiers from the original 5150 games like “Star Army”)
As both of these are lower than Huang’s rep - they do not deal damage but they cause Huang to “duck back” - Huang is cover but also must spend a turn to “pop up into sight” and then waiting for another round of activation before shooting (can still “return fire” though.)
Emma’s shooting test: 2d6<=4: [4, 3] = 2
Emma also succeeds and will roll 3 damage tests:
Shot 1: 1d6+1: +1 = 6
We can stop here because Huang is now “Obviously Dead.”
Now before we switch sides, we do the “will to fight” test - again another form of a morale check:
Henry Turner: 2d6<=4: [1, 4] = 2
Reza 2d6<=5: [2, 4] = 2
Both sides passed 2 but Henry’s side has “50%” of the side “out of the fight” or “obviously dead” - so instead this counts as passing just 1 die. Henry will run.
“Yeah, that’s right! You get.” and Reza turns to Emma and gives an affirming nod “Nice shooting.”
We earn +1 Increasing Rep here for the murder of Huang. Dark.
Having delivered the stolen cargo (+2), the passengers (+7) and done some killin’ (+1) we earn 10 Increasing Rep. Now to cover expenses.
- Reza pays 3 Increasing Rep for the ship (based on our Hull rating.)
- Reza pays Emma 1 Increasing Rep for her service. The robot earns diddly.
Reza can roll 4 (from the jobs) of these to try and improve and Emma gets 2 (from the Robbery and wages.) So now we roll these dice to see if anyone improves. For Reza any die of 6 would allow him to improve, Emma only needs one 5.
Reza 4d6>=6: [1, 6*, 1, 3] = 1
Emma: 2d6>=6: [3, 1] = 0
Reza’s Rep goes up to 6 - this doesn’t change much as good it sounds. A lot of test don’t allow 6s to pass. It does help with recruiting and maintain the current crew (if a crew member obtains a higher rep - they leave the crew presumably to start their own operation.)
So that’s how a few encounters play out in 5150. From here on out, I won’t be explaining and detailing all these rules. It takes too long! All of this stuff (character creation and the first month’s turn) could’ve been played out in about 30 minutes but it has taken a couple hours to write up all the details. Hope you are enjoying it.