Leviathan: Distant Stars

Narrative & Game Designer
Air Dates: September 2017 – August 2018
Wiki Watch Episodes
Distant Stars follows the adventures of the crew of The Bat’leth. Taking place in the somewhat distant future within the Milky Way galaxy, the crew explores a galaxy teeming with complex life and even more complex politics. Species that are allies, competitors for resources, enemies and friends, and still so many parts of the galaxy are unknown and unexplored. A galaxy ripe for adventurers, those seeking their fortune, mystery, and most likely dangers. And darkness at the edges, growing, lurking, waiting. 
Distant Stars is a homebrew of Stars Without Number, a Science Fiction RPG by Sine Nomine Publishing. The homebrew mechanics are designed to facilitate more heroic gameplay with higher-powered characters. Distant stars established rules for a more dramatic and epic style narrative, reducing the simulationist and deadly nature of the base system. This homebrew includes alternate rules for creating characters with additional abilities, and greater survivability, 5 new foci, and rules for partial success. This homebrew was used as part of Leviathan: Distant Stars on Geek Space TV.
- Designed and developed a unique space opera science fiction RPG setting.
- Generated overarching narrative for TTRPG actual play.
- Guided emergent narrative based on player choices.
- GM’d 35 episodes of TTRPG actual play.
- Designed and developed initial concepts and mechanics.
- Wrote the rulebook and accompanying materials.
- Iterated on mechanics during TTRPG live play show.
Challenges and Process
For Leviathan Distant Stars I wanted to generate a unique science fiction setting that provided a robust backdrop for the players to tell an epic narrative. The setting needed to balance the needs of the RPG rules while establishing its own canon that could adapt to player choices. The overarching narrative of the show also needed to allow players to have significant agency, in order to create a collaborative and emerging narrative.
Initial worldbuilding was done to create enough of a sandbox for the players to begin in, building larger political structures, technology, and magic rules and defining some alien races. From there player character choices were incorporated to develop a more complete setting.
The original rules for Stars Without Number are highly lethal and do not support a live play show which works best with narrative-driven stories allowing for character growth. The challenge of Distant Stars was to create a balanced rule set that also encouraged and allowed players to make riskier choices for more heroic narrative-driven stories. The initial process of design was an iterative process during the run of the show, which allowed me to cultivate my learnings by seeing the rules used in play and identifying problems and conflicts with the core rules of SWN. After the run of the show, the rules were refined and codified into the final form.
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