So a friend of mine really wants to play STAR FRONTIERS and we’ve been talking about it for several years. I finally threw caution to the wind and prepared a game for us to play when we have an opportunity!

I wanted to shoot for a “Quick Start” feel for the game since few of the folks who would be playing have actually played the game. I decided to use the mini-module adventure from the Referee’s Screen called “Assault on Starship Omicron.”

The mini-module is an interesting story about a ghost ship that the Pan Galactic Corporation (PGC) wants back. The story as written has a group of adventurers “babysitting” the ship as it sails back to a PGC spacedock.

I’ve decided that the adventure I’m going to run takes place after the story presented in the mini-module. Starship Omicron is attacked during it’s return voyage and is lost … again. Several years later, the Omicron shows up on PGC radar again and they send in a “crack team” of operatives to take control of the ship and return it to PGC ownership.

I decided to generate several characters that would be ready for use but with one caveat: They are all Human! I know, I know … half the fun of Star Frontiers is tat you can play wacky alien races like the Blobs or Flying Monkey Men. But for now while I’m running a one-shot game it’s just easier for me as a Gamemaster to make everyone Human.

The next thing I decided to do was create a map that could be used for the players to track where everyone is during the story. Most of our games of Dungeons & Dragons run with between 5-8 players. So in an unfamiliar game where it is likely that the players will decide to ave the characters split into teams to cover more ground, a usable map just made sense to me. Besides, Star Frontiers is one of those games that was half boardgame and half role-playing game. The early sets came with maps and a hundred like cardboard chits. So it’s not a big leap.


I printed out the map of the Upper Deck of Starship Omicron and used yellow push pins to secure it to a small cork board. I then colored in the Secret Doors in black to make them into just normal doors. Next I colored doors on the left hand side of the map orange, the ones in the middle green, and those on the right side blue. This is a plot device that comes into play as a puzzle during the story. Lastly, I marked every “planned encounter” within the story and marked the spot on the map with a red push pin. I coded each one with a letter to correspond with my notes. I figure that this will move things along for the players allowing them to see exactly where they can move their characters to trigger an event. And yeah, you probably figured out that I have some other encounters and events that will trigger in unmarked areas to like a corroded chuck of floor giving way (trap) or a hallway full of poison gas locked away behind an air locked door.

Starship Omicron Map

The last thing I did with the map was to number ten white push pins to represent the playing characters. They can easily track where their characters are at within the ship as long as they remember which number pin corresponds with their character.

Lastly, I doubled-dipped by using little army men. When I first thought about running a game of Star Frontiers, I happened to find a bucket of army men at Wal*Mart for about $15 called “The Corps! Elite” It came with 120 pieces including of men, terrain, and vehicles. These army figures would have two purposes: (1) Miniatures for large combat situations within the game and (2) an easy way for players to choose the pre-made characters.

So I took a black sharpie and wrote a name on the bottom of the base of each army figure. When I made the characters I purposely used wacky alien-like names that didn’t sound male or female. Pronouns suck these days, right? So for example I made ten characters each resembling the weapon being used by the little army soldier. In order to choose their character for the game all they would need to do is choose a figure that looked cool to them and – tada! – they have their character for the one-shot.

The whole process of preparation took about four or five hours but that was okay with me. Honestly folks, having something fun to focus on helps me with the intense mental health issues I’m having right now. So this was therapeutic for me at the time.

I’m looking forward to playing “Starship Omicron” with my friends. I’ll report back here with all the wacky nonsense that take place while we play. Until then true believes, keep rollin’ sixes!




After communicating via radio messages for years, these four starfaring races meet in a region of space called the Frontier Sector. This vast region, 1,500 cubic light-years, contains 38 star systems. Only 17 of these systems have been explored and colonized when the game starts. Free enterprise is the law of the Frontier, and corporations compete with each other and local governments to control the most profitable areas and to open routes to unexplored systems. Player characters are placed in this unexplored territory. They can work as corporate or government agents, or can strike out on their own as free-lance adventurers.

Despite their apparent differences, the four races share one thing: a common enemy that came upon them some time ago. Without warning, a fleet of warships attacked Frontier outposts and isolated colonies, destroying whatever they found wherever they went, fighting to the death or destroying themselves to avoid being captured. Only after several battles was it learned that the marauders were the Sathar, an evil race of worm-like aliens from outside the frontier.

In the face of this onslaught, the four races formed a loose military alliance to protect their colonies: the United Planetary Federation. The second wave of Sather attacks was met by UPF warships. The invaders were slowly beaten back, system by system, until they withdrew completely, leaving no clues that would lead the victors back to their home world.

Defeated in space, the Sather turned to terrorism. Humans, Dralasites, Vrusk, and Yazirians were recruited to sabotage frontier bases and destroy the morale of the colonists. These deadly agents now lurk on almost every known planet, carrying out their master’s orders and undermining the efforts of local authorities to build up their worlds.


In the LAND OF NOD, East of EDEN, is a small region named SEVEN TOWNS. South of SEVEN TOWNS lies the DARK WOOD. It is a malignant place where the PLANE OF SHADOW seeps in and poisons all that is good and right.

These Goblins use the same statistics in games of Dungeons & Dragons as those listed in the 5th edition Monster Manual. However, when these creatures are encountered the DM can use the chart below to determine what the individual Goblins look like due to their mutations.

% Roll Deformity
01-03 Slits for Eyes
04-07 Albino Skin
08-10 Cone Shaped Head
11-13 Way Too Skinny
14-15 Short Legs, Big Bod
16-17 Goat Horns
18-20 Bulging Eyes
21-23 Pimples and Boils
24-26 Beak For Nose
27-29 Brightly Colored Skin
30-32 Very Large Ears
33-35 Shark-like Maw Mouth
36-37 Arms Drag on Ground
38-41 Enormously Obese
42-44 Scorpion Tail
45 -47 Big Red Eyes
48-51 Eyestalks
52-54 Feathers For Body Hair
56-58 Drooling Acid
59-60 Prehensile Tail
61-62 Four Legs
63-66 Smells Really Bad
67-68 Flesh Flakes Off
69-70 Two Heads
71-72 Gaping Mouth
73-75 Big Head
76-78 Hunchbacked
79-80 Missing Limb
81 -82 Long Tongue
83-84 Tentacles
85-87 Head Like A Fish
88-90 No Body
91-93 Wings
94-97 Really Long Fingers
98-99 Hairy
100 Roll Twice


In Dungeons & Dragons, many encounters will happen in places like tombs, cemeteries, ruins, and other places where the Dungeon Master can add interesting runes and symbols.



The GRIMDARK system is my attempt to create “gritty” rules for #DnD 5th edition that emulates dark fantasy and horror. Essentially there are changes to how AC, Hit Points, Damage, Critical Hits, and Healing function within your game of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons.

Critical hits are more frightening in GRIMDARK. Page 106 of the 5th edition Player’s Handbook discusses the standard rules for Critical Hits. However, in GRIMDARK things transpire a little differently.


Yes, because in GRIMDARK the monsters already have enough advantages in that their stats are calculated normally as per the 5th edition Dungeon & Dragons rules. The monsters will have a higher Armor Class, more Hit Points, and all that jazz. They don’t need critical hits. Sorry, DM, that thrill of rolling a “20” is now reserved for your players. So don’t be a turd! Celebrate with them when they roll a Critical Hit. Give them high fives, shout with joy, or do whatever it is that you are your friends do when that “20” shows up.

So, when a “20” is rolled on an Attack roll, the hit is automatically a Critical Hit. A Critical Hit always deals more damage, even more so in GRIMDARK, called “Critical Damage.” When you score a Critical Hit, you roll extra dice for the attack damage against the target. Roll all of the attack’s damage dice twice and add them together and DOUBLE it. Then add any relevant modifiers as normal.

For example, Shimmershine scores a Critical Hit with his dagger.  Normally the dagger would inflict 1d4 damage so a Critical Hit scores as 2d4 instead. Rolling 2d4, Shimmershine’s player gets a result of “5”. The “5” is doubled to 10. Since Shimmershine has a STR modifier of +1, the “10” becomes an “11.” The Critical Hit with the dagger inflicts a total of “11” Critical Damage points. 

Although we won’t get too far into it right now, it’s important to separate Critical Damage from normal damage. Why? Because in GRIMDARK a character cannot use Recovery Time to heal Critical Damage. This sort of damage has specific rules for healing and recovery. More on that is discussed in the Recovery section of the Grimdark document.

But HOLD ON, we’re not done yet. Getting a Critical Hit is a BIG DEAL in the GRIMDARK system so it is given a spotlight. The fun continues with a second roll after the total Critical Damage, in this case, “11” is determined. This second roll is not an actual attack, but instead referred to as a “check.” Roll normally as if making an attack and if the roll comes up as a “20” again, this is referred to as a “CRITICAL CRITICAL.”  Yeah, it’s silly. But say it often enough and it’s fun. Shout it and it’s even more fun. “Critical Critical!” GO ahead, try shouting it now. You know you want to. 

TIME SAVER TIP: If you’re a DM like me, you want to consolidate time as much as possible. You can always do the check right away after the Critical Hit is rolled. Simply have the player make the check right away while the adrenaline is pumping and the players at the table are celebrating the Critical Hit already. 

Anyway, when a “Critical Critical” happens, it’s a REALLY BIG DEAL. When a player pulls off rolling two “20’s” in a row, that’s amazing. In such a situation,  the enemy suffers SYSTEM SHOCK. Refer to page 273 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide for the chart used with determining the effects of SYSTEM SHOCK. 

Now that’s pretty awesome, but “Critical Criticals” don’t happen all the time. That’s why there’s more to it than just that. So your player scores a Critical Hit applies the damage, and checks for a Critical Critical.  In any case, the playing character gets to make a new Attack Action as a result of rolling so well. Yes, this is a whole new Action, not just an attack. So if the PC gets three attacks an Action, it’s party time as he or she gets three more swings at the bad guy.

So that means Shimmershine (a fighter who has two attacks for each Attack action) makes another two attacks. If another Critical Hit is scored, the process is repeated until either the target is defeated or no more Critical Hits are scored.

So that’s Critical Hits work in the GRIMDARK system. The idea here is to make Critical Hits even more exciting for the players and combat even more dangerous against the monsters who already have a bit of more of an edge on the PCs. Remember D&D is all about having fun, so loosen up and let the dice fly. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the GRIMDARK system, please check it out at the DM’s Guild:  — you can download the bare bones sneak peek document for $1.00 right now. 




The cosmos teems with a multitude of worlds as well as myriad alternate dimensions of reality, called the planes of existence. It encompasses every world where GMs run their Adventures, all within the relatively mundane realm of the Material Plane.

The Inner Planes are elemental embodiments, the raw stuff
from which the rest of the rest of the multiverse is awesomely made.
Each Inner Plane is made up mainly of a single type
of energy that overwhelms all others. The natives
of a particular Inner Plane are made of the same energy or
element as the plane itself. The six Inner Planes are the
Elemental Plane of Air, the Elemental Plane of Earth, the
Elemental Plane of Fire, the Elemental Plane of Water, the
Negative Energy Plane, and the Positive Energy Plane.

These planes surround and enfold the Prime plane. At their innermost edges, where they are closest to the Material Plane (in a conceptual if not a literal geographical sense), the four Elemental Planes resemble a world in the Material Plane. The four elements mingle together as they do in the Material Plane, forming land, sea, and sky. Farther from the Material Plane, though, the Elemental Planes are both alien and hostile. Here, the elements exist in their purest form—great expanses of solid earth, blazing fire, crystal–clear water, and unsullied air. These regions are little–known, so when discussing the Plane of Fire, for example, a speaker usually means just the border region. At the farthest extents of the Inner Planes, the pure elements dissolve and bleed together into an unending tumult of clashing energies and colliding substance, the Elemental Chaos.