Stellar Beacon weekly digest


[Dateline: Petram]  Vatican officials condemned the practice of making statues out of genetically engineered human exoskeletons, “The human body is made in God’s image, and this type of cosplay is an affront to the creator” noted the papal spokesbot.

[Dateline: New Lucknow] A damaged merchant vessel arrived with a cargo of cloning tanks, the crew reporting an attack by Galtian raiders. In political news, the Commissioner announced prototype testing origami engine stating: “We will play our part in ending the Great Silence.” Opposition leaders asked if it wise to spend limited resources on origami technology. Public outrage increases on social media.

[Dateline: Newcastle upon Eridanus] Eta Carinae selected to be as base planet for a gravitational observatory to look inside of Andromeda galaxy.

[Dateline: Shunyuan] The New Lucknow ambassador delivered a formal protest of Shunyuan’s control over the Flintarn belt saying “Stellar Opals always fuel conflicts. History is witness to it”

<Pop Culture Parade> Zero-point yoga literally twisting advocates and detractors out of shape. See what it could do for you and to you.


Character example: Belladonna Rose Esther Dahlia Ferncider

Belladonna Rose Esther Dahlia Ferncider (her friends call her Donna) grew up in a “traditionalist” agricultural commune. Well, traditionalist except that everyone had been genetically engineered to look like gnomes, halflings and dwarves of fantasy fiction. She is 3 feet tall with chibi-eyes, dagger ears, and hair like a fuzzy black lamb. She hated her rural life,and feels the space exploration will feed her wanderlust and take her far far away from the farm.

She’s a space pilot who breaks all the rules, fond of trick maneuvers in combat. Because of her appearance she sometimes has a hard time being taken seriously. She compensates by wearing nearly constantly wearing a flight jacket with emblazoned with patches from all the missions and expeditions she’s been on. She’s living the adventures she’s always wanted, so she typically has a broad smile and is happy and well liked, by humans and AIs alike.


  • High concept: pilot who breaks all the rules
  • Trouble: “Who needs backup?”
  • Aspect: need for speed
  • Aspect: button masher
  • Aspect: “What can I say, the AI likes me?”


  • +4 Piloting
  • +3 Acrobatics, Scan
  • +2 Blast, Intrusion, Making
  • +1 Cosplay, Might, Empathy, Networking


  • Trick Maneuver: when you succeed in evading damage using piloting, you opponent takes one stress, or two if you succeed with style.
  • Pecking, Ordered: In an unfamiliar social setting, you can immediately understand the power structures involved.
  • DPS: you can choose to at +2 to your melee attacks at the cost of you opponents inflicting +2 damage if they succeed in hitting you.


Character example: Gamal Bolívar Elnecash

Gamil Bolivar, starship engineer, is often seen carrying with a big wrench that he uses both to fix things and also to protect the weak.

He’s rather athletic, both enjoying the great outdoors and as the captain of a zero gravity water polo team.

He’s a shameless flirt, and seems to have a girl in every spaceport.


  • High concept: Starship Engineer with
    a Big Wrench
  • Trouble: “I protect the weak.”
  • Aspect: “Wait, I have another idea…”
  • Aspect: zero-gravity water polo champion
  • Aspect: a girl in every starport


  • +4 Making
  • +3 Survival, Combat Arts
  • +2 Blast, Acrobatics, Scan
  • +1 Cosplay, Might, Intrusion, Science (Physics)


  • The Great Outdoors once per session, you may reduce a moderate consequence to a minor one, by luxuriating in the great outdoors.
  • Not OSHA Compliant +2 to attacks you make in fights that take place in engineering related settings: workshops, factories, etc. Create an aspect to note the dangerous element of the setting giving you this edge.
  • Training montage once per session you can prepare for you next combat, gaining +1 to all melee skill checks in that scene


Character example: Leslie Lachance

Leslie Lachance is a shape shifting gender fluid first contact specialist (current pronoun: he)  A historian of old earth and famous cosplay champion, he uses both these skill sets to help the team interact with the new societies they discover. Charismatic, he is, perhaps a bit too popular and ambitious.


  • High Concept: shape shifting first contact specialist
  • Trouble: too popular for my own good
  • historian specializing in pre-stellar Earth
  • ambitious and hardworking
  • famous cosplay champion


  • +4 Cosplay
  • +3 Networking, Scholarship
  • +2 Empathy, Acrobatics, Combat Arts
  • +1 Intrusion, Scan, Making, Blast


  • Mission Control +1 to all attempts to create advantages for other players when you aren’t present but can communicate.
  • Suspension of Disbelief Once per session, you can take +2 to any roll where a character you are cosplaying would have an advantage.
  • Research Montage you can use your Scholarship skill to quickly accomplish tasks that would normally require extensive investigation or research, even when a library or archive is not available.  You must explain how you came to research this topic in the past

Leslie Wanders

Character example: Tanya Parks, PhD

Tanya Parks is straight shooting science officer and a polymath, who the team can rely on in investigations in many different fields from astrophysics to forensic pathology. She’s also skilled with heavy plasma weapons: her motto: “Science advances one funeral at a time.”  It is true that she can be easily distracted by shiny objects and scientific anomalies.


  • High Concept: straight shooting science officer
  • Trouble: Oh, shiney!
  • Science Advances One Funeral at a Time
  • Mistakes Lead to Success
  • My Destiny is in the Stars!


  • +4 Science
  • +3 Blast, Acrobatics
  • +2 Cosplay, Networking, Empathy
  • +1 Making, Scan, Survival, Piloting


  • Polymath: your science skills applies to all realm of science
  • That’s Funny: once per session you can succeed at any Scan roll, create an aspect to describe the scientific anomaly that drew your attention
  • Plasma Weapons are Messy: After you successfully shoot a target, they gain the aspect “on fire”


The Cosplay Skill

Return to Stars cosplay

Cosplay is your character’s aptitude for self-presentation using costuming, genetic modification, posture and movement. Thanks to centuries of refinement, it is considered a fine art in the Convention Authority.

Because Cosplay involves granular genetic control of your body it is a skill you can use to recover from physical consequences.

For cosplay competitions, the player defines the level of the challenge, which represents the impressiveness of the costume and performance they desire to create. They need to overcome this difficulty, or they fail to captures the judge’s attention.

You can perform Cosplay to create distractions in combat, thanks to your knowledge of stage fighting.

Sample Cosplay Stunts

  • Dress for Success you understand the power of FASHION!  With appropriate garb once per session you can use Cosplay in place of the Networking skill.
  • Suspension of Disbelief Once per session, you can take +3 to any roll where a character you are cosplaying would have an advantage.




Hopepunk: Optimistic SF Gaming

Return to Stars optomistic indie rpg

In dark times games can fill us with joy and hope.

Return to the Stars is a narrative tabletop role playing game designed to make it easy to tell stories of exploration and adventure in an optimistic space opera setting. It is a game where you can paint a better future in bold primary colors.

There is a surplus of dystopian science fiction games and media.  Putting aside fiction, simply watching the new provides stories of  political conspiracies, mega-corporations, and fascist mobs.

We need to face hard truths  but we also need stores that show how humanity can be better in the future.  That enlightenment values, reason, cosmopolitanism, diversity, and humanism are a path forward.   As NPR pop culture critic Linda Holmes said of the movie Arrival: “There is great faith in these stories that the more we know, the more we grasp, and the more we turn around and communicate to others, the better off we are — and the better we are, too.”

The genre is Return to the Stars is hopepunk. It is a game where you can paint a better future in bold primary colors.

To quote Sun Ra:

“In some far off place
Many light years in space
I’ll wait for you.

Where human feet have never trod,
Where human eyes have never seen.
I’ll build a world of abstract dreams
And wait for you.”


The Dank Lords of Gulch

Prior to the great silence, Gulch was a paradise planet created to cater to every whim of an ironically named “collective” of merchants who were based there. When the Great Silence came, they certainly proved incapable of collective action, and their pleasure planet was reduced to a desolate wasteland in struggles for dominance and control.  Petty warlords led nasty, brutal and short lives preying on each other.

Unfortunately, they hadn’t quite managed to kill each other off before galactic travel was restored. Starships of the original merchants were fitted out for raiding, and a scourge of pirates set out to prey on an unprepared galaxy.

Galtian Trooper