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.”