The Stellar Beacon is a quarterly zine that supports the sci-fi RPG Return to the Stars with new adventures and also explores the gamer and geek culture more broadly.
Summer ’19 issue is available now! It includes:
Fanfiction: The Infinite Free Buffet 2019 Hugo nominee Alexandra Rowland celebrates fanfiction, explores its significance, and schools those who shallowly dismiss it.
Framing the Future: the uses of Optimism
Optimism is having a moment, But, beyond escapism, what can optimistic speculative fiction accomplish? Mark Sabalauskas, designer of Return to the Stars, delves into one of the game’s core themes, looking at optimism through a variety of lens: escapism, prototypes. representation, utopias and hopepunk.
“Utopias use ambitious world building to get to the root of some truth about society. They imagine a better world to explore what could be fundamentally different about our own. Utopias, then, differ in tone but have a similar purpose to serious dystopian works like The Handmaid’s Tale. Utopian and dystopian traditions, at their best, are partners tidally locked – circling, facing, and influencing each other.”
The Undying Elite A scenario for Return to the Stars that examines what the corrupt are willing to do hold on to power, and the price others are willing to pay to resist.
“Conspiracy theorists propose that Jackson utilized psychotropic drugs and subliminal signals to rally his group of fanatically loyal followers and take control of the colony, but that’s just an excuse to justify the way people blindly accepted Jackson’s steady dismantling of the safeguards and protocols that would prevent a single individual from ruling in perpetuity.”
Richard Bellingham is the author of the RPG The Secret of Cats, and creative director of The Fate Horror Toolkit.
Yes, And… Gaming! Learn how techniques from theatre can help players and gamemasters enjoy a more constructive, team-orientated form of roleplaying.
“When players treat your RPG as a theatrical endeavor, it can become so much more than playing a game – it becomes a living story. Encourage your players to make decisions from a place of character motivation, not in terms of the best way to beat the system and win.”
Melissa Carubia is a music director, composer, and actor making art and music in the Boston area. Melissa teaches improv and has written several musicals including the critically acclaimed “T: An MBTA Musical” which premiered at ImprovBoston and later was performed at the American Repertory Theater’s OBERON.
Pop Culture Parade
A collection of entertainment themed sci-fi sandbox story prompts for Return to the Stars!
“Throngs of screaming fans follow teen heartthrob Canna Vax, but only those who have her name encoded into their mitochondrial RNA can attend her concerts.”
The inaugural issue of the Stellar Beacon featured:
One Atom of Justice, One Molecule of Mercy, and the Empire of Unsheathed Knives an original essay by novelist Alexandra Rowland, exploring a new science fiction sub-genre: Hopepunk.
Aphrodite on Deck
A solarpunk-themed scenario for Return to the Stars by designer Brie Sheldon
Emmett O’Brian brings us a “hard sci-fi” adventure where players explore a mysterious megastructure.
Beginning Gamemaster Pep Talk
Comics writer and illustrator Amy King provides encouragement for new game masters from a new game master.
The Stars, My Sandbox
Non-linear story prompts and encounters for Return to the Stars.
If you are interested in writing for the Stellar Beacon, we’re accepting pitches and submissions.