Vrusk Pistolero

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by Bill Logan and Andrew Modro

Thanks to your natural speed and dexterity, you can do things with pistols that many can only dream. Not just deadly, you fight with a style and grace that have begun to make a real name for you throughout the Frontier.

This article is my response to those people who feel the need to have game mechanics spelled out for every little thing in a game. There was a time when games were made with minimal rules – where having a special ability or a detailed story for your character wasn’t codified with rules; it was defined by imagination. Sure, during this time men wore mullets and women wore tunic shirts with wide belts, but the idea that imagination is the fuel of good gaming has been lost in the myriad assortment of gaming supplements and handbooks. Someone once told me Star Frontiers was limited because every character eventually looked alike (due to limited skill list and simplistic approach to character generation). In defiance to this claim, I give you archetypes in every issue, each one having at least three concepts to play, showing that it’s not the rules that make characters playable and unique, it’s how they’re played. This issue, I felt like exploring one simple concept in more depth and so I give you...
Vrusk Pistolero
Special Abilities: Ambidexterity

Note: when using two pistols, he’ll have a -10 on both but no “off-hand” penalty. Comprehension 15%


(Military PSA)

Projectile Weapons 1

Either Beam Weapons 1 or Gyrojet Weapons 1

Equipment: Two Automatic Pistols



It’s the third time today you’ve had to deal with Smith’s goons. You’ve had a bad day - Ever since you put the word on the street that Smith’s already a dead Yazirian... he just doesn’t know it yet.

Your lower thorax takes schrapnel from the chunks of wall you dive behind, as the three goons sent to kill you unleash a rain of bullets at you. They’re not very accurate, but with the sheer quantity of bullets they’re spitting, they’re very dangerous.

You check your pistols – one in each hand – and close your eyes, waiting for your moment. Just as the first clickityclickity of an empty rifle bulletclip reaches your ears, your body is already springing into motion.

You leap into the air, over the low wall that has been your shelter in the hail of bullets. Your body twists like only a Vrusk’s can, spinning you around as you squeeze your triggers in a careful aim, sweeping death in two arcs. The goons, taken by surprise, stare in astonishment as you cut them down.

You land on top of the wall, balanced like you belong there, your arms sweeping down, pointing your two smoking guns down and away; they won’t be needed anymore.

You raise your eyes slowly to watch the result of your handywork: three human thugs drop simultaneously to their knees, then flop forward – dead before their bodies make contact with the pavement. You smile as you see the skimmer they arrived in: directly behind them, door open, still running... and not a single bullet mark.

The day is looking up and Smith’s hours are numbered.

Concept. He killed the woman you love, and shot your hand, ruining your musical career. You vowed vengeance, and have began your training. Fuelled by an amazing coordination and a strong sense of purpose, you accomplish what others simply can’t – or won’t. You don’t care much for your own life: you’ve already committed it to your task.

Mixing your death wish with your existing flair for the dramatic (from your musical stage career), you pull off moves that make people stare wide-mouthed in surprised awe. In your own mind, when you walk down the hall towards your foe, you walk in slow motion with dramatic music punctuating your statement. You know you’re cool. Your enemy knows you’re cool. He just doesn’t know how dead he is yet.

On the occasion that you have the time to reflect on the morality of what you’ve done, and what you’ve become, you sulk and ponder and try your hardest to play your candrolin (a complex Vrusk stringed instrument). In appropriate irony, your damaged hand is only capable of creating sad music, which in turn makes you think of her... or rather your lack of her...turning your sad self-reflection into a re-determination to carry out your plan.

Referees are encouraged to let the character pull off his coolness for the most part. In the rare situation where he’s outclassed, he should act in desperation and suddenly get really serious about his tactics and actions.

Also, the one who committed this atrocity against the character needs to be a recurring villain, or else the character will lose the focus that fuels his purpose. Alternatively, if he finally kills his enemy, you can have him find out that his foe was working under orders from someone higher-up, someone harder to get to...someone equally worthy of his wrath. This character concept exists out of purpose towards an end; if that end is given, a new purpose must be provided or the character’s story gets diminished.

Development. Focus solely on the skills of destruction for this character. He has no need at this point in his life for anything else. He plans on accomplishing his mission or dying trying.

The best way to spend your earned experience points is to dump them into your weapon skill of choice. When your weapon skill gets to be around 3rd level, it becomes more cost effective to raise your Dexterity score. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of Martial Arts as well... sometimes you’ll be out of ammunition or caught with your guns put away.

Part of your mystique is your dramatic flair and impressive moves. For this reason, consider increasing your Leadership (for those intimidation or inspiration rolls) and your Reaction Speed (to pull off those freakish acts of celerity).

Equipment. Get guns. Lots of guns. Pistols, rifles, grenades, anything you’ll need on your mission. Since you don’t care whether you live or die, and you’ve become convinced that your actions are justified, you don’t care much for the morality of theft. You’ll take what you need to accomplish your task.

You’ll also want to get some protection, but nothing that will keep you from being agile and quick. You’re militant in your actions, but you care too much about style to buy a military skeinsuit. You’ll spend the extra credits on a civilian version, just so you’ll look good.

You’ll need vehicles, but you probably won’t pay for them yourself. You’ll get them from the enemies who fail to keep you from your task. Unfortunately, most of your vehicles end up exploding in one way or another.

Goals. Put your dead wife’s soul to rest, and make her proud doing it. If you can’t impress a crowd with your music, you’ll impress them with your moves. Make your enemy sorry for ever messing with you or yours.


You take another swig of your T’Lak’Tis and wipe your chin, slamming your shot glass on the bar. It’s the second you’ve had... and already you feel the effects. You finally feel calmer, more relaxed.

You have a nervous disorder that makes your hands shake. The sweet hard nectar of T’Lak’Tis makes the hyper tension go away, and calms your nerves. So what if it’s addictive. So what that people think you’re an alcoholic. It’s medicinal... isn’t it?

As you look at your reflection in the mirror behind the robotic bar tender, you see a yazirian come up behind you with a smirk. You stare him in the eyes in the reflection, searching his motives.

“I hear you’re fast,” is all he says.

You push the glass to the end of the bar, in silent signal that you’d like another. “I take my drinking seriously, friend. It’s not a good day to die. Have a drink on me, or walk away,” you say quietly.

A few folks around you must have heard, as they inch away, leaving their stools vacant. By the look in his eyes and the sound of velcro being pulled off a gun holster strap, you know he’s not going to take you up on the drink. Fine. It may be a bad day to die, but it’s a pretty good day to kill.

You nod in the mirror. He catches the nod. You stand up, dropping credits on the bar, with an extra few for the owner, and the two of you head outside.

“You sure you want to do this, friend?” you ask as the doors part automatically and you are struck with the thick smell of the jungle planet on which the cantina stands.

“All my life,” he admits.

Once you are in position, you unstrap your two holsters. They are specially made for you to allow a cross-reached draw you’ve come to be known for. The shiny handles (also custom) made from the bones of a quickdeath gleam in the twin suns. You squint at your opponent, located only ten yards away, holding your hands over your guns. They shake slightly. You need another drink.

Time drags on for a few long seconds... your senses expand like they always do mere moments from slinging. An avian makes a lone cry in the sky, and you can almost hear the nervous heartbeats of the onlookers huddled around the bar’s windows jockeying for a good view. Not a bead of sweat runs down your face.

Then you see the yazirian reach. You reach. He doesn’t panic like most do, but his speed isn’t matched by skill. His gyrojet fires before your pistol, but your bullet flies true while his goes wide. He takes the bullet in the shoulder and you both duck behind cover.

The game is on.

Concept. You were born with a nervous disorder, but alcohol helps calm it. Your hands shake when sober, which makes you spend a bit of time in cantinas and taverns. Your nervous disorder also makes you fast. Very fast. Electrical signals just move quicker to your muscles, which react faster and more efficiently than those without the disorder.

A few years back you were called out on a duel because of some insult you accidentally leveled at some honor-bound slinger of minor renown. He underestimated you, and you dropped him before his guns reached their holsters. Word spread, and now people come to you, trying to make a name for themselves. It has landed you in quite a bit of trouble, but has also been helpful in getting odd jobs as bodyguard or enforcer.

Development. Increase Reaction Speed as soon as possible. Even getting one more point will give you another plus to your Initiative Modifier. Increase your gun skill too... shooting quick and shooting true are two very different things, both equally effective.

Sometimes you won’t have time for a duel. Sometimes it’ll just be an annoyance, or someone far too young will issue a challenge and you don’t want to kill him. Maybe you don’t even like the dueling. Having a higher Personality score may help in this regard.

Consider also developing your Comprehension score. You can read a lot in a man’s eyes, and through the way he carries himself.

Equipment. Slinging builds legends, and you have to look the part. Since sometimes your life hangs in the balance, decided on the speed of your draw, you pay top credits for customized equipment. Whether it’s for the quality or the style, it’s worth paying for to spread your legend.

Goals. This concept doesn’t include a specified goal. Stay alive... build your legend... and find a way to turn it all into profit. You may be motivated by fame, fortune, or neither, but making a name for yourself that will live on through the ages does sound good to you.

Fated Mercenary

You shake your head and close your eyes, trying to get them out of your mind. Ever since your captivity, they’ve been there. Voices in a language you can’t understand and never will. Your memories flood back to you – to the day it all happened...

Your unit was rising over a ridge, after the scouts declared it free. Your Vrusks were dropping off one by one due to the sinkholes on this desert world, and you hadn’t seen the Sathar you’d been sent to track yet. You were beginning to wonder if intel had the location of their crashed ship correct.

Then you saw it... a slug of a being with evil eyes and two sturdy pod-like legs. It held a weapon but didn’t aim it. You were pretty sure it was smiling. Hidden Sathar agents sprung up all around your unit, all twenty men being suddenly caught by hurled technology similar to tangler grenades. Caught by surprise, you were all in trouble.

You don’t know what all was done to you. All you know is that you were dragged to their lab in their ship and poked and prodded without mercy. Eventually, they brought in their leader with the missing arm and he stared his hollow frightful eyes into yours... into your mind... into your very soul. That was the first time you heard their voices.

Since that day you’ve worried about your sanity. You occasionally find yourself doing something you didn’t intend to do, all the result of the hypnotic commands put into your head. You were discharged from the service even though they couldn’t find anything technically wrong with you. Your wife couldn’t handle your mood swings and inability to control your anger. Your child is afraid of you. Your life has fallen apart and it’s all their fault.

You’re a soldier. It’s all you know. You now live your life selling your guns to the highest bidder. Along the way, you’re unraveling the pieces of your memory that are barred from you. You hate the Sathar, and some day you’ll find the one that did this to you, and the next time he looks into your soul he’ll find hatred so powerful that it will make him fear.

Concept. You were taken by Sathar and used as one of their pawns. Their hypnosis is now well worn off, but the terror of it all still haunts you and has become a focus of your life. You take on any mercenary job that brings you close to Sathar... to get some payback. Along the way you want to piece back together the hole in your mind. There was a year of your life where you have no memory. What happened to the rest of your unit? Why did everyone look at you funny when you came conscious? What did you do and where were you? And why do you still hear those accursed voices?

Development. Players of this concept of the Vrusk Pistolero should spend his earned experience on developing his weapon skills in order to survive the next encounter that will bring him face-to-face with the Sathar. He should work on building his LOG score also, to have a better chance at resisting the hypnotic effect of looking into the eyes of the slugmen. He could also consider picking up Psycho-social skill, to learn the effects of hypnosis and have a better chance at discovering the secrets of what was done to him.

It may also be helpful to rebuild contacts lost during the discharge from the Vrusk military on his homeworld. They might be able to shed some light on the dark recesses of his past.

Equipment. You’re a soldier (or at least you were), so you should look the role. A military skeinsuit, a combat helmet, and some grenades will help you sell your services as a mercenary. Never underestimate the helpfulness of an inertia or albedo screen either.

It may also be helpful for you to pick up some basic survival gear. If your missions ever take you too close to Sathar, stealth and planning may be important, and using your environment to the best effect could be helpful.

Goals. Face your darkest fear by facing the Frontier’s most powerful foe: the Sathar. Get back the memories that the dread slugs took from your brain. Maybe rip that Sathar’s other arm off and see if that makes the voices in your head stop!

Edges and Flaws

If you’re using the optional Edge & Flaw system provided at the back of the Alpha Dawn remastered book, here are a couple ideas:

Quick-Draw: Your character has developed an amazing ability to draw his weapons and fire them all in the same turn. Normally, character can do this but have a penalty of -3 to their Initiative roll for that turn. If you invoke this edge, your character will receive a bonus of +3 instead, though you can only fire once (not use the full rate of fire for that weapon). Your Referee may decide that you need to specify a certain weapon type and size for this effect: auto pistol, laser pistol, etc.

Slow-motion Moment: Your character can calm his heart down and still use his adrenaline to full effect. Invoking this edge makes the world go in slow motion all around you. In game terms, you get a bonus of +25 to the next action roll you attempt. Referees may wish to limit use of this seemingly powerful edge to combat only.

Paired Pistol Expert: As long as you have an identical type and size of weapon in each hand, you can invoke this advantage. It allows you to fire both weapons without penalty for that turn only. Since you’re already ambidextrous, this edge only eliminates the normal -10 penalty you’d otherwise have received when firing two weapons. The penalty is eliminated for all shots you fire in that turn.

Legendary Figure: Your reputation proceeds you. When in any type of social interaction, you can invoke this edge and force someone to have heard of you and your moves. You can of course work this to your own advantage... make him afraid, impressed, or whatever suits your need. This edge won’t make the NPC under your control, but it might change his opinion of you. You can use it to gain a contact or get some financial assistance. Referees should make sure to allow this edge to actually function... yes, it gives some direction of the storyline to the player but that’s what some edges are for.

Single-Minded Focus: Your character is so focused on some task or quest that he foregoes all other forms of activity. His dedication, though perhaps admirable, can cause problems in his life. Perhaps his family and friends become less able to deal with his obsession. Or maybe it has caused financial stress because of work-related problems. Focusing on one task to the point where eating and bathing become a secondary consideration can have many social impacts. The Referee may invoke this flaw to cause story-related drawbacks to your character.

The Shakes: Your character’s hands shake. This may be a result of combat shock or nervous system damage or even a birth defect or disorder of some type. You should name a specific activity or medicine that helps you, but acquiring the medicine should either be difficult, expensive, or just carry with it negative effects (addictive, drunkenness, etc.). The Referee can invoke this flaw whenever he wants to make your hand-shakes cause a - 25 modifier to something you’re trying to accomplish.

Traumatic Flashbacks: Your character had something happen in his past that troubles him to this day. He occasionally holds his head and screams to overpower the memories and sounds that flood his mind. His past is a dark cloud, and he just can’t seem to shake it. The Referee invokes this flaw when he wants to force the player to role-play that he’s re-living some past event or series of events. He might suddenly begin to see the enemy robots as the Sathar who one kidnapped him, or as the pirates who burned down his Frontier settlement.