The Red Shirt System

insp_expendability2.jpg

Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Ensign Ricky are beaming down to the planet. Guess who’s not coming back?


The PCs of the story don’t always possess the skills to get every job done alone. Sometimes you need a loyal lackey to have your back while you’re hacking the computer, or you’ll need that heal-bot doctor in the wings for when you get shot up.
Accidents also happen to the most unfortunate people. The science station’s instrument panel will explode after the starship is fired on one too many times and that officer probably won’t make it. And you just know that the inexperienced member of an away mission is going to be the one to be seduced, diseased, incinerated or blown into the vacuum of space.

The Red Shirt system fulfills this element in a Space Opera campaign.

If you need to bolster your ranks with a specific sort of lackey, a starship will almost always have just the right person you’re needing. A starship possesses a number of characters in each class based on the chart below.

Strong (10%) Fast (15%) Tough (10%) Smart (25%) Dedicated (25%) Charismatic (15%)

Once assigned to a task, that character’s position in the crew becomes static (unless they die). They can then level-up and get better at those tasks as the level of the crew progresses. Until a character is created though, the ship’s character slot will remain a nebulous position equal in level to 1/2 the Levels of the PCs (ensuring you always have someone with just the right knack for the odd job.) There is no restriction on the classes a “Red Shirt” may take, however they do not have access to Action Points1.

“Red Shirts” inherit a wealth bonus based on the chart below:

Character Level Wealth Level Character Level Wealth Level
1 +4 11 +11
2 +5 12 +11
3 +6 13 +12
4 +7 14 +12
5 +8 15 +13
6 +8 16 +13
7 +9 17 +14
8 +9 18 +14
9 +10 19 +15
10 +10 20 +16

If “Red Shirts” die, or if they begin taking up useful space that would be better utilized as a nebulous open slot on the ship, all you need do is replace them. “Red Shirts” may be replaced any time the PCs starship has docked with a friendly Hypercosmic-sized ship or space station. “Red Shirts” may also be replaced at allied terrestrial outposts throughout the Verge.


1 Is a player chooses to control a “Red Shirt” instead of their own character on an away mission they may make use of action points.

The Red Shirt System

Star☀Drive MorganWilliams