Welcome to part three of my contribution to the Obsolete Simulations Roundup blog carnival! Parts one and two can be found here and here. In part three I’ll be finishing up my discussion of the 1988 science fiction game Justifiers, by StarChilde Publications.
I have a great fondness for the universe of the Justifiers RPG, but not for the game mechanics. In this entry I have several suggestions for alternate rules systems for running the Justifiers RPG. After that I have some adventure seeds for getting a Justifiers game rolling.
Alternate Rule Sets
GURPS Justifiers – GURPS is my go-to rules set for importing other game worlds. By design the system is meant for just this kind of transformation and creating a set of templates for Betas would not be difficult. You would loose the element of random generation, but since the character creation rules are one of my complaints with Justifiers this isn’t a big loss. GURPS has several sourcebooks that would be helpful, including Biotech, Psionics, and Cyberpunk or Ultra-Tech for all your cybernetic needs.
In my perfect world, Justifiers would get the full GURPS treatment by Steve Jackson Games. They have an excellent track record for bringing other game universes into the GURPS system, including several other games whose universes I love but whose mechanics I don’t. GURPS Deadlands, Vampire, and Castle Falkenstein come to mind.
Basic Role Playing Justifiers – Chaosium’s Basic Role Playing would be another good candidate for running Justifiers. It would preserve the random character generation aspect and more of the Justifiers material would be directly transportable to BRP since both are percentile based systems. The skill sets for Justifiers would also be a nearly direct translation, as they echo the career sets in BRP based games like Call of Cthulhu.
Given such a merger it would be tempting to add the Call of Cthulhu sanity rules. Perhaps the corporations are secretly the tools of the Illuminati and the true purpose of the Justifiers is not colonization, but reconnaissance of the tomb worlds of the Great Old Ones and recovery of their artifacts.
Fusion or Interlock Justifiers – R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk 2020 and Mekton Zeta games would fit well with both the Justifiers concept and mindset. Characters are tools of megacorporations in a dystopian future with exotic weapons and cyberware? Cyberpunk 2020 is ready to go, just add animal templates to the existing rules. A bonus would be the fully realized rules for cybernetics that Cyberpunk 2020 offers.
Mekton Zeta uses the same system as Cyberpunk 2020 and would have the added appeal of mecha and psionics. Imagine your telepathic anthropomorphic lemur piloting a giant robot capable of transforming into a mechanical tiger. Mekton Justifiers, taking gonzo to the next level!
Secret of the Star Gate – A new planet has been discovered that appears to be extremely Earth-like and the PCs are deployed to claim it in what appears to be a standard, though extra-lucrative, Justification mission.
However, once the team reaches orbit they make several strange discoveries. Standard Justifier satellites are already in orbit, but these satellites are dormant and appear to have been here for years. Further, planetary survey indicates structures on the surface consistent with a colonial beach head.
Investigations of the site shows that the surrounding jungle is filled with a bipedal aboriginal life form. They seem inquisitive but docile, keeping a respectful distance from the Betas. The base is distinctly Terran built, but has been abandoned for years. Attempts to draw closer will trigger a hostile response, as security robots attack anything entering the structures. Inside they find the remains of numerous Betas, all dead, all from the same corporation, and apparently having killed each other. They also find a fully assembled TransMatt chamber, but its destination coordinates are not for any known world.
No records indicate what is at the TransMatt’s destination, but as the Betas power up the system the previously docile aborigines become hostile.
Mystery of the Ancient Ones – The team is rushed to an emergency briefing. A new planet has been discovered that is ripe for colonization, but intelligence indicates that a rival corporation also knows about it. The race is on to claim the planet!
Within hours the team is in their shuttle and going through the TransMatt portal. Upon reaching the new world several things happen. First, sensors indicate a large space station located at one of the planet’s Lagrange points. This station is massive and of unknown origin. Second, they discover what appears to be a single enormous city on the planet’s surface, similarly devoid of life signs. Third, the shuttle of the rival Justifier team has just arrived.
The shuttles have no ship-to-ship combat capabilities, so the team needs to make some fast choices. If they decide to go for the planet, their rivals will head to the space station. If the players pick the space station, their rivals will make for the planet. If they hang back there is a 50% chance either way for where their rivals will go.
Logan’s Run – Back on their homeworld, the team meets a friend who is down on her luck. Drinking heavily and playing with an ankh-like pendant, she tells them her story.
She and her lover were closing in on buy back, but the last mission went catastrophically wrong. The rest of the team was killed and their equipment was destroyed when their position was overrun by native monsters. She was the only one who made it through the TransMatt to safety. Her team and her lover died and the corporation slapped the bill for the entire expedition onto her buy back price. She finishes her story, leaves the bar, and is never seen again.
A few days later the team is brought in by Security for a special mission briefing. They present the team with an ankh pendant just like the one their friend had been carrying and tell them that it contains secret instructions and clearance codes to locate an underground railroad that has been trying to help Betas escape to a hidden colony known as Sanctuary. They want the team to go undercover and infiltrate the group, locate Sanctuary, and let the corporation know where it is located and who is running the operation.
They’re prepared to pay four times the normal mission price, with a bonus if they can capture the ringleaders. However, they’ll also be using cybernetic implants to guarantee the team won’t go rogue; cortex bombs or the like. Also, the team will need to be extra careful as corporate security forces will not be briefed on their undercover status. The risk of leaks is too high.
Reality TV – The team’s corporate PR department has assigned a media group to the Justifiers’ team who will be producing a reality show based on them. This places a severe load on the already crowded shuttle for the TransMatt trip to their next world and destroying any peace and privacy they would normally have been able to find.
What’s worse, problems begin occurring with equipment even before they can make planetfall, culminating in the failure of the team’s satellites. Gradually evidence begins to mount that there is a saboteur aboard, but is it one of the media team? Or has a member of the Justifiers’ team been compromised?
Heart of Darkness – A routine mission goes awry at the outset when the team realizes that their shuttle has come out of TransMatt over the wrong planet! They are hailed by a ground station and welcomed to the headquarters of the Free Beta Alliance.
Once they land they find a large settlement consisting almost entirely of Betas lead by a grizzled old bison-type Beta named Kurtz. He reveals that his organization has been gathering strength for years; first among Betas who had successfully reached buy back and then among Betas who were rescued from their servitude. Kurtz says that the FBA is dedicated to building a society where Betas can live free from both corporate enslavement and societal bigotry.
Now Kurtz feels they are strong enough to move on to the next phase of his plan and the players are the result of their first test. Deep cover agents have been activated who introduced a computer virus into the TransMatt device. The virus waited until the last moment to redirect the TransMatt beam, sending the shuttle to the FBA’s colony world, and then erasing itself and all system logs. In this way Kurtz plans to liberate Justifier teams en masse.
However it soon becomes apparent that his main goal is acquisition of the nuclear weapons locked aboard the Justifier shuttles, available only to the mission commander. Kurtz plans to hijack the TransMatt stations of several corporations and send the nuclear weapons through, disrupting travel and communications throughout colonized space. Even worse, most of his targets are located on orbital colonies and the internal detonation of a nuclear warhead will lead to the destruction of entire colonies. Millions will die, human and Beta alike.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the Justifiers RPG as much as I have enjoyed putting it together. If you’re interested in checking it out, copies in .pdf format are available from Drive Thru RPG. Physical copies can be found from time to time at Noble Knight Games. If anyone has a copy of the 2010 German release, I would love to hear about it! Please drop me a line and tell me all about it.
Thanks to Tim over at The Savage Afterworld for putting the Obsolete Simulations Roundup carnival together and I look forward to it becoming an annual thing. Head on over to his blog and check out all the other reviews!
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