From the Stars Without Number rulebook we get this quote:
Above all, Stars Without Number is your game now. There is no one “correct” way to play it. There is only your way to play it, and you should feel free to make it the game you want to play.
Let's take this great OSR space game and turn it into a quick OSR Star Wars or Star Trek style game. Yes, I know there are official licensed games for both of these, and they are great, but back in my day when all we have was Basic and Expert D&D, we hacked that game to play whatever we wanted to play. If the numbers and systems were "close enough" and "like the movies" then that was mission complete.
Note: None of this is official material, Stars Without Number and all content is property of Sine Nomine Publishing, and Star Trek and Star Wars are properties of their respective license holders. This is presented for free as fan material for simulating genres "like" the ones mentioned. The names of weapons and defenses from the Stars Without Number game are NOT presented in their entirety, but only as names for possible conversion notes between genres, and are not official.
Because we don't want to step all over licensed products, we will be using generic genre names for our new universes, such as "Star Federation" for a genre like Star Trek, and "Space Empire" for a genre like Star Wars. This way the genres are a bit more generic and we can use the standard names for what they call things here, like "blaster" or "phaser" since those are generic sci-fi terms but some more closely associated with one genre than another.
Also note, while those two properties are used as examples, there are plenty of other movies, books, anime, and games in those genres you could be simulating. Never get stuck on the names given in the book, and if you want to change them - this is your game and do so!
Remember, what we are trying to do here is OSR-ify the genres and make them play like an OSR game. We are not looking to create a game that plays like a licensed game, or create anything super complex and detailed. All we want is an "OSR hack" for each genre, and only making minimal changes and fixes to make things work.
When it comes down to it, being able to quickly spin up an OSR space hero and jump into an iconic starship and start having adventures is what the goal is with this project.
So, what is the strategy? Well, since I don't want to be creating huge lists of items and equipment lists for each new genre, I am just going to change the names of what we have in the main rulebook to make what we have - and what is tested and well-balanced - into the things we need for each genre.
For example, we need a hand-blaster for out Space Empire setting. I would use the laser pistol, and the laser rifle for a larger blaster rifle. What about the hand phasers of Star Federation? We have those too in the thermal pistol and the rifle-like plasma projector for our "phaser rifle."
Is this cheating? Heck yes it is cheating. But when you look at it, calling a Vortex Tunnel Inductor a "Heavy Ion Cannon" in the Space Empire setting or a "Heavy Disruptor" in our Star Federation setting makes sense from a movie perspective. The main, heavy energy gun in each setting if used in a movie would produce approximately the same dramatic effect. Also, since the source material, the VTI weapon in the main game, was play-tested, our balance in play is guaranteed.
And this is quick-and-easy, we don't want to get bogged down in creating huge lists and conversions, and we are done.
Limit Genre Equipment
The Stars Without Number has a lot of cool personal and starship equipment, such as the perfect for our use "teleportation pads." We need to limit equipment availability by each genre and this is just asking the question, "Does this item work in this universe?" For teleportation pads, yes for Star Federation and no for Space Empire. Cold sleep pods? Have not really seen them used in either setting that much unless they were medical stasis pods, so limit them for that use only.
Most items are dual use in either genre, such as cargo space or luxury cabins, so just use them as-is. If you need something genre-specific, such as a holo-deck, use the closest approximation, such as an advanced lab or workshop - whatever feels closest in terns of function and technology, rename it and use that. Write it in like "holo-deck (advanced lab)" and you are good.
Again, convert something already there that is close enough and get playing.
One issue that may come up is shields, which are prevalent in both genres. I say, these are included with the ship's AC and hit points. There will be some inconsistencies with things said in the movies like, "max power to shields" or even "shields full forward" but when you get right down to it that all could be just letting the audience know the ship has shields and a dramatic device. If the ship's AC is ever lowered by a crisis, that means the shields are down.
As an option add a "Full Power to Shields" combat action for 2 CP under Engineering Actions and make it work exactly like Evasive Maneuvers, adding the engineer's Fix skill level to the ship's AC, usable once per round. Note this may affect balance if stacked with evasive maneuvers, so if you find is it causing issues only allow one or the other (or better yet, the higher of the two) to be used in a round.
So, a list of suggestions? Sure, let's do that, and your may vary but here is a start that I could come up with:
|SWN Defense||Star Federation||Space Empire|
|Ablative Hull Components||Enhanced Shields||Enhanced Shields|
|Augmented Plating||Armor Plating||Armor Plating|
|Burst ECM Generator||Electronic Countermeasures||Jammers|
|Grav Eddy Displacer||Angled Shielding||Deflector Screens|
|Hardened Polyceramic Array||Super Dense Hull||Hardened Armor|
|Planetary Defense Array||NA||NA|
|Point Defense Lasers||Point Defense Phasers||Point Defense Lasers|
You could use the planetary defense array as an anti-orbital bombardment screen, a large solid force field projector, or a sort of energy projector that can stop fission reactions, so this is still useful as a plot device or "large defensive thing" replacement.
Given all the crazy things they did in the movies, you could come up with really any reason for something to "work" and fit in the genre. For example, point defense lasers as anti-starfighter weapons are pretty apparent in the Space Empire genre. In a Space Federation genre they would be anti-torpedo weapons, and while not really seen too much in films, it is possible they exist so use them if you want to in this genre or don't - it is up to how you see the genre working.
Some ships in Space Empire have these "forward mounted turbolasers" so that is like a spinal mount. Could a Star Federation ship possibly have a single large phaser mounted forward? It could, though we haven't see this too much, it could be done.
Also in Star Federation you see a difference between the accurate "phaser" style ship weapons versus the more destructive and clumsy "disruptor" style weapons. In Space Empire these are Ion Cannons.
Also, some weapons are listed as NA since they don't have a great match in each genre. This doesn't prevent you from using them, or you may know of some obscure weapon that was used in a TV show, movie, or book that fits into that space, so just fill it in yourself. So let's do my suggested list of replacements for each genre, and yours may vary:
|SWN Weapon||Star Federation||Space Empire|
|Multifocal Laser||Phaser (small craft)||Laser Cannons (starfighter)|
|Reaper Battery||Disruptor Beam (small craft)||Ion Cannon (starfighter)|
|Fractal Impact Charge||Photon Torpedo (small craft)||Proton Torpedo (starfighter)|
|Polyspectral MES Beam||NA||NA|
|Flak Emitter Battery||Point Defense Phasers||Point Defense Lasers|
|Torpedo Launcher||Photon Torpedo Launcher||Proton Torpedo Launcher|
|Charged Particle Caster||Disruptor Cannon||Ion Cannon|
|Mag Spike Array||NA||NA|
|Nuclear Missiles||Atomic Mines||Orbital Bombardment Bays|
|Spinal Beam Cannon||Phaser Cannon||Turbolaser Cannon|
|Spike Inversion Projector||Phaser Battery||Turbolaser Battery|
|Vortex Tunnel Inductor||Heavy Disruptor||Heavy Ion Cannon|
|Mass Cannon||Heavy Photon Torpedo||Heavy Proton Torpedo|
|Lightning Charge Mantle||NA||NA|
|Singularity Gun||Anti-planetary Phaser||Anti-planetary Laser|
Sandthrowers and mag spike arrays make good "gauss weapon" replacements for universes that use those. The Polyspectral MES beam could be seen as a high-tech phaser or laser variant that is highly armor piercing. The plasma beam seems like an ion cannon or disruptor variant that sacrifices power for aim, so if you had a "light" version this would be a good fit. Smart cloud is like a laser armed drone cloud and that was used in at least one modern Star Federation movie. A grav cannon is like a weaponized tractor beam, so again, use it if you need it. The lightning charge mantle is an energy field weapon, good for an alien force field weapon.
Again, we are not trying to be sci-fi nerds here and asking the question, "Is a phaser battery better than a turbolaser battery?" In movie effects these are similar enough to a "large energy weapon for a large ship" that we just handwave away the differences and call them functionally equivalent. The weapon names are deliberately generic, since through the source material of these genres they do change frequently.
Federation versus Empire
This is where the fun begins. Now that you have a common set of rules and conversion notes, you could run a campaign where the Star Federation takes on the Space Empire. You know all those memes where the universes get crossed up and the what-ifs start flying around? Those are all yours now, and the OSR nature of the game provides the common framework for everything to work together.
The characters can all interact, the ships can fight each other, and given a little care on converting personal equipment, everything just works and you can even play a sandbox campaign where the two sides fight for control of various worlds, work together, or get caught in situations on neutral worlds where they are forced to interact.
Want a battle between a Space Destroyer and Federation Cruiser? You got it. Want a transhuman science officer facing off against a dark space knight? You got it. The OSR has you covered as a compatibility layer between the genres.
This is one of the great things about hacking the game to simulate the genres, in general no two licensed games will every be cross-compatible with each other (unless they are the same publisher). Here, because we modded the base game and renamed a few things to say "X is really Y" we can have a system that handles either or both in the same setting and with the same rules. You cold play OSR Star Federation one night, and OSR Space Empires the next with the same rules. You could do the "versus" campaign. You could further refine and modify the weapons and equipment to better fit an era with in the genre, or just use it all as-is.
As the book says, there is no "one" correct way to play the game.