Usurpation in Space

I’m running a 4day, one-phase BE game this weekend with 4 players, two of whom (new to Burning) are very interested in playing space-fighter type characters. the other two (BW adepts) are interested in the more political/psychological aspects of the setting. that being said, i plan on taking everyone’s advice and encouraging them to play the Usurpation phase.

from my understanding, Usurpation is more about the shadow wars of extortion, propaganda, assasinations, kidnappings, etc. the hooks suggested in the book are mostly about the ‘on the ground’ stuff. i’m looking for some examples/inspiration for how to run the Usurpation phase in orbit around the planet. i’m thinking space station attacks, smuggling, destroying signals relays, etc. are these more ‘invasion-type’ stuff? should i perhaps urge them to take artifical environs, etc. in world burning and simply use the space-backdrop as the physical environment…?

i really want these new guys to buy in, so i’d appreciate any suggestions, examples or antedotes from experienced BE GMs as to how to run the usurpation in space.

I had a slightly similar issue with a player who wanted to play a space-fighter pilot. Some of the suggestions I received when talking about how to meet this player’s expectations included taking the ‘fighter pilot’ archetype and moving it out of space and onto the planet–either in atmospheric vehicles or in underwater fighters (our planet was a water world). Although we didn’t use the underwater option, I did stage a Firefight air-to-air fight and an interstellar voyage to another planet to spotlight this character.
I think the Usurpation phase is entirely appropriate for space-fighter encounters with UFOs, or encounters with hulled pilots (of different powers/factions or even the same faction) that leads to chases or fights. If the planet is maintaining a blockade, there is ample opportunity for smugglers in space or counter-smuggling missions. In ‘Burning Nautilus Prima’ I planted a Vaylen listening post on the moon…the players never bit at it, but I was hoping to see a major Firefight up there. We may yet get to it once we start Usurpation.

If you treat the “system” as part of the “world”, including an asteroid belt, some moons, regular merchant traffic in and out of the system, lots of dust clouds that screw with distortion drives, etc… you could satisfy your guys, I’d think. My main GMFON in our campaign is a hammer lord and she’s sure as hell going to be operating out in the system. I’ve set it up that there’s a Vaylen “finger” (scout vessel) hiding out in the asteroid belt, as well as regular pirating of traders coming and going. Plenty to do out there, it seems to me. Where it gets funny is operating outside of the star system.


Make sure you add in lots of opportunities for space combat during World Building.

Ideas off the top of my head:
-A Rebel Line faction under a Hammer Lord who is operating out of a nearby hidden base.

  • Criminal Organizations who are pirates and smugglers.
  • Industry that produces not only hammer but trained pilots as well.
  • A Vaylen Clan Leader who is waiting to drop the house shields before he can launch his attack.
  • A planet being blockaded by a Hammer Lord - the PCs could be with the Hammer Lord (or one of them could be the Hammer Lord himself) or they could be trying to lift the blockade.
  • Lots of Hammer assets in the Predominant Military.

As you go through the questions in the World Burner, make sure you keep asking people if what you’re coming up with will give them the opportunities for the types of conflicts they want.

thanks guys. good ideas all around. lots of space stuff in world burning is defintely the key. that way it’s all hard-wired into the setting instead of me inserting retroactively when i learn, oh wait, they all want to be hammer captains…