Alpha v0.083 + Dev's Thoughts

Dev's Thoughts

About the Update

From time to time, the game needs a general cleanup regarding format and just generally rearranging certain pieces. Sometimes these pieces are old and busted, and require a little bit of extra effort in order to keep up with the game's advancement. This update is not very long, and you'll find that most of it is just cleaning up these old pieces, and generally giving the project a good look. One of the biggest changes was a small update to the game's core concepts, something that serves as a presentation card and as a constant beacon of where to go next. As such, I've updated them in order to be more accurate when presenting my game.

About the Game

As with any update, it has some incomplete progress in the background that is not found in the uploaded PDF. Maybe because it's not done yet, or maybe because I feel like it needs some extra internal testing before being pushed. I've been going through certain aspects of the game during some initial group playtests (a one-shot at a con, and one that I'm hosting privately) I realized that people really like what they have available, but I personally feel like it could do with a bit more. A bit more content, a bit more variety, a bit more love. A bit more.

Hopefully as we go along I'll find myself in a more comfortable state, and be able to focus on the strengths of the game instead of cleaning up after these little mistakes, and being able to truly look forward into more expansive and hefty subsystems, or larger cleanups and overhauls of content already in the game.

About the Future

Some things about the game are majorly concerning me right now. The magic system is a bit too vague, and I'm not truly comfortable with using Hexcrawl for exploration. After some research and internal playtesting I realized that Hexcrawls tend to be better in a different context - that of old editions and retroclones of D&D rather than an overall dynamic for roleplaying games. I still want travel and exploration to matter, but I've been going through it and thinking - is this the right way? I'm working on alternatives that focus more on the aspects of travel and exploration that will benefit more from the dynamic presented by the rest of the game. Here's hoping I find one that I really like. The strongest contender right now is based on Pointcrawls and more abstract distances and times, but it'll have to wait until a further update to be introduced and developed. The changes I've made to Hexcrawl right now pave the way for future changes, so keep an eye out.

There was a section I was initially going to add to this update but ended up leaving for the future - Arbiter's Tools. The next thing I'll be working on will be a way to create Adversaries: enemies and monsters of various natures and sizes so that the Arbiter can create a well-met opposition that serves a narrative purpose and packs a punch at the same time. I'm using a draft of this subsystem while playtesting, and I want to really settle down what I've found while playtesting before I go into the specifics.

What of other things to come? I want to focus on playtesting what I have before moving forward, but if there's one thing that's been on my mind since day 1 it's that I want an engaging Crafting system. It's a bit too complicated to introduce and focus on right now, but current plans include dividing elements via Source and Application so you can flexibly create things in a mechanically interesting way, without getting in the way of narrative. Far too complex and ambitious to introduce before many other basic things.



  • Updated the Core Concepts under Introduction to better reflect the current state and direction of the game.

The game has changed over time, and so have my expectations of it. This is a way to remind myself of what I want out of the game, and what the reader can expect from it.

  • Made all text about 10% smaller to accomodate bigger margins and improve readability. 

This is mostly a concern over my playtest rulebooks being hard to read, while also improving readability of the PDF on a screen. It also helps me to improve space economy by being able to squeeze in just a bit more content without it looking cramped.

  • Rearranged the first page. 

Instead of showing the version front and center in an ugly way, I've decided to switch the version and "Alpha" to a smaller section below, and changed Core Rulebook to Core Playtest Rulebook to better reflect the state of the game.

  • Renamed Important Enemies as Greater Enemies. 

This is a small change, but it paves the way for things to come.

  • Fixed mentions of deprecated uses of Lethal and Stun Tracks.

There were some sections that kept referring to the Health and Fatigue Tracks as Lethal and Stun. I actually noticed this one while exporting the PDF.


  • Added Extra Ammo and renamed Automatic to Blitz under Weapon Traits.

Okay, two things that came out of playtesting. One of them was that it would be cool to have a way to get extra attacks without increasing the AP cost, specially since Light weapons can't get 10 shots by default. The other one was that the word Automatic really confused some players as to what it entailed.


  • Added a short example to Attacks. 

Clarity is good to have. Someone pointed out that it would be nice to have an example of how Attacks work.

  • Added “Condition Tracks” to Damage. 

I went on for like an entire year and then some without ever actually explaining Condition Tracks in the game. How this happened is beyond me.

  • Rewrote Severe Wounds. 

Changed the phrasing to actually reflect how Severe Wounds piling up works, specially now that I have the above section panned out.

  • Renamed Wounded states to Injured. 

Wounded and Badly Wounded became Injured and Badly Injured. Simply a clarity change because having several Severe Wounds but not being Wounded was confusing. Might change this again in the future.

  • Clarified Shock rules.

You now advance in the Death Spiral if you take damage while suffering Shock. This was the intention from the get-go, but I seem to have missed it.


  • Changed the way Minor and Complex Effects work in Combat. 

Minor Effects have disadvantage when used as Attacks. Major effects have Advantage vs a single target or allow you to affects a group of close targets.


  • Added “Inner Workings” under Tech. 
  • Added Information and Systems under Inner Workings. 

An old section brought to life. Inner Workings explains how Information and Systems work, both of which have been referenced but not included in the past.

  • Clarified the Dissonance paragraph. 

What happens if you fail the reattunement check? Nothing, that's what. But I had to mention it, otherwise people wouldn't know.


  • Changed Hex size from 20 km to 8 Miles. 
  • Reworked the Hexcrawl mechanics from speed-based to points-based to improve its flexibility and balance.

Instead of travelling 2 hexes a day, a smaller scale and a Movement Points system means that hexcrawl travel is just a bit more flexible now. I don't list it as a separate change, but I also rearranged this entire section so it falls in line with the rest of the document. 

You may or may not see this system changed in the future while keeping the points system intact.

  • Added Resting under Wilderness Exploration.

This part is... admittedly pretty bad. It's a band-aid for what I'm using for the playtest. I'll definitely be changing this one in the future.


Trail of the Vagrant Star (Alpha v0.083).pdf 4 MB
Jan 24, 2019

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