The player characters are freelance pathfinders, salvage hunting teams, and treasure hunters. They wander around the Consortium gate worlds and the frontier systems of the Edge in their voidjammers, exploring wrecked starships, the ruins of ancient alien cultures, and abandoned metacorporation colonies in hopes of finding lost knowledge and riches.
The characters often form small teams crewing heavily customized spaceships, commonly known as voidjammers. These versatile spaceships are usually outfitted for salvage hunting and exploration missions in remote alien worlds or forgotten colony worlds filled with threats ranging from space pirates to meteor showers and alien phenomena. Typical voidjammers are small or medium-sized refitted military crafts, cargo tugs or space exploration vehicles that can be operated with a small crew.
Salvaging an old shipwreck floating in space might sound like a piece of cake, but more often than not it is anything but easy. Still, functional sentinel drones, greedy salvage crews, savage marauders, and alien predators are just a few examples of the possible threats a rifter crew might encounter.
Most normal ship crews earn their living by trading, smuggling, collecting salvage, bounty hunting or by doing various odd-jobs. Usually, this is enough to keep the crew flying, but it does not make anyone rich. To find anything of real value, you will need to head into the hyperstorm. The rifters are courageous and crazy enough to defy the dangers of the Lost Expanse in the hopes of finding valuable artifacts or knowledge.
The voidjammer crews are not typically after some easy scrap metal that can barely pay for the fuel and upkeep of their voidjammer. They are after more valuable bounties like lost military intel, influential people surviving in cryo-sleep, alien artifacts, restricted nanoforge blueprints, forgotten technology or rare resources like amatium.
There are certain crew positions that the voidjammer needs to have. The first one is always the pilot and the second one an engineer. The other crew positions are determined by the voidjammer’s type. For example, a refitted patrol craft might make use of a gunner and an exploratory vessel a sensor operator.
Crew positions provide the characters with specific actions and character development features.
Critical crew positions:
- Pilot – Pilots the ship and acts as the navigator for the hyperjumps.
- Engineer – Takes care of the ships technical systems like reactors, shields and life support. Engineers can also perform emergency repairs during the combat.
- Gunner – Operates the ship’s different weapon systems.
Optional crew positions:
- Command – Acts as the captain of the ship or in other commanding positions coordinating the actions of the other crew members.
- Security – Security crew is responsible for the security of the ship’s crew and cargo.
- Science – Some ships have extensive laboratories and systems for research. Science crew collects and analyzes sensor information and physical specimens.
- Medical – The ship’s medical crew takes care of the crew’s well-being and health, but most importantly they exist to handle severe accidents and injuries. A ship’s medic is critical for crews that operate in dangerous areas or conduct high-risk operations and jobs, like mercenary crews or salvage crews.
- Sensors – Sensor operator takes care of the ship’s active and passive sensors and electronic counter-measures. It is also their job to keep the ship undetected, when necessary.
A single crew member can also handle multiple positions, like pilot the ship and shoot its primary weapons, but in these cases, a single crew member cannot use any of the systems to their full potential.
Also, multiple crew members can staff different positions in a ship and share different operations of that post. For example, multiple engineers can handle different systems of the ship. One could take care of the shields and energy distribution while another engineer could handle emergency repairs during the combat.
There can also be other positions in a ship, like the medical officer or the security officer, but these positions do not have a critical function during space combats.