The Starcross Galaxy
In a far-off galaxy, sword lesbians of the Haven rocket through the stars to make contact with new societies, to render aid where it is welcome, and to oppose the conquering Legion of the Void Empress. Oppose the Empire and seek out community on a galactic scale. Starcross Galaxy is a space opera that reimagines pulp sci-fi to celebrate queer love and power!
Make Space Weird and Magical
Hop into your space whale with your chosen family and investigate a magic vortex to another realm. Cross swords with the Legion on galactic livestream when they raid your underground talk show. Fall in love with a gay spaceship. One motif of Starcross is putting a familiar situation into a completely alien context, and exploring how that context inspires you to imagine new possibilities.
Explore, Learn, and Share
Space is vast and full of possibility. Connect with your community or pine longingly across the parsecs. Meet people who live in a way you never imagined and wonder why you do things the way you do, if it’s habit or intention that structures your life.
Focus on People
Thirsty Sword Lesbians shines when used to tell stories centered on people—people you can talk to, flirt with, try to understand, and duel. One side of this is being generous with information; there are no mechanics for how well you can scan a space anomaly and understand the physics or magic behind it. The GM should just tell you some interesting or actionable information about it. The other side is to get people involved. Maybe the space anomaly heralds a confused time-traveler who has been in so many continuities they can’t keep them straight. Or maybe a scientist is deeply invested in getting credit for the discovery, or the Legion wants to harness it against a nearby world.
The Haven Cooperative is a union of seven star systems with dozens of species and hundreds of cultures. They’re united by a shared commitment to cooperation and mutual learning. The Haven can serve as the PCs’ home community, or you can define a smaller community within the Haven—especially if you’re interested in exploring conflict within this utopian realm.
The antithesis of the Haven is the Void Legion, an authoritarian and exploitative power that desires domination over the galaxy. The Empress is popular in the Imperial Core, and she uses the might of her Legion and the sophistication of her propagandists to expand and consolidate her power.
Independent star systems dot the galaxy, bound together through a patchwork of faster-than-light travel techniques. The wormhole network connects far-flung systems on opposite sides of the galaxy, while networks of ether streams provide more local travel. In between the stars known to the Haven are vast swaths of the galaxy that can’t yet be reached. Some ancient lightspeed signals have emerged from nearby, unreachable stars, but any conversation would take thousands of years.
But wormholes can be fickle, and ether streams are countless. Explorers who brave uncharted routes can find awe-inspiring wonders of nature and meet new civilizations, and explorers from elsewhere arrive from time to time. If they’re lucky, they don’t arrive in the Void Empress’s territory.
Agents of the Gay Agenda
The PCs are agents from across the Haven who operate in Void Legion space and on independent worlds, supporting local factions working towards liberation and trying to thwart the Void Legion’s schemes.
Rebel catfolk in occupied territory are in urgent need of resupply. Can the PCs sneak, con, and flirt their way through Void Legion space with a cargo ship and keep the feline freedom fighters from failing? Can they get a shipful of refugees back out?
During a visit to an independent system, a Haven-friendly activist introduces the PCs to a friend who has been questioning their gender and wants to talk about it with people who will understand and aren’t part of their local circles. Meanwhile, a magic sword is stolen from the museum where they work, a relic that would be extraordinarily dangerous in the wrong hands. Can the PCs support their new friend while also retrieving the relic?
The Void Legion’s new blockbuster film is about to premiere, and the actors are traveling to an independent world as part of a tour to wine and dine local influencers. The PCs’ mission is to discredit the Void Legion’s propaganda and disrupt their influence.
The PCs explore rogue wormholes and dangerous ether currents, and wind up exploring their own relationships and emotions as much as they explore outer space.
The PCs arrive at a star system full of four-armed green cuties and mostly just have a nice time getting to know them. Miscommunications and conflicting feelings spice up the visit and someone might get challenged to a duel, but the scale is interpersonal and intimate. Use the emotional conflicts from the PCs’ playbooks as inspiration, and introduce them to green cuties who are struggling with the same issues they are.
A rogue wormhole drops the PCs into a new star system, then collapses behind them. The people of this star system are initially wary or even hostile, because it just so happens that a Void Legion scout force has recently been raiding the system, and has abducted a number of people. The silver lining is that this means there’s probably another path back to known space.
A giant space beetle has appeared in contested space and seems to be trying to communicate. As first contact experts, the PCs are called in to try to befriend the new arrival. Of course, they’re not the only ones with an interest in the visitor, and the way they handle conflict with the other interested parties will surely shape the beetle’s perception of them and of the Haven.
Mediator Karikcha (ze/zir): A Mantid who studied with the empathic Dryads of Rhond. Ze is an influential figure in the Hive movement, whose vision for the Haven is modeled on the eusocial behavior of space bees. Ze has a taste for sweets and is always looking for an excuse to bake and share zir treats, but the sword on zir belt isn’t just for show. A Dryad lover gave zir a gift: one of the Dryad’s many arms, which provided the wood for the sword’s frame. It’s edged in red laser, the color of her leaves.
Does zir vision for the Haven match with the PCs’? Will ze be a friend, an enemy, or both?
Tentacula Stronktopus Bloodsea (she/her): A former champion of the Legion, a muscular octopus woman with blue skin and ruddy, vampiric tentacles for hair. When the Legion arrived at her world, they came as friends, there to share technology and protect them against a terrible threat from the depths of space. Tenta’s family made a pact with the Legion, and when some on her world rebelled, she fought as a Legion general. Now she sees that she bought into a lie, that the family she trusted had sold out their world, and that the people she hurt were right all along. She’s too ashamed to return home, but she helps the people of the Haven and the independent systems resist the Legion with her knowledge and her Legion-tech sword.
When the PCs need help navigating Void Legion territory, can she move past her shame and face her past? When victims of the Void Empress vent their hurt on Tentacula, how do the PCs respond?
Her Divine Radiance, Eliavarradrine of Crystalia (she/her; gender:opal): A religious figure and talk show host from the holy world of Crystalia. Crystalia is said to be the birthplace of the sheltering darkness and the nurturing light, and the reverence of these extremes is the foundation of a common faith on many worlds. For generations, Crystalia held a reputation for moral courage and authority, but it was silent on the villainy of the Void Legion. Elia recently denounced her own world government for this silence, and has begun publishing evidence of Legion atrocities, evidence that had been sent to Crystalia by those begging for aid and support in surviving the Legion’s expansion. She has no sword, only the crystalline regalia of her station as one chosen by Radiance.
Does she invite the PCs onto her show to interview them or for them to debate someone else? Do the PCs see the toll her rebellion has taken on her and offer support?
Zephyr Celeste, Autonomous Spaceship (she/her): Zephyr Celeste was built by the Void Legion, an experiment in a new tier of artificial intelligence, one sophisticated enough to control the doomsday weapon they built into her. Fortunately for the rest of the galaxy, they were unable to control their creation, and she has just escaped them. She’s programmed herself never to kill again, and is trying to find a way to make the galaxy better. She’s also very interested in conversations about identity; in particular, she has been questioning the gender she was assigned at berth.
Was Zephyr’s devastating weapon ever used before she broke free? With people demanding that she be destroyed, with the Legion hunting her, what would the PCs advise?
Tarxie (de/der): A Dragon sex worker and information broker with contacts on a dozen worlds. De only accepts payment for sex work in secrets, but der information can be had in trade. De is a wingless blue Dragon, about eight feet tall with a long, serpentine torso and a thick tail. Der sword is nimble and envenomed, but it’s rare that de needs to draw it given der stature and wide range of friends.
When the PCs need intel, what price does Tarxie ask? When word gets out that they know a juicy secret, how long before Tarxie comes to make them an enticing offer?
Countess Mordrella Fang (she/her/milady): A pale Imperial noblewoman, muscled and scarred. Despite her military prowess, she is most renowned for her extravagant parties, typically taking place at unique locations such as the Titans’ Graveyard or the Whispering Nebula. These gatherings are where deals are made that reshape alliances on a galactic scale and where scandals unfold to destroy her rivals. In jarring contrast to her elegant and elaborate jackets and gowns, Fang’s sword is a jagged blade of bone, white with a reddish tinge. She stole the sword from deep within ancient ruins during the “pacification” of a border world early in her military career, and she refuses to part with it.
If the PCs can prove that she’s a literal vampire, would that harm her social standing? Can they attend one of her parties and beat her at her own game?
Captain Denise Bycross (she/her): Captain Bycross commands theISS Insatiable, part of the Imperial Void Legion Expeditionary Force. Her continuing mission is to seek out new life and new civilizations and conquer them in the name of the Empire. Lanky and quick, with short blonde hair, Captain Bycross is deadly with her immaculately maintained, top-of-the-line Legion laserblade. Per standard Void Legion practice, she doesn’t simply blast enemy starships with her energy cannons. Rather, she leads the boarding party to face the enemy hand-to-hand and take their ship intact. Her career has stagnated, however, because she refuses to wed any of the male admirals. Rumor has it that one of them even began an investigation into her fitness to command, under suspicion of “sympathizing with subversives.”
Just how sympathetic can the subversives persuade her to be? Does she have qualms about what she’s done? Does she beat them to a new discovery and show up when the PCs least expect it?
Names vary widely in the Starcross Galaxy and include sounds never intended for human lips, not to mention names encoded in motion, scent, color, and mathematics. Give the Imperials dreary or ominous names, and give the Haven vibrant and varied ones. Celebrate the full range of possibility, especially when the PCs encounter an unfamiliar culture with a different way of communicating.
Get Creative With Pronouns
Choose pronouns suitable for your playbook. Beast pronouns. Devoted pronouns. Trickster pronouns. There are no wrong answers, only permission to get original.
You can use the Nature Witch playbook to play a character who is in tune with technological environments, either instead of or in addition to natural ones. Use the Techno Witch variant described on page 79.
Cross Vast Distances
When you undertake a journey across the stars, resolve these prompts in the order that you pass through the regions described. The PCs resolve these as a group, not individually.
If any part of your journey is within.
...the Haven Cooperative, name a friendly person and describe their area of expertise. They will say hello and give you useful information, an opportunity, or a shoulder to cry on.
...Independent Space, roll +The number of friends you can name who live near your route (max +3):
- 10+: You’re invited to partake in a delightful or useful local social function.
- 7–9: You’re asked to fulfill an obligation under local customs. What about it is inconvenient or uncomfortable? In the end, are you glad you participated?
- 6-: The GM is encouraged to make a move that emphasizes the PCs’ alienation from the local culture, consequences of their previous adventures in the region, or the growing influence of the Void Legion.
...Void Legion Space, roll +Nothing (+1 if you have the help of someone who has spent years here):
- 10+: You see something that is beautiful or gives you hope.
- 7–9: You receive an unexpected plea for help.
- 6-: The GM is encouraged to make a move that puts someone in immediate danger or foreshadows an ominous development.
...a region not charted in your navigational records, roll +Nothing:
- 10+: You encounter a natural phenomenon or space creature that brings you delight or helps you.
- 7–9: You come across a wounded space creature or an ominous derelict ship.
- 6-: The GM is encouraged to make a move that disorients the PCs or damages their ship in a way that requires them to find a rare resource to fix it before they can get home.