Zebulon's Guide to Frontier Space (volume 1)
Zebulons Guide to Frontier Space cover
Writers: Kim Eastland
Illustrators: ??
Game System Notes
Rules used: Alpha Dawn,
Knight Hawks,
Action Control Table
Series: SFAC3 / Zebulon's Guide
Game concept: Major rule and setting overhaul
Publication Notes
Publisher: TSR, Inc.
Publication date: March 1, 1986
Media type: Softcover Book
Number of Pages: 96
ISBN: 0880382503/

Zebulon's Guide to Frontier Space is a rules supplement for the Star Frontiers game universe with additional rules, equipment and setting information. Designed as a continuing series, it was the only volume ever printed. It describes itself in its own words:

"In FY 110 (Frontier Year 110) something new appeared in the frontier. It was an encyclopedia complied by the University of Zebulon documenting all known flora, fauna, cultures, devices and history of the frontier in one place."

Zebulon's Guide to Frontier Space introduced several additional game and setting elements and radical changes to the game's mechanics. Of the three planned volumes of the Guide, only the first was ever published, leaving the game in an uncomfortable, half-overhauled state. Gamers were given little to no practical advice on how to convert their existing characters to the new rules, and TSR never published any further products using the "Zebulon's" concepts. Fan reaction even today has been mixed, with fans ether using the best elements, incorporating the additions to the best of their ability, or rejecting it outright.

Product DescriptionEdit

"After decades of research, the University of Zebulon has published the first volume of its long-awaited guide to the worlds, beings, and technology of the Frontier. Compiled herein is the latest information on recently discovered races, star systems, worlds, and technology."
Several unusual races have been encountered on the edges of the ever-expanding Frontier. These races are fully described and are now available as player character races. The boundaries of the Frontier have expanded in all directions. Recently discovered systems and worlds are described for the first time and the known worlds of the Frontier are given greater detail than ever before."
Technology is being invented and discovered at an increasing pace. New weapons, defense systems, sensors, and a vast array of advanced equipment are now available to characters."
This book also introduces a revised action resolution system that greatly enhances characters' combat skills while providing a single, easy-to-use method for resolving all character actions."

Rule SystemEdit

The biggest rule change was the inclusion of the Action Control Table, also known as the Universal Table System — originally developed for the Marvel Super Heroes Role-Playing Game. The system uses a single table color-coded to determine the degree of success, but where the original system worked well for MSH, its oversimplification made it unsatisfactory for those already familiar with the original Star Frontiers system.

The skill system was also greatly expanded, with a larger set of individual skills, distinct from the Primary Skill Areas of Alpha Dawn & Knight Hawks.

Most level-dependent skills and equipment (like computers and robots), which had previously been capped at level 6, now could go as high as level 8, but the details were left out from Volume I, leaving the system only half-overhauled and unusable without house rules.

The SettingEdit

There was a huge overhaul to the established setting, and a large number of new additions.

A timeline was established to put all old adventures and noted events into a chronological perspective. Much of the old adventures are spread out over decades and set about a century before the current time — 111 years after the formation of the United Planetary Federation.[1]

Politics, terrorism and law enforcement were greatly emphasized for adventure hooks.

There was a major epidemic that significantly depopulated the Frontier Sector, stopped interstellar travel for a decade, and left some unnamed systems under permanent quarantine (even after the cure was found and widely distributed to all worlds).

Three new (playable) races from the Rim — the Ifshnit, the Osakar, and the Humma — were introduced. The Mechanon were also added as a playable race.

Psionic abilities where introduced to the setting, with groups established to deal with them, pro- and anti-psionic political groups, and a body within Star Law called Psi-Corp, that uses psychics to help in law enforcement.

There was a large number of new equipment and technology. Cybernetics was listed as a skill, but noted that rules for cybernetic implants would be covered in a future installment. One of the more outstanding developments was a Matter Transferal Device roughly analogous to Star Trek transporters, though with significant limitations, making them impractical for common use.

Notes & ReferencesEdit

  1. It should be noted that this timeline contradicts the timeline previously established in previously published official products.
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