"Freeze! Star Law!"
The interstellar police of the Star Frontiers game
by Kim Eastland
Dragon Magazine, #87, pg. 71
According to the Star Frontiers game glossary, the Star Law Rangers
operate as an interstellar police force that "concentrates
on finding Sathar agents, but also fights space pirates and other
interstellar criminals." We also know that the Rangers have
large territorial areas of authority because in the history section
we find that Rangers "track the Sathar's agents from planet
to planet and fight them on their own terms." Beyond that,
there is little for an aspiring Star Frontiers game referee or
player to consider when dealing with Star Law forces. The purpose
of this article is to fill in some large holes that exist about
this intergalactic agency and its members.
Before proceeding any further, let's look at a few facts and assumptions
that will help define law enforcement and military authorities
in the Star Frontiers game.
- The peace of the Frontier region is maintained in space by
the UPF Spacefleet (see the Star Frontiers Knight Hawks game).
We assume that actual authority in deep space is in the hands
of the Spacefleet and not the Star Law.
- The defense of individual planets is the responsibility of
their armies and militias. This is certainly true for civilized
planets. Whether the armed forces are made up of volunteers,
inductees, or mercenaries would depend upon the planetary government,
its population and resources, etc. (in other words, the referee).
It is safe to assume that matters of immediate local defense
(riots, revolutions, massive pirate raids, etc.) usually fall
under the authority of a planetary army and the space fleet it
uses for orbital defense.
- Every large city will have its own police force to guard its
citizenry and maintain law and order. Some planets might have
police with wider territorial authority for counties, states,
provinces, nations, or continents.
- Although the interstellar company most often referred to in
the Star Frontiers game is the Pan-Galactic Corporation, the Knight
Hawks Campaign Book notes that it is only one of a half-dozen
similar mega-corporations in the Frontier. It seems obvious that
each mega-corp would want their own security force to guard their
property and interests, to investigate industrial espionage, etc.
No one mega-corp security force would be trusted by any other
to always stay within its corporate authority.
- In addition to the above, innumerable other law enforcement
agencies would be at work: high-tech mercenaries hired by rich
individuals as body guards, private investigative firms licensed
to operate locally or planet-wide, and so forth.
As you might guess, the problem of interplanetary security is
a big one. If the theft of a Pan-Galactic Executive Vice President's
personal belongings occurred, it would bring in Pan-Galactic's
Security Force, any private firms the VP had employed, and (if
notified) all planetary authorities. If the felon were loose
on the planet, that might bring in all planetary investigators
authorized to keep local peace. If certain major crimes were
committed during the robbery, say the theft of a government shuttle
for a getaway, the armed forces might now be involved.
However, if the fugitive leaves the planet and escapes into deep
space, would the Spacefleet be involved? What happens if one
of the possessions stolen was a device that would be of interest
to a hostile alien race? Could a Port Loren beat cop try to arrest
a Sathar in deep space? Obviously, there must be a law enforcement
agency with far-reaching powers and jurisdiction that can work
with different local agencies while transcending their limitations.
This is the job of Star Law.
The exact crimes and jurisdictional areas that Star Law would
be involved with can be laid out by individual game referees.
What is given here is a suggested organizational structure for
Star Law. We hear a lot about the Rangers, a glamorous branch
of Star Law, but in fact they are only one small part of a stellar
agency dedicated to galactic peace.
We know that Star Law Headquarters is located in the city of Port
Loren on the planet Gran Quivera ("The Hub of the Frontier
Sector") in the Prenglar system. We also know there is a
Star Law base on Morgaine's World in the same system. Beyond
this, we can create some "basic facts" as a foundation
for Star Law.
- A Star Law base exists on every civilized world of any size
in the Frontier Sector. These bases range from large complexes
to one-man offices, depending upon that world's needs.
- Star Law itself does not own a great fleet of ships or an
army of combat vehicles. Each base would probably have an array
of fast, light armed vehicles for planetary and interplanetary
transportation, such as flit-boards, rocket bikes, skimmers, etc.
- Star Law would not have vast armies of combat personnel because
the UPF and individual planetary governments would not want a
powerful Star Law undermining their own powers and authority.
Instead, Star Law would have numerous agents with wide-ranging
authority who would not pose a threat to city or regional police
forces or planetary armies.
- Star Law personnel would have the power to call the UPF's
attention to major transgressions by city or planetary governments,
though they try to avoid matters arising from local politics.
They can get military assistance from Spacefleet or other authorities
if deemed necessary by the UPF Security Council. An individual
Star Law agent's firepower would be impressive since he must often
uphold the law when working with few allies. An average Star
Law mission team would include 2-6 members.
- Any ventures beyond the Frontier "on the Rim" (as
the unexplored and possibly dangerous systems are called) or into
alien space (neutral or enemy) would be officially undertaken
by Star Law. Any unofficial ventures would be made by mercenaries,
bounty hunters, etc.
- Residents of the Frontier Sector who are not of the four main
races but who have clean records and initiative might also be
Star Law officers. Indeed, when dealing with the Rim, they might
be more desirable as agents than one of the major races.
- All investigations of known hostile races (Sathar, Mechanons,
Zuraqqor, etc.) would be made under the authority of Star Law.
A Star Law agent's authority level would be very great in this
- Investigations dealing with possible crimes committed by Star
Law personnel would be handled by a special branch of Star Law
Internal Affairs that answers only to the UPF Security Council.
- All investigations of other established security forces (Spacefleet,
world armies, etc.) or interplanetary governing bodies (such as
the United Planetary Federation) would be handled by special investigation
committees appointed by the Star Law Captain-General.
- Under article 15 of the Securities Act, a Star Lawman of Ranger
rank or above may commandeer any ship, private or UPF-owned, not
engaged in an active defense of UPF space for the purposes of
pursuing enemy agents in or out of the Frontier.
- Under article 12 of the Securities Act, a Star Lawman of any
rank can impose Stellar Law in a city, county, or continent if
he deems it necessary to maintain civil obedience.
- Under article 13 of the Securities Act, a Star Lawman of Ranger
rank or above may also impose Stellar Law on an entire planet
if he deems if necessary to maintain civil obedience.
- Under article 14 of the Securities Act, the Star Law Captain-General
may impose Stellar Law on an entire system if he deems it necessary
to maintain civil obedience or UPF security. Only the UPF Security
Council can declare Stellar Law on the entire Frontier.
- Star Law retains its authorities during both peacetime and
Star Law Ranking
Although there are many different positions with Star Law and
various grades within those positions, there are only a few that
Star Frontiers players or referees need concern themselves with.
The titles and definitions of those positions are:
- Star Law Deputy Officer (DO): A Star Law DO is a rookie officer,
fresh out of the academy. He or she is in effect a lower-grade
City Officer and is assigned to assist someone of a higher rank,
usually a full City Officer. After a period of time, usually
one to three years, the Deputy Officer is evaluated and may be
promoted to a higher grade. On rare occasions, a DO might be
promoted into positions as high as Chief Agent, depending upon
his background, skills, and abilities. A Star Law DO cannot be
immediately promoted to Ranger status, however.
- Star Law City Officer (CO): A Star Law CO may have many Deputy
Officers below him. Usually a CO is a Star Lawman who has authority
only over a particular city. COs work only in major cities on
highly advanced planets.
- Star Law Planetary Officer (PO): A Planetary Officer may have
many Deputy Officers below him; on major civilized planets, he
may command some COs as well. A Planetary Officer cannot exercise
his authority on another planet unless ordered to do so by his
Commanding Officer as Port Loren.
- Star Law Deputy Agent (DA): Star Law DAs may command numbers
of Deputy Officers, POs, and COs. A Deputy Agent governs investigations
that assist other law enforcement and security forces. DAs can
command POs and COs in their planetary system only.
- Star Law Chief Agent (CA): A Chief Agent is one rank above
the DA and can command all officers below his rank. He has the
power to override the authority of the security forces within
his planetary system when dealing with investigations there.
A CA is extremely powerful within his system.
- Star Law Ranger: Rangers are a sort of cross between DAs and
CAs in authority, except they can exercise their power in any
system within the Frontier Sector. They operate one level above
CAs in the Star Law chain of command, but usually work with other
security forces rather than commanding them. Rangers are usually
called in when hostile alien intrigue is suspected (Sathar plots
- Star Law Marshals: This unusual position is usually awarded
to Rangers whose jurisdiction extend into the Rim systems. Some
Marshals patrol the Rim exclusively. They have authority over
other Star Law Rangers and all lower ranks. Their numbers are
few and turnover is high. They usually work alone.
- Star Law Commanders: A Star Law Commander is a Marshal empowered
to venture into alien space. He has complete authority to operate
in the UPF's best interests there. In the Frontier and Rim, he
can command all of the above levels of Star Lawmen. Commanders
are the only persons in the Star Law who can legally kill an intelligent
lifeform without any evidence but their own word. Only a handful
of Commanders exist, and they report to the UPF Security Council
along with the Star Law Captain-General.
Other sections of Star Law that might come into play are:
- Star Law Posse: A group of Star Law Troopers whose mission
is to help out Star Lawmen in trouble. They can only be assembled
by a Marshal, Commander, or Star Law HQ. Their stats are usually
normal for their race, and they should be armed and armored competitively
by the referee. NOTE: The posse does not exist to haul the player's
"afterburners" out of the fire all the time. They can
help if the referee has swamped the players with foes.
- Star Law Penal Officers: The worst criminals in the Frontier
Sector are kept at certain penal colonies. Maintaining these
secluded prisons and the transport ships that conduct prisoners
there is the business of Star Law Penal Officers. Outside of
their penal functions, they operate at Deputy Officer rank.
- Star Law Internal Affairs Agents: When investigating Star
Lawmen, IA agents have the command capability of a Marshal.
- Star Law Undercover Agents: While most Star Lawmen can go
undercover, these agents are in "deep cover." They
have maintained their cover for years and may not even reveal
themselves to player characters, but can pass information to them
secretly. They usually only answer to Star Law Marshals, Commanders,
or HQ, and are found in high risk areas such as the Rim.
Star Law Authority
All Star Lawmen have the following powers in addition to those
- The authority to detain, pursue, and warn or arrest anyone
within their jurisdiction who breaks the law. The decision to
warn or arrest is at the Star Lawman's discretion and dependent
upon such factors as past record, severity of crime (speeding
vs. possession of a weapon), attitude of lawbreaker, etc.
- The authority to commandeer any vehicle and pilot it, or cause
it to be piloted, in excess of normal legal regulations, in an
attempt to fulfill section 1. This authority does not include
any overt actions that unnecessarily threaten society.
- The authority to search a premises in an attempt to fulfill
section 1 if due cause exists. In those cases where Star Law
Command can be contacted immediately for confirmation, such must
be obtained. In those cases where Star Law Command is more than
ten minutes communications distance away and the Star Lawman
decides that this wait is to the detriment of or dangerous to
society, the Star Lawman may gain access to the premises in any
fashion possible. In cases where a Star Lawman is in pursuit
of a criminal or lawbreaker or is witness to a criminal act, then
the Star Lawman may gain access to the premises in any fashion
- The authority to protect society, himself, or private property
(in that order), whether in an attempt to fulfill section 1 or
in the normal course of his activities, by whatever means necessary
excluding measures which may be more harmful than that which is
threatening society, himself, or private property.
- The authority to close down any establishment, business, or
operation which is either breaking a law or endangering society
and the common good until the appropriate agency, governmental
department, or proper level of authority can investigate the problem.
(In some cases, the Star Lawman himself must investigate the
Obviously, the Star Lawmen have a much greater level of authority
than normal law enforcement agents, but they also have a much
greater responsibility. Because of this, the screening of Star
Law applicants is incredibly detailed and thorough, and includes
Telol injections, psychoprobes, and rigorous indoctrination.
In the entire history of Star Law (127 years), there has never
been a recorded instance of a "bad apple" getting through
the screening, though some Lawmen have gone bad after years of
stress and exposure to the criminal element.
To placate an always suspicious public, recent innovations such
as the file computer and recorder helmet have been introduced
into the Star Law ranks, especially among Lawmen working in highly
dangerous or urban areas. The file computer is a specialized
computer that does nothing but record information verbally fed
into it by a Star Lawman. These 15 cm. square devices are then
tied into Star Law's mainframe computers at the end of every shift,
and their info is dumped into the general information pool. Star
Lawmen thus create a running account of their own activities,
an open "file" on various suspects, and recordings of
eyewitness accounts and testimonies. The info-pool contains a
vast wealth of current information that can be made available
whenever it is needed to Star Lawmen only.
A recorder helmet operates in much the same way and even has a
file computer built into it, but also has a tiny visual scanner/recorder
built into it that can record the case visually as well. The
helmet can either be broadcast to a local recording facility or
use micro-disks in the built-in recorder to store the images.
Termination of Cases and Reassignment
A Star Lawman under the rank of Ranger can be called off a case
or have his case closed by either a personal directive or general
reassignment, both issued by Star Law Headquarters. Star Law
Rangers can only have their cases closed or be reassigned by personal
directive from Star Law HQ. Star Law Marshals cannot have their
cases closed, but can be reassigned, but only by the Star Law
Captain-General, and then another Star Lawman of equal or higher
rank must take over their cases. Star Law Commanders cannot be
reassigned or have their cases closed, but they can be recalled
by the Star Law Captain-General for briefing or debriefing. Star
Law Commanders can be forcibly retired, but another Star Law Commander
must take over the case, and the entire casefile and official
actions ordered are reported to the Security Council to prevent
Obviously, the number of scenarios that can be built upon the
needs of the different types of Star Lawmen listed above is far
greater than those for a "one-level" Star Law. Game
referees might wish to start players as Star Law Deputy Officers
and bring them "up through the ranks." The point at
which PCs are promoted should be determined by the referee and
should depend less on the PC skill levels than on how PCs conduct
themselves on cases. As in any law enforcement organization,
the remuneration may not be high, but the excitement and satisfaction
of a job well done is often reward enough.