Underbelly Setting Dials

What kind of power level do you want cybernetics and psionics to have in your Starguild game? Whether you like rare and dangerous or powers that wouldn’t look out of place in a superhero movie, Adventures in the Underbelly has you covered.

Setting Dials

I had a lot of requests during the kickstarter for ‘cybernetics rules’ and ‘psionics rules’ and as you know I’m preparing a supplement which describes how those can be integrated into the Starguild rules and the campaign setting.

However, what kind of cybernetics should there be? How powerful should the psionics be? I strongly felt that we couldn’t have one size fits all here. In particular, my vision of cybernetics and psionics in the system is gritty and low key, but that isn’t going to be true for everybody. Some people will want to have more dramatic abilities in these veins – their mental calibration will have been set from different parameters from mine.

So what I’ve decided to do is provide “Setting Dials” in the supplement. The default level is ‘Noir’, but the GM and players could decide that for their game they want to dial it down to ‘Gritty’ or dial it up to ‘Pulp’. If someone wants, they could have different dials for the two different illegal technologies, such as Noir Cybernetics and Gritty Psionics (or vice versa).


A gritty setting is one in which cybernetics or psionics are rarer, and more dangerous to use. For cybernetics the risk of cyber-psychosis as a result of your cybernetic enhancements is higher, and the effect is longer lasting. For psionics the dangers inherent in pushing your powers is much higher – you will take lethal damage rather than stun damage for pushing things too far.


The default noir setting finds cybernetics and psionics available, but not quite so dangerous to use. There is still a risk of cyber-psychosis, but it doesn’t hit you until a little later. You can still take damage which pushing your psionics powers but it will be stun damage rather than lethal damage.


Pulp is the setting which has extra wahoo to it. There is a special symbol which I use to indicate cybernetics or psionics powers which are only appropriate in Pulp settings. These are things which start to look more like superpowers, whether it is jetboots in bionic legs and lasers in cybernetic eyes, or psionically creating explosive detonations or phasing through obstacles.

I wonder which would be your preferred setting? Gritty, Noir or Pulp?

Cover Photo by Ian Espinosa from Unsplash