NPC Villain: Fleet Captain Sem

Captain Sem is the key villain who motivates the plot in the early part of the Deeps of Lyrae campaign. I often like to design the entire character sheet for very important NPCs, even though it is not strictly necessary. Here is my design for Captain Sem.


Captain Sem serves as deputy commander of the 261st Imperial Fleet (covered in a future post). He’s the executive officer, second only to elderly Rear Admiral Lord Nellis. Sem’s duty station is normally to assist Nellis at the naval base on Freedom’s Reach. Admiral Nellis is in his dotage, and largely spends his time writing speeches for ceremonial events. This means that Sem has extremely wide latitude to actually run things—in fact, he has too much latitude.

The current threat to demobilize the Falconets (see the plot) is of no concern to Admiral Nellis, Sem’s superior. If the fleet is beached Nellis will take the retirement that he was already looking forward to. But Sem sees the threat to the 261st as the single most important event of his life—it represents the possible destruction of his life’s work, as well as possibly an opportunity to finally launch him to fame and glory he feels that he deserves.


Any officer who has sailed with Captain Sem thinks Sem is a self-centered, careerist jerk, and that impression is accurate. He will pursue any means to execute his secret plan. When he works to entrap the (mostly) innocent PCs, Sem isn’t kidding himself: he’s not rationalizing his monstrous actions as done for the greater good. He’s doing what he needs to do in order to get what he wants.


The PCs will effectively acquire Sem as an Enemy during the course of campaign play, but since this will happen during gameplay it is not noted on the character sheet and the point value doesn’t matter.

Sem is an extraordinarily powerful enemy. He commands thousands of people and all of the resources of the Imperial Navy in the Deeps of Lyrae. This is a force of 34 warships and their associated support ships, troops, bases, vehicles, weapons, and logistical assets. As there are no significant naval installations in Lyrae other than his fleet, he’s the number two naval officer in the entire subsector. Nobles, planetary governors, and a few merchants might be more important than Sem, but Imperials like Sem aren’t subject to civilian authority. In fact, Sem has the power to legally commandeer police, mercenary, merchant, and other civilian ships and personnel to assist him as necessary. (Since he is extremely well staffed and equipped already, this may never be necessary.)

Task Force Zero

Captain Sem has used the carte blanche given to him by his superior officer to sortie the cruiser INS Gauntlet from the flag squadron at Freedom’s Reach. He’s also taken four destroyers and a handful of patrol and supply ships. He has designated them “Task Force Zero” and announced that their mission orders are a “detached patrol” with no fixed destination or length for the purpose of an inspection tour. Captain Sem has taken personal command of Task Force Zero from the INS Gauntlet. In the early part of the campaign he will position himself and his ships and troops near the PCs to record and manipulate them, with reserve units placed in nearby systems to track and follow the party should things take an unexpected turn. To start, he’ll be on Family Whee, the starting planet, with Task Force Zero in close orbit.

Whenever his orders don’t seem to fit an inspection tour (or if they seem illegal), he’ll use naval discipline to get his way. If pressed by his subordinates, he states that Task Force Zero is actually pursuing classified objectives that originate from Sector Command. If Sem is really pressed, he’ll say that although the force’s actions might seem strange, they are just a small part of a greater plan to thwart a serious threat to Imperial security. This story is a complete lie.

Of course, the players won’t know that Sem is hovering behind the scenes. (Or in the sky, with Task Force Zero.) He will appear to them in disguise, if he appears at all, as his machinations attempt to entrap them into becoming terrible space pirates. Then he’ll catch them. Then he’ll execute them. Or so he hopes.

Here is the character sheet.

Sometimes I think of him as looking like character actor Wesley Eddy in the 1950s.


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