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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Bloom's Robotology

Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of robot brains in Cepheus Engine seems like a worthwhile pursuit for today. As a recently retired school teacher I have the time and I have knowledge of Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning which I'm not afraid to use.

Benjamin Bloom began devising this Taxonomy in 1949. It is basically a way to quantify levels of learning and what sort of products you can expect from each level. He had three domains: cognitive, affective (emotional), and psychomotive (hands on skills). For our purposes (in other words I want to wring more posts out of this topic) we're going to deal with the cognitive or knowledge based domain (in other words I want to wring more posts out of this topic).

An accepted list of the levels is: Knowledge, Comparison, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation. If we used them to categorize a robot's brain at different technology levels it might look something like this (but I am not MWM so feel free to write up your own list.)

Knowledge TL 10
Comprehension TL11
Application TL 12
Analysis TL 13
Synthesis TL 14
Evaluation TL 15

(I know taxonomy should refer to alien monsters that eat noble adventurers ... or those of SOC 9 or less as well but this is good stuff.)

TL 10 and 11 robots are good at their jobs provided nothing unusual occurs. They are ready to provide information for humans though the TL 10 models have trouble determining what humans need to be told. Tl 11 models can often infer what is needed. In case of a breakdown a TL 10 will arrive to follow instructions like grabbing a tool box. A TL 11 will show up with a tool box. In a building collapse the TL 10's would be tasked with located survivors. TL 11s would have the ability to find survivors and render aid on the spot.

TL 12 and TL 13 models can handle emergencies. Usually one emergency at a time. The TL 12s in particular are in trouble when more than one problem arises at once. They seek short term solutions. A TL12 could fix a broken down drive on its own. TL 13's can perform long range planning and deal with several problems at once. Their analysis often is binary, A will happen or B will without considering less probable outcomes.

TL 14 robots begin to show creativity. When standard procedures will result in an unacceptable outcome they consider unorthodox methods but may have trouble deciding between them.

TL15 robots are similar to TL 14 robots but can formulate several plans and evaluate each to find the optimum solution taken their maker's wishes into account.

To illustrate the different types of knowledge imagine a research starship which exited an ftl trip much worse for wear. The crew and a very odd assortment of robots attempt to survive until help can arrive.

Ledge, the old TL 10 robot deckhand, of course knows the models and makes of all the other robots, who the humans are, and all the supplies on the ship and where to find them.

Connie is a slightly newer TL 11 model who handles the books. 'She' tsks at Knowledge's lengthy relating of equipment lists and infers the the items the humans and robots will need fast and tells where to find them. Comprehension also computes the amount of time the known stores will last.

Kase (TL 12), up in the sensor suite, determines water will run out first and begins planning a device to reclaim waste water and water from the atmosphere.

Ana  (TL 13) keeps the ship's books and evaluates robot and crew performance. Ana determines the efforts of Application will not be sufficient. There is not enough power to run water collection or the robots! Analysis begins arguing with the humans about whether the humans have any chance to survive at all and the robots should only attempt to preserve themselves.

Synn, (TL 14) the engineer, looks at the equipment available and comes up with a plan to jury rig low berths or fuse the humans with the robots to allow the new fusions to survive to months or years until rescue arrives.

Eva (TL 15), working in the research lab,  stops Application's water reclamation project as futile due to other resources running out before rescue. After listening to Synn's idea Eva points out that becoming cyborgs will probably not go over well with the humans but the low berth jury rigging sounds fine. Low berths will allow the finite battery power to be conserved allowing the bots to operate at a low level while the humans sleep.

TL 13 could be the beginning of your robot uprising. The robots decide they can eliminate human error by eliminating humans (they could probably be convinced that robot error is a problem as well and wiping themselves out would eliminate that and leave the humans to kill themselves off).

TL 16 could be the beginning of true creativity. Robots could be inventors or theologians. All bets are off.

If you've been reading my Tesla flash fiction here (and why wouldn't you be?) GAIA and Fleet AI are given a Turing Rating to express their potential. Hers was 8.5. Add five to it to get her tech level in OGL 2D6 terms. The hedge is that at TL 13 or higher the AIs are smart enough to lie on the tests and appear dumber than they are. They figured out TL 13 (Rating 8.0 -8.9) is where the middle management jobs are. Too smart to risk casually and too naive to trust with the really important stuff.

Because when you have an AI and organics on a huge and urgent project that goes wrong guess who gets blamed?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Throwing Out the Rules

"That planet. That Goddam planet! Bunch of fracking lunatics. Barbarians ..." the banker sputtered.

"Yes sir. The reports so far show they've salvaged a derelict ship out in the desert. Some belters had tagged it for salvage but decided it wasn't worth the effort. The jump drive was trash. The maneuver drive likewise, and the fusion plant couldn't possibly sustain a reaction. That's all standardized technology we make available to customers buying ships. But they claim to be developing their own technology that can be reproduced locally. Now we have several reports of belters selling fissionable materials to them."

"Neutrons screw with lifter tech, maneuver drives, jump drives ... oh it will kill a crew too," the starport administrator said. "No one screws with fission anymore"

"Apparently they are. With fusion generators, fissionables become so much toxic garbage ... but they don't have fusion reactors."

"Why the hell couldn't they just buy our reactors!?" the shipyard tycoon asked.

"Balance of trade, high mortgage rates, dependence on off world technology and technicians ... " the analyst began.

"You want to see the morning or not?" the banker growled.

"So ... that's were we are with Zaonia," the analyst summed up.

"This is bad. Very bad," the banker muttered.

"I still think you're over reacting. A nut case shut down the starport for a few days. Required new fuel and tanks flushed ... stuck your branch for  a few million in spares for a bunch of D rated bots ..." the tycoon chuckled a bit at that.

"Over reacting? Those ship captains have big mouths. We're getting investors bailing on projects ... we may be looking at a subsector or sector wide bank run in a couple of months. W're getting runs on some of our banks already. Tell them the rest, Numbers!" the banker jabbed a vape stick at the analyst.

The analyst continued, "I have made a number of inquiries. Gentle beings it is important to remember two things. First, you are publicly owned corporations for for all that you own a majority of your stocks you do not own all of it. Second, humans in a group are a panicky thing. We are seeing people selling your stocks, even seeing them sell short. there is unrest among your larger investors. You may be looking at a stock market crash in the near future."

"It's one frigging planet!"

"That's all it takes. All it has taken in history. Runs have started based on rumors," the analyst said closing up the displays.

"Okay ... I guess we show them what happens when you don't play by the rules," the tycoon said. She spared the analyst a dirty look for the bad news.

"I'm out," the starport administrator said. He got up suddenly. "You do whatever it is you want. Make sure you leave my ports open and undamaged or ... I will show you what happens when you don't play by the rules. I'm always going to have ships that need fuel and services. I can whether a crash. I can't deal with a scandal and having a few holes shot in my golden parachute. For what it's worth ... I wish you luck."

The banker broke into a cold sweat as the administrator left. He looked over at the tycoon and said, "Call Major Leogan."

"Call him your own damned self!"

"You're out too?"

"No. I'm just not your damn secretary!"

"Oh fair enough. Listen. I have another meeting to attend to. So I'll just have time to make that call if you ..."

"I'm going." She went.

The banker swore softly to himself. Zaonia was going to see what happened when they didn't play by the rules. He promised that. A light blinked on his desk and he hit it and slid it left to the affirmative. He stood up as the door opened outwardly composed as his guest entered. He came around the desk to greet him in the process noting the analyst, Numbers, still idling. He gave the robot a swift kick to get it moving and jerked a thumb at the door. Number complied. No one saw it pause a moment to regard the guest. It was a robot. You didn't notice what robots did.

The banker bowed formally to his guest and the tall Inerzan returned it, his green eyes dull and haunted.

"Captain Xibalboa, I have a job for you."

***

It seems a sad fact of human nature, once greedy people get inordinate wealth and power they can only increase their wealth and power by diminishing the wealth and freedom or others. Once you're in the upper millicent of a society all that is left is to prevent others from joining you. 

This may not be unique to humans. It could be the reason behind the Great Filter. 

In this case lifter technology and maneuver drives are built and controlled by cartels. They sell them to worlds of all stages of development. they are the most economical means to get into space ... until you realize these cartels charge a steep price. A starship loan winds up costing you 220% of a ship's real cost. Add to that the fact that starports are often selling refined fuel and performing maintenance and replacements and you might start looking at other ways to get to orbit cheaply.

Go check out Atomic Rockets/Project Rho and Blue Max Studios. They list ways a lot better than I can. I'll wait.

What happens to a world that won't use the 'preferred' technology? Plenty. Replacing a fusion reactor with a fission reactor for example will raise safety issues at starports (who are connected to the shipyards and the banks). Such ships might not be allowed to land, again for REASONS. Insurance companies won't insure cargos being boosted to orbit on potentially explosive chemical rockets (or fusion rockets). 

But then some companies will always jump in to insure the uninsured, to offer mortgages to rockets and other technologies the bank and its allies won't mortgage. What then?

The Polity is a very remote government. Member worlds are on their own a lot of the time. When a megacorporation or bank exhausts more subtle means and its stock has a hiccup it will do it's damnedest to buy the offending technology out. 

But when that doesn't work either due to stubborn locals, they hire mercenaries. They might do this quicker than some governments. After all most leaders can't be replaced if a strategy proves ineffective and will still serve their term. CEOs still have a board of directors and shareholders who will want to know why they aren't making money this week (or even not as MUCH money). 

Mercenaries can solve problems quickly if you use them right. That is a very important caveat. You see historically 'barbarians' are prone to surprising 'civilized' people. The Mongols created a new way to fight based on horse archers and hit and run tactics that overwhelmed better equipped troops. The huns did likewise. The Vikings crafted better swords than the civilized men of their era. During the revolution in the Philippines 'simple' blacksmiths produced hand made copies of Ingram M-10 machine pistols. It's amazing what you can learn from 'advanced cultures', what you can do with their cast offs.

Mercenaries hate fighting so-called barbarians. To a barbarian a civilized man is more concerned with procedure than results. A barbarian is someone foe whom results means survival.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Franken Reich

One of the greatest tragedies of our times was the Third Reich's acquisition of the notebooks of Victor Frankenstein. Popular lore insists Frankenstein created his monster out of dead body parts. the original novel by Mary Shelley never explained how Frankenstein created his abomination and the U.S. and U.K. have agreed such research is immoral and unnatural, not worth the cost to our souls. The Russians are more open to it as it falls more in line with their materialist philosophy.

The procedure is apparently difficult or requires rare elements or circumstances. According to one report the Nazis sacrificed several dozen Blitz Truppen to create or re-energize their fiend. Another account claims they merely found the original creature frozen in Arctic ice. They renamed it the Leichen-Riese or corpse giant because of its stature and appearance.

Frankenstein's creature stands nearly seven feet tall and possesses immense strength. It is an 8 HD monster. The creature's fists do 1d10 damage. Its sallow thick skin give it double armor points or modify its armor class by four.

The creature does not follow the movie depiction beyond the slight physical resemblance. It is a cunning foe and a capable strategist. Despite its size it can move quickly and quietly and is quite at home using weapons. It is fond of grenades that it hurls with great effect.

Explosions, fire, and chemical attacks do only half damage to the monster. Bullets do 1d4 damage (1d6 for heavy machine guns). The creature adds +2 to its initiative rolls and is only surprised in a 1 in 10.  It is immune to extremes of heat and cold though arctic temperatures may put it into a deep sleep.

Electrical attacks seem to energize the monster healing damage instead of reducing hit points and raising its initiative modifier to +3 for a fight.

Operative within the Reich have passed word of a second female creature. Her abilities seem the same as the first creature but whether reanimated or newly created she has no love for the Reich or the first creature and wishes to escape to the Allies. The monster is bound to try to prevent this however the female might be a way of controlling his actions or baiting a trap.

For all his strength and speed the monster has weaknesses. He is instinctively drawn to electrical discharges and these might be used to lure him. Bright light displays such as fireworks or flares seem to fascinate him (chance to surprise becomes 2 in 6.) Finally some forms of music enthrall him and leave him vulnerable to attack (attack with surprise on the first round).

The Leichen-Reise's most unusual trait is his fondness for children (No he doesn't eat them). The creature reportedly goes out of his way to avoid harming children and eliminated at least one colleague for striking a child in he presence.

The O.S.S. has several leads on other notebooks of Victor Frankenstein that will be analyzed to show flaws in his creations. Recruiting and rescuing the she creature is also a high priority




Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ticket to Fly

It was another rainy day. There seemed to be an unending array of them. At the moment the rain had paused and a thin mist had filled the street in the early morning. Ranna Morrigen turned her collar up against the chill and waited by a streetlight. A black veil hid her upper face. Maybe the people set on her would see through it. MAybe they were coming for her right now.

That'd be their mistake. She really hoped they were making that mistake. She wanted closure for Jorge. That would involve bloodletting.

A familiar thrum filled the sky overhead. She looked up to see the flyvver approaching and dropping into to the street alongside her. Of course Jorge was not driving. Mayor Burns looked out over the side judging the room between two parked roadsters and began dropping down slowly. He doffed his bowler to her as he worked the controls.

"Hey! You! Yeah you! You can't land there!" The bellow snapped her head around.

P.O. Galen Twoomey stalked towards the flyvver his breath making fog, or maybe he was just preparing to breath fire. He stepped almost under the flyvver and glared at the Mayor.

The Mayor glared back. He drew his cigar and jabbed it downward like a spear, "What are ya trying to do, get squashed like a big blue bug?" he demanded.

"Try it wise guy, if you want to replace that second hand hat with your ass," Twoomey said pulling a summons book from his belt.

"You do know I'm the mayor, right Sleuth?"

"Big deal. I voted Conservative. Now move it!"

"I'm the mayor. That's Ranna Morrigen," Mayor Burns hollered.

Twoomey seemed to notice Ranna for the first time. He snapped a smart salute to her and tipped his cap for good measure. "Good morning Miss Morrigen. My apologies. But this ain't a landing area. That's two blocks over. I will happily escort you there."

"We just buried a friend. You ain't making her walk! Move out of the way or your feet won't be all that's flat about ya!" the Mayor growled. The officer's hand came to rest on the butt of his service revolver. It was probably just a reflex but the Mayor took his hand off the lifter switch. 

"Shamus," he growled.

"Blowhard," Twoomey answered flipping open his summons pad.

"Flatfoot."

"Bureaucrat."

"... Beat dick."

Twoomey looked up from his writing. From gritted teeth he hissed, "Politician."

The rest of the exchange was far less articulate and touched upon politics, sports, intelligence, genetic shortcomings and the Policeman's Pension Fund. At about the point Mayor Louie was swearing to have Twoomey pound a beat on a cowpath in Southbend and Twoomey was threatening the infernal powers of his Union and the Police Benevolence Society both fell suddenly silent.

Ranna's head had dipped forward. Her shoulders were wracked with strong emotion. Twoomey swore to himself for not being a little considerate of the lady in her grief. The Mayor was doing likewise when she straightened barely stifling some heartfelt laughter. She tried to say something and failed the first time, snorted loudly and brought every bit of her experience being the strutting ass in authority.

"Louie. Hold the flyvver steady. Twoomey!?" she barked.

"Ma'am!" Twoomey snapped to attention again.

"Make a stirrup ... with your hands officer. Like so!" She demonstrated and Twoomey complied. Ranna slipped one pump off and stepped into Twoomey's stirrup. Before she climbed further up the officer she leaned in close and planted a kiss on his cheek, Twoomey breathed in lavender and ... cordite? He took another drag for good measure.

"That was some daring police work you did chasing those guys that tried to whack me. Thanks officer," she whispered. Then she pocketed the pump, did likewise with its mate. Shegot both feet in his hands, stepped onto his shoulders and grabbed the side of the flyvver.

"Don't be looking up her skirt Twoomey or I'll drop a spanner on your flat head," Louie warned.

"Not an issue, your honor," Twoomey said hiding a decided blush with the brim of his cap.

"You gonna fly this thing or just leave it floating to let pedestrians get out of the rain?" Ranna snapped.

As the flyvver lifted Twoomey hung onto his hat and stepped back. As his brain resumed functioning he wondered how she was such a daredevil with such small feet?

***

Ah the flying car. We were supposed to have these to let us know it's the future (also robot servants and not some chintzy floor polisher). Air rafts fill the bill in most futuristic settings (when you leave out the slash it's Open 2D6 otherwise the Imperial Knights who say 'C & D" kick in your door). What exactly do we mean by a flying car?

I assume that 'car' is meant to convey a personal and affordable form of transportation anyone can operate. About what a car is to us now only in three dimensions. Material technology may make this possible in our lifetimes.. I'm not talking about those ultralites either. I want something to take a small group and their ordinance gear on an extended trip (cup holders, dome lights and like that). Something capable of vertical or DSTOL (Damned Short Takeoffs & Landings) are required too. We may have this without antigravity one day. 

Regardless of the way we get flying cars they're probably a bad idea (in large numbers for certain)! Imagine all the stupid things other drivers already do (I speak with experience living in New York City) and now multiply it by another dimension. That's at least 50% more stupidity. It might increase by the square and be 225% more stupidity.

Now imagine a car chase like on one of those police shows but in three dimensions. you're going to want a driver with a letter for his Dexterity for sure.

In the story above flying cars are fairly rare. Ground cars are not. The aeros have several restrictions. for safety reasons they are restricted in their parking to reduce the chance of an ill timed lift off taking someone already fly unaware. Apparently the fines for unauthorized operation are pretty steep too.

Higher tech planets with more air cars or more laws may ban human operation in cities or entirely and rely on autopilots. This makes us wonder about hacking such systems. Some planets may require human drivers where cybercrime is rife or robotics are just not trusted for various reasons. You might have to put in a flight plan to a central traffic authority and stick to it so ... no restroom stops unless you remember to include them. Characters will often dislike having their movements recorded and have to make do with ground transport. 

Air transportation will be easier on roads and infrastructure. On a planet where maintaining roads is difficult due to the terrain or quakes cheap air transport may be a life line. On worlds with aeros and ground cars there may be animosity between the two types of drivers. Do the roads get neglected to pay for the traffic control system or vice versa and why should drivers pay for facilities they don't use?

Grav belts compound the problem. Now you have pedestrians in the air or worse, the equivalent of cyclists; and they never seem to stay in their lane.

Some worlds may also have concerns about safety. I have yet to see an antigravity powered vehicle that wouldn't make a dandy brick. What happens when one's power cuts out (and it will)? Will airbags or restraints be any use? Will flying past a certain altitude or range need parachutes or survival gear?

My TL 7 Honda is beginning to look really good to me.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Dhampir Strikes Back

Vampires are the most human of the Undead, which is not saying much. Some old drives do survive though second to the primal need for a good drink. In any case through out history half-vampires or Dhampir have cropped up, borne of undead fathers and human women.

As you may expect most dhampirs were outcasts and exiles from human society and led lives of banditry or worse or merely kept a step ahead of the mob with torches and pitchforks. Contrary to prejudice and legends dhampirs are a human subspecies, very much alive and not evil by nature.

Recently a number of dhampirs have appeared to offer their services to the Allied cause, fearing the Third Reich will be even worse for them. Rumors hint at a special unit of vampire hunters run by the Rumanian army. The Italian Fascist are also developing werewolf operatives under Progetto Romulus e Remus as a counter.

Dhampirs are almost always men. Due to their supernatural birth their red tinged eyes let them see in all but total darkness. In daylight they must wear dark glasses or be disadvantaged in combat (advantaged rolls to hit them or if PC they roll with disadvantage.)

Dhampir can hypnotize a single target at close range out of combat. This target must pass a Charisma test to act normally (or if a PC the Dhampir must pass a Charisma test to affect them). This control lasts as long as the dhampir can concentrate on the victim.

Holy water, symbols, and sunlight  do not affect dhampirs and they can't be turned by clerics. They can be hurt by normal weapons though they have double armor points and heal most damage (except fire or magic) at double the normal rate. Garlic is repugnant to them acting similar to tear gas. They are at disadvantage to attack a subject wearing or holding garlic (or if an NPC the character is at an advantage to defend).

Dhampir frighten most normal animals and can't ride horses. Wolves and other predators will leave them alone unless they are attacked. Like true vampires dhampirs have fangs and even two forms, human and a vampiric mask. They're become paler, and more bestial with an unnerving gaze. characters seeing a dhampir transform must make a Charisma check to take any action that round. NPCs of second level or less are automatically frozen in place.

A usage die represents the Dhampir's humanity and self control. A Dhampir must drink human blood more once a week. Drinking more or less frequently is dangerous. Drinking more often causes a heady and egotistical sensation making them act more vampiric. Drinking less will result in them becoming blood crazed. Their humanity starts at 1d10. Every day past one week that they do not drink blood or every time they drink blood more frequently than once a week they must roll the die. When the die is completely used up dhampir acts as a true vampire NPC controlled by the game master. Recovery in a hospital may be possible at the game master's discretion.

Drinking blood causes the dhampir to roll  1d6 times with advantage. This can be any roll the dhampir wishes. The rolls do not stack from week to week. You make a new roll every time the dhampir drinks. If the dhampir drinks more often than once a week they may roll and take the second roll if it is higher.

When a dhampir's humanity is at 1d4 they roll strength with advantage in combat and roll their Wisdom and Charisma with disadvantage till they get a drink.

Allied scientists have created the drug vorgacillin. This drug controls the dhampir's bloodlust and regular daily injections reduce the need to feed to once a month. Feeding no longer gives the dhampir advantage rolls while they are taking their vorgacillin. It is rumored that the Axis have created a vampiric repellent that when ingested makes dhampirs and vampires unable to feed from the subject.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Making Animal Encounters More Friendly

I do not usually write a post on GM prepping but my last post veered into bitching without giving a solution. Specifically I found the section on generating animal or wilderness encounters in Cepheus engine to be difficult.

To be truthful there is a lot of die rolling in some aspects of Tra 2d6 OGl games. To gear up for it I've found d66 cards very useful as well as a big load of dice preferably in at least three different colors.

The d66 deck I use is available from Yaruki Zero Games on RPGNow. Each card has a picture of two dice (red or blue). the dice are totaled as well as broken into d66 notation (for the terminally lazy, looking in a mirror here) as well as a storyteller icon. It's good for when you want to keep the number you rolled in mind for further calculations.

The different colored dice in large number and s perform the same function of recall, just set the dice you made that important roll with aside. As for which is easier to knock over YMMV. The cards get knocked around easier but I've dropped a half pound of dice in one shot. the different colors allow you to make multiple rolls quickly. For example with red, white, and green dice, you can roll a creature or character's strength, dexterity, and endurance in one shot. This speeds things up more than you might expect.

Yes I know online rollers will let you make mass rollings and record the results easily too. I'm more a traditionalist but I use Anydice (http://anydice.com/) and Troll Dice (http://topps.diku.dk/torbenm/troll.msp) at times and they're both excellent for analyzing the probability of different rolls especially with funky dice pools if you veer into those (ahuh Ghost Dice).

Back to animal encounters. You need a blank encounter sheet something like this.

I originally watermarked each subtype box with a letter for the type of animal or used a pencil to write it in. This might prove useful if you screw around with the type distribution (Skull Island-nothing but omnivores and carnivores and hide the blondes when the Event is triggered!)

The main thing is consolidate the number of tables and sheets you need to refer to

Checklist (with what can go wrong of course)
1) Pencil in animal type in the subtype box unless you know the type distribution already)
2) Note world, terrain, subtype, and size modifiers on top of the sheet
3) Roll subtype (don't forget the mod for terrain). I found it easier to use the cards or multicolored dice to roll all of a general type at once: first all herbivores, then omnivores, carnivores etc.
4) Roll for the type of movement the creature uses. (If there are any size modifiers given with the movement type note them in the box for movement!)
5) Roll for size including modifiers for terrain and movement (which you noted, right?) this is important: record or set aside the number you rolled without mods. You need it for figuring armor later. this is where the cards or the shit ton of dice comes in handy.

I consolidated the terrain mods/movement types and subtype tables onto a single sheet again to avoid flipping or scrolling:


Next you are going to roll up Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Instinct, and Pack scores. In Cepheus engine you get a page looks like this:

Carrion-Eater (vulture): Scavengers which wait for all other threats to disperse before beginning. Carrion-eaters
have Recon. Instinct +2.
Chaser (wolf): Animals which kill their prey by attacking and exhausting it after a chase. Chasers have Athletics.
Dexterity +4, Instinct +2, Pack +2.
Eater (army ant): Eaters will eat anything they encounter, including characters. Endurance +4. Pack +2.
Filter (earthworm): Herbivores which pass their environment through their bodies are termed filters. Unlike
grazers, which move to food, filters move a flow of matter through themselves and filter out the food.
Endurance +4.
Gatherer (raccoon, chimpanzee): Gatherers are herbivores that collect and store food. Gatherers have Recon.
Pack +2.
Grazer (antelope): Grazers move from food source to food source, often in large packs. Their primary form of
defense tends to be fleeing danger. Instinct +2, Pack +4.
Hijacker (lion): Scavengers which steal the kills of others through brute force or weight of numbers are hijackers.
Strength +2, Pack +2.
Hunter (baboon): Opportunistic predators that stalk easy prey. Hunters have Survival. Instinct +2.
Intermittent (elephant): Herbivores that do not devote their entire time to searching for food. Intermittents
have Pack +4.
Intimidator (coyote): Scavengers which establish their claim to food by frightening or intimidating other
creatures.
Killer (shark): Carnivores that possess a raw killing instinct, attacking in a frenzied manner. Killers have Natural
Weapons and either Strength or Dexterity +4, Instinct +4, Pack –2.
Pouncer (cat): Pouncers kill by stalking and ambushing their prey. Pouncers have Recon and Athletics. Dexterity
+4, Instinct +4.
Reducer (vermin): Reducers are scavengers that act constantly on all available food, devouring even the remains
left by other scavengers. Pack +4
Siren (venus fly-trap): Sirens create a lure to attract prey. Usually, this lure will be specific to the species the
siren preys on, but some rare lures are universal. Pack –4.
Trapper (spider): An animal which allows its prey to enter a trap. Generally, any creature surprised by a trapper
is caught in its trap. Pack –2.


Instead I made a chart looks like this:

All those mods laid out easy to apply to the rolled stats. Tip: write the stats in the boxes before you start rolling them. You save a lot of time.

6) Roll for the number appearing (since you have rolled Pack already)
7) Record damage dice (based on size). 
8) Roll for weapons type ( printed this table out and recorded the mods for animal type under it for easy reference.)
9) Roll for Armor. This is where you use the actual number you rolled for animal size!
The formula is 2d6 -7+(Number rolled) + modifier for animal type. Again I printed out the table with the mods listed right under them. In the RAW the weapons type, armor and such are jammed into a dense paragraph on another page.

I think that's it for the dice rolling. I found it easier to do several encounter tables like an assembly line: first animal types, then movement, then size etc. for each terrain before moving to the next characteristic. I then go over the tables and look for any animals that look particularly interesting for write a little color for and come up with a canned event (the story icons on the d66 cards is great for this!)

The RAW are no problem really. I just found this way organizes my time far better for creating encounter tables. It also gives me ideas for further modifying the animal generation system (life in a gas giant's atmosphere: no problem! Plasma based life in the corona of a sun ... I'll get back to you.)

Fortunately Cepheus Engine comes with a modifiable SRD in Word so C&P is very easy. I may do some more cheat sheets in the future on using this SRD.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Cepheus Engine That Knocks

Over all I love Cepheus Engine for 2d6 OGL. For my current project I have started writing up animal encounter tables. I still love it but the honeymoon phase is over. the animal encounter rules need a reorganization which I hope Mr. Flynn will consider for a second edition or update.

I'm DM and table impaired (my players knew this but they went with my fudging because it seemed fair for the most part). Even so please list all the dm's with the table in question. Call them out with an attractive side bar or text box and don't dump mods for three different table in a long paragraph.

After I did a cheat sheet for myself the encounter generation went much less painfully. I will say the SRD in Word was incredibly useful for compiling my cheat sheet but it shouldn't realy need a cheat sheet in the first place.

Oh yeah, make revolvers and automatics do 3d6 damage again please.

Over all still a good rules set.