Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Doorways to Luna

The post on Luna's engines has to wait a bit. I know what I want them to do and I am in correspondence with wiser heads as to what that entails. So this post deals with Luna's main airlocks.

Luna has four largish airlocks around her hull near the stern (which is the bottom in tail landers). Each one is on the Machine Shop Deck.

Why so many airlocks? Well they aren't all what you would consider an airlock.

All right dammit, there's a fifth airlock. But Ill get to that in another post!
The lock by the ladder is the main personnel lock. It can easily hold four people in spacesuits, even the big armored dieselpunk types. It gives access to the Machine Deck for a simple reason. People entering the ship from a walk on, say the Moon, will have dust and grit from their spacesuits. That grit has to end up somewhere. The Machine Shop already has additional filters built into the air vents there to deal with shavings and other cast off metal bits and vacuums and similar equipment to clean up as well. The deck also has far less machinery vulnerable to such debris and personnel habitually wear protective goggles and breathing masks. The upshot is dust does less damage there than elsewhere on the Luna.

The black boxes over the locks have lateral sensors. The sensor box over each lock has a light to illuminate the lock for people boarding. The locks are high off the ground because the personnel wear lift belts and can easily jump up and grab a ladder rung. Locals without belts would find it harder to get onboard though you could throw a friend a rope.

The airlock to the right of the main lock. Instead of an inner door to very heavily armored suits stand here with their back hatches mated to similar port on the inner bulkhead. To use the lock you open a suit's backpack and climb into the suit. Your lovely (or handsome) assistant then shuts your backpack hatch up and off you go. The lock also has heavy duty clean up gear incase you come back doused in toxic goo or radioactive dust. With the outer door shut you can disengage a suit and shove it out of the way to enter the lock and exit the ship. 

The lock to the left isn't a lock at all really. It's a closet for tools and gear used outside the ship. A small airlock on the inner bulkhead lets personnel pass equipment or stores to spacesuited crew in the lock (usually with some choice comments about forget their head if they weren't strongly attached.) A pair or armored and vacuum tight sleeves on the inner bulkhead also let crew lend a helping hand to crew outside.

The final lock has a very large launch system for a magnetic grapple. This is used to grab another ship for boarding or rescue or to help with berthing. Some ships remove the grapple entirely to allow the full use of the lock.

In an emergency the crew have light weight metal mesh slides that can be used to drop supplies and passengers quickly from the lock. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dieselpunk Manifesto Episode Four

This picks up with strip #30 of the Buck Rogers' strip and reviews 30-39.

When we last left our intrepid duo Buck was left stranded in the Southwest desert and Wilma was in the clutches of the Han Emperor and to get her memories wiped after a dramatically appropriate period.

Well Buck isn't too intrepid. He gets rolled by a couple of generic murder hobos as soon as he snoozes and is left to walk the rest of the way, no food, no water. He's nearly buried in an avalanche, drinks brackish water and somehow doesn't puke and gets his with a sandstorm. All this time Wilma is a captive in the lap of luxury and told she is about to be made the Emperor's favorite!

You gotta wonder what Buck was like before he got buried in that mineshaft. Was he an axe murderer or serial peeping tom? Because his karma seems to be black since strip 27.

Seriously if Buck bought stock in North American Inertron that shit would stop falling up.

He finally falls afoul of two more murder hobos who make the grave error of attacking Rogers when he is awake and facing them. Remember what I said about 25th Century folks being inferior in the art of dishing out knuckle sandwiches? Buck is about to beat the snot out of them when an airplane from the Navaho Org shows up and starts strafing the tramps. Fortunately they slow up and use a rocket pistol to scare them off so Rogers survives. The Commander introduces herself as Nunah and takes him back to her Boss ... who locks him up!

The Columbus Org Boss blew the whistle on Buck stealing their only plane (he probably accused him of winning his duel with Kane by cheating for good measure). Rogers is going to be held and tried for treason. Well what'd you expect? The Orgs are under military rule and Rogers just stole their only scout plane. What if they needed it for something crucial? Like I dunno, carrying dispatches instead of trusting them to a nut from the dark ages and his groupie (sorry but Wilma's acted that way the last few issues)?

Things look bleak but there are some tried and true pulp traditions. When things get boring a guy with a disintegrator walks into the panel, Buck and Wilma are idiots when it comes to expressing their feelings like adults, and when the chips are absolutely down your hero will be offered an escape by either a disgruntled minion or a beautiful woman.

Buck's luck finally changes as it is the beautiful Nunah who offers to let him out of the Org's underground guardhouse!

I note that as you travel further westward the Orgs seem to have less resources and be very well camouflaged. By the time you crossed the Appalachians Han airships and troops were really not tyrranizing and terrorizing with any gusto. As you got closer to the West Coast things were hurting for the Americans (murder hobo attacks were up 40% as well).

I also note that unlike Arm:2419, the Han are the ones with the magical sensors that can tune any view you wish. In fact this intrigues Wilma and she begins acting more like a resistant than arm candy. It is an important divergence from Arm: 2419, where the Americans had technology using an entirely different spectrum the Han didn't even suspect.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Close Shave

Doc: Where the heck are you going?

Mukh: I can't watch!

Tivk: Doctor ... you are a competent surgeon but this is ill advised.

Nok: Bitching.

Tivk: Do not encourage him. This is suicide.

Doc: Oh for ... I'm shaving. Just having. I'm just glad I packed the old razor in my kit. I never thought we'd be stuck out here this long in ... whatever the hell this is.

Tivk: You are a doctor. Why would you want to scrape hair off your neck and face with a piece of  razor sharp steel? You are placed a cutting implement in deadly proximity to your jugular vein and carotid artery. How do you ignore this?

Doc: Guys, human males do this all the time. I'm nearly done. I just like a truly close shave. Riasi likes it too. This straight razor was my dad's and his dad's.

Tivk: Did they slit their throats with it?

Doc: Wha ... no! They lived to ripe old ages.

Mukh: Mammals. All that silly hair ... and lactation! When you aren't shaving or consuming dairy you're mating. Wait, you ripen with age too? Eeeeew eeew eeew!

Tivk: Poising that steel millimeters from your life's blood. There are depilatories and electric shavers ... electrolysis treatment ... tweezers even.

Nok: Terrans shaving are awesome. How often? Once a year? Twice?

Doc: Almost ... everyday for me. Every other day for some.

Mukh: This is insane. Even the closer human-forms don't shave their necks.

Doc: you'd be amazed how hard we humans have to try to keep from laughing at neckbeards.

Nok: Pussies. I want to shave something.

Tivk:  I need a bowl of sand to shift through my fingers. Or better yet my toes.

Mukh: This is payback for the mac and cheese experiment, right?

Doc: ... hahahahahahahaha! Anyway I'm finished.

Nok: Shave something else. Now!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dieselpunk Manifesto Episode Three

In strip 21 Buck and Wilma are making their way in a leisurely manner over the former farmlands of Ohio when Wilma twists her ankle and can go no further. I will give her the benefit of the doubt since the exact nature of her injury is not described and I doubt a mere sprain would stop her, Buck makes like a he-man and carries her (and her jump belt) to the Columbus Org.

The sentry challenges them and is revealed to be -Killer Kane. the weapon Kane carries looks like a Bren gun with a circular magazine and it might be the long sought after rocket rifle! He also has a metal helmet with a banded metal visor and frankly looks pretty bitching. While Wilma is mending Kane tells Buck to beat it and when Buck gives him the bird, Kane challenges him to a duel!

Yes the Columbus Org has duels and a formal code for them. Seconds are required and appointed by the Org for strangers. Buck's second is a woman soldier named Gilda (who bears a ceremonial baton). The duel is to be to unconsciousness or death. Each participant has their choice of weapons though both take melee weapons. That may be a restriction to make sure both duelists are serious.

Buck chooses a WW I era rifle with a bayonet. Kane takes a bizarre weapon he designed himself which looks like a shish kebab made with a spiked mace and a couple boar spears.

The strip said Rogers served in the Great War in the Air Corps and I'm going to hazard a guess that  transferred there from the infantry because he knew his way around a rifle and bayonet because he gives Kane point and rifle butt in rapid succession and soon has him seeing stars. He wins!

Of course he does. The strip is called 'Buck Rogers.' You always win in your own strip or nearly so. This is a familiar trope of the series. Apparently your 25th century types aren't as handy with their hands or melee weapons.

Quick everyone roll up 20th century characters! You know it would play out that way in a game. The mining industry would soon be destroyed by people causing cave ins to induce suspended animation. This of course weakened the American military industrial complex and left us easy pickings for the Mongols (though their disintegrators must have helped a little).

Wilma arrives in time to see Buck fist pumping over a horizontal Kane. She assumes Buck and Gilda are an item and suffers a nervous collapse. Gilda wants to know why Buck cals all the pretty girls 'sister'?

I'm not writing the stuff. Complain to the Dille Family and while you're there please ask them to reissue the XXVc game and The Buck Rogers Adventure Game!

Meanwhile the Han Viceroy of Chicago learns through a spy in the Columbus Org that Wilma is there and sends a raiding party to abduct her for the Emperor's harem and gain favor.

Hey it's the pulp era. I'm going to stop apologizing for this stuff now.

The Han land under cover of night. One of the curious omissions of the technology in this world is night vision devices. Bearing a huge gas projector the Han knock out the sentries and kidnap Wilma. Buck pursues but fails to stop them.

While we're at it look at this freaking gas gun. It looks like there's enough to gas everyone in Ohio.

Here they manage to penetrate the defense of an Org and merely leave after grabbing the woman they're after. Also wearing a jump belt makes you very easy to kidnap! I mean these guys manage to outrun Rogers carrying a woman! Either Wilma has her jump belt or they must all try out for track. Seriously though after they got Wilma there was nothing stopping them from turning a disintegrator on Columbus and wiping out the whole Org. As villains they suck.

Wilma manages to get a message off on her radio and tells the Americans the Han are heading Northwest to Vancouver. Buck asks the Columbus Org to mount a pursuit and is turned down so he steals the Org's only biplane, a one man scout.

The plane's engine soon quits and Buck lands in spite of the forest below. A couple of Canadian Org men find him and get the plane up and running for him and even give him a heads up on the ship he was seeking. It's apparently on a course for San Francisco or Los Angeles.

Apparently the Han are as bad at geography as Wilma, going through Canada to get to the West Coast! Buck figures they're making their way to L.A. and the Emperor! He tears out in the plane and ... hits rough weather. A control wire snaps and he gets thrown from the plane to his death!

Oh wait, inertron. He lights in the desert and starts walking/jumping with no food or water. Wilma meanwhile is subjected to the indignities of the Emperor's court. that is she gets a bath, beautiful clothes and three squares, all the while screaming how much she despises the Emperor and threatening suicide/homicide. Nevertheless Barla Ka Nizra, the toadie in charge of the Emperor's ladies, decides to present her, in a masterful show of pulp villain denial!

The Emperor is a sort of go with the flow kind of despot. He tells his henchmen to watch Wilma and if she hasn't changed her mind about a life of luxury in ten days to wipe her memories! Yes things look dire as strip 30 comes to a close!

Wiping a person's memories is an incredible technology for a pulp villain to obtain. Instead of disintegrating those wild Americans, the Han could gas them, wipe their minds and have a ready pool of day workers. Of course the Airlords already automated their entire society so disintegrators save them a lot of food bills for servitors.

Then again, Buck and Wilma encounter a bunch of people of mixed race (Wilma has a more racist term for them) who are apparently shunned by everyone. These individuals live in the ruins and forests largely by stealing and murdering whoever falls into their hands. It makes you wonder just what the Han were up to. Did they have brainwashed Americans in their cities. Was there some other interaction between the two, more than just a drunken dictator with exotic tastes. those gys probably weren't all his offspring.

These are the pulps and they frequently created villains and goons from stereotypes. Arm:2419 had none of this socializing. In fact a major plot point of the book was using new tactics to wipe out an Org that was in collusion with the Han. If you're setting up a game using this setting though a character of mixed race might be an excellent spy, having at least some knowledge of the Airlords' language and customs (before they grew up and weren't cute and thrown out to die in the wilds).

And what of the spy in Columbus Org? Hmmm.

While I'm at this, how are you enjoying these 'episodes'? If none of you are biting I want to know before I write another 170 episodes. I'll switch to some other topic I can blather about.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Faces of Luna (Mark 1, 2 & 3)

The best part of doing renderings is that you never have to throw anything away. As I began pimping the Luna like a found Roomba, I saved the previous renders and now have three different subclasses.

Luna Mk1, Mk 2 and Mk 3 (l. to r.)

The Mk 1 Luna does not have the stabilizer ring of the later models. It's still a fine ship but a bit trickier to land than the Mk 2 and Mk 3.

The second change between the Mk 1 and Mk 2 was adding additional armor to the stern. Ramming was considered unlikely but useful as a threat when boarding suspicious ships in orbit. The reality was the Luna had no landing gear and was often called on the refuel from icy bodies. In that case tit was expedient to smack the ground and break it up before loading ice int a hopper installed that could be set up in the emergency lock at the stern.

As you can see the added armor proved such a good idea that the engineers kept adding to it. It made soft landing somewhat academic provided the crew was strapped in.

The Luna's Ram was of a transparent variety of metasite. It was further reinforced with a concave tip. The metasite was as clear as frosted glass and a searchlight was installed to further illuminate the landing area. t helped keep stupid people from being squished.

Luna has four main airlocks ... technically. One lock is the standard people passer. You get in you vacuum gear and it cycles you through. Another lock usually has a magnetic grapple thrower mounted. The third lock has deluxe spacesuits mounted against the inner wall. You enter them by climbing through a small port into the suit. The last lock is usually not a lock at all. On most ships it is a simple tool locker opening to the outside. Vacuum sleeves and gloves let personnel onboard help spacesuited personnel. A tiny lock mounted on the inner wall lets tools and parts be passed out of the ship quickly. In practice all these can be converted back into standard airlocks within an hour.

There is a fifth hatch opening on the rocket control deck for loading large pieces of equipment and machinery easily. This is merely a hatch, not a lock! In practice docking with a station is done through this hatch using an extendable boarding tube.

One of the later modifications of the Luna was to the guns. The rocket ammunition used liquid fuel pumped into the barrel to fire rounds initially. The rounds then ignited their main motors a safe distance from the hull. The storage of this liquid fuel and barrel corrosion caused maintenance problems and eventually magnetic accelerators replaced the fuel system.

The viewing ports above and below the guns are specially treated sections of hull rendered transparent and polarized against glare. They are part of the rest of the hull and nearly as strong. In practice it sacrifices very little to safety and crews like seeing what is around them. In later ships there is an argument whether to even include transparent sections. Another proposal is to have the transparent sections also function as data screens highlight important feature or allowing video conversations.

Next up, the engines!

Friday, May 12, 2017

And We're Live!

Dieselpunk in a Nutshell is up for sale on RPGNow and OBS! Link is here. Go buy it (c'mon it's only $2), rate it, and roll yourself up some dieselpunk settings!

You can even fudge some rolls. I'm not telling!

Rocket Pistols!

Rocket pistols have seen little development in the present time. At one time they had their fans in SF. With some material advances and research they could be on the verge of a golden age. Any dieselpunk stuff I do is going to have them just because they're pistols that fire teeny rockets!

If you're playing in a 2d6 game there is already a rocket pistol -the snub pistol. Snub pistols have their fans because I've already seen rules for snub machine guns and snub carbines. Hell, I wrote a couple of them myself.

Following are some system agnostic ideas for rocket pistols. 

First they're stupid simple to make (the ammunition is another matter). The rockets have little kick (in the barrel at least). They are caseless which is important if you're worried about brass fouling some machinery or controls or a hot spent cartridge landing inside your shirt. I've had this happen and I swear the little bastards look for any opening and hurt like a sonuva mother.

Unlike most caseless weapons rocket pistols do not suffer from heat buildup. Cased rounds carry a lot of heat away from their weapon when they are ejected. Caseless ammunition leaves the heat behind and it can lead to burnt fingers or even co0king off when a weapon fires off an entire clip despite your best efforts.

They have no kick worth mentioning. This is a bit of relief for shoot outs in zero gravity. Despite what some movies will have you believe firing a handgun won't send you spinning crazily. It will require you to adjust your aim and grip on whatever you're hanging onto.

The lack of a kick could make it easy for careers (or classes) with weapons restrictions to use. You might want to allow anyone to grab a rocket pistol and start blasting. That's pretty big in terms of training times and could make them ideal for militia or rebels. In Armageddon: 2419, Buck grabs one and proves himself a dead eye with it after a few shots.

They're stealthy. A phaser and most energy weapons will give away your position. Most firearms are very difficult to suppress (forget about actually silencing them). The rockets fire with a small puff and hiss. People who are shooting with surprise or from hiding might be able to get a punch of cheap shots in before their enemies realize where the fire is coming from or even what is happening.

Rocket pistols can also be an easy way to tell the good guys from the bad guys. In combat this is not as easy as you might hope. Now you have a way to tell if those guys are on your side or not. Just fire a rocket over their heads. If they hose you with rocket fire, they're on your side. If they disintegrate you they're on the other side.
(Two models of Rocket Pistol. The Mark 5 (l.) and the Mark 7 (r.) has a helical magazine holding 12 shots in a helical magazine. mark 5's are favored for boarding actions. The Mark 7 has a tubular magazine allowing a faster draw but only 8 shots. It is favored by explorers and some gunmen who favor a weapon that is a quick draw and can conserve their ammunition.)

I Can't Believe I'm Not Vetted Yet and Other News

I submitted Dieselpunk in a Nutshell to RPGNow. It's my fifth product in as many months and they still need to look it over and decide it won't mean the downfall of Western Civilization.


Hopefully it will go live on Monday 5/16. Some goodies for you my inner circle.

I answered a load of questions about it here.

Asking price is $2.

My next projects are Alien Capsules Book Three and a catalogue of dieselpunk style equipment (like Helmut's Helmets). This may or may not include stats for the Luna and using Metasite. I want to sell everything for $2 and under.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Metasite is Outasite

Metasite is the unobtainium powering my dieselpunk world. It can power yours too.

Metasite is a material with unique electromagnetic properties. The electrical forces holding its atoms together are very malleable when subjected to different magical magnetic fields. Subject it to one field it becomes hard enough to shatter steel or scratch diamonds. Another treatment will make the same Metasite as clear as the finest glass. In building ship hulls viewports and hull are one and the same, the ports merely being sections of hull made transparent.

There's more, the conductivity or metasite can also be tailored with the same magnetic fields. It can be a nearly perfect insulator or a superconductor holding vast amounts of energy. The energy can be released again by spinning the metasite through a specific magnetic field and the energy will be released in whatever form desired: em, nuclear, repulsive or gravitic.

Space craft can use the repulsive or gravitic properties to travel interplanetary distances with travel times of weeks or a few months, thrusting against or attracting the sun itself and (mostly) free of the need for propellant. Most vessels do have more conventional rockets for high accelerations.

The amount of metasite and the efficiency of the engine determine how much energy can be stored. It does provide unlimited delta vee because of these limits. It also has a nasty tendency to build up static charges and ships may need to stop somewhere to discharge this build up.

I came up with metasite because I wanted a dieselpunk style technology and that means it uses the technology of the 20's and 20's as its template. One f the first things you'll note about that era was the technology was not capable of sending a ship any farther than the Moon and that might be a stretch. Therefore we have unobtainium allowing 30's technology to exceed 21st century technology in several ways. Those ways are material science, energy storage and propulsion. That covers most of your space faring dieselpunk antics.

It is improbably useful stuff. I don't even want to hazard a guess how it is produced or mined (or whatever). You make up something that fits your world. Is it common enough to make flying belts affordable? Again up to you. On the bright side, one type of unobtainium with these related effects seem more coherent to me than separate advances providing for antigravity, death rays and space flight but not smart phones, price scanners, and the internet.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Luna

I freely Acknowledge my inspiration for this ship came from the grandfather of all SF comics. The Luna project had the benefit of a rendering program that was unknown in the 1930's as well as a lot more time than a cartoonist banging out a daily strip say.

I have changed some design features and conjectured on what others were and added and subtracted and I think I can  say this is my design now. That is to say I'm going to put it in a product and hopefully not incur anyone's wrath.

The Luna

What is all this?

I'll probably put the Luna out as a series of small booklets.

Tomorro for ur regular post: more shinies for the dieselpunk adventurer.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Dieselpunk Manifesto Episode 2

So which helmet do the bad guys wear?

That's just to remind you I'm still laying out stuff (and selling said stuff). Anyhoo ...

When last we left Buck Rogers (strip #10) Wilma was missing on patrol. Buck was placed in command of a small squadron (three biplanes!) and sent to look for her. Considering the Americans were still under constant raids by the Airlords, who also controlled the skies, this was a helluva a case for no one left behind.

While searching Buck receives a transmission from Wilma saying the Airlords are at Akron and heading towards Cleveland or Buffalo (she apparently had a poor sense of geography outside Pennsylvania.) In a flashback in strip 11 the Airlords use a sensor device that can scan through the trees of the forest to spot Wilma and (being a squad of flesh peddlers) they pronounce her beautiful. I guess the sensor was very short range. Otherwise they'd mount them on their ships and wipe out the Americans once and for all or American installations were really well hidden.

You wonder what these guys are thinking, abducting a girl who is basically a trained killer to present to their emperor as his next main squeeze. I'll also note the soldier in the back has what looks like an old style rifle and bayonet.

After abducting Wilma and playing with her jump belt she manages to break away from the pimps of the Airlords (am I veering into Alpha Blue territory here?) and send her distress call. The Emperor video conferences his squad, is smitten and sends a squadron of airships to pick up the group. as Buck and his three biplanes rush to the rescue!

Spotting the group Buck and his cohorts bail out using their jumping belts and leaving their planes on remote control (by Buck's pilot who never really gets a mention or any time on panel). They beat the stuffing out of the flesh peddlers just as the Airlord squadron shows up.  They use their jumping belts to get back to their planes, Buck needs to climb a rope to his as the goons who abducted Wilma apparently lost her inertron jumping belt ("I don't understand, I put it down right over ... oh oh ...") In the course of the escape Buck and Wilma fall from the line and land in the Ohio River where they are rescued and robbed by scruffy wasteland types characterized by a racist term who grab their gear.

Stuck in a cave, Wilma finds a disintegrator ray in a pile of trash and managed to get it working. Turns out she's an 'electronist'. The disintegrator looks like an old fashioned two handed power drill and we're told picks up power from the Airlords' broadcast power system.

In this scene we see how beamed power is a good way to enable to enable your enemies to kill you. For that matter since Wilma knows the workings of a disintegrator so intimately, you wonder why the Americans don't have their own disintegrators to tap into the Airlord power broadcast and hand them a nasty surprise now and then. Rocket shells cost money man,

 They use it to tunnel out of the cave after which it quits on them because disintegrating their robbers would just be too easy. Under Wilma's direction they strike out for the Youngstown Org. Along the way Buck teaches Wilma the finer points of camping out like building a fire and crafting a bow and arrow to hunt game. Even I have to call bullshit here. Wilma grew up in the forests, patrolled the forest and you would think her training would include survival techniques in case, I dunno, she lost her equipment to robbers or something similar. After putting an arrow through a bear they make it back to civilization and are immediately ordered to convey a dispatch to the Columbus Org.

One wonders what is in this dispatch that requires physical transportation. Everybody had radio phones. Then again Columbus seems to get a harder time from the Han than the Pennsylvania Org.

To cross the Ohio River Buck comes up with an ingenious use of their jumping belts. Wilma, it seems can't swim a stroke. So ...

This is a good way to keep your gear dry! I will pont out that Wilma's lack of swimming ability doesn't mean a hoot. She couldn't sink wearing her belt!! Her effective weight is too little. We also see one of the jumping belt flaws, there's no way to release part of the inertron in case you find yourself too light to deal with a situation.

While we're at it ... the average density of air at sea level is 1.27 kilograms. An average human takes up about a cubic meter of volume (though not in cube form (that'd be uncomfortable, messy and possibly fatal.) In strip 2 Wilma shows Buck how to wear a belt and remarks he only weighs about 2 kilograms. The belts reduce the danger of falling to almost nothing because their wearers are little denser than air. A little more inertron would give them neutral buoyancy and they'd behave like small airships! This buoyancy and air resistance keeps them from falling too fast! A few times the book mentions that people seem to fall more slowly than normal due to this resistance. It can't just be because of their lessened weight. Galileo had a lot to say on that subject

This is a good thing because when you hit ground it will be with all the kinetic energy of your mass (which inertron doesn't affect). You want to be going slow. Even experienced users make mistakes as we'll see. You're sort of playing parkour with gravity.

This wouldn't help you at all if you were falling in a vacuum like on the Moon. Two kilograms humans fall as fast as 70 kilogram humans without air resistance. Then again vacuum worlds usually have low gravity anyway.

It also doesn't help against spin gravity or acceleration forces unless you're close to a planet and boosting away. But I'm getting ahead of myself. That's next story arc.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tales of Tail Landers

Short post of necessity this Friday. I spent the day in the ER due to a family emergency. It's all going to be all right though.

Whatever happened to tail landers? There was a time when they were the standard for space craft that errr ... landed.

Here's my treatment of an old favorite: the Luna!

A little color makes a big difference. In doing this and beginning my researches  realized that most of the deckplans I've seen are for space craft that are treated as aircraft (or hotels). So I plan to address that.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Coming of Gorg

I wrote this with Mighty Eroc (especially his avatar) in mind.


Professor Prost, the archaeologist were searching for preserved specimens of mammoth in an Alaskan glacier when he found the mummy. it was perfectly preserved, a man a good 7 feet tall, from an unknown and gigantic subrace. Prost worked to free him from the ice to transport him to a refrigerated storage vault for careful examination. It was a race against time with the glacier already showing signs of melting.

Prost awoke in the morning to renew his labors and found two intruders in his camp: a Kodiak bear and ... Gorg. Apparently just resting, the giant human fossil attacked the bear. With speed belying his great size Gorg climbed on its back and slipped a chokehold on it, throttling it unconscious.

The paleolithic giant then made his introductions to Professor Prost. "Gorg!" Prost was no fool and took the man home to examine, educate and then publish.

After Professor Prost passed away and Gorg walked a few hundred miles to Juneau. Stopping the giant required a concerted effort of a half dozen police. Gorg maintained he didn't want to hurt the police and was at a disadvantage. Gorg was then placed under the care of the War Department.

Gorg possesses immense strength. He also has great speed and agility. His senses are sharp as well. The big man doesn't talk much. this is because English is his second language and he feels embarrassed about his accent. His short statements and simple constructions of speech lead many to think he is an ignorant and primitive idiot. Nothing could be further from the truth. Professor Prost made a thorough study of Gorg's mental powers and found him highly intelligent.

Gorg was shown film footage of the Nazi's Creature. Even the most hard bitten officers grinned when Gorg stood up, pointed at the screen and hollered, "I ... Kill!"

Gorg, Giant Caveman

Gorg stands seven feet tall and possesses immense strength and speed. He is a 6 HD monster. His great strength let's him do +2 damage with melee weapons and +2 to hit. His fists and feet do 1d6 damage. In The Front Gorg has 12 armor points do to his agility and resiliency. In Operation White Box Gorg's base armor class is 6 [13].

Gorg dislikes guns and usually employs a spear or axe. Most trigger guards are to small for his finger and he is -3 to hit with firearms. He has difficulty with most normal sized equipment ("One size fits all? Hah! I laugh!") After the disaster trying to familiarize him with a Sherman tank (it required a blow torch to get him out and the tank crew had to be transferred) Gorg is not going into anymore tanks.He'd rather ride on top and throw rocks. Big rocks.

He surprises foes on 1-3 on 1d6 and is only surprised on a 1 in 6 chance.

Suppression fire works on Gorg like any other human being. The big guy isn't bulletproof, just tough and with the luck of Satan's Godson. When he's faced with suppression fire or grenades he will usually find a way to sneak around it. hen that fails he often rips up a sturdy object to use as a shield, like a car door or thick door. The big man can make a short rush (half his movement) and receives a ST to avoid the enemy action altogether for one round. He then slams into the attackers for 2d6 damage. He can do this once a fight.

Gorg has his issues. He doesn't really understand modern technolog. Though he could use it, such as turning on an electric light, he can have mishaps like licking an electrical outlet or catching his finger in an oscillating fan.

The prehistoric world made Gorg into an excellent hunter and forager. In the wild he can easily support himself. He's not above liberating a pie from an enemy commissary which he views as a test of skill and which has jeopardized more than one mission. He spots secret doors and similar clues on a 3 in 6.

Gorg has a great dislike of being closed in. The irony of being called a caveman is not lost on him. He hates caves and usually will make due with a tent or lean-to or sleep in a tree. He never uses the barracks.

He also has a short temper with wise guys. Gorg knows how to use pronouns. Any attempt to make fun of his speech, era or appearance will result in the wiseacre being picked up, held nose to nose and asked to reconsider his words. Everyone has so far.

The big guy has a good heart despite his brutish exterior. Kids and animals usually pick  up on this. He is especially fond of dogs (once he learned the difference between them and wolves). The fiercest guard dogs will abandon their duties to approach and fawn over him. Horses show no fear and will let him ride them (though the horse may regret the decision).

Since the discovery of Gorg the Soviet Union launched a huge expedition into Siberia to seek their own proletariat caveman. There are some rumors of success, though they may have just shaved an Alma.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Dieselpunk Manifesto

This is going live next week. I'm not sure if I'm vetted and can put it up immediately or I still have to wait an indefinite period before the folks at RPGNow decide it's innocuous enough to be posted.

It is a systemless set of tables to establish the basics of a dieselpunk style setting. It is running about 24 pages for $2.00.

Note the rest of this post deals with the 1929 vintage comic strips which are insensitive in some sensitive matters. You been warned.

It started with my love of dieselpunk (it had no name when I first encountered it here:

The first Buck Rogers strip (I got a hardbound collection of these for christmas one year)
Buck Rogers strips 1-10.

Anthony 'Buck' Rogers first had his story told in Amazing Stories. He told his tale his story was  in two parts: Armageddon 2419 and The Airlords of the Han. The stories were later combined as Armageddon 2419 in novel form and then picked up by the papers. Tony's name was changed to Buck because it sounded more action oriented.

The book immediately introduces two items that were the bread and butter of Buck and Wilma Deering for many years: rocket pistols and jumpers: belts that let you defy gravity (to a degree). In the strip. Buck is usually pictured with a ray gun of some sort. In the books and early strips it is very clear that the good guys use projectile weapons and the bad guys (the Mongols) used ray guns. Buck is seldom without his trusty rocket pistol. Some original illustrations also
showed the rocket guns that were very nasty, very mobile and quite cool.

Rocket guns are very simple contrivances so far as the mechanism of launching the bullet is concerned. They are simple light tubes, closed at the rear end, with a trigger-actuated pin for piercing the thin skin at the base of the cartridge. This piercing of the skin starts the chemical and atomic reaction. The entire cartridge leaves the tube under its own power, at a very easy initial velocity, just enough to insure accuracy of aim; so the tube does not have to be of heavy construction. The bullet increases in velocity as it goes. It may be solid or explosive. It may explode on contact or on time, or a combination of these two.

The weapons were light to begin with and counterweighted with inertron the reverse weight element. In the book they were far more useful in warfare that ray weapons, like the disintegrator, which were limited to line of sight and clearly showed where they were being fired from. Rocket rounds could hit targets by arcing over hills and barriers. The artillery pieces like these could be broken up and moved quickly enabling stealthy operations. 

Buck and Wilma never used rocket rifles to my recall. They always used rocket pistols, though they sometimes had very elaborate sights for distance work. The 'scope' on Helen's pistol looks like it requires a Masters in Mathematics to operate.

Despite the formidable sights we are told the pistols are very accurate, having no recoil worth mentioning. Buck grabs one and uses it to great effect immediately.

I'll also note that the strips and book were pretty derogatory about the Mongols. In the books at least Nowlan tried to point out they were some sort of hybrid of humans with aliens (explaining their advanced technology) and that all the races in his future were regarded as equal. The strips were much worse as it was the thirties and Japan was a rising power viewed with some hostility by the United States. 

The racism of the strips is sort of at odds with some other conventions such as female soldiers For it's tie this idea might have been as bizarre as a jumping belt. Wilma fares even better in the comic strips than she does in the book. In the book she'll engage is sabotage and murder and be as ruthless as any man but then faint afterwards. There's none of that nonsense in the strips (there's different nonsense.) For a quick look ahead:
I had a serious crush on Wilma Deering when I was 12 and fan service just aggravated it!

The other great invention was inertron which I already went on about. Jump belts not only reduced your weight, allowing you to make huge jumps and fall great distances vertically (yay wind resistance). Interesting trivia. The Amazing Stories that featrued Arm:2419 had this cover:

But the illustration was for another story. Apparently there are several types of reverse weight substances. 

Inertron lightened loads. When someone wanted to know what a piece of equipment weighed the proper response was, "What do you want it to weigh?" It had other properties I went into, none of which made it to the strips. In particular it was a perfect defense against disintegrators! Apparently the newspaper people didn't want Buck to have too easy a time.

The first ten strips also give a pretty graphic illustration of the destruction of United States around 2029. Oddly the American forces of 2029 seem to have WW I surplus gear. It's only 12 years away and I guess we'll find out then. They soon encounter Rogers' first Mongol Raider.

Mongol airships were said to fly on 'repellor rays'. They're your air raft's grandfather. Obviously there are paralells with dirigibles of the day. The craft were armed with the deadly disintegrator ray that could evaporate mountains (or at least small hills). At this point the Americans' defense policy is best described as 'run for it!' In Arm:2419 Rogers becomes the first American to down one of the craft when he discovers the repellor beams actually grab stuff from the ground and suck it up the beam. He fires a highly explosive shell from his ever present rocket pistol  and blows out the forward beam causing the airship to fall over. 

This may be the first case in SF of a person from our own time being better than the natives/aliens/contemporaries at survival or fighting an enemy they have studied for generations (also known as the 'Avatar' syndrome).

As an aside the Mongol disintegrators made Star Trek's phasers look weak. They would blast continuous destruction in a wide swath. They didn't play out after disintegrating a couple of lousy humans.

As an amusing aside no one (except Wilma) believes Rogers' story about being in suspended animation (this was years before Captain America after all). He thinks he's to be executed when they say he's getting the 'chair', but it turns out to be a relatively painless interrogation method/lie detector.

By the end of strip 9 Wilma is reported missing on a patrol and Buck  takes a 25th Century biplane to go looking for her! Dick Calkins was a very good artist and he knew aircraft of the era. In this case his knowledge either made him hesitant to create bizarre new vehicles or he decided to start with forms that were recognizable to readers.

The aircraft were described in Arm:2419 as being far superior to the ones Buck was familiar with. In the first strip we learn that Anthony Rogers was an aviator in the First World War. Even so it is amazing how quickly he gets into a plane and begins flying it. Perhaps they have sort of computerized controls or at least aids that made flying them easier than biplanes of Rogers' home time.

They probably had some inertron used in their construction. With the large amount of lift the planes could probably take of or land from very small spaces (always a plus when the Mongols were ready to dis your landing areas. They also might be designed to be low noise and low sensor signature. The North Americans move on to really cool rockets shortly after this, so they may have been progressing rapidly as aviation engineers and just started out with a fairly simple aircraft to cut their teeth, one that was easy to  build and maintain.

Nonono. They are sophisticated aircraft of the 25th Century, not old time biplanes. Honest!

More next week!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dieselpunk Campaign In a Nutshell

I generated the following background for a dieselpunk setting. Comments in parentheses are variations I invented because I can't leave anything short and simple. 

Setting One: The Atomic Gangsters!
The rolls: Earth is mostly ruins with strict rationing. It is menaced by gangsters who want to rule mankind. The Earth is defended by heroes. Under technology I rolled up superconductors and insulators as well as exo-armor (human tanks) and intelligent robots. The heroes also have state of the art equipment made with ultralight alloys, and at least one member with psychic abilities. Technology does not show a high degree of automation for reasons I go into below.

Earth is mostly in ruins, recovering from an atomic war in the past century. Life is hard and many items like food and water are rationed by government orders. Nutrition depends on food tablets for most of the diet (carrying supplies is not a problem, you can carry a week's rations in your jacket).

Energy weapons and energy resistant armor is very common (bonus to damage and armor for energy weapons and their defenses). People traveling any length of time on the surface use exoarmor. The city dwelling humans also have fairly intelligent robots (robot PCs may be possible)to help them rebuild society and attempt to civilize the ‘wild people’ living in the wastes. (I made up the part about savages in the ruins, you could use them as player characters or even a career or class if your system runs towards that).

There is very little automation in day to day life. The robots are reserved for important projects in the ruins. In addition there is a large number of refugees from the wilds who need gainful employment to truly become civilized (this is more for color, telephone and other media exchanges have hordes of operators, servers wait on you hand and foot in restaurants and so on. Getting laborers for an expedition is possible and cheap. However, laborers might run away while robots will not.)

Society is menaced by futuristic gangsters calling themselves warlords who have fortified underground bases in the wastelands. So far they have proved impossible to assault directly due to their numbers and large settlements of innocent people that spring up around their stronghold entrances seeking protection, food and water. (In a black and white world the Earth government is Good and the warlords Evil. Or are they? Perhaps the earth government s completely corrupt, creating various shortages to keep the public in line, welcoming refugees, then virtually enslaving them and scheming away. Warlords could be rebels. Calling them rebels would tip off more would be rebels to join them. The Earth government calls them warlords to foster an image of brutality. The 'warlords' attempt to keep the poor and starving fed and away from the government 'education programs' that make slaves of them. While we're at it: what's IN those damned pills?!)

The gangsters want to eventually rule all of mankind. (Or if you go with my spin theory above they want everyone under their relatively benign rule and the current regime destroyed). The gangsters are opposed by a band of heroes with special technology based out of an old ruin who are kept informed by a warning system the surviving cities are linked to. These heroes have developed ultralight steel for their weapons, armor and vehicles making them far faster and maneuverable than the gangster forces. They also have high powered 'solium' fuel that lets their vehicles and robots have much greater range as well as a psychic who can give them a few minutes warning of the gangster attacks. (Obviously the head gangsters should have mind reading proof helmets to prevent the heroes from learning their big plans -an excuse to roll up fancy helmets. (The 'heroes' are in for a surprise if the Earth's government lied to them when they remove a gangster's helmet!)

The gangsters have numbers and brutality on their side but can’t find the heroes’ base. If they did all would be lost. (If the Earth's government is the corrupt one or just corrupt the 'gangsters' ' numbers and brutality might be greatly exaggerated.)

Space travel is not developed yet. (With superconductors, super insulators, high energy fuels and lightweight alloys it is certainly possible in the near future or even immediately, at least to the Moon. If the Moon has useful resources it will be developed even faster. (Hint: I rolled up a subterranean world for it. The first explorers are going to be adventuring!)

Rules Systems
Open d6 is a quick and clean system for running adventures. It originally was the engine of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game from West End Games. It's qualifications for running space opera are unquestionable.

White Star is also a quick clean system with plenty of space opera material. Just change the focus from an entire galaxy to the solar system. Really nine planets, a possibly hollow Earth and 30+ moons and asteroids aren't enough for a couple of years of play at least?

Cepheus Engine is another system that is easy enough and quite good for simulating a variety of different technologies. It takes a more hard science approach to technology but some imagination (and Dieselpunk in a Nutshell!) can remedy that.

D.E.C.O. system by the sadly inactive Heliograph Games was designed to run adventures in the Zappelin Age (I wish I'd thought of that term). If you can track down a copy of their Airship Troopers on the Volcanic Island of Dinosaur Doom (if that title isn't enough to get you looking ...) it has a neat little system with FUDGE and Open d6 conversions.

Atomic Rockets obligatory link: http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/index.php
Winchell Chung's inimitable website is geared for writers and referees who want to tell stories that respect hard science. For the rest of us the site has tons of images from the era and notes about various handwavium and unobtainium equipment. This is great if you want to know exactly where you started to BS in your background. He also quotes a number of bloggers (AHEM) with ideas for world building.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Art Deco Solar System


What is this?

It's an image I plan on using for the cover of my next publication: Dieselpunk In a Nutshell.

What is Dieselpunk In a Nutshell?

Dieselpunk In a Nutshell is a series of tables to let you generate your own dieselpunk science fiction setting.

What's dieselpunk?

Dieselpunk is similar to steampunk. While steampunk borrows scientific theories, technology and ideas from the Victorian era, dieselpunk takes it's inspirations from the science fiction of the pulp magazines and books of the 30's and 40's. The Buck Rogers comic strip of the 1930s is an  excellent example. While it often uses handwavium inventions and materials (recoilless force beams, reverse weight elements) it also has technology that is extrapolated from the technology and science of the day. You have vacuum tube electronic brains, atomic rockets, and energy weapons.

What do I get out of this?
Nothing actually unless you buy it. But if you buy Dieselpunk In a Nutshell, you'll be getting charts of various inventions, menaces and civilizations to help fill in a whole dieselpunk setting!

What rule system does it use?
It's systemless. It gives general results you tailor to whatever system you use.

There's a lot of good systems already out there which I don't want or need to compete with right now.

Did you pay for that art you're using?
It's public domain art! Cut me some slack!

How about a sample?

Earth in the future is
  1. a virtual utopia (or is it?)
  2. recovering from disaster (atomic war, planetary disaster, secret weapon gone wrong)
  3. wasteland and ruins (mostly)
  4. a puppet state (publicly or secretly)
  5. uninhabitable outside domed cities (or is it?)
  6. under strict rationing of vital resources such as food and water (really in short supply, hoarded or wasted?)

The technology features (roll till you're satisfied):

  1. Strange Elements
Strange elements are usually found or manufactured in small amounts (enough for the weird scientist to build a unique prototype but not mass production). 

  1. Anti-gravity Element(s) Antigravity elements usually exert a repulsive force far beyond their actual weight. A cubic foot could lift several humans like a balloon or allow the construction of several flying belts or a small personal flyer. Any of these devices should have a mechanism to release some of the lift element just in case some mishap lightens the load. For example a rocketship might get its tail shot off and rise like a shot. remove some of the AGE and you reduce the lift letting you float to Earth (or wherever).
  2. Metanite Ore These rare elements allow you to access a whole new spectrum. Meta particles only interact with meta ore. You can build sensors or communications devices that are undetectable and unjamable by electronic means. This is  huge step forward in terms of stealth and espionage.
  3. Gravinite Spin this element in a centrifuge, say, and you generate gravity at a right angle to the direction of spin. Gravinite tops for the kids were great for pranking the neighbors living above you. Spacecraft can use gravinite to fight the effects of weightlessness. It also creates rapid (really rapid) acceleration f your setting has intercontinental subway tubes or orbital towers. High gravity fields can also be used to ground aircraft or restrain intruders.
  4. Invisite Crystals of invisite ‘imprint’ on the colors of their surrounding. An object coated in invisite is perfectly camouflaged and invisible beyond a few yards. As you may imagine it’s pretty hard to find.
  5. Cerebrite Cerebrite accelerates mental processes. It increases intelligence if worn near the brain (in a headband, for example) In individuals possessing psychic powers it increases there range and duration and can be habit forming.
  6. Immunite Immunity increases the power of the immune systems. This provides faster healing and resistance to pathogens. Life exposed to immunity from birth possess the ability to regenerate and heal almost any damage.

What else?
Other technologies include, special alloys, power sources, super weapons and robots. A special table lets you detail what your futuristic world lacks (you have a television screen that takes up a wall but no remote so your robot butler switches channels for you.)

An optional section lets you roll for what the worlds of the Solar System hold in store.

How much is this?
One buck! For about 12 pages. I'll even throw in a table to generate an individual helmet design for your hero!

Didn't you do a post on that?
Oh for ... It'll  have more stuff. It'll be good! I'm going live with this the first week in May.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Zeerust Helmets

First of all I intend to return to the nuts and bolts of the Satellite soon enough. Here's a picture of her officers:

Once you get over the WTF moment realize Dick Calkins was a cagey old artist. Told to introduce a slew of characters he came up with a way to make each stand out, their helmets. Note that Buck and Wilma need no such ornamentation (Wilma could probably stand out in the rain on a crowded street.)

You can spend a bit of time wondering just what each helmet had by way of equipment (and why). Why does the engineer need binoculars? The electronist a breathing doohickey and the astrogator a frigging roll bar?!

Why yes I have better things to do with my time. You're reading this and I might ask the same.

Anyway here is a set of tables to let you or your characters customize their helmets, the better to play dieselpunk characters. Roll for location and then decoration. Then roll for special equipment. The special equipment might jibe with the decoration or require some explaining. I'm not doing that for you. Roll as many times as you feel necessary or the referee lets you get away with.

1) Visor
1) Flip down

2) Removable clips

3) Straps

4) Magnetic clamps

5) Fixed

6) None

2) Ear Cups
1) Radio receiver antenna

2)Poofy style padding

3) Separate Hoses

4) Stethoscope style hoses

5) Flaps
6) Outriggers (also known as door catchers, think Jack Kirby style)

3) Rear Vent

2) Flap

3) Strap

4) Poofy style padding

5) Neck guard

6) Fin

4) Side Plates
1) Legionnaire style metal armor

2) Mounting rails

3) Stethoscope style hoses

4) Grilled for ventilation

5) Detachable

6) Chin strap

5) Crest
1) Top knob

2) Mounting rail

3) Spike

4) Steel mohawk

5) Roll bar

6) Metal plating

6) Special Gear
1) Breathing mask

2) Binoculars

3)High power radio

4) Black light visual enhancement

5) Listening gear
6) Headlight (literally)

1) Camera

2) Heads up display

3) Food syrup dispenser (yuck)

4) Cigarette/pipe dispenser

5) Marquee style display

6) Awesome detailing job (this is what Luch rolled up)