*'s in SpaaaaaAaaaace

 A lot of SF (including a certain 2D6 RPG grandaddy) deal with ancient aliens taking humans from Earth and dropping them, fleas and all, on one or more worlds that did nothing to deserve it. The intent was to give us more diverse people to play with. I call BS though. Why the hell would you want to choose humans? Alien A: I just think they've weathered ice ages, floods and volcanism, maybe put ta few somewhere else to keep them from going extinct. Alien B: I dunno. They either runaway when we show ourselves, throw pointy sticks at us or fall on the ground to worship us. It's awkward. Alien A: We can tranq them from the air. No awkwardness or risk. Alien B: Before we finalize this, what about these guys?! Alien A: OoooooOooooh! What about dolphins? Smart AF. Serial rapists (No one is perfect) and unable to manipulate anything. They deserve a planet away from polluting primates.  Octopuses (it's octopi in Greek, I'm writing in English)? The smartest of the invertebrates a

Proxy? You Misspelled Patsy! Part 1

  Mechane, Atomo and Spatia  had a delightful little trade union going. Things improved with time. Spatia's ships improved their drives and began reaching other forgotten though populated worlds. However, when were people ever content for long?  Nottusa, the most populous, some would say advanced ,nation on Mechane was a republic. It had a well developed and politically active set of corporations, made even richer and more active by the affluence afforded by trade with Spatia. Eventually Nottusa saw a change in leadership. The new regime decided the trade agreements with Spatia were not in their best interest and they demanded a bigger cut of everything, raising the price of goods. This didn't sit well with the Spatians who soon found their trade ships boarded and further harassed by Mechane vessels built on Spatia.  It was a small ship Universe (the people living in it just called it the Universe.) Invasion options were limited. Mechane had a huge population, was already crank

Credibility Kills!

 Kills what? RP hooks mainly. On various forums I have seen a never ending hunt for rules to design better and more accurate star systems, in accordance with then latest astronomical data. Let me throw cold water on this right now: your players care a lot less about this than you think.  I wrote Solar Sagas, a planetary setting in the Old Solar System where everything was (at least marginally) habitable, in the tradition of Golden Age SF. I didn't get burned in effigy (that I'm aware of).  Discussion on one forum turned to a habitable planet around a white dwarf star. The OP got little encouragement for it. I remembered some articles I read and started hunting (Perplexity really makes this job easier). Sure enough the good old space telescope found a number of planets and other objects orbiting  white dwarfs. One planet was even in the Goldilocks Zone.  To give the detractors a fair chance, the articles pointed out many problems with a habitable world. For one thing the expansi

Quantum Dark Made Light

 Stellagama Publishing is famed for Cepheus Deluxe, Terra Arisen, and their Fantasy RPG, Sword of Cepheus. I've tinkered with their house system: Quantum Engine for a few years -self publicans Lightning League (pulp SF and horror). Since going Stellagame I wrote Solar Sagas (Golden Age SF RP). I love Quantum in its various forms. One of the good things about working with Omer Golan-Joel: the Stellagama Publisher is that he has such a wealth of ideas he will often say to us associates, 'Here, do something with this.' This was the case when he asked me to write a horror RPG using the Quantum Engine, I jumped at it. Josh Peters lent his fine editing to the work, then no stranger to horror gems himself took the deep dive and became co-author (tri-author! Omer did do Quantum Engine!) A few tweaks had to be made to Quantum sensibilities regarding combat, psionics, and the nature of horror itself. Combat: combat is more lethal. Quantum combat is dangerous enough but in Quantum Da

We Have Met the Enemy Segue: A Primitive Transmission

Professor Ormsby was still awake when I finally got to the compartment we shared.He looked up from the bottom bunk as I folded mine down. He was nice enough to wait till I sat down on our chair and removed my boots. Red sand fell out of the boots and Professor Ormsby hit a switch on the wall. Suction whisked the sand into slots where the walls met the floor. I wasn't spacer enough yet to call them bulkheads and decks. "You are unwounded, Tyson?" Ormsby asked. "Your meal ticket is indeed intact , sir. Have no fear!" I got my boots off and went to the top bunk, pulling myself up onto it. The professor was quiet a moment. Then he asked, "Are you all right?" "You just asked me if I was wounded and I answered," I said rubbing my eyes. "I know. I'm not asking whether your thick hide is intact. I'm asking if you are all right?" "... Yes sir. Thank you. I made it through that search and rescue on the Artemis, and I wa

Invasion: Methods

  One of the problems with a small ship universe, such as Traveller, especially one that uses realistic drives is that you can in all probability kiss any space opera style interstellar and interplanetary wars and invasions good bye. empires will grow through diplomacy, economics and technological superiority. Join our Polity and get Quantum computers or be left behind.  Now don't get me wrong, cloak and dagger stuff breeds in such an environment. Cloak and dagger is an equal opportunity employer for the naughty people we play. Sometimes though you just want ships to darken the sky, missiles to rain on the evil doers and landing ships to shake the ground (oooh I get all jumpy just thinking that!) How can we save our invasions! 1) Wormholes: A natural ftl path exists between two strategic systems, and maybe others. Any ship can transit this. Screw the one week in jump rule. You travel instantaneously. Note this sort of thing makes the wormhole itself a vital resource. If your curre

Be Our Guest

 High passengers (high as in rich first rate accommodations -not as in doped up) can be a lucrative source of income for ships. freighting returns Cr 1,000 per displacement ton. A high passenger takes 5 displacement tons but generates Cr 9,000 or Cr 1800 per ton. In addition there is the oft overlooked phenomena of tipping that can generate a further 10%-20% of a ticket. Of course, freight can't get sick or make crazy demands out of the blue (usually). The following is a list of a few things that can go wrong ship the volatile commodity known as humans. 1- Sickness     1-  Sick guest. Travel exposes a person to all manner of new diseases. Immunization is not foolproof nor universal. Some diseases strike at inopportune times. In the more severe cases a guest may have to enter cryo sleep..      2- Sick crew.  A sick crew member is worse than a sick guest. Someone will have to double up doing their job as well as the patient.      3-  Contagion. A particularly infectious disease mani