Two Words

What two words always start a fight? Roll Initiative! The initiative mechanic is an industry standard. In its basic form, you roll, they roll. High roll goes first. All things being equal you go first about half the time, they go first about half the time and there is a certain balance achieved. What does initiative mean in the real world? Actually the give and take of Initiative in game systems is way more forgiving than the real world. A truly experienced combatant could take several actions before less skilled opponents can respond. When the fur ball starts losing that initial momentum cal lead to people going to ground, being defensive and seeking to live, not strike back. Initiative can mean very little in a close up fight, with everyone shooting and striking like mad.  Some tweaks to Initiative follow. Why just use one system for a game? There are many different forms combat can take.  No Initiative. Combat is nasty. You may still roll to see who makes their hit and damage rolls


 One of the interesting and often ignored rules of Classic Traveller was 'expending' points of Endurance to make melee attacks or sprint. CT was often about resource management. This rule was dropped from subsequent editions of the game. No one seemed to like it =I get six good shoots then I'm -3 to hit with my chainsaw? Something like that despite the fact that most people had a plethora of guns and could fire enough rounds to darken the sun. I don't want to suggest using Endurance/blows, I have no desire to be lynched. However, what if Endurance could be expended to allow extraordinary efforts? Reserving this for PCs or important NPCs would improve a group's odds of survival, especially if you're using old style simultaneous action turns. It will also give players an incentive to cut and run rather than engage in long running fights. Once their Endurance runs out, no more playing action hero. As with all combat, your Endurance score is not changed due to wound

Hyper Drives (and Still More) Part 3

 I hate reaction-less drives but I love getting places quickly. I don't mind gravity control, except it makes a lot of things too easy and makes your spacecraft into a boat or plane with extended range. So entry into Hyper-space is via a node. Node can be any size. You create a node and it moves towards matter, to send it into Hyper-space. Matter doesn't get drawn into the node unless there's other matter to balance the motion created.  If you you create a node between two objects they will both be drawn to the node. Fix the objects and you get a gravity source. Make enough little nodes and you have grab plating. Yay!  You'll want to shut it down when you approach a planet. The same forces drawing you to the deck will also be tugging very hard the opposite way on your ship's belly and landing gear. The tension on the different parts of the ship don't create any thrust over all. Newton is not mocked.  Note you want to shut off the artificial gravity when coming i

The Experiment From Hell

 It's been a while since I showed my love of Operation White Box. Here goes. On a remote island in 1940, scientists from Japan's infamous Unit 731, found an amazing form of life. It was neither animal, plant or fungal but took on characteristics f all three. Nourished with tree sap it would grow into a twisted copy of the tree. Nourished with blood it would grow into a twisted plant animal hybrid with a vicious temper and a cellulose-like armored skin. In short order experiments began on the locals. The Unit was spurred on by rumors of the Americans developing their own plant men ( Project Cadmus ). The study was stopped after the death of 12 subjects, and the experiment was restarted using monkeys. The human subjects were hastily buried. One night locals snuck out, against the curfew and risking death, to give their friends and relatives a proper burial on sacred land. The scientists eventually discovered the theft and Kampetai police began a brutal investigation, tracking dow

Hyper Drives (and More) Part 2

 Yes more. You see I find it interesting that according to the TL charts in Traveller societies tend to discover fusion power, reactionless drives and the Jump drive around the same time (TLs 8-9). That's when the big jump (hah) from ground grubbers to space capable cultures begin.  Let's take fusion first. Our hyper-space is a realm of tremendous gravity. In ftl flight we usually kick around its outer reaches. Digging deeper, gravity and pressure increase. That's just the boost we need for attempting fusion! Making a tiny aperture to hyper-space we start the fusion process, we inject hot plasma into hyper and use various power taps to extract power. The waste products, radiation and waste heat remain (for the most part) in hyper-space. Ever wonder why ships fusing tons of fuel don't need radiators the size of a small moon?  Note that we still need radiators, for the life support system and machinery. Life support needs to cool off and equipment will still need cooling

Hyper Drives Part 1

 Imagine if we took a drill and (somehow) bored a tunnel from the North to South Pole. The tunnel is kept in a vacuum, the walls frictionless. We take a sealed car and drop it on the hole. After 38-42 minutes the car arrives at the South Pole. Gravity draws the car to the center of the Earth and afterwards slows it down. We soon realize there are few people who want to go from the North to South Pole and dig a new tunnel from Antarctica to Australia allowing researchers and easy commute. We drop a car into the tunnel and discover it also takes about 40 minutes to drive. In fact any tunnel connecting any two points on the Earth's surface will allow a gravity assisted transit in about 40 minutes.  The transit time is a function of the density of the planet and the gravitational constant. Assume our universe is a skin over 'hyper-space'. Stars and planets are laid out on the skin. If you break this skin then hyper-space does its best to drag you in. It could be a very elaborat

Needlers and the Port Authority

Needlers have been mentioned in many science fiction stories going way back. They may be second only to blasters in space opera settings. Despite this there's only a vague (or several) notions what they are. They range from energy weapons to slugthrowers and the only consensus is that they have a very small bore size. So I consider myself to have a free run here. Boarding actions are much rarer than entertainment media would have you believe. There are good reasons for this. People boarding a ship are either extremely well prepared, armed, and skilled -or incompetent (lunatics, morons, fanatical take yer pick). If your ship is boarded by the former the best maneuver is to lay your weapons on the deck and make no sudden movements. Boarding actions by the latter are usually met with resistance because the defenders have nothing to lose. They are likewise met with booby traps, explosive decompression and many other tricks when they least expect it.  The thing most media fails to

Ship Dossier: Launches

Ship Dossier: Launches
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