Showing posts from September, 2013

Real Men Use Kinetic Energy to Kill

Traveller has been referred to as hard sf which is interesting for a game with FTL, psionics and reactionless drives. I always thought the reason for that was in the nuances. For example instead of blasters or other rayguns the weapons consist mainly of slugthrowers. Yep, board a ship in Traveller and you're liable to get shotgunned or similarly riddled with bullets till the air pouring from your vacc suit makes you sound like an convulsing bagpipe player. The game's designer defends this concept very eloquently: a bullet is a simple and efficient way to kill a person and likely to be around for a long time. Energy weapons make two appearances in Classic Traveller, the laser carbine and laser rifle and they are quite impressive and believable. An early laser carbine makes its appearance at TL 8 presumably for sniping or as an amped up targeting system. By TL 9 a culture has developed lasers as their battlefield weapons of choice and developed ablative armor to defend against

More on Minicosms

For the record I got the idea for minicosms (see Space: 2099 post) from the game Diaspora and an article in White Dwarf (can't find the issue sorry) by Marcus Rowland. You should check out Diaspora and anything by Mr. Rowland. The Alderson Drive used in Jerry Pournelle's Co-Dominium series is somewhat similar. The idea of minicosms is that a group of stars is very closed in jump space for various esoteric (handwaved) reasons that don't have much bearing on their real space locations. Alpha Centauri might be very close to a star in the galactic core for example but Earth might be nearly impossible to reach. Minicosms take the form of polyhedra with their component stars scattered across their surface. The most common form is a dodecahedron (sphere really.) Other shapes exist and I'll work them out if this game has any legs (a tetrahedron or torus would be awesome!) Unlike Classic Traveller in which a jump drive was measured in parsecs of range a jump is referred to a

Brother Alien

One of the tropes of many space opera settings (especially Traveller) is the scattering of primitive humans across the galaxy by an advanced alien race. Over the thousands of years in unusual environments some of these races may evolve strange abilities, morphologies and cultures. It worked for The Legion of Super Heroes. Battlestar Galactica did away with the alien travel agency entirely and simply assumed the humans somehow lost most of their technology after reaching Earth or wherever. The benefits to using this trope is that you don't have to create an alien race from scratch (which is a lot of work) and you don't have to worry that your new race isn't weird enough. After all they are human. The problems with this approach is that you seldom get any clue why  some advanced culture would take a bunch of cavemen (or Romans etc.) and plop them down on another planet let alone a whole bunch of planets. Some reasons: 1) Labor force- Humans are adaptable and show high

Fermi Paradox and Roleplay

If I'm going to do my take on a Traveller setting I think I ought to ponder the Fermi Paradox. This basically asks, "Where the hell are all the <censored> the aliens?" In an ancient and vast universe where is all the intelligent life? Most answers to this problem involve most of the aliens blowing themselves up before colonizing the galaxy. That's kind of a pessimistic view. It means that all these aliens managed to destroy themselves without ever managing to create at least one offworld colony to survive their equivalent of World War Three. It also means that our intrepid explorers will encounter many radioactive cinders with little of interest besides tech a few centuries out of date. Perhaps instead races usually develop interstellar travel after they already reached some new level of intelligence (or even a new kind of existence.) Humanity might be one of those very rare precocious races to find their way into FTL and discover a universe full off ancient

Space 2099

Reimagining 70's SF tv series like Battlestar Gaactica has become popular lately. I was trying to rework Space: 1999 which much like Galactica started with a cool premise but took far too many liberties with physics (to quote Isaac Asimov, "Moons don't do that!) and had a few problems with execution. Space 2099: mankind has moved out into the solar system with fusion drive ships. capturing asteroids and bringing them into Earth orbit for mining is a booming industry. Nevertheless Earth is facing stiff competition from miners in the Asteroid Belt and on Luna and negotiations for mining rights to the Jovian moons are breaking down. It is a tense situation and industrial sabotage and spying is rife. Asteroid Base Alpha is one asteroid and rumored to be the site of a very rich strike. Without warning the base suddenly is closed to ships and a new commander is called in. Arriving at the base the commander discovers the rumors are a cover for the high security. Scientists

Reinventing Traveller

I began reading some old school articles about Traveller. When I say Traveller, I refer to the bare bones 3 LBB set, better known as Classic Traveller or CT (here in New York CT has a much less flattering bit of slang associated with it so it's always going to be just Traveller.) I used to love this game. I must have run a half dozen campaigns in it before immature schmuck that I was I decided I didn't like the armor affects hit chances mechanics and a few other trivial rules and got into FASA's Star Trek. Traveller kept bringing me back in, especially when they fooled with the combat system. Now I'm older and (hopefully) wiser and have far too little time to read a 400+ page book to learn a new game and I broke out my LBBs, bought some new pdfs and started reading old articles. One of the things I'd tweak if I get a chance to run another game is the travel system. As it stands you have to travel weeks and weeks to get beyond explored space wherever you are. M

Steampunk in Five Points

Continuing my gritty steampunk setting what are the themes/tropes/memes etc? I have points to make (Five Points ... manhattan get it? No? Then go watch Copper on BBC and get a DVD of Gangs of New York .) Point 1 This steampunk is close to its roots - cyberpunk! You're either very rich and trying to get richer or very poor and looking to get very rich. Everyone is hungry. The street urchins want their next meal. The robber barons want bigger profits. Industry wants coal and steel. The army wants men. Point 2 Life is cheap. Death is everywhere. Confederates and anarchist are alway attempting what today would be called terror attacks. There's someone looking to roll you on every corner and that's just everyday life! Let's not even get into the what the Astors or Vanderbilts will do if you mess with their bottom line. In addition most medicine is pretty primitive apart from prosthetics or mad science. they can't treat TB but they can keep your brain alive in a jar i