Showing posts from May, 2014

The Hits Just Keep on Coming

Risus leads the pack in abstract and wonderful combat rules. Any situation can be considered combat. You get to say what happens to your defeated opponent. Of course beheading a person you just beat at checkers is still considered low class. In Risus combat can take a social or intellectual form. You can blow everyone away when you and your entourage make an entrance at the club or win a reasoned debate. What about losing? After all a person who loses a physical conflict is likely to have some injuries that will take time to heal. Why should characters who go for social and intellectual aspects get away light? In most games a person who creates the smart or charismatic character expects someone else to do the major share of the fighting. My modest suggestion is losing a debate, say will have repercussions. Not only do you lose but your line of reasoning is discredited. This is not to say you're wrong. Anyone can roll all ones. But other people will doubt your reasoning. This is

Playing the Hits

Along with birth and death injury is unavoidable for characters in most RPGs. Unless you play Paranoia in which case you play, die and bring out another clone. Characters are going to get hurt. For the purposes of this article we're dealing with bodily hurt. Though the affects of social and intellectual wounding could make for an interesting future post. Classic Traveller had a simple take on wounding. Minor injuries could be healed with three days of rest and a first aid kit. Serious injuries took a hospital or sickbay to fix, otherwise you were basically crippled pending proper care. Beyond serious wounding you were dead. Now Risus lets you specify what happens to a defeated foe. Maybe you shoot the gun out of their hand, maybe you shoot their hand, maybe you plug them between the eyes. We dealt with being dead already. Now let's deal with healing. Many heroes have heightened healing, whether it be the conventions of the genre or some mutant/genetically engineered/nanot

Islands of the Icy Shores: Inner Worlds

When humanity developed gravitic technology in the later half of the 21st century they suddenly had easy access to the Solar System. Being human that wasn't enough for them. They used breakthroughs in suspended animation to create the Low Berth and sent sleeper ships to Barnard's Star and the Centauri system. A ship could have as little as 20% fuel to make a one way trip. The fuel would allow a 32 week boost and deceleration at 1 gee using 16% of the fuel. The trip to the Centauri system was made at .6 c and took 7 years, 2 months. For most of this time (372 weeks) the ship's systems would be powered down and 1% fuel mass would last about 100 times normal or 400 weeks. Note artificial gravity, heating, and such were shut down. Most ships carried double this amount, at least initially to let them return if necessary. Prometheus  A785669-9  Alpha Centauri A had a habitable garden world with a dense atmosphere and shallow seas. Colonization began when no evidence of intel

Hurts Less, More Missing!

The time was when armor kept your character from getting hit in combat. D&D did it that way. Classic Traveller did it that way and we were happy. Then The Fantasy Trip came out and lo! Armor absorbed damage from an attack. It no longer kept you from being hit. No more attack matrices and charts and such items dear to grognards everywhere. Many left and never looked back. They derided armor class/to hit people. This way made sense. Hitting a person was a matter of skill. Damage was a measure of the force that actually was transmitted to the victim. Even Traveller went with this. The Azhanti High Lightning and Striker games used a damage reduction system.  Ditto 2300 AD when it came along. Realism! Except it had its problems too. For example, a dagger really had no chance of piercing plate armor. Nevertheless many systems allowed a dagger to do a point or two on a good enough damage roll. Some didn't. But then that meant a sword and other weapons needed more damage dice or wh

The Sham

Where you have super beings you will have super shams. It's a fact that most super beings are very outgoing about their powers and abilities. They'll tell you they're vulnerable to wood or yellow or mayonnaise or that they can withstand the explosive force of a hundred pounds of dynamite. This is one of their tropes: convenient exposition. It makes it easy for new readers to catch on but it is unnecessary and pretty foolish. Eventually some wise guy is going to trick you into a yellow, wooden room with two hundred pounds of dynamite in a mayo factory. Far better to let everyone think you're an ordinary guy who happens to wear a costume and fight crime. The Sham (Risus) Phony Vigilante (4) (Making mysterious entrances and exits, not revealing your powers, acting like that right hook hurt) D-List Super (4) (Bulletproof, bending low grade steel over your knee, leaping that borders on flight, heightened senses) Detective (2) Questing Dice [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] (Keepin

The Green Kerbal

Two of my current hobbies are Kerbal Space Program and Superhero MUSHes (a MUSH is basically a chat based rpg.) While I'm working on The Icy Shore out in the shed I want to share my idea for an orginal DC Character: the Green Lantern of Kerbin! Species Kerbals are physically and mentally unremarkable beings except for two abilities: they have courage bordering on stupidity in most cases, and when food, water, or air is scarce they can will themselves into a hibernation state. This makes them excellent astronauts. World The Kerbals inhabit Kermin, a small Earth like world circling a yellow sun in Sector 2525. Little is known of their government or society apart from a massive space program they have created to explore their star system. The Kerbals have a level of technology roughly equivalent to modern Earth. Space travel is still quite difficult and risky. In fact their entire astronaut corps consists clones of their best and brightest. Backstory Dostiyin Kerman is a Kerb

The Icy Shores and Sunless Seas

I was spending entirely too much time pondering my TL 9 Traveller set up. I researched a bit of the First Interstellar War for inspiration and found it a little vague on some points. TL 9 gives you Jump 1. Even if you want to be a stickler and say Alpha Centauri, the nearest star, is outside the drive's range standard drive can simply do the trip in two jumps each way. Except the Terran ships couldn't. They used the drive only for in system trips and I guess to the Oort Cloud. There they discovered a rogue planet a light year out they could use for wilderness refueling to get to Alpha Centauri and Barnard's Star. Mention was made that the drives were fuel guzzlers. Maybe instead of .1 M * Jn they used .3 or .4 M * Jn but you could still get around this with tankers and setting up a refueling station. I'm going with the drives needing a large mass at both ends of the jump for it to work, say Pluto size or bigger. Bigger masses work better as you can fix their positions

More Icy Shores

I started this blog a while ago and chose its title based on the fact that I felt my rpg days were in a twilight period. It's more like a Long Night by now as I've really not indulged in Tabletop gaming in almost a year. Plus I was depressed about a variety of things and when I'm depressed, I'm a jerk. I was reflecting on changing the title recently since instead of a Long Night things are starting to feel like 7:00 am. But I'm keeping it because 1) Changing it might be a big hairy deal 2) I may lose readers for the Internet godz are quick to take offense and 3) it still fits in a different way. If you're like most of us you have a job you toil at unappreciated. You get home, make some dinner, deal with chores and by twilight, you're free and ready to work on GM stuff. So Twilight is really like Frank Herbert's 'hour of the assassin' for us. It's when much of our work gets done and our plots hatched. The Icy Shore Recap: Humans have sp

The Icy Shores

Why does Classic Traveller have to be adventure in the far future? Most of the weapons in the LBB set are items you can find in any National Guard Armory (except the laser weapons.) The Icy Shores Humanity has achieved a maximum tech level of 10. Gravity control was developed in the mid 21st century. This led to gravity confined fusion and eventually jump drives. The first wave of sleeper ships set out for the nearer stars in the 2070's. They had reached their destinations and reported back by 2100 in many cases and a second waves of colony ships set out in the first decades of the 22nd century. Some of the ships headed for Alpha Centauri and Barnard's Star didn't make it. radiation, drive failure, insanity inflicted losses. Many ships stopped at rogue planets or asteroids .3 to .5 parsecs from Sol. Some ships set out to reach these very planetoids and brown dwarfs and build their own colonies on the Fringe of human society. In the middle of the 22nd century the jump

Every D.A.N.G. Sci Fi Cliche You'll Ever Need:

In reviewing the Only Sci Fi Starchart You'll Ever Need and my posts on the subject I realize I omitted the Diverse Alliance of Nice Guys (DANG. for short.) Yes, I left the DANG character cliches out, the DANG ship cliches out, the DANG Planet cliches out. I left all the DANG information out. (For my friends who don't speak English as their first language let me point out 'dang' is an exclamation of dismay or anger, like 'ach', 'oi', 'sacre' or 'rowr' if you are a catgirl.) Character Cliches Space Patrol Crewman (Scanning for pirates or unusual phenomena, piloting a patrol ship, space combat, finding loopholes in non-interference directives, arguing that democracy is the best governmental system for the galaxy, and respecting other cultures) Space Police Officer (Finding clues, shooting it out with outlaws, figuring out how new crimes are committed, and finding out how the monster works without dying) Licensed Telepath (Reading m

Infernal Devices

Many games have attacks with continuing effects. The most popular example is probably fire. Hit a target with enough flames and it catches fire itself and burns merrily. There are other examples of course: poison, acid, smear campaign, a magical curse and drowning to name just a few. How do you represent this? First of all combat in Risus does not necessarily mean being shot up or stabbed. It can be a matter of losing position or will to fight or just being placed in a spot where you have to surrender or die. So some of these effects are more appropriate for lethal combat. Again, there are no hard and fast rules in Risus. Setting a mage's robes on fire will certainly crimp his spell casting.  So here are some thoughts on how to model continued damage. Poison weapons: poison can be a bonus to your die roll or an extra die. You could also give an assassin type character a double pump cliche like Poison Master [3]. He's capable of a brutal attack or two them must reload his po


Everybody dreams. Some dreams are the stuff of legend (or vice versa.) Everyone has to dream. It's your brain attempting to organize the events of the day and say high to your subconscious. In some settings dreams may be prophetic. They may be the medium for spirits to mortal men. By their very nature they have a certain ambiguity. Was it your deceased business partner speaking to you from beyond the grave or a fragment of underdone potato you had for dinner? Dreams are ideal for providing nudges to player characters while leaving some ambiguity to the world. Are the gods who speak in dreams real? Some dreams do change the world: Mary Shelley got the idea for Frankenstein from a dream. James Cameron was inspired to write Terminator by a dream. Elias Howe figured out how to construct the sewing machine from his dream and Frederick August Kekule discovered the chemical structure of benzene when he had a dream of a group of snakes swallowing their tails. So dreams could be a way f

Success At Failure

I was just observed by my boss and my efficiency report inspired this post: failure. Every character fails sometimes. GMs tend to dwell on improbable successes. We all know if the character dies on say 01-99 and becomes emperor of all on a 00 there's about a 50/50 chance of their being a coronation of all ceremony. But characters do fail. Sometimes it's as simple as taking a swing and missing. Other times are more involved, like the cyberjock who HAS to avoid the Black Ice security programs and shut down the evil corporation before the security alarms go off and the goon squads arrive. Usually we don't care how much a swing misses in a fight. This is due to pacing (fights are supposed to go fast, unless you're playing Hero System or Space Opera), and character investment: i.e. it was one lousy die roll. On the other hand if the character with the lousy luck spent the whole game session sneaking through the Castle of Doom to creep behind a tapestry depicting human

The Size of the Fight In the Dog

Real life story. The wife and I have two immensely willful Yorkies. It doesn't help that they are muscular and oversize (16 and 20 lbs. each.) For foo foo dogs they are badasses. Trust me. The younger, larger dog is very anti-social by nature and moreso after being traumatized by Hurricane Sandy. He doesn't like other dogs and will bark at them like crazy hoping to keep them away. He's also jittery. We were walking our dogs when the youngster caught sight of a pit bull pup. The pup was already 6" taller than him in every direction and my dog barked his head off at him. I pulled him away from the pit bull and his owners, another nice couple. But then the pit bull slipped his lease and bore down on my Yorkie. A dog fight ensued. I tried to separate the dogs. My wife grabbed my dogs leash. I tried grabbing a snapping snarling pit bull until the owner grabbed his leash. I breathed a sigh of relief and then my dog tore out of his harness and attacked the pit bull. Rou