Showing posts from July, 2014

Dead Calm In the Icy Shores

After restricting the Terrans (at least initially) to ships with Jump-1 and house ruling that fuel use is quadruple I found that a number of interesting and sun like stars were out of range. Not to be outdone by mere nature I decided to posit an infra structure allowing humans to visit said stars. First and foremost there is the canon solution of drop tanks. I don't think the construction of these pose problems to use now. The tricky part is to jettison them and get them far enough away from the ship before it jumps to insure the tank survives. That's one way to go 2 parsecs though it take you two jumps at present. Another solution is a Jump Ring. A Jump Ring is a station in orbit beyond the hundred diameter limit and usually powered by several large fission or fusion plants. When a ship is ready to jump it moves to the center of the ring where lines or other transfer systems power up the jump drive of the ship. Again the ship has to move out and remove the power cables if

Danger Humans!

A trend in many older roleplaying games that has been reversed is seeing humans as the default species: no special powers or abilities of course. After all other people don't look like anything special do they? The accuracy of that portrayal is up to debate until we meet other intelligent lives or discover elves and dwarves exist. Recently games such as (A)D&D have tried to address this by letting humans start out with extra skills or feats (not feet) to balance the natural abilities of elves and dwarves (detecting secret doors is obviously evolutionary gold in a world of dungeons, monsters and tombs.) Otherwise who'd take a human? Previously they merely capped the experience level these long lived, intelligent, and resourceful beings could attain. A lot of people have remarked on our warlike tendencies and assume that when we do reach the stars our combination of warrior heritage and engineering Masters will make us a potent force. I don't buy it. There are no soft

Everything You Could Want to Go Wrong

A technique for gm'ing presented by the man himself, S.John Ross is to send a group off and make a list of everything that can go wrong on a journey. Of course Marc W. Miller's Classic Traveller is famed for its use of checklists. So let's see what we get mashing the two together. Complications in red. TYPICAL ACTIVITIES I. Arrive in star system. A rough jump transition damaged machinery or caused illness of an influential passenger. A. Scan area for potential danger, problems, and other data. The scanners malfunction.  A spacewalk is required to fix it.  Someone is scanning you while you're essentially blind. You discover potential danger and other problems. You scan someone who doesn't want to BE scanned. B. Set course insystem. Debris or another hazard requires you to divert and lose time. You don't see the debris in time (see (A).) C. Possible ship encounter. Actual ship encounter. II. Local gas giant. A. Achieve orbit. El

The High Cost of Justice

The premise is simple: there's a process or substance that grants superhuman abilities. The catch is the abilities are not permanent. You need a regular supply of the stuff. If it involves gadgets then they break down or burn out or run out of whatever exotic fuel they use. Fortunately you have a supplier who wishes to remain unknown. Everyday you receive your new dose/batteries etc in the mail or at a pick up point. There seems to be no permanent side effects from this. What you do with the power is up to you. Choice Number 1: You use the power to embark on a one man crime wave. Result: The supply stops. Period. In fact you might just run out of juice a few hours early when you are flying across town or lifting a ten ton safe if you go for such activities. Choice Number 2: You decide to use the power for you own benefit, not necessarily robbing or looting but giving yourself an edge. You go to Las Vegas to clean up or enter professional sports etc. Result: The supply sto

Tricking Out Traveller

My love for Classic Traveller is based on how easy it is to stick whatever you want in. Bend the system whatever way you want it is very hard to break. For my money you don't even have to stick with communication is limited to speed of travel. That would only mess you up if you used the Third Imperium setting. The 3I is not necessarily Classic Traveller. It doesn't even get a mention till the fourth book and even then it got a mention in one paragraph (I think.) So a titling a list as 'Things They Left Out of CT' would be presumptuous and out of the 'do it your own damn self' spirit of the Old School. So here's a list of things I would like to add to CT for my game. Please note they heavily favor a space pirate theme for some reason. 1) Laser pistol: the laser carbine and rifle are near and dear to my heart as they both scream SF! However they can be a pain at times. How do you use them when you're wearing a back pack? Similarly sometimes you want a

Life and Death in the Icy Shores

So once more some notes on Traveller: The Icy Shores. I always had some problems with the idea of piracy in Traveller. It's just strange to pile into a ship cruise over to another ship that is probably as fast as yours and shoot it up to plunder cargo ... leaving a multi-million dollar ship behind or taking it and offing the crew and proving you are a sociopath worth the Navy's bother to hunt down and blow out of the stars. Not to mention in most settings the prey probably has missiles or lasers capable of shooting hell out of your ship. Quite apart from how hard the pirate is to catch it's just not a cost effective return. Mind you I do not have a problem with piracy itself. I'd just practice it differently. There are ways to bring the effort and cost down. Hijacking is one way. Get one of your people onboard the ship, have them hack the computer or otherwise raise merry hell to keep the ship immobile and helpless long enough for you to board. If you manage to ge

Stepping Out of Your Tech Level

A long time ago I was an art major. Life happened and then I was a teacher (not eating will do that to your career plans. Recently I began drawing again. Only I jumped from Tech 1 (paper, pencil) to Tech 8 (iPad!) Making a tech jump like that is a bitch. I really don't know how these science officers on tv shows back engineer fantastic xeno tech AND wind up using it like experts. Let me say drawing on a tablet is quite fun. In fact I have several drawing apps. I use different apps for different kinds of drawings. The app with object based drawing is great for drawing things like deck plans. Draw a console and save it. Then clone fifty for the bridge of your star juggernaut. The other apps have different brushes and amenities that may apply to am image I'm trying to do. But I'm not an expert. Transferring images between the apps is still giving me fits. But there's a more telling issue of control. The tablet and the stylus are too damned slippery. The control is no

Socket to Me!

Sometimes I write about my experiences and what I take away from them and bring to the table. Other times I'm scrambling for content I think others would find interesting. This in itself is much of my gaming style. Sometimes I'm working on developing my character and finding his place in the grand story and other times I'm looking for loot and shiny things. Last week was my first week really off work and relaxing and quite enjoyable with no life lessons so prepare for loot! We've all been there in Traveller and hell any game where you have the means to purchase a (heavily financed) ship. You finally get your beautiful chariot of the gods! Except, in order to afford it you had to leave some things out: namely weapons! Weapons eat up the credits fast. This is compounded in Classic  Traveller where you also require a decent computer to run the (also) expensive software that lets you hit stuff with the damned things. Software also does not fall under ship financing agre

The Art of Being Super

I had the pleasure of attending a show by Penn and Teller once. Part of the show involved Teller having his body separated into several boxes. Each part seeming to remain separate and still interact with Pen who was disassembling his partner. That was impressive enough but then they showed you who Teller did it, exiting the stack of boxes through a trapdoor in the stage and crawling on his back between each box to stick his head, foot and foot through to create the illusion. Here, watch it: Really Teller's level of dexterity and flexibility is amazing. Not oh gee lookie that amazing. Scary amazing.  A few years later I'm in an rp playing Wildcat, an aged and ageless super hero who started in the 40's and was essentially a buff guy in a cat suit. Doesn't sound like a super hero. People argue whether Batman should be called a super hero because he doesn't 'do' anything. Wildcat doesn't even have a uti

Back to School

I was pondering CT generation and how to give people a couple more skills without resorting to Mercenary style CG. Here's a quick post on what I have: University: Characters may attend college upon mustering out. It's assumed the service gives them a loan and in return they forego one mustering out roll. Enrollment: +8 DM +1 if Int +8 DM +2 if Edu +8 University lasts four years and imparts one skill from the Advanced or Advanced Education Table of the service. Note the character chooses the skill he wants. Honors allows a second skill to be chosen. Optionally +1 Edu or Int may be taken instead of a skill. Honors 7+ DM +1 if Int +8 DM +2 if Edu +10 Really mean refs can give the character a survival roll. Failure means the character is not dead per se but thrown out for whatever reason you can think of or just doesn't make it academically.  Survival +4 DM +1 if Int +8 DM +2 if Edu +10

No Substitutes For Experience

There are two benefits for a player character in most rps: money and power. Money is pretty self explanatory. You use it to get stuff in the equipment manual or ale and whores or whatever. Power can cover a variety of categories but the catch all I use is it makes the character harder to mess with. It could be an alliance with an organized crime lord, a new set of armor that makes you harder to hurt or experience that improves your abilities. Improving your abilities is the most sought for quantity in most games I've played in because quite frankly, I as the gm don't take them away from my characters (99% true.) Equipment can be dropped, money can be stolen but if you're an expert with an auto pistol then you are an expert. Though I suppose the pistol can be stolen, all you need is to get your hands on another one. The beauty of a game like Risus or Classic Traveller, my current favorites, is the simplicity of their systems yet those very systems also have a certain gra

Blast From the Past

The first game I ever bought was Metamorphosis Alpha. My group already had a guy running D&D. I had borrowed his books but I wasn't very good at it to judge from the reaction. I was also more into SF. MA didn't click with me either though I ran a couple of one shots. I found it way too bizarre given my tastes at the time ran Asimov, Niven and Clarke. Then I bought three little black books that changed my rping forever. Traveller spoke to me, the wanna be SF writer. While Metamorphosis Alpha was a closed Universe aboard a gigantic, incomprehensible and dying starship, Traveller gave you the Galaxy. In fat it gave you so much in its simple elegance I had no idea what to do with it. My friends and I wasted many sessions playing murder hobos on a Scout. When the Journal of the Travellers Aid Society came out I devoured each issue trying to get a grasp of the system and gming and I never quite got it. Many years later and most of my paper Traveller books are now gone and rep

Am I My Brother's Maker?

I've run right up against the central tenet of Classic Traveller; which I'm loving more and more as I work with it. CT doesn't even pretend to be able to cover everything. Now if T5 is the equivalent of Ikea, then CT was Home Depot. You built your furnishings from scratch. I'm trying to introduce androids into the Icy Shores setting and there is nearly nothing to go on in the LBBs or JTAS my primary resources. From the JTAS I get that androids are synthetic but biological beings. I fudged the TLs for robotics already. I won't hesitate to do it again for some cool androids. Androids have many of the advantages of transplanted human stock story wise. They can be alien but ultimately comprehensible. You don't have to worry about making them too human and of course there is common ground for interaction. I doubt we'd have much to talk about with sentient plasma balls for example. My Setting: While modifying human DNA (except to cure genetic disorders), is