Showing posts from December, 2014

Matter Over Mind

Magical weapons are a feature of many (if not all) roleplaying games. Lewis Carroll gave us the vorpal sword. Star wars gave us the light saber (if you don't think that thing is magical talk to a physicist!) SF games with a harder sort of science shy away from such things and compensate with more 'dakka' (though an SMG with a 100 round clip firing 10,000 rounds a minute has its own sort of magic.) But getting back to the so-called magic weapons there are few hard facts given about how they work. Are they sharper, preternaturally lighter to wield or do they have AI (artifact intelligence) letting them compensate for ham fisted humans' lack of skill? I never really asked myself how it worked even when I was running a fantasy campaign, but I'm asking now. In magic as in all things the simplest way of getting the results you want is usually the best. You could make a sword and enchant it plunging it into dragon's blood to make it supernaturally hard and sharp. B

Spontaneous Generation

The first science fiction roleplaying game is generally thought to be Metamorphosis Alpha, not Classic Traveller. MA was the first RPG I even bought. Comparing the two is interesting. Metamorphosis Alpha is clearly in the vein of D&D which is not surprising as they were produced by the same company. Also D&D was pretty much the only game in town, if you pardon the pun. The first law of success is to copy someone who is already successful. Unlike D&D MA had no experience system, levels or classes. Instead characters were differentiated by mutations mostly and to a lesser extent stuff they found. Then Traveller came along. It definitively broke the D&D mold. Starships and Spacemen was published a year after Traveller and retained several D&D conventions such as classes and levels (which seemed to work pretty well.) But Classic Traveller avoided classes, levels. It also had no comprehensive experience system. Characters came to the game fully formed. In this the two

STL: The Next Generation, and the Next, and the Next, and the Next ...

Like so many people I want to travel to the stars because there's probably all manner of interesting stuff out there. Unfortunately Einstein is a meany and slapped a speed limit on us. Newton killed the buzz long before that with his equal and opposite reactions. People are saying you'll have to go a ways in ruining Earth before colonizing Mars becomes attractive. Well traveling to another star within a human lifetime would take enough energy to terraform Mars. For those who want those stars and want to follow science  slavishly (I like to call those kinds of people scientists) we have the generation ship. Okay it won't get you to the stars but it will get your descendants to other stars and they might even resemble you. Yes, I know. Low berths. Low berths are for sissies and suspended animation might not be achievable. More importantly things could go wrong on a decades long voyage and you might want a few crew not kept in suspense (or kept in suspense if you get my dr