Showing posts from October, 2016

Footrubs As An Integral Part of a Space Program

Here's the deal. Real life is keeping me hopping. It turns out retiring is actually more work than the job was at least for the next few days. I started this and was going to use it for an introduction for a long post about how I  am going to treat spacecraft and lifters in my setting. I still am but just not today. So I owe you a couple of posts and I hope you enjoy this introduction. Bear in mind if you use footrubs for personal gain I get a cut. It's only fair. "Don't. Stop." Ranna Morrigen gasped. Jorge stopped. "... why did you ... oh. I meant to say, "Don't stop." Gasping was hard on your ability to parse apparently. "Oh. Sorry," Jorge returned to rubbing the lady's feet. The left one in particular. Ranna stretched slowly and completely. "You're very good with your hands," she finally managed. "I'm a whiz at gravitics, boson manipulators and programming. Welding gives me problems and intern

Numbers Runners Redux

"Captain! Captain!" Sandoval yelled excitedly. She was waving a folder excitedly. "Yeah," the Captain, also the deck master and busy as hell, looked up from his bill of lading. A vape stick hung from his lip. "Do you see what the low techies did here?" "Hah?" "The locals! Their computer went down a week or so ago and they're doing navigation calculations by ... hand I guess or using their brains," Sandoval said. "That's ... impressive," the Captain allowed slowly. He pondered it a moment and asked, "How do they manage to do it in a timely fashion? They must have to come up with a couple a week at least." "They're amazing. They have these sort of rulers to figure jump logs. They use these projectors with mathematical designs called nomograms that represent the various jump factors and they got thousands of pages of logarithmic table they look stuff up with. It doesn't even use one comp

Numbers Runners

Zaonia faced an embargo. For some worlds this would be an economic disaster and for other literally a slow death. Zaonia had water, breathable air and a biosphere that you could work with. What was more, during the Great Flame Out they had learned self sufficiency. They still felt the bite. There was a shrunken market for thier goods. Subsidized merchants had their routes changed to exclude the world. Free Traders were strongly encouraged to look for bargains elsewhere or face the mother of all balloon payments on their ship mortgages. Zaonia had a small merchant fleet, a shoestring operation. It had some grey area opportunists (smugglers) and it had other small local operations who owned their patched together little ships like Belters and tramp freighters. Shoestring operations usually do not employ navigators. Instead they buy a jump tape. It isn't recorded on tape  but the name persists due to the tape you unwind to unpack the storage media that holds coordinates for a ju

The Immoral Equivalent of War Pt. 2

The most densely settled area of Zaonia was called the saddle, a fertile valley between two spurs of a mountain range. the frates River ran through the valley. The Tech Knights and ultra wealthy (the dozen or so) lived in villas on islands or on the riverbanks. The fertile banks of the river held farms. The foothills on either side of the river had hunting lodges and summer homes for the more important regular citizens. The Mayor had a hunting lodge at the foot of one hill, secluded and the scene of many a backroom deal. It was a bitch to reach by car, unless your car flew. Jorge Pierre Guttman's car flew. The beat up aero came down precisely in front of the cabin. Jorge jumped out to hold the door for his passenger who annoyedly waved him off and hooped out on her own. She was no fragile flower. "Well what do you think?" Jorge asked. Ranna regarded the cabin a moment and asked, "Were there any survivors?" Jorge bristled a little at that. He had found th

Long Range Desert Grotesque

As the Allied forces in North Africa began successful operations against the Afrika Corps the Axis command decided to think out of the box. Due the difficulties of resupply across the Mediterranean a local source of reinforcements was investigated by Ahnenerbe specialists and S.S. wizards. The circles were drawn, the tanna leaves brewed, and the rites performed in forgotten tombs. The new recruits were tireless, superhumanly strong and needed no food or water. They traveled with surprising speed over the desert dunes on their bandage wrapped feet in a stride that never faltered Lesser mummies vary greatly in strength and capabilities and may have from 2 to 4 hit dice. Unlike most undead they have no fear of sunlight. They take only half damage from bullet or explosions since they no longer have working internal organs. Their bandages provide two points of armor per hit die. Fire is their greatest weakness. Any flame attack does double damage and 1d4 the round after hitting. Lesse

Poll Positions

I've been writing game designs here for a while and I noticed my narratives are increasing in length. I've personally had a low tolerance for people sticking narratives into games. I'm buying a game sell me a game. Don't add the first chapter of your never to be completed novel into it. Perhaps I'm a little harsh in that. In my defense I'm not charging you anything for my ideas and game stats so look at the narratives as a little something extra you could take or leave if they aren't to your liking. Feedback on my Hawking Courier book was very positive for the format and narratives. Personally I like to give you a writing piece that will help you enlarge your sandbox of play and give you more ideas, not just show you I can write (anyone can write, it's writing well  that is the problem). So a short poll and be brutal: Keep the narratives Lose the narratives and write more crunch Write more crunch and write a damned book already Keep everyth

The Immoral Equivalent of War

Dame Ranna, one of the younger and more hellacious Tech Knights made a decision. She loved her homeworld, Zaonia. She'd already lost an eye in its defense. She knew the people were clever and tough and that soon none of that would matter. Zaonia was failing to progress technologically and surrounded by star drive capable worlds. The longer Zaonia waited playing with internal combustion and vacuum tubes the less likely it would ever amount to anything in the face of more advanced and expanding worlds. There was a glimmer of hope. Old Earth had gone from Zaonia's level of technology to interplanetary flight in about a century and it didn't have more advanced neighbors to steal from  emulate. Earth however made a good deal of its progress due to two global wars. A costly but certain spur to progress. Ranna needed something similar. Then she started the buzz. The offworlders considered Zaonians backward, a stupid pastoral people. There was some truth. Most offworlders who k

Automat-ic Assumption

The Inerzan merchant looked a little sinister though it wasn't his fault. A black scarf covered his lower face. red locks framed his dark face and intense green eyes.  He gestured angrily at Mayor Burns but his voice was more controlled. "So you honor, respectfully, I want my loving money back!" he concluded. Mayor Burns looked at him from across a truly massive desk of the local stone wood. He steepled his fingers thoughtfully and then called on his intercom. "Jorge, please bring in Mr. Prigo." Jorge Pierre Guttman ushered the local in. The merchant noted the young man's hair and complexion, so similar to his own and frowned slightly at his unmasked face. A handsome fellow to be so unsanitary. On Inerze a new virus broke out every few weeks in the crowded arcologies. Steen Prigo sat down haevily and the Mayor bristled at him, "I ain't told you to sit. We're ending this little scam right now. No need to take a load off. Get up!" Pri

Black (Lagoon) Hack!

1943 A hidden lagoon in the jungles of Brazil; holds a secret - a monstrous creature half man and half fish. The creature runs amuck on an isolated rubber plantation, a plantation owned by Japanese expatriots. Some of these still have strong ties to their homeland and a message is sent. This is a creature that could cause havoc to the enemies of the Rising Sun. The creature is captured and subdued using explosive charges and torches. A U-Boat is despatched from the Third Reich to bring a horrific cargo to Florida. The Man-Fish The Man-Fish is a 5 HD creature. Its alligator like skin absorbs four points of damage. It has 1d10 usage die to represent its limited endurance out of water. The creature's level for making or avoiding attacks on it  is considered to be half the highest number on its usage die, so it starts at 5 (1d10), then becomes 4 (1d8), 3 (1d6) etc to a minimum of 2 (1d4). The usage die is rolled every minute of normal activity, every moment of combat. The creat

Coffee and Nobility

"Sit yourself down and have some breakfast, we got time to spare," Mayor Louie said gesturing grandly. The grand gesture went unnoticed by the crowd at the counter. They were more interested in their coffee and eggs. His driver, Jorge Pierre Guttman sat down and doffed his Taxi cap with some misgivings. Red dreadlocks spilled out to cover his shoulders. "C'mon ... my treat. What's the problem? I got you by the hour today ... this is a democracy ain't it?" the Mayor snapped, grabbing the ketchup near him. "Actually we're listed as a feudal technocracy run by an oligarchy," Jorge said slowly. "Yeah yeah them guys run the big stuff. I deal with the day to day stuff and my part is a democracy!" the Mayor answered, putting too much ketchup on his eggs. He regarded his half drowned eggs sourly before he added the home fries to the mixture and began eating. "I don't know how the Tech Knights would feel about your assessm

Man Made Horrors

I haven't done a post for The Front or  the Black Hack for a while. I'm very find of creatures and monsters in a WW2 game and what better place for science to go awry? I meant to use these ages ago but the WW2 Champions game I ran fell by the wayside and I don't stat up characters for the Hero system for fun so here goes using TBH and The Front! Blitz Truppen Blitz truppen began as recruits that tested for an abnormally high resistance to electrical shock. Under the program the recruits were given mutagenic substances and progressively larger electrical shocks until they began to depend on them much as an addict does his daily dose. When powered down blitz truppen are normal if lethargic humans. They can absorb electrical power to raise their strength and endurance to superhuman levels. They remain very susceptible to orders from those controlling their electrical power source and behave in a zombie like fashion. Blitz truppen are 4 HD monsters and use the rules for


First an unpleasant truth that Ian Borchardt (Reverance Pavane) revealed to me: One of the interesting things about the Traveller Tech Level is that it is a very rapid rise to Jump Drive capability, at which point the rate of technological increase with TL slows drastically. This is perfectly in keeping with what Traveller originally was - an interstellar wargame, where the minor capabilities of advanced planets to support naval operations was important. So TL 9-15 is basically the variation in Imperial space capability. That bend at TL9 is vitally important as far as the universe is concerned. The idea that the TLs beyond 9 are variation of a standard Imperial Tech (TL 15) other worlds copy as well as possible makes sense. Once you reach the stars you encounter other planets and see how they do things you try to do the same (or better).  It also allows for a lot of fleets that could tussle with each other without a decisive advantage from technology (until High Guard came out

Seems Like Old Times

Medical Log: Following L'Rre Nok's possession by a non biological entity we have modified Shuttle 1 with a psionic screen and are currently tracking the entity to learn more about it. My companions are rather more enthusiastic about this mission than I am. Nok: It's been a while. Tivk: Here we are back on Shuttle 1. Why did it take so long to get back to basics? Doc: Let's see, you started a civil war on Nodens ... Mukh: They were using stunners! It was a very civil war indeed! Tivk: Quiet. There's still an ongoing investigation. Doc: Crashed a robot dog during temporal research, nearly killing Riasi, and possibly altering our timeline ... Mukh: That was Shavetail's fault! He couldn't keep his eyes off Riasi's ass. Doc: And you crushed a number of security vehicles at the Liberty Starbase Planetside Mall. Mukh: They were asking for it! Tivk: A clear logical response to abuse of power. Restricting parking on an arbitrary basis. Doc:

What Tech Level is a Plot Hook?

Let me start by saying I dislike SF stories where the square jawed heroes find and figure out alien tech and even back engineer or mod it all before the last chapter/commercial break. I think this is mainly a feature of the more optimistic SF genres. It goes: society is changing so fast and technology progressing so swiftly there must be a fast answer to everything. Of course we can find out how this alien portal works pushing buttons! Just take notes. BTW taking notes is always a good idea. Zaonia taught us that. I'm more of David G. Potter's mindset: have the alien tech investigated on a space station dedicated to it with numerous safeguards and wired to a few gigaton nukes. But there must be a middle ground between the incomprehensible, magical Forerunner tech and Og the caveman working out a smart phone. He uses the flashlight function to become high priest of course making the light which does not burn (move over Mightor!) (If they were less advanced they might

Bamboozled pt. 2

No one can win them all. No person, no planet, no empire. that's fine. Only someone who does nothing makes mistakes. The same applies to Zaonia. The Tech Knights are fallible as any Zaonian citizen would tell you (strongly in many cases) as this should illustrate. I do not like setting up someone as a Mary Sue, or a gadget as a Katana or a planet of organization as the Good Guys who must win. Just because I created you doesn't mean you get a free (or even easy) pass. Read the Tesla stories if you need a clue how low I can stoop to make a story fun (for the reader). Zaonia  (0104 C885655-5     Ag Ri) shares a star with Nuzon (0104  E653555-4     Ag Ri). contact between the two planets was sporadic and often antagonistic. The Nuzoni fled Zaonia during the Time of Things Going to Hell. The Nuzoni maintained that they were exiled. The Zaonians insisted they did flee and that they stole the last working shuttle and broke it. Now the Nuzoni made contact with one of Zaonia's s

Ship Dossier: Launches

Ship Dossier: Launches
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