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Showing posts from March, 2017

Renderings of Handwavium pt. 2

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More on antigravity ... I decided the basic shape of a lift generator will be a torus. The torus holds the unobtainium you spin to generate the lift force. This force is generally directed at a right angles to the torus. Obviously other systems modify that (I'm calling the craft hoppers as opposed to calling everything a lifter. I'm sure hopper pilots hear people make that mistake all the time. It's like calling a Cessna a prop or an F-15 a  ... nevermind!) Otherwise the hopper would never go anywhere. The secondary systems keep the force directed downward for starters and the airfoils make sure the thrust is directed under the center of mass (for the most part it moves a bit back and forth to facilitate climbs and dives.) The foils direct thrust for movement. The torus' power is related to its surface area. What if we double the dimensions of the hopper? Poor little motor looks overworked. Especially since the craft's mass is now eight times the originals

Renderings of Handwavium

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I've always had a certain amount of handwavium in my settings. Most of the time I make do with unobtainium but sometimes I'm pressed for time. As I am learning to render vehicles of various types and other gear or worse stat them for games I have a decided disadvantage over the artists I follow who do hard science designs (besides talent ... get the snarks done now). What the fuck does an antigrav generator look like? What about a hyperdrive? An artist doing a piece on a ship with an inertial confinement fusion drive has reference material on it. They can make a pretty good guess how big it is and much shielding you need to avoid giving the crew free x-rays. All that good stuff. Star Trek and Star Wars  has it good too. Their tech just needs to look cool? Why does an X-Wing (or Voyager) need variable geometry? It looks cool and we all know vehicles go faster when they look cool.  Anyway here's my latest offering. Skippy is a lifter built with variable geometry. Her

Cargos Made to Order

"This time ... we're going to hit it big," Captain announced. "We're going back to Jormganner! They have that maneel wood. Everyone is crazy for furnishings made of maneel!" The crew tried to look interested but he sprung this bit of financial legerdemain on them during Sundae Sunday. It was hard for him to compete with ice cream and whipped cream. So he slammed one huge fist down on the table. Bowls and utensils jumped. Sandoval snagged her sundae in mid-air and gave a dirty look. "What ... are we bringing to trade? The Jormgann barely speak any basic and if you recall we had a hard time anticipating what to even bring them other than raw metals ... which we learned about after we got there. They don't chop let alone treat that maneel wood for their good health," Beagley the trade master muttered. The Jormganner were primitive by most standards, the problem was they were learning fast. they had moved from flintlocks to metal cased rifles

Duly Compensated

First I reserve the right to reuse this title for a Sandoval story . In the middle of the night, last night in fact, dog number two woke us up by barking downstairs. Middle of the night I stumble down the stairs to where we keep downstair and figure he's looking out the window and barking at a cat or barking at someone on the street or one of the local raccoons. Nope. He's standing in the middle of the living room barking at ... nothing I can see. I'm a fairly rational guy but this gave me a momentary chill so I checked the front door, and behind the shower curtain. Acceleration compensators make me feel that way. THere's almost certainly nothing wrong but it doesn't feel that way. Acceleration compensators are a necessary piece of (usually) handwavium technology in any story where the spaceship is only there to get you to the story (fast!) While the ftl dingus keeps trips between stars from taking decades or centuries the acceleration compensator let's

Infrastructure and Mega Credits

One of the most overlooked aspects of space travel in SF settings is infrastructure. Space travel today is barely begun and is almost impossibly hard. The only way our first voyages have succeeded is with a lot of people on the ground working incredibly hard. In the future new propulsion systems and engineering techniques will make it easier but I sincerely doubt it will ever be easy. It will require a lot of time, energy and skills compared to most other human endeavors (except possibly terraforming and kicking coffee). Say we have something like the traveller maneuver drives: you put your power in one end and your ship moves to the other end sort of. No deadly rocket blast necessary. No one needs a spaceport, right? Wrong. First of all antigravity (or whatever handwavium you use) is expensive. A Scout ship alone costs 36 Mcr. Its routine maintenance is 36,000 credits a year and that is not figuring in life support, wages, fuel, supplies, and non-routine costs like repairs or or

Villainy Unsound

Villains! Roleplaying games and literature just wouldn't be the same without them. I've spent a lot of time lately writing short fiction for an e-book (more on that to be announced.) The stories I'm writing right now are space opera of a sort but they deal with the crew of a small freighter trying to meet expenses, deal with passengers, locals and their assorted craziness.  I tried very hard to stay away from the tropes of SF I grew up with and sometimes succeeded. There are no square jawed heroes with nerves of steel. The damsels and guys take turns being rescued and everyone screws up regularly in some way. When it came to villains I wanted to do some more mold breaking and I looked at a few traditional villains to plan my villains' departure from said tradition. 1) The villain possesses ample resources to deal with the likes of your motley crew. In truth most criminals I've known or heard of (hey, I live in New York City) had way less money than the avera

Extreme Auditing

The minimal power managed barely a quarter standard gravity. Beagley ignored the ladder and just dropped the three meters, he covered them as they descended feeling a little silly, a former bureaucrat and money handler playing cops and robbers. He was still glad of the shotgun in his gloved hands. That was why he only jumped a little when the others lit behind him. The crew deck had a much more up to date entertainment center and newer carpet than their own ship, Sandoval noticed. The media screen had a golden trefoil on a red background showing. “Thanks for sharing,” Skipper said walking over to the screen’s console. There should be a remote but like all other remotes it was uncannily good at hiding when you really wanted it. Skipper found a hotkey and hit it. “Don’t hit nothing marked destruct,” Beagley said still looking about. “There’s clutter, dishes, knick knacks around. They didn’t stow for liftoff or ftl insertion … they left in a hurry.” “Unless they’re still

Spells and Sliderules

Skipper was finishing up the laundry when to her great annoyance Beagley arrived with another basket. Seeing the broker begin to load another washer she sighed with relief and paid him no further notice until he was nearly done. She gaped as she saw him toss several plush toys that normally shared a station on the bridge with Sandoval as well as the navigator’s prized fluffy slippers and robe. Utter fear froze the young woman to the spot a few crucial moments. She leapt for the machine with a strangled cry as it started up. Beagley was left with a crazed deckhand trying desperately and illogically to climb over him to get to the machine. Luch was already on the utility deck checking the freezer contents and first on the spot. He viewed this outburst much the same as a bad load of fuel in the reactor causing a neutron storm. He had time to get his affairs in order. Sandoval was the last crew member present. It took her a few moments to process what had happened letting the othe

Alien Capsules Book One

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And we are live ! (Note some settling of aliens may occur in shipping.)

The Next Capsule Will Be Delayed

Yeah about Alien Capsules Book One debuting today? Not so much. It seems I am not yet vetted by RPGNow (I'm only a Fourth Tier Publisher it seems). So I have left my latest project in their gentle hands while they inspect it for any sign it will tick someone off. I wish it would. It seems that's the way to sell your product. I guess people download the pdfs and then burn the tablets the pdf is on these days. Anyway a little more on the book: art is by Team Frog Studios and Art of War Games. Words and stats are by me. Game write ups are for White Star though they could serve for other OSR games. The background for each alien has some story ideas and their usual M.O. As I was writing this book though I realized most of these aliens could serve as character classes (no not Skels, what are ya, crazy? Okay, RP a Skel. It's your game.) So here's one alien from the book written as a playable class. Beast Master Level        XP          HD          BHB         ST      

Alien Capsules

My latest work is Alien Capsules Book 1. It is a collection of ten aliens geared towards OSR games and compatible with White Star. My goals with the book were simple: come up with some creatures to play a variety of roles, and come up with some genuinely creepy stuff. For your interest I'm posting the introduction to the book here. The rest will go live on RPGNow on Monday 3/6/17 (price to be announced but pretty cheap I imagine). INTRODUCTION Aliens in roleplaying games usually come in two flavors, the friendly sort and the other kind. Both are great for adventures. friendly aliens can be allies or patrons or need rescuing. Unfriendly aliens shoot at your characters or do worse. In this they are similar to the races of fantasy games. Except aliens will fire lasers and orcs fire arrows. What makes aliens special is that they embody a mystery of some sort. Any of the beings I’ve listed here can be presented as an enigma with unknown motives. Can these creatures be negotia

What Time Is This Way?

Second Tier Navigator Sandoval was blossoming. Luchador, the masked Steward accepted it grudgingly. She was his best friend and he had to condone what was good for her. Skipper barely noticed. She was young and had already blossomed at an early age and working her way through clouding men's minds and causing fender benders. But there were no mechanical conveyances on Jormganner. The signs were small unless you really knew Sandoval: hair worn loose, earrings, a daring (by her standards) blue tank top and the final clue ... lipstick. She even washed her lucky fuzzy slippers, something the older members often coaxed and threatened her to do. The agent of her blossoming was their newest crew: Wilberforce Beagley. Beagley was a former Port Inspector and despite it a decent guy. He had made himself invaluable since hiring by running down leads and rumors of trade items he heard tales of in his former job. At the moment he was back at the Profit Rockit supervising a gaggle of locals w

Ship Dossier: Launches

Ship Dossier: Launches
Now on DriveThru