Showing posts from June, 2017

Diesel Engines in Space

Atomic Rockets divides fictional spacecraft into two varieties: those modeled on aircraft and those modeled on watercraft. The nonfictional spacecraft are all tail landing rockets of course. However in looking at the earliest Buck Rogers strips I found another type. Trains! When you look at the Satellite, she's a tractor design. The engine is in the front (you could make the case it's a Volkswagen design but that's just silly.) Buck clearly sees the similarities to a train as this panel shows: Naturally no one else sees it. they're used to flying around in rockets. He's the only one who ever saw a train. this was where I got the idea of train styled ships however. The Satellite's interior features were kind of ... inconstant because Lt. Dick Calkins was grinding out a daily strip and not a rocket engineer. But we have a couple of refs of the Satellite's control room and fixtures. Jeeze, look at those vacuum tubes! I bet the analytical e

Group Solitaire

Transcript #12001089 GCS Tesla Forward Rec Room <thwap> Lt.: I'm stumped. Hint? GAIA: Red seven on black eight. Lt: Oh. thanks GAIA: No legal moves remain. You lose. Lt.: Damn! Redeal! GAIA: Heeheehee. Certainly. <<Psssht!>> Captain: Hey Tech Officer, when are you getting these doors fix ... Lt.: Sir! Captain: What in the hell are you doing? Lt.: Playing solitaire sir. Captain: GAIA, what are you  doing? GAIA: I'm helping him play sir, dealing the cards, providing help. Lt.: You haven't been that helpful, hon. Captain: Why are you using the ship's AI ancillary to PLAY solitaire? Lt.: ... I am off duty. She's offline. Captain: Why are you using the most advanced AI in the Fleet to play goddam solitaire?! Lt.: The dumber AIs won't let me cheat. She will ... sometimes. Captain: I see. Carry on technical Officer, GAIA. GAIA: He makes cute faces when he's losing. Lt.: Card please ... Dammit! GAIA: Se

Just Pay the Fee

A ton of refined hydrogen fuel costs 500 Cr. most places. there is a lot of screaming about this cost inflation of the most common element in the damned Universe by merchant captains (military officers are used to paying ridiculous amounts for everything and it isn't their money.) Just pay the fee. A frontier trader (per Cepheus Engine) takes 45 tons of fuel and can travel in system at 2 gees. 45 tons of fuel costs 22,500 Cr. most places. Refueling at a gas giant cuts that down to nothing so captains all buy fuel coops and fuel purifiers and get fuel for free. A free trader costs @ 80 million credits (any version of CT you play). The mortgage amounts to 341,000 Cr a month. Life support and salaries adds another 50,000 Cr say for @ 400,000 Cr. a month. Traveling to a typical gas giant at a distance of 5 A.U.s is going to take you 4.2 days. Your ship is not earning revenue or on its way to earning revenue. 400,000 Cr. a month divided by 30 * 4.2 gives us @60,000 credits

Dead Is Dead ... Maybe

My fellow grognards may burn me in effigy but this post has been cooking for a while. If you're going to play Classic Traveller then you roll up a character and take your chances. You may end up with a bunch of snake eyes for stats, or a one term wonder or see your Grand Admiral of the Stars nerf his survival roll and start rolling again as playing an impervious memorial statue is not your thing. I never went with the fail a survival roll and you get mustered out after two years, no skill rolls or benefits for that term. It's called survival roll for a reason. However I also understand players wanting characters who are hotshots, femme fatales and badasses. Having a character you've spent time crafting die or having one with worse stats than you, the player, can be a let down. So I offer the following system as a compromise. You can still die. You can still get shitty stats. You could still be a one term wonder. But not all three. Not likely. Not if you're

Red Mercury and the Proletariat

The Soviets were desperate for a superhuman soldier. They couldn't let on though. Stalin was adamant the courage of the common man would carry the day (or at least the courage of millions of common men). Then Stalingrad happened and in the midst of the deadlock the Nazis brought in the Creature to break the stalemate. He waded through gunfire, leading a platoon of undead Blitztruppen , and slaughtered Red Guards with a sword. He found this Soviet lady sniper they had and broke her neck on film. Stalin tried to weasel the secrets of the electric troopers and invisibility out of the rest of the Allies but that was a no go. So they fell back on alchemy and hundreds if not thousands of test subjects. One survived. Stalin liked the image of thousands of proletariat sacrificing themselves to create a champion, an amalgam of them all. Except Mercury was a freaking vampire. Mercury survived his treatment by drawing on the life force of his fellow test subjects. Then the scientists. The

Dieselpunk Manifesto Part Seven: Badlands and Bad Men

Buck Rogers strip 60-69. Well Buck is drifting along over the Rockies when he discovers he dropped a little too much ballast from those shirts he made into a sack. It happens. Using a knife he discovers he can easily cut the inertron the jumping belts are made of to save himself from flying into space. I guess the Navajo Boss let him keep a survival knife. Again the Navajo were pretty decent folks in all their appearances. Buck lands, catches a rabbit somehow and is making dinner over a campfire when he is accosted by a cowboy with a rocket pistol! This is a pulp tradition. When things slow down have a guy with a gun errr rocket pistol step into the room. Buck has met a new friend, Two Gun Pete. Pete susses out that Rogers is an outlaw, which is fine as Pete is also an outlaw and part of a whole outlaw org. He offers to take Buck back with him to meet the gang. Buck tries to interest Pete in one of his spare jumping belts but Pete would rather stick with his horse. Once safe (?)

Luna's Outhouse

Update Matter Beam of Children of a Dead Earth fame commented and questioned my last post on the R-ray. That led to this: But wait! With the use of R-rays you could in fact set up a space transport system to boost cargo modules to orbit or other planets. In effect the R-ray is like an orbital tower or bolo system (which Dr. Robert Forward tried to talk up in many of his books (go look for Indistinguishable From Magic). An station in geosynchronous orbit operates its R-ray in reverse (then it's an A-ray). It pulls cargo modules from the ground. this added mass causes it to drop orbit a bit so it also intercepts cargos from further out in the solar system, snagging them with another A-ray. This lets it maintain its altitude. Once in geo synchronous orbit the modules can be transferred to a ship or fired via A-ray out into the Black. If everyone does their job right the station remains in geosynchronous orbit. You could also use ships optimized for rocket drives in orbit. They sna

Luna's Engines

After some discussion with my learned colleagues (At the Chung, Campbell, McVay and Black Design Group) I worked out the following factoids about the Luna's engines. R-Ray The R-ray is the primary propulsion. The Luna's ring generates a protational field. It is similar to gravity but it can attract or repel matter. Even though people call it a ray you can't see it anymore than a magnetic or gravity field. In fact if the R-ray does become visible as the saying goes, "Try to keep up with me." R-rays are built using the Cepheus Engine table for jump drives. Instead of the rating giving you the maximum distance you jump in parsecs you get the R-ray's range. The range is the distance from the Sun that you can focus a beam accurately and efficiently enough to generate thrust. Read it as follows: Range 1           Operates as far as Earth's orbit 2           Operates as far as the Asteroid Belt 3           Operates as far as Jupiter 4           Operate

Dieselpunk Manifesto Part Six: Han Entanglements and a Woman Refusing to be Rescued

This review is of Buck Rogers strips 50-59. Buck charges back into the steam tunnels under Los Angeles with the lovely Lanlu to guide him on his search for Wilma. Lanlu has her own idea whatguidance she should give. Buck will have none of this. Meanwhile Wilma is making her way through the tunnels as well, deftly avoiding a monitor screen. The monitor screen actually looks more like a communications device for workers than a security device, but nonetheless she makes like Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment and shinnies under it and comes upon Buck and Lanlu! Maybe Lanlu gave Wilma some directions to escape to cut down on the competition otherwise it's more evidence of how lousy Roger's karma is. Wilma leaps to conclusions and vents her spleen, gives Lanlu a knuckle sandwich and departs. Buck tells Lanlu to fuck off and she seems to have had enough of the crazy white folks and she departs. Buck runs to the exit and reaches freedom in time to see Wilma flying off with Killer

Always Consider the Gravity of your Situation

(Note: this story is the result of a highly entertaining rant by John Reiher on just how silly antigravity is. thank you John and all the great commenters!) Professor Ormsby had taken me in so I owed him. Most of the people of the 26th century would have stuck me in a zoo or a jar. The Prof stepped up and helped smooth things over after my 500 year old viruses caused a small epidemic. He would make medical observations of me undergoing various experiences and compare them to the readings for modern men. Thus our little jaunt around the Moon. The Lunar Excursion Tours Ship looked ridiculously small compared to the rockets of my youth. I said as much. "You obviously know nothing of anti-gravity," the Prof said with a shrug. There was a brief medical check up. The doctor boggled at my height and then a couple of the readings from a big metal cap he made me wear. The Prof argued with him for a while and then showed him some paperwork. Probably my license. Stupid little bi

Space Opera Roll Call

Here we go again. What's the title this time? Space Opera Roll Call. When is it going live? Hopefully tomorrow morning. I will keep you posted. How much is it? It's pay what you want. I'm suggesting a dollar. Are you out of your fucking mind? Language! No, I don't think so. What is it? It is a dice drop table for randomly generating story elements for a space opera style of play. Izzat it? No. You see the elements are common to any =number of gonzo style games: secret agents, WW2, dieselunk. What else? How did you know? Each entry has a paragraph of story ideas to help you come up with a story seed. What about format? Glorious black and white with SVG icons for the story elements! What does SVG stand for? Darned if I know. I just use them liberally! Not on the cover though, right? No. The cover is some nice art remastered by Steve Miller of Nuelow games. Go check his collections out. He does some fine stuff. Still ... pay what y

Role Call

Topper pushed his plug hat down a little. It helped him keep a pokerface. He studied the cards before him. Luch waited for Tulip’s steward to do the math. Elf was not as patient. Furry Freddy from the Inside Strait already had folded and left in disgust to go walkies. “Fold or meet the wager good sirrah,” Elf  snapped. “I thought elves were good at waiting,” Topper muttered. “For something worthwhile, perhaps!” Elf spat. Topper tsked and finally with much flourishing removed his top hat and added it to the pile of clothing. Elf sighed and began removing her left ear. After a moment Luch removed his mask. Rubbing his scalp vigorously, he added his leather mask to the pile. “Both ears sweetheart,” Luch said. *** The Deck Department and the Steward Departments are two vital sections of a merchant ship. Both do not concern themselves with minor matters such as fuel and courses but dealing with the commodities that actually generate money. Not generating money c