Showing posts from 2021

Six Guns and Snake Men!

 First of all apologies for my lackluster publishing schedule on this blog. Second for the time being at least I am turning to pulp action. I recently put out a relaunch of Lightning League for Stellagama Publishing's Quantum Engine rule set. The rule set is quick, easy and covers te major concerns of RP -can I kill it, can I con them, what do I get? Apparently I have a lot more recognition with 2D6 folks than I realized.  What is Lightning League?  Look here!  TL;DR The Lightning League is an organization of philanthropists, heroes, and adventurers fighting despots, mad men, and monsters in a Post War world. It's inspired in no small part by the pulp magazines and pre-comics code comics. I have written several splat books supplements for it on Evil Clowns , Uplifted Apes , Snake Men , and Ghouls  and am enjoying increasing success (translation: I am not asking WTF am I doing this for every minute this week.) My next project will be Thunder Mesa -Western heroes, a lost world, a

Hyper Drives (and even more) Part 4

 After pondering ways to remind people they were on a dang spacecraft, I came up with an overview of gravity control technology. I decided the interface of hyper and regular space could exert a repulsion force allowing lift and thrust relatively near a planet or large body. So no taking air rafts to the moon though they would make orbital towers less effective and put the rocket industry out of business. Besides classic 2d6 technology levels (TL)  I added generic development stages.  Prototype (TL 8)      No gravity control. the Hyper force is harnessed to allow air rafts and grav vehicles. Maximum altitude of 500 meters. Field Testing (Late TL 8)      Gravity is 'generated at a single node at one end of a vessel or station in the direction of thrust. This may result in part of the ship's having reversed gravity and it being difficult to transit between the two sections. The effects of gravity gradually diminish over the length of the ship to about 0.25 to 0.5 gees at the nose.

Two Words

What two words always start a fight? Roll Initiative! The initiative mechanic is an industry standard. In its basic form, you roll, they roll. High roll goes first. All things being equal you go first about half the time, they go first about half the time and there is a certain balance achieved. What does initiative mean in the real world? Actually the give and take of Initiative in game systems is way more forgiving than the real world. A truly experienced combatant could take several actions before less skilled opponents can respond. When the fur ball starts losing that initial momentum cal lead to people going to ground, being defensive and seeking to live, not strike back. Initiative can mean very little in a close up fight, with everyone shooting and striking like mad.  Some tweaks to Initiative follow. Why just use one system for a game? There are many different forms combat can take.  No Initiative. Combat is nasty. You may still roll to see who makes their hit and damage rolls


 One of the interesting and often ignored rules of Classic Traveller was 'expending' points of Endurance to make melee attacks or sprint. CT was often about resource management. This rule was dropped from subsequent editions of the game. No one seemed to like it =I get six good shoots then I'm -3 to hit with my chainsaw? Something like that despite the fact that most people had a plethora of guns and could fire enough rounds to darken the sun. I don't want to suggest using Endurance/blows, I have no desire to be lynched. However, what if Endurance could be expended to allow extraordinary efforts? Reserving this for PCs or important NPCs would improve a group's odds of survival, especially if you're using old style simultaneous action turns. It will also give players an incentive to cut and run rather than engage in long running fights. Once their Endurance runs out, no more playing action hero. As with all combat, your Endurance score is not changed due to wound

Hyper Drives (and Still More) Part 3

 I hate reaction-less drives but I love getting places quickly. I don't mind gravity control, except it makes a lot of things too easy and makes your spacecraft into a boat or plane with extended range. So entry into Hyper-space is via a node. Node can be any size. You create a node and it moves towards matter, to send it into Hyper-space and vice versa.  If you you create a node between two objects they will both be drawn to the node. Fix the objects and you get a gravity source. Make enough little nodes and you have grav plating. Yay!  You'll want to shut it down when you approach a planet. The same forces drawing you to the deck will also be tugging very hard the opposite way on your ship's belly and landing gear. The tension on the different parts of the ship don't create any thrust over all. Newton is not mocked.  Note you want to shut off the artificial gravity when coming in for a landing or docking, unless you want to speed it up and void your insurance coverage

The Experiment From Hell

 It's been a while since I showed my love of Operation White Box. Here goes. On a remote island in 1940, scientists from Japan's infamous Unit 731, found an amazing form of life. It was neither animal, plant or fungal but took on characteristics of all three. Nourished with tree sap it would grow into a twisted copy of the tree. Nourished with blood it would grow into a twisted plant animal hybrid with a vicious temper and a cellulose-like armored skin. In short order experiments began on the locals. The Unit was spurred on by rumors of the Americans developing their own plant men ( Project Cadmus ). The study was stopped after the death of 12 subjects, and the experiment was restarted using monkeys. The human subjects were hastily buried. One night locals snuck out, against the curfew and risking death, to give their friends and relatives a proper burial on sacred land. The scientists eventually discovered the theft and Kampetai police began a brutal investigation, tracking do

Hyper Drives (and More) Part 2

 Yes more. You see I find it interesting that according to the TL charts in Traveller societies tend to discover fusion power, reactionless drives and the Jump drive around the same time (TLs 8-9). That's when the big jump (hah) from ground grubbers to space capable cultures begin.  Let's take fusion first. Our hyper-space is a realm of tremendous gravity. In ftl flight we usually kick around its outer reaches. Digging deeper, gravity and pressure increase. That's just the boost we need for attempting fusion! Making a tiny aperture to hyper-space we start the fusion process, we inject hot plasma into hyper and use various power taps to extract power. The waste products, radiation and waste heat remain (for the most part) in hyper-space. Ever wonder why ships fusing tons of fuel don't need radiators the size of a small moon?  Note that we still need radiators, for the life support system and machinery. Life support needs to cool off and equipment will still need cooling

Hyper Drives Part 1

 Imagine if we took a drill and (somehow) bored a tunnel from the North to South Pole. The tunnel is kept in a vacuum, the walls frictionless. We take a sealed car and drop it on the hole. After 38-42 minutes the car arrives at the South Pole. Gravity draws the car to the center of the Earth and afterwards slows it down. We soon realize there are few people who want to go from the North to South Pole and dig a new tunnel from Antarctica to Australia allowing researchers and easy commute. We drop a car into the tunnel and discover it also takes about 40 minutes to drive. In fact any tunnel connecting any two points on the Earth's surface will allow a gravity assisted transit in about 40 minutes.  The transit time is a function of the density of the planet and the gravitational constant. Assume our universe is a skin over 'hyper-space'. Stars and planets are laid out on the skin. If you break this skin then hyper-space does its best to drag you in. It could be a very elaborat

Needlers and the Port Authority

Needlers have been mentioned in many science fiction stories going way back. They may be second only to blasters in space opera settings. Despite this there's only a vague (or several) notions what they are. They range from energy weapons to slugthrowers and the only consensus is that they have a very small bore size. So I consider myself to have a free run here. Boarding actions are much rarer than entertainment media would have you believe. There are good reasons for this. People boarding a ship are either extremely well prepared, armed, and skilled -or incompetent (lunatics, morons, fanatical take yer pick). If your ship is boarded by the former the best maneuver is to lay your weapons on the deck and make no sudden movements. Boarding actions by the latter are usually met with resistance because the defenders have nothing to lose. They are likewise met with booby traps, explosive decompression and many other tricks when they least expect it.  The thing most media fails to

Unobtainium: It's Not Just for Breakfast!

When does Unobtainium become Handwavium? Is one the depleted form of the other? Are they related like Inertron and Ultron? Are they like different colors of kryptonite? Most people consider FTL flight to be Handwavium (or Unobtainium YMMV). It runs through most SF stories. In truth there's a lot more handwaving going on than you'd expect. Here's a number of hand waves that are accepted and don't even strain disbelief for most people. This is because (and politicians know this) people will believe anything for a good story. 1) Reactionless Drives -I'm including Trek and SW drives in this. Your ships turn off the warp/hyper/shunt drive, go STL, and  decide to peel and ... they go fast. No blast, no exhaust, no trail. Option: you have artistically glowing drive ports. Also there is no evidence 'impulse' or 'ion' drives have to do the flip over maneuver to decelerate. Ships also have invisible reaction control systems. 2) Superdense Fuel - Where th

Love for the Launch

 Ladies and gentlemen please turn your attention to that unsung little hero of space commerce: the launch! Weighing in at 20 dTons with an acceleration of one gee, launches are often dismissed entirely in any discussion of shipping. Consider though that a launch comes in at a piddling 5.75 Mega credits. A Miner or Courier nearly seven times that. A Frontier Trader runs sixteen times as much! The Frontier Trader also moves at 2 gees, not much faster. For all these ships, assuming a mortgage, what makes more business sense? Have your ship docked in an orbital element being seen to while you negotiate your next round of speculation cargo and secure freight and passengers, or having it spend several hours or days landing cargo at various destinations and picking up shipments? Besides free traders, many frontier systems eagerly seek to exploit their asteroids and worlds. The launch can easily supply outposts and stations up to five A.U.s away (a week's travel at one gee). While they are

Dieselpunk Manifesto Part 14: A Nest of Spies and Villains!

130-144 Buck is pursuing a Mongol assassin through Niagara when he encounters Lanlu -'the Emperor's favorite!' Quick aside, Lanlu is a scheming social climber who'd really put Cinderella to shame. When we last left her Wilma had beaten the shit out of her in the course of Buck and Wilma's escape and left her seeing stars in the service tunnels under the Mongol city. Lanlu had wanted to get rid of Wilma to become the Emperor's favorite and from Rogers' exclamation it appeared to have worked. Then again what does Rogers know? Then again he is tied in with the Golden Dragons and could have made inquiries about Lanlu. One wonders what Wilma would make of these inquiries. Lanlu spins a tale about being on her honeymoon and distracts Buck long enough for the spy he was chasing to bend a blackjack around Buck's skull. They quickly dodge a a small crowd, explaining Buck is drunk and they are helping him home. They bring him to the leader of the spy ring -K