Monday, January 22, 2018

Stars Without Number II: Sine Nomine Strikes Back

It has come to my attention that there is a new edition of Sine Nomine's Stars Without Number -- the appropriately named Stars Without Number (Revised Edition). This has rekindled an old interest of mine.

Longtime readers of my blog know that I had many incomplete attempts at building a campaign inside the setting of Stars Without Number (Confederation Chronicles posts). They all trailed off, in retrospect, because I was trying to recreate an old Hero System homebrew setting in a different system, and I got overwhelmed by the conversions.

This time, I have a different approach, and I'm going to try again.

Core Campaign Frame

I'm salvaging what I can from my old Condederation Chronicles posts; in fact it's from one of those failed restarts that I have this summary:

In "Confederation Chronicles: A Campaign Premise" parts 1 and 2, I decided that I was going to riff off of the Battlestar Galactica concept -- a fleet of ships trying to find their way home. Unlike that show, or the other inspiration show (Andromeda), they actually come from a stable part of the Imperium: a self-sufficient cluster of worlds and systems that survived the mysterious disintegration of their galaxy-spanning Empire.

And they've been charged to find a stable path of travel along linked routes back to the Throneworld.

In "Confederation Chronicles: A Mobile Base of Operations -- Part 01", I explore the benefits of a self-sufficient, ridiculously powered ship being available to the PCs, with Blake's 7, Andromeda, and Farscape as inspirations.

In "Confederation Chronicles: A Mobile Base of Operations -- Part 02", I look at how dialing back the power levels and scale might affect the setting, while looking at the other campaign elements shows like Battlestar Galactica, Robotech/Macross, Firefly, and Starblazers/Space Cruiser Yamato dealt with life on a ship.

In "Confederation Chronicles: A Mobile Base of Operations -- Part 03", I decide on the Stars Without Number source material I'll be using to build the campaign's traveling fleet: the Imago Dei and the Bruxelles-Class Battlecruiser sourcebooks in the Mandate Archive series.
However, I'm dropping the Confederation Chronicles part of things, and just embracing a lot of the elements (and ready-made tools, ships, and equipment) in the Stars Without Number setting.

My revised overview is as follows:

The Sol Finder initiative (working title) is a massive conglomeration of ships from various backgrounds with a single purpose -- to find a path across the various Sectors to the Terran Mandate worlds. A cabal of AIs have analyzed decades of data and determined the best route through lost sectors to Lost Terra.

My overall goal for this kind of meta-campaign, is to create a broad enough background wherein many different types of campaigns can be run. There are long-term campaigns that deal with the jump from a known Sector into a lost Sector, and the exploration and adventure that takes place as a result:
  • espionage campaigns to infiltrate and gather information in the new sector;
  • exploration campaigns to map out and uncover more clues as to how to progress toward the Terran Mandate worlds;
  • factional politics as the fleet's progress, discoveries, and own economic gravity impacts the sectors it passes through;
  • military campaigns (from police actions to war) as enemies known and unknown are encountered;
  • new technologies, psychic abilities, and organizations arise and impact the campaign.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Star Trek Adventures: Online Resources 2

Official Materials
Cover of the Star Trek Adventures:
These are the Voyages book
In addition to the main Star Trek Adventures rulebook, the following are now also available:

A Wiki with a Wealth of Material

You'll find at the Star Trek Adventures Resources Wiki, you can find a growing collection of documents that can help fill out the universe you're trying to populate. They include:
  • different sheets and character sheets from various eras
  • different ship registry sheets from various eras
  • links to different species builds
  • various space frames
  • adventures
  • GM & Player resources
  • NPCs

Mephit James' Blog

There are several blog posts here that tackle different types of Star Trek campaigns, including campaign for
 (updated: fixed prime link, added links to the individual campaigns)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Star Trek PLUS Star Wars: The Wormhole and The Empire

This is part of a series of posts that scours the internet for useful resources on the Star Wars vs. Star Trek discussion that is prevalent in fandom -- but with an eye towards a practical integration into an RPG campaign. Hence, the Star Trek PLUS Star Wars title.

In essence, these posts explore creating an additional neighbor / antagonist for Starfleet beyond our Romulan, Klingon, and other friends in the Milky Way Galaxy. I'm not sure how it would be for Star Wars adventurers entering the Trek universe, given (a) the pressing needs of the Rebellion against the Empire; (b) major technological jumps: transporter technology, replicators, warp, and -- my favorite -- the Genesis Device (also known as: hey you got another Death Star, let's make it a living world!).

The first entrant is this set of videos from the Resurrected Starships channel on YouTube:

Star Wars vs. Star Trek (part 01)

Star Wars vs. Star Trek (part 02)


Some things that I do like are:
  • the idea that the wormhole near Deep Space 9 somehow connects to a galaxy far, far away -- and to a time long ago. If events proceed more or less as constructed in this video, then you could have expeditions to the NOW of the galaxy of Star Wars... and what would you find there, centuries after the events in the Star Wars movies?
  • the strengths of Trek (diplomacy, intelligence gathering and study, and an infuriating ability to come up with breakthrough technologies to save the day) vs. the strengths of the Empire (the resources of an entire galaxy focused on war and subjugation, and a few brilliant and experienced strategies in charge of those forces).
  • the possibility of corridor battles between Star Wars and Star Trek forces, due to the joys of transporter technology, and modulating frequencies.
  • the use of the Rebellion as a possible foil to the invading armies of the Empire.
  • the hint of the alarmingly large number of nigh-omnipotent (and omnipotent) beings in the Trek universe as an expression of GM fiat, should things get out of hand.
Some things I didn't like quite as much:
  • the strong contributions of personas like Thrawn and Vader to the conflict; I'd have preferred generic references to brilliant personas or powerful Force users, but there are only a few of these of note in the Star Wars universe (by design).
  • the Organians didn't make themselves felt here? The Dominion didn't stir themselves either? Granted, it would've made things more convoluted, but IDIC does have its benefits in this kind of conflict.
  • what about them droids? Trek may have Data as its sentient construct, but Star Wars has arguably sentient mechs in many shapes and sizes -- wouldn't this be of interest to the Federation (or any one of their allies / enemies) in this war?

Friday, January 5, 2018

Flights of Fandom: Star Wars Gaming

To me, Classic Star Wars is what Lucas had envisioned: a return to the pulpy, swashbuckling, never-tell-me-the-odds heroes against dastardly villians in a never-ending series of space opera cliffhangers and reversals.

But it also transcended that. In addition to the well-worn hero's journey, there was a celebration of friendship and loyalty, and an exultation in having close friends adventuring together and -- despite seemingly adversarial banter -- triumphing in the face of overwhelming odds.

Perhaps, in light of the conflict in fandom this day, it's time to explore what Star Wars means to us in our own circles of friends and gaming buddies -- through the classic Star Wars RPG!

Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game 30th Anniversary Edition

You can pre-order this limited edition recreation through the website of Fantasy Flight games, if you're eager to have the original edition of the book. I owned one of these way back when -- two of my prized possessions (I left it in the hands of a friend who has since drifted away) were the Star Wars RPG rulebook and sourcebook.

The price is a bit steep, and delivery to my country is always expensive. But hey, if I can pull together the creds -- and pay off Jabba first, of course -- who knows? The system really supported that seat-of-the-pants-adventuring feel, and the starship combat, chases, and melee combat resolution was fast and fun. And there was something magical about seeing all the technical specs, the in-universe ads and recruitement posters, and the pitch-perfect section on gamemastering that nailed what adventures in Star Wars are all about (based on the 3 original movies, anyway).

By the way: these books, for a time, were canon, and the basis for some of the Expanded Universe novels.

Classic System, Expanded Source Material

Of course, if you're not eager to cough up the creds for this limited edition set of books, you can always grab the classic West End Games system rules online. There's a generic line, now in the care of Nocturnal Media, that you can use to run your space opera games (d6 Space) with the same ruleset as Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. You can even grab the supplement (d6 Space Ships), so that your interstellar travels aren't limited to a Stock Light Freighter.

And you can of course go to places and settings that were never covered in the chronicles of adventures a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away:
  • there's Bill Coffin's Septimus setting, which uses the same system, which will allow adventuring inside a Dyson Sphere and trying your luck against clashing factions within.
  • there's Exilium by Fire Ruby Designs, which is a setting that allows you to play post-humans in a planning-spanning setting called the Flame Worlds.
and there are a number of resources out there online that you can search for that support the Classic Star Wars ruleset and setting.

Me, I'm trying to carve out time to read the new Star Wars RPGs by Fantasy Flight Games, but I'm a bit confused by all the offerings. Staying with the classic theme of this post, I'd probably target the Star Wars: Force and Destiny RPG.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Science Fiction RPGs in 2018

Cryptic brainstorming for 2018 blogging.

Under Fandom:

  • Star Trek Adventures (and related RPG / Wargame material)
  • Star Wars d6 (and related RPG material)
  • Doctor Who 

Under Kitchen Sink Settings:

  • Hero System's Terran Empire
  • Fading Suns
  • Stars Without Number
  • Traveller
  • Eclipse Phase
  • Mindjammer

Under Systems:

  • FATE
  • PBTA
  • Hero System
  • Stars Without Number
  • Starfinder

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Star Trek Adventures: Online Resources


With the release of Star Trek Adventures, it's a good time to pause and reflect on what a good time it is to be a Star Trek gamer. As good as the Star Trek Adventures RPG book is, there's a tendency to make reference after reference to episodes of Star Trek from various series and seasons -- which can be very frustrating when trying to get a grasp of what past or future significance in the timeline those references are, er, referring to.

Fortunately, there are Wikis to help you with that.

1. Memory Alpha (repository of much Star Trek canon information)
2. Memory Beta (repository of much Star Trek non-canon information)

Furthermore, you have the option of going to Netflix to check out the exact episode that's being referred to, once the reference has been made. In my account, I have access to:
  • TOS (even the animated series!)
  • TNG
  • DS9
  • Voyager
  • Enterprise
  • TOS Movies; TNG Movies
For those who might be looking for online material concerning ships and stations, there are two YouTube channels that I recommend:

Star Trek Ships
1. TrekYards (which covers many ships from Star Trek's past, present, and fandom, along with reviews of the current series Star Trek: Discovery, and related shows like The Orville.)
2. SpaceDock (which also covers many ships from Science Fiction, including Star Trek)

All this and more are online to help your prep for campaign and adventure creation in Star Trek!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Star Trek Adventures -- The New Star Trek RPG

On the Radar: Star Trek Adventures

Star Trek Adventures is the latest Star Trek RPG to come out, and it's full of promise. I've written some things on Star Trek RPG gaming in the past (Roleplaying in the Worlds of Star Trek 1 and 2), but it's always good to get a copy of the latest one!

With Star Trek: Discovery coming out soon (at the time of this writing), the various Star Trek TV series available online via various streaming services, and no mean amount of nice online references, it's a good time for Star Trek gaming.

I'd even throw in the Star Trek Timelines mobile app as a great reference and resource. You get great pics of the various characters from the shows (some even from alternate timelines), a great tool that allows you to screencap your ship from various angles against various planets and space backgrounds, and even some great adventure ideas complete with plot progression maps that aren't solely advanced by combat.

Not sure about it? Well, before I get started on my evaluation of resources for this RPG, let me share with you the links of a Philippine Gamer's study and review of the book:

Star Trek Adventures: Part 1 -- Introduction
Star Trek Adventures: Part 2 -- United Federation of Planets
Star Trek Adventures: Part 3 -- Your Continuing Mission
Star Trek Adventures: Part 4 -- Operations
Star Trek Adventures: Part 5 -- Reporting for Duty
Star Trek Adventures: Part 6 -- The Final Frontier
Star Trek Adventures: Part 7a -- Social Conflict
Star Trek Adventures: Part 7b -- Combat
Star Trek Adventures: Part 8 -- Technology and Equipment
Star Trek Adventures: Part 9a -- A Home In The Stars
Star Trek Adventures: Part 9b -- Starship Combat
Star Trek Adventures: Part 9c -- Starship Creation and Alien Vessels
Star Trek Adventures: Part 10 -- GMing, NPCs, and Review

Friday, July 14, 2017

Fandom Gaming: a quick rundown.

It's been a really good time for fandom gamers. A plethora of games out there that allow for gaming in your favorite fictional universes, whether authorized or not.

There are the obvious ones: the Doctor Who RPG, the new Star Trek RPG, the current Star Wars RPG, the latest Conan RPG, the last available DC Universe RPG, and the current Lord of the Rings RPG.

I'll stick to these for now, but there are some others that are just as delicious (because they have been genericized just enough to play in the universe or universes that they've taken from) that I'll get to later.

For now, I think I'll be writing about how this batch of RPGs are doing with their properties.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Two for Fantasy, Two for Science Fiction

It's been a long time, and I been busy, ya dig? Also, I wrote original entries for each of these, but my connection died and Blogger lost it early on so -- I'm not rewriting it. Just grabbing the descriptions for now.

But they are of note!

So -- two RPG releases for Fantasy, and another two releases for Science Fiction:

Fantasy RPG Releases

Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of

Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of takes you into the world of Conan the Barbarian, where heroes raise blood-spattered swords against dire sorcery, exotic lands beckon to the daring, danger and treasure lurks in forgotten ruins, and where loathsome creatures haunt the spaces beneath the earth… as well as in the throne-rooms of mighty kingdoms!

Seek your fortune in forbidden tombs or upon blood-soaked battlefields. Cast dark and terrible spells of unimaginable power, at the price of your soul. Sail upon untamed seas to lands where no human in living memory has walked. Fight for the fate of civilization — or barbarism — on a savage frontier!

Adventures in Middle-earth Loremaster's Guide

In Adventures in Middle-earth™ the greatest fantasy setting of all time comes to the world's favourite roleplaying game rules! Take your gaming group to Middle-earth with this thematic and atmospheric, OGL-compatible setting guide.

Science Fiction RPG Releases

Doctor Who Roleplaying Game: The Black Archive

The Tower of London: home to ravens, Beefeaters and one of the most extensive collections of esoteric alien artefacts on Earth.

Under the stewardship of UNIT, The Black Archive is charged with finding, storing and understanding the weirdest and most powerful alien Gadgets that come to our planet. Just as this unbelievably valuable and dangerous collection has expanded, so has UNIT itself evolved. No longer solely a military organisation, in the 21st Century UNIT agents are as likely to be diplomats and investigators as they are soldiers.

The Black Archive details the 21st Century organisation that collects, catalogues and protects some of the most incredible artefacts the Earth has ever known, and the collection itself.

Coriolis - The Third Horizon

Coriolis – The Third Horizon is a science fiction role-playing game from the makers of critically acclaimed Mutant: Year Zero (six-time nominee and winner of a Silver Ennie for Best Rules 2015).

  • Create your unique player character – including skills, talents, gear and relationships – in mere minutes.
  • Fight fast and furious battles, praying to the Icons to overcome your enemies.
  • Build and crew your own spaceship, to explore the many star systems of the Third Horizon.
  • Experience thrilling spaceship duels, using a game system that puts all player characters at the heart of the action.
  • Take part in the intrigue between powerful factions on the majestic space station Coriolis.
  • Uncover the mysteries of the Third Horizon, a rich tapestry of cultures that have settled the stars.

Check any of these out, if they tickle your fancy.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Testing out blogging from the iPad.

Nothing to see here, except maybe this pic from a slumbering project (Mystaran Lords of Olympus).

I do have some fascination with the Olympian gods from childhood. And merging it with the Mystaran Immortals is fun for many reasons.

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