Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ships Without Number: Artificial Gravity and the Post-Scream Universe

The Stars Without Number universe has a lot of variance in tech levels, enough to make the expeditionary fleet I've been thinking of interesting.

While many of the newer ships would be more akin to the designs of Jovian Chronicles (no artificial gravity, rotational sections, and constant 1G thrust) and similar settings, there would be some space for Star Trek-inspired ships.

The idea is that, with the current level of technology (and psychic construction) they can only achieve Star Trek: TOS levels of starships. And with the limited number of psychics, there are limits to how many can be produced in a solar cycle.

The fleet will therefore have a mix of mostly lower tech ships (which will be higher tech in some areas of non-psychic technology), and a small cluster of slowly growing artificial gravity, transporter-capable ships.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

On The Radar: Go go, Glorantha!

Glorantha-philes rejoice. Two books are out, and available for devouring!

One of them is 13th Age Glorantha by Chaosium (developed by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet). You'll still need a copy of 13th Age to play though.

Here's some of the promotional blurbage:

For Game Masters, 13th Age Glorantha includes:
  • More than 80 pages of monsters and enemies fully compatible with any 13th Age campaign, including Chaos priests, dragonsnails, scorpionmen, Crater Makers who call down the Moon, and the awesome Chaos demon known as the Crimson Bat.
  • More than 60 pages of ready-to-run adventures and heroquests—venture into myth to refight the battles of the gods and gain their cosmic powers!
  • A distinctive setting that will entertain longtime fans but is aimed at gamers who've never heard of Glorantha.

For Players, 13th Age Glorantha includes:
  • 5 new classes, including the hell mother who summons Darkness spirits and giant spiders; the swordmaster Humakti who wields Death; and the trickster who (in theory!) funnels your bad luck onto your enemies.
  • 5 new class variants, including the wind lord, a fighter with magical storm-related exploits; and the rebel, a rogue with the supernatural ability to get where he’s not supposed to be.
  • 2 new PC races, the trolls and ducks, plus Gloranthan humans with new cultural traits.

The other book, also from Chaosium, is The Glorantha Sourcebook. As you might guess from the title -- it's a rich sourcebook about Glorantha, but don't take my word for it, check out the blurbs:
The Glorantha Sourcebook is an essential resource for Greg Stafford’s world of Glorantha, one of the most extensively developed and renowned fantasy settings of all time. A world of mythology, gods, and heroes, Glorantha has inspired roleplaying games, board games, computer games, comics, fiction, and more, a setting beloved and revered worldwide. 
An invaluable resource for gamemasters, players, and readers of fantasy worlds, this sourcebook is gorgeously illustrated and filled with informative maps and diagrams. Drawn from a variety of out-of-print and rare sources, this material has been dramatically revised, updated, and expanded. Alongside this foundational material are new essays, insights, and extrapolations on the world and its incredible denizens. 
Inside this sourcebook, you’ll learn about the creation of the world; the main ages of its past; the history of Dragon Pass and its people; the pantheons of the gods, including the Lightbringer and Lunar pantheons; the Coming of Argrath; Elder Races such as the Elves, Dragonewts, Dwarves, and Trolls; genealogies of the major royal dynasties; legends and lore of the various tribes and peoples inhabiting Glorantha; the fundaments of Gloranthan magic and the Runes that shape the world; the history and gods of the mighty Lunar Empire; and finally, the Hero Wars!

Monday, February 12, 2018

On the Radar: D&D Cyclopedia and New Styles of Play

You may not have heard yet, but at the end of January 2018, the D&D Cyclopedia went up for sale on DriveThruRPG. Apparently, it's possible to order printed versions of this, but I'm sorely tempted to get the PDF version, for archival purposes -- because it's only $9.99 at the time of this writing.

Now while, this was available before, they now also offer a softcover and hardcover version (POD, I believe). I own the hardcover, but the concept of a softcover version blows my mind!

Story Games & Indie Games in Mystara

The setting of Mystara is a such an easy go-to for me, especially when I have to force myself to read through new material these days (it used to be so easy to read and retain stuff) that I've been looking at how to build characters using the old system here -- then just use mechanics from a variety of sources to add a different sheen or style of play for a night or two, before going back to the old rules. What rules sets are these?

Retro-clones and Neo-clones

I won't go through the list, especially since you can find it online -- more than one, actually. But it's a trivial matter to go through this list to see what particular aspect of play might be spiced up by the emphasis of a given ruleset. In fact, that may be part of a future series of posts.

D&D 5th Edition

Given the system's construction, it's pretty easy to just use characters built from the Cyclopedia and then apply a handful of rules from 5th edition (Advantage / Disadvantage, hit points and death) and so on to get the modern feel without doing a full on conversion.

Special Plug-ins

If you want to handle something like investigations in the world of Mystara (there's been a multiple murder -- of the same guy, and he wants you to find out who's been killing him over and over), you may want to pick up something like Gumshoe (especially their rules-lite version Pocket Gumshoe), and pop it into place to handle some Manhunter of Mystara adventures in the Known World.

There's also the possibility of taking from the page of FATE, and similar and similar aspect-oriented games, to create an aspect or two for your character, which allows you to trigger a special Advantages / Disadvantages when you can invoke it them game -- due to circumstances -- in order to further cement your character's uniqueness in the world. They can be serious ("Not on my watch!") to silly ("Kobolds must but saved"), but do add a twist to the traditional gameplay in the setting.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Time Tunnel Thursday: Armchair Reviews... er, Review (Expanded)

I've done this before -- should probably make this a standard page and put the link in one of the sidebars. Also: some of the products reviewed area apparently no longer available...

 DOCTOR WHO: Adventures In Time And Space

Night's Black Agents

The Laundry RPG

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

Various RPGs

  • Runequest 6th Edition
  • Leverage the RPG [Cortex System]
  • Mystic Empyrean RPG
  • Eldritch Skies [Unisystem]
  • Yggdrasil
  • The Rocket Age [Vortex System]
  • Fading Suns Player's Guide (Revised Edition)
  • Clockwork & Chivalry
  • Devil's Gulch [BRP System]

 Various RPG Sourcebooks

  • The Book of the Empress [Champions / Hero System]
  • NeoExodus [Setting for Pathfinder]
  • Asuang: Shapechanging Horrors [D&D 4E]
  • Cursed Chateau [1st edition, OSR adventure]
  • Carcosa [OSR setting]
  • Isle of the Unknown [OSR setting]
  • The RetConQuest [ICONS adventure]
  • Weird Adventures [system-agnostic setting]
  • The War of Horus & Set [general info, system agnostic]
  • The Nazi Occult [general info, system agnostic]

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Ships without Number: 0-hr. Carriers

As mentioned in a prior post, I was looking for a ship that PCs could be based on -- one where they'd have interactions with the other crew, where they could conceivably have their backup characters walking around in the background, and where they could snag some heavy firepower if needed.

In addition to that, I also wanted an option for a ship that has shuttles or fighters launched from it, for a possible set of other PCs that are on pilot missions or away team missions.

How fortunate that 0-hr. has three Carriers for use!

Drake (Exploration Vessel)

"At 292 feet long, this PL-7 frigate carries a crew of 18 and a complement of six Sparrowhawk-class fighters. Though only lightly armed as a vessel of exploration, statistics and story for a more heavily armed 'pirate' configurations are also included. Exploration, reconnaissance, journeys to distant stars - Drake is designed to fill these roles and more."

Of the three carriers, this is the most intimate potential home setting (with the option to mingle with the rest of the fleet on the larger ships). With a crew of 18, and an average party of 4, you have enough space for some other NPCs who may eventually become PCs, should tragedy befall one of the party. Also, the six fighter ships on such a small crew can indicate that most of the crew know how to fly them -- great for the variety of missions. Definite naval or merchant campaign use, some espionage groundside options -- not so much for groundpounder campaigns, except perhaps as air support.

 Orion (Strike Carrier)

"Orion is a Retribution-class strike carrier designed to serve as a transport and base of operations for combat vehicles both in space and on the ground. Orion carries sixteen Vulture-class heavy fighters in its internal bays. The side nacelles can rapidly deploy a dozen Aries-class hover tanks and four modified Brahma transports for use as personnel carriers. When added to the strike carrier’s impressive built in fire power, this single ship decide many engagements."

Obviously larger, carrying larger fighters and ground vehicles, this a very combat-oriented ship -- perhaps more appropriate for naval and military campaigns; less so for espionage or merchant campaigns.

Invictus (Carrier)

"Invictus is the flagship of the Confederation fleet and the first of its kind (so technically it is an 'Invictus-class' vessel). At almost 2400 ft long, the ship carries 200 fighters, 40 boarding shuttles, and a 1500 crew, soldiers, and passengers. It is designed to rapidly deploy combat craft and serve as a long range missile platform – allowing it to command a battle well back from the lines while still contributing massive firepower to the fight."

This one is huge! Opportunities for on-ship intrigue, and a lot of sub-campaigns abound on this ship. Naval campaigns, military campaigns, and options for espionage missions are possible here. Definitely involved in some of the major engagements in a campaign, and unlikely to stray from the main fleet for long periods of time.

Take your pick for the best fit in your ship-based campaign!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Ships without Number (list of sources)

Given the background of the default Star Without Number setting, there’s a rationale as to why a mix of ships from different tech levels and designers would combine in a fleet with a grand endeavor.
On a simple level, you could have TOS and TNG era ships in the same fleet. More combinations would have Farscape, B5, and Star Trek ships together.

Will start building this list of sources here.

Fandom Ship Sites:

  • Star Wars Deckplans -- an impressive site that organizes the ships by manufacturer, and gives external art, deckplans, and D6 stats!
  • B5 Tech -- the site provides images (externals), and specs. No game stats, but a very extensive listing of the ships from the show.
  • Star Trek Intelligence -- similar to B5 Tech, shows images (externals) and specs for ships in the various series. Nothing from Discovery (yet), but presents the information as info gathered by the intelligence agencies of the different powers-that-be. 

 Other Ship-related posts on this blog:

  • 0-hr. Carriers -- three carriers for your campaign's home ship. One is right-sized for you!