Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An AT-43 Christmas for me

With the demise of Rackham Entertainment back in October, the race is on to grab up the remaining stock of AT-43 and Confrontation pre-painted miniatures. Supplies are already dwindling at our FLGS, so I have decided to do a little proactive Christmas shopping. There will be a lot of Red Blok and Therians under my tree this year. I even managed to score one of these:



and one of these:



And guys, you better get down there soon if you want to snatch up some Confrontation minis before they're all gone.

-Rognar-

Cross-posted at
Roll For Initiative

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baal Golgoth...it's finally mine!


Meet your doom!

-Rognar-

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Septimus - Chapter 1.3

Since we have a few hours before arriving at the colony, I decide to take a nap. It seems like only minutes pass, when, for the third time today, Ramos wakes me up.

"Ramos, what is it now?"

"We're preparing for final descent. Man, I think you're gonna want to see this."

I figured by now, I would have built up some resistance to Septimus Syndrome. Okay, it's not a real disorder, at least not yet. But that's what I call the endless beating your mind takes by looking at the worldsphere. I was wrong. As we got close enough to the surface to make out details, all my preconceptions about what to expect exploded in a blinding flash and a puff of smoke. Truth be told, I'm not sure why, but I always assumed the builders were the last inhabitants of Septimus and when they left, how ever many aeons ago that was, the worldsphere remained hidden and abandoned until we humans came along. Maybe since we have never discovered any life on any planets humans have explored, I figured we were really alone out here. Yet, as we approach the island where the Rojas colony is located, I can see dozens, maybe hundreds of structures scattered all over the surface of Septimus. Some look like roads or railways, others like towns and cities. At this distance, it is impossible to tell if any of the settlements are inhabited...

"No EM, except for the colony transponder," Juanita said, as if anticipating my next question.

"Can we get hi-mag?", asked Chevsky.

"Hold on."

Some of the control systems were still damaged from the jump, but Juanita and I were able to get the telescope deployed in a few minutes. As the high-mag feed appeared on the main viewer, I got the sense for first time that I was going to die on Septimus and that death would not be quiet, peaceful and painless. Everywhere we looked, we saw ruin. Broken cities, worn down by the ages could be seen everywhere. Below us were huge craters and gouges that tore up the surface, though a lot of it was overgrown with vegetation. I'm no expert on archaeology, but it sure looked like more than one group of people built all those structures. There were different styles of architecture. Some cities had pyramids, others didn't. The layout of some of the cities was very angular, for others it wasn't. Some cities appeared older and almost completely eroded away. Others seemed more recent, though probably still ancient. But one thing all the cities seemed to share. They didn't die from neglect, they were destroyed. Chevsky was the first to speak.

"We better get to the colony."

I could hear the fear in his voice. It was first time since I'd met the man that he showed fear of anything. No one else knew what to say. We continued on to the colony in silence.

-Rognar-

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Chthonian Stars, the "ch" is silent

It is with growing anticipation that I await the arrival of Chthonian Stars by Mongoose, due for release next month. Much to my delight, there has been a recent upsurge in interest in the space horror genre in the table-top rpg community. Two companies in particular, Wildfire and Posthuman Studios, have led the way with CthulhuTech and Eclipse Phase respectively. Both games have much to recommend them, in terms of game setting. The former embraces the supernatural, in the form of the Cthulhu mythos, while the latter takes a more hard sci-fi approach, with malevolent AIs and aliens serving as the main antagonists. Still, both games have features which dissuade me from embracing them wholeheartedly. In the case of CthulhuTech, the inclusion of anime stylings and a gimmicky game engine have turned me off. Eclipse Phase is somewhat more promising, but the complexity of the game is a bit much for my middle-aged brain to fully master. The d100 game engine is simple enough, but the chargen process is byzantine and the sheer volume of options would leave me at the mercy of my younger and more intellectually-agile gaming buddies were I to attempt to run a campaign.

Enter Chthonian Stars. First off, it employs the venerable Traveller engine. Nice, no surprises there. The setting seems to be nothing short of awesome. It is the 22nd century. Humanity has reached new heights. Technology has made it possible to populate the solar system. The ecological destruction of the industrial age has begun to heal. War has been rendered obsolete and the future holds the promise of even greater success for the human race. Time to put a stop to all that.

Something primeval and malevolent approaches from the interstellar void and long-dormant horrors have heard its call. Random acts of brutal violence are reported. Ships and people disappear. Strange celestial occurrences are observed. The very edge of the solar system, once seen as the new frontier, is increasingly viewed with dread, a place of nightmares and monsters from the void. And out there, ever vigilant in the Kuiper Belt is Warden 4, the Lighthouse, humanity's most distant outpost, where the Wardens, the Unified World Council's most elite agents, observe and prepare for the arrival of the Chthonian star. How much cool can you stand?

To the guys at Wildfire and Mongoose, please don't mess this up.

-Rognar-

cross-posted at Roll for Initiative

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Sunward - Eclipse Phase heats up

I'm not sure what I expected to see in the new Sunward: The Inner System sourcebook for Eclipse Phase. In hindsight, I suppose what it contains (which I will discuss below) is exactly what one would expect. Yet, somehow, I feel slightly disappointed. I bought the pdf from DriveThruRPG and have nothing negative to say about the production quality. The artwork is beautiful, the editing appears tight, it has a good ToC and index. The "hack pack" version I bought for $15 includes a printer-friendly map of the inner solar system as well as other goodies made available for use under the Creative Commons License. Really, I have nothing to complain about, so what's the problem?

Sunward: The Inner System is basically an encyclopedia of the inner solar system in the Eclipse Phase setting. It provides an exhaustive list of colonies and space stations throughout the inner system, from the hell mines of Mercury to the nomad settlements of the Martian outback to the luxurious Venusian aerostats, there are plenty of ideas and settings to exploit. I found two of these particularly inspiring and it may be a window into my soul that both are bleak and gritty. One is the "TITAN Quarantine Zone" or TQZ on Mars and the other is Earth itself. At this point, a little background may be in order. Eclipse Phase is set in the far (but not really far) future after a "war-against-the-machines" scenario. The machines, in this case, are the TITANs (Total Information Tactical Awareness Networks), military AIs, not unlike the famous Skynet, that turn on humanity. They don't simply nuke us to extinction, however. They collect our consciousnesses (usually by way of decapitation followed by download directly from the harvested brain) and store them for some unknown purpose. Most of humanity is slaughtered, but many escape offworld. The lucky ones are able to escape intact, but most are infugees, digital consciousnesses uploaded and stored in hope of one day earning the means to have a body or "morph" and becoming a functioning individual. Most never will. Anyway, the TITANs were not defeated, although the commonly held belief is that they were contained. The discovery of Pandora Gates, portals to other star systems, which have distinct TITAN design features lead most to conclude that the TITANs built them to leave the solar system completely. The problem is, even if the TITANs left for good (an open question, to be sure), they left behind most of their automated weapons. Nanoswarms and warbots patrol the scorched ruins of Earth's great cities, while dormant viruses lie in wait to infect any biomorph that encounters them. Yet, despite these horrors, small pockets of humanity remain on Earth, ten years after the Fall. Do these survivors look up to the heavens and wonder if rescue is just a few thousand kilometers away in the glittering space stations that orbit overhead or do they assume the TITANs must have pursued humanity to the very edge of the solar system and left none alive? How can one not find that compelling? In fact, the TITANs did pursue humanity beyond Earth, most notably to Luna, the near-Earth orbital habitats and Mars. The most troubling reminder of that pursuit is the TQZ on Mars. It is a little taste of what Earth is like on the most populated planet in the system. The same technological horrors inhabit the zone, yet for some reason, do not seek to expand for the moment. Imagine the role-playing possibilities. Corporate agents, separatist militants, desert nomads and TITAN technology, Mars is a pretty interesting place.

So, what about the crunch? I guess perhaps this is where I feel a bit let down. Maybe, there wasn't much left to offer after the core rulebook, but a paltry selection of new morphs, some rather silly (sun-worshipping space whales, WTF?), as well as new traits and gear. There's also a selection of new character templates. The Earth Survivor is the coolest damn thing I've seen in months, but the Martian Ranger, the Scavenger and the Siftrunner Techie are pretty sweet too. An encounter between a group of Scavengers in their flexbot morphs and Earth Survivors, looking like Tusken Raiders after ten years on a heavy diet of steroids and hate, would make for a pretty sweet evening of hardcore gaming. While Sunward is not everything I'd hoped for, it has a lot to offer and the hack pack is worth the extra few sheckels if you want to customize your game setting or maybe use some of the artwork for a blog or other website.

-Rognar-

cross-posted at
Roll for Initiative

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Septimus - Chapter 1.2

Only a few seconds remain in the airlock cycle and then my first look at the worldsphere from the inside. I still can't really wrap my head around it, they say the surface area is something like three hundred quadrillion square kilometers, almost a billion times the area of earth. The human mind is simply not equipped to truly appreciate such immensity. Venting is complete, the airlock opens. A gentle push and I'm drifting out.

I've never been much for religion, but only someone who's stared into the face of God can imagine it. In every direction, a sky full of world. Never again will I see black sky or stars, yet I feel no sadness at this. In this instant I know that the wonder I feel right now will not fade in my lifetime. There is too much here for a hundred lifetimes to fully understand.

I don't know how long I floated there in awe of what I was witnessing, but eventually my reverie was disrupted by Juanita's voice asking if I was alright. After a few seconds to compose myself, I replied that I was fine and that I was about to turn on my helmet cam for video feed back to the bridge. The mike was still open when they received the first signal and I could sense the awe in their response. If only they could see it as I was right now. It was at this point that I noticed the sunblocks. I don't recall if I ever gave much thought to day and night cycles within Septimus or whether we would just be living in perpetual high noon. If I had, I probably would have thought such a thing would be difficult to get used to. As it turns out, the Septimus builders had thought of that. A giant ring of alternating plates and voids rotates slowly within the sphere, casting shadows across an equatorial band within the sphere. There is certainly plenty of landmass above and below the equator which never sees night, but for anyone living within the equatorial zone, it appears there is a normal (or whatever passes for normal inside Septimus) day-night cycle. Of course, reflected light from within the sphere would no doubt mean night isn't exactly dark, but I guess some sort of diurnal cycle is better than none at all. On the closest part of the sphere, I can just make out some detail. There are continents and oceans, mountain ranges and rivers, and clouds. From this distance, It's hard to tell the scale of these things, but they must surely be staggering when viewed from the ground. I thought Olympus Mons was breathtaking. I guess there are going to be a lot of people walking around in a daze for awhile once we land. Which reminds me, I'm out here for a reason. Time to get to work.

First, the optics array, I've got to get that online. I make my way over the hull, trying to avoid further distraction. However, I notice some strange scoring on the hull. Can't recall having seen anything quite like it, several sets of widely-spaced parallel scratchs criss-cross the outer surface of the ship. I've seen the effects of micrometeors and sandcasters, railguns and debris fields and they never looked like this. It definitely doesn't look like anything produced by lasers or plasma cannons either. Very weird, but it doesn't appear as though it caused any significant damage, whatever it was. Still, it gives me the creeps. Okay, the optics bay is just ahead. Yeah, as I suspected, the forward camera has be torn off. It probably caused a surge which burned out the rear camera as well. No big deal, I have a spare I can install for now to give us forward viewing. The rest of the system can be overhauled when we land.

It takes a half hour, but we have visuals. I only have a few minutes of EVA time left, so I'm just going to take a quick look at the impact shield. It's only a few meters, so I take it in one bounce. Damn, what a mess! I don't know if the scratchs on the hull and the hole in the impact shield are related, but something tore into us pretty good. Owww, my head is starting to hurt again. I'll have to ask Ramos for another shot of that painkiller he gave me. Looking at the hole, it's strange, narrow, but deep and unusually round. It almost looks like some kind of tool was used. No melting around the edges and no transfer from the object. Man, I'm starting get a bad feeling about this. Damn, this headache! What's that?

"(static)...Pelham, respond!"

Right there, some sort of shimmering. Ahhhh, my skull feels like it's gonna explode. There, again.

"(static)...Pelham, we are picking up elevated gamma radiation. Please, respond!...(static)"

No, leave me alone! Get out of my head! No please, leave her alone! Leave them alone! They're just kids!

--------------

"Pelham, you're awake."

"Ramos, what happened?"

"You tell me."

"All I remember is seeing some kind of shimmer and my head was killing me."

"There was a radiation surge. We're not sure where it came from. When it stopped, Chevsky went out to find you. You were unconscious, but you still had air. Your suit was fine and you seem to have suffered no radiation exposure."

"That's it?"

"Well, Juanita claims she heard you mumbling something about children just before your comm went dead, but she couldn't make it out too clearly. Anyway, you seem fine now and we have a bit of good news. Juanita has located the transponder frequency for the Rojas colony. As soon as we get a fix on their location, we're on our way."

"That's good to hear. I can't wait to breath some real air."

"Odd thing though, she says she was only able to detect about a half dozen transponder frequencies, besides the one Rojas is using. Every colony ship is supposed to be broadcasting one and there have been over two hundred ships going through so far. I guess a lot of people just want to be left alone."

-Rognar-

Friday, June 11, 2010

Septimus - Chapter 1.1

It had been over four days since the Svetlana dropped out of out jumpspace. Throughout that time, Captain Chevsky had been in periodic communication with the UNA Septimus Directorate negotiating for clearance as we closed on the massive wall of blackness. Now, as we waited only a few hundred thousand klicks from the gate, we could see several ships and small craft flitting about, as well as the approach lights erected by the Directorate, indicating the location of the otherwise invisible dimensional gate. A big modular colony pod was preparing to enter and we would be permitted to enter a few hours later. The maneuvre thrusters on the colony ship fire and it proceeds forward. I watch intently as the colony ship appears to head directly toward a featureless wall so immense that even at this distance, no curvature is noticeable. It's as if one half of the sky is starless and the other sparkles with lights so clear, you almost feel as though you could touch them. I'm told it's because of the combined effects of almost non-existent ambient light and because the space around Septimus is as pristine as the interstellar void. The colony pod picks up speed rapidly. I've heard the gate works best when a ship is doing over a thousand klicks per second. Good thing they put final approach under computer control. Most helmsmen would lose bowel control flying at a solid wall at half a percent of lightspeed. And what happens on the other side? There's a lot of room inside a sphere with a radius of over one AU, but who knows where you pop back into normal space? There's a lot of decel required once inside. Could be a lot of ships finding the inside of that shell coming at them at uncomfortable speeds, especially for those clunky colony pods. Any radical course changes and those pigs turn into a fireworks display for the folks below. I try not to think about it too much.

"There they go," Captain Chevsky says.

I look up in time to see the colony pod approach the gate. It's really just a blur. There's no flash of light and, happily, no explosion either. One second she's there, the next, she's gone. Good luck, folks. You're gonna need it.

We spend the next few hours prepping the ship for the gate jump or whatever it is. I don't claim to understand the physics involved. I'm not sure the big brains understand it either. Again, not something I spend much thought on. I'm a tech, not a scientist. I signed on with Chevsky back on Mars. He was pretty well-known around the spacer bars. It surprised everyone when he decided to retire, he was one of the few independents left in the game. Interstellar freight transport is an expensive business and most small operators couldn't make enough money to stay in it. They just couldn't afford the really big freighters and in space, you have to go big. Chevsky was an exception. He had a way of sniffing out small, high-value cargoes. Most figured he had connections. Government or criminal, who knows? Anyway, he announced he was getting out. He bought out his crew and said he was headed for Septimus. Yeah, I know, Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot? Anyway, he was looking for colonists, young people, men and women, under thirty, no families. I don't know what convinced me to sign up. I was sober, so it wasn't that. I guess I just wanted to be part of something. So here I am, checking the sleepers in the cargo hold. Don't want anyone to bite it because of a faulty relay. If I was flying in a low berth, I'd hope someone would do it for me. After I finish with the sleepers, I'll do a check on the thrusters. Those things never have a problem, but there's a first time for everything. Then I'll grab a sandwich in the mess before heading back to the bridge. Don't want to miss the floor show.

I get back to the bridge with a few minutes to spare. Chevsky has the helm, his wife Juanita is on the comm. The only other person on the flight deck is Ramos, the medic. Everyone else is in the sleepers. We'll need Ramos when we wake up the rest of the colonists. Cold sleep is pretty safe, but it's always a good idea to have a medic on standby in case someone's ticker gives out. As I finish strapping in, the Captain informs us that final approach is about to commence. The impact shields descend over the flight deck windows and the lights dim. The thrusters engage and three gees of acceleration press us hard in our seats. Seconds pass, we must be close. What the hell was I think...

"Pelham, wake up!"

Ahhh, my head is pounding. What the hell happened?

"Pelham, get up. We need you!" It was Ramos.

"What? What's wrong?"

"Sensors are down. We're flying blind!"

"Well, open the shield," I reply as I look around for my toolkit.

"Can't, we hit something. The shield is jammed."

"Damn! Alright, I'm on it."

It took a few scary minutes, but I got sensors back online. Some sort of power surge tripped breakers all over the place. Weird, but reparable. Ramos is checking out the sleepers. Damn, I hope they're ok. Should be, they're well-shielded and each has independent power in an emergency. Chevsky's missus is scanning for debris. I guess something hit us pretty hard just as we dropped back into normal space. Video is still out, whatever we hit probably busted the optics package, but radar and passive EM is working. Why does my head hurt so much?

"Sleepers are ok, thank god." Ramos was back. "Pelham, what happened to you?"

"What do you mean?"

"You lost consciousness. I had to hit you with a stim to wake you up."

"I dunno, but my head is killing me. Maybe hopping across dimensions doesn't agree with me...like tequila." I was trying to lighten the mood, but my heart wasn't in it. Ramos smiled and moved on to check on Chevsky and the Missus.

Time to go EVA and see if I can do something with the optics array.


-Rognar-

Friday, June 04, 2010

Rebuilding the rebuilds - Kossak


Red Blok "Kossak" medium strider (TL 10)
Hull: 26 m3, Standard Configuration, Advanced Composites, Rugged, Sealed, 9/11
Drive: Walker
Power Plant: Hydrogen Fuel Cell-10, Power Output 330, Fuel Consumption: 5 per hour
Fuel: 200 litres (40 hours)
Armour: Advanced composites 12 (24/16/16/16/16/8)
Weapons:
light autocannon (pop-up traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 7d6 SAP; auto 6)
ammo: 40 attacks
4x light tac missile (antiarmour) (right external fixed, 9d6 Super-AP)
4x light tac missile (antiarmour) (left external fixed, 9d6 Super-AP)
ammo: 16 missiles
Sensors: Comprehensive Compact Hardened, Extended (9 km +2 DM)
Communications: Radio 1,000 km, Laser 20 km
Environmental: Improved Life Support
Crew: 2
Operating Stations: 2
Cargo: 0.05 dTon
Agility: +1 DM
Speed: Cruise: 10 kph Top: 13 kph Offroad: 6 kph
Ground Pressure: 3.67

-Rognar-

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rebuilding the rebuilds - Destroyer


The new "Destroyer" armoured personnel carrier is still equipped with the TL 11 upgrade of the plasma A gun, but has lighter armour.

ONI "Destroyer" APC (TL 11)
Hull: 30 m3, Standard Configuration, Advanced Composites, Rugged, Sealed, 10/12
Drive: Wheels, Drive Wheels (x2), Offroad Suspension, Improved Controls
Power Plant: Hydrogen Fuel Cell-10, Power Output 110, Fuel Consumption: 5 per hour
Fuel: 200 litres (40 hours)
Armour: Advanced Composites 8 (14/14/14/14/8/8)
Weapons:
plasma A gun-11 (internal traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 14d6)
Sensors: Comprehensive Compact Hardened (3 km +2 DM)
Communications: Radio 100 km, Laser 20 km
Environmental: Advanced Life Support
Crew: 3
Operating Stations: 3
Passengers: 8
Cargo: 0.01 dTon
Agility: +0 DM, +2 DM (Offroad)
Speed: Cruise: 63 kph Top: 84 kph Offroad: 69 kph
Ground Pressure: 2.80

-Rognar-

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rebuilding the rebuilds - Kolossus


The new "Kolossus" has a larger power plant, but a smaller main gun. It also has no reloads for the tac missile launchers, but does have higher speed and better sensors/comms. Here's the build:

Red Blok "Kolossus" light strider (TL 10)
Hull: 10 m3, Standard Configuration, Advanced Composites, Rugged, Sealed, 3/5
Drive: Walker
Power Plant: Hydrogen Fuel Cell-10, Power Output 88, Fuel Consumption: 4 per hour
Fuel: 80 litres (20 hours)
Armour: Advanced composites 8 (16/12/12/12/12/8)
Weapons:
medium autocannon (right external traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 7d6 SAP; auto 6)
ammo: 30 attacks
2x light tac missile (antiarmour) (left external fixed, 9d6 Super-AP)
Sensors: Comprehensive Compact Hardened (3 km +2 DM)
Communications: Radio 100 km, Laser 10 km
Environmental: Improved Life Support
Crew: 1
Operating Stations: 1
Agility: +1 DM
Speed: Cruise: 11 kph Top: 15 kph Offroad: 7 kph
Ground Pressure: 2.98

-Rognar-

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rebuilding the rebuilds - Fire Toad

It turns out, I've been making a very crucial mistake in my Traveller builds of AT-43 vehicles. All my vehicles, except the ONI "Enforcer" are wrong. They are way too heavy for their drive systems. So, I undertake to correct the erroneous builds. I begin with the "Fire Toad". My biggest problem with this build is finding an appropriate weapon. Currently, there is no laser weapon in between the laser rifle (7 kg including power pack) and the laser cannon (1750 kg stripped for vehicle mounting). Clearly, there is a need for a light laser cannon, so I created one. The light laser cannon (TL 11) weighs 320 kg, does 6d6+3 damage and has a maximum effective range of 10 km. Here is the corrected build:

UNA "Fire Toad" light strider (TL 11)
Hull: 16 m3, Standard Configuration, Advanced Composites, Rugged, Sealed, 6/6
Drive: Walker
Power Plant: Hydrogen Fuel Cell-10, Power Output 176, Fuel Consumption: 8 per hour
Fuel: 320 litres (40 hours)
Armour: Advanced Composites 12 (22/16/16/16/16/10)
Weapons:
light laser cannon (left external traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 6d6+3)
light laser cannon (right external traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 6d6+3)
Sensors: Comprehensive Compact Hardened Extended (9 km +2 DM)
Communications: Radio 100 km, Laser 20 km
Environmental: Improved Life Support
Crew: 1
Operating Stations: 1
Cargo: 0.03 dTon
Agility: +1 DM
Speed: Cruise: 8 kph Top: 10 kph Offroad: 5 kph
Ground Pressure: 3.85

The new "Fire Toad" has a lot less armour and a larger frame and power plant. It has less sophisticated environmental capabilities, but higher speed due to its greater power output and lighter frame.

-Rognar-

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

ONI Enforcer build



The "Enforcer" scout car is the most popular ONI armoured fighting vehicle on the colonial worlds, where its compact size and toughness make it ideal for exploration and counterinsurgency. The standard configuration mounts twin Vulcan rotary cannons capable of directing ridiculous amounts of ordinance downrange. For this reason, many buyers of Enforcers request only a single autocannon be installed.

ONI "Enforcer" Scout Car (TL 11)
Hull: 20 m
3, Standard Configuration, Advanced Composites, Rugged, Sealed, 7/8
Drive: Wheels, Drive Wheels (x1), Offroad Suspension, Improved Controls
Power Plant: Hydrogen Fuel Cell-10, Power Output 88, Fuel Consumption: 4 per hour
Fuel: 160 litres (40 hours)
Armour: Advanced Compsites 8 (14/14/14/14/8/8)
Weapons:
2x Vulcan light autocannon (internal, traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 6d6 SAP; auto 10)
ammo: 30 bursts each
Sensors: Comprehensive Compact Hardened (3 km +2 DM)
Communications: Radio 100 km
Environmental: Advanced Life Support
Crew: 2
Operating Stations: 2
Passengers: 4
Cargo: 0.04 dTon
Agility: +0 DM, +2 DM (Offroad)
Speed: Cruise: 83 kph Top: 111 kph Offroad: 91 kph
Ground Pressure: 2.54

-Rognar-

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mongoose Traveller chargen - random v. point-buy

It may be blasphemy to long-time Traveller players, but Mongoose has added a point-buy option to the chargen process. Since I have used point-buy systems for years, I'm agnostic in this regard, so I figured I'd run it through and see how a character will differ if generated with the point-buy.

I randomly created my man, Angus. He started out in the Army, but was forced out due to a conflict with a superior officer in his second term and then enlisted in the Scout Service for two more terms. Here is the result:

Angus I
St:9 Dx:7 En:11 In:7 Ed:7 So:5
Drive-0
Athletics-0
Gun Combat-0
Gun Combat (slug rifle)-2
Recon-1
Melee-0
Melee (unarmed combat)-1
Vacc Suit-1
Astrogation-1
Comms-0
Computers-0
Streetwise-0
Pilot (small craft)-2
Navigation-1
25,000 Cr

Here is an approximate recreation of the build using the point-buy system:

Angus II
St:9 Dx:9 En:9 In:6 Ed:6 So:6
Drive-0
Gun Combat-0
Gun Combat (slug rifle)-2
Recon-1
Melee-0
Melee (unarmed combat)-1
Vacc Suit-1
Astrogation-1
Computers-0
Pilot (small craft)-2
20,000 Cr

The random Angus has more 0-level skills, while the point-buy Angus has better (and more mechanically-advantageous) characteristics. Also, the random Angus has more background info, such as the aforementioned problem with a superior officer in the Army as well as a life-threatening injury suffered in his first term of the Scout Service that nearly cost him a limb and required expensive medical treatment. Still, all that background can be created by the player after the character is built.

-Rognar-

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Cartagena colony

Founded by the brother and sister team of Raphael and Jacinta Rojas, the Cartagena colony was established two years ago and currently has 19 members. Typical of many Septimus colonies, it is made up of the desperate and the adventurous looking for a better life than the one offered on the marginal worlds of explored space. All members of the colony have some basic training in hydroponics and aquaculture. Raphael Rojas is a physician, while his sister, Jacinta, is a biologist and geneticist. Other prominent members of the colony include Travis Willem, a former member of the UNA Scout Service, Natalie Tanaka, a one-time corporate espionage agent, and ex-mercenary, Roberto Morales.

The Cartagena colony site was chosen because of the presence of an alien artifact which Raphael was curious to investigate. The artifact appears to be a polished white stone obelisk some 50 metres tall and 20 metres across, perfectly hexagonal in cross-section and with a modest bevel along the top edges.



Raphael Rojas is an old friend of Boris Chevsky, famed captain of the freighter Svetlana. Before leaving for Septimus, Rojas invited Chevsky and his wife, Juanita, to join him in the new colony. At the time, Chevsky wasn't interested, but Rojas left the invitation open and gave Chevsky the colony's transponder frequency should he ever change his mind. Two years later, Chevsky is looking for a new life and has decided to take Rojas up on his offer. He bought out his crew and is looking for adventurous young men and women to join him inside the worldsphere.

-Rognar-

Monday, May 10, 2010

ONI Destroyer build


The most recognizable ONI combat vehicle is the "Destroyer" armoured personnel carrier. Thousands of these APCs patrol the hostile borders of Asia and provide support to UNA forces throughout the colonial worlds. This build describes the favourite colonial variant, armed with an upgraded plasma A cannon.

ONI "Destroyer" APC (TL 11)
Hull: 30 m3, Standard Configuration, Crystaliron, Very Rugged, Advanced Sealed, 9/12
Drive: Wheels
Power Plant: Hydrogen Fuel Cell-10, Power Output 110, Fuel Consumption: 5 per hour
Fuel: 200 litres (40 hours)
Armour: Crystaliron 12 (20/20/20/20/16/12)
Weapons:
plasma A gun-11 (internal traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 14d6)
Decoys: Multispectral smoke dispenser (6 uses)
Sensors: Comprehensive Compact Hardened Extended (9 km +2 DM)
Communications: Radio 100 km, Maser 20 km
Environmental: Hostile Environment Life Support
Crew: 2
Operating Stations: 2
Passengers: 8
Cargo: 0.09 dTon
Agility: +1 DM
Speed: Cruise: 50 kph Top: 66 kph Offroad: 33 kph
Ground Pressure: 2.67

-Rognar-

ONI Corp in the Septimus future

Although most of Asia has fallen under the control of the Red Blok, two prominent exceptions remain, Japan and India. Though both countries maintain good relations with the UNA, they realize the limits of those relations. The UNA simply will not contribute greatly to the defense of either state. As such, India and Japan have formed a defensive alliance to deter Red Blok aggression. A lucrative arms industry has grown out of that alliance and the most prominent of the arms manufacturers is ONI Corporation. With its head office in Kyoto and major facilities in New Delhi, Mumbai and Osaka, ONI has become the largest single corporate entity on the planet. Besides providing for the massive military needs of the Indo-Japanese alliance, they also provide arms to the UNA, the Europeans and the Australians. In addition, they have adapted their considerable technological prowess to the construction of starship components for the UNA. In fact, there are persistent rumours that ONI actually maintains an extrasolar colony somewhere, known only to a hand-picked elite of scientists, politicians and company men. Among the more feverish conspiracy theorists, there are even suggestions that ONI's rapid rise to power has resulted from access to a secret cache of alien technology or even contact with an intelligent alien race.

-Rognar-

Friday, May 07, 2010

Kossak build



Red Blok "Kossak" medium strider (TL 10)
Hull: 26 m
3, Standard Configuration, Advanced Composites, Very Rugged, Advanced Sealed, 9/12
Drive: Walker
Power Plant: Hydrogen Fuel Cell-10, Power Output 264, Fuel Consumption: 12 per hour
Fuel: 480 litres (40 hours)
Armour: Advanced composites 32 (46/36/36/36/36/26)
Weapons:
4x light tac missile (antiarmour) (left external fixed, 9d6 Super-AP)
ammo: 2 attacks each
4x light tac missile (antiarmour) (right external fixed, 9d6 Super-AP)
ammo: 2 attacks each
Sensors: Advanced Compact Hardened Extended (15 km +3 DM)
Communications: Radio 100 km
Environmental: Hostile Environment Life Support
Crew: 2
Operating Stations: 2
Cargo: 0.12 dTon
Agility: +1 DM
Speed: Cruise: 9 kph Top: 12 kph Offroad: 6 kph
Ground Pressure: 1.12

Although the Kossak is typically armed with antiarmour missiles, it can be equipped with antipersonnel and antiair missiles in any combination.


-Rognar-

Kolossus rebuild

The Red Blok "Kolossus" is the lightest mech on the battlefield. Since the Red Blok lags behind the UNA in technology, they lack the means to produce combat armour. The Kolossus fills the heavy infantry role. Here's the build:

Red Blok "Kolossus" light strider (TL 10)
Hull: 10 m3, Standard Configuration, Advanced Composites, Very Rugged, Advanced Sealed, 3/5
Drive: Walker
Power Plant: Hydrogen Fuel Cell-10, Power Output 66, Fuel Consumption: 3 per hour
Fuel: 60 litres (20 hours)
Armour: Advanced composites 16 (30/20/20/20/20/10)
Weapons:
60mm antitank gun (right external traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 7d6 Super-AP)
ammo: 30 attacks
2x light tac missile (antiarmour) (left external fixed, 9d6 Super-AP)
ammo: 2 attacks each
Sensors: Basic Compact Hardened (1 km +1 DM)
Communications: Radio 100 km
Environmental: Hostile Environment Life Support
Crew: 1
Operating Stations: 1
Agility: +1 DM
Speed: Cruise: 5 kph Top: 7 kph Offroad: 4 kph
Ground Pressure: 1.90

-Rognar-

Fire Toad rebuild, pt.2

I needed to get the weight down a bit on my Fire Toad, so I adjusted my tech level improvements on the laser cannons, sacrificing some of the extra damage for lower mass. The lasers now do 8d6+5, but are 35% lighter. Here is the updated build:

UNA "Fire Toad" light strider (TL 11)
Hull: 15 m3, Standard Configuration, Crystaliron, Very Rugged, Advanced Sealed, 6/8
Drive: Walker
Power Plant: Hydrogen Fuel Cell-10, Power Output 132, Fuel Consumption: 6 per hour
Fuel: 240 litres (40 hours)
Armour: Crystaliron 24 (40/30/30/30/30/20)
Weapons:
laser cannon-11 (left external traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 8d6+5)
laser cannon-11 (right external traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 8d6+5)
Sensors: Comprehensive Compact Hardened (3 km +2 DM)
Communications: Radio 100 km, Maser 20 km
Environmental: Hostile Environment Life Support
Crew: 1
Operating Stations: 1
Cargo: 0.04 dTon
Agility: +1 DM
Speed: Cruise: 5 kph Top: 6 kph Offroad: 3 kph
Ground Pressure: 2.23

Still pretty slow, but there's not much else I can do and still design the vehicle with laser cannons. Another issue is the firepower. Lasers are accurate and have long range, but do little more than scratch the paint on heavily-armoured vehicles. My Fire Toad build would be hard-pressed to even penetrate its own armour. So, I think it is time to abandon the laser cannons, and arm the 'Toad with plasma A guns. With a tech upgrade, I can make the plasma guns even lighter and smaller than my laser cannons and they do a much more respectable 14d6 damage. With the added space, I had room to upgrade my sensor package as well. At long last, the definitive Fire Toad build:

UNA "Fire Toad" light strider (TL 11)
Hull: 15 m3, Standard Configuration, Crystaliron, Very Rugged, Advanced Sealed, 6/8
Drive: Walker
Power Plant: Hydrogen Fuel Cell-10, Power Output 132, Fuel Consumption: 6 per hour
Fuel: 240 litres (40 hours)
Armour: Crystaliron 24 (40/30/30/30/30/20)
Weapons:
plasma A gun-11 (left external traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 14d6)
plasma A gun-11 (right external traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 14d6)
Sensors: Comprehensive Compact Hardened Extended (9 km +2 DM)
Communications: Radio 100 km, Maser 20 km
Environmental: Hostile Environment Life Support
Crew: 1
Operating Stations: 1
Cargo: 0.02 dTon
Agility: +1 DM
Speed: Cruise: 5 kph Top: 7 kph Offroad: 3 kph
Ground Pressure: 2.03

-Rognar-

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Fire Toad rebuild

I have updated my UNA "Fire Toad" design using the Mongoose design rules. Several significant design changes are involved, the most significant being the switch from a fusion reactor to a hydrogen fuel cell. Power demands are not as severe with the new design rules and, in any case, the power output of the fuel cells is only slightly less than fusion reactors at the tech level I'm interested in. I have, once again, had to fiddle with my laser cannons to make the Fire Toad. Lasers have always been the red-headed stepchildren of the Traveller game system, chronically underpowered when compared to slugthrowers. Anyway, I upgunned the laser cannon-9, using the tech advancement rules to give the laser cannon-11 a boost to 8d6+7. They are still enormously heavy, but the 'Toad can handle the load.

So, here is the build:

UNA "Fire Toad" light strider (TL 11)
Hull: 15 m3, Standard Configuration, Crystaliron, Very Rugged, Advanced Sealed, 6/8
Drive: Walker
Power Plant: Hydrogen Fuel Cell-10, Power Output 132, Fuel Consumption: 6 per hour
Fuel: 240 litres (40 hours)
Armour: Crystaliron 24 (40/30/30/30/30/20)
Weapons:
laser cannon-11 (left external traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 8d6+7)
laser cannon-11 (right external traversing, TL 10 stabilisation, 8d6+7)
Sensors: Comprehensive Compact Hardened (3 km +2 DM)
Communications: Radio 100 km, Maser 20 km
Environmental: Hostile Environment Life Support
Crew: 1
Operating Stations: 1
Cargo: 0.007 dTon
Agility: +1 DM
Speed: Cruise: 3 kph Top: 4 kph Offroad: 2 kph
Ground Pressure: 2.74

A top speed of 4 kph is a bit low even for the lumbering Fire Toad. I don't have any volume left to upsize my power plant, however, so I have to get the weight down. I have to tweak the lasers some more. They are too heavy.

-Rognar-

Friday, April 30, 2010

Some worlds of human space - 2300 AD

Early in the 24th century, human space encompasses some 50 explored systems, although only a handful of worlds have sizable populations. With the sole exception of Earth itself, all the major colony worlds are currently being terraformed, a process that takes centuries. Of these, only Mars now has a breathable atmosphere and even there, the air is thin and very dry. Most Martians still use respirators and eye protection when venturing out on to the planet's surface.

Earth A867A75-B N S Hi Ht In Ri
Over 20 billion people live on Earth. Though largely depleted of natural resources, the planet is relatively free of harmful pollutants due to plentiful fusion power. Atmospheric regeneration stations ensure the oxygen concentration stays at breathable levels. Despite its enormous population, Earth is generally self-sufficient as far as food production is concerned.
Starting skills: Computers-0, Streetwise-0

Mars A451975-B N S Hi Ht In Ri
Mars supports almost 2 billion people, thanks to massive terraforming efforts. Dozens of small comets were harnessed and mined to provide the huge amounts of water needed to make Mars inhabitable. The process is expected to continue well into the future. Mars also has the distinction of having the only planetary base not administered by the UNA or the Red Blok. EuroStation One is an Anglo-French colony with a science station and a consulate. It also maintains a small security detachment.
Starting skills: Computers-0, Carouse-0

Luna C200565-B N Va
Earth's moon offers little benefit for colonization beyond its close proximity. As such, permanent human habitation is limited to mainly to scientific and military facilities, although some service industries have been set up to provide for the needs of the personnel stationed on Luna as well as a small number of lunar tourists.
Starting skills: Computers-0, Vacc Suit-0

Titan C3A2565-B N Fl
Titan is a UNA colonial protectorate, although there is a sizable Red Blok enclave. Little can be done to terraform Titan, as it is much too far from the Sun to ever support life, but its abundance of methane and other commodities make it the support base for all outer system activity.
Starting skills: Computers-0, Vacc Suit-0

Hyperia B731765-B N S IC
Hyperia is the oldest of the extrasolar colonies, having been established by the UNA nearly a century earlier. The planet is mostly frozen, although a thin band of habitable land exists around the equator. Hyperia has great potential, however, as the massive ice caps hold abundant water and carbon dioxide, the necessary components for terraforming.
Starting skills: Computers-0, Vacc Suit-0

Xindiqiu C8207B7-A N In
The oldest and largest of the Red Blok colonies, Xindiqiu is a marginal world rich in mineral wealth. The atmosphere is unbreathable and there is little water, so the enormous population is supported by extensive importation of food and water.
Starting skills: Computers-0, Vacc Suit-0

Krepost A5107B7-A N In
The largest military base outside of the Solar System is found on the Red Blok world of Krepost. More Red Blok soldiers die while training on Krepost than do so in military actions. Aside from supporting the military, Krepost also has thriving mining and industrial sectors.
Starting skills: Computers-0, Vacc Suit-0

-Rognar-

Mongoose Traveller vs. Megatraveller - combat

Another area where some rule changes have been instituted by Mongoose is combat. In Megatraveller, a character with average characteristics will have a hit value of 3/5. This means 3 pts. of damage will render him incapacitated, while 5 more pts. will kill him. Most of the handheld weapons in Megatraveller do 3 or 4 pts. of damage. These include slugthrowers and lasers of most tech levels. This means a single full damage shot from any of these weapons will knock most characters out of combat. This is where armour comes into play. All weapons have a penetration value and all types of armour have an armour value. In order to achieve a full damage hit, the penetration value must be double the armour value. If it is equal or greater (but not double), it does half damage. In general, armour values tend to lag behind penetration values for a given tech level, so incapacitating shots tend to be rather common. Thus, combat in Megatraveller is best avoided unless the characters have a clear advantage in technology or numbers over their opponents. Another feature of Megatraveller combat is the lack of randomness. The penetration number and the damage of the weapon are fixed. Your weapon either penetrates or it doesn't and you either do full damage or half damage. There are no grazing hits or critical hits. If you have a laser rifle-9 and your enemy is wearing combat armour-12, don't waste your power cell. You will not affect him, no matter how awesome a called shot you make.

In Mongoose Traveller, a character takes damage directly to characteristics, first Endurance, then the other physical characteristics (player's choice). When End and another characteristic are reduced to zero, the character is incapacitated. When all three physical characteristics are reduced to zero, the character is dead. An average character would, therefore, expect to take around 14 pts. of damage before incapacitation and another 7 before death. There is no penetration number for a weapon. You roll a number of damage dice and any excess above what is required to exceed the armour value is applied as damage. This adds a greater degree of uncertainty to each result. For example, the aforementioned laser rifle-9 now does 5d6 pts., while the combat armour-12 has an armour value of 14. It is, therefore, likely that at least a couple pts. of damage will be done to the target and a really good roll could do significant damage. Still, one shot incapacitation against a reasonably armoured character is pretty unlikely. Of course, when PGMPs and FGMPs are being used, characters start getting vapourized pretty quickly.

-Rognar-

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mongoose Traveller vs. Megatraveller - chargen

Mongoose Traveller is very similar to older versions of the game including the one I am most familiar with, Megatraveller. There are a few differences, though, and I will demonstrate those by generating a character. My character is a Scout named Travis. Let's start with rolling characteristics.

I roll 6 x 2d6 and get 11,5,3,6,9,8. In the old days, you took your rolls in order. So Travis has:

Str:11 Dex:5 End:3 Int:6 Edu:9 Soc:8

So, MegaTravis is strong enough to lift a small car and he attended a very good school, but he's a bit clumsy and quite sickly. Bad news for someone interested in the Scout Service.

Mongoose lets you distribute your rolls as you see fit. So, I will make Travis a much hardier individual.

Str:11 Dex:5 End:9 Int:6 Edu:8 Soc:3

I could make more wholesale changes, but this is a comparative exercise, so I will try to minimize the number of changes I make during the chargen process.

Time to revisit MegaTravis. First he must enlist. He needs a 7+ on the roll and he has a +3 DM thanks to his high Str and decent Int. He rolls an 8 (+3), total 11, no problem, he's in. Next he has to survive his first term. He needs another 7+ with no DM due to his lousy End. Luckily, he rolls a 9. Good news, he didn't suffer a career-ending injury (no death in Megatraveller chargen). He also rolls a 7 on his Special Duty check, easily making the 4+ he needed. More good news for MegaTravis. Time to start racking up the skills. MegaTravis is a Scout, so he has as default skills, Gun Combat-0, Vacc Suit-0 and Computer-0. MegaTravis gets three skills, 2 for his term of service and one for his special duty. He decides to roll twice on the Personal Development table and once on the Service Skills table. He gets a Physical and a Gun Combat result on the former and an Electronics result on the latter. He uses the Physical result to increase his End by one and he takes Laser Weapons-1 in Gun Combat. So, MegaTravis looks like this after one term:

Str:11 Dex:5 End:4 Int:6 Edu:9 Soc:8
Vacc Suit-0
Computers-0
Gun Combat-0
Laser Weapons-1
Electronics-1

MegaTravis decides to try and reenlist. He needs a 3+ and rolls a 7. So far, so good.

Next term, the good news keeps coming for MegaTravis. He rolls an 8 for survival and 5 for special duty. He gets 3 more skill rolls, so he decides to take one from the Personal Development table, one from the Service Skills table and one from the Advanced Education table. He gets a Dex +1, an Inborn and a Medical result. He decides to take Leader as his Inborn skill. After two terms, MegaTravis looks like this:

Str:11 Dex:6 End:4 Int:6 Edu:9 Soc:8
Vacc Suit-0
Computers-0
Gun Combat-0
Laser Weapons-1
Electronics-1
Leader-1
Medical-1

MegaTravis is now 26 years old and he has decided he wants to strike out on his own. He still has to make a reenlistment roll to avoid mandatory reenlistment and gets a 10. He's free. Now it's time to roll for mustering out benefits. He rolls twice on the benefits table and twice on the cash table. He ends up with Int +2, a laser rifle-9 and a total of 80,000 Cr. MegaTravis is ready to start his life as a PC. He looks like this:

Str:11 Dex:6 End:4 Int:8 Edu:9 Soc:8
Vacc Suit-0
Computers-0
Gun Combat-0
Laser Weapons-1
Electronics-1
Leader-1
Medical-1

laser rifle-9
80,000 Cr

Back to MongooseTravis. Careers in Mongoose Traveller have specializations. In the case of Scout, they are Courier, Survey and Exploration. MongooseTravis decides he wants to be an Explorer. To enlist in the Scout Service, he needs an Int 5+ roll. He has no Int bonus, so it's a straight roll. No problem, he gets an 8. Life as an explorer is no walk in the park, MongooseTravis has to make an End 7+ to survive his term. He has a +1 DM due to his high End and rolls 9 (+1), for a total of 10. He also has to make an Edu 7+ roll to earn an advancement. MongooseTravis is as lucky as MegaTravis so far. He rolls an 8. Now it's time for skills. Default skills are handled a bit differently in Mongoose Traveller. You start with 3 + Edu DM skills at level-0. These can be derived from your homeworld characteristics or from formal education. I will choose to give MongooseTravis Vacc Suit-0, Computers-0 and Space Science-0. He came from a high-tech, ice planet and was very good in his astronomy classes. In his first term in the Scout Service, he also receives all the service skills at level-0. This gives him Pilot-0, Survival-0, Mechanic-0, Astrogation-0, Comms-0 and Gun Combat-0. MongooseTravis gets two rolls this term because he succeeded on his advancement roll, so he selects the Personal Development table and the Service Skill table. He gets a Dex +1 and a Mechanic result. Also, because he made a successful advancement roll, he is promoted to Scout-1 and gets Vacc Suit-1 as a rank benefit. Next, MongooseTravis makes a roll on the Events table to determine the highlight of his term. He rolls a 5, indicating an exemplary service was performed. He gets a +1 DM on a future benefits roll. MongooseTravis now looks like this:

Str:11 Dex:6 End:9 Int:6 Edu:8 Soc:3
Vacc Suit-1
Computers-0
Gun Combat-0
Pilot-0
Survival-0
Astrogation-0
Space Science-0
Comms-0
Mechanic-1

MongooseTravis sticks around for another term. His reenlistment roll is combined with his advancement roll, so he is already accepted for another term. He makes his survival and advancement rolls again, earning 2 more skill rolls and decides to go with the Service Skills and Specialist: Exploration tables. He gets Comms and Recon results. He also gets promoted to Scout-2, although there are no rank benefits at that level. On his Events table roll, he surveyed an alien world. He has several skills to choose from and selects Survival-1. MongooseTravis now looks like this:

Str:11 Dex:6 End:9 Int:6 Edu:8 Soc:3
Vacc Suit-1
Computers-0
Gun Combat-0
Pilot-0
Survival-1
Astrogation-0
Space Science-0
Comms-1
Mechanic-1
Recon-1

MongooseTravis managed to avoid mandatory reenlistment last time and decides to muster out. He gets one benefits roll for each term of service and an extra one for reaching rank 2. He decides to roll twice on the benefits table and once on the cash table. He will use his +1 DM (from his first term event) on the first of his benefits table rolls. He gets three straight rolls of 2 (+1 on the first), giving him +1 Int, +1 Edu and 20,000 Cr. MongooseTravis now looks like this:

Str:11 Dex:6 End:9 Int:7 Edu:9 Soc:3
Vacc Suit-1
Computers-0
Gun Combat-0
Pilot-0
Survival-1
Astrogation-0
Space Science-0
Comms-1
Mechanic-1
Recon-1

20,000 Cr

In the end, MongooseTravis has more skills and more optimal characteristics, while MegaTravis has better mustering out benefits.

-Rognar-

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Campaign reboot...again

It seems I do this every couple of months, make wholesale changes to the space horror campaign I am planning. I don't know if it's my fussy nature or late-onset ADD setting in, but I just haven't been able to incorporate everything I want into one package. Although, I think I at least know what I want in the campaign.

1. A game system that is not too onerous, but permits enough rules depth to allow for sophisticated equipment and vehicle design, as well as tactical combat.

2. A game setting that can readily incorporate several design features, namely, a Dyson sphere, mechs, robots, artifical intelligence and cosmic horror. I want some elements of Septimus and some of AT-43.

With the demise of West End Games, it's clear there will be no more support for the d6 system, so before I have to backtrack too much, I am making the decision to go with Traveller as my system of choice. With a summer release of Cthonian Stars announced, it seems to be pretty much a no-brainer. Now, for a little bit of background for my campaign:

The first half of the 21st century saw great upheaval in the geopolitical situation on Earth. The economic collapse of 2008 and the decades long debt crisis left America weakened and insular. While some countries did what they could to help, namely the Anglosphere and Japan, America simply could not maintain its economic and military standing in the world. Europe was even worse off, as country after country defaulted on its loans. To add to the misery, the long-feared global oil shortage began to be felt in the 2020s. The Middle East oil fields began to run dry. Unconventional oil supplies became more important and the countries who had the oil became targets for those that did not. Central Asia was the worst battleground as Russia, China and India contested for control of what oil remained.

For half a century, the world writhed in an orgy of deprivation and violence. Eventually, the nations of the world had exhausted themselves and new technologies were developed to replace oil, which was all but gone anyway. However, the world was changed and it was not a peaceful, happy place. The Chinese had settled their differences with Russia as the communists were able to regain control. A new collectivist superpower, the Red Blok, was born. Russian and Chinese troops were able to conquer much of Eurasia, with the exception of India and western Europe. Only the remaining nuclear arsenals of the US, Britain and France prevented even greater conquests.

Meanwhile, the US had finally climbed back up from its collapse, but like so much of the world, it too had changed. Several secessionist movements had arisen and had successfully achieved independence. Rather than complete balkanization, however, the disparate parts of the old USA, combined with several other nearby states including Canada and Mexico agreed to form an alliance called the United Nations of the Americas or UNA. Most other countries in the western hemisphere would eventually join the UNA and a second global superpower was born. A new Cold War began.

By this time, nuclear fusion had begun to replace fossil fuels as the main source of the world's energy. Among other things, it allowed humanity to once again look to the heavens. Exploration and colonization of the solar system followed. Asteroid and comet mining provided for much of the material needs of humanity. For a century, humans expanded and multiplied until the population offworld was in the hundreds of millions and always, the rivalry between the Red Blok and the UNA remained.

When FTL travel was developed in the 23rd century, the space race took to the stars. Competition for worlds was fierce. Few were even remotely suitable for human habitation, even with massive technological support. It seemed even the galaxy itself was not big enough to allow mankind to live in peace. Then they found Septimus.

For nearly three centuries, humans had explored space. In all that time, they had never found any evidence of life beyond a few ambiguous microfossils. Suddenly, a marvel of engineering so astounding, the most advanced science of the day could not explain how it could even exist, let alone how to construct it. Septimus is a Dyson Sphere approximately one astronomical unit in radius. It was studied for decades by both Red Blok and UNA teams. Eventually, a sort of transdimensional gate was discovered and robotic exploration teams were sent in. None of the teams returned or communicated back. Futher study followed and still nothing was discovered about the interior. Some 35 years after the initial discovery, a fringe religious group called the Septimus Extant commandeered a ship and was able to enter the sphere. When nothing more was heard from them, they were presumed lost. However, a few years later, a signal was detected eminating from the sphere. It was from the Extant. They claimed to have set up a colony inside the sphere and that the interior was perfect for human colonization. The one problem was that they had not discovered a means to leave. This didn't matter to many. The interior surface of Septimus was so large, it could easily house the entire human population of the galaxy with ample room to spare. Settlers from both Red Blok and UNA worlds began streaming in, eager to set up colonies in the vast new frontier. Still, some questioned what was the reason for Septimus. Who built it? Where are they now? Why is its interior so conducive to human life? Why can you enter, but not leave? Is it some sort of trap?

-Rognar-

Mongoose Traveller, I like it, I really like it

My history with the Traveller game dates back to the release of Megatraveller. TSR had recently cancelled its Star Frontiers game and I was looking for a new game to fill my need for space adventure. A classic space game and a shiny new setting, the Shattered Imperium, seemed like the perfect fit. I picked up quite a few of the books, including some of the releases from Digest Group Publications. I liked the game, but I have to say, I didn't love it. I like a game with a lot of combat and action, but Megatraveller was too lethal to run a game like that. Many weapons in that game can kill an armoured character in one shot. On the upside, however, vehicle/spaceship design is extremely detailed and quite fun, a definite plus for a gearhead like me.

When Traveller: The New Era came out, I jumped on it. I was playing in a different city then, with a different group of gamers who were decidedly more into space games. Sadly, I was disappointed. T:TNE was an errata-ridden mess and the campaign setting was just awful. I gave away the core book and never looked back.

Fast forward to today and I find myself revisiting the Traveller game. I have started collecting Rackham's AT-43 miniatures line and I'm looking to convert the units to a tabletop rpg ruleset. Traveller seems uniquely suited to this effort. Still, the vehicle design rules are a little dated and not as ideal for building the kind of vehicles that dominate the AT-43 line. So, I picked up Supplement 6: Military Vehicles from the Mongoose Traveller. I have to say, it looks great. One innovation I particularly like is variable damage. In Megatraveller, each weapon has a fixed damage. I prefer a bit of randomness. It seems more realistic to me. Unfortunately for my bank account, I guess I will be buying Mongoose Traveller. Good thing Star Wars Saga Ed. has published its last supplement.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

AT-43 - Megatraveller conversion: Kolossus

The Red Blok has a slightly lower level of technology than does the UNA, so I have pegged them at TL 9. This has important implications for vehicle design, as small fusion reactors first appear at the tech level, but they are still too large for small vehicle applications. Therefore, in designing the Kolossus, the standard small mech of the Red Blok, I was compelled to use the TL 8 MHD turbine power plant. This is not a particularly limiting factor, because while the Red Blok uses a wide variety of different weapons in their striders, they do not employ beam weapons. So, power output is not a major design issue for Red Blok units.

As mentioned, the Reds use a variety of weapons. Kolossus variants can employ rocket and grenade launchers, gauss guns and even flamethowers. Not all of these weapons have been made available in Megatraveller, so some work will be needed down the road to include them. For my standard Kolossus design, I am going to arm it with two 4 cm high-velocity guns, firing KEAP rounds.

Here is my build:
CraftID: RB "Kolossus" small strider TL 9 Cr 176,000
Hull: 1/3, Disp = 1, Config = 4USL, Armour = 10D, Unloaded = 9.5 tons, Loaded = 9.9 tons
Power: 2/2, MHD turbine = 0.8 MW, Duration = 0.3/1
Loco: 2/2, Legs (x2), Road = 40 kph, OffRoad = 24 kph
Commo: MaserComm = V.Distant, Radio = Regional
Sensors: Active IR, Passive IR, Light Amp, Adv Active IR
Off/Def: HardPoints = 1
4 cm high-velocity gun (x2) w/ KEAP rds, Pen = 15, Damage = 6, Range = Distant (5), Sig = Med
Control: Computer = 0 x1, Panel = Computer link x1, Special = HeadsUp, Environ = basic env, basic ls, enhanced ls
Accomm: Crew = 1 (Operator = 1), Seats = cramped x1
Other: Cargo = 0.2 kl, Fuel = 0.28 kl, Ammo = 300, ObjSize = Small, EMLevel = Faint

-Rognar-

AT-43 - Megatraveller conversion: Fire Toad

After trying a few different things, I decided the easiest way to deal with my power-to-weight ratio/road speed issue is just to arbitrarily let limits on the speed of walking vehicles. I would estimate the top speed of a Fire Toad to be no more than 30 kph, with a top off-road speed of 18 kph. The vehicle may have enough power to move much faster, but the nature of the design makes higher speeds dangerous and extremely uncomfortable for the driver.

I have also redone the build with a much smaller hull. I realize, after comparing the Fire Toad mini to a human-sized miniature, that it is far smaller than 81 kl. I have decided to go with a displacement of 2 tons, which gives a volume of 27 kl. I also reduced the armour value to 10.

Finally, I have done some interpolation in the beam laser gun table. It is a big jump from 1.0 to 5.0 MW, so I graphed the penetration, range (which is linear) and damage as a function of power and was able to derive values for other power settings. I chose 2.0 MW beam lasers, which have a penetration of 16/3, a damage of 7 and a range of V.Distant (10). This allowed me to use a smaller fusion reactor. So, my final design is as follows:

CraftID: UNA "Fire Toad" small strider TL 10 Cr 967,000
Hull: 2/5, Disp = 2, Config = 4USL, Armour = 10E, Unloaded = 20.8 tons, Loaded = 21.3 tons
Power: 2/2, Fusion = 5.0 MW, Duration = 10/30
Loco: 2/2, Legs (x2), Road = 30 kph, OffRoad = 18 kph
Commo: MaserComm = V.Distant, Radio = Regional
Sensors: Passive EMS = V.Distant, EMM
Off/Def: HardPoints = 1
TL 8 beam laser gun (x2), Pen/Attn = 16/3, Damage = 7, Range = V.Distant (10), Sig = Hi, AutoTgt = 2
Control: Computer = 0/bis x1, Panel = Dynamic link x1, Special = HeadsUp, Environ = basic env, basic ls, enhanced ls
Accomm: Crew = 1 (Operator = 1), Seats = cramped x1
Other: Cargo = 0.5 kl, Fuel = 0.72 kl, ObjSize = Small, EMLevel = Faint

-Rognar-

Friday, April 09, 2010

AT-43 - Megatraveller conversion, pt.1

I'm quite interested in utilizing my growing collection of AT-43 miniatures in a role-playing game system. One major stumbling block is statting out the units. To this end, I found myself digging out my old Megatraveller books, since this game has detailed rules for creating vehicles. For my first effort, I have turned my attention to the backbone of the UNA force, the Fire Toad.

I've estimated the overall tech level of the UNA to be TL10. This is significantly below the default TL in the Megatraveller campaign setting, but I think given the absence of grav vehicles, it is appropriate. For the hull, I have the following:

6/14, Disp = 6, Config = 4USL, Armor = 20E

The volume is 81 kl and the weight of the hull is 4.8 tonnes.

So far, so good. Next is power supply, but I have to jump ahead a bit because the Fire Toad is armed with two laser cannons, so I have to know what kind of power requirements are going to be needed. I choose 2 5Mw TL8 beam laser guns to give me the kind of firepower I envision for the Fire Toad. So, getting back to power supply, I add a 6kl TL10 fusion reactor, which provides a total power output of 12Mw, sufficient to fire the guns and run all the other systems the vehicle will require. Locomotion is, of course, two legs and the required suspension and transmission. The power supply and locomotion systems weigh in at a hefty 36.9 tonnes.

For sensors and communications, I include Passive EMS V.Distant (50km) and MaserComm and Radio Regional (500km), respectively. I also install Basic Env, Basic LS and Extended LS.

The Fire Toad seems to be limited to a single crewman, so an onboard computer is clearly required. Without it, one would need a driver/operator, two gunners and a commander. I select a 1/bis system with 13 dynamic-linked control panel units and a heads-up display. I also include electronic circuit protection since it is a military vehicle.

The entire vehicle weighs 51.7 tonnes.

At this point, everything is pretty straightforward, but I'm guessing any of you who are veterans of the Traveller vehicle design procedure may have already noticed where I am about to hit a speed bump (and I mean that literally). When I proceeded to calculate my power-to-weight ratio (P/W), I got:

(12.0 Mw / 51.7 tonnes) x 1000 = 232

A quick look at the speed table will tell you a P/W of 232 results in a top road speed of 276 kph, which seems about an order of magnitude too high for the lumbering Fire Toad. Now, I'm stuck. I can't reduce the power output without greatly reducing the firepower and I can't increase the weight very much since most of the weight is power supply. If I increase its size, I also increase its power output. One possibility is to switch from a fusion to a fission reactor, which has a significantly lower P/W. It is also a much lower TL and takes up a lot more space, so I will have to recalculate everything and watch my hull volume closely. I will post my revised build soon.

-Rognar-

A further thought, perhaps what I have to do is houserule a power management system. After all, the current build assumes the vehicle has all the power it needs to fire all weapons, move at full speed and run all other systems simultaneously. I used to play BattleTech quite a bit. Maybe I will borrow some of that system's ideas on power distribution and management. Perhaps the weapons could be powered by capacitors that have a delayed period of charging before they can be fired.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cthonian Stars, Lovecraft meets Traveller

Coming this summer, from the guys that produce CthulhuTech, Cthonian Stars is Lovecraftian sci-fi using the Traveller game system. This could be interesting, although I confess I find the Traveller system a little bland, with its emphasis on combat avoidance. It may be realistic, but not especially heroic or exciting. Of course, until CthulhuTech came along, rpgs that revolved around the Cthulhu Mythos tended to have a similar emphasis. I suppose my interest in Cthonian Stars will depend largely on how the guys at Wildfire chose to present it. I'm also somewhat hesitant to buy a product published by Mongoose. My first copy of the CthulhuTech core rulebook, an original Mongoose edition, fell to pieces in a matter of hours. I had never seen such a poorly-bound book before. I have heard they have improved their quality since then, but once bitten, twice shy.

-Rognar-

cross-posted at
Roll for Initiative

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Landmaster

Over at EXONAUTS!, Jay has an excellent post about space age vehicles. It got me to thinking about just such a vehicle that is near and dear to my heart...and it's real! I'm talking about the Landmaster from the 1977 post-apocalyptic movie Damnation Alley. Built by Dean Jeffries for a whopping $350,000 US (well over a million in today's dollars), the Landmaster still exists today and is fully functional (except for armaments, I'm sure).

I give you, the Landmaster:




-Rognar-

cross-posted at Roll for Initiative

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Septimus homebrew, pt.4

A large number of planets and moons exist inside the worldsphere in orbital arrangements that point to intelligent, rather than natural, design. Very likely, the aliens that created Septimus also placed the planets inside it. The Archipelago, as this group of worlds is called, has proven to be a refuge for millions of newcomers seeking the avoid the oppressive rule of the Extent. Five major powers have arisen among these worlds.

The Commonwealth of Maximus was created by some of the original Imperial survey teams sent to Septimus once they realized that leaving the worldsphere was impossible. It has quickly grown to become the most powerful stellar nation in the Archipelago, thanks to its technological superiority and its relatively enlightened governance. Although originally established by a group of scientists and explorers, the Commonwealth has reluctantly begun to build its military strength as the threat of war grows.

The Fellowship of the Seventh Proletariat is a collectivist state which seeks to unite miners and other working-class citizens within the Archipelago under its banner. It has wrested several moons from the Commonwealth in the last few years by supporting popular uprisings. Recently, it has engaged in active aggression and piracy against the Commonwealth, even sending in troops to conquer a lightly-populated moon. Although the Commonwealth is reluctant to retaliate in kind for fear that an all-out war in the Archipelago might be the sort of opportunity the Extent is waiting for, most expect any further escalation by the Fellowship will force its hand.

The Cigomi Consortium is the third major player in the Archipelago. It is content to allow the Fellowship and the Commonwealth to fight it out and commonly supplies arms and equipment to both sides. The Consortium does not seek to expand its territory, although it will defend its holdings aggressively. The Commonwealth has good relations with the Consortium, but the Fellowship has designs on several mining worlds within Cigomi space. Only the need for Consortium trade keeps the Fellowship at bay.

The two remaining powers are Sarkis Intertrade PLC, an interplanetary trading company, and The Blackfeet, a criminal organization. Neither maintain extensive planetary holdings, but both have large fleets of ships. The former seeks to control the flow of legal trade goods, while the latter dominates the illicit trade. They are, of course, mutually hostile, although in truth, the Blackfeet have no friends anywhere in the Archipelago.

The campaign begins on Hardpoint, a moon in the Badrigal system. Prior to a recent coup led by forces loyal to the Fellowship, it was a Commonwealth research station and mining operation. The majority of the inhabitants are hostile to the new government, prompting the Fellowship to forceably settle some of its loyal citizens from the homeworld to Hardpoint. The flames of war are about to ignite. Will the PCs provide the spark?

-Rognar-

Monday, February 01, 2010

Septimus Homebrew, pt.3

In order to convert the space opera feel of Septimus into the space horror campaign setting I want it to be, the main change I intend to incorporate is the nature of the Sindavar Extent. The Sindavar Extent or just Extent, as it is commonly referred, started out as a fringe technology cult exploring the edges of the galaxy. Past problems involving artificial intelligence and nanotechnology had resulted in widespread distrust of these technologies and organizations which use them. Since the Extent was just such an organization, most Imperial citizens who were even aware of the group, were generally relieved when they seemingly disappeared about a century ago.

About 10 years ago, an automated signal started broadcasting from the approximate location where the Extent was thought to be headed. It was a short message inviting the people of the galaxy to flee the chaos of the dying Empire and join the Extent in the Septimus worldsphere. It has been repeating constantly since that day. Early colonists who accepted the invitation found Septimus to be a utopia. The capital, Arcopolis, and the other major settlements, known collectively as the Seven Cities, were wonders to behold, although the cloning and nanotech modification practiced by the original inhabitants was difficult for some to accept. Things didn't really start to unravel until the Corruption began. The Extent used alien technology to exert control over ever aspect of life, AIs known as Persona Constructs were enslaved and put to work building the perfect society. But something was wrong. It first started in the cloning clinics. Deformities appeared, clones died. Then the thought control systems began to break down. People began to see the reality of their enslavement. Resistance groups began to spring up. The Extent used harsher and harsher means to exert control. This prompted several groups to cooperate in the execution of Steel Helix, a plan to damage or destroy the central control system of the Persona Constructs. It was a partial success. Though the system was not destroyed, several Personas were freed. The results were catastrophic.

It has been a few years since Steel Helix and there is a sense of a calm before the storm within Septimus. Within the core of Arcopolis, all seems normal. The citizens continue on with their daily lives. Peace has been reestablished and the city has been rebuilt. Beyond the great walls of the arcology, the ruins of the greater metropolis teem with activity as millions scratch out a living among the detritus. Most recent newcomers settle in the Archipelago, a series of planets inside the sphere, where several new stellar nations have risen. Still, no one believes the Extent is beaten. In the days leading up to Steel Extent, many unspeakable atrocities were committed and many technological horrors were unleashed. The Extent demonstrated the extremes to which they were prepared to go to maintain control. Few doubt they would be hesitant to go just as far to regain it.

-Rognar-

Oni Hero Box - Daimyo John Priest

I picked up one of these over the weekend, an early Valentine's Day gift from the Missus. It lends a real Aliens feel to the collection.




-Rognar-

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Therian Baal Golgoth....Damn!

In the words of Capt. Steve Hiller, "I have got to get me one of these!"



-Rognar-

Septimus homebrew, pt.2

The Seventh Empire is dying. After millenia of human expansion throughout the galaxy, the fabric of hyperspace is in tatters. Once routine, interstellar travel has become perilous. The Imperial fleets stay close to their home systems, whole sectors have become isolated from the galactic community, and for many, especially those on marginal worlds greatly dependent on interstellar commerce for their very survival, the only hope is Septimus.

Septimus is a marvel, a Dyson sphere on the very edge of the galaxy, an alien artifact that defies so many fundamental laws of physics, many in the Core Worlds still refuse to believe it to be anything more than a myth. For those who know the truth, however, Septimus is a beacon. So large is the sphere, the entire population of the galaxy could live comfortably inside. Unfortunately for the millions of galactic citizens who have made the dangerous voyage to Septimus, they find themselves trapped inside a cage with a monster. That monster is the Sindavar Extent.

-Rognar-

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Septimus homebrew, pt.1

I am surprised to admit it, but I think I've finally found the space horror campaign setting I need and its name is Septimus...sort of. Here's the thing, the Septimus game setting, as written, is more space opera than space horror. However, with some tweaking, it could easily be worked into the game I'm looking for. It has two things going for it, one crunchy, one fluffy. The crunchy bit is the d6 system. Recall, when I first went all delirious over Fading Suns, it was the d6 system I looked to for my conversion. I still think d6 is the best for gritty, realistic sci-fi. You don't want high-level d20 demigods stomping around in your space horror sandbox, routinely beating the snot out of your "Horrors-from-Beyond-the-Stars". There has to be real fear there to make it work.

The fluffy bit is that Septimus (the place) is a prison, a very large prison to be sure, but a prison nonetheless. Anything going in is not getting out. Therefore, to really scare the pants off the players, you can trap them inside with something big and bad. Combined with the technological horrors being unleashed by the Extent as it thrashes around in the aftermath of Steel Helix and you have all the ingredients for a pretty intense space horror campaign. Septimus is a big enough sandbox such that you can run for awhile, but ultimately, there's no place to hide.

-Rognar-

Further note: Septimus and AT-43, beautiful synergy there.

Friday, January 08, 2010

AT-43-inspired campaign

It seems I am constantly struggling to find the space horror campaign setting that really gets my creative juices flowing. I quite like the Fading Suns campaign setting, but I don't like the game system and the d20 conversion felt haphazard and amateurish to me. CthulhuTech and Eclipse Phase are both excellent settings, but the game system for the former is a bit gimmicky and the latter is overwhelming in its sheer size and grandeur. In any case, I really love to use miniatures in my games and none of these game settings has a dedicated minis line to accompany it.

So, I come to AT-43.




Suddenly, I'm feeling inspired again.

-Rognar-