Category Archives: Science Fiction

Review – Day Trippers Game Masters Guide

This is a follow up post to my review of the Day Tripper’s Core Rules.

I was invited to review the entire system after my review of the Planet Generator guide. There are two other generators for Locations and Lifeforms from the GM Guide that are available on DTRPG/RPGNow. If you have the GM Guide, you don’t need to purchase these stand alone generators. My review of the GM Guide will be much shorter than the review of the Core Rules. I’m sure many will appreciate that.

Setting The Tone:

The GM Guide begins with a discussions of surreal and surrealism, and then goes into a discussion of it in science fiction and then RPGs. This might be eye glazing fodder for some. While a good presentation of the subject, I am not entirely sure it is warranted. We know that dreams and the chao are possible slip types, so many may find it a long winded way to say “weird”.

“Appendix N” Material:

There is a long list of resources for inspiration. The selection deals with “alternate realities, multiple dimensions, subjective worlds, bizarre lifeforms, surreal space adventures, and time travel.

This list is limited to one page and helps give flavor. There are things I’ve never read, some I have heard of. Thanks for making my read/watch list longer. There aren’t enough hours in the day to read all that I want to read, or watch all that I want to watch. (I’m the only with that problem, right?)

Other movies/TV shows I thought of are “The Fly” (original or remake), “Incredible Shrinking Man/Woman”, “InnerSpace”, adn TV shows: “Seven Days”, “Land of the Giants”, “Lost In Space”, and many others. As with other RPGs, almost anything can be an inspiration, even your weird dreams.

Details:

As expected, the GM Guide fleshes out things from the Core Rules. For example, NPCs get a whole page here instead of a paragraph in the Core Rules.

There are examples of how play proceeds, and 16 pages at the end that walk through generating your own adventure using the generators and forms provided.

Generators:

56 of the 120 pages are dedicated to 12 generators: Missions, Stars, Planets, Locations, Lifeforms, Societies, Drama, Character, Alternate Earth, Dream World, Multiversal Chao, and Time Travel.

Most, if not all of these generators can be used in other RPGs of any genre. As with all generators used in prepping to play, they are suggestive, and are a means to help you think of things to mix it up so each adventure is different.

You already know what I think about the planet generator.

The cool thing about these generators is how flexible they are. Many of them require two rolls, one using 1 to 3 d6’s to determine the general nature of the particular table, and another d6 for the sub-item in that category on the chart.

The parallel earth generator walks you figuring out what is different and when it happened, and how likely the characters are to figure it out, or how they might figure it out.

Page 88 has a cool flow chart to determine when to use a given generator in the course of developing a mission.

Questions:

From my review of the Core Rules, there are two questions for which I was looking for answers in the GM Guide:

  1. What happens to players that fail to return in 24 hours?
    Here’s a link to a G+ thread where my review is highlighted by the game developer. He mentions that the results of exceeding 24 hours is meant to be determined by each GM. In his game it creates an alternate reality, and they are “gone” from the original. What happens if a player isn’t there that session? The party would be split up.
    Rescue missions are discussed and they involve time travel to go to where the lost people are and insert them into the time stream in this reality a moment before the rescue ship leaves. It also mentions changed time lines/new alternate universes created, etc.
  2. Are the action/combat charts in one handy section of the GM Guide
    The charts are not in one location in the GM guide. I did find on the DayTrippers website that they have a GM screen.

Free PDFs – Follow Up:

All the forms that are available for free on DTRPG/RPGNow that I mentioned in my Core Rules review are in the GM Guide. However, the players hand out is not. I would recommend it be in the PDF so that the GM has everything in one place. The Traveller conversion PDF is not in there either, but that is not critical in my mind, since it is a special case for a single game.

In addition to including the free PDFs there is an Adventure Sketch Sheet to hold the bare facts about an adventure.

What I Like:

All the awesome generators! These generators do a great job of giving ideas, and would be helpful for developing one’s own generators, perhaps with more options.

There are 6 sample missions, examples of NPCs, a walk through of building a mission, all designed to help the GM prepare for game play, or figure it out on the fly.

The sandbox style of play is promoted by suggesting preparing outlines of missions, since the idea is that characters and other NPC’s are in the business of doing missions. Also developing NPC’s ahead of time for use as needed. The nice thing about he majority of NPC’s is that they have stats of 1, so you don’t need to write down all their stats, just the ones that are not one.

In addition to the generators, there are drama templates that guide the GM in preparing the mission/adventure. These templates include what kind of locations, gear, and NPC’s are needed to help you cover all the bases. This would be a handy tool for those new to running games. My only caution is to avoid a railroad, just as these rules do.

The advice in the GM Guide is if the players don’t notice your clues or pick up on them, it is a sign that you are doing it wrong. That is, you need to describe them better, give them an idea of why they should notice them, etc.

What I’d Like to See:

The only thing I can think to add, is that all RPG’s should have a section to clarify what types of dice they require. In the Core Rules 1 or more d6’s are mentioned. However, on page 35 of the GM Guide for node type determination, it mentions the possibility of using 2d4. I am OK with that, but this is the only place in both manuals that I am aware of that mentions anything besides using d6’s. As with most players of RPG’s I have dice to cover almost any situation, and even dice for which I don’t have the particular RPG they go with, but have them anyway. Since it is only in the GM Guide, it won’t impact players, but a heads up before then for this one-time suggestion for a scenario to use d4’s would be helpful.

Conclusion:

I’d buy this just for the generators. $12 for 12 generators is a good price if you are looking for that sort of thing.

I could run this game. I would want to play a game as a player first, or watch it played (see YouTube Video below). I’ll watch these videos later.

The mechanics are interesting and simple. There’s no guess work or fumbling with the manuals to see if you hit/succeeded. Until you get the hang of it, you might want the suggested results when something more than straight up success or failure happens. You’ll need the Core Rules handy for that.

The GM Guide is$12 on DTRGP/RPGNow.

There is also a GM Bundle that includes the GM Guide and the Core Rules for $25.98 (save $5 from purchasing individually) at DTRPG/RPGNow.

So far, there are two modules for DayTrippers available on DTRPG/RPGNow. I have not read them, so don’t know specifics. One of them is refenced in the GM Guide to illustrate the use of the Runsheet.

DayTrippers has its own website with other PDFs and forums.

I found two YouTube videos on topic. One is an interview with Tod Foley at Legends of Tabletop, and the other is actual play GMed by Tod Foley. I plan to watch them later.

 

 

Review – Day Trippers Core Rules

I did a review of the Day Trippers Planet Generator back in May. The author contacted me to review the Core Rules and Game Masters Guide.

I was interested to see what Day Trippers was, and why the name. Before I could get the time to read what I had downloaded, I saw that others had posted their own reviews of Day Trippers, so I made sure to avoid reading them until I had a chance to see it for myself. I read and reviewed the Core Rules before this review. This should help me understand how the players see the game, verses the “inside information” in the GM Guide.

I was concerned about how long it would take me to get through the books, but the Core Rules is only 44 pages. I got through half of it in one sitting. The other half I finished in another sitting.

I went in-depth in this review, far different from how I would review a movie. This should give you an understanding/feel of the game and creating characters and resolving actions.

The layout is clean and it is easy to read on my tablet. It has good art, and no typos or grammar errors that I noticed. The Table of Contents is hyperlinked. The index is not hyperlinked. This is not an issue, I am not aware of any index that is hyperlinked. The Table of Contents does not include the character sheet and ship sheet on the last two pages of the PDF. The rules are Creative Commons 3.0 UNPORTED LICENSE (CC BY 3.0). THEY ARE OWNED BY EVERYONE AND NO ONE. HTTP://CREATIVECOMMONS.ORG/LICENSES/BY/3.0/

It starts with a story to set the history and tone. It’s the campaign world setting. It was interesting and let me in on the origin of this concept in the mind of the game creator. As with any “default” campaign setting, it is up to the user to use it or not. In short, crazy super genius invents method to travel between dimensions. Once he proves it, other individuals, corporations, and governments get involved. There are locations that others find and keep a secret to use to their own advantage, in addition to well-know places, and places as yet undiscovered.

The premise behind the game is slipping between dimensions, different realities, planets, etc. It reminds me of the times older episodes of Dr. Who (AKA Tom Baker) moved sideways to other realities in the TARDIS rather than through normal time and space. I also was reminded of the TV show Sliders, although I think I only ever caught one episode of that show. It also reminds me a bit of the TV show 7 Days where they could only travel back in time seven days.

What I find hilarious in the backstory for how such travel was discovered, the acronym for the first device in my mind is TRAP, although it is referred to as TRA Pod in the text.  I then imagined Admiral Akbar, “It’s a TRAP!” I often come up with weird acronyms others didn’t intend.

There are terms used in the rules, Slip Space for the space/stuff traversed between starting point and destination, and Slip Pods for the devices that carry people through Slip Space.

There are five variations on slip travel, called Slips: Cartesian, Temporal, Para Terran, Subjective, Compound

  • Travel across the universe in this home reality. That is travel to other planets. (Cartesian)
  • Alternate Earths/Parallel Universes (Para Terran)
  • Time Travel, but limited to the time line of Earth 1. (Temporal)
  • Dream Worlds (Subjective)
  • The Multiversal Chao (Compound Slips – Which is a combination of two or more other kinds of slips.)

One Slips into one of 6 Nodes: Known Planets, Unknown Planets, Time Travels, Alternate Earths, Dream Worlds, and The Multiversal Chao. Dreams reminds me of the movie Inception, or places where stories are real. There is more than one story I am aware of about the characters and places in fiction are real. With all of these possibilities, there is no shortage of potential adventures. One can do any genre with these rules: science fiction, steam punk, western, spy, gangsters, fantasy, suspense, horror, sword & planet, etc.

The origin of the title of the game, Day Trippers, is that one is limited to 24 hours for the maximum length of time one can stay in their destination. If one does not return in that time, they cease to exist in the originating point. My question is, if they stay in this dimension/universe/timeline, that would mean they cease to exist, but does that mean they are trapped in different dimensions/realities if they fail to return? This is not clear to me in the Core Rules. As I read it, I would rule they are trapped in that other dimension. I will look to see if this is clarified in the GM Guide.

Character generation is a point buy. Each character begins with 100 CP (Character Points) to spend building characters. An interesting concept is that these CP can be saved and used during play for Progressive Character Building. CP are used to generate the stats for players, buy skill levels, and purchase equipment, just like using money.

There are ten classes: Amateur Explorer, Gonzo Writer, Grad Student, Politican/Nobility, Special Forces, Celebrity/Entertainer, Government Agent, Scientist, Soldier, Tourist.

There are six stats (ability) scores: Brains, Charm, Grace, Health, Might, Psyche.

The interesting thing about ability scores is that they all start with one and then CP can be used to bump them up to a maximum of six. The number one through six represents the number of d6’s to roll for each challenge/impediment one faces in the game. To bump a score from 1 to 2 only costs 5 CP, but adding more increases the cost. To bump the score of a starting stat to 5 costs 100 CP and 6 costs 200 CP.

CP is equal to one unit of currency, called a Mega, which equals one million dollars. One can go into debt to build and equip a starting character. The debt has to be paid at one mega a month. Experience Points, XP, can be used to improve one’s character or pay off debt. The equivalence of each CP/Mega/XP makes it easy to figure out and track.

The Total Character Value (TCV) is the sum of CP and XP spent to develop your character. This would be analogous to level in other games. Similarly, Potential is the sum of unspent CP and XP.

There is a list of skills that have a note of one or two stats that apply to their use. Some skills assume the presence of a kit, for example a doctor has a bag, a technician has a tool kit, etc. New skills can be added with GM agreement, and must specify one or two applicable stats for their use. Skills also go from 1-6.

Classes can also be used to boost stats and skills before adventuring begins. Stats and skills get boosted by one and debt is increased.

Crew is the name for NPCs, they have 1 in all stats and cost one Mega or CP for a year of service. Additional stats, skills, and gear can be purchased for them as with characters. “[T]hey are assumed to have an unglamorous but serviceable place to live.” This same assumption is made for characters.

Rank applies to those from military, political, or secret careers, also from 1-6. My only issue with the rank, is for military, it used army/air force/marine ranks for levels 1-5, and level 6 is admiral, a navy rank. An admiral of the same number of stars is equivalent rank to a general of the same number of stars, so I would change level 5 to colonel and make level 6 general. If you want navy ranks list them. Keep in mind that a navy captain is equal to an army colonel.

Retired rank translates to last rank-1 for resolving actions.

Fame is a stat that indicates how well known a character is and there are benefits from the level of fame from 1-6. One has to make an effort to maintain their level of fame, either by spending megas or doing something to stay in the public eye. It boosts charm rolls.

Debts can be to legitimate sources like banks, or loan sharks. The difference is in how they handle late payments. Such as, legal action vs. broken legs. Not paying debts on time can lower one’s fame.

Life Shaping is done via events that shape the life of a character. These events can be presented before or during play, or even between sessions. LifeShapers can be used to deal with problems, with a reasonable explanation. There are twelve slots available for LifeShapers, so one can only add so many.

Gear ranges from 0-6, with 0 being standard items that add no bonus to actions. Gear with levels 1-6 are increasingly more expensive and add plusses to rolls.

There is a list of sample characters provided that can be used to get players started, or be used for one shot adventures, etc.

Action resolution begins with difficulty levels from 1-10, 1 being a no-brainer to a 10 being insane. Any difficulty of 7 or higher is impossible without leveled skills and/or gear, since the max stat is 6. You roll the number of dice equal to the appropriate skill and keep the highest. This just improves your odds of rolling a 6.

After the roll is determined, the appropriate/applicable skill, gear, rank, and fame are added.

Actions can be unopposed or opposed. Unopposed is more direct. With an opposed action the “defender” also rolls.

There are five possibilities for all results:

  • Miss by more than 1       No, AND (something negative happens)
  • Miss by 1                               NO, BUT (something positive happens)
  • Hit Exactly                            YES, BUT (something negative happens)
  • Exceed by 1                          YES (Nailed it precisely)
  • Exceed by more than 1  YES, AND (something positive happens)

This makes it easy to determine the “flavor” of successes and failures. For example, taking out the guard in one strike, but he makes a noise that alerts other guard(s).

Combat works similarly to actions, but level of armor and weapons play into it.

Other players can help the character performing an action, such as opening doors. The helper makes a roll, but helping could be not helping. How many movies, TV shows, or real life situations have you seen where someone says, “Please stop helping!”?

Damage reduces stats by one, and since they are in alphabetical order, you work your way down the list. If there is multiple damage in one action, take one from the first stat, one from the next and so on. When a stat hits 0 you are stunned, when 3 stats hit 0, you are dead.

There are no luck points to burn to avoid a bad situation. It is all up to the player(s) using their wits to make their current mix of stats, skills, and gear work to their advantage. Being able to come up with a plausible reason why a certain stat or skill applies in a given situation is key.

Healing is likewise simple, if only one stat is down a single point, three days of rest. More than that takes longer rest, involves hospitals, doctors, spending Megas, and possible devices found in one’s travels. Healing heals one point in each stat in alphabetical order.

An exception to healing is damage to the Psyche, which requires therapy and/or medication and can take months or years. It requires a level 5 difficulty roll to heal psyche after each month of rest. This is an interesting idea for the horror/Cthulhu type genre where one can regain sanity.

Vehicle actions are resolved similarly to other actions and combat. The appropriate stat,  skill and their levels, plus the level of the vehicle are added to the roll.

The vehicle combat table has the same five levels as other actions, but the results are specific to vehicles, like one hit on a vehicle and a critical strike, or vehicle escapes.

Vector Slipping is the action of using a Slip Ship to Slip into one of the 6 nodes. The action roll for this again has 5 possible outcomes. One knows by the result of the roll how well it succeeded or failed, and possible complications, but the details require looking at the chart. (I hope to find pages of all these charts in one place in the GM guide.)

The stuff between here and there is deadly, not only does it require a Slip Ship, but it also requires a Survival Suit. Both must remain intact to protect the user from the catastrophic and get you back to your origination point.

There is a discussion of the use and consequences of damage to the survival suit.

There is an explanation of the construction of a slip ship, from carrying capacity in crew, to core ship components, to amenities and even weapons. Each piece has a level, higher being more expensive. There is a list of sample ships and their cost to give you an idea. Ships can be owned by a player, in massive debt, a group, or a benefactor/sponsor.

There are six types of missions, seven if a mission mixes two or more types: Exploration, Emergency/Rescue, Sightseeing, Surveying/Fact-Finding, Acquisition/Trade, Politics/Diplomacy.

There is an explanation of how to build a mission and quantify it.

The rules end with a brief discussion and charts for conversion to and from four other systems: PbtA (Powered by the Apocalypse) – [I had to google for that acronym.), d20, 1-20, and 1-100. This makes it easy to port other systems, such as clones like White Box, or specifically White Star to use this game.

After the credits and a one page index, is a one page character sheet, and a one page ship sheet.

This gives players and GM the bare bones to play this game.

I have left out that this is a story style game. I don’t have experience running or playing story style games, so I can’t comment on that other than this impression. It reminds me of what I have read about Fate, and observed in people playing Fate. I can see the appeal of the collaborative effort of building a story together. To me this type of game play being fun would depend on the right mix of people and how narrowly or broadly they adhered to the role playing aspect of it. If the point is to get together and have fun with the rules as a guiding framework, I could have fun. If the point is to adhere to strict interpretations of the rules and strictly stay in character during game play, I might not have fun. I think this is true of any RPG.

In short, with the right mix of people, I might enjoy story style games.

Speaking specifically about Day Trippers, I see many interesting things, like the point buy character generation. One could have a super genius that isn’t much good for the charm or physical, a tough brute short on brains, a beauty/charmer, or an average person. By eliminating rolls for stats, one has flexibility to play the kind of character they want. I think this would appeal to those who feel that scores are more important than how one plays and has fun with it.

One does not have to play the game as a strict story game. I’m all for use the rules you want.

I think there are some interesting ideas here. Personally, I don’t think I’ll find a group that will play this game, but I definitely see some interesting ideas, that like many games, I can use for my own creations in the various genres of RPG that I play and run.

The rules are $5 at DriveThru/RPGNow, so it is inexpensive if you want to have a look for yourself. There are also free PDFs of things that are not in the Core Rules, in addition to the character sheet and ship sheet at the back of the Core Rules.

  • DayTrippers Mission RunSheet – A one page PDF for developing a mission or adventure. Not form fillable.
  • DayTrippers Player Handout – This is a very helpful one page summary to explain to the player how the game works. It is not part of the Core Rules.
  • DayTrippers Lifeform Sheet – This one page PDF has fields to describe various life forms and they use the same six stats as characters. The life form could be anything from a “monster”, or animal, to a sentient being. Not form fillable.
  • DayTrippers Planet Sheet – This one page PDF holds the information on a planet and two locations, and has a world map on the bottom of the page. It is not form fillabe.
  • DayTrippers PC Tracking Sheet – This one page PDF allows a GM to track 4 characters. It is not form fillable.
  • Converting from Traveller – This one page PDF goes into depth about converting characters to DayTrippers from Traveller. This is more involved than the bit in the Core Rules.

Registered For UCon

Registration opened yesterday for UCon. It was a crazy busy day at work, so I wasn’t able to finish my registration until later. I was both worried and excited that the games I wanted to play might be sold out.

I am also running one session of Metamorphosis Alpha Saturday morning. I had reviewed my entry and asked for a clarification that it is 1st edition, since someone PM’d me about it. I have run two play tests of it via Roll20 & Google Hangouts. I just need to write up all my notes, and we should be ready for mayhem!

I then noticed that +Tim Snider’s Thundarr scenario for Mutant Future was at the same time as my MA game. (Have you ever felt like Charlie Brown when Lucy pulls the football away? Except this time, Charlie Brown managed to pull it away…. AUGGHH!!)  I messaged Tim since I could not find the time it was set for at Con On The Cob. I realized that I had not yet registered for it, and it’s only a few weeks away. Sad news for me, Tim’s only running it at UCon. My bad for not thinking to check.

Here’s my schedule copied and pasted from my registration email. they have my PayPal payment, so I should be all set. I added a note of who is running which games with their G+ page linked.

I’m looking forward to a good time!

  • FRI 9a – Dungeon Crawl Classics: Skymasters of the Puple Planey (4615, 4615) ($3.00 x1) $3.00 – Jim Wampler (I look forward to meeting Jim.)
  • FRI 1p – Dungeon Crawl Classics: Halls of the Minotaur (4592, 4592) ($3.00 x1) $3.00 – Laura Rose Williams (Her first time to GM at a con! Go Meat Dwarf! Also the first RPG for which I have had a woman GM.)
  • FRI 6p – OSR Discussion Panel: Old School City Scapes Roundtable Panel (4641, 4641) ($0.00 x1) $0.00
  • FRI 8p – Swords & Wizardry : Swords and Wizardry Invades Michigan–The Maze of Eternity (4859, 4859) ($4.50 x1) $4.50 – Bill Webb (My first time to play Swords & Wizardry, but it is so close to the original RPG. I look forward to meeting Bill.)
  • SAT 9a – Metamorphosis Alpha 1st ed. – Red Shirt Metamorphosis (4788) – Yours Truly
  • SAT 2p – Cryptworld: Wasted (4671, 4671) ($3.00 x1) $3.00 – +Tim Snyder (My first time to play Cryptworld.)
  • SAT 8p – Warriors of the Red Planet: Princess Zira & the Jungle Ruins (4469, 4469) ($3.00 x1) $3.00 – Brett Slocum (My first time to play Tekumal. I look forward to meeting  Brett.)
  • SUN 2p – Delving Deeper: In Search of the Unknowable (4445, 4445) ($3.00 x1) $3.00 – Adam Muszkiewicz (My first time to play Delving Deeper, but it is so close to the original OD&D, which I technically never played, the closest was Blue Box Basic.)

They finally sent out surveys about the Epsilon City Kickstarter add-ons. As I read the email explaining it, I take it that they will ship the things already in stock separately. So maybe I will have some of this stuff in time for UCon….

I’m getting the softcover of the MA Collector’s Edition, the poster sized deck plan, and Robots Among Us. Wish I could afford more.

#WardenCrew

Prepping and Running Games Saves Money

I have found that in the last few weeks as I prepare a Metamorphosis Alpha scenario to run at UCon, play test it online with two different groups, and end up with a weekly Saturday game and bi-weekly Sunday game, I don’t have as much time to read and browse forums and find more goodies to spend my money.

This is good. I’m not broke, and I’m not poor, I just prefer to pay cash for things, and I already have multiple game systems to choose from. Both the books and manuals I have, and many different PDFs. While I like collecting lots of different ideas for tables and how others do things, in the end, if all one does is collect bits and bobs and never runs a game, what’s the point? {I’m also going to attend ConOnTheCob in October, UCon in November, the company holiday party is in Orlando, FL in December – I finally get to go to Disney World!, Marmalade Dog in February, GaryCon in March, etc.]

Other than helping out the creators when I buy things, if I’m not running at least one game of one of the rules I already have, I’m not doing the one thing I have written so often that I want to do.

I struggle with having “enough” prepared to be comfortable. the key for me is determining what is the right “enough” to have. It doesn’t matter the game system.

By jumping in and running Metamorphosis Alpha and having a regular commitment to keep running it, my outlook has changed. The task seems much less daunting, and the myriad of excuses of why I’m not ready yet fade away.

My in person AD&D campaign with my oldest son and his girlfriend faded away when they moved in with me in the months before my granddaughter was born. Preparations for parenthood, and figuring out their new family dynamics have put that on the back burner. Thus the desire to move that campaign online and get it going that way. Starting up with a new group of people do not guarantee they would make the same choices and check out the same things as my face to face players. Once I get a bit more done with my MA online game(s), I will do more to get my AD&D game going online.

This doesn’t mean no preparation, and no ideas for suggestions for players, etc. There needs to be enough of a framework that it holds together. What this looks like will change and adapt, or it should, once players start interacting with the world. I have lots of ideas, but it is what the players do with my descriptions and starting conditions that is interesting. Watching players interact with the world I have presented and seeing them debate and struggle over courses of action, or regret actions taken, just makes the whole thing come alive. This is cooperative play/storytelling at its finest!

So I have dug in and started using all the pads, pens, dice, books, and miscellaneous notes I have gathered. The results are encouraging, and I find that I want more! I have enough ideas to keep things rolling, and the players have their own ideas, so I don’t see burnout with roleplaying as an issue. Burnout is only a threat based on how crazy busy work gets in December and January. [Oh the “joys” of being a support analyst for payroll and accounting software at year end/W-2 time, plus a new set of forms this year for the ACA.]

I don’t plan on participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I still need to write the last few chapters of my novel, so I can start on the second draft/revisions. I know I can do it, since I have over 60,000 words that I wrote last year in November. It’s just a matter of sitting down and doing the work. Like most things in life, the ad slogan, “Just Do It.” fits so well.

I have a lot of different irons in the fire, and without the distraction of all the different TV shows I watched last Fall, Winter, and Spring, I have gotten more done. It’s all about priorities, and making a decision to act on them, and following through.

Well, that’s enough stream of consciousness for now. I think I’ve convinced myself that I can do the running of games online, and that I can handle as much as I want to handle, with all the irons I have elected to have in so many fires. I can save up shows to binge watch on long weekends, or not worry about them at all. I can put as much effort into game preparation as I want, but choose to focus only on preparation that makes the most sense and has the best chance of being used in play. I can also deal with various projects around my 95 year old house, as well as down-sizing a bunch of non-gaming stuff. I like the idea of a simple life and being able to live out of a van. But I’d need most of a semi-trailer right now. My goal is to go through all my stuff and pare it down now, so in X years, when I’m gone, my sons won’t have to deal with it. I like my stuff, but gadgets and things become obsolete or lose their appeal.

NOTE: I wrote this late at night, and made one pass at it, and it shows in all my rambling and additional topics. I’m not going to go back and fix it. My point is in here. Find it if you can. LOL!

P.S. Don’t forget to talk like a pirate today, ye scurvy dogs!

White Star Came Yesterday

My hardcover and softcover copies of White Star came in the mail yesterday. I had time to take the pictures, but not time to write this blog post until today.

CAM00956

For some reason, I imagined that the books were bigger from the other pictures. Then I realized they did not show scale.

Here are some pictures for scale with Delving Deeper, the White Box Omnibus, and the 1st edition Monster Manual II. My White Box Omnibus softcover is about 1/8″ taller than my White Star soft cover.

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A better representation of scale.
CAM00958
At this angle the WBO is hiding the hard cover.

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Metamorphosis Alpha at UCon

I just submitted an event to run a session of Metamorphosis Alpha at UCon in November.

If you don’t plan to attend UCon, I am trying to get some play testers to make sure my planned content flows and that there is enough to fill four hours. I have a game scheduled for Friday, September 11, from 7:00 PM – Midnight Eastern. I use Roll20 and Google Hangouts. If possible, I would like to set a time to get characters created before then.

If you are interested in playing Friday, let me know, and I will send you an invite to the Hangout and the Roll20 campaign. I have one player lined up for Friday, and others who previously indicated interest. I need 5 more players, and can run it with two or more, but more is better.

With sufficient interest, I can run it again on Saturday. I will have room for six players.

My plan is to make this a regular campaign, but the more immediate need is to play test this scenario. I haven’t ran Metamorphosis Alpha or played it in over 30 years, so I need just a bit of a refresher before attempting this at a con.

The Graveyard At Lus – Review

+Jason Paul McCartan, AKA The Badger, and editor/layout guru for White Star, has a new supplement for it – The Graveyard at Lus, just $4.99.

This interesting supplement is a way to generate an area of space that is a spaceship graveyard due to combat.

Developing the graveyard can be as simple as rolling up opposing forces and determining winners, etc. and which ships were left behind, due to being disabled or destroyed.

Degrees of damage and destruction can be determined and potential survivors or the presence of other scavengers, or the arrival of various others.

This booklet reads like the combat ended not long ago, and looters, rescue teams and others are just now showing up. It is a trivial matter to come up with an age of the graveyard, resent or years, decades, centuries, millenia, or eons old.

What I liked:

  • If you buy the PDF and want the POD, when it is available, the cost of the PDF is knocked off the top!
  • I like this idea. It is a simple plug and play add on that the GM can use in whole or in part. Ideas and options are presented that I had not thought of, and I like that!
    • I like things that get me to coming up with my own ideas.
  • He presents two options for combat, cinematic and realistic, depending on how much time you have or how much crunch you want in it. This idea of a mini game is quite interesting. (For example, I could get out my copy of Imperium and use the chits for ships to keep track of it all.)
  • I assume by app he means something for a cellphone or tablet, and not a webapp, but that isn’t clear. An app to do all this generation is in the works.
  • New races, new creatures, and some tweaks to existing races from White Star.
  • This idea of a ship graveyard could easily be applied to an aquatic navy, or even a battlefield. This would cross genres from ancient to modern, from steam punk to fantasy.
  • The final section is running the scenario to build the Graveyard at Lus for your own use. The reader is walked through how to do it.

What I didn’t like:

  • A few typos, grammar, spelling errors and an awkward sentence that slowed me down while I figured it out. I am sure if I put something like this together I would have the same issue. A reminder for us all to get another set of eyes on these things. I probably didn’t catch all of them in this post.
  • I can’t think of anything else I didn’t like, other than, I wish I’d thought of this!
  • I don’t have time to step through this right now.

What I’d like to see:

  • A few pages of the collected tables in one place with reference back to the page numbers of details. There are several steps involved in this method, and having all the tables in one location would speed things up.
    • It is easy enough withe the PDF to make your own collected tables.
  • A page or two in the PDF with chits with his proposed ship outlines that we could print out. I’d be good with just outlines that I could color in by hand, since I don’t use a color printer. Those who can afford colored ink may want them in full color.
  • Why is there a graveyard here? War, border skirmish, race to control a resource, such as a strategic planet, alien artifact, natural jump gate, etc.
  • Other reasons for there to be a graveyard besides combat. Ancient technology, mysterious space anomaly, etc.

I can see using this at my table for more than just White Star.

 

 

Cell Phones – Handheld Communicator And Computer

I was struggling with a topic for an article, and was about to give up and end my streak of a post a day back to the end of January. Then I had a message indicator on my cellphone, and it hit me.

We have such small devices that handle all forms of communication: two way (calls, texting, email), and one way (received: emailed receipts, bill reminders, entertainment & sent: payments, notes/lists/reminders). Some phones have gone for bigger screens with higher resolutions for better experience, two cameras, motion sensors, GPS, etc.

If one does no have a cell phone in today’s world, good luck finding a pay phone. The only place I see pay phones now are in airports, and they take credit cards.

For a science fiction setting, one can imagine a computer as powerful or more so than today’s desktops, in the palm of your hand. The display will be holographic, so the size of the screen is variable. As dense as memory is getting, what limits will one have on a hand held computer/communicator?

Encyclopedic knowledge will be available, for topics that are in the system. Landing on a backwater or uncharted planet will present a world of unknown factors. Other than being able to check the atmosphere, and scan air, water, and potential food for pathogens/compatibility, how would this device help you?

Is it able to communicate to orbit? Can it make interplanetary calls, or signal ships passing through the system? How does GPS help when there are no GPS sattellites? Is there a star-faring version of GPS and do the general civilian devices have access, or does it require a separate device?

Would a general purpose device be capable of basic first aid, or contain the ability to guide the user in basic first aid, or perhaps something more advanced?

How tough/resilient would such a device be? I dropped a cellphone out of my pocket onto a cast iron floor vent in my house (It was built in 1920.) and it cracked diagonally across the screen. Touch screens don’t work so good, or at all when that happens. How far of a drop would it take to damage it? What water depth can it reach and for how long before it is compromised? What about the vacuum of space? There are also radiation, concussions from explosions, shrapnel from explosions, or projectiles from weapons.

Like today, there would be various levels of such devices, from cheap burners with an older interface. Now, burners tend to have actual buttons, but some small touch screens have appeared. In the future, an old interface might be a touch screen that require physical contact, and not have a holographic screen. They are severely limited in how much you can put on them. These are not as well made and would survive only so many hardships of daily use. How often do you have a player roll to see if their communicator survives a crash or fall, or fight?

Next would be the standard comm-puters that can handle more drops, but have a limit. My youngest son can still manage to crack a cellphone screen in less than a day. I’m glad I’m not responsible for his phone anymore.

Premium devices would be made of sturdier and more expensive stuff. Advertising how long they can stay in vacuum, and how long they can last at 100 meters, or some such.

At the pinnacle would be government/military grade devices that are resistant to a variety of abuses and resistant to cracking, i.e. “black hat hacking”.

How long does the battery last? A day, a week, a month, longer?

Instead of earbuds on a wire, there would be a vibration pad or pads you stick to your head behind your ears. Voice activation and voice recognition would be the norm. Minimal contact with the device would be needed. Placing it in your pocket or a shoulder bag and placing it for use of the holographic display could be the only times one touches such a device.

The device could be so small that the device(s) behind your ear(s) IS the comm-puter. Some societies might advocate implanting the device, especially so the government can keep an eye on you, “to keep you safe”. What if some nefarious organization or person cracks the system and uses it for mind control of the populace?

Take what we know of the current direction of technology and extrapolate it for a futuristic RPG. It gets smaller, more powerful, and more ubiquitous. It could end in nanobots that reside along the optic and auditory nerves and send signals straight to the brain. A display would be limited to the person, but could be shared with others within a certain range.

A fun thought experiment that have given me several more ideas, if I ever get things together for a science fiction campaign, either White Star or Metamorphosis Alpha.

Pluto & New Horizons

The New Horizons probe does its flyby of Pluto today.

This is a big deal, technology and a sense of adventure all in one.

I am old enough that I remember knowing about the nine planets, when Pluto was still a planet, and how many moons Jupiter and Saturn had. Voyager 1 and 2 changed the count of the moons, as did subsequent probes, The count of moons around other planets has changed so much, I can’t remember the number of moons I had memorized way back when. It is that realization as a kid that we don’t know it all that grabbed my attention.

A solar system is so huge that it is easy for exploration and travel to reveal new features all the time. Even if everything in a system was mapped, interstellar bodies could be captured, or pass through a system.

If one planned a science fiction campaign limited to one system, there would be plenty of locations for the action.

Dirk Derringer And The Hartufan Plot

+Matt Jackson has quite the writing talent and is generating a Science Fiction pulp serial, with an obvious White Star influence. He is publishing it both on his blog and a site called Wattpad.

I am honored that my encouragement to write more has helped him to come up with more ideas.

My recommendation is to go read this serial!

He can write and make cool maps!