Category Archives: Swords & Wizardry

The New Cover for the Latest Revision to Swords & Wizardry

Yes, I’m making a post. I wrote it a couple weeks ago, and just decided to post it. Real life has been interesting the past several weeks. My hopes of starting up some new in person games have been put on hold until things settle down.

+Stacy Dellorfano, the editor of the latest revision to Swords & Wizardry showed off the new cover the other day. I saw it as a bit of a tease and to show that the project is progressing. That’s how you build up excitement for a project and upcoming Kickstarter, set to start some time after GenCon.

The reaction to the cover was either, “I love it”, or “I hate it”, with some going so far to say it ruined it for them. I’ve read too many comments both ways. This is the whole redundant argument about “bad wrong fun”, “the world must see things my way and do them my way”, and all kinds of other ridiculousness.

What many fail to understand it that this image is art. Like all art it is subjective. We have an immediate visceral reaction to art and we either like it or we don’t. When one person says they like something and another says they don’t, they are both right. However, when they go on to say that everyone else should like what they like or not like what they don’t like, that is a problem. We each have our opinion, but too many of the don’t like say that this doesn’t say S&W/RPG to them, so no one should buy it, or support the Kickstarter.

I am just baffled by this.

I am not a fan of heavy metal music, yet I don’t care that to many of my generation and after, heavy metal was what they listened to when they started playing and it fits them and their personality.

I am a fan of classical music and the themes of fantasy, science fiction, and other genres of movies and TV shows.  My gaming circle had mix tapes with all kinds of music from Star Wars, Star Trek, Lost in Space, and more. There’s nothing like the “planet eater” theme (used for other tense moments) from Star Trek TOS when you are in a tense moment. The Imperial March when a big bad shows up. Or Mars from The Planets by Holst. It was so funny that the ebb and flow of the game synced with the music many times. It enhanced the moment. Just as my preference for instrumental music while playing RPG’s others want heavy metal.

I have played with many in cons that are very vocal about their love of heavy metal. It’s just a part of who they are. Many of them have an eclectic taste in music. It is the same with art. I can appreciate a particular piece, even if I don’t like it.

This cover is one that definitely grabbed my attention. I’m looking at it and wondering, “What is that?” I know others speculated and I have seen multiple interpretations of what it is. To me, it looks like a skeletal dragon sitting on a hoard of bones, somewhat reminiscent of the dragon on the pile of gold on the Holmes Blue Box.

I have gotten really close to my screen to look at it, and that is still my first impression. It does look like some sort of flowers or plant under it, but I’m not sure.

It isn’t necessarily what I was expecting for a cover. I already own one edition of S&W in hard back. I’m not sure that I will back the Kickstarter or not. I have been trying to cut back until some of the bigger ones deliver. My outstanding list is much smaller in recent weeks, that I have yet to write about. [The craziness with work is taking longer to resolve than I expected. I do have some things in the works to wrap up.]

My limiting factors on buying it are financial and shelf space. I am working on downsizing other stuff in my life, I need to play what I have. S&W, and other clones are still the original game, the name we can’t say. Why does it matter what the package looks like? Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, right? We don’t know yet, but when it comes out, what if it is the best presentation of the rules ever written? That will be hard to do, but what if it was?

What gets me is that people are complaining about the art on an RPG book, when some of the art in the original three books, and later AD&D and basic was not the best.

This is something someone did out of their love of the game. It is OK that everyone doesn’t like it, but some of the things said about it are juvenile. Some of the comments sound like they were made by immature pre-teens.

Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you need to say something. How about CONSTRUCTIVE criticism of the prose and presentation of the rules, when they come out, and less whining about the art. If you don’t like the art, you can roll your own rules and get the art that you like and see how many people have the same love of your creation. What if it generated as much vocal dislike? Would you still want to have an online presence and make and play RPGs?

I really like the art by Dave Trampier, but there are a few of his pieces that I don’t care for very much. Some artists from back in the day I don’t care for a lot of their stuff, and others are what RPG art “should be.” Many agree with that, but not all.

Take all the nitpicking strewn about the interwebs and turn that energy into encouraging others to play.

Joesky Tax:

What to do if you don’t like something in an RPG (d6/d12/whatever).

  1. Do your own version.
  2. Do your own art.
  3. Do your own maps.
  4. Play solo games so no one can disagree with your rulings.
  5. Turn off your computer so you don’t encounter art and opinions you disagree with.
  6. End sentences with prepositions to annoy those who don’t like it.
  7. If you can roll a seven on a d6, I’d like to see that trick in person.
  8. Make your own paper.
  9. Make your own ink.
  10. Scribe it with a quill pen.
  11. Bind your own books.
  12. Get a push cart and go door to door and town to town trying to get other’s to buy it.

Hmm, that looks more like a 12 step program on the road to shut the Hell up!

The following image that +James Spahn posts from time to time sums it up much better than my efforts.

Moar Elf Games

 

Marmalade Dog 21

Marmalade Dog 21 was Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 18-20, 2016, at Western University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I had planned to attend today and play in the first slot, but I woke up with a stuffy nose and ear, and a sore throat.

We did not have an official OSR slot this year, like we did last year. I have decided that once we find out when Marmalade Dog is next year that I will step up and coordinate an OSR track. The exception is if it is the same weekend as Gary Con. Last year, the convention was in early February, so I asked if they know yet when it will be next year. The answer is that the university tells them what date they can have, or occasionally what dates they can choose from. So such a variable makes it understandable why it isn’t consistent with the month they have it. I live in southern Kalamazoo County, so am only about 20 minutes away from campus.

Normally the deadline for GM sign up to run games, and get free admission, for each day that they run a session, and a t-shirt, is December 31. I didn’t get signed up to run a game by then. In February, I looked and there were some OSR type games, but three sessions the first, fifth, and seventh, did not have any. So I signed up at the website for the first and fifth session, and was not automatically rejected. I never got an email for confirmation that I wasn’t rejected. So last weekend, I went to the website and checked, and my sign ups were on the list of scheduled games. I then hurried up and got ready.

Session 1: 3:00 pm on Friday. As with last year, no one showed up to my game. If things work out to coordinate an OSR track next year, we’ll have to drum up enough players to commit to a first session game.  I ran the same thing for Session 5 on Saturday.

Session 2: Friday was 7:30 pm – 11:30 pm. +Forest Ray ran a Swords & Wizardry Complete setting, called Muskets & Magic Users. It was S&W with muskets. We were first level adventurers hired by the town to go stop the pirates who raided their town. Non magic users got issued a musket that did 1d12, that fired once per round. Magic users got a wand of magic missile that had 5 first level spells per day and regenerated its charges overnight.

That was a fun little session, and my magic user used Charm Person to make a “friend” of one of the pirates that was on the raiding party that came into the tavern where we were. This made it easier to find the other pirates in the raiding party, secure their boat, and go out to their ship. We managed to take the ship and go clean out the pirate hideout, then go fight the dragon ship of the pirate queen. It was a fun game.

Forest always hands out goodies for his games, and we each got a bag of dice and a button with the name of his game, and the rules system. Forest came down from Lansing and got a hotel to run and play games all three days. In addition to swag, he brought 3 copies of Swords & Wizardry Complete for reference. I didn’t bring mine as I was already lugging three AD&D Player Handbooks, the OSRIC Player Handbook, and a DMG for my earlier session.

Muskets & Magic Users
Muskets & Magic Users

Charles, who played in one of my sessions of Homlett from last year, and was looking forward to my game Saturday night. He said he runs Swords & Wizardry sometimes. He actually lives in my town, but I lost his number. I put it in my cell so I can’t lose it. We also had a couple, Joseph and Priscilla, who played S&W for the first time and had a blast. They were both experienced gamers. He lives in a town about 15 miles south of me, so we are planning to get together IRL for gaming. She lives about a half hour away in the other direction. We had one other player, and I am blanking on the name. I did not think to take a picture of play at the table.

Session 3: 10:00 am on Saturday, I played DCC’s Frozen in Time as a 0-level funnel, by +Mike Carlson.  Mike came down from Lansing for the day. I played this funnel with him last year. Others had played it, but I didn’t remember most of the key details, so it was like a new adventure. I only remembered things as we encountered them. It was a good time. We had a full table with 6 players. Four of us were experienced gamers with DCC experience. The other two were a couple, Seth had RPG experience, and this was Gretchen’s first roleplaying experience. She had a good time. This couple lives about an hour away, in Benton Harbor, so they are having a challenge finding a group. +Clayton Williams from Lansing and +James DeYonke and his friend Dave, from Ann Arbor, one and two hours away, respectively.

DCC at Marmalade Dog 21
DCC at Marmalade Dog 21

Session 4: 3:00 pm, Saturday. +Forest Ray ran Da Orkz Iz Back, a White Star scenario. I meant to bring my White Star books, but didn’t think to set them out, or put in my bag before I went to bed. This was the first time I had played White Star. Mike Carlson joined in, as did Charles, Joseph, and Priscilla from the night before in Muskets and Magic Users.

Forest & Players White Star
Forest & Players White Star
White Star At Marmalade Dog 21
White Star At Marmalade Dog 21

This was a scenario that needed at least one Star Knight and one pilot with the rest mercenaries. I rolled up a very uncharismatic Star Knight, and we had two pilots and two mercenaries. We were hired to investigate the loss of contact with Altair 6, a relatively new colony. There was no contact with the Star Knight Monastery, the city, and the star port. We found that legendary orcs who were thought to be myth were real, and were working with a couple of Void Knights. My Star Knight couldn’t hit the Void Knight with his star sword. The rest of the party gunned down the other Void Knight and one of the pilots picked up his void knight sword and managed to stab the void knight I was fighting. In another combat, I finally managed to hit something with my star sword. I was much better when I was shooting my blaster pistol.

Da Orkz Iz Back
Da Orkz Iz Back

Session 5: 7:00 pm on Saturday. I ran a scenario based on an area of my home campaign that I wanted to flesh out – Ogre Island and the Black Crate. I will write up a separate article on this.

Sunday has two sessions, Session 6 at 11:00 am and  7 at 3:30 pm.

Session 6: Forest ran Mutant University using the Mutant Future system. I had planned to attend that before I woke up with a cold and no energy.

Session 7: did not have any what I thought were obvious OSR games. I was thinking of playing a game of Fate, which I have never played. Maybe next year.

What I learned from this experience.

  • I need to commit to this local con, since it is in my backyard. As long as it does not conflict with Gary Con or other things I want to do, I will go.
    • If it is the same weekend as Gary Con, I can still try to coordinate an OSR track, for any not going to Gary Con.  I can recruit an assistant to handle things of the actual weekend.
  • Last year, after I saw how much time it took me to get ready to run Village of Homlet, I decided it would have been just as easy to come up with my own scenario that I would know like the back of my hand.
    • This idea proved true. I used the opportunity to flesh out an area of my campaign I had been wanting to do for a long time.
  • People will drive from a couple hours away to come for Saturday. A strong OSR presence could attract a lot more people.
    • Advertising on G+ an other outlets could increase the attendance.
    • Keep the line of communication open with other players from the region.
  • If you run a 6 person game, you get one folding table that is just big enough. If you run an 8 person game you get two folding tables.
  • Swag is cool. Perhaps publishers would provide swag, or templates for GM’s to make their own swag.
    • DCC has some cool stuff with bookmarks, buttons, pens, pencils, and more.

UCON – Day 0

+Tim Snider of Savage Afterworld uses the nomenclature of Day 0, Day 1, etc when he writes about his attendance at conventions. So in the spirit of the OSR, I’ll use that idea too!

After only going to UCON on Saturday last year and dealing with a nasty storm trying to get there, when I decided that I would go for the entire con this year, I decided to arrive a day early, just in case. As it happens, the weather and roads were good and Thursday.

I got checked in and got my stuff to my room and somewhat settled in, went out for some supper, and returned to the hotel.

Hotel View

Cool Island in the lake.
Cool Island in the lake.

I soon ran into +Tim Snider, and we caught up on things since last year. He bought me a beer, Bell’s Brown Lager. Nothing like driving nearly two hours away from the local brew pub to have one of their beers. It was good! It was also a tall glass. There were two couches in the carpeted area of the bar/restaurant. The couches faced each other, one back to the bar, the other back to the lobby. I sat across from Tim with my back to the bar. We were talking enjoying our beers when some guy came up and said, “We’re playing a game when I get back”, or words to that effect. Tim and I were speculating, and were right when we decided it must be +Bill Webb. When he got back, we moved to an area in the lobby with a table, a couch, chairs, and ottomans. We rolled 3d6 in order, after that, all we needed where a d20 and a d6. Bill used a big d20 and a big d6, those were the only dice he had. It was a fun little adventure. You can read +Tim Snider’s write up here.

Bill Webb in Action.
Bill Webb in Action.

Joining in the game was +Ryan Thompson of Gamers & Grognards, +Adam Muszkiewicz and his adorable sidekick Stan of Dispatches from Kickassistan. (the next day I met Adam’s collaborator and co-host in the +DSR podcast (Drink Spin Run), +Donn Stroud), +Laura Williams and her husband +Clayton Williams, Bill’s daugher and a few others, whose names I don’t recall. +Pete Schwab and a few others showed up to watch our game. We broke about midnight. I had to get to bed, since I was in a 9am game in Friday.

Review – Distress Signal Tundara

Distress Signal Tundara is a new adventure module for 3-6 adventurers of levels 1-2 compatible with White Star. After the cover, title page, one page of deck plans and the final page for the OGL, the rest of this 17 page PDF is the text of the adventure. In addition, it comes with two image files for the deck planes, one with a grid for the GM and one without the grid for the players.

There were only minor production issues. I noted was one typo in the first few pages. A description of a creature used yards, when the map is in meters. And the non-grided map makes reference to the scale of the grid, which is missing. Other things referred to feet using the apostrophe character, which is part of White Box information, so not a problem of the author.

Each referee will have to work out for themselves, whether to use English or metric units, and whether to convert White Box feet to meters. Where outdoor movement is in yards, this is easy enough to hand wave as meters. Feet can be crudely approximated to 1/3 of a meter. Personally, I prefer to use metric in a Science Fiction game, but having been raised on English units, I think in those units, so not a problem for me.

The author did his own graphics, with some open content. I like the cover and the deck plans provided.  It would be nice if the original and now damaged area of the ship were shown in outline, so one knew it’s original structure. But that is only my desire for a complete deck plan for future use. [One thing I wish I had was a 75% view of the ship. Not to detract from the module, but something I feel would be cool to show the players from their scans/view of the ship on approach. The burst of new ship types and graphics by some on the White Star community can help fill this want.]

The premise of this adventure is not entirely new, but is presented in a way that is clear, concise, and ready to run after a quick read and a few minutes to think of how to approach it.

The GM is left to determine how the players are in the area, whether as passengers on a ship, or a ship of their own. This is not a major issue, as it allow the module to fit into an existing campaign, or be a one-shot.

There is enough detail in each area of the ship, that curious and careful players will manage to find something in most rooms. However, there are notes that the referee will have to fill in things that he or she feels are necessary in their game. There are also hazards for players that are rash and forget that there are in space. The issue of explosive decompression of a hatch that is forced open is dealt with, as I was thinking about how I might handle it as I began the text, there it was a bit further in. Excellent!

Several NPC’s are suggested for various ways that the GM might impact the scenario. This gives maximum flexibility to work into existing campaigns, or ideas for similar adventures. There are also potential plot hooks that could lead to more adventures that can easily fit into an existing campaign.

This seems like a scenario that would be a good fit for a con, but I don’t know if it would fill a four hour slot. Still, it might be fun to try it.

There is a lot here for $1.00. I think that I would enjoy playing this as a GM or a player.

Funny: At first glance, I thought the title was Distress Signal Tundra. Tundra made me think of ice, and I thought of the movie, Ice Station Zebra. Now I have thoughts of a White Star scenario on ice. Now all I need is Snoopy….

White Star – Space Travel

Travel among the stars has many varieties of technology.

Page 59 of the White Star rules tell us: “The details of how a starship moves from planet to planet should be decided by
the Referee.”

Below are some thoughts on space travel and various aspects of it. I am not proposing any rules or tables, just spit balling some ideas for future reference.

Can any of them be used when in orbit of a planet or star, or near another ship? How far from X must you be to use this type of drive? The White Star rules say you have to be out of combat, Rule 0 says, “Not in my game.”

  • Old & Slow (or just slow) – Less than light speed. Only generation ships, hibernation ships, or ships that are adrift in space, such as damaged ships or life pods, will be found between systems. Most such slow ships will never leave their home system.
  • Light Speed – Still years between systems. Trips would still tend to be one way, or use some sort of hibernation.
  • Faster than Light Speed (FTL) – Still in regular space using some technology to push or pull the ship or generate a warp field for it to ride. This would allow months to weeks to even days or hours between systems.
  • Jump Technology – Engines or Jump Gates that allow ships or other things to skip over vast distances. May use some controllable form of wormhole or other way of slipping between the seams of reality. Hyperspace is most often used to refer to the space outside of space/reality. Could be instantaneous, or still require some about of time in “null space”. Is it an instantaneous trip, or does it take a certain amount of time, like 1 round per light year, or some such?

Each of these types of transit will rely on different technology. 

Things to keep in mind: All of these devices require a certain level of technology. Some of the most “primitive”, such as chemical rockets, are very complex and prone to failure. Whereas, various nuclear powered devices would have few working parts and less complexity that results in far fewer catastrophic failures. More advanced and mature technology would be closer to airline or automobile safety and reliability, provided proper and adequate maintenance were performed over time.

  • Chemical and fission tend to be the extremes of slow. Other methods of slow travel within a system would rely on things such as rail guns and/or the complex math of celestial mechanics for gravity assists to speed up and slow down to minimize fuel use.  The crudest form of fission drive would involve a series of “warhead” exploding behind a ship with an immense radiation shield. This leaves a trail of highly volatile radiation that is very easy to track. Such methods would have to be far enough away from planets and other ships and habitations to avoid causing problems due to the IMP.
  • Solar Sails – Possible to attain very high speeds given large enough sail and enough time. Still sub light speed.
  • Ion Drive – Electric drive. Potential for high speed, still sub light speed.
  • Fusion – Might be enough to get something up to light speed. As with fission drive, the crudest form of such drive would involve a series of explosions of “warheads”.
  • Anti-Matter – Definitely light speed and perhaps more.
  • Dark Matter/Dark Energy – Would this allow jumps between the stars? (I have not read any current SF that delves into this.)

Distance

Would travel still be limited to a single galaxy, or is there something fast enough, or a shortcut available to make the long journey to another galaxy?

Encounters/Events

Realistically, in the vastness of space there is little difference to the type of encounter, whether within or between systems, as there is a lot of space between any two points. The relatively less huge distances within a system would be more conducive to rescue or a landing on a habitable planet than an incident between systems.

Intra System – In System Encounters

The Kuiper Belt begins at about 50 AU from the sun, out to about 200 AU. The gravity of the sun affects objects at a distance to about 1.87 light years, about half the distance to Alpha Centauri, the nearest star. [1] It is a bit under 30 AU between Earth and Neptune. [2]

  • Nothing would be most likely.
  • Asteroids, comets, or other space rocks
  • Other ships – merchant/bureaucrat/derelict/probe/pirates/renegades/aliens/enemy warship
    • Distress Signal
    • Collision – This would be very rare. Only likely if trying to dock with a ship in distress or attacked by another ship.
    • How likely/easy is it to track and follow another ship using this method of space travel? For example, in some universes, there can be no fighting in hyperspace.
  • Events –
    • System goes out – Weapons/life support/navigation/drive/communications/scanners/tractor beam/etc.
      • How well it is designed and manufactured and maintained and any extraordinary wear and tear or battle damage will affect the likelihood of this.
    • Illness  – Individual, small group, large group, or most of ship – Dues to: Disease/Radiation Sickness/Poisoning
    • Fight/Rivalry/Feud – Between crew members, between crew and passengers, between passengers, etc. Families, clans, races, gangs, etc. that don’t get along.
    • Murder/Assassination – could relate to illness or a fight.
    • Plot – could relate to the above.

Inter System – Between Systems Encounters

  • Nothing but the vastness of space would be most likely.
  • Other ships – merchant/derelict/probe/pirates/renegades/aliens/enemy warship
  • Events – System goes out – Weapons/life support/navigation/drive/etc. Basically the same events that can happen to ships travelling within a system.
  • Rogue planets & planetoids – Perhaps there is an asteroid like field between stars that is the remnants of a system or two from stars that went nova and have since burned out.
  • Brown Dwarfs – i.e. ancient stars that are nearly burnt out.

Communication

How to talk when Light Speed and FTL ships can outrun radio waves? Subspace or Superspace communications? Would communication be faster than ships? That is, could the players rob a bank in one system, and get to another system before word reached that system? Is communication only faster than in system travel? This would make it likely that a patrol on the outskirts of the system might be able to get word and intercept or chase the party. This does not necessarily require a complex table or mechanic for resolution. A simple statement about the speed of communication vs. the speed of travel within and between systems will let players make informed decisions of their actions.

Any large empire would need a reliable means of transport, even if slow, and loyal and dedicated people to administer far flung systems. The British Empire of the 1700’s required a few weeks to cross the Atlantic and a few months to get to India, yet it held together. The quicker communications and travel became, the better the control and taxation became.

Scanners

Neutrino Scanners would be the most sophisticated. Neutrinos pass through “everything”, so with a neutrino detector, one could see all the things it has passed through. Would this allow tracking an FTL ship?

How scan ahead of your ship if it is travelling FTL?

Can planet based scanners track FTL ships like an airplane with radar, or is it only “radio” communications.

What is long range vs. short range scanners, and what information/level of detail is available to each?

Orbit

When going into orbit around a primitive planet, does a ship drop communication buoys in geosynchronous orbit to avoid blind spots?

Without a means to see the other side of a planet, entire armadas could hide from a single ship. Unless there is a neutrino scanner that “sees” through the planet.

Gravity – One need not become a master at celestial mechanics, that is beyond overkill. Just keep in mind that everything with mass is attracted to everything else with mass, and that the “biggest”, more correctly, the most massive object “wins”. Loss of propulsion will mean that something is attracting a ship. If between systems, it would have to be beyond 2 light years for a yellow star to not win. Trapped in an orbit of thousands of years would be an eerie tomb…. Orbits that passed closed enough to planets would be altered. Some alterations might lead to entering the orbit of a planet, or crashing into a planet, or being shot into a new orbit that ends in the sun.

Can escape pods within a system reach a high enough speed to get close to a habitable planet? Think about their range and limitations.

Ship to Shore Transport

  • Shuttles – Both Passenger and Cargo, as well as mixed purpose.
  • Ship can land on planet.
  • Portion of ship can land on planet.
  • Military ships will be able to use drop ships, or have men in mech like armor that can drop. Orbit is the high ground, but landing ships and troops would be at a disadvantage for part of their journey.
  • Transporters – Range?
    • Ship transporter bay to special planet based transporter bay.
    • Ship transporter bay to anywhere in range.
    • Ship  – Anywhere on ship to anywhere in range.
    • Portal like a jump portal?

Ground to Orbit Transport

Is there a shuttle that takes passengers, crew, and cargo to a space station for subsequent loading/transfer to a ship?

If players don’t have a ship that can land and return to orbit, how is it handled?

Railguns for launching cargo to orbit?

Space elevators?

The above topics are a lot to consider. The bare bones of it is just having an idea of the relative speed of ships vs. communication, and methods to get to and from a planet and its orbit.

In most instances, a lot of this can be hand waved, unless something in the situation that has arisen through GM plan, actions of the players, or the roll of the dice. For example, what if the players start with a ship and somehow it is impounded, disabled,  or destroyed and they need to get into orbit, or down to the planet quickly?

Review – Star Temple of Saturgalia

The first(?) available third party adventure for White Star, Star Temple of Saturgalia is a six page PDF, that after the cover and OGL leave four pages for the adventure.

This was billed as an introductory adventure. Nowhere in the PDF does it indicate that is is for low level characters. It is obvious from a reading of the text that it is for a group of low level characters.

The method of handling encounters almost guarantees that there will be three space encounters en route to the planet. Instead of a 1 in 6 chance of there being an encounter, there is a 1 in six chance of no encounter. The odds of the encounter ignoring the players or being friendly combined are 50% or greater. So even if there is an encounter, it does not guarantee a chase or fight. The intent of the designer is to have tension. If one is playing up to the tropes of the genre, this is understandable. However, the GM is free to handle this his or her own way.

Once on the planet, there are two encounters, potentially competition from an NPC party, or natives are the greatest possibility. A natural disaster or a creature encounter are also likely. The use of bumble dogs, or a new creature, the gindo, introduced at the end of the module.

This is a very basic outline of an adventure. With the near guarantee of one or two ship encounters, plus two encounters on the way to the temple, it will stretch out the adventure. If you go by the roll of the dice, and there are no space encounters, and the planet side encounters are neutral or friendly, this could be a quick one maybe two hour one shot.

It is an interesting idea, and has enough meat on it that an experience GM could make an evening of it. If you don’t have a list of natural disasters, you will need to make your own table, as the author only gives a couple of suggestions.

The temple itself is a basic dungeon crawl, and it an interesting twist. The map is he standard square rooms and passages, which server to get the point across. The fonts used for the room numbers are not clear, so that some numbers look like each other. I assume that the rooms and areas are numbered in a clockwise fashion, so it is easy to make sense of it, but it still takes a moment to be sure of this. There are also a few grammatical errors, indicating that the text needed a quick review by a new set of eyes or to sit for a few days before finalizing. A suggested description of the natives of the planet, if not a new race, would be interesting.

At one dollar, the items, tables, new creature, and other ideas presented can make an interesting one-shot introduction of the rules to new players, and a skilled GM can easily expand it to be something more substantial in their own campaign.

If you need some help for prepping last minute, this module only needs a few things to be ready to play on short notice.

Review – DayTrippers Planet Generator

DayTrippers Planet Generator, is a section pulled from the DayTrippers GM Guide.  DayTrippers is an RPG game by Tod Foley of As If Productions. I had not heard of this game, but this is one piece that many complain is not in the White Star framework. It is a nice piece to have if you don’t have another ruleset to borrow from, or don’t wish to create your own tables. It is a system agnostic method for generating star systems from the size and type of star, to the number and size of planets.

This six page document is 4 pages of tables for system generation and half a page of converting character abilities, skills, and difficulty levels to other systems. The first page being the cover and last half page being split between more information on Day Trippers and blank space.

It is reminiscent of what I recall from other science fiction games back in the day, most likely Traveller, but perhaps also Star Frontiers. At 50 cents, it is hard to say no to this.

If you need something to get your juices flowing with ideas so that every system is not the same, this can do the trick. If you don’t want to invest in a complete rules system just for these tables, it is a great value.

Review – Outer Space Raiders Volume I

+Chuck Thorin of Magic Pig Media has produced Outer Space Raiders, Vol. 1, an interesting set of 6 new classes compatible with White Star. At $1.49 it is very affordable.

In 20 pages are packed 16 pages of information. Unlike many small PDF’s, this one includes clickable links in the table of contents. While not necessarily needed in so few pages, it is much appreciated!

The classes presented are alien, astromancer, engineer, lost worlder, scoundrel, and warp ninja.

Aliens are a generic class to cover any kind of alien you can imaging. 8 abilities are suggested, from which the player picks one. There is also an option to convince the GM to let you make up an ability. These would also make good generic NPC aliens.

Astromancers remind me a bit of illusionists, but have some very interesting “Quantum Formulae” that they can use. Many of the names of these re-worked spells give a science fiction flair to otherwise standard and well known spells. There are a few new “spells” here, along with some interesting abilities.

Engineers read like a cross between MacGiver and Mr. Scott. With abilities that allow them to do various kinds of “save the day” things. I really love the techno-babble chart for generating random terms, such as “quantum radiation capacitor”.

The lost worlder is a “barbarian in spaaaace!” The don’t use high tech gear, but have a chance to randomly push buttons to make something work, with an equal chance of catastrophic failure. One of the abilities is extra resistance to disease and poison, with a bonus on such saving throws. I am reminded of Leela from Dr. Who, and similar such characters.

Scoundrels are an obvious homage to Han Solo, and other stereotypical characters in all manner of fiction. One of their skills is “know a guy”, giving them a chance to know someone, not necessarily friendly. This single page sums up what most of us envisage a scoundrel to be.

Warp Ninjas are an interesting idea. It takes ninjas and crosses them with a dash of science fiction, and uses a black hole to power their abilities. Two of their abilities are dangerous and actually cause damage if used. They are powerful, but a bad roll could mean it’s time to roll up a new character.

Finally, the last page of game material is a set of charts for Random Humanoid Species Appearance Charts, for skin color, hair, ears, eyes, and miscellaneous features. These charts use a d6, three of them use a d8, and a d20, so 5 dice, if the d8’s are specified, can roll a random creature quickly.

The simplicity of each class fits right in with the overall theme of White Star.

If you want more classes, or ideas for modding or making your own classes for White Star, or Swords & Wizardry White Box, this is a good start!

White Star Ripe For Modification To Cover All Ranges of Science Fiction

There is an interesting discussion on White Star over on the G+ Community.

White Star is a basic framework. I agree that its presentation with a strong homage to Star Wars helps to understand how it works.

I also see that as a basic framework, it supports any variation on anything that can be considered Science Fiction. From the hardest of science fiction, to the softest and vaguest hint of SF.

I think it is the simplicity of White Star that opens up so many possibilities. With such a simple tool box, different GM’s can go in different directions and each come up with something cool, that others can also use. There is no limit.

If you are comfortable with that simplicity and like to fill in the “gaps” that you see, it is perfect.

One could easily add in comic book heroes, it would take some tweaks to abilities and more tech, but it could be done. Any book, short story, old radio serial, TV show, or movie setting can be done using White Star. Some may take more work by the GM to make it happen, barring a supplement, but it can be done. However, it won’t be long and you will have lots of material, based on the rate at which new classes and ships have hit the community.

RPG’s that try to define “everything” end up being more about the rules and having the right book or supplement, than about doing what you came to do – play.

 

 

Review – Goldenrod Guide to Combat for Swords & Wizardry

I purchased the Goldenrod Guide to Combat for Swords & Wizardry for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day.

This supplement is 18 pages, including cover and OGL on the last page. There are several illustrations, charts, and tables. It deals with various aspects of combat, with suggested house rule changes to craft combat to your liking.

It begins with the combat round and moves on to mounted combat, unmounting a rider, fisticuffs, grappling, called shots, disarming opponents, permanent damage and maiming, parting shots, shield wall, ranged combat, critical hits, death and dying, weapon proficiencies, specialization, fighting styles, running competitive combats, such as jousts, tournaments, and archery,

Most of these rules are a paragraph or two. They can be used whole cloth, or a piece here and there, or server for ideas for your own rules.

The majority of these rules are more fiddly than I prefer in the combat system. The last section on jousts, tournaments, and archery would get the most use in my campaign.

If you are looking for house rules that are balanced and fit in with OD&D clones, such as Swords & Wizardry, this booklet will give you lots of ideas.