Yes, I am actually still alive. I have done no painting or modelling all year. But I have not been totally idle. Well, actually I have been bone idle but that is another story.
I have been bitten by a nostalgia bug and have started playing DnD 5e. Not exactly how I remember DnD from the early 80s but I am enjoying my foray into this game. I am running a small game set in the Primeval Thule setting by Sasquatch Games.
My game is set in the city of Quodeth. I have the city map but I found it a bit hard to read so I made some alterations to it. I used PAINT.net to add a layer for the labels and another for the buildings.
In my younger days back in the 80s we did a lot of role-playing. Should have been studying but instead played D&D for three days straight sort too much role-playing. One thing we used to do was make cardboard flats for gaming – in New Zealand in those days you just didn’t get metals although most people I knew had the odd figure here and there. So, as aids for combat and so forth I used to draw my own and mount them on card. Had a big collection – especially Judge Dredd flats – that I wish I still had but it went south many decades ago.
In recent years flats have made a big comeback. Go to Drivethru-RPG and you can find dozens of down-loadable minis. There are even fan-made freebies out there – like these ones for Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne RPG (these examples are single sided).
I was asked to review some paper minis from the aptly named company from Lithuania called Flat Minis.
Right off the bat I have to say that I think that they have a great product. The minis are printed on an elasticised material with an adhesive backing. The images are double sided and come individually packaged in a small plastic bag.
The neat thing is that there is a laser-cut plastic body matching the image of the mini to stick the miniature to. This then clips into a small base to hold upright. The plastic is fairly rigid and about 1-2mm thick. I think these would be robust enough to be chucked into a container for transport without any damage. The cost is €2 per figure. Not exactly cheap but you get a gaming token ready to go with no effort. I would prefer metals but then add the extra cost, painting time, storage for transport and so forth. For role-playing I think these are a good idea.
Assembly took about five seconds. The sticker wraps around the plastic cut-out and the completed 2-D miniature fits snugly into the plastic base.
The actual images are somewhat cartoony – perhaps a little too much so for my taste. The printing however is crisp and the colours vivid. The current range from Flat Minis includes some eighteen characters. I would prefer a more realistic representation of characters – but these will do the job intended. If they made these for either the Harn or Empire of the Petal Throne settings – I would buy the lot.
Some other examples from their current range.
And of course one good thing about 2D miniatures. They can fit through really narrow gaps on your dungeon layout.
Earlier this year I reviewed the first new module for the Space Opera RPG in nearly thirty years that you can read about at this link – Star Sector Atlas 4: The galactic People’s Republic. The author, Glenn Price, was kind enough to send me an copy autographed by the author and the artist. I already had it in PDF form but it was nice to get a hard copy to go alongside my originals. If you are a fan of the old game then this is available in electronic format from Drivethru RPG or you can get a hard copy direct from Fantasy Games Unlimited.
Cheers Glen and Julia. Looking forward to seeing more modules hit the stores – electronic or otherwise.
Imagine my surprise when browsing Drivethrurpg and discovered that there was a new release for the venerable Space Opera role playing game. Behold Star Sector Atlas 4: The Galactic People’s Republic.
I had to immediately buy a pdf copy from Drivethrurpg to go alongside the other Space Opera Atlases I have. I hope that one day I can get a hard copy to go on my bookshelf but I might have to settle for a printed and bound pdf.
This Atlas covers the Marxist Galactic People’s Republic and it’s home sector NCG 1039. It details the background history to the formation of this particular state, from the events of the “Wet Firecracker War” of 2008 and the collapse of the Soviet Union (the USA and allies had invented, with some alien intervention, a nuclear damper – well it is Space Opera) through the machinations of the surviving members of the old regime and their comrades from the Peoples Republic of China and other hold-out socialist states and their decades long plan to export the revolution to someplace else where those pesky Western Alliance and later United World governments wouldn’t follow. It was nice to see that the original history of the Space Opera universe (written back in the 70s) has been maintained through to this date. Guess we call this an historical divergence. A potted history of the GPR and subsequent wars and a multitude of Five Year Plans takes up the first ten pages. A few pages on the Red Army, Red Space Navy and of course the KGB and some details of life in the GPR for the average comrade follow. The command economy of the GPR results in the expected shortages and inevitable queuing.
Goods for purchase tend to come for sale in areas in a sporadic way
that leads to long lines and lots of waiting. Another joke goes like this;
A man waiting in line in New Moscow gets fed up and declares he is
going to shoot the Chairman. He storms off towards the capital
buildings. Hours later he returns and gets back in line. When asked if
he had shot the Chairman, he said “No, the line was too long.
There are forty one planets detailed in the Atlas. The format is in the traditional Space Opera style. I remember when I got the first Atlas back in the early 1980s how much I liked the information presented compared to the simplified UPP (Universal Planetary Profile) of Traveller. However, rolling up a Space Opera planet was about ten times the work of making a Space Opera Character – which was about fifty times the work of making a Traveller one – you get the picture. But any system that lets you roll Xeno-Acceptance and planetary per capita GDP is still cool.
Production wise – the supplement is nice and crisp. The horrible typewriter font that was used in the original Space Opera supplements is gone. The interior artwork is totally reminiscent of the older modules from the 80s – with a few exceptions. The Soviet Style Propaganda posters are a nice touch, and would have looked great in colour. The only thing I don’t like is the sector map. It is one component of the module that I thought could have done with some updating.
The Space Opera setting is actually a very good one, if you pick and choose what parts you use. As written is was designed to be Traveller, Lensman, Star Wars and Star Trek all rolled into one, with a sprinkling of every other sci-fi novel written up to the late seventies included. I am seriously thinking that a Savage Worlds Space Opera would be popular.
The Star Atlas series was supposed to include Numbers 1-10 for the official setting and above that number for contributed sectors.
The series so far includes:
I am not sure who this new product will appeal to other than nostalgic role-players in their late 40s and 50s up – the exact demographic I am in. I am looking forward to the next release and am hoping to see it before another three decades have gone by.
Something different this week. This is a GURPS: Spaceships design for a hard(ish) sci-fi setting. This vessel is a small (Size Modifier +8) multi-purpose Passenger/cargo hauler. This setting has no artificial gravity so passenger and crew accommodations are in a spin habitat that provides up to 0.5G in simulated gravity. The rest of the ship is in zero-G. The core cargo areas double up as an emergency storm shelter in case of solar flares. The ship has a sizable fuel store giving a total delta-V reserve of 200m/sec.
To convert this ship to a GURPS: Transhuman Space vessel, drop the FTL drive and add some more cargo space. Also change the propulsion system to A Fusion Pulse Drive and drop the delta-V reserve of the fuel tanks accordingly.
This is my entry in the reddit competition to design a 100Dton Scout ship – any design rules. I went with the GURPS Spaceships ruleset which is an abstract design system that divides a ship up into twenty slots and various systems are then plugged in – fuel, engines, crew accommodations and so forth. Ships are rated by size, ranging from Size Modifier +5 (30 tons) to +15 (3 million tons). Exactly what a particular system plugged into a slot gives you depends totally on the size of the vessel. For example, a bridge on a SM+5 ship has one control station, while on a SM+15 ship it has sixty.
I went for a Solomani Survey Scout. This vessel is designed for survey and research work. It has enhanced scientific sensors to aid in this work. It carries eight crew in somewhat cramped conditions, which is normal on Solomani ships compared to Imperial vessels which allocate more space per crewman on average.
This PDF gives all the systems and ship stats in GURPS Spaceship format.
Over at Reddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/traveller) there is currently a competition to design some alternative 100 Displacement Tons Scout ships. Reddit user MininalMask created this ship and I thought it looked cool and he agreed to me doing a deck plan. The race that built it are the Korr, a 2m tall bulky humanoid minor race. The ship has a crew capacity of eight, so is quite cramped. See his write up at Reddit. The basic stats for the ship, created with Mongoose Traveller’s ship design system are:
With my interest in Scifi role-playing and drawing deck plans I browse a lot of star ship images and web sites that host them. I was fortunate to run across David Mueller’s Speculative Starship Designer site. I recommend that you go and have a look. An interesting mix of philosophy and science fiction. I began corresponding with David and asked his permission to try to do some of my deck plans based on some of his designs. He readily agreed and I have started with his Useful-class Freighter from his “STAR VESSELS” PROJECT.
David kindly provided me with some of the wire cage and WIP images he used to produce the images on his site, a few of which are published here. Please go to his site and spend some time browsing – you wont be disappointed.
His write up on the Star Hauler Useful
Star Hauler Useful
The “Useful” class Star Hauler is the most common Human medium cargo ship currently in service. It can tow two large cargo containers in addition to internally stowed freight. The main cargo bay can be accessed from both the front and rear of the vessel. A small complement of passengers can be accommodated along with the cargo. This stalwart second generation Tech Level 6 design has also been produced in survey ship and small hospital ship variants.
Date Entered Service : 464 RE (Radiant Era)
Length: 100.9 meters
Maximum Sublight Speed: 0.19 c
Maximum Warp-Jump Performance: 5.9 light years per day fully loaded
As far as stats for RPG games go – I have only worked this ship up as GURPS Space Ship design. As far as Traveller goes I am thinking about 4-5000Dtons comparing it to my other designs. As GURPS Spaceships design (my current favourite design system) it is a SM+10 ship (About 10,000 Stons).
I have a terrible habit of system-changing mid game. Drives my players nuts but does let me try out different systems. It does leave me with a lot of character sheets and sometimes it is interesting to see how different systems treat the same character. I guess it is all relative in the end.
This example is a major NPC in my Whale Road Campaign (set in Columbia Games/Kelestia Productions Harnworld setting). This campaign started using Harnmaster 3rd Edition. We have stalled for some years but we are looking at getting started again.
Eydis Kern is an Ivinian shieldmaiden. She is best friends with a major PC and friends with all the other PCs (they pretty much all grew up together). She comes from a very male dominated culture and the path of the shieldmaiden is an out for women who are martially inclined. Her defining attribute is the fact that she is a berserk. She played for nearly a year of game time before this was found out by other players. A blessing from the Gods, or a curse. Not sure yet.
This is her original Harnmaster Character Sheet (the stats page anyway). Harnmaster has a comprehensive generation system that gives a lot of background information. Family, sunsign, foibles. Characteristics are in the 3-18 range and were generated with a variety of 3d6 and 4d6 rolls. She has a few combat skills, and also knows skills suitable for her cultural and social background. Harnmaster uses a d100 Skill system. There are no levels or points – character ability is totally determined by skill. Her berserker rage is shown as a simple plus to the Effective Mastery Level (EML) of her combat skills – in this case +20%.
Next is the same character using Hero System 6th Edition. Hero System is a points based system where stats and skills are brought and paid for with points to achieve whatever balance the GM has set for the particular campaign. She is a Heroic level character built on a total of 75 points (including Complications). Characteristics (such as Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence etc) for average humans sit at about the 8-10 range so that gives you an idea of how she sits in relation to ‘most people’. There are a lot less “skills” present than on her Harnmaster character sheet but the same feel is there (not shown are the Everyman skills that are shown on the Harnmaster sheet). Look at how the different systems handle “Berserk”. Hero System uses ‘Powers’ with various advantages and limitation to describe game effects. To this end her Berserker Rage has been defined as:
“Lynraal’s Blessing” Aid STR 3d6 (18 Active Points); Only Aid Self (-1), Only When Fighting (-½), Side Effect (automatically becomes Berserk in combat while Aid remains in effect, can only make 11- recovery rolls after all Aided points fade; -½), Cannot Be Used Again Until All Points Fade (-¼) (total cost: 5 points) plus Physical Damage Reduction, Resistant, 25% (15 Active Points); STUN Only (-½), Only When Fighting (-½), Side Effect (-½), Linked (lasts only as long as Aid lasts; -½) (total cost: 5 points).
TOTAL COST OF BERSERK RAGE: 10 Character Points.
Looks complicated but actually isn’t. What it means is if she goes berserk she gets 3d6 worth of extra strength that slowly fades away each turn. While it is in effect she gets a big reduction in the STUN damage she takes in combat – thus is hard to put her down without killing her outright.
Finally, the same character using Savage Worlds. Now I have to say that I like this system for cinematic style games. Stats and skills are based on dice size so range from d4 to d12 (for the most part). Rolls are open ended – roll a 4 on a d4 you get to roll again and add that to your result. Roll another 4 then you add and roll again. It can generate some big effect numbers which can have various game effects. Her berserk rage is handed by a simple add to combat and physical stats and a subtraction from her ability to defend herself.
I have started tarting this map up. I had plans to add more islands, roads and stuff outside the city proper but to be honest I started to get bored with it – drawing all those buildings did my head in. Here is what it looks like now. I might come back to it when I get some more inspiration.