Short post. D&D 5e on Sunday was fun. My monk character totally kicked ass. I loved it.
Looks like a rainy day here. Stormed all night, and still a slow moving heavy downpour now. Heading to aikido practice, but looks like a great afternoon for working on gaming stuff. Playing D&D tomorrow afternoon. A lot of the group will not be able to attend, so if thing slow down I’ll get them to roll up some Traveller characters.
- Review of Cyberpunk RPGs by Age of Ravens.
- Another recent blog post about Cyberpunk, from Barking Alien.
- Mailanka’s Musings discusses GURPS City Stats – very cool. I had never noticed this!
- Every Day Should Be Tuesday – a blog about speculative fiction novels. Nice resource.
- Rescue or Bug Hunt? Mook’s notes about running a GURPS game at a con, based on the Alien franchise.
- Yet Another Traveller Blog – this blog is deep with info. Some great posts about ships.
- Pathfinder – an excellent GURPS Space campaign setting. Very detailed.
Now that I have the three core books, a bunch of supplements (all from eBay), and a CD-ROM that contains everything they ever published for Classic Traveller, I thought I’d start working up some campaign materials. At this point, I’ve decided to use the Spinward Marches supplement at the overall setting for the game. I purchased some inexpensive Traveller game scenarios written by Michael Brown to give me some ideas, and decided to use one of them as the core of Game 1. I’m about 75% done with writing for this session.
I have no idea how this will go. There are a number of reasons. First, well, it’s a big galaxy. Not totally sure I am good enough at GMing to handle it. But we haven’t even rolled up the PCs yet, so once we do that and have some backstories for them I should be able to come up with some additional material for the game.
Also – how will my players react to the game? One of the things I like about CT is the very simple and efficient character stats. There’s not that much there to keep track of. A line of six numbers/letters describes the characteristics. A few very general skills with a number next to them describe that character’s professional skills. The game pays no attention to things like languages spoken, etc. There will no doubt be some areas where I have to use my Referee Power to just say “OK, you speak Aslan” or whatever. That’s fine, but let’s face it, GURPS details everything your character can do, so this is way different. And of course, there is pretty much no character progression system. PCs are generated as experienced characters.
The first time I tried to ref a Traveller game here’s how it went (I was in highschool). The PCs were hired by some colonists to come and kill a massive beast that was terrorizing them on a remote planet. The PCs rented a helicopter gunship, took it to the planet, and killed the monster from the air. Game over. Yeah – good thinking on their part, not so good on mine, and not all that much fun. Hopefully as a 52 year old man who thinks a bit more clearly about these things, I can make Game 1 of this new campaign will be more engaging.
There are some other issues to deal with as well. Classic Traveller was created in the late 1970s. There are lots of technological developments and ideas it simply doesn’t account for that well. Computers, for one. There’s just a lot of stuff that those little black books, despite their elegance, don’t really address. If I were a true “rules lite” kind of guy that wouldn’t bother me, but I’m not. I like a little more detail in the system, but there are lots of resources to use beyond the LBB, so I think it’s cool.
I’ve noticed this same kind of issue with my Cyberpunk campaign. Older science fiction – pretty much anything pre-internet – simply doesn’t account much for networked computing, mobile devices, the development of nanotechnology, etc. I am fine with simply saying that stuff doesn’t exist. We’re playing Traveller as if we were living in 1977, as if we were in the novels of that era.
The nice thing about this is that I can try my hand at a space campaign without spending lots of time creating detailed character sheets for NPCs. It’s great being able to pick up the Citizens of the Imperium supplement, saying ” I need a scientist”, and finding plenty of easy to use stats right there.
I have to admit though that if the players end up enjoying this I may convert to GURPS so their characters can progress a bit during the campaign.
- From Steve Jackson Games’ Daily Illuminator, a little description of GURPS writer P.K. Levine’s GURPS After the End campaign. Post-Apocalyptic setting. Looks really fun! I will delve into this a bit.
- Bravo Zulu – this blog has lots of cool stuff for Traveller that could easily be adapted to other systems.
- DMDavid writes that A Lack of Ability Checks Shaped How People Originally Played Dungeons & Dragons . Kind of interesting.
- Michael Brown is a guy who writes lots of very short Traveller adventures. Short, but very creative. Most cost only 75 cents, and are worth the money, either as games to be run or ideas for story hooks.
Today was my morning off. Got up early (6:30am), had coffee and breakfast, chilled, read, and then spent two hours working on Game 4 of CyberTex. I’m doing Scene 1 in 3 parts — 1a thru 1c. These will deal with separate, concurrent events for each of the PCs (two of them together), which all intertwine and bring them back together for another story arc. This was originally planned as a one-shot, but my players seem to be really into the game, so I think I’ll make it another three game arc. Anyway, I wrote up the plot of 1b this morning. I’m writing this game in a more narrative fashion, which I think is helping me immerse myself in the game world to really describe everything more richly — the NPCS, the environment, the potential dialog, etc. Kind of writing it as a “module” specifically for my own PCs.
I’m really happy that my players have taken so well to GURPS. I am certainly no ace with it. I really haven’t delved into the magic system (since this game has no magic), or even more advanced combat. But GURPS really offers the kind of customization that makes for interesting PCs, and a nice toolbox for the GM to pull from.
I’ve got two skateboard contests coming up this summer, which I’m really busy practicing for, but I think when they are done I will try to actually play more.
- A video from the interwebs – Crit or Miss Special: The Problem with GURPS : not a criticism of GURPS, but a video by a huge fan of GURPS about why he often chooses not to use it. My commentary: I’ve purchased many RPGs over the years. Few have been played more than a few times. D&D. Traveller. Champions (HERO system). GURPS. Those are the systems I’ve used a lot. When I’ve purchased other games that create their own systems for a particular campaign setting, I’ve usually thought the systems sucked, even if the background material was really good. A few exceptions. My friend Bob had this game called Demon: the Fallen, which I looked through and it looked awesome. Technically it was part of the World of Darkness thing, so whatever, maybe it wasn’t entirely it’s own thing. Still, if I see a game system for a cool setting, I think there’s an 80% chance I’d just GURPS it, or use the Hero system.
- A cool interview with Marc Miller, designer of Traveller.
- Travellermap.com – mind blown. Zoomable, printable map for Traveller’s Third Imperium setting.
- Zhodani Base – incredible Traveller site.
I intended to spend the night reading, but my eyes are tired and itchy from allergies, so I layed here on the couch with my laptop in my lap and started working on notes for a classic Traveller campaign. Curious how my players will react to a game with no really “leveling” or experience point system! haha.
As usual, a few cool things from the internet.
- DMDavid – on How N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God Changed D&D Adventures For Good, and one of his previous posts, Why Dungeons & Dragons (and Role Playing) Took Years to Leave the Dungeon. Both posts discuss the challenges of running a non-dungeon-crawl game.
- Brian Posehn’s Nerd Poker podcast is back, now officially having his name in the title. Still a fun listen.
- Phil Masters, GURPS editor/writer, on Live Journal. Here’s his blog, as well. And also his occasional blog!
- Another from DMDavid, on How to Use Scenes and Summaries to Focus on the Best Parts of a Role-Playing Adventure.