Preparing for some super action

One of the guys had to bow out of Sunday’s Traveller game, so since I want everyone there for those games, the rest of us met and did most of the work-up for characters for The Mighty Protectors: Villains & Vigilantes 3.0. I’m planning to run it a few times this year. I’ll be running standalone sessions, so I can drop that game in when we have absences from the Traveller game as well.

It’s been a while since I ran a superhero game. Like 30 years. That was Champions, which has prepared me well for this game. We’ll talk about details on SAFCOcast.com, but writing up a point-based superhero can be complicated. It doesn’t have to be, but it can be.

We’ll run a Traveller game next month, then we’ll work in Session 1 of SuperTex, our Texas-based superhero campaign.

2019 Review

For someone who doesn’t game every week, 2019 was a good gaming year for me. I ran six sessions of Into the Void, our classic Traveller campaign. Jeff K and I started the SAFCOcast podcast, which has mostly been about Traveller since that’s what we usually play. We’re happy because it seems to be catching on with some of the Traveller/Cepheus Engine community. I got one of my oldest friends into our gaming group, which has been great. I reffed a Traveller game at Lone Star Game Expo, and Jeff K and I spent a day there, played Dungeon Crawl Classics, went to some great seminars, and finished the day with a talk by Marc Miller, designer of Traveller. Granted, I did fall way short of running a game every month, but things happen. We’re all middle-aged guys, so emergencies of different sorts tend to crop up.

So, I’m setting my gaming goals for 2020 high, again with the intention of running a game every month. We’ll continue the podcast, probably work in a session of GURPS Cyberpunk somewhere, as well as a session of V&V 3.0 – the Mighty Protectors. If my schedule allows I’ll do a couple of conventions as well. And of course, SAFCOcast will continue.

SAFCOcast 9: Random Planet Generation Smackdown, Traveller session recap, etc.

 

 

In this episode we discuss two of the systems generated by listeners in our Random Planet Generation Smackdown. We had considered doing more, but we’ll do two per episode until we’re done with them. We had got some nice mailbag comments, and we’ll do a recap of the last session of our Traveller campaign, Into the Void.  And of course we’ll hit a few Internet Finds.

Relevant links

Jeff found some interesting items on the internet, and used them for inspiration for a planet and a game hook.

1. Inspiration:  Photo found on Internet of a small mining “island” at the bottom of a deep well.  Island is reminiscent of a sci-fi version of the computer game “Myst”
https://i.redd.it/94k99magyx541.jpg

Book 3 “Worlds and Adventures” (1981)
E – Frontier Installation (Marked spot on bedrock for landing)
Size: Asteroid
Thin atmosphere
20% water
0 inhabitants
No law level, no government
Abandoned outpost

2. Inspiration: Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators – Russian nuclear power sources for lighthouses, in great disrepair, but still radioactive.  Locating and transferring the cores to safety is very dangerous because of very short acceptable human exposure limits. https://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/radioactive-waste-and-spent-nuclear-fuel/2003-11-radioisotope-thermoelectric-generators
Idea for session: The power source of a long-abandoned distant monitoring outpost is desired by a salvage company.

Random Planet Generation Smackdown

Krystian in the Chaste system
Submitted by Colin Turvey
X-260620-7, De,Ni,Ri,N

Orbits a class K5 star in its first orbit remarkably despite being a desert world it’s not just inhabited but bears a population in excess of 60 million mostly Belters as it’s a low gravity world with only one asteroid belt orbiting between it and it’s system’s sun.

It does have 3 gas giants it’s widely thought the massive amounts of oxygen permeating the system is the reason why Krystian remains inhabitable.

It was originally a prison colony particularly for political types despite the conditions the inhabitants and others continue to live here as a mark of defiance at their former oppressors.

The Naval base originally intended to prevent escapes now watches protectively over them such is the change of fortunes they have overcome.

Update:

Found a system generator the Chaste system now has a K5 type star with 8 orbits.

  • Asteroid belt the main source of the Belters pay.
  • Krystian
  • Gas Giant
  • Ember
  • Gas Giant#2
  • Leone
  • Space Station (Naval base)
  •  Gas Giant#3

Literally the molten remains of a much larger world the only residents live aboard the refinery station that orbits this dwarf planet as it literally has no solid landmass!

A Research base is also located aboard and is largely focused on discovering what happened to the Chaste system.

Aegle
Submitted by Ted Hale
C 454 227 9

Aegle was originally colonized by forced resettlement.  The colonists were families belonging to the “Salvation Tears” religion.   The organization’s rapid growth, and popular appeal was perceived to be a threat to several surrounding world governments.  The religion was designated a cult.

Aegle, an unpleasant hot world with a thin, toxic atmosphere, was also a world rich in unexploited bitumen and other petrochemicals.  Ling Petrochem saw an opportunity to fulfill a long unmet need for affordable labor on Aegle. The Subsector Duke and surrounding world governments wanted a politically acceptable means to rid themselves of the cultists.  A deal was struck between the Subsector Duke, Ling Petrochem, and the various world governments concerned. The cultists were rounded up and deported to Aegle.

Once settled, the colony went through a period of rapid, and sometimes violent, change in government form.  Theocracies gave way to autocracies, then dictatorships both popular and unpopular. Civil wars and bloody upheavals  left the remaining Aegle colonists with a disdain for violence and authority. The Aegle Colonists currently employ an informal participating democracy to govern themselves.  Their laws strictly prohibit firearms and violence. Spears are the most common form of weapon and are regarded as protection from local fauna, rather than from their fellow colonist.

Two generations later, the population of Aegle has dwindled.  Young people eschew the faith of their grandparents and yearn for easier lives.  Economic, academic, and social opportunities are quite limited on Aegle. Most Aeglians cannot afford passage out of the Aegle system.  It is widely held hat this is by design to benefit Ling Petrochem.

Aegle’s starport is little more than a Ling depot for the interstellar transport of Aegle’s petrochem commodities.  Ling and Aegle’s population are aware that the starport is a nexus for both human and illicit drug trafficking, but Ling Petrochem has not been inclined to address the problem, and Aegle’s government is ill equipped to stop it.

 

 

 

Into the Void Ref’s Notes 12

Atlas class freighter from Independence Games (link)

Session 12 was short and challenging to come up with and run. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how best to bring an “occasional” player character into the game for one session and make it feel organic. I’ve decided this coming year to have two or three guest players for sessions, and toward the end of the year bring everyone together for a big blowout. I can’t really deal with more than four regular players — it all just gets too complicated, and it is harder to get everyone together. BUT, having some guest players is a good thing.

So, our guest player was running the character Reginald Stormbringer, an ex-army badass. I spent a week making notes of game ideas and not liking any of them. Since it was a guest player session, it needed to be kind of a one-shot. It needed to have some action. BUT – I also wanted this game to set up a return to the unknown of the Void.  So I decided to put their old friend Zal Twist, the Exo-archaeologist, in harms way onboard a hijacked freighter, and have him meet Reggie onboard.

The trick to this session, and the mentally exhausting part, was keeping the flow moving with Reggie on the freighter and the players on the planet, whilst moving them toward a meeting point. It wall worked out, we got them all together, they saved Zal and the rest of the ship (though the freighter crew was all dead), and had a pretty good game.

A few notes:

  • Reggie got hit once by a submachine gun. They really hurt. Nearly took him out. Lesson learned, I think. Don’t get shot.
  • I think non-combat skills are really fun, and very necessary, in my game. They might be more helpful, in fact. On populated worlds it helps if each player has some kind of social skill. Gambling, carousing, admin, streetwise, bribery, whatever. Gives them some nice options.
  • I need to encourage my players to really explore crazy options that make use of all their skills. I had Flint make a Tactics roll and gave him some suggestions that resulted in Barney using his Vacc Suit skill to gain them access to the freighter.
  • It was fun to bring the Fast drug into this game, and to use Basic (the nutrient drink from the Dumarest novels) to revive Reggie after cold sleep.
  • Most of my players are long-time veterans of D&D and Champions. They are very much used to knowing their character sheets really well, and knowing how to use their skills and spells to greatest effect. I think because the Traveller PCs are so simple looking on the surface my players are not sure how to really take advantage of their skills and gear. They are still doing well, but I think they might have more fun if they were a bit more familiar with their characters and gear. I’ll help them develop this by putting them in difficult situations and let ’em depend on their own creativity to resolve things.
  • I still need to start bringing the character histories into the game more.

ITV Session 12: Space Rescue

IY6026.11

The freighter Star Slinger arrives in the Overon system, popping out of jump space 124 planetary diameters from the RCMP base planet. The ship, an Atlas class freighter carries mining equipment and supplies for the colony on Overon, but one of its massive cargo pods contains a special cargo – 120 religious colonists travelling Low on the way to the Void. Emerging from his cold sleep coffin, Lt. Col. Reginald “Reggie” Stormbringer takes a warm cup of Basic from the attending medic and surveys his surroundings. Still a bit disoriented from months in hibernation, the nutrient rich Basic quickly restores his strength. Reggies wonders where his gear might be.

On Overon, the members of SAFCO confer about their next course of action. They have salvaged a valuable starship power plant and dual pulse laser turret, and need to find a buyer. Research turns up the name Percius Pringle, a trader in starship salvage who operates a big operation on Overon. They seek Percy out, finding a chubby man with a ruby pinky ring. Percy accompanies them back to the ship to look at the merchandise. He offers them a choice, 500K for the power plant and 75K for the turret, OR beat him at a game of chance called Quirkle and get twice that much. LOSE, and he gets the salvage for free. Knowing that Percy has a reputation as a good gambler, Flint and Lucky opt for the first offer, and the team is 575K cr richer.  While at the ship, they recieve an x-boat relay transmission from their old friend Zal Twist, who says he is returning to the frontier aboard a freighter called the Star Slinger, and should be arriving in the Overon system at any time. Discovering that the ship is in-system on on a course for Overon, the team sends him a greeting.

Atlas class freighter.

Back on the Star Slinger, Reggie watches as the cult leader, known as Micah, addresses his flock. He invites Reggie to join them on their journey to Paradise. Reggie declines. Micah then invites an tall, skinny old bearded man, who also declines. Later, the old man introduces himself as scientist Zal Twist. Reggie and Zal get to know each other a bit. Some time passes, and Reggie hears the unmistakable sound of gunfire in the corridor outside the cargo pod. He has none of his gear. No weapons. 10 goons come into the cargo pod full of peaceful cultists, armed with submachine guns. They order everyone to their knees. Reggie and Zal decide to comply, and bide their time. They have no idea what the intention of the aggression is. The pirates demand that Micah show himself. After a little coaxing, Micah identifies himself. He is removed from the cargo pod and taken elsewhere. Everyone else is kept there under guard.

On Overon, SAFCO is aboard their Type A Merchant ship, and receive a distress call from the freighter Star Slinger, saying they have been boarded by pirates. The team is concerned because Zal is on board that vessel. Flint contacts RCMP administrator Tilton, and finds out there was a coordinated distraction far on the other side of the system, which drew the RCMP system defense boats very far away. If there is going to be a fast rescue, it will be up to SAFCO. Tilton assigns five company marines in combat armor to accompany the team and they take off, working on a plan during the 1-hour flight to rendezvous with the freighter.

Back on the Star Slinger, the pirates decide to move all the hostages to another cargo pod where still more passengers from the many low berths are being kept. As they step into the corridor, Zal falls and cries out that he’s broken his leg. The guard comes over and sticks his gun in the old man’s face. Reggie takes advantage of the situation, makes his Brawling roll, takes the gun and chokes the goon out. The other guards can’t get to him because of the panicking cultists in between them. “Can you walk?” Reggie asks Zal. “Of course my dear boy, I’m not injured! It was a clever ruse to give you opportunity to attack!” Reggie uses the goon’s body as a human shield, and backs up toward a bulkhead, Zal behind him. They open the bulkhead step through, and close it up tight. They see an iris valve portal in the ceiling of the lower deck, with a ladder leading up. They decide to go that way.

Knowing that the Star Slinger has a ships boat docked to its dorsal side, and that the merchant ship could use that docking spot, SAFCO approaches the freighter and is surprised to not come under fire. Barney and Lucky use vac suits to go over to the ships boat. Barney manages to use his ships engineering skill to manually release the docking ring. A blast of air pushes the ships boat away from the freighter as the clamps release. Roger makes his pilot roll and docks the merchant to the freighter.

Reggie and Zal pop up on the upper deck of the freighter only to see at least two more pirates with SMGs down the corridor. Reggie fires as does the first of the goons. Reggie misses, but the goon hits, the shot rendering Reggie unconscious. Zal grabs the autopistol Reggie took from the first guard and tries unsuccessfully to shoot the pirate. Reggies is going in and out of consciousness, and here’s Zal exclaim “that sounds like a ship docking!”.

The five armored marines drop into the freighter and split up, two going to the right and two going with Flint to the left. The ones going right encounter Zal, the unconscious Reggies, and the pirates. One takes care of Zal and Reggie, while the others easily defeat the other pirates. The marines are able to easily mop up the rest of the pirates. Reggie is taken to the ships sick bay and patched up, and given a dose of medical Fast to speed his recovery. The team searches the freighter, and discover that the pirates had hidden themselves in some shipping containers and taken Slow so that the jump would seem like only hours to them. When they came off the drug, the knew their accomplices would have drawn the RCMP security forces far away. There goal: they knew that Micah is from a very wealthy family, and they were trying to get him to pay them off to let him and the cultists go.

In appreciation, Micah gives Reggie the cost of three high passages. He offers to pay for some upgrades to SAFCO’s ship.

We end the session with the team still on board the freighter, reunited with Zal, deciding what to do as the freighter continues to Overon. Reggie will spend some time on Overon and see what opportunities present themselves.  Work with SAFCO? Perhaps. Zal likes him. The ships boat will be retrieved.

IY6026.116
1 day elapsed in this session
180 total game days elapsed.

 

 

 

SAFCOcast 8: Agent of the Imperium, Participation Announcement, and other Traveller stuff!

In Episode 8 we start with Mailbag! Thanks to everyone who has contacted us! Then we move on to Internet Finds and talk about some cook things on the internet! Then we talk about Marc Miller’s Agent of the Imperium. A fun talk!

Random Traveller Planet Creation Smackdown! Roll up a Traveller or Cepheus Engine world/system, describe it, and submit it here! We’ll read the entries on the next episode! Should be fun!

Links noted in the show…

Into the Void Ref’s Notes 11

A few notes about Into the Void session 11.

To start, every time we play now I can’t believe we are this far into a campaign now. We’ve been running this campaign for over a year, and though we’ve had some months when we didn’t play, we’ve been pretty regular. The goal has been been to play once a month, and we’ve done the best we can to make that happen. Again, this was about a 2.5 – 3 hour session, which seems about right.

We started this session where we left off on the previous session. In preparing for this game I honestly had no idea what the players would choose to do. I had some ideas. There given a possible Jump-2, there were three planets in range of their current position on Uetonah. Two they had previously visited, the third was fresh. I worked up a profile for that world as well as some encounters. I figured they needed to 1)manage to leave Uetonah in one piece, 2)go somewhere else, and 3)they’d want to sell the very valuable salvaged starship power plant and turret. An exciting get-away was called for, and the NPC Fardt the Gluck would figure prominently in that. They still had a lot of options, but I was ready. I had some encounters that would certainly present themselves as well as some possible encounters to drop in modularly, depending on where they went.

All if this is to help me NOT have to totally improvise. I’m just not that good at it. I need some parts to play with, then I can do my job as Ref.

Before the next session I want to write up ten interesting, useful, entertaining NPCs I can drop in. I want to also create a new list of science fiction tropes to drop into the game, and as always I need to remember to be highly descriptive.

We used the Cepheus Light rules for vehicle combat/dogfights. They worked quite well. Ship vs. three security speeders. Very, very fun. I was happy to allow Randy’s character, Roger, to use his Navigation skill to plot a stealth course out of the system, using the planet’s one moon to obscure their route. I did a “hidden” Nav roll for him. He knew I was making the roll, but would not know if his attempt worked until they were either out of the system or in combat with some system defense ships. As it was, they succeeded and managed to get away without having the ship blown up.

I need to go back over some things in Traveller Book 2 regarding ship combat. Though we’re using the Cepheus Light rules, I still need to remember things like 1)do dual or triple laser turrets get two or three to-hit rolls per shot (they do?), or that 2)Pulse lasers are at -1 to hit, but each hit gets two damage rolls. Stuff like that. I think I got all this right during the game, but it would be nice to not need to look it up. It’s not that complex.

I’m allowing some pretty cinematic actions. I think it makes the game more fun. Like in this session having Flint down a security speeder with a rifle and electronic scope. that was really cool and fun. I let Barney, with Engineering-3, make roll to temporarily boost the Maneuver drive up one level and get them to the Jump point a little faster. What use is it to have a “miracle worker” on the team if they can’t do cool stuff like that?

Looking forward to Session 12. The winter is here, the weather is crap. Perfect for reading science fiction and working on games.

ITV Session 11: Escape from Uetonah

IY6026.106

SAFCO is still on Ueotonah, started where we left off last game. The rebels have, with the help of SAFCO, defeated Samson Mining’s defence forces, but now find their location compromised. They will have to move to one of the other base locations they have scouted out. The rebels quickly begin evacuating the wrecked ship. SAFCO evaluates the ship for salvageable components. The rebels will be taking one large piece of equipment — and autoDoc with its own power source. SAFCO looks over the ship, and Barney determines that not only could they use some of the grav-pallets and tools to salvage the working dual pulse laser turret from the wreck, but also the ship’s power plant, worth several million credits even after decades on the ground. The Jump drive is likewise salvageable, but too big for the limited cargo space in the team’s modified Freetrader. Since they have discovered their original mission on the planet was based on a lie, salvaging these ship components will make the trip and the danger worthwhile.

Barney radios Fardt, back on the ship, gives him the coordinates, and tells him to prepare the ship to come get the crew and the gear upon notification.

The team spends the rest of the day removing the turret and power plant components and prepares them for travel. They go over options for their next destination.They have fuel for one Jump-2, which can get them back to Overon, coreward to the unnamed system they passed through weeks ago for gas giant refueling, or rimward to AT201, an orbital shipyard orbiting a rocky moon of a gas giant. They decide they’ll return to Overon where Flint can report to his contacts in RCMP of the status of the mining on Uetonah, tell Nora Slimjack the status of her son, and get them back toward the frontier and the Void. They can also try to sell their salvage there.

Barney radios Fardt to bring the ship. The novice pilot makes roll the get the ship off the ground. At in-astmosphere starship speeds it will not take Fardt long to get there.

As they wait Fardt calls on the radio. He sounds panicked. “Guys, we’ve got trouble. They tried to close the bay doors so I blasted through them, and now there are three security speeders chasing me and shooting!”. The team can hear the chaos. The security speeders are faster than the ship and very maneuverable, but Fardt had a head start. The team knows the direction they’ll be coming from. They decide to have Fardt slow down enough when he reaches they for the team to ride their grav bikes right into the cargo bay and join the fight.

Flint uses his binoculars and can see the ship approaching as well as the pursuers firing lasers. Fardt’s flying is so erratic they have not managed, from long range, to hit the ship. But they are closing. The team gets on the bikes and they leave the ground. Flint calmly uses the electronic site on his rifle to take aim on one of the speeders. He fires and hits it, blasting a hole in the cockpit windshield.

Fardt gets to the team slows down, and they fly into the cargo bay. Flint stops and takes one more shot before flying into the bay. Again he sights-in on the cockfit, fires, hits the pilot, and the speeder goes down!

Roger takes the controls and activates the automatic turret, Barney heads to the engine room, and Lucky goes to man one of the turrets. Ronda, Fardt, and the robot strap in. Flint stays by the cargo door, hoping to score another sniper shot with his rifle if one of the speeders comes into view.

The ship enters the dogfight with the two speeders (We use Cepheus Light dogfight rules). The speeders have little armor and will likely blow up with one laser strike, but they are fast and very hard to hit. Roger activates the Manuver/Evade-2 program to enhance his pilot skills and Predict-2 to assist Lucky with the laser turret.

After two rounds of combat the team has missed the speeders with each shot. The speeders, meanwhile, have scored hits on the ships power plant and computer, reducing the performance of each. Finally they score a hit, blowing up one of the speeders, showering the jungle below with debris. Having lost his two partners, speeder pilot 3 decides to break off pursuit and get out of there. The team pursues, blowing him from the sky as well.

With no pursuers, SAFCO finds a place to hide on the planetary surface and attempt repairs to the ship. Barney is able to effect repairs to the power plant, using parts from the salvaged power plant, to return it to its Power Plant-B status long enough to get them to Overon. Lucky, with Barney consulting, is able to repair the computer.

Now the question — how to leave the planet? There are likely some system defense boats in the system. Best not to meet up with them. The planet has one moon. They consider their options, and decide to try using a carefully plotted trajectory out of the system, using that moon to hide their exit from the planet. The GM makes a secret Nav roll for Roger to determine how good the course is. Barney makes an engineering roll, and manages to boost the maneuver drive up one level for the time it takes the ship to get to the Jump point. The man is a miracle worker! Turns out their plan and course is good! They are able to exit the system to the minimum Jump distance without detection.

The ship reaches the jump point, and a course for Overon is layed-in. No mis-jump. The team spends a week in Jump Space. They arrive in the Overon system.

Flint reports on Samson Mining to his RCMP contact R. Tilton. Roger finds Nora Slimjack at the Mooch Mine and tells her that Jason is fine, and apparently on Uetonah of his own free will. Flint gets the name of a trader on Overon with whom to try to sell the salvaged turret and power plant. The team gathers for relaxation at the Mooch Mine. All is well…for now.

End of Session.

IY6026.115
7 days elapsed in this session
179 total game days elapsed.

What’s Up?

October has been pretty busy. We had to cancel our Traveller game last weekend and reschedule for this coming weekend, the first weekend in November. Such is life. I don’t like cancelling, but it was my fault! Had too much to do and not enough time, as usual.

I did manage to read three science fiction novels during October, which is always good inspiration for Traveller games and podcast topics. I read a Robert Silverberg novel called “the Man in the Maze” and two Dumarest of Terra novels. Nice and short. Good adventures, and fodder for Traveller sessions no doubt.

I did get the new Traveller 5 hardback books in the mail! I participated in the Kickstarter, and Marc Miller sure did deliver. The books are very nice, and at first scanning seem to be well organized. I’m sure there are some typos and omissions, but as Marc explained in his session at Lone Star Game Expo, this set is a toolbox. It is massive, but contains all the stuff you need and all that you MIGHT want. Kind of like taking all the old supplements and putting them in one set. I’m very happy with the quality. Not sure when I might use them. I’m very happy with the current campaign and don’t really want to go back and change things to T5.  But for a future campaign I might.

I’ve looked over a number of science fiction RPGs lately. Most are very setting-specific. Honestly, most are kind of dumb. They look like the could be fun, but they don’t look sophisticated like Traveller.

 

 

SAFCOcast 7: Interview with John Watts, of Gypsy Knights Games

After a quick review of the SAFCO mail bag and discussion of a couple of internet finds, we are honored to present our interview with John Watts, of Gypsy Knights Games, author of the Clement Sector and associated books compatible with Cepheus Engine and useful with any 2d6 science fiction RPG (our words, not his).

Relevant links mentioned in the podcast:

Marc Miller at GaryGon 2019
https://youtu.be/OCnMaR-mD-s

Stellar Reaches: Traveller site with great free PDF fanzine.
https://stellarreaches.wordpress.com/issues/

How to Steal a Spaceship”
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ePq88UEMkiQ83p4h86KKGBeRDJJE51g27u0ac8io2Wc/edit

New from Felbrigg Herriot:  Medico Service on DriveThroughRPG
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/290267

Traveller Con coming up – This weekend!  (Oct 11th)
http://www.travellercon-usa.com/schedule-of-events.html

Gaming materials created by Michael Brown
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/9030/Michael-Brown?term=Michael+brown