Some good Youtube channels

I have spent some time over the last few days watching gaming videos on Youtube on the 65″ HD TV.  I rarely even watch anything but movies on it, and I was amazed at the quality of a couple of Traveller-related channels.

First, CyborgPrime‘s channel is really well done.

Next, Seth Skorkoski‘s channels is excellent and entertaining. Seth inserts just enough humor into his videos. It works without being annoying.

Both have great information.

CCC 11: Marquis Leonard Lenaris

System: Classic Traveller
Setting: Homebrew — Into the Void
3 terms Noble,  age 30
Air Raft-1, Bribery-1, Dagger-2, Carousing-1

Gear: 70,000 cr,  dagger, fancy clothes, Bolt-3000 racing Air Raft (very fast)

Marquis Leonard Lenaris of planet Titania should have been born a few hundred years earlier, when his family’s influence and wealth were at their height. Back then, being the Marquis really meant something. Sadly his grandfather ruined their finances.  Leonard eventually found himself with an expensive estate, not enough money coming in, and no prospects of turning things around. Only his longstanding connections have allowed him to retain his estate, which is slowing falling into ruin around him, as he concentrates on going to parties and racing his Bolt-3000 air raft in the Noble’s Circuit.

Leonard is 6’1″ tall, weighs in at a lean 185 lbs, looks good in his fancy clothing, and has long curly black hair. He has not mustered out, still being active in his chosen profession of noble hedonism.


CCC 8: Rooth Adamson

System: Classic Traveller
Setting: Homebrew — Into the Void
3 terms Barbarian,  rank 4, age 30
Blade-2, Repeating Crossbow-1, Streetwise-1, Recon-2, Survival-1,

Gear: 2000 cr, blade, sword, repeating crossbow, IR goggles, advanced TL-12 armor (see below)

Rooth grew up in the bombed-out slums of the savage criminal haven planet of Pelucidar, on the fringe of known space. Natives there are thought of as barbarians by most civilized planets, and the criminal elements that use the planet as a base of operations and recruitment center like it that way. In her youth Rooth served as a recon scout for her “tribe”, eventually becoming one of the most effective hand-to-hand fighters in her region, raiding both enemy clans and criminal outposts for supplies. Eventually she was captured by weapons smugglers. During the capture she killed 5 men in close quarters combat before being brought down by a gas grenade. Rather than execute her, the smugglers gave her a chance to work for them as muscle, which she did until killing her bosses and making her escape into the underworld of planet Zapata. While still uneducated, her remarkable intelligence has allowed her to prosper.

Rooth is 5’11” tall, with a heavily muscular frame and shoulder length blond hair. Her face sports a scar across her right cheek. She normally wears a TL-12 suit that incorporates an internal layer of heat dissipating mesh, giving her protection of mesh and reflec. The armor appears to be normal clothing made of a synthetic leather.

Rooth is good-natured, but by virtue of her upbringing is no-nonsense and has no problem resorting to violence when she deems it appropriate.

CCC 3: Alro Rupalian

System: Classic Traveller
Setting: Homebrew — Into the Void
4 terms Bureaucrat Rank 2 (currently serving)
Age 34
Dagger-2, JOT-1, Admin-3, Computer-1, Air Raft-1

Alro Rupalian is very, very smart, and always knew how to work the system. It came naturally. So when he finished basic studies the University of Zapata the Imperial Service Exam presented him no problem.  Alro is big and strong, but that is where his physical assets end.  Poorly coordinated and with even worse endurance, Alro prefers pursuits of the mind. Still, a bureaucrat must be able to defend himself, so he trains regularly with a dagger he keeps hidden in his right boot.

Originally stationed in the Imperial liaison office in the downport on Faustus, he found the ranks there crowded and cluttered with officers who really needed to retire but would not. Alro deftly arranged a transfer to Imperial office on Mylor, on the frontier, where opportunities for advancement would grow.

Alro’s greatest skill is his knack for understanding, navigating, and exploiting organizational systems.

Alro is 5’8″ tall, has black hair and a thin black mustache. He wears his Imperial field liaison uniform, and keeps a hand computer in a belt case.

Traveller Ref’s Go-Kit

Here’s my Go Kit for reffing Traveller. All I need.

Left to right:

  • Small 3-ring binder with 8.5 x 5.5 sheets. Contains copies of rules from various Traveller and Cepheus Engine books I commonly need, character record sheets, note about my setting, star maps. Print out of scenarios may be found folded in the pockets.
  • 8.5 x 5.5 graph paper notebook. I draw my maps in this and have my notes for the game session.
  • Dice – I usually keep 16 six-sided dice, though 2 will do.
  • Pen
  • The Classic Traveller Facsimile Edition – contains all three of the 1981 edition with errata inserted.

Traveller RPG gear

5e, and Traveller coming up

One of the guys in my Traveller group has been working to convert his old AD&D 1e/2e homebrew setting to 5e, and this past week we played our first game. I’m very happy that my wife is playing. I ran a 2e game for her and some friends in about 1993, so she has played before. The group is our Traveller groups plus my wife and the DM’s wife (who has played a lot, and is a good player).

I have to say there are some changes in 5e from the versions I’m familiar with that I really like. I would always be up for a 1e or 2e game, but honestly the first session was very fun and I’m looking forward to a long campaign. The books and materials are a lot slicker than the old versions. It is now a “media product” in many ways, but I think that like most RPGs the quality of play is dependent on the GM and players.

5e is a very combat-centered game, I think. And that’s fine. I’m playing a magic-user, and I’m trying to use trickery and whatnot to support the party more than throwing damage-causing spells. I’ll have to throw a few, because that’s just the nature of the game, but I think I can find a balance that I’ll enjoy.

After months of being busy and kind of preoccupied by home remodeling, I am finally running my Classic Traveller campaign again next month. Looking forward to that.


Traveller Session Prep Process

I spent the evening revisiting Classic Traveller game encounters and whatnot that I wrote 2 months ago, for a session that was put off last month, that we will play next weekend.

Reworked them so they make a bit more sense. Part of the process is to make sure there are opportunities for each of the player characters to contribute to the game using their unique skills or simply the interests of the player. I do this for every game, and SAFCO always surprises me with what they decide to do anyway. But at least I’m ready with something.

Tomorrow I’ll go back over the material, add embellishments, complications, challenges, and more possible twists and turns. Once that is all done, I look at everything I go back in one more time and add in more descriptive elements to insure a science fiction atmosphere. I also look at it to make sure nothing is going to straight-up blow up the campaign, like having the PCS acquire too much money, etc.

ITV Session 19: the Alien Complex


Session starts where we left off. Half the team is investigating the remains of an alien complex they have discovered, and half is on the way in the ship.

In the complex, Flint and Lucky use the drone to scout down the corridors of the complex. They encounter no dangers other than the green slime in various places, and once they get into corridor leading up to the previously discovered control room there is none. Lucky uses the universal translator to try to find out of the green slime is sentient. A smart move. No sign of intelligence of any kind is detected It’s just slime.

As they explore, Roger, Art, Barney, and Joe are on their way in the ship. Art and Joe pick up another drone heading toward them. Roger makes his Pilot roll, and throws the ship into a corkscrew flight path. As the drone approaches and fires, Barney fires one dual pulse laser turret and Art fires the automated one. They score hits, while the drone misses. Its control computer damaged, the drone flies out of control and is destroyed. They continue toward the complex. Arriving, they see the disabled air-raft. Roger lands the ship, and with the assistance of the mining pod and the robot are able to get the vehicle on board. Barney enters the complex to assist with evaluating it and powering up the alien computers.

Roger takes the ship and finds the big cube ship that has landed in the forest nearby. The crew onboard the ship is able to destroy it before it can launch additional drones.  The return to the complex site and enter.

Barney evaluates what he sees. It appears to be an engineering and power station. Three vats empty into pipes which disappear down another corridor. He says they are like intended to supply injectants to some kind of reactor.

Inside the control room, the team has had Zal use the universal translator artifact to evaluate the control panels. He’s not an engineer and can’t tell much, but he is able to read the notations of the panels and confirm it is some kind of power regulation system. Barney arrives, and they decide to try to power up the panels. The take the power supply out of the robot, and Barney is able to using his massive Engineering skill to make things work.

While the team works on that project, Flint uses the drone to explore the chamber containing the reactor. Using the multispectral scanners of the drone, he can tell that there is a tiny fissure on the containment vessel and describes if to Barney via radio. Barney says there is probably some kind of spinning core in there, still emitting some radiation, and when it passes that fissure it is creating the signal they picked up that lead them here.  The chamber is full of the green slime, and Art deduces the slime must be feeding on the radiation. At this point there isn’t enough radiation to harm the team.

Barney manages to power up the computers, and is able to use the universal translator to gain some info about the installation. He finds that this planet was inhabited by a race called the Drysti, who were descended from avian stock. They attained TL-11, explored space, and attracted the attention of the Enemy. The never saw the Enemy, and lacked the technology to defend themselves. The Enemy destroyed their outposts in the subsector, and finally bombarded this planet with asteroids, scrubbing it. This was a power station on the outskirts of a large military base, which was destroyed by an asteroid strike. While there is no navigation info on the remains of this computer system, they do find some cultural info on the Drysti, which they download for Zal. Barney also finds a stand-down code with which the team can power down the robotic security forces they’ve encountered — still functioning and self-maintaining for many centuries.

The planet now relatively safe, the team returns the ship to the shelter they had previously discovered, and begin pre-jump maintenance.

End Session
Elapsed game time: 217 days


Into the Void Ref’s Notes 17

This was the first session in which I really tried to randomize things and play things a bit more sandbox style. I’ve never been very comfortable with doing things that way, but felt like I needed to stretch myself and see where things went.

I created a few different tables, all rolled on 1d6. The tables were (or are, since I’m still using them)…

  • Potential landing sites
  • Animal encounters
  • Alien nemesis encounters
  • Planetary features of interest

I had the players roll to determine which possible landing sites they found, and I used the others to create the story. Pretty much the way one would use some of the tables in the Little Black Books, but I’m not fast enough with those and it would take too long.

One benefit of doing things this way (for me) is that I feel less like I’m railroading the players. It also tests my ability to think on my feet, which I’m not super happy with. I need practice. I made a few mistakes I’m going to correct in the next session. Yet another benefit of short sessions — this one was two hours. Beside fixing things I’ve messed up, since this was a short session the actions of the players and the way things developed have given me some ideas for the next game. So cool.

Challenges .  In this case, the party decided that several player characters would stay at the ship while the rest went off exploring. This is fine, but it isn’t easy to engage players that are simply at the ship doing Jump drive maintenance.  So I had to come up with some things to get them engaged. Not easy. However, I think the exploration party is in a big enough mess now that the characters at the ship are going to need to help out.

I don’t know what the PCs are going to do in the next session. They could do anything. But in this game their actions helped me figure out a few things about this planet,  so I think I can have plenty of ways to react no matter what they decide. What I need to do is plan a couple of jumps ahead. For all I know they may decide to take off and risk a no-maintenance jump just to get out of this system. So I need to be prepared.


ITV Session 17: the Blasted World


The team begins in orbit of a planet just outside the Great Nebula of the Void, having met three apparently robotic defense drone ships as they entered the system, on their way to a gas giant to refuel.

The plant is small, size 4, and readings from orbit reveal a thin but breathable atmosphere. From space they see massive cratering, but no radiation. They assume this indicates some intentional asteroid bombardment in the distant past. No signs of prior civilization are apparent from orbit.

Given the 50% hydro rating of the planet, the team decides to scoop water from the ocean to get fuel, then find a sheltered place to land and do drive maintenance. They skim the coastline. Flint and Joe look for possible good tactical landing spots for the ship. Flint spots a deep canyon with a river that empties into the ocean, while Joe spots a massive crater that extends from the coast in the the water, guessing it is the previous site of a city.

Zal and the Baroness express interest in the crater site, thinking they might do some exploration and perhaps find something of archaeological significance. The team decides to land near the crater, where they find a rocky overhang that will hide the ship from orbital surveillance and provide protection from the weather. They land.

Barney begins drive and ship maintenance, along with Roger, Art, and Joe, while Flint, Lucky, Fardt, Zal, and the the Baroness take the air raft to go exploring.

Barney discovers the water they skimmed, and thus the fuel, was tainted. He makes an Engineering roll and is able to purify it enough for use. Joe makes a tactics roll, and uses his mechanic skill to set up some scanners outside the overhang, to monitor anything in the atmosphere.

Over the course of a couple of hours, the exploration team finds an unnatural source of radiation. Nothing dangerous, but above the planet’s normal background. What’s more, it is emitting in a repeating pattern. Conferring with the ship, Barney says it sounds like a decaying reactor core that has been breached.  The team sends their drone down, and they find what looks like a tunnel in the sloped wall of the deep crater. They find a place to land the air raft about 50′ from the opening and get out to explore.

Back at the ship, Roger and Joe see two objects on the sensors enter the atmosphere. One seems to be heading toward the location of the exploration team. They notify the team.

Venturing into the ruined corridor, the team sees lot of rubble as well as a slightly glowing slime in patches on the walls and floor. They are going to try to get back to the ship now, knowing about the incoming object, but Flint takes a minute to gather a sample of the slime. When he touches it, the slime expels a puff of sports into his face. Luckily he is wearing his respirator. No harm done. As the team gets back to the entrance they see a cube-shaped probe hovering about 20′ away from the entrance, 6′ off the ground. Lucky and Flint take shots at it, hitting its power cells and blowing it up. They exit the corridor to find the air raft disabled, apparently by a laser from the now destroyed probe.

End of session

Elapsed game time: 217 days