Saturday, January 19, 2019

A Vargr and an Aslan walk into a bar...

Well, actually, the group only has a Vargr. Working on prepping for session 3. There may be a bar involved so  I am checking to see if a perhaps excessively large Lego collection can work for miniatures. Maybe I can play the Star Wars Cantina song in the background, but there is no band. Maybe a holographic on the big square behind the counter.

I also purchased the Diverse Roles career book from Gypsy Knight Games as they were having a sale in honor of John Watts moving full time into publication. Fortunately I had the rules and core setting book (from a Bag of Holding Sale - apparently I am not only a sucker for Kickstarter but also sales!). Those are required to use the book fully (which is good as I was having problems following the Space Patrol book from Stellagama Publishing - as they both use the same core Cepheus Engine rules I can now figure that out as well).  I bring this up as that book has, amongst the other careers, an Organized Crime career. As the players found some leads, and I have some angry characters, I feel they may follow up on the leads. And for that I need some organized crime NPCs and a bar so we can have a fun bar fight. If we actually get there, the plan is for damage to be only temporary and heal faster than normal unless real weapons come out.  Then all bets are off.

One of the player's characters is a Barbarian from Planet Bob, aka Pax Stellar. The character is unaware that he has nanites in his system and that's what lets him talk with his mechanical pet / familiar (I think there is a post somewhere with some images from a Kickstarter book that I am incorporating into MTU). I've not decided yet if he will have slightly faster healing abilities or not - I don't want a super hero game, but do like little positive quirks for the players. We'll play that by ear.

The bar is from something I found years ago and for some reason printed out. It is finally getting used.

I also have a few games with miniatures - I need to see if those may work as well. In fact, that is the primary reason I backed the Zombicide SF game (and can't recall the name now) - it has a lot of minis, and several fit well within the Traveller Universe. The game mechanics are also pretty fun (basically a B-grade zombie movie, and the game is cooperative: either you all win or you all die. Usually die.)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Session 2 Game Recap: From Q'Antar to D'Arlee

We had a different set of players out sick the last session. But to recap our adventure to date:

The first session brought the Travellers to the Q'Anatar starport, consisting of a few ferrocrete landing pads and four beat up 30 ton modules. Met at the port by the port staff, all three of them, the sheriff and one Lenard Catlow, they discovered a larger plot, found strong evidence of ill-deeds at the Catlow Range, and gathered some leads as to contacts on D'Arlee.

Finn's Tripper, an AL2m Dione class Far Trader, had just returned from picking up cargo from several other proving sites to be shipped back to D'Arlee. While our Travellers had no credits, being the victims of the skill-jacking crew. the doctor's assistant, Sabsawa, did have a credit card, and managed to book passage on the ship.  The 3 prisoners were transferred to the low berths to stand trial and whatever is needed on D'Arlee as there are no facilities on Q'Antar for prisoners. With a population of just 10 people living in a pseudo-steam punk western world, its all they can do to farm and get by at times. The mayor/sheriff/judge Agerimo Cigomas, packed in all the evidence and added quite a letter condemning  Lenard Catlow.

The Travellers are brought aboard, weapons stored in a locker next to the starboard air lock, and presented their rooms. Sabsawa immediately sets the humidity of her room to the maximum allowed by the environmental system.

At a suggestion from Qat, the ship's launch is delayed while the crew reviews the cargo to verify that there are no EMPs involved on this trip. After an extensive search, the cargo is cleared, and the ship launches. They make an easy transition to jump, and during the week, do general cleanup as best they can, as they are wearing a mismatching set of clothing they got from the initial proving grounds.

As we were missing a couple of people, including the character whose ship they were going to, we decided to go and end that session as they come out of jump space, and view the bustling world of D'Arlee.

D'Arlee is the capital of the quadrant and has over 10 billion inhabitants. It has a very busy class A starport.  I may play with some ideas posted on G+ about exiting the port: they will need to roll the local government level or above (or was that law level?) to get an exist visa to the planet itself. Admin, advocate and social class may all help, so I believe that the part will be able to get to the planet and follow up on the leads they discovered early on.

As a test, I am seeing if I can embed a PDF in this post. I tend to overdo setting things up that never get used, but as it is what I do for fun, it is all good. I've not detailed the startown much beyond a few locations I am snagging from the BITS Rendezvous book, just trying to establish broad impressions of various areas. The whole MOAN (Map Only As Needed) principle. Except that I really enjoy mapping More Than I Will Ever Use :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Traveller Tracker Ideas

I do believe I am going to start yet again, but this time possibly via a self-hosting web API. The advantage of this, assuming I actually follow through, is that using the latest .Net stuff it should run on Windows, Linux and Macs. And if I can get it down to a simple installer, bypasses a bunch of issues with the UWP. It also means all the XAML (UI framework) goes away and I go full web. Which I really need to learn.

I've not fully decided - the option for just a more generic Windows program is also still there and would be easier for me in some ways. Especially if I can figure an installer.

And there is still the "really clean up the mess I've made" in the existing program. Get a better UI, fix the cargo process which tried to stuff 3 different versions into a single thing with far too many checks.  I think a unified cargo generator backend makes more sense, and perhaps I really should start with that. Of course, that still requires a UWP, but I may start with simply "enter the UWP here" and generate the cargo from that.

So many decisions. And so little time. I prefer spending my time prepping and actually playing Traveller finally after a long break. But as previously mentioned, my son will be off to college in a few months, meaning I will probably have too much time on my hands again to go with that whole empty nest thing.

Pretty sure very few people read this blog except for the ones I share on G+ (which will be going away soon - I'll probably have to craft a post to share indicating that I will still be adding posts here and submitting stuff to COTI, but that will be about it as I do not use Facebook, and I really don't need to try & join up with one of the far too many other little hosting sites that some people are moving to.)

And I may even open up the Trello board and get real feedback from users - meaning I need to have something that they can actually install & use w/o too much difficulty. *sigh*

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Viota - Startown of D'Arlee

D'Alee supports both a high port and ground facilities. D'Arlee Down shares some space with the Naval port for some common facilities, particular craft that are not pure Naval vessels such as the soon to be transferred lab ship.  D'Arlee down covers about 300 square kilometers on the outskirts of Viota, which has, over the last hundred or so years, become more of a traditional startown than the original city planners may have wanted.

Baor River bisects Viota into two main sections nicknamed Startown West and Startown East. Across the river, in Startown West, lies the main warehouse district. This area contains hundreds of warehouses ranging from a bare roof on metal trusses to fortified cargo depots. South of this, the business district contains brokers and businesses supporting the port as well as the Naval port. Brokers, bars, Naval recruitment centers and other professional facilities form the core of this section. As you head south and west, the businesses become less savory, and the traders and brokers may trade in things best unmentioned. This section of town, nicknamed the Skids. has bars of loose morals and rumors of criminal elements are not far from the truth. The police and Navy military patrols occasionally pass through, but this is a favorite haunt of Naval personnel as well as trader crews on leave when on D'Arlee.

Startown West, as you move out from the warehouse district, has the better quality suppliers and more uptown offices. This is the area the D'Alee government maintains business dealings with the ports, and police are more visible. Moving further west, as you approach Lake Kian and its estates, houses and businesses are farther apart and more luxurious. Most residences are fenced, and some may have military grade defenses in place according to rumors.

Viota has approximately 150,000 residents in the city and the neighboring suburbs.

I used the RPG City Map generator to create the city, then Google Draw to add text and the ports. The city generator also lets you save the image into smaller, more detailed images. So while the main image is 3200 pixels, I also exported 16 (4x4) images also at that resolution.  So I can plans the mean streets of Viota depending on what the players end up doing.  I see gun fights as a possibility, although with a law level of 8, not sure how that will actually happen!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Game Prep after getting slighty off the rails

As the game went a bit sideways, but not nearly as bad as it could have, I need to prep for the next session.  As they have uncovered the majority of the plotting going on, managed to get some contacts over on D'Arlee for the dark web of skill jackers, I probably need to expand out that criminal element a bit.

I did use the characters from the Moon Toad book as the ship crew, and printed up my cheat sheet with images and a brief blurb on the front, and skills and notes on the back. I may even cut it up - it is basically a 2 column, 3 row sheet that has each NPC on an index card sized piece. That way, when playing, I could just have that particular card in front of me to let the players know who I am at that moment (as I cannot fake accents or anything).

While normally I would add that image here, I think it is too much of that book so I won't do that, I'll have to have another image as blog posts with pictures tend to do better :)

Anyway, for the next session, I've got the ship and crew prepped for the journey - they may be recurring or not, but for the moment they are just transportation to D'Arlee. For D'Arlee itself I need to expand it out a bit, possibly generate the seedy side of town if they are going to pursue the leads they got on Q'antar, and also prep the Navy hand-off of the lab ship, along with all the responsibilities that they will also have.

One of the issues with this group is that they are mostly D&D players, or other games where they get better stats and abilities as they play. Traveller does not work that way, and so a couple seem a bit disheartened by not being able to become super characters. Hopefully we can figure it out - they are getting an unarmed ship, so perhaps a small boarding action at some point to indicate perhaps arming the ship would be a good idea. And paying the crew will be important, although the Navy does have a job for them on the longer-term game play that involves our Barbarian player whose blood is full of nanites. I just don't want it to boil down to accountants in space!

I'll probably detail out some locations and the criminal part in the next day or so as they may get there Monday depending on how we finish up on Q'antar. As I've also got the BITS 101 Rendezvous, I can certainly incorporate some of those. I knew my Traveller hoarding could pay off!

D'Arlee from a sunny orbit (or perhaps from all the GPS image sats):

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Session 1: Discoveries

We pick up our Travellers soon after they get picked up by the Katydid. The flight back had our heroes with guns on the kidnappers, finally getting some of the details of what went happened.

I attempted to play the NPCs as well as I could, using some notes from the COTI group.  So while there were no monologues, at least there was some conversation. They spilled the beans as much as they could, although they are only a small part of the entire kidnapping chain. Had to do some adlibbing as I had some vague notions of the larger plot, but decided to wait to see how things unfolded during play. Plans and players, we all know that drill.

They are met at the port by the sheriff / mayor and the port crew. Having some lockable rooms in the lounge module, they march the prisoners there. Sayelle lets it be known that the gentleman waiting near the air raft is often a customer, and is more in charge of the process than they are. They are simply hired muscle.  The sheriff goes down to talk with the gentleman, and as she turns to walk back inside, he makes a run for it in his air raft. While the sheriff tries a quick draw shot and misses, Max manages to take well enough aim to hit the air raft, disabling one of the grav engines. The air bag explodes and pins Lenard briefly to the vehicle.

Another conversation occurs, and some contacts on D'Arlee are given. The doctor knocks Lenard out and they take the air raft to his spread, some 100km south of the port. There, after some exploration, they discover the Scout ship in the hangar, and the 4 cells in the basement. They also find the lab were he was experimenting with the creeper venom, which is also why he needed the occasional guinea pig. That probably would have been Osrum's fate. That entire scene was also adlibbed - the plan was for Lenard to get away and become some sort of potential recurring bad guy.  They also find a computer and take it back to the port.

With no one having any computer skills, the force Lenard to open the system up, and decrypt the drives. They find some mention of the League of Planets, and some sort of criminal group that is kidnapping Imperial citizens as an indentured labor class. The sheriff is quite willing to take the Scout ship, and she is also the judge, can easily sentence the bad guys. Although her long term plan is to get the Imperial authorities involved as they have no ready penal system. For a planet of 10 people it has never been needed.

I believe everyone had a pretty good time, although we were short a few people due to illness. It looks like there will be 5 players in total.

I've also got Max's background, which is well done and gives me some potential hooks.

Next week we'll probably manage the jump to D'Arlee on the A2L trader which is about to make landing, and then they can go over the fancy lab ship and be greeted by the Navy crew turning over the ship, along with a request that will pay salaries and supplies for a bit. Assuming that they take the offer, which is just that: an offer to underwrite about 4-8weeks of their time and effort. Plus, it will help Osrum explore more of Planet Bob, otherwise known as Pax Stellar.

Below is a test for an NPC card with some hints to how to play her. Comes from the Flatlined Mongoose adventure, which was translated to the D'Arlee Quadrant.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Game Prep part II

As I left the luxury lab ship one jump away, after the Travellers deal with the events of Q'antar, they will need transportation. As we have a lot of characters, Travis' Scout ship the Katydid would not suffice for that jump. I'll go with it would overload the life support system (there are about 6 players and at least 1 NPC to make the trip. Plus Travis, so 8 people on a 4 person ship would be both crowded and strain the life support).

Looking through my existing resources, I have several ships that could take them, but none that would have any real reason to be at the back-end of nowhere planet. No reason for a passenger liner to be dropping by a planet with a dozen people living on it. Not much in the way of a bulk hauler, and the ones I have don't have much in the way of accommodation. Checking out a couple of the ships I used previously as Scout ships, none would support that number of people.

I dug back a bit more - I do have more than just those 0-Hr maps and minis. And I do like Classic Traveller.  And then I remembered I bought the Moon Toad Publishing book, the A2L Trader. Basically larger versions of the Marava class trader. That book, and others I have bought from them, are most excellent as well. Well laid out, sharp, usable deck plans (unlike the horrible isometric Mongoose plans which you just can't use and basically are a waste of paper. At least in my opinion).  So the Dione Class A2Lm Far Trader is perfect: a 300 ton trader with jump 2 and space for 6-12 passengers. And, I am working in Antares Ship Builders and Trade Speculators: this ship will be one of the dozens of ship owners who work with ASB&TS for the brokerage system. Bringing in more of my background to fit into this sandbox. Plus I have a mini of a Marava class ship that also fits on the printed starport map.  Yay for visuals!

So without further ado, below is a small screen shot of the handout. Printed on tablet sized paper it almost fits 15mm minis. The back contains the ship stats. I'll also borrow all the characters in the book for the ship crew. As it has a Vargr engineer and there are 2 players with Vargr characters, that could be fun.