Sunday, September 18, 2022

Cowboys and Dinos - Random Encounters

I've been building up my random encounter tables for the game. Based on things they have sent in as ideas as well as my own stuff. No real DMs based on location - seems to me like the old Traveller random encounters tables that encounters need to be tailored to where they are happening. That is, closer to towns and things the more likely to encounter people, further out, dinosaurs and, depending on the location, Indians. 

Still a work in progress as I sort of think through some ideas for Monday's game. We'll probably have a couple encounters and either near Chisum's or just a day or two out. And hopefully everyone will level up by the end of this session. As I still need to create the big bad for this part, but it won't be as simple as it has been so far. If everyone has not leveled up (and in Apex the progressions differ between classes, as well as potentially even more with stat bonuses if they have them for XP. Not sure anyone has any bonuses for that but I could be wrong. Why I really need a GM version of each character's sheet with basic info on defense, HP, stats, traits)

Based on this map, it took 2 days for them to get to the dino encounter with the Pawnee's herd. A rough gauge says 8-10 days to get where they need to go to "take care of" Chisum. We'll see how that goes as he is a wealthy cattle baron and has dozens of cowboys working for him. Which also means I may need to make some maps of his ranch. Love to make maps.

Random Encounter Tables


Basic Encounter - may require another table

1

Rattlesnake

2

Pack of desert wolves

3

Small herd of dinosaurs (roll on dino-table below)

4

Single dinosaur, wounded (roll on dino-table below)

5

Nesting dinosaur (roll on dino-table below)

6

Herd of bison

7

Sasquatch (WIS check to see at disadvantage; tracks?)

8

Ancient ruins with odd coins, and a map that looks like the Spires

9

Bad Weather

10



Random Dinosaur Encounters

1

Magyarosuarus (p139) HP: 36  Defense: 10 Reduction: 4 Attacks: Stomp +4 1d12

2

Triceratops (p138) HP: 48 Defense: 12 Reduction: 4 Attacks Horns +4 1D10 Stomp +4 1d6

3

Chasmosauris (p138) HP: 40 Defense 12 Reduction 4 Attacks Horms +4 1d8, Stomp +4 1d6)

4

Ultraraptor (p137) HP 28 Defense 12 Reduction 2 Attacks Claws +8, 2d6

5

Ornithomius (p137) HP 20 Defense 15 Reduction 1 Attacks Claws +7, 1d10

6

T-Rex (p140) HP: 90 Defense 15 Reduction: 6 Attacks: Chomp +12, 2d12

7

Herd of PARASAUROLOPHUS (2d6). Can hear from the sounds of their horns

8

Pack of compsognathus 2d8 (page 135)

9

Flock of citipati 16d + 2 (p135)

10


11


12



Weather table

1

Dust Storm

2

Tornado

3

Wind Storm

4

Flash Flood

5

Wildfire

6

Hailstorm

 


Friday, September 16, 2022

Cowboys & Dinosaurs - Session 8

With the disadvantage that Molly & Volgol caused, and using the Apex chase rules, our heroes got to the 50+ head of dinosaurs being herded to Aurora well before the rustlers. A mix of mostly triceratops with some raptors. there were also about 10 Indians driving the herd. Molly got in touch with the Indians, and fortunately at least 1 spoke English. After a quick conference, she took back off to find her friends while one of the Indians peeled back to get behind the rustlers. 

Catching up to Hambone, Jack and Lee, Molly got everyone caught up. Soon, the thunder of dinosaurs trotting along was heard and our characters set themselves up. The herd started getting through, with Jack stationed behind some boxwoods on one side, Lee on the other, and Hambone moving forward a bit more. Molly circled above and was the initial target of the 8 rustlers. Using her dodge skill, and despite several volleys, she managed to get through the round unscathed. Shooting back, she got a hit or two in, then Jack, Lee and Hambone started shooting as well. It was a bit difficult to choreograph what was happening, but I used another Google drawing to get at least an abstract idea of where everyone was.

The battle was again fairly short, and again, only Jack got hit. He is a magnet for bullets apparently, I rolled for each rustler as to who he would shoot at, and the only ones that hit were shooting at Jack. Even with disadvantage for being behind some cover (and I need to see if there are actual rules for that: either disadvantage or increase the defense value would both be viable options). He got hit twice for some fairly serious damage, but between Hambone's barbering skills and Lee's acupuncture and knowing the chi points, he was close to being fully healed in short order. And Lee finally got to use one of the martial arts skills to avoid getting shot after he was shot: he has that ability if he makes a successful save which he did.


While the post-battle cleanup was going on, a lone horse was heard galloping up. Eventually they see it is Sister Cicely, the nun Hambone kissed. She was off chasing after "her" man. And now dressed in a gingham dress. Hambone was a tad flummoxed and the others tried to stay away. While his attempts are explaining things were not going well, along came Father McClurty, Bible in one hand and a rifle in the other. How he was riding his horse is a question that was never answered.

Father McClurdy

More discussions, and eventually the good Father and hopefully the once-and-future sister Cicely head back to Aurora, Hambone promising to have a talk when he gets back. They were going to take the rustlers I think, but now I am not so certain. There was a fair amount of fun role playing in this, though I am still having a hard time running NPCs well. Good enough but I want to have more nuance. 

And there we left that session - another battle, some actual damage this time, and everyone got to use some trait or ability, I think.

Now, they are heading to Bliss Springs, which at the pace Puddin and Milly go, will take a couple of weeks or so.

While Molly can do this in a few hours on Volgol, the others not quite so fast. For playing, we have a couple choices: summarize the journey or play each day. Sort of like Traveller jump: do you role-play the week in jump space, or suddenly it is a week later (which may have been the real-life cadence of a lot of players back in the day: end the session as your ship goes into jump, get back a week later to play and it is almost living Traveller!) 

I do have one book Wondrous Expeditions - Woods from Kickstarter that has travel rules, but I've yet to really read it and pretty sure (1) it is mostly fantasy oriented and (2) is woods, not the rough lands of Utah. Which does have some woods, so maybe I do need to read it and see if I can get anything out of it that may apply. And see if I have other resources covering the journey. I'll try and decide this weekend on how I want to handle it, and if any of my players reading this (as I do send the link when I post the update) have a preference, let me know! I see 3 options at the moment:
  1. we arrive near John Chisum's, a day away, after 10-14 days of travel
  2. we have a couple encounters, one per session, and arrive near John Chisum's in 2 or so sessions
  3. we play the next 10-14 days of travel, which may take 1+ sessions depending on things
Options 2 and 3 are almost identical...except that with 2 I'd just have some plot-point encounters, and 3 means I really need to expand out my random encounter table! Yay, tables! Maybe a hex map for a crawl! Regardless, I have plenty of options thanks to players emailing me with some ideas. Which I will now re-read this weekend to see what sort of options there are that could be fun. It may be better to have them level up before getting to Chisum's!

We've also played long enough that the next session or two should have at least a couple players leveling up, so that is good. Though I feel that there has not been a lot of the cohesiveness I was trying for in this game, we are moving along. Which was one of my goals: run a game long enough to have players level up in what I think is a fairly organic way. I've played some games where the GM had us level up almost every session, and I am not a fan of that. Except for those one shot or short-run games. Of course, I also come from playing Traveller and there was not really any leveling up. Anyway, thinking the end of next session we'll have maybe half the group get bumped up enough. I want to run long enough so that everyone levels up, so at least 2 more sessions. Maybe a lot more as long as everyone is having fun and wants to play on.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Running a One on One Game: OSE

My Sunday group has dwindled until it is just the father left. While I was hoping that the grittier and mechanically more complicated game of OSE would entice them back to the table, so far it has not. A few weeks ago, we created a Drow assassin, and this week we got to play. I did some of my set up in the previous blog post, and here I'll have a game recap and some lessons we learned.

Being a level 1 character, Dynin was tasked with the killing of Penn Cravann, a mid-level merchant who lives in Edge City. He has one week to accomplish this goal. Being this was his first foray as a trial member of the as-yet-to-be-named guild of assassins, he was going to be shadowed by Ren Fterra, a 2nd level assassin and member of the guild. While the death was preferred to look accidental, the final requirement was the death of the merchant. While Dynin did ask why, no answer was forthcoming (and may have counted against him for being too nosy for a rookie). 

Not Gynin but I wanted an assassin picture

He and Ren watched Penn the next couple of days. Penn and one or two bodyguards would visit the Feathered Grouse, a slightly upscale tavern where he had contacts and kept an ear on the trading world. He never drank enough to get drunk, being a social drinker who preferred to have his company get drunk and possibly spill secrets. Next, they checked out the rooftops on the route back to Penn's mansion. Rolling randomly, we have a 1 story flat roofed building, a deserted warehouse/store, a 4-story house with terra cotta tiles, and the last house before the alleys got too wide to cross as another low building. The warehouse was a brick-style building and apparently being worked on: there were loose bricks and buckets of sand on that roof.

Checking inside, they encounter 4 giant rats. Deciding to attack, he and Ren do manage to kill the rats of unusual size. However - Dynin actually got bit and took 2 points of damage - half his hit points! Fortunately, another roll indicated that the rat's bite did not poison him with some vile disease. Finding 400 gold buried behind a crate Dynin recognizes that this may well be a drop point. And that is something that may figure in later as there is going to be some disappointed person out there expecting to find that sack of coins!

They also find an open sewer: the workers have been using that to dump garbage and relieve themselves as they work on the building. Seeking to find a good escape route, they go into the sewers. And I brought out my sewer tiles - see, getting to use my toys! Heading away from the warehouse above, the next few covers are sealed, rusted in or too hard to move. Finding one they can lift, it looks like it opens to a storeroom. Hearing someone approach and yelling "I'll be getting the next barrel then, oi!" they drop the top back down. But at least they have a potential escape.

Going back to the warehouse, they encounter some little troglodyte things who happen to be cousins to Boogle Bob and Boogle Bill. A brief conversation comes along, but everyone seems okay to be just passing by. The beasties continue on their way as Dynin and Ren climb back up.

Taking a day to rest, Dynin recovers fully (1d3/day of full rest, so a good bit better than TFT). Finally, the night he plans on killing the merchant arrives. Hanging out in an alley, the guard, carrying a lantern on a stick, and Penn take their leave of the Grouse. Rapidly placing a gold coin on the sidewalk, Dynin manages a graceful climb back up the building and gets his bucket of sand to drop on the unsuspecting merchant. 

Now, I ruled this was not a ranged attack though technically it could be. For me, ranged attacks are weapons designed to attacking at range: dropping a bucket is simply an attack. I could still read the rules other ways, but unless you've trained at dropping buckets from a 1 1/2 story building, I felt that this was not a ranged attack. And in fact, I gave him disadvantage as it was a fair height, and while he does have infravision, a bucket full of sand is not exactly a finely honed weapon. While the guard notices the gold coin ("Eh Guv'ner  here be a coin!") and stops to pick it up, Dynin drops the bucket. And misses. The guard is immediately drawing his sword. Deciding that a brick to the back of the head may work Dynin tries to leap down the back of the building. I was not making him roll under non-stressed situations: anyone should be able to climb a ladder if not rushed. But under stress things are different. Sadly, even though he has an 87% proficiency in climbing sheer surfaces, the brick in one hand and in his hurried state he falls off the ladder, landing in a pile of refuse, a dazed look on his face and a brick loosely grasped in one hand.

Ren looks over the building ledge and shakes his head. Deciding to see if there are resources to the merchant's mansion, they return to the guild where yes, there are plans to the building.

And this is where we left things. 

A few things we both learned while playing. First, I was not as well prepared for this game on many fronts. I am not as familiar with the rules as TFT, so there was a fair amount of looking things up. I've played a couple solo sessions, so I was okay with looking things up. Fortunately, my player was accepting of that as well. Next, that lack of planning was not too bad: I just drew on the battle mat the buildings, and a d4 determined their height. I did not have all the buildings mapped out for 4 blocks, along with who owned them, who lived there, and all that. I may still do that sometime, but random rolling up things on the fly works well enough. I also did not have other pedestrians out and about, though there was a 2/6 chance of the town guard wandering through every 10 minutes (the wandering monster roll). I never rolled a 1 or 2 in the time they were waiting. Same for the sewer crawl in fact: only that last encounter for the hour they were down there.

I was also a bit loose in some of the rules: not really sure there is advantage/disadvantage in OSE but I just like that mechanic more than a +1 or something. At least for some things. Plus, it means more dice to roll! And the final thing I've noted before about me running games: I am just not good at handling NPCs much. I have a hard time controlling/thinking like more than one person at a time. However - I am working on that, though it still needs a great deal of work. 

Playing one on one definitely has its challenges. We both decided he wanted to do a single character I think, and as an assassin is usually a solitary thing, that works out well. But the game is not as much fun as having a group where there may be multiple opinions and goals. 

After we finish this next session, we may switch back the TFT and just run one of the Death Test games, or another solitaire game I am already playing by myself (session 1 and session 2 so far) as those are designed for solo or GM-less games.

Can one on one games be fun? I am certain they can be - great for exploring characters. I think it depends on the player and GM. I'll probably poke around for posts and things about playing that sort of a game. Like everything else, it is a thing to practice to get better at. 

And who knows - maybe I can get some of my other players to show up for a Sunday morning game. Though I believe that most are not morning people so that may not work out. But perhaps I'll ask.

And yes - always wheels within wheels. Penn is getting killed not for being a merchant, but because he belongs in the Seekers of Perfection. He has killed a brother of someone who discovered that her brother had been moved to a secret wing of the Our Lady of Mercy Hospital. Discovering that there was a cult trying to perfect the human body and using patients as guinea pigs (and why yes, those do exist in my world, though probably not of unusual size) she is having a one-person blitz against the cult. And secondly, yes, those gold coins were part of a drop off. There are going to be some angry blackmailers who may be able to track down what happened to their gold. Perhaps it was marked.

This gives me a few other adventures and NPCs, some who may join Dynin, some who may just want to kill him. Perhaps we'll figure out a good dynamic for playing these games. I do think part of hat is they do require more preparation than for a group. A group will often just take off and handle a good chunk of the game for you. There is a bit more pressure with only 2 people playing!

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Remarkable Cults - Designing A Cult

I'll be running a one-on-one OSE game, and the player has picked an assassin. Starting off at level 1, our assassin will have an NPC guide for the 1st assassination attempt. And for that, I need a target. Having the Remarkable Cults book, I figure to make a cult and a high-ranking minion for Dynin to take out. As this will be face to face, it means I can use my toys :) Among them I'll probably use one of 0-Hr's headquarters. While these are science fiction, if you ignore the elevators and SF things, they work fine as mansions, lairs and whatnot.

0-Hr's HQ2. It has a great hall. And ignore the shuttle for a fantasy game

As I keep getting books and games and rarely use them, I'll see about designing a cult that has leaders and a structure. This will allow for future play possibly, depending on how things work out. We're playing in my Edge City, which is a slightly reskinned Ankh-Morpork as I have that book and giant map. A nice big fantasy city to play in!

There are, of course, a lot of tables to roll on or use as inspiration. I wish that this system did what spectacular settlements did and provide worksheets. Though come to think of it, there is no reason I could not make my own up. My first roll has this organized as a trade organization. Great - they can have caravans on the Ocean Trade route and visit Windemere! Bits and pieces will come together. A trading company "uses its influences and resources to commit vile acts on a grand scale". Though the assassin is neutral, it is easier to kill bad people. Though for a price...

Our trade-based cult is of medium wealth and size, having 5 buildings and one stronghold. I'll have a couple of the buildings in Edge City, the others and stronghold wherever I need them later on. Those five buildings are a library, workshop, stable, granary and a hospital. The hospital and library are in Edge city - there is enough people living there to make some sort of sense. The hospital and stable both increase the defense score (as yet to be seen what that actually means, though not important at the scale we'll be playing at) by 2. Our stronghold is a tower that provides magical defenses.

Our resource score is 2, and this gives us 1d4-2 or 2 special resources. We have access to natural ingredients as well as magical items. As a trading organization that actually makes sense. Trade is the front, and the front to what you may ask? The leader, a human named Ezrith Benderton, founded this cult when communicated with a strange entity, whose desire is to perfect the human race. 

Perfection is, of course, a relative and cultural idea. And coming from a strange entity (and I'll have to poke around a lot of my various books, zines and things to find or create something interesting and possibly dark and twisted) what is perfection? Could be something similar to the old SF trope to serve man - it's a cookbook! I rather like that idea. 

Does this cult need some sort of power source? Rolling on the table, they harness the psychic energy from the minds of its members. More members, more power. And I figure there is a range for actual power, but it may depend on how many people. 

Its focus is on esoteric or arcane research that grants its members bizarre and previously unknown forms of magic. I can see some dark goings on in the hidden wing of that hospital! But fortunately, there is a hidden weakness: the cult requires an exotic resource to utilize that power. Without it, drawing on the power will kill whoever tries to draw that power. What exotic resource...let's say mermaid blood. As I do happen to have a mermaid mini so it would be nice to use it perhaps. And it may explain why this cult as a few fishing boats that often come back empty or bearing strange, rolled up canvas packages secreted hidden locations.

There is a strange symbol for the cult that is only put on a small set of items intended for higher ranking cult member: a mermaid in chains. And there is a name only whispered when new members are brought into the inner circle of the cult: Seekers of Perfection.

  • Wealth 3/5
  • Resources 2/5
  • Defense 2/5
  • Influence 2/5

In summary, the Seekers of Perfection are a medium size cult with a couple buildings in Edge City, and 3 more scattered. They use their trading empire to seek out people they can either have join the cult or use to be experimented on in the Hospital of Our Fair Lady, in the secret wing which is two levels below the busy streets of Edge City. Ezrith Benderton leads this cult, a lean yet muscled man, his hair in constant disarray. Should one see his left shoulder, there would be what looks like a brand of an arcane symbol burned there. Ezrith always dresses in green clothing: from his boots to his hat, various shades of green make up his entire wardrobe. Despite running a growing trade empire, his manners are barbaric, and he does not conform to the normal behaviors of Edge City. A natural fast talker, he makes deals after pressuring others. Part of that is due to his being a charlatan before meeting the strange entity (and I'll have to come up with a post for that!). He does have a secret though: his memories of his life before talking with this entity are fragmented. He cannot recall family, friends, or even what he was doing before this eldritch communication. He is also bound to Edge City, and has not left the city walls since that dark day. 

While the trading empire is growing, not all the traders and workers employed by the Trade Seekers are cult members. Perhaps a quarter or so. In a caravan of 10 people, only 2 or 3 will be cult members. Only after you've been with the company long enough for those in charge to get a feel for you will you be felt out to see if you would fit in the cult. Those members who join get an immediate +1 to a physical stat from those arcane magics. 

While Ezrith leads the cult and the trade group from Edge City, he has a few other high-ranking members living in the city, or at larger trading posts and ports. 

Which finally brings us to our assassination target: Penn Cravann, former caravan master who is now in charge of the Western Ocean Route. Part of his duties involve mermaid hunting, and he may well have a mermaid in his home in the basement.

Penn Cravann

Now all I need to do is generate some NPCs and stock my maps. And it is later than I thought!

While not a review of the book, it does introduce several pre-made cults (which I do need to re-read and see about sticking into some of my games), as well as a section to create your own cult. And a section I've yet to read about players running cults. Which would be a higher-level process at some point perhaps. The book itself is beautiful and well-made. Like all the Remarkable books, it presents some good game ideas and is useful as a springboard into making your own things. Is it worth it? There are other resources out there that can do similar things for less or even free. But I do enjoy actual books and the ability to read them at my leisure, and then re-read to pick up what I've missed. For me, yes, these books are always worth it. But - you can create any of these make-believe things without any aids. So not necessary but definitely nice as for the same reason I love Traveller character generation: you never know what you may end up with!

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Cowboys and Dinosaurs - Session 7

We left our group heading back to Aurora after killing Six Gun Sal. One ugly woman according to Hambone. Regardless of the name Sal being a man (and then had to look up that Sal is probably Italian from Salvador, meaning savior). Anyway, that night the 1st shift goes well as Jack Looking-Horse listens to the winds and watches the stars slide across the skies above. Hambone's watch had a utahraptor sniffing around the dead body. Yes, they actually have an entire body and not just the head this time. Shooting at the raptor to scare it off did not work. Having plenty of meat from the last raptor that attacked them, Hambone throws a big chunk out. The gunshot of had awoken everyone else, and not long after that the raptor comes back, still sniffing at the body, wanting more food. Getting the raptor to back off, they decapitate the body and Hambone, Lee watching with his gun ready, drags the body a ways off. Apparently, this was enough to satiate the raptor as he did not come back that night. 

Getting into town, Mr Rogers, the town mortician and casket maker, looks sadly on. Hambone, attempting to make it right, slips $5 into his hand, but the stoically silent mortician merely nods briefly and heads off back down the road, a tear dropping from his eye. After taking care of the reward business for the (hopefully) last of the Bad Company Gang, the group decides they need to head off towards Bliss Springs. John Chisum will be planning bad things for Jack's tribe. Hambone picked up a big breakfast for everyone. As they are walking up the street though, a long-lost friend of Lee shows up. Ajit is starting to warn Lee about the past catching up with him when he is shot in the back. 

Brijash Abbas, brother of the slain pirate Tuanku, has managed to track down his brother's killer. Of course, his brother had also killed Lee's family in the Taiwan Sea years ago. Yes, there was backstory that I managed to get into the story-story. 


Brijash is challenging Lee to a duel. Not one to take anything sitting down, Jack shoots at Brijash despite a warning shot to the ground in front of him. He takes a shot while shooting at Brijash, Molly is dragging Ajit to a safer alley and does some immediate first aid. Hambone is climbing up one of the buildings where the 1st shot came from. Lee gets in a blow to Brijash and between that and Jack's rifle. the Vietnamese pirate is slain. As is both of him compatriots a few moments later thanks to Hambone. While Hambone has only made 1 wisdom check in 7 sessions, he is a crack shot apparently!

The mortician is most happy, as now he can use his measuring string and make appropriate coffins rather than using the hat boxes he has been using.

They rush Ajit, Lee's friend, to Doc Calloway's and he gets operated on, stat. He will easily survive, and Jack does his barbering skills on Jack, getting an advantage as he has the medical supplies in Doc's office to work with. 

At this point, the group splits up: Jack & Lee head the Chinatown, the section of town where most of the Chinee live. Hambone and Molly go to Maximillian's to catch up on things and see where things are at.

In Chinatown, Lee goes to the temple, and gives them his share of the reward money they have accumulated so far. He was looking for Chang Heng-di, but he was out west a bit. The Chinese were having a strike to get equal pay and hours as their white co-workers (this was a Labor Day game, and I was trying to bring in this strike, but the gunfight seemed more immediate as they were heading out of town). 

Meanwhile, there is a package to be delivered to Bliss Springs. Pony Express would take several days to get there, but at 80mph Volgol and Molly can get there in a matter of hours. Molly heads out while the rest regroup and start heading out west. They are hoping to meet up with the dinosaur ride coming into town. They are concerned that John Chisum may be planning on something.

As Molly flies out, about 20-30 miles out she sees the Indians herding the dinosaurs. Not far behind them, though, is what looks to be a posse. Shooting to scare them off, she does some dodging and weaving on Volgol (dodge is one of the tricks, so they were shooting at disadvantage). She was just wanting to slow them down.

And here is where we left the game. I plan on using the chase rules from Apex, but because Molly slowed them down, will let the players roll with advantage. Apex has some simple yet I think pretty fun chase rules. We'll see who gets to the herd first.

I had a few goals in this session: I did want to have the labor strike in celebration of Labor Day. I usually have several possible things that can happen in any session, and because the timing was not quite right to get to the Chinese workers and Chang Heng-di, I moved in part of Lee's backstory. And who does not like Vietnamese pirates? Though again the battle went too fast. I was wanting to get Lee to use his trait where, as a martial artist, if he is shot at he can dodge if he gets hit. Sadly, it did not get to be played out that way. But I tried, and we did at least get Volgol to use his dodging skill, and Hambone shot a couple of bad guys, and Jack also killed a bad guy again. And got shot again. 

Hopefully everyone had fun. I am still going strong after 7 sessions which to me is pretty amazing. But there are still a few stories to tell, and the John Chisum thing is not going to be quite as easy as he is very well off and has a lot of flunkies. And cattle. Which is why he wants the prime grazing lands Jack's tribe uses. 

So next session - Indians herding dinosaurs, thugs or the players get there first (and Molly and Volgol will actually be able to get back into play by the time all this takes place) and what happens next? Plus they are not too far from where the strike is taking place. I'm not really sure how I am going to handle that, but I've a few days to think about that. Though I did find an image I like as the railroad baron BB Grapler.

BB Grapler, Railroad Baron


Monday, September 05, 2022

Traveller and Space:1999

Space:1999 was a series I really enjoyed growing up, and I still think the Eagles are the coolest ships around. If I were to run a game in that OTU, here is what I'd do. 

First, I would make it episodic like the series. Moonbase is caught up in some left-over Ancient tech that pops it from system to system randomly. Several ideas that could be pursued from this basic conceit:

  • is there something in the moon itself causing this? 
  • was it activated by the nuclear explosion?
  • can it be detected, and if so, found?
  • is it jump space for the transit or something entirely different? I think it is more of a hop drive than a jump drive, but I'll admit not reading a whole lot on those drives.
Doing this would allow us to transition from system to system at the speed of plot and GM fiat. 

Next, Moonbase Alpha has several hundred people there, so plenty of NPCs. I probably would not allow a player to be the commander, but any of the other roles would be good. My reason for this is sort of from the Next Generation premise: you really would not allow the commander to go on dangerous missions. I know, they did on TV, both in the original Trek and in the Space:1999 series. And to some extent, UFO. Plus, I just do not like having player characters start out that high - I feel they need to earn that sort of thing. Probably why I also prefer starting players at level 1 and let them build up (the Cowboy & Dino game was a bit different: we had already played a different game with the rules, and I traded them generating NPCs and things for XP). 

There are several good roles the players can have.

A doctor is always going along for a lot of the exploratory trips as they enter new systems. And things are always blowing up in the base from various entities and events. This would be a good for for someone going through medical college, then the doctor career in Classic Traveller Supplement 4, Mongoose 1e scholar/physician or from Careers Beyond the Claw, we've actually 3 medical careers: surgeon/nurse, long term care provider and physical therapy. 

The base will be full of scientists, so any of the science careers would be great. Mongoose 1e again has the scholar career, as does T5. Of course Supplement 4 has a scientist as career as well.

There are a lot of technicians, ranging from mechanics to flight ops. Various port authority careers would fit that niche. Though I do see this as more a supporting NPC, but some of those starport authority careers have some options. There are several rules for that, from the JTAS 19 article, Gypsy Games (Independent Games now I think - need to update the bibliography!) Diverse Roles, and Cargonaut Press has rules for the Starport Authority as well.  This would include the communications people for at least handling the launch and recovery of the Eagles and other ships.

Eagle pilots could come from a number of careers. Navy in its various versions across all rule sets, but also the Space Patrol from Stellagaming and the System Guard from Careers Beyond the Claw. 
Even bureaucrats are in in Space:1999, so that is also a career choice! Of course, it did not end well for him.


And finally, yes, aliens could be available as well, Classic Traveller aliens or other. If playing one, they would have shown up in a pre-session 0, or have them introduced in the 1st game as the moon jumps into their system.

Honestly, any of the available career choices would be valid and have a potential reason to be on the moon before it gets launched into intergalactic space.

Technology-wise, this is mostly TL-9: gravatics are small enough to fit in the Eagles, though the Moonbase Alpha relies on those gravity posts in the series. Which came in handy when going through a black hole, so I'd leave those there as a possible plot device at some time.

Of course, for me the star of the show was really the Eagles. The ultimate multi-purpose ship that could have so many options.
Now of course, we could just swap in the class modular cutter which pretty much does the same thing.
Or Ian Steed's homage to the Eagle:

Or 0-hHr's various drop ships. Yeah, I seem to have a fair number of ships that are somewhat like an Eagle. Of course, there were a lot of other space vehicles, though most had the Eagle cockpit. But after a few systems, it would not be unlikely to pick up other ships. No jump drives though! There well could be a few other ships in the cavernous repair bays that are at the lowest level of Moonbase Alpha. A max of 2G probably with some exceptions.
Care for a boost?

Weapons-wise, TL-9 works great I think: Classic Traveller introduces the various laser weapons, with backpacks. The handgun that is used in Space:1999 is a bit more powerful than what TL-9 supports. There are notes in the tech manual about the Straker Initiative (Straker was the commander in UFO), so the weapon tech could be a TL-A as there were "experimental" weapons. Additionally, they later added laser batteries from alien technologies, so the oddball high TL things should be available.

Space suits are definitely your TL-9 suits: nothing spectacular there. Somewhere I've a nice little space suit manual I need to dig up as it broke down the differences at various tech levels.

Vehicle-wise, there were a number of vehicles available. From the venerable moon buggy to various laser-carrying vehicles. 

How I would play: of course, session 0 sets up the scene as we generate characters and figure out how they fit into the Moonbase Alpha hierarchy. From that, I'd basically start with the explosion and the sudden exit of the solar system. A few rolls here and there for various things to be exploding under the stress, and if one the players is out in an Eagle, better hope they can get back in time! Then some time to see if they can figure out what happened, then introduce our first planet of the week scenario. Probably not too dangerous to begin with though there will be an NPC death or two. 

This would be mostly an exploration/survival style game. Various plot points could be:
  • power systems require specific isotype fuel and what they have is running out. But hey - traces on that new system hanging up there!
  • hydroponics and recycling can only recover so much. Need fresh supplies
  • medical issues: plagues, dementia, sudden crazies. what is happening? sudden unplanned pregnancies - what is happening?
  • alien attacks are always a good staple for any SF game
  • internal power struggles (that damned bureaucrat wants to lead the group, and he has a few friends that agree with him)
  • strange signals that seem to be either an invitation or a warning
  • strange god-like beings with various warnings, boons or banes
  • suddenly the moon is getting an atmosphere (which also showed that the moonbase windows could open. Yeah, no)
  • exploration of the caverns under/near the base. Turns out there was an earlier secret base (UFO had its own much smaller moonbase, though it too had artificial gravity)
And now to do some prep for my game tonight: being Labor Day, thinking I'll bring in the Chinese railroad workers are striking, with Chang Heng-di leading the struggle. Need to figure out some of the details and possible ways this may play out (will the players help, hinder, or ignore? Of course, Heng-di and Lee have a shared history so there is that link)

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Fantasy Trip Solo: Til Death Do Us Part pt 2

Continuing on with our wounded  Taran, we camped a couple of days in the woods. Arashina kept us well fed while Taran rested a bit, healing some from his wounds. Pressing on, we headed to the Nunnery of Holy Sisters, known for their healing potions. We camped again a couple of nights, letting Taran recover a bit more of his vigor. Finally, on our 7th day, we came into site of the nunnery, but it was under siege by a party of Orcs. The brave Sister Masrak, seeing us, cried out that her prayers had been answered. As Sir Rostam and Taran rush to the Sister's aid, Arashina takes a step forward and readies her bow.

The Battle of Bonesetter, err, the Nunnery of the Holy Sisters

Round 1 Arashina's arrow flies true, and while the leather armor the Orc wears help, he still feels the prick of the barb. Sister Masrak, wielding her mace, slams the Orc facing her, doing 8 points of damage. Despite his hurt, he hits back and deals 2 points of damage to the armored sister. The other 2 Orcs miss Sir Rostam and Masrak, while the one hit by Arashina starts moving to her at a run. Taran and Sir Rostam cannot attack this round.

Round 2 The Orc rushes up to Arashina, and Taran moves around to the side of the second Orc. Arashina gets last shot off, hitting the Orc for another point of damage. Taran somehow misses, while Masrak finishes off one of the 2 Orcs facing her. The second Orc misses Sir Rostam, and the 3rd lands a blow on Sister Masrak.

Round 3 Arashina switches to her saber and cannot attack this round. Taran misses, still weak from his earlier fights (yeah, I think technically he does not have the strength to wield that battle ax. but that is one of the rules I tend to not entirely hew to. I figure a lot of that is technique, and not just raw strength. But I will try & read up on that rule to see if it really is a rule). Sir Rostam, true to himself, misses yet again. Unfortunately, the Orc he missed did not miss him, and a point of damage got through his shield and armor. The 3rd Orc missed attacking Sister Masrak.

Round 4 Taran moves behind Orc number 3 who is still attacking Sister Masrak. Arashina swings her saber and deals 6 points of damage to Orc 4, whose leather takes a bit of the damage. Taran, having a good advantage by attacking from the rear, hits and kills the 3rd Orc, dealing 10 points of damage. Masrak hits the Orc fighting her, still not killing the snarling creature. Who in turn, though, does hit and wound her more. Finally, the Orc facing Arashina swings and misses. 

Round 5 Arahina finishes off the Orc facing her, while Taran misses the final Orc. Sister Masrak does not miss, but his armor absorbs most of the blow. Somehow, finally, Sir Rostam actually hits something, and kills off the final Orc. 

There was much rejoicing, and one of the sisters, being a master physiker, healed up that battle damage as our group did not actually get too hurt this time around. They also offered 5 healing potions, which Taran took, bringing him back to 11 points of strength. Resting two more days, he is back to 12 strength and they are ready to resume their journey.

Sister Masrak in front of the Nunnery, mace in hand

There were some story elements in here, and I won't ruin it in case anyone else runs this game. But I have picked up some more plot words. Plot words are a way of dynamically creating different paths at the same story point. For instance, as we did not have the plot word LATE Sister Masrak was at 7 strength versus the 4 she would have been. And a good thing - she would have died if she only had 4 as she took the most damage of anyone there. Other than the 4 dead Orcs.

I am not including a lot of the story exactly, other than embellishing the battles. There is some dialog, and some interesting story points that we've uncovered. In fact, here are the plot words we have so far:

Trust, Letter, Masrak, Tale, Nun

The tale belongs to Lady Shirin, the bride to be who has learned a few things she did not know about her sister. There are some other plot lines in here, besides us trying to get to the seaboard in 21 days. And as we are at day 9, we're not making good progress. We'll no longer allow Taran to rest up and hope for the best.

And I think I am getting a bit more into the story, which does make this choose-your-own adventure a bit more appealing. And this would also be a game you could run as a regular game, though I would have an overland map! Maybe I'll make one tomorrow, though it will change as I play. I really should have taken better notes (I only noted the fights mostly, but I can recreate the journey as I can start where I was and make the same choices to get info on what we're seeing).

And for those who are celebrating Labor Day - I hope you have a wonderful day! Though I've never been in a union, it was the trades and unions that wanted to celebrate American labor and how it built this country. Per Wikipedia: 

Labor Day is a federal holiday in the United States celebrated on the first Monday in September to honor and recognize the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States. The three-day weekend it falls on is called Labor Day Weekend.

Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor. "Labor Day" was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, which organized the first parade in New York City. In 1887, Oregon was the first state of the United States to make it an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty states in the U.S. officially celebrated Labor Day.

For all of you who actually work and build things, thank you! I write computer code so nothing I build is real sadly. And while I enjoy that (and have for 36 years of professional, well, at least paid, software development) sometimes I wish I had picked a career where I actually did something tangible. But then again, if I did that I could not work from home and have a cat on me during the day!

June Bug, a stray we foster-failed at. The older boys seem to finally accept her. And the dog was raised by cats so knows how to deal with her.