Wednesday, May 15, 2024

An Interlude Again

The last few weeks I've not been able to game much: either the others had schedule conflicts, or I did. I was out of town last weekend visiting my family in the DC area. One of my sisters was getting another degree, and as we're getting older, I figured I should visit them as life is not all about games! It was a good visit, though even after decades, we still have the same sibling rivalry and squabbles. In some ways we never grow up.

So not much of a posting this time around, though I'll share some of the mini painting I am working on (and some of it is not to my liking, but at least I am painting some!). Images - the easy filler!

I'll be finishing the Traveller 5.10 Book 1 overview in the next post or two, not much left of book 1. 




For some reason I seem to suddenly have several harpies from a couple different sources, so that is interesting! Including a Lego harpy!






Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Traveller 5.10 Book 1 - Part 9 Combat

Book 1: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7, Part 8

The crux of most RPGs: how to handle combat! Pages 200-234 cover this topic. I will be the first to admit, I've never been good at Traveller combat. When I first had Traveller, the combat matrix did not seem to work for me as it was an abstraction I was not used to. Years later, I now better understand the abstraction of all that and how it works. But when I got Striker, I made a homebrew between Classic and Traveller. As I always prefer armor as damage soaking, not affecting if you get hit or not (though that is what that abstraction does - I had just not realized it in high school)

Moving on to T5, we define the battle:

Characters attack, defend, move, and otherwise act to resolve the encounter in a series of combat Rounds. In each Round, every participant has the opportunity to move and to use a weapon (or to do some other activity: perhaps use a communicator, activate a device, or consult a sensor). After every participant has had an opportunity to act, the current Round ends and the next Round begins.

Seems simple. Though of course yet another only as necessary

ROARN Resolve Only As Really Necessary

Combat is a comprehensive system addressing a broad spectrum of details: those details should be resolved only when necessary. Some damaged equipment can simply be discarded. Non-Player Characters who will not participate in future actions can be ignored. It may be that the only answer needed is whether the shot hit the target; there is no need to burden everyone with more detail.

So, ignore all the rules we are going to have? Well, moving on as for some people, combat is always necessary, and they want ALL the rules!

First, we need to define terms. The scaling uses range bands (and I've a string feeling you could do this on something like the space range bands below someone made (and no idea who but 99% sure I got it from COTI or the Mongoose forums years ago)

Space Range Table - if anyone knows who did it let me know!
We track distance via range bands, though once we got close enough, such as in a starship (so I can use all those deck plan posters!) we'd probably have to calculate the range band from the from distance. We are given the example of range band 3 (Range = 3, or R3) is about 150 meters. Apparently, we can see a book (a Size 3 item) at that distance. And I'll note later that there is a handy table that does these translations for us.

Combat takes place in rounds. A round is about 1 minute (or 12 rounds in TFT as those rounds are 5 seconds I believe). The obvious example of a fight taking 12 rounds has lasted about 12 minutes. Each round has 3 phases: movement, attack and damage. We note that for personal combat, ranges 0-5 are pretty much it, unless we have vehicles involved. You can move to an adjacent range at the beginning of a combat round or two if sprinting. And you need to rest 4 rounds before being able to sprint again (and as someone who used to run, I sprinted almost 3 miles in a 5K. And about threw up which is why I did not sprint the 3.1 miles of the 5K but walked/ran the remainder. The sprinting to me is really heavily dependent on the character and I would say goes below the resolution of T5 combat). Which perplexes me a bit as some of those ranges are pretty wide. But we'll go with the abstractions. Speed tells you how many range bands you can normally cover in a round, and people are 1, whereas vehicles can be speed 1, 2 or 3. And unless moving directly towards the target, cannot get closer than R3. Which I've no idea why - maybe they are trying to cut you off. Anyway...

The attack is where we are supposed to know our combat numbers. Our shooting number is DEX + weapon skill + Knowledge (and see - again this odd split of skills vs knowledge. I could have a character that has a few gun skills, so add in the skill 1 + the knowledge 2? Seems like it but again, also seems we should just take the skill, err, knowledge, err. and you know why I have a hard time w/Traveller combat! And tasks. Melee is similar: STR + weapon skill + knowledge. Impact number is our current speed - err, so if standing, then 0? And yes, unless you moved the current round. Okey dokey then. The apparent size (humans = 5), though beasts can crouch (-1) or lay prone (-2). As noted in the senses, if apparent size is less than 0 (hah, not less than or equal!) it normally cannot be seen. The attacks can take place in any order. Hmm - if I am running a game with 3 players, who goes first? And there is a note on the first attacker gets a +1 mod for defending, which says that every responding attack against the 1st attacker is easier. Which is confusing - we add the +1 to the attackers' mods? Hopefully we'll have an example! Though if the 1st attack hits, that target cannot attack this round. 

We have 3 types of attacks: melee (aka hand to hand), ranged, and impact (driving that speeder into your target will not end well for that target!). Melee is a 2D difficulty, impact is 2D, and ranged is the range, so that an R3 attack uses 3d6. 

Finally, after all the attacks (which are simultaneous, the only thing possibly affecting who can do what is that 1st successful attack. But how do you decide who goes 1st?) Ahh, here it is: everyone decides who they are going to attack but can change their minds as the actions play out. So not all at the same time, and yes, a minute is a pretty long time actually. 

An attack can also be something other than weapon usage. Call for backup, start up the vehicle, and so forth. Oddly placed in the same section is the rules on knocking someone out (automatic if hitting on the back of the head for 2d6 rounds), and the quick kill for those overpowering attacks. 

Damage is weapon-based, and we also have various types of damage, such as burn and penetration. Armor is a damage absorber, and soaks in the appropriate damage types. A revolver, for instance, does 1d6 penetration damage, and you could have some AR-10 armor that will absorb 10 points of damage. So a pistol is ineffective against that armor. And the old reflec type of armor I assume comes into play, as does insulation and other types of protection. Anything beyond the armor value gets through and causes damage. 

Damage to the player and NPCs is handled a bit differently: an NPC gets "out of action" if they take 10 or more points of damage (I think similar to Fate's mooks: basically, the goblins or low-level grunts and we're being a bit cinematic). Note that most types of attacks, if doing more than half the armor value and greater than the character's dexterity, they get knocked down. 

We cover the impact damage and rules in a few paragraphs, the melee attack in several more, and ranged. In melee you can use your DEX points as mods in the combat, giving you a better chance at hitting. But you only have those mods equal to your dex, so a dexterity 5 has all of 5 points they can use before they are no longer available in this combat. You may also fight for your endurance rounds. Which seems to imply if you have a pretty high endurance and dexterity, you could simply evade until your opponent is worn out. And if not using weapons, your strength is the damage done. 

The ranged attack covers distance (the number of dice to roll under), relative speeds (shooting from/to a moving vehicle), and the target's apparent size (size - range; a human at size 5 at range 3, 150m, is effectively a size 2. Similar in an odd way to the adjusted dexterity in TFT). I actually do like this mechanic as something far away is harder to hit as its relative size is smaller. And if we use just the range bands, and not have to count squares, it is actually not complicated.

We then have pages, and more pages, of charts and more specialized rules such as concealment, reloading, various types of ranged attacks (aimed, standard, and snap fire). And wow - there are 26 types of effects. I think there would have been more had the alphabet had more letters! A = corrode, B = bullet, J = Psi, and Z = tranq. And all the letters in between are used. Why the armor maker (covered later) can be pretty darn complex! And then you need to track all this! Though nicely done armor and weapon cards would have all this readily available, so it is not as bad as I am making out here.

The mod tables are sort of backwards to how I think of them. If you are behind cover, you subtract 3 from your die rolls in attacking, making it harder for you to hit someone. Of course, they also have to subtract 3 from their rolls, so that protects you. And the mods have mods based on the type of attack. Backwards because T5 is a roll-under game mechanic. Sort of like getting my head wrapped around dependency inversion in software (don't ask!). 

When you are hit, as with Classic Traveller you apply the damage to your physical (Strength, Dexterity, Endurance) stats. You can pick, and when one is zero, apply to your next stat of choice. Some damage, such as cold, also can be applied to your intelligence and education stats.

Hits against things start taking down functions. Apparently randomly assigned though I'd allow aimed shots to take out specific things. Of course, we've not gotten to vehicles yet so this is even more abstract. 

One of the nice tables shows us the number of 1.5m squares per range band. And larger maps. I'd have to print this out when running combat on deck plans!

Converting range bands to concrete distances
I'd also have to make these combat cards for the players, so that they could play and not need a degree in Traveller combat. They would have a shooting/melee number per weapon, and I'd handle the impact as that is just the speed. A player may need several cards personalized to them with the weapon number and all the weapon stats. A very crunchy system!
We have a few pages of various combat charts, all very detailed and interesting. For people like me with little knowledge of guns, there is a chart indicating by weapon with the columns of off (safety engaged), single, burst, full and override (allowing the weapon to be used in battle even if damaged). Each weapon shows what it can and can't do, so that is helpful. And power weapons now have half, regular and double damage. Which is new and makes sense to me. 

Some tables dealing with artillery and ortillery, military explosions (damage is range-based: see, these ranges are actually a pretty useful technique I think), WMDs, nuclear weapons, and 2 whole pages of environmental effects. 

A page for various hit locations for various things (ships, vehicles, heavy weapons and so forth), along with a repeat of the diagnoses and repair tables (which I am not going to see if they match but they look the same from my memory at least!). 

4 pages of examples, which I am not going to read at the moment, then several pages for various combat cards: human, alien, vehicles. Which, if I am understanding things, we don't have a single shooting number. I'd do a smaller card per weapon for all your weapons, ranged and melee. Though we do have a flux table for hit locations if you want to have random hit locations. 

Lots more tables including weapons tables, penetration and damage charts and so on. And it is at this point I see the origins of GDW as a wargame company coming full circle back to the role playing: a lot of these tables look an awful lot like the complex tables in the 80's style wargames such as Squad Leader (which I had but could never play). And that is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It just points out that the T5 system seems to be very heavily influenced by Marc's years of developing war games. And for a lot of people, yes, that can be fun to have such nuance in the mechanics. And I think with a few practice games and actual cards for the players. it actually would not be all that more difficult to actually play. At least in theory - in practice we'd have to see how it actually runs. But it will take a lot more pre-game preparation in my mind to get the appropriate cards and data in a format that the players can use at the table. A far cry from "roll 8+ to hit, mods for skill and weapon skill" and the single type of damage. 

Is it a playable combat? I think with a lot of prep work it would be. How it would play out if you used all the rules may be a slog at times, but again, with a LOT of preparation, primarily a combat card per weapon per player so that you have those all-important numbers, it may be. I think I will try making a few combat cards at some point just to see if I can, and maybe run a small 1:1 combat game for two fighters. Not any time soon though!

Saturday, May 04, 2024

Traveller 5.10 Book 1 - Part 8: The Senses

Book 1: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8

The Senses

Teere are 14 pages dedicated to the senses. The benchmark tables help put things into scale, so to speak. Like a lot of Traveller-isms, it is not a linear scale. Size 5 is an average-sized person, 4 is half-hiding, such as taking cover. This sort of distinction plays into the combat chapter, which is the next chapter.

We start with the commonly encountered senses: vision, hearing, smell, touch, awareness and perception. The last two start to veer into the paranormal world, or at least aliens with a different set of senses. We further define just what those senses detect: vision detects energy, in humans between certain bandwidths (the visible light spectrum), hearing vibrations, and so forth. Smell and taste depend on the environment: in the air, smell is what we use, but in water or another solution, taste. But they are grouped together as sensing volatiles. 

And another acronym: SOARN. Sense Only As Really Necessary. Meaning don't get bogged down, which seems somewhat ironic considering the size of this ruleset! Regardless, there may be cases where this detailed analysis could come in handy. And of course, a handy sense options table. Which I feel we need a Traveller Degree to read and interpret some of these rules (note to self: a Traveller PhD Thesis is just waiting to happen! It sort of exists for electronic gameselectronic games apparently). Though we do get an entire page per chart to hopefully explain how it works.

Vision, for example, breaks things out, and with that we need to have the vision ranges are well to see if we can see or notice something.
We also find humans have a constant of 16 for the constant. A lot of this really reminds of of calculus, and not in a good way! Higher numbers = better vision, lower = worse. So, let's see if we can figure out how to see something. The formula is nD < Constant + Benchmark + Mod + Mod. Our constant is for a regular human, so 16. First, nD (number of dice) = the range. We'll go with VL, very long or range 5. Next, the benchmark is the item size - range. If this is less than or equal to zero, you cannot see it. For instance, at a vision range of 5 (Very Long, 1km), anything the same size or smaller than the average human we cannot see. I think we can adjust the vision range with things like a sniper scope or binoculars, but not there yet! But let us see about a grav tank which is size 6, so our benchmark is 1. So far, we have 5d6 < 16 + 1. There is mention of a master mod table, which I've either missed or not gotten to yet. Sadly, no reference to where this table is (be nice to say p. xxx) but alas, we find it in the Appendix. Let us just say there are a LOT of mod tables. Some of which really look more like random generator tables. Though interestingly, I see a QREBS table for the various Megacorporations which is interesting: Tukera has a -1 for quality but a +2 on reliability. But sadly, nothing that sticks out in those 21 tables specifically for vision. However - the example given in the text indicates that something moving very fast is +2. And in chart 08, typical mods, VFast is +2. Let us also say our grav tank is moving very fast, so the final task to see this is:
5d6 < 16 + 1 + 2 => 5d6 < 18

Which, now that they have moved the dice tables from chapter 1 in the original 5.0 version to an appendix, we can see that 5d6 < 18 has a 10% chance of rolling 18 exactly, and (if I am reading it correctly) a 60% chance of seeing it. Going to an online dice tool online dice tool, I get the same results. Always good to get a 2nd opinion! Plus helps to make sure I am reading the table correctly. The explanations for the various columns and what they mean seem (at least to me) more obtuse than they should be. Again - the books would have really benefited from a professional editor (and yes, I think Marc is an editor but as I have pointed out previously, you really cannot proofread [or code review!] your own work well!)

I will note that the example given in the book has the range of 6 and the loader, also a size 6, at zero for the benchmark, but allows the task to be done. So, there is a difference between the text and the example. Could be only less than zero but the text says zero or less. The T5 errata discussion is pretty long on COTI but will see if I can find if anyone else has noticed. And they did, and the search function there has been greatly improved!

We have several more pages, 2 pages per sense, going into the details of each sense. Like the QREBS and pretty much a lot of the rules, this is something you won't use all the time, just as in a lot of RPGs you don't roll for everything you do, just the things can have some sort of impact on the game. 

Next post - personal combat!

Notes from another blog   

I was reading through a few other blogs and this one came up from bastionland.com with a matrix for game rules. I'd have to say Traveller 5 is all deep/niche pretty much!


Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Edge City, Part 2

 Part 1 here. A continuation of the world building for Edge City.

Bringing out Spectacular Settlements, we know Edge City is the capital. Which means I need to find that work sheet at some point and fill that out. As with the campaign builder, there are steps to be taken. 
  1. Basic Information
    1. Origin. A combination of two choices: resurrected ruins as it is built on the remains of an ancient capital, but also a natural progression of a trading post. That started in the ruins. 
    2. Age. Closest for the current incarnation of Edge City is mature, between 100-300 years old. 
    3. Size. Going with large, that the structures able to support around 100,000 people. No idea how many people live in Ank-Morpork in the books, but Edge City has about 100K people. +2 to the number of districts.
    4. Environment is coastal. Straddling the F'urth River and docks to the East Ocean, Edge City does not lack for boating capacity!
    5. Outside the city (and here is where I do roll) there are large groups of farms. The agriculture to support Edge City as well as supply agricultural goods to the many traders in the city. And oddly my 2nd roll was 00 on d100! Which says nothing else is outside. However, there are some fiefdoms and things, though we can go with most of these are agriculturally based. 
    6. Stewardship is managed. The fundamental elements are all accounted for, and the Patrician is doing an admirable job. +1 to general condition, +3 to population wealth, +4 to law enforcement.
    7. General condition. With the +1 we get impressive, the capital is well taken care of, and cleanliness is a priority. Why the sewers are in such good condition as our adventurers have found! +1 to district conditions.
    8. Fortification. I honestly cannot recall the walls in the Discworld series, but the map has them as pretty substantial, so I'll go with just fortified.  +3 to disposition roll.
    9. Market Square. The non-district market square is ample with room for an ample number of vendor stalls. Though Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler tends to wander with his car throughout the city.
    10. Merchant overflow is not allowed outside of city walls. Guards will enforce this.
    11. Underground passages. I've already established we have tunnels, forgotten crypts, even natural caves. Some areas may even have entire mini-cities if you go down far enough. 
  2. Government and High Society
    1. Leadership is an oligarchy, ruled by the Patrician. 
    2. Leadership unity is close-knit or even in accord. Few tend to naysay the Patrician as his few edicts and rules tend to promote city interests. And he can be scary at times. 
    3. Governing priority. Going with the books general ideas, and industry and innovation are the priorities. Edge City is a forward-looking city! Requires an industrial district when I roll those up.
    4. Priority approach is peaceable. Deals and negotiations determine how things are done. Though a bit of blackmail may be considered dealing. 
    5. Priority success the roll did not work for me, so picking the next up as successful, where several of the goals have been achieved. 
  3. Lifestyle and Residence: "how those in power live their lives (and where they spend their money) says a lot about them and their values and may influence their immediate surrounding area."
    1. The leader lives in a respectable manner: unassuming but appropriate to his position. +0 to residence roll.
    2. Residence: a large estate in Edge City. In the Discworld series, the government and residence of the Patriarch is next to the Unseen University, the wizard's college. I actually rolled that so it fits in with the narrative.
    3. Intent - why does he live that lifestyle? There is an unknown alternative, which is also fitting to the books as he really does seem to have the best interests of the city in mind, but there is no telling. If I recall, he was also an assassin before somehow becoming the patriarch. 
  4. Connections. No capital is an island.
    1. We have 3 connections. Note there may be several more, but these are the significant connections. For instance, we have the lizard man islands, the Rainy City, and the island of the Amazons with a few days or weeks of travel. But they are not significant in terms of affecting the politics of Edge City. 
      1. Connection 1: An ally that is trusted. Rolling a d6 for directions, not that I have this on a hex map, but anyway, rolling a 4 is due south. And on 1 map I have, that is the region of the Puddlejumpers. Which I am going with is mostly a swampy land (as I did get the swamp terrain set and have a few frog people minis). No idea what I had in mind 40+ years ago when I came up with that. I'll have to have an expansion for this southern kingdom that is aligned with Edge City.
      2. Connection 2: Enemy, hated. This is to the south-west of Edge City, which is the Empty Flats, right above the Bog. Again, I've no memory of what I was putting there, though it is adjacent to the F'urth River as well as the Puddlejumpers. Perhaps the Puddlejumpers can acta as an intermediary. But we'll go with the Empty Flats often has adversarial relations with Edge City, and being near the Ocean Trade Route (which was only added in my mind the last couple of years), raids the caravans a good bit. 
      3. Connection 3 - enemy but friendly. There are civil understandings. Rolled another 4 and decided a re-roll for 3 so to the south-east. Which is in the East Sea. I've not stuck anything out there on these maps (as the various islands are "thataway" so far). We'll add a large island nation somewhere out there. Needing a name and using the random name generator, we get le Havre Turquoise, or the Turqoise Haven. Which, hey, I've some cool art that fits! And he may do another Kickstarter. 
  5. Intrigue and Espionage. Well, I rolled twice as I did not like the initial "none" but got it twice. Now, in the books, there are spies all over the place from all the usual suspects. But guess we can go with that, though obviously I can overrule the rolls, I am personally not good at being sneaky (many will tell you I can overshare at times!)
    1. Infiltration depth is ignored as we have no spies
    2. Counter-intelligence we have a moderate roll, giving us a few operatives in the city finding and dealing with spies. 
    3. Counter-intelligence watchfulness is vigilant: pursuit of ongoing and thorough.
  6. Notable Visitors - now this is for the moment, so we'll assume this is at the start of two games I started in Edge City. We have 3 notable visitors while our parties are in the city.
    1. An explorer who is doing a favor for a friend or loved one. 
    2. A banker looking for fun.
    3. A ruler who had a vision that caused them to come to Edge City. 
  7. Military. Edge City does have some military, but unless there is a threat, it is disbanded.
    1. Recruitment type is mercenary: bought and paid for. Which sort of makes sense for a mercantile city as everything can be bought.
    2. When they do hire, they hire at a grand scale. No bet like a sure bet. 
    3. The mercenaries they do hire tend to be unconventional. Probably a mix of several different races as befits both the way the Fantasy Trip & OSE both handle races as pretty common, as well as the way Discworld is set up.
    4. Military facilities are simple structure set up inside the city walls. barracks and officers' quarters, along with training grounds. Which are used for foot-the-ball games when not filled with mercenaries.
  8. Nobility. I could roll on the table but going to DM fiat and make it by wealth and possessions. Though there is some by blood as well, and by deeds. We have 17 primary nobles in Edge City, each with their own mini-fiefdom, or at least a large, well-kept lawn. 
    1. Relationship with the Patriarch is tolerated. He is still the head of the assassin's guild, though not everyone knows that. But people who go against him are often not found later, depending on how they are against him. Others end up with duties, such as managing the treasury, which at first seem to be a promotion or a good thing until they actually find out all the details involved. Few of the nobility want to actually do something.
    2. Relationship with the people is generally friendly. A nod or tip of the hat is common between the classes. 
    3. The basis of that relationship is a shared opinion of the Patriarch: While they agree on the positive aspects, they tend to disagree on the negative aspects. Perhaps because the Patriarch really seems to favor the everyman. 
  9. Community
    1. Culture - cuisine is how the residents find meaning. They love to eat and drink. 
    2. Pursuit of culture - there is almost a rabid fanaticism in the pursuit of food and drink. Festivals are common in celebrating various foods, and food is a major import as well as export. 
    3. Population density is dense (quite unlike Windemere Crossing). Few vacant buildings and the market can be very packed at times. Which is great for the pickpocket. 
    4. Demographics are 50% human, 25% Dwarf, 15% Elf, and 10% Goblinoid races. And a mix of a few other things. 
    5. The wealth is average for the general population. Most have enough to live a modest life. 
    6. There is a lot of visitor traffic, sometimes in droves. Congestion can be greatly impacted.  +2 to night activity
    7. The general feeling most people get are Edge City residents are a perhaps a bit stand-offish, but friendly once you get to know them. 
    8. There is a lively amount of night activity. There are always people on the streets, and many shops are open late and early hours. 
    9. There is an extensive city watch, lead by Captain Vimes. Whose wife raises baby dragons if I recall the books that feature him. She is actually of nobility. Pratchert uses that to show the difference often between the well-to-do and the average person. His books are social satire, so he usually has a point he is trying to make. 
    10. Crime: this is where it gets a bit tricky. In the books, crime is almost regulated: not too much but a bit is "allowed" if I am remembering. As such crime is still common in Edge City, meaning everyone knows or has heard of someone getting victim of crime. And oddly enough, I rolled a nat 20 for the organized crime table, so it is a well-known organization in the capital. Which is sort of like Ankh-Morpork. 
    11. Districts. There are 4 main districts in Edge City. Being a mercantile city with docks, going to auto-assign a couple.
      1. The docks exist mostly on the East Sea side of town, thought ere are several docks along the F'urth River that bisects the city. The western docks are river boats primarily, whereas the eastern docks are ocean-capable vessels, a mix of shore-hugging craft to deep-sea ships capable of reaching whatever the next continent over is. The condition is decent, not as great as the rest of the city. There are a lot of transients and sometimes questionable traders, and sailors of course can be rough when at sea for far too long. The docks are open, with no restrictions to this district. While warehouses will be locked and have guards, depending on the warehouse, there is nothing preventing anyone from wandering through. Crime is far more rampant in this district than elsewhere in Edge City. Few people live in the docks, though there are some great ale houses. It has the following locations as well:
        1. Rare trade goods shop
        2. Smithy
        3. Hired help - scribes and clerks
        4. barber
        5. shipwright
        6. Weaver
        7. Services including a house of leisure, an inn and a tavern. Several of each actually.
      2. The market district is not only for the sale of goods, but also houses several large warehouses as well as the small, family-owned businesses. It is adjacent to the wester docks. This district is also not up to par with the rest of the general city conditions but considered decent: child thief gangs can roam about under the careful management of their managers, and the open nightlife sometimes becomes overly raucous. As with the docks, there are no barriers to entry into the loud marketplace. Crime is about average as per the rest of the city, excluding the docks. A lot of the merchants live above their shops, so this district has a fair number of residents also living here. Locations included are:
        1. Baker
        2. butcher
        3. general store
        4. smithy
        5. tailor
        6. Rare libations and Fare
        7. Hired help - arcane academics (from the Unseen University, it's what upper classmen do to get a bit of coin so they can go drinking!)
        8. Bank and Coin Exchange
        9. Barber
      3. The merchant district house several merchant guilds, more warehouses, and a wide swath of businesses. This is an impressive district, with some stately buildings, and a cadre of lamplighters and street cleaners who keep the place well-lit and clean. Most lamplighters tend to be Goblins. While there are no gates to prevent people from entering or leaving, there are more guards in this location. Often hired by the larger merchant guilds, to prevent the riffraff from bothering the merchant lords. Despite the guards, crime is again about on par with the rest of the capital. Despite the elegance, there are few houses here as the merchant district is primarily for business. Locations include:
        1. Bank and Exchange
        2. Tailor
        3. Artist
        4. Cobbler
        5. Magic Shop - Curiosities
        6. Magic Shop - Jewelry
        7. Club (service)
        8. Tavern(s)
        9. Rare Libations and Fare
      4. The large administration district, next to the magic university, also has the personal residences of several of the city officials, including the Patriarch. This is also an impressive district, with large lawns, ornate buildings and often more city watch patrols. Very little crime happens in this district. Part of that is fear of the Patriarch and his guild, part of that are the guards, and the rest is a recognition that some places just should be safer. This district houses a number of people, ranging from city officials to a lot of the help in a smaller section of the administration district. Most of the help, however, lives in a different part of the city in various residential districts. Locations include:
        1. Courthouse
        2. Chancery
        3. Town Hall
        4. Treasury
        5. Hired Help - scribes and clerks.
        6. Barber
        7. Alchemist
        8. Bathhouse
        9. Tailor


from De Architecturart



Info overload, I know! I did ask Copilot to summarize and got the following. Though it only allows me 2000 characters. I'll also add a  summary and worksheet to the next Edge City Post. And perhaps I need to look at some existing settings books to see if there is a good way to present this info. There are some sample capital cities in the book, so I will have to read those to see how things get presented. 

Certainly! Let’s summarize the key aspects of Edge City based on the information you’ve provided:

  1. Origin and Age:

    • Edge City has a dual origin: it was built on the remains of an ancient capital (resurrected ruins) and also developed naturally from a trading post.
    • The current incarnation of Edge City is mature, estimated to be between 100 and 300 years old.
  2. Size and Population:

    • The city is large, with structures capable of supporting around 100,000 people.
    • Interestingly, this population size is similar to Ank-Morpork from the Discworld books.
  3. Environment:

    • Edge City is coastal, straddling the F’urth River and having docks that connect to the East Ocean. Boating capacity is abundant.
  4. Agriculture and Surroundings:

    • Outside the city, there are large groups of farms. These support Edge City’s needs and supply agricultural goods to traders within the city.
    • Although your roll indicated that nothing else exists outside the city, there are some fiefdoms, mostly agriculturally based.
  5. Stewardship and Governance:

    • Stewardship is well managed, with all fundamental elements accounted for.
    • The Patrician is doing an admirable job, contributing to general conditions, population wealth, and law enforcement.
  6. General Condition and Fortification:

    • The capital’s general condition is impressive, with cleanliness being a priority.
    • The sewers are in good condition, as discovered by adventurers.
    • Fortifications are substantial, although the exact details from the Discworld series are not recalled.
  7. Market Square:

    • The non-district market square is ample, providing space for numerous vendor stalls.

Edge City seems to embody the characteristics of an edge city, which typically features significant office space, retail areas, and a population that grows during the day due to employment opportunities12. It’s fascinating to see how this settlement has evolved over time! 🌆📜

I’ve summarized the key points about Edge City based on the information you provided. If you have any additional details or need further clarification, feel free to ask! 😊


Leaving that generated link in there, though Edge City was named as it is on the edge of the continent, and I am not always imaginative when naming things!

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Traveller 5.10 Book 1 - Part 7 - QREBS, Intuitions and Personals

Book 1: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8

QREBS

One of the more interesting things in Traveller 5.10 is QREBS. This system essentially allows us to customize things in terms of quality, reliability, ease-of-use, burden and safety. I see it is "why is that a +2 sword?" and with a mechanism behind it other than enchanted. Some games systems have a bit of this: fine weapons in The Fantasy Trip I think either do more damage or give an edge in your to hit roll as they are balanced so well. Traveller takes that and expands on it in a mechanism that can be used in any game system I think. What's more, it extends even further to give some rules on the working age, chances of breaking down, and so forth.

Of course we are full of tables: 

  • the explanations of the QREBS terms and a bit of how to use them
  • true age gives the age of an item, with current, antique, artifact, surplus and experimental columns. Roll flux to determine how old something is based on what it is. For instance. I go to a pawn shop looking for a communicator, and rolling flux of 3, it is only 6 months old.
  • location damaged based on what it is, so sub-tables for things, vehicles and equipment, character
  • damage severity to get the difficulty roll - how many dice will we need to roll?
  • diagnosis severity to get how hard it is to actually diagnose the issue, as above it gives us the target dice needed to roll. 
Let's continue with our 6-month-old communicator. Rolling for QREBS we have (and table definitions are in italics):
  • Quality = 7 (2D-2) which is pretty good, as a new one starts at 5 on average. We have found a premium Naasirka communicator in the used market! 7 = better than many
  • Reliability = 0 (flux roll). Right on average quality. Neutral reliability
  • Ease of Use = 4 (flux) meaning this is very ergonomical and has a great user interface making this easier to use. Easier to Use
  • Burden = 0 (flux) so not any better than any other communicator to carry about. Burden neutral.
  • Safety = 3 (flux) so a pretty safe communicator - not likely to have the power supply explode suddenly due to bad wiring. Safe to use
  • Working Age: a good flux roll of 0 means it was never used as even though it is 6 months old, it was a return and the box never opened. 
  • Period = Quality, so 7 is 2 years, so every two years of use we reduce the reliability. Better than many

Naasirka C-65 Communicator, used QREBS: 70403. 

While not for most things, and for buying something new we have a standard QREBS of 50000. Is this useful? It can be a fun set of rules. Our character bought the used (but new in box!) C-65 communicator. He first uses it, and the controls are simple and easy to use. If there was an emergency and using it became a critical issue for a task roll, I'd probably use the EOU as a modifier making the roll easier.  But I would also check the reliability: make a flux roll and if reliability (0) <= a flux roll, there is an issue: the battery died or something. Our character is out in the wild with is companion, who falls down a cliff and breaks a leg. Quick, let's see if the C-65 comm device can make the call. We are still in the 1st 2 years of use, so our reliability is 0. Rolling a flux of 3, we have an issue with the communicator! But it does not happen for 1D6 uses, meaning it will work fine the next 5 times we use it. Are there any indicators it is starting to fail? Flux < Safety, 1 < 3, so we have an indicator that the (roll on the things location table) that the output (speaker and/or screen) is starting to fail. Back at the ship, it is easy to diagnose (1 on the diagnosis table), but unfortunately it will be formidable to repair (a 4D roll, based on the damage severity table). They must have soldered that screen to the power system, speaker and use special screws preventing normal toolkit tools access. 

There is a rule to keep things up to date: in the case of our comm device, every 6 months we need to keep it up. This is an average task roll: 2D < Char + skill + Quality Mod + Mod. For this the characteristic is probably Int or Edu: I'd let the player pick the highest. Skill would be electronics, and there is an uncertainty if the skill < 6 of 1D. Which I must have missed in the tasks section. But apparently you need a very competent person to maintain equipment.

And if we keep the device properly stored between use have the reliability postponed. If the character only carries the device planet-side, that week in jump does not count towards the 6-month period. Working life is exactly that: while it is in use. Being stored does not count against the reliability period. 

So yes, more accounting. And in most cases not really necessary, but I still think with a bit of practice this gives us some interesting rules to be used in circumstances that are dangerous and depending on that equipment. And as per the Traveller 5.10, extensive rules. Most games I'd probably just make a die roll and base issues on that. The KISS rule. It is sort of like the armor rules in TFT: you can ignore damage and just assume that you are repairing your damaged armor between battles or track the amount of damage it takes. At some point the damage destroys the armor. Or how some games (Apex for instance) just attach a use die to the item: you can keep shooting your gun, but each time roll a die, and if a 1, you switch to the next die down. For instance, a pistol may have a usage die of d8. You can keep shooting but roll that d8 each time. Roll a one, and now you are on a d6. Roll a 1, and now on a d4. Roll a 1 and you are out of ammo. Realistic? No. Easy to use? Yes. Is it worth tracking? Like all things - it depends on the group and how we want to play. Most of the players I play with do not really want to get into the gearhead and nitty gritty details of stuff like that. But they are okay with me telling them the results of those nitty gritty details, they just don't want to deal with it directly. Although I do have the Saturday group and at least two of them are keeping track of their arrows. 

What is interesting is that there are rules so that the GM can have a hidden QREBS, and the players can start to discover the various factors when they actually use it. 

Is QREBS something to use? I think for an occasional one-off type of item, sure. But for 99% of the time, there is far too much tracking needed to make it work.

Intuitions

We have a single page for intuitions: intuition is the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. It seems a really odd addition to Traveller: players roll, and highest to lowest gets Insight, Curiosity and Luck. The 2D rolls used are their pools for that: they roll another 2D6 to use insight, curiosity or luck, with a -1 DM per each subsequent roll. The explanation of use is, of course, a bit lacking. I feel this is sort of like Fate or Luck points used in other games and seems just sort of tossed in there. The GM decides to use it or not, and the rills are done per session. Would I use this? No, but it does allow for a bit of flexibility in handling things. 

Personals

The personals are for handling NPC interactions, but going far beyond the "roll 2D6 for a reaction roll" (which I use in most of my games regardless of the rule set). Anyway, the idea behind this section is, yes, you can role-play the interactions but then it is often the personality of the GM vs the player personality. As a number of gamers (myself included) are not particular adept in social situations, this allows the character to have the interactions more so than the player.

There are details on the 4 types of personal: Carouse, Query, Persuade and Command. Using your skills, social status, and whatever else, you pick your strategy and tactics to get a target roll. I know there was a cheat sheet somewhere over on COTI explaining this a bit better. 

While I think it would be clunky the first few times, it could be a useful tool for those players who would rather not have to role-play things at times in situations where they are uncomfortable. Which does seem like an odd thing to say as this is a role-playing game, but not everyone is a thespian or able to really carry the character they are playing in all game play. For instance, in the Fate game I'm playing Grey Cat, a socialite vigilante. I had lunch at a posh restaurant meeting another young lady, daughter of a person of interest. While I can do her action scenes (gymnast acrobat, a combination of Catwoman, Batman and Huntress) I am not good at the social scenes. For me, this type of formalized play would have helped and given it a bit of structure. As I really had no idea what I was looking for, but that is another issue entirely! I am not good at quick responses. 

Monday, April 22, 2024

Traveller 5.10 Book 1 - part 6: Skills

Book 1: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8

 Now we get into what all those skills we earned in character generation mean. And the opening paragraph about skills define abilities is even confusing:

Skills are quantifications of each individual character's abilities. Skill is a broad label which is further divided into Skills, Knowledges and Talents. Each has its own usage and restrictions.

So, a skill is broken into skills? Is that like an apple is made up of apples? Seems almost like a Platonic idea of what matter is. Skills are then defined as an area of expertise. We actually start off with the master skill list, which as 64 skills. They are grouped by a general purpose skill, such as Admin, Driver; starship skills from Astrogator (and I still prefer Navigator but see as that could be confusing) and Pilot; trade skills such as Biologics and Gravatics (which is not the same as the engineering skill for grav engines?); the Arts such as Actor and Author; and soldier skills such as Fighter and Heavy Weapons.  Next to this list is also the list of many knowledges, which are the skills broken down even more. so there are technically more than 64 skills as several of those skills are a collection of skills. And we have talents, which usually are used by aliens and not humans. 

Which is where it gets really confusing to me: they are all skills to me. I think the way they did this in the Classic Mercenary and High Guard "advanced" character generation made more sense to me: you picked a specific skill if you got a broader skill. For instance, you rolled Driver and picked grav vehicle. And I think we're doing the same thing here but with a different name for the same thing. Though I think (and I'd need to re-re-read the character generation process) if you get 2 knowledges in a skill you pick up the broader skill, giving you knowledge-0 of the other skills, err, knowledges, in that grouping. Seems overly complicated to me, and not really needed. Why, back in my day a ship's engineer could maintain the jump and maneuver drives. And we didn't need no power plant! Now we have specialists. Which honestly reminds me how software development has changed over the years as well, come to think of it. 

We also get the default skill list, which is much larger than I expected: 12 skills you get at level 0 so you can at least attempt things, though it will be really hard so you will need to add an extra die to the dice pool. T5 does seem to have the skill explosion process down pat! I prefer the Mongoose and Cepheus versions where you get some default skills based on your home world, which T5 does as well in addition to the base default skills. Seems like a power gamers paradise. Starting out you get a broad swath of skills out of the door. Of course, in many ways this makes sense with T5's task system. But for me it seems to make the game more rolling than role-playing as the tasks cover so much. However, I think all that really also depends on how you run the game. In the end, you are still playing Traveller and if a well-prepared referee can have the tasks set up, you are still rolling dice for things that have an impact if you succeed or not. You are just rolling probably more dice and want to roll under the target. Which still does not sit well with me for Traveller. I am old and crotchety, what can I say! (And not really that old, though I did hit 60 a few weeks ago. Which when I started playing Traveller seemed like a doddering old age, but now that I am here, well, 90 is the new old age!)

Reading on, we find that each level of a skill represents about a year of training in theory. The naming convention is the same as it has been since Classic, with Pilot-1 meaning they have that skill at level one. Biggest difference is the level 0 skills, which were actually "half skills" in Classic I found when re-reading some of the old books. I think 0 makes more sense: you are not great at it, but you can try without a penalty. Though with the T5 task system, there is now a bit of difficulty as it adds a die to the dice pool. Unless you are cautious and take twice as long to attempt that task. 

An interesting touch to the default skills is that you can take a hobby after your career and have it at level 0. Except for the 2 careers that have a hobby built into them.

And finally, it is explained that the progression for those skills with sub-skills (aka knowledges) go knowledge, knowledge, skill. Meaning they get the Skill (such as ships boat) at level 1 but not the pilot  ACS (Adventurer Class Ships). Before that, they get the sub-skills at level 1 meaning they can try to pilot a ship if they have shuttle pilot but get no bonus and have and have the extra die because this is hard. Yes, I keep repeating that as the more I read, it does start to make more sense. But still seems pretty complicated. From the table, it looks like once you get that 3rd hit, you just bump up the skill. Which I read to mean that you have all the knowledges at that skill level. We've also changed the rule for maximum skill levels across all skills (which I think was more a house rule but may have been in the books) in that you can at most get a single skill level up to 15. Which matches the human-norm max for a characteristic. Coincidence, or just someone who really likes hexadecimal? And some knowledges max out at 6, and there is this thing about career knowledge based on the number of terms. The example is a Scout who has served 4 terms - he has Scout-4 as a knowledge. Meaning he knows a lot about the Scouts. How would that parley in play? I honestly think it would amount to a sort of specialized admin skill in dealing with the Scout bureaucracy. I can see this as a sort of useful tool when dealing with your previous career, but that is something I think most referees would have done out of the box. We just now have explicit rules for it. Which seems to be what T5 is trying to do. 

And that is the thing about T5: there are a LOT of rules and mechanics. I am hoping as I read through the books I can tease out some of the more useful ones and apply them to Traveller and other games. As there are some really good nuggets in there such as the QREBS system which I have written about, and comes up soon. While I think several make some sort of sense, I really have a hard time seeing how you could use all the rules. I think it is more like the MOAN principle but applied to the rules: use only what you want. MOAN is Map Only As a Needed. Which, if you've been reading my posts, you know I map way beyond that!

We have a quick recap of a skill check (which is what was the only check back in the old days): check against the skill only. An easy task is 1d6, a hard task is 3d6. Not quite the same as we need to roll under the skill level vs rolling 8+ and adding in your skill. But as T5 generally has higher skill levels, sort of similar and is basically the 68A rule from Megatravaller. Interestingly, you always fail if you roll the max. Meaning an easy roll of 1d6 is a lot easier to automatically fail than a hard skill roll (6 on 1d6 vs 18 on 3d6). 

Then we have almost 40 pages covering the skills, talents and knowledges in detail, along with a few examples on how to use them and setting up some task rolls. A far cry from classic Book 1's 5 pages covering the all the skills. But there is a consistent mechanism now for applying the rules and skills. Classic Traveller had a few skills that changed the modifications based on your skill level (looking at you, vacc suit skill!)

T5 is still accountants in space I feel!

T5 represents a skill explosion, which some gamers love, others hate. I personally prefer the simplicity of Classic Traveller yet I can understand having more details. It all depends on my mood. For instance, I am running 2 Fantasy Trip games: the mechanics there are pretty simple. And yes, there are a lot of talents and spells, but you either have it or not. Tracking XP is a lot different than level-based games: it is basically a purchase system: you spend XP to gain a stat boost or buy a skill or talent. Compare this to Old School Essentials, where your skills are class and race-based, and then level-based, and it is more nuanced for each type of character in terms of skill progression and talents. I like both, though I'll admit TFT is a lot easier to run. But I will get better at running OSE (and next year will try a Dolmenwood game). 

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Saturday Fantasy Trip Recap - To The Weeds!

Doing a bit of shopping, our heroes that use bows managed to pick up some new bows and arrows from Licheli's Shop of Unusual Bows and Arrows (from Fantasy City Scenes III) and a few other odds and ends. As they are in the marketplace, young Micheal shows up, begging for help:

Micheal comes running to the group - ‘Elspeth has Rat’s Bane. Their hideout is in rat-infested sewers, and she managed to catch the disease. In fact it is spreading like wildfire through the small group (Toddy, Estalar & Aleesa (twin elves about 6 - why are they abandoned in Edge City?), Eret, Wynna). Their manager, George, a wizened old man looking to be 90 but quick with his hands and mind, has been trying to help them. There is another half-dozen children about, but they seem ok. While two of the other children have been cured by a local cleric, there are other problems with the doctors, clerics and magic users with healing potions that are taking time, and George did not have enough gold. There is a plant that grows outside Edge City in the hills to the north that can be used.

I had made up a few notes for things to do and was thumbing through my book of Dreaded Diseases and Amusing Afflictions and the Rat Bane seemed interesting, especially as the child gang of thieves live in rat-infested sewers or abandoned buildings. Using yet another book about poisonous plants a decided on the vetch for some reason. No, it really makes no sense but hey, it is a small adventure at the moment.

First the group finds an apothecary that Hexis knows of, Eleanor Codington's shop (from Fantasy City Sites and Scenes II - see, finally using this stuff! Yay!) The Elf speaks for Dawn in Low Elvish a moment before getting back to common and asking what she can do. After the explanation, it turns out she has 5 bottles of an antidote for the rat's bane. Not many carry it as it only effects the poor who often cannot afford the cure, or do not know what it is until too late. And why only 5: because I intentionally set up 6 small children and I had 5 tiny little bottles for props...I think when my son was little we were planning on doing some sand in a bottle thing. Which only got as far as the bottles).

Alas, only 5 bottles for 6 children
Turns out there is a meadow up in Olmstead's Farm to the north, perhaps half a day walk, that has a field full of the plant, or weeds as Hexis and Axz keep calling the plant. Purchasing a healing potion as well, they are tasked with filling a burlap sack with the vetch so that Eleanor can brew up more antidote for rat's bane, and she will pay in another healing potion for that.

Taking the medicine, little 12-year-old Michael getting a ride atop Deimos, they find George and the children in a battered and abandoned tenement. They give the healing draughts to 5 of the children, Hexis being blunt about death comes to all, but they are off to get more weed to help cure Wynna. When Dawn asks about the twin Elves, George says that they were found on a raft under a bridge that is often a lover's tryst, so makes for easy pickings when the couple is otherwise distracted. The young Elves had fine clothing that Dawn recognizes as aristocratic clothing, but the children are in a delirium and cannot speak.

Just go down the road yonder, and turn right at the fork

Heading out, they get directions from the guards to Olmstead Farm, north and turn right at the fork. Heading out the first part of the journey is uneventful as Dawn sings to keep the company in good spirits, and they turn right at Guedliva's Inn (not knowing that the group of wanted murderers is under the well at this very moment trying to get through the dungeon there). The second part of the journey they encounter a small group of brigands, asking for a gold apiece to pass. Violet turns violent and unleashes the first attack with an arrow. Which missed, but fortunately misses Axz, who had moved behind the brigand.  Of course, a battle ensues, and one of the archers managed to shoot his buddy in the back (hey, it can happen to bad guys as well as our heroes!). They manage to kill all the bandits with the help of a summoned bear. Who, even with some dried salmon, was not too happy about being summoned from his berry patch and ordered to attack the bandit leader. Who he killed. The bodies had a little bit of money on them, along with some weapons. Wrapping up the weapons and hiding them a bit away from the road, they wrote no thieves here in the bandits' blood on their foreheads. Hearing a horse and wagon come up a few minutes later, they meet Mrs. Olm and her child William. They were returning from Edge City, dropping off a wagon of hay. The city goes through a lot of hay every day (and something to think about so that the horses are all fed in the city). While William is not quite old enough, he does look at Dawn perhaps a bit longer than his mother would like. As the group explains their mission, she gives them a ride to the farm. Deimos meditates most of the two-hour trip, regaining his strength from the magic used to summon the bear. Mr. Olm is at least 20 years older than his wife but does know of Eleanor and after a recap of the situation, sends them to the north pasture which is being let fallow this year and the vetch is growing wild. 

The group finds and fills up the sack, along with a second sack with roots and whatever part of the plant is needed to see if the apothecary can grow the plant in town. Violet had to tell the Lizardman and Goblin what to do as she has some amazing farmer skills. They clean up and enjoy a hearty meal and Dawn serenades the group again. They pick up a couple of rumors: two towns over graves seem to be emptying out, though if a watch is there nothing happens. And the Iron Castle seems to be mounting some attacks. Both rumors came from the Deck of Destiny - one of the players found that box and was looking through it as we played, so I had him draw out 2 random cards. 

We left with the group bedding down in the barn, the barn cats keeping clear of Axz. Unlike the cats around Fugh, these cats do not trust Goblins. And they are not sure about the lizard man either. Though Violet will wake up with a cat on her stomach, Deimos will have two cats curled around him, and Dawn has a cat that slept on her head. But at least they did not get bitten by rats!

Nothing too exciting, but we added some rumors from a random source, and I think the group had a good time. I do need to figure a more over-arching plan for them but so far mostly sandbox stuff. And figure an organic way to get Deimos another powerstone or something. Magic is hard for low level characters, but I like it that way. And I managed to use a few of the things I have, which makes me feel better about having all this stuff. If I can use it, then it is not just FOMO and the collector's impulse!