Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Traveller 2020 Game Prep, version 0.1

Just starting to think about what I'm going to do with the next game. As this will be the 4th game I've run for the club, I've created the book cover below from the wonderful  ZhodaniSpace website.

I do know it will be out on the Great Rift someplace as I need to use those supplements I bought. And there should be some Element Cruisers in there. I've got to get with everyone to see what sort of game they want to play from the previous list.

My next steps are to read some of those supplements to find a good starting spot, then do my normal overboard world background information dump that no one reads but is fun to generate.

I've also been reading the blog from the Frank GM which has some interesting ideas. While aimed more towards fantasy, they do apply. Hopefully I've added those websites to the bloglist on the right as they are quite useful.

Edit: so it IS the Great Rift, not Great Reft. Reft actually means: past tense of reave. I'll have to generate a new cover!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Traveller Game 2020

Looks like I will be running a Traveller game January and February of next year. The general consensus was for a new game and Classic / OTU. So somewhere in the existing Traveller universe. As I have these wonderful maps of the Great Reft, I believe we'll go out there somewhere on the edge of the edge of the Imperium. And somehow throw in those Element Class Cruisers.

Most of the people have played before, either with me or in years past. For those who have not, I found a really nice 2 page summary of Traveller on the Ace and the Dog site, It is a good overview and more succinct than I would have had. We've yet to decide on a theme, so I'll generate another survey for that. Seeing as I only got 3 responses from the last one asking for a Traveller or Fantasy Trip game, the few who like the internet will hold sway!

But basically you can have a general theme to start out with at least. While I do sandbox games where the player characters can do anything they really want to, it helps to have a general consensus of the sort of game to start off with. Using the Mongoose book skill packages as a good starting point, we have:
  •  general Traveller - wandering the universe with no real goal in mind. This is where the classic Patron encounters can really come into play. 
  •  Mercenary, focusing on heavy combat oriented games. I'll admit I am not particularly good at running these, having no real background in military doctrine (I got into role playing because, while I really like playing games, I have no tactical nor strategic abilities!)
  •  Traders - buying cheap and selling high, then still having to take on interesting jobs to make the mortgage. Firefly is the shining example of this style of game (and rumor has it that Whedon played Traveller in college and Firefly is basically from that)
  •  Explorers - your Scouts and research people. Can be hard to play for those who don't enjoy getting into world building.
  •  Diplomat - government operatives, and I would go as far to say Black Ops could fit into this so I can see a split party of high ranking people aligned with not so high ranking...
  •  Investigator - jinkies, figuring out things. Another genre I would have hard time refereeing
  •  Criminal - lead a life of crime, one step ahead of the coppers
  •  Bounty / privateer - not actually in the Mongoose books, but definitely a possible way to go. I have several deck plans that would work for bounty hunters.
I do like the skills package idea and the concurrent character generation to somehow link the characters together before the game even starts. The skills package is a nice bonus to even out skills. Two games back two players only went through 1 term, so they did not really get the characters they wanted (I was allowing them to start all over and they could have gone on the different careers, but they did not). 

A Note on Psionics

I am not a big fan of this, but if a player wants to try this we can. Note that psionics "age". Unless you are a Zhodani, psionics is feared and illegal in the Imperium. Your abilities will decline as you age unless you get training. So a possible adventure is the search for a psionic institute before any ability you have goes away. You start with 2D6 potential, and every 4 years after 18 it decreases (can't recall how much, only that it does). This is not a Star Wars game with the Force, but ostensibly a hard SF game. 


As for races, I allow the following races to be played. The problem with playing the non-human races is that the players really need to read the books or something to get into the characteristics of that race and not just play furry humans. Sometimes it is hard to step outside of yourself.


Human. Within humanity there are various origins:
  •  bog standard Imperial. 
  •  Vilani. A bit conservative :) 
  •  Solomani. Better than everyone else, and they do uplifting
  •  Zhodani. A peaceful psionic race. Would be an interesting challenge to play
Aslan. There is a strong sexual dimorphism between males and females. Males do not do scientific type of work and are primed for physical battle and acquiring lands. Females handle negotiations and technical things. Do not be disturbed if the Aslan calls all pilots female...A stereotype is the noble samurai. 

Vargr. Your dog-based species. Mongoose splits it up a bit more than my preference with 3 main types. But basically your chaotic, pack-based mentality. 

Droyne. Relatively rare, and the player type most likely to be used would be a Sport. This would require the player (and me!) to read up a great deal on them. They are small, usually winged reptile-like with hidden psionic abilities. Lots of rumors on them.

Not playable.

Races that are not great for playing and I probably won't allow unless a strong case can be made for it include:

Hivers. A manipulative race, very technologically advanced in robotics. A pentapod that uses gestures and translating devices to speak. I just don't know enough to be able to referee them well.

K'Kree, the militant vegan centaurs. First, the player would have to play an entire family as a solitary K'Kree is by definition crazy. And secondly they are extremely claustrophobic and there is no way you could get them to enter any human building or ship just about.

And more

Additionally, I have several other races that possibly could be played (Virushi, Ael Yeal are interesting choices and I have played them way back in the day), as well as a few others. And if a player wants to create an alien race we can do that. Within reason of course. I could even see uplifted apes or bears as they are canonical. 


A lot depends on what sort of game the players want to play. But I think any of the below are good. I seem to collect career books!

Pre-career options:
 Medical College (somewhere I've got rules on that)
 Military College
 Navy College

 Army (support, infantry, calvary)
 Navy (line/crew, Engineer/gunner, Flight)
 Marine (support, Star Marine, Ground Assault)
 Space Patrol

 Scout (courrier, survayor, explorer)
 Scientist (field researcher, scientist, physician)

Adventurer (Hunter, Pioneer, Relic Raider)
Agent (law enforcement, corporate goon, intelligence)
Arts (artist, collector, critic)
Belter (asteroid miner, prospector, worker) - at least 2 different career versions available
Bounty Hunter (hunter, repossession, support)
Citizen (corporate, colonist, worker)
Clergy (evangelist, minister, monk)
Craftsperson (architect, tradesperson, labor)
Drifter (Barbarian, Wanderer, Scavenger)
Entertainer (artist, journalist)
Fringe Marketer (black market, fence, pawnbroker)
Gambler (casino, sports, track)
Instructor (professor, teacher, tutor)
Investigator (not quite Agent; forensics, inspector, PI)
Merchant (Free Trader, Line, Mega, Merchant Marine, Corporate Shipper[crew, engineer, gunnery])
Noble (administrator, diplomat, dilettante)  - requires 10+ social)
Organized Crime (hitman, enforcer, operator)
Other (rogue: thief, enforcer, pirate)
Police (beat cop, patrol, strike force)
Politician (candidate, manager, operative)
Port Authority (control, inspection, stevedore)
Prostitute (prostitute, hetaerae, streetwalker. here for completeness?)
Psionic (*)
Scavenger (junker, picker, restorer)
Skyport Authority (aka port authority, I've at least 2 character systems for this)
SORAG (Zhodani intelligence *)
Surface Navy
Thief (con artist, hacker, intruder)
T5 Careers (I've not gone through these enough to generate characters easily, and T5 is not really compatible with Mongoose / Classic that we'll be playing. But we can adjust as necessary somehow)

Shadowrun Van

Looking around, I did find the official image of the fairly expensive van Jupiter has. It is a bland sort of van but really good stats. He did manage to drive it cross country and arrive alive after all. The quote from the site I found says:

Bigger and more powerful than it needs to be, this luxury van is the top-of-the-line in its class, and just as much of a status symbol as the Bentley. On top of that, it packs intimidating size and all the accessories for cruising through the wilderness. Or, more commonly, through elite urban neighborhoods. This expensive vehicle is gaining more and more popularity with discreet security details for its combination of status and security. 

3 5 3 15 12 2 4 3 10 68,000¥ Core

Now, this one is a tad beat up, and does have a Boris or Frazeata air-brush style painting on the side of a Viking on a Pegasus or unicorn. We're currently at what appears to be a high-end fixer, so I'm aiming towards armoring up and expanding my small, and recently diminished, fleet of drones. If you can call 2 drones a fleet. Although it may already be fairly well armored, but not knowing the Shadowrun rules not sure how a 12 stands up.

The official image is:

Poking around there are some other vans that I'll have to ask about that I think look a bit closer to what I have in mind. While the 1st is a fire truck, it would have the space for drones. I imagine my arial drones are on a roofrack that is also a charger, and the Lynx drone folds a bit but does take a chunk of space in the rear area. The 2nd van down is pretty close and may work. And finally, that last one is really interesting - a "van" if you stretch the definition, but with a variable payload or stripped down for some real speed I would imagine.

Next post I'll try & find som Vikings on mythical beasts. There was also an interesting email exchange for the 8 track sound track system installed. Magic-proof and matrix-free so no elf-induced feedback to worry about. Just the pure sounds of Tin Lizzie apparently...

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Shadowrun game

We've started a game of Shadowrun. I am playing Jupiter Jones, a human rigger. And, as everyone knows, I tend to get carried away with background (which is why I want to come back to previous games, but so far, in the few years I've been playing more actively with my current group, I've yet to continue a characters journey.).

Regardless, I've created 4 SIN cards for my character, 3 with matching drone registration cards, a real card, and a drivers license. Our story is taking place in Atlanta of 2075. Not a great place to be, and all we eat is soy apparently due to massive food shortages or something.

So for those who may recognize the name, Jupiter Jones was one of the three main characters in a series of books, the Three Investigators. As I was not sure if I was going to play male or female, the name works either way. But chose male. Looking for some character art and found one that was close enough to what I was looking for. Sorry I can't attribute it - one of the issues I have with Pinterest is that we don't always get to see where the image is from!  Regardless, he does have a proficiency for jury rigging and loves junk yards. I want to make one of the junk yards in Atlanta his lair. Not a great one, but a place to park his sweet van with a pegacorn and Viking painted on the sides, and plush shag carpeting inside. No, he does not get many dates.

The drones will be named for various characters in the books. As I've not read them in 40+ years, it is Wikipedia to the rescue. The lynx drone is Bobby. I need to get back to my character sheet and work that up a bit more.

But, here is the card sheet which I'll probably print on card stock and have ready for the game.

For what SIN cards are, I found this link to be useful: wiki

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Weekend catchup: Tracker, solo Traveller, and more!

So the weekend slipped by faster than expected. I did manage some light yard work, scrubbed the basement bathroom, and washed the bamboo floors upstairs. So housework was out of the way. I managed to start painting a few of the Sine Tempora game's minis, but I fear badly. I really need to watch some more instructional videos and slow down. I did order a "learn to paint" kit from Reaper along with some minis. Broke the $40 part so free shipping and a free mini along with the paints and their guide. We will see if those paints work any better than the 50 cent acrylics I get a Wal-Mart.

I also managed to get the Traveller Core version to work as it was, and some research indicated that yes, I can distribute the whole thing as a single exe. There are 3 options, and I'll go for the smaller of them which assumes you have the .NET Core installed on your local machine. If you keep up with the MS updates, that should be the case. I suppose we'll find out at some point. I still want to style the big main menu buttons, and for some reason the images are not showing up there. I will hopefully get that figured out, and may put the exe file out there for others to see what happens. Just because it works on my machine...

The Traveller solo game has slowed down, so I decided to expand out a bit more for Krim. The pilot's guide has been slightly expanded, and I've added a high-tech medical company, Meditech LLC (no, not an imaginative name). Created a bad logo and will have the company overview posted below. There will be more adventures of the No Refunds and her crew, just need to get more motivated.

And finally, I've also stalled on the Death Test game I was solo playing. Want to get back to that but time and motivation don't seem to overlap for many of the things I want to get done.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Traveller Tracker - Core Edition?

So when I got the new computer, part of the process was also installing .NET core (and don't even try to keep up with all the .NET naming. While I know I am horrible at naming things, MS tends to be all over the map).  Anyways...for some reason the previous project thought it was and was not .NET Core. I was targeting the most recent Windows .NET which is 4.7, and honestly, while it will be around a while is really at end of life as they move everything to the unified "this will work on everything" process (which they tried originally with the UWP: write it and make sure the view ports were flexible enough and it would run on Windows computers, tablets, Xbox and phones. If you are not in the development world: it pretty much died. )

Anyway, I spent another hour trying to get the packages to work (the packages are libraries. In Ruby, they are gems, on C they are libraries, and that's about all the languages I use that use packages). I could not get it to work.  So, moving on to a new version. Again. With .NET Core. I've got it almost back to where it was (which was not too far anyway). There seems to be some difference in the Entity Framework (one way of talking to the backend database for the program). There is that final piece and I should be good to go again.

One of the advantages of moving to the newer framework is that in theory I think I can generate a single .exe file that is the whole thing: no installers, just download and run. In theory...if so, that would solve the biggest issue I have - getting it to run for other people. Not that there is a high demand for this, but hey.

And just to preen a bit: the last computer would take at least 2 minutes to load the project. The new computer has the IDE (integrated development environment where I can write the code, debug and run it) on the boot SSD and it is ready to go in less than 5 seconds. Having an SSD and twice the memory (16GB vs the 8GB) makes a huge difference for a lot of things.

Hopefully I will have some time to get that going this weekend and another post. I want to actually make those square buttons more SF like - chop off an edge or something.

And also, I've joined the Reaper Bones V Kickstarter. I fear I will spend far too much money for minis now that I am starting to paint them. Just have to actually USE them in a game...going for the core set and just bumped up for 2 expansions. As the pledge manager will be open for a long time afterward I fear I will have far too many minis. But I need those dragon columns! And that Greek expansion set - oh my!

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Shadowrun - Session 0

With 5 people and 2 books, character creation was an interesting challenge. Plus the 5th edition books tend to not be well organized, and instructions somewhat vague and spread across multiple pages. 

Regardless, I did manage to get my Rigger, Jupiter Jones, set up. Background from before knowing anything about the mythos and world of 2075 Shadowrun:

Jupiter Jones from Rocky Beach, CA originally. Dumpster/junk yard diver to create interesting drones. Should have high IQ and technical/mechanical background skills, perhaps socially awkward. Per conversations should be early-mid 20's.  Moving to game location due to a "request" from local authorities to prevent him from "looting" various dumps.
Will name his drones Petey, Bobby and other names from (I think I read most if not all of those back in elementary school). Has an affinity for creating "lairs" in junkyards.
I'll post the stats later, but as I picked the most money, we'll add he comes from an above average middle class family. I did get a sweet van and 3 drones, still have money left over. The van is going to have a pegasus painted on the side, either a Boris or Frazetta inspired air brush image. I may do that with all the drones - I also picked artisian as a skill.  Also picked jury-rigging and a few other skills to make my background work. I still think I prefer random character generation, but I can see the appeal of designing a character to specs within a limited array of choices.

Here's a Boris Pegasus to see where this is going. Pretty sure they will be shag carpeting, beaded curtains as well.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

The Fantasy Trip Pantheon: Mim, God of Rain

Mim, God of Rain

Mim is the 1st son of Monta, God of the Elements, and Alamia, Goddess of the Earth. While Dwarves are the most attuned to Mim and Alamia, many other races venerate these gods as well. The ancient histories indicate that Mim created the Dwarven race. Whether or not this is true, it is what the orthodox Dwarves believe. Humans tend to think the God of Rain is why Dwarves are often so dour.

Mim does not have any particularly required devotions or holy events, so most adherents tend to make their own up. Mim will often send his avatars throughout the world, and there is always an aspect of water to these visitations (see Mim's Herald) Mim tend to the soulful, but is also the bringer of life: without the rains, life would soon cease to exist. He is known to bestow graces upon his clerics, and has answered farmers' prayers for rain, or even to cease the rain. 

He will rarely get vengeful but when he does, he brings down elements of his father upon those who have enraged him. 

Dwarves will more often prayer to his mother, Alamia, Goddess of Earth. Yet they also have respect for Mim and his life giving rain. They just prefer the earth in many ways. Often their underground shrines have aspects for both Mim and Alamia. 

The symbol that most adherents use is the knife on a cross, the knife being a vine encrusted hilt. It is often in a pool of running water in most shrines, open to the skies for rain to fall upon it. The saints for this religion, when done in statuary, are standing in a bowed position, arms outstretched as to receive the rains. They are depicted in armor, hands free of gauntlets but wearing rings. Usually guarded by 3 wizards for an active shrine or temple, those in neglect often are protected by wizard's spells to protect any holy items. As per the mid-winter festival that meet in the grove, offerings are not only ale and other grain-based drinks, but also leaves and flowers.

Prayers to Mim can bring down the rains, and higher level clerics may be able to ask for lightening and flash floods. Mim can also stop the rains - he does not generally mess with nature's own rhythms but may as needs arise. 

From Pinterest, could not find the original post


At the junction of a smaller path heading west, the adventurers see the pillar of water with the frolicking puppies. The avatar, its voice bubbling with emotion, pleads with the crew to visit the temple of the grove.

"Please, my lord Mim can no longer hear the priest who was in the midst of our mid-fall festival. The prayers were suddenly silenced and we fear nefarious intentions." The puppies, who were playing about the base of the flowing water column, stop and growl. They are amazingly cute. Mim's avatar continues: "I am the Beloved of Mim, and alas, whilst I can communicate his holy words, I cannot see what has happened."

Should the adventurers ask, the avatar will indicate that the grove is only a few miles down that path. It is not wide enough for the horse and cart (our group is with the Dwarf Mage and her protector, Heinrich, along with another pony pulling a cart piled with timber and barrels of peary). If they ask what is in it for them, the Herald will first wave its tentacles in the air, the puppies looking up at the adventurers with wide, puppy eyes. "I am but a poor herald, a voice among many. A young voice that fears I have nothing for you."  If pressed, the tentacles will droop, and one will move into the flowing column of water and bring out one of the treasures from the Deck of Many Things (another KS I did; feel free to drop in any small treasure. But by golly I want to USE those things I keep getting!).

The path to the grove is winding. The mage and her guard will stay with their wagon and wait for perhaps an hour or two. The other cart will continue its journey to Edge City. This is also the place where I can bring in other players: there could have been all sorts of people staying at that inn for whatever reason.  The adventurers will hear the sounds of birds and squirrels in the trees at first, but as they approach the temple in the grove, the sounds seem to dwindle until there are no more natural sounds. They come upon what appears to be the grove, a small, square building with a well outside in rough but serviceable shape. There appears to be a small garden outside the door, and a couple of chickens scratching in the dirt. There are trees and brush, and a well-worn area near a statue. Looking past the statue, then can see what appears to be a cleric tied to the tree.

At this point, start with the attacks. Have any scout-like character roll to hear for anything - a succesful roll indicates roll to initiative as normal, else the thieves will have the initiative for the 1st round.

The thieves are a mix of humans and goblins, ill-dressed and ill-armed. There will be 1d6 more attackers than adventurers, and they will be 32 point people. There are a lot of 32 point fighters out there - use some of them. Armor will be limited to leather, and there will be no fine or magic weapons. There are 1d6 coppers per brigand (they are poor thieves) and the weapons and armor are ill-made and not worth anything.

When the battle concludes, assuming the adventurers are the winners, they can release the priest. He is an elderly human male, tonsured.

"We were starting the feast of thanks when those brigands arrived." The group may notice that there appear to be no other supplicants around. "Oh,", says the priest. "It is just Gerty and Francine for this feast this week." He points to the chickens. "It is the peary harvest and people get busy. Mim is not so picky to require a full house other then the mid-winter celebrations."  He is bruised, battered, and first aid would help.  

The cottage aka temple is a rough-built square house with a thatched roof, a simple table with two candles and an open book. A small chest is to the left of the table, and a bed to the right of the door. 

"I am Reginald Oosterman, and I give my thanks to you for saving me." He rummages about in the small chest and brings out what looks to be a small knife. "As Mim gave this to me when I saved a young lass, I can grant you this knife as well."  It is a small dagger, the hilt appearing to have vines wrapped around it. It is blessed to do +1, so does 1d6 damage. It may fetch $20 rather than the normal $10 a dagger costs. "This, and a feast of thanks." Outside next to the well, on a stump, is a small meal. While enough for 1 frail old man, it would be just a few bites each for the group. But Reginald will be insulted if they don't partake of the meager portions he sets aside for each player. 

If the adventurers check out the brigands, other than smelling bad and having nothing of value, each of them has an intersesting tatoo on their right forearm. It is a snake wrapped around a sword and what looks to be a rune or writing in a language no one here can read. Reginald has no idea what this could mean or say either. 

If anyone makes a 4D roll against IQ, they may recall seeing that painted on some of the walls in the caves they were mushroom hunting in. They are part of a larger group...

Reality Trip part II

New computer, everything seems to be installed and back to working. Except: for some reason the Traveller Tracker program is having issues (nuget, aka the package manager, seems unable to find some of the packages). It is probably a solvable issue and I did spend some time on it but after more than an hour, got nowhere. There are, of course, several options: keep trying that, start fresh and maybe the transition will be okay, or just stop entirely. It has been a bit more difficult to do software in my spare time lately, I think part of it is that I am just tired of coding after almost 40 years of doing this. Could be a mid-life crisis! So off to a new hobby - painting miniatures! :)

I plan on working out at least one of the gods of my little corner of Cidri, expanding on the avatar I did a few weeks ago. I'll try & actually make a mini-game, something with maps, encounters, all that. Try my hand at writing a generic OSR module. If I got good enough, maybe aim to get one done at least once a month, switching between Traveller & The Fantasy Trip. We'll see.

So hopefully there will be another post today, extending the map to the shrine and having some encounters along the way.

And there is also interest in Traveller at the gaming group. I'll post an email for the Jan/Feb game slot to see if there is enough interest.

And: a 32" 4K screen is....large for a monitor. But really nice!