Saturday, February 29, 2020

Big Wreck Session 7 - Meeting George

One of these days we may have to do something about those 7 days or so in jump. Bring out some more character development, or at least bring out some of the NPCs background. Although I've really yet to have much of a background for Jarred other than that initial random background I got off the interwebs...

The Freekin Awesome comes out of jump, a coupe of hours from the only reflecting spot in the dark - the eponymous Big Wreck itself. The group does a loop about the ship, using the civilian sensors to find that the power plant is still running but putting out a bit more radiation than it should. Fortunately there is a radiation blocker above the engines not shown on the images I found. The decide, after looking over the ship, to board mid-deck or so. Getting their ship close, they use a magnetic grappling line to secure the jump across the void as their ship cannot dock directly to this huge vessel (plot, you know). The do manage to cross over, work some magic and get into the functioning airlock. They move to the cargo elevator but cannot get to the bridge, so start wandering the top-most deck they do have access to. It is the upper bar area and there are living plants still present, apparently well taken care of. As they explore, the elevator on the other side of the deck opens and out trundles a little robot, watering can in hand. Santiago stands down as they watch the robot do a bit of pruning and watering, then they follow it back to the elevator. They go down to the engineering support deck below the domes, and the robot wanders off. As they start to follow, there is the sound of shuffling feet, and they see it: a shambling, zombie-like human is moving towards them!

Rand shoots and misses with a knockout needle, and Kelya jumps in front to attack with his cutlass. Yet, due to the dexterity mod of wearing a bulky, second-hand vacc suit, manages to miss. The zombie does not but manages to only tear some of the external covering of his suit. Stepping back, he gives room for Santiago who blows it away with a shotgun blast. Hearing more feet, they run to the elevator and just barely manage to get there, with what sounds like claws scraping at the door. They go back to the highest deck, and start searching for engineering access, and they find a Jeffries tube (there are always Jeffries tubes!) going up.

Climbing up the zero-G shaft, they get to the bridge eventually, and with the tools in hand, manage to get on to the bridge where they meet George!

I have this miniature I wanted to use...

George was not actually armed, but is an uplifted gorilla. Hurting my throat to do a gravelly imagined gorilla voice, they players finally get an idea of what happened.

This is an old Earth ship, circa a few thousand years old. Due to a horrible misjump, they are way off in terms of time and space. Heading to Alpha Centuri, George was head of security for the colony. He was taken out of cold berth a few weeks back and is in over his head: not only was the ship part of a colony ship full of cold berth settlers, there was also the Wrath of Kahn vibes as these were also genetically modified humans. Sadly the misjump also managed to corrupt a few of them, hence the zombies on the lower decks, George's "children" that he unsure what to do with.

And that basically concluded that game, though I am thinking they may want to continue that. How to get George and the ship back to civilization? How will the Solomani deal with this part of their history, which is also why Zandra wanted to get to the ship and possibly destroy it or ensure it never returns to Solomani space.

I also brought in several game boards in case they went through the domes. They did not.

If they want to continue this game in a few sessions, we'll have to figure out what they can do. There are a few options as I see it:
1. they cannot take George back on the Freekin Awesome unless they leave at least one or two behind - the life support was struggling with the 4 people on the ship and a 5th, very large life form may put it over the edge.
2. they may need to get jump drives or something. The existing drives are kaput. How to get drives to the ship?
3. Traveller does actually have a jump ship that can be used to jump with other ships but it is for much smaller payloads. The Big Wreck (which needs a name!) is huge.
4. I may be able to use more deckplans - I do have a salvage ship which is pretty darn cool!
5. Will the SolSec agents catch up to our group and perhaps be more effective?

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Fantasy Trip Character - Prentum

Thankfully my Sunday group may have a second game master, as the father probably has read more of the book than I have! So in preparation, I introduce my 1st 32 point character, Prentum Bysk:

Prentum Bysk

ST: 11
DX: 12  adjDX: 10 (adjDX missile weapons: 12)
IQ: 9
Missile Weapons x2
Long Bow (1d+2)
Short sword (2d-1)
Leather Armor (2)

Human male from the deep woods around Hamor, north of Edge City. Unlike many of the  other adventurers out there, Prentum comes from a happy family, learning to hunt in the woods and picking up some sword fighting from his Aunt Gwen, who served a few terms in the town guard. A handsome young man with great ambition, on his 18th birthday Prentum decided to venture into the wider world outside the woods and carries his long bow, a sword gifted from his Aunt, leather armor his father made from a buck Prentum had killed with his bow, and, as a gift from his several siblings, a true labyrinth kit from the Goblin's store in Hamor. Armed also with his natural charisma, he is hoping to have many adventures!

Software - What the blog was originally tracking

Originally, when I re-found Traveller after a couple of decades of wandering the gaming wilderness, I decided to write some software for it. Way back in the day, I did a lot of that during college: back then, hexadecimal programming was a thing with assembly and some of the early robotics that I was doing. Traveller itself uses a lot of pseudo-hexadecimal coding, so it was a natural fit.

Flash forward a few decades, a few OS and programming languages, and a family (much to my constant surprise!) and I got back into it. I wrote a Winforms trade program that basically worked, if it was a bit clunky and horrible architecture as I just kept throwing more stuff into it. It probably still runs - that was 3 computers ago but I've the source code and pretty sure it would compile. A few people I think actually used it.  Then I managed to get back into actually playing and the software updates became game updates, except when I was between jobs and would decide to try my hand again, updating to newer frameworks. Tried the MVVC route but still cannot wrap my head around it - too much implied routing and seems to make some things just so much harder. Tried a few other things but finally settled on .NET Core, which, other than the UI, will run on any machine. I am fairly certain down the road they will port XAML to other OS as it is a pretty sweet markup language. And after a few weeks, perhaps months, finally re-opened the IDE and fixed the issue with the buttons not having the images show up: had to mark the images as content.

And then I get an email from a fellow COTI working on the Rails side of things and invites me to help. I put it off for a long time, then recently decided I needed to actually learn Ruby and Rails (its MVC framework) as it is what is used at work for half the software we use, the other half being Filemaker which is slowly getting converted to Ruby to make a single, monolithic app (and there have been multiple discussions on that!). Then I get another friendly ask to see if I was interested at the same time, so I figured it is the software gods reminding me that a developer that is no longer learning is no longer a developer (or as a friend of mine from almost 30 years ago told me: a rut is just a grave without ends)

So, I've installed Ruby & Rails on my computer, installed Ubuntu thinking I could mimic the workflow from work at home, and cloned work's repo to the Ubuntu subsystem. And now I'll be cloning the Traveller repo to see if I can start to learn and help out with what is an open-source program I think.

So look at me, getting all modern :)

I just need to figure out how to actually USE Ruby & Rails, either on the Windows side or purely in the Linux / Ubuntu side. And in testing, the Mac-specific things do not work on Ubuntu, no surprise there. So not entirely sure how I'll get a working environment up to speed. Yet. I can learn, and staying employed is a pretty good motivator!

Now for those not familiar with a lot of the technical side of things, here is a brief primer from my perspective.

Ruby is a scripted language, written to delight the developer. It is something like 20+ years old now but gained greater attention when the Rails framework was added, making it an ideal MVC (Model-View-Controller) system for web development. The framework helps in adding persistence (saving the data to the database) and make things a lot easier for the developer as it uses "convention over configuration". What this means is that as long as you follow in the Rails conventions, things just work. Do not cross the line, though. Ruby is available for most OS I think, and has a lot of really nice features. The last few versions they have been working on increasing speed and scaling. Scripted languages tend to be slower than compiled but poorly written software in any language is slow: there are things we can do to make Ruby & Rails scale. I believe Kickstarter is a Rails project for the most part (I think parts have been swapped out lately though).

Microsoft, seeing the popularity, basically copied the Rails MVC framework into its .NET MVC framework, .NET are compiled languages, and a bit more complicated in some ways. While personally I think it makes for faster development as things won't compile if wrong and refactoring is a lot easier, there is an entirely different learning curve as the .NET does not hold your hand as much. But it also gives you what I think is greater freedom, such as being faster and scaling better. And as of a couple of years ago, big chunks of .NET are now open source and, with .Core, cross-platform as well. MS saw the writing on the wall, and has been focusing more on the backend and less on what used to be their cash cow, Windows. Linux is no longer a cancer (pretty sure Balmer may regret saying that)

In the end, software is software. The same principles apply regardless of language or framework, just the details differ.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Big Wreck Session 6 - Ahngrim

The players arrived at the snowball planet of Ahngrim, a cargo hold full of high tech weapons destined for a low tech world. But paid for in advance - they were simply the couriers. Landing at the port they are met by both the port warden and Lady Gis Abella, the Imperial representative of this client-state of the Imperium. The class D port does not have a suplus of ammenities. Before they can unload, they are asked to keep the cargo on-board the ship, as the sole warehouse lacks both a front door and locks. Agreeing to do this in exchange for fuel, they talk to the warden and find that the old port, about 10K away, probably has some derelict drop tanks that they may be able to use. The big Wreck is 4 parsecs away, and Jarred does not want to live his life out on an odd starship out in the middle of nowhere.
Getting Eustace and the snow bear, Fluffles, to pull the port's single grav sled, they first go shoppping to get some stylish bear fur clothing to brave the cold. The city is dug into the chasm behind the port, a literal steam punk decor of huge brass pipes all over using the natural venting geothermal vent the city is built around.
Their trek across to the old port is relatively uneventful - while they do see a small pod of the 8 legged snow bears, those bears simply gaze at the Travellers as they cross the natural rock bridge across the Chasm. While minor steam clouds came from the depths, there was not enough to obscure the somewhat dangerous trek over the deep fissure. At the old port, they were met by Cletus, the old warden from the old port. Looking back into the small warehouse, they do indeed find a collapsible drop tank, and with some block and tackle and successful rolls, they get the things loaded and secured to Fluffle's grav sled.
The return trek was a bit more eventful - 3 bears decided to charge the group as most were walking this time around, the sled loaded with the tanks. Kelya takes a single shot with a laser rifle and makes a clean kill at almost 100 meters off. Santiago, tease that he is, waited for the two remaining bears to get a bit closer, and with a shot from his gauss rifle, kills the second bear with a clean shot. The remaining bear takes the better part of valor and turns tail. They load the bears into the sled and complete the journey.
Back at the port, a confrontation takes place with the port warden, the Lady Gis, and a group of yo9ung people ready to get their rifles. The Knightess Gis asks the players, as a personal favor, if they could retain the rifles: there is violence brewing and she does not think a well armed society will  be, in fact, a polite society. Santiago makes a compelling and somewhat terrifying speech to the crowd, and they disperse agreeing to not take the guns, while the Lady Gis pays them the credits they spent on the weapons. Those weapons will be stored at the port until another trader comes by and she can sell them then to recoup her expenditures.
Getting the tank attached to the now refueled Freekin Awesome, the group lifts off to the Vanguad class fuel station to get the tank filled and ready to go. They are warned by the port warden of an incoming ship, and the group stays up in the cafeteria when Zandra and a henchman with an S lightly etched his forehead show up. Loud arguing with the station crew ensues, and the group decides to try & help things along by talking with the SolSec agent. Her pleas to return the device and not go to the Big Wreck, as they will be destroyed, go unheeded and the group, pretending to have no idea what she is talking about, prepare for the jump to the Big Wreck.

Now, I feel I hurried a bin in this part of the adventure: I think we could have spent another session there had I built out Ahngrim a bit more. The brass fittings were a spur of the moment decision when describing the city, and that spoke to me of some more of a steam-punk vibe, although this is even earlier tech at TL 2. Steampunk may be more TL 3 or 4, but I'd have to look up the tech levels.
We were also down to half the group, two out due to a cold or other medical situation. Which also brings up a point about our gaming group: we do seem to have dwindling numbers. While most of the group, including me now, have others they game with, we need to figure out how to bring in new members. But that is a topic for a different post.
The final session is coming up. I've got parts of a couple of games I plan on bringing for that last session. Got a pretty good idea of what I want to do, and while it may end up being a TPK, we shall see.
A few loose threads from the current adventure: no one has managed to get a vacc suit. I'm going to go with the ship's locker has a couple of suits, but will have the normal or even worse DM to dexterity, which will affect shooting and general moving about. May make the characters thinking about getting better space suits!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Planning a game and a review to date

For the games where I know we have so many sessions, I try & plan things out in broad arcs. The current game had 3 acts, each with multiple scenes that were somewhat optional depending on timing. I've started to try & plan for something exciting to happen once per session - be it combat, a tense conversation that could change everything, or something to keep the players interest. Combat tends to be the thing that mostly keeps players interested.

So in looking at the current game, and knowing I had 8 2 hour sessions or so to try & fill, my original idea was:

Act 1 - Meet, Greet and Get This Adventure Rolling

Scene 1 - Session 0, creating characters, figuring out how they knew each other, and bring about initial adventure parameters. If this were a continuing game, scene 2 would have been part of session 0 as well. This is the initial patron encounter and set up for the rest of the adventure.

Scene 2 - Session 1, shopping and planning. This is where they collect equipment, view whatever plans they have (ship plans of the King Richard in this case), and prepare what they can.

Act 2 - Action on board the King Richard and to Antiquity

Scene 1 - Session 3, getting on board, tour of the facilities, meet contacts on board the ship, the passing of rumors. This rolled into

Scene 2- Leaving orbit and planning based on observation.

Scene 3 - Session 3 continued, the heist. Actually getting the device, more rumors, contacts

Scene 4 - Session 4, arriving at Antiquity, setting up the contact from the Bureau

Scene 5  - Session 4, L7 bar fight and escape. Meet up with new bureau contact and see about continuing

Scene 6 -  Session 5, meet up with Jarred and the Freekin Awesome

Scene 7 - Session 5, at the port, paying off fines, loading cargo, and shootout in the corridors

Act 3 - Final Showdown

Scene 1 - Session 6 (coming up) - arrive at Ahngrim, get the lay of the land

Scene 2 - Session 6, retrieving the drop tank, a trek across the tundra

Scene 3  - Session 6 (hopefully) Old Port, meeting the citizens and accessing the drop tank

Scene 4 -  Session 6 (hopefully) back to the Downport, another trip across the freezing tundra

Scene 5 - loading the drop tank, prepping for launch, embargo released and weaponry off-loaded. But who gets the guns?

Scene 6 - loading drop tank with fuel - where? There is a small refueling station (hah, another deck plan!) they can refuel as they cannot fill the drop tank & actually take off from Ahngrim.

Scene 7 - Zandra returns! Firefight in the station? Warnings about the Big Wreck?

Scene 8 - end of Session 6 (hopefully) jump to the Big Wreck

Scene 9 - Session 7 (final session) - Welcome to the Big Wreck! Seen similarly to the Black Hole in terms of visual, though the ship is not that large.

Scene 10 - exploring the Big Wreck. Dungeon crawl in space!

Scene 11, Epilog - finish up, any survivors head back?

Some of the scenes could have been eliminated - last time I ran a game, we had several sessions where not everyone could make it. So there was excess filler to not let people miss some of the key moments, then I ran out of time. I'll probably compress some of the Act 3 scenes, as I figure the final session may end up being more of a dungeon crawl.Couple of years ago, I did fit in Death Station in time for Halloween for that campaign arc. 

It can be hard to plan for a larger set of sessions. There are plenty of campaigns and one shots to cover an indeterminate number of sessions to a single night. I tend to put published adventures in my sandboxes when I can. This last session I've not done that as I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go and believe it or not, 8 sessions would barely cover that. Part of that is there is not a lot of exploration or shopping in our games: the players are not as familiar with Traveller, having last played decades ago in some cases. If we get back to the same characters, there may be more world exploration if we make a more open-ended campaign. To do that, though, probably means running it outside the gaming club and I think everyone is pretty much over-subscribed to games as it is. But I can hope!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Big Wreck Session 5 - Leaving Antiquity

The meeting at the TAS Hotel went well, and the group is given a Cr150,000 credstick to purchase transport to the Big Wreck via the Freekin Awesome. After a good night's rest, the go to Unit 54 of the Magnum Hostel, the lobby with a very drunken Naval crewman giving it the proper impression. A brief conversation over the cracked and frankly germ-ridden comm screen and they meet Jarred, the man who actually helped out in the L7 bar by shooting one of the attackers. Fees were discussed and the group gets to an agreement and heads back to the port in the grav vehicle, our Johnny Cab as they are relying on the high-tech auto-pilot to get them where they are going.

At the port they split up: one group to finalize the transfer of the cargo, high tech weapons going to Ahngrim. No questions asked as to who the buyer may be, but they are getting the standard cargo fee to transport the weapons. It will take about 45 minutes to transfer the cargo from the warehouse outside the port to Bay E-23. In the meantime, Jarred was paying off his port fees, the group retrieves the weapons stashed in the grav vehicle.

They also encounter someone watching, and Santiago catches up to the man before he can flee, using his dew claw to dig in for that little extra grip, signifying he could as easily rip the man to shreds as hold him. Some quick conversation and, yielding only name, rank and serial number, Rand uses his truth serum. Apparently a very fast acting truth serum as, getting more and more loose, our anonymous agent lets loose that their is still a squad in the port, and Zandra is here as well. About to pass out, they put the man in a nearby chair, Santiago lightly cutting a small S into the mans' forehead and Rand spilling booze all over him  Carting their weapons and what little luggage they do have, they get to the entrance of the gangway.

It is here where two well-armed thugs approached and drew weapons. Santiago, having no compunctions against firing, shoots a burst from his gauss pistol. This shreds one of the thugs, and the other shoots and misses. However the lockdown procedures have started and perhaps a dozen meters behind them, and 70+ meters in front, bulkhead doors drop down sealing the group, the thugs and a few unfortunate pedestrians in the corridor. Next round, the access door to the gangway opens and the group runs through. Santiago wants another round but the shutdown is also closing off that access, so he joins the group. While shooting at the door is somewhat futile, the group is stuck in the access block, not on the actual gangway to the ship. Lockdown has also sealed the inner door. Kelya, using electronics, rolls a 12 (!) and bypasses the locking mechanism on his 1st roll. They hurry to the ship and seal it behind them.

The port calls in, and they explain what happened, and as there are security cameras, the port is letting this go as self-defense. (yes, there probably should be red tape but (a) we were approaching the end of the session and (b) there are only 2 more sessions available, so we need to get to the next location. Last game I ran we go to the final location then ran out of time, so trying to pace this to get what I consider the adventure completed).

They monitor the cargo getting loaded - two dockworkers load the cargo, two dock workers leave, and the ship takes off, heading to Ahngrim.

Now, a few things. Still not happy with combat but I think I am wanting a more tactical game, and this a role playing game. So while we could get a lot more technical, I think I am the only one who wants to go that route. So we stick with the more abstract Mongoose version. Everyone also got to do something this session, so that was a good thing. I think everyone had a pretty good time.

This coming week (which is already half over) I need to do prep work for Ahngrim. They will need to refuel, restock, and find drop tanks on a TL-2 world. And drop the guns off. I am thinking that, even though the government is listed as a participating democracy, some may want to be more equal than others via increased fire power. How that will play into the adventure will be an interesting challenge.

There are 2 more sessions left. Ahngrim has the 3 objectives: refuel, get drop tanks, restock. Then the Big Wreck and I need to figure out which ending I am going with. I've a few possibilities:

  1. Kafers! Just kidding - while the others have played 2300, I have not
  2.  Empty ship, full and aggressive AI
  3.  humans barely alive and needing rescue (and how are they still alive?)
  4.  chamax horde!
  5.   zombies!
And also, why is SolSec concerned? As I do have at least 1 player that reads this I'll leave that out. But I feel that somehow they will meet up with Zandra on Ahngrim and the reasons may come out.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Skeleton's on a midnight attack

After getting back, a bit battered and fewer in numbers, the group returns to Thistlewaite without Hans. As they approach the town, Granite suddenly takes off and leaves: distraught over his friend's death, he's off to find someplace to roost and brood. They bargain to get all the slvers due to them, including Han's share, which they split up amongst the remaining small group.

A couple of days and healing later, they are sharing a meal at the tavern, last night before hitting the road again. At some point, a young man enters in, the small crowd of farmers grows quiet a moment as they watch him pick his way through the tavern and sit in a corner chair, then conversation restarts, though more subdued. The Runt Gubbler leans across the bar and asks Willem the inn-keeper who the lad is.
"He comes through every few months. One of those with a monthly problem if ye get my meaning" replis the barkeep, wiping down the bar and keeping an eye on the brooding young man in the corner. After almost an hour, one of the boys finally goes to get the man's order. Agaric, the young man, asks about the strangers in town. At first a bit reticent, the boy warms up, talking about the dragraffe in the barn, with a hippograph, and the nice people taking care of those animals, and the boxy things that were stealing things about town, and how this group, which had more people in it before, went out and came back with this box of what looks like a living machine! He then gets the soup as requested.

Agaric, after finishing his soup, walks over to the now wide-eyes Runt Gubber. Crut is merely cleaning his knives, keeping an eye on the approaching man while not appearing to be paying any attention. Agaric cuts to the chase and asks about the ring. There is a bit of play back and forth, and running out of patience, the young man suddenly transforms into a werewolf! Half the crowd darts out the door, Runt tosses the ring on the bar before diving underneath the bar.

In the Fantasy Trip, turnung into a werewolf both doubles your strength and halves your IQ, in addtioanl to a -3 DX while in werewolf form. I let him roll 3D against his now 7 IQ (he has an IQ 14: this character is much more the scholar than the bravo) to see if he could think well enough to get the ring. He actually rolled under and managed to put that ring on. This means his IQ is no longer halved and, with an IQ 14, should be able to change in and out of werewolf form pretty much on demand.

There is a bit of feinting, and the remaining patrons and Willem approach to do combat with the werewolf, with Runt still under the bar and Crut, having backed up into a corner, watches things play out, noticing that the werewolf only defends and never attacks. Agaric manages to escape into the night, and thge Runt Gubber spends some time cleaning his cloth armor later that evening.

The next day, they do a bit of trading, then head out. Willem warns them of bandits on the road, and off they go, with Binky the Hippogryph pulling the large carts behind him, fully healed up and eager to continue the journey. They travel throughout the rest of the day, though by lunch Nova has noticed that hey have been followed since Thistlewaite by a single person as far as she can tell. While they cook some of their food, Agaric, woodsman that he is, has managed to catch a rabbit, gathered some herbs and mushrooms, and makes a gourmet meal in the woods with a near smokeless fire.

That evening, they set up camp a bit away from the road on a path that that barely fits the big carts. Runt takes the first shift, and despite his constant vigilance, does not see or hear anything. Poking Crut for his shift, the little Goblin is soon snoring in his blankets while Crut keeps an eye and ears to the surrounding forest. Nearby but hidden, the sound of marching footsteps wakens Agaric, who switches to werewolf form and starts to track the noises. Crut is entirely oblivious to the approaching skeleton horde. For the next 2 combat rounds, as they approach, he keeps missing his roll as they get into sight of the camp. Meanwhile Agaric has attacked one of the trailing skeletons. Even with the +4 from attacking from the rear, with his werewolf DX so low he manages to miss the skeleton. While the rest of the group of skeletons continues plodding to the camp, a second skeleton turns to attack Agaric while Crut finally sees them, and awakens the rest of the camp! While Wode and Belinda are armed with staffs, they hang back to keep Binky and Lollipop calm in the coming fight.

The battle ensues: Runt manages to make one skeleton shatter to pieces with a 3D lightening bolt, while Crut manages to do 7 points of damage to one. 8 points of damage will shatter a skeleton, so missing by 1 point was sad. Nova is attacking on the one hand and defending with her second blade while Agaric reconsiders his werewold form and decides to turn back to human to be able to wield his shield and knife, as well as get some DX to be able to actually hit anything! Eventually the skeletons are defeated, though Crut took 4 points of damage and Agaric took 3 points. No one else was injured in the battle, and Nova patched up Crut and gave him one of her healing elixers to finish the healing process.

They and Agaric agree to continue as a group, as Agaric wants to know where they got that missing werewolf artifact.

And that's where we closed up the session. I gave some extra experience points for the father when he riffed on me saying wherewithal to be werewithall when we were dealing with Agaric the first time (and why I even use words like that, well, hey, with a degree in philosophy I feel I should be able to use the words I learned, just as I used my skeleton minis for the 1st time after having them for almost 40 years. And I only broke out maybe 1/5 of them. Not sure why I have so many!) I also gave 50 extra points to Agaric as he was acting in character at the inn by being direct as well as running away without hurting anyone. Between that and the session experience points, he should be able to beef up his DX by a point when we get to rest a few days.

Big Wreck - Ahngrim

Ahngrim is indeed a grim system. The primary is a M2 V star, meaning a small orange dwarf that does not put out a lot of heat. Ahngrim is in the first orbit, so now I am picturing the opening sequence of the Superman movie:

It is a slightly large world, with just over a 1G gravity. The atmosphere is a dense, high atmosphere. Though the planet is not marge larger than Earth, I am not sure what a dense, high atmosphere is other than a guess: at sea level the atmosphere is too dense for humans, but at higher levels it is a bit more human-friendly. Again leading with the Krypton imagery to me.

The stats are D9D6642-2:
  •  D class port; a poor port that can offer minor repairs
  •  9 - about 9000 mile diameter (according to Heaven & Earth, 8700 miles with a molten core)
  •  D atmosphere: dense, high
  •  6 hydrographics, about 60% liquid ocean
  •  6 population, with a population modifier of 1, so about a million people
  •  4 government, or a participating democracy
  •  2 law level, so wild west vibe could work here as well (prohibition of 'portable' weapons, meaning military grade portable weapons
  •  2 tech level, printing press era. So any technological stuff is probably going to be near the port as the system cannot maintain anything of a higher technological level.
There is a fair amount of adventure potential here. For the game in progress, they are going to need to acquire jump tanks. And the question is: where and how. 

Again, in looking at the Heaven & Earth info, it is also a very cold planet. With that tech level, more Hoth than Krypton. With large, glacier mountains that the residents live on. The liquid oceans are liquid only via the geothermal system, so the glaciers have ever-shifting heat vents that rumble constantly. Humans live near these as that is where the fauna is that they live on. Survival equipment is in use constantly. 

More details to follow - now to switch gears and hit the Fantasy Trip for my Sunday game!

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Antiquity Starport - Merchumson Field

From my adventure outline:
Antiquity Port is comprised of the High Port, known colloquially as A-High, and the ground-based port of Merchumson Field. Originally an out-of-the way system, when the active Ancient site was found, scientists, Imperial forces, and fortune seekers started flooding the planet. The Naval posting became a Navy Base, and the local port was upgraded over a span of almost 40 years from the C port to the small yet efficient class A port it is now. The port has a high-security Naval area, a large commercial area and several smaller private landing areas. Warehousing is scattered throughout the port. Having a very thin and tainted atmosphere, most of the pads have extensible airlock gear to attach to ships. Some of the more expensive pads are built underground and can be fully enclosed. There is a rapid transit system that connects all landing areas with the central facilities.
Facilities include the SPA Administrative Center, the TAS Hotel and Information Centre, the public Naval offices, Merchant Guild, and the Antiquity Visa Department. There are also a multitude of stores, but the more interesting stores are outside the port. With no effective law level, an astonishingly large variety of weapons, drugs and equipment can be found. Several of these cater to Ancient hunters, those looking to score another Ancient find. Standard Imperial credsitcks are accepted throughout the planet.
The port is maintained by the Starport Authority and maintains a LL-4 inside its perimeter. There is an active Naval Police that coordinates with the SPA for security. The Navy also handles the interface security with a dozen system defense boats stationed either at A-High or the ground port. One of the three moons also has a small station with extensive sensors.
The startown is what was the core of Merchumson Field, and is a ramshackle affair of above ground atmosphere tubes connecting buildings, smaller warehousing units, and the largest variety of weapons you can imagine. This is an open carry area, and while some are discrete, there are always those flashy people who carry as much weaponry as they can. There is a large red-light district with hookah bars, prostitutes from more than one race and gender. It gives off the bad old-West stereotype images, with gunslingers, questionable ladies and gentlemen of the evening, and those who take advantage of those gullible enough to think there really are Ancient Site Detectors available for the low, low price of Cr4500.
Startown is generally swarming with Naval personnel on leave, getting high and watching Sue dance up on the stage. Buildings are either directly connected, or there are also several domes covering various portions of the small city for a more open feeling. Grav plates set a standard G throughout the city and the starport.
Having a short day of 18 hours or so, and a year of over 600 days, Antiquity’s work schedule is anything but a schedule. Most locations are open at about the same time each day, usually open 9 hours and closed 9 hours. Bars, hookah joints, clubs are open all the time and have a constant shift of workers.
Startown is also the home of dozens of small trading outfits. While some specialize in searching for more Ancient sites, there are also those that cater to those wanting to get further into the Great Rift. A few have even claimed, after sufficient drink, to have visited the Big Wreck or the Atu’l Fleet Transit point, deep in the Rift.
Public boards are available that lists ships for charter as well as the standard trading information that planetary brokers often use to ship outbound cargos. There is also a listing of the current ships on the Field as well as at A-High. Among them, only one of these people, there is one with a jump-4 ship available.
The ground port is a small class A port, with thousands of SPA workers that don't count against the local population. One of the issues with Traveller world generation is a high-tech, class A port on an almost empty world. There have been many discussions on that, and one of the ideas is that the starport personnel don't count against the system population. As I've at least 2 Starport Authority character career systems, it makes the most sense to me as the personnel are, in general, transient and get posted from all over. So while Antiquity has a system population of only about 20,000, the SPA has thousands of workers, and the Naval port has hundreds if not thousands as well, not including the Naval high port & attending ships. The entire system population is somewhere in the low hundreds of thousands.

The actual port is split between the Naval port and the commercial port. The various sections are lettered A through E. An underground transit system connects all the areas. The port itself is more then 15 kilometers across; each concourse is about 3 kilometers across and has various landing areas, pads and bays for everything from shuttles to 5000 ton displacement vessels.  Concourse A is for the high-end and larger ships. The King Richard's shuttles land there, and there are two starship builders with facilities here, though most of the construction for ships is at A-High.  B and D are largely used for large cargo transfers, C has more of a passenger system for the scientists and transients, and E is primarily used by Free Merchants and the like. The Freekin Amazing is in concourse E, bay 23. It is a half-sunken landing area with 2 small cargo bays and a maintenance shed attached. There is an airlock connecting to the mid-deck of the ship.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Big Wreck - Session 4

After getting to Antiquity, our Travellers meet up with Jax at the L7 bar. There are drunken aliens and the bar is fairly loud. Jax takes them to a back room, but the group notices what appears to be someone both watching and having a comm line open to somewhere. In a private backroom, Jax verifies that they have the device, having it checked out in a small computer system. A small red light goes on over the door, and Jax curses, saying that they need to get to the garage out back. They exit the room to be confronted by a trio of armed men, demanding they stop. Ignoring that, Kelya and Rand lead Jax out while Santiago, gauss pistol in hand, decides the best defense is a really strong offense. His first shot takes out the lead, but the second assailant opens fire and manages to miss. The back door has been opened but there is a another trio of armed goons waiting our escaping characters. Rand shoots one with the AP round, which is not armor piercing per say, but rather acid point. He hits the gun that becomes non-operational at that point. The goons return fire, mortally wounding Rand, while back in the corridor, Santiago finishes off another one while an open bar fight starts up, occupying the remaining armed thug with someone else shooting at him. Outside, our dating duo manage to get the dying Jax into the back room, where, with a bloodied hand, gasps out something about an air/raft, then expires despite Rand's attempts at first aid.

Getting outside, Santiago clears off the last one with Kelya looking out the door to provide covering fire. Behind him, a tall, almost willowy brunette mail asks if all is well as he fires off another shot towards the general brawl in the bar. The others, finding the backroom's stash of weapons, load up and find the key fob for the civilian air/raft. Sadly, none of the characters have any actual grav vehicle skill. But autonomous piloting is a thing. Though it can get remotely disabled and cannot perform any fancy maneuvers, it can get you from point A to point B easily enough. Rand had managed to get Jax's ID and phone, and, dialing the last number, gets Planet Pizza. Indicating that they are calling on behalf a dead Jax, they are forwarded to a woman who queries what they are doing. Quickly realizing that these Travellers are the group described in the recently delivered dossier from the King Richard, she directs them to meet her at the TAS hotel at the port.

The enclosed air/raft takes off, the sound of sirens approaching. The grav vehicle gets as far as the port entrance where they are stopped - without authorization it cannot pass the gate. Had the players grav skill, they may have flown over the line directly to the hotel, but they probably would have been either fired on or been followed by the port police, the armed branch of the SPA. Making another call via Jax's phone, they have access to meet at the TAS hotel. Your standard TAS hotel. they are met with the only vaguely obsequious manager. Kelya, being a member, shows his ID and the manager is most helpful. Going to the concierge area, they find that there is but one J4 capable ship available, the Freekin Awesone, piloted by one Jarred Verril. Getting to the room on the 4th floor, they then meet up with the local bureau chief. They are given the opportunity, first at a cut-rate price, then at the previous price, of continuing this path. They are given a Cr150,000 credit voucher to pay Jarred - if they can bargain for less, they can keep the difference.

And this was the point we finished up. Several things:
  1. the notebook was a big help - keeping the pages in order was a great boon to my general lack of organization
  2. I am still not happy with combat. We decided on the Mongoose version, even though I had the actual boxed set. It just seemed a bit more jumbled than I would like. While I don't want to make it a wargame, not sure where a good balance is, especially takinginto account how the players may want to do combat.
  3. we did get side-tracked by various non-game related discussions. It is not just children who have a hard time keeping to task. Though I have to wonder how much of that is me.
  4. The L7 map worked out pretty well. I am happy I am finally getting to actually USE some of the things I've picked up over the years. 
We have 3 more sessions. I figure 1 session to the next system, 1 session there getting stuff for the jump to the Big Wreck, then the final session will be at the Big Wreck, complete with whatever I decide to stock that with. If we miss a session, we can make the next system / getting gear shorter. As the next system is a low tech (2!) system, it may be interesting to see if they can get the supplies they need at the class D port. And it has an odd atmosphere: D: Dense, High. I think that means only peaks are habitable - need to look into the rules. As it goes beyond the original books it must be a T5 thing.

So the next update should start on the final pieces of the adventure: Ahngrim, fleshing out Jarred and his ship a bit, and figuring out the next few possible steps for the players.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

The Fantasy Trip - Side Adventure Concludes

Having had their companion Hans (may he rest in peace) get skewered by a large bronze mechanical creature, the group rests up and does what any good dungeon party does: split up Han's money, the ring, gun powder and the rifle that no one else can shoot. Having finished the first floor, the only place left to visit is down that shaft they passed by earlier.

With Granite the Gargoyle taking the lead, they creep down that passage, musty air blowing up at them. At the last corner, one of the digger mechanisms charges up and attacks Granite! He took a point of damage despite his thick skin, then they both missed the next round. With Granite blocking the corridor there was nothing anyone else could do. Fortunately, the middle-sized creatures are not particularly hard to beat and eventually there is a pile of gears on the floor. Getting to the bottom, they have their choice of directions and go left. Another chamber, but this time empty of the creatures, but not empty of a giant constrictor snake! Crut gets attacked and takes on a bit of damage, but fortunately this is a non-venomous snake. Granite flies over and they kill the snake, and Nova does a bit of first aid. 1 point of damage can be cured without breaking out the physickers kit. Although Crut's attitude and apparent lack of being thankful may have some long-term consequences, but rogues are rogues and don't often think of others (and now that I am thinking of it that way, it may have well been in character, so maybe some extra XP). They find a nice hand axe and a ring along with a few silvers. Going back, the Runt Gubbler walks underneath a huge spider web the others need to duck under, when a giant spider lands next to Nova and attacks! This one is a venomous spider but manages to miss, and Crut, attacking from the rear, manages to kill it is a single, well-placed blow. The Runt still whacked it with his staff, even though it was dead. The next area held a couple more digger mechanisms, and after a fairly brief fight, the group manages to kill them. There was a +1 DX sword here, and Granite adds that to his swords. He is the only one currently strong enough to wield that sword at the moment.

They actually hit the boss monster chamber last, not sure how that happened. There, a 7 hex machine is busy pulverizing the cave ceiling and walls, feeding itself with four massive work arms. And, guarding the mechanoid monster, another of the two handed creatures that killed Hans, flanked by two of the medium sized ones. Carefully keeping out of the way of Runt's line of fire, our group attacks the trio of mechanical menaces! The Run lets loose with a 10 strength lightening bolt, using mana from his staff. A blinding explosion and there is not even a pile of the cogs and gears but a molten mass of metal. Fear can drive a Goblin to some interesting feats! The two diggers are taken care of fairly easily, leaving the huge thing in the middle.
With four huge arms grabbing at the rocks and dirt and feeding itself, the group knows they need to destroy, just not how. They attack from two sides. The Runt throws a 2 strength lightening bolt, but misses. And fortunately missed Nova, who felt her hair get all frizzed out from the near miss of a magical lightening bolt. It takes a few rounds but eventually they do manage to break the thing down, although at this point more are coming down the entranceway! While fighting those two new machines, a hidden door opens up out of the side of the big machine, and a small one starts to scuttle for a hole in the wall. Surprising me, Nova actually runs over and engages the machine, and do the other adventurers. A fight of course occurs, but the small machine is trying to escape, not fight. They kill it, and see that it is carrying a small box. Opening it up reveals little gears and cogs whirling about. Trying to leave, several more machines block their way, but rather than fighting they seem to be trying to get to that box. Eventually they are all defeated and the group gets back to the village.

Now, several things during this session. Both Granite and Crut took a bit of damage, and Nova managed to heal a good chunk of that, along with the found healing potions. The players realized that they too could get killed, just like Hans. And for Crut, it was a close thing twice. I believe he forgot his blur ring again, although I am not sure it would have worked on these things.

This was a pre-written adventure that had the megahexes and counters for play, so that was really a good thing and now I am glad I also went all in on that one, although I could just print them from the PDF, they are nice counters. They also managed to get the Artificiers seed rather than it getting away. Several things here as the players have no idea what they have. First, if there are any remaining diggers from that first one, they may be pursued and that box taken from them. If they can get it to a city, someone in the artificier's guild would recognize it as a self-assembling device and pay a lot of god for it.

Some of the players were getting a bit antsy: not sure if this was a food thing or if they are getting bored with the game. The father is still having a good time and I think they are as well, but we need to figure a way to keep them all involved. I don't want to dumb down the game or just give out rewards, so we'll have to figure something out. But I think they are having a good time.

I did give out 200 XP for this and last session: this was a lot tougher than they were used to. It is not enough to bump anyone up as they are in the 35 point range now I think, but another couple of side trips and they should be able to bump a stat up or gain a new skill.

Final note: the one whose character died last session was sick, so did not make it to the game today. If he can get to the backstory we'll see about working that in. He will be in pursuit of that ring. And for a prop, I am using that ring from the Soloman's coin collection. Not sure of the props are helping or just causing a distraction.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Fantasy Trip Cards of Destiny

I backed this the whole way, of course. And it showed up today along with the Pocket Box games, a print copy of a general OSR style dungeon that I actually have a small credit for in the back, and the box of fishing supplies which are now wrapped as a Valentine's present for my wife. Who is out fishing at this very moment (well, the moment I am writing this at any rate).

So I first went through the pocket box games - Classic Ogre, GEV and Shockwave, the expansion for Ogre and GEV. Small board tactical games of "combat in the 21st century". We're in the 21st century and I really hope there are no Ogre MK anything out there! Anyway, these are reprints of the original versions in sturdier pocket boxes that have a strong similarity to VHS tape boxes. These are 1 on 1 games, and I may bring them to the office for those game nights when there are just two of us (game nights post-work are pretty sporadic, and we've yet to bring anyone in outside of the developers group. Despite my continued asking). The games are basically reprints of the original but with modern materials. Interestingly (and I forgot this part) they include both the uncut counter sheets and cut counter sheets (think the cut ones were one of the stretch goals). For those who never got those $2.95 games in a zip-lock back (then they moved to thin plastic clamshell cases, and invariably the hinge plastic broke after repeated use), these were small games with a heavy-paper map, sheet of counters you had to cut yourself, and a small rule book. When they moved to the plastic cases I think they included a little tiny d6 as well. These games can be quick games, and I had both Ogre and GEV. And sucked at both: I have little to no tactical nor strategic sense when it comes to games. But nostalgia plays big, so I went with those two games, and avoided the all-in of $200 worth of games I will never play.  Those games, like TFT, moved back to Steve Jackson after all these years. Melee and Wizard were originally pocket games as well, and I still have the Melee box and map. The counters are somehow long gone from that worn out box after hauling it around for almost 40 years. But I do have the original Advanced Melee and Advanced Wizard rules.

Now, the Cards of Destiny. Another big box, but somehow I was a little disappointed. I think because, while I am actively GMing a game, and may get to play as well, a lot of what is in there is actually better suited as PDFs (which I also have). The random dungeon creator is a lot of hex-shaped cards that you can create a random dungeon, and the interior of the top box has the random tables for filling said dungeon. While the occasional entirely random dungeon crawl is fun, I always wonder what all those creatures and treasures are doing there. Animals have to eat and drink!

The good stuff includes a lot more character cards, including Octopi! Octopusses! More than one Octopus. And Orcs, and wizards. So being able to draw random opponents, with dry-erasable stats, is nice. The new set of megahex tiles have some really nice images, such as pits, ladders going down pits, giant spider webs, and bridges. I was lacking bridges the last few times, so I think those are going to come in handy. What I need to do is somehow organize them rather than just a big pile in each box. My favorite part is the creature cards - my initial review looks like they will be great to use, and it is really good that they also have indicators as to what sort of places they live: plains, woods, caves, etc. A lot like the old wildlife cards my son collected when he was little, each month getting a new set of cards. Hmmm - I can see a Fantasy Trip monthly subscription that gets you a dozen new creature cards each month. Although I've already something very similar via Patreon I suppose, although it is all electronic.

I also have 3 more folders - not sure why I keep collecting folders but they are both nice and useful - each different folder has a different subset of the rules on the back, so they also make convenient game aids.

With two player card sets, I'll probably give 1 set to my players. It is a set of cards that help with combat. A set for engaged, not engaged, and hand to hand. Such as in the disengaged set, You may move up to your entire MA but have no further actions. So it encapsulates your options. And it comes with dry erase character cards as well as a dry erase pen, and a tuck box.

And those big metal dice - huge and heavy. I thought I got 2 of each but somehow ended up with 3 dragons and 1 wizard die. Dragons are cool but I may look back at my pledge to see if something got missed or I just misremember.

Now to what I think is disappointing me a bit. All that plastic. Every thing comes in its own plastic bag. I can understand this from an inventory management perspective, but it is a LOT of plastic. And while the various tuck boxes are nice, for some sets of the cards I may see about using notebooks with card holders as I think they will be easier to transport to the game sessions. And the play mats, while physically nice, will have limited use I think. The one with the river and bridge has the most possibilities, but that Octopi one does not have a lot of maneuvering space and with its odd layout, seems to lend itself to many scenarios. Or I may just be lacking in imagination.

And it may also be a fair amount of buyers remorse, especially with some major re-plumbing happening soon (I am replacing the filtration systems in my house as the original ones I had put in almost 20 years ago are failing, especially the one for the acidic water. I do not want microleaks in my copper plumbing due to getting eaten away by the water! And huh, I can see that as an issue for an older starship in Traveller, the plumbing breaks down. Hmmm).

I am happy with getting all this, and most if not all will get used, so that is a good thing. But I think I am also getting worried that sometimes I am just getting stuff to get stuff. The entire FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I need to counter that with JOMO (the Joy Of Missing Out). I have managed to bypass a few KS that I realized I'd never use, so perhaps I am making some progress.

Oh, and I did receive four more fantasy coin sets: Drow Elf, Wizard, Alchemist, and Alien. Sadly they did not come with those little velvet bags, so I got a bunch of tiny burlap bags. And may use those for other things as well - it was like 50 for $12, so I've plenty for various game aids. I feel the Alchemist and Wizard coins will be common in my Puddlejumper area, as that is one area that wizards and magic users go to practice foul magics.