Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Bringing More Psionics into Cepheus Engine or Classic Traveller

Variant Psionics for the Cepheus Engine – A review

Recently Stellagama Publishing released their Variant Psionics rules supplement, available from DriveThruRPG.com. Full disclosure, I am listed in the credits as a Consultant. I suggested a few ideas for the book, but I earn no royalties. As it says on the tin, this is written for the CE rules set, but with only minor tweaking, these rules will work for Classic Traveller as well. Which is good news for me, still being a CT kind of guy.

What does the VP book offer? Let's have a look, shall we?

The first section explains how to fit psionics into any CE setting. How often do psionics appear? More importantly, referees now have three possible societal responses to the existence of psionics: friendly, neutral and hostile. In CT, the assumption even before the Third Imperium or the Zhodani Consulate, was that psionics would face a negative reaction.

Next we have details on how Psionics are a part of Stellagama's These Stars are Ours! campaign setting. Most psionics end up working for the government, but not necessarily as spies or secret police. Still, Terrans' attitude towards psionics leans toward the negative. Life for a government psion will not be easy.

The middle of the book contains the detailed rules for the available psionic abilities. All the talents from CE (and CT) are here: Awareness, Telepathy, Clairvoyance, Teleportation, Telekinesis. Each talents has several powers associated with it. The Variant part is the new powers that have been introduced for most talents. Clairvoyance still has only the powers listed in the CE rules. Some of the standout new powers are:

Thursday, January 4, 2018

More on Skills - Hunting

Hunting skill

Hunting skill is introduced in Book 6, Scouts, and also appears in the expanded career tables in Citizens of the Imperium in the Hunter career (shocking, I know). The skill is described thus:
Hunting: The individual is skilled in tracking and hunting animals. In animal encounter situations, this skill is used to enhance the chance of any specific type, of achieving surprise on such animals, and of surviving such encounters. DMs based on specific situations should be generated, and hunting skill should be a favorable DM.
The right gear and a faithful friend are worth a +1 DM

Reconnaissance can be used as Hunting minus 1.
Hunting can be used as Survival minus 1, but only for the purpose of finding food. 

Hunting is a major component of Adventure #10, Safari Ship. In that book, the hunting process is given an elaborate treatment, more than I could go into here without leaning on the copyright laws. Plus you may not have access to that adventure. Here, I present my personal ideas on the subject.

My reading of the Hunting skill leads me to conclude that the skill affects four things:

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Abstract Combat in Book 4 Mercenary

I bought the Mercenary book back in the mid eighties, and have built lots and lots of PCs with the expanded book 4 rules. I've even a few times tried building a mercenary unit by following the system laid out in the book. But until now the Abstract Battle system didn't make much sense to me. I figured out what I was doing wrong: I tried doing it totally in the abstract. 

The Abstract battle rules work the best when they are integrated into a story, so that both sides have specific objectives, which are determined by their particular missions. Let me explain.

This evening, my boys and a friend were finishing up the adventure of rescuing a princess, who was kidnapped by a General in her world's army. He was trying to usurp the throne and marrying the princess was part of the plot. 

As I have mentioned before, this was my re-imagining of the Amber Zone adventure Coup D'Etat, which I reviewed a few years ago. The setting is Pampati, in Holtzmann's Corridor, and the princess is Princess Aurelia. 

Well, the guys rescued her from the General's army base where she was held hostage, then retreated to the Summer Palace where the King was trying to keep his government together by radio and telephone. 
It may be cold outside, but the princess is Hot!
I provided the PCs with a small force of household guards, and a few hours to prepare defenses before General Kang's troops rolled in. The guards needed officers to direct them, so the King commissioned the PCs to lead the troops. They blocked the entrance road with trucks, hid in the woods and dug in on the front lawn. 

Kang's forces were attempting to capture the palace (and therefore the Princess & the King) and the PCs were there to prevent that from happening.

Here's where the abstract system came in. I drew a map of the area on hex paper. Each of the defending squads had a die-cut counter, and the attackers had a number of counters as well. As rebel and defending counters were moved adjacent to each other, I resolved each of the encounters as a battle round under the abstract system.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Free Character Sheet for These Stars are Ours!

Available now from Stellagama Publishing at DriveThruRPG:



Character sheet for the These Stars Are Ours! (TSAO) setting; compatible with the Cepheus Engine and other OGL 2D6 Sci-Fi games.

Available in three formats: Standard PDF, Fillable Form PDF, High-Resolution PNG.

All for the low low cost of no money whatsoever. Get it here!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

New Traveller Game Session Report December 2017

After the McGee Tragedy, the gang needed to find work. I used my Random Missions table and came up with "repair vehicle". Hmm. It will have to be a big vehicle to need seven repairmen. So that would be . . . an airship!
"Can we mount guns on this?" - an actual player question.

Location: Stavanger

The patron is Stephanos "Steffi" Trendheim, son of one of the ruling Barons of Stavanger. He's competing in a 100-hour endurance race across the wilderness of Stavanger, to Oasis and back. The race must use only TL-6 equipment, so no contra-gravity or rocket propulsion.

The gang's first task was to assemble the airship, a semi-rigid airframe with Helium envelopes for lift. They set to work with limited time, but got the ship air-worthy, passed the time trials and entered the race. 

During the build phase, everyone received a Rumor on a 3x5 card. Some pointed to possible future endeavors, but may were signs of trouble ahead: bribery offers and a death threat to lose the race; a bribe to take out a competing racer, and even to take out the patron!

In the air, they got off to a good position in the field of eight racers, each representing one of the Baronies: Arendal, Hokksen, Levanger, Namsos, Plancourt, Sandvika, Trendheim, and Ulstenvok.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Scientist Career Revisited

Citizens of the Imperium introduced the Scientist prior career. My first thoughts (years ago now) when I looked at it were "Who wants to play a lab-coat wearing test tube jockey [not a direct quote]" and "why are there no Science skills for a career called Scientist?"


Time for a re-evaluation. Is it really that bad of a choice of career?
It's gonna be for him, as soon as he gets a case of that super-virus.


Not all scientists are laboratory Researchers - lots of of Scientists are practically applying what's already been discovered/learned. A quick look over the skills list for scientists tells you these are not lab-coat wearing office dwellers. Traveller scientists are probably practitioners, or possibly field researchers.

All of the UPP characteristics except social standing can be improved. The service has a blend of technical skills, interpersonal skills, social skills, and a few slots for vehicle and weapons skills. This service does have it all. There's even Navigation skill, which will come in handy as one of the benefits is a laboratory ship. A scientist with Navigation can claim to be familiar with shipboard life, and be able to manage the ship. In the advanced education table there's an entry for Leadership skill, which will also be useful for directing a crew of NPCs.
Navigation suggests a focus on Astronomy. Electronics or Mechanical skill can mean degrees in those Engineering specialties. Gravitics and Computer are also engineering specialties. You could argue that the Scientist career is really the Engineers career.

But it is only for the exceptional and clever! The enlistment throw is comparable with sailors flyers and rogues, but the DMs are hard to get: INT 9+ and EDU 10+ and this is the only service that depends entirely on brain power. Survival is harder (5+) than bureaucrats, nobles, doctors and diplomats; and as hard as for sailors and flyers. Clearly these scientists do more than hang about in laboratories.

For comparison, I searched around for examples of scientist or scientifically-minded heroes in literature and television. Here's a sampling of what I found: