Saturday, September 26, 2015

Path of the Lioness - Campaign Journal #4

Recently I listened to several episodes of Felbrigg Herriot's excellent CT podcast Behind the Claw, which is awesome and well worth your time. There's a link also in my blogroll. In Episode 5, he highlighted a paragraph from the Traveller Book I had never noticed before. In the section of the Space Combat chapter on Starship Encounters, the rules suggest combining the Starship encounter table (Herriot calls it a 'wandering monster' table) with the Reaction table from the Encounters chapter. You get a sense right away of how the other ship may act towards the PC's ship. This is a great shortcut for the Referee, and one I wish I'd noticed years ago.

For Example:

The FSS Lioness (my boy's ship, a Type L Lab) was leaving Monjeera en route to Glaumvor, so I rolled on the Ship Encounter table. Result: a Type A Free Trader. Reaction roll: 10, Responsive. I decided that the Trader captain had in his cargo hold a load of cooking spice (quick roll on the Trade table) that was the current craze on Glaumvor; but the Trader had a freight contract which was taking them away from Glaumvor. So the captain offered to sell it to the Lioness, to avoid a financial loss. They conducted the trade, with the captain's assurance that it would sell high on Glaumvor. 

Arriving in the Glaumvor system, I rolled again and got a Subsidized Merchant, but the reaction roll was 5, hostile and may attack. The Subbie captain had a big shipment of the cooking spice, and reacted badly when he learned that the Lioness was competition. He raced away for the planet, to beat the Lioness to market. Captain Greene lit up his drives as well, then had an inspiration. He instructed his crew to load the spice aboard the Pinnace, which has better drives than either ship, then to take off for the planet to beat the Subbie to the punch.

Now, the Subbie's reaction roll was 5, hostile & may attack. Will the other captain risk opening fire?  There's a Naval base in Glaumvor, so he might not get away with it. Or maybe he'll plot revenge once they're on the ground. 

And the adventure continues . . .

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ventures Afar - Amber Zone Reviews # 37

Amber Zone: Ventures Afar, by John Marshal

Check out the series introduction here.

Location: The adventure begins on Denotam (Vilis, Spinward Marches 1413) but covers much of the Vilis subsector.

Patron: Shalmar Sulankin, a corporate officer of Denotam Traders, LLC; a subsector-wide shipping line.

Mission: A recent string of ship losses to piracy is threatening Denotam Traders with the loss of important mail contracts. The company can replace the ships but not the revenue from the mail runs, they are critical to the company’s budget; without them DT goes under. The company wants to avoid this, and hires the PCs to discover why the sudden increase in ship losses has happened. If the PCs can directly stop it, they are directed to do so; otherwise they report back to the company and let them handle it. The company wants to keep the ship losses secret to avoid upsetting the local stock market and causing them more headaches.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Traveller Index

With Marc Miller's kind permission, I have produced an index of The Traveller Book.

This is quite the big thing for me. I happened upon the opportunity to index a book last year (I posted about it here) and discovered that I enjoy the process. Then I thought, why not combine this with my gaming hobby?  When I contacted Marc, I didn't know if I would get a reply in a week or a month; it turned out to be a day. He was very gracious and readily gave me permission and approval to do the project. 

The actual work took longer, as freelance work always will when one has a regular job and a family. On the upside, I'm so familiar with the book itself and the milieu of Traveller that it was not hard to determine what items needed to be indexed. Of course, there may be something I've overlooked; if you spot such a thing, leave me a comment below and I'll add the entry if I agree.

Traveller is and probably will be my main game, but I've been in the hobby for 20+ years and have seen games from TSR, GDW, FASA, ICE, Chaosium, Decipher, and other  publishers than I can't recall right now. It is my hope that this project might lead into future work indexing current game material.

As a sample of my work, and as a contribution to the game & community I've been a part of for so long, I am making the Traveller Index available at DriveThruRPG, in cooperation with Marc Miller. Look for it there.
Please share the Index with all the Traveller players you know; if you happen to know people who are publishing Traveller or other RPG material, I'd appreciate it if you'd show them my work too.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Masters of the World - the Barons of Stavanger

Stavanger is, by itself, the 7th largest economy in my TU, with a GWP of 17.1 trillion credits. Yes, the Big Four are an order of magnitude larger, but Stavanger has more economic clout than the Solaris Alliance, Thrainian Confederation, Correllian League or Republic of Tamarkand.

And thirteen Lords run the planet. I have characterized their noble Houses using the system I described here.  Apart from the three most powerful houses, they are listed in alphabetical order.
The planetary Coat of Arms of Stavanger

Each house has a number of Shares which represent their weight of influence on the Baron's Council. Each house has at least one Share, a few houses have accumulated more property and businesses and can claim more Shares.

Expanding the Reaction Table

Classic Traveller's reaction table is very simple, and not much detail is given in the rules on how it is to be applied. I have written before on this blog about ways to up the role-playing when interacting with NPCs.  A while back I was thinking about how different results on the table might be interpreted by the referee, depending on what the PCs are trying to do.
Should I go with Bribery or Carousing in this situation? My goal is to not be eaten.

What kinds of things will the PCs try to do?  I decided that the categories would be:
  • General (the random encounter)
  • Hiring hirelings/retainers
  • Querying NPCs for information
  • Asking NPCs for assistance
  • Negotiating a business arrangement
and then worked out what each die roll or result on the table would mean in that circumstance.

General Hireling Information Assistance Business
2D Encounter Job Offer Informal requests Need action or gear non-patron activities
2 Violent, immediate attack Declines. DM -3 to other hirelings reactions Deliberatly gives false information Refuses to provide action or gear Refuses, requests legal action against PCs
3 Hostile. Attack on 5+ Declines. DM -2 to other hirelings reactions Gives mistakenly false information Refuses action or charges 200% cost for gear Refuses, threatens legal action against PCs
And so on down the list, each reaction being in some way more positive than the one before. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Thing in the Depths - Amber Zone Reviews #36

Amber Zone: The Thing in the Depths, by Marcus Rowland from JTAS # 22
Check out the series introduction here.

Location: the planet Sturray (Foreven/Mowbrey 2017 C-7A9215-A)

Patron: Jackson Hollis, the colony manager.

Mission: Hollis needs trained operators for a search & recovery mission. The PCs will be given a hydrofoil kitted out with extensive detectors. A dredging craft has gone missing, and is probably on the bottom of the ocean. Even if it is too late to rescue the crew, the colony wants it found and the cause of the disaster determined.
Capable of over 50 knots.