Monday, June 27, 2016

Freelance Traveller # 76

Check out the latest issue of Freelance Traveller for July/August 2016:

As always, it is chock-full of Traveller goodness. This issue also includes the second part of my ruminations on Animal Encounters, More than Four Legs and Nasty Pointy Teeth which originally appeared here on this blog.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Other Thoughts on Zero-G combat Skill

Jeffro, over at Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog has highlighted the Zero-G Combat skill, introduced in Book 4, as an example of the difference between Old School and New School gaming. I understand his point, but I'm not jumping into the Old/New controversy here. I have a different point. 

Book 4 takes the Vacc Suit skill and breaks it into three skills: Vacc Suit, Battle Dress and Zero-G Combat. This is not necessary, and leads, as Omer Joel puts it, to skill creep

When fighting in a zero g environment any individual ha a chance of losing control of his movement/position each combat round. Roll 10+ on two dice to avoid losing control Apply the following DMS: Firing a weapon: -4. Firing a low-recoil (zero-G) weapon -2. Using a hand hold +5. Striking with a blade weapon . . . or similar: -6. Wearing Battle Dress: +2 per level of BD Skill. . . . Fore each level of Zero-G combat expertise: +4. Dexterity of 9+, +2 Dexterity of 11+, +4. Using a handhold reduced dexterity for the purposes of weapon accuracy by four.
Individuals who lose control may not fire until they have reoriented themselves and regained control Roll 10+ each subsequent combat round to regain control with all DM;'s above in use except that handholds may not be use nor may weapons be fired.”
Note that Book 4 makes Battle Dress skill separate from Vacc Suit, but the distinction only matters if a PC is carrying a PGMP-13 or FGMP-14.

Compare that with the Book 1/Starter Rules:

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Curious Case of the Other Service

What can you do with the Other service?
This man might be a criminal, or maybe a millionaire. Or Both.

While working on some yard work recently, my older son and I were discussing a group of characters he had been building. His group consisted of one PC from each of the six basic services. We use the services from Supplement 4 (Actually from The Spinward Marches Campaign book) and the advanced services in Bks 4 & 5. I've built scores if not hundreds of PCs over the years. After the conversation it struck me that out of all those, I've created only a dozen or so characters from the Other service. I've never used one in a Traveller game, no matter how brief. That struck me as odd. I decided to have another look at this least popular service. Is it really that bad of a choice?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Product Review - The Bronze Case

My buddy Omer at the Den of the Lizard King sent me a copy of this adventure. Thanks Omer!  Go get a copy, visit his blog, and tell him what you think. I'm making my review in the format that I've used for reviewing the JTAS Amber Zone adventures.
Location: Amaterasu, a mid-pop, high law, TL-8 world

Patron: Amy - a freelance agent.

Mission: Help Amy deliver the bronze case to its destination.

Complications: There are a lot of folks who want to steal the case. The local law level means that the Travellers won't have access to their usual assortment of heavy weaponry.

Payoff: Cr 10,000 to the group for successful delivery.

Strong Points: This is a good old-fashioned “accidental spy” adventure, where the Travellers get swept up in bigger events swirling around them. Once it gets going, they won't have time to stop and catch their breath. There's plenty of danger, and options for player ingenuity. The NPCs are nicely fleshed out with MgT style stat blocks. A successful mission means the Travellers now have a new contact in Amy, and maybe a romantic possibility? They may have new enemies, or patrons, depending on how they respond to the other players in the drama. By scaling the opposition, this adventure could be for a solo PC.

Weak Points: Not a lot of opportunity for PCs to bring their social skills into play, the opponent forces are (as written) not likely to listen. The titular case is a macguffin, which does reduce the PCs motivation to simple monetary gain. Players might decide partway through that bailing on Amy is safer, if less rewarding. One niggle: the local TL is 7 (1970's Earth) but vehicles are all equipped with GPS devices? Maybe MgT breaks up the TL periods differently from CT.

What I'd change: I have no suggestions for this adventure. It's a fast-paced gig that could be played out in one session or two. 

In My Traveller Universe: If I ran this adventure, I'd put it on Kemasiik, in the Corridor [B-68466B-5]. The Law level is high, and the captive government could put the lockdown on commodities the gangs are after. The Empire has some influence there so Talaveran corporations could have facilities on-planet. Local TL is low, but with off-world influence (Kemasiik is controlled by VanGoff's World) there could be lots of TL-7/8 gear to be had.

Map: The adventure route runs roughly along the coastline, but I decided to change it up a bit and give the players two routes. Both have a half-way point where one of the plot points occurs. Each hex is approx. 100 km.

I made this map, using Hexographer. It may be reproduced or modified without permission.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Snowball - the Conclusion

Coherent light pulses stabbed outward at a chunk of ice the size of a shuttlecraft.  It shuddered, and large pieces of it broke loose and drifted out of the way.  Tarrant banked as hard as he dared to get around it, struggling to keep the two craft from drifting together. It was so quiet on the bridge he could hear his breath coming in short puffs, as if inhaling too hard would alter the ship's course.

Out of nowhere, the communicator bleeped and a new voice broke the silence.
“Assisting ship, this is the Navy rescue vessel Damascus.  We are closing on your position, please identify yourself.”

Tarrant waved his arm to quiet the spontaneous cheers so he could hear to answer. “Damascus, this is Confederation ship Nth Degree, tail number 27B-94E.  We can’t see you, the ice has fogged our sensors.  Where are you?”

Nth Degree, this is Damascus. We are above you to port aft.  Break off to bearing 212 by 037 and get out of there.  We are deploying grapplers to recover Lady Caroline.  She’s in good hands, get clear before you get yourselves killed.”

“Thank you, Damascus! We are on our way out.” Tarrant responded with a sigh of relief.  Cheers went up from the crew and passengers.  Smiling at the celebrating crowd, Tarrant stabbed the grappler release button with his thumb.  The grin faded as the ENGAGED light went out and the MALFUNCTION light came on.  He thumbed the button again, frowning now, and the MALFUNCTION light blinked at him.  The knot in his stomach squeezed even tighter.  He groped for the comm panel.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Snowball part Four

Kate stood clutching her triage kit as the airlock tube extended towards Lady Caroline.  “Caroline, this is Dr. Chiltern.  Open your outer airlock door. We’re ready to connect the tube.  Have you got your wounded standing by to transport?”

“Dr. Chiltern, this is Dr. Benz.  We’re trying, but it’s been hard to move people; the artificial gravity is intermittent at best. It’s a miracle no one’s dead. We’re getting the worst cases to the airlock now.  Almost everyone’s got some injuries, but the worst five are coming first.” 

The outer door to the airlock slid back with a dull thunk.  Dack and Wally hurried to secure the tube and sealed it. “You know,” Dack said as they waited for the pressure to build, “The hole in the hull looked pretty odd. I didn’t see anything that looked like a typical asteroid strike. All the hull plating shattered out, not in. I took some video, if you want to see it later.”

Wally only grunted. Without bothering with the comm, he pounded on the inner door with his gloved fist.  Dr. Benz, a studious-looking man wearing a space suit opened the door. The doctor did not speak, but handed him a teenage boy with a magnetic cast bracing his torso. Dack picked up an unconscious older woman who had a circulatory constrictor clamped to her abdomen.  It struck him that the woman must have been old money – even lying on the deck she radiated culture and poise. ‘I bet she’s an aristocrat,’ he thought. Kate and Dr. Benz lifted a man on an immobilization tray and hurried across to the Nth Degree.  Two more passengers followed, assisting another who had both legs splinted.

As they arrived in the infirmary, Kate saw that Dr. Benz looked exhausted. Anya took his end of the litter and they hoisted the patient onto a table.  Kate gestured toward her supply locker “You stay here and get started with these people. Anya’s here to help now.  I’ll take charge of getting the rest of them across."  Dr. Benz managed a sort of a smile, and then turned to the man on the table. Anya rummaged through the locker for equipment he wanted. Kate rushed out of the infirmary, heading back to the airlock. She passed Dack and Wally, who were carrying more passengers.

Halfway across the tube she stopped and turned back. ‘Always shut the outer door,’ she chanted, recalling the safety rules Anya had drilled into her head.  That accomplished, she trotted along the tube but stopped at the same point. Something had thudded against the outside of the tube.  A second later there was another thud, and another.  A louder thud, then the sound of a metal strut bending.  Realizing what was happening sent a jolt of fear through Kate’s heart.  As she scrambled for Lady Caroline’s airlock the tube wall started shook and rattled, making the tube echo like a popcorn popper.