Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My Favorite Posts at AF3

It's a new year, and I thought that I'd take a little time to look back at the last three years of AF3. Take stock of what I've presented here, and how it holds up.
These are the posts that I'm most pleased with, in terms of my writing style, or humor, or the point I was trying to make. These are personal choices, rather than ones that were most popular with my readers (but thank you for all the +1's, comments, and shares!) They are in no particular order.

1 Of Robots and Clones
A very philosophical post. Much more concerned with whether there should be robots & clones than with the game mechanics of same. The concepts are regular features of sci-fi, but how often is the ethics of artificial beings considered?  Doctor Who touched on it with the Ood in series 2 & 4, and I touch on it here. 

2 How to Create Striker maps
My most practical instructional post. Striker is a complicated game system to learn and play, which explains why there's so little on the web about it. My hope is that this quick run-down will encourage more folks to try it.

3 Exterminate!
Daleks in Traveller. It might be a great idea, it might be a terrible mistake.

4 The Creatures of Little Fuzzy
Building and describing the fauna of Zarathustra was just fun. Remember, not all animal encounters are dinner, or target practice.

5 Fenton Tukachevski
Fenton was one of my first NPC characters - I'd never intended to play him. He was all about demonstrating the versatility of the CT stat block and of characters that don't have a laundry list of skills. Fenton is a playable character or a worthwhile NPC for the players to encounter. Knowledge is power, and he's got it in spades. 
6 Armed Groups 
I like this one because it was the product of actual research. Gaming has long motivated me to learn more about the real world, so I could apply it in my imaginary one.  

7 But I Don't Like That Rule!  
Rules are necessary to have a game, but sometimes they can get in the way. Writing this blog has led me to re-read and examine the rules of Traveller, and try to understand why things were set up that way. Traveller is trying to do one thing, which is model the free-wheeling far future sci-fi of the 40's-60's. That requires certain limitations on the characters and what they can do.

Did you enjoy these posts?  Have you read them?  Please leave a comment with your favorite post from AF3.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Planet of Dread! and Traveller World-Building

Last night I read a fun short story from the pulp era: "Planet of Dread" by R.F. Starzl, in Astounding Stories of Super-Science (August 1930), which I got from Project Gutenberg.
Our heroes are attacked by a space-frog while climbing a spider web inside a mountain. Yes, it makes no sense.

I picked it at random from the several issues available. Is the plot original?  No. Are the characters vivid, dynamic and engaging?  No. Does the dialogue crackle and sparkle?  No. It's also a good thing the Martian sidekick was an alien and not a Terrestrial, because his dialogue would be excoriated today for its stereotyped pidgin English. Was the conclusion dramatic and satisfying?  Not really. 

So why was it a fun story?  Because it was a great setting, and just the sort of planet that could and should appear in Traveller.