Monday, December 21, 2015

Behind the Claw and AF3

You should listen to Behind the Claw, Felbrigg Herriott's excellent Classic Traveller podcast. I've been following BtC for months now; even putting podcasts onto my media player so I can listen on the go. In fact, you should go listen to an episode or two right now. I'll be here when you get back.

Episode 21, the current episode at the time I wrote this has an added pleasant surprise for me - he reads my blog, from the UK mirror site (, and he's generous with the compliments:

"it's everything you could want in a Traveller blog"

"you'll not regret visiting that site"
"there's enough clever, well-written and insightful content to make sure you never have to listen to this show again"

Well, that's awfully kind of him to say, but I say you should keep listening to Behind the Claw anyway. And in the time it took me to write and post this, he's rolled out episode 22!  I'm going to go listen to it now.

Fun bonus: he uses the word "interwebbytubes". I've got to start using that. 

Check out Decopedia volumes 1 and 2 from DriveThruRPG - written compilations of the material from the podcast.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Medical Skills for Medical Adventures

He's A doctor, yes, but . . .
He's THE Doctor!
 In Space Gamer #47, J Andrew Keith wrote "I'm a Doctor not a . . .", a rules variant about expanding the Medical skill in Traveller to cover the range of medical activity in greater detail.

I've written in other posts about my dislike for "skill bloat", but in this case I see not bloating of skills, but subdividing medical specialties to give characters distinct roles.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Gear for TAS Wardens

This is the first of what I plan to be several articles expanding on my adventure framework of The Wardens, constabulary agents of the Travellers' Aid Society. Today we'll look at gear.

Wardens will always carry their badge/ID cards, and some sort of over-garment that clearly identifies them as TAS agents. Communicators and first aid kits, and whatever life support gear is necessary for the world are also standard equipment.
The TAS Wardens will carry non-lethal weapons while on routine patrols. They have them to protect themselves and discourage casual troublemakers, like drunks and petty criminals. The Wardens are there to assist local authorities and keep the peace. However, if the situation warrants it the Wardens will bring out regular firearms. For low-threat scenarios, here are some devices Wardens will typically carry.

Sleep Rods (TL9)
taken from Andre Norton's Solar Queen books

I've found no specific description of the sleep rod in any of Norton's stories that I've read. From the few mentions, I take the sleep rod to be roughly of pistol configuration. It is button activated, but with dermal grip sensors so it only fires when being held by an authorized user. Besides the grip it is a cylinder with an emitter at the far end. It is simple to use, just aim and 'beam'. It's size and DEX parameters match those of the Body Pistol, as does the skill to use it most effectively. Damage is 1 pt, plus the target must throw 3D for END or less to avoid unconsciousness for (20-END) minutes.

Range DMs
Close Short Medium Long
+1     +2      -2         -4

Armor DMs
None Jack Mesh Cloth Reflec Ablat Battle
0       0     0       0       -4        -2      No

Glove Shields (TL8)

The glove shield is standard kit for Wardens, to give them a visible badge of office, and a defensive edge. The shield is worn on the non-dominant arm. It is made of overlapping ceramic plates & a ballistic cloth sleeve. The sleeve part extends from the elbow to the palm, ending in a fingerless glove. The shield can be retracted to an arm covering, or extended (spring loaded) 10 cm on each side of the arm. Weight is 1.5 kg, but this is not counted against the wearer's encumbrance load. Glove shields are not available to the general market. As they are defensive in nature, they are not restricted by Law Level.

Combat Effects (combined with wearers' armor)
Vs guns or lasers, DM -1
Vs blade weapons, DM -2

An attacker with two or more hands can attempt to pull the glove shield off, but must have a STR score 3 greater than the wearer. Glove shields are custom-fitted and are not easily worn by another person.

Net Launchers (TL7)

The launcher is a shotgun configuration weapon, loaded with a tightly packed entangling net. The net is cased in a sabot which falls away harmlessly upon launch. The net reaches Medium range and causes no damage, but it will entangle and subdue any creature up to 200 kg. Larger creatures may be slowed by the nets, but they have sufficient strength to rend them and escape. At TL10, grav technology enhancements allow nets to reach out to Long range and to capture flying creatures without causing them to crash.
Weight and price are as Shotguns. Nets: Cr 20 each. Launchers can launch six nets before reloading.

All of these items can be customized by players utilizing Tech Level improvements or the non-generic equipment rules.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Shaking Up my Traveller Universe

One of the more enjoyable aspects of creating your own Traveller Universe is that you can change it if you want.
Back in 1997, when I first began to sketch out the map that would become my TU, I left everything to the roll of the dice. Book 3 showed me the procedure, and I followed it verbatim. All the star nations that inhabit my TU do so because they were adjoining one another on the map as I rolled for the presence of systems.

Was that wrong? No, I do not believe that it was wrong. But it was short on imagination. I had missed out on one of the more important rules – as the Referee I had final say in how my TU took shape.

Looking Back to the Beginning, Heading for the Future

Here's a scan of my original map, about six subsectors worth, on a sheet of graph paper. Compare this with the map of my TU now, and you can see it still lines up. I had forgotten that what is now the Talaveran Empire, and my most developed star nation, I first called the Star Kingdom of Adair.
You'll have to blow it up to see much of anything. Sorry.
Before long I began color-coding the planets, and the various star nations took shape. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The 2015 Amber Zone Contest is on

Surf on over to the Amber Zone (or see the link in my blog roll) and check out all of the entries in this year's Amber Zone Adventure Writing Contest. 

Pay particular attention to my three entries:

but do check out all the other awesome adventures, like and share!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rewarding the PCs in my Traveller game

This is what we do adventure for.

Recently I posed myself the question "what could I give PCs as rewards for completing patron missions besides credits?"  Cash is always handy, but might there be some other kinds of assets that will provide their own adventure hooks, or build the game world, and therefore be more than a number noted on the character sheet?

The answer of course is Yes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Frontier is closer than you think - exploring a solar system

I want to expand my idea from an earlier post on Ungoverned Space or UGS, to see what could be made of it in a Traveller setting. Much to my delight, I found that Book 6, Scouts, gives some canon rules for the little bitty worlds, which I will refer to as subordinate worlds, that populate solar systems, but reside in the shadow of the main world. What I've got here is not a systematic review of Book 6, but a collection of thoughts and impressions based on my reading. You can pick up Book 6 from DrivethruRPG, and it's not even that expensive.

From Book 6: Subordinate governments are the “small, relatively powerless governments which can exist off of the main world”. Exactly. Just the sort of setup where mercenaries, PC parties, and TAS Wardens are needed.

Subordinate worlds are by canon “small [and] relatively powerless” but they can “wield great power on their own territory”. Well that's great, but however much power a mining outpost may have within its own mine shafts, the rest of the planet(oid) is still going to be ungoverned space. The miners are there to mine, not to be a territory holding civil government.

Relatively powerless” - what does this mean? To me it means that the government may not have a potent police force or military to enforce its will and keep the peace; therefore individual residents are more likely to have whatever guns are available. TL 8 may not be able to produce laser weapons, but surely even a small settlement can stamp out some rifles & SMGs. Take a look at the anti-Nazi Underground during WWII.

The subordinate world tech level is the Main TL-1, again illustrating that the frontier is not as well developed as the mainworld. The subordinate world may be dependent on imports from home to supply local needs.

All of this presents a setting of isolated groups of people with limited resources & limited zones of control. In other words, prime locations for adventure!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why have high-tech Jack armor?

Armor TL Modifications for CT

It is common in the development of a technology that its earliest incarnations are bulkier, more expensive, and less efficient than later 'upgrades'. In High Guard, there is a progressively lower cost in credits and tonnage to apply a given level of armor to a ship. Although the Traveller Book does not discuss this, It makes sense that for personal combat equipment there can be a similar decrease in cost & weight as technology progresses.

Here I'm going to talk about upgrading PC's armor, by speculating on increases in function at higher tech levels. For simplicity's sake I am not going to introduce any new armor types – everything will reference the standard armor 'types'.

"Man, nothing's gonna hurt me in this suit. Wait, why can't I move my arms?"

There's an article in Dragon magazine which recommends tech level improvements to standard Traveller gear. The general concept as I recall it is for each TL past introduction, discount 10% from one of various factors – weight, price, effectiveness, size; to a maximum reduction of 99%

I have always understood the two sub-types from Bk4, Flak Vest (Cloth+1) & Cbt Env Suit (Cloth-1) as being slightly worse & slightly better respectively. So there is canon grounds for modifying and bettering personal armor.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Failed Colony - A 76 Patrons format adventure

The Failed Colony

This is another contest entry I wrote a few years ago; cleaned up and expanded. 
Patron: Businessman/Investor Anton Sharrett
Location: Mavramorn (Holtzmann's Corridor 0605)

Required skills: any, technical skills helpful
Required equipment: none

The situation:
The patron, Anton Sharrett (776999, Age 42) has recently acquired at auction the ownership of a failed colony on an in-system moon, Mavramorn-VII-C. M-VII-C is an airless planetoid, so the colony is a sealed habitat. The PCs are part of a group hired to travel to the habitat and conduct an initial assessment. They will be transported to the location by shuttle or the PC's own craft; their goals are to assess damage, get the life support and other machinery working again, and begin cleanup in advance of a more dedicated construction team.

The habitat was sold at government auction, and is certified to have failed for political/economic reasons rather than disease or disaster. Payment will depend upon the skills a character brings to the expedition, technical skills will be most valued. Sharrett offers Cr 2,000 per person plus salvage.

In addition to the PCs, there are two other members of the team
Jean-Pierre Grantham: A78765, Mechanical-2, Forgery-1, Bribery-1
Mechanics tools, vacc suit Gregarious, friendly but utterly self-centered

Brandy Warwick: 698898 Electronics-2, Computer-1, Handgun-1
Electronics tools, hand computer, Vdist commo, task-oriented, quiet, looking for regular work

Sharrett will not be there in person, but can be contacted by radio from the transport ship. He has agreed to grant salvage rights to the characters for any personal (i.e. non-structural) items left behind. If it isn't bolted down, the PCs can take it.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Amber Zone - a Hostile Takeover

I wrote this adventure last year as a contest entry, and shared a snippet of it on my blog. Now I've edited it, and fit it into my TU, in Holtzmann's Corridor. 

A Hostile Takeover

Player's Information:
The PC's are contacted by a business factor on Dekalb (TL-9), looking for a small team to infiltrate a mansion. The Board of Directors of the Intertec Corporation, LLC, have a problem. The CEO of the corporation, Mr. Hanse Cyris has been out of touch for weeks, and hasn't been seen in person in months. He was always reclusive, but this is the longest he's ever been gone. The corporation is facing a financial crisis occasioned by the CEO's absence & non-leadership. The Board has voted Mr. Cyris out, but the local law requires that he be present at the company offices to handle the transfer of power.

Mr. Cyris' last known whereabouts is his mansion at the edge of the city, which sits in a secured, walled compound. The PCs are hired to deliver the CEO to the company offices. They are authorized, as contract employees, to employ all necessary force to secure Mr. Cyris unharmed and bring him to the offices. The Board provides the group with a dossier on the Mr. Cyris, so he can be positively identified when they find him. The mansion is technically corporation property so they are not trespassing. The Board requests that the building itself be damaged as little as possible, but expect some damage as Cyris had installed numerous security measures without advising the Board; he was known to be very concerned about his personal security. Payment will be Cr 10,000 per man, plus any hospital expenses. Excessive damage to the mansion will be deducted from the pay. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mercy Ships for the TAS

In my TU, when the TAS comes into possession of a starship, whether purchased or received as a donation, it can be refurbished and converted into a mercy ship. These ships are crewed by TAS employees, and operate on regular in-system and interstellar routes, bringing routine or emergency medical care to any needy party. The ships are funded by the TAS, the Church and private donations. They are mobile field hospitals, and free clinics, so no one is expected to pay them directly.

The TAS hires people to crew the ships, offering anywhere from 1/2 standard wages to normal, with 1,2 or 4 year contracts. Potential employees can check at a TAS office if there are billets that need to be filled, and request an employment interview. The player should present the referee with relevant skills & experience to build a case for +DMs on the Reaction table, with a reaction of 9+ indicating a job offer. Once hired, the PC is obliged to fulfill the contract; the TAS will not overlook their employees skipping out or engaging in criminality.

The mercy ship can be a good campaign framework for a solo PC; a group of PCs might be able to provide most of the ship operator positions, and have an NPC crew providing medical care. In either case, the referee can direct the PCs to just about any system with the TAS as patron. In the course of providing medical aid, all manner of emergencies and side adventures can be introduced.

Mercy ships will be most commonly encountered in systems with lower populations, lower tech levels, and poorer starports (D, E, & X); as these systems will have less access to quality medical care. Any solar system will have its outposts and settlements on moons, planets or planetoids away from the mainworld, where life is rougher, and help may be far away. On the standard CT Starship Encounter Table, the referee can substitute a mercy ship for any listed encounter, or add a W for mercy ship wherever a dash appears on the table. 

From Adventure Class Ships Volume II, there is the Kurgilash-class Medical scout. 
Kurgilash not pictured, cover art is a Type-T Patrol cruiser.

In my TU, there is also the St Lucy class ship, similar in design to the type Y Yacht.

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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

More than just High Passages - the TAS in my TU

What the Travellers' Aid Society does In My Traveller Universe

In the Third Imperium the feudal unity of the government makes a sector-spanning entity like the TAS possible. The Imperium is everywhere, so the TAS is everywhere as well. In my TU, there are multiple competing governments, none of which controls all of 'known space'. However, there is an organization that does span the map: the Church.

Why does the Church run the TAS? One of the reasons is right there in the name: Aid. For the Church to offer aid and assistance (the ecclesiastical word is alms) to those who venture across the stars just makes sense. The Church is a community. Parishes live and work together and help those around them. This is called almsgiving, and it is an essential part of what the Church is and does. The TAS takes as its foundation Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke chapter 10 which underscored his teaching to "love your neighbor as yourself".

Why a TAS?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

How do you search for things in Traveller?

Search skill in Traveller explained

A lot of modern RPGs have a specific skill for Searching. It makes sense, lots of times an adventure calls for finding some object or person. But where does one go to school to be taught how to search a room?
Has anyone seen my keys?
Traveller’s skill list does not include a Search skill. In effect, it says “who needs that?  Anybody can search.”  But how is this handled in play?  See for yourself, it is laid out pretty plainly in Double Adventure One, Shadows.

Friday, August 14, 2015

One Way to Deal with Pirates

A pirate ship, yo ho!

An encounter with pirates in Traveller

Referee: Dad
Josiah Greene, captain of SS Lioness: Zach
Zeke Mason, XO and head of security: Joel

Referee: The navigator tells you that the pirates that are in pursuit have reached overtake velocity. It is no longer possible to outrun them.

Josiah: What do we know about the pirate’s ship? How big is it?

Referee: Your sensors indicate it’s a 400-ton vessel, probably a modified Type-P corsair.

Josiah: I’d like to make an Education throw to determine the size of the crew.

Referee: Ok, that should be an average difficulty, so roll EDU or less, no DMs.

Josiah: (rolls) Made it!

Referee: The Type P usually has only 10 crewmen, possibly as many as 12.

Zeke: Are we going to fight them?

Josiah: Maybe, but I think we can outsmart them first. (writing) I want to rig this up in the airlock. (hands referee a list)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Is space still dangerous in the Far Future?

Last night for our weekly movie night we watched 1986's Space Camp. Overall it was a good movie; perhaps not the most dramatic but a fun sit. In short, a group of teenagers attending NASA's Space Camp get accidentally launched into orbit in a shuttle that's only half prepared for space, and they have to get back down before the run out of oxygen and die.

The circumstances that led to them being in space were not that credible to me, and the practical effects  were good but not always consistent. Despite this, the main storyline was these kids and their adult supervisor suddenly having to do for real what they had been mock-training for, and coming together as a team without which they would have all died. One thing that the film did do well was demonstrate the difficulties of surviving in space and in zero-G. There was the lack of air, the disorientation of zero-G and the problem of not being able to stop or turn easily. Everything takes longer in space, and the hostile environment will kill you if you let your guard down. The kids all showed the fear that weighed on them as they tried to survive and get home.

Flash forward by several hundred years to the present in my TU, which is the year 924 SA (Space Age). The new calendar began sometime in the 22nd century AD when Jump Drive was introduced. Mankind has reached out into space. I wonder if they still think it's dangerous?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Casual Encounter - Adelaide Thrupp

Who says you have to use guns to have adventures in Traveller?
Adelaide Thrupp 577AC8 Age 50 Diplomat 3rd Secretary 8 Terms Cr 210,000
Retired, 10,000 cr/year TAS member, 1 High Passage
Gambling-1, Carousing-1, Interrogation-1, Liaison-2, Streetwise-1, Vacc Suit-1, Forgery-1, Computer-2

Adelaide (Addy) came from a solidly respectable middle class family on Gataneau in the Talaveran Empire. She decided to make her career in public service and joined the Imperial Diplomatic Corps (IDC), and was assigned to the Corps headquarters on Talavera.
Third Secretary Thrupp lays down the law. You would do well to listen up, citizen.
In her first term she was assigned to work with the Imperial Ministry of Justice (MoJ) on a case involving an illegal gambling house with extra-Imperial ties. The casino was successfully shut down, and she was rewarded for her good work with a promotion to Third Secretary.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Non-human Aliens and the Church, take two

A few months ago I was asked about the possibility of non-humans becoming part of the Church in my TU. Honestly, I punted. I chose at the start to not have intelligent non-terrestrial Beings in my TU, and thereby got around the question. But when the question was posed, I started to think about it more. In that post, I admitted that it is possible that there are other Beings in the universe who possess the Divine Image, but I know nothing about what that would look like.

I am fond of reading Fr. Dave's blog Blood of Prokopius. Although he writes mostly about fantasy gaming, he also has played Traveller and has written a number of posts that discuss it in relation to the Orthodox faith. I don't know why I hadn't spotted the post I quote from before, but it explains much better than I did what I wanted to say about aliens and God.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Say No to generic equipment

Classic Traveller's vehicle section is not the game's strongest point - starships get a lot more coverage, and more detail. Striker has vehicle design rules, but for most folk that's too much detail. Here I propose an experiment; not yet a house rule. By means of a table already part of the game we can introduce variables into the generic vehicle designs, which can be just background/color or a plot hook. Please feel free to tell me whether you think this will work or not.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Battle of Reservoir Valley part 1

Recently I set up a new Striker scenario for my pals Dan and Cameron to fight out. Dan announced his side was The Grand Army of the Glebian Empire, while Cameron's forces were known as the Reservoir Pirates. They worked up their units and wrote their orders, and the battle began.

The original topo map inset. Note the reservoir at the left edge of the map.
The scenario called for a meeting encounter - two units out on patrol encountering each other in a wooded valley bordering a stream. Each side's objective was the same, they each were to cross the map and exit the side opposite from where they entered.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Hold the Line, Please! Distance and Communication in space

Pluto has been hot news recently especially among sci-fi fans and gamers. As it is one of the most distant objects in our solar system, the New Horizons spacecraft took nine long years to reach it. That's a long way away, and brings me to the point of this post, which is this:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New Horizons spacecraft first photo of Pluto

From NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day for July 15, 2015:

New Horizons has survived its close encounter with Pluto and has resumed sending back images and data. The robotic spacecraft reported back on time, with all systems working, and with the expected volume of data stored. Featured here is the highest resolution image of Pluto taken before closest approach, an image that really brings Pluto into a satisfying focus. At first glance, Pluto is reddish and has several craters. Toward the image bottom is a surprisingly featureless light-covered region that resembles an iconic heart, and mountainous terrain appears on the lower right. This image, however, is only the beginning. As more images and data pour in today, during the coming week, and over the next year, humanity's understanding of Pluto and its moons will likely become revolutionized.
The Heavens declare the Glory of God

Pluto     X-110000-0

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Of Robots and Clones

I have been pondering lately the existence of and the place of robots and clones in my TU. Both are fairly common features of sci-fi.There are two ways to approach these subjects: the practical and the philosophical.  I will deal with both questions for both types, robots first. 
A masterpiece of engineering

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Clerics in my Traveller Universe

As priests have higher social standing at least in the Empire, it makes sense to use my popular revamped Nobles career tables to create a Priest career.
St Augustine
These tables assume that the priest is a Christian, ordained by the Orthodox Catholic Church. There are of course other religious groups IMTU, all of which do things differently.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Church in the Corridor

Most of the churches in the Corridor are under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Moscow who has his See on Talavera. The relationship between the Church and the Empire is as complex in the Corridor as it is anywhere else. 

The Metropolitan of the Corridor is on Chapolco. The other worlds have Planetary Bishops, the lower population worlds sometimes share a bishop with another State.

Metropolitan Patrick VI 777ABD Age 46
Nobles/Church 7 terms
Theology-3, Leader-2, Administration-1, Pilot-1

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Casual Encounter Nazir Kobayashi

Nazir Kobayashi
BB7335  Merchant 3rd Officer 2 terms Age 26 Cr- some
Vacc Suit-1, Engineering-1, Bribery-1, Streetwise-1, Carbine-0
Not as stupid as he looks. Far stupider, in fact.

I found this character in a list of pre-generated characters, in Double Adventure 2, Across the Bright Face. I have no setting that he's a part of, no storyline to fit with. I just took what was presented and extrapolated this from his stats and skills.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Special Supplement Four - The Lost Rules

I recently finished some paid online writing work, not Traveller related, and decided to treat myself with my earnings to this curious little volume I saw for sale at DriveThruRPG. The back cover text says in part “This . . . examines various lost rules tucked away and forgotten in various Traveller sources”. This intrigued me, and as it was reasonably priced (the writing gig didn't pay that well) I picked it up.
The clean, simple look of the LBBs never gets old.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review from National Review Online

On June 13th, National Review Online published and interview with Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Greene, about her newest book Welcome to the Orthodox Church. I had the privilege of working Kh. Frederica on this project, as the book's indexer.

Of course, she wrote about the Church here on Earth in the 21st Century, but it would still serve very well as a guide to the Ancient Faith in the Far Future.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

World Leaders and Hot Zones in the Corridor

On Stavanger, the senior Baron is the Head of State; with a Chancellor appointed as Head of Government.

Baron Allan, of House Hokksen 996ACF Age 50 Nobles
Leader-3, Administration-2, Steward-3, Air/Raft-2
Baron Hokksen is driven to see his barony's and his world's economic power increase, to an extent that even mercantile Stavanger sees as excessive.

On Lanzhou, there is a President and Vice President.

President Long Duyi A788AE Age 38 Merchants
Admin-2, Computer-2, Jack-o-T-2, Steward-2
President Long is viewed as a wise grandfather who has run his political party for over two decades.

Dekalb is a Civil Service Bureaucracy so they have a Prime Minister, who is simply a figurehead. The Business leaders are the real power.

Prime Minister Cecil Aylsworth 55699D age 42 Bureaucrat
Electronics-1, Bribery-3, Forgery-1, Streetwise-2
Minister Aylsworth is a cheerful, genial man on the surface. Underneath he is a canny manipulator, playing the business leaders against one another.

On Holtzmann, the Admiral of Naval Base Holtzmann is the de facto head of state. He often coordinates with the seneschal of Dimitrov, a private holding of a Talaveran Duke. 

Admiral Jupater 799A8D Age 42 Navy Admiral
Admin-1, Leader-1, Navigation-1, Pilot-2
The Admiral is an able administrator who chooses to be as uninvolved as possible. He delegates almost all civilian/domestic issues to his staff, leaving him free to run the Navy.

On Tabraz, The Potentate is an absolute dictator.

Potentate Indrus 697BCF Age 50 Bureaucrat
Theology (Islamic)-2, Admin-1, Bribery-2, Aircraft-1, Medical-2
The Potentate is a religious zealot and every bit as xenophobic as the people he leads.

On Dorothua, The Warlord Horkar Baddon is an absolute dictator.

Warlord Baddon 98D88F age 38 Army General
Leader-3, Brawling-3, Rifle-2, T/ATV-2
Baddon is boastful, brash, aggressive and ambitious. He despises anyone who shows sign of anything he considers weakness or passivity. 

On Narok, The Chancellor Kannos Heraklia is a constitutional monarch.

Chancellor Heraklia 3348BF age 117 Bureaucrat
Administration-3, Pistol-2, Bribery-2
The Chancellor is a stubborn old goat and an anti-religious bigot. His ruthlessness has kept him in power for most of a century.

Conflict Zones in the Corridor

  • The very destructive civil war on Faldor is now in its sixth year.
  • On Chapolco, the Geder region is in active revolt. Chapolco proper is supported by Stavanger; Geder, by Lanzhou. It is a proxy battleground for the two.
  • Pampati's unpopular king has to contend with multiple small rebellions and intrigues. The local economy is meager enough that Lanzhou is unlikely to expend much effort to help the king.
  • Narok could go the same way as Faldor once the Chancellor dies, as regional lords vie for the Chancellorship.
  • Worosha could try to break away from VanGoff's World by force.
  • On Dorothua, The Warlord wants to re-arm and get out from under the Empire.
  • Piracy and Multi-planetary organized crime groups threaten trade everywhere.
  • The Lycosky Trade Protectorate will back any group willing to impede the Talaverans, and vice versa.