Saturday, October 31, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 005a

The Zephyr
Week 5 in going to involve some gun running, so the crew purchases a full load of hypercharges for 2000 secs. This reduces their funds to 1175. 

Imperia is an expensive planet, everything is at least double normal prices. However, the main limiting factor is space on the ship. The best way to think about this problem is how to remove as much stuff from the cargo hold. Some items have a specific home. The 27 side arms are in the vault and take up 3 CU. The Regen tank is in medical, taking up 4 CU. The vacuum skimmer is cool, but it really has to stay in the cargo hold taking of 10 of 60 CU. The heavy side arms, robots and u-suits can be distributed in the crew quarters. The hoppers have their own spaces. Naturally, 19 fuel units can be divided among the hoppers. Additionally, the four repair units can be placed in Engineering while the 20 life support units can be placed on the hoppers for storage. 

There is now 50 CU available for items in the hold. The hoppers are too overloaded for use, not all the crew could escape on them due to the overpacking of equipment. Additionally, they should not be deployed because they crew doesn't want them damaged. 

I need 1 fuel unit and a few more repair units. I can sell 2 U-bots, the side arms and some of the life support units. The crew lands at the Industrial site and finds an empty room to search. None of the items in this area are worth screwing up a trade opportunity, so they move on. Looking at the table for the Industrial site, I need to roll a 5 (U-bots), a 7 for repair units, 8 for fuel, 10 for life support and 11 for side arms. There are a maximum of 5 rolls per day as they take 2 hours each. 

I get 5, 6, 10, 7 and 6. That's U-bots, a repairman, life support units, repair units and another repairman. Hmm. U-bots are 50 base price. The roll is a 3, or 5 times normal cost. They sell the bots for 500. It turns out life support units can't be sold here, so that roll is no good. Repair units are 5 each. The crew is going to take a chance on these and purchases 50 of them for 250. 

The next day, day 3, they roll again. They have excellent luck and sell all 50 repair units for 20 secs each or 1000 total. They also decide to sell the four in storage for an additional 80. The engineers are praying they have some good rolls, but no. They get a 3 which ends day 3. 

Day 4 doesn't go well. They purchase one fuel unit at a price of 2. Now they have a solid 20 fuel units or 10 per boat. No other good items appear. 

Day 5, the crew hits the jackpot and can buy side arms at cost of 15 each. Side arms are good cargo because a box of 10 takes up 2 CU. It's now a question of how much cash they have. They have 2503 secs. They buy 123 of them, when combined with the 27 they already have, they have a total of 150 weapons. They take up 30 CU, so they have a bit of breathing room. 

They take the rest of they day to get to the rough areas and I will roll for entry on the next morning. 

Day 6, welcome to the roughs. The Zephyr encounters nothing on the way in to the area, but attempts a contact. They meet up with some rough characters, gun runners who have a ton of arms. The crew is loaded for bear with the ship and hopper guns, so this is not a concern.  

They offer to buy the side arms for 5 each times 10. They take in 7500  less the 1845 they paid for them. The ship's account is up to 8158. 

On day 7, they try again to meet up with the arms dealers. It doesn't work out, instead they meet up with a party of royal guards. Nothing comes of it. 

The next day (EDIT - DAY 8!, I goofed), they get lost and have to boost the ship to a higher altitude to find their way out. A wasted day. 

On day 8 9, they move to orbit and dock at the space station. They may a payment and end the week with 6958. Each crewman receives 74 secs. 

I am going to cut off at the end of Day 8 9. As a player, my inclination is to return to something safe and sure like that cargo run from Regari to Palatek. As a game master, this is where I would kick the players in the butt to make fun stuff happen. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 004

The Zephyr
Week four didn't start out as planned.  The crew is on Nipna and is looking to get off world. The ships took a heavy beating on the last day of the week and the crew has decided repairs are in order. 

In this run through of the game, each character is an independent crew member and has a stake in the ship. While I have been avoiding splitting the crew, I decide that it is reasonable in this case. 

The engineers, Mel and Sarah pour over the ship and the hopper to get all the repairs done on day 1 of week 4. Emily and Patrick are there with heavy hand weapons and the ability to fly the ship away in case they get a bad roll again. 

Jason, Burnie and Alex take off to look for better guns for the ship. The Zephyr has one empty turret and the other only holds TL-1 guns. This proved to be a problem as they could barely defend the ship. The hoppers with TL-6 guns are far more effective. 

They managed to purchase 2 sets of TL-5 guns for a total 3200 secs. They also sold the old guns for 600, which leaves the ship with only 1464 in the ship's account. They crew feels they are dangerously low on funds as hypercharges cost 500 and a ship payment is 475. They have less than 3 weeks of cash in the bank and nothing has been paid on the principal. 

On day 2, they lift of and head for New Karma. 

New Karma is a rather dangerous planet. It is both rich and low tech, but there is a heavy risk of becoming wanted or being attacked at random. Additionally, this planetary system is the most obscure of all of the systems in the game. I mean that literally. There is a lot of rolling for one event that forces you to another event. You can't really see threats coming by flipping to the next entry. 

Luckily, the ship is undetected on entry to the system and proceeds to land in the Ruins. 

Over the next six days, the crew manages to accumulate some goods. In order, they are: 

A skimmer with no fuel, 
10 damaged u-suits that require an RU for repair and a roll to see if it works, 
A damaged U-bot, 
Another undamaged skimmer with no fuel,
A ship's boat with 4 hits of damage, 
An undamaged U-bot, 
A TL-1 side arm, 
A undamaged GM-bot. 
A damaged GM-bot. 
A repair unit. 

That brings us to day 7. 

The engineers burn up four RU to fix the ship's boat. I deem that two engineers working together, can repair one point of damage each. While they are doing that, the rest of the crew creates a cache for the 2 skimmers. 

One of the quirks of this is system is you have to have enough space in terms of CU to fit things in the ship. The rule sort of hint that you can put a boat inside the cargo bay, so that is what they do. 

Now the ship is using all three bays for boats and the largest bay also holds a skimmer. There are 10 CU left, unless I want to start packing things in the hoppers. I am going to do that. Two have guns, so that means 10 of a combined total of 75 CU of space is taken. I also divide the life support units and repair units among the hoppers. That is another 23 CU of 75 taken. I have 42 left. The crew loads in some heavy hand weapons, side arms (just 7) and all of the extra u-suits. 

If they don't take too long, the cached items can be recovered later. The crew decides to go for broke, and try a double jump to Talitar then a single jump to Imperia. At Talitar, there is a single scoutship waiting for us, but they quickly jump again with no incident. 

In the Imperia system, the Zypher only gets a radio check in and can proceed to the surface. The crew decides to stop at the Space Station to try and sell off some goods. They managed to sell the extra hopper for 2500 and immediately pay an interest payment. They have 3489 secs. 

At this point the crew moves the ship away to do some much needed maintenance in orbit, with no random checks. They now have the following in the cargo holds: 

2 Hoppers TL-1, 19 fuel units, 2 GM-bots at TL-5, 2 U-bots at TL-2, 1 vacuum skimmer TL-5 (e153), 3 TL-1 u-suits, 1 TL-6 u-suits, 27 side arms at TL-1, Regen Tank TL-6 (e153), Defense Screens, 20 life support units, and 4 repair units. 

The crew also collects its pay (314 secs) which drives down the ship's account to 3175. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Tinkering with Worldographer

This one is called Miledown, a village, an abandoned tower and a fortification. 


I haven't picked a scale, but I think each hex in the image above should be about 0.2 miles or 1056 feet. That's ok, because I am going with a more artistic rendering of the map. I'll probably add more blue and green pops, but I really like this style. 


The fortification is forming in my mind, based on this image from earlier this month. 


In Worldographer, I have started throwing down the outlines. Right now, I have only laid out the items the guys in the image above can see. I should have marked their location, but I didn't think of that. If you look at the far lower left tower, they are about 6 boxes up and 6 to the right of that tower. 


This front area should be about 1/3 of the whole fortification. In HO scale, the whole thing would be 3 feet wide and four or five feet long. I hope to be done with the digital art by Christmastime. 

If you want to see some of my other maps, go check out DriveThruRPG. Each is listed as pay what you want. 

Kobold’s Folly
Mini Setting

Kobold’s Folly
Kobold’s Folly
Compass Rose
Inn Mini Setting

Compass Rose Inn
Compass Rose Inn
The Hex Pack
The Hex Pack
The Hex Pack

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Play Session 003

What I think a Smuggler
looks like... 
We are in week three. The crew is on Nipna and is looking to make a profit. Emily proposes that they move to the colony where they can trade some goods. To further this goal, Emily orders the hoppers deployed, freeing up their 40 CU slots on the ship. Now the Zephyr can hold a ridiculous amount of products, so long as they don't move. 

Over the week they spend a lot of time purchasing low and selling high. It isn't all that interesting. they take on some u-suits, fuel units, repair units and weapons. Emily decides to stock the ships weapons locker with two cases of side arms TL-6 and arm the crew appropriately. Every crew man has atleast a TL-6 side arm plus the Emily and the Gunners all have heavy side arms. They also take on 6 addition TL-6 heavy side arms for future use. Surprisingly, they make the most money off the fuel and repair units. 

By the evening of day seven, they have made 2540 secs. Emily calls it and moves the ship back to the spaceport where they set down and redeploys the hoppers in order to take on more goods. 

Emily is feeling kind of broke, so she personally invests in some repair units and then hopper guns. She manages to make herself 430 secs. Additionally, the crew arms up the hoppers with new TL-6 guns at a cost of 240 secs., which was slightly offset by selling the guns they had for 30 secs each. The rest of the crew takes a day of RRR and are impressed with her trade skills.   

On day 9, things go wrong. Very wrong. It was decided the ship would depart on Day 10. The crew would pick the destination once they made orbit. Since day 9 was a day of RRR except for Emily, they accidentally rolled a contact. They got the dreaded e133 Death Squad again. 

The Zephyr and one of the hoppers are damaged by two titanic explosions as the miner's connected and exploded. 

And here is where the rules go batty. There are some references to explosive hits on a ship and boat, but these guys merely have to touch the ship to cause damage. But how much? I don't know. Since damage is determined by a to hit roll and they don't have to roll to touch something, what happens?  

I can't imagine that someone could miss touching a starship or a boat. They are walking bombs so I decided that they do 1 point of damage to the Zephyr and 1d6 plus a critical to the hopper, just like a blast from ship's guns. The hopper takes 2 points and rolls for breakdown. It's a TL-1 hopper, it doesn't breakdown. 

The next round is brutal. The hoppers open fire with their guns as the Zephyr leaps into the air. They down the spitters while the other two members of the squad mill about. The hoppers lift off and continue the carnage. 

Three rounds of combat and the squad is dead. The crew seriously considers upgrading the Zephyr's guns. 

Day 10 is spent as RRR with no results. They obviously get a visit from the local police, which doesn't really effect anything. The police are just happy to have the Death Squad dead and the Zephyr leaving the planet. The engineers patch up what they can before heading to bed. One hopper has a good sized hole in it (1 point of damage). 

The ship's account starts day 10 at 7404 secs. The crew is paid off 74 secs. each. Emily phones in the ship's weekly payment of 475, leaving 6263. 

The crew will pick a new destination on day 1 of week 4. 

The ship holds the following resources: 2 Hoppers TL-1, 2 Hopper guns TL-6, 1 Ship's Guns TL-1, 18 fuel units, 1 GM-bot TL-5, 1 vacuum skimmer TL-5 (e153), 3 TL-1 u-suits, 1 TL-6 u-suits, Regen Tank TL-6 (e153), Defense Screens, 20 life support units, and 8 repair units, 27 TL-6 side arms, 6 TL-6 heavy side arms. 


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Endless Quest Books at Amazon

In February, I was looking at these series of books on Amazon, so perhaps it's time for a little #TBT. 

I love these choose your own adventure style books. Since then, I noticed the price dropped on a couple of them. Back in March, I realized I'd have some time on my hands so I picked up a few of these. The prices were better on Alibris, so that is the route I when. However, they did not have all of the titles, so Amazon has a better selection.

The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com. 

Endless Quest Books

Ads provided by Amazon help fund this website by remuneration. 

Why not try Amazon Prime today and save on shipping, plus get great music and videos? Get 30 days free by clicking the link below.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Play Session 002

Last post, we ended with the crew of the Zephyr winning big at the gambling tables, only to have Emily get jumped for her money and gear. Mel not only wins big at the high roller table, he also purchase a TL-6 side arm that fires like a heavy hand weapon. Feeling bad for Emily, he gives her the weapon. She wants to hear more about the seller because she wants enough firepower to get even with those hoods that jumped her. 

As Mel explained how he met this arms dealer, (e153) Emily hatches a plot. 

Ok, as mentioned in the prior post, each member of the Zephyr crew is an independent character like Duke was in Star Smuggler. While they lack his skills and stats, they have his equipment and money, plus that independence. In this scenario, Duke holds the title on the ship and is the person that the crew pays interest and principal to. 

When Emily calls him about the most recent payment, she flubs her cunning check and lets slip that she is about to go from legit trader to vigilante. Duke squashes the idea and implicitly tells her to get back to trading. The casino vacation is over. 

The crew makes their weekly payment and have 1375 in the ship's account to work with. Additionally, the individual crewmen have several thousand secs to spend on personal equipment. 

Emily rallies the troops and they spend the next 4 days trading in the Spaceport. They buy low and sell high on Ninpa. One of the quirks of this system is items have a base price which is modified by the wealth of the system. Prices are modified from x1 to x20. This increases rather steeply on high cost planets, but even under the worst conditions the player can make 10 times what they spent because the difference of the highest and lowest prices are based on a 1d6. You're equally likely to get x1 or x2 prices as it is to get x10 or x20.  

While the majority of the crew are looking for resources or salable goods, Emily is looking for more gunmen. At the end of the week, the players obtain a GM bot, 20 life support units and sell off 10 of 30 fuel units. Mel made an opportune purchase of 10 additional GM bots and sold them for a whopping 6000 secs. All said and done, the ship's account jumped to 6769. 

Emily, on the other hand started looking for more stake holders, crew for the ship. She successfully recruited 2 pilots named Jason and Alex, 2 gunners named Pete and Burnie plus Sarah, an engineer. Each of them put up 100 secs. to join the crew topping up the ship's account to 7269. 

Here are the new character's stats: 

Jason - Pilot
Marksmanship - 3     Hand-to-Hand - 1     Endurance - 4     Cunning - 3     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 550 secs.  

Alex - Pilot 
Marksmanship - 4     Hand-to-Hand - 1     Endurance - 5     Cunning - 1     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 150 secs. 

Burnie - Gunner
Marksmanship - 4     Hand-to-Hand - 2    Endurance - 7     Cunning - 5     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 550 secs. 

Pete - Gunner
Marksmanship - 3     Hand-to-Hand - 3     Endurance - 4     Cunning - 2     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 50 secs. 

Sarah - Engineer
Marksmanship - 2     Hand-to-Hand - 2     Endurance - 5     Cunning - 6     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 250 secs. 

After successfully getting the require crew for a good hit on the hoods, Emily tried to make contact with the weapons dealer. They ran into a repo team the first day, but this is a non-event because the ship's weekly payment was already made. 

On the second day, the crew met with disaster. On their second day out, they ran into a Mynkurian Death Squad (e133). On a high tech world like Nipna, this could have been deadly. 

For role play purposes, I placed the crew in a bar looking for contacts. Half the party was in one booth while the rest of the party was in a second booth. When the Death Squad entered, they couldn't pick out leaders, so I rolled 50-50 for which table interested them. They picked Emily's table and fired two shots on them. Two of the squad are miners that go after bots and vehicles and explode on contact. Since the party didn't have these items, they hesitated. The "gold slayers" have poison knives and target officers. Since no one was displaying a weapon or insignia, they also paused. The spitters fired two shots at a random character, who happened to be Emily. She was stuck for 6 hits and returned fire burning one spitter to ash with her new pistol. The remaining characters opened fire, too. With TL-1 sidearms they didn't down anyone but the two miners took 1 and 2 points respectively. 

The remaining spitter targeted Emily again. He missed but Emily blew him away. The rest of the crew took down both miners since they were closer. 

In the third round, Emily was forced to flee and no one could shoot the lead "gold slayer". The second "slayer" was hammered by 7 side arm shots. 

In the forth round Emily stood her ground and fired. The "slayer" beat the odds and stabbed her. While Drew administered first aid, the rest of the crew punched and kicked the last slayer to death. 

For the rest of the week, Emily is laid up with injuries. Drew puts her in the Regen tank and she is restored to 9 Endurance. She decides not to risk the tank a second time. The GM-bot does it's thing on the ship and maintains the tank to keep it safe and available. 

Over the next two days, the rest of the crew is very luck and makes 2 contacts with the "weapons dealer". This is e153 High Technology Items. In the reading of the event, the crew makes a roll to see what item they are offered. To role play this one out, I decided that this dealer is a lot like The Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy and what item the characters get is based on the party's internal arguing with each other. 

The crew is dominated by spacemen and they select first the vacuum skimmer with life support and starship defensive screens for 1,500 secs. This comes out of the ship's account as they are items for the ship. The account now holds 5,469. 

Had Emily been with them, I would have had her make a cunning roll to try to get those powerful side arms. But she wasn't and most of the crew are new and pilots or engineers. They think better equipment is the best. 

At the end of the week, each member of the crew receives 55 secs. which reduces the ship's account to 4864. The ship has the following resources on board: 

2 Hoppers TL-1, 2 Hopper guns TL-1, 1 Ship's Guns TL-1, 20 fuel units, 1 GM-bot TL-5, 1 vacuum skimmer TL-5 (e153), 3 TL-1 u-suits, 1 TL-6 u-suits, Regen Tank TL-6 (e153), Defense Screens, 20 life support units, and 10 repair units. 

The characters have the following equipment: 

Emily - Pilot
Equipment - utility suit (T-6), sidearm (T-6, explosive rounds).
Money: 74 secs.  

Mel - Engineer
Equipment - utility suit (T-6), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 3769 secs. 

Drey - Medic
Equipment - utility suit (T-6), PS-bot (T-1).
Money: 74 secs. 

Patrick - Gunner
Equipment - utility suit (T-6), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 1074 secs. 

Jason - Pilot
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1). 
Money: 615 secs.  

Alex - Pilot 
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 205 secs. 

Burnie - Gunner
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 605 secs. 

Pete - Gunner
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 105 secs. 

Sarah - Engineer
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 305 secs. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

New Star Smuggler Equipment

I have always wanted new equipment for Star Smuggler but balancing them against the rules and scenarios makes it difficult.  

One of the difficulties is, adding more shots per round or increasing damage is not viable. More shots would increase the chance of a critical, while increasing the damage from 1 to an arbitrary number would result in speeding up combat a bit or being an instant kill weapon. Criticals are termed a something that puts a character down and out without zeroing out their endurance.  

For this reason, the new weapons must be more limited but still useful. In the case of a stunner, a critical always blocks the enemy from taking their next action, which is useful. The body pistol is like a tiny sidearm that can't punch through utility suits let alone armor. The upside is it can be concealed from searches. Both make sense in the setting as they can't damage vehicles at all, which is a bonus when the vehicle is keeping you alive.

One quirk of the sidearm is anyone can use them, but the rules specifically say that certain characters can't. I believe the spirit of the rule is someone without training is ineffective. A to hit roll requires a number greater than 1, as you must roll under your combined marksmanship skill and the tech level of the weapon. For Duke has a Marksmanship of 5. With the standard TL-1 sidearm, he hits on a roll of 2 to 6 and misses on anything higher. For a medic with no marksmanship ability, he needs to roll under the TL of the weapon, which is 1 to 6. So a TL-1 gun won't work for him. What about a TL-6 weapon? He would hit on 2-6, which is a little weird. 

Stunner:
This is a small device that uses hand-to-hand ability to strike either in melee or at a distance. It is available from events where sidearms are available at the same cost. A box of 20 takes up 2 CU.  

To hit with a stunner, the character either shoots or swings it in melee. Add the character's hand-to-hand rating to the weapon's technology level. If the roll is under this value, a strike has been scored. If either of the dice is a 1 or 6, the target has been hit for a critical. Merely striking does no damage, a critical is needed to have any effect. 

When a critical scored, roll one six sided die. On a roll of 1, the target is unconscious for the rest of the day. On a roll of 6, the target is down for 6 combat rounds (30 minutes). Any other roll causes the target to lose their next action. 

A stunner does not cause physical damage and is useless against vehicles, robots, targets in utility suits or armored u-suit. Victims do not lose any endurance. 

This "weapon" is usable by anyone, such as drivers and medics. 

Body Pistol: 
This is a small, short ranged gun that fires slugs. It is different than a sidearm as it can be hidden. If a character is searched, they can keep the gun hidden with a cunning roll. It is available from events where sidearms are available at twice the cost. These weapons are limited to Tech Level 3 or less, any higher roll will be treated as TL-3. A box of 20 takes up 1 CU.  

The Body Pistol has tactical advantages at a cost. When shooting at a target, it does 1 point of damage on a hit. However, it cannot inflict criticals against vehicles, or targets wearing a utility suit or armor. The point of damage will not penetrate or damage a utility suit. it's the shock of impact and bounce that causes the point of damage to the wearer. Unprotected individuals can take extra damage or be knocked out on a critical. 

Body Pistols are considered gimmick weapons and are only outlawed where all weapons are prohibited.   

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Map Doodles

I'm troubleshooting Worldographer tonight. It works on one system but not another. Annoying, because I know it's my machine. 

Anyway, here is a quick map I used for testing. 



As a map, it's pretty plain. I like it as artwork better. 




Making An E5 List and Checking It Twice

I haven't jumped to e5 yet, but last year I picked up a nice Humble Bundle. I can't use that content without the core books. I received a $5.00 gift card for Amazon and will probably start with the Handbook.

Of course, I'll need these the DM's Guide and the Monster Manual, too.


Is there anything else I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.

I could use this as an excuse to buy more dice.

(Ab)Using What You Got

I like to use random ideas. Generally, I hate spam but spam comments have cause some of my better writing to come to the forefront. In this week's version, "a better life with Spam", I'll be posting images of artwork based on Artificial Intelligence. 

This was a project I started a few months ago. I like the unicorn but wasn't sure where the rest of it was going. 


Queue up the spam suggesting Artificial Intelligence to get things done more efficiently. Since I was lost on this image, I didn't know how to proceed. I upload it to Deepart.io and the results are wonderful. 


I've tried redoing this image in oil paint, but that seems wrong. I think I will try colored pencils, which isn't my favorite choice, but I think it could work. 

On a side note, I generally don't delete spam. Some of it is amusing, such as the guy at a consignment shop that tried to imply that his goods were magic items to tie into my 52 Weeks of Magic posts. Classic. 

Let me take a second to shout out Fat Goblin Games, 3dMakerworks.com, and Goblin Clan Miniatures. These 3d printed products came into my awareness via a spam link. They have suspended their affiliate program, but they so nice, I can't help but suggest them for your table.  

Having said that, I have noticed an uptick with tech themed spam which has been deleted. The problem with tech products and spam is they can do nasty stuff with your data. I will implementing a policy of report and kill from here on out. If you have noticed missing comments, that is why. 

My apologies, but I can't host something dangerous. 

As always, if you have a product or website you want promoted, post a link in the comments or hit me up at Facebook, Twitter, MeWe, Dice.Camp or Mastodon. I am always looking for new stuff and content for my site, I would love to do a write up on you. 

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Play Session 001

Ok, I really dig the Traveller Podcast SAFCOcast. I've tried to play Traveller a couple of times and it is pretty clear I don't grok the rules. I need someone to hand hold me. I've had fun every time I played with a group, but left to my own devices, I get lost in the expansive thing that is Traveller. 

In order to simulate the experience of Traveller without the helping hand, I'm trying out Star Smuggler from the perspective of a party of adventurers rather than a solo captain with a bunch of hired hands. 

In order to make this happen, I have taken Duke out of the Captain's Chair. Duke is now an agent for a ship manufacturer. He is looking for some young folks to fly a new ship. It's a subsidized ship which is far superior to the old Antelope class ships currently plying the spaceways. 

A player can have as many characters as they wish, up to 5 to start. They can be any type of character within the rules for retainers, except psionists. Each one's stats is generated by the rules in the appropriate section. However, they each receive the personal goods that Duke would receive. One of them will have Duke's stats. Every character has a utility suit, a sidearm and 1d6x100+150 secs. If a character cannot make use of a sidearm, they may have one PS-bot. Additionally, each of these characters has a cunning score of 1d6. 

In order to become a member of the crew, these characters must purchase a stake in the ship for 100 secs. This goes into a general account for the purposes of running the ship. This account starts with 750 secs and is increased by sales of goods and purchases of stakes. It is decreased when the crew purchases cargo for transport, improvements for the ship and pays fees. It is also used to pay down principal of 190,000 and make weekly interest payments of 475 secs. It may not be used to purchase personal good for the crew, with the exception of healing, transportation for business and utility suits as replacements for ones lost due to circumstances. 

I've tried a couple of different mechanics and this is the simplest thing I could do. Crew members are differentiated from retainers by virtue of purchasing a stake. The crew can ask retainers to join the crew, but don't have to do so. Retainers receive the listed salary in the rules, while crew members benefit from their stake. The crewman draws 1% of the ship's account per week per stake and at the end of 10 years, when the ship is paid for, they will have partial ownership in the ship. Crew members may purchase additional stakes, but only 50% ownership can be allotted to crew. 

This new ship is an Antelope II class ship and the crew has named it Zephyr. It has 2 cargo holds for a total of 100 CU of storage. Alternatively, one hold can be used for a second hopper. The ship has one hopper to start with T-1 guns. The ship is equipped with 15 fuel units for the hopper. The ship has two turrets, but initially has only one set of guns mounted. As per normal, everything is T-1. EDIT - The ship has 15 hits. 

The most expansive change is the crew space. There are now 32 CU for crewmen divided into two 16 CU sections. This space also houses a 6 CU medical unit, which is a room with space for a medic or doctor to work. There is a weapons hold which can be used for anything, it can only be opened by the crew, not retainers or other non-crew members. The Antelope II has no hiding places as it is a more legitimate ship than the older style Antelopes. 

Ok, now that the rules are laid out, let's detail the characters that crew the Zephyr. It should be noted that all characters have a cunning score and I set it to 4. Each crew member has a stake score listed as a percentage, which represents how much of the ship they own and how much they can draw from the ship's account. 

Emily - Pilot
Marksmanship - 5     Hand-to-Hand - 6     Endurance - 10     Cunning - 4     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 450 secs.  

Mel - Engineer
Marksmanship - 1     Hand-to-Hand - 2     Endurance - 4     Cunning - 4     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 450 secs. 

Drey - Medic
Marksmanship - 0     Hand-to-Hand - 3    Endurance - 6     Cunning - 4     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), PS-bot (T-1).
Money: 250 secs. 

Patrick - Gunner
Marksmanship - 5     Hand-to-Hand - 5     Endurance - 4     Cunning - 4     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 350 secs. 

Ship's Account - 1150 secs. 

Week's Event Logs. 

The crew starts off at the Spaceport on board the Zephyr. On the second day, they manage to find a contact (e192) that can set them up on a supply run to Paletek. The deal is, they purchase carvings from the colony on Regari for 5 secs per CU and move them to a city on Paletek, where they sell them for 10 secs. On Paletek, they can buy electronics for 60 secs per CU and sell them to the Regari Colony for 100 secs. All of these prices are base price and are subject to die rolls. 

Normally, I don't go this route, but decided to give it a go. They purchase 100 CU of carvings, make the weekly payment on the ship, then they break for orbit. The Ship's account is rather spare, since this was a combined cost of 975 secs.

By the morning of day 4, they off load the goods with no problems. They make 3000 secs. They use the ship's account to purchase 3000 secs or 50 CU of electronics and make for orbit. By the middle of Day 5. they've sold the cargo again (+5000 secs.) and started return trip with 83 CU of electronics (-4980).  

One of the limiting factors in this is, unless the crew gets creative with storage, they can only carry 100 CU of goods. The second limiting factor is, hypercharges. I haven't mentioned those, but the Zephyr has 6 and they are out now. 

They off load the electronics for 8300 secs and make their way to the spaceport to buy more hypercharges. For the record, the ship's account has 8495. They spend all of Day 6 shopping. They purchase a second hopper and a set of boat's guns (900+160), 10 repair units (10), and 6 hypercharges (3000). The ship's account is now down to 4425. 

The crew decides they need to take a break and head to Nipna for some R and R. By the morning of day 9, they have burned four hypercharges, landed at the spaceport and walked to the Casino. By noon, they are rolling dice. 

Rather than detail all of the gambling, I will just show how much each character had leaving the tables: 

Emily - 400 secs.  
Mel - 800 secs. 
Drey - 500 secs. 
Patrick - 500 secs. 

They did great, but let's add in some role play. The gang is pretty drunk and foolishly play the high stakes table. Each one puts up 100 secs in 10 secs. increments and tried to score some money for the ship's account. They lost 400 secs but ultimately won an additional 900 secs. Mel returned the tables and ended up with more 800 secs. for the ship's account. The funny things drunk people do. 

The crew, drunk and scattered drew some attention walking out. Emily who was holding the 900, plus her own money got robbed. They took everything from her. Drey, Mel and Patrick were give the same offer to play more games. Drey got cleaned out, but Patrick doubled his money and Mel did amazing multiplying his money and the ship's account money by 5. 

On the morning of day 10, they staggered back home. Emily got there first, followed by Drey then Patrick. Mel was detected on entry to the spaceport and rolled e153. Amusingly, since the rest of the crew planned RRR, they also made a contact which resulted in e153. 

To keep things clear, I'll run more numbers now: 

Emily - 0 secs.  
Mel - 4000 secs. 
Drey - 0 secs. 
Patrick - 1000 secs. 
Ship's Account - 8425

Now that that is squared away, let's talk about e153. It's a chance to buy high tech items. Since Mel was alone with this one, he couldn't consult the crew or spend more than what he had on him. He purchases the high powered sidearm (T-6) which fires explosive rounds for 250 secs. He wanted 4 of them, but it's one per customer. 

This gets a bit weird, but since Mel has a large chuck of the ship's funds on him, the rest of the crew hems and haws over paying 4000 secs for the regen tank. On Mel's return, they are extraordinarily happy to find that he has another 4000 for the account. This means people get paid. It's secs. that they didn't have before. 

Mel feels bad for Emily and hands over his shiney new sidearm. The crew is amped up for more shenanigans. They replace their hypercharges and buy a 5 overpriced utility suits so everyone has one and a spare. Next week they are going hunt down some muggers and get even. 

Emily - Pilot
Marksmanship - 5     Hand-to-Hand - 6     Endurance - 10     Cunning - 4     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-6), sidearm (T-6, explosive rounds). 
Money: 19 secs.  

Mel - Engineer
Marksmanship - 1     Hand-to-Hand - 2     Endurance - 4     Cunning - 4     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 3769 secs. 

Drey - Medic
Marksmanship - 0     Hand-to-Hand - 3    Endurance - 6     Cunning - 4     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), PS-bot (T-1).
Money: 19 secs. 

Patrick - Gunner
Marksmanship - 5     Hand-to-Hand - 5     Endurance - 4     Cunning - 4     Stake - 1%
Equipment - utility suit (T-1), sidearm (T-1).
Money: 1019 secs. 

Ship's Account - 1849 secs. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

D&D Titles on Amazon are Buy 2 Get One Free

My affiliate links aren't really working for me, except DriveThruRPG's links over on the left (and right). 

I figured I take a last stab at Amazon on Prime Day. They are offering: 

https://amzn.to/373mZEr

Get 3 for the price of 2. Offered by Amazon.com. (restrictions apply)

Add 3 items from the selection on this page to your Shopping Basket via the "Add to Basket". When you're done shopping, click the "Proceed to Checkout" button. The Offer will be automatically applied to your total customer order value at checkout if you are eligible.

They only have a handful of titles, but the savings is pretty good. Use the link above to get the deal or navigate to the website and check out all of the books in the section. 

I get remuneration for link clicks via Amazon, so thank you again for helping keep this blog going. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Star Smuggler... again... and again

Ok, in my last post I created a new ship for Star Smuggler, creatively called "The Antelope II". It's twice as big as the original. 

Crewing the ship will be a problem as will generating weekly funds to pay for it. In order to dance around these issues, I decided to create a new mechanic for Duke Springer. Duke has a statistic no other character has, Cunning. When playing, you roll 1d6 to generate this value. When replaying the game, it is suggest that you reduce this number if the game was too easy and increase it if the game was too hard. 

Since the game already allows a changing value for this Cunning mechanic, I want to use it to rapidly add crewmen. Duke can "purchase" one crewman for a point of Cunning. He cannot spend all of his Cunning on this, he must have at least one Cunning point. 

The available options are all of the retainer types from e062 to e069. The player simply chooses the one(s) he wants, include the Driver who normally won't travel outside of his or her system. In this case, he or she would. Where there is a choice of two, such as gunners or bodyguards, Duke picks the better of them.

Stats are generated just like retainers, but crewmen are different than retainers. Each crewman has a stake in the ship as opposed to drawing a salary. When items more than 100 secs are sold, they take a 1% cut. They keep this money for themselves to buy goods or save, as they see fit. The crewmen can operate independently and can be separated from the ship and/or Duke to perform their jobs. 

Additionally, they purchase their stake in the ship from Duke. When these characters are initially created, they have 1d6+150 secs. which they pay half to Duke for a stake in the ship.
If Duke is killed, one of them takes over his role. 

EDIT 1 - I tried that part and it was too difficult. I have changed it. Each crew generates their starting money and it is pooled. This pool is divided by the following formula: (pool/number of characters+2). Each person has a "stake" in the ship now, but the ship has two stakes. If the characters had 1000 secs. and there were 3 characters, each stake would be the 1000/5=200. Each character has 200 secs. while the ship has 400. The 400 secs. for the ship's stake is what is used to purchase goods for the ship. If a character purchases personal equipment, not for the ship, it comes out of their personal money. 

When items are sold, the funds are also divided up in this fashion, too. The sale of 100 secs. worth of goods would net each player 20 secs. and the ship would take twice that amount, 40 secs. This makes it much harder to generate funds for the weekly payments, but that is the cost of doing business. Save early, save often. 

To pay the 300 secs for the loan, players would have to make at least 1500 secs. a week. If the funds aren't there, all characters will kick in money from their personal savings. It's that or be hunted as a loan jumper. 

If new characters are added, recalculate the cost of each stake by adding the new character to the original formula. This means you need to write the formula down the first time you use it. The new character will then pay that amount to the ship's account to become a crew member. If a crewman dies, nothing much happens. When the sale of good occur, use the new number of crew in the formula. Yes, getting your crew killed will make more money for the survivors. It happens. 

As an added twist, these crewmen also have a Cunning skill. It is 1d6-2, with a minimum of 1. Like Duke, they can use this stat to bring on new crewmen at a later date. This creates the scenario where Duke probably isn't the most cunning person on the ship. As a consequence, if Duke enters a scenario where a cunning roll is needed, the roll is made by the character with highest Cunning present. If Duke desires to do something dangerous, he must accompany that person and pays the price of a failed roll himself.

EDIT 2 - This part didn't make sense. Duke can't decide for another crewman, he can't force them to be savvy. 

Something like Mal and Zoe's relationship where Mal has an idea and Zoe does the tricky work of getting the details right. It also covers a situation like when Simon hired the crew for a heist or when Mal brought Simon (and River) on as crew after they had started their adventures. 

EDIT 3 - The comparison doesn't make much sense now. 

I haven't even begun to categorize the rules and event changes this would require. But it seems rather workable. What do you think? Let me know in the comments. 

Star Smuggler... Again

I unexpectedly have the day off and want to revisit the Star Smuggler Universe. The temptation to reskin the characters as the crew of the Firefly is incredible, but that would take a lot of work. I am stealing some ideas, but not Firefly whole clothe. I have decided to interject some ideas from Traveller into this run through, too.

My understanding of Traveller is super weak, so I am taking some of the larger concepts and ignoring many mechanics. The main idea that I am stealing is weapon mounts are dependent on hull size. I have created a large ship, which I will dub the Antelope II and it's twice as big as a 100 ton ship.

The original Antelope was 100 ton ship with space to carry about 134 CU of goods. Sort of. I seem to get a different number depending on how I count. The Antelope II is 200 ton vessel and has 212 CU of space. That is a multiplier of 1.58 for those keeping score at home. 

Since this is Inktober, I wanted to keep the high contrast drawn vibe from the original game. I used GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) to create a new deckplan, staying as close to the original art as I could. It isn't exactly "ink" but it sort of looks like it. 


As you can see from this schematic, I have stolen a bunch of ideas from Firefly. The ship has space for two hoppers, a medical area and weapons hold. The crew area is much larger than the Antelope, holding 6 rooms or enough room for 32 CU of people. Unlike Firefly and the Antelope I, it has two gun mounts and no secret areas. The 60 CU cargo hold is of center as it was in the original design, but this ship has a second 40-CU hold fore of the main hold and bay. It can hold a second hopper, but that is not a standard option so play begins with just one. 

This ship would require a few of modifications of the rules, which I have not formally written up yet. It looks like I would have to rewrite 3 events and 3 rules: e001, e036, e157.4, r237, r229d and r217. The events cover your first day with the ship, e036 covers buying a new ship and e157.4 references the medical regrowth tank. The rules modified are r217 for starship damage, r229d for search locations and r237 for critical hit locations. In respect to hits and search locations, the only completely new things are the medical space and weapons hold. 

The medical space is simply an area large enough for several characters and the medic could hang out in there. It would count as quarters for searches and would be immune to criticals as it's a vault in the center of the ship. The weapons hold would be searched on cargo hold results and would share the immunity to criticals for the same reason as medical does. The medical space is somewhat like a turret as it has enough room for the 4 CU regrowth tank plus a medic and one patient. The regrowth tank is not a standard option, so the player would have to find one. As far as the extra crew quarters and hold, I would have each of them hit on a 50-50 chance. I think I thought of everything, but I will have to do a play through to be sure. 

Since we are talking about a ship 1.58 times bigger, I figure multiplying everything by that will give me good cost stats. The cost is 190,000 secs with an interest payment of 475 a week. All of these values are simply the original ship's stats multiplied and rounded up. At that price point, the player would get two sets of tech 1 guns and one hopper and 16 hits. 

The overly large size will create crewing problems. I'll look at that in my next post. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Inside Out Fortification

This month, I am doing castles as the theme of my Inktober sketches. I've always been amused by the bit in So Long and Thanks for All the Fish where Wonko the Sane builds the Asylum, an inside out building to contain the world gone mad. 

This is probably my first contact with this concept of an inside out structure. 

However, real life shows that Wonko the Sane's Asylum isn't nuts. Apparently Julius Caesar did this in his siege craft. In a particularly interesting conflict, Caesar attacked fortification of Alesia. 

Muriel Gottrop in December 2004 from Wikipedia

The Gallic leader, Vercingetorix took refuge in the oppidum (an Iron Age Fortified town) with his 80,000 men. Caesar decided it was more prudent to siege the town rather than storm it. However, this required building a 10 mile long wall around Alesia. It wasn't perfect, but it was effective. 

When the Gallic relief force showed up, Caesar built a second wall around his own forces and the Roman's world collapsed into a one half mile strip of land between his walls.  

As the siege progressed, Vercingetorix turned out many of the civilians in the hopes that they would be captured by the Romans and fed. Caesar refused this option and didn't attempt to capture or kill any of them. A siege requires people to consume the food, so in turning them away, he didn't weaken his own position by wasting energy on killing or capturing them. As you can see from the map, neither of Caesar's walls were perfect and probably some people simply walked away. 

The Romans never broke into the walls of Alesia, but Vercingetorix was forced to surrender. He and the chieftains were killed and the Roman Legions took 40,000 captives as slaves. 

Most of this account was written by Caesar himself, so many of the numbers are probably inflated. It is fairly reasonable to assume that Caesar reported accurate numbers for his own forces but magnified the Gallic forces to look better. He said that there were 80,000 following Vercingetorix and the Gallic relief force numbered 250,000. This is pretty unlikely. 

But what we can take from this is, Caesar only took half of the people involved captive as slaves and he literally built 2 walls at least 10 miles long. 

From the prospective of gaming, we can see that a lot of historical figures do incredible things while not resorting to a scorched earth policy or glassing event. Caesar really played himself as a benevolent leader and ran a policy of forgiving his enemies. This probably explains why Vercingetorix surrendered himself. Either he though that was the best option for his followers to survive and there was a slight chance he, himself, would survive. Many of Caesar opponents killed themselves to spite him when they lost. 

These sorts of examples highlight why people surrender in battles and I would totally make that concept a thing in my games if it ever came to the party surrendering. I posted about that almost a year ago. If more games incorporated an honor mechanic, it would probably happen more often. 

One further tieback to game is my frustration of the lack of realistic scales for fortifications. Alesia was not a particularly massive fortified position, but if Caesar stood back a couple of miles, it's far larger than what is shown in modules like Keep on the Borderlands. My players in our B2 sessions were completely stymied by the huge area and I figure the area represented on the map is too small by a good margin. 

I'll be posting maps and drawings of my ideas soon. Stay tuned. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Inktober Lighting Test

I have a stack of drawings I want to redo but this year I'm sticking to a particular theme of castle exploration. Since this is day one with a new camera and setup, I need some test images. That's where my slush pile comes in. 

Test One: Lighting with Woman.  


Why is my internet ponderously slow? Blah. 

Well, the lighting wasn't bad but my camera is screwed up. I'll try again tomorrow. Sigh. 


The Tek - September 2020

 My stats for DriveThruRPG were lack luster. I really should have done something for the second anniversary of Zero to Hero. 

 AD&D Character Sheet For Use with Unearthed Arcana: 6
 Compass Rose Inn Minisetting: 2
 Kobold's Folly: 1
 Swashbuckler Character Class for D&D and AD&D: 1
 These Old Games Presents: The Hex Pack: 4
 Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners: 2

Unfortunately, spending was greater than DriveThruRPG income for the second month in a row.  This month I grabbed 3 books by Timothy S. Brannan which was totally worth it. 




In August, I got back up on the horse and brought my webstats up. This month, I fell off again. 

Google Analytics Pageviews - 596
Google Analytics Sessions - 532
Pageviews per Session - 1.43

On a personal aside, I am trying to back down my insulin. Balancing my blood sugar against what I eat has a big learning curve. I cut back on food and added a lot of exercise to loose weight and the blood sugar goes haywire. It's not as bad as the last time, but it really slows me down. 


Blood sugar isn't a dump stat. Today, I laughed and cried like a loon at dinner, but recovered enough to make a video and write three posts. My head hurts.  

Ah, well. Enough b----ing. This month is Inktober, so maybe I can pull in more readers with videos. 

Inktober the First

Back in August, I sketched out a castle scene and became fascinated with the two guys wandering through. 

I think this Inktober, I will give them names, crank up the detail and document their explorations through various locales. 

I think they will mesh nicely with my D&D kick. 

I actually set up an area to draw, I now just need to get the zoom and lighting correct.