Monday, May 29, 2023
Monday, May 15, 2023
I'm starting to piece together the Pantheon of Gods for the Lost Temple. It ain't much of a temple without a god or gods to worship. In this case, these gods became lost when the temple was abandoned so the PC's will not have any knowledge of them.
The first god is going to represent liminal spaces. While he is not the most important God in the Pantheon, he is the vehicle behind the PC's ability to explore this magical place. Rather uncreatively, I've been thinking of naming him Lumo. I'll probably come up with something better. Lumo is a placeholder for now.
The term "liminal space" is new to me. This post is talking me through the idea.
"Liminal spaces" refer to transitional or in-between spaces that are not easily defined or categorized. These are places where boundaries between different realms, states, or stages of being become blurred or permeable, creating a sense of ambiguity or uncertainty. Examples of liminal spaces include doorways, thresholds, bridges, crossroads, and shorelines, as well as certain times of day (such as dawn and dusk) or stages of life (such as adolescence).
This abandoned temple is somewhat like El Castillo, Chichen Itza. At least, that's what I've modeled the cover image after. I have come to discover that pyramids are really very boring as dungeons. They don't have many, if any rooms. El Castillo challenges my understanding of the pyramid dungeon as it was built on top of other structures. It does have interior spaces that have nothing to do with being a pyramid or temple. These would be an example of a liminal space, crossing from one time period to another or one function to another.
Sunday, May 14, 2023
I have some more content queued up for POP-001, but I have to get some bugs out of my system. I did a review of Star Frontiers with the intention of returning to review the expansion set Knight Hawks. It's been 2.5 years, so I should do it now.Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks Boardgame, The Campaign Expansion, and Warriors of Light Module
Designer: Douglas Niles
Pages: Boardgame book, 20 pages. Expanded book, 64 pages. SF0, 32 pages.
Number of players: 2+
Star Frontiers is a classic science fiction role-playing game that was first introduced in 1982. One of the most exciting aspects of the game is the Knight Hawks expansion, which focuses on ship-to-ship battles. This expansion provides players with an opportunity to engage in space combat, which is a crucial element of the science fiction genre. This set was a boxed set like Alpha Dawn and even follows the exact same book and page count as the original.
The key features of the Knight Hawks expansion are the ship-to-ship combat and ship design system. Players have the ability to design their own spacecraft from scratch, giving them the freedom to create vessels that suit their playstyle. The ship design system is complex but rewarding, allowing players to customize every aspect of their ship, from its weapons and defenses to speed and maneuverability. Plus every part of the customized starship simply works with the ship-to-ship combat system right out of the box.
The combat phase is where the action really heats up. Players can choose from a variety of weapons, such as lasers, missiles, and torpedoes, to attack their opponents. Each weapon has its own unique characteristics, such as range, damage, and accuracy.
The game uses what I call a Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry system of weapons and defenses. There are missiles, lasers, proton beams, and electron beams. I seem to recall neutron beams, but I think stole that from Starfire, another excellent game from the time period. Specific attacks are modified or negated by specific defenses which creates a wild dynamic where ships might have the WRONG type of firepower. As confusing as the terms are, there are only three or four so you can roll with it pretty easily.
There is a damage control phase, where players can repair any damage their ship has sustained during combat. This phase is vital, as a damaged ship is less effective in combat and can be destroyed more easily. Players can repair damage to their ship's hull, engines, weapons, and defenses, but doing so requires time and rolls against the DRC rating of the ship. It is far less complex than StarFleet Battles and can be adapted to be more Traveller-like by ignoring the DRC for some aspects and allowing characters to use their new starship skills to get stuff done. I wouldn't suggest making every repair a character skill roll, but the nugget of the idea is there.
I play StarFleet Battles, so I can't call this set complex or deep, but it has Basic and Advanced rules can get new players going with minimal fuss. Was I to stop the review here, the boardgame rules are stand-alone and would get 5 of five stars.
You'll notice that I gave this set 3 stars. That is because the integration with Alpha Dawn sucks. In Alpha Dawn, we left the characters with 3 PSAs with a max of 6 ranks. Knight Hawks throws in 4 more Star Ship Skills which are not PSA, but dependent on PSA. And require them to be nearly maxed out.
On day one of purchasing the box set, you are months away from having your old characters gain the necessary skills to use this set. That's garbage. What does firing a gyrojet weapon at a tank have to do with lobbing a giga-ton nuke at a ship in orbit? Driving a car is related to jumping a spaceship? No. That shouldn't be a thing.
I could explain the way I handle this hitch, but instead, I will ding this set 3 stars and allow you to engage with your players as you see fit. I WILL give this set one additional star for adding more vehicles and space combat into the mix while resolving the chronic "First World Star Frontiers Problem".
What I call the First World Star Frontiers Problem is a lack of creativity in the creation of modules. It is really a problem of having too many options or possibilities available in the rules and settings hampering an author's ability to create an engaging scenario. Virtually all of the modules lay out a scenario, then strip the players of some or all of their weapons and kit. That is a systemic railroad if I ever saw one.
Don't do that to your players, do anything else.
Knight Hawks actually fixes this problem as even lifeboats have guns and ammo, tools are weapons and the ship is a flying storehouse. Giving the characters a massive starship basically means if they lose their gear, they go back to the ship and gun the f--- up, and come back with a vengeance. This is a better playing experience than losing it all and coming back from nothing. Half of the game is shopping for kit or designing spaceships. Why bother striping gear for every pre-packaged adventure?
In conclusion, Star Frontiers Knight Hawks is an adequate expansion that adds a new dimension to the already good Star Frontiers RPG. The ship-to-ship battles are engaging and challenging, requiring players to think strategically and use their resources wisely. While the system may be overwhelming at first, the rewards are well worth the effort. If you're a fan of science fiction and role-playing games both halves of this system are for you.
You can pick up a copy on DriveThruRPG either in PDF or Print. Either is very nice and the two boxed sets are combined together, so it's just one purchase. Personally, I would buy the combo PDF and Print set so you can print off as many of the map pieces and counters as you like. Star Frontiers has really nice counters and starship deckplans.
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Wednesday, May 3, 2023
The Temple was a beacon of solidarity for the people, but it also proved to be a beacon for raiders. The pirates devastated the village proper, taking valuables and prisoners. The raiders returned seasonally to plunder the people. For a time, the villagers disbursed to escape the onslaught.
In a few months, the tribe had relocated under the Temple. By concealing the upper openings with floor tiles, the villagers were able to exact revenge when the raiders breached the Temple. The surviving pirates completed the turnabout with tales of a diamond-encrusted temple protected by spirits of the earth.
The children discovered the leader of instability in the rock. Future generations will tell the story of a fortress of diamonds beneath the crystal blue waters of a cenote. The stone age villagers speak in hushed tones about the mighty Sea Mage sinking the fortress in anger for the king's refused tribute payments. Adventurers may find tablets of stone that tell of the powerful shaman who levitated the entirety of the Temple to allow her people time to escape the collapse into the waters below.
This series of maps are based on a mix of real-world places and cultures, Grime's Graves, Ancestral Puebloans and people of Teotihuacan in particular.
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
A lot more and less than what I need. First, let me do a shout-out to Evlyn Moreau over on Dice.Camp. You can also find her on:
She sent me a collection of jungle-theme images, which will go in POP-001. So I'd better get this thing done.
One item that stands out in this work is that I must devise a pantheon of gods. Typically, I don't do whole pantheons of gods in my campaigns. I let the players tell me about what gods they know.
It's easier that way. The alternative is: "Hey... can you fit your character in this tiny box you can see? Perfect!"
When roughing out a campaign, I will typically have the barest minimum of divine beings. I'll have one God of Light, one of Dark, one in between, and one alternative choice that doesn't fit within these three groups. The last category is for the first NPC cleric or druid the characters encounter and it is a hint that the players can be creative in what they believe.
When I have a city where a large number of different people reside, there is a Temple Row. I keep the gods non-descript unless someone asks me about them. Invariably, the players will come up with a god that won't fit any of my description and I will have to wing it.
I personally love this trick.
As the players search the Temple Row, they will not find a temple to their god but they will have a feeling that they are in the presence of something powerful and familiar. If they continue searching, they will find a place that feels right. An NPC will mention this is "the place of the lost ones" and if the character makes an offering or prayer in this space, they will find a path to their God's temple. For a while, they will be able to interact on a personal level with this space, describing it to me. When they have given me a good idea of what it is like, I let them leave. As they exit, that temple, their temple bends and warps reality until it becomes real. Even if the row, the road, the city, or even the world itself has to get bigger to accommodate it.
Players often find this experience wonderful.
|An AI rendering of a Moon Goddess|
Revenants of the Lost Temple must be different than what I am used to doing. I lead with "its a temple". It must follow that I must have gods here. These creatures will be cameo actors to be sure as the module is created for first to third-level characters. I need them to be unique avatars for a whole culture that vanished.
I have selected a couple of ideas for them to embody. A goddess of the sea, a god of the land, a goddess of the Moon, and a god of the Earth. That sounds like a good AI photo prompt.
It's pretty... pretty much not what I wanted. As I flesh these beings out, I will post updates over on my Ko-Fi page. Why don't you follow me there?