Showing posts with label Sci-Fi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sci-Fi. Show all posts

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Minigame Tryout Compartments

This game is designed to be as simple as possible. There are limited number of systems and compartments on each ship. 

In the last post, I mentioned 6 different hit "locations" for criticals. Each type of ship has a list of six hit locations, all of which are different.  

You will notice that some ships are compromised by different types of criticals while others are not. A commercial ship doesn't have the same abilities as warships or auxiliaries, so they cannot lose these systems. Warships are hardened against many attacks, so they cannot lose particular abilities. 

A commercial vessel has the following critical hit locations: 

  1. Life Support,
  2. Communications, 
  3. Hyperdrive, 
  4. Sublight Drive, 
  5. Compartment breech,
  6. and Cargo Hold.  
The Auxiliary ship has a different list: 

  1. Life Support,
  2. Communications, 
  3. Hyperdrive, 
  4. Sublight Drive, 
  5. Compartment breech,
  6. and ECM. 
The Military Ship has the following: 
  1. Communications, 
  2. Hyperdrive, 
  3. Sublight Drive, 
  4. Auxiliary Drive,
  5. Compartment breech,
  6. ECCM. 
What effect do each of these things have on a ship? 

Life Support keeps the crew alive. If it is damaged, it must be repaired at the end of combat. If it isn't the ship must be abandoned at the end of combat. 

Communications are the ship's radio and other systems. If the ship loses it, it may not surrender, coordinate attacks with other ships, combine fire (and die rolls) of two or more weapons. It's not really critical, but more of a nuisance if it is damaged or destroyed. 

Hyperdrive, Sublight Drives and Auxiliary Drives are pretty explanatory. Without Sublight drives, you can't manuouver. Without a Hyperdrive, you can't flee combat. An Auxillary Drive is a backup system for both sublight or hyperdrives. It can either maneuver a ship or allow you to escape battle via a jump. Once the choice is made, the other is ceases to be an option. 

ECM is Electronic Counter Measures. It screws with an enemy's targeting of your ship. Losing it reduces the effectiveness of you defensive systems. If an Auxiliary loses this equipment, they are hit has often as a commercial ship would be, except criticals remain the same. Commercial ships don't have ECM, so can't lose it and it is deeply buried in a warship, it can't be lost. 

ECCM is Electronic Counter-Counter Measures or the ability to fine target another ship. Warships have them as an extra part in their design. Losing it reduces your effectiveness in combat. ECCM covers an array of combat situations. For example, ECCM allows a ship to target multiple ships with one weapon. Neither Auxiliaries or Commercial ships can have ECCM as a standard part. There are a few exceptions. 

Compartment breech and Hold hits damage specific areas on the ship. For the commercial ship, it represents a large area that is easy to hit on a Commercial ship. It appears twice on the critical tables, once at the top level and second time on the compartment table. Other types of ships have holds, they are relatively small and don't appear on the critical table until specific compartments are hit. 

If Compartment breech is rolled, you have lost the use of one item on your ship and any crewmen in that area are killed either by the impact or being spaced. They can be replaced from other sections of the ship. Some items can take more than one hit. 

Here are a list of all possible compartments, not every ship will have every type of compartment: 
  1. Bridge, 
  2. Shield Generator.
  3. Emergency Station. 
  4. Turrets
  5. Weapons Bay, 
  6. Engineering, 
  7. Cargo Hold, 
  8. Shuttle or Fighter Bay/Hanger, 
  9. Magazine, 
  10. Armory,
  11. Medical, 
  12. Vehicle Bay, 
  13. Vault, 
  14. Barracks
  15. Medical
  16. Quarters.  
Once a compartment is destroyed, the next item on this list is hit in subsequent rolls. The bridge is always item 1, shield generator and emergency station is always 2 and 3. Barracks, medical and crew quarters are always last. 

Players arrange their critical list as they see fit, using the rules above. Commercial ships and Auxiliaries are at a disadvantage as they typically don't have all 16 items available to them. 

An example layout of a ship could be: 
  1. Bridge,
  2. Weapons Bay, 
  3. Engineering, 
  4. Cargo Hold, 
  5. Shuttle Bay,
  6. Vehicle Bay,
    Vault,
    Medical
    Quarters.  
The first six items are subject to hits all the time, while the items with no numbers cannot be hit until something is crossed off the list. If the ship lost engineering, the vault would replace it on the list. After vault is destroyed, medical is next. If the fighting was intense, the ship could be destroyed before anything else moves up the list. In any case, quarters would be the last compartment destroyed.  

Some items that can take more than one hit are as follows: 
  1. Turrets,
  2. Weapons Bay, 
  3. Cargo Hold, 
  4. Shuttle or Fighter Bay/Hanger, 
  5. Magazine, 
  6. Armory,
  7. Vehicle Bay, 
  8. Vault. 
The weapons bay and turrets can take up to three hits each and hits may be distributed at the captain sees fit. The first hit degrades the weapon or turret dropping it a tech level. The second hit knocks it out and third blows it off the ship. A vault can take three hits. The first two damage it and the third destroys it and its contents. 

The magazine and armory can take two hits each, but are non-functional after the first and blown away on the second. The armory stores weapons for ground combat, it has no meaning in a fight unless boarding occurs. The magazine feeds some weapons. When it is damaged, those weapons can only shoot with the ammo they have at the ready. For commercial ships, this one one more shot, for auxiliaries it's two and for military ships it is three. 

The hanger or vehicle bays can take one hit for the space and one additional hit for each vehicle stored there. Once hit, they may not launch shuttles or deploy vehicles until repaired. 

In each of these cases, the ability to be hit multiple times does not increase the number of hits a ship can take. If a commercial ship takes 5 and 5 criticals, it is destroyed. Usually. 

Cargo holds are an exception to the rule. A unit of cargo destroyed DOES absorb a hit above and beyond what a ship can take. The last hit guts the cargo bay. A commercial ship with 10 units cargo could absorb 10 additional hits to the cargo bay on top of the 10 needed to destroy the ship. Hangers and shuttles do not have this property as the items stored there tend to explode, burn or become heavy projectiles when hit. 

I haven't explained what every item is for, which will be the next post and subsequent posts will cover fighters, shuttles, boats and combat modifiers. 

Minigame Tryout


There is something liberating about a blank piece of paper. I have better tools, but paper and pencil is the best for ideation. After looking long and hard at Star Smuggler, I decided to create a mini-game based off of it. This is probably very derivative of many sci-fi games. 

Combat rules are simple. Roll one six sided die for each tech level of your guns. If multiple guns are available, they are either fired singly or grouped together. This will impact the number of critical hits you can do. If the opposing ship is a commercial vessel, you hit on a 1-3. If the opposing ship is an auxiliary ship you need a 1 or 2. If the opposing ship is a military vessel, only a one hits.

A Commercial ship is anything that is not designed by the military. A critical will be scored on two 1's or two 2's sequentially. Two criticals will be score on sequential rolls a 1 and a 2. These must be sequential rolls. For example a roll of 1, 1, 2, 3, is just one critical and four hits, while a roll of 1, 2, 1, 2 is four hits and four criticals. 

An Auxillary is a commercial ship designed with military tech and refits in mind. It is not a war vessel, but has some defenses. It is hit on a score of 1 or 2. A critical will be scored on two 1's, sequentially. Two criticals will be score on sequential rolls 1 and a 2. For example a roll of 1, 1, 2, 3, is just one critical and three hits, while a roll of 1, 2, 1, 2 is four hits and four criticals. 

A warship or military ship is designed specifically for combat. A critical will be scored on a sequential rolls of 1 and 1. Military ships do not take double criticals. For example a roll of 1, 1, 2, 3, is just one critical and two hits while a roll of 1, 2, 1, 2 is only two hits and no criticals.

A ship can take a number of hits depending on type not size. A commercial ship can take 10 hits, a Auxiliary can take 15 and a warship can take 20. Warships are designed to shed fire. 

Critical hits score a point of damage and damage a specific part of the ship. Critical hits are scored against certain parts of the ship: Life Support, Communications, Engines, Warp Drives, Shields and specific compartments. While each of the first 5 can be damaged only once, specific compartments can be hit multiple times. Think of it as trying to destroy a garbage can with a sledgehammer. It just keeps taking ugly hit after hit. Enough hits and it stops being a garbage can or in this case, a ship.  

Next post, compartments, shuttles and fighters plus roll modifiers. 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Right Name, Wrong Game

I've written hundreds of posts about Star Smuggler. One thing I glossed over is the combat system for spaceships. I was hoping that you, the reader would download it and try it for yourself. It really is an ingenious system. 

And not entirely appropriate for this game. As the title of the posts says, right name, wrong game. There is a flaw in this system which could be a typo or perhaps something intentional. 

I have mentioned several times that this game seems to have some aspects of Traveller, a very simplified version of Traveller. In some respects that is true. The plots, the technology types, even the Antelope starship itself. But that is where the similarities end. 

In studying this game, I have come to the conclusion that it might have been a stand alone game used by the author for a science fiction setting. Some sort of super campaign. 

One of the hints at this possibility is the combat system. It is really designed well for ship to ship combat where smuggling and piracy are critical.   

The game system has tech levels, from 1 to 6. For spaceship combat, you are able to roll one die for each tech level of the ship's guns. For tech level 6, you can roll a maximum of six dice. 

Roll a 1 or 2 and you have hit. 
Simple, eh? 

Well, yes. There there are the other modifiers and statistics that come into play. If you are shooting at a stationary target, you can roll up to 7 dice. Theoretically, that should allow you to hit at least twice, maybe three times. 

The vast majority of ships in the game absorb 10 hits of damage. With the stock Antelope with the tech level 1 guns, you need to go through 10 lucky combat rounds to destroy another ship. 

However with upgraded guns the modifiers come into play. If you roll two 1's or two 2's, you do a critical plus one hit for each pair 1's or 2's. A critical will damage the radios, the engines, shields, life support, ECM or breech a compartment killing everyone inside. There are six compartment areas. 

On a roll of a 1 and 2, you do two criticals plus hits. 
This random roll of seven dice from Random.org shows the problem. 

This is three hits tech level 6 guns against a stationary ship. But how many criticals? I don't know, which is why I suspect there is a flaw in the rules. 

My personal interpretation is that it is 3 hits plus 2 criticals. The first one and two are combined for the first two hits and the first two criticals. Then the second two is the next hit. If the order had been different, this would have been one critical and three hits. 

There is a third possibility. Perhaps the author intended the player to roll one die at a time so they get a sequence of numbers that can be evaluated in order. 

The upshot of this is, if you rolled a just the first 3 dice, that would be two hits and two criticals. Now when combined with the critical table, a ship can experience hull breaches which kill the crew and disable that area. 

This particular sequence of rolls, 3, 2, 1, 6, 6, 2 would result in 2 criticals, two hits and breach of the cargo hold and destroy the ECM system, if any. 

Repeat that a couple of times and you are on your way to disabling a ship. In the next sequence, I rolled 1, 3, 1, which is another two hits and critical. The critical took out the engines, which gives my next roll an extra die. 
Two more criticals. One took out life support and the other took out the crew quarters. The enemy can still shoot back, but they can't move and can only take two more hits. Anyone not in a suit is dead. 

It sounds like boarding time to me.

The problem with this is scenario is, this can give the player the opportunity to board and take a ship by wiping out the whole crew. That cannot be intentional, at least for Star Smuggler. Having two ships is very game breaking as I have proved a couple of times. 

The author seemed to realize this. Anytime there is a programed space combat event, the enemy ship will surrender at 8 hits and two to go. They rig the ship to explode if you try to take it. So you can plunder but not capture. However, there are random combat events that don't have this rule in play.  

As a homebrewed game about pirates and smugglers, it rocks! 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

USN Cetus and Chesterton Transport

USN Cetus
I have this horrible cough which is preventing me from working in ink. I have managed to cobble together final designs for USN Cestus and the Chesterton Transport ship in Inkscape.

Yesterday, I posted a lot about the Chesterton Transport Ship, so today I will lead with the USN Cetus.

The Cetus has four decks, like the transport, but their arrangements are wildly different.

Deck 1 is dedicated to sensors and a pair of anti-missile turrets.

Deck 2 is the shuttle operation and missile deck. It serves as the main point of ingress and egress for the crew. Often, the missiles are replaced with shuttles. Theoretically, the ship has a secondary capacity for missiles on the lower deck. Because this is a government operation, the ship often has no missiles in either location. Shuttles and drones are cheaper.

There are 4 common ships carried here. The Cetus can carry 3 manned Centaur or 4 unmanned Zombie fighters. Typically, doesn't carry anything so advanced. It is normally equipped with a pair of ABLE recon drones and a Fastback shuttle. The ABLE drone is a wonderful sensor package, but the Fastback shuttle is perversely named vehicle. It's roomy, but profoundly slow. It has two massive doors on either side like a conversion van. It carries 12 passengers or very small cargo loads.

As mentioned before, next deck holds the crew quarters slung between the fuel pods and engine mounts. The Equipment Locker holds many cargo/weapons tractors and fire fighting equipment. Two more Phalanxes are mounted on the leading edge of the ship, which makes this Frigate a wonderful carrier escort. The heavy weapons spaces are designed to carry continent busting nukes, but this configuration is rarely loaded out. The "heavy weapons" are often a pallet of 2 lasers and a single railgun, port and starboard. Sometimes, the Cetus class carries just one of these pallets with the other space being given over to either special sensors or rarely, extra space for the crew. Typically, the officers will sleep in this space, if given a chance.

The lowest deck has the main airlock, which is identical to the Chesterton's hatch. It has very little purpose on the Frigate variant. The Consumable Hold is jam packed with food. The Cargo Bay carries an unusual mix of rescue pallets and maintenance materials. There is a running gag that one Cetus can build a second Cetus from the stuff jammed in the holds.

The Chesterton Transport
Ok, back to the Chesterton. This ship features a science package on Deck 1. This deck is called the Nerd Nest as the science packages are not determined by the ship's owner. The sensors and experiments are specified in the Decadal Survey, which is the result of suggestions by the greater science community. The crew has a manual for maintenance, but only the nerdiest crewmen and women understand the equipment placed here.

Shuttle Operations is two lies for one. Most Chesterton owners cannot afford shuttles for their ships and unlike the Cetus, this space is poorly arranged for commercial shuttles. Usually each Chesterton has a hanger queen, which is only used to test to the inadequate facilities. More often than not, this area is used for recreation. The shuttle refueling lines are bled dry to prevent accidents when used for crew activities.

The third deck is well appointed with crew space to the fore and a large central Engineering space. Having Engineering in the center of the ship supports improved crew and ship safety. In an odd quirk, the bridge is arranged just like the CIC on a Cetus. This was in case of a wartime refit. This only occurred twice in the history of the program and the CIC was the only part of the ship requiring large modifications. The bridge of the Chesterton is far more roomy than the CIC of the Cetus as it has far fewer fittings for crew consoles. The "small holds" are actually larger than crew quarters and have adjustable atmospheric controls.

Deck four carries the lion's share of cargo. Strangely, it has small tractors, trams and locomotives to transport cargo from one ship to other via the main hatch. Unlike the Cetus, the main hatch is used as the main entry point for the crew.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The USN Chesterton, Growler and Variants

I'm not feeling so hot tonight. I have a cough and cold, so I can't do detail work. I figured I will just do the write up on this ship. This is middle and largest deck of 5 levels. 

The USN Chesterton was peace-time design for a frigate. The ship featured a large central engineering bay with the bridge just fore of it. Along the front rim of the disc, a variety of weapons were mounted. In the aft area were the crew quarters along with the main elevators. The engines were mounted at an angle, which gave the ship incredible maneuverability at the cost of top speed. 

Since this was a peace-time design, the frigate never made it off the drawing board. Instead, it was re-purposed into heavy tug and transport vessel. 


This configuration necessitated switching the crew quarters away from between the engines to the forward section of the ship where the weapons would have been in the name of safety. It was felt that damage to the engines could too easily breach the hull and kill the crew. USN crews fight suited, so this was not a concern for a frigate. 

When the war started, the Chesterton dry dock facility was already tooled up for transport production and switching to frigate production was easy. Since there were a great many Chesterton tugs and transports already plying the spaceways, this variant was given the name of "Growler" to set it apart. Before the first ship was released from the dock, the class name was changed again to "Cestus".

Because the Chesterton was a proven design, the Cestus/Growler configuration was only minimally tested. The placement of the tightly packed crew quarters in the rear of the ship was never studied. The crews soon found that the engines caused vibrations in the crew spaces. Unofficially, the crews reverted to the "Growler" designation as commentary on the ship's qualities. While not a fatal flaw, the ship was strongly disliked by their crews.

The first and last ship of the Cestus class do not have these problems as they were built to the specifications of the Chesterton for special missions such as mine warfare and electronic intelligence collection.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Dervish and Sword and Flame

The USN Thresher
Prototype
I am try to get the hang of Inkscape. It's going pretty well. I have made improvements to the Sword and the Flame (Thresher) class ship deck plans.

I have even created a variant of it called the Dervish. You can read the write up on the Thresher ship here.

The Dervish is still a work in progress and is far less bleeding edge than the first ship. You can tell that they were built on the same hull, but their operations are completely different. Owning to the fact that the Dervish does not have a unique and experimental engine, the hull is completely smooth.

The USN Dervish Class
The Dervish is a platform designed for modification. It was first designed for engine research followed by a search and rescue ship. Other varients are a scout ship, a science/explorer ship or a gun boat. The ship's interior is a wasp shaped affair with fore and aft open spaces for research. The belt of the ship provides 8 bunk rooms for the crew. As a military ship, this is luxurious.

8 domes are suitable for sensors, science experiments or in the case of the gun boat, weapons. There will be a lower deck, but is sparse on amenities. These are more like semi-optional palettes on an F-15, they contain consumables, with little space for moving around. Unlike the Thresher, the Dervish has no turret.

The search and rescue variant has airlocks on the aft domes and auxiliary thrusters on the fore domes. The test model mounts engines in the fore and aft compartments, which vent out the domes. For testing, instrumentation is mounted on the exterior.

I haven't designed the engines for the Dervish yet, but they will be powerful for a ship of it's size. They will extend the lenth of the ship by about 1/3.




Saturday, February 15, 2020

Starship Design - Centaur Transport

The Centaur Transport is a very successful design, for a warship. It is a mediocre transport. The central hull of the ship is of fixed design with 2 mass drivers as propellant. The wing pods are interchangeable cargo spaces. In this image, the right is plumbed for liquids while the right carries 20 missiles in VLS tubes and 12 nose mounted drones.

The ship is a tumbling pigeon design, meaning gravity is generated by having the ship flip end over end along it's flight path. All work is done in the back end of the ship, in front of the spherical weapons room. Typically, the crew only spins up the ship when they are coasting for long periods of time.

While this depiction shows missiles and drones, this is actually the least commonly used loaded out. The ship's mass drivers make a very effective weapon.

When used as a transport instead of a gunship, it uses aerobraking to slow down to orbital speeds before using small thrusters to match orbits. It is a very ungainly design for a transport.

As a gunship it simple barrels in on it's target, VIFFing (Vectoring in Forward Flight) to dodge fire while using the mass drivers to bombard the enemy as it slows down.

The USN Thresher AKA Between the Sword and the Flame

In my last post, Duke Springer and the crew of the Antelope battled a Talitarian scout ship. Quite possibly, this ship is my favorite ship ever.

Rather than doing a mod of it, I have redesigned the ship from the ground up and designed a deckplan and backstory for this version.


The United Space Navy's Thresher Scoutship utilizes bleeding edge technology which is not available except for a few prototype ships. The ship is tiny. After the size, the next notable feature is it's engines.

Interior, with engines off done in Inkscape.
The engines have four nodes which manipulate space-time in some rather horrifying ways. The engine requires that the ship be sealed from the outside while the interior can have NO closed spaces. To meet this requirement, the hull was grown from a single seed of metal. The walls look organic and flowing. The engine is called "the Flame" by the crew as it throws off a flickering light throughout the interior of the ship. Anecdotally, it is reported that any one who enters the engine area while the ship is in motion is erased from the entire space-time continuum as if they never existed.

In the center of the ship is a single turret and four staterooms. While these spaces have doors, they are not sealed to be airtight. The "turret" is a standard crewspace for the gunner which can move like a regular ball turret, but the gun mount on the exterior of the ship is actually a tiny remote piloted vehicle which flies in formation with the ship at all times, as if it was attached to the vessel.

On the starboard side of the ship is a second weapon, called "the Sword". It is a gravometric weapon which will kill any humans in the target area. It can strike inside an enemy ship without passing through the intervening space or shields and armor. "The Sword" theoretically has unlimited range, but the crew must have details of the target point, which means it is limited to sensor range.

It's a surgical weapon, but is subject to considerable quantum uncertainty when fired. It often fires with no measurable results. "The Sword" has one other side effect. It will kill any crew inside the Thresher in front of the barrel. For this reason it is fired with a delayed trigger so the crew can take refuge in the turret area or staterooms.

A final quirk to this weapon is it will not operate unless it is mostly sealed away from the rest of the ship. It does have a connection to the engines. The area which looks like a hatch is welded closed before take off and cannot be serviced in flight.

The engines also have a similar disconcerting quirk. They must be operated from behind. A crew of three engineers are stationed in the back compartment and cannot leave this area while the ship is in operation. The engines require exactly 688.5 kg of mass to be located in this space and three living people. No one knows why.

This is just enough room for food, water and air for three days, plus 3 people and 3 space suits. Typically these crewmen stay suited for the duration of the flight as it makes weigh distribution static.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Sketching With a Heavy Hand Tonight

I'm doing a series of sketches based on my game play of Star Smuggler. Click the link to read the review and download a copy. 

I am sick of the vector art right now. My hand has gotten heavy from a lack of practice plus I am using a mechanical pencil which requires a very light touch. This is probably not helped by the fact that I have been using a Wacom Bamboo for a few days in a row.

Many of these characters are based on what I have seen the TV show Rebels on Disney+, plus a bit of Robotech and reality thrown in. This woman is what I think Emily, the Pilot/Navigator of the Antelope looks like.

Her uniform is sort of based off of a British Submariner's fire fighting kit, mixed with a police officer's bullet proof vest. 

As a pilot/navigator, she doesn't often carry a weapon, therefore doesn't have any holsters. By the Star Smuggler rules, there is barely enough room for her and one other person in the cockpit, therefore she very little in the way of gear that might hang up on something. This is inline with real world tankers.

This guy on the right is also a pilot. He is wearing the minimum amount of kit for flying in space. He is wearing a dress uniform which does have the capacity to accept a helmet on the neck ring, but while one duty, he would be completely suited up in a space suit. He holds his glasses in his left hand. His helmet does have a prescription visor and a HUD, but in his dress uniform, the helmet is mostly for show.

He has a logo on his chest for his unit. The armor like piece on his chest is merely a high-tech unit sash for easy identification, plus it pulls his neckring down tight. Notice that he is fully gloved like Emily above. Unlike Maverick and Han Solo, pilots don't like freeze or fry their hands off while flying.

I will likely add some sort of ceremonial pauldron to one or both shoulders. This guy's outfit is for show, so he'll need to be reworked in mission ready suit.

Deadeye on the right is dressed for combat. He carries a heavy side arm, with some sort of explosive rounds. Unlike the two characters above, he is mission ready.

The cap that he wears over his helmet is cloth, meant to deaden the sound of his gun should his high-tech "ears" fail him. He has heavy body armor plainly visible, but also wears a bulky fabric vest for storage on top of it.

The backpack contains a very limited amount of air and re-breathing apparatus, an evaporative cooling unit and a small short range radio like the Apollo astronauts.

Unlike an astronaut, he has only limited capabilities in a vacuum. This armor is mean for planets with low atmospheric pressure or extremely polluted air. The fabric portions of his suit would probably be a hindrance in a vacuum. Exiting an airlock would probably cause frost to form and perhaps particles of ice to drift around him in a cloud. His undergarment is skin tight to prevent it from balloon in low pressure.

The next person only has a nickname: "Delta Vee". This is my motorcycle's name. Yes, I named it. Like the motorcycle, her clothes are going to be black, teal and purple.

She has three different logos on her uniform. The larger of the two is based on Kingdom Hearts. When I redraw her, this heart area will be more padded or quilted keeping with the idea of softgoods. I think the center will be black, the striping purple and the rest of the outfit, teal.

Zoom in a bit closer, you can make out the second heart on her shoulder. Emily has a braid of some sort on her shoulder, while this woman has embroidery. Between her neck and chest is her knickname: δV or Delta V. This should be an upper case Delta, Δ, to match the Rocket Equation, but I like to soft lines of the lower case δ. I might use a more scripty V to match the δ.

She is probably a mercenary or pirate, with a military background. She carries a light side arm, with a sideways magazine owing to the fact that she is pilot. Should she be trapped behind or worse, in a downed fighter, her pistol needs to clear obstructions like Sten type gun. She is probably not the best shot with a pistol, so she carries a lot of ammo with an extended mag. She might not carry many magazines, but what she has is enough for a slow shooting pistol.

In this iteration, she has a cape. I am not sure if that will stay with her in subsequent drawings. Perhaps she wears in when traveling, but not in the cockpit.


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Science Fiction - 000 Armor

This evening I read Population of Loss and was struck by the character Signalman.

He is a sort of mystical entity in a steampunk world. That is epic.

The image to left is a rendition of suit of armor from a reoccurring dream I used to have in the mid-1990s. While I believe my dream was trying to represent a version of me inside a high tech suit, all of my recollections of it are colored by a demented sort of dream-logic, which can seem a bit mystical.

Being from a dream, the suit does not have a name, but for the purpose of this post, I will call it the 000 Armor.

There are three tanks on this armor. The two tanks on the back of the armor contain a substance which is much colder than absolute zero. It shouldn't make sense, but mathematically, that substance should be hotter than hell while the area around it is intensely cold. To regulate that power, the small tank on the front contains an anti-matter reactor. It doesn't provide power to the suit, it keeps the irrationally cold meta-material in check. That work provides the power to the suit, mostly as an afterthought. The wearer's eyes are closed because he is frozen. Only his brain is working at incredible speeds due the cryogenic coursing through him.   

Being frozen, moving fingers are impossible, so the hands are protected by a pair of cestus-like weapons. The wearer cannot "see" light, but the suit is pouring in data from all across the em-spectrum. Moving in a traditional sense isn't really possible. The suit shambles like a zombie when it has to, but it's main motive power is provided by the super cold, meta-material. The suit possesses a property of non-locality. It simply shifts from one place to another. It can't sit idle, it tends to shift from place to place like the disruption of circular waves on a pond by a second rock. Seemingly random, but not really.

The suit's energy needs are met by the differential of temperature between it and the environment and this is moderated by the anti-matter reactor. Its meant for space but on the surface of a planet, it is barely balanced for basic operations. There is an area of alternating bands of temperature which has tendency of destroying everything around it. Plus, the suit is dumping hard radiation into the environment. Most things which come into close proximity to the 000 Armor are vaporized and rain down as an ash-like material over a vast area.

The suit takes moments to put on, but requires an incredible amount of technology to remove. The process takes weeks and is often fatal. While it can handle air, it has great difficultly when contacting solids, vapors and most especially, liquids. Falling in a body of water can drain the entire suit in short order, killing the occupant.

Should the suit start to fail, the operator can open their eyes. Ominously, the 000 Armor's heads up display will show a series of recordings, usually by loved ones, urging the user to fight to stay alive. You would think that this messages would be a digital and wholly fictional creation, but they are not. The operator is required to attend the recordings, so they understand that they must fight or die in these circumstances. 

The suit is tasked with fighting large robotic entities. Picture a city bus standing on its tail and mounted on top of very large tank in place of the turret. These robots have all manor of lasers, grenades, machine guns and missiles, which can wreck a city block or aircraft carrier in moments. It has 2 dozen missiles which are very peculiar in operation. They lay flat inside the main body and are forced out the top of the robot, at any angle. Picture a vertical launch tube on a submarine that can project a missile in any direction from straight up to completely flat. The robot has a small dead zone around it where the missiles cannot strike. Perhaps 40 meters around. The secondary weapons guard this area.

These weapons are all ineffective against the mobility that the suit provides.

The robot entity contains and carries a massive swarm of locust-like drones, which are supposed to collect data and repair damage. They also provide the motive force for the missile launchers.

It turns out that simply ramming the 000 Armor with drones is more effective than any of the robot's  weapons. In the image, you can see that the armor has been knocked around a bit by the drone swarm. The main reason is the swam can cover an area larger than the suit's non-locality function.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Solar System files - Background Information on Unnamed Project

I think I have crossed over to the point where my unnamed project is going to need a name. Its writing itself.

The characters are colonists of the Epsilon Indi system. I collected some data on this solar system, and it does seem to be a real solar system with planets and stuff. Pretty interesting, but also complex.

As of right now, Epsilon Indi has 3 known objects in orbit. There are a pair of brown dwarfs at 1460 AU from the star and hints that a Jupiter-like planet orbits the star. The most recent data indicates this Jupiter Analog is between 8.5 and 16 or 17 AU from its host star.

Heaven help me if they discover more companions to this star, because I went and invented a bunch of my own.

This is a chart of my fictional system:

This chart obviously has no scale and is wildly different than the actual system. I decided that the colonists have named the planets after Roman gods, specifically from the list Di selecti by Varro. The brown dwarfs are named after Sabine gods, as Varro was of Sabine descent. This has created an in-universe problem where if the colonies wish to continue the practice, they must reuse some names of the Earth's Solar System. That would be confusing, so the naming process stopped at the seventh planet. 

The characters are bound for the eighth unnamed planet. Their ship's AI thinks that the humans are being dumb and cheekily names the eighth and ninth planets Urbian-Adams and Kawal, for astronomers responsible for discoveries in our Solar System. It wouldn't do to have an adventure around an unnamed planet. 

The system is full of tiny planets, only Iuno Regina, the Jupiter Analog and Urbian-Adams are bigger than Earth. The smaller bodies in grey are airless. The blue body is Terra Mater. It has a earth-like atmosphere, made up of CO2 and nitrogen. There is a small moon, Bacchus which has a very dense nitrogen based atmosphere at a higher pressure than Earth's. 

If you would like to use this template for your writing or your games, feel free to download the Google Drawing from my drive. Or in plain text, https://drive.google.com/open?id=1S-RyAjCq3LRwKvT0kv-GAH20mSdDRqzZWrersYf69S8 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Title: Crash on Volturnus
Code: SF-0
Author: Mark Acres, Tom Moldvay with Doug Niles
Rule Set: Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn
Year: 1982
Pages: 30
Number of characters: 4-8
Levels: 1
Rating: ★★★★★

Crash on Volturnus is one of my favorite modules. The player start of as passengers on the Sierra Dawn, where they first encounter trouble en route to Volturnus. After an epic battle and escape, players move on to phase two, an incredible hex crawl on the planet of Volturnus culminating in a final(?) battle with the pirate forces on the planet. Aided by the local inhabitants of the planet, surely the players will win the day.

This module was released with the Alpha Dawn rules set and to my knowledge, was not released independently of that set. I received my set of Alpha Dawn rules peice meal and ended up with two copies of the module. The whole boxed set includes giant maps and wonderful counters, which makes SF-0 a snap to play.

Crash on Volturnus is the first module in the series and was followed up by SF-1 and SF-2. The other SF series modules are unrelated, but are valuable as they are set up for characters to continue their adventures in new settings. The series was also brought back to life by the Endless Quest book Villains of Volturnus in 1983. It was published in relatively short time frame making the series rock solid in game play and feel.

Having played SF-0 several times, there are few game breakers built in to the scenario. First, when the escape pod crashes, the characters only have time to get the survival packs. Several of my players started out with standard equipment packs and used the coveralls as a makeshift backpack tied across their chests before seating themselves. Since the equipment was attached to them, I couldn't justify taking it. The players also started with 4 medical kits, which made them neigh unstoppable in combat. They kept pulling back to heal. Of course, these were the same players who tied their equipment to their chests. I kept running them against random encounters to try to eat up resources, but that was unfulfilling. Eventually, I figured I'd let them run in god-mode and kill everything and everyone. Many of the challenges they faced were thinking scenarios and not fighting scenarios, so it really didn't change the outcome. 

All and all, I found this one module to be the best of the best for Star Frontiers. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

The whole shebang is available over on DriveThruRPG.

Alpha Dawn with SF-0
SF-1 Volturnus, Planet of Mystery
and SF-2 Starspawn of Volturnus

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Robotech: Battlecry (2002) - The Unreview.

Thanks to the blizzard conditions, my son busted out a game that is older than he is: Robotech: Battlecry.

On our 50" TV, the image is a bit blurry but the game is still fun. I always liked this game because it didn't use the 'gon crunching graphics, instead going with the flat looking color pallet of the comic books and TV shows. The voice acting was excellent and the imagery memorable. The story nosedives into a pyrrhic victory, which is forgivable since the game did an admirable job of staying in canon.

The game featured a good story mode and the 1v1 battle mode on a variety of maps. Progress through story mode unlock various Veritechs and paint schemes for a (limited) customized feel.

The game's combat system seems glitch filled at first, but you are in a Veritech. Enemies will hover in your blind spots, behind you or dead ahead and under your nose. If you let them stay there, they will kill you. Enemy bosses are overpowered and you face them after wave upon wave of enemies, with you armor depleted. How can you survive?

Change and adapt. A Veritech is a fighter jet, a hovering vehicle and a flying robot. Jet mode is quick and has the most long range missiles and powerful guns. Gerwalk or Guardian mode can dodge left and right while flinging missiles and gunning down enemy missiles. And of course, the Battloid mode is a killer robot.

By shifting from one mode to another in rapid succession, you can capitalize on the advantages of one mode while actually in another. These tactics don't seem obvious until you play 1v1, which is a little crazy. Starting in fighter mode, you lob missiles, boost for speed and then deploy counter measures before switching to Guardian mode. In this mode, you can strafe, lob missiles and shoot incoming missiles with your gun before going to Battloid mode to hose enemies and missiles will automatic fire or precise sniper fire. You'd do all of that in less than 5 seconds, over and over again.


Oddly, there are no melee attacks.

No console game would be complete without a choice of cheats. Cheat mode can be entered by hold L1 and R1 and pressing left, up, down, X, right, triangle, followed by start. A keyboard appears to enter the codes.

One shot kills - BACKSTABBER
One shot kills in sniper mode- SNIPER
Quick weapon recharge - MIRIYA
Inverts controls - FLIPSIDE
GU-X ammo recharges faster - SPACEFOLD
Invinicibility - SUPERMECH
Missiles recharge faster MARSBASE
Turns off ALL cheat codes - CLEAR
Unlock all levels - WEWILLWIN
Unlock all Veritechs, Maps and Medals - WHERESMAX
Unlock all multiplayer levels - MULTIMAYHEM
Unlock new paint schemes - MISSMACROSS

These cheats are preserved though saves so be careful. Re-entering a cheat turns it off, which is less than obvious. CLEAR of course turns them all off, too. One thing to keep in mind is that the one shot kill codes can ruin your fun, especially in missions where you need to rescue or keep someone alive. One accident shot and they are dead.

The game contains many glitches, one of which is fun for the user. Completing a space mission with the Super Veritech allows the player to continue to use that loadout on missions which it would be precluded. The moment you save, that option is gone.

I would love to rate this game, but since it is my favorite despite all of it's warts. I won't. I'll just say I won by playing out my favorite children's show.

Do you have any favorite games that have been passed from one generation to next? Let me know over on Mewe or right here in the comments.

Monday, November 12, 2018

I Just Can't Stop...

I just can't stop.

While organizing my desk, I happened upon a book by Robert Pearce. It is an incredible set of ship plans for Traveller. Sure, it says "Traveller", but it could be used for any game system. The detail and scope is amazing. It is campaign fuel for sure.

 Why not take a look yourself.

I know I will be pouring over this book for days to come. For some odd reason, it isn't even for sale. It's free.

Damn. A mighty big thanks to you Mr. Pearce, you made my day.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Spaceship Study

Here are some draft ideas for a spaceship, perhaps a snub fighter. I will ink this one at some point but the design idea was fun verse realistic.

The initial design was rather slight.


A few details that I wanted to look at where the cockpit and shielding for the crew. The movable panels came from details of the drooping nose on the Concorde.


I decided to make the ship beefer. Those rounded rectangles are fuel tanks, not engines. Although parts are rounded, this ship is not aerodynamic. 


Each square is about a meter, so the ship stands 8 meters high. It is loaded out with 14 missiles, a centerline minigun and two large wing tip pods. There are 4 retractable radiators, the items with the 2x3 grids on them.


I hope to revisit this design again with ink, smoother lines and better proportions. This ship would be good in several rule sets like Traveller or Star Frontiers.