Showing posts with label Setting Unknown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Setting Unknown. Show all posts

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Setting Unknown - The Rules

The other day, I posted about "Setting Unknown". I want this to be a spiritual successor to games like Star Smuggler. Very light rules and can be played as solo endeavor or as a small group. 

Clicking the Star Smuggler link will get you to the review of the game, which at the time was termed as "a programmed adventure". It has over 300 different events stitched together in a series of Choose Your Own Adventure style connectors. Replayability is very high but at this point, it's been nearly 40 years for me. I think I have played this to death. 

Over on the MeWe Sandbox page, John Salway asks what the minimum amount of information and details you need to have a sandbox adventure. 

Personally, I would define a game as a set of rules that describes a challenge to be overcome by a set of known rules by an agent or player.  I offer that the minimum information and detail needed for a sandbox game is a description of the scenario, a game space, and a means of resolution.

Scenario=Knowning the rules
and Challenge=Game space

Let's use the drawing of my ship as a starting point. It is both rules and game space. It presents a surprising amount of information to the player. You are on a spaceship. Unless there is some new information, this game will not involve ghosts, dinosaurs, magic, swimming, cooking, etc. 

I should address the elephant in the room: Doctor Who. I love that show because it changes its default settings with every episode and book. It took 60 years and a host of really creative people. I am not that... so I won't go there. 

I have labeled a few things, engines, lasers, radiators, rail guns, and cargo spaces. 

I guess I should use all of those points to create the challenge and the rules. There are many rules already implied. The ship has engines, so it moves. It has weapons, so there is combat. It has a radiator, so there must be heat. Then comes the storage spaces, something must go there. If you can obtain things to store, then there must be some sort of economy. 

All of those things relate to the challenges met by the players. I haven't worked it all of that out, but I do have some hopes. I would like to have ALL of the rules fit on two sides of a sheet of paper. Every scenario should be on one side of a sheet of paper. 

How many sheets of paper is debatable. Setting Unknown is definitely one of those back-burner tasks, but enjoyable nonetheless. Especially as a reason to start drawing again. 

The Plug: I am now back on Facebook which is a big change. I am not using the whole "Link in the comments", so my only way to attract followers is word of mouth. You can also see me on Mastodon.Social and Dice.Camp in addition to MeWe. My last outlet, one that I am going to start working hard on this year is Ko-Fi

Monday, January 15, 2024

Setting Unknown - A Solo Endeavor

Right now, I am in the planning stages of a new Star Frontiers campaign. I do this to myself every year. I want to play a game exactly at the point where the NFL and NHL heats up. I can ignore hockey for a bit, but this SF Campaign is going nowhere until Feb 12, after the Super Bowl.

I decided to do other things, such as ship design and planets. I mention Typhon, the planet where the PC will start. I'm in the brainstorming mode for the planets, which is handwavium for "the back burner". The fact is, I don't plan on having the players hang out there for very long. 

Ships are another story. The players will have a pair of gigantic shuttles, Hull Size 2. This is just a tad smaller than an assault scout. The shuttle is barely able to make a jump, the primary issue is it's just too small for supplies. For this reason, the two shuttles are paired with Hull Size 5 Electronic Warfare destroyer. 

This variant of Destroyer makes sense in game terms, it would have been helpful in the War but now that the war is over, something has to be done with all of these extra ship hulls and engines. Without the electronic warfare gear, the hulls are basically free. As they have also been stripped of their major weapons, the sale of these ships to civilians is fine. The characters won't be civilians for the most part, but why give them an inordinate amount of guns? 

What makes these ships very special is their double engines. They have both Atomic drives and Ion drives. The same for the Kon-Tiki shuttles. Why? The Ion engines allow each Destroyer and Shuttle to mask themselves or others. That would have been great during the war, but in the hands of the players, allows a quick ship that doesn't need an engine rebuild every time they jump. I want them to feel like they are on their own, even when they aren't.  

Anyway, back to "Setting Unknown". 

I was thinking of playing Star Smuggler again. I have been playing too much Endless Sky and Escape Velocity, for a theoretical review of each. I have played all three games a zillion times. I want to go beyond rule mods and stuff, hence a new setting. One that is currently unknown. 

I stole some images from Endless Sky and Wikipedia. This ship is a combo of the
nose of the Arrow and the tail of the Hawk from Endless Sky. The shuttle is a headhunter.
The Dreamlifter is for scale.

The main protagonists have a 20-meter ship, or 400+ tonnes*. This is basically on the order of the 747 Dreamliner. Like the characters for my SF campaign, they have a smaller shuttle. The Dreamlifter can carry about as much as its empty weight. (From reading Wikipedia. YMMV.) As you can see, the shuttle won't carry a lot, maybe 20 tonnes. 

(*The future might be metric.) 

I figure in the future, we can do better within limits. I will assume that the ship weighs 100 tonnes and can carry 300 tonnes of stuff. If you are empty, you can go faster. If you are loaded to the maximum weight, you move normally. If you are overloaded, you can't make an FTL jump. All extra equipment beyond what a spaceship comes with is subtracted from cargo space. 

The standard crew for a spaceship is the 5 man band - Pilot, Co-pilot, Navigator, Engineer, and Payload Specialist. If you have weapons, the pilot can fire forward cannons and missiles, and the Co-pilot and payload specialists handle everything else. To move, you must have at least a Pilot. 

FTL in this Setting Unknown is teleportation like Battlestar Galactica. Rule one, it takes a day to pump power into the capacitors to make that jump. Rule two, you can have a lot of extra capacitors. Generally, ships are ready to jump at all times, assuming they aren't doing anything special beforehand because they have more than one capacitor. 

Jumping into a system is generally not dangerous as long as you don't jump to a busy point. Jumping to the surface of a planet is bad because you will likely miss your target by a couple of meters in a random direction. BOOM! 

Jumping FROM the surface of a planet is easy as long as your target is empty space, except the authorities will hunt you down for causing a calamity on populated worlds. 

Bad, but fun.

I have no idea how combat, movement, economics, or anything else will work but I have some ideas I'll share in the coming posts. 

I don't know what to call this class of ship. Help me out in the comments below. 

I am now back on Facebook which is a big change. I am not using the whole "Link in the comments", so my only way to attract followers is word of mouth. You can also see me on Mastodon.Social and Dice.Camp in addition to MeWe. My last outlet, one that I am going to start working hard on this year is Ko-Fi