e198 Disgruntaled Colonists.
|How I imagine an empty hold looks like on the|
|How I imagine an empty hold looks like on the|
To be honest, I don't like hosting files myself, so I gave it a shot. There seems to be a turnaround process, so they aren't there yet. So, here is the link to a zip file. (Edit- I hate hosting my own files as I can't tell how many are downloaded from Google Drive.)
The original tiles had a strange quirk. They were labeled A-J with Asteroids. To create planets, you needed to match up two tiles. Invariably, one of those tiles needed to be upside down. In studying them, there was no permutation where you could have left and right tiles labeled A-J without having several flipped. You'd need a left-hand set and a right-hand set.
I flipped each tile so that you don't have to have one upside down. This required relabeling all of the text so you didn't have one tile printed in the reverse.
The process was super annoying, but I got it done.
Just a reminder, I only have permission to post a link to these files. That is the extent of my ownership. Please download for personal use only and do not redistribute. I've been waiting a long time for this, please don't make me take it down.
You can pick up a set of rules for play at Dwarfstar Brainiac. The set will allow you to print and play this game, which is very nice of the authors. Due to the collapse of the company, Dennis Sustare never got paid for this one but still allows Dwarfstar to host the files.
All characters have 3 stats: Marksmanship, Hand to Hand, and Endurance. The main character Duke, your avatar has one additional statistic, Cunning generated by a 1d6.
Hand to Hand: 6
Cunning: 1d6 (2 in this iteration).
I invented Emily as a Duke analog, with a different loadout. She can use all of the same weapons and equipment as Duke, but can also drive land vehicles. She does not come with a starship, hopper, or anything else Duke receives at the start. As a consequence, she can roll for her equipment's Tech Levels and receives 2d6x100 Secs. to start. Her stats are generated as follows with results in parentheses:
I have a handful of ideas in mind for new projects, hopefully, to offer on DriveThruRPG. This one requires a lot of stippling and some digital magic which means I need to start practicing now. The interesting thing about prepping is the samples I produce as the practice often don't look anything like the imagined project.
For this item for example:
Obviously, it is a spaceship in the theme of Star Smuggler. My project requires a fairly large map of a landscape so it is a conceptual mismatch. The other item I am working on could end up as framed art. Again, it doesn't remotely look like a map.
But there is a method to the madness. I don't want to work on landscapes or maps while practicing so I don't burn out in the middle of a large project where I need to produce a large landscape map.
As far as digital magic goes, I started this portion last year, before this new map idea came to mind. That was a simple test of my digital abilities, removing and then adding text to a series of extant images.
These are the tiles for Star Smuggler. The original set came with a series of tiles that required flipping one tile upside down to create a planet. I flipped the images, removed all of the text, healed the background of that text, and added new text to replace the old text. They came out pretty nice, but once I was done, I noticed that my healing of the background image looked different than the original, so I had to repeat the process to get a complete set of matching tiles.
A lot of people have created their own world tiles for Star Smuggler, but I have never seen anyone use the original art. You can check out some nice ones on Board Game Geek in the link. These are very slick and modern looking as opposed to the 70s or 80s look of my copies.
(I'm sorry, but due to the distro notices on this game, I can't share my files. Mr. Sustare didn't get paid for this game but has graciously allowed the above websites to produce digital versions of the game. It seems fair enough to me. If you know Mr. Sustare... maybe you can get us in touch so I can ask permission or give him the files to post. It's not really mine so they need a good warden.)
So, what is this project? I have a B/X/AD&D campaign world that has 40ish years of history and I would like to see it in print. The first part of the project is the map of The Peninsula of Plenty. It is a vast area that does not lend itself to hex mapping.
In this world, there are many strange things. For example, there are magical rail lines, newspapers, and consumer-grade magic items. I have reporters, treasure hunters, and historians of great renown populating the world. Magarven is the Peninsula's most outrageous self-promoter believing himself to be all three. Take a look at his Last Polyandrion, a map of a magical edifice of unknown meaning and purpose.
I imagine that Magarven would very much like everyone to know what a smart and well-traveled Drow he is, so I would like to publish a series of books by him. This series will have an in-universe perspective and would contain 9 or more volumes. The collection is rules agnostic as it will be a traveller's handbook to the Peninsula.
The reader would rapidly come to the conclusion that Magarven the Mad is not all there. As The World's Most Popular Drow, one who embraces both his heritage and fame, he will do or say anything to perpetuate being a hero when he is not. He is clearly not at fault when his human fans disappear, he has no idea where they went, and tales of sacrifices to Lolth are completely out of bounds. She was never a demon queen. How unfair to speak such untruths.
While this is basically true, it takes a very long time. I used Random.org's dice generator to rapidly roll hundreds of dice. The primary limiting factor is loading a hopper (25 CU) or using an orbital shuttle (50 cu) to move goods around. The problem with this method is it takes a lot of time and money to do so. You can cache items to speed the process but the scenario becomes a little ridiculous and tedious.
If you are down with embracing the ridiculous you can reduce the tedium by purchasing items like repair units, fuel units, or GM bots right in the Spaceport. Once you have spent every penny on these items all you have to do is sit on them until you receive a good sales result. Picture Duke sitting on a pile of craters right in a hanger waiting for someone to happen by in need of item x, which he has cornered the market on. On Regari, a roll of 6 sales results in a 1.5 base price modifier. You are converting 1 secs. spent into 1.5 secs. per cycle. In a month or two, you should have enough to purchase a new Antelope.
If only you get over the fact that Duke is sitting on a pile of thousands of repair units or fuel units...
The reason this isn't an obvious solution is you cache a tremendous amount of items inside the Spaceport for a very short period of time. Like thousands of CU worth of goods. The rules don't place a limit on the number of items you can have only a limit on items you can move.
It is a very unsatisfying solution because it kills the game engine's balance. In fact, using this method breaks the economic restrictions that the game places on you. So long as you do not engage in any other activities such as RRR, there is zero risk due to a lack of opportunities to make contacts or otherwise experience negative effects.
Now I have further expansion possibilities because there must be a mechanic to offset the easy solution of not engaging in play to win. In solo play, this is not as dangerous as the solo player is playing for exploration not cheating their way through the money problem. It's just easier to fudge the rolls or be a bad timekeeper.
If you want to adapt Star Smuggler to an actual multiplayer game, then you need a solution to this possibility.
Another cool idea for multiplayer options is to use randomly generated systems to express change. As time goes on a Spaceport could morph into a colony, city, or slum. This wouldn't happen overnight, but a referee could present the changes over the natural weeks and months which are hardcoded into the game system. The referee could even change the star charts as exploration opens new routes or even open up completely new systems.
This solo game system is remarkably robust for such a simple thing. A necessary limit in the system is how scattered the rules are within the events. For example, there exist psionics, grenades, and combat droids however, if haven't read every event you wouldn't even know. Also, combat is super tight. There are relatively few ways you can make changes without upsetting the game balance.
Most of my amazement and fascination with this game is how tightly integrated and edited it is. I spent a few days going through every event and rule, mapping out where each went to find loops or mistakes. There are a few loops, but as near as I can tell no actual mistakes which is a testament to how well thought out it is.
There are a few relics and oddities in the rules and events. For example, events are sequential from e001 to e199 but then hop to e400 before ending at e441. That leads me to believe that the game might have meant to have 200 more events. The rules do the same thing, flowing from r201 to r242 before hopping to r300+. Maybe there are 60 or so missing rules entries. Were that true, someone painstakingly edited them away without the benefit of a computer.
Personally, I believe this second option to be the more possible one. There is a subtle hint in e005. It is the only event that straight-up duplicates events:
"If you disable the controller and capture it, the event takes 1 hour and roll 1d6: 1-e117, 2-e017, 3-e059, 4-e117, 5-e017, 6-no effect."
This does not occur any place else in the rules. Omitting tension-building choices which hop through an intervening event before directing the reader/player back to make a different choice at the initial branch. This is a common trope in "choose your own adventure" books. It is different than duplication.
I believe in this case one of the e117 and e017 events was supposed to lead elsewhere but do not because those events were either edited away or simply not written.
A similar thing happens in the rules section for combat. The events and rules call out "sidearms" and "heavy sidearms" while a few areas mention "explosive weapons" and "armor piercing" weapons. I personally believe that this is the result of two authors being on the same page, but not the same word. Or perhaps they intended for there to be a couple of classes of weapons that were discovered to be unbalanced, like a machine gun or blaster rifle. Or maybe "too much like game, movie or TV show x."
It is pretty clear that the author used their personal experience at the game table to create a solo game. I find it kind of satisfying to reverse the process and use the ruleset for a multiplayer game.
What do you think?
In using these two systems, I rolled up a new version of the whole star chart.
Regari, the starting system, now has two planets and asteroids with a space station. This is a total game changer because the second planet has twice the destinations. I also pulled out my cutting mat to use the grid to help mark out distances.
So what to do with all of this enforced time off?
Star Smuggler, of course. The game is free from the link, just don't redistribute.
I want characters to have a stunner. It works like a sidearm, except if you hit the target they are stunned for one round. If they have already moved or shot in the round, there is no effect. They can move and fight in the next round automatically.
Continuing with the sidearms rules, if you roll a 6 on your to hit roll, it is critical and requires one more 1d6 to be rolled. If you get a 1 or 6, the target is knocked out for the rest of the fight. Shooting into melee is possible, but just like sidearms, you can hit your friends with the same stun effects.
A stunner does no damage to non-living things, which makes it U-suit, robot, and vehicle safe.
There is a heavy version of a stunner, the only difference is it can pass through U-suits. Not damage them, but pass through as if they don't exist. The heavy stunner is operated exactly like the previous entry. If a heavy stunner (and only heavy stunners) is fired at or through a personal force shield, both the force shield and the stunner must roll for breakdown. Heavy stunners don't work on armored targets, this is the upper limit of the technology. They don't blow holes in things, which is their advantage.
Stunners cannot hit people inside a vehicle UNLESS the target is shooting out of the said vehicle. I suppose you could make some fun rules for if that person topples out the window, but I would leave that alone. In a solo game that's too much detail.
Stunners are available when you make a roll that indicates sidearms or heavy sidearms are available. They cost the same as their lethal equivalents. They have the same range of tech levels. Anyone can use a stunner, but only Duke, Gunners and Bodyguards can use heavy stunner. This means you can have armed Drivers and Medics.
There is an electronic version of a stunner called a scrambler in e18. It forces a breakdown if it hits a vehicle, robot, etc. Normally, this device cannot be purchased.
I have not figured out a reasonable modification for a hand-held melee stunner. Hand-to-hand is a different mechanic, where every odd-numbered positive number is a hit. Rolls of 7, 9, and 11 do something special such as KO a target or disarm them. Hand-to-hand is an odd beast because you hit on odd results, but the character can have even or odd skills and modifiers. My COVID-addled brain can't handle the math.
"The sum of two odd numbers is always even",
"The sum of two even numbers is always even"
It's simple enough to be confusing. I guess you could flavor hand-to-hand combat by simply assuming that people have access to hand head stunners, which accounts for all of the knockouts in melee. I'll think I'll leave good enough alone.
If you look over to the right, you'll see the countdown is on. We are set to return home by mid-April. 54 days. That means a lot of things.
Due to the time of year, everyone here is hauling ass. Nate and Cat have the school play the first week of March. Weddings are in full swing, so they are doing double duty with practice and work at the banquet hall. My older son is off with the Air Force Reserves, in and out of the house as duty dictates. My wife and I are starting new jobs.
Things are getting real.
The biggest change is that we won't have time to game much at all. Rather than go on hiatus, I will still have time to do some reviews. I also want to show off some cool stuff I have received from people who reached out after the fire. I should have time to post every week or two.
Before I check out for a bit, I wanted to show off something I put together today. I love the game Star Smuggler, a solo game created in the 80s. It's like Traveller Super Lite. You can download and print it from Dwarfstar Games.
It took forever. You see, the problem was each tile has text and numbers which are backward if you merely flip them. I went in flipped the words the right way around.
It wasn't until I had the whole set printed and mounted on cardboard that I realized the high production value of the artwork included with this game. Everything lines up correctly.
When you look at two A tiles side by side, the available paths line up because they are mirrored. And the continents look like a Rorschach test. But that is not how they are supposed to be used.
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.
Alright, I hope you noticed all of my ads the past couple of days. They help support this site. However, they aren't the main reason for the site. Gaming is the reason.
To that end, lets promote a couple of games you can't buy at any price. Enter Dwarfstar Games. In coordination with Reaper Minis, they brought several games back from the dead. These games aren't abandoned or even in the public domain, but the people behind Dwarfstar have brought back 7 tiny games publish by companies like Heritage in the 80s. You can download them directly from that website above or click the names below.
The first is Barbarian Prince. I am using Dwarfstar's description copy here:
"BARBARIAN PRINCE is a new concept in Adventure Gaming. No rules reading is required; the programmed event sequence lets you begin play as soon as you open the box.
"BARBARIAN PRINCE contains -- A full-color 12"x 14" mapboard, a die, rules folder, Event Booklet, and summary sheet -- and a detailed cast metal figure of the Barbarian Prince to mark your position on the board."
I played a few round in my Pilot Podcast Episode.
The next game, Demonlord is equally interesting:
"DEMONLORD contains -- a full color card stock mapboard, 12"x14"; 154 full color counters; a die; instruction folder.
"PLAY LEVEL - Intermediate/Advanced"I can't wait to play this one.
The crews of the Zephyr and Sirocco are fully fueled and ready to go. They have 76,253 to spend.
In this post, I'll be trying the Regari to Palatek run again to see if more resources can make this work.
We left on at the end of Day 5. On Day 6, the ship is repaired and ready to go. As mentioned before, they want to get back to doing something easier. That cargo run from Palatek to Regari sounds nice. Anything that doesn't involve shooting sounds nice.
The crew has a plan. They have 2 CU of Dyna-weed that they need to unload quickly. They have a full load of hypercharges on Imperia, so they can reach any system in the sector.
This exercise is more than looking at the map. It's about knowing the territory.
The ship's account has 8358 secs. In cargo they have:
2 Hoppers TL-1 (TL-6 guns), 19 fuel units, 2 GM-bots at TL-5, 1 vacuum skimmer TL-5 (e153), 3 TL-1 u-suits, 1 TL-6 u-suit, Regen Tank TL-6 (e153), Defense Screens, 4 TL-5 heavy side arms, 4 TL-4 side arms and 20 life support units.
The ship also has 4 point of damage from the space battle they fought. The engineers are screaming for resources, so they drop in to the space station. That takes a couple hours and the crew searches for repair units. The engineers insist on 20 repair units, which costs the ship's account 200 secs. They now have 8158 left.
The next two days are spent doing repairs. I decided Mel and Sarah can each repair a point of damage per day. The rules don't say you can do this, but they don't preclude it either.
It's now day 4 and the crew decides to leave for Palatek. It takes 3 hours to get to a safe jump point.
The entry roll indicates they find a status unit floating in space (e103). They take it on board and make their way to the planet. Since they will be hauling cargo, they want to open the status unit and get it out of the way. This means they want to go to the space station for a 5 CU status unit.
About the odds. You can buy status units at the spaceport on a roll of 2. There is exactly one way to roll that, or 2.78%. At the space station, stasis units are available on 9. There are many ways to roll a nine, 4 to be exact and that is 11.11% chance or four times as often. On the station, you only get 5 rolls per day but that's half the rolls at four times the chance.
It takes them 2 days worth of rolls to succeed. 500 secs spent (7658 left).
To make this choice, I make each character roll against their cunning. Emily, the medic Drey and Jason want to put it out the airlock, but the rest of the crew pleads with them to keep it. There is a lot of grumbling, but they come around.
For once, these guys are actual smugglers.
Day 7, they come up with a plan. They will go to Byzantium then Imperia to make the sales and refuel the hypercharges.
You know, this won't go smoothly. They make the sale at Byzantium, pocketing 48,000 secs. On the very next jump to Imperia, the ship runs into an meteor which blows a hole in the boat bay and one of the boats. The engineers weep.
As the crew sets down on the planet, the engineers start repairs while the rest of the crew makes the sale. They make another 160,000 secs. They have also used 2 more repair units, leaving only 14. They also have to refuel the ship which takes another day.
Since the crew is doing something illegal, they quietly make a payment and tell Duke they are doing cargo runs. Because smugglers never do anything illegal. The ship's account is now at 213,683. None of the crew accept payment at this time because they are trying to hide the fact that they are drug runners.
Technically, the crew is in a win condition. But I want to see how usable this system is a general RPG, so we'll continue again next week.
Before coming up with the Zephyr variant for Star Smuggler, I tried a couple designs. These rules are somewhat related to Traveller, Snapshot or Striker as they darn near follow the design principals. Where as these games have tons of fuel to jump, Star Smuggler has a magic McGuffin called a Hypercharge. Ships are limited in range by the six charges they carry.
Ok, this session is part two of Session 005. It starts on the morning of day 10. In my last post, I accidently lost track of one day by not calling it by the number.
We left the crew docked at the space station, with the intention of leaving for Regari. The crew is most interested in doing something safe like returning to Regari and doing some cargo runs to Palatek. As a game master, this is an unsatisfying development. I decided to throw something interesting at the party.
On the morning of day 10, there is radio chatter about incoming raiders. Additionally, in the hub of the station, a pair of Mynkurnia death squads appear. The Zephyr wants nothing to do with those exploding suicide troops again, so they detach from the Station and start making for the Spaceport on the surface.
As they drop into the atmosphere, they get jumped by two TL-6 hoppers, one has TL-6 guns and the other has TL-4 guns. The Zephyr has been surprised and take a pair of hits.
Wait... I made another mistake. The Antelope II has no hit stats. It's twice as big as an Antelope I but I don't want it to have 20 hits. I give it 15 hits. It also has defensive screens, which will absorb some damage.
Ok. So the Zephyr takes a beating as it plunges into the atmosphere of the planet. That's one hour of combat.
In the next turn of combat, they return fire while the crew rushes around to unload the hoppers and make them combat ready. They could simply take off, but the hoppers are holding a ton of equipment.
The Zephyr has TL-5 guns, while the attackers have TL-6 and TL-4 weapons. These guns lose one die for being hoppers and a second for firing in the atmosphere. I deem that the Zephyr's guns are better because they aren't degraded as much and therefore shoot first.
|My super fancy combat map.|
The hoppers each take two points of damage. But wait! That's not all. The hopper with the TL-6 guns takes a critical, forcing a breakdown roll. It fails and the ship crashes into the ground. The second boat returns fire and hits again.
The ship is much faster than the hopper so it breaks away and into orbit in hour 3. They fire again on the lone hopper doing two more points of damage. It breaks off and makes for the ruins.
Hour 5 is getting worse, they see two TL-4 Antelopes with the same type of guns. The Zypher has better guns and unloads on the lead ship for 5 points of damage plus a critical. Life support breaks down. The Zephyr's defensive screens eat up the one point of damage. The hoppers deploy and fire their TL-6 guns on the lead ship. They do four more points of damage, one more hit will kill it. The Raiders are screaming for the damaged hopper to come back and it starts it's climb.
The next round sees the Antelopes pull out of range of the party's hoppers, but they get blasted again by the Zephyr's big guns. The lead ship takes another critical to the engines and goes dead in space. The remaining ship takes a critical, a hit to pilotage. The pilot is killed instantly, stopping the ship dead in space. The guns rip off an ineffective shot.
Also in this round, the last hopper roars out of the atmosphere and right into the Zephyr's hoppers. It's hit for two points of damage and explodes.
The Raiders crews had two pilots, two gunners, an engineer and a death squad boarding party. They are trying to affect repairs but everything will take a day.
In round 7, the hoppers catch up and blast the Raider still capable of shooting. They do two points of damage plus 2 criticals. One critical knocks out life support and a second lucky hit strikes Pilotage, where the engineer was attempting repairs. The Zephyr unloads on the ship for one point of damage and two criticals. These kill the crew in engineering and the turret.
The Zephyr orders the ships to surrender. They do not. So, the crew moves to the closest ship and begins boarding actions.
With life support down and heavy hand weapons, combat is over as quick as it started. The second ship manages to damage the Zephyr with two points of explosive damage, but then the rest of the crew goes down. They manage to capture the engineer and a gunner.
The heroes collect up some weapons and spare change from the dead. The total crew was a pilot, a gunner, a death squad per ship, plus an engineer. The hopper had a pilot and gunner plus half of a death squad each. That nets 288 secs. from both ships' crew. They also collect up an assortment of guns, 4 TL-5 heavy side arms and 4 TL-4 side arms. As per e182, they strip the ships for 1400 secs. in fittings. In this case, Imperial Police take control of the ships from the party and thank them for their help, rather than an explosion destroying both ships.
This ends the week on an odd note. The fund from fittings from the ships go into the Ship's account and the weapons and crew money is split up amongst the crew. Since the crew has already been paid, they get nothing more than prize money.
I just purchased some graph paper composition books, which is what I use for note taking and rough gaming information.