Showing posts with label Star Smuggler. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Star Smuggler. Show all posts

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Recovery in or of Star Smuggler

In my last post, I hypothesized that the player could recover from the loss of their Antelope spaceship by pulling together a small team of pilots, medics, and engineers to scavenge in the Ruins found on so many planets. 

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. 

I think that creating a table of random events that can occur when you do not move or engage in activities would work to resolve this unique issue. The Star Smuggler system has many different built-in; scenarios that range from flavoring to pushing events that can speed world build while not obviously punishing a lack of activity. A party of characters will need some downtime to stay centered on tasks, but a random table of events can spark new plans and ideas. Think of it as exposure without railroading like a solo game has to do. 

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. 

However, in using this as an actual RPG ruleset, the referee knows exactly what to expect. Change can come in other ways, such as the expansion of planetary systems, new events created by the players' choices, and the referee's goals for the game. 

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 e341. 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. 

There is another option. Two people could have been working on the set at the same time and divided the entries between them which explains the gap. One person finished before the other but in order to maintain the document refused to reference unnecessary numbers or renumber what they had. Not surprising if you are using pen and paper or worse, a typewriter.  

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 a duplication.  

I believe in this case one of the e117 and e017 events were 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? 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Changing the Scenario - Star Smuggler

One of the nice things about Star Smuggler is the designer thought to make the game extendable. If you have played the generic game too many times, you can add in r208 Random Star System Connections and r209 Random Star System Design. This totally changes the dynamics of the game by presenting opportunities you ordinarily wouldn't have in the vanilla version. 

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. 


This is so handy and I wish I had thought of it before. 

It also gave me a rule-busting start scenario. In Star Smuggler, there are multiple series of events that lead to Duke losing his ship. The rules don't indicate a loss, but the question is, can you survive long enough to get another ship? 

I suspect the answer is "yes" because, with the loss of the ship, you lose the weekly clock of payments and the associated money drain. If this happens late in the game, you have a nest egg to work from. You only need a few things to make stuff happen:

A Hopper, 
An Engineer, 
A Medic, 
Repair Units, Life Support Units, and Fuel Units. 

The total cost of these items, assuming you have none to start is between 940 and 1240 secs. Once you have these base items, your goal is to get to the Ruins. There you can pick up Bots, Skimmers, RU, and maybe another Hopper. The primary goal is to get that Hopper for free. 


Once you have a second Hopper, you need to hire another Pilot and a pair of Gunners at a base cost of 50 a week. Utilize the cache rules to preserve your finds in the Ruins. Don't forget about the Orbital Shuttle event that allows you to move 50 cu of goods in a single hour. It's a great way to clean out that cache. 

At this point, your crew cost is 65 a week. If you go whole hog, that is 65 per owned Hopper. That's a pilot, medic, engineer, and gunner per ship. You'll be making bank in no time, especially if you utilize the game-breaking scenario of multiple Hoppers with guns. You can actually become a pirate, using the Hoppers to strafe ground targets. Sure, you're wanted but the major drawback to being wanted is losing your ship at random... and you don't have one of those. It's entirely possible that your fleet of Hoppers could gun down even full size spaceships. 

In order to cut down on the rogue pirate theme, you could make orbital shuttles available. They are basically double-sized Hoppers. I have designed a small layout of one: 


The cargo area is a bit smaller than what the rules say, but I tacked on 10 cu for passengers, 6 cu for the crew in pilotage and tons of fuel. I would price this thing out at 3 times the cost of a Hopper, available when a Hopper is. This ends up being 2700 or 3600 secs., base price. An orbital shuttle is big enough to generate it's own life support like a full sized ship, but the trade off is there is no good place for guns or turrets. This gimmick is there to prevent that guns blazing trope. 

My final modification is to jump right to the shipless gameplay. For whatever reason, Duke doesn't start with a ship. Maybe the financial market tanked, or the ship he was offered looked nothing like the Serenity, or it was purple, or whatever you want. In this scenario, Duke never had a ship or the associated costs. So let's give him a Sidearm, the U-suit and 4d6x100+150 secs. Let us also change secs. into dollars, so I don't have to keep typing that annoying abbreviation. 

Duke starts out at the Spaceport with a maximum of $3650. He does not have a ship, Hopper or anything but the U-suit and Sidearm. Now, he needs to make 32 times what he has to buy an Antelope outright. This should be completely different. 

I haven't done a commercial in a while, so I figured I try something different. Over at Redbubble, I have a collection of Sci-Fi themed goodies. I have notebooks, pins, stickers, clocks, mugs and more. 



Check out my shop front there




Thursday, September 15, 2022

Down for the Count - Stunners

It's finally happened, I got nailed with Covid. It's perhaps a mild case, as there are times when I feel ok and other times when I can't even stay awake. 

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. 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Copy, Paste, Flip, Cut... The Countdown is On

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

One thing that always bothered me about the set is that the tiles used for the planets forced the player to invert one tile or another to create the necessary planets. Last night, I decided to correct that by flipping every tile with Gimp. This afternoon, I printed them out and pasted them on cardboard. 

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. 


You're supposed to match up left and right tiles according to the rules. For example, the Planet Regari uses tiles K and J while Palatek uses A and C. 


Not only do those match, every tile matches. That's brilliant! Tom Maxwell, who did the art for the tiles was a genius. I love it. 

Given that I won't have much time on my hands in the next 50+ days, my gameplay will be limited to solo games like this one. Physical tiles make it so much easier. 

Thank you, everyone, for everything. I will be around but probably not as much as I'd like. 

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! 

Friday, December 11, 2020

You can't buy that!

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 solitaire game of heroic adventure in a forgotten age of barbarism and sorcery. No opponent is necessary as the Event Booklet takes you through a pre-programmed sequence of encounters which is different each time you play the game. For each event, you, as the Barbarian Prince Cal Arath, must make the decisions which will make your quest successful -- or may cost you your life.

"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 is a game of strategy for two players. It vividly recreates the grand sweep of empires in conflict in an age of sorcery and enchantment. Infantry and cavalry sweep across the land to meet in battle or besiege fortresses, as winged troops wheel overhead. Priests invoke friendly spirits, as magicians prepare potent battlefield magic, or summon great beasts to their aid. And controlling it all, the dread Demonlord, and the Captains of the Hosar alliance with their retinue of personalities and special powers.

"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. 

I seem to recall having Goblin back in the day, but I must have lost it. No worries, you can still download it for free. 

"GOBLIN is a fantasy game of raiding and plunder for two players. Each player takes a turn at playing the Goblin King, leading raiders into the peaceful valley, pillaging and burning. The other player maneuvers the farmers and the Baron's troops in a desperate attempt to stave off the raids. The player who amasses the greatest amount of plunder as Goblin King, before being killed in battle or deposed by his own goblins, is the winner. Goblin is a light-hearted, free-wheeling game with surprisingly subtle strategy.

"GOBLIN contains -- a full-color 12"x14" mapboard, 154 full-color counters, a gaming die, and complete instruction book."

Next up is Grav Armor, another game I had in a baggie. I seem to recall picking it up from Kaybee Toys on close out. 

"GRAV ARMOR is a fast-moving game of future armored warfare for 2 players. It realistically simulates the high-speed, high casualty combat between streaking gravitic vehicles, surface-effects craft, supersonic fighters, orbital dropships and power-suited infantry. The modular map sections allow scenarios to be played on radically different types of planets (earthlike, molten, frozen or airless).

"GRAV ARMOR contains -- Six 4"x7" full-color map modules, 154 full-color counters, two dice, and complete rules booklet with 5 scenarios.

"PLAY LEVEL - Introductory/Intermediate"

My friend Scott R. had OUTPOST GAMMA. He was also the person who introduced me to Traveller. I've never recovered, but I still love these sorts of games. The art work reminds me of the stuff done for Dark Tower

"OUTPOST GAMMA is a game of science fiction combat for two players. With its unpredictable storms and fast-playing combat system, OUTPOST GAMMA captures the tension and rapid-fire action of high versus low-technology combat in a hostile environment.

"OUTPOST GAMMA contains -- a full-color 12"x 14" mapboard, 154 full-color counters, a die, and rules booklet.

"GAME LEVEL - Introductory/Intermediate"




My personal favorite is Star Smuggler. I've posted hundreds of times on it. You can check out my two series on it here and here

STAR SMUGGLER is a solitaire game of tense adventure in the far future. No opponent is necessary, as the Event Booklet takes you through a pre-programmed sequence of encounters which is different each time you play the game. For each event, you, as star smuggler Duke Springer must make the decisions which will make you huge profits -- or may cost you your life.

STAR SMUGGLER contains -- Twelve 4"x3" full-color mapboard tiles, four full-color counters, a rules booklet, events booklet and gaming dice.

I've put hundreds if not thousands of hours into this. It's like Traveller Lite. I've also played it as a multi-player game. The rules are pretty solid. 

And last but not least is Star Viking. This has little to do with the book Space Viking or Traveller, but somehow these three works are tied together with callout and callbacks. I had a blast playing it with my kids. My review is right here

"STAR VIKING is a game of interstellar raiding and plunder for two players. Using a unique system of 12 mapboard tiles to represent the various star systems in the Outrim sector, it captures the tense uncertainty and the sudden, flashing battles of an interstellar war. Units represented include Viking cruisers, sloops, and fighters. Federate and local frigates, battle-cruisers, and patrol boats, as well as raiding detachments, security forces, grav-armor units, specialized warfare pods, and conventional low-tech armed forces ranging from atmospheric aircraft to stone-age hordes.

"STAR VIKING contains -- Twelve 3�"x4" full-color cardboard playing tiles, 154 full-color counters, a die, and a complete instruction folder.

"PLAY LEVEL - Intermediate."

Remember, you can't buy these from Dwarfstar, but don't hesitate to download them. Be kind and don't abuse their terms. They are more than generous. 



Monday, November 9, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 008 Repeating the Motion - Mission Summary 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. 


This event is offered via e192. The stated rules are you can buy hand carved items for a base price of 5 CU on Regari and sell them on Palatek for 10. On Palatek, you can buy electronics for 60 and sell on Regari for 100, base prices. Base prices are modified by a die roll. On Regari, it's impossible to buy or sell for greater than 1 1/2 times base price. Palatek could have prices up to triple the normal cost. 

There are some unstated restrictions here. First, each drop off/pick up takes "the rest of the day". Second, boosting into orbit to get to the jump point takes 4 hours. Jumping burns 1 hypercharge. Landing requires 2 entry rolls which could be either dangerous or cost time. You are also limited by funds available and if those are fine, how much space you have on board for cargo. The items are 1 CU and have no special restrictions on storage, so you could pack every available space with them. 

The Sorocco and the Zephyr have a total of 150 CU of storage in their combined cargo bays. Being two ships, each jump will burn 2 hypercharges. 

The crew loads up the 150 CU worth of carvings at a price of 750 secs. This takes all day. They get to Palatek and roll for entry. They get result e103, which describes finding a 4 CU status pod. There is plenty of room, so they bring it onboard. They manage to avoid detection landing and off load the goods. They make 3000 from the carvings. They take on 150 CU of electronics for 9000 secs. They have burned a second day. 

On the return trip to Regari, they get through both checks without being detected. On landing, they sell the electronics for 15,000. This ends a third day. 

They move over to the spaceport and refuel at a cost of 2000 secs (500 times 2 times charges, times two ships).

At this point, I will sanity check the numbers. They had 76,253. In the plus column they have 15,000 and 3,000 and in the loss column they have 2,000, 9,000 and 750. Additionally, that have used 4 days and have a 4 CU stasis pod with unknown contents. They made 6250. 

On the surface, they 2.5 times the normal cargo space and far more money than a typical player would have. Under normal play conditions, the player would have to make 10 runs to make this much money. It is possible to get lucky and have nothing slow you down, but it would take a minimum of 11 days because they would have to take on hypercharges at least once. 

Entry rolls are a key factor. At Regari, there are 4 rolls that do not effect you while there are two that lead down paths that can kill you outright and one more that ends the game in a single die roll or choice. At Palatek, there are three entry events that have no effect, two that could end in either all day events or combat which would probably end the game and a 6th event that has 3 bad endings, two neutral and a sixth that could end the game in a win condition after a lot of time and investment of energy. 

The rolls when entering areas are far less dangerous, you could by pass them by making a good roll.  On these two planets, there are 5 events which are more flavoring than anything else, while a sixth path leads to two slightly dangerous or annoying events and one event that is usually positive. There is event an event that allows you bribe your way into an area, trading money for time and safety. 

Spitballing things, if you run this mission 11 times you'll average about 568 secs per run. However due to the low prices of the carvings, the player would have to complete a full cycle to see this level of reward. Early in the game, the player will be more conservative that this and may fail to pick up on all the nuances of the mission. 

Since my team doesn't have a clock ticking, I can investigate many of the mini-missions in the game to see what pays off most. 

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 007a All Over But for the Accounting

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. 


But they have one thing little thing that they can do on Mynkuria, pay off the ship. For a while there, I was tracking the ship's account and 9 different character's funds. That ain't fun, so it ends here. The ship's account is at 292,183 while the characters have an additional 8,820. After paying the ship off, they have 111,003 left. I am just keeping one pool of funds. 

The gang decides to run back to Palatek, via Nipna, Talitar and Imperia. They have no intention of landing anyplace except Palatek Prime, so the trip could take as little as a day. Depending on the dice gods, that is. Infi! 

At Nipna, they roll a 2 for their entry roll. They land in the middle of space battle and jump again before anything bad happens. At Talitar, they get a 3 which means they go undetected. At Imperia, they roll a 1 and drift by a broken down ship. Oddly, they have no chance to interact with it. For Palatek, they score a 3 which gives them a chance to attack a merchant ship with 12 hits. No deal. 

They land on the planet with two hours of daylight. They land at the city uneventfully. It's time to do the gear mamba to make space in the cargo hold. 


They have two hoppers which can hold 20 CU including passengers (it's odd, but the hopper boat guns are bigger than the ship guns). On each hopper, they leave five seats open for crew. They divide the fuel units 8 per hopper. One fuel unit is in the vacuum skimmer. They place 7 life support units in each hopper and one in the skimmer. 

In the cargo bay, they have 9 repair units and a skimmer (10 CU) leaving 41 CU of space for stuff. The remaining u-suits (4 in all), side arms and heavy side arms are scattered in the crew quarters. Since the crew space is 32 CU in all and I only have 9 crew plus their gear, I'll place the repair units there, too. Odd, but efficient. There is now 50 CU in the cargo bay. 

They buy 50 CU of electronics and get ready to go. That costs 3000 secs. They now have 108,003. That ends Day 6. 

On Day 7, they boost for orbit which takes 4 hours to reach the jump point. On arrival, they are ignored and land on the surface at the colony to off load the electronics for a base price of 100. They make 5,000 secs. and buy 50 CU of carvings for 250. 

Day 8 starts by moving the ship to the spaceport. They are out of hypercharges and need to "reload". They make the deal in one hour, but the loading process takes all day. They are down 3000 secs. 

Day 9, they boost for orbit and jump to Palatek. On landing, they offload their goods and take on the next load of electronics. They take in 1500, but end up spending 6000. 

Back to Regari. They get 5000 for the transaction. 

Emily points out that after 3 runs, they only have 110,253. They only made 2,250 but they are also down 1000 secs in fuel costs. This isn't working for them. 1250 of profits would make a starting player, they could pay their 300 interest payment, hire some crew and upgrade equipment fairly quickly, but it would be labor intensive. 

Time for a new plan for a new week. They buy a full load of Gm-bots at the space station plus two hypercharges. It sets them back 6000+1000. And they are off to Imperia. 

On arrival, they get slugged with a meteor in the engineer compartment. Mel and Sarah do their thing and get the ship repaired. Tired and bored and terrified, they call it a day. 

Day two is better. They land at the spaceport with no problem. Their entry roll indicates a roll on the regular spaceport table which is great. They get e037 - Sell GM-Bots and roll a 6 for their multiplier. They just made 100,000 secs. in one run. They have 203,253. 

Emily says, "Gee, we need to go back to Regari." 

The crew cries, "Why on Earth would we do that?"

"We need to buy a ship..." 

Their new ship cost 120,000 secs. Its TL-1, it doesn't have a hopper or guns. They only have one hypercharge, so they outfit both ships with a full load of six. That costs an additional 4000 secs. They have 79,253 left over. 

They spend the rest the week appointing their new ship. They outfit it with a set of Tl-5 guns from the Zephyr and one of the hoppers. They replace the guns on the Zephyr with TL-6 guns. This means the Zypher has 90 CU of storage while the other ship has 60. That sets them back another 3,000. 

They name it the Sirocco. They are joyriding around an empty spaceport lot trying to figure out who's gonna driver her. 

I'll probably rework this design to have guns. I can live with 2 30 CU bays instead of one large 60 CU bay. I like the look of this ship. 


Saturday, November 7, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 007a Smuggler's Blues

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. 


There are 10 planetary systems with 15 planets. Of those 15 planets there are only 6 slums to sell this Dyna-weed. On top of this, each system has a wealth code which creates a ranking of which planets are best to visit. In order of wealth, the planets are: 
  1. Imperia,
  2. Byzantium, 
  3. Mynkuria, 
  4. Uruskop, 
  5. Talitar, 
  6. and Regari. 
A couple of these are contiguous systems, but most are widely separated. The crew has chosen the following flight plan: 
  1. Byzantium (48,000 on the sale) 
  2. Imperia, (160,000 on the sale)
  3. Uruskop, (Next planet)
  4. and Mynkuria (Last planet)
What is cool about Star Smuggler is, the reader is building a story outside of what is written in the events and rules. In this example, Mynkuria will be the last planet visited which will complete the weed smuggler's arc. This circles back to all the problems with Mynkuria Death Squads the party experienced back on Nipna. They are being forced to either reduce their profits or run headlong in the planetary system that has caused them the most pain. 

To get to Uruskop, they need to make a jump series from Imperia to Uruskop. This is totally event-less and takes a day. They make 32,000 secs. on the deal. Although event are ordered randomly by die rolls, the dice do not fail to bring the excitement or build story arcs. 

When the Zephyr jumps into Mynkuria space, the fight is on. They roll e095 which is an attack by a Mynkuria cruiser. The cruiser has 10 hits and TL-6 guns. 

One thing that is lacking is a consistent way to capture ships. In some events, the text indicates that the crew will surrender when their ship is down to one hit. In order to prevent the player from permanently capturing the ships they defeat, the surrendering ship threatens to self destruct. In other cases, like e095, there are no surrender conditions. I'll run this scenario out to show the difficulty in capturing a ship. 

The first round of combat takes place by surprise. Each round of combat in space takes an hour, except for surprise attacks. The attackers used an hour to attack, but the reader or player is experiencing the results that hour of action by surprise. They don't record that hour because they weren't aware of the other ship activities. 

The Zephyr has defensive screens, but due to the energy constrains cannot run with them on all the time. The Mynkurian cruiser blasts them with a series of rolls. 2, 2, 2 are all hits that would have been blocked with the screens. But the crew of the Zephyr didn't have time to turn them on. The score is 10 hits to 12 and we are counting down. 

In the first non-surprise round, the Zephyr raises its screens while the Mynkurian cruiser fires again. The Zephyr takes two more hits, 1 and 1 rolls which also indicates a crucial hit. The Zephyr's comms breakdown. They can no longer call for help or communicate with the hoppers. 

The Zephyr makes a risky hopper launch and the three ships fire back. The results are 2 and 2, a one, a one, and a 1, 2, and 2. Since no one ship scored a pair of ones in their attack, no criticals have been done to the Mynkurian this time. The score is now 10 to 3 hits left, still counting down. 

In the second round, the Mynkurian fires again (they have better guns) and scores no damage thank's to the Zephyr's screens absorbing all of those 2 rolls. Not every gun gets a chance to hit the Mynkurian ship. In one shot, they get a critical hit on the Mynkurian's turret doing two points of damage to the ship, knocking out the gun and killing the gunner plus one more point of damage to the ship. 

There is nothing left but an expanding ball of vapor. 

This shows how deadly combat is and hard it is to knock out a ship with damage via the rules. I've played enough to know that you can do with a critical to pilotage or engineering, but otherwise it is very hard to stop short of total destruction. In fact, the chances of knocking a ship down to just one hit is pretty unlikely. There is a tendency to simply overkill a ship. 

Anyway, back to the problems on the Zephyr. Destruction of the Mynkurian's ship does not make the crew wanted thankfully. The hoppers are recovered and the crew decides to enter the Mynkurian Slums to make their sale, another 48,000. Next, they move on to the spaceport. 

These series of moves were risky. They have two encounters in a heavily damaged ship which could have been two more combats. Luckily, they were sales opportunities which didn't have any effect. They do have a couple of hours to make some rolls, again, none of which have any effect. They don't need what was offered. 

The Mel and Sarah need to patch up the ship which will take 3 days. The crew could sweat out these days in RRR or they could try to replace their hypercharges. Replacing the hypercharges is less risky, but they are on the lookout for those Mynkurian Death Squads. 

The crew gets the required charges on the second day of repair, paying 1500 for the hyper-fuel. It's critical that the crew makes all of those repairs as a jump with a damaged ship can cause a catastrophic failure and kill everyone. A fully repaired and properly maintained ship does not suffer this roll, so it's kind of important. 

This ends day 5 of the week. The crew is counting it's money. They are sitting on 292,183 which is far more than the cost of the Zephyr. 

Resources remaining: 

2 Hoppers TL-1 (TL-6 guns), 17 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, 9 repair units and 18 life support units. 

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 006 Smugglers!

Since this will be a hell week, let's recap what resources the ship has and where. 

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).

It was more than worth the effort. They find 4 CU of Dyla-Weed. It has a base price of 16,000 secs in any slum. The downside is, they can only sell one per slum per planet. They'll be rich, if they are willing to deal with the illegal stuff. 

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. 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Antelope Variants - Casual Deckplans

 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. 

This version is shorter than the Zephyr type and has half as much crew space. The bays are arranged differently, giving 4 40 CU bays. I would think it would make a nice causal carrier or carrier escort ship. That block of cargo space could also be a barracks or brig. 
Since I was already going small, this one is even smaller, eliminating the medical area, the weapons vault and both guns. It seems to be a pure hauler. It's bays are also divided into 3 40 CU sections. 
This version is a single gunned hauler. It's huge, those areas near the rear could be more storage space. 
I am not sure where I was going with this design. The center cargo bay has been given over to some sort of controls. Perhaps it is a lab, an advanced scanner station or controls to direct other ships. It has a single turret and a medical bay. The back of the ship has some odd equipment fittings for unknown purposes. 




This is the largest Zephyr type ship, with 4 bays, the massive crew space, vaults and medical. 



And of course for comparison is the actual Antelope II named the Zephyr. I probably should have made the rectangular cargo hold 60 CU as it is slightly bigger than the boat bay but smaller than the main cargo hold. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Revisiting Star Smuggler - Session 005b

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. 


These are exactly what I used to map out all of the Star Smuggler events. 

Pluses and Minuses, Pools and Podcast

In Star Smuggler, characters make to hit rolls. They have to roll over a certain number which is varible with 2 dice. Although the rules do not say it, the character receives one die for skill and one die for the quality of their weapon. The rules establish that if you have no skill with a weapon, you can't make a to hit roll. However, theoretically, if you ignored that rule you could have an unskilled character blasting away with a very, very low probability of hitting. 

For starship and boat weapons, the roll is different. You need to roll 1 or 2 to hit. A pair or more of ones indicates a critical. The player receives a 1d6 per roll based on the tech level of their weapon, up to a maximum of 6d6. 

In other parts of the game, there is a standard roll of 1d6 or 2d6, where the character can have pluses and minuses modify the roll. The roll is usually used to determine what of 6 or 12 things happen next not how good you are doing. The evaluation of "good" or "bad" happens as a result of reading a paragraph or two describing an event. Getting in a fight is supposed to be bad, but if you have large party of characters that idea is flipped on it's head because the player can dominate the battlefield. Getting a cool new item is supposed to be good, but if you don't have room for it, it's useless. 

The D&D player in me only noticed the standard roll of 1d6 or 2d6 with modifiers and could not conceptualize why giving modifiers to weapons fire does not work. I know, I've tried. It's because those rolls are from a dice pool, a concept that is totally foreign to me.  

This is a case of knowing your rule sets and having a great background in games, mechanics and theory helps a lot. I am all about D&D while I find Traveller to be entirely opaque. Traveller fascinates me because I can't figure out how the game master and players use the game mechanics to make great things happen. I've heard of people playing one Traveller campaign for decades, as I have been doing with Star Smuggler. The basic mechanics make that happen. 

In D&D, my campaigns fizzle after a few weeks or months because the characters reach a point where the truly fantastic has to happen over and over each session to make the game go. The rules lose their gritty danger as the characters improve. That's baked right into D&D while Traveller has a totally different mindset where it's not likely that your character will mechanically improve at all. They get better and smarter, but everyone is still one blaster shot away from death. It's the psychological threat level that changes, not the characters abilities. It's all in the scope of the story. 

This is probably the reason why I've been listening to Safco Cast so much. I am sure most listeners are looking to Jeff Koenig and Bob Loftin Traveller experiences, I am listening for their Gaming experience. It's this whole "new" world of Traveller that fascinates me not for the world itself, but the whole mechanical framework that makes the play happen. In the last episode I listened to, they spoke all about dice pools and it really sorted out some issues I had with Star Smuggler because of my personal experience with D&D. Bob and Jeff are truly enlightening, because of the way they present the Traveller rules while also looking other systems like Cepheus and make great comparisons in how things are done. 

Amazing. Why don't you give them a try? 



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. 

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.