Friday, December 28, 2018

A World a Week: CLE 216 Zero Year

Actually nine worlds. Going big for the last of 2018
 Having a couple quiet hours at work is always helpful. I have been working on this model of a multi-solar system complex of worlds for some time since thinking about reworking my New Khazan: Adventure in the 9,000 Worlds and this is like my fourth model. These have been perplexing me since hearing the Nena song Haus Der Drie Sonne since the Aughts really. Last night though, instead of space fantasy which is what 9KW is,  I was thinking sub-light space saga. And I have been exploring a sector of neighboring galaxy for some space opera called CLE-216 for about a year now. So CLE-216: the House of Three Suns is coagulating into something.

This star system is about 26 light-years away from the Earth solar system, hidden behind Sirius from our current star mapping methmods. It isn't discovered until the 216th "good spot finder" drone of the 2114 Colony Locator Expedition (14 CLE) does a physical fly-by at about .8C ( 80% the speed of light). It finds about eighteen places are suitable for stable and thriving biospheres. Nine colony ships from the various factions of the 24th Century head out as soon as the drone arrives back in our system and broadcast its results to whomever is listening. The ships were launched from 2325-2394.

The colony ships, or "Biosphere Expansion Platforms" ("Beeps") as "colony" is a word laden with baggage from the 17th-20th Century history of humanity, were able to travel around .4C for some 14.5 light years of the distance before arcing around Sirius and then braking for approach to the far orbit of the three star system for another 14 light years. This, according to my math, means the trips took almost 2,700 years (time dilation factored in). So by the time the ships start getting serious about grabbing good spots it's circa 5050 AD according to the calendar back on old Terra. Note: Anybody can check and even correct my math. I only started doing this sort of thing about three years ago and it's only for fun.

The stars are a G2V (CLE216-1 "Helios") in a circular orbit with an A4V (CLE216-2 "Hera") about 2.2 light-years apart, with another G2V (CLE216-3 "Herakles") in an elliptical around the others moving from 6 light-years to 3 light-years over a few centuries. Surprise! Herakles has a Hot Jupiter (CLE216-3 D) in orbit about a light-year and a half. Some are calling it "Lebron" after the demigod that came from the City of the Dead, Akron, to save "the 216" back in the murky "early 21st."

Thursday, December 27, 2018

New Year A'Coming

We're not divorcing, yet, I think.

With Peryton's, of Peryton Publishing fame, third announcement that she is quitting game design and this time stating that she is not working for Peryton Publishing except to help me out, I am a bit befuddled. Not about her dropping out, like I said Pery (Mz. R. Christina) has announced this three times over the last as many years, and few dozen times to me privately. The whole thing started a decade or so ago when GENCON pointed out that we ran enough events at the convention to get prepaid free badges and other stuff if we organized into a gaming group. Then the publishing came about as a way to share artwork between each other's projects. While I had read about perytons in the Forgotten Realms Moonshae Islands trilogy (the first one I think), I was never that into the creature or anything.  I would've probably gone with T.R.o.T.T. Games (Tom's Ripoff of Tunnels and Trolls) at the time. Now I am stuck with the domain and the products. If I want to I can probably talk my resigning partner into doing Qalidar at her already owned without much problem.
Proof that I knew her before she went big.
 I still want to rename the business to Spiders From Mars Games or some such. We'll see.

Time enough for ham biscuits and coffee.

With Wobble and Spacers (TM): Universe in the post production phases, I have the time to read a lot of people's games and not just the big ones. You might've noticed my "Games You Probably Haven't Heard Of" entries. This is a lot of fun. Expect more of them. I will probably start fleshing out my TACK (Tom's Adventure Card Kit) rules for the 2020 ('21?) remake of Crawlspace. In this rendition, Beckett and I get really rabbinical law crunchy with some pages worth of new rules.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Games You Probably Haven't Heard Of, Duex

In the Light of a Ghost Star by Nate Treme

In the Light of a Ghost Star a print and play style of work created by Nate Treme, or just 'Ghost Star presents its setting complete with a set of rules that doesn't require much else besides a set of polyhedral dice and a play group.  Set in about a "kajillion" years from now, the sun has already expanded into its red giant phase and is now a smouldering white dwarf. Earth's human population, and whatnot, has moved to and survives in the heated climes of  "Martian reactor cites." The survivors on the planet of our species origin have evolved and mutated into various critters that strive for their own survival of a cold, once burning, cinder of a world. But there are riches to be had still, in the form of Earth souvenirs and artifacts of Terran super-science both of which have a vast market for back on atomic-powered Mars giving reason for people to risk life, limb, and mutation to travel there and pillage the place.

Players assign a d4, d6, and a d8 into their Fighter, Explorer, and Scientist stats to design the Characters being played. Success is a "4" result or higher on any roll required by the GM, or referee in the game's terms. Then there is a Gear list to equip those characters with the Size for each item and a Cost value assigned to it. The advanced rules covering Advancement and Conditions that affect success rolls are covered on the same page. There is also an illustration to indicate how rules lite this system is. Treme credits the games of Jason Morningstar and Ben Milton as the rules' inspiration source.

From there the author provides a sample adventure entitled "Earth Expedition One" complete with a map. The map contains some set locations and the parts not labeled are set for random encounters. Various charts for encounters, obstacles, NPCs, and treasures to be had are provided for a good portion of the booklet. Then follows an Example of Play, I suppose that is necessary as its in almost every stand alone RPG that I've read (that wasn't written by me). Closing up the pages are forms and play-aids that will help out with running the setting.

The contents get the feel of far future space pulp stories. Clark Ashton Smith fans will feel very much at home with the look and allusions of the narrative. For the more gonzo fantasy space opera fan there are apes, cockroach humanoids, and giant meat-eating slugs, complete with magical, seemingly at least, beings. Character arcs for the NPCs are provided while the randomizer charts are full of details for the GM, err referee, to come up with personas of their own.

I write about this work because I like the ascetic. A complete RPG setting with rules provided on a page is great. What is better is that it is crammed full of ideas but does not try to overfill itself into a small telephone book of wordage to bolster itself into an all too common trope of game these days, the RPG that is written around an idea that would be a better scenario than a full on game-- can you say "Kickstarter!" anyone?

It is currently available for free at this link. I hope the link will be down soon. I think Treme should really do it through an online game game distributor and charge something for his work. He put some work in to keep details clear and had a lot of forethought into graphics that he used to enhance the atmosphere. Right now 'Ghost Star is a Nessie, on the Smurf to Godzilla scale,  but that could be growing as he is adding other bits to the work as I type.

Update 27.Dec.: 'Ghost Star is available at for PWYW. This version is updated with more illustrations and additional adventuring material.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Making Christmas Special

Image may contain: 1 person, hat 

The older I get the more fun I have at Christmas time with ideas for role-playing. I was brave enough a couple of years ago to publish a RPG zine called The Santa Lands, and it worked out nicely. All the prints that were up for sale were sold. The PDF does a few sale sales throughout the year with a handful, it seems, around X-Mas if you include November and January. So making Christmas "specials" with as little investment as an author can afford is worth the investment. But I am thinking more about making the Christmas season a special time for my table-toppings.

Christmas is definitely a time of high fantasy. Before the Christ cycle, there are all the tales around the winter solstice. The Yule tradition as well as the marking of one year to the next even before most calendars. Saint Nicholas of Myra would appear in Medieval Christendom and compete with the Passion Plays as very popular entertainment, often appearing with the closest thing that people had to a CGI heavy Krampus. Even into industrial times, where religious ceremony started to give way to a single holiday (off-work) versus many holy days, it was the interjection of the fantastical old Saint Nick toned down and elves and flying reindeer to get the drunks off the streets and role-playing at home with  kids about being a prosperous citizen in a productive life.

So can the average RPGer make something special out of the high fantasy season of Christmas and the New Years? Maybe not the average ones, but the better ones can and do often. One of the better ones that I can think of is Charlie Fleming's Kringle Force, where elves from the North Pole save not only X-Mas but the world. The only thing missing in this one was Lee Majors and Big Foot.

I write this as consolation blog as a consolation for myself. Alas, unless I do something like an emergency Wobble session over the Christmas-New Year's weeks, I am not doing anything special myself. And the setting I have is more about Saints and their sins and Christendom in the multiverse, nothing really seasonal except for the inclusion of Nicholas of Myra. But starting next November first, I am going to sit down and get something brewing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Vikings Versus Venusians

At one time, like back in 'o4, I swore to Peryton that I was going to write the most rambling, rather pointless RPG setting that I could think of. The title from a weird CoC game that I ran back in the 80s became this project's name which is "Vikings Versus Venusians." It was my take on the Highlander movie the new White Wolf style introspective games coming out back then for that game system but with reincarnation and astrology worked in.

I've even made notes on this. Player-Characters roll to see how many pass lives that they have, and based on a rating, get random flashbacks during the course of any adventure. The Venusians are not actually from Venus, but a dimension where the gateway to that world opens only when the Earth and Venus are at a certain conjunction to on another, so it only appears that the invading aliens are coming from Venus, to the defending Vikings. The Vikings themselves are not often really Vikings, only having a one in ten chance of even being a reincarnated Dane, Swede, Nordansk, et al. on the reincarnation chart, but the defenders of Earth are a secret order that calls themselves the Norse. Neutral characters could berandom psychics that came into contact with the highly psionic Venusians as well as the Old Souls of the Earth's guardians. These neutral PCs could not have a reincarnation but might think that they do because a Venusian, or a demon, or an Atlantean, acting like a previous life of that character. Then there is some astrological charting guidelines that are meant to modify Character rolls during the course of play each season, but these can be randomly generated with a series of dice rolls or calculated by the GM as needed.

And then I stopped. I stopped not because things were getting too wild for a game system-- indeed the complete notes are barely a dozen pages-- but it could all be fit into one scenario. Try as I might, I could not stretch this RPG premise out to a whole game, even a pamphlet sized one. I blame mostly my better control of game session pacing now that "one off" scenarios are what I usually run 75% of any year.

Still I wonder, can I turn this into a game? More than likely it'll just be a Wobble scenario if I ever try to make this silliness presentable.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Games You Probably Haven't Heard Of

"Halflings and the Hive" is a work by Beckett Warren and Todd Jakubisin presented at the local convention GenghisCon. It is proclaimed to be a "system-agnostic RPG adventure" on the cover. Knowing Beckett's propensity for the DCC system, he runs one every week at his game and dorkdom shop of Weird Realms,  it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out which set of rules the abbreviations work best with.  Mister Jakubisin is no slacker himself, I know him for his Pests tabletop game but I am sure that he has other products out as well.

So picture a setting where halflings are the dominant PCs of interest and a hive of Buzzbees are looking to infect undead flesh as host material for their Queen's brood. In a pinch living flesh will do for the Buzzbee larvae. In the town itself, a place called Cerwin, there of course shadowy cults, The Blood Cult and Her Majesty's Holy Hive. Races covered in the text include Corrupt Halflings, koalas, pandas, and a few bears-- there are others but no one cares after reading "koala." Characters strive to cope with and possibly foil the ne'er-do-wells of the scenario.

In this fanzine style pamphlet, the maps, cards for random encounters, and forms designed to keep track of play make up about half of the work. The other half is some overarching narrative of the scenario and a lot of detail for the NPCs and factions. Complete with the decent artwork, maybe done by Jakobisin, the twenty pages, plus front and back covers gives a lot of bang for the buck to the reader. The only thing I have found to complain about here is a lack of a proper title page and Beckett's, just guessing, overuse of the word "fucking" as an adjective in the writing. I am a relic from another time when it comes to only using swearing in dialog though so what the hell do I know?

Beckett making a gameday happen at a local convention.
Overall, I'd rate this work a King Kong on a scale of Smurf to Godzilla.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

No Small Step

Image may contain: night and skySo if you, seated reader, have been reading my inane babbling here at this blog for a while, you know that I am planning on releasing a major Spacers(TM) work and I have been doing so for quite some time. The news on that is that I gone from being a serious amateur astronomer back to being an RPG writer again. That means that I feel that I have enough information on some of the more recent news about stars and planets from such sources as the Kepler telescope and the Wide-Angle Search for Planets (WASP), to start working on the role-playing stuff for my sci-fi setting to end all sci-fi settings.

And actually it is not a setting, it's settings. If you've played in more than one Spacers sessions, you noticed that I change up the tone and milieu each game. I suppose as a GM I am used to having to change gears to explore whatever is being talked about from one sci-fi movie to the next. Its like five settings. It may be more, because I am working them one at a time and not reading ahead. Just working with what I thought was cool four years ago because I was pretty clever back then, as well as now and even better read and viewed. So whatever deconstruction that I did I'll just play a technical writer to my ealerier inspired self. Hey it's working, don't judge.
Image may contain: 1 personSo remembering my overall story lines, the campaign material goes from a "close orbit saga" where the Earth and Moon are looking at Mars. I am hoping for a Space 1999 meets "Johnny Mnemonic" feel. There is always room for 2001: ASO and some Road Warrior worked in. Then there is the solar system-wide setting it gets more than a little retro because that was my first Spacers line of scenarios. Then there is the slower-than-light, maybe not, colonization period where creature feature Alien, Aliens, and merchandising as well as works about colonization of distant planets and remote biospheres like Solaris or a new film by DUST productions Prospect. For the Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, Starship Troopers set of mind that I get into I work in a FTL and phaser-shooting mega-vessels with national entities spanning lightyears, complete with naval-like dynamics and alien species used as metaphors for modes of behavior. Finally I get into "high sci-fi" or spherical fantasy, where Star Wars, Farscape, Larry Niven's "Known Space" works, and Flash Gordon serials occur.

Okay enough yapping. Back to the sub-light setting... .