Saturday, November 18, 2017

Barrowmaze play report - of Swords and Near Death Experiences

Barrowmaze I map, updated to Barrowmaze Complete
Today we started our Barrowmaze campaign, using the Adventurer, Conqueror, King System (ACKS). It was a blast! The system was very easy to get used to for my players, and as usual it was a breeze to run as a Judge (AKA Dungeon Master).

We spent an hour and a half generating characters. This was a pleasant experience. Many interesting options, yet little bureaucracy involved (unlike D&;D 3.xE). I had them roll 3d6 six times and arrange to taste, and this yielded varied results - both have one ability score above 16, but two below 8. Boulderson is clumsy and not very charismatic; Rufus is a bit foolhardy. I gavew them full level 1 HP. They used their starting gold to equip themselves well and hired a henchman - a Dwarf named Angus who is an apprentice Dwarven Fury, but still fights as a level 0 NPC for most purposes (Rufus' henchman).




Our Intrepid Heroes:
Boulderson - Level 1 Dwarven Craft Priest - played by Eliran
Rufus - Level 1 Dwarven Delver - played by Itai
+ Angus - Level 0 Dwarf - Rufus' henchman


Appropriate drinks!
We Venture Forth!
The two dwarves and their henchman came to Helix - a "boomtown" next to the famous Barrowmaze dungeon - to seek their fame and fortune. Boulderson is here to cleanse defiled tombs; Rufus is in for the gold. As dwarves, they came to the obvious place - The Axe and the Anvil, serving both as Helix's smithy and a Dwarven mead hall. The place was packed with dwarves, drunken and boasting about their deeds - past or future - in Barrowmaze.

Helix, as mentioned above, is a boomtown. Thus it has an unbalanced economy centered on Barrowmaze delving. All sorts of ne'er-do-well types come to plunder Barrowmaze and use Helix as a base camp. Those who survive sometimes bring back great treasures. On its own, Helix is a Village of 172 families and a Class-VI Market - a backwater agricultural community. However, the influx of dungeon loot has skewed its economy. Persons from far-away, wealthier places to the East take interest in such loot. They use HHR Huffnpuff as an agent, acquiring valuable pieces of art and gems for them for a commission. Even Mazzahs the Magnificent serves as an agent of sorts for remote patrons; he purchases magical items from adventurers which he sells to middlemen for a commission - which helps fund his expensive magical research. Thus, adventurers can sell quite expensive loot in Helix itself, but purchasing expensive supplies usually requires a trip to Ironguard Motte, as most gold does not remain in Helix, except for the trading commissions. On the other hand, local businesses cater to adventurers - creating far more "drinking holes" in Helix than in the typical village.

Yours Truly - the Judge
Soon our heroes, bolstered by all sorts of drunken tales, marched off to Barrowmaze. Luckily, they encountered no opposition on the way there. After this uneventful journey they contemplated entering the central mound (12), but changed their minds and set out to explore smaller mounds.

They began with a looted tomb (3) from which it seemed that previous grave robbers fled in a hurry, leaving behind a small golden ring.

A sealed tomb (4) yielded a closed, undisturbed sarcophagus. Boulderson was not very keen on the idea of disturbing the dead, but the greedy Rufus managed to convince him to look away. The dwarves found a wooden casket inside, shaped like a beautiful woman; it held the remains of said woman, along with four flasks of perfume.

Emboldened by the previous easy pickings, they broke into a larger sealed mound (16). The tomb held a central sarcophagus and a magnificent jeweled broadsword upon it. It also had the skeletons of six long-dead warriors standing in alcoves around its walls. Rufus and Angus rushed to the sarcophagus, coveting the sword. They grabbed it. The skeletons animated and attacked. Boulderson tried to turn them and failed. A long melee ensued, with both sides missing many of their blows. However, the Craft Priest, Boulderson, was not so lucky. Two lucky strikes by a skeleton felled him. At 0 HP, he was mortally wounded. Rufus, who is proficient in Healing, bandaged him the next round. He was lucky to stay alive, albeit with a lame leg (penalty to AC and halved movement rate). Rufus and Angus then proceeded to defeat the skeletons, sustaining very serious injuries but surviving.

Itai (right) and Eliran (left) ready for adventure!
Rufus - with his keen Dwarven eye and Delver skill - then found the hidden door leading down into the dungeon (room 81). He tried to sneak but failed; the noise animated several Fossilized Skeletons in the room below, and he ran back to the mound, sealed the secret door helped Angus carry the wounded Boulderson, and ran as fast as he could away from the mound.

Back in Helix, the dwarves negotiated with HHR Huffnpuff, the sly halfling banker. The decided to postpone the sale of the ring and perfumes until after they get Boulderson healed, though they did reach a sort of agreement for its sale. Then they sold the magical jeweled broadsword to Mazzahs the Magnificent for the unimaginable sum of 500pp, which they though was a huge sum of money - not knowing that its value is 1,000pp.

Loaded with platinum, they made their way to Ironguard Motte, where Father Fergus - a level 9 Cleric in my version of Barrowmaze - cast Restore Life and Limb on Boulderson. Again, the lucky Craft Priest paid only a small price for his near-death experience - only recurring nightmares (a sleepless night on a roll of 1 on 1d6).

XP was wonderful and Angus reached level 1 - as a Dwarven Fury! The two other dwarves are about one-third of their way to level 2.

All in all - wonderful fun! Eliran remarked: "This game brought me 20 years back!"

OSR FTW!

Oh, and the local Dragon was out and about as well!

Our local (wild) Painted Dragon - Stellagama stellio stellio

Monday, November 13, 2017

Barrowmaze ACKSified!


I will start running Barrowmaze Complete the coming Friday to three of my friends - all of them playing Dwarves! I am using the ACKS ruleset, which emphasizes realm building and demographics, especially as high-level PCs can become actual rulers. So here I will flesh out the Aerik County (using ACKS demographics, it's too small to be a proper Duchy) and modify it to suit the ACKS rules. I will also add several new minor adventuring locations in case my players will want to take a break from Barrowmaze itself. I also changed the map from 5-mile hexes to 6-mile hexes as is customary in ACKS.

The Aerik County is 18 six-mile hexes in size, which is a small County. In the past, it was 27 hexes, a much larger County. However, the moribund Empire receded, and so did the County. What was once a prosperous frontier County shipping timber and ore to Imperial lands is now a shadow of itself. The Yellow Plague ravaged it a decade ago. Lizardmen and froglings - and worse - now threaten its residents. Viscount Ironguard, an aging knight, functions as the de-facto sovereign ruler despite owing de jure fealty to the Empire. Greatly shrunk in size and wracked by internecine warfare, the Empire can neither project military force to this County nor collect taxes from it.

This region is very sparsely populated. Between economic decline, frogling raids, and the devastating Yellow Plague, the County of Aerik declined from an average of 40 families per square mile to 30 families (200 families per 6-mile hex). The total population is 3,720 families. The plague and raids hit the rural population harder than the larger villages. Furthermore, given the frogling, lizardman, and bandit threat, many peasants prefer to huddle closer to the larger villages, where the Viscount's men offer some protection. Thus, the urban population is unusually large - 520 families out of 3,720. Most of these families practice agriculture, logging, and mining near the main three villages.

The County seat, and largest village, is Ironguard Motte. It is a Large Village of 261 families (1,304 people), a Class-V market. The ruler is, of course, Viscount Kell Ironguard, a level 7 retired fighter.

Bogtown is a Small Village of 87 families (431 people), a Class-VI market. It is ruled, de jure, by Elderman Herik Anguson, a level 5 thief. The true ruler, however, is the County's criminal kingpin, Alzo Danuth, a level 6 thief. This, ironically, makes the tiny Bogtown a better-defended village than the much larger Helix. Any would-be invader will have to content with the local gangsters - a motley crew of tough thugs.

Helix is a Village of 172 families (860 people), a Class-IV market. Its ruler is Krothos Ironguard, a level 3 fighter. He is particularly weak and unskilled for the ruler of such village. Father Othar, the Cleric of the Unconquered Sun (level 5 cleric), holds much of the actual power and oversees the lion's share of village administration. Such weak leadership, as well as the small contingent of men-at-arms, makes Helix a prime target to bandits, lizardmen, and froglings. It also makes it a perfect target for ambitious would-be conquering adventurers who want to be kings.

The County is considered Wilderness and thus should have had a garrison budget of 4gp/family per month, but in practice the forces are much thinner, equivalent to approximately 2gp value per family per month, for an actual  total of 7,570gp per month. Out of these, the Viscount has at his disposal a unit of Light Cavalry (60 horsemen, 2,850gp, battle rating 3.5), a unit of bowmen (120 bowmen, 1,450gp, battle rating 1.5), and 3 units of light infantry (120 men each, 720gp each, total 360 men, 3,270gp, battle rating 1 each). (using Domains at War: Campaigns troop tables, these include specialist salaries). A total of 540 men, battle rating 8. Knowing the risk of attack, Viscount Ironguard keeps his forces concentrated at the castrum of Ironguard Motte. Only one unit of men-at-arms - light infantry - patrol the rural areas and serve as town guards in Helix and Bogtown. In case of an attack on one of these villages, the Viscount will dispatch a larger contingent of troops to counter it, but will keep his cavalry and one infantry unit at the Motte to guard against further attacks.

This force is weak, as even a force of 240 lizardmen have a battle rating of 9. If the lizardmen will ever launch a concerted attack on Ironguard Motte, they will pose a dire threat to the realm. Thankfully, so far tribalism and disorganization prevented such an attack, but if a strong leader will arise in the swamp, great peril will come to the Aerik County.

St. Marcus used to be part of the Aerik County. However, economic decline, raids, and the Plague brought about Viscount Ironguard's retreat from this Small Village (Class-VI market). The local population is 76 families (380 people). A decade ago, before the Plague came, the population was triple that figure, and now most of the village stands boarded up and abandoned. Abbot Kasimir, head of the nearby Monastery of St. Marcus (level 3 Cleric) administers the village. I can set my The Rot Beneath adventure here, if the PCs will want to take a break from Barrowmaze and pursue another adventure for some time.

I have added an abandoned town called Mountainside in southern Wyrdwood, and well as a small abandoned Dwarven Vault called Krum Tok in the southern Moon Peaks. I have three Dwarven characters so an abandoned vault will fit in very well as a side quest. In my larger setting, the Empire receded, which led to the decline of the Aerik County as well. Thus, Mountainside was abandoned, especially after the nearby Vault fell. After all, Mountainside was an important stop on the trade route from the Vault to Ironguard Motte.

Mountainside probably became a Frogling nest (or maybe contested between Froglings and Lizardmen?), while the vault is inhabited by something worse. Maybe an Aboleth? A Dwarven Mechinist Automaton possessed by a vile Elemental spirit?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Got a License!

Got my Ground Car-0 skill!

Up until early 2016, I thought that, due to a medical condition, I was forbidden to drive. Then I found out that this condition *DOES NOT* prohibit driving. So I started learning how to drive.

And now - here is my license!

(temporary paper license - I will get the photo ID plastic version in 1-3 months)


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Draconid Racial Templates - UPDATED AND CORRECTED!












Thanks to Fabio Milito Pagliara for his input! Below is the updated and corrected version of the rules.

Born from manipulation of dragon eggs by ambitious sorcerers searching for the perfect shock-troops and bodyguards, the Draconid blends human and dragon blood and carries the soul of a drake. Eventually escaping from their masters and breeding among themselves and with lizardmen, they now roam the world. Only a few of them still exist, despite this limited attempts at reproduction.

The draconid inherited the humanoid shape and mortality of its human progenitors, but also the magnificent reptilian might of its dragon blood and soul. He is terrifying on the battlefield, and often fierce in sorcery. However, his exact heritage determines his personality - from the shining heroism of a metallic dragon (the rarest type of draconid progenitor) to the burning greed of a red dragon or the vile cunning of a black dragon.

Requirements:

A draconid must have Strength and Intelligence of at least 12 each.

Class category values:

Fighting: certain levels of draconid add a bonus to the character's Fighting value.
Divine: a draconid may not have a Divine value above 1.
Arcane: certain levels of draconid add a bonus to the character's Arcane value.

Draconid 0 (600XP):
  • Breath Weapons: once per day, the draconid may use a breath weapon which causes 1d4 damage per level of experience. the heritage list below details these weapons (200XP).
  • Energy Resistance: the draconid is resistance to one form of energy: acid, poison, fire, cold, or electricity, depending on his dragon ancestry. The character is immune to mundane versions of this damage - for example a character with Fire Resistance will be immune to regular fires - and enjoys a +4 bonus to saving throws against magical versions of this energy (such as fireballs in the example above).  See the heritage list below for details (150XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d2-1/1d2-1/1d4-1 (100XP)
  • Inhumanity: a draconid instills awe and fear in common mortals, and therefore suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans, but gets a a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of draconids, dragons, and lizardmen (0XP).
  • Longevity: The character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +1 (50XP).
  • Speaks the language of Dragons and enjoys 3 more bonus languages (50XP).

Draconid 1 (1,200XP):
  • Draconid 0 (600XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d3-1/1d3-1/1d6-1 (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +2, speed -30' (50XP).
  • Superior Fighting: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Fighting value (500XP)
Draconid 2 (1,500XP):
  • Draconid 1 (1,200XP). 
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d3-1/1d3-1/1d8-1 (50XP).
  • Flying: The draconid gains a flying movement rate of 30' per turn (250XP).
Draconid 3 (2,200XP - rounded up from 2,175):
  • Draconid 2 (1,500XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d4-1/1d4-1/1d8-1 (50XP).
  • Superior Sorcery: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Arcane value (625XP).
Draconid 4 (2,700XP - rounded down from 2,725):
  • Draconid 3 (2,175XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d4-1/1d4-1/1d10-1 (50XP).
  • Superior Fighting: the draconid enjoys +2 to his Fighting value (500XP).
Additional XP per level after level 9: 51,000.

Draconid heritage list:
  • Metallic Dragon heritage: bronze, silver, electrum, or gold scales. Breath weapon is a 30’ long, 10’ wide cone of fire. The fire ignites combustibles and damages objects in the area. It can melt metals with low melting points, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, and bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the breath may continue beyond the barrier in order to attain its full volume. Resistant to fire.
  • Red Dragon heritage: flame-red, burnt orange, or charcoal scales. Breath weapon is a 30’ long, 10’ wide cone of fire. The fire ignites combustibles and damages objects in the area. It can melt metals with low melting points, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, and bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the breath may continue beyond the barrier in order to attain its full volume. Resistant to fire.
  • Blue Dragon heritage: sky blue, slate grey, or cloud white scales. Breath weapon is a 20’ long, 5’ wide lightning bolt. The bolt can melt metals with a low melting point, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, or bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the bolt may continue beyond the barrier. Resistant to electricity.
  • White Dragon heritage: ivory, pearl, or snow white scales. Breath weapon is a 30’ long, 10’ wide cloud of freezing vapor. For one round after the draconid breathes, the area of effect is partly obscured by the billowing vapors, steam, or dust. Attacks into or through the area suffer a -2 penalty. Resistant to cold.
  • Green Dragon heritage: moss green, olive, or forest green scales. Breath weapon is a 10’ by 10’ cloud of poison vapor. For one round after the draconid breathes, the area of effect is partly obscured by the billowing vapors, steam, or dust. Attacks into or through the area suffer a -2 penalty. Resistant to poison.
  • Black Dragon heritage: green-grey, midnight green, or black scales. The breath weapon is a 20’ long, 5’ wide line of acid. The acid stream will burn through wooden or metal barriers and continue beyond them to its full length. The acid can corrode metal, wood, and cloth it touches, but cannot harm stone. Resistant to acid.

TSAO flavor text - Terran wartime song - Let our Gauss guns speak!

"Lidia" Thiragin* used to rule us
And our sons and daughters to abduct.
"She" had ther claws on our throat -
Now it's time for our Gauss guns to speak!

"Lidia" Thiragin demands
That we surrender to her rule.
"She" sends her saucers to subdue us -
In reply, our Gauss guns speak!

"Lidia" Thiragin ordered Cicek
To charge at our soldiers.
But the Cicek are no fools -
In reply, their Gauss guns speak!

"Lidia" Thiragin sent her saucers
To turn back our fleet.
Our s​pacemen ​answer with missiles -
And we let our Gauss guns speak!

Granny Vera** answered the Greys:
"No surrender, no retreat!"
We have received her orders:
Let your Gauss guns speak!

* Head of the Reticulan House Thiragin which once ruled Terra.
** Terran wartime president Vera Singh.


Purchase These Stars Are Ours!

Download the FREE Primer to These Stars Are Ours!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Draconid racial template for ACKS


x

x
Born from manipulation of dragon eggs by ambitious sorcerers searching for the perfect shock-troops and bodyguards, the Draconid blends human and dragon blood and carries the soul of a drake. Eventually escaping from their masters and breeding among themselves and with lizardmen, they now roam the world. Only a few of them still exist, despite this limited attempts at reproduction.

The draconid inherited the humanoid shape and mortality of its human progenitors, but also the magnificent reptilian might of its dragon blood and soul. He is terrifying on the battlefield, and often fierce in sorcery. However, his exact heritage determines his personality - from the shining heroism of a metallic dragon (the rarest type of draconid progenitor) to the burning greed of a red dragon or the vile cunning of a black dragon.

Requirements:

A draconid must have Strength and Intelligence of at least 12 each.

Class category values:

Fighting: certain levels of draconid add a bonus to the character's Fighting value.
Divine: a draconid may not have a Divine value above 1.
Arcane: certain levels of draconid add a bonus to the character's Arcane value.

Draconid 0 (500XP):
  • Breath Weapons: once per day, the draconid may use a breath weapon which causes 1d4 damage per level of experience. the heritage list below details these weapons (200XP).
  • Energy Resistance: the draconid is resistance to one form of energy: acid, poison, fire, cold, or electricity, depending on his dragon ancestry. The character is immune to mundane versions of this damage - for example a character with Fire Resistance will be immune to regular fires - and enjoys a +4 bonus to saving throws against magical versions of this energy (such as fireballs in the example above).  See the heritage list below for details (150XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d2-1/1d2-1/1d4-1 (100XP)
  • Inhumanity: a draconid instills awe and fear in common mortals, and therefore suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans, but gets a a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of draconids, dragons, and lizardmen (0XP).
  • Longevity: The character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +1 (50XP).
  • Speaks the language of Dragons and enjoys 3 more bonus languages (50XP).

Draconid 1 (1,100XP):
  • Breath Weapons: once per day, the draconid may use a breath weapon which causes 1d4 damage per level of experience. the heritage list below details these weapons (200XP).
  • Energy Resistance: the draconid is resistance to one form of energy: acid, poison, fire, cold, or electricity, depending on his dragon ancestry. The character is immune to mundane versions of this damage - for example a character with Fire Resistance will be immune to regular fires - and enjoys a +4 bonus to saving throws against magical versions of this energy (such as fireballs in the example above).  See the heritage list below for details (150XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d3-1/1d3-1/1d6-1 (150XP).
  • Inhumanity: a draconid instills awe and fear in common mortals, and therefore suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans, but gets a a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of draconids, dragons, and lizardmen (0XP).
  • Longevity: The character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +2, speed -30' (100XP).
  • Speaks the language of Dragons and enjoys 3 more bonus languages (50XP).
  • Superior Fighting: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Fighting value (500XP)

Draconid 2 (1,500XP):
  • Breath Weapons: once per day, the draconid may use a breath weapon which causes 1d4 damage per level of experience. the heritage list below details these weapons (200XP).
  • Energy Resistance: the draconid is resistance to one form of energy: acid, poison, fire, cold, or electricity, depending on his dragon ancestry. The character is immune to mundane versions of this damage - for example a character with Fire Resistance will be immune to regular fires - and enjoys a +4 bonus to saving throws against magical versions of this energy (such as fireballs in the example above).  See the heritage list below for details (150XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d3-1/1d3-1/1d8-1 (200XP).
  • Flying: The draconid gains a flying movement rate of 30' per turn (250XP).
  • Inhumanity: a draconid instills awe and fear in common mortals, and therefore suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans, but gets a a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of draconids, dragons, and lizardmen (0XP).
  • Longevity: The character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +2, speed -30' (100XP).
  • Speaks the language of Dragons and enjoys 3 more bonus languages (50XP).
  • Superior Fighting: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Fighting value (500XP).
Draconid 3 (2,200XP - rounded up from 2,175):
  • Breath Weapons: once per day, the draconid may use a breath weapon which causes 1d4 damage per level of experience. the heritage list below details these weapons (200XP).
  • Energy Resistance: the draconid is resistance to one form of energy: acid, poison, fire, cold, or electricity, depending on his dragon ancestry. The character is immune to mundane versions of this damage - for example a character with Fire Resistance will be immune to regular fires - and enjoys a +4 bonus to saving throws against magical versions of this energy (such as fireballs in the example above).  See the heritage list below for details (150XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d4-1/1d4-1/1d8-1 (250XP).
  • Flying: The draconid gains a flying movement rate of 30' per turn (250XP).
  • Inhumanity: a draconid instills awe and fear in common mortals, and therefore suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans, but gets a a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of draconids, dragons, and lizardmen (0XP).
  • Longevity: The character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +2, speed -30' (100XP).
  • Speaks the language of Dragons and enjoys 3 more bonus languages (50XP).
  • Superior Fighting: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Fighting value (500XP).
  • Superior Sorcery: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Arcane value (625XP).
Draconid 4 (2,700XP - rounded down from 2,725):
  • Breath Weapons: once per day, the draconid may use a breath weapon which causes 1d4 damage per level of experience. the heritage list below details these weapons (200XP).
  • Energy Resistance: the draconid is resistance to one form of energy: acid, poison, fire, cold, or electricity, depending on his dragon ancestry. The character is immune to mundane versions of this damage - for example a character with Fire Resistance will be immune to regular fires - and enjoys a +4 bonus to saving throws against magical versions of this energy (such as fireballs in the example above).  See the heritage list below for details (150XP).
  • Fangs and Claws: claw/claw/bite attack routine at 1d4-1/1d4-1/1d8-1 (250XP).
  • Flying: The draconid gains a flying movement rate of 30' per turn (250XP).
  • Inhumanity: a draconid instills awe and fear in common mortals, and therefore suffers a -2 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans, but gets a a +2 bonus to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of draconids, dragons, and lizardmen (0XP).
  • Longevity: The character becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. He also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis (50XP).
  • Scaly Hide: AC +2, speed -30' (100XP).
  • Speaks the language of Dragons and enjoys 3 more bonus languages (50XP).
  • Superior Fighting: the draconid enjoys +2 to his Fighting value (1,000XP).
  • Superior Sorcery: the draconid enjoys +1 to his Arcane value (625XP).
Additional XP per level after level 9: 51,000.

Draconid heritage list:
  • Metallic Dragon heritage: bronze, silver, electrum, or gold scales. Breath weapon is a 30’ long, 10’ wide cone of fire. The fire ignites combustibles and damages objects in the area. It can melt metals with low melting points, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, and bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the breath may continue beyond the barrier in order to attain its full volume. Resistant to fire.
  • Red Dragon heritage: flame-red, burnt orange, or charcoal scales. Breath weapon is a 30’ long, 10’ wide cone of fire. The fire ignites combustibles and damages objects in the area. It can melt metals with low melting points, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, and bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the breath may continue beyond the barrier in order to attain its full volume. Resistant to fire.
  • Blue Dragon heritage: sky blue, slate grey, or cloud white scales. Breath weapon is a 20’ long, 5’ wide lightning bolt. The bolt can melt metals with a low melting point, such as lead, gold, copper, silver, or bronze. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the bolt may continue beyond the barrier. Resistant to electricity.
  • White Dragon heritage: ivory, pearl, or snow white scales. Breath weapon is a 30’ long, 10’ wide cloud of freezing vapor. For one round after the draconid breathes, the area of effect is partly obscured by the billowing vapors, steam, or dust. Attacks into or through the area suffer a -2 penalty. Resistant to cold.
  • Green Dragon heritage: moss green, olive, or forest green scales. Breath weapon is a 10’ by 10’ cloud of poison vapor. For one round after the draconid breathes, the area of effect is partly obscured by the billowing vapors, steam, or dust. Attacks into or through the area suffer a -2 penalty. Resistant to poison.
  • Black Dragon heritage: green-grey, midnight green, or black scales. The breath weapon is a 20’ long, 5’ wide line of acid. The acid stream will burn through wooden or metal barriers and continue beyond them to its full length. The acid can corrode metal, wood, and cloth it touches, but cannot harm stone. Resistant to acid.

Flagellant class for ACKS

The followers of the Flayed Lady see pain as the pathway to penitence and spiritual purity. They view martyrdom as the pinnacle of faith a believer can achieve, and wounding of the mortal flesh as a road to clearing one's soul of dark Chaos. Their cleric, therefore, is the flagellant - marching through the corrupt mortal world to call the sinful to repent and flogging her own flesh to ward away the bestial call of the carnal body.

An iconoclast, an enemy of slavers, resentful of the haughty, the flagellant fights with zeal. She may lack the martial training of an ordinary cleric of the Invincible Sun, but makes up to that in burning religious fervor. A simple robe or a leather armor to her skin, she carries her two characteristic flails to rend the flesh of the Chaotic idolater and the mortal tyrant.

Flagellant
Requirement: None
Prime Requisite: WIS and DEX

Class Build
(see the ACKS Player's Companion)
Hit Dice 1 (500XP): 1d6 hit dice.
Fighting 1a (500XP): as a cleric; however:
  • Weapom selection remains at Narrow - bows/crossbows and flails/hammers/maces.
  • Armor selection reduced from Unrestricted to Restricted - hide armor or lighter: 2 powers.
  • Fighting styles: reduced to two weapons (which also allows one weapon without a shield): 1 power.
Divine 2 (500XP): as Cleric.

XP for level 2: 1,500XP.
Attacks, Saving Throws, and Magic Item Use: as a cleric.

Powers: 2 at level 1, another traded for powers at levels 5 and 9.

Level 1:
  • Flagellation: the character can whip herself into a furious religious zeal. She suffers 1 point of damage per level of experience, but gains a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls and becomes immune to fear. The character may not retreat from combat while this lasts. Furthermore, the Judge may rule that she will have to attack, to the best of her lethal ability, the nearest enemy of her faith, even if the player thinks this is not a prudent choice. The zealous fury lasts until the combat ends.
  • Blade-Dancing: The character gains a +1 bonus to Armor Class if wearing leather armor or lighter and able to move freely. At level 7, the AC bonus increases to +2, and at level 13 the AC bonus increases to +3. For flavor, mystics call this power graceful fighting. While Blade-Dancing is similar to taking the Swashbuckling proficiency selected as a custom power, for game balance reasons, consider Blade-Dancing as a separate class power and allow it to stack with Swashbuckling.
Level 5:
  • Martyrdom: upon reaching 0 hit points, the character may choose to remain in full fighting condition, functioning as if she has above-zero hit points, and applying any further damage as negative hit points. She may continue fighting until she reaches a negative number of hit points equal or exceeding her Constitution score, or stays conscious for a number of rounds equal to her level of experience - the sooner between them. Then she falls, unconscious mortally wounded. The price of her sacrifice is that she suffers a penalty of -1 per level of experience to both Mortal Wounds *and* Tampering with Mortality rolls related to that injury.
Level 9:
  • Holy Fervor: Any hirelings of the same religion as the character gain a +1 bonus to their morale score whenever she is present.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Pugilist class build for ACKS

From the ranks of the common folk, a hero sometimes arises who is neither a soldier, nor a sorcerer, but a man of his fists. Whether trained in a martial arts school, experienced in the bloodsports common in rowdy taverns, or master of the bar-room brawl, the pugilist lives by the fist. He never donned heavy mail or trained with a sword. Instead, he learned the art and practice of wrestling and bare-hand fighting. The haughty tyrant or blade-wielding bully underestimate him. He then rewards their hubris with a well-aimed fist to their sneering faces.

Pugilist
Requirement: Strength 9 or better.
Prime Requisite: Strength.




Class Build
(see the ACKS Player's Companion)
Hit Dice 1 (500XP): 1d6 hit dice.
Fighting 1b (500XP): as a thief; however:
  • Armor selection remains at Narrow - leather armor or lighter.
  • Weapon selection reduced from Broad to Restricted - club, dagger, sling, whip: 3 powers.
  • Fighting styles: reduced to two weapons only: 1 power.
Thievery 2 (400XP): 5 skills traded into 5 powers.

XP for level 2: 1,400XP

Powers: 4 at level 1; 2 traded for powers at levels 2, 4, 9; 1 traded to levels 5 and 9; another 1 traded to levels 5 and 9.

So:
level 1: 4 powers
level 2: 1 power
level 4: 1 power
level 5: 2 power
level 9: 3 powers

Power progression:

Level 1:
Combat Trickery (Wrestling).
Fists of Iron: fist/fist attack routine at 1d3-1 each. At level 5, can harm creatures invulnerable to non-magical weapons (i.e. counts as a "magical" attack). Counts as 2 powers.
Legwork: as Blade-Dancing.

Level 2:
Fists of Iron 1d4-1/1d4-1

Level 4:
Fists of Iron 1d6-1/1d6-1

Level 5:
Swashbuckling (stacks with Blade-dancing); AC +1; total AC +2.
Also, as noted above, consider the pugilist's unarmed attacks as "Magical" for the purpose of harming monsters; no additional power cost (subsumed in Fists of Iron).

Level 7:
As noted above, the Legwork and Swashbuckling bonuess to AC increases to +2 each; no additional power cost (subsumed in Legwork). Total AC bonus +4.

Level 9:
Fists of Iron 1d8-1/1d8-1
Fighting Fury: at will, the character can enter a fighting fury. While furious, the character gains a +2 bonus to damage rolls and becomes immune to fear. However, the character cannot retreat from combat. Once it has begun, a fighting fury cannot be ended until combat ends. Counts as 2 powers.

Level 13:
As noted above, the Legwork and Swashbuckling bonuses to AC increases to +3 each; no additional power cost (subsumed in Legwork). Total AC bonus +6.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Vera Singh - first President of the United Terran Republic

A bit of flavor and background for These Stars Are Ours! - Stellagama Publishing's space-opera setting for the Cepheus Engine and other 2D6 OGL Sci-Fi games.
President Vera Singh
of the United Terran Republic
art by Anthony Suorez

Vera Singh (2182-2255) was the United Terran Republic's founding (grand)mother, or "Granny Vera" as many Terrans refer to her - the UTR's first president and before that leader of the resistance fighting for Terra's freedom from its old Reticulan masters.

She was born in 2182 and fought in the Chiwak Wars, in the Terran Expeditionary Army which back then was an auxiliary force for the Reticulan Empire. She enlisted in 2200 and mustered out in 2216 as a Sergeant after four terms of service. From there she ended up in the Returnees' Circles and the Resistance. She suffered some serious injuries at the war, leaving her scarred. Official portraits are typically from the mid-2230's, in the early War, when she was in her 50's. She died at a very young age in 23rd century terms (73 - the average Terran life span, combat deaths aside, is well above 100) in 2255, possibly from lingering inoperable injuries from her combat days against the Chiwak.

Hero of Terran Reconstruction Medal
Highest Terran non-combat award.
Bearing President Singh's portrait.
art by Anthony Suorez
The term "Granny Vera" also refers to the UTR government as a whole, as she became a symbol of the UTR and, during her tenure, synonymous with it. The current President Shen dislikes this, and so does his administrator, but people's sentiments are a stubborn thing. Singh's face is also on the Cr10 bill, which has earned it the nickname "Granny", i.e. "I'll give you five grannies for this, i.e. Cr50 in five Cr10 bills.

So raise a toast to ol' Vera and the Republic she has built!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Shanah Tova - Stellagama Publishing Jewish New Year Sale!

Stellagama Publishing wishes you all Shana Tova - Happy Jewish New Year. For the occasion, we offer a 25% discount off our products from now until September 24th, 2017. Setting material is at %30 discount as part of the September Setting DriveThruRPG sale!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cepheus Engine Variant Rules: Grunts, Mobs, and Monsters


Yesterday I posted Classic Traveller variant rules for Grunts, Mobs, and Monsters and I have been requested to convert them to the Cepheus Engine. So here is the Cepheus version of these rules!

Anyhow, sometimes the Referee would want to create a situation in which the player characters face a large number of undisciplined, unskilled combatants - an angry mob of locals with torches and pitchforks, looters in a disaster - or even a zombie horde! As per the Cepheus Engine combat rules, as written, this will create much paperwork and die rolls as each member of a mob suffers wounds to their characteristics and makes their attack rolls at the DM-3 "unskilled" level.

I wrote the following variant rules to reduce that paperwork and die-rolling load and thus facilitate situations in which skilled PCs face a large number of unskilled or minimally skilled combatants. Additionally, I added rules for relentless monsters which do not easily die from accumulated wounds.

Streamlined Armor
The Cepheus Engine uses the default armor system from the 2D6 Sci-Fi SRD. That system presents armor as a damage absorber - i.e. it subtracts the target's armor rating from any attack's damage. For the sake of simplicity when dealing with the combatants presented in this blog post, I propose a simpler armor system. Under that variant system, armor does not absorb damage but rather incurs a negative DM to incoming attack rolls, as presented in the following table:

Armor TypeTo-Hit DM
Jack-0/-1*
Mesh-1
Flak-2
Reflec-0/-8**
Cloth-3
Combat-6

* The first number is against ranged attacks, the second against melee attacks.
* The first number is against non-laser attacks, the second against laser attacks.

Mobs
A mob is a number of untrained irregulars who lack adequate combat training or tactical awareness. They may be enraged or even fanatical, but will typically rush at their enemies instead of employing a more cautious tactical approach. As noted above, the classical "low-tech local peasants chasing the spacemen with pitchforks and torches" or "zombie apocalypse" are good examples of this theme.

Each mob includes up to 12 members. In many cases there will be multiple mobs involved. Do not track individual characteristics, damage, or skills of mob members. The mob moves as one unit. It makes a single attack roll per round. Make this roll at an effective "Skill-0", with DM+1 for every four active members in the mob, or part of four. Thus, a big mob of 12 members will attack at base DM+3, modified, of course, by weapon and range DMs; a mob of 5 members will attack at base DM+2. Make the attack as if the mob is one character; use automatic fire or shotgun rules as usual. While the entire gang might be unloading a hail of bullets, these shots are badly aimed and only a few have a chance of striking true.

PCs attack the mob as if it is one target. Most mobs are either unarmored or wearing Jack or Mesh armor; apply DMs accordingly. A non-automatic ranged attack which hits the mob incapacitates one member; if its Effect is +4 or better, it incapacitates two members, one from the bullet and another from "Shock & Awe". When autofire, a shotgun, or a grenade hit a mob, a number mob members equal to the attack's Effect are incapacitated. Obviously, as with single shots, "incapacitated" does not necessarily mean "killed by a bullet" but rather "out of the fight" - killed, wounded, or maybe just shocked enough to be ineffective in fighting. The latter is the reason why autofire can incapacitate above 4 mob members while a Cepheus Engine autofire burst only contains 4 bullets.

Mobs are much more dangerous in melee, with a to-hit DM+1 per 2 members rather than per 4, and making two attacks per round rather than one. When skilled characters fights a mob in melee, they "cleave" - each hit incapacitates a number of mob members equal to the attack's Effect, up to the character's relevant melee skill.

Mobs rarely fight well under fire. In any of the following cases, throw 5+ for the mob to disperse in panic and be effectively removed from the fight. This number rises to 8+ for frenzied mobs. Fanatical mobs are immune to this effect and will continue swarming the PCs regardless of death. Reasons for such morale throws include:
  • The first time the mob comes under ranged fire.
  • The first time the mob loses a member.
  • When the mob first falls to half or less of its size.
  • Each time the mob is attacked with flames, explosives, or similar shocking attack.
  • When first attacked by armored vehicles or troops in battledress.
A "Rabble Rouser" character with the Leadership skill may attempt to rally a dispersed mob by a Leadership, INT, Difficult (DM-2) throw.

Grunts
Conscripts out of basic training, as well as street criminals with some combat experience, fight far better than a mob of rabble. Whoever, they still are not a match for professionals. Grunts fight individually, as per the standard rules, including movement and attacks. However, they have a total DM+0 base modifier (from skill, characteristics, etc) to hit targets, subject to armor DMs and range difficulty. Any attack which hits a grunt incapacitates them. Grunts use morale laws as above, with a throw of 8+ (apply any sergeant's or officer's Leadership skill as a -DM to this throw); this roll refers to the grunts' unit or squad, which may be broken

The Referee might also want to consider various small-to-medium-sized wild animals, but not apex predators or particularly large animals, as grunts.

Monsters
Sometimes, felling a monster is not a simple matter of riddling it with bullets or chopping it one piece at a time - it just keeps fighting! In this case, attack the monster as per the Cepheus Engine rules, and roll damage on a hit. However, do not count accumulated damage. Instead, ignore any attack which does 14 or less damage. Any attack doing 15 or more damage kills the monster. For particularly fearsome monsters, make that 16 or less damage; this monstrosity will continue fighting even under a hail of bullets until a lucky attacks rolls 17+ damage (which is unlikely on the typical gun with 3D6 damage).

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Classic Traveller Variant Rules: Grunts, Mobs, and Monsters

Art by JoakimOlofsson
Classic Traveller has wonderful combat rules, among my favorites in the entire tabletop RPG world. They work wonderfully well when small teams of relatively skilled combatants - or predatory animals - face each other in pitched combat, with guns blazing and lasers glowing.

However, sometimes the Referee would want to create a situation in which the player characters face a large number of undisciplined, unskilled combatants - an angry mob of locals with torches and pitchforks, looters in a disaster - or even a zombie horde! In the Classic Traveller combat system, as written, this will create much paperwork and die rolls as each member of a mob suffers wounds to their characteristics and makes their attack rolls at the DM-5 "unskilled" level.

I wrote the following variant rules to reduce that paperwork and die-rolling load and thus facilitate situations in which skilled PCs face a large number of unskilled or minimally skilled combatants. Additionally, I added rules for relentless monsters which do not easily die from accumulated wounds.

Mobs
A mob is a number of untrained irregulars who lack adequate combat training or tactical awareness. They may be enraged or even fanatical, but will typically rush at their enemies instead of employing a more cautious tactical approach. As noted above, the classical "low-tech local peasants chasing the spacemen with pitchforks and torches" or "zombie apocalypse" are good examples of this theme.

Each mob includes up to 12 members. In many cases there will be multiple mobs involved. Do not track individual characteristics, damage, or skills of mob members. The mob moves as one unit. It makes a single attack roll per round. Make this roll at an effective "Skill-0", with DM+1 for every four active members in the mob, or part of four. Thus, a big mob of 12 members will attack at base DM+3, modified, of course, by weapon and range DMs; a mob of 5 members will attack at base DM+2. Make the attack as if the mob is one character; apply automatic fire or shotgun rules as usual. While the entire gang might be unloading a hail of bullets, these shots are badly aimed and only a few have a chance of striking true.

PCs attack the mob as if it is one target. Most mobs are either unarmored or wearing Jack or Mesh armor; apply DMs accordingly. A non-automatic ranged attack which hits the mob incapacitates one member. When autofire, a shotgun, or a grenade hit a mob, throw 1d6; this is the number of mob members who fall. When using a flamethrower or machine gun, throw 2d6. Obviously, "incapacitated" does not necessarily mean "killed by a bullet" but rather "out of the fight" - killed, wounded, or maybe just shocked enough to be ineffective in fighting. The latter is the reason why autofire can incapacitate up to 6 mob members while a Classic Traveller autofire burst only contains 4 bullets.

Mobs are much more dangerous in melee, with a to-hit DM+1 per 2 members rather than per 4, and making two attacks per round rather than one. When skilled characters fights a mob in melee, they "cleave" - each hit incapacitates a number of mob members equal to the skilled character's relevant melee skill.
Mobs rarely fight well under fire. In any of the following cases, throw 5+ for the mob to disperse in panic and be effectively removed from the fight. This number rises to 8+ for frenzied mobs. Fanatical mobs are immune to this effect and will continue swarming the PCs regardless of death. Reasons for such morale throws include:
  • The first time the mob comes under ranged fire.
  • The first time the mob loses a member.
  • When the mob first falls to half or less of its size.
  • Each time the mob is attacked with fire, explosives, or similar shocking attack.
  • When first attacked by armored vehicles or troops in battledress.


Grunts
Conscripts out of basic training, as well as street criminals with some combat experience, fight far better than a mob of rabble. Whoever, they still are not a match for professionals. Grunts fight individually, as per the standard rules, including movement and attacks. However, they have a total DM+0 base modifier (from skill, characteristics, etc) to hit targets, subject to armor and range DMs. Any attack which hits a grunt incapacitates them. Note that Classic Traveller Book 1 Morale applies to grunts.

The Referee might also want to consider various small-to-medium-sized wild animals, but not apex predators or particularly large animals, as grunts.

Monsters
Sometimes, felling a monster is not a simple matter of riddling it with bullets or chopping it one piece at a time - it just keeps fighting! In this case, attack the monster as per the Classic Traveller Book 1 rules, and roll damage on a hit. However, do not count accumulated damage. Instead, ignore any attack which does 14 or less damage. Any attack doing 15 or more damage kills the monster. For particularly fearsome monsters, make that 16 or less damage; this monstrosity will continue fighting even under a hail of bullets until a lucky attacks rolls 17+ damage (which is unlikely on the typical gun with 3D damage).

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Quick and Dirty Classic Traveller vehicle combat- UPDATED

Eleven months ago, I posted simple Classic Traveller vehicle combat rules. Following feedback and playtesting, especially by Robert Weaver of Ancient Faith in the Far Future fame, I revised the rules and added a few clarifications. Enjoy!

I have written these rules with the typical Books 1-3 Proto-Traveller spirit in mind. That is, for the purpose of including vehicles in the various adventures and mishaps of interstellar travellers, traders, scouts, and misfits, as well as small-scale mercenaries. I did not aim in any way to simulate large-scale armored warfare but rather to provide some basic rules for what happens when your Scout empties his Submachinegun at a hovering Air/Raft or, at most when a mercenary shoots a RAM grenade at an AFV.

I drew inspiration for these rules from the Book 2 ship damage rules, the ATV rules in Double Adventure 2: Mission to Mithril/Across the Bright Face, and for a much lesser degree, the Striker wargame.

Skill Notation
For the ease of reference, "Throw Mechanic 8+" means "throw 2D and add the Mechanics skill; a result of 8+ is a success" and so on.

Vehicle Movement and Chases
Vehicle combat is either Tactical or Chase Combat. Tactical Combat is ordinary Book 1 combat with a vehicle included, usually moving at a slow pace of up to 4 range bands per round. On the other hand, Chase Combat ignores terrain for the most part and involves two or more vehicles chasing each other. This also uses range bands, though they are far wider than those involved in Tactical Combat; their exact length is abstract. Throw the appropriate Vehicle (or Air/Raft or ATV) skill at 8+ to either get further from the opposing vehicle by one range band or get closer to it by one range band. The driver or pilot may also throw 10+ once per round with the appropriate skill (DM +2 if DEX 10+) for a better position - that is, either gain DM +2 to hit the opposition or force a -2 DM on the enemy's to-hit rolls on him. Vehicles who leave the Very Long range band disengage and the pursued vehicle escapes. Particularly slow vehicles such as Tracked ATVs suffer a -2 DM to such maneuvering rolls, while fast vehicles such as Air/Rafts enjoy DM +2. Extremely fast airborne vehicles such as Speeders and Jet Aircraft use the aircraft hit rules below.

Hitting Vehicles
Hitting a vehicle with a man-portable weapon is an ordinary combat task. Throw 8+ to hit, add the appropriate weapon skill and characteristic DMs, as well as range DMs. Ignore armor DMs as I have covered the effects of vehicle armor in the tables below. Vehicle-mounted weapons use the Gunnery skill instead and the appropriate range modifiers. On a hit, consult the appropriate damage table.

Hitting a fast-moving vehicle suffers DM -2. You cannot hit fast, high-flying aircraft without specialized tracking weapons, but you can hit a slower aircraft, albeit at DM -2 to -4 (Referee's discretion, depending on flight altitude or speed).

Vehicle Damage
To keep things within a Little Black Book scope and flavor, these rules abstract the many types of weapons and armor into three broad categories each. Use the following table to see how each category of weapons affects each category of vehicle armor and choose the appropriate damage table to roll on. Each weapon his causes one roll on the appropriate damage table.

Soft SkinLight ArmorHeavy Armor
Small ArmsSurfaceNoneNone
Support WeaponCriticalInternalSurface
Heavy WeaponDestroyedCriticalInternal

Small Arms: any regular personal weapons, whether a slug-thrower or a laser. All Book 1 weapons are Small Arms, as are the various rifles and pistols in Book 4. Light and medium machine guns also fall into this category.

Support Weapons: heavier man-portable weapons carried at the squad level or light vehicle weapons - such as Book 4 PGMPs, heavy machine guns, autocannons, Light Assault Guns (AKA Anti-Tank Rifles) with High Explosive or Discarding Sabot rounds. Most grenades, whether hand-thrown or RAM, fall into this category as well, including grenade launchers.

Heavy Weapons: full-scale anti-armor weapons. This includes Book 4 FGMPs and Book 4 Field Artillery. The specialized anti-armor HEAP RAM grenades also fall into this category.

Soft Skin: an unarmored vehicle, whether civilian or military. In Book 3 terms, this includes the Ground Car, Hovercraft, all Winged craft, Air/Raft, Speeder, and Motorboat.

Light Armor: a lightly-armored vehicle such as an armored car or light APC. In Book 3 terms, this includes the ATV and G-Carrier.

Heavy Armor: a heavily armored vehicle, such as a heavy APC (or IFV) or a tank. In book 3 terms, this includes the AFV, the Steamship, and the Submersible (due to size rather than armor for the most part).

For damage, roll on the appropriate tables below:

Surface Damage
2d6Damage
2-5Bounced Off
6-7Device
8-9Locomotion
10Breach
11Weapon
12Internal Damage

Small Arms surface damage: light small arms such as handguns roll with a -2 DM on the above table, while lasers and heavy small arms such as machine guns or Autorifles roll with a +2 DM.

Bounce Off: Shot has bounced off the vehicle's skin or armor. No damage.

Device: One secondary external device, such as a light fixture or antenna, was destroyed (Referee's discretion).

Locomotion: The vehicle's locomotion, such as wheels, treads, or propeller, was damaged. Ground vehicles lose half their speed from the first Locomotion hit, and stop completely with the second hit. In case of a single-engine aircraft, this might cause a crash; throw Vehicle (Winged Craft) 8+ to land safely (DM +2 if DEX 10+), otherwise this is a crash causing a roll on the Critical Damage table. In case of multi-engine aircraft, this causes a -1 DM to all Vehicle (Winged Craft) rolls per disabled engine and will be at risk of a crash if all engines are disabled. Grav vehicles have enclosed grav-lift modules and are immune to this case of damage. Watercraft will be dead in the water and subject to currents and drift until the characters repair its locomotion. Throw Mechanic 8+ to repair damaged locomotion.

Breach: If the vehicle is pressurized, its environmental seal is breached, exposing its occupants to the environment. Can be repaired with a vacuum seal patch or a Mechanic 6+ throw.

A breached watercraft begins to leak, reducing its speed by one quarter and inflicting a cumulative -1 DM to all throws related to the vehicle's steering. Four such breach hits will cause the watercraft to take in water and begin to sink. This only applies to small watercraft; large ships such as Steamships and the larger Submersibles stay afloat from such minor breaches. Only a Knocked Out critical result (see below) will sink such large craft.

Weapon: One of the vehicle's weapons is disabled and may not fire. AFV (and other tank) main cannons are immune to this in most cases, but their secondary weapons are not. Throw Gunnery 8+ to repair a disabled weapon.

Internal Damage: Lucky penetrating hit! Roll on the Internal Damage table!

Internal Damage
2d6Damage
2-5Transmission or Suspension
6-7Crew
8-9Electronics
10Main Weapon
11Power Plant
12Critical

Transmission or Suspension: The vehicle's transmission or suspension is damaged. A wheeled or tracked vehicle is immobilized. A Grav vehicle may only move up or down. For aircraft, throw Vehicle (Winged Craft) 11+ to land safely (DM +2 if DEX 10+), otherwise this is a crash causing a roll on the Critical Damage table. Field repairs of damaged transmission or suspension are difficult and require a Mechanic 10+ throw (DM +1 for INT 10+). At a workshop, this throw is easier, at Mechanic 8+.

Crew: 1d6 crewmembers are injured at 3D damage each.

Electronics: One or more of the vehicle's electronic systems is destroyed, usually the control systems or major sensors/radar. Flying an aircraft or Grav vehicle with damaged electronics suffers DM -2. Throw Electronics 8+ to repair damaged electronics.

Main Weapon: The vehicle's main weapon is damaged and disabled. This includes AFV (or other tank) main cannons. Throw Gunnery 10+ to repair a disabled weapon.

Power Plant: The vehicle's power plant takes a direct hit and the vehicle is disabled. Each occupant must throw 8+ (DM +1 for END 8+) to avoid taking 3D damage. In case of a aircraft or grav vehicles, this might cause a crash; throw Vehicle (Winged Craft) or Air/Raft 10+ to land safely (DM +2 if DEX 10+), otherwise this is a crash causing a roll on the Critical Damage table. This cannot be repaired on the field.

Critical: Massive damage. Roll on the Critical Damage table.

Critical Damage
1d6Damage
1-2Knocked Out
3-4Crew
5-6Destroyed

Knocked Out: The vehicle is rendered completely and irreparably inoperable. Furthermore, each occupant must throw 8+ (DM +1 for END 8+) to avoid taking 3D damage. Aircraft crash, causing 6D damage to all occupants. Low-flying Grav vehicles crash, causing 3D damage to all occupants; if they are flying at a high altitude or at high speed, this increases to 6D damage. Watercraft, include large ones, suffer massive hull breaches and will sink within 1d6 combat rounds.


Crew: All crew suffer 6D damage each.

Destroyed: Vehicle destroyed. On ground vehicles, crew must throw 10+ (DM +2 for DEX 10+) to bail out with "only" 6D damage. Otherwise, they are killed immediately.

Optional Rules
The following rules are somewhat more complex than those above; the Referee should use them at her discretion.

Technology and Penetration: Higher-tech weapons tend to better penetrate lower-tech armor, and higher-tech armor tends to offer better protection against lower-tech weapons. If you use this optional rule, if the weapon has a higher TL than the target vehicle, consider it as being one "category" higher, that is - Support Weapons behave as Heavy Weapons. This does not apply, however, to Small Arms, except for Book 1 Laser weapons and the various Book 4 weapons using specialized armor-piercing ammunition. Conversely, if the weapon has a lower TL than the target vehicle, consider it as being one "category" lower - for example, Support Weapons behave as Small Arms. Weapons "shifted" above the Heavy Weapons "category" will destroy the target on a successful hit. Weapons "shifted" below the Small Arms "category" are ineffective.

Called Shots: Many armored vehicles have weak spots. If you use this optional rule, if the Referee rules that the character knows of a specific vehicle's weaknesses, the character may roll to attack at DM -2 to hit a weak spot. Characters may only do so up to Medium range unless using guided or tracking weapons. If the attack hits, consider the damage as done by one "category" of weapon higher, that is - Support Weapons behave as Heavy Weapons. This does not apply, however, to Small Arms, except for Book 1 Laser weapons and the various Book 4 weapons using specialized armor-piercing ammunition. Discovering an enemy vehicle's weaknesses may be an adventure of its own; alternatively, the Referee may call for a throw of Tactics 10+ (DM +1 for INT 9+) to discover the target's weaknesses by observation and deduction. Note that also in this case, weapons "shifted" above the Heavy Weapons "category" will destroy the target on a successful hit.

You may now download these rules in PDF format from HERE.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Happy World Lizard Day!


Today is World Lizard Day! I love lizards! A whole gang of wild Mediterranean House Geckos lives on my garden and walls, as well as a couple of Stellagama dragons!

Also, Stellagama Publishing celebrates this day by providing two of its products, These Stars Are Ours! (home to the lizard-like Cicek) and Zeta & Tuko, at a 30% discount until August 16th, 2017!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Borderlands Adventure 1: Wreck in the Ring

Stellagama Publishing is proud to present:

Borderlands Adventure 1: Wreck in the Ring

The interstellar transport Tallmadge's Splendor crashed on an asteroid moonlet of a remote gas giant in a barely-explored frontier system. Twenty-four years later, a belter hires some intrepid adventurers to help him salvage the wreck. Navigating and inspecting a dead ship – most of which is in hard vacuum – is not an easy job. Worse, the belter's team members have ulterior motives, and something is still alive aboard the doomed spacecraft.

Wreck in the Ring is an old-school deep space exploration adventure for 3-5 PCs, using the Cepheus Engine rules and fully compatible with any 2D6 OGL Sci-Fi game. The default setting is the Parvati system, on the very edge of Terran space, in the These Stars Are Ours! setting published by Stellagama Publishing. However, it will fit very easily into almost any interstellar sci-fi setting.

The PCs should have a variety of shipboard skills, whether they have their own ship or not. Mechanical, Engineering, and Zero-G skill will be most helpful for this job. 

Get it HERE!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

On Star Empires

So how does a Star Empire work? This question was recently asked in a Traveller-related Facebook group. For your reading pleasure, here is an edited version of my reply there.

The advantage of a hereditary ruling caste is relative stability. Sure, there are intrigues and some internecine warfare, but as a whole, the people (or aliens) who run the system have interests going many generations into the future and thus a stake in maintaining the status-quo. Plans are long-term and projects suffer from less interruptions. One stable form is the "Zaibatsu" type of system of a few large monopolist corporations run by great noble houses with hereditary managers and owners. This also stabilizes the economy as a great houses' business partners and rivals are the same families for decades or centuries - you can "pre-arrange" trade and agreements and keep surprises to a minimum.

The big disadvantage is that such a system places a ceiling to a commoner's progress in life and social station, no matter how talented or ambitious he is. When the system works well, it compensates by great house patronage of various artists and scientists, though this still offers less opportunities than a meritocracy. When it works badly, the system breeds incompetence and blocks innovation.

The most stable, but also most stagnant, system is one run by long-living nobles using anagathics to rule for centuries. Rulers plan for the very long term and act consistently for centuries, but also remain the same people with the same ideas and ways of thinking.

In These Stars Are Ours!, the Reticulan ("Grey Alien") Empire is such a polity. Nobles receive a special kind of longevity treatment which allows them to live for centuries - and in some cases almost a millennium. Competent commoners or those with psionic potential can rise to the Gentry - lesser nobility - but cannot go beyond it. The upper crust of Reticulan Imperial society is strictly hereditary and with life expectancies measured in centuries.

This system was stable for millennia. It brought the Reticulans to a stable, powerful empire with enormous TL13 wealth. The downside was that in recent centuries, the Empire ossified to such an extent that it blocked innovation and resisted change. For many commoners, this state of affairs was good - after all, thralls (such as the Terrans) bore the main brunt of fighting the Empire's enemies, while most Reticulans did not suffer from war or poverty and enjoyed an excellent quality of life. Many scientists and engineers, however, resented such a system in which their work and creativity were harshly restricted, and where the practically-immortal ruling caste was hostile to new ideas.

This gave birth to the Technocratic movement - an underground movement desiring a highly meritocratic society run by scientists, engineers, and mavericks based on competence and innovation. This ideology fermented in the shadows for centuries, but boiled into open rebellion when Terrans threw away the Imperial yoke. Now the Empire has to contend with the aggressive Terran upstarts (a republic - militaristic but quite meritocratic), as well as with the Technate created by the Technocratic Movement on Reticulan worlds conquered by the Terrans... And the constant threat of additional Technocratic revolts.

Still, the Empire remains strong and stable, even though it power waned to a certain degree after losing the War to the Terrans.

Also, when the type of Empire described above functions well, direct taxes are low. There is a certain indirect "tax" caused by Great House monopoly on certain staple good, as monopoly naturally inflates prices. However, as long as the system functions efficiently, such increased prices are still reasonable and profits allow the Great Houses to fund the functions of government out of their own pockets. Therefore, the average citizen can ignore politics for the most part - no need for any "civic virtue" or active participation in governance. The government runs itself, collects low taxes, and while certain staple goods are monopolized, many others enjoy free trade. So the citizen lives his own life and prospers, though he has no say whatsoever in the affairs of state.

When the system malfunctions, however - which is inevitable on the long run - things are much, much worse. Incompetent debutantes and playboys leaving the affairs of state to similarly incompetent toadies. High taxation to fund the good life and white-elephant projects of the Great Houses. Economy clogged by over-monopolization. In military affairs - an apathetic population lacking any desire to fight protected by unreliable huscarl mercenaries and Imperial forces led by inept nobles promoted to the top ranks by the virtue of high birth.

This is my take on Star Empires.