Saturday, November 30, 2013

On Theme

Rey had a nifty post over here discussing a cool idea, where fighters can wear ridiculous outfits and gain the equivalent of chainmail armor class. My first thought was "I totally want to steal that" and my next thought was "Definitely shouldn't steal that."

Or at least, definitely shouldn't steal it for Legacy of the Bieth. I'm shooting to have a certain theme and atmosphere in my setting, where things are washed out and sun-blasted and Sergio Leone cinematography, even in the Zone itself. The fancy peacock outfits of the Imperials and other city slickers wilt and fade in the borderlands. Life means little, death sometimes has its price.

Once Upon a Time in the West
I find myself finding all sorts of things that sound really cool, but I've got to keep reminding myself about what I want in my setting and how I need to get that across. Once I've gotten that established in the setting (and importantly, convinced myself I've gotten that established in the setting), then I can maybe start to expand other areas and use some of the cool bits I've seen elsewhere. But until my stuff...makes its bones, for lack of a better term, I don't want to start heading out of the areas I need to get right.

The same thing applies with the 40K stuff I'm working on. I need to get the right balance between the weird and grotty John Blanche of the early days

"Jaq Draco" - John Blanche
"Ryan, be careful what you shoot at.
Shome things in here don't react too well
to bolter shells."

...with the slick fancy Adrian Smith stuff

"Eisenhorn" - Adrian Smith
"I am a badass despite the fact
that I am also ludicrously microcephalic."

And the question there is going to determine how I reshape everything. I know I want to have something that embraces a lot of the universe and setting assumptions of early 40K, but I know that I want something of the slickness and baroque tomfoolery that goes along with Dark Heresy and the Abnettquisition works. Early 40K fits in really well with Traveller (at least the STARSLUGS Traveller I've been playing recently), but it's an Abnettquisition premise that I've been noodling at for about two years that's got me started on the conversion process in the first place. 

None of this is dealing with players, mind you. They're going to keep engaging in their ridiculous-awesome plots and crazy shenanigans and not giving a crap about my fretting over themes. As well they should. 

Joesky Note: Dark Heresy weapons and armor would be a pain in the ass to convert into Traveller's regular combat system. Thankfully, the alternate combat system that Sun-Lord Chris posted over at Hill Cantons actually allows for really rapid conversion. The penetration and armor values from Dark Heresy can come over into Traveller almost directly (with a few tweaks to account for Traveller's baseline weapons assumptions). 

(Yeah, this isn't a full tax. Shut up, I'll do more later.)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

STARSLUGS Signatory, Punk-Dark Imperium of Man

With my primary gaming campaign being on a bit of an SF kick these days, I've been getting more and more excited about an idea I had a few months ago, using Traveller to run Warhammer 40K games. (I have the Dark Heresy RPG and find it extremely impenetrable, though very pretty and with some very cool bits.)
"Nurgle Slug Obliterator," by Panic
Now both Chris and Evan have begun running Traveller games, with the interstellar equivalent of a FLAILSNAILS Convention: the STARSLUGS Convention. (see below)

And this has gotten me excited enough to start getting my 40k system tweaks fully set up for Traveller. I'm envisioning a combination between the wild craziness of the first 40K work, Rogue Trader (gonzo, punk, cynical satire, extremely 2000 AD), and the no less grim but significantly more heroic Dan Abnett envisioning of the setting (not everyone is an asshole, even though life sucks; Chaos is likely going to eat everything but you can still win victories against it.)

So expect some more posts on the matter. The primary areas I'm expecting to work on are going to be creating a new equipment list (using these alternative rules for combat) and a career/lifepath system splitting the difference between WFRP and Mongoose Traveller careers. 

So. Announcing the Punk-Dark Imperium of Man. Let's see where this goes. 

Oh, and related inspirational art blog.

"Enforcer," John Blanche
Simple Translation Agreement Rules Simulating Lastingly Unified Galactic Sectors
In order for freetraders in the Space Cantonment, Directorate Space, and other willing sectors, to prosper and thrive, the referees of those campaigns have set out the following articles in order to ease movement between them.

Article 1
Characters may move between Directorate Space and the Space Cantonment freely provided they meet the standards required in other articles.

Article 2
Characters are bound by the rules of the version of Traveller being used in the game they are currently playing.  This includes things such as the rules for combat (both personal and ship-based), weapon damage, the functions of certain technological items, etc.

Article 3
There is one exception to the rule presented in Article 2: skills.  Characters use whatever skill they possess that is closest to the one in the system currently being run.  This means that characters from the Cantonment (and possibly other CT games) possess broader skill categories than those the Directorate.  Skill acquisition is also based on the characters native system, and not on the system currently being run.  Skill rolls function as other items described in Article 2.

Article 4
Characters may bring their own personal effects with them, but not those held in common with other members of their party/crew.  This includes any ships the characters rolled on the benefits table, assuming the ship is being used by other party members.

Article 5
Psions, astropsychics, and aliens must submit their characters to the referee at least 48 hours in advance so that the referee has the time to read over any relevant sections of their rules/come up with how certain foreign abilities work in their area of space-time.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Arab Travelers: The Head of Badr

One of the marvels that occurred during that battle with the Franks [Baldwin II's attack on Damascus in 1129] was the following. In the army of Hama, there were two Kurdish brothers, one of them named Badr and the other named 'Annaz. Now, this 'Annaz had bad eyesight. And when the Franks were defeated and killed, some of the men cut off their heads and hung them off their saddle-straps. So 'Annaz cut off a head and hung it from his saddle-strap.

A group of men from the army of Hama saw him and said to him, 'Hey, 'Annaz, what's with that head you have with you?'

'Glory be to God,' he replied, 'for what happened between this man and me - I killed him.'

'Oh, man,' they told him, 'that's the head of your brother Badr!'

So he looked at the head, examining it. Sure enough, it was the head of his brother. And so in his shame before the men, he left Hama. We never knew where he set off for, nor did we ever hear any further news of him.

-Usama ibn Munqidh, The Book of Contemplation, p. 128. Trans. Paul Cobb, Penguin 2008.

Head from Lone Wolf Effects
The shame 'Annaz felt for both his lies and the mutilation of his brother's corpse wound up imbuing Badr's head with strange energies. Badr was slain in defense of Damascus, and still seeks to do so from beyond the grave, but the actions of his brother torment Badr's spirit.

The head of Badr projects a 30' radius bless spell around it when held aloft by a member of the Faith or by someone defending a position. The person holding Badr's head is incapable of telling a lie. For every five rounds that Badr's head is held aloft, all persons affected by the bless spell must save or take 1d2 damage/level, as the pain of 'Annaz's betrayal cuts deep, and severe cuts appear around their necks.

The head of Badr may only be buried when Damascus is safe.