Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Spaceships: How Tough Should Armor be?

In preparation for my robots as spaceships project, I built a "Tank Bot", a small tracked vehicle meant to carry a gun into battle. I was surprised that the famed "Eggshells with Hammers" paradigm didn't go away. My SM +0 robot had 60 lbs of TL 8 armor that gave it a paltry 10 DR. I came to the conclusion that armor as described in spaceships doesn't just not scale well, its not strong enough even without scaling. It doesn't protect the spaceship, and it doesn't compare well to the numbers given in High Tech, Ultra Tech, or even Low Tech. Here, I'm going to discuss what the damage reduction on the armor types given in spaceships should be, by doing a book by book comparison of how the spaceship's numbers compare to the armor in High Tech, Ultra Tech, and yes, even Low Tech.

We're going to show that spaceships armor is weaker than it should be, but more importantly, we're going to find out how strong it should be.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Robots as Spaceships: Theory and Systems

spacecraft spaceship by  https://www.svgrepo.com/svg/217230/spacecraft-spaceship
GURPS has a lot of templates for robots and drones, scattered in various products and series.  Reign of Steel features menagerie of robots meant to hunt down and kill humans. Ultra-Tech presents robots with an aim for utility, from a simple porter to the bizarre bush robot. Transhuman space dazzles us with a  bewildering variety of shells for purposes both general and niche, exotic and everyday. But none of them have a "system" for building robots and drones. Either a book has a template for that size and shape of robot, or you build the template yourself. Sometimes tweaking a template will get good results, but more often than not I find myself needing things very different from existing templates.

Robot 1 by Diversity Avatars. http://www.iconarchive.com/show/avatars-icons-by-diversity-avatars/robot-01-icon.html
Now, the fact that Gurps lets you make up stats in an intelligent manner is awesome. The book advertises "Anything you can Imagine", and I love that promise. But I still feel that there is room for a robot design system. Something between a handful of templates and the wide solution space of building from scratch.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Invasion of the Hawfax: South America

The Haxfax live in South America, sharing a border with Columbia,Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. These countries greatly benefit from their new neighbors and trading partners, and the Hawfax  changed the political landscape here like nowhere else.  

Balance of Power:

The Hawfax try to keep their neighbors balanced with one another. Their support and rising mineral prices produced a strong Bolivia capable of defending its territory against its neighbors. Brazil has not grown at the same rate as Bolvia or Peru, though it has hardly 'suffered'. Its lost rubber industry is replaced by a rich if irritable trading partner with an appetite for bauxite and who prefers to run goods down Brazil's rivers rather than the Andes railways.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Borlo FTL

 In my Borlo campaign, my design of Faster Than Light (FTL)  travel was very important, even though the players never left the planet's surface. How easy or difficult it is to get somewhere shapes  the culture and game-play of a setting.  I really liked the system. It lets you cross the galaxy in a month, but it takes weeks to get to any particular place. My favorite consequences include:
  • It creates massive frontier areas where communication and transportation is possible but slow
  • Travel times are unpredictable 
  • The ideal route for a merchant (or any other spaceship) is often to visit a new world.
  These features make for good gaming: The PC's are often isolated from help or stodgy management, but if they need to leave a world, they can do so quickly. Colonization occurs in many places all at once instead of growing shell of planets that quickly go from one hundred to one billion people. How does it do this? I now present to you: the Borlo FTL system.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Gurps City Management Refence Chart

Gurps actually supports running a city as a game, and I'm currently playing a game where that's exactly what's going on. My players are trying to keep a city in deep trouble from being slaughtered, running out of food, or breaking out into riots.

Gurps has rules for this! And they're actually not that bad. Yes, I had to make a chart for them, but I found that the interactions weren't all that complex: there was just a lot of things to keep track of, and it was written as text, rather than as a table or diagram. This chart lets you see all of the stats and possible actions at once and have confidence that you're not missing anything.

The rules displayed here are drawn from GURPS: City Stats and from Pyramid 54's article "City Management". I highly recommend those works. If you're interested in city management in gurps you should also check out Mailanka's "Orphan of the Stars" work. 

I hope you find this useful. I know I sure did!

click for full size version

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

What I wish I knew as an Online GM 18 Months ago

In December of 2015, I moved from a college town where I knew lots of people and had a gaming group to a rural location where I knew almost no-one. As a result, I moved from gaming face to face with an established group to gaming online with complete strangers. Looking back over those 18 months, there are a few things I wish I had known.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Vanishing Scout Bush

Vanishing Scout Bushes are a strange breed of creature used as scouts and spies. When they're not fighting, they appear pretty much like a large bush a little bigger than a person, all told. They can even stand up to a little investigation, though it will quickly become apparent that this is no ordinary bush: they have nasty spikes and the woody core of the creature is much thicker than it needs to be.

When they stand up for combat, they have a roughly humanoid shape, but covered in thick vegetation. Their fists are tipped in long wooden spikes, and getting hit by one tends to hurt a lot. That said, they really don't like fair fights. They can retreat quite rapidly, and they will do so if faced with serious danger: they're scouts, not warriors. They are cunning enough to appear directly behind foes to strike from behind though.

Vanishing Bushes are designed as servitors for some villain. They work well as Fae or as the creation of a wizard. They can also be used as demons or as forest servitors, all with minor adjustments.

ST25         HP25          Speed6.5
Dodge      9(12)Parry10DR8 (hardened 1)

Thorny Fist (14): 2d+3 impaling

Teleportation (12): Vanishing Bushes can simply leave their locations, appearing at another. This is utterly silent, and they can do so quickly. They can ignore up to -5 in range or time penalties. They cannot, however, leave an area within 10 yards of any part of a fir tree. A handful of dry needles or a branch of the tree will suffice, but a single needle or old twig will not. If one attempts to teleport into an area with a branch, it will be stunned until it can make an IQ check (yes, that's going to take a while), and then the dread will effect it.

Camoflauge: Vanishing Bushes look pretty much like bushes: motionless and quiet. A bystander who isn't on the lookout for non-human foes is at -5 to spot them, and even a wary adventurer looking for general trouble gets a -2 for potentially over looking bushes. Conversely, +2 can be gained by a successful Biology, Naturalist, Gardening, or appropriate hidden lore roll. If the onlooker is familiar with the area, an Per check will reveal the additional bush. A Typical example would be the neighbor's front porch.

Traits:  360 degree vision, Chameleon 2 (effects sight and sound), Dark Vision, Doesn't Breath, Doesn't Eat or Drink, Doesn't Sleep, Dread (fir trees), Immunity to Metabolic Hazards, Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous, No Blood), Social Stigma (monster), Warp (blink, weakness: fir trees, no signature, penalty cancelling 5, reliable)

Skills: Brawling - 14, Stealth - 16*, teleport - 12, body sense -14, observation -15
*includes +2 from chameleon. If the bush is not moving, this bonus is doubled, and the bush has stealth -18. See the camoflague entry.

Build Notes

This monster was created using the Monster Hunters Foe Generator, off the seat of my pants. Most of the time I take a bunch of time when using the generator. On Tuesday I needed a monster off the seat of my pants, and built the monster pretty much during play. Its based on the weak demon from monster hunters 3, plus the special abilities given. I don't think any of the players noticed, because they were busy looking through the park for the demons. I really like the way it turned out.

I beefed up the warp a lot, uncapping range, adding blink, and emphasizing the silence. I also dropped the leech (standard) I got in the roll, because it didn't really fit -- though blood sucking plants are a staple of dungeon fantasy.

The penalty cancelling 5 is the reliable enhancement, with the condition that it can't actually raise skill. I did this because I didn't want their blink defense to be sky high.

I kind of bent the rules with Chameleon. Chameleon has an "extended" enhancement that's normally supposed to apply to infravision, not sound. There is an almost identical advantage called "Silence" that applies to sound. But I wanted both Chameleon and Silence without actually stacking their bonus, so I used the extended enhancement. I'm still looking at how that worked, but I'm feeling happy with it at the moment.