Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Starship Crew and the BAT

I love the BAT, or basic action template, from action 4. Its flexible, its fast, and I especially love it for quickly fleshing out NPCs who don't fit into a neat template. Since it came out, we've seen a few expansions for it, and I've posted a few more on this blog. Despite being made for the Action series, I've found that it works for a lot of different genres. One place I'm always looking for additions is science fiction.

Template Toolkit 3: Starship Crew came out with 50 point "Multi-role" Lenses that basically serve the same purpose as a BAT package: they give a character that may be specialized in something else the basic ability to fulfill that role. So we're going to look at how to do that.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

More Mechanical Horses

Previously, we built a mechanical horse for the broken clockwork world. That's awesome, but what else can we do with this horse? surely not everyone uses the same design? What will people want? What can we do with it? Here, we look at tweaks we can make to the horse using the spaceships design system.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Mechanical Horse: The Broken Clockwork World

The Broken Clockwork World is a 10 page PDF that was sold as one of 12 in a 3$ bundle on kick-starter. As such, its a fairly small PDF, and using the world probably requires a little expansion on the part of the GM. 

A big element of the Broken Clockwork world is its steampunk robots. One line in the PDF makes reference to soldiers on mechanical mounts or horses with gas masks. These have caught my imagination, and the image of troop of soldiers on steeds of iron is an awesome one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Robots as Spaceships: Armor Options

In a previous post, I compared Gurps: Spaceships armor to the very best personal armor in Gurps, and came to the conclusion that spaceship's armor was weak, especially T8 body armor and ultra-tech armors. Since that post, I've participated in a few conversations about spaceships armor in Gurps. I still think that its on average weaker than it should be, but how much weaker depends on the context. Here, rather than advocating a single "one size fits all" armor tweak, I'm going to look at options for getting the sort of armor your game needs. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Alternate Parrying of Heavy Weapons

A while back I was playing out a sample combat to see how some mystically-powered knights fared against the massive beasts their order was founded to combat. And I found myself frustrated with parries. The knight could block essentially any attack, against almost any size of beast he faced. So I've come up with a new parry system. I hope you find it useful.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Pile of Dice for Gurps

I've seen it several times: "How do I simplify rolling a big pile of dice?" Often this is an indication that the rules are being pushed past their limits: should you really be rolling an attack roll for every single one of the 50 goblin archers shooting what amounts to suppressing fire at the gate?

On the other hand, sometimes you really just want to roll 50 dice. or 500. And with a computer, its actually not that hard. You just have to have a simple program that will do it for you. And so I wrote one just for gurps: 

Number of Rolls:
Target Number:
Roll Under:

No Rolls Yet
0 out of 0 succeeded

Put in the dice as XdY (You know, that good old standard format). The Target number is the number you need to actually show on the dice: If you have a bunch of soldiers with will 12 rolling at -4 to resist a curse but benefiting from a +1 bonus the heroes procured for them, the target is 9, the number the soldiers actually need to roll. 

If you are using 3d6 and roll under, the tool will count criticals for you, as well as successes. 

I hope you find this tool useful!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

How Big is My Medieval City?

Have you ever wondered how big your medieval community should be? As in, how long does it take to circle the walls? How long to run across? How thinly spread are these archers on the walls? I was wanted this for a game the other day, and found a scholarly article on the subject.

We now have an equation, and tables:

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Robots as Spaceships: Common Chassis

In spaceships, the certain basic builds come up again and again. This is especially true of robots as spaceships. A lot of robots will want to use the minimal wheeled system, and basic humanoid robots will show up again and again. In this article, we will name these combinations, and list their statistics, so we don't have to specify "1 wheeled drivetrain, 1 power cell, 3 miniaturized armor systems, and a control system" every time we want to talk about the minimum wheeled robot. We'll just say "The wheel bot", and possibly link to this article.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Robots as Spaceships: Flyers

Not all robots are bound to the ground or to the water. Some of them can fly! Here we look at the various options Gurps: Spaceships provides for atmospheric locomotion.  Some options we might want are missing: propeller systems are the most notable. Others we want to adjust the stats on a little, and still others we just want to understand properly. Most of the time we will be adjusting speeds down in the name of modeling real or fictional vehicles: the new lower speed we call "Downshifted".

While this article is part of robots as spaceships, its probably just as useful when building vehicles, and I suspect I'll come back to it more in that context than for robots.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Robots as Spaceships: Quadcopters

In the last decade or so, consumer robotics has aquired an all star: the Quadcoptor. When we talk about a drone now adays, we're almost always talking about a quadcopter. Perhaps no robot has ever been produced in such numbers and made so available to the public.

In our Robots as spaceships system, this just means we need to use the helicoptor rotors from Spaceships 7, right? Well, we could. But quadcopters don't have the same performance as real helicoptor rotors, and they have very different costs and mechanics. They don't cost the same amount, and they don't move in the same way. Quadcopters use a very different steering mechanism from traditional helicopters. Helicoptors steer mechanically using "swashplates", while quadcopters vary their power to different propellers. The Quadcoptor method is more difficult to pilot and less power efficient than a true helicopter. Its also much simpler and cheaper to produce, and with modern electronics, piloting it is no longer a major issue.

So lets build a system for quadcopters in spaceships.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Robots As Spaceships: Swimmers

As a sequel to terrestrial motive systems, we will be looking at aquatic motive systems. This time, we will be looking less at cost, and more at speeds when using small size modifiers. We will be inspecting Ballast Tanks, Underwater Screws, Surface Screws, and Flexibody Drive-Trains. All of these systems are from Pyramid #3/34

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Robots as Spaceships: Terrestial Motive Systems

There are many jokes about physicists and frictionless vacuums. Space is the rare environment that is a frictionless vacuum, and that makes calculating spaceship movement strangely simple, if foreign to those accustomed to terrestrial movement. When on the ground, a host of forces acting on a vehicle create a complex environment to move through.

A complex environment many of us have an intuitive grasp of, and we notice when things are a bit off. We plan to use Spaceship's Motive systems in a lot of our robots, and its worth tweaking a few of the numbers.

In this article, we'll be looking at tracks, wheels, and legs, the simplest and most common motive systems for robots in fiction (along with hovering, which suspends disbelief about its performance along with everything else). Legs come from spaceships 4, while wheels and tracks come from Pyramid  3/34.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Robots as Spaceships: Responsive Movement

In our analysis of the Gunbot, we noticed two ways that robots could move. About half of them moved similar to humans, with a base move of 5 and a very similar top speed. They could move as far as they wanted in any direction, but they had a very low top speed. They moved like a person. The other Robots have very small base moves but much larger total moves. They took a few seconds to get up to speed. This sort of movement we will call "train-like".

Spaceships uses train-like movement, with the minor exception of leg systems, which start off person-like but get more train-like as leg systems are added. Its likely that both types of movement can be engineered and each will be engineered for different purposes.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Melee Weapon Packages for the BAT

Action 4 is among my most useful Gurps books. Its a great way to build characters quickly, either for NPC's who need more than the basic sketch, For one shot PC's that will be used only once, or for figuring out the capabilities of a tricky character. The Basic Action Template (BAT) (or another basic template) provides a starting point for the character, and then "Packages" are chosen to add capabilities.

One package in Action 4 is rather non-descript: Obsolete weapons. Rather than providing any real guidance, the template says to get enhanced parry, and then spend 12 points on skills and 8 points on techniques in the weapons you want. Flexible, but uninspiring.

Historical games are rather tangential to the main topic of action, but I find myself using the BAT and its associated packages for more and more. (see ICOPs, Gurps Action, and the BAT). The BAT can do more than just action, and It can do better than building "obsolete weapons" packages from scratch each time.

But there is a Gurps product that gives advice on building specific types of warriors: Martial Arts. Martial Arts has a list of 113-ish "styles", detailing how to buy skills and techniques to fight like almost any warrior in history. Using that as our guide, we can make more nuanced packages for the BAT.

We will rundown the classic melee weapon systems of history, with something of a European emphasis. We will cover: