May 24, 2023

The Whole Truth(s)

Part of the brilliance of Ironsworn: Starforged is that it walks you through a session zero experience you might otherwise overlook when playing solo. (Hopefully those you playing in the cooperative or guided modes are doing a session zero?) I’ve read too many accounts of solo players who created a character and then were left stuck as to what to do next. Had they done the prep a GM would typically do with a group through a session zero the options to move forward would have been much clearer. Of all the things Ironsworn does well, I think this is probably the most brilliant one.

The activity that does most of the session zero” heavy lifting is called Choose Your Truths.” Going through the truths exercise will help you clearly say this is in” and this is out.” It establishes all kinds of fiction” that is critically important in a game that leans heavily on you knowing the fictional state of the game world inside and out.

Many players I see seem to jump right into the 14 categories that you are intended to interact with:

  • Cataclysm
  • Exodus
  • Communities
  • Iron
  • Laws
  • Religion
  • Magic
  • Communication and Data
  • Medicine
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • War
  • Lifeforms
  • Precursors
  • Horrors


What concerns me is how little discussion I see of the default truths” and many of these are doozies when it comes to your game world. In some ways it is great that Starforged wears these on its sleeve in a this is the universe of The Forge, take it or leave it.” For many of us though, we are wanting to use Starforged to emulate a popular media property or even have different ideas of what, to steal a Traveller community phrase, In My Forge” means. I think the back of the book should have had a supplemental exercise to help you set the default assumptions” or dials of the setting.

Let’s review the Default Assumptions (Page 81) and better understand what they imply for your game world:

This is a perilous future. Two centuries ago, your people fled a cataclysm and settled a distant galaxy they call the Forge. This is a chaotic place full of dangers and mysteries.

I understand that this is the schtick of Ironsworn setting as well but what if you want to play in the world of Mindjammer? There’s been no cataclysm or mass migration event - instead humans have been slowly and methodically expanding and exploring the space further and further out from the core. A cataclysm implies a certain set of post-apocalyptical tropes that you may not be interested in exploring at all.

This is a lonely future. With some possible exceptions (that you’ll identify as part of your own truths), humans are the only known intelligent life in this galaxy. Others once lived here, but only mysterious and perilous vaults remain to mark their legacy.

This assumption rules out thriving sentient aliens that your PCs will interact with. I think it is a curious omission for a game that already features an extensive set of oracles for effectively generating aliens (“creatures”) that could be just as diverse as those in Farscape, Star Trek, or Star Wars.

This is a diverse future. There is a vibrant mix of people and cultures among the humans of the Forge.

This is pretty standard science-fiction fare with the exception of some very dark science-fiction that explores what happens when bioengineering sexists/racists/fascists get their way. You might want to grapple with those problems in your universe though and again it feels like something that should have a dial.

This is a far-flung future. Settlements lie scattered and often isolated from one another. Your starship can travel at faster-than-light speeds, but it’s ponderously slow at a cosmic scale.

We’re tossing highly-populated sci-fi settings out the window here: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Mindjammer, Star Wars, etc. We’re also introducing FTL which can be problematic if you want the far-flung nature of The Expanse but without the jump-drives.

This is an unexplored future. Discoveries await. Even in settled regions, much of the Forge is unknown and uncharted.

This assumption seems to be result of the cataclysm - civilization migrated here with the shirts on their back and not much else. It would have been nice to have a dial between everything is a scouting mission” and well there’s the unknown regions over there if you want to go exploring but I’m going to stay right here on my planet with over 1 billion humans living on it because there’s plenty of challenging work to be found.”

This is a wondrous future. The Forge is a galaxy of ancient mysteries, spacefaring creatures, startling phenomenon, and other marvels.

Pretty standard this is space operatic sci-fi” assumptions. You might want to de-emphasize this assumption if your game is more about *punk (cyber, solar, noir, etc) themes.

This is a retro-future. Envision the technology you wield as only slightly advanced over today’s real-world technologies—or even a step back in many ways. Resources are scarce, and the people of the Forge must cobble together what they can.

I think the popular media term for this is Cassette Futurism and I’m all-in but someone might prefer the technology mind-fuck that is Mindjamemr where even your gun may have strong feelings about whether or not they’d like to engage in combat.

This is an unjust future. Those in power hoard resources, control technologies, and impose their will on others through force or cunning. Others must stand against these forces of imperialism and oppression.

A mostly universal sci-fi trope, even across a wide variety of settings I’m aware of. What happens when you use good” technology for bad.” There is certainly sci-fi that plays down this trope but even the utopia of Star Trek is challenged every few episodes or so.

This is a hopeful future. Despite these challenges, hope remains. Fulfilling your sworn vows is a realization of that hope.

While I love this truth I feel like whoever wrote it must have been playing on a day where the dice were uncharacteristically in their favor. Still I’m thankful Starforged didn’t ship as yet-another-“grimdark” RPG even if The Forge is trying very, very hard to be all dark and edgy” (cataclysms, chaos, emptiness, voids) like your best friend in High School.

If you are going to customize the Truth’s exercise (and thus The Forge”) you have to start with peeling these default assumptions back because they feed into every one of the 14 Truths you will pick in the next phase (and many of the assets and oracles.)

I personally wish Starforged had shipped with those tools out-of-the-box because the default setting of The Forge is so highly opinionated that I imagine it alienates some players who were hoping to explore other sci-fi themes. To be fair to the game, it is often very easy to re-flavor many of these assumptions (“FTL) into something that works better for your setting. Some though, like the lonely, human-centric future” are harder because the concepts are built directly into settlement generation oracles. I don’t think it is impossible to re-skin Starforged but providing a small chapter or section on things to consider would have been most welcome.

April 13, 2023

Upheaval, Let’s go Bowling!”, (Episode 4)

Catherine grabs a backpack, one she used to use for day hiking but is now only interested cramming whatever loot they can find from the bowling alley, drug outlet, pet supply, clothing store, and taco joint at the Harmony Plaza.

Douglas checks over his gear and hands a baseball bat to Catherine. The less we shoot, the better I think.” Catherine reluctantly takes the bat because she knows that this means getting in close to the horrible things they’ve seen. She shoves the bat into the bag, with the knob sticking out. Then she eyes the assault rifle slung over Douglas’ back The less we shoot, huh?”

It is a windy day in the area around Harmony and dust is being kicked up around the edges of Route 68, the road that leads to east towards the Plaza.

Pop, Pop, Pop Pop Pop”

Douglas and Catherine look at each other and then their surroundings. The Plaza is further down the road and there’s little cover where they are.

That gunfire is coming from up the road, probably the Plaza.” says Douglas as he indicates with his hands that they should start running.

They kneel down and find some cover along short wall that surrounds the Plaza’s parking lot. There’s a pair of people with machine pistols ducking in and out from the drug store. Another is kneeling down behind a car that has the windows busted out, doors mostly ajar, and the trunk wide open. On the opposite end of the parking lot is a group of three behind various bits of cover, two of which have assault rifles pointed back at the drug store.

Douglas peeks over the wall again and ducks back down. I recognize the group at the drug store with the orange armbands. Roman’s bike gang.”

Bad news?”

Roman is not good at playing with others.”

Should we go help the other side out?”

Yes but I think we should stay on this side - put fire on them from both directions.”

Douglas waits for the drug store men to shoot again and as they do he puts three rounds into a figure by the doorway. Catherine shots at the one by the car, misses, but it forces them to run for cover. The folks wielding assault rifles sieze the opportunity and drop another gang member by the door. The last gang member makes a run for it.

Catherine and Douglas crawl around to the other side and meet up with the people they’ve aided. Before any pleasantries can be exchanged two groans of two zombies are heard crossing the road nearby. Douglas makes quick work of one with his knife while another man bashes the head of the other zed in with the butt of his assault rifle.

Nice shooting earlier, appreciate the help.”

You fought with Roman’s gang before?”

Nah, we showed up looking to loot and they were here first. I tried to talk to them but they insisted on shooting. Dumb.” he motions at the dead zeds The shooting just attracts them.”

Douglas looks over the group of three, two assault rifles and shotgun between them. You are rather geared up for a fight.”

It is becoming harder and harder to find stuff out here, people gettin’ nasty.”

Catherine moves into the conversation. Anyone else here when you showed up?” She looks around the parking lot for Gray & Thomas’ truck but doesn’t see it.

No one in the bowling alley, there’s not much left in there. We were getting ready to cross over to the other stores when those folks started shooting. One of them did yell at us they were always willing to take more captives.”

Catherine shoots a concerned look at Douglas. Douglas puts his knife away, slings the assault rifle over his back, and readies his pistol. I think we’ll check the drug store for our friends. We can share any meds that are left.” The group of survivors nod in agreement and they move on to loot the clothing store.

The glass doors and windows are shot out entirely from the drug store. Much of the broken glass is on the sidewalk in front of the entrance.

Doug peers inside and sees a lone remaning orange arm band gang member towards the back of the store. They are shakily holding a gun up and behind them are Gray & Thomas, you’ve had their mouths and hands duct-taped.

Don’t come any closer!” shouts a wary looking figure, who looks to be in their teens.

Ok, ok. Calm down. No one else needs to die today, kid. Let’s say you and me make deal.”

The teenager looks around, angling to get look over Douglas shoulder. Behind Douglas, Catherine has a pistol trained on the teen, and behind her one of the assault rifle folks from before has come to check out the disturbance. Yeah… yeah we can do that.”

I’ve got a nice bottle of whiskey here, it can be all yours. Go back to your friends, split it, and maybe you’ll get the better of me next time.”

Two more of the survivors show up in the back and the teen eagerly nods his head. He approaches the ground in front of Doug carefully, where Doug has taken the bottle of whiskey out from Catherine’s backpack and set it down. He grabs the bottle and looks around before hastily exiting the store.

Catherine runs over to Gray & Thomas and works to remove the duct-tape. We were worried about you!”

We’ve been hunkered down at home but Thomas needed to refill his prescription. I didn’t realize things had gotten so dire.”

Thomas picks up a couple bottles of pills from the ground and shakes them Got my refill though.”

The four of them hug and gather their things. Douglas and Catherine head behind the counter and find some common antibiotics to take. They thank the other survivors again for their help and head out to the parking lot.

So, I hate to ask but where’s your truck?” ask Douglas

Taken from us the moment we pulled up into the parking lot. There were too many guns pointed in my face to say no.” says Gray.

Douglas nods in understand. I lost my car a few days ago, same way.”

Think anyone might have left their dirt bikes at the Redwood Lights Track?” asks Catherine.

Doug holsters his pistol and looks out in the direction of the track. The hill with the radio station is between them and the track. In Douglas head there are flashes of gun fire, the sound of a knife stabbing through flesh, and the steady growling and scratching sounds of the undead. Could have. Worth a look.”

GM Notes

Another Find Encounter today. The first PEF rolled up as our PCs coming upon a Confrontation already in-progress between two other groups. ATZ: Evolution doesn’t have met before?” test from 5150 New Beginnings but it is painless to bring it over. The Survivors and Gangers had never met each other before, our PCs had never met the Survivors, but Douglas had met the Gangers before (having either worked with them or against them in his past criminal life.)

While this part of the map is pretty rural, I upped the level of this place to suburban for the encounter rules. Too many stores and too high of chance that the drug store would not have prized loot. Given all of the multi-shot weapons play it is lucky all of the gunfire didn’t spawn more than two zeds.

Because our PCs helped out the survivors this gave them an Interaction bonus which I was able to leverage into Further Interaction and thus another clue. Each time you get a clue you take a test to see if you can roll equal to or lower than the number of clues you have - if you do then you’ve found what you are looking for. I rolled equal to the number of clues gathered at that point and the next table told me that the NPC(s) I was looking for could be found by completing a Raid Encounter. I ended up rolling a lone Ganger that Douglas had met before so it seemed pretty likely this was the same group from before and all of the facts” led me to the idea that they had been holed up in the drug store, probably took the neighbors hostage early on, and were in the process of finishing their looting when the Survivors showed up.

The instructions for the Raid Encounter don’t say I have to use violence to solve so I had Douglas interact with the Ganger - offering to barter the Luxury good he was carrying with him for the return of his neighbors. That worked and Douglas convinced the Ganger to scram after that by letting them know just how badly outnumbered they were.

I’m thinking about spinning up a 5150 New Beginnings campaign and so I’ll be alternating between 5150 and ATZ recaps going forward.

April 7, 2023

Upheaval, Howdy Neighbor!”, (Episode 3)

You seen Gray & Thomas this morning?” asks Catherine who is peeking through the blinds at their neighbor’s trailer.

Douglas, barely paying attention, continues reassembling his recently cleaned pistol. Nope.”

We should check on them, they’ve always been kind to us.”

Fine” says Douglas after loading a fresh magazine into his pistol.

Catherine and Douglas step out of their trailer and walk around to their neighbor’s unit. The door is ajar and the two look at each other with concern.

Douglas readies his pistol and silently walks up the cinder block stairs into the trailer. He can hear sounds of a disturbance in the back room but it does not sound like their neighbor’s voices. He stays still with his gun drawn on the hallway that leads towards the rear of the trailer. Catherine has readied her pistol and is behind Doug’s right shoulder.

Two people appear, they’ve got automatic rifles slung over their backs along with heavy camping backpacks. They are wearing helmets like the ones you might find at military surplus store and generally look much more prepared that anyone else Catherine & Douglas have run into over the last 48 hours. They also look very surprised to see Douglas aiming a pistol at them.

Douglas charges forward and slugs one in the face who immediately falls to the ground. Catherine fires a shot that not only narrowly misses the second person but also Doug. The second individual shoves Doug and runs past Catherine out the front door. Catherine lean back around the door. He’s gone.”

Douglas ties up the other individual and waits for them to regain consciousness.

Where’s Gray & Thomas?”

Hell if I know. Just looting, same as anyone else.”

Douglas paces for a moment and then shoots the individual in their head.

Catherine gasps. Doug… why? Are we just going to kill everyone we meet?”

Look babe, we can’t trust anyone anymore.” says Douglas as he takes the assault rifle from the dead body.

Don’t babe me. You are going to have to learn to make some friends. Otherwise we are not going to make it out here.”

Douglas frowns. He’s spent his last few years behind a screen and interacting with faceless names over text messages. He prefers the quiet solitude after his stint in the Army.

Catherine & Douglas look around the place. There are plates in the sink, like Gray & Thomas had eaten breakfast that morning.

Douglas notices Gray’s favorite coffee cup next to the sink. It is mostly empty but what’s left inside the cup looks fresh. Maybe they went out for supplies?” Douglas removes the body from the house and cleans up the mess. You almost can’t tell someone died there.

Catherine and Douglas check the other two nearby trailers. Casey, a young woman who is a pre-school teacher, tells them she saw Gary & Thomas this morning loading up their truck. The other local resident, Jay, is clearly drunk and hasn’t seen a thing.

Doug puts his hands on his hips and looks around the trailer park. Maybe we should head over to the Plaza… the bowling alley? Those two loved that place. Perhaps they hoped to find some loot there?”

Catherine nods and goes back to the house to prepare.

GM Notes

I decided it made sense our PCs would check on their neighbors. Mythic told me that Catherine was into it but Douglas not so much. I figured this was a Find encounter - the goal is to find Gray & Thomas. I rolled up those names randomly and in my head this is a same-sex couple that lives next door. Mythic tells me that they’ve been friendly with our PCs.

There would be 3 PEFs” in our Find Encounter. THW has it is own bizarre language for things. PEFs, or Possible Enemy Forces, are kinda like wandering monsters” in a dungeon and Encounters are like like mini-missions with their own set of rules for the victory conditions.” PEFs can easily turn out to be casual interactions or dangerous combats. If you squint, you can generally paint over the various Encounter types with your own spin on things.

The first PEF would be a confrontation, per the rules, and I rolled up two Survivors loaded with assault rifles. Survivors are formally Citizens who have seen some shit and decided to make a stand. They are technically the good guys” in the All Things Zombie lore with Gangers” being the folks are way less than reasonable. I figure it is early though and Douglas doesn’t really know friend from foe yet.

Catherine & Douglas won the Action order and Douglas does what he does best, rush into Melee. Probably a good plan because a shooting match with two assault rifles would’ve been a terrible idea. Douglas easily won the Melee sending the first NPC out of the fight.” Catherine’s shot missed but forced the other NPC to duck back.” This triggered the end of the round and a Will to Fight test which the NPCs failed and caused the remaining person to leave the battle. I ran the noise checks for two shots, but no Zombies wanted to come and play.

Douglas is a Citizen interacting with a Survivor so he’s at a -1 dice penalty. I used his Extraordinary Effort to add a dice back in. He only managed to pass the same number of dice as the NPC though which is an NPC ignores you” result. I thought about what Douglas would do with the NPC and letting him go” just didn’t seem realistic so I had Douglas execute them. It is cruel and somewhat panicky but I think it fits the profile of the type person Douglas is for now.

Mythic told me that neighbors had been there recently with an Extreme Yes” result. I also made Doug pass a Challenge test to clean up his mess, which he passed with doubles 1s. I rolled several double 1s in this session which was odd.

The last two PEFs resolved as Sheeple with low Reps. I decided these were just harmless neighbors. One of the PEFs gave up a Clue, part of THWs mini-game for Finding” things. At the end of this Find Encounter though, there weren’t enough Clues found to resolve matters. Next session we will run another Find encounter at the Plaza - which is a typical American strip mall. Possibly a chance to score some more loot but also likely to be either already looted or contested.

One thing I’m using from the back of ATZ: Evolution is a Resource system. For each named” location there’s a table you create that shows how much of the different kinds of loot (Food, Luxury Items, Meds, Weapons) are still available. I like the idea that stuff starts running out. It will force our PCs to have to leave the relative safety of their current Rural area.

March 31, 2023

Upheaval, Radio, Radio”, (Episode 2)

Catherine sits at a table in a tiny kitchen, all the cabinets are open, drawers exposed, and there is a meager collection of supplies in a box.

Douglas looks over their situation. That’s it, huh?”

Haven’t been the store, was waiting for my paycheck to hit.”

Douglas, aware that his hacking skills haven’t been paying the bills lately, turns to stare out the window. It is quiet out there. We should try to get out and grab what we can.”

Catherine glances at the empty spot where the car keys use to hang.

Douglas tries to change the subject. You know the Rebel Radio building is close…”

Catherine walks over to the radio and tunes the dial. The only sound is static. She looks at Douglas and tilts her head in a why not” motion.

The pair cross Route 68 and walk down a dirt road towards a candy-striped tower. It is eerily quiet, there’s little wind, and the two can hear the hum of the nearby powerlines. Douglas has a pistol drawn and surveys an empty parking lot.

No cars.” says Catherine.

Douglas senses Catherine might be disappointed by this fact. Might mean it is empty, let’s check it out.”

The double front doors are closed with a chain looped through the handles and a keyed lock. Douglas hands the gun to Catherine and pulls a hairpin out of her hair. Watch our backs.” After several minutes Douglas hears a satisfying click and removes the lock and chain. He takes the pistol back from Catherine and hands her the chain. Might come in handy.”

Douglas is first in and the only sound is twangy county music coming from a set of speakers in the ceiling. Weird. They must think they are still broadcasting.”

Catherine sifts through a lobby desk. Nothing useful here.”

Douglas motions down a hallway Let’s find the control room. Folks work late hours here and there must be some food.”

Douglas turns down the dimly hallway and a shot whizzes past his ear. Get down!” Douglas charges forward screaming like maniac, grabs the shooter, and bashes their head with the pistol. Another shooter ducks out of a doorway and pops off a shot that misses. Catherine screams in the background. Douglas pushes the limp body he was holding down and sprints to the doorway. This catches the shooter off-gurd and Douglas uses the moment to lodge his foot into their groin. The assailant is now writhing around on the ground moaning and manages to work out an aww, fuck man” as Douglas unsheathes his knife. There’s no hesitation as Douglas plunges the knife into the man’s head. Douglas looks behind him Catherine? You ok?”

Jesus, Doug.” says a visibly shaken Catherine.

Douglas is pushing past her. Let’s clear the other floors.”

The pair carefully work through the remaining rooms and floors. As they reach the top floor, there’s a low moaning and scratching sound coming from a room at the end of a hallway.

Catherine, now holding a large pistol taken from the downstairs man, is looking over Douglas’s shoulder. Think someone is locked up in there?”

Douglas shrugs. Hello? You should know that we’re armed. There’s more of us than you.” Douglas hopes the last statement is true.

The moaning and scratching sounds continue.

Douglas walks up to the door and motions for Catherine to stand on the other side. He does a countdown with his fingers and then opens the door.

A lone, barely human looking, individual is standing on the other side. They bare their teeth and make a low guttural scream. Anyone present can see that this individual is missing most of their torso but still able to amble forward.

What the shit…” says Douglas as he waste no time plunging the knife into the moaning individual’s skull.

Catherine throws up and coughs.

I guess that’s why our boys downstairs were jumpy.” notes Douglas, who seems unfazed by the horror before them pulls his knife out from the creature. He steps over the body and peers into the room. Clear.” Looking around he sees a shelf with some boil in bag” foods.

Catherine, recomposing herself, comes to collect the food into her backpack. Is this why we have to stay indoors? What the hell was that?”

Didn’t see anything like that downtown yesterday, just a lot of chaos.”

The pair explore a rooftop and find some booze next to a folding chair. They make their way back down to the parking lot and the walk back into Harmony where it is unsettling empty once again.

GM Notes

With the Day One scenario I was able to build out a backstory for my two primary characters and assign them a basic Rep score & weapons. To start a campaign proper I also wanted to assign them some attributes. As I noted in the last recap, All Things Zombie: Evolution is oddly lacking attributes. Every other version of ATZ, besides the forthcoming End of Days: Quick Play, has attributes so I’m unclear whether this omission was intentional or not.

Campaign play in ATZ: Evolution also defines a few other character bits: class, age, the ever useless gender, and an inventory limit equal to your Rep. 

After working through character creation I’ve got the following profiles to work with (updated to include their session-based looting):

Douglas Collins, Star, Rep 5/4/5, G, Citizen
Food-1, Weapon-2 (BAP-2, P-1), Meds-1, Lux-1
IRD-0, DRD-0

  • RAGE: Counts a +1d6 bonus if in Melee.
  • STEALTHY: Opponent counts its Rep at 1 point lower than actual when rolling on the Action Table if the Stealthy Character is alone.

Catherine Watson, Grunt, Rep 3/3/2, G, Citizen
Food-1, Weapon-1 (BAP-2), Meds-0, Lux-1
IRD-0, DRD-0

  • RESILIENT: Will treat its first Out of the Fight result as a Carry On instead.

I’m not counting IRD/DRD at this point because after talking with ATZs creator, Ed Teixeira, I made a house rule change. Typically in a THW campaign game you have two encounters per-month. Problem is, I wanted to play out the first thirty days of the game which will require many more encounters in a month. Ed mentioned an alternative system and suggested only counting IRD/DRD in the last encounter. This has some meta-gaming implications I’m not sure how I feel about but I figured it was worth a try.

I’m not going to post all of the gameplay inline, as I have in the past. It is the same THW mechanics you know and love - roll 2d6 under a number, count the dice that pass, look up the result on a table. This was an involuntary confrontation” encounter with a type of Wrong place at the wrong time” I rolled up. Zozer’s SOLO has taught me the benefit of just making the rolls and reverse engineering what the roleplaying was. I do try to always factor in what is cinematically playing out in my head as I go but I tend to go back in and fill in the details with the effect” of the rolls - how close were the results, how far from a miss or success were they, etc.

There were two NPCs in the confrontation encounter who won the action order but both missed their shots which gave Douglas a chance to leverage his RAGE attribute in a melee charge. The shots fired didn’t attract any Zombies initially, but as I was clearing the floors and rolling for PEFs I came up with a Zombie result. I decided that narratively this must have meant they were in a closed room, unable to actively react to the shooting. The radio station building is in the middle of nowhere and largely soundproof so I ignored checking for the Police to respond. (The police were in route to yesterday’s grocery store fire but before their rounds to arrive” counter was up, the robbery was done, and Douglas had left the scene.)

Not a bad haul of loot from this building. Enough food to get by. Booze can be traded or cashed in for Increasing Rep dice. Everyone now has a pistol at least. Douglas passed his ZED OR NO ZED test with flying colors. Oh and Doug’s apparent calm and knowledge of clearing a building comes from his previous, if limited, military experience I rolled up during his backstory creation. Catherine may be lacking in military background but I’ve met a few theater stage mangers in real life and they are not to be messed with. The show must go on” as they say and if the dice are kind Catherine can play a huge role in this game.

March 30, 2023

Upheaval, Day One (Episode 1)

Douglas Collins looks up from his laptop at a muted television broadcast. There’s a red banner at the bottom of the screen and the text scrolling past says Los Santos Police instruct citizens to say indoors.” Douglas sighs, grabs the TV remote, and mutters now what.”

Moments after unmuting the TV, Douglas is shoving a .45 pistol into a boot holster and picking up a sheathed knife. He picks up his cell phone and notices the no signal” warning in the top corner. Damn.” He grabs a set of keys hanging by the door and heads outside to a car generously described as a beater.”

Douglas drives towards the Sisyphus Theater where Catherine works. There’s little traffic on the rural mountain roads in between their rented trailer in Harmony and the outdoor amphitheater where Catherine works as a stage manager. Douglas pulls up at the theater and parks. Two staff members push past him as he walks into the front office.

Where’s Catherine?” Douglas ask a unaware receptionist whom Douglas has momentarily forgotten their name.

Oh, Doug. Hi.” they pop their head up from packing a bag. You must have just missed her. She got a ride home with Judy.”

Of course. Phones aren’t working.” Douglas waves his phone in the air. You, uh, need a ride anywhere?”

No, thank you. I’m headed out myself, going to try to get some food before it is all gone.”

Food. Douglas remembered how quickly food shelves had emptied out during the COVID pandemic lockdown. He nods his head at the receptionist and heads back to his car. He racks his brain for the route to the closest supermarket without the benefit of his phone’s mapping software.

Douglas frowns as he drives down from the Foothills pass and nears the 24/7 Supermarket in Vinewood. The building is on fire and there’s a chaotic mess of people and cars. He pauses to think about his next steps but before he gather his thoughts two people are on either side of his vehicle.

Get out.” says one, pointed a gun at him.

Douglas thinks about reaching for his gun but it is no use, he raises his hands instead. Alright, no need for trouble.”

The individual on the other side comes around and opens the door and motions for Douglas to exit the vehicle. Douglas complies and the person closer to the door gets in. The other, keeping the gun trained on Douglas, moves around to the passenger side.

Half-hour later, Douglas is on the 760 Los Santos Transit bus that drops him off at the edge of Vinewood Park. It takes over two hours to walk the rest of the way back to Harmony but Douglas is relived to find Catherine back at home. The two embrace while the sun sets.

GM Notes

I was doing some research to play a post post-apocalyptic solo game and I became enthralled with All Things Zombie: Evolution from Two Hour Wargames. The book links to an interesting starter scenario called Day One” which walks you through a series of questions to develop the backstory of your main character. I used the Mythic Gamemaster Emulator to answer those questions and ended up with our protagonist Douglas Collins.” Doug is a Clean Criminal” which I took to mean a computer hacker who scored an Exceptional Yes” to the have you ever fired a gun?” backstory question. Doug also got a Exceptional No” to do you live in a house?” which I took to mean that Doug was renting a run-down trailer. Details such having a significant other” (but no kids) turned into Doug’s partner Catherine.

For the setting I wanted something modern day, familiar, but self-contained. Video games often provide such settings and it occurred to me that the fictional world of Grand Theft Auto Vs Los Santos would be perfect.

The Day One” starter scenario next has you play through a mini-game where you try to get back together with your family (if you have one), take stock of your supplies, and maybe pickup a few extras in those first few chaotic hours.

Douglas bombed a bunch of rolls which ended up with things like just missing Catherine at her place of work, arriving to a burned out grocery store, and having their car stolen from them. Still they have some food at home and Doug is armed.

ATZ: Evolution lacks the Attributes” that I’m used to seeing in other THW titles but they are present in the previous (Final Fade Out) and newer (End of Days) versions of the game. I originally thought I might start with End of Days, the newest version, but I found it was lacking in several rules that existed in previous versions. Evolution seems to have the right balance of streamlining and rules as my base set. As with all THW titles, you can lift and drop-in just about any sub-system from another title. I’ll likely pull things in from After the Horseman (their zombie-less post-apocalyptic game) and even things like cold weather” effects from the Nuts! Compendium. This is the strength, and weakness, of the THW line - there’s a lot of it, it is confusing to figure out which version has what, and is most up-to-date. Once you cobble it all together it runs very smoothly for solitaire play.

March 3, 2023

Tales From the Forgotten Moon, Season 1: Building a Place with Stellar Adventures

What makes a Place?

Previously we designed a galactic sector and examined one star system in detail using the generator tools in Stellar Adventures. Today we will build a Place” using the procedures that start on page 99.

Places are built similarly to characters in that they have Characteristics and Specifics” that act like Special Skills. Unlike character building, this is not a point-buy system but it is closer to how Traveller randomly generates a world. Place Characteristics are values from 1-12 and cover the areas of:

  • Size: represents the people, buildings and general infrastructure”
  • Tech: measures the technological advancement of the Place”
  • Trade: represents the extent and reach of the exploited trade routes and the facilities to assist said trade.”
  • Society: the level and organisation of government, laws, social institutions, police force, healthcare”
  • Military: measures the defensive and offensive capabilities”
  • Resources: measures access to natural and local resources”

It is suggested that the Director (“Gamemaster”) either assign values that make fictional sense or use a random roll of either 2d6 or 1d6 + a base number. There’s no suggestion that a high number in one Characteristic (say Size) should carry over a modifier to another. The Director is encouraged to use the Characteristic values to form the basis of tests, for example, Tech could be tested to see if a starship module is available in the starport.”

Places can also have Specifics but there’s no fixed set of these instead some are suggested but it is clear the list is not meant to be exhaustive:

  • Alien
  • Artefacts
  • Computing
  • Culture
  • Food
  • Gems
  • Industry
  • Law
  • Metals
  • Robotics
  • Science
  • Starships

I had to scratch my head at Law being a Specific Skill rather than a Characteristic. I understand that the Society Characteristic covers a mix of Culture, Government, and Law but it is a bit too much bundling for my tastes. I’ll probably just add a Law Characteristic and move on.

Unlike Sectors and Systems, there are no tools to visualize” a map of a Place. That said, if you wanted such a thing, then you could turn to the Advanced Fighting Fantasy supplement Blacksand which includes… yes, a die-drop method of laying out a village, town, or city. Eyeballing the results should allow you to sufficiently reskin the fantasy” elements into something more sci-fi friendly.

Finally, some guidance is given on using a Place in play, both for opposed and unopposed tests. The next section of the book covers Trade, with more detail and procedures than Places but it is curious to note that the Trade procedures are built around tests involving combinations of a Place’s Characteristics and the suggested Specifics. It is a good way to get a handle on how you might use the Place concept in your own game. Stellar Adventures is a toolkit book more than anything else, it does not come with a setting and there’s not even a strongly implied setting. One could run anything from Alien to Cyberpunk to Star Trek to Star Wars using what is in the book. Being a toolkit person, this is why Stellar Adventures has long appealed to me.

Building a Place

I’ve sketched out a character I might use in this game (there’s no lifepath” Character building in Stellar Adventures so I ended up using Traveller Supplement 04, Citizens of the Imperium to build the character’s backstory.) In doing so I’ve uncovered that they’ve come from Enlid-1 one of the twin ice planets that are orbiting the star of Rylin. On Enlid-1 there’s a surface outpost” which I’ve given the name Enciso Town. I scratched my head for a bit on the best way to randomly roll up the place Characteristics and ultimately decided on throwing 2d6-1 for each. Sure that rules out a 12 but then again it works much better with the roll-under nature of Fighting Fantasy. I considered building a cascading system of Characteristic modifiers similar to Traveller but eventually determined it was more trouble than it was worth.

After throwing 2d6 seven times (remember, I added a Law Characteristic) I end up with the following Traveller-style Universal Place Profile” (UPP) hex sequence for Enciso Town: A363884 or in English”: an outpost with a large population with unimportant tech, average trading conditions, a working-class society, above average military presence, above average resources, and a fairly low law presence.

At face value what we have generated so far has the trapping of a standard mining outpost and I could probably work this as-is. Instead, I wanted a bit more detail, so I turned to Distant Lights: Creating Borderworld Outposts for Your Campaign by Kevin Crawford. I did not use all of the random tables in this book because there are too many and several did not thematically fit with the galactic profile shaping in my head. Picking a few random tables throughout the book has built out the additional bit of background for Enciso Town:

  • Enciso Town is made up of bright white domes and multi-level geodesic structures that house a population that has started to outgrow the available infrastructure. Power outages and water shortages are not uncommon.
  • Enlid & Enciso” were a pair of explorers who initially charted the Rylin sector ages ago. Enlid was mostly interested in astronomic anomalies, such as twin planets, whereas Enciso was interested in planetary surveys. The Enciso family has the mining rights to many locations throughout the galaxy, including the mining outpost on Enlid-1. Enlid & Enciso Mapping Services (EEMPS) also provides all of the major star navigation charts and stellar traffic control systems throughout the galactic sector.
  • Enciso Town is currently run by Enciso Mining Enterprises Vice President Kayla Ninnr. They are corrupt, deeply involved in smuggling operations, and maintain control over the local population because they also operate the facilities on Enlid-1 that can filter out the dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and methane from the planet’s ice resources.
  • A form of dangerous and high-speed grav-bobsled racing is extremely popular on Enlid-1.

These last details paint a much more evocative picture of a place. They required more time investment though so every time you look at a GM resource like this you have to ask yourself am I going to use this?” In this case, I envision this as the starting location for our game so it was a valuable world-building exercise. We’ve got our major corporate overlords, a corrupt executive that can serve as a patron, local conflict, and a splashy sport that helps me understand why a character I generated through Traveller happens to have a high skill in vehicle driving.

Next time we’ll take a peek at how to use Traveller character lifepath generation to inform your Stellar Adventure characters. Hint: Troika shows us the way.

February 28, 2023

Tales From the Forgotten Moon, Season 1: Sector Building with Stellar Adventures

I recently printed out and spiral bound a copy of Stellar Adventures, the Science Fiction RPG toolkit based on Advanced Fighting Fantasy from Arion Games. The back of this book, starting on pg 112, has a method of building a galactic sector” and each of the star systems within primarily using die-drop a method.

First, I started with procedure for generating the sector. You start by rolling 2d6 to determine the number of stars in the sector, my result was an 8. I then rolled 8 six siders (using a digital dice roller) and got this result:

An image of 8 different six sided dice spread out over a rectangular area. The dice face have results of 6, 5, 5, 4, 2, 2, 2, and 1.

Each die is the position of a star system and the die result is the number of planets that orbit that star.

I used this die drop result with OmniGraffle to generate a vector image that was easier to work with. Following the procedures on pg 113, I measured the distance between each of the dice in inches (rounding down) to determine the distance (presumably this is used to factor in jump difficulty, fuel usage, or time… I’m not sure yet.) The book doesn’t give a Traveller like table to determine whether a route exist or not, it just says to draw lines between neighbouring systems.” I decided to wear my GM hat and made some judgement calls about whether a connection would exist or not.

A star map of 8 different star systems with connecting lines between the stars to show the connecting star routes.

There’s no name generation tables in Stellar Adventures so I’ve turned to my usual collection of tools: a custom system that builds names in the style of the old Elite computer game and a series of phonetic tables from the Wizard of the Coast book Star Wars Galactic Campaign Guide the builds natural sounding Star Wars words.

There’s a die-drop similar procedure for laying out the individual systems. I decided I would start with what I assume is the core systen given its central location, Rylin. Rylin has 5 planets - although it turns out this is really more like 5 stellar objects of note because your die results may determine that it is not a planet but an asteroid or something strange.” Here’s my die drop from the Rylin system:

Five six sided dice are randomly located in a rectangular area. The die faces show a 5, 3, 2, 1, and 1.

Each of these dice is the location” of an object orbiting the star in this system. Results of 1, 2 or 3 will be planets, 4s are Gas Giants, 5s are Asteroids, and 6s are strange” things. Each of these results has their own sub-table you roll on. There’s also a random table for determining if the planet has lifeforms and what type of settlements exist. After working with those procedures I’m left with this map I created in OmniGraffle again:

A system map with a star in the center and 5 stellar objects orbiting the star.

Obviously I’ve used some GM fiat to adjust the positions of things - mostly for readability. Also, here’s the outline of settlements across the various planets:

  • Rylin, Ocean world
    • Anisis Point, Starport
  • Enlid-1 & Enlid-2, Twin ice planets
    • Enciso Town (Enlid-1), Surface outpost
    • Zodai Outpost (Enlid-2), Surface starport
  • Riscornaan, Lifeless tidally locked world
  • Talrinnal, Desert Planet
    • Aoredle Depot, Surface starport
    • Meridian Dock, Space station
  • Duras-1, Asteroid field
    • No known outposts (pirates? smugglers?)

This was a fun exercise. As much as I love Traveller this was way more fun than doing subsector layout although there’s still a certain charm to the Universal World Profile method of generating a planet. In another post I’ll use the Places” procedures on pg. 99 of the book to stat out each of these settlements. That will start to give us a richer picture of their size, technology, society, military presence, and resources.

February 1, 2023

Homebrewing with Two Hour Wargames

My hardcopy of the new 5150 New Beginnings Quick Play has arrived. It is the slimmest Two Hour Wargames (THW) title to date and is bound to elicit three responses:

  1. OMG, this is the best thing ever.
  2. Wait, there’s not even Battle Boards anymore?
  3. Cool, more toys.

I’m squarely in camp #3 at this point in my THW play style. I don’t think I’ve played a game of THW that was straight out of a single title - I’m frequently mashing up different bits from the different titles I own. Typically these days I’m pulling what I need from:

  • 5150 No Limits
  • 5150 New Beginnings 2022
  • Future Tales
  • Universal Challenge and Interaction Table (forum freebie)
  • and now 5150 New Beginnings Quick Play

What’s nice about the new Quick Play rules is that they don’t require counters, minis, or maps. What’s also nice about the THW rules is that the mechanics are scalable. What do I mean by that? Well they scale on several axis for me:

  • The way the games typically generate opposition is balanced against the size of your band” or the number of player characters in your party.
  • The mechanics can be scale down to entirely theater of mind or all the way up to a complete tabletop with scenery & miniatures.
  • You can throw out or absorb just about as many rules as your game needs so as long as you keep a few of the core bits that power the game loop (so carefully balancing rules that interact with Decreasing & Increase Rep.)

The core of the Quick Play game is extremely appealing to me because I typically only have time to game in 30 minute or 1 hour bursts. Not enough time to setup a full tabletop and while the Battle Boards are quick, Quick Play is even faster - more gaming.

One thing that has always bugged me about THW games is that the Encounter rules are typically all over the place. Some have layers upon layers of nested rolls, some seem to have a roll high” on a random table approach, while others use the tried & true pass” rolls (roll equal or under Rep.) It requires a lot of repetition to develop mastery and for some titles I’ve played them for years now and I still have to page flip” to remember the proper sequence. For the last few days I’ve experimented with swapping out the Encounters system entirely with the new Mythic Gamemaster Emulator Second Edition scene system. It is working shockingly well. This is the beauty of THWs system - it is extremely friendly to this sorta of hacking.

December 23, 2022

Starforged: Thoughts on Combat in the Forge

I’ve been playing Starforged again (play reports to come… maybe?) and a couple of things dawned on me. Neither of these is probably an original thought but I can’t say I’ve seen much discussion of them. Perhaps these are helpful framings for people coming over from traditional RPGs.

Progress Tracks as hitpoints

I don’t believe that most RPGs truly use hitpoints as a simulationist measure of an entity’s health. Instead they use them to pace how long a combat scene will last which tells the players how dangerous and involved the combat could be. Ironsworn/Starforge Progress Tracks function the same way but they abstract and obscure some of this (for the better I think.)

One can approximate though about how much damage” (“progress”) one or more enemies can take in a Starforged combat encounter. A Progress Track is 10 boxes and each box can hold up to 4 ticks”. The Rank of the Challenge dictates how many ticks” you can mark in a Progress Track box. When it comes down it then you are looking at the following:

Rank HP
Troublesome 3~
Dangerous 5
Formidable 10
Extreme 20
Epic 40

So in a Dangerous Combat encounter, your foes can resist about 5 progress/harm/hits before you are in a strong position to make the Take Decisive Action move which would end the combat. In Ironsworn/Starforged to complete a progress track” you take the number of completed boxes (all four ticks marked) as a progress score and compare it to two d10 dice results. So if you’ve filled 6 progress boxes and roll a 4 and 6 on your d10s, then you’ve scored a weak hit because your progress score of 6 beats the 4 but not the 6.

Not every mark progress” in a combat has to reflect you pounding on your foe but let’s just work in the abstract as a thought exercise. In Starforged you are most likely to mark progress” once or twice (generally) in a move. So that gives you a feel for combat pacing: Troublesome fights might be over very quickly because a good start might put you both mechanically and fictionally in a position to end the fight on the next move. A Formidable fight is going to take several rounds even if you were marking progress twice per attack.

Initiative and control”

Starforged has an interesting take on what most RPGs would dub initiative” or maybe action order.” You are either in control” or in a bad spot” - you are acting or reacting to what’s happening. I see some push back on this as being not as realistic as my favorite RPG (D&D, etc) but I’m not so sure.

First let’s just establish that I go you go” is maybe one of the least accurate representations of real-world combat ever and yet it is the standard in many RPGs and even wargames because it is easy to referee. Even if you’ve never been in a hands-on combat situation think back to a schoolyard fight. Was it really two people taking turns having blows at each other? Not to my memory. One kid jumped another kid, wailed on them for several rounds (“in control”) and maybe the other kid got a spot of fortune that gave them an opening to move from being in a bad spot” to in control.” Did I watch fights where one kid maintained control the entire time? Heck yes. And certainly in popular fiction there is no sense of balance in combat encounters usually one side maintains the ebb of the flow more strongly than the other.

I think what Starforged offers is a spot on representation of combat - sides that have the a good starting position tend to maintain control until someone plans a decent counterattack or lady luck shines down on the opponent.

November 10, 2022

A little diversion from space-themed gaming but I promise I’ll tie it back together.

Matt Colville’s What Are Dungeons For? video discusses a number of game design topics framed around thesis that Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition only supports dungeon crawling as wallpaper”.

It is a solid video and while I made the mistake of looking at the comment it appears that Matt’s audience are full of mostly reasonable people who actually watched the video all the way through and digested the jist of his theory. (Matt also may be heavily moderating his comments, if so, kuddos.)

As someone very interested in game design I enjoyed this video and it prompted me to rethink a bit of my solo strategy going forward. Pairing the right game system for not just the right atmosphere or tone, but also my desired outcomes.

I think this is the reason I’ve had the most solitaire success with Starforged and the various 5150 RPG titles. Both do a very good job on the game design side of the house - the mechanics reinforce the designer’s preferred outcomes for your play. With Starforged the goal is to get you to undertake quests, make lasting connections with communities, and explore the unknown. In 5150 the goal is to earn Increasing Rep so you can retire comfortably. You do that by picking up jobs, taking out your opponents (either through interaction or combat), sell cargo, or delivering passengers. Then of course there’s Traveller which has no real reward<->game loop. Playing the game, going on the adventures, playing to find out” - that’s the game and engaging with it is the reward. For me at least I’m finding I need a more focused set of outcomes integrated into the game to enjoy it from the perspective of a solitaire player.

October 25, 2022

October 2022 Solitare RPG SciFi Update

This is not an actual play post or a review, just some notes on what’s been going on.

We’ve obviously been light on game play updates of late but much going on behind the scenes.

First, we’ve had a new entry into the solitaire RPG sci-fi game space. Martin Knight, best known for d100 Dungeon”, has released d100 Space. I’ve taken a look and there’s certainly everything in book one” someone might want to undertake a space adventure on their own. Much like d100 Dungeon, d100 Space focuses the action on a single character but there is some notion of having a crew” for your spaceship. The book is well laid out and the rules seem easy to follow but with lot of fiddly bits to play with if you like a little crunch.

In other solitaire RPG news, Two Hour Wargames has added a new 5150 scenario book to their lineup: A Night at the Fights. There’s added bonus that it includes the new Quick Play” tables but there’s no instructions supporting how to use them. I have my usual concerns about content organization with a THW title (why is the Down the Road” tool include from the Usual Suspect title but it refers to page numbers in the core New Beginner Book? Who knows) but the scenario material looks enjoyable.

I was recently alerted to the existence of Pazio’s Starfinder Flip-Tiles”. These are boxes of 6″ x 6″ gridded squares that you can mix’n’match to build a game map. While I would never tortue myself and play Starfinder these maps look suitably space adventure” generic to me and should work well for anyone wanting to use 15/28mm miniatures or paper standees.”

Meanwhile, my own gaming has been interrupted a bit by some playtesting of other upcoming solo titles. I also see that my Starforged physical assets are on their way, so it is not unthinkable that I’ll be drawn back into playing that wonderful game again.

October 15, 2022

Starport Scum - Extra Resources

Here are three additional resources you can use in your Starport Scum campaigns. (Starport Scum you say? What’s that? Look at my Forgotten Gem” post to see a quick intro to what the game is about.)

Starport Scum Reference Sheet

First, an improved reference sheet for Starport Scum. One sheet, back and front. While there is a reference sheet in the back of the core book I wanted some additional details such as fumble tales, social, & task rules.

This document is shared with the approval of Ivan Sorensen (because it contains text directly from the core rules.)

Starport Scum Revised Job Tables

While I like the jobs in the core rules and Starport Scum Bils to Pay” New Jobs Guide expansion I find the tables are too inconsistent and unorganized for my tastes. Inspired by Shaun Travers 4 Dice SFRPG Tables” style I reorganized the jobs into a more compact and consistent format. Roll 2d6 to select a job table and then roll 4 dice and (in-order) to grab a result from each column. Take the result and use them to build out your job encounter. Entries marked with an asterisk” earn you an additional Fistful of Credits” on top of the starting pay of 1 for all jobs. In addition this includes a new job Courier” which covers your usual things like point-to-point delivery, passengers, smuggling, etc.

I’ve purposely kept things fairly abstract - the idea is to give you prompts as to why you are throwing minis down to battle on the tabletop. I think this is in the spirit of all Nordic Weasel Games titles - we want to have a miniatures battle but also want to have a bit of story too. If you need additional details about your patron there are approximately 100 different RPG supplements (many for Stars Without Number or Traveller) that will give you all the NPC details you need.

Expanded Patron Resources

Starport Scum Flavor Tables

Finally, on my jobs table sometime you might roll up an executive” or bureaucrat.” In these case you might want to know about what type of work the corporation does or how the government functions. Likewise you might also want to know more about the Starport services or the Planet surface. So here’s one page of a bunch of common details you might need to build out a more detailed environment for your Scum battles. Not too much detail, just enough.”

Good Hunting fellow Scummers.

October 13, 2022

Starport Scum Crew Creation House Rules

Number of Starting Traits

The core rules of Starport Scum define the starting dice pool for a character and also offer a table where you can roll to determine a random number of starting traits based on character class. This is suitable for a new campaign but if you are converting from an existing game to Starport Scum you might want some guidance how to pick a reasonable number of starting traits. I suggest the following system:

Character Class Dice Pool # of Traits
Goon 2 0
Bruiser 2 1
Ace 3 2
Hero 3 4+

I am primarily basing this on two sources:

  1. Core rules, Assigning Traits”, page 44
  2. The Faction subsystem that came with the Starport Scum Storyteller’s Guide.

The Assigning Traits section contains this table:

Roll Ace Hero Player Character
1 1 1 2
2 1 2 2
3 1 2 3
4 2 3 3
5 2 3 4
6 3 4 5

(Player characters are used for campaigns where each player controls a single character only.”)

The Faction subsystem gives this guidance for creating a Faction:

Status Dice Pool Number of traits
Minor, trivial or insignificant 2 0
Modest 2 1
Expansive 3 2
Major power player 3 3
Defining in its field 4 4+

I think these status labels map pretty well to the character classes:

  • Goons are minor or trivial characters
  • Bruisers are modest characters with human average abilities in most areas and possibly one area that they have some specialization in
  • Aces are expansive” characters in that their role in the story is like a co-star”
  • Heros are major power players in the story

Number of Character Classes per Crew

Again there is a system in the core book where you can randomly roll to generate the composition of your crew. For an established crew I think having an array of pre-defined choices makes more sense. For this I suggest the following options:

  • 2 Heroes
  • 1 Hero and 2 Aces
  • 4 Aces
  • 1 Hero, 1 Ace, 2 Bruisers
  • 3 Aces and 2 Bruisers
  • 1 Hero and 4 Bruisers
  • 2 Aces and 4 Bruisers
  • 1 Aces and 6 Bruisers

I don’t suggest the use of Goons for PC characters as I think they work better for NPC minions.”

(Thanks to Scott Pyle’s Super Skirmish Gaming for the example starting team arrays which I’ve borrowed and mapped to the Starport Scum classes.)

Starting Gear

Page 46 says:

All characters will begin the game with a basic firearm and any mundane equipment needed.”

This should cover most of your needs when starting with existing characters. If you have characters that have specialized gear (the game builds these out using gear TAGS & CONDITIONS - which are just TRAITS by another name) then I’d recommend giving Aces character 1 piece of cool gear and Heroes up to 2 pieces of cool gear.

I hope these tips help you get your Starport Scum game off the ground!

October 12, 2022

Starport Scum, a Forgotten Gem

Back in 2016, Nordic Weasel Games published a title called Starport Scum written by Ivan Sorensen and Mathew Sparkes. It is a quirky narrative miniatures wargame”, much like Two Hour Wargames’ 5150 RPG line (Fringe Space, No Limits, New Beginnings, etc.) This means that there is about an equal amount of support for RPG-like activities as there are miniatures like ones.

The game’s basic mechanic is this:

Roll Dice Pool = Character Class +/- TRAITS

Your character class is going to be one of Goon, Bruiser, Ace, Hero” and TRAITS are the sorta thing you see in a lot of Indie RPG titles: freeform keywords that have mechanical weight. TRAITS are written in all caps which is handy to keep track of them.

Like any good miniatures game there are all manner of rules about activation, initiative, movement, shooting, fighting, stabbing, throwing grenades, etc. It is not overly complicated but there is a solid framework that works best with any 15mm to 28mm individually based figures you have but can be scaled up or down without much effort.

There’s also several story mechanics for Doing Things” from picking locks, talking things out, finding clues, etc.

If you boil it down to the basics you are going to be rolling anywhere from 2 the 5 d6 dice, looking for 5s or 6s, and comparing the result to a table like this:

# of Successes Result
0 Failure
1 Success w/ consquence
2 Success
3+ Success w/ bonus

There are specific tables for each system in the game but mostly they abstract to this range of results. You shoot someone and get one 5 or 6? Then you have PINNED them down. PINNED is a TRAIT, and it has specific rules that could impact the figure’s movement. In an expansion to the game getting that lone success might make the opposing figure PINNED but would also allow them to Return Fire (ala, Two Hour Wargames Chain Reaction-style shooting system.) If you had scored two or more successes you could deal damage to the figure (with the opposing figure having a chance to make a damage saving throw.)

The core rules come with a lot of random tables to help build the story around why you are having miniatures battles. A lot of tables. In fact if you’ve read the 3rd edition of Five Parsecs From Home (“5P) you will see a lot of familiar topics. There were a number of expansions to Starport Scum that added rules for more guns, loot, vehicles, additional jobs to be done, etc. It has a lot of support in that area even though the game is not ring actively worked (though there are not canned” scenarios - in general you will randomly roll up an encounter: the tabletop terrain, opposing force size, the extra circumstances, the goal, etc.)

I don’t have an extensive collection of miniatures or terrain - I have a lot of 2D battle boards, counters, paper figures, and even my custom-painted space smuggler” meeples. As such this type of loose game framework is very much to my liking. I do enjoy a good dice pool but I never want to roll 20 dice - the 5D cap makes it very reasonable and solo friendly. I like that there are miniatures rules as it helps me as a solo player work out the details of combat in a way that seems less arbitrary than entirely relying on theater-of-the-mind but I also like that the game has rules for you doing not combat things. As you’ve seen in my various actual plays, space is dangerous. Getting into firefights every session would be a great way to roll up an entirely new crew once a week and I prefer my crew to stick around for a few episodes.

Why Starport Scum over 5150 you might ask? Solid question! I think the opened-ended TRAIT system (which is extended in the core rules to work for gear, weapons, conditions, etc) plays nicely into a solitaire game. I’m often already writing down WORDS that mean things I need to remember for my game’s state.” If I mark a word in ALL CAPS that’s a great reminder to myself that something happened in this game that influences the mechanics. Feels like less bookkeeping that way. I will say that Starport Scum’s job engine (encounter system) and advancement system are not as fine tuned as that in the 5150 titles - Encounters and Rep” are very well done in the THW line. I think the streamlined mechanics of Scum are a solid benefit over some of the nuances that are found across the THW titles. I can keep the Scum mechanic in my head without any page flipping. I don’t think one is necessarily head & shoulders better than the other though - so it comes down to a matter of your own preferences.

October 11, 2022

Travelling the Lanes with Osman Celik, Log 06

Morning on Allenby B557455-B, 013-3466, Old Gaepri, Residential District

A lone Cr900 bottle of liquor stands on a small table in Osman’s apartment. Osman is having breakfast, pacing the room, and occasionally pauses to stare back at the bottle. He sighs, pockets his hand computer, grabs the bottle, and leaves the apartment.

Carderas Assets HQ, please.” says Osman as he climbs into a air taxi.

Driver reaction: 2d6: [6, 5] = 11 Enthusiastic.
Possibly a chance for some chit-chat, maybe about the news.

Custom Random News Headline (51,35): Escaped bioweapon, on a red zone planet

The drive nods and strikes up a conversation. You hear what they are saying happened on Gough?”

The terraforming accident?” questions Osman.

Nah, that’s the official line. My pal in the service told me it was a bioweapon experiment gone wrong.”

Bioweapon. Sure, could be…” Osman trails off more focused on his next steps. The Driver continues chatting about other elaborate conspiracy theories they believe are destroying the galaxy.

Morning on Allenby B557455-B, 013-3466, New Gaepri, Carderas Assets HQ

Mythic Meanings - locations, general: Tall, Echo

The air taxi pulls up to a narrow glass building that reaches quite a ways up - like many of the natives on Allenby. Once inside the interoir is lit with a sterile blue glow and Osman’s boots echo across a mostly empty interoir featuring an reception desk and panel of elevators.

I’m here to see Duchess Valencia Carderas.” says Osman cooly.

Do you have an appointment?” asks the receptionist.

Osman places the bottle on top of the reception desk.

Receptionist reaction 2d6: [3, 6] = 9 Intrigued.

One moment, please have a seat.” says the receptionist as they tap an earpiece. Call Valencia Carderas. Hello, I have an individual downstairs that I think you will want to know about.”

Osman takes the bottle back and sits down on a stainless steel bench. He hears a whirring sound, looks up, and notices a camera is pointed at him.

Valencia (presumably via an assistant) reaction: 2d6: [1, 1] = 2 Violent. Immediate attack.

Guards surprise, 1d6: [2]
Osman surprise, 1d6: [5] surprise achieved

ESCAPE AND AVOIDANCE A party which has achieved surprise may always avoid an encounter by so stating. — Book 01, Characters & Combat

Initial range; 2d6-5: [1, 4]-5 = 0 (1: Short)

Besides the bench and reception desk is there anything else Osman could use? 2d6: [2, 5] = 7 Yes, but
Going to assume it is like oversized, extremely heavy planters. He can’t move them but he could run to them if desired.

Moments later the elevator bell rings, the doors open, and two extremely large people dressed in dark black formal suits step out. Osman frowns and ducks behind the bench, attempts to turn it over as an obstacle, and makes a run for the door.

The bench must be heavy, so Throw under 7 (STR 9, -DM 2): 2d6: [6, 5] = 11 Nope.

They look directly at Osman, pull out a pair of SMGs, and open fire. Glass is shredded to pieces and people on the street start running in panic. Osman is out the door and running for his life. He darts down an alley…

  • Daily Legal Encounter (5-) 2d6-5: [6, 6] = 7 None. (-5 DM as a shots fired” modifier)
  • Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: [5] Yes.
  • Random Person: (1d610) + 1d6: ([6]10)+[5] = 65 GMs choice”
    • Reaction: 2d6: [6, 6] = 12 Genuinely friendly.
    • Adventure Crafter, Character Identity: Athlete, Thief
    • Adventure Crafter, Character Descriptors: Arrogant, Helpful

… and sees a air/raft hover off the ground.

Get in.”

Osman hesitates and looks behind him again.

You got another option? Otherwise, get in. I’m your guardian angel.”

Osman climbs into the car and the pair head skyward to the traffic lanes.

Who are you?” asks Osman.

We have a mutual friend… and enemy it seems. You are either really brave or extremely dumb to waltz into Carderas like that.”

Where are we headed, the starport?” Osman takes a look around and infers their destination from their surroundings.

Yes. Nivelle to be exact.”

Nivelle? That’s clear across the subsector. I’m not going there.”

You are a pilot right? I need a pilot. I hear you need credits too. I can help with that as well.”

Mythic Meanings, starships: Automated, Colorful

The vehicle passes through the starport checkpoints and descends towards a docking bay. On the pad is a ship painted safety orange” and a set of robots are working on the ship.

How did you know to find me? You work for Havva?”

You ask a lot of questions, son. You run your mouth like that at Carderas? No wonder they wanted to shut you up.”

Run my mouth? I didn’t even get to talk to anyone.”

Run with my crew for a bit and you’ll learn to take care of yourself. The pay will be good and, at least for tonight, no one will be shooting you.”

Osman considered his options. They seemed extremely thin at the moment. The air/raft came to a rest near their starship. One of the small robots interacted with the ship and a landing dock lowered down.

One job. I pilot you to Nivelle and you get me back here?” said Osman.

Could be one job. Could be more. Right now you’ve angered a crime family that wants to shoot you on sight apparently. Why you would want to come back here beats me.”

You bring me back here or no deal.”

The air/raft, now docked inside the ship, came to a stop. The driver exited the vehicle and Osman followed.

Look, I can bring you back here when the heat simmers down. I hear you are good pilot, why would you want to be dead instead?” said the Driver.

I have family.”

Best we leave them out of this.”

What do I call you?”

Custom Random Space Opera Names: Jet Reth (lol, what even is this name?)

Captain will do for now.” says the driver.

One of the small robots, with narrow legs, hastily walks towards Captain Jet Reth.

C-C-Captain Reth, repairs are complete and the ship is ready to depart.”

Reth pats the robots on the head and it walks itself over to what appears be a purpose-built docking station for the robot itself. The other small robots follow suit and lock-in to their own stations.

Ready to earn your pay? We’ll need docking clearance and navigation solution to Nivelle. The jump gate to Pershing should be open. I assume you can work out the rest?”

Your charts are up to date?”

Just downloaded the latest data. That is assuming these buckets of bolts did what I asked.”

Is this the crew’?” Osman makes a show of putting sarcastic air quotes around the word crew as he says it.

I this the whole crew, unlikely? 2d6-1: [5, 4]-1 = 8 Yes.

Yep, that’s them.”

What the hell do you do exactly?”

I get into places that don’t want to be gotten into.”

Ok. Just show me to the bridge.”

The pair climb several ladders until they reach an area with some familiar navigation equipment.

That’s a military grade sensor computer… where did you get this stuff?”

I have friends too, Osman.”

What happened to your last pilot?”

For a moment the Captain looks distant. They had to leave the crew. It was their time.” after a quiet moment Reth continues So, the seat is yours. You can adjust it… you know play with all the knobs later if you like but get us moving first.”

Yes, Captain.”

GM Notes

Osman definitely doesn’t do things I would do but to me the spirit of Traveller is playing the character. Osman has enough raw ability to be good at many things but he’s also fairly young (in the grand scheme of things) and naive. If it wasn’t for the surprise I think he’d wound up seriously injured at the Carderas HQ (possibly even dead if I thought the dice wanted that strongly enough.)

This whole Captain Reth storyline is just purely what came to mind with the random tables rolls. A random person encounter, that is one of the blank entries and the reaction roll is a 12? What else could it be then someone dropped into Osman’s world ready to change their life? The Adventure Crafter character suggestions painted a picture to me of one of those brash, bold smuggler captain types. I just ran with that first picture that came into my mind.

Was Havva Taş having Osman watched and stepped in? I don’t honestly don’t know and I’ll leave it to the dice to tell me. For now we get to go visit another world (and maybe another ruleset.)

October 4, 2022

Travelling the Lanes with Osman Celik, Log 05

Been sick with the flu so this gameplay report has taken a while to post.

Morning on Allenby B557455-B, 012-3466, New Gaepri Starport

Daily rolls:

  • Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [2, 5] = 7. None.
  • Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: [2]. None.
  • Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: [6]. Yes.
    • (1d610) + 1d6: ([5]10)+[2] = 52 3, Traders - again?
      • From the same group of Traders Osman ran into before? 2d6: [6, 4] = 10 Yes
    • Reaction: 2d6: [3, 1] = 4 Hostile. Attacks on 8+.
      • Attacks? 2d6: [1, 1] = 2

Look, Silvie, it is the numbnuts who asks too many questions.” says a gruff looking Trader who catches Osman looking at them.

3d44: [10, 18, 15] 1001 Characters, Thugs (Law Level 6-):

  • Silvie B65669, Club
  • Kerem 6B5576, Pistol
  • Elias A93328, Pistol

Silvie cracks their knucles, looks at Osman, and starts walking towards him.

Alright, alright…” Osman, in an old Navy mechanics outfit, stands up from the crate he was trying to hide behind. No, need for any trouble. I’m looking to buy some liquor and I hear you are the folks to talk to.”

Who sent you?” asks Silvie.

My buyer wishes to remain anonymous. We were told you can hook us up with the good stuff, from the Carderas distilleries.”

Feels like trying to make a connection with Streetwise, which Osman does not have. Based on the skill guidance in Book 01, I’ll call it a throw of 5+ on 2d6 with the -5 DM for no expertise”.

2d6-5: [2, 6]-5 = 3 Nope.

Your buyer don’t know jack buddy.”

Will the Traders let Osman walk away or does he know to much”> 2d6: [5, 4] = 9 Yes

Now, get out of here before I rearrange your face.” says Silvie who punches a fist into his open hand. Osman assumes the hand represents his face.

Late Morning on Allenby B557455-B, 012-3466

Walking away from the loading docks, Osman takes a look around for the administration offices.

Hi, sorry to bother you, I’m looking to review the transaction logs from six days ago. We believe some Navy gear may have been illegal sold that day.”

Admin’s reaction 2d6: [2, 6] = 8 Interested

Really? You are the second party to ask about the logs for that day. You working with the police?”

This is a private Navy investigation, sir.” says Osman who stands up a little taller.

Throw Admin 8+ to get access to the records: 2d6+1: [4, 2]+1 = 7 Nope.

You know I’d really like to help you but your superior will need to file the proper paperwork to review the logs.”

Osman ponders this and pulls out his hand computer, he punches in a few numbers and slides the screen over to the admin. Bank transfer, Cr600” the screen says.

Admin reaction to being bribed, 2d6: [6, 3] = 9 Intrigued
Throw Bribery 8+: 2d6-5+2: [6, 6]-5+2 = 9 (Doubles!) -Cr600

The admin takes the hand computer and keys in their personal number. Now that you mention it, I forgot I already processed paperwork this morning. Let me pull up what you are looking for. Six days ago, sales logs you said?”

Transaction logs, ship registries, inspections, the works.” He waits for the admin to transfer the files to his hand computer. Osman thanks the admin, walks away, and begins to page through the transactions for that day.

Was their only one sale of liquor that day? (unlikely) 2d6-1: [3, 5]-1 = 7 Yes, but.

Hrm, perhaps the name here is an alias? stolen? forged? Obviously meta-knowledge and solo play aren’t great friends but we will just make do.

1001 Characters, Merchants - 1d136: [16] Prasad Johar 978644, Age 36

Prasad Johar, 15 tons of liquor

Osman taps over to see who Prasad sold to that day.

Was is the traders from before? (likely) 2d6+1: [5, 4]+1 = 10 Yes

Silvie, of course.” Osman considers what to do next. The liquor is probably on the black market already but has Prasad left town?

Does Prasad have a ship register to them? 2d6: [4, 6] = 10 Yes.
Random ship name: Plucky Possum

Osman taps back to Prasad’s name and drills down to see a ship registry entry, Plucky Possum.

Has it left town? 2d6+2: [5, 4]+2 = 11 Yes
Destination. 2 space routes: 1) Birdwood 2) Pershing. 1d2: [2] Pershing.

_Plucky Possum_, departed 011-3466, destination Pershing.

Osman sighs. Lacking a ship he’d have no way to track down this lead. He could try to call in favor to have the ship held up at Pershing but by the time the message made it to Pershing, Prasad could be long gone. That’s assuming Prasad even went to Pershing, Osman is well aware that not every merchant ship keeps to their flight plan.

Osman tries his luck with Silvie’s ship one last time…

Has their ship left? 2d6+1: [5, 5]+1 = 11 Yes

… only to find they’ve left their berth. Osman, Cr600 poorer, heads off to lose more money at the TAS lounge.

Noon on Allenby B557455-B, 012-3466, New Gaepri TAS Lounge

1d6 5+ to hear a rumor: 1d6: [6] Yes.
Traveller Bok Rumor Matrix & List: 2d6: [2, 1] G: Location Data
Mythic character descriptors, physical: Drab, Stocky

Liquor? Yeah, sure I heard something about that.” says a muscular man in plain clothes.

Reaction Throw, how interested are they in giving it up? 2d6: [1, 2] = 3 Hostile.

It’ll cost you though, nothing is free on Allenby kid.”

Osman slides over his hand computer, ready to process a Cr300 transfer.

Throw 8+ to have the man take the bribe: 2d6: [3, 6] = 9


Location: (Augmented Reality Cyberpunk City Kit)

  • Random Building: Bar (1 story)
  • Random Features:
    • Unusually Busy
    • Front For Criminal Activity

A local restauranteur, Pagani Martin, just opened a new bar called the Blue Parrot in Old Gaepri. Pagani is as dirty as they come, I’m sure he’s involved with the liquor smuggling.”

Osman thanks the man and catches a air taxi back to Old Gaepri.

Evening on Allenby B557455-B, 012-3466

Osman walks up to the Blue Parrot and immediately notices the line to get in.

Are any of the bouncers ex-Navy, unlikely. 2d6-1: [5, 2]-1 = 6 No, but
Reaction: 2d6: [2, 6] = 8 Interested.
Mythic character descriptors, physical: Fancy, Rough

Melek!” Osman vigorously shakes hands with an old acquaintance from Pershing. What are you doing here?”

Keeping riff-raff like you out, ha!” says a grizzled looking face who is sharply dressed.

Osman frowns. Seriously, I heard you went into the Army?”

Mustered out, friend. You know they don’t keep the Army over-enlisted. All the money goes to the Navy.”

Any chance I’m on the list for tonight?” Osman says with a forced wink.

Reaction Throw: 2d6: [5, 4] = 9 Intrigued.

Yeah, why not! Go spend all your Navy money at the bar so they can line my pockets” Melek says with a hearty laugh.

Inside, purple and gold light flood over the entry way. The bar is packed and smokey. At each of the small round tables, groups are crowded around ornate fountain-like instruments. Osman watches someone pick up a tube connected to the fountains, put to their mouth, and exhale out a puff of smoke. The maître d’ interrupts Osman’s gaze and shows him to the bar.

What’ll you have?” asks a tender faced bartender.

Surprise me. I want something no one has ever had before.”

2d6: [3, 1] = 4 Hostile. Attacks on 8+.
2d6: [5, 2] = 7 Attacks (Calls cops?). No.

You a cop? Geez, just order something normal like everyone else.”

Sure, Cognac. Neat.” Osman sighs. A moment later a small glass of golden brown liquor arrives. Osman take his glass and walks around, looking for any doors that might lead to the less public parts of the establishment.

Throw 9- (INT), 2d6: [1, 4] = 5.

A change in the lighting catches Osman eye as he sees a single door in a double-door set open inwards. Walking a little closer, but keeping his distance, Osman observes a crowded scene in a red room. Lots of sharply dressed people huddled over various tables. Gambling, Osman guesses. On the opposite end of the room a door swings open and food is brought out. The kitchen.

Osman pulls out his hand computer and walks confidently towards the kitchen door. He burst in and tries to identify the head chef.

Throw 9- (INT), 2d6: [2, 6] = 8

He looks between two folks and picks one I’m working up marketing material for our new menu and the boss wants me to work in some notes from the kitchen on how you are pairing foods with our new liquor options.”

Reaction: 2d6: [4, 4] = 8 Interested

Really? You hear that Ilya?” the man slaps the other on the shoulder. The boss has finally taken an interest in the menu.”

Does the cook staff know about the new liquor 2d6: [1, 5] = 6 No, but

He continues You probably know about whats coming in here than I do. Drea did give me a little sip of something new’ she said earlier today. Had hints of freckled pears. That’s why I added a special of feta cheese wrapped with phyllo, honey and sesame seeds.”

Osman pretends to write this all down. Thanks, this is great. I’ll send out a blast about it. Just going to go check out the new stuff and make some notes.”

Osman wonders off through the kitchen towards the stock area.

Is the liquor there? 2d6+1: [2, 4]+1 = 7 Yes, but
what’s the but? descriptor+focus: Stolen Salvage
… is it damaged? Maybe Pagani’s crew stole it from Silvie’s.

Osman eventually finds a set of crates with the Carderas corporate markings. The crates are damaged though and some are filled with mostly broken bottles. Osman grabs a bottle as proof and tucks into his jacket’s inner pocket.

Does Osman encounter anyone on his way out? 2d6: [5, 4] = 9 Yes 2d6: [4, 1] = 5 Hostile. May attack. Mythic character descriptors, physical: Stocky, Scented

Who are you?” a tough and well cologned-man asks.

Publicist, I’m new. Helping to promote the club.” Osman fibs.

Outright telling a lie. Charisma check in some system. Throw under SOC? What skill might apply here? It is not quite any of the social skills like Admin, Bribery, Gambling, or Streetwise. One of the failings of early Traveller, and Marc Miller recently acknowledged this in an interview, is that it does not have solid conflict rules. Throw under SOC it is I guess.
Throw SOC (8-) 2d6: [5, 2] = 7

The man nods and wonders off as Osman quickly makes haste in the opposite direction. Osman decides it is best to call it a night. Maybe the retrieved bottle can earn Osman a new patron tomorrow.

GM Notes

A bit of a disjointed game as I started it a while ago and dropped it after I became sick. Picking up the pieces and trying to move the game forward again.

September 22, 2022

Travelling the Lanes with Osman Celik, Log 04

A lack of events eventually leads to an interesting connecting-the-dots experience for Osman.

Allenby B557455-B, 004-3466

Daily rolls:

  • Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [3, 6] = 9. None.
  • Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: [3]. None.
  • Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: 2 None.

So, they wanted the briefcase with the actual sample but Osman effectively got them similar information another way. Are they satisfied? seems like a reaction throw. Gonna toss in a +1 DM for Osman’s attempt what he found them wasn’t useless by any means.

2d6+1: [5, 4]+1 = 10. Responsive.

So you got creative, Mr. Celik. Well done.” says Devika as she pages through Osman’s files on her computer. Yes, I think everything is in order here. I’ll instruct our patron to transfer the funds to your account.”

-Cr20 meals
Osman +Cr10000 (5095->15095)

Allenby B557455-B, 005-3466

Daily rolls:

  • Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [2, 6] = 8. None.
  • Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: [4]. None.
  • Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: 1 None.

-Cr50 meals, museum ticket

Osman spends the day at the Old Gaepri art museum.

Allenby B557455-B, 006-3466

Daily rolls:

  • Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [2, 6] = 7. None.
  • Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: [6]. Yes.
    • 2d6-2: [3, 4]-2 = 5 Major
  • Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: [3] None.

Kina figured one of these legal rolls would pop it would be the hotel connecting Osman to the beatings of two employees but perhaps Dame Havva’s connections have hushed up any investigation. I imagine this planet is rather corrupt.

-Cr120, taxis, food.

Osman, curious, heads down to the starport to do a little commodities trading. There’s a strong storm blowing through the settlements of Old & New Gaepri today. The taxis are busy and it takes Osman a while to find one. He tips the overworked drivers well.

First of all, Osman doesn’t have the capital to do this type of investment but I wanted to remember how this worked in the original rules.

The 1977 rules appear to assume a player-run starship for trading, though there are references to chartering ships for travel. Other Traveller games I’ve read/played assume the PCs might buy & sell cargo but without their own ship. Zozer’s SOLO goes into some detail about this so I will sprinkle in a few details from those rules if necessary.

The Broker section in the 1977 rules is oddly written. It says there are four types of brokers but then does not clearly explain what this means. The Traveller Book clears this up by having a table of DM +1 through DM +4 Brokers (and their fees); It is not that there are 4 types” but that there is one type of Broker and there are 4 different levels of expertise. Perhaps this was clear to others but I thought the presentation was clumsy. Types could’ve referred different classes of cargo or different types of brokers that handle different segments of the transaction. As usual I’ve overthought things.

  • What? (1d610)-10 + 1d6: (210)-10+[3] = 13 Liquor
  • How many? 1d65: [3]5 = 15 Tons
  • How much? (Admin-1) 2d6-1: [2, 6]-1 = 7 100%
  • Cr10000 per ton. 150,000 for the lot. Can be purchased in partial lots but with a 1% additional processing fee

Osman finds a seller who strikes up a conversation, eager to move some crates of liquor. He does some quick math in his head and realizes he doesn’t have the means to pull this deal off. He heads back home somewhat discouraged but with a better understanding of the economics of speculative trading.

Allenby B557455-B, 007-3466

Daily rolls:

  • Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [5, 5] = 10. None.
  • Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: [5]. Yes.
    • 2d6-2: [3, 5]-2 = 6 Moderate
  • Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: 1 None.

-Cr60, food.

Light rain keeps Osman close to home today, he decides to do some shopping to avoid having to eat out so much.

Allenby B557455-B, 008-3466

Daily rolls:

  • Weekly patron roll (5+), 1d6: [4]. None.
  • Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [1, 6] = 7. None.
  • Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: 2. None.
  • Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: [3] None.

Osman calls Devika on the secure phone.

The client was very happy with your work, Mr. Celik. We will keep a low profile for a few days but I’ll be in touch again soon.”

Allenby B557455-B, 009-3466

Daily rolls:

  • Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [5, 5] = 10. None.
  • Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: [3]. None.
    • 2d6-2: [3, 5]-2 = 6 Moderate
  • Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: [4] None.

Not a ton happening, I think we’ll turn to the Travelling Alone sequence and see what happens.

    1. Upkeep: Nothing relevant. Next (4)
    1. Sell Equipment/Misc. Next (5)
    • Throw 9+ to find buyer for Low Passage - 2d6: [5, 5] = 10
      • +Cr900
    1. Event: (1d610) + 1d6: ([5]10)+[6] = 56. Gear/Ship issue.
    • -Cr40 Boots.
    1. Options. Self-improvement progress towards Electronics-0.
    1. Buy/Sell Equipment. None needed.
    1. End

For a moment Osman thinks a pair of local cops are tailing him but they turn and wonder off in another direction. Osman heads over to the Old Gaepri market where he finds someone interested in buying a spare Low Passage ticket he earned in the Navy. He finds a desperate buyer and sells it for Cr900.

The last two rain storms have taken a toll on Osman’s footwear so he buys a new pair of boots at an outdoor recreational store.

From there he heads to the local library. His encounter with the electronic lock has stuck with him and he realizes he needs to start learning more about electronics.

Traveller has these self-improvement rules based around picking up Level-2 in a skill after 4 years of study. That still feels pretty spot on to me. There’s very little guidance for okay, but what about level-0?” I can tell you my at-the-time eleven year old wanted to learn basic electronics and programming. They bought maybe $60 USD of kit, read a guide, and watched some YouTube videos. In about 30 days they had taught themselves wiring, circuits, reading sensor data, controllers, motors, etc. Hard for someone in the late 1970s to anticipate how quickly one could bring themselves up to level-0 in many skill areas with the Internet.

Allenby B557455-B, 010-3466

Daily rolls:

  • Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [6, 1] = 7. None.

  • Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: [4]. None.

  • Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: [6]. Yes.

    • (1d610) + 1d6: ([5]10)+2 = 52, 7 Traders with a Vehicle.
    • Reaction 2d6: [6, 1] = 7 Non-committal.
  • Self-improvement progress towards Electronics-0.

  • Cr100 Taxis, drinks

After a morning session of library studying, Osman heads to the TAS lounge. He strikes up a conversation with a group of traders who need to move cargo from the starport to Old Gaepri. They trade pleasantries with Osman but they aren’t looking for help and don’t offer any actionable leads. In fact whatever they are doing on Allenby they seem to be keeping to themselves about. Osman makes a mental note.

Allenby B557455-B, 011-3466

Daily rolls:

  • Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [1, 5] = 6. None.
  • Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: [4]. None.
  • Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: [6]. Yes.
    • (1d610) + 1d6: ([5]10)+[5] = 55, Noble with retinue (6)
    • Noble’s title 1d6+10: [5] 1) duke, 2) duchess 1d2: 2 duchess
    • From Allenby (yes) or elsewhere (no)? 2d6: [5, 4] = 9 Yes.
    • 2d6: [4, 2] = 6 Unreceptive.

Osman decides to try out a cantina near the art district. The Duchess Valencia Carderas is there with group and Osman tries to integrate himself into their conversations but they ignore him.

Osman wonders if the Carderas family are involved in whatever the traders were delivering to Old Gaepri yesterday.

We’ll give Osman a shot on a 5+ to pick up a rumor, 1d6: [5] Yes!

What industry are they in? I’ll use my custom corporation generator I wrote once upon a time… I think it includes some random table concepts from a Stars Without Number supplement… Suns of Gold?

  • Carderas Assets
  • Industry: Liquor
  • Reputation & Rumors: Lost money to an smuggler who evaded arrest

Listening in on their conversations he picks up on few details. They are in town delivering shipments of a brand new liquor to local restaurants. They seem to have lost a shipment of these liquors. Osman thinks back to the trader he ran into earlier in the week and then the tight lipped traders. He decides tomorrow he’ll head back to the starport and ask a few questions. Tracking down the smuggler could make a friend of the Duchess and Osman could clearly use a few more friends.

Random rolls for the win!

GM Notes

The downside of random events is nothing prompts your brain to act and so your character(s) have to be proactive. Possibly I should’ve thrown Osman to the wolves and let something happen sooner but I’m happy with how this ended up.

I may need to follow Andy Slack’s lead and roll-up events across the week and then weave them back into a story. I believe that’s how he handle time and events during his solitaire Traveller game.

September 21, 2022

Travelling the Lanes with Osman Celik, Log 03

Game Setup

Housekeeping: Osman spent some credits at the coffeeshop of course. Cr5 we’ll say.

Daily rolls:

  • Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [5, 5] = 10. None.
  • Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: [2]. None.
  • Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: [2] None.

This is a mixed game session, with some chit-chat but we finally get around to the mission (and punching!) so hang in there.

Allenby B557455-B, 003-3466

New Gaepri Starport, the Travellers Aid Society building, please.” says Osman as he gets into a taxi.

Any chance the taxi driver makes for good conversation?
Reaction throw 2d6: [1, 6] = 7. Non-committal. Nope. Cab fare Cr-40

Osman pays the driver the cab fee and a generous tip. Solitude is priceless, Osman figures.

Stepping out into the busy starport of New Gaepri, Osman notices that most seem occupied with their own inner thoughts. He makes his way to the TAS entrance. A video screen displays several scenes of the luxury of High Passage, friendly faces, and a voice over saying In these troubles times, it’s good to know you’ve got a friend.” It is followed up with several news blurbs from the TAS News Service.

What’s the news? I’ll throw three pairs of actions + themes from Starforged:

  • Withdraw Hope
  • Evade Warning
  • Falter World

A terraforming project on the remote world of Gough has ended in disaster after unstable conditions, which scientists had warned about, escalated into a planet-wide calamity. Millions of people were left behind in with little more than the hulls of the colony ships they came on. Osman wondered who would let such a thing happen.

Can I help you?” ask the TAS desk agent.

Borrowing something from Zozer’s SOLO: Throw 10+ to meet an old friend 2d6: [6, 5] = 11

Who? Well let’s just pick someone at random from 1001 Characters Navy characters 1d136: [68].
I’m going GM fudge this roll and make it 69 because the entry right below this one has the TAS benefit. Sue me.

Elif Turan, Commander 389577 Age 38 Vacc Suit-3, Gunnery-3, Ship’s Boat-1, Dagger-1, SMG-2

Mythic character descriptors, physical:

  • Masculine
  • Familiar

Reaction to meeting Osman? Throw in a +1 for frienship. 2d6+1: [6, 4]+1 = 11. Enthusiastic.

Yes, I’m here to meet a friend in the lounge.” says Osman as they hand over their membership ID chip. Commander Turan?”

Of course, right this way, Lieutenant Commander Celik.”

The agent walks Osman into the lounge and points him towards a table where he sees a muscular man with a similar skin tone as his own.

Turan stands up. Osman! Good to see you again.” And the two embrace before sitting down together.

How’s the Navy?”

Oh, the usual Osman. You know the drill. Forms, delays, and… politics. You hear from your family on Pershing?”

Not often. My father gets a message to me from time-to-time, in between merchant runs. Are you still running that old maintenance boat?”

Indeed, cleaning up the usual messes but surely you didn’t come to talk about welding hulls?”

Osman takes a look around the room and moves closer in There’s a group here from Danilov.”

Elif cuts off Osamn Geez, what did yourself caught up in?”

Nothing you wouldn’t do for your family.”

Elif nods.

Danilov. I need them to stick around for a few days. Any contacts you have that could… delay their departure clearances?”

Can Elif help? Yes/No Oracle, Likely 2d6+1: [5, 2]+1 = 8 Yes. Does Elif want payment? Yes/No Oracle, 50/50 2d6: [1, 6] = 7 Yes, but.

Yeeeah, I could make that happen. It’ll cost you though. Trade me your next TAS High Passage.”

Osman ponders this, he could it use for his own family on Pershing but where would he put them? Osman has more work to do before he can help his family find a better life here.

Alright, deal.”

The waiter comes over with the check.

Also, you get the bill.” says Elif as he slides it over to Osman.

Of course.”

Travellers’ Aid Society facilities pro- vide excellent quality meals to members and guests for CR 20.” — Book 03, Page 15.
Osman: -Cr20. Now down to Cr5155 in the bank and short a future high passage.

Afternoon on Allenby B557455-B, 003-3466

Osman strolls up to the Barbatius Hotel in his naval dress and walks to the front desk.

Hello, I’m looking to host an event for a collection of naval officers. I was wondering if I could take a look at your event spaces?”

I figure in an abstract way this is an Administration throw:

When contact with officials is required, understanding of their needs and motives will assist in dealings with them. A basic throw of 7+ will successfully resolve normal interaction without further problems.”

Osman is hoping this hotel official needs business.

2d6+1: [2, 5]+1 = 8

Random character from 1001 Characters, Others 1d136: [29]

Geli Sabin 996656, Computer-1, Steward-1

Mythic character descriptors, physical:

  • Cute
  • Frail

Geli’s reaction to Osman 2d6: [5, 5] = 10. Responsive.

Certainly, let me notify our Events Coordinator.”

Osman waits for a moment and narrow women in a brightly colored dress appears. She leads Osman on a tour of several event spaces and asks several questions, trying to determine Osman’s requirements.

Osman is primarily interested in whether there are any robots employed within their Hotel’s staff.

Book 08, Robots says On worlds of tech level 12 or greater (and an rare occasions, on worlds of tech level 10 or 11) characters may expect to encounter robots in the course of their activities.”

Are Robots used with staff? 2d6+2: [1, 4]+2 = 7 Yes, but.

Maybe there’s a Star Wars-like distrust of robots on Allenby. Presumably the population, desperate to climb the corporate ladder out of poverty, is not keen on robots taking their jobs.

Robots? Certainly not, Lieutenant…? Celerk… For serving event attendees we would only use humans.”

Osman nods, better she misremember his name he supposes.

You will find robots in The Barbatius amongst our housekeeping staff. We also employ a robot bartender but you would not see them during your event. For janitorial stuff during an event they would be humans.”

Osman thanks the woman for her time and says he’ll be in touch.

Just one last thing, m’am. May I take a few photos of the spaces?”

Do we still have photos in the year 3466? Who knows. I assume the Hand Computer Osman has is similar to iPhone tho. Whether it is a holographic camera or whatever…

Would Geli let Osman take photos? 2d6: [5, 1] = 6 No, but

No, but you may have these samples instead.” she hands him a data chip This also contains details about each space, number of occupants, etc. Also, my business contact is on there. If you wish to discuss pricing details, please contact me directly.”

Osman will make an attempt to loose the attention of the lobby staff when they return to the lobby. Marc Miller has said that throwing equal or under a characteristic was a tool a referee should employ, so we’ve got (9-, DEX) 2d6: [4, 5] = 9

An attendant tries to walk Osman out but it is busy in the lobby and just as a series of guests walk in with their luggage, Osman slips out of view.

He’s without a key card to access the elevator but he searches around for a maintenance area.

I wouldn’t normally call for a throw here but it is like using an Yes/No Oracle in my mind. I’m going to grant a +1 given the time Osman spent as a ship mechanic. Is it the same as Hotel mechanic, no. But a maintenance room, is a maintenance room, etc. The signage is the same and it is probably somewhere completely difficult for an ordinary person to stumble onto. (10- INT+1) 2d6: [3, 1] = 4

Is it locked? Very likely. 2d6+2: [6, 2]+2 = 10. Yes.

Is it an electronic lock? Very likely. 2d6+2: [2, 3]+2 = 7. Yes, but.

Is there somewhere to hide? likely. 2d6+1: [3, 4]+1 = 8

How many maintenance people might return? I’ll use the Two Hour Wargames party size formula:

(1d3+1)-1d3: ([2]+1)-[3] = 0 (never less than 1)

Random Maintenance Guy from 1001 Characters, Others: A8759A Engineering-I, Vacc-1, Blade-1

  • Surprise, Osman 1d6: [4] vs. Rando 1d6 [3].
  • Range. 2d6-5: [2, 5]-5 = 2 Close, In physical contact; touching.
  • Does the rando try to escape? 2d6: [3, 1] = 4 No
  • Does the rando try to evade? 2d6: [6, 3] = 9 Yes. -1 DM to Osman
  • Osman will stand.
  • Osman throws a punch. 2d6-1+3+1+2+1: [4, 2]-1+3+1+2+1 = 12
    • The -1 was for the rando evading.
    • The +3 is because the other person is untrained” in Brawling. So is Osman, but all PCs are considered to have Weapons-0.
    • The +1 is for the defender having no armor.
    • The +2 is for the defender at close range.
    • The last +1 is for Osman STR of 9
  • Damage 1d6: [4]
  • First blood: 1) strength, 2) dexterity, or 3) endurance. 1d3: [1] strength. A->8.
  • Osman END 9 (9): 8 combat blows left.

new round:

  • Is there a Fire Extinguisher? 2d6: [4, 2] = 6 No, but
    • There’s a maintenance cart.
  • Does the rando try to evade, unlikely? 2d6-1: [5, 4]-1 = 8 Yes
  • Osman will stand” but I think he’s got his eye on maneuvering into a favorable position to utilize the maintenance cart
  • Osman throws another punch. 2d6-1+3+1+2+1: [1, 4]-1+3+1+2+1 = 11
  • Damage 1d6: [6] referee determines stat, I would default to END: 7->1
  • Osman END 9 (8): 7 combat blows left.

new round: Does the rando try to evade, very unlikely? 2d6-2: [6, 2]-2 = 6 No, but

  • they are trying to open range then, but they stay in close range for a round.
  • Osman will stand.
  • Rando will try to push Osman back into a wall or the cart to help open range. 2d6-1+2: [2, 4]-1+2 = 7. Misses.
    • Osman has no armor: -1
    • Osman is at close range: +2
  • Osman throws another punch. 2d6-1+3+1+2+1: [4, 3]-1+3+1+2+1 = 13
  • Damage 1d6: [6] END 1->0 (Unconscious, 10m.), STR 8->3.
  • Osman END 9 (7): 6 combat blows left.

end combat.

did anyone hear the scuffle? 2d6-1: [1, 2]-1 = 2 No, and

  • hrm, maybe the other maintenance staff called in sick today.

Osman locates the maintenance room but it is locked with an electronic biometric lock. He hides himself in the shadows and waits. A tough but older look maintenance person appears heading towards the door. Osman tries to surprise him but fails and the two get into a scuffle. Osman throws several punches while the maintenance man tries to push him away. The third punch knocks the man out cold and Osman drags him over to the door. He lifts the unconscious man’s hand to the lock and the door opens. Dragging the man insides he looks around for some rope to tie the man up.

Is there rope, likely? 2d6+1: [4, 6]+1 = 11 Yes.

After securing the maintenance worker, Osman takes their ID and changes into another maintenance workers jumpsuit. Osman stuffs his naval outfit into a duffel and puts it over his shoulder. He removes the radio from the worker’s belt, clips it on his own belt, and leaves.

Throw 8+ to disable the electronic door lock: 2d6: [2, 6] = 8.

Osman doesn’t have the Electronic skill but may have some general familiarity with concepts from time in the Navy. Book 01 does not give a clear no expertise” DM for Electronic and instead says the referee decides. Since we are just pulling wires… I figure it is 50/50.

Osman pries open the electronic door lock panel and takes a guess at which wires to sever. The lock’s screen dims as Osman presumably gets the right ones. He puts the duffel & toolkit on the maintenance cart and heads down the hallway looking for the maintenance elevator.

Evening on Allenby B557455-B, 003-3466

Has anyone checked on the maintenance staff? 2d6+1: [3, 1]+1 = 5 No. Why? Maybe Osman has been answering the normal radio calls?

Starforged descriptor focus: Abundant Environment. Broken room window?

In order to keep up the ruse, Osman deals with an actual hotel maintenance problem.

That should take of the jammed window, M’am. Apologies for the inconvenience.”

Osman’s attempt to swipe an extra keycard from the guest (throw DEX 9-): 2d6: [3, 5] = 8

Osman leaves the room, having pocketed an extra keycard hoping it will help cover his tracks.

Osman perception throw to find networking room (throw INT 9-) 2d6: [6, 2] = 8

He heads to middle lobby floor guessing that will be the best place for the networking room. His instincts are right because off the elevator lobby area is a door marked COMPUTER ROOM.

Does the maintenance keycard open the computer room? 2d6+2: [2, 3]+2 = 7 Yes, but.

  • It does but there’s someone inside. Citizens of the Imperium, scientists 1d40: 22

756568, Computer-1, Mechanical-5, Electronics-1

Going to guess their high Mechanical suggest they used to be maintenance staff here - so they’ll know Osman is fake.

Need a name for the rando mechanic: Servac

Oh, Hi?” the computer tech looks Osman over. Who the hell are you?”

New trainee, Servac sent me up here to check the air vents.”

Reaction throw 2d6-2: [2, 3] = 3 Hostile. Attacks on 5+. 2d6: [5, 1] = 6. Attacks.

Bullshit!” the computer tech lunges

  • Osman’s Combat Blows END has been restored to 9 having had 30+ minutes to recover

  • Surprise, Osman 1d6: [3] vs. Tech 1d6 [2].

  • Range. 2d6-5: [5, 6]-5 = 6 Medium, at pistol range, 6 to 50 meters.

    • Well okay it is not 50 minutes but 6 is probably about right. A little bigger than a car length I guess? Seems more than reasonable for a computer room.
  • Does the tech try to escape or evade? Referee fiat says no, they clearly are going to attack based on the reaction throw.

  • Tech will close range, running at double speed (counts as a combat blow” END (6->5)). As it takes 3 rounds to go from Medium to Short, we will say they can do it in 1 running (rounding down).

  • Osman will stand and throw the metal toolbox from the cart at the tech. Throw 18+ to hit: 2d6-3+1+9: [5, 6]-3+0+9 = 19

    • Seems like drawing” a weaponL -3 DM
    • +DEX per throwing rules”
    • +0 defender has no armor (“club”)
    • the rules say that daggers can be thrown at short range… but I don’t see why Osman can attempt to toss the toolkit given the room size. I suspect the medium” range really reflects things like chairs, tables, etc that are getting in the way
    • I don’t see how there is possibly an untrained defending penalty here… that’s absurd. who the hell trains against getting hit by a toolbox?
  • Damage (“Club”): 2d6-3: [4, 2]-3 = 3

  • First blood: 1) strength, 2) dexterity, or 3) endurance. 1d3: [1] strength. 7->4.

new round:

  • Range is now short. Did you know there are not rules for cover” in Book 01? Weird. If it comes into play I’ll just borrow this rule as guidance from Paul Elliot:

Cover: Targets are considered under cover if they are behind a solid object which a shot cannot penetrate. A character who has attacked from a covered position is allowed a defending DM of -4 when attacked. If the individual has not attacked from cover, he or she is not visible at the moment and may not be attacked.”

  • Is there space for Osman to ram the cart into the tech? 2d6: [1, 1] = 2 No, and. In fact it is like super cramped in here. Which sound like every server room I’ve ever spent time in.
  • Is there a monitor Osman can pick up? 2d6: [2, 5] = 7 Yes, but. There is but it is plugged into something.
  • Osman will stand but is effectively spending movement trying to wrestling the monitor out from the computer, wall, or whatever it is.
  • The tech at short range will close range. 1 round.
  • The tech will throw a punch. 2d6-1+1: [2, 4]-1+1 = 6
    • Osman has no armor -1 (in future rounds, having fully wrestled the monitor free I would grant Osman some form of improvised armor DM)
    • Osman is at short range +1
  • Osman will swing the monitor (“club”) at the tech. 2d6+0+2+2: [2, 3]+0+2+2 = 9
    • tech has no armor +0 (“club”)
    • tech is at short range +2
    • Osman’s STR gives him an advantagegous DM of +2
    • is there an untrained penalty here? probably? I dunno.
  • Damage: 2d6-3: [4, 5]-3 = 6
  • Damage goes to END which leaves the man unconscious for 10 minutes.
  • I’m just going to rule that the tech is out for three hours after Osman bashes this man again with the monitor, reducing another characteristics to zero. Would you make a player roll through this? Not me.

The tech is down the hallway in a cramped server room. They push out of their chair and start running towards Osman, who pickups and throws the toolkit at the tech. It hits the tech in the shoulder and they wince in pain. As the near Osman, preparing to throw a punch, Osman rips a status monitor off the wall and hits the tech in the head with the elbow-like corner of it. The tech crumples to the floor and Osman breaks the monitor over the tech’s skull.

Is Xasho Rer’Mis’s computer on the hotel network? 2d6: [2, 6] = 8 Yes.

Computer Programing was omitted from the 1977 rules but addressed in the Journal of the Traveller’s Aid Society #1, Page 7. But sadly these rules are really specific to Starship computer programs. Still we can borrow the min INT (7+) and Size rule as a DM.

Throw INT+Computer or less to find Xasho’s machine on the network (10-): 2d6: [2, 5] = 7

Osman sits down at a console and begins to scan for connected machines. Locating Xasho Rer’Mis’s personal computer, Osman grins and flexes his fingers. He begins to script a routine to access Xasho’s machine.

Throw INT+Computer-Size(1) or less to access Xasho’s machine (9-): 2d6: [6, 3] = 9

Nonetheless, there is always the possibility that such a program will have a fatal error and not function when actually used.” — Book 01, Page 17

Throw 7 exactly for a fatal error: 2d6: [6, 2] = 8

  • Are there detailed files about the glass sample? Likely 2d6+1: [6, 2]+1 = 9 Yes.
  • Is there a thumb-drive or whatever the heck passes for remote storage around here? Very likely. (ever been in a server room? people leave crap everywhere) 2d6+2: [4, 3]+2 = 9 Yes.

Gaining access, he scans Xasho’s machine for files pertaining to the detailed schematics of the glass sample. He plugs a remote disk into the console and copies the files he finds over. He closes out the terminal and switches back into his naval dress, leaving the maintenance clothes behind. He exits the room and uses the guest keycard to access the elevator to head back down to the lobby.

DEX- throw to avoid being seen? Probably. 2d6: [3, 4] = 7.

Osman weaves his weave in and out of the evening bar & dinner crowd to exit the hotel. Hailing a taxi he heads back home to rest.

Going to skip any interactions between Osman and the taxi driver… he’s too tired. Cab fare Cr-40

GM Notes

Well I probably messed up a rule somewhere but I had fun, so yay? I think that’s what matters. Combat is alright. Won’t lie, I greatly prefer Two Hour Wargame’s abstracted RPG-Counters/Mini battleboard combat system but this was entertaining in the 1-on-1 mode. For larger groups I might end up pulling my hair out.

Did Osman need to delay the Danilovians? Maybe not but it is a pretty typical player trope to over-think and plan is it not? Heh. I do think the scene between Elif and Osman establishes a bit of motivation for Osman to not just get a 9-5 job as a pilot somewhere. He wants to get his family off Pershing faster than it would take the honest way.

September 16, 2022

Travelling the Lanes with Osman Celik, Log 02

Game Setup

Let’s do our daily rolls and see what adventure we’ll have today:

  • Daily Legal Encounter (5-), 2d6: [2, 4] = 6. None.
  • Daily Weather Encounter (5+), 1d6: [1]. None.
  • Daily Person Encounter (5+) 1d6: [4] None.

Not everyday in Traveller is a randomly eventful one. This gives Osman more time to get into trouble on their own of course.

Some questions to set the opening scene then:

Osman went out to dinner, caught up with an old friend — possibly had too much to drink?
2d6: [1, 2] = 3 No

Did Havva stock the apartment with food for Osman? 2d6: [4, 6] = 10 Yes

Allenby B557455-B, 002-3466

It is morning on Allenby and Osman opens up various drawers and cupboards in the apartment’s kitchen to find something basic to eat. He remembers the supplements the government gave him, pours a glass of water, and takes one of the pills.

Osman takes the elevator down to the ground floor and walks to his meeting with Devika Verma. He passes some art galleries, a fashion boutique, and a VRcade. A large video screen inside the VRacade catches his eye. It shows a group of oversized robots fighting over a ball on a large field. Osman glances down at his watch to check the time.

Ok, well I didn’t take Osman on a shopping trip but he must have some items he acquired over the years even if they were mostly bought at the military base commissary. Mostly I’m want to build up additional backstory for the type of character Osman is.

Book 03, Personal Devices:

Wrist Watch (3) CR 25 to CR 1000. Price determines quality.”

What kind of watch does Osman like? reaction throw knows!

2d6: [4, 5] = 9

Fancy watches then. Maybe… -Cr750 for the watch

Also… where is the meeting taking place? I have several tools I could use here… including just making something up. I do have this lovely 5150 City Deck” of buildings so I’ll draw a card:

A simple overhead map of a studio apartment layout

Osman passes through several city blocks and notices that this side of Old Gaepri looks older, less put together. He walks up to the address he was given to find a gothic-style residential building. The downstairs apartment buzzer is broken but Osman finds a working elevator inside. Stopping off at the 6th floor, Osman locates the apartment door and knocks.

What does Devika look like? Mythic character descriptors, physical:

  • Hurt
  • Strange

A woman, taller than Osman, opens the door. She looks Osman over before stretching out a robotic arm and hand. Welcome to Allenby, I’m Devika.”

Thank you, Captain…” says Osman after shaking her hand and moving inside.

Devika cuts him off Just Devika is fine, the Army gave up on me so I gave up the title.”

Osman notices the apartment is mostly unfurnished, dusty. A safe house?

Devika spreads out several large printed photos on a table. She points to an individual in one photo and a gunmetal silver briefcase in another.

Xasho Rer’Mis 35BBB7 Liaison-3, Vehicle-2, Computer-1, Gun Combat-1

This is Danilov representive Xasho Rer’Mis and where we believe the sample is being kept at all times. The briefcase has a biometric lock that we observed Xasho unlocking with their thumbs during our meetings with them.””

Did they capture a biometric thumbprint from Xasho during this meeting? 2d6-1: [6, 6]-1 = 11 (Unlikely): Yes (Doubles)

Am I suppose to cut off their thumbs?” quips Osman.

We do have a sample of their thumbprint captured from a glass of water in the meeting but we believe there are additional safeguards. It is not unheard for Danilovians to use proximity based security mechanisms, such as this wrist band we observed Xasho wearing.” she slides forward another photo.

So, their wrist then.”

Hopefully you can get more creative than hacking off body parts.” Devika pauses and gives Osman a wry smille before continuing. They are staying in New Gaepri at the Barbatius. We have some contacts on the inside and if you need access there we may be able to help. The Danilovians are occupying the entire floor and we assume they’ve come with their own security measures.”

Osman starts to sift through the photos, picking up each one, and looking it over closely. He realizes he has no idea what he’s looking for.

Devika breaks his concentration Here’s a hand computer, it has some additional information you may find helpful. If you need to contact me, use this encrypted short-range communicator, modified by our techs here on Allenby to enhance the range to cover both populated settlements. Finally, here’s a printed thumbprint, you may be able to use if you can gain access to the briefcase. Obviously we haven’t been able to test it.”

Do you know what their security forces are carrying?” asks Osman.

You aren’t packing a gun are you?”

No. Just a basic Navy cutlass. I have been trained in the auto-pistol though…”

Devika waves him off Well that explains your proclivity for slicing things off. Pistols are banned here. Even the Danilovians won’t be carrying them. You also won’t be able to slice your way through the security folks, so try to be more creative.” she paused and then says Oh, Allenby’s Police do have access to pistols. Most of the street cops carry tasers but they can bring in armed reinforcements — let’s not have it escalate to that, alright? It is bad for business.”

Anything else?”

Check out the notes on the hand computer. There are some daily schedules and routines we’ve observed that you can put to use.”

Osman left the apartment and stopped at the local coffee shop. A free network access” sign at the shop made Osman wonder… were the Danilovians using the hotels network? Osman paged through the notes on the hand computer. Daily routines, types of food they liked, places they liked to visit, and so on.

Most of Osman’s time in the Navy had been free of violence, in fact many of the regional disputes were solved through shrewd negotiations though sometimes shows of force had been helpful. This assignment would be no different, Osman would need to find a weakness and exploit it.

GM Notes

I imagine Osman getting caught up in thinking he’s something he’s not (an assassin, a spy?) before realizing he’s a technician, a pilot… and he’s got Computer-1. He’s also got a TAS membership and a Naval rank - these thing might open a few doors.

September 16, 2022

Traveller 1977: Animal Encounters - Events

As someone who has mostly played in human-centric” space opera campaigns, I’ve never paid a ton of attention to Traveller’s Animal Encounter system. This is a bit of slap on my own wrist because I’m often the one to point out that close reading of your RPG books is more beneficial to you than buying more material. System mastery can reap long term rewards and allow you to spend less time homebrewing and hunting around for solutions.

The animal” system in Book 03 is somewhat misnamed because it is overloaded to handle a couple of concepts:

  • animals
  • aliens
  • events”

A decent chunk of the animal rules in Book 03 are really talking about generating fantastic science fiction aliens and beasts. Somewhat hidden in this system is also how to throw world events” at the PCs. Page 25 has a BLANK ENCOUNTER COLUMN table:

Die Terrain
2 S (Scavenger)
3 O (Omnivore)
4 S (Scavenger)
5 O (Omnivore)
6 H (Herbivore)
7 H (Herbivore)
8 H (Herbivore)
9 C (Carnivore)
10 E (Event)
11 C (Carnivore)
12 C (Carnivore)

A result of 10 is an E - Event but what are these?

Events: Events are not necessarily animals, comprising instead both geographic or geologic dangers, and special types of animals not ordinarily encountered. The following examples are provided, but more should be generated by the referee to cover the wide range of possibilities in the universe.” — Book 03, Page 31

There are several example events with a lovely set of hidden” procedures. Rough terrain, earthquakes, meteor showers, and storms. One of the few supplements I happen to have a hardcopy of is Supplement 2: Animal Encounters. For a variety of common world types it provided a set of pre-generated Animal Encounter tables (columns?.) All of them stick to the same formula for events though - throw 2d6 and on a 10 exactly you’ve got a world event.

There are a variety of weather based events in the Animal Encounters supplement:

Electrical Storm - Heavy winds and lightning force the party to halt for 12 hours. Unless a refuge (throw 7+ for a cave, cabin, etc) is found, then a lightning hit on electrical equipment (throw 9+) will incapacitate it.” — S02: Animal Encounters, Page 9

There are a number of other environmental challenges: tornados, radiation, soft ground, rough ground, stampedes, laser carbine-strength light-reflecting crystals, lengthy storms, forest fires, etc. It is a nice collection of referee ideas if you aren’t sure what exactly to do with E-Event and makes a good source of reference for figuring how to handle weather on your worlds.