Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Starfinder After Action Report - Initial Impressions


Here are a few observations and feelings I took away from tonight's Starfinder game:

1. It's definitely Pathfinder, but the little differences are just different enough to make that fact go down a tad smoother. I was thinking lot of Starfinder feels like it is built around alleviating some of the inherent design issues in the "min/max" power game aspects of the system, but the guy at the table who knows Starfinder (and Pathfinder) really, really well was already critiquing certain builds, which left a chill among all the PF survivors in the group.

2. The game was fun to play and I ran combats without a board and minis this time, mainly because we had plenty of boards but no minis, and the combats weren't too elaborate. Using "D&D 5E thought" works well enough at low level for Starfinder, but there were things that mechanically will make a different if you set it up on a board. I wish more games (including 5E) would include an optional chapter on Theater of the Mind mechanics, similar to the brilliant way in which 13th Age handles it. Once you have seen the simple beauty of a 13th Age combat in action, it is impossible to forget.

3. Throughout the game I kind of felt like despite the work I had invested in the setting ideas I had and the scenario that maybe I didn't really "get" how to run Starfinder at all, at least as a universe. I was constantly wondering to myself, "Why does technology work this way, here, when you have magic that does this over there?" as well as "How the hell did any of this grow up organically, to make any sense?" In fact it left me feeling more than ever like Starfinder is probably best played with a dedicated focus on their Pact Worlds setting.

4. The combat were smooth as mentioned earlier, but we all had forgotten just how many potential modifiers and situational special rules could come in to play. This really made me think fondly of how much simpler D&D 5E handles everything, yet to the same net effect. If nothing else it made me dramatically re-up my interest in playtesting Hyperlanes, the 5E SF hack, soon.

5. I will say that character generation is very smooth in Starfinder, and several tweaks and modifications, from the simplification of attribute point-buy to the use of themes along with the more carefully balanced classes made character generation a much smoother experience than one might expect. Hell, there are still Pathfinder classes I have never used because messing with them was just a headache.

The biggest problem I've had lately is that the only really engaging experience I've had most of this year has been with my ongoing Call of Cthulhu campaign, and to a lesser degree Traveller and the Mesopotamian campaign (until Mythras as a system got in the way). I'm realizing slowly that I have a current mechanical style that works well for the games I run, and it's turning out that this style no longer feels right with D&D/Pathfinder style mechanics. D&D 5E still gets a pass because I run worlds I am deeply invested in that were organically grown from day one to be D&D experiences, but that's the only exception.

So, my conclusions so far:

We'll probably play more of it. We all did have a good time, but with the caveat that it was still, ultimately, the same system we all abandoned due to fatigue for D&D 5E four years ago.

I think I still don't grokk the underlying intent of the implied universe and may simply dive into it as a Pact Worlds game for the near future if I run it any more.

My primary reaction to the game tonight on getting home was to write these thoughts down and pitch the following other games to the group for future one-shot test sessions:
Hyperlanes
Cold & Dark RPG
Coriolis RPG
FrontierSpace

Deep in my heart, I know that the two systems which are closest to my thematic style as a GM are Cold & Dark and Coriolis, but FrontierSpace looks awesome and I still need to read the Referee's Guide, which I have just ordered. So we'll see....

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

More Starfinder Fun: Looking at how it changes D20 mechanics



Okay, Starfinder has really got me now. I'm diving deep in to the book, I'm scrubbing the rules meticulously to identify the differences between Starfinder and Pathfinder, I've written up a lengthy gazetteer of worlds to be explored and plots to be uncovered, I've got an introductory scenario, and I've talked my players on Wednesday into trying it out tomorrow, as a Thanksgiving Eve special, if you will. Even my wife might show, if she feels better (fighting a cold), and she never normally shows up to my Wednesday night game!

Part of the insidiousness of Starfinder, besides completely co-opting that creative headspace that D&D and Pathfinder both exist within and applying it directly to space opera sci-fi fantasy, is taking the very underpinnings of the overall experience and saying, "Hey, you know that thing you do over here, with fantasy? Well you can do it in space, too, exactly the same way, but also spaceships and lasers and stuff."

Spelljammer did this. Spelljammer was doing it at a time when something as creative as flying galleons in magical space seemed like just the right mix for some gamers but was totally out there for others. Spelljammer did not, however, really give you any tools to move beyond the concepts of Ptolemy, Copernicus and mythology as the basis for fantasy space exploration.

Dragonstar did it for 3.0 D&D as well, and in fact arguably did exactly the same thing Starfinder is doing, right now, just with more color art, glamour, and design ethos. Dragonstar, without a doubt, could benefit from a revival now, if Fantasy Flight Games were in to that sort of thing (it's not, alas). The entire setting of the Dragon Empire and its drow enforcers in space would fit nicely in a corner of Starfinder's implied, infinite universe.


Heck, some time on ebay could net you all the Dragonstar books you need to blend something up with Starfinder. The compatibility is still there.....sort of. Actually, I'm surprised as I have read through Starfinder at just how insidious it's D20 mechanical update actually is. Some of the interesting things I've noticed.....small, but significant:

Threat rolls (where you get a critical hit but not really, you gotta roll again to confirm?) are gone. Now, if your critical hit would have hit normally, it's already confirmed. That usually means the only thing your natural 20 wouldn't auto-crit is something with an armor class so much higher than 20+ all your modifiers and attack bonuses that it would never have hit otherwise. And in those cases it's still a hit, just a normal one.

Stamina Points, which are basically hit points you regain quickly. D&D 5E has hit points you regain by spending hit dice to replenish, and it's "break" on this is that you only regain 1/2 your hit dice with a long rest. In Starfinder, you have hit points and stamina points, and hit points are regained slowly (1/day/level) and stamina points are regained with a long rest. Stamina points are literally your "second wind" and reflect everything people often say hit points have in the past of D&D....your sort of "pool of energy" depleted by fatigue, morale, getting smacked around, etc. Hit points in Starfinder are now the "oh crap I have a actual laser hole in me" points.

Reactions have been formally codified in Starfinder, in a manner consistent with how we all like to use them. They have been upgraded from the less clear mechanics in PF, and encompass opportunity attacks as well as immediate actions. More importantly, opportunity attacks and special conditions (spells and special abilities) are the only real way to pop a reaction, and you only get one reaction per turn. So guess what, no more special builds with a gazillion opportunity attacks! In fact, I don't even see a feat (like combat reflexes) anymore that messes with this stuff, although it's possible there's something buried in there as a class trait or spell.

Resolve is another fascinating mechanic: it's basically a pool of points equal to half your level plus the modifier for your primary class stat. Resolve can be used to pay for certain class and feat options that let you re-roll or do other stuff. The number of resolve you have left determine how long before you die when you are mortally wounded (at 0 HP). You recover them once per day after an extended (8 hour) rest. Resolve's not really a new mechanic...it's a spendy resource pool, something many other games have done before, but it most definitely is new to D20 and Starfinder executes it well enough that players will have ample opportunity to think hard about the gain of spending a point vs. the perk of keeping it in reserve.

Messing with modifiers seems to be a thing in Starfinder, too. I noticed an active effort to reframe certain situations which in the past were all lumped under bonuses, and therefore added complexity to stacking issues. For example, a theme might "give you a 5 point reduction in the DC" of a certain check rather than a +5 skill bonus; or An attack roll might be made against "KAC (Kinetic Armor Class) +8" rather than with a -8 penalty to attack. This change in framing appears to be done in each case to change the context of how the modifiers are applied, and while it doesn't necessarily reduce the math, it does reduce the ways that the numbers can be gamed through the stacking mechanics.

Monster Creation is a big deal for me with Pathfinder. It's not easy to do in the classic D20 rules in any edition, honestly. You either like the lengthy process of designing monsters in the same mechanical manner as player characters, or you realize how cruel the process is and how poorly it treats your precious time. I don't know if books like Pathfinder Unchained introduced some of the ideas fully implemented in Starfinder, but the Alien Archive includes a full set of rules along with handy ready-to-go charts for creating challenge-scaled foes without too much fuss. The process, after using it to create a variety of NPC foes, appears to be much more intuitive and streamlined than anything that has come before (noting that even the original PF Bestiary tried to improve the process over classic D20 3.5) and I knocked out several complete statblocks in remarkably little time (maybe 20 minutes, and lacking familiarity, for two stat blocks).

Unfortunately the Starfinder rules are missing some of the cool things already in the Pathfinder repertoire, such as the NPC Codex, or that handy roster of sample NPCs in the back of the Gamemastery Guide, but I hope Starfinder's success prompts Paizo to make such resources in the near future. The streamlined stat block and foe design process in the meantime is good enough for me to be satisfied that they designed this part of the game with the GM's precious time in mind.

Okay, enough gushing for now....I'll do an after action report in a day or two after tomorrow's test pilot game!








Monday, November 20, 2017

And just like that, I realized Mecha really are a wondrous and terrifying reality

I recall twenty+ years ago while watching Gundam or Armored Trooper Votoms having a discussion with people who all generally seemed to agree that while mecha were cool, the reality was that no one would ever find a way to make humanoid war machines practical.

While I think it's still reasonable to say that a aerodynamic transforming mecha jet in space makes less sense when it has a pilot vs. being autonomous, this video below has now convinced me that mecha are not only in the future, but likely:



I mean....holy cow. Now imagine that guy with a seriously reinforced titanium carbon frame and thirty feet tall. Consider me.....fascinated and terrified all at once! If this sort of robotic engineering gets cheap and efficient, I predict a battlefield full of terrifying mecha killbots in twenty years or less.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Film Review: Justice League



First, I'll attempt a neutral review from a critic's viewpoint:

Justice League was a fun film, but flawed. It held the gem of hope following the success of Wonder Woman, and some of that was realized with Gal Gadot's performance. The rest of the cast and crew were fine, but this was no Avengers movie with Joss Whedon fully in control. That said, Whedon's participation was evident (even without his name in the credits) as the roughened corners of a Zak Snyder film were clearly here, polished off and rendered more acceptable to the anti-Snyder audience. In the process however the film felt less focused on one particular vision, and was painstakingly average in a year of mixed successes and failures.

Okay, now I'll write the real review, of a true DC fan:

This movie was much funnier, tighter, and focused than it otherwise might have been, probably thanks to Whedon's editing....but Snyder's absence was felt. If you hate Snyder's style, then you will not miss it in this movie; his presence is felt in only bits and bobs, like a ghost haunting the screen. If you are like me (and there are a few of us) and really like Snyder's almost resonant, mythic approach to directing then you'll sense the absence like a faberge egg....hollow on the inside but beautiful on the outside.

This film carries itself on the weight of the actors, and all of them do a fine performance (for a superhero flick). Afleck's Batman is a more reformed version, touched by the events of Batman vs. Superman in a way which has mellowed him into realizing he can't afford to be a gruff loner anymore. Gadot's Wonder Woman is just as awesome as ever, and she is the strength and spirit that binds the Justice League. Momoa actually plays a shit-kicking plain-talking fratbro Aquaman and pulls it off (YMMV but my wife also loved him). Then we have Ray Fisher's Cyborg, who was both more useful and plot-relevant than you might imagine, and managed to do the character justice. Finally there was the Flash (Ezra Miller), the junior member of the League with the least overall experience and confidence, but he got the best lines throughout the movie, with some very funny bits.

Considering this movie has all the potential for a disaster, I was really shocked to see that it came together so well. This film does lack.....a lot, honestly....compared to certain other, notably better movies out there. For example, the fight scenes in Justice League are mercifully not overly long and manage to focus on some actual action, but they remain CGI heavy in spots and are not nearly as clean and orchestrated as, to contrast, the amazing sequences seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel's movies really have cinematic superhero fight sequences down to an art now; Warner's DC films are still struggling with this, and I think Snyder just doesn't know how to do these right, to be honest.

The rest of the movie was actually pretty decent, but you do get the feeling that had Snyder been able to finish it out we might have gotten a 2 1/2 to 3 hour film, one with a lot more extraneous stuff. It might have been more compelling and amazing (for Snyder fans; tortuous for others) if this had happened, but the final film at just under two hours managed to feel exactly right to me....any longer and I would have been wondering why 2 hour films are no longer considered the gold standard, and of course any shorter and we'd all be talking about how freakishly short and undeveloped it was.

Justice League's critics are out in force, and some of the criticism once again feels a bit forced, like they are seeking clickbait....but I know plenty of people who have not liked three out of four of the prior DC Universe films, and only one who didn't like Wonder Woman. As such, it's fair to say that if this film somehow manages to rate above Batman vs. Supeman and Suicide Squad, but below Wonder Woman, I will not be surprised. This is a shame, because while it lacks the focus and polish of a Marvel Universe film, it was genuinely fun and gives me hope that the next movies in the series will build on what has come before, and hopefully Warner Brothers will manage to allow a director and producer the kind of visionary control to do what they want (like Wonder Woman), but maybe without Snyder this time. Yeah, I love his style, but clearly the DC Universe can thrive without it.

So overall: I give this one personally as a DC Fan a solid A, but my critical side says it was more of a solid B. So we'll give it an A- and let my inner selves fight it out among themselves.

Seven fun bits (SPOILERS):

1. Getting to see Steppenwolf and the paradaemons take on Themiscyra and Atlantis
2. Superman's menacing initial response to Batman: "Do you bleed?"
3. The Flash in just about every scene, stealing it. Especially the one where he rushes in to save everyone from Superman, and then realizes that Superman is the only one moving at the same time he is, at the same speed. Hysterical scene!
4. So many paradaemons. Realizing that this wasn't even an invasion from Apokalypse, but Steppenwolf merely trying to use the Earth as fuel to join Darkseid and the New Gods.
5. The flashback to the ancient war against Steppenwolf, and the army of ancient Green Lanterns.
6. The way Superman returns was oddly simple genius, from a comic book science perspective.
7. Seeing the Atlanteans and Mera really told me that DC can do this, if they just let themselves accept the scope of their own universe.

Five Problem bits (more SPOILERS):

1. Would Aquaman really be able to get drunk? Will his new friends intervene and help him out?
2. The lasso scene with Aquaman was very funny but his honest commentary at Wonder Woman was also some unfortunate timing as the press hunts down politicians, movie producers and fratbros like scattering rats in the sexual harassment scandals.
3. I was disappointed only to see Steppenwolf and no one else from the New Gods or Apokalypse.
4. Did anyone else get the feeling that the lone family in the remote Russian city making their escape was a Joss Whedon addition, to humanize the scene? My gut tells me that either that city was mercilessly assaulted and everyone killed in slow motion in some cutting floor version of Snyder's take, or it was conveniently abandoned and we could all resume not caring about endless CGI building being trashed.
5. The gang of underage teens who smelled like pot and apparently were drinking stolen liquour next to us, though in their defense they were nice and quiet so I guess that's all that mattered?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Star Wars: Battlefront II Multiplayer Impressions



Okay, since I wrote the last blog on this I've had a few hours of multiplayer to mess around and get a feel for Battlefront II, and how it is both different and very similar to the first game. My observations so far:

First, on the in-game resources to secure hero cards, it took me about 3 hours to make enough currency to purchase Vader (15,000) or maybe a couple cheaper characters (Chewbacca at 10,000 for example). Realizing that all the hype about time spent to get the heroes in-game was not exactly accurate (even if EA did drop the cost by 75% that suggested....from the articles I had read....that the time to invest would go from 40 hours to 10 hours, for example), this seems like kind of a wash, and actually still wasn't worth my time to spend the points on since --I'll be honest-- the only one in my family who likes hero battles is my son.

I decided to invest those points in some different loot crates to see what popped up. Hero and Starfighter crates are cheaper than Trooper Crates....and I suspect that's because more people are playing troopers than anything else. This garnered a weird range, as I picked up a few of each until I ran out of my 18,000 odd resources to buy stuff. I did get one item I can't use, for Chewbacca, whom I haven't unlocked yet.....and at one point got a repeat, which simply fed currency back in to my stash.

Okay, enough of the buying...how was actual game play?

Multiplayer on Blast was --wait for it-- a lot of fun (heh). The maps are large, and a few almost felt too large, at least until you get familiar with them. More than a few (such as Starkiller Base) are weird corridor slogs with periodic open areas in which to have entrenched battled. Many of the outdoor areas are actually really dynamic, but I noticed that the game seemed to have trouble with spawn points at times. One more than one occasion I got the drop on an enemy spawning nearby, and likewise they nailed me a couple times. I suspect a future patch might address this.

The game otherwise plays like a very straight forward Battlefront experience, but the equipment mechanics are tweaked ever so slightly and you no longer have those hovering star disks to pick up for random stuff like rocket launchers and orbital strikes ("horrible strikes" as my kid says). However, ever character has a wider range of star cards, and many have stacking effects. Naturally you get these through unlocks.....and those unlocks can be done at the rate you acquire currency in-game, or they can be done through purchasing that currency with actual real money, which means that I expect at some point it may become obvious that certain players are dominating the game because they have spent enormous amounts of cash to get a full collection of cards and power ups.

In fact....I sort of wondered if I wasn't already seeing that.

The game, at the end of each session, takes three points of action and shows who did the best. This includes most points, most kills, kill assists, stuff like that. In my experience with the 2016 Battlefront you usually saw three different people showing on this "best of" roster. Occasionally you might see one guy with two or even three points of domination, but it was really, really rare.

In all the games I ran through tonight (about 20-30 I think) I saw time and again one player dominate the three "top dog" spots consistently, and occasionally a second player might squeeze in. Usually this domination was by a wide margin, 2:1 or better over the next best players. It was kind of obvious, actually. My thought was....are these players who've spent the money to level all cards? Or have they played so much in the last 2 days that they managed some serious unlocks?

It didn't impact my enjoyment of the game, mind you. I tended to fall right in around 5th to 6th place on each blast event after I got in to the rhythm of the game, and I felt like the chance to excel was there. But the obvious domination by certain players of all aspects of the records seemed.....weird. Maybe its just an issue with how the game is currently handling this; they need more "best of" stats that aren't at odds with one another (most kills will almost certainly go to the same guy who gets most points, for example).

Anyway......good stuff, and if you liked the first you'll definitely like Battlefront II. Unless you love the hero modes you're not going to miss the six locked heroes much, and by my experience so far I anticipate having them all unlocked within 20-30 hours of play at the most.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

GURPS is suddenly on rpgnow!

And just like that GURPS joined the rest of the gaming community. Stealth ninja marketing at it's finest!!!

Star Wars: Battlefront II First Impressions (PS4)



It's no secret I liked Star Wars: Battlefront from 2016, even though it lacked a single player campaign, and was initially a bit anemic in terms of map content. That changed quickly enough, but the design approach to the first Battlefront, which gated map and scenario content behind for DLC packs, made for your typical fragmented community.....you couldn't just play "blast" on Cloud City, for example, without getting in queue with a bunch of hardcore mofos to play only that DLC content. Still, I played enough that I got really damned good at the game (compared to my usual level of multiplayer suck), and had tons of fun....so much so I even leveled up twice, once on the Xbox One and again on the PS4! And it is the single most played co-op/split-screen game in my house with my son, my wife and myself, too.

Anyway, that's a long winded way of saying I was totally ready for Battlefront II, and had even pre-purchased it when it went on preorder, a practice that some rightly deride, but when I know I'm going to get it, and play it, I'll make an exception.

So far, the best thing about the game is actually the single player campaign, in which you play through the story (mostly) of a special forces storm trooper named Iden Versio, who operates as a sort of black ops specialist for the Empire and watches her career take a crappy turn when they fail to intercept rebels on Endor's moon from blowing up the Death Star II's shield generators. From there its a spiraling tale of Imperial fragmentation, questioned loyalties, betrayal and revelation.

It also happens to be the best thing put out for Star Wars to date (in video game terms) since the original KOTOR. Yes, that good! Not in an RPG way, but the sense of immersion and the attention to detail with the Star Wars style from the Rebellion Era is shockingly well done. There's a sequence where you get to play Luke, and I was really thinking, "This is how they could fill in the backstory between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens....this is the perfect medium."

The rest of the single player offerings, which are a mix of co-op sequences with loose stories attached and an arcade mode which generates either team deathmatch fights or straight duels is plenty of fun, and if you've heard the stories about locked characters note that that's all for the multiplayer offering.....you can play with pretty much anyone on your couch (though as you play through maps set in the Clone Wars era you might, like me, wish there were more thematically appropriate hero choices...)

The game doesn't bug you with accuracy, so if you want Kylo Ren to fight Yoda on Yavin 4, go for it. Want Rey to slug it out with Darth Maul on Kamino? Why not! This was annoying the hell out of me....especially when Darth Vader showed up working with the separatists (I had a fanboy stroke for a second) but its ultimately completely superficial. Give it time, and they will no doubt release more hero characters. Right now you can play:

Heroes: Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, Lando, Rey, Yoda
Villains: Kylo Ren, Vader, The Emperor, Boba Fett, Bossk, Maul

I fully expect to see lots more available in the coming months, as I think there's an idea that EA wants people to buy new characters (or earn them with in game credits if they have the endurance to play long enough), and Phasma and Finn are both confirmed for release with the first DLC. It also seems likely to me that previously released heroes from the first Battlefront will inevitably make their way in to this one, which includes the likes of Nien Numb, Greedo, Bossk, Jyn Erso and Commander Krennick.

As I dive in to the multiplayer in depth I may report back with more detail to give you a sense on whether the loot crate component of the game is really something to worry about. My experience with loot crates has (so far) been as follows: they are incredibly easy to ignore, and if they appear to be irrelevant to the enjoyment of the game, then all the better. For example, despite having some egregious loot crates in Call of Duty WWII, I can't say I care one bit and they appear to offer nothing noteworthy to the play component of the game I enjoy. On the other end of the spectrum there's that Middle Earth: War for Mordor game (or whatever it's called) where my sensibilities were already offended at the liberties the game took with Tolkien characters and lore, so loot crates are just one more dump on the pile of indecency, so I can safely ignore the game entirely.

Given that only about six characters are currently locked away (including Versio, Luke, Vader, Leia, Solo, and the Emperor) but the rest are all immediately available, this just doesn't seem to be as much a problem to me as the news cycle wants it to be. On the other hand! I really hate the principle of loot crates in general, so I feel like apathetic "meh, it's not so bad" is unfortunately just my own psyche accepting that the standards of game development have reached a new, inevitable all-time low this year with the standardization of these things. Next year, when the 2018 holiday release includes games that start sneaking pay-to-win loot crates in to the experience? Yeah, that's going to be too much. I hope.

Anyway....as a deep, unapologetic fan of the new Battlefront series, if you just got this game for the campaign mode you would not go wrong. And if you like the multiplayer (and can resist buying loot crates), then you will show that you are strong in the force, too!

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Psychological Effect of Pathfinder Pocket Editions

These books continue to amaze me. Sure, they're just the exact same rule books I ran my campaigns with from 2009 to about mid 2013. Yeah, they're exactly the same game in every possible way, with all that entails for Pathfinder.

But holy cow they are suddenly the most portable thing I've got,* and complete, too! I mean....you want an easy-to-stow "go anywhere" set of rules that takes up minimal space and affords all the luxuries you might want in a robust rule set? Pathfinder's pocket editions have totally got you covered. Add a set of miniature dice and a 5x9 notebook and you've got yourself a stew going.

I'm definitely not advocating that if you didn't like Pathfinder before then you will suddenly fall for it. But I am saying that the psychological impact of these tiny tomes for someone like myself is shocking....I've been genuinely enjoying reading these Pathfinder books again, with almost a weird, nostalgic fervor. I'm remembering the fun times I had with Pathfinder all of a sudden rather than the intense drag I all too often recalled in the past.

I know it's a combination of "tiny and cute" and "all in my head," but I can't help it! Weird, I know.

I mean....I bet I could fit six frickin' Pathfinder pocket rulebooks into a single Pathfinder Beginner Box! (EDIT: Almost! The box needs to be a little wider, but you can get the Bestiary, Core Rules and GameMastery Guide in there, totally. I mean, if you take out the Basic Box stuff. You know what I mean!)

Anyway, if you're keeping score they have so far released pocket editions of:

Pathfinder Core Rulebook
Advanced Player's Guide
GameMastery Guide
Ultimate Equipment
Bestiary
Bestiary 2

Bestiary 3 and 4 along with Ultimate Magic and Advanced Class Guide are up for pocket editions next. I imagine we'll continue to get more, as it seems these must be selling well. Wizards of the Coast take heed! I could sure use some pocket editions of D&D 5E, too. I'm getting old, and my back hurts carrying eighty pounds of books to game night.



While searching around on my blog I realized that I have a real "thing" for pocket editions of RPGs. Go figure!

Final note: none of the above really relates to reality, which right now is that I am totally loving Xanathar's Guide to Everything and can't wait to get to D&D Wednesday for some 5E fun. More on this magical tome later this week.

*I have lots of highly portable OSR stuff, yes, but nothing that lets me roll a tiefling inquisitor or oread ranger/witch. The fascination I have for these pocket editions is the fact that they pack so much complexity for their size. Not everyone wants that, of course. But man am I on a crunch kick right now, and I don't know why. The only retroclone in the OSR domain I am familiar with that shoots for "more options" rather than less is Blood & Treasure...and you know, I'd buy a pocket edition of that one, too.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Traveller Archive!

It's about time I had one.....anyway, go here to see all the blog's Traveller articles (or all I could find using the search function) in one spot.


And the winner remains: Traveller

Although there's definite interest in trying out Starfinder, my group resumed our ongoing Traveller game tonight instead. We'll rotate this with Call of Cthulhu for a while (I'll get back to the Mesopotamia campaign when I decide what system to proceed with).

Traveller (MGT2E version) remains insidiously easy and available. It helps that I've worked out most of an entire sector for my "Authority Sector" campaign, a remote region at the fringe of the Imperium where most of the local nobles have pulled their interests out and essentially subcontracted the work of sector administration and enforcement to the Sector Authority. The group has some ongoing characters who've already been involved in fairly world-shattering (literally) events, and they continue to ply their trade as mercs and traders while hoping the law doesn't catch up to them....fun stuff.

The group currently consists of a Aslan bioresearcher who has a sociopathic talent, a retired military veteran who grew disenfranchised with the Imperium, a young psionically adept woman who escaped from the clutches of an order known as the Omnium Collective, a professional cyber thief who pulled off the greatest heist ever but lives on the run and an ex mafia-type who slept with the boss's wife and has been on the run ever since. This does not include deceased former PCs!

Traveling with the group (right now) includes a young noble child who the group kidnapped for reasons even I as GM am not sure about, an aslan woman who specializes in smuggling alien embryos for research, and they're about to get embroiled in a local religious war.

The thing I love about Traveller.....at least, my games.....is that Traveller campaigns seem to go like this:
1. Show up in system, find starport, spend hours buying and selling while repairing and refuelling. Watch money go away.
2. Find patron(s) and grab job.
3. Head to planet X and in process of doing job for patron get embroiled in local politics.
4. Have horrific Reservoir-Dogs like conclusion to business, escape with lives (sometimes) and ship barely intact.
5. Go to 1.