Wednesday, May 25, 2011

LotFP Sandbox: Conversions and Building

You'll find all kinds of solid adventures within.

One of the nice things about having a game every three weeks is that it gives me adequate time to work on it between sessions.  As much as I long for the days where I used to devote 100% of my time to gaming, I'm a full-time, year-round college student who is getting married in short order.  I just don't have that kind of time (or maybe I lack time-management skills--you decide).  One of the things that makes life a little easier is that there are number of outstanding adventures out there for me to use with little or no work.

One of those adventures is "Night of Blood" from Games Workshop's The Restless Dead for the first edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play.  It's thematically perfect for the sandbox I'm working on, and all I need to do is stat it for Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

There are actually quite a few old Warhammer FRP adventures that would work well with LotFP.  Shadows over Bogenhafen and Death on the Reik wouldn't need much work, mostly setting changes in my case, but there will certainly be similarities between Imperial Dagordoria and the early editions of Warhammer FRP's Empire: the relative weakness of the central imperial government compared to the power of the landowners and electors, the overall lawlessness of the land, and the steady creep of chaos.

Anyway, in two weeks, I'll run my Night of Blood conversion and let you know how it goes.  Here's a peek at the mutants from the first scene:
Scaly Bull Man
HD 2, hp 9, AC 16, move 40’/round, +2 to hit, 1d8 (sword), 50xp
Frenzy: When reduced to 4 hp or less, Scaly Bull Man will let out a thunderous roar, forcing all within earshot to make a save v. paralysis or suffer a -2 on all to hit rolls for the remainder of the round.  At that point, until he charges the nearest opponent, pressing (+2 to hit, -4 AC) all attacks, doing an additional point of damage on each hit and suffering one less point of damage when hit.  This lasts until he (or the PCs) dies.
Dog ManHD 2, hp 9, AC 12, move 60’/round, +2 to hit, 1d4 (bite), 25xp
Black FurHD 1, hp 4, AC 14, move 40’/round, 1d6 damage (club), 5xp
Eye-StalksHD 1, hp 4, AC 12, move 40’/round, 1d6 damage (club), 5xp
Eye-stalks: Eye-Stalks cannot be sneak attacked.
Red FurHD 1, hp 4, AC 14, move 40’/round, 1d4 damage (dagger), 5xp
Tentacle ArmsHD 1, hp 4, AC 12, move 40’/round, 1d2 damage (tentacle slap), 5xp
Tentacles: +2 to hit in wrestling contests; wins all ties.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

LotFP Sandbox: First Game Down!

The cover generated a lot of positive buzz...
Well, last night I was happy to start my new sandbox with the crew at the School of Visual Arts in Stroudsburg, PA.  The response was spectacular.  The Grindhouse Edition's art was an immediate hit. As the Rules and Magic books sat on the table as I ran, the players both made constant remarks about how cool the cover was and how it evoked a very different feel than any other game they've played.  And as cool as snake-tits is, I am in agreement with my table that the image on my right rocks.

I only had two players show up, but more assure me they will move over when the other game that night hits a good stopping point.  So, taking Zak's advice to write the world after the first adventure and make that adventure POP, I had our dynamic duo wake up in a dungeon.  We had a fighter and a magic-user.  The guy who was playing the magic-user loved the fact that the spell list avoids the cliches of fireball and lightning bolt.  The lady playing the fighter loved the fact that she will kick more ass at combat than any other non-fighter in the game.  They both loved that I gave them the skill points as if they were Specialists.

Yeah, so, they woke up in a dungeon.  A dungeon whose owners have dabbled in things which should not be dabbled with and something has gone wrong.  In a manic escape filled with zombies, skeletons, insane cultists, and a desperate search for clothes and equipment, the PCs managed to get out shortly before the manor house of the decadent noble who hosted such abominations collapsed upon itself.  They made their way to a village where they were able to heal up and the session ended there.

What they loved the most was the simplicity of the system that comes from being a B/X clone, but the extra tweaks to make things so different.  The two players went over to the other table to eagerly talk up the game.  While that can make it look like I did a pretty good job, I'm going to give most of the credit to Raggi for his rules modifications to B/X.

One a side note, I took advantage of his sale of leftover Rules and Magic books and picked up two more.  The receipt I was emailed was very... well, just look at the picture above.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

LotFP Sandbox: Genesis

After my TPK at the last Adventures Dark & Deep game I ran, I'm ready to start over.  This time, I'm doing things differently.  For the most part, while I enjoy reading Zak's blogs, there wasn't a whole lot other than entertainment that I took away from it.  Then Vornheim came out.  I used it for the adventure that resulted in the TPK (a result of poor decision making on the players part, partly forced by a lack of obvious options given on mine) and it was awesome.  It gave me a whole lot of flexibility that I've never really experienced in a game before.  Seriously, if you haven't bought Vornheim yet, you really need to.  Even if Zak's game isn't your style, use the format and concepts and fill in the tables with things that meet your style.  It's that useful.

Hard at work on a week off from school.
Since I was one of the first pre-orders for Vornheim and the Grindhouse Edition of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, I got an extra Rules & Magic book.  It is a beautifully illustrated and very well constructed book.  If you don't think that the paper and the binding make a difference, well, we will agree to disagree.  The digest size is portable enough to throw in a jacket pocket when you go to Borders with your fiancee (as I did Sunday) and the feel of it almost reminds me of how I felt with my first AD&D hardcovers.  Since I've got such a beautiful product to show off (As I write this at Greenberry's Coffee in Morristown, NJ, I've got it out on the table, daring people to ask me about it) and I have clean break at the gaming table, I think I'm going to give LotFP Grindhouse a whirl.

I really liked the vibe of Vornheim, so when Zak posted his alternate idea for generating a sandbox, I took notice.  Previously, I had used the Bat in the Attic model, but that was an awful lot of work for a lot of stuff the players never seemed to bite on anyway.  With a wedding in less than a month and a full-time year-round school schedule, I don't have the time I'd like to write for a game.  Zak's method isn't lazier, but it's better targeted towards the players.  They generate the leads that I'll follow up on.  It works much better with my schedule, I think.

So, before my game tomorrow, I've got to finish my first adventure.  Something rather unwholesome stirs in the basement of a degenerate noble's manor... down the hall from a cell occupied by the PCs.

When something goes wrong, the PCs must escape and find themselves alone in an unfamiliar world... the yet-to-be-named sandbox.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Cube: What it looks like.

A highly scientific map of The Cube
So, I am skipping over the trade information while I generate the systems.  Still, I've been curious about how The Cube is "shaped."  While parked at my FLCS (Friendly Local Coffee Shop), I drew up a little map of The Cube.

I found some interesting things by doing this:
  1. There is a "core" of 70 worlds that are within Jump-1 of each other.  I reckon that will be my main imperial remnant.  I'll have to explore the "arms" of it as time permits and the systems themselves get generated.
  2. There are seven other distinct entities which are separated by a larger than one parsec gap.  One is an isolated world, three are pairs of systems, and two are smaller pockets of nine and eight systems, respectively.
  3. The baseline tech level for the game is TL10--Jump-1--but with some TL11 systems out there.  I intend to have Jump-2 completely in the hands of the government.  This means trade and contact between the eight separate entities will be wholly through government means.
  4. Jump-2 opens up the whole cube, so all of the systems I rolled are available for play.  It is probably also the most strategically important technology in the game.  I imagine a considerable chunk of the espionage in the game will be geared toward securing Jump-2 for corporate or other government agencies.  
  5. What this tells me is that I should focus on the main remnant first, generating those 70 systems (6% complete-woo hoo!) before even thinking about the remaining 28.
  6. The "Alien Enclave" options I roll can alternately be "Other Entity Enclaves" as well.  With the limited travel between the entities, it's likely that enclaves will need to be set up within other entities.
The more I develop, the more I enjoy about this.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Cube: A "Realistic" Space Environment

BeRKA over at The Zhodani Base pointed me to a pretty funny comic about generating worlds using the semi-realistic tables found in GURPS Space.  It's funny because it's true.  Fours systems down and not a single habitable planet among the lot.  ALMOST got one with system 122, but the Standard-sized planet was 10 degrees too cold and became an Ice World.  Bummer.

For full context, check out Irregular Webcomic! (Linked above)
The nice part is that it is Traveller, so I don't need a Garden world to have a good time.  In those four systems, we've got civilization on over ten planets, moons, or asteroid belts.  One of them is a high-population world, some of them exceed the average tech level.

It's interesting to see how this plays out.  I could see the realistic system generation being kind of dull if the game was exploration based, but that is one aspect of the game I plan on ignoring completely.  The Scout/Survey organization won't have a whole lot of pure exploration to do.  I'll have to think of the right angle to play with them.

The rather large number of rebel/terrorist bases on the planet are kind of interesting as well.  I think the underlying theme of dissent might permeate the game.

Anyway, more to follow.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Cube: Results and Thoughts

Using a semi-realistic world generation system like GURPS Space is an awful lot of work and math.  I will likely not be done with this sandbox until the end of the year and that's no joke.  I've been working at it a few hours each day since Thursday and I've ALMOST got my second system done.  I might be getting myself into the weeds and I'm trying to figure out the most efficient path.

Until I come up with a decent way to package the full system write-ups, I won't go into too much detail regarding the systems I am generating.  However, here are some aspects of The Cube which depart from what traditional Traveller does:
  1. The Universe is three-dimensional, which is a vast departure from the 2D subsector maps.  I attempted to have the same number of systems as the two subsectors suggested by Rob Conley in his "How to Make a Traveller Sandbox" article.  That's why The Cube is 6x6.  I ended up with 100 systems to work with, compared to 80 given a 50% chance and 160 hexes in two subsectors.
  2. With GURPS Space as my world-generation method, I end up creating many more viable worlds in each solar system.  I haven't thought about system names yet, but in "System 114," there are three inhabited worlds, each with their own UWP, a full colony and two outposts.  "System 115" has A very large asteroid colony, a smaller asteroid colony, and an outpost on the moon of a gas giant.  I don't know if three systems will be the mean, but if it is, there will be 300 UWPs to work with.
  3. There will likely be fewer "low-tech/high-tech" worlds in The Cube.  There will be worlds with lower TLs, some with slightly higher than normal, but most worlds will be TL10.
In case you were wondering, here are the UWPs for System 114.  I'm still working on 115.

Ice World    114-1        B420676-A    De Na Ni Po
Ice Dwarf    114-2        E2D5344-A    Fl Lo
Ice Dwarf    114-5        D2D5356-A    Fl Lo

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Traveller Sandbox: The Cube

Last year, when I worked on a sandbox for Traveller, I got quite a bit done and some pretty good feedback.  I wasn't happy with it and how it was too tied to the OTU for me to do anything with it.  I decided that I would attempt it again, but from a decidedly non-Traveller direction.  I just finished an Astronomy class that I really enjoyed, although I had to ignore it in the face of the three Psychology and one English classes I took in addition to Astro this semester.  Psych's my major and English is my minor, so Astro was the one that had to give.

Anyway, I thought I'd like to work on another stab at a setting for Traveller.  I don't like the RAW when it comes to sector/system/world generation at all, but I love what GURPS Space does with it.  GURPS Space is awesome, and a lot more realistic than anything I've seen in any of the editions of Traveller that I'm privy to.

The Premise
The sandbox will be a small, densely packed "cube" in space.  6pc x 6pc x 6pc, to be exact. The Cube started getting filled with explorers traveling via wormhole from a much larger Galactic Empire approximately 500 years ago.  Two hundred years ago, the wormhole suddenly collapsed, cutting off The Cube from the Empire.  A New Empire, founded on the shell of the Imperial bureaucracy of the Galactic Empire, rose in its place.

Where I Am At Right Now
I don't have much else, right now.  I generated one of the 100 systems.  When I decide on a format, I'll collect the notes together in some kind of format to display.  Interesting things that I came up with...
  1. There are rebel/terrorist bases two of the three inhabited worlds in the system.  One of which is the more highly populated colony world, the other holding a prison.
  2. When there are no Garden worlds generated, I reckon that I'll just take the planet with the highest Affinity of 0 or greater and make that a colony.  It might not be super realistic to establish a colony that will eventually grow to 5.4 million people on an icy world with half the gravity of Earth and has an average temperature of negative 200 degrees Fahrenheit, but it would be keeping with Traveller traditions.
  3. There is an alien enclave on the technocratic outpost at the rim of the first system.  Also on this planet is a military espionage facility and a government research center.  It's pretty awesome when the random rolls all make sense like this.  I'm debating if I want to insert analogs for the Aslan, Vargr, or Darrians, of I want to go with 2300-esque aliens that are more alien.  I haven't decided if that is where the aliens are from (unlikely, it's a small little ball of ice, but you never know) or if they just established something there because they dig the fact that it's a worthless little ball of ice, nitrogen, and methane.
I'll keep you all posted on what I come up with.  If anyone has any potential directions to send me for easy to use formatting for the systems, I'd love that.