Survival Challenges May Change Slightly

I’ve tossed around the idea that the Challenge Points for a Survival Challenge might be better tracked if the group worked to reduce the pool of points instead of each player chipping away at their own allotment of points.

This makes teamwork between PCs in a survival challenge intrinsic to the system. I don’t mind sending that message with the mechanics but it might not be what the players actually want to do. As they are, a PC could leave the rest of the party behind if they wanted to. It’s actually slightly hard to help another character as things are.

It makes the GM’s job of handling random hazards a little more intuitive which I like. All the PCs are together and so experience the same hazards. I have ways of explaining why characters might experience different hazards but that’s not explained in the text of the rules, mainly because explaining my thought process on that would be cumbersome to the text and I’m already worried that there’s too much in the book.

It makes the system a little more of an approximation than a simulation. I’m okay with that. I’ve striven for simulation in years past and found the results satisfying but the effort required to support the simulation slowed things down. Approximation often has it’s own emergent properties that can be highly enjoyable.

It might require an adjustment in the number of CP in a challenge, but that shouldn’t be a massive problem.

That’s my thoughts on the matter. What do you think?

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Filed under Experimental Mechanics

Missing

I-CA Scout WebPatrol Report: Chun Gwok

The missing girl disappeared sixteen hours ago. Her parents report that she had the habit of venturing out into the forest around the colony with some of the local Scimrahn children.

I’ve tracked her path through the woods. At first her path was straight, she knew where she was going but now it has become curving and looping. She may be lost or ill.

Something big has picked up her trail before I did, something predatory. I don’t recognize the track.

I’m sending up a drone to see ahead and cover ground quickly. There may not be much time left for her.

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Filed under Civilian, Military, Transmissions

Stupid Driver

Desert Web
Voice recognition – Starting

Sound Database – Starting

Sound – Transport Engine Noise 75 db 72%

Robert Mason 96% – Stupid driver didn’t let us know he lost the convoy while we were sleeping. It’s June 30th, we’re trying to find the rest of the convoy but we’re running out of fuel. I figure we have another two hours of driving before we’re sunk.

We’re running along their last known heading but it isn’t looking good, we can’t find tracks that the convoy should have left. We’re zig zagging a bit to see if we can run across any trail the convoy might have left.

Recording – Paused

Recording – Start

Sound – Transport Engine Noise 75 db 71%

Robert Mason 93% – This is bad, Chuck gave us the wrong heading. We’ve been going in the wrong direction for an hour. We’re going to guess where we think the convoy is and head to that point.  If they noticed we’re missing, they may have stopped and we can overtake them. Otherwise, we can only hope they come back for us.

Recording – Paused

Recording – Start

Robert Mason 98% – Well, that’s it, we’re out of fuel and we still didn’t find any sign of the convoy. All we can do is make as much noise as we can on the radio and wait. Colin piped his headphones into the comm system and is broadcasting.

Recording – Paused

No input 15 minutes – shutting down

Voice recognition – Starting

Sound Database – Starting

Robert Mason 85% – It’s July 2nd and there’s been no sign of the convoy. Up ’till now there’s been more food than we can carry in the transport. We were lucky with that. It doesn’t look like they’re coming for us so we’ve decided to start walking. The temperature is only about five degrees out and there’s a strong wind blowing through the hexes. Chuck says if we follow the wind we’ll run into a warmer. . . ‘er weather, whatever, near a plasma conduit. There’s a chance there could be someone living near a conduit. It’s a long shot though that we’d actually run into anyone.

The other choice is to try and make it to our original destination which is still 800 Km away. With the food we have, I’d guess we can make it 250 Km on the food we have. I’ve talked to the men and this is the option we’ve voted for.

Shutdown command given

Voice recognition – Starting

Sound Database – Starting

Sound – Wind 95 db 54%

Robert Mason 67% – It’s July 11th and we’re out of food. It’s cold. Chuck, Colin and Aiden aren’t keeping up anymore. This wind just does not stop.

There’s not much more to say.

Shutdown command given

Voice recognition – Starting

Sound Database – Starting

Robert Mason 51% – Lost half the men. Only hope, is, get to base, send men back. It’s July um, I think the 20th.

Timestamp Command July 24th 2087

Or the 24th, kind of lost track down here. Can’t walk for more than a hex without having to sleep. Might not make it much further, my feet are numb, it’s bad.

Shutdown command given

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Filed under Military, Transmissions

Stolen Engine

Stolen Engine

 

Report by: Warrant Officer Jacob Boxer

Position: Field Engineer, Juliet Company

Assigned Objective: Restore mobility to one of the company’s E-Suits

Purpose of Mission: Protection of allied forces near the surface

Progress Report: The Company’s resources are severely depleted while we wait for a new teleporter from a remote ops station. After losing a number of the Company’s assets in action, one of our E-suit’s engines was damaged beyond repair. My orders were to find a way to restore function to the vehicle by any means.

With no other viable options I was able to extract a Chezbah Zero Point Engine with the help of some of the medics and preserve it’s power generation. It has been reported that once the engine goes cold it cannot be reactivated so we needed to take great care to prevent an accidental discharge.

It does appear that the engine is slowly degrading once removed from it’s host but the process may take several weeks to fail. We have speculated that the engine is repaired by the host’s nanotech systems but that it slowly degrades from the extreme charges that build up in it.

Charge in the engine builds exponentially so great care must be taken to keep them level. Early on I was forced to short the engine out because of a run away reaction. This nearly fully discharged the engine which would have rendered it useless.

Once the power is balanced with the vehicle’s power demands, most of this exponential reaction should be manageable but will require the pilot to be mindful of not fully discharging the engine nor letting it build a charge past the level the vehicle can use. We are proposing to have a grounding system automatically trip if this happens and avoid an overload situation.

Testing in the E-Suit begins tomorrow.

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The Procession

Chezbah City Web

Report by: Sergeant Alex Kronn

Position: Embedded Observer

Assigned Objective: Report on Chezbah activity in assigned city.

Purpose of Mission: To provide cultural and military intelligence.

Progress Report: Today there was a procession. My host explained that a pilot had distinguished himself in conflicts with the Kelrath.

He seems to be their ace pilot, turning the tide against incursion of much larger Kelrath forces that would have overrun the city. They’re showering him with gifts as he rides by. It’s easy to understand why the conscripts tend to be highly motivated to distinguish themselves.

I’m a day late with this one. I’m really happy with this because I’ve tried to do a picture set in one of the Residential Hex cities for a long time now but haven’t been able to pull it off. That added to showing something of Chezbah culture in a picture.

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Filed under Chezbah Sourcebook, Military, Transmissions

Fighting In The Camp

Scim woman fighter Web

Report by: Captain Jason Grisonti

Position: CO, Victor Company

Assigned Objective: Protection of allies acting on or near the surface.

Purpose of Mission: To defend allied forces in the region.

Progress Report: While allied were conducting offensive maneuvers away from their home base, our position came under attack by Chezbah forces. Victor company performed well but suffered ten percent losses. Enemy forces consisted of several hundred Hounds, a dozen or more Warriors and four enemy E-Suits.

Our initial strategy of staying hidden outside of the allied camp seems to have paid off. Enemy forces appeared unaware of our presence at first. This may have led them to attack with a smaller force and were not ready for our E-Suits and tanks.

However, we were not able to detect the enemies movement until they were very close to the allied camp and some of the fighting occurred in the camp where our missiles and tank guns could not be used without endangering allies.

Even without their main fighting forces present, several of the allied civilians put up a good deal of resistance to the Chezbah forces as they entered the camp.

Intelligence says that the enemy is regrouping and will advance on our position soon. We will fall back to a secondary position that will have to remain undisclosed as of this message in case of interception.

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Filed under Military, Transmissions

Getting Progress Going Again

A lot of the progress that went into 3rd edition came from me musing about RPGs on the blog here. The problem that I have now is that I don’t specifically need ideas, I need pictures. I’ve thought about posting pictures on the blog here but I don’t think just posting pictures would be terribly interesting.

The deadline of posting once a day or even once a week gave me a good excuse to keep pushing forward even when I didn’t particularly feel inspired. I liked that, even if I didn’t use everything I wrote about, it still helped me refine a lot of ideas that in a round about way found their ways into the game. So how can I do that with pictures?

The answer has been staring me in the face. I originally started up the blog as a way of introducing some story elements of the game. The posts were supposed to be messages sent back to earth and were being leaked to the public. I called these posts “Transmissions”. I’ve done a few more here and there recently as in the post just before this one. Now I think I should do something similar to what I’ve been doing over on Steampunkfitters. Each picture I post will be part of a Transmissions entry, so each picture will have a story associated with it.

That’s kind of simple in retrospect but it’s something that’s stymied me for a bit now. I may post other kinds of posts in between, but for at least the next year, I’m going to post one Transmission post with an accompanying picture every Wednesday.

Time to get painting.

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Filed under Admin, News, Transmissions

The Anatomy of A Warp

To: Dr. Jacob Grenwich, Director of ASO Science Studies

From: Dr. Evan Larrs, Science Anomalies Supervisor

This message is classified TOP SECRET

Site 13-A has delivered some incredible insights. The localized effects that we have come to describe as “Warps” are what would at first seem to be violations of the properties of common matter but when examined, they peel back layers of reality so that we might peer deeper into the bedrock of the universe.

Interpretations of our findings are still ongoing but our best hypothesis at the moment is that the anomalies in spacetime and even the apparent breach of the conservation of energy that are being generated by changes to the matter in ways we previously didn’t conceive.

Many theories in physics leave open the possibility that there are more dimensions than we classically perceive. In the case of super string theory, these extra dimensions are required to make equations work. The warps seem to prove the existence of these extra dimensions.

For clarification we are not referring to multiverses here, although our research does not exclude the possibility of their existence. In our holographic universe we perceive two dimensions as our four (x, y, z, and time), while other dimensions would at first seem out of reach of our experience. In the warps, we are able to experience the effects of matter moving and in many cases not moving in these dimensions.

Einstein established the speed of light in a vacuum as the universal speed limit. It is our opinion now that matter and light are moving in these extra dimensions at the speed of light or C as we will refer to it.

Because of this, we have discovered that all particles exist in and are moving through some of these extra dimensions at C.

This movement has certain effects. In one such dimension which we will label U for upsilon, matter moves in one direction at the speed of light. Dark energy appears to be moving in the opposite direction. Light appears to not move in U at all. When this movement is combined with a movement in time, it produces the effect of gravity while mass is created by the Higgs particles.

You might think of it this way, if matter is traveling right to left, dark energy is traveling left to right along U. Light appears to have little or no velocity by itself and so appears massless when it is in fact without it’s own gravity. Upsilon however is not analogous to gravity. Gravity is an emergent phenomenon that stems from matter moving slower through time and movement along U.

In the same way, many mysterious effects also appear as combinations of motion in these unperceived dimensions such as inertia. So far it appears that a movement along U and a movement along what we have called Tau or T produce the effect of inertia.

Just as light can be slowed down or even stopped by interfering with it’s motion, matter can apparently be effected in the same way along the dimensions such as U and T, either slowing it down, stopping it or possibly even reversing it’s direction.

From our calculations, this may explain one of the great mysteries of the big bang. Why is there not an equivalent amount of antimatter to matter in the universe? It would appear to be because much of the antimatter was launched in the opposite direction in time. The two would never meet chronologically and therefore never interact and annihilate each other.

If there are indeed 6 extra dimensions as calculated in superstring theory, this would give rise to forty six thousand six hundred and fifty six (46,656) different movement combinations that could give rise to different forces. As movement through time seems to also effect these other motions, there may instead be two hundred and seventy nine thousand nine hundred and thirty six (279,936) emergent properties that this movement could account for. We have only identified a small number of these and have only been able to test for five.

Whatever The Artifact is or was, it’s creators knew what these effects are and how to manipulate them. This is a subject of unprecedented importance that will require all the resources we can put behind it.

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Filed under Civilian, Transmissions

Digital Painting For Illustrators

I’ve been working on my painting skills lately. I need to get art for 3rd edition done and wanted to improve the quality of the art in the book. To do that I had to relearn how to make art. I have been primarily an illustrator, meaning I draw with lines and then maybe color the picture later. I had a problem figuring out how to paint because the process, the order things are done in a picture is quite different.

I thought I’d try helping out anyone that has been struggling like I was by making a how to for digital painting. You can read my Instructable on the subject by following the link below.

Digital Painting For Illustrators

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Playing With Motivations

I’ve been studying up on character development because in the campaign we’re currently in there is a rich opportunity for interesting NPCs since the PCs don’t know who’s on their side and who’s their enemy. One of the things I want to play with is the classic dramatic motivations just to see what happens with how the players respond to the NPCs. If you’re not familiar with them they are,

  1. Someone to pursue a goal (the Protagonist)
  2. Someone to avoid the goal (the Antagonist)
  1. Someone that helps
  2. Someone that hinders
  1. Someone encouraging to consider a plan
  2. Someone encouraging to reconsider a plan
  1. Someone encouraging logic or reason
  2. Someone encouraging feeling or emotional fulfillment
  1. Someone encouraging excersizing control
  2. Someone encouraging being uncontrolled
  1. Someone to appeal to conscience
  2. Someone to appeal to temptation
  1. Someone who supports (speaks for) efforts
  2. Someone who opposes (speaks against) efforts
  1. Someone to express faith
  2. Someone to disbelieve

Each motivation has it’s opposing motivation. In a story, usually only one character fufills these roles at a time but I’m not going to worry about that at the moment.

The first motivation is for the protagonist, so no NPC would get that one since it normally would go to the PCs. Actually you could give it to an NPC and have the PC take up another one of these motivations but it would take buy in from the players, either tacitly or explicitly for that to work.

So what I’m doing is rolling a die to see which one of these each NPC will start off being. Low roll and the first motivation is chosen for that character, high roll means the second motivation is chosen. For example, try to imagine an NPC who is . . .

  • Someone that helps
  • Someone encouraging to reconsider a plan
  • Someone encouraging logic or reason
  • Someone encouraging being uncontrolled
  • Someone to appeal to temptation
  • Someone who supports (speaks for) efforts
  • Someone to express faith

So this is a character trying to help the players but disagrees on their methods. They’re reasoning and logical about how they do things but maybe that way of life has let them down, so they encourage the PCs to be unpredictable and try to let in to a temptation. What’s interesting about this is, the temptation is traditionally a distraction from the protagonist’s goals. The NPC publicly supports the PCs and expresses faith in them. However since they are trying to get the PCs to reconsider, we know that they have reservations.

Next this rough outline can be applied to the setting and used to really flesh out the NPC’s backstory.

Obviously there could be some combinations that are difficult to reconcile but those are my favorite kind. It could also work to have three conditions when you roll the die. Low means the first choice, a middle value equals the second and high values mean that the character has no part in that motivation.

You could just choose what traits you want the NPCs to take but that seems boring to me. I like to discover the NPC’s by randomly generating them. YMMV.

I haven’t got to use this yet. If the results are particularly significant I’ll post about it. If you use it, leave a comment about how it worked for you.

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Filed under GM Advice