The Golden Demon Awards 1987-88

Before I delve into todays trip back in time, I’m going to mention a few news items:

The latest edition of Freelance Traveller (September / October) has been published by Jeff Zeitlin. You can download it from the Freelance Traveller website. It features several reviews plus the usual cracking content we have come to expect from Jeff.

Gypsy Knights Games have updated one of their adventures ‘Hell’s Paradise’ which is available on DriveThru RPG for $6.99. Originally released for the Mongoose first edition of Traveller, it has been fully updated for the Cepheus Engine rule set.

Whilst I work through my reviews pile, I wanted to take a little ‘look back in the day’. Following on from my Games Day flyer post a few months back, I’m going to take a look at the ‘Golden Demon’ awards flyers from 1987 and 1988. Back in the day, painting miniatures (or ‘figures’ as I called them, can’t get used to this ‘minis’ business) took up about 60% of my RPG time in the period 1983-1988. Coming from an Airfix aircraft modelling background, I was already used to a certain degree of modelling skills so this wasn’t too hard a transition when I got into the RPG scene circa 1982. It took off properly in 1983 (after much nagging my parents) and I picked up a catalogue from Games Workshop in Birmingham. I must have spent *hours* pouring over its contents working out how much I could afford on my first trip to Birmingham with my cousin Carl. This blue catalogue is really ‘RPG ground zero’ for me and I’ve scanned the cover and a couple of pages from the inside. Its looking a bit beat up now, I wanted to pick up another copy to keep but the day I went back to Games Workshop, it had been replaced by the Citadel Compendium! Populated by mainly line drawings, they didn’t quite hold the allure of the photos in the original blue catalogue. Oh well.

Over the following years, my painting skills got better and better and considered myself to be reasonably competant when compared some of the display cabinets in Games Workshop. ‘Conversion jobs’ became a speciality and I’d cannibalise parts from my old Airfix models, or buy new ones (usually containing rockets, machine guns, pointy things) to bolt onto my projects.

I’d already left school and completed a couple of City & Guilds Electrics and Electronic Engineering courses by the time I got wind of the Golden Demon awards coming up. Carl said he wasn’t interested but I said I was going to give it a crack and set to work entering the regional competition heat in Birmingham. I can’t recall much in what I entered; I think there was a two-man goblin chariot which I entered mounted on a varnished wooden base and there was ‘Rambo’. A Chaos Dwarf which when I handed it to the assistant asked me ‘is this one of ours’ (ie. is it a Citadel figure)? I replied it was – I’d done such a complete conversion job by removing its beard and crossbow and replaced it with stubbly chops and a grenade launcher, it was nigh on unrecognisable!

The big day came for finding out who had won and I jumped on the bus to travel to Birmingham. The shop was packed and a large number of people were gathered around the display stand where the winners were located. I hurredly looked up and down and about half way down the display were my figures, as part of the winners group! To say that I was pleased would be an understatement – I was amongst some really tough competition so to go forward with the winners group was an achievement for me.

I can’t remember much about how I organised myself for the next stage to be held in Nottingham, I have included a letter here which I must have received through the post along with a copy of the (1987) flyer, showing the details of the venue. I sorted out my transport (National Express coach from Birmingham to Nottingham) and set to work on a display that would hopefully achieve a win. I also set to work on additional individual figures to cover the various classes you could enter. I remember only having two weeks from the end of my City & Guilds exams to the big day, so I set to work building the big display, let that dry and then paint the base coats of the miniatures, let those dry, back to the big display and so on. An important skill I learnt whilst all this was going on was forward planning, knowing my materials and making sure that every minute I had available was used constructively.

Part of the problem with constructing a large diorama was transporting it. I liked to decorate my bases with lots of Milliput ‘grass’ which looks great but is incredibly fragile. An example of this is in the image at the bottom of the page where some of this damage has occured. So I had to pack everything securely in some large boxes, that I could keep flat in my sports bag and wouldn’t get knocked about.

On the day I got up early and caught the coach on time and set off for Nottingham. I must have got there some time in the morning as registration had to be done by 11am and I recall a scene of organised chaos. You had to bring in your entries to a long desk and tell the organisers what classess you were entering for. I’d painted my name on all the figures bases (just in case) and handed over my transport boxes (also with my name and address) over so they could be displayed at the right time. Because the judging was some time away, I had a wander around the figure painting displays and the few trade stands that were there, but I ended up kicking my heels after a while so I wandered out for a bit.

On returning I could see that the judging had started and the great John Blanche (painting and artist god) was working his way through picking out his winner choices. I’d entered an Ogre in full plate armour which I’d painstakingly painted using inks to achieve a deep burgundy red colour (bit like the Chaos Warrior in the picture below) and John picked it out! I could have jumped up and down with joy but my hopes were crushed as after a minute or two deliberation, John picked another figure and replaced mine back with all the other entries.

Unfortunately that was the closest I got to winning anything at the final heats. Towards the end of the afternoon I managed to retrieve a transport box – not mine, that had apparently been lost in the organised chaos so I ended up with someone elses. I had at least a chance of getting my figures back home undamaged.

That was the last figure painting competition I entered, by the time 1988 rolled around my RPG interests were waining and would go into a low-berth sleep for a couple years, so everything went into storage. I got a 1988 flyer from GW which I’ve scanned for download here. I’m still proud that I was a winner at the regional heat in Birmingham, to go from that first blue catalogue to the first national figure painting competition. I’ve sent over copies of the flyers of the PDFs to the ‘Stuff of Legends’ website which I hope they will accept. One of these days I’ll find more of my figures to photograph and post on this blog. In the meantime, here is a (rough) snap of the large diorama I built for the Nottingham heat – the ‘Advanced Death and Destruction Squad’.

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Posted in Citadel Miniatures, Old School Gaming | Tagged , | Leave a comment

LBB Booklet Template

Looking at the page stats, it appears that the Laserburn LBB rendering as been a very popular article. Following some feedback, I’m making the template available to download in MS Word format.

I’ve included some instructions on how to change the colours in the template along with two different types; one for rule books and one for supplements and adventures.

Disclaimer:

All files in the ZIP archive have been checked for viruses, malware, trojan programs at the time of creation. However I take NO responsibility for any damage or loss that could result in use of the archive. It is provided as-is, no warranty is given therefore use at your own risk.

The template archive can be downloaded from here.

You will also need the Optima font which can be downloaded from here. Thanks to the Zhodani Base for finding this.

Posted in Classic Traveller, Laserburn | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Fantasy Traveller Part 15 – The Noble Character Class

Though I have started work on converting my ‘Fantasy Traveller’ articles over to the Cepheus Engine rules system, I still want to develop material for the Classic Traveller background, especially as there have been a number of positive comments on Twitter and the Citizens of the Imperium forum. What I write here will eventually help fuel the CE variant of the Fantasy Traveller anyway, so the two will sort of run in parallel. In addition, it is helping me build up the background for the wider subsector I want to develop.

I’d been looking at expanding the ‘Noble’ career from the original as described in Supplement 4: Citizens of the Imperium. Instead of making a ‘close’ approximation of how Nobles are described in Classic Traveller (mainly diplomats or people who don’t really make or do anything), I want them to be more distinct in the world of Grond. My vision of Nobles is of a well-educated, well equipped ‘class’ of people that live ‘above’ the rest of the denizens of Grond. They essentially live off the spoils of what the people of Grond build or create. Part of their training and ascendancy to rank is to take part in the state-run dungeons and complete adventures in order to advance in status. In some ways its a bit like the state-run colesiums of Roman times, but underground. Sometimes criminals are put in the dungeons to fight the adventuring Nobles, with the offer of a repreve or clemency. Other denizens are paid to help run the dungeons, for the benefit of the Noble class. Some of the dungeons are publically viewable with open viewing areas above the rooms where the action takes place.

Day-to-day life under the Nobles rule on Grond is pretty tough; they help keep the denizens of Grond ‘under the thumb’ by forcing them (some as slaves) to mine a number of important minerals. The Nobles also have a dark secret… nobody knows what happens to the minerals once they have been extracted and anyone that has tried to discover the secret has never been seen again…

There is no societal difference between male and female Nobles, they both progress in the same way and can fight equally as well as each other. They achieve the same rank and can hold the same status; unfortunately all Nobles consider the rest of the populace as ‘beneath them’. Several large families form Noble ‘houses’ and compete with each other for favour with the Emperor of Grond, sometimes by grinding the populace into the dirt, increasing the mining quotas or by participating in the state-run dungeons for sport. To help effect this control over the greater part of the populace, Nobles use the fearsome ‘Skorr’ – a sort of large wolf on steroids which they train and employ for crowd control, hunting and guard patrols.

Image: Public domain photographic reproduction ‘Byzantine Fresca from St Lucas.jpg‘.

Nobles are ‘born’ into the career and receive a great deal of training and schooling up to their age of 18. From there, they progress to military school where they train with the ‘real-world’ skills necessary to perform their duties and help rule / police the populace of Grond.

Some are assigned routine work such as patrols, policing, others are challenged to take on the dungeons for sport or prestige. Others through rank become admistrators of districts, towns or governors.

Typical outfits of the Nobles when in military gear is to wear a quilted coat which is covered in lamellar, scale or chain mail armour. Helmets are generally round or pointed with covers for the ears and back of the head. Plate greaves are worn to protect the legs. Shields are optional, depending on the weapon preference. I’ve modelled the Nobles military gear on what was worn by the Byzantine army, dated the 7th to 12th centuries. If you want to take a further look, I’d like to recommend some books by Osprey Publishing; Angus McBride produced some lovely illustrations of the Byzantine army as this is more-or-less how I envisaged what the Grond Nobles would look like in their military gear. I can’t link to any images here as the work is copyrighted, but I do recommend that you look at the books.

Changes to the Noble Career Path

Skill changes compared to Supplement: 4.

First off, I’m going to have to make some changes to the ‘technological’ skills of the Noble and find some replacements.

Gun Combat is replaced with Bow Combat.

Vehicle is replaced with Riding skill.

Pilot is replaced with Recon.

Ships Boat is replaced with Blade Combat.

Engineering is replaced with Survival skill.

Computer is replaced with Interrogation.

I’ll also introduce an additional skill to cover the Nobles ability to control the Skorr: Service Animal. Increases in skill give a DM of greater chance of controlling the Skorr and the creature carrying out the Nobles intended actions.

Prior Service Table

Enlistment (special) – the Noble career is open only to persons with SOC 10+.

Survival – 6+ (changed this from 3+ to reflect the tougher life of Nobles on Grond)

Position 5+

DM +1 if EDU 9+

Promotion 12+

DM +1 if INT 10+

Re-enlist 4+

Table of Ranks

Rank 1 Knight

Rank 2 Baron

Rank 3 Administrator

Rank 4 Senator

Rank 5 Governor

Rank 6 —-

Benefits Tables

Table 1 Material Benefits

1 +1 SOC

2 Bow Weapon

3 Blade Weapon

4 Blade Weapon

5 Nobles Set of Armour

6 Horse and Kit

Table 2 Cash Benefits (Grond Currency)

1 1,000

2 2,000

3 4,000

4 7,000

5 10,000

6 20,000

Skills list

Personal Development Table

1 +1 STR

2 +1 DEX

3 +1 END

4 +1 INT

5 Carousing

6 Brawling

Service Skills

1 Bow Combat

2 Blade Combat

3 Hunting

4 Riding

5 Bribery

6 +1 DEX

Advanced Education Table

1 Recon

2 Blade Combat

3 Two-handed Combat

4 Heavy Weapon Combat

5 Survival

6 Service Animal

Advanced Education Table (if EDU is 8+)

1 Medical

2 Interrogation

3 Admin

4 Liaison

5 Leader

6 Jack-o-T

The non-standard skills mentioned above (ie. what I have come up with), you can find further details in previous articles based on ‘The Fantasy Traveller‘ tag (link takes you to a list of the related posts in the series).

Example Character Generation

I’ll test the character generation process now, so we have Salakel of the House Marciim who has reached age 18 and needs to improve her skills and contribute to her House. She rolls for her attributes first, 7 7 8 9 10 12. Assigning these, she ends up with 98C77A. As I want Salakel to be a Noble, I need to assign at least a 10 (A) for SOC in order for her to ‘enlist’ in the character class.

She rolls for survival and gets a 10 (there are no DMs) and lives. As its her first term, she gets two skills, which she can roll on the first three tables, but because her EDU score is less than 8, she can’t roll on the fourth table.

She rolls once on the service skills table and once on the advanced education table, getting a 3 (Hunting) and a 2 (Blade Combat). I’ll choose what type of blade later. She then rolls a 2 and fails to get a promotion.

For the next term, she rolls an 8 and survives. Rolling on the advanced education table she gets a 6 (Service Animal) and learns how to manage and control a Skorr. She then rolls a 12 and gains a position to the rank of knight. Unfortunately she only rolls a 3 and fails to get promoted any further, so an additional roll on the skills table (personal development) and rolls a 1 (+1 STR).

Stats start with the third term at A8C77A and a roll for survival results in a 10. Rolling on the advanced education table results in a 4, heavy weapon combat. Salakel fails to get a promotion and decides to exit any more terms in service. To summarise, she is now 30 years of age, rank of knight and has the skills:

Heavy Weapon Combat-1

Blade Combat-1

Hunting-1

Service Animal-1

She has four rolls on the benefits tables (three from terms served and one extra from rank one position) and decides to pick two from each.

From table 1 she gets two blade weapons and from table 2 she gets a total of 8,000Cr (Grond currency).

I’ll be expanding on the role of the Nobles in a future publication, I have a few ideas how to expand on this which links into the dark secret they are complicit in… watch this space!

Posted in Cepheus Engine, Classic Traveller, Mongoose Traveller, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Laserburn as Classic Traveller LBBs

For a bit of fun, I’ve been having a look at the Laserburn books and as their size is roughly similar to the Classic Traveller LBB’s (Little Black Books), I got thinking what if the Laserburn books were in the same format as the LBB’s?

I’d already got a Microsoft Word format document that was set up for generating LBB-style covers, so I compiled a list of the Laserburn rules plus a number of adventures and scenarios. The only issue I found is that I ran out of space when editing the cover for ‘Advanced Laserburn and Aliens’ and had to split it in two.

Something I’d like to make clear – this is purely a bit of fun in re-imagining some book covers and is in no way a challenge to any copyright by the respective owners. I haven’t included any fan-made books that can be found on the internet, just the ‘offically-published’ books and mentions of titles within the books themselves. In some ways it is a ‘tribute’ to the LBB style that they continue to attract players and also Laserburn, in that many people have fond memories of playing it.

Ok, onto the covers:

The Laserburn rule book – in the style of the Classic Traveller rules books 0-8:

I picked the off-yellow as a nod to the colour of the original Laserburn rules.

Now, the following books could be considered as rulebooks (hence fall into that format with no colour bands across the top and bottom), but I decided they would be classed as supplements and they look a bit more colourful for it.

Supplement 1: Forces of the Imperium: I’m not entirely sure what order the Laserburn materials were released, so I’ve picked a book and assigned it a supplement number.

Next we have ‘Supplement 2: Imperial Commander’.

Supplement 3: Robot…

Supplement 4 is Advanced Laserburn – normally this would have ‘…and Aliens’ but the font for that line is too big and reducing it in size wouldn’t look right. So I took the decision to split the book in two, so we have for Supplement 5… Aliens.

Supplement 6 is a forms and charts book which would also contain the templates for the weapons in 15mm and 25mm scale (bit like the Classic Traveller book).

Onto the Adventures… I started with ‘Assault on Bunker 17’ as it felt like the natural choice to kick off the adventures list.

The second scenario is ‘Sewerville Shootout’.

The third adventure is ‘Tarim Towers Heist’.

Fourth (of the actual published adventures) is: Sea Prison Siege.

Fifth, which was never actually published I’ve assigned to the classic ‘For a Few Gonads More’.

The sixth (also unpublished but mentioned in the Laserburn rules book) adventure is ‘Shot by Both Sides’.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get ‘Encounter at Spagetti Junction’ onto the one line so I’ve left that one out.

The final adventure, which was a published solo, is ‘Scavenger’.

There you have it, my re-imagining of the Laserburn covers in the style of the Classic Traveller LBB’s. You never know, someone might put together a Kickstarter for the Laserburn rules and use these for a bit of inspiration. If you do, if you wouldn’t mind sending me a copy, it would be much appreciated…!!

Posted in Laserburn, Old School Gaming | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Unmerciful Frontier – The CCA Sourcebook Review

Unmerciful Frontier – The CCA Sourcebook (which I’ll refer to from now simply as the CCAS) is the latest ‘system’ supplement for Gypsy Knights Games setting ‘The Clement Sector’. Available now on Drivethru RPG for $9.99 as a PDF along with a printed edition for $24.99.

This is a pretty major publication from Gypsy Knights Games (GKG) and opens up a whole new area of exploration beyond the Clement Sector. It has been on my mind what would GKG would do next to ‘go beyond’ the Clement Sector as I’ve noticed that they have an extremely comprehensive product portfolio containing supplements and adventures in the Clement Sector area. I was getting a bit concerned that they would fall into the trap (as some publishers have done in the past) of publishing materials simply to keep the momentum of releases going. Unfortunately this is where the quality starts to drop because ideas get rehashed or you get the feeling things have reached saturation point. GKG’s releases in the past few years (I feel) have been of a consistently high standard and there was a danger this could fall if this limit was ever reached by them.

However, I’m extremely pleased to see that GKG are now expanding their frontiers and are now moving into the relatively unexplored regions beyond the Clement Sector with the help of the CCAS. It is a 192-page sourcebook which is divided into three major parts:

1. The Cascadia Colonisation Authority (who they are, equipment, careers, processes and procedures).

2. System Generation (building an entire star system based on real-life astronomical data).

3. The Tranquility Sector (subsector maps and locations of known star systems).

Part 1 – The Cascadia Colonisation Authority

Covering pages 6 to 43, you get a complete background of how the CCA came into being, founded by a certain James Lancaster in 2240. Originally a shipping magnate, he used the Independent Worlds Treaty to help set up an agreement to ferry colonists to the newly-founded worlds on the other side of the worm hole conduit. This agreement was pretty successful and Lancaster started to ferry colonists to worlds that had only been scouted by the CCA a matter of months before. After his death Lancaster the CCA continued to grow into the organisation it is now, an arm of the Cascadian government. This introduction continues to expand on the various branches of the CCA and the type of operations it is involved with, which includes not just exploration but anti-piracy as well. There are political interests which push and pull the ultimate direction of the Cascadian government in how the settlement of new worlds should be viewed; the creation of a number of independent worlds similar to the way that the first worlds in the Clement Sector were created, or the creation of a new Empire.

The CCA’s main aim (political influences aside) is exploration. You are presented with the CCA’s plan, which involves three main steps:

1. Confirmation – from long range observations, a CCA ship will confirm what is actually in the system being visited.

2. Examination – ships orbiting worlds, the physical nature of a system, use of probes and landings.

3. Settlement – establishment of forward bases and settlements prior to the arrival of colony ships and settlers. Securing the environment.

A secondary, but vital aim of the CCA is anti-piracy; working with the Cascadian Navy and Marshals (but also operating under their own authority) to disrupt pirate vessels and bases so that they move elsewhere.

To help put some substance on how the CCA looks, you get some detail on the uniform worn and the chain of command.

Page 14 is where things get really detailed; you are taken through the full CCA standard operating procedure for exploring a new system. This is interspersed with gaming notes and skill checks for the completion of certain operations.

All good exploration teams have plenty of equipment and the CCA’s experience in this area is reflected in the next part of this section, equipment. There are some tasty devices listed; in the vehicles heading, there is the ‘PLED’ – ‘Personal Lift Extenuation Device’. Basically a miniaturised personal jet pack which is very nicely illustrated by Bradley Warnes. You also get the stats for the ‘PREV’ – ‘Planetary Reconnaissance and Exploration Vehicle’. For me, this has quite an unusual design; its ‘retro’ styling reminds me of the American cars of the 1950’s, or of a Volkswagen Camper Van Type 2:

A PREV Mk.001? License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

The final part of this first section is the CCA Career generation process, which covers Crew, Explorer and Escort branches. This is presented in the same way as other GKG career generation procedures.

I’ve been mucking around with my POV-Ray galaxy generator again; an young blue star emerging from its surrounding nebula

Part 2 – System Generation

The author John Watts has made this part of the book (pages 44 through to 149) as Open Game Content (with exception of the ‘proprietary‘ material such as Zimm drive information, artwork for example – full details are provided) so it can be used by the Cepheus Engine and 2D6 SF RPG community. As a visual reference, the text is of a slightly different font and style.

The original Classic Traveller created the system generation procedure, which was expanded on in Book 6: Scouts. What John has written in these pages is an extremely comprehensive star system generator that will surely satisfy any ‘builder’ of worlds. You are taken step by step through a process that will detail what stars are present (note I said ‘stars’ – I think this is something that was always noticed in Book 6: Scouts in that it only allowed one star per system if I recall correctly). You then go through the types of stars, how close they are together (if multiples), the number of gas giants and asteroid belts and habitable zone.

This is where the author’s research really shows; the next twenty (!) pages list tables of the various types of stars (variants of Giant, Dwarf, you name it, its there!) which describes the star class, temperature, mass, luminosity, inner limit, habitable zone, snow line and outer limit in AU. You then round off with main world and gas giant placement. What I like is that John Watts has taken two schools of thought (a traditional ‘doubling‘ of distances of planets from our sun and the ‘varied’ distance method) and integrated a few examples of how this would work within the system generation process. That way, you have a process that expands on the type of results you would get to produce a similar system to the format used on Book 6: Scouts, but also has a process to produce results that is more in line with current scientific observations and understanding of solar system creation. I always find having lots of examples applying a set procedure is always very helpful to getting to grips with a new set of rules, especially where there is lots of mathematics involved.

The next set of pages describe (at least from a gaming point of view) what the rocky planets in the system are like. You have twenty-five pages broken down into the types of world (Mercurian, Subterranean, Terran, Superterran and Dwarf) according to what zone from the star they fall into. This is followed by Asteroid Belts, Starports, Zimm Points, Moons and ‘Quirks’; those unusual occurrences that make exploring a system so interesting! This is backed up with a couple of comprehensive system generation examples so you can get used to the whole thing.

The next part ‘Beyond the Codes’; this is where you really need your plastic brain or handcomp near by. Its an optional section, but it does get into some quite complicated maths. This part is to help the referee really put some flesh (Rocks? Dirt?) on the planets they have just created by working out size, density, mass, gravity, orbital period, rotation period, axial tilt, atmosphere, pressure… I’ll end there but there is a lot presented!

If you ever thought the maths behind the Classic Traveller gravitational strengths calculations (page 37, Book 2: Starships) was complicated, then you can calculate average temperature by the formula (from p.140):

And then:

As I said this is an optional section so don’t be put off by the level of detail and the maths involved to calculate such information. I know some people will love this sort of thing after reading various posts on forums over the years. However, this is probably the one part of the book that would have benefitted from a few examples to help with the explanation of the calculations. Its been quite a few years since I had to use any (electrical and electronic engineering) maths similar to what is described here, so unless your maths ability is used to such formulae, some people may struggle with this part of the book. The author should be commended though for producing such a comprehensive process that allows you to flesh out the details of your newley-created worlds and it won’t stop you from getting the most out of the CCAS.

A blue hypergiant star visible from across the galaxy

The Open Game Content stops at page 149, which leads onto the final major section of the book:

Part 3 – Tranquility Sector

Named after the original Tranquility base on the Moon, this sector lies trailing to Clement Sector and is formed of 16 subsectors 10 long by 8 parsecs wide. It was the third sector on the Clement Sector side of the wormhole to be settled and as such hold the most recent settlements. This is where the CCA continues to push deeper with its explorations.

The subsectors are named after peaceful or tranquil concepts, hence examples such as ‘Dusk’, ‘Dawn’, ‘Harmony’, ‘Aurora’ and so on. After the 16 subsector grid, you are presented with the first individual 10×8 subsector map. However I found I was having to turn to the next page to find out what the subsector name was, as there was no name listed on the grid page. As I worked my way through the book, I found I was constantly flipping back and forth to keep a point of reference between the subsector grid map and the description page, which was a bit of a minor irritation. Hopefully the subsector name could be added to the grid map in future editions of the book.

The book rounds off with a few tables (system scale, list of CCA vessels in service and a blank subsector hex map) along with a list of references to books and websites the author has used to help write the book.

In some ways, this is the sort of book that has been wished for over the years by the Classic Traveller community to help with creating astronomically-accurate star systems. It is up to date with current observations and theories on star system formation and John Watts has taken this scientifically and mathematically complicated piece of research information and melded it into a useful tool for the referee. There is plenty of colourful artwork by Jennifer Leonard, Ian Stead, Bradley Warnes (along with some single pieces by other artists) which helps to illustrate the CCA uniform, starships and Volkswagen Camper Van in space… sorry the PREV!

Aside from the optional (and for me, complicated) ‘Behind the Codes’ part of the book which could have done with a few examples and my comment about the subsector map labels, this is a book every 2D6 SF RPG referee should own as there is such a useful amount of content, it will help to form the basis of many an adventure and is well worth the money. I would like to kindly thank John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for his generosity in sending me a copy to review.

Now, I’m sure Classic Traveller enthusiasts could use this to re-run Adventure 0: The Imperial Fringe…!

Posted in Cepheus Engine, Classic Traveller, Clement Sector, OGL | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Horizon Survey Craft Update

A little bit of self- promotion for this blog post, Paul Elliott of Zozer Games contacted me a few weeks ago to see if he could use some of my artwork that I produced in a previous article. I’d created an image and some isometric views of the Horizon Survey Craft, based on the (at the time) freely available PDF from Drivethru RPG. The Horizon DRV is a 100dTon TL9 spacecraft which is designed for use in the Orbital 2100 SF RPG setting, compatible with the Cepheus Engine rules. However the original version was still written with the Mongoose 1st edition rules in mind and disappeared from Drivethru RPG for a while. When Paul contacted me, he was intending to bring it up to date with the Cepheus Engine rules set.

I sent over the artwork to Paul, plus an additional rendering of the ‘Spider’ 5dTon lander which he added to the book. The updated version is now available to download for free from here and if you have already ‘bought’ it from DTRPG, you should find the updated version in your library.

Thanks very much Paul for asking to use my artwork – in return he sent me a copy of ‘Hostile’ which I’m looking forward to reviewing very soon!

Posted in Cepheus Engine, OGL | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Signal 99 Review

Signal 99 authored by Richard Hazlewood was released by Stellagama Publishing back in June. It is set in the ‘These Stars Are Ours’ universe (also by Stellagama) but because it is compatible with the Cepheus Engine rules set, it can be adapted with little work for any other 2D6 SF RPG system. You can purchase it from Drivethru RPG for $3.99 as a PDF.

The 38 page PDF is an adventure designed for four players and starts with them receiving a distress signal (the Reticulan ‘Signal 99’) meaning that a ship is in danger and needs help (has the same legal definition as ‘Mayday’ or ‘Signal GK’). As they draw closer to the ship, they discover it is a badly damaged Reticulan Abductor; the hated Reticulan Empire used these to capture subjects for experimentation so seeing one of these should be shocking sight for the players.

The players have some hard decisions to make in how they deal with the rescue; they also discover that there aren’t just Reticulans on board, but the insect-like Zhuzzh are also on the ship – known throughout the galaxy as scavengers and pirates. It turns out that the ship’s cargo is actually a number of humans in low berths, which presents the players with a number of questions and moral dilemma’s; will they go after the Zhuzzh, who seem to have a plan for the low berths? Will they rescue the Reticulans (and this question isn’t that easy to answer, despite Reticulans dominating Terra / Earth for a couple of centuries)? On top of this, the power plant looks like it may blow up at any moment, taking everyone who is on board the ship with them!

The book itself is structured in the following way:

Pages 3 to 7 start with an introduction describing an overview of the adventure, required materials and conventions used. You also get a background to the ‘These Stars Are Ours’ (TSAO) universe, describing the primary combatants and empires. I won’t repeat the background here, but I did review the TSAO sourcebook back in March 2017:

Page 7 rounds off with some tips on using the adventure using other settings. Page 8 starts with the referees information; the events in the lead-up to the Abductor getting damaged, some significant NPCs and some pre-generated characters. Page 13 then begins with the adventure itself, starting with the distress call and what the players discover. You’re given plenty of detail on the approach to the ship, which is great as I think it builds tension and doesn’t make it a simple task for the players in simply using a docking computer. Pages 17-18 contain deck plans for the Abductor, with damaged areas of the ship indicated and room locations labelled. It’s important that the referee keeps track of time in this adventure as the power plant will go critical in a limited amount of time, which helps to keep the pressure on the players. This isn’t a take-your-time-explore type of adventure; actions cost time and once the players are on board, they had better think and act fast. There is plenty of atmosphere; lights are crackling and blinking a sickly green colour, gravity is non-existent and there is debris everywhere. It makes for a claustrophobic and difficult environment to move around in.

Pages 22-23 give a short summary of much of the Reticulan equipment found aboard the Abductor, but you would be best served by having a copy of ‘50 Wonders of the Reticulan Empire’ handy (reviewed in July 2017).

Pages 24 to 31 form the bulk of the book, namely being the room descriptions for all the locations found on the Abductor. There are plenty; the players really are going to have to get a move on if they are going to get around as many of these as possible (I counted 54 across two decks) and most rooms have at least a paragraph with plenty of detail to set the scene in each room.

Pages 32 and 33 describe the background to the Zhuzzh scavengers, their place in this adventure and a couple short descriptions of Zhuzzh starships (though there are no deck plans for these). The next couple of pages describe the aftermath and what happens to all the parties involved in the ‘incident’. Finally, the last page contains an Appendix to the Parvati system where the adventure is set.

Though the premise of the adventure is relatively straightforward (a rescue), the book gives plenty of detail and descriptions to make this an atmospheric, frantic rush to save lives. The book is well laid out and edited (by Omer Golan-Joel and Josh Peters); images (by Luigi Castellani) are limited in number (when compared to say, a Gypsy Knights Games product) but there is ‘just the right amount’ to help break up the text throughout the book. The cover and deck plans are provided by Ian Stead. Combined with its very reasonable price, I think this is another excellent quality product by Stellagama whose portfolio continues to grow and will provide a really good evenings gaming and entertainment.

I’d like to suggest a couple of audio tracks to help with the ‘tension’ aboard ship, as the final remaining minutes tick by before the Abductor’s power plant goes nuclear. From the ‘Aliens – The Deluxe Edition’ soundtrack by James Horner, start off with ‘Ripleys Rescue’ and then round off with ‘Bishops Countdown’ – well worth providing as background music I think! The latter two links are only there to demonstrate the tracks, I highly recommend you purchase a copy of the soundtrack as it really is a cracking piece of music. To finish I’d like to thank Omer Golan-Joel for kindly sending me a copy of Signal 99 for review.

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