Manhunter – Bounty Hunters in Clement Sector Review

Manhunter: Bounty Hunters in Clement Sector is one of the new releases from Gypsy Knights Games. Available from Drivethru RPG for $9.99 as a PDF, or $22.99 as a softback book (plus PDF) and it contains 94 pages. The material is compatible with the Clement Sector rules set or Cepheus Engine rules and could be adapted for other 2D6 SF RPG rule sets.

The bounty hunter is one of the more popular types of character that many gamers like to play; sometimes mysterious, usually tough and grizzled and always relentless its easy to see why they are well liked as either player characters or NPCs. It would be remiss without mentioning some of the more famous hunters from fiction such as Boba Fett from Star Wars and Deckard in Blade Runner. Io9 has an article on ten of the coolest in science-fiction:

https://io9.gizmodo.com/5798807/10-coolest-bounty-hunters-in-the-galaxy

There are also those from (real) history such as Thomas Tate Tobin who tracked his three targets and brought back their severed heads after refusing the help from a 15-strong militia:

https://www.history.co.uk/article/5-famous-bounty-hunters

So how does GKG expand on the ‘standard’ bounty hunter character from the rules book? The author John Watts delves in with a couple of pages of narrative ‘Another Day on Chance’ which describes the setting up of a deal between a bounty hunter and client. After a illustration depitching the deal by Bradley Warnes, you are introduced to what makes a manhunter in the Clement Sector. The next five pages break the eight types of manhunter down to the particular specialisms they are known for.

The (traditional) bounty hunter are usually independents who wait for a monetary bounty to be posted somewhere (could be a government or corporation) for the capture or death of a criminal.

Bail enforcement agents will track down accused persons that have jumped bail and return them to the law enforcement officials of the government that they have run away from.

Thieftakers offer their services directly to a victim of crime, where law enforcement does not appear to obtain justice.

Repossession agents will recover property for which payments have not been made in a timely manner.

Altrant / Uplift hunters are repossession agents working for someone or organisation that consider altrants or uplifts as property.

Skiptracers will search for databases and records in order to locate a fugitive or item of property.

Debt collectors recover funds lost to a person who has promised to pay those funds but has left the area where the organisation can legally recover those funds.

Marshals are specialised law enforcement agents tasked with the arrest and recovery of fugitives. The marshals remit may encompass many of the other types of ‘bounty hunting’ but only within the scope of what is legal.

Because the many worlds in the Clement Sector have different laws and views on what is / isn’t allowed, the next twenty-six pages describe in great detail the various worlds of the Hub, Cascadia, Franklin, Sequoyah and Colonies subsectors. This could get heavy going as there is a lot of text to go through (which is broken up with very fine images by Bradley Warnes) but John Watts has made the reading easy-going and engaging. Don’t expect to be able to leave one world where anything goes and stride into the bar of another world pointing your gun at your quarry and expect to get away with it. There are many nuances; its not just laws and governments, but many corporations have the say in a geographic area and their views take precedent. For example the Blaylock Mining Corporation believes that if they hire anyone, their employee is free of any legal problems that they have incurred on other worlds and they will not allow anyone to bring harm to one of their employees. What is considered as slavery on world, would be perfectly acceptable for a hunter to try and bring back an altrant on the run – dead or alive.

To help expand on the background of the eight character variations, the next thirty-four pages break down the variations between the careers and describe their respective specialisms. For example, Skiptracers have variant careers such as Investigators (on the ground investigations) or Researchers (office-based research and searches). Each variant career has a skills breakdown which are slightly different, plus the usual ranks and benefits, mishaps and events tables.

The next eleven pages help the referee to work out the various types of bounties, bail, debt, thieftaking and property recovery costs. It provides a good structured way of calculating how much a hunter could receive for a job, influenced by various factors. At least this way, you have a consistent approach for costing out jobs. I’m glad to see that the book has taken a look at this as it helps to build the ‘background’ to the careers and the legal basis (if any) for the types of job taken.

To help round off the book, you get four NPC manhunters of the Clement Sector (Seth Grinder looks like someone you definitely wouldn’t mess with!) and some background on a couple organisations.

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for some time and I haven’t been disappointed. Though the book is priced in a slightly higher-price bracket than some other GKG supplements, you get a lot of source material in just under a hundred pages. This is a cracking read and I like that the book doesn’t just cover generating careers, but also the mechanics of bounty hunting and the logistics (who will allow what and where) within the Clement Sector. Another very fine product from the GKG stable and most definitely worth picking up! I would like to thank very much John Watts for sending me a copy of ‘Manhunter’ to review.

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

Clement Sector Bundle of Holding and Can You Survive

It’s nearly May the 4th (…be with you) again and John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games has released a ‘bundle of holding’ containing much Clement Sector goodness for very reasonable prices!

The link for the bundle is here: Clement Sector Bundle of Holding

You can pick up two packages, the first a ‘starter’ set containing the following PDFs for $9.99:

Clement Sector

Clement Sector: The Rules

Rucker-Class Merchant (part 1 review) (part 2 review)

By levelling-up, you can qualify for the second bundle (threshold price $20.24), which contains the following:

Cascadia and Franklin sourcebooks (Cascadia review)

Anderson & Felix Guide to Naval Architecture

The Cascadia Adventures (mentioned)

21 Plots Go Forth (review)

This really is a cracking set of packages and a great way to get started in the Clement Sector!

Ah, but there is more…

Gypsy Knights Games have 30% off their products over on Drivethru RPG. So why not pick up a few extra books at a bargain price?

Can You Survive…

…is the title of last years GenCant free supplement from FFE, where they made light (and took a great opportunity) of the old Classic Traveller adage that its one of the few RPG systems where your character can die in the character generation process.

So at last years GenCon, there were free supplements available for you to try the character generation process and see how you get in. Additional cards were available for a PWYW fee on DriveThru RPG and I was lucky enough (by complete co-incidence) to obtain a free CharGen pack as I’d ordered the Traveller HERO CDROM at the same time the offer was on. This was some time ago and only had the chance during a quiet afternoon last weekend.

The pack included two Traveller dice, a ‘Can You Survive’ introductory rules pamplet and some character sheets to record your characters details. The CharGen process is clearly described – but I did notice a slight difference. Instead of having a fixed value that you need to roll for when enlisting, surviving, getting promoted etc and the same value is used each time you progress through a term of service, you have to pick one of your characteristics (Strength, Dexterity etc) and roll against that value for the period of the term. I can only assume this is a Traveller5 rule, its not something I have seen before as I don’t own Traveller5.

So I followed the instructions and rolled up a character, choosing a Marine career path. I picked a random name (Markeith Elson) from the website Donjon SciFi Random Names Generator, rolled the following numbers and assigned them to these attributes:-

STR 12 DEX 9 END 10 INT 6 EDU 10 SOC 5

Equipped with these stats he started his first term of service. If my character is to survive the CharGen process, it was obviously wise to go in on the highest possible value to roll against for survival, commission and promotion. Picking strength (12), I basically couldn’t fail to complete term 1. This allowed me to pick up 6 skills as he had also successfully rolled for a commission and promotion.

Term 2 started and I picked Endurance (10) this time. Still pretty high so I would be very unlucky to fail to survive the term. Another commission and promotion was gained; I successfully repeated this through terms 3 and 4, as EDU (10) and DEX (9) were still pretty high to roll against.

Term 5 came up and I had to roll against Intelligence which was an average 6… I was starting to get a bit nervous! Though I did survive (rolled a 2), my character failed his commission (rolled a 12) but did get promoted). Unfortunately the final roll to re-enlist resulted in a 10, so I assume he got fed up max’ing out his potential advancement and decided to take his pay and benefits.

The Benefits rolls were pretty lucky as well, one weapon (an Advanced Combat Rifle-10), 60,000Cr in cash, 80,000Cr retirement package, a Knighthood and a medal ‘SEH Starburst for Extreme Heroism’.

Overall it was an enjoyable, quick way of getting some characteristics and numbers-based skills and cash behind my character, so I can see this fitting in with its intended use at a convention very nicely. There isn’t any backstory to roll for (like Cepheus Engine or Mongoose Traveller 1st edition), but then again neither did Classic Traveller – you made it up (and in some ways that was the fun part!) A nice package to receive from FFE with my CDROM order (cheers Marc!) and was a useful dip into an alternative Traveller CharGen process.

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

Uranium Fever Review

Uranium Fever is the latest release from Stellagama Publishing and is available from Drivethru RPG for $5.99. It is available as a PDF and contains 49 pages; the product is partially aimed at Stellagama’s own sci-fi background ‘These Stars Are Ours’, but the content can be used perfectly well in any Cepheus Engine-compatible / 2D6 SF-RPG background or rules.

The book contains a comprehensive set of rules and source material for asteroid mining operations in space, aka ‘belting’. The book is broken down into four main sections:-

Belting in the 23rd Century

The Belters Career

Setting Claims and the Mining Area

Mining Ships and Hardware

Starting with the first few pages (9 pages) ‘Belting in the 23rd Century’ describes the background and history to mining in the 2200’s using the ‘These Stars Are Ours’ setting. This is a very detailed section and was interesting to read, with lots of information about the miners organisations (with some amusing pronunciations, such as ‘GOAT’ and ‘Tickle’) and how many small prospecting operations came into being. There is even a page and a half of mining slang that is used in 2260!

The belters career section (8 pages) follows the first chapter of the Cepheus Engine rules, but expands on the original belter career greatly. However, for completeness so you don’t have to refer back and forth between books, you are given the complete variant career rules. My favourite part are the new material mustering out benefits; three out of four of the potential benefits are some form of spacecraft ownership, being the 10-ton Kobold-class Gig, the 100-ton Bucca-class Prospector or the Coblynau-class subsidised miner. The latter two you receive a partnership, whereas the Gig is complete ownership. The final benefit are ship shares which can go towards the purchase of a ship. The three spacecraft are described in more detail later in the book.

Setting Claims and the Mining Area (13 pages) – starting with ‘Striking the Belt’, describes the actual makeup of asteroids, definitions, sizes and how to make a claim. Its pretty comprehensive stuff, for example the types of find are broken down into the types of yield and the amount in tons. It isn’t simply a job of picking an asteroid and start mining it, there are all sorts of legalities and this section covers this is great detail.

The final section ‘Mining Ships and Hardware’ (13 pages) is probably my overall favourite section of the book. Here you are presented with some variant ship rules with a rather nice table of ‘ship quirks’ that a spacecraft can acquire for every 10 years of service. Helps to give a ship some personality, I feel. There are three fully-described spacecraft, including deck plans and some lovely 3D illustrations by Ian Stead. You start with the TL9 10-ton Kobold-class Gig, next up is the TL11 100-ton Bucca-class Prospector and finally is the TL11 600-ton Coblynau-class Miner. The latter two are essentially ‘canisters’ in which several decks are located. To back up the spacecraft, the following section is ‘Tools of the Trade’; after all a miner isn’t a miner without a pick or in this case, its 23rd century-equivalent, the TL12 Plasma Drill! However most 23rd century mining is done by automated drone, so you get a page of mining drone specifications. To round off the book, what if the miner needs to venture outside? They’re going to need the right Vacc-suit so this section breaks down some specifications of different types.

Reading through the book, I think the authors have covered pretty much everything to do with belting and space-based mining operations. An ideal use for Uranium Fever would be for solo play, as you could quite easily set things up so that you can run some mining operations and trade rules. Add in a table of random encounters, you’ve got yourself an evenings gaming easily sorted. I can’t think of anything that has been missed as the book is very comprehensive without being overly onerous by introducing rules or information for the sake of it. The original Cepheus Engine rules have been enhanced and the right amount of extra information has made the book ‘balanced’ in all the right places. Along with some very high quality editing and some tasty art from Ian Stead (along with some stock art), this makes for a very fine purchase and useful addition to your games. Highly recommended! I would like to thank Omer Golan-Joel for kindly sending me a copy of Uranium Fever to review.

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

Traveller HERO CDROM Review

Before I move onto the Traveller HERO CDROM review, I’d like to mention a few new releases:

Gypsy Knights Games have published ‘Manhunters: Bounty Hunters in Clement Sector’, out now on DTRPG for $9.99.

Stellagama Publishing have released ‘Uranium Fever‘, also available on DTRPG for $5.99.

I’ll be reviewing both products in the very near future!

General Observations:

The Traveller HERO CDROM is available from Far Future Enterprises for $35 and contains a lot of material that hasn’t been available to purchase for a number of years, previously released by Comstar / Avenger Enterprises. Ordering from the FFE website, it was delivered to my UK address in 8 days in a strong jiffy bag. It is presented in a DVD-style case with some gorgeous sleeve artwork by Bryan Gibson.

The CDROM contents can be best compiled into four groups:-

The Core Rules (5 PDFs)

Hero System References (8 PDFs)

The Golden Age Starships (8 PDFs)

The Supplements and Adventures (12 PDFs)

The Core Rulebooks

To kick off the contents of the CDROM, you have five books:

Core HERO1 Adventurers in Charted Space (163 pages)

Core HERO2 Adventure in Charted Space (159 pages)

Core HERO3 Starship Construction in Charted Space (12 pages)

Core HERO4 Starships in Charted Space (22 pages)

Core HERO5 Psionics in Charted Space (11 pages)

To use these rule books, you will need the HERO system rules, fifth edition although there is a supplement supplied elsewhere on the CDROM with advice how to convert to the sixth edition. You also get print versions of the HERO1 and HERO2 books if you want a copy in dead tree format.

The HERO System

I can only make observations about the Traveller HERO system from the perspective that I don’t own the rules set, so my perception of the system comes only from the stats that are provided in the books. Therefore, I’m comparing it – perhaps unfairly, against the Classic Traveller rules set. What I do see from the HERO rules set is that there are a lot more stats needed to describe an individual, creature, object, robot or vehicle. Unfortunately, this puts me off the system because I see things like from book 1, page 135, the description for a ‘Laser Pistol-16’.

LASER PISTOL-16 Effect: RKA 2 ½d6, AP, AF (3 shots), Inv. to Sight Shots: 32 Combat Modifiers: +1 OCV, +2 RMod STR Minimum: 6 Range: 320” Mass: 3 kg CR: 4000 Description: The Laser Pistol-16 is the TL16 version of the laser pistol. [Notes: Experimental Advanced Laser Pistol]

Laser Pistol-16: (Total: 95 Active Cost, 27 Real Cost) RKA 2 ½d6, 32 Charges (+¼), Invisible to Sight Group, Source Only (+¼), Autofire (3 shots; +¼), Armor Piercing (+½) (90 Active Points); OAF Fragile (-1 ¼), STR Minimum 6 (STR Min. Cannot Add/Subtract Damage; -1), Beam (-¼), Real Weapon (-¼), Limited Range (-¼) (Real Cost: 22) plus +2 with any single attack with one specific weapon (Real Cost: 2) plus +2 vs. Range (6 Active Points); OAF (-1) (Real Cost: 3). Total Cost: 27 points.

From what I understand about the HERO system is that everything has a ‘cost’, in points. So I what I started to notice reading through the book is the repeated line ‘Active Cost: <value>, Real Cost <value>’. I must admit I found this to be getting repetitive reading the same thing after several times. This combined with the lengthy descriptions of each ‘thing’, made for some heavy going working through the books.

The HERO system presents a bit of a paradox; the rules set is aimed at creating characters with extraordinary abilities, ie. in the mood of superhero’s. However, the Traveller HERO books are pitched to creating characters that are exactly like you would create in any of the GDW books, ie. ordinary people doing extraordinary things. To me this seems like a terrible contradiction. I’ve never played Superhero games, nor have any desire to play them. I’ve already preferred my characters to be ordinary people who through choice or not, try to do ‘heroic’ things. This contradiction in the Traveller HERO books seems to me to be a fatal flaw.

The books are based in the Traveller OTU, the Third Imperium. However, the books attempt to combine all the timelines from Classic Traveller, Mega Traveller, Traveller the New Era and Traveller: 1248 so that referees and players have a choice of what background and setting they can base their games in.

I must say that the amount of work the writers have done to combine all these settings is immense and they should be applauded for what they have achieved. Generally, through all the books, it makes for a very comprehensive source of background material; for example the combined Imperial timeline from 1105 to 1248 where each GDW / DGP / Comstar / JTAS product is listed with Imperial date.

The rule books are very text heavy and are only spaced with literally, one or two images over the entire edition, with the exception of a few deck plans for commonly-found starships. The layout and quality of writing is exemplary, just be prepared to thoroughly read the books as there is a huge amount of material presented.

Another example is the 63 pages (!) describing all the major and minor races that can be found in or near Imperial space – that makes for about 40% of the first book.

There are a few ‘oddities’; the GM Vault: World Generation system found in book 2, page 147 goes into great detail describing the World Data Format (which from what I can make out is the same or near as dammit as that in CT), but this is only mentioned at the very end, summarised in a three line paragraph, with one example. There is no example hex grid and half a page of blank space which could have been filled. Very strange.

The Golden Age Starships series; there are some inconsistencies with the deck plans, Book 5: Cutters and Shuttles features a couple of module deck plans, but the hex grid used is too prominent and has obscured the deck layout. I think the use of a hex grid instead of a square grid is a poor choice. At the back of each GAS book you get a minimum of a page of adventure seeds, roughly a paragraph per idea, though you get five pages of ideas in GAS7: LSP Modular Starship.

HERO System References

You are supplied with 8 PDFs:

HERO Fifth System Basics (1 page)

HERO Fifth Edition System Reference (1 page)

HERO Fifth Edition System Wikipedia (6 pages)

HERO Sixth Edition Character Conversion Summary (2 pages)

HERO System Basics (1 page)

HERO System Reference (1 page)

HERO System Wikipedia (6 pages)

Introduction to the Traveller HERO CD (1 page)

A few of the pages are more or less adverts for the system, or introductions to the product line. There isn’t enough here to get you started without the full HERO rules set (not included with the CDROM), even though the Wikipedia web prints will give you an idea of some of the rules terminology used in the other books.

The Golden Age Starships

This is an eclectic mix of ships, the smallest being the equivalent of a cargo pod up to (my personal favourite) the 300dTon LSP Modular Starship. The nice touch is that you get both Classic Traveller and HERO rules statistics, so there is a decent collection of craft for those of us that prefer CT.

Each book presents a short history of the ship, plenty of stats and variants and a set of scenario ideas, that range from 1 to 5 pages in total. The deck plans continue to use the hex grid (which I personally dislike), I think it makes the layout messy – but that must be my OCD… Probably the most archaic spacecraft described in the book is the Saturn 1B launch vehicle, dating from 1961 to 1975CE! Illustrations are minimal, except for deck plans for the major vehicles and transports. The GAS are the same as what was available in the Traveller 20 edition.

The list of books includes:

Golden Age Starships 1: Fast Courier (36 pages)

Golden Age Starships 2: Sword Worlds Patrol Cruiser (40 pages)

Golden Age Starships 3: Archaic Small Craft (42 pages)

Golden Age Starships 4: Ships Boats and Pinnaces (42 pages)

Golden Age Starships 5: Cutters and Shuttles (37 pages)

Golden Age Starships 6: Corsair (33 pages)

Golden Age Starships 7: LSP Modular Starship (31 pages)

Golden Age Starships 7: Armed Free Trader (27 pages)

The Supplements and Adventures

For me, along with the Golden Age Starships PDFs, represents the ‘value’ in owning the CDROM. However I was intrigued by the adventures mentioned in the Hero CD-ROM listing, having seen the titles mentioned somewhere many years ago and the publications never being available to purchase.

Sourcebook 1: Grand Fleet HERO (122 pages) details the Imperial Navy; it’s history, structure, personnel, capabilities, tactics, weapons, equipment and its opponents. You also get an appendix describing (in Hero stats) some of the more common types of ship, such as the Broadsword-class Mercenary Cruiser or Fiery-class Close Escort.

The Bowman Arm (27 pages) describes a group of ten worlds named for their locality to Bowman (District 268 / Spinward Marches 1132). It is designed as a lead-in to a line of books, focussing on each of the worlds in the Bowman Arm. However only two separate books were published, which are included in the HERO CDROM, Flexos (21 pages) and Datrillian (17 pages). The actual Bowman Arm also describes another world in the group, Walston. In many ways, these remind me of the Gypsy Knights Games ‘Quick Worlds’ series, with basic world data, environmental description, inhabitants and adventure seeds. The quality of the text is of a very high standard and sets the scene for events after the end of the Fifth Frontier War. However there is one flaw with the Bowman Arm map, which covers four subsectors namely Darrian, Sword Worlds, Five Sisters and District 268. It is of such low resolution that it is virtually unreadable. I’ve taken a look at Traveller Map and produced a snapshot which covers 95% of the same area. If you want to find the same region, the link on Traveller Map is here. I’ve also added a PDF of the image below if you want to download it, along with a Bowman Spinward World Data Sheet from Traveller Map.

Spinward Marches Supplement:Call of the Wild (46 pages) is an adventure set on the Sword Worlds system of Steel, involving a survey mission and a distress call… Both Hero and CT stats are provided.

Spinward Marches Supplement: Range War (57 pages) is also set on Steel and can be used as a follow up to Call of the Wild.

Special Supplement 1: Robots of Charted Space (77 pages) is a Hero edition-specific supplement that describes the various types of robots that can be found in and around the Imperium. You get some suggestions how to use robots in a game, history and manufacturers and the different types and classifications. Thirty-one standard robot types are listed, with full Hero stats.

Special Supplement 2: Robot Adventures (43 pages) is a collection of 22 scenarios with a robotic influence. It can be used with both Hero and CT. Each scenario is presented with players information, referees information and six possible outcome in the style of the CT Supplement 76 Patrons or the Gypsy Knights Games 21 Plots series.

Special Supplement 3: Patron Encounters (33 pages) contains 34 ready-made adventure seeds, again compatible with Hero and CT. it is divided into two predominant sections, starship required and starship not required. All adventure seeds have the same format again as the previous book, with six possible outcomes. The final few pages list some generic patrons and villains, with just Hero stats presented.

Special Supplement 4: One Crowded Hour (46 pages) is a full length adventure which can be used with Hero or CT, containing stats for both. Unfortunately the deck plans for the featured ship, the Duchess Selene, sufferers from the same problem as the Bowman Arm map, in that they are of a low resolution the layout is very difficult to read. The adventure takes place over the course of an hour game time, where the players have to save the ship they are aboard, which is on a collision course with a gas giant planet due to a course malfunction.

Special Supplement 5: Short Adventures (59 pages) is another collection of adventures broken down into five sections: Amber Zones, Mercenary Tickets, Patron Encounters, Linked Adventures and Generic Patrons and Villains. Some of the adventures do have 1D6 possible outcomes, whereas others are simply descriptions of the situation, background and resolution. Only the final section ‘Generic Patrons and Villians’ contains Hero stats, but the rest of the book is compatible with just about any SF RPG.

The final book in the list is TNE Operation Dominoes 1: Moonshadow (64 pages), which is set in the Traveller New Era timeline. It details the world of Tiniyd and presents two adventures where the players are sent to recon and strategic world, ruled by feuding psionic governments. Though there were actually four adventures in the series, only the first one is included in the CDROM which has been altered to include HERO game stats. Oddly enough, though there are no CT stats for the crew roster or some of the NPCs, there are some CT stats listed for some of the minor NPCs. Possibly an oversight in the conversion. The additional books are available as part of the Traveller New Era CDROM 2 from FFE which I took a brief look at back in 2011.

Overall Conclusions

The CDROM itself as supplied by FFE is a decent collection of PDFs with lots of reference and support material, for both Classic traveller and HERO 5th edition rules.

The impression I get from the PDFs themselves is that the quality of the editing and how four Imperial timelines (CT / MT / TNE / 1248) have been brought together is a fantastic piece of work. There is a ton of useful source material and wether you decide to use Hero or CT as your system, you’ll find plenty to help set you up for many gaming sessions. the lack of artwork is a downside (perhaps I’m too used to Gypsy Knights Games or Stellagama products now) and there are a few (previously-mentioned editing quirks) but there is a lot of text for you to read through. Unfortunately the HERO system is not for me, I find it too cumbersome and ‘bulky’ after the lightness and simplicity of Classic Traveller, but I know there are many fans of the HERO system. However I do think the CDROM is well worth purchasing, especially if you are a CT player and are looking for some additional gaming material.

Posted in Classic Traveller, Traveller TNE | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fantasy Traveller Part 14 – Creating Magic Items

Building on the last part looking into using magic items, lets take a look at the process of creating them. Again, magic items are broken down into two halves – ‘complex’ magic items that contain spells or are simply more than enhanced weapons. The second type of item is the ‘simple’ magic item, where the Shaman tries to create an item that has an enhancement, such as a sword +1DM to hit.

Creating Magic Items

This should be pretty high-level stuff I reckon, so its a skill level 3 spell to cast. You need to expend the ‘create’ spell and the same amount of points as you would, for the additional spell that will be ‘added’ into the item. However you can expend multiple points for the added spell, but only one lot of create spell’s points.

For example, Ula wants to create a magic sword that will have three ‘Detect Magic’ spells built into it. This is a skill level -1 spell, costing 1 STR point a shot.

The Create Magic spell costs 3 STR points and 3 END points. Because it is convenient at the time, she decides to cast the Create Magic spell (3+3 points) and add two Detect Magic spells (1+1 STR), so the total number of points expended is 5 STR points and 3 END points. The success roll is made, so there is no waste in points.

However at a later date, she wants to add another Detect Magic spell to the same sword, so this time the points cost is 3 STR + 3 END points for the Create spell, plus 1 for the Detect Magic spell, total this time is 4 STR + 3 END. The sword has the three intended Detect Magic spells and she puts it out for sale at the local bazaar.

So you only have to expend enough points to create the magic item, but in stages and you add to it as you want. That way you don’t have to expend dangerous levels of points in trying to get the item you want to create. This adds to the impression to non-Shamans that magic items take a long time to create and expend a lot of effort.

Spell Description

Create Magic Item

Cost: 3 STR, 3 END plus the same amount of points rated for the spell being added to the item

A spell can be added to an item to make it magical. The creator determines the spell (which also determines the level of the item for detection purposes) and expends the points necessary to add the spell to the item. Multiple additions of the same or different spells can in theory be added to the item.

Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license

Creating Low Level Simple Magic Items

Another new skill level 3 spell, I’m proposing this method so that Shamans can create enhanced weapons. The Shaman casts the spell on the weapon and expends the necessary points. Note I have prefixed the number with a + or – sign, so the Shaman can create ‘negative’ weaponry.

To Hit / Damage Adjustments

+/-1 weapon – double weaponry points plus the casting amount (3 STR, 2 END) = 5 / 3 total

+/-2 weapon – double weaponry points plus the casting amount (3 STR, 2 END) = 7 / 3 total

+/-3 weapon – 6 points plus 3 STR and 3 END = 9 / 3 total

The success / failure roll still has to be made, if it fails then the points are simply expended and lost, with the item gaining no magical ability at that time, though its fine to try again at a later date. How much the Shaman charges for the creation of such items is entirely up to them. The spell description therefore reads:

Create Simple Magic Item

Cost: 3 STR, 2 END plus double the number of points STR to enhance the item

A weapon can be enhanced by expending enough points at the same time as casting the spell. For an item that you wish to increase its to hit or damage DM, then +1 would require an additional 2 STR points plus the cost above, a +2 item would require 4 additional points and a +3 item would require 6 additional STR points. Items above a +3 DM are virtually unheard of.

Now that we have a few extra spells, I’ll update the spell book in my previous article to include these and from part 13.

Posted in Classic Traveller | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Last Titan

Whilst clearing out the garage a while ago (at the same time as coming across my old copy of ‘The Sorcerors Cave’ actually), I found one of my miniatures carefully packed away. Retrieving the box, I managed to grab a few shots before packing it away again as I was short of time clearing all the junk I had found.

I thought I would mention this as this particular miniature is quite significant for me; it was the last ever figure that I converted and painted, around 1992 and represents the pinnacle of the conversion jobs I used to do.

It still has some of the patches of white primer that I applied with the intention of fixing some minor chips and abrasions, but never got round to it. Twenty-five years later, the figure remains locked in time, those Citadel paints having long dried up.

I’ve done a bit of digging on the SOL (Stuff of Legends) which hosts scans of the Citadel catalogues, I recall buying at least two of these Reaver Titans from the Warhammer 40k Epic scale series. From the available parts, I chopped off two arms to get the shoulder mountings and fixed them to the rear of the titan with a mixture of Araldite glue and Milliput, which allowed me to have four hardpoints to attach weapons. Having access to a number of defunct 1/72 scale aircraft models, I ‘borrowed’ an ECM pod and at least an (I think) AIM-120 air-to-air missile. The rest of the scene was constructed from Milliput and various bits and pieces glued together.

I noticed that a missile or two has become detached, which a drop of superglue should sort out. The whole thing was a b*****d to transport to my mates and I think I moved it only once.

With a gap of a few years, I was painting and converting miniatures for nine years in total, I’m glad this has survived largely intact and hope to get a more detailed look at it soon.

Now, how much are Citadel paints again?

…Bloody hell…!

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The Fantasy Traveller Part 13 – Magic Items

For this part of of my ‘The Fantasy Traveller’ series of looking at using the Classic traveller system in a fantasy background, I’m going to take a look at magic items.

Magic items as everyone knows, are an integral part of most fantasy games. They typically offer some sort of enhancement or benefit to the bearer, be it an increase in abilities, a weapon, the ability to heal themselves or another or a way to summon some sort of deity to name a few.

So how do I want this to fit into the Classic Traveller game system? I think I’m going to approach it in this way; there are two types of magic item, simple objects which have a magical ability and shamanic magic items.

Trollcross image used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence

Simple Magic Items

These are items that on the world of Grond, have some sort of magical enhancement that gives the bearer a benefit or bane. For example Thorrin’s mighty axe doubles the amount of damage rolled. As it is a double-bladed broadaxe, normally giving 4D+1 damage, the player rolls 17, thats 34 instant hits.

Or we have Barzil’s magic bow which can be used with a +3 to hit DM and gives a +1 point advantage to damage rolls.

Alternatively the referee can determine that the player thinks they have a positive adjustment to their fighting capabilities, but instead they have a negative effect such as -2 to all damage inflicted on an opponent. By using the CT format weapons charts and picking out what adjustments you want to give (or inflict), its quite easy to make up a magic item. For the world of Grond though, I’m going to keep such simple magic items to pretty low level values, such as +2 to hit or +2 damage as a rough maximum.

Shamanic Magic Items

As mentioned in my previous post of how magic works on the world of Grond, it isn’t an all-encompassing thing that is always there, but instead it fluctuates in strength and intensity. You have to roll for its success and depending on the result, it can have some very negative effects. So how does this help the Shaman? They are the only ones that can wield such magic items; to anyone else a stick is just a stick. To a Shaman, they would see the stick glowing with power and would be hot / cold / tingly to touch.

At the time, the Shaman would know it is magical, but wouldn’t necessarily know how powerful it is. I’m going to add three new spells based on the levels of ability a Shaman has. By casting it they can identify how powerful it is. If a magic item is level 1 and the Shaman successfully casts the spell, they can identify it and know its capabilities. If the item is of a higher level, the Shaman can’t identify anything about the item – it just remains a cloudy, indistinct object that is obviously magical. Higher levels of ability allow the Shaman to identify objects of the same or lower levels.

What the Item can do to Help the Shaman

Once identified successfully, the object can be used only by the Shaman according to what the item is imbued with. For example, it may contain the ‘Bright Light/Make Darkness’ spells that can be used without any points cost to the Shaman. By the same merit that a Barbarian can wield a +2 mighty hammer without knowing anything about magic, the Shaman should be able to use the magic item without prior knowledge of the spell or ability.

A few examples:

Mozzek the Unwise has Shamanic Magic skill -1. He finds a stone that appears to be magical and casts a Identify Magic Item spell on the object. Even though he has made the roll, the stone’s power eludes him so it doesn’t appear to be an item he can wield.

Not giving up, Mozzek decides to take the item to the local village Shaman named Ula (-3 skill) and see if she can see what the item is. After paying his fee, Ula successfully identifies it as an item that requires a -3 skill to wield and contains three Shatter Weapon / Harden Weapon spells. Because Mozzek only has -1 skill, he can’t wield the item – even though he knows what’s in the item. Only when has he reached sufficient skill level will he be able to wield the item.

That’s where I think I will draw the line where a Shaman can use a magic item; it must be ‘rated’ at the same level of skill as the person wielding it, for them to be able to use it. Because Shamanic magic can be more powerful than simple magic items, I think there has to be some sort of restriction.

However to keep the balance, magic items always ‘work’ – where an item contains a spell that would have a positive and negative effect, the item always works as intended. This requires the referee to specify exactly what the magic item can do. For example Mozzek has found a pointy stick (he finds a lot of magic items, old Mozzek does…!) which he has successfully identified as having two Cure Wounds spells, but always work in a negative way – ie. take points away. So Mozzek knows he can use this effectively as a weapon, rather than as something to heal with.

New Spell

Identify Magic Item (same name each skill level)

Cost: 1 STR (level 1), 2 STR (level 2), 3 STR (level 3)

Allows the caster to try and identify a magic item. Casting it at the intended level will reveal only if the item is of the same level, or lower. The caster must specify at what level they intend to cast the spell. Failure results in the item simply not revealing what it is, or implying that it may be of a higher level than what it actually is.

In the next part of this series, I’m going to look at creating magic items.

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