The Brightwater-class Personal Yacht is the latest release from Independence Games. This is a complete starship which includes deck plans and though its background is based in Independence Games’ ‘Earth Sector’ setting, it could be used in most 2D6 SFRPG games and situations.
The book is 25 pages long and is available for purchase from Drivethru RPG or the Independence Games online web store for $5.99 as a PDF or $19.99 as a softcover book including the PDF. The book starts with an overview of the type, physical characteristics and crew makeup. With an in-service date of 2345 it was originally commissioned by a billionaire who was unhappy with the limited number of yacht designs available. The ship is much smaller than most yacht designs with it being in the 100 tonnes size; a key aim of the ships design was to be one of the smallest hulls available that could accommodate the Zimm Drive. The ship is marketed to those in the civilian sector who are looking for a ‘premium’ quality starship and want something a bit more ‘exclusive’. The shape and design of the ship is quite sleek and streamlined and sports a Type A Zimm Drive with a maximum two parsec transit capability, along with two weeks duration worth of fuel. There is one hardpoint for offensive weaponry and a total of six crew with four passengers can be accommodated. It costs a total of 68.9 MCr for a standard design, however a key selling point of the Brightwater-class is the high level of customisation that is available and no one ship is the same. Cargo space though has had to be sacrificed and the original design (produced between the years 2325 and 2345) only had one tonne available. However, the latest version currently in production now has five tonnes available thanks to improvements in the design.
This is quite a short ship book (in comparison to some Independence Games spacecraft titles) but what you get is good quality, with plenty of detail about the ship. There are several deck plans (by Michael Johnson, who is also the author) detailing different areas of the yacht across the two design variants. Of course, there are lots of monochrome and colour illustrations by Ian Stead displaying the ship in various angles and colour schemes. Both variants have complete Clement/Earth Sector game statistics provided which are also compatible with Cepheus Engine, increasing the products usefullness.
The book offers a useful starship which could be used in a number of scenarios, especially as (as described in the ship background) it is targeted at the more expensive market and owners will likely have a great deal of wealth and business interests. This is a another quality release from Independence Games and is well worth picking up. One personal observation is that though the price of the soft cover book could be considered a bit steep at $19.99 for 25 pages, this reflects the recent price increases across the board by Drivethru RPG which IG have little control over. Based on previous releases the softcover printed books are very nice products so if you do decide to buy a copy, it will be a decent purchase. I would like to thank John Watts of Independence Games for kindly sending me a copy to review.
DTRPG Christmas in July Sale
However, if you are looking to pick up some of Independence Games’ products (or anything from Drivethru RPG for that matter of fact), then now is your chance as DTRPG are running their ‘Christmas in July’ sale, with 25% off a range of products. The discount currently applies to all of Independence Games’ releases with exception of the Brightwater-class. The sale is on until Monday the 2nd of August 2021.
New Zozer Games Hostile Scenario
Also worth noting is there is a new ‘Hostile’ free scenario available for download, over on DTRPG; called ‘Psychosis’ this is the fourth in the line of one page scenario / NPC ideas. The background is that the the players have been brought together to investigate a death at a science research station. Soon after there has been another; are they connected and what do the deaths have to do with what the scientists are investigating?
Spacefarers is a set of 25mm miniatures skirmish rules that I recall seeing at my local Games Workshop when I first started visiting in mid-1983. Its a game that I remember seeing on the shelf amongst various other RPG’s and probably picked up, but never actually bought a copy. I was more interested in the actual figures themselves, which I’d spend hours pouring over the Citadel catalogues trying to work out what I could buy with my limited pocket money. Eventually, Spacefarers disappeared from the shelves along with the miniatures, as Games Workshop became a more house-rules-based and Warhammer Fantasy Battle / 40,000 orientated.
However, Spacefarers stuck in my memory and recently I started a search on eBay for a copy of the rules. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait too long and managed to win the auction, purchasing a copy for £18.99 which was in decent condition considering the age.
I have seen more copies recently pop up on eBay, some with ‘buy it now’ prices of between £30-45, so there are still copies still out there in the wild.
The main rules are broken down into the following sections:
Sequence of Play
Weapons and Equipment
Tables of Organisation
Forming a Unit
Appendix 1: Spacefarers Range of Figures
Combatants statistics comprise of four attributes:
Weapons and Equipment
The first 14 pages of the book is made up explanations on how combatants can move and fire at each other in the combat sequence. Vehicles, namely jet bikes (one or two person flying bikes which carry an array of weapons) are integrated into the rules right from the word go and probably reflect the range of miniatures that were available at the time. Hit resolution is through referring to a D20 chart for location, according to armour and weapon type. Depending on the type of hit (dead, serious or light wound, no effect) you refer to a table as to what happened to the target and applicable modifiers. There are a number of modifiers and tables to keep track of and to be honest, because of the amount of text on each page, it looks far more complicated than what it probably really is.
Pages 15 and 16 detail the specialist skills and really should only be used in a limited manner, ie. only particular soldiers should have them, rather than an entire squad. Of course, all the skills are combat orientated in some way or another, such as specialisms in ‘Heavy Weapons’, ‘Force Blade Master’ or ‘Jet Scooter Master’. A percentage value is presented at the end of each description to indicate how much of a chance that a soldier may possess the skill. The only two non-combat related skills listed are ‘Medic’ or ‘Technician’.
The Weapons and Equipment section describes the ‘things that go bang’ with some hand drawn illustrations and descriptions that aren’t too dissimilar to those in the TTG Laserburn rules. Kit such as the ‘Powerglove’ (a powered glove that is designed to crush armour), the ‘Force Knife / Sword’ (a sort of light sabre) or the various types of bolt guns indicate the possible influence that Spacefarers had in Games Workshop and the team of writers that brought Warhammer 40,000 to market a few years later. Vehicles however only go as far as jet cycles in the stats, again reflecting what was available in the miniatures range. Other vehicles only get a quick mention and there are no rules for creating your own. There is also a limited amount of armour, robots and other equipment available in the description.
The next several pages set the historical background linked to who the key protagonists are, namely The Imperial Marines, The Dark Disciples and The Star Patrol. There are some platoon / team structures and background information on who they are, motivations and how they are typically equipped.
There are two scenario’s supplied with the rule book; both use the map supplied of the spaceport on the following page after the descriptions. The first ‘Planetary Assault’ details a Dark Disciple regiment that lands at the spaceport and the Imperial Marines need to sweep the spaceport, clearing the Disciples of the area. The first player to kill or disable six enemies is the winner – so its a pretty simple and straight forward objective. The second scenario is a bit tougher, where the Star Patrol must use only stun or smoke grenades to capture or disable a bunch of pirates who are using the spaceport as a base of operations. The Star Patrol must take the spaceport inside twenty turns to win, otherwise the pirates destroy the evidence and get off with a light punishment.
The rules have some guidance on ‘Forming a Unit’ and building some sort of long-term aims with missions and assignments. A couple of tables are provided to roll for a mission idea, depending on what type group you are (Imperial Marine, Pirate etc) so there are some ideas to be gained but these have no further background, other than the one line description.
Penultimately, the optional rules expand on the basic already provided; suggestions include playing on a hex map to regulate movement, changes to who or what can see each other during combat, applying rules on the amount of ammunition each soldier has and modifications to the existing weapons such as the needle rifles. Detail is also provided on fighting inside buildings, spacecraft and enclosed spaces or harsh environments.
Finally, Appendix 1 lists the Spacefarers range of figures as available at the time. A total of 53 figures are listed, including 48 ‘standard’ sized miniatures and 5 ‘specials’ which were typically larger than the usual 25mm models. The image below is from the 1982 Citadel Miniatures catalogue – however I have noticed that there are a couple of extra miniatures added to the end of this list, that are different to the list published in the rules (S54 and S55).
The book is illustrated throughout with a cover by Tony Yates and interior illustrations by Jim Pitts and Tony Yates. A number of the images formed the basis of many of the miniatures available in the range (you can see some of these via one of the links at the bottom of the page).
From my research, I can’t say I’ve been able to locate any additional supplements or scenario’s published or even fan-written material for the product so I’m not entirely sure how popular the game was. There are some mentions on RPG forums; it seems that the game was played, but not to a huge degree and though people have fond memories of it, it doesn’t seem to have the same amount of continuing support and love that TTG’s Laserburn has had.
I’ve done a bit of digging and found a piece of text from one of the original writers, Nick Henfrey with a reply from Bryan Ansell; if you want to take a look at the original post, it can be found here at boardgamegeek.com.
‘I co-wrote this game!
I’m really gobsmacked that people are talking about it after all this time.
I developed most of the basic mechanics, which came from a background of playing S&T tactical games, and I thought were quite novel at the time. Andy Murdin developed the game from my fairly rough design into quite a nice overall system – I felt at the time – although I can’t remember the details.
I do remember it came about because Dave Morris and I visited Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone at their Ravenscourt Park Games Workshop store (I think they only had the one then) and we were introduced to Bryan Ansell. Bryan ran Citadel miniatures (I think Ian and Steve had just bought it). He had this huge wad of typewritten rules for a game involving figures and Steve and Ian had this wacky idea that they’d sell a lot more figures if there was a set of rules to go with them. Bryan had obviously spent a lot of time on his rules, but I looked through them, and just thought we’d start again with a much simpler, slicker system, figuring that kids wanted something simple – and that was Spacefarers.
I’d love to say that Warhammer 40K was based on Spacefarers, but actually I think it was based on that big wad of rules that Bryan must have produced in the late Seventies! Perhaps Bryan can confirm if he’s still around somewhere?
The huge wad of typewritten rules was Laserburn. Laserburn was influenced by the Mike Blake’s Old West gunfight rules, by Once Upon a Time in the West (which, by strange chance, I illustrated), Heavy Metal Magazine, Tony Yates and Philippe Druillet.
Warhammer is it’s own thing, but was certainly influenced by Laserburn and Rick and Hal’s Imperium. It’s where Space Marines originated though.
I’ve compiled some additional links which you may find interesting if you want to find out more about the history of Spacefarers.
In the past few weeks there have been four new releases from Zozer Games, for their ‘Hostile’ setting. These are only small releases, but of course welcome as they add to the content that is already available. The first is ‘Introduction to Hostile’, which is available from DTRPG for a PWYW (Pay What You Want) fee. I would encourage potential buyers that even though you have the option to download the product for free, if you can afford a couple of quid/bucks to send it Zozer Games’ way as it all helps towards the development of future products.
The book is 31 pages in length and is designed to give potential purchasers of the Hostile core book a ’taste’ of the setting and what you can expect to do in an adventure. The ‘Orientation’ section looks at what careers and jobs players characters will be involved in. It is worth noting that the core Hostile book requires the Cepheus Engine rule set, or the original 2D6 Classic Traveller rules. A proposed Hostile rulebook will soon form a companion product for the current core book with rules tailored for the setting and its assumptions. A brief explanation of task resolution is described along with characteristics and skills, so you have an idea of what a sample character looks like.
The next couple of pages list the current line of Hostile books and supplements. Hostile is set in 2225-50, over a hundred years after another Zozer product, Orbital 2100. All the products listed include active links so that you can open them up in a web browser straight away. It is worth noting that a couple of the products lists do not include active links because they haven’t been released yet; ‘Colony Builder’; create and run colonies within the Hostile setting and ‘Hostile Solo’ which details how to play Hostile alone, running a crew on the frontier. Both are listed for a 2021 release. I also featured a number of Hostile books and supplements which I maintain, in the blog post ‘A Hostile Christmas’.
Pages 11-12 provide a brief overview of the nations and alliances of Earth. Corporations are immensely powerful and chances are you’ll probably be working for one of them in a Hostile game. Space travel involves massive starships if you want to move between solar systems, typically using ships that are over 5,000 tons in size. A couple of pages follow with some adventure seeds, ranging from types of ‘jobs’ that a crew would have to perform, to some of the worlds in the Hostile ‘universe’.
The next three pages provide a short narrative situation with a couple of nice illustrations of a space to surface transport illustrated by Ian Stead. Page 20 delves deeper into the setting itself and the vision of Hostile; this is a grim, dirty and threatening place and being out on the frontier has a good chance of killing you, or worse. You can play a corporation employee, a colonial marine or troubleshooter; the latter being on call by the company to fix a difficult and potentially expensive situation. A complete spacecraft with deck plans is also provided; the Orchid Lifeboat, which looks not unlike a certain shuttle craft from the films Alien / Aliens. Rounding off the book are four pages of ‘advertisements’ with ‘situation reports’ from the setting. If you are thinking of dipping your toe into the Hostile universe, this is a really good introduction as to what sort of games you can play and is certainly worthwhile picking up a copy.
Also just published are three single-page NPC / scenario hooks, available from Drivethru RPG as free downloads. Published under the heading ‘Hostile: Situation Report <number>’, the three titles are:
#001 – Ghost Ship (scenario) – the players have to investigate an unresponsive starship whose orbit is slowly decaying towards the gas giant it is currently orbiting.
#002 – Snakehead (NPC) – a profile of a techno-criminal for the Snakeheads crime syndicate.
#003 – Repellent (Scenario) – the crew is woken from Hypersleep to find they are still in Hyperspace with the ship damaged. They must effect repairs but the question is, what caused the damage…
Its good to see the Hostile range of supplements expanding and the two upcoming releases (for later in 2021) mentioned previously will certainly help to bolster what is already a strong line-up.