Hell’s Paradise Second Edition Review

There is quite a bit being released right at the moment from the Stellagama Publishing and Gypsy Knights Games gaming stables; The former has just published on DTRPG ‘Piracy and Privateering’, a supplement for the Cepheus Engine rules set. I’m looking forward to reviewing this, it will be interesting to see Stellagama’s take is on the subject of space piracy when compared to GKG’s ‘Skull and Crossbones – Piracy in the Clement Sector’ which I reviewed back in 2016.

Also just about to be published by GKG is their new set of rules ‘Action Movie Physics’, a completely new RPG which will be out on Friday. This looks really interesting; from what I have seen it mixes a bit of Cepheus Engine with some D100 and knowing GKG, it will be a very high quality product. It allows players to role-play as though they are movie characters and the stunts that they can achieve, which of course would be impossible in real life. I’ve never liked ‘superhero’-style RPGs (such as GW’s ‘Golden Heroes’), but this looks like good fun. I shall be taking a look at AMP very soon!

Finally, also coming from Stellagama Publishing at Halloween is ‘Cepheus Light’; 2D6 old-school rules-light SFRPG gaming. So there is plenty to read in the coming weeks – just in time for Christmas!

With Halloween rapidly approaching (and if you’re British like me, you’ll be doing your best to avoid the trick-or-treaters at all costs, usually by hiding underneath the window with the light off in the house for a few hours. However, you could always play ‘Hell’s Paradise’ by Gypsy Knights Games, a scenario set in the Clement Sector written by George Ebersole. Hell’s Paradise was originally published back in 2013 and I reviewed it as part of a GKG mega-review. This is a play-test proven adventure and has been used at quite a few conventions in the past few years, so its pretty solid in that respect.

It has been updated and made compatible with the Cepheus Engine rules set (CE), whereas the original was based on the Mongoose Traveller first edition rules (MGT1e). For those that aren’t familiar with GKG’s Hell’s Paradise, here is a quick plot synopsis: the players are members of the Cascadia Colonisation Authority operating the starship ‘CCAS Clara Barton’. Its primary duty is to provide aid for other CCA vessels if they run into trouble, whilst performing other missions on the frontier of the Clement Sector. The nine crew operates a Trailblazer-class scout and whilst based at Argos Prime, they are approached by an organisation who require assistance to be provided for a ship that has failed to arrive. I’m going to leave the plot description there for fear of giving too much away!

So what are the differences between the original MGT1e edition and CE version; I’ll try and do a side-by-side comparison without revealing anything about the plot. The CE version has one more page that the MGT1e (at 47 pages in total), but I think this due to minor changes in editing. The cover benefits from a new illustration by Bradley Warnes and working through the book, the first major difference is the change in the deck plans for the Trailblazer-class scout. The CE version on the lower deck holds a lot more more fuel and the layout is quite different to the MGT1e ship. Unfortunately the deck plans in the more recent version are a bit more difficult to read as the symbol key and main location lettering is in a smaller font than the original, making it a bit harder to read on (at least on my 9.7inch iPad) screen. This must be because of the change in the ships layout as the Atlas-class freighter described later in the book, is exactly the same in both editions and can be easily read. However this shouldn’t present any problems if the Trailblazer plans are printed out.

Next major difference is in the pre-generated characters pages; the MGT1e version is a quite straightforward stats / description with one pre-gen per page. The CE version has all the text re-laid out and new graphics (by Bradley Warnes) to illustrate what the character looks like.

The planetary system details and most of the illustrations are the same in both editions (the system map has been updated), except for a new additional mountain scene (also by Bradley) which helps to break up the white space. Stats for NPCs have been changed to reflect that this is Cepheus Engine compatible. The remainder of the book is pretty much the same, aside from a change in font which makes the layout look slightly different.

Overall the layout and additional graphics are the most significant changes and if you originally bought the first edition, then GKG will have sent you the updated edition for free via the DTRPG library (which is pretty good, I think!)

Hell’s Paradise hasn’t lost any of its ‘unsettling’ undertone and the second edition feels like a more polished product. If you don’t already have it, you can pick it up from DTPRG for a discounted price of $4.82 (instead of $6.99) between now and October the 31st.

Hell’s Paradise is definitely worth checking out if you want to give your players a bit of a fright in the run up to Halloween! Thanks go to John Watts of Gypsy Knights Games for sending me a copy to review.

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Cauldrons and Casseroles Review

After a few extremely busy weeks at work and home, it feels good to be on a short break away in the English Lake District. Besides stocking up on my favourite ale at the Watermill Inn (located just outside Bowness-on-Windermere), I’m going to catch up on some of my review pile that I’ve been wanting to read through. The first is one released by Stellagama Publishing; ‘Cauldrons and Casseroles’ is one of the more ‘unusual’ RPG-related products I’ve been asked to review, but one I’m more than happy to look at. C&C (as I shall refer to it from now on) is a cookbook / book of recipes that is aimed at the role-player / RPG gamer. Written by Hannah Saunders, it is available from Drivethru RPG, for $8.99 and totals 97 pages as a watermarked PDF.

So what makes it stand out from every other recipe book on the market? The author has broken the book up into several sections and interspersed a storyline (based around a party journeying on their adventure) which helps to bring a running ‘theme’ to the meals presented. There is quite a variety of things to tuck into; Bread and Sandwiches, Burgers Skewers and Sausages, Dips, Drinks, Fish, Pies, Poultry, Snacks and Sweets, Soups, Tarts, Tortillas, Vegetables and other dishes that don’t quite fit into any other category.

Each recipe is described with the number of servings, ‘Kitchen Sorcery Level’ ie. the level of difficulty in preparation, ingredients and method of preparation. The levels cover ‘1’ (a child could prepare it), ‘2’ (any adult) and ‘3’ (takes a bit more skill or effort, so have your familiar handy). To cover all preferences, measurements are provided in both metric and imperial systems. The various meals are pitched as a tasty alternative to the usual gaming staples, such as savoury snacks, pizza or biscuits (hob nobs? I’m looking at you The Grognard Files!) The author has made a good job of fitting in a running storyline to go with the meals, for example Elven-related meals are generally vegetarian or the Dwarven meals have plenty of meat. I did like the variety; they are meals that don’t require a huge amount of preparation or ingredients. I think the author has made reasonable choices with the ingredients in that you wouldn’t have to specifically buy in and use only once (such as bizarre or obscure spices), so it isn’t going to cost you a packet to feed your gaming group.

The recipes are well-laid out and the writing was easy-going, with a few illustrations and photographs of the dishes by the author (who also did the colourful cover) to help break up the text. I should mention that the book is predominantly aimed at meat-eaters or vegetarians, there is no mention of vegan options so I can’t recommend this book if that is your preference. Those with food intolerances will be able to pick out recipes suitable for them as there is a detailed list of ingredients for each meal. The contents page contains clickable links to the recipe page and there is a useful index listing each dish by type (eg. fish, pies, soups etc) though these lists aren’t hyperlinked.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about reviewing a recipe book, but by the time I finished reading, I was hungry! Its a good job I had something to nibble on whilst I read the book as there are a lot of really tasty-sounding dishes. For example the ‘Halfling-style Second Breakfast’ which is more or less an English-style breakfast sandwich (comprising of eggs, bacon, mushrooms, roasted potato slices), pub-style beef burgers or leek and potato soup – nice, homely grub, ideal for a winters night gaming! I think that’s what made me like the book; food inspires feelings and any book that can inspire or enhance an evening’s gaming gets my vote. If you are looking for something a bit different to help your players enjoy your game (or pacify them with a few Dwarven Dogs (sausage rolls wrapped in bacon – yum!) whilst you slaughter them mercilessly, I recommend that you grab a copy of ‘Cauldrons and Casseroles’. Personally I think I shall definitely be trying more than a few recipes out once my kitchen is refurbished in November! I’d like to thank Omer Golan-Joel of Stellagama Publishing for kindly sending me a copy to review.

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Dragonmeet Birmingham 1980s Flyer

From the last of the flyers that I recovered in a recent sort-out (along with the Games Day and Golden Demon Award), I have a Dragonmeet Flyer from one of the events held in Birmingham in the mid-1980’s. I have a little doubt as to what date that the event was held however; I’ve tried cross-referencing it against old White Dwarf magazine advertisements but I can’t find a date match. Best I can recall is I think it was either 1985, ‘86 or ‘87, probably the middle year and that it was the first Dragonmeet being held in Birmingham.

I think this might be the right advert for it, from White Dwarf:

I’ve at least found the location, the New Imperial Hotel in Temple Street. This is what it looks like now;

I recall waiting at the head of the queue (my cousin Carl and myself got there *really* early!) just inside the doorway. Once we got in, I remember it was a bit of a crush getting around as the various stands and exhibitions were scattered around the hotel. One live event that was taking place was of a Battletech demonstration; the gaming board was laid out with several players sat around the table. Me, being a cheeky sod sarcastically said (forever to my shame) ‘Oh look, Transformers!’ Apparently though I didn’t notice at the time, Carl later said that the player that I was stood over turned around and gave me (a well-deserved) filty look! Not many years later, this sarcastic little sod would play Mechwarrior on the PC *to death*.

There were a number of stands, I picked up a pile of figures from the Citadel stand, I recall visiting the Mythlore stand and picking up a leaflet about their LARP stuff and having a good look at some of the fantastic Tony Ackland artwork he’d brought along. The weapons and armour brought along from the Sealed Knot re-enactment society was pretty impressive; plenty of suits of armour and weapons on display. Some of the staff from the Games Workshop store in Birmingham were there helping out as well. We didn’t stay a huge amount of time, by late morning we’d done all the stands and seen all that we’d want to see so headed over to Games Workshop back in the Birmingham Shopping Centre (as it was known) to see what else we could spend some cash on.

The enduring memory I have of the day is of a crush getting around the rooms to see everything that was going on; it was great to see an event such as Dragonmeet come to Birmingham; I wonder if anyone else went to the same event?

The flyer is in a bit of an odd size, sorry for the rubbish scan but it was the best way to get all the pages in the PDF at the time. It can be downloaded from here: dragonmeet_programme.

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Spacecraft Design Guide Review

The ‘Spacecraft Design Guide’ is available from Drivethru RPG for $13.07 and is published by Moon Toad Publishing, written by Michael Johnson with artwork by Ian Stead. It is a Cepheus Engine-compatible product which can also be purchased in a print version for $20.26.

The book is pitched as an extension to the original Cepheus Engine spacecraft design rules; its quite a meaty book containing 154 pages. My initial thought was that this could be compared to the original Classic Traveller rules book 2: Starships and book 5: High Guard in the way as a supplement, it extends the spacecraft design rules which includes massive (1 million ton) capital ships.

After the extensive contents section (pages 2 to 14) and introduction (page 15), the book starts with the design process. These two pages belies the extensive contents of the book, which is broken down into six distinct steps.

1. The hull – the foundation of the vehicle (spacecraft or small craft)

2. The engineering section – power plant, jump drive, manoeuvre drive, fuel requirements

3. The main compartment – bridge, staterooms, functional equipment such as a computer, docking clamps

4. Armament – hard points for offensive weaponry and defensive capabilities

5. Small craft, vehicles, drones and cargo holds – any small ships that can be carried.

6. Crew – minimum required to operate the ship and passenger capacity.

The first major section is ‘Spacecraft Design’ starting on page 18. You get a description of what a spacecraft actually is (verses a small craft), standard designs, construction times – basically what is involved in actually building a starship at a shipyard. You then start with actually building your own, beginning with the hull. Spacecraft start with a minimum of 100 dTons – there are two tables listing various sizes from 100 dTons all the way up to 1,000,000 dTons (!) The following pages take you through what makes up the hull – structure and armour.

The second section – ‘engineering’ dives into what powers a spacecraft; jump drives, manoeuvre drives and power plants. There is one table in particular that I liked ‘Military Grade Drives’. If you can buy them, you can obtain these military-specification drives which are more resistant to damage and are able to rapid cycle.

I found the addition of ‘lower technology drives’, namely reaction drives and solar sails really interesting and nice to see alternative methods of propulsion included. Many books will cover drives around TL9 and upwards, but hardly a passing mention is made to lower technology drives. In an interstellar society, surely you would see makes and ages of all types of spacecraft which would include pre-jump drive technology? This is quite an extensive section and there are plenty of variations and types of drive and power plant available to consider.

Next is the main compartment; the bridge, controls and computers. In addition to small spacecraft, you also have information for capital computers. Accommodation is a vital part of any spacecraft; what I found interesting was the inclusion of ‘third class’; basically steerage class where passengers travel in a converted cargo hold. The cheapest way to travel, many worlds consider this to be illegal, but it doesn’t stop it happening. I’ve found many build processes for spacecraft seem to repeat many of the same things and don’t go into that much detail in including some of the more interesting and useful internal components that can be found on a ship. For example an office; seems like an obvious idea, but on a number of spacecraft unless you go to the bridge, don’t have somewhere for you to sit down and work at a computer terminal. Swimming pool and spa? Certainly sir, that will cost you 0.5MCr per ton per user; a luxury item, but something that you could build into your luxury liner, besides the usual accommodation for high passage. Another (seems like it now) obvious item but inherently useful is a UNREP (Underway Replenishment) system; basically it provides the same method to replenish a ship as a sea-going naval ship does today by using a transfer tube and running parallel to the ship which requires replenishment, the supply ship can transfer cargo and materials.

Part 4 introduces armament; types of mounting, weaponry (nice to see Mining Lasers included, my favourite weapon to use in the original computer game ‘Elite’ on the ZX Spectrum. You can kill a Thargoid in six shots with one of those!) There is quite a bit if kit listed; Smart missiles, nukes, sonic electronic ball breakers… sorry, got a bit carried away there, the last one isn’t listed! Its not just offensive weapons listed, but defensive measures are included as well, such as variations of defensive shields, for example as seen in many science-fiction settings such as ‘Star Trek’ or the ‘Terran Trade Authority Handbooks’. In the latter the Terrans traded the technology with the Alphans in exchange for anti-gravity, changing the design of spacecraft overnight.

Part 5 (Small Craft, Vehicles, Drones and Cargo Holds) describes a number of drones, probes, pods and capsules that you can build into your craft. Again, the level of detail describing the fittings and delivery systems really helps this book stand out for me.

The sixth part in the design sequence is the ships crew. There are some very useful recommendations listed which guide you on the number of crew required (or usually found) depending on what type of ship you are designing (eg. civilian or naval craft).

That rounds off the design sequence steps for a spacecraft, from page 88 onwards you are presented with a number of important ship functions and essentials, starting with ship software. Not just programs to load in the same way as in Classic traveller, but you can have ‘Avatar Interfaces’ which require a fairly sophisticated computer setup, including holographic controls and AI software. Running a ship involves cost obviously, so you are given some useful tables and descriptions on the types on monthly costs, crew salaries, repayment methods (no use taking out those short-term loans!) Fancy a new paint job? 0.1MCr per ton of hull on the exterior. Its something that is usually glossed over, so nice to see this level of thought going into the book. The spacecraft section rounds off with information about refits, refurbishment of a ship, technology adjustments, naval capital ship crews, capital ship section hit tables and a round-off page for the free trader design example.

Page 102 goes into the small craft design sequence; I found this particularly helpful as I’d run through the original CE rulebook but found there were some elements of doubt with a few of the engine and hull sizes, when I tried to build a small craft. A similar design process as the spacecraft section is presented, with component and element adjustments to suit the small craft (10-99 dTons).

Pages 121 to 137 provide additional rules to help address the greater firepower and bigger sizes of the vessels involved. Barrage damage tables – a 50 dice barrage from a capital ship? You really don’t want to take on one of these ships with a small shuttle and pea shooter of a beam laser…

Another interesting set of additional rules is ‘Orders’ where a captain of a spacecraft can issue one or more orders to their crew for each turn. Each order issued reduces the number of reactions by the amount determined by each order which in turn reduces the number of reactions the ship will be able to take.

The book rounds off with a few sample spacecraft of varying sizes and tech level.

As you work your way through the book, there is a running example of a build of a spacecraft that as each chapter is described, more is added onto the vehicle. In addition, there are plenty of examples which help to explain the many calculations (which aren’t that complicated) but I always find these useful in understanding a rule. The author has gone to a lot of trouble and consider a huge amount of components that could go into a spacecraft and extend the base Cepheus Engine rules. Its not just a list of tables and steps to follow, there are plenty of descriptions and examples of the calculations needed which help you to build your ship.

The book is presented with the same font and layout as the Cepheus Engine rules; if I had a criticism of the book it would be nice to have seen some spacecraft artwork to help break up the text. As such, you have a really tasty colour cover by Ian Stead of a delta-shaped capital ship, but unfortunately no other pieces in the book. I guess this may have been a layout decision to keep with the style of the original CE rulebook, bit of a shame that some additional designs by Ian couldn’t have been included.

That said, I really like and enjoyed reading this book; its clear, concise and extends the original CE rules by a substantial margin and comprehensively bolsters the number of choices you have to build you spacecraft, right from 10 dTon shuttles to 1 million dTon behemoth capital ships that can smash battle fleets. Having a good range of technology to choose from, from different tech levels increases the usefulness of the book by not just limiting it to a specific timeline. I can highly recommend this book; it is a very useful tool to have for your 2D6 SFRPG games, no matter what your setting. I’m sure you’ll find some inspiration to help enhance your games. I would like to thank Ian Stead of Moon Toad Publishing for very kindly offering a copy for me to review.

Posted in Cepheus Engine, Classic Traveller, Clement Sector, Mongoose Traveller, OGL | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

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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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!

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