Thursday, February 20, 2014

OSR Creature/Encounter Specs

In this post, Wayne Rossi proposes the idea that OSR modules should adopt a relatively standard stat line for creatures, based on a synthesis of the best parts of the existing corpus of adventures. I won't reblog his full proposal, but in essence, he would have creatures (taken from his original post) listed in an encounter as:
Orcs (4) - AC 6, MV 90', Dx 8, HD 1, hp 5,4,3,2, #AT 1, D 1-6, Save F1, ML 8
Black Widow Spider (1) - AC 6, MV 60' (in web 120'), Dx 15, HD 3*, hp 13, #AT 1, D 2-12, SA poison, Save F2, ML 8
This should be pretty self-explanatory and familiar to anyone who has played a pre-3e version of D&D with the exception of Dx (dexterity, useful for breaking ties in initiative, retrofitting "touch AC" or other purposes) and "ML", or Morale Level, which only exists in some variants of OSR D&D. The idea is, throw 2d6 for ML or less to stay in the fight. An ML 7 has an average chance to stick around, whereas an ML 12 will fight to the death.

Wayne also proposes an INT listing, which I wholeheartedly endorse. I'd like to see a switch to modern dice notation also (so 2-12 becomes 2d6, for example), but I digress.

The ML stat gives me an idea for one additional stat that would not be part of the raw creature description, but would be part of the stat block for the encounter:

MO (Motive) - one of "Guard", "Defend", "Explore", "Rest"

Guard - The creature(s) are screening access to some nearby location.
Tactics - Stand and fight. Send one creature to warn the location if the players are winning.
Defend - The creature(s) are inside of a camp of some sort
Tactics - The creatures will not intentionally abandon their camp.
Explore - The creature(s) are investigating the location
Tactics - Fight until 1/2 are wounded or killed, then attempt to disengage
Rest - The creature(s) have set up camp and are unprepared to fight
Tactics - Will count as surprised for 1-3 rounds, then will Defend.

In all motives, a morale failure will result in the creatures fleeing as usual.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Traveller Universal World Profile extensions

I found these thoughts on Traveller world profiles the other day, and thought they might be worth spiffing up and posting. I hope you find them amusing, even if they don't fit into your view of what Traveller worlds can be like.
As a completist, the fact that in Traveller, certain Universal World Profile (UWP) codes do not extend to ‘F’ (15) has always bugged me a little. For some, like Hydrographic Percentage (0-A), it makes sense. But for Population and Government, it seems that there could be a good scifi use for these “extra codes”.


The population digit is the exponent of 10, represented in hexadecimal. For example, with 7 billion people on Earth, our Population would be 9. Soon, we'll hit A.

Population D: Uncountable Population

These worlds are "Hive Worlds" with a large number of (most likely alien) sophonts who are not countable in a practical way, either due to their life cycle or living arrangements. Good examples would be “bugs” or a planet full of the creatures from “Pandorum”. The salient characteristic of Population D is that there are more physical creatures than can practically be counted.

Population D worlds often have Government type F (see below), but could be any government type. The Government would determine the character of the planet; whether it’s one giant mass of seething telepathically linked worms, a dense hive of SmartAnts™, or some other probably unsettling situation.

Population E: Incorporeal population

These worlds are peopled by non-physical or virtual intellects that can have zero or more bodies and thus are not easily accounted for, as they can create and destroy physical forms somewhat at will. The referee should generate a "True population" number that is the number of intelligences if the concept of individuals still applies. Note that the Gov type can be just about anything, and should be generated from the True Population number rather than the E rating.

Scenario Idea: It's possible that the inhabitants of the Pop E world have a way to determine their true population, and could desire to "set the record straight" with the Imperial Survey Department, depending on their cultural leanings.

Population F: Intelligent Ecosystem

Fully symbiotic intelligent ecosystem (ala Chtorr). In effect, the entire ecosystem is the population. May be difficult to communicate with, though often will have a member species that can interface with the outside world. As with a Type E government, the referee should separately determine the size of the "interface" population species, if one exists. Often but not necessarily paired with Gov F. 


The additional forms of governments proposed allow for specifying some common scifi themed cultures. In some cases, (as with the existing Balkanization government type) the Referee may need additional notes to fully detail the situation.

Government E: Trans-physical Ascendancy

All citizens live in a virtual environment or separate plane of existence, subject to the whim of who or whatever controls the environment. This situation implies either current or past High Tech ability (The Matrix) or some form of Psionic environment (like Avatar but more so, or Stargate "Ascended"). It’s possible that the inhabitants’ physical forms are still maintained in some way (as in The Matrix).

Scenario Note: It is likely that Travellers will only interact with whatever watchdog systems have been left to guard the planet from outsiders unless they can “get in” somehow. And once in, it may prove difficult to get back out.

Government F: Hive/Communal Mind 

All "citizens" share a common will and memory. The hive will either Ignore, Attack or Assimilate outsiders as determined by the Referee. Examples range from Starship Trooper “Bugs” to Star Trek’s Borg. The Referee should determine how many such hives exist on the planet, and if more than one, what “government” they operate under (roll from the number of hive minds, not population). Government F does not require any particular population codes, though the examples found in fiction often match up well with D or F.

Note: Law Level on these worlds represents how aware the commune/hive is of outsiders. An example might be the early Borg episodes of Star Trek™, The Next Generation™ - humans could move about inside their cube ships unmolested for the most part.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Bunch of New Classic Traveller Characters

I found a notebook with some more Classic Traveller characters I had generated, so I decided to share them. Not that it's hard to generate characters in CT (in fact, it's a fun minigame), but I figure that maybe someone might want some NPCs to play around with.

They're in Courier font because it fits with the 70's and early 80's aesthetic of the game, and I used a slightly modified "index card" format, as you might see in The Traveller Book. Also, I bought some gear for some of these guys - their Credits and Possessions have been updated accordingly.

If nothing else, maybe I'll inspire someone to dig out Classic Traveller and play some. It seems unlikely that I'll get to play any CT anytime soon. (Yeah, I know, so sad. For a guy currently in two different D&D-flavored campaigns, I sure do whine a lot.)

Army Lt.                 59A6B6                  Age 22
1 Term                                           Cr19,150
Medical-1, Electronics-1, ATV-1, Blade Cbt-1, Rifle-1, SMG-1
  Cloth Armor, SMG
  Slight, but athletic
  Has advantageous DEX for all trained weapons

Merchant 4th Officer     785767                  Age 26
2 Terms                                          Cr39,150
Vacc Suit-1, Electronics-1, Steward-1
  Blade, Autopistol, Cloth Armor

Scout Explorer           7B986A                  Age 30
3 Terms                                          Cr49,400
Mechanical-2, Gunnery-1, Navigation-1, Pilot-1,
Air/Raft-1, JoT
  Autopistol, Cloth Armor, Scout/Courier

Marine Captain Knight    98995B                  Age 26
2 Terms                                          Cr7,000
Cutlass-2, Revolver-1, Rifle-1, ATV-1, Electronics-1

Merchant 3rd Officer     B77CD7                  Age 34
4 Terms                                          Cr60,000
Engineer-3, Streetwise-3, Bribery-1, G-Vehicle-1
  Hypercompetent Engineer.
  Often gets deals on his own parts

Navy Lt. Cmdr Knight     67696B                  Age 30
3 Terms                                          Cr60,000
Gunner-2, Vacc Suit-1, JoT-1
  TAS, Low Passage
  Gunnery Section leader
  Moves in High Society, recently knighted
  Very "By the Book" in approach

Scout X-Boat/Courier     6797A7                  Age 30
3 Terms                                          Cr50,000
Pilot-1, Navigation-1, Engineering-1, Computer-1,
Air/Raft-1, JoT
  Gained EDU while in jumpspace on the X-boat line

Army Captain             98B4A7                  Age 26
Terms 2                                          Cr40,000
Admin-2, Tactics-2, Gambling-2, SMG-2, Rifle-1

Army Colonel             77A894                  Age 38
Terms 5                                          Cr25,000
Rifle-2, SMG-2, Tactics-2, Leader-1, Computer-1,
Fwd Obs-1, ATV-2, Brawl-1
  Pension/4kCr, High Passage, SMG

Merchant Captain         5B7CA9                  Age 42
Terms 6                                          Cr22,000
Streetwise-3, Steward-2, Electronics-2, Navigation-1,
Bribery-1, Pilot-1, JoT
  Blade, Gun, Free Trader

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Some Housecleaning

In the effort to make this blog a little less horrible to read, I'm trying out some templates and such. One blog had this neat thing where there were pictures of the games the blogger was playing in with the "links list", but I can't work out how to do that with the standard gadgets.

At any rate, bear with me while I experiment. It will probably take a few days to settle down, and any advice from people less "aesthetically challenged" than I am would be welcome.