Monday, June 13, 2016

Majestic Stars Update

Back in the early 90's I would hand out updates before each session. Updates were one page documents covering various aspect of the Majestic Wilderlands. They were meant as easily digestible chunks of the back story of the setting. Some were pretty broad while other were specific.

So I am going to revive the tradition for the Majestic Stars.

Majestic Stars Update #1

What year it is?
The year is 2425.

Where is the campaign located at?
The Artemis Space Station located in the HiP 38392 system. The main star classification is G7V, slightly cooler than Earth’ Sun which is G2V.

What is the Artemis Station?
It is a commercial station built by the Selene Republic with aid from all of the major powers to handle trade and culture exchange with the Saurian Commonwealth. It is in the L5 point between the planet Selene and its Sun. There is small but rich asteroid field at the L5 point that is known as the Outback. It is actively mined by Belters to provide the station with resources.

The station can support a permanent population of up to 35,000 sentient beings. There are currently 30,000 humans, 2,000 Saurians, and 1,000 Kang’rits resident on the station. The station has been in operation for two years.

Who runs the Station?
The Astroguard handles the day to day administration of the station. The Selene Republic supplies magistrates and ombudsmen to handle judicial affairs. Overall station policy and contact with the Saurian Commonwealth is handled by a United Colony advisory council with representatives from all the major human powers and headed by a governor appointed by the Selene Republic.

The current governor is Rosette Alcantar who works with the Station’s commander, Captain Anton Pikova of the Astroguard.

What is the Outback?
It is a small asteroid field circling the L5 point between Selene and its sun. It is home to one thousand belters mining volatiles and metals for processing at the station. The main station is buried in the asteroid Perth with 200 permanent residents and up to 300 transits at any one time.

What are the United Colonies?
The United Colonies are a loose association of major and minor powers. It is similar to the 20th/21st century United Nations however it is more focused on managing certain interstellar organizations than being a diplomatic forum.

The two most important organizations it manages are the Astroguard and the Interstellar Astronomical Union (IAU). The Astroguard are a multi-national military dedicated to exploration, search & rescue, and anti-piracy patrols. They function as an interstellar Coast Guard. The Interstellar Astronomical Union registers space claims and acts as investigation agency of human right abuses.

Who are the major powers?
They are the Earth Union, the United States centered on Alpha Centauri. The United Kingdom, the French Union, and the German Federation centered on Epsilon Eridani. And the People’s Republic of the Chinese centered on Epsilon Indi.

There are numerous smaller independent powers as result of the human diaspora. It is not uncommon for worlds and star systems to be divided into multiple independent nations, colonies, etc.

Who are the Saurians?
The Saurians are not the ancient race sentient dinosaurs but more recently evolved. First contact was 50 years ago and it was with a group of Saurians calling themselves the Commonwealth. It appears that the dominant Saurian culture is a single empire ruled by an immortal emperor. The Commonwealth are comprised of dissidents and refugees who have fled beyond the borders of imperial space. The Saurians appears to be a century ahead of humanity in technology.

Current News, January 3rd 2425

The Barron Consulate has petitioned the United Colonies for a seat on the Artemis Station’s advisory council.

Ellena Bucanan dies in from an illegal firework display occurring during the New Year Festival held by the Mesic Dockworkers Coop.

Protein output triples in 2424 over 2423. Agriculture Commissioner Arios Koviria is to receive this year’s Disheva Award of Excellence.

Newton Kader is to be sentenced next Friday, the 10th, after being found guilty of embezzling funds from the Four Stars Credit Union.

Arguments continues after last week’s heated exchange at the Station Round Table over the rising transport fees to the Outback and Selene.

New stationwide update to fabricators is being posted on the 4th to censor the manufacture of Strokon and Waxet, two drugs that were found to be highly addictive to Saurians.

The Station Maintenance schedule has been posted. Click to find scheduled shutdowns and service reductions.

Diturisaurs were found to be the cause of the power outage on Level 4’s Block E-4. Residents are advised to call 811 to report any sightings.

On Monday the 6th, the Commonwealth-Selene Cultural Exchange will make the works of K’Sudai, A’Morko, and K’Tipa available on the Omninet. The three are noted historical fiction authors in Saurian literature. February’s drop will be focused on the romance genre.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Majestic Stars Session 1

The quote of the evening
Who was your boss?
The husband of the women I slept with.
Was your boss the Iguana guy?
No I don't sleep with Iguanas.
I am not judging.
We had our first session of the Majestic Stars campaign. I am using a modified Fantasy AGE ruleset. There are no classes just a single level progression chart. Everybody starts off with 10 points to spend on attributes. The attributes are Charisma, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Perception, Psi, Strength, and Willpower.

Instead of focuses we have skills. If you don't have the skill, you can use it but you are at -2 on the roll. One point will get it at +0, another at +1,  and so on. Every character starts with 3 points to spend on skills.

The races are Belter, Human, Kang'rits, and Saurian. Each character picks a race and gets two rolls on the benefit table for that race.

The talents are pretty the same but been reworked to reflect the science fiction genre of the campaign. There is now a pistol and rifleman style. As there are no classes the prerequisites have been adjusted so that you have to focus on the same attributes as you had too when there was classes. During character generation you get 3 points to spend on talents or skills.

I created a system of Psionics that I will present in a later post. It has five areas; Augment, Control, Empathy, Healing, and Telepathy. Each has four specific discipline that are learned the same way talents are.

January 5th 2425
The Crew
Luc Fer - a man with connection who has arrived on the Artemis Station to make his own mark. He also a psionic.
Carl LeRoche - a belter and a corrupt cop working as station security. 
Mikael Sharp - a human medic yearning for adventure.

Luc Fer has one last job to do, to hand deliver a data wafer that is the one half of a one use code pad. Each time a message is exchange the encryption key is discarded and the next one is used. Both data wafers have to be synced so they both start at the same key. It is one the few pieces of data in the 25th century that is moved by hand.

Luc Fer was met at the gate by Carl LeRoche. LeRoche was given an off the book job by his boss to escort Luc Fer to his contact, Thaddeus Vanlith. While heading to the lifts, LeRoche was accosted by a drunk Astroguard medic who want to use the security as a demonstration of the effect of living in low gravity. LeRoche was having none of it and hit him once with the stunstick and left him quivering on the ground.

When they arrived at Vanlith's office to deliver the wafer a thug stepped out with a shotgun. Both Luc Fur and LeRoche won initiative. The ensuing fight was short and brutal between Luc Fer psionic and LeRoche's aim. 

Inside they found Thaddeus Vanlith battered and beaten. LeRoche calls his boss who dispatches medical assistance. Luc Fer decides his job is done, drops the data wafer, and leaves.

Mikael Sharp arrives and starts stabilizing the surviving thugs. LeRoches is looking through Vanlith's files and find that he was working on a deal to trade a lot of colony supplies and 100,000 credits (a hefty sum) in exchange for genetic information. Mikael happens to see the genetic reports and manages to download a copy for himself. He explains that the genetic information is about the NPTN gene which is the primary gene that controls psionic ability in humans. Only that this gene is definitely non-human. Also found was a calling card for C'Treni a Saurian visiting the station on a six month cultural exchange.

The everybody splits, Luc Fer secures an apartment, LeRoches reports back at the office working on the paperwork and also planning what to do next with the information. Mikael gets everybody to the trauma center and does some research and finds out where C'Treni has been staying. Also fine some files that are meant to be turned over to Luc Fer.

Sharp goes the police station and meets up with LeRoche, together they decide to find Luc Fer at his new apartment. After talking about what been found  they all decided to head back to the apartment to look at what else they can find.

And that where the session ended with 300 xp awarded.

The Good
Well I am finally managing to run a campaign with my own original science fiction setting that I have been working on forever. It started with me using the Universe RPG map and plotting out a future history. Universe didn't have a firm background and I decided to make one. Later I used the stellar data from 2300AD (which went out to 60 light years vs. 30 light years of Universe) to expand my work. However compared to Traveller, Babylon 5, and Star Trek, I never got a sense of what I was going to do with the setting.

I felt in all but one important aspect my Fantasy Age science fiction adaption worked rather well. There are some gaps and weak points, but I can smooth them out with enough actual play. The combat wasn't as DnDish as I thought it would be. 

The OK
Well I got the party together in a semi-plausible way, but it was weak really weak. Next time I will have everybody work together to come up with the reason of why they are a time.

The Bad
The first level ability of Control is a +2 bonus to Charisma skills for the next ten minutes. That is probably a bit weak compared to the other psi abilities. I will probably change it to a one sentence command that takes place if the target fails a willpower test. I will need to get some feedback on this.

For all the work I put into everything, the players didn't get a good feel of the setting. One thing that was a bit "out there" is the fact that advances in fabrication technology has made many material goods effectively free. However, the good stuff still costs money. Anything involving any type of service still costs money. And that didn't come across well. So the players were wondering why people did anything at all?

The above was directly related to me running out of time to make all the things I normally do for the Majestic Wilderlands. One of which is a half to one page briefing on various bits of setting information.

The Future
Next time I should have more background info prepared and with the latest fixes for the rules. I am still weak on equipment and working on coming up with items. The big challenge here is that I am doing essentially an urban campaign, in a brand new setting, using the science fiction genre which I don't often run.

The Artemis Station coming together

I got a skeleton of the initial adventure fleshed out for my new campaign Majestic Stars campaign.

I also added some more details to the Artemis Station which is the setting of the campaign. First the overview schematic.

And now the maps of the individual levels.

I am sure some of you will look at the production rings (along with the free space in the garden) and it looks like they are undersized for a station with a population of 35,000 sentients.

One aspect of the technology of the Majestic Stars is the existence of 3D Fabricators several generations beyond what we have now. One kind of fabricator is called the Food Fab. It takes two cartridges, a CHON pack which consist of Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen to provide the basic raw material for fabricating food. Then there is the M-Pack or mineral pack. Which provides the trace element needed for health and flavoring. The belters of the Artemis local solar system  supply the CHON, however the M-Pack are manufactured onboard the station from the output of the production rings. Four hundred acres devoted to crop and protein product is more than enough to supply the M-packs needed by 35,000 sentient.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Majestic Stars Campaign Progress

With my friend Dwayne Fantasy Age campaign ended, I am up next. After talking with everybody, I am going to run my first Majestic Campaign. I will be using a heavily modified variant of Fantasy/Dragon Age as everybody in the Monday night group really likes that system. Luckily the AGE system is flexible enough that it can still be AGE but only a hop and a skip to converting everything I am writing into White Star or similar system.

I like to design some graphics to help me get into the mode. I started out with this.

But everybody though it was too busy. So after it hashing it out, I came up with this.

Because this is the first campaign I booted up from scratch in ages. We also decided to focus on a space station. I been working on this setting for a long time but the time, rules, and inspiration never seem to quite jell compared to the other campaign I ran including the Third Imperium of Traveller. But having just got done watching the Expanse, the enthusiasm behind White Star, and Stars without Number, and the simplicity of the AGE system, it is all coming together.

The campaign is going to be centered around the Artemis Space station on the fringe of human space. it is a trade hub and diplomatic station with the Commonwealth, a recently contacted interstellar civilization of sentient dinosaurs. Rumors are getting around, that the Commonwealth are in reality refugees and dissident who have fled a vast and ancient empire of their own kind. An empire with technology and wealth centuries ahead of humanity.

However there is no grand federation united all of humanity. Humankind is still very much divided into nations. The great powers of the 21st century have their 25th century descendants, who stand alongside a thousand words founded by every group imaginable from Earth.  Some are colonies of the great powers, while others fiercely guard their independence. The only group that everybody recognizes are the Astroguard, a multi-national force dedicated to search and rescue as well as keeping the interstellar spacelanes safe.

When first contact was made with the Commonwealth, ten years ago, the Selene Republic was in the fortunate position of sitting astride the only path of stars leading to the Saurians. With aid from the Astroguard and the major powers, they constructed the Artemis Station to serve as a commercial hub between Humanity and the Saurians. It was constructed as a Bernal Sphere capable of housing 25,000 people. The station logistics was turned over the Astroguard, while the day to day governing was handled by by a Selene governor, his magistrates along with law enforcement hired by the republic. The Selene governor works with the Astroguard commander and an advisory council of  human ambassadors to handle relations with Commonwealth and the Saurians. Now two years in operation, station has become a gold rush town.

Monday, May 16, 2016

D&D 5th edition 1.1 SRD released

While it was great that DnD 5th edition got a System Reference Document under the Open Game License, there were some flaws with the document. Notably the lack of the Eldritch Blast cantrip for the Warlock.  Now it looks like Wizards cleaned it up and added a few more things like rules for magic item attunement and use. And the document has been reorganized a bit.

You can download it from here.

Here is the full changelog

  • Various key spells used by classes, magic items, and monsters have been added to the spells section. For example, the eldritch blast cantrip is essential for many warlock abilities, and is now part of the SRD.
  • References to any archetypes (and similar choice-based class features like cleric domains) that aren’t in the SRD (like wild magic for sorcerers) have been removed from the text to avoid confusion.
  • References to “chapters” are gone, as the SRD isn't organized by chapters.
  • Bookmarks have been added for the most important and frequently-referenced topics.
  • A few text corrections have been made (such as a few references to "DM" instead of "GM," some typographical errors from importing the text from its original source, and incorporating errata from the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual).
  • All appendices have been moved to the end of the document. For example, the Conditions appendix from the Player's Handbook used to appear in the middle of the SRD, but now it's at the end. To avoid confusion between appendices taken from the Player's Handbook and the Monster Manual, the appendices now have a PH- or MM- prefix as appropriate.
  • Rules for magic item attunement, activating items, and wearing and wielding items are now in the SRD.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Another Harn Day

It is another Harn Day from Columbia Games!

This time up we have more Orbaal stuff, the home of the Vikings on the island of Harn.

We have map square H1 & J1 mapped out which covers the area the two castles are located in. They are mostly coastline as Columbia games usually only does one of these per HarnQuest release. The original map of Harn was divided into a number of squares that followed the hex grid pattern. Think Traveller subsectors vs. the entire sector. In recent years Columbia Games and Kelestia have decided the best way to do local regions was to map it square by square. Eventually all the squares will be detailed showing where every manor, mine, castle, keep, and points of interest is on Harn.

This time they decided to release a revised and expanded updates of two Orbaal Castles Pled & Sherwyn. While every Harn is unique because of its local circumstances these two are closer than most as they are both Viking settlement with a lord who is noted for being cruel, a brute, and a thug. However both have a lot of unique local color that make each their own place.

I recommend anything from Orbaal area of Harn to supplement the stuff you are using if you are running a Viking campaign.

This release also saw four more pages added to the Tome & Scroll article. Basically it is a series of one page articles detailing a specific book and its history. It has a lot of flavor and ideas for adventure.

With this release I released that steady drip drip of expanded reprint from Columbia Games Has nearly bumped all of the original articles from my main Harn Library. Note that unlike say the Forgotten Realms, the Harn authors and community are fanatical about keeping everything consistent. So all the details in those old articles are in the new articles as well.

Because of this, I decided to give all my old articles to +Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor. He has a handful of article that he gotten on his own or from me. But now it time for his big Harn Day!.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The identity of the official guard figure has been found!

For nearly 30 years this figure has represented the guards of the City-State of the Invincible Overlord My group and I call them the Official Guard Figure.

Off to kick some PC ass!

Who is this mysterious figure who has been slain by the hundred by PCs who refuse to kneel before Zod the Overlord? Who in turn slaughtered dozens of PCs with their dreaded Knight-Killer Crossbows?

Well it turns out he is Ral-Parth Chaos War #50-023 Sea Elf Spearman I, in reserve. 

With a certain plume shaved off along with a spear missing. You can recruit him at Iron Wind Metals. The company also has a kickstarter to bring back more of the old Ral Partha Chaos War miniatures.

Here some Swords and Wizardry/Majestic Wilderlands stats for this guard along with the rules for the Knight Killer Crossbow

City Guard
Medium Footman, 1st Level Fighter
Init +1; AC 4[15]; HP 6; Save 14; Move 90’; CL/XP 1/15;
Attacks (x1)
Spear, 1H; HTB +3/+2, DMG 1d6+1, RoF 1, RNG 20 ft;
Large Dagger; HTB +3, DMG 1d4+1; or
Knight Killer Crossbow; HTB +2, DMG 4d5, ACC +4, Reload 6, RNG 100 ft;
Str 12 (+1); Dex 11 (+0); Con 10 (+0);
 Int 10 (+0); Wis 10 (+0); Cha 10 (+0);
Athletics +2, Intimidation +1, Strategy +1;
Scale Armor, Medium Shield, 1H Spear, Large Dagger, Knight Killer Crossbow, 1 day ration, 15d.

Crossbow, Knight Killer 46d/ea. 6.0/lbs.
Damage: 5d4 (Bolts), Accuracy: +4, Reload: 6. Range: 100 ft/yds.
This is the largest crossbow capable be carried on a regular basis by fighters. It uses either a windlass or a cranequin to cock the weapon for use. This takes a considerable amount of time, 36 seconds or 6 combat rounds. The result is a weapon capable taking out a heavily armored opponent in a single shot.

Note: 1d = 1 silver piece. Accuracy equal accuracy bonus to the to-hit roll. Reload action, the number of combat rounds it takes to reload this weapon. Abilities, a lite skill system used in the Majestic Wilderlands supplement.