15 Jul

Delian Tomb works again

There is an introductory D&D scenario that has been adopted and *adapted* many times. Matt Colville in his excellent “How to DM” videos describes writing an adventure which he call the “Delian Tomb“.

In his version the Blacksmith’s daughter is kidnapped by Goblins and the players rescue her from a tomb. He did publish notes and so on, but I scribbled and drew as he talked, so my version is variant. I mean, in mine it’s Pete who was kidnapped, his Mum a Lancashire housewife. I have a different cast at the Gorgon’s Grog Tavern and so on.

I ran it today at Travelling Man Newcastle at the LGBTQI RPG day.

So it was time to mix it up again. Whilst Mum thinks Peate has been kidnapped, in fact they have gone off with their goblin pals from the Dreamcatcher tribe to hide them from the rival Magpie tribe.

Trapped in the tomb between a giant toad and undead, Peate was teetering on the cusp of their wild chaos magic emerging and becoming a 1m90cm electric generating afro haired gender fluid sorcerer.

Let’s say it went very well. Thanks to Wulf, Matt and Thomas for their great roleplaying of Raethis, Dendran and Loxley. Your trust and laughter made it. If I have mispelt names I apologize.

I want to play Peate now.. the players unanimously advised him to follow his path with the goblins.

… Kobolds next time…

14 Jul

UCU success, Lords of Waterdeep is great fun, had a good BBQ

UCU wins right to strike for migrant workers

After months of campaigning by UCU, including most recently the threat of legal action, the home secretary Sajid Javid has announced that he will be changing the immigration rules to ensure that migrant workers will now be able to play a full part in legal strike action without fearing the impact on their immigration status.
This is a big win for all trade unionists, not just those in UCU and it has come about as a direct result of our campaigning work. Thanks to everyone who wrote to MPs and in particular to members from overseas who took strike action despite these concerns.

Lords of Waterdeep is great fun

Paul, Andrew, Nigel, Alex and I had great fun playing Lords of Waterdeep on Friday night. It was really nice to boardgame, which is such a prep-free form of gaming opposed to rpgs. The game has just enough bells and whistles and ins and outs to be intriguing but with an essentially simple core engine.  I wanted to play it after I was rather delighted to hear that the new D&D adventure is Waterdeep:Dragon Heista guide to Waterdeep and a city heist adventure creation engine. I love city gaming, so it got me all fired up to explore Waterdeep in boardgame form.

A boardgame and a can of beer

Gaming and Lager

a boardgame

Lords of Waterdeep

BBQ

We had Conor, Kate, their sons Eugene and Tristan with Emmanuel, Catherine and their daughter Farai round for a BBQ. It was a very very hot and sunny day and the BBQ went well and Farai had a dip in the tub, and the boys really enjoyed Super Mario Smash Bros on the Wii. I got a bit faint and dizzy a few times, I need to keep an eye on that.

 

29 Apr

North Star Con 2018

I went to the North Star rpg con at the Garrison in Sheffield: 26th to 29th April 2018.

Here is my con report.

Friday. Got into Sheffield on my Megabus and Supertrammed to Hillsborough.
Met up with Amanda and Massie. Andy Lily of BITS joined us. Then more and more people arrived. I drank quite a lot of cloudy IPA. Hey, what could it hurt? Sent to bed very happy.

Saturday. OUCH! Oh that’s what it could hurt! Still rehydration powders, paracetamol and a Garrison full English with poached eggs and I was fine.. honest.
First game: Dom’s game, Fall of House Atreides, Conspiracy of Shadows. Oops. I read the first book at Uni so there was a lot of rapid assimilation as I tried to absorb the setting and also the fact that I was the traitor and yet the game seemed to be predicated that we were all meta gaming to trigger our room: the fall of the aforementioned house. I think I did it right, and the House *was* pretty effed after all my machinations. Everyone seemed happy but it made me think “this just be like playing one of these pointy elf games for a Muggle”.
Second game. Darran ran a truly great Firefly Cortex+ game. Not only does Darren have all the props, he uses them so very well. I loved the game. It confirmed my growing love of Cortex+. It made me love Darran even more!

Darran Sims as Badger

Darran Sims as Badger

Third game. Stuart ran “Testing Times in Tarsus”, a classic GDW boxed set. Tarsus is in District 268, major export Nobble meat, and is one jump to Collace.

Sunday. Graham ran Infinity 2d20. Gosh this was great. Crunchy but rewarding, with a driving back beat, and a melody of momentum and heat. Matrix style action in a near future setting with echoes of Eclipse Phase, Altered Carbon and Cyberpunk2020. If this is the crunchiest 2d20, bring it on! 

Graham, Remi, Pedr

Graham, Remi, Pete

Graham then ran 66Suns with Genesis. 66 Suns is a system agnostic setting. Genesis is the FFG funky dice system. I *loved* 66 Suns. I grokked Genesis. Fun fun.

Summary. I am on my Megabus home. I loved the con. I love there being another great SF con, the other being Travcon. I loved the 30-40 people format. I loved seeing new faces for the Garri-cons. My growing love for Cortex+ was confirmed. I have been shown that 2d20 plays great at the table. I shall print and peruse my copy of 66 Suns. Ill be back next year.

Read more here: http://northstarcon.org.uk

2019 Con announced as 11-12 May.. Read more

19 Feb

The Gaming Tavern Welcomes You

We are proud to announce the return of the Gaming Tavern.

The Gaming Tavern Welcomes You [Again]

Since the late days of the happy times of somewhere before 2004 the Gaming Tavern has been home to roleplayers, wargamers, readers of esoteric fiction, writers of esoteric rulebooks, mildly bedraggled wizards, the grumpy dwarf (and the other 6), half awake halflings and, of course, the troll Guvnor.

Guests are able to dry off next to a blazing fireplace full of elfs, listen to a disturningly wide range of music from the gnomic dukebox and sup a yellow wine or crunch through a bag of kobold bollock scratchings.

You are very welcome to enter the recently refurbished Tavern and join in the polite muttering and chatter about elfgames and polyhedral dice.

Login or Register at http://gamingtavern.eu/tavern/

I’m off to get some more firkins of
Black IPA up from the cellar and feed the dragon..

Tom, the Guvnor


13 Apr

Kantor Rythmeiger Strides Forth

I just designed and ordered a HeroForge custom mini of one of my earliest characters: Kantor Rythmeiger of the Sea Isles. A C&S character, he was a sea warrior, wore leather and fought with a shield, and has stayed with me as my Yahoo user id, has ported to several other game systems over the years, and is remembered with fond memory. Let’s see how the mini turns out, eh? It cost enough..

Kantor Stands Guard

He can also be viewed in 3D here:

https://www.heroforge.com/load_config=346652

and here

https://www.heroforge.com/load_config%3D346652/

Warrior Worshipping

PRAISE THE LIGHT

17 Jan

Back Under the Glowline

So, time to return to Glorantha I feel. It’s been years, maybe a decade or more, since I’ve gamed under the Red Moon, faced the terrors of Thanatar and charged with my Enlo against Blue Moon Moth Riders. You know what, I kinda bloody miss it, and purged of all the accumulated cruft of the Glorantha nerds and the mismatch between myself and Hero Wars, it’s time to worship the Dark Mother, riddle with Nysalor and embrace the endless history of Darra Happa.

But, and this is lovely, there are so many choices.

Firstly, and I don’t mind saying this, there is HeroQuest with the tailored match between the the recent setting books, all redolent in simple d20 keywords and meshed neatly between culture and game. There is some truly lovely stuff in the sources that meshes with HQ, and yet.. I’ve never really enjoyed a game of HQ, although a lot of that might be from the Hero Wars action point economy that bored me to tears. Also, and although I can enjoy the depth of Glorantha cultural minutia, it has been what turned me off the setting for so long. I am, and always have been, more of a greatsword swinging Zorak Zorani than a Lhankor Mhy, and so I don’t think it’s HQ for me.

Secondly there is RuneQuest. We approach a time of possibly the best moderately complex version of RuneQuest that we’ve ever had, one that fixes the old issues about divine magic, montheism in a polytheistic world, makes a bloody good stab at sorcery and delivers a folk magic that actually feels folksy and useful to a carpenter or potter. We don’t have Adventures in Glorantha yet, but Hannu Kokko and the Finns are making a very good stab at it with their proto-cult write ups and the joy that is the RuneQuest Encounter tool online.. a party of Chaos cultists heading out from SnakePipe Hollow, I don’t mind if I do. Only problem, I think RQ6, like earlier RQs, doesn’t scale to Heroic, which is, after all why HeroQuest was first conceived.

Thirdly, and this isn’t as mad as it sounds, is OpenQuest. Combined with the RuneQuest Classics RQ2 reprints from Rich Meints, or a selection of RQ3 adventures, one can run an OQ game in Glorantha with barely a flutter. The spells have the same names, the stat blocks are very similar, and OQ is lighter and involves less rethink that RQ6. I know Simon Bray runs all his Glorantha with OQ these days and if that isn’t a recommendation I don’t know what is. So, possible and do-able, but one also can’t help wondering if maybe a copy of RQ2 or RQ3 might also fit in this camp, they’re easily pickupable in the UK on ebay, if you haven’t already got them all on the shelf, which I have.

Fourthly, and here the ZZ beserker in me wails in joy, 13th Age Glorantha! This riot of a d20 game that won me over to D&D after 34 years just made me think of Orlanth, the Red Goddess, Kyger Litor, Yelmalio, etc. as I turned the pages. This is a game for the Heroic, and by setting it in the Hero Wars when Argrath wages devastation on the Lunar Empire, and the Red Moon wages it back in an apocalyptic frenzy that cracks Glorantha from Choralinthor Bay to Valind’s Glacier, is the time for the power and crazy that is a 13th Age player character. So, and this is a defininte, the d20 will come to my Glorantha table, but it will be rolling high and not low.

But that’s not all.

Oh no.

I have a steadily growing collection of skirmish minis and skirmish rulesets. I know Sandy Petersen is playtesting a Gloranthan Gods War game, and I suspect that like his earlier Cthulhu boardgame, this may lead to a big fat bunch of 28mm Gloranthan minis.

So how to skirmish in Glorantha?

Well the Glory Geeks, that brave band of Gloranthan wargamers, have valiantly field Hordes of the Things Gloranthan armies in the HOTT fields of war, and indeed Rich Crawley’s Goranthan HOTT bands are great to play. Just ask him, or Jane, for army lists and where to get the rules and you too can be playing Gloranthan battles in under an hour a time on your dining room table. I am odd though, I don’t like to base my figures in blocks, since I am a roleplayer first I like them singly based. So, not HOTT for me, although always up for a game.

Rich and I have been enjoying Song of Blades and Heroes from Ganesha Games in recent years. A fast 28mm/15mm/any scale skirmish game free of any tie in with any minis maker, SoBH or SBH is enjoyable, wonderfully generic, quick to learn and play, and leaves your minis free for any other use since it has no basing needs. I know Rich has done Glorantha with it and I was almost there until I saw..

Of Gods and Mortals, or OGAM. Published by Osprey this is in fact a superset of SBH, where gods (40mm+), avatars (28-40mm) and their forces (28mm) battle it out on the field of war. What could be more Gloranthan? Cacodemon and his warband facing down Storm Bull and his? It’s appealing isn’t it, and I think I shall have to lay down the ten quid to get OGAM and see how it’ll work if and when some good Gloranthan minis come out, so come on Sandy!

And that’s not all.. after all, if Sandy P does get the Glorantha boardgame going, is there any chance of resisting that?

Must go, Cragspider is calling..

The Troll

HQ: http://www.glorantha.com/product/heroquest-glorantha/
RQ6: http://www.thedesignmechanism.com/runequest.php
OQ: http://d101games.com/books/openquest/
13th G: http://www.13thageinglorantha.com/

SBH: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3080 … and-heroes
OGAM: http://www.northstarfigures.com/list.php?man=159&page=1

And then this:
viewtopic.php?t=4604

21 May

Why I like(d) RQ more than D&D

When I talk about D&D I mean B/X D&D and/or AD&D 1st edition (PHB and DMG and MM). I did see the White Box once but it was on a shelf as an archived thing even in 1979.

I disliked the core D&D rules system. Not for being ‘serious’ but being outrageouslt flawed as a combat simulation, and BRP being closer to how I imagined combat. The more time I spend with people who do combat recreation with metal swords, the more I realised that combat is just a touch too complex for any rpg to simulate wholly, but that BRP is closer than D&D.

I disliked the core D&D rules system also for it’s class/level approach which meant that the world was oddly solipsist, it always mirrored the class/level structure of the players. So 1-3 level PCs had 1-3 level adventures, and when they got to 4-6, the world jacked up to 4-6 around them and so on.

I disliked the very wide power range of AD&D onwards. The difference between levels seemed to become broader and broader, and the sheer power imbalance between a 1st level wizard and a 10th or 20th level character made the world seem increasingly imbalanced.

I wanted skills. D&D didn’t have them until 3e.

I disliked the haphazard nature of rules in D&D, the fact that the game appeared to grow rather than be designed, the fact that some rules followed percentiles and some a d6, that it wasn’t possible to master the system by learning one or two core mechanisms. The unique nature of each class and between races and between PCs and NPCs and monsters irritated me.

D&D was very preachy. Well let’s be clear, Gary Gygax was very preachy and prescriptive, which given the ‘not exactly perfect’ nature of the game bugged me.

I liked a magic system that allowed player choice in how to use resources to power spells, and D&D had a Vancian spell system that exacerbated the problems of low level characters and limited magic.

I didn’t conceptually like the difference between player races and monsters. It appealed to me far more to be able to play any sentient creature as a PC, and with the same rules as any other creature. This came very much from playing T&T, but also my egalitarian and inclusive social views. Monsters are people too!

I liked unified resolution systems and BRP had one (actually two if you use the resistance table), it appeals to my love of simple system design and analysis in real life, which I also accept is a reductionist tendency that makes me paper over minor variations and/or cross influences.

I wanted to play in a society based game that had a culture and the players existed and interacted with it to gain benefit and make their name, whereas default D&D seemed to be about groups of mercenaries looting tombs in an analogue of the Wild West. I accept that this wasn’t the only way to play D&D, but RQ offered a culture led game out of the book, so it worked for me.

The fact that in BRP it is just possible for a David to bring down a Goliath appealed to my view of the inherent danger of combat, and also my delight in the ‘little guy’ bringing down the behemoth with all the advantages.

I had no problem with playing ducks, trolls, scorpion-men, minotaurs, wind children, etc. any more than playing halflings, tieflings or ewoks.

As I grew up and tried other games that also took similar and different game designs, as ideas such as binary advantages and disadvantages (feats) and a lighter and lighter approach came to rulesets, and simulation was increasingly not seem as a benefit I came to 3e D&D, which had skills and a more unified approach (in the core books, I ignore the panoply of add ons) I ran it for 3 years every other week.

Much of my issues still exist, the class/level world, the very wide power level range, the likelihood that as a group of 1st level characters you couldn’t take down a 10th level fighter. On the other hand, it had skills that worked, I quite liked feats, and we had a lot of fun playing it.

At the same time I was well aware of the issues around BRP, it’s inherent fragility for characters was upsetting for many players, the full hit location based combat sequences were taking too long for a modern game, and the magic system with regard to POW driven divine spells was looking stingy compared to MP driven spirit/battle magic. There were too many skills and the ‘tick hunting’ was a problem for many refs, although not myself.

Most of these were fixed in OpenQuest and RQII and RQ6, but I also had a look at the OSR retro clone games. They were either exact copies of games I hadn’t liked decades before, or they were “homages” like Castles & Crusades. I politely walked away.

Did I use to hate D&D? Yes. In my youth it seemed to really annoy me and I disliked it a lot. When I saw good settings shoe horned into the d20 system it annoyed me.

Do I hate it now? Not in the way I used to. I can relax and take it as something people enjoy a lot. I could play and run core Pathfinder and have a good time. I’d give 4e another go, it seemed a fun skirmish game. I’d try Tru20 if anyone wanted to play it or run it.

But I’d always play systems that IMHO are better designed games.

So was RQ a refuge? No, it was one of the game systems (along with T&T and Traveller and HERO and others) that offered differently designed games that appealed better to my personal likes and dislikes about roleplaying, society and system design. Was it my favourite? Probably, and yet that’s because of the tight link between society and game, culture and PCs, and in reality that’s achievable with many game systems, but more difficult with the power ramp of D&D.

26 Mar

Heroes and Other Worlds

I have been on a bit of a mad rpg frenzy. Work has just got some heavy and so dense that I had to take a holiday in my head, so I've put in 17 hours playing Torchlight, read about 6 rpgs books straight, 4 graphic novels, and oh yes, stopped watching TV.

On the way I bought, read and have been playing solo adventures using Heroes and Other Worlds which is a retroc clone of the old Steve Jackson game The Fantasy Trip, a clear precursor to GURPS.

The game is simple, it's definitely evoking an OSR feel, and yet with a ruleset that I never owned or played, although I have played and run GURPS.. but it wasn't popular with my friends. Essentially you play an Adventurer or a Wizard, and it's cheaper for a Wizard to buy spells, and cheaper for an Adventurer to buy dexterity based skills.  There are 4 stats, STrength (ST), DeXterity (DX), Intelligence (IQ) and ENdurance (EN). Basically ST allows use of weapons, is the pool of hit points or magic points to either withstand damage or power spells, IQ is the default stat for which spells you can learn, how many spells/skills you can know, and the base stat for thinking type checks, DX is the go to stat for most physical stat checks. EN wasn't in TFT and is a fudge, it's a pool of easily recovered points to power spells and absorb damage. It seems to be a PC only stat, NPCs don't have it. As I said it's a fudge stat, but I can see from the solos and the stats of NPCs that without it a PC would die far too often to be fun.

There is an extensive spell list, many of which are short sweet and suited to the tactical combat nature of the game. There is a simple combat system that delivers a good hex/square based tactical game that is satisfying and yet not slow. The author delivers a bestiary that is clearly as influenced by D&D as anything else.

The referee section, ominously barred from player's eyes, is very good. The game is not billed as an rpg but as an "adventure game", and the emphasis is on adventure base upon combat, treasure, monsters and the ref section has a very good random dungeon system, a good random plunder system, a solo adventure (good luck keeping the player's eyes off that, and a well crafted adventure. Noticeably, although the author makes stance against emotive roleplay, the system neither supports or prevents as much narrative ham acting as you like, which is often the point made my OSR supporters. [Bit like Traveller.]

So, I created 4 characters and we launched into the solo adventure, alright, the 'programmed adventure', which is written by Dark City games. Wow, what a retro rush. I've not played a solo in years, and this, with it's hex sheet cleverly laid out to setup all the combats, it's multi PC style, and the simple flow of the story was great fun. Ann did laugh out loud when she saw me at my study desk "playing figures with myself", but it was fun.. dangerous and deadly for one of my PCs, but fun. Last night I downloaded another freebie adventure from DCG, The Sorcerers' Manor and bished, bashed and looted my way through.

So, what do I think? Well, the text is fine, albeit with a few rules issues that need a gentle tweak for newbies (I never played TFT so I suspect that the author sometimes assumes knowledge), one or two explanations need moving around, but the system is light enough that a competent reader can judge what's what, and in fact it's well drafted. The fudging of EN is necessary due to the inherent low power base of retro starting characters, but also since the development curve for the PCs is quite slow, and in this clone the core stats cannot be changed, which is a potential problem if, like one of my wizards, he really isn't clever enough to cast his spells, and will never get better. [There is a curious bit of text which implies that there is a skill bonus to spell casting but I can't see where from.].

Combats are tactical, finely balanced, and magic can play a really big role, which shows the TFT roots as a tactical game. The combat is a straight forward roll under stat+skill to hit, opponent may react with a parry/dodge but lose next move, and then damage is rolled, armour is subtracted from that, points come off EN or ST. The plunder rules are light and fun, generating interesting treasure, the spell lists are enjoyable, and the layout and illustrations of the core book are nice and redolent of the source material.

I like the idea of the Old Skool Revival, of playing simple fun games that recreate the hobby's youth. However I never really liked D&D mechanically, so for me this is a nice reminder that there were other games out there that are worth another look, have a similar 'feel' but had mechanics that IMHO were better. [Hey, like Traveller.]

So, expect an old skool game of Heroes and Other Worlds from me at a con.

8/10

Contacts: http://heroworlds.blogspot.co.uk/
http://www.mediafire.com/heroworlds [there's a short rule set in the Caludron 0 magazine]
http://www.darkcitygames.com/index.php

07 Mar

Outer Veil – Spica Publishing

OV

Introduction

OUTER VEIL  is a new setting book for the Traveller rpg published by Mongoose. Traveller has a pedigree going back to the very root of roleplaying (1977) and has a well developed setting that has emerged, somewhat organically, over the intervening decades. This setting, which is usually referred to as the Original Traveller Universe (OTU) is set very far in the future and has a very decentralised feel with a light feudal oligarchy ruling over it. It also has some anachronistic touches, and despite being millennia in the future it often feels oddly like 1972!

Spica Publishing, founded in July 2006, have published a wide range of support material for the current Mongoose edition of Traveller, and yet in the past they did have plans to publish an entire sector in the OTU. This seems to have been somewhat derailed by the new licence, although not by any active intervention by Mongoose or Mark Miller, and it seems that they have turned their hand to a new and independent setting.

Overview

OUTER VEIL is a near future setting, the game date is 2159, and yet mankind has explored a full sector, divided into the dense Core, the growing Frontier and the thinly settled Outer Veil. The pace of technological progress has been consistent and IMHO more acceptable for a SF genre project. From 2033 to 2159 Earth has moved from TL8 to just TL11, with Jump-1 ships developed in 2068, and Jump-2 in 2150. The history of the setting is well developed and addresses a lot of the usual issues about Traveller, e.g. Why doesn’t knowledge spread evenly and how can barbarism exist a week away from abundance and ultra technology? In OUTER VEIL the whole of space is nominally TL10-11, and if you have the money you can buy equipment at that level. ICT is cheap, pervasive and wireless, and as the text says “storage is effectively limitless with 22nd century technology”. That’s not to say that backward colonies don’t exist, indeed on the Veil some goods are imported in a lower tech form just so they’re easier to maintain. Gravitics is a new technology and although it has replaced aircraft, ground vehicles are still wheeled, tracked or waterborne. 

The history and the setup of OUTER VEIL has been done extremely well, so as to be believable, consistent with the core Traveller rulebook, and yet also to deliver a style and feel that is far more Firefly or Aliens than some SF games you may have played. Essentially space was colonised by Megacorps that seized political control through the Inter Stellar Trade Organisation (ISTO) after various corporate wars. Eventually the nation states rebelled and after a civil war established the Federated Nations of Humanity in 2131. The government structure of Humanity is rather similar to the present European Union, a ruling Executive of three members, an elected Assembly, and Commissions of civil servants that manage the broad decisions of the other two institutions. The wider structure of Member Nations and Colonies mirrors the colonisation of North America by the U.S.A., with Colonies similar in form and type to the Territories, and the Member Nations like full states. The Megacorps still run 60% of the economy, the FNH actively runs 25% with the balance in the hands of Independents. There is a wider variety of ‘actual’ governments the further away from the Core that one goes, and there are good rules on setting up new Colonies: indepedent, corporate charter world and government colonial projects. The political system is dominated by three broad coalitions: Stability (conservative), Progress (expansionist) and Unity (lefties), all of which can provide excellent flavour and motivation. In addition there are Secessionists, militant and peaceful; pirates, privateers and raiders, unsanctioned colonies and a whole grey zone in which dissidents and outcasts can dwell.

Military concerns are not pressing for the FNH at the moment, they keep a Core Navy, a Marines Corp (FNHMC) and planetary armies. Few warships above 1000 tonnes are seen in the Frontier and the Outer Veil, most smaller than that. Mercenary units exist and are licensed, and in the Frontier and Outer Veil illegal corporate wars still erupt. Meson guns haven’t been invented, combat armour isn’t known, and this and the small size of ships means that a referee need not use High Guard or Mercenary, although they could.. This is not a setting for huge naval battles or a Honor Harrington “ship of the line” style campaign. It is well suited to brush wars, black ops by corporate teams and possible bug hunts. I say possible, but not yet.

The economy is well explained in the setting, the role of the Megacorps allows for Outlander or Blade Runner games, but as the scale diminishes in the Frontier and the Outer Veil, then the Free and Subsidised Traders start to play a key role, allowing a Firefly or classic small scale mercantile/troubleshooter game. As mentioned above, the possibility to start colonies is covered, and colonial games have great potential for economic gaming. The nature of travel and the distances to HQ mean that even the largest Megacorps can get very entrepreneurial on the borders.

The culture is Neo-Modernist, most religions we know now are extant, although they have to have adopted an explanation for multiple worlds, and the evidence of alien intelligence, not to mention psionics. From the dense activity of the Core to the abandoned ‘land grab colonies’ composed of a single ethnicity or culture, most SF cultural diversity can be extrapolated and encompassed.

Did I mention aliens and psionics? Well there are no aliens, but there were. Ruins exist of the Monument Builders and the Ascraeus Civilisation, but these are ancients and no current non human sophonts have been encountered. The Ascraeuns were a TL13 humanoid species and through their artefacts humans discovered psionics, although it requires a psionic amplifying device to be effective.

Contents

OUTER VEIL is well written, it uses concise but rich text to build a good overview of what is a huge setting, and it does so in 8 key chapters:

  • The Outer Veil, which is a summary of the overall setting,
  • Outer Veil Characters, which provides eight careers suited to the setting:
    • Citizen,
    • Colonist,
    • Elite,
    • FNH Marine Corps,
    • FNH Navy,
    • Justice Commission,,
    • Planetary Army,
    • Scout,
  • Starships of the Outer Veil:
    • 14 ships that cover the full range of Traveller core ship types with deckplans,
  • Belting, as it says, mining rocks
  • Astrography:
    • The full sector, mapped and detailed at the level of about a page per sub sector, so similar to Mongoose sector write ups,
  • Referee’s Information:
  • Outer Veil Patrons: four of them,
  • Brotherhood and Justics:
    • An introductory adventure.

Conclusions

OUTER VEIL is a very good product. It is well written, the setting is meshed into and out of the core Traveller rulebook, and by being written from the ground up it is consistent, believable and allows for many excellent gaming opportunities. It will suit players who want an SF game that might happen in fifty years, where society has changed but the culture is recognisable and the tech is still within human comprehension. It allows for dystopian, corporate, colonisation, first contact (hey add your own aliens), and frontier games. There is no meta plot, no 300,000 year history, it’s new and it’s all up for grabs.

On the other hand, it’s Traveller. It carefully doesn’t break anything. You can grab a ship from a Mongoose book and as long as it’s TL11 or lower and doesn’t have a meson gun, it’s fine. You can use High Guard or Mercenary or Agent or Robots or Cybernetics. Nothing you have in your Traveller collection is redundant, well maybe that TL16 Twilight Sector book, but that’s the opposite end of the spectrum.

The book is simply laid out, readable, and illustrated with neat CGI images that fit the feel of the setting whilst not setting any hearts a flutter.

Should you buy it? Yes: if it sets your teeth on edge explaining away OTU’s tech levels and historical absurdity, or you don’t want aliens, or you want a new brave frontier. No: if your lOVe the OTU and are happy and love the depth and scale of all the existing material. Maybe: if you fancy a read, might port some of the ships and careers to your game or back to OTU, and since it doesn’t really break Traveller, just like the idea of diversity.

Am I pleased I have it? Hell Yes!

Outer Veil – Spica Publishing | DriveThruRPG.com http://bit.ly/zs5olW

24 Nov

300

I hate 300. I hate it with a passion that all my liberal friends find a little embarrassing and unreasonable. Well I am proud to say that David Brin hates it too, and I’d like you to read with me his blog. This is why I hate 300, I hate Sparta and I hate the adulation of a society that ranks along with the Nazis for sheer evil, but extended over a lot longer time.

Remember that next time you want to emulate the bastards in a rpg..

Roll over, Frank Miller: or why the Occupy Wall Street kids are better than #$%! Spartans