Tuesday, November 15, 2022

World Names for the SV Inspired Setting.

I've been pondering what to name the planets in my Space Viking inspired setting.  In his Terro-Human Future History, Piper leaned heavily on world mythology for the names of planets.  So, I figure I can do one of two things.  

I can embrace this and either recycle the names that Piper used or I can dig up my own mythological names.  On the positive side, reusing Piper's names would give an instant familiarity to anyone who has read the book and people who haven't read the books wouldn't know any different.  On the negative side those who have read the books might have preconceived notions about what the planets are like, even if I don't want the planets to emulate the originals.  

Digging up my own mythological names shouldn't be too hard but many of the figures involved could be very obscure.  It's a distinct possibility that the players would miss the references.  Heck, I would probably miss the references.  It shouldn't be that hard though, with the internet and the books available at the library and such.

The second course of action is to invent new names or draw them from a different source.  Now, I find this a bit daunting.  I would like a unified theme like Piper used but I don't know what that it would be and I don't know where I would get the names if I did come up with a theme that I liked and felt fit the game.

Right now I'm leaning towards scavenging Piper's names in conjunction with coming up with new mythological names.

Here is a list of names from Piper's Terro-Human Future History books.  I found it on one of the sites dedicated to Piper's works, Zaranthi.net

WorldsSword Worlds.

Monday, November 14, 2022

The Black Hack

I've had the PDF for the first edition of The Black Hack for quite some time but only recently got around to reading it.  I found that I like it for several reasons.  

First, I can pretty much hold all of the rules in my head.  Since I got back into RPGs about two decades ago I discovered that I prefer rules-lite games.  As a working parent who was perennially tired I just did not have the brain power to expend on complicated games.  Now I'm old and just plain tired and still don't.  And besides, it turns out my favorite games are rules-lite.

Second, it is familiar.  Two of my favorite games are B/X and White Box: FMAGThe Black Hack is based on the Original Edition and so is very close to these games.  Same attributes, same spells, same monsters and similar adventuring style. So you know what you're going to get and what you're supposed to do.

Third, it is pick up and play.  TBH is excellent for one shots.  Characters can be generated quickly and you can be off and running.  You don't have to spend a lot of time prepping if you don't want too.It's my understanding that it can be used for campaigns also but I haven't played more than a couple of sessions so I don't know this personally.

And fourth, support and adventures.  In the years since the first edition was published many adventures and supplements have been published.  Often these are free or very low priced.  This makes it easy to keep playing if you like the game.  The supplements range from new classes and ways to add in races to full-blown games based on TBH.  What's more, I understand that the modules and adventures from the original games are easily compatible too.  So you can pull out any of the your old TSR modules, or new OSR stuff for that matter, and run it with TBH.

Another thing I like about TBH is what people have done with it.  Not just the adventures and supplements but the full games people have created using it.  TBH has an OGL and is open content, what ever all of that means.  I've never really understood it except that it means people can use it to make other games using the material under certain conditions.  And people have created many, many different variations in many different genres.  Some are a few pages long like TBH's 20 pages to others that are over 200 pages.

For example, I haven't played straight The Black Hack. I have run my son through three or four programmed solo adventures using Bluehack. Bluehack is an expanded (to a whopping 26 pages) version of TBH which fills in some of the gaps in the sparse TBH and is modified to feel more like Holmes Basic, which was the RPG that started it all for me.  In fact it was created by the same person who created Holmes' clone Blueholme.

There are many fantasy hacks that take it in different directions.  There are several D&D versions including Red Hack and Heroes & Monsters.  There are at least three sword & sorcery versions.  I have two, Black Sword Hack and Swords Against the Shroud, and will get the third version, By this Axe I Hack, soon.  There is also a Tolkien version that incorporates some features from The One Ring called There and Hack Again.  

There are also various science fiction versions ranging from spacefaring to post-apocalypse. This includes serious to full on Gamma World gonzo in the form of Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, which is a big, beautiful full color book that I would like to have some day.

I could go on but suffice it to say that the full range is covered.  Anime, cyberpunk, noir, modern, pirates, supers and even dinosaurs.  You name it, it's probably out there.

Now there is one last thing I like about The Black Hack.  It gives me the urge to create.  Not just that.  It actually makes me feel like I could be successful in these creative endeavors.  None of the variations of TBH that I have read are exactly how I want them to be.  I know what I want to change and clarify, add and subtract.  The thing is, the chassis that this game provides is so simple yet so sturdy and I understand it from a lifetime of gaming that I know I could do it.  I just need to sit down and do it.  Write my perfect version of this game to suit my personal tastes and quirks.

I think I've just set myself a goal.  Dammit.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Space Viking World and Subsector Generation Thoughts

Art by Alan Gutierrez
I mentioned in an earlier post that the standard world generation in Traveller wouldn't meet my needs for my SV inspired setting.  There are a few worlds I would want to handcraft.  Those worlds that had a high enough tech level for interstellar flight, particularly the character's base worlds.  And the world(s) that they controlled/dominated.  Essentially whatever pocket empires I want in the setting.  I don't envision them being larger than three or four worlds in size.  Other than that I would want to be able to randomly generate worlds that meet the tech level and other requirement that produce the feeling of the setting.

So, planetary generation would need to be modified in several areas.

  • Tech Level Cap (TL 10)
  • Starport Type
  • Bases
  • Planetary Atmospheres
  • Government
The first thing that would have to be modified is tech level.  The tech level cap will be TL10.  Though I'm thinking that I will allow Type J maneuver drives, jump drives and power plants because that will allow for 2000 ton ships.  Space Viking had some big ships and this will allow for a bit more emulation in that area.  TL 10, however, limits the setting to computer type 4 which means jumps are limited to 4 parsecs.  So even small ships won't be wildly speeding through the galaxy.  I plan to designate which planets have TL9 or TL10 so the planets that I randomly create need to be capped at TL8.  My solution is to roll on the Tech Level Table as usual but ignore the starport type modifier.  Technically, this can still yield a tech level as high as 11 but I think it is unlikely.  And the GM can just cap it at TL8.  Or, if they want another starfaring planet they can just go with it up to the TL10 max.

Starport type needs to be handled differently too.  Anything below TL7 will not have a spaceport.  Unless it is in ruins or it is mothballed or on a moon or is a satellite.  TL7-8 can have interplanetary ships so can have one and may be in the process of colonizing its solar system.  The GM can either choose a starport type or roll on the table I've devised below.

Bases won't be present on TL6 or below planets.  Unless, of course, they are ruins or abandoned bases off planet.  They can be determined as the GM deems appropriate for TL7 and above systems

I wanted to modify atmosphere for a couple of reasons.  The first of which is that 10 out of the 13 types of atmospheres listed in the book are unbreathable by humans without some sort of breathing equipment.  I figured that with the loss of technology after the Federation fell that this would lead to planets being depopulated as their inhabitants lost the ability to manufacture and repair the equipment.  The second reason is that I can remember the only planet in Piper's Terro-Human Future History that did not have a human breathable atmosphere was Niflheim. It was from another of Piper's books, Uller Uprising, set centuries earlier than SV.  The only reason that people had anything to do with Niflheim and its corrosive atmosphere was its wealth in metals.  The planet is so hellish that its name is actually used as a curse.  So, in order to give planets a higher chance of be habitable I am going to dropped the tainted designation.

Several of the planets mentioned in SV weren't unified, both the primitive ones as well as some of the relatively technologically advanced worlds.  I wanted to have this reflected in the world generation.  I figured that before the government type was rolled the GM would roll 1D6.  On a 1-3 the planet would be balkanized, otherwise the GM would roll normally.  If balkanized, roll 1D3+1 to find the number of major countries/political units.  Then the GM can either roll separately for each country or the GM could choose.

Here is what the World Generation Checklist would look like.

  • Determine world occurrence (1D for 4, 5, 6 is standard). 
  • Check system contents table for details of world. 
    •     Check for gas giant. 
  • Name world. 
  • Generate universal planetary profile for world. 
    • Planetary size: 2D-2. 
    • Planetary atmosphere: 2D-7 +size. Ignore Tainted designation (unless GM has special circumstances in mind).  If planetary size is 0, the atmosphere must be 0. 
    • Planetary hydrographics: 2D-7 +size. If planetary size is 0, then hydrographics must be 0; if atmosphere is 0. 1, or A+, then apply a DM of -4. 
    • Population: 2D-2. No population if atmosphere 0-3, A+
    • Government: Roll d6, 1-3 Balkanized. Roll D3+1 for # of major political units.  Governments can be roll for or determined by GM. If not balkanized 2D-7+population as usual.
    • Law level : 2D-7+government. 
    • Technological Level : 1 D+DMs from tech level table. Ignore starport modifiers.  TL8 cap unless referee decides otherwise.
    • Determine starport type. See tables below.
    • Determine naval base as appropriate. 
    • Determine scout base as appropriate.
  • Decide if travel zone coded. 
  • Establish communications routes.
  • Note trade classifications based on universal planetary profile. 
  • Note statistics for reference.
Here is the table to generate starport type for TL 7-8  I also included a table for TL 8-10 just for kicks.  In case the GM wanted a little randomness.

Spaceport TypeSpaceport Type
TL 7-8TL 9-10

These are just my initial thoughts.  I haven't tested these world generation rules yet.  When I do I will let you know how it went and and changes that I think need to be made.