Archive | 3:20 pm

Where all worlds meet… Sci Fantasy

21 Apr

It is said that science fiction and fantasy are two different things. Science fiction is the improbable made possible, and fantasy is the impossible made probable.” – Rod Serling

Science fantasy (also known as Sci-Fantasy):  a mixed genre within speculative fiction drawing elements from both science fiction and fantasy.

Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series is a prime example of this genre. Star Wars, with its quasi-mystical “Force”marginally qualifies. The Edgar Rice Burrough’s Martian series novels are in a subgenre of Science Fantasy called “Sword & Planet”.

Among roleplaying games there are numerous Science Fantasy RPGs or RPGs that have elements of Sci-Fantasy to them. I will mention a few of them

Deodanth (future Elf), Phraint (alien insect warrior) and a Human Rune Weaver battle together!

The Arduin Grimoire trilogy is one of the earliest RPGs to incorporate Sci-Fantasy. The Phraint (an alien insect warrior), Deodanth (amoral elves from the future) and Techno class are still fun to play. I was speaking with a fellow Old Schooler at the local hobby shop recently. He remarked how crazy it was to be in an Arduin campaign, because: “It was great to open a chest and have it start spraying machine gun bullets at you!” I then remarked: “Ahhh, the Lost Techno’s Treasure!”  We both laughed, remembering a similar incident.

Hey babes! Wanna ride?

RIFTS is one of the best in this category and has a decent balance of both future Earth science and fantasy magic. Whether you were a power-suited Glitter Boy or a Magic Casting Ley Walker, a good group of RIFTS players knows how to make action happen!

Both Arduin and RIFTS are currently in print, so the Old School goodness can be experienced at will.

Gamma World had a flavor of sci-fantasy to it. The fact that TSR made the original version had it oozing with sci-fantasy hints. Shadowrun, though more Cyberpunk Fantasy, are other popular games that incorporate Sci-Fantasy to them. There are many others, but I just wanted to get the Gamemaster’s mind thinking of the Old School open-ended possibilities that existed and still exist in gaming. I love all things science fiction and fantasy – especially when it is both and their are dice involved.

The Multiverse is filled with many possible worlds… some real, some only dreamed of in the imagination… until you cross over into them!

-Jeff
“Retro”

[post edited and updated with video]

Random Subsector Generator

21 Apr

Anyone that has played any version of the Traveller RPG is familiar with subsector maps. These relatively small portions of space. Subsectors are areas of space 8 parsecs across by 10 parsecs down. One parsec is approximately 3.26 light years. An entire subsector covers an area about 26×33 light years in size. A four-by-four grid of subsectors is a sector.

I created a subsector that I am considering using for my campaign. Using the Random Subsector Generator over at The Zhodani Base, it created some ascii output of the subsector stats for me as well as a map. There are several options for output format, so I decided to get the map as a Postscript file, then converted the map from .ps to some images. I have generated many subsectors by hand, but using this tool took only about a minute. The Star System Generation rules from Book 6 Scouts was available and that is what I went with.


Here is the map I generated w/ some custom options:

Sidhe Subsector (click for larger image)

Here are the Universal Planetary Profiles of the worlds contained in the Sidhe Subsector:

Subsector Format: name, some whitespace, coordinates (four digits between 0101 and 0810), some whitespace, starport (A-E or X) size (0-9 or A) atmosphere (0-9 or A-F) hydrographic (0-9 or A) population (0-9 or A-C) government (0-9 or A-F) law level (0-9 or A-L) a dash, tech level (0-99) optionally a non-standard group of bases and a gas giant indicator, optionally separated by whitespace: pirate base (P) imperial consulate (C) TAS base (T) research base (R) naval base (N) scout base (S) gas giant (G), followed by trade codes (see below), and optionally a travel code (A or R). Whitespace can be one or more spaces and tabs.

Trade codes:
Ag Agricultural Hi High Population Na Non-Ag
As Asteroid Ht High Technology NI non-Ind
Ba Barren IC Ice-Capped Po Poor
De Desert In Industrial Ri Rich
Fl Fluid Oceans Lo Low Population Wa Water
Ga Garden Lt Low Technology Va Vacuum


Hopefully this will be of some use to me in the near future. There are many subsector and sector generators out there, but this seemed to suit my needs.

I noticed there were a lot of Red Zones (star systems that are forbidden entry by the Imperium or whatever explorers that charted them).
Red Zones can be anything from quarantine worlds, prison worlds, to low-tech systems that are not to be interfered with, etc. All of the best fun seems to be had in Red Zones!

The letters A-E and X denote the quality of the best Starport in the system with A being an excellent facility and E being a marked patch of ground. A Starport rating of X means there isn’t one present.

“Newer” subsector maps use slightly different color/symbol coded map key:

There is a Traveller Developers Pack available for FREE here: http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/pdf/travdevpack.zip
It includes a lot of SRD material for the current iteration of the Traveller RPG, including information on subsector specifications.

In my first Traveller campaign, I played  a Scout character. He seemed to get into a lot of scrapes, but my luck held with me, as far as his survival was concerned. His reputation, however, went from respected space explorer to traitor of the Imperium and enemy of the Zhodani Consulate . Eventually he slipped away into uncharted regions to avoid the wrath of the humanoid races. After a few misadventures among new alien species (including a 2 year imprisonment for violating a highly advanced species’ turf), my Scout headed even further into unknown space and whatever happened to him in the end is a mystery. He most likely met a very colorful and tragicomic demise outrunning alien pirates dangerously close to a black hole or misjumping a pulsar or something.

I have a new subsector map… now all I need is a bucket of bolts used Scout ship, a few credits and some jump coordinates!

-Jeff
“Retro”