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The White Ship

2 May

“The white ship has sailed and left me here again
Out in the mist, I was so near again
Sailing on the sea of dreams
How far away it seems
Sailing upon the white ship”

The White Ship has always been a tale that stirs the imagination. Part fantastic voyage, part frightening journey into fear and the unknown reaches of the mind, The White Ship is one of Lovecraft’s best stories, in my opinion.

In game terms, an encounter with the White Ship could be an excellent way to bring the player characters into the Lovecraftian Dream Realms or to other exotic and never before seen lands.

The mysterious and beautiful White Ship

The White Whip

As far as game mechanics are concerned, this ship seems normal by most appearances, though made of a wood that is unknown, of purest white. It is beautiful beyond compare and alluring (save vs charm or be drawn to board the White Ship).

The vessel travels normally over water, but can also travel across space, time and planes/dimensions. The White Ship may call upon a the port of the characters world, but once boarded, it does not sail to other mundane places – only those that have never been seen before, except to possibly return the PCs back to the origin of their voyage. The White Ship should not be used as a normal sea craft, but only as a conveyance to mysteries destinations, most being wholly other-worldly.

If the characters depart the vessel, they may possibly be trapped in that realm, unless they can find other means of returning home or if the White Ship returns to that port (3% chance per year).

If you are interested in reading the text of the story The White Ship, please click here
-Jeff
“Retro”

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Z = Das Ende!

30 Apr

Well, here we are at the end of the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

I certainly enjoyed it. Sometimes it felt like a wicker cage, sometimes it felt liberating, but it was definitely worth it!

To end the Challenge, I want to post something that is a beginning, not an end:
I made a new video that is a very basic introduction to Fantasy Roleplaying Games as Mythopoesis. It is not meant to be complete or detailed, but is a very simple overview of the subject material. I may revise it later, but here it is as it currently stands.

Here is to the end of the A-Z Blogging Challenge and on to new things in the Blogosphere and in the OSR…

Fantasy Roleplaying Games: A Mythopoetic Experience
(This is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter. It is meant to be introductory only and does not contain details as to many pertinent details of certain aspects due to media constraints.

No favoritism of games or game systems is implied by any of the art work appearing in this video… it is a Fair Use video for educational purposes only)


Unexpected Treasures

25 Apr

Dartronus Prime, a simple spacescape I created (click for larger view)

I was digging through what few old papers I have and stumbled across a Traveller Starship design I had created. This ship was one that I designed towards the end of a Traveller campaign that started in ’82 and ran for a couple of years.

My Scout character, Karl Volker, made his fortune running whatever goods he could, legal or not, across the Spinward Marches. He is the one that I have mentioned in previous posts. The guy started off as a legit, law-abiding Imperial citizen, but slowly came to dislike the sometimes oppressive policies it had, especially concerning taxation of cargo and credit fees for ports, etc. He disliked how it cut into his profit, when he was taking a lot of risks to deliver goods for the local governments on dangerous and vital missions.

Eventually he became somewhat of a tax-protester/ Anarchist and was one of the leaders in a failed rebellion of several outer worlds against the Imperium. Along the way, he had also made himself an enemy of the Zhodani Consulate, which put a death mark on him and sent infrequent Assassin agents to attempt to take care of Karl once and for all. Because he was a wanted man by far too many powerful enemies, he left Known Space and went deeper into uncharted regions. After several misadventure, one of which resulted in him being imprisoned by an advanced alien race for two years of mind probes and observation, ex-Scout Volker decided he wasn’t safe anywhere. Karl went blindly even deeper into Unknown Space.

The campaign was winding down as it was, so I decided to leave his fate a mystery (but I suspected that if I had played him any longer, he would have met some strange and spectacular death).

Osprey Non-Standard Merchant Vessel (click for larger image)

so… on to the ship design that I found and scanned. It was the first special design ship that Karl Volker commissioned, but it wasn’t the last. It is called the Osprey and I labeled it a “Non-Standard Merchant“, which could just as easily have meant “Potential Pirate vessel”, because it was reasonably armed for its size. The armaments and defenses of the 1000 ton Wedge-shape vessel consist of:

1 – 50 ton Bay Particle weapon (the Big Gun!)
3 – Turret Triple Sand Casters
2- Triple Beam Turret Lasers
1- Single Turret Energy gun (Plasma)
4- Triple Turret Missile Launchers

For a merchant vessel of this size, it was armed well! No way did I want the tables turned on me if things got dicey in space. Karl had already been boarded early in his career when all he had was his junk heap of an old Scout vessel and he didn’t intend for it to happen again.

  • The ship has a Jump Drive factor 4 and high local space maneuverability of 6.
  • The Osprey is capable of a crew compliment of 20 personnel.
  • It is fitted with ram-scoops to skim gas giants or water worlds for fuel and has a cargo capacity of 220 tons.
  • There is zero waste space in this vessel.

At Tech Level C, the bill for this beauty came to a whopping 532.85 MCr (million credits)

Quite the investment, for sure and not a bad design, if I do say so, done according to exacting Traveller construction rules.

here is the Ship Design Worksheet that went with the plans, if you are interested.  I had to adjust the brightness and contrast of the image some to make it more legible, because the original is done in pencil.

(click for full-sized image)

-Jeff
“Retro”

Encounter: Easter Chicken

24 Apr

I won’t post much today, but wouldn’t this make a cool encounter in a children’s RPG story adventure? We know the one driving is the Easter Bunny, but that chicken could be a neat  “monster”.

Easter Chicken

Frequency: Very Rare
No. Appearing: Normally 1, though a brood of 6 to a dozen has been reported
Armor Class: 4
Move: 3″
Hit Dice: 4
% in Lair: 50%
Treasure Type: Special (candy eggs)
No. of Attacks: 2 or 1
Damage: Scratch/Scratch/Peck – d4/d4/d6
Special Attack: Deafening Cackle (once per day – Save vs Stun)
Special Defences: Nil
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Animal
Alignment: Neutral
Size: Large 7-9′ + wingspread
Psionic Ability: Nil

Easter Chickens lay one candy egg per day
(roll d6 for type)

1- Giant Jelly Bean Egg (assorted flavors)
2- Dark Chocolate Egg
3- White Chocolate Egg
4- Milk Chocolate Egg
5- Marshmallow Egg
6- Creme Filled Egg

This large, flightless fowl is not very intelligent and tends to run wild if set loose or frightened. It will defend itself if attacked, but generally just gets into trouble or wanders around if found free roaming. The Easter Chicken has a loud voice and will cackle, gobble, chirp, etc. much of the time, which tends to attract predatory animals & wandering monsters if in an environment where they may be found. They can be trained to pull Easter Egg wagons and similar conveyances if treated well.

Happy Easter 🙂
-Jeff

Weird Spacecraft #2

22 Apr

The previous post on Weird Spacecraft was focused mostly on older Science Fiction ideals. Cylindrical rockets are not the only type of craft to exist in Science Fiction. In some settings, a spacecraft would never see atmosphere, so having it aerodynamic is not a necessity. As I mentioned earlier, the culture of the star faring race will affect the design and function of a spacecraft in a game.

The Warhammer 40K Universe is one where culture definitely affects the shape and design of ships. I bought Games Workshop’s Battlefleet Gothic when it came out. It is now a defunct game, but for tabletop space warfare, it was one of the best. The Fantasy Flight Rogue Trader RPG, set in the Warhammer 40K milieu, may bring interest in incorporating that back into the table. Even if it doesn’t the ship designs become very important in that game.

I love the Eldar ships. They are elegant, work on principles that are different than other race’s spacecraft and introduce a rudimentary cloaking. Here is one of the smaller attack ships, more akin to a fighter than anything.

The Orks are not so elegant in design, but their ships are sturdy, if less advanced, but make use of their hulks even for ramming – a very Orcish tactic indeed!

This Ork fleet looks terrifyingly functional. The prows of the ships hint at the damage a several kilometers long Hulk could do when it tears into your vessel!
The cries of “Abandon ship!” might not be far away if you get too close to one of these without proper agility and firepower to protect you.

The Imperial ships of the Humans are many times like Gothic cathedrals in space, reflecting the cult of Emperor worship and the Crusader-like mentality of those that serve him. For the god-emperor, these mighty vessels protect the colonies of man among the stars, attempting to reclaim and reunite all humans under his mighty rule.

The box cover from the Battlefleet Gothic game tells it all. Here the Imperial fleet is coming out of warp, ready to do battle, because as the motto of the game goes, “There is no peace among the stars”.

The other races of have their own designs, some of which are truly alien.

I haven’t had a chance to play Dark Heresy or Rogue Trader for some time, but I hope to put my rulebooks back to use soon. The images of ships in the publications by Fantasy Flight make me want to ply the space lanes for a few credits, while “avoiding any Imperial entanglements” – wait, that’s another universe, but hey, they all tend to meld in my sector of the Multiverse!

Click image above for more info about Rogue Trader

-Jeff
“Retro”

Weird Spacecraft

22 Apr

Ok, is it just me, or does this spacecraft look backwards? Whoever designed this made it for looks, but is the design functional?Unless it jettisoned a portion of itself after liftoff and it was out of the atmosphere, it must be designed to work on low/no atmosphere worlds like the one pictured.

This standard rocket design, typical of the 40’s and 50’s especially, sits right with me… but it is also predictable. The picture is enjoyable to look at and I can envision it happening, yet haven’t we seen this a zillion times before? It makes sense; perhaps too much sense.

I find old drawings of space ships before the Space Race to be beautiful concept-wise, but they would be an engineers nightmare. I know it is Science FICTION, but some artwork depicting the vessels that would transport humans across the galaxy seems like someone was looking at the plans backwards (points to first picture above) or on some heavy psychedelics, like the person that did the pic below:

I sure hope the heavily drugged pilot of the spacecraft at the bottom of this pic isn’t crashing into the futuristic building. I am getting visions of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure in Space. I have used fishing lures that look like that ship. I can see it now: “Hey Billy! I just got me a design idea fer one of them thar space ship dealies! Hand me the worms, will ya?”

Still, such radical designs could reflect advanced or alien technology we haven’t dreamed of yet. Incorporating weird designs into a space game might be a challenge, but it could add to the effect. In the Star Trek universe, there were many culturally influenced designs that each galactic race had. You could tell who was who, generally, by their ship design, much like ships have been spotted and identified on the seas for centuries. Everyone had to do their own thing and we liked it!

I just thought I would share these images because they were out of the ordinary.
It would be interesting to see these on graph paper being designed for Traveller. I used to love to design ships for that game, but the balance between all of the factors you wanted was hard to get. Whatever these designers wanted for the spacecraft depicted here,  functionality wasn’t at the top of the list. However, they sure make mind-bending art!

-Jeff
“Retro”

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]