Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Starpunk Alien Races - Baasti and Dragho

Here are two more races for the Starpunk setting, the obligatory beast-person and dragon/reptiloid.


Baasti are near-humanoids from the Baast system. They retain much of their primitive animalistic heritage such as fur, claws, and fangs and are slightly taller than humans. Baasti gain improved senses depending on their offshoot heritage (Callari-Baasti have excellent night vision while Pelani-Baasti have exceptional hearing).
  • Claws: Baasti have retractable claws that do Str+d6 damage and grant +2 to Climbing rolls on all but completely sheer surfaces.

And may choose one of the following bonuses:
o   Low Light Vision: Callari-Baasti eyes amplify light. They can see in the dark and ignore attack penalties for Dim and Dark lighting.
o   Keen Senses: Pelani-Baasti have exceptional hearing. The gain +2 to Notice rolls.


Drahgo are huge reptilian beings with horned heads and long tails. They lived a primitive, non-spacefaring existence until they were discovered by less reputable elements within the Empire. Soon, Drahgo bodyguards and brutes were found across the star systems. Drahgo may not be as advanced as other spacefaring races, but never mistake them for bumbling idiots.
  • Natural Weapons: The tails, claws, and teeth of Drahgo allow them to tail slap, claw, or bite in combat for Str+d6 damage.
  • Reptile-Blooded: Though not truly cold-blooded, Drahgo are not comfortable in cold environments. They suffer a –4 penalty to resist cold environmental effects.
  • Size (+2): Drahgo are so large that they gain a +2 to Toughness.
  • Strong: Drahgo start with a d6 Strength
  • Too Big: The Drahgos’ large size make it difficult to use any technology that isn’t specifically made for them (including computers and starship controls). This is the equivalent to the All Thumbs (Minor) hindrance.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Starpunk Alien Races - Humans and the Shuuto

I've been away from my sci-fi game design for a while to the point where I have to reread what I've written to get back in the saddle. I actually took the whole weekend off (at the insistence of my wife that I was working myself to death). I finally have some time to work on my game, my blog, and tomorrow I'll try to get some Shuuto drawn. Shuuto are an alien race for my setting, kind of a mix of the ferrets from Weasel Patrol/ Fusion and the Jawas of Star Wars.

The Humans and the Shuuto share a special bond so I'm going to throw their descriptions in her together.


Humans are a relatively new race to universe. They traveled into the known star systems from a distant world on generation ships that moved slower than the speed of light. So much time had passed since they left their homeworld that none are aware of its location, let alone the reason for their exodus. Lacking a homeworld or any form of centralized authority, humans are regarded as the “gypsies” of the galaxy, living anywhere and adapting.
  • Adaptable: Humans start with a free Edge.
  • Riff-Raff: While humans have found acceptance in the lower classes of all races, wealthier or more respectable members of the races view them with disdain. Humans suffer a -1 Charisma modifier when dealing with authorities.
  • Kindred Spirits: Because of their similar homeless disposition, the Shuuto treat Humans as brothers (big brothers that help a Shuuto out when things get rough). Humans get a +1 bonus to Charisma whenever they deal with a Shuuto.


Shuuto are small furry beings similar in disposition to rodents. They can be found in nearly every corner of the galaxy, usually scavenging among the refuse or stowing away on cargo vessels. They have a fear of open, unprotected areas and deal with this by wearing many protective layers of clothing. No one is certain if the Shuuto have a homeworld. Aside from some junk worlds and Shuuto caravan ships, the Shuuto never represent a majority of the populace on any known world.
  • Agoraphobia (Minor): If stripped of his garments or left in an open field, a Shuuto suffers -2 to all of his Trait tests.
  • Danger Sense: Shuuto are used to dealing with predators. They start with the Danger Sense edge for free.
  • Scamper: Shuuto are often one step ahead of danger. They roll a d10 running die instead of a d6.
  • Scavenger Constitution: Shuuto are immune to disease.
  • Small: Shuuto are half the size of most of the typical races. Subtract -1 from their Toughness due to their smaller size.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

NPC Concept- Nargaster the Great

Right now with the time crunch of work going on, I take whatever inspiration I can get. Today's post was inspired by discussion on Gaming BS podcast as they were talking about overused tropes such as Elminster, who sounds as if he has become a Mary-Sue. As I was listening on my long motorcycle ride home, my mind came up with a more twisted, and perhaps more truthful version of Elminster. Behold, Nargaster the Great!

Legend: Nargaster is a swarthy master magician that could wipe out a horde of dragons with one magical sneeze. In every village he has left many a buxom lass heartbroken yet "satisfied". He is considered one of the greatest living legends of the world and where he goes, justice follows.

The Truth: Nargaster is a wimp that knows a few minor magic tricks. His legend is a result of his childhood sweetheart, Grezelda the Bard, who's heart he inadvertently broke. Rather than compose "rage ballads" of his inadequacies, she has built him up to a legend that he can never live up to. The tales have even taken on a life of their own and many great deeds that are accomplished by other heroes are becoming attributed to Nargaster.
Whenever he tried to cash in on his fame with towns, he found himself asked to do magics he is incapable of against threats that would squish him like a bug. And as for the ladies, when faced with the reality of Nargaster they tend to unleash mocking tirades. Nargaster has now been branded as a cheap, weaselly impostor of himself.

Nargaster is not a bad guy. He genuinely does want to help people and will often try to recruit adventurers to help those in need. Unfortunately whenever the heroes are successful, Nargaster's fame grows and the forgotten heroes take it out on Nargaster.

Nargaster would work as a reoccurring npc, always trying to drum up help for some village in need. 

He may also have his own character arc: The only way for him to break out of Grezelda's curse is to actually become the Nargaster she has built him up to be. Having the heroes help him to become that person could be a great moment in the game. Heck, maybe they can even get him and Grezelda back together!

Yeah this type of character is fit for a Fantasy campaign and I have been hounding on sci-fi a lot lately, but as I said I have to take my inspiration where I can.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Here's a Few Links I'd Like to Share

First up is from Geek and Sundry and Wil Wheaton. It's his new live-play videos of the Ashes of Valkana. It uses the same game system that the Dragon Age rpg uses. The system is intriguing...

Introduction to Valkana

The Journey Begins

Evil Awakens

I really like the production of it: the die roll display and the occasional art pieces flashing. I also respect the fact that he isn't using a game board and is sticking with "theater of the mind".

And a rather lengthy review of D&D 5E from Kurt Weigel. He reviewed D&D 4E (Part 1, Part 2) once upon a time and it was scathing and full of flame. Watch them both to see how things have changed in the industry's big bad baby daddy.

If you aren't familiar with Kurt's reviews then you should check him out. He has reviewed a lot of Savage Worlds games and he is a fan of the system. His review of Marchland convinced me to head over to Drivethru RPG to pick up a copy. Kurt has also been a guest on Jerrod "The Savage Daddy" Gunning's Savage Worlds GM Hangout.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Regarding Figure Flats, Tri-Folds, And Pogs

I'm feeling over-worked, but very crafty.

So people seemed to really enjoy the Slipstream Tri-Folds. I'm considering doing some more "paper heroes" in the future. However I'm unsure of the format that works best for people.

For me, the best format is 2-sided flats that I can mount into game stands. They collapse for easy storage and I can carry a huge amount of figures in a Plano deep storage box.

I built the Slipstream characters as tri-folds because that's how Pinnacle made their set and I wanted to maintain compatibility. However tri-folds seem frail and hard to manage imho. Sure they stand on their own but once they are glued together they take up more storage room and are still quite delicate. Also a slight exhale over the game surface may scatter them, more so than flats on stands.

Then there are the pogs, or tokens. I also make these since facing isn't really an issue in Savage Worlds (or most games these days now that I think about it). You still get a lot of storage, but you sacrifice full body art. They are very stable and if you glue the pictures to inexpensive wooden discs from your local craft shop then they won't slide around when people breathe. Just when they bump the table while reaching for more pizza.

So which do you guys and gals prefer for paper heroes: Tri-Fold, Figure Flat, or Pog? Leave a comment if you want to be immortal...

And speaking of Pogs...

Triple Ace Games announced these new and totally cool gems for their Helfrost setting.

These are awesome and beautiful. I wish the folks at TAG good luck on their sales. 

A few people like me are wishing for some generic versions but I don't know if that's possible. The artwork is very integrated with the pog, so they would need to shotgun a whole bunch of art onto them and pray that people would want to buy the sets. The safer bet is to stick with IPs.

Still it is giving me ideas for some homemade Pogs. They wouldn't be as sturdy or cool as the official ones but for crafty gamers on a budget...

One idea was to use a rotation wheel in a sleeve, like those old decoder wheels or the life trackers for Magic the Gathering. Problem is that would put an axle pin right in the center of the art.

Another idea is to print out pogs and coat them with something that would allow me to use wet or dry erase markers. I'll have to think about that for a but as I'm worried that the constant erasing and marking might slow down gameplay.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Starship Update

Sorry for the late post. I have been putting in about 60 hours a week at work and it doesn't look like it's going to let up anytime soon.

Still I decided to take Sunday off. With the wife gone I am able to focus on that nagging Starship problem.

Step one, I jotted down how I wanted starship operations to feel.

  • I wanted crew participation, not just a pilot
  • No starfighters, only starships
  • Tactics
  • Minimal weapon variance

And it hit me that what I wanted wasn't Star Wars space combat. It was Star Trek space combat. So I decided to have a look at other people's conversions of Star Trek space combat.

As I pointed out before in my post about Simplified Ranges, someone had already beaten me to the punch. Namely Michael S Callahan in his Red Alert conversion. I gave it another read through and found it had a lot of good ideas. This got my creative mojo flowing again and I took a look at my own Starship design.

The fact is, what I had designed wasn't bad either. It just needed a brush up. I need to add the Event Cards idea I came up with for in between adventures. That will take care of the Cargo runs and other logistics of running a starship. And the Red Alert conversion gave me new ideas about how the crew can contribute to the ship's operations.

Essentially what this all boils down to is that my mojo was unstuck by looking at the genre through a different setting's lens. So Star Trek styled ship combat in a dirty Star Wars style universe. I'm liking the sound of that.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dogged Indecision

It's one of the things severely cramping my mojo right now, and why I am spending so much time (too much) on starship design. The problem is a lack of clear vision of how I want starship combat to work and feel. It's a trifecta of clashing issues: reality, individuality, and cool-ality. 

The reality of space combat is incredibly boring. And even though I'm not shooting for reality, some aspects of common sense keep dogging me. For instance why is every ship armed in Star Wars? A stock light freighter coming off the line is equipped with a laser cannon. In reality things would be more like Firefly where civilian vehicles don't run armed, they just run.

Individuality? Well, what sets my setting apart from thousands of others? Do I make space combat more unique or do I just keep doing the same thing everyone else is doing?

And Cool-ality. What will my future players enjoy? What do people like? Do they even want a (semi) unique yet common-sense approach to space combat because it is different or do they want Star Wars with the serial numbers filed off?

Self-editing is the problem here. I keep going over and over the same rules, the same design concepts, all because I can't work out which of these three voices to satisfy. This is where having a second voice, a writing partner, makes all the difference. Unfortunately I'm all alone here on space station Yelp. Unless you count the voices in my head.

If anyone has any advice to get me out of this rut, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Musings - Another Concept for Starship Combat.

I'm filing this under musings since I haven't developed the idea at all. I'm working overtime at my job in preparation for our big E3 unveil so my time is scarce.

The issue is getting players involved in the workings of the starship during combat. Usually it's the pilot's time to shine but then you end up with everyone twiddling their thumbs. Maybe someone mans a turret and fires a gun but it's still a very limiting model. So what if we let the players use their imaginations and the strengths of their characters in combat?

Yup I'm talking about using the Mass Combat rules for starship combat. Well I want it to be a group effort, right?

For instance:

  • A hacker may try to infiltrate and sabotage the enemy ship's systems.
  • Engineers may tweak the engines or shields to assist the ship maneuverability and defense.
  • A scholar may have vital information about the enemy ship's performance and weaknesses that could aid the pilot.
  • A gunner could help by firing the offensive weapons linked to the tactical computer.
Starships won't have Toughness, they'll have Tokens and each Token lost would be a critical. It's a big departure for starship design and it doesn't follow the typical combat model, but I just can't help but think that this may be the better way to handle crew combat.