Tuesday, May 1, 2018

More Traveller Literary History - Toyman

I have now read the first three books in E.C Tubb's series "Dumarest of Terra". This week I finished Toyman, (#3).  But this is not a book review.

Marc Miller himself named the Dumarest saga as a major influence on Traveller. So how does Traveller reflect Tubb's universe? There are several things. First there's the word Traveler, which the protagonist uses to describe himself.

Although Toyman all takes place on one world, there is discussion of High, Middle and Low passages. Since I've now had a PC die in Low berth, I appreciate more the gritty feel of the desperate who travel Low.

Earl Dumarest wears Mesh armor, and carries a big knife (a Blade). Some NPCs use lasers, alongside clubs and whips. Thus the uneven distribution of technology across space, and the inclusion of primitive weapons in the game.

The planet Toy (not really a joke) is an example of Government Type 1: Company/Corporation. Stockholders run Toy, and whoever has the most shares has the most influence. The guy with the biggest share  is (again, not a joke) the Toymaster.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

PC perspective of a game event

This story was written by Longfinger's player. It is from his perspective, where he refers to himself in the third person as Allistair.

Allistair walked into the club. He had spotted Stephy, and had seen him gambling his money, and his time, away. Allistair mentally rolled his eyes.
I've only been under his employment for a few days now, and I'm already utterly disappointed, he thought.

He walked over to him, noticing that Stephy was winning by more than Allistair cared to count. Looking down on him, he could see a very well executed poker face plastered onto the Baron's face.
"Good evening Captain. I don't mean to intrude, I just wanted to check up on you. The crew and I were a little concerned about you and Miss Tawny leaving the ship," whispered Allistair.

"Oh it's quite alright Longfinger, we're just relaxing a bit before we shove off tomorrow," replied Stephy in a half attentive voice.
Even more quietly, Allistair whispered in the Baron's ear,
"I'd also like to apologize for my earlier behaviour, I meant no harm to you in the slightest."
"Don't worry about it my boy, I understand your motives completely."

Stephy then turned his attention to one of his fellow gamblers, whom he seemed to know, with a confused look upon his face.
"Have you seen Tawny anywhere? She's been absent for twenty minutes," he inquired, although he didn't sound concerned.
The gambler shook his head. Allistair then saw a chance to be of service, for since the age of sixteen he had made a covenant with whom his people referred to as "The Gardener".

"I could fetch her for you if you'd like of me Captain," he offered.
Stephy merely shrugged and casually uttered, "If you wish."

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

More Traveller Literary History

John Eric Holmes, author of the Basic Edition of the World's Most Popular Role-playing game, also wrote another book, Fantasy Role Playing Games: Dungeons, Dragons, and Adventures in Fantasy gaming.  

In it he discusses a number of games that were on the market in 1980, including Traveller. He mentions, on page 46, a number of 'modern authors' from whose works Traveller is derived. The list is:

  • Poul Anderson
  • E.C. Tubb
  • Robert Heinlein
  • Larry Niven
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • E.E. "Doc" Smith
"to mention a few."

I would add to that list for my own TU and games:
  • Andre Norton
  • Leigh Brackett
  • H Beam Piper
  • David Weber
  • Harry Harrison
  • Alfred Coppel
  • and Edgar Rice Burroughs

Who inspires you to adventure in the realm of Traveller ?

Friday, March 30, 2018

Saints of the Corridor

At the beginning of Easter Weekend for those on the Western calendar, and the start of Holy Week for us on the Eastern calendar, I present something I've been working on for a while now.

A hagiography of the Saints who Shined Forth in Holtzmann's Corridor.

To go with this, here is the tale of a miraculous deliverance worked by an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

The Miracle of The Blessed Virgin of Vaasa (Kemasiik)

Vaasa is a subordinate world of Kemasiik. For many years it has been plagued by attacks from pirate & slaver gangs, sometimes carrying away entire villages. In the town of Lojotz, there lived a priest named Fr. Gervais. When Fr. Gervais heard the alarm that meant another attack was coming, he went to the church to pray. He asked God what he could do to protect his people. He was told to take the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the altar, and go out to meet the raiders. He would then know what to do.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Session Report St Patrick's Day 2018

Today the Adequate Seven forged ahead with their 100-hour endurance airship race on Stavanger, while facing many challenges.

Somehow during the break at the Oasis, adversaries smuggled a robot aboard, disguised as a number of fuel canisters. It assembled itself in the engine room and began tearing up the place. Jay, Joe and Landreth managed to destroy it, and Landreth started taking it apart looking for intel on who had put it aboard. They recalled that while at Oasis 'race officials' and porters were going on and off the ship without any close oversight. Won't make that mistake again. 

The robot did not disable the engines, but it did cause damage. Most of the Seven have mechanical and/or engineering skill, so they were able to effect repairs in flight. 

Reaper stayed behind in the Oasis for a while, and managed to acquire some (dubiously legal) cryonic grenades, which came in handy later. He had to <ahem> liberate an air/raft to catch up with the team in flight but was able to rejoin them at a race checkpoint.

Team Trendheim is in the lead, withTeam Namsos and Team Hokksen catching up. Every obstacle that arises seems to chip away at their lead. I'm using the Chase rules from Omer Joel's Quick and Dirty CT Vehicle combat rules to determine place order. McGee's rolling hot so far.

The Seven made it to the next-to-last checkpoint and stopped to refuel, and hand over the robot's remains to the race officials who will start a formal investigation. 

Taking off at sunset for the next to last leg, the crew are all getting tired, but no rest for the weary!  In the depth of the night the airship is attacked by a group of grav-belt wearing assassins!

They're armed with swords and grenades, and attacked the ship from several fronts at once. The Seven are spread out and can't help each other. Jay, Gray (4) raced up the catwalks to the aid of Longfinger, Gray (7) who was on his way down to the gondola when an assassin flew in at him. Sword and claw rang out in the darkness. 
The Adequate Seven are in Grey, attackers in yellow.

Joe (2) and McGee (1) are trapped in the Salon while Reaper fights on the catwalk outside.
In the photo, Landreth is Gray(3). He was guarding the engine room when he heard Tawnee, the patron's mistress screaming. Rushing to the rescue he found one of the attackers in her cabin, and they're at close quarters with sword and pistol. Ca'al is the inverted gray counter outside on the catwalk. He went axe-to-sword with an attacker, but as the attacker was wearing armor and Ca'al wasn't, he's down. Reaper, Gray(6) froze one assassin with a cryonic grenade and now he's fencing cutlass-to-sword with the guy who stabbed Ca'al.

Joe shot down one assassin through a port-hole with his SMG, but the second is keeping under cover and tossing shock grenades through the portholes. Joe managed to return one but it went over the side and discharged below the ship. McGee is defending the bridge and watching Joe's back.

We ended the session in mid-battle. Shots and blows have been exchanged at close range, but everyone's wearing armor so not much damage has been done. Whoever these masked assassins are, it means whoever sent them is serious about taking Team Trendheim out of the race. Can't wait for next month's session!

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Programming in the Far Future

I mentioned in my last post that I spotted a curious thing in the computer software table of the space combat rules. The even more curious thing that I discovered is that there's an aspect of space combat that I've been ignoring for years. Despite the fact that I've played Traveller since 1982, and run this blog since 2014, I still find from time to time little bits of the rules that got lost in the paperwork. Here's one of them.
From TTB, page 74:
"Players can and should seek out new and different programs to improve the performance and enlarge the capabilities of their spacecraft."
Meet Royal Talaveran Navy Ensign Heidi Klune, Computer skill-4, Liaison-3. Yes, Ensign, I'd be happy to spend two months helping you write that program! Obviously.
TTB gives us rules for how to write your own versions of the existing list, as well as writing new ones. A similar procedure is found in JTAS #1, which is noted as the official rules module for Computer Programming.

Either way you go about it, writing your own copy of programs has four requirements: computer skill, a skill associated with the program, time, and a throw for success.

An example:
TARGET program:  Computer-2, Navigation-2, 10+
The programmer has to have skill-2, the programmer or an assisting character has to have Navigation-2, the programmer has to throw 10+ w/ DM for Computer skill after two months of writing for it to work. Computer skill ABOVE the required level is a +DM for the success throw.