Thursday, May 29, 2014

The H@rthg!r

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::Commonwealth Space Force Dispatch::
*High Confidence*

2514-MAY-14|19:05 Non-local

Commonwealth Space Force confirms a strong H@rthg!r presence in 34 Feynman system. All civilians and citizens are cautioned to avoid the system. All communication from colony on 34 Feynman, including traffic control, has been lost. Local space traffic is currently under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Space Force Fleet-in-presence which is conducting military actions to re-take the system. Commonwealth ground forces are also on-site and engaged in active conflict. System should be considered dangerous and hostile until further notice!

The H@rthg!r

Image Source:

Stat Block: AC 15, HD 2d6+1, THB +2, ATT by weapon+1 melee, MR 12, ST 17, MV 4, XP 30

Despite their reptilian appearance H@rthg!r are more properly classified as Archosaurs. Warm-blooded and quick moving the H@rthg!r have never not been at war. As their daily struggle to survive evolved along with themselves into the struggle to donimate their archosaur cousins then their world, eventually their solar system and now beyond.

H@rthg!r are carnivorous and physically powerful, gaining a bonus of + 1 on melee damage rolls due to their great strength. They exercise no reservations about the use of other intelligent species as food.  H@rthg!r reproduce by egg laying and earth mammals suffer a -3 on the Reaction table as they smell similar to an egg stealing rodent species native to the H@rthg!r homeworld.

The H@rthg!r military is the H@rthg!r government; there is no distinction. The same is true of the various services; the navy, cavalry and infantry are all one force. Promotion is based on ability to perform and achieve objectives quickly and efficiently. At the highest levels the warlords sit in tribunals over their clade-troops and gatherings of tribunals debate and decree ruling over their separate worlds. While the H@rthg!r present a unified face to outsiders, there is no over-arching power structure beyond the tribunals. Only by cooperation between H@rthg!r worlds can forces large enough to attack or invade other Polities be formed.

H@rthg!r uniforms, such as they are, tend to be camo designs. It is the H@rthg!r themselves where the colors really come into it. Skin colors, based on clade, tend to be mottled or spotted in pattern and are greens, reds, oranges and yellows with occasional blacks or browns reflective of the individual's homeworld.

H@rthg!r Warparty Squad Size: 9+ H@rthg!r (2 fire teams of 3 H@rthg!r, 1 Hvy. Weapon team of 2 H@rthg!r and Leader; possibly supported by FleshEaters)

A single fireteam of these lizardmen took down half my mission team last night in two rounds! Their tech is advanced compared to the Commonwealth's, allowing cordless man-portable energy weapons.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Xenoform Alert - Aquarii Wyrm

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Following the return of the surviviors of the investigatory team dispatched to Iota Aquarii c to check into the lapse of communications with the University archaeological team there, the following previously unknown xenoform has been identified.  Dubbed an Aquarii Wyrm this xenoform is dangerous and reacted to the mission team in a hostile manner.  The total loss of the administration and dig staff at the Iota Aquarii c Archaeological Site has been attributed, in part, to their presence.

Since that time, several other specimens has been located in differing stellar systems where contact lapse with the associated local outpost has ultimately resulted in loss of those staff and facilities.

Should you encounter such a xenoform, shelter in place and alert the authorities!

Aquarii Wyrm - artist's approximation

Based on detailed debriefings of the surviving members of the free-lance investigatory mission team that encountered them on Iota Aquarii c the following stats have been worked up for this creature:

  • AC 13, HD 3d6+1, THB +3, ATT 8 tentacles, MR 9, ST 16+, MV 6, SPC Paralyzing Chemical (touch), XP 90

An Aquarii Wyrm is a 3 meter (10-foot) long nocturnal or subterranean scavenger that looks like a cross between a gigantic green cutworm and a cephalopod, with eight slimy tentacles arranged in a ring around its mouth. Though they appear to subsist primarily by scavenging carrion and other refuse, they will eat fresh meat when they can get it — they also lay eggs in corpses so their larvae have a ready supply of food when newly hatched.

An Aquarii Wyrm's bite is weak (1d3), so it's primary attack is its tentacles. The sticky slime that coats its tentacles contains a fast-acting paralytic agent that paralyzes any creature touched that fails a Brawn-modified Saving Throw. The Aquarii Wyrm then drags the paralyzed prey away to eat leisurely.

Aquarii Wyrms move quickly and can climb nearly any surface without difficulty, even upside down on a structure's ceilings. They appear to have cognitive capacity comparable to Earth's insects, and therefore Aquarii Crawlers can't be tamed or bargained with.

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted but until last night my players hadn't yet encountered my wee beastie and as they reference my site during play I didn't want to spoil the surprise!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Putting A Good Face On Things

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This week's entry is another re-posting. Regretfully I don't remember where it was that I found this, but given that I couldn't find it again, I suspect I picked it up in Brave Halfling Publishing's old forums formerly located at Nor have I been able to track down the author based on the name given is said forums, namely: Stibbons. If you see this and would like a proper author's credit please let me know in the comments.

Every mission team needs a "face-man," the smooth-talking front on the socially disagreeable or hard-bitten membership composing most mission teams. This front-man or woman should be charming and social adept to keep the clientele happy and out of the more serious and determined members of the team's way.  Here's my take based on the idea originally presented by Stibbons.

Frequently the best mission teams have a member whose primary purpose is to interact with and deal with the prospective patrons of that mission team while shielding those potential employers from the "rougher" edges of the team, you know, the big-mouthed braggarts, seeming psychopaths, distracted academics and social miscreants who job it is the get the actual mission work done. This is not to say that these 'front-persons' aren't sometimes just as knowledgeable or dangerous as the rest of the mission team, just that they are better at concealing it from prospective clientele.


Image credit: lian-blackdream via deviantart

A good negotiator should be polite, well-mannered and comfortable in formal clothing. A good appearance is important to a good first impression and missions team have been known to either sink or swim based on only their front-person's abilities. A high Charisma (CHR) is a plus!

A Negotiator's skills consist of the following:

  • Etiquette (BRN): This is the same as the Robot Program ‘Etiquette’ found in the X-PLORERS rule book, page 14.
  • Lie (CHR): The ability to lie convincingly. The more outrageous the lie more difficult it is to believe, the referee can apply a suitable penalty, but conversely some props or forged proof can improve a lie's chance at succeeding, start waving those important looking (but fake) papers around. This skill is also used when trying to detect when someone is lying to you. Obviously you need to be able to speak the local language in order to be able to lie in it.
  • Persuade (CHR): One of the primary arts of the Negotiator is to talk his target around to his way of thinking. Persuade is the skill the negotiator uses to get an alien to sign on the dotted line, to put down that nasty looking ray gun or to give them a lift to the nearest starport. It can be used to talk someone out of a fear-striken panic or a beserker rage or to extract useful information from them. Obviously if an alien is hostile there will be a penalty, but a befriended alien might be more ameanable. Again you have to speak an alien's language (or it yours) before you can persade them of anything.
    In space combat the crew can choose to negotiate each round. Before initiative is thrown the Negotiator can contact their attackers and use his Lie or Persuade skill to prevent conflict. The skill roll must be made for each hostile ship. The Negotiator can add bonuses to his skill roll (up to +4), but they are deducted from the players' initiative roll for that combat round, so he'd better have a pretty convincing story, argument or threat ready. Of course if the players decide to blow the opposition into small pieces of green goo from the start then all the Negotiator can do during a battle is hang on and hope for the best.
  • An elective skill selected from any of the other classes available in the game.

Of course, if a Negotiator has an elective skill that is applicable in space combat he or she could fill that role.

Next up, a new alien creature - unless you spend a lot of time in dungeons, in which case you will no doubt recognize our creepy-crawler.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Introducing the Espionteur

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Much as in the case of the Physician class, this class, whose skill-set is taken directly from the existing rules, is meant to fill a hole created by my redefining of the Scout into the Spacer. When I did that, I removed the established thief, er, rogue class and associated skill-set from the table. To correct this situation I present my replacement, a professional break-and-enterer, sometimes-for-hire, the Espionteur...

In the course of executing their mission objectives a missions team will frequently need access to areas normally considered restricted, which is fine when your employer grants the team the necessary access, but what about when they haven't or the mission actually has the team working against such restrictions? Enter the Espionteur, whose specialty is getting into places that others want sophonts kept out of!


Image source ConceptArt.Org

Under the right conditions, and let's face it - almost every mission presents these kinds of conditions - an expert Espionteur can be worth his weight in platinum. Bypassing security systems (including automated defenses and traps), opening locked doors, drawers and vaults and releasing restricted computer access are just a few of the services an Espionteur provides to a mission team. Including an Espionteur won't remove all the difficulties of a mission, but their do make life easier for the mission team that does!

An Espionteur's skills consist of the following:

  • Intrusion (BRN): This is the same as the Scout Skill 'Security' found in the X-PLORERS rule book, page 8.
  • Sleight of Hand (QKN): This is the same as the Scout Skill 'Sleight of Hand' found in the X-PLORERS rule book, page 8.
  • Stealth (QKN): This is the same as the Scout Skill 'Stealth' found in the X-PLORERS rule book, page 8.
  • An elective skill selected from any of the other classes available in the game.

Image source Writeups.Org
Yes, it's true, I invented the word Espionteur.  I wanted something suggestive of spying (espionage) and other elicit activities (say, saboteur) without coming right out and saying 'Thief' so, I mashed those two terms together and came up with Espionteur.  Gets the job done and I like it.

Up next, another new class, borrowed by a forum post by Stibbons.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Introducing the Psionicist

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This WAS supposed to get up yesterday; the plans of mice and men, no?  The inclusion of psionics in the X-PLORERS rpg is great, something I always felt was missing from STAR FRONTIERS and certain other sci-fi games. But for the kind of game I'm looking to run handing them out as an additional benefit to every character that qualifies puts the wrong emphasis on those abilities. Once - in a game context, of course - psionic abilities are discovered to be real, the effort and focus to first develop and then grow those abilities would leave, in my mind at least, little time for other things like pursuing an unrelated career. So I see the psionic character as a class unto itself.

Psionically gifted individuals (any character with a Charisma [CHR] of 13 or greater should consult page 32 of the Brave Halfling Publishing core book for rules to determine if your character is actually psionic) may receive training at either governmental or civic facilities. Commonwealth training is tuition-free  but requires the character submit to a manditory term of Commonwealth Service that still confers full citizenship and the political franchise at it's fulfillment.  Additionally, Telepaths in Commonweaslth Service are automatically bonded upon completion of their duty term.  Civic institutions may require study of the character's ability or contract work on behalf of that facility in addition to their tuition.  Tuitions can frequently be paid for by a work-study program.


Image source XCOM

A trained Psionicist can be an incredibly useful asset to any mission team, whether its enhanced physical performance of Awareness or remote manipulation of Telekinesis or even the unreliable insight that can be gained by Visions.  Their para-normal abilities can level the playing field or even provide a definite advantage to a team on the most difficult missions.

A Psionicist's initial skill is...

  • Determined randomly according to the Psionics and Other Weirdness chapter of the X-PLORERS rules.
  • In addition the Psionicist may select an elective skill from any of the other classes available in the game.
  • At Level 5 a second psionic ability is determined, either randomly as with the character's initial ability or in co-operation with the GM based on that character's history within the campaign.

A Psionicist doesn't have quite the same repertoire of skills as their more mundane counterparts but having access to their psionic abilities can make them more versatile.

Next up, another optional class!

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Uplifted Gorillas

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Imagine my surprise, when not one of my players was interested in using any of the various alien species I'd already outlined for the campaign. So I had to come up with something else right quick. It goes without saying that this new species now comprises more than half my current crew...

Image credit: ScaryBoy via Blogger

Commonwealth law bans the use of humanity's understanding of genetics and the basis of cognitive functions to "raise to an artificial state of sentience, attained by design rather than by the natural course, non-sentient life of any stripe". So the 'uplift' program discovered on Kappa Trianguli d with a sustainable uplifted gorilla population was without legal precedent. Fortunately for the uplifted gorillas the Commonwealth Parliament voted that, unlike the scientists who'd created them, the new sophonts weren't liable under the law and further granted them full status as fellow Terran sapients. The problem has been getting acceptance from the general populace. The truth is most humans are frightened of the hulking Great Apes, being naturally intimidated by their fearsome countenances and powerfully frames. Many humans have done their best to work alongside their new companions, but even in the best cases there is still the unspoken knowledge between the two species that the uplifted gorillas are unnatural.

Uplifted gorillas cannot be Psionicists. Uplifted gorillas cannot swim due to their lack of body fat and almost all suffer some degree of fear of deep water. Unfortunately, uplifted gorillas are subject to prejudice in Commonwealth space as they are the result of illegal experimentation.

Attribute Adjustments
Uplifted gorillas are physically very powerful, receiving a +2 bonus to BRW. Prejudice in Commonwealth space makes them somewhat surly and unfriendly to other sapients; as a result their CHR suffers a -2 penalty.

Uplifted gorillas may brachiate at their normal speed, or may increase their speed by +2 meters per turn by walking on all fours (Knucklewalking) Uplifted gorillas have twice the reach of humans. Despite the prejudice they experience, uplifted gorillas have full rights and privileges under Commonwealth law. An uplifted gorilla hits or bites in unarmed melee for 1d6 damage.

And here's the Uplifted Gorillas as NPCs.  Please note that I've added MR (Morale) to my NPC listings; this and the NPC Reaction Table were lifted straight out of Basic and Expert D&D.

Uplifted Gorillas (NPC)
AC 14, HD 4d6, THB +4, ATT by weapon or 1d6 Punch or Bite, MR 8, ST 15, MV 4, SPC Optional Movement (Brachiatation at normal speed, Knucklewalk at +2), XP 180

Image credit Rubbish Monkey via Art Is Good

Up next, one of my optional classes.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Déjà View

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Activity here has fallen off due to an increased workload caused by the Great 'Windows XP Expiration', whose deadline hurtles toward us even now. But it's been too long without a post, so I'll hit this one out despite the fact that I'd originally planned on posting it later. As promised though this one does reveal some of the workings of my game universe.

Please note that this item is not written by me; I'd like to thank +Steve Zieser and +John Adams for their kind permission to allow me to re-host Steve's article.

Spacefaring in the Reaches: Warpjacking
Image credit Seth Pritchard via

In the storied history of the Reaches, multiple methods for creating the space "warp" that allows a spaceship propel itself hundreds of parsecs through the void in the space of a thought have been invented. The most popular and trusted method, though, has been the Continuous Magnetotron Spin Drive, a design which drives the tiniest space fighters to the most gargantuan robotic freighters that ply the spacelanes.
The use of the drive is simple. A starship sets its course to its destination. The power plant of the vessel then begins a slow transfer to power to the drive core, which begins to "spin up" the drive itself. (Note: No parts of the drive actually spin; "spin" is a term used by warp physicists to explain the motion of space/time generated by the drive) When the drive accumulates enough energy and spin, a warp in space in generated and the ship is carried along by its "wake" to the destination point, where the warp dissipates.
The warp in space that a CMS drive creates extends in a sphere for several meters around the jumping ship. Clever and disreputable pilots can take advantage of this by bringing in their much smaller vessel into a sensor blindspot within this zone while the jumping ship is spinning up its drive. Then, the smaller "warpjacker" opens the accumulators in his own CMS drive, but puts no power into it from his power plant. The warping space around the "host" vessel causes the drive in the smaller ship to spin up. Both ships enter warp. Because warp physics maintains that a smaller warp field cannot exist within a larger, the smaller field is "pushed "out of the larger field, allowing the smaller ship to emerge from warp at a completely different destination than the host vessel.
Warp jacking is a plague to large shipping companies and independent operators alike, and carries heavy criminal penalties throughout the Reaches. Without careful monitoring of the power input during spin up, these ships may take on warp jacking ships and end up using so much power that the host vessel exits warp light days or light years away from its destination with a depleted power core. This makes warp jacking a favorite tactic of pirates preying on large, automated freighters. The pirate warp jacks a large freighter and then later backtracks its course to pick off the helpless prize. Because of this, large ships often equip themselves with multiple sensors and gun ports to deter this type of action.
A pilot attempting to warpjack a ship must be piloting a craft at least 2 size classes smaller. The pilot makes an opposed roll with the Sensor operator of the larger ship using the Computers skill. If the pilot wins, he may warpjack the larger ship to the destination of his choice. If the Sensor operator wins, the pilot making the attempt is detected and a combat immediately ensues. Start this combat with the warpjacker 1 range band away.
Up next, a new, campaign-specific PC race.

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