Monday, November 12, 2018

Preview: Cepheus Light - Traits

Our first new supplement for our Cepheus Light rules is Cepheus Light - Traits. This supplement allows further (optional, of course) character customization without over-encumbering the rules or over-powering the characters.

Under these rules, characters gain Traits – focused abilities and areas of training which only partially – if at all – overlap with skills or characteristics. A character has one Trait per 4 total skill levels (rounded up); for example, a character possessing 7 total skill levels will have 2 Traits. If using the optional experience rules in Cepheus Light, character gain new Traits according to their new total skill points; for example, a character raising their total skill points from 8 to 9 gains an additional Trait. 

Any character may choose any Trait they meet the perquisites for. 

Some Traits use a "throw 3D and pick the higher two" mechanic. For example, if you throw three dice and get a roll of 2, 3, and 5, your result will be 8 (3+5), as the 2 is discarded.

The booklet will include 50 Traits.

Below are a few sample Traits:

Perquisite: Melee Combat skill 

The character knows how to hit weak spots in the enemy's armor in melee combat. 

When attacking in melee, if the to-hit throw's Effect is +6 or better, ignore the target's armor.

Latent Psion 
Perquisite: None 

The character has untrained psionic abilities (see Cepheus Light's Appendix A: Aliens and Psionics). 
Untrained, the character has 1 PSI point and one of the following powers: Enhanced Characteristic, Sense, Lift 1 gram, Life Detection, or Blink. The PSI point regenerates after a night's sleep, as usual. Psionic drugs affect the character as usual and allow more frequent use of their powers
Actual psionic training allows the character to roll a normal PSI characteristic and additional powers.

Perquisite: Medicine skill 

The character is a specialized surgeon.
When treating a seriously wounded character, the surgeon may throw Medicine 6+ to reduce recovery time from 5D days to 2D days. 

If using the Trauma Surgery rules (available for free from Stellagama Publishing) the surgeon throws 3D and picks the highest two when throwing for such a surgery. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Cepheus Light

Stellagama Publishing is PROUD to present:


Starships riding fire across the sky. Heroes and villains exchanging laser fire. Desperate spacers struggling against an alien monstrosity. Vast alien vistas, flying cities, moonscapes, mad robots, and first encounters. In short: high-action science-fiction adventure that stimulates your sense of wonder. Cepheus Light puts you in the shoes of an adventurer visiting distant stars and encountering untold alien wonders. Whether you are a seasoned player looking for a rules-light game, or a new gamer wanting to experience what science-fiction role-playing games are all about, Cepheus Light opens your way forward.

Cepheus Light is a set of rules for playing classic science fiction games. It includes rules on creating characters, resolving actions, fighting other creatures, and engaging in space battles, generating worlds, handling the risks of interstellar speculative trading, exploring new worlds, and many other activities. While rules-light and designed for fast, action-packed play rather than an accurate simulation of reality, Cepheus Light encompasses a wide variety of rules and materials for building a science-fiction universe and playing in it.

Cepheus Light draws its inspiration from old-school science-fiction roleplaying games. It shares a lot of similarities with these games. Material from older rules sets and those created with Cepheus Light, the Cepheus Engine Core, and old-school sci-fi roleplaying games are easily compatible with only a moderate amount of adjustment.

The future awaits!

Compatible with the Cepheus Engine System Reference Document and other OGL 2D6 Sci Fi games.

Get it HERE!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Piracy and Privateering


Stellagama Publishing proudly presents:


Pirates are the scourge of the space-lanes. Cutthroats, bandits, and scum, they are enemies to all humanity. Captured pirates can expect no mercy: only grim justice for their heinous crimes. Despite the risks, this book encourages science fiction roleplayers—Gamemasters and players alike—to embrace their inner space pirate, and set forth to the stars to carve a bloody swath across the galaxy!

Piracy and Privateering is a system-neutral sourcebook to help gamemasters run complete space pirate campaigns. In it, you will find guidelines for setting up a piracy or privateering sandbox campaign. There are fully developed encounter rules for figuring out which poor unfortunate souls have crossed paths with terrible player character pirates. We have also included system-neutral rules for fleshing out encounters with ships, space stations, and other unexpected sources of adventure. There are rules for selling ill-gotten booty, for splitting up crew shares, and for holding privateer courts. We have included examples of the economics of piracy and privateering, as well as sample encounter tables for two systems. There are over a dozen NPCs for GMs to use as pirate crewmembers, merchant captains, or pirate-hunting naval officers. Finally, we’ve included eight adventure seeds to help kick off space piracy and privateering campaigns!

So, strap on your boarding cutlass and laser pistol, raise the black flag, and start a campaign of plunder and riches! After all, haven’t you always wanted to be a space pirate?

Piracy and Privateering is compatible with most game systems, including the Original 2d6 OGL Science Fiction rules, Cepheus Engine, and Stars Without Number.

Get it HERE!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Hard Space rocket engine types

Artwork by Philippe Bouchet AKA "Manchu"
for Robert Heinlein's Time For the Stars
Torchship "Lewis & Clark"
I have decided to make interplanetary travel in Hard Space more nuanced than I have originally thought.

So we now have three types of rocket engines used in this setting:

1) Fusion torches. Used by starships and fast interplanetary ships. Can maintain constant acceleration/deceleration at high G (typically 1-G). Highly destructive exhaust. Ships with fusion torches use chemical thrusters for fine maneuvering (such as docking) where a fusion torch would be too dangerous. Such ships do not land, at least not in most cases but can "dock" with smaller asteroids. Unobtanium (i.e. physically possible but we don't know how to build them yet) but not handwavium (unlike J-Drives).

Note that the fusion torch is not a fusion power plant; in fact, torchships ships carry fission reactors for their energy needs (especially when the rocket is turned off). Controlled, contained fusion reactors are massive planetside affairs, to large and heavy to include in a starship.

2) Closed-cycle gas-core fission rockets ("Nuclear Lightbulbs"). Used by slower interplanetary craft and interface craft not intended for atmospheric use. Much safer than fusion torches while providing significantly better performance and endurance than chemical rockets. Such ships can land on airless worlds if they have a standard - rather than distributed - hull. However, still unsafe to use in an atmosphere due to the risk of radioactive gas leakage in case of accident or combat hits; thus, used for airless worlds where everything is sealed and radiation-shielded anyway. Realistic.

3) Chemical rockets. Used almost exclusively by atmospheric craft, as well as for fine maneuvering on ships with fusion (or even fission?) rockets. Inefficient but safe. Can land anywhere if they have a streamlined hull and can fly like an airplane in an atmosphere if they have a lifting body. Realistic.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Hard Space - Colonial Commerce Commission and Infinite Stars Cooperative

In a previous post, I have detailed the Trading Blocs, the Earthbound polities, of my Hard Space setting. In this post, I'll detail two international and interstellar organizations, the Colonial Commerce Commission (C3) and the Infinite Stars Cooperative (ISC).

Colonial Commerce Commission (C3)
The Interstellar Agreements on Colonial Commerce (IACC), signed in 2072 by the Big Four corporations and the three Trading Blocs. IACC set basic ground rules for extrasolar colonization and commerce, banned overt piracy and claim-jumping, and established the Colonial Commerce Commission (C3). The latter began as an inter-corporation arbitration body but grew to a framework of extrasolar corporate governance. It is not a government, as it does not truly govern individual citizens and holds no armed forces of its own. Rather, C3 is a system operating to serve the common interests of the Big Four and the three Trading Blocks - open commerce, avoidance of overt large-scale warfare, and preservation of the corporate order of things. C3's executive body, the Presidium, holds seven representatives - one from each Big Four megacorporation and one from each Trading Block, giving the corporations, as a group, a majority.

As part of the IACC, to facilitate trade, C3 also issues and regulates the common currency, the Credit, agreed upon and used by all corporations and governments.

Each official colony has a C3 representative, situated in its starport. The representative's job is to ensure compliance with the IACC by local corporations and authorities, handle complaints for such violations, and more than anything else - serve as a neutral mediator and arbitrator in local corporate negotiations and disputes. Getting on the representative's good side is highly useful for travellers, as such an individual and their staff often hold intimate knowledge of local corporate affairs, intrigue, and "job" oppotunities.

Infinite Stars Cooperative (ISC)
Starting as a loose professional association of deep-space explorers during the Second Generation of interstellar colonization, the Infinite Stars Cooperative grew to a tightly-knit quasi-corporation offering survey and courier services. In return for hiring its services rather than those of freelancers, the ISC guarantees professional exploration and secure courier services. Those who join the ISC begin as ISC employees. Those who survive several terms of dangerous exploration - the number changes from case to case - become ISC members and shareholders. Such members may receive their own "detached" scout craft and may operate as autonomous (virtually "independent") ISC agents. However, no one ever truly leaves ISC, and the Cooperative may reactivate a "detached" member at any time, or - more often - give such members special missions on behalf of the Cooperative.

The ISC "encourages" freelance explorers to join it, or at least pay a fee as "honorary members". This allows better job opportunities with the corporations, as well as preferred rescue operations in case of being stranded on the frontier. Rumors of "accidents" happening to non-compliant explorers have never been proven. The same goes to rumors about smuggling operations, and more than anything else - conspiracy theories, common on the internets, claiming that ISC has its own covert operations branch tackling supernatural and technological threats.

ISC also has the primary spacer journal, Infinite Stars*. It manages the Explorers' Society - which is open to non-members as well. This allows investment in the ISC by third parties. You can get into the Society if you pay the initial investment, or when a corporation of government pays for you. You then get the return on your investment in form of starship passage tickets.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Lovecraftian Magic in Traveller and the Cepheus Engine - Initial Thoughts

I am developing my own Lovecraftian magic system for use in Traveller and the Cepheus Engine. This will be especially useful with my Hard Space near-future, near-Earth Lovecraftian setting.

In a nutshell, under this system, anybody can attempt to learn spells by studying Mythos tomes; anybody can attempt to cast any spell. And there are no spell points or "hard" daily "spell slots".


  1. Learning spells has a Sanity cost. So does studying the tomes to begin with. Learning also requires an INT throw to successfully learn; failure means you need to repeat studying it, again - with a Sanity cost. The more powerful the spell, the harder the INT throw to learn it.
  1. Spells take time to cast; in many cases, hours. "Combat" spells, which are often weaker, usually take two full combat rounds to cast, and concentration might be broken if the sorcerer received damage while casting the spell.
  1. Spellcasting requires an Occult skill throw. Fail or roll "snake eyes" (there is no automatic success in spellcasting), you'll get the spell's integral "miscast" result. The stronger the spell - the nastier the miscast.
  1. The really powerful spells damage your Sanity on failure and/or on success (Commune with Cthulhu at your own peril!). So you can technically attempt to cast any number of spells a day as you'd like, and a totally clueless layman can try to learn and cast magic (with the usual DM-3 Unskilled Penalty), but the limiting factor is the risk you're taking (a very, very powerful limiting factor), as well as casting time. Cast as many times as you dare and as the casting time allows you - at your own peril!

Yes, this means that even skilled sorcerers will sometimes fail in spellcasting - at least once in every 36 spells (on average - the chance of "snake eyes"). This is H.P. Lovecraft's legacy we're talking about here - not Dungeons & Dragons. Sorcerers do not cast powerful magic casually. They may use weak spells more often, as the risks of failure for them might be bearable, but no no one takes powerful summoning and necromantic magic lightly.

This, of course, leads to all sorts of sorcerous disasters (read: adventures), as - for example - some utterly unskilled fool is just bound to try casting that 6th Circle earth-shattering summoning spell, unleashing something horrid upon the local colony!

The above were just initial thoughts and ramblings. I'll write up a more coherent magic system later on.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Hard Space: the Trading Blocs

So far I have detailed many aspects of my Hard Space setting for Classic Traveller and the Cepheus Engine, from spaceflight to history. Now it is time to detail the political "big picture" - the Trading Blocs. The next blog post will detail the Fig Four corporations, as well as the Colonial Commerce Commission and the Infinite Stars Cooperative.

Following WWIII, nation-states were too discredited and bankrupt to function individually. Furthermore, they had great trouble retaining much of their former territories. To maintain a semblance of governance, they banded together, signing trade agreements and aligning themselves with the rising corporate powers. These supra-national government entities are called Trading Blocs. Each Bloc is an economic entity first and political entity second; the Trading Blocs map to their backing corporations. On Earth, this is a corporate-government partnership. Off-world, the Trading Bloc is little more than a flag of convenience.

United Nations (UN): The original United Nations collapsed with the first shots of WWIII in 2038 and officially disbanded in 2043. However, once the war was over, China, Russia, and India reestablished the UN, at least in name. With backing from the gigantic Zhang-Markov Industries, the UN soon expanded, first to Brazil and South Africa, and later to encompass most of Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of South America. They extended invitations to the (formerly) developed nations of North America and Asia to join them, but it was clear to these nations that the UN is firmly in the hands of their old wartime rivals, and thus they refused, forming their own competing Trading Blocs instead. The UN claims much of the world's territory as its own, as noted above, but only holds tenuous control over much of inland China, Siberia, and the recovering South-East Asian jungles. It also claims the Levant as its own, but holds no power there, despite repeated attempts to force its political will on it.

Today, the UN is the most populous of the three Trading Blocs and holds the most territory. It claims to be a democratic regime with equal standing for each member-nation, but the Shanghai Arcology calls the shots (together with the underground Moscow Arcology and the fortified center of New Delhi), and Zhang-Markov calls the shots in the Shanghai Arcology. In space, the UN holds titular claim over the Coreward arm of the Solar Main, with 23 colonies, 15 of then new; it also holds 3 new outposts to the Trailing of Sol.

American Federation (AF): Rising from the destruction of WWIII, the North and Central American markets  began their slow recovery with the support of Iron Star Enterprises. Refusing to join the Russo-Indo-Chinese-controlled UN, the former United States, Canada, and Mexico joined forces economically. They later absorbed the Greenland, Caribbean states, all of Central America, and parts of South America as well. Power rests in the few central arcologies of Eastern North America, especially the Boston and New York arcoblocks. Behind this power lies Iron Star Enterprises, closely followed by the electronics and cybernetics powerhouse of Federated Robotics. The latter is not one of the Big Four but is very close to being the fifth corporation in line. The AF claims the entire North and Central America, as well as parts of South America, as its own but holds weak control outside the arcoblocks, and no control of the vast wastes of the former central and south-central United States. Particularly, despite frequent skirmishes and "police actions", both the Rockies Cantons and the Free Republic of Texas remain firmly outside AF control.

Today, the AF is the smallest Trading Bloc in terms of population and territory. Its federal regime is de jure composed of autonomous states, though the central arcoblocks enjoy the most autonomy, while the smaller urban sprawls, Caribbean islands, and South American states are little but puppets of the larger arcology-states.

International Commonwealth (IC): The European nations, Britain included, came out of WWIII in a bad shape, having much of the ground combat occur on their soil. To recover, they banded together to form their competitor to the UN, called the International Commonwealth (IC). It is de jure an open organization of nations, akin to the old League of Nations or United Nations. In addition to Western and Central Europe, it also includes Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as a number of African countries. De facto, London, Berlin, and Neo-Tokyo set the tone and the rest follows. The IC has good control of Western Europe and Japan, but little control over the Eastern European wreckage and no control at all over the wasted Australian Outback.

Today, the IC is the second largest Trading Bloc in terms of population and territory, after the UN. Like the UN, it claims to represent the interests of Humanity as a whole, and presents itself as a more "enlightened" alternative to it. However, in practice, it represents the interests of the Royal British Interstellar Society (RBIC), United European Minerals (UEM), and their smaller Japanese competitors.

The American Federation and International Commonwealth share the Rimward arm of the Solar Main, with 19 colonies, 13 of them new. They also control 6 new outposts to the Rimward-Trailing of Sol.