Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Again learning to code in Python...



I've resumed my study of Python programming, this time using Codeacademy, a free online study service for various programming languages. The lessons are very simple, and I will have to practice them outside of Codeacademy as well as within it, but coding is great fun, and will probably be very helpful for me in my future career as an information professional... Also, this will eventually allow me to return to writing various Classic Traveller scripts and programs. I recommend Python and Codeacademy to all beginning programmers and even laymen who want to learn how to code.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Monster Monday: Giant Cockroaches for SWN - and the Dreaded Balroach!

Well, this is the Space Cockroach's Hideout, isn't it? So how about some unrealistically large roaches for your Stars Without Number gaming needs?


Giant Cockroach
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1
Attack Bonus: +2
Damage: 1d4
No. Appearing: 4d6
Saving Throw:  15+ (but see below)
Movement: 20m

Morale: 7


The Giant Cockroach is a giant - and particularly disgusting - version of the common cockroach, reaching up to 60cm in length not including antennae (which add another 30cm!) and weighting about 20 kilograms. While giant cockroaches feed on trash and other smelly substances found in sewers and not on flesh, and are cowardly insects to boot, they will fight to defend their nests and territories, and may stage an opportunistic attack on weak adventurers. Note that while a giant cockroach has a relatively weak saving throw (as given above), it saves on 10+ vs. toxins, diseases and radiation.


Balroach
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 6
Attack Bonus: +6
Damage: 1d8
No. Appearing: 1d6
Saving Throw:  13+ (but see below)
Movement: 20m
Morale: 9

The Dreaded Balroach is a horribly nauseating cockroach larger than a horse. While it is an omnivore and scavenger rather than a predator, it will fiercely defend its lair and may see weak adventurers as food. Its horrid appearance and unsightly behavior make it a menace whenever it emerges from its sewerly warrens to scavenge in the dwellings of humanity! The Balroach is immune to almost all toxins and diseases as well as to most dosages of radiation except for extremely high doses.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Monster Monday - Tentacled Worm for Classic Traveller

Tentacled Worm
Intimidator, Solitary or Pack (1d6), 200kg, hits 20/9, as Mesh, Teeth (3D damage) and special (see below), 4D, A5, F7, S2

Like many life-forms native to the arid, cold, dusty homeworld somewhere beyond the Spinward Marches, the Tentacled Worm is exceedingly hardy and exhibits both insectoid and mollusk characteristics. This xenomorph is the apex scavenger of its homeworld, eating anything and everything, but rarely actively hunting. It prefers its meals dead, though it might act as an opportunistic predator if it detects easy prey. Since it can feed on virtually anything organic and biologically compatible with humans, the Tentacled Worm quickly found its way to the trash-dumps and sewers of many worlds, its eggs inadvertently carried by many a merchant ship to different worlds. This creature looks like a combination between a grub and a cephalopod, 3 meters long and standing a meter high, with multiple legs carrying its weight and many tentacles surrounding its mouth.

The Tentacled Worm has two attacks which it may use in the same round: slapping its prey with its poisoned tentacles, or biting with its many sharp mouth-parts. The tentacles cause no damage, but on a successful hit, the victim must roll 8+ or be paralyzed by its venom for 1d6 rounds. The bite itself is handled as a normal "teeth" attack. It also enjoys a keen sense of smell used to located food, and any party attempting to surprise it rolls at a -2 DM. Note that this sense of smell does not usually allow it to detect non-organic targets.

Review: Atarin's Delve

Product's Name: Atarin's Delve
Ruleset: Labyrinth Lord
Author: Peter C. Spahn
Size: 15 pages
Publisher: Small Niche Games
Price: $1.49
Rating: 4/5

Here I'll start a new feature of my blog - RPG and wargame product reviews. And I'll start with several products kindly set to me by Peter C. Spahn of Small Niche Games a year or so ago, that I am ashamed to say that I've only gotten around to properly read and review them now due to various forms of real-life work commitment.

Anyhow, on to the review.

Atarin's Delve is a short, one-level dungeon adventure for Labyrinth Lord (and, indeed, any old-school fantasy RPG, and pretty easy to convert to D&D 5E as well). It is intended for 4-6 characters of levels 1-3 - a beginner's adventure. The players are sent by an adventurer's guild to protect an archaeological excavation which has just begun in some strange lakeside caves, where very interesting jewelry has been found. Soon enough, the players will find themselves entangled with a dark cult, as well as the sacred caves' initial residents, who have hibernated there for centuries in rock form.

The story goes like this: a race of fish-like humanoids, the Cathla, once held these caves sacred and lived in and around them; when humans first entered the area, they clashed with the Cathla, who drove them off with water magic after some fierce fighting. However, the humans returned with a mage, who transmuted the water in the Cathla sleeping chamber into stone during their hibernation cycle, placing them in a dormant, petrified state. Many years later, a human noble built his castle above these caves, and breached the caves in excavations for his cellar; soon, he became obsessed with the Cathla civilization and their water-goddess, and founded a cult worshiping her (in human form, of course). Long after his death, the cult lingered on, but a new initiate stole Cathla jewelry from the caves and brought it back to civilization, attracting an archaeologist to come and investigate the caves. The archaeologist entered the cave, and, while excavating, re-awakened the dormant Cathla, who then proceeded to slaughter his apprentices and trap him in the cave. The cultists themselves are on the move to the cave, and the Cathla have killed some of them as well... So the arriving PCs will find themselves dealing with this disaster zone when they arrive at the caves.

The adventure itself takes place in a single-level dungeon with 15 keyed locations. There are two entry points, and the dungeon combined original or natural Cathla caverns with later human construction by the cult, so themes and visuals will vary. All areas have interesting descriptions, though many lack monsters or treasure (a good thing to a degree - not everything in a dungeon should be a 'proper' Encounter - but large parts of the dungeon are "color" or "atmosphere" rooms). The dungeon is not very linear and there several routes through it, allowing for interesting exploration. Not all encounters are combat encounters - in fact, the cultists will not attack the characters, and will try to hire them to lead them to safety, and may provide information if properly prodded for it. The monsters themselves are all very appropriate thematically - of the fish/crayfish/lizard/Cathla variety and some undead in a tomb. The Cathla themselves have a very cool special ability and have full Labyrinth Lord stats at the back of the booklet.

There are very few treasure items in the dungeon, so the typical party will end up being paid by the cultists and/or the archaeologists to be led back to safety, and the payment is very nice for 1st-level characters - 500gp. BUT there is a hidden treasure - a big silver statute worth 1,500gp! It is hidden behind a secret door, so careless characters might miss it, though it appears that the secret door is of the ordinary type (i.e. no special mechanism given in the rules).

All in all, this is a very good little dungeon delve - very "tight" thematically speaking with no "funhouse" elements, non-linear and with various special tricks, as well as with role-playing encounters next to the combat ones. The main downside is that there are very few treasures to find (so careful exploration is not necessarily rewarded, except in one place, where it is rewarded big-time), and that some rooms lack things to interact with. But generally speaking, this is a beautiful little dungeon adventure with a slight Lovecraftian bent to it. Highly recommended!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Monster Monday: the Dragon and Flying Eye for Classic Traveller!

Beyond the Frontier... Here Be Dragons! And Eye-Monsters too! With FULL Classic Traveller rules and stats to boot!

Dragon
Flying Killer, 800kg, hits 31/12 , as Cloth, Teeth+1 (5D damage), Claws+1 (4D damage), as Shotgun (see below) 4D, A3, F9, S3

The Dragon is a large airborne predator native to a Size 5, Atmosphere 8 world far beyond the Frontier. Its fire-breathing capabilities stem from the fact that it could siphon and filter methane from its digestive tract and store it in two large sacks at its belly. The gas is then pumped through its mouth and ignited by a bio-electric spark-generating organ in its thorax. The dragon carries enough methane in its sacks for 5 combat rounds of breathing fire; they will refill after a good meal and 6D6 hours of rest.

Every time a Dragon is hit with an explosive, incendiary or high-energy weapon, roll 9+ for its methane sacks to catch fire, painfully killing the creature by setting it ablaze. Alternatively, a character may attempt to aim directly at these sacks with a DM of -4; on a successful hit when aiming in such a way, any explosive, incendiary or high-energy weapon will set the Dragon on fire. Of course, if all of the methane in the sacks has been used up, ignore these rules.

A dragon's fiery breath uses Shotgun range and armor DMs; like a 'proper' Shotgun, it uses the Group Hits by Shotguns rule (Classic Traveller Book 2 p.42). Additionally, after a hit is scored, the target catches fire on a roll of 8+ and thus continues to take additional 1d6 damage per round until the flames are put out (taking two full combat rounds of dedicated efforts, or one round using a fire extinguisher).

A dragon's skin is strong, scaly and very light. A suit of armor may be made from this skin, requiring a roll of 10+ (DM +Mechanical skill) and 1d6 weeks of work; a failed roll ruins the skin. This armor is similar to Jack Armour in shape and weight, but will provides the protection of Cloth.

Flying Eye
Flying Eater, solitary or pack (1d6), 50kg, 24/12 hits (but see below), as Cloth, Teeth 2D and as Laser Carbines 4D, A1, F8, S1

The Flying Eye looks like a large (2m diameter) warty sphere with one huge central eye and a big, toothy mouth. Around its head, the Flying Eye has 1d6 small (10cm diameter, 60cm long) "eyestalks" and eight tentacles protrude from its lower body, serving as manipulating digits. Most of the Flying Eye's body consists of a huge hydrogen bladder; the gas is a by-product of the creature's digestive process. The hydrogen has two uses: first, it allows the creature to float in the air, and second, the Flying Eye uses this gas to fuel a special organ resembling a hydrogen/oxygen fuel cell. The electricity generated by this organ serves as its main energy source (in other words, the creature is "powered" by bio-electricity). In addition, the Flying Eye can "burn" greater than usual amounts of hydrogen to power up its "eyestalks" - though this procedure tends to eat up its hydrogen reservoir rather quickly.

The "eyestalks" are not eyes - only the central eye serves as a visual organ - but rater natural laser weapons! The Flying Eye may "fire" any or all of its "eyestalks" in one turn and may target one creature per "eye". The "eyestalks" use the range and armor DMs of the Laser Carbine and do 4D damage. However, the Flying Eye's body holds only enough hydrogen to power 2d6 shots in total. To fully "recharge", the Flying Eye must eat a good meal (say, one unfortunate traveller) and digest it for 3d6 hours.

Every time a Flying Eye is hit, roll 8+ for its hydrogen bladder to rupture, killing the creature. However, if any explosive, incendiary or high-energy weapon has ruptured the gas bladder, the hydrogen ignites, "attacking" everything within a 5m radius using the armor DMs or a 40mm RAM grenade, causing 4D damage on a successful hit.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Monday Monster Take 2 - Aboleth and Skum for Classic Traveller!

Hereby I present you with... The Aboleth and its Skum for Classic Traveller! As this is the first Monday of the year, you get the same monster with stats BOTH for SWN (earlier today) AND for Classic Traveller (now)!

Aboleth
Psionic Siren, solitary, 3,200kg, 40/20 hits, as Cloth, "stinger" (actually, tentacles) 8D, A if surprise, F8, S1 (S3 in water)

The Aboleths are old, unfathomable creatures, the product of aeons past, and practically immortal unless slain. They were old when the Ancients were young; they might have been old even when our galaxy formed. Where they came from remains a mystery, as the Aboleths themselves are tight-lipped about their ultimate origin. But as each of them is old, their knowledge is enormous. They spend ages in their underwater lairs, brooding, plotting… With endless patience. A single Aboleth, intelligent beyond the human ability to understand, may be the centerpiece of a massive interstellar conspiracy, spun across the centuries towards an end known only to that alien mastermind.

The Aboleth itself is a revolting, green but pink-bellied, fishlike alien life-form found primarily in subterranean lakes and rivers, or deep beneath the oceans on remote worlds. Four pulsating blue-black orifices line the bottom of its body and secrete gray slime smelling like rancid grease; it has four long tentacles used for grabbing, whipping and manipulating objects. It uses its tail for propulsion in the water and drags itself along with its tentacles on land. An Aboleth weighs slightly more than 3 metric tons.

An Aboleth in combat utilizes its vast alien mind, as well as its watery lair, to its advantage. First, three times a day, it may Enslave a sentient creature; the victim must roll 8+ (DM +2 if INT A+), or become the Aboleth's mental thrall, fully under the creature's command. An Enslaved creature obeys the Aboleth’s telepathic commands until the Aboleth is killed, and can attempt a new 8+ roll (DM +2 if INT A+) every 24 hours to break free. The control is also broken if the Aboleth dies or travels more than 1 kilometer from its slave. An Aboleth may also use the Life Detection, Telempathy, Read Surface Thoughts, Send Thoughts, Probe and Shield powers of the Telepathy psionic talent at will, as if it has an infinite store of Psionic Strength points at hand.

A blow from an Aboleth’s tentacle might cause a terrible affliction due to the unique symbiotic bacteria and fungi who inhabit its skin and mucus glands. A creature hit by such a tentacle must roll 8+ (DM +2 if END 8+) or begin to transform over the next 1d6 minutes, his or her skin gradually becoming a clear, slimy membrane as it is digested by the microbes. An afflicted creature must remain moistened with cool, fresh water or take 1d6 points of damage every 10 minutes. The slime gives any creature attacking the victim a +1 DM to hit him or her. If treated before the transformation is complete by a character with Medic-3 or better and appropriate supplies (such as a medikit), the process may be reverted. Once completed, only a TL13+ hospital may cure the victim.

An Aboleth underwater surrounds itself with a viscous cloud of bacteria-rich mucus, roughly 30cm thick. Any creature coming into contact with and ingesting this substance must roll 8+ (DM +2 if END 8+) or lose the ability to breathe air for the next 3 hours due to acute microbiological infection. An affected creature suffocates in 2d6 minutes if removed from the water. Renewed contact with the mucus cloud and failing another roll of the same kind continues the effect for another 3 hours. This effect may be removed by a character with Medic-3 or better and appropriate supplies (such as a medikit).


Skum
Hunter, pack (2d6), 100kg, 18/7 hits, as Jack, Claws 1D and Teeth 2D or by weapon, A3, F9, S2

Many Aboleths breed Skum from their human captives - revolting fish-amphibian-like humanoids, who serve as their hand, ears and eyes outside their watery lair. They are produced by immersing a human or humanoid alien in Aboleth-secreted microbe-rich mucus for several days, as well as possible psychic brainwashing. These creatures possess a slimy skin, and may breath indefinitely both under and outside of water. While sometimes armed with weapons, they also possess a powerful bite, as well as sharp claws. Skum lack much organization or willpower of their own, and show little initiative, but will fight to the death to protect their masters. Their presence usually signifies the existence of an Aboleth lair in the vicinity. No way has been devised yet to transform a Skum back into a human being.

Monday Monster - Aboleth and Skum

Hereby I present you with... The Aboleth and its Skum for Stars Without Number!

Aboleth
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 8
Attack Bonus: +8/+8/+8/+8
Damage: 1d6/1d6/1d6/1d6 (tentacles); also special
No. Appearing: solitary
Saving Throw:  11+
Movement: 5m (land) or 30m (water)
Morale: 9

The Aboleths are old, unfathomable creatures, the product of aeons past, and practically immortal unless slain. They were old when the stars were young; they might have been old even when our galaxy has formed. Where they came from remains a mystery, as the Aboleths themselves are tight-lipped about their ultimate origin. But as each of them is old, their knowledge is enormous. They spend ages in their underwater lairs, brooding, plotting… With endless patience. A single Aboleth, intelligent beyond the human ability to understand, may be the centerpiece of a massive interstellar conspiracy, spun across the centuries towards an end known only to that alien mastermind.

The Aboleth itself is a revolting, green but pink-bellied, fishlike alien found primarily in subterranean lakes and rivers, or deep beneath the oceans on remote worlds. Four pulsating blue-black orifices line the bottom of its body and secrete gray slime smelling like rancid grease; it has four long tentacles used for grabbing, whipping and manipulating objects. It uses its tail for propulsion in the water and drags itself along with its tentacles on land. An Aboleth weighs about 3 metric tons.

An Aboleth in combat utilizes its vast alien mind, as well as its watery lair, to its advantage. First, three times a day, it may Enslave a sentient creature; the victim must save vs. mental effect, or become the Aboleth's mental thrall, fully under the creature's command. An Enslaved creature obeys the Aboleth’s telepathic commands until the Aboleth is killed, and can attempt a new save vs. mental effect every 24 hours to break free. The control is also broken if the Aboleth dies or travels more than 1 mile from its slave. An Aboleth may also use all the powers of the Telepathy discipline, up to and including level 8, at will.

A blow from an Aboleth’s tentacle might cause a terrible affliction due to the unique symbiotic bacteria and fungi who inhabit its skin and mucus glands. A creature hit by such a tentacle must save vs. physical effect or begin to transform over the next 1d4 minutes, his or her skin gradually becoming a clear, slimy membrane as it is digested by the microbes. An afflicted creature must remain moistened with cool, fresh water or take 1d12 points of damage every 10 minutes. The slime increases (i.e. worsens) the creature’s armor class by 1 (but never to more than 9). Use of the Purge Toxin Bio-Psionic power or a Medikit used with a Tech/Medicine roll at difficulty 9 before transformation is complete will restore an afflicted creature to normal. Afterward, however, only Pretech medical science may cure the affliction.

An Aboleth underwater surrounds itself with a viscous cloud of bacteria-rich mucus, roughly 30cm thick. Any creature coming into contact with and ingesting this substance must save vs. physical effect or lose the ability to breathe air for the next 3 hours due to acute microbiological infection. An affected creature suffocates in 2d6 minutes if removed from the water. Renewed contact with the mucus cloud and failing another save vs. Physical Effect continues the effect for another 3 hours. This effect may be removed by the Purge Toxin power or by a successful use of a Medikit with a Tech/Medicine roll at difficulty 9.


Skum
Armor Class: 7 or by armor
Hit Dice: 2+2
Attack Bonus: +3
Damage: 1d6 (bite) / 1d4 (claw) / 1d4 (claw) or by weapon
No. Appearing: brood (1d4+1) or pack (2d6)
Saving Throw: 14+
Movement: 15m (land) or 30m (water)
Morale: 12

Many Aboleths breed Skum from their human captives - revolting fish-amphibian-like humanoids, who serve as their hand, ears and eyes outside their watery lair. They are produced by immersing a human or humanoid alien in Abol.eth-secreted microbe-rich mucus for several days, as well as possible psychic brainwashing. These creatures possess a slimy skin, and may breath indefinitely both under and outside of water. While sometimes armed with weapons, they also possess a powerful bite, as well as sharp claws. Skum lack much organization or willpower of their own, and show little initiative, but will fight to the death to protect their masters. Their presence usually signifies the existence of an Aboleth lair in the vicinity. No way has been devised yet to transform a Skum back into a human being.