Saturday, December 15, 2018

Dark Nebula 2900 AD - The Last Ship from Terra

The last ship from Terra arrived in 2780. A battered merchantman, bearing the telltale marks of laser fire and missile impacts, haphazardly held together by crude frontier repairs. Its hardy crew embarked from Terra in 2762 and slowly traded their way to the Spinward. There they hoped to reach stars less affected by the general collapse of the Rule of Man. Indeed, they found Maadin - with its still-functional economy, cut off from the collapsing 2nd Imperium.

They brought tales of untold horrors closer to the core. Interdependence between well-developed worlds caused mass famine once trade relations broke down. Entire worlds, inhospitable to maintain human life without external shipment of spare parts and supplies died even faster. In the absence of government, pirates and raiders ruled space. Slavery reared its ugly head. World turned upon world in a scramble for dwindling resources. Worlds blamed each other for piracy - in some cases with good reason - and waged wars, destroying their already meager fleets and making way to piracy even further.

The Rule of Man was gone, replaced by Chaos. The merchantman's crew spoke of a dark Night descending upon once-prosperous space. How long will this Night be? Probably very long - as the wounds suffered by Known Space economies will take many decades, or even centuries, to heal. Will anyone ever replace the fallen Imperium with a government of Law and commerce? From the crew's description of dying Imperial-Terran space, this sounded improbably in the foreseeable future.

Regular communications with New Libdis, the titular Dark Nebula Sector Capital, have been intermittent as well, through free traders and the occasional Scout craft. Courier services had collapsed decades ago. Despite the growing Aslan threat, New Libdis has no ships to spare. Neither does it have resources or funds to send to Maadin.

The Rule of Man was dead.

We were on our own.

But it took that battered Terran freighter for us to understand this.

- Klara Semonova (2887). History of the Maadin Confederation, p.12. Confederation Historical Society: Maadin.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Dark Nebula 2900 AD - Ships and Technology

Following my continued interest in the Dark Nebula OTU variant, I was thinking about the setting's technological and space groundwork.

Highest sustainable technology for both Aslan and (local) Solomani is TL11. The Rule of Man reached TL12, but Maadin and Mechane - the most advanced local human worlds - were frontier colonies. Once cut off due to the 2nd Imperium's collapse, they were left to their own devices and had to rely on the less advanced local frontier manufacturing capacities. There is TL12 gear around - but is decades old. The reason I lowered sustainable technology is mainly to make space "topography" matter - at J-2, there are far more "choke points" which you have to pass to reach your enemy, and the Dark Nebula offers such a route as well. At TL12, with J-3, everything becomes easier, too easy in fact, and "topography" matters far less. Without the Dark Nebula, there is only a single J-2 route between the prospective belligerents, so control of the Nebula will allow circumventing defenses and choke-points.

Of course, the Dark Nebula has TL12+ artifacts, sometimes reaching up to TL16. Most in working order as subjective time in the Nebula during its "jump" was quite short. Exploring the nebula is key for rapid technological development, which, in turn, is key for victory in the upcoming wars.

This will probably be a "quasi-small-ship" universe. The Dark Nebula board-game calls for large ships, such as transports capable of carrying an entire ground forces division. However, their number is sharply limited by local production capacities. I will probably use Trillion Credits Squadron for the main combatants. However, apart from the major combatants (quite few in number - you get 40 RUs to start with and a Strike Cruiser costs 10 RUs, for example), everything is below 5000 tons and can use The Traveller Book/Starter Traveller rules. I will check TCS for more details later, but again - no huge fleets of tens of multi-kdton battlecruisers here.

I might use either High Guard or "Expanded" Book 2 for the bigger ships; the "Expansion" allows ships of up to 12,000 tons by logically extending the Book 2 drive table. If this will be sufficient for transporting an armored brigade or an infantry division - I will use this. Otherwise - I will use High Guard.

I'm using High Guard jump drive TLs in this setting: J-1 at TL9-10, J-2 at TL11, and J-3 at TL12.

There are no empty-hex jumps in this setting, again - to maintain space "topography". Also, no "Jump Torpedoes".

Otherwise, expect standard Traveller technology peaking at TL11 outside the Nebula (and up to TL16 inside it) - grav/cars, grav-tanks, fusion reactors small enough to power a vehicle but not compact enough to power personal plasma weapons. Cybernetics exist outside the Nebula but are uncommon; inside the Nebula you can find cyborgs and all sorts of cybertechnology. No AIs or sentient robots outside the Nebula, but one fully sentient (and mad) AI ruling at least one world inside the Dark Nebula itself.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Dark Nebula 2900 AD

I've written much about the Dark Nebula, both in 2014 and in 2018. However, this setting evolved in the meantime, and it is high time to present a coherent, consolidated setting overview. I have also made some changes to the setting, reflected below.

Real-world work constrains permitting, I will continue developing this setting on this blog in the following days and weeks for your enjoyment and for my own (prospective) Solo game.

The Long Night has Come.

The Ziru Sirka, mighty empire of Mankind, ruled the stars for millennia. Suffocated by bureaucracy and drowned in a quagmire of bureaucracy, this magnificent culture was rotten at its heart. Its Terran conquerors, despite their heroic efforts, could not save it from its inevitable doom. Thus the Rule of Man - a bright light among the dark stars - fell into oblivion. Many worlds died in isolation. Others fell prey to raiders, pirates, and slavers. Chaos reigned.

This is the darkest hour of Humanity.

The year is 2900 AD - later generations will call it -1619 Imperial. The 30th Century has just begun. The Long Night reigns for 157 years. The Rule of Man is no more. But on the frontier, far from the worst parts of the collapse, a new candle flickers in the dark. A candle at Maadin, an old colony of the Second Imperium. With its rise from the ashes of the old empire, it built a confederation of nine worlds - the new Maadin Confederation.

However, a new power arose to challenge the scattered human colonies of the Dark Nebula - a young alien species, proud Aslan. Entering the scene five centuries ago, the slowly rose from their homeworld to a union of several worlds - the Aslan Heir ate. Its Trailing expansion, however, encountered human resistance from the various pocket empires of the day, and thus most of its colonial efforts are to the Spinward. Cold peace endures between humans and Aslan, disturbed by brief periods of warfare.

Now, once more, a war is brewing. The Solomani Confederation of Maadin thirsts for resources while the Aslan thirst for land; slow recovery from the initial collapse means that heavier military forces are once again available.

But as the two polities maneuver in preparation for war, the stars of the Dark Nebula, long absent, have reappeared. Now, they are the key for victory - or possibly the doom of both prospective belligerents.

A Note on Canonicity
Dark Nebula is not canon. I repeat: it is not canon in any way. It is vaguely set in the OTU, but in a variant OTU. Specifically, I use material and even CT adventures in a way suiting this particular version of the setting, sometimes in ways which are very different than those of canon. That is, some adventures set in the Solomani Rim, the Spinward Marches, or Foreven are placed on this Dark Nebula map, and so are a few alien species, locations, and artifacts.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Hard Space: Updated Starmap

I have updated the Hard Space map. This reflects my rethinking of the Trading Blocs.

The two veteran players in interstellar colonization are the UN - led by Switzerland, Britain, Russia, and some Asian countries including parts of the devastated China; and the International Commonwealth, which is mostly African and Chinese. The American Federation - where Brazil, Argentina, and the former US hold sway - are latecomers to the interstellar scene. However, they are aggressively expanding into further stars using cutting-edge ships with long-range jump drives.

The default setting is the UN Arm, which is mainly British and Swiss in culture, with some strong elements of Southeast Asian culture as well. The biggest corporations around the UN Arm are the Royal British Interstellar Company (RBIC), the Russo-Chinese Zhang-Markov, and the Swiss biotech giant Sanapharm.

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!