Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lost my Day Job to Cutbacks; Going for some Gaming Work

I am sorry to report that I have lost my day-job, in translation and editing, to cutbacks at the company. As of April 13th, 2014, I'll be without a formal day job, until I'll find a new one. HOWEVER, I am now working on a BIG gaming contract for Autarch, namely Barbarian Conqueror King, a Sci-Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery/Sword & Planet supplement and setting for ACKS (Adventurer Conqueror King System).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Armies' Army 15mm RUSK BTRs have landed!

I'm happy to announce that the four 15mm sci-fi BTRs I have ordered from ArmiesArmy have arrived at the post office today, and they are looking great! Really looking forward to assembling them. They'll serve as transportation for my New Soviet Federation troopers for Tomorrow's War.

Here are א'ם preliminary photos of them:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dragon Ahoy!

The winter is VERY disappointing this year in Israel, and, apart from a week in December, it feels much more like spring than an actual winter. But there are those who enjoy the sunshine, like this Painted Dragon (Stellagama Stellio), who was basking yesterday and today on the rocks near my mother's house in Kiryat Tivon, Israel.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Traveller: Secrets of the Dark Nebula

After posting my Dark Nebula variant on the SFRPG-Discussion Boards, I was asked on these boards by the Evil Doctor Ganymede: "Is there a reason that the planets in the Dark Nebula polity aren't inhabited or named?" So here is the answer, which is pivotal to the back-story of my Dark Nebula variant (i.e. non-canonical) official traveller universe.

Experimental Jump Coils on N3
The 2740's (the distant Third Imperium's calendar speaks of the -1770's) were well within the waning years of the Rule of Man, marked by significant political, economic and social instability. The old, stagnant Imperium, with a thin layer of Terran rule superimposed on it, was going to hell in a handbasket. Soon enough, in 2746, the dreaded Twilight, and, later, the Long Night, would engulf known space, leading to almost two millennia of barbarism and decay.

But instability has its perks. The failing Terran Empire was no longer a coherent government body, and those with connections and a clout could apprehend budgets, resources, even whole worlds, and get away with it in the chaos. Research Unit #72 was one such group of people (in this case, scientists) with clout, and, indeed, they managed to appropriate funds - stolen from the decomposing corpse of the Second Imperium - undreamed of by scientists of more civilized times. With that money, they moved to the deep Spinward-Rimward frontier, to the scantly explored Dark Nebula, to be free from the moral and political constrains of the Core. And there they worked wonders. At least, they tried to.

The Event, as seen from the surface of N3
They tried to develop technologies which will save the failing Rule of Man from its inevitable collapse - artificial intelligence, cybernetics, genetic engineering, and, especially, new technologies for interstellar travel and, theoretically speaking, communications.

The latter technology reached a place that even the great scientists of the Solomani Confederation were unable to replicate, but at a price. On November 3rd, 2747 AD, The Event occurred. Experimental stationary jump coils on the world known today as N3 fired as part of a planned experiment. But they caused an unexpected effect. In an instant, all five star-systems of the Dark Nebula were torn from their place in the Space-Time Continuum, and hurled, through jumpspace (or a similar parallel dimention), as a whole, not in space, but in time. For a whole year, local time, these systems were in limbo - disconnected from our universe. But then they burst back into Real Space - almost three millennia, in Real Space dates, after their disappearance. For that time, the Nebula was a dead zone - an area of space where no solid bodies could be seen, and where anomalies in the Space-Time Continuum endangered any ship entering that space.

In August 5638 AD (1117 Imperial), suddenly the N4 star of the Dark Nebula appeared on the night sky of Taida Na, re-lighting the old cloud (this means they have appeared in real-space a few years before, as it takes the light of N4 a few years to reach Taida Na). Soon enough, rumours have reached both Solomani and Aslan ears that the worlds of the Nebula, hinted upon in legend, are back. And now, their technological treasures are ripe to the plucking, though still ripe with Space-Time Continuum anomalies, mutated animals, crazed survivors and a mad, mad AI.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Tomorrow's War: Mercenary Cyborg Stosstruppen employed by the Czar

The Czar has deep pockets and he hired the best of the best - an expensive German mercenary outfit with extensive augmentations - to combat his NSF foes on the contested world of Novi Stalingrad. These troops are second to none, and are armed to their cyberteeth, but their numbers are small.

Cyborg Stosstruppen Mercenaries Basic Attributes:
Confidence Level: High Confidence.
Supply Quality Level: High.
Overall Tech Level: 3 (2 for vehicles).
On Grid: Yes.
Body Armour: Carapace (2D) w/Exoskeleton
Troop Quality/Morale: D10/D10
Common Unit Attributes: Despised, Physical Augmentations (Active Trauma Treatment Nanites, Skeletal Augmentation)

Cyborg Stosstruppen Machinegun Squad
1x Sergeant w/StG-301 ACR
1x Private w/StG-301 ACR
1x Private w/StG-301 ACR
1x Private w/StG-301 ACR
1x Private w/MG-299 Gauss SAW (TL3 GWS, Lt. AP:2)
1x Armoured Car (with its own Driver and Gunner who do not dismount)

Cyborg Stosstruppen Flamethrower Squad
1x Sergeant w/StG-301 ACR
1x Private w/StG-301 ACR
1x Private w/StG-301 ACR
1x Private w/StG-301 ACR
1x Private w/Flamethrower
1x Armoured Car (with its own Driver and Gunner who do not dismount)

Cyborg Stosstruppen Tank-Hunters
1x Gunner w/Neo-Panzerfaust (TL3 Hvy. AP:3/AT:3 (M))
1x Assistant Gunner/Spotter w/StG-301 ACR

Cyborg Stosstruppen Platoon HQ
1x Lieutenant w/StG-301 ACR
1x Senior Sergeant w/StG-301 ACR (Forward Observer)
1x Private w/StG-301 ACR
1x Private w/StG-301 ACR
1x Private w/MG-299 Gauss SAW (TL3 GWS, Lt. AP:2)
1x Armoured Car (with its own Driver and Gunner who do not dismount)

Cyborg Stosstruppen Platoon
1x Platoon HQ
2x Machinegun Squads
1x Flamethrower Squad
1x Tank-Hunter Team
2x Lowe Heavy Tanks

Platoon HQ
Flamethrower Squad

Machinegun Squad
Tank Hunters
Armoured Car

Lowe Tank Work-in-Progress

Traveller: Dark Nebula

I have bought the Classic Traveller and JTAS CD-ROMs a few weeks ago, and so far this is an excellent bargain - a huge amount of material for the paltry sum of $35 (plus shipping). This has made me actually interested in the Official Traveller Universe (OTU), or, at least, a variant of it; too much good material to let it pass. On the CT CD there were also the various Traveller boardgames, in PDF format. One of them was Dark Nebula, a proto-traveller war-boardgame with the Solomani (Terran nationalists) set up against the Aslan (felid aliens with a Samurai flavour) over an area of space on the border between these two polities.

The interesting thing is that Dark Nebula presents a version of the Solomani-Aslan border region which is different from future depictions of the OTU Dark Nebula Sector; it is even rotated backwards (in the boardgame, the Solomani are to the Spinward and teh Aslan to the Trailing while in the OTU it is the other way around). It also presented a very interesting area of space.

Turns out that Andy Slack, in his Halfway Station blog, has already made this into a sci-fi setting, using GURPS Traveller and, later on, Savage Worlds and Stars Without Number. His creative application of the setting's features, as well as my discussion with him over his blog's comment system, have gotten my creative juices flowing. Here was an opportunity - a proto-Traveller, quasi-OTU setting ripe for the plucking. On one hand, this is "OTU" - and allows us to use the wealth of material presented by the Classic Traveller and JTAS CD-ROMs; on the other hand, it is non-canonical, so we need not be bound to the stifling limits of Traveller canon.

The Dark Nebula setting is also a perfect sandbox - it has two main polities and several independent worlds, as well as many independent worlds, and distinctions between habitable worlds, non-habitable worlds and systems with no mainworld planets (i.e. asteroid belts). There are enough worlds and enough space for a whole campaign, as Andy Slack has already run there for several years.

So I intend to build this as a potential sandbox as well. Note that my version of the setting is different from Andy Slack's setting, and uses Classic Traveller (CT) as a ruleset; it is set in January 5638 AD (late 1117 Imperial), with the Imperium mentioned only in passing (being very far from the Dark Nebula and a vague version of the MegaTraveller events used as background for the larger scope of things (in this case, Dulinor's coup led to him being Emperor, but some of the Great Houses rebelled and the Solomani used this opportunity of Imperial weakness to launch a lighting attack and liberate the rest of the Solomani Sphere from Imperial control).

Present in my version are mainly Solomani and Aslan humans, as well as two independent pocket-empires usually consisting of a combined Human-Aslan population. A few Droyne are also present.

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 teh Solomani Rim and the Spinward Marches are placed on this Dark Nebula map.

Setting Basics
Dark Nebula Map (Kilrai & Vecinos Subsectors)

Worlds of the Dark Nebula Area (Kilrai and Vecinos Subsectors)
0104 Kindara C511753-A Non-Agricultural, Ice-Capped GG In
0105 Amani D7C6523-9 Non-Industrial GG In
0108 Vaxt B8786N6-9 Non-Industrial, Agricultural GG As
0202 Mir D730577-6 Poor, Non-Industrial In
0209 KUZU A8669J6-D Polity Capital; Aslan Naval Base GG As
0210 Ikona C1005L4-A Non-Industrial, Vacuum GG As
0305 Astek C200445-8 Non-Industrial, Vacuum GG In
0307 Bor C0008M5-C Asteroid, Non-Agricultural, Vaccuum GG As
0309 Xida B9A6H7-C Non-Agricultural As
0407 Rosa C1003G7-B Non-Industrial, Vaccuum, GG As
0409 BLATTA B0009H6-C Asteroid, Non-Agricultural, Industrial; Aslan Naval Base GG As
0410 Panas X730000-0 Barren, Poor GG As RED ZONE
0505 Simsek C501543-9 Vacuum, Ice-Capped, Non-Industrial GG In
0507 Pasar B7A0731-A Desert, Non-Agricultural GG In
0510 Enjiwa C320688-7 Poor, Non-Agricultural GG In
0602 Rim C564878-B Rich GG In
0606 Godoro A587777-C Rich, Agricultural GG In (Droyne world)
0704 Daanari C000511-9 Asteroid, Non-Industrial, Vacuum GG Ff
0708 Dno C7B7565-8 Non-Industrial GG Vt
0710 Valka B862852-B Rich, Polity Capital; Valkan Technate Naval Base GG Vt
0804 Hasara C100740-B Non-Agricultural, Vacuum; Federation Scout Base GG Ff
0808 Drax C330563-8 Poor GG Vt
0810 Ajo C200260-9 Non-Industrial, Vacuum Vt
0905 Taanga C201522-7 Non-Industrial, Vacuum; Federation Scout Base GGFf
1002 Simba E420313-7 Poor, Non-Industrial GG In
1005 Salia D530432-7 Poor, Non-Industrial; Federation Scout Base GG Ff
1007 N1 X000000-0 Barren, Asteroid, Vacuum Dark Nebula
1008 N3 E798000-0 Barren T-Prime GG Dark Nebula
1104 MIZAH A678943-C Industrial, Polity Capital; Federation Scout and Naval Bases GG Ff
1105 Kov D7A4655-7 Non-Industrial, Non-Agricultural GG Ff
1107 N2 E511000-0 Barren, Ice-Capped GG Dark Nebula
1108 N5 E100000-0 Barren, Vacuum GG Dark Nebula
1109 N4 X000000-0 Barren, Asteroid, Vacuum GG Dark Nebula
1110 Taida Na D0008CC-7 Asteroid, Vacuum GG In
1202 Omoro E6B0535-8 Non-Industrial GG So
1210 Osa C100575-7 Non-Industrial, Vacuum GG In
1303 Icat B720889-A Non-Agricultural, Poor GG So
1305 Gazzain C668687-8 Agricultural, Rich, Non-Industrial GG So
1308 Salan C5A0457-8 Non-Industrial, Desert World GG In
1310 Janibar C000414-9 Asteroid, Vacuum, Non-Industrial GG In
1406 Irbev C300423-A Vacuum, Non-Industrial GG In
1410 Karpos C8697C4-6 Agricultural, Non-Industrial In
1502 MAADIN A7979AA-D Industrial, Polity Capital; Solomani Naval Base GG So
1503 MECHANE B0009CA-C Industrial, Asteroid, Vacuum; Solomani Naval Base GG So
1505 Kamat D7A5678-7 Non-Industrial, Non-Agricultural GG So
1507 Bulan C686854-5 Agricultural, Rich; Solomani Research Station (secret) GG In
1508 Changha C530740-8 Poor, Non-Agricultural GG In
1510 Dudaki C00089A-7 Asteroid, Vacuum, Non-Agricultural GG In
1601 Avair D301437-9 Vacuum, Ice-Capped, Non-Industrial So
1602 Zloban D411698-8 Ice-Capped, Non-Industrial, Non-Agricultural GG So
1605 Llavia B1017BB-A Vacuum, Ice-Capped, Non-Agricultural; Solomani Naval Base GG So
1609 Eski C430888-A Poor, Non-Agricultural GG In


Legal Stuff
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Friday, February 14, 2014

Tomorrow's War New Soviet Federation on the workbench

I'm working on an army for Tomorrow's War, a New Soviet Federation army. For the most part, this is a conventional land army, with regular infantry, BTRs and tanks, but it also has suits (particularly big and clunky power armour). Eventually I'll have two armies to oppose it, one German Stosstrooper Mercenary army (which is almost ready), and one Imperial Russian army (which I am yet to buy - these would be Khurasan neo-Russians and their DOE gunships for a VDV force).

In fact, my NSF force is composed of two armies: the NSF Guard army, which are a proper Tech Level 2 force (these are Tomorrow's War TLs; in Traveller terms, that would be around TL10-11), and the NSF Opolcheniye (People's Militia), a Tech Level 1 (in Traveller terms, TL8) lighter-infantry force with hand-me-down equipment and less armour. The Guard army will have Lenin MBTs (Combat Wombat Type-123's) and BTR-290's (ArmiesArmy BTRs which I've pre-ordered), as well as a Suit Cavalry squadron (Kremlin Miniatures Rising Sun MANITOUs), while the Opolcheniye will have Lev Davidovich scrap tanks (converted Zvezda T-34's). The Guard troops will be ArmiesArmy RUSKS, while the Opolcheniye will use a combination of Post-Apocalyptic Warriors with Rebel Minis Sahadeen support weapons and command.

Lenin MBTs Work-in-Progress
NSF Guard Infantry Platoon TO&E
NSF Guard Army Basic Attributes:
Confidence Level: High Confidence.
Supply Quality Level: Average.
Overall Tech Level: 2.
On Grid:
- Major Operations: Yes.
- Normal Operations: Rarely.
Body Armour: Light (1D)
Troop Quality/Morale: D8/D10 (some units are D10/D10)
Common Unit Attributes: Old School

NSF Motor Rifle Guard Squad
First Fireteam
1x Sergeant w/AK-200 ACR
1x Corporal w/AK-200 ACR
1x Private w/AK-200 ACR
1x Private w/AK-200 ACR & RPG-100 Single-Shot A/T Weapon (TL2 Hvy. AP:3/AT:3(M))

Second Fireteam
1x Corporal w/AK-200 ACR
1x Private w/AK-200 ACR
1x Private w/AK-200 ACR
1x Gunner w/RPK-200 SAW (TL2 ABW, Lt. AP:1)

1x BTR-290 APC/IFV
1x BTR Commander w/AK-200 ACR [rarely dismounts]
1x BTR Driver w/AK-200 ACR [rarely dismounts]
1x BTR Gunner w/AK-200 ACR [rarely dismounts]

NSF Motor Rifle Guard Platoon HQ
1x Lieutenant w/AK-200 ACR
1x Senior Sergeant w/AK-200 ACR (Forward Observer)
1x Commissar w/PM-150 Pistol (Inspiring)
1x Private First Class w/SVG-1 Gauss Sniper Rifle (TL2 Med. GWS AP:2/AT:1 (L)) (Designated Marksman)
1x Medic w/AK-200 ACR (Medic)
1x HMG Team (see below)
1x Command BTR-290

HMG Team
1x Gunner w/DShK-200 HMG (TL2 ABW, Hvy. AP:3/AT:1 (L))
1x Assistant Gunner/Spotter w/AK-200 ACR

NSF Motor Rifle Guard Platoon
1x Platoon HQ
3x Infantry Squads

NSF Guard Suit Cavalry Basic Attributes:
Confidence Level: High Confidence.
Supply Quality Level: Average.
Overall Tech Level: 2.
On Grid:
- Major Operations: Yes.
- Normal Operations: Rarely.
Body Armour: Powered Armour (3D)
Troop Quality/Morale: D10/D10
Common Unit Attributes: Old School, Intimidating

NSF Suit Cavalry - almost ready

NSF Guard Suit Cavalry Squadron
First Fireteam
1x Lieutenant w/RPK-80 Plasma Gun (TL2 Med. EWS AP:2/AT:2(M))
1x Sergeant w/RPK-80 Plasma Gun (TL2 Med. EWS AP:2/AT:2(M))
1x Corporal w/RPK-80 Plasma Gun (TL2 Med. EWS AP:2/AT:2(M))

Second Fireteam
1x Sergeant w/RPK-80 Plasma Gun (TL2 Med. EWS AP:2/AT:2(M))
1x Corporal w/RPK-80 Plasma Gun (TL2 Med. EWS AP:2/AT:2(M))
1x Corporal w/RPK-80 Plasma Gun (TL2 Med. EWS AP:2/AT:2(M))

NSF Narodnoe Opolcheniye
NSF Narodnoe Opolcheniye (People's Militia) Basic Attributes:
Confidence Level: Confident.
Supply Quality Level: Average.
Overall Tech Level: 1.
On Grid: No.
Body Armour: Unarmoured
Troop Quality/Morale: D8/D8

NSF Opolcheniye Storm Squad
First Fireteam
1x Sergeant w/PPR-74 SMG
1x Corporal w/PPR-74 SMG
1x Private w/PPR-74 SMG
1x Private w/PPR-74 SMG
1x Private w/PPR-74 SMG & RPG-70 Single-Shot A/T Weapon (TL1 Hvy. AP:3/AT:3(M))

Second Fireteam
1x Corporal w/PPR-74 SMG
1x Private w/PPR-74 SMG
1x Private w/PPR-74 SMG
1x Private w/RPK-155 SAW (TL1 TST, Lt. AP:1)

NSF Opolcheniye GPMG Team
1x Gunner w/DShK-120 HMG (TL1 TST, Med. AP:2)
1x Assistant Gunner w/PPR-74 SMG
1x Spotter/Commander w/PPR-74 SMG

NSF Opolcheniye Sniper Team
1x Sniper w/Anti-Materiel Rifle (TL1 Med. TST AP:2/AT:1 (L))
1x Spotter w/PPR-74 SMG

NSF Opolcheniye HQ
1x Lieutenant w/PPR-74 SMG
1x Senior Sergeant w/PPR-74 SMG (Forward Observer)
1x Commissar w/PM-150 Pistol (Inspiring)
1x Medic w/PPR-74 SMG (Medic)

NSF Opolcheniye Storm Group
1x Opolcheniye HQ
5x Opolcheniye Storm Squads
2x Opolcheniye GPMG Teams
2x Opolcheniye Sniper Teams
3x 'Lev Davidovich' Light Tanks