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.

A new logo for the Den of the Lizard King

As you may have noticed, this blog has a new logo, by the wonderfully talented Hannah Saunders.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Hard Space - revised setting history

Here is a short historical background of my Hard Space setting. I posted a history two years ago, but this one is a revised, expanded, and edited one to serve my new (current) iteration of the setting.

World War III and Solar System Exploration: 2038-2063 (TL8)
World War III came about in 2038. Luckily enough, it did not materialize into the all-out nuclear Armageddon feared by many. Instead, the war dragged on for almost a decade until all belligerents were bled dry and exhausted by the long war years. In 2047, the war was finally over. The world was in ruins from prolonged conventional warfare and the few nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that did see use in the war.

All sides claimed victory. In reality, there were no victors - just bankrupt and impoverished nations incapable of conducting any further large-scale military operations. Politically, most governments emerged from the war at a very weakened state. They had very little support from the war-weary population. They were mostly powerless to do anything meaningful to reconstruct the ruins of their nations. Into this vacuum stepped the private sector, thrilled with the possibility of profit from reconstruction. Earth's collapsing nation-states no longer had the political power necessary to force taxes or regulations on the larger corporations. Thus these companies grew rapidly in size and power.

Bit by bit, the corporations rebuilt parts of Earth. Not all of it; not even most of it. The corporate arcologies and gated cities provided their residents with the amenities of modern life, unlike the universal poverty of the urban blight surrounding them. Rising in profits, the private sector turned its eye to research and development, as well as the industrialization of the solar system. In the late 2050's, these efforts bore fruit and resulted in a rapid succession of innovations, from suspended animation to controlled nuclear fusion.

The greatest discovery in the history of space flight came in 2061 when a dig of the Cydonia region of Mars yielded weird alien artifacts. This came after long years of rumors and strange accidents caused to spacecraft and ground vehicles in the vicinity of this region. While the Face of Mars turned out to be nothing but an oddly-shaped hill, the region itself appeared to be visited by extraterrestrial travellers, dubbed the "Visitors" or the "Antediluvians". They left behind cyclopian ruins filled with unexplainable and deadly anomalies warping time and space, as well as a plethora of artifacts, the function of which was never fully discerned so far. 

First Colonial Generation: 2063-2082 (TL9)
In 2063, research into Antediluvian artifacts recovered from Mars led to the greatest invention of all times - the faster-than-light Jump Drive. It was demonstrated by a historic month-long round-trip to Alpha Centauri by Zhang-Markov Industries's starship Zhen He. Very rapidly - some would say too rapidly - Iron Star Enterprises followed suit and launches their own exploratory starship, John Glenn, on an expedition to Barnard's Star. Thus began the first generation of space colonization.

Space is dangerous, and interstellar space more so. The first interstellar travellers found this the hard way, with high mortality rates among the early explorers who ran into deadly jump drive malfunctions, vicious alien wildlife - and soon enough, inter-corporate rivalry resulting in bloodshed. But mankind continued its march to the stars, despite the small size of interstellar ships allowed by the early jump drives. Colonies soon sprang out on planets orbiting Alpha and Proxima Centauri, Barnard's Star, and Ross 154, as well as small research outposts on rockballs in orbit around Luhman 16 and SCR 1845 6357.

With the vast profits promised by extrasolar assets, corporate competition grew to enormous proportions. In the absence of any effective government beyond Earth orbit, this encouraged cutthroat methods and led to bloodshed. Warfare began with privateering and small, but overt, mercenary actions. In 2070, it grew up to a full-scale war between UEM's Olympus colony on Proxima Centauri c and the Zhang-Markov Arcadia colony on Alpha Centauri 2f. The war raged for a bloody year. In 2071, mercenaries operating for UEM accidentally (or so the official story goes) caused a meltdown of the fission reactor powering the Arcadia 2A sub-colony. The destruction and death toll - as well as the bad press they brought - brought an immediate cease fire. This made the corporations pause and think - such warfare already began rising beyond acceptable costs, and threatened to destabilize the political situation on Earth itself.

The result was the Interstellar Agreements on Colonial Commerce (IACC), signed in 2072 by the Big Four corporations and the three Trading Blocks. 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.

Second Colonial Generation: 2082-2106 (Mature TL9)
In 2082, a transit station was built on a strange rock orbiting the dim brown dwarf HSC0801 (now Sheol), linking Sol to the Solar Main in a Jump-1 chain. This allowed larger ships to travel from Sol to the colonies. Together with the development of more robust orbital shipyards and thus a larger number of starships, the second wave of interstellar colonization in the early 2080's, colonizing seven new worlds, of them only two, orbiting 70 Ophiuchi (Tehom) and Gliese 667 (Agartha), turned out to be highly promising garden worlds, with the rest being more amenable to rare and exotic element mining.

This era saw a rise in local warfare and "police actions" on Earth itself. The Trading Blocks moved to consolidate their hold over Earth's devastated and lawless Wilds, and tighten their grip over the urban Blight surrounding the arcologies. They achieved the latter to a reasonable degree, defeating many of the urban gangs plaguing the old cities. However, taming the Wilds was a failure. Equipped with the best corporate-made equipment their limited budgets can buy, the Trading Blocks tried to force their rule over wasteland areas such as the Rockies, the Levant, and Siberia. They attempted to bring "rogue states" such as Iranistan or the Free Republic of Texas into their fold. This failed miserably. The Wilders - as corporate media often referred to such people - had no intention to be governed by the Trading Blocks. They had better knowledge of their terrain. They had much better morale than the underpaid governmental armies. By the dawn of the 22nd century, the Trading Blocks all but abandoned their dream of reconquering the entirety of Earth.

However, this warfare, as well as the horrible conditions in the Blight and the Wilds, drove interstellar expansion. People were, and still are, willing to risk the deathly perils of cryosleep to reach an extrasolar colony. Even though life is harsh on the colonies and death hides behind every corner, this is still far better than living in the blasted wastelands or shelled-out cities of Earth.

Third Colonial Generation: 2106-Present (TL10)
In 2106, research into the alien artifacts and anomalies - while yet far from bringing about an understanding of the Antediluvians themselves - gave scientists valuable insights into meta-dimensional physics and exotic matter. This brought about a new generation of jump engines, allowing both larger starships and longer travel ranges. This opened up new frontiers to Humanity. New expansion began in full swing, doubling the number of extrasolar colonies within a few years.

Today, in 2120, human space boasts 43 primary interstellar colonies. Most are very small in size, especially the remote ones, though Arcadia (Proxima Centauri III) does serve as a home to almost a eleven million people. The frontier is wide open, and starships are "cheap" enough for smaller corporations and all sorts of social and religious movements to afford. Criminals, of course, can afford them as well, and piracy is a blight on the high frontier... This is a time for daring people to go out of the Sol system and seek their fortune among the stars. Many, however, will find there not their fortune - but their untimely death.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Some initial thoughts about Sanity in Traveller

Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn!
As I already noted, Hard Space has a prominent Lovecraftian flavor to it. Insanity is a major theme in Lovecraft's tales. Thus, it is a good idea to develop sanity rules for use in Hard Space. The following rules use my Task Throw rules, but are very easy to adapt to other mechanics as well. 

So, on to the insanity!

Cthulhu Mythos "insanity" is not a mental illness as we define it in the real world, even if it has shared characteristics. Mental illnesses have biological and environmental causes. 22nd century technology will probably be highly effective to treat them. For those who can afford it, that is. Mythos insanity is the metastatic realization of one's, and humanity's, insignificant place in a vast, ancient universe inhabited by beings vastly more powerful and old than humanity itself. It is the infectious insight into cosmic reality, which radically is different from the more placid reality perceived by most human beings. The human mind is unsuited to process such knowledge, insights, and realizations, and hence "insanity". Psychiatry can alleviate some of the symptoms of Mythos "insanity". Psychotherapy might even help the subject rationalize or suppress the Mythos truth, which helps with recovery. But none can cure the cancerous thoughts generated by encountering the Unknowable.

Each character starts with a Sanity rating equal to the sum of their END + INT characteristics, minus their Occult skill. Sanity cannot recover above this maximum level, though it may increase if teh character increases END or INT.

Encountering the supernatural, the Mythos or - far less often - "mundane" horrors, forces Sanity checks. These are END throws. A sanity throw may be noted, for example, as END 8+/0/1d3, which means that you must throw 8+ and add your END DM (as in MGT/CE) to succeed; you don't lose Sanity if you succeed; and you lose 1d3 Sanity if you fail.

Spacers are accustomed to encountering alien flora and fauna. However, Mythos beings do not fit well into the mundane world of xenobiology and xenoecology. Encountering supernatural monsters or phenomena damages Sanity. Studying Mythos texts, learning magic, and in some cases using magic cause Sanity loss. Misjumps, or EVA while in Jump Space, may cause Sanity loss. Resurrection as a Cyborg definitely incurs serious Sanity loss.

If you roll “snake eyes” (a “natural” 2) on your Sanity check, or lose 3 or more points of Sanity within a single encounter, the character gains Temporary Affliction, which lasts 1D rounds. This includes things such as fainting, running away in terror, psychosomatic blindness, or a violent outbreak against all in sight. (I'll build a random table in a future iteration of these rules).

When the character’s Sanity score reaches half of their maximum Sanity (rounded up), the character suffers a Permanent Affliction such as phobias, compulsions, random bursts of anger, or amnesia.

If and when a character’s Sanity score reaches zero, the character becomes a permanently insane NPC, unless the Referee decrees that advanced psychiatric care (when available) can restore the character to a semblance of sanity.

Characters may regain Sanity in various ways:
  • Successfully completing an adventure against the Mythos recovers 1 Sanity point.
  • Every year of convalescence (non-adventuring life) recovers 1 Sanity point.
  • Every week in psychiatric hospitalization recovers 1 Sanity point.
1D months in psychiatric hospitalization may remove a single Permanent Affliction.

Entering psychiatric hospitalization often has a social and personal cost. At the Referee's discretion, characters spending long periods of time in psychiatric institutions might lose points of their SOC characteristic or even find difficulties acquiring legal weapons on higher law level worlds, among many other things.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hard Space: Thoughts on World Generation

Hard Space inherits all its physical world data from Near Space, as well as its baseline map. However, I am now generating the colonies' world characteristics. Below are a few notes about this.

The key to everything are the colony's Generation and the world's habitability.

1st Gen colonies are relatively heavily populated (up to several millions) and have a more elaborate and powerful administration; 3rd Gen colonies have tiny populations and are typically quite lawless, at least outside the (small) main colony town/dome/mine. 2nd Gen colonies are in between.

People prefer to live on habitable, or almost-habitable worlds; even a tainted atmosphere is vastly preferable to vacuum or an Exotic atmosphere. Unless very mineral-rich, non-habitable worlds have outposts, with small populations and typically minimal administration. Habitable or near-habitable worlds have colonies, with larger populations, and the more complex government this entails.

Note that, as in much of the "source material", Hard Space has a nearly uniform tech level across the worlds. Every sanctioned colony is TL10, though much hardware is TL9 (as TL10 is very new). Also, I have already determined the starports of all sanctioned colonies.


Outposts (regardless of generation) have a population digit of 1d3. Most non-habitable rockballs are outposts. Add DM+1 for Starport D, or DM+2 for starport C.
1st Gen colonies have a population digit of 1d3+4.
2nd Gen colonies have a population digit of 1d3+2.
3rd gen colonies have a population digit if 1d3+1.

Most colonies are corporate colonies. Throw 1d6 per colony: on 1-4, this is a single corporate colony; on 5 this has multiple colonies (Gov 7); on 6 it is non-corporate (governmental or private initiative).
For non-corporate colonies, throw for government as per the Traveller (or CE) rules.

For corporate colonies, throw 1d6: 1, Gov 1; 2, Gov 3; 3, Gov 5; 4, Gov 8; 5, Gov 9; 6, Gov B.
Gov 1 - local corp focuses strictly on business and mostly ignores the bigger picture of governance. Weak governmental apparatus might be in place.
Gov 3 - local corp management runs things with little regard to those below.
Gov 5 - local corp department heads run their departments like personal fiefdoms.
Gov 8 - local corp runs a surprisingly efficient administrative apparatus with effective governance and meritocratic promotions. The corporate "ideal".
Gov 9 - local corp is a bureaucratic nightmare with poor leadership.
Gov B - local corp exec runs the place like his personal kingdom.

1st Generation - law is 1d6+Gov-2 for a minimum of 1 (sanctioned colonies always have some law).
2nd Generation - law is 1d6+Gov-4 for a minimum of 1.
2nd Generation - law is 1d6+Gov-5 for a minimum of 1.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Cepheus Light - Throws

As we noted before, Stellagama Publishing is still working on Cepheus Light, a streamlined version of the Cepheus Engine SRD. We strive to provide players and referees with a lightweight, fast-play, yet nuanced and varied, sci-fi rule-set. Its production takes more time than we originally anticipated, as we have decided to invest more into quality-control and editing, to provide you with the best, cleanest, most readable book we can produce.

In June, we provided a preview of the vehicle chase system. Today, we present another important part of our rules, the throw (task) system, which is the base game mechanic of Cephesu Light.

Note that it is very easy to use this system with any 2d6 sci-fi (or otherwise) ruleset, including Classic Traveller; it interfaces directly with skills and characteristics presented in these rules, requiring no conversion whatsoever.

Basic Game Mechanic
The basic mechanic of Cepheus Light is the throw, and when we say this, we mean dice throw. Throw 2D, add the relevant skill or characteristic DM, and if the total is equal or higher than the target number, you succeed. For example, “throw STR 8+” means “throw 2D and add your STR modifier; if the total is 8 or more, you succeed” The amount by which your total throw exceeds the target number is called the Effect If, using the previous example, you roll a total of 11 on that throw, your Effect is 11 – 8 = 3.
Note that a “natural” result of 2 does not denote automatic failure, nor does a “natural” result of 12 denote automatic success.

Opposed throws: in a situation where two characters oppose each other in an attempt, for example a spy trying to sneak past a guard, each character throws 2D plus the appropriate skill or characteristic modifier; the higher roll wins. Re-roll ties.

Common Target Numbers
DifficultyTarget Number
Very Difficult10+

Characteristic DMs
Under this system, each character's characteristics has an associated Dice Modifier (DM) based on its level, as noted below:


Friday, August 24, 2018

Hard Space: Updated Astrography

I've updated the map of my Hard Space setting. The main change is the inclusion of 9 new outposts to the Trailing. These are Jump-3 from Sol, and thus, per Classic Traveller Books 2-3, the largest ship that can get there directly from Sol without  a 6-jump detour in J-2 is 400 tons; the large Jump-1 ships cannot get there from sol at all. Colonization was virtually impossible before TL10 (reached 14 years ago). Today, a few tiny outposts exist in these remote stars.

For a full-res map look HERE.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Hard Space: Starflight

After discussing the subject of sub-light, real-space travel in my Hard Space setting, it is time to discuss the second part of travel, and that means interstellar flight. So how does this work?

  • Interstellar travel uses the Jump Drive. The jump drive is a complex contraption manipulating an Antediluvian artifact - a Spindle - to punch a transdimensional between real space and the alien realm called Jump Space. The complexity and size of the drive determines its capability to manipulate its Spindle, hence the different jump rates.
  • A jump is approx. 7 days in length and transports the ship one parsec per jump number, as in baseline Traveller.
  • Unlike baseline Traveller jump drives, Hard Space jump drives do not require fuel, only energy input from the power plant. However, after a jump, the drive requires time to "spool" and recharge. This time is 1D days minus the attending engineer's skill, to a minimum of one day.
  • Jump drives require a gravity well on both sides. A small brown dwarf is sufficient. There are no "empty-hex jumps" or "calibration points" - you need a star on both sides.
  • Jumps can be inaccurate. The higher the ship navigator's throw when plotting the jump, the closer to its destination the ship emerges. An unlucky navigator might find their ship in the outer system, while a skilled or lucky navigator might emerge directly into orbit of the target world. Ships do not emerge within large masses or very close to them - so there is no risk of emerging inside a sun or planet.
  • Misjumps are dangerous and can result in encounters with the Unknown and insanity. This is messing with barely-understood alien technology and parallel dimensions which defy too many rules of physics. A good jump throw avoids most of the unpleasantness, but a misjump exposes the crew to all sorts of nastiness. Beware.
  • Needless to say, I'll have to create my own custom jump throw table to account for accuracy in the target system and to the lack of jump fuel.
  • I'm using Little Black Books drive TLs and letters. This means that you can reach Jump-3 at TL9 and Jump-4 at TL10. Humanity in Hard Space is at early-mid TL10. This also means that smaller ships can jump further and are faster than larger ships. Of course, this entails a small-ship universe. This also means that the only drives available are Book 2 A-H drives. The biggest jump capable ship is 1,000 displacement tons in volume. 800-ton ships may achieve Jump-2, while 600-ton ships can achieve Jump-3 and an 400-ton ship may achieve Jump-4.
  • If using Cepheus Engine drives with these TLs, ships would be different - the maximum ship tonnage becomes 1,800 tons, but the largest ship capable of Jump-3 is 500 tons in volume and you can have a Jump-2 1,000-ton ship.
  • In any case, Drives E-H are very new - Humanity reaches TL10 only 14 years ago. Before that, the largest jump-capable tonnage was 800 displacement tons, and  the largest J-2 ship was 400 tons. This gave rise to the vast expansion of the third generation of colonization, with much larger tonnages at Jump-2 and better.
  • In any case, far jumps mean less payload. While there is no jump fuel, ships travelling the fringe require propellant for their engines, especially when not expecting each orbital refueling.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Hard Space - Spaceflight

How do you travel between planets in Hard Space? I've written about this subject before, in the previous iteration of Hard Space, but since then I have had some new ideas, especially following a very fruitful discussion on the Citizens of the Imperium forums. So here you go for spaceflight:

  • There are no gravitics in this setting. Not even as a side-effect of the Jump Drive. Neither are there reactionless drives. So there are no air/rafts - instead, you use a tilt-rotor, chopper, or ducted fan/vector-thrust. Or just a ground vehicle. You also must use reaction engines to travel in real space, mainly fusion torches. Which leads to the next point.
  • Interplanetary travel uses fusion torches. These require a fusion power plant, which uses regular Traveller p-plant stats. 10% of ship tonnage in propellant ("fuel") allows 100 thrust hours at 1-G*; faster travel requires a proportionally larger fuel tank. For example, 100 hours of constant 2-G acceleration would require 20% of ship tonnage in propellant.
  • Fusion torches are devastating and dangerous to use in atmospheres. Thus, the cost of streamlining subsumes interface engines, such as Scramjet engines coupled with vector-thrust jets for the final landing (or initial takeoff) itself. Most starships are not streamlined and use streamlined small craft.
  • Again, there are no gravitics in this setting. Stations spin. Ships have a "tower tail-sitter" structure with the engines below the "floor". This allows "gravity" by constant acceleration or deceleration. Ships in orbit either dock with a station, or stay in a powered orbit at 0.1g acceleration to maintain some shipboard "gravity". In long-term orbital "parking" without a station, this will require refueling from time to time.
  • There are no inertial dampers. This means that travellers must endure acceleration stress when accelerating beyond 1-G. Commercial ships, and even military ships in routine non-emergency travel, often stay at 1-G acceleration while travelling. For higher acceleration, crews and passengers buckle down and get a "cocktail" IV. The "cocktail" is a mixture of several medications allowing functioning and preventing stroke during high-G maneuvers, such as during combat or when travelling beyond 1-G acceleration.
  • Better starports provide their own interface craft for swift off-loading and loading of the visiting ship. Starports A's (Earth, Luna, and Mars) have "beanstalks" (space elevators) for massive transportation of material between surface and orbit. Starport B has a large "highport" space station and a fleet of heavy interface shuttles. Starport C has a small "highport" and a smaller fleet of interface shuttles. Starport D lacks orbital facilities but often has some interface shuttles available. Starport E rarely has any local infrastructure, though some colonies do keep local small-craft which may assist in offloading a coming trader.
  • Some smaller starships can land in atmospheres. However, the axis of a starship and that of a streamlined aircraft (or small craft) are different due to the above-mentioned gravity concerns and the ships being "tail-sitters". Starships capable of landing do so like rockets, with chemical (or plasma?) thrusters for both descent and ascent. A bit like the proposed (real-world) Phoenix Single-Stage-To-Orbit fully-reusable launcher/lander.

In the next post, I'll detail interstellar travel.

* Yes, I know this is grossly unrealistic in terms of engine efficiency, but its still a far smaller "handwave" than reactionless grav-drives, and it also prevents the "near-C rock" issue with gravitic thruster plates. Also using volume rather than mass for ships for Traveller legacy compatibility...

Monday, August 20, 2018

Hard Space - Preliminary notes on Technology

Below are some preliminary notes on technology in my Hard Space setting for Classic Traveller and the Cepheus Engine.

  • Hard Space is generally TL10. Cybernetics, computers, and medical/pharmaceutical technology are at TL13.
  • Corporations try to develop all sorts of cutting-edge technologies. Prototypes of such technologies, often found in high-security laboratories, may be up to TL16. The higher the prototype's TL, the more dangerous it is. Messing around with TL11+ jump technology is particularly dangerous and often creates catastrophic results (ala Event Horizon). "True" AI is TL16, a "holy grail" of corporate IT R&D, and will most likely produce catastrophic results omce created (ala System Shock)...
  • I'm using 3-Book Classic Traveller drive TLs. This means that smaller ships are faster than larger ones, and that you can attain Jump-3 at TL9 and Jump-4 at TL10, albeit on very small ships. Also, there are definitely no empty-hex jumps - you need a gravity well on both sides of the jump. This means that space has a "topography" and that commerce and colonization strongly prefer "mains" allowing Jump-1 travel.
  • As I noted before, there are no gravitics and no grav vehicles.
  • Fusion plants exist, as well as fusion-torch drives, but fusion is expensive and bulky. The smallest fusion reactor available is 1.2 displacement tons - approximately 16 or 17 cubic meters - in volume and costs MCr3. 

On a side note, one thing I am thinking about is setting Hard Space in 2120 rather than 2130. I do like the "(exactly) one century into the future"* vibe of 2120, thoughit requires significant developments (J-Drive and potentially fusion) in the 2050's. Even then, this means that all colonies are young - 1st generation colonies are 65 years old, 2nd generation colonies are 41 years old, and the oldest 3rd generation colonies are at most 16 years old. There are people born outside of the Sol system, and people who are the second (and in some cases even the third) generation of extrasolar spacers!

* If this develops into something substantiation, 2020 seems like a reasonable deadline for publication

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Hard Space tentative astrography

Here is the Hard Space work-in-progress map. It uses my Near Space map as a baseline and the world's physical stats are identical to those of Near Space.

Humanity has 43 extrasolar colonies, 28 of them established in the last 15 years.

The "trading blocks" - supranational governments on Earth and corporate flags-for-convenience in space - are the American Federation, the International Commonwealth, and the United Nations. AF and IC members do not belong to the UN, which is now only one of three blocks. They grew out of international trade and military agreements following the chaos of WWIII.

The UN - by far the most populous trading block on Earth itself - officially governs the Coreward arm of the Solar Main, with 23 colonies, 15 of then new.

The American Federation and International Commonwealth share the Rimward arm of the Solar Main, with 19 colonies, 13 of them new.

The map does not show (yet) unsanctioned colonies set up by all sorts of non-governmental parties and non-affiliated states.

For the full-res map look HERE.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hard Space Redux Design Notes

Over two years ago I wrote an outline for a near-Earth, near-future setting called Hard Space. Since then, Stellagama Publishing has published These Stars Are Ours! our premier space opera setting. More important to the current discussion, however, is another Stellagama product - Near Space. It uses abstracted (“flattened”) real space with some hypothetical brown and red dwarfs added for better gameability. The latter allow Jump-1 travel from Sol to other worlds. They also create a “Solar Main” allowing slow Jump-1 ships to travel quite far, albeit at a snail’s pace.

Hard Space is a setting explicitly using the Near Space data. Right now, I post here it as a series of blog-posts for Classic Traveller and the Cepheus Engine. If there will be enough interest, I might consider making this a commercial product for the Cepheus Engine. All map locations and physical world stats in Near Space exist verbatim in Hard Space. Some colonied by humanity and some waiting to be explored.

This does not come at the expense of my main sci-fi universe, These Stars Are Ours! (#TSAO). As in my 2016 post, I have resolved to write three paragraphs of TSAO-related (or Cepheus Light-related) content for each paragraph I write for Hard Space, whether on this blog or otherwise.


The elevator pitch for Hard Space is:

Cyborg Smugglers Fight Cthulhu in Space!

What does that mean?

Cyborg - this is a hardcore cyberpunk setting. Major chrome, significant upgrades of the human machine, hacking, and of course the cultural aspects of cyberpunk, such as individual vs. corporation and style being important. Think Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

Smugglers - Player characters (PCs) are, at best, in a legal “grey area”, that is - bounty hunters, mercenaries, and private eyes. At worst, they are criminals and outlaws. Again, this fits the cyberpunk themes, where protagonists are often dealing with all sorts of shady business or existing on the wrong side of the law. Think Firefly.

Fight - life is cheap, and so are bullets. There are no major wars, but there are brushfire conflicts, covert operations, and police actions. Combat is by no means the center of the setting, but violence is common. Think Ghost in the Shell.

Cthulhu - the one place where the setting eschews hard-ish science is in the element of cosmic horror. Space itself is deadly; some things which dwell in it are deadlier. There will be a sanity mechanic for use in CT and/or CE as part of this setting. Jump drives and shipboard gravity, by the way, belong here. Think Event Horizon.

Space - this is an (early) hard-ish space interstellar setting. Space is hard. Apart from the cosmic horror element mentioned above, science is pretty hard. No grav-cars, no fusion making your life easy - you use vector-thrust and fission. Ships have reaction drives. And space can definitely kill you. Think The Expanse.


Anyhow, the premise of Hard Space is this - the year is 2130 AD. Humanity has only recently reached out to the nearby stars, but limited technology does not allow for rapid interstellar expansion. Space is dangerous, ships are small, and even sixty-three years of faster-than-light exploration and settlement have only carved out a small, sparsely populated colonial region around Sol. As the old national governments on Earth have been bled dry financially and politically by the events of the mid-21st century, space is the domain of the private sector - of the larger corporations; once you leave Luna's orbit, Earth governments are little more than flags-of-convenience to private-sector investments and facilities. Competition among the "Big Four" interstellar corporations, and to a lesser degree between their rivals, is tense and quite cutthroat, leading to a great degree of underhanded actions and industrial espionage.

Most of humanity still lives on Earth, followed by Luna and Mars. As Earth is highly polluted, extremely crowded, and suffering from an unstable climate, many people - especially from the lower classes - are willing to take major risks to move to the colonies, where living conditions are often somewhat better, and where corporate jobs abound, even if they are mostly low-level jobs. To get away from the urban Blight of Earth, many would even accept the risk of travel by Low Berth. Moving to Luna or Mars is easier, but the jobs on the extrasolar colonies pay better, and some of them have actual open-air environments.

This is a time of outward expansion and adventure among the stars - and also of great, mortal danger. Going into the Unknown is a particularly risky endeavor, as the Unknown as teeth, and Claws, and tentacles and even the slightest malfunction in a ship's drives or in a spacer's vacc suit could spell disaster to the hapless explorer. Corporate and government marines battle vicious pirates, desperate rebels, and nasty xenomorphs on many worlds, facing a bloody attrition rate; explorers and couriers on the frontier and beyond - colloquially called "scouts" - go among unexplored stars, and in many cases do not return from their missions. The rewards of interstellar exploration are staggering, but so are the risks...

"Going out", into interstellar space, is relatively "cheap". A wealthy cult or rich madman can charter a starship and start their own "utopia". Engage in immoral research, dabbling in the occult, 

Meanwhile, very old, alien things slumber on countless worlds, awaiting the hapless explorer or greedy colonial corporate exec to stumble into them...

Sources of inspiration - literatureMars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Call of Cthulhu, Shadow over Innsmouth, and other works by HP Lovecraft

Sources of inspiration - film and televisionAlien and Aliens
Apollo 18
Event Horizon
Star Hunter
The Expanse
Ghost in the Shell

Sources of inspiration - video gamesAlien Legacy
Dead Space
Metro: 2033 and Metro: Last Light
Red Faction and Red Faction: Guerrilla
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
S.T.A.L.K.E.R - Shadows of Chernobyl
System Shock 1 and 2
Deus Ex: Human Revolution

"The Lost Islands" goes commercial!

I am pleased to report that I have signed a contract with Autarch LLC for writing my "The Lost Islands" campaign setting for ACKS as a commercial freelance project!

I'm already working on several very cool ideas, which would make this a prehistoric sci-fantasy romp to remember!

It will also be set in the official Auran Empire setting, offering a change of pace from the Empire's late-antiquity milieu.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Tentative ACKS Psionic "spell" list

In the previous post, I presented my take on psionics for ACKS.

As noted, these are the psionic spell type categories:

Blast - unavilable
Death - as cleric
Detection - half cleric!
Enchantment - half cleric!
Healing - 1.5 cleric (i.e. slower progression)
Illusion - as mage
Movement - as mage
Protection - standard as cleric and mage
Summoning - unavailable
Transmogrification - unavailable
Wall - unavailable


* denotes a reversible spell
(note that a spell and its reverse are separate spells for a psychic and must be learned separately)
Italics denote a spell from the ACKS Player's Companion,

Level 1:
Charm Person
Command Word
Detect Chaos*
Detect Charm*
Detect Danger
Detect Invisible
Detect Magic
Detect Secret Doors
Find Traps
Locate Object
Protection from Chaos
Read Languages
Remove Fear*
Speak with Animals

Level 2:
Choking Grip
Cure Light Wounds*
Hold Person
Hypnotic Patterns
Mirror Image
Phantasmal Force

Level 3:
Charm Monster
Chimerical Force
Command Animals
Command Person
Command Plants
Delay Poison
Dispel Magic
Invisibility, 10' Radius
Locate Object
Protection from Chaos, Sustained*
Protection from Normal Missiles
Speak with Plants
Wizard Eye

Level 4:
Control Animals
Control Undead
Cure Moderate Wounds*
Feign Death
Dimension Door
Hallucinatory Terrain
Hold Monster
Remove Curse*
Strength of Mind*
True Seeing

Level 5:
Control Plants
Cure Blindness
Cure Disease
Cure Serious Wounds*
Neutralize Poison*

Level 6:
Anti-Magic Shell
Dispel Chaos
Project Image

ACKS: psychic build

Psionics. Ever since I first watched Babylon 5 in the mid-late 1990's, I was fascinated by them - by the powers of the mind. I wrote some rules for them for the Cepheus Engine, not being satisfied with how it treats psionics in its core rules. However, in fantasy, things are a little different. For what are psionics, but science-fiction magic? So I was, in the past, on the fence about their inclusion in fantasy settings. However, in more "gonzo" quasi-science-fantasy settings such as my (published) Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu (BCK), or my prospective Blighted Lands post-apocalyptic setting for ACKS, they should fit well.

So, like the sorcerer, I used the magic type creation rules from Axioms I to create psionics as a custom type of "magic". Yes, you read me right - "magic". I find the ACKS spellcasting rules to be robust, more robust than, say the old AD&D Psionics Handbooks rules, or even the ACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook's spellsinging rules. So I am taking a similar road to the one I took with BCK's visitor hybrid: my psionics use a variant, custom type of "spellcasting", designed per Axioms I as noted above, rather than the traditional AD&D (or my beloved Traveller) psi-point system.

You can find the psychic magic type design sheet HERE.

Psychics have "inherited" magic with standard (mage-like) progression. Unlike sorcerers, they lack a code of behavior and do not have to fear Corruption, and cannot turn or control undead. They have mage-type saving throws (i.e., the worst) and both INT and CHA as prime requisites. They may use magic items accessible to mages.

Psychics have no access to "sorcerous" spells such as Blast, Summoning, Transmogrification, or Wall spells. However, they receive powerful Detection and Enchantment spells very early and have good illusion and movement spells (as a mage) - all befitting the masters of the mind.

A "full" psychic is at 2 build points and 950 XP, which I may yet round to 1000 XP for convenience sake. "Half" progression is that 450 XP; 133% psionics are at 1900 xp; and 150% psionics are at 3800 XP, which seems a bit excessive.

I have in mind (so to speak!) two psionic classes:

The psychic is the master of the mind - yet skilled in survival in blighted lands and barbaric jungles alike. Men fear him (or her!) - as his mysterious mental might can dominate the will of others and penetrate even the deepest, most private thoughts of a hapless "mundane". Unlike mages or clerics, the psychic needs neither spellbooks nor holy symbols; his very presence provides him with power over the minds of others. Playing a psychic means mastering the mind - that of the character himself, and that of his enemies.

Class build would be Psychic 2, Fighting 1b (as thief), and Hit Dice 1 (1d6 per level). This grants full access to psionic powers (with full mage-style progression), as well as decent fighting capabilities. This costs 1950 XP to rise to level 2; I'll round it to 2000 XP (as a fighter) to make the higher level XP values more convenient.

Psionic Knight
Some men (and women!) master not only their minds, as a psychic does, but also the blade and the shield. A keen mind, powerful enough to rob opponents of their most intimate thoughts and bend them to the psionic knight's will, augments a steady sword-arm. If the psionic knight survives long enough to become a mind lord - a psionic warlord - his psychic skills grant him a strategic advantage against his "mundane" opponents, granting military intelligence and providing strategic capabilities beyond the ken of ordinary men.

Class build would be Psychic 1, Fighting 2 (as fighter), and Hit Dice 1 (1d6 per level). This grants half of a psychic's power progression, together with great martial prowess. This also costs 1950 XP to rise to level 2; I'll round it to 2000 XP (as a fighter) to make the higher level XP values more convenient.

I also wanted to add a savant class with Psionics 4 but 3,800 XP to get to level 2 seem like an excessive price for 150% spells.

Next, I will design the psionic "spell" list based on the magic type design I have linked above.

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Lost Islands Regional Map

This is the full (work-in-progress) map of my Lost Islands campaign setting for ACKS.

For a full-res map look HERE.

The main island itself is quite large - approximately 150 miles long by 120 miles wide. As there are no real roads and terrain is difficult, that's a lot of exploration!

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Lost Islands

One thought that has occurred to me is that an "Isle of Dread"-type setting could be a wonderful vessel for bringing Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu elements into a more "standard" D&D-type fantasy campaign campaign. I am thinking about running it for traditionally-minded players who will want to play dwarves and elves, but I'll introduce them to all the weird Lost World lizardry stuff.

Crashed alien saucer on a "lost world" island with Ancient ruins, lizardmen/geckomen, and dinosaurs. Which "ordinary" fantasy heroes come to visit.

This is not Kanahu transplanted into a generic fantasy world, mind you, but a setting allows importing BCK material into a limited area of it.

This will have a "regional" map (1 hex = 6 miles) with several islands. And yes, with pirates (Arrrrrr! Shiver me Timbers!) too.

I was thinking about the Islands being a small part of a sunken, Mu-type continent, where there was once an Ancient [human] civilization (Mesoamerican-flavored). When the Ancient Land sank, the survivors made pacts with reptilian totems of the islands for protection. This was a blessing and a curse - the Ancients became various types of lizardmen; the Chaotic among them became Serpentmen and Toadmen.

So you get various lizard tribes - you get the Monitor [standard lizardman] Village, the Gecko Village, the Chameleon Village [new class/creature] - and the Serpent Pyramid!

Later, a millennium or so ago, humans islanders from other parts of the world came and settled a peninsula; they fortified the Ancient bridge connecting it to the main island and thus enjoyed some protection from dinosaurs and other dangers of the main island. They settled on a few of the smaller islands as well.

Finally, very recently, the Empire came and set up a trading-post on the peninsula to trade with local humans and with the "Lizard Village" (Monitor Village). Pirates from the Empire also settled on the Islands.

There was also an alien saucer crashed into the dormant vulcano's flooded caldera; possibly damaged by Ancient magics when investigating them.

So you have:
  • Dinosaurs and other weird fauna and flora.
  • Ancient [Mesoamerican-style] ruins with all sorts of magic (or technology?).
  • Lizardmen/geckomen/chameleonfolk, serpentmen, toadmen. May provide henchmen.
  • Local human tribes. May provide henchmen.
  • Pirates! Arrrrrr!
  • Alien ship; aliens; alien beasts/robots. Alien tech.
  • Imperial presence.
  • Islands just waiting to be conquered and inhabited!
What do you think?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Cauldrons & Casseroles

Stellagama Publishing is proud to present:

Cauldrons & Casseroles

The gamers' cookbook!

82 recipes for hungry role-players - from snacks to drinks to pies to poultry and fish! All ready for eating by hand, while playing.

As role-playing games are becoming an increasingly popular pastime and hobby for many in our current culture for quite a while, a tradition of gaming food and drinks should evolve accordingly. Cocktail parties or sport events, for instance, have evolve their own food traditions. There is no reason role-playing games shouldn't either.

Cauldrons & Casseroles presents 82 recipes for varied foodstuffs perfect for the gaming table, from snacks to pies to poultry and fish.

The dishes themselves are practically suited to the game as an activity. By being typically food items of the hand-held variety, they do not require any utensils or any other fiddly equipment and therefore function as appropriate, casual snacks.

The recipes included in this book do not follow the order of courses within a meal nor are classified according to culinary genre or ingredients. Instead, they rather follow the course of a typical fantasy role-playing adventure, with the dishes being inspired by the plot and taking place as an integral part of it. The dishes themselves are also practically suited to the game as an activity. By being typically food items of the hand-held variety, they do not require any utensils or any other fiddly equipment and therefore function as appropriate, casual snacks.

Measurements are given both in the Imperial and the Metric systems.

We hope this book will inspire all of you to sharpen your kitchen wizardry skills and make some gastronomic magic happen!

Get it HERE!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Dark Inheritance hex map

I have drawn up a hex map (in Hexographer) of the environs of Tideborn Village and Castle Tideborn from my Dark Inheritance mini-campaign idea. The big black hex is Tideborn's six-mile hex; each small hex on this map is a 1-mile hex. This shows the general regions and points of interest. Interacting with these hexes, investing gold in them, and clearing out monsters (and bandits!) will grant the players various resources, including increased domain revenue.

At the campaign's start, domain revenue is 4gp per peasant family - appropriate for a ruined backwater threatened by various monsters and beset by banditry. Unseating the bandits from the copper mine, clearing out and rebuilding the lighthouse, and uprooting the abominable fishmen from the reef - all will increase domain income and reduce threats.

Apart from the Tideborn village and Castle Tideborn described in earlier posts, this map has five regions, each of which will receive its own encounter tables: the Hills, the Woods, the Swamp, Farmlands and Road, and the Sea. The farmlands and road are relatively safe, at least at daytime - but even then suffer from banditry. The swamps are a war-zone between Neutral lizardmen and Chaotic toadmen and holds other unpleasant surprises, including bog zombies and giant toads. The hills are bandit country at day and haunt of wild beasts at night. The woods are the most dangerous land area here, haunted by undead and evil fey, not to mention giant spiders. The sea is cruel and home to all manner of pelagic nightmares.

The Abbey of St. Lena is haunted, but is the rumored resting place of the fabled Dagger of St. Lena; even the bandits avoid going there in fear of the horrors left therein. This is a shaded Sinkhole of Chaos - cleansing it may allow the establishment of a new Abbey, under Law - or even a re-consecrated Pinnacle of Law.

The Copper Mines are inactive, as their new residents and masters - the Broken Skull Gang bandits - abhor honest work such as mining. Unseating the bandits, whether by force or by "diplomacy" (that is, a more veiled show of force), will allow the PCs to reopen the mines. The renovation will cost some gold, but an operating mine will increase the domain income by 3gp per family per month.

The Lizard Village is Neutral, as it has always been. It predates the village and castle by eons of primitive existence. The Neutral lizardmen are at war with Chaotic toadmen. Siding with the lizardmen will allow the PCs to recruit two powerful lizardman henchmen - a Savage (warrior) and a Shaman.

The Toad Cult is the horror of the swamp - primitive toadmen and degenerate human cultists worshiping the Chaotic toad-god Tsathoggua. They are at war with the lizardmen, and try to convert them to Chaos - no easy task, but a few did join the cult and serve as its shock-troops.

The Lighthouse used to guide fishermen at night; now it is ruined, leading to caverns of various horrors of the sea beneath it. Cleaning the caves and investing gold in rebuilding the Lighthouse will increase domain income by 1gp per family per month.

Finally, the Reef is home to the worst of the fishmen and cephalopod cults, who raid the coast and wreck fishing boats. Cleansing it will greatly increase fishing yields, adding 1gp per family per month to domain income.

Note that Chaotic or even, in some cases, Neutral PCs might choose to ally themselves with the Toad Cult (against the lizardmen) or even the Bandits... Parlaying with them won't be easy, but players being players - who knows...