Sunday, April 24, 2022

Knave: Species

 

Art by LadyofHats
Considering my recent addiction to Knave, I must say that one facet of the rules players are often dissatisfied with is the absence of non-humans. People want to play dwarves! While I can simply make such species completely descriptive, I feel that they should have a mechanical implication as well.

In the Knave spirit, I keep these rules to a bare minimum. Each species has an Ability Score requirement, an edge, and a flaw. This may seem somewhat minor in scope compared, say, to the OSE treatment of such creatures. However, once again, this is Knave, and Knaves tread lightly.

Below is a tentative list of species I may permit in my Knave campaigns:

Dwarf: minimum Constitution Defense of 13. Advantage on any roll related to construction or mining and searching for secret doors. Base speed is 30' rather than 40'.

Elf: minimum Charisma Defense of 13. Advantage on stealth rolls in natural surroundings. Suffer a -10% penalty to XP.

Geckofolk: minimum Dexterity Defense of 13. May effortlessly walk on walls; may walk on ceilings at half speed. May not use two-handed weapons due to size; may not climb or cling when wearing boots or gauntlets.

Gnome: minimum Intelligence Defense of 13. Knows one level 1 illusion spell - chosen one the player - requiring no inventory slot, which they may cast once a day per 2 levels of experience (e.g., a level 4 gnome can cast it twice). May not use two-handed weapons due to size.

Halfling: minimum Dexterity Defense of 13. Advantage on throws to pick pockets and other tricks of sleight of hand. Consumes twice as much food a day than other species.

Human: no Ability Score requirements. Neither an advantage nor a disadvantage. Default species.

Insectoid: minimum Dexterity Defense of 13. Immune, poison, disease, and ghoul paralysis. Disadvantage to any social rolls (other than intimidation) with other species.

Lizardfolk: minimum Strength Defense of 13. May hold breath for 10 minutes and swim effortlessly at 40' per round. May not wear helmets or boots designed for other species due to different morphology.

Orc: minimum Strength Defense of 13. May become enraged once per encounter, granting an advantage to Attack Rolls for 1d6 rounds. Disadvantage to any social rolls (other than intimidation) with other species.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

The primary differences between the Cepheus Engine SRD and Cepheus Deluxe

We at Stellagama Publishing are often asked: what's so special about Cepheus Deluxe? What's the difference between it and Cepheus Light or the Cepheus Engine SRD (or other 2d6 systems for that matter)? Below are six primary differences between these rulesets.

1. Design Choices are already built into Cepheus Deluxe. One of the major complaints many Referees have is that 2d6 systems are toolboxes of rules. Some Referees like toolboxes, but others don't have the time or interest in making a complete game out of the toolbox. Many Referees need a complete set of rules that they can use to quickly run games. We've made certain design choices to make a complete game that is playable out of the box. 

2. Non-random character generation. we offer Non-Random Character Generation as a standard because that's what many of today's role-players desire. There's plenty of good things about randomly generating characters, but there's a reputation traditional 2d6 systems have: the games where you can die in character generation. Even when you understand why that's a rule, sometimes you just want to play a scout, or you just want to play a space marine, and you should just be able to play that. We have kept random events tables, with chances for injuries or even prison terms to keep things exciting. 

3. Complete rules for personal, vehicle, and space combat that can be played completely map-less and include rules for chases. The goal is to make combat exciting for all players, not just the dedicated combatants. Vehicle and ship combat is streamlined, and the damage system is designed to give players problems to solve, not hit points to track.

4. Many random tables for space encounters, adventure hooks, complications, and animal encounters, and a GM guide to help develop adventures and campaigns for sandbox or more narrative playstyles.

5. Fully worked examples for all the major (and minor) subsystems: character generation, speculative trade, ship combat, vehicle combat, personal combat, world generation, starship construction, starship combat, interstellar commerce, and animal generation.

6. Optional rules to make your game more heroic or, alternatively, grittier, as you desire. You may use optional Hero Point rules and Traits to make your characters heroic. Ignore them for a gritty and more realistic game.

Knave Reference: Slender Horrors

I've compiled a monster reference sheet/Cheat Sheet for Knave. It lists a good number of common monsters for easy reference. No descriptions included; this is a reference card for referees who usually already know the said monsters but want to see their stats comfortably and quickly.

Get it HERE!


Knave variant: A Slender Lout

As noted in my previous posts, I recently fell in love with Ben Milton's Knave rules for lightweight d20/OSR gaming. So, I had the idea of condensing the Knave rules onto a two-sided A4 sheet. Just print, laminate, and have accessible and handy rules while running games.

So, A Slender Lout is the result (based on the Creative Commons license Knave uses).

Next in line is a monster cheat-sheet and a spell cheat-sheet, based on OSE monsters and spells converted to Knave... Each cheat-sheet on a two-sided A4 page, printed and laminated. Fastest reference access I need!


Knave variant rules: Religion

Art by Hannah Saunders

Interestingly enough, the base Knave rules touch religion only in passing. Ben Milton's draft Knave 2E rules, available to his Patreon's patrons, include new religion mechanics, centered around Saints. However, I came up with my own religion rules for the current (1E) Knave rules.

The main purposes of these rules are to offer game mechanics encouraging the role-playing of fantastic religious devotion in Knave games, and to cater to players who want to play holy men and women. I steered clear of any class mechanics for clerics and paladins, as class rules go against the grain of Knave.

The simplest part of these are clerical spells. These are indistinguishable, mechanically, from any other spells, requiring spellbooks (codices?) to cast. Their religious significance would come from their in-game description, such as being relics of faith, sanctified items, and scrolls of holy scripture.

Additionally, a character may take vows of faith, and dedicate themselves to the service of a God (or gods). A vow must create a challenge in play, but not prevent meaningful adventuring. For example, a vow of Poverty (must donate  90% all wealth to the Church/the needy/sacrifices to the gods, apart from money and magical items used for personal adventuring needs ); vow of Vegetarianism (cannot eat meat; faces issues in overland travel and may require heavier rations in the dungeon); vow of Sacred Wrath (cannot retreat from battles with undead and demons); vow of Clean Hands (cannot steal); vow of Sanctity (cannot disturb quiet dead; can still slay undead and take their treasures, though); Vow of Truth (cannot lie). 

On the other hand, a vow of Pacifism will usually be inappropriate for most games, as it impedes gameplay too much. The other side of the coin is a vow of Celibacy, which will create only minor annoyances unless romantic encounters are a major part of the game, and thus would not work well as a vow.

Adhering to vows for a certain time (as determined by the Referee; a good benchmark is 3 or so adventures), as well as role-playing the character's religion (preaching, praying, and so on), marks the Knave as devout.

Devout characters, as long as they adhere to their vows and faith, enjoy two main mechanical benefits.

The first is prayer. Once a week, a devout Knave may pray to his or her God(s) and receive an Advantage to a single die roll within the next hour.

The second is rebuking undead. Once per encounter with undead, a devout Knave may hold up their holy symbol and proclaim the might of their God(s). All undead in sight of the Knave level or higher must make an Opposed save (Knave's Charisma vs. the undead being's Constitution). Undead who fail this Opposed save cower before the God(s) might and suffer Disadvantage to all rolls against the devout character and his or her allies for 1d6 rounds. At the Referee's discretion, this may apply to demons, or even Fey, as well. Note that certain holy relics may enhance the rebuke, forcing undead to flee. Mighty relics of faith may even turn undead into dust upon a failed Opposed save!

Breaking a vow removes the devout status from the character for at least the 1d6 months and requires penitence (usually an adventure for the God(s)) to regain this status.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Dark Nebula - Polity Budgets and Initial Military Forces

 

In a previous post, I wrote about using the old Dark Nebula boardgame by GDW as a background event generator for a prospective Classic Traveller game set in the eponymous Dark Nebula. The idea is to use the Dark Nebula board game, played solo by the Referee, to determine larger-scale background events.

The players will rarely participate in such events directly, but will, without doubt, be affected by them. For example, they may end up salvaging wrecks in a former battlefield; smuggling weapons to a resistance group on a world under recent military occupation; spying or serving as couriers for one faction or another; and so on.

One change I am making in my previous Dark Nebula customization rules is to permit all factions to use one Turn of their regular resources alongside their starting budget for existing forces, rather than requiring that any regular budget be spent on construction which results will only come into effect next year. Thus, the full initial budgets for all major factions and worlds in the Dark Nebula, as of 2900 CE, are as follows:

Solomani: 3 worlds, 6 outposts. Total 30 RU regular annual budget + 40 RU starting budget, for a total of 70 RU to build starting forces with.

Aslan: 3 worlds, 5 outposts. Total 29 RU regular annual budget + 40 RU starting budget, for a total of 69 RU to build starting forces with.

Mizah: 1 world. 8 RU regular annual budget + 8 RU neutral world starting budget, for a total of 16 RU to build starting forces with.

Karpos: 1 world. 8 RU regular annual budget + 8 RU neutral world starting budget, for a total of 16 RU to build starting forces with.

Rim: 1 world. 8 RU regular annual budget + 8 RU neutral world starting budget, for a total of 16 RU to build starting forces with.

Godoro: 1 world. 8 RU regular annual budget + 8 RU neutral world starting budget, for a total of 16 RU to build starting forces with.

Valka: 1 world. 8 RU regular annual budget + 8 RU neutral world starting budget, for a total of 16 RU to build starting forces with.

Now, on to purchasing initial forces:


Solomani:

1st Tank Army (1 RU; rating 8; armored), on Maadin.

2nd Jump Army (2 RU; rating 4; jump troops), on Mechane.

3rd Army (1 RU; rating 4; regular troops) on Maadin.

2 Outpost Markers (8 RU total; i.e., second-echelon occupation forces).

5 Transport Fleets (total 5 RU; Maintenance 5); 3 on Maadin, 1 on Mechane.

Dreadnaught Gilgamesh (13 RU; Maintenance 6; flagship!) on Maadin.

So far, 30 RU remaining.

1st Light Cruiser Squadron (6 RU; Maintenance 3) on Mechane.

2nd Light Cruiser Squadron (6 RU; Maintenance 3) on Mechance

3rd Light Cruiser Squadron (6 RU; Maintenance 3) on Mechane.

Total Annual Maintenance: 25 RU.


Aslan: (unit and ship designations are Solomani)

Ihatei Group "Humbaba" (2 RU; rating 3; jump troops), on Kuzu.

Ihatei Group "Pazuzu" (2 RU; rating 4; jump troops), on Kuzu.

Ihatei Group "Tiamat" (1 RU; rating 4; regular troops) on Kuzu.

Ihatei Group "Yaamashtu" (1 RU; rating 3; regular troops) on Kuzu.

Ihatei Group "Alu" (1 RU; rating 4; regular troops) on Kuzu.

2 Outposts (8 RU total; i.e., second-echelon occupation forces) on Kuzu.

7 Transport Fleets (total 7 RU; Maintenance 7) on Kuzu.

Mothership "Lioness" (2 RU; Maintenance 1) on Blatta.

1st Fighter Squadron (1 RU; Maintenance 1) on Blatta.

2nd Fighter Squadron (1 RU; Maintenance 1) on Blatta.

3rd Fighter Squadron  (1 RU; Maintenance 1) on Blatta.

Strike Cruiser Squadron "Tiger" (10 RU; Maintenance 4) on Kuzu.

Strike Cruiser Squadron "Sabretooth" (10 RU; Maintenance 4) on Kuzu.

Strike Cruiser Squadron "Leopard" (10 RU; Maintenance 4) on Kuzu.

Total Annual Maintenance: 23 RU.


Mizah:

1st Royal Army (1 RU; rating 5; regular troops).

2nd Royal Army (1 RU; rating 4; regular troops).

3nd Royal Tank Army (1 RU; rating 7; armored).

1 Transport Fleet (1 RU; Maintenance 1).

Royal COACC Squadron (1 RU; Maintenance 1).

Light Cruiser Squadron Excalibur (6 RU; Maintenance 3).

Annual Maintenance: 4.


Karpos:

1st Army (1 RU; rating 4; regular troops).

2nd Army (1 RU; rating 3; regular troops).

1 Transport Fleet (1 RU; Maintenance 1).

1st Destroyer Fleet (2 RU; Maintenance 2).

2nd Destroyer Fleet (2 RU; Maintenance 2).

3rd Destroyer Fleet (2 RU; Maintenance 2).

Annual Maintenance: 7.


Rim:

1st Army (1 RU; rating 4; regular troops).

2nd Army (1 RU; rating 5; regular troops).

3rd Army (1 RU; rating 3; regular troops).

1 Transport Fleet (1 RU; Maintenance 1).

1st Scout Fleet (1 RU; Maintenance 1).

1st Destroyer Fleet (2 RU; Maintenance 2).

2nd Destroyer Fleet (2 RU; Maintenance 2).

Annual Maintenance: 6.


Godoro:

1st Army (1 RU; rating 8; armored).

2nd Army (1 RU; rating 3; regular troops).

1st COACC Squadron (1 RU; Maintenance 1).

2nd COACC Squadron (1 RU; Maintenance 1).

Light Cruiser Squadron (6 RU; Maintenance 3).
Annual Maintenance: 4.


Valka:

1st Jump Army (1 RU; rating 5 jump troops).

2nd Army (1 RU; rating 4; regular troops).

3rd Army (1 RU; rating 4; regular troops).

1st COACC Squadron (1 RU; Maintenance 1).

1 Transport Fleet (1 RU; Maintenance 1).

Monitor Squadron Zmei (6 RU; Maintenance 3).

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Adventures in HOTAS

 

So, I bought myself a present for my upcoming 40th birthday: a Logitech X52 Professional HOTAS controller set for my computer. HOTAS stands for hands on throttle-and-stick, and, as far as I understand, is a term in real-world aviation cockpit control design. In video game terms, this means having two controllers: a joystick and a throttle. This allows for more complex and elaborate control of the simulated aircraft or spacecraft in your game.

What surprised me, though, was that many computer games which would be natural for such a control scheme have no support for it, or very shoddy support. Everspace, I am looking at you... But even the relatively compatible Elite Dangerous and Rebel Galaxy: Outlaw do not have full plug-and-play functionality here and require setup. Sometimes, extensive setup. Interestingly, the space fighter game House of the Dying Sun also has very limited HOTAS support.

And this is with well-established, common controllers. And it is interesting as these games look like perfect places to use such equipment, even as the primary equipment. Even with extensive Googling and experimentation, I could not get my rig to work with Everspace. I did, though, get it to work perfectly with Rebel Galaxy: Outlaw; I only have to memorize what each joystick and throttle button does.

I am in the market for "arcade-y" (i.e., not realistic simulators but rather more casual "simulators") games to use with my new gear. Preferably space, but could be atmospheric as well...