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!