Friday, August 24, 2012

Asteroid Dragon


The Asteroid Dragon or "Rock Knucker" is a predator found on rocky moons and rugged worlds along the fringes of known space. How these monsters have managed to make it to so many worlds is a mystery, but the prevailing theory is that big game hunters and zookeepers have transported them for their own purposes. These monsters are a particular nuisance to colonists, as asteroid dragons are rapacious predators that will eat anything and everything they can catch.
Asteroid dragons are 16-25ft long reptilian monsters somewhat resembling a dinosaur or dragon from legend. Though reptilian in form, asteroid dragons are warm-blooded, allowing them to hunt a wide range of habitats, though they hate damp places such as forests and swamps.
Thankfully, these creatures are amazingly stupid, and can easily be baffled with electric fences and other tricks. The remarkable metabolism of an asteroid dragon renders it an immunity to all known poisons and disease, though they are host to a dreadful variety of harmfully septic bacteria.
AC: 20, HD: 12d8, THB: +12, Att: 2D6/2d6/3d8, ST: 7+ (Survival), MV: 6, SPC: Cause Fear, Disease, Immunity (Disease, Poison), Stupidity. XP: 1,000


Story Possibilities


Space Ranchers
An asteroid dragon has been stalking a herd of terran cattle on the outskirts of a colonial settlement. The big lizard has been nabbing cows, eating them bones, horns hooves and all to the distress of the local ranchers. The X-Plorers team is contracted to find and kill the beast.

Big Game Hunter
A corporate executive who likes to play big game hunter has hired the X-Plorers team to help him bag an Asteroid Dragon to mount on his wall. The players characters not only have to find a wild Asteroid Dragon, they need to "help" the exec make a kill without killing the beast themselves. 
To make this even more difflicult, the exec isn't a very good shot, preferring flashy guns and high-tech gear to actual skill. So the team has to not only worry about the beast, but their employers collateral damage as well.
Happy hunting!



Monday, August 20, 2012

Ravening Beetlebeast


Lurking on remote asteroids and lonely moons, the dreaded Beetlebeast stalks anything even remotely edible. These monsters will happily munch upon asteroid miners, algae, plastics, or anything else unfortunate to get caught. Beetlebeasts can survive in vacuum environments and are highly resistant to radiation, leading some specialists to surmise that they are the product of genetic engineering by some unknown alien race.
Beetlebeasts are powerful subterranean predators whose ironlike claws allow them to burrow through solid stone in search of prey. Beetlebeasts are tremendously strong, standing nearly 8 feet tall and over 5 feet wide. Muscles bulge beneath their exoskeletons and their powerful arms and legs all carry great claws. They have no necks to speak of, but the head features a powerful maw with 8-inch mandibles capable of biting through any hide, bone or steel and composites. Their eyes are mere blackened dots each the size of a small coin.
For all of their monstrous features, beetlebeasts are intelligent opponents. They lie in wait for passing prey, peeking through a crack they've made, until likely prey walks by. The rock devil then springs out upon its startled victim. When using this technique, opponents have a +4 modifier on their ST for Stealth checks. Other tactics involve planned cave-ins and dead-end tunnels and burrowing up underneath their chosen prey. Their burrowing rate varies from 4 meters per turn in solid stone to 6 meters per turn in soft earth.
AC: 16, HD: 8d6, THB: +8, Att: 3 claws 2d6, claw 2d6 and bite 3d6, St: 11+ (Survival and Stealth), MV: 6 (Burrow 4-6), SPC: Optional Movement (Burrowing), Dark Vision, Immunity to Cold, Radiation Resistance (+8 to save vs. any kind of radiation poisoning),
XP: 150

Notes: My players had a chance run-in with a Rock Devil this past Sunday. It is only due to some fast thinking and accidentally coordinated action allowed them to escape the beast. 


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Malkian (Cat People)

The Malkian's (Cat People) are a species of felinoids native to Freya. They also settled on a number of colony worlds and are allied with the UCN, often joining corporate nations as citizen/employees. Malkian have some similarity to the non-humanoid cats of Earth, though they are closer to the size of a human. They have fur in a variety of lengths and colours, including brown, black and tabby stripes. They have retractable claws which they can use for self defense and ritual combat. Malkian voices are often punctuated with sounds like the purring and of cats.
Malkian society is matriarchal, with a council of the wisest and strongest females leading a community. Males typically keep to their own cliques but regularly seek to gain the backing of a powerful female. Technologically, Malkians were comparable to early 20th century Earth (WWII era), but have been catching up quite quickly thanks to their sharp minds and usefulness to the UCN as scouts. Malkians are considered to be the most physically appealing of alien races yet encountered by the UCN, but are considered to be aloof and unfriendly by those who "dont get cats". All Malkians are curious and inquisitive people who take great pride in their appearance.
Restrictions: Malkians will never wear any armor higher than Flex Armor (AC 12). Due to the fact that they have a full coat of fur, they will overheat in a very short time if wearing armor. If a malkian PC puts on any armor higher than Flex Armor, they will faint within one turn. In fact, many malkians do not wear armor at all. Malkian can use force fields.
Attribute Adjustments: +2 AGI (18 max), -2 PRE (3 Min)
Bonuses:  Night vision of up to 30 feet. The retractable claws of Malkians grant them 1d2 damage on all open hand attacks (if a Soldier, increase Martial Arts damage by one die type, so 1d3+1 becomes 1d4+1 and so on). Also the heightened reflexes of Malkian grant them a +1 on initiative checks.

As Creatures
Malkians are intelligent and dangerous opponents as well as skilled scientists, technicians and spies. In combat, Malkians prefer ambush, sabotage and assassination to open battle. Malkians can be found anywhere humans are, often finding work for UCN corporations, UCNP (police), or as Space Pirates. Malkians tend to prefer melee weapons such as swords and sonic swords over firearms, but will sometimes use laser pistols.
AC: 14, HD 2d6, THB +2, Att 2/1d2 or by weapon, ST 15+, MV 8, XP 40

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Olympus Mining Industries (OMI)

Industry: Mining, energy
Headquarters: Olympus City, Mars, Sol System
Key people: Sophia N. Tusi, President
Revenue: increase UCN $ 2.147 trillion (2222)
Employees: 24,008,000 (2222)
Olympus Mining Industries (OMI) is a Mars-based interplanetary mining corporation, which is amongst the largest corporate states in the UCN. Olympus Mining Industries, including its consolidated companies and its share in equity companies, is one of Sol Systems largest fuel and ore producers, eludium marketers, hydrocarbon marketers and antimatter manufacturers.
The OMI is based primarily in Olympus City, located on the slopes of the mighty Olympus Mons of Mars. This city is owned and controlled entirely by the OMI, and is considered the jewel of the Sol System for its beauty, industry, and use of engineering wonders.  It is from this capitol, that the OMI controls and directs its enormous fleet towards the betterment of mankind.

History
Olympus Mining Industries is the longest running corporate venture on Mars, having its start from the earliest days of the Mars Terraforming Initiative in 2020.  In those days the OMI was a coalition of elements from the old Shell Oil, Space-X, NASA, and several smaller companies. From its beginning, OMI has been focused on unlocking energy sources to power a busy human race.
Now OMI ships and power stations can be found throughout the Sol System, from positron forges near the Sun (where antimatter is created), to gas mining on Jupiter, Saturn, and mining interests in the belt and on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.
Within the past fifty years, Olympus vessels have begun venturing into the reaches, seeking out energy and opportunities. The "Nomad" series of vessels are a recent marvel. Massive starships sent far from the Sol System to set up hubs from which the company might assay the surrounding star systems and make claims. These vessel are veritable flying cities, equipped with a Shors Hammer class Quantum Computer to aid the crew and to set up a "quantum beacon" to allow instant communications with home.

Government and Politics
Like all corporate states of the UCN, Olympus Mining Industries is run by an all-powerful Board of Directors under the leadership of President and CEO Sophia N. Tusi. Under the leadership of President Tusi, Olympus Mining Industries has expanded beyond the Sol System into the reaches, seeking an ever-increasing variety of resources and sources of power.
As a primarily mining and energy producing corporation, OMI has a large number of "factory" style work environments and has a "working man" attitude of self reliance and tough determination drilled into its employees. As with all major corporations, there is a definite line between management and worker "castes" enforced by policies and the OMI security forces. Execs rarely interact with workers and vice-versa.

Economy
Olympus Mining Industries is always looking for materials to mine and process, with a particular focus on gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium, hydrocarbons, ruthenium, tungsten, oxygen, hydrogen, water.
Olympus Mining Industries specializes in the following special materials;
Antimatter: The production of antimatter is extremely dangerous, and expensive, but the end result is the super fuel that allows interstellar travel possible. At present, the OMI is responsible for 64% of the antimatter consumed by the UCN fleets. Antimatter pollution is a major issue, as engines using this material for power produce a significant amount of radioactive waste.  
Eludium: A rare ore mined from certain neutron stars, Eludium is crucial in the production of gravity manipulating technologies as well as the newer models of matter screens. Eludium is very expensive to process, and mortality rates amongst mining crews is quite high. Despite these issues, Olympus Mining Industries controls the majority of Eludium production in the UCN.
Hydrocarbons: Reliance on hydrocarbon fuels (ie oil, amongst other things) is still widespread in the world of 2222. Hydrocarbons are cheap, easy fuels that are also useful in construction, domestic use and even as a component in many food products. OMI holds many mines throughout the Sol System and beyond, and are masters of its processing.

Io
Io is one of the moons of Jupiter. It was discovered in 1610 by renowned astronomer and scientist Galileo Galilei.A rocky world, by the 2100s Io had been colonized by Olympus Mining Industries who have built domed cities in order to create a suitable atmosphere for living.
The domed and underground cities are home to a wealthy aristocracy of corporate executives and their families. The domes are full of the very latest diversions and luxuries, and the best boarding schools in the Outer So System. Maintaining this colony are a great many robotic laborers, servants, as well as a solid core of human and chuman menials and technicians.OMI Security Guards have their own sectors and are quite well paid.
As an "ideal" world for the privileged, Io is closed to idle visit. Those just looking to see the sights had better have their papers in order. Security here is tight, but the guards are usually quite bored, and so greatly enjoy getting to harrass anyone there without proper clearance.
Many OMI execs will come from Io, or have at least some family there. It is considered a real honor to from or attached to the Io aristos, if only for name dropping purposes. For those not born, raised and educated in ivory tower opulence, execs from Io might seem painfully distant from "lesser" men and women, privileged, but a bit out of touch.

   
Using Olympus Mining Industries in the X-Plorers RPG
Olympus Mining Industries is a good example of a Corporate State for the X-Plorers RPG. Its is an immense, monolithic corporation that can pretty much do what it wants.Employees of the corporation are almost always loyal, as the OMI spends a great deal of efforts to make sure its employees are busy, either with work or entertainment.
Outside of the corporation Olympus is widely loathed as a slippery corporation with a long grocery list of violations filed with the UCN. Antimatter pollution, genocide, claims jumping and all manner of villainy have been laid on the doorstep of this Corporate giant. But with the kind of money that OMI can spend, it can afford mighty big bribes, and the best lawyers money can buy.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Zephys Class Survey Ship


The Olympus Mining Industries (OMI) has a large fleet of ships, but none are sent as far afield as the Zephy Class Survey Ship. This Class 2 ship is designed to carry a small crew into distant systems to continue the Olympus Mining Corporation's never-ending quest for valuable ores.
Make: Buckley Astronautics Shipyards on Deimos.
Length: 18 meters
Width: 9.5 meters
Height: 3 meters
Ship Class: 2
Type: Scout
Crew: 2-7, cockpit capacity: 3
Hull Points: 10
Weapons: Laser Cannon (1d6)
AC: 10
NPC Skill: 15/13/11+
XP Value: 60
Cost (in millions): 30cr

Equipment: The ships lab is equipped with the equivalent of a Scientific Kit, Survey Kit and Medical Kit. The Engineering section is equipped with the equivalent of a Mechanics kit. Furthermore, all ships come equipped with the following;
Base Camp Kit: As those found on page 11 of the X-Plorers rulebook.
Environmental Suits: All ships come with four E-Suits.
Ground Buggy: As a ground car (X-Plorers page 12), but built for heavy use in exploration. Each ground buggy has six tough wheels and a bed that can carry 2 tons of cargo. The driver cab is not pressurized, so pilots and passengers must wear environment suits on planets without breathable air. The Ground Buggy is housed in the ulk Storage compartment.
Manna Farm, Basic: This is a small unit designed to maintain and cultivate a small amount of Manna for an unlimited period of time as long as it is supplied with power and filtered water. This farm can produce enough food paste for up to seven grown men, or enough spacers gruel for two every day. This is normally unflavored.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Chuman: Homegrown Allies

Chuman pilots getting ready for a mission.
The Chuman (also known as the Humanzee or Manpanzee) is a chimpanzee/human hybrid initially created via genetic engineering. These creatures have been companions for humankind since the late 21st century, and can now breed naturally. Chuman can now be found working as pilots, technicians and many of the dirty and dangerous jobs so abundant in a busy universe. They have a significant presence in the UCNP, especially in outlying colonies where personnel is always thin. Though they are considered fully sentient by the UCN under the Transgenics Sapience Act of 2120, Chuman are still treated as second class citizens, relegated to heavy labor and lower management positions at-best.
An adult chuman is only slightly shorter than the average human, though broader in the chest, with longer arms and shorter legs. Though taller and straighter than a chimpanzee, they retain an ape-like posture and gait when walking. All Chuman have ape-like features and are covered in hair. They can wear clothing and use equipment designed for humans.
AC: 15, MV: 6, HD: 2D6, THB: 20 Att: 2, Dmg: 1d10/1d10, XP Value: 65

Player Character Information
Chuman make excellent player characters. They are tough, versatile, and allow a player to run a non-human without being too alien. Chimps and humans have more in common than humans and aliens would. Chuman characters will have been raised within human culture, albeit in a lower tier of society (usually), and will likely have a great deal in common with human PC's. However it should be noted that Chuman are considered OK to treat as sub-human in society, so elements of racism can and should be an element in the game world.
Restrictions: Chuman are restricted to the Scout and Technician classes, as these fields are what their species was initially engineered for. Though many Chuman are capable of becoming Scientists and Soldiers, the educational opportunities do not exist for these fields.
Attribute Adjustments: +2 PHY, INT -2
Bonuses: Chuman have a base armor class of 12, and a +2 attack bonus when in melee due to their long arms. Also, the great fists of a Chuman deal a whopping 1d10 damage, making it capable of breaking bones and denting armor.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Still Here!

It has been awhile since my last posting. But FEAR NOT, the (mad) scientists over here at Space Madness Incorporated have been working hard on further installments and additions to the SPACE MADNESS blog, particularly fleshing out the Terry Go Home campaign setting for the X-Plorers RPG.

I will be further detailing my take on my Terry Go Home campaing setting for X-Plorers, particularly regarding alien species, vehicles, and assorted setting details to help flesh out a vibrant game setting. I will have additional material posted soon so STAY TUNED!

On a related note, the X-Plorers RPG will be shipping to games stores this Fall. This is a big deal for an independant game company, especially one with origins as humble as X-Plorers. When Dave Benzi made the game, he really just wanted a fun game that he could play with his kids, one that focused on pulp sci-fi adventure. I think thats an origin we can all appreciate.

So get out there and support this game, and the games stores that sell it. Ask the folks at your local games store about it, spread the word. If you want awesome things to happen, you have to help.

For those of you who dont know, X-plorers is a science fiction role-playing game with an old-school feel. The system is basic and allows for endless possibilities! Here's a few resources to get you started:

Get a copy of X-Plorers now
X-plorers publisher, Brave Halfling
Official X-plorers blog
X-plorers Forum on Bravehalfling.com

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Space Command


Recently I ran across news of this upcoming show called Space Command, and I thought I would help spread the news. This awesome show is attempting to reignite the classic sci-fi legacy of vivid, optimistic science fiction, offering tales of hope for the future of mankind. Something that I think we need nowadays.




The show is the brainchild of author, director, and producer Marc Scott Zicree, who has contributed to many of my geeky favorites such as Star Trek – The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5 and Sliders. He is bringing together a host of super-talented artists, writers, and film-makers of all sorts to bring this wonderful science fiction series to fruition. And I for one am quite excited by the prospects.

The banner below will take you to the Space Command Kickstarter page.


X-Plorers and other Science Fiction Games
This setting is PERFECT fodder for science fiction rpg's, X-Plorers in particular. Just looking at the spaceship deck-plans (below) bring thoughts of tabletop rpg's to mind.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tally Ho Dragon!




The first doscking of a commercial spaceship at the International Space Station orbiting above Earth took place today, as SpaceX's Dragon (that's it up above) capsule arrived with supplies for the crew orbiting high above Earth.

So whats next fr SpaceX and commercial spaceflight? My mind swiftly goes to space prospecting, Lunar colonies and the journey ever outward. 

For those unaware, SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation) is a space transport company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. SpaceX was founded in June 2002 by PayPal and Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk. These guys want to push space-going technologies. Which calls to my not-so-inner child who has been continually frustrated by the slow advance of space travel.

Looking forward to see what will come out of SpaceX!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

NUGGET System RPG

This is a re-post from my other blog. I post it here because I intend to use the below system to flesh out a Space Opera setting that I have been knocking around for a bit (more on that soon). The below system is a "rules light" one that focuses on story rather than an endless list of rules.
Personally, I LOVE dice pool systems. This likely comes from my early introduction into games via White Wolfs "Classic" Storyteller System. Such systems allow a wide range of character concepts, but are not so simple as to avoid the mis-rolls, disasters and victories that are so very much a part of tabletop role-playing games.
So below are the base rules for the NUGGET system.This simple and easy to learn game system is brought to you by the folks over at Silver Branch Games and is completely free. You can download this game system here, but for ease of reference I have posted the rules system below.

NUGGET SYSTEM
NUGGET is a simple set of roleplaying game (RPG) rules. A group of people sit around pretending to be imaginary characters having adventures in a fictional setting. Each controls a player character (PC), except one who takes the role of Game Master (GM), setting up situations for the PCs and controlling the other characters they meet (non-player characters, NPCs). The players say what their characters do and the GM tells them what happens next. The story progresses through scenes of particular actions at a location. You.ll need pencils and paper and about 10 six-sided dice.

Basics
Characters are described with Advantages and Disadvantages compared to an average, untrained person. If a task is neither trivial nor impossible, you roll a "pool" of a variable number of dice to see whether you succeed. The pool is made up of the Base Dice that an average person would get, plus one die per Advantage (Adv) from a Skill (knowledge and training) and an Attribute (natural talent), minus one die per relevant Disadvantage (Dis); e.g. Research + Brains.
Base Dice (BD) set difficulty. Just rolling your Advantages is BD 0, a task that needs a professional. If anyone can have a decent try it.s BD +2 (probably the commonest). If only the best can pull it off it.s BD -2 (subtract 2 from your Advantages). Near-impossible tasks are BD -4. The GM can give an extra Adv or Dis for special situations. If you end up with no dice it.s just too hard.
Count each die that shows 4, 5 or 6 as one success. A single success means you just barely do it, though not very well; 3 successes is a good, solid result; 5 or more successes is truly impressive. No successes (all rolls 1, 2, 3) means failure. If they.re all 1.s that.s a fumble: you messed up and the GM describes the awkward consequences.
Exceptional success can be handled in one of two ways. For a realistic or gritty style run the game lid-on.: if all dice come up as 6.s you get one extra success. For high-energy, unpredictable action run it .lid-off.: each die that shows 6 can be rolled again for a possible extra success, and further 6.s give further re-rolls.
Opposed rolls happen when two characters come into conflict - a physical fight, interrogation, haggling, armwrestling or a chess match. Both characters make appropriate rolls. The one with more successes gets their way, and the difference tells you how decisive it was. Ties usually go forward (dramatically!) to another roll.

Making a Character

Attributes
These describe natural talent at general kinds of things. As NUGGET is very simple there are just four:
Brawn - strength, toughness, stamina
Agility - speed, coordination, flexibility
Brains - noticing, remembering, working things out
Will - determination, self-control, charisma
Most people are rated at 0, the average point. Some are talented at +1. A few are exceptional, rated +2. Some are particularly poor, rated -1. Player characters are well above average. You have 2 points to raise Attribute levels. Spend both on one at +2, or split them between two at +1. If you take one at -1 it gives an extra point to spend.

Skills
These are areas of knowledge, training and experience, like Fighting with Swords, Piloting Starships, Chemistry or Investigation. They go in levels 1-4: Basic, Professional, Expert, Master. NUGGET doesn.t give a list, so you.ll have to name your own, neither too broad nor too narrow.
Write down your Occupation. This is what your character spends their time doing - Space Smuggler, Doctor, Private Detective, Barbarian Warrior, Schoolgirl, etc. It gives 1 level with a cluster of Skills, and you don't have to list them all: whenever it makes sense for an action to fit within the Occupation you get an Advantage on the roll (but use a specific Skill if you have one written down).
Pick one Core Skill that.s central to your Occupation (e.g. Medicine for the doctor, Sword Fighting for the barbarian, Pilot Starship for the smuggler) and write it down separately as level 2 (professional).
You also have 4 levels of Skills to allocate as you wish.
They can be new hobby Skills (the doctor might be an amateur stage magician), or you can increase specific Skills from your Occupation - your work is your life!

Finishing off
Write down 1-3 Goals - things that are important to the character, which could be people, objects, organisations, principles or things they want to achieve.
Write down your Initiative bonus: the total of Agility and Brains Advantages and the levels of your highest Fighting Skill. (Disadvantages subtract; it can go negative.)
Write down your Physical Resistance (2 + Brawn Advantages) and Mental Resistance (2 + Will Advantages). These scores are the number of dice you'll actually roll (BD 2) - it speeds things up if they.re handy.
Write down Destiny Points, with space for it to change over time. You start with 1 point.
You have ordinary items of equipment to allow you to perform your Skills - beyond that it depends on the game.

Combat
Initiative. When it comes to high-speed action, things happen in rounds: chunks of time a few seconds long divided into 10 phases. At the start of a round everyone rolls one die and adds the result to their Initiative bonus.
The GM counts down from 10 to 1, and your initiative total tells you when you can take your action (e.g.punching, throwing, shooting). After phase 1 the next round starts, until the fight is over. A total over 10 means you can act once on 10 and again on the remainder (e.g. 14 => 10, 4), up to 10, 8. A total less than 1 means you.re too confused to take an action this round. You can also do one simple thing for free each round any time after you're ready for your first action (Phase 1 if you can.t act) - e.g. drawing a weapon, picking something up or running a short distance. More involved actions like all-out sprinting take an action. You can delay an action till later in the round. Characters acting on the same phase go in order of Initiative bonus. You can defend against an attack at any time; one roll counts against all attacks in that phase.
Attack and defense. Attack rolls use the relevant Skill plus Agility, usually BD +2. Defences, like parrying or dodging, are similar but use any close combat Skill (e.g. not Gun), and against projectile weapons are BD 0 to BD +2 depending on cover. If the attacker gets more successes it.s a hit and does damage; otherwise it misses.
Damage. Add the difference between attack and defense successes to the base damage, below. Hand-tohand attacks add Brawn Advantages as well.
0 unarmed
1 knife, small club
2 sword, big club, axe, spear, arrow
3 big sword, polearm, handgun, SMG
4 rifle, shotgun
6 machine-gun
8 tank gun

The target rolls Physical Resistance to withstand the attack, with successes taken away from the total damage. (A fumble adds 1 to damage!) Read the result off here:
1-2 Hurt
3-4 Injured
5-6 Injured and Unconscious
7+ Injured and Dead

Note Hurts and Injuries on your character sheet : they build up and give penalties while they last. Hurts are bruises and cuts that slow you down - each subtracts 1 from Initiative for future rounds and takes 5 minutes of rest to disappear. Injuries are serious wounds - each takes 1 off Initiative and gives a Disadvantage for all rolls except Resistance, and takes a day of rest and care to recover.
.Unconscious. and .Dead. are self-explanatory. Someone with medical supplies can try first aid: roll Medicine + Brains, BD 2. Each round the patient and healer do nothing else, one success can be spent to heal a Hurt.
Combat details. Any armor worn subtracts from damage: 1-3 points for archaic types, possibly up to 5 for modern types. Firearms with spray/burst firing give an Adv to hit. Shields give an Adv to defend. Surprise, e.g. if an opponent has successfully sneaked up, means no defence roll is possible. Unseen opponents turn attack and defense into Fighting + Brains rolls, BD 0.

Special rules

Weird stuff
This includes things like magic and psychic powers. NUGGET doesn't try to cover these. The way they work makes a big difference to the feel of a game, and that needs detail. One simple way is to set them up as Skills, rolled normally but costing a physical or mental Hurt for fatigue unless a success is spent to be good enough to avoid it. The players and GM need to agree how much or little these can do. Possibilities include .Telepathy., .Moving Objects., .Fire Magic. and .Illusion.. Mind-based attacks use Brains with Will as base damage, or just a roll with Will.

Destiny Points
These are a mixture of karma, luck and self-esteem, given by the GM during play and spent to direct the character.s path. Use counters for Destiny during a session and write it down at the end. Gain a point for doing something cool like beating an enemy, performing a dangerous stunt, or just making everybody laugh. Gain a point if the character takes an important step toward one of their Goals in a scene - but a point can also be taken away if a Goal is seriously thwarted, like your beloved aunt getting hurt or the Empire taking over your base! (If you are already at zero and would lose a point, the GM gains one to a general pool for the opposition.) Spending Destiny. Spend one to make a roll again and keep the result you prefer. If the GM allows it, spend one to be unconscious instead of dead (some games should be dangerous, but usually heroes can survive all sorts of harm). Buy a new level of a Skill between adventures for (new level x 5) Destiny Points. Specific games may have further uses, like establishing a minor, plausible coincidence, or getting one die to roll when you have none.

Opponents
In general, give opponents the abilities they ought to have rather than trying to balance points. Minions are lowlevel riff-raff with an Occupation and low or no Attribute and Skill bonuses. Put them all on initiative (3 + bonus).
Even one Hurt takes them out of a conflict. Henchmen have higher stats and are taken out by an Injury or 3
Hurts. Major villains work like PCs, with abilities as good or better, plus other advantages like henchmen or fiendish devices. They start with Destiny - often one point per PC - and can get more for advancing their plans.
Animals, monsters, aliens etc can have Attributes beyond the normal range: up to +4 and down to -2. This is most common with Brawn, related to size.

Threats
Apart from combat, characters get exposed to all sorts of things that can do them physical or mental harm, like fire, poison, falling, or terrifying monsters. They're all handled the same way: the GM gives a damage rating from the table below, which is opposed by the appropriate Resistance and applied as above.
1 Irritating
3 Painful/Tiring (desert)
5 Damaging (ordinary fire, drowning)
8 Deadly (strong electricity)
10 Extreme (space, deep ocean)
Record mental damage separately: Hurts and Injuries add to those from physical damage, but heal
independently. An .Unconscious. result from a Threat gives an impairment lasting about a scene, e.g. blinded by a flash, fleeing in mindless terror. .Dead. gives a permanent condition - curing it could be a story seed.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Music The Game By II

Continuing from my last post on the subject of music for games, here are a few favorites to help add the right mood to your games. Personally I love having music playing while running a game. I suggest putting some thought into what is playing in the background. Not that every scene needs to be musically mapped out, but a little forethought can go a long way towards creating a properly immerse experience for your players.
This selection is more "Heavy Metal" than the last selection. Not to the liking of some but just the sort of thing to get the "old school" creative juices flowing.


Luca Turilli - War Of The Universe
Great for combat scenes and for planning out an adventure, the work of Luca Turilli is great for that action-packed feel so loved by gamers.  Particularly well suited to Mutant Future, Icari or Mystery Men campaigns or other games where characters can rock out while battling gooey space beasts.



Praying Mantis - Remember My Name
Moody and dark, this song from Praying Mantis is excellent for revelations, traveling music and at the conclusion of a story. Any genre of game is good for the music of theis awesome band, but I particularly like this music for epic Space Opera/Science Fiction games.


Magnum - The moon King
A more bluesy song than their usual fare, The Moon King is a good song for any sci-fi, fantasy or post-apocalypse game, particularly Mutant Future or classic Gamma World games.  For X-Plorers games, I think Magnum music is particularly good for colony worlds or when dealing with aliens and distant worlds.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

World Seeding: Panspermia Asteroids and Exegenisis


Where did life come from? Its an old question whose answer(s) have been hotly debated down through history. Whether you prefer religious, scientific, or a mixing of the two for your answers, the truth of the matter is that we can never really know. The best we can hope for is a really good guess, mixed in with an awful lot of hope that we are not missing the point entirely.

Still, the question is a very interesting subject to ponder. Especially when we use science fiction to flesh out the weird and wonderful nature of life, death and the vast expanses of space-time.

One interesting theory is that life on Earth came from space. NASA researchers studying meteorites found that they contain several of the components needed to make DNA on Earth. The discovery provides support for the idea that the building blocks for DNA were likely created in space, and carried to Earth on objects, like meteorites, that crashed into the planet’s surface. According to the theory, the ready-made DNA parts could have then assembled under Earth’s early conditions to create the first DNA.

Check out this cool video for some of the details of this fascinating subject:



Of course such theories are just that; theories. However they ARE very interesting and and feed the imagination machine at the heart of all sci-fi writers, artists, dreamers and geeks. The idea that life can be helped along my space bullion cubes dropped into the chemical stew of a planet makes the possibilities of extraterrestrial (and extra-solar) life all the more possible.

Another variation on this theory is "Directed Panspermia" which is the seeding of worlds is directed by intelligent beings. In-essence this is a form of intelligent design, albeit a scientistic variant of the concept. The late Nobel prize winner Professor Francis Crick, OM FRS, along with British chemist Leslie Orgel proposed the theory of directed panspermia in 1973. A co-discoverer of the double helical structure of the DNA molecule, Crick found it impossible that the complexity of DNA could have evolved naturally.

Crick posed that small grains containing DNA, or the building blocks of life, could be loaded on a brace of rockets and fired randomly in all directions. Crick and Orgel estimated that a payload of one metric ton could contain 1017 micro-organisms organized in ten or a hundred separate samples. This would be the best, most cost effective strategy for seeding life on a compatible planet at some time in the future.


This theory is of-course fertile ground for science fiction of all kinds, as the concept of super-intelligent aliens are involved in seeding planets. The potential horror of this is rarely touched upon by hopeful scientists and mystical gurus of course.


The Science Fiction Treatment
 In my favorite science fiction books, comics, movies and RPGs (including the X-Plorers RPG), life is widely spread across the galaxy. Though you still get really weird alien life, many worlds not only support life, but this life falls into categories that are comparable to life here on Earth. Plants are plants (and often falling into familiar forms such as trees, grass and flowers), and animals not that different from Earth reptiles, mammals, insects etc are all in evidence.
Though members of X-Plorers teams would be happy to find habitable worlds where potential food is available and air is breathable, one must sometime wonder why so many worlds in the reaches are inhabitable. If they were terraformed, than by whom? And will they mind finding all of these pesky humans messing up their planets?



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mystery Men RPG



Superhero role-playing games and I have a love/hate relationship. While I love comic books, and grew up on tales of superheroes, mutants and monsters, their translation into a working RPG is tricky to say the least. This trouble mostly has to do with the large lists of powers, many times attempting to cover the entire gamut of super-powers seen in the pages of comic books. Unfortunately, a truly comprehensive and "realistic" system quicky creates both a book-keeping nightmare, and a very, very dry game.

So imagine my delight when I encountered Mystery Men. This delightful game is a rules-lite superhero role-playing game based on the original fantasy role-playing game rules. Mystery Men! is designed to let you create characters quickly and get right into the crime fighting. The system is light, but the possibilities are nigh endless, limited only by the imagination of the player and gamemaster.

The game has only three classes, The Adventurer, The Scientist and The Sorcerer. The Adventurer is the classic two-fisted purveyor of justice (or villainy) who is well represented in comic books. The Scientist is the creator of marvellously weird super-science of comic and movie lore, While the Sorcerer is the weilder of weird forces that whips up plot-promoting and destroying effects. All three classes use the same "pool" of powers, which are effectively "spells" from D&D and other classic games, but can be taken as go-to powers, or in the case of the sorcerer and scientist, material for spells and weird gadgets.

The game was created by John M. Stater who is himself a huge fan of all that is pulp and marvelous. His obvious adoration of Golden and Silver Age comics is apparent in every page of this game, as well as in his blogs; The Land of Nod and Strange New World.
So check out this game: You can download it for free here, or buy a print copy here (only $8!).I strongly recommend spending the $8, as we should all want to encourage this level of awesomeness.

 
Uses in Science Fiction Adventures
Personally, I think Mystery Men would be GREAT for a pulpy, space-going game. Science-Fiction, Cartoons and Comics have always been chock-full of space-faring superbeings. Though most of such instances are of marauding aliens attacking Earth, many involve space-faring heroes and entire adventures taking place on assorted other planets and in the depths of space itself.
Not all superbeings can live in the vacuum of space or fly (few of them in-fact), but rely on all of the spaceships, survival gear and other gadgets that help make science fiction tales so much fun.
Some that come immediately to mind are:
Lensmen Series: This classic series of science-fiction novels is effectively about super-beings protecting the galaxy. Cool stuff!
Shi'ar Imperial Guard: A group of superbeings gleaned from across the galaxy to serve and protect the Shi'ar Empire. This is amongst the most impressive (yet mortal) supers teams of the Marvel Universe, and yet they only rarely gained any face-time. Frequent foes are the dreaded Kree, Skrull, Galactus (and assorted heralds) and other nasties.
Legion of Super-Heroes: One of the best of the DC comic series in my opinion. A future version of the classic justice league, now protecting sentient beings across the galaxy.Many of the space-faring enemies found in Superman and other series are very much still around in one form or another.
Space Ghost: Loved this cartoon as a kid. And though it is pretty goofy, it definately has a high wowie-zowie factor that cannot be denied.
Deathstalker: A space opera by Simon R. Green (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_R._Green) that features at its core a relatively small number of superbeings who savagely fight over the universe.
Star Wars: The Jedis for all intents and purposes are superheroes, and the Sith are super-villains. They not only posses impressive powers, but the universe is regularly devestated by their struggles and influence.

I will be posting articles for using Mystery Men in a space-faring setting, as well as taking a look at superheroes and villains found in science fiction. So stay tuned!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Food of The Future: Shmeat

Shmeat (short for sheet of lab-grown meat) is a lab-created meat product; essentially, animal tissue which has been cloned for the purpose of consumption without killing live, fully formed animals. This technology has been around since the late 20th century, but did not see wide public use until the late 2020s. After years of testing and refinement, a wide range of different meat products became available to a hungry populace. It is now an ever expanding market, especially in drought-affected regions, starships and the colonies.
Such in-vitro meat has a number of advantages. Being just a lump of cultivated cells, it is produced without harm or cruelty to animals. It is unusually pure and healthy whilst retaining the original flavour, texture and appearance of traditional meat. Perhaps most importantly, it requires far less water and energy to produce, greatly lessening the impact on the environment.
Shmeat products can be found throughout settled space. The most well-known meat types are "beef" "chicken" and "pork" but vaguely unrecognizable but familiar types are also very common. Most pre-packaged foods that include meat of some kind in-fact use shmeat. Some of the most widespread shmeat products are:
Burrito: A favorite amongst UCNP, miners and college students, burritos are widely sold and consumed. Each burrito is a spicy alternative to a tube of food paste found in the survival pack detailed on page 10 under Adventuring Gear.
Chili: A spicy favorite, sold in a self-heating canister, this soupy mixture included "beef" shmeat and beans in a red-brown sauce. Though supplying the benefits of a full meal, this canned chili is salty, and consumers will need to drink alongside this meal.
Meat Pie: A small pastry filled with shmeat (any type, or a mix), and a brown gravy. This greasy treat is loved by laborers beat cops, sec police and assorted night workers.
Not-Dog Hot-Dog: Any kind of shmeat can be made into sausages of all kinds, but none are as popular as the hot dog. Shmeat hot dogs are normally of the caseless kind, but natural casings are sometimes used.
Soylent Meat Spread: Made from in-vitro meat derived from unspecified proteins mixed with Manna algae. This nutritious, salty treat (spread on soy crackers) was originally developed on the formerly lost Betelgeuse mining expedition, but has since become quite popular.
SPORK: A ham and pok shmeat product that comes in a can. This sweet and salty product is greatly loved by those who lead an active life, and who need a jolt of fat and sugar. One can can serve as a days rations, but is usually used as part of a meal (such as fried alongside eggs or in a sandwich).


Note: This, along with Manna, is very real, and will be seen in stores in the near future. Shmeat is slowly being brought up to viability as a widely distributed food product, and may already have some "tester" products showing up in discount food stores and fast food restaurants. 
I am not necessarily against shmeat, but I am very wary. As with all new products, the earlier versions of shmeat are almost guaranteed to be fraught with their own pitfalls. I also lack any real trust for the corporations involved to not take disgusting shortcuts along the way. Thing pink slime is gross? Just wait! The future is bright with salty-tasting grossness...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sexy Space-Suits At Last!


Lets face it, many of us who grew up on a diet of sceince fiction have often envisioned assorted space babes (or space hunks) dressed in close fitting space suits. However, in the real world, sexy is the last thing that is thought of when looking to protect astronauts from the many forms of horrible death that space travel entails.

Still, it looks like truth may be once again catching up with (science) fiction, as new types of space getup's are being developed. Perhaps the sweaty teenaged dreams of Colonel Wilma Deering in her skin-tight outfits may not be far off from the truth. Rawr!

Researchers at MIT are working on a prototype for a skintight bodysuit that will help astronauts mitigate bone loss while outside earth’s orbit. Made of elastic mesh, the suit applies pressure on the bones, much like what gravity does to landlubbers down here. But although the Gravity-loading Countermeasure Skinsuit (GLCS) is helping keeping astronauts’ bodies healthy, it’s also giving them a glammed-down Ziggy Stardust vibe—completely apropos considering that manned missions to Mars are on the horizon.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Food of The Future: Manna

"Nothing wrong with dog's milk. Full of goodness, full of vitamins, full of marrowbone jelly. Lasts longer than any other type of milk, dog's milk." -Holly, Red Dwarf

Food is an important part of life, and can help bridge the gap between the real world and the imagined. Storytelling of most kinds can benefit from food, allowing us to better envision an imagined world via our association with food. In science fiction, we can easily ignore the fact that people need to eat. What food may or may-not be available in the future is a subject of debate. But it is likely that as living space dwindles here on Earth, and the hunger of the worlds populations grows, that we will need to pursue a wider range of foodstuffs.
In my X-Plorers setting, "Terry Go Home!", there are ccertain food staples found throughout the setting. Player characters will encounter these foods, and will be well acquainted with them. Below is one of them.


Manna
Manna is a catchall term for several species of blue-green algae such as chlorella and spirulina (as well as modified strains) that are highly useful as a renewable food source. Manna is high in protein and other essential nutrients, and has become a staple amongst colonists, spacers and the poor. As manna reguires only water, warmth and light to grow, it is very easy to maintain a steady supply.
Most spaceships (class 2 and up) come equipped with "Manna Farms" which grow a small amount of this foodstuff, processing it into several forms determined by the farms design. Manna is itself mostly tasteless (remeniscent of green tea) but holds introduced flavors with "chocolate," vanilla, peanut butter, and "fruit" flavors being the most common. The most notable forms of Manna are:
Manna Bar: Protein bars with a chewy consistency, typically chocolate, peanut butter, fruit or assorted mixes of all of the above. This is a common ration when exploring a planet and amongst the poor of Terra.
Manna Shake: This is a "milkshake" like substance (similar to ensure) that combines all of the nutritional value of a full meal, as well as quenching thirst. Commonly flavored in chocolate or vanilla.
Food Paste: This is the same substance found in the survival pack detailed on page 10 under Adventuring Gear. It is normally flavored.
Spacers Gruel: The simplest form of Manna, this food product is a soupy substance with a consistency optimistically compared to cream of wheat. As well as supplying the benefits of a full meal, spacers gruel also aids in the absorption of water (somewhat like Gatorade) and delivers stimulants needed to start the day. Spacers gruel is not normally flavored, it is just food.
Other Variants: Manna is sometimes made into a wide range of other substances, though these are used primarily on established colonies or on the larger ships. These variants include a protein spread (similar to Vegemite), ice cream, puff snacks and breakfast cereals.


New Equipment


Manna Farm, Basic ( 100cr): This is a small unit designed to maintain and cultivate a small amount of Manna for an unlimited period of time as long as it is supplied with power and filtered water. Each farm can produce enough food paste for two grown men, or enough spacers gruel for one every day. This is normally unflavored. All spaceships have this version of a Manna Farm on board.
Manna Farm, Advanced (200cr): This is a more complex version of the Manna Farm, capable of producing Manna bars, shakes, paste and gruel. Furthermore, the food produced may be flavored as desired.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Music To Game By

*Whew!*
Now that we are past the recent Holiday Season I will be able to get back into the cosmic swing and post some articles in the coming days and weeks.

Music To Game By
I like a little mood music running in the background while running a game, especially if there is a chance of distracting background noise. So here are a few videos/music samples that I feel enhance the feel that I like for Science Fiction games:

Ambient space music - Super Fata
Excellent for setting the feel of space travel, deep space or exploration of (seemingly) lifeless alien worlds.


No Quarter By Led Zeppelin
Mellow, moody and haunting, this song evokes all of the feelings I like in science fiction. Particularly useful when exploring funky alien worlds or traversing weird space anomalies. Yeah...


Birdy Nam Nam - The Parachute Endings
Birdy Nam Nam is a trip to watch and listen to! This song has all of the elements for a great chase of combat scene as well as revelations of greater threats for players. The video is pretty tasty too.


Through The Ergosphere - Simon Wilkinson
Excellent for background music for science fiction of all kinds.


X-Plorers at The Library!
I will be running a monthly X-Plorers game over at my Local Library for their Unplug and Play event. So if you are in the area, and looking for a game of X-Plorers, drop me an e-mail. This group will have a limited number of players (5 tops).

Friday, March 23, 2012

Space Gremlins (Little Green Men)

"So until we all confess
And admit we stole the candy
These little men are playing games
From here to eternity
But I'll be sitting by myself here
Waiting oh so patiently
Waiting for the sky to fall
And purge frail humanity."
-Project 86, Little Green Men
Also known as "Little Green Men," these irritating little aliens have been a source of considerable anxiety for cultures across the known galaxy. They appear, seemingly at random, and without warning. Most times these creatures are merely irritating observers, but other times they seem focused on bedeviling others with their continuous commentary and their sense of humor.
Gremlins measure around 2ft tall, have small torsos; long, frayed limbs; and spherical, bald heads. They have six fingers on each hand, and typically wear boots and trousers. They consider the human race inferior and are both interested and amused by human behavior. As they reproduce asexually, they are particularly repulsed and fascinated by human mating habits, which they will often comment upon at inappropriate tames and at great volume. On rare occasion, Space Gremlins are helpful to others offering advise or other aid, but the recipients of such "help" are rarely overjoyed during the process.
Intelligence 3d6+2 (18 max), Physique 3d6-2 (3 min)
AC 10, HD 1d4 (2 hp), THB +0, ATT 1d3 or by weapon (see below), ST 13+, MV 3, SPC Dark Vision, Clairvoyance, XP 25
Clairvoyance: Space Gremlins are all considered to be psychic as per the rules found on page 32 and 33 of the X-Plorers rulebook. All members of this species possess the powers of Clairvoyance, even if they lack the prerequisites.

Space Gremlin Equipment
Space Gremlins use a variety of gadgets particular to their kind. These devices only work for Space Gremlins and psychic beings, using the characters psychic skill to activate). Here are a few favorites:
Anti-Gravity Belt (600cr*): This device allows the Gremlin to float as though weightless. While wearing such a belt the Gremlin can fly at MV 8, and can carry 2x its normal weight allowance.
Psychic Lash (1,200 cr*): This nasty weapon emits a blast of head splitting psionic energy as the Mind Blast Telepathy power. The device itself looks like a crystal or gem mounted on a wand or staff.
Flying Saucer (30-60 million credits*): These Class 1 or Class 2 ships resemble classic flying saucers and operate the same as human built ships of the same class. The only difference is that these vessels are completely invisible to all forms of detection other than sight, sound and psychic powers. Flying Saucers only work for Space Gremlins or Psychics.
*Only available from and for Space Gremlins.

USING SPACE GREMLINS
Space gremlins are a pain in the butt, and should be played up as such. Still they are rarely outright malevolent and have been known to befriend small children (who share their sense of humor). Most encounters with Space Gremlins will be as Astral Projections, as these creatures know that other races would happily kill them for their commentary alone.
They will often show up seemingly at random, playing jokes and tattling on others. Sometimes they act as teachers, instructing those they deem "wayward" in the proper course of action.
As Symbiotic Entities: Occasionally a Space Gremlin will become "detached" from his or her body while using its Claivoyance power Projection, effectively becoming stuck in that disembodied state. As per the psychic rules on page 33, Gremlins make for excellent symbiotic entities. Such symbiotic gremlins are happy to have found a new home, but can be difficult room-mates.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Life Giving Worlds: Types and Possibilities Pt 1

As more and more extra-solar planets are discovered, scientists are considering what planets may or may not support life. Though it will be a very long time before we might conceivably reach even the closest of our neighbor stars, this study is a great potential source for science fiction writers.

Over the past several years, astronomers increasingly have been using three, somewhat overlapping, terms to describe a range of extra-Solar planets that have been, or may soon be, found. The three types of planets (or moons) are defined to be smaller than the gas giants found in the Solar System (i.e., Uranus, Neptune, Saturn, and Jupiter).
At least one recently discovered super-Earth and water world even may be capable of supporting microbial life. As the new decade began on January 1, 2010, more than a few astronomers appear hopeful that, within a few years or months, even Earth-like planets may be discovered that can potentially support Earth-type plants and animals.
Super-Earths: Bigger than two Earths but not as massive (and hopefully not as gaseous) as Uranus.
Water Worlds or Ocean Planets: Planets ranging from super-Earths to those smaller than Earth that may have deep oceans but little, if any, habitable land.
Earth-like Planets: Eventually, some terrestrial planets will be found in orbit around their host star's "habitable zone" and so may potentially have liquid water on their surface. They could be constrained in size to between one-half to twice Earth's mass or to between 0.8 to 1.3 times Earth's diameter.

Other odd-sounding planets include:
Iron Planets: A theoretical type of planet that consists almost entirely of iron and therefore has a greater density and a smaller radius than other terrestrial planets of comparable mass. Mercury in the Solar System has a metallic core equal to 60–70% of its planetary mass. Iron planets are believed to form in the high-temperature regions close to a star, like Mercury, and if the protoplanetary disk is rich in iron.
Coreless Planets: A theoretical type of terrestrial planet that consists of silicate rock but has no metallic core, i.e. the opposite of an iron planet. The Solar System contains no coreless planets, but chondrite asteroids and meteorites are common in it. Coreless planets are believed to form farther from the star where volatile oxidizing material is more common.
Carbon Planets: A theoretical class of planets, composed of a metal core surrounded by primarily carbon-based minerals. They may be considered a type of terrestrial planet if the metal content dominates. The Solar System contains no carbon planets, but does have carbon asteroids.

USE IN X-PLORERS (AND OTHER SCIENCE FICTION)
The uses in such a list should be apparent to any game-master, or sci-fi writer. Truth is quite often stranger than fiction after all. Imagine the strange cave formations in a Coreless Planet. X-Plorer teams have endless opportunities for explorations. As for life, consider the environment of a planet, and let your imagination drift as to what sorts of beings might live here, or how life from Earth might have to adapt itself.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

U.C.N. The United Corporate Nations

"Corporation, noun: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility." -Ambrose Bierce
The United Corporate Nations is an economic and political union or confederation of hundreds of Corporations which are located primarily on Terra (Earth), Mars, and Venus. The UCN was founded 150 years ago after the Great Price Wars of 2050, to stop future wars between corporations, and to provide a platform for dialogue. It is the largest human-run government in the Galaxy, and the primary motivator for exploration.
Though each member corporation is its own sovereign state, the UCN as a whole is managed by the Executive Board, which is comprised of representatives of the 12 largest and most influential corporations. Under the board are a vast horde of representatives from the other member corporations of the UCN, who continually lobby for their own corporations and interests. This chain of command filters down to a complex bureaucracy comprised of career politicians who are widely thought to be protocol-obsessed, petty, small-minded, arrogant, ignorant, cowardly, and notoriously corrupt. But somehow it all works.
The primary concern of the UCN is to make sure that all member corporations adhere to the legal trade standards of the UCN. To ensure these policies are maintained, the UCN employs an army of Diplomats, Lawyers and assorted pencil-pushers who are the dread of all hard working people across the galaxy.

PLANETS
The center of the UCN is the Sol System, though as mankind spreads farther into the Reaches, the grip of the UCN and the relevance of Mans Home Star remains to be seen. As for now however, the following worlds are the home of most of humanity:

Terra (Earth)
The birthplace of humanity and official seat of the UCN Executive Directorship Board. This world is covered in a nearly continuous, vast city. The only exceptions to this vast panorama of city, factories and roadways are the many polluted waste zones that dot the planet. Terra is home to teeming billions of humans, with the wealthiest occupying the highest towers, with the poorest living in grim warrens on low levels or in the wastelands.
Even the Terran seas host floating and sub-surface cities, though most of these are dedicated to the growing, harvest and processing of assorted food algae. The world's natural fauna is dominated by rats, flies, cockroaches and canines, while plant life is composed largely of weeds, cacti and other wild desert plants. Other animals and plants are only to be found in zoos, labs or as exotic pets. All but the wealthiest here live short lives, aging quickly in a toxic environment. Small wonder that here was born the hunger to explore and conquer the cosmos.

Mars
This dry planet was terraformed by land and resource hungry Terrans over a century ago. This world now has its own ecosystem, including genetically engineered animals. Mars is dryer and colder that Terra, but is comfortable for humankind and Terran animals and plants. Many species long extinct on Terra are thriving species here, though they are physically adapted to the lower gravity such as the gracile elephant and megaparrot (see examples). Terran bats in-particular have adapted well, growing to a wingspan of eight feet.
Martian-born humans possess a zest for life that is unmatched anywhere else is the Sol system. They are characteristically tall, thin people with pale complexions and large eyes from generations in the lighter gravity of Mars.

Venus
This jungle world was terraformed around the same time as Mars, and boasts a genetically engineered ecosystem reminiscent of Terra's prehistoric past. The world itself is largely covered with a shallow sea dotted with thousands of islands. The three continents named Phoebe, Ishtar, Labda and Aphrodite (see map). Ishtar and Labda are temperate while Aphridite and Phoebe are both tropical, though kept from growing too humid by steady ocean breezes.
The people of Venus are energetic, passionate people known for their boisterous festivals. Art. music and dance are great passions here, and the planets cities are always bedecked with elaborate artworks.

Other Worlds
Sol System hosts numerous smaller colonies, from orbital space cities to domed colonies amongst the systems smaller planets, asteroids and moons. Several of note are:
Astropolis: This is a massive space city located at the Lagrangian Point L2 between Terra and Luna. It is the oldest of such "space cities" and quite famous.
Ceres: This dwarf planet is located in the Sol Asteroid belt, and so has been extensively colonized in the 2100s as a main base and transport hub for future asteroid mining infrastructure. Now it sports extensive domes that cover the entire planet.
Io: One of the moons of Jupiter. A rocky world, by the 2100s Io has been colonized by humans who have built domed cities in order to create a suitable atmosphere for living. This is a wealthy world, ruled by Olympus Mining Industries.
Luna: The moon of Terra was the first major colonial effort of Terra, and thus is extensively developed. The majority of the colonies on Luna are underground, and are extensive.
Mimas: Mimas is a moon of Saturn which is also sometimes called Saturn I. Mimas was colonized by humans by the mid 2100's and became a popular holiday destination for spaceship crews and civilians alike. Mimas is corrupt, overcrowded, and has a high crime-rate. Traffic Jams were so large that deaths aren't uncommon due to starvation.

LAW AND ORDER
All corporations maintain their own security personnel, with mercenary armies are commonly used when operating in the Reaches. But closer to home (Sol System) and along established UCN trade routes, it is the UCNP (United Corporate Nations Police) holds jurisdiction.
Overworked and underpaid, these police guard the peace enforce trade rules wherever numerous corporations are active. Clashes between corporate security personnel and UCNP are legendary, and often true. So the lives of these brave men and women are rarely dull.
UCNP are distinguished by their uniforms and riot armor. Armed with riot guns, stun batons (sonic mace) or other light armaments. Distinctive police vehicles, weapons and armor are readily available to UCNP operative, with conditional access to heavier weaponry, such as mortars, powered armor and armored vehicles.
The UCNP also maintains a large fleet of relatively outdated vessels to patrol their territory. Most of the fleet consists of Class 1 Fighters and Class 2 Scouts, though larger craft do exist.

THE UCN AND YOUR CAMPAIGN
Player characters in operation anywhere near the Sol System or in UCN controlled regions will have to deal with some aspect of the UCN eventually. Staking a mining claim, collecting State bounties, registering planets, or similar concerns require dealing with the UCN.
The UCN and all of its aspects is a monolithic, bureaucratic nightmare. Such government personnel are notoriously corrupt, with the rare helpful representatives delegated to lower tiers of influence. On top of all of this, the UCN is VERY powerful, and capable of making all but the mightiest corporations quake.
Try to imaging any unpleasant experience of dealing with government bureaucracy, such as the DMV, IRS, the UN or any number of legal claims departments, and fill it with corrupt officials in most managerial levels. Now elevate that to a solar-system wide supra-governmental level.
Thats right. Welcome to the future...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Terry Go Home!: X-Plorers Campaign Setting

The campaign setting described in X-Plorers is wide open, with only scant material given so-as to allow Storytellers free reign to make their setting their own. This allows a "sandbox" type of game, where players can explore to their hearts content with no fear of tripping over canon material.

However, additional setting tidbits can always help in making a game exciting. So, I will be posting a series of articles featuring my own interpretation of the setting. I am calling it:

Terry Go Home!
As mankind seeks out new worlds to stake his or her claim in the Universe, there is always someone or something that just seems hell-bent on making things difficult. Whether it is hostile natives, hostile neighbors, the rigors of space and alien worlds or bureaucrats, things are rarely simple.
In this version of the X-Plorers setting, I will be looking at the universe from the perspective of the common man, the miners, laborers, policemen, and colonists trying to find their way in the universe. It will be fairly tongue-in-cheek (though often cynical), poking at the absurdities and frustrations everyday folk must endure while being assaulted while just trying to make a living. Hostile natives, hostile businessmen, and a universe full of trouble await.

Stay tuned!

Welcome to 2222 AD: The X-Plorers RPG

X-Plorers is a tabletop role-playing game of science fiction adventure. It is a game of interplanetary adventure inspired by the more optimistic science fiction books, comic, movies and cartoons. The game itself is rules-light and fast-paced, with an emphasis on daring deeds and critical thinking on the part of the players.
Character generation is quick and easy so you can get to gallivanting around the galaxy. Choose from four character types (Scientist, Soldier, Technician and Scout) with a simplified four-attribute skill system. Then outfit your team and prepare to make planetfall!
The rules-light mechanics of the game is very attractive to me as a storyteller and a gamemaster. Science fiction games can be very tricky to run, especially when at least half of the players are engineers, tech junkies, and IT people, as discussions on what does and does not work can bring a story to a grinding halt. X-Plorers makes no attempt to explain the how and why of interstellar travel, aliens or any of the things that causes the more anal of sci-fi fans to bicker over the differences between Hard Science Fiction, Soft Science Fiction, Space Opera, and Science Fantasy.

SETTING
Set in the year 2,222 AD, Earth's governing body is the United Corporate Nations (UCN), a political engine composed of representatives of thousands of powerful corporations. This pseudo-fascist government promotes Colonial Expansion of outer space as a main drive for society.
Earth itself is covered largely by sprawling cities, factories, spaceports and the corporate offices of the most powerful corporations. The employees of these corporations (the denizens of Earth) live in various levels of comfort, based upon their income and relative status (ie most people are poor).
Mars and Venus have been terraformed, and have been colonized for a couple hundred years. They aren’t nearly as densely populated as Earth, but do boast populations in the billions, and are also the home of many rapidly developing corporations.
Far beyond our solar system lie the Reaches, a densely packed cluster of stars, many with habitable worlds very similar to Earth. Faster than light ships, with matter screens, can make the long journey into space at incredible speeds.
Systems of the Reaches are still being explored by survey teams from the UCN. The UCN is looking for both habitable planets and those ripe for resource exploitation. Of course there are laws and strict (time consuming) procedures covering this exploration.
Some colonies in the Reaches are directly under the control of a single corporation, while some are under the collective control of the UCN. Others are independent, legally claimed and funded by other sources. Systems of government in the colonies vary from UCN appointed corporate executives to self appointed emperors or elected governors. Despite the presence of the UCNP (the UCN Police), the Reaches are a breeding ground for corruption.

HOW DO I FIND THIS WONDERFUL GAME?
Glad you asked! This game is published by the folks over at Brave Halfling Publishing (follow the link below). A free (artless) pdf may be downloaded, but for the full experience, and the support the future of this game, buy a copy.







SPACE MADNESS AND X-PLORERS
The setting of X-Plorers begs to be expanded upon. Int the days ahead I will be developing my own setting ideas for this delightful game here on this blog. There is so much to write, so stay tuned!