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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

You'll see futuristic technologies! Thrilling headgear! Spine-tingling toast! Be there! Scour the spaceways! Explore vast ALIEN WORLDS!

Hello all!

This blog is dedicated to all of those science fiction cartoons, comics, TV shows and movies that kept the dreams of space alive, despite the efforts of many a science teacher. I will post tidbits of real weird science, science fiction, UFO conspiracy material, cartoons, and science fiction tabletop roleplaying game articles.

Much more to come!