Friday, 20 October 2017

After-Action Report: The Prologue

  "This cell has been compromised, so only limited information will be relayed by this channel. Your mission hasn't altered – get to the pre-arranged location and retrieve the Mark. You'll know it when you see it."

That was the last communiqué the operatives of the Razor Cell acquisitions team received before all channels went silent. No more information would or could reach them, but that was to be expected. The Shadow Syndicate works so well and evades the long arm of the law precisely because everyone works in the dark.

Going in with poor intel wasn't unusual. It was in the job description.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Meta: The Return

Me, returning to my blog.
The Internet, 1983 (colourised).
So it's been a while.

The main reason for this was that the players for the game I had been planning (and getting really excited about) fell through, and it really bummed me out. It killed my desire to keep planning and scheming GURPS stuff, so I just sort of forgot about this blog and my goals of two posts a week died a quiet death. In truth, I struggled to meet that target almost every single week, so going forward I'm probably going to stick to once a week.

But there's some good news: after a while in limbo, the game has been resurrected! The three players have good ideas of what they want to play, I've started scheming horrible things that will happen to them and we've arranged both a Session 0 (for character creation) and a Session -1.

Session -1 will consist of me handing the players pre-generated characters and thrusting them into a situation with little context, designed for them to fail and die in a plot-relevant way, much like the False Protagonist trope often used in TV series. It serves the purpose of letting us get right into how the game works in play without having to explain it during character creation, allows me to tightly shepherd a scenario designed to display a variety of possible gameplay situations, and lets the players feel out how lethal GURPS combat can be without putting their precious homemade characters at risk. The more I sharpen my knives for this session, the better an idea it seems!

I have plenty of half-finished posts from back when I was actively working on things, so those will be resurrected too, polished up and make up new content. I will be doing some after-action reports on my sessions (providing the players consent) but I'm aware of the fact that they tend to not be very popular content. I know that I almost always skim over AARs on other blogs in the gurps-o-sphere, so I might instead do something like highlights or character descriptions. I'm going to play this one by ear!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Ad Astra: Breaching Pods

Does this count as stealth?
If you're a fan of science fiction and haven't already been watching The Expanse, do yourself a favour and take a look at the trailer to see what you've been missing. The series is great television, with a gripping storyline and good acting, while also being pretty damn scientifically accurate.

The second season's introductory two-parter involved an assault on an unregistered rotating space station, with an ex-Martian gunship and a cobbled-together Belter transport matched up against a single advanced stealth frigate. One character, Detective Miller, decided to join the assault teams, meaning he has to be on one of the breaching pods that will be launched towards the station. Before we see them on-screen, one character describes them as "a beer can taped to a rocket".

As you can see from the gif, he's not wrong.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ars Mundi: The Gravity Highway

When a working principle of manipulating gravity was discovered, the general populace went mad. "It's just like Star Wars!!" the popsci websites and blogs shouted, rabid with the idea of being able to take to the stars in spaceships that could accelerate so fast as to get to lightspeed in mere days. As usual, the scientists had to destroy their ill-conceived dreams – gravitics still have to obey the conservation of momentum. Just like you can't push your car forwards while sitting inside it, you can't speed a ship up with a gravity generator on board. The reaction force has to go somewhere. Dreams of routine space travel were smashed. All the technology really offered was artificial gravity on-board spaceships, and zero-gravity chambers on Earth. Anything else was impossible, it seemed.

It took about five years for someone to figure out a solution to the problem: the gravity highway.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Ad Astra: Gravitic Propulsion

What a diametric drive looks like, according to Google
One of the things I've had in the works for a while was a post about gravity manipulation technology as a setting element, how it affects other technologies, daily life, etc. This was originally conceived as a single post but quickly grew too big and unwieldy to be digestible. One of the most mature elements of the post was a discussion of gravitics used for space propulsion.

The standard approach to using gravitic propulsion in GURPS is to just slap reactionless drives on your spacecraft and call it a day. But this misses out on some cool opportunities! So let's take a deeper look at how gravitic propulsion might work.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Equipment Locker: Beam SMGs and Beam Staffs

I've already made some pretty big expansions to David Pulver's system for designing energy weapons but I'm always looking for new stuff to add. The biggest gap I saw that needed filling was the lack of any intermediate weapon form factors between pistols and rifles. In real life, the personal defence weapon (PDW) is a vital part of most modern military and police forces, as it gives a happy medium of firepower, controllability, and manoeuvrability in small spaces. For added fun, I also came up with a way to make energy weapons into long staffs, like the Goa'uld staff weapon from the Stargate series. Any plasma SMGs, blaster PDWs, or laser staffs you want can be made with the tricks here!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Ad Astra: New Propulsion Options

Glowing means it goes fast!
I've been playing a lot recently with the rules in the GURPS Spaceships series and have started to see places where I can insert my own rules, make edits, or plug in gaps. I'm working on another two posts in this vein, both thematically linked, but they're not quite done yet. So here are some additional things that aren't really related to one another!

Below are a two new takes on reactionless thrusters, using "real" science (depending on how you define both "real" and "science"), as well as a new superscience reaction drive and two options for antimatter rockets.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Review: Ultra-Tech Print-On-Demand

My preference for RPG books is always PDFs – I use a laptop when GMing anyway, since I like keeping notes, files and information on a computer because the structuring feels more logical to me. I find PDFs easier to navigate through than books, thanks to instant page-jumping and text search, so all of my GURPS collection is digital.

Until now! In preparation for my upcoming game, I bought hard copies of GURPS Basic Set Characters, GURPS Basic Set Campaigns and GURPS Ultra-Tech, the main books I'll need at the table. I bought them from Amazon UK and the copy of Ultra-Tech seems to have been print-on-demand, so I'll do a quick review of it!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Ad Astra: Shift Drive

Ludicrous speed... engage!
For some reason, I love space opera but hate reactionless drives. The two are usually part-and-parcel, since space opera tends to have spacecraft that travel at the speed of plot, but there are some exceptions. But reaction mass limited spaceships creates a problem, in that non-FTL travel inside a star system takes, at absolute best, days. If you want your players to be able to hurry to their ship, burn for escape velocity and dash towards the gas giant moon to save the stranded scientists... reaction drive travel means there's a period of a week or two where they're twiddling their thumbs. Kinda saps the tension out of the scene.

This isn't the end of it – there are plenty of ways to make this kind of timescale work in your setting. But if you want to use more conventional plots and timescales, you need a way for people to travel fast inside a solar system, and that means FTL. But this takes all the fun out of reaction drives! If all they're used for is getting to and from orbit, then they cease to be interesting.

So what if FTL travel requires deltaV too?

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Meta: One Year Blogiversary

I started my blog on the 9th February 2016, after learning about GURPSday from Gaming Ballistic and taking a look at the mess of textfiles on my harddrive containing hastily-typed notes on homebrew content. By coincidence, the one-year anniversary of the blog falls on a GURPSday! Nice. As a celebration, I'll look at the past year and look ahead at what I want to do in the next, along with giving two of my top fives: my five most-viewed posts and my five favourite posts.