Thursday, 22 December 2016

Meta: New Look and Christmas Break

I'm visiting family for the Christmas holiday now and have decided that "But it's Christmas!" is an excuse for me to shirk all responsibilities, not just work and healthy eating. As such I won't be keeping to my twice-weekly schedule until the New Year. The first GURPSday pull of 2017 will be on 5th January, so I intend to have two posts for it and then back on the schedule afterwards.

I've also finally overhauled the look of the blog. A few weeks ago I realised I'd been on a totally unmodified default layout and colour scheme the entire time – having just picked one when I started up to satisfy the requirement and forgetting about it – and I've now got around to changing it to something more unique. I'm well aware the colours on the mobile version are a bit janky but overall I think it looks better. If you have any issues or critique, let me know.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Playbook: Armour Damage Threshold

Long before I started this blog or joined the GURPS Discord, me and Jose of Blogging At Default, Taking Extra Time have regularly bounced ideas back and forth, discussed things and come up with some new rules to handle situations. One of the things we had both run into is that, especially at high TLs, weapons can't keep up with armour, especially not military-grade examples. Someone in a combat hardsuit is all but invincible to any handheld weapons of the same TL. This presents an annoying combat balance problem if other players aren't wearing the same armour, as anything that might seriously threaten the hardsuited character will simply turn the rest of the party into red mist.

So the solution we came up with was a system to gradually degrade the DR of armours, based on the attacks that are hitting it.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Dramatis Personae: Arilith, Demon-Touched Sellsword

This post contains a small amount of content that might be disturbing. If implied sexual assault disturbs you, skip the first paragraph.

To say Arilith went to the school of hard knocks would be the understatement to end all understatements. Her mother, violated by a demon nine months earlier, abandoned her mere minutes after birth, naked and crying on the cobblestones of an alleyway in a pool of uterine fluid.

Looking back on it, Arilith figured it wasn't too bad a start in life. From there, the only way to go was up.

A good samaritan followed the sound of crying and picked the newborn baby up. Arilith was left at a temple in the city, where the monks and nuns raised her, always with barely-concealed distaste at her demonic heritage. Other orphans lived in the temple, too, but Arilith was always treated more harshly than them – with her fiendish taint so visible, the monks considered it their duty to straighten her out and make sure she didn't follow her blood, doling out tougher punishments and harsher penalties for rule-breaking and misbehaviour. Of no great surprise to experience parents, it didn't work, and Arilith ran away from the temple at thirteen.

Her life from there on out was a litany of pain and struggle. Forced to beat, lie, cheat and steal for her bread, she become harsh and hard as iron. Eventually she found employment as a thug and strongman for local criminals, years later legitimising into a caravan guard. With combat experience under her belt, she joined a mercenary company for a few years, taking part in two separate campaigns when her host was hired by the sitting duke. After interpersonal conflicts made life with the company impossible, she struck out on her own, renting her services as a guard, mercenary and sellsword.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Utility Closet: Spaceship Character Sheet

The last campaign I ran was space opera, set in the Endless Space universe. Being space opera, the players had a starship of their very own. It was more than a means of transportation – it was where they hung their hats and charged their power cells, where they slept and kept their stuff, and where they brought their prisoners (my players were quite sensible about not fighting to the death). The main problem of starships is that they have all sorts of statistics and resources to keep track of; power, fuel, reaction mass, rations, weapons, ammunition, etc. It got confusing for me to keep track of these on separate papers or files, so after the campaign ended I drew up plans for a record sheet to use if I ran another space opera game.

I posted it a while ago on the official GURPS forums, with minimal interest shown, though the one person who replied had some very useful input. Now that I have a blog that people seem to read, I thought I'd share it to a wider audience. This is only the second iteration, so I'm mostly looking for feedback, critique and improvements at this point; what more would you want in a spaceships' character sheet? Tables for quick references? More empty boxes for keeping track of miscellaneous things? Have I left out something huge? Obviously there's lots of empty space; my hope is to be able to fill it while keeping the sheet both attractive, simple and clean, and useful. Please let me know in the comments!

Monday, 5 December 2016

Meta: Dude, Where's My Shield (Design System)?

So one of the things I mentioned in a previous post is the shield design system I've been working on. I've also talked a bit about it in the GURPS Discord if you've been lurking there at the right times. It's something I'm very proud of because of it's elegance – it encapsulates what could be a very complex problem in a simple and direct way. But the reason it's not shown up on this blog yet is because last weekend I sent a query letter to Steve Jackson Games for writing it as a GURPS Pyramid article.

When I started this blog it was always one of my intentions to hold myself to a professional standard, as well as to use a similar voice and tone to Pyramid articles. Writing for Pyramid is something that I've thought about for at least the last year. I had the ideas, for sure, but the writing itself was the issue. But beginning this blog and setting my two-per-week goal has really helped me refine my writing, both in terms of quality and speed. After some unexpected but glowing feedback on the Discord, I decided to pitch the shield design article to SJG. I got quite a positive response, so if all goes well and it's accepted, it won't be appearing here. But, as Bob Ross says, it'll put a happy buck in my pocket. But if it's not accepted, I'll post it here!

EDIT: To clarify, nothing has been decided yet; the query I sent got a good response but there's no guarantee of publication implied in that. I did point them at this blog but I have no idea whether reading what I've posted here was part of the decision or not. I'll talk more about it when there's something to talk about.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Equipment Locker: New Beams for Blaster and Laser Design

I think I've talked about and teased my expansion to David Pulver's Blaster and Laser Design system for too long. So rather than keep you waiting even as far as the "Read More" button, here are the important numbers!

These were made from reverse-engineering energy weapons in GURPS Ultra-Tech. Pulver's system doesn't gel perfectly with them; some have non-exact focusing arrays or have slightly varying costs or shots. A lot of this can be put down to rounding errors; when you build a weapon that costs $4,956 you round up to $5,000, and when your power cell gives you 45.8 shots you drop the fraction and get 45. That makes working backwards a little trickier but not impossible. The bigger issue was holdout weapons, which almost uniformly had too many shots, too long range, and too little weight for their damage. This is the main caveat emptor for my expansions to the system: weapons smaller than a pistol won't work the same as the ones in Ultra-Tech.

There are some more specific things you'll need to know in addition to the numbers above. Those are continued after the jump.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Dramatis Personae: Ilia Elektrostal, Ex-Corporate Freemerchant Captain

Born on one of the harsher Russian colony worlds, Ilia had a typical colonial upbringing, lacking in excitement or stimulation. Perhaps that was why she had always ascribed a poetic wonder to space travel, and why she eventually decided that it was what she wanted to do for a living. She signed on with Dmitry-Akata, a medium-sized interstellar haulage corporation, who paid her a pittance for her job as a cargo engineer. But it didn't matter to her – she was getting to travel the great empty black.

She worked with them for eight years, rising to quartermaster, then first officer, then captain of her own ship, the CSV Jubilant Snowflake. By the time she was 29, space had lost some of its wonder, replaced by the day-to-day grind of tight deadlines, low overheads and demanding journeys. Perhaps part of her fatigue was from taking so much shit from Dmitry-Akata – pay rises lagging behind inflation, cuts to health insurance, overtime encroaching on paid leave and a million more little insults. All while the unions utterly failed to exert any pressure to improve their working conditions.

Finally, eventually, the camel's back broke. During a night of drinking with her crew planetside, they started all expressing the same sentiment: fuck Dmitry-Akata. Drunken, joking plans to liberate their ship from corporate hands were made, half-assed and filled with in-jokes. When the hangovers cleared the next morning, they all seemed to have decided that the old adage of "drunken words are sober thoughts" had a grain of truth to it.

They were going to steal their own ship.