Traveller High Society

An RPG Blog. Mostly about Traveller.

The Traveller game in all forms is owned by Far Future Enterprises. Copyright 1977 - 2019 Far Future Enterprises.
Traveller is a registered trademark of Far Future Enterprises.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Traveller Novel

Marc Miller has written a novel based in Traveller's Imperium. The story starts on Capital. There are sample eBook downloads to read at which look good.

For .epub files, I'm using Adobe Digital Editions 3.0 to read them on my Windows 7 machine.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

RPG: Sirene Geest Worm

From Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition.

Sirene Geest Worm.

Siren Spirit (or Mind) Worm.

Encountered by crew of the S. S. Tubantia (ca. 5590). No survivors.
The psionic kill shout comes from the shell (could be a brain of some kind there). It's not yet understood how the worms are related to it. Most crew only see worms behind furniture, or in darkened bathroom stalls before the siren tells them to hold a gun to their mouth as they try to resist the growing shouts.

The psionic connection does not indicate the location of the sirene geest. So it was assumed that the worms were the sirens. Or the Dutch scientist's records were not all that clear what was what really. And space-urban legends only continued the misnomer over time. Psi helmets work great against the creature.

If your players happen to find the S.S. Tubantia, they may find science records, some ship's logs, and lots of screaming.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

An Intro to the Bane and Boon Die Roll Mechanic

For a few weeks now, I've had a chance to play with what I think is the slickest die mechanic I've seen in probably a decade. This die roll has been used many times before in the past in all kinds of tabletop RPGs. But it was almost always used as a roll variant of some kind that GMs allowed in certain situations. One could make the argument that this particular roll is itself a mere variant of some kind as well. You at home can make that decision.

Some tabletop players, not all, will understand the mechanic used in Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition. It is the 2D die roll mechanic, which involves the rolling of two 6-sided dice. The result of which is a range of numbers from 2 to 12, as shown in the image below.

This mechanic works fairly well at helping players arrive at some prediction as to how their characters will perform when situations make it necessary. A difficulty for a task is told to a player, either verbally or mentally (not known to the player), by the game group's referee. Difficulties have numbers assigned to them, which are called target numbers. An average difficulty would be an 8. So a player would need to roll an 8 or higher for their traveller to succeed at an average task they are performing. Travellers are the characters in the game. I can do an entire blog post on explaining all what travellers are and can do at a later time.

A traveller's skill at something (if it applies to the task being performed) is added to a 2D roll. This helps (or makes worse) the chance of rolling a target number or higher to succeed. From looking at the image above, it is easy to see that the average for 2D rolls is the center target number of 7. There is roughly a 17% chance of rolling a 7, compared to roughly a 3% chance of rolling a 2.

And there are other things to add to a 2D roll to make success likely or not. Characteristic modifiers can be added or subtracted from such rolls. These modifiers may be based on how strong or how intelligent a traveller is, for example. Typically, a characteristic modifier is decided on by how a player is role-playing their traveller. Is a traveller using their strength in a situation? Or are they relying on their good standing with some high society people to get entrance to a fancy shindig? Or do they understand a medical procedure well enough to save another traveller's life? Every little thing counts for something here.

What's new about Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition are the new dice rolls, which are Bane and Boon. These new rolls are what I consider to be the closest a die mechanic can get to actual role-play while not feeling like dice rolls at all, if that makes sense. Players, who are in the middle of narrating what their travellers are currently doing in a situation, will provide their referee with enough detail and/or ideas where he may decide that a traveller is suffering from a bane or is progressing swimmingly from a boon. In which case, the referee asks for a Bane or Boon roll instead of the usual 2D roll players do.

The image below shows the results of a Bane roll. Notice that the range of target numbers is the same as that found in the 2D roll above. The results seem to clump around the value of 5 now, with a slim chance of rolling a 12.

So how is this done? By rolling three 6-sided dice, and removing the highest die from the rolled amount.

And for Boon rolls? The reverse. Simply remove the lowest die from the rolled amount. See the image below.

The Boon roll wants to clump around the value of 9 now, while the value of 2 is almost ignored completely. It too falls into the same range of numbers generated by 2D rolls (2 through 12).

So what does this mean as far as how 2D rolls use additions and subtractions to reach their target numbers? Well, Bane and Boon rolls will still work with a traveller's skill levels and their characteristic modifiers and other +/- values (known as dice modifiers, called DMs) just as 2D rolls work with them. Because Bane and Boon rolls are simply die rolls as far as the die mechanic is concerned. Their range of numbers will still be the same. Just their "shapes" (their probabilities) have changed.

I've said to others that Bane and Boon rolls are easy to master, but difficult to understand. It's kind of a play on sentences. But you should see how much chaos this slickest sweetest little gem of a die roll has caused many a so-called "30-year veteran" Traveller player to outright lose it all. Bane and Boon definitely separates the role-players from the chuckleheads.

So for now, I will leave things here at this point. In a future post, I will talk about the how and when and why of using these Bane and Boon rolls during role-play.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

My Players Just Sit There!

So anyway...

During your game session, the players are just sitting around like lumps on a log. Your story has lots of plots. The player characters all have arcs. You've even got hooks everywhere that the characters put on their to-do lists. So why is there no action occurring? Players are uttering lots of "umm" and "uhh" and "hmm", but nothing intelligible.

I'll blame the story. Get rid of it. If you don't have role-players in your group, just get rid of it. Stories enable non-role-players to just sit and listen for a cool story about their characters to be told by the GM. The more of a story there is, the more the players are waiting to hear about how great and awesome their characters are. So toss it. And toss the hooks if you have too many. That only causes players to sit and play chess, taking forever to "make their move" while they decide which hook is the best one to pick.

Maybe none of this really matters, since a huge amount of GMs run these kind of games. Such GMs will tell you, "I've been GMing for 30 years, blah blah."

Ok. So they've been dealing with lumps on logs for 30 years. Maybe there is no help for them. For those that want to try something else though, give a sandbox a try for your next game session. Have your players just role-play what their characters would do. I know. It sounds like a totally different kind of game, if not just a simple 180 from what you're used to doing. But try it out. Do a one-shot session. Not some full blown campaign. Because you know how those have resulted in the past already. And one-shots are great for trying out new gaming styles.

And the players can't be asking you questions anymore. That needs to stop right now. Ok. Now the game sounds even more alien to you.

Good... Good! Ask me questions if you need more details.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Is RPG Support Even Do-able?

I was thinking of writing this on my tech blog, but thought more that perhaps this was not really a tech issue. So I'll assume it's an RPG problem.

There are many "expert" sites now on this WWW (Weird World War... no, that's not right) that proclaim to answer anyones "tech" issues. One such site is which specializes in RPG tech. With questions like, "Which roleplaying games feature realistic combat?"

And sure enough, every RPG under the Sun ends up being posted as an answer to the question. This group effort of helping someone with a technical question results in a huge list of all RPGs. It happens every time. 50% of the answers are complete NULL because the posters didn't bother reading the question first. "Oh! A list of RPGs is being generated! Let me add my favorite game here!" Another 49% will not have an answer, but will feel they should at least add their favorite game to the growing list anyway. "Everyone else did it."

Which leads me to believe that once again (while trying to be an optimist still), in general, role-play gamers are pretty much just chuckleheads. Which is sad. Because they all try to make themselves out to be experts on everything when you try to talk with one. Which is also sad.

A typical 35-year-old-to-old-geaser that plays Traveller will say, in a heartbeat, that they are an expert when it comes to science (if not quantum physics). And they will mention some kind of degree they have, blah blah. They will tell you that their Traveller game sessions are based on real science, etc etc. Yet when you watch one of their games, there is no science mentioned, and everyone is acting like they're a character in Spaceballs. If you were to ask any of the players how some scientific piece of equipment worked on their ship, they'd look at you like a deer in headlights and have no answer.

By the way, there is no science in Traveller. Just so you know. It's just a generic role-playing game, with some sci-fi in it, that I wish people would role-play instead of whatever it is they're doing in a game session.

Anyway, my hobby is cluttered with such people. And they're the ones asking why their RPG game is not as popular as it should be. They're the ones asking how they can get new players into the hobby, and so on, and...

They're the ones new players have to ask for RPG support.

Horror Belongs in the Mind

There are RPGs that have horror rules in them. Such games allow the players to metagame a sense of horror for their characters. These same games suffer from far too many pauses of play while players tally up their fright levels.

The argument about whether or not certain RPG rules promote game play or game pause I will save for another time. So until then, I'd like you the reader to think about ways your group can prevent game pause from happening. I'm assuming of course that a gaming goal of your group is to role-play out scenes in real-time.

What is real-time? Think of it as movie-time. A movie with no pause button. Never do you see characters in an action film pause themselves during combat. You'll also notice that they never pause during all the other scenes either.

Now what to do with this horror mechanic getting in the way of our real-time role-play? Well, what frightens you when watching horror movies? It's not watching the characters in the film fail their fright checks because that's not done in stories.

"Stories?! I thought you were talking about movies?"

Stories are the root of all movies... as well as all role-play sessions. I won't go into it too much here. But let's just assume that a scene your group is role-play in is simply a little mini-story. And that story comes from the narrations of the GM, the NPCs, and even the PCs. This provides all the mental picturing the players need to see a capsuled action scene in their heads. Everyone sees themself as their character in a movie. Probably from a medium-shot angle even.

"So then we look up our amount of fright?"

No. The fright will come on its own time as your mental image fills in described visuals from the GM and his NPCs. Assuming, they are horrific visuals. And your role-play will determine how best your character reacts to such things. If your character reacts by jumping real quick (they're startled), roll to see if that jump is successful (use a negative modifier). Maybe you jumped clear. Maybe you tripped up. Either way, anything else you try to do at that moment will have a negative modifier because you are busy getting out of the way.

The GM quickly describes what happens next, with another horrific visual added. And so on. Within moments, you'll realize that a horror mechanic is not needed at all.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Traveller App(s) for Q4 2015

RPGSUITE.COM e-mailed out their latest newsletter today (you can visit their site to get on their e-mailing list). The newsletter contained links to the various media sites out there, with one of them being YouTube. And that means a video.

The sound track was off by more than a few seconds. But with a few re-winds of the video, it's made clear what RPGSUITE's app does. Just a few parts of it are shown. The app uses a hex grid themed GUI, which I can live with. After all, Traveller utilizes both hex and square grids throughout its fan-made modules, if not in the game's actual rule books.

Because Mongoose Traveller Second Edition has not been released yet, there are some parts of the app which obviously cannot be shown. I've been updating my own apps so that they follow the Second Edition rules. I wish I could show at least one of them in a video. But I'm waiting for the hardcovers to ship (maybe sooner, if PDFs are shipped first). I am pretty excited about the cleaned up rules (and better organized) and the revised die mechanic for resolving skill checks quicker (which means less game pausing, because every little bit of improvement counts over time). It makes Classic Traveller's mechanic look more like an abacus-slash-slide-rule-hybrid of a sort. If there was ever a 6-bit computer, Classic Traveller would be perfect for it.

Mongoose could have taken Traveller into Cortex Plus, Savage Worlds, FATE, or FFG Star Wars territory. I'm glad they chose to just make slight improvements (here and there) of their existing game instead.

Yes, I know. It's been awhile since I did any typing on my blog. What can I say? I'm in a holding pattern.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"Old-School RPG" means...?

I love seeing old dudes with fanny packs arguing with each other about what "old-school RPG" means. The answer is right in front of them. It's at their game tables. It's in their recorded Google+ Hangout sessions. It's probably a huge reason as to why very few women even participate in such games. It's because these same dudes all play their role-playing games like a CLUE board game.

That is what "old-school RPG" means.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Some Vue Renders

Played with Hexagon last night. Added more to my labship that was sitting on my drive for a year or more. Used Carrara to procedurally texture it after UV mapping the thing in 3D-Coat.

Rendered in Vue Infinite.

Turned on the ground plane for this shot. Added clouds and atmosphere. The terraformed Mars is my go-to planet for the token spherical object that is always necessary for completed CGI artwork.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Another Tigress render. Trying out the edges in Fotosketcher.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015