Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What I'm Using Part 2 (and an Addendum to Part 1)

In part 2 of this series detailing what bits and pieces I'm using from Savage Worlds, I'm looking at fan-made resources. One of the things that initially drew me to the D20 system was that there were a lot of properties using D20 as their base. Some of the finer details may have differed, but by and large I could use the stats from Babylon 5 with Star Wars and those with D&D. When I discovered the Savage Worlds system, I found that that same level of interchangeability was already there thanks to the fans savaging every setting under the sun. For someone like me that likes to toss a lot of genres in the pot to see what comes out that's simply fantastic. It made leaving D20 that much easier.

That said, with popular properties you may find a lot of different takes on how to handle the settings. That's certainly the case with settings like Mass Effect and Star Wars. I'm going to highlight a few of the set that I like and what bits I'm taking from each. Most of these settings can be found at Savageheroes.com, so if something mentioned here catches your fancy head on over and check it out. Like with official sources, I tend to focus on races and creatures and other bits that are easy to add to my list of setting rules.
  • 28 Days of Savage Space: Nicholas Torbin Bergquist did a great set of posts on his blog Realms of Chirak where he did a different sci-fi themed post outlining various NPC's, species, locations, tech, and so on. At the end of the series (which I really wished would have continued), he collected the posts into a pdf. There is some great material here. I hope that he returns to the theme again someday. 
  • A Yelp in the Dark: Chad Jones on his blog A Yelp in the Dark has been putting out a series of planetary one-sheets. These are excellent resources if you're in need of a planet on short notice. The One-Sheets are well done and hope he keep putting them out on occasion, and I look forward to seeing how his own setting is going to come together. 
  • Alien Vs. Predator: In my posts about the enigmatic Yautja (Predators) and the dreaded Xenomorphs, the conversion by James Houlahan is where I got the stats that I use. 
  • Dark Sun: I use the Muls and Thri-Kreen from Geek Ken's conversion of Dark Sun.
  • Fading Suns: There is an ongoing conversion of Fading Suns into Savage Worlds on G+ right now (check it out here). +Richard Ashley has done a fantastic job of savaging the Fading Suns setting. I may ample use of his conversion of the FS races (Gannok, Ur-Ubon, Ur-Ukar, Vorox, Shantor, and Etyri as well as some of the Edges and Hindrances and gear as well. 
  • Farscape: There is a pretty bare bones conversion of the TV show on Savage Heroes. I don't know who did the work, but I go to it for race stats. Still the D20 version is still an excellent resource for Farscape information from the first season and converting the ample bestiary isn't difficult. 
  • Gamma World: Gamma World Revised by Kenneth MacArthur is the version that I've been culling material from. I don't tend to use many of the mutations since Darwin's World and Broken World keep me pretty covered there. However, the bestiary in this book is well done and ripe for harvest, especially if you want to inject a dose of the weird into your space opera. 
  • Mass Effect: Hoo boy, there is a lot to sift through here! There are several different takes on the ME universe, but I tend to use Even Kreider's SW Mass Effect V5 more than the others. The doc isn't nearly as polished as some of the others, but it is more complete with a rather well done bestiary. That said, I do also make note of Ashavan's Savage Mass Effect V2 largely since it's the only ME conversion I've found that makes a point to also offer Protheans as a playable race (with GM approval). 
  • Savage Babylon 5: This conversion was put together by Markus Finster. It's got write-ups on several of the races and several starships. I've even played around with the idea of adding his Technomagery Arcane Background to Mythic Space either as is or as a stand in/add on to Mass Effect's Omni-Tool effects.
  • Savage Battlestar: I've played around with the idea of adding Cylons to Mythic Space, but I don't know how I'd incorporate them. However, should I decide to do so I'll use the stats found in John Brown and Rick Peterson's conversion of Battlestar Galactica.  
  • Savage Journe: This excellent conversion of the Skyrealms of Journe by Bruce Anderson is a great place to look for stats for Journe races and creatures. 
  • Savage Star*Drive: This doc written by John W Thompson is a very brief and dirty conversion of Alternity bits for Savage Worlds. It's also just about the only doc I've found covering the subject. 
  • Savage Titan: Written by J.L. Herbert, this is a savaging of the Titan A.E. movie setting. 
  • Savage TORG V4: I was always a fan of the TORG setting, and Brian Reeves' conversion is a great place to look to recreate that action with (in my opinion) a much better system. 
  • Savage Traveller: Put together by Jon Woodland, this is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to bring in Traveller tech to their Savage Worlds games. Most importantly though, are the conversion notes for Traveller starships. 
  • Savage U.N.I.T.: This Whoverse doc put together by "AgentofPing" has a good bestiary of classic foes from Dr. Who like the Daleks and Cybermen. 
  • Star Frontiers: Greg Bruni has put together one of the finest conversions of a setting into Savage Worlds I've found. His conversions are great and I make liberal use of them. 
  • Star Wars: I've long thought that Savage Worlds is the perfect ruleset for Star Wars, and considering the number of attempts that can be found on the internet, many other agree. The conversion that I keep going to is Mike Glanville's attempt. It's a whopping 102 pages cover a wide array of species, droids, starships, creatures, and NPC's. It really is the most complete package and one that I rob for stats a lot. 

There were a couple missed official settings, so here's the Addendum to Part 1. 
  • Nemezis: I really like this setting, but I like stripping out bits to use in Mythic Space more. I've already mentioned how I'm using a couple of the Nemezis races here, but I'm working on ideas on how to use the Barizians as well. The bestiary is filled with some really horrific aliens as well. 
  • Nova Praxis: I've never really liked the Transhumanist genre, but I do consider the ideas presented in Nova Praxis (and by extension much of the genre as well) a good example of far future tech. I'm toying around with the idea of adding Sleeved and SIM characters to Mythic Space possibly as prototype technology. There are also a few interesting aliens in the Sample Antagonists section as well. 
  • Space 1889 - Red Sands of Mars: The bestiary for this setting is excellent and can easily be ported to the setting of your choice. 

So there are the Savage Worlds resources that I'll be using for Mythic Space. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

What I'm Using Part 1

There are a TON of resources available to Savage Worlds players. Most of the time there's only one or two different takes on a property, but other times there are a lot of different perspectives on how to translate that property into Savage Worlds rules. While I love creating material and stats from the ground up, I don't pass up on an opportunity to let others do some of the "heavy lifting" for me! While I'll tend to write up my own backgrounds and such, I will and do use other peoples' stats for various races, creatures, gear, ships, and so on. This post gives some insights on where I'm getting the stats that I haven't written myself. The purpose here is twofold. First off, is to shine the spotlight on the work of others that I really enjoy that may have flown under other peoples' radar. Secondly, this post will serve an an index of sorts to not only alert you dear readers to what I use, but also to keep myself straight. With a kitchen sink setting, it can be a bit difficult to keep everything straight!

First off, this post is going to deal with the Savage Worlds side of things, since just about everything I use for Rogue Space is either core or converted by me. I use the Deluxe edition of the Savage Worlds rules along with the new Sci-Fi Companion. In any place that there is a difference between core and the SCF, I go with what's written in the SFC.

I find a lot of bits from the various Official and Licensed settings for Savage Worlds. Most of what end up using are races and creatures from the settings. Sci-Fi settings will see a lot more use as I'll pad out my weapons, cybernetics, gear, vehicles, and starships with the material from those settings. Now, just because I say that I use a race from a setting doesn't mean that a new player that wants to play a Grael from 50 Fathoms can just take his 50 Fathoms book and start a Grael character using unmodified stats. Especially with races and some creatures from fantasy settings, their stats may need to get tweaked to better fit into a sci-fi setting as well as fitting the background I write for them to fit into Mythic Space.
  • 50 Fathoms: Races (Atani, Doreen, Grael, Kehana, Kraken, Masaquani, Torathian (Red Men), Scrullians) & Bestiary (both Core and Companion)
  • Accursed: Not much here, but there are a few banes that I can see adding to the bestiary for the setting; Maggot Hounds, Leech Men, Scarabs, etc. 
  • Beasts & Barbarians: Some the less-fantastical creatures from the bestiary section are easily dropped onto an alien world as some strange beast. 
  • Broken Earth: Some of the creatures would make for great aliens. I've modified some of the mutations and related edges and hindrances to pad what I use from Darwin's World. 
  • Daring Tales of the Space Lanes: There are a lot of great bits throughout this entire series from new gear, edges, hindrances, creatures, to ships. Some might require a bit of re-working to get completely in line with SW Deluxe, but nothing major. 
  • Darwin's World: I use the system for mutations as the default system for create a mutant. Plus, some of the Terrors of the Wasteland make for great alien horrors. 
  • Deadlands Reloaded: With a lot of settings, I tend to use the bestiaries to pad out the number of creatures I can draw upon to help simulate the vast variety of life found in the cosmos and Deadlands is no different. This also includes the Deadlands - Hell on Earth setting as well. 
  • Earthdawn: Races (Obsidimen, Trolls, T'skrang, & Windling) and Creatures. 
  • East Texas University: There isn't much here to rob for Mythic Space (now when I get back into writing more about The Veil setting this setting will see a LOT more use), but there are a couple creatures that can be used: Hogzilla and Night Panther specifically. 
  • Evernight: The Bestiary is the primary focus here. 
  • Freeport: Races (Azhar & Hobgoblin) & several Creatures.
  • Hellfrost: Races (Cakali, Hyaenidae (I call them Gnolls), & Sand Goblin) & several creatures from the Bestiary. From what I hear, there are also some good bits to be found in the various Region Guides but I haven't actually picked up any for find out for myself. 
  • High Space: There is a lot here to use for Mythic Space (or any sci-fi setting): edged, hindrances, gear, weapons, armor, ships, etc. It's a veritable smorgasbord of items to check out. 
  • Interface Zero 2.0: I really love this setting and would like to someday run it on its own. For Mythic Space, virtually everything in this book is ripe for swiping. I use the races (Cyborgs are essentially "Full-Conversion Borgs", Human 2.0 are used for Augmented Humans, and Hybrids are used for Moreaus), much of the gear is usable alongside energy weapons and still found in wide use in the galaxy, and the vehicles would still see use in a lot of cities in the galaxy. I've even pulled over some of the bits from the Golemmech section to pad out the Mechs section. The section for Bio-Horror generation is pretty useful as is the Threats section. 
  • Mars: I love the ERB John Carter stories, so its no surprise that I make extensive use of Adamant's vision of the setting. Races (Red Men are Corvians, Grey Men are Thorpids, White Apes are Grillions, Green Men are Canaxi) and creatures are all used extensively.
  • Mercenary Breed: Just like with Interface Zero, I use MB extensively from races, weapons, gear, creatures, to the random generators in the Galaxy Guide. 
  • RunePunk: Not much here, but I do have some ideas for the Andari, Ferren, and Malakar. The bestiary for the setting has a few creatures that when tweaked a bit (basically removing references to the runestorms) can make effective alien creatures. 
  • Shaintar: Definitely look for write-ups for Brinche and Dregordians. This is also where I get stats for the Gretchin (Goblins), Ogres, and Orks. I *might* use Aevakar, but we'll see. The bestiary in Shaintar: Legends Arise has a few creatures that could make decent aliens, but most of them are far too tied to the fantasy genre for my tastes. 
  • Slipstream: If you can find a copy of this book, I highly recommend it. It's got a very Flash Gordon vibe, so some of the alien names are pretty simplistic which is a pretty easy thing to fix. The fragments can be reworked into planets. The bestiary is packed with great creatures.
  • Solomon Kane: There are several creatures in both the core book and all through the Savage Foes of Solomon Kane that would make good aliens. Beyond that, there's not a whole lot that I'll be using out of this line. 
  • Sundered Skies: I have to admit that even though this setting has sat on my shelf for a long time now, I've never done much with it. Looking back at it now, I can see me using some races like that Drakin, and a few of the creatures but most of the setting material is just too tied to the fantasy genre. 
  • The Last Parsec: So far, everything put out for the setting is easily dropped into whatever sci-fi/space opera setting you want. 
  • Warren C Norwood's Double Spiral War: The two aliens (Castorian & Oinaise) are readily usable. There is some gear that has been added to my lists, and the regions and planets listed in the gazetteer are easily usable as well. 
That should give you an idea of what to look for out of officially licensed products. In part two, I start breaking down what I use out of the various fan-made material. 



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Last Parsec

I am a backer of Pinnacle's The Last Parsec Kickstarter and so the second of the three setting books just hits the virtual shelves of backers yesterday.

For those that don't know, The Last Parsec is a sci-fi/space opera setting that makes use of the Savage Worlds rules along with with the Sci-Fi Companion to build a setting in which the players likely work for a massive corporation that explores, catalogs, and exploits of the worlds of the galaxy. Setting is used pretty loosely here. This isn't detailed much beyond a faint structure for GM's to hang their own adventure and ideas on. I tend to like those kinds of setting these days since I like to do my own thing rather than play in someone else's playground. The setting books of the Kickstarter continue in this vein. While they are more detailed than the setting primer, most of both setting book are dominated with plot-point campaigns and adventure seeds than tried and true setting detail. There's plenty in both books to run adventures for a long time, just don't expect all the work to be done for you. That said, I do wish there was a bit more fleshing out of the worlds and a little less space given to the plot-point campaign paths.

As I said, the first two of three books are now out. The first, Eris-Beta-V, details a system dominated by mining colonies that dot the moons and rings of the gas giant Eris-Beta-V. The second book, Leviathan, details a lush, verdant sanctuary/resort world dominated by dinosaur-like aliens. It's a popular travel destination for both vacationers and hunters alike. Both books offer new setting details that cover the various hazards and effects found in both areas as well as new creatures, gear, hindrances, edges, and vehicles.

All in all, I am enjoying the series and I am happy with my purchase. However, the setting is a little lighter than I care for even though I like my settings light on the details and high on the seeds. The best part of the books is that even though the setting has references to the setting, most of it is easily ignored without losing any of the charm of either location should you want to use these books for your own space opera campaigns. Even though the third and final book will be out in a few weeks, I really hope that Pinnacle will continue to produce more books for the setting. I'm hoping for not just more locations, but maybe a book filled with new xenos or alien races, or even a starship book to lighten some of the load of game prep (although with SW, the load on GM's is pretty light).

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The Prime Directive/First Contact Edict

In Star Trek, the Prime Directive was the constant looming moral law that starship captains had to constantly bend to the breaking point to do what was right. I understood the premise and even could see where I largely would agree in such a law, but it strikes me as being so unfeasible and unreasonable. It's no secret that the Galactic Concord in Mythic Space is tailored after the Federation, and I've even mentioned a Prime Directive like edict in this post about the Galactic Concord. I modified the benchmark to something that I felt more befitting of a sentient species, but even then I suspect there would be plenty of contacted and exploited primitives in the galaxy.

The Concord set the benchmark of being able to send satellites and probes into orbit and beyond as the point at which contact with a new species can begin to be established. There is a large set of guidelines that require reconnaissance of the species' culture, history, religious beliefs, and so forth that must be passed before first contact can be initiated. That's all well and good, but there are plenty of stellar nations and organizations in the galaxy that don't give a damn about letting a primitive species evolve culturally or even biologically without outside influence. They see profit either in the form of slaves, easily attained natural resources, or both. Therefore, while the First Contact Edict is strictly followed (largely), leeway and captain's discretion have became much larger factors behind how stringently the First Contact Edict is adhered to. After all, a starship captain trying to keep his crew alive and make repairs to a crashed ship isn't going to really care about hiding knowledge about life among the stars from a planet's primitive residents.

The First Contact Edict was put in place largely for two reasons. The first is the idea that species should be allowed evolve both biologically and socially without outside influence. Detractors to this point argue that there are many instances among Concord members where outside influence shaped them into the species that they are today. Then there is the argument (used both for expanding the application of the First Contact Edict and for abolishing it entirely) that the First Contact Edict should apply to all species. No one truly knows what species in an ecosystem will achieve sapience, if any, so even on a world with no sentient life at that moment may be irreparably changed by contact with outsiders.

The second reason is that not all species are able to properly cope with being exposed to being part of a galactic community. A variety of factors play into a society being able to fit into the grander cosmic neighborhood from religion, socio-economic factors, to governing systems. Some species see alien visitors as demons or angry spirits that either need to be defeated or appeased in some way. This can lead to mass sacrifices or literal witch-hunts with the first contact Ambassadors being the witches, neither option is desirable. Governments that keep their populaces governed with fear of the unknown are just as dangerous to first contact Ambassadors, as they often see aliens as a threat to their power base and will likely shoot first and make up the "facts" later. Then there are the species that are simply unable to parse being part of a world so much more advanced than their own. Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." To those from primitive worlds seeing starships, laser rifles, computer systems, holograms, not to mention the massive variety of strange and even sometimes monstrous forms of life they feel like they are know in a world of nightmares. Even those that are able to understand that a Weren is just another being trying to survive, may not have brains evolved enough to understand how to use all of this technology. Where do those beings go now? How can they possibly fit into cosmic society when they can barely operate the front door? However, there have been very few instances where a species is willing, but simply unable to join galactic society. It may take time, but in the case of two of the most primitive species to be ushered into the Concord far too early, Ewoks and Betaurians, both have been able to make strides into being full-fledged members of the Concord...even if most of their species still prefer to live according to their traditions.

Initially, the punishment for Concord captains, both civil and government, was severe. Hefty fines, incarceration, and possibly even the loss of their ships/commission were possible. Today, the punishments stand, but the application of the punitive damages are up to judge in each case based on the circumstances surrounding why the First Contact Edict was broken. In cases of down starships, it is considered ridiculous to adhere to the Edict in lieu of focusing on survival. However, taking advantage of a primitive culture to essentially steal valuable resources will see a captain, and most of his senior crew, sent to The Clink (nickname for Jarnbash Orbital Penitentiary, one of the toughest prisons in Concord Space) for a long time.

Just because the First Contact Edict isn't as rigidly applied today doesn't mean that there are no programs in place to try and help ease "primitive" cultures into being part of a wider community. The Concord's Office of Xenological Research has a First Contact Bureau that handles cases where the First Contact Edict has been broken and the species exposed to the realities of the cosmos essentially can't go back to life before for whatever reason. They attempt to find ways to gently bring in these species into the galactic community. Most of the time, primitive cultures exposed to advanced and alien technology simply create new legends to "write off" the experience in their history.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Arrgh!

Things have been really quiet around here the last couple of weeks, and for that I apologize. I have been on here behind the scenes working on a few posts, but I just can't seem to get fully into the zone. I can get some good bits and pieces, or at least what I think are good bits, but I just can't seem to finish the idea or I get frustrated when I realize I'm writing something really poorly. This block has affected me for a while now, so much so that I'm going to take a little breather and cleanse my palette so to speak.

I've found my mind wandering back to my idea for modifying D&D 4E into a boardgame similar in scope to that of Warhammer Quest. I've had a couple recent epiphanies on how to do some things, so I may work on that for a bit until I feel like I'm in a better space to get back to Mythic Space (my baby...).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What Rotten Luck

Ever feel like you're cursed? I'm in one of those ruts at the moment. It all started last month with an appendicitis and then a few weeks later with a cracked tooth that needed a crown. Then I pick up a CD the other day, put it into my car stereo and now it won't eject. Today tops it off with finding out there's no way my rig, which has been a great powerhouse for 6 years now, can run Dragon Age: Inquisition. Granted the last two items on the list are minor annoyances compared to the medical stuff, but it's all adding to the sense of being piled upon with crap. Argh! Anyway, rant off.

On the upside, it seems like my free time has been freed up entirely, so I won't be on much of a hiatus after all!

As for now, I'm off to find out how to dismantle my dash and open up my stereo so I can get my (hopefully not chewed up) CD...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

End of the Week and on the Cusp of a (hopefully brief) Hiatus

Whew! It's been a pretty productive couple of weeks for me on the writing front. I hope you all have enjoyed the regular updates, but they are likely coming to an end for a bit. Dragon Age: Inquisition comes out on Tuesday, so I'll be tearing my way through Thedas again during the scant free time that I have these days. I will be back, and I've got a few posts that I just need to put a little polish on and they'll be ready so there will be a few posts here and there.

I also picked up a couple of card games this week thanks to a couple of coupons from Half Price Books. The first is Boss Monster from Brotherwise Games. In this game 2-4 players try to be the first to score 10 (or is it 15...I can't remember off hand) points before losing 5 lives by building a five room dungeon to face off against heroes that will brave it. The second is Smash Up from AEG. In this game each player picks two 20 card faction decks and shuffles them together and tries to take control of various bases. The factions vary wildly from aliens, to ninjas, to robots, to dinosaurs, and so on. Each faction has a certain specialty which ups the replayability as you can try various faction combinations. There are also several expansions that add even more factions to the game (which I hope to acquire in the future). Both games offer a ton of replay value and are really quick games once you get the hang of them. If you see them, I recommend picking up both games.