Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Article that Changed it All

Like many sci-fi fans, I take great interest in astronomy and the goings on of the world's various space agencies. Thanks to a link on the Stars Without Number Facebook Page (here is the link), I'm changing a key element of not only my sci-fi setting, but also the rules that I'm working on. Essentially, NASA could very well be on their way to creating a "warp drive." The current work is based on a paper written in 1994 by physicist Miguel Alcubierre. By creating a bubble in space/time behind a starcraft and a space/time sink in front of the craft, a starship can be propelled through space fast faster than the speed of light, but since the space around the starcraft is unchanged it is not breaking the speed of light itself and therefore not meeting with a very messy end. The idea was scrapped as unfeasible due to the mass energy needed to subject enough force on space/time would be equal to that found in Jupiter. However, further research shows that with some tweaks to the Alcubierre Drive, the mass energy needed may only be around 1600 pounds of mass energy.

If this research yields practical results in testing, this means that we could travel the 4.3 light years to Alpha Centauri in weeks rather than entire generations living and dying on the journey. Day trips to Mars (or anywhere else in the solar system for that matter) would become feasible. We could easily harvest resources from the asteroids, moons, and planets throughout the solar system and beyond. Seeing how quick new technology can develop (as stated in the article, we went from only being able to generate 5 Watts of power via nuclear fission to 4 Megawatts in a year), if the practical tests yield the desired results, we could be traversing the stars before we know it. Just thinking of the economic, political, sociological, and even theological (should we happen to find proof that life exists elsewhere in the galaxy, that is) ramifications begins to blow my mind. Sure, this tech is all theoretical now, but the very idea that such travel is at least mathematically possible is exciting in the extreme.

If the Alcubierre Drive becomes reality, it's just another in a long line of technological advances that have been predicted by Star Trek (at least in some small way). Those shows continually show that they were ahead of their time.

What does all of this mean to my setting and system? Well, I'm scrapping the idea of Drillspace and the Elder Relays. Warp Drives are now the principle means of transportation throughout the galaxy. I may still use Relays, but they will be an invention of the current species roaming the galaxy other than some unknown ancient species. This means I need to go back and re-write some aspects of the setting background, since the Elder Relays were an integral part of the setting. Plus, the removing of the limitations of travel via Drillspace will have significant ramifications on the setting as well. That's not to say that I won't have limits to what speeds an Alcubierre Drive can attain, but space travel will be a lot more straight-forward, safer, and simpler.

We truly do live in an exciting age!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The HeroQuest Kickstarter is Live!

Check it out here. It's already funded (no surprise there). Supposedly, the only way you can get one Stateside is to go through the Kickstarter or take your chances on either the secondary market or buying a copy and having it shipped from Spain (ouch). If you want the base set, it'll set you back $89, which really isn't that bad for a dungeon crawler. However, if you want the game and all the unlocked extras: $150. Now, shipping is estimated to be $50.

I want this. I want this really bad, but no matter how much I love HQ...I just don't think I can plunk down $200 bucks for it when I have an original with most of the expansions sitting on my shelf. Here's to hoping I hit the lottery in the next 31 days...

The Silence is Deafening

I've been pretty quiet on here of late. I've devoted my sparse free time to working on my organization project and other house projects to get ready for the cold winter weather. I have done a little bit of work on on my SWN/Alternity rules and I think I'm about ready to playtest some options that I'm considering as far as how Armor will work (make you harder to hit vs reducing damage). Once those are tested and I decide which way I want to go, the lion's share of the "heavy lifting" on the system will be complete. I can thing FINALLY devote time to setting details.

However, there has been an idea brewing in the back of my mind. While I was cataloging the D&D 4th Edition part of my collection I got to looking through the rules again. I like 4th Edition...well, I like aspects of the rules. I'll never run it again as is because it felt lifeless and not really a roleplaying game. As a tactical game, it's pretty good. Combat takes far too long, but I've got some ideas on how to cut that down. Taking a cue from the great D&D board games: Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, and Legend of Drizzt, I think 4E could be made into a decent Warhammer Quest styled dungeon crawler boardgame. I'm just in the brainstorming part of the process right now, but I'm toying around with the idea of taking the base idea of how the board games build a dungeon and how the creature AI works and applying it to the fuller 4E rules. There are things that will need to be simplified and things like HP totals will need to be reigned in. Characters will level up as in 4E and the monsters will be in line with how they are written in 4E rules.

Like I said, this idea is still very much in its infancy, but I do think that the 4E rules would make a much better board game than they ever did as a full RPG for me.'s not like I really need ANOTHER project to add to the pile...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Be Still My Beating Heart!

I have long wished for a new edition of classic dungeon crawling board game, Hero Quest. It's the game that really got me on the road that lead me to D&D and roleplaying games in general. Now, it appears that a new edition is coming to Kickstarter on November 22. While this makes me, as Deeter would say, "as happy as a little girl" I shudder to think what this is going to cost. My hope is that this will eventually see release on the open market and not just be available to backers since, well, the great money-sink that is Christmas is right around the corner and the budget just can't fit something like this into it. Still, a new edition to the grand-daddy of all dungeon exploration board games is coming back, and that is seriously exciting news (at least to me)!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Organization Madness

I haven't been too active on the blogosphere lately. I've been working (when I can) on my SWN/Alternity/D20 Future mash-up, but time has been short on that front lately. Hopefully, after this weekend, I'll be able to devote more time to getting those rules finished up and then dive into writing setting details and performing conversions. However, I've started another undertaking that's chewed up way more of my scant free time...yes, I am a glutton for punishment.

I've begun to re-organize and catalog my gaming material. Like many gamers, I tend to buy a lot of gaming material, way more than I'd ever use even if I spent every weekend rolling bones. Then I've also scoured the internet and saved a ton of material that I find interesting from fans the world over. I've organized things fairly well, but I'm finding I've got duplicate files in various folders and sometimes I just can't find what I'm looking for because I filed it away in an incorrect folder accidentally or my thoughts on what the book really was has changed over time. All of this has lead me to the conclusion that's it's high time I catalog my collection.

The catalog is a simple spreadsheet listing Title, System, Genre, Product Type (Adventure, Core Rules, Races, Characters, Bestiaries, etc.), Product Line (general D&D, specific settings, etc...), and Notes on the file/book (if needed). Most of my collection is in pdf's these days. They are just more convenient to having a dead tree copy sitting at my desk...for the most part. When at play, I tend to print a lot of stuff, so I guess I'm not really saving that many trees. I just like being able to carry my collection around with me on my laptop or a flash drive. Plus, it saves precious shelf space in my cramped and cluttered man cave. I've spent more than I care to think about at, though that has slowed down since I've become a father. Anyway, this process of cataloging has also turned into a process of rediscovery of things that I downloaded on a whim and I'm looking back through, which makes it more fun and also more time consuming. I'm making all sorts of notes to go with many of the files about cool monsters to convert to this system or that and other thoughts to help remind myself why I should take another look at a product.

The other part of this Organization Madness is changing how I have things organized. Now, I have things broken down by system by and large. D6 material under the D6 folder, D20 under the D20 folder, and so on. However, I'm going to move things into a specific lines and then by genre, so all my sci-fi stuff will be under the Sci-Fi folder and all the Fastasy lines will be grouped under Fantasy. I've gotten to the point in my gaming "career" that I have my favorite systems that I use for specific genres. Marvel Super Heroes for anything supers, Swords & Wizardry for D&D style gaming, SWN/Alternity for sci-fi and so on. Since I'm so conversion happy, I'm to the point where I'd like everything organized by the genre. I haven't actually started on that aspect of the Great Organization Project, but it's definitely something I'm leaning towards.

Cataloging my gaming material has got me wondering, how much more stuff do I really need? My wishlist at RPGNow is still hovering around 400 items ranging from super-villains to bestiaries to rules that sounded interesting, but I just could justify spending the money on at the time. Every now and then I'll go through and buy around $20 worth of smaller items just to knock it back and to add more fodder to the conversion fire, which in reality I'll read through the file and then likely not look at it again for a long time. For me, I think the issue is that I'm a collector at heart. Well, that and I like to be exposed to new takes on aliens, races, classes, settings. Still, when do you say enough is enough? Due to my buying habits lately, I've hit that point due to necessity. However, I still add items to my wishlist and I still check ENWorld for news about new material coming out, so I'm still interested in possibly picking up more stuff in the future. It's a sickness!

Anyway, that's enough of my sleep-deprived ramblings. Hopefully, I'll get the organization and cataloging done soon and I can focus fully on my sci-fi home system. The same old routine: far too many irons in the fire...

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Happy N7 Day!

For all you Mass Effect fans out there, I hope you have a great N7 day! Sadly, I won't be able to partake in any festivities until later on tonight, but I'll be pushing back against Reaper, Collector, Geth, and Cerberus forces as soon as I can!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Swords & Wizardry Complete FOR FREE FOREVER!!!!

Tenkar's Tavern has set up a Dropbox link to the pdf version of the Swords & Wizardry Complete rulebook. This is now free because Frog God's current Kickstarter got enough backers, so as a thank you they have made the rules freely available as long as there is an internet! Click on the link above and get a copy of what I think is the finest fantasy RPG ruleset on the market today!