Thursday, October 22, 2015


I've got a couple announcements, one minor, one bigger (at least for the direction of the blog that is).

First off, I'll be adding some page tabs to the blog that collect posts pertaining to certain subjects. In case you think you missed something, want to easily find an old post, or want to catch up if you're new to the blog it'll be a lot easier to find what you're looking for.

Secondly, and more importantly, I'm going to take a stab at creating a hack of White Star. For those that don't know what White Star is, it's a sci-fi/space opera game based on the White Box version of the Swords & Wizardry rules. I use S&W for all my fantasy gaming because it's simple and easily expandable. I like White Star as it is for the most part, but there are certain things I prefer in my sci-fi games that WS just doesn't deliver on. Really, from what I've got in mind, only the basic rules will truly be WS with many other parts of the game being greatly changed or expanded to suit my tastes.

Why am I attempting this? Honestly, it's the desire to kit bash a lot of bits and pieces I like from various systems into a cohesive whole. I like fiddling with systems, and ever since I read WS I haven't been able to shake the desire to tear into it and see if I can make something that both I and my group will really like. That desire has really derailed a lot of my other pursuits in other games...which has lead to a greatly diminished post count on the blog.

Work on what I'm going to tag as "White Star Hack" is likely to put the breaks on new Savage Worlds and Rogue Space material, but I'm not giving up on those games. RS still sees a lot of play, and I'm 99% completed with my re-grouping of the SW rules to fit my needs for Mythic Space. In fact, a lot of new material after WSH is done will more than likely sport stats for all three systems.

So what will this hack of WS contain? Here's a preliminary list:

  • A skill system modified from the great Alternity rules. In fact, much of the game is going to be geared towards the skill system, but I'm going to change up the points and costs to limit some of the math to keep character generation and advancement flowing quickly. 
  • Race and Class separated. Racial Classes have never been a big favorite of mine, so I'm going to divorce the two in WSH. 
  • 5 classes: Warriors (I haven't settled on that name, but Soldier, Mercenary, and the like are also being batted around), Rogues (also considering Freelancer and Scoundrel), Diplomats, Technicians (I may just call them "Techs"), and Psions. 
  • Variable damage for weapons and gear drawn from many D20 sources like D20 Future.
  • Changing around how monster stats are derived. I detailed some of these ideas here in the past. While some things like creature attack bonuses might be modified, much of that will likely stand. 
  • Starship rules will largely remain unchanged from what is found in WS. 
  • Expansion of Cybernetics rules. There will be more cybergear, rules on the installation of cybergear, and on the loss of humanity. 
  • A simple mutations system.
  • Skill-based Psionics
  • More of a true toolbox feel with less overt Star Wars references. 
All in all, I hope to create something that I want to run and maybe give something that others may want to kick around as well that still feels light and fast and easy to run. While this hack will be crunchier than the White Star standard, I have no desire to bog the system down with over-complicated and over-drawn rules. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

KIC 846285

As I'm sure many of you have heard, the Kepler Space Telescope found something interesting about 1400 light years away. There is an old star that is dimming over 20% at time during the last 4 years of study. Now, when a planet occludes a star, the dip in brightness is usually around 1%, so a 20% + drop is pretty astounding. If this was a young star, then it could possibly be chalked up to debris that will likely eventually become planets, but that's not the case. So what is it? There have been theories from planetary collisions, comet swarms, to Dyson Sphere objects built by an alien civilization.

In case you don't know what a Dyson Sphere is, they are hypothetical structures that would be built around a star to collect all of its solar energy output. It's the kind of thing you'd only see in sci-fi (one was part of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation).

While the idea of why KIC 846285 is dimming so much being caused by aliens is certainly an attention-grabbing headline, I sincerely doubt that is what's going on there. Still, if it is an advanced alien society building Dyson objects, that would give me hope for humanity for several reasons. One is simply for the knowledge that we are not alone in the cosmos. The ramifications of this would send shockwaves through not only the scientific community, but religion and everyday culture as well. Even if that culture has died out in the 1400 years it took that light to get here, the simple fact that there has been intelligent life other than humans in the cosmos would be amazing to say the least. Plus, since KIC 846285 is so close (cosmologically speaking), it would make the theories of Duncan Forgan, who figures there are anywhere from 361 to 37,964 intelligent species in the galaxy right now, seem like undershots. Out of the 100,000 light years, there are 2 intelligent species within 1400 light years would certainly point that the galaxy may be more densely populated than originally thought. Lastly, it would give me hope that there is a society out there that shows that survival is possible. Survival not just against everything the universe can throw at a little ball of rock, but that survival against the odds we place in our own way can be overcome. All the petty political, social, religious, racial, and financial differences can be overcome to allow not just survival, but also the colonization of the rest of the solar system and maybe beyond. I really do think that if humankind is going to survive into the far future, it will have to be in the rest of solar system. However, we can't seem to see past our own bank accounts, our own gods, even simply the color of our own skin to realize that we're all in this together. That will likely damn us to extinction sooner than another world-killer asteroid.

Since I don't think that it is aliens (I'm leaning more on the side of planetary collision or some other giant mass spreading event), is it really worth looking at KIC 846285? Absolutely. We've found something outside of the norm. Even if alien intelligence isn't the cause that's still exciting and certainly "sexy" from the standpoint of astronomers getting to study something strange that will expand our knowledge of the cosmos. That's exciting, certainly moreso than just throwing "Aliens" into a title to get the clicks.

Still, it is fun to dream...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Citadel

The Citadel is the seat of power for the Galactic Concord. Resting in the sparsely populated Prome Cloud in the heart of the Concord, the Citadel is an ancient space station still filled with mystery and secrets left uncovered. It is the largest space station in Concord space, not including the Space Hulk, The Aegis of Time.

The Citadel was discovered by the Asari over 300 standard years ago. At the time, it was believed to be an ancient Prothean station. However, since the re-emergence of the Protheans it has been discovered that the Citadel pre-dates even the Protheans, and may be as old as the infamous Space Hulks. Attempts to date the strange compounds that make up the construction of the Citadel have proven fruitless as well.

The Citadel does have a "natural" inhabitant, the bio-mechanical Keepers. These strange creatures are a form of biological insectoid with extensive nanotech upgrades that are as much a part of them as lungs and hearts are to other species. The Keepers have never conversed with anyone, even now that the Citdael is home to millions of workers, security forces, ambassadors, and Senators. They go about their day keeping the Citadel up and running. They take no orders from anyone and ignore all attempts to communicate with them. If they are kept from completing a task, they will simply move on and return at a later time. Attempts to capture and study Keepers have largely failed as well. All Keepers that have been detained for study have gone into a kill sequence that not only destroys the Keeper, but breaks the corpse down into a gelatinous goo of base materials. Doubly frustrating is that all attempts to track the Keepers have failed as well. Their nanotech renders any attempt to track them with technology inert. Attempt to mark their shells wtih paint are also countered by their nanotech as the paint is broken down leaving their shells the original olive green in color. To date, it is unknown what the total number of Keepers on the Citadel actually is. Its also unknown if the Keepers mate or if they are clones, where they live on the Citadel, and if they are truly sentient or some form of bio-mechanical drone controlled by a central computer or even by an unseen being living in the Citadel. What is known is that they are an integral part of Citadel maintenance, and are protected by law from the current inhabitants of the station. Interfering with a Keeper in its duties and causing harm to a Keeper is met with hefty fines and even the threat of incarceration and or banishment from the Citadel.

The Citadel was not originally home of the Concord. When the Great Alliance first formed, the Sol Systems Alliance space station, Babylon 8, was chosen as a headquarters. However, once the Illithid Invasion was broken and the Galactic Concord was established, it quickly became obvious that the aging space station was going to prove insufficient for the duties of the Concord. The Asari offered the Citadel as an option grudgingly at first. The Asari had kept the discovery of the Citadel a secret for many years. Even when word about the Citadel leaked, they kept the station under strict guard, only allowing rigorously vetted science teams access to the facility. As the Galactic Concord grew, and the possibility of any planetary body being a home quickly ruled out, the Asari offered the Citadel to the Concord on the condition that they be granted a permanent seat on the Council.

The Citadel consists of six areas, five wards (Zakera, Kithoi, Tayseri, Bachjret, and Shalta), each spanning an arm of the station and are metropolises in and of themselves, and the Presidium, which houses the Senate. The Wards are each vast cities, complete with neighborhoods, shops, entertainment, and infrastructure (shipping/recieving, waste removal, etc.). The Keepers maintain the overall integrity of the Citadel, but the Concord employs workers to maintain the systems that have been installed to ensure the survival and comfort of Concord member species and visiting delegates from other stellar nations. Each Ward has a population of roughly 8 million people. An artificial atmosphere is maintained at all by the highest floors of the various skyscrapers that dot the Wards, so the streets and thoroughfares are essentially open to the void of space though kept a comfortable temperature and gravitational force for most species. Specialized atmospheres and accomodations for species that do not breathe oxygen or have other environmental requirements are provided in certain areas of each Ward.

Each Ward has its own feel, but there are some constants. Generally, the ringward sides and the edges of the arms hold the most expensive and posh neighborhoods in each Ward. Zakera is widely regarded as the safest Ward. Bachjret is generally regarded as the poorest Ward. However, each Ward has their good and seedy areas. Generally, the deeper into the Ward that you go, both long-ways and under the surface, the seedy the areas get. As it goes in most cities, the further from the light a society gets, the more the criminal element moves in.

The Presidium is the central ring of the station. Most of the buildings here are related to Galactic Concord business. The Senate is housed here in the Spire, the large tower that stretches from the Presidium ring to the center of the Citadel ring. The offices of many of the senators and Concord agencies are also housed in the Presidium, as well as the homes of the Council members. As the Galactic Concord continues to grow, many agency offices and some senatorial offices have moved to the ringward portions of the Wards. The Presidium is enclosed, complete with a holographic sky (set to the Concord standard 20 hour day). The Presidium is also home to the most beautiful park space and highest end shops and restaurants in the Citadel.

Security is tight on the Citadel. C-Sec controls the flow of people coming and going at the customs offices located in several points in each Ward as well as being the everyday police force. As would be expected, the threat of terrorism on the Citadel is high, so keeping close tabs on who and what are coming aboard is a constant concern. The Concord Navy also maintains a presence in and around the Citadel. The Bastion, the headquarters of the Concord Navy, is housed on the far edge of Kithoi Ward. There are also five dreadnaughts, two carriers with full fighter squadrons, and a full battalion of troops are stationed on the Citadel as well. Add in the orbital defenses, the cannon batteries installed by both the Asari and the Concord, and the ability for the Citadel close the Wards in together for maximum protection and the Citadel is one of the most heavily defended installations in the galaxy.

Despite the security, there is a thriving criminal element on the Citadel. The marging of various cultures and societies leads to a veritable smorgasbord of vices and appetites to sake. Various gangs, syndicates, and cartels all maintain a presence on the Citadel. Smuggling in contraband is a full-time job for these organizations. Despite the best efforts of C-Sec, contraband makes it through both by the ingenuity of the smugglers and the bribes given to C-Sec customs officials.

Friday, October 09, 2015


I'm not making any promises, but it looks like I'm finally gettin out of both the heavy season of extra-cirriculuar activities and this creative funk I've been in so I should actually be posting something in the very near future.

I've been waffling a bit between Savage Worlds and wanting to take a stab at hacking White Star into something more palpable to what I like. Don't get me wrong, White Star is a great game, but there are certain aspects that don't really grab me like race-as-class and d6 for all damage. However, much like with Swords & Wizardry, White Star is the kind of game that begs to be hacked and molded into something else. I did that with S&W and I like the results, so I've been thinking of doing the same with WS. The only thing holding me back is Savage Worlds scratches my sci-fi itch better. I've never been the biggest fan of classes in sci-fi games, unless they are pretty loosely defined. Plus, I've pretty much finished my re-write/re-grouping of the SW core rules to encompass the Sci-Fi companion and other bits from other SW sci-fi games (finally, and sorry for my and my group's own use only). A lot of work went into that tome, and it's tough to just walk away from that to start on another massive undertaking. Plus, with the Savaged version of Rifts on the horizon, I have a feeling that my thoughts will be going right back to SW once that gets released.

For the time being, unless the lure of tearing apart and rebuilding White Star in my unholy image become too much to ignore, I'm going to stay the course with write-ups for species and creatures for Savage Worlds and Rogue Space. Rather than locking myself into any one set project, I'm going to get back to just writing about whatever I want. Now that the core rules are done I'm into just adding the bits and fluff to the setting, which honestly is more fun. The one thing that will tie all the posts together is that they will be focused on detailing parts of my Mythic Space setting. Some will be about creatures found on various worlds, while others may cover conversions from other systems or from comics or whatever.

I found that when I focused on converting stuff from a single source for too long, I just lost interest (like with the string of Spelljammer conversions). I had more fun when I just focused on whatever I was interested at the time (like when I converted various Marvel aliens). That's not to say that I won't go back and offer another batch of Spelljammer conversions in the future, or finally finish my post on the Tyrant Expanse, but they'll wait until I'm really into it rather than feeling like I need to do it because I said I would. (Really, Beholders are such a mechanical pain in the ass, and I've thought and re-thought about how I want to implement them both mechanically and thematically so much that I just need to step back and look at them again at a later time...maybe much later...)

I should be more active now that the summer is over, and the fall sports season is done for my oldest son. I've been far too lax in my creative endeavors, so I'm looking to exploring the galaxy once again!