Thursday, May 7, 2015

Starships & Spacemen: Sisters of the Aquarian Order

Not a full post, but some minor tweaks to my Sisters of the Aquarian Order. This time for Starships & Spacemen.

This might be a little too powerful for the Starships & Spacemen. But I will give it a try.

--
Aquarian Sisters often serve as councilors, advisers and ambassadors.  They can be found in planetary governments, great powerful houses or even on starships.

Sisters of the Aquarian Order (Witch)

Prime Attribute: Charisma
Hit Dice: 1d6 per level.
Armor: none or light
Weapons: An Aquarian Sister may only use very simple weapons as they spend no time learning how to use them.
Special Abilities: Psychic Powers, Rituals

Level
XP
HD (d4)
Rank
Psychic Powers
2345
1
0
1d6
Initiate
Empathy
1----
2
2,600
2d6
Neophyte
ESP
2----
3
5,200
3d6
Adept
Telepathy
21---
4
10,400
4d6
Sybil
Clairvoyance
22---
5
20,800
5d6
Mystic
Empathic Projection
221--
6
40,000
6d6
Enchantress
Telekinesis
322--
7
80,000
7d6
Soror
Illusiory Projection
3221-
8
160,000
8d6
Aquarian Sister
Hypnosis
3322-
9
320,000
9d6
Aquarian Sister
Molecular Control
33221
10
440,000
10d6
Aquarian Sister
Energy Leech
43 222
11
560,000
10d6+1
Aquarian Sister
Brain Drain
43322
12
680,000
10d6+2
Queen Mother
Tentacles of the Mind
4 43 32

Aquarian Sister Abilities

Skills: All Aquarian Sisters are skilled in basic astro-navigation having memorized hundreds if not thousands of star systems.

Saving Throws: The Aquarian Sister gains a +2 bonus to any save versus charm, hold or mind affecting powers.

Psychic Power: At first level and every 3 levels hereafter the Aquarian Sister gains a Psychic Power.

LEVEL 01 RITUALS
Bewitch I
Cause Fear
Charm Person
Drowsy
Far Sight
Read Languages
Soothe
Sonic Blast

LEVEL 02 RITUALS
Agony
Bewitch II
Blast Shield
Calm Emotions
Detect Thoughts
Hold Person
Invisibility
Locate Object

LEVEL 03 RITUALS
Aphasia
Astral Sense
Bewitch III
Liar's Curse
Mind Rash
Mirror Image
Scry
Toad Mind
Tongues

LEVEL 04 RITUALS
Bewitch IV
Confusion
Divination
Elemental Armor
Emotion
Mirror Talk

LEVEL 05 RITUALS
Bewitch V
Charm Creature
Dream
Feeblemind
Nightmare
Overlook
Sending
Teleport

Review: Starships & Spacemen 2e by Goblinoid Games

I have been in a real Sci-Fi mood of late.  Partly due to the new Star Wars film coming out, partly due to the release of the revised d6 Star Wars game out there on social media, but mostly due to the release of White Star.  It got me thinking about about another favorite game of mine, Starships & Spacemen.
If White Star is "Star Wars" then Starships & Spacemen is classic "Star Trek".
The author, +Dan Proctor admits his love for Star Trek in the forward of the book, and the cover is certainly evocative of the Original Series.

So what is Starships & Spacemen (S&S)?  It is a "military style" missions-based, old-school game in the milieu of Star Trek.  First off it is important to point out that while this is the "2e" version of Starships & Spacemen it is more compatible with Goblinoid Games other products like Labyrinth Lord, Realms of Crawling Chaos and Mutant Future.  In fact I would go out on a limb and say Mutant Future is a must have since it has rules that can used to create mutants aka aliens.  Realms of Crawling Chaos is Cthulhu and those creatures are aliens after all.  Labyrinth Lord of course provides more monster/alien creatures.
Also, given that it is compatible with Labyrinth Lord it is also compatible with 100s of other products also compatible with LL.  It is also compatible with 1000s of other OSR/Old School products too.

The book itself is 95 pages of content, some ads for other Goblinoid Games products, two full color covers (front and back), character sheet, ship record and hex map. There is no OGL page that I could see.

The system is class and level based.  There are various races your character can belong to. Three basic classes all in the "Confederation" military-like branch; Military/Command, Sciences and Support/Tech.  Or if you prefer, Gold Shirt, Blue Shirt, and Red Shirt.  There is Officer level advancement to level 12 and Enlisted advancement to level 9.  So if you are running a game of a starship "boldly going where no one has gone before" then you are set.   While I am enjoying class/level systems much more now than ever before I do have some issues with this, but I will talk about that later.

The introduction covers the basics of the system; very much the same as Labyrinth Lord.
Section 2 covers the characters and character creation.  Here we have our classes and basic races.
Each class has some basic skills that improve with leveling and each race has ability modifiers.  The races are as expected pastiches of the expected races. This is fine since it works so well here. There are a couple of others too, including some reptoids and a frog like race.
Equipment covers the expected range too.  Though there are two entries that caught my eye. The robot dog for you K9 or Daggit fans.  Also there is a telepathic dog.  This caught my eye because back in college I ran a brief "Trek" game where the medical officer had a telepathic dog on board.

Section 3 covers Psi powers.  These are not class based, but a random  d6 power.  The powers are detailed like spells and there are couple of special powers for stronger characters.  Like other sci-fi games built on the d20 core adding new powers can be easy, but care should be given as to not make the game too much about powers.

Section 4 covers Planetary Adventures. Or what your away team is doing. This covers a lot of "adventuring" style topics including mapping, various weapon damages, and other hazards.

Section 5 is the meatiest of the book.  This covers Galactic Adventures.  I think my favorite bit here are all the space hazards.  Space Mirrors, Gravity Wells.  Enough for a full season of starship disaster scenarios. Atmospheric combat, diseases and even time travel is covered.  So of the top of my head nearly any episode of the classic series can be reproduced with this chapter.  How is plays out of course is up to the players.

Section 6 covers Starships and discusses their basic use, creation and stats.  Combat systems are covered, energy weapons, solid projectiles and shields.  Transporter Teleporter systems are discussed including the ever popular mishap (yes there is a table).   Computer systems are covered (yes they can run more than one program!)  Ship to ship combat gets a pretty decent section since it covers new ground.

Section 7, Alien Encounters is the biggest.  This covers not just sentient aliens, but "monster" types as well.  Again move creatures from other games back and forth here with no effort.  The best section is the random "forehead" alien system.  Roll some dice and you have a new alien race. You can even randomly determine a background and environment.
The flows right into Section 8, Alien Artifacts.  Lost tech of ancient civilizations.

Section 9 is advice for the "Star Master" or Game Master.  Some brief background on the setting is given.  There is just enough information here to start a campaign and then get going.  Really this is all you need.  The game is one about exploration and discovery.  So it follows that much of the galaxy should be unknown.  This game is so flexible that you can do just about anything with it.

Frankly, the game really is awesome and has all the joy of Labyrinth Lord, only with spaceships and lasers.

Critiques
Ok so this game is perfect for a Trek-like game where everyone is serving aboard a starship.  The class/level system works for this.  But I do have two issues I want to bring up.  One is outside the scope of the game, the other is inside it.
First off. If I want to play a game of "Orion" Pirates or Smugglers I have to bend my Officers level advancement a bit.  Indeed, some of the classes would not quite work with a group of characters where everyone has to do a little bit of everything.  Yesterday my friend Greg Littlejohn (gm for my oldest in his other game) talked about a Smuggler class.  That might work well here too.

Secod point is the level titles them selves.  While it make perfect sense to have a bunch of Ensigns (1st level) running around doing things, it makes less sense when everyone on 10th+ level and all Admirals.   For this I would use the level titles as suggested ranks only.  Or maybe make the PCs part of a special task force that allows them to work outside the normal ranking system.

Despite this there is enough here to make it all work.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Review: White Star by James Spahn

Unless you are living in an OSR-free zone you may have missed the big release this week of "White Star" from Barrel Rider Games and +James Spahn.

BRG had made a name for itself publishing classes for "Basic" era D&D/Labyrinth Lord which is how I discovered them. Recently James has made the switch with some very successful products for Swords & Wizardry. In particular he released the White Box Omnibus to much acclaim.

White Star is a similar quality effort, but represents a serious step up in terms of quality and content from his previous efforts.  This is immediately obvious in terms of the quality of the cover art, but the interior really lives up (and beyond) that first impression.
White Star is Space Opera viewed through an old-school RPG lens. So think Star Wars.  Not the series of movies really, but just the first 1977 movie.
Starting with the basics the book is 132 pages, two pages of cover art, two blank pages and one page of OGL. As usual BRG is very permissive with the content of the books.  So this amounts to 128 pages of content (127 + OGL).  Not a bad deal really.
The book is divided up as expected.  Chapters on Attributes, Character Classes and Races (more on this in a bit), Equipment, Game Play, and Combat.  These chapters are more or less similar to what you might find in S&W White Box. Not a copy, but a re-write to accommodate the style and tone of the book.  The remaining chapters cover the important topics of SciFi; Starship Combat, Gifts and Meditations, Aliens and Creatures, and Advanced Equipment.  There are also chapters on The White Star Campaign, Interstellar Civil War and Kelron Sector, and the Second Battle of Brinn.
As my friend, Greg Littlejohn says, "just enough meat on the bones, yet room on the plate to add some nice sides."  That is 100% true.

Character Classes and Races
The classes of White Star are simple enough to cover a variety of character archetypes.  The classes include Aristocrat (think Princess Leia or Paul Atreides), Mercenary (Boba Fett, nearly every movie in the 80s), Pilot (Han Solo), and Star Knight (Luke).  There are also two race as classes, the Alien Brute (lots of examples), Alien Mystic (Yoda) and Robot. Each class is 10 levels and presented in the same format as S&W.  So one could easily move classes back and forth between the two games with ease.

Sci-Fi Chapters
The chapters on Starship Combat and Alien Creatures are really the star here.  Starship combat of course can be easily ported over to S&W as ship combat.  But there are a lot of really cool nuggets here.  It is also one of the chapters where the pure "Star Wars"ishness of the book fades a bit into some "Star Trek".
Alien Creatures covers a wide variety aliens. Nearly everything is here; Borg, Greys, Fluffy aliens, the lot.  Since everything is S&W compatible you can move anything back and forth from S&W to White Star. This little feature opens up thousands of creatures to WS.  

Gifts and Meditations covers the magical-like powers used by Star Knights and Mystics.  Many of these are re-skinned spells. You could add more powers as spells, but only carefully.  Some spells are not entirely appropriate for a sci-fi setting.

The last three chapters cover roughly a White Star campaign universe.  The Kelron Sector is given some detail. Enough to get you going and enough to give you a good idea of what is going and where you can take it your own.   If you watched any Sci-Fi in the 70s or 80s then you will recognize a lot of the pastiche here.

What can I say about White Star?  It is one of the best Sci-Fi games I have picked up.  The more and more I play, the more and more I like level and class based systems for space opera.  It seems right to me somehow.  I think it is because I discovered Star Wars and D&D right around the same time and to me they always go together.

IF I had one criticism it would be I would prefer Sword and Wizardry Complete rules or Labyrinth Lord. But that is weak-sauce on my part really. I could convert it if I wanted.   I can say it would be perfect for my "Greyhawk 3000" game I want to do.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

White Star: Sisters of the Aquarian Order

White Star from BRG and +James Spahn is the new hot game in the OSR crowd right now, and with good reason.  It is based on Swords & Wizardry (so it is simple to learn and play) and flexible. So flexible you can do Star Wars, Star Trek, Dune and any number of other sci-fi epics.   I have been spending a lot of time with it and hope to spend some more.

This class is first attempt to add something to the game, and it is familiar ground to me.  So much so I had it written in my head by the end of my commute last night.

The Sisters of the Aquarian Order (Aquarian Sister) have their geneses not only from my witch class (they can be considered to be the evolution of the Aquarian Tradtition) but also from such sources in Sci-Fi like the Bene Gesserit (Dune), the Sisterhood of Karn (Doctor Who) and the Night Sisters, the Witches of Dathomir (Star Wars).

--
OGL Notice: The following text is considered OPEN under the Open Gaming License. 
Section 15: "Sisters of the Aquarian Order " copyright © 2015 Timothy S. Brannan.

Sisters of the Aquarian Order
The Sisters of the Aquarian Order, also known as Aquarian Sisters, or often "witches" are an exclusive order of human women that train their minds to go beyond what humans can normally do. They spend hours in trances communing with a hive mind that contains all the memories of all the members of the Order past and present and some even claim future.

The purpose of the Order is to carry humanity to the stars and beyond.  In ancient times when mankind was still battling over feudal lands the Order was plot the stars. When humanity was first using solid fuel rockets the Order was projecting their consciousness beyond our own solar system into the the stars.  Now that humans have taken their rightful place among the stars the Order does what it can to keep humanity moving forward.  To what future, only they know.  They believe that humanity is on the cusp of a new consciousness and a new age.

Aquarian Sisters often serve as councilors, advisers and ambassadors.  They can be found in planetary governments, great powerful houses or even on starships.

Sisters of the Aquarian Order (Witch)

Prime Attribute: Charisma
Hit Dice: 1d4 per level.
Armor: none or light
Weapons: An Aquarian Sister may only use very simple weapons as they spend no time learning how to use them.
Special Abilities: Psychic Powers, Rituals

Level
XP
HD (d4)
BTH
ST
Psychic Powers
2345
1
0
1
+0
15
Empathy
1----
2
2,600
1+1
+0
14
2----
3
5,200
2
+1
13

21---
4
10,400
2+1
+1
12
Clairvoyance
22---
5
20,800
3
+2
11

221--
6
40,000
4
+2
10

322--
7
80,000
4+1
+3
9
Telepathy
3221-
8
160,000
5
+3
8

3322-
9
320,000
5+1
+4
7

33221
10
440,000
6
+4
6
Telekinesis
43322

Aquarian Sister Abilities

Skills: All Aquarian Sisters are skilled in basic astro-navigation having memorized hundreds if not thousands of star systems.

Saving Throws: The Aquarian Sister gains a +2 bonus to any save versus charm, hold or mind affecting powers.

Psychic Power: At first level and every 3 levels hereafter the Aquarian Sister gains a Psychic Power.

Rituals: The Aquarian Sister can perform rituals that have almost magical effects.  These powers take longer to activate and use than their psychic powers, but have greater effects.  These rituals are complicated and can only be used once per day each.

LEVEL 01 RITUALS
Bewitch I
Cause Fear
Charm Person
Drowsy
Far Sight
Read Languages
Soothe
Sonic Blast

LEVEL 02 RITUALS
Agony
Bewitch II
Blast Shield
Calm Emotions
Detect Thoughts
ESP
Hold Person
Invisibility
Locate Object

LEVEL 03 RITUALS
Aphasia
Astral Sense
Bewitch III
Liar's Curse
Mind Rash
Mirror Image
Scry
Toad Mind
Tongues

LEVEL 04 RITUALS
Bewitch IV
Confusion
Divination
Elemental Armor
Emotion
Mirror Talk

LEVEL 05 RITUALS
Bewitch V
Charm Creature
Dream
Feeblemind
Nightmare
Overlook
Sending
Teleport


New D&D from WotC

One of the biggest problems of hanging in mostly old-school areas is people still seem to want to bitch and complain about Wizards of the Coast.

I don't get that.

It's ok not to like them. It's ok not to care for 3rd, 4th or 5th edition D&D.  But they are not the freaking devil.

We have the OGL from WotC which honestly has made the entire OSR possible.

We even are getting new content we can use in our games from them all them thanks to DnDClassics.com.

The 3.5 Edition of the Player's Handbook is now out for example.
Why is this a big deal? Because the 3.5 books all got the "deluxe" reprints. There general wisdom has been that reprints have not been getting PDFs.  Well if this is a change we can soon see 1st and 2nd edition core book pdfs.  We already see that with the Basic lines and much of the supplemental materials.

You might not play D&D 5 or have any interest in the current "Elemental Evil" arc, you have to agree that The Elemental Evil Player's Companion is a very important product.  Why? Well it is free, so there is that, but more importantly this is the first product WotC is doing "Print on Demand".  This is a HUGE deal.  Could you imagine it they started offering old school products not just as PDF but as POD?  Copies of old modules for a fraction of what the aftermarket charges?  The ability to have people new to the game buy the classics in book form?

Dragon is coming back AND it looks like it will be free. The new incarnation is Dragon+.
https://dnd.wizards.com/articles/news/dragonplus

There is a new member of their "D&D Adventure System Cooperative Play board games", Temple of Elemental Evil.  Which looks like it could be fun.
http://wizkidsgames.com/blog/2015/04/29/wizkids-temple-of-elemental-evil-board-game-arrives-in-north-american-retail/

So regardless of what system you are playing, there should be something in all this new AND old content you can use.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A to Z of Vampires: White Star SPECIAL Space Vampire

Heck with it.  Here is a special vampire for today.  To celebrate the release of +James Spahn's "White Star" here is a blast from the past, the Space Vampire of the 25th Century. The Vorvon!  Also useful for +Dan P's Starships & Spacemen or +Kevin Crawford's Stars Without Number.

The Vorvon


The Vorvon is a vampire from the darkest reaches of space. They are vampires and some even say they are the source of the vampire myths on hundreds of worlds.  They stand at just under 2 meters tall.  Their skin is a sickly pale blue color and what hair they have is thick, course and black.  They have long fangs, and long taloned fingers. It is through these talons that they drain life energy.  The vorvon can choose to drain either 2 points of Wisdom or 2 points of Constitution per touch.  The vorvon can go great periods of time between feedings, but once it meets up with intelligent life it must feed till full (30 points of Con or Wis drained total).

Vorvons do not cast shadow, reflection and they do not show up on security cameras or video recordings.  They have infrared vision to 120 ft and can survive the vacuum of space.

They are immune to the effects of energy based weapons except ones at the ultraviolet end of the spectrum.  These do 1d6 points of damage per firing.  Also the vorvon can shoot and energy blast of their own.  This is actually anti-life energy (also known as necrotic energy) to effect others.

The vorvon can hypnotize (as per the psychic power). Anyone drained by the vorvon becomes a mindless "half-dead" slave under it's control.

A mystical ward will hold it off; a diamond shape made up of four smaller diamonds.


The only way to destroy it is to get it within 800,000 km (500,000 miles) of a star.

Vorvon
AKA: Space Vampire
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Apperring: 1
Size: Man-sized (M)
Armor Class: 2 [18]1
Movement
 Basic: 180' (60')
 Advanced: 18"
 3e: 30'
Hit Dice: 10+5 (50 hp)
% in Lair: 50% (coffin by day)
Attacks: energy bolt,  Energy Drain (touch),
Damage: 1d6, Energy Drain
Special Attacks: Hypnosis,
Special Defenses: Only killed by close orbit to sunlight; immune to energy weapons*
Save As: 102
Magic Resistance: 55%
Morale: 103
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Level/XP: 10/5,750 + 12/hp

STR: 21 INT: 11 (Normal) WIS: 11 DEX: 18 CON: __(15)4  CHA: 85

1 Descending and [Ascending] Armor classes are given.
2 This is used for Basic games, and S&W. Also for monsters that I think need to save a little differently than others.
3 Morale is "Basic" Morale and based on a 1-12 scale.
4 Have not decided yet if I want to use 3.x style undead Constitutions or not. (15) Reflects what their Con would be if I do use it.  I might just put a number in () like I do for Ghosts of Albion.
5 obviously more reflective of personality and character than looks.

The Vorvon first (and last) appeared in Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century episode "The Space Vampire"

A to Z Challenge 2015 Reflections Post

I survived another A to Z blogging challenge.


I was so unprepared this year.  I know what vampire I was going to talk about each day, but often not much more than that.
By the numbers Vampires are much more popular than Witches or Demons.

Despite there being fewer participants in the challenge this year I did not get a chance to visit everyone.  That is too bad really, visiting new and interesting blogs is one of the highlights.
Though with the fewer blogs there were more that seemed in it to really enjoy it.

I actually had a lot more fun this year than last.  So that is something.
I did miss not participating in a mini-hop like I did last year.

This challenge would not be possible without our hosts:
Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Jeremy @ Hollywood Nuts
Nicole Ayers @ The Madlab Post
Author Stephen Tremp
Heather M. Gardner
AJ Lauer
Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian
Matthew MacNish @ The QQQE
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary
S. L. Hennessy @ Pensuasion
C. Lee McKenzie @ The Write Game
Joy Campbell @ The Character Depot
Susan Gourley @ Susan Says
John Holton @The Sound of One Hand Typing



I'd also like to thank the Ambassador's Team that I worked with this year:
Arlee Bird, Rob Z Tobor, J Lenni Dorner, Jenny Pearson, and Jeffrey Bushman.
You are all a great bunch!

Anyway in case you are curious here are the vampires and their country or myth or origin.

Letter
Vampire Country / Myths
A
Aswang Philippines
B
Berbalang Philippines
C
Camazotz Central America
D
Dearg-Due Ireland
E
Estrie Jewish Folklore
F
Farkaskoldus Hungary
G
Gierach Eastern Prussia / Poland
H
Hsi-Hsue-Kue China
I
Impundulu South Africa (Zulu & Xhosa)
J
Jigarkhwar India
K
Kyuuketsuki Japan
L
Lilith Ancient Mesopotamia
M
Moroi Rumania
N
Nosferatu Germany
O
Ovegua Guinea, Africa
P
Pĕnanggalan Malaysian
Q
Vampire Queen Modern
R
Rolang Tibet
S
Soucouyant Trinidad
T
Tenatz Eastern Europe
U
Upierczi Poland
V
Vrykolakas Greece
W
Wurdalak Russia
X
Xiāng-shī (殭屍) China
Y
Yara-ma-yha-who Australia
Z
Zburător Rumania

Other Vampire Posts

Vampire
Country / Myths
Baobhan Sìth Ireland
Dracula Novel
Elizabeth Bathory History / myth
Lilith, as a demon Ancient Mesopotamia
Lilith, as a witch Ancient Mesopotamia
Strigoi Eastern Europe


I have NO idea what to do for next year! Any requets?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...