Traveller Interstellar Wars - Episode 2

(man, I really need to get these out faster...)

Start: Tuesday (late) 2070.06.19, Duriim System

The Crew:

  • Captain Thomas Logan
  • Pilot Josh Naxon
  • Chief Engineer Kit Malloy
  • Navigator Dennis Ross
  • Comm/Sensor Officer "Skip" Karbuga
  • Chief Steward/Cargomaster Khalekshii Sadaka
  • Chief Medical Officer Dr. Svetlana Batsoev

Other Characters:

  • Falk - Terran expat that lives on Duriim and helps Free Trades get around the restriction on trade (for a cut of course).
  • Mizikhi Larsharlum - First born child of the local iishakku. She has rejected the life of Vilani nobility and now runs a small smuggling operation.
  • Ammim Larsharlum - Third born child of the local iishakku (and by law the heir to that title). He does not adhere to the kimashargur philosophy and is looking to strengthen ties to to non-kimashargur nobles.

Vilani words:

  • kimashargur - Virtue of the Foremost. Vilani culture that rejects the ban on technological advancement and exploration.
  • iishakku - Governors


The party met with Mizikhi Larsharlum, where she asked them several questions almost like an interview. She explained that her brother, Ammim, was being groomed by by her father to take over as one of the three ruling iishakku on Duriim. In order to flex his political weight, he has been clamping down on trade with Terrans. This both endears him to the hard-line Imperial Vilani, but also gives him some power over the other iishakku.

Mizikhi explains that Falk has been able to get around most of these controls but is limited in the amounts of trade he can deal with at any one time. She also states that she could get the crew's cargo "bumped up" the line if they help her out. She's looking for some leverage over her brother. This could also lead to long term gains for the crew, if she can get her brother to loosen the trade restrictions.

Then she asks the crew to look into a missing ship that her brother had kept off the books. It arrived in the system a couple of days ago, sending the standard arrival and location message and confirmation of approach vectors. But then a few hours later the ship send a second, garbled signal. A search was ordered, but then called off. And to seems that Ammim had all record of the ship wiped.

She wants the party to find what happens to this ship and try to bring it, the crew, and the cargo to her. Or which ever of those still remain.

The crew begin to search out what information they can about this ship. The public records seem to be mostly purged, other than confirming that a ship sent a signal on arriving in the system. They also learn that the ship was not listed on any arrival lists, and that it was set to land at a private landing location.

After the initial search they decide to hit up Falk, to see if he can give them some direction. He does a lot better than that, as he keeps tabs on all incoming ship transmissions and has a copy of the missing second message. It is encoded, but the crew think they can break it. They take a copy of the message to the ship and are able to decrypt it. It's an SOS signal with a location.

They move the ship's cargo into the spaceport's warehouse, and leave Sadaka on the planet to continue to work on making trade contacts. Then they take off towards the location in the SOS signal. Once there, they find no sign of the ship, but after some scan, realize that the ship may have been heading to a nearby moon (based on where it can arrived, and the second location).

As the Ziggy Stardust approached the moon, they saw a ship launching from some sort of facility hidden on the moon. The Captain hailed the ship, and learned that this was "The Shop", a space "chop shop" where pirates and smugglers get ship upgrades, and presumably where they might drop off a captured ship. The pirate captain mistook the Terrans for some new smugglers in the area, and gave them the pass phrase needed to get entry (and not get shot out of space).

The crew then hailed, gave the phrase, and were on their way to "The Shop".

To be continued...


Mini-Review of Pyramid 3/104

I don't normally do reviews, but I really enjoyed the latest issue of Pyramid and thought I'd share my feelings on it.

First off, I never read a full issue of Pyramid, at lest not at the same time. I cherry pick the articles that most appeal to me, and maybe skim through the rest. Later, I might revisit that issue and read other articles, but this issue kept me reading. It was even more focused than the typical issue (being one of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG issues).

Now for the articles:

From the Editor - As always, a good set up for the rest of the issue.

Trapped in the Living Tomb - A solo-adventure! Yes! I love solo adventures, and think they are a great tool for introducing folks to a game. This one is pretty solid and a lot of fun. I'd love to see more of these in the pages of Pyramid (or anywhere really).

The one thing that I think could have made it better, is if there was a bit more variety in the skill checks. A full character sheet is provided (yay), but it would have been nice if more of the listed skills could have come into play. 

[To be fair, I didn't read every entry after playing through, so I don't know if I just "missed" them, but they were not on the "critical" path as far as I could tell.]

It's a Quest! - I wasn't so sure about this system going in. I already try to tie loose plot threads together when my games start to feel like random disconnected events. But my results are somewhat mixed.

This systematized way of turning episodic type play into something a bit more "meta plot" is interesting, and I think I'm going to give it a try.

Heroic Background Generator - Ha ha, this is great! At first it seemed a bit goofy to me. Tables to generate a backstory? But after looking at it, I see a lot of cool use.

I've been wanting to come up with something like a "life path" system to use in GURPS for awhile, but I didn't want to rob players of the choices that GURPS offers with its point buy character creation. Even DF has plenty of choices on the templates.

But this system isn't a character creation life path system. It just generates a loose background that the players can use to inform the choices they make in character creation! I can also see lots of uses for generating interesting NPCs.

The State of the Dungeon - Nice recap of where things are, and what's to come.

Preparing for the Hero's Journey - This could be called: Just Good Advice. It is.


The Problem with GURPS (a response)

Every once-in-a-while I search GURPS on YouTube and see if there are any interesting videos. About a week back, I found such a video with the title, "The Problem with GUPRS".

At first I was going to pass on this video, figuring it to be another GURPS hater that just wants to beat up on a system he doesn't like. But I decided to give it a look and see what exactly this guy thought was wrong with GURPS.

It is a pretty good video so, give it a watch.

In short, he likes GURPS, but will choose setting specific rules over using it. GURPS is the "backup plan" in his mind. That's fine, but the tone is very much one of universal acceptance, and I wholeheartedly disagree.

My "problem" with GURPS is quite the opposite. I don't want to use any other rules, even when there is a (non-GURPS) set of rules for a setting I want to run. I've tried, but by the time I get into the "meat" of the rules my mind just starts to think, "I could do this better with GURPS." (There is a whole other topic on that bit that I could go into.)

In fact when I first got into GURPS, I immediately started writing conversions for some of the games that I had picked up and loved the setting of, but was very turned off by the rules. (I wonder if I still have the notes for converting Cybergeneration to GURPS 3rd edition somewhere...)

I'll hack, alter, house-rule, and modify GURPS all sorts of ways depending on the type of game I want to run, but the core stays the same. It is still "roll 3d6 under attribute/skill".

So, every gamer is different and that's fine. But for me, GURPS is my "Plan A" almost every time... even if someone else published a set of rules for the setting I want to play.


Traveller Interstellar Wars - Episode 1

Here is a quick recap of the first session of my Interstellar Wars game.

The Ziggy Stardust set out from Nusku on Friday, May 4th. Making minimal time stops to refuel and avoid any Imperial patrols, continued across the the Dingir sector. Then on Tuesday, June 19th they arrived in the Duriim system.

Landing at the main spaceport, the crew got their first taste of a dense atmosphere planet. Suiting up, they headed out and got the ship registered. Then sought out the local bar to see if they could make some contacts and see what was going on.

At the bar the crew tried a few Vilani drinks and met up with a few other Terran's who were on another free trader and were waiting to hear back from their captain. During this time the crew also got a call from steward Sadaka letting the player know that the duties on any goods sold were very high and that they wouldn't be making any profit this way. The crew asked the other Terrans if they had to pay the high dues, and were told that if they wanted to trade on Duriim, they needed to speak to Falk.

The party got directions and went to find Falk, in a little shop near the spaceport. Falk was a Terran expat who helps Terrans sell goods by listing those goods as his property. The only issue is that he's only allowed so many sales listed at a time. If they players wanted their goods sold, they would have to wait... or find a way to help Falk get more listings.

He told them that the two people that might help him get this are Ammim Larsharlum, son (3rd born) of the iishakku and heir to the title, and Mizikhi Larsharlum his older sister. It was implied that Ammim was the "proper" route, but that it might not be easy to win him over. Mizikhi, on the other hand, would be more approachable but getting her help might be less than legal.

So, after a short discussion, a dissension was made and Falk set up a meeting with Mizikhi.

Soon, the party found themselves entering a building that looked like a cross between a warehouse and a dance club. Some of the toughest looking Vilani they had ever seen were hanging out playing some card and dice games. In the center or the room was a raised platform and there stood a tall (especially for a Vilani) woman with a naval-like uniform and a patch over her eye. With a big, wolf-like smile she said, "Terrans!"

Yeah... kinda like that.


We ended there for the night. Things were a bit slower than I wanted for the kick-off game, but I didn't want things to get too chaotic. Everyone is pretty new to the setting and I wanted to ease things in a bit. I probably too that too far and things never got exciting. We'll see if the second session picks things up a bit... or a whole lot.


Traveller Interstellar Wars - Episode 0

I decided to run a "episode 0" session for my group before they had characters draw up. They had ideas of who they wanted to be, but this gave them a chance to get into character and figure out the characters. I'm not sure how well it went, but it was a fun.

I like to think of this session as the "unaired pilot". It sets up the backstory, but if characters need to change or be alter, it doesn't really matter. Continuity hasn't started yet. ;-)


New Campaign!

I've been busy lately prepping and working on a new campaign. We're going to be running Traveller Interstellar Wars!

We're going to be using the "default campaign" with group of Free Traders setting out from the Terran Confederation in 2170. Trade, exploration, aliens, war... what else could you want?

As far as rules, I'm using GURPS (of course), but instead of the ship design rules in IW, I've opted to use the GURPS Spaceships rules and combat. I've been working through converting the ships in Interstellar Wars. I've posted them to the SJGames Traveller forums, and will be posting them here soon.

Characters will be 150 points. I've already run an "episode 0" where the players didn't yet have characters built, but we ran through some background and some roleplay to set the stage and let them get a feel for their characters and the world.

So... Hang on travellers.


5th Realm Session 27 Recap


Picking up where we left on last week, the party backtracked through the keep, then zig-zagged through some alleyways toward the sounds of battle. When they emerged, they were behind a female "rat-thing" that was commanding the rat-things, skin-suits, and rat swarms to climb up the wall to the inner keep.

Solders were on the walls firing crossbows down and battling any thing that made it all the way up.


The party didn't wait long, and charged in. They headed straight towards the "rat queen". She turned her attention to them, and sent out a blast of magical energy toward Penelope, who failed to dodge. But then Kaz cast Deflect Missile on Penelope and caused the blast to smash into the ground.

Then the party surrounded the queen and all make hits against her. The other creatures began to pull from the keep, and surround the party, but after a few more hits the queen was dead, and the others were killed or fleeing.

Knight and Lord

Moments later the inner gate was opened and knights came out to secure the outer keep. One approached the party and thanked them for the help. His name is Amadeus and is captain of the Red Blades. He took the party to Lord Bedrahm.

The lord thanked the group and asked what he could do for them. They learned that his own lands were hit by the upheaval and he and the Red Blades were securing the keep for his people.

The party told him about Mistwood and the refugees, and he said that if the people of Mistwood were willing to help rebuild the keep, that he would welcome them.

Return and Rejoice

The party decided to travel back and meet up with the traveling group, and a day later had found them. They let them know about what had happened at the keep and about the Lord and his people. The sheriff let them know that he didn't trust the Red Blades (they are former criminals that became "un-landed" knights to fight in the war instead of going to prison), but that he saw little choice.

The group moved to the keep and began to work on a new home.


This was a pretty quick session, as it was just the tail end of what I had planned for the previous day. I didn't want to tack on extra events that left the party in a middle of something else.

The "boss" fight was over super quick, before the boss had any real chance to use some of her "tricks" which is fine... I'll file those away for another day. I also hadn't realized how close the party would be if they took the exact route they did, so a bit of (real world) luck added to that.

Overall it was fun and completed the mini-arc of getting the game transitioned to the new location.