Monthly Archives: December 2017

Starship Mech Drone

Yes, these are from the same Starfinder Roleplaying Game campaign as the Starforce Knights.

Starship Mech Drone
Compact and designed for urban and starship environments, the starship mech drone is specifically programmed to assist with starship operation and engineering. Outlawed in some systems as a weapon, mechanics who build their own custom drones often find the extra pair of hands too useful to give up.

Unlike other drones (which as part of a class feature cannot engage in starship combat skill checks), starship mech drones can fill the engineer, pilot, and gunner starship roles.

Starting Statistics
Size Small; Speed 30 feet; AC EAC 10, KAC 12; Good Save Will, Poor Saves Fortitude, Reflex; Ability Scores Str 6, Dex 14, Con —, Int 12, Wis 6, Cha 10; Ability Increases Dexterity, Intelligence

Bonus Skill Unit Engineering; Initial Mods camera, manipulator arms, tool arm

Patreon Mech

Not the smoothest segue, but my patrons ARE the engines of my blog posts. Their support allows me to make more time for this blog and generates more content like this! If you’d like to become my ally and supporter, check out my Patreon.

Advertisements

I Am Iron Fan

I love sci-fi superadvanced armor.

From the very first mention of the concept ever (Galactic patrol, by E.E. “Doc” Smith) to anime armors big and small, to iron Man in comics and movies, to the novel “Armor,” I am a fan.

One of the advantages of this is that when someone kindly decides to get me a geeky gift, I’m easy to buy for. Case in point, LEGO Iron Man Brickheadz.

I have loved LEGO in principle for years, but I haven’t actually built any in decades. So not only did this gift appeal to my sci-fi armor/Iron man fandom, it let me reconnect (no pun intended) with LEGO.

My wife and I took about 20 minutes to assemble this as a 3-D jigsaw puzzle, and we were both surprised how much fun we had. I was originally going to just take two pictures, a “before” and “after,” but got excited and documented the whole process more thoroughly than expected.

20171216_015502

The pieces come in two plastic bags, and includes a pictorial  instruction booklet.

20171216_015836

The instructions are clear that step one is sorting all the pieces into the different specific types.

20171216_020104

It’s interesting to me that I get Hulk Green pieces, as well as some orange and pink, which are part of the interior and will be totally concealed once the piece Brick Headz is finished.

20171216_020356

The torso is… squat.

20171216_020611

I am embarrassed to admit I hadn’t realized the pieces with bumps on the sides of them were designed to put studs on the sides at a 90 degree angle to the “top”of the Brick Headz. Those studs are how the tiny arms are clicked in place.

20171216_020805

I call this the “Creepy Cage Head Iron man” stage.

20171216_020932

While there are a very few specialty pieces that clearly exist only for this Brick Headz, I was impressed how few of them are needed.

20171216_021230

It’s amazing how big a difference the smooth-topped LEGO make to  the final appearance.

20171216_021347

I was simple amused by the apparently universal symbol for “Turn your Brick Headz upside-down.”

20171216_021615

Here is the final Brick Headz! I had four tiny one-stud, smooth-topped LEGO left over.

20171216_021759

The “Chibi LEO” Iron Man suit looks weirdly appropriate on my “random” shelf in my home office. It may end up moving to my desk at Paizo… we’ll see.

Did you enjoy my over-documented LEGO project? Well feel free to back my Patreon for a few bucks and tell me to do more of this!

100% Spoiler-Free Thoughts on The Last Jedi.

I think one of the things that made the original Trilogy very successful (and makes everything sine much more divisive), is that the original somehow manages to be wildly different things to different viewers. And depending on what lens we view those movies through, we want very different things from one another for expansions or continuations of our version of Star Wars.

The Last Jedi was not a perfect film, but I enjoyed it very much.

It means that for the people who made it, they have narrowed down how they see the original films, and that’s fine. I can see what they see, and be really happy with it.

It also means that there are different movies in my head, which are the 8th movie for different Star Wars original trilogies that, realistically, may also have only ever existed in my head.

And I’m okay with that.

(For those who want to support my posting my thoughts on geekery when i have them, check out my Patreon.)

Starforce Knights (Starfinder Roleplaying Game)

Don’t ask me what movie I am going to see, just enjoy my thoughts on an alternate set of class features to turn solarians into Starforce Knights!

Starforce Knight
A Starforce Knight must select solar weapon as his solar manifestation. This weapon always appears as a sword.

Stellar Revelations
A Starforce Knight does not receive the black hole or supernova stellar revelations at first level. Instead, the Starforce Knight gains the following revelations at 1st level

Force Block (Su)(Graviton)
When you are graviton attuned or fully attuned, and you are wielding your stellar weapon, are wearing light armor or no armor, and able to take actions, you constantly block attacks made against you. You add your Charisma bonus to your AC against ranged attacks against you if they target only you (this does not apply to lines, blasts, or other attacks that affect multiple creatures), and gain a +1 bonus to AC against any other attacks.

Starsaber (Su)(Photon)
When you are photon attuned or fully attuned, you add your charisma bonus to damage done with your stellar weapon in addition to your Strength bonus. Additionally, you may choose to use your Charisma bonus in place of your Strength bonus for attack rolls with your stellar weapon.

Knightly Code
A Starforce Knight does not take penalties for having disproportionate revelations. However, they must follow the code of their knightly order. If a Starforce Knight violates this code, they take the penalties normal solarians take for having disproportionate revelations until the beginning of their next character level. Each order is normally represented by having stellar weapons of a unified color (such as blue, green, red, or white). Two sample codes are presented below.

Knights of the Blue Star: Knights of the Blue Star are defenders of the downtrodden and respect life in all forms. They do not use their stellar revelations other than Starsaber to make attacks against or harm living creatures.

Knights of the Red Star: Knights of the Red Star are dedicated to looking after themselves and establishing their power over others. If a Knight of the Red Star is attacked by a creature, it must attack, harm, or cause penalties for that attacker within 24 hours.

Knights of Patreon
Not the smoothest segue, but my patrons ARE heroes in my book! their support allows me to make more time for this blog and generates more content like this! If you’d like to become my hero, check out my Patreon.

Simple Dwarven Name Generator

The very first professional RPG writing of mine that was published was the elven name generator in Dragon 251. I’d done (and even been paid for) freelance work prior to that, but none of it was published before that issue hit the stands. It was the beginning of one of my early series, RPG name and language articles, which included the seven By Any Other Name, Cry Havoc, and Dragontongue articles in Dragon Magazine, What’s In A Name in Pyramid magazine, Call Signs in Star Wars gamer magazine, and some work on the online D&D name generator for 4th edition.

One of the things I am proudest of about the majority of those articles is that in addition to allowing random creation of appropriate-sounding names, the articles have just enough definition to allow the meaning of the names to be determined. It’s rough of course—this is designed to allow some fun details for RPG characters and stories, not create full constructed languages like Klingon or Dothraki. But I’ve found being able to tell someone their magic sword is named the dwarven name for “Dragon’s Bite,” and for the player to then use the article to name a back-up weapon “Dragon’s Fire”, adds a lot even with the fairly lose rules.

But while the elven By Any Other Name in Dragon 251 was the first of all of those to get published, I actually pitched (and wrote) a dwarven name generator first. It eventually got accepted and published in Dragon 261. I never felt “done” with that name generator, but honestly I felt like it was the best of all the ones I did (though the kuo-toa name generator is a lot of fun, too).

But I am always thinking about other ways to do similar things (even though, in the age of the Internet, I don’t know if there is any need for yet more simple name generators). I have wondered, for example, what the shortest possible useful name generator is.

I have made a dwarf name generator, with hints for definitions, with ten elements.

I suspect that is too short.

But it’s worth floating and see how people react to it.

To use the generator roll 1d10 twice, to determine the prefix and suffix of the name. for example, a y and then a 3 gives you Mhordun, which could mean Fire Rune, Scholar of Dragons, Treasured Scroll, Destined to Rage, or any other combination of similar words you like.

If you roll the same number twice, ignore the second result and instead do three word elements. For example if you rolls 10 and then 10 again, ignore the second ten and roll twice more (still ignoring 10s). If you got a 1 and a 8, your name is Wularnhar.

With these rules and just 10 intermixable name segments, you end up with hundreds of possible names, with definitions, to use for anything dwarven. If you want male and female names to be different, you can add some feminine suffixes (-a, dot, -gurd, -hild, -ir) to either use in place of some name segments below, or to add to the end of a name generated using the standard rules.

  1. ar – warrior, axeman, weapon, sword, spear, pick, retribution
    2. bal – armor, shield, guardian, ward, abjuration, iron
    3. dun – dragon, rage, fire, treasure, gold
    4. fel – thief, spy, shadow, darkness, assassin, death
    5. grym – ring, sorcerer, warlock, magic, eldritch
    6. kar – servant, slave, secret, traitor, lock, binding
    7. mhor – scholar, wisdom, scroll, rune, destiny
    8. nhar – battle cry, thunder, bard, horn
    9. thyr – ice, frost, calm, silver, cleric
    10. wul – craftsman, craft, skill, beer, mead, art, artisan, beauty

Pat-Reon

No, it’s not another set of dwarven name segments (though it could be — just use a d12 instead of a d10). It’s the main way I fund writing content for my blog. If you enjoyed this post, please consider backing me. 🙂

Space Politics

One of the things more industrialized settings sometimes do for an rpg campaign is open up new avenues of adventure. While there is nothing at all wrong with tuning an abandoned mall into a dungeon, or a wrecked spaceship into a haunted house, or treating an alien progenator as a dragon in its layer, sometimes it’s fun to play with new possibilities as well.

And if you have a setting with multiple homeworlds drawing together in a confederation with representative officials from different worlds, each with its own method of selecting said officials, that means politics.

While in some games PCs might actually be candidates, and some system of determining who wins an election might be useful as a subsystem, the idea of political action adventures can be introduced without going nearly that far. Much as you don’t need a subsystem on fighting epidemics in order to rush antidotes to a plague-ridden city and don’t need rules on the impact of an alpha predator on an ecology not designed for it to hunt down the bullette destroying a forest, you can do a lot with politics as a motivator without ever getting into voting, caucuses, poll taxes, or even issues.

As with many RPG-related adventure ideas, you can borrow heavily from fiction for inspiration. While these are by no means an exhaustive list of movies with politics-driven action plots, and it’s certainly not a commentary on the quality of any of these movies, they are things that a good GM should be able to easily borrow from to throw some political adventure into a modern or science-fiction campaign. All of these have at least some elements where it’s easy to envision PCs of any level getting involved, either accidentally, as catspaws, or as a politically appropriate measured response. While it might be important in some cases to downgrade the action from centering around a chief executive to simply a minor representative who’ll cast a decisive vote on something, the core ideas are still easily lifted.

And obviously, I leaned towards those movies with cool ideas and set-pieces over those with believable politics.

Air Force One
Argo
Bridge of Spies
Dreamscape
Enemy of the State
Escape from New York
Fatherland
Godzilla: Resurgence
The Hunger Games tilogy
In the Line of Fire
The Kingdom
The Manchurian Candidate
Munich
Olympus Has Fallen
The Pelican Brief
The Purge: Election Year

Speaking of Politics

Well only sort of. But politicians need supporters… and so do I! I have a Patreon, where I have set up pledge levels to explain how much you’ll actually be charged (within a few cents) even under Patreon’s weird new pricing scheme. Check it out!

Superfiction: The Trend

“After several weeks of increasing accusations, rumors, and news reports, The Patriarch, long-time leader of the government-sanctioned hero team the Patriot Patrol, has made a public statement regarding the sexual misconduct controversies he’s been the center of for some more than a month now. We present his comments, made from the Patriot Palace, in their entirety.”

“My American Friends and Neighbors, this is an unusual moment for me, and I find it difficult to know how to strike the correct tone. Normally when I speak publicly in this way, it’s to warn of an impending invasion for another dimension, or to assure citizens that a tidal wave or volcanic eruption has been mitigated due to my actions, or those of others in the Patriot Patrol. Never before have I faced claims that I have acted inappropriately that so caught the public attention that, as leader of our premiere line of masked defenders, I felt the need to address them. I do this not because I feel I am unable to do my job defending the innocent, but because there is clearly a cultural movement in play at the moment, and I do not wish speculation over my reaction to recent events become a distraction from the important work that lies ahead for us all.

“As I am sure everyone is aware, a number of women have made public statements indicating that I used my position to coerce sexual acts rom them, or gave preferential treatment in return for such acts, or had interactions with them that made them uncomfortable. Several of these women are people I have known and worked with for years, and I am obviously hurt that they felt the appropriate step for them was to speak to the media rather than to me, but that’s where we are now.

“Let me be clear. It was never my intention to intimidate, harm, or belittle any woman. The majority of the incidents that have recently been made public occurred outside of my official duties as leader of the Patrol, and my perception of them was very different than the recollections of the woman now making accusations. Other accusations are patently false, and the timing of these claims supports my view that they are politically motivated, rather than the cries of a repressed class of victims.

“In particular, while it is true that I had relations with several cadet members of the Patrol, and with a few of the women we monitored as part of the Forlorn Force villain work-release program. All of these women were consenting adults, and all the activities engaged in legal in the municipalities where they occurred. No crime was committed here.

“Further, for those who feel such relationships may have shown poor judgment, I will point out that I am, literally, from another time. As a citizen of the 40th century, I come from a time where there is no power imbalance between men and women, and thought that in the 75 years since I became a costumed agent in this time that we had moved American society to the point where it had reached the same ideal. When seen from this perspective, my actions are clearly without malice or improper intent.

“Obviously there is a process in place within the Patriot Patrol to investigate serious accusations of misconduct. That level of evidence has not been meet, but I am nevertheless directing the appropriate committee to begin an investigation into the most serious of these accusations, which I have no doubt will fully vindicate me. Since I am the head of the committee, I have directed Captain Quantum to take over for this specific investigation. I’ve known the captain for more than a decade, and believe him to be above reproach. His conclusions will surely be accepted by all fair-minded people, and but this issue to bed once and for all.

“Until that time, obviously it is unfair to those citizens that depend on the Patriot Patrol to protect them from the machinations of the Cathedral of Crime, or the J’kund, or any of a dozen similar potential threats for me to step down and leave my fellow Patriots short-handed. So while I am temporarily stepping back from the various oversight roles I have filled for over half a century, I remain on the job, overseeing you all as a Patriarch should.

“Finally, I would remind you when you go to news-sites and listen to broadcasts about these issues, that we live in a complicated world. Between shapeshifters, Computiac, telepaths, and evil alternate reality versions of our own with groups like the Penal Patrol, not everything you see or hear is trustworthy. While news agencies obviously believe they can perform a level of due diligence to ensure they don’t produce fake news, when their reporting suggests a well-known and trusted hero has committed such terrible social violations, it may be time to trust us, and not them.
“Thank you, and know that I’m watching over you all.”

Degrees of Fatigue

The fatigued and exhausted conditions are designed to be simple. First, you take a –2 penalty to Strength and Dexterity, and can’t run or charge. Then if you suffer another level of fatigue, your penalties jump to -6, and you move at half speed on top of other limits.

One hour rest takes you from exhausted to fatigued. Eight hours of rest takes you from fatigued to fine.

That’s more granular that my (too frequent) experience with exhaustion, but that’s fine. Simplicity is worth some increased granularity. Part of the question for me is… how simple is that? Neither the jump from -2 to -6, nor the differences in how long it takes to recover from the conditions, feels intuitive to me. Also, it strikes me odd that once you are exhausted, maintaining things that should fatigue you have no effect.

So, that brings us to the ideas of degrees of fatigue.

Instead of going from fatigued to exhausted, you keep taking degrees of fatigue. Each degree has a -2 penalty to Strength and Dexterity, which stack. Once your Strength and Dexterity both drop below 10 as a result of these penalties, all your movement rates are cut in half. If  your Strength or Dexterity is reduced to 0, you pass out until the penalties reduce to allow you a positive ability score.

Two hours of dedicated rest removes one degree of fatigue. (Anything that would end fatigue removes one level, anything that would end exhaustion removes up to 4 levels.)

I don’t know if this is actually easier, but it’s something I’d love to playtest and see how it works out.

Patreon

Hopefully you aren’t tired of hearing me mention this. I have a Patreon. The pledge levels tell you (within a few cents) how much you’ll actually be charged for your support. Please consider giving me a few dollars of support!

Proof Patreon Knows They Are doing the Wrong Thing

Left Hand, Meet Right Hand

I am angry that Patreon is changing the amount they charge my patrons. It seems so obvious they should now that’s NOT the right thing to do.

And it turns out they do know that. You can find them telling you that on their own site.

So, this is the official Pateon position on “Why can’t I edit my reward tier amount?”

We do this to prevent confusion; for example, imagine if your patrons at your $5 reward tier had the tier changed to $10  you would either have different patrons paying different amounts for the exact same thing (not good), or you would raise prices on the $5 patrons without asking (also not good!).

So, if I raise prices on my patrons without asking, that’s bad. But if PATREON does it, that’s… what? A quest for appropriate valuation of their synergistic paradigm change?

Backing Me

Yeah, despite being angry, I am still using Patreon… for now. If you want to back me, you can see the “$3 level” costs $2.57, and so on. That’s my effort to give my backers what they always got at those levels without charging more.

Obviously that means I am making less per patron, so I could use any extra support you decide to throw my way.

Thanks, folks.

Weird Worldbuilding

Sometimes, it’s the weird little corners of your world that players will latch on to. In a post-apocalypse campaign I ran, the players ran into an old, fully automated factory that made self-heating cans of “Joe,” an artificial coffee-flavored meal substitute. I noted that there were some faded old signs (“Start Your day with a Big Cup of Joe!”), and that there was a trading village down the hill from the factory.

Before the players ever got to the trading village, they had formed dozens of theories about how the Joe Factory got raw materials (from roving “acquisition drones” who had once picked up cargo runs, but has simply adjusted to become automated hunter/gatherers dumping crops and game and ore in the Joe Factory intake hoppers) to how the village used the Joe cans to survive. Drinking it, of course, but also hammering out old cans to make tools, opening a dozen cans in a pot of water to heat and sanitize it, to pouring the thick Joe on thin rocks, letting it dry into a vinyl-like fabric, and making clothes out of it.

It was all much more interesting than what I had planned, so by the time the players got to the village, and I adapted and expanded off their best ideas to create a culture that was part cargo cult, part hipster battle clans (with the Blak, Sprezo, and Mhokah the most powerful factions).

So, sometimes a throwaway line or idea is just a drop of color in the impressionist painting that is an RPG campaign world… and sometimes it’s a jumping-off point for a much more fantastic and interesting element that’s explored in depth.

As a result when I have a weird idea, I often make sure to note it down and roll it around in my head a bit. Maybe nothing comes of it. Maybe I mention it once next time I am running a game off-the-cuff.
But maybe it’ll pay much larger dividends.

So, I told you that story to tell you this one.

In the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, there is a lizardlike race known as the vesk, who have their own empire, and a weapon like an axe with spikes instead of an axe-blade called a “doshko.”

Between the stress and exhaustion of the apst few weeks, and the OTC cocktail I’ve been using to try to sleep at night, an idea popped into my head, unbidden.
A phrase, really.
Drink Dochcola, the Taste of War. … Or Else!

Heh.

I like the idea of a soft drink called “Doshcola,” though I presume it’s sold by a megacorporation that has very little to do with the vesk. Some vesk might even see it as an insult, a dishonor to their traditional weapon of war and symbol of their warlike god.

But that could be interesting, too.

So, as a jumping off point, I present the best slogan I came up with for Doshcola.

Doshcola Slogans
“Conquer Your Thirst”
“Give Your Lizard Brain a Drink”
“Spiked with Flavor”
“Now in new Plasma Doshcola Falvor!”
“Get a Taste for War”
“Doshcola. Deadly Serious.”
“4 out of 5 inhuman mercenaries prefer the sharp taste of Doshkola, over blood and dirt.”
“Doshcola. Because what else will you drink, beer made with Dwarf Sweat?”
“Now with 72% less Skittermander Tears!”

Speaking of Weird Little Corners

These blog posts are made possible by the fine folks who support my Patreon. I’d love for you to join them! Just make sure you read the pledges, and pick the ones with the weird prices (they’ll explain why.)