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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Adventure Pets!

I love having pets. That is why I felt it necessary to allow them to be included in the campaign. It's like that bumper sticker that says "Animals are people too". Inclusion of pets in a campaign is a salute to our own pets or the pet we might wish to have.

Pets can keep us company, make us laugh, comfort us when we're low, and keep us sane. But in a Star Frontiers game, we can adopt pets that can do much more, such as protect us, transport us, or retrieve things for us. They can help us in a great many situations and add flavor to the campaign.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed writing the article, especially since I'm the first one that I know of who has ever done such an article. I love delving into the roleplaying aspects of my subject.

Roleplaying Instruction
This article was my first opportunity to instruct on actual roleplaying. I don't think there are enough such articles in the industry. Crunch seems to be what everyone cater's to, but really, there are a lot of people out there who need roleplaying instruction, but particularly for the subject in this article, since it's not a subject that many people think about and for which most couldn't imagine what could be fun about roleplaying an animal.

Whether a beginning roleplayer or an old school gamer, the player is still left to "wing it" in regard to roleplaying. Sure, the more the play, the better they get at it from watching others and practicing what they learn, but they don't often give careful consideration to their roleplaying. Thus, articles are needed that instruct roleplayers in the details. But more importantly is being able to see how to make roleplaying more fun. Some may be robotic die rollers who enjoy taking part in the character reacting to his environment, while others may take an active part in shaping the adventure and the campaign. The key is learning how to express that ambition when roleplaying a seemingly uninteresting living being or computer device. And so I now try to provide roleplaying instruction wherever possible.

Expanding the Pet Roleplaying Concept
In this article I also provided several animals that can be used as pets of one kind or other, ranging the gamut of ways in which animals can improve life, from the small to the great, and from the grounded to the soaring. Pinar's Ant seemed to be a hit. It's my favorite as well. The Fazer Wolf was a close second for me, and I intend to do some stuff with it in the future.

This seemed to be the article that hit some amount of appreciation by the community, but I have yet to hear anyone put it to good use. I hope someone finds that opportunity. What I regret about the Adventure Pets! article is that I did not include pictures with the animals. So I hope to be able to provide those images eventually. Perhaps I'll revise them in a new creature list article.

When writing this article, I had the intent to do a Beast Riders article that would accompany it in the same issue, but I ran out of room. Instead, I introduced the Animal Trainer skill with subskills, and how to put your pet to good use. I will probably amend this skill later to trade out some Explorer skill, which already has the other subskills listed in the article.

Racial Gender Ability Modifiers

My first article in the Star Frontiersman issue #4, called Species/Gender Ability Modifiers was about using ability modifiers to express the differences between the sexes. It was supposed to be named "Racial Gender Ability Modifiers". That article ignited a comical fury between so-called feminist men, most of them attacking me. Only one female showed up in the conversation to say that she didn't find any objection to it and that the matter of determining the difference in game is subjective and she wasn't sure if my choice regarding the INT difference was the right choice to reflect that difference, but could see where someone might object. Despite her comment, argument continued. The fact is, an enlightened individual should be secure enough in their understanding of balance to recognize the differences between male and female, both physically and intellectually without threatening their belief in equality between the sexes.

Can you say that a butterfly is better than a moth just because the butterfly is beautiful or that they are precisely equal in beauty? Of course not to both. The butterfly is clearly more beautiful than the moth, but that doesn't mean one is better than the other. They both serve their own functions and have completely different needs, but they both live similar lives, one during the day and one during the night, and both pollinate and have similar reproductive cycles. Butterflies are few and are birthed in specific places, while moths are many and are birthed in any kind of conifer and some trees. Which one's better? If they are equal, then does that equality require that they be exactly the same in beauty and function? Of course not.

So it seems natural that the difference between the sexes be recognized, as the difference is as significant as one race from another. That is why I wrote the article, and I think it was properly considered. However, in hindsight, I should have more carefully considered the difference between male and female Vrusk.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Revised Knight Hawks Rules

As much as Knight Hawks sucks (my opinion), the spaceship construction rules are halfway to effective. However, the biggest problem with those rules is that they are not gradual enough.

Unified Decimaled Sizes
In Starflight: Starfighters in Star Frontiers in Star Frontiersman issue #5, I presented an alternate sizing system for Knight Hawks ship hull sizes 1-3. However, this was not well received. After some discussion, a decimal system appeared to be preferred. So in the revision to the Starflight article, I will be presenting a decimal size system instead that can be applied to spaceships or vehicles and which is fully compatible with Knight Hawks and provides more gradient scales of ship construction.

What I have noticed is a lot of discussion about how space fighters will not be effective in military space operations, but I strongly disagree. Not only will they be most effective for transatmospheric assaults, a pilot's ability to judge the situation and perform an appropriate response will still be superior to any long range missile, as well as the pilot can guide in a whole load of effective weapons and hit multiple targets on a ship in a single carefully guided pass. I will cover a thorough argument for the use of space fighters and bombers in the revised article.

New Creations
I also have some other vehicles and small spaceship ideas I'd like to offer. Such options can include a "jump ship" which acts as a long range manned probe carrying 2 crew (A navigator and technician) which carries only enough fuel and engine capacity to make 2 jumps, allowing it to be much smaller. The idea is that the mother ship is moving at .11c, the jump ship then moves out from the bay and immediately enters jump. It's size leaves a minimal wake. At the end of its jump, the technician scans the system with the powerful equipment to determine composition and enemy activity. The navigator keeps the vessel moving at .1c and makes a wide turn to jump to the designated return point where it rejoins the mother ship. That's just one of many ideas that have come into my head that I will introduce in company with the article.

Scaled Combat Time and Vector Movement
I will also be providing an updated Shades of Motion in 3-D article which will provide more examples and clarification to the use of movement scaling and show more thoroughly how battles using that system should take place. I will provide an earth-equivalent planet demonstrating one scale, where the planet will be half in and half out of the map. I will then provide a closer on-planet scale showing various terrains.

The primary problem with the original article was relating how the scales interacted with combat timing. What happens is that because it's on two different scales, it has different turn times to reflect faster action on the new scale. So what happens is that those fighting on one scale will be waiting for those fighting on another scale to finish perhaps ten to twenty minutes of play. What came to my mind as an interesting work-around is the roleplay that can happen on the ships during that time. The greater difference in time, the more roleplaying takes place, maxing out at 10 minutes of in character roleplay. The beauty of that is that it suddenly turns the boardgame rules into roleplaying rules. In the article I will have to present more information detailing how roleplay should take place during that time. It also gives anti-fighter weapons a chance to operate on the same scale as the fighters. The end result would be a battle closely resembling a true sea battle in space. If I can make it all work, the article will undoubtedly be adopted, as many have expressed interest in it.

I may fit in simple vectoring in Shades of Motion article as well. I am seeking to find a better vectoring system. I think I came close, but there is minutia that is bugging me (the confined spaces [hexes or squares] really screws things up). It's similar to Art Eaton's simple vectoring rules, but should provide a more accurate path along which the ship travels, as well as noting its actual facing during the maneuver. (Which Art's rules neglect, for which I find a serious problem to simulation play. Yes, at the end of a maneuver, you have freedom of movement, but not during the maneuver, so that all your actions are affected by your facing during the maneuver. Also, maneuvering carries with it G-forces that must be considered and which increase exponentially per the size of ship. Thus a maneuver rating will still be absolutely necessary, whereas Art completely discards it.) I want it to be simple like KH movement, but as close to real vectoring as possible without the need of a straight ruler, protractor, or french curve.

Await the Black Sails
In the end, it will still feel like Knight Hawks with these articles (which is my primary goal, as seen by the pains of retaining the KH sizes and keeping the movement simple), but the frustrations about its errors affecting immersion will be resolved. I want to provide a system that people will want to play and will thoroughly enjoy. This is all still a ways away, but I assure you that they have remained a concern on my mind and I will certainly be getting around to them. Perhaps I will remove the fighters and equipment from the Starflight article and combine it with the Shades of Motion in 3-D article and name it Shades of Motion in 3-D—Revised.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Adventure Bots!

I would like to take a little time to talk about the upcoming Adventure Bots! article that will appear in Issue #13 of the Star Frontiersman.

I first conceived the notion of a robots article around the time Bill asked me to proof his sentient robots article two years ago (Wow. Has it really been that long?). I had later planned to expand the robots section of Alpha Dawn for my 25th Anniversary Edition and had asked for help in that matter, though none was forthcoming at the time. But when Bill and I previously discussed robots for the article he wanted to write, he seemed only interested in sentient robots, at least for that article, and I got the impression that he didn't see non-sentient robots as playable. So I determined that I would write a robots article that teaches how to roleplay robots, but I lacked the inspiration at the time, and later I got busy working on several different publications for the game and a couple of other articles, so I pretty much didn't allow myself to focus on it with the attention that was needed.

Now two years have passed and I have had the joy of working on the article for the last two months, but now I'm at the finishing stages of the article where I fill out the remaining tables and examples. Examples! Oh the drudgery! I have been procrastinating doing those examples for some time now. I hate doing examples. It's much the reason why I started writing the Futuresports article as well as getting back into writing the Beta Dawn and Gamma Dawn supplements and had several other fresh ideas to set up as well as setting out my planned publications list and this blog. All because of those stupid examples.

Well, onto the article. The article should be pretty playable as is. I plan on putting it to the test when I'm done and getting rid of anything that feels like too much. I did quite a bit of RPG research on robots. In fact, in my procrastination I have also been collecting many, many old RPG's to help me in my research. I now have over 5GB of RPG's and supplements stored on DVD and my computer. I even found the first 100 issues of Dragon Magazine, minus Issue #59 (If you have a copy of that, please scan it and send it my way). Anyway, in so doing I collected a lot of really good information on roleplaying robots. But despite that research, I felt more was needed, so I added several points to expand the robot's personality and playability as well as expanded the quirks I found in the Droids book from West End Games' Star Wars RPG (That was a fantastic find!).

The one thing I really want to bring across in the article is that robots aren't just toasters on wheels (or legs), but are decision-making automatons with the ability to surprise and entertain. When you think of R2-D2, while you know it has an advanced A.I., you still know it's a robot, though you may inadvertantly call it "he". The same goes for C-3PO. But unlike Threepio, Artoo has no emotion or advanced personality matrix. All that Artoo does is based upon what it has learned over the long time it has gone without a memory wipe. When it seems like Artoo is expressing emotion, is he really expressing emotion? Or is he just accessing an appropriate response based upon external stimuli? It's a valid question. The fact is, Artoo is a non-sentient robot programmed to behave in some ways like a sentient, but reacting in calculated, but independent ways.

So this was the premise of the article and I gave much attention to helping the player remember that their reactions should be systematic, but deliberate, obedient, but unique, finite, but adventurous. I also provided new mechanics for helping the robot to improve its operation and for interacting with its master.

In short, it was quite fun working out the article and I can only hope it is well-received and that at least one playgroup uses it. After reading a draft of the article, Bill Logan has already asked if he could include some of it in his FrontierSpace rules with credit. I find that very encouraging and I hope that at least one playgroup benefits by the inclusion of a robot as a part of their playgroup.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Ultimate Edition Line-up

Many know of my 25th Anniversary Edition rules that I was working on and would likely be glad to know that I haven't abandoned the project. I have recently gotten back to working on the books for that project once again, but I am debating with myself whether to continue it as non-profit Star Frontiers or to seek Bill Logan's backing to publish it under his FrontierSpace banner.

I already have hundreds of pages prepared for Gamma Dawn that need to be straightened out and rewritten, and Beta Dawn is coming along swiftly. The hundred or so RPG's I have acquired are excellent research for this endeavor and help me to know what needs building on and what tropes to keep and what to throw out.

For the Beta Dawn Cybernetics Rulebook, I think it best not to do the Cyberpunk setting, as it has been done to death and is not in the flavor of Star Frontiers. However, covering the seedier side of computer networking and cybernetics overload is a must, just without the punks. For the galactic internet, I am developing a social substrata that will branch such classic movie tropes as Tron and the Matrix with simple mechanics while recognizing the need for some amount of realism in what is expected by those who may despise the above mentioned movies. It will include robot rules and lots of cybernetics-compatible equipment.

I realize, though, that I won't be able to please everyone. Someone is going to complain that I was too inclusive and am ruining the Star Frontiers experience for them. I roll my eyes at such people, because that is exactly what Star Frontiers does. It rolled up Star Wars, Star Trek, Battle Star Galactica, and Buck Rogers all into one neat package while keeping it somewhat more grounded in modern science.

On the other hand, there are those that are going to say that I didn't do something right according to their campaign. To both sides I say take with it what you think fits your idea of Star Frontiers and leave the rest. This is Star Frontiers in the 21st century and I'm going to treat it as such, the way it would have developed if the game had gotten the backing that other RPG's received and which it deserved. Every RPG starts out simple and gets more complex as time goes on. That's the nature of providing products for a setting. The more products you provide, the more fleshed out the setting becomes. There's just no avoiding it.

As for Gamma Dawn Deviations Rulebook, I want to provide a cohesive structure that explains why mutants haven't been seen in the Frontier to date and provide mechanics that resemble Star Froniers rather than Gamma World. Something interesting that I found was that Kimber Eastland, who compiled Zebulon's Guide to Frontier Space, was a well established Gamma Dawn writer, having many modules and supplements to his name. But while he favored that setting, he did not attempt to turn Star Frontiers into Gamma Dawn. He clearly had plans to introduce cybernetics and bionics, and perhaps might have addressed mutations in later volumes of Zeb's, but he wasn't able to finish the series, and so here we are.

I will tackle the mutation theme while keeping the flavor and essence of Star Frontiers at the forefront. I realize that super powers are not in the flavor of Star Frontiers and will therefore seek to balance the mechanics so that they do not break the game too much (as far as can be done, as it is the Referee's responsibility to balance his own campaign). I am exploring turning the random mutation tables into a means of creating new creatures and altering characters with the same mechanic. It should have an inherent balance and make creature creation more standard and less guessing.

I will discuss my reasoning behind the Alpha Dawn Core Rulebook incidentally now. Regarding the differences between the original Alpha Dawn and Zebulon's Guide, Kim had his own view of what Star Frontiers was, as each of us do, as well as his own ideas about how to develop it. I think Zebulon's Guide was a push in the right direction, but with poor support, causing it to be poorly executed. The races didn't look like their descriptions or previous incarnations, nor were they pretty according to the art. Whereas the Alpha Dawn races looked interesting because of the fantastic work of the grand master trio of Easley, Elmore, and Caldwell, Zeb's Guide fell flat for the inferior art among other reasons, including layout. Zeb's was simply doomed, but not for its story.

Some people snit and nit pick over the way Zeb's handled such things as the timeline. Some say the timeline should have been kept simple so that players could flesh it out, but really, how is fleshing a timeline out going to hamper a Referee's creativity? It's not. The timeline still left tons of opportunity for exploration. However, it was the planet population and chemical composition charts that really messed things up. Many star systems that people had previously hoped to explore or who had created their own details about those stars are now told the stars can't even sustain life. So what happened to the "densely packed stars" concept? Why can't we visit those worlds that Alpha Dawn once provided to us? And why quarantine three worlds? Well, this actually intrigued me when I studied that aspect and the MedLab Campaign Book was born. (See below.)

Another project that I introduced and which I was getting help on, more so than any other project, was the Delta Dawn Fleet Rulebook. First of all, I don't care what anyone says, Knight Hawks sucked. It's ship creation rules sucked. It's movement rules sucked. It's advanced skills sucked. Its mapping sucked. And it was completely void of fleet maneuvering. The Delta Dawn rules are meant to revise all of that. Delta Dawn will introduce fleet rules, vectoring, 3-D mapping, and utilize the cohesive vehicle creation rules that will be introduced in the Alpha Dawn Ultimate Edition. It will have ranks, fleet strategies, space combat, ground combat, and aquatic combat rules, as well as military grade weapons and vehicles, including mecha. It will also introduce the morale mechanic. Anything that has anything to do with massive military operations will be included there.

The Epsilon Dawn Covert Ops Rulebook will introduce covert operations rules involving deadly sniper and assassination rules, infiltration, counter-espionage, terrorism and counter-terrorism in the future. This will mostly involve corporations, but some anit-Sathar measures will also be included. I am putting these in their own rulebook because Delta Dawn already has enough to deal with and these subjects are enough to fill a whole other supplement. The skills, equipment, and covert ops rules are plenty to keep the ideas rolling out. The feel will still be focused on maintaining the Star Frontiers setting while adding this new aspect, as well as making it an integral part of Delta Dawn play. This is still in the planning stages as it is a more recent development.

The Traders & Freighters Rulebook breaks from the use of the Greek Alphabet for the title, but will still carry the "Zeta Dawn" masthead in small letters at the top to show that the procession hasn't ended or been interrupted. I think Traders & Freighters is a much catchier title than using the alphabetical title. Many already know about my Traders and Freighters concept, but let me cover it here.

Traders & Freighters was an idea I had when I heard from a player whose play group had built their own Star Frontiers campaign around developing a corporation and running its operations until it became a megacorporation. This intrigued me so much that I felt there was a need for such a supplement in the game, and for me, when I see that there is a need for something, I don't sit around waiting for others to develop it. So I asked him if he had plans to make a supplement for it and he said if he could find his notes, he might do an article on it. But I never heard back from him about it. In the meantime, I did the Buying and Selling in the Frontier article in Star Frontiersman #6 which focused on simple barter for goods and services, not yet getting ambitious. But after a couple months I started the Traders & Freighters supplement.

Traders & Freighters provides rules for running a corporation, playing a boardgame of corporate conquest in the Frontier and beyond, and for pretty much any business you wish to run or any freelance occupation you wish to partake in, such as space truckers and even pirates. The boardgame is playable apart from Star Frontiers, which makes the supplement's name appropriate. I have made sure that the theme is exciting, so much so that it remains to be my favorite concept.

The boardgame will be developed using Diplomacy and similar games as tutors. I started to get paranoid last year when someone was getting inspired to develop their own boardgame because they kept pressing Traders of Catan from the moment that they heard "traders" and "boardgame". It made me uncomfortable and I'm glad they didn't pursue their idea. It's rude to let yourself be inspired to develop something by someone else's idea instead of trusting that person will do well with it. There are so many ideas out there to develop. Get your own ideas; don't develop the same thing at the same time someone else is developing it. When you have an original thought, if you do, go with that and stop edging in on others. The corporate conquest boardgame aspect was my idea and my idea alone; don't take it from me.

The Star Law Campaign Book was my very first project over at starfrontiers.us. It will be the Eta Dawn supplement. It is another idea I have a close attachment to. It has slowly evolved over the past two years as my understanding of Star Law has evolved. But it will also include common local law enforcement operations and procedures, but will have the primary focus of introducing the player to Star Law from the academy to commencement to promotions and even executive offices. Everything you need to run a Star Law operation will be in there. In fact, many don't realize that the mini-adventure provided with the Basic rules is a Star Law adventure. They think they're just local security, but the Alpha Dawn set says clearly that it is strongly encouraged that players begin as Star Law Rangers. Why would they deviate from their own advice?

Star Law is deeply implanted in Star Frontiers. It seems that it was a primary component of the Alien Worlds setting planned by its creators. But that was to have a grittier tone, as Star Frontiers was marketed to families and thus made grit-light. The Alien Worlds setting seems to have been a guns blazing old west meets the new frontier-type setting where the Star Law Rangers hunted down the outlaws and brigand alien bands comming out from the Stars. This is the setting that will be given more attention in the Star Law campaign guide, while retaining a cleaner, incorruptable white-hat-wearing rider on a white horse premise of Star Frontiers. A setting both Marshall Dillon and the Lone Ranger would be proud of.

But the Star Law Campaign Book won't neglect the hallowed walls aspect of Star Law as a policing body, either. The ranks and divisions of Star Law will be well explained, and other concepts not having to do with a space western will be expanded. Besides this, equipment and equipment packages will be provided.

The MedLab Campaign Book, with the Theta Dawn masthead, is another project close to my heart. I had been considering introducing some kind of medical campaign, because I've been intrigued by the far future medical novels. Then I spotted the Gretl Grohn story in the Zebulon's Guide timeline. Unlike others, I was actually intrigued by the efforts of Gretl Grohn and the Medical Services Organization to stop the deadly blue plague that formed as blue welts.

So one night I was laying there studying and contemplating how that could be developed and I came up with the super advanced medical frigate called simply MedLab 1, and there would be other MedLabs. Each MedLab not only has a top notch medical crew attending to victims, but also has a search and rescue team, a hazardous environments team, and a Star Law garrison, all to help rescue people from any situation in the developing colonies.

After working out the purpose of the MedLab, I then planned the story as the backdrop of a set of modules I dubbed "MedLab" after the name of the vessel where I set Gretl Grohn as one of the doctors. One player could play Gretl or use their own medical character. The story base for the modules was that when the blue plague breaks out among the core worlds (Hargut, Pale, and Gollywog), MedLab 1 is forced to abandon the rim worlds to contain the plague that was threatening to wipe out the heart of the Frontier. The series would conclude with Gretl Grohn being awarded the position of Medical Services Organization Coordinator for her handling of the crisis.

The campaign book was a natural outgrowth from the modules idea. I still want to do those modules, but not before I finish the campaign book. In the Medlab book, I will be providing rules for fully stocked medical labs, surgery, medical emergency rescue teams, deadly rescue missions, emergency management, toxic effects, and lots of new equipment.

The Knight Hawks Campaign Book, in the Ion Dawn slot, will attempt to do what I think the original KH failed miserably to do: establish a space-based campaign setting. While the core rules of the Tactical Operations Manual will be wholly revised in the Alpha Dawn Ultimate Edition, the Campaign Book will be revamped and expanded for a campaign set in deep space with hard core spacers.

Like the sea sailors of old, spacers have developed their own space culture, way of speaking, and distinguishing themselves from "ground huggers". Being planetside is a foreign experience to them, and always an uncomfortable, if awkward, experience. The space lanes are all they know, and the beauty of the nebulae and lit up vector screens are what beckons them. Many are cursed by space atrophy, the modern scurvy, with STR and DEX penalties with ailments, and those who don't are those who keep themselves in "tiptop shape" through proper supplements and resistance exercises, bringing them STR and DEX bonuses and good health.

Besides the setting, it will also provide space walk rules, new ships and space stations with deck plans, ship repair facilities and expanded rules, and lots of equipment specific to space-based missions.

The Lambda 500 Sports and Racing Rulebook, once again deviating from the previous two formats by returning to the Greek alphabet sans "Dawn", and will come after the Explorer's Survival Guide (See below). It will simply expand on the Futuresports article, providing various sports settings and many Frontier games fully fleshed out with whole rules sets, diagrams, and rules for building a sports empire and running sports and racing campaigns. It will introduce the popularity mechanic and utilize the morale mechanic from Delta Dawn, which is appropriate, as several of the proposed Futuresports settings will rely upon Delta Dawn.

The Explorer's Survival Guide (Kappa Dawn) and the Zebulon's Guide to the Frontier Volumes will focus on exploring and expanding knowledge of the Star Frontiers universe. Not much to say here except that there will be lots of ways to expand your campaign through exploration of previously unexplored worlds and learning a whole lot about the known worlds, including maps, random world generator (care of Larry Moore), and lots of races, creatures, environmental and crash landing survival tips, exploration equipment, and culturally specific weapons and equipment

Thus concludes my plan for world domination and my keyboard diarrhea. I'm off to take my meds and get some sleep. Good night. Until next time...


I was watching Slamball on Cartoon Network when the idea of how sports would develop came to me. When you look at recent developments in sports, you will notice a greater emphasis on the drama of the sport. While this originally manifested itself as the traditional sports becoming more violent because of the lowering values of the players in the mid to late 90's (mostly due to steroid abuse), a growing trend in seeing more action-oriented sports has been developing.

Football is still big because it is already an extreme sport in some ways, but extreme sports of the kind I am thinking of is more along the lines of so-called Pro Wrestling. When you look around at the games that are beginning to develop, (though first starting with Pro Wrestling, the movement seemed to take off with American Gladiator and manifesting most recently with Slamball) you see that there is a growing interest in more dramatic sports. While the bloodthirsty cretins thrill off of the once illegal cage fighting, those with less bloodlust enjoy the more spectacular acrobatics and defiance of gravity.

With this in mind, I think the movement toward these kinds of sports is gaining momentum and may one day religate the previous sports to the analogs of history. While football is currently still the top sport, it may have to evolve in order to stay at the head of the pack, especially with sports like Pro Wrestling beginning to steal the limelight. Baseball is already on the decline, no longer able to keep up with modern media and the public's need for more excitement in an evermore desensitized age. Movies and television are most certainly responsible for this jaded age, and to keep up, sports must constantly grow more exciting to compete with the abundance of visual entertainment.

Of course, there is a point at which you can't make any of it more exciting without entirely loosing the point of the sport. Case in point is once again Pro Wrestling. In order to reach the extreme, pro wrestling could not simply keep it to pin holds, but going to brutality could not go unchecked. The compromise is a sport that has become more about acrobatics, endurance, and showmanship than about actually wrestling. They pull their punches, fall in such ways that no permanent damage is usually done, and practice all their moves through the week to make sure they don't hurt their opponent, who they're likely friends with off stage. Yes, they occasionally break bones and draw blood, but all for the show that draws the audience. Since when does it take ten seconds to set up a fighting move? But that is to give the opponent time to recover and prepare for the next action that is being clearly broadcast to the opponent before it happens. My point in identifying these things in pro wrestling is to show the direction that other sports could head in when reaching the extremes of the drama and spectacle. There is the point at which it is no longer a sport and simply a showy acrobatic display.

So how can the sport remain a sport while playing up the showmanship? By giving points for showmanship or style. It can encourage showmanship without making the sport fake, as each team will still be seeking to get more points. If the showmanship gets fewer points and only in association with attempts to accomplish the goal, then you can get a good mix of the two and maintain interest as well as keeping it sporty.

That said, this is the goal of the sports I will be presenting in my Futuresports article. They will take advantage of the advances of science and showmanship, creating a feel that it is in the future, being impossible to do or make money from by modern capabilities.

So what else will my article provide? Well, the article is a roleplaying game article, so it will involve how to incorporate sports into a campaign, whether as a one-shot or as the campaign focus. This could be tricky, but thankfully, there have been several movies and anime programs that have highlighted future sports and the real life drama that could affect them, as well as we have seen many examples of scandals surrounding those events, such as Tonya Harding sending her boyfriend to break her teammate, Nancy Kerrigan's knee in an act of despiration or the infamous throwing fights so common in the boxing industry. Besides those, the team could be famous for their adventures outside the sports arena, chasing down badguys or fighting against the dictatorship.

All in all it's shaping up to be a good article. The mechanics are going to be the trick. I think that a physical actions list, operating similar to d20's talents, may be the only way to express the showy aspect. Because if you just roll some dice for whether you hit a ball or not, it will be pretty boring and uneventful, but if you have a mechanic describing the actions, then it becomes more exciting. Like my robots article, this article is getting longer than I originally expected, but that's fine by me as long as I maintain interest. Besides this, I will also be doing several future sports images to accompany it. I've already drawn one which I like very much and I am already inspired to do more. I will also have to draw up some arena specks when I do the individual articles for each sport.

It's ironic that I should be the one to write such an article seeing as I've never been particularly interested in sports, especially not enough to remember player stats or hold a lengthy sports conversation. But like anyone, I like action, and to me, the best sports are all action all the time. Though I despise pro wrestling and especially cage fighting for the violence they have unleashed upon the world's youth. They say "Don't try this at home. Those performing these feats of daring are professionals." But the first thing that children do is try to immitate it. I've been DDT'd (my first experience with pro wrestling when I was 12) and I've seen and been affected by other wrestling moves demonstrated by children in public. For this reason I trained myself how to fight so I wouldn't be a victim again. But that's neither here nor there. The irony is in my introducing such mechanics into a game I would like to play.

All said, the article should be a good read and if just one play group should give its mechanics a try, then I will consider it a success.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Project List

I was previously known by another handle using my C. J. initials, but I changed it to give a fresh start. I have the unfortunate curse of having many, many ideas and only two hands to complete them with. It is the result of my Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) that I do not have enough focus to stick with one project and get it done quickly. Instead, I have to divert my attention by going from project to project, making little bits of progress here and there until something comes out. Typically, the projects that come out more frequently will be articles. Below are a list of my completed projects followed by a list of projects I am working on.

Here are the Star Frontiers projects I have completed to date:

Species/Gender Ability Modifiers - Star Frontiersman Issue #4-p14
Death Implant - Star Frontiersman Issue #4-p36
Mystery of Starshine - Star Frontiersman Issue #4-p36
Temple Raiders - Star Frontiersman Issue #4-p36
Usurper, the - Star Frontiersman Issue #4-p36
Starflight: Starfighters in Alpha Dawn - Star Frontiersman Issue #5-p9, with errata in the article Stellar Errata in Star Frontiersman #7-p49
Shades of Motion in 3-D - Star Frontiersman Issue #6-p23, with minor errata in the article Stellar Errata in Star Frontiersman #7-p49
Buying and Selling in the Frontier - Star Frontiersman Issue #6-p44
Interview with Steve Winter - Star Frontiersman Issue #7-p53
Tetrarchs, the - Star Frontiersman Issue #7-p35
Adventure Pets! - Star Frontiersman Issue #9-p41
Ifshnit Race - Star Frontiersman Issue #12-p42
Article Indexes - Star Frontiersman Issue #12-p72
Zethra Race - Will appear in Star Frontiersman Issue #13
Adventure Bots! - Will appear in Star Frontiersman Issue #13Interview with Jen Page - Will appear in Star Frontiersman Issue #13
Star Law Revisited - Will appear in Star Frontiersman Issue #13
Equipment - Will appear in Star Frontiersman Issue #13
Star Questions with Sage Advice to Dispel Confusion - ?

Besides these, I also have a number of renderings in the magazines.

After Adventure Pets! (which appeared an issue later), I got tired of the personal attacks, most particularly the cyberstalking from Corvus, so I took a long hiatus. Issue #12 marked my official return to Star Frontiers production.

Here are the Star Frontiers projects and their descriptions that I am working on. If you were at starfrontiers.us before my hiatus, you will recognize several of the book projects (Yes, I'm still working on them.) in no especially particular order. Think of them as my dream list. Anything without a colored note beside it is not currently under production and I would be glad to see others do them:

Adventure Bots! - [Post Production] An article on roleplaying robots of all kinds, even those without programmed personalities or emotions.
Star Questions with Sage Advice to Dispel Confusion - [Post Production] Collected and updated questions and answers on STAR FRONTIERS gaming by Penny Petticord, Carl Smith, Roger E. Moore, Ed Greenwood, Skip Williams, and others.
Star Law Academy - [Post Production] Compiling, revising, and expanding Star Law operations and procedures from the articles "Freeze! Star Law!" by Kim Eastland and Carriers in Star Law by Alex Curylo from Dragon Magazine.
Archetypes: Vrusk Star Law Ranger [Holding]
Futuresports - [Progressing Quickly] Including sports involving physical feats in your game.
Star Law - [Progressing Quickly]
Miscellaneous Equipment - [Finished] Flit board, Data recorder helmet, Rocketbike, Robot restrainer, Hybrid control suit.
Anthromech Masters - Introducing simple and balanced mecha mechanics into the game, as well as explaining how they work and how they function without "getting stuck in the mud".
Safeties Off - [Holding] As a second part of Futuresports, introducing vehicle/ship racing rules to the game.
Beast Riders - Discussing taming animals and presenting the Beast Rider archetype (or skill with subskills) and roleplaying as a tamer.
Character Origins - [Holding] A table of random origins to generate for characters. Generates hundreds of thousands of possibilities. Was originally plagued by others wanting to do their own origins article or claiming to have some part in the development of my project, but having none beyond a simple conversation about the essentially complete table. The other origin projects died, so I'm looking to revive mine.
Alien Worlds and New Frontiers - Discussing the probable setting originally intended by the Alien Worlds game that eventually resulted in Star Frontiers.
Cadrés and Cults: Pirates
Cadrés and Cults: Bounty Hunters
Cadrés and Cults: Mercenaries
Robotics Manufacturers
Dragons of the Frontier and Rim
Occupations for Alpha Dawn - [Holding] A list of occupations with occupational bonus subskills.
Spaceships in Alpha Dawn - [Holding] Spaceship construction rules for Alpha Dawn revising the Starflight article from Issue #5. Corrected and updated rules for Spaceship creation bridging Alpha Dawn and Knight Hawks.
Shades of Motion in 3-D Revised - [Holding] Corrected and expanded rules for 3-D and scaled movement and introduces rules for vectoring quickly and easily without rulers, but with accurate facing and path of travel.
More Dinosaurs!
Archetypes: Human Archivist
Archetypes: Ifshnit Free Trader
Spell Casting - [Holding] The core spell casting capability for R. K. Smoot's Fantasy Frontiers. I'm probably going to present it in the Starfrontiersman first.
Introducing Gadgets and Flaws - Porting the d20 Gadgets and Flaws system to Star Frontiers.
Psionics and Mentalists - [Holding] Revised psionics/mentalist rules introducing balance and playability for the Alpha Dawn rules.
Drivers and Pilots - [Holding] Under reconsideration. Rules for driving in Star Frontiers without mechanical training.
Humma Race
Osakar Race
Sessu Race
Refereeing Mystery Puzzles
Campaign Mechanics - [Progressing Quickly] Introducing specific mechanics tailored to your campaign.
New Robots - A slew of pre-made balanced robots for the game.
Tech Journal: Computers and Robots - [Holding] How Star Frontiers computers and robots work.
Two-Faction Gaming - [Holding] Rules for running a game of two factions.

MedLab 1: The Hargut Crisis - [Holding] For 1-8 beginning characters.
MedLab 1: The New Pale Dilemma - [Holding] For 1-8 intermediate characters.
MedLab 1: The Clarion Call - [Holding] For 1-8 advanced characters.
Ported Gamma Dawn
—Rapture of the Deep - A terrible menace from the sea is threatening villages all along the coast. Whole shoreline communities have been disappearing without a trace. What could be causing these horrible events, and more importantly, what can be done to put a stop to them. Is it some new terrifying monster from the depths? Or is there something more sinisterat work? Can you solve the mystery before it's to late? Travel deep beneath the waves to discover the answer.
—Famine in Far-go - Far-go is dying, the people are afraid, the people are wasting away...the crops are withering in the fieldYou are a group of young adventurers about to begin the sacred Rite of Adulthood. The last hope of survival for Far-Go rest with your party. On your journey to Knowald (Forest of Knowledge), you must search for clues to the origin of the mysterious plague. This quest may lead you into great danger...and great knowledge. As you travel through the savage wilderness, all you have are your companions, your wits, your strength...and your dreams!!!
—The Legion of Gold - All know that there is much to worry about in these difficult times, but the skies have grown darker in the past few weeks, as if an omen of destruction hangs overall. In the past several weeks there have been raids on several outlying towns of the Barony by mysterious golden marauders. Whether these creatures are robots, mutants, or men, none can be sure for reports are scarce. The monsters are rumored to have struck from nowhere, then vanished without a trace, leaving only destruction in their wake.
Ported D20 Future
—Foul Weather - From radiation and black holes to meteorites and cosmic rays, the threats of the cosmos easily trump those of even the harshest terrestrial wilderness. Two derelict spacecraft orbiting a planet on the fringe of known space pay silent homage to the fragility of human life and the raw, devastating power of space. For the past two years, the I.S.S. Beagle and End’s Run have orbited this planet, locked together in a grim dance of death. Can the heroes unlock the secret of their destruction without falling victim to the same fate?
—2001: A Space Odyssy (Rewritten) - Made to be more flexible with alternate scenarios and possibilities, as well as being able to vary the number of players from 1-6. For beginning characters.
—2010: Odyssy Two (Rewritten) - Ibid. For intermediate characters.
—3001: The Final Odyssy - Ibid. The conclusion of the series. For advanced characters.
—Blade Runner - For 1-4 advanced characters.
—Alien - A Gamma Dawn adventure for 1-6 beginning characters.
—Aliens - A Gamma Dawn adventure for 1-6 intermediate characters.
—Alien Outcast (Minor Rewrite of Alien3) - A Gamma Dawn adventure for 1-6 advanced characters.
—Alien Resurrection - For 1-6 advanced characters.


Alpha Dawn Core Rulebook - [Under Construction] Contains the core rules and the core setting with the core races and general Frontier information, base equipment, Base Frontier timeline, Common Frontier campaigns, and central occupations.
Beta Dawn Cybernetics Rulebook - [Progressing Quickly] Cybernetics/bionics rules, Robots, Computers, Interfaces, Gadgets, and Cybernetics campaigns
Gamma Dawn Deviations Rulebook - [Progressing Quickly] Mutation rules, [Under Construction]Mentalist rules, Horror campaigns, Insanity rules, Biotech, and Deviant campaigns
Delta Dawn Fleet Operations Rulebook - [Under Construction] Fleet combat rules, Military operations, Military hardware, Mecha, Military ranks, and Military campaigns.
Epsilon Dawn Infiltrators Rulebook - [Under Construction] Corporate espionage, Sathar counter-espionage, Counter-terrorism, Gadgets, Expanded hand/martial arts combat rules, and Espionage campaigns.
Zeta Dawn Traders and Freighters Rulebook [Under Construction] - Entrepreneurial venturing rules, Corporate conquest rules, Commercial ships, Corporations and mega-corporations, Freelance occupations, Piracy rules, Corporate timeline, and Entrepreneurial campaigns.
Eta Dawn Star Law Campaign Guide - [Under Construction] Star Law operations, Star Law ranks, Star Law procedures, Star Law timeline, and Star Law campaigns.
Theta Dawn MedLab Campaign Guide - [Under Construction] Emergency services, Rescue operations, Developing medicine, MedLab timeline, and Emergency service campaigns.
Iota Dawn Knight Hawks Campaign Guide - [Under Construction] Living in space, Acquiring and maintaining ships, Space occupations, Space station rules, Knight Hawks timeline, and Deep space campaigns.
Kappa Dawn Explorer’s Survival Guide - [Under Construction] Ice and Snow Environments, Aquatic Environments, Gaseous Environments, Deep Space, Survival info, Planet generator, Survival and exploration gear, Crashing on planets, Mapping, and Exploration campaigns.
Lambda 500 Sports and Racing Rulebook - [Under Construction] Rules for running sports and racing campaigns.
Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier, Volume 1, The Rim Coalition - Fochrik system, Capella system, Osak system, Osakar race, Humma race, Ifshnit race, the Grh’mr asteroid belt in the Fochrik system, new creatures, the Capellan Free Merchants, Mega-corporations, Humma tech, Osakar tech, Ifshnit tech, and Rim Coalition timline.
Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier, Volume. 2, Volturnus - Zebulon system, Sundown system, Belnefaer system, Scree Fron system, Mechanon system, Truane’s Star System, Dixon’s Star system, , the Mechanon, Other Volturnus races, new creatures, Mechanon tech,
Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier, Volume 3, The Lesser Morass
Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier, Volume 4, Yreva Nebula - Athor system, Araks system, Gruna Garu system, Yazirian race, Yazirian tech
Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier, Volume 5, Dral Space
Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier, Volume 6, Vrusk Space
Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier, Volume 7, White Light Nebula
Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier, Volume 8, The Greater Morass
Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier, Volume 9, The Vast Expanse
Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier, Volume 10, The Xagyg Dust Nebula
Western Frontiers - Old West core setting.

I have been considering publishing the above book projects under the FrontierSpace banner to support Bill Logan's endeavor, because I would like to be able to put my name out in the gaming community as someone who puts out quality purchased products.

A Place to Vent and Express My Ideas

Last year I learned not to work on my projects in a public forum. To do so draws undesirable attention. Whether you're busy pissing people off with always making suggestions or having ideas, or you acquire cyberstalkers (which I seem to be the master at anywhere I go), working on projects in a public forum is just a bad idea. So, here I am working on my projects in a place where everyone knows that this is my project and the ideas of others will be carefully gauged by me alone as to whether to include them or not and cyberstalkers will be blocked and those with unsatisfied complaints with how I do things on my project can work on their own project somewhere else. This is my project, not yours. Input is welcome, but attempts to control my project are not welcome.

If you are keenly interested in my projects or my opinions, then I am keenly interested in your input.

C. J. Williams