Sunday, July 24, 2016

Starphin Treaty Frigate 029 Deck

     It's another Monday, RocketFans, and we have a new deck for the Starphin-class Treaty Frigate ready to show off!  Before we get to that, I'm gratified to report that the Blue Max Studios blog has had it's most popular week ever!  Thanks for your interest, everybody, it means the world to me.

    But now we deckplan.
029 Deck:  Upper Turbolaser Capacitors
     Forward of the central lift we have the upper tuborlaser monitor room, which regulates the power flow from the hypermatter reactor below decks to the pair of massive capacitors on this deck.  On either side of the monitor room are two droid corrals that hold a pair astromechs apiece.  They have access to the port and starboard surge protector compartments, with are bathed in the orange glow from the capacitors.  The surge protectors help regulate the power levels from reactor to capacitor, and from capacitor to turbolaser.
     The central lift opens aft into a maintenance corridor that offers ladder access to the deck above and below.  The corridor is bisected by an open shaft that allows the power, collant and other utility pipes to run between the turbolaser support decks.  A retractable catwalk crosses the pit to the corridor beyond.  The after corridor opens into the port and starboard thermal regulator compartments, which is a fancy way to say the heatsinks and radiators just aft of the capacitors.  Each compartment has a monitor station and offers access to this deck's escape pods.  The escape pods each can hold a half-dozen crew, but it's rare that these upper decks are so populated.

     And now for an admission, RocketFans:  I was not happy with the 030 Deck I posted last week.  So, always the perfectionist, I brought the GIMP back out and modified it.  I am much more please with the results.  See for yourself:
New and improved!

      I mainly added some shading to give the map some depth, and I changed the colors around a bit.  the biggest change is omitting the orange on the hyperwave transceivers and adding the radiator piping aft.  There are also a pair of R1 operating on the deck now.  The blue one, R1-K5 or "Arcs" has had quite a career over the years.  We'll find out more about him later this week.

      Hope you all enjoy the maps!  If you do, and all the other articles you see here, consider making a small pledge to our Patreon.  Every bit helps me keep making maps, game supplements and other goodies for my RocketFans!

It'll be your good deed for the day!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Alternate Metaphysics Mechanics for Open D6 III: More Ideas

DEX + Blaster + Force Point
     Welcome back, RocketFans, to another in our series on Alternate Metaphysics Rules for Open D6.  Of course, it may seem like I'm spending an inordinate amount of time on examples and rules specific to Star Wars, but since the Metaphysics rules in Open D6 were an evolution of the SW rules for the Force, what can you expect?
     The last two posts on this topic have generated lots of observations and suggestions on how to take my basic idea (i.e.: ditch the Metaphysics Attribute, all of the Force Skills and Force Powers, and just use Force Points) and make it work more smoothly with what we've seen in past movies and game materials.  When going through all of the comments, I tried to give all the ideas a fair look but keep true to the central goals I have for making a new system in the first place.  To re-cap, those are:

  • To reduce/eliminate the "Linear Warrior, Quadratic Wizard" syndrome.  Force Users shouldn't be so powerful that they punish the other players for choosing normal Characters.
  • To reduce/eliminate the inevitable complexity bloat, so the game can be played with a minimum of book-flipping.  As I've said before, the genius of D6 is that it can be played with only the Difficulty Chart and the Standard Skill Chart.  I want to still do that with Force Users.
  • Account for what seems like Force use among non-Force sensitives like we see in the movies.  Because, especially in Episode VII, we see it all the time.
      That last point is especially evident in the Battle of Takodana in The Force Awakens.  Poe Dameron makes ten kills in like, fifteen seconds.  A double ace in fifteen seconds.  Beat that, Anakin!

    But I put the above points in order of priority - I really don't want Force Users to have more Attributes/Skills available than other Characters.  It slows the game down so much when you have to take into account all the special rules and tables for Force Powers.  Many of you suggested Force Powers without Skills, Skills without Powers and other permutations involving taking one level of complexity off of the system while still leaving Force users more complex overall than their non-sensitive counterparts.  In the end I decided I didn't want that.  I've taken for granted for thirty years of gaming  that magic users would have more power and complexity than fighters, and having the opportunity to use rules where that isn't the case is just too tempting to resist.  So, I decided against using any suggestions that involved Force users having more Attributes, Skills or Powers than other characters.  
Also DEX Blaster + Force Point
     But that doesn't mean I have it all figured out.  One of the most common concerns I saw in the comments dealt with the comparative rarity of Force Points in the RAW.  As I said in the second post on this topic, we would need to modify how Force Points are gained, spent, and regained in order to depend on Force Points as our primary mechanic.  One of the ideas I already mentioned was automatically regaining spent Force Points at the end of a session, unless the use of the Force Point would grant a Dark Side Point. We also briefly discussed making it easier to gain new Force Points.  For one thing, we may need to establish a way to buy Force Points with Character Points, but frankly I haven't figured that one out yet.  The most deal-breaking complaint about how my alternate system would work is that lightsaber duels would burn through Force Points every round until they ran out, so pretty much whomever had the most Force Points at the beginning of the duel would win. 

KNO + Willpower = Extra use of Force Points.
          After re-watching Episode VII (What? It was only the fourth time - I saw the original Star Wars that many times before I was six months old.) I was struck by the final duel between Kylo Ren and Finn/Rey.  It was a textbook example of Force users calling upon the Force during a fight to augment their abilities.  The obvious example is Rey, near the end of the fight when Kylo Ren offers to teach her and she puts the smack down on him.  But Ren calls upon the Dark Side several times in the fight, when he punches his bowcaster wound in order to increase his anger and suffering.  Anyway, this gave me the idea to make it possible to use the Force when out of Force Points.  But after talking to Debra, who has an intuitive grasp of Star Wars all my years of trivia-memorization can't match, we came up with a way to get through things like lightsaber duels without having to burn a Force Point every round which - let's be honest - would get old real fast.

     So, Force Points activate a skill combination, like lightsaber combat.  Just like in the current Force Mechanics, this skill may now be "kept up" until the end of the encounter.  You may use one Force Point per encounter for free.  After that, like if you want to use telekinesis, You have to make a Willpower roll at Difficult to use a second Force Point in the same encounter.  The Difficulty on the Willpower roll will increase with every additional Force Point You attempt to use.

     This would mean you could make multiple doubled Dice Pool rolls with the use of a single Force Point, and that may seem over-powered to some.  If this is the way we go, then Force Points will probably remain as difficult to gain as they are in the RAW, but still be regained at the end of a session.  Also, there's a lot of room to tweak this mechanic - Should you lose 1D off of your doubled Die Pool every round the boosted Skill is kept up? Or lose one pip per round?  If you fail your Willpower check, is the Force point still spent? Should there be a hard limit on how many times you can summon the Force this way per encounter? And it also has implications for Force Ghosts - perhaps by succeeding in Willpower rolls, a Force spirit could manifest after using their supply of Force Points?

Because Star Wars!
   I'm also interested in situations where using the Force is outside of a Player's control.  There seem to be instances, like the two pictured above, where the Character's don't seem to be using the Force, the Force seems to be using them. When Rey shot the Stormtrooper, for example, she first left the safety on, then dodged a blaster shot without trying while taking the safety off.  Then, her first shot went way wide, while the second hit dead on target.  This is fine as far as it goes, but I swear it looked more like the blaster was moving her arm than Rey was aiming the blaster.  And then there was the way she looked at the blaster after shooting the Stormtrooper, like it had a life of its own.  Its the exact look we see Han give his trusty DL-44 after shooting a Stormtrooper behind him without looking.  His arm jerked around seemingly without volition before the shot, and Han looks at the gun like it was alive afterward  What do you think?  Does the Force, like Luke asked in A New Hope, control your actions as well as obey your commands?  If so, how would we make a mechanic for that?  As always, leave your comments below or on G+.  

     Until next time, RocketFans, May the Force be with you!  


Monday, July 18, 2016

Starphin Map and a Modest Proposal

Had to finish the Bow so I could measure the decks...
   Happy Monday, RocketFans!  I've been contemplating all of the suggestions I've received over the last week having to do with our alternate Metaphysics mechanics and the ideas are slowly evolving.  Expect a new post on the topic Wednesday, maybe.  For today, I am happy to present the first completed deck of our capital starship, the  Starphin Treaty Frigate!

     This deck was fairly easy to do, as I already knew what I needed.  Situated just below the upper sensor dome, this deck would service that machinery, house the main communications antennae, and have coolth (not my word, okay?) pumps and tanks for the after radiators and heat sinks.  In addition, the upper ring of shield projectors are on this deck, a pair of shield generator nodes, and a pair of inertial compensators.  This was the best place for the ICs, in my opinion, as this tall fin would be likely to snap off the first time the Captain order flank speed without them.  But enough talk, deckplan below!
030 Deck
     This is not a deck with much human habitation.  In fact, outside of the insulated forward sensor substation and the after sensor room/pump house, the antennae and sensors would fry any organics in the maintenance spaces when the electronics are active.  This is a deck primarily for droids, and probably not regular R-series astromechs, either - upgraded R1s, with their reactor-drone casings, are possibly the only robots that can service the sensors and hyperwave antennae while they are in service.  For fun I used a classic design for the hyperwave transievers - except for the color and size, they are identical to the antenna mast on an Imperial Mk I Star Destroyer.  I went with a pair because I needed the lift tube to be on the centerline of the deck.  
     As you'll see in the next several maps, the machinery for the four turbo lasers on the decks under this one take up so much space that I've had to do some creative arranging to get everything to fit and still have space to move from one end of the deck to the other.  It would be simpler if I could just have two lift shafts, fore and aft, to reach all sections of the following decks, but the hanger spaces below make that impossible.

     For what is easily the largest mapping project I've ever attempted, I find myself running out of room easily... 

     This deckplan  turned out to be 15 tac squares wide and another 15 long, not counting the heat sink.  That's fairly large - and this is the smallest deck on the ship.  And there are forty-nine more.   Which brings up the ugly little question of how exactly I'm going to be able to publish this monster?  The PDF would have to be a couple of hundred pages, take about six months of work, and sell for at least fifty bucks to recoup even a fraction of my time and effort.  I mean, I enjoy drawing spaceships, obviously, but this is my job and I can't just work on unsalable projects and expect to get the bills paid.


     I have a Patreon account, and a handful of fans who support my work by pledging a dollar or two a month to see more content on this blog and to get access to my existing PDFs for no extra charge.  It occurs to me that through Patreon, I can get the kind of money I need to work on this project, and the Alternate Metaphysics book, and all the other big ships I want to map.  You, my dear RocketFans, can get all those goodies just by pledging a dollar or two a month.  It's good math; For the cost of a fifty-dollar book, which most of us couldn't justify buying, you could pledge a dollar and keep it up for over four years, in which time I will write a lot more than one book of plans. After all, in the last four years, I've written and published 42 books.   That a lot better deal. 

     If you look at my Patreon homepage, you'll see I currently get $60 a month in pledges.  I deeply, deeply appreciate every bit of support I get from my patrons.  In order to be able to give away the Starphin maps, the Metaphysics book and the other projects I would love to work on and don't have the time, I would need to reach a goal of about $200 a month.  If a hundred and forty people were to pledge a dollar a month, I'd be home free and you would all get free books.  We've been getting close to twice that in visitors a day since I began posting on D6 topics again, so I know it's possible.  

     So that's where we are, RocketFans.  I'll keep mapping and showing off the un-keyed deckplans on the blog for as long I can afford to.  If we hit $200 on Patreon, I'll release the full deckplans, maps, keys and stats and keep designing and mapping ships large and small, for as long as you want me too.  

    I'll even take requests.