Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New Project: The Pumpkin Suit's Handbook

This is a Pumpkin Suit.
New Project: The Pumpkin Suit's Handbook

          I know I've already got about three month's worth of new projects in the pipeline, but it's never too early to plan ahead for future releases, especially when you're putting together a whole gaming company solo.  As the title suggests, This new project is a resource for players getting into the world of Hard SF space travel.

What The Pumpkin Suit's Handbook is about

       Unlike soft SF, which draws a lot of it's spaceflight inspiration from modern naval tradition and a huge amount from WWII, Hard SF gets its impetus from the real worlds of physics and the historical precedents of NASA, Roscosmos, Jaxa, ESA, et al.  This is the world of hard evidence, gained through fifty years of manned space missions.  From Yuri Gagarin's risk-taking flight to answer whether or not human could survive in space at all, to the heroic efforts on the part of Gene Kranz's Tiger Team during Apollo 13, to the loss of two Space Shuttles and the success of the ISS, each mission into the black has given us the knowledge of what it would take to survive, function and thrive in the most hostile of environments, space.

        Thing is, unless you're addicted to documentaries, you may not know just what they do up there.

       For example, how does a Command Module execute an orbital rendezvous? What does it take to accomplish a space walk?  If there is a fire in free-fall, can you even see it?  For those of us gamers who really want to embrace the Hard SF experience, these are important questions.  The Pumpkin Suit's Handbook would be an attempt to answer them.

How would The Pumpkin Suit's Handbook be set up?

      This is all in the very early planning stages, so bear with me.  I'm currently thinking about dividing this guide into several chapters.  There would be a chapter on Player Characters which would give several rules options for making effective astronauts for the game, including Story Traits that account for personality.  Personality combinations are extremely important when planning a space mission, and every gamer knows that personality conflict can but an entire campaign at risk.

Just what do you roll for that?
       Another chapter would cover space procedures, such as the aforementioned orbital rendezvous and such.  These entries would explain the procedure, so the GM can give effective descriptions during play, and include rules for running the maneuver, with difficulties, consequences for failed Skill Checks and so on.

     There would also be a section on "Damage Control" which would give stats and descriptions of the many disasters that befall space travelers.  Things like debris strikes and decompression, patching the hull, fires, smoke, and so on.  These entries would of course have stats for the GM as well as recommendations for what Skill Checks should be performed.

     There should also be a Chapter about human factors; not just personality conflicts, but disease and illness, injury, and psychological problems having to do with isolation and the monotony of life in space.

Is The Pumpkin Suit's Handbook something you want?

    What do think RocketFans?  It this kind of supplement, an index of Hard SF elements in game play, something you are interested in.  One of the advantages of such a supplement would be that it is not setting specific; physics is physics, and any Hard SF campaign would benefit with a breakdown of just what's involved in the real world of space travel.

     Let me know what you think.


  1. As to disasters in space, don't forget the plumbing backing up. In micro gravity, its not just nasty, but dangerous and really ruins the life support.

    OK, I'd like to see it, but I wonder if I'm a really minority taste.

  2. (Shudder)...

    There is also the lovely adaptation phase to free fall that occurs in the first three days.

  3. The joys of space travel.

    While I'm not thrilled about the title, it's likely to be more of what I want than Dream Pod 9's Spacer's Handbook. Could be a fun book - for certain nerdy values of fun.

  4. "The Pumpkin Suit's Handbook" is probably not going to be the official title. It's supposed to evoke the venerable "Bluejacket's Manual", which has been the Navy bible for a century. The thing is, there aren't any real good nicknames for astronauts as recognizable as "pumpkin suit" and "Spacer's Handbook" is incredibly overused. Suggestions on a better title are absolutely welcome.

  5. I like the idea, and it would be an instant purchase :)
    How about a variation on "The Big Black Book"
    "Book of the Black" or something?

  6. I like "The Book of The Black" but it sounds too much like "Firefly" lingo, which is already its own game by Margaret Weiss Productions, so I wouldn't want to tangle with even a wiff of possible IP poaching.
    "Book of the Black Desert" could work, but it's just so general, as the RPG itself is "The Black Desert".

    I could use the setting's history to suggests a title, such as "The Destiny Foundation's Candidate Handbook" nicknamed "the Candy-Handy". It's awful I know, but memorable!

  7. You could use the Navy's Bluejacket's Manual as the basis and call it the Orangesuit's Manual. Then give it a subtitle like An Astronuat's Training Guide.

    Hope you and the family had a great Christmas and a happy New Year.

  8. Sounds right up my alley! I'll purchase a copy.


Questions, comments, criticisms? All non-Trolls welcome!