Monday, February 28, 2011

Whence Black Desert?

So I've been asked, what are the works of fiction that most inspired The Black Desert? Seemed like a good topic to me...

...The truth of the matter is, I can't site many works of science fiction that influenced the design of The Black Desert. SF has always been a big part of my entertainment, but unlike most people that work on the “Hard” side of the SF scale, I'm not generally annoyed by the “Soft” end. For me, fiction is fiction, and I like fantasy, SF, and...did I mention SF?

The Black Desert got it's start in 2007 or '08, when I first discovered Winchell Chung's Atomic Rockets website, and from there the Rocketpunk Manifesto. I had always been a fan of Star Wars, Star Trek and other softer SF and had almost always gamed in those types of settings. That being said, the idea of making spacecraft that could actually exist began to grow on me, especially since I was a fan of TSR's old Buck Rogers RPG. So I began to doodle some rockets and do some research. The earliest of these efforts was a recreation of the Rolling Stone from Heinlein's fiction, if I recall.

Yeah, this one.
At some later point, I stumbled upon that photograph of a Martian that had been going around the Internet. I loved that pic, veracity aside, and my mind immediately began to theorize how Martians could survive, would have evolved, and all that jazz. I was in school for Biology at the time; and was taking Organismal Bio and Mammology at the same time, so I was constantly getting ideas for the native Martains.  I also was interested in Primatology, and began to wonder what other sentient primates were like.

Between the two, rockets and Martians, I had enough Zeerust-y old Rocketpunk bubbling in the back of my mind that I did begin to flesh out an actual setting. I was thinking at the time of maybe writing some stories, or doing a webcomic (which I did do, briefly). The idea of making an entire universe was fun, albeit daunting, and I amused myself with the project in between work and classes. That right there is where is pretty much how The Black Desert got started.

There's much more too it, of course; after all, The Back Desert is a lot more that Rockets and Martians. I would have to say, once I decided to make a Hard SF setting, that most of my inspiration came from research on future tech and the like. Physycist Michio Kaku's TV series Sci-fi Science: The Physics of the Impossible was a big help, as was his other work. I studied videos, documentaries and other info from NASA on current space technology, especially the ISS. Info from the Mars Society help flesh out a lot of the ideas for Mars (obviously) as well as details for the Conestoga Rover. The Destiny Foundation was inspired by the efforts of Bigelow Aerospace and Space X; two space companies founded by billionaires that got rich just to develop space access. Personally, I think the influence of this kind of filthy-rich idealist hasn't been exploited enough in Hard SF, which is a shame.
My ideas for AI come from my own studies of the Human brain and neurology, once I discovered the unlikelyhood of consciousness evolving from current computer technology. The Dysonites and Trans-humans in general were simply products of wanting to do post-singularity fiction without making all the characters totally outre. The ideas for fabricators and their economic impact comes from the work of the Rep-Rap people and logical extrapolation.
The settings background history is pretty much stolen from the Interbellum period of the early 20th century. The American Expatriate movement, with Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stein, et al. Is an exciting time from a social standpoint, and it's easy to make a future analog of the original Art Decco Rocketpunk aesthetic, once you scrape off the zeerust. A lot of the details are provided by a mixture of logic and lack of faith in human nature.

As for actual fiction, the idea of Brazil becoming one of the world powers I got from Heinlein, as well as a general love for Hard (if dated) SF. My original concepts for virtual worlds and their uses came from William Gibson. Surprisingly, not from his Sprawl series; from his anthology Burning Chrome and the Virtual Light series. I also did a lot of looking at the open-source universe on the web, Orion's Arm, which is Post-post-post-singularity SF. The sad thing is, there is not a lot of Hard SF available out there; most of the classics aren't sold in the popular stores anymore, and there are no used bookstores anywhere near where I live. I could order more books online, but at this point, I really don't have the time to read them!

While I'm not above stealing borrowing ideas from anywhere, these are the influences and inspirations that most easily come to mind. Hope you enjoy the links!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a PDF to finish! See you tomorrow, RocketFans!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ships of the Galaxy March Reveal:

         Presenting, the Starwell- Tanker!
         That's right, this is a twist on the ubiquitous "light freighter" common to Sci-Fi games.  It will be on sale Tuesday, and we will be doing another Spacecraft Spotlight showing what you can do with one.
         Now for the eye-candy.  See you Monday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Since Somebody Asked...Martian Terraforming

Conestoga: The Martian SUV
         I got an email from one of our biggest fans, Trey Palmer; known on the forums as "Pilgrim"  it was one of those general questions about a subject I've been developing for the game for a couple of years now, so I decided to share it with the world.  Or at least you guys:

           Big dumb question - what method are you choosing for Martian terraforming?   Did folks roof the Valle Marineris to create a large base of operations?   Or just build domes and start building solettas?
         Just curious."

         Whenever an email starts with the phrase "Big dumb question" I know that I will be getting an entire post out of it...

         Anyway, the early Martian colonists built automated factories that's only product are more automated factories and a big load of carbon monoxide.  "These auto-fac greenhouses" have been belching CO into Mars' atmosphere for a century as of 2210.  The increase in atmosphereic pressure has made the water ice in the Martian tundra liquefy and fill the Boreal basin.  The temp has risen naturally to about antarctic levels at the poles.  Since the Martian noon-time temp already gets into the eighties Fahrenheit, the Tropic Zone usually maintains a temp in the 30s and 40s at night, thanks to the thicker atmo.  Sun reflection sats are generally directed at the Boreal Coastal Zone, which not only raises the temp to something a human can tolerate without heroic measures, it makes for a good breeding ground for plant life.
Mars in 2210; Diemos in foreground.

          All of this was Phase One.  If the majority of AI that deserted the Great War hadn't chosen to settle on Mars, it never would have reached fruition.  It took AI patience, perspective, and lack of political douche-baggery to see the project through.  Why would they care?  Because these are the AI that decided they liked living in a universe that had people in it and they had calculated a statistical likelihood that Terra's biosphere and human population would be destroyed by the war.  They were half-right, but the upshot is that these AI made preserving the Human race - and making an environment they can thrive in - a high priority.

          The other practical upshot is that the greenhouse gas technique attracted the attention of the Martian natives.  The concept of pollution was unknown to their culture; their society and "technology" evolved along lines as different as their biology.  The fact that Humans could use waste to bring their planet back to life made the natives if not friendly to the Terran settlers, at least allied and helpful.  Of course there are hardliners that don't want to see Mars green and blue, because no society is unanimous and, let's face it, conflict with Martian natives is cool.

          Anyway, Phase Two of the terraforming project is the introduction of plant life that will produce oxygen.  This requires biomass - a lot of it.  The Martian natives can alter genetic codes as easily as we alter programs, so their cooperation provides a major shortcut; it will only take centuries instead of millennia.  In order to secure enough bio-diversity to make a truly independent ecosystem, Mars needs Terran species.  The natives are confidant that they can alter the native Terran species enough to survive in Mars' current conditions, as well as "program" these species to evolve in pace with the projected changes in the Martian biosphere.  In exchange for Terra's support of the terraforming project, Mars is trading that same native know-how to adapt Terran species to the new conditions of Terra's post-nuclear biosphere.  In order to insure that there would still be a Terra long enough to see this project through, Mars brokered the peace treaty that officially ended the Great War and created a balance of power that will hopefully remain stable long enough to insure the survival of H. sapiens into the future.

An early concept map of Mars showing trade routes and cities.
          So yes, there are underground and domed outposts strung along the cost of the Boreal Sea, and some built in lava tubes on the Tharsis plateau.  Valles Marinaris has a scientific research station that mainly deals with the natives, since their civilization is built into the walls of the chasm near it's base.  This area is the only known way into the native Martians' habitats.  These settlements are linked by sea and the air; the Barsoom Airships are one of these links.

And that RocketFans, is the story of Martian terraforming as well as the origin of the modern Black Desert.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

L5 Trailer Out!

         I have a family thing to go to today anyway, so my time is limited.  Enjoy instead this teaser trailer for the upcoming L5 web-miniseries!  See you tomorrow, RocketFans!

By the way...I know some people have trouble leaving comments because they are blocked at work, have compatibility issues, or what have you.  You can still leave questions, comments and criticisms for us by email at  I will transcribe these emails into the comment thread of the post they relate to as long as they are properly marked.  This means that you tell where they go; I don't guess.

Were also on Facebook and Twitter.  Please like and follow us.  Please.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Space Combat in the Black Desert VI: Developing the Missile Craft

          Thanks to the recent exposure, I seem to have a good number of new visitors to the site!  Welcome, thanks for coming, and feel free to comment and stuff.

          I've been asked on a couple of forums about developing some of the combat spacecraft that will appear in The Black Desert, mainly by folks who are looking for something to add to other systems.  Fair enough; it's not like the BD Core Book is out or anything.  However, one of the interesting things about developing Hard SF spacecraft is that the designs absolutely cannot be done in a vacuum (no pun intended).   What I mean by that kinda goes into the nature of aerospace design, the back story of the setting and the constraints of the setting's technology.

          Case in point:  The Black Desert itself.  The term "Black Desert" in the game itself refers to the area of space between Terra and Mars where several asteroid colonies have been established in a pair of cycling orbits between the two planets.  These Aldrin Cyclers have six "nodes" apiece, spaced evenly around the orbits.  Each node has anywhere from four to a dozen asteroids clustered within a quarter-million miles of one another.  These asteroids range in size from massive hollowed-out vaults containing small O'Neil cylinders to tiny balls of ice containing the 23rd century equivalent of a gas station (download the first issue of D6 Magazine for an article about these). 

         Since we're talking about Hard SF here, distance and delta-v are the controlling factors as to how long it takes to travel from point A to B.  It takes single node on the cyclers thirty months to make a round trip between the Terra and Mars.  Since there are six nodes per orbit, that means the planets are visited by a new node every five months.  The nodes will have lots of mineral goodies to trade in exchange for food, luxuries etc, and these visiting asteroids have become an important part of Terra's and Mars' economies.  And where there is wealth and people exploiting it, there is a military presence as well.

         This is were are our Space Forces come into play.  Terran forces need to be able to respond to hot spots and conflicts faster than once every two and a half years, so they have to have something that can travel these ridiculously long distances in a reasonable amount of time.  They also have to get their personnel to their destination in one piece, with adequate air and food, and somehow prevent them from cooking in the harsh stellar radiation. 

        Enter the IPV;  a type of spacecraft that can make a one-way trip to Mars in about ten weeks, has plasma sails that can ride the solar winds without using propellant and, as a bonus, protect the crew from that very same radiation.  This type of craft is The Black Desert's answer to the distance, time and radiation problems combined.  I'm fairly proud of it.  In the article I've linked to above, I've outlined two broad types of IPVs, the Missile craft and the Strategic Craft.  In the last post in this series, I outlined what you can do with a Strategic Craft; namely the Hard SF version of an old-fashioned dogfight between carriers and Attack Wings.  The Missile Craft was described as smaller, more common (i.e. cheaper) and having a mission that more equates to blockading ports and laying siege to a fort. 

         This is the ship that we will be developing for you gamers out there.
         Now in order to do that, we will have to take into account lots of science-y stuff, like the above mentioned distance and delta-v factors, as well as tactical issues such as deployment, response time, and mission readiness, and the all-important political factors of what one can do with these resources and their effectiveness in the ever-changing face of warfare.

          Obviously, this is going to take more than one post.  So stay tuned for more posts on the subject between now and May, when this Missile Craft will be available for sale!  With deck plans and stuff!

          Also, I am working on the next entry in the Ships of the Galaxy series, which will be on sale Monday.  Stupid 28 day February...

           Anyway, see you all tomorrow, RocketFans!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spacecraft Spotlight #2: Tiantang de Gong-Class Station

Tiantang de Gong-class Station
The Zhang Qing-class Orbital Cutter is the backbone of the Chinese Alliance's new "One Gun Navy". These spartan vessels, being incapable of atmospheric reentry, must be resupplied and crewed in orbit. In order to facilitate this, the Alliance has created a handful of replenishment stations to service their spacecraft. These are the Tiantang de Gong-class space stations.

The Tiantang de Gong (Heavenly Bow) stations are nearly as no-frills in their construction as the cutters they are meant to service. Consisting of a central core with a cargo airlock on one end and an avionics boom on the other, the Tiantangs are ringed with a set of four pressurized trusses around the midsection that end in docking airlocks. The main cargo airlock is used to dock the enormous cargo drones sent into orbit for resupply missions. These drones have space in the nose for passengers, and this is the usual manner for sending new crews into space.
A fully occupied station.
The docking trusses allow up to four Zhang Qings to use the station at once. Because the stations are radially symmetrical, the Tiantang de Gongs can be spun for artificial gravity. Usually, however, the stations are left without spin to facilitate the transfer of heavy cargo. Supplies such as propellant and lithium for the cutter's radiators are transferred externally, with the assistance of cargo arms that are mounted two to a truss. The crews' food and life support supplies are transferred internally via the stations cargo lock and then through the internal Cargo Bay and the docking trusses. Each truss also has two pair of radiators. These radiators are sufficient not only for the station's need, but can be used to dissipate the waste heat from the docked craft as well.
The Tiantang de Gong stations are powered by nano-batteries stored in the upper section of the central core. The batteries are recharged via the fusion reactors of the docked cutters during cargo transfers, making for an efficiently symbiotic relationship. Cargo transfers can take in upwards of twelve to twenty- four hours, with an average of six hours per Zhang Qing serviced. During these transfers, all ships are required to remain docked to the station.

The deckplans for the Zhang Qing can be used for the interior of the Tiantang de Gong. The Cockpit is located in the upper deck, with the floor toward the avionics boom. The Habitat Deck for the station will have the Lavatory moved to the compartment that houses the Atmosphere Tanks. The galley is moved to the Mess compartment's area, and the station's larger Mess compartment is in the section of the Cargo/Supply Room closest to the Gym alcove. The Gym alcove itself is missing in the station. The additional empty spaces on the Habitat Deck are used for the airlocks to the docking trusses. There are an additional four free fall berths in these alcoves, for the temporary use of replacement crews. The cargo bay, which will be in between the Airlock Deck and Habitat Deck, is featureless save for the supplies stored within it. The Airlock Deck for the stations lack spacesuits; instead these compartments contain six emergency rescue balls that can be used to move trapped crew members.

The Tiantang's Habitat Deck

The Tiantang de Gong space stations only offer their guest one luxury that the Zhang Qing cutters do not: company. During the course of cargo transfers, duty rosters are set up so that one crew is on station in their ship, one is moving cargo, and two are off duty. This gives each crew a twelve hour window where they can socialize with the crew of another craft, and any additional personnel that have been sent up as replacements. Seeing as how these cargo missions occur once a month during an average six-month deployment, The opportunity to rest in a compartment that is not on one's ship, and talk to people that one does not see every day is considered a luxury indeed. The most common disciplinary punishment used aboard the Zhang Qings is the restriction of off duty time spent in the Tiantang de Gong stations.
The amenities of the station are less appreciated by the replacement crew's coming aboard.  These fresh crews must tolerate crowded conditions, even less privacy than they will have aboard their Zhang Qings and are most likely enjoying the nausea that accompanies most people their first days in space. In addition is the depressing knowledge that at the end of their tours, these tiny stations will feel like the height of luxury. 

The Tiantang de Gong space stations have been released in open-source versions by the Chinese Alliance. This means that GMs can use the station design for virtually any small scale orbital facility around Terra, Mars or Luna. Some options include emergency way stations for damaged craft, laboratories and, with the addition of a pair of Conestoga rovers (minus their drive trains) on each docking truss, as orbital hotels or miniature colonies. Long term occupation will require either frequent resupply from the mother planet, or the addition of greenhouses and a reactor for power.

Tiantang de Gong-class Orbital Space Station
Craft: Zhang Qing-class Ordital Cutter
Type: Light Space Station
Length: 50 meters (diameter with trusses, core 6 meters)
Skill: Spacecraft Operation; Tiantang de Gong
Crew: none (transients only)
Passengers: up to 8
Cargo Capacity: 84 metric tons
Safety Threshold: 5
Consumables: 512 crew days (with cargo drone attached)
Fusion Power? No
Acceleration: none (stationary)
Delta V: none (stationary)
Hull Strength: 2D
Damage Range: 6
Avionics: +2D

Friday, February 18, 2011

You Know You're the Real Thing When...

         When I was doing my clinicals as part of Paramedic training, one of the old veterans, a guy with 30+ years behind the wheel, told me, "Son, it don't matter what kind of license the state gives you.  That just means you're trained.  You ain't a Medic until another Medic say you are."  So it was a big day for me, when leaving the ER after a particularly nauseating call (like, gangrene in August nausiating)  That same old lag said to me, "Son, you can ride with me anytime."

          That kind of recognition from an old pro in your chosen vocation is worth everything; it lets you know that you're the real thing.  I received that level of praise recently when Winchell Chung, the man behind one of my favorite websites, Atomic Rockets, dropped me a line and said that he loved my work and was gratified that I put the info he put together on line to good use.  Hard science fiction isn't just about telling a good story; it about respecting physics and using the laws of nature to entertain and inspire your audience.  In other words, you can't fake it very well; you have to know what you're talking about.  To be acknowledged by someone who makes it their business teach others that information is huge for me.

         I also got some recognition on the artistic side recently:  A professional artist by the name of Jason Adams sent me a query about doing some work for Blue Max Studios.  He said he liked out stuff and his email gave every indication that he assumed that the Studio was a fully staffed company instead of a one-man operation.  I hated to disabuse him, but at the same time it was very flattering that my efforts are as professional looking as I try to make them.  He has a website, by the way,, that shows his work.  Check him out.

          Anyway, I will endeavor to have the Zhang Qing's supplemental content ready by Monday.  I'll see you then, RocketFans!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Zhang Qing Officially on Sale!

         Yay!  It's another month finished here at the Studio, and once again I get to take a day and not worry about spelling or grammar.  I is happy!  Actually, I'm going to be playing Superdad all day, as all three of my kids have pink eye at the moment.  And attitudes.  Oh well...

          Anyway, look for some free content for the Zhang Qing right here by Friday or Monday at the latest.  After that, I hope to get some artwork for the next Starships of the Galaxy supplement ready to unveil.  And remember, the first issue of the D6 Magazine is out, and my article therein is full of info on the Conestoga rover.  Did I mention it's free?

          Other than that, RocketFans, I got nothing.  I'm getting some rest.  See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One More Day...Again...

          This is going to be a short post, as I still have to finish proofreading and the final layout on the Znang Qing.  It will go live at midnight tonight, and I will be presenting some free content for the spacecraft by Friday.  It worked out for the Monarch pretty well, so I decided to keep the trend up with the Ships of the Black Desert.  Anyway, I'll see you tomorrow, RocketFans!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Open D6 Magazine #1 !

          It's finally here!  The first issue of the new OpenD6 Magazine is finally live on the Internet!  It includes interviews, editorials, and articles on OpenD6 gaming.  As I hinted at in this blog's very first post, I do indeed have an article in this magazine.  It outlines one of the types of asteroid settlements one may find in The Black Desert, and features the use of Conestoga-rover!  I've had request for maps of a Conestoga settlement, so here you are, free for the downloading!

            I'd also like to thank all of you who have helped make Blue Max Studios the success that it has become by buying our stuff.  I appreciate the support.  I promise that if you keep buying it, I'll keep making it!
            I did also have one of the RocketFans, Strannik, (You know, Strannik, the only person who seems to comment?) ask how he could help get the word out about the Studio and what we do here.  The best way I know of is to tell your friends about us.  On forums, at game tables; word of mouth is really the best advertising there is.  If you've bought one of our products and really like it, you can write a review on DriveThruRPG telling others.  I've gotten several great reviews in the past and they have certainly helped keep me motivated, if nothing else.

           Anyway, I don't have much else for you today, folks; that illness swept through the house, I got it yesterday, my wife missed work today, so we're all pretty gross in here right now.  Hopefully, we will all be better by Monday, at which time I will certainly not be writing a post.  I won't be enjoying myself too much either; I've a EEG, a CT and a full upper- and lower- extremity neurological test scheduled that day.  Yay....

          But I will see you Tuesday.  Happy Valentine's RocketFans!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Infinate Battle Map III: LInks

         Don't have much of a post for you today, RocketFans, as my daughter had a fever last night.  She's old enough to take care of herself with only a few supplemental hugs; it was keeping the toddler boys from romping on her little prone, aching body that was the trick...

         I was going to make a review of a couple of map making/virtual table-top websites I was recommended online, but I haven't had a chance to yet.  Being a Linux user with now programming experience means that sometimes it takes me an extra long time to get new programs to work.  I will post some links for you though; that way you can cruise the sites and form you own opinions.

          RPGTools: This one was at the top of most everyone's list.  Looks awesome.

          OpenRPG: There is so much stuff on this sight, I hardly know where to begin...

          And last but not least, here is a YouTube tutorial on how to set up the free program GIMP to look more like Photoshop, if you're like me and are used to Photoshop but either can't afford it or would rather not spend that kind of money.

         That's all I got this morning RocketFans,  Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go back to bed...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Infinite Battle Map II: Bring out the GIMP

         I reposted yesterday's topic on a few forums (link's are below and to the right) and got some good responses.  Apparently, many gamers are making the switch to computer supported map projections for their games.  While most gamers admit that using computer assistance takes a certain financial investment and a good bit of preparation, they love the results and would never go back.  Projectors are being used in home games, con tournaments, gaming stores, and pretty much anywhere else that gamers want to set up  and not have to haul a crate of minis.
         There are some free programs out there that allow one to use battle maps via the computer that I've heard several fellow GMs rave about.  I haven't had a chance to check these out yet, but when I do I'll let you all know what I think.
         As for using Photoshop, unless you already own this rather expensive program, it's probably not worth the investment just for gaming.  However, there is a free program called GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) that can do things that Photoshop can't.  I've used GIMP for my products since the introduction of the Barsoom-Airship and have been very pleased with the results.  The user interface, however, is not really conducive to gaming needs.  That being said, there is an add on to the program, GIMPshop, that is supposed to give GIMP a user interface that is similar to Photoshop's set up.  I've decided, in the spirit of providing my RocketFans with every tool they need to succeed, to download it myself and see if it will work.  If I like what I see, I'll do a tutorial series on map manipulation in GIMPshop for those who are interested.

         That's about all I've got today, RocketFans, so now I'm gonna get some work done on the Zhang Qing and see you tomorrow!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Infinite Battle Map?

         It's another week of blogging, RocketFans, and I have a question for you (for a change). 

         When I first started researching how to make professional looking battle maps on the Ye Olde Internet, I came across this post on the Geek Six website.  Now I didn't really find the techniques mentioned all that useful for the kind of look I was going for (don't get me wrong, the maps shown on the site looked great) I was intrigued by one thing:  The idea of using a projector to put the battle map up on screen.  Minis were simply Photoshop layers that could be moved.  Sections of the map could be blacked out at will.  Explosions, puddles and other effects could be added easily and stay where they're put - and thanks to the opacity slider, they could even be transparent so the map underneath isn't obscured.  It sounded good to me.

       The other day, as I was planning out March's deck plans, It occurred to me that using a projector and Photoshop to display Battle Maps may have another potential benefit.  Scott McCloud, who wrote perhaps the definitive books on Comics as an art form, suggested the potential of using computer displays for that medium is like having an "infinite canvas" which needs no page breaks to interrupt the flow of the story.  This got me thinking...if one used a projector and Photoshop to display a battle map, theoretically that battle map could be as large as you wanted it.  You could map a capital ship in one-inch scale and be able to display it without page breaks.  Heck, It didn't even have to be one-inch scale, because the resolution on the Photoshop coupled with the magnification of the projector will allow the actual map document to be smaller.

       Theoretically, you could map a Star Destroyer.

      What I would like to know, my dear RocketFans, is whether or not any of you have used a computer and projector for your battle maps before, and if so, how did it work out?  Did you enjoy it, or was it more trouble than it's worth.  Fresh cookies for any comments!

      That's all for today, folks.  Enjoy, and I'll see you tomorrow!   

Friday, February 4, 2011

February's Ship of the Black Desert...

          Aaaand we're back!

          I about burned myself out getting yesterday's special up an running, so please bear with me today.  I'm not going to say much about this month's edition of the Ships of the Black Desert series, because I'm still worn out from all the goings on this week and have a ton more chores to do today  So here she is, The Zhang Qing- orbital patrol cutter, one of the only rockets the beleaguered Chinese Hegemony can still field.  Enjoy, RocketFans, and I'll see you Monday!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spacecraft Spotlight #1: The MaCO

         And here we are RocketFans, for the first installment of Spacecraft Spotlight! This month's article features free content for the Monarch-class Courier.
The MaCO

         The MaCO is the personal spacecraft of a Bothan slicer known only as "Cinnamon"  all records of her real identity have long since disappeared.  Cinnamon sells her services to the highest bidder.  She has been hired to hack corporate mainframes, divert military supply convoys and steal or erase sensitive data.  Cinnamon is politically amoral; prior to the Battle of Endor she helped the Alliance steal Imperial data on military troop movements, and afterworld she has done the same for the Imperial Remnant against the New Republic.

         The MaCO itself is one of the things that makes Cinnamon unique in the galactic underworld.  The MaCO (short for Master Control Override) is a modified Monarch-class Courier ship.  The most obvious modification is the addition of an after-market turret on the forward end of the ships dorsal blister.  The interior changes, however are much more extensive.  The Cockpit has been re-designed to be used by a pair of R3 series Astromechs; the seats have been removed and the flight control yokes have been replaced by droid interface sockets.  The rest of the lower deck is relatively intact, including the flight crew cabins and other amenities. Cinnamon often employs bodyguards and these organics use the accomadations on the lower deck.
          The MaCO's upper deck is much more extensively modified.  The Conference Room in the bow has been refitted as Cinnamon's personal quarters.  The Escape Pod Vestibule has been gutted and fitted out with the ship's life support machinery.  The six Executive Cabins have been filled with high speed computers that Cinnamon uses to ply her illicit trade with the help of another pair of modified R3s.

           The Dorsal Blister on the MaCO houses the ship's weapons systems.  The laser turret is mostly a distraction; it's under powered and designed to keep attackers busy while the ship's main weapons does it's work.  The MaCO's true armament is a high powered Comm array housed in the rest of the Blister.  The Comm can punch through shields with ease.  Once it has established a remote link with it's target, the MaCO's super-computers download a virus into the attacking vessel's computer systems.  This virus takes the target ship's shields and other essential systems off-line, allowing Cinnamon to finish off her prey at her leisure or simply to escape.

            Game Masters can use Cinnamon and the MaCO in a variety of ways. A group of low level PCs can be hired muscle for Cinnamon on one of her missions.  mid- to high-level PCs may want to hire her for some purpose that requires a top-notch slicer.  If the PC ever cross the Bothan or foul one of her schemes, she can make their lives very difficult indeed by erasing financial data, planting false warrants against them, or even outright identity theft.

Star Wars: The Role-Playing Game 2nd Edition stats

Type: Bothan Slicer
Blaster 5D+1, Dodge 5D
Streetwise 6D
Sensors 3D+2
Bargain 4D+2, Con 6D+2
Stamina 2D+2
Computer Programing/Repair 7D, Droid Programing 5D, Droid Repair 5D, Security 6D+1
Move: 10
Size: 1.3 meters
Equipment: Blaster (Dmg 3D), Comlink, Datapad
The  Master Control Override
Craft: Modified Trans-Tech CPT-12 Monarch-class Courier
Type: Executive Courier
Scale: Starfighter
Length: 22.5 meters
Skill: Space Transports
Crew: Up to 4 (skeleton 2)
Crew Skill: Droid Pilots (3D+1)
Passengers: Up 5
Cargo Capacity: 5 metric tons
Consumables: One month
Hyperdrive: x1
Hyperdrive Backup: x10
Nav Computer: Yes
Maneuverability: 2D
Space: 7
Atmosphere: 350; 1000 kph
Hull: 3D
Shields: 2D
Passive: 10/0D
Scan: 25/1D
Search: 40/2D
Focus: 2/3D
Double Light Laser Cannon (fire-linked)
Fire arc: Turret
Skill: Starship Gunnery
Fire Control: 1D
Space Range: 1-3/12/25
Atmosphere Range: 100-300m/ 1.2km/2.5km
Damage: 3D
Computer Virus
Fire Control: 8D
Effect: Upon a successful attack, the target vessel's computers shut down. The target ship's shields drop and it cannot take any actions for 2D rounds. A Very Difficult Computer Programing/Repair check can restore the target ship's systems.
Cost: Not available for sale

Star Wars: Saga Edition Stats

Cinnamon”                                                                                                            CL6
Medium Bothan scoundrel 6
Destiny 1; Force 2; Dark Side 1
Init +10; Senses Perception +9
Languages Basic, Bothese
Defenses: Ref 19 (Flat-footed 18); Fort 16; Will 20
hp 39; Threshold 16
Speed 6 squares
Melee Unarmed +2 (1d4+2)
Ranged Blaster +8 (3D6+1)
Base Atk +4
Atk Options Precise Shot
Special Actions Gimmick, Master Slicer, Trace
Abilities Str 8; Dex 14; Con 10; Int 15; Wis 12; Cha 14
Talents Gimmick, Master Slicer, Trace
Feats Dodge, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Skill Focus (Gather Information, Use Computer), Toughness, Weapon Proficiency (pistol, Simple weapons)
Skills Deception +10, Gather Information +15, Initiative +10, Perception +9, Persuasion + 10, Use Computer +15
Possessions Blaster pistol, comlink, portable computer, security kit

Master Control Override                                                                                                CL8
Trans-Tech Monarch-class Courier                       
Colossal space transport
Int -3 Senses Perception +5
Defense Ref +6 (flat-footed 12); Fort 22; +11 armor
hp 120 DR 15; SR 25; Threshold 72
Speed fly 16 squares (max. velocity 1000 km/h), fly 4 squares (starship scales)
Fighting Space 12x12 or 1 square (starship scale); Cover total
Base Atk +0; Grp +32
Abilities Str 34, Dex 14, Con -, Int 14
Skills Initiative -3, Mechanics +5, Perception +5, Pilot -3
Crew 4 (droids); Passengers 5
Cargo 5 tons; Consumables 1 month; Carried Craft none
Hyperdrive x1 (backup x10), navicomputer
Availability Illegal; Cost Not available for sale

Light laser cannon (1 gunner)
Atk +5; Damage 3d10x2

Computer Virus
Atk Use Computer +25 (or character's Use Computer skill +10) vs. DC 30
Damage special: Upon a successful attack, the target vessels computers shut down. The target ship's shields drop and it cannot take any actions for 2d6 rounds. A DC 30 Use Computer check can restore the target ship's systems.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Monarch Officially on Sale!

          Sorry about the lack of posting yesterday, RocketFans, but I had numerous family obligations and the rest of my time was spent finalizing the PDF and getting it ready for sale.  That's right; It's the first of the month, and the Monarch-class Courier is now available for sale.  As promised, at the end of the this post will be the Star Wars: Saga Edition stats for the ship.
          Briefly, I'd like to go over what you can expect for the rest of the week.  I'm going to the neurologist tomorrow, so I don't expect to be able to make a post.  Thursday, I'm hoping to have the blogs new feature, "Spacecraft Spotlight" ready to go.  This new article series highlights a specific spacecraft from the current month's Ships of the Galaxy line and offers a brief story capsule, Classic D6 and Saga-Edition stats for it's modifications, and NPC stats (again in both rule systems) for the ship's owner.  Should be worth checking out.

           Anyway, that's Thursday; Friday's post will announce February's Ships of the Black Desert installment, and then I get to take a little break over the weekend.

           Now that the business is out of the way, Enjoy your Saga-Edition Monarch.  See you Thursday!

Star Wars: Saga Edition stats:

Trans-Tech Monarch-class Courier                                           CL 5
Colossal space transport
Int -3 Senses Perception +5
Defense Ref +6 (flat-footed 12); Fort 22; +11 armor
hp 120 DR 15; SR 25; Threshold 72
Speed fly 16 squares (max. velocity 1000 km/h), fly 4 squares (starship scales)
Fighting Space 12x12 or 1 square (starship scale); Cover total
Base Atk +0; Grp +32
Abilities Str 34, Dex 14, Con -, Int 14
Skills Initiative -3, Mechanics +5, Perception +5, Pilot -3
Crew 4 (normal); Passengers 12
Cargo 5 tons; Consumables 1 month; Carried Craft none
Hyperdrive x1 (backup x10), navicomputer
Availability Licensed; Cost 250,000 (100,000 used)