Friday, July 29, 2016

Starphin Treaty Frigate 028 Deck

   Ugh!  I've been trying to get blog posts out all week and all week I've run into delays and issues.  Debra's work schedule has been such that she hasn't been able to help me develop next post for our series on Alternate Metaphysics for Open D6.  The next section deals with codes, creeds, and how to get back your Fate Points once you use them, so it's pretty important.

    In addition to that, I've been working on some more maps for use in SF games and campaigns,  after running a brisk poll over on Google+, the majority have asked for a hidden rebel base map.  I began work and immediately bit off more than I chew:

It's like, Echo Base big...
     And those fighters you see?  I had to skin those in Wings before I pasted them in:

Not to brag...

     But despite all of this, I did finally manage to get the 028 Deck arranged in a fashion I can live with.  Let's have a look, shall we?

The fabled 028 Deck

Okay, to start with, the forward nose of the deck is indented because this is the uppermost deck of the upper targeting sensors, which run down to the 022 deck. The deck is bisected fore to aft by the first- and second- resonance chambers, where the energy from the capacitors and the gas from the two pair of tanks aft blend into laser-y goodness.   The pair of capacitors above on the 029 deck feed into the inner-most pair of resonance chambers, and a matching pair of capacitors below feed into the second-stage chambers.
     The open shaft from above continues down past this deck and offers some of the only access to the aft spaces and the gas tanks.  Each tank has an emergency bleed-off tank to handle pressure issues, as you do not want your lasing medium venting into an open compartment.
     The most distinct features of the 028 Deck are the pair of turbolaser turrets on either side. While the energy feeds and laser beam optics get all the fame, the majority of the volume and mass of a laser system is its cooling machinery.  Four pair of coolant tanks sit in this deck, and feet pipes around both resonance chambers and the turrets themselves.  In the forward-most compartment of this deck, like the others, is a monitoring room.  This one not only keeps tabs on the high pressure gas feeds, power levels and temperature of the lasers, the compartment serves as an auxiliary fire control station.

     I'd like to add more, RocketFans, but this was literally all the time I could spare today.  Anyway, if you like what you see and want to help me make more awesome game maps and deckplans, don't forget to drop by my Patreon and sign up!

Help me become the science fiction version of Dyson Logos!

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.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Starphin - class Frigate WIP II What the Stats Mean

     Work continues on the Starphin-Treaty Frigate, RocketFans.  Today, we're going to dig a little deeper into the design of a large capital ship by looking at all of the systems, sub-systems, and ancillary spaces that need to be present in order for the Starphin to perform it's mission.  First, we look at the stats, then extrapolate from those what we need.  Simple, right?

Improved version
  I wish.

    Designing a spacecraft using even the most generous of standards is difficult.  There are a lot of little things that you have to account for and keep track of.  Fortunatly, I've been blessed with an enormous amount of help form folks like Winchel Chung, Robert Brown, Curtis Saxton, and of course the Incredible Cross Sections books.  But enough shmoozing - let's dig in, shall we?

     First of all, lets look at the ship's crew and passengers. Crew is set at 175, assuming that there will be at least that many droids.  There are five gunners per turbolaser, for a total of 30, an additional 14 quadlaser gunners, a platoon of toops (32), fifteen pilots (fighters and shuttle!) and fifteen support crew, with room for eighteen more passengers, such as command staff, additional personnel or what ever.  That comes to a total of almost three hundred people.  So, right off, I need to have beds for that many.  But there is so much more that a crew needs then just a rack to fall into.  We need galleys, mess halls, heads and showers, for starters.  Obviously, we also need some kind of sick bay and dispensary.  Depending on the mission, we may need a dental unit, OBGYN, medical lab and imaging, bacta ward, and morgue.  But think of all the places we never see in science fiction that logic tells us has to be there.  There must be a ship's laundry, tailor, supply office, and a canteen to buy toothpaste and razors or whatever they use in a galaxy far, far away.  But there are even more considerations.  After perusing the general plans of the WWII escort carrier Thetis Bay (CVE-90), I discovered all sorts of space I never thought about.   Cobbler.  Barber shop.  Film lab (well, computer lab in SW).  Bakery. Post Office. Payroll Office and safe!
Just some of the systems I've had to find space for...

      Now, some of these amenities may seem like too much for a such little ship. While the Starphin is a Frigate by treaty and a Corvette by size convention, in reality, it is a Cruiser.  That's because it's consumables are listed, just like its Corellian ancestors, as being one full year's worth.  According the RAW from the REUP Manual a ships consumables are "A measure of the ship’s air, food, water and fuel and how long it can travel before having to stop for refueling and resupply."  This means that the Starohin needs to carry enough food, water, spare parts, tools, aviation fuel, tibanna gas, oxygen, uniform socks, laundry soap, replacement forks, disposible medical supplies, laser optics - everything, for three hundred people, for three hundred sixty-five days.  That's 109,799 crew-days of supplies.

     A Star Destroyer could carry that many crew-days of supplies, but then a Star Destroyer has almost fifty thousand people on board.  Fortunately, supplements such as The Darkstryder Campaign, novels such as the unfinishable Children of the Jedi give us solutions in the form of hydroponics bays and "full enzymatic breakdown" recycling technology.  Also, one can assume, since Humans and Duros  started forging the space-lanes twenty-five millennia ago, such technologies will be fully mature and operate at the peak of theoretical efficiency.  But we'll still need water tanks, plant bays, and vats of recycling material and processors. Spare parts get almost the same treatment, as self-replicating factories are a part of everyday life in the galaxy, one can assume that broken parts can be recycled into new ones with minimal feedstocks in storage.

     See?  Not impossible problems, but stuff you have to think about if you want realistic deckplans.  Next time, we take a look at the top-most ten decks of the Starphin, and actually start mapping some deckplans.  Here's a look at some of my behind-the-scenes-work, so you can get a taste of what I've been trying to deal with.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Alternate Metaphysics Rules for Open D6 II: The How

   Back to gutting the Force System out of D6, RocketFans!  I've gotten a lot of feedback about Part I of this series, some positive, some negative, but all curious.  Some of you have even guessed what I had in mind from my final statement on what I would replace force Skills and Powers with.


     And nothing is exactly what I meant.  Get rid of theMetaphysics Attribute, ditch the associated skills from Open D6 and Star Wars, and forget about all of those Powers. Let Jedi characters be as easy and simple to play as all the other templates.

      In this alternate (lack of) Metaphysics/Force system, the only difference between Force sensitive and non-Force sensitive Characters is the five-point limit "normal" Characters have on accumulating Fate/Force Points.  All "powers" used by Fate/Force Users are combinations of regular Attribute/Skill Dice Pools with the addition of a Fate/Force Point to boost the Pool up into impossible levels of Difficulty.  Using these "powers" does not require training - Jedi and other Force training is what allows Force Sensitives to gain more Force Points.  Used Fate/Force Points would be automatically returned at the end of the game day for Force Users, possibly not until the end of a session or adventure for non-Force Users.  I personally am in favor of non-users getting their points back as fast as Force Users, but that would allow a lot of doubled dice pools and some GMs may not like how that changes the game.  I had a gambler Character win a celebrity sabacc tournament against, Solo, Calrissian, and Karrde by using a Force Point on the last hand.  Do you know what a PC party can do to your campaign with the sudden infusion of a hundred thousand credits in the first game?

     So, how exactly can we recreate Force Powers using the regular old Skill list?  It's pretty easy, actually.  Lightsaber Combat is simple, for example - DEX + lightsaber  + Force Point.  Those awesome flips? DEX + Acrobatics Force Point.  Mind Trick?  PER + Persuasion + Force Point.  Telekinesis?  Ah...
Explain this can you?  Hmmmmm?

     Out-and-out "magical powers", of which Telekinesis is the most obvious, seem to require a magical system to govern them.  This is the traditional way of dealing with the supernatural, paranormal, and super powered, because these type of powers exist outside the realm of the possible.  But it is not required that we treat magical powers as magical in the Star Wars universe.  We're already going on the assumption that the Force is everywhere and that all living beings can touch it to a certain extent.  In the Star Wars Legends Knights of the Old Republic Media blitzkrieg, we are told that the hyperdrive was used in the modern galaxy was originally created though and powered by the Force.  So, in Star Wars, the Force is a part of the fabric of reality and is perfectly natural.  STR + Lifting + Force Point for Telekinesis.

     That is not to say it should be easy to move stuff with the Force.  The virtue of having Force Points, and their double Dice Pools, in charge of Force Powers is that you can rule some truly insane difficulties on a given roll.  This preserves the feeling of the impossibility of the task, while still giving the Force User a chance to succeed.  A new level, possibly several levels of Difficulty above Heroic/Legendary will have to be added for use with Force powered tasks.  

     When considering this radical Powers-ectomy as a viable option to treat the illness of complexity bloat, I tried to think of some objections that could be leveled in opposition.  Below I've tried to address some concerns I and a few others have already come up with.  These are not meant to be staw man arguments - if you can think of a problem I haven't, please leave a comment below.

     Some problems I see include:

  • Without Force Powers, Force User Characters don't seen that much different from any other template: This is true, but I don't see it as a problem.  Having all  Characters start play with the same number of Dice to allocate implies that they are meant to be balanced with one another. One of the things that makes Force Users hard to play at lower levels is that they must split the same number of Dice up among even more Skills than regular characters.
  • Jedi Characters won't be nearly as powerful under this system: Agreed.  Again, I don't see this as a problem.  Uber-powerful Jedi that skew game balance away from other characters is one of the most prevalent complaints about the D6 System.  This alternate system is trying to solve it.
  • What's to stop non-Force Users from blowing a Force Point and doing Jedi stuff:  This is a more difficult question.  Personally, I don't mind the idea of non-Force Users using the Force every once and awhile.  Look at Han Solo in The Force Awakens.  He jumped to lightspeed from inside another ship, shot a stormtrooper with a pistol at medium range while looking in the opposite direction (He looked almost surprised too, like the gun had a mind of it's own), and, most extreme, made a landing approach on a planet, through shields, at lightspeed.  Han has had fan theories concerning his Force sensitivity around him for years, and Episode VII only provides more evidence.  This alternate system, however, allows Han to simply be an experienced character with five Force Points that uses them on his blaster and astrogation rolls.     That being said, there is nothing in my alternate rules to stop a regular character from using Telekinesis.  If you don't like that, as a GM you'll have to rule that it is not allowed.  
    Admit it, you can't wait to do this in-game.
  • You can't replicate every Force Power with regular skills:  That all depends on your definition of "every" if you go through comic books, novels, and obviously RPG supplements, you'll find a dizzying array of Force Powers available.  But if you look just at the movies, you may be surprised at how little the Force is used. According to The Force Accounted, There are only about ten different distinct uses of the Force shown in the entire Star Wars saga, including Force Spirit.  Most often used is sense, with various tricks such as Force Leap, Choke, Push and Telekinesis filling the bulk of the movies Powers list. Sense, as an active power, I'd roll as PER + Search + Force Point, and passive uses of sense would be given out by the GM to add drama or information to the game.  Force Lightening is more complicated.  On the fly, I'd use KNO + willpower + Dark Side Point.  But if you don't have allow Darksiders in your campaign, you don't have to worry about it as much. New Powers from The Force Awakens fit in to this reasonably well, if you assume that stopping a blaster bolt is a form of telekinesis, and putting Rey to sleep in the woods outside Maz's castle is a form of effect mind.  Kylo Ren's interrogation technique looks like if could be covered with KNO + Intimidation Darkside Point
  • What about Force Spirits: Urrrg....Should've kept my mouth shut.  My current thoughts are that Force Spirits as Player Characters that recently died may interact with the world at the cost of a Force Point until their Force Point Pool is exhausted, then they join the Force.  As an NPC they can last as long and do as much as the GM likes, with the movies and whatever other sources you want as a guide. 
  • If Characters have to use a Force Point every time they use a Jedi Power, they'll run out of Points pretty quickly: That depends on how often Players use Force Points.  If you try to use the Force on every roll, then yes, you'll run out quickly.  But Jedi don't resort to the Force for every problem.  Again, in The Force Accounted, we see that in all 805 minutes of the Star Wars saga, the Force is only used for 34 minutes, or about 4% of the time.  Having Force Powers depend on Force Points also introduces the idea of resource management to the use of the Force, and does so in a way that doesn't add complexity.  For GMs who are frustrated at Players with Force Users running rough shod over their campaigns, the limiting factor of Force Points is a way to regulate Force Powers without being heavy-handed.
     While this is indeed the core of my alternate metaphysics/force system, there is still a lot of work to be done.  Next time, RocketFans, we'll discuss Codes vs the Light/Dark dichotomy, getting and keeping Force Points, and any ideas or consigns you or I come up with.  See you then!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Starphin-class Frigate WIP Part I: WEG Game Stats

I'm gratified by the upsurge of interest in this project I've seen on Google+.  Your support is what motivates me, RocketFans!
"If the Republic will not let me build proper warships,
I'll give the galaxy an armada of glass cannons."
-Argye Norn, Lord Halowan, 

As promised, We will begin the Starphin project by cooking up some stats, West End Games style.  To be strictly technical, these stats are based partly on the un-revised second edition Star Wars: The Role-Playing Game stats, the REUP stats, all mixed with my own ideas about how to go about designing a spacecraft.  So, just to forestall any splitting of hairs or picking of nits, the capsule will give us an option where those who prefer, say, the stats that +Oliver Queen  develops over mine, you can have both in the same universe.  Because he really does make nice stats, doesn't he?

Craft: Lord Halowan Spacewerks Starphin-class Treaty Frigate
(Pocket carrier configuration)
Type: Multi-purpose vessel
Scale: Capital
Length: 180 meters
Crew: 175
Crew Skill: Astrogation 3D, Capital ship gunnery 4D+1, Capital ship 
piloting 4D, Capital ship shields 3D, Sensors 3D+2
Passengers: 80 (65 troops)
Cargo Capacity: 800 metric tons
Consumables: 1 year
Carried Craft: 12 Class-6 Combat Pods, 1 passenger shuttle
Cost: 5,000,000 (new), 3,000,000 (used)
Hyperdrive Multiplier: x1
Nav Computer? Yes
Maneuverability: 2D+1
Space: 6
Atmosphere: 400; 1200 kph
Hull: 4D
Shields: 3D




Weapon: Six Double Light Turbolaser Cannons
Fire Arc:
Turrets (3 left, 3 right)
Capital Ship Gunnery
Fire Control:
Space Range:
Atmosphere Range:
10-40/80/160 km
Weapon: Fourteen Quad Laser Cannons
Fire Arc:
Turrets (4 front, 3 left, 3 right, four back)
Starship Gunnery
Fire Control:
Space Range:
Atmosphere Range:
100-300m/1.2/2.5 km

Capsule: Following the signing of the Galactic Concordance and The passing of the Military Disarmament Act, many small polities, client states, and allied factions expressed concerns about disarmament.  The Starphin-class frigates are an attempt to circumvent the tonnage restrictions of capital starships.  Halowan Spacewerks accomplished this by creating what is, according to the Anaxes system, a Corvette. Looks, however, can be deceiving. The addition of an effective point-defense system to the Sptarphin gives the frigate more effective protection that mere shields.  It was by adding twenty-four escape pod bays to the central tower that Halowan Spacewerks managed to create a modular attack starship without violating treaty restrictions. The first warship upgrade created for the Starphin was the "Pocket Carrier" retrofit.  Since the escape pod bays open into the centrally located hanger bay, the Starphin can be easily modified to carry a squadron of combat pods, such as Nibuus Cluster Manufacturing's Class-6, and properly maintain them for multiple sorties. While still far less effective than a true warship, the Starphin-carriers are easily able to protect isolated star systems and convoys from pirates, gangsters and other elements seeking to take advantage of the 90% fleet reduction after the War.  Halowan offers the Starphin under license through Rendili StarDrive, insuring that many different versions will be produced in the years to come. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Alternate Metaphysics Mechanics for Open D6 Part I: The Why


     This project started rather innocently, actually.  I heard about the new AI flight program that is so good that it can beat American fighter aces in the simulators.  Needless to say, Air Force pilots, already pissed about drone pilots getting the same pay, are livid.
As obsolete as his first cellphone...

     You may wonder what that has to do with the Force, or Metaphysics, as it is known in Open D6.  It's like this:  If AI on our primitive, backward planet can beat expert pilots in atmospheric fighter craft, how did a mess of clones beat a mess of droids in starfighters in the Clone Wars? 

     Come to think of it, if it's possible to make AI soldiers, why would you instead clone humans?  We're squishy, need to breathe, and need vast amounts of consumables and cubic space.  And the waste we produce... Logically, if you could avoid the cost, time and extra materials needed to field an army of biological soldiers by instead using battle-droids, why wouldn't you?
Boondoggle and Pork Barreling!

    The meta-answer is of course, that Luke Skywalker mentioned the Clone Wars specifically in Episode IV, and therefore a war using some sort of clones was canon.  In the Prequels, we can observe that the droid army is full of glitchy, bargain-basement technology, and that the clones are kilo-for-kilo better soldiers and pilots.  But in real life, this would not be the case.  Now, before anyone else says it, I am perfectly well aware that Star Wars doesn't work like real life by any far stretch of the imagination.  Still, part of the cognitive dissonance that makes classic science fiction seem out of touch is how dated the computer technology is compared to what we have in the real world.  And then there's the inescapable laws of computing: If you can have something as advanced as C-3PO and R2-D2, you should have had unstoppable computer-piloted fighters for a long time already.  So why are organics better than driods?

     Several pieces of Star Wars literature from that limbo now known as "Legends" indicate that battle-droids and droid-pilots are simply no match for the intuition and imagination of sentient individuals.  There are at least three ways one can interpret such statements:

1. Since it's a proven fact that AI pilots are better in real life, the Legends material is inaccurate so we should ignore it.

2.Since it's a proven fact that AI pilots are better in real life, We can assume that if humans are the same as they are in the real world, for some reason AI in the Star Wars universe are superior to real life AI in terms of personality, but inferior in terms of computational performance. 

3.Since it's a proven fact that AI pilots are better in real life, and we assume that AI in Star Wars are superior to what we have in real life, because they have personalities,  humans and aliens must be  special somehow.

    Pop quiz: What is the definition of the Force?  According to old Ben in the movie that started it all, "It's an energy field created by all living things.  It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together."  

     Did you catch that?  It's created by all living things. That includes humans, aliens, and even clones.  It does not include droids.  That, RocketFans, is the difference between how droids work in a galaxy far, far away and how AI work here and now.  The Force connects all living things, and therefore all living things can in some way use the Force.  That means that the "normal" person in the Star Wars universe would be uncommonly skilled, lucky and canny compared to a normal person in real life.  It's part of the fabric of the universe that the Star Wars saga is set in.

   Now, in Star Wars: The Role-Playing Game for D6, the ability for all people to touch the Force is governed by the Force Point mechanic.  The difference between normal people and Force-Sensitives is that normal Characters may have a maximum of 5 Force Points, while Force-Sensitives may have any number of Force Points. The function of Force Points for sensitives and non-sensitives is the same:  Spend a Force Point, and you can double the die pool on your next roll.
The weird thing?  I bought this at Disney World!
     That 's fine as far as it goes - the problem is that it goes so much further.  I'm taking of course about the Force Powers in the Star Wars RPG.  Like virtually all "magic" systems in RPGs The Force Powers rules in Star Wars are more or less broken. Fist of all, it's a classic example of "linear warrior, quadratic wizard".  In the early adventures of a campaign, the Jedi character is under-powered, having had to put dice into their Force Skills.  This usually leads to not having enough dice in regular skills to compete with normal characters, and not having enough dice in their Force Skills to use their Force Powers reliably.  There will be a couple of sessions in the middle of the campaign where the normal characters and the Force-Sensitives are about even in skill and power - and those are the games you talk about for the rest of your life.  After that, however, the Force users become more and more powerful, with more dice in Control, Sense, and Alter, and access to more and more powers.  And lightsabers.  Eventually, between, telekinesis, lightsaber combat, and effect mind, the Force user can do everything, and usually better than the rest of the party.  No fun.  

     Second of all,  A Force-sensitive Character has, in the classic Star Wars rules, three extra skills; the aforementioned Control, Sense, and Alter.  In Open D6 there is an additional Metaphysics Attribute, and three Metaphysics Skills - Channel, Sense, and Transform.  These Skills are not the Force Powers or Metaphysical Manipulations themselves, however.  Force Powers are a sort of category below Skills, and are simply a list of what you can do with your Force Skills.  You can't use a Force Skill untrained - despite multiple examples of characters in the Canon and Legends Universes doing just that.  You gain training in Force Powers by improving one of the three Force Skills one pip, or by spending five Character Points.  That right there is another major headache - it costs the same to learn a Force Power as it does to improve a actual Skill.  While you can learn a new Power when you improve a Force Skill, you can't improve a Force Skill by learning a new Power.  Then there are combination Powers, that require you to add the skill dice from two or all three Force Skills to you pool to use a single Force Power. And all of these Force Powers have their own difficulty tables and special rules as complicated as any Vance-inspired Spell List.  It's no wonder I've heard several GMs admit that they've never run a game with Force Users.  It's just too much extra crap on top of what is by itself an elegantly simple system.

     But what if we could skip all that?

     That is exactly what I propose - a new mechanic for incorporating Force Powers into D6 that incorporates the idea that all being can touch the Force? That all Force Sensitives can attempt to use that connection, even without without formal training? And especially with a mechanic that eliminates all of the complicated, game-breaking, extraneous rules and special circumstances that plague our Force Users?  I believe I have in fact found a perfect replacement, one that will let the game flow with the speed and simplicity that is inherent to the D6 System.  What will I replace the current Force Powers rules with, you may ask?



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

I've Fallen in Love with D6 Again

     ...Not that I ever really fell out of love with what is my favorite gaming engine ever.  I haven't been showing it much lately, but that was more of a business decision than a personal one.  White Star and The Black Hack have, between them, bracketed the SF OSR market of late as much as they have the color spectrum.  I've been writing products for these systems, and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
     Another reason I stopped producing for D6 is, ironically enough, the D6 Star Wars fandom.  And not because it's getting smaller, but because it's bigger and better than ever.  The number and quality of the fan-produced books for Star Wars D6 not only have higher production value than what I can do, seeing how I have to own the rights to all the art before I can sell, but books such as the new REUP core book and the books produced by Womp Rat Press are better than what West End Games could put out in the Nineties.  How's an indie producer like me to compete?


     Let's be honest here; I didn't star writing RPG books for D6 because I thought it was a smart business decision.  I started writing D6 books because I was a fan and had always wanted to.  I love D6.  I think it's one of the easiest systems to learn, and in my experience, it's the easiest system to run. Therefore, I have decided to start writing for D6 again.

Some of our future products will include a collaboration with Rob Garitta on a version of spacecraft creation rules for the Black Hack.  I'm writing the next installment of the Technical Readout series  featuring shuttles, which will be released under OSR as well as D6. In addition, there's the next of our Species Spotlight books, with will feature a race of ghost faced killers called the Sung.  But those are our smaller projects; There are two pretty major ones in the works that as well.

     Our next major title will be Opposing Force: Alternate Rules for Metaphysics for Open D6.  In this book, we'll provide alternate mechanics for those most frustrating of rules (next to the Wild Die, apparently) in the D6 System.  In addition to a new system for using Fate Points and Powers, the book will have guidelines on creating new Codes to live by, new organizations, weapons, equipment, species and templates.  There will even be new spacecraft, because of course there will.

Project number two won't be available for sale for quite some time, but you'll all get a chance to follow along as I'll be posting regular progress reports.  I will be working on this:

Starphin-class Frigate
Concept Art

This little beauty is a small Missile Frigate/ Pocket Carrier.  It's 180 meters long and 150 meters from the top of the forward fin to the base.  It has six light double turbo-laser turrets, fourteen point defense turrets, and either 24 missile tubes with a hundred and twenty missiles, or a squadron of twelve fighters.  This ship is tiny by space opera standards.  By mapping standards, it is a mammoth project as the spacecraft is a hundred and twenty tactical squares long and has fifty decks.  I plan on making these plans as detailed as possible.  this will require some serious research on the design of the weapons turrets, engines, life support system and landing gear.  Like I said, this will take a good bit of time.  The good news is, I'll be posting the works in progress on the blog.
   Anyway, that's what's going on with Blue Max Studios for now.  Our next several posts will involve showing off our work, so stay tuned, RocketFans!