Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away

With 5150 Fringe Space now in truly playtestable form (that is, it is typed), and myself finally having some time to relax from the ever present "Real Life," I got in a quick game testing some of the more recent developments, especially boarding actions, as well as some of the pre-made ship designs in the rule book.

So, here we have a classic scene: The Tantive IV, a Blockade Runner, pursued by an Imperial Star Destroyer (Battleship)!

The Tantive IV cruising at a fair pace, near Tatooine
The Star Destroyer comes into view!
Trading shots, (both ships have a bunch of Reaction weapons so the gunfights between the two can last pretty long) the Tantive IV takes two Special Damages, as the sensors get zapped and a large, shaking hit knocks out several soldiers.

The Corellian Corvette hits the burns the Antimatter Drives!
Seeing that resistance is futile, the Tantive IV decides to run.... the Imperial Victory condition is to take the ship by boarding action (alive) while the Droids have not escaped by, er, escape pod... which they won't do until they're either boarded or fail a Cohesion Test. Staying as far away as possible from the Star Destroyer is just about the best thing they can do.
They seem to be getting away!
Indeed, it almost looked like the Tantive IV would escape! However, Tantive IV was already approaching the half way point when it comes to fuel, and the planet's gravity slowed the ship down as it pulled away... 

Seeing that making the Tantive IV run low on fuel was the only way to beat them, the Star Destroyer puts all of its actions into using its sensors to target the Tantive IV precisely with its largest weapon, its medium laser. 

It hits! Tantive IV is quickly reduced to just enough fuel to STOP, let alone keep going!

Distance keeps growing...
Despite the seeming inevitability of Tantive IV losing the race, the fact of the matter is that the Imperial Star Destroyer will take several turns to catch up to the Tantive IV, and until that point, the Tantive IV can repair in relative safety, beyond the effective range of most of the Star Destroyer's weapons.

The Star Destroyer goes to ludicrous speed!
With several turns of repairs and careful maneuvering, the Star Destroyer hits the Antimatter Drive button... it is now matching the speed of the Blockade Runner!

Uh oh...
Two turns later, after a turn of the Star Destroyer again using the Antimatter Drives and then getting some lucky shots (with its weakest guns-- too risky to shoot with anything larger) on Tantive IV's thrusters, the Star Destroyer reaches the Tantive IV... both are now running a bit short on fuel (The Star Destroyer has enough to stop, the Tantive IV doesn't unless it repairs its thrusters, and then only barely), but the Star Destroyer gets its boarding attempt. It succeeds, in part due to its PDS being powerful enough to force the Tantive IV into an intercept... 

Maybe PDS can represent tractor beams? Or maybe they were just able to 'head off' the enemy ship and 'corner' it with a large volume of cheap ammo... 

Anyway, the ships lock together, the smaller ship becomes locked to the larger ship's speed, and...
In a swift and brutal attack, the Tantive IV's crew either surrenders or dies, all in one turn. The Stormtroopers take insignificant casualties.

However, are the droids lost?

Probably, yeah. But in the spirit of the movies and the game, I decided to let the Droids pull a Challenge test on the Stormtrooper's searching abilities.... 4 dice vs 4 dice, counting successes. The Droids need to succeed not once, but twice (for two turns it takes to escape on escape pods).

They succeed! The adventure continues!

1) The high speeds that come up in a pursuit game make me think about reducing all ship speeds... At a certain point in there the Star Destroyer was going something like 40" per turn (Thats when it caught up). Not really something that needs to be changed, though perhaps I should halve speeds, at least contextually (that is, make 2"=1" in pursuit games). 
2) Uneven games can be depressing: The Tantive IV stood no chance, and I rolled very poorly for its crew stats... so it was basically a massacre, just watching one ship hammer the other til it died. There were a few tough decisions for the Imperials, though (Rebels were basically stuck most of the time due to getting hammered so bad). Targeted shots vs. antimatter can be tough.
3) I came up with a minor adjustment for the shooting table about half way through that would make ship stats matter a bit more in whether or not they get hit. It'd basically give them a saving roll based upon their mobility. 
4) in retrospect the Blockade Runner, perhaps, should have tried turning around about at the planet and THEN going as fast as possible the other way... can't guarantee it would've worked (who activated when would matter a lot there), but looking at the 'deltaV' of the two ships, its pretty inevitable that the star destroyer would win in a straight up race... though the Tantive IV taking a hit to engines was a big part of that (they otherwise could've gotten far ahead enough for long enough to prepare a better defense).

Regardless, twas quick and fun.

Monday, November 28, 2011

5150: Fringe Space Playtesting

Finally got down to typing down the core rules (most of the campaign rules and such are written, just not on a computer).

"Mass" playtesting should start soon. If anyone is interested in playtesting the 5150 Space game (Fringe Space, its being called ATM) then send a message to me and I'll probably send some playtest copies out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Firefly Characters for New Beginnings

Statted out the Firefly crew for NB... might be useful for others, and 
I also want to make sure I'm not missing obvious character elements/ 
misrepresenting anybody...

Couple of modifications:
1) Serenity's crew is not a bunch of greenhorns, so they all got some 
starting fame, notoriety, and advancement rolls...
2) Some don't have Rep as their primary attribute (Inara has People 
instead, for example). I allowed each character to decide to turn 
another attribute into their 'Rep.' (that is, if they would be Rep 4, 
they could put both 4s in other attributes and make Rep a 2 or 3).
3) I made some new professions (some will likely be the basis of the 
professions eventually featured in the space supplement).

Malcolm Reynolds
Human Male Dropout (Had trouble deciding that one) STAR
Rep: 5
Born Leader, Smooth
Fitness: 4
People: 5
Savvy: 4
Science: 3 (did well on advancement rolls, and fits his medic 
abilities gained during the war)

Fame: 20
Notoriety: 30

Smuggler (Pep)-- Free Trader (helps with dealing with interplanetary 
trading and plans)
Soldier (Fit)-- Sergeant (helps with making tactical plans, 
assessments, keeping a team together, that sorta thing).

Human Female Mercenary
Nerves of Steel
Rep: 5
Fit: 5
People: 4
Savvy: 3
Science: 0

Fame: 20
Notoriety: 20

Soldier (Fit)-- Commando (helps with Stealthy activities and the 
like-- she seems to like sneaking up on her opponents)

Human Male Ganger
Rep: 5
Fit: 5
People: 3
Savvy: 2
Science: 0

Fame: 10
Notoriety: 20

Ganger (Fit)--Hitman (I imagine this as giving him similar advantages 
to the Commando expertise, with perhaps a bit more intimidation 

Human Male LWC
Exceptional Pilot
Rep: 3
Fit: 3
People: 4
Savvy: 5
Science: 2

Fame: 10
Notoriety: 10

Profession: Pilot (Savvy) Small Ships (Hull 3-7) (Note: When using for 
the Space game, you use Savvy for Fix and Fly... but you get negative 
modifiers if you AREN'T a pilot and of the right type. Still, he's a 
Fly 6 in his Firefly, altogether).

Human Female LWC
Exceptional Fixer
Rep: 2
Fit: 3
People: 4
Savvy: 5
Science: 3

Fame: 0
Notoriety: 5

Profession: Ship's Crew (Savvy) Engineer (Same as for pilots, you need 
these sort of professions to be able to operate almost at all on a 

Human Male Dropout
Rep: 4
Fit: 4
People: 4
Savvy: 3
Science: 0

Fame: 0
Notoriety: 0

Religionist (Pep) Preacher
Gunslinger (Fit) Assassin (inferred).

Human Male LWC
Rep: 3
Fit: 3
People: 4
Savvy: 3
Science: 5

Fame: 0
Notoriety: 0

Profession: Doctor (Sci) Surgeon

Human Female Mercenary (starts out as LWC? switches back and forth? 
She's complicated).
(I designed her like an alien)
Superior Senses
Rep: 5
Fit: 4
People: 3
Savvy: 4
Science: 5

Fame: 0
Notoriety: 0

Child (Pep) Leaky Brainpan
Merc (Fit) Spy

Human Female LWC
Charismatic (not Stunning- note how she is also rather persuasive-- in 
all situations-- with all types of folk)
Rep: 4
Fit: 4
Pep: 5
Sav: 2
Sci: 2

Fame: 30
Notoriety: 0

Escort (Pep) Companion (advantages in knowing how to duel, play 
instruments, whatever)

And finally, the "Tenth Character"

Hull: 5 (basis of crew size, 'build points,' and cargo capacity)
Speed: 10 (how fast you accelerate)
Engine: 6 (how many times you can accelerate before running out of 
propellant or fuel)
Complexity: 4 (sensors, computers, and ECM)
Armor: 3 (how hard you can be hit and live)
Mobility: 3 (how quickly you can change facing)

I'm planning on doing some more of these for other things I've got 
models for... maybe some more Firefly characters (the bad guys?), Mass 
Effect characters, Star Wars.... its fun!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Operation Blackjack- 5150 Star Army

So, an update, because its been awhile.

My power's been out for a week or so, and I just got it back... and just before losing power I got in a game of 5150 Star Army... and I remembered to take pictures! Some may remember this as a distant sequel to a small game of 5150 Book 1 I posted to the THW yahoo group almost a year ago... that is, its set in the same universe, at about the same time, during the same war.

In other news, I've been extremely busy in October... so no Winston Brasil adventures, rare playtesting of the Space game (really need a better name for that...), but there's been a little progress, and things are starting to settle down again.

Anyway, here's the batrep...

The Andromeda Galaxy, Paradise Sector, within the Twin Suns Emipre.
TancoKrav, an approximately Earth sized planet with one moon that is 
also inhabited- Shiloh.
This fight takes place on Shiloh, which is pretty much the quintessential American Southwest Desert Planet. water is fairly scarce, plants are mostly small shrubs, and the ground is a dusty red. 

For the past 15 years, TancoKrav has been having a religious movement, 
The True Word of Boris the Prophet, sweep across its lands. 5 years 
prior to the war, the majority of TancoKravians had converted, and 
they established a theocracy, headed by Boris Masia, the Prophet.

TancoKrav had been a protectorate of the Twin Suns Empire for nearly a 
century, and had been a vital resource and trade partner. The TSE 
viewed the declaration of a new government that did not accept 
advisors from the TSE as an act of rebellion, and issued an ultimatum 
to the new government, telling them to stand down, dismantle their 
military, and submit to TSE rule; this time without the benefit of 
autonomous rule.

The TancoKravians responded by blowing up the TSE embassy in their 
capital, and prepared for war.

That was 20 months ago.

Quickly the TSE realized that they could win with the help of the 
Shilohs, who had declared their independence from TancoKrav as soon as 
TK had established its theocracy. The Shiloh had always been fiercely 
independent, and though some Shiloh (relatively few) had converted to 
the new religion, none wanted to be run by TK in the first place, let 
alone by a non-democratic government.

Shiloh itself is a rough frontier world. It has a fairly low 
population, but the rough lifestyle and relatively frequent rebellions 
against whoever their current ruler is has resulted in a good 
population for fighting wars. They don't like the TSE, but they prefer 
the relatively distant and relaxed rule that TSE would grant them than 
to be imperialized by TK's dictatorship, and so have allied themselves 
with the TSE.

1730, local time. The 26 hour day of Tancokrav was the basis of timekeeping on Shiloh, but as a show in independence Shiloh has adopted the "Empire Standard 24 hour day." As a moon, times and dates are often skewed by the orbit of Tancokrav and Shiloh itself. In short, this battle takes place from about sunset to the end of twilight.

The far future. About nine years before Sgt. Llewellyn became a space 
pirate captain.

WEATHER: The sky is a swirling mix of light blue, gold, purple, and red. Shiloh is known for its beauty, especially around sunrise and sunset. There are a few clouds in the sky. Soldiers have clear LOS at this time, as it is still light and there isn't enough moisture for fog or rain at the moment. It is winter currently, and the temperature is 53ºF, slowly dropping as the sun descends.

SCENARIO: After heavy back and forth fighting on Tancokrav, the Twin Suns Empire and Shiloh seemed near victory. Suddenly, however, it seemed that TK got an influx of weapons, soldiers, and much better supplies. The TSE and Shiloh quickly lost ground on TK itself, and by the 18 month mark of the war TK was ready to bring the fight to the enemy.

The key to planetary invasion is to establish aerospace superiority over a large enough area that you can transport troops without fear of being shot down. Even then, cost is extremely high, and the enemy doesn't need to pay for anything other than boots. Fortunately for the attacker, even a single ship can rain extremely heavy fire down upon any large troop movements, which essentially puts both sides in the position of fighting guerilla warfare. Shiloh is also fairly low in population, so many of Tancokrav's enemies are also being shipped in from even greater distance. 

Tanco Krav has set up in a mountainous area of Shiloh, with their base of operations essentially being in a valley surrounding on all sides by 3 mountains. Heavy AA cover coordinated by listening posts deeper in TSE territory mean that Twin Suns soldiers are forced to climb treacherous cliffs while under mortar and sniper fire. 

3 days ago, the Twin Suns Empire was able to bring a passing battleship into the system. The ship was in transit back towards the TSE's interior sectors, and staying any longer than 2 weeks would upset the New Macedonians (who are a rising power in Paradise Sector), but at least the Tancokrav spaceships are grounded during this time to prevent the battleship from picking them off at long range with its lasers. 

This provided an opportunity for the Twin Suns Empire to try to get rid of the Tancokrav beachhead on Shiloh.

Two thousand of Shiloh and Twin Suns Empire troops surround the mountain area, and start special forces squads are sent out on recon, supported by the mechanized Shiloh Rough Riders and Twin Suns Empire Marines close by. Though the Tancokravians are outnumbered, most of the Twin Suns Empire troops are kept back until these first strikes establish a foothold on the mountains.

Recon the area with Twin Suns Special Forces and then clear it with mechanized infantry.


Seen here are some of the foothills of the three mountains, the outskirts of Tancokrav's control. 
The area shown is about 150 by 225 yards. In the North West corner of the area there is a small visible outpost, but its much larger underground. It dates back to Shiloh's earliest colonial era. 

As can be seen, the ground is uneven, providing lots of cover. (I'm using 'true LOS,' including soldiers blocking LOS, for the first time in a long time... it REALLY enhanced the game! Made squad tactics much more important).

The ruins on the Eastern side of the table are of suspected Precursor origin, as it is unknown how they got there. They have not been studied.

The TSE Special Forces team is walking in on the South East corner of the table. This being one of the largest gaps into the valley that contains most of the TK forces, the area is likely to be crawling with TK patrols.

TSE Marines with their IFV

Shiloh Rough Riders with their Traveller transport.

In the distance-- Twin Suns Empire Special Forces
The Marines and Rough Riders are all Rep: 4. Marines use Star Army stats and HBA while Rough Riders use PDF. Sgt. Llewellyn leads the Rough Rider squad, and is Rep 5. 

The Marines are led by Sgt. Marcus Chen, who is Rep 4.

The TSESF are all Rep 6 (rolled on the ISS table) with Exo Armor and Rapid Fire Laser. They are led by Captain Jailus Ban Rabia. Second in command (and the grenade launcher) is Ed "Sue" Seward. The team is filled out by Tami Nai'Ho and Jake Nordehaus. They all have "Stealth" which makes them invisible at 36" and invisible at 12" if stationary (and prone or in concealment). Enemy also always has -1 Rep on in sights at range beyond 12" regardless of circumstances.

The IFV has a light projectile cannon and HMG, while the Traveller has a rocket launcher and light beam cannon.




Rust colored sand swirls low to the ground in the slight wind, disturbing the small shrubs that barely eke out an existence on Shiloh's rough landscape.

A Viatsi lying in the slight shadow lifts his hooded head and looks around. As he moves his red hood and dark armor become distinguished from the ground, as if the Viatsi had just emerged from the ground.

"Break is over. Fan out and prepare to move North." He whispers with a slight accent into his comms. Three more figures grow from the ground as they sit up into a crouch. "Look alive, this place is crawling Tancokravians."

"Alright, let us move."

"Captain Rabia, ruins to the North." Seward says.
"Nordehaus, follow me to the ruins. Seward, Nai'Ho, cover us."

Captain Rabia looks around, "We are going to move North another hundred yards or-"
"Contact West!" Nordehaus' voice cuts over the comms.

"Looks like a squad o' T-K's... they can't see us." He adds.
"Wait a moment... I am seeing some movement just North of those Tancokravians." Rabia says.

"This is strange...  not a Tancokravian uniform..." He turns a dial on the side of his goggles and the zooms in on the distant figure walking across the desert. "Red and black..."
"We've got a few more to the North... heavy infantry with laser rifles." Sue cuts in.
"Red and black... Perhaps they are mercenaries?" Nai'Ho suggests.
"CONTACT NORTH! IFV! Everyone get down!" shouts Sue as a small IFV roars into view just a few dozen yards to the North of the special forces. 

"Adaina..." grunts Nai'Ho as he throws himself against the wall. 
"Seward we've been spotted, take it out!"Rabia shouts.
The IFV's turret turns towards the squad as Seward leans out from cover and aims the grenade launcher. Bullets impact the wall and ground all around the squad as the IFV's attached infantry open up at their unseen foes, and the IFV starts spraying bullets from its HMG just to try to pin the squad down. 
Seward pulls the trigger. the surface of the IFV explodes, but the vehicle appears to be undamaged.
"Armor's too thick, sir!" 
"This is Bravo-3, we need assistance!" 
"Brech Ate Adaina..."
"Stay down!"
The IFV pulls back a bit behind a small hill crest while its infantry get cover themselves after seeing the grenade blast.
Tancokravian Mechanized Infantry take cover.
Sgt. Llewellyn listens to the transmissions. "Alright, Plan B. Time to get over there." He signals the Traveller pilot to move in for a quick landing south of the TSESF position.

The Tancokravian soldiers scramble for cover as the Traveller rises up over the mesa. One shoots a rocket that just barely misses the Traveller, which responds with a beam that blasts the soldier to pieces. Bullets whiz around the Traveller as it lands. 
"Sergeant, that's a hot L-Z. Good luck with the T-K's!" shouts the pilot over the din of battle.

Sgt. Llewellyn leaps out of the transport and is immediately angered at the choice of LZ. Leave it to a Twin Suns pilot to choose a kill zone, he thinks.

Bullets whiz around the Rough Riders, who take cover along the crest of the mesa and respond with as much fire as they can put out. 
"Where are the Marines? We need help clearing this LZ!"

"Hold in there Sgt. Llewellyn, we're on our way."Sgt. Chen says.
The Rough Riders, limited by the tight mesa tip they are stuck on, are only able to get a few of their men to fire at any one point, due to blocking their own sight. Still, the two SAWs are able to make the T-K's think twice about responding. One T-K is shot through the chest, but the bullets hitting him look no different than the poofs of red dirt thrown up by the other impacts.

The zooming sound of a moving vehicle cut through the gunfire.

Pvt. Joens pushed his upper body up to look. "Gareth, look's like the calvary's done arrived!"
The rhythmic booming sound of an autocannon shook the battlefield as the IFV tore the Tancokravians at the base of the mesa to shreds.

"Hell yeah!"
"Say it again!"

The collective elan of the Rough Riders shines despite the dirt covering their coats.
Red and Black armored soldiers, about to ruin someone's day.

Tancokravians in firefight with Rough Riders (seen at the far end on the hill)
One of the Rough Riders gets thrown back by a laser rifle's impact on the ground.
 "Damn!" he cries as he clutches a hurt arm.
Llewellyn poked his head up to look at the fairly distant IFV that seemed to be the main source of fire.
"Chen, take out that IFV, 150 yards North."
"Brace yourself..."

The IFV explodes in a poof of smoke and the soldiers in cover behind it are knocked over by the force, but start getting back up and rolling back into cover immediately.

"That's a kill. We're going to disembark now, Llewellyn, give us cover." Chen says through the comms.

The Red and Black soldiers run to engage the Marines and Rough Riders, and open up on them with Rapid Fire Lasers and Grenades.

"Damn, these guys are a step up!"
Two Rough Riders are knocked out by the heavy fire.
Sgt. Llewellyn pulls one of the injured back from the firing line and crawls forward, aims carefully, and fires a three round burst into one of the soldiers. Though dust and sparks were kicked up by the impact, the man barely seemed to notice the impact. 
"Shit, they've got armor. This is up to you, Chen!"
"Don't worry, we're engaging."
Though the coordinated laser fire of the marine squad was able to make a few of the armored soldiers duck back and take slight wounds, they were unable to take any out. But the fire on the Rough Riders lessened.

Meanwhile, the Special Forces were still taking heavy fire, but the line of Tancokravians at the hill crest were mostly armed with small arms that could not penetrate their armor, so the special forces decided to go on the offensive, and were able to push back the enemy squad except a single SAW gunner and one injured soldier who didn't have a friend to carry him. While the mechanized infantry fell back to some rocks a dozen meters back, the heavy infantry with lasers moved up on the Eastern flank to try to go in for the kill... meanwhile, some Red Hats, elite Tancokravian religious infantry, appeared to the Northwest and made the special forces squad duck back into the ruins.

Braving the laser fire, Nai'Ho and Nordehaus move up with cover fire from Seward and Captain Rabia. They hide behind the hill crest formerly used by the T-K soldiers. The heavy T-K infantry move up on both sides, with cover fire from the Red Hats. 

The heavy infantry and SAW gunner nod to one another and pop up over the crest, but the Special Force's quick reaction times allow them to gun down or suppress all of them.... but Nai'Ho is hit by a bullet from the SAW that penetrates his armor, and he goes down.
"I am hit! G'argh.... I can not move my leg!"

Meanwhile, the Red Hats' fire blows off a chunk of wall that falls on Seward...
"Sue!" shouts Rabia as he runs over to help him up. 
"I'll be alright," says Seward as he stands, "But I'll need help walking."

Meanwhile, in the firefight between the Red and Black soldiers and the TSE forces, the TSE Marines are starting to take some slight injuries. The Red and Black soldiers recognize that their line is collapsing, however, and start to fall back, carrying their injured and collecting as much of their materiel as possible, as if trying to avoid identification.

"About time!" Shouts Chen over the comms, as his unit changes position to get a better view of infantry assaulting the Special Forces' position.

"Alright, everyone back on the transport! We got them with their tails between their legs..." Sgt Llewellyn says as he waves his men back into the Traveller, carrying three wounded on stretchers.

The Traveller takes off, zooming North and shooting at the Red Hats the whole way-- the other Tancokravian forces were all falling back, but Red Hats never retreat.

The Red Hats, hopelessly outgunned, are quickly massacred by the beam cannon's deadly rays. 

The remaining T-K's, huddled together behind cover with many injured, establish a base of fire to let most of them fall back, and before long they have all run back into the valley.

Silence came slowly.
The sky started becoming dark.
There is only the cold sound of dark desert winds and the rare sound of very distant gunfire.
"That's all she wrote." Llewellyn says calmly into the comms.
Rabia responds, "Yes, no more Tancokravians in the area. Lets set up positions and wait for the dawn assault."
"Hell," grunts Llewellyn, "I'm fixin' to catch some shut eye before that."