Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Playtest of Sorts (Character Generation)

With the character generation system totally done I think its time to post a character or two.

These are both PCs who other playtesters are playing as in that big playtest campaign I've been talking about.

Notably, both playtesters had a pretty specific character concept (personality, skills, capabilities, etc) in mind... one even made the character in Traveller to compare! Both came out as desired but with lots of detailed history added by the system. Because the generator involves some player choice (what skills to pursue developing, sometimes moral or strategic choices, job choices, etc) its almost like playing an encounter. Doesn't take quite as long, but it is definitely more fun than just rolling some dice to see what your character looks like. Both character were started as Rank 4 Stars. Normally I'd use Rank 3 but Rank 4 provides a good basis for having pretty powerful characters (roughly equivalent to Rep 5 + some encounters experience in New Beginnings) which will fit this campaign as both characters are going to get into some pretty big stuff.

Note also that most of the "story" info is inferred from the generator's results. So I know that Dennis received an injury that gave him the "Slow" attribute after sacrificing his team while serving on a naval vessel during a war... but the player gets to decide that specifically that meant he was ejected into the upper atmosphere of a gas giant from an exploding ship and due to minor suit punctures has had lung problems ever since. Same thing with different units and nations... the generator goes by job type, not specific units. Marine Force Recon would use the same chart as US Army Green Berets, in other words, though if a player feels the need he can modify.

Valdis' sheet has a few extra details given in the timeline due to the player wanting to use the character as a guide to learning the generation system. The other figured it out himself and ran it himself, without my assistance (though using the same format).

So, without further ado:

Name: Valdis Vladimir Travers Cadfael. Common/Nick-name, Personal-Name, Family Name, Clan Name. 
Contact Points (remaining): 4 (3) Enemy Points (Remaining): 8 (5)
QRS: Mercenary/Star Army         Personality: Pragmatic Tribal/Rebellious
Attributes: Star Advantages, Smooth.
Proficiencies: Crime (Covert), Investigation (Tracking)-2, Scholar (Social Sciences), Scholar (Languages)-2, Soldier (Tactics)-2, Streetwise (Culture), Soldier (Marine), Soldier (Grunt), Survival (Jungle). 
Fame: 4  Notoriety: 1
Resources: SMG, BA Pistol, 10 Wealth Points
Rep: 5
Fit: 4
Pep: 3
Sav: 4
Sci: 2
Age 1-15: Vladimir starts as a Rank 4 Star. He grew up on TancoKrav as an Cymri. This minority was persecuted when the True Word took over. Due to his people’ status as a persecuted minority, Vladimir grew up on the streets, learning to move quietly and take without giving.
Age 16: The war between the TancoKravian theocracy and the Twin Suns Empire has been going on for several years. When Vladimir’s city was liberated by Shiloh Rough Riders, Vladimir got a chance to go to school in the TSE. He took this opportunity, planning to return to TancoKrav and destroy the True Word that oppressed his people. Vladimir does well at school, focusing his study on Social Sciences and Investigation. He has trouble making close friends, as his culture and difficult early life are very foreign to most of the other students.
Age 17: Vladimir continues his academic studies, taking some natural science classes to balance his capabilities, learning a bit of several languages, and furthering his study of Investigative Reasoning.
Age 18: Vladimir continues his studies.  Vladimir befriends one of his professors in a science course, Professor Thatcher (2 contact points).
Age 19: More school. Vladimir’s initial difficulty with the social life at the school resulted in his becoming more persuasive. Vladimir’s skill, fitness, and 
Age 20: Last year of school.  Vladimir switches focus to study more military subjects to aid him in his upcoming enlistment. To do so, Vladimir transfers to the TSE Military Academy of New Medina. Vladimir learns the ropes of military service and tactics. In the huge metropolitan capital of New Medina, Vladimir becomes learned in the culture of urban centers across the galaxy.
Out of School—Owes 20 Wealth Points. 
Age 21: Vladimir enlists in the Twin Suns Empire Cymri “Grey Phantoms” Brigade  to fight against the TancoKravian True Word regime, still in power. Basic training goes well, and Vladimir spends his first months of the war in naval security, manning the airlocks and guns of ships in orbit of TancoKrav. Eagerness to get on the ground prevented Vladimir from getting promoted, but he still managed to pick up the fine points of serving as a Naval Marine. However, during his time aboard his bombardment platform he met a TSE Captain, Daniel Haddock ,who had targeted an entire village of civilians… a village of Cymri. The TSE didn’t even investigate the careless war crime, but Vladimir confronted Haddock. Neither would forget each other’s name after this confrontation (Gained enemy, 3 points).
Age 22: Vladimir is slowly transitioned to the front lines. He is shipped down to his home city, now under TSE control. Though technically TSE territory, followers of the True Word continue guerilla attacks. Vladimir sees some minor action but spends most of his time using his investigative skills to seek out IEDs and weapon caches. 
Age 23: Vladimir is moved to the “true” frontline, the tropical equatorial continent of TancoKrav, where followers of the True Words have entrenched themselves in the jungles and small towns. TSE casualties are rising, and they’re not taking any new ground. The war is taking its toll and things are starting to look like they may end in a draw. Vladimir is promoted to Sergeant (R:1) in the field when his squad’s NCO is killed by a sniper. Vladimir earns a medal of valor for his service. 
Age 24: Vladimir serves until the end of the TancoKrav war. Faced with mounting casualties and the cost of shipping armies across interstellar space, TSE chooses to call for peace on the condition that Shiloh and a few small TancoKravian starports become TSE territory. TancoKrav accepts these conditions, as they are minor losses for the inward looking theocracy. (Character’s People) are left behind by the TSE, while Shilohs are upset by their lack of independence after fighting for the TSE for over a decade.  Vladimir himself becomes jaded when he sees his people left to die by the Empire they fought for. (Goes from Idealist Normal to Idealist Tribal). In his last year of the war, Vladimir served the Empire with particular enthusiasm. He gained a highly honorable medal after his entire platoon was wiped out while serving as a shield for retreating TSE forces. Vladimir was promoted to Lieutenant (R:2) as a result, and served until the end of the war in this capacity.
Musters out. (Rank transferred to Merc job, owes no Wealth Points)
Age 25: Vladimir joins up with like-minded Cymri and forms a mercenary outfit, Vladimir, set on colonizing a new world for Cymri. Finding a world on the other side of a recently opened wormhole, the group moves in to colonize. Apparently, the wormhole (or others) had been open before, as the planet is inhabited by primitive humans. The first year on the lungle planet is harsh, focused mainly on survival and establishing simple settlements. 
Age 26: The colonization continues. With settlements now firmly established, it seems that there is now a chance for Cymri to actually have their own homeworld.
Age 27: Unfortunately, the leaders of the mercenary outfit became greedy. Vladimir knew something was wrong when the leaders started enslaving the local tribes and using them as sources of labor and entertainment. When one of the leaders orders Vladimir to shoot all the men and children of a small band of primitive jungle dwellers, Vladimir refuses. He gets a bullet in return. The primitives used the opportunity to kill the leader and rescue Vladimir, who is nursed back to health. Having lost his faith in even his own people, Vladimir decides to go back to TancoKrav and just get revenge on the Followers of the True Word for all that they have caused (Become Pragmatic Tribal).
(Quits job. Gains 1 Contact Point and the pistol on his body… A Taurus P50 Big Ass Pistol, which packs quite a punch)
Age 28: Vladimir becomes the leader (R:3) of a small cell of guerilla fighters in TancoKrav’s capital city. His band performs mostly low-level assassinations on religious, political, and military leaders (often one and the same). The constant danger of this lifestyle hones Vladimir’s abilities as a guerilla fighter, tactician, and spy. However, the band is rarely successful in their attempts… often failing to get the target. But at least they don’t get killed themselves—Vladimir runs his attacks like a military mission, not like a suicide bombing. Unfortunately, these actions do cause the New Macedonian-backed TancoKravian Intelligence Organization to start tracking Vladimir… (gained 5 enemy points)
Age 29: The Game Begins
Current Team: 
 Rank 4 Ganger
 Rank 4 Net Runner
 Rank 5 Assassin
Character #2, who led a somewhat different life, though both are generally in the same category (being ex-soldiers with some good schooling).

Name: Dennis Starburg (Dantil V’Stafir in Viatsi)

Contact Points (Remaining): 7 (3)                         Enemy Points (Remaining): 1

QRS: Mercenary/Star Army                                    Personality: Pragmatic Tribal/Code (Job)

Attributes: Star Advantages, Steely Eyes, Slow (reduced sprint speed), Runt (doesn’t like charging into melee), Smooth (+1d6 Pep)

Proficiencies: Ship’s Crew (Engineer-2, Navigation), Soldier (Grunt-2, Recon, Tactics), Crime (Intimidation), Pilot (Hull:5, Hull:1), Scientist (Physics-2), Scholar (Viatsi Culture), Perform (Violin), Freetrader (Smuggling),

Fame:            3                                                            Notoriety: 3

Resources: $25.

Rep: 4
Fit: 3
Pep: 2
Sav: 4
Sci: 4

Ages 1-17: Dennis grew up on the Viatsi Fleet, son of two human merchants. Growing up on ships provided an instinctive understanding of engines and astronomy.

Age 18: Enlists in Viatsi Naval Infantry (Ztar’m Brigade, for non-Viatsi volunteers) and goes through basic training. His talents get him placed in a special cross-training program.

Age 19: Stays in Viatsi Naval Infantry. Dennis is assigned to an exploration vessel (Laok’ra) as a security guard. He is quickly promoted to lead the small vessel’s security team (R:1). Dennis continued to hone his combat instincts during his stay on the vessel.

Age 20: Dennis attempts to join Viatsi Naval Special Operations, but doesn’t quite make the cut due to lack of covert skills. He continues on in the Infantry, and is assigned to a pirate hunting operation. Ironically, Dennis is assigned to a reconnaissance team and starts learning the skills that prevented him from joining the Commandoes.

Age 21: Dennis’ infantry career gets interesting when the anti-pirate operation expands into an all out war when it is revealed that a faction of Watowees (a reptilian species on the Fringe of human space) is supporting the pirates. Dennis serves on the Sholeev, a missile frigate. Dennis was able to help the Engine crew with his instinctive knowledge of ship engines, but received a light injury when the bridge was damaged by a laser strike. In that attack, one of the pilots was knocked out and Dennis had to bring in his basic training to help pilot the ship. For his heroism, Dennis is given a medal.

Age 22: Dennis continues to serve on board the Sholeev. During a boarding of a incapacitated enemy cruiser, it was found that the reactor was about to overload. Dennis sacrificed his team by staying on the ship so that pirates could not fix the reactor and possibly retake the ship. The ship ultimately exploded, meaning Dennis’ team failed its mission to capture the ship, but Dennis managed to survive the explosion. Due to a suit puncture and being stuck in the clouds of a gaseous planet, Dennis also contracted chronic long problems before being retrieved by search and rescue teams.

Age 23: With the war in its final stages, Dennis is assigned to a sniper team in the final assaults on pirate bases. Due to high success rate, Dennis is promoted (R:2). This eventually puts him in place as the team’s lead sniper, not spotter, as he started. In this position his relative slowness (resulting from poor lung condition) is not nearly as important.

Age 24: With the war over, Dennis decides to go to school to pursue his interest in ships and advanced theoretical physics. Specifically, Dennis is sent to one of the Viatsi’s research ships, where he learns about wormhole theory. He is also a favorite of some of the scientists, who appreciate his love for learning.

Age 25: Dennis continues on in school. He becomes distracted by a romantic relationship with a Viatsi student. Her name is Arial At’Shiran, and though they have since parted, Dennis and her left each other on good terms, separating mostly due to astrographic distance.

Age 26: Dennis continues on in school, though now he is paying with his own money and not the military’s benefits. Dennis’ scientific pursuits are somewhat interrupted by his need to learn more about Viatsi culture to truly interface with the professors at a higher level.

Age 27: Dennis continues in school, focusing his studies on practical applications of physics; ship engines and navigaton.

Age 28: Dennis continues on in school but shifts away from science for a year to focus on expanding his piloting abilities, specifically to piloting fighters.

Age 29: Dennis spends his final year of school studying as hard as he can to become a competent theoretical physicist. Though he accomplished this goal, he also managed to find the time to pick up violin from a New Meccan physicist who was working with the Viatsi on a wormhole research project.

Age 30: With all of his learning done and plenty of experience on ships and in combat, Dennis Starburg decides to sign up with one of the independent Viatsi captains and serve in a Free Company. He ends up working as smuggler on Mai’m 5, a small freighter, under Q’ran V’Shoris, a stern, quiet freelancer of a man. Dennis gains his respect and is quickly promoted (R:1).

Age 31: After a highly successful year of smuggling, Dennis and the crew blow money on a trip to Paradise Station.

Age 32: The crew hunts down a large bounty on a New Macedonian pirate. Dennis is promoted (R:2)

Age 33: Game begins; Dennis decides to captain his own ship.

Current Team
 Rank 4 Mercenary
 Rank 4 Mercenary
 Rank 3 Mercenary

I know this doesn't offer much info on the mechanics of the generator, but hopefully it acts as a good teaser. Fundamentally its a system where you choose a job, roll a die against a skill/proficiency combo to see if you get in, roll for an event, follow the directions, and get your rewards (a chance to get a skill or proficiency, money, etc). You then roll for a chance of having a personal event, which can be anything from an injury to a new attribute to contact points. Its pretty simple, the cool part is just how much there is in it... so many professions, so many events, so many choices, and all that up to the player's interpretation when designing a character.

Other update: Tweaking ship design (making crew/cargo spaces scale appropriately to ship size, and tweaking weapons to work with that) and going to run a few playtests with different possible ship design tweaks, and after that its just finishing the campaign/encounter system.

Friday, August 31, 2012

August Update

Been awhile since an update.

Been busy working on campaign rules for 5150 Fringe Space, as well as playtesting them.

I'll probably do a small playtest campaign entirely 'on the blog' soon, and at that point the rules will be finished.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Unification War Batrep

May 2, 2511
Alliance forces, led by General Richard Wilkins, start making their push through the Serenity Valley with the ultimate objective of taking out Independent air defenses. The Independents are operating with defense in depth... as the Alliance begins its assault, looking to push by Independent positions to meet up with a deep flanking group, the Browncoats are merely causing casualties to slow the enemy down and then falling back.

Browncoats hiding in the rocks before the Alliance attack.

The reserves and command team for this Browncoat position,  hiding behind a fold in the ground.

Overview of the defensive position. Surrounded by cliffs on both sides, the Alliance is forced to come through the woods to the North or the scrub to the Northwest. Neither is much of a match for the Independent trench and rocky cover-- a strong defensive line.

Alliance Purplebellies start their approach into the valley.

A squad moves up through the woods.

They advance to the tree line while the other Alliance soldiers move in from the Northwest.

Some context: The Alliance along the tree line and the Purplebellies coming in from the Northwest.

A fire team from the Command Squad moves up through the scrub to provide a crossfire with the squad in the woods. The Browncoats spot this group and make them duck back, while the group in the forest takes some casualties... they manage to knock out two of the Browncoats in the trench. One falls back with a casualty, the other (with an Assault Rifle/Grenade Launcher) holds the line, pinning down the Purplebellies in the forest as well.

Some of the reserves move up to the trenches under the cover of the grenade launcher.

The fire team hiding in the rocks moves up to the Eastern flank of the woods and assaults the pinned Alliance troops.

They manage to take out the entire squad... a big dent in the attacker's forces. Soon the Browncoats will fall back... can't take too many casualties themselves!

The Purplebellies in the scrub try to get a fix on the hidden Browncoats in the trench... they do, this time. Though they are pushed back under cover by the soldiers in the trench, they manage to get a fix on their position, allowing the Lieutenant to throw a seeker grenade at the trench.

Half of the fire team in the woods tries to bomb the Alliance troops, but they fail to kill any. Meanwhile, an Alliance squad falls back to retake the woods from the North.

That squad is ambushed by the two remaining Browncoats, who OOF one Purplebelly. 

The Browncoats are hit by the Seeker, which takes out another 3 soldiers. The Browncoats in the forest fall back to the original defensive line.

The Alliance advances through the scrub, taking casualties but pushing back the Browncoats.

The last few Browncoats to have not escaped off the table (none were left behind in this fight!)  at their fall back position. They were able to escape with no further casualties. 

A good defense for the Browncoats... the Alliance took more casualties and were severely slowed down.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Project Myrmidon: Part 1

(The following batrep/playtest uses the Standard Vector Movement rules, a simplified form of the Flight Simulator Vector Movement rules. As can be seen, they allow larger skirmishes to be played with greater ease.)
Two weeks ago Project Myrmidon had its first live fire trial. The opfor was played by Task Force Ada, a small Star Navy fleet tasked with patrolling and policing the Second Ring. This force was not aware of Project Myrmidon, and every precaution was taken to ensure that no crewmen could reveal anything with regards to Project Myrmidon's nature or existence after the fact.

This report gives a brief summary of the trial, as revealed through transcripts of Task Force Ada's communications and

*Task Force Ada, this is Star Navy Command, Ring 2. The secrecy of this mission is of the upmost importance. A fleet of modified Star Navy ships have been harassing colonies in the area with electronic warfare. Eliminate the fleet at all costs-- we don't know what it is, but for all we know this is the vector for the next big computer virus.*

Project Myrmidon Prototype RIEApC-2 ("Reaper" as the programming experts have started to call it).

Reaper chose to stay in a slow moving, tight formation in order for its defense platforms to be able to protect the entire fleet from enemy missiles.

*Action in the Second Ring? Never thought  we'd have to use maneuvers of this scale her-* *-Cut the chatter, Outlaw. Launching all Interceptors.* *All pilots, make sure to not veer too far off formation at this point. It is important that you stay within the Interceptor protected zone.*

*Keep accelerating, Task Force.* *Kingmaker this is Deadwood, I'm picking up a dense mass of  IR signatures.* *Can you designate, Deadwood?* *Negative, Kingmaker. Don't seem to have life support but it could just be relatively stealthy engineer.*

*Deadwood, this is Outlaw. Look at how those ships are flying!* *Yeah! Perfectly synced. Almost as if...* *Its one animal.* *Whoa, just noticed a battleship's signature in that clump.* *Forget that, Kingmaker, those fighters just launched too many missiles for our targeting computers to track* *STATIC* *Kingmaker?*
 Reaper managed to see a hole in the interceptors... blocked only by the lone Star Navy battleship. Reaper managed to hack into the battleship and turn off all the PDS, allowing a salvo of missiles, fired from attack platforms, to severely damage the battleship and destroy a frigate.
*Disable those PDS frigates, Deadly. We'll hit them with our missiles once their defenses are down.* *Aye aye!*

This was possibly Reaper's first tactical mistake, though the resourcefulness and skill of the Electronic Warfare specialists of Task Force Ada are also to blame. Losing two thirds of the PDS platforms before making contact with the Interceptors left much of Reaper's fleet useless against the high number of small targets and the heavily armored large targets. That said, Reaper had no way of knowing that Task Force Ada had so few torpedoes and such a high number of PDS, guided cannon, and laser weapons. Making Reaper more adaptable and able to predict such details will be a big step towards taking Reaper out of the prototype phase and into regular use. The programming specialists are right now looking at updating Reaper to not only think tactically but to be able to predict the sort of weapons needed on a given mission and even design systems to produce them autonomously.

*Outlaw, we're going in for our assault.*

*Watch out, Deadly, they're coming out to meet you!* *Those missile buses are going to ram us if we don't stop 'em!*

*Savage, watch out for that PD-- STATIC* *This is Deadly, we just evaded one drone but three others are closing in fast... we can't escape! They've got us! Shi--STATIC* *Alright, we're hightailing.* *Same here. Good luck Ada, Interceptors are outta here.* *This is Outlaw, watch out Interceptors. One PDS Frigate left. Engaging with all weapons.* *You got him! Thanks for the assist!*
 Those Interceptors had their comms cut soon after and were marked as potentially dangerous meteorites. All were incinerated when they reached their fall back planet.

*Whoa, Kingmaker just incinerated!* *Outlaw, this is Overseer. Do not engage that battleship, we just took control of it.* *Then why did it just explode?!?* *Must be a fail-safe against computer take over.* *Thats it! Everyone focus on hacking that carrier. Its the only ship in the position to command these two cruisers, if they're drones.* *Why else would they kamikaze?* *Aye.*

Sure enough, the cruisers hacked into the carrier, the back up after the main Reaper platform self destructed. The rest of the fleet was self destructed, while the remnants of Task Force Ada were given falsified starcharts and redirected into the nearest star. 

Overall, this was a success for Project Myrmidon. Though Task Force Ada ultimately prevailed, it was largely through unexpected resourcefulness and luck. Another view would be that Project Myrmidon lost only one intelligent life on this day, while Ada lost hundreds. With some adjustments to the Reaper program to allow Reaper to think more strategically and learn from mistakes, I think that some of the design mistakes that we humans made will no longer be issues during the next live fire trial.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

They're Going To Make A Big Star Outta Me

As noted in the post "Flight School," 5150 Fringe Space will ultimately include 3 different movement systems. These are tentatively called:
1) Flight Simulation Movement (as seen in Flight School and several playtests)
2) Standard Vector Movement (heavily simplified but same basic ideas)
3) Cinematic Movement

Today I wrote the Cinematic Movement and tested it.

Cinematic Movement is nothing new or particularly innovative (neither is Standard Vector Movement, to be honest-- its pretty straight forward vector movement like seen in most games that include  vector movement. It is the Flight Simulation Movement, with its various types of movement, that is most unique IMO). This is a good thing; it plays like someone would expect if they've ever seen Star Wars or played Battlefleet Gothic or similar games.

The goal of having these different movement systems is to reflect two variables. One, whether the player wants a setting where movement is cinematic or more realistic (Cinematic vs. Vector). Two, whether the player likes to focus a bit more on movement or to focus more on the other aspects of space combat (Standard Vector vs. Flight Simulation).

That said, everything else is kept the same-- activation, shooting, and non-movement actions are all identical. The purpose of this playtest was to see if everything translated, keeping the feel of Fringe Space while modifying the rules to better reflect a particular vision of the future (or the distant past, in this case).

There are a few places where some fundamentals outside of movement within an encounter have changed for different movement systems. In both vector movement systems, fuel is consumed pretty frequently. To better meet the expectations of a Cinematic game, fuel is only used in campaign turns and by Turboboosts in the cinematic movement system.

Here we have the Millenium Falcon (a fairly standard corvette with 2 Medium Cannons) facing off against two X Wings (Space Superiority Fighter, a fairly standard fighter with light armor and two light cannons) and a Y Wing (Heavy Fighter that is low on mobility and dogfighting ability but has fair armor and a Light Laser + 2 Missiles).

Why the odd match? These aren't Rebels, they're bounty hunters sent by Jabba who happen to have Rebel equipment. (Just play the game.)

The ships start off just at the edge of weapon range... the Millennium Falcon senses the fighters first, but its shots all miss and have no effect.

The fighters use Turboboost to zoom to the Millennium Falcon to initiate a Dogfight. The Millennium Falcon keeps up the fire on the X Wings, but the X Wings take Evasive Maneuvers and close on the Falcon unscathed. The Y Wing performs a Sensor Targeting action to steady its aim, and then releases its payload on the Falcon but the Falcon is able to dodge, as well, and the Laser fails to penetrate.

The X Wings initiate a dogfight. One of the X Wings is heavily damaged and the pilot is knocked out of the fight. This causes the other X Wing to be knocked, causing some negative effects next turn.

Dogfight begins.

Han Solo does some great piloting and is able to keep the smaller, more nimble X Wing from getting a good shot.

However, the X Wing is able to stay out of Chewie's fire as well.

Looks like neither of them is going to come out on top...

The next turn, the Millenium Falcon has a bad activation roll and chooses to drift forward-- better to use the one action for repairs or electronic warfare. The X Wing slows down and nearly turns on a dime to hit the Falcon from behind. The Y Wing zig-zags around the Falcon to hit it from the side.

The X Wing, due to the Knock from last turn, is unable to initiate its own dogfight, but can participate in the dogfight initiated by the Y Wing (at -2d6). The Millennium Falcon fails to successfully shoot down its pursuers as they close in.

Unfortunately for our heroes, Han is not very good at 5150 Wing Leader, and doesn't do too well on his dogfight rolls.

The Y Wing and X Wing poor accurate fire onto the Falcon's systems. Both Han and Chewie are knocked out as their ship is shaken by the torrent of fire. The engine is damaged, the computers are offline. The ship is Severely Damaged. Surely, our heroes will be captured and taken to Jabba... but, at least so far, Jabba has been forgiving... 

Conclusion: The game works well. Its interesting that the same stats, interpreted in different ways, still result in a playable system that actually felt more or less the same (excepting fuel and vector movement). Hopefully this will be good news for people who like the scale and style of Fringe Space but prefer cinematic movement.

The game does play pretty differently, though. In similar play tests under the Flight Simulation rules, the Millenium Falcon usually wins, or at least it is much closer in either direction. I think this is because normally the Antimatter Drives would have taken one more turn to reach the Millenium Falcon (in which the Falcon could have fired on the fighters) and then they would have just had one turn of passing Dogfighting before they had to spend a turn or two trying to turn around with conventional engines.

This effectively means that small maneuverable ships are a bit more effective in Cinematic play than in Flight Sim. That is a good thing, as it fits the Cinematic feel, though I did not expect it at first.

Of course, the good guys usually win in Cinema. It should be noted that I made all the sides have equally elite crews (5s for all crew stats). In "Real" Star Wars, Han Solo and Chewie are much better than some two bit bounty hunters, so they might have won. I did also roll poorly, and did not use any Star Advantages.

A batrep using the Standard Vector Movement will be posted later tonight or tomorrow. I'm going a bit bigger for that game... 61 Hull Points per side. This game had 3. Should be interesting... for me, the big reason to use the Standard Vector Movement is if you want to play a larger (still smaller than Star Navy) combat with several battleships and escort squads to a side, possibly with some of the more detailed special rules (AI ships, for example...) while keeping the game time down and the brain power required at a nice level. Of course, what is a big battle for me might be a MASSIVE battle for someone who's never played a space combat game, so Standard Vector Movement might be their go to even for one on one combats.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Flight School

This post is to explain the most advanced movement rules in 5150 Fringe Space. These rules are for those players who want to be put into the pilot's seat. There will also be a heavily simplified vector movement system (without different drive types, for example) for those who like vector movement but not being a pilot, and also a "cinematic" movement system that reflects the sort of movement seen in Star Wars and 5150: Wing Leader. This will allow players to pick the system most appropriate to their tastes and setting, while still  being able to use the RPG, combat, and campaign rules in Fringe Space.
"We're only 120,000km out from Base Delta-two four, BBnG," said Joss Sackbag, the pilot of the Nirvana (Speed 8 Mobility 4).
"That's good. I've been looking forward to Bob's Bar and Grill all day. Best darn sauce in the 3rd Ring,"said Ted Yew, owner and definitely-not-pilot of the Nirvana.
"Don't get too excited, its your turn to be designated driver."
"Drive? I don't know how to drive a space ship!"
"Its simple!"
"Simple? Its all vectors and fuel and engines! Why doesn't the computer just go where I tell it?"
"Hey now," Joss stood up and pushed Ted into the seat, "just sit down and I'll show you how its done."
Ted looked at the array of buttons, levers, and screens that lay before him. In the center was a large green button. "This is why only weirdos pilot ships."
"Hush, now. Alright, see that button over there? Thats the main drives..."
*NOTE: Where measurements are made in centimeters, they may also be made in inches. In Fringe Space they will be listed as inches but with a note that it is also possible to use centimeters for those who prefer it. I personally do, as it makes the games larger.*
There are 4 types of movement in Fringe Space:
1) Main Drives, which adds (up to) your Speed to your current velocity in the direction facing away from the main drives (in other words, forwards). Some of the main drives that really give you that extra kick can take awhile to accelerate, however, so this sort of movement has a delay-- you only add half of your speed on the first turn of movement. This is easily seen by using two markers (or just remembering for a half second), one to represent this turn's movement, the other to represent next turn's movement.
2) Turning. A ship may turn 45˚ for each Mobility. For simplicity, turning is not maintained across turns, unlike velocity.
3) Maneuver Thrusters. A ship may add one cm of speed in any direction per Mobility. As these are quick little bursts of energies and not a slow but steady acceleration, this is all applied at once, unlike the Main Drives.
4) Antimatter Drives, which work like Main Drives but are three times as fast. They cost 3x or more fuel, depending on the skill of your engineer. This makes them good for running away or surprising your opponent.

Where things get interesting is that, in a given turn, movement types 1-3 can be combined. 4 is a separate action that may not be combined with other movement types.
Here are the ways moves can be combined:
A) A ship may use Maneuver Thrusters and Main Drives at the same time. However, the Maneuver Thrusters facing forward are taken into account in Speed already, so when doing this combination, maneuver thrusters may only be applied sideways. Backwards is theoretically allowed, but you would never do it because it would have the same effect as just thrusting without using all speed.
B) A ship may Turn while using Main Drives at the same time. This is effectively the same as thrusting with 3/4 speed (rounded for simplicity) in the "middle" angle of the turn. For example, if I have Speed 8 and Mobility 4, I may turn my ship around and apply 6" of speed to the 90 degree angle between "forwards" and "backwards," AKA "sideways."
C) A ship may Turn and THEN use Maneuver Thrusters, or vice versa, but not both at the same time. If my ship is Mobility 4, then I may turn 45˚ and change my velocity by 3cm in any direction.
D) A ship may turn and THEN use Main Drives, or vice versa. This works similar to C. Instead of getting 1cm per Mobility not used for turning, you get the equivalent fraction of Speed. For example, with a Speed 8, Mobility 4 ship, I may turn 90˚ and then accelerate 4cm. This is because I have half of my Mobility unused, and so may use half of my speed.

In theory, some very complex maneuvers can be performed by a high performance ship with an experienced player. In this way, Fringe Space is like a flight sim. That said, most of the time a player can get the same effect by using one of the basic moves, though it may mean that in subsequent turns the ship isn't faced quite the way a skilled pilot would have faced it. In that way, Fringe Space is a game that is accessible.

In my own experience, Main Drives are used to set the "flow" of your ships, Turning and Maneuvers are used to keep the enemy in sight of your weapons and adjust velocity for the changing shape of the battle, and Antimatter Drives are used in daring game changing moments-- be they a sudden retreat or a ship far off from the main battle suddenly zooming in to rescue its beleaguered allies.

(Note that in play I only use one marker per ship/group... I don't find the nickel to be necessary, as it is immediately replaced by a ship or moved itself, but it helps when explaining photographs).

Alright, we'll start with the basics... the main drive.

Our ship is Speed 8, so its velocity at the end of the turn will be 8 in front of the ship (the penny)... but, the ship will only move 4 of those in the turn of acceleration, as the Main Drives take awhile to build up the speed (the nickel). 

To show this, the penny is put 8 in front of the nickel, instead of 4, while the nickel remains only 4 in front of the ship. Move the ship to the nickel...

... and then the nickel to the penny.

Bob's Bar and Grill is still thousands of km out, so we're going to drift for awhile. put the penny 8 in front of the nickel-- the same distance between the ship and the nickel. The nickel marks where our ship will be after this movement phase, and the penny represents its velocity for subsequent turns. 

While we're drifting, turn the ship around... put the ship on the penny and turn it 45˚ for every mobility. Nirvana is pretty agile, so she'll be doing a 180˚ in this turn. Note that the penny doesn't move-- we did not change course, just facing. 
At the start of the next turn, we still have 8 velocity towards the Bar, but we're facing the opposite direction.

Now we're going to start doing some fancy stuff. Use the Maneuver Drives to change course--  up to 4 in any direction. 

This marks our new destination for the turn, after the adjustment.

Another view...

The ship is moved to its destination (the nickel), while the destination marker (the penny) is moved an equal distance in the same direction. 

See? You're already flying backwards and using two drive types! Now for something really crazy....

Spin the ship around while the main drive is thrusting! As you can see, the ship is flipped around again, but the destination marker will be moved 3 "up," the middle angle of our turn.

As the main drives were the cause of the change in destination, on subsequent turns the velocity will actually be adjusted by 6 up, not 3 (this is shown by the penny.

The ship is moved to the destination for this turn while the penny is moved  the same way, but keeping the extra 3 change. This means our ship moved almost exactly "right" this turn, but will in subsequent turns move on a slight diagonal, "up-right."

We're getting close to the Grill! I can almost taste that sauce! 
The Nickel decides it can't wait with the ship and charges towards the delicious BBQ.

Alright, now we're going to turn 45˚ to line our ship up with the dock (note that in the actual game you don't need to do this as all very close range movement is abstracted). We'll use our remaining 3 mobility to adjust our course to get closer to the dock.

After the course is adjusted, the ship is moved, as is the destination marker (from the penny to the nickel, switching things up a bit).

Nickel is confused-- he thought what Nirvana and he had was special.

Things are back to normal.

The next turn the ship uses mobility to slow down enough that, combined with the close proximity and proper facing, Nirvana may initiate docking procedures.

 "Okay, I think I get it!" Ted said.
"Good, I'm just looking forward to BBQ and Bourbon at this point..."
"Just one more question," Ted asked, "What does this big green button do?"
"Well that-"
"Initiates docking procedures, right? Boy, I'm picking this up fast!" Ted pressed the button.
"What?!? NO!!!"
Joss and Ted are pressed against their seats as the Antimatter Drives kick in, propelling the ship away from the Bar and Grill....
Here we see the ship being moved to the penny (12), while the velocity marker is placed at twice that distance from the  penny (the nickel). Note that in the actual game the ship can just be moved to a marker and then the marker can be moved twice that distance; two markers are not needed, even for Main/Antimatter Drives.

Joss sat, stunned, as the delicious BBQ of Bob's Bar and Grill, just a moment ago only meters away, suddenly was just a distance star behind his ship. 
Ted broke the silence, "... I guess I won't be designated driver, then."