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[Traveller] Transhuman Traveller (Part 2)

Part of a series of meditations on how to crossover Traveller: Interstellar Wars with GURPS: Transhuman Space

1) The United Nations

Let’s straight away tackle the big incongruity: in Transhuman Space the UN collapses in 2034, in Interstellar Wars it becomes a world state until the end of the 2070s.

Those two things seem to not work together that well, but it helps to read on a bit. The IW version of the UN has a near collapse in the same time the TS one has one. So that even fits into the timeline. Further, as it turns out when reading Fifth Wave (the Earth-sourcebook) the UN actually still exists (even if a lot of people don’t really realize that) because some of it’s institutions are too useful to just let them go. Like the World Court.
Not only that, but they actually managed to increase in power and will in some cases hire their own soldiers to do policing in some places. That… is actually pretty far from being as powerless as they are  described in the original book. Still, they are far from the world government they are described as in IW. So let’s do it like that: The UN still exists, but has barely any impact on anything the great powers do. It does however have peacekeeping functions in war zones, has the world court, and has among other things, it’s own small space force and research wing. Now, nobody is really taking them serious right now, and that is because of…

 

2) the Jump-drive

You see, despite all political misgivings the UN has invested a large amount of money into developing a technology most other companies and nations have deemed almost completely impractical: the jump-drive.

The first successful tries with this new technology were actually in the 2080s, and they work. They allow travel between different places in the same solar system in similar (or even better) times as normal He3-powered drives, in some cases even faster. The problem with it are:

  1. it’s fuel-guzzling and non-standard. Ships build for it would have to be completely rebuild with an expensive lithium-matrix throughout their ships and carry inordinate amounts of hydrogen around (fuel cells in this universe are not yet as effective as they would be later, theywere supplanted by He3 before they could take off)
  2. the places it can jump from are limited (100 planetary diameters is a LOT in a single-solar system setting)
  3. you have to spend a week in a place nobody knows anything about, strange things might lurk in jump-space and, frankly, nobody knows what it will do to people using it

So it’s a nice technology, but you can’t DO anything with it, yet.

This changes in the late 2090s. Finally getting the funds for an interstellar experiment the UN research wing manages to create a flight-path for a vessel that will lead them, via a brown dwarf that was recently discovered, to Barnard’s Star.

Which, of course, leads to the first meeting between Terrans and Vilani.

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[Traveller] Transhuman Traveller (Part 1)

Transhuman Space

The last few months I have been thinking about welding together the GURPS Transhuman Space and GUPRS Traveller Interstellar Wars settings into a more or less coherent whole. And then to convert it to Mongoose Traveller because I like the ruleset better. Why should I have it easy after all?

Transhuman Space is a very interesting setting postulating how life might be at the end of the 21st century, in a world where most changes that affected mankind have been more or less revolutionary, but not catastrophic. There hasn’t been any really large war, disaster, or plague, humans haven’t all of a sudden learned to use Psi-powers, aliens are not known, at least none that are extraterrestrial in origin. The setting is limited to the solar system. This does not mean the things that happen are not quite amazing. It basically takes all the developments of the last few years, extrapolates a hundred years into the future, and then runs with the results.
Interstellar Wars on the other hand is a Traveller setting/milieu. It describes the time from the first meeting of Earth and Vilani at the end of the 21st century, to the ill-fated Rule of Man.

Notice something? Both are quite nicely overlapping in parts of the setting. The Transhuman Space setting has a timeline that goes roughly up to the first meeting of the two races according to OTU history.

Interstellar Wars has a bit of a problem with the fact that it’s description of Earth in that time is rather bland and unimaginative. That is rooted in the origins of the system in the 1970s, and the fact that this early history was originally part of another game (Imperium).
So, what I am going to do is try to weld both of them together. Oh, and try to update both settings to our current real life timeline while I am at it. TS was published in 2002, and therefore is fairly recent, but they still miss the mark on a few things. IW, despite the fact that it’s groundworks were laid earlier, is actually a bit better: it just never goes that deep into detail about the solar system.

So, lets see…

[Traveller] Freelance Traveller #33 now available

Freelance Traveller #33 CoverThe September 2012 issue of Freelance Traveller has been posted for
download.

This month’s feature article is “Underworld Characters”, an expanded
character generation procedure by Harry Bryan for MegaTraveller.

We also have the usual assortment of reviews, stories, items, and so  onto make your Traveller universe richer and more interesting.

Download this latest issue at our usual places:
http://www.freelancetraveller.com/magazine/ is our main site; at our mirror, http://freelancetraveller.downport.com , please select the linkto “Magazine Downloads” or click on the image of this month’s cover.

… containing, among other things of more solemn nature, also a short article by me…

[Perry Rhodan] Perry Rhodan #1 Operation Stardust

PR #1 cover

Perry Rhodan is THE mainstay of German science fiction. Now in it’s fourth or fifth generation of authors and having broken the mark of 2600 issues in it’s main series (continually published since 1961) one can say that this pulp series has a bit of a history.
The series was often derided for it’s politically inappropriate tone (especially in the beginning it was a bit too militaristic) but has grown out of that over time.
What I am trying to do (and what I have been planning for some time already) is reviewing the series from it’s beginnings in 1961 as far as I come. I don’t think I will ever manage to get anywhere close to today, but the classic first 50-100 issues are  interesting anyway. Back in the 60s this series was a bit of a experiment for the publishers, and they never thought that the series would be as successful as it was in the end. The first issue was sold out in no time and they even had to reprint it, before the series settled into something of a cultural miracle. One can see that in the series itself: they obviously did not plan more than 15 issues in the beginning, then not more than 30, and then they slowly had to get used to the idea that they were in it for longer. Starting with issue 100 the authors earnestly followed the concept of thematic cycles of 50 to 100 (later even up to 200) issues. In the beginning these things were not as planned, the plots sometimes were a bit crude, and the writing varied wildly even in novels from the same authors.
[Note regarding publishing history: in the wake of the success of Perry Rhodan in Germany a few novels were published in English as well (up to the 150s or so, there also are translations into Dutch, Portuguese (in Brazil), Japanese, and a few other places]
[Note 2: This is a roleplaying blog, so I will comb the issue for some ideas that can be used in roleplaying games. Perry Rhodan actually had multiple RPGs created for itself, some by fans, but one even officially. The problem with that official game is that it is based on Midgard (the first German RPG) and that one is, while I have a certain nostalgic fondness for it, pretty bad for that. As I am very fond of Mongoose Traveller most stats I will cook up will be for that system]

Perry Rhodan #1 Unternehmen “Stardust” (Operation Stardust)

“They came from the depths of the galaxy. Nobody ever expected them.”
Plot: It is 1971 and the USA is just about to win the space race. The newly created atomic rocket Stardust under command of experienced astronaut Cmdr. Perry Rhodan starts it’s trip from the spacport Nevada Fields to the moon. Everything goes well until they are close to their goal. All of a sudden the navigational transmissions from home are cut off, and only due to Perry’s quick reflexes they are able to crashland on the lunar surface more or less intact. Trying to contact homebase fails though as their radio equipment is destroyed by an unknown force.
Exploring the origin of this problem Perry and his friend Reginald “Bully” Bull encounter a stranded starship of impressive size (a sphere of 500m diameter) on the south pole of the moon and meet it’s crew, or at least part of it. The captain of the ship, Thora, and her relative, the scientist Crest are by far the most active of the crew members. The rest of the Arkonides on the ship are lethargic and distant and, as it turns out, completely addicted to virtual reality games. The ship itself is on a mission to find a cure for Crest’s sickness (soon to be identified by Stardust’s doctor Eric Manoli as leukemia, for which a cure exists on Earth) but was stranded with a busted jump drive when investigating the solar systems for clues. Perry takes the Stardust home with Crest on board to get him treatment, but instead of in Nevada Fields he lands in the Gobi desert because he realizes that the technology of the Arkonides should not fall into the hands of any of the big power blocs.

Critique: The plot is tightly packed, the writing is a bit shallow but not too bad, and the whole story does hinge on completely reasonable behaviour by both the American astronauts and Arkonides. It’s no wonder that the series became a success with this. There is action here but no fights, the Arkonides are not made up to be evil invaders, but rather normal people who are stranded, far away from home, and the astronauts are thoughtful and nice folks who offer to help as freely as possible,
The novel also manages to get to some central mysteries of the series pretty soon (why are the Arkonides so similar to humans? And what exactly were they searching for when they became stranded?) and manages to give an insight into both alien culture as well as a strange alternative universe. The novel appeared in 1961 and was set in 1971. For us who we are living 50 years afterwards this glimpse into near future history appears a weird. On the one hand it’s close enough for us to recognize the world as what we know it, on the other hand even in this novel thereare some strange details. The main spaceport of the USA is Nevada Fields, both Perry and Bully were involved in slingshot missions around the moon before the moon landing was supposed to take place. And the politics of the world… are somehow not what we know.
When I first read the novel as a kid in the 90s I realized that something was off, only on further readings I realized how different the world described here really was: the world is basically divided into three power blocs: the Western world, the Eastern Bloc, and the Asian Federation (which includes both China and Japan). There is a cure for leukemia, there are electronic brains (computers) even on Earth, which manage to correctly determine things they should not be able to. Later novels will show a large subterranean base for the West under Greenland and Poles as integral members of the airforce of the Eastern bloc. In other words: something is kind of odd here. Still, as a near future view from the 60s on the 70s it’s not too far out. Just a bit zeerusty.

Traveller Stats

Terra (in 1971) X867979-7
1970s Terra in the Perry Rhodan universe is balkanised into three big power blocs, and multiple smaller nations. These blocs seem to be much more integrative than they ever were in real life. Law level is rather high in any case, even in the West the press is not as free as it could be and obviously dependant on the goodwill of the government. Still, it varies wildly in different areas. Starport quality technically could be D because there are multiple facilities that could be used (at least one spaceport in every power bloc) but so far no officially assigned starport.

Luna X300000-0
An airless rockball that orbits Terra. It is comparatively large in comparison to other moons in the solar system.

Arkonides, Homeworld- (1970s)
Physical description: large, slender humanoids with white hair and red eyes, in most cases with a deep tan. Their cranium is slightly larger than those of Terrans and instead of ribs they have bone plates, but otherwise they are physiologically and genetically identical to humans.
Stats: Str -2, Dex -2, Int +1, Edu +2, Soc +2 (min. 6)
Career Options: Arkonides can choose Agent, Citizen, Scholar, Navy(Line/Flight), Entertainer, and Noble careers

Arkonides, Colonial-
Physical description: as Homeworld, but can vary wildly in details according to their home planet and colonial history
Stats: Str -1, Soc +1
Career Options: all except Merchant

 

[Traveller] TL 11 Robot Horses

I had some time the last few days. I spent some days in the mountains with my girlfriend, just us, with cold showers and no internet or phone reception. And only one computer. Yeah, we should have no computer at all and enjoy the countryside, but I guess we are too addicted to our technology. Lots of fun was had because of a document we had to send at the beginning of the week: we went to the only open hotspot in the town downhill. But that hotspot didn’t want to connect to our devices. So we had to use an unsecured other hotspot in the backyard of an insurance agency a local pointed us to. When did wifi hotspots become so important to us that we can trade them in casual conversation?

I planned my Traveller campaign a bit better though, and considering the Wild West vibe I try to give it I decided to create some windowdressing for it: robot horses. Because what says space western more than robotic horses?

Yes, I was inspired by Bravestarr and the likes.

The problem came with the method I tried to create them with: I tried to use the Robot book for Mongoose Traveller, and that didn’t work as well as imagined. The Robot book is basically for people who want to play robots or droids, while this one was mostly for the sake of background material. I guess one could play it as a character though.

Robot Horses (TL11): On some worlds where the environmental situation is adverse and where roads cannot be constructed reliably (often desert or agricultural worlds with low population) robot horses are being used in lieu of real animals. While real horses and other animals are definitely cheaper they also can be affected by different biological and environmental agents.

Robot horses, often more a gimmick in the beginning, can be used to replace those. There is no actual reason for them to have the typical form of horses, but as they are most often brought in as a replacement for already existing animals in the beginning, they often keep these traits even after they have replaced their inspirations.
They do have some features that keep them in use despite their expense and gimmicky nature though: they are able to move through areas inpassable by many other vehicles, they are more intelligent and obedient than real animals, able to perform independent actions, can be used for both transport and other menial tasks, and they do not need food.

One of the more interesting things about them for planets with comparatively low tech level is the low tech level of most components. Only a few absolutely necessary components of the robot have to be produced off world, most of the robot can be serviced by a more or less talented mechanic.

TexTech RoboSteed Basic (TL 11)
Characteristics: Str B, Hull 4, Structure 4, Int 3 (-1)
Skills:
Body: Size 4 long basic frame, Size 4 sprawling legs
Armour: 6
Input/Output: basic optics, audio sensor, basic vocoder, tactile sensor
Gadgets: satellite GPS
Computer: Linear CPU, memory stick TL9 1x, inhibitor
Software: PP 1
Cost: 23,900 credits

Pretty much everything about the basic version is rather, well, basic. Most of the contents can be replaced easily even in an TL8 environment. The satellite GPS is TL9 and if broken is often left like this. The tactile sensor is TL10 and might need to be replaced with a completely new unit if broken. The most high tech in the robot is the software, which brings the robot up to TL11, other than that most of it can be serviced locally even technologically moer basic areas.

TexTech RoboSteed Deluxe (TL13)
Characteristics: Str B, Hull 4, Structure 4, Int 3 (-1)
Skills:
Body: Size 4 long basic frame, Size 4 sprawling legs
Armour: 6
Input/Output: basic optics, audio sensor, basic vocoder, tactile sensor
Gadgets: inertial GPS, faux biological cover
Computer: Serial CPU, memory stick TL10 1x, inhibitor
Software: PP 2
Cost: 30.000 credits (special offer!)
The deluxe version of the RoboSteed was introduced with big fanfare but remained unsuccessful: it’s too high tech to allow proper maintenance at the low-medium techlevel RoboSteeds are usually employed  in. In most cases it is an expensive status symbol for people with money, rarely it is being used in productive settings. Most people would just use regular horses as a status symbol though.

[Traveller] Satboys

Vela 5B in Orbit

Vela 5B in Orbit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Satboys
Needed: planet with low to mid tech level and/or low population

Artifical satellites are one of the main tools of interstellar civilization. Often they are one of the first important steps for low tech civilizations to become technologically advanced, and be it only through the use of better communication technology than before. Consequently it’s a common sidejob many spaceship captains do when asked: just bring a small satellite up there for the greater good and a few extra creds.
Greg Winchester is someone with a plan: the only thing that stands between him and riches is the fact that his company does not have the facilities to launch some recently acquired TL 10 satellites into space. And that’s how the characters come in: some interested people are needed to get the satellites up into orbit with either their own ship, or with a chartered tram freighter that sometimes comes through. Easy enough, wouldn’t it be?

Complications:

  1. Everything is as presented, the only differences are of mechanical nature
  2. There is a rival to Greg’s company, and these people long had the same plan that he had. Their methods are a bit different though. They have hired a small team to make life diffcult for the characters.
  3. as 2. but the people hired are supposed to depose of them in orbit. No satellites means nobody around to trace back a murder or two in orbit
  4. Coincidence as it may be, but there is already a satellite in that orbit. Although not known down below the government does like to keep tabs on it’s citizens/spy satellites are in high use on this balkanized world
  5. as 4. but instead of a normal satellite this thing has nuclear weapons installed, for the greater good…
  6. as 5. but that was exactly what Greg thought they would find. He is in the employ of one of the planets secret services and supposed to destroy those. Oh. if there were not thse pesky space marines defending this thing…

[Traveller] Inspiration: Planetes

Planetes

Planetes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Planetes is an excellent Japanese anime about debris haulers in space. The series is rather mature and thanks to the involvement of the Japanese Space Agency JAXA also one of the hardest Science Fiction series around.

All the technology in the series is extrapolated from real life technology, and most of it would be manageable today, if anyone had the funding for it.
The series follows the adventures of the Debris collection department of Technora Corp. Put down as “half-section” by their coworkers and considered the dregs of the company, the department has all the prestige of garbage men while being badly paid and extremely dangerous.

Half Section is a PR gimmick: they get funding from official sides for cleaning up debris from 130 years of space developement because it makes space travel safer. Unfortunately there is no big money in cleaning up the mess of others. They do the good work and still are constantly in danger of being closed down by executives looking for revenue instead of safety.
The characters (a multinational crew including Americans, Japanese, Russians, Indians, etc.) are faced both with the problems of working in space (brittle bones, leukemia due to decades of space raditation), politics interfering with their work, and of course good old character developement in all the wrong moments.

During the course of the series there is both a surge of terrorism (funded by poorer nations left out of the space exploration by richer nations) and the ongoing project of space exploration (the main character joins the crew of the first Jupiter mission).

The series is a beauty to behold: the animation is good even in normal scenes and gets even better when in space. There is no sound in space except what the characters hear in their EVA suits, characters and crafts move realistically in Zero-G and most of the plots are based on sound scientific principles, while also being interesting and having quirky but relatable characters. The voice acting is wonderful, at least in the Japanese original (both the English and German dub that I listened to were horrible).

Definitely one of the better examples for Japanese Animation.

Note: I am a fan of Japanese anime, but I do realize that there is a lot of crud around barely worth watching

What to steal from here:
Well, there is a reason I post this on my roleplaying blog after all, mostly because I think it is a good source for inspiration for Science Fiction games with a certain Hard Science bent, especially for Traveller. Which is not really that hard a setting, but at least it tries in a lot of places. The series itself already is good because it gives a good picture of a mid-tech space environment: neither too shabby, but also not too advanced. Going to space is not casual, but not an adventure either (a trip to the moon is treated as a expensive cruise, people for all that matters lead a normal life on the space stations and the moon). People in orbit are there mostly because they work there, and while they are considered specialists they often are low paid grunt workers  (but they wouldn’t want to give it up because they love space). The space station in the series is big, but not too big, and people obviously have limited space for their quarters (most of the characters sleep in a dorm with Zero-G bunks). Smoking is prohibited on most of the station, but special smoking rooms are common.

Areas of special interest:
Kessler Syndrome
Kessler Syndrome happens when a large object in orbit disintegrates and creates more debris by that. Normally even small objects when destroyed might lead to secondary debris, which in turn leads to more accidents and even more secondary debris. The work of the debris haulers is a constant fight against this problem. The true problem might come when a really large object (such as, say, a space station or a large ship) is destroyed, and all the debris from that one object shrapnels into other objects in Earth orbit and creates even more problems. All of a sudden space travel becomes pretty much impossible as both the launch and landing of crafts is made impossible.
A planet might become completely cut off the rest of the world tradewise by something like that. Of course in the series this was used as a threat by terrorist organisations. Earth in the series had become so dependant on space resources that it was impossible to survive without them.

Scenario ideas:
* the Ine Givar (or any other terrorist organizations) is threatening to blow up a large space station (maybe the highport) of a high TL  world and cut of the world from the Imperium for at least a few months. Enough to lead to mass starvation and riots on a world that is highly dependant on imports. Normally the Navy would take care of it, but they are just out of reach, taking care of a problem too far out to act quickly enough. The characters somehow are thrown into the whole ordeal
* The aftermath of exactly the same situation: 40 years ago the high port of a world exploded and made space travel to and from the world impossible. Now the debris situation has been resolved so far as to allow the first Travellers onto the world again. What do they find 30 years after the last transmission from the world was received?

[Traveller] Spacer Hill

needed: E or D starport on small colony.

Father John Xubulr has a problem: he is the priest for the local community on this godforsaken planet (or at least the only one at it’s spaceport) and one of his fold has died recently. The old spacer Jacso had been in space for nearly his whole lifetime, shipping goods to the nearby planets, both in and out of the starsystem. Now he is dead, and his last wish was to be buried on spacer hill, a part of the local graveyard that is rising over the spaceport.
For generations the hill has been reserved for the spacers of the community, those who lived their live between the worlds to bring home wealth and prosperity, and it has been like that since the colony was founded hundreds of years ago. There is a problem though:  old Jacso had been in an accident way back when he was doing shippings for one of the megacorps, and half his body had been replaced with cybernetics on the company’s bill.

He was an old spacer, and nobody gave him much grief for it, even though a lot of them started to stare at the chrome he had.
Now the local folks are enraged: no way will they allow a dirty stinkin’ robot be buried on their hill! He might have been born here, but he was half machine and he should go to the scrapyard like the rest of them.
Father John has a problem here and needs some help: he promised Old Jacso to bury him up the hill, and part of the congregation expects him to do exactly that. A vocal minority is dead set against this and threatens violence if that “dirty chipper” is even brought close to the hill.
Father John will offer the characters a handsome amount of money the old spacer left to the parish if they will help him get the body (which is heavy due to the cybernetics in it) to the hill and into the ground.

Complications:
1. Everything is as it appears. The people who are against the burial grumble a bit but nothing happens.
2. As 1. but the people take an intense dislike to the “blasphemers”. They will not make this known directly, but small stuff (spare parts for the starship going missing, refusal of service, etc.) should bring it across.
3. The characters have a lynchmob at hand and will kill father John if nothing is done against that
4. as 3. but the characters also will notice an intense dislike and some sabotaged equipment on their spaceship, some of which might even lead to problems in space. If the characters are not here with their own ship there might be a chance that they become stranded due to the captains dislike for their actions.
5. As above, but somebody will try to get rid of the body by digging it out again after the burial
6. as 5. but the body removes itself from the grave: the cybernetics were more extensive than one would have imagined and the characters now have to deal with a cyberzombie.

Inspired by Marvel Star Wars #7, which was a direct continuation of the movie. The story itself was lackluster: after making a comic version of Star Wars the comic artists started doing their own storylines in the marvel comics and they su… uhm… didn’t know where to go with their storyline. At least in the beginning. The next two issues had a green space bunny and a humanoid porcupine in a variant of the Seven Samurai.

[Traveller] Dying in Mongoose Traveller Character Generation

It’s possible. I thought so when I first read the rules, but it just happened to me. Without the famous Iron Man rules proposed by Mongoose even.

For a short explanation: Traveller must have been the first game ever that allowed characters to die in character generation. This made the generation of characters in the game a bit of a gamble. Technically it was possible that the character in his next career term would get better, more important, more wealthy, whatever… but he/she also could just die.

The version published by Mongoose Publishing is quite close to the old Classic Traveller, but a bit more lenient in that respect. Instead of automatically being killed the character suffers a mishap and is in most cases ejected from the career after that. Then the character can be used, or can go on doing a different career in the character generation process until the player is satisfied. There is an optional rule though (the Iron Man rules) which reinstates the old process.

All the old grognards have been moaning for the last few years that the old process was so much better, and that one should be able to die in character generation because that’s how Traveller always was… I never read anyone noticing that it is perfectly viable that a character will die in Mongoose Traveller generation even if it’s not done with Iron Man rules. Weird.

But well, it takes something like this: physical characteristics of 6 and lower, a career in a combat oriented/physical career, a failed survival roll in a career leading to the mishap table, a roll of 6 on the mishap table (or any other that causes injury), and then an injury roll that gives enough stat damage to bring one physical characteristic to 0.

Now this one was the most likely option (there are more) and even that one is a rather remote chance, and obviously one would be able to get around it by intelligently choosing the character’s careers. Bbut there still is the chance that something might happen that kills the character. Especially if the character has to roll two injury rolls in two terms.

Which all in all is a bit more realistic (yeah I know, the bad r-word again) than people being killed left and right as was usual in Classic Traveller. After all it can happen: some people are killed even in the best of cases. Especially when people are joining the military. Because, well, people are shooting at you much more often when you’re a soldier than when you’re a painter or working in fastfood.

How my dead character happened? Oh, I actually had Spica Publishing’s Career Book 2 involved. That one has a nifty Cosmonaut career that reminded me of Planetes. The poor girl got booted out of her first career (Navy) by mishap, had a micro-meteorite strike her during EVA in the second term, and then had a vac suit malfunction in her third. Funnily enough the last two things were not even mishaps but normal career events, meaning that the Cosmonaut career is damn dangerous.

Ah, yeah, how realistic. 🙂

The Sweet Spot

Over time I found out something about roleplaying groups: There is a certain sweet spot in the size of a group. It’s roughly around 4 to 5 players. Less and the work of the DM becomes more tedious because players will have the constant need to bounce of from the GM in order to find their place in the gameworld, more and all the calculating and numbercrunching for all the characters bogs down everything. I don’t know how that latter thing goes with the rules-light systems I now espouse (Traveller and OD&D), but in Shadowrun and D&D 3rd it was a horror playing with more players. And I played with a lot of players sometimes.

My prime venue back then was the local youth club, of which I had been voted the leader through charisma and sheer awesomeness (the awesomeness partly being that I was the first in the group to have a car). But a lot of the guys there were geeks and so a lot of time went into playing RPGs, mostly D&D 3rd edition (which just had come out) and trying to edge in a few plays of other systems. I think the largest group I had back then was in Shadowrun though, with about 10 people sitting around the table, some of them newbies. It was horror. And I decided to never try that again. I now now that older games used to be played with much larger groups, I still don’t think I ever will cross the 7 or so again.

The sweet spot, it turned out over time, was with four players. And so far I haven’t had a really bad game with four players, if they were more or less in the game.

Of course that sometimes was a challenge, considering that some of the games were interrupted by lengthy discussions on the best pizza to order, bets on wether anyone would try the snails from the restaurant’s menu, and then later getting the pizza and stuffing us with it. Not with snils though, those for some reason were always sold out. Which leads to two different questions: 1. why were they on the menu if they never were available -and- 2. If they were available and really just always out, who in town ate so many snails to deplete the restaurant’s freezer?

I wonder about gaming food sometimes. Some people seem to have taken up the philosophy to not eat and drink anything on the table, while others (me included) like to drink some wine, beer, or mead on the side. And have a nice filling meal before or during the game.

This weekend there will be another session, and I should prepare something. Or at least think about what I should prepare. But the summer has arrived, it’s swelteringly hot outside and stuffy inside, and thoughts come only in drops, or they pour on the page just like that, but without much connection to actual gaming. The setting to play in I think would be Dark Sun, because I feel like that. But I don’t think my players would like yet another change of direction there. On the other hand the area we play in right now is the Wilderlands, so why not do something about that. I think I read the idea once before, and the Wilderlands of High Fantasy actually have a population lower than the Sahara. Lower than Athas even. And considering I am using the larger measures for the game (one hex = 1 league) that would make a lot of sense. A lot of terrible hidden stuff there in the wild lands I guess. Let’s make something out of that. I think I haven’t played up the danger of the whole area enough lately…