Category Archives: Rules

Anything about the rules. CanonHead Area!

Six Guns Lasers – Finally

Look what I got in my mail today. Six Guns Lasers from Terra/Sol Games. A really good book by MJD that is useful for any Traveller Universe.

Six Guns Lasers

I have been waiting for this for a long time. Almost two years since this Kickstarter Project closed. Now it is finally here, and I am very happy.

In this book you find rules for Lasers, accessories for Laser Guns, six Laser Guns described, a short adventure and some other interesting stuff. It is 58 pages. The only problem I have seen so far is that the table of contents is offset by two pages. Not a big problem for an otherwise excellent book.

Update: You can now get it from DriveThruRPG.

Traveller LIFTOFF RPG Crowdfunding

I really want a simple Traveller rule set with lots of pictures so that it would be easier to play Traveller with my son when he gets old enough. Traveller Liftoff may be exactly what I am looking for.

However it looks like this crowdfunding isn’t going to liftoff. 5 days to go and only €2,599 raised of the €100,000 goal. Was the goal too high? Are gamers tired of new Traveller rule sets or just of Traveller crowdfunding projects? Maybe gamers would have prefered if it was on Kickstarter instead of Indiegogo?

Just the rules (Beta-version) can be downloaded for free from 13Mann. I hope they give this another try. Maybe they could skip the box and only make a glossy book and find alternative ways to pay the artists (maybe based on sales). In a few years I will need this.

Patent Trolls in the RPG industry

There is a patent application (by Universal Horizons) on how to move one RPG entity (Character) from one setting or game to another. The claims are quite general and can be applied to almost any existing conversion of RPG entities. This needs to be stopped, or we cannot use cross-genres or make RPGs from/to computer games (without paying fees) anymore.

More information and a link to the patent on the Bedroom Wall Press blog.

Since we have all moved characters, ships and weapons between different rules and settings we know of lots of examples of prior art (that may be used to stop such a patent).

Some examples of prior art include cross-genre games like GURPS or Lords of Creation. Another example is a conversion between Marvel Superheroes RPG and Marvel SAGA.  Another example is conversion from AD&D to D20 3.0. Another is the new Elite RPG based on the Elite computer game.

Examples for Traveller is rules for converting characters, ships, weapons, planets etc. for different rules. A simple example is that a type-A Starport in CT is called a type-V starport in GT. In GURPS Traveller, Chapter-6 is about converting Characters from other Traveller versions (have a look in the preview-PDF if you don’t have that book). Another Traveller example is the CounterStrike rules that converts Traveller Ships to another format usable for large-scale operations.

So this is important for Traveller and other RPGs and there are prior art examples for both Traveller and other RPGs.

When people started complaining and discussing the subject on Universal Horizons facebook page they started removing critical comments. Just like any other evil or malicious company would have.

Trying to patent something like this isn’t a good idea. The RPG community gets quite upset since we have been converting between different systems for ages. We will not let Universal Horizons stop us. Universal Horizons still have a lot of explaining to do… Then they must remove their claims!

Universal Horizons

Benford’s law, or why you shouldn’t use a D10 for generating some random numbers

This applies to all games where you want to generate a random number to describe something. In many cases you cannot just use a D10 since Benford’s law says that the lower numbers will have a higher probability.

Benford's law
Benford’s law – Public domain

This law is usually true when applied to things that grow exponentially. Like the population modifier digit (the P in the PBG-number) in the extended UWP for Traveller. Why is it so? Here is an explanation! A shorter explanation is that to change the first digit from 1 to 2, the population needs to increase 100%. To change the first digit from 8 to 9 the population needs to increase 12%. This means that the population digit will stay longer at lower values and therefore the lower values will be more likely.

Something else that is interesting for Traveller, Benford’s law can also be applied on asteroid sizes, since these has been built up of smaller objects over time.

It can most likely be used for anything that is big and varied enough like the size of buildings, the size of villages or towns, the size of space ships etc…

If you use a D10 to get a first digit for something that should behave according to Benford’s law, you will create a statistical anomaly. Doing it for one, or a few planets doesn’t matter, but if you do it for the P in the PBG-number of a subsector or something larger the result you get will be very unlikely.

So stop using that D10 now! Write a simple program on your calculator or computer that calculates the first digit according to Benford’s law!

For those who still (for some reason) needs to use dice, here is a table with a distribution that is close enough to the Benford distribution using 2D6, like you should do in Traveller.

2D6 First Digit
2 1
3 7
4 5
5 3
6 1
7 2
8 1
9 4
10 6
11 8
12 9

Just for fun, test Benford’s law for a number of datasets. It works!

Techbook: Chrome

Classic Traveller is inspired by Science Fiction before cyber-technology started to appear (with a few exceptions) in Science Fiction. So, in Classic Traveller there are no rules for cybertech.

There was a short article series in JTAS #02, #03 and #04 that talked about the differences between robots, cyborgs, androids, etc. We had to wait until the book 2300 AD Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook for 2300AD before GDW produced any good rules for cybertech, But this was for another RPG and not for Traveller and only 13 pages of that book was about different types of cybertech.

Cybertech might not fit well (if it is common) in the OTU. But for an ATU that needs a more modern feel, rules for cybertech are needed. Terra/Sol Games has produced a book that fills the gap; Techbook: Chrome.

Techbook: ChromeChrome is a well-known cyberpunk term, known from William Gibson’s Burning Chrome. It’s clever title for this book.

The book is written by John D. Lees, who Michel Cross wrote about in an earlier post.

The contents in the book are just what you expect, and more. There are rules covering Cybernetic Replacements and Biologicals and Accessories and Cyborgs and Cyrgeware.

Cybernetic Replacements is just what you expect it is. Biologicals is the same but these replacement are grown from organic tissue. You can buy biological upgrades and combine it with the cybertech. This can make your setting really feel like Bladerunner.

The Accessories section of the book are about improvements or additions of the body to add a function that a normal person doesn’t have. These can be both Cybernetic and Biological additions.

The Cyborg section of the book is about cyborgs. A cyborg is defined as an individual whose brain (and possibly other organs) have been placed in a robotic shell. This section of the book discusses lots of aspects of being a cyborg, including braincase, “food” and combat.

The section called Cyrgeware is about the ability to be able to change something (a function or appearance) within your body.

Most of the illustrations in the book are in grayscale and are really good. There are a few in color but only one (showing a sexy cyborg) except the cover is worth mentioning.

An alternative for this book would be 2300 AD Earth/Cybertech Sourcebook for 2300AD or Supplement 8: Cybernetics from Mongoose. But in my opinion, Techbook: Chrome is more interesting. It would be very useful in an ATU where you want cybertech to be more prominent.