Saturday, August 18, 2012

The campaign starts slowly 001-014,1112

The main character is ex-Scout Trak Davenport.


Pilot-3, Vacc Suit-2, Carousing-2, Engineering-1, Navigation-1, Communications-1, Grav Vehicle-1, Medical-1, Combat Rifleman-1, Streetwise-1, Gun Combat-0, Computer-0
Scout, 4 terms. 100t TL11 Scout Ship Not at Home (on loan), Cr80,000
Home planet: Easan is the Marlene Sub-sector: UWP A777967- C

A little more detail at The Characters page.

He is in the main city of Easan, his home planet, after being discharged several days ago. He visited his parents who are ambivalent about his change of career but no family dramas. The date is 001-1112.  Let's join him now:

Good to see the folks again after so long.  They don't really seem to care or not that I've left the Scouts after  16 years. Trak thought as he strolled down a fairly isolated street. Time to move on and see if Marlene looks different when working for myself.  There's a nice shipment of Blades I think I get for a good deal and should sell well on Garrison. Kentland was a great destination a few years ago, but with the hostilities as they are now between us, no way.
Suddenly, two men with illegal guns jumped out from an alcove.
"Hand over everything you have - now!" hissed the taller of the two.
Trak could see no choice - fight and die or bear the loss.  His favourite hat, watch and wallet.
Totalling it up later, he was a 1000 credits down after replacing everything.
The next day, the police came to the hotel room for a statement but Trak got the impression that they were just going through the motions.
In all the rush, cargo negotiation and managing to find some passengers, he had not spent a lot of time chasing up someone to help him run the ship.  Trak was not looking forward to being exhausted - one person for routine maintenance, pilot, engineer, navigator and steward.
Maybe I can find someone on Garrison.
Takeoff and jump was uneventful, always a good sign. One of the passengers stayed in his room the entire time which was a little frustrating to deal with.  While tired, working for yourself feels good; the bright shine of Garrison in the distance beckoned.

Traveller News Service
GARRISON/MARLENE (0604 - A67389B-A)   DATE 014-1112
| Arbay (0406) has declared war on Pruliki (0402).  The extent of mobilisation on both sides is unknown.  While tensions have been high for several years, it was hoped that recent negotiations would ease the tension.  Apparently they have failed.  Travellers are warned to stay clear of both systems.  No other systems have yet committed to joining forces on either side.

The mechanisms to get here (for those interested)
How this was translated from Solo Traveller flowchart and the die rolling:
  • Paid Traks' living expenses (Cr600 per week based on Social standing from MgT) and Cr150 for berthing Not at Home.
  • Got an event that was held up (and  wrote up a description of the held up encounter) and lost Cr1000 in money and items.
  • Encounter with law enforcers who I took to be about the hold up but the reaction was polite with no assistance.
  • Incidental cargo available was 10t Blades for modified base price $5,000/ton (50% value).  Took the lot.  Blades sell well on Poor worlds but best resell place is Kentland.  Easan and Kentland are in the middle of a subversive war so it may not be wise to go to Kentland.  Garrison is the next best.  Filled the rest of the cargo with standard cargo.  And filled 3 staterooms with 6 middle class passengers (Trak's Carousing-2 is Steward-1). Rolled once the MgT table for interesting passengers - Claustrophobic.
  • Trak's Credits remaining is Cr37440.
  • Note: Options did not appear going through the flowchart and I wanted to hire someone to expand the party. Ah well.
  • No encounters to 100 diameters and jump etc went OK, no events in jump, and ended about 100 diameters out from Garrison.
  • Subsector events:
    • Arbay (0406) declares war on Priluki (0402)
    • Kamiri (0703) begins a subversive offensive against Magbis (0304)

There was still lots of setting up to do.  I created a spreadsheet to run though Traveller Solo Flowchart and also to generate the numbers for events, patrons, encounters and reactions.  Excel is my friend.  But it makes working though a week much easier.  I also had to look up how reactions work, the list of expenses (scoutship annual maintenance I have upped and made monthly as per Mongoose Traveller - gives Drak extra expenses) and re-familiarise myself with starship operations.  But it is done and I've updated some of the blog's pages for reference.

War breaking out in the subsector was unexpected but may help with plot-lines later on.  Rolling up relationships between planets as per T4 Pocket Empires has proven useful in that respect, and also in other ways already.  The fact that Easan and Kentland are in a subversive war meant that the best cargo destination for Trak's Blades cargo is not really a good idea at this stage and forces a less optimal system choice.  All good.

It was all up a mostly uneventful couple of weeks.  No patron and no activities of choice allowed.  Maybe in the coming week.  I also have not really used the regions on the planet to their advantage yet.  That may come into their own with patrons (where there may be a region to target on a planet e.g. if have to break-in to to science research base on another planet, can find the nearest planet with a scientific region).  While it was a long time for me to do the first two weeks, the next few will at least go faster for the week to week stuff. I am looking forward to expanding the party from beyond just Trak, whether employees or other adventurers.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mechanisms and rules I am using

This post will detail the mechanisms I will be using for solo Traveller.  The next post will be the character and the ship and starting location, and then I will be off and running!

Traveller version
I will be using MegaTraveller as the basis for the solo play.  I am familiar with both Classic Traveller and MegaTraveller, having played both.  Being an "old school" RPGer, the games I was part of or ran were fairly rules lite anyway.  No miniatures, just playing out what occurs and occasionally rolling some dice.  So it never really mattered too much on rule specifics.  MegaTraveller I am more familiar with so I will use that  It  does seem more internally consistent than Classic Traveller.  I won't be using the Rebellion setting from MegaTraveller which seems to be a large gripe with it.  It does have a consistent task resolution system which may come in handy.  But I will be using things from Classic Traveller.
I did consider using Mongoose Traveller. It does seem like an updated version of Classic/Mega-Traveller.  But I am not as familiar with it. Going with what I know.  But I may change to use it later. 

I did not want to play in the Imperium.  Almost all the games I ever played were either not in the Imperium, or were in it but the Imperium was really a backdrop and really it could have been any setting.  So, I thought I would set the game in the Imperium universe but far enough away from the Imperium it may no difference.  I thought of Glimmerdrift Reaches as I have the old non-canon Judge's Guild supplement and it is far enough away from the Imperium I can ignore stuff.  I likes the idea of the Marla subsector but I've always rolled my own subsector for games so why change now?  I rolled up the Marlene subsector which is in the same location and some of the names are the same.  But that is the only thing remaining. All the planets in the subsector are in a loose alliance and the nearest words to the alliance are 3 parsecs away (this is similar to the Marlan Primate in the supplement).  I rolled up the worlds with some minor modifications. Hopefully I will not need to travel outside the subsector as I don't have a plan any further than this!

Game flow
I will start with one character and one scout ship and pick up employee or travel companions along the way.
I will use the Traveller Solo flowchart that seems a very handy way to structure a week's play but still provide some randomisation.  I am going to use a spreadsheet so the less rolling of dice the better - I will generate the flowchart sequence for the week and any encounters, patrons etc that occur as well.
I am hoping that Patrons will supply the majority of adventure, but I will somehow try and tie up a number of the patron sponsored adventures (5-ish), events and encounters into some meaningful greater story arc and have a grad resolution scene at the end. I may use Rory's Story Cubes to help here.

I will use the encounter table from MegaTraveller (almost the same as CT) and roll for reaction as per MegaTraveller.

I created six events for each world region type.  Hopefully enough and varied.  I have not gone into unique world events etc but may do if I get bored. 

If a patron is called for during the week, I will randomly select a patron from the following 5 books:
  • 76 Patrons
  • Patron Encounters
  • 21 Plots
  • 21 Plots Too
  • Planetside: 21 Plots
This should provide me with a few adventures.  Some are small, some are large.  I thought the patron description would be enough to flesh out a bit of adventure, but they are not.  My current thought, and this may change as soon as I try it out, is to use Rory's Story Cubes to plan out the sequence of the adventure.  Not sure how exactly.  Possibly roll them all and construct the scenes, or roll 3 at a time (3 times for a total of 9 dice) and construct scenes/scenes from that.

I am using MegaTraveller but incidental cargo will use Classic Traveller.  I will modify some of the trade classification DMs based on the area you buy/sell from - possibly simple a bonus if you are in an area that matches the type of goods.  I will create these as I go.

Main character will be a Scout that needs a least Pilot and Engineer skills.  Liaison would be nice.  I will likely roll for the table to choose from but select the actual skill.  I have never used advanced character generation and will not be doing so either.  While I can see the attraction, not for me.  I thought about using Mongoose as it has all sorts of great background material built in - life events,contact, enemies etc. I think I will flesh out the main character's background as I need to.
For other characters, I will use CT supplements 1001 Characters and Citizens of the Imperium.  both have loads of characters to choose from.  I may roll for one trait for each NPC that becomes part of the part using Mongoose NPC traits.

Combat is likely to be a combo of Azhanti High Lightning and THW Larger than Life.  I have not thought further than this.  I am not a skirmish gamer. All  my previous Traveller experience had "roleplayed" combat so never really followed to many formal rules.  I will cross this bridge when I come to it.  The Azhanti combat is simple and MegaTraveller equipment maps to it quite nicely.  Larger than Life combat should assist as it is solo friendly, and damage is expressed the same way (or similar - I may find out I am completely wrong).

Borrowing from Star Smuggler, I have 14 planetary area types.   Each planet will have anywhere from 1 to 10 of these area types, sometimes two or three of the same type.  The number of locations is loosely based on population and the types are based on the world codes and trade codes.  Rather than define specific locations and map out the planets such as cities, jungles, etc, this way adventures can happen on planet quite a bit, moving between areas.  Encounters will be different per area, and I am thinking of how to incorporate cargo DMs into the area you are buying/selling rather than just the planetary ones (e.g. if you would get a DM of +7 on selling due to Agricultural world, maybe selling at the spaceport only gets you DM+3 and being in an actual rural area gives you the full DM+7).

Star Smuggler had this concept that as you moved from area to area in a world you may be detected.  If detected you roll for an event.  I like this, and using areas, so have a table for this.

Planetary Events
I am using the table from  T4 Pocket Empires, rolling weekly for a chance (10+ on 2d6) event in the subsector.  I am tracking Popularity for each world as events do effect popularity, and popularity declines can lead to some events (strikes, coups etc). I am also using the Pocket Empires relationship code between each of the worlds and randomly increasing or decreasing some of them each week (about a 1 in 40 chance of going up of down by 1.  Helps me understand a world's relationships with others, and may help to provide a bit of background to the adventures.  All done by spreadsheet so not taxing.

I see the potential of  Mythic for solo games.  Very narrative driven.  I like structure and specifics.  So I decided against it.

Larger than Life (Two Hour Wargames)
This has the entire adventure sequence built into.  It is aimed at Pulp adventures but with some tweaking of the tables could fit right into an Traveller SF campaign.  I would like to give LTL a go after running this "campaign".  Why LTL for combat and not other THW rules?  Larger than Life is a little pulpy (which I don't mind as it will help the party survive), has reactions for civilians Vs Military and the combat seems more streamlined and simpler compared to some of the other THW Chain Reaction based rules.

Mongoose Traveller Supplement 9 - Campaign Guide
This  is full of tables that seem like they could be useful.  The majority look to weird or something unlikely to need for solo play.  There may be some useful tables in there related to some specific events, such as what you may stumble over when searching in rough areas.

Non-Traveller SF RPGs
I own a lot of these but never played.  I will lift things from anywhere if I think it will help.  But I have not found anything yet, although factions in Stars Without Number would great but I think I have what I consider too much background stuff running already! MT's World Builder may help flesh out worlds more but haven't used anything from there before.  I will use stuff from anywhere if I think it will be handy.

Halfway station
Andy Slack's gaming blog has been very useful in helping me out on what I am looking for in a solo game.  He has run a solo campaign with a lot of Traveller element to it - The Arionaid.  This blogged single campaign has been the single most useful site for solo Traveller I cam across.

End note
I created a page outlining the tables and mechanisms I will be using.  I will be updating these as I need to.

And yes, I do know Mongoose is coming out with a Solo Traveller supplement soon (2012? 2013?). I  could not wait.

Enough already of the mechanisms.  By next post I will have rolled up the character and started them off.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Introduction to the blog

This post is really the first one to open up the blog.  A lot of the background, subsector map etc should be via pages or links within pages.  The blog posts themselves will generally be discussions on mechanics and also the actual adventure.

Why am I doing this?
 I used to participate and GM Traveller games form around 1982 until 1988 and them a couple of games sessions in 1997.  That is it and about the sum of my RPG experience.  But I really like Traveller.  I have lots of stuff collected over the last 25 years.  I don't have too much free time and the free time I do have I am trying doing historical miniature games (my other blog).  But I find I have odd free time her and there that lends itself to other pursuits. I last played Star Smuggler in the 80s and enjoyed it.  I thought that would be a good game to fill in the time.  I started looking at it and then saw a post on the Solo Gaming yahoo list  on ideas for Solo Traveller.  Star Smuggler is Traveller-like and so I started thinking about how I could use some Traveller stuff into Star Smuggler.  But then I realised that solo Traveller was potentially an option and have moved away (mostly) from combining the two.  So Solo Traveller it is!

What is the aim
I have spent the last two months researching to Solo Traveller - looking at blogs and various fourms for ideas and things that worked and did not.  With limited time, my aim is to reuse mechanics as much as possible and not have to invent stuff.  I also like to have a fair idea of what I will be using during the campaign, but am not adverse to dropping stuff that is not working and start using something else.  My broad aim is to start with a single character, their spaceship and journey through a subsector collecting crew/additional party members and participating in a number of adventures that somehow interlink into a wider overall theme.

How? Or what I am using?
I have looked into a lot of different tools and have finalised some but still up in the air about others.  But I am nearly ready to start.  I will provide a bit more detail in a subsequent post about what resources, rules etc I am planning to use but for a start here is a short list:
  • The Traveller rules are MegaTraveller (but not the setting)
  • Combat is likely to be a combo of Azhanti High Lightning and THW Larger than Life
  • Classic Traveller cargo for incidental cargos.
  • The Traveller Solo flowchart
  • A subsector set in the GlimmerDrift Reaches but non-canon.
  • On the worlds, I have borrowed the concept from Star Smuggler of having different regions (City, Crater, Rural, Colony) and created an d6 events for each region.
  • Start with one character and one scout ship.
  • 76 patrons/Patron Encounters/21 Plots for patron encounters
  • 1001 Characters and Citizens of the Imperium for NPCs
  • Rory Story Cubes to help play out the patron encounters.
  • A little bit of T4 Pocket Empires to generate some subsector and world events
 I will go into a lot more detail in the next post on how I plan to use all of these things, and possibly all the things I decided not to use (such as Mythic).   Then I will start!