April 23, 2016

Lessons from Monteporte

I used to play in +Ken H's Monteporte campaign, and I remember it fondly. Recently, he rebooted it, and posted some session notes here. They struck me with two thoughts.

Tangible is Good

He writes:
Resource and Time Management: We are keeping more careful track of resources, such as food, torches, and arrows. We are also tracking encumbrance. We are working to streamline the process for the former while relying on the simple and elegant system in Bloody Basic for the latter.
 I have long been a fan of tangible items to do this sort of thing. Matchsticks for torches. Poker chips or something like it - beads, whatever - for generic expendables like fatigue or mana. This was a suggestion from +Steven Marsh with respect to The Last Gasp (Pyr #3/44) that turned it from "gee, how will this ever work at the table" to "yes, this is spectacularly cool."

Short Sweet Sorties

The other thing that struck me as particularly notable was a comment he made on continuity.
Campaign and Continuity: One of the challenges for a dungeon-based campaign is maintaining momentum and continuity. We lost a lot of that in the final dozen sessions of our last Montporte campaign. We changed rule sets, lost players, added players, and the main threads of the campaign were lost in all of it. This time around, we are starting with a couple of goals (explore, establish trade relationships, and find a dwarven city), using a simple rule set, and playing with a smaller group (and only playing when everyone is present).
The key here seems to be "starting with a couple of goals," and frankly, given the "we all have real lives" nature of things, I'd be very tempted to see if I could arrange for, at any given time, the player to be given, or able to articulate, about three fairly short-term goals that are knowable, known, and able to be "checked off" the list.

Sure, it's not as pure as a "go explore!" game. But it allows for missed sessions, new characters and players, and a bit more shuffle in the lineup.

In fact, I think I just thought of something that would make a great addition to the background tidbits that provide nice characterization hooks in 5e. In addition to backgrounds, ideals, and flaws, each character should probably have an endpoint.

I touched on this when I wrote Hirelings have a shelf life. Most people, in fantasy and in real life, are working/adventuring towards a goal. Perhaps it's to have his own kingdom, by his own hand (Conan). Perhaps it's to buy a castle (Flynn Rider). Or even simply to impress Murron (William Wallace). But, like the soldiers in Mulan, they're working towards "a girl worth fighting for." And then they're done.

The nature of the goals animated two in-character departures by +Tim Shorts in +Rob Conley's Majestic Wilderlands game. Those goals are always there, and they very much animate why the charaters stick together. 

Having a stack of short-term and long-term goals is just good sense. Consider it added to the Heretical D&D project.

Thank to Tim H for provoking my brain this morning!

Weekends in Penang. Sigh. Poor me.

Penang Review: After the End 2 - The New World

It's been a while since I sat down to review the After the End (AtE) series by +Pk Levine  (the Rev Pee Kitty, Jason "PK" Levine, the assistant Line Editor for GURPS). I did a detail review of the first book, Wastelanders, which covered the characters book.

These worked-example series are not new for GURPS. The first and most spectacularly successful, with at least 20 volumes either published or in the works, was GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. Followed shortly by the less successful but in many ways more awesome GURPS Action, the over-the-top 400-point Monster Hunters (and for those who want to dial it down to a "mere" 200 points, you can get the Sidekicks volume), and now After the End.

To brush up on what's come before, first go read Sunday Review: GURPS After the End 1 - Wastelanders. I'll wait.

OK. Let's get to it.

The Highlights

The second volume in worked-example series is the campaign book, and AtE2 is no exception. It's concise one-page Table of Contents gives you 54 pages of content (including the index, which is two pages long). The book is divided into four chapters:

  1. The End. This walks you through defining how civilization ended, long ago. (5 pages)
  2. Wasteland Hazards. Depending on your choices for The End, this leads you through challenges that will have to be overcome in day to day adventuring. (21 pages)
  3. Boldly Going Forth. Each of the topics covered (my notation for what SJG calls C-HEADS) is a particular challenge to be met. Survival, terrain and ruins, combat, tech . . . even making friends in a dog-eat-people world. (19 pages)
  4. Post-Apocalyptic Game Mastering. A short section on styles of campaigns and how the feel of your game will reflect in the challenges and their resolution. (4 pages)

April 21, 2016

GURPS Day Summary April 15 - April 21, 2016

Thursday is GURPSDay, being posted from Penang, Malaysia, and below you can find the blog activity from the last seven days.

Over the last week, as of 10pm CST, there have been 39 GURPS-Related posts from our list of 38 blogs that have popped up on the radar screen.

The script for this week was run by my wife, per my instructions. So we'll see if I have a future as a software documentation expert. Since I spent 4 hours yesterday doing just that, there's at least some hope.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you're interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line.

Reloading Press: 10mm Auto (10x25mm)

The Reloading Press is an at-least-weekly feature here on Gaming Ballistic for 2016. Each week it looks at some interesting real-world cartridges and presents them with hopefully-useful information in GURPS Format.

10mm Auto (10x25mm)

The 10mm was designed by none other than Colonel Jeff Cooper. Created to be a flatter shooting cartridge than the .45 ACP but hit harder and wound better than the 9mm. When you take a projectile that is substantially heavier than the 9mm, larger diameter, and have the audacity to throw it 100fps faster as well, success is a foregone conclusion.

At least by that metric. Undoubtedly a powerful cartridge - the heavier loads outthwack a .357M - it earns its power by being large, kicking hard, and being generally hard to control. The same problems that exist with large autos in .44M or even the mighty .50AE but on a smaller scale.

The cartridge's power drew the attention of the FBI in the wake of the famous Miami shootout, and the cartridge was selected as the standard FBI chambering in the S&W 1076 in 1989. The amazing recoil and large pistol size resulted in the creation of the .40S&W a scant year later.

Certain agencies still use the 10mm, and given the round's power, it's not a surprise. That being said, if you're going to load up with an SMG that shoots a 10mm bullet, you will probably get at least as much oomph out of a 5.56mm or 6.8mm carbine as well.

April 20, 2016

Reblog: After the End 2 player-facing skill sheet (from No School Grognard)

+Mark Langsdorf did a lot of work, and it turned out really well. 

He made a player-facing skills list based on the worked-example publication GURPS After the End 2.

It takes all the uses of attributes, skills, and advantages from the book and consolidates them by skill. So you get something like 

TrapsTrap a meal (30)
Complementary skill for trapping a meal with Survival (30)
Per-based: Detect traps while scouting (32)
Per-based: Spot a security system (33)
Per-based: Spot a pit trap (36)
Per-based: Spot simple switches (36)
Disarm traps (36)
Salvage a concealed gun (36)

Except you get it for every single mention of a use or skill. 

This is a fantastic cheat-sheet, and worth emulation for other genres.

April 19, 2016

Conditional Jet Lag

Travel Time for Long Distances

So I'm on a bit of international travel at the moment, which saw me taking an unusually tortuous route to cover the distance between Minneapolis and Penang, Malaysia. That's 8,850 miles as the crow flies (tired, cranky, dehydrated crow), and rather longer by the route I took.

  • Minneapolis to LA - 1524 miles
  • LA to Tokyo - 5489 miles
  • Tokyo to Singapore - 3300 miles
  • Singapore to Penang - 375 miles

Total Distance Covered: 10,688 miles

Note that's a 20% increase in distance covered. My total travel time for this trip, including layovers and highly stressful delays due to weather and booking, was . . . hmm. 

  • I left the house at 4:45am Minneapolis time on Friday.
  • I arrived at the hotel in Malaysia at about 10:30am Singapore time on Sunday, which is 9:30pm Minneapolis time on Saturday.

April 14, 2016

GURPSDay - Broad and narrow perspective

Thursday is GURPSDay, a tradition I started in early February of 2013, shortly after I started Gaming Ballistic. I always did better writing to a schedule, and having a GURPS-themed post always go up on release day was fun.

Earlier this year, my little tradition got noticed by +Phil Reed, and he was sufficiently enthusiastic that I volunteered to try and collect posts published on Thursday that had GURPS material.

Enter +Jeffro Johnson and PERL. I don't know PERL, but he does. And he rapidly took the idea and ran with it hard, writing for me a script that pulled every GURPS post form a blog. We even came up with a format that would allow summaries of each post, so long as they were embedded in the HTML and formatted correctly.

Each week, there usually wind up being on the order of 40-60 posts from just shy of 40 blogs. I have no doubt that with proper social networking, both of those numbers could easily double. We've gotten great participation, and the blog roll keeps increasing, though the pace has slowed.

GURPS Day Summary April 8 - April 14, 2016

Thursday is GURPSDay, and below you can find the blog activity from the last seven days.

Over the last week, as of 10am CST, there have been 61 GURPS-Related posts from our list of 38 blogs that have popped up on the radar screen.

The next two weeks will be slightly disrupted as I will be away from my desktop, but there will be one wrap-up post instead of two. 

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

Today some good script-writing by the proprietor of Roger BW's blog helped me solve two long-standing issues with their blogs. I am still having an issue with T Bone's GURPS Diner, but I feel confident we're close. I've included all of their posts for 2016 to make up for what was missed - look for those at the end!

As always, if you're interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line.

April 13, 2016

The M41 Pulse Rifle - stats and commentary

Hicks: I wanna introduce you to a personal friend of mine. This is an M41A pulse rifle. Ten millimeter with over-and-under thirty millimeter pump action grenade launcher. 
Hicks: [Hicks hands the rifle to Ripley] Feel the weight. 
Ripley: Okay. What do I do? 

The M41 is iconic. It defines the look and feel of one of the best Aliens movies out there (in my opinion), and was, at least in this scene, treated more like a character than a piece of equipment. 

I recently wrote up the ammunition it supposedly fires as my April Fool's entry for The Reloading Press. It's described in the movie as follows:
Ripley: Lieutenant, what do those pulse rifles fire?Gorman: 10 millimeter explosive tip caseless. Standard light-armor-piercing round, why?
Other than the weapon itself, which was made in several non-firing mock-ups and one "hero" weapon that could actually fire blanks, that's mostly the only information you have on the weapon itself. You do see that loading a fresh magazine gave something like 95 or 99 shots.

This writeup is dedicated to +Kyrinn S. Eis who asked me very nicely to do it.

April 12, 2016

Aeon Campaign: S2E2 - Kidnapped

Dramatis Personae

  • The Commander (Doug) - telekinetic super-soldier with a really angry dog (Yukio). The dog is a powerful ally (250-300 points) and very intelligent and very, very aggressive.
  • Arc Light (Christian) - battlsuited gadgeteer with electrical powers
  • The Rat Queen (Emily) - brick with super-perception; made of actual rats
  • Eamon Finnegan (Kyle) - smooth talking gravity-master; Ultimate Fighting Lawyer, to borrow a phrase.
  • Zephyr (Merlin) - Real name Murui; Shaolin Kung Fu expert and super-speedster. 
  • Marionette (Ani) - Abilities run to boosting of others, and manipulation of animated objects. The Commander's third cousin.
We had a full house again.

Picking up after Zephyr gets shot in the ass

We pick up where we left off, having had our super-villain escape. We dust for prints, and find that each bullet has a set of prints on it. Hayley's prints. 

The serial numbers were never even there. It looks like it was hand-built from a Barrett design, in a well-kitted-out workshop, by an expert.

We try and interrogate her . . . but it rapidly becomes clear she's been drugged with some sort of hypnogogic for memory loss and suggestibility.

She was given a pretty heavy dose of Rohypnol, but it doesn't seem to be life threatening. Zephyr, he of the murderous dagger, decides to cast a spell and heal her. We all step back, he does his thing, and manages to heal her. Now she's wired like a ferret on crack.

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