Game Prep: The PKF

In the year after his ascension to the countship following his father’s death, Lord Para quickly moved to reorganize the forces at his disposal. Their were more than seven different colonial customs and law enforcement agencies, each with their own jurisdictions, mandates and bureaucracies, all of which invariably competed with one another. Against the wishes (and outright pleas) of the directors of these agencies, Count Para merged them into a single bureau; seeing this, these former directors immediately began jockeying to run the newly created PKF (called such because PPKF is too difficult to say), but the count dismissed them all and instead appointed Vaden Awl to serve as the director.

A former Scout with a celebrated 30-year career, Awl was new to the system and with few friends in court as he was considered a ‘jumped up nothing’ to the entrenched noble class, but in this, he turned out to be the perfect choice for the directorship of the PKF. Establishing it along similar lines to the Scout Services, he streamlined the bureaucracy – in the process making more than a few political enemies when careers were ended – while simultaneously ramping up the enforcement presence throughout the system. This ‘aggressive policing’ would become extremely controversial as Awl’s anti-crime measures led to a string of high profile arrests and shootings that would be lambasted publicly for ‘excessive violence.’ The most high profile of these cases involved singer Belindi Khandler who would be shot nineteen times during her attempted arrest on the moon Dreher; Khandler’s proponents claimed (and continue to do so to this day) that she was ‘gunned down’ despite the considerable amount of evidence provided proving that she was utilizing her public career to conceal extensive criminal activities, a fact that Khandler actually emphasized during her tours as part of her ‘rebel’ image. It was during the Khandler controversy that the term ‘Peaceforcer’ first came into use as a slur.

Within five years of the establishment of the PKF, Awl’s ‘aggressive policing’ policy and hardline stance had earned him a solid reputation within the court of Count Para who arranged for a knighthood for the former scout. With this status promotion, Sir Vaden now had the power and authority to implement additional actions that the various bureaucrats throughout the system had resisted. Dividing the system up into ‘Patrol Zones,’ he reorganized the action arm of the PKF in a more paramilitary manner and successfully convinced Count Para to purchase a Skanda-class Patrol Cruiser which currently serves as Awl’s mobile command center.

Peaceforcers serve as in-system police but are rarely observed on the mainworld unless it is on Anjiliac Island. Critics of the PKF have noted that it would require very little effort on the organization’s part to transform into an actual military.

Porozlo Peace-Keeping Force

Mission Statement: The mission of the PKF is to protect and defend the Porozlo star system against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the Imperium, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to federal, state, municipal, and extra-solar agencies and partners; and to perform these responsibilities in a manner that is responsive to the needs of the public and is faithful to the Imperium.

CAPABILITIES
TL: 11^.
Members: 25,000 .
Wealth: Very Wealthy.
Contacts: Law Enforcement skills-18 [15]; Intelligence skills-18 [15].
Member Traits: Duty (PKF) [-10]; Legal Enforcement Powers 3 [15]
Notable Resources: The PKF have four Wyrm-class System Defense Boats and one Skanda-class 400-ton Patrol Cruiser at their disposal. They also maintain a small fleet of 24 Faun-class 20-ton Gunned Gigs and run 8 of the 12 Vigilance-class stations stationed throughout the system.
Reaction-Time Modifier: +1. Layers of secrecy increase the modifier for requests for mundane covert activity (e.g., undercover operations) to +2.

COSTS AND VALUES
Startup Cost: $BCr70
Resource Value: $MCr347
Patron Value: 30 points.
Enemy Value: -30 points.
Ally and Dependent Value: The group can supply 0-to 50-point PKF personnel as Dependents or members of groups of Allies. They can also deploy combat assault teams with personnel worth at least 200 points. Sir Vaden Awl himself is a 250-point character.

SOCIAL ATTRIBUTES
Type: Enforcement, Investigative, Military
CR: 4.
Loyalty: Good (14; +3).
Rank: Police Rank 0-5 [2/level].
Income Range: $4,050 (Struggling) to $810,000 (Filthy Rich) (!)
Reputation: -4 (Peaceforcers, among criminal organization)

Game Prep: The Verge, Pt 2

Okay, it’s probably more accurate to say that it’s part 3 with that gravitics thing really being part 2 … but … yeah. This is fine. Moving on.

Speaking of gravitics, I’ve done some additional digging and realized that we mis-identified Porozlo’s tech level. Using GURPS Traveller 3E, yes, it is TL9, but we’re using 4E and this corresponds to TL10^. So the entire gravitics discussion is kind of moot since artificial gravity should be pretty commonplace. Which is … damn. That’s a little irritating since I I wanted to dial back on the use of artificial gravity here to try and add a more Expanse-like feel.

So … since I still want to do that, how do I get around what should be (artificial gravity everywhere)? Right now, I’m leaning toward a combination of factors. First is the cultural one. I’m thinking that the citizens of the Verge – those who live in the Porozlo system but not on the mainworld – actually look down on gravitics in starships because they’ve spent generations without it. This is a cultural thing that is gradually being swept aside as newer generations grow up and adopt more modern things. Still, because it’s a cultural thing, it isn’t easily stamped out.

Second, I could potentially look at allowing the maneuver drive to be pushed harder without artificial gravity … at the potential drawback of turning the crew into paste if they push TOO hard. Hmm. Looking at Spaceships p24, I see the Hot Reactionless is TL10^ and each engine give 1G acceleration; without artificial gravity, what I could say is that the acceleration output is doubled? So, having two engines, FREX, without artificial gravity provides a 4G acceleration? Fusion drives S1:23 states that “any engine may be high thrust (double acceleration but halve delta-V per tank. Any engine can also use water instead of hydrogen (triple acceleration, one-third delta-V.)” I’d not seen that before but I could totally rip that off with the presumption that any ship without artificial gravity is considered high-thrust, then the engineer can BOOST the drive (not the same as the SS7 “boost drive” feature) with successful check to triple the acceleration ala using water with a high-thrust fusion drive. So in my above example with the two engine ship, they’d have a 6G acceleration. Actually … that’s already built in with the “Emergency Thrust Task” so … if I presume that acceleration is automatically doubled if there is no artificial gravity acting as a “governor” or the equivalent (bringing my example ship to 4G accel), then with the emergency thrust task, that ship would be capable of being bumped to 8G … which oof … that could suck.

Incorporating something like the Juice from The Expanse is pretty easy in this case – depending on the effectiveness of this, it provides a +1, +3, +5, or +8 (the latter being military-grade so pretty limited) Resistant (Acceleration, Rare) … which is already part of the basic book. Yeah. I think this is doable.

Now I’ve got a legitimate excuse for making that particular game a bit more Expansey while simultaneously allowing the Saturday group to potentially do the same once they discover the advantages and drawbacks of doing so.

Next up, I’m going to try to focus on the narrative themes and story elements for a while instead of all this irritating world-building stuff.

Removing Gravitics from Traveller

So, on the Facebook Traveller page, I stumbled upon this link: Hard Space – Spaceflight.

really like what he’s thinking here and have already started floating the idea to the primary Traveller group (the Saturday Fantasy Grounds one) about implementing some of this. We already have phased in some of the things they do in The Expanse – for example, all PCs are suited up and the atmo is evacuated from the ship prior to a space battle – but I’m contemplating going a bit further (with the okay from the other players, of course) by essentially copying the same kind of things in this blog post with some adjustments.

Now in this scenario, gravitics won’t be completely removed – I envision higher TL stuff (say, 11^) could have artificial gravity or, as one of my Saturday players suggested already, AG might just be ludicrously expensive so it’s more of a luxury item. Which basically amounts to the same thing, I think.

Ultimately, I don’t think it changes things too terribly. I suppose what I really need to do is start my own list of adjustments, maybe dig into the Spaceships book a bit more.

Yeah. I really need to dig into the Spaceships book some more…

Hmm. Limited gravitics means no gravity belts and that could be an issue…

Finn Sardock, RPM Caster and War-Leader

This is my player character in our currently active GURPS: Banestorm game.

Third-born son of the retired adventurer, Lord Dane Sardock, Finn lived most of his life in Caithness until the expedition to retake Castle Defiant in 2035 which he joined. Upon reaching Defiant, his father delegated many of the leadership duties to young Finn, turning him into the de facto second-in-charge.

During one such event, while Finn was away with his warband investigating an orcish camp, Lord Dane was murdered via magic, which leaves Finn in command. Soon after, a great orc force assaulted Defiant. Finn led the defense of the castle.

Finn Sardock, 217-point human

ST 11 {10}; DX 11 {10}; IQ 13 {60}; HT 10 {0}

Damage 1d-1/1d+2; BL 24lb; HP 11 {0}; Will 13 {0}; Per 13 {0}; FP 10 {0}; Basic Speed 5 {-5}; Basic Move 5

Cultural Familiarities

  • Christian (Native) {0}

Languages

  • Anglish (Native) (Native/Native) {0}
  • Arabic (Broken/-) {1}
  • Elvish (Broken/Semi-Literate) {2}
  • Latin (Accented/Literate) {4}
  • Sahudese (Broken/Semi-Literate) {2}

Advantages

  • Born War-Leader 2 {10}
  • Reputation +1 (Capable Battle Commander; All the time; Small class) {1}
  • Ritual Adept (Space) (T:RPM-6) {10}
  • Ritual Adept (Time) 2 (T:RPM-6) {20}
  • Ritual Magery 3 (Nuisance Effect: ability makes you obvious) {29}
  • Ritual Magery 0 (Nuisance Effect: ability makes you obvious) {5}
  • Status 3 {15}

Perks

  • Form Mastery (Naginata) {1}
  • Grip Mastery (Naginata) {1}
  • Named Possession (Horn of Defiance) {1}
  • Penetrating Voice {1}
  • Ritual Mastery: Minor Healing (RPM47) (+2 to all Path skills for this spell) {1}
  • Weapon Bond (Naginata) {1}

Disadvantages

  • Code of Honor (Soldier’s) {-10}
  • Curious (15 or less) {-2}
  • Honesty (12 or less) {-10}
  • Intolerance (Orcs, one group) {-5}
  • Light Sleeper {-5}
  • Selfless (12 or less) {-5}
  • Sense of Duty (Citizens of Defiant, Large Group) {-10}
  • Sense of Duty (My Warband, aka the Adventuring Companions, Small Group) {-5}
  • Unnatural Feature -4 (Inhumanly blue eyes) {-4}
  • Vow (Avenge My Father, Minor) {-5}
  • Workaholic {-5}

Quirks

  • Absolute cannot say no to Thorondil when his friend suggests adventure or mischief {-1}
  • Don’t call me “Lord” {-1}
  • Incompetence (Bow) {-1}
  • Preferred Looks (PU6:26) (Mad for dusky beauties so he’s clearly doomed to fall for an al-Wazifi girl) {-1}

Skills

  • Administration (A) IQ-1 {1} – 12
  • Animal Handling (Equines) (A) IQ-1 {1} – 12
  • Area Knowledge (Orclands) (E) IQ+0 {1} – 13
  • Armoury/TL3 (Body Armor) (A) IQ-1 {1} – 12
  • Armoury/TL3 (Melee Weapons) (A) IQ-1 {1} – 12
  • Autohypnosis (H) Will-2 {1} – 11
  • Brawling (E) DX+0 {1} – 11
  • Camouflage (E) IQ+0 {1} – 13
  • Diplomacy (H) IQ-1 {2} – 12
  • Engineer/TL3 (Combat) (H) IQ-2 {1} – 11
  • First Aid/TL3 (Human) (E) IQ+0 {1} – 13
  • Gesture (E) IQ+0 {1} – 13
  • Heraldry (A) IQ-1 {1} – 12
  • Hiking (A) HT-1 {1} – 9
  • Innate Attack (Beam) (E) DX+1 {2} – 12
  • Intelligence Analysis/TL3 (H) IQ+0 {1} – 13
  • Intimidation (A) IQ-1 {1} – 12
  • Leadership (A) IQ+2 {2} – 15
  • Meditation (H) Will-1 {2} – 12
  • Musical Instrument (Horn) (H) IQ-2 {1} – 11
  • Naturalist (Yrth) (H) IQ-2 {1} – 11
  • Navigation/TL3 (Land) (A) IQ-1 {1} – 12
  • Observation (A) Per-1 {1} – 12
  • Path of Body (VH) IQ+0 {8} – 13
  • Path of Chance (VH) IQ-2 {2} – 11
  • Path of Crossroads (VH) IQ-1 {4} – 12
  • Path of Energy (VH) IQ-1 {4} – 12
  • Path of Magic (VH) IQ+0 {8} – 13
  • Path of Matter (VH) IQ-1 {4} – 12
  • Path of Mind (VH) IQ-1 {4} – 12
  • Path of Spirit (VH) IQ-2 {2} – 11
  • Path of Undead (VH) IQ-2 {2} – 11
  • Polearm (A) DX+1 {4} – 12
  • Public Speaking (Oratory) (E) IQ+0 {1} – 13
  • Riding (Equines) (A) DX-1 {1} – 10
  • Savoir-Faire (High Society) (E) IQ+0 {1} – 13
  • Savoir-Faire (Military) (E) IQ+2 {1} – 15
  • Soldier/TL3 (A) IQ-1 {1} – 12
  • Staff (A) DX+0 {2} – 11
  • Stealth (A) DX-1 {1} – 10
  • Strategy (Land) (H) IQ+1 {2} – 14
  • Survival (Desert) (A) Per-1 {1} – 12
  • Symbol Drawing (Ritual Magic) (H) IQ+0 {4} – 13
  • Tactics (H) IQ+1 {2} – 14
  • Thaumatology (VH) IQ+0 {8} – 13
  • Two-Handed Sword (A) DX-1 {1} – 10
  • Wrestling (A) DX-1 {1} – 10

Equipment

  • Horn of Defiance (this is just a magic horn (DF1:24) that the sound carries a lot further than it should.)
  • Mail, Light (Torso) (DR3/1*)
  • Naginata
  • Phoenix Shield (magic light shield (DB1) that has Dancing Shield on it)

Conditional Rituals

  • Distant Blow – x4 – This Casting: Lesser Create Crossroads (6) + Lesser Control Magic (5) + Damage Cutting 1d+3 (5). 17 energy (17×1).
  • Minor Healing – x4 – This Casting: Lesser Restore Body (4) + Healing, 1d HP (0) + Subject Weight, 300 lbs. (3). 7 energy (7×1)
  • Sunbolt – x2 – This Casting: Lesser Create Energy (6) + Lesser Control Energy (5) + Lesser Control Magic (5) + Affliction, 25% (5) + Damage, External Burn 3d (0). 21 energy (21×1).
  • Lightning Weapon – x4 – This Casting: Lesser Create Energy (6) + Lesser Strengthen Body (3) + Lesser Control Magic (5) + Altered Trait, Imbuement 3: One Skill Only, Electric Weapon (9) + Duration, 10 minutes (1) + Subject Weight, 10 lbs. (0). 24 energy (24×1).
  • Explosive Lightning – x2 – This Casting: Lesser Control Energy (5) + Lesser Control Magic (5) + Lesser Create Energy (6) + Damage, External Explosive Burning 3d (2) + Extra Energy, +4 (4). 22 energy (21×1).

Bad Blogger

Yeah, I’ve done an absolutely terrible job of blogging over the last week which is partially laziness and partially nothing to say. I’m playing in two fantasy games right now – one is Pathfinder where I’m playing a Fighter/Cavalier/Chevalier who is in charge of the realm (we’re playing through the Kingmaker adventure path) and the other is GURPS Banestorm where I’m playing a Ritual Path Magic caster who is also a war-leader … and the guy in charge of the realm (Castle Defiant). So since I’m not running the game, not a lot to say.

Work continues (albeit very slowly) with the GURPS Traveller: The Verge campaign – right now, I’m still trying to sort of figure out how to best chart the in-system travel stuff. Ideally, I’d like to be able to rip off that Utzig stuff but use my own data … but the problem is that I don’t actually know where to start. I suppose I could (and this is what I’m leaning toward) is actually reaching out to the Utzig guy to see if he could make his code available …

Apart from that, though, I’ve really slacked off with the world-building stuff and need to get back on it.

Unrelated to the above, I’ve started playing this game Phantom Doctrine which is kind of like a stealth X-COM (where avoiding the firefight is more important than killing everyone on the battle map) and thus far, I’m kind of liking it. It’s set in the ’80s so I’m sort of hoping to be able to steal some ideas from it for The Verge…

Game Prep: The Verge, Pt 1

I’ve officially named my face-to-face campaign “GURPS Traveller: The Verge” – in my take on the Porozlo system, the “Verge” is the name given to all of the planets, moons and space stations scattered throughout that have inhabitants. Those who live on the mainworld (or the orbiting highport) are not considered part of the Verge…

It also has a second meaning: the system is on “the verge” of full-on chaos..

I’m currently leaning toward 175-points for the characters, probably using the Action 4: Specialists stuff with the Basic Action Template with the appropriate skill sets … which probably means I need to adjust them for the era. I’m also going to allow the Biotech genegineered human racial templates for use as well should a PC opt to go for a Light Worlder (to properly reflect the Belters from The Expanse).

I also have some character concepts from five players – we have a sixth, but he really dislikes GURPS for some reason & hasn’t chimed in, so I halfway expect him to sit this game out. These concepts aren’t fleshed out, of course, but they’re a good step forward. I’ve given then ‘archetype’ names here:

The Sanctioned Operatorthis is primary investigator, the spy who has been assigned this mission. The player initially stated “full-on Miller/Noir-PI” (with Miller being a reference to The Expanse) but seems to have altered his take to more of a Michael Westen/Ethan Hunt spy type, which probably works better in the long run.

The Psionic Gambler: a half-Zhodani low-life who has numerous connections with the underworld. He’s not intended to be a combat monster – the player suggested having nothing more than a 12 in pistols or beams – and is likely going to be mostly a telepath with perhaps some minor TK. The player already mentioned looking through Psionic Powers. He’ll be read-in on the mission with the Operator having some sort shutdown code or device or something.

The Enraged Marine: former Imperial combat vet whose daughter died due to tempest – which in this case likely means she was beaten to death by a raging addict – which led to the PCs wife dying soon after of a broken heart (player’s words, not mine). Not he’s seeking blood-soaked revenge. Unclear if he’s read-in on the op yet.

The Socialite Pilot: a Julie Mao-esq character (another Expanse ref) whose father was involved in some shady crap that contributed to the family wealth. Initially, she was okay with it since, money let her do whatever she wanted (which ended up being a pilot) but she stumbled upon depths of her father’s depravity and revolted, which somehow led her to being imprisoned. She’ll have some white collar connections but it’s unlikely she’ll be read-in.

The Aslan Technician: this character is going to be a combo medic/mechanic with the whole “people and computers are kind of the same thing” mentality. Unfortunately, this player’s schedule (due to school) is wildly inconsistent, so we don’t know how frequently he’ll be available.

Back from Vacation

Whee. Back and thoroughly sunburned. The tops of my feet were so badly burned – because I didn’t think to actually apply sunblock there since I’m generally a “shoes on all day” kind of guy – that they swelled up on day three and I had trouble standing and walking. Eventually, I started taking some anti-inflammatories – my mom had some prescription strength stuff that was sort of like ibuprofen (per Google) – and that helped tremendously.

Unfortunately, now I’m squarely in the ‘post-vacation crash’ phase where I try to get my head right for returning to work. And gaming. Rah.