Adventure Design: Traveller, “Rescue An Ally”

To my very great frustration, rather than focusing on Red Sky, my GURPS: Monster Hunters game, my brain has been focusing on our currently ongoing Traveller campaign that I’m probably going to take over from the current GM (which means that there will have beenĀ fourĀ GMs for this campaign as we keep rotating the duties. I’ve already mentioned the planned “black hole-not a black hole” adventure previously, and this one will take place after it.

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Mass Effect, Timeline

Something occurred to me yesterday while goofing off with ME3. I’ve been struggling with the timeline – specifically, when to set this theoretical game – and was fluctuating between “during ME1″ and “prior to ME1″ which ultimately limits the amount of time available since ME1 begins in 2183 and ME3 ends in 2186. While reviewing the official timeline, I realized that I missed a perfect time period: 2176 – 2178, 6 to 8 years earlier. Why? The Skyllian Blitz and the attack on Torfan.

Specifically, in 2176, the “Skyllian Blitz” transpires. It is defined as “Batarian-funded pirates and criminals launch a surprise attack, later known as the Skyllian Blitz, on the human colony of Elysium. The assault is repulsed by the Alliance Navy and ground teams.” This is where the “War Hero” background for Shepard occurs.

This provides a golden opportunity as, logically, the PCs can be at Elysium in the opening chapters, then segue into hunting down the originator behind this attack (see the rogue, believed dead Spectre idea I had before) that culminates in the battle of Torfan in 2178, which is defined as “In retaliation for the Skyllian Blitz, the Alliance launches a major offensive against the moon of Torfan and destroys the criminal bases there, mostly populated by batarians. The threat against human colonies from batarian extremists is curtailed.” Ruthless Shepard background occurs here and he gains the reputation as the “Butcher of Torfan.”

Therefore, I first have to figure out this version of Shepard. I’m leaning toward Colonist Sole Survivor, which means he was on Akuz in 2177 and attacked by a thresher maw, which leaves open the reputation of “Butcher of Torfan” for a PC.

Mass Effect 3 & Roleplaying

Into ME3 now, having completed the ME2 suicide mission with losing a single person. Haven’t picked up the DLC for the ME3 yet, but that’ll happen this weekend (probably). Had forgotten how much I like the general atmosphere at the beginning of the game – it’s hit the “Hopeless” point, with the Reapers being impossible to defeat yet Space Jesus just keeps on fighting. Begs the question: how do you do that sort of thing in a face-to-face RPG? Granted, to this point, Shepard really hasn’t failed in any of his missions – yeah, he lost Alenko at Virmire but that was still a successful op. But it is still a curious dilemma since ultimately, the war against the Reapers is doomed. Something to ponder, I suppose…

Interesting to note that only 3 years have passed since ME1 (in-game) which isn’t really a lot of time for various adventures to happen in a face-to-face game. I think if I was to run a ME game, I’d arbitrarily shift the time to 5 years later (increase the amount of time Shepard was “dead” to 3 years for further Biblical analogies, then presume ME2 took place over an entire year as the SR-2 ran around doing stuffs to prepare for the Collector assault.)

GURPS: Mass Effect, Part Eight

Moving on, I looked over the ME wiki with regards to space combat and found this:

Ship mobility dominates space combat; the primary objective is to align the mass accelerator along the bow with the opposing vessel’s broadside. Battles typically play out as artillery duels fought at ranges measured in thousands of kilometers, though assault through defended mass relays often occur at “knife fight” ranges as close as a few dozen kilometers.

Most ship-to-ship engagements are skirmishes between patrol vessels of cruiser weight and below, with dreadnoughts and carriers only deployed in full-scale fleet actions. Battles in open space are short and often inconclusive, as the weaker opponent generally disengages.

Once a ship enters FTL flight the combat is effectively over; there are no sensors capable of tracking them, or weapons capable of damaging them. The only way to guarantee an enemy will stand and fight is to attack a location they have a vested interest in, such as a settled world or a strategically-important mass relay.

Knowing that, I’m not entirely sure how best to handle potential space combat in GURPS. I’ve reviewed the Basic Space Combat rules in GURPS: Spaceships, but frankly, its more complicated than I want to jack with, especially since I’m wanting to go for fast and exciting not “do you have a degree in calculus?” I suppose I could just use the basic Chase rules or the equally abstract Mass Combat system (which I’ve gotten a lot of use out of in Casus Belli, but that could take a bit of time as well.
For the most part, this isn’t going to be a problem, I think, because I was planning on trying to really emulate the ME games in which space combat is relegated to really cool cinematics where the ships show and blow crap up, but eventually, it probably will matter in some way (e.g., the Battle of the Citadel, when Saren & Sovereign and the Geth arrive … although there, I’m leaning toward having the PCs already on the station for some reason so they have to help repel Geth assaults.)

Something else to consider, I guess.

GURPS: Mass Effect, Part Seven

So, over on the Steve Jackson boards, I found this post that really works for me in terms of armor and weapons. I did a little bit of testing and, presuming my math is right, got the following results:

  • Given: light padding undersuit (DR 10), light plating (+DR 10) with light (ablative, hardened 2) shields (DR 50) vs assault rifle (4d (3) pi … although with the shields being hardened 2, the armor divisor is mostly irrelevant.)
  • There is no shield penetration until the fifth round (presuming average damage of 12), at which point shields are depleted. This actually works with the mechanics in the game fairly well, with the option existing to increase the efficacy of the shields and the penetration capability of the rounds.
Therefore, I think we have a winner. Will likely go with these mechanics and tweak them as any theoretical game progresses, which frees me up to think about other things.