Thursday, March 24, 2011

Knight Hawks game release 0.0.16 available

I've just pushed out a new version of the Second Sathar War and Knight Hawks combat simulator game. You can get the full details and the download on the main release announcement forum topic.

This version of the game adds mines into the tactical game allowing minelayers to deploy mines both during setup if they are the defending player and during their movement phase during the course of the game. I also added the users guide (which I need to update) to the download as well so you don't have to go searching for it on the forum site.

If you're interested in the more technical aspects of what I added, I'll be posting an entry on my Programming Space blog in the next few days. I'll post a link here when it is up as well. In the meantime, go download the game and have fun.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Crosspost: Saturn never fails to amaze

This isn't specifically about Star Frontiers but it is space related and so I thought I'd post a cross link to my other blog, Programming Space. Here's a excerpt.

Jupiter is neat, you can see the banding from the storm clouds and if the air is still and you’ve got a good telescope (say 8 inches or better), you can see the Red Spot if it is facing towards you. Plus you have the Gallilean sattelites that are visible as well.

But there is just something special about Saturn and it’s rings that captures the public’s imagination. With a good telescope you can see the rings sharply defined around the planet and even see the Cassini division (named after the astronomer who first discovered it), the large gap in the rings that is prominent on any image of the planet. It’s always a crowd pleaser.

Follow the jump to the full post. Enjoy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Game Version

I just pushed out a new version of the Second Sathar War game that I've been slowly working on for the last few years. The game comes in two flavors: A full Second Sathar War game simulation implementing the rules from the Knight Hawks campaign book and a stand alone tactical game allowing you to have battles with fleets of ships of your own design.

You can download the game (Windows and Linux) and find the full details at the Release 0.0.15 announcement page on the Star Frontiers Network site where I maintain information and discussions about the game.

This version fixes a number of bugs having to do with drawing your ship's path on the board and the selection of targets for you weapons. It also completes the implementation of the Advanced Damage Table with the inclusion of the Navigation hit forcing your damaged ship to expend all of it's MR turning right or left.

If you've ever played the Knight Hawks board game, download it and try it out.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Game Mastering

I just finished reading this book, Gamemastering, by Brian Jamison. He has a website dedicated to the same topic as well. The book is available in physical form from Amazon or in PDF form from Brian's website.

As someone who has played in and run games off and on for several decades, I found this to be an excellent resource. It reminded me of many of the good and bad things I've seen over the years as both a GM and a player. The book gives tips and advice on all aspects of running a game from character creation, to adventure preparation to starting and ending a gaming session.

The advice and ideas are not tied to a specific game system or genre but are generally applicable to any type of game you run. If you run any sort of role-playing game, this book is a must read. You may not agree with or use all the ideas and techniques included in the book, but there are so many that you are bound to walk away with a few gems that will improve the game for both you and your players. I know I did.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Game Report - Exiting the Caves

I'm playing Crash on Volturnus with my kids (ages 6, 11, 11, and 14) and they are currently in the Forbidden Caverns. They have a completely non-human party, two Dralisites, a Vrusk, and a Yazirian. Here's the game report from our last session:

They had just made it past the magma monsters in the previous session and had camped to get some rest (having been in the caves for 4 1/2 days at this point.

Upon awaking the party struck camp and continued ahead. After trudging through the caverns for nearly an hour the path foward split: continue straight ahead or take a branching passageway south. An argument quickly ensued with voices echoing off the cavern (aka kitchen) walls. In the end they two envirnomentalists (one of the dralasites and the yazirian) overrode the militant dralasite and they continued west. (Amazingly, they still remembered that I had told them right after the cave in that the Ul-mor were headed north. It has been nearly a year and a half since that session as we haven't had many opportunities to play.)

A few more hours brought them to the lake shore. As they were getting closer I told them that there were more giant mushrooms in the passageways and they again remembered that they had seen them all over the caverns. (It's amazing what kids remember even after many months.) After testing that the mushroom stalks would float, they cut oars out of the stalks and hollowed out the caps of the mushrooms to use as boats. And so, one character per boat, the little flotilla set out across the lake.

The original destination was the island at the south end of the lake. However, as I described the strong current that started to pull them south, the 14 year old (playing the environmentalist dral) freaked out and decided that heading to the island wasn't such a good idea after all and they put all their effort into getting to the far shore.

About half way across the lake, the vrusk (Military PSA and medic, played by the 6 year old) noticed a fin in the water that was coming straight towards him. Calling out to the others, he readied his machete. Just in time as a large jawfish (shark) leapt out of the water and tried to take a bit out of him. Both he and the fish connected, the fish biting his arm as he ran the machete up its mouth. Partially protected by his skeinsuit, the vrusk took 7 points of damage while inflicting 18 on the jawfish.

The jawfish didn't like that outcome and swam out and circled the little flotilla. While the other three paddled to try to get out of there, the yazirian (played by one of the 11 year olds) drew his laser pistol and emptied the clip into the fish (one 5 SEU shot). Despite his low skill, the rocking mushroom boat and the distance, he connected (rolled a 04) and scored 29 points of damage.

Angered by the blast the fish made for the yazirian's boat. Seeing the fish coming, the yazirian readied his machete to take a swing at it when it got close. Deciding to go after the boat instead of the contents the jawfish attacked his mushroom boat breaking it in half and causing it to capsize. Not willing to miss the opportunity, the yaz swung with the machete and scored an excellent hit doing an addtional 23 points of damage.

Having had enough, the jawfish swam away leaving the yazirian floundering in the water. His vrusk companion quickly paddled over and pulled him into his boat. The party made it to the far shore without any further mishap.

They continued away from the shore until they reached a branch in the passageway. Overriding the militant dral's desire to take the southern route, they continued to head northeast. Coming to a fourway branch they opted to take the northern route. After traveling just a bit longer they heard the sound of banging and crashing as if things were being thrown around or dropped.

Investigating closer, the found a robot sweeping the floor with his hands and throwing rocks to get them out of his way. Overcome with excitement to try to use their robotics skills, the vrusk and yazirian race forward to deactivate the robot. The vrusk gets there first but gets tangled up in the robot's arms and the yazirian reaches in to remove the access panel and deactivate it (much to the 6 year olds dismay at not being able to do it). Exausted by the long day's march and the paddling across the lake, the party decide to use this room as a camp and set up for the night.

After the vrusk repairs the damaged components, the yazirian takes a look at the bot and, disappointed that it is only level one and can't be turned into a combat robot, decides to make it a pack mule. They take some ion bonding tape and tape the yazirian's robocom kit to the robot so that our militant dral doesn't have to carry it any more.

In the "morning", rested and refreshed as much as possible, the team heads back to the four way branch. Once again the militant dral wants to go south but is outvoted. Heading west the group finds that the passage way turns north and runs parallel to the lake for several kilometers before turning east again. After a short distance, they hear the sound of a human singing up ahead.

Upon closer inspection, they see Phalen the Black singing to himself and roasting a rastie on his mushroom campfire. Hearing the last line of Phalen's song "Any thing that move I shoots with me gun." and seeing the laser rifle on the ground next to him, our environmentalist dral decides she is going to sneak up on him and stun him with her shock gloves.

However, our militant dral, who's been outvoted at every turn, decides that enough is enough and he want's to kill something (he was upset he didn't get to take a swing at the jawfish). While the other dral is trying to move forward quietly, he pulls out his laser pistol and fires a 10 SEU shot. He misses but alerts Phalen to their presence.

Cursing, the other dral moves forward at max speed while everyone else graps a weapon. The team wins initative (thanks to good die rolls and the high initative modifier of our speedy vrusk) and get to fire first. Our dral has closed the distance and swings with her shock gloves but misses. Switching his empty laser pistol for his sonic stunner, our militant Dral fires again but at 30 m range misses completely. The vrusk and yazirian decide to close the distance before firing and the vrusk readies a tangler greande. Phalen fires at the dral trying to punch him but misses with both shots (it's hard to use a rifle in melee).

Next round the team wins initiative again and once again tries to subdue the pirate. The shock gloves miss once more and the tossed grenade by the vrusk misses, bounces beyond the melee and explodes harmlessly some distance past the fire. After two misses at range, the other dral decides to close the distance and test out the crystal knife he's been making (he snagged a piece of crystal from the cave of fire) with the help of our two environmentalists (1d5 damage -5% to hit, it's still very crude). The yazirian has been staying out of the fight taking a defensive posture to try to dodge any shots the pirate may take at him. Once again Phalen fires at the dral with the shock gloves and misses.

On the final round, the team gains initative once more and the shock gloves connect stunning Phalen before he can react. The yazirian ties him up (with one of his many 10m ropes from the survival kits) and they wait for him to wake. They start asking him question but it doesn't really get them anywhere. He tells them his name and that he's been wandering here and there through the caves but is lost. He's lost his robot and doesn't want to turn into a fungus. This last bit of news (repeated several times by the pirate) freaks out our enviro dral and she wants to get out of there immediately.

After some debate (one dral wants to kill the pirate and the other wants to just leave him), they decide to leave the robot with the pirate but take his gun and powerpack. (The vrusk got the rifle and the yazirian got the power pack). The militant dral is against the idea of leaving the robot since he's tired of lugging the yazirian's robocom kit around but in the end they agree. They realize that while they were arguing, Phalen has slipped away.

Not wanting to stay where the pirate may come back, the team continues through the dark and twisty caverns for several more hours, finally stumbling out of the caves into the bright desert sand. Not far away, the Ul-mor are camped. Athru, their Ul-mor contact rides up to them and relates the events that had befallen the Ul-mor during the last few days. Our militant dral is probably most excited to see the Ul-mor since he is once again re-united with the Loper cubs (the baby dinosaurs as he calls them) which he had rescued while they were wandering in the desert. He had missed his "pets" while lost in the caverns. The team set up camp by the Ul-mor and the session ended.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

News from the Frontier

Just a quick note to mention a few Star Frontiers related news items:

  • A new episode of the Whispers from the Void podcast is on-line. Jump over to the podcast's website and grab any episodes you've missed.
  • Issue 16 of the Star Frontiersman Magazine came out at Christmas. If you haven't gotten a copy, grab one today.
  • A new remastered version of the classic Star Frontiers module "The Dramune Run" is also available on the Star Frontiersman website. Grab it from the module download page along with any of the other remastered modules you need.
I'm working on an update to the Second Sathar War computer game that I've been working at off and on over the years. Expect and update soon.