Thursday, May 25, 2017

State of the Blog: June

This post is a bit early, though I suppose given my preference for posting on Thursdays, it fits.  I wanted to take a second and talk about what's up, what isn't, and what the blog might look like over the next couple of months.

First and foremost, as anyone will children already knew, my ambition for maintaining my writing after the birth of my son was... ambitious.  I have had entire days where all of my hours were working, eating and taking care of him.  He's honestly not so bad, most of the time, but sometimes, I simply have no time to write, and when I do, I'm so exhausted that it's difficult to find focus.  That doesn't mean I've stopped, of course, but the breakneck pace of 4 posts a week, plus a patreon post, is turning out to be a bit much.  That, paired with losing my lead time to Orphan of the Stars, means I need a break to catch up.

So here's the plan.

Orphans of the Stars

If Orphans is going to slow me down then, by god, it's also going to be what gives me a break.  The fellow who commissioned the work also gave me permission to do with it what I pleased: it's my work, he just commissioned it.  What I have, in addition to the document itself, is my personal design journal, and my thoughts on why it worked when other works haven't.  Over the next two weeks, I'm going to share this material with you, culminating in a Patreon exclusive access to the Orphans of the Stars rules for political gameplay, which will be available to all $5 patrons for June only.

This document breaks down Boardroom and Curia and various City Stat works to create an extremely detailed look at playing a "domain management" campaign.  I've designed it for a sort of "cut down" version of running planets, but in principle I think you could use its lessons for more down-to-earth games.

This will come with a change to my Patreon payment policy: currently, when you pledge, you are not charged.  Only at the beginning of the month do you get charged. Technically, that means you can pledge, access my material, and then delete your pledge, and never pay.  I've only had one person do this in the entire time I've run my Patreon, but I'd rather forestall it happening in the future, and I think you get enough material from my patreon to be worth the jump.  I also think most people don't realize that this is the case, and assume they get charged as soon as they join!  Now, this will actually be true.

I'll make the change on the 31st.  If you want to join, I recommend waiting until the 1st of June!

The Houses of the Alliance

As of this moment, I have got between 10 to 20k words on the Houses alone, and I need even more. What I thought might be simple has turned into something larger than the Empire, because I need to discuss an entire government's worth of organizations plus the very distinct character options that noble houses present.  So it's not that I have nothing, it's just that what I have hasn't been polished off yet.  I think you guys will enjoy them, though they represent a distinct shift in tone from Star Wars.  It looks to be about 2 months worth of posts, at this point, but we'll see.

I will hopefully release this after I finish up with my Orphan of the Stars posts.  It should come as a big chunk to all $3+ patrons, and then the rest of you will see it post-by-post on the blog.

The History of Tech

I know I promised it this month, but the outtakes of my work turned into Tech Week, so hopefully that'll mollify everyone.  I'm still hard and work on this, it's just that it turned out to be more work than I expected!  It also turned out to be very useful to my work on the houses, as they're steeped in ancient tradition.  Hopefully, I can finish it and release it as a series on my Patreon (pricing TBD).

And Beyond!

So that's it.  I've been able to maintain some pacing, but not as much as I would like.  I want to thank everyone for their patience, and I hope to see you next month!

Tech Week 4: Explosives Revisted (A Patreon Post)

It's Tech Week! Based on feedback or elements that have come up as I've worked on setting design, I've come up with some additional details on technology that I've been using to refine my material from the third iteration. Eventually, I'd like to separate the tech material off into its own little book, but there's still quite some work before I can do that.

Why is this on Patreon and not on my blog? Well, first, I don't want to interfere with the flow of my setting material and, second, this gets a little rambling and acts as something of a design journal.

Today, I revisit explosives. This may seem an odd choice, but explosives and infrastructure have a symbiotic relationship in the action genre. How many charges do you need to take out a factory? What sort of bombs are at your disposal? When I worked on the insurgency, I realized how important this was, and so I offer a thorough study of appropriate explosives and their impact on the Psi-Wars world, including 5 sample structures you can destroy!

This post is available to all $1+ patrons.  If you're patron check it out!  If you're not, I'd love to have you.

Support me on Patreon!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tech Week Part 3: Infotech Revisited (A Patreon Post)


It's Tech Week! Based on feedback or elements that have come up as I've worked on setting design, I've come up with some additional details on technology that I've been using to refine my material from the third iteration. Eventually, I'd like to separate the tech material off into its own little book, but there's still quite some work before I can do that.

Why is this on Patreon and not on my blog? Well, first, I don't want to interfere with the flow of my setting material and, second, this gets a little rambling and acts as something of a design journal.

Today, I revisit infotech. So far, I've just breezed past computers and used default assumptions for sensory technology. With this post, I dive deeper into what I really want out of my sensors, computers and what interstellar commuication infrastructure looks like.

This post is available to all $1+ patrons.  If you're not already a patron, I'd love to have you!


Support me on Patreon!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tech Week Part 2: Armor Revisited (A Patreon Post)

It's Tech Week! Based on feedback or elements that have come up as I've worked on setting design, I've come up with some additional details on technology that I've been using to refine my material from the third iteration. Eventually, I'd like to separate the tech material off into its own little book, but there's still quite some work before I can do that.

Why is this on Patreon and not on my blog? Well, first, I don't want to interfere with the flow of my setting material and, second, this gets a little rambling and acts as something of a design journal.

Today, I revisit armor. Action stories love fist fights, which make no sense in GURPS when fighting guys with armor, and the realism of this is questionable. Today, I look at some optional house rules to fix that, and then I dive deeper into the armor design systems offered in various Pyramid articles, including rules for using Battleweave and Cerablate Resin with them.

This is available to all $1+ Patrons.  If you're a patron, check it out!  If you're not, I'd love to have you.


Support me on Patreon!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Tech Week part 1: Weapons Revisited (a Patreon Post)

It's Tech Week!  Based on feedback or elements that have come up as I've worked on setting design, I've come up with some additional details on technology that I've been using to refine my material from the third iteration.  Eventually, I'd like to separate the tech material off into its own little book, but there's still quite some work before I can do that.

Why is this on Patreon and not on my blog?  Well, first, I don't want to interfere with the flow of my setting material and, second, this gets a little rambling and acts as something of a design journal.

Today, I revisit weaponry.  Specifically, I look at some house rules suggested by other blogs, take a look at fears regarding accuracy, recoil and rof combining to make supremely lethal weapons, and and then I explore EM disruptors (Utinni!), Stunners (why I haven't really talked abou them), Stingray Rounds, and Psi-Swords


Support me on Patreon!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Patreon Post: The Rebellion of Grist

Junk World by Mark Molnar
For today's Patreon post, I've finished off my series on Insurgents by letting you, my dear Patreons, design the Rebellion of Grist, via a series of polls, including who leads the rebellion, what their great assets are, their great weaknesses, and what sort of rebellion they are.  These polls are available to all Companions ($5+).  If you're a patron, go check it out!  If you're not, I'd love to have you.

For the rest of you, I've included a cultural discussion of Grist below, which is a copy of Grist's culture from Iteration 5, which may have slipped past people unnoticed.


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Insurgency Summary and Retrospective

When I started writing the Insurgency, I really had no idea where to start.  I had to dig around.  How are rebellions fought?  What are some good examples of rebellion?  What popped out, and I hope this doesn't reflect too badly on my material, were terrorists, from the IRA to the Taliban to the Vietcong, which served as the primary resources for my material, plus general discussions on how guerrillas win wars, and a look at the French Resistance.  I didn't use more classic inspirations, such as the American Minute Men or the various rebellions of the Americas, primarily because the technology, and thus the needs of war, differ so much.

One element that I find fascinating about the whole affair is how few changes I had to make to get these elements to fit into Psi-Wars.  Perhaps I'm not thinking about the technological differences enough, but I happen to think that's the strength of Psi-Wars: as it's essentially modern action thrillers with a thin, space opera veneer, our rebels don't use molotov cocktails and clubs, but plasma cells and neurolash batons, but otherwise everything looks very similar.  I think you have to knock the setting for originality, but at least give it marks for ease of entry.

The hardest part of this exercise was the realization that there's no such thing as a "typical" insurgency.  The Vietcong, French Resistance, Taliban and IRA all fight very differently, so your insurgency should fight very differently from my insurgency.  When I hit upon the design of four arbitrary "types" of insurgency, though, that made it work well in my mind, as well as a "grab bag" of various insurgent characters and tactics that you could grab for designing your own.  When I worked on the Empire, I came up with "Tactics" to help me sort out my thoughts on how the Empire fought.  I had initially dismissed doing the same for insurgencies, as they all fight so differently, but then I realized I could show those differences, use them to contrast.  The result is, perhaps, a bit long, but hopefully useful in giving you, my dear reader, how an insurgency might conduct itself and why it might actually be a serious threat.

So, how are we doing? Is the insurgency useful, appropriate and fitting?  Let's take a look, with a bonus "Insurgency Summary" for those who want to jump right in.

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