Monday, April 24, 2017

Presenting Theodore Cayden Dover


He was born April 21st, 2017.  He is the first born son of the first born son of the first born son of the first born son of the first born son of Flix Dover, and the third in that line to bear the name Theodore. He's also super cute.

Obviously, as a first time dad, I have less time for things than I did before.  I don't know what that'll do for the blog, but it'll be a little touch and go for a bit.  I appreciate your patience.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Empire: Characters, and a Retrospective

(How am I doing, guys?)

I've written about the Empire for nearly 2 months and produced more than 70 pages of content (40k words).  Is it enough?  Is it too much?  Let me take a minute to think that through, discuss why I think my material is justified, and then to offer a summary of the whole thing, and a focus on building Imperial Characters.

My Target Audience

Back in the First Steps to a Setting, I described three sorts of people that I imagine might actually use Psi-Wars:
  • Star Wars fans open to something new
  • GURPS Sci-fi fans who want support for something Operatic
  • DF Fans who want to play something sci-fi-ish, but don't want to do the work.
My design has generally pushed towards a conservative design of the Empire: any fan of Star Wars will readily recognize the Empire of Star Wars in here, but with only a few major differences: Black Ops (and a similar organization surely exists somewhere in the EU), the fact that the Senate still exists, and the nature of the Emperor himself. Everything else is fairly recognizable.

From there, I've tried to focus exclusively on elements that directly support gameplay where I can.  The result should be organizations that need no additional work to play with (helping the DF-types), offering insights into how such organizations might work (for the GURPS Sci-fi fans), and offering Star Wars something familiar, but not too familiar.

I've chosen for the familiar path to cut down on the need to explain things to my players.  You don't need to read all 30 pages of the Psi-Wars Empire to get that it's like the Star Wars Empire: "Oh, it has dreadnoughts instead of Star Destroyers and Typhoons instead of Tie Fighters, and the Emperor is a little different.  Right.  Got it."  This means it lacks some creativity, but I don't personally feel this is the place for deep creativity.  Players should be grounded in a familiar world, and the Empire very much represents that world.  This helps the "Brents" who just want to jump straight into the game and not "do homework" to play.

Most of the material focuses on organizations, what they can do for you, and how they might oppose you.  This makes them a great grab-bag for the "Bjorns" who want to know which organization they should join, and why.  Perhaps he'll join Black Ops, play as a Black Op commando and get some great commando toys.  Or perhaps she'll play as a Imperial Security Agent who genuinely believes in the Empire, and is working to root out corruption from her post as an attache to a Minister of Justice aboard a Dominion-class Patrol Cruiser.  It also helps the Rebel player who wants to know what interesting opponents the Empire can throw against him.

This focus on organizations also helps the "Desiree" player who wants to know which factions to join and what they might want.  However, the elements that I expect will most interest her come at the beginning, as I discuss what it feels like to be in the Empire.

The player who will likely enjoy Imperial material the least is likely the "Willow." This material largely lacks rich lore, other than perhaps the true agenda of the Emperor, but the most fascinating elements are likely the secret cabal of evil space knights that surround him, which I haven't touched upon yet.  Why?  Because I need to understand space knights first, so we'll come back to them.

I also want this to be a grab-and-play sort of document for GMs, hence the inclusion of agendas (which amount to session seeds), and minions, who represent characters the GM can immediately throw at his players.

The net result is on the very small side of an SJGames supplement (on par with Boardroom and Curia) and smaller than the average Pyramid (which is about 40 pages long), unless we count gear.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Cross-Post Highlight: GURB, the Generic Universal Roleplaying Blog

I think I've mentioned several times that I regularly use material from other blogs to power Psi-Wars, and 90% of the time, I mean I'm using GURB.  He regularly dives into all parts of Ultra-Tech and pulls out more nuance that you can add to your setting and gadgetry, which is exactly the sort of thing I need.  If I'm honest, give GURB a year, and I won't need GURPS Vehicles 4e anymore.

I want to highlight two things.  First, GURB has put together an extensive modification of the article "Blaster and Laser Design" from Pyramid #3/37 "Tech and Toys II."  Erik, the writer of GURB, promises that at some point, he's going to compile all of his material, but I thought I would at least compile a set of links, for my own convenience, and for yours!

Second, I've noticed that Erik is a fan of Star Wars and, hoping that he was a fan of Psi-Wars, I asked if he'd be willing to donate some guns.  I gave him no constraints other than to allow him to create what he wanted to create and to follow the conventions of Psi-Wars, which meant he had to discard his alternative rules for Star Wars-style blasters (a rule I have in place to avoid more house rules than necessary, but I happen to think it's a good one, as removing the surge modifier from blasters would make some kind of EM disruptor an interesting weapon to wield against robots, so I might institute it anyway, but he's been kind enough to leave everything as backwards compatible as possible).  You can check out the weapons here: Psi-Wars: A Blaster Grab-Bag.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Patreon Post: The Scale of the Empire

Just how big is the Empire?  It's "big enough" of course, but how big is "big enough?"  How many fleets can they support?  And how big is a "fleet?"  Is it reasonable to have 100 dreadnoughts show up at every single planet they control, or is a fleet of 5 dreadnought huge?  For that matter, how many worlds does the Empire control? Five?  A million?  And why would the Empire ignore a world festering with pirates, or attack a well-defended world when it could just bypass it?

These are the sorts of questions that I don't think need an answer for you to run your Psi-Wars game, but if we want to "internally model" what's going on, it might be useful for us.  This post dives into economics, hyperspace geometry and the Pareto principle to give us an idea of what the Empire (albeit one using the compacted, manageable numbers I've stuck to throughout the design process) might really look like.

The Scale of the Empire is available for all $1+ patrons.  Go and take a look!  If you're not a patron, as usual, I'd love to have you!


Support me on Patreon!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Thoughts on the SJGames 2016 Stakeholder Report

This week, SJGames released, of their own free will, a Stakeholder Report, which is not something that they have to do, but they do so out of the kindness of their hearts.  Several people in the GURPS Blogosphere have made comments on it:
So I thought I'd toss in my own two cents, express some concerns I've had, and tackle where I suspect we, as a community, need to go from here.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Imperial Intelligence and Black Ops Personnel

The two spy branches of the Empire function very differently, but both have unique minions they can call on to support their agents in the field.

For Imperial Intelligence, their close connection with Security means they often arrange to waive or lessen a prisoner's sentence in exchange for service.  Many such "services" end in the death of the prisoner, but just as often they don't, and the Empire remains true to their word.  More, Imperial Intelligence often fosters relationships with the best of their former prisoner-agents, making use of them again and again.  The result is that many prisoners within the imperial prison system are, in fact, de-facto informers and agents for Imperial Intelligence, arranging for "escapes" by political prisoners and then infiltrating enemy ranks in return for special considerations back home.

Black Ops prefers a more direct approach and employs elite hitmen and assassins in the form of Commandos and Demolitionists, which they deploy in Outrider-Class corvettes behind enemy lines, where they can wreak havoc, investigate enemy positions, or assassinate their rivals.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Black Ops Materiel and Spaceships

While both Imperial Intelligence and Imperial Black Ops sport a great deal of interesting toys, the toys of Imperial Intelligence are mostly "generic" espionage trinkets that I currently don't feel need extra detail.  Black Ops, on the other hand, needs an entirely different set of tools to accomplish their work.  The brute force tactics of the Imperial Navy don't work with the Imperial Black Ops.

For the most part, the same weapons the Empire already has continues to work well for Imperial Black Ops, and they can continue to use the same spaceships (especially the Assassin-model of the Typhoon!), but I envision them with access to new armor and a few new ships, especially a corvette ideal for inserting commandos behind enemy lines.


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