Saturday, May 29, 2010

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Yeah, I'm really behind.  That's Modern Warfare 1, not 2.

When I first saw this game sitting on a shelf, I was immediately interested.  I generally disdain Call of Duty (seriously, how many WW2 shooters can you make?) but I've always been fascinated by modern, networked, high tech warfare, and so I'd wanted it for a long time.  As I'm beginning to prep for a return to my military sci-fi game, I figured it was time to indulge myself and pick it up from Steam.

Two thoughts really stand out: I see why many gamers bemoan the state of gaming today.  Modern Warfare is very short (like, 5 hours), and at points feels like I'm on a carnival ride just checking out the sights and occasionally shooting at them when my NPCs aren't killing everyone for me.  On the other hand, it's spectacularly cinematic, and some of those missions are utterly memorable (my god, Prypriat was so awesome).  Sean Punch, editor of GURPS, argues that these sorts of games are designed for the wealthy, on-the-move gamers who have gobs of money from working solid jobs, but very little time.  CoD is the ideal game to sit down with for like an hour, enjoy wildly, finish in under a week, and then buy the next big thing.  For gamers like me, who love to explore a game again and again, it's a slight disappointment.  Totally worth, say, $20, but not the $50 they originally asked, IMO (not unless I'm going to play multi-player alot).

Second thought: It's amazing how much shooters have advanced.  I remember playing some Call of Duty with Walter, and I'm pretty sure it didn't have some of the life-like features that Modern Warfare had.  Certainly the games I cut my teeth on didn't.  Wounded guys will pull their pistol and keep shooting at you, or they'll drop a grenade as you pass and then expire (these guys are particularly jerks).  Bad guys under fire will sometimes lift their guns over the cover and just spray blindly.  You can pick up grenades and throw them back.  Crouching in grass (especially when you're in a gilly suit) really does help hide your character.  Everything works pretty much like you'd expect it would.  The absolutely coolest additions, though, by far, was the inclusion of air support and the ability to call in strikes.  That, to me, is iconic of modern warfare.

So, fun.  And definitely a great source of inspiration.  Just wouldn't advise paying top dollar for it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

GURPS Ultra-Tech Vehicle Design

Alternate Title: Modern Tanks in Spaaaaace.

So, after years of planning and sacrificing the lives of many Bothans, I managed to infiltrate Kromm's secret laboratory and discover the release date of the GURPS VDS: Turns out, it'll be shortly after the Cabaret Chicks on Ice give a performance in hell.

Soooo, I've given up on the VDS.  I mean, yeah, it'll come out, and when it does, I'll buy it, but there's no point in waiting around for something that's not going to be out in years, especially when I want to run Space Opera now.  Now, several old veterans of GURPS, including the inestimable Rev. Pee Kitty, have declared that "You can just make up the stats for vehicles" by deriving them from real-world stats, and this certainly seems to be true.  However, this only works for "real world" vehicles, and we want to design, for example, contragravity gunships toting nanocomposite armor and gauss HMGs.  So how do we go about that?

Well, for one thing, 90% of the vehicles we want are really just real-world vehicles updated into an Ultra-Tech world.  For example, in G-Verse, we expect to see tanks, so how hard is it to take an Abrams, figure out its stats, and then figure out what it might look like in a UT environment?

With this in mind, I began part 1 of this process: Deriving real world stats.  For our example, we'll be using the Eurocopter Tiger Gunship because it looks sci-fi to me.  First, we take a look at the GURPS Vehicle stats:

ST/HP: According to GURPS, powered vehicles (ie, all the vehicles we'll be using) have identical HP/ST, therefore, all we need to do is derive the HP.  The formula is found in the tables in the back: The cube root of the loaded weight times 4.  This is consistent with all the vehicles I've found.  The Tiger has a loaded weight of 6.5 tons, or 13,000 lbs, which gives us an HP (and thus ST) of 92.  Easy.

Next we have Hnd/SR, how maneuverable and stable the craft is.  There's no easy way to derive this, so I just estimate.  Assuming the Tiger is the same as most Helicopters, this gives it a +2/2.  However, the Tiger seems to be able to pull things like loops, so I'll give it a +3/2 instead.

Next, we have HT, which seems to be a guess.  Standard vehicles have a 10, unreliable have a 9 or even an 8, whereas reliable vehicles have an 11 or 12.  The Tiger seems to be hardened with multiple redundant systems, so I'll give it an 11.

Move is divided between acceleration rate and top speed.  The later is easy: Take the top speed in MPH and divide by 2.  That gives you the Yards Per Second aka "Move."  Acceleration rate is harder for me to find, so I just stole the standard helicopter acceleration rates, giving us a 3/90

Loaded Weight and Load are easily found on Wikipedia.  In this case, we have 6.5 tons and 3 tons of load.

The Size Modifier is the longest dimension, +1 if it's an "elongated box" like a tank or a car, or +2 if it's a cube or a sphere.  In this case, a helicopter is a very long vehicle (14 yards at the longest), so I won't add the +1, and simply give it a SM of +5.

Occupancy is easily derived from Wikipedia: 2 (and sealed).

DR is kinda tricky.  Generally, you look for the "RHA value," which is basically armor given in the equivalent of "inches of steel" and you multiply that by between 50 and 70.  In this case, they simply tell us that the Tiger is capable of stopping rounds from a 23mm Autocannon.  I could only find 20mm and 25mm Autocannons, and they had 6dx3 and 6dx4 damage respectively.  Averaging them out to 6dx3.5 gives us an average damage of 75, and we make that the Tiger's DR.

Range is easily found on Wikipedia.

Cost is tricky.  I'm making a rough stab and guessing that a modern dollar is worth half as much as a GURPS dollar, giving us a cost of about $15.5 million for a Tiger.

Finally we have hit locations and notes, and that's pretty easy to figure out on your own (it has small glass windows, runners, rotors, weapon mounts, an independent turret)

So, the result:
TL 8
ST: 92
Hnd/SR: +3/2
HT: 11
Move: 3/90
LWt: 6.5
Load: 3
SM: +5
Occ.: 2S
DR: 75
Range: 500 mi
Cost: $15m
Locations: 2gH2Rt2X
Now, that's all well and good, but we want a TL 10 contragravity gunship swooping around.  We simply take the above, and modify them by comparing them to other vehicles that have similar technologies.

ST remains the same (We lower it to 90 for ease).  Contragravity vehicles seem to typically have +3/3 Hand/SR, so we give our gunship +4/3.  We improve the HT to 12 for the improved reliability of a TL 10 device.  Contragravity vehicles generally have an acceleration of 10, and the top speed varies.  We could leave it at 90-100 to reflect standard helicopter tactics, but Vertols and Tactical Tilt-Rotors (its main competition) have a top speed of 200, so we give it that.  LWt and Load remain the same.  We ditch the long tail and come away with a SM of +4.  We reduce Occupancy to 1 (we don't need a gunner).

DR is a little touchy: We find the equivalent DR in GURPS Spaceships (looking at TL 8 Metallic Laminate) and then adjust upwards to fit with the equivalent DR in GURPS Spaceships for a TL 10 armor (in this case, Nanocomposite).  That gives us double DR: 150.  That makes it about as tough as a guy in power armor.

We ignore range (a fusion engine means it can fly forever).

Finally, we have cost.  The armor is about 5 times as expensive, so we take the previous cost of the armor (about $300k according to Spaceships) and replace it with the cost of our new armor (about $1.5m).  Then we add up all the components we want:

A Gauss HMG in each “gun pod” to either side of the gunship ($88k)
A Gauss Minigun in the “chin turret” ($44k)
MLAWS in each “gun pod” on either side of the gunship ($46k)
Fusion Generator ($200k)
Complexity 9 Hardened Microframe computer ($20k)
Holographic Crew Station ($10k)
Inertial Navigation System (+5 navigation) ($5k)
Large Radar (200 miles)($100k)
Sensor Turret (Hyperspectral, 20x mag (+4), 20 mile LADAR) ($300k)
Medium Radio (200 mile range) ($1k)
IR Cloaking (-6) ($6k)
Radar Stealth (-6) ($6k)
Now, we're removing old guns and electronics, so we should strip those costs out, but prices tend to inflate with time, and our gunship is more maneuverable and reliable than a Tiger, so we'll simply lean towards pricier rather than cheaper, and add everything atop the cost of the Tiger.  This gives us a total cost of about $25m, which is comparable to the cost of things like the Tactical Tilt Rotor.

And there you have it, a complete Contragravity Gunship, ready for play.  I'll make some more and post them in my G-Verse page.
Contragravity Gunship "Raptor"
TL: 10
ST: 90
Hnd/SR: +4/3
HT: 12
Move: 10/200
LWt: 6.5
Load: 3
SM: +4
Occ.: 1S
DR: 150
Range: NA
Cost: $25m
Locations: g2Rrt2X

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

GURPS Space Opera Update

I have gobs of material that I should have posted by now.

I've updated my GURPS Space Opera sight to include the templates and loadouts I used during my Frozen War campaign  You can check them out here.  (Just scroll down, can't miss them) Enjoy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dark Space Update: Sanctified 2

I ran a quick playtest with Roomie, and he alleviated my fears over the Cyber-gnostics. They are not too complicated.  And now, in a spurt of creativity, I finished the Anointed (or whatever the heck I'll call them, the priestly types), who turned out to be cooler than I expected.  All I have left for them is their armory and the disciples, and I'll be done.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Werewolf: the Final Offering After Action Report 2

So, with some work and some arguing, I managed to schedule my Final Offering session for the Open Evening and gave it a shot.  The second time around, things went much more smoothly.  I played down the depth of the NPCs, played up the interesting factors surrounding the demons (the fight, this time around, was much better), and I kept the pacing swift.  We, in fact, managed to finish the entire session in just under 4 hours, which is an excellent clip, and it left nobody feeling underwhelmed.  I had a player who played in both, and he felt it was quite an improvement and, in his words, "probably the best session I'll ever get out of an open evening."  Strong praise.

I still feel that the sandbox model I've developed works best for campaigns or "long-shots," multi-session one shots.  I end up feeling as though I'm missing alot of the nuance in my game, and thus all the NPCs get a glimpse, and then we move on (a female player expressed interesting in Gill, surprisingly enough, but I lacked time to even touch on him further).  I think I can learn some solid lessons from this (that I'm at my strongest when I design characters and then work a plot around them, rather than the other way around), but it's probably a model best left to my longer games.

Amusingly, we had very similar events in both games.  Zig-Zag, our assassin, opted to be a janitor once again, and got in a seriously lethal, though not killing, blow.  A female player chose Shadowheart and played as a student, fell in love with Dixon, and used Corpse Witness on a dead pigeon.  At least this time, she got to speak to the Pigeon King and, erm, make-out with Tom-Tim (Who is now her favorite spirit character evar).  All in all, an excellent session and a big improvement over the first time around.

Dark Space Update: Sanctified

I just finished two of my Sanctified.  I finished my Knights (toying with calling them Celestial Knights) a few days back, and I was going to wait to post until I finished all three, but I just finished my Cyber-gnostics, and my god were they difficult.  They're very flexible and, hopefully, very interesting.  They're the most kick-ass "thinking class" I've ever seen, that's for sure, and I think they've utterly exceeded their inspiration, the Tech-priests of 40k.

On to the last of the three: the priests.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

WotG: Session 2 After Action Report

The heroes still find themselves in the town of Memorial, having finally defeated and purged the area of the Writhing Sickness Cult, and after loudly proclaiming how they intended to win it back for Southern Liang, the Hanzhou troops show up.

Once again, I didn't get through more than one major fight (though I had a minor, small fight too), partially because one of our players showed up very late again (he said so in advance).  We were also missing another friend.  However!  The fights were excellent.  The players have shifted from simply rolling dice to see what happens and have begun to engage in the tactics of the game.  We've also begun to see quite a bit of the Secret Arts (mostly cursing from Rene, who already knows the system, and the Secret Art of Genius from Erik).  So, we seem to be getting the system quickly enough (and no surprise, it's actually pretty easy).

Most importantly, the game flowed nicely.  Everyone felt in character, I was comfortable with the setting and the spelling out of the tale, and everyone enjoyed the game quite a bit.  The final battle against the cult was somewhat anti-climactic (Erik declared the Writhing Sickness Cult particularly vulnerable to Knock Back and, of course, the evil temple was filled with lava, so naturally, the big bad warrior tossed off an AoE KB effect, and that was pretty much the entire fight), though a bigger fight against the dark, ebil Hell Clan guy was quite a bit more engaging (humorously, every character involved in rescuing the girl from Tiger Knight, including the NPC, was gay. It just kinda worked out that way.  Poor girl).  Happily, both of my gay players have expressed interest in *cough* Street Saint, which means I'm playing him correctly.  The real challenge will be next session, when I reveal Soldier, if Bee has proper chemistry with him.

Next session we dig into the Great Game, and that's the end of the first arc.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

WotG: Romancing Tigers

I haven't discussed my Weapons of the Gods game, something I should remedy.

Anyone who knows me probably knows of my love of Weapons of the Gods by now.  It's a slick, sleak game that, while not without flaws, consistently provides for interesting combat, player involvement in stories, and tangled intrigues, encouraging exactly the sort of play that I want out of a game.  After my overwhelmingly positive experience with Weapons of the Gods and the Newton group, I felt it was time to spring it on the Eindhoven group.

Where Newton is filled with power-gaming, wish-fulfillment adventurers, Eindhoven is all about intrigue, drama and very stylish combat. Unsurprisingly, three of our 6 players are courtiers (if we land the 7th, she'll be a courtier too), with a single scholar, and two (just two) warriors.  And yes, we have another kung-fu courtesan (male this time.  Also associated with the Jade Dragon Society.  Those Jade Dragons and their prostitution, I swear...)

Romancing Tigers, thus, will be a political game.  I drew considerable inspiration from Smiling, Proud Wanderer and Red Cliff, and so I hope to have a multi-layered game where what seems to be going on is only a thin veneer over what's really going on, and that our battles are more often solved with a simple cup of tea than martial excellence.

The game will feature three major cities: Orchid Tea City, the beautiful and heavenly capital of vibrant Southern Liang (Home to the Dong), Perpetual Peace, the ancient, decaying and prestigious old capital of Hanzhou (Home to the Hell Clan), and Dragon Bennison, a ruthless and oppressive city ruled by a fierce general within the Jin Empire (Home to the Nan Clan).  At first, we'll merely introduce each location to the players, moving them along with a swiftly flowing story, then we'll unleash the real plot, and set the players loose on it.  In a way, it resembles Slaughter City in its location-based game design, though it will begin a little less free.

Tomorrow will be our second session, and hopefully, we can finish our introduction and move on to the "real" beginning of the story.
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