Monday, July 31, 2017

Aristocratic Regulars and Military Forces

Celsius-13 Royal Railgun Guard
Not what regulars would
actually look like, but you get
the idea
Aristocratic power have nothing but the weight of tradition and law if they don't have the military power to back it up, and boy do they!  In fact, the primary reason I created the aristocracy and the Alliance was to give those who opposed the Empire reasonably access to military hardware.  While the ships will have to wait (it turns out designing the ships of the Alliance quickly turns into "Designing all of the combat ships of the Galaxy that don't belong to the Empire"), I can show you how their forces operate.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The State of the Patreon - August 2017

This has been a very up and down month.  At the start of it, I only had about half of the month worked out and while I had hope to get quite a lot of Patreon stuff done, I was only able to finish about half of it.  As a result, this has been one of my worst months for reviews and my pledges are down just a bit (but not much).

It's worked out well, though.  I've finally gained a full month of lead time on all fronts.  I have my blog scheduled all the way through August, which will finish the aristocracy and the Alliance, though there's a few little touch ups I might do before the end of August.  I'm already starting on September, which will be Philosophy.

What about Patreon?  Well, like I said, I had some good intentions last month, but didn't quite make them in July, so I've made extra effort to make sure I can deliver on my promises, and I've also got all the August Patreon posts scheduled already!  On the 11th, I have two Martial Arts posts, one a general one discussing problems with martial arts and Psi-Wars, and looking more deeply at how the martial arts of the Alliance were designed and how I see them interacting.  The second is for $3+ and looks at two concepts in GURPS Martial Arts: the Secret Technique and the Useless Technique.  I offer quite a few tricks that might improve a specific martial artists approach or give him a unique strategy, as well as a move or two that either outright doesn't work, is a questionable strategy, or is more cultural than martial.  This will coincide with a revisiting of the Graceful, Defensive, Swift and Destructive Force Sword forms on my blog, from the perspective of the Alliance.

On the 18th, coinciding with the release of the first two noble houses, I have my first ever $7+ patreon exclusive: the House of Alexus.  It will be a poll consisting of 7 questions that will allow you to decide how the vanished house that once ruled the "Eternal Empire" worked, what their character was, and what their ultimate fate was.

On the 25th, coinciding with the release of the last noble house, I have another poll for $5+ patrons: the Fifth Noble House.  I personally want to encourage all of my readers to realize that the four noble houses I outline aren't the totality of the aristocracy within the Psi-Wars galaxy, and by offering some inspiration, I hope to encourage you to make your own.  I've also wanted a fifth house since the beginning, and I thought this would be a good chance to have your voice in the setting.

That should cover all of August.  I do plan on doing more with Spaceships, but I want to make a priority of making sure I've got enough material going into September before I do that, so we don't see a repeat of June and July, at least not for awhile.  I also want to thank you again for your patience.  I wouldn't be here with you guys.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Noble Houses as Organizations, and an Introduction

I'm not saying it was a great movie, but it does a good job
capturing how sci-fi aristocracy might look.
The aristocracy of the Alliance served as the foundation for the Federation that came before the Empire, and the Empire that came before the Federation.  It has ruled the galaxy for over a thousand years, and does not intend to stop now.  They represent both the golden age of the past, and a chance to bring about a new era for the Galaxy.  Today, I kick off a surprisingly long series that takes a deeper look at them, both as organizations and as characters.

Today, I start with noble houses as organizations, what it means to belong to one, and what they can do for you.  I want to note that this is a "first draft," and that the following is incomplete.  The deeper I dived into all of this, the more I realized I needed greater detail on spycraft and law enforcement, but I already had the latter for the Alliance in the form of the Constabulary, and the former will require a thorough look at all organizations.  Thus, take all that follows as my first stab, just as everything else I've written in Iteration 6 has been.  I'll take another look at everything before the iteration wraps up.

I'm also trying something new with how I generate these posts, so you might notice that this is much earlier than the past month's worth of posts have been.  That's because it was actually scheduled, again.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Patreon Post: Iteration 6 Spaceships Playtest 1: The Standard Scenario and Dreadnought v Dreadnought

If I'm going to revise my rules, I need to test them.  Do they cause problems?  Do they fix the things I intend them to fix?  What I have going here is an iteration inside an iteration, and it was caused by my attempts to build spaceships for the Alliance, which turned into "Spaceships for everyone," which quickly ran aground of the fact that SS doesn't offer me enough options, which means I need to look at things more carefully, and that means playtest.

Today's playtest sets look briefly at a typical scenario (the old Starhawks vs a Dreadnought fight), and looks again at the playtest we saw Monday, namely Dreadnoughts vs Dreadnoughts.  I'll need to revisit these again, but with most of these findings, the next step will be to take a look at corvettes, which is the heart of why I want to do this, but that won't happen this week.  Instead, this Friday, look for the State of the Patreon.

If you're a Patron ($1+) check it out.  If you're not, as usual, I'd love to have you.

Support me on Patreon!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Patreon Post: Spaceships Rewritten

(I can't find more on the image than that)
I've tried to keep Psi-Wars as generic as possible, which means you should be able to use material straight out of the book and it should work.  But, first of all, not everything works that well out of the book (some ships are just too different from our assumptions to be useful, and others have major errata that requires a rewrite); second of all, it'd be nice to offer more publishable ships instead of always directing you to existing works.  Finally, I could more tightly refine my material to fix everything.

I originally started this because I wanted to fix Corvettes, which I worry don't work well enough in the current model.  In the meantime, more issues have popped up, so I wanted to address them with a new round of rule revisions, which will eventually necessitate a rewrite of quite a few spaceships, but I'm okay with that.

So, today, I present the first crack at those alternate rules.  When I'm finished, I'll collate them all into the Iteration 6 version of the space combat rules.  This post is available to all $1+ Patrons, so if you're any patron, check it out!  If you're not a patron, as usual, I'd love to have you!

Support me on Patreon!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Patreon Post: (Old) Dreadnought Playthrough

I've wanted to take some time to look at spaceships again, because I see more points where they need work, and especially as dive into the specifics of Iteration 6, I want to take greater control over my setting (using generic Starhawks and Typhoons is fine if we want to just rapidly prototype a setting, but if I'm going to build it in detail, why not build my ships as well?)

This is likely to go on for awhile, and this week is mostly cleaning up loose ends.  This also means I need to dive into whatever changes I propose to make sure they work, so I hope you like playtests! Most of these will be $1+, because, they're mainly mechanical asides and technical discussions, but when I start building ships for the final version, those will be $3+.

Today's post is a companion post to an old post, going back to the dawn of my Patreon, back, I think, to literally my first Patreon exclusive.  It's the playtest between dreadnoughts that confirmed the rules I documented in Dreadnoughts Revisited. I've gone ahead and included the resulting document here, for ease.  I'm posting this because a few of my Patrons heard it existed and were very curious about it. Note that by the time my update is finished, a lot of the rules contained herein will be invalidated, but I find it a fun read, especially the battle between the Reaper and the Rain of Fire (the third one), which is the first time I think I've ever shown dreadnoughts at their actual scale of power.

It's for $1+ Patrons, so if you're a Patron at all, check it out!  If not, as always, I'd love to have you.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

PC Spotlight -- Zander Starlane, Aristocratic Assassin

When I showed the preview document to one of my Patrons, he found himself swarming with character ideas.  He created this one, Zander Starlane, and I offer it to you, dear reader, as a fun preview.

Zander grew up with Nova Sabine and believes in her cause.  However, visions of her death plagued her.  Desperate to prevent it, he found himself face to face with an ominous opponent to strong to defeat on his own.  Only through luck and the assistance of Asura Kain did he prevail.  But his visions didn't stop, showing him a dangerous conspiracy that worked against the Alliance and his House.  Now, under the guise of a playboy, he works in the shadows to protect his House, and his Nova Sabine.

Attributes: ST 11 [10], DX 16* [100]; IQ 11 [20]; HT 11 [10]
Secondary Characteristics: Damage 1d-1/1d+1; BL 24 lbs; HP 11 [0]; Will 12 [5]; Per 13* [0]; FP 11 [0]; Basic Speed 7.00* [10]; Basic Move 7 [0].

Acute Touch+1* [0]; Bloodline Purity 2* [0]; Craftiness +3 [15]; Cultural Familiarity (Galactic Federation) [0*]; Galactic Common (Native) [0*]; Honest Face [1]; Immunity (Golden Whin) [1]; Legal Immunity (Alliance Aristocrat) [2]; Luck [15]; Sabine Battle Trance (Combat Sense 1 [24]); Sabine Grace [16], Sabine Sensitivity [13], The Sabine Caress [1]; Status +1 [5], Title (Gentleman) [1]; Visions (Aspected (Death), Overwhelming) [5]; Wealth (Comfortable) [10]; Weapon Master (Force-Sword) [20].

Martial Arts Perks:
Style Familiarity (Graceful Form) [1]
Grip Master (Force Sword) [1]
Trademark move(The Counter step) [1]
Weapon Bond (Force Sword) [1]

Eugenic Perks:
20/20 hindsight (ESP) [1];
Bloodline Purity 2* [0]
Classic Appearance (Aristocratic) [1]
I feel them Watching Me (ESP) [1];
Sabine Bloodline [1];

Code of Honor (“Aristocrat”) [-10] ; Duty (House Sabine, Extremely Hazardous Duty, 9 or less) [-10]; Paranoia [-10]; Secret ("Sabine Assassin") [-5]; Selfless [-5]; Sense of Duty (House Sabine) [-5]; Trademark (Northern Golden Whin) [-5]; Vow ("Nova Sabine may never know what I do for her") [-5]

Dislikes (Empire) [-1]
Likes (Booze) [-1]
Lecherous when drunk [-1]
Debt (I owe House Kaine a favor) [-1]
Splatterpunk [-1]

Acrobatics (H) DX [4]-16
Acting (A) IQ+4 [4] – 15*
Beam Weapons (Pistol) (E) DX [1]-16
Climbing (A) DX-1 [1]-15
Combat Sense (H) IQ-1 [2] – 10
Computer Operation (E) IQ [1]-11
Escape (H) DX-1 [2]-15;
Fast-Talk (A) IQ+1 [4] -12
Flying Leap (H) – IQ-1 [2] – 10
Force Sword (A) DX+2 [8] – 18
Gesture (E) IQ+1 [2] – 12
Holdout (A) IQ+4 [4] – 15*
Judo (H) DX [4]-16
Jumping (E) DX [1]-16
Karate (H) DX [4]-16
Navigation (Hyperspace) (A) IQ-1 [1]-10
Observation (A) Per-1 [1]– 12
Pilot (Starship) (A) DX-1 [1]-15
Poison (H) IQ  [4] – 11
Precognitive Defense (H) – IQ-1 [2] – 10
Savoir-Faire (High-Society) (E) IQ [1] – 11
Shadowing (A) IQ+3* [2] – 14
Stealth (A) DX+4* [4]-20
Vacc Suit (A) DX-1[1]-15

Acrobatic Stand (A) – Acrobatics-4 [2] – 12
Feint (Force Sword) (H) – Force Sword+2 [3] – 20
Timed Defense (Force Sword) (H) [2] – 11 (12 with Sabine Battle Trance)

Cadet Branch Starlane

His notes: They are less prestigious than the Sabine and only came into power after the corruption of the oracular order. Before the Empire took over they were performers, merchants and traders, finding new connections for the Sabine, while there was rumor behind the scenes that they also concerned themselves with smuggling, prostitution and *gasp* murder.

Patreon Preview: the Alliance

Not what I had in mind
but sure, why not?
Alright, I've been dribbling out Alliance details for awhile now, but now I've well and truly got it finished, and for those of you who aren't patrons, it's scheduled already through August (in what will prove to be a very hectic posting schedule!).  If you are a $3+ patron, though, you can have it now!  It clocks in at 45,000 words, plus a 15,000 word personnel file.  No wonder it took so damn long to write!

This explicitly includes aristocratic space knights, revised versions of the "dueling styles" (the destructive form, the graceful form and the swift form), and four new noble houses (the beautiful Sabine, the haughty Grimshaw, the tragic and lethal Elegans, and the gruff Kain).

If you're a patron, you can check it out here!  If you're not, as usual, I'd love to have you.

Support me on Patreon!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Alliance Militia Personnel

Militia Strategies

Militias focus almost exclusively on defense, and each militia has its own approach to defense (which makes coordinating between multiple militia somewhat difficult!). To simplify, consider three strategies below, each of which offers some optional traits that members of a militia following that strategy might have.


The militia uses trench warfare, embanked guns, minefields and planetary shields to create impenetrable zones of control that the enemy cannot bypass.

Optional traits:

  • Barricade Tactics [1]. Militia in cover apply an additional -1 to opponents attempting to shoot at them, giving opponents a -3 rather than -2.
  • Cool under Fire [1]. Militia ignore the -2 for pop-up attacks (this increases all “Fire from Cover” Tactics by +2!).
  • Enhanced Dodge (Dive for Cover) [5]. Militia have +1 to defend from explosions.


The militia relies on mobility, vehicular supports and “defense in depth” to defeat the enemy. The create a flow, flexible defensive line that can absorb the enemy’s advance, and flow around the enemy lines for a counter attack.

Optional traits:

  • Move Under Cover [1]. Assume the NPCs always find cover, if any is remotely available, at the end of a move on foot.
  • Motorized Training [1]. Ignore penalties for firing from a moving vehicle if a passenger. Gain the following tactic:
    • Fire on the Move (+1 to base skill): While aboard a moving vehicle (-0) as a passanger, make an All-Out (+1) Sighted attack with your weapon, firing a single shot at your opponent. You may not defend (but your vehicle may).
  • Basic Move +1 [5].


The militia fights using asymmetrical tactics against a superior foe. They prefer to fade into the terrain, to break apart under attack and reform later, which makes them maddeningly difficult to defeat, though it does little to actually protect the land or infrastructure.

Optional traits:

  • Dead Eye [1]. The nameless NPC may aim for 4 turns for a maximum accuracy bonus of +3 (rather than +2). Gain the following tactic:
    • Careful Aim (+Accuracy+5 to base skill): After aiming for 4 turns, apply full accuracy +3 from weapon and make an All-Out (+1) Sighted attack with your weapon, firing a single shot at your opponent. You may not defend.
  • Sure-Footed (Terrain): Ignore up to -2 to attack penalties for a specific terrain, or -1 to defense penalties for a specific terrain.
  • Fit [5].

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Alliance Militia Materiel

The Alliance military is defined by a strategy of distributed defense. Where the empire manages the defense of all member worlds, the Alliance expects their military forces to manage their own defense, and where they cannot, the alliance calls upon aristocrats to ride to the rescue of member worlds with their highly mobile fleets. Thus, we might expect that each world has unique armaments informed by the nature of their worlds. To keep things simple, I’d rather focus on some basic core strategies likely common to all worlds, and then expand it out a bit to emphasize the unique nature of each world.

The commonalities of strategy mainly come in that distributed defense. The Alliance offers very little money to its worlds for defense, expecting them to defend themselves and, of course, quietly enforcing a dependence on the nobility who can come in to “rescue them.” This means that most militia soldiers are less professional soldiers and more reservists with a modicum of training combined with enthusiasts who like to practice on their own. It also means that their gear tends to be cheap, and usually what they already had on hand. The result might be less disciplined than a typical BAD -2 army, but it’s close enough to BAD -2 for my purposes.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Alliance Militia

The Alliance believes strongly in independent sovereignty, and a key component of that sovereignty is independent military power, a feature of the Federation violated only once, a violation that caused the rise of the Empire. Each member world has the right to its own defensive force, called a Militia. In fact, the Senate sees a militia not as a right but as a duty, and typically sanctions worlds that leave their defense to the rest of the Alliance. One reason the Alliance has survived as long as it has is because a blaster lurks behind every blade of grass.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alliance Constabulary: Personnel

Just as criminal players dealing with the Empire will need mooks to fight, so too will criminal players facing down the criminal justice of the Alliance.  But, again, we find that the Alliance has wildly varying law enforcement.  This results in a highly customizable set of mooks that require a little bit of work from you, dear reader, to put them into action.  Once again, we have three different broad sorts of law enforcement, and we also have three different sets of equipment (the most common being Rook & Law and Stellar Dynamics).  You'll have to put the pieces together, just like you have to with insurgents, but I do have a "standard example" available for each entry.

Let me know what you think of the approach, and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Alliance Constabulary: Materiel

Our space cops need guns.  While the Empire has a single supplier, the Alliance has many varied suppliers and needs, which means that what sorts of arms and armor our constables might have vary depending on their intent and on where they get their weapons from.

A huge variety of guns resulted from my working on this post, not all of which are listed below, but I want to thank GURB once again for providing much needed variety for my weapons.

This design process went through quite a few steps, so you'll see me revisit again tomorrow when I look at Personnel, but that's because Materiel articles are design journals, while personnel documents actually make it into the final work.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Alliance Constabulary

The Alliance expects each planet to govern itself, which means it expects each planet to have its own laws and to enforce them.  That seems simple enough, until one crashes headlong into the fact that alliance members regularly intermingle and each has their own law.  What happens when a nobleman and members of an independent corporation run afoul of the law on their planet?  How do the locals handle that arrest?  How do they handle people who have fled justice on their world and have tried to find sanctuary on some other world?

Where the Empire allows its law enforcement to be judge, jury and executioner, the Alliance most definitely does not. It demands rule of law, not just out of sheer righteousness, but also out of the necessity of so many different legal systems rubbing elbows with one another.  If you're going to accuse a nobleman of breaking the law, you must present evidence to the House that governs him if you want to see justice done!

The result of this is a wild variety of law enforcement systems and approaches to the law meant to deal with the veritable chaos of the Alliance legal system.  I offer a few ideas below.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Patreon Preview: Alliance Planetary Personnel

Planetary Governments, naturally, need planetary militias and planetary law enforcement.  After all, the senate expects each world to be sovereign, independent and able to engage in its own defense and to handle its own criminal.  However, that independence means that each planet will have its own approach to these things.  The result turned into one of those highly varied documents full of opponents that I'm never quite sure what to do with, so I held off on releasing it and, with the release of planetary government, I offer it now to my Patreons as a preview.

Ultimately, the document revisits the ideas presented in Iteration 4 on law enforcement and alliance military personnel, with a greater focus on variety and specific strategic or law enforcement doctrines.

This is available to all $3+ patrons.  If you're a patron, check it out!  If you're not, I'd love to have you.  For the rest of you, they'll be up soon enough!

Support me on Patreon!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Planetary Governments of the Alliance

As I wrote the Alliance, it became clear that the divide between planets and the aristocracy was a crucial element of the political landscape of the Alliance.  On a particular world, one faced the military and law enforcement of a planetary body, but that might technically fall under the purview of an interstellar aristocracy, and certainly off-world, one faced the naval power of the aristocracy.  So for the next couple of weeks, I want to stop and take a look at the sorts of worlds that exist within the Alliance, which will be a fairly generic exploration (given that any world that serves the Alliance could just as easily fall under the sway of the Empire, or be independent).  Today, we'll kick off this little series with Planetary Governments themselves.

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