Friday, December 28, 2018

Elite Armor II: Imperial Knight Armor

Over on my Patreon, I did a poll some time ago about the elements of the Emperor’s mystical conspiracy, those aspects of the Empire that are beyond the control of generals and bureaucrats, that answer directly to him and know of his command over Dark Communion. One such element is the Imperial Knight, a small cadre of elite psychics who have studied at the feet of the Emperor himself and deploy their psychic might in a dark mirror of the Maradon Space Knight or, more accurately, as a dark mirror to the Templars of Communion.

In Tinker Titan Rebel Spy, we had a player who wanted to be an imperial knight (even before Imperial Knights were a thing), and wanted to know what sort of armor they would have. I gave him some hacked together version of what I had designed for Maradon Space Knights, but it required a few different features, such as a unique material (diamondoid laminate, in this case). When I rebuilt the materials, he expressed sadness that I had removed their unique material (replacing it with Carbide Laminate, which is “common” now for the soldiers of the Empire). What this says to me is that his armor mattered to him. And why shouldn’t it? An Imperial Knight is as defined by his armor as a Maradon space knight is.

So, if I’m going to give Maradon space knights cool armor options, should I not give the same to Imperial Knights? More, this is an opportunity to show off some of the other options made available to the Cult of the Emperor, what secret technologies he uses to empower his most prized minions.

Imperial Knights are an order of magnitude rarer than Maradon Space Knights, but where most space knights play at war with their dueling while warrior over-priced fashion-original armor, the Imperial Knights are titans of psychic power with access to Dark Communion and thus make up for quantity with quality. So while this armor is unlikely to see much use throughout the Empire, those who wear it are such key NPCs, or the armor is sufficiently interesting to PCs, that its definitely worth diving into at great length.

Imperial Knight armor is elite armor. It may not be purchased with money, only as signature gear.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Elite Armor I: Maradon Space Knight Armor

While working on armor, I came to a few realizations.  First, increasingly, armor is the signature of a few factions, especially the Maradonian space knights.  One thing I've noticed my readers really enjoy is the idea of a fully armored space knight, rather than the lightly-clad space samurai of Star Wars.  I don't think they mind the latter so much as see the former as an element that stands out.  As such, I want to really bring an emphasis to that armor.

Psi-Wars feels like fantasy, but isn't.  From this, certain forms of Space Opera gain a lot of interesting tension, so I wanted the armor of the setting to merge tropes of each.  On the one hand, they should be obviously "plate armor," perhaps with relic suits worn by ancestors and maybe with magic psychic powers embedded into them.  But at the same time, if you look through the designs of armor in Star Wars: the Old Republic, or even just Star Wars itself, you find glowing buttons and tubes and wires.  What does all of that do?  I want to evoke a feel of the space marine who lovingly attends his armor, runs diagnostics over the whole thing before closing it about him with an atmospheric hiss and a click, and then ignites his force sword with a crack and prepares for battle.

All of this means that I need to give Space Knight Armor additional attention and, perhaps, ways of differentiating them.  Ideally, given its nature, each suit would be perfectly unique, as is true of all forms of Low-Tech armor from which it draws its inspiration, but asking your players to design their own suits of armor is a bridge too far, so I offer a few models and a few modification options below.

All forms of Elite Armor, including Space Knight armor, are sufficiently unique that one cannot buy them; they must be purchased as Signature Gear.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Psi-Wars Armor

This took longer than I thought.  Thank you for your patience!

This should be an all-inclusive list of all generic armor, readily market-available, in the Psi-Wars setting. If more arises, I’ll add to it. Most of the armor is presented as generic; the lack of inclusion of various corporations (especially Colt and Han & Kord) does not mean they do not produce armor, rather that the armor they produce is no different from the armor noted below.

There will be additional armor, but not included here.  This will represent "rare" and exclusive armor, typically taken as signature gear rather than purchased off the market.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Personal Tech Overview of Humanity

I previously said I was going to “start” with the Maradonian military, but that’s not entirely right. What I should start with is an overview, as per the general setting design principles I laid out in this post here (and here). The whole reason I started moving in this direction is that I can’t really do anything, such as run a decent playtest, until I have a good sense of what everything looks like, and there’s a few ways you can do that: you can start from the bottom up (“I want to use Starhawks and Typhoons!”) or you can start from the top and work your way down, which is generally how I prefer to work with this, because it’s easier to “start simple” and build your complexity from there. This means we should work on a quick summary of what all the military forces of Psi-Wars look like.

This will do a few things for us. First, it gives us a “minimum viable product.” If I design the Maradonian forces, but fail to build anything else, you’ve got 1/4th of a setting, but if I give you an overview and do nothing else, you’ve at least got insights into how you can flesh out the entire setting. Second, by building an overview, we can get a sense of what general elements the setting has in abundance, and what it might lack; that is, we can make sure that military forces don’t look too similar. It helps us ensure that each faction has a well-defined niche. Finally, it makes the final design process easier, because we’ve already laid out the blueprints.

I know I said “all” the military forces, but naturally, we’re focusing on humanity because they are the core “default” of the setting. A good space opera has nice contrasts between the familiar and the exotic, and humanity and its grounding in “Star Wars” is familiar. We know the Rebel Alliance vs the Empire, we have little trouble explaining it; to be sure, I’ve done some different things, but it should still feel familiar. Aliens, by contrast, should contrast with the base we build out of the “familiar” human setting elements, so that when you transition to those parts of the setting, they feel as exotic as they should. Thus, we will not worry about them yet, and will handle them in due course.

This will be a very high level perspective. We’ll briefly touch on how I see each faction approaching their military, what sorts of niches that I see them filling, and then hit on the archetypes I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, creating a table so we can see where we have “too much” of a particular element, and where we might need more.

A further note: I had intended this to cover spaceships, robot and vehicles too, but something happened: it got very long and, also, I noticed some of my readers already discussing ground doctrines and equipment, so I thought it might be better to strike while the iron was hot and just release this portion and move on to personal equipment and come back and deal with robots, vehicles and spaceships once that was done.  I'll have a general overview of space combat soon enough as well.

Also, I’m diving into corporations and I want to credit a couple of people for names: GURB, for introducing quite a few corporate names, and Alan Chambers, for suggesting Starlink Telecom.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Ground Based Military Doctrines

Military personal gear and ground vehicles are ultimately tied to soldiers and military forces. Every weapon manufactured and every tank built are designed to fit the military doctrine of the customer that purchases them. Thus, to understand what military gear we have, we need to understand how a force fights. For the purposes of this post, we want to get a sense of how a military force fights “on the ground,” with infantry, human(ish) scale combat robots, and ground vehicles, so we can get a sense of what sort of equipment they might manufacture to fit their needs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Thoughts on Military Doctrines

Before we can discuss the details of a military technological framework, we should try to understand the logic behind why they use the weapons and vehicles that they use.  This means understanding how a particular military force fights, how it combines its various elements into a cohesive whole.  It also means understanding something about the culture behind the army, why they fight, and what their flaws are.

I did some work on Imperial military doctrines, or typical Rebel tactics, and these proved quite popular, if the views are to be believed, so I thought I'd revisit some of the thought process behind how I came up with those, and some of the thoughts that I have when creating my own military forces, both so that I can clarify my own thoughts but also, more importantly, to offer you some inspiration if you're creating your own military force.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Building the Psi-Wars Technological Frameworks

“I understand why you’re revisiting this technological stuff, I just miss working on the setting” - Maverick (I think; and paraphrased, because it was ages ago, which illustrates how much of a problem it is)

“I think its time for a new playtest.” – The Secret Council, ominously

I am unhappy. I had wanted to round out a final playtest and a new version of the Dreadnought, but in the latter case, it felt redundant based on what I knew was coming up, and the former felt unfinishable, because I would have to use “Generic everything.” In fact, the reason I came up with the Generic Fleet was to do a playtest, but even as I found myself sitting down to write it, the words wouldn’t come, and I think I know why: it’s because I’m unhappy. I am unhappy because Maverick is right, and that sort of thing is way more fun. I am unhappy because my mind swims with alternate races and lost houses and Alexian secrets. I am unhappy because I know you want to see those things and I watch interest dwindle on my discord and my patreon.

It is very important that a writer be happy. Sure, he can be stressed, push to his limits and freaking out, but he should be enjoying what he’s doing, or the words will stop flowing. Creativity requires an element of play, as they are deeply bound to one another! If it feels like homework, then, perhaps you shouldn’t do it! Yes, eventually you need to get it done, but pain (and boredom, etc) are indicators of a problem, and perhaps we can solve that problem.

There’s a reason I’ve done Iteration 7 the way I have, and it boils down to dissatisfaction with GURPS Spaceships as a catchall for vehicles. We don’t have Vehicles 4e, and I must say, this journey has showed me a lot, and provided a great deal of useful assets I need to move forward with this, and now that we have them, let’s move forward, shall we?

I want to make December my “Framework” month, not in the bland “Let’s talk about technology in an abstract way” but concrete material that you, as a Psi-Wars player, can use, and I want it to reflect the setting, so we’ll kill two birds with one stone: we’ll build a gear catalog and develop our setting at the same time! Though let’s be honest, this will take more than a month, but let’s see where this takes us!

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