Monday, February 18, 2019

Psi-Wars Blasters I: Introductions and the Stellar Dynamics Corporation

"Is GURPS High Tech just a list of guns? If so, it's not the book for me." - Some GURPS Poster, half remembered from years ago.
The above quote notwithstanding, players like lists of guns.  Gun-bunnies celebrate books like GURPS High Tech, and even games like World of Darkness, which doesn't even have rules that allow for meaningful distinctions between guns, produce giant lists of guns like World of Darkness Armory.  I think this is to allow players to pick a gun and make it feel unique to them, and Star Wars, to me, doesn't feel any different.  I think most Star Wars fans know the difference between Han Solo's blaster, and imperial storm troopers carbine, and Chewie's bowcaster, and if they've seen enough of the EU, might know what weapon their character would want.  Psi-Wars, like Star Wars, celebrates that "gunslinger" feel, and like most Action genres, often defines its bad guys by their arms and armor choices.

GURPS Ultra-Tech doesn't really support this, and that's fine for most games.  Gunslingers have a "heavy blaster pistol," Troopers have a "Blaster carbine." If you want more than that, you need to create your own blasters somehow.  I've been trying it for awhile, with mixed success, so I really wanted to sit down and work out some distinct, flavorful weapons for players to pick through.  What I have here is not a complete list; there will be additional technological subsets in the future (for example, Traders or Slaver-Empire weaponry), but it's a good start.

Today, I'm going to cover some minor changes to the tech infrastructure I'm making (this is a constant process, so more overall changes will be coming, I'm sure.  If you're ever worried about losing track, don't worry, eventually everything will get collected onto the Wiki). I'm also going to talk about some alternative approaches you could make to accomplish the same thing and why I chose the approach that I did, and then I'm going to go through every individual corporation and talk about their weapons.  The complete collection will eventually be added to the Wiki (link above).

Adding Variety to a UT Catalog

I often see people struggling with this very aspect of ultra-tech gaming, so I wanted to address some possible solutions for building your own tech catalog.  I've touched on it in broader terms with my Ultra-Tech framework series, but let's get into specifics for making more detailed and characterful catalogs.  We will use a heavy blaster pistol as an example.

Option 1: Don't Do It!
Just because something is an option doesn't mean you need it.  Psi-Wars' playthroughs didn't suffer just because people used generic weapons.  A lot of settings don't need excruciatingly detailed gear.  The main reason I'm doing it is because if I'm going to be writing a detailed setting, I might as well do this too to give you players a little more variety to play with.  But it's definitely not strictly necessary.

In this case, we'd just include the Heavy Blaster Pistol from UT.  If you want to give it a name, we can call it  the Startrodder PC-440 Heavy Blaster Pistol.  We can even have a whole list of names associated with a particular weapon, even though the stats don't change, in the same way that most HT heavy pistols can be boiled down to the GURPS Basic heavy pistol.

Option 2: Steal from other Gun Catalogs
Rather than write your own catalog, use someone else's and modify it.  Psi-Wars, for example, is heavily inspired by Star Wars, which was itself inspired by pulp adventures, so we can use guns from pulp adventures if we "sci-fi" them up a bit.  For example, Han Solo's blaster is built from a Mauser, and if you explore the origins of most Star Wars blasters, you'll find a real world gun lurking underneath.  Given that we might expect these guns to work like these existing guns, only with some modifications.

So, for example, if we know that the Mauser is our inspiration for the Startrodder PC-440 Heavy Blaster Pistol, we can just take it and "Blasterize" it.  The damage turns from piercing to burning with an armor divisor of 5. We might improve its accuracy to better reflect its blaster nature (it's Acc 2, which is typical of pistols, so it would have typical blaster pistol accuracy).  We're using super-science cells, so we could multiply the number of shots by 5, and increase the cost to be more in line with most blaster pistols. Now, note that I have some alternate rules for range, recoil, etc, to make it fee more like cinematic blasters, rather than realistic ones, so the following stats will reflect that:

Startrodder PC-440 Heavy Blaster Pistol: Dmg 3d-1 (5) burn, Acc 3, Range 200/600, Wt 2.7/C, RoF 3, Shots 50(3), ST 9, Bulk -3, Rcl 2, Cost $1500. Malf 16 or less.

Option 3: Brand Loyalty
I'm sure I've linked GURB's Brand Loyalty article before and if so, sorry-not-sorry, because it's an excellent article and deserves more attention.  The idea here is that you determine a lens for every brand, apply that lens to the existing catalog of generic weapons to get our finished product.  You can modify nearly anything you want, just be careful about doing too much, or making a gun "too good," though see Gun Cults from Gun-Fu, page 39, for guns that really are better than everything else.  Or worse!

We might have two different corporations: our Startrodder guns might be +10% heavier, -10% cheaper, and more reliable (verify).  They might also have less range (half), but more damage (+1).  We might have Syntech as lighter (-10%), less damaging (-1), much more expensive (+20%), but get bonuses on "options" like stunner settings (say, half cost to add them).  The result might be:

Startrodder PC-440 Heavy Blaster Pistol: Dmg 4d+1 (5) burn, Acc 3, Range 80/240, Wt 3.7/C, RoF 3, Shots 75(3), ST 7, Bulk -3, Rcl 2, Cost $2500. Verify

Syntech 2355 “Enforcer” Heavy Blaster Pistol: Dmg 4d-1 (5) burn, Acc 3, Range 150/300, Wt 3/C, RoF 3, Shots 75(3), ST 5, Bulk -2, Rcl 2, Cost $4800. Has stunner setting

These are both just the Heavy Pistol, but clearly look different enough that someone could choose between them!

Option 4: Roll your Own
Pyramid #3/37 Tech and Toys II has a blaster design system, and you can use that to build all of your own guns.  Personally, I recommend this as a last resot, as it takes the most work and will slow your campaign the most.  I did it because I've included several new houserules for blasters that fundamentally change a lot, so it's easier to just to insert those into the blaster design spreadsheet I have (courtesy, I think, of Humabout) and rapidly create my own weapons.  In this case, I just tried to follow some certain themes and routinely used specific applications of concepts like "Cheap" or "Expensive," reaction modifiers, custom stocks, accessory rails, etc. You can find a plethora of interesting options with which to customize your weapons on page 153 from HT and page 149 of UT.

Stellar Dynamics

Ages ago, GURB kindly made me a grab-bag of guns.  These worked better in the heady summer days of Psi-Wars, back when it was new and fresh and didn't have houserules.  Now that it does, these blasters no longer really work, alas.  Even so, I find his naming conventions and some of the themes and ideas remain compelling. I've named a few corporations in honor of the names and naming conventions he created, though I've not remained perfectly true to everything.  Stellar Dynamics is one such company.

Stellar Dynamics is an unremarkable weapons and vehicles manufacturer found in the Galactic Core.  It has remained isolated and distinct from the Empire's efforts to collectivize industrial interests mainly due to its ubiquity across the Galaxy. Stellar Dynamics produces a range of blasters mainly with an aim towards civilian and enforcement needs, though it does produce a few militarily useful models.

The theme of Stellar Dynamics is "generic."  Someone needs to create weapons that closely resemble those found in GURPS UT.  Because of my house rules and inconsistencies between the design system and the works found in the book, these are not exact matches (which is good, because that means I can print them). The net result is a gun uniquely focused on medium ranges, numerous shots, low costs and a semi-automatic rate of fire.  I have not recreated every gun in UT, because in some cases they looked too similar to another gun from another corporation or I did not see a niche for that particular weapon.  The naming conventions include a descriptive code (type of weapon, and then sort of beam), and the numeric value is meant to evoke a common real-world weapon that closely matches the design.

Stellar Dynamics BB-32 Holdout Blaster: A small, cheap weapon designed for civilian markets and intended for self-defense; it has a bad reputation as a go-to weapon for petty criminals.

Dmg 2d (5) burn, Acc 2, Range 50/150, Wt 0.55/B, RoF 3, Shots 70(3), ST 2, Bulk -1, Rcl 2, Cost $625.

Stellar Dynamics PB-9 Blaster Pistol: A wide-spread and typical blaster pistol, often used by police forces.

Dmg 3d (5) burn, Acc 3, Range 50/150, Wt 1.8/C, RoF 3, Shots 200(3), ST 4, Bulk -2, Rcl 2, Cost $1600.

Stellar Dynamics RB-16 Blaster Carbine: A common and widespread blaster carbine, it sees a great deal of use in paramilitary forces and planetary defense forces.

Dmg 5d (5) burn, Acc 6, Range 80/240, Wt 5.6/2C, RoF 3, Shots 85(3), ST 5, Bulk -4, Rcl 2, Cost $5750.

Stellar Dynamics RB-700 Blaster Rifle: A common and widespread rifle, often used by hunters and paramilitary forces.

Dmg 6d (5) burn, Acc 6+3, Range 110/330, Wt 9/2C, RoF 3, Shots 50(3), ST 7, Bulk -5, Rcl 2, Cost $10,000.

Stellar Dynamics RX-82 Heavy Blaster: A straightforward weapon meant to put the maximum blaster firepower on a single target. The RX-82 uses a sling and an inverted pistol grip to fire from an under-arm, slung position, and inflicts damage equivalent to a direct strike by a force sword at far range, allowing it to defeat most heavily armored infantry and lightly armored vehicles. Typically used by mercenaries or planetary defense forces.

Dmg 8d (5) burn, Acc 6, Range 200/600, Wt 20/Dp, RoF 3, Shots 100(3), ST 10, Bulk 75, Rcl 2, Cost $25,000.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Psi-Wars wiki

 The second February Patreon request was an organized setting primer, really just an introduction, but we already have a setting introduction.  I can expand it, but at some point, I think the core of what we need is a central, easy-to-navigate place where one can find all the information.  A year ago, SalsaTheGeek put together a wiki space for me, but I let it lie fallow for a year and it has since disappeared (but I want to give him credit for offering me the space in the first place).  Rather than ask him to re-open it, I've moved to wikidot.  You can find the link to the Psi-Wars wiki below.
It is a work-in-progress, as I'm just trying to get the material there on the wiki in the first place, and then we can re-organize it, update it, add to it, etc.  I'm trying to add at least a page a day, so expect it to grow quickly (it's mostly just C&P with some light editing work).  I'm focusing on setting because you already have rules documents from iteration 5, but as I continue to update mechanics, I'll collate them here in the wiki too.

The featured post is back to the index, and includes a link to the Wiki, so you won't easily lose it.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Patreon Specials Index

I've been releasing Patreon specials for awhile and I leave them up, because I think it increases the bang-for-your-buck of all people who join, but quite a few Patrons have noted that they find it difficult to dig through my whole patron feed to find stuff, and that's true: Patreon sucks for navigation.  So, my Patrons have asked me to organize them all into a single, easy-to-find place.  And, here it its!

Some of these specials are previews so not all of them will be "unique" forever, and some are outdated already, but I include them primarily for reference, or for those of you who want a preview. This list is also not exhaustive.  I may have missed a few, and certainly there are more to come.

If you're not a Patron, feel free to join us.  There's a link in the sidebar, or you can click here.  If you are a patron, enjoy!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...