Monday, September 30, 2019

Patreon Special: the Lost Book of Houses

I had originally intended to release this with the release of the Maradonian Noble background lens, but it's the end of the month, and I wanted to give it to my Patrons early, so some of it might be "out of order" and you may have to wait a few days to understand the logic of the included background lenses.

The Lost Book of Houses introduces the details for four new houses, two of which are completely new. This work is available to all $3+ "fellow traveler" patrons.  Thank you, guys, so much for supporting this project.

  • House Harrow: The Bastard House rules the Rogue Stars with an iron fist, hated by their people, and seem to represent the worst of the Maradonian Nobility. Nonetheless, their tyranny has given them the wealth necessary to bankroll the Alliance’s efforts, and they have an intriguing bloodline that whispers enough of the possibilities of a restoration of the Alexian bloodline that more prestigious nobles are willing to hold their noses and bed members of this mongrel house.
  • House Korenno: The great houses of Maradon rest their power upon the service and loyalty of lesser houses, who provide the bulk of their knights and handmaidens.  House Korenno, “the Grooms of Sabine” or “the Speakers of the Dead,” represents one such minor house in the service of House Sabine.  They fight in the Alliance’s wars, and attend the grand balls of the nobility, but rarely get the recognition of the great powers of the Alliance.  The people, however, love them and their retrocognitive talent for dispensing justice.
  • House Tan-Shai: The Merchant House ruled the Arkhaian Spiral, and the Akashic Order attempted to prevent the Alexian Emperors from elevating them to the level of Maradonian aristocracy. They have a strange, alien air to them, and a manufactured quality to their beauty, and they seem to hide a dread secret on their forbidden world of Shaddai. When the Emperor rose, the House split in twain: the Shaddai branch betrayed the Alliance and sided with the Emperor, seating on of their own next to him as Galactic Empress; the Arkhanus branch joined the Alliance, but many regard their motives as suspect, and were it not for their control of the Hyperium Mining Guild, they might not be allowed a seat on the Alliance Senate at all.
  • House Alexus: The culmination of the Akashic Dream and the rulers of the Eternal Empire, the Alexian Dynasty, died in the during the death throes of the Mad Emperor Lucian Alexus. Or did they? The Alexian bloodline lives on in the “Duchal” bloodlines of House Sabine, House Grimshaw and the Orphean lineage. And, perhaps, some last heir still lingers out there, secreted away beyond the edges of the Galaxy, or locked away in some Imperial prison.

Background Lens Revisited: Aristocracy

Maradonian Lady,
Art by Kriz Villacis
Owned by Daniel Dover
For September, my Patrons voted to revisit the Aristocratic Background Lens.  This turned out to be fairly labor intensive (I had hoped to do one background and one template in the month; I was unable to do a template).  This makes sense, though, because aristocrats tend to be deeply tied to the setting, and they've also been one of the more popular elements of Psi-Wars.

For most people following Psi-Wars, "aristocrat" is likely synonymous with "Maradonian Noble." After all, they're the core of the Alliance, which is one of the core factions of the setting.  But what I want to do with the aristocrats is break them out in to several possible options, to offer some additional nuance. This will give you some insight into the politics of the galaxy, as well as some ideas for how you could make some new, unique lineages of nobles.  I've already posted the setting elements of two of these: the Ranathim Mithanna and the Shinjurai royal family, but the point of today's post is to give you the tools for any aristocrat: Asrathi high-born, Westerly tribal royalty, Pelian nobility, or Lithian potentates and warlords.  The Galaxy is huge, so all the worked examples should be seen as drops in the bucket compared to the possible variety found within the Galaxy at large.

You can check out the Generic Aristocrat background lens on the wiki.  Over the course of the week, I'll try to release the other, more specific lenses to the wiki as well.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Shinjurai Royalty

Shinjurai Princess
Art by Kriz Villacis,
Design by Desiree Theunissen
Copyright Daniel Dover
Last week I revealed the Mithanna, the Ranathim aristocracy, which was the second most voted for group of aristocrats that my readers wanted to see given a special treatment.  The first most voted for was the Shinjurai Royal Family.

This took me awhile to write, and I won't be giving every example of aristocracy in the Psi-Wars galaxy such an indepth treatise.  The intent behind the Maradonian nobles, the Shinjurai royal family, and the Ranathim Peerage is to give worked examples to you, dear reader, from which to draw inspiration for your own nobility, as well as giving you multiple flavors of nobility to play with in your games of high politics and dreadful social scandal.

The Shinjurai nicely contrast with the Ranathim or the Maradonian aristocracy because they're not psychic or empowered to be above everyone else through the authority of their bloodline.  Rather, like modern monarchies, their power tends to be one of symbolic legitimacy, as they blur the line between celebrity and governance.  They also represent a major element of the setting that doesn't see much discussion: the more technologically savvy branch of humanity, the Shinjurai and their Neo-Rationalism.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Redjack Kodiak-Class Light Cruiser

ST/HP: 3000

Hand/SR: +0/6

HT: 14

Move: 10/150 (+11)

LWt.: 27,000

Load: 3750

SM: +11

Occ.: 200ASV

DR: 2000*

Range: 7 jumps (Rating 3)

Cost: $4.5B

Loc.: gG10t4rL

Stall: 0

Total Chase Roll: +11

*Nanocomposite Polymer; double DR vs plasma attacks. Higher DR protects against attacks from the front. Additionally, it has a Force Screen that provides 2000 ablative, hardened DR.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Redjack Raider-Class Light Assault Carrier

ST/HP: 800

Hand/SR: +0/5

HT: 14

Move: 12/125 (+10)

LWt.: 4500

Load: 600

SM: +9

Occ.: 100ASV

DR: 1000/400*

Range: 7 jumps (Rating 2)

Cost: $700M

Loc.: g6t4rL

Stall: 0

Total Chase Roll: +10

*Nanocomposite Polymer; double DR vs plasma attacks. Higher DR protects against attacks from the front. Additionally, it has a Force Screen that provides 750 ablative, hardened DR.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Redjack Tiger Shark-Class Attack Frigate

ST/HP: 500

Hand/SR: +1/5

HT: 14

Move: 6/250 (+12)

LWt.: 600

Load: 140

SM: +8

Occ.: 15ASV

DR: 1000/400*

Range: 200,000, 7 jumps (Rating 2)

Cost: $230M

Loc.: g6t4rL

Stall: 0

Total Chase Roll: +13

*Nanocomposite Polymer; double DR vs plasma attacks. Higher DR protects against attacks from the front. Additionally, it has a Force Screen that provides 750 ablative, hardened DR.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Patreon Post: October General Topics

Every month, I offer my patrons (any Patron, $1+) a chance to vote on what single general topic post I write for the month.  If you're a patron (or would like to join us to vote), go here.  Thanks, as always, for being a Patron.

The topics for the month:

Modular Robots Revised: I had some rather contentious feedback about my opinions on how compatible the old robots design system is with 4e.  Back when I made Modular Robots, I concluded that there's not much compatibility between the two, because the 3e model bases ST, the force that the robot can exert, on the amount of energy it has available and its ability to express that via drivetrains and arm motors, and the 4e relationship between a system's mass and its ST.  Someone pointed out that, in fact, the 4e robots have variant mass amounts, suggesting that SJGames themselves didn't see this hard relationship, so I went to check to see if those masses lined up with the values that would pop out of GURPS Robots from 3e and interesting things popped out.

This might be a bit of a rabbit hole to go down, though not as much of one as Vehicles (in part because Vehicles does a lot of the heavy lifting for us), but how interested would you be in seeing a more detailed robot design system, and this more detailed system serving as the basis for my Psi-Wars robots?

Review of Template Toolkit 2: Races: When SJGames said they were closing down Pyramid to better focus on books, I took a "wait and see" attitude to the whole affair, but it feels like we're getting a lot more works than we did back then!  This is the next in the toolkit series and directly pertinent to Psi-Wars, thanks to all of its races.

Review of Monster Hunters: Power-Ups 1: When I offered the above review last month, I got a lot of comments on how people would rather I reviewed this book, so here ya go, a chance to vote for this option instead.

A Review of Fantastic Dungeon Grappling: I backed Douglas Cole's recent backstarter, not for the product itself, but because I wanted a copy of Dragon Heresy and Fantastic Dungeon Grappling.  This might also turn into a review of Technical Grappling, as they're cousins.

What is Magic, really?: This perennial topic often works me up into a rant, which ends up half-written somewhere on my blog.  There was a lot of interest in my Cabal material; we should set that aside for now (it looks like it would take more work to clean up than just a quick couple of days), but I could discuss some of my findings in my research into the occult and put it up for you. 

Look, talk about Martial Arts some more: My Martial Arts as Power-Ups series was very well-received.  I could further discuss trademark moves as a basis for styles, or create a mini-martial arts framework for a hypothetical setting.

Slave Armies: As part of my continuing exploration of historical topics from which to steal ideas, I did some homework on the historical concept of the "slave army," such as the mamluks. I could certainly write a patreon special on the topic.

Old Blog-Rant Dustoffs: Myth of the Fantasy Heartbreaker and Why Your Fantasy Game Sucks: I often get a moment of inspiration, write furiously for about an hour, find myself written into a corner or think better of it, hit save and walk away, only to forget about it.  I've been going over some of my old drafts and these jumped out at me.  They depart a bit from the sci-fi themes my blog has been going for (I promise not to go fantasy on you guys), but if you'd be interested in seeing me talk about where Fantasy settings often seem to go wrong, and why you should totally go ahead and release your fantasy setting anyway, vote here!

Wildcard: General Psi-Wars setting topics: So, you like what I write and you don't want to tell me how to do my job, but you kinda miss talking about Psi-Wars setting material.  If you'd like me to focus on that direction, vote here (Chances are, if you vote on this, you'll get a detailed cultural discussion of the Umbral Rim, the Satemo code, and a Lithian dictionary, given my current mood)

Redjack Wrangler-Class Logistical Corvette

ST/HP: 320

Hand/SR: +0/5

HT: 14

Move: 2/150 (+11)

LWt.: 250

Load: 66

SM: +7

Occ.: 4ASV

DR: 500*

Range: 200,000, 7 jumps (Rating 2)

Cost: $80M

Loc.: G3t3rL

Stall: 0

Total Chase Roll: +11

*Nanocomposite Polymer; double DR vs plasma attacks. Has a Force Screen that provides 250 ablative, hardened DR.

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Mithanna, the Ranathim Peerage

Ranathim Female
Drawn by Kriz Villacis, owned by Daniel Dover
This continues the discussion of the Lithian Aristocracy of the Umbral Rim, this time with an explicit focus on the ancient remnant aristocracy from the ancient, bygone Ranathim Tyranny, and their oath-bound nobles who linger on, thanks to their unique bond with Dark Communion.  This also presents new character options, similar to the Maradonian Nobility, but much cut down on detail and complexity, with a unique set of disadvantages that will ensure their gameplay is never particularly boring.

For additional context, see the Ranathim race here, and the worlds of the Umbral Rim here.

For all Fellow Travelers ($3+ patrons), the Rare Psionic Powers preview has been updated to include a rough draft of Animal Telepathy.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Lithian Aristocracy

Drawn by Kriz Villacis, owned by Daniel Dover
The winner for the "Template of the Month" turned out to be the Aristocratic background lens, which came as no real surprise.  I had hoped to also get a template done, but that looks to not be in the cards, as working out aristocratic elements took up a lot of time. I did a later snap poll for which aristocracies people wanted to see worked out, and the Shinjurai royalty won, but "Ranathim Aristocrats" did better than I expected.

Everything even touching the Umbral Rim needs special attention to emphasize how foreign and unique it is, while still retaining a measure of cohesiveness.  In many ways, the Umbral Rim is the "dark mirror" of the Glorian Rim, so just as the Maradonian Houses have a great deal of detail, so too do the nobles of the Umbral Rim need some additional detail and cultural context, especially when it comes to their titles, given the shared "Lithian" language between the inhabitants of that part of the galaxy.

This is the first part of a two part series.  Today, we look at the state of "aristocracy" withing the Umbral Rim today, dominated as it is by warlords, potentates, slavers and criminal cartels.  This mostly looks at titles and how they tend to get used.  Tomorrow, we'll dive into explicit Ranathim aristocrats who have lineages that date back to the Ranathim Tyranny and how they have maintained their power over the intervening centuries since their empire fell.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Redjack Nomad-Class Light Modular Corvette

ST/HP: 250

Hand/SR: +1/5*

HT: 13

Move: 8/300 (+13)*

LWt.: 95

Load: 25

SM: +7

Occ.: 5ASV

DR: 150/75

Range: 500,000, 7 jumps (Rating 2)*

Cost: $50M

Loc.: g2t3rL

Stall: 0

Total Chase Roll: +14*

*The Nomad’s engine, including its hyperdrive, are modular. The listed values are the most common values.

†The Nomad has an entirely modular hold which can contain passenger accommodations, increasing the number of people accommodated by the craft.

Nanocomposite Polymer; double DR vs plasma attacks. Has a Force Screen that provides 500 ablative, hardened DR. Additionally, the Nomad has modular armor that can further alter its armor profile.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Redjack Wildcat-Class Modular Heavy Fighter

ST/HP: 130

Hand/SR: +1/4*

HT: 13

Move: 10/400 (+13)*

LWt.: 16.5

Load: 7.25

SM: +5

Occ.: 1ASV+1rx

DR: 50/25

Range: 20,000, 2 jumps (Rating 1)

Cost: $8.75M

Loc.: g2Wi3rR

Stall: 40*

Total Chase Roll: +14 (+16 with afterburner)

*The Wildcat is equipped with an Afterburner which improves the Move to 15/500 (+14) and gains +1 handling and consumes four times as much fuel (reducing range to 5,000 miles, if used continuously). The Wildcat has an accessory module slot an armor module slot which, if loaded with a heavy slot, reduces the handling to +0/4, Move to 9/400 (+13) (14/500 (+14) with afterburners) for a total chase roll of +13 (+14 with afterburners) and increases the stall speed to 45. See additional modules for more.

†The Wildcat has 50 carbide composite DR on the front and 25 on the rest; double DR vs shaped charges or plasma attacks. The Wildcat has an accessory module slot and an armor module slot that may improve these numbers.

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Redjack Drifter-Class Light Modular Racer

ST/HP: 80

Hand/SR: +4/3*

HT: 12

Move: 25/750 (+15)*

LWt.: 6.5

Load: 2.5

SM: +4

Occ.: 1S+1rx

DR: 15

Range: 12,000

Cost: $9.75M

Loc.: g2Wi3rR

Stall: 55*

Total Chase Roll: +19 (+19 with afterburner)

*The Drifter is equipped with an Afterburner which improves the Move to 40/850 (+15) and consumes four times as much fuel (reducing range to 3,000 miles, if used continuously). Furthermore, its thrusters are modular and different engine modules might alter the handling and move of the vehicle.

†Double DR vs plasma attacks and shaped charge weapons.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Psi-Wars Lightning Round: the Rage of Mages

I woke up this morning to a blizzard of questions from what looks like a new Psi-Wars fan.  My community on Discord had already taken to answering him and he seems relatively satisfied, but I wanted to take the opportunity to address some of them here on the blog, because they're good questions, ones that I think other people might have too, so it might be useful to have them here.

Before we begin, I want to add that I'm not the boss of you.  If you see something you don't like in Psi-Wars, change it.  I'm sure Lord Buss understands that, but it's something I want to underline.  I'm just one guy putting together a setting that a lot of people seem to find interesting and useful.  What will follow is not a defense of my choices, but an explanation of my reasoning so  you can decide for yourself if you want to stick with what I did, or branch out in a new direction.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Conditional Injury Deep Dive

Check out Douglas Cole's Site Here
If you’ve followed my material for a while, you may have noticed something of a love affair I have with the works of Douglas Cole. At one point, one my patrons joked that the general topic poll was “What Douglas Cole article do I want Mailanka to talk about this month?” It’s not really personal; I’ve gotten to know him and he’s a great guy, but this is purely business: the material he puts out regularly hits exactly the right notes for me, and reshapes how I run games. I’ve used his material in Cherry Blossom Rain, G-Verse and, yes, Psi-Wars.

So, this month, my Patrons voted for A Deep Dive into Conditional Injury, the latest optional rule by Douglas Cole that made it into one the last pyramid issues to see print (Pyramid #3/120). It entered Psi-Wars canon officially as a rule in the Action Vehicular Combat system, where I use to greatly simplify vehicular damage, to make normal vehicular damage look an awful lot like GURPS Spaceship Damage, and to more closely track vehicular damage as a series of destroyed systems, rather than an ever mounting escalation of concerns. Today, I’m going to be looking deeper into the article, its implications, what I’ve learned since I started using it, and in what ways we could spice it up.

I’d also like to add that in working on this article, I had a chance to speak to Douglas Cole himself about it. I’ll note some comments he made throughout the body of the article and clarify some points. One thing that Douglas wanted clarified was that he didn’t playtest these rules. Thus, if you wanted to use these rules, I wouldn’t worry too much about sticking to exactly what he wrote because he rigorously proved that they worked. Rather, see the article as a detailed exploration of an idea.  

Also, if you're not already aware, Douglas has a kickstarter program that's coming up.  If you like his stuff, or you like what you see here and are curious to explore more of his ideas, check it out here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Redjack Grappler-Class Assault Boat

ST/HP: 135

Hand/SR: +1/4

HT: 12

Move: 6/350 (+13)*

LWt.: 19.3

Load: 6.9

SM: +5

Occ.: 1SV+6SV

DR: 100/50

Range: 17,000

Cost: $16M

Loc.: g2Wi3rR

Stall: 0

Total Chase Roll: +14 (+15 with afterburners)

*The Grappler is equipped with an Afterburner which improves Handling to +24 and Move to 10/425 (+13) and consumes four times as much fuel (reducing range to 4,250 miles, if used continuously).

†Nanopolymer Composite: Double DR vs plasma attacks and shaped charge weapons.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Redjack Razer-Class Mining Engine

ST/HP: 80

Hand/SR: +0/3

HT: 12

Move: 3/35 (+5)

LWt.: 4.4

Load: 0.1

SM: +3

Occ.: 1SV

DR: 150

Range: 400

Cost: $1,400,000

Loc.: Cg

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Redjack Roughneck-Class Mobile Defense Platform

ST/HP: 70

Hand/SR: +5/3

HT: 12

Move: 15/15 (+5)

LWt.: 2.5

Load: 0.2

SM: +3

Occ.: 1SV

DR: 500/150*

Range: 22,000

Cost: $1,000,000

Loc.: 2Lg

*The armor is nanopolymer composite; double DR vs plasma or shaped charge attacks. Higher DR protects against attacks from the front;

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Collated Rules: The Psionic Powers of Psi-Wars

This month, Psionic Powers squeaked past the Call to Adventure for the Rule Collation poll.  Thus, I've updated the wiki to include a complete compilation of all the current Psi-Wars psionic power rules.  Any future updates will happen to this centralized location.

As a bonus thank you for my Patreons, I've worked out how three "rare" psionic powers will work in Psi-Wars: Dream Control, Necrokinesis, and Probability Alteration.  This is available to all $3+ Patrons.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Redjack Wolfhound-Class Light Assault Vehicle

The Stats

ST/HP: 60

Hand/SR: +3/4

HT: 12

Move: 6/75 (+9)

LWt.: 1.5

Load: 0.2

SM: +3

Occ.: 1SV

DR: 150/60*

Range: 110,000

Cost: $950,000

Loc.: 2Cg

*The armor is carbide composite; double DR vs plasma or shaped charge attacks. Higher DR protects against attacks from the front

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Redjack Switchback-Class Utility Hyanide

The Stats

ST/HP: 45

Hand/SR: +3/3

HT: 13

Move: 6/70 (+9)

LWt.: 0.75

Load: 0.18

SM: +2

Occ.: 1

DR: 60*

Range: 650

Cost: $300,000

Loc.: C1E

*The armor is carbide composite; double DR vs plasma or shaped charge attacks.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Redjack Military Doctrine

This month, we begin the third set of Military Doctrines.  I personally find the military materiel of Star Wars pretty constrained and binary: unless you go out into the Expanded Universe, or dive into the supplemental material of (especially) the Prequel Era, pretty much all equipment breaks down into "Empire" vs "Rebels" or their era equivalents.  In reality, I would expect to see material from a variety of cultures.  Redjack represents such an attempt, in which I explore the concerns of those who align with neither the Imperial military doctrines nor the doctrines of the Alliance aristocracy.  Mind you, you're likely to find some of these fighters or vehicles in the service of the Alliance, but you'll also find them in the hands of pirates or asteroid miners.

I've also been weighing the idea of "customizable fighters."  I personally really like the idea of exploring "set" vehicles, such as "Which version of the X-wing is best?" or "Is a TIE interceptor better than a TIE defender?") but a lot of players are going to want to "mod out" their fighters.  This is a lot easier with GURPS Spaceships than it is with GURPS Vehicles (a lot more meaningless, though, because Spaceships is a little too generic, though nothing stops us from stepping in an adding our own more specific components).  In the Vehicles model that I've been using, every change could possibly alter ever aspect of a vehicle's performance, making it a hassle to do.  I'd like to revisit generalized modding and upgrading at some points, so some pilot can slap their Valiant and brag about how is has "custom thrusters" with "direct hyperium injection systems," but as an experiment, I wanted to explore "modular" vehicles.  For the most part, these amount to minor accessories, but I have a few vehicles here with alternate armor systems, alternate engines, and loads of weapon load-outs available.

I hope you enjoy this series!

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