David Cook's intro to Volturnus? A new campaign start?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 24, 2018 - 6:11am
RE: Polyhedron #9
published the same year as Star Frontiers

with Raoul Debonham, an Assistant Xenopologist (whatever that is), on the PGC Artifact Research and Development Team who encounters Nothru Far Rider, an Ul-Mor and his loper mount on Laco while investigating the ancient Tetrarch city ruins.

So what if this was the true start of the Volturnus campaign?

Have Nothru describe a space journey to the PCs that is 2 void jumps with the first landing being on Laco. The Players will have to look at the Frontier star Map and make a guess at where Nothru came from. The loss of the first Volturnus Survey Expedition might be common knowledge in the exploration community so they might surmise that maybe Nothru was a native of this new system, Zebulon. Quite possibly one of the PCs is related to a member of the Volturnus Survey Expedition that went missing.

Nothru will have something in his pouch that makes the powers that be in the PGC ARDT command chain highly interested in Nothru's point of origin. Samples of Vibranium (from the pirate outpost in Planet of Mystery) or eorna artifact?

So there is a sending of a team to investigate and to return Nothru to his people because that is the humane thing to do and because Nothru can be used to establish good relations with the natives and develope intel on the pirates.
https://rpg.rem.uz/Dungeons%20%26%20Dragons/Magazines/Polyhedron/001-050/Polyhedron%20009.pdf
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!
Comments:

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 24, 2018 - 6:16am
So PCs are aware pirates are in play.

Serrena Dawn can be a PGC ship.

Jump route is not publically known. so PCs must travel to Truane's star. Streel may not be happy about PGC poking its nose into its territory.

We know that there has been a delay in sending a second expedition due to the police action on Cygnus Omicron IX so is this the angle that the Pale government allows the PGC team to have the jump route and go look for the first team?

What about the Dragon article "Volturnus Connection" with MINER and linds to the star devil?

EDIT: might have to allow for the party to be split- one or two PCs gets out in an escape pod but others on a life boat or shuttle.

Nothru and loper are along for the ride too- the loper will require a life boat or shuttle to get to the surface.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 24, 2018 - 6:20am
rather than the rail road of SF0 perhaps the PC can fight the Serrena Dawn against the pirates?

Arm it with a laser battery and rocket battery but give it only ion engines. They can fight but ultimately they cant win or escape the system. their only chance is to escape to the surface of Volturnus it would seem.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 24, 2018 - 6:23am
The presence of Nothru changes the survival situation quite a bit. he will know how to obtain water and what to eat etc.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

JCab747's picture
JCab747
August 24, 2018 - 2:10pm
jedion357 wrote:
rather than the rail road of SF0 perhaps the PC can fight the Serrena Dawn against the pirates?

Arm it with a laser battery and rocket battery but give it only ion engines. They can fight but ultimately they cant win or escape the system. their only chance is to escape to the surface of Volturnus it would seem.
 

I like getting rid of the "rail road" plot line. This is supposed to be an RPG where the characters actions can change things.

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
August 24, 2018 - 2:12pm
You could also get Shadow Shack's design for the Sierra Dawn as kind of a "flying brick." He posted that elsewhere, but it is a fairly low resolution image. A high resolution image would be good for printing out a map.
Joe Cabadas

Mother's picture
Mother
August 24, 2018 - 10:34pm
Interesting stuff.  Given that they were marketing the game to new players it's obvious why they went with the railroad plot and bundled skills (despite what Schick said about that).  It sounds like the original game setting had a lot more grey and a very different tone from the game as it was released.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
August 25, 2018 - 1:25am
JCab747 wrote:
You could also get Shadow Shack's design for the Sierra Dawn as kind of a "flying brick." He posted that elsewhere, but it is a fairly low resolution image. A high resolution image would be good for printing out a map.

Actually that was the Omicron II you're thinking of, but yeah...same concept. ;)
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 25, 2018 - 2:51am
An approach like this does away with the "en media res" beginning of Crash on Volturnus.

Lets the Players go in with eyes wide open- they know the pirates are afoot

give them a chance to truly fight the pirates. Although a serena dawn that is slower of foot and out numbered will not have a lot of options. If players abandon it or manage to land it the pirates will come for it but that gives them possibilities for the battle of Volkos and joining in when the Pale militia and Space Fleet show up.


I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

JCab747's picture
JCab747
August 25, 2018 - 8:25am
jedion357 wrote:
An approach like this does away with the "en media res" beginning of Crash on Volturnus.

Lets the Players go in with eyes wide open- they know the pirates are afoot

give them a chance to truly fight the pirates. Although a serena dawn that is slower of foot and out numbered will not have a lot of options. If players abandon it or manage to land it the pirates will come for it but that gives them possibilities for the battle of Volkos and joining in when the Pale militia and Space Fleet show up.


 

Would you propose redesigning it for higher level characters rather than an entry level adventure?
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 25, 2018 - 8:41am
JCab747 wrote:
jedion357 wrote:
An approach like this does away with the "en media res" beginning of Crash on Volturnus.

Lets the Players go in with eyes wide open- they know the pirates are afoot

give them a chance to truly fight the pirates. Although a serena dawn that is slower of foot and out numbered will not have a lot of options. If players abandon it or manage to land it the pirates will come for it but that gives them possibilities for the battle of Volkos and joining in when the Pale militia and Space Fleet show up.


 

Would you propose redesigning it for higher level characters rather than an entry level adventure?


Two things I'm sure of: New players want to fly a ship and dont want to wait till level six prerequisits nonsense.

"Skilled Frontier" and "Spacer Skills Revisited" from SFman 9&10 work just fine.

I know the traditional progression has been Low level PCs walk around doing things, mid level drive around doing things, high level fly around doing things but this isn't that much fun. If a new player comes to the table expecting to be able to fly in a ship I think we should meet that expectation rather than have them lose interest and wander off to play something else.

So some modification is called for:
AD & KH's skills + "Spacer Skills Revisited"
OR
"Skilled Frontier" + "Spacer Skills Revisited"
OR
Use the rules from Dragon mag for creating Star Law characters which lets players have a PC on the cusp of KHs skills.

These are the options I would consider.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
August 25, 2018 - 1:38pm
As much as I agree with jedion's outlook on what players want, several things must be realized. 

The Frontier is young, and ships just aren't that common. Anyone needing proof of that should look at just how undefended the Frontier is for the Second Sathar War: two spacefleet divisions stationed in the two largest population centers and a third (also stationed at one of those two) that roams/patrols. Ten more worlds have planetary militias, which are geared more for inbound traffic patrol & inspection than invasion...but something is still better than nothing. Twelve out of 23 worlds as published in AD, that leaves 11 unprotected worlds, almost HALF of the Frontier (and even more unprotected worlds if you use the Zeb's map). This is about 80 years after the First Sathar War was fought (going by Zeb's time line) in a system where the largest ship takes (HS x 30) 600 days to build, or 1½ year GST. Now compare that to the sheer size of the Sathar fleet that invades the Frontier...and that certainly isn't a representation of their total.

Civilian ships aren't much more affordable than warships. If a loose confederation can't cough up the funding for large scale fleets, independent civilians certainly aren't going to be flooding the space lanes either. This leaves the mega-corps as the big spenders, but again the vast majority (with vast meaning 99.something percent) of their craft will be civilian grade (with only a handful having secured contracts for constructing warships, and with a very limited means of providing them to anyone other than the UPF or planetary militias). While the civilian ship modifications do permit something fairly decent for combat in the upper range of the spectrum (read: anything with C-grade drives), the lower end is not suitable for anything more than self-defense against a single ship.

__________________________________________


On the other side of the coin, most SFers were influenced by Hollywood (notably Star Wars) where ships were very common and "you can practically buy your own for 10,000 credits". Fast forward to the prequels and even a 10 year old kid knows how to fly one, it's practically the equivalent to modern day bicycles: you can ride one at the age of five and by ten you're mowing lawns for a few weeks so you can buy one at WalMart. 

Traveller probably does a better job at the skills than Star Frontiers --- and I say "probably" because it's a random skill generation versus choice --- but if a SF ship is unaffordable then the cheapest Traveller ship is made of unobtainium...a 20 ton small launch costs over 5,000,000 credits. Meanwhile any pilot can fly any ship, but a higher level pilot simply does it better. Not that you'll ever gain experience in the game because your skills are generated at the beginning under a "historical" system that produces aged characters having retired or mustered out of service, never to be enhanced again during the course of play as the game is geared toward amassing wealth and power, not experience or skill...so after you've reached middle to old age you might have 40M credits to splurge on a used 100 ton Scout/Courier as an "entry level jump capable starship". Nonetheless ships are still plentiful in the game, despite being completely unaffordable from the onset.

__________________________________________


So to tailor the skill system one also needs to tailor the game setting itself, because it makes little sense to have 500 pilots per available ship (with none of them able to afford the ship as a beginning player.). As such the game designers made ships like castles in D&D --- available at "name level". While I have tailored my game so that ships are "slightly" more plentiful, it's still a name level feature. My suggestion for anyone wanting to be a beginner spacefarer is to hash out the basic adventures to get them familiar with the game and then award them 120XP to buy skills with...it's just enough to buy the PRs and pilot:1 (4XP over to be precise). They can fly a system ship but they still won't be affording anything for a while.

Then let them play SF0 Crash on Volturnus, where those ship skills won't be worth a dollop of dralasite dung and they'll all die in the desert because none of them opted for the environmental skill. 

Tongue out Tongue out Tongue out
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Mother's picture
Mother
August 25, 2018 - 8:40pm
From what I can recall about GA SF, Starships never played a major role in the stories, rather they were props and backdrops to a character driven story.  Interplanetary travel was like Europeans exploring the new world in the age of sail.  It was risky, communication spotty and often a one way trip.  

I think there was a bit of a generational disconnect between the Gen X gamers that played Star Frontiers and the Baby Boomers that designed it.  We always struggled with what seemed to be the quirkiness of SF and why we couldn't pilot ships like all of our 70s space heros.  Now thanks to the internet I understand SF much better and it all makes sense.  Not so much when you throw a new SciFi RPG at kids that were used to BSG (1978) and Star Wars.  Now that I understand it, I can better accept that my hero doesn't have his own ship.



Ravenshade's picture
Ravenshade
August 25, 2018 - 9:59pm
Shadow Shack wrote:
The Frontier is young, and ships just aren't that common.

Civilian ships aren't much more affordable than warships.
On the other side of the coin, most SFers were influenced by Hollywood (notably Star Wars) where ships were very common and "you can practically buy your own for 10,000 credits". Fast forward to the prequels and even a 10 year old kid knows how to fly one, it's practically the equivalent to modern day bicycles: you can ride one at the age of five and by ten you're mowing lawns for a few weeks so you can buy one at WalMart. 

So to tailor the skill system one also needs to tailor the game setting itself, because it makes little sense to have 500 pilots per available ship (with none of them able to afford the ship as a beginning player.). As such the game designers made ships like castles in D&D --- available at "name level". While I have tailored my game so that ships are "slightly" more plentiful, it's still a name level feature. My suggestion for anyone wanting to be a beginner spacefarer is to hash out the basic adventures to get them familiar with the game and then award them 120XP to buy skills with...it's just enough to buy the PRs and pilot:1 (4XP over to be precise). They can fly a system ship but they still won't be affording anything for a while.

Then let them play SF0 Crash on Volturnus, where those ship skills won't be worth a dollop of dralasite dung and they'll all die in the desert because none of them opted for the environmental skill.

This makes quite a bit of sense. I noticed the problem with that too, but I found another way around it. What I did instead was follow basic character creation for the five others in my group, but then sent them into three adventures for my main character's company, where they acquired three different types of starships (one HS 2 scoutship, one HS 3 assault scout, and the HS 12 Marionette) so they could get a feel for how they work. We had two of the five get decent rolls on their character creation, so we sent them to the Academy to obtain pilot and astro skills, then paid the others about two years' worth of wages and EXP. Because the adventures used a lot of different skills (namely military, robotics, and tech), we were able to level up several other players, and one of them is planning to go to the Academy as a pilot, then level up his Tech skill to be able to be an engineer.

So far, the group has loved the way our two "starbitrators" ref the game, and they're eager to go on more adventures (we've packed all three and character creation into one weekend's worth of gaming). Doing three smaller adventures really can set PCs up with a good basic understanding of the Alpha Dawn rules, while also allowing them to get a taste for KH rules as well. The three adventures I sent them on were about two hours long apiece, but they enjoyed them a lot. The first one was to infiltrate a small on-planet ship construction center and obtain the blueprints for a concept spaceship, but they found a prototype for that ship as well, so I let them keep it. The second one was when Raven was re-negotiating their contracts on his yacht "Southern Wind" and we got attacked by pirates in an assault scout, but we managed to take over the ship by stealth, and not force, so the ship only needed a small hull repair from the hole we cut in its exterior. The third one was the Marionette adventure, but the ship was pointed at my own space station, not Clarion Station.

All in all, either route is a good one, but this way they still get a taste for space combat and they don't have to buy all the prerequisites. The only thing you'd need is a decently rich PC of your own who can front the cash for repairs to some of these ships, but it's relatively easy to do all of this with. Another way of getting ships is by salvaging them (I may use something along those lines later, when I've salvaged another year's worth of ships,)  but that requires more money than the first option I presented.
I don't know where you're going, but do you have room for one more troubled soul? -Patrick Stump, Alone Together

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 26, 2018 - 6:33am
@ Shadow Shack:

Be able to fly a star ship and buy a star ship are two different things. In this particular example the PCs would be flying on a PGC owned or chartered vessel. Ownership is irrelavent.

In setting I assume that planets without militia have some squadrons of Fighters- from the perspective of the KHs campaign game they are not in that game because they cannot effectively chase the sathar around the map. However they make a lot of sense from the perspective of defense and economy- easily built on the ground, easily operated from the ground Thus I think a lot of colonies have trained pilots and gunners.

I like the real world example of World War 2 (which is clearly the inspiration for KHs) where the US government took 18 year old farm boys from the mid west, trained them in a short time and suddenly they were piloting ships and operating gunnery stations. Using Spacer Skills Revisited (SFMan 10) effectively models this. Sure it does not model the level of training a space shuttle pilot of today but it is a better model of what was happening in WW2 which is the model for the KHs game.

To my way of thinking classic KHs skill requirements= not fun
Spacer Skills Revisited= fun.

I'd rather have fun.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Mother's picture
Mother
August 26, 2018 - 10:00am
jedion357 wrote:
I like the real world example of World War 2 (which is clearly the inspiration for KHs) where the US government took 18 year old farm boys from the mid west, trained them in a short time and suddenly they were piloting ships and operating gunnery stations. Using Spacer Skills Revisited (SFMan 10) effectively models this. Sure it does not model the level of training a space shuttle pilot of today but it is a better model of what was happening in WW2 which is the model for the KHs game. 

To my way of thinking classic KHs skill requirements= not fun
Spacer Skills Revisited= fun.

I'd rather have fun.

Spacer Skills were the weakest part of KH in my opinion.  They were not very realistic and appear to be written as they were to hinder PCs and reward experienced PCs for attaining uber high skill levels.  Never mind that most players would leave in frustration before getting there.  

Piloting is a specialized skill but not particularly complicated.  In the real world more in line with learning to drive a big rig than brain surgery.  

If I ever get a SF campaign going again I will be using A Skilled Frontier and SSR.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
August 26, 2018 - 12:19pm
I'm not disputing the fun factor. While the WW2 example is a good one, that's just not the case, look at what little was done during 80 years of peace between Sathar Wars. I too have starfighter squadrons on worlds with and without militias, but going by canon that's just not the case. Also noteworthy it still takes 30 days per hull size to construct a ship, the only thing war time would do is kick civilian construction to the curb in favor of wraship construction, but you're still not getting the first assault scout for another 90 days. Flooding the campaign with operators that don't have something to operate cheapens the skill....like I said 500 pilots for every available ship, the owner can afford to be selective as to who sits at the helm and pay cut rates.

Even so, if players come into the game with an interest in piloting right away, like I said...run the basic scenarios (Port Loren Raiders and the Hydra) and then award 120XP afterwards so the players can start right off the line with a KH skill and the PRs that go along with it. 
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
August 27, 2018 - 6:40am
Shadow Shack wrote:
Flooding the campaign with operators that don't have something to operate cheapens the skill....like I said 500 pilots for every available ship, the owner can afford to be selective as to who sits at the helm and pay cut rates.


This is the reason for the Brotherhood of Spacers- called a cadre but clearly a union also.

Shadow Shack wrote:
Even so, if players come into the game with an interest in piloting right away, like I said...run the basic scenarios (Port Loren Raiders and the Hydra) and then award 120XP afterwards so the players can start right off the line with a KH skill and the PRs that go along with it.




I still think you are giving too much away by giving that much XP. I would much rather play a game with Space Skills Revisited prerequisits than the KHs ones- under any skill system AD or otherwise. But clearly this is a point we wont agree on nor do we really need too. And that said I would still sit in on a game you were running even with the 120 xp outlay just for the love of the game. With the caveat that I wont play D20 modern.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
August 27, 2018 - 2:32pm
jedion357 wrote:
I still think you are giving too much away by giving that much XP. 

Not to disagree with agreeing with disagreement --- it's not giving too much away if the players want to start off with ship skills. Now if they decide to go strictly with AD skills then yes, it's a Monty Haul giveaway, to which I wouldn't allow the award. It's just a simple solution to a group that would want to start off with ship skills right away versus a group that is willing to build up toward them. Naturally the caveat would be you can only spend those XP on the PRs and the corresponding initial ship skill itself while retaining a PSA that matches the PR skills (re: Tech for pilot, astrogator, & engineer and Military for gunnery skills). 

In other words, your Yazirian character that wants to start out as an engineer would spend 60XP to get Technician:4, Robotics:2, and Engineering:1 --- but he would have to invest the remaining 60 into either Technician or Robotics...he wouldn't be able to get Melee Weapons and boost is Battle Rage with the leftovers nor could he boost his engineering level either. Beginning ship skills is just that: beginner at level:1

In hindsight I would probably have to lower the award for astrogators and gunners because it leaves too many leftover XP that can't be spent (re: computer:6 and beam weapons:6). But the bottom line is it's not dififcult to give starting characters ship skills from the start. Simply skip the XP award and give them the basic PRs & PSA and lv:1 ship skill and nothing more after the basic scenarios, and then they have to follow the normal XP progression from there. Or just send them to "PanGalactic Starship Acadamy" for a year and give them the same. There are lots of simple solutions without altering the canon rules.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Ravenshade's picture
Ravenshade
August 31, 2018 - 11:05pm
If my characters have the proper rolls, I just admit them to the Academy immediately after character creation and the rolls. That way our group of 12-ish can have enough pilots and astrogators to get them from planet to planet.

The only problem then would be acquiring a ship.
I don't know where you're going, but do you have room for one more troubled soul? -Patrick Stump, Alone Together

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
September 1, 2018 - 3:04pm
If they graduate from Golwin then they're in SpaceFleet, with access to all the warships needed. Unfortunately they can only take those ships where they've been ordered to go I've gone this route as well and simply fast forwarded them three to five years (a year for Golwin and 2-4 in service) and have them "muster out" with the 2-4 years worth of Jr. Lt. wages (75Cr/day at 5 days work/3 off over teh 5-week months AKA 400 day years).

At 75,000Cr max that gives them some decent spending cash to start their adventuring careers. Not enough to buy a ship, but more than enough to get everything they'd possibly want or need from the AD lists. Cool
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website