#CepheusEngine RPG Character Generation Run-Thru

Took the Cepheus Engine System Reference Document: A Classic Era Science Fiction 2D6-Based Open Gaming System for a test run. One thing I love about the old Traveller RPG series, especially Classic Traveller, was the random character generation. Not only does one learn more about chargen, but it makes for interesting thinking about how or why the character is now a Traveller.

Traveller [TRAV-uh-ler, TRAV-ler]. -noun. [Origin circa 1300 CE, from the Middle English travaillour, the treader of a path, emphasizing labor or toil, as in “to make a difficult journey”]. 1. One who travels, or has traveled, or will travel, as to distant places. 2. An adventurer. 3. The game of science-fiction in the far future. Traveller5 v5.09 Title Page

Please meet Franclyn Phaerwick.

Step 1: Characteristics. Rolling characteristics per the rules yields:

STR A (DM +1) / DEX 7 / END 3 (DM -1) / INT 8 / EDU 7 / SOC A (DM+1)

Step 2: No homeword is used (optional). However, with the EDU DM of 0 Franklin gains three Level 0 skills from the primary education list. Franclyn, seemingly a noble, takes Gun Combat-0, Carousing-0, and Advocate-0.

Step 3: Career. Franclyn is socially elevated so can’t see himself in a blue-collar type of job. He choses Bureaucrat. Roll to qualify is SOC 6+. Rolling an 8, Franclyn easily enters the bureaucracy.

Step 4: Basic Training. Service skills (all Level-0) are Admin, Computer, Carousing (already taken), Bribery, Leadership, and Vehicle.

Step 5: Survives.

Step 6: Commission and Advancement. Starting as Rank 0, the Ranks and Skill table awards Franclyn Admin-1, promoting his previous skill. He attempts to gain a Commission. Required roll is SOC 5+. He easily gains his Commission. The extra skill is taken from the Personal Development table where he rolls a 3, +1 INT making his INT 9 (DM+1). Franclyn also tries to advance; is successful, and rolls on the Specialist Skills and gains Leadership. [The rules do not specify that this rank is stacked with previous skill levels. Given that the rule is explicitly cited in Step 7, I elect to not stack skills here. Also, in a change from the Mongoose Traveller SRD, there are only commissioned ranks. As a former Navy officer I fully understand the importance of enlisted persons. Not a game-breaker, but an interesting design choice?]

Step 7: Skills and Training: Franclyn choses to roll on the Specialist skills table again. He again gains Leadership. This time he promotes the skill to Level-1.

Step 8: Aging. Franclyn is now 22 years old.

Step 9: Reenlist. Successful. Decides to continue as a Bureaucrat.

Term 2 Step 5: Survival is again EDU 4+. Franclyn rolls a 3 – FAIL. Using the alternate death system, we roll on the Mishap table. Getting rolling a 5 and being dishonorably discharged from the service after serving an extra 4 years of prison for a crime and losing all benefits from this career.

Term 2 Step 8: A two-year term for mishap plus four-years prison means Franclyn gets out at the age of 28.

Term 3 Step 3: After prison, Franclyn tries to reinvent himself. Looking at his high SOC, Franclyn tries to become a true noble. He succeeds.

Term 3 Step 4: Service skill gained is Gambling-1.

Term 3 Step 5: Survives, rolling a 4 which needs the DM+1 to just (barely) make it!

Term 3 Step 6: As a Rank -0 Noble, Franclyn gains Carousing-1. Trying to advance, Franclyn finds himself a newly minted Knight! [Although not specifically stated, the Rank table for Nobles equates with the Titles of Nobility by Social Standing on p. 23. Thus, Franclyn not only becomes Rank 1, but also is now SOC B] Franclyn picks up Melee Combat (Slashing Weapons) -1.

Term 3 Step 7: Skill this term is Liaison-1.

Term 3 Step 8: Age now 32.

Term 3 Step 9: Reenlistment successful.

Term 4 Step 5: Survives

Term 4 Step 6: Once again, Franclyn advances (Rank-2 Baron, SOC C) and picks up Medicine-1 for his additional skill.

Term 4 Step 7: Term skill is Gun Combat. Franclyn adds Gun Combat (Slug Pistol)-1.

Term 4 Step 8: Age now 36.

Term 4 Step 9: Franclyn misses his reenlistment and must muster out.

Step 10: Benefits.  Franclyn has no benefits from his aborted time as a bureaucrat. He gets 2 rolls for his terms as a Noble, plus an extra roll on the Cash Benefits Table for his Gambling-1 (see p. 31). Choosing to make all three rolls on the Cash Benefits table, Franclyn  is setting off with a slim 30,000Cr in his account.

Step 11: Next Career. Choose to end character generation here.

Step 12: Purchase Equipment [not executed].

Baron Franclyn Phaerwick, Noble, Age 36. 30,000Cr.

STR A (+1) / DEX 7 / END 3 (-1) / INT 9 (+1) / EDU 7 / SOC C (Baron)

Admin-1, Advocate-0, Bribery-0, Carousing-1, Computer-0, Gambling-1, Gun Combat (Slug Pistol)-1, Leadership-1, Liasion-1, Medicine-1, Melee Combat (Slashing Weapons)-1, Vehicle-0.

Franclyn was a nice guy but with little physical endurance to keep up with his friends. Of average education and intelligence, Franclyn did come from a good family. He became a somewhat timid bureaucrat, hoping to just get along. It worked for a few short years.

And then everything changed.

Sent to prison for a crime he is convinced he never committed, Franclyn was released four years later a changed man. Taking advantage of his family connections, he became a true Noble for his planet. Within a few short years, this disgraced bureaucrat had turned from prisoner to Courtier to a Knight and then Baron.

But the past has caught up with Franclyn; his family has sent him off world. Franclyn is not sure if it is because of political problems with long-time rival families who can’t seem to let anyone forget that Franclyn was a condemned man or if there is another reason. After all, there was that time just after prison that he swears someone tried to kill him….

Let the traveling begin.

“Cepheus Engine System Reference Document, Copyright (c) 2016 Samardan Press; Author Jason “Flynn” Kemp.”

“The Traveller game in all forms is owned by Far Future Enterprises. Copyright 1977-2015 Far Future Enterprises.”

#TravellerRPG Character Generation (Mongoose 2nd Edition)

After shoveling the driveway out of the 30″ of snow that #blizzard2016 dropped, I decided to take the new Mongoose Traveller 2nd Edition RPG (MgT2.0) through a few paces. Character generation is not very different from the previous edition: roll characteristics, attempt college, find a career, get skills, survive, resolve events or mishaps, see if one can advance, then repeat or muster out. MgT2.0 does add a handy flowchart for character generation (p. 10) which is nice but not strictly necessary after the first time thru.

Allow me to introduce Channing M’rrfeld.

(At start) STR 8, DEX 12 (+2), END 8, INT 10 (+1), EDU 5 (-1), SOC 6

At age 18 Channing applied for college but didn’t make it (EDU 7+, DM-1, Roll 6-1=5 FAILURE).

After failing to enter college Channing successfully enlists in the Navy and selects the Flight Branch. He gains skills from Basic Training (Pilot 0, Vacc Suit 0, Athletics 0, Gunner 0, Mechanic 0, Gun Combat 0). He survives his first term, applies for a Commission, and receives it (Rank O1). In this term Channing also gains his CO’s interest (Event 11) and gains Tactics (Naval) 1.

For Channing’s second term he continues with the Flight Branch and gains Pilot (Small Craft) 1. He survives, advances (Rank 02) but falls in with a gambling ring (Event 2 – gain Gambling 1).

In Channing’s third term he is trained as a starship pilot (Pilot-Starship 1) but is improperly revived after being placed in the Frozen Watch (Mishap 2). This reduces his STR, DEX, and END each by -1. There is no chance for advancement this term. Channing decides to leave the service.

For his Muster Out benefits, Channing gets a total of four rolls (3 terms, +1 for rank). He gains some EDU (+1), Cr55,000 (thanks to the DM+1 from the Gambling 1 skill picked up in the second term), and a “Ship’s Boat.”

The rules specify that characters injured or wounded in combat must roll to see how bad their injuries are (see Injuries, p. 47). After that there may be Medical Care available to undo the effects of the damage (see Injuries – Medical Care, p. 47). The Mishap that Channing suffered in his third term specified the injury making a roll on the Injury Table seemingly not necessary. However, it also seemed to me that the medical care option should apply. Channing gets the Navy to pay for 100% of his medical bills, restoring the lost STR, DEX, and END to their original values.

The “Ship’s Boat” benefit is a bit confusing too. There is a small craft called a Ship’s Boat (p. 192) but the actual benefit defines “Ship’s Boat” as, “…a ship’s boat or other small craft with a limit of MCr10 and TL 12” (p. 45). The Ship’s Boat on p. 192 cost MCr8.192 but is TL 13 and thus not an eligible small craft. Channing instead selects a Pinnace (MCr8.732, TL 9) found on p. 190. This also avoids having to use the Beta version of High Guard to design a suitable small craft.

Channing M’rrfeld, Age 30, Navy (3 Terms)

STR 8, DEX 12 (+2), END 8, INT 10 (+1), EDU 6, SOC 6

Skills: Athletics 0, Drive 0, Gambling 1, Gun Combat 0, Gunner 0, Mechanic 0, Melee (Blade) 1, Pilot (Small Craft) 1, Pilot (Starship) 1, Streetwise 0, Tactics (Naval) 1, Vacc Suit 0

Owner/Operator 40ton Pinnace “Move Over”

Bank Account: Cr53,000

Starting Equipment: Cloth Armor (Cr500), Mobile Comm TL 10 (Cr500), Portable Computer TL 10 (Cr500), Gauss Pistol (Cr500)

Channing M’rrfeld is a discharged Navy Pilot and Owner/Pilot of the Pinnace Move Over. He has a healthy enough bank account to pay the monthly maintenance on his Boat (Cr728/month – see p. 192) and live at or above his SOC 6 standard of living (Average Cr 1200/month – see p. 92). He will have to pay for fuel at Cr500/ton (p. 145) but he only needs 1 ton for 4 weeks of operations.

Running Costs and Maintenance (p. 144+) has a Life Support and Supplies section (p. 145) that computes life support costs based on the number of staterooms in a ship. Small craft, like Channing’s Pinnace, do not have staterooms. Additionally, Berthing Costs (p. 225) again seem to be based on a starship and not small craft. Since the rules are silent on these costs, it seems like the referee will have to decide what, if any, additional cost/fees Channing will have to account for.

In all my time as a Traveller RPG player, I cannot remember ever getting a “Ship’s Boat” as a mustering out benefit. This makes for an interesting adventuring challenge. Does Channing limit himself to adventure in one system? Or does he get hired onto a ship? How will he outfit his Pinnace? Hmm…the possibilities!

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire RPG – Jado Ragon (Human Explorer/Trader)

Courtesy swredshiftchronicles
Another Nameless Starport in the Outer Rim (Courtesy swredshiftchronicles)

Jado Ragon (Human Explorer/Trader), Captain-CoPilot of ILH-KK Citadel Light Freighter “In the Black”

Brawn-2 Agility-2 Intellect-2 Cunning-2 Willpower-2 Presence-3

Soak=3 Wounds=12 Strain=12 Defense (Ranged/Melee)=0/0 Total XP=110

Skills:

Astrogation (Career)-2, Charm (Species)-2, Cool (Career)-2, Deception (Bonus)-1, Negotiation (Bonus)-2, Perception (Career)-1, Piloting (Career)-1, Survivial (Career)-0, Ranged Light (Species)-2, Knowledge Core Worlds (Bonus)-0, Knowledge Lore (Career)-0, Knowledge Outer Rim (Career)-1, Knowledge Underworld (Bonus)-1, Knowledge Xenology (Career)-0.

Talents:

Know Somebody (1), Wheel & Deal (1), Smooth Talker (1)

Motivation: CAUSE – Overthrow the Empire

Obligations: Addiction (10), Oath (10)

Equipment: Lt Blaster Pistol, Heavy Clothing, ComLink, Utility Belt, Datapad, Extra Reloads

Jado is the Co-Pilot and Captain-Aboard the Citadel Light Freighter “In the Black.” For reasons he doesn’t speak about he is a quiet anti-Imperialist. Those that know him have heard his oath – but no one can tell you for sure what it is. Jade does like his Alderaan beer, but understandably it has been hard to procure in the Dark Times.

Going Rogue in T5

REVIEWING the Traveller 5 RPG character generation errata, the two careers that had the most changes were Citizen and Rogue. I decided to explore the Rogue career and the Scheme Payoff mechanic for my next T5 chargen experiment.

Pim Pebow (UPP 694385) was a street kid from Arden. Though technically educated to a college level (8) he actually had little common sense (Intelligence 3) and, growing up in a lower-middle class family (Social Status 5) meant he didn’t want to go to college. Instead, Pim got immediately mixed ups in small schemes.

To begin Rogue Career choose Controlling Characteristic (CC). Using Dexterity (9) 2d6=5 SUCCESS

Pim’s first scheme was audacious – he scammed a fellow Rogue!  It worked so well he walked away with a cool Cr600,000.

Scheme DM +6. 2d6=4+6 for Rogue Scheme Target. Risk/Reward against CC of 9; both succeed. Scheme Payoff Roll is 4. Payoff 100,000 x (1+9-4) or Cr600,000. Gain 6 Skills. Roll against CC  to continue; success.

For Pim’s second scheme, he goes after a Scout that regularly visits Arden. A few years later, the Scout is out 8 Ship Shares.

Scheme DM +4. Risk/Reward successfully passed. Scheme Payoff Roll 2. Payoff is Shares x (1+9-2) or 8 Ship Shares.

Continuing on, Pim runs his next scheme against an aging soldier. Getting a bit more daring, he becomes a bit bolder this time around. His bank account grows another Cr550,000.

Scheme DM+3. Risk/Reward of Brave (-2 Risk/+2 Reward). Both passed. Payoff Roll of 1 for Payoff of 50,000 x (1+9+2-1) or 50,000 x 11 or Cr550,000. Roll to Continue is DM+3 for three terms; roll of 7+3=10 versus CC is FAILURE and Muster Out. During Mustering Out, roll for Fame Flux with Fame= 3x Successful Schemes or Fame-6 plus Flux (-1) for Fame-5.

Pim Pebow (UPP 6A4486/Genetic 4611XX) is now age 30 (3 Terms) and famous (infamous?) in his town but not much further (Fame-5).

SKILLS: Actor-1, Broker-1, Comms-1, Computers-1, Electronics-1, Flyer-0/Grav-1, Flyer-0/Rotor-1, Hostile Environment-1, Stealth-1, Streetwise-3, Trader-1, Vacc Suit-2.

Bank Account: MCr 1.2. Owns 8 Ship Shares in a small surplus Scout Ship. He also has a Traveller’s Aid Society (TAS) Fellow Membership.

Pim has teamed with Conrad Fundo. Where Conrad is the Pilot/Mechanic/Gunner as needed, Pim is the moneyman – always working the angles to make credits.

 

RPG Thursday – Attack Squadron: Roswell Character Background

Courtesy Zozer Games

Latest from Zozer Games is Attack Squadron: Roswell. This setting book using the Mongoose Traveller RPG system lets you be a pilot participating in a secret war against alien invaders in 1950’s America. Like the DriveThruRPG description says, “It is The Invaders meets X-COM meets Top Gun!”

I introduce to you Lt Paul Miller, USAF. Paul is a Pilot assigned to the 6th Bombardment Wing flying B-36 bombers out of Walker AFB, New Mexico. If you know your Air Force bases, then you know that Walker AFB used to be known as Roswell!

Lt Paul Miller, B-36 Pilot, USAF (Rank 1, Prior Terms – 2)

STR 7, DEX 10 (+1), END 9 (+1), INT 7, EDU 6, SOC 5 (-1)

Athletics 0, Diplomat 1, Drive 0, Flyer (Winged) 1, Gun Combat (Pistol) 0, Gunner (Air) 0, Leadership 1, Medic 0, Navigation 0, Sensors 0, Survival 0, Tactics 0

Paul Miller joined the US Army Air Corps in early 1945 before the end of World War II. He was already well into the training pipeline for the B-29 bomber when the war ended. Rather than being released from service, Paul continued on and was part of the newly established US Air Force in 1947. During his first flying tour (Events – Post War 1945-1949), Paul was instrumental in refining the development of the AN/APQ-7 Eagle bombing and navigation radar for the B-29, and became close friends with the radar’s chief developmental engineer (Term 1 Life Event – New Contact). 

Lt Miller transferred to the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron in 1949. When the Korean War started, Paul’s unit was sent to the Far East and started flying missions along the Yalu River. These missions were some of the first pounced upon by the new Russian MiG-15 fighters and the squadron suffered losses. This lead to great angst in the unit, especially as the Commanding Officer and Executive Officer clashed over unit tactics (Term 2 Events – Korean War 1950-1953 – Leaders at loggerheads; gain Diplomat 1 to stay out of it).

By 1952 Paul no longer flew combat missions over Korea, but instead piloted “ferret” – electronic intelligence or ELINT – missions against the Soviet Union using the new RB-36. During one uncommonly exciting mission Paul saw his first UFO. The saucer approached Lt Miler’s RB-36 while near the Russian coast and buzzed the aircraft several times, nearly causing Paul and his pilot to lose control. After the flight, members of the new National Security Agency debriefed the entire crew and swore them to secrecy.

In 1953, the Air Force transferred Lt Miller to the 6th Bombardment Wing at Walker AFB near Roswell, New Mexico. Fully expecting to fly regular B-36 bombers, Paul is surprised to find out he is assigned to fly a uniquely configured B-36 with special-mission equipment. Lt Miller was also selected for this assignment because he encountered UFOs before. The leaders of the 6th Bombardment Wing recognize that Lt Miller has a knack of getting along with others (Diplomat 1) and want to use him as an important liaison between the 6th Bomb Wing and Flight 2-D of the 4602nd Air Intelligence Service Squadron at Kirtland AFB as well as the Project Sign office at the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright Field, Ohio.

The special B-36 (unofficially designated as B-36X Spooky) was selected for conversion because it is the only aircraft in the USAF inventory that can carry this heavy and bulky equipment. Seen from the outside, Spooky is a specially modified B-36 that carries two pods aft of the nose.

Courtesy flickr and San Diego Air & Space Museum

Publicly, the Air Force released a cover story which claims the pods are used to transport spare engines between bases for deploying B-36 bombers. In reality, the Air Force is worried that UFOs are often invisible to conventional radars of the day and the service is experimenting with a more powerful radar system. Lt Miller has been reunited with his old friend in radar development who is working on a beyond-state-of-art X-band radar using an electronically steered array. Though the actual antennas are relatively small (fitted into the pods), the equipment required to run the radar is bulky and takes up two of the four bomb-bays in the bomber. The new radar is also very power hungry, and draws from a large bank of batteries in the other two bomb bays. This has caused Paul’s friend to comment, “What we really need is something like an atomic pile in there.” Incidentally, Paul has heard about a new Convair test airplane, the X-6, which will have a reactor aboard. Hmm….

According to the squadron’s Operations Officer, the plan is for three B-36s to hunt for UFOs together. Spooky detects the UFOs and then passes contact information to two FICON B-36s which use their trapeze-carried fighters to intercept – and destroy – the saucer. The Air Force brass hopes this Hunter-Killer team will enhance the defense of the US against the alien invaders. There are even some who say that someday such radars will be in space….

Artist Concept of “Space Intruder Detector” Courtesy ufoseries.com

RPG Thursday – On the Fringe of Babylon 5

North Korean SLV (news.com.au)

I was listening to a random gaming podcast recently (can’t remember which one) and the topic of discussion was playing licensed games. The discussion revolved around a Star Wars campaign where one person knew waaaaay too much canon and ruined the game for the other players because they had their own view of how the story should develop. Personally I like licensed products such as Serenity or Battlestar Galactica or James Bond. I even don’t mind playing in rich settings like the Third Imperium for Traveller.

I was thumbing through one of my recent acquisitions, Mongoose Publishing’s d20 System Babylon 5 : The Earth Alliance Fact Book. In the Life in the EA chapter I found a discussion on the War of the Koreas. The part that really attracted my attention was the last paragraph:

Today, conditions in North Korea are even worse than those in China. North Korea is governed entirely by Chinese senators, who ensure the North remains in poverty. The citizens look across the fortified Southern border with longing, and the South generally feels it should help its brothers in the North as much as possible. A growing revolutionary movement in both countries is beginning to stir up interest in North Korean independence from the Chinese sphere. (The Earth Alliance Fact Book, Mongoose Publishing 3333 (2003), p. 81)

So this got me thinking…how about creating a character that is being swept up in this revolutionary movement? Digging deeper into the history of the Earth Alliance, I found dates for the War of the Koreas  in 2082. Given a current date of my campaign of 2256, that’s nearly 175 years of intervening time. How do I explain the connection to North Korea my character has after all those years?

Using Traveller: Universe of Babylon 5 , I created a character. Human, 38 years old with 5 terms of service. But it was not enough…it didn’t tell me about the motivations and desires of the character. So I created a generations mechanic to help map out the characters family. Assuming that every generation is roughly 25 years, I used a simple positive-negative die mechanic to create a random variable from 25 – ranging from 20 to 37 – which gave me the age of the father in each generation at the time a son was born. In this case, I got five generations going back to around 2082. At that point, still using the history in the Fact Book, I started dropping the ancestors into the timeline. What I got after about an hours work was a very rich, deep background.

As I was thumbing through the Traveller B5 book, I ended up in the telepaths section. I usually avoid psionics in Traveller but in the case of the Babylon 5 it has a very important role in the setting. So I rolled for psionic strength. Then I read more about Psi Corps and had to work into the backstory just why the character was psionic but not part of Psi Corps.

So I give you R.J. Kim…long removed from North Korea but just maybe a good candidate for joining that budding revolutionary movement.

R.J. Kim (Human/5 Terms)

Characteristics: 

  • Strength 8, Dexterity 10 (+1 DM), Endurance 7, Intelligence 9 (+1 DM), Education 5 (-1 DM), Social 7

 

Skills: Admin 0, Animals 0, Athletics (Endurance) 0, Computers 1, Flyer (Winged) 1, Gun Combat (Pistols) 0, Gunner 0, Language (Korean) 0, Mechanic 0, Persuade 0, Pilot (Small Craft) 0, Recon 0, Survival 1, Trade 0,  Vacc Suit 0, Zero-G 0

Background:

R.J.Kim comes from an ethnically North Korean family that has succeeded for over 150 years to hang onto its traditional roots. He can trace his family tree back five generations to when his family lived in Pyongyang under the Kim family that had ruled North Korea since the mid-20th century. World War III was harsh on the family as they lived through the worst of the American bombing campaign and were displaced to refugee camps along the Chinese border. R.J.’s great-great grandfather joined the Old Raiders at the behest of the Chinese and was a young deck officer during the Raid on Triton (also known as the Triton Massacre) in 2130. In an ironic twist of fate, the family eventually joined the Belt Alliance and moved to Proxima from Earth. R.J.s father was openly employed by the Belt Alliance but secretly a member of a Proxima paramilitary organization that supported Mars during its disputes with Earth in 2212 before going underground following the collapse of that movement.

R.J. was born in 2218 on Proxima III. His early education, like many children of Belt Alliance employees, focused on trade skills (Admin, Trade, Persuade). He also loved animals (Animal) while his grandmother ensured he learned his native tongue (Language – Korean).

As a teen, R.J. watched the Dilgar War and dreamed of being a starfighter pilot. At age 18, R.J. joined EarthForce but was not able to land an officers commission (enlist Fleet). As an Able Spacehand (Rank 0), he got into the Flight Branch once he completed Basic Training (Gun Combat – Pistols, Gunner, Mechanic, Pilot (Small Craft), Vacc Suit, Zero-G). Unfortunately for R.J., he found himself in several barracks fights when it was exposed that his great-great grandfather was a member of the Raiders that massacred civilians at Triton in 2130 (Event 42 – Accused). Labeled a discipline problem, R.J. failed to advance but was able to reenlist. Seeing that he was not going to be able to fly starfighters, R.J. worked himself into a job where he was able to learn about surface flyers (Flyer- Winged). Unfortunately, in his second term events took a turn for the worse when the ship R.J. was assigned to suffered a shipboard emergency (Mishap 7 – Shipboard Emergency) and R.J. was again blamed since the disaster was traced back to an unexplained explosion in the fuel cells of a fighter he was responsible for maintaining. R.J. was thrown out of the service with very little to show for his years of effort (Muster Out Benefits – 1000 Cr).

His dreams shattered and feeling like the universe was against him, R.J. fell into a deep depression and wandered his way back home to Proxima (second career – Lurker Wanderer). The sudden start to the Earth-Mimbari War further depressed R.J. since he felt that he belonged among the stars in the fighting. When the war came to Proxima, R.J. joined the many people that fled the cities to avoid destruction (Athletics- Endurance, Survival). During this time, he helped a very wealthy patron by acting as his guide during the exodus (Event 45 – Save Wealthy Individual – Gain Contact and 2 Enemy).

Following the Earth-Mimbari War, as life returned to normal on Proxima, R.J. used his contact to land a job as an agent for the Belt Alliance (Muster Out Lurker – 8,000 Cr, third career – Corporate Agent). He became something of a corporate scout (Computers, Recon) but on his very first assignment he was betrayed by his Wealthy Contact (Life Event – Betrayal). The contact wanted R.J. to smuggle drugs for him, but R.J. was trying to get his life back together and instead turned his Wealthy patron over to the authorities, gaining him a powerful enemy (Gain Enemy).

As a reward for his honesty, the Belt Alliance sent R.J. to advanced training classes (Life Event 21 – Advanced Training) but R.J.’s lack of formal education seemingly led once again to disaster (Roll Edu 10+ for success – roll of 5 (-1 DM)…failure). However, R.J. has discovered a deep secret; he is a telepath (Latent Untrained Telepath, Psi Rating 2, Sensing 0). Using his Belt Alliance corporate job as a cover, R.J. avoided the Psi Corps but knows he will be on the run the rest of his life.

Accepting his life as a rogue telepath, R.J. left his Corporate Agent job (Muster Out – 7,500 Cr, Multi-Part PPG Pistol) and tried to get as far away from both the Psi Corps and his Corporate Enemy as he could. The year is 2256 and R.J. Kim is a day laborer on Babylon 5. He lives a poor lifestyle (300Cr/month) and has a cramped bedsit in Downbelow (400Cr/month). His entire life is contained in his carryall and bedroll.

While helping to offload a tramp freighter one day, R.J. came into contact with a group of South Korean missionaries. Infatuated with the daughter of one member, R.J. went to a prayer meeting the group had arranged for the few ethnic Koreans on Babylon 5. After the meeting, R.J. was approached by several members of the group who revealed that they are always looking for contacts in the far reaches of space that could help with certain “activities” in support of gaining North Korean independence – by democratic processes if possible – and by the gun if necessary.

Sources used: Traveller: Universe of Babylon 5 (MGP 3811, 2002); The Earth Alliance Fact Book (Mongoose d20, MGP 3333, 2003); EarthForce Campaign Book (Mongoose d20, MGP 3354, 2005).

RPG Thursday – A Little History (Space: 1889 Red Sands)

21ST LANCERS. LANCER IN SUDAN KIT Original watercolor signed by C.Y. (after Caton Woodville), reproduced in The Illustrated London News, Sept. 3, 1898; mounted lancer in campaign dress,

A while back I was working on a RPG setting I called Savage Aeronef, which was a matchup of the Savage Worlds RPG and Wessex Games Aeronef seting. In the course of developing the setting, I created a character named ‘Ace’ Woodley who had a burning desire to get to Mars where his explorer Uncle died. His only connection; his Uncle’s Radium Gun.

More recently, I got a copy of the RPG Space 1889: Red Sands. This fits well with my Savage Aeronef setting and actually requires little change to use. So when I decided to draw up a Space: 1889 character it was logical that I would draw up Ace’s dead uncle.

In Space: 1889 you start character generation with a concept. In this case, I had a (now) dead uncle that died on Mars. Looking over the book and chargen tables, I decided that “Uncle Martin” had been an Army Cavalryman who ended up on Mars and eventually invented his own Radium Gun. In game terms he can be described as a Veteran-level character:

Attributes:
Agility – d8/Smarts – d10/Strength – d6/Spirit – d6/Vigor – d4
Skills:
Fighting – d8/Knowledge (Battle) – d6/Notice – d8/Persuasion – d6/Repairs – d6/Riding – d8/Shooting – d8/Survival – d6/Tracking – d8/Weird Science – d6
Hindrances:
Airsickness (Major)/Disowned (Minor)/Enemy (Minor)
Edges:
Army Cavalryman/Arcane Science

Space: 1889 also introduces the concept of “status” which roughly equates to social class.  Given that Uncle Martin has the “disowned” hindrance, this reduced his social status to 1, or the underling class.

Looking to flesh out his life history a bit, I went looking for some background information. As one of his languages was Russian I at first imagined that he may have been involved in the Crimean War and the “Charge of the Light Brigade”. This event took place in 1854, or 48 years before ‘Ace’ and seemed to me to be a bit of a stretch. So I kept looking for something else.

One of the books I looked at for the “Charge of the Light Brigade” was Men of War which was edited by Ernest Hemingway. This book is a collection of short stories. One story that jumped out immediately was “The Cavalry Charge at Omdurman” by Winston Churchill.

The Battle of Omdurman took place on 2 September 1898. The key event of the battle was the charge of the 21st Lancers which included a young Winston Churchill. In Churchill’s account, the battle was exciting, but other accounts point to the slaughter of helpless Dervish troops. Churchill wrote to his mother, “I shall merely say that the victory at Omdurman was disgraced by the inhuman slaughter of the wounded and that Kitchener was responsible for this.” (Cited in Farwell, Bryan; The Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Land Warfare: An Illustrated World View; W.W. Norton Company, New York; 2001; pp 613-614.)

So what could have turned Uncle Martin into the wild Martian explorer? Maybe he was repulsed by the slaughter at Omdurman and left the service in disgust. This could account for his minor enemy (Winston Churchill?) and being disowned – or in this case turning his back on society. Eventually he ended up on Mars, “invented” his Radium Gun, and then met his death. Two or three years for all that to happen is a bit tight but not unrealistic. It also explains how ‘Ace’ and his uncle were close.

In the end, creating Uncle Martin turned into a bit of historical exploration that helped flesh out a character. If one had to play Uncle Martin in the time after the Battle of Omdurman and before his death, the little bit of history creates several interesting hooks. Is Churchill his enemy? What does he do on Mars? Does he join the opposition to the British? How did he invent his Radium Gun? Looks like Space: 1889 and Savage Aeronef are a good match!