Sunday, January 31, 2016

I Will Finish What You Started

Star Wars Traveller ain't over yet...

My original plan was to spend the month of January dedicating my blog entirely to this project, and in that regard I feel that I accomplished my goals. I'm pretty happy about how the posts turned out. I've received a nice bunch of comments, and more hits then the previous two months combined!

I had also really hoped I'd be able to cover all the subjects I wanted to, and put this baby to bed by month's end. That I was not able to do. Real life, some personal stuff, and spending too much time thinking about the game, and not enough posting about it means I still have a good bit of work left to do.

I have a lot more entries planned, and a lot more material to cover, but a new month dawns and there are other subjects I want to talk about in addition to my Star Wars Traveller project.

Expect this month to be an odd mix, as that is what February always is for me. A wave of nostalgia, a bit of frustration, and the random resurgence of a few areas of interest I hadn't addressed in a while are going to make for (hopefully) some really interesting entries in the coming month.

Star Wars Traveller will continue, popping up out of Hyperspace when you least expect it.

Now I've started a lot of projects over the years, and either let them drop, or simply forgot about them. This is different. Like The Muppets RPG, this one is something special. It speaks to me. I not only want to finish this, I don't want to every be truly finished with it. It's a work in progress that I want to see progress further and further, getting better and better.

As a token of my promise to keep at this, here's a little present from me to you for stopping by, and supporting my fanboy folly...

Star Wars Traveller Character Sheets!
Page/Side 1

Page/Side 2

Until next time, Goodnight from Jakku...

Barking Alien

I Can Show You The Ways of The Force

Before I get started today, a little maintenance work is needed on the Falcon...

This should be my last post specifically dedicated to The Force for a while.

The Force is integral to the Star Wars setting, being one of the things (if not the thing) that makes Star Wars unique. and special.

To properly portray The Force and its wielders in Star Wars Traveller, I first needed to explain the ins, and outs of The Force itself, as viewed by yours truly, the guy writing up this project.

Then I needed to clarify a number of house-rule adjustments and alterations my groups and I have made over the years to classic Traveller, and MegaTraveller.

Once that was done, I had to address the actual Force related mechanics for Star Wars Traveller.

While there is still much to say on the subject, my long focus on The Force means I haven't had the chance to cover other topics I really want to discuss. Aliens, Creatures, Droids, and Starships are just some of the things I want to address.

Advice, and notes on how to run Star Wars Traveller, scenario and NPC ideas, and a host of other elements are likewise subjects I really want to talk about as well.

I hope this last entry answers any lingering questions about The Force in Star Wars Traveller, and if it doesn't, please free to leave me a comment on something, anything, that could use clarification, or that needs to be expanded upon.


Oh, adjust your comlinks, and home in on my signal at the end of this post for addition notes on what's coming in the future for Star Wars Traveller, and when.

Looks like Chewie got the Hyperdrive back online. Let's punch it!


Continuing on with how The Force is governed by the rules of Star Wars Traveller, let me tag a few [essentially] random notes that I hope will help fill in the gaps of what has already been discussed.

Close your eyes...feel it...the Light...its always been there 

How do you determine if someone is Force Sensitive?

Originally, I had a system for determining this based on a similar formula for determining if you're PC is Psionic in MegaTraveller. I decided it didn't feel right. It was too complicated, too mechanical.

I then thought, 'If someone wants to be Force Sensitive, let'em be Force Sensitive'. That doesn't really work either. It will result in a party of six Force Sensitive PCs at a table with six players.

This isn't the Prequels. The Force is a rare, special, and mysterious thing. It is largely thought to be myth, and poorly understood except by a select few in the entire galaxy.

So how do you decide who gets to be the Chosen One(s)?

I think it's really a matter of playing it by ear, and listening to your players. If someone comes up to me with an idea for a Force Sensitive character, with an interesting how, or why the Force is Strong with their PC, I am hard pressed not to want to let them explore the idea (and for me to explore it as well).

I think that's it in a nutshell. No Force for Force's sake. Give me a sign of the potential heroes journey you see, and I am happy to let you take it, and come along for the ride.

For now, that is going to be the only rule I need.

I feel it again...the pull of The Light

As noted in the comments of my previous entry, there is a way to turn back to The Light Side of The Force once your character has all but succumbed to The Dark Side. Special Thanks to seaofstarsrpg for asking about this.

If you spend a Dark Side point to do something good, we're talking truly altruistic, the Gamemaster may return the point to you at the end of the session/beginning of the next, as a Light Side point.

Or...Hmmm. It should be harder than that.

The Light Side is a more difficult path. "Quicker, easier is the Dark Side" did Yoda say. I'm thinking that perhaps instead of getting a Light Side point back for the Dark Side point you spent with good intentions, you lose the point entirely. It doesn't automatically come back as Light Side, or Dark Side.

Rather, through continued play, dialog and actions during the session, the GM must decide if you get one back at all. If the answer is yes (and the other players can weigh in with opinions, and evidence as they do when awarding ATs), then the PC is at last rewarded with a Light Side point.

The key element is make it situational, truly a case by case basis. Make it role-play driven, not solely a mechanical rule. This is more fitting to the description of the nature of The Force, and it goes a ways toward helping define it as not perfectly defined.

Depending on how the player has played his/her PC up to that moment, perhaps the difficulty should be raised when one attempts to use a Dark Side point for a positive, good intentioned action. You can't be a murderous a**hat for a stretch of time, suddenly say, "And now I feel like doing good" and just assume the universe is going to be OK with that.

Darth Vader chucking the Emperor down a reactor shaft excluded of course.

I know I slaughtered all those little Jedi kids,
but I just stopped the Emperor from killing you... we're all square ,right?

One more thing, remember that this applies only to a character who still has at least one point of Light Side Force Strength left. If you are all Dark Side, there is no turning back.

The Force is strong in her

How strong is Force Strength? What is a point of it really worth?

Well basically, I have a few rules of thumb, but in many cases it will be a negotiation between the player, and the GM if the player wants their PC to pull off something truly spectacular. Bare in mind these rules are based primarily on the Original Trilogy, and The Force Awakens. No real attempt is made here to emulate the Superhero Jedi of the Prequels.

We begin with the one point you have to spend to use The Force. What can you do with that?

Basically, it represents the very least we've seen a Force user do in the original movies, and the most recent sequel.

One point of Awareness tells you that is danger nearby, or lets you find a familiar individual who is not far away.

One point of Enhancement increases a single Stat by one for one round. It can be used to Heal yourself, or any individual you can make physical contact with, for 1 Stat Damage.

One point of Influence can lift a PC's Lightsaber off the ground, and into her hand from anywhere in a roughly 10-15 foot radius. It would only take the basic Force Strength point and a Skill Roll with a Difficulty of Routine (7 or better) to retrieve it at the aforementioned distance.

Adding Force Strength points can (by way of example):

Enable the Force wielder to perceive the location of someone further from immediate area, to street (two points), 'block' (three points), village (four), town (five), small city (six), etc.
Heal a number of Stat Damage points on a one-for-one basis. A full Hit of Damage requires the expenditure of six Force Strength points (five damage equals one Hit, plus one for the basic use of Enhancement for healing).
Lift an object in size relationship to one point being necessary for a Lightsaber. This means (roughly), two points for a toolbox, three for a box, or crate, four for a large box, or small droid (like maybe BB-8), five points for a R2 unit or tripod mounted weapon, six points for a light-weight speeder bike, etc.
Increase the number of targets from one (which maybe one's self) to one additional per point applied. To Force Push a dozen Stormtroopers would take 13 points of Force Strength.
This is just off the top of my head, but based on some thinking I've been doing on the subject. I may come up with a more detailed system at a later date. I will have to test this during game play and see how well it works.

That Lightsaber belongs to me!
Come and get it!

Lightsabers. Is there any Space Adventure hand-to-hand weapon so cool? An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.

In Star Wars Traveller, you must have Lightsaber as a Skill in order to wield one, however you can use the Default Skill of Sword at minus one. If the wielder of the Lightsaber is not Force Sensitive, he or she has a penalty Modifier of -2 to any action with it.

Lightsabers are hand-to-hand weapons that have a Penetration Rating of 12 (yes twelve!), and a Damage Rating of 6.

Note that Enhancement can be used to increase the character's accuracy, Penetration and/or Damage with a successful Enhancement Skill Roll, and application of Force Strength.

One roll is needed to add Force Strength to the Lightsaber wielder's 'To Hit' roll. Each point after the first one spent is a positive Modifier to the character's Attack roll.

A second roll is needed to apply Force Strength to the Penetration, and/or Damage of the attack. Remember that each point of Force Strength increases either the Penetration, or the Damage by one. You can spend multiple points and split the effect however.

For example:

Erri Windfire swings her Lightsaber at a Stormtrooper Commander whose unit has her friends pinned down. She rolls Enhancement to apply Force Strength to her Lightsaber skill. She spends three points - one for the Force Skill roll, two to add to her Lightsaber Skill. It's deemed Difficult (as the enemy Commander is a pretty experienced and tough customer), but she makes it.

Erri's player adds a +2 to her Lightsaber skill, needing to beat a Routine Difficulty plus one for the Stormtrooper Commander's partial cover among some vehicle debris, for a total of 8. Erri's player rolls, adds the appropriate Stat+Skill combo, adds the +2, and easily hits.

She than rolls Enhancement again with five Force Strength points added - one for the roll, two for Penetration, and 2 for Damage. The player is concerned that the armor adorning the  enemy that the GM described might be harder to breach than standard Stormtrooper armor. She beats the same difficulty of 8, and applies the Force Strength points. Her Penetration of 14 (12+2), easily cuts into the armor, and causes 8 (6+2) Damage.

The same system can be used to deflect Blaster Bolts as well, with each Force Strength point after the first creating a +1 to the Difficulty of the opponent's Attack roll (or a -1 to the total of the roll made - depending on how you want to calculate it).

Hmmm. Not sure I am completely sold on the defensive mechanics. Also, I don't like there being so much 'Rolling in order to roll/use your ability'. This is going to require a little tweaking.

Show me the power of the Darkness

It has always been implied that some Force abilities are specifically attributed to the Jedi, and their Light Side teachings, or the Sith, and their forbidden knowledge of the Dark Side. The most obvious version of this is Force Lightning, which only Sith have ever exhibited (and only two have ever been shown to possess it in Star Wars canon).

In order to use Force Lightning, one must spend Dark Side Force Strength, no question about it. In addition, you gain a replacement Dark Side point for using it, and another for the act of anger, and aggression it would take to cause its use.

I would also say it is a power that must be learned either by instruction from a Sith Lord who already knows it, or by studying Sith lore.

Not to be left out, the Light Side may have some specific abilities of their own. It is my assumption that returning to the mortal world as a Force Ghost after death is a distinctly Light Side power.

It must also be learned, or taught, and requires a final expenditure of Force Strength, Light Side only, in excess of 25 points to achieve it. I also think it would be cool if how much Force Strength you have after you spend that last burst determines how often you can come back until you permanently become one with The Force (having no more Force Strength).


OK, I'm sure there is more I can talk about in regards to The Force, but I desperately need to take on other topics.

May The Force Be With You,

Barking Alien


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Have You Felt It? The Dark Side, And The Light.

Summarizing what we have so far:

Force Strength is the measure of how Strong an individual PC is with The Force. Int + End + Soc = Force Strength.

There are three Force Skills - Awareness, Enhancement, and Influence.

These skills are obtained by being a Force Sensitive individual, and attempting to use these abilities. If the attempts are deemed to be within the proper context of a Star Wars story (determined by both the Player and the Gamemaster, with GM having final say), the PC will be awarded ATs toward gaining the appropriate skill(s) at zero (0). After that, you can use, and practice/train the Skills as normal for any Skill.

We good? Cool.

Now things get really interesting...

A Force Sensitive character's Force Strength is written down on their Character Sheet in two ways. First, the total is listed next to Force Strength. Then, below that, there are the terms Light Side, and Dark Side. A character's total Force potential is divided up among these two categories.

At the start of the game, all Player Character's, unless otherwise noted, should consider all of their Force Strength to be Light Side points.

It would look something like this (Assuming our example character has the following Stats: Int: 8  End: 9  Soc: 6):

Force Strength: 23

Light Side: 23
Dark Side: 0

Each time the PC uses a Force Skill, one point of Force Strength is spent. At the beginning of each new session, the PC's Force Strength is always fully restored. If a single session spans a number of days, or longer, and the PC has had the chance to meditate, and/or gain sufficient rest, the GM may return the spent points of Force Strength back early as he, or she deems fitting to the span of time.

If the spent Force Strength is from the character's Light Side points, and the actions taken with them are in line with the Jedi philosophy of peace, defense, hope, faith in friendship, and the like, they will get them back at the end of the session. The GM can award additional points of Force Strength for particularly well role-played or heroic actions.

If however, the Light Side Force Strength is spent for an act of revenge, in anger, out of fear, or in some way that leads to the Dark Side, the points the PC gets back will be Dark Side points. Also, if a Dark Side Point is spent to perform a negative, evil act, the PC will get the point back, plus one additional Dark Side point at the end of the session, automatically. As above, particularly evil uses of the Force may result in being award additional Dark Side Points.

So let's say our example Force user, Erri Windfire, and Resistance Star Pilot Dalon Norbro are trying to escape from a First Order facility with proof of the Order's plans to invade the planet of Nor Randan...

The two get separated, so Erri uses her Force Awareness to locate her missing ally. She spends a point of Force Strength (She is now at 22), and it is a Light Side point. She rolls and beats the difficulty of 11 (Difficult). She does not know his exact location, but knows he is nearby in a dark room, with white lights, and...vibrations. Some kind of ominous hum. She searches, and fights through some Stormtroopers to find Norbro in makeshift brig near the facility's Reactor Core.

Erri Windfire is now at:

Force Strength: 22

Light Side: 22
Dark Side: 0

After freeing Dalon, the two run to the hangar area hoping to liberate Dalon's repainted TIE/sf Starfighter. They run into another ally, an NPC Technician who is sympathetic to the Resistance, and has been helping the PCs get through the base. The three make a break for it, but they are caught in a crossfire between two groups of Troopers.

The Technician is hit! As he crumples to the ground, Norbro returns fire with his Blaster Pistol. Windfire shields the Tech, and tries to render first aid. It isn't easy with all the blaster bolts streaking around her. She decides to use Influence to Force Push a group of Stormtroopers, hoping to knock them down, and open up an avenue of escape.

She spends one Light Side Force Strength Point...then decides to add four more since she wants to Force Push a few of them. She declares the additional Points are to increase the effect. She rolls an Influence Skill check, and succeeds, barely beating the needed 15 (Formidable). Five First Order Stormtroopers are knocked clear off their feet, and go tumbling to the ground. All are disoriented, and two even drop their weapons completely.

Erri Windfire is now at:

Force Strength: 17

Light Side:17
Dark Side: 0

Fast forward to a few moments later, as Dalon has dropped into the cockpit of his TIE/sf, now designated Sunburst Three. He helps Erri lower the Tech into the fighter craft, as Erri tries to also get in, figuring she'll sit in the gunner's seat. Unfortunately, a Heavy Weapons Stormtrooper lobs a grenade at them! The explosion injures Erri, and nearly kills the Tech.

Erri's pissed! (So says her player) The Technician had been risking his non-combat neck for the PCs, and she's grown fond of the guy. She gets angry, zeroes in on the Heavy Weapons Stormtrooper, and wants to use her Force Influence to toss him out a window. The GM reminds Erri's player that the First Order base they're in is on top of a very high mountain. He is told Erri doesn't care.

Wow. OK. Erri spends a one, plus...hmmm...two additional points of Force Strength - Light far... - and rolls her influence. The goal is Formidable, and she beats it! The player running Erri is rolling hot! Sadly though, she acted out in anger. That's going to cost her later.

Erri Windfire is now at:

Force Strength: 14

Light Side: 14
Dark Side: 0

The group escapes, though Dalon's TIE/sf takes some minor damage. The Technician is handed over to medical personnel, and droids when our heroes get back to their Resistance HQ on the planet Ordando.

At the beginning of the next session, Erri Windfire must face the consequences of her anger. All her points are returned to her, but not as they were.

Erri Windfire begins the next session at:

Force Strength: 23

Light Side: 20
Dark Side: 3

Erri Windfire used her Force abilities in anger to kill another living being! She is now saddled with the three points she used to do that returned to her as Dark Side points.

When a character has more Dark Side points than Light Side points the character is considered to have 'fallen to the Dark Side'. Unlike in the Star Wars D6 RPG by West End Games (still my favorite system, and a huge inspiration for elements of this one), a character who has fallen to the Dark Side does not become a GM controlled NPC.

Instead, the player continues to use their PC, but occasionally they will 'loose control' - On rolls of 'Snake Eyes' (a one on each of the two dice rolled for Skill checks), the GM assumes temporary control of the PC to perform an action as the PC has been overwhelmed by the negative emotions of the Dark Side of The Force.

Alternatively, the GM may 'save up' such instances, later on telling the player that his/her PC is looking oddly pale, has strange eyes sometimes, is being a real jerk, sweats a lot, has become thinner, or any number of other signs that the Dark Side has taken hold.

It is only if/when a Character has no Light Side points left, when all of their Force Strength has turned over to the Dark Side, that the character is no longer a viable PC.

What I mean by that is, simply put, I personally have no interest in having a PC in my campaign being evil enough to warrant having completely given themselves over to the Dark Side. The conflict is interesting. Pure evil bores me to tears.

You may do as you wish in your own campaign of course.

Dang, this ran long. I still have quite a bit to cover.

Come back soon.

Barking Alien

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Force, It's Calling To You. Just Let It In

Finally we return to discussion of The Force.

Here, in this post, I hope to explain the ways, and means of using Force Abilities in Star Wars Traveller such that they will be available, and usable to both my players, and anyone reading this who may want to adapt Star Wars Traveller for use at their own table.

But first, a bit of a warning...

One of my great, personal pet peeves is over-explanation, especially of things best left unexplained.

It is my opinion that nothing hurt the Star Wars franchise more than Midi-chlorians. Not a kid Darth Vader, not Jar Jar Binks, not even the terrible, chemistry-less 'romance' of Anakin, and Padme on Naboo (and that crap was BAD!).

Midi-chlorians ruined Star Wars. Once the mystical philosophy of The Force becomes bacteria you not only kill the magic of it, but you open it up to a hundred questions that further stomp on what makes it special.  Midi-chlorians represent Star Wars deconstructed, and you should never deconstruct Star Wars.

I prefer to treat The Force the way I treat Magic in the style of Fantasy I most prefer. It is an inexact, unclear, though thoroughly true and evident thing that gifted, and dedicated individuals spend their lives trying to understand. The exact nature of The Force, the greater truth behind it, is unfathomable, and unknowable.

When looking at rules governing that which is not exactly governed by rules (or at least rules we know), one must allow for a certain amount of vagueness.

I have personally made an art out of being vague as to the nature of things in my campaign settings, even when an answer may exist. The trick of it is, perhaps there is an answer, but you just don't know it yet. Perhaps there simply isn't one. You the player, as well as your PC, may never know.

The Force should never be so mechanical rules-wise that you get into Midi-chlorian territory. Its nature, capacity, and mastery should never be too obvious, or defined.

So I warn you in advance that some of this may seem incomplete, vague, and/or flexible to the point of fudge-y, or 'GM fiat' oriented. I will try to make it as concise, and functional for others as I can.

That said...

Kylo Ren versus Rey
By Brian Rood
Special Thanks to jtbeltman for identifying the image.

We now know how skills work, and as such, how one can learn Force Abilities/Skills. Essentially, if your character is Force Sensitive, you can attempt to use the Force. Without any training from a Jedi (or Sith) with Force Skills of their own, and the Skill Instruction, you may only gain an Active Training point (AT), or Passive Training point (PT) to one of the Force related Skills after an attempt if the Gamemaster feels it is appropriate. You may use, or apply Force Strength to the attempt however.

Force Strength is a measure of how much of the Force you are connected with, how much of it you can direct, and how much flows through you. Each time a PC uses a Force Skill, they spend a single point of Force Strength. They may spent more than one, with each additional point either increasing the effect, decreasing the difficulty, or countering the ability of another Force user (explained in more detail below). You can not apply it directly to the Skill roll however.

A few things occurred to me while putting this together.

When someone is especially Force Sensitive, other characters in the franchise describe them as 'Strong with The Force', or remark that 'The Force is Strong with this one'. This tells me Force users have Force Strength as a measure of their personal power.

The Force Awakens does something both unique, and cool with the use of The Force. It shows individuals with lots of raw power, but little technique (Kylo Ren), and a good bit of power and some natural talent (Rey). This drove me to have Force Strength, and Force Skills.

To determine if your character is Force Sensitive...actually...we'll get back to that. Let's assume yours is.

To determine your PC's Force Strength, add together your character's Intelligence, Endurance, and Social.

Social is used a bit differently in my house-ruled version of Traveller, so though it may seem strange to include it, it actually fits for our purposes. In my Traveller games, Social isn't just, or only, Social Standing, but a bit like Charisma. It represents your social presence, and force of personality.

OK, so now on to the Force Skills:

There are three Force Skills - Awareness, Enhancement, and Influence.

Awareness is a character's ability to sense The Force, as well as their power of perception of things in the universe through The Force. It is a representation of their Force senses. Awareness also governs knowledge, and understanding of one's own self.

With Force Awareness one can:

  • Sense danger
  • See the future, or the past
  • Detect another Force user
  • Find an enemy, or a loved one
  • Navigate to a world you've never been to
  • See pictures in another's mind
  • See what is happening to friends far away

If the PC begins his, or her action with, "I want to know", "Can I sense", "Can I see", or "Do I feel the presence of", then they are using Awareness.

"I sense a disturbance in The Force", is an act of Awareness.

Enhancement governs the ability to enhance, or improve that which already exists, and functions within The Force, beings connected to The Force, or one's self.

With Enhancement one can:

  • Leap beyond a normal distance
  • Hold your breath longer than normal
  • Heal a wounded ally
  • Heal one's self
  • Resist, and endure pain
  • Perform feats of great strength, and speed
  • Improve your ability with a Lightsaber

If the PC begins his, or her action with, "I improve my", "I increase my", "I slow my breathing in order to", or "I give my friend the strength to", then they are using Enhancement. Enhancement is the only Force Skill that can kind of improve your normal skills, though really it does this by temporarily raising a Stat, or lowering the difficulty of an action.

Luke Skywalker's one-in-a-million Proton Torpedo shot into the Exhaust Port of the first Death Star was an act of Enhancement.

Influence is the Force users skill at bending The Force to his, or her will, and using The Force to effect the universe in an unnatural way. By unnatural I mean that the laws of physics as they are understood by those that dwell in the Star Wars universe can be defied, and overcome.

This is often believed to be the most powerful of the Force Skills, and perhaps that is true to some extent, but only in the most obvious, physical, and crude manner. It is the Force Skill most likely to lead one to the Dark Side as a result. A Force user must ever be wary of using Influence, as it can make one believe they have mastery over The Force, but forget they are also a servant of it.

With Influence one can:

  • Move objects with but their own will
  • Halt bolts of Blaster Fire in mid air
  • Push away enemies, or draw them close
  • Cloud the thoughts of the weak minded
  • Throw a Lightsaber
  • Choke someone without touching them
  • Issue forth lightning from their hands

If the PC's action involves lifting something, pushing something, pulling something, or crushing something they are not in physical contact with, then they are using Influence. Likewise, if they are performing a 'Jedi Mind Trick' they are using Influence.

"These aren't the Droids you're looking for", is an action of Influence.


More to come - Next up: An example of Force use, how Force Strength applies,  The Light Side, and The Dark Side, and being Force Sensitive.

Wow. This was a long one.

I need some coffee with blue milk.

Barking Alien

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Tell That To Kanjiklub

I need more time.

Tell that to Kanjiklub.

Look, I'm going as fast as I can.

I have been working my lekku off trying to complete as much of this project as possible before game day. Unfortunately, game day was supposed to be yesterday.

Originally we had planned on holding the first session, a 'Pilot Episode' that I hope will have my Barking Alien Gaming Group eager to make this our next long term campaign, this past Saturday! A serious blizzard, the likes of which New York City hasn't seen in some time, forced me to cancel.

A blessing in disguise? Perhaps.

I am hoping to have this all complete by month's end, so a lot of the confusion my players are experiencing (more on that in a bit) will be cleared up by having them look at a finished product (so to speak).

A bit of a rant coming...

The confusion they're experiencing isn't all the rules, and it isn't all me. This is my Barking Alien Gaming Group, so I get the usual Barking Alien Gaming Group issues.

Say you're running Star Wars, and you get:

No one wanting to be a Smuggler - You know, like Han Solo, the coolest guy in the Original Trilogy, with one of the most memorable spaceships in Space Adventure history. Finally convinced one guy, who came up with his own take. Fine.

One guy who wanted to be a tech savy Ewok. 'Cause, ya'know, that's the best part of Star Wars, right? Not even an Ewok-y Ewok. No, no. Too mundane I guess.

Practically no other interest in Aliens. Of course. Why would there be Alien heroes in Star Wars? T_T

No Droids. I mean, if no one is going to be an Alien then rest assured no one is going to be a Droid.

The group so far is completely devoid of non-Humans. This is something I have never had in a Star Wars RPG game ever, and I've been running Star Wars RPGs for over 35 years.

My players in this group definitely fall into that Special Little Snowflake Syndrome. They want to create unique, and special characters unlike any you've see before! That's cool, I can get behind that. Yet I often find this translates to 'nothing like the things that are part of what makes the setting both unique, and familiar'.

It's a bit like I've mentioned before regarding Star Trek. People has asked me if I could run a campaign set in the Star Trek universe that focuses on merchants, mercenaries, and the galactic equivalent of murder-hobos. Sure. I could. But why the $@^& would I want to?

You want that go play classic Traveller, or D&D. Can you be Starfleet in Traveller, or D&D, complete with Starfleet Vessels, Phasers, Transporters, and the Prime Directive? No. So that is what I am playing Star Trek for - the Star Trek elements.

I was hoping for Smugglers, Bounty Hunters, an Alien Resistance Commando/Soldier, an Astromech Droid with the Career of Technician, a Senator with the career of Administrator or Noble (or both), a Scoundrel, maybe a Space Pirate, and/or (the one thing I did get) a straight up Star Pilot. I also got a Doctor who fits because the player said, "Remember that character you see in The Force Awakens doing that thing? Well I'm just like her."

Once the Hyperdrive engages, once boots hit the ground on some distant planet in a galaxy far, far away, your character will differentiate itself. Trust me. I've seen it a thousand times in a thousand scenarios in as many RPGs as they've published, and then some.

Believe it or not, if you create a character who fits the setting as it's presented, it can be just as fun as the one that fits the version of the setting you've conjured up in your mind.

I'm about to turn to The Dark Side.

*Adam sits, and meditates. Feels The Force. Centers himself*

Sigh. OK, that's out of my system. I'm sure it will all work out in the end, and be awesome.

Screw you Kanjiklub.

Barking Alien

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I Am No One

A couple of the players in the newly revised Barking Alien Gaming Group have been having some difficulty when it comes to character generation for the Star Wars Traveller campaign I'm developing . For one in particular, it's been a real dilemma.

It seems they are finding it hard to match the Career options with their vision of their character. Well, at least in regards to creating a Scavenger, like Rey in The Force Awakens.

Nothing like kicking your feet up,
and having a nice outdoor lunch.

Rey, and the numerous other denizens of the Starship Graveyard on Jakku come from a long, and honored history of Star Wars Scavengers, including my personal favorites, Jawas.


The problem appeared to be connected to how they were building a Scavenger. Instead of using the Scavenger Career, they would use a variety of different approaches, different careers, to try and simulate what a 'Scavenger' would be.

I couldn't figure out why they were doing this. If you want to be a Stormtrooper, pick Army, or Marine. If you want to be a Smuggler use the Smuggler Career. Why would you use Technician, Scoundrel, or Pirate to build a Scavenger?

Then it struck me...

The reason none of them used the Scavenger Career is because they couldn't find it. They couldn't find the Scavenger Career doesn't exist.

I thought it was in the original 'Alien Module' Vargr book, but in truth my friend Jim created it himself about 25 years ago, for one of the first Traveller campaigns I was ever in. He must have given me a copy at some point because I know for a fact I've run games with PC Scavengers in them.

I lost the notes over the years, but I emailed Jim and he gave me the Career information. I have modified it to fit Star Wars, although it's really very close to the original.

Honestly, I'm not sure I ever knew it wasn't an official class. When Jim gave it to me originally, I probably thought it was a copy of something in one of the Traveller products, or perhaps from a magazine article.  After 25 years, I'm not certain, but I was positive it was from somewhere.

Well it is now. It's from Jim, to me, to right here.

So sorry guys! Thanks Jim.


Barking Alien

Monday, January 18, 2016

You're Afraid That You Will Never Be As Strong As Darth Vader

The Force has been calling to me, drawing me back to blogging about my Star Wars Traveller project. Unfortunately, The Force doesn't pay my bills, nor does it stop me from getting a bit of a Winter bug.

I suppose I haven't truly mastered it yet.

Almost man. Not quite.

Keep at it.

One of the things I noticed about my previous entry on The Force for Star Wars Traveller is that while it wasn't my conscious intention going in, the post detailed how Skills work in my 'house' version of Traveller. In other words, my post about how The Force would work in my game also became a post about how the Skill mechanics work.

Nice. It's like killing two mynocks with one blaster bolt.

With that in mind, I've decided that since learning, and increasing Force related Skills must go hand-in-hand with explaining my Experience system, here is the my system for Character Improvement, and Advancement in Star Wars Traveller first. We'll come back to The Force in a follow up post.


Experience, and Character Improvement, and Advancement in Traveller (specifically classic, original Traveller), or the lack thereof, was always one of its weaker elements. MegaTraveller had a far more definitive system, but it was complex, and didn't feel exactly right. Over the years I developed my own, and it has been used successfully in my campaigns for well over twenty-five years. Your mileage may vary, but here's how it works...

Experience Points come in two forms - Active Training  Points (AT), and Passive Training Points (PT).

Your PC gains ATs when it actively does something involving a given Skill.

When your PC is in a firefight, you might get one in Handgun that session. If your PC drove a Grav-Car during the adventure, she will likely get an AT to Grav Vehicle.

You don't get a point every time you use the skill, so shooting a handgun five times during a battle doesn't automatically net you five ATs. Rather, you get one AT for that firefight. If you did something particularly memorable, the GM might award you two for that one combat sequence.

At the end of each session, the Gamemaster goes around to each player, and recalls the cool things their PC did that session, awarding them 1, 2, or (rarely) even 3 points for exceptionally creative use of a Skill. The Player, and his/her fellow player participants at the table, are encouraged to bring up moments of awesome the player's PC performed during the session.

Not only is this an effective means of Character Improvement (not too fast, not too slow), but to me it has a number of other benefits.

First, it makes sense in an organic, reasonable way. You get better at the things you practice, or do more often. If you haven't swung at sword, driven a vehicle, or tried to convince someone of something in a session or two, why would those things improve just because you got enough 'Experience Points'?

Second, it generates this great feeling of camaraderie among the players. What one person did doesn't take points away from you. Rather, each player's PC is awarded on it's own merits. Players stand up for each others PCs, if only so that they'll get that same treatment in return when their own PC comes up for AT assessment.

For example, Ray may remind the GM about that really great thing that Andy did when he used Recon, and then Forward Observer to find a safe way out of the battle the group was trapped in. Andy may then remember, "Yes! But I couldn't really have done it if you (Ray) hadn't hacked the computer system and deactivated the magnetic locks on the doors." The GM nods, and says, "Very good point Andy. OK, 1 AT on Recon, and 1 AT on Forward Observer for Andy, 1 AT on Computers for Ray."

As an aside, a sort of Reason 2.b of why this is awesome, is that having the players recall the session at the end makes it easier for them to remember what happened for the next session. It also shows the GM who was paying attention, and who wasn't.

[Actually, I've now adopted a similar Experience Point reward system in nearly every RPG I run. It's it not only great for the reasons I mentioned, but players seem to really enjoy it. It lets them relive their best moments, and the best moments of their cohorts. Win-win!]

It takes five (5) ATs to increase a Skill. You put little marks next to the Skill, and when you have 5 you increase the Skill by one, and go back to zero ATs.

So what's Passive Training (PT)?

When a character has the time, available materials, or an instructor, a character may train to improve a Skill like we all do in real life. Basically, practice makes perfect, and even if you are not being shot at, or chased down the highway, you can still go to the range and practice shooting, or drive a simulator to increase your abilities.

In one standard week's time (7 days of game time, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes - you get the idea), a character can gain five (5) PTs toward a Skill if training conditions are available. This means in two weeks they'd have 10 PTs, which is enough to raise a Skill by one Skill Level/Rating.

Five (5) ATs - Active Training Points - Raise a Skill one Level.
Ten (10) PTs - Passive Training Points - Raise a Skill one Level.

Note that these points are not cross-compatible. They are earned separately, and recorded separately. One does not convert, or transfer to the other.

To raise a Stat one must obtain 20 points, but more about that another time, as that situation is handled a little differently.

For now, here goes the Training System in practice:

Dalon Norbro, former First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter Pilot turned Resistance Hero, is currently locked in a heated dogfight between his unit, the Resistance's Sunburst Squadron, and a swarm of TIE Fighters launched from the First Order Star Destroyer 'Terminal'.

During the battle, Norbro takes out three standard TIEs, assists a fellow PC with a Special Forces TIE (like the one he himself pilots), and does a crazy, spinning, cork-screw maneuver to distract the enemy from firing on a NPC Freighter that needs to get vital supplies to a Resistance base in another star system.

All in all, with the exception of some damage to his beloved repainted TIE/sf, Dalon has had a pretty good session. At the end of the adventure for that day, the GM awards Dalon's player (Me I guess) 1 AT for Gunnery, and 1 for Pilot. I note that the distraction plan was pretty bold, and made me a target. Another player notes my assistance in taking out the Special Forces TIE that was on her tail. The GM thinks about it, and says I can either be awarded 1 point to Ship Tactics, or 1 point to Leader. I feel it was more tactical thinking than leadership this session, and gladly take the 1 to Ship Tactics.

Now, here is where things get really interesting, set up my next post, and further my discussion of how The Force is used in Star Wars Traveller.

Let's say you're Finn, and you find yourself acting as Gunner a lot lately. First when escaping from the First Order in a TIE/sf, and later operating the Quad-Laser Turret of none other than the Millennium Falcon! Now let's don't have the Skill of Gunnery.

Ah oh.

Each time you wanted to use a spacecraft's weapon systems you would roll just like you would any task, as mentioned in my post on skills. The formula remains that same, with just two minor adjustments.

You don't add a skill (since you don't have it), and the Difficulty modifier goes up by five.

 Appropriate Stat + Skill + 2D6 Die Roll +/- Condition/Situation Modifiers = ?


Appropriate Stat + 2D6 Die Roll +/- Condition/Situation Modifiers = ?  vs. Difficulty Level +5

Now, if you try this, successfully, or not, a number of times, the GM may say, "Finn, I am going to award you 2 points towards Gunnery today. You really tried today, and even got in a couple of great shots."

Finn's player looks at his Character Sheet. He doesn't have Gunnery, but now writes it down with 2 ATs next to it. If he can get 5 ATs, he gains Gunnery-0 (zero). Gunnery-0 (or any skill at zero) in Star Wars Traveller eliminates the added Difficulty Level of +5. A task becomes as hard as a task would be, not harder because you don't know what you're doing. You sort of do. You're no pro, but you get the basics.

Gain 5 more ATs, and you now have that Skill at 1.

Anyone see where this is going?

No one starts out with Jedi Mind Trick, but a Force Sensitive individual could try it. Keep trying, and you might get the appropriate Force Skill at zero (0). Keep practicing, get training, and you might be able to tell Daniel Craig to drop his weapon.

Stay on target! A lot more to come...

Barking Alien

Just a quick reminder to viewers:
This is a fan work, not an official product of any kind.
Star Wars Traveller, an attempt to model a Star Wars RPG using the rules of classic, and Mega-Traveller, is the creation of Adam Dickstein. It is not a product of, nor is it affiliated with the creators of Star Wars, nor the creators of Traveller.
This is just for fun, and free to everybody.
May The Force Be With You
Happy Birthday to the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The dream is still alive, though it fights to be heard, to be seen, to be fully realized. Be one who fights with it, not against it. Be The Resistance.