Wednesday 27 March 2024

March of 5, 10, and 15 years ago

This blog is now old enough that I can look back 15 years. I'll also dip into what was happening 10 and 5 years ago.

Self-indulgent? How dare you! I'll do my best to find something useful in there.

15 years ago, I wrote about a new method for rolling attributes, generally suited to D&D. I'd forgotten all about it until I started a Traveller game earlier this year and gave the players the option to use this method (they boldly opted to just roll down the line individually instead). 

I think it's still a tool to keep in the bag. 

10 years ago, Into the Odd was taking shape. I wrote about starter packages, a focus on mundane disposable items, and the final version of the game's damage system (now with the familiar Save vs Critical Damage when you take STR loss). It's around this time that Into the Odd really resembles the game it is today. 

The example of play in the damage post really shows the power of strength-of-numbers in Into the Odd, something I would temper in Electric and Mythic Bastionland.

5 years ago is interesting to revisit on a personal level, because there aren't any posts for March.

Looking back at my old calendar I can see this was a month when my day-job was swallowing a great deal of time and energy, leaving me with no fuel for writing or games. 

If you've ever supported me on Patreon, bought one of my games, or even just followed this blog, I want to give a heartfelt thank you for helping to change my life in such a huge way since that month of silence. 


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 20 March 2024

Fancy Shooting for Electric Bastionland

This is not errata. It’s a little module I’m messing with that might appeal to those who want more combat options for gunplay in Electric Bastionland.

Guns are back! Let's go get'em.

  • Concealment partially obscures vision of the target, Impairing the attack unless it is a Blast attack.
  • Cover also offers physical protection against projectiles, granting +1 Armour unless the attack is powerful enough to penetrate straight through it.
  • Barrier completely protects the target from fire. If they peek out to fire then they count as being in Cover or Concealment as appropriate instead until their next turn.

Suppression: Weapons that can provide continuous fire can lay down Suppression, attempting to pin the enemy in place or drive them away. This takes the place of a normal attack or action.

Note the dice that would be rolled for the attack and assign them to the Suppression Pool for the target. If this is a Blast Attack then do this for every target in the blast.

The attack causes no immediate damage, but if the target takes any action that exposes themselves, including moving or attacking, they immediately roll their Suppression Pool and take damage as normal, losing the benefit of their cover/concealment. This occurs before they can perform their action.

If the target withdraws directly away from the source of Suppression then their Suppression Pool is emptied and they do not take any damage.

If the attacker is damaged or takes any action other than continuing the suppressive fire then the Suppression Pool is emptied.

Who needs aiming?

Aimed Shots: Weapons that can fire with some accuracy can attempt to land a single devastating shot in place of normal fire. This involves two actions: Aiming and Striking. Each of these takes the place of a normal attack or action.

Aim: Focus on a visible target, or a piece of terrain that you expect them to emerge from. This cannot be performed on the same turn you moved. Note that you are aiming at the target. Aim is lost if you take Damage, Move, Attack another target, or are otherwise distracted.

Strike: Combatants that are Aiming can interrupt their target’s turn to Strike them. This occurs before the target’s action is resolved.

Roll the attack as normal, ignoring Cover and Concealment.

If this would cause a Wound (STR loss) then they lose an additional d6 points of STR.

If the attack would be evaded (causing only HP loss) then the entire attack is ignored, and no HP is lost.

Indirect Fire: For Mortars and similar the attack is performed as normal if the attacker can see the target, or has communication with a spotter who can.

If the attacker is predicting the location of the target then attack as normal, but dice showing an odd value are discarded.

This all sounds a bit much. Let's stick to the old ways.


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 13 March 2024

Mongoose Traveller Mid-Campaign Thoughts

I'm three sessions into my Mongoose Traveller campaign. That's one session of lifepath character creation and two of regular play. So far we've had a lot of fun, and the players have all brought their A-game, but how has it been to run?


I wanted to run this by-the-book as much as possible, hoping to tap into some of the great things I'd heard about Classic Traveller in play. My gut feel was that Mongoose is close enough to Classic to make this work.

Now some of the difficulty might be down to the fact that I normally run my own systems, and when I'm not doing that I gravitate toward the very light side of things. Mongoose Traveller is far from the crunchiest system ever (assuming you aren't using every optional part of the toolbox), so I haven't run into many mechanical issues, but I feel like the system hasn't done a great deal to inspire my prep and improvisation. In some places it even feels like ballast that I have to work against.

I'm using the Spinward Extents sourcebook, which uses 368 pages to cover two whole sectors of space in great detail.

At least, in great detail overall, but I find myself constantly wanting different types of detail to what is being presented.

Of course Traveller is famous for its spartan Universal World Profiles that summarise a planet in 8 numbers and letters, expecting you to translate that into something table-ready. I'm on board with that. 

Each sector has 16 subsectors, each of which has around 24 worlds described via their universal profiles, and 4-5 that get an actual writeup, anywhere from two to ten paragraphs of description. 

Here's the very first world described in the book:

This is actually one of the better entries! You get a broad physical description, and the present-day situation is somewhat interesting, but it's still sorely lacking in hooks. I've ranted about settings with millennia-spanning timelines before, but this book does a lot of "here's an interesting event... that happened 500 years ago". 

Each subsector gets its own description, but it's similar to the above, not all that much to the ground-level (or I guess deck-level) stuff that's happening in my game. Here's the subsector that Barba Amarilla sits within.

Now the opening description of the sector as a whole details some of its history and polities, but the vast majority of that has been too zoomed-out to be much use for my game. What does it tell us about the Duchy of Mapepire, which controls the world and (most of the) subsector we've already looked at?

For context, the most common year for a traveller game is 1105, so even the most recent event (the Duchess taking the throne after the botched coup) happened over 30 years ago. All the cool stuff about a pirate captain carving out his own domain happened over 400 years ago.

There's some juice in the idea that the Duchy is running, or at least enabling, pirate activity. Imagine if the book had described this as a dynamic situation, perhaps detailing a related incident that happened in the last year or so to make the place feel a little more dynamic. 

It describes their fleet organisation, and mentioned their starport presence, but I get no idea of how to actually represent this. What makes their starports feel different to those of the Corellan League? Do their fleets have unusual protocols that would make one of their ships an interesting encounter?

I did enjoy reading through all of this and learning about the sector, but so little of it translated into gameable ideas for me. If you're prepping or improvising, and you're just looking for a nugget of inspiration, it can be very difficult to find any!

Characters are mentioned, but often some long-dead founder of a world, never an interesting character that the players might actually meet. 

Events are detailed, but usually historical, instead of some flashpoint that's ready to explode when the characters arrive. 

There are rumours, a d66 table for each of the two Sectors, but as each page covers an entire sector it's often not relevant to where the players actually are. 

There are rare exceptions to the above, but far too few. 

The Core Rulebook has some tools to help with this, including encounter tables and a method for generating characters, but it feels like a missed opportunity to not have bespoke content for the part of space I'm reading about. 

This isn't a negative review of Mongoose Traveller or of The Spinward Extents, but an insight into some of the difficulties I've had combining these resources with my particular style of GMing. 

And perhaps a warning that running something by the book can be so much more challenging than winging it. 


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Tuesday 5 March 2024

Now THIS is Peg Racing!

Want to go PEG-RACING?

Okay, get yourself some clothes pegs, ideally a few different sizes. 

Break them open and glue them together till they look like something from WipEout (or F-Zero if you're less cool).

Prime them. I also added some little sticky dots before this. 


I'm told it would apply more easily if I gave them a coat of PVA or sealant spray before painting but WE GOTTA GO FAST HERE.

Set up a track with checkpoints. 


Shoot at each other. 

Keep hitting those checkpoints till somebody wins. 

F-MAC: Formula MAC is a one-sheet grav-racing miniature game based loosely on the MAC ATTACK system.

It's barely tested, and certain builds are probably broken. Go and find out for yourself.


This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon.