Monday, February 28, 2011

Chthonian Stars and Traveller, not totally dead

Wildfire has finally made the announcement on the future of Chthonian Stars and it is not a total loss for those of us who looked forward to the game being available for the Traveller rule system.

Chthonian Stars Set For Release!

Fans have been eagerly awaiting the release of Chthonian Stars: the Cthulhu Saga I, an original Lovecraftian sci-fi/horror setting for the classic Traveller roleplaying game. This project was to be published by Mongoose Publishing, though developed by WildFire, the team that created the award-winning CthulhuTech. Over the last month, these two companies have agreed to part ways.

There's good news for Traveller fans, however, as WildFire will be releasing both the Chthonian Stars Core Setting and the Horrors of the Void monster books as PDF's on DriveThru RPG – with the option for physical copies through OneBookShelf's new print-on-demand program. The Core Setting is scheduled to be released in April 2011, as originally planned, with Horrors of the Void following in June 2011.

On the other hand, WildFire will be taking Chthonian Stars in its own new direction, starting in June 2011. Through their partnership with Sandstorm Productions, WildFire will be re-tooling the product for proprietary release. The brand new Chthonian Stars will likely see a name change, and be home to a brand new system. The entire product will have a focus on accessibility, making it easy for new players to pick up and play the game.

The new Chthonian Stars Core Book will be available as a complete roleplaying book in June 2011, through standard distribution and retail. The revised Horrors of the Void monster book will be available as the first supplement in September. The rest of the line will follow in 2012, starting in January.

Details about these books final sizes, page counts, and price points will be available as they are solicited.

The pdf releases of the core book and the first supplement are welcome concessions to us Traveller fans. Beyond that, there is no mention of Framewerk, so I will give the game a look. Hopefully, they will use a system I am already familiar with, but if it's FATE or Savage Worlds, I'll have to give it a pass.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Movement rates in BRP need repair

I've started disassembling the Basic RolePlaying rules in anticipation of my upcoming campaign with an eye toward establishing any quirky bits that will grate on my OCD tendencies if not fixed. Some can be dealt with using various optional rules (of which, BRP is amply endowed), but some require house ruling. The first is movement rates. A fit, unencumbered human is expected to be able to move 30 metres in a 12 second combat round, assuming he is performing no other actions. This is a movement rate of 2.5 m/s (5.6 mph) and is represented by a MOV characteristic of 10. A top sprinter can move four times as fast, but we're not talking about a world-class athlete under ideal conditions, so I accept that movement rate to be reasonable. However, once you start looking at the MOV rates of other things in the game, it goes off the rails a bit. For example, two things I'm interested in for my campaign are horses and tanks. A horse has MOV 12 which corresponds to a movement rate of 3.0 m/s (6.7 mph). Now I know horses aren't the most sure-footed of beasts and their size means they need a few seconds to get going, but an average horse can run about 25 mph (to say nothing of a thoroughbred). So, even if you cut their speed in half, they should still have a movement rate twice that listed. Incidentally, all the other large mammals listed in the BRP core book have the same MOV 12 (or less) save one, the bear, which has MOV 14.

Things really get wobbly when you look at vehicles. A "vintage" tank is described as a WWI-era tank and has MOV 42. This works out to 10.5 m/s (23.5 mph). Yet, the fastest tank of WWI, the British Medium Mark A Whippet, had a top speed of 8.3 mph. The blinding speed of the vintage tank is closer to a Panzer IV which has a top road speed of 26 mph, but even the Panzer IV could only manage about 10 mph off-road.

Based on this analysis, I would suggest the following changes. A human MOV 10 serves as a baseline for a speed of about 6 mph. A horse can sprint about 12 mph, so it will have MOV 20. A WWII-era tank such as a Panzer IV or a Sherman can move about 18 mph if we simplify things and average its road and off-road speeds, giving it a MOV 30.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rippin' on...Heroes Unlimited

Is there any rpg-related pastime more enjoyable to the unwashed masses than mocking all things Palladium? Zack and Steve take on Heroes Unlimited. Even the URL is funny.

Heroes Unlimited


2011...where's the cool?

A few months ago, 2011 seemed like it would be another year of exciting new releases from several companies that would easily consume my monthly budget for entertainment all year long. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm has really taken a beating lately. Sure, there have been some good products out already, namely The Chronicles of Future Earth by Chaosium and Traveller Supplement 8: Cybernetics by Mongoose, but it looks like things could be getting a bit sparse from here on.

We've had two playtests for Pathfinder Ultimate Magic and one for Pathfinder Ultimate Combat and, at this point, I have to say my enthusiasm for those upcoming releases is not high. No doubt, I will still buy them and I hold out hope that the design team will find a way to make firearms awesome in Pathfinder, but right now, I am not exactly counting the days until the release of those books. The other project I've been looking forward to seems to have gone completely off the rails, that being Chthonian Stars by Wildfire. Originally intended to be published by Mongoose using the Traveller game system, that plan has been terminated. We currently await an announcement from Wildfire about the future of the game. We do have confirmation that there are still plans to release it in a dead tree format, but speculation is that Wildfire will publish it (or maybe Sandstorm, the publishing house of CthulhuTech, Wildfire's other rpg), using their own Framewerk game engine. I can see why they would want to support their own rules, but I really don't like the system with its rather gimmicky dice-rolling mechanics. If it turns out that Chthonian Stars does end up using Framewerk, I think that would be a dealbreaker for me.

Combine all that with the end of Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures and AT-43 and 2011 looks like a lean year for me. On the plus side, it means more money in my pocket.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rippin' on...Space: 1889

I remember back when GDW released the original Space: 1889 game, one of the guys in my gaming group bought it. For some reason, we never tried it out. Too bad, it looks like we missed out. Zack and Steve at have some fun at GDW's expense.

Space: 1889


Friday, February 04, 2011

Wildfire and Mongoose, a match made in Hell

Why is it that Wildfire and Mongoose simply cannot work together to produce a worthwhile product? Mongoose, as you may recall, was the original publisher of CthulhuTech, Wildfire's signature property. I had the misfortune of buying the original core book from Mongoose. It fell to pieces in under 24 hours. I was able to get a sturdier replacement, but it was not long before the Wildfire-Mongoose collaboration fell apart and Wildfire jumped over to Catalyst Game Labs (an even bigger disaster, Cthulhu clearly hates this game). Anyway, when Wildfire came up with its second rpg property, Chthonian Stars, they decided to renew old acquaintances with Mongoose. The game was originally going to be released in Q4 2010. It got pushed back to Q2 2011. Now it appears it won't be released at all, at least not as a dead tree Mongoose product (see here and here). Hopefully, Chthonian Stars will still see the light of day, but it won't be from Mongoose.