Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Last weekend I spent some time reading and having fun with The Traveller Book. Released in 1982, this classic Traveller compilation predates my first contact with RPGs by almost a decade. Having read about how inviting to solo play this system was, I got the PDF some time ago but I had not made anything with it yet. It is a scan of the printed book and some pages are a bit blurred but readable. So after skimming over the book I went on to perform some of the suggested "Basic Traveller Activities" (p.122) -- in this case, creating characters.

Starting with a blank slate, then adding some rolls to find out the character's fate. [source: The Traveller Book]
My first character, with reasonable strength and dexterity and good intelligence and education scores died during his first term of service in the army. The title of this post is the "UPP notation" of the characteristics of my first surviving character, who despite the low dexterity and intelligence scores, served two terms in the army to raise to the rank of captain. UPP (universal personality profile) notation lists the character's attributes (strength, dexterity, endurance, intelligence, education and social standing) as hexadecimal numbers.

Jake Maxwell, 52A347, age 26, Captain (Army)
Skills: Rifle-1, SMG-1, Gambling-1, Body Pistol-1, Dagger-1
Possessions: 10,000 Cr, High Passage

Afterwards I created two more characters:

Mark Sanders, 7877D4, age 26, served on the Navy
Skills: Blade-1, Vacc Suit-1
Possessions: 50,000 Cr

Julie Briggs, 735856, age 30, 4th Officer (Merchant)
Skills: Vacc Suit-2, Medical-1, Body Pistol-1, Electronics-1
Possessions: 80,000 Cr, Low Passage

Character creation assumes that characters start at the age of 18. The six attributes are rolled and then the character may attempt to enlist on one of six services (navy, army, marines, merchants, scouts and other). Failure to enlist results in being drafted into a random service. After this, characters may serve one or more four-year terms, during which they might improve skills and training, go up in ranks and so on. They might also get killed in service. Provided this does not happen, at the end of a term of service the character may muster out, collect some benefits and go on to adventure.

"Mass Effect" anyone? [source: The Traveller Book, p.28]
It is fun to see this "simulation" approach to character creation, something that other games would later adopt (Fuzion and Blue Planet come to mind.) While it is miles away from more recent story-driven role-playing game trends, it does provide a "game within the game" that may itself serve as a procedural source of other character stories.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

MapTool 1.4

MapTool 1.4 was released five days ago but I only found out yesterday. Besides a lot of infrastructure changes that will probably impact future versions, they have added isometric maps. Now it is possible to play in "fake 3D" views which I think will be mostly useful for dungeon crawls.

Moving a flat token in the new isometric view. There is also support to tokens that could look like miniatures standing on the map, but I have not created any yet.

As explained in the forum thread about the new feature, to use the isometric view you should configure the map to use the isometric grid, then use the Flip: Isometric Plane option on the flat objects and tokens that you add to the map. Tokens representing miniatures can be set to the new Figure shape.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Solitaire Games on Your Table is a BoardGameGeek thread where people tell about the board games they have been playing solo. There are some fun reports and it is also a good source of suggestions for games that can be played alone.

One of the games that is often mentioned is Rallyman, a board game simulation of rally races for up to four players. You are trying to make the shortest time, by taking risks while speeding over bumps and sliding on curves. A regular game consists of completing three tracks or "special stages", which are built by using the modular board. You can combine dirt and snow-covered tracks of different lengths. I got this game last weekend and played a few races.

Two boards combined to make some tracks. The reverse side has snow-covered tracks.
Playing Rallyman solo involves setting up a track and trying to make the best time possible. This will require some luck because, for each movement you take, you must roll a die that may land on a "danger" face. Accumulating three of those in a turn causes you to lose control of the car, which may cause damage or even make you abandon the race. Curves also have speed limits and if you go above them, you lose control. Overall, there is a good "simulation" feel of speeding up and slowing down the car as you move around, and making tight curves or sliding your way around them. For those who are curious, a revised manual of the game can also be found on this link on BoardGameGeek.

Making a move: each die rolled equals moving one space.
The production quality of the game is also very high. The boards and other pieces are made of very thick cardboard, the thickness of the cards is also great and the miniature cars look good. My only complaint is that the dice are not etched but rather painted (and thus might wear with time).

Rallyman offers a good solo challenge, and the combination of short set-up time and modular board means it can be played often: if I do not have much time, I can just make a single track instead of a regular race comprised of three tracks. I also do not see a reason why I could not draw new tracks on a large sheet of paper, if I ever come to a situation when the standard tracks are not challenging anymore.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Military Installation

After quite a bit of time, here is the third game for the Wasteland Raiders campaign that I started in January. The next scenario is the Military Installation.

The human party currently consists of Steve [Q3+ C2, Sharpshooter, 1 frag grenade, pistol], the only survivor from the starting group, Keith [Q3+ C3, Champion, Savage, NBC suit, flamethrower], Rhonda [Q3+ C2, Sharpshooter, shotgun, javelins], and Alex [Q3+ C2, HtH Specialist, frenzy drug, poison antidote]. They have 16 food points (after consuming last week's upkeep.)

The roll of the dice created a really scary mutationist party this time. Meet Radiak [Q4+ C3, leader, slippery, tough, death ray gun (2 cells)], Speed [Q4+ C3, fear of water, sprint, stealth, frag grenade], Talon [Q4+ C3, allure, poison, slippery], Mask [Q4+ C4, sharpshooter, telekinetic disarm, telekinetic push, SMG], and Dragon [Q4+ C3, energy projection (electrical), slippery].

In this scenario, enemy forces meet in the ruins of a military base. Their main goal is to kill or drive the enemies off the board. However, they also have the opportunity of searching for weapons in the ruins. The bad news is that the ruins may also hide autonomous defense systems...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Back in (re)action!

Well, after three months of inactivity, I am back to posting on this blog. Here is a quick battle report of a game played with the Chain Reaction 2015 rules. These updated rules have streamlined ranged combat and close combat and might require a few less dice rolls. The basic rules (character stats, reaction system, turn sequence) are unchanged or had only small adjustments.

In this quick game, Maxi (rep 4 grunt, pistol) and Stella (rep 5 star, SMG) are gangers that have crashed their car after escaping a police chase.

Maxi on the left, Stella on the right.
Now they must cross a stretch of an enemy gang territory in order to return to their turf. The goal is to leave the map through the street on the opposite edge, avoiding or fighting the rival gang members.

Can you spot the three Possible Enemy Forces?
The two women start moving cautiously down the street. Some noise from a nearby building draws their attention but they don't see anybody. [As the game began, the two gangers moved into sight of the closest PEF but it was resolved as "There's something out there."]

Maxi and Stella move behind a parked van just as another ganger steps onto the street, coming from a nearby parking lot. Stella fires a burst from her SMG, sending him scurrying for cover behind a building. [The second PEF was resolved as a single guy - I rolled on gang recruitment and fished a random figure to determine his equipment:. a Rep 4 ganger with an SMG. I won the In Sight test, fired but only scored a duck back!]

The dice in this picture indicate the number of successes for each side on the In Sight test. Under the new rules, a tie favors the side that was not moving.

The enemy moves behind cover of a car at the parking lot. The women decide to rush behind a close building but, as they get into an alleyway, the ganger fires at them. Stella shoots back and kills him. Now the way seems clear for them to get away. [I moved into sight of the last PEF, which was resolved as nothing. The enemy won the In Sight test as I moved from behind the building, but missed with three 1's. Stella fired back and scored an Obviously Dead result. After that, there were no more enemies on the map, so they could finish the mission.]

That's an awful to-hit roll. Usually I get these results, not the enemy.
This was a quick game -- around 30 minutes, including taking pictures. Not surprising as this was a simple scenario and I was used to the game rules (despite the modifications in the 2015 version.) I would say that the streamlining worked well -- I was afraid that the new firing rules would be too simple but they match the game style.

In other news, Aleksandar's napoleonic miniatures arrived in July. I have seen some interesting tutorials on the Baccus Miniatures site but I still have to base and paint them.

My printed copy of Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls has arrived more recently (and along with it, the dice with skulls that appear on some of the photos of the battle report.) I hope to play some of their classic solo adventures and write about it.
386 pages of old school role-playing
This is all for now, I expect to get back to updating this blog regularly.