Monday, April 9, 2018

The Stupidity of Boob Armor


Because it's never a bad time to remind people how ridiculous boob armor really is ...

Monday, March 26, 2018

[Uncharted Worlds] Kylara Vatta


I'm currently blowing my way through Vatta's War, Elizabeth Moon's five-volume series about the adventures of Kylara "Ky" Vatta, Space Academy dropout and merchant trader scion. (This is so I can get up to speed before starting Cold Welcome, the first book in the new Vatta's Peace series.) I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I can say that the Ky Vatta who appears at the beginning of Trading in Danger (the first book in the series) is a perfect starting character for Uncharted Worlds (or pretty much any other SF RPG).

Vatta's home planet, Slotter Key, provides her with a Productive Origin. (Given the interstellar reputation of Vatta Enterprises, I considered giving her a Privileged Origin, but it's clear that Vattas are expected to work for a living, no matter how much money they may have inherited.) Vatta's not particularly intellectual, so "Education" is out as an Origin skill, and so is "Calibrations"—she's not much of a mechanic. "Acumen" is an obvious choice for a merchanter's child, but she'll be able to get that skill from her Commercial Career (see below). I'm therefore opting for "Vocation": Vatta could use the Expertise boost, and her hard-working nature justifies the choice.

Careers are a no-brainer: her parents raised her from infancy to be Commercial, and her contrary nature led her to the Slotter Key Space Academy and thus Military. Because Vatta never made it out of the Academy (she's kicked out for political reasons on p. 2 of Trading in Danger), one skill from Military should be enough, and "Authority" is the obvious pick here. As the plot of the novel will go on to make clear, Vatta may be a neophyte captain, but she knows how to command her crew. The remaining two skills a starting UW character gets will come from Commercial: "Marketing" (Vatta knows where to go to get what she needs) and the aforementioned "Acumen" (she knows how to read the market once she arrives).

Stats are also straightforward. Vatta puts her +2 in Mettle (courage under fire is her forte), one of her +1s in Physique (she is deceptively tough for her age and size), and the other +1 in Influence (she's certainly charismatic). Her 0 goes into Expertise, which is subsequently raised to a +1 courtesy of her "Vocation" Origin skill (she's not a genius, but she knows how to apply herself). Her -1 has to go into Interface: she's no hacker, even if she knows her way around an cerebral implant.

The mission she's given by her father (to deliver some goods in an aging hull en route to the scrapyard) is straightforward enough, so her Advancement trigger is "A cargo is exchanged." The clear choice for a Workspace is "Mercantile," but here Vatta's GM might intervene and make the space a bit less cushy (to reflect the decrepit condition of Vatta's ship, the Glynnis Jones).

Characters normally start play with a Class 0 Attire outfit, but Vatta's fashion-minded mother has made sure that she has a stylish Vatta Enterprises uniform (Class 1 Uniform, Impressive) as well. She also has her setting's ubiquitous cerebral implant (Class 1 Cybermod, Head, Implement-Broadcast Kit), allowing her to connect to local networks, transmitting and receiving information. Finally, her Class 2 asset is a top-of-the-line Deere Ltd. pressure suit (Class 1 Simple, Tough, Sealed).

It's always a good sign when a game system allows you to accurately translate the abilities and qualities of a fictional protagonist from a related genre, and that's certainly the case here with UW.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

[Uncharted Worlds] Pets in SPAAAACE! Addendum


I can't believe I didn't stat up these little guys when I wrote the original "Pets in SPAAAACE!" post back in July 2017. I guess I didn't have the full Last Jedi fever at that point. Anyhoo, if you want to add porgs to your Uncharted Worlds game, their basic (Class 0) Beast chassis has Natural Locomotion (Flying) as a default. Movement (Swimming) is almost a mandatory upgrade, as is Tiny.


You may also want to give your porg the Emotional upgrade (although you can decide whether the mental state they exude is bliss or rage).

Rebooting the Blog


Welcome to my Hoom Page! Founded in 2010, this blog was originally entitled Vargold: The Wolf-Time. (I've copied all of the posts from Vargold to this new site, so no content has been lost.) The initial focus was on swords-and-sorcery gaming, particularly with regard to the Barbarians of Lemuria system and setting. My interests have shifted over time, and my posting rate has diminished with increased adulting responsibilities. I've recommitted to more frequent blogging, however, and this rebranding of the blog (from Howardian "barbaric yawps" to Tolkienesque "hasty thoughts") is a way to mark the transition. Also, I'm just really into sentient plants and Green Men.

Friday, July 21, 2017

[Uncharted Worlds] Pets in SPAAAACE!

A few weeks back Sean Gomes released the long-awaited Far Beyond Humanity supplement for his Uncharted Worlds RPG. FBH contains—among other things—rules for adding not only extranormal powers to one's UW campaign but also alien player characters. I haven't had a chance to read over the book carefully, but I did find my eyes drawn to one page in particular: the page in the "Commercial" chapter on beast Assets.

Ever since I played a Dwarf Hunter in World of Warcraft, I've been obsessed with pets for characters.  (Well, it's possible that watching The Beastmaster all those years on TBS may also be responsible for this predilection.) For example, the lack of a good Beastmaster Ranger option in Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons is a major factor in my lack of enthusiasm for those rules. Conversely, the awesome Animal Companion and Pet rules in 13th Age made that game an easy sell for me (as shown here and here). So finally getting pet rules for UW (something I missed during Sean's open development process for the book) makes me happy.

I'm also happy because the rules for beast Assets allow me to recreate famous science fiction pets right out of the gate.


For example, Kitty Pryde's beloved space dragon Lockheed is a cinch to make: start with a Class 2 Asset beast chassis (basic ability + 2 upgrades), the sort of chassis you'd take if you were going to make a critter-centered PC. A beast Asset can have either Natural Weaponry (one upgrade from the Melee Weapons table) or Natural Locomotion (something other than just walking). I could give Lockheed the Energy upgrade to represent his fiery breath—or I could give him Flying as a form of locomotion. In this case, I'm going to go with Flying because I can also give Lockheed a beast upgrade of Deadly to get the Energy attack. For my second upgrade, I take Tiny; Lockheed is always perched on Kitty's shoulder.

And that's it!


Anne McCaffrey's fire lizards are just as easy to make as Lockheed. Replace Deadly with the upgrade Bond, allowing Beauty and the rest of her flight to telempathically communicate with Menolly. No other changes are needed.

Finally, it turns out that you can make this guy with the FBH beast Asset rules:


Start with Natural Weaponry (the Energy upgrade to represent his lightning Pokémon powers) for free, add the Attuned upgrade (so that Pikachu can't be hurt by the electricity he channels), and then finish him off with the Summoned upgrade ("Pikachu, I choose you!").

A pet like Doctor Who's K-9 is better off handled as a PC built along the lines of the new Robotic Alien Form rules. For more simple critters, though, you are essentially set with this one page alone.