Monday, 21 March 2011

History of the RimWorlds #7 – The Klarthur Confederacy: scratching at the surface.

Ktualesa“And later in the bulletin, we will have an extended interview with Lord Saaroi hault-Creaso, Vice-Regal Minister for Exploration, on the implications of Klarthur Confederacy claims to systems in the Riinu and Daltharmai Subsectors to further Imperial expansion in the RimWorlds Sector. But first, results just in from the Berimar’s Sceptre Aeroball League …”

In spite of resistance by the Klarthur Confederacy, the Imperium continued to expand into the RimWorlds. Following the path of least resistance, Imperial colonisation moved Rimward from Berimar’s Sceptre Subsector into Thurgandarn, and then into Nolgor Subsector. The Perrsherrik Rift halted the march to the Rim for a few years, but by 552 Imperial forces under Sector Duke Kolin II Venuraski had penetrated the Coreward end of the Gazul Subsector.

Design Notes:
And this brings us back to the thorny issue of the Klarthur Confederacy. After some thought, I have come to the following conclusions:

The Klarthur Confederacy is named for a nebula – the Klarthur Nebula - in Aemilor Subsector.

The dominant species in the Klarthur Confederacy is the H’ran, an aggressive bipedal reptilian race that were originally raised to sentience under the Thongaloros Empire. Serving as ground forces and shipboard marines for the Empire, the H’ran secured sufficient interstellar shipping during the collapse of the Thongaloros Empire to extend their sway over several systems in the Aemilor Subsector. The H’ran State was on the verge of collapse, as it lacked the industrial base to construct its own starships, when it overran the Gherlach, a much less aggressive but technology-savvy reptilian race.

The Gherlach were assimilated into the H’ran State as a servitor-technician caste but, soon, the Gherlach began to dominate the councils of the H’ran as they were in contact with an isolated clan of Tsalur, the ruling race of the Thongaloros Empire. The Tsalur were content to rule the expanding Klarthur Confederacy through their Gherlach servants, while the H’ran were directed to, initially, wage wars of expansion, and then to resist Imperial expansion where they could.

Have Spaceship, Will Travel

Cover of Venture Class Frontier Courier by DB GamesdesignVenture Class Frontier Courier
by Dave Blalock and Arthur Pollard

Recently, I met Dave Blalock through the wonders of the Intertubes. Dave has been steadily publishing Traveller and Traveller-related material for a number of years now, under either his D. B. Gamesdesign imprint, or as part of Hell Creek Sanitarium. Talking to him reminded me that I had actually bought one of his products a couple of years ago, the Venture Class Frontier Courier and deck plans.

Statted for Mongoose Traveller, the Venture Class Frontier Courier is a 150 ton, Jump-2, Manoeuvre-2 vessel. Used mainly as a courier or mail ship in backwater frontier regions, it’s designed for endurance, cost-efficiency, and ease of maintenance.

The bulk of the booklet consists of two very nice deck plans and accompanying descriptions. There are also several very nice exterior drawings that give the reader an idea of what the ship looks like, as well as how large it actually is. Three adventure hooks complete the presentation.

The deck plans are also available separately, which is a bonus if you like to use miniatures during your gaming session.

Being 50 tons larger than the Type-S Scout Courier, though with similar performance parameters, makes this ship design just that more viable as a PC owned vessel – 47 tons of cargo space goes a long way towards paying the bills. With cabin space for three crew and three passengers, a standard PC party can be accommodated aboard easily. At a squeeze, the life support system will support up to fourteen passengers and as well as three crew. This extends the vessel’s potential usefulness into the realms of small-scale striker mercenary actions. Finally, you have got to admire a ship design that includes a garden and pool with full height view ports giving the patio area impressive views of space.

I really like this supplement. It is cleanly presented and nicely illustrated. I noticed a couple of typos but I understand that these were corrected in the pdf. If you haven’t seen the Venture Frontier Courier, then check it out.

Friday, 11 March 2011

History of the RimWorlds #6 – A Pocket Empire with Teeth: the Klarthur Confederacy

Lanii Harpurii - Interstellar News Anchor“In breaking news, Imperial Interstellar Scout Service sources have confirmed that the loss of the survey vessel, IISS Joralanii, in the Choraptur system in Riinu Subsector, was due to hostile action. This contradicts earlier statements by Lord Saaroi hault-Creaso, Vice-Regal Minister for Exploration, that the Joralanii had suffered catastrophic decompression following a collision with ring material during a refuelling run around the main Choraptur system gas giant.

“IISS sources further confirmed that the Scout Service, as well Vice-Regal officials, have been aware for nearly six months that a large and reasonably technologically advanced Pocket Empire has a presence along the Spinward border of RimWorlds Sector Map
the Riinu Subsector. Believed to be centred in Aemilor Subsector, this Pocket Empire has, so far, disputed Imperial claims to systems in Riinu and Daltharmai Subsectors.”

In my last post on the history of the RimWorlds, I was happily writing along when this last paragraph fell out:
Expansion was rapid and successful, and Kolin began to dream of a Sector Duchy. And then his advancing wavefront of scouts ran into a technologically competent Pocket Empire, the Klarthur Confederacy.

While chronologically and spatially logical, we are currently in the 497 – 540 period and, as seen below, it’s nearly 150 years before the Klarthur Confederary boots the Imperium out of most of Riinu Subsector. So, what happened, and who are the Klarthur Confederacy?

History of the RimWorlds

103 Thongaloros Empire falls to the Outrim Barbarians.
497First Imperial presence in the Rimworlds in Kaorin and Berimar’s Sceptre subsectors.
540 Sector Duchy of the Rimworlds established with its capital on Raelmar/Thurgandarn. Kolin I Venuraeki is first Sector Duke.
690 - 699Reign of Sector Duke Morthar II the Weak. Imperial control of the Sector, disrupted during the Civil War of 602 – 610, continues to weaken. Morthar is assassinated by his cousin, Deserai, who succeeds him as Neal Zuro II. During Morthar’s reign, Riinu Subsector is mostly lost to the Klarthur Confederacy.

The Klarthur Confederacy is one of those things in my sector history that I have never made a decision upon. And now it has slipped up and bitten me.

So, options –
· A Thongaloros Empire successor state. Though, this is a “confederacy”. This could mean a number of Tsalur clans working together at an interstellar level, though independent at a planetary/system level, and possibly jockeying for status within the Confederacy. On the face of it, it doesn’t sound particularly strong – strong enough to hold off Kolin and his mates.
· A true confederacy that happens to include some Tsalur worlds with their higher technology. If the Tsalur dominate the fleet, with their high tech heritage and past control of Jump tech, this may explain their stubborn, yet long-term approach to resisting Imperial expansion into Confederation space.

I need to think on this and post in a couple of days.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Droyne and Hivers

Cover of Alien Races 3 from Steve Jackson GamesGURPs Traveller: Alien Races 3

by David Pulver, David Nilsen, Andy Slack, and David Thomas

Volume 3 of this series examines the Droyne and Hiver Major Races, considers the links between the Droyne and the Ancients, and presents the Inheritors and Lithkind Minor Races. Amongst the general information on the Hiver Federation, we are given very limited snapshots of the Ithklur (Federation Reptilian Stormtroopers), Gurvin (providers of the Federation spoken and written language) and Za’tachk (the Federation’s Bwaps) Minor Races, plus the tantilising hints that there are human-settled worlds within the Federation, and that there are a number of other Minor Races (the Young Worlds) settled along the Federation’s Rimward subsectors.

I’ve always quite liked the Droyne – what’s not to like about Psionic winged reptiles with compound eyes that prefer living in a pre-Industrial Age bucolic paradise, and may just have access to serious God-Tech? I’ve always liked how GDW first introduced the Chirpers, and then the Droyne, and then hinted at a link between the two until that became canonical.

The Secret of the Ancients Adventure from GDW tied the Droyne to the Ancients and the mysterious figure of Grandfather, though as an adventure, it quickly turned into a magical, mystical railroad ride in that the players had few options except to follow mysterious guides around or get destroyed. Story-wise, fascinating set points; adventure-wise, dull. I can just imagine some of the players from my old group attempting to steal something or blow something up just so that they’d feel like they were doing something, only to then invoke a Total Party Kill from the 300,000 year-old defence systems made by a guy who could disassemble planetary systems and create folded space-time.

If the concept of Elder Races, or Ancients, is your thing, but you dislike the Ancients as laid out by GDW, then I would recomend David Brin’s Uplift series of novels. The basic idea that a sponsor race will uplift a client race to sentience and beyond is quite fascinating. The idea that these sponsor/client relationships can form a chain stretching over millions of years is mind blowing. And the fact that there might have been a Progenitor Race seems totally logical.

The biggest attraction for having Ancients in your campaign is the opportunity to introduce limited quantities of God-tech – matter transporters, disintergrators, ships that use other forms of drive to cross interstellar distances.

So, does your Progenitor Race have to be the Droyne? Of course not. Cannonically, the Geonee Human Minor Race are convinced that they are the Ancients. In my Traveller Campaign, there was a mysterious Interstellar Empire, ruled over by hexapedal reptilians, which dominated local space but collapsed completely 500 years before Humaniti from the 3rd Imperium arrived. As this empire controlled Jump technology in the volume of space my campaign is set in, its fall destroyed any over-all picture of what the empire as a whole was like and so there are conflicting memories amongst the Minor Races who outlasted it as to the nature of the Empire. But you can still have fun sending your players chasing off after Droyne, looking for the missing link to mysterious Progenitor Races, if you so wish.

The Hivers have never been a favourite Race of mine – cannocially too far away from where I set my games, and just plain weird. The Hiver Federation, on the other hand, is quite a fascinating area of space. You have a bunch of curious, voiceless, non-aggressive starfish-like dudes whose main strength is their ability to analyse other people/species and then work out how to persuade them to follow a different set of goals to those held beforehand. It must work, as the Hiver Federation controls some 16 Sectors and has fought only one external interstellar war in the last 3000 years, which it won by turning militant vegetarians into meat-eaters, much to the horror of the K’kree Major Race.

Of the two Minor Races presented in detail, the Lithkind, apart from some rather gruesome practises that make me seriously wonder about them as a viable, high-tech species, are not that really exciting or new – forest pixies have been done elsewhere – though they are presented in quite a logical manner.

The Inheritors, low-gravity Chinese dragon-like creatures, I actually find more interesting. That is, apart from the fluorine-based metabolism. The latter is just so hard to fit into a campaign that, to me, it rather limits their usefulness. If they had been methane breathers, then the whole C.J. Cherryh Compact Space story arc could have kicked in. But fluorine? Having said that, I may adapt them for my game anyway, if only by crossing out "fluorine" in the text and writing in "methane".

So, a bit of an uneven book, but the snippets of information on some of the supporting cast for the Hivers is well worth looking at, particularly if you are contemplating a campaign in the Crucis Margin or Glimmerdrift Sectors.

I seem to recall that I got my copy from Steve Jackson Games’ Warehouse 23, as it came with a separate sheet of Droyne Coyns, printed on light card. I believe that this book is no longer available from there, and it does not seem to be available from Steve Jackson Games’ e-23 ebook repository, either, which is a shame. I would suggest either bugging SJG until they put the ebook up, or watching ebay for a copy to come up.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Website Update #11

Hammer's Slammers Skimmer from Ground Zero GamesTrying to come back up to speed after the Field Guide project, and then a dose of the 'flu, with something to hand that didn't require much brain power. So, updated my modelling log with some average photos and heart-felt praise for figures by Splintered Light Miniatures and Ground Zero Games.