Friday, 28 October 2011

5150: New Beginnings

Cover of 5150: New Beginnings from THW site5150: New Beginnings is a Science Fiction immersion game from Two Hour Wargames, and the first immersion game that I have bought. While I’m still reading the rules, I like what I see.

I’m not sure if “immersion game” is a tagline that THW has coined for their games, as I have not come across it before but, essentially, it describes a type of game that sits between a tabletop skirmish game and an RPG. By using reaction rolls, the characters in the game are meant to act and react to events as they unfold in a way that is more natural and logical than the traditional “I go, You go” of tabletop wargames.

What I really like is that there is an extensive campaign side to the game, and that the game can be played solo as well.

I first came across the game either on TMP or on one of the many blogs I follow. I joined the Two Hour Games Yahoo Group and read a couple of very entertaining After Action Reports written by guys fumbling their way through character creation and initial encounters. What sold me on the game was that I could easily see myself using my Traveller campaign as a setting, and actually getting to play with some of the figures I have been painting. My initial plan is to set the game in the Border Worlds – along the Lymethius and Gamelea Subsector borders – as this is an area of friction and conflict, which tends to generate good stories.

I elected to get the printed version of the rules from Two Hour Wargames, rather than the pdf, and it came, spiral bound, on a nice weight of paper with a colour card cover. The spiral binding made sense after my initial surprise as the book is going to spend a fair amount of time open when in play. I intend to rebind it, adding clear plastic covers to protect the very nice cover art, as I have access to a spiral binding machine.

I will post some updates on this soon, I think.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Trade Makes the Galaxy Go Round

Cover of GURPs: Traveller - Far TraderI’m still crunching away at the trade figures for the RimWorlds. At present, I have covered most of Lymethius and Gamelea Subsectors and already some interesting patterns are beginning to emerge.

GURPs: Traveller - Far Trader works by creating a World Trade Number for each main world – derived from that world’s Tech Level and population, and modified by the Starport type. An individual planet’s World Trade Number ranges from 0 to 6.5.

The World Trade Numbers of two worlds are added together, modified by Trade Classification type, if applicable, and by the distance in parsecs between the two worlds. The resulting number is called the Bilateral Trade Number and represents the amount of trade between the two worlds in question. What we are looking for is the existence of Major, Minor and Feeder Trade Routes associated with Bilateral Trade Numbers of 10+, 9+ and 8+.

Where GURPs: Traveller - Far Trader is quite clever, is that the distance modifier uses a logarithmic scale. This means that while the serious negative modifier of –2 kicks in at 10 parsecs separation, it is still possible to have a Major Trade Route between two planets up to 19 Parsecs apart, assuming each had a World Trade Number of at least 6 and both were members of the same polity. If there are sufficient High Tech/High Population worlds, they will naturally daisy chain and create lucrative Mains.

Where this information becomes useful from a gaming point of view is when you want an idea of how much traffic, and of what tonnage, is likely to be in a system, and how much freight and passengers are likely to be hanging around, waiting for a ride.

Be prepared however, if you want to use GURPs: Traveller - Far Trader as an economic mapping tool, for a lot of initial work. While parts of the job can be auto-calced by a bit of cunning Exel-fu, there is a lot of tedious manual matching of pairs of WTNs with distance modifiers to arrive at BTNs. Though, if you stick to the formula rules, you can quickly correct any initial calculation errors – such as happened to me this evening when I realised that Acorlis V’s WTN was wrong; once this was fixed, the BTNs I had laboriously calculated all corrected themselves – which was a relief – and the trade routes I had noted leading to Acorlis V all disappeared as the BTNs had dropped below the Feeder Route threshold – which makes sense as Acorlis V is best described as a dusty pest hole the inhabitants are too poor to leave.