Tuesday, 30 January 2018

World generation for Five Parsecs

"Every star an opportunity" was pretty popular for the original Five Parsecs, so I knew I wanted to bring it back, but simply porting it over didn't feel quite right.

While the title isn't settled yet, the new world generator is quite exciting.

It'll work with all three (for now) Five Parsecs titles and let you generate a world to play on, Traveller style.

At the moment, it will generate a name, Atmosphere type, Bio-sphere (with a chance of angry plant life), Gravity and a big, hunking D100 table with everything from pirate raids to acid raid and funny hats.

Oh, there's also new rules for random animals prowling your battle field and even a "unique animal generator" for those so inclined.

The exciting thing is that a greater degree of random table results directly affect the gameplay now, whether during the battle or in the campaign.

You will find worlds you want to call home and places that you can't wait to get away from.

Release should be within a couple of days, once I am happy with everything.



Friday, 26 January 2018

Five Parsecs: K'Erin Warrior aliens available

We are proud to announce the first Alien expansion pack for the Five Parsecs system.
Whether you play Five Parsecs From Home 2nd edition, Salvage Crew or Gang Warfare, you can include these proud, alien warriors in your games.

The supplement includes extensive background, expanded from that presented in Unity Field Agent originally, new character creation tables and gear, table top rules and all the information needed to integrate the K'Erin in your campaign games.

What are the K'Erin? They are warlike aliens inspired by the Star Trek Klingons and Mass Effect Turian.

Suitable for a wide range of humanoid alien miniature figures, including old Traveller figures.

No matter which system you play, your Five Parsecs game can be enriched by these belligerent alien fighters. 

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Five Parsecs 1.03 plans

So here is the plan for 1.03 in a couple of weeks to a month.

A:
Fix typos, bugs, errors and so forth.

B:
Improve any vague or uncertain wording.

C:
Any balance tweaks such as adjusting encounter table entries.

D:
Each game will have a page or so added with how to handle "competitive" games (versus other players).

E:
Each game will have a "rating" system added, letting you figure out a points value of sorts for your crew.
This can both help gauge when to make difficulty adjustments, help with balancing competitive games and in the future, it might be integrated into the encounter system too.


D and E can be added to the end of the rules and the rest will be rather minor, so no need to print everything again when it happens.
The idea is you can just print the couple of new pages and slip them in the back of your binder.


Anyways, that's the rough idea. Let me know what you think.

Gang Warfare and Bundle deals



After much delay, Gang Warfare is updated to 1.02 status.

Most of the changes are the same sort of thing you saw in Five Parsecs From Home 1.02.

Improved character creation tables, a few bug fixes, compatibility with Salvage Crew and a whole host more.

If you view the old post about the From Home 1.02 update here , you should be pretty well aware.
A fan remarked that it was a big enough improvement to count as a second edition, but it's totally free for you lot.

There is also a change log in the back of the file.

This means that all three Five Parsecs lines are now at the same "level".


Let me know if I goofed something up or if you notice any weird compatibility issues


If you run into strange situations transferring between campaigns, keep me posted and we'll sort out solutions.

* * * * *

We also have a bundle deal available now, after a fan suggestion.

The Five Parsecs Rogues and Scoundrels bundle gives you all three games at 3 dollars off, so if you haven't jumped in yet, this is a perfect time to do so.
You can grab it here

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Musing about things


This isn't related to any project in particular.


Infantry firing mechanic:

When a squad fires, roll 2D6.

If either die scores a 4, remove a figure from the target squad per 4 rolled. 

Take the highest of the two dice, add any bonuses the squad has (quality, weapons, mg) and compare to a target number based on cover.

Target is pinned if you beat the score. 

If a pinned target is hit again, they become suppressed.
If a suppressed target is hit again, they break. 


Example:
My GI's fire at some Krauts hiding in the woods.
I roll a 3 and a 5, so my die is a 5. 

My guys are Regular, so no fire bonus.
They have semi-auto rifles (+1) and a single automatic (the BAR) for no bonus.

So my total score is a 6.

The krauts are in soft cover (target 4) so they are now pinned down. 

* * * * *

Example 2:
A Kraut MG opens up from the flank.
They roll a 1 and a 4.
Their die is a 4 and I must remove a guy.

The Krauts are Veterans (+1) and a MMG gives them +2 for a total score of 7.

My guys are in hard cover (target 5) so they are now pinned down. 

* * * * *

Various thoughts

You could additional effects to beating the target number by a certain amount. 
Maybe beating it by 3 removes an additional figure or forces a "fall back" reaction.

Why 4's ? It's my favorite number. 

How do guys recover? Dice roll when activated? Leader ? Not sure yet. 

What are the effects of being Pinned or Suppressed ? Pinned can't move, Suppressed fires at -2.

How would assaults work?
Similar, but with more dice to start with. 

Does the number of guys firing matter?
No. Though squads below a certain size (5?) might roll only 1D6. 



Thoughts?

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Salvage Crew bug

A perceptive reader noticed that there's a reference to Critters being penalized when Stunned, but it's not actually anywhere in the book.

The intention is that they do not get to re-roll 1's when Stunned.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

A Salvage Crew ....crew



So with a new game, let's roll up a crew.

We're just going to do three characters.

All characters begin with Speed 4, Reactions 1, Combat Skill 0, Toughness 3, Tech 0

For our first character, they came from a Struggling Colony.
This increases their Reactions to 1.5 and they are packing a hold-out pistol (a new weapon in Salvage Crew: Basically a short range pistol that can be used in melee)

They are motivated by Fame (which seems reasonable enough). This lets our crew start with a Lead already, meaning he knows a few people who might eventually hire us.

Our guy was trained as a ...Treasure Hunter.
That ups our Speed to 4.5 and he also gets a Jump Belt and some Infra-Goggles: Handy for negotiating unpleasant situations no doubt.


Our second character will be a woman and grew up on a Resource Extraction Colony (think heavy mining facilities).
That breeds hardy people so she gets +0.5 Toughness and we begin with 4 extra Credits in the bank.
She's motivated by the Truth, so maybe some shady **** went down with the mining corp and she's out to prove it?
This lets us start with another Lead, so now we have 2.

For training, I roll another Treasure Hunter, but I opt to re-roll and get a Doctor.
That lets us begin with 1 more Credit and she's got some Booster Pills packed away in a belt.

A doctor looking for the truth about a corporation..and she's got some barely-legal stimulants packed away? I sense some scifi noir drama going down.


For a third character, it'll be an alien of non-distinct danger, just so I can use some random miniatures.
Hailing from a scientific outpost gives us +0.5 Tech and being motivated by good old-fashioned Wealth means we'll have another 3 Credits to start out with.
Our alien has earned a living in human space working as Ship's Crew, which gives us another +0.5 Tech.

Normally, we'd go ahead and create three more characters, but this is a good place to stop I think.
I'd probably make our treasure hunter the leader (based on being motivated by fame) and I have a few clues I can work from, if I wanted to add a bit of story to my campaign.

Of course, I can't finish this without rolling up a motto (yes, a table is provided).
"Resolution Confirmed".

Sounds like a slogan guaranteed to make the big bucks!

Friday, 12 January 2018

S-day is here. Five Parsecs Salvage Crew is available

The third step of Five Parsecs adventuring is here: Salvage Crew!

You can check out the new logo too.
When I get a chance, that will get added to the existing Five Parsecs games too


So what is Salvage Crew? (SC here after).

It's a new campaign you play, using the same mechanics and systems as the two previous Five Parsecs (FP) games.

Build up a random crew with their own backgrounds and ideas and then take on the universe.

Salvagers tend to be a bit less militant so you will find your crew may end looking a little different.

Campaigns work in a similar fashion: Assign your crew to jobs and play out table top missions. 
Money is a much bigger issue now: Salvagers earn more of it, but they also begin the campaign owing a lot of money for their ship and license. 
Bottom out and you can have your campaign ended by your ship being seized (seems like a great chance to delve into a Gang Warfare campaign then huh?)

Turn to turn game play is what you expect, but we now have rules for things like "contacts" (which can turn out to be enemies or not, a bit like PEF's in 2HW titles) and exploring "points of interest".

This is where the big change is:
Your salvage crew is mainly here to loot. There are things to be found on the battle field and you may or may not run into enemies. You'll have to evaluate the risk of getting a particular piece of loot or not, if it might trigger an enemy squad of bandits.

The result is an experience that feels pretty unique, even if the starting point is the same.

The rules are fully compatible with Five Parsecs From Home and Gang Warfare (the GW update will be live in a day or two, sorry for the delay) and you can transfer characters around.

Does it stop here? Probably not. 
Five Parsecs could theoretically go any number of places.

Fighter pilots? Mercenary captains? Colonists? Private investigators? 
There's really nothing you couldn't do.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Five Parsecs From Home - tiny update

As we speak, the "Infinite Adventure" section at the back of the book has been updated to make way for Salvage Crew being released shortly.

No need to print anything else again, I didn't touch the rest beyond fixing one typo somewhere.

Five Parsecs optional rule: Stumbling

The intention is that Stunned characters cannot enter Brawling combat and for simplicity, they are not currently penalized either if engaged.

Optionally, you may try out this rule:

Stumbling

A Stunned character that enters a Brawl for any reason (whether initiating or defending) will fight as normal but must roll 2D6, picking the lower score for their Brawling score.

The Stunned character will suffer an additional hit for EACH of their dice that score a 1, meaning they can take up to three hits (ouch!).

Feint
There's a chance the Stunned character is actually faking it to lure an attacker.

If either of the Stunned characters dice is a 6, they will inflict a hit on the opponent, even if they ultimately lose the Brawl. This could mean both characters are struck.

Examples:
A Stunned character rolls a 2 and a 4. Their final score is 2.

A Stunned character rolls a 1 and a 4. Their final score is 1 and they take an additional hit.

A Stunned character rolls a 2 and a 6. Their final score is a 2 but they will inflict a hit on the opponent even if they lose.

A Stunned character rolls a 1 and a 6. Both combatants take a hit (and the Stunned character likely takes another hit for losing)

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Starport Scum sale

Snow, winter and dreary weather. Whats better than hanging out at home and playing some Starport Scum?

For 3 days, you can pick up our Starport Scum rules for only 6 bucks.

A tasty cross of miniatures gaming and RPG's, Starport has loads of expansions available, lets you play pretty much any character model on your book shelf and can be taught in minutes. 

Roll up random jobs or build your own scenarios, it's all up to you. 

Make sure to use the link below to get the discount

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Army building in October Hammer

Thought I'd take a second to discuss how you build armies in October Hammer.

Well, other than just grabbing the mini's you want to play with and calling it a day, that is.

Let's say we're putting on a game between the Czechs in Siberia and a detachment of "Red Guard", then we'll just walk through the steps one at a time.

Command
Guards are Irregulars meaning they roll two dice and use the lower for command points (being mostly militia).
However, they do count as a Storm army (adding +1 to their command points) so we're guaranteed at least 2 points per turn.

Czechs were mostly battle-hardened veterans (being composed of POW's) so they rate as Professionals (rolling two dice for command and picking the higher).

Leadership
Each side begins with one leader figure.
The Czechs can roll 5+ to add a Junior leader but fail to do so.

The Reds get a 4+ roll to add a Revolutionary leader and succeed in doing so.

Troops
Being a bit more regimented, the Czechs get 3 rifle units and 1 "automatic rifle unit" (armed with a Lewis gun, Madsen or similar.
They get to roll to obtain a machine gun on 4+ (Success) and a piece of artillery on 5+ (fail).

The Guard, being a militia, are more subject to luck.
The dice provide them 2 units of Amateur infantry and 1 unit of Partisans though they do get a machine gun to back them up.

Options
If the Czechs had rolled an artillery gun, they could now opt to swap it for a unit of Shock infantry.

The Red Guard are subject to the rules for Zeal and can choose to take the Chaotic Supply penalty.
If they do, they get to add another Rifle unit.
Manpower is a bit tight considering the poor state of the infantry, so that seems like a good option.

Notes
Due to being a somewhat lackluster army, Red Guard armies begin the game with 1 bonus Victory Point.

Reinforcements
Rolling for Reinforcement points, we roll two dice, picking the lower. This results in a 4.

Each player gets 4 points to spend on the Reinforcement table.

The Czechs take another machine gun (costing all four points).
The Guards will take a Rifle unit (2 points) and two more units of Amateur infantry (1 point each).

How many minis do we need?
Each unit could be a single stand of mini's, though it does look better if you use two.
So factor about 6 mini's per unit and you're not exactly breaking the bank to get in a game.

Voila
Two armies set up and ready to go.
The entire process took about 3 minutes.

Readability and games.

Layout is tough. I'm self-taught and there's still big flaws I am looking to correct.

However, I think it's also a skill where a few tricks can go a long way and with self-publishing being all the rage in the RPG and wargaming communities, why not learn from each other?
A lot of games look bad.

I don't mean in the sense of art work: Many games have lots of gorgeous art (and most games have more art than NWG titles).
I mean in terms of the text being readable and easy to use.

There's a lot of style guides out there for writing which people may use, however, those are almost universally intended for text that is meant to be read (and often only once).
But games aren't like that.
Your player is going to need to reference the rules for "Single handed melee attack during adverse weather conditions" in the middle of a game, to determine if "a rain of acidic frogs" is considered an adverse weather condition or not.

I think we need to create our tools.

So... here's "Weasel's Rules of Making Text Less Bad":

These are not in any particular order of importance.

I welcome comments on these.
Feel free to share them or expand upon them as you see fit, as long as you give me a shout-out or link back here.


1:
Pick if you intend the reader to print or read on the screen.
Personally, I despise dual column layouts for screen reading, but on paper, a single column tends to be wasteful and inflate the page count.

2:
Tables, flow charts and similar should fit on one page if at all possible.

These are things the player will refer to during play, so having to page flip is a terrible experience.
If you are doing a print book, a table or flow chart crossing facing pages is acceptable.

3:
Try to avoid having a few lines of text spill over to the next page or column.
This again reduces readability when the player is trying to reference a rule in play, but it can also lead to parts of a rule being missed or not understood.

4: 
Try to define your rules terms and avoid using the same words in casual conversation.
I typically put rules terms in bold to make it clear when I am talking about morale as a dice roll, versus descriptive text of the Azhkhanarnian army having low morale during the Wurzenboigen campaign.

In the same vein: Try to use consistent terms.
This can be tricky but it does improve the usability a lot.
Avoid switching between "figure" and "miniature" in a war game for example.

5:
Rules text should be concise and clear, because it'll be referred to during play.
If possible, try to separate flavor text and rules text out so it's easier to parse the paragraph at a quick glance.

"German machine guns typically had high rates of fire, permitting the squad to rely on them to a greater degree.

Add +1 Attack Die when firing a German Machine Gun Team"

6: 
While it's considered old-fashioned, I think the old board-game style of rules and sub-rules works rather well.

Use formatting to indicate whether a rule is a sub-set of an existing rule. For example, if you have your Movement rules, you may have a sub-set that discusses Running or Hiding.
If each main rule is in BOLD AND ALL CAPS you might have sub-sets in CURSIVE CAPS.

You can do similar things for optional or advanced rules.

7:
Limit the blocks of text.
I use a rule of thumb to never have more than 5 lines of text before a line break.
In dual column layouts, you might go to 6 or 7.

Large, dense text blocks are hard to read for a lot of people and are hard to reference during play.
Remember, we're writing games, not literature: Our use cases are different.

Consider more line breaks in your text as well.
"When failing an ammo check, the player character must reload. This takes an action" 

versus

"When failing an ammo check, the player character must reload.
This takes an action"

The effect is not pronounced for a single line like this, but when it comes as part of a text block, it can make spotting the rule much easier.

8:
People smarter than me have suggested that if possible, try to break up each page with /something/ else than text: An image, a table, an example, a text box etc.

I still need to work on this, but I wanted to include it anyways.

9:
Also something I need to work on:
Illustrations that somehow correlate to the text on the page will improve usability of a book massively.

We've all had rule books where you remembered how to find a particular often-referenced section because "it had the picture of the dude with the sword".

Plus, it just makes the game look more cohesive.

10:
When it comes to writing rules, pay close attention to your choice of words like "will" and "may".
When you review your game rules, read them as literally as possible because that's what a substantial portion of your audience will do to.

If read literally, does the rule say what you intend it to say ?

"Characters within 2" of an enemy may attack in close combat".

Does this mean I can also choose to shoot?
Did you intend that I can opt not to attack at all?


That's it for now.
I have more things to say, but I thought 10 was a reasonable amount for one day.

What are your tips?

Do you disagree with the obvious nonsense I just posted?

Lemme know.


If this was helpful to you, why not say thank you by buying a copy of October Hammer so you can see how I screwed it all up :-)

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Five Parsecs From Home. Mega-update

So the update for Five Parsecs is done and I've gone ahead and updated it.

There's really too much to just fit in a small email, so I wanted to put a more thorough list here.

The only thing that isn't included yet are the notes for how to transfer to Salvage Crew, but those will be added later, since it's only one page.

Gang Warfare will follow with more or less the same changes in a day or so. Maaaaaaybe tonight. Maybe.

So in no particular order of importance:

* New AI rules

The "Enemy Movement" rules have been tweaked a bit to make Cautious enemies act slightly differently.
Two new AI types (Psycho and Tactical ) have been added as well and the Encounter table has been updated to account for these.

They also deploy slightly differently.

In particular, this fixes an issue where "military" type units had to be rated Cautious, which didn't feel quite right.

* Difficulty settings changed

Instead of fixed difficulty "settings", now you get a list of options you can apply to make the game easier and a list of options to make it harder.
The result is that you can tailor things more to your taste.

*Recruiting limits

The number of current squad members before you have to roll to recruit is now 6 instead of 5.
Gang Warfare will raise its number by 1 too.

This is mainly there to prevent gangs from falling into the casualty death spiral.

*Tech ability score

Salvage Crew introduces a new ability score: Tech, which is used for various problem solving situations.
To ensure compatibility (and help scenario writers) all Five Parsecs characters will have a Tech score and some character creation rolls will add to it.

*Expanded character creation

Some character creation rolls will now provide bonus experience points, quest clues, patrons or enemies.
In addition, every roll on the character creation table should provide you with something, even if that something just happens to be an enemy gunning for you.

*Problem solving rules

Nothing major but Five Parsecs has a basic task system now for various scenario-related problems.
You get a few options to quickly roll out things like lock picking and bomb disposal.

*Dash move

Characters that don't fire can move 2" extra.

*Stun rules updated

It's now clearer and more consistent that you can accumulate multiple Stun markers, they wear off at a rate of 1 per activation.
I removed the "knock out" rule, since its rather easy to forget and don't come up often enough to be worth another die roll.

*Reaction dice pool

The Reaction dice mechanic is a bit stuffy, requiring you to roll separately for each character.
Now, it's a bit quicker: Roll dice equal to your squad size and assign them as you see fit.

This means you have more control over who goes first, increases the chances of having characters go first at all and should be quicker to play.

*Heavy weapon enemies

It's now clarified that enemies with Heavy weapons don't have to advance on you, even if their AI is Aggressive.

*Injury table relaxed

The injury table has been relaxed slightly, to make the serious results a little bit less common.

*Bonus XP for Tough opponents

More of a token, but some enemies are now considered Tough and give a bit of extra XP for your troubles.

*Climbing and jumping

There are now explicit rules for climbing and jumping down from obstacles.

*Stars of the story

To prevent campaign disasters, players get a collection of 5 "get out of jail" chances.
Each does a different thing, like getting a new character or avoiding an injury but can be used only once per campaign.

*Brawling

Five Parsecs From Home now uses the opposed roll Brawl from Gang Warfare.

A few delays for Salvage Crew but its not all bad news!

The good news is that Salvage Crew is progressing nicely and seems to fit together fine from testing.

The bad news is that it's taking a little bit longer than expected.


This is largely because the existing Five Parsecs systems (From Home and Gang Warfare) will both see some pretty substantial improvements to go along with Salvage Crew, both to ensure compatibility, fit in customer feedback and adjust a few bits that needed tweaking.

Needless to say, the updates will be totally free, but if you were thinking of printing out the entire book for either game, wait a couple of days :-)