Saturday, February 6, 2016

Some Shards Actual Play

I actually got to play this afternoon with my friend and his son, and we made a few discoveries...

My friend played a synthoid. Their omni-knowledge is AWESOME if played well. He had INT 14 (we started at level 3) and was able to interface with the computer aboard the orak gunship from the core rules. In a few seconds, he had completely overridden their controls, and had gathered all of the information from the ship's database. He was able to remotely trigger a self-destruct mechanism as they were leaving aboard an orak interceptor. Seriously cool stuff, and easily supported by the rules (it was both challenging and awesome, requiring a roll of 30. He rolled 17 on the die with his INT 14, so he snuck it through the uprights).

His son played a terran templar, and the stunts balance very well. He tried to use a suggestion on one of the guards but failed, and then had to wait until next turn to call his sun blade to his hand, and cut himself out of the chains, which worked. 

We played with the rules for generating junkers, and we ended up with a junker that had a dependability of 2! It broke down twice during a short combat, and only escaped because he was able to get the jump drive back online and win initiative before three interceptors finished the ship off. It was down to 2 hp when it jumped.


I'm giving the rules for XP some serious thought. I wanted to honor the original XP system from Saga of the Splintered Realm, but a different XP system may be in order, closer to the one in Sentinels of Echo City. Right now, I can see that any Junker is going to require the credits to be coming in hand over fist just to keep it running, and the XP balance on that is going to be somewhat difficult. Plus, the game lends itself to making off with vehicles valued in the tens of thousands of credits, meaning that you'd be getting routine (and unbalancing) XP spikes. This will be addressed in the March 1 update. 

Shards of Tomorrow Errata

As I hear from players and spend more time in the rules, I'm sure that more things that need to be corrected/clarified will rise to the surface. I was intentional in waiting a month to release the print edition, because I knew there would be something somewhere that would need a tweak. On this thread I will post all of the errata for Shards as it comes up:

- Junkers start with a dependability of 2d4.
- Junkers start with speed of 1d10+10.
- The Junker Profile will be updated with these two attributes.
- Synthoids can survive in the vacuum of space; they do not need to eat or breathe.
- The nuaru must be lawful. There is a comment about chaotic nuaru, but that will be removed.


Also, some changes I know will be coming with the March 1 update:

- An additional appendix will outline followers: your first mate, wingman, or best friend; that guy who is always by your side. The player classes will be available for the role, but I will also include a few other besties, including an advanced bot and a myconoid fungus dude.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Banner for Shards of Tomorrow

Here's the banner I'll be putting up on RPGNow tomorrow... after I launch the game tomorrow afternoon! It needs one final editing sweep before I feel comfortable releasing it into the wild (putting it at roughly 99.9% done), and then you'll be able to pick up your very own copy. I think the banner below is hi-lar-ee-ous, but Mary sort of shook her head at me. Maybe I've been working on this too long...

Obligatory 99% Done Post

Shards of Tomorrow is at 99% done, and only needs a final editing sweep, page numbers citations throughout, and an index. That, my friends, is what we call nearly in the books.

There is a LOT I love about this game, but my favorite thing is the rules for rolling up and playing your own junker. This game within a game of keeping your starship going and just keeping up with the basic maintenance is just so much fun... here's the character sheet for your starship...

By the way, I'm thinking that one of the ads for the game is a starship bumper sticker that says "I got 99 problems, but my junker ain't one of them."

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Introductory Adventure Map

For the starter adventure, I wanted to give a scenario that GMs would be able to use in a variety of ways. I decided that the opener has to do with an Orak Gunship. I'm going to stat it up, and then provide a few different hooks for ways to use it, rather than a single linear adventure. Here's the map of the gunship... my favorite iteration has all of the Orak turned into zombies, and the PCs sent to steal the five Orak interceptors for a local guild master; their payment would be that they'd be allowed to keep one of the interceptors. This has a lot of potential for fun.

I have a hand-drawn map of the interior of an Orak ship, but I like this one (computer-generated) better than my hand-drawn style for the game. Starships would be more mechanical and precise than the more earthy Dyson-inspired maps I usually do...

A Nomenclature of Planets

In developing the campaign setting for Shards of Tomorrow, I am working on names for planets and other heavenly bodies. I want something that sounds both familiar and unusual, classic and yet offbeat. I think I've come up with a solution that checks all the boxes and fits my personality... Shakespeare!

The suns would be named after the main characters for a number of plays, with the planets and planet-like objects named after other characters from the plays. These are easy to remember, evoke the right feeling, and actually suggest some of the relationships between planets or their nature... for instance:

Prospero is the original system of the Confederacy, and was once the most settled and prosperous, but now is (largely) in ruin. The vast celestial sea connects the thousands of small fragments of what was once the planet Ariel. The planet Caliban is a wild planet of monstrous lifeforms, and home to the kobo. Miranda is a settled and colonized world, the new home of terrans after the destruction of Ariel, and the homeworld of the gnorom.

Romeo and Juliet are binary stars. Two of the largest planets, Montague and Capulet, are powerful trade worlds in competition with each other. Tybalt is a planet at war, barren and hot. Friar is a small planet of deeply religious philosophers, and homeworld to the nuaru.

Hamlet is a system in conflict. Ophelia is a watery world, home to the Trog. Laertes is a tempestuous planet. Polonius is a gas giant. Claudius II is the new homeworld to the Orak, who were moved there as a prison colony, but they rebelled and took the planet over.

Macbeth is a dark and backwards system of savage peoples. The small planets orbiting this relatively cold star, Banquo, Macduff, Duncan, all share the qualities of being generally inhospitable and barren, with a variety of challenging climates. Malcolm and Donalbain are more hospitable but relatively unsettled planets, with rich natural resources and pockets of civilization.

Othello was the system of the Orak, but it is now destroyed. It serves as the location of the Shadow's Rift, the black hole leading into the Void. Two planets orbit the black hole, Desdemona and Iago. Both are barren worlds teeming with dark forces. However, both also have the remains of valuable artifacts and relics of the times before buried deep underground.

See? It just all fits together so nicely. Shakespeare provided such a nice variety of characters and settings for his plays, so borrowing these provides instant variety and consistency to the planets. That, my friends, is what you call a win.