The new(ish) game group has settled in nicely over the last two years. We started as a 5th ed D&D group — that was my sales pitch for two of the gamers — but they have tried out Hollow Earth ExpeditionTales from the Loop (which was very popular with the gnag, as most of them are of that particular late ’80s childhood.) I introduced them to a house rules version of cortex to run our end of Roman Britain campaign, swapping for the high fantasy of Dungeons & Dragons. I floated the idea of a new science fiction campaign; I’ve been getting the itch to do sci-fi, and particularly space opera again.

The ideas I threw out were a Star Trek campaign in the reboot (and let’s face it, it’s a reboot) Discovery universe (minus the awful spore drive McGuffin). I like the aesthetic of the ships and gear of the show, and the more gritty tone fits me well. And I would get to use the Eaglemoss starships for battles. (The Discoverse ships are gorgeous! and I’m warming up to the Warhammer 40k aesthetic of the Klingon designs from first season (which I initially didn’t like…) I’m thinking of either busting out the old Decipher Trek rules set, or porting it to classic Cortex, which remains a house fave for rules mechanics.

The second choice was to try and catch lightning in a bottle one more time with Battlestar Galactica. I miss the old campaign, loved the universe we had created, and think I could do a nice variation on the themes without repeating myself. And I would get to use the Eaglemoss models for combat scenes.

Something tells me with the current crop, Trek would fly better.

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The James Bond: 007 Role Playing Game was written back in the early 1980s, and while it remains an excellent engine for espionage roleplaying, some of the mechanics are getting a bit like Roger Moore in A View to a Kill — a bit too long in the tooth.

One thing I’ve noted is that the firearms damage ratings, much like the structure points for electronic do-dads and performance modifiers for modern vehicles, do not take into account well the serious improvements in technology. I thought I would address the first in this post.

There’s one way to correct for this: hit the interwebz and find out what the ammunition the character is using has for muzzle energy. For instance, most modern 9mm is going to be running in the 330-360 ft/lbs. range. Using the Q Manual as a guide, you’ll see that most 9mm firearms of service weapon size (4″ to 5″ barrels) should be throwing lead with a DC of G. The Walther PPK in either .32 or .380 would have an E. Both 10mm and .40S&W run in the H range, etc… +P and other hot loads push this even further, but should lower the S/R by at least one due to recoil, and depending on the weapon, might increase the JAM rating, as the weapon takes a heavier beating than was intended.

For instance, running .32 +P through a Kel-Tec P32 is pretty inadvisable. It might do alright for the occasional firefight, but a steady diet with kill the weapon pretty fast. You might kick the JAM from a 98+ to a 97+ and add a GM Information tag that the weapons suffers a malfunction on 99 and 100, instead of just 100. Another good rule of thumb is that if the pistol has longer than a 3″ barrel, bump the DC up one. This holds pretty true for rifles, as well.

Now if game balance is your thing, you might find a close analogue to a weapon being used in the Q Manual or Black Campbell’s own Q2 Manual (and yeah, you’ll find it pirated on other sites…it’s my work) and riff on that. I’m planning a new gear manual in the future that addresses some of the changes the world has wrought on this venerable game system.

My new acquisition made me check the blog to see if I had covered this before, a lo! I had not. So without further ado…

Walther PPQ 9mm

1024px-Walther_PPQ

Introduced in 2011 as a follow on to the P99, the new PolizeiPistole Quick Defence, or Police Pistol, Quick in English is a 9mm striker-fired semiautomatic pistol with a 15 round capacity. Unlike the P99, there is no “single action” mode, rather the pistol functions similarly to most striker fired pistols. The trigger safety is modeled on the Glock, with a small trigger lock that is depressed when the trigger is pulled, but which should not catch on clothing and cause an accidental discharge. This trigger is exceptional for a striker pistol — the weight is about four pounds, with an incredibly short reset that makes it is very fast to string follow up shots. The polymer frame is topped by a heavy slide which mitigates much of the felt recoil, and the grips have palm swells with slight finger grooving to improve handling. The backstrap is interchangeable with three different sizes to adjust for the shooter’s hand size. The magazine release was originally a German styled paddle on the trigger guard (now the M1 version), and a later M2 release swapped this for the American-style magazine release…because learning a very easy manual arms was too hard. Extended ambidextrous slide releases and large gripping grooves on the slide make this easy to use with gloves and along with the paddle-style magazine release make it easy to use with either hand.

The accuracy of the pistol, out of the box, is hard to beat, and the speed and ease of follow up fire makes this an excellent combat handgun. The grip shape and thin width of the weapon make it easy to conceal. Magazines with longer buttplates allow for a 17 round capacity.

PM: +1   S/R: 3   AMMO: 15   DC: F    CLOS: 0-3   LONG: 8-18   CON: +1   JAM: 99+   RL: 1   COST: $550

GM Information: With the extended magazines, the AMMO is 17 and CON: 0.

In .40S&W the PPQ stats are as follows:

PM: 0   S/R: 2   AMMO: 12   DC: G   CLOS: 0-3   LONG 8-19   CON: +1   JAM: 99+   RL: 1

Our “sequel” Hollow Earth Expedition campaign has been revolving around a new US intelligence/cryptoscience organization, the Office of Scientific Investigation. We had originally premiered this in our abortive Atomic Robo campaign, but the material was too good not to resurrect — especially after out initial HEX campaign ended with the Hollow Earth emerging from the middle of the planet (the “Ghost World” event) to become a second Earth.

So here’s a thumbnail of the group we’ve been using for our game:

Office of Scientific Intelligence

Formed in 1933 after the emergence of the Hollow Earth from the center of the world, the OSI is tasked with investigating “weird” science ideas, the remnant of races, creatures, and tech from the Hollow Earth and the ancients that had created that world. The OSI was formed by Congressional order and placed under the authority of the War Department. The director of this bureaucracy was obvious, Admiral Richard Byrd — the famed explorer and commander of the Los Angeles expedition into the interior world shortly before the emergence. The crest of OSI has the motto: Scientia est Victoria (Knowledge is Victory).

The OSI has been under congressional scrutiny from the beginning as it has been prohibitively expensive. The War Department, however, has protected certain programs as “essential to national security” and have pointed to the need for construction projects (using the PWA) and heavy industry ties as important to combatting the effects of the Great Depression. Equipment is usually borrowed from the US Navy and Marine Corps.

The headquarters of OSI are in an innocuous building in Arlington, Virginia, but the various “projects” are headquartered throughout the United States. these projects are each code named after smaller US cities.

Atlanta Project: The Atlanta Project is headquartered in Arlington and is composed mostly of field teams which investigate reports of superscience artifacts, strange creatures, and other “threats” around the world. These teams are led by an eclectic collection of scientists, adventurers, soldiers, and spies. Admiral Byrd takes a close interest in these teams and often tasks them himself.

Boston Project: Located in an underground facility on the grounds of the Goodyear Airship Factory in Huntingdon Beach, California and the nearby Muroc Army Air Field, this group is tasked with reverse engineering the flying saucer techology of the Atlanteans, as well as creating new and innovative aircraft for the military. They have close ties to the Hughes Corporation and Curtiss-Wright. The assistant director of Boston is Dr. Benjamin Leland.

Charlestown Project: Located in Baltimore, this group is tasked with pursuing the medical and biological research connected to the creatures and people of the Hollow Earth, as well as the Atlanean race and their human descendants.  The assistant director of Charlestown in Dr. Aaron Gould, a Spanish expatriate and a descendent of the Atlanteans.

Denver Project: Located in Brooklyn, this project is headed by Nikola Tesla and pursues research into high energy physics, electricity, and weapons research.

Easton Project: Tied to Boston Project is the rocketry program under the leadership of Robert Goddard. It is also based at Muroc Army Air Field in California.

 

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It’s been a very busy couple of months, but work on the sourcebook for 1930s pulp Istanbul continues. We’re about two-thirds of the way through writing, with layouts getting roughed out. Art orders for maps of the city and the Grand Bazaar are going out soon.

Right now, it’s a pretty vanilla tour guide to the city, but the pulpy bits are getting added soon including two adventure scenarios. The page count is anticipated to be about 80 — about the same size as our Queen of the Orient, and expect a similar price structure. There will be both a Fate and Ubiquity version and the planned release date should be August. Inshallah.

A little something from the ongoing Hollow Earth Exepdition game. The Ahnenerbe has had a bit of help reverse engineering a Vril flying saucer they captured in the Hollow Earth three years ago, and now it is harassing our party…

nazi_ufo_01Developed from a Vril flying saucer returned with the Deutschland mission, the Schwarze Sonne project reverse engineered the Vril technology using available technologies. The repulsor technology is a bit crude and is powered by a pair of Maybach V-12 engines. These flyer saucers are capable of carrying 12 men and have a minimal crew of two — a pilot and an engineer. The standard operating crew includes a second pilot, who also acts as a gunner, a radio and radar operator, and four gunners for the Solothurn turrets on the underside. It is armed with a turret topside carrying a pair of Spandau 7.92mm machine guns, and four turreted 20mm machine guns for ground assault.

SIZE: 8   DEF: 6   STR: 14   SPD: 200   CEIL: 20,000   RNG: 1000   HAN: 0   CREW: 8   PASS: 4 WEAPONRY:  dual Spandaus in turret — Dam: 5L   Rng: 250’   Cap: 250   Rate A   SPD: A; 4 Solothurn 20mm in turrets — Dam 6L   Rng: 500’   Cap: 100   Rate: A   SPD: A

The return of our Hollow Earth Expedition campaign included one of the players wanting to trade out his character, the French cat-burglar/actor for something new. He was leaning toward a character in the classy gentleman spy, John Steed vein but left it to me to build it.

Our adventure coming up was how there was a lost island, possibly a bit of the Hollow Earth that got “stuck” to the Surface World in the South China Sea. I figured we needed someone who was familiar with the lifeforms and might have a direct connection to the mission. Hence this character was born:

Aristotle Strange

Screen Shot 2019-03-20 at 20.45.07Ari Strange started his life as a philosopher and thinker in the ancient city of Molad, one of the apeman cities arrayed against the Emperor Mot. When the Interior World emerged in 1933, he was deposited in Hong Kong, where his ability to speak and reason earned him study by MI-13, the United Kingdom’s secret science intelligence agency. He was eventually recruited to aid the British with the leftover problems from the emergence of the “ghost world” and has become one of their most skilled, if least secret, agents in the East.

He is incredibly dapper, always well dressed in town, and he prefers a safari suit in the field. He rarely uses guns, preferring one of his custom-made gadget-laden umbrellas. His bowler hat is steel-lined so it can be used as a bludgeoning weapon or shield. He is frequently assigned to missions with two Special Branch officers who have been seconded to MI-13 — Sergeants Thicket and Tweed. Tweed acts as driver for the Bentley 6.5 litre “Green Train” car that MI-13 has issued to the large not-so-secret agent.

Archetype: Spy     Motivation: Knowledge     Nationality: British     Age: 40-45?

Place of Birth: Molad, the Interior World     Date of Birth: June or July, 1889

Ht: 5’11”     Wt: 370 lbs     Hair: Black     Eyes: Brown

ATTRIBUTES: Body: 3   Dexterity: 2   Strength: 4  Charisma: 2   Intelligence: 3   Willpower: 2

Secondary Attributes:  Size: 0   Move: 6   Perception: 5   Initiative: 5   Defense: 5   Stun: 3 Health: 5   Style 5

Resources & Talents: Animal Presence: Use Body for intimidation base, Natural Advantage: Climb (x2 move when climbing), Prehensile Feet, Rank 2: Special Officer, MI-13 (equiv. Lieutenant); Skill Mastery, Academics; Strong: +1 strength at creation

Flaws:  Code of Honor: 1 style pt. when he does the right thing; Curiosity: 1 style pt when it gets him into trouble, Obligation: MI-13, Weird Appearance: -2 social tests with new people.

Languages: Ophiri (native); Ancient Greek, Cantonese, English, Spanish

Skills: Academics 3/6, Athletics 2/ 6, Brawl 2/6, Bureaucracy 2/5, Firearms 1/3, Intimidation 2/5, Investigation 2/5, Larceny 1/3, Linguistics 3/6, Melee 1/5, Science (Biology) 1/4, Stealth 2/4, Survival 3/6

Weaponry: Sword Umbrella   DAM: 2L,  Attack Rating: 7L (Has a small whiskey flask in handle); Shotgun Umbrella (12 gauge): DAM: 4L, Attack Rating: 5L, Rng: 25’, Cap: 1, Rate: 1, Spd: S; Steel-Lined Bowler DAM: 1N, Attack Rating: 6N   Range (thrown): 20’ (Can be used as a shield for Armor 1)

Gadgets: Umbrella with gas spray: Range 10 (Test BODY 3 or fall unconscious for successes x minutes), Umbrella with camera (Can take up to 20 pictures (35mm cartridges), Smith Brothers wristwatch with compass, Belt with secret money pouch (5 gold sovereigns)

Note: I pulled the image off the interwebz at Traditional Games, but there was no citation for the artist who created it. No infringement is intended and as soon as I find a citation I’ll post it.