Review: Starship Geomorphs

Robert Pearce‘s new Traveller suppliment Starship Geomorphs is a huge new resource for science-fiction gamers, filled with beautiful illustrations, hundreds of starship deckplan geomorphs, and most importantly, really good suggestions for using these modular maps in your home game. Designed to be used to quickly generate starship and spaceport maps, these geomorphs also provide inspiration when designing deck plans for new ships.


Representing three years of painstaking work, this beautiful 185 page book is a great resource for any science-fiction role-player, and he’s made it available as a free download! I recommend it highly to any sci-fi gamemaster, or anyone who wants to design starship interiors.

Included in the free guide are instructions for printing these maps out to use in your home game for both 15mm and 25mm scale miniatures.

This wonderful resource also includes maps for areas one doesn’t usually see in deckplans, like recreation areas, many different common areas, shopping areas, arboretums, viewing galleries, and even agricultural spaces. I will definitely be using these to build out starports and megaships in my Traveller game.

 


Posted in Editorial, Review, Science-Fiction, Traveller by with no comments yet.

Captain Liv & The Sable Tiger

Captain Liv is a rough-around-the-edges, lusty human woman with the hard-nosed independent attitude common to the free traders of the Skein Reach. She flies the Sable Tiger, a custom GM 210 that can cover three parsecs in a jump.

Canny, she knows when to hold ’em and when to fold, when to run, and when to fight. First Mate “Seargent Mac” is a humorless retired Imperial Space Marine, who lost a leg in a crusade against the lizard people of Marzox 6b and now mostly gets around with the help of a grav belt. Jack is friendly and sociable, knows the basics of all of the Sable Tiger’s systems, and fills in wherever needed. They are often on the lookout for good crew, whether it is stewards to attend to their passengers, gunners to operate the turrets, engineers, sensor operators, or even some new lover picked up in starport, whisked off to the stars.

Cpn. Liv was born Lavinia Thunxzon on Johnston’s World, and got her start flying with her father on his free trader the Tortise, running the planet’s agricultural goods to Aroura Station. After seven years the Tortise was shot down and plundered in the Archeron system. Her father was killed, she was badly injured, and the remains of the Tortise were scrapped by the pirate flotilla.

Pressed into service, Liv proved herself a capable crewmember who was good with a blade if need be. The next eleven years were spent in incredible adventures in space, living outside the law, warring with other gangs and pirates, gaining friends and killing enemies, until she gained the trust and friendship of Grgrz, the massive, ruthless reptilian pirate admiral leading the underground resistance to the Empire’s Crusade on Marzox. She was given Captaincy of the Sable Tiger to run supplies past the Imperial blockades, and was there at Marzox 6b when the Imperial Bombardment Fleet arrived and the Crusade was ushered to a bloody victory on a scorched planet. The resistance in tatters, Cpn. Liv fled in the Sable Tiger rimward, back to the Skein Reach.

Since then the Sable Tiger has been on the run in the Skein Reach, laying low, running the old agricultural cargo run from Jhonston’s World to Aroura Station, and doing jobs in other remote destinations in the Reach.

Cpn. Liv

Merchant (Free Trader) rank 1
Rogue (Pirate) rank 1
Human Female, age 34

CHARACTERISTICS
STR 6
DEX 11 (+1)
END 6
INT 8
EDU 5 (-1)
SOC 3 (-1)

SKILLS
Astrogation 1
Broker 0
Carouse 0
Electronics 0
Gun Combat (Energy) 1
Gunner (Turret) 1
Mechanic 0
Melee (Blade) 2
Persuade 0
Pilot (Spacecraft) 2
Stealth 1
Steward 0
Streetwise 1
Tactics (Military) 1
Vacc Suit 2

EQUIPMENT
Saber (3D damage)
Laser Carbine (4D damage)
Hostile Environment Vacc Suit (+12 Protection)

Sable Tiger (customized GM-210)

Built on a powerful Galactic Monopoly modular chassis, this sleek ship is packed to the gills with speed. Wrapped in a custom superdense armored hull, the Sable Tiger has the maneuverability and toughness to blast past blockades, returning fire along the way.

Hull 200 ton (Standard, Partially Streamlined – 80 Hull Points)
Armor 4 (Bonded Superdense – 6.4 tons)
Jump 2 parsecs (10 tons)
Thrust 6G (12 tons)
Power 210 (TL 12 – 14 tons – Basic Systems 40, M Drive 120, Jump Drive 40, Sensors 2, Weapons 12)

Fuel 70.6 tons  (uses 20 tons per parsec jumped)
Fuel Scoop
Fuel Processor (1 ton – processes 20 tons / day)

Bridge (3 tons)
Computer 15
Sensors – Military Grade (2 tons – power 4) – Radar, Lidar, Jammers

Armaments – 2 x double turrets (2 tons) with:
– beam laser (power 4), sandcaster
– pulse laser (power 4), pulse laser (power 4)

Staterooms 6 (24 tons)
Common Area (5 tons)

Cargo Capacity – 50 tons

 

Cpn Liv and the Sable Tiger in your Game

Cpn. Liv and the Sable Tiger could be friends, enemies, contacts, allies, or anything else to the players in your Traveller game. Perhaps the Sable Tiger needs crew for some desperate and audacious job? Or they’ve been hired to follow the players and collect a bounty? Or they swoop in to help in response to the player’s distress call? Or they’re rivals, after the same thing as the players?

About Cpn. Liv

I whipped up these characters when the Travellers in my Monday game got rescued from Archeron 4, where they had become stranded. On the spot I came up with Cpn. Liv of the Sabre Tiger, Sgt. Mac, and Jack, her crew. The above stats were generated with the new version of Traveller (Mongoose v2). 

Original stats from my campaign notes:

Captain Liv – Lavinia Thunson, captain of the Sabre Tiger (fast trader), St 8, Dx 9, En 6, In 8, Ed 6, So 3.

Sabre Tiger crew – Mac (ex imperial trooper), Jack (the friendly one), Zack (mechanic), Hailey (Mechanic), and Cookie (steward)


Posted in Character, Science-Fiction, Starship, Traveller by with no comments yet.

Monastery of the Deep

Upon the black sand shores of far north-eastern Findor, a few miles up the road from an isolated fishing village, there is a three-story monastery of basalt stones. Beside it is a shrine to no named god, built beneath the shelter of the upturned prow of a wrecked sailing ship. The monks there will tell visitors that the monastery was founded by a sailor who washed ashore after a great storm, and who took shelter and a vow of silence beneath the wreckage of the ship. He built gardens and started building the monastery tower, and others joined him there in a peaceful life of contemplation of the dark ocean and the cold wind.

Now the monastery is well established, with a well, two fishing boats, an apiary and meadery, numerous chickens, and flocks of sheep and goats. Three monks oversee things, Brother Trausti, a mute human who teaches unarmed combat* and stonework, Brother Fardinb, a friendly half-elf who oversees the work of the younger monks on the monastery’s farms, and Sister Gretta, a studious hill gnome who oversees the library that takes up the top floor of the monastery tower.

Unknown to all of the residents the monastery has a magical connection to the astral plane. The sailor who founded the monastery had a vision of the Sea of Stars when he was dying of drowning, and meditated on it until he discovered how to travel there in his mind. His frequent psychic travels formed a weak connection between the training room that makes up the first floor of the monastery and the astral plane, and as a result planar travel and communication with the outer realms is slightly easier in the first floor of the monastery.

Through his meditation, and his time carving the stone of the training room, Trausti has begun to receive visions from the deep astral, as have the rest of the monks in the monastery. These visions, like those received by others scattered around the world, relate to the impending apocalypse of the Summer Frost, and are the result of White Eye’s secret spell to locate the pieces of the long lost Ring of Runes. With it in his grasp and reforged, White Eye intends to use its world-altering power to encase the world in eternal ice.

~

 

*Because one player wanted to play a monk in my Monday D&D game, I came up with this place on the fly during Session Zero. It turned out to be a great place to tie the plot threads into since we decided the warlock PC would also come from the same place. Good brainstorming in Session Zero really bore some great fruit, in terms of plot.


Posted in Location, Lore / Worldbuilding by with no comments yet.

Barkle the Cruel

A notorious figure in the eastern Pirate Kingdoms, Barkle is a greedy, heartless wizard. He is known to recruit minions who rob the good, honest villagers and travelers on the lonely road between Vistola and the Monastery of the Deep.

Barkle
medium human male, chaotic evil
Wizard (Urchin) Level 7

AC 12
HP 29
Speed 30 ft.

STR 9 (-1)
DEX 14 (+2)
CON 11
INT 18 (+4)
WIS 16 (+3)
CHA 16 (+3)

Saving Throws Intelligence, Wisdom
Skills Arcana, Insight, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Disguise Kit, Thieve’s Tools
Senses
Languages common, draconic, goblin
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)

Spellcasting. Bargle is a 7th level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 15, +7 to hit with spell attacks). Bargle has the following wizard spells prepared:

Cantrips (at will):
1st level (4 slots): shield, magic missile, charm person, sleep
2st level (3 slots): invisibility, misty step, ray of enfeeblement
3st level (3 slots): fireball, counter spell, fly
4th level (1 slots): wall of fire

ACTIONS

Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage.


Posted in 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, Character by with no comments yet.

Mind Flayer Lair

I came up with this dungeon when my players wandered into hex C2-20 in the classic Dungeons & Dragons adventure Descent Into the Depths of the Earth, a great old adventure which encourages DMs to fill inthe blank encounter areas with dungeons of one’s own design.

One of the players was playing a Warlock with the Far Ones pact, and I wanted to introduce a re-occurring Mind Flayer antagonist who would be a contact for the Warlock for their pact. The result was a nasty little dungeon filled with traps and horrors. When the Mind Flayer within contacted the warlock telepathically to offer magical secrets the Player Characters followed them right in.

mind flayer lair

The evil architects of this stronghold forced their slaves to build it as a spiraling trap, with a raised, hidden central area from which they could use their psychic powers on hapless intruders. As their prey make their way through the outer areas, encountering the mind-controlled slaves who dwell there, the Mind Flayers will lurk, peering through hidden peep-holes to use mind blasts and charm powers on their victims. If discovered, the Mind Flayers will retreat up 20 foot vertical shafts to the central passages and behind further secret doors.


Posted in 1st edition D&D, 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, Adventure, Fantasy, Location, Lore / Worldbuilding, rules agnostic, Trap and tagged by with no comments yet.

My Teenage Wasteland

Greetings true believers! I’m excited to announce that I’ll be speaking on a panel at #RTX this year, at 3:30 Saturday August 4th in the Hilton Grand Ballroom!

Come ask me all of the questions about writing #ClassOf198x !

Come see Brett and the boys (presumably)!

Hell, Geoff might even show up? I honestly have no idea!

https://roosterteeth.com/post/51817633


Posted in announcement, convention, Uncategorized by with 2 comments.

Class of 198X Season Two

In case you missed it, the second season of our actual-play Dungeons & Dragons show Class of 198X is available here!

See the comedians of Cow Chop play teenagers from the 1980’s and bumble their way through time and space in this incredible adventure, fighting adversaries (and each other) every step of the way.

If you’d like to play the adventure from season one of the show, it’s right here!


Posted in 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, announcement, D20 Modern, Fantasy, Science-Fiction and tagged by with no comments yet.

Space Opera – Season 3 – Deepest Darkness

Having crossed the length and breadth of the Skein Reach

nurtured a nascent Droid Uprising

faced off against, and robbed

the Imperium, and the Ragranok Krew

made enemies innumerable

and killed many

and in the process saved many from death and from fates worse than death

the motley crew of the starship CALAMITY

navigate ever coreward

following the impulses of a strange cyber-brain

and a pieced-together map from a lost star empire

past dead star after dead star

attended by tiny chunks of rock

(each gathering sufficient hydrogen from the bright strands of bright, colorful nebulae to allow refueling)

find

nestled in the glare of a deadly pulsar

a blank globe

of deepest darkness.

 


Posted in Lore / Worldbuilding, Science-Fiction, Traveller, Uncategorized and tagged , , by with no comments yet.

The Vampires of Grimsport

800th POST!

After 12 years and 799 articles detailing new magic items, monsters, spells, characters, encounters, locations, and adventures, Unicorn Rampant Publishing and Claw Claw Bite Magazine are thrilled to present you with this free adventure for Dungeons & Dragons or other fantasy role-playing games.

Thanks for coming with us on this amazing journey of the imagination, and look for this and so much more in the next issue of Claw Claw Bite!

Grimsport

In the land of Findor, where the Hadevar River meets the Soral Sea, the gray city of Grimsport broods. Dark stone buildings with slate roofs cluster around the main square, a short walk up the cobblestone road from the docks. There are found the homes of the ruling Captains’ families. Stone walls separate the inner city from the wooden homes of the tradespeople and serfs. Farms dot the banks of the river further inland.

It is from this city that the region gets it’s moniker “The Pirate Kingdoms.” Grimsport is the largest city in the region and the closest thing to a capital, and the primary source of the raiders that plague the Soral Sea. But in Findor no one rules an area larger than a stronghold or city, save the goblins of the northern wastes.

City of Grimsport

The Town of Grimsport

The boat-owning worthies who make their homes in the city center form the Captains’ Council, the closest thing to a government in this violent port town. They own most of the farmland and assign it to serfs. They serve as the bankers and trade in many goods. Some families have small fleets. Others have but one ship to their names.

The most important Capitans’ families are as follows:

  • VonWaldemar – The wealthiest and oldest of the families, with the largest home on the central square. Said to be the descendants of some of the first humans to come to this wild, cold land many generations ago. Old man VonWlademar hasn’t been seen in public in years, and people sometimes whisper about pale, ghostly figures peering out of the heavily curtained mansion windows at night.
  • Thyra Askrdottir – Daughter of Askr Vulfethson, Thyra’s exploits as captain of her father’s ship have earned her a reputation as a skilled and ruthless pirate.
  • Addis Rígson – Addis owns two ships, which are captained by his two eldest sons Victor and Ricus. His youngest son Sigurd wanders the land seeking his fortune and could be a NPC or hierling met here or elsewhere.
  • Soljev – Captain Soljev sails the Drunken Siren.
  • Ragnhild – Captain of the Kraken’s Maw and the Burning Spear.
  • Kromulf – The new captain of the Black Hydra, an infamous pirate ship that Kromulf wrested from it’s previous captain.
  • Gunnar Smithson – Owns a small fleet of fishing vessels, sailed by his extended family, and the ship Silver Wave.
  • Malte One-Hand – An old captain, now mostly retired due to his ship being in poor repair.
  • Gull Erland – His ship is in drydock for repairs which he cannot afford.
  • Eberhard the Bloody – Has one small ship and a reputation as a unpredictable and violent man.
  • Bjarke Littlebear – Sails a large fishing boat with his five sons.

Locations

  • The Wailing Wench – This rowdy tavern sits on the road between the main square and the docks, and is always full of sailors. Thieving, fighting, kidnapping and every other type of crime are regular occurrences here. A fenced pen and stables are attached to the back for travelers.
  • Church of the Sky Father and Sea Mother – attended by a priest and priestess
  • Smithy – Worked by a smith and a team of apprentices and journeymen, with a good assortment of tools, weapons, and armor, used or ready-made.
  • Shipwright – Currently building a 20 foot wooden currach.
  • Tradespeople
  • Farms
  • Hanging Tree & Godswood
  • Ruined Watchtower – built long ago by the Captain’s council, no repairs have ever been made to the watchtower. Over the decades it has fallen into ruin, and the whole north wall of the two-story tower has collapsed. None know about the small cache of treasure buried there.

Adventures and Encounters in Grimsport

  • Thieves in the Swamps – A band of thieves operates out of the swamps to the west. They secretly use Malte One-Hand’s ship as storage for their stolen goods.
  • Pressed into Service – Press gangs round up drunks and force them to crew the captains’ ships. While the Player Characters are crewing the ship any sort of mishap or adventure could befall them. The ship could sink in bad weather, throwing the heroes upon some unknown shore. Perhaps they are forced to scout a fortress the Captain wishes to raid, or perhaps the PCs are forced to be the first wave of the attack. The Lilend at the Stormking Rocks might lure them to her isle and send them after the Rune of Life in the shadowlands at the edge of the land of the dead.
  • Pickpockets and Muggers – The rough rogues of Grimsport will take any opportunity to enrich themselves if they see people not paying attention to their purses, or who they think are weak enough to rob (preferably one character who they follow until they are outnumber their victim).
  • Dueling in the Streets – Disputes in Grimsport are settled personally, and duels are a common form of conflict resolution, weather to first blood or to the death. In such a place the Player Characters could easily become embroiled in a dangerous situation. Mistaken identity, false accusations, or just disrespecting someone or being in the wrong place at the wrong time could result in a duel.
  • Escaped Slaves – Some slaves captured in a raid have escaped and a reward is offered for their return.
  • Beggars – Old crippled fisherman and seamen beg for alms in the square and by the docks.
  • Grave Robbers – Graves dug on the hill behind the church are always found empty a week or so after burying. No one in town really seems to care, as this has been going on for as long as anyone can remember. Under cover of night, the ghouls who crew the VonWaldemar’s ships and attend them in their mansion are digging up the graves to feast upon the rotten bodies. Investigation after the next burial (a common occurrence) will lead the Player Characters to the basement door of the VonWaldemar mansion.
  • Land Dispute – One of the Captains wants some land currently owned by another Captain and the Player Characters are asked to undertake some skulduggery. Burn the crops, poison the well, kill the farmers, or whatever is needed to get the current tenants off and new tenants on.
  • Missing Servant Girls – Player characters who spend much time in town will hear that servant girls sometimes go missing. Investigation leads to the ghouls in the basement of the Von Waldemar mansion (see map).

VonWaldemar Mansion Areas

  • The stone exterior, high windows, and peaked slate roofs of this mansion site like a dark and gothic castle on the town square. A fence surrounds the front and sides of the windowless bottom floor, and a stair in the back leads down to the basement entrance. The front door will not be answered unless it is being battered down, and then by ghoul butlers and Matrok, an armored wight who will demand to know what business interrupts the VonWaldemar’s rest.
  • The ground floor has several mostly-empty halls, a decorative armory, and a small library of dusty common books. An undead shadow, the restless spirit of one of the long-dead Von Waldemars, haunts these halls and will warn Gunnar of any intruders.
  • The basements are overseen by a ghoul named Harod and a flesh golem doorman named Pip. Peasant servants prepare food while ghoul footmen serve the vampires upstairs. The locked vault contains a large amount of plateware, iron ingots, and other loot pillaged from around the Soral Sea, along with several chests of gold, silver and copper coins, and two empty caskets where the vampires will flee if defeated.
  • The sub-basement holds cells, a half-flooded chamber where corpses float in briny water, and their horrible feeding area. VonWaldemar, the vampire master of the house, is sometimes found here feeding with the ghouls among the cracked bones of countless people. A secret passage leads to a small, rough-hewn passage which leads to the town well, and is guarded by a gargoyle.
  • The VonWaldemar family quarters are upstairs, as are the quarters of their wight guards and ghoul servants. Gunnar VonWaldemar and his daughter Helde are centuries-old vampires, and the only remaining members of the family. They are attended by several ghoul servants. Their quarters contain much finery, and any victims that they are feeding from. The windows in the vampires’ quarters have the shutters nailed closed and reinforced so that no sunlight can enter. Gunnar is a 7th level wizard, and his chambers contain his spellbook, many magic scrolls, and correspondence with someone who signs with a unique snowflake-like rune (the evil lich White Eye), and who has asked Gunnar to use an enclosed scroll of glacial onslaught to draw the oncoming unnatural summer ice south, down the river. If necessary, the VonWaldemar vampires will become bats or rats and use the ratholes, which crisscross the entire mansion with a network of rat-tunnels, to escape.

 

VonWaldemar Mansion

VonWaldemar Mansion

 

VonWaldemar Mansion Sub-Basement

 

 

Background image by Nikolai Rerikh, Guests from Overseas, 1901, Tretyakov Gallery,  Moscow (public domain)

 

 

 


Posted in 1st edition D&D, 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons / d20 fantasy / Pathfinder, 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons, 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, Adventure, Fantasy, Location, rules agnostic by with no comments yet.

Code of the Zone Ghouls

A scout wandering the wastes overheard a group of Zone Ghouls reciting the following creed:

Here in the Zone
We travel at night
We avoid the light
We leave no trace
We have no face
We are not here
We are everywhere
Do as you will
Keep what you kill

 


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