Space colonies

Settlements in Rogue Trader
Recently Conny Delshagen posted on the Google+ Traveller community about whether anyone had successfully used the World Tamer’s Handbook colonisation rules for Traveller: the New Era; although I don’t really play Traveller at the moment i’m always looking for science-fiction ideas that can be incorporated into my FATE-based WH40K Rogue Trader campaign ‘The House of Black’ which (as of the time of writing) is still running on a monthly basis. Reading the blurb associated with the World Tamer’s Handbook on RpgGeek.com it seemed to focus around star system generation and rules for colonisation; although i’m fairly happy with the Diaspora adapted rules for system generation that I have, setting up colonies and such like was not something that I had covered in much detail. I had previously looked briefly at the colony system presented in Fantasy Flight Games ‘Stars of Iniquity’ supplement but, whilst the system seemed very comprehesive, it was extremely detail orientated and (I believed) too complex to be a worthwhile addition to my RT game; I had switched to FATE to reduce the clunkiness of the rules, so adding in a massively detailed sub-system seemed counter productive.
It occurred to me that perhaps this would be a good place to use the Fate Fractal: for those not familiar with the Fate Fractal (or the Bronze Rule as it is also called in the FATE core rulebook) it states:
“In Fate, you can treat anything in the game world like itโ€™s a character. Anything can have aspects, skills, stunts, stress tracks, and consequences if you need it to.”
I had already used the Fractal to a certain extent when defining my rules for space combat (see http://wh40krpg.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/testing-proposed-narrative-space-combat.html for my most recent post regarding narrative space combat) with the players ship treated as a character (having skills, aspects, stunts, stress tracks and consequences).
What sort of stats would a space colony have?
Taking a tip from my work on space ships I decided that colonies would have five Aspects in order to represent what the colony specialised in an potentially one or two Stunts, the colony would also receive 2 stress boxes and 3 consequences boxes (with the standard 2, 4 and 6 values) in the same way as a character (although additional Stunts could be taken to increase the number of stress boxes).
Some examples of Aspects might be:
  • Primitive
  • High-tech
  • Abundance of natural resources
  • Theocratic government
  • Wise sages

I envisioned that the High Concept Aspect would represent the dominant form of government on the colony and that the Trouble Aspect would represent some sort of challenge or impending danger the colony.
What benefits would players get from visiting a space colony?
In order to make it worthwhile instituting rules for space colonies (although these rules could also be used for space stations and other sorts of bases) it would be necessary to provide some story reason for the player characters to visit them; the most obvious reason for this is to purchase equipment or make repairs to ships/vehicles, etc.
Using the simple model above it would be simplicity itself to make the Aspects of the station affect what objects the PCs can get hold of, they would be able to invoke the colony’s Aspects as they would any other Aspect to improve Resources rolls along with any other actions as appropriate whilst on the space station; for example, if the players are getting a ship repaired at an orbital facility with the Aspect ‘Adeptus Mechanicus workshop’ then they could invoke this to get a +2 to the repair roll. However the reverse is also true that Aspects could be invoked against the players either by the GM or other players; for example if a character tries to get hold of a stub gun in a colony with the Aspect ‘Primitive’ then the GM could invoke this to apply a -2 penalty to their Resources roll.
Colony Maintenance
In any session where a particular colony is featured the GM should roll 4DF and note the resultant number (Aspects may be invoked on this roll as normal), if the result is a minus figure then the colony has suffered some sort of stress and the negative shift should be marked on the stress boxes/consequence tracker as usual (with any consequences reflecting the slow deterioration of the colony, for example: civil unrest).
If the result is a positive then the colony uses the positive shift to first recover from any stress or consequences it has sustained, if there is any positive shift left after this then add an additional stress box to the colony’s total to represent the colony growing.
Setting up a Colony
One of the great things about Rogue Trader is that the player characters are (unlike the majority of humans in the WH40K universe) powerful people with spaceships at their disposal and commanding vast resources; this means that feasibly the player characters may be instrumental in setting up new colonies and bases, any system that I was going to use would need to represent this possibility.
It is my current idea that, when initially set up a colony has only a single Aspect (which should reflect the colony’s initial challenges, no stunts, a single stress box and no consequences boxes); each session after a colony has set up until it has reached the standard beginning colony statistics it should make a maintenance roll (as detailed above), when the colony reaches a total of 2 stress boxes due to growth then it gains the consequence tracker and additional Aspects/Stunts as per a standard beginning colony.
These are just a few ideas at the moment and will no doubt see further development, however, i’d be interested in people’s thoughts/comments.

Change of address for Rogue Trader hack

Since most of my other FATE stuff is handled via Google, you can now find my FATE Rogue Trader hack at the following Google Drive address:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B3N7nFBlEi_7VXJBdUlNLXp3UFk/edit?usp=sharing

The old link will still work until I get round to re-organising my Dropbox account at which point it will no longer function.

More stuff added to Warhammer 40K FATE hack

Added some additional stuff to the my Warhammer 40K FATE hack and have set up bookmarks to aid navigation from the contents page…

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByVpAo4rxDGuTTNnVW5Sb0hJZEU/view?usp=sharing

FATE warhammer 40K hack – complete

Well it’s taken a fair few hours but i’ve got my FATE Warhammer 40,000 Hack to a completed state where i’m pretty much happy with it; there are a few bits and pieces that could be fiddled with and I expect that i’ll make minor tweaks and changes to it, but it’s pretty much done.

Hope it’s useful to people who want to run 40K games using the FATE rules system ๐Ÿ™‚

Link to file

FATE warhammer 40K hack WIP

At the moment in-between re-organising my notes for my FATE powered Rogue Trader campaign i’ve also, on and off, been working on assembling the collection of rules and hacks that I use into something vaguely resembling an organised document so that I can have all of the information in one place and make it available to other people.

Currently the hack focuses on the most pressing issues in my own game:

  • Purchasing items.
  • Space combat.
  • Travel through the warp.

    I plan to add to the hack in the future as I go along, eventually making it into a useful reference for people who want to play 40K RPGs using the FATE rules system.
    The current hack is available here.

    Planet and NPC sheets

    Having created my system sheets to record information in my game, ran a short session yesterday that seemed to go fairly well (will be posting a write-up once i’ve had chance to listen to the session recording); i’ve now had time to create my planet and NPC worksheets.

    You can find links to them below:

    Format of Information

    So last night I sat down, having already done most of the system generation in the FFG “Stars of Iniquity” rulebook and with my notes in hand ready to write them up in a more formal fashion so that I could put them in the box file that is going to be housing all of my session notes henceforth; some sort of standard layout would make it easier to record information, so I eventually decided that I would need the following sheets.

    • A star system sheet – this would contain details of features in the system, along with basic details of any threats and planets.
    • A planet sheet – this would contain detailed information on the various planets (plus any moons orbiting them), resources and territories to be found there and basic information about what civilisations could be found on them (if any).
    • An NPC sheet – this would hold detailed information on an NPC, including their stats, there homeworld and any forces under their command, it would also contain details about their personality, like and dislikes.
    After a few minutes of tinkering I had a suitable star system sheet prepared, you can find a version of it here.
    A couple of hours later i’d detailed the Ariadne, Catan, Coppernicus, Decusis, Endeavour and Footfall systems using the sheet that I had designed; a filled in version of the sheet for the Catan system can be found here.
    I’m pretty happy with the systems at the moment, i’m hoping to get the rest of them written up over the weekend and make any final tweaks, alterations that I think the game calls for.

    Stars of Inequity

    Okay, so tonight i’m going to be putting down on paper as many details as I can for the main NPCs of my game; inspired by a number of youtube videos/channels that I have seen on the subject (including woodwwad‘s channel and others) and the free-flowing explorative nature of the Rogue Trader game I have decided to detail out as many of the core systems (the basics of which were already generated as described in my post on system design using the Disapora rules) in the sector of space where our game takes place as possible.

    Some of the planets in the system have already been detailed (see my Hiveworld Scelus Prime and Catan II posts earlier in the blog) but this still leaves vast swathes of the gaming area either very loosely defined or not at all; recently reading Fantasy Flight Games Stars of Inequity book for the Rogue Trader system has spurred me into wanting to define these areas in more detail since it provides detailed systems for using this that will allow me to create worlds and detail the star systems more closely (although i’m sure that I will tweak them to fit the tone and established “facts” of the campaign). The charts in the book are largely system independent or can be used quite easily with a few little alterations, so that it won’t take a great deal of struggle to port these details over to the FATEcore rules system that we are currently using in the game.

    One thing that I have also gained from watching woodwwad‘s youtube channel is an appreciation of the fact that, paradoxically, in order for the game to give the players a sense of freedom and the ability to explore as their whims dictate, it is very much necessary for a gamesmaster to have put a lot of work in detailing the sort of people and societies that they are likely to meet, in order to convincingly and consistently portray these non-player characters in the game. Whilst I have been enjoying the game tremendously and the players seem to be doing likewise, most of the action has, at the moment focussed around a couple of key areas, not really capturing the exploring, go anyway, feel of default Rogue Trader; my plan to help deal with this is to detail as many of the key-NPCs that the players are going to meet as possible, providing them with character sheets, backgrounds and goals (a lot of this work has already been done on key npcs already but i’m planning to standardise my NPC information).

    Having located at home a large box folder my plan is to generate (or note down) the following:

    • Character sheets & backgrounds for the named NPCs encountered so far
      • These will also contain details of the NPC goals plus any fleets or forces that they command along with their strengths and weaknesses.
    • A one page write-up for each system containing details on the planets and any other astronomical anomalies in the star system.
      • Currently I am also considering adding some areas of unexplored or wild space to the map where there are no established warp routes but that players can explore if they wish, there would be a small chance of the players encountering a habitable system (that would then be randomly generated).
      • This does pose the issue of how to prepare for these random systems, however, no more than one is likely to be explored per session so it would be easy to prepare a number of NPCs that could be bought in when an appropriate star system was discovered.
    • A one page write-up for each planet of interest containing details of the prevalent societies or main dangers and encounters likely on those planets.
    Next session I intend to begin with the Eldar envoy Da Duith Iath giving a small briefing containing the details that his race are willing to share about the ancient enemy that has returned, then I intend to pretty much hand the session over to the players and let them do what they want; with all of the NPC and star system/planet information that I have generated, it should be easy for me to respond to whatever they want to do.