I’ve been looking at the times that I would use to travel through the stable warp corridors on the system map that we had generated for the House of Black Rogue Trader game (a copy is printed below for convenience).
Originally I had planned to make it so that each line on the map took 3 months, however looking through the Diaspora rules I decided to use the Time Track that was presented on page 10 of the book.
The time track runs something like this:
- A few seconds
- Half a minute
- A minute
- 3 minutes
- 15 minutes
- 30 minutes
- An hour
- 3 hours
- 12 hours
- A day/24 hours
- 3 days
- A week
- 3 weeks
- A month
- 3 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- A year
- 3 years
- 10 years
- 50 years
- +each step beyond this adds 50 years
The first thing that I wished to resolve was that several of the measures listed were slightly nebulous so I defined them further (changing ‘a lifetime’ for ’50 years’ for instance); I decided that the for a distance of a single line on the map the normal time taken would be 3 months, each additional line traveled would add one step on the time track (so a journey of 3 lines would take 6 months by default).
This time period can be modified by the ship’s navigator making a Fair Will roll on 4DF with each degree of success or failure adding or subtracting from the timescale as appropriate.
So if our ship was making a non-stop journey from Sycorax
to the Undred Undred Teef
(a journey of three lines on the map) then the standard distance would be 6 months; our Navigator York Benetec has a great (+4) Will score meaning that he already has 2 degrees of success before rolling the dice, lowering the time taken to 3 months before making the roll.
If York rolled +4 then this would give him a total of 6 degrees of success and lower the time taken to 3 days; however if he rolled a -4 this would give him a total of 2 degrees of failure, raising the time taken back to 6 months.
One of the sections of the Diaspora rules that interested me and that I was very keen to use was the system design rules; with one of the players running late we all sat down to generate the sector of space that would be our game setting.
After generating the system (itself quite a fun little exercise), I fired up my flowchart software, drew out a neater version of the map, dropped in a couple of additional systems that we had already mentioned in the game and neatened the whole thing up in photoshop.
I decided that the links between the systems as determined by the Diaspora system would quite adequately represent stable passages through the warp without any alteration of the rules, each line between the systems would take three months travel, however this could be modified (as per the “Handling time” section in the Diaspora rules) by a navigation roll made by the ships Navigator.
The systems we generated looked like this…
- Ariadne T -2, E +2, R 0
- Society equivalent to wild west
- Coppernicus T +4, E +1, R +1
- Rogue tech tradition
- Rumours of lost STC tech
- Catan T +2, E +3, R +2
- Grox exports
- Imperial agri-colony
- Centurion T -1, E +2, R-2
- Decusis T +3, E 0, R +2
- Asteroid field (this was actually defined by one of the players in the first Diaspora-rules session)
- Excelsior T -4, E -1, R 0
- Endeavour T +2, E 0, R -1
- Footfall T +2, E -3, R -2
- Gregori T -1, E +2, R -2
- Reclaimed from chaos
- Moderate inquisitorial presence
- Judicious T +3, E +1, R 0
- Heretical terrorists
- Medea T -1, E -1, R +2
- Meteoric warpstone/mutagen
- Malus T 0, E -2, R +1
- Ancient xenos remnants
- Omega T 0, E +1, R -1
- Port Wander T +3, E -1, R 0
- Bastion of the Imperium
- Sycorax T -4, E +1, R +3
- Ancient xenos remnants
- Temperance T 0, E +3, R -2
- Old terraforming equipment
- Odd cult
- Undred Undred Teef T +2, E +1, R -2
Changing the Rules
Having run nine sessions of the game one thing had become quite obvious to myself as the GM, and that was that, whilst we were very much enjoying the Warhammer 40K background (since most of the players had more than a passing familiarity with it) the actual rules system felt a little clunky and a lot of time was spent during a game session flipping through our (very)slowly expanding pool of rulebooks looking up various abilities and powers. My own preference has always been for games where the story is the main focus of the session and the rules almost fade into the background, supporting but not over-powering the game; slowly I began to consider the idea of keeping the game background but changing to rules to something a little more story based and streamlined.
I dug out my old printed copy of FUDGE, it was a system that i’d always liked the look of and it contained some very interesting notes on converting across elements from other systems; searching around on the internet lead me to discover the surprising number of RP based communities that had sprouted up on Google+ since the last time I had used it. One in particular caught my eye, a community based around FATE, an updated and expanded version of FUDGE, and this in turn lead to the discovery of Diaspora, a science-fiction template game for FATE that already covered most of the elements that I wanted for my game.
On the evening before the session I printed out some character sheets and did my best to create Diaspora versions of the characters that, whilst not precise replicas, maintained the essential nature of the characters…
- Lord Captain Black: A rich, socialite with a dark, haunted background and a soul touched by the warp.
- Navigator York Benetec: A physical strong and twisted mutant bearing the navigator gene.
- Chief Confessor Cornelius: A fiery priest, secure in his faith and wearing it like armour against the alien and the deviant.
- Enginseer Prime Pak: A techpriest steeped in the art of the Omnissiah and bearing many strange pieces of technology either incorporated into his body or buzzing around him.
…since the players were currently on Hiveworld Decusis I decided not to worry so much about the spaceships at this moment, the idea was to first try the rules in a test-lite session and see if the Diaspora rules looked promising and then, if so, continue to use them in future sessions.
Quickly listing equipment I halved the damage modifers and penetration values from the Rogue Trader equipment list and used them as weapon stats for the Diaspora rules, assigning them to three categories…
- Melee weapons
- Slug weapons
- Energy weapons
…the energy weapons were further divided into melee and ranged varieties.