The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

FireFly update

| September 30, 2005

It looks like tentatively Sunday at 1PM at Millbury.

Does this fit with folks?

Should we just meet there, or meet someplace closer (my house? Burrillville middle school?) and carpool from there?


| September 27, 2005

Liz and I are probably going to catch a matinee of Serenity this weekend.

Any of you hooligans want to come with / meet us there?

We have no firm plans, right now; I'm just throwing it out to gauge interest.


| September 27, 2005

And other impressions….

Old rule: If you are hit in ranged or melee combat, you need to test for knockdown by making a Body test. For ranged attacks, the TN is 1/2 the power of the attack, rounded down. For melee attacks, the TN is the opponent’s strength. The number of successes determines the result. 0 Successes = fall down prone. If you roll successes greater than 0 but less than your wound level, you take a step or two back. New rule: If you take damage geater than or equal to your Body or 10 boxes (whichever comes first), you are knocked down. Now, tell me that isn’t better. – There are rules for suppressing fire. – Shotguns are longarms (couldn’t remember what skill they were classed under). – The “chunky salsa effect” (blast in a confined space) is still in there, and the example character’s name is Ortega. – Melee attacks – Defender can choose to parry, block, or dodge. What you can do is limited by your skills and whether you are armed. – You can do a pile of things with called shot, including ~ Bypass body armor. ~ Target a vital area (this is done very fluidly and well) ~ Knock something out of the opponent’s grasp ~ Other things as allowed by GM. – You get attacks of opportunity (called Interception) if someone tries to run by you or leave combat. – There are rules for subduing combat. Also, an observation: This new system (fixed TN) is much easier to have the players make “secret” tests for the GM. See, I’m in the habit of saying to the group “Make an XXX test”. With D20, this works well – they just tell me the score. With SR3, it was a pain, because with the variable TN, I needed to get all the numbers of the rolls to determine successes without letting them know what I was testing for. Here, since the number of hits determines success, the players can just read me that one number, and it gives nothing away. Oh, and to disguise whether this is a real roll or not, I often have the players roll at random, or roll dice myself. So, don’t think that just because I have you roll that there is anything to find. (It’s amusing to see a group spend half an hour of game time looking for something that isn’t there just because I had them make a “GM Paranoia” roll when they entered the room).

Read more

| September 25, 2005

Character Creation – There are 16 sample characters for people to steal if they don’t want to make their own. – For those not familiar with the races: ~ Humans are, well, humans. ~ Elves and orks are height/weight close to humans, with some minor changes. ~ Dwarves and trolls are farther from the humans, with some more major differences. – Build system is done via points; you start with 400BP. – Attributes all start at 1. It costs 10 BP per Physical/Mental Attribute for each up until Max – 1. To go from Max – 1 to Max costs 25BP. – You may not spend more than 200BP on Physical/Mental attributes. – Only one attribute can be at racial max at start. – Edge (basically, “luck”), increases like the other attributes. – Essence (a measure of how whole your body is) starts @ 6 – Magic (for mages) and Resonance (for technomancers). You need to take the appropriate Quality first, which gives you this at 1, and then is raised just like the other attributes. – Initiative = Reaction + Intuition (oh, Quickness was split into Reaction and Intuition, by the looks at it) – Skills are bought at 4BP per point. – Max starting is one skill at 6 or 2 at 5. The rest must be 4 or less. – Skill group – you can buy a group of skills at 10BP per level. Max rating at start is 4. (Yes, it is cheaper than buying them individually.) – Specializations are 2BP, you can only buy one per skill, and you can’t get specializations for a group. – There are still Active, Knowledge, and Language skills. Knowledge and Language skills are as open ended as they used to be. – Knowledge skill starting points are (Logic + Intuition) * 3, and you use these to buy knowledge skills. You can spend more BP to add them at 2 BP per point. Specializations for Knowledge skills are 1 BP per specialization. – Language skills: You get 1 native language for free. You can buy additional ones for the point values just like Knowledge skills, and the specializations are called “lingos”. – Money: 1 BP per 5,000Y up to 250,000Y. – Starting gear is limited by rating (Combat – Roll Initiative. Initiative score = Initiative Attribute + # of hits on Initiative Attribute test. Damage still modifies this. – Extra free actions can be taken in place of a simple action. – All combat is handled the same way, be it melee, ranged, astral or cyber. It is an opposed test between attacker and defender. – If the attacker scores more hits than the defender, the attack hits . If not, it misses. If success, we note the net hits. – Net hits get added to base Damage of weapons. More hits, more damage. This gives the modified damage value. – AP value of the weapon is applied to the target’s armor, giving the modifed armor value. – If the attack causes physical damage, compare modifed DV to modivied AV. If DV So far, it seems less complex than SR3, but more complex than D20. It nicely handles the annoyance of the following: Alice shoots Bob. Bob is wearing body armor. Alice misses Bob, but would not have if Bob hadn’t been wearing armor. Bob should at least take some type of damage, since it hit the armor, but this isn’t really dealt with in the D20 system. It’s at least handled in this system. All in all, I’m looking forward to running games with this system. I just need a GM screen, and lacking one need to make up a pile of crib sheets. If I make them up, I’ll probably post them as PDFs.

SR4 core concepts

| September 24, 2005

Read another 20 pages.

Tests: + Basic: – Roll # of dice = Skill Rating + Linked Attribute Rating +/- Situational Modifiers + Attribute Only: – Roll # of dice = Applicable Attribute 1 + Applicable Attribute 2. Presumably, modifiers apply, though this is not stated. + Hits: – Every 5 you get on the roll is termed a “hit”. + Successes: – If you get the requisite number of hits, you get a success. 1 = Easy, 2 = Average, 3 = Hard, 4 = Extremely Hard. + Defaulting (no skill to use) – Roll linked attribute dice – 1 and test as normal. + Net hits = Number of hits by which you exceed the threshold. + Glitch/Critical Glitch/Critical Success – If half the dice come up 1’s, you glitch (something minor bad happens) – If half the dice come up 1’s and you fail, you critical glitch (something major bad happens) – If you get more than 4 net hits, you get a critical success. (something good happens) + Opposed test: – Test as appropriate. Your hits vs. their hits. Higher number of hits wins. – In a group of NPC’s, take the person with the best stats, use their numbers for the number of dice, then add one die per other NPC (max 5). + Extended test: – Has a threshold and a base time. Keep testing until you hit the threshold. The time it takes is the number of times you had to roll multiplied by the base time. There are other rules for rushing it, and such, but they’re not important right now. + Combat (Intro) – Initiative Score determines order in combat. – Combat turn is 3 seconds. – Multiple initiative passes per combat turn. – Everyone acts during the first pass. – Faster characters can act again in subsequent passes. – On each action, you can do one Complex action or two Simple Actions. You can also do a Free Action in addition to one of those others. – You may delay an action until a later time. – If you delay into the next initiative pass, you get to go whenever you want, but lose the action you would get in that pass. + Skills (intro) and such – Skill specializations grant +2 dice (ex. – you are especially good with some specific subset of a weapon class) – Skill groups are sets of related skills purchased and upgraded as a block. – Positive and Negative Qualities (aka Feats and Hinderances, Edges and Flaws) are in here. – Jumping around, heal is still as limited in SR3 (can only be used once on a given set of injuries). It will be house ruled to not suck (can be used as much as you want). + Edge: – Edge works a lot like the Karma pool in the old game. – Spending a point of it lets you add extra dice to tests, reroll, make impossible tests, etc. – Only one point of edge can be used per test. – The edge pool refreshes when the GM says so (every game session, mission, day of gameplay, etc.) – Burning edge (permanent reduction) allows impossible feats, such as escaping death despite the .50 cal sniper round that just blew through your head. + Char creation – Points based.

SR4 info

| September 22, 2005

Okay, so I read the first 50 pages or so.

– It is now 2070. – They killed off Capt. Chaos (the guy who wrote the intro for SR3, and many others), and replaced him with this FastJack dude. – Denver is no longer an undefended smuggler’s paradize. A new dragon (Ghostwalker) showed up and kicked out Aztlan. So, now it’s run by him, the NAN, CAS and UCAS. The nation states submit personnel for the Zone Defense Force. – Hestaby kicked Lofwyr out of Tir Tairngire. – The Renraku Arcology incident was caused by a rogue AI called Deus who did nasty things to the people (“test subjects”) trapped inside. – Novatech has now gone public. – Deus was looking to take advantage of Novatech’s IPO to gain power. – However a mess of crap (Matrix worm, EMP strikes, another AI) causes the Matrix Crash 2.0. – Can’t live without the Matrix, so it’s reinvented/redesigned and is now wireless (since we had to overhaul it anyway, why not?) – Novatech merged with 2 other companies – Transis Neuronet and Erika, forming NeoNET. – Lucien Cross (of Cross Applied Technologies Corporation) dies in a plane crash the day of the Matrix Crash 2.0, and Ares takes advantage of a resulting chaos to buy a lot of CATco’s assets. – CATco loses it’s seat on the Corporate Court to an upstart named Horizon Group, which specializes is publicity stuff. – 2 Earthquakes flood much of Southern Califoria. SF/Bay Area came through okay, but it looks like LA is now an island (at least, the areas that had high enough floodwalls are). – No credsticks anymore – they’re almost as rare as cash. Certified cred is still around because it leaves no trail. Most stuff is handled using wireless authorization of deductions from accounts and all that. – Being SINless is the same, however some of the SIN records were lost in the crash, so some folks had one and never renewed. Presumably, some folks without them might have been able to get them in the confusion, but that is not explicitly stated. – Arrested SINless are assigned a “criminal SIN” (which always used to happen, IIRC). – Wired Virtual Reality is replaced with Wireless Augmented Reality – bunches of crap superimposed on your vision or glasses. – Almost everyone is connected to the Matrix, even if it’s just with a commlink and some display shades. – New term: PAN – Personal Area Network. Basically, all the commlink is the center and main uplink to the matrix and talks to all your other bits. – This, of course, means that hackers can do naughty things… – Just about everything is RFID tagged. They have about a 40m distance. You can get and program your own tags, for a pile of uses (flyers, gang tags, tagging people, etc.) – There are surveillance devices everywhere. – FYI – Not all corps have extraterritoriality. The AAA megas do, and some of the AA’s, but that’s basically it. The Corp Court decides who. – Yamatetsu is now called Evo. They are the first corp to set up a base on Mars. – There is a section on sex. Basically, if it’s profitable and no one unwilling gets hurt, it’s legal. – Apparently, you can have astral sex too. – Vory v Zakone is another organized crime group. Basically, Russian Mob. – Ghost Cartels – The Central/South American cartels, reinvented. Still sell narcotics, but also have some new bioengineered awakened drugs. – There are references to SURGE, which was brought on by the return of Halley’s comet, and as near as I can tell sparked another wave of Goblinization. (They don’t fully explain this, specifically). So, people can go back to playing “human traumatized by goblinizing and cast out by family”. – Sones of Sauron – a pro Orks and Trolls, anti everyone else racist institution (like the Humanis Policlub, only not)

FYI – email crash

| September 22, 2005

My email hosting company suffered a main hard disk crash last night. They are still restoring from backup. Until the restoration is done, email is down. So if anyone is sending me mail, I'm not ignoring you, I just don't have email right now.

Finally broke down

| September 20, 2005

And got the 4th ed Shadowrun book as a PDF. Got tired of waiting. My print book is still on order, but now I have the rules to read and plan and such. I printed them out and am about to start throwing them into a binder. For the curious:

  • The PDF contained no annoying DRM which stopped it from being read by gpdf, kpdf, or xpdf.
  • kpdf lets you print odd numbered and even numbered pages separately, so that works.
  • The margins are a little tight for a standard 3 hole punch, but not prohibitively so. You end up with about 1/8″ from the hole to the start of the column.

Impressions to come as I read the rules.

Bright lights and loud sounds

| September 15, 2005

So, I've been hitting the range a lot lately. See, when you're shooting, you can't really think about shit. You focus on a few very important things – specific motions, your breathing, the front sight of your pistol. It looks like I'll be in a shooting competition in Nov. It's like amateurs league stuff – $15 entry + I need 200 rounds of ammo (I have like 1000 sitting in my office, and that's just .45). So, that should be fun.

Anyway, I've been hitting the range a lot to deal with the stress of work. Basically, I can't talk about most of it (client confidentiality and all that) but we're up against a deadline and the customer is testing what we submitted to them and they feed us back bugs and it's all high stress, need to get shit done but have to be careful what I say to people so as to not piss anyone off because everyone is as on-edge as I am. You know how it goes. Of course, there's more than I'm saying here because this is a public post and I don't want folks to be bored, but you get the idea.

So, anyway, I've been moody and depressed a lot, so I go shoot to clear my head (and I'm getting a lot better at it).

Oh, and the 15 round magazine for my .45 looks completely badass (okay, Liz says it looks stupid, and I admit it looks a little ghetto-tastic) hanging out the bottom of the pistol, but it doesn't feed rounds. Like, at all. I think I'll have to Dremel it.

And I just made brownies.

I'm still waiting for the new edition of Shadowrun. I'm annoyed that it hasn't shipped yet.

This weekend, we're headed up to Liz's parents' house. It's her dad's birthday, so we're going out to dinner or something to celebrate. However, this weekend is also the Syracuse gun show, and since we never get any gun shows in RI (damned liberals), it looks like Liz's Dad and I are going to go. (Go to the gun show? Twist my arm…). Of course, I can't buy anything (at least not without having it shipped to a dealer here in RI, yadda yadda.. Though Long guns may be different, not sure), so it will keep me from being poor and all that. Of course, I can fondle all I want.

Anyway, brownies should be cooled off enough now. Night folks.


| September 13, 2005

Why did Firefly get cancelled? It's like the best show. Almost as good as Battlestar Galactica…