Category Archives: Random musings

Some Thoughts on “A Time Of War”

Recently I had the chance to create a character for Catalyst Game Labs’ latest Battletech roleplaying game “A Time of War”. While the core mechanic is a pretty simple and straightforward “roll 2D6 + bonuses vs. difficulty level” mechanic, character creation is rather quirky.

You start out with 5000 points to spend. At first you pick your Affiliation, then your Early Childhood, followed by your Late Childhood, and so on. It’s basically a Lifepath system where each step of your development consists of one or more modules you have to buy which grant you with experience points spent in various attributes, skills, and traits. Yes, that’s right, you don’t get ranks directly, but the XP to buy them.

In some cases you get bad traits or maluses on your abilities that you can later buy off. The whole process takes a lot of time, especially when you are new to the game. And some of the modules you pick or the traits you get XP for have prerequisites you have to fulfill at the end of character creation. The “Nobility” early childhood module for example gives you the prerequisite of having Rank 5 in either Title, Wealth or Property. If you don’t make sure you got enough XP to buy one of those traits, you couldn’t have picked it in the first place.

Luckily we all had more than enough XP to basically create the character we wanted to play. But for most of the character creation process I had pretty much no idea how my character would turn out. At the end you’re allowed to make some optimizations. If you – for example – have 26 XP in a skill, you can either pay 4 XP to raise the Rank to 3 or take Rank 2 and spend 6 points on other abilities. It’s definitely a novel way of doing things, but I am not sure if it’s really worth all the hassle.

But regardless of my criticism of the character creation mechanics the process was pretty satisfying in the end. My character turned out great and I am extremely excited to actually play the game. We decided to start the campaign shortly after the arrival of the Clans. We might even be working with the Kell Hounds when they first encounter the Clans. Let’s just hope we don’t get our asses kicked too bad. Zwinkerndes Smiley

Let’s do the no elves… again!

I’m doing a bit of post necromancy here; over 5 years ago I posted about Talislanta. It was a trip down memory lane, and you can read the original post for all the details. Let me tell you how I got here.

Talislanta dance

Yesterday Michael posted about the beta rules for the new edition of Traveller from Mongoose Publishing, which got me thinking about old school games so I visited a Facebook group on Old School games to see what people thought about it. Turns out there was no discussion about it there, but I participated in a couple of discussions, and found out that the official Talislanta site recently posted a bit of important news, they have almost all the Talislanta books available for download, including the Italian and German editions. That’s a pretty impressive collection!

So if you want to discover what Talislanta is all about, head over to their downloads page and enjoy. Let me know what you think… Did you play Talislanta? What did you think?

And as my friend Rodney from Game Master Toolbox would say “Still not using the word elves, but they got them!”

Talislanta Rodney

Some thoughts on the Traveller Core Beta

travcoverOn Friday Mongoose Publishing released the beta playtest documents for their upcoming Traveller Core Rulebook. What sets this playtest apart from others we’ve seen in the past is the fact that you have to pay $20 for the playtest documents. At the end of the playtest you get a $20 coupon for the final PDF. I can understand the reasoning behind Mongoose’s decision, but I also understand why a lot of gamers are not too excited to have to pay for a beta. Since I am pretty sure I’ll get the final PDF as soon as it’s out, paying $20 in advance is no biggie for me.

Overall I applaud Mongoose for trying something new with the ageing Traveller system. Mongoose’s Traveller variant has been a streamlined version of the original rules from the “Little Black Books”. The new core rules not only streamlined the rules, but also tried to bring the look of the books to the 21st century. And while Traveller 5th Edition from Far Future Enterprises is probably the most complex edition of Traveller, the new Mongoose Traveller will be the easiest.

While the basic task resolution system pretty much stays the same, they borrowed an idea from D&D 5th Edition which totally removes the need for dice modifiers. There are now boon and bane dice which work like D&D’s advantage and disadvantage. While some of the old-school fans of the game might be dismayed by such a change, I wholeheartedly applaud it. You know my stance on rules-light games.

I believe that Mongoose is really trying to make the needed changes in order to get more people interested in this franchise. For the majority of current gamers, Traveller is just not cool enough. The universe is based on Scifi from the 60s and 70s and the rules were designed in the late 70s. About 40 years later some changes are definitely needed to reach an audience beyond the old Traveller grognards.

From what I’ve seen so far, they might actually succeed with their attempt. The layout of the playtest document is awesome, the new isometric deckplans are very sweet, and the rules changes I’ve seen so far are pretty well thought out. Luckily my Traveller GM shares this viewpoint, so we might give the new rules a try in the coming weeks. I have to admit I am very excited! These are great times for any Traveller fan.

And if you don’t like what Mongoose is doing, you can still rely on older edition, which are available from the Far Future Enterprises website.