Monday, January 30, 2012

Missing Traveller OGC: Career Paths, A Discussion...

Good Afternoon, All:

With the exception of the Scout career path, the Traveller System Reference Document (TSRD) provides no additional information on career paths. Therefore, any publisher seeking to publish such details must either create his own Open Game Content or make due with a reference to the core rulebook and leave it at that.

As you well know, I'm not the kind of guy that would leave it at that, particularly if I want to someday have a Player's Guide to Azri Drakara. That pretty much means that I am obliged to create my own career path write-ups for the Azri Drakara campaign setting. Of course, that begs the next question: What career paths should I create for the setting?

Below, you can see a list of the various career paths that my personal favorite versions of the Traveller system. Obviously, I want to provide the basic career paths for the Azri Drakara setting in such a manner that traditional Traveller character concepts can still be created, but I don't want to violate the Closed Content clause of the OGL. The names of the career paths are Open Game Content, since they can be found in the TSRD, and more information can be extracted with a little difficulty from the Open Game Content from Traveller T20, but really, a lot of this is just going to be my own creation.

The core career paths from Classic Traveller:
  • Army
  • Navy
  • Marines
  • Merchant
  • Scout
  • Other

The career paths added to Classic Traveller via the Citizens of the Imperium supplement:
  • Barbarian
  • Belter
  • Bureaucrat
  • Diplomat
  • Doctor
  • Flyer
  • Hunter
  • Noble
  • Pirate
  • Rogue
  • Sailor
  • Scientist

The core career paths from MegaTraveller:
  • Army
  • Barbarian
  • Belter
  • Bureaucrat
  • Diplomat
  • Doctor
  • Flyer
  • Hunter
  • Law Enforcer
  • Marine
  • Merchant
  • Navy
  • Noble
  • Pirate
  • Rogue
  • Sailor
  • Scientist
  • Scout

The core career paths from Traveller T20:
  • Academic
  • Army
  • Barbarian
  • Belter
  • Marines
  • Mercenary
  • Merchant
  • Navy
  • Noble
  • Professional
  • Rogue
  • Scout
  • Traveller

The core career paths from Mongoose Traveller:
  • Agent
  • Army
  • Citizen
  • Drifter
  • Entertainer
  • Marine
  • Merchant
  • Navy
  • Nobility
  • Rogue
  • Scholar
  • Scout

Given the commonalities, I am inclined to start with the following core career path list:
  • Academic (Doctor, Scholar, Scientist)
  • Central Security Service (Agent, Law Enforcer)
  • Colonist (Barbarian, Citizen, Hunter, Professional)
  • Merchant House (Merchants)
  • Public Service (Bureaucrat, Diplomat, Noble)
  • Republic Rangers (Scouts)
  • Stellar Navy (Navy, Marines)
  • System Defense (Army, Flyers, Sailors)
  • Traveller (Belter, Drifter, Rogue)

If I had to go with an even smaller list, I'd just use Merchant House, Republic Rangers, Stellar Navy, System Defense and Traveller, since these reflect the contents of the original core career paths from Classic Traveller.

What do you think?

With Regards,

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fantasy Friday: Thoughts on 5E...

Good Afternoon, All:

It's time for another installment of Fantasy Fridays, and today I'd like to talk about the new kid on the block, D&D Next aka D&D 5E. I suspect that there will be some similarities between 5E and my own creation, MyD20 Lite. Both are based on the concept of integrating elements from all editions to create a game that is considered by its designers to be the best of all worlds. While MyD20 Lite is a lot more static than the modular approach presented by 5E, it may come to pass that I can play a 5E game that is very similar to MyD20 Lite in terms of complexity and play experience, simply by choosing which modules I implement in my games. If that happens, I won't be upset by that at all. If it doesn't, I still have MyD20 Lite, so I'm not that worried about it.

When I consider the role of modularity that has been proposed for 5E, a number of things come to mind. From a game design perspective, almost all of the differences between editions in terms of characters boils down to using different names and different mechanics to represent one concept: character abilities. Whether it is the special abilities of a character class, race, kit or theme, as well as feats, powers or spells, they are all just different types of character abilities. (In MyD20 Lite, I call these talents and spells.) I can easily imagine that 5E will capture character abilities in one or two basic formats, making it easier to consistently present them to the players. I don't know what Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) will call these abilities, and they may make different subsets for different modules. I'm sure that calling them by the name associated with a specific edition will alienate those who do not like that edition while potentially gaining some traction with those who do support that edition. Thus, I wouldn't be surprised if we see class substitution levels, racial substitution levels, skills, feats, spells and powers, all listed as different modules yet operating under the same kind of underlying game mechanic. That way, no matter what we may call it to soothe its integration into the game, it is still the same game mechanic underneath.

Beyond that, I can imagine taking either the 3E or 4E engine as the basis for the core system, and streamlining it to cover the bare basics of game play: combat, task resolution, character creation, basic magic items, and the like. Really, at its core, D&D is about using a d20 with modifiers to equal or exceed some target number, and if successful, good stuff happens. The rest is simply well-structured window dressing. What we call the whole gaming experience is really the result of how good the DM is, how well the players click with one another, and how much structure the window dressing provides. The twin mechanics of Ascending AC/Descending AC found in Swords & Wizardry shows us that we can include both approaches to satisfy either desired approach. Assuredly, there are other means by which the math can be juggled to provide reasonably similar experiences for the various approaches used by different editions, although task resolution using d6s, d20s and d% make that goal a bit more complicated. That being said, I really expect the core system for 5E to be easily expressed in under 32 pages, excluding character creation, monsters and any encyclopedia-like collection of character abilities.

This weekend is DDXP 2012, which will be the first time that the common gamer will experience the current draft version of 5E. By the end of this weekend, we should have a better idea of the direction things are currently going. The gaming community will likely be abuzz with the ideas they like, the things they hate and uninformed opinions born of knee-jerk reactions. The more vocal minority, often the extremists of any group, will rattle their swords, eager to be heard over the clangor of their peers. I only hope that WOTC finds a balance between all of the disparate opinions, perhaps with a multi-modular approach, so that I can get the game I'd like to see, without a lot of extra stuff getting in my way. (There's a reason I don't play Pathfinder, although I did give it a go. Pathfinder is just a more complex version of v3.5.)

I am making every effort to remain open-minded to the concepts we've heard so far about 5E. I did the same thing for 4E; this time around, I hope that I'm not disappointed by that choice. So, what are your thoughts regarding the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons?

With Regards,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adventures In Rodan: Seeking Your Thoughts...

Good Afternoon, All:

In Flynn's Guide to Azri Drakara: Rodan Subsector, I introduced the second of sixteen subsectors for the Azri Drakara campaign setting. (The first subsector that I released for Azri Drakara, Cepheus Subsector, can be found in One-Act Adventure: Vengeance by Proxy.) With Rodan being a frontier subsector, I sought to provide a location for Referees and players alike to begin exploring this campaign setting without having to absorb a lot of background material. Over time, of course, future supplements will expand on the setting, but the goal remains that Azri Drakara is intended to be accessible and usable, particularly with the core Traveller rules.

Although I provided several patron encounters in the introductory book, I know that every campaign can benefit from more adventure ideas. Even if a Referee decides not to use the Azri Drakara setting, he can always adapt the ideas for use in his own Traveller campaign. As I'd mentioned earlier this month, adventures don't sell well, but I'm still going to give it one more try and see where things go from there.

I imagine that, in addition to the core adventure, I will probably add a few patron encounters, and perhaps a few more things along the same vein of adventure inspiration. Ultimately, though, the core adventure will be the heart of that product. With that said, what kind of adventure or story would you like to see published for Azri Drakara and Rodan Subsector?

I already have a few ideas, but haven't settled on any of them as yet. Perhaps you as readers of this blog can share your thoughts on what would make an interesting topic to explore within the setting. My first thoughts are as follows:

The Deadly Secret of Sakri: This adventure idea would explain the secret behind Sakri's unusual history.

The Mines of Theon: This adventure idea explores the mining world of Theon, and introduces more detail into Merchant Houses, particularly House Garrett.

The Port Rhom Incident: This adventure idea develops the concept of Rhom as a haven for smugglers and pirates, and introduces the psionic humans known as the Disciplined.

The Ruins of Hipparch: This adventure idea focuses on the exploration of a Progenitor site on the world of Hipparch.

Search For The Star Crystal: This adventure idea centers around an encounter or series of encounters involving the Star Crystal.

So, what do you think of these ideas? What other ideas would you like to see explored in an adventure set in the Rodan Subsector of the Azri Drakara campaign setting? Here's your chance to help set the course and direction of future products for Samardan Press.

With Regards,

Monday, January 23, 2012

Missing Traveller OGC: Weapon Damage Tables...

Good Afternoon, All:

In continuing to address missing Open Game Content from the Traveller System Reference Document (TSRD), this time around I am addressing personal weapon damage. Much of this is simply generalized from my thoughts on Stellar Quest weaponry, but with damage dice appropriate to the 2d6 Open Gaming System found in the TSRD.

Melee Weapons
Weapon damage seems pretty consistent with the following approach, based on weapon size.

Table: Meleee Weapons By Weapon Size
Weapon SizeRangeDamageExample
DiminutiveMelee (close)1d3Under-sized dagger
TinyMelee (close)1d6Dagger, unarmed attack
SmallMelee (close)2d6Short sword
MediumMelee (reach)3d6Long sword
LargeMelee (reach)4d6Great sword
HugeMelee (reach)5d6Over-sized great sword

I will likely use the following chart for determining what weapons a particular race may use.

Table: Weapon Usage By Creature Size
DescriptionSmall CreatureMan-sized CreatureLarge Creature
One-handed, light weapon, concealableDiminutiveTinySmall
One-handed, light weaponTinySmallMedium

A more flesh-out example of a weapon's table will likely appear in this blog at a later date, but this will serve as the basis for it.

Ranged Weapons
Ranged weapons determine damage based on what propels the projectile, or in the case of advanced weaponry, what delivers the damage itself. As there are two general sizes of personal ranged weapons, one-handed (pistols) and two-handed (rifles), damage is determined based on weapon size as well.

Table: Ranged Weapons By Size And Power
Weapon SizeDamageExample
Muscle-Powered2d6Throwing dagger, bow, crossbow
Gunpowder, pistol2d6Pistols
Gunpowder, rifle3d6Rifles
Gunpowder, shotguns4d6Shotguns
Gauss, pistol3d6Gauss pistol
Gauss, rifle4d6Gauss rifle
Energy, pistol4d6Laser pistols
Energy, rifle5d6Laser rifles
Fusion/Plasma, pistol5d6Plasma pistols
Fusion/Plasma, rifle6d6Plasma rifles

Hope This Helps,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fantasy Friday: Quick and Dirty Template Inspirations...

Good Afternoon, All:

I was fortunate enough to catch an article on Gnome Stew this week entitled Quick and Dirty Overland Encounter List Template, which referenced another article entitled Quick and Dirty Location Template. Together, these make for a very interesting way to capture a location's data on one page. If you are the type to create lots of notes on your campaign setting as inspiration strikes, having a template that you can use is often very helpful. I've combined these together into one template below, and added my own version of the encounter table format as a reference.

Location Name: What is this location called? (Official name may be different.)
Ambiance: How does this location look and feel?
History: What elements of this location's history provide adventure ideas?
Encounters: What flavor of encounters could be found here?
Treasures: What special treasures may be found here?
Hooks and Hotspots: What adventure hooks and special sub-locations can be found here?

Life Level: How much diversity exists in plants and animal life in this area? (High, Medium, Low)
Hazard Level: How dangerous is it to live here? (High, Medium, Low)
Difficult Terrain Density: How difficult is it to move around in this area? (High, Medium, Low)
Resource Level: How significant and desirable are the local resources? (High, Medium, Low)

Herbivores: What eats the environment here?
Predators: What eats the other creatures here?
Scavengers: What eats the dead here?
Hazards: What makes it lethal to live here?
Humanoids: What humanoids live here?
Exotic: What supernatural or unusual creatures exist here?


Here's an example of the template filled out for a location I may be using in a future fantasy campaign.

Location Name: Mazhtekha Valley
Ambiance: The ruins of a crumbling granite ziggurat break through the foilage of lush jungle valley.
History: Many generations ago, a blood cult brought captured vampires to this isolated site to sacrifice them to a dark blood god. A failed summoning ritual cursed the cultists with an overriding lust for blood, and they destroyed one another trying to sate their thirst.
Encounters: Many encounters in this area focus on the twin themes of blood and ancient curses.
Treasures: The Blood Rubies of Mazhtekha, a collection of five enchanted fist-sized rubies, are hidden within the ziggurat.
Hooks and Hotspots: A huge vampiric blood ooze patrols the jungle floor at night, retreating to the ziggurat during the day. A cabal o vampires seek the remains of their former sires (or perhaps an item he was known to carry), and the sire was rumored to be among the vampires used in the failed rite.

Life Level: Medium (mostly plants, as creatures with blood must be very quick or flyers to avoid being eaten)
Hazard Level: High
Difficult Terrain Density: Medium
Resource Level: Medium

Herbivores: insect swarms, flying snakes, bats
Predators: stirges, jaguars, assassin vines
Scavengers: ghouls, carrion crawlers
Hazards: huge vampiric blood ooze
Humanoids: degenerate cultist descendants (treat as cavemen),
Exotic: vampires

3Carrion Crawler(s)
6Bat Swarm
7Centipede Swarm
8Flying Snake(s)
9Assassin Vine
12Vampiric Blood Ooze

The nice thing about this particular template is that it really isn't locked into the fantasy genre, so you could, in theory, use it for any setting you may be working on. Ultimately, it should be used for locations that are fairly homogenous. If you use this in a Sci-Fi campaign, I'd suggest that you not use the template for a planet, and instead use it for a region on the planet's surface, or perhaps a complex or settlement instead.

Hope This Helps,

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Aboleth: An Exercise In Converting Open Game Content...

Good Afternoon, All:

Animal encounters, like monsters, are an exciting part of any exploration adventure in Traveller. Sadly, there aren't a lot of sources for creature stats in Traveller. However, there are plenty of Open Game Content sources written for other gaming systems. The beauty of operating under the same license, though, is that you can take the Open Content from one system, translate it and then use it for the second gaming system and still be perfectly legal about it, so long as you follow all the requirements for doing so. (That means including a copy of the OGL in your product, and updating the Section 15 of your copy of the license to include all the references found in the original source's copy of the OGL. After all, you have to give credit where credit is due.)

With a little elbow grease, you could easily come up with some conversions for D20 monsters that would fit in your campaign or adventure. Let's take, for example, the aboleth. For those that do not know, the aboleth is a revolting fish-like amphibian found primarily in subterranean lakes and rivers. An aboleth has a pink belly. Four pulsating blueblack orifices line the bottom of its body and secrete gray slime that smells like rancid grease. It uses its tail for propulsion in the water and drags itself along with its tentacles on land. An aboleth weighs about 6,500 pounds. An aboleth attacks by flailing with its long, slimy tentacles, though it prefers to fight from a distance using its illusion powers. While D20 paints a picture of the beast as an intelligent psionic creature that can create spawn that serve it, we can easily use the core of this concept as an awesome encounter in Traveller.

The aboleth's stat block under D20 looks something like this:

Aboleth: CR 7; Huge Aberration (Aquatic); HD 8d8+40 (76 hp); Init +1; Spd 10 ft. (2 squares), swim 60 ft.; AC 16 (–2 size, +1 Dex, +7 natural), touch 9, flat-footed 15; BAB/Grapple +6/+22; Atk Tentacle +12 melee (1d6+8 plus slime); Full Atk 4 tentacles +12 melee (1d6+8 plus slime); Space/Reach 15 ft./10 ft.; SA Enslave, psionics, slime; SQ Aquatic subtype, darkvision 60 ft., mucus cloud; SV Fort +7, Ref +3, Will +11; Str 26, Dex 12, Con 20, Int 15, Wis 17, Cha 17; Skills & Feats: Concentration +16, Knowledge (any one) +13, Listen +16, Spot +16, Swim +8; Alertness, Combat Casting, Iron Will; Environment: Underground; Organization: Solitary, brood (2–4),or slaver brood (1d3+1 plus 7–12 skum); Treasure Double standard; AL LE.

Using the above, we can start the translation pretty easily. First, the physical ability scores translate almost directly by dividing by 1.5. That gives us: Str 18, Dex 8, End 14. Since this is not an animal under D20, I would use the highest animal intelligence (Int 1) for our new creature, just to avoid the whole sophont issue. Wisdom should probably convert easily to Instinct (Ins), so we're looking at Ins 12. Pack is determined entirely by the D20 creature's Organization descriptor, so I would translate that as Pack 1 or Pack 2.

I can double check my physical ability scores by converting 6,500 pounds to kilograms, and then looking on the Size Table. The aboleth is not quite Size 12, so let's call it Size 11 and compare. Both Str and End are calculated by 5d6 at that size, which gives us an average of 17.5. Yes, we're within a reasonable proximity of that. Dexterity is calculated by 2d6 (average 7), and our converted Dex lies in that range. Looks like we are good to go for stats.

Stats complete, I move to the next step, which is identifying the creature type in Traveller terms. Obviously, the aboleth is a Swimmer, and from its description, I'm going to call this a Riverbank Swimmer. We know that the aboleth is a Carnivore, and I'd initially consider either a Siren or Trapper. Looking at the examples for each in the Traveller core rules, I'm going to go with a Trapper.

Skills are probably best handled per the Traveller rules, although I'd assign Melee (natural weapons) skill levels based on the BAB divided by four. In this case, my version of the aboleth has the following skills: Athletics 2, Melee (natural weapons) 2, Recon 1, Survival 1.

We already know that the damage of our natural weapons will be 2d6, based on the creature's Strength. I don't see tentacles on the list of weapons in the Weapons Table under Animal Encounters in the Traveller core rules, so I'll use Thrasher for my weapon, instead.

The natural armor modifier of +7, after being halved, becomes our new armor value for this creature.

At this point, I could let it go, but I really want to capture more of the unique flavor of the aboleth for the game. Looking at the creature's Special Qualities and Special Attacks, I note a few of them that easily spring to mind as cool possible effects for a creature encounter. Enslave, or psionic domination, would be very interesting, especially since characters cannot do this. Also, changing the slime from a transformative agent into a paralytic one seems like a reasonable change in keeping with the Trapper motif.

For Enslave, I'd suggest that I first create a Psi score and skills for this character. Using Charisma or Wisdom as the Psionic Strength score seems reasonable, which creates a Psi 12 for this particular creature. Let's give the aboleth skill in Telepathy (2 ranks, perhaps). Enslave should be at least as tough as Assault, so let's go with the following for Enslave:
Telepathy, Psionic Strength, 1–6 minutes, Formidable (–6).
Costs 8+Range.

For the paralytic slime idea, we'll treat this like a poison of sorts. When the aboleth hits its target and deals damage, the target must then make a Difficult (-2) Endurance check to resist paralysis. If the target fails the check, they are paralyzed and collapses, unable to move for the next 2d6 minutes.

The end results of this effort can be found below:

Trapper (Carnivore)Riverbank Swimmer188141121
Athletics 1, Melee (natural weapons) 2, Recon 1, Survival 1, Telepathy 2
Thrasher+1 (2d6), Thick Hide (3). Number encountered: 1d3
Psi 12, Enslave. Paralytic slime (End check, DM-2, or be paralyzed for 2d6 minutes).
The aboleth is a revolting fish-like amphibian found primarily in subterranean lakes and rivers. Four pulsating blue-black orifices line the bottom of its body and secrete gray slime that smells like rancid grease. It uses its tail for propulsion in the water and drags itself along with its tentacles on land. An aboleth attacks by flailing with its long, slimy tentacles, though it prefers to fight from a distance using its telepathic powers.

And this is how you can use other Open Game Content resources to increase the materials available for your own campaign.

With Regards,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Missing Traveller OGC: Weapon Ranges Table...

Good Afternoon, All:

As a publisher of Traveller products, one of the things I find the most frustrating about the Traveller System Reference Document is that much of the specific information related to the mechanics of weapons and combat is missing. I understand that this is intended to require publishers to make vague references to the Traveller core rules, thus insuring that Mongoose Publishing continues to have strong sales of their core book, at the very least. However, I feel that such hamstrings me on specific projects, and so I have been creating Open Game Content of my own to cover the absent material.

For example, the Traveller System Reference Document does not have a range table for personal combat. Now, to be fair, the Mercenary System Reference Document does contain a parabolic weapons range tables that slipped past the censors, giving us an idea of how it should look. In that same document, we also see a few weapon stat tables, which give us a format we can use, if we want to maintain consistency. However, as a publisher, we cannot simply duplicate the material that is considered closed content in our own books, so I cannot copy the range tables to include in my own products. Instead, I'll have to come up with my own, if I want to include them.

With that in mind, I'm going to take a step back and describe the difficulty of each range category as a Task Resolution difficulty rating. This harkens back to my MegaTraveller days, giving me a sense of nostalgia, yet it also creates a system that is consistent with the rules as they are written, and thus easy to grasp. Looking at the current core rules (closed content) and converting the penalties and bonuses to the best fitting task descriptors, I come up with the following range table for use in my games and my own published material:

Table: Personal and Space Weapon Ranges
Weapon CategoryPersonalCloseShortMediumLongVery LongDistant
Melee (close)Average (+0)Difficult (-2)----------
Melee (reach)Difficult (-2)Average (+0)----------
Ranged (thrown)--Average (+0)Difficult (-2)Difficult (-2)------
Ranged (pistol)Difficult (-2)Average (+0)Average (+0)Difficult (-2)Very Difficult (-4)----
Ranged (rifle)Very Difficult (-4)Difficult (-2)Average (+0)Average (+0)Average (+0)Difficult (-2)Very Difficult (-4)
Ranged (shotgun)Difficult (-2)Average (+0)Difficult (-2)Difficult (-2)Very Difficult (-4)----
Ranged (assault weapon)Difficult (-2)Average (+0)Average (+0)Average (+0)Difficult (-2)Very Difficult (-4)Formidable (-6)
Ranged (rocket)Very Difficult (-4)Difficult (-2)Difficult (-2)Average (+0)Average (+0)Difficult (-2)Very Difficult (-4)
Space (missile)Difficult (-2)Difficult (-2)Difficult (-2)Average (+0)Average (+0)Average (+0)Difficult (-2)
Space (short)Difficult (-2)Average (+0)Average (+0)Very Difficult (-4)------
Space (medium)Difficult (-2)Difficult (-2)Average (+0)Average (+0)Difficult (-2)Very Difficult (-4)--
Space (long)Very Difficult (-4)Difficult (-2)Average (+0)Average (+0)Average (+0)Difficult (-2)Very Difficult (-4)
Space (very long)Very Difficult (-4)Difficult (-2)Average (+0)Average (+0)Average (+0)Average (+0)Difficult (-2)

That should do it. It changes the odds in a few places, but puts the emphasis on the skill system, which I think is appropriate. That, and it places all of the range tables in one location, where it will prove more useful when resolving combat.

Hope This Helps,

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fantasy Friday: Six Monsters From South America...

Good Afternoon, All:

Welcome to Post #400 on "In Like Flynn," and an introduction to Fantasy Fridays. As I mentioned before, going forward, this blog will focus more on the 2d6 Open-Gaming System referenced in the Traveller System Reference Document. While a majority of my efforts will be focused on that goal, since that's what has proven to be the most profitable overall, we all know that I need outlets for other activities. Thus, I'm creating a new weekly feature for my blog which I am calling Fantasy Fridays. Every Friday, I will post something not related to Traveller, but fitting in with the Old School fantasy vibe that I enjoy. The system for such discussions may vary, but the content will always be rooted in fantasy.

I sometimes find inspiration for new monsters and flavorful encounters by reading Wikipedia entries on the mythological creatures of a given culture. While D&D has many of the creatures common to the Greek and Roman myths, there's a lot of unexplored territory in other cultures of the world. For example, let's look at South American mythology. The following six creatures sound like they'd make for a memorable encounter in one of my games.

Alicanto: The Alicanto is a bird with wings that glow at night with beautiful, metallic color and eyes that emit strange lights. It feeds on gold and silver; miners have followed them to undiscovered riches in times past. However, if an Alicanto discovers that it is being followed, it will lead its greedy pursuers to their death. For stats, I'd treat the Alicanto as an eagle with an eyebeam ranged attack that inflicts 2d6 damage if it hits.

Caipora: A mischievous fey, the Caipora resembles a dwarf with the head of a fox, and often rides a wild boar. It loves to play pranks on people that enter into its forest, and viciously protects the forest from the destructive actions of civilization. For stats, I would treat the Caipora as a satyr with a confusion ability instead of charming pipes, and a vicious bite instead of a head butt.

Cherufe: The Cherufe is a evil giant made of rock and magma that inhabits volcanoes. They have the power to induce earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and thus are feared by villagers living near volcanoes. The only way to abate the Cherufe's appetite for destruction is to offer it a sacrificial victim, preferably a virginal maiden. For stats, I'd probably start with a large fire elemental, and add the ability to cast earthquake and meteor storm three times per day or something like that.

Luison: Resembling a dire wolf with humanoid features, a shaggy mane and dagger-like teeth, the Luison reaks of death and decay. Luisons inhabit cemeteries and other places of death, where it feasts on corpses and rotting flesh. For stats, I'd use the dire wolf, and give it the fetid stench associated with the troglodyte. You could even add a fear effect, if you so desired.

Muladona: The ghost of a woman cursed for tempting priests with lust, the Muladona resembles a fire-spewing headless mule. Its coat is a deep purple, and its silver-shod hooves produce a hideous sound as it trots. Despite being headless, the Muladona can still wail like a banshee and can breathe fire from its neck like a hellhound. For stats, I'd treat the Muladona as a banshee with the hellhound's fiery breath and the movement of a mule.

Peuchen: The Peuchen is a shape-shifting creature that can assume any animal form instantly. In its native form, however, the Peuchen resembles a gigantic flying snake with a gaze that can paralyze its victim, allowing the beast to suck its blood. For stats, I'd start with a giant constrictor snake, add some form of flying movement, add the basilisk's gaze attack (except that it only paralyzes instead of petrifies the target) and perhaps add the stirge's blood drain ability.

Looking through the pages on Wikipedia, I'm sure you'll find other inspirations. However, these should prove useful if you are looking to create a different gaming experience for your players.

Hope This Helps,

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Year Ahead: In Like Flynn in 2012...

Good Morning, All:

While times have been rough, I haven't forgotten about my blog. Indeed, I've been giving it a lot of thought over the last few months. Essentially, I view my blog as serving two purposes: 1) to provide me with a way of expressing my creativity and getting feedback from those interested enough to post comments; and 2) to help me develop things for my game and for my publishing imprint, Samardan Press.

This morning I looked through the sales numbers for various products I have sold under the Samardan Press label. As I have done before, here's a rough breakdown of total sales to date, by product, sorted by System and then Title:

TitleLulu-PrintLulu-ElectronicRPGNowTotal SoldSystemType
Fantasy Concepts Campaign Resource2710742176FCSystem
OGL Alternatives: Alternate Advancement System 0323163GenericRules
Modern Options: The Tome Of Talents018725ModernRules
MyD20 Lite Bestiary: Common Creatures1359MyD20Monsters
MyD20 Lite Player's Guide4194871MyD20System
Book of Races792945S&WRules
Hammersong's Legacy55111S&WSetting
Flynn's Guide To Alien Creation3652144232TravellerRules
Flynn's Guide to Azri Drakara: A Primer312125TravellerSetting
Flynn's Guide to Azri Drakara: Republic Starships303134TravellerVehicle
Flynn's Guide to Azri Drakara: Rodan Subsector333541TravellerSetting
Flynn's Guide to Magic in Traveller161896130TravellerRules
One-Act Adventure: Vengeance By Proxy1312025TravellerAdventure

From the numbers above, it is easy to see that my best sellers are my Traveller products, followed closely behind by Fantasy Concepts. MyD20 Lite and Swords & Wizardry bring up the rear at third and fourth place. On a product by product basis, Fantasy Concepts outdistances everything, but Traveller sales are still strong, easily twice that of MyD20 Lite on a per-product basis, which in turn is twice that of Swords & Wizardry. Since Fantasy Concepts was a one-off product, it would help my business to focus primarily on Traveller products in the coming year.

In terms of product types, I can see that I have the most sales with Rules-related sourcebooks, with a particular emphasis on my core system books in particular. Surprisingly, monsters don't sell as well, although my starship book is doing much better than I actually expected. We learned last time that setting books don't do well, but I've been surprised at the performance of the Traveller setting books I've written. Adventures are doing almost as well as my setting work, and they tend to support a product line that features a setting, so I may have to change my mind on their place in my publishing future. I think I'll publish a new one in the next few months and see how well it does. Besides, I like to put a lot of background information into my adventures, so it will be like a mini-setting sourcebook as well.

With that in mind, I'm inclined to put my efforts toward the following directions with future products:

  • Traveller products will continue to be my main focus.
  • I still intend to release at least one more MyD20 Lite product to complete the set, but otherwise, I am not going to be active here until I see how the D&D 5th Edition playtest material looks. MyD20 Lite was my solution to the same problem they are facing, and I may discover that their efforts may render mine mute.
  • I will publish one more Traveller adventure, to see how it fairs and whether it proves profitable to publish adventures or not.
  • I will not publish any of the other ideas that were bouncing around in my head, at least at this time, because it detracts me from focusing on the things that will actually help me become a more successful publisher.

The direction of In Like Flynn is also going to shift. My focus going forward will be on the Traveller system, although that does not require me to be focused on just Science Fiction. After all, the system can still be used to run fantasy-based games, so expect that this blog will also sport some of its usual Old School Fantasy flavor. (Besides, I know me, and I'm still likely to slip a few traditional gaming system posts in here from time to time.) Note, though, that this blog will be expanding into the realm of Science Fiction, so expect to see that diversity in future posts.

Thank you all for your patience and your presence on this blog, and I look forward to what 2012 holds for us all. It should be a fun year!

With Regards,