Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2004

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion


To the seventieth issue of The Guild Companion.

Dragonmeet 2004

Probably the premier UK convention this year, Dragonmeet 2004 (www.dragonmeet.com) is now days away as I write this editorial.

My fantasy scenario ("Island in the Mist", morning game) has now been put through its paces by my playtesters. They found it very challenging but they did survive and triumph in the end. We've found some places where their characters needed a bit of tightening up and their advice to anyone reading this who will be playing the game for real at Dragonmeet is "Use those fate points".

My mad flurry of effort has resulted in the completion of the science-fiction scenario, "Resident Aliens" (afternoon game). I also now have a preliminary talents list, a Firearms critical table, a Laser critical table, armor stats, more details on the Psionic Field of Telepathy, and (somehow) a first pass at a relatively complete skills chapter. My long-suffering players have successfully constructed five characters - an Armsman who is a crack shot, an Explorer who fancies himself as a big game hunter, a Belter Pilot who can fly anything that moves, a Scientist from Ring City, and a Psychic who prefers to spend her time away from humanity in isolated places such as Tibet and the terraformed (but fundamentally still unpleasant) surface of Venus. Dependent on how they manage in the playtest, I'll be building the sixth character as either another Armsman or an Agent (representing Terran Federation Intelligence).

Hopefully I'll remember to bring my percentile dice to this Dragonmeet and avoid last year's madcap dash to buy some d10s!

The Space Setting

In previous editorials, I've discussed how there isn't a single science-fiction genre, and the part this may play in the relatively poor sales of SF RPGs in comparison to fantasy RPGs. I've also talked about how the science-fiction version of HARP will aim to support the multiple subgenres of science-fiction by providing rules modules that the System Operator (SysOp) [the HARP SF GM] can combine to fashion a unique setting or to evoke a published universe. The HARP SF core rulebook will have a default "official" setting so that SysOps have a universe that they can run "out of the box". It is intended that this setting will not be a major component of the core rulebook - without a setting, it would be extremely difficult to provide sample alien races, training packages, consistent technology options, and so forth.

ICE has given me the synopsis of their intended default setting, and I have been working with them to eliminate subtle inconsistencies and to flesh it out. This is still very much a work in progress, but there are some key aspects of the setting that I can safely reveal.

Firstly, the HARP setting will be wholly new. Thus ICE gamers will have three universes to choose from - the old Imperial setting of 2nd Edition Spacemaster which lives on in Silent Death, the Privateers setting of the current Spacemaster rules, and the HARP setting codenamed "Tintamar".

Secondly, "Tintamar" will be set in the twenty-fifth century, rather than the twenty-fourth century of Privateers or the distant future of the Imperium. Technology and society will be both less and more advanced than Privateers.

Thirdly, humankind in "Tintamar" will have established colonies both within and without the Solar System. These worlds will be largely autonomous, but members of the Terran Federation, an alliance of mutual assistance and defense against hostile alien races. As a consequence of the technologies available in "Tintamar", SysOps will be able to run campaigns in human-only space, in alien-dominated sectors, or venture beyond into the unknown regions of the galaxy.

Fourthly, expect aliens in "Tintamar" to be alien in form and outlook, though they will not be so exotic as to be unplayable by human players!

Fifthly, "Tintamar" is a universe of many factions, human and alien, sometimes cooperating, sometimes competing. Rivalries can lead to violent conflict, but "Tintamar" is not currently engulfed in war.

Farewell for now ...

On behalf of all the staff of The Guild Companion, I would like to wish all our readers a very happy Christmas. Our next issue will be published sometime in January 2005, but until then ...

Keep gaming and have fun,
Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor for The Guild Companion