Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2010

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion


To the 137th issue of The Guild Companion and our monthly progress report.

Ongoing Work on HARP SF

The cover art for HARP SF is underway. The preliminary version is already looking good; I think the final version will be absolutely brilliant and give a great pictorial impression of a key location within the Tintamar universe as well.

Ongoing Work on HARP SF Xtreme

Among other things, I've been busy incorporating editorial feedback into HARP SF Xtreme.

Last month, I covered the changes to the fourth chapter, so continuing to move backwards, let's have a look at the modifications to the third chapter on "Cyberware".

The first change was a minor tweak to the price of installing cyberware in terms of procedural and convalescence costs.

Secondly there were clarifications to the difficulty degrees for characters wanting to install, repair, or uninstall cyberware on themselves.

The third set of changes were clarifications regarding how cyberware can be damaged in combat and via other physical phenomena, particularly regarding when both a normal critical result and a malfunction roll had to be applied.

The fourth set of changes are perhaps the most significant. Instead of having a flat number of Cyberware Control skill ranks to control cyberware regardless of its numeric benefits, the rules now scale the required ranks according to the bonus granted. This ensures consistency with the robotic talents and indeed biological talents. Essentially the rules consider cyberware to be Talents.

The fifth set of changes is to add some new cyberware options, including "Protectors" (which provide bonuses to specific classes of RRs), an Armored Biological Option, Sensory Receivers and Transmitter neuralware options, and the Specific Implants item.

There were also various minor tweaks to improve the readability of some of the rules.

Moving further backward into the second chapter on "Vehicle Combat":

Here the first change is to add more detail to vehicle initiative modifiers in terms of ground vehicle locomotion types versus different terrain categories and to incorporate penalties for being too close to comfort to gravity wells when flying spacecraft.

The second significant change is enabling point defense systems to be used as short-range weapon systems against targets other than missiles. Conversely gunners are now allowed to use the main weapon systems against missile barrages, albeit at a penalty.

The third set of changes relates to missiles and torpedoes. Jammed missiles now have an opportunity to find a new similar target. Smart missiles are introduced that have an opportunity to re-lock onto the same target even if jammed, though they can only attempt this once. Guided missiles have the option of being remotely controlled, enabling them to switch targets mid-flight and regain targets post-jamming. The only safe enemy missile is a destroyed missile. Rules are also given for breaking comms links between operators and their guided missiles, for reprogramming decoys, and using one's own vessel as a decoy for another.

The fourth series of modifications covers extended weapon batteries (i.e. across multiple vessels) and the rules for using them, maintaining the communication links, and disrupting those links.

Fifthly the Fighting in Formation rules were clarified to make them more easily comprehensible and to eliminate certain edge cases which could be abused for egregious min-maxing opportunities.

Sixthly, all of the vehicle critical tables have been enhanced by including suggested costs and base time to repair the damage inflicted by the various criticals.

The seventh set of changes is part modification, part additional material. In all prior versions of the HARP SF Xtreme manuscript, there was a section on mixing personal and vehicular combat, so characters could shoot at starships with their sidearms and longarms, and those starships could shoot back with their cannon. It was noted that the vehicles in HARP SF Xtreme were all relatively small (compared to some of the leviathans on today's oceans and the titanic vessels in many sf literary, TV and movie sagas.) Part of this is due to the inclusion of the portal technology within the Tintamar universe which imposes a size limit on ships that wish to utilise them, part of this is a desire to keep PCs in vehicles where they are demonstrably both the doers and the leaders, rather than a handful of crew among complements of hundreds or even thousands. Nevertheless even in the Tintamar universe, there are still big starships, space stations, etc, that are on a much grander scale than the small freighters, scoutcraft, starfighters and corvettes included in HARP SF Xtreme. So to represent these distinctions, the final version of HARP SF Xtreme adopts three scaling categories of weapons - personal (from minilasers to heavy machine guns), vehicular (energy and projectile cannon) and capital-class weapons systems (including nuclear warheads) and three scaling categories of targets (people, vehicles, and capital-class vehicles). Using a matrix table, the size modifiers and damage caps for attacks against targets of unequal size can be readily obtained. Hand weaponry can scratch the paintwork of truly monstrous vessels; their weapons can obliterate offending individuals with ease and devastate smaller vessels.

The eighth and final set of modifications is additional material to cover close-quarters combats happening within vehicles and characters who want to shoot out of a vehicle at other people or other vehicles.

I've some final modifications in terms of supporting paragraphs to explain tables within the first chapter on Vehicles, but HARP SF Xtreme will shortly be safe to hand over completely to the artwork and layout gurus, and final proofreaders.

Ongoing Work on Shadow World Player's Guide

After first layout was complete, the Shadow World Player's Guide ended up at just the wrong page count for our print-on-demand service. We had a choice of removing one page or adding three, so we decided to add three pages of material. Craig John has been busy producing the additional colour illustrations for the Wonders of Shadow World section and working on a fantastic colour cover.

Ongoing Work on The Guild Adventurer #4

Terry Amthor has submitted his scenario, Eyes of Stone, for TGA#4, and at the time of writing, was busy working up RM2/Classic stats and final maps for the adventure. Once Terry has handed in the RM2/Classic stats, we'll get the RMSS/FRP conversion worked up.

Meanwhile Maria Duffield, another member of our growing academy of artists and illustrators, has been producing some magnificent pieces to bring the other scenarios to life.

Farewell for now ...

I have the remaining changes to make to HARP SF Xtreme and an artwork list to finalise, so I'll leave you to enjoy the rest of the issue. We'll be back in August with issue 138, but until then ...

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