Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Star Wars: Orbastra's Planetary Peril!

Anoat, once a world poisoned by the Empire, still has influential citizens on Bespin... citizens whose mercantile might is enough to warrant some deference from Governor Adelhard in the wake of the Imperial collapse and the Iron Blockade. Chief among these citizens is Cincinatus Orbastra, scion of a noble house and environmental engineer. Inspired by the historical restorations of Taris and Telos, Cincinatus Orbastra suggests a bold plan to cleanse Anoat of its poisons: Siphon the atmosphere completely from the planet, and replace it with the atmosphere of nearby, and officially deserted, Hoth.

The plan is bold, yet deemed feasible. Using the ice of the planet Hoth, two enormous, 1000 kilometer in diameter spheres would be created; one above Hoth, the other above Anoat. The atmospheres of both planets would then be siphoned into the ice spheres, and  Hoth's clear air towed, through hyperspace, to be placed on its new planets, with the ice of Hoth contributing the hydrosphere of the newly revitalized Anoat. The poisoned air of Anoat will be simply discarded... why haul an ice box full of poison to place on a nothing world? While this plan will cause a near-total loss of life on both planets, it will leave Anoat ripe for resettlement... with Governor-General Adelhard and Cincinatus Orbastra as the chief beneficiaries of the new world.

When this plan comes to light, it will be vehemently opposed by several factions. The Anoat Sector Rebellion, cut off from the galaxy by the Iron Blockade, still uses Hoth as a waystation and salvage yard, as do many smugglers and more legitimate businessmen. Furthermore, anything that damages Adelhard's regime is good for the rebellion, and so teams will be sent out to hinder the creation of the Ice Spheres, and to damage the pumps that will be necessary to turn the planets into giant vacuums. If this plan succeeds, what too could it mean for the galaxy, where one world may be robbed of its very breath so another might flourish? What other worlds, deemed "undesireable", would have their atmosphere stolen to create a biosphere on some Imperial or corporate rock?

Orbastra must be stopped.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


New Skill: Trapping
Relevant Abilities: Intelligence and Dexterity
Cost: 6 BP
Universal: No
Prerequisite: Novice level Hunting, Novice Level Animal Empathy
Materials/Tools: Yes

Trapping is the skill of placing pre-made hunting traps, and creating snares, deadfalls, pits, and other natural traps. Trapping requires some basic knowledge of hunting, but is developed separately. A skilled trapper not only makes a snare, but knows exactly where to place it to catch the game they’re after; like hunting, trapping is limited to a specific climate. Also, like hunting, trapping does not always provide you with a dead animal, merely the opportunity to kill one.

Traps are oriented towards a certain size of creature; a pit trap that will catch a bear might be safely hopped over by a rabbit, and a snare that will catch a rabbit will do little more than annoy a bear. Depending on the size of creature sought, and the skill of the trapper, a trap can be created in minutes to hours. The difficulty of trapping varies with local conditions, but trapping for meat is usually an Average check. If you wish to preserve a saleable fur, it becomes Difficult; an Average trap will destroy (5-DR)d10p% of the pelt.

Novice Tiny: 60 minutes, Small/Medium 60 minutes, Large 4 hours, Huge 8 hours
Average: Tiny: 45 minutes, Small/Medium 45 Minutes, Large 3 Hours, Huge 7 Hours
Advanced: Tiny: 30 Minutes: Small/Medium 45 minutes, Large 2 Hours, Huge 6 hours
Expert: Tiny 15 minutes, Small/Medium: 30 minutes, Large 90 minutes, Huge 5 hours
Master Tiny: 10 Minutes, Small/Medium 15 minutes, Large 1 Hour, Huge 4 Hours

Note: Huge creatures are generally only vulnerable to pit traps or deadfalls; effectively creating a pit trap for a Huge creature requires Mining. These times are in addition to the necessary time to excavate enough earth or stone to create an effective pit trap. Deadfalls for Huge creatures often involve dropping hillsides on them.

Materials required vary, but usually start with a knife or hand axe, and some wire or twine. Not having these bare requirements increases the difficulty by one step. Having a premade mechanical trap makes the base difficulty Easy, and reduces the time for all mastery levels to 10 minutes per trap, regardless of size (though premade traps are seldom made larger than Large).

Hunting snares can be effective mantraps, but are relatively easy to spot. Observation checks to locate mantraps set by trapping are +50% if the trapper is Novice, +40% if they are average, +30% if Advanced, +20% if Expert, and +10% if Master. This bonus does not apply to wild animals, but domesticated animals trained for hunting do receive this bonus, as do humanoids and any creature with an Intelligence of 7/01 or higher.


The Outdoorsman is a woods-wise warrior, similar to both a ranger and a barbarian, but with key differences. Unlike the ranger, they do not necessarily have a dedication to the health and safety of others… outdoorsmen might be poachers, smugglers, or marauders, happy to devastate a township or simply quickly move illegal goods over the land. Unlike the barbarian, however, there’s no necessary component of chaos in their alignment; an outdoorsman could equally be a King’s Forester, responsible for catching those poachers and smugglers, or stopping marauders along the road. Or an outdoorsman may be a tribesman, not quite so tough or superstitious as a barbarian, but still capable of living off the land and surviving the wilderness.

While able combatants, most Outdoorsman favor tools over weapons; they might learn to use a sword, but facility with a hand axe, spear, or bow is a lot more practical. While they benefit greatly from the physical attributes of Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution, they also find Wisdom to be of great use, given its relation to key skills such as Hunting, Survival, and Weather Sense.

Unsurprisingly, those Outdoorsmen who are religious favor deities such as The Traveller, The Great Huntress, and the Bear, but there’s not restriction on their following other deities or no religion at all. Most are moderately suspicious of magic, especially those of a tribal background, but it seldom manifests as a true phobia, as one sees amongst barbarians; it is simply something beyond their ken, and so they may have little use for it.

Monday, March 5, 2018



Basic Investing for HackMaster

There comes a point in many games when the characters simply have too much money. They may have purchased everything the GM will let them purchase, may be on the move and unwilling to buy real property (houses, bars and the inevitable stronghold), or may simply be wanting to make more money when they’re in that limbo between being having to scrape every last copper and being able to destabilize the local economy without half trying. Some mercantile-minded players may turn their minds towards investing some of their rewards in commercial ventures, hoping for a return in wealth and influence. Unless you truly wish to be playing HackTrade, however, most GMs will seek to abstract this process a little, letting the game flow without preventing the character from spending his wealth as he sees fit.

For the purposes of this article, Investments are of two different types: caravans and in-place businesses. Caravans are limited-duration ventures, and investment money usually goes to hire guards, drovers, and stock, moreso than the actual goods for sale. In-place ventures tend to be investments in existing businesses, either letting a business owner expand, hold a special event, or start up. Many of the same principles apply to each, but some modifiers will have different effects depending on whether or not the business venture travels.

Lastly, these rules are designed primarily for PC investment in NPC businesses, but it is possible to adapt them to PC (or detailed NPC)-run businesses; there are some notes at the end on using them as such.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


As mentioned in the post about psionics, Dave Kenzer has said he's done a lot of work on Illusionists. As such, here's the version I came up with before he said that.


Illusionists supplement basic mage spellcasting with a powerful, flexible ability to create illusions… false images of light, sound, smell, even the perceptions of touch, taste, and heat… that fool the senses.

There are two basic types of illusions, with some very key differences. Mirages, also called holograms or, more confusingly, “true illusions” create and manipulate actual light, smells, and sounds for all to hear; a holographic thunderclap can be heard for miles, and might have people checking the skies briefly to see if rain is coming. It is not necessary for someone to believe a mirage for it to have an effect on them; even if you know your opponent is an illusionist, you are still being buffeted by light and sound; they simply do not have the sources you may be led to believe. Targets may realize that the image they are being shown is false, but that does not dismiss the image; an Illusionary Mural that you can’t see through still conceals anything behind it, even if you know it’s not real. Mirages are very poor at tactile sensations and heat; they can create the impression of them, but cannot generate scorching heat or the violent blow of a sword. This type of illusion is known to mages, with the simplest being Illusionary Mural and Audible Clamor.

The second type, variously called fictions, hallucinations, and phantasms, target a single individual with the perception of their senses being stimulated. Little is actually created; outsiders watching someone fighting a phantasmal warrior may see shapes and shadows engaging their ally, but will more likely see nothing at all, even as the target reels backwards from a mighty blow or curls up under a blast of phantasmal flames from a fictional fiery foe. Fictions can kill, but seldom cause wounds; a successful saving throw against them frequently dismisses the effect entirely. A simple mage spell that makes use of fictions is Phantom Irritation; no one else will hear the buzzing or feel the tickle, but it will be enough to distract the target.

Why study illusion magic? The magic of a regular mage is very powerful, and has real effects. But it is also relatively inflexible. If you do not know the spell, you cannot do the effect. A mage who does not know Illusionary Mural will not be able to create an illusionary mural. If they know it but have not prepared it, they will be unable to use it to its full effect. Illusionists, by contrast, have studied the fine art of illusioncrafting, and are able to create the mirages and fictions they wish, at the expense of the higher secrets of mage magic.


The Marshal is envisioned as a fighter/rogue; someone who combined martial talent with the ability to command troops, be it a brigade of warriors or a small unit of tomb-robbers and temple-despoilers. Many Marshals will be officers, commissioned or non-commissioned, but others will have gathered their knowledge more haphazardly, in kobars and barracks, wherever warriors congregate, talk shop, and look to others to make the decisions and take the blame.

Marshals tend to be Lawful, but are not restricted from other alignments. Many favor the Old Man, but his worship is likewise not required.


Prefatory note: Dave Kenzer has said he's done extensive work on the official version of Hackmaster psionics, so I figured I'd post my own version.

Making the Most of the Least Mental Powers

Psychic powers are accessed via first possessing the Psychic Ability Talent. This talent costs 30 BP, and represents a character having a glimmer of psychic ability, but not having any specific, developed abilities. This glimmer of psychic ability manifests as a touch of precognition, and an inability to roll the highest number on the initiative die (i.e. if their initiative die is 1d12, they will be considered to have rolled an 11 on an 11 or 12; if their initiative die is a d3, they will be considered to have rolled a 2 on a 2 or a 3).

Manifesting more potent psychic powers, however, requires development and training in one of several psychic disciplines. Those psychics who have developed their talents more fully are able to achieve more, while those who devote themselves to several endeavors can achieve a wide variety of effects. Much like a fighter must choose between becoming a master of a single weapon, or competent with several, so must a psychic choose whether to focus their powers, or be widely capable. Much like a craftsman must choose between working in several mediums or specializing only in one, so must a psychic choose between becoming a virtuoso of a single psychic art, or a handyman capable of getting by in several.