Summer Resolutions 2015

Posted: 4 September 2015 in Reflections

I decided to make my New Year’s resolutions over the summer this year, as I have more time and fewer distractions on my summer holiday than over the Christmas break; so while the blog continued to publish scheduled posts on my behalf, I have been overeating on a Mediterranean beach, reading, and reflecting on games to come…


My son Nick was with me for part of the time, and we agreed to share the Dark Nebula setting so we can both GM campaigns in it; he’ll take the left side of the map and I the right, but I’ll retain overall responsibility for the map and setting. If and when we need more worlds, he will expand down from the bottom of the map, and I up from the top. Nick plans to use Stars Without Number throughout, while I will continue with my Savage Worlds/SWN mashup.

  • Resolution 1: I will update the Dark Nebula map to reinstate the offmap routes (for future expansion), and while I’m at it I will add major trade routes and the octants I’m using to break up the map into manageable chunks. Oh, and the hexgrid is back.
  • Resolution 2: I will do cut-down versions of the Moralon sector (left side of map) and Vecinos sector (right side), showing only what the PCs know at the beginning of the game – this is more in line with the exploratory approach of SWN, think of it as a fog of war setting.
  • Resolution 3: I will retcon Dark Nebula faction turns to date to realign them with the SWN rules as written and mesh with Nick’s campaign better. I will use a Hexographer hack I thought of while on holiday to do this – you’ll see. Meanwhile, much as I like my variation of God’s Chess, it’s proved clunky to use as I developed it off-camera, so I will drop it and focus on the (perfectly good) faction rules – it will move to the tryouts as a failed experiment, but I intend to try it again in some future campaign.


The adventures I’ve already run for the crew of the Collateral Damage have highlighted for me the benefits of the mapless approach advocated by the Savage Worlds Sci-Fi Companion, The Lost Parsec, Ashen Stars and so on. Captain Roscoe, for example, is essentially a 17th century sea dog, and has shown me I need a homeworld for whatever crazy PCs the players come up with; so there should be habitable worlds with SWN tech levels 0-3 as well as the 4, 4+ and 5 already present. If I were playing SW SF the way it’s meant to be played, I wouldn’t have to bother with that sort of thing – "Oceanic planet with 17th century technology? Yeah, bound to be one somewhere, it’s only one jump away same as everywhere else, what do you want to call it?"

I’m also not awarding enough bennies, maybe because I don’t have the PCs’ Hindrances in front of me at the table. I’ve adopted the Jokers Wild setting rule to compensate while I adjust my style of play.

  • Resolution 4: Adjust tech levels for Bulan (SWN TL 0-1), Ria (TL 2) and Godoro (TL 3) to allow for low-tech lostworlder PCs.
  • Resolution 5: Add key PC data to my GM cheat sheets, starting with Hindrances.


While I got a lot of things wrong in the recently-purged  solo campaigns, I miss the characters; so I considered whether to reinstate them (WordPress lets you insert posts retrospectively) or reimagine them. It’s less work to reinstate them, but it would re-introduce egregious errors and multiple additional settings, and I’d don’t want do that; so reimagining and retcon are the order of the day.

Hey, it was good enough for Robert E Howard (By This Axe I Rule, rewritten as The Phoenix on the Sword) and H Beam Piper (When in the Course, rewritten as Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen).

I think I overdid the purging, actually. Next time the urge takes me I will lie down in a dark room until it goes away.

  • Resolution 6: I will retcon the Arion and Greg Shepherd solo campaigns into the Dark Nebula.
  • Resolution 7: I will stop purging things and focus more on making sure that what I post is worthy to remain.


The five-day blitz idea worked well for me in setting up the Dark Nebula campaign.

  • Resolution 8: I will do one blitz every three months or so for the then-current campaign or setting. So expect another one before Christmas.


Other ideas that made it as far as the ever-present notebook, but are parked for the moment as I have more ideas than time to implement them. They may or may not get picked up in 2016 and beyond.

  • Dual-stat the Dark Nebula in SWN and Classic Traveller to support Nick’s intention of using CT trade rules with his group. In principle this should also because I think it will help me flesh out the sector’s worlds, plus Arion spent a while as a Savage Worlds overlay on Classic Traveller.
  • Create a map for Imperium like the one I’ve done for Dark Nebula. Just for the hell of it.
  • Resurrect the old Irongrave campaign for either Labyrinth Lord or D&D 5th Edition. This would lean heavily on sandbox tools from Sine Nomine Publications.
  • Continue the adventures of the surviving solo PCs in All Things Zombie: Captain Flack, and Detective Sergeant Drew.
  • Start a new ATZ game making full use of all the available books and in chronological order.
  • Start a 5150 game using the latest version of the rules (possibly including Fringe Space) and a new PC, tentatively Lt Jack Mendoza. Possibly overlay this on the Dark Nebula to avoid setting creep.
  • Resurrect Don and Bex (All Things Zombie) and Telrax (Scarlet Heroes, this last possibly relocated to Jalizar).
  • Port Jalizar to Labyrinth Lord and/or D&D 5th edition so that those of my group who prefer D&D can still use the Beasts & Barbarians setting.
  • Create new (sub)sectors using the 1977 version of Classic Traveller and the full monty of Stars Without Number supplements, just to see what they look like.
  • Create a Traveller subsector using the same dice rolls under every edition of the rules I possess, to see how the changes over the years have affected the map. Because I can.
  • Empire of the Petal Throne, either the original version as written, or Savaged.

Looks like I’m back…

  1. Charles F. Blakely says:

    Sounds like Nick has some great ideas: Go with Traveller and/or Stars Without Number! Regarding different editions of Traveller for subsector creation, GURPS Space 3E or 4E will also give a nice spin on different world and society types. I never did use the 3-D sector model – I just used the Traveller Subsector map. Mongoose Traveller with its terms and events add a history to each new character. With the amount of background you have created, this background should allow you to create adventures effortlessly based on character history. I made each character create an Ally, Contact, Rival and Enemy, if they weren’t all four created during character generation. Mongoose also put out Supplement 12 Dynasty and Supplement 15 Powers and Principalities which explore Faction-esque elements that are worth reading.

    For Tekumel, Bethorm rules by Jeff Dee are a recent addition for the game. For Tsolyanu and most of the Five Empires citizens, the choice of beginning weaponry and magic are limited, so good luck Savage Worlding that!

    I’m also porting fragments of a GURPS Fantasy world I created into D&D 5.

    Sounds like good planning on your part! I need to do the same. Thanks for sharing your thought processes behind the Faction and World-Building examples. It definitely gives me food for thought.

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