Monday, December 31, 2007

Game Diary Summary - December

I had some trouble in Photoshop, working on the Jova province, but I worked that out yesterday. I also found a formula to plug into my names spreadsheet to give me a random name from the long list (around 500 names). I used that to select the 50+ star names for the Capitis district of Jova (the one containing Aldorus). Only problem is making sure I don't somehow duplicate the same names.

I continued working with spreadsheet formulas for automating the star system creation process. This time I was doing the Raw Material, Ag Prod, Ind Prod, and Wealth Index. While doing this, I discovered a problem with the Wealth Index mods and changed that to work better.

I added the names for the 53 systems of the Capitis district (Jova province), but I'm concerned the names don't have enough variety. I have a large pool of Hindu names with some others mixed in. It's perfectly fine to have mostly Hindu names of course, but it might be better to have a wider variety as well. Not sure I'll change it though.

Also, each star system has a circle with the color of the star. However, if the map is printed in Black & White, you won't be able to see these colors. I could put a fill pattern in each as well, but I'm worried that might look bad (especially in color). Not sure how I want to do this . . .

As I mentioned yesterday, I need to figure a way for the stars to show the type in case the map is printed in black and white. So, I looked a different fill patterns but none of them looked right. I ended up using the actual letter for the star (ie: M, K, etc.) and put that inside the circle or the star. Frankly, I'm not happy with this solution, but I'm really not sure what else to do. :-(

I finished assigning stars to the Capitis district last night. It's a very time consuming which begs the question whether its too much of a hassle for the regular player. Of course, a GM may not be doing it for an entire district or province, etc.. However, it's already made me question the validity of doing trade routes which depend on going through all the planets and moons to find the highest level starport for that system. Of course, I could do trade routes differently or just not do them at all since their really aren't that necessary. Once again I'll have to "think about it." ;-)

I've been doing a sample system, including all profile values. It's given me some valuable data that, among other things, shows me some changes I need to make. For example, the Wealth Index is still very out of wack. I got a planet with a 10 for industrial production but with a wealth index of zero. So, I'm going to look at that too.

I think it's becoming obvious to me that I need to drop the Wealth Index. It's just not working very well or constantly. With that in mind, I also will need to rework the commodities (supply/demand, and prices). Also, I've pretty much decided not to have trade routes: in several games (like Elite), there are no routes and frankly they just aren't that necessary.

Sigh. The more I test the Raw Materials and Ag/Ind Prod stuff, the more I come to the conclusion that it's a terrible mess. I may have to just chuck the whole thing if I can't get it to balance right.

Good news and Bad news: the bad news is that I've abandoned the whole Raw Materials, Ag/Ind Prod, and Wealth Index process, which means I've wasted a lot of time on it. The good news is that I've replaced it with a much simplified version involving trade modifiers. I had worked so hard on my idea because I wanted something original but I just couldn't get it to work inconsistently. The new system isn't very original, but I know it will work.

I've completed two practice star systems for the Jova province. I'm not doing the whole province, but I want to have at least one or two samples to include in the rules (including the one with Aldorus since that's the capital).

After getting a second opinion from a friend, I've decided not to have letters or symbols for the stars on my map. I was concerned that the different stars wouldn't appear different enough in black&white. However, after talking to my friend, it seems that there is enough shading difference to make it work. This will keep the map from looking to "busy" with letters or symbols. Also, there will be another table showing the type of star anyway, so it's not really necessary to have it on the map as well.

I worked a little bit on the second district for Jova, including the different stars and their names. I noticed something I did incorrectly for the Capitis district so I need to go back and fix that as well. Basically, I had too many M class stars so I will change some of them to different classes.

I was reading my bio page on the website. I wrote it in September and at the end I say I hope to have the game ready by December. Well, it's the middle of December now and I'm no where near done. :-o On the other hand, I only have another chapter and a half to go, but it's taking longer and longer to get it done. At the moment, I think the most realistic estimate would be summer 2008 before I'm ready, but we'll see.

Over the weekend I largely completed the second district for Jova (although I still haven't settled on a name for the district itself). I plan to add the image to the wiki along with info on star systems. I will add an image of the big Imperium map as well.

Okay, so now I have a name: Kurai, which is japanese for "nobility". Also, I counted up all the stars (both primary, secondary, and tertiary) and there are 170 total stars in the Jova province. Hurray!

I'm done with Jova now and so I need to turn my attention to finishing out the Star System chapter. The main thing left are the commodity/trade rules which should be just a few pages long. However, I still need to wrap up the Jova content to make it nice and clean and understandable. :-)

Although I was gone part of the last week for the Christmas holiday, I did get some work done. I had added the Imperium map to the rules, but I was unhappy with how it looked. Yesterday, I added a lot more to the map (surrounding countries and the Magna Supremacy) and now I'm a lot happier. I also put descriptions into the rules for the different regions, etc. Next, I plan to include the Jova province info.

I redid the Imperium crest in photoshop, again using the 5 arrow motif. I then redid the header in the rules by including the new crest and redoing the lettering. It looks a lot better now. Yesterday, I added the Jova province info. Now, I need to add the Aldin star system info, and then do the commodities/trade section. Once that's done, I'll be finished with the chapter.

I've been trying to think of a prose piece for the beginning of the Star System chapter. I had written one already but it doesn't really go well with the chapter, so I may move that prose to the next chapter.

I've made a large update to the wiki, adding the info on star systems and their creation. I included the Imperium main map and the one for the Jova Province.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Imperium Map - Complete

Here's the Imperium and the surrounding space. I decided to add the other neighboring countries/empires as well as regions.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jova - Complete

Okay, here's the complete Jova province. I elected not to include things like trade routes in the game so they're not on the map. Same goes for other symbols used in other sci-fi games, such as Traveller. The goal was to make it attractive, functional, and simple.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Jova Province (WIP)

Here’s the current work-in-progress for the Jova Province. I mentioned it in the game diary, but I wanted to post the actual image here. It’s only about half done: I’ve completed the Capitis district, but I need to add trade routes and finish the other district.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Game Diary Summary - November

I made a post on another website for my game, and got a few hits on my site from it. So, at least a few people took the time to take a look. ;-)

Over the weekend I made a good start on the planet's section (ie: planet stats). I outlined what each stat represents and then I created a graphic to show how the stats are presented in the system profile. I'm a little stumped on figuring out the size of moons for the planets. Since the moons cannot be larger than the parent planet, I must either figure a way to make the moons smaller than the parent by either rolling on the planet size table or by having a different size table for moons.

I over came the moon-size issue, and got as far as atmospheres last night. However, I need to redo that graphic I mentioned in the previous post. Although it looked okay at first, now it looks like crap. I'll probably have to redo it from scratch. *Sigh*

I'm happy with what I got done yesterday: I got as far as the governments, including descriptions for each one.

I worked on the Law Level section. I'm following the basic d20 rules for licenses (restricted, military, etc.) and tying them into the level of law enforcement on a planet. For example, more restrictive governments will outlaw military licensed items, whether the characters have a permit or not. Also, I'm combining this with additional info like how much police enforcement takes place, ID checks, etc.

I've completed the different tables for the planet profiles, although I may need to add one or two others for modifiers. I just need to add them into the rules themselves which I will try to do tonight and this weekend. Really happy with the progress I've been making lately.

I got a lot done over the weekend, but of course I couldn't gotten more done. I completed the carts up until the Starports. After that, I'll turn to commodities/trade, which is the other big part of this chapter.

I've been going over commodities, and I'm wondering if I need to simplify some of the later planetary profile values. Right now I have Raw Materials, Agricultural Production, Industrial Production, and Wealth Index. Each has a number between 0 and 10, with the original belief that this would impact trade (supply and demand). However, this maybe be too complicated so I need to think more about it . . .

I think I have a handle on commodities now, although it's going to be a chore to test it all. Also, I'd like to incorporate random events which will impact quantities and prices: otherwise, these will be too static instead of changing from time to time.

No, I'm wrong. I need to work more on it (the commodities). Once I started doing some rudementary tests, the system fell apart. :-(

Okay, I'm cautiously optimistic that I've gotten the commodities working now, and I also added random events and their descriptions. Now, I need to do more experimentation with both systems and planets, and then see how well it works with the commodities, etc.

I haven't had a chance to do too much the last couple of days, but I should be able to work on the game tonight. I did look at some images on the Daz3d website to get some ideas for additional creatures for the Encounters chapter however.

Tonight and during some of the weekend, I plan to test the whole system creation process (as mentioned in my previous post). I just haven't had a chance to do it yet.

I did a lot of testing over the weekend, and found a few things I need to evaluate. The main issue are the trade related stats (raw materials, ag production, ind production, and wealth index). Also, I need to look at the modifiers, because they seems a little harsh. One interesting thing I found was that, even in a system without many planets, the moons for the gas giants were able to support life as well, acting as mini-planets in their own right.

For commodities, I've been debating about the base quantity available versus needed. Even if I use the same number for both as the base, the actual result will depend a lot on an individual planet/moon. I'm still not sure I want to use the same base number for both, but I'll do some testing and see how it works out in practice.

I made more adjustments and did more testing last night. I found that raw materials were a little too frequent, so I changed that slightly. I'll try to do more testing tonight if I can.

Perhaps I'm getting old, but sometimes I see the results of a decision I made a week or more ago and now I can't remember why I picked that choice or what I based it on. In this case, I have the GM roll a 1d8 for the size of a planet instead of the 1d10 he rolls for all the other stats. I'll need to look at this more, but I believe it was just an oversight. It would be better to have them consistent (ie: everything roll 1d10).

During the Thanksgiving holiday, I mostly worked on a map of the Imperium. Basically, I took a map of a real country (in this case, China), flipped it upside down in Photoshop and then traced the borders, including provinces. I had to modify some of the borders so they would work better, and then added color and a hex background for scale. It came out pretty good and it was the correct size that I had envisioned.

I decided not to use sectors and subsectors, which is what the Traveller games (among others) use. I decided I wanted something more "organic" looking. That's why I used the map above with the provinces, both of which give a very organic look. I may go back and follow hex sides for the borders instead of the lines that are currently used. I'm not sure if I want that, however, a) because it would remove some of the organic feel, and b) it would be a real pain to do. ;-)

Well, I tried to use the hex sides last night a couple of times and it was a serious pain. However, I just thought of another message to do it, so I'll try that tonight. Even so, doing the entire Imperium map would be very challenging and time consuming.

I had wanted to have the map organized by region/province/district, but I wasn't sure about the regions. Then it came to me last night in bed that I used to talk about Core and Rim regions (plus a middle one which I forget), so I'll use that. I will group the provinces that way.

Last night I worked on the province in which Aldorus, the capital planet lies. I don't have a name for the province, or the two districts within it, but I'll figure that out later. Meanwhile, I did roll to see which hexes had star systems (a total of 92). Btw, the three regions of the Imperium are Imperium Core, Middle Rim, and Frontier Worlds. Using the main map, I made a rough outline of how many provinces are in each region.

I decided on the 26 province names, including the one for Aldorus (called Jova). I also updated the main map to include the region names and then numbers for each province (which will refer to a list of the names).

I've been working on Jova: first I rolled 1d20 for each hex to see which ones held star. Since there were over a 100 hexes, that took forever. So, I decided to add formulas to an excel sheet, which allowed me to create as many random numbers (which is what the die roll is) as I wanted within the range I wanted (1 to 20). I then added some additional sophistication to the process by adding some more complicated formulas. Anyway, long story short: it allows me to work much faster. Of course, it would be even faster if I had a computer program to do the whole thing, but this works for me and my lack of programming skills. ;-)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Imperium Map

I created a space map of the Imperium. I wrote about it in my November game diary (11/26), but I wanted to post an image of it here (or at least a version of it). This image is much smaller than the original, and I had to save it as a jpeg to display it on the blog. In short, it looks better than this. ;-)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Game Diary Summary - October

I'm basically done with the combat section of starships. I need to add the drones and a few other things and then I'll be done with the starships chapter. Over the weekend, I also worked some more on the abilities to reformat them and reorganize. Last week, I did some of art work for the game, including new design for the Tshirts. I got one in the mail and it looks pretty good.

Before I start on the next chapter, I'd like to go back and tidy up some loose ends in some of the previous chapters. The next chapter, btw, will be about creating planets and star systems, as well as info on interstellar trade.

Last night I finished reorganizing the majority of psionic abilities. I just need to go back and redo the prerequisites for each. I would also like to add some additional starship related abilities.

I worked some more on psionic abilities, and reviewed some notes for the next chapter on planet creation. I had dinner with my sister who's been studying graphic arts. I've looked at her work and I've been impressed. I suggested that she do the cover of the rule book and she seemed interested.

I continued research on the planets chapter, specifically star system creation. I don't want it too complex but I also want to keep it believable.

My sister sent me a draft image to look at. It looks pretty good.

I've been thinking about the planet stats. I'm using a system similar to Traveller, namely the UWP (Universal World Profile), except with different stats. For example, I'm not having a government value and I'm going to have three additional stats: Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Industry. These last three will impact the kinds of products that will be available or needed for trade. I'm also thinking about adding a Wealth index as well, again as an impact on trade.

While i was lying in bed Friday night, I thought of some prose for the beginning of the Planet chapter. However, since I didn't write it down, I'm not quite sure I'll be able to write it down now. :-( Such are the perils of the creative process.

I worked on that prose yesterday and I think it's done (after several drafts). I also went through my To Do List and completed some of the items there.

I've written nearly 20 new starship related abilities, although I still need to add them to the rules.

Last night I added the new abilities to the rules.

This evening, I added the last three ships to the starships chapter. I still have a little bit more to do with that chapter before I'm done (finally) with it.

I've decided to go ahead and add the government as one of the planet stats. Although the Imperium is the main government, each planet can have a local govt so i need to reflect that in the stats. I'm also using the stats differently than how Traveller used it. I'm really using the "UWP" as a snapshot of a system, which is why I'm calling it the System Profile instead of UWP. It's only supposed to give some very basic stats which the GM would then flesh out with individual descriptions for each system and the planets therein.

Over the weekend I added drones to the starship examples and also added the descriptions for the last three ships i added on 10/10.

I have this week off, so today I've been sitting at my desk working on the star system data. Again, I'm trying to make it playable but still believable. I've been having some hair pulling moments, but I'm slowly slugging it out.

Thunderstorms have kept me off the computer much of today, but I did manage to add some stuff for the planet chapter. It's actually text I wrote more than a year ago during a previous attempt at writing these rules. However, now that I add this to the rules, I see how much my writing has degraded over the years. Maybe I'm just in a lull but it seems like my ability to write has gone down hill as I've gotten older. They say that the 30s are the peek of a person's cognitive abilities, but I'm already at the end of that time, pushing 40. :-(

I looked at what I had put in yesterday (from my young days) and didn't like it. ;-) So, I mostly redid it and made it more readable and less dry. I think I'm happier with what I did today (which is good)!

Today I worked more on the calculations for stars and their respective orbits. I made a few changes, but I'd like to do a little more experimentation. Of course, it would help if I didn't suck at math. Grrrr.

After a week vacation, I'm back to my day job. This means I only have time to work on the game in the evening, if I'm not too tired to think. ;-)

10/26/2007 I was able to work a little on the rules this week, but not a lot. I started getting into the star system creation part, but that's about it.

Although I had some frustrations on Saturday, I was still able to get work done. On Sunday, I had no such problems and got a lot done. All in all, I've completed the star sections of the system construction rules. I still need to get down to the more detailed planet rules.

Couple of things: I think I'll rename Chapter 9 to Star Systems instead of Planets since that better describes what's included. Also, I've been looking at the index for the game and I really think I need to add more creatures to Chapter 6. There just doesn't seem like very many there, although I had thought I'd release an expansion later with more creatures . . .

I put an updated post on the Pen&Paper forums yesterday, just to show that I'm still working on the game, etc. The previous post was way back in March, which surprised me. It's amazing how fast these past months have gone by.

For the system creation rules, and the rules for creating each planet, I've attempted to make sure things are in a logical progression. In other words, stats found in Step A will modify what's in Step B, etc. That may sound obvious, but I've seen some rules elsewhere that jumps around a lot, which can be very confusing in a complex process.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Chapter Prose

I've been adding some short prose at the beginning of each chapter in my game rules, to add some flavor so to speak. I'm not sure which chapter it will go with, but here is one of the prose pieces I wrote:

High in the Palatine Mountains, the walls of a monastery protruded from the jagged crags of granite and shale. Within these walls, Dahl monks walked along the stone floors, exchanging telepathic greetings as they passed in the candle-lit halls. They had studied the art of mind magic for centuries in the sanctuary of the mountain cliffs, isolated from the rest of Aldorus. On one occasion, however, a man braved the treacherous ravines until he reached the weather-beaten entrance. He knocked on the wooden door. Slowly, the door opened a crack and the pale face of a Dahl peered out. "I've come to learn the secrets of psionics!" the man said proudly. The Dahl looked at the man up and down. "No Humans allowed!" he said and slammed the door in the man's face. The Human, his dreams of learning mind magic gone, plotted his revenge . . .

Monday, October 01, 2007

Game Diary Summary - September

I was out of town much of the Labor Day weekend, but yesterday I was able to complete the remaining three warships and add them to the rules. I still have maybe 3 more ships to do but at least that's almost done. I still need to write the combat rules, but at least that will be fairly straightforward (I hope).

I've added three new ships: Rogue Smuggler, Daemon Raider, and a Shuttle. I've also redone the accomodations again (ie: how many additional passangers can be carried). Increased it to be more playable, but sacrificed realism some what.

I added starships to the wiki. I also reviewed and updated the stuff for starship combat that I had already written previously. I'm hoping to add that to the rules this weekend and then continue on with that section. Also, I added software info into the notes which i also need to add to the rules.

I added what I had done with combat to the rules, but when I tried to do more, I got frustrated and stuck: I hadn't been specific enough with my notes. I wasn't happy about it and kinda stressed. I also worked on redoing the game stuff on the website: i want to focus the site more on the game now instead of my graphic stories. However, I'm still deciding how to do that.

I went back over the combat section and redid a little bit to make it flow better and make more sense. I still have more to go though. ;-)

I've been very busy at my day job this week (and probably this weekend) so I haven't done much on the game.

Worked overtime all weekend (for my day job). However, I did manage to redo the front page and the game page for the website. Looks "better" now I hope.

This week i've been working more long hours but that should be over now (I hope) so I can return to working on the game this weekend.

After over a week of not being able to work on the rules (due to my day job schedule), I was able to make good progress over the weekend. I finished the section on unguided (direct) weapons and get a good chunk of the guided weapons section done. The guided weapons are fairly complicated to implement so I need to be careful I explain it clearly.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Game Diary Summary - August

I hadn't worked on the game for a few days but last night i was able to add the weapons and missile tables. I've decided to slightly change how missiles work by adding a Tracking value. Basically, once the enemy is found using radar, the missile operator has to maintain a lock by rolling the Track number. I can also add abilities that will give bonuses to the roll.

I was out of town most of the weekend, but I managed to create two new tables (shields and armor) last night. Now that I've added the "tracking" value for missiles and radar, I thought about changing the radar table to include more types; however, i may leave it be for now and add those later if deemed necessary. I'm very much aware of all the time this is taking and all that's left to do.

I wrote some prose to go at the beginning of the starships chapter. It relates to the Prologue of the Alexander the Prince story. I'd like to add prose to the beginning of each chapter: this is pretty standard on many roleplaying games.

After adding the Tracking stat, i need to clarify it since you need to use separate track both radar guided and heat seeking missiles. It's not hard, but I need to make sure I don't miss something.

I'm trying to rework the radar/heat signature and how all that works with missiles. I want to reduce complexity but maintain variety.

I completed all the charts for starship construction except software. I still need to go through and recheck everything but I should be able to work on the Examples section this weekend if i have time.

I worked some on starship software: it's a little different than robot software since starships don't have skills. Basically, starship software will simply be various "abilities" to improve component functions: for example, increase targeting or radar range, etc.

Started work on the starship examples section; trying to organize how the stats will be shown. Also, the examples themselves will be organized in groups: civilian, military, pirate, and drones

For examples, starships need to have their stats displayed, but I'm not happy with anything I've come up with. It needs to look organized and logical, but easy to find the info you need. Also, I need to create more starships to fill out the different sections (see previous post).

I didn't include anything on crew and accomodations (other than the minimum crew), so now I'm totally lost about what to do if the designer wants additional people on the ship (ie: staterooms). If i use slots, you really don't get very many staterooms unless i make them small slots and that doesn't make sense.

Okay, I came up with something but it's not idea: basically, you can use medium slots which act as a multiplier of the min. crew number, based on whether the accomodations are cramped, standard, or luxurious. Hopefully this will work.

Over the weekend I finalized how I'm going to show the stats for each starship and I also created another freighter. I noticed, however, that I need to look at the STL again: basically the premise of having only a STL engine instead of a FTL engine is size and fuel requirements. Right now I don't think there's enough reason to pick a STL over FTL.

I've three ships to the rules including stats. It's actually kind of time consuming to add the info from my spread sheet into the game, but I'm plugging away at it. I've also written descriptions for some of the ships. Speaking of which, for some of the ship names, I think I'll need to change them. I had used some standard animals names, but I think it would be more immersive if I create made-up names and then describe what they mean. In other words, name them after an animal and describe that animal.

I renamed several ships: I used the original names and then looked for foreign (non-English) words that related to the original. Then I wrote prose describing the "animal". For example, one ship was called the Albatross so I did a search on the word float. I found the Japanese word Kassou and wrote the following description: "The Kassou is a flying reptile with a wingspan of nearly 3 meters. It glides along pockets of hot air raising above the Devil's Oven region of Aldorus and, except for mating and laying eggs, spends its entire life airborne." I tacked that prose to the end of the ship's description to give it more depth.

Also yesterday, I added three more ship stats to the rules.

I created descriptions for all the of the ships I currently have complete.

I created a new cruiser (Duchess Class), but I have two concerns: the cruiser only had essentially one additional weapon compared to a destroyer which is quite a bit smaller (although the cruiser also had a drone bay). This leads me to my other concern: I think the larger ships have too many hit points, which combined with not having that many more weapons, will cause combat to take forever. I'm thinking about combining some of the smaller sizes (having two hulls instead of four) so that I can have a smaller increase in hit points. I need to do some combat testing first before I'll really know for sure.

Btw, the Duchess Class raised a design issue: is it better to have a ship with more fixed weapons (which are smaller) or fewer turreted weapons (which take up more space)?

Yesterday I created three more warships including the Overlord Class Juggernaut (the ship Tagus III had in my graphic novel).

I'm redoing some of the weapons to include larger ones for big ships. This means, however, that I'll need to go back and see which of my pre-existing ships are impacted or not. I still need to revisit the hit points issue as well.

Okay, for V. Small, Small, and Medium, I've cut the number of hulls from four to two. I've also reduced the Hit Points for Hulls Large, V. Large, and Huge. With the new weapons, I think the hit points are more sane now. We'll see during testing.

Yesterday I redid the weapons on the ships to reflect the new heavy weapon sizes. I'm also working on the missiles table to reflect anti-missile attacks.

Last night I updated the rules and tables for the missile and weapon changes.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Game Diary Summary - July

I haven't done a lot with the game the last few days: I started writing the actual rules, but that's about it. Kind of feeling burned out at the moment, although I know I will get a second wind soon.

My creative juices have returned and I've been able to write some starship rules. In many ways, it's a carbon copy of the robots chapter so that helps guide me a lot.

Good progress over the weekend, although I was too busy with work yesterday to do anything.

More progress: I'm more than 2/3rds done with the starship construction part of the rules, although I still have the starship combat section to do. I also decided to add a short section at the beginning of the chapter talking about getting a starship and a quick primer on FTL jumps, etc.

I created drone examples: both combat and scout (light, medium, heavy = 5, 10, & 15 tons respectively). I also wrote some brief rules.

I need to rewrite the Drone skill somewhat to reflect how I implemented drone. Case in point, there's no astroid mining (at least not yet), so there's no mining drones.

While was working on the rules last night, I came across some documentation I had written for an earlier version of the game. I had totally forgotten about it, but this will be somewhat helpful (ie: save time) since that text has already been written.

As for the rules, I'm nearly done with the construction section. Still need to add the construction examples, the combat section, and the introductory section. Yes, a lot to do!

I'm having a little internal debate about using the term "Mach" for spacecraft speed. Since Mach is the speed of sound and there's no sound in space, this may raise eyebrows. I could simply call it "squares of movement" (ie: the ship has a speed of 6, meaning it can go 6 squares per round). Not sure.

I think I'm moving the Agility (AGI) value under thrusters instead of hull sizes. If I use the defense formula d20+AGI Mod+Size Mod (which imitates the regular def formula of d20+DEX Mod+Size Mod), then the defender would get a double bonus (both related to its hull size).

I wrote quite a bit for the beginning section of the chapter, detailing interstellar travel options and getting your own ship.

For one of my To Do items, I have "create more Psi abilities." However, I think I'll do the opposite: currently there are 36 combat abilities and nearly 80 psi abilities. This would be fine if psi was a major part of Imperium lore. However, it isn't which makes the number of abilities very lopsided. So, I'm going to combine several Psi abilities (like lesser and greater clairvoyance), which would reduce the total number down to around 50 or so. I still need to add additional non-combat and non-psi abilities, which should even things out better.

I was out of town over the weekend so I wasn't able to do any work on the game. However, last night I did add in the stuff for the first part of the starships chapter that I had written last week. That takes care of most if not all of the first part of the chapter. The middle part (starship construction) is roughly 75% done. I need to finish up construction, add the examples (most of which are done), and then add the combat section (which should be pretty straight forward).

I've started to outline the combat section: this is more about how I want to organize the info more than actually creating the info.

I updated the wiki to include information from the Introduction and chapter 1: Characters. I'm including general info without any specifics. As rule of thumb, if the info has actual numbers (stats) then I don't include it on the wiki. I don't want to include too much info otherwise there won't be any reason to buy the rules themselves.

I began writing the rules for combat based on an outline I made last week.

I've also started to redo some of the Psi abilities now that I've decided to remove some of them. Lastly, I've started looking at the races section of the character chapter in an effort to make them more informative: specifically, the strengths and weaknesses of each race.

I started creating the tables for the starship construction section. This is very time consuming, but i'm working my way through it.

While working on the weapons tables for starships, i decided that there needs to be more weapons that cause kinetic damage. Currently there are only two, so I need to add more (maybe another 2). I thought about adding artillery (guns) but they would only have explosive damage so that wouldn't really help (although I might still add it for variety).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

New Banner!

I’ve updated the website with a new title and nav banner. The old one was pretty lame so I’m hoping the new one looks better. My overall goal is to redo the whole site or at least the home page so it looks more professional. Unfortunately, I’m not a professional web designer so whatever I come up with tends to look amateurish. I’m also too cheap to have a professional do it since I don’t get any money from the site anyway. Sigh.

Of course my main goal is to finish the role playing game and try to sell that from my site (among other places). Not sure how much, if anything, will come of that, but I’d like to at least try to make money from what I enjoy doing. ;-)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Bundle of Arrows

I was watching Pan’s Labyrinth over the weekend and spotted a symbol on one of the cars: a bundle of five arrows. This perked my interest because I’ve used a bundle of five arrows to symbolize the five royal families (on the Imperium flag). So today I did some research and found some interesting information about it: the symbol on the car in the movie was the so called “yoke and arrows” which was used by the fascists during and after the Spanish Civil war. At this point I grew a little concerned since I didn’t really want the five families to be associated with Fascism. However, I did some additional digging and found that the fascists had taken the symbol from the so-called Catholic Monarchs of Spain. This made me happier since of course the five families are royalty.

So what’s interesting here is that when I first created the symbol for the five families, I don’t think I had any previous knowledge of how this symbol was used in Spain. Yet, I discovered that indeed it had been used, in a very similar fashion as I had done. Not sure what any of this means, but I think it’s interesting.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Game Diary Summary - June

Made progress over the weekend: although I had some writers block Saturday morning. Still, I was able to get some stuff done at least.

I wrote up description of two megacorporations (for factions section): MoFoCo and Warlock Industries. Also, started some notes on vehicle maneuvers.

I added the two new factions (see previous) to the rules. I also wrote text for shells and armor (which I didn't get done last night due to waining self confidence).

I stumbled across Google Books today which might be a way to improve visibilty for the game once it's published. Just a thought since it's free!

Since the next chapter is about starships, I've been revisiting my thoughts on that. Today I was playing around with speeds: and I may go with using mach numbers. Don't want to go into detail, but basically mach 1 would equal 1 space square (1,500 m) per round. Starships speeds would around mach 5-15. This is not exact (1 mach is greater in m/sec per round) but it's close enough to be clean and convenient.

I've written up rules for Shells, Armor, Weapons, and Force Fields which I just need to add to the actual rules document itself (not just the Google scratch document I've been using). Basically, for each chapter I've been using a Google spreadsheet for raw data and tables, and a Google Doc for text. This allows me to access these files wherever I am, and then add them into the rules document when I'm at home.

I put my notes into the main rules last night, but I'm still not satisfied with the armor section. I'm thinking I'll go back my original plan of having diff. thicknesses to keep it simple. I hate being indecisive, but I want to make it right.

So, I went back to the "thickness model" and I'm going to stick with that (until I change my mind again). ;-)

I started assembling the actual robot stats (similar to creatures) that can drop into the rules (hopefully soon).

Friday night and Sunday, I made good progress on the rules. I even rendered three images for the different robots. I also added this game diary to my regular blog (one post per month w/ all the stuff from that month). Since I doubt people really see this diary, I wanted to give it greater visibility (for the few more people that read the blog).

I wrote and added a robot design example to the rules last night. However, I still need to add costs as well.

Yesterday I created stats for some of the nonstandard weapons (ie: blow torch, arc welder, nail gun). I'm putting their stats as part of the device desc, instead of in the weapons section since they aren't technically weapons.

The robot chapter is nearly done: only the section listing rogue robots and their stats, and maybe a few loose ends to complete. The next chapter will have spaceships and space combat. I intend to take some of lessons I've learned (components, etc) for robots and use it for starships.

I updated the wiki to include some of the robot examples. I'll add pictures once I've reduced the resolution of the ones in the rulebook.

I reviewed my previous starship notes, and added some to my online doc. I had a bunch of notes on scrap paper, so i needed to transfer some of that to my google docs.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to do that FTL fuel: whether to have takes based on slot sizes or not. I woke up at 5:30 this morning thinking about it and couldn't fall back to sleep. :-(

I've made significant progress today w/ some of the starship data.

Continued with creating data for starships: mostly worked on weapons today. Trying to figure out how I want to do hit dice since I don't want to give starships actual XP levels.

I'm really struggling with the hit dice (hit points) issue: trying to balance the small ships with the large ships is difficult. Either the small ones are too weak or the large ones are too stong (too many hit points).

For now I've settled on the hit points. I'll see how it goes when I start doing some testing later. Meanwhile, I've also filled in lots of data so I'm happy with how things are going. I'll be gone this weekend, so I won't be able to work on the game.

Although I didn't work directly on the game over the weekend, I did think of some things during our long periods of driving. For one thing, I decided to go with actual fuel consumption rates instead of having a set number of days of FTL travel. In other words, instead of having a built-in 5 days of travel per engine, I'm having a rate (mtons of fuel per light-year). This will allow for having actual fuel tanks that are separate from the engines. This will require using additional slots however.

I've been all about missiles today: figuring out how they will work in combat. I've been going back and forth a bit, but basically there will be guided or self-guided using radar and/or IR.

Created 3 practice ships: after the second one, I changed the # of slots (increased them). While I was doing that, I discovered a huge mistake in the robot's chapter (forgot to actually list how much EPs each power plant produces!!). That was embarrassing.

I turned one of the sample ships from yesterday into a gunboat. However, I'm still concerned that I'm not allowing for enough slots per hull because they're at a premium when I do a design: there isn't any space for additional stuff like extra staterooms, etc.

I created another fighter, this one 50 tons. I'm a little more confident about the slot situation. I also added a few more components: drone bays and hangers. I also filled in data for countermeasures like flares and chaff.

As I make practice ships, I find new things I need to adjust in the stats. This is good but of course then I have to go back and change the practice ships. ;-) Today I made a fuel tanker that provides fuel to military ships that don't have fuel scoops themselves (or streamlining to get their own fuel). Later, after yet more adjustments, I created a pirate raider.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Game Diary Summary - May

5/31/2007 I created two new robots (HK-1 and HK-2) which are a hunter/killer team: the first is the scout and the other is the killer.

5/30/2007 I completed most of the tables for robots, which is not really hard but kinda busy work. I showed off a draft copy of the whole rules to some of my coworkers: they said it looked like a lot of work and that I had too much time on my hands. ;-)

5/29/2007 Over the holiday i made good progress on the rules, incorporating the changes I had made. I also formatted some of the tables and added those into the rules. I need to also add an Example section that steps the reader through the building process (for robots).

5/25/2007 Yesterday I created another two robots: a PAbot (for personal assistant) like Cornelius, Prince Richard's robot; and the Interpeterbot like the spy used by the Magna Embassador.

I just reread my game diary for the last month (concerning the Robots chapter): it's interesting how much this chapter has evolved over the last month.

5/24/2007 I've started to rewrite the robot rules to reflect the changes I made. I can keep most of what I've already done, so I don't think I'll lose too much time doing this. Yesterday, I also created a sweeperbot (the same one that appeared in Ch1 of Alexander the Prince) and a GenBot (which appeared in several different chapters (including Ch1).

5/23/2007 Using the changes I made to robots, I created a medical and attack bot. I'm fairly happy with the outcome so I might go with the current rules. As for my suggestion of changing some stuff in the Encounters chapter, after rereading the chapter, I'm going to just leave things the way they are. At this point, changing stuff might do more harm than good.

5/22/2007 I'm back from my vacation and I used the long drive times to think about the game. I decided to do some consolidation in the Encounter section to make the species more relevant. For robots, I added Attributes directly to the chassis table, with some attributes modified by controller, shell, arms, and hands. Also, I've changed the armor section to be more consistant with the armor in the Gear chapter.

Currently I'm using a cost multiplier (of the base chassis cost) instead of set prices. However, for components that don't actually change in size/power for different chassis sizes, it's not very fair to charge more for larger robots. I will probably have to go with flat prices per component.

5/16/2007 With the new robot system, the biggest stumbling block is the allocation of the slots: how many hi, lo, and average slots the player gets. The total number is easy, but dividing them up is proving hard for me. I think instead of having a set number of slots, I'm going to start with a base number of slots and allow the player to divide up them between hi, lo, and av; but with the max hi slots depending on PP.

I've been making more tweaks: Instead of slots only known by their power, I've changed it to have slots by sizes (small, med, large) and then the player needs to power those slots (if necessary). I'm going back to using EPs, but in a much simpler way (again using lo, av, and hi power that cost 1, 2, and 3 EPs respectively). I've been doing some more tests and so far it's promising. I hope I don't find something that ruins my day.

5/15/2007 Okay, I decided that my original robot design simply isn't working the way I want: it's just too complicated and anything that has too much math cannot be good. J/K. However, I struck on an idea I had for starships (borrowed from Eve Online) involving low, average, and high energy slots. I'm going to play with that and see if it works better. I'll be out of town Thur through Monday so I'll have some time to contemplate what I want to do.

I've been able to essentially redo everything already and I'm pretty happy with the result: it's much more simple, but still allows for great variety.

5/14/2007 Started working on weapons: going to have set CP across sizes since the weapon doesn't get bigger on larger sized robots. Debated about doing this for other components; will likely redo sensors and comm.

After making the changes above, and reducing the EP output of the reactors, I went back at the three practice robots and I'm happier with the result. Of course, I need to do more testing, especially for military bots.

I ended up recalculating the Drive Train values also. Trying not to get depressed . . .

5/12/2007 After redoing some of the CPs for some of the components, I decided I needed to change the total number of CPs per chassis (up by 25%). I may now look at reducing the EP capacity by 25% but i need to run some more tests first. Keep in mind that I was using the old values to determine the CP costs for each individual component.

5/11/2007 I completed most of the EP numbers and now I'm done enough that I can actually start creating robot builds. To that end, this morning I started to create the little robot from Alexander the Prince. During this process, I made changes to the CPs for Standard/Positronic/Gravitronic CPUs.

My first impressions are that CPs seem a little low and EPs seem a little high. I may need to adjust them accordingly.

5/8/2007 Today I'd like to write up some notes on communications and sensors for robots: there will be a default and enhanced version, plus additional ones for greater capabilities.

5/7/2007 Got some more done on robots over the weekend (controllers). At this rate, however, I doubt i'll be able to publish the rules by the Fall as I had hoped: I'm just taking way too much time to get things done (and I have no one to blame but myself, or perhaps the makers of LOTRO)

5/4/2007 I wrote alittle about the Robot Freedom League and what could be described as an underground railroad for runaway robots.

5/2/2007 I'm struggling with what i want to do with robot programs. I want to make it fairly straight forward, but I also want to give the game flexibility.

Need to add rules for changing out robot components (cybernetics roll)

5/1/2007 I updated the Wiki to include Factions & Reputation, and the overview of robots. Sunday, I wrote more about controllers, end effectors, and arms. For controllers, there;'s still a lot of details to do, like stats on hacking and operations: might include set "programs" that a robot can run with a particular cpu.

Game Diary Summary - April

4/24/2007 I need to update the Wiki to include some of this robot info (and also some faction info from the previous chapter). I haven't updated the wiki lately (although I'm not sure if anyone actually reads it or not). ;-)

I removed the Imperium faction from the rules, but I'm having second thoughts. Having a low Imp faction might mean characters cannot get a starship loan.

4/23/2007 Over the weekend, I added into the rules what I had completed so far for robots. I also started putting in some of the tables. It's a little tricky because there's a lot that needs to be included, including price. I'm trying to keep the tables simple without have too many extra tables if possible.

Starting to incorporate prices as well. Using a cost multiplier (of the chassis base price) for each component instead of having individual prices. This will make the tables cleaner and make things scale better.

4/20/2007 Wrote rules for chassis and drive trains. Happy with progress.

4/19/2007 I stayed off the computer last night, although I got a few minor things done during the day. I would like to start putting some of the info I've created into the rules soon but it might be until this weekend before that happens.

I wrote a lot more robots stats today (controllers, arms, hands, and power plants).

4/17/2007 I think I may modify Law Levels. Not sure if I'll get rid of them entirely or just combine them with something similar to the d20 system (restricted, military, and illegal items).

I've largely decided to eliminate the law level system and use the simpler system above. I wrote up my version of this (twice since Google docs crapped out on me after the first attempt). I will need to add this into the rules. Also, along with that I'm going to add the Streetwise skill that will help characters buy/sell items on the blackmarket (find a fence), etc.

4/16/2007 I worked on actual stats for chassis and drive trains. For Drive Trains, I played around with the numbers for awhile but came up with a general percentage of the total for space for a particular chassis.

I've been creating more robot stats today, but I just realized that I have a problem: do i have robots at different XP levels, like i do for creatures. The main reason to do this is to determine number of HPs. I was thinking about assigned HPs by chassis size, but now I'm not sure.

After thinking more, I decided that I will assign hit dice per chassis which will increase with level (just like creatures). This will give a more constant rule set then if i have something different for creatures and robots.

4/13/2007 Made a good start on Robots.

4/12/2007 To help get me out of the duldrums, I've decided to move on to the next chapter (Robots). The Encounters chapter is basically done and I can always go back and finish it up later.

I've been taking notes for the robot chapter. I wrote stuff for it a long time ago so I'm hopeful I can use some of that work. However, I've made a good start on what I did today.

4/11/2007 I worked a little last night, but not much. I'm having some creative problems at the moment: not able to create anything; my mind just doesn't seem to want to give anything. Rainy days aren't helping my mood either.

4/10/2007 I added Safe Fall skill to the rules. I also added Poison to Gear, although I need to add some examples.

The Encounter chapter is taking a long time. Partly because I've been playing LOTRO a lot over the last couple of weeks, but also there's just a lot to do for the chapter. Also, I've been backfilling stuff in previous chapters. In the case of the last two things, at least I'm making progress. As for playing LOTRO, we all have our addictions, I guess. ;-)

4/9/2007 Friday I was able to add section on Encounters. However, I will likely remove it since I don't think it works well.

I created two new mutants (giant scorpion and spitting beatle) and added desc for the three Void Spawn types. Also added affect of social class on faction standing. Wrote notes on Safe Fall skill.

4/6/2007 Created five new melee-related abilities. Wrote up rules for Poisons (for Gear chapter). Wrote up additional concequences for faction rating. Last night, wasn't able to work on computer at all due to problem with my leg (pinched nerve). This weekend, I'll be out of town for Easter, so I won't be able to work on game then either.

4/5/2007 I added Commerce to skills; redid the beginning of the abilities chapter to be more clear.

4/3/2007 Using my new ToDo List, I updated the rules with the new Racial resistance value, added racial traits (although I need to do more), and added sonic weapons. After I get our tax refund, I will feel more comfortable buying some more models from so I can do more renders for the creatures (like Jotun and Void Spawn).

4/2/2007 I didn't work on the game over the weekend. I was taking a break so I could play Lord of the Rings Online that just came out. Today I will make a To Do list for the misc things I need to get done (not the Big things like chapters, etc.).

Game Diary Summary - March

3/30/2007 I've taken some notes on poisons (and will add that to the Gear chapter). I also put in some stubs for some faction member examples. I decided to keep ones that I don't have examples for. However, i decided to remove the Fur Is Murder Bregades. I just didn't feel right about using them.

3/29/2007 Yesterday I put a posting (similar to the one on on another game forum (RPGnet). This time, I've gotten a lot more views, so I'm happy about that.

I wrote a few notes about Factions/Reputation, about agendas etc. I had written some notes about NPC motivations, and that got me thinking about how that relates to how factions work. Basically, a faction's agenda dictates its motivations/actions. Also, I'm very interested in the idea that there is no good or evil, just people with conflicting agendas, so I wrote a little about that too.

3/28/2007 Nothing done last night. I'll try again tonight.

3/27/2007 I started a section about NPCs at the end of Chapter 6, but not much else. I looked at the chapters I've done so far and it looks like I have 3-4 more chapters to go. The last chapter may be a sample adventure, or perhaps mission ideas.

3/26/2007 After a slow start, I got a lot done over the weekend. I added descriptions for the different types of Ghul and Jotuns, and then added those to the Wiki. I also added the section on Factions & Reputation, although I'm needing to fine tune that. I also added two new types of elemental resistance: acid and sonic. I wasn't sure about sonic, but it will allow me to add sonic weapons and maybe some creature attacks.

For factions, I will remove some of them and focus on the ones I will have examples for. I want to reduce my workload a little since things are taking a lot of time and I'd like to have a beta draft in another couple of months.

I need to add default racial traits such as Scent for Vogar and Aqute Hearing for the Akiak (and claw attacks).

At the end of the Encounters chapter, I think I'll add a section NonPlayer Characters and Notable NPCs.

3/22/2007 I created an entry for King Rats and put in some stubs for a few of the minor races. I will need to go back and fill those in.

3/21/2007 I added the creatures I have done so far to the wiki. I also took some notes for the Mutant section, identifying some creature ideas.

Over lunch, I had the bright idea of linking the creatures that appear in my stories from the wiki to the page of the story where they appear. For example, I liked the wiki info on the tubby wubbies to the page in Alexander the Prince where they first appear.

3/20/2007 Last night I added the XP information to the first chapter. I also added another creature to Chapter 6. As I was adding another creature, I realized that I wasn't calculating the Def mod correctly (which is impacted by two different tables, not just one). I'm a little concerned that the system I've created for creatures doesn't give enough variety. Not sure what I should do about that.

I would like to start organizing creatures in ranges of levels (ie: XP Level 1-5, 6-10, etc), referring to them as Tiers). I want to make sure that I'm not neglecting one tier over another (so there'll be a good selection of mobs per tier).

3/19/2007 Very good progress over the weekend: entered 8-9 creatures incl. 3 renders. Discovered I haven't yet included info on XP. Not sure how to proceed with that (where to put it).

3/15/2007 I wasn't able to work on the game last night since my eyes were all dilated from an eye appointment. However, I had done some work during the day so it wasn't a total loss. I had created a new creature idea called the Breeder that gives birth to young which it then throws at opponents. The young then attack the opponent. I also wrote some brief notes on the VoidSpawn, giving some background.

Btw, the posting I put on the Pen&Paper forum has gone largely unnoticed and unread. I will have to find other ways to raise awareness.

3/14/2007 I completed the wiki (as far as the current imperium databank stuff goes) and linked it to the main site. Now that I'm hopefully done procrastinating, I can indeed work on the rules.

3/13/2007 Made very good progress last night with Wiki. I'm mostly done with the skin and I created a new logo (based on the old Imperium Online logo). Of course, I need to stop working on the wiki and turn back to working on rules so I have something to actually put IN the wiki. ;-)

3/12/2007 I installed MediaWiki on Friday night. It's going to take me awhile though to see if it's going to work for me. It has its own markup language etc. -- I've taken a look at the markup and it's actually pretty straightforward. I did the About page, using links, etc. and it was pretty easy. ;-)

I didn't get as much done in the rules as I would've liked. However, I did start on the abilities.

I was playing around with the "skin" for wiki. I've made progress so I'm happy with it.
3/9/2007 I posted a message and link about the game on a pen&paper forum ( Don't know if it will increase awareness at all, but I guess it can't hurt.

3/8/2007 I was able to add the rework of attacks to the rules. It seems to look okay. I'm getting close to being able to start on creature examples; over the last several days I've created several sample ideas (although they're not fleshed out yet).

3/7/2007 I was too tired last night to work on the game. Hopefully tonight I'll have better luck.

Today I wrote some notes on the rework of attacks (see previous post). I think it works better so I'm happy with it. I'm thinking about adding so-called Minor races as their own category, perhaps under Factions. For example, some factions might be by minor race while others might be by organization, etc.

3/6/2007 I ran into a roadblock last night working on Attacks. It wasn't comprehensive or universal enough, so I tried to fix it but just got frustrated. Lying in bed, I came up with an idea that I'll try to flesh out today when I have time. Basically, I will split it up into "Attack Type" (Melee/Ranged) and "Weapon Type" (Natural/Manufactured).

3/5/2007 Over the weekend, I got a lot done for the Encounters chapter. I finished the species and then went on to hit dice and a couple of tables. Doesn't sound like much, but it took awhile to get done. However, I'm left with some feelings that it's not good enough. I think I'm just my usual insecurity.

On Friday I started creating some new sample creatures, including two "ironic" ones: the Fire Fox and the MicroSloth. The latter was actually suggested by Jeff, my boss, and then I ran with it (writing the desc etc.). However, I still have several more that I need to write.

The more I think about it, the more I think I'll fold the faction guys into the regular creatures. In other words, instead of having a separate section for playable race "creatures", I'm thinking I'll simply put them with everyone else. Of course, that also opens up whether I should do the same with robots also. Sigh. So many design decisions to make!

3/2/2007 Last night I finished redoing the species, although I still need to do Fungi and Exotic (which I forgot!). Also, I need to add stuff on creature's speed: I plan to divide them by size and speed (slow, average, fast) and by type of locomotion (wings, legs, fins, etc). I won't be going out of town this weekend, so I should hopefully get more stuff done.

On second thought, I decided (for speed) to just go by type of locomotion and speed (v. slow, slow, av, fast, v. fast) to simplify it. GM will need to decide if size of creature matters and incorporate that into the speed.

3/1/2007 Last night I started redoing the species section, but I got chased off the computer by some bad thunderstorms. However, what i did get done wasn't bad.

I mentioned before about adding a wiki to the website. I think I will use that to replace the "databank" pages I currently use. That way, I can use the wiki for both game info and also general Imperium universe info.

Game Diary Summary - February

2/28/2007 I'm debating whether I should indeed include factions&reputation within the encounters chapter or in its own chapter. Since I intend to include the descriptions/stats for various members of these factions, I thought i should include it with encounters, but now i'm not sure that's the best way of organizing these.

2/27/2007 I continued writing the species section of encounters. However, i stopped because i need to redo these, making them more game related instead of sounding like a biology lesson. ;-)

2/26/2007 I had an idea in the shower today: i'm going to regulate attack/defense modifiers based on type of Mob (ie: carnivore, omnivore, herbivore). I created the chart for this; not sure yet whether i like how the numbers pan out.

In the evening I made a good start on Chapter 6: Encounters.

2/25/2007 Did extensive research for encounters: looked at different species types on Wikipedia. Not sure if I will use this or not, but I'd like to. I have to think about to incorporate this.

2/24/2007 Completed scanners and protective gear. Getting ready for next chapter: encounters

2/23/2007 Website page is almost done; Just need to create a couple more images and then publish it hopefully tonight.

2/22/2007 Worked on website last night. Created new image based on the one I did inside the rules (one showing all the races). Main page has the image as a teaser, and if you click on it, the viewer goes to another page with details about what the game will offer. Not done yet though, so I haven't published it to the live site.

2/21/2007 I basically did nothing last night, which makes 3 days in a row. Just too mentally tired. I tried to look at redoing the website, but my original plan won't work so i'll have to rework it somewhat. I've started keeping some of my notes on a Google spread sheet (like this one).

Btw, while i was doing research for vacc suits, I found that firearms can indeed be used in a vacuum. I should add a section into the combat chapter about fighting in vacuum or underwater.

2/20/2007 I wrote up some quick notes for attacks (around 8-10 diff ones so far. Basically, they'll be three kinds: Regular, Special, and Weapons. For defenses, I'm thinking about diff natural armors such as scales, hides, etc.

I'm going to add a new section to my website talking about the RPG. I wrote some notes and within a week or so I'd like to put it online. I have no idea if anyone will care, but at least they'll be some visibility on the site as a "work in progress" so people will know i'm actually working on something. At this point, I don't think the game will be ready at all until Fall 2006.

2/19/2007 "Need to add Visibility rules (and LOS) to Combat chapter. Also, need to complete abilities, esp for Psionics. I wrote the notes on LOS and Visibility.

The next chap will cover encounters (opponents). I'm thinking of having various generic attacks and defenses based on size."

2/17/2007 Completed kits. Added Forgery to skill section.

2/16/2007 I decided not to go into quite the same detail for gen equip (for things like basic equip--rope, binoculars, etc.). Right now I'm going to do the kits/tools for the skills and leave it at that. Also, I'm not going to worry about regular clothes, and just focus on clothes for diff environments

2/15/2007 I completed the vehicle desc and filled in much of the vehicle table. Next I need to go through the skills and see what equip/kits are needed for each and add them in a General Equip section.

2/14/2007 I didn't work last night. Today, however, I wrote some notes about Planet/Moon orbits: planets will be by AU (ie. 0.3, 1.0, 55.0) and moons will be #x10,000km (ie. 52.7 = 527,000km).

2/13/2007 Instead of Clothing, I decided to work on Vehicles next. I made a list of the diff vehicles for reach type (Air, Land, Water) and then started writing the desc. I will need to add Sizes for them akin to the character sizes, to help determine defense mods. I'm thinking I'll need to add vehicle combat to the Combat chapter.

2/12/2007 "Over the weekend, I completed most of the enhancements. Yesterday, I did research on vehicles. I added Medical Science to Skills and Surgery as an Ability. Also, added the Social Class notes into the rules.

I need to do a graphic with some of the weapons."

2/9/2007 "I made good progress on enhancements, completing implants and half of nanos. I struggled with the tables for these, and I'm not happy with what I ended up with. The stats are too generic, so I will need to return to that later. Next I need to do the drug enhancements, although I can use the names from previous drafts.

2/8/2007 "I completed armor last night and now I can turn to enhancements. I should be able to copy in much of the text from previous drafts, although I'll need to fill in more detail/stats. I am still undecide about adding weapon enhancements as well. I might leave it off for now and add it later.

I've been debating whether to add a social class component: basically you pick which of the 3 social classes at the beginning and it impacts your Faction when dealing with other social classes."

2/7/2007 "Last night I redid some of the renders for the diff races. I then spent 2 hours doing a composite of all the races together to show their respective heights. I'm happy with how it turned out. However, I've decided that I need to redo the desc of the Vogar: they currently are called ""friendly"" but the only poser models I have are too viscous looking, so I'm going to change their desc accordingly.

I've been debating whether to add a social class component: basically you pick which of the 3 social classes at the beginning and it impacts your Faction when dealing with other social classes.

2/6/2007 I've been thinking about adding weapons mods (increased accuracy, range, etc). Not sure if I'd add them as part of the weapons section or under enhancements. I thought of adding a section called "Protective Clothing." It would include: Vacc Suit, Vacc Patch, Oxygen tanks, rebreather, cold weather suit, desert ("water") suit.

For the vacc patch, basically, whenever a vacc suit is hit that hit causes a leak that must be patched before a certain # of rounds elapse, otherwise character begins to take damage (DoT)

2/5/2007 Tried to work, but I was too tired in the evening. Couldn't concentrate at all.

2/4/2007 Finished melee weapon desc, and started armor. Realized that I had not included personal force field proficiency as an ability. I will need to remember to add this.

2/3/2007 Finished ranged weapon descriptions for Ch 5: Gear

Game Diary - January

1/27/2007 Redid ranged weapons: created more variety. Also decided to include so-called exotic weapons (ie: cryo pistol) with regular weapons instead of having its own section and ability.

1/25/2007 Wrote outline for the diff types of gear, incl. armor, weapons, vehicles, etc.

1/24/2007 Wrote info on diff types of armor.

1/19/2007 Looked at MediaWiki for future use later on. Looked at wikipedia article about D&D Feats - they use a lot of diff types incl ones for creating items etc. Looked at resources re. campaign ideas. I would like to have a supplement called "Missions" imitating the sort of short missions (and story arcs) from MMORPGs

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Void Spawn

I thought I’d talk a little about how my fiendish mind works, or at least the creative side:

For the role playing game, I’ve created a minor race called the Void Spawn. They come from the name I gave one of my characters in City of Villains: a cloven-hoofed creature with a skull for a head. So, for my own game, I used the name, but I couldn’t use the image from COV, so I started looking at the website for a model I could buy. I decided to use a particular one that looks like a very fierce devil.

At this point, I started to write the back story for the Void Spawn. I took the word “void” and that reminded me of a recent Dr. Who episode where they talked about a place between dimensions called the Void. That reminded me of a Dr. Who adventure I had written back in high school that took place outside of time and space in an area called Absolute Elsewhere. I think I got that concept from an episode of Cosmos with Carl Sagan talking about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity: basically if you image two triangles, the top one is the future and the bottom one is the past. Where the two triangles meet (at the point) is the present. Anything not inside those two triangles is called Absolute Elsewhere; outside time and space. So, I decided that’s where the Void Spawn come from: the Void (or Absolute Elsewhere).

Today, I started thinking about their culture and I went back to the devil model I had decided to use. I thought about devils and how they are associated with Hell, and Hell is associated with pain and suffering. So, the Void Spawn enjoy inflicting pain. Well, what if I went a little farther than that: what if they felt actual pleasure from inflicting and receiving pain? Now, what if they didn’t understand that pain was not pleasurable for other organisms? That’s when it hit me that the Void Spawn actually believe they’re doing people a “service” by torturing them! From their own mindset, pain equals pleasure; and therefore everyone should feel pleasure from pain. They are unable to see things from another point of view.

So, that’s how I came up with the Void Spawn. ;-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wiki Me!

I’m in the process of migrating the Imperium Database section of the website into an Imperium Wiki. I installed the wiki stuff last Friday night (with some difficulty of course) and I’ve been learning how to use it since then. I even modified the default wiki “skin” to look and behave more like the rest of the website. My intent is to not only include the general Imperium Universe stuff, but also info for the role-playing game I’m currently working on. As for the game, it’s coming along. See my previous post for a link to the ongoing project diary (which I’ve been updating nearly every day).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I love Google

So, after posting my last note, I saw a link to Google Spreadsheets. I messed around with that and found a way to save my game diary there, so it can be viewed by anyone who wants to.

You'll need a Google login, but if you'd like to take a look at the diary, click here!

Gear Chapter

I’ve done a lot over the last month since I began focusing exclusively on the role playing game. It’s still pretty slow going though: mostly I’ve only been working on the Gear chapter, but it includes a ton of things like weapons, armor, and other equipment. It could have even more, but I decided not to get bogged down in too much detail (like clothes, etc.). However, doing the gear also exposed some things I forgot in other sections, which I’ve had to go back and add.

The next chapter will be about creatures and encounters. I’ve decided to create some general rules for building creatures (ie: attacks and defenses). I will also include actual mobs of various kinds. Lastly, I want to include encounters and loot tables that GMs can use.

I’ve been keeping a daily game diary in a separate excel sheet. I thought about putting it on the web, but updating it there would be too much of a pain. Also, I tried yesterday to put the entries to date in this blog, but it doesn’t format very well and I just don’t want to mess with it.

I’m a little worried that if I spend too much time on the RPG, that any comics fans that I’ve acquired will lose interest in my site. However, I’ve made the decision that the game is a high priority because it could lead to actual income which the comic has sadly not provided. So, basically, I’ll keep working on the game as long as I can and switch back over to the comic when the game is mostly done.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Weapon Changes

I decided to revamp the weapons in the game. Before, I had used just ion and blasters and then made several different variants (i.e.: pulse blaster rifle, beam blaster rifle, pulse blaster carbine, etc.). I felt this lacked the level of variety that most players would want. So, I added laser and disrupter weapons (each single shot) and then made the ion and blaster weapons pulse weapons by default. I also wanted to add weapons that do elemental damage (Cold, Heat, and Electricity). At first I thought about having them separate, but this would require having another ability (Exotic Ranged Weapon Proficiency, for example). I decided to keep it simply and just fold them into the currently existing abilities.

Last night I worked on some images for the game using Poser. Previously, doing that tended to be a crutch when I didn’t feel like working on the rules themselves. I have to be careful not to do that again; I need to focus on writing rules and deal with the images later. However, I will say that the image I created (which took about 2 hours) is pretty good. It shows all the playable races side-by-side so you get a better idea of their respective height differences.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Imperium Chronicles RPG

Now that I’m taking a break from the comics side of this site, I thought I’d mention a few things about the Imperium Chronicles RPG I’m working on:

It’s a conventional sci-fi pen-and-paper (PnP) role-playing game. I’ve been playing around with the game for a couple of years now, but more recently I decided to focus more on the d20 rule set, even though I’ve heavily modified it. For example, there are no classes: the game is skill-based instead, so you can pick any skill you like and are not restricted by any class. Also, instead of only have a set number of Feats (which I call Abilities), in my game you get a certain number of points which you can use to buy abilities (which cost 2, 3, and 5 points respectively). Also, the abilities are more dependent on each other; meaning you must have a lot more of certain abilities before you can get others (a skill tree in other words).

The races remain the same as the ones listed on the site (Akiak, Dahl, Draconians, Gordians, Humans, Magna, and Vogar). The Five Families and the rest of the Imperium universe also remains the same.

As for my influences, the venerable Traveller RPG is probably the biggest. One of the challenges is to honor that great game, while not actually copying it. In fact, the mechanics of my game are quite different. I would also like to incorporate some of the lessons I’ve learned from playing MMORPGs. These include the structure of missions and the removal of so-called perma-death when your character is killed.

Right now, I’m up to around 75 pages and I expect there’ll be 150-200 pages total. If I can complete the project, I plan to sell it online as a PDF in color for around $10 and a print version (in B&W) for the same price. I will then work on supplements and other things related to the game.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Born in the Grave is Done

I completed Magnus Black: Born in the Grave yesterday. At 26 pages, it’s much shorter than my other story, although it was never meant to be.

The last page also sees the return (at least as a cameo) of one of the favorite characters from Alexander the Prince, Lefty Lucy. I originally had planned for Black to give the baby away to an orphanage or perhaps just a friend that owed him a favor. A few days before starting page 25, however, I thought of using Lucy instead. I’m happy about this idea, because it links the two stories together, albeit tenuously.

As I think I already mentioned, I’m going to take a break from working on my comics and turn my attention to my role-playing game based on the Imperium universe. I don’t know how long this hiatus will last, but it should be at least a couple of months. I may not actually wait until I finish the game before starting the next story; we’ll have to see. Either way, I’ll continue to use this blog to say how the game is coming along, in case anyone is interested.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Perhaps it’s ironic that we saw Children of Man over the weekend, because page 24 (which I published Sunday) involves a baby as well. This is essentially the climax of my story, because Magnus is faced with the dilemma of whether he should go ahead with his mission (which would involve killing the child) or turning his back on the life he had trained for. The image of the baby and his dead mother is meant to hark back to Black’s own beginning when his mother gave birth to him in the open grave. This realization will turn Magnus away from being an assassin (at least one that works for the Imperium), and force him to go underground. This is a new beginning for him, and it will dictate the rest of his life.

Here's a panel from the current page I'm working on (page 25). It's of Black looking at the baby, almost in terror:

Monday, January 01, 2007

A Very Bad Man

After a week long Christmas break, I completed and published page 23. It shows Magnus killing the wife of the main target, Robert Groen. As Black says himself, “I’m a hitman, not a hero.” In another two pages, however, he will have an opportunity to redeem himself, at least to some extent. He’s still not a very nice man in any event, but I wanted to show that he’s not completely dead inside.

There’s a small mistake this page, although it’s intentional: in the first frame you can see that the windows in the bedroom have blinds (shades), but in the third frame, they do not. I wanted to show the cityscape better, but the blinds were blocking too much of the view. Instead of trying to redo the shot from the previous page (which shows the blinds only slightly), I decided to just remove the blinds and not worry about it. ;-)