Monday, February 27, 2017

What Did I Accomplish In February?

This month, I continued my effort to produce daily content here on One Yard Hex as well as on Unfortunately, I missed my goal twice in February, but I still exceeded my word count goals for the month.

I maintained my goal of  100 words for posts here on this blog. To date, I am averaging about 286 words per post. Over on, my goal was still 500 words per Fragments post, and those are averaging 555 words each. In total, I planned to write 3,900 words this month, and I ended up writing ~6,900 words.

In total, I produced:
14 blog posts here on One Yard Hex, including
4 GURPS posts,
1 GUMSHOE post,
1 Fate post, and
8 posts on other topics; and
4 Fragments posts and one news post on (with another news post scheduled for tomorrow, the 28th).

I also streamed 3 video Fallout 4 game sessions on Twitch, and those are all archived at my YouTube page. (The most recent was split into two videos due to a game crash in the middled of the session.)

I was trying to switch my posts from a morning schedule to an evening schedule this month. Unfortunately, I found that doing that made it very easy for me to put off writing the post and then missing it altogether on a couple of occasions. In March, I plan to go back to morning posts to try and stave off procrastination. If you enjoy what I'm doing, consider becoming a patron at Patreon!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Space Patrol: Index

The following is an index of all of my posts on campaign notes for GURPS Space Patrol. I will try to keep this post up to date when I add more.


These sample characters are designed to fill out the crew of the SPS-2997 Kiran Bedi, a typical Jordan-class Patrol ship. They provide examples of all of the occupation templates.

Occupation Templates

Characters in Space Patrol are built using a combination of an occupation template and a dramatic template (below). Occupation templates define what you do on the ship.

Dramatic Templates

Dramatic templates are smaller than occupation templates and describe the role you play in the narrative, rather than the specific skills and shipboard functions you perform.


These articles describe rules necessary for Space Patrol that have been condensed and streamlined from the full GURPS rules.


A selection of equipment for Patrol officers.


Two ships in the Space Patrol setting, one for the Scout Service and one for the Patrol.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

RPG Lexicon: Linear

A linear dice mechanic is one that uses a single die to produce its result. This gives an even chance of each value in the die's range. Such mechanics are linear because if you plot the odds of each result on a graph, you get a straight line.

The single d20 of D&D is the classic example, and it gives a rather extreme case as its range is so large. You're just as likely to roll a 20 as a 1. The result is a "swingy" mechanic that makes extreme success and extreme failure equally likely.

The standard resolution of a general ability test in GUMSHOE is also a linear mechanic, as it uses a single d6. Because the range of a d6 is so much smaller, this places an emphasis on the resource management aspect of GUMSHOE, making the number of points you spend to add to the roll dominant in the result.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Knowing vs. Not Knowing

In fiction particularly in cinema, you can get away with not telling your audience what's going on, at least for a while. Withholding information builds suspense. In some genres—horror, in particular—it's essentially required.

In gaming, however, I am of the opinion that it is always better for the players to know more than for them to know less. I will repeat that sentence with emphasis added because I think there are two aspects of it that need to be emphasized:
It is always better for the players to know more than to know less.
In a tabletop RPG, the players hold a position unique to any other medium in being both audience and author, viewer and performer. Because of this, it is very important for the players to have enough information about the setting and the narrative to be able to perform meaningfully within it.

Note, however, that I say it is better for the players to know more. They don't need to know everything, or at least, they don't need that knowledge all at once. This is one of the major reasons I like the GUMSHOE system, I think. The rules there privilege gaining knowledge, so they enable the players to know ever more as the game progresses.

Even in the horror genre—which many GUMSHOE system games are—knowing more is still better. The key is to make the things the players learn through play horrible. Gaining that knowledge reinforces the themes of the game and allows the players to perform better within the narrative.

What do you think? Are there times when you feel it is better to keep information from the players? Or is it simply a question of pacing, the speed at which you let players gain information? I'd love to hear your views in the comments.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Space Patrol: Lt. Alpha-Blue

Lt. Alpha-Blue is a Elan-model android who served its emergence period as a research assistant at a Federal Science Foundation. After he was released into citizenship, he chose to enter the Patrol as a Science officer. He has served dutifully if unexceptionally for three decades. He currently serves as executive officer and scientist on the Kiran Bedi.

Alpha-Blue looks like a bald human male made of hard blue plastic. He lacks basic emotional programming, and has therefor spent considerable effort to develop a rudimentary understanding of human behavior for his work with the Patrol.

200 points

ST 10 [0]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 12 [40]; HT 10 [0].
Damage 1d-2/1d; BL 20 lbs.; HP 10 [0]; Will 12 [0]; Per 13 [5]; FP 10 [0].
Basic Speed 5.00 [0]; Basic Move 5 [0]; Dodge 8 [0].

Social Background

TL: 11.
CF: Federation (Native) [0].
Languages: Federation Standard (Native) [0].


Absolute Direction [5]; Computer Brain [20]; DR 3 [15]; Legal Enforcement Powers [10]; Luck [15]; Mathematical Ability 2 [20]; Photographic Memory [10]; Single-Minded [5]; Patrol Rank 3 [15]; Robot Body [20]; Unusual Background (Android) [10].


Code of Honor (Patrol) [-5]; Duty (to the Space Patrol; 15 or less) [-15]; Honesty (6) [-20]; Low Empathy [-20].


Administration (A) IQ-1 [1]-11; Area Knowledge (Federal Space) (E) IQ [1]-12; Astronomy/TL11 (H) IQ+2 [4]-14*; Beam Weapons/TL11 (Pistol) (E) DX [1]-10; Biology/TL11 (VH) IQ-1 [4]-11; Body Language (A) Per [2]-13; Brawling (E) DX+2 [4]-12 or Karate (H) DX [4]-10; Computer Operation/TL11 (E) IQ+2 [4]-14; Criminology/TL11 (A) IQ-3 [2]-9†; Cryptography/TL11 (Code-Breaking) (A) IQ+2 [2]-14*; Current Affairs/TL11 (Science & Technology) (E) IQ [1]-12; Detect Lies (H) Per-4 [2]-9†; Diplomacy (H) IQ-5 [1]-7†; Electronics Operation/TL11 (Scientific) (A) IQ [2]-12; Electronics Operation/TL11 (Sensors) (A) IQ [2]-12; First Aid/TL11 (E) IQ [1]-12; Free Fall (A) DX [2]-10; Forensics/TL11 (H) IQ-1 [2]-11; Intelligence Analysis/TL11 (H) IQ [4]-12; Law (Space) (H) IQ-1 [2]-11; Metallurgy/TL11 (H) IQ-1 [2]-11; Navigation/TL11 (Space) (H) IQ-2 [1]-10; Physics/TL11 (H) IQ+2 [4]-14*; Piloting/TL11 (High-Performance Spacecraft) (A) DX-1 [1]-9; Research/TL (A) IQ+1 [4]-13; Savoir-Faire (Police) (E) IQ-3 [1]-9†; Search (A) Per+1 [4]-14; Spacer/TL11 (E) IQ [1]-12; Speed-Reading (A) IQ [2]-12; Stealth (A) DX-1 [1]-9; Wrestling (H) DX [4]-10; Writing (A) IQ-1 [1]-11.

* Includes +2 from Mathematical Ability.
† Includes -3 from Low Empathy.


  • Standard Uniform [Body]. DR 3* vs. corr, cr, and tox; DR 15* vs. all other types. With gloves, hood helmet, and air tank, provides life support for up to six weeks. 5 lbs., 2C/6 wk.
  • Omniblaster [Belt]. Stun—HT-3(3) aff. Kill—3d(5) burn sur, HUD and multispectral laser sight gives +1 skill out to 300 yards. 1.6 lbs., C/40 shots.
  • Multiscanner [Belt]. Multiple scanning modes, including imaging, search, scan, bioscan, and radscanner. 1.73 lbs., 2B/6 hr.
  • Hyperspectral Contact Lenses [Eyes]. Gives +3 to Vision, Tracking, and rolls to spot hidden clues or objects with Forensics, Observation, or Search skill.
  • Communicator [Neck]. Range 5 miles (can be read by ship up to 500 miles away). 0.05 lbs., 2A/10 hr.
  • Engineering Kit [Case]. Allows rolls of Armoury (Force Shields), Electrician, Electronics Repair (Comms, Computer, Security, and Sensors), and Mechanic (High Performance Spacecraft) at -2. 22 lbs., 20A + 15B/10 hr.
  • Software (running on listed gear)
    • Visual enhancement program [Uniform]. Gives +1 to Vision.
    • TacNet [Uniform]. Gives +2 Tactics if all members of unit are in communication.
    • Target Tracking [Uniform]. In conjunction with contact lenses, tracks up to 1,000 targets visible to hyperspectral optics. Gives size, signal strength, bearing, vectors, etc., on moving map display.
    • Software tools [Multiscanner]. Gives +2 to any science skill (IQ-based /TL skill). Multiscanner can run two at a time, downloaded from full catalog on ship.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

System-Neutral Settings: To Hell With Rules

There is a long if narrow history in RPGs of sourcebooks that describe settings or setting elements (cities and the like) without reference to a particular game or rules system. From Flying Buffalo's Citybook series through Green Ronin's Freeport, these books do the heavy lifting of creating or filling out a world but leave the final rules implementation to you.

I recently received the PDF of Karthun: Lands of Conflict by Brian Patterson and Tracy Barnett's Exploding Rogue Studios, and published by Evil Hat Productions. Karthun sits very firmly in the D&D fantasy space, and there are a few stray references to "free actions" and the like, but it is essentially system neutral, and I've already jotted down notes for a GURPS adaptation. I look forward to exploring the setting more, especially when I get the physical book.

Of course, my diamond example of a system neutral setting is Uresia: Grave of Heaven by S. John Ross. Originally a world for the Big Eyes, Small Mouth anime system, Ross eventually regained publishing rights and expanded the world in a rules-free volume. Ross's style is perfect for a system neutral setting, presenting the world in a way that begs you to put your favorite rules to it without envisioning it as benefitting necessarily from any one system. Different areas are explored at different levels of detail, but with equal levels of love and humor. Uresia is a masterpiece.

One other advantage of a system neutral setting is the ability to run it using multiple game systems. Different rules can bring out different aspects of a setting and make for an intriguing variety in your games. I personally have run Uresia using the OVA anime system and Ross' own Risus RPG, and each lent a unique feel to the setting.

I'm a fan of these kinds of setting, and I'm pleased when I come across one that is done well. The flexibility and adaptability of a good one makes for some of the greatest value in gaming.

Monday, February 13, 2017

3 Things To Do When You're Not Quite In Love With Your Campaign

Sometimes, even though you like your group and you enjoy playing well enough, you're just not loving the game you're playing. How do you get more enjoyment from your game without ruining anyone else's fun?

Develop Your Character

There are many ways you can develop your character beyond whatever experience mechanic your system provides. Come up with backstory that fills out parts of her personality you hadn't considered before. Figure out how he reacts to different setting elements. Create an interesting speech pattern or vocal tic.

Dig Into The Rules

If you like the game system your campaign uses but the story isn't grabbing you, you could take it upon yourself to learn the rules better. Use this knowledge for good, though. Be a resource, not a rules lawyer.

Help Everyone Else Have Fun

Talk to your fellow players and find ways for your character to work into the experience they are hoping to get from their characters. Do they need a comic foil? A friendly rival? A love interest? Offer to play toward a particular scene or bit of action.

As long as you're having fun at the table somehow without ruining anyone else's play, there are many ways to approach a campaign. Find what works for your and grab it!