IT. IS. DONE!

After months and months of delays due to work, injuries, lethargy, and depression, I am ecstatic to finally report THE REMODEL IS COMPLETE!
There are still minor issues to complete (touch-up painting, changing out light switches, buying a garbage can which isn’t pink…), but the most time consuming, difficult tasks are done!
Now, to finally finish last year’s System of the Day project… as well as prep for this weekend’s campaign. Queue evil laugh…

It’s been a full year…

February 23rd, 2020. One of the worst days of my life. My dear wife, Lori, passed away after a four month battle with breast cancer, which had invaded her liver. This year has been difficult for everyone, given the current pandemic, but having the love of your life die in front of you trumps almost everything else.
It hurts. It will always hurt. How I’ve managed to hold up without cracking (too much), I can’t say. But as she would have said, “Life is for the living”. It was her favorite saying.

There are a few good things which came out of this situation. My daughter and I have become closer, a little. Lori passed away before the Covid restrictions were set up; we were able hold a remembrance ceremony. She didn’t suffer too much pain, and went quickly once her cancer was determined to be terminal (six days later). And (the least important item) her company’s life insurance policy allowed me to pay off most of the bills, and do some actual needed house repairs and improvements.
I may make or schedule a “System of the Day” post for today. If I don’t, I’m sure you’ll understand.
Thanks once again to everyone for the support and kind words over this last year. Stay safe.Snapchat-1172012608

Fun Times in the Basement – and Success!

The last week has been busy, yet productive.

After a week of prep work, and more discoveries (aka problems) we FINALLY poured concrete in the basement, after more than two months of delays. It was a good week.

Problems discovered include bad cable wiring (I posted about that earlier), cut cable wires (my own darned fault, but fixed quickly and easily), and a poorly (to say the least…) framed interior door.

But the concrete is finally poured!

This is the sewer access plug. It was buried/hidden under carpet… I had to craft a frame around it so it wouldn’t be buried in concrete, but it came out perfectly.

The original tile floor. Ugly, damaged, and made with asbestos.

The wet concrete after pouring. You can see color variations due to different mixing times. Also note the aluminum frame around the sewer plug in the upper left corner.

The landing at the stairs.

The end of the landing after removing the barrier I mocked up, inside the utility room/hallway. This was a pain to frame up; we had to remove the entire door and framing – which was done poorly anyway. It will be done correctly at a later time, and it won’t even be that difficult to fix.

All in all, I am tremendously happy with how this has turned out so far. Not bad, for a complete noob with absolutely no experience at this sort of thing. I need to let the concrete cure for a few days, then I can begin to install the vinyl flooring over it. Once this project is complete, I will have one Heck of a great gaming area, with plenty of room.

Now, to get caught up on my online Traveller project…

Easy Peasy

Well, that was perhaps THE easiest transition I’ve ever had to deal with! Smooth is good. I like smooth. Well, other than the growing smooth areas on my scalp… lolol.

As stated, the new domain name for this blog is “hiverlordshijinks.org”. I’m kind of shocked, actually, that I don’t need to make any real changes to the blog. Sweetness.

Now, back to blogging. I’m still far behind my goal, but all things considered, it is not unmanageable. I figure if I can make it to 300 posts by the end of October, I’ll be in a good spot.

Upcoming Blog Changes!

Well, I won’t say what set me off (again? lol) this time, not yet anyway. But there will soon be changes to this blog. Not the System of the Day project or my occasional ramblings, but to the blog’s location.
Currently I am searching for an inexpensive, reliable, and (most importantly for an “older” geek like me who resists change; never thought I’d have said that 30 years ago!) easy to use blog hosting site.
Yep, I’ll be moving this blog soon to another host. I will, of course, give ample warning when the day occurs!
Until my next post, have a great day!

Under The Weather

Here I thought I was just dealing with another bout of depression. No…
Apparently, I missed a notification in my area about a “Pollen Alert”. It was rather bad this time around…
No wonder I’ve felt like crud! I’ve made it through work and basic house stuff, of course, but that’s about it.
Now that I have things under control… it’s time to start getting on track again, after a one day road trip to visit the daughter at college (ie, “Bring me stuff”. lol) 🙂

Happy Birthday to “The Emperor”

Today is the birthday of Marc Miller, Traveller’s creator and “Emperor”, as he is lovingly titled by fans of his RPG Traveller. To state that this game and other various products has had a huge impact on my life would be a ‘slight’ understatement. (I’ve been dabbling in Traveller and other GDW games since 1981 – almost forty years.)

Happy Birthday, Sir! Thank you once again for your creations! Here is hoping for a continued “good run” with your endeavors, continued health, and a prosperous future!

And what better way to celebrate the birthday of a gaming legend, than to play one of his games. My group will be meeting [under continued SAFE conditions, though in person; we are all professionals in the field, and I work security, so I have some firsthand knowledge of prevention and such] this afternoon for at least six hours of Traveller5 goodness – and likely far more than that. (Our shortest session so far was a mere five hours…)
One of these days I really should get around to writing up a campaign report blog…

How I Do Things; Creating Random Systems

One of my kind followers made a comment/inquiry into my thought processes for my System of The Day project (where I am generating a new, random Traveller5 star system each day in 2020), even suggesting I make a Youtube video about it. I asked him if he “really” wanted to delve into my mind – only half-jokingly, as I don’t consider myself truly sane nor normal. (I suppose no one thinks that of themselves? I can’t comment much more than that.)
All joking and such aside, I had previously considered making a blog post about it, but thought it’d be rather bland. However, since someone has gone and asked about it, I figured “why not?” So here is the result.

PREPARATION

As with many rules systems, especially science fiction systems which strive for a fair bit of realism (Traveller5 certainly qualifies for this), the charts and procedures needed for a major task tend to be spread through at least several pages of the game manual. I’ve also found, in many game systems, there are a lot of additional charts in the way, some being of use, some less so, some rarely (if ever) used, and some which just shouldn’t be in that section. Many times these are space limitation/layout issues, and can’t be easily worked around. The T5/Traveller5 rules aren’t horrible in this regard [others may argue this point, but I played the original Space Opera, as well as Rolemaster; nothing compares to them for clutter…], but I decided early in this project to make a list of just what I need – sort of a, “Just the facts”, kind of thing. This makes the charts portable, as well as saving wear on my books… I can’t always bring a tablet along for the PDFs, and a single sheet of paper is MUCH more accessible.

To this end I wrote down the necessary charts on one sheet, then wrote the step by step procedures for system generation on the reverse side. This latter task was necessary, as there are several different steps, none of which were collected in one complete chart – not to my liking or style, anyway. Both took some work, and then more reorganizing to a format I could use easily. In addition, over time I made several “house rule” changes to things which bothered me, or (more so) didn’t fit what I was envisioning, and these changes were added here. I ended up having to rewrite them several times, mainly for legibility, but I am finally happy with the end result (or what currently passes as the end result; more changes may happen, or I may spill Mountain Dew on them, and have to start over…)
Here are the current sheets I use:

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The end result: a two sided sheet with all the necessary charts on one side, and the generation procedures on the reverse (plus some lookup tables, where they fit; that space issue again.) HOWEVER, this particular sheet of mine contains a number of changes to the charts, so are not exactly standard to the T5 system. There are also several house rules embedded in them. Of note are the Stellar Charts. I have dropped the OB stellar types from the tables. This is because in the accompanying tables (Jump Limits, Habitable Zones) these two star types don’t have entries, making it difficult to properly generate stellar systems with those stellar classes. Rather than trying to determine the proper values (from other versions of the game), I have dropped them for now. I have also dropped use of the optional +1/-1 modifier to rolls on the upper/lower portions of these charts; I am using straight rolls with no modifications.
Another big change I made is in the (non- mainworld) world type charts. The original version has two charts, one for Inner Worlds, one for Outer. I changed this to make three charts: one for Inner Worlds (orbits out to Habitable Zone -2); one for the Habitable Zone; and one for the Outer Worlds (Habitable Zone +2 and greater). To my mind this makes more sense. For example, I just can’t see a ‘habitable’ world result in a very close orbit to a hot F-type star. Though I am no scientist, it just doesn’t make much sense to me, as it would be too hot no matter what the world’s albedo might be.

***PLEASE NOTE: For legal reasons, I inquired with “The Emperor” himself, Mr. Marc Miller, for permission to post these modified charts here, and he was more than gracious in granting permission to do so. Many thanks go out to him for this.

I also have a ‘master list’ of random planet names, one hundred in total. When I roll a system I start with the name, rolling on this list (usually a D100 roll, or D10/D10 roll). I will occasionally rewrite this list, in order to keep it neat, and full. I know, I know! I could just use a text file or spreadsheet to do this. Call me old fashioned… I’ve always preferred paper.
The names on this list are from several sources. The first names are from that great science fiction series by E. C. Tubb – The Dumarest Saga. I currently have 40 world names remaining from this influential series. The other names were generated with a variety of online random name generators. As needed, I will generate new names to fill in gaps in the list.

GENERATING THE SYSTEMS

This step is pretty straightforward. I use a blank sheet of paper, usually in a composition notebook, roll a name, then generate the mainworld. Once this step is done, I add in the other details as defined in the procedure – extensions, stars, world placement, world generation, and satellites.
This is, usually, the easy step. Systems with multiple stars and numerous worlds can be a pain to chart properly at this point. But once completed, they are easy to list in a blog post without clutter.
The final step in the process is perhaps the most important, and of course can be the most time consuming – and frustrating.

ADDING DETAILS

How do I add details? Where do the ideas come from? That is, as always, a difficult question to answer. One not-so-obvious factor is I’ve been playing roleplaying games, in particular Traveller, for almost 40 years. There is A LOT of relatively useless data floating around in the gray goo…

First, I will look over the generated system. Some things may pop out. For instance, is the system resource rich, or poor? Is fuel difficult to access here? What is the government? Is there more than one? Are there other settled worlds in the system? Could these be colonies or outposts, or are they ‘squatters’?
Is that very small population on a planet miners? Or are they research scientists in a monitoring station? Is that distant settled outer world a mining outpost, or a pirate base?
Is the main world poorly populated, even though it has a great environment for humans? Why? Is there a medical or disease issue? Are the locals limiting settlement from ‘outsiders’? Was there a recent war or uprising?
If a world is “prime” real estate for humans, yet with a low population, I’ll check the government and law codes. Perhaps the local residents wish to keep the ‘riff raff’ out of the system, to preserve its beauty, keep it for themselves, or some other such factor.
Is more than one world settled? If so, why? Is there another colony competing for resources, or is it a mining colony? If the world’s base tech level is too low for regular space flight, how did these people get there? Are they “outsiders”, or merely miners from a nearby system? Perhaps they are refugees.

These are some of the questions going through my head when I look for inspiration in a system. Sometimes the path is obvious. Usually it isn’t. Sometimes I have to step away from a world and let the gray matter percolate for a few hours. You can actually tell when I’m having trouble with a particular system write up, as it will sound forced or generic. Sometimes the system just isn’t that spectacular on the surface. And some systems truly are backwaters, with nothing to recommend them.
Then again, these systems are Supposed to be generic. They are designed to be used and modified by other referees for their settings and campaigns. I hope they are of use. 🙂

IN CONCLUSION

This is the main process I use. It is not thorough. It is not complete – that’s impossible, of course. It does give me enough to work with, where I can get enough base background generated for a passable system writeup. Sometimes this is rather difficult…
It is also difficult to create something “Original”. Nothing I do or write in these systems can be considered truly original. I don’t have THAT much creativity! Each of us, our entire backgrounds, backstories, books we’ve read, etc, all influence these things.

I hope you’ve enjoyed delving into the mind of a Traveller fan (fanatic, actually), or at least found something of interest. Feel free to post comments, ask questions, and so forth. I’m sure there’s something I’ve missed or forgotten, and I’m always looking for more ideas and input.

Stay safe, and have a great day. Keep on Travelling!

Finger, meet razor blade.

Even when being very careful, accidents can happen, as we all know.

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I was cutting some sheet rock pieces for the garage, and the razor decided to jump up on me, slicing through the gloves I was wearing. Thankfully, only 4 stitches, no artery severed, and no apparent nerve damage (the cut was on the side of the finger, so it likely missed them). And I had “just” changed blades, so it was clean, for the most part.

Needless to say, with the index finger on my dominant hand out of commission for a couple weeks, typing is a bit of an adventure. I have a dozen systems rolled, but adding detail to them might take a little more effort now. Obviously, healing comes first, but I’ll get more systems posted, and catch up to my goal, when time and the finger allows

Stay safe out there!

Busy

Well, I guess I haven’t gotten much done on this blog the last week. I’ve been a little busy (understatement) with work (three days off in the last month, before today), and house projects.
My office is nearing completion. The workstation is mostly complete, and I completed my first test print with my 3D resin printer. Successful, even! Now the real learning begins.
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