3 Rules to Designing Spaceships

My blog posts as of late have focused mainly on fantasy. Today we’re going to take a break from that and focus on science fiction (or science fantasy, since this applies equally to that genre) and take a look at spaceships. Making your own spaceship is fun and exciting. Ships can serve as the main setting for your game, places to visit on occasion, or familiar places to return. They are everything from the family car to the battle tank and all points in between. They fill a wide variety of roles but they still all have a number of things to keep in mind. So when designing space ships keep the following things in mind.

1) Have a Core Concept of What the Ship Is About.

No one designs a ships to fill every role. That is impossible and won’t sell. The “stealth racing family RV armored destroyer cargo carrier” (bet you can’t say that five times fast) would cost hundreds if not thousands of times more than if this were broken into five separate ships; either that or compromises will have to be made. Pick a simple core concept and stick to it. This should be as simple as a “cargo carrier” or a “destroyer.” Should a cargo carrier carry enough weaponry to defend itself? Yes. Assault a planet? No. Conversely, Should the destroyer carry enough cargo to give it fuel and food enough to carry out its missions? Yes. Enough to keep a gigafactory in operation for a day? No.

Well what about a “pirate ship” you ask? Simple concept but at its heart it wants to be the “stealth racing family RV armored destroyer cargo carrier” I mentioned earlier. Stealth to sneak up on its target, racing to outpace whatever it is after or after it, family RV since the pirates are going to be living there for a while and will get bored, armored destroyer since it needs to shoot at its query and take shots, and most importantly of all, have room for the cargo it steals. If you make that, it will cost more than any military vessel since they don’t need to have the cargo carrier in that ship. So it has to make compromises. Does it have to be both stealthful and racing? Possibly no. It could simply rely on one or the other instead of both. It could have the technology to not appear on sensors until only a short distance from their query. So its engines can be downgraded to only beating cargo ships. Does its armor and weaponry have to outclass warships or can that be compromised down to outclass cargo ships? By doing this, we just kept the price down and still have the pirate ship be effective.

2) Ask “Is This Necessary?”

Ask yourself this on EVERYTHING! This goes for weaponry choices to hallways. Yes, hallways. If there is any way to eliminate a hallway, do so. A hallway is cargo space not being used to transport cargo. If you have to have the crew recreation area double as the way to get from the bridge to the crew quarters and engineering while not wasting space on a hallways, do so. Reason why: that is space saved can be allocated towards cargo, making the ship more profitable.

3) Add Unique Flair

More than anything, this is the reason to make your own ship. Otherwise, you may as well simply buy a book of ships (such as the Foreven Worlds: Ships of the Border Worlds). Do you want the ships ideal for a crew without a mechanic? Make everything easy to repair. You want to show how this world’s technology just isn’t up to par? How about their armor is better than normal because they have been hit so often by raiders? Is it overusing gold and holograms to how just how rich the owner is? Give it personality.

Speaking of personality, our Prelude to War adventures feature a number of characters with lots of personality. Download the first two in the series The Rose of Death and State of Chaos, exclusively at DriveThruRPG.

3 Steps to Turn Published Adventures into a Campaign

As I mentioned last week, I am running an “office” game of Tales of the Yawning Portal. These are some really great adventures, but what they are not is a campaign. These are adventures that for all tense and purposes have nothing to do with each other except that one starts at a level where the previous left off. Beyond that, there is no connective story, no common set of NPCs to help make everything work together, nothing. It is exactly like running a campaign from a bunch of pre-published modules that you pulled off the shelf. So if you want to run a campaign with these kinds of modules, here’s what you have to do.

1) Make an NPC or Item Significant

The best example I can think of from this happening in fiction is the Ring from The Hobbit / The Lord of the Rings books. In The Hobbit book (not the movies), the ring was little more than a ring of invisibility. It wasn’t anything special. Then came The Lord of the Rings and that same ring now has a back story, one that will spell the end of the world as they knew it if it fell into the wrong hands. That is what you should do when running a campaign using pre-published adventures.

So what did I make significant? Well, I choose an NPC that they just rescued and an item they destroyed. Other than saving the NPC, their characters had no interaction with her. This particular Macguffin could just as easily have been a puppy. Because of spoilerific reasons to the first adventure that NPC was perfect to make significant. Not only that, the big bad of the first adventure used an item that the PCs ultimately destroyed. That item is perfect to be made important to the larger campaign.

2) Add in the Connection

This step is relatively small, but is critical. This, in The Lord of the Rings is where Gandalf found Bilbo’s behavior suspicious, went and researched the ring, and came back to tell Frodo what he found. Last week in my campaign, I had one of two NPCs that the PCs just rescued just up and died suddenly. So now the players have a reason to go on another adventure. What is that adventure? It is to follow the spread of the item encountered in the first adventure into adventure two. Like I said, the characters destroyed the item in the first adventure, but I added in that they found a note saying that another of that thing is elsewhere, and from examination of the body of the NPC, her fate appears tied to that item. That is the connection to the next adventure.

So what was my total work on making the connection: I wrote a note they found, and I added what amounted to a paragraph of box text. It was not hard at all. You might be thinking that that connection is not much. Let me point you to the TV show Supernatural. In the pilot episode, one of the brothers find’s his dad’s journal with some numbers in it. They figured that was a location and maybe dad would be there. Was he? No, but it got them from adventure 1 to adventure 2. Not only that, it established that finding dad as a connection between what would otherwise be random episodes in that first season. And that is what you are doing in this step: adding in those numbers in the journal or giving that ring a backstory. Those are not much either, but it is enough to get the PCs to go off on another adventure.

3) Make a Few Small Changes to the Adventure

Now I have to add in the impact of that connection to the existing adventure. How much does that change the adventure? Surprisingly little. Whenever they encounter an NPC that I already picked out, I have to add in the item. That’s it. From there, it is their call. Do they destroy the item again or do they bring it back? I can guess which way they are going to go, but I will wait for them to make that call and at that point I will adjust the reasons why they are going to adventure 3 accordingly.

Did you catch that important detail? “… the reasons why they are going…” not “… where they are going…” The latter requires changing the module from one to another; the former requires you to change the connection (see above) to the module you already have picked out. If I had said, “they must bring back the item,” some will balk feeling that it should be destroyed, and the reverse would also be true. By leaving the decision up to them, they feel like their decisions matter to the overall campaign. However, it does not impact what further adventures will be, only the motivation behind those adventures. And I can still run the adventure that I want to run, no matter what they decide.

So to recap, what changes am I making to the next adventure: adding in an item from a previous adventure to the next one and adding a connection to the following adventure based on the PCs actions. That’s it. This is not difficult and you can do this as well.

The perfect place to start is with our Deadly Delve adventures. Download our 5e, 13th Age, and Pathfinder adventures at the JBE Shop today so you can make your own campaign.

3 Reasons to Run Published Adventures

For the JBE “office” game, I run Tales of the Yawning Portal for the group. I mean, I can’t run anything that we ourselves published because we know each adventure so well. And honestly, who can pass up a collection of classic adventures. Last week, we finished up the first adventure, the Sunless Citadel, and it reminded me why I love running published adventures these days.

A little background: I use to never run published adventures. The first campaign I GMed was Exalted 1e. There was exactly 1 adventure for that entire edition. Not only that, I was able to make the campaign based in what characters the players made. I was 30 before I ran my first published adventure, and I don’t see myself going back to that anytime soon.

So if you create your own campaign, here are some reasons why you might want to consider checking out published adventures.

1) They Save Time

Oh my goodness do published adventures save time. The last campaign I ran that I created myself, I ran it on a Sunday, and I spent my entire Saturday prepping for it. I’d stat out every possible NPC they’d meet, even if it was only for a quick conversation because “you never knew what the PC’s were going to do.” I wrote mounds and mounds of read aloud text I never used. I’d read over source books in case they went off in some other direction I had not planned for or looking for some awesome treasure for them to get their hands on or … The list goes on.

When did I start prepping last week’s session? 20 minutes before we started. I don’t recommend doing that, but I was running late and work ate into my prep time. That right there is one of the biggest reasons why I use published adventures these days: because I no longer have the time to create an adventure for a specific group. The thing was, I still ran a good game. It would have been better if I had spent even an hour on it, but for such a short prep time, it was good.

Having said that, I still made the game unique. I rewrote the entire beginning. I added NPCs to the town. I created my own twists and turns. All of these modifications did take time—more than last week’s 20 min prep—but far less than the full day each session use to require. On the whole, I can run a great game at a fraction of the time required.

2) More Focused Characters

As any GM knows, players can do anything at any time. That is one of the things that make running a campaign so difficult—you have to be prepared for anything at any time. When I created my own campaign, I designed the adventures around the characters. Yet when I run a published campaign, the players make their characters around the adventures. Who is reacting to whom is reversed.

Think if it like this, if you let the players make whatever they want from any available source book, they will make characters that have little if anything to do with each other. Give them some direction and they will make characters around those ideas. Tell them you are running a specific campaign and they will make characters that fit that specific theme.

By giving them direction, you are channelling their creativity not hindering it, and you will get far less of the “the PCs can go any direction” that I talked about in the point above. A group where the players make characters without direction can result in an out of place character: three heroes, and a thief that wants nothing but violence and money, as an example. Then as the GM it is your job to figure a way to make them work together. Instead if you tell the players you are running a campaign where isolated villages are being attacked and you’re helping them, like in our adventures Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider and Rescue from Trykaven (available for Pathfinder and 5e), then the players will all be thinking about how the character they want to play fits in the adventure.

3) You’re Creating a Shared Experience

By running a published adventure, you are giving your fellow gamers an experience that they can talk about with their fellow gamers that other gamers can bond over. Look at it another way: adventures are stories. One crafted for a specific group is the campfire story while the published adventure is the novel or movie. How many times have each of us bonded with someone we just met while talking about a Marvel movie? The campfire stories, the only way I have found to bond with someone about that is to repeat that same story; bumping into someone that knows that exact same story has yet to happen for me.

So when we go to conventions, having played a published adventure is giving us something in common with someone we never met before. That is another opportunity to make friends and play new campaigns.

So do you prefer to run your own campaigns or do you run published adventures? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Looking for some awesome adventure? Our Deadly Delves line of adventures provides you with game sessions that your players will remember. On top of that, they are designed for busy GMs like you and me. Download our 5e, 13th Age, and Pathfinder adventures at the JBE Shop today.

Foreven Worlds: Dispatch Science Shuttle

The Dispatch Science Shuttle is a mobile laboratory. Its small size lets it be taken inside any larger, jump capable ship and transported anywhere in a quick time frame. Add it that its military sensors and onboard science lab and it is the laborary you need in the field. Top that off with the fuel process, fuel scoops and an oversized fuel tank and this ship can act as an emergency generator and refuel tender, increasing its functionality.

The Dispatch Science Shuttle was originally designed for governments to have a rapid response lab ship for disasters. When the Rowan manufacturing company started getting order for them from corporations looking for a planetary test vehicle, they knew they had a hit on their hands.

This ship appears in the upcoming third installment of the Foreven Worlds: Prelude to War Adventure Path, due out this Summer. Order your copies of the first two installments of this series of adventures today at DriveThruRPG with the Rose of Death and State of Chaos.

Dispatch Science Shuttle

TL 10     Tons Cost
Hull Standard Hull Points 22 56 Cr. 2,800,000
Armor Crystaliron Armour 6 4.5 Cr. 1,440,000
M-Drive Thrust 3 2 Cr. 4,000,000
Power Plant Fusion-8 (Efficient) Power 33 3 Cr. 1,650,000
Fuel Tanks 280 Weeks Operation 21
Bridge 6 Cr. 300,000
Computer Computer/10 Cr. 160,000
Sensors Military DM+0 2 Cr. 4,100,000
Fuel Processor 20 tons/day 1 Cr. 50,000
Fuel Scoops Cr. 1,000,000
Aerofins 5 Cr. 500,000
Laboratory 4 Scientists 16 Cr. 2,000,000
Cargo 1.5
Maintenance Costs Cr. 1,500
Purchase Costs Cr. 18,000,000

Traveller: Out of This World Wallpaper

Over the years, we’ve released a number of our adventure and supplement cover images and even some of our interior images as computer wallpaper. We really hope you enjoy them. If you have not seen all of our wallpapaer for Traveller (or any of them), check these out and grab some for your computer screen today.

State of Chaos

Download Jon Brazer Enterprises‘ Traveller books today at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.

Pathfinder: What Adventure Paths Need SideQuests/Adventure 7’s?

When we asked in this post, I did not expect to get such a clear answer expressing the a need for high level adventures. Well, we heard you and are looking to figure out where to start.

One thing we heard over and over again is “Give us an adventure 7 cap stone to take the campaign to 20th level.” Ok. We also heard, “We need side quests for the adventure paths.” Alright. So the question then is, which adventure paths are most in demand for such adventures.

The poll below has all the adventure paths releases in the last 3 years. Please vote on what you want to see. There are also options for those that don’t necessarily want something that ties into an adventure path. The last option is for those that want that more mythic adventures since there were a few people saying that as well.

Please share with us what you want. If you do not see an answer that you want, let us know in the comments below.

Download all of our Deadly Delve Adventures for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, the OpenGamingStore, and Paizo.com.

Pathfinder: JBE’s Big Book of Everything

March to an Amazing Sale

Jon Brazer Enterprises is offering for the month of March everything we produces for Pathfinder from our first book all the way to the end of 2016 for the crazy price of only $20. That is over 90% off the regular price. This includes some of the highest rated monster books produced for Pathfinder, more than 16 new and expanded player races, exceptional adventures, details on the Plane of Shadows, some of the best options for your spellcaster, imaginative vehicles, all the rules needed for exploring a region and establishing a kingdom, and much, much more. With all of these, your only limit is your imagination.

For $20, you get these great books:

Book of Beasts

  • Legendary Foes
  • Monster Variations
  • Monsters of the River Nations
  • Monsters of the Shadow Plane
  • Wandering Monsters 1
  • War on Yuletide

Book of Friends and Foes

  • Assassins in the River Nations
  • Ratfolk of the Ruins
  • Under the Mountain

Book of Heroic Races

  • Advanced Androids
  • Advanced Catfolk
  • Advanced Changelings
  • Advanced Elans
  • Advanced Gillmen
  • Advanced Favored Class Options
  • Advanced Lizardfolk
  • Advanced Merfolk
  • Advanced Samsarans
  • Advanced Skinwalkers
  • Advanced Tengus
  • Advanced Wyrwoods
  • Advanced Wyvarans
  • Compendium
  • Half Faerie Dragons
  • Reapers
  • Seedlings

Book of Magic

  • 10 Arcanist Exploits
  • 10 Undead Spell Words
  • 7 Spellcaster Feats
  • Energy Words Revisited
  • Gemhancements
  • Insurgency of Summer
  • Patron Hexes
  • Pirate Spells
  • Signature Spells 1
  • Signature Spells 2
  • The Lost Spell Words

Book of Multifarious Munitions

  • 10 Pirate Ships
  • Vehicles of War

Book of the Faithful

  • Celtic Subdomains
  • Oracle Mysteries
  • Power of Prayer
  • The Worshiping Swords

Deadly Delves Adventures

  • Along Came a Spider
  • Doom of the Sky Sword
  • Quests of the Sands
  • Reign of Ruin
  • Rescue from Tyrkaven
  • To Claw the Surface
  • Encounters and Maps: Cave of Kobolds

Riyal’s Research

  • Haunts
  • Traps

Shadowsfall

  • Favored Class Options
  • Guide to Umbral Kobolds
  • Shadow Plane Player’s Companion
  • Shadowsfall Legends: Pawn, Deception and Sacrifice
  • Shadowsfall Legends: Storm of Shadows
  • Shadowsfall Legends The Gem that Caught Fire
  • Temple of Orcus

Other

  • Book of the River Nations: Complete Player’s Reference for Kingdom Building
  • Cavalier Mounts
  • Treasury of the Sands

Grab this deal all through March at the OpenGamingStore, DriveThruRPG/RPGNow and coming soon to Paizo.com

Traveller: Enter the State of Chaos

Long Live the Monarchy

Ms. Klein assigns the travellers to extract seven people from the Torres Monarchy, a region of Alespron Subsector engulfed in a bloody civil war. Here the characters can see for themselves what kind of havoc SORAG can cause if left unchecked. To make matters worse, Zhodani warships are attempting to pacify the more rebellious worlds, only serving to make the people more militant. Can the travellers convince their targets to come peacefully, or will they have to use force to achieve their goal? Will they be caught by Zhodani forces trying to remove such high value persons from that region of space?

This volume of Foreven Worlds continues the Prelude to War Adventure Path and includes:

  • State of Chaos, a Traveller adventure for 4-5 characters, by Martin J. Dougherty
  • The history and gazetteer of Queen’s Heart, a planet of stability surrounded by systems engulfed in war
  • Details on the layout and crew of the Dlaftpar, a Zhodani cargo ship that gets goods to market, food to refugees, and does anything else that will pay
  • Six new Patrons to give your travellers opportunities take some money on the side and develop their characters
  • Ten new creatures of these distant worlds to provide your characters with a new and different challenge

Arrive in the Nick of Time! Be the Big Darn Hero!

Download the Traveller adventure Prelude to War: State of Chaos today from Jon Brazer Enterprises exclusively at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.com.

Traveller: Monsters Are Coming

We are sharing what is inside the upcoming Prelude to War: State of Chaos. Earlier this week we were talking about the adventure itself. Today we are sharing details about one of the appendixes after the adventure, the one covering the monsters.

Weird and unknown creatures have always been a stable of science fiction as well as fantasy. From the crystalline entity and salt-sucking creature of Star Trek to the rancor and the wampa of Star Wars to the giant rock monster of Galaxy Quest, there’s always lots of monsters. And Traveller is no different. Whether you are looking for a psionic rat to invest your ship, a genetically engineered hyena cub that is all the rage of the nobility to have one of their own, or a dog that the ancients scattered to various planets and mutated to a mean, hairless beast, this issue has you covered. So if you want your neobarbarian bandits to be even more viscous, give them a demon dog. Want to throw in a side plot about a giant bat that has been mutilating livestock, we’ve got you covered. Or, if your players need a no-consequence combat to help them get into the game, pull out a giant spider that spits acid and let the players go to town. The choices are up to you.

Animal Hits Speed
Devil Dogs 15 6 m
Skills Athletics (dexterity) 1, Melee (bite) 2, Recon 1
Attacks Bite +2 (1D+1)
Traits Armour (+1), Heightened Senses
Behavior Carnivore, Killer

Download the Traveller adventure Prelude to War: State of Chaos today from Jon Brazer Enterprises exclusively at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.com.

Hyenakin by Matt Bulahao
Hyenakin by Matt Bulahao
Demon Dog by Matt Bulahao
Demon Dog by Matt Bulahao
Majestic Bat by Nicole Cardiff
Majestic Bat by Nicole Cardiff

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