Monday, December 7, 2020

THAT'S NO MOON, or, I wrote a space station generator


Generate a space station! Assumed aesthetic is grimy, industrial, used future. Alien, Rebel Galaxy, Battlestar Galactica, The Expanse, The Mandalorian, Event Horizon.

If you see a table with two given die rolls you can pick which one to roll. It's usually a choice either between flat and curved, or curved and size-dependent.

SIZE (d4)/(d6)

Later rolls call for the Size Die (SD) to be rolled. If you see SD+2 or the like, roll the station's Size Die and add the modifier.

1/1 Tiny (d3)
2/2-3 Small (d4)
3/4-5 Medium (d6)
4/6 Large (d8)


  1. Rod (with SD-2 other rods that are d4 1 Crosswise, 2 Parallel, 3 Spoked, 4 Perpendicular)
  2. Ring (with SD-2 extra rings that are d4 1 Concentric, 2 Adjacent, 3 Perpendicular, 4 Stacked)
  3. Cylinder (d4 1-2 Horizontal 3-4 Vertical) (SD-2 0-2 Tube 3-4 Drum 5-6 Decks)
  4. Sphere (SD-2 0-2 Hollow 3-4 Onion decks 5-6 Stacked decks)
  5. Disc (d4 1 Spoked wheel 2 Pancake 3 Puck 4 Flying saucer)
  6. Polygonal (d4 1 Tetrahedron 2 Octahedron 3 Pentahedron 4 Dodecahedron) OR (d20 sides minimum 4)
  7. Irregular (d6 1 Flower 2 Lumpy 3 Organic 4 Spiky 5 Bulbous 6 Crystalline)
  8. Slab (SD-2 0-2 Simple slab 3-4 City skyline profile 5-6 Lots of projecting berths and piers)
  9. Distributed (SD+2 sections, for each roll d6 on this table but don't do the sub-rolls unless you feel like it)
  10. Agglomeration (SD+2 sections, for each: d4 1 asteroid 2 big ship 3 several small ships 4 another smaller station (roll d6 on Shape table w/o sub-table)
  11. Asteroid (d4 1 hollowed out 2 wrapped around 3 projecting from 4 tethered to)
  12. Tower (1 main tower with SD "floors", plus SD-2 half-size attached sub-towers)(d4 1 tapered 2 brutalist 3 corporate glass 4 spindly)


1 None
2-3 Spin (depending on the shape of the station this may exist in only part or not be possible at all)
4+ Artificial


  1. Mining
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Habitat
  4. Refinery
  5. Commercial
  6. Shipyard
  7. Cargo transfer
  8. Crime
  9. Communications
  10. Observation
  11. Science
  12. Military

d6 1-3 Retrofitted, roll again for original purpose, 4-5 Purpose built 6 Alien/Paleotech

The station has SD-2 additional functions, roll again for each.


0-2 Roll once for the entire station
3-4 Roll once for the overall condition, and once for a specific subsection
5+ Roll for each major section


1/2     Condemned (d4 1 Abandoned 2 Breached 3 Irradiated 4 Haunted)
2/3-5   Dangerous (d4 1 Damaged 2 Poorly maintained 3 Infested 4 Crime)
3-4/6-8 Grungy
5/9-11  Good repair (d4 1 Dedicated staff 2 Positive culture 3 Limited traffic 4 Robots)
6/12    Pristine (d4 1 $$$ 2 Oppressive social hygenie laws 3 Indentured cleaning staff 4 High tech)

OWNERSHIP (d6)/(2d6)

1/1-3   Civilian (Union, Co-op, Private Ownership, Squat)
2/4-5   Government (Military, Cops, Infrastructure, Science)
3/6-7   Corporation
4/8-9   Crime (Organized Crime, Smugglers, Pirates, Blacksite
5/10-11 Wildcat (Salvagers, Prospectors, Miners, Researchers)
6/12    Alien (Absentee, Station AI, Robots, Caretaker, Really really alien, Living station)

SERVICES (d10)/(2d6)

Roll SD-1 times.

1/2   Specialty Shop (d10 Guns, Cybernetics, Science, Engineering, Industrial, Food, Exporter, Importer, Broker, Fence) (d6 1 shady af 2-3 shady 4-5 legit 6 famous specialist)
2/3   FTL Comm (duplicates increase range and cost)
3/4   Medbay (duplicates increase quality of care and cost)
4/5   Market (if duplicate, d6 1-4 bigger better market, 5-6 there's a black market too) (general stores, plus roll SD-2 times on the Specialty Shop list)
5/6   Cantina (d6 1-3 Shady af 4-5 Shady 6 Upscale) (duplicates indicate additional cantinas)
6/7-8 Fuelling (duplicates indicate more expensive)
7/9   Repair Bay (d6 1-3 run by station owners, 4-5 independent, 6 shady af) (if duplicate d6 1-4 bigger better more expensive bay, 5-6 additional bay)
8/10  Faction Agent (if duplicate, d6 1-3 upgrade existing agent, 4-6 add new agent from another faction)
9/11  Salvage Yard (d6 1-3 shady af 4-5 slightly shady 6 legitimate)
10/12 Shipyard (on duplicate d6 1-3 bigger more expensive yard, 4-5 additional yard, 6 yard does black market work)

Shadiness Table 

Roll d8 on this if a result is shady, with a +2 if it's shady af

1 Unreliable goods
2 Stolen goods
3 Organized crime front
4 Pirate front
5 Rebel/insurgent safehouse
6 Black market connections
7-8 Under cop surveillance (roll d6 for why)
9-10 Cop sting (roll d6 for disguise)


11 A major theft has the station on lockdown.
12 Pirates recently strafed the station, are threatening to do it again unless paid off.
13 Someone hacked the station emergency services, the pressure warning sirens keep going off randomly.
14 An underboss from the regional organized crime syndicate is visiting with a retinue, everyone is on edge.
15 An unidentified body has been found.
16 The station manager is murdered shortly after the PCs arrive.
21 A solar flare fried the docking systems. Boarding the station requires spacewalks until it gets fixed.
22 A foreign bacteria got past the scanners and infected the station's algae tanks. It's not toxic, but it does make all the food taste strongly of anise.
23 A mandatory firmware update to the station doors included a prototype AI assistant. Make reaction rolls for doors.
24 Life support has gone haywire and keeps randomly pumping pure O2 into compartments. Causes giddiness at first, then diorientation, followed by lung and eye damage, and eventually death.
25 A micrometeorite swarm has damaged the solar panels. Strict power rationing and rolling blackouts is in effect until repairs can be made.
26 Starship fuel has leaked into a cargo bay after a accident. The station is waiting on a hazmat crew from the nearest popuation centre and hoping it doesn't explode before then.
31 A child's fuzzy alien pet has reproduced. A lot. Now the station is overrun by the harmless, adorable creatures.
32 A diaspora group is having an annual festival and people from all over have packed the station to attend.
33 A beloved local elder has passed, and much of the station is shut down for mourning.
34 The station is having a cooking competition to see who can prepare the local delicacy the best. Visitors are dragooned into being judges.
35 Two of the station's leaders are having a bad breakup and refusing to communicate except through intermediaries.
36 Impromptu reunion, as a childhood friend or estranged family member of a PC is on the station by (apparent) coincidence.
41 A pod of space whales is loitering near the station. Beautiful, but they're risking a collision with a passing ship.
42 An enormous teal crystalline structure has appeared in close orbit around the system's star. Everyone is having bizarre, prophetic dreams.
43 A passing band of theta radiation is making the station's hull audibly resonate. Some say it sounds like music, other hear voices.
44 The station is gripped with terror as residents report unearthly figures lurking in corridors, appearing in locked rooms, etc.
45 Silicon-based, vacuum-tolerant, metal-eating "moss" has colonized the station's hull, spreading fast. A quarantine is about to be imposed.
46 A ghost ship arrive on autopilot. Everyone is sure it's haunted (weird noises, windows smeared with blood) and no-one wants to investigate.
51 A mediocre movie starring B-list actors has come to film. They're in the way, but people are excited and they're throwing money around.
52 A famous bounty hunter has arrived and is hanging out in the cantina. Everyone is terrified, sure she's there for them.
53 A small navy ship has docked for emergency maintenance and given the crew shore leave. What do you do with a drunken spacer?
54 A popular comms-cast has claimed the station is related to a famous lost treasure. A horde of amateur treasure hunters have descended. The only question is whether the locals can hustle them for everything they've got before they all get bored and leave.
55 Another crew of freelancers arrives at the same time as the PCs, after the same score/target/job/treasure.
56 A mysterious VIP has arrived with a small army of bodyguards, personal assistants, and lawyers. Nobody knows who they are or why they've come.
61 A major strike is spreading across the system and the station is joining in, and everyone is bracing for reprisals by The Company.
62 The station is the hub for Company actions during a major system-wide strike. They're aggressively recruiting scabs and strikebreakers.
63 An election is underway to replace station management. It's hotly contested, and the locals expect visitors to take sides.
64 The Company is leveraging sanctions and blackballing against the station in a hostile takeover attempt. The locals desperately need supplies and aid.
65 System police are brutally ransacking the station and harassing the locals, ostensibly pursuing a high-value fugitive.
66 A popular anti-corporate movement is sweeping the system, and the station has become a battleground between protesters and corporate gunmen.

Monday, September 28, 2020

5e GM Reference Cheatsheet/Playmat

 I like the utility of the GM Screen, but I don't like the... screen part. Plus it's not super helpful for playing online.  So I knocked together a playmat. It's mostly 5e, with a few tweaks I made, some rules brought over from Knave and The Black Hack, and some "GM moves" from BitD/AW/DW.


Sunday, September 27, 2020

SALVATION ON A BAYONET, a Warband list for Grimlite

I recently pulled all my old 40k minis out of storage and have been going through them to see what's still usable and whatnot, and I sequestered a bunch of the random pirate/renegade/random Imperial Guard conversions I'd made over the years for the purposes of GRIMLITE, Chris McDowall's skirmish wargame. I like the included warbands well enough, but, well, I gotta be me and make my own.  This is the first draft, based on the minis I have available.

The People's Defence Brigades

They trade protection and technology to villages in their territory for supplies and recruits. This is not optional.  "We will save this doomed planet, whether they want it or not."

LEADERS (5pts)
Lieutenant (Precise 3+)
Ruthlessly trained by the Captain-General, these officers lead their brigades with an iron fist.
Spend up to 5pts on weapons

Tactic - Forward! Spend two actions. Every Ally that can see you can immediately Move even if they are Exhausted
Link: Your nearest Ally can use one of your three Actions, even if they are Exhausted.

Discipline Officer (Fierce 3+)
These die-hard believers in the Cause stalk the battlefield ensuring discipline and compliance.
Spend up to 5pts on weapons

Icon: Allies that can see you count as Touching you when rolling Recovery.
Tactic - Found Wanting! Deal 1 Wound to an Ally you are Touching. All Allies who can see you immediately roll Trauma, treating results of 2 as 1.

Sergeant (Tough 3+)
These grizzled vets are the backbone of each Brigade, often leading in their own right.
Spend up to 5pts on weapons

Sensor: You and your nearest Ally ignore penalties for Firing at targets in Cover.

Reviver: Use an action to have an Ally you are Touching automatically Recover.

AGENTS (3pts)
Specialist (Precise, 4+)
Sharp-eyed snipers, demolition specialists, and heavy weapons troopers.
Spend up to 4pts on Weapons from the Special Weapons and Small Arms lists.

Scout (Elusive, 4+)
These soldiers know how move silently and kill cleanly.
Spend up to 4pts on Weapons from the Small Arms and Melee Weapons lists.

Stormtrooper (Nimble, 4+)
They lead the way, breaching and clearing occupied positions. Great honour, short lives.
Spend up to 4pts on Weapons from the Small Arms list.

Trooper (Precise, 5+)
The standard dog soldier of the Brigade, given basic training and a sturdy rifle.
Spend up to 2pts on Weapons from the Small Arms list.

Raiders (Fierce, 5+)
Wholly devoted to the Cause, these poorly armed volunteers rush ahead to engage the enemy.
Spend up to 2pts on Weapons from the Small Arms and Melee Weapons lists.

Special Weapons
RPG (1x3, x2 Damage if you have not Moved this Turn)
Flamethrower (1x3, Free Shoot at an enemy when you move into contact with them)
Light Machine Gun (3x1, Shoot twice if you do nothing else this turn)

Grenade Launcher (1x2, If you Down a target they are also Exhausted)
Sniper Rifle (1x2, Roll twice for Shock and choose the result)

Small Arms
Blunderbuss (1x4, disabled if a 1 is rolled)
Grenades (1x2, x2 Damage vs targets touching Cover)
Pulse Pistol (1x2, Free Shoot at an enemy when you move into contact with them)
Heavy Pistol (1x2, Roll twice for Shock and choose the result)

Pulse Rifle (2x1)
Shotgun (1x2)

Melee Weapons
Mecha-Fist (1x3, if you Down a target they are also Exhausted)

Energized Blade (2x1, Target Saves at QL5+)
Ripper Sword (2x1, x2 Damage on attacks rolling 6)

Blade, Club, Bayonet (2x1)

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

HOW DO YOU HUNT A BEAR, or, Excerpts From a Bestiary

Rewatch: The 13th Warrior (1999) | I enthuse
How DO you hunt a bear?

 At some point my decision to convert the OD&D bestiary to The Black Hack to make my life easier while stocking a hex crawl has turned into a much larger project. Because scope control is for nerds.

I just finished the "Animals" section and thought I'd share some (unedited and untested) highlights...

Bears, man.  They're bad news.

In seriousness, one interesting thing I found while exploring the OD&D and B/X bestiaries is that animals are appropriately scary in a way that they really aren't in later editions. In 5e a bear is not a significantly greater threat than an orc.  Which is just wrong. I would assume that the mundane got pushed down the Challenge Rating to make room for the fantastical. I decided I wanted to keep mundane animals as proper threats, while adding some fantastical-ness to them.

I am a Very Serious Designer

You should be afraid of herbivores.

But not everything needs to be an existential threat.