'Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,' the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. 'Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.'

-Robert E. Howard
Beyond The Black River

Corrupt Cliffs

Corrupt Cliffs
Get your FREE Narrative Terrain Deck today!

Places of Interest

Showing posts with label Sci-fi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sci-fi. Show all posts

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Conan 2099: The FUTURE!: An Initial idea.

Yesterday as I hopped around the internet this came across my feed...

Apparently, Marvel is looking to add a few characters to their 2099 universe in celebration of 80 years. Conan has been chosen along with a few other characters, such as The Punisher and the Fantastic Four to be full-fledged 2099 one-shots. We will then see the universe show up among regular titles as well. However, we are here to talk about the Cimmerian.

Upon seeing it I chuckled and thought of all the people who would lose their minds as Marvel completed a whole new twist on the character. That is not what this blog post is about. It is about my second thought, "I want to play this!", this would be a super fun setting for an RPG game! First I have no clue about Marvel 2099, so we will just drop that as the rosetta stone of the setting. Instead, we will use our own ideas and inspirations from my own head as well as ideas liberally inspired by other settings.

I thought it might be fun to do a series of blog posts on building this setting and the reasons for choices I might make. To start the series I figured it would be good to introduce the idea in this post and outline some questions and ideas I will fill in as I continue with the series, eventually arriving at a rule system and any other material I might need to play the system, such as setting descriptions, main antagonists, gear and equipment, etc.

Let's start with a list of ideas from the covers of the book.
  • High tech
  • Not post apocalyptic
  • Laser sword
  • flying cars
  • high tech armor or cybernetics?

Some other ideas we need to incorporate.
  • Barbarism vs Civilization
  • Magic/sorcery
  • Short tales
  • Earth
  • Why swords? Do we still use guns?

Finally where can we take some ideas from, I have brainstormed these settings and ideas myself or from online input from others.
  • Thundarr
  • He-man
  • John Carter
  • Bladerunner
  • Shadowrun
  • Starwars
  • 2099

As I go forward with this I realize I need a system to enact this idea.
  • Genesys
  • Modern Age
  • Savage Worlds

If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

If you have questions or comments don't forget to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram!

Make sure you don't miss a single post and subscribe by e-mail today!

If you need to check out any of these great games stop on by DriveThruRPG and pick something up through my affiliate link to help support the blog!

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Expanse RPG: First impressions (more or less)

The e-mail came and I immediately downloaded the PDF from Green Ronin. I was anxious to see the Expanse RPG in all its glory. I had seen the quick start and Modern Age rules, both of which I liked. This was the full book though and I was excited.

The RPG is broken out into 3 basic sections: Players section, A Guide to the Expanse, and the Gamemaster's Sections The RPG opens with the new novella by James SA Corey and then rolls right into the rules and character creation, tech, ships and eventually a section on the world of the Expanse, detailing Mars, Earth and the Belt.

Some of the art I love, some of it I am luke warm too, but overall the book looks good and I was anxious to find some time to dig deeper into it.

It's hard for me to have a strong first impression of a .pdf file, as much as I see them as a useful way to get content to us, for me they are still not that physical book. So initially? It is what I expected after seeing Modern Age and the Expanse quick start. I can not wait to have a physical copy.

Intro & Rules

I did spent a little time with it to get a better idea of what exactly this book looked like. Many RPGs have flavor text and may even open with a small blurb about the world. The Expanse starts with a short story written by James SA Corey for the RPG. So we are already starting off plenty strong with a full piece of prose from the authors of this beloved series.

Once we get past the story we are whisked into the basic rules of how things work. How characters make skill tests, what a stunt die is and does. It is not a complicated system and it might be a good middle ground between something overly simple and something overly crunchy. I haven't had time to play yet though, so time will tell.

Character Creation

After the basic rules we are introduced to character creation which is laid out in a nice 10 step process. I find that creating characters can sometimes be a little convoluted for a new player. As a new character playing Pathfinder for the first time, I didn't find it super easy. As a new player to Conan 2d20, I would level the same criticism of it. In comparison John Carter was a simple character building system and I suspect this will be similar, as the builds in Modern Age were not difficult.

After the basics of character creation have been talking about our next chapter is the list of talents and traits players can take to customize their characters beyond their basic stats.

Tech and Equipment

And then we are onto Tech and Equipment. What sci-fi game is complete without advanced technology? Generally anything we see in the Expanse is probably going to be something we recognize in our modern world, from hand terminals to space ships. They provide a fairly comprehensive list of traits and ideas to build most any tech you might want. Here we have weapons lists and armor lists including the impressive Martian power armor.

The section includes dealing with income and lifestyle. We get a section on how this system deals with a characters basic upkeep based on their income level from character creation.

I would have liked to have seen more rules on cybernetics and similar. I know this isn't a cyberpunk game, but we see basic implants in the books, perhaps we will see this in a later expansion, as I do not think we see them until later in the books. The same can be said about drugs, specifically combat drugs, but again, perhaps we will see something more specific later.


The next section talks about different types of encounters and breaks them into 2 chief areas: Action, Exploration and Social. Each of these sections includes rules and stunt lists that you have access to if you manage to roll stunt points.

Action encounters include melee combat, chases and vehicles. It lists various forms of stunts such as grappling stunts and gun stunts, and continues to list various special things you can do for vehicles and chases.

Exploration encounters has stunts for general exploration and infiltration. It contains ideas and stunts for general exploration and investigations as well as detailing how to use hazards with the scenarios.

Social encounters lists ideas about how NPCs may react to characters through "Attitude", and as always continues into a list of things you may get to spend stunt points on. An example of a social stunt might all a player to read the room and get a general feel for who has what attitude toward the players.

Finally the section ends with interludes, small pieces of narrative downtime where the players can accomplish goals. These can be between adventures or during ship transits. Any time there is an extended period where there is no action.

Starships & Space Travel

The final part of this section centers around spaceships and spaceflight. It opens with a basic lesson on real orbits and transits between bodies, but if you really want to get a good handle on how all this works you should go grab a copy of "Kerbal Space Program."

Once we get through our primer we talk about ships and their attributes and qualities. They do not provide a cost for a ship based on the understanding that even the smallest of these are not things a normal person just owns.

Finally we round out the section with ship encounters, combat and how to spend Stunt Points. I wrote an article on starship combat during the quickstarter. I can't tell you nothing has changed, but it looks similar enough that it is worth checking out if you are interested in how it runs.

Setting Information

Leaving the rules behind for a little while we enter into the section called, "Guide to the Expanse". This section details the current state of the system with sections describing Earth, Mars, the Belt and the Outer Planets. It looks to be a comprehensive guide on not only the planets, but on the people as well.

The guide covers cultures and the language of the Belt, Belter Creole, as well as physiological changes humanity has, or is experiencing, as we evolve to match our new environments.

The guide details important stations, moons and holdings of each of the factions and I suspect upon reading it should give a great deal of insight into the overall world of the Expanse, and as well plant some wonderful story ideas.

This section also includes stats for the protagonists from the Expanse. They are sprinkled throughout the section based on what planet they call home. James and Amos being listed with Earth for example.

Running the Expanse

After the history and general Expanse fluff information we move into the meat of the book for the GM. This next section talks about GMing the game, and compromised about 30% of the book starting on page 180. It starts as all games should, assuming you know nothing. We get an overview of what a GM does and then we move on to more specifics, how to make adventures, rolling or not and being inclusive at the table.

There is a lengthy section on threats for environmental and adversaries, including a section on social adversaries. This section includes a small listing of sample opponents such as gangs and security forces as well as the creations of the proto-molecule. This section also goes over the basics of creating your NPCs as well, and gives us some guidelines on using them.

We then have a section on how we might reward PCs, both monetarily and beyond. These might include relationships, memberships in organizations or reputation.

The second section of the book rounds out with a chapter on writing a series or a campaign for your Expanse characters. It talks about how you might want to structure it and gives you some ideas to explore.

Adventure and Information Sheets

Finally we have an adventure to run to get you up and playing as quickly as possible. I haven't done anything more than quickly glance through it, as I don't generally run pre-written adventures. I will of course take a deeper look at this one and the quick start adventure to get a feel, and some ideas, before getting ready to run my first Expanse game.

The book rounds out with the typical things we would find: An index, character sheets and other tracking sheets, such as the Churn. Not much more to say here, everything we expect to see is available.

Final Thoughts

At first pass it looks like a good book that is well laid out. It is hard to tell for sure without having played it, or done much more than give it a quick read over. Right now I can tell you that this RPG will give you ~260 pages of Expanse goodness courtesy of Green Ronin and James SA Corey. If you are a fan of RPGs and the Expanse, I highly recommend you grab a copy of this in the near future when it becomes available!

If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

If you have questions or comments don't forget to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram!

Make sure you don't miss a single post and subscribe by e-mail today!

If you need to check out any of these great games stop on by DriveThruRPG and pick something up through my affiliate link to help support the blog!

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Story Seed Tuesday: Suns

Welcome to the first of a new weekly series we are going to try on Starships & Steel, "Story Seed Tuesday".

Whether you play Dungeons and Dragons 5e, Rifts or Traveller I hope you find a story idea in one of these articles.


Articles like this began to pop-up recently: Sun will Turn Into a Solid Crystal

WOAH. When I first saw these pop-up I was blown away, I'm pretty sure I haven't encountered that in sci-fi, and immediately my mind turned to a small starship on approach to a massive crystal hanging infront of it in the heavens.

  • Did this crystallization cause a civilization to die?
  • Did an advanced species mine the ancient star?
  • Is the crystal integral to the villain's doomsday machine?
  • Is something alive in the giant crystal?
  • Is it a backdrop to a giant orbital station?


Giant crystalline suns will be hard to beat, but lets keep suns as the theme of the day.

As you move towards the poles of our world the days and nights become increasingly long depending on the time of the year. Far enough north and the darkness is eternal for half of the year. To people who don't understand science this concept on any world is rife with ideas.

  • The yearly darkness is spreading further south.
  • Some dark creature emerges from it's lair to hunt during the darkness.
  • Sorcery is at it's height at this time, the wizard must be stopped.
  • Every year champions are sent north to fight back the darkness.

If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

If you have questions or comments don't forget to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram!

Make sure you don't miss a single post and subscribe by e-mail today!

If you need to check out any of these great games stop on by DriveThruRPG and pick something up through my affiliate link to help support the blog!

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Expanse RPG: VTT Assets!

We are hoping to see a full copy of the Expanse RPG this month (January 2019) as per Update 28. Understandably I am excited to see the final products. Not surprisingly my posts are moving towards the Expanse right now as my excitement builds!

My last post brought us a new Extension for use with Fantasy Grounds and the MoreCore ruleset. Today's post will be a list of VTT assets you can grab for a few bucks to use within Fantasy Grounds to help fuel your Belter, MCRN or UN adventures!



Objects and Props

I found that, although there was a fair number of battlemaps available for sci-fi settings, there was a relatively small amount of tokens for sci-fi. Even less if you want more generic harder sci-fi looking tokens. For your personal games you might be better off combing the Internet for images you can use and the passing them through one of the tools below to generate a token.

These tools will allow you to take basic images and make decent looking tokens for your VTT needs.

If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

If you have questions or comments don't forget to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram!

Make sure you don't miss a single post and subscribe by e-mail today!

If you need to check out any of these great games stop on by DriveThruRPG and pick something up through my affiliate link to help support the blog!

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Battlestar Galactica: Starship Battles. First Look

I finally got my copy of Battlestar Galactica: Starship battles! You can check out my box opening here, BSG Box Opening, but don't worry it's quite short. This blog article is about my first impressions after opening the box and looking at the components. I am not looking to do a direct comparison with X-wing when I talk about this game, but it's hard to not bring it up play wise and component wise, simply because X-wing has been around awhile and I suspect most people reading this will be somewhat aware of it.

First Impressions

I had of course seen pictures of the box online, but this was my first time seeing it and holding it. It's outward basic form is that of most of the games of this type: Sails of Glory, Wings of Glory or X-wing. The little plastic window showed me their cool models, which did not disappoint. I also really liked the inside of the box having the phrase, "SO SAY WE ALL", across the box, one word on each side. Very cool.

Upon opening the box the first thing that made me chuckle was the books having their page edges cut off, just like all the paper we see in the TV show. It was a nice little touch. The insides of the box are nicely laid out with plenty of room for everything. I'll make a note that the cards all fit great when in plastic, but once open they are prone to no longer staying where they belong. This could be an issue with the maneuver decks, as you don't want them getting mixed up.


Excellent. These models are beautiful. I expected that from Ares, as I had played Wings of Glory at a New Years Eve gathering some years ago. They are a little bigger than what we see in X-wing, but I am ok with that. Still I am happy to see them do justice to the Colonial Viper, down to call signs and markings. Very cool. The Cylon raiders are likewise excellent, and I am looking forward to the release of new ships, especially raiders from the original series.

This set comes with two Vipers and two Raiders, just as the windows shows. There isn't any other models in this box, but for $50, I wouldn't expect there to be.

Plastic components

In addition to plotting maneuvers in BSG:SSB, you have a plastic control panel allowing you to plan headings and speeds, as well as a few other things. This control panel is pretty cool and a nice way to track these parts of the game. Unfortunately these are a little stiff. (I'll note that they seem to have loosened up a little over time).

The game also comes, unsurprisingly, with plastic flight stands. These stands are different from what we see in X-wing and I found them to be a little more robust. They also have the ability to select heading, allowing ships to have a heading different than the direction of travel.


Like most games you get a selection of cards. Like X-wing these include ships and pilots. They also have a selection of cards to personalize your pilots with talents and flaws. Each ship also gets a maneuver deck which is used to plot movements and is the movement template itself, similar to the X-wing maneuver dial. All of the cards are nice, although apart from the ship cards, they are pretty small. The size is in line with the size of the ship add-on cards in X-wing. Downside I see here is the maneuver deck is a set of hexagonal cards. Sleeving them will be difficult.

Card Stock Components

You also get a series of card stock components with the game, basic tokens and range rulers. Nothing fancy here. Everything looks good and inline with the aesthetic of the game. The only standout is the asteroid fields, but it's because it's printed on thin card stock, more like a construction paper weight. They will work, but they aren't as nice as what was in X-wing. Of course I will suggest the game will be prettier with a series of asteroid models....


Although I appreciate people liking fancy dice, afterall it's more COOL DICE!, I am not generally as much of a fan. I like the concept of the dice in X-wing, as I like counting successes and fails rather than adding dice. However I dislike having to buy a certain die pack to get more. So depending on where you fall on this side of things you will either love or hate that BSG:SSB uses a simple set of 2d6.


It is a nice set. Fully worth the $52cad I picked it up for. Four excellent models, 4 plastic control panels and a plethora of cards and punch outs. My initial impressions of the components is easily......
4 out of 5 Skulls of my Enemies!

If you liked this article then don't forget to subscribe to get the next exciting installment on pulp gaming both Sci-Fi and Fantasy!

If you have questions or comments don't forget to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube or Instagram!
If you need to check out any of these great games stop on by DriveThruRPG and pick something up through my affiliate link to help support the blog!

Till next time, don't forget to Keep it Weird!

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Expanse RPG: Ship Combat!

Today in an Expanse Extra Kickstarter update we got our first flavors of what ship to ship combat will look like in the rpg. The RPG is a literary license and not a TV license, so although we have seen some cool ship combat realized on the screen, I don't expect it to be what drives the RPG ship combat.

The ship combat in the books is good and as with the other outer space stuff it tries to be as realistic as possible. To realize this we need ship momentum, range and 3d space, all of which can be tricky in a wargame scenario where the ships are the *WHOLE* game. Let's take a look at the sample we got today to see how well it stacks up. Is it a good mix of realism vs excitement and playability?

Upon first glance it appears a ship combat phase has a few segments. Please don't forget these are just my first impressions from the example and I could be totally out to lunch on how the rules will actually look.
  • Orders.
  • Maneuvers.
  • Electronic Warfare.
  • Weapons Fire.
  • Defensive Action.
  • Weapons Damage.
  • Damage Control.

From the example I will try and break down what is going on in each phase.


The Captain makes a Communication(Leadership) roll to see if the orders are successful, gaining stunt points which can be used later. Failure here doesn't cripple the ship, but the crew has no stunt points from the Captain to help them out of a tough situation.


We don't get much information on maneuvers, but from the example it looks like they are a way for the ships to primarily control range against each other, meaning all the specifics of 3d space may simply be left to the GMs description. I don't hate that idea. We also see that pulling high G maneuvers will have possible negative effects on the crew represented, at least in this example, by Constitution(Stamina) checks

Electronic Warfare

This looks like a simple Intelligence(Technology) roll giving the players a bonus to their defensive maneuvers, or the opportunity to use the stunt points. We see a ship rendered unable to attack by spending 3 SPs in the example.

Weapons Fire

The example makes this out to be a simple declaration of fire.

Defensive Maneuvers

This portion is where the hits and misses are determined. Generally rolling piloting vs the attacking ships sensor suite +10. ie A sensor score of 10 means your evasion roll is against 14. This is where we can use those EW points.

Weapons Damage

If a hit is scored simply roll damage and subtract the hull rating of the ship, which appears to be a rolled number. Remaining damage is handled through losses, which read much like how we deal with player damage. Each loss, I suspect, reduces remaining damage by 1d6. It is possible a ship can only handle a certain number of losses in a turn, as we see a ship removed from play as, even after 2 losses, a single damage point remains. The largest question I have here is if ships have hull points like characters have fortune points. We see these losses cause all kinds of havoc from the reduction in Piloting to collateral damage amongst the crew, meaning they behave like a condition applied to a character. It will be interesting to see how this all comes together in the rules.

Damage Control

This looks to be a simple Intelligence (Engineering Test) allowing a player to fix the ship, ie remove penalties. We also see these describes as advanced tests, so the players might be working hard to fix a problem and end up with another before they are finished.

I suspect we will see a list of stunts for spaceship combat, possible for most of the areas, with the command stunts able to help out the remaining crew members as needed.

Overall it looks like it has potential to be a cool system, and the use of those stunt points and EW points is going to make every member of the crew important in the game universe. If however you were hoping for some kind of wargames system to allow Expanse style miniature combat, this is not that.

What are your thoughts on this combat system? Drop me a comment below and lets get some discussion going!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Expanse RPG: The Zone, Part 1: The Basics.

I first encountered this idea in Conan 2d20, which isn't surprising since it was the RPG that brought me back to this hobby. I've seen it used a spatial idea in other games since then, which isn't to say Conan was the first, just the first to me.

When not playing theatre of the mind, games like Pathfinder use a grid or a measurement to move miniatures around and determine if they can attack. ie Thogar, my warrior can move 20' in a turn and a square is typically 5 feet, allowing my character to move 4 spaces in a turn.

Zones allow us to understand our spatial relationships but remove the idea of moving 4 squares or 5 squares. It gives up some granularity and some level of tactics, but gives us a fairly nice bridge between the boardgame/wargame feel of a grid/measurement based system and a theatre of the mind.

If you are unfamiliar with a zone, you can think of it as a spatial area where some action might take place. It's size isn't *THAT* important but should probably make some sense given the encounter. If we take a generic tavern we might have 4 or 5 zones.
  • The Bar.
  • The Front Entrance.
  • The Tables.
  • The Fireplace.
  • The Dark Corner.
Instead of measuring your 4 or 5 spaces a character can generally use their standard action/move to simply move from one zone into another. Moving around inside a zone is generally a simple/minor/half-move action depending on the game you are playing. Yes it removes the ability to do tactically think about where a character is moving and if they will trigger attacks of opportunity or similar. Yes it removes the ability of some players to be a little faster than others. What it does give you is a fairly simply way to spatially show about where players and their antagonists are located in an environment.

You can also fairly easily define areas that are slower to move through by simply making those zones a little smaller. Consider the following graphic showing a road flanked on either side by dense forests. Without specifically counting squares we can see that the road is a faster way to travel and in this case, twice as fast.

You can further make the environments interesting by adding skill tests or increased difficulties to the zones. In Conan 2d20 perhaps the forests add +1D to all skill tests including combat unless they are at home in the forest. In something like ICRPG where you set a TN for the room, you could now set it for each zone instead. Perhaps the zone is on a cliff edge and requires a dexterity test to not slip and another once slipped to not fall off the edge? As you can see it has the ability to add a lot of environmental factors in pretty easily.

You can define these zones with terrain as normal, although this is often the most challenging way to do it as terrain will often bleed together and where a zone is exactly can be difficult for a player to see, especially if they are used to a grid or measure based system. Another way to define a zone is with a set of simple index cards, and I would be remiss without mentioning Runehammer's collections of index cards that make excellent zone markers. Currently he is up to four collections of these cards, with volume 3 being sci-fi oriented.

Our next installment is going to look at how I am thinking of implanting this with Expanse given the full set of Modern Age rules. Things may change but it will give us a good starting place on how to implement this awesome and simple system in our games.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Expanse Rpg. Miniatures?

The quick start presents the rules from a "Theatre of the Mind" perspective. They do mention miniatures and how to convert speed onto a grid scale, but this isn't Savage Worlds. However if you are like me you like miniatures and an excuse to buy more is a good thing!

At present there are no official Expanse miniatures. There are of course various sci-fi and near sci-fi collections out there. I made an attempt to go out and find a few of those and categorize them into areas they might fit into the universe of The Expanse.

This is far from a definitive list and most links will take you to whole collections of similar figures. I also realize these might not be the most ideal miniatures for your vision.

If you have some others you think would make awesome Expanse figures drop me a comment!

The Executives and Politicians

These make up the higher end of government and business. Characters like Chrisjen Avasarala, Sadavir Errinwright and Jules-Pierre Mao.

Men in Black
Copplestone Castings
Hasslefree Miniatures

Star Helix and Other Security Firms

The private security of the belt and inner planets. Guys and gals with guns, also investigators like Miller

Cops and Paramilitary
Gov't Types
Heresy Miniatures


The Military. Naval officers, Marines, etc. Bobbie Draper of the MCRN Marines is an example.

Nova Corp
Reaper Bones
Heresy Miniatures
Admiral Edwards
Hasslefree Miniatures


Militia types representing the loose knit organization of freedom fighters and terrorists

Citizen Militia 1
Copplestone Castings
Copplestone Castings
Scavenger Heros
Copplestone Castings


General people living and working on Mars or Earth

Copplestone Castings
Modern Civilians
Old Glory Miniatures

Player Characters

The Holdens, Nagatas, Burtons and Kamals of the universe

Heresy Miniatures
Laran Jax
Hasslefree Miniatures
Hasslefree Miniatures

Company list

A list of the companies used in picking a few miniatures I felt might fir into the Expanse. I am sure there are others with these manufacturers as well as others. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Expanse RPG. The Churn.

Kenzo: It must be nice, having everything figured out like that.
Amos: Ain’t nothing to do with me: we’re just caught in the Churn, that’s all.
Kenzo: I have no idea what you just said.
Amos: This boss I used to work for in Baltimore, he called it the Churn. When the rules of the game change.
Kenzo: What game?
Amos: The only game. Survival. When the jungle tears itself down and builds itself into something new. Guys like you and me, we end up dead. Doesn’t really mean anything. Or, if we happen to live through it, well that doesn’t mean anything either.

We got another Expanse Extra yesterday. That is a new mechanic from the RPG that isn't in the quick start. This time the Churn is detailed. This is a mechanic to simulate things going from bad to worse. It will add tension and consequence to the adventure. For me it is similar but different to the role Doom plays in Conan 2d20.

In 2d20, doom stands as a pile that gets added to when various things occur. The GM can then spend that to make bad guys more powerful, introduce more bad guys or just in general make things hard on the players. It is a mechanic designed to simulate the flow of Robert E Howard's epic tales of Conan.

The Churn, although implemented differently, is essentially a mechanic with the same goal in terms of the flow of the story. Things are going well for the players, they have this in the bag. Suddenly the rules change on them and what was easy now becomes difficult.

In it's essence "The Churn" is a running total, when characters do certain things a point is added to that total. When it reaches 10 there is a chance a Minor Stage 1 Churn event happens. If it doesn't happen, the total will increase. When it reaches 20 a Major Stage 2 Churn event may occur. If no event is triggered it continues to increase until it reaches 30, here we have a chance of an Epic Stage 3 Churn event. As you can see each time we get to 10, we check for an event, the level of event increases as the multiple of 10 increases. If you get to 10 points in stage 3, an Epic Stage 3 event occurs. No matter when the pool is triggered it resets to 0.

My first impression is that the Stage 1 events are a little weak IMHO, more choice here would be great. However since I haven't played I don't actually know how fast these things will get generated and it might happen several times in an encounter, and if that is the case it is probably fine.

Either way I am a fan of this style of mechanic. The fact that accumulating The Churn means something bad is going to happen may add enough tension all on it's own to make players a little squirrely.

Be sure to check out my other articles on the Expanse RPG!