Lots of Dice and a little Cepheus Engine, too

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
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Reynard
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby Reynard » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:28 pm

Took a quick look. Hi, we're kinda like Traveller but not really Traveller. Sounds as if one of the nay sayers here finally went and made their 'better' Traveller.

Personally I have Traveller. I don't need a slightly alternate Traveller to play Traveller. A bit redundant. Not saying there's anything wrong with the alternate system but... redundant.
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby fusor » Sat Jul 02, 2016 9:23 pm

Reynard wrote:Took a quick look. Hi, we're kinda like Traveller but not really Traveller. Sounds as if one of the nay sayers here finally went and made their 'better' Traveller.

Personally I have Traveller. I don't need a slightly alternate Traveller to play Traveller. A bit redundant. Not saying there's anything wrong with the alternate system but... redundant.
This isn't for people who already have Traveller. It's just a complete version of the OGL rules (with a few tweaks) that can be used as the base system for peoples' games. Or for third party publishers to make more rules for.
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby Prime_Evil » Sun Jul 03, 2016 12:14 am

ShawnDriscoll wrote:I have OSR books that will not say "D&D" in them. OGL just means soul-less game rules. Only one career is allowed in the generic 2D6. It's like Linux people who end up trying to run Windows on their computers, because Linux.
Hey, I'm a Linux user and I don't need no steenkin' Windows! :D

However, I do think the Traveller community consists of two distinct groups - those who like the elegance of the game system itself and those who are deeply invested in the 3E setting. These two groups overlap to some extent, but there certainly is a vocal minority who feel that the rules are inseparable from the setting. These folks will probably find the Cepheus Engine to be 'soulless'. And that's OK, because they have the official Mongoose releases to keep them happy and are well-served by the new licensing arrangements that encourage 3PP to tie their releases to the OTU. But for people who fall into the first camp and who like to tinker with the game system under the hood, the Cepheus Engine may be a good base from which to build a custom version of the game tailored to their own tastes. And that's fine too.

We may be get the best of both worlds here - a well-supported edition of Traveller that continues to develop the OTU and encourages 3PP publishers to contribute to the OTU, plus an OGL retroclone that lets people tinker and build their own custom settings without "polluting" the core system.
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby Infojunky » Sun Jul 03, 2016 2:28 am

Prime_Evil wrote:
However, I do think the Traveller community consists of two distinct groups - those who like the elegance of the game system itself and those who are deeply invested in the 3E setting.
More groups than that, you forgot the CT group that expands their options with Mongoose and other 2d6 based games. With the addition of a more open setting and OGL rules set more can be done. Remember Some of us remember all the 3rd party stuff that was released alongside the original editions of Traveller very fondly.

While MgT is great in a lot of respects, the 3rd party products could be what save them in the long run, patching the glaring wholes and miss-steps in both their editions.
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby Gypsy Knights Games » Sun Jul 03, 2016 3:11 pm

fusor wrote:Why are people not allowed to say "based on the Traveller RPG system" and have to use something like this ridiculously convoluted "Inspired by the original three books of the oldest 2D6-based science fiction roleplaying game" nonsense? D&D did the same thing too.
The main reason is because of the way the license read. The thing that allowed the 3PP to place "Traveller" on their products was the Traveller Logo License which died with the advent of 2e and TAS. Most of us have decided that since we are restricted from calling it "Traveller" that the best legal position is to simply not mention the word at all. Indeed, when we reformatted Clement Sector, we even removed our use of the word "traveler" in a lot of place just to avoid potential problems.

I have been known to refer to the rules as "The Rules Formerly Known As Mongoose Traveller 1e" but I tend to refer to them as the "OGL rules" for the time being.
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby Gypsy Knights Games » Sun Jul 03, 2016 3:14 pm

ShawnDriscoll wrote: Only one career is allowed in the generic 2D6.
I'm sorry but this is just factually incorrect. There is only one career in the SRD but that is used as an example of the format. There is nothing restricting someone from creating other careers in an OGL product.
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby Jeff Hopper » Sun Jul 03, 2016 9:48 pm

Gypsy Knights Games wrote:
ShawnDriscoll wrote: Only one career is allowed in the generic 2D6.
I'm sorry but this is just factually incorrect. There is only one career in the SRD but that is used as an example of the format. There is nothing restricting someone from creating other careers in an OGL product.

Wait, Shawn Driscoll is not just voicing trollspeak but also factually incorrect?!

My faith in the universe is restored.....
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby Prime_Evil » Mon Jul 04, 2016 4:53 am

Also, keep in mind that certain details about the core careers are explicitly declared as Open Game Content in the T20 books. The implementation in Cepheus isn't exactly the same as in MgT, so it's probably on safe legal ground.
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby Spica Publishing » Mon Jul 04, 2016 10:56 am

Gypsy Knights Games wrote:
ShawnDriscoll wrote: Only one career is allowed in the generic 2D6.
I'm sorry but this is just factually incorrect. There is only one career in the SRD but that is used as an example of the format. There is nothing restricting someone from creating other careers in an OGL product.
We concur with GKG. Spica Publishing has Career Books 1, 2 and 3, all of which contain additional careers for 1e MGT. We couldn't have published those career books if the Traveller SRD had only allowed one career.
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby Prime_Evil » Tue Jul 05, 2016 7:32 am

I wonder if this will encourage Universal Machine to produce some additional SRD supplements that build on the Cepheus Engine? ;)
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby simonh » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:56 am

X-posted to COTI.

Open rules sets like this are very valuable when constructing your own setting but where established systems are almost what you need but not quite.

I have an SF campaign called Horizon that I've already run a few times before. When I was selecting a rules system for it there were really two main options I was considering. One was Traveller using an adaptation of the Traveller SRD and the other was GUMSHOE. I wanted a semi-hard SF feel like Traveller, but with a lighter weight more flexible game system (I'm a big GUMSHOE fan), but the existing GUMSHOE SF game is far too much 'More Star Trek than Star Trek' for my tastes. Then the GUMSHOE SRD came out and my decision was made.

It was the existence of the Traveller SRD that made it an option in the first place, and the existence of the GUMSHOE SRD that made it an option. This is a very narrow niche - pared down base rules systems you can use to build your own custom system and setting - but for me it's an important one.

That's why this would be so much more useful and valuable to me in an editable document format. As a PDF it really doesn't offer me much value over the bare SRD. Still, perhaps there's a useful niche for it for other people's uses. At a minimum it ensure that there's a version of MGT 1st ed out there and presumably could be used as a handout rules set for GMs to give to Traveller players without pirating the Mongoose PDFs. For Samardan Press it means they have a rules system available that's 100% compatible with their existing Traveller products. In fact I'm surprised their Flynn's Guide series don't have 'Compatible with the Cepheus Engine' in their DTRPG descriptions.
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Wed Jul 06, 2016 11:55 am

What so great about using 2d6 as your main selling point? Why not do a science fiction game that uses d4s, d6s, d8s, d10s, d12s, and d20s? What is the big deal about using only d6s? Dungeons and Dragons has enough market saturation that just about anybody can get those dice, its not like you have to break open your Yahtzee set to get those d6s to play 2d6 games. I don't think I would want to play a game just so I could roll six-sided dice. Having only six-sided dice is a bit of a handicap one needs to work around. Most people think in the decimal system, so what do you do if you want to assign a probability of 2% and you need to roll only d6s to represent that probability? You got to do some crazy math to convert decimal into a result by rolling 2d6s, 3d6s or 4d6s. With the D&D dice set, you have some more flexibility.
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby simonh » Wed Jul 06, 2016 12:00 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote:What so great about using 2d6 as your main selling point?
They're not using 2D6 as a selling point, they're using it as a coded message that this is a Traveller compatible rules set.

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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Wed Jul 06, 2016 12:12 pm

It seems pretty silly, Traveller is more of a setting than a game system. Many different game systems have been used with the Traveller setting, 2d6 is just one! I personally like d20 better, I have lots of different kinds of dice, and anyway I use my computer to do my dice rolling anyway, I am not limited by physical dice. I like the Traveller setting, they way it represents planets, I like the fact that starships accelerate and don't just fly through space. I am not terribly fond of the Star Wars Role Playing Game, I don't like their strange cryptic dice they have started using. I like dice with numbers on them.
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby Flynn » Wed Jul 06, 2016 1:08 pm

An editable document format will be forthcoming, for those interested in such...

With Regards,
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby simonh » Wed Jul 06, 2016 1:13 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote:I like dice with numbers on them.
My favourite die I own is a black skew D6. I use it when playing Trail of Cthulhu or Night's Black Agents so I can claim I'm doing 'non euclidean damage'.

http://www.mathartfun.com/DiceLabDice.html

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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby simonh » Wed Jul 06, 2016 1:30 pm

Flynn wrote:An editable document format will be forthcoming, for those interested in such...
Sold. Just picked up the PDF. Consider it a down-payment :)

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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby Prime_Evil » Thu Jul 07, 2016 3:46 am

Flynn wrote:An editable document format will be forthcoming, for those interested in such...

With Regards,
Flynn
Very nice!
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby FreeTrav » Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:15 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote:What so great about using 2d6 as your main selling point? Why not do a science fiction game that uses d4s, d6s, d8s, d10s, d12s, and d20s? What is the big deal about using only d6s? Dungeons and Dragons has enough market saturation that just about anybody can get those dice, its not like you have to break open your Yahtzee set to get those d6s to play 2d6 games. I don't think I would want to play a game just so I could roll six-sided dice. Having only six-sided dice is a bit of a handicap one needs to work around. Most people think in the decimal system, so what do you do if you want to assign a probability of 2% and you need to roll only d6s to represent that probability? You got to do some crazy math to convert decimal into a result by rolling 2d6s, 3d6s or 4d6s. With the D&D dice set, you have some more flexibility.
On the other hand, while paying for a set of polydice isn't exactly likely to break anyone's bank, if I'm first getting into PP/TTRPGs at all [and let's not get into the argument over the appropriation of "RPG" by the FPS crowd], it's likely that I can get started sooner with d6-only rules, whether it's 2d6 or some-other-number-of-d6 - because I can download my core rules - whether they're Cepheus Engine, the Traveller 1e SRD, the UGM 2d6 SRD, the PDF of the Traveller 1e or 2e Core Rules, or whatever - and then I can break into my Yahtzee set, or my Monopoly set, or my Shut the Box set, or any number of other board games that I may have around that use the extremely common - perhaps 'ubiquitous' is a good word to use here - d6. And get started in a couple of hours, instead of having to wait until I can get to FLGS and buy polydice - because I'm not going to find polydice at my local Target or B&N, as D&D doesn't seem to come in boxed sets with a set of polydice any more.

Someone else commented on the Cepheus Engine - and other OGL games - as being "soulless". I'm going to disagree. I have early CT, from before the Imperium was A Thing, and even then, there was a definite flavor. It was more or less simulationist, with a heavy admixture of narrativism, before GNS defined simulationism and narrativism; it was noir before Noir was The New Black; it was gritty before androids dreaming of electric sheep became a little more than a cult favorite. And when the rest of the world went Noir and gritty, Traveller - without the Imperium - still left open the opportunity to play the Hope for the Future. From where I sit, calling it "soulless" says more about the poster's imagination than it does about a game whose rules are known to me to support at least six published settings (Including all the various eras of the Third Imperium as a single published setting), and has openly been touted - and not only by me - as being a good fit for at least three more settings from published and popular SF.

I dislike polydice rule systems perhaps as much as Mr Kalbfus appears to dislike d6 systems. But I will not denigrate them. I will try to present reasoned arguments in favor of my preferred ... let's come right out and admit it, Traveller system. But I will acknowledge that there is a certain style of gaming for which polydice rules are perhaps more appropriate - witness Mr Kalbfus's example above, of a stated 2% chance. In my gaming - and I suspect that most Traveller players are with me in this - It's not about fiddly exactitude in percent chance of success. It's more freewheeling and rough around the edges - is the Thing You're Trying To Do going to be "I can do this with my eyes closed", Easy, Average, Hard, "Don't hold your breath"? The book says, more or less, that Average is "Roll 8 or better on 2D6. If it's easier, either offer favorable DMs or lower the target number; if it's harder, offer unfavorable DMs or raise the target number." Do I really need more than that? The simpler the rules, the faster the game moves as a game, and the better it holds the interest of the players - who are largely going to be about the Story, and the Drama, not the percentages and the rolling of dice.

I could easily keep going - and perhaps someday I will, but in Freelance Traveller, not here. For now, I think I've said what's most important about what's on my mind, and hope that it will provoke nontrollic and nonflammable discussion.
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Re: Cepheus Engine

Postby rust2 » Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:21 pm

FreeTrav wrote:.
For now, I think I've said what's most important about what's on my mind ...
I have to admit that I nowadays prefer the higher granularity of percentile dice - but I otherwise agree with all you wrote so well. :)
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