Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Skies of Crimson Brainstorm

With Frozen Skies currently in layout and a (hopeful) release of some point in the next 2-3 months, its time to take a look at a future project. Skies of Crimson is one of those future project and is a supplement for Frozen Skies that focuses mainly on the sky pirates aspect of the setting. This week's post is more of a brainstorm/list of initial ideas of stuff that I'd like to include in the book, course theres no telling what may end up in the final product.

Skies of Crimson


The focus of the book is on the sky piracy that exists in the world of Darmonica, so obviously alot of it is going to be focused on sky pirates. But I do intend for some more general stuff that can be used in almost any type of game for Frozen Skies.

*Airship/Skyship Rules:- Covering blimps, zeppelins and of course Darmonica's Skyships. Uncertain on whether there'll be construction rules or just different examples given and how to handle them in combat.

*More Aircraft:- Yeah, this was probably a given. Probably try to do some non-Commonwealth planes.

*More Gear:- Stuff like aircraft weapons in the form of aerial torpedoes and specialist gear for boarding actions.

*Base Building/Airfield Rules:- Partially inspired by the Lodge rules in Rippers and the campaign rules from the Zeppelins & Bombers supplement for the old Crimson Skies game.

*Broken Spires:- A chapter on Frozen Skies' sky pirate haven wouldn't go amiss.

*NPCs & Beasts:- Sky pirates is an obvious one here, plus notable characters in Broken Spires.

Thats my initial thoughts on possible content, though I'm sure there be some great suggestions offered.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Rogue's Gallery: Petro Broklaw

Alyeska is home to many who are on the run from their past, either seeking to start over or just keep a step ahead of whoever is after them. The Great Darmonican War and its aftermath saw something of a surge in such persons, each one forced into exile for one reason or another. Petro Broklaw is one of many Sodkans who have settled in Alyeska, especially after the rise of the Iron Collective in their old homeland.

Quick PSA: No new blog posts until 16th August since I'm taking bit of a break.

Declassified and Exiled

Source: Crimson Skies (PC, 2000)
Petro Broklaw was born during the early years of the Great Darmonican War, his father was one of the top scientists of the Holy Sodkan Empire. From a young age Petro showed a strong technical aptitude, managing to excel in engineering based subjects at school and completing a course at his local Technical College with honours. He then applied for and was accepted at the Imperial Academy of Engineering where he choose to specialize in aeronautics, quickly acquiring sponsorship from the Imperial Sodkan Air Force.

Initially Petro was involved in improving existing aircraft designs as a junior engineer, his first job was helping to introduce the design improvements onto the production lines. Gradually he took on more of the design and testing work, eventually working on prototypes before the end of the war. He was introduced to the Order of the Great Machine by a colleague and Petro believed the Order was going to help bring about technological enlightenment, prompting him to become an early supporter of the Order. It was thanks to the Order that Petro started delving into the principles of Weird Science, some of which he incorporated into his aircraft designs.

When the Order seized power it didn't bring about the technological enlightenment that Petro was expecting and he became increasingly critical of the new government. He started to refuse to work on military related projects, opting instead to develop more utility based designs. Naturally this didn't go down too well with his superiors, it wasn't long before Petro was declared Declassified (effectively an enemy of the state). Having received some forewarning, Petro had already made arrangements in the form of chartering a small transport plane under the cover of visiting various factories. By the time the authorities had realized what had happened Petro had already fled the country, bound for Alyeska where he figured he'd be beyond the Iron Collective's reach.

Once in Alyeska he set himself up as an aircraft mechanic, managing to live comfortably until he was approached by a sky pirate outfit known as the Tundra Wolves. The Wolves mainly went after high value cargo such as gold bullion or rare artefacts, preferring to avoid needless killing where possible. They approached Petro because their last mechanic had died (a combination of alcohol and ice) and they needed an edge against other, more ruthless outfit. Petro agreed to work for the Wolves and started out fixing their planes before gradually modifying them and then building brand new designs. The Wolves for their part paid well and some time later Petro went independent and setup his own workshop in Broken Spires, but he remains as a retainer for the Wolves who are his top customers and enjoy a special discount.

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d10, Spirit d6, Strength d4, Vigor d6
Skills: Knowledge (Science) d18, Knowledge (Aeronautics) d8, Notice d8, Piloting d4, Repair d8, Shooting d6, Weird Science d10
Charisma: -; Pace: 6; Parry: 2; Toughness: 5
Hindrances: Cautious, Pacifist (Minor), Wanted (Major)
Edges: Arcane Background (Weird Science), Gadgeteer, Mr Fix It, New Powers, Rapid Recharge, Scholar
Gear: Machine Pistol (12/24/48, 2d6-1, RoF: 3, AP1 Auto)
Powers: Darksight (goggles), deflection (belt), farsight (goggles) obscure (harness), teleport (harness)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Cold War Skirmishes: The EM-2 Rifle

Short post this week given I'm a bit pressed for time.

We take a look at the British EM-2 Rifle, an experimental assault rifle designed in the late 1940s to replace the Lee-Enfield. It proved to be short lived due to the politics of the time and the SA80 is considered its spiritual successor due to their similar appearances.

The Cold War Rifle That Never Was


The EM-2 was born out of a desire by Britain, like many other countries, to develop their own assault rifles in the aftermath of WW2. The British Army had actually wanted to replace the .303 round before the First World War, but were forced to keep it for another 30 years due to time and financial constraints. With these constraints finally removed they were free to develop the .280 round and a rifle to use it, in addition to a new machine gun (the Taden gun).

Belgium company Fabrique Nationale expressed considerable interest in the round, and started development of their own rifles based upon it. The Canadian Army also expressed interest in the new round, both to maintain commonality with the British and to modernize their forces. Two similar rifles, the EM-1 and EM-2, were developed. Both were bullpup-style weapons with the magazine and chamber placed behind the pistol grip and trigger. The two rifles did differ internally and only shared the same sight, but ultimately the EM-2 was selected as the better of the two and adopted by the British Army in 1951 as the Rifle, Automatic, Calibre .280, Number 9.

Though the EM-2's service would be short lived as NATO was seeking to standardize on weapons and ammunitions, so weapon designs had to be met with the approval of at least two governments in order to have any hope of adoption by the organisation as a whole. The US put forth several of their own designs that used the 7.62×51mm NATO round, particularly in the prototype T25 and T44 rifles. A shoot-off in 1951 (which saw a Belgium .280 FN FAL being tested) saw the US claiming the British round was underpowered, and the British claiming the US round was too powerful to be used in a rifle in full-automatic mode. Canada make things awkward by declaring that it would only adopt the British .280 round if the US did, though the US had settled on the 7.62x51mm round and selected the T44 to go into service as the M14.

British designers tried adapting the EM-2 to the larger US round but it quickly became clear that it wasn't going to work, plus Winston Churchill had recently returned as Prime Minister and opted for NATO standardisation and had the British Forces adopt the 7.62x51mm round. However, the FN FAL proved to be easily adaptive to the bigger round and the British adopted that rifle as the L1A1 SLR. Though the British would be vindicated when the 7.62x51mm round proved to be powerful to be controllable in automatic mode, resulting in NATO later adopting the 5.56x45mm round after the US adopted the M16 in the mid-1960s.

More info on the EM-2 can be found here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EM-2_rifle

EM-2 (30/60/120, 2d8+1, RoF 3, 20 shots, Min Str d6, Notes: AP2, Auto)

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Arctic Airmen

To many the image of a dashing fighter pilot is what they conjure up when they hear the words; 'military airman'. Less glamorous as the bomber and transport pilots who are just as important but receive less coverage in the press. Almost completely overlooked is those who fly the long range patrol aircraft, often for hours on end in some of the remote places of the world. In Alyeska this is the men of No.210 Squadron who are tasked with wide ranging patrols off Alyeska's coastline.

Arctic Airmen


No.210 Squadron flies the Vigilant, a variant of the Valiant bomber that had its bomb-bay modified to carry an airborne lifeboat and extra fuel tanks installed. The Vigilant is a long-range maritime patrol aircraft normally used to patrol vast stretches of ocean and help provide an air-sea rescue capability. There are nine such aircraft on the squadron's book, which are also the only aircraft of this type stationed in Alyeska.

The squadron's job is to fly out over the ocean and patrol tens of miles off the Alyeskan coastline, mainly to keep an eye out for anything that could be considered a threat or come to the aid of ships in distress. Thanks to a powerful radio set on each aircraft, the squadron can also have a scramble order sent through to nearby fighter squadrons in case of a sky pirate attack. Though given that the squadron has a great many hundreds of miles to cover it is split into three 'flights' of three aircraft each, each flight is based at certain points along the Alyeskan coastline to maximise the coverage of their patrols.

Probably the most obvious way that the characters can expect to encounter No.210 Squadron is in the form of one of the squadron's Vigilant patrol aircraft, either one on patrol or coming to the characters' rescue if they have been forced to ditch into the ocean. If the characters are part of a sky pirate outfit then they probably will encounter a Vigilant directing fighters to their location if the characters take on maritime shipping.

If part of a military campaign, or the characters just want their own one, the Vigilant is pretty much the same as the Valiant but without a bomb load (the lifeboat takes its place) and a second pair of Extra Fuel Tanks.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

July 2016 Update

We're over halfway through the year now and pretty much on the verge of finally getting Frozen Skies released. So really this week its a case of a quick round up of how things currently stand. Also a quick PSA; There will be no posts on the 2nd and 9th of August since I'll be taking a much needed break.

Frozen Skies

All thats really left is the last bit of editing and some weapons/gear artwork.

The map is done and things are looking good for a mid-August release, just before GenCon. There will be an announcement of its via the Savage Worlds Licencee seminar, but actually going to GenCon is currently prohibitively expensive for me (maybe next year if I get a windfall).

The map artist has already showcased the map, but I'm including it here for completeness.


Frozen Skies will be initially released as PDF, hopefully quickly followed by Print-On-Demand, through RPGNow and DriveThruRPG. I'll also be looking at distribution to get it into game stores, but we'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Armed Rovers Redux

A couple of years back I posted a little about the Alyeskan Outriders, though I didn't post much in the way of details back then. Recent work on a remotely related project and related research means that I am able to present the Outriders in a more organised format. Consider this an update of the original post on the Outriders.

Structure of the Alyeskan Outriders


Commanding Officer: Lt.Colonel Patrick Wade
Strength: Total: 309 (18 officers, 291 other ranks)

HQ Squadron - Calharrow
-Field Workshop
-Heavy Section (supply)
-Medical Section
-Survey Section
-Signals Section

A Squadron
-No.1 Patrol
-No.2 Patrol
-No.3 Patrol

B Squadron
-No.4 Patrol
-No.5 Patrol
-No.6 Patrol

C Squadron
-No.7 Patrol
-No.8 Patrol
-No.9 Patrol 


Patrol Makeup

Strength; 1 officer, 14 enlisted men
Vehicles; 5x Trucks

Truck No.1 - C/O

Truck No.2 - Signals & navigation

Truck No.3 - Patrol Sergeant

Truck No.4 - Medical Orderly

Truck No.5 -Mechanic

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Cold War Skirmishes: The Gurkhas

The British Army has contained many famous units throughout its long history, ranging from the 95th Rifles of the Napoleonic era through to the SAS. Counted amongst them is the Gurkhas, Nepalese soldiers who have fought alongside the British forces since the first Gurkha unit was raised in 1815 following the Anglo-Nepalese War. This week we'll be covering the British Army's Gurkha units during the Cold War period, featuring an brief overview of their history, training and some role play material.






Pre-Cold War

Prior to the Cold War the Gurkhas had been loyally serving in the British Indian Army for over a hundred years, primarily in the Far East and on the North West Frontier of British India. They also served in both World Wars, but this required a special dispensation known as Pani Patiya. It is believed that crossing the sea means that Gurkhas forfeit their privileges of caste and rights, failing to obtain the dispensation results in heavy punishment. Others who may have unwittingly taken food and water with the transgressor are also placed under the same ban.

The First World War saw some 200,000 Gurkahs fight on the Western Front and throughout the Middle East from the Suez Canal to Syria. The Gurkhas won 26 Victoria Crosses during the conflict but lost twenty thousand men, this includes a battalion of the 8th Gurkhas that fought to the last man during the Battle of Loos by hurling themselves time after time against the weight of the German defences. After the war the Gurkhas went back to being peace-time soldiers on the frontiers of India, though they still took part in many conflicts such as the Third Afghan War and the Waziristan Campaign.

Went the Second World War broke out the Gurkhas once again sailed across the sea to fight for Britain. They fought from Syria through the Western Desert through to Italy and Greece. In the Far East they fought in Malaya, Singapore, the retreat from Siam and throughout the Burma campaign. At war's end they were involved in various peace-keeping missions including Vietnam after the Japanese surrender until the French returned. They had been in the thick of the fighting against the Japanese in Burma, yet when they arrived in Vietnam they found that the Japanese had been allowed to keep their weapons and eventually the two former enemies fought alongside one another against the Vietnamese nationalists.

Partition

By 1947 there were ten Gurkha regiments (some twenty battalions) in the 'old' Indian Army, with the Partition of India these were divided between the 'new' Indian Army and the British Army. Six regiments (twelve battalions) were transferred to the 'new' Indian Army whilst the remaining four regiments (eight battalions) were integrated into the British Army as the Brigade of Gurkhas. The Brigade also consists of The King's/Queen's Gurkha Engineers, The King's/Queen's Gurkha Signals and the Gurkha Transport Regiment.

The Brigade of Gurkhas would see service throughout the twelve years of the Malayan Emergency and later in Brunei and Borneo during the Indonesian Confrontation. Their HQ and main training base was later established in Hong Kong where the Gurkhas were deployed on security duties that included patrolling the border checking for illegal immigrants entering the territory. They were never allowed to be deployed to Northern Ireland nor they were ever assigned to the British Forces in Germany, but they did take part in the Falklands War. The Gurkhas' reputation preceded them in this conflict in 1982 as the Argentines surrendered rather than fight when confronted by the Gurkhas, even if the Argentines were entrenched in strong positions!

Selection and Training

During the Cold War period the British Army needed 400 recruits a year for the Gurkhas, every year there were 8,000 young men eager to join. Old soldiers were sent into the hills to do the preliminary selection and whittled it down to 800 potential recruits who were sent to the depots at Dharan and Pokhra for medical and selection. Most of the Gurkha recruits were subsistence farmers scratching out a living at around 7,000 feet, often travelling barefoot for many miles up and down mountains whilst carrying heavy loads. As a result the Gurkhas all have immensely powerful legs, but they are prone to tuberculosis and one of the first tests they have to pass is a chest X-ray. Living in the mountains, thus away from the population and noise of cities, also means that they have excellent eyesight and hearing.

Though whilst to Western eyes the Gurkhas may all look alike, the Gurkhas belong to a tribal or clan system which has different dialects and differing physical traits. This often meant that the individual Gurkha regiments recruited from specific areas of Nepal. The small, quick-witted Rais and the taller, slower-speaking Limbus from Central East Nepal formed the recruitment pool of the 7th and 10th Gurkha Rifles; on the other hand the 2nd and 6th took Gurungs and Magars from Central West. Though the stated difference between the two was that the Gurungs had finer features.

Those who were accepted were sent via aircraft for ten months training at the Brigade's main base in Hong Kong, something that was often a culture shock for the young Nepalese men. They had to be taught how to live in the modern world and learn English in addition to basic soldiering. The training was tough and maintained a discipline long out of fashion with British regiments. Their accommodation consisted of large wooden huts that were so out of date that for a time the Royal Marines kept one at the Commando Training Centre just to show recruits how rough life was in the old army. Yet the Gurkhas lapped it up and considered it an insult if their training was softened for any reason.

Officers

Historically there were two types of officers in the Gurkhas; regular British officers and the King's/Queen's Gurkha Officers (K/QGOs).

The British officers (of which there were only 17 to a Gurkha battalion) had to attend the two-month Nepalese Language Qualification Course at the Hong Kong training depot and was expected to immerse himself in Gurkha culture and tradition. He was told to never shout at a Gurkha as that would only lower his prestige in the eyes of the Gurkha and he had the responsibility to maintain his own standards, thus develop a mutual relationship of trust with his men. If a Gurkha lost faith in his officer that officer was finished, but once trust is established the Gurkha would follow him to hell and back. The British officers also looked after their men, even going as far as keeping an eye on the men's gambling (which was only allowed during the religious festive of Diwali).

Queen's Gurkha Officer sat somewhere between warrant officers and full commissions, meaning they had no authority over British troops and were technically subordinate to any British officer regardless of rank. Most QGOs were typically old hands who had come up through the ranks and served as either platoon commanders or as deputy commanders of companies. A scheme started in the 1950s introduced Gurkha officers commissioned from the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy who were on par with British officers and had greater promotion prospects (one Gurkha became a Lieutenant-Colonel).

Service and Duty

The main base for the Gurkhas was at Hong Kong, where they were primarily employed on internal security duty (typically picking up fugitives from Communist China), there were other postings and the battalions had a rotation system for these postings. Each battalion spent two years in the UK followed by four years in Hong Kong, two in Brunei and then back in Hong Kong for a further two years before they started the sequence all over again.

There were other postings: to the Jungle School in Brunei, to the Demonstration Company at Sandhurst or the Demonstration Company at the NCO Training Wing at Brecon and four-month long postings to Korea where a large platoon of Gurkhas formed the United Nations Honour Guard. Additionally there was something like a thousand Gurkha soldiers in Nepal at any one time, either working at the Dharan base or travelling to and from their homes on leave.

More details can be found here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigade_of_Gurkhas

Gaming the Gurkhas

Probably the easiest way to use the Gurkhas in Savage Worlds is a bridge campaign between Weird War 2 and Tour of Darkness, covering the post-WW2 period in Vietnam before the French re-occupation and First Indochina War. This would only cover the 1945-46 period but would feature a number of clashes with the Viet Minh, but plenty of Weird Wars elements be can thrown in. For example this would involve trying to beat the Viet Minh to a secret Japanese (or Vichy French) research base located deep in the jungle.

A mash-up of Weird War 2 and Tour of Darkness can, to a degree, also be used to cover the Mayalan Emergency and Indonesian Confrontation. The former saw the use of alot of old WW2 era equipment, though the latter would require some conversions from Tour of Darkness. A Falklands War based game would be a little trickier since the Gurkhas never got to see much action (for reasons listed earlier), but the conflict took place over a large part of the South Atlantic and a forgotten Nazi base in the far south could come into play.

Equipment wise the Gurkha used standard issue British weapons such as the L1A1 SLR and General Purpose Machine Gun (use M60 stats), though they were also issued with the American M16 depending on the mission requirements. Every Gurkha also carried a kukri, a knife that is similar to a machete and is used as both a tool and weapon in Nepal.

Suggest using the following stats for the kukri: Str+d6

Particularly in the Far East the Gurkhas wore Tropical DPM fatigues, this gives them a +1 bonus to their Stealth rolls whilst in a jungle environment.

Below is the suggested stats for a Gurkha soldier;

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d8, Intimidation d8, Notice d6+2, Stealth d6, Shooting d6, Survival d8, Tracking d8
Charisma: -2; Pace: 5; Parry: 6; Toughness: 4
Hindrances: Bloodthirsty, Loyal, Small
Edges: Alertness, Marksman, Woodsman

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

June 2017 Update

Right, time for the monthly update.

With UK Games Expo done and dusted for another year the focus can now be directed once more at Frozen Skies and the other projects that are in the works. So this week entails progress report on the status of Frozen Skies and some ideas for related projects.

Short Mayo Composite
Frozen Skies

The writing for Frozen Skies is now pretty much done, just waiting on a couple of pieces to be proofread and edited before everything is handed over to the layout guy for him to work his magic. There may be one or two extra bits of artwork required, though we'll see since I'm going with artwork for the start of each chapter and portraits of certain NPCs. Depending on how well Frozen Skies does I may look at doing an updated version with extra artwork, but that is largely depends on money flow (which is effecting how much artwork I can currently have).

Looking at Frozen Skies being about 130 pages, but it'll certainly be a 7" by 10" softback in addition to a PDF. Release is looking likely to be August time, initially through DriveThruRPG/RPGNow with a view of eventually getting Frozen Skies into game stores. May do a hardback version, but that depends on demand. Likewise looking at doing Frozen Skies for different systems, FATE is one people have been asking for.

My last update post I mentioned about other ideas such as producing cards with aircraft on them, thinking of it being a top-down view of the aircraft (like the picture below). This is something that I'll need to look into, though probably would be a cheaper alternative to miniatures as I can have a few generic planes which can have any stats used with them as well as already 'named' aircraft. Another idea I'm toying with is another adventure for Frozen Skies, it can basically be summed up as Murder on the Orient Express on a flying boat.



Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Post UKGE Report 2017

Its been a couple of days since we got back from this year's UK Games Expo.

It was good to be back after having to skip it last year and meeting people again, certainly to make sure Utherwald is there again next year. Already plans for next year are being made.



This year it was probably the best convention I've had, least with regards to selling stuff. No where near breaking even but a good way towards that goal. In addition I have a few avenues to explore when Frozen Skies is release, mainly to help promote it and get distribution to game stores sorted. Certainly feels like I've raised greater awareness of Frozen Skies and seemingly some follow through sales.

But I could've possibly done better.

I was sharing with a couple of groups (Exilian and Birmingham Game Designers) and as a result the stand appeared a little cluttered, which may had made it difficult for people to tell what the stand was about and possibly put people off. If I'm sharing with anyone next year I need to make sure Utherwald Press is its own distinct thing and easily identifiable. May go with the same size pitch I had with two tables, though the tables at either end of the pitch to effectively create the impression of it being two separate stands (if that makes sense). Likewise I need to invest in a banner of some description.

Frozen Skies should hopefully be released at the beginning of August, just in time for it to be announced at Gen Con. After that it'll be a case of getting it into game stores before starting on the next project, though does hopefully mean I can submit it for next year's UKGE Awards.

Monday, 5 June 2017

We're Back From UKGE!

Back from UK Games Expo, will do a blog post later in the week detailing experiences..

Big hello to all the people who've had a look at the blog following Expo.

Also, print version of the Frozen Skies Setting Primer is now live!

 http://www.rpgnow.com/product/152526/Frozen-Skies-Setting-Primer