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;

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.