Thursday, December 19, 2019

A Short Musical Interlude

I released my seventh album today. It's called Burning Chariot, and is songs written and recorded between November 8 and December 19, 2019. Each album has, I think, been better than the last. Certainly the difference between this one and my first album is gigantic. I continue to evolve and learn.

Burning Chariot

My previous album, Sextillius, is now available for free streaming on youtube:


And my fourth and fifth albums, Plush Universe and Strange Attractor, were reviewed on Divide and conquer:

Reviews of Plush Universe and Strange Attractor

So we live in interesting times!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Mandelorian Armor

I created six suits of Mandelorian armor using the In Harm's Way: StarCluster 4 armor sheet. Each one is built form the same stock Mandelorian armor, but each is modified differently - one is geared for enhanced sensory input, one enhances physical attributes, one is heavy armor geared for absorbing damage, one is command armor with enhanced comm, one is designed for enhanced mobility with jet engines, and one is light maneuverable scout armor with camoflage capabilities. These are for the mercenary group who are trying to pass themsleves off as Mandelorians. I hope this is an interesting idea for the players. They may have to draw lots to get their choice!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Post Mandelorian

I really, really am jonesing to do a Star Wars-ish game based in the setting of the Mandelorian. I am developing the idea, and will probably move to that when we are done with Weirder Stuff. I am setting up 3 different concepts. The players will choose which they would prefer to play.

In one, the PCs play effectuators of a local rebellion leader - not, or at least not yet, a part of the ineffectual New Republic - who is trying to stabilize the local area of space. In the second, the PCs play former effectuators of a local ex-Moff, who is attempting to stabilize and take over the local space area, who have turned against their former master, and are doing what good they can where they can. In the third, the PCs will play ex-Imperial prisoners who have found Mandelorian armor and are attempting to pass themselves off as a Mandelorian mercenary clan.

In all cases, the PCs are Force sensitives who were rounded up by the Empire and used as test subjects, and the local area will be the same. They will have an ancient ship, modified - or perhaps worn down would be more accurate - from stock to fit the needs of the Association, and constituting the bulk of their assets.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Elder Sibs, Continued

The breaking of the glass woke the security guard, who immediately started with his flashlight. One of the kids, forgetting that THEY were the ones breaking and entering, shouted "Hey! What're you doing!", which drew the attention of his flashlight. One of the other kids used a LUCK, and his light went out. As he was fumbling more batteries in, the boy who studied karate struck him. It was just a momentary stun, but enough for them to bind and gag him. They unloaded his shotgun and explored the lower level more, finding a giant laser with immense power cables, which was focused at a giant crystal protruding from the rock wall. There were two cameras mounted to record what happened, so they decided to look for videos.

They went upstairs, where there was another guard walking the beat in the dark. They rushed him and bound and gagged him as well. With the keys they had taken from the two watchmen, they were able to open the Director's office door, where they found a VCR player and monitor set up, but no tapes. They figured they were in the padlocked 4 drawer file cabinet, so one of the kids broke the glass and grabbed the fire axe, which set off the fire alarm. They were just off Uranium Road, a thoroughfare, and close to the new fire station, so they knew they had only minutes! The broke the padlock with the axes and ran off with the four drawers, escaping over the wall just as the fire trucks rolled up.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Elder Sibs Redux

The elder siblings decided that something was wrong, and that this whole thing needed looking into. They are high school kids, so they are almost adult. They slipped into the High Energy Physics research building through the hole in the wall, and by a guard, and found people in locked cells. The got the attention of one of them, and he broke the safety glass window on his door with a gesture.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Elder Siblings

It's been almost two months since my last post. I am continuing running a Weirder Stuff game. We have branched out with teenage characters as well as the original preteens, most being older sibs of the originals. Turns out, the night before the Psigirl showed up in Max's tree-house, his sister and her teen friends had an encounter of their own, with a pickup truck ending up in a tree. The next day they got it down, and found a pillowcase with awful cafeteria food in it near their encounter. On the pillowcase was stenciled the name of a local physics lab. They drove by the lab and saw police tape and a hole blasted in the side of the lab. Lighting was the explanation. They let slip they had seen something strange, and where, to a security guard, thus guaranteeing unwanted attention for their poor unwitting younger sibs!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Weirder Stuff

Weirder Stuff, Klax and my hack of StarCluster 4 for Stranger Thingsish play, has been great fun! Kids between fifth and sixth gradee -summer vacation - find a girl their age sporting a shaved head and a smock, and a one-eyed teddy bear, in their tree house. many-jawed carnivores and a crew from some government funded research company are looking for her. The players so far have loved getting into the kid mindset and have been doing remarkably. Tonight they took down two armed security men from the research company looking for "the Director's ward" with sling shots and their own drug syringes. They dragged them on sleds into an old cowboy-days mine and interrogated them, using a Darth Vader voice modulator - neither guy had seen Star Wars and were spooked! It was great fun!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Elizabethan Supers

Prepping to run the first game of an Elizabethan Supers game this Sunday! Our Roos and Ruins (StarCluster 4 - Out of the Ruins) game that just ended was consistently fun, absorbing, exciting, though provoking, and all around amazing from start to finish! Perhaps the finest roleplaying campaign I have ever run, and I can only hope this one is half as good!

The setting for this game is England in 1560, 2 years after the accession of Elizabeth I to the throne. We have established some changes in history, though! An alien ship crashed on earth in 1000 AD, with the survivors making their way to earth in escape pods. The plagues were alien diseases that humans had no resistance to. Supers began popping up after that. Was it alien DNA? Reactions to the plagues? Radiation from the crashed ship causing mutations? All of the above? We are mapping that out now!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Central access to my Music on Youtube

All five of my albums are now available on Youtube. link: Clash Bowley - Topic

or search for '"clash bowley" topic'

My first album was Greatest Hits 2018-2018 and it's a bit of a mess, but I chalk it up to a learning experience!
Then came Rockets and Dreams, where I started to apply what I had learned and began developing a musical style
Kaiju Love which came after that was, I think, my first good album, and the first totally in my new style
Then came the two latest albums, released the same day:
Plush Universe is more traditional, more rock, somewhere between Strange Attractor and Kaiju Love
In Strange Attractor I am more modern in approach, and more stripped down


Saturday, August 10, 2019

Weirder Stuff II

Ran my first session of Weirder Stuff (The totally not Stranger Things game) tonight with my face to face gang, and it went REALLY well! Chargen was a snap, and we were right into the game! Weird-ass shaved head kid shows up in the tree fort of some kids in a town in Colorado at the start of the summer vacation. They are all 11-12 year old boys, and she is a spooky bald girl with a number tattooed on her arm. Weird shit happens, and they decide she can live in their tree fort for now. They enlist one of the boy's twin sister, who lends her some clothes. Just some great roleplaying! And my beautiful 18 year old kitty Athena died just before play. She has been going, slipping for a year or so no, and this last four days we knew she was going. No pain, just not eating and barely drinking, getting weaker and sleepier. The last of the players arrived in time to sit with her and pet her before she went. She has been showered with love the last few days, more even than normal! I miss her terribly!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Designing for Maintenance

Colonization of space will have one side effect I don't see talked about much. There will be a paradigm shift away from disposable technology and towards more flexible, repairable, repurposable technology. If your microwave oven dies now, or your inkjet printer, or your smoothie blender, getting it repaired would be inconcievable. These devices are too cheap to repair, and are designed to be thrown away. The labor costs of repair would be a significant fraction of their cost new, and it isn't worth the bother. They aren't designed to be repaired. Components are integrated, the innards are inaccessible, and the places they are made are not the places they are sold.

This is a recipe for disaster in space! Technology will have to be designed to be easily accessible by techs, rather than designed for efficiency of manufacture. Components will need to be genericized, not only so that fewer spares need to be carried, but so that less essential devices can be cannibalized in favor of repairing essential devices, if necessary. Upgrades should be on the component level rather than the unit level. Then the old component can be kept as a spare. Devices would need to be larger, though not necessarily much more massive. Most of the size difference will be in access space or accessible mounting.

Displays and input should be transparently shared and redirectable. Data needs easy rerouting, so that one computing device can double as another in a pinch. Damage control and repair need to be top priorities when a ship is millions of kilometers from the nearest source of parts!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Weirder Stuff

Klax and I hammered out a Stranger Things game Tuesday night. You can be a Kid, Teen, or Adult. Chargen is a snap. Light game, but looks deep enough to support long-ish campaign arcs. Not sure if I want to put this out for sale, but it certainly will do for me to run some stuff! Of course we were working with a system, but still, two hours of work just nailed it.

Kids get the Kid package which gives them their base attributes; then pick one background, which gives them two positive Edges and one negative; then pick one interest which gives them three skills, one at rank +3, one at rank +2, and one at rank +1; then pick one hobby which gives them another positive Edge. Roll a d10 for each attribute to see how it varies from the norm, and they are done

Teens have their own attribute package, and get an extra hobby. Adults have their own attribute package, and get an extra hobby and an extra interest

There is a special Background (Confined) and Interest (Test Subject) for psions. They get three negative Edges and no positive from their background, no hobby, and get three psionic skills, one at rank +3, one at rank +2, and one at rank+1. This is to reflect their utter lack of normal upbringing.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

StarCluster 4 - In The Beginning and The Great Game

Working on implementing the changes suggested by the Beta testers for StarCluster 4 - In The Beginning and The Great Game! So far the great majority of suggestions have to do with changes to components and/or procedures. For example, the game board in The Great Game is gone, replaced by separate tiles, connected in when the proper time comes. The Colony Status Markers and Power Status Markers are also very different from before, so that they are visually distinctive even while printing in gray scale as well as being simpler to read. A big thank you goes to our playtesters! We are awaiting final word from our last playtester, who was a bit delayed, and once we have implemented the changes recommended, we will be releasing both games! They will be available both separately and together.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Military Armor and Absorbing Damage

I am going to use the simple damage mechanic I used in StarCluster 4 - Sabre & World, a Sword & Planet/Planetary Romance game I released a couple years ago. Unlike standard StarCluster 4 damage, you don't add a damage modifier which varies by weapon to the successes you roll. Also in standard SC 4 there are a varying number of from 1 to 8 damage boxes on each Attribute - the higher the attribute, the more boxes are open - with a final Condition box which affects that Attribute when all boxes are full, and which will not heal normally over time, but needs medical treatment. Here is a SC4 standard character sheet:

The In Harm's Way - StarCluster 4 character sheet will have only the condition box after each Attribute, meaning characters cannot soak the damage they receive in combat under their Attributes. Here is a In Harm's Way - StarCluster 4 character sheet for reference:

Why did I do this this way? Because military weapons are MORE damaging! A hit from a Ma Deuce will sever - or rather explode - a limb, a head, or blow your viscera out, and the Ma Deuce is 100 years old. And I doubled down for realism. Heavy Weapons like the Ma Deuce inflict TWO boxes of damage per success, which means four successes on a single round form a M2 will inflict 8 boxes of damage on an unprotected body, filling every damage box in one hit. The future military we are addressing will have to absorb - soak - that damage elsewhere. The body can't take it. The result is the vastly upgraded military armor system. Here is a sample Military Armor from IHW - SC4:

Note that this is fairly light armor for a scout, geared especially for sensory input and communication. Firstly, any weapon has to penetrate the armor in order to do any damage. It then has five boxes available that can be absorbed without compromising the armor in any way. Note there are a maximum of 16 of these hit soaks for any armor. After those five boxes, the character can assign damage to internal systems as they choose, as well as their own body boxes. There are 9 boxes available after the first five on this armor, one to a system. Programs, Sensors, Comms, Power, Power Assisted Endurance, Power Assisted Agility, Seals, Mobility Extras, and the Autodoc. Each hit on these nine boxes degrades the suit, destroying one feature with each hit. The suits auto doc has automatic tourniquets on limbs, automatic drug injections, and other abilities to increase survivability. If the suit has an AI, it could decide to knock out the character and bring the character back alive to increase survival rates. At any rate the autodoc monitors the character's vitals and deploys automatically if needed! Here is a heavy armor for shock troops:

Note the very different emphasis. Each armor suit is designed to a particular set of needs to the limit of available technology. Also armor can link to various robots to multiply firepower or mobility or carrying capacity as needed.

Military armor is keyed to an individual, and can only work for that individual unless reset. Communication is of course heavily coded! Note power taps for energy based weapons so you need not carry power sources other than the suit's power pak.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Example Militaries

Here are a couple example militaries from the various StarCluster Settings. First The SaVaHuTa Navy from the Classic Setting - SaVaHuTa is a huge military-Economic alliance with many worlds in many star systems

Second, the Rasi SWAT Police from The Necklace Setting - The Necklace is a gigantic breathable gas torus in space around a neutron star with a billion mile long gravitic ring-river looping through its immense volume. I have a bunch more here.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Military Dicta

Working on Military Dicta for In Harm's Way: StarCluster 4 today! A Dictum is a saying which encapsulates an important principle. For designing a military in IHW:SC4 you would choose which Template Trees work in your setting, then choose a number of Dicta to define the reasons a military does what it does. Some example Dicta:

Sapient Slavery

Sapient Slavery is forbidden within the state. Any attempt to subvert this concept by importation of slaves or institution of slavery in any way must be prevented and punished by the military.

Unlicensed Environmental Manipulation

Terraforming must be licensed and controlled, with proper safeguards applied.

One State, One People

There is only one state. The existence of any polity considering itself outside the state is strictly forbidden, and any attempt to establish such will be rigorously opposed.

Primitive Worlds Must Be Allowed To Develop

Technologically retarded worlds must not be interfered with if they are to develop properly.

Each Dictum you select defines not only your military, but your society, so you can choose Dicta for your military which reflect your military's culture, or define your culture as you define your military.

Friday, June 7, 2019

The New Military

For In Harm's Way - StarCluster 4, we have re-imagined the military from the ground up. AS Klaxon said, "with space travel, the Space Navy will eventually encompass everything else. The Navy == the military." So we divided that giganto-navy up by function into six internal services:

Deep Space Service - (Offense) These are the people and ships that go to other stars to project force as required

There are 5 branches of DSS: Fighters,Cruisers, Fleet, Scout, and Specwar
Fighters are the small, highly armed but replaceable ships dispatched in swarms to destroy opposition

Cruisers are those ships typically dispatched in small squadrons

Fleet are the big ships, held for a smashing blow

Scouts are small ships sent out to explore and reconnoiter

Specwar are the Special Warfare ships, sent out to do irregular missions

Expeditionary Force - (Offense) These are the people and craft used to take and hold the world surface in other systems

There are five branches of EF: Drop Troop, Vehicles, Infantry, Recon, and Intruder
Drop Troops are the highly armored shock troops dropped from orbit

Vehicles are grav vehicles of various sorts, including drones, suitable for any environment

Infantry are those who take and hold ground

Recon are the ones how find out what is where

Intruders are those who go beyond enemy lines and disrupt, destroy, and blow shit up

System Defense Service - (Defense) These are the people and ships that protect the home systems

There are five branches of SDS: Defense Pilot, Line, Stationer, Military Police, and Sapper
Defense Pilots are the small, highly armed but replaceable ships dispatched in swarms to destroy fighters

Line are the big defensive ships built to protect against system invasion and intrusion

Stationers are the stationary defenses built to protect resources and worlds

Military Police keep everyone in line

Sappers lay out minefields and other passive defenses

Ground Defense Service - Defense) These are the people who protect each world in the home systems

There are five branches of GDS: Aerospace, Surface Craft, Militia, Artillery, and Enviro Troops
Aerospace are the swift and agile aircraft that protect the skies

Surface Craft are the ground and/or water based craft that fight invaders and intruders

Militia are defensive troops for holding ground

Artillery are large rail guns and missiles used in point defense

Enviro Troops are those trained to work under the specific environmental conditions of the world

Logistics & Repair - These are the people and ships who support all the others with supplies and fixing things

There are five branches of L&R: Engineering, Repair, Allocation, Transport, and Medical
Engineering builds facilities and counter environmental problems

Repair fixes broken things

Allocation distributes items and vehicles where needed

Transport brings things and people from one place to another

Medical fixes broken people

Intelligence Service - These are the people who figure out what is going on in other places and disseminate propaganda

There are five branches of IS: Humint, Sigint, Analysis, Osint, and R&D
Humint are the field agents, working under cover

Sigint are those who intercept communications and encrypt and decrypt as needed

Analysis are those who collect, collate, and route information where needed

Osint are those who use available public resources to inform on culture and disseminate propaganda

R&D researches and develops weapons, vehicles, armor, ships, and anything used by the other services

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

It's Decided!

It's decided. I am doing In Harm's Way: StarCluster 4.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Music and Roleplaying Blend

Weirdest thing yet. I ended up writing a song in character about another character, both NPCs. It's like my two worlds have overlapped! :D Song

Saturday, May 25, 2019

General News

I released my third album, Kaiju Love, this month. Here's a link to the youtube playlist if you are at all interested. I assume not! :D

I have 10 songs recorded intended for a fourth album, Plush Universe, but two of them are cover songs, and that's a hassle to get rights, so figure 8 songs finished out of about 12.

StarCluster 4 - In The Beginning is in beta, waiting for feedback from the beta testers. I examining my options for what I do next gaming wise. There is nothing burning a hole through my skull trying to get out, so I have several major possibilities:

1: I could do a new version of In Harm's Way: StarCluster using the StarCluster 4 mechanic.

2: I could work on converting the Blood Games trio of games (Blood Games II, OHMAS, and Outremer) using the new Psionics toolkit to create a magic system.

I have been running on Discord a mash-up of Volant and Sabre & World which has been going great. I may make that a published thing!

I also need to begin changing all my In Harm's Way games over to StarCluster 4. Most of them are SC 2E, with a couple being SC 1E! Yikes! That will be a huge task!

Anyways, for anyone still listening after my forgetting about this blog once again, thank you! You rock! :D

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Beta Testers Needed!

I'm looking for Beta playtesters for the RPG StarCluster 4 - In The Beginning and the board game The Great Game. Beta playtesters run the games themselves, not playing with the designer, as in Alpha testing. The Great Game starts in 2020 and ends in 2120, playing through decade by decade as space is colonized. Players use a deck of normal playing cards for play. In The Beginning starts in 2120, using the end condition of The Great Game as its start condition, though there is also a random generator that can be used instead. The GM/playing group is intended to expand the end condition of The Great Game into a playable setting, using included rules. Please contact me by reply or PM.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Putting Meat On The Bones

So Klaxon and I are filling out the solar system we ended up with after playing a game of The Great Game, which is a board game I designed, basically to do just this, although this is the first time we have played it in it's real intended role. We have played it several times as a straight board game, and really enjoyed it. The big difference is in writing everything that happens down, in a way that the GM can make into a history of the setting.

We are undergoing the process of 'fleshing out' the final state of the Great Game, which starts in 2020, and ends in 2120, leaving a slew of settlements all over the solar system. This involves looking at who settled this colony - maybe it was started by South Korea, then continued by Brazil and brought to stability by Indonesia.

This polyglot community is probably unique, with its own strange amalgamations of holidays, customs, and languages. What do they work on here? What do they export? What do they PLAY at? How did they get to this point?

Klax and I have got all the way to Mars. From here, things thin out rapidly! But there are still some hugely important places left to do - Ceres, Oberon, Titan, and Pluto all have massive independent nations, with multiple markets and diverse populations, and they all have a story, created in the Great Game. Researchers on Titan found the cure for Mega-AIDs, and grew from a tiny, hardscrabble scientific community to full independence in a single decade. All due to actions the players took in The Great Game.

Now we put it all together, and make it all work!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Play Testing StarCluster 4 - In The Beginning

I have begun playtesting In The Beginning. We created a setting using The Great Game board game, and now have started to fill it out from those origins. Immediately I found that the notes each player took for each round (a decade per round) of their play A: do not have the same information in each, and B: supply the wrong information. I need to re-create the Player Sheets to give the GM the information needed. The headings should be Decade/Range (Supplied), Cards Played, Who Was Affected +/-, What Happened?, Consequences In Space, and Points Scored. The same with the Colony Tracker - the headings should be Colony (Supplied), Date Founded, Date Failed, Date Independent, Status, Owner, and Population Origin.

Then I began fleshing out the colonies. The first two were a tiny unstable colony on Mercury, and a failed colony on an orbital. The fleshing out process (Determine Exports, Infrastructure, and Movers & Shakers, went as expected, except we (Klaxon and I) determined non-independent colonies would have a governor appointed to rule over them in addition to the native movers and shakers. No problem! Then we hit Venus! Venus is a world with perhaps hundreds of highly mobile floating cities, so the single list of cultural infrastructure generated by the tool I had made would not work well. So we had to divide the colonies into ones we could do with a simple setup and ones which needed a more flexible arrangement. That took some time! Then we made up a method that used the same infrastructure components in a different way, giving some things EVERYBODY had, some things shared across the world (Broadcast media, banking system, etc...) and a list of PROBABLE items. That worked much better! We finished Venus and ran out of time, so we will continue fleshing things out tomorrow, but the hard work is done and the modifications needed are in place!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Titan Lake Town

Here is a town built beside a hydrocarbon lake in Titan's polar area. Some of the best real estate in the solar system!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Asteroid Collectives

Yet another settlement type for StarCluster 4 - In The Beginning - Asteroid Collectives:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Venusian Floating Cities

Another settlement type for In The Beginning! Venusian Floating Cities:

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Venus Jaunt

This song is intended as the B side to Ram Jet - The Venus Jaunt! Finished just now!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Mercurian Polar City

Here is a Mercurian polar city, located in a crater in Mercury's north polar area, for In The Beginning: