#TSAO These Stars Are Ours! A setting for #CephesusEngine or #TravellerRPG

 

 

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Courtesy spacecockroach.blogspot.com
These Stars Are Ours!  (TSAO) is a tabletop RPG Sci-Fi setting for the Cepheus Engine or 2D6 OGL SCIFI (nee Traveller SRD). TSAO is a complete Alternate Traveller Universe (ATU) small-ship setting that offers rich background, interesting aliens, and many adventure seeds for the Referee. Though not without a few warts, TSAO shows the great potential of Cepheus Engine used in a setting beyond the classic Third Imperium.  TSAO may be the first setting to take full advantage of the Cepheus Engine rules from the ground up and joins Gypsy Knight Games The Clement Sector and Zozer Games Orbital 2100 as yet another example of the vibrant Cepheus Engine community of rules and settings.

 

 

The setting of TSAO is a logical outgrowth of 20th century UFO conspiracies:

Set in 2260 AD – two years after the Terrans took Keid and forced the Reticulan Empire to capitulate the book introduces the player characters to the immediate aftermath of the Terran victory in the Terran Liberation War against the mighty Reticulan Empire and its many thralls. For their part, the upstart Terrans, bolstered by their victory against their old masters, now move to become a power to be reckoned with in interstellar affairs. Against this background of espionage, maneuvering, and saber-rattling, and on the new interstellar frontiers, the player characters can forge a destiny of heroes or villains of the new United Terran Republic. (DriveThruRPG)

TSAO is delivered in a 209 page pdf (also now available in a POD option). This meaty setting is explained over six chapters and two appendixes.

 

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Courtesy spicapublishing.co.uk
Chapter 1 – The United Terran Republic provides much of the history and setting background. Included is not just a recap of events to date, but also many groups or factions or agencies that the player characters (PCs) could interact with. Psionics has a role in this setting. Given the assumed Tech Level (TL) of 11-12 (with some military at 13), TSAO (like Omer Golan-Joel’s earlier Outer Veil setting) is a high-tech but small-ship universe.

 

Chapter 2 – Aliens describes the humans neighbors, opponents, and allies(?). In the space of just a few pages many races are fully described and (again) are rich with adventure seeds and story hooks for development.

Chapter 3 – Characters and Careers is a great example of how to take the basic character generation system in Cepheus Engine and stretch it to showcase it’s full potential. PCs can be the default Humans or select from several alien races. Careers are taken from 13 civilian careers in Cephesus Engine or an from the 20 new ones in TSAO, including seven (7) alien “careers.”

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Courtesy spacecockroach.blogspot.com
Chapter 4 – Starships showcases alien saucers and Terra’s ships along with a few other alien constructs. Art is provided by the ever-dependable Ian Stead and others. Make sure to look at the 300-ton Terran Shaka-class Light Military Transport (and especially the Decommissioned Shaka-class Transport) for a not-to-subtle nod to Serenity and the Firefly-class.

Chapter 5 – Terran Borderlands is combination gazetteer and Referee’s Information. The worlds of Known Space is detailed, along with many story hooks and adventure seeds. The usual World Generation process from Cephesus Engine is expanded upon here with an Expanded Universal World Profile that adds a bit more detail but also a whole many more ideas that PCs or Referees can grab onto.

Chapter 6 – Patrons describes 12 Patrons that might engage the PCs. The chapter is not only a grouping of ready-made adventures, but also provides insight into the setting as viewed by the authors.

Appendix A – Terran News Agency Dispatches, February 2260 is a call back to the Traveller News Service snippets that were a staple of Classic Traveller and its successors. Again, these short news items can be the start of yet more adventures!

Appendix B – Sources of Inspiration, Literary and Otherwise is TSAO‘s Appendix N. I always look over these lists to see what inspirations the authors took and to see what I may want to add to my reading/viewing.

The last part of TSAO is an index. This is one of the best indexes I have ever seen in a book. However…the pdf is not cross-linked. This highlights some of my pet peeves with so many pdf products; page numbering and no linking. TSAO is paginated like most books, with page 1 being the interior title page. Unfortunately, this is “page 3” of the pdf, meaning if using your pdf page search you will always be three pages off from your target! The publisher could of avoided (or lessened the impact) of this issue if the Table of Contents (or even that great Index?) was linked.

Production quality is very good. Compared to Stellagama’s previous The Space Patrol I can see definite improvement. Get the linking and page numbering issues nailed and I will likely have nothing to complain about….

The authors call TSAO the first in the Visions of Empire (VoE) space opera settings. If TSAO is any indication, the VoE series will be settings rich in background using (and stretching) the Cepheus Engine rules to their finest.

 


These Stars Are Ours!  By Omer Golan-Joel, Richard Hazelwood, and Josh Peters. Stellagama Publishing, 2017.

Wargame Wednesday – Tomorrow’s War in the Outer Veil

Courtesy writups.org

Xenophon (New Detroit 1037 – Outer Veil) – 2159

This scenario draws from Spica Publishing’s Outer Veil setting for the Mongoose Traveller RPG and was fought using Ambush Alley’s Tomorrow’s War skirmish rules.

Lt. Commander Graup, Federated Nations of Humanity (FNH) Navy, and captain of the 300-ton Feilong-class Patrol Frigate 486 knew something was wrong. After grounding at Xenophon’s Class C starport, the Marine Squad led by Gunnery Sergeant Pencol had left on foot to visit a small research station and download data tapes. Why his orders were to send his Marine Squad was not for Graup to question; but given that Xenophon was basically a corporate world he was sure it had something to do with industrial intrigue. He was even more surprised when he got an urgent comm from Gunny Pencol announcing the Marines had taken casualties and were returning quickly.

Graup broke open the ships locker and armed the crew. One of the gunners manned the dorsal laser turret while the engineers began the pre-launch routines. He debated if he should launch his Caracal Assault Boat. It had been on stand-by since the squad left, but the op was supposed to be so easy there was no air support called for. Guess that was wrong….

Graup was at the breaching tube airlock as Pencol and his squad returned. Four Marines where there should of been seven. Graup could feel the nervousness of his crew growing; they knew that Marines didn’t leave their own behind. To return with half a unit was not a good omen.

Graup became even more concerned when Pencol got close. He had seen that look before – Combat Panic. Pencol was breathing fast and looking about wildly. Graup could also see the anger in the eyes of the two Privates and the fireteam gunner, a Private 1st Class. The gunner was bringing up the rear, walking backwards and looking at the way they had come.

“It must of been an entire company of regular troops!” Pencol was nearly screaming. “They ambushed us! Zeta Squad was wiped out. We have to lift now and get word to the Corps!”

Pencol pushed past Graup and went straight to his quarters. He was definitely not in a good way. Graup waved the medic to follow Pencol. Graup then turned back to the members of Theta Squad. The team was kneeling in a defensive circle just outside the airlock as the squad gunner continued to look back.

“What happened?”

Situation – A Squad of FNH Marines from a Patrol Frigate has been ordered to enter a small research station and seize data tapes. This is a Snatch & Grab mission with 2x Operational Momentum Points. The Marines are led by Gunnery Sergeant Pencol who has been on the frontier a bit too long and is not a good leader (-1 Leadership). The Marines are organized into two fireteams each with 2x Rifleman with FEConA Model 2146 Advanced Combat Carbines and a Squad Gunner (Theta has a FeConA Model 2138 Advanced Support Weapon – TL3/Lt AP:1 while Zeta has a FeConA Model 17 Squad Assault Rocket Launcher – TL3 Med AP:2/AT: 2(M). The Marines are Troop Quality D10, Morale D10, Confident, Normal Supply, Overall TL3, not on the Grid, and wearing Hard Armor (2D).

Facing the Marines is a mercenary squad from a Kaban-class Assault Frigate. The Mercs are also searching for the data tapes, and got to the research station first. They have a Consolidate & Hold mission with 2x Operational Momentum Points. There are 12 mercenaries. The leader is charismatic (+2 Leadership). There are two fireteams of 4 riflemen armed with TY-AM-28 Assault Rifles, one gunner with a TY-AP-89 light machine gun – TL 1 Lt AP:1, a computer tech armed with a TY-88M machine pistol (Close Assault only) and a medic seconded from the ship. The mercs are Troop Quality D8, Morale D8, Confident, Normal Supply, Overall TL 2, not on the Grid, and wearing Hard Armor (2D).

“We were almost to the station,” the gunner started. “We were split left-right along a road. The station had several dense woods on either side. Sarge ordered us to flank the station on both sides. As we moved to the left with Sarge we took fire from some bad guys in the trees. Not much, only small arms but Sarge had us drop right there. Zeta Squad was moving to the right; they also took some fire – sounded lighter but faster than ours – I saw them keep moving.”

FNH Marines have the initiative on Turn 1. Theta Squad declares Rapid Movement. Mercenary Orange Team is hidden in trees and tries to ambush Theta Squad. The Marines spot the mercs and stops movement short of the trees to take the mercs under fire. IN the Round of Fire the Marines fire first, seriously wounding one of the mercs and pinning the rest of the merc team. On the other side of the road, the Merc Gunner and Merc Leader successfully ambush Zeta Squad as they move towards cover. Zeta chooses not to React and reach the cover of trees. Meanwhile, the mercenary Red Team inside the Research Station fires on Theta Squad. Being beyond optimal range it scores no hits against, but in the reaction fire one of the mercs is wounded. The team calls for the medic, who slaps a bandage on the lightly wounded merc.

“We started taking some more fire, and Sarge pointed to a cluster of trees to the left of the enemy – we made a dash for it. I could hear the chatter of that machine gun again across the road. Zeta told us on the comm they were going to charge the machine gun because it looked to be all by itself. They were cursing when it faded back into the woods as they charged.”

The mercs gain the initiative and try to take Theta Squad under fire. Theta reacts first and races for cover suffering no casualties. On the other side, Zeta ignores the pings from the machine gun and try to Close Assault the gun. As Zeta dashes across the gap between the trees, the gun seeming fades into the forest (a successful defensive Close Assault check allows it to move back to the Research Station).

“Zeta called out they had the station in sight and were going in. We actually couldn’t help them; we saw a team of four bad guys crossing from one group of trees to another in front of us. I guess we had hurt them because they were carrying one of their guys. Keening there started to get up to go after them but Sarge stopped us. I guess he was listening to the comm as Zeta went screaming into the station. We could hear a whole ‘lota firing then silence. One of our guys was moaning and we could hear a bad guy order him to drop his gun. Then the comm went dead. Sarge didn’t do anything for a long while. Then he ordered us back here.”

Orange Team tries to Rapid Move to another stand of trees but fails their Casualty Penalty Check, moving only at Tactical Speed. Theta Squad reacts and tries to Close Assault but fails their quality check. On the other side of the battlefield, Zeta Close Assaults the building but the three Marines run into seven mercs inside the building. In the exchange of fire one merc goes down – but so do all three Marines. The merc who was hit bounces right back up, but two of the Marines are seriously wounded and the third has light wounds. They are taken prisoner.

Graup nodded gravely. “How many bad guys do you figure there are,” he asked the gunner.

“It seemed like a reinforced squad, maybe a dozen or so bad guys.” The gunner spoke as he kept scanning the horizon. “Not too heavily armed, but we walked right into their trap. I don’t know why Zeta didn’t use their rockets to knock down the building a bit or why Sarge didn’t call for the boat. I don’t think he realized how many bad guys were out there.”

Graup punched the comm panel on the bulkhead beside him. “Bridge, quick launch. Once we get up we will launch the Caracal.” The whine of the ship’s engines started growing louder.

“We can’t leave them!” The gunner was shouting over the roar of the engines. He also looked like he wanted to turn his big support gun on Graup.

Graup leaned close to the young Marine to be heard. “We’re not leaving. We are going to get up where we can see what’s happening. There is not too much traffic on or off this rock. We will interdict anything that launches, and use the Caracal to search the area of the Research Station. Any ship we clear will carry a message to FNH forces requesting support. We got one month of fuel; by then we either have them or help. We need to be patient; but we ain’t leaving them.”

The gunner and Graup stared at one another for a moment. The gunner then used his eyes to gather up the two Privates and board the ship. “Promise me this, skipper. When we find them, I get the first shot.”

Zeta Squad got too cocky; after taking several rounds of ineffective fire they figured they could Close Assault the building and quickly knock down the mercs. Unfortunately for the Marines, the mercs got an awesome first set of die rolls and wounded all three Marines who were captured in turn.

The poor leadership rating of the Marine Gunnery Sergeant also hurt the Marines, whereas the outstanding leadership of the mercenary commander more than made up for poorer training and inferior technology of his force.