What are y'all up to these days?

Ran our first session of 13th Age last night.
I've had it for years, collected supplements etc but never actually ran it.

Things went really well, we're liking it so far, it's much better than D&D for this group
They are only Adventurer Tier, and I may keep them within the Level 1 to Level 4 range for some time
However they are very profficient straight out the gate, and each level-up will advance them significantly

The setting is the default of 13th Age's The Dragon Empire, which is both very rich in flavour and key setting details, yet also described in very broad brushstrokes with lots of room for making the setting our own

Due to the epic nature of the setting, I'm liberally mixing the core foundation European Medieaval Fantasy with Ancient Asian Epic flavour (Vedic and Ancient Chinese). For the background canvas basically think Franksia/Carolingian Europe with A Song Of Fire & Ice and The Silmarillion, meets Journey To The West and Ramayana / Mahabharata. The epic stuff is more background at this stage, but the characters will get more inmersed in the very heart of it the more they level up.

Really looking forward to seeing where we go with this
 
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I love that you are tossing in the Vedic stuff. Honestly, I feel like it gives it a breath of fresh air and communicates a lot about the setting. Just gotta show that one commercial with the two guys firing arrows at each other and everyone gets it. That or the more recent palm trees as human catapults.

Somewhere in the mid levels you may find it a bit hard to challenge the party in combat. I found I had to add in a pack of mooks just to make it more interesting. Maybe I was doing it wrong, but heads up.
 
Got back to some gaming this week. On Thursday played in the DC Heroes game, where my character finally got to face off directly with what I believe will be her main nemesis, the Reach/Daemonite hybrid now calling herself the Black Beetle. Although I had the advantage in sheer power, she had enough tricks and special powers to make it a hard fight, even as she summoned the Reach to invade Earth (which this world's Justice League wound up dealing with). Also had to team up in an uneasy alliance with some Daemonites, who did not want the Reach anywhere near Earth (since they want to conquer it for themselves, of course).

Last night our face-to-face group had our second session of our DCC Umerica game. The question for our village was do we pay 'tribute' to a nearby village to avoid them razing and raiding our people, or do we attempt to take the fight to them? Being PC's, and with our voices carrying weight due to our successes in plundering the remains of the nearby mall last time, of course we went with the more murder-y option. A bloody ambush was not without cost, but in the end we were successful, destroying the raiders, and our village now better armed than before.
 
That cyberpunk red video got me back to thinking about cyberpunk and what I want to do, so I’ve been tinkering with that until my game starts up.

Needing to reduce my stress at work so I can have my muse back. It’s a very direct correlation.
 
Quality Gear: Swords
Lets take a stab at swords this week. An iconic staple of the spandex world, in our opening outing we run the gamut from cheap wall hangers to star forged blades that shunt anything they touch off into another dimension.

 
That's super cool. :-) Very similar to what my group did as well, they loved the Ark building stuff, and got really attached to "their" Ark. They were all kinds of bent when I staged a big attack on the Ark that destroyed a few of their projects. Once they put out the fires, they loaded up and followed the attackers back to their hideout and wrecked the place.

I also adjusted some of the timing of things. It didn't always make sense to do Ark stuff, or events, at each session. Sometimes they had long adventurers that could last 3-5 sessions. I'd just track stuff happening at home in the Ark, and surprise them with stuff when they finally dragged their asses back home.

Oh, and the realization of where they are located is super fun. I purposely picked Tokyo to be a little vague, but eventually one of my players pieced it together after seeing a few landmarks.

Can see the same happening with this group as yours... They're going to visit Yassan in tomorrow's session and one of the PC Stalker's hates him (ref: in MYZ each character has to pick an NPC they hate), basically jealous of their reputation and ability, so that should make for some decent RPing as the group tries to pump him for information about the zone "... beyond the water".

On their way to investigate 'Starfall', I'm going to drop in the Saurian zone sector so I've been painting miniatures today for them. Not finished them yet but they're coming along nicely...

1694369267257.png

Used contrast paints and its the first time I've used vibrant colours. Wow, are they hit and miss. The blue is just... flat, the turquiose and purple have turned out nice but needed two coats. I'll have to take notes on how to use each colour - same range, different application techniques - not good in my opinion!

Will also need to do some pirate miniatures too but I think any generic apocalyptic figures/mutants should be okay for those.
 
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Can see the same happening with this group as yours... They're going to visit Yassan in tomorrow's session and one of the PC Stalker's hates him (ref: in MYZ each character has to pick an NPC they hate), basically jealous of their reputation and ability, so that should make for some decent RPing as the group tries to pump him for information about the zone "... beyond the water".

On their way to investigate 'Starfall', I'm going to drop in the Saurian zone sector so I've been painting miniatures today for them. Not finished them yet but they're coming along nicely...

I'm jealous, I never got to use the Saurians...it was the next "event" I had before my game group imploded. I had tied it into the oil rig encounter, with a lone and crazy survivor, everyone else onboard killed or taken. But then the PC's were traveling by water using a boat they borrowed from the cult group, and were heading back, and I was seriously considering having something large and dangerous capsize their boat, sending everyone into the water, where they'd be captured by the saurians, and have to get out of their sub lair.
 
Library Black Hack game went great yesterday. Had 2 returners and 5 noobs. Did a one-shot about stopping a necromancer. The party succeeded, after getting into various hijinks en route.
 
I love that you are tossing in the Vedic stuff. Honestly, I feel like it gives it a breath of fresh air and communicates a lot about the setting. Just gotta show that one commercial with the two guys firing arrows at each other and everyone gets it. That or the more recent palm trees as human catapults.

Something like this

Somewhere in the mid levels you may find it a bit hard to challenge the party in combat. I found I had to add in a pack of mooks just to make it more interesting. Maybe I was doing it wrong, but heads up.
Yep I'll look out for this, and throttling things up a bit with liberal use of Mooks sounds like a good idea
 
Wondering if I should even bother proposing Justice Inc. and Lands of Mystery for a game inspired by The Lost World and At the Earth's Core. Hard sell, probably. Might have better luck just with pulp vigilantes. But Hero System is a hard sell in general even though the actual mechanic is pretty simple. It's all that front-loaded creation and massive books nonsense scaring gamers off. Maybe a variety of suitable pregenerated character options so players really just need to announce intentions and chuck 3d6 when told to?
20230910_195822.jpg
 
Wondering if I should even bother proposing Justice Inc. and Lands of Mystery for a game inspired by The Lost World and At the Earth's Core. Hard sell, probably. Might have better luck just with pulp vigilantes. But Hero System is a hard sell in general even though the actual mechanic is pretty simple. It's all that front-loaded creation and massive books nonsense scaring gamers off. Maybe a variety of suitable pregenerated character options so players really just need to announce intentions and chuck 3d6 when told to?
Do it. Justice Inc is one of the best implementation of the Hero System. Hero System at the Pulp Level/ Heroic level is quick and easy. The numbers are small and reasonable. (Can you add 3 eight times to your toal?) All the crazy math does not happened (as those are powers and power frameworks - required for supers, but not for anyone else). The speed never goes above 4, (and things break when you get to 7). Skills rolls are 3d6 vs normal level numbers.

You just need to show them one thing. Put one finger at the beginning of character gen and one finger at the end of it and pinch. Then show them the tiny percentage of the book is character orriented. Add a few more pages for combat and boom. They will see that the game from the players point of view is pretty tiny. If you do this with Big Blue or Fred, they see the 500 pages of rules are for the GM and less than 100 (including combat and all power). Most of Big Blue is GM stuff and additional rules most games never use. Do this with D20 or BRP and Hero looks good.

Treat each "turn" as an administrative element. Each impulse is a turn by most gamer's interpretation. (Again with speeds between 2 and 5, it is not a problem.) Remind them at they recover on 12.

Also, use the combat roll trick. Your combat roll is 11+OCV (adjusted). You announce the amount you made the roll by (if you did) and that is the DCV you overcame.
 
i'm genuinely surprised he didn't flex his pecs and make the arrows pop out.
Heh heh, surely there must be a Feat for that in 13th Age?
No one would want to continue fighting a dude who could do that.
If playing Mythras with Epic characters, I'ld just make that an impromptu trapping of Compel Surrender as a Defensive Effect, that'ld be pretty awesome, heh heh
 
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Wondering if I should even bother proposing Justice Inc. and Lands of Mystery for a game inspired by The Lost World and At the Earth's Core. Hard sell, probably. Might have better luck just with pulp vigilantes. But Hero System is a hard sell in general even though the actual mechanic is pretty simple. It's all that front-loaded creation and massive books nonsense scaring gamers off. Maybe a variety of suitable pregenerated character options so players really just need to announce intentions and chuck 3d6 when told to?
View attachment 67763
Justice Inc is a small book especially by modern standards. Powers a very limited. I do think an archetype system where base stats for certain overarching roles can speed things up nicely.

It's not too much more work than players do now sifting through 12 5e manuals for race/class/variant combos.
 
Wondering if I should even bother proposing Justice Inc. and Lands of Mystery for a game inspired by The Lost World and At the Earth's Core. Hard sell, probably. Might have better luck just with pulp vigilantes. But Hero System is a hard sell in general even though the actual mechanic is pretty simple. It's all that front-loaded creation and massive books nonsense scaring gamers off. Maybe a variety of suitable pregenerated character options so players really just need to announce intentions and chuck 3d6 when told to?
View attachment 67763
Amusingly, the exact same iconic picture used as cover for Justice Inc. has also been used for the cover of the Savage Worlds's pulp supplement Thrilling Tales, as well as at least one other pulp game whose name eludes me.
I just find it funny, but I guess it's an homage, not plagiarism. I mean, I'm pretty sure it's an old cover with expired IP that inspired those pictures:thumbsup:!
 
Amusingly, the exact same iconic picture used as cover for Justice Inc. has also been used for the cover of the Savage Worlds's pulp supplement Thrilling Tales, as well as at least one other pulp game whose name eludes me.
I just find it funny, but I guess it's an homage, not plagiarism. I mean, I'm pretty sure it's an old cover with expired IP that inspired those pictures:thumbsup:!
The cover was by Brian K. Hamilton, who also did the cover for Mercenaries Spies & Private Eyes. He wasn't even alive in the pulp era.
ST0zwHYrjjrky7rNVU1qyRIutCRQprTLFFYOri_6KWM.jpg
 
Wondering if I should even bother proposing Justice Inc. and Lands of Mystery for a game inspired by The Lost World and At the Earth's Core. Hard sell, probably. Might have better luck just with pulp vigilantes. But Hero System is a hard sell in general even though the actual mechanic is pretty simple. It's all that front-loaded creation and massive books nonsense scaring gamers off. Maybe a variety of suitable pregenerated character options so players really just need to announce intentions and chuck 3d6 when told to?
Lands of Mystery also has stats for a bunch of other systems. I think I'd prefer using Chill or CoC. Not familiar with Daredevil's system.
 
The cover was by Brian K. Hamilton, who also did the cover for Mercenaries Spies & Private Eyes. He wasn't even alive in the pulp era.
Well...congrats to the artist, then! He totally fooled me:shock:!

Here's the cover I have in mind.

64454.jpg


I assume that they're using it with permission, but the similarities are striking:thumbsup:!
 
Not familiar with Daredevil's system.

Daredevils is a great game. You can do some quality pulp gaming with it. It is, however, crunchier than Hero System (at the pulp level). (Please remember, the uber crunchy hero reputation is based on "super heroes" (or high end magic users) and those who want to min max. When you are playing other genres at lower power levels, the game has simple math (can you add 3 to a total?) and is easy to play/run.)
 
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I had the chance to play a one shot of Marvel Saga this weekend. First time in a while, the GM hadn't run FTF in a while and it was a lot of fun. I was only frustrated by the fact I had to leave before the game concluded (had to go home to my dogs, and the drive was just too long to run home deal with them, and run back that late.)

I also had pretty rough cards for my character but really felts effective in the game because I was active and forward-thinking with what little I did have.
 
I'm jealous, I never got to use the Saurians...it was the next "event" I had before my game group imploded. I had tied it into the oil rig encounter, with a lone and crazy survivor, everyone else onboard killed or taken. But then the PC's were traveling by water using a boat they borrowed from the cult group, and were heading back, and I was seriously considering having something large and dangerous capsize their boat, sending everyone into the water, where they'd be captured by the saurians, and have to get out of their sub lair.

This week's session went really well!

The PCs needed to travel by boat to get across to where they needed to in search of 'Starfall' so I introduced them to Quint, Hooper and Brody - three strange mutants that spend most of their time out in the water... Definite generation thing as none of them got the Jaws reference! They will when the big shark turns up next session! Was singing sea shanties and doing rhymes straight from the film too. They loved it though. Was definitely lots of cool RPing and they bought me this to say thanks for GMing for them over the past couple of months:

1694637380119.png
 
This week's session went really well!

The PCs needed to travel by boat to get across to where they needed to in search of 'Starfall' so I introduced them to Quint, Hooper and Brody - three strange mutants that spend most of their time out in the water... Definite generation thing as none of them got the Jaws reference! They will when the big shark turns up next session! Was singing sea shanties and doing rhymes straight from the film too. They loved it though. Was definitely lots of cool RPing and they bought me this to say thanks for GMing for them over the past couple of months:

View attachment 67898

That's awesome! I so wanted to use that megladon looking monstrosity from Dead Blue Sea :-)

91j0jFGYQhL.jpg
 
The PCs needed to travel by boat to get across to where they needed to in search of 'Starfall' so I introduced them to Quint, Hooper and Brody - three strange mutants that spend most of their time out in the water... Definite generation thing as none of them got the Jaws reference!
Sometimes it's fun not to tell them and the penny doesn't drop until years later. :shade:
brody__hooper__and_quint_by_dusty_abell_d4u2qwq-fullview.jpg
 
Playing with youngsters who haven't read your books or seen your movies is great. You can impress them with wonderful original epic adventures like the one where my kids played hobbits elves who, with the aid of Aragorn the Ranger Peregrine the Fighter, had to transport The One Ring The Magic Chalice from The Shire their elf village through the Mines of Moria Tanglewood the Forest of Darkness to Mount Doom The Deadly Volcano to destroy it lest it fall into the clutches of Sauron The Wicked Wizard, all the while plagued by Deadly orcs goblins.
 
Sometimes it's fun not to tell them and the penny doesn't drop until years later. :shade:

I definitely don't plan on telling them...

1694693363051.png

:shade:

One highlight of the game was when I was playing Quint to the hilt, all rhymes and pirate type talking. One of the players, Luke, then asked "how old is this guy..." and I replied (very seriously), because they are mutants of the ark, "... about 19". We were in hysterics over that. I guess you definitely had to be there. Funny as f*ck though.

They really are a great bunch of 'kids'. I think they've saved me as a RPGer.
 
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The flu took me down like a pro-wrestler in a carnival match*...meaning I tapped out for the day, & am hurting in weird places
:shade:
.

And yet it's the first day of school tomorrow, and I have a night shift that I can, but don't want to cancel.
Add to it that on Sunday I must participate in the first session of a Pulp Chthulhu campaign which I helped organise, but am not running! Yes, I should actually get to play
:thumbsup:
!


On the bright side, I got pancakes out of it. So all is not as gloomy as it seems:angel:!

*You get no points for guessing what kind of video content inspired this comparison - at this point it'spretty predictable
:grin:
!
 
The flu took me down like a pro-wrestler in a carnival match*...meaning I tapped out for the day, & am hurting in weird places
:shade:
.

And yet it's the first day of school tomorrow, and I have a night shift that I can, but don't want to cancel.
Add to it that on Sunday I must participate in the first session of a Pulp Chthulhu campaign which I helped organise, but am not running! Yes, I should actually get to play
:thumbsup:
!


On the bright side, I got pancakes out of it. So all is not as gloomy as it seems:angel:!

*You get no points for guessing what kind of video content inspired this comparison - at this point it'spretty predictable
:grin:
!

Porn? Is it pancake porn? *


* Internet Rule 34 always applies.
 
You know how I bitch all the time about not having anyone to play RPG's with around here? Yeah, about that... so my son and his miscreant friends decided that I should run them a game. Since I'm a veteran of these things, I guess. They've all sorta played 5E, but I told my son I ain't touching that.

So I was like, so many choices... and before you get all excited AsenRG AsenRG , I didn't pick Mythras :-) But I've got MYZ, Mork Borg, CyBorg, Pirate Borg (you're probably sensing a pattern here...), CBR PNK, Forbidden Lands, DCC...shit, there's too much to list.

So, I decided to go with... Pirate Borg! Because everyone likes Pirates, right? Stupidly simple system, got some ideas already percolating in my nugget... but we're starting Saturday around noon. Shit, no pressure or anything :-)

Anyway, TL/DR version: I'm pretty excited to actually run a game again :gooseshades:
 
You know how I bitch all the time about not having anyone to play RPG's with around here? Yeah, about that... so my son and his miscreant friends decided that I should run them a game. Since I'm a veteran of these things, I guess. They've all sorta played 5E, but I told my son I ain't touching that.

So I was like, so many choices... and before you get all excited AsenRG AsenRG , I didn't pick Mythras :-) But I've got MYZ, Mork Borg, CyBorg, Pirate Borg (you're probably sensing a pattern here...), CBR PNK, Forbidden Lands, DCC...shit, there's too much to list.

So, I decided to go with... Pirate Borg! Because everyone likes Pirates, right? Stupidly simple system, got some ideas already percolating in my nugget... but we're starting Saturday around noon. Shit, no pressure or anything :-)

Anyway, TL/DR version: I'm pretty excited to actually run a game again :gooseshades:
I'm glad you're running games again, and for the family no less:thumbsup:!
That you didn't pick Mythras might be slightly regrettable, but - suprisingly for ya all - not all games need to be Mythras! And that you're introducing kids to non-5e games is also a great job already!

(Besides, Mythras is best enjoyed with side dishes of other systems...and then, when you say "I wonder why I'm not running this in Mythras", you know you're ready for Mythras once again:shade:).

Bottom line, have fun with Pirate Borg! I need to run a pirate adventure for the wife's Mythras character, myself.
 
Can see the same happening with this group as yours... They're going to visit Yassan in tomorrow's session and one of the PC Stalker's hates him (ref: in MYZ each character has to pick an NPC they hate), basically jealous of their reputation and ability, so that should make for some decent RPing as the group tries to pump him for information about the zone "... beyond the water".

On their way to investigate 'Starfall', I'm going to drop in the Saurian zone sector so I've been painting miniatures today for them. Not finished them yet but they're coming along nicely...

View attachment 67695

Used contrast paints and its the first time I've used vibrant colours. Wow, are they hit and miss. The blue is just... flat, the turquiose and purple have turned out nice but needed two coats. I'll have to take notes on how to use each colour - same range, different application techniques - not good in my opinion!

Will also need to do some pirate miniatures too but I think any generic apocalyptic figures/mutants should be okay for those.
Yeah there’s really three ”types” of Contrast paint, at least with the original colors, you just kind of have to learn which is which.
 
Compiling a list of ideas I like from my favorite sci fi books to perhaps assimilate and recombine into a unique Traveller setting. Just spitballing things from disparate and thinking about how they might fit together. Current bullet points include:

  • The Federation Survey Service from Chandler's Grimes stories
  • The Cyclan from Tubb's Dumarest series
  • The Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne from Laumer's Retief stories
  • "Free Traders" from Norton's Solar Queen books and Anderson's van Rijn stories
  • The Oikumene from Vance's Demon Princes novels
  • Noble houses from both Tubb's Dumarest series and Herbert's Dune books
  • The Universal Brotherhood from Tubb's Dumarest series
  • Either hyperspace/jump drive from Pournelle's King David's Spaceship or maybe the Mannschenn Drive from Chandler's Grimes stories
  • The Hausi guild of traders and negotiators from Tubb's Dumarest series
  • Lost Terran colonies (settlers from pre-FTL era) being rediscovered from Chandler's Grimes stories like Spartan Planet
  • Maybe personal force screens from Herbert's Dune books so laser pistols are less useful and blades are more common and we get more Dumarest-style knife fights
  • Maybe the esper-reliant (and dog-brains-in-aspic-reliant!) Carlotti transceiver from Chandler's Grimes stories, but we want to keep communications limited to the speed of travel as in the Traveller RPG
Due to the unimaginable distances and slow communications, there would be no thousand-world empires and such, mostly just Balkanized planets, worlds under one united government, and here and there the occasional multi-planet polity, or at least that's what I want so we can have a lot of variety in cultures and tech levels.

I'm not sure I want any aliens at all, maybe just remnants of vanished civilizations. I'll probably want probably some mutants as we get in some Dumarest novels like Derai and espers as we get in both Tubb and Chandler's settings, but psionic ability of any really useful degree would be quite rare.

Any other cool ideas I'm missing?

Edit: forgot to add:
  • The occasional unknowable and implacable alien creature like the "xenomorph" from the original Alien film
 
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Off to Japan for two weeks. First time ever, took decades for the stars to finally align. Something came up every other time, most recently covid. :crossed:

Maybe personal force screens from Herbert's Dune books so laser pistols are less useful and blades are more common and we get more Dumarest-style knife fights

You might consider reducing the explosive power of those things, but make sure they look like those crazy animated jelly boxes from the 80s movie.
 
Compiling a list of ideas I like from my favorite sci fi books to perhaps assimilate and recombine into a unique Traveller setting.


<snip>


Any other cool ideas I'm missing?

  • Starmenters from Vance's Alastor Cluster novels (particularly in Trullion: Alastor 2262).
  • The Connatic, the Concourse of Worlds in the Connatic's palace at Lusz, and the Whelm, also from the Alastor Cluster books.
  • IPCC weasels and the Deweaseling Corps from Vance's Oikumene novels.
  • Some of the anthropological features of the Free Traders in Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy: patrilocal matriarchy, each ship/clan having a secret language, each clan being divided ino two moieties to allow exogamy, but with exchange of unmarried girls when ships meet.
  • Huge orbital habitats rotating for artificial gravity, with interior surfaces to match megacities or small states.
  • Maybe protectors on their way out from the galactic core, as from Larry Niven's Protector.
  • Reliable, safe, affordable interstellar passenger liners with at least three classes of passage: stateroom, couchette, bunkroom.
Due to the unimaginable distances and slow communications, there would be no thousand-world empires and such, mostly just Balkanized planets, worlds under one united government, and here and there the occasional multi-planet polity, or at least that's what I want so we can have a lot of variety in cultures and tech levels.

You've probably heard me say this before — I do tend to rabbit on about transport economics — but what you want is interstellar travel that is slow but not terribly expensive. Making it take at least a week or so to reach a nearby world excludes travellers with a high opportunity cost of time, so that you don't get large flows of tourists effecting cultural exchange and dulling the exoticism of distant worlds. High fares would exclude numerous tourists, but they would also exclude unimportant travellers with a low opportunity cost of time. You want seedy commercial travellers, unemployed mercenaries military advisors, counter-security consultants between jobs, down-at-heel journalists, itinerant theatrical troupes and so on travelling on liners, not just diplomats, senior business executives, and senior officers (with troops in hibersleep).
 
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Being on sabbatical this semester has me in a pretty good gaming place.
  • I am running a Sunday night game of my Isle Beyond the Mists (Pirate PbtA campaign for the Between). We are 12 sessions into it.
  • I started a Tuesday morning session of Isle Beyond the Mist with a different group.
  • I am in a Thursday morning Savage World Rifts game as a player (Full Conversion Cyborg teamed up with a Dog-boy and Ley Line Walker).
  • I am in Thursday evening game of the Between as a player. We're 15 sessions into it.
These are all online through Zoom.

I have a first draft of White Mountain Rescue and I am polishing up Isle Beyond the Mist. I've started a noir campaign of the Between called the Tenderloin.

This is probably the most active I have been in gaming since high school.
 
Compiling a list of ideas I like from my favorite sci fi books to perhaps assimilate and recombine into a unique Traveller setting. Just spitballing things from disparate and thinking about how they might fit together. Current bullet points include:

  • The Federation Survey Service from Chandler's Grimes stories
  • The Cyclan from Tubb's Dumarest series
  • The Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne from Laumer's Retief stories
  • "Free Traders" from Norton's Solar Queen books and Anderson's van Rijn stories
  • The Oikumene from Vance's Demon Princes novels
  • Noble houses from both Tubb's Dumarest series and Herbert's Dune books
  • The Universal Brotherhood from Tubb's Dumarest series
  • Either hyperspace/jump drive from Pournelle's King David's Spaceship or maybe the Mannschenn Drive from Chandler's Grimes stories
  • The Hausi guild of traders and negotiators from Tubb's Dumarest series
  • Lost Terran colonies (settlers from pre-FTL era) being rediscovered from Chandler's Grimes stories like Spartan Planet
  • Maybe personal force screens from Herbert's Dune books so laser pistols are less useful and blades are more common and we get more Dumarest-style knife fights
  • Maybe the esper-reliant (and dog-brains-in-aspic-reliant!) Carlotti transceiver from Chandler's Grimes stories, but we want to keep communications limited to the speed of travel as in the Traveller RPG
Due to the unimaginable distances and slow communications, there would be no thousand-world empires and such, mostly just Balkanized planets, worlds under one united government, and here and there the occasional multi-planet polity, or at least that's what I want so we can have a lot of variety in cultures and tech levels.

I'm not sure I want any aliens at all, maybe just remnants of vanished civilizations. I'll probably want probably some mutants as we get in some Dumarest novels like Derai and espers as we get in both Tubb and Chandler's settings, but psionic ability of any really useful degree would be quite rare.

Any other cool ideas I'm missing?

Edit: forgot to add:
  • The occasional unknowable and implacable alien creature like the "xenomorph" from the original Alien film
Just adding to my own list:

• Esper-reliant astrogation, perhaps with a guild/union of espers, inspired by the Spacing Guild in Herbert's Dune books
 
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