sábado, 21 de marzo de 2020

Converting The Pirates of Drinax to M-Space

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M-Space is a great sci-fi roleplaying game based on Mythras (formerly known as RuneQuest 6th edition) that doesn't have any particular setting attached. What to run with it? One of the options is converting material from another game, such as Traveller. And one of the best campaigns for that game is The Pirates of Drinax, written by Gareth Hanrahan.

The Pirates of Drinax is a huge sandbox campaign currently published by Mongoose Publishing. It comes in 3 books and a map, and contains enough material to play for years. The basic premise of the campaign is that the ruler of a rump state in a star empire hires the player characters to regain said empire. To do that, he gives them a letter of marque so they can raid trading ships in the sector and then offer to protect the planets in the system from pirates. This small empire sits in the middle of two vast star empires: the Third Imperium and the Aslan Hierate.

On February 2018, a user of the The Design Mechanism forum called Pentallion started sharing his summaries about the sessions he was running converting The Pirates of Drinax to M-Space. He converted all the starships in the campaign and ran it on Roll20 for a year with 4 to 6 players, with every player controlling two characters. It wasn't until much later, that Clarence Redd made available a brief guide for converting Traveller material to M-Space or BRP. After that, he published one of the adventures he created for his campaign: Junkyard Blues. I contacted Pentallion to ask if he would agree to share his experience here, since I thought it would be valuable for other GMs who may want to do the same... So without further ado, I leave you with Pentallion, aka Scott Crowder, and his hands-on advice (I have only added some images).

My experience converting Pirates of Drinax to M-Space

Hello, my name is Scott Crowder and I’m the co-author, along with Clarence Redd, of the M-Space Companion. In this article I will share my experiences converting Pirates of Drinax to M-Space.

I chose to run my campaign using M-Space because I feel it is the culmination of the evolution of SciFi roleplaying that started with Traveller. It is very flexible and allows the GM great freedom. M-Space is so open ended that it can be used for virtually any setting. M-Space introduces new concepts and ideas to roleplaying such as Circles and Factions. It also draws from the incredibly rich Mythras roleplaying system.

The M-Space Companion includes detailed rules on robotics, cybernetics, hacking as well as a new character generation system and technology so advanced it feels like magic.

I've played M-Space extensively and the D100 system allows for a smooth narrative style of playing blended with the crunchy feel of D100 combat. My favorite part of M-Space, however, is the conflict resolution system for non combat situations. Be it climbing Mt. Everest or winning the Scopes trial, M-Space's conflict resolution system handles it simply and eloquently while giving the players their daily allowance of stress and intense game play.

I chose Pirates of Drinax because it has the reputation of being the greatest scifi campaign of all time. A well-deserved reputation I might add. If you’re looking for a sandbox to play your campaign in, then the Trojan Reach setting of Pirates is the best you’ll ever find.

Small detail of the map of the campaign The Pirates of Drinax

Naturally, I knew I was undertaking a rather large task in converting a Traveller campaign to M-Space. The first thing to consider is that Pirates of Drinax (PoD) has a LOT of starships. The next thing I noticed is that characters rolled up from the planet Drinax had their own custom made Life Event table.

Now, before I go any further, let me tell you a couple of things about myself. I used to love rolling up Traveller characters back in the GDW days (early ‘80s) when most of your characters died before you finished rolling them up and the ones that lived were so old they might as well retire. My friends and I used to joke that rolling up Traveller characters was the adventure. We never actually played a whole lot of the game. The other thing you should know is that the game we did play a whole lot of was Stormbringer. My favorite part of rolling up Stormbringer characters was having wildly different characters depending upon what nation they were from. It was these two factors that led me to create Origins, an alternate character generation system for M-Space.

So you could say that the first “conversion” I made was a Life Event system that mirrored the original GDW system and incorporated unique features for the various planets you could come from. After all, people who come from desert worlds will have different skills than those that grew up on a water world or an orbiting space station.

Mongoose Traveller players are well aware that their modern Life Event system is far more forgiving than the GDW system was. I wanted to capture that sense of risk rolling up your character had in the GDW days. Instead of possibly dying, in Origins you could find yourself in prison or sold into slavery.

Since in Stormbringer, you had the option of rolling for your nationality, in PoD I offered the option of rolling for your planet of origin. From this, I came up with the following character generation table that incorporates the Origins system into PoD. Here is a snippet of that table:

01-15 Drinax: -1d4 STR, -1d4 CON, +1d4 INT, +1d4 CHA Origin: Skyrise
(Scholar, Engineer, Pilot, Diplomat, Official)
16-20 Drinax Grounder: +2d4 CON, -1d4 INT, -1d4 CHA Origin: Jaffa
(Mercenary, Colonist, Thief, Smuggler, Scout)
21-25 Asim: +1d4 CON, -1d4 INT Origin: New Haven (Mercenary, Colonist, Thief)
26-30 Theev - Origin: Ghoster's Rock (Mercenary, Thief, Criminal, Gambler, Smuggler)

The places listed as "Origin" (Ghoster’s Rock, Jaffa, Skyrise, New Haven) are the names of the planet archetypes used in the Origins system, that is included in the M-Space Companion.

Here are two of the characters we rolled up for my campaign using the Origins system:

Aaron Jackson (artist unknown) and Irene Addler (art by maratarslanovare two player characters in Scott's campaign 

Aaron Jackson
Aaron is a bounty hunter. He grew up in the jungles of Inurin's equatorial region. He found Q Tech in a lost city buried in the jungles. He left behind his lover on Inurin. In his bounty hunting he brought in a famous criminal and made a dangerous enemy.

Irene Addler
Irene knows fences throughout much of the Trojan Reach. She has lived a life of crime and she would be the first to tell you: "Crime pays baby, it pays real well." Whatever doors her fantastic good looks don't open, her lockpicking or hacking skills do. While she's of no use during space combat, she's an invaluable member of the crew nonetheless. And after every trade or transaction, she makes sure she gets her slice of the pie, with Captain Highfall’s approval. He recognizes they'd be broke in no time without her keen eye for a cargo's worth and her ruthless bargaining skills. None realize, however, that Irene is a cyborg as well. She escaped from her homeworld of Neumann and the Shield Church would take back her nanobyte implants, even though doing so would kill her.

Converting NPCs from PoD to M-Space was fairly simple. Traveller uses 2d6 and M-Space uses 3d6. I just add 4 to any stat except INT, which gets +6 (since M-Space INT is 2d6+6). END is CON. Social Status becomes Charisma. Not the same, but somewhat comparable. Education is an unnecessary stat as it is addressed in occupation skills in M-Space. However, since it takes a bit of willpower and determination to have a high level of education, I converted EDU to Power. Size needs to be rolled up, or, for a quick conversion, just make Size equal CON.

For converting skills I decided that NPCs were average stat folk for the most part so gaining a skill in M-Space terms generally put them at 25%. Thus, Gunnery-0 skill in Traveller became Gunnery 25% skill in M-Space. For each additional point they gained in that skill in Traveller, they gained 15% in M-Space. A typical NPC has 2 points in their occupational skills, so a typical Mechanic might have Mechanics 2, which converts to Mechanics 55% for M-Space.

As an example from Pirates of Drinax: Blacksand Widows have gun skills of 70% and unarmed combat at 70%. Streetwise 55% and Deception 40%. It’s quick and easy to convert NPCs to M-Space this way. One quickly learns to read it straight off the page, converting in their head as they go.

Skill 0: 25%
Skill 1: 40%
Skill 2: 55%
Skill 3: 70%
Skill 4: 85%
Skill 5: 100%

Having created a means to roll up characters from different worlds with different backgrounds and life events, I then moved on to converting starships from PoD to M-Space. The primary difference between the two systems is that fuel does not take up a huge space in M-Space starships the way it does in Traveller. I made the decision to ignore fuel tonnage. In my universe, starships employ a warp drive system that uses very little fuel, instead creating exotic matter called Casimirium that powers the gravity warping engine. This vastly simplified the conversion process.

Art by Naima

Here is the M-Space version of the Harrier:

# to hit Hit Location Armor/hit points
01-03 Advanced Sensor Array 0/5
04 Cargo Scoop 6/1
05-14 Military Countermeasure Suite 6/15
15-21 Bridge 6/10
22-24 Particle Barbette 6/5
25-45 Staterooms 6/32
46-50 Common Area 6/8
51-59 Jump Drive 6/14
60-62 Cryochambers 6/4
63 Triple Beam Turret 6/1
64 Armory 6/1
65-73 Power Plant 6/13
74-80 Med Lab 6/10
81 Atmospheric kit 0/1
82-85 Underwater kit 6/6
86-94 Cargo Hold 6/14
95 Fuel Processor 6/2
96-00 Maneuver Drive 0/8

To create the above starship I simply took the tonnage in PoD of the Harrier, ignoring fuel tanks, and converted them to Modules from M-Space. Bridge, 10 modules. Cryochambers, 4 modules. Armor was 6 tons so that became 6 points of armor. Since, in Traveller, some ships specifically state that they armor their sensors and thrusters, I took that to mean maneuver drives and sensors weren’t normally armored. Then it became very simple to use the M-Space ship design rules to make the above hit location table.

I liked the idea of having a hit location table that reflected the actual ship layout. This becomes important to ships that purposefully disperse their critical systems such as the ship above. Using the ships blueprints provided in the campaign I ordered the hit location from front (01) to rear (00). I also made a house rule on damage allocation. If a hit location was totally destroyed by one hit, excess damage was assigned equally to adjacent hit locations. This could rapidly expand to take out whole sections of the ship. One could even see that a ship might be split in half if the regions destroyed so indicated. Most often, however, a massive hit to the engines system might take out the maneuver drives, power plant and jump drive as the majority of ships had these systems installed at the rear of the ship.

The Harrier is the starship the player characters are given in the campaign in order to do their piracy. 

Some things are simpler if left in Traveller terms. Rather than calculate Handling and Speed per M-Space, I just left those terms alone. Thus, the Harrier above has Thrust 6, Jump 2. It carries a Torch Drive allowing it to go to warp speed two-thirds the distance from a gravity well than Traveller allows. It has Superior Stealth, giving it –60% to be detected by Sensors. Its Advanced Sensors give the operator +15% to his Sensor skill. It can make a Stealth Jump, meaning when it comes out of warp speed it doesn’t cause the built-up dust collected in the warped space to explode outwards, causing a detectable bang when a ship jumps into a system. The ship is 200 tons in Traveller, but comes out to be 156 in M-Space, counting armor. That gives the Harrier 150 hit points but I don’t use general hit points so I didn’t calculate that for the ships I converted.

The Harrier main weapon is a Particle Barbette. This is a high energy weapon that adds +15% to Gunnery, does 4d6+1 damage and has a range of 40. It has a wide arc (Forward, Port and Starboard).

The Harrier also carries a single missile rack. The PCs later upgraded this to a triple beam turret doing 6D6, forward arc, range 20.

I never bothered to convert planetary system specs to M-Space as that type of information is easily read and used by GMs as is. I see no need to make a GMs life harder.

For weaponry, I took from a variety of Mythras sources. Warning to GMs: The Gauss rifle from Luther Arkwright is way over-powered. The Gauss rifle presented in Mythras Imperative is not as OP. One concern about M-Space that I’ve heard is that the personal weapons list is rather sparse. Since the game is based on Mythras Imperative, which has a much larger array of weaponry, I haven’t found that to be a problem.

Other starships from the campaign: the Serenity, the Sindal Spear and the Aajege.

My favorite moment in Pirates of Drinax

My favorite moment in my campaign came when they were exploring a derelict starship. This is what they saw on Roll20 as they explored the exterior of the ship:

I really love how the shadows gave this a very three-dimensional feel to it and a sinister sense of dread. Here is how I recounted that day on the TDM website:

(NOTE: A Vargr is a canine Major Race from Earth that was abducted by aliens many millenia ago and given sentience and altered to walk upright. The Vargr described below was the only life form detected in the derelict ship above.)
"Never let a bunch of Orlanthi get their own spaceship." One of my players said after tonight's action.
So tonight was really fun, although the GM fumbled and will probably never hear the end of it.
They started off by surprising me and splitting into two groups to enter each airlock. The aft section still had air and enough power for dim lights. The forward airlock led into the frozen, airless command center. The away team was being monitored by Bixel in the Darklight. The curious thing was that the person giving off the distress signal was in the uninhabitable section of the base, not the part with air and power. Lucas led team alpha into the frozen section, Red led team bravo into the powered section. Immediately, there was a concern. As soon as Bravo entered the base station, all comms with them were cut off. Also, several of team Alpha had neural comms and they began getting some sort of odd feedback that was dizzying. Bixel on the Darklight could not identify the source. There was no other life form than the Vargr who wasn't moving.
Both sides proceeded deeper into the ship. Alpha found the airlock that connected to the part of the ship that had power. Meanwhile, things with Bravo were getting tense. A voice was talking inside their heads, repeating everything they said. It wasn't a human voice. They came across a bug the size of a great dane and it spit acid at them. They chopped off one of its legs yet with amazing agility, it ran away. What it did next was very concerning to them. It opened a door, then opened the hatch to an airlock then proceeded to try to blow the airlock, thus sucking the PCs out of the only habitable space on the ship. 
While this was happening Bixel saw that the Vargr was moving towards team alpha. But comms were jammed. It was at this moment, as the creature started fumbling with the airlock controls, that it stopped jamming comms and Bixel started shouting into their ears: "It's coming!" Which way asked Lucas? 
North, I told Bixel's player. 
North? Which way is north? We're in SPACE!!! 
Starboard, it's coming down the hall on the starboard side. I'll never hear the end of this one. So there was a slight delay as the players gave me grief lol. 
Despite the comic relief, Lucas still freaked out. He shot at the Vargr when it appeared, unarmed, in a vacc suit with his hands up. Fortunately, he missed. Unfortunately, he blew out a section of the wall and the Vargyr tumbled into space. Meanwhile, over comms, Red could be heard saying "OMG! It's trying to blow the hatch!" Then there was fully automatic fire as Red unleased the boarding gun on the creature......and missed with every single shot. He didn't miss the hatch, though, which was completely blown out, sucking the creature, Red and the rest of team bravo except the one guy who had magnetic boots right out of the starship.
I really enjoyed how freaked out they were and how they overreacted so badly. Fortunately, the team recovered after a little dramatic space rescue.

That space rescue, by the way, highlighted one of the many things I love about M-Space. It was an impromtu event. Obviously, I hadn’t forseen the need to rescue crew members and aliens floating in space. M-Space's conflict resolution system makes these kinds of events easy to orchestrate while providing tension and drama to the players. Bixel’s Pilot skill was matched against a difficulty level I set at 60%. With each success, he plucked a PC or alien out of space. Each PC floating in space had their own damage pool. For this event, it was their Survival Space skill. Each time Bixel failed to pluck someone out of space, the remaining PCs lost 1d10% of the Survival Space. If it reached zero, they died.

Now that isn’t technically how conflict pools are typically done in M-Space, but I felt it better reflected the situation by making the pool their Survival skill than two of their stats. So I think Clarence would approve.

Art by Naima

Other things the GM can do with M-Space for PoD. Using the factions and circles rules to track all the different forces out there in the campaign, be that GeDeCo, the Aslan, the Imperium, pirate gangs, relationships between the PCs and each planet, etc. PoD has rules for tracking each planets reaction to the PCs and how to turn them into safe havens. This can be handled using M-Space rules and doesn’t really require a lot of work. In fact, it makes tracking such relationships even easier. I’m sure I’m forgetting things and if anyone has any questions, feel free to ask away.

Thank you to Runeblogger for letting me share my experiences converting Pirates of Drinax to M-Space. Converting starships is time consuming but it is very easy. It’s just a lot of starships to convert. I’ve been asked many times for my list of converted starships and I’d love to share them, but Book 3 of Pirates of Drinax is the list of starships and I’d feel like I was copyright infringing if I gave out my conversions. It’d be like handing out their entire book. If Mongoose ever gives me permission to do so, however, rest assured I will take a day to type them up and upload them here.

EDITED (31/3/2020): Thanks to Mr Sprange's generosity and this thread on RPGnet, (thanks, Trsiten!), Scott was allowed to share the exhaustive list of converted starships: Download it here!

Best wishes on your own Pirates of Drinax campaign. It’s truly a great sandbox to play in, perhaps the best ever made for a scifi setting.

Scott Crowder

2 comentarios:

  1. Qué gran campaña y qué gran sistema. Yo he jugado varias partidas de Piratas de Drinax y es cierto que es un sandbox maravilloso. El concepto es genial y las aventuras dan para mucho. El sistema de facciones de M-Space tiene que venirle como anillo al dedo a la campaña.

    Ahora mismo, de hecho, estoy jugando la campaña online a través de Comunidad Umbría :).

    Gran detalle de Sprange al permitir publicar el listado.

    1. ¡Qué suerte tienes, Carlos! 😀 Yo al leer los comentarios de Scott Crowder en los foros, donde comentaba detalles de su campaña de Drinax con M-Space, me han entrado muchas ganas de dirigirla, también. Cuando me ponga a ello en serio ya te pediré consejillos. 😋


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