Saturday, June 15, 2013

Generic Sci-Fi

So recently I decided to get over my fear of Savage Worlds (I think I was afraid it would replace D6 in my heart as my favourite generic rpg) and give it a whirl.

First up I am running Ultimate Star Trek online for some friends all around the world.  That should be a fun time.

I am also very interested in doing a "generic" sci-fi setting using D6, but every time I decide which one I want to run, I get bogged down in minutiae of the various settings (Traveller, Star Frontiers, Shatterzone, etc...) and then there is all the cool stuff I have seen over the years in various sci-fi films.

So much like my amalgamated fantasy setting (more on that is another post) I am going to cobble together an "any thing goes" sci-fi setting.  I will use Dralasites (Star Frontiers), Vargar (Traveller), Elerians (Masters of Orion), etc...

Part of me thinks I should avoid any aliens from TV shows or films, as they are too instantly recognizable.  I mean if I say Klingon, or Rodian, or even Centauri, you immediately fill you head with a number of ideas about what you know about these races.  Now if I say Zhondani, or Yazirian or Slirdarian unless you know the source material, you don't have a mass media vision of them.

Now that does limit me to lose some of the cooler exotice races from say Star Wars like the Ithorians or the Rodians, or say the Andorians from Star Trek.  Still I can always find "serial numbers" filed off on them, or just use them and not worry about it.

What do you think?

Should I use Klingons and Vulcans and such things?  Or should I stick to my thoughts about using NONE of these televised/filmed aliens?

Either way, more to come.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ultimate Star Trek: Map of the Quadrant

Hey all so the time has come for me to show you what the Ultimate Star Trek universe looks like in a map.  Now before anyone says anything about the nature of space and 3 dimensions, I am incapable of making a 3D map, so 2D will have to suffice.

Moving on.

So this is the Milky Way Galaxy;

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Now in this version, which is often the same orientation of the Star Trek canon maps, the Sol sector is in the lower-middle of the map.  I don't like that for only one simple reason, it makes the centre of the galaxy "Galactic North" and the edge of the galaxy "Galactic South".

Happily there are other maps, many from NASA and other space agencies that flip the layout and look at the map from the other side.  Here's an isometric version;

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Now I like this a lot more.  As this is the way my Milky Way cartography will be orientated.

Now for those of you who are saying "So what?  Who cares?", you are missing the point of being creative.  When in full creative fugue (yes I know that isn't the exact meaning of the word, but trust me it works) things have to "work" or "fit" or "feel" right.  It is a time consuming insanity that can eat hours of a project, but in the end when it feels right, when everything clicks, the results are the best work you could do.  So, I care.  That's all that matters to me.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

Now when making this map I looked at a lot of different sources, not the least of which was actual Star Trek canon;

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This one seemingly reduced the majestic grandness of the galaxy to me by having way too many things included, not the least of which being all four quadrants.

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That's just crowded and busy as hell.  Also how does the Federation surround the Romulan Empire?  Ugh... no!

So then I thought about the one Star Trek map that always spoke to me.  The one that was the first map I had ever seen of the Star Trek universe.  The GASA Trek map!

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This is the map I like.  Simple, basic and clean to my eyes.  Yes I know there are snazzier and prettier maps out there, but I like this one.  It feels right to me.

So, without further ado, here is my Ultimate Star Trek map.

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Ultimate Star Trek: Sensor Dish vs. Navigational Deflector Dish

Hey there true believers.  I am back with another one of those "how Ultimate Star Trek is different from Canon Star Trek" posts.  The topic this time is the Sensor Dish vs. Navigational Deflector Dish.  This should be fun.

Like the Sound of Music, let's start at the beginning (a very good place to start).

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What is that dish/antenna on the front of the Enterprise?  Is it a communications dish?  Well according to the guy who designed the ship, Matt Jefferies, it was.  That said not one single reference to it in the original series ever addressed what it was so no one really knew outside of documentation from production.

Then this happened;

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For many decades the closest thing we had available to us was the Star Fleet Technical Manual by Franz Joseph.  This document, while not canon, is also the base for the Star Fleet Battles table-top miniatures game.  If you click on that image it also refers to that as the "main sensor".  Hmmmmm?  That almost makes sense.

But wait!  I know from watching TNG that it is referred to as the Navigational Deflector Dish!  They use it all the time to do amazing things!  It is what keeps the ship safe from space debris and meteorites!  Also it is the greatest writer's Deus ex machina!

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See that's how the almost beat the BORG!

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Or did ANYTHING on Voyager!

Now this drives me insane on so many levels.  First up though, let's look at the Navigational Deflector argument.

The concept of nav deflectors is that they repel the vast amount of space dust and debris that would rip right through the hull of a starship moving at the speeds we see in Star Trek.

To me this meant that there was a constant energized field around the ship that was deflecting this stuff.  Now if you think that dish is the navigational deflector, I need to ask a question;  What about the ships that don't have one?  Are they just lucky?  Made of thicker material?

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So naturally they have some sort of navigational deflectors that don't require a dish to function.  So why put a big dish on the other ships but not on these?  This has lead to many many fan designs that do this;

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There are others but I will spare you this.  To me that just looks bloody silly.  Really, I mean that just ... ugh!

Well you can argue why and why not as much as you like, but for Ultimate Star Trek it is because that dish is an Enhanced Sensor Dish.  Something that is added to many starships that might have to do more exploration or what have you.  While all ships have sensors, the ships with a sensor dish are just that much better and usually even have better labs and science facilities on board.

Also the sensor dish can be tied into the tactical systems allowing for them to be far more useful in combat, picket duty, border patrol, etc...

So sum up, that is a sensor dish, not a navigational deflector dish or a do-whatever-I-want-magic-god-dish.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Ultimate Star Trek: Ship Update!

Hello everyone.

So originally my plan for my eventual Ultimate Star Trek campaign was to put the players on the USS Enterprise NCC-2123 (I don't do the A, B, C, D, etc... thing), an Excelsior Class Refit;

Image by Merc-Raven

She is a beauty to say the least, she really is and I like her a lot.  Then something happened to me this week that blew my mind.  I can't remember what I was looking for, but in one of those Google adventures, I stumbled on this;

Exeter Class Cruiser from Star Trek Online
I was captivated!  I started searching for more of her!  I needed to see more and was not disappointed by the amount of images that have been made/posted about her.  Most came from Star Trek Online, but then I found this one;

Image by celticarchie
This is just a beautiful ship.  Yes I would change the engines, and if I find a good 3D artist who could do it for me, I would get rid of the "glowy" bits in favour of the more traditional Movie Era nacelles, but even if I don't this is still a beauty of a ship.

So this leads me to the idea of having to make a slight change to the Ultimate Star Trek timeline. Currently the USS Proxima is renamed Enterprise by Admiral Wesley, but since I like the original Excelsior Class names from FASA, I will need another name for this one...  Since FASA had originally called the Constitution Refit the Enterprise Class Cruiser so why not use that?

From the FASA Federation Ship Recognition Manual
What greater honour could there be for the Enterprise not only to ALWAYS be the flagship of the Federation but to also have a class named after her?

I like that not only not only because it is cool to me, it is also right in line with FASA Trek which is always the largest influence on Ultimate Star Trek.

Now that said I need to make some changes to the timeline AND the NCC listings, because I want her NCC to be 2323 (yes occult symmetry.  Don't judge my OCD!).  So I need to add a large number of ships into the timeline, which the 2 year Genesis War lets me add tons!  So seeing a massive gear up into the war and then a nice fall back but still at higher numbers as we head toward 2261, the Centennial of the Federation.  Here is the change to the NCC list;

USS Voyager NCC-2117; USS Proxima NCC-2123
 USS Farscape NCC-2281
USS Enterprise NCC-2323

Now to fix the timeline we need to adjust the text as so;

• Admiral Robert Wesley is chosen over Admiral Lawrence Styles as the new Commander Starfleet. Wesley’s “Address to the Fleet” (Broadcast on the Federation News Net) praises the ideals of Admiral Kirk and proclaims that “from this day forward there will always be a USS Enterprise and she will always be the Flagship of the Federation.” As per the Admiral's orders, the USS Exeter  NCC-2323, Class ship for the new Exeter Class Heavy Cruiser, is renamed Enterprise, thus making her the first Enterprise Class Heavy Cruiser.

Now I will leave you with some more nice pictures of this sexy beast of a ship!