So back in 1973, Game Designers Workshop published a science fiction wargame called Triplanetary. Designed by Marc Miller, it was a solid newtonian space combat game with a compact and functional set of rules, and you used an acetate sheet and grease pencils to track a ship’s vector.  It was reprinted again in 1981, but has been out of print since.

In 1989, Steve Jackson Games acquired the rights to Triplanetary with the intent of republishing this classic game. My understanding is that it reached a draft status, but never saw print at the time. That said, SJG did publish a much more focused vector space wargame called Star Fist. If you’ve ever played the classic coin-op arcade game Star Castle, well Star Fist was Star Castle, but with chits and grease pencils. If you can find a copy, I recommend it, as it’s a lot of fun.

Not too long ago, Steve Jackson Games did a Kickstarter for a new edition of Triplanetary, which was quite successful. And today my copy showed up on my doorstep. 🙂

Obviously, I have not had a chance to sit down and play this with anyone yet, but I did unbox and inspect the components. As a deluxe version of the game, it does quite well. The map of the solar system is a large, sturdy coated hex map. No need for the acetate sheets… and the grease pencils have been replaced with dry erase markers.

The box contains the map (in two folding sections), a sheet of die cut counters, the 16 page rulebook, a double sided sheet with advanced combat rules, an ad for the Ogre computer game (It’s fun, do it!), two dry erase markers, one six sided die, a tasty, tasty packet of “Dangerous DO NOT EAT” silicagel, and a piece of foam that I assume is meant to be used as an eraser for the dry erase markers.

Sadly, as you may be able to see in a couple of my photos, my box took a drop somewhere along the way and one corner of the box as well as the maps are mildly dinged. It’s not bad enough to officially complain… hell, this shit happens. But yeah, slightly annoying.

Music In Tabletop Games

Music is important to me. I listen to a lot of music. My tastes are broad, and at times, seemingly random. But for all of my love of music, unlike many gamers, I don’t much care for it during game. I find it too distracting, and depending on the GM’s choices, dissonant. Frequently GMs make very common choices. I can count on both hands the number of times a GM has cued up the Conan theme for the big fight, and about as many times that someone has used the Indiana Jones theme in a pulps game.

If you turn up the music loud enough for everyone to hear it, it’s going to be too loud and distracting. If you stop the game to make everyone listen to your song, you’re breaking immersion AND slowing the game down. And, if you pick the wrong music, it just pulls me out of the game. As an example, I was once in a Call of Cthulhu game where the GM decided that since it was a 20’s game, that Jazz would set the mood. Unfortunately, he went to the only jazz piece he knew… Dave Brubeck’s Take Five.

Now, that happens to be one of my favorite jazz pieces, however, it is very recognizable and  wasn’t released until 1959. Yeah, that doesn’t work…

Okay, so I don’t much like music at the game table. I have not yet experimented with, or been in a game, that used ambient sound and sound effects. That might work, though as a GM I suspect that needing to manage a soundboard during game would be a bit much. If you’ve seen it used to good effect, I want to hear about it.

All of this doesn’t mean I don’t make use of music connected to gaming. What I tend to use it for is inspiration while planning and prepping my games. I have a large playlist of what I consider appropriate music for the Starfinder game I wish to run. That playlist is heavy with SF movie soundtracks, John Carpenter and 80’s retro electronica, as wel as some ambient and post rock.

My current thinking is that after game, I will post a playlist of the music that I was mainlining before the session. And if I manage to turn some people on to some new music, even better.

I’ll probably come back to this subject again after I get my game running.

Starfinder Updates

Let’s see, I sent out a letter of intent to start running a Starfinder game in June. This will be a bit different than what I have done in the past. Other than the initial setup and resulting first adventure, I really want to sandbox this. Basically, I want to follow the players’ lead and give them the game they’re looking for.

That may prove harder than I anticipate, as there will be a lot of players. The game will be once a month when I can get the most players. Additionally, I want to allow for players dropping in and out. Thus far, the mix of character concepts seems to range from serious, to whimsical. Thus far I have nine interested players, and from them, five with character concepts.
I told them core races, core classes and core themes. Anything else I would need to pre-approve. I’m not averse to the legacy races except the Elves and Drow, but that’s another post to itself.

On top of that, one of my coworkers at Razer is going to run a weeknight Starfinder game after work… so it looks like I will also get to play. Currently, I am the very model of an Android Solarian.

Do people want to see occasional write ups of either game?