Unrealized book

Stormcrow's picture
Stormcrow
December 28, 2016 - 8:19am
"A separate book on frontier worlds, star system and planet creation, and adventures is also being planned." --Steve Winter, Polyhedron #9, p. 5

Alas! that this book never came to be.
Comments:

jedion357's picture
jedion357
December 28, 2016 - 12:21pm
I suspect material from it did appear in Dragon- the article on governments and maybe one other
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

ExileInParadise's picture
ExileInParadise
December 28, 2016 - 2:37pm
I am sure Steve Winter re-used a ton of it later in Alternity for Star*Drive at least.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
December 28, 2016 - 10:34pm
That must be lurking with the UPFS Penni Petticord deck plans.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Stormcrow's picture
Stormcrow
December 29, 2016 - 10:36am
I wonder if Zeb's Ares article "Home Sweet Home" was part of the content of this book.

JCab747's picture
JCab747
December 31, 2016 - 12:11am
Now this would have been the very needed source book that Star Frontiers needed rather than the Zebs thing that came out.
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
jedion357
December 31, 2016 - 4:40am
JCab747 wrote:
Now this would have been the very needed source book that Star Frontiers needed rather than the Zebs thing that came out.


the reason zebs had come out was once the Blooms and Gygax were out of TSR the new CEO of TSR, whose family held the IP on Buck Rogers decreed that TSR was going to do the Buck Rogers RPG and since it would be stupid to have two competing sci fi rpg's Star Frontiers was killed. individuals who had been working on the new editin of star frontiers grabbed everything they had and dumped it into zebs and pushed it out the door before the fix was official.

Meanwhile back at the Hall of Injustice, this CEO negotiated a deal with herself that TSR would pay for every Buck Rogers item printed. Note that's printed not sold. If TSR printed it she got paid. Interesting fun fact: TSR printed a shuttle loads of BR product that sat on warehouse shelves and never sold.

The only thing that kept TSR from going out of business before it did was the fabulously popular fiction division churning out tons of novels.Ultimately she bled the company dry. The only thing that saved D&D was that WotC had been fabulously successful with their flagship product and was looking to expand. Rumor has it that they got stuck with debt on the deal to buy TSR that was a hit for them but they arent talking so I dont know for sure about that.

EDIT: This may have been the first thread in 2016 where Lorraine Williams was bashed. How ironic that its the very last day of the year.

So Zebs was rushed to print. its not a finished product. Your're even luck to have it in all its glory. We know that it was intended to be a Sci fi / Gama world fusion. The Osakar was a character from the designer's home Gama World game. If Gygax had retained control of TSR no doubt there would be the AD/KHs pruist and the Zebs camps as Zebs would have been 3 volumes and a polished finished fully realized 2nd edition.
some people would have played it and would be nostolgic for it and no doubt there still would be people bashing zebs but there would be staunch defenders. Maybe even a separate website Zebulonsguide.us

As is Zebs is the red headed step child of Star Frontiers.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
January 1, 2017 - 11:25am
Quote:
This may have been the first thread in 2016 where Lorraine Williams was bashed. 

While I may be the most outspoken against Zeb's Guide here, I do know where that angst needs to be directed and as such I do make a concious effort to throw out a Whore-aine reference at least once per year.

Yep, I just checked...here it is from May:


Shadow Shack wrote:
If I remember the history correctly --- Whore-aine Williams unleashed Zeb's sans play testing knowing it would be an utter faiure in order to better promote TSR's newly acquired (by her) Buck Rogers property as their premiere sci-fi game.

That being the case, without Zeb's SF would still be around. Well, perhaps without Zeb's and the manatee SF would still be around. But you get my drift...

This, in no way, construes as my offering for the current year. Rest assured I will throw another out soon enough.Cool
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
January 1, 2017 - 12:48pm
Shadow Shack wrote:
Quote:
This may have been the first thread in 2016 where Lorraine Williams was bashed. 

While I may be the most outspoken against Zeb's Guide here, I do know where that angst needs to be directed and as such I do make a concious effort to throw out a Whore-aine reference at least once per year.

Yep, I just checked...here it is from May:


Shadow Shack wrote:
If I remember the history correctly --- Whore-aine Williams unleashed Zeb's sans play testing knowing it would be an utter faiure in order to better promote TSR's newly acquired (by her) Buck Rogers property as their premiere sci-fi game.

That being the case, without Zeb's SF would still be around. Well, perhaps without Zeb's and the manatee SF would still be around. But you get my drift...

This, in no way, construes as my offering for the current year. Rest assured I will throw another out soon enough.Cool


I stand corrected.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
January 1, 2017 - 12:57pm
By all means, feel free to continue the bash. She earned it. After all who here doesn't think a periodic Lorraine bash is in order?

Methinks the 40th anniversary SF patch should be a UPF assault scout and Sathar frigate teamed up against the aforementiuoned Bad Year Blimp.








(and there it is, my first Whore-aine bash for the year)
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

JCab747's picture
JCab747
January 1, 2017 - 11:40pm
Although I still played Gamma World a bit and AD&D in the time after Whore-aine's coup at TSR, I thought both games suffered with some of the later editions. I never tried Buck Rogers or other TSR products afterward as I migrated over to FASA and GDW games.

Although some of my friends played Marvel Super Heroes -- with its combat system that Zebs was supposed to be copied from -- that wasn't my cup of tea. I never liked the column shifts, the color codes, etc. About the only things I did like was (partly) the expansion of skills available, some of the equipment and vehicles, and some of the expanded history. Though you'll note with my comments on other posts, with each one of those "likes" I've had a number of reservations.

For example, breaking all of the robotics, technician, computer and medical sub-skills into individual skills did not make sense, etc., etc.

So, while I may not have Shadow's complete distain for Zebs, overall I've had a negative opinion of it.

For whatever reason, I've enjoyed rediscovering Star Frontiers and what this site, its commentators and the fan magazines (Frontier Explorer and Star Frontiersman) have had to offer.
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
jedion357
January 2, 2017 - 6:02am
I agree that breaking all the subskills into individual skills was a pain in the butt and but on the other hand I dould see that there was the possibility for a character that was not a roboticist but could Identify Robots- a law enforcement officer lets say new all the makes and models of popularly sold robots so that he could assess the threat potential of a situation. Or a combat medic who didn't know all the medical subskills but could just apply first aid and patch up a wounded comrade.

However the Zebs skill system was not the answer. I've had the experience of leading a room full of people in PC generation using SF2000 rules and realized in the process that SF2000 and Zebs were not the way to go.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Stormcrow's picture
Stormcrow
January 2, 2017 - 9:57am
jedion357 wrote:
I dould see that there was the possibility for a character that was not a roboticist but could Identify Robots- a law enforcement officer lets say new all the makes and models of popularly sold robots so that he could assess the threat potential of a situation. Or a combat medic who didn't know all the medical subskills but could just apply first aid and patch up a wounded comrade.

For NPCs the solution is simple: referee fiat. Take, for example, professor of Geology at Capital University, Geeko-sur-Mang, from the Player Character Background Report in "Crash on Volturnus." This "recognized authority in geophysics" and "specialist in planetary crust formation" has a level 4 Computer skill, and that's it. Likewise Itklikdil, a cartographer, has level 6 Environmental skill.

Star Frontiers skills don't represent every trained ability; they only represent those things commonly done by adventurers on adventures. And if everything else can be done by referee fiat, then so can "partial skills," like knowing first aid without having Medical skill listed in your character writeup.

Player characters can benefit from this sort of thing too. New characters start out knowing basically nothing but their two starting skills. But suppose a player really wanted his character to become a physicist. Okay, fine. He spends some time and money going to college to learn physics. Once he's got his degree, he'll be able to answer physics questions the same as performing any other action: he'll roll against his Logic, with a modifier assigned by the referee. The more training he's had, the better his modifier. But the game assumes—correctly—that player characters aren't generally going to want to learn physics or biology or cartography. And a player who demands to have First Aid without Medical skill is probably just trying to game the system.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
January 2, 2017 - 12:45pm
jedion357 wrote:
on the other hand I dould see that there was the possibility for a character that was not a roboticist but could Identify Robots- a law enforcement officer lets say new all the makes and models of popularly sold robots so that he could assess the threat potential of a situation. Or a combat medic who didn't know all the medical subskills but could just apply first aid and patch up a wounded comrade.


My skills revision was done on that very premise, and as much as I hate to admit it, that was loosely inspired by the Zeb's skills break down. However the main reason I did it was just that: to flesh out a particular skill set where two technicians had vastly different areas of specialty, one might be a pro at security systems while the other excels at repairs. The lower XP expenditures also permitted a rapid advancement in those areas of specialty, but if you wanted to be "lv-3 everything" or "lv-6 everything" (with "everything" meaning the canon sub-skills only, not the additional ones I created) it came out to be about the same expenditure as canon.


As such the KH skills were also rewritten, with much more streamlined/easier PR skills:


While I have contemplated on numerous occassions to reduce the XP expenditures in those KH levels, I ended up leaving it the same considering how ships are somewhat uncommon in the Frontier and as such so too should their experts in operation. I also debate whether I need to break down the sub-skills from each KH listing as well...where some pilots may be better at evasion than improved combat accuracy etc.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

JCab747's picture
JCab747
January 2, 2017 - 5:08pm
Shadow Shack wrote:
...

My skills revision was done on that very premise, and as much as I hate to admit it, that was loosely inspired by the Zeb's skills break down. ...

Image result for Col Kurtz the Horror
Joe Cabadas

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
January 2, 2017 - 5:28pm
...very loosely inspired.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
January 2, 2017 - 6:12pm
tackling StormCrow's referee fiat system of skill- it kind of breaks down with player characters- a player wants his character to have a Geology background should it be at the equiv of a Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate, or The Recognized Authority in the Frontier Sector. I can see those different levels being important and yet we get into levels and a Zebs Mish-mash with AD rules.

I like the basic idea of this NPC is an authority in X and he simply tests against his LOG but then the standard NPC stat block doesn't include the LOG score.

I liked Skilled Frontier article from the SFman as it struck a nice balance between AD and Zebs I just questioned how cheap the exp costs were in that system.

and I feel that a PC should be able to learn one appropriate sub skill and not the whole skill like Identify robots or First Aid.

And quite the contrary I dont think a PC learning First Aid is gaming the system as clearly real world combat medics dont learn all the whole medical skill but rather basic stuff they are not curing diseases or performing major surgery.

Maybe the strap on 1 subskill could be for 1/2 the exp to learn the skill the character has that one subskill at level 1 and cannot increase it. Instead he must expend the other 1/2 of the exp and simply learn the skill.

I also have problems with the robotics skill- anyone who is technically literate enough to turn a wrench or screwdriver on a car would be able to do similar on a robot. He's not going to be reprograming it simply repairing damage or swapping out broken pieces. To me the ability to repair machinery should apply to robots. Robotics skill is really about programing. That said if its just programs then why cant a computer specialist handle it?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

ExileInParadise's picture
ExileInParadise
January 2, 2017 - 6:57pm
@jedion357 your comments about technicians and computer programmers should have some overlap ability with robots is sort of in line with something I've been thinking.

In Star Frontiers - technical hardware, robotics, and computers are 3 separate technologies.
Technical skills specifically mention working on vehicles as a purpose.

However we've seen here on earth where vehicles now come with computers, and you need some computer skills just to work on them.

The same idea has occurred to me regarding robots.
Here and now we've seen that most robotics now come under computer control.

However, the Star Frontiers rules regarding robotics treats their "mission, functions, programs" system differently from computers which are just large chunks of hardware with programs... including robotic links and controller software.

Now toss in the whole "can cybots astrogate" discussion and it gets even more muddled which also leads back here to skills.

I don't have anything concrete, but I've been thinking of how the robotics system could blend better with the skills (with skills as programs for example), and computers (where robots use the SF computers as their brains).

My initial thought is for robots to use level 1-3 computers with technical bodies. A roboticist is part computer specialist and part technical specialist. Robots are just mobile computers with smaller cores but bodies to move around. The level 1 computer could be used as the brain of a level 1 or 2 robot. The level 2 computer could drive a level 3 or 4 robot. A level 3 computer could drive a level 5 or 6 robot/cybot. The reason I chose this scale is so that the max size of a computer that could still fit into a Yaziarian-sized cybot in Bugs in the System.

This limits a robot's function points to some degree, but a larger non-human sized robot could conceivably use a level 4 computer. The level 5 and 6 computers are massive installations which I am handwaving includes the racks, storage, power, interconnects, and other gear seen in a data center.

All skills could also be software - so you have medical bot-1, medical bot-2, etc and that there's some sort of table of XP to computer function points that lets you "fill up" the robots with additional skills using the computer function points as a limiter for mobile-sized robot computer brains.

Vehicle computer systems could work similarly.

This is just thinking out loud on how skill-software, computers, and robots with computers-as-brains systems and some outlines of how I think they could start to be unified into a single mechanics system.

In the end, a computer tech might have a chance to do some robotics abilities at least on the software side, and a technical have some chance to do robotics work on the hardware size.
And, a roboticist might have a chance to do some technical bit on vehicles, etc, or do some light computer work.

Stormcrow's picture
Stormcrow
January 3, 2017 - 7:53am
jedion357 wrote:
tackling StormCrow's referee fiat system of skill

Now, now. It's not a "system," it's "improvise something that's good enough."

Quote:
I like the basic idea of this NPC is an authority in X and he simply tests against his LOG but then the standard NPC stat block doesn't include the LOG score.

Alpha Dawn Expanded Rules, p. 59. Make them up on the spot, give important NPCs full scores, or use the average scores on the given table when you need to fill in an unknown score.

There's no such thing as a "standard NPC stat block." You write up whatever stats you need. If you need Logic, you write up Logic. If you just need combat stats, you write up combat stats.

As for breaking down the skills, I like SF because it DOESN'T break them down. If you have Robotics skill, you're a Roboticist, not just some clown with a bit of knowledge of robots. SF skills are like classes in D&D.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
January 3, 2017 - 2:02pm
Just watching PBS docs on robotics in the real world leaves me convinced that there are two aspects to robotics programing and mechanical. Anyone with mechanical experience is going to look at broken mechanics on a robot and be able to fix it.

 I once had to swap motors from one car to another and a nuclear engineer who worked on a navy destroyer gave me a hand. He wasn't a mechanic but I would have been up a creek without him. 

 SF made robotics a "class" based on current understanding of the 80's and current sci-fi treatment till that time. I'm simply saying robotics should evolve for the game. 

 Sure a PC can be a classic roboticist doing mechanics and programing. But a classic computer spec should be able to attempt reprogramming at say a -10. Now at each new level of computer skill he can learn to write a new computer program; instead he takes robotics programing and can perform all robotics programing subskill at level. A technician can perform repair machinery on a robot. 

Only a classic roboticist will be able to modify a robot and swap out a hand for a laser as there is likely to be not just mechanical issues but some program issues to this action. Since roboticist deal with programing some of the computer subskill should be open to them like display information.

Conversely, a classic roboticist will be able to effect repairs on a ground car. Maybe he's not as good as a classic technician (-10 penalty).
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
jedion357
January 3, 2017 - 2:53pm
On second thought, my house rule would be this: technicians and roboticist can work on the others mechanical equipment at a -5 penalty. 

Roboticist and computer specs can attempt programing subskill of the other at -10. And if at level increase if a roboticist opts to learn computer programing instead of learning a new robotics program or a computer spec who opts to not learn a new computer program can learn programing in the others discipline and there is no penalty for doing programing subskills of the other with no penalty.


I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

ExileInParadise's picture
ExileInParadise
January 3, 2017 - 7:33pm
@jedion357 Even in Silent Running, Lowell gets out the programmer and burns some new PROMs for Huey, Dewey, and Louie. But the scene shows him grinding in some assembler and then soldering the proms onto a card to slot it into the robots.

So, yeah makes perfect sense to me to have some cross-skills overlap depending on tasks. I think some RPGs call those skill synergies or some such?

JCab747's picture
JCab747
January 3, 2017 - 11:37pm
jedion357 wrote:
Just watching PBS docs on robotics in the real world leaves me convinced that there are two aspects to robotics programing and mechanical. Anyone with mechanical experience is going to look at broken mechanics on a robot and be able to fix it.

 I once had to swap motors from one car to another and a nuclear engineer who worked on a navy destroyer gave me a hand. He wasn't a mechanic but I would have been up a creek without him. 

 SF made robotics a "class" based on current understanding of the 80's and current sci-fi treatment till that time. I'm simply saying robotics should evolve for the game. 

 Sure a PC can be a classic roboticist doing mechanics and programing. But a classic computer spec should be able to attempt reprogramming at say a -10. Now at each new level of computer skill he can learn to write a new computer program; instead he takes robotics programing and can perform all robotics programing subskill at level. A technician can perform repair machinery on a robot. 

Only a classic roboticist will be able to modify a robot and swap out a hand for a laser as there is likely to be not just mechanical issues but some program issues to this action. Since roboticist deal with programing some of the computer subskill should be open to them like display information.

Conversely, a classic roboticist will be able to effect repairs on a ground car. Maybe he's not as good as a classic technician (-10 penalty).


Hi Jedion,

Yes, I used some of your earlier critiques on this very subject for my Robots Rules of Order Revised story in Frontier Explorer magazine. I don't have it right in front of me at the moment, but I think it was either the -10 percent modifier or -20 percent for a technician to work on a robot.

Dear Exile:

You could check out my fan stuff here: http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/9114

Also, in the projects is Omnibus Roboticus: http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/4087

Joe Cabadas

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
January 4, 2017 - 5:13am
While we're engaging in some obligatory bashing, one thing I really REALLY hated about Zebs was how a starting character had no way of being a true doctor with a full suite of skills.  At best they could be a Corpsman/EMT level patch-upper.

The other was endemic to AD/KH, and that was how technicians were the only ones who could operate vehicles.  If you didn't have a Tech, you were hoofing it.

And of course the obligatory mention of the KH classes as only available as "prestige" skills (as they are known today).

jedion357's picture
jedion357
January 4, 2017 - 8:52am
ChrisDonovan wrote:
While we're engaging in some obligatory bashing, one thing I really REALLY hated about Zebs was how a starting character had no way of being a true doctor with a full suite of skills.  At best they could be a Corpsman/EMT level patch-upper.

The other was endemic to AD/KH, and that was how technicians were the only ones who could operate vehicles.  If you didn't have a Tech, you were hoofing it.

And of course the obligatory mention of the KH classes as only available as "prestige" skills (as they are known today).


I think we all hated the to be a pilot and fly the jet copter you have to be a technician. Not all pilots are mechanics.

Zebs is just to fiddly in the skills section.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Stormcrow's picture
Stormcrow
January 4, 2017 - 10:05am
I am of two minds regarding technicians and vehicles.

On the one hand, there is some logic to the opinion espoused in the "Dispel Confusion" column in Polyhedron #18:

SFQ: May any character drive a vehicle?
SFA: No. According to the rules, only a technician with the "Operating Machinery" skill may drive a vehicle. Remember that in a futuristic society transportation will probably be so sophisticated that people who can drive will be the exception instead of the rule. On a civilized planet there is no need to drive—you simply climb into a public transportation system and go where you please. Therefore, only technicians who work with those machines need to know how to drive vehicles. So if you plan to adventure on a planet without much technology, be sure to take along a driver!

On the other hand, it seems a bit odd that the book would spend so much time on rules for all sorts of vehicles if the player characters weren't meant to USE them. Restricting them to technicians seems very strange.

Furthermore, reading the Operating Machinery subskill strictly means that a level 1 technician has only a 60% chance TO START A CAR. There's no way Frontier technology is that arcane.

But there's no way around the fact that the subskill lists various levels of technician required to fly things like jetcopters and aircars. If operating these things were simply based on an ability, there would be no such restriction, only a penalty for a more difficult vehicle. The game makes no effort at all to go down such a path.

I dunno. Maybe it's just a strong incentive for lots of characters to become technicians. But then there's still this problem: "A technician gets one chance to operate an unfamiliar vehicle." If you sit at the controls of a skimmer and fail your roll, YOU CAN NEVER DRIVE A SKIMMER.

If there's one area of the rules that really needs fixing, or at least clarification, it's this. Even Polyhedron made suggestions along these lines:

Referees who feel this rule is too restrictive are free to modify it for their individual campaigns. For example, you might make a "house rule" that anyone can drive a ground car, but a technician is needed for any other vehicle.

ExileInParadise's picture
ExileInParadise
January 4, 2017 - 7:37pm
60% chance to start a car? I had a Chevy like that once. This is why I drive a Jeep now.

Maybe it's only 60% when trying to start the Pan-Galactic Econo-Skimmer - sometimes you break the pull start rope?

Regarding the Dispel Confusion bits, that's actually pretty close to the mark for what is happening now. Self-driving cars exist. Early tests with "robot-drivers only" roads are starting up in Washington state (which I disagree with since drivers were taxed to build that road first. Let robots build their own roads if they want robot drivers only. But, I digress.)

A society where no one can drive unless specially licensed, and trained doesn't seem that far off given the number of Millenials today who are not really interested in getting a driver license or paying to maintain a vehicle.

iggy's picture
iggy
January 4, 2017 - 10:42pm
Yet other sci fi is quick to make vehicles so user friendly and automated that even a child can drive anything from a car to a plane.  This is a setting thing that the referee must decide for his campaign.   
-iggy

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
January 4, 2017 - 10:44pm
jedion357 wrote:


I think we all hated the to be a pilot and fly the jet copter you have to be a technician. Not all pilots are mechanics. 

Yet another reason I went with separate sub-skills. Note with my system the tech only needs to master vehicle & machinery operation, being able to detect/disable security systems or repairing items isn't a PR for piloting.

Also note I made the vehicle operation skill available for non-techs as well.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
January 4, 2017 - 10:46pm
iggy wrote:
Yet other sci fi is quick to make vehicles so user friendly and automated that even a child can drive anything from a car to a plane.  This is a setting thing that the referee must decide for his campaign.   

Shoot, we already have that today. All of these new fangled safety features like crash avoidance etc makes it so much safer for the driver to text with his/her phone. 

Innocent Innocent Innocent 
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

parriah's picture
parriah
January 11, 2017 - 9:59am
Hey guys, long time.
FIAWOL TANSTAAFL!!