I think I’m going to start doing these updates at the end of every month just to let everyone know how things are going. I tend to spend a bit of time each day working on projects but that doesn’t always translate into material I can immediately post here on the blog. This is way to let you know of progress even if it isn’t visible.
This last month mostly got absorbed into the “Other Projects” category. I did manage to work a little bit on the Ghost Ship Osiris module but not as much as I had planned. I got some of the write-up of Outpost Osiris done but not very much. I hope to be finishing that up next week and will at least post the various room descriptions once it’s done.
So let’s recap November.
Starting a New Game
The obvious work was all the starship designs I created and posted here on the blog. Those are all going to be possible starting ships for a new play-by-post game I’ll be starting up at some point (hopefully soon). If you would be interested in playing in that game, you can find the forums where we’ll be playing it on the Star Frontiers Network site. The game is called Void Jumpers. If you want to play, create and account and post in the sign-up thread.
As I was working on those ships and getting the Void Jumpers game set up, I realized that for that game, and my on-line game “A New Can of Worms”, I needed a bit more background. Both games are set against the backdrop of the Second Sathar War and both start before the actual fighting begins. I realized that I needed (wanted really) a rough outline of the sathar plan, logistics, and timeline of events for the way I see the battles playing out. (For those familiar with the Zebulon’s Guide to Frontier Space supplement, I don’t use that timeline but do use some of the background information in it.) That led me down a few different paths.
Expanded Frontier Map
The first was to update and digitize my Expanded Frontier map which I’ve already posted. What isn’t showing on that map is all the jump routes the sathar have through the region and the location of some points of interest in the sathar controlled space on the map. It’s on my old hand-drawn version and I spent some time making sure all of that information is on layers on my digital version that I can turn on and off to create various version of that map. At some point in the future I’ll post the version of the map with all the juicy details. But that may be a while.
Beginning a Detailed Frontier Timeline
The next thing I started on was creating a timeline of major and minor events that would be happening throughout the Frontier as the games progressed. Things like sathar attacks, Frontier events, and even things that the PCs do that are newsworthy.
As part of this I’ve rolled some of the events of the printed modules into the timeline I’m developing. I’ll probably tweak that a bit in the future to roll all of the adventures into a campaign but for now I’m keeping them disjointed.
The outcome of this is that I thought it would be fun to post one event (and sometimes more) each day in an on-going timeline. I started doing that a couple of weeks ago on Twitter. If you follow @StarFrontiers on Twitter you’ll receive each day, in addition the the random starting character that I’ve been posting for a long while now, a news snippet from around the Frontier.
It’s currently near the end of Frontier Year 59. Some of the things posted will be events related to the backdrop of the campaign, some will be things the PCs do, and others will just be general fluff items if nothing major is happening that day. We’ll see how long that keeps up. It’s actually a bit of a challenge to come up with a new item every single day. My plan is to post regular summaries of those items here if you don’t follow along on Twitter. I’ll probably post those once a month.
Sathar Starship Construction
Finally, as I started to work on the timeline, I realized that to get the timing of the Sathar attacks on the Frontier, I needed to have a good handle on their starship production and the travel times between the various locations. I had the travel times (or could figure them out) from the Expanded Frontier map, but I needed a realistic production schedule and starship construction capacity for the Sathar.
I actually knew where their starship construction centers were from my old hand-drawn Expanded Frontier map. What I needed was capacities and production schedules. I had an initial idea for that and started working out a production schedule. Somewhere along the way I messed up my arithmetic and something wasn’t working. So I tried it again, using a spreadsheet and got it working but the ship mix wasn’t what I liked. At this point I realized that I was going to be trying several different combinations to tweak the ship distribution and doing it by hand each time would be a bit tedious. So my “lazy” programmer persona kicked in – if you have to do it more than once, write a program!
Luckily, I already had most of what I needed written as I had written a program (back in 2013) to simulate starship construction in the various starship construction centers (SCCs) in the Frontier. I used this for an article I wrote in 2014 for the Frontier Explorer (issue 10) where I explored how many ships the SCCs could actually support. I was able to reuse some of that code to create the sathar SCCs and run the simulation. Now instead of a few hours, I could work out the results in a few minutes. I was able to tweak the capacities and production schedules for the beginning of the timeline to match what I wanted. I’ll use it going forward to keep track of what is going on as more capacity is added or the PCs discover and eliminate production capacity (e.g. the Beyond the Frontier modules). Right now it just gives me totals but I can then track what ships are where separately. Or maybe I’ll add some code to do that as well.
In any case, if you’re interested in seeing the code, it is written in Python and I’ve put it up in a public GitHub repository where you can examine or download it if you want. Also included is the code for the simulation that I ran for that Frontier Explorer article. There’s not really any documentation besides the code itself so if you’re poking around and have questions, feel free to contact me.
As an aside, if you poke around there in GitHub a bit, you’ll also find the code for my Second Sathar War (SSW) game that implements both the Knight Hawks tactical board game and the Second Sathar War strategic game. It’s not quite complete (e.g. no repair turns, and no seeker missiles yet) but it works and compile on both Windows and Linux. If you just want to play with the game and don’t care about the code, you can find a download package, with some user documentation on the Star Frontiers Network site. That’s another project I will probably be coming back to at some point.
So that’s what kept me busy last month. What’s coming up in December?
I’ve already mentioned the timeline summary. I also plan on spending more time on Ghost Ship Osiris this month. In fact, I’ll be starting on that again on the 1st. Once I get the description of all the rooms written (you’ve already seen the maps) I’ll post those up. My plan is get the section of the adventure that takes place in the Outpost done by the end of the year. The complete version of that will be going out to my Patreon supporters once it is ready.
You can also expect to see a write-up of an adventure location. I just finished the maps yesterday and plan on using it in my on-line game tonight unless my players decide to take a left turn. As soon as they see it, I’ll be posting those maps on-line along with a description of the various rooms in the location. Look for that mid-month.
That’s what I know about for sure. There will probably be other things that pop up to grab my interest as well but I’m hoping to stay more focused this month. That’s your peak behind the scenes and a bit of a gaze ahead as to what to expect. If you have questions or comments, feel free to let me know below.