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Stars of Empire: Players' Handbook
by David T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/18/2019 15:49:53

I love the period and I like detailed, well thought out games. “Stars of Empire” has all of that. In particular I like the deeply immersive background. I like that the cultures of Venus and Mars are vibrant and not portrayed as primitive pushovers ripe for colonization. The games mechanics a very detailed, almost dauntingly so, but the numerous examples eased me into them. I worked through the examples and after a few readings everything made sense. I liked that it was repeatedly emphasized that most of the time you can ignore details that don’t advance the plot. If I need more detail it’s there If I don’t need it, I move on. When I first started playing rpg’s D & D only had three small paperback books. We were constantly flipping through them and looking for things. I love the fact that this is a well-organized and searchable pdf. I can find what I’m looking for quickly and easily. All in all this is a good solid set of rules.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stars of Empire: Players' Handbook
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Creator Reply:
Thank you. I hope you enjoy the Referee's book as well!
Stars of Empire: Players' Handbook
by Murray R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/27/2019 00:29:41

I had followed (and contributed!) to the Kickstarter for this product and was really excited about it. Annoyingly, this product was over two years late. Worse, when it arrived it was clearly rushed and poorly thought out. I had hoped that the author would have spent that extra time making the product better. Clearly this was not the case.

The main problem is the rules:

  • BAD: They are way too dern complex. In an age where most game systems can be summarized in a page, Stars of Empire is a throwback to the era when you had to read the rules book four times to have any idea what was going on.  e.g. 'Commonly used tables' runs to about 12 pages in compressed, nearly unreadable font. [Even then it misses useful things like a nice summary of the 20 different modifiers for rolling to hit...)

– WORSE: It takes 60 pages to describe basic combat – even the injury effects tables are several pages. I think there are about four+ different combat systems in the book – armed melee, grappling, unarmed melee, missile combat, special armed v. unarmed combat, and maybe some others.

– WORST: Results are nonsensical. For example, if you shoot an average unarmored person (toughness 20) with a pistol (DMG12), the best you could reasonably hope for is to stun them. You would have a 1 in 400 chance of doing 'moderate' damage (stunned for 6 seconds). To actually kill someone with a pistol would require rolling 3 natural 20s in a row (one in 8,000) - and even then the target gets some saving throws.

– Things get even more strange when you look at combat with animals. A horse can have a toughness of 60, making it essentially immune to anything less than a 50-cal rifle (that might inflict a 'trivial' wound). An Elephant (toughness 220) can reliably withstand a hit from a quick firing 6 pounder. It is clear the author never play tested this.

– This book really loves categories and terms - actions, tasks, extended actions, and about 4-6 types of turns

– A simple act like 'shoot target with machine gun' requires about half a dozen modifiers and 2-3 rolls (each of which requires more modifiers and rolls). If you do hit, there are another set of modifiers, then at least another roll, then you have to consult at least two tables to find the damage effect, which often requires another set of modifiers and rolls.

– Examples are poor – e.g. when computing the DMG for a rifle the book manages to botch the example and also demonstrate a sub-high-school-level of understanding about what the words 'kinetic energy' mean. Or (page 228) "combat breaks down into FOUR steps..." (then immediately lists 6 steps).

– The challenge levels are bizarre – apparently you have about a 5% chance of failing to climb a stable, dry ladder

There are some other complaints, but the rules are the big one:

– Lengthy price lists for goods appear to have been randomly generated. The book would be well served by getting a period Sears catalog

– It is poorly organized – swings between describing the background of the setting and introducing rule mechanics and back again at least four times. Instead of explaining the setting first and then referring to it, it keeps referencing people that aren't explained until the back of the book. This makes the already convoluted and wordy writing even more difficult to follow.

– There is very little new art. I think the author just googled 'Victorian Painting' and grabbed the first 50 images. The maps are inconsistent and odd. E.g. (page 304) where rivers seem to flow up hill or maps without scale or label (p302 - what is that, the moon? p310 - venus?) or nonsensical (page 162) - an 'advanced submarine armor' appears to be a man standing next to a horse?

– When the art isn't just boring, it is a little insulting, like when he repurposes the Ohio State House Soldiers (a monument to actual people who served their country) or paintings of the Rough Riders as an monument to his fictional space bug attack

– The vehicles are original and cool, though those are just copied from the author's other book

– Like a lot of steampunk people he has a weird Victorian fetishism "to the victorians, anything worth making was worth making beautiful." – have you seen a victorian slum? A wheelbarrow? They were just people. Some stuff they made nice, other things they just made to get by.

– Randomly uses terms which have not been introduced (e.g. Strategic turn)

– random words seem to be capitalized or in all-caps.

Some positives:

  • There are some hints that the setting might be interesting, but the author only devotes 2-3% of the book to explaining it, so most of it is a mystery.

  • The layout is very pretty.


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
I am sorry that you are disappointed. I admit that I missplaced the image on page 162. I will get that fixed as soon as possible
I'd like to thank Murray R. both for supporting the Kickstarter and for taking the time to review the Player’s book. It is absolutely the truth that we ran far behind schedule. There were far more typos than I would like, but it became a race between getting it out and making it perfect. No one is more distraught that the books are late than I am. We currently have the third and last book in final edits and layout. To improve our proofreading, I have invested in Grammarly. I will also extend an invitation to Murray R to see the Referee’s book and participate in the final editing. I will happily give him an editing credit. I can’t determine which of my supporters he was as there is no one with that screen name in my supporters list. If he didn’t support to a level that gets a Referee’s book, I will give him a free PDF. The reviewer made several comments and I will highlight some of his concerns that I will directly address. I have edited his review to concentrate on issues that I feel are most important. His comments are in quotations. I am also going to put the discussion of combat at the end it will need a more detailed discussion. "I had followed (and contribute!) to the Kickstarter for this product and was really excited about it. Annoyingly, this product was over two years late. Worse, when it arrived it was clearly rushed and poorly thought out. I had hoped that the author would have spent that extra time making the product better. Clearly this was not the case." We did fall far behind. I have no excuses for that. I will say that we promised -The new edition will be two core books totaling 350 pages-. The Player’s book alone totals 366 pages. The referee’s book, which is in final edits is similar in length. "The main problem is the rules: BAD: They are way too dern complex. In an age where most game systems can be summarized in a page, Stars of Empire is a throwback to the era when you had to read the rules book four times to have any idea what was going on" Our rules are summarized into two full pages There are four core concepts to the mechanics of Stars of Empire. The first is the Opposed Roll, the second is Challenge Levels, the third is “How Much roll", and the fourth is RANT. All resolution of events within the game are determined by the rolling of twenty-sided die. Since the only dice used in this game are twenty-sided ones we will refer to dice as a “D”. In some cases, a Player and Referee each controlling a different character will roll against those Characters’ Skills or other abilities. This is an Opposed Roll. Example: A Player Character is attempting to determine if one of the Referee’s Non-Player Characters is lying to her. She rolls a D and adds her Detect Lie Skill. The Referee rolls for their character, in this case adding their NPC’s Lie Skill. The character with the highest total number wins. If the Player wins, their character realizes they are being bamboozled. If the Referee wins, their Non-Player Character will flim-flam the Player’s character. In a second set of circumstances, a Player controlling a Character will roll against the other aspects of the game universe; forces of nature, the difficulty of a scientific problem or other things. In these situations, the Referee will roll for the forces of nature. To make running the game a bit less complex for the Referee, we use Challenge Levels. Rather than the Referee having to determine the precise number to add to his or her die roll in opposition to those of the Players, there are eight Challenge Levels (See Table 1 Basic Challenge levels .), each with a predetermined modifier to the die roll. EXAMPLE: A Character is going to attempt to climb a cliff. The Referee determines that the Challenge Level is Demanding and will add 20 to their roll, while the Player rolls; adding their D to their Skill level. If the character has a climb Skill of 10 and the Player rolls a 12 they have a total of 22. The Referee adds a D to the 20 for the Challenge Level. In this case, if the Referee rolls 2 or less the Player succeeds (ties go the Player Character). Any roll by the Referee of 3 or more means the character failed. Many skills have a table or tables that show various Challenge Levels depending upon the circumstances involved. These tables are examples and should not be thought to be all encompassing. The wide range of situations which Characters can encounter means that the Referee will often need to determine a Challenge Level for a unique event. The tables that are included were chosen to deal with common situations and to provide examples. In other cases, the Player and Referee will again roll against each other and the resulting number, through a process of simple mathematics, is used to determine the results: this is called a How Much roll. In a How Much roll, a Player that beats the Referee’s roll may still fail, as the number generated may still not be large enough to meet the needs of the situation. The Referee’s book contains a number of specific situations for How Much rolls and they will give the Players the information as required. Example: A character attempts to move a rock weighing 230 pounds. The controlling Players rolls their strength plus D. The Referee rolls a D and subtracts that from the Player’s total. The resulting number, either Over-roll or Under-roll is multiplied by three pounds and added to or subtracted from a base amount of one hundred and fifty pounds. If the Player Character has a strength of 20 and rolls a D of 15 and the Referee rolls an 8 the final difference would be 27. The character has lifted a total of 231 pounds. The 230-pound rock is lifted! Note that if the rock had weighed 250-pounds it would have stayed put. RANT-Reroll All Natural Twenties! Every time you roll your Twenty-sided Die you have a 5% chance of getting to reroll and add the bonus roll. This includes the rerolls, so you keep rerolling until you do not get a Natural (i.e. unmodified) Twenty. Just to be clear though, this works both ways. Your opponent has the same chance of this happening! "– This book really loves categories and terms - actions, tasks, extended actions, and about 4-6 types of turns" There are a number of very simple games in the market place. There are others such that are not simple. I will cite GURPS, but there are many others as well. The reviewer does not like complex rules. I understand that and make a very specific concession to such gamers: Page 328 Designer’s Notes Although there are a lot of tables in this book the basic mechanics of the Opposed Rolls are always the same: You want to beat your opponent in the roll by as much as is possible. The greater the difference the greater the effects. High numbers of Attributes and Skills are always better. The D20 is the only die you need. All the specific charts have been included to give Player’s and Referee’s guidance, but a good gaming group probably doesn’t need them. The dice basically will speak for themselves. A Success +1 result means the barest margin and the Character has snuck through by the skin of their teeth. An S+57 and shouts of glee will erupt, and the event will be long remembered. Conversely, being the recipient of an F-47 will mean disaster to a Character and their Player. The tables flesh out the numbers, but a Referee is free to use their imagination to write those paragraphs in the story. "– The challenge levels are bizarre – apparently you have about a 5% chance of failing to climb a stable, dry ladder" On page 4 it states why these low-level Challenge levels exist and what they are used for. They exist for specific reasons. _Die rolls are not required every time a character does something. In many situations the task is so simple a roll is not required, or the results of a failure would not provide any interesting story points. The Referee will decide when a roll is needed. Tests against the two lowest Challenge Levels will be rare events, only made by characters that have very low scores against those tasks or are suffering from many negative Die Modifiers. If a character is injured or fatigued things that are normally effortless can be quite uncertain and will require a roll that they otherwise would not. Example: A Character in good health, with no injuries or other negative modifiers is seeking water in an area with springs and streams. The Referee decides their Player does not need to roll. However, the same Player, if running a badly injured Character that is also suffering from Fatigue with a Die Modifier of -20 or even worse could very well be asked to make a roll. Example: Two Characters face the same Infantile Challenge level. One has an Effective skill of 25, the other one of 4. The Referee could require the lower skilled Character’s Player to roll while stating automatic success for the Character with the higher level of expertise._ "There are some other complaints, but the rules are the big one: – Lengthy price lists for goods appear to have been randomly generated. The book would be well served by getting a period Sears catalog" I used not only several Sears catalogs but also Harrods, Montgomery Wards, and Abercrombie and Fitch; these were dated from the 1890s to the early 1900s. There is a considerable amount of variation in price from suppliers. We chose ones that we felt best fit with the altered universe we produced. "– It is poorly organized – swings between describing the background of the setting and introducing rule mechanics and back again at least four times. Instead of explaining the setting first and then referring to it, it keeps referencing people that aren't explained until the back of the book. This makes the already convoluted and wordy writing even more difficult to follow." I do mention several Victorians, such as I. K. Brunel, Babbage, Mata Hari, and others. My assumption was anyone picking up a book based in the Victorian would have a working knowledge of the major players of the era. We had initially included a large section of biographies, but reviewers felt it was a poor use of space. The ones that are particularly critical to the fictional universe have their activities noted in the timeline. "– There is very little new art. I think the author just googled 'Victorian Painting' and grabbed the first 50 images." There are over 50 original images in the book. The period images were carefully selected. "nonsensical (page 162) - an 'advanced submarine armor' appears to be a man standing next to a horse?" Yes, we miscaptioned the photo. "– When the art isn't just boring, it is a little insulting, like when he repurposes the Ohio State House Soldiers (a monument to actual people who served their country)" I’m a retired National Guard E-6. I didn’t find it insulting when it was done in many other historical fiction games, or games set in the current era. I am sorry if you did. Fictional characters in semi-historical settings are often granted historical honors. Are the promotions of Horatio Hornblower and his being awarded honors insulting? The HQC setting is historical fiction. In the setting, it is entirely likely that memorials will be erected to men and women within the setting. Additionally, the soldiers honored in that monument would have been those fighting the hive in my setting. I chose it specifically because of that reason. "– Like a lot of steampunk people he has a weird Victorian fetishism "to the victorians, anything worth making was worth making beautiful." – have you seen a victorian slum? A wheelbarrow? They were just people. Some stuff they made nice, other things they just made to get by." Victorian slums were usually not built as such; in fact, purpose-built Victorian working-class housing is often quite lovely. If nothing else compare Victorian era company-built housing to the vast bulk of modern or postmodern public housing estates built between 1960 and 1980. Post-World War Two architecture was called "brutalism" for an excellent reason. Compare such things to the Crossness Pumping Engines near London. It pumped sewage but is amazingly beautiful. "– Randomly uses terms which have not been introduced (e.g. Strategic turn)" Page 208 Chapter 10 “Time” _Strategic Turns Finally, there are Strategic Turns, which are one Earth day long (Martian and Venusian days are similar enough in length to cover them with Strategic turns). These are used for periods in which Characters are travelling on “safe” transportation such as a well-regulated railway or a first-class ocean liner. Recuperating from injuries and illnesses or recovering from the fatigue of the wilderness is governed using Strategic Turns. They may also be used when a party is in a city conducting routine business such as re-provisioning or awaiting transport.- Now I will address his concerns about combat "– A simple act like 'shoot target with machine gun' requires about half a dozen modifiers and 2-3 rolls (each of which requires more modifiers and rolls). If you do hit, there are another set of modifiers, then at least another roll, then you have to consult at least two tables to find the damage effect, which often requires another set of modifiers and rolls." It requires 2 rolls: To hit and Damage. Both of these are opposed rolls, as is everything in the game. Very few RPGs get away with less than two rolls for an attack to hit and damage. Depending on the circumstances, there may be more than one table to consult, or perhaps add an additional roll. In others, a single table may provide all the information needed. In many cases, the target hit by a machine gun will so obviously be killed that the damage roll, or at least the table look up, will not even be needed. "– Examples are poor – e.g. when computing the DMG for a rifle the book manages to botch the example and also demonstrate a sub-high-school-level of understanding about what the words 'kinetic energy' mean." Actually, we based damage more on momentum than kinetic energy. We did this consciously and for specific reasons. The primary one is that kinetic energy is a bit more complex to figure since it requires squaring a number and division, while momentum is simply mass times velocity. We also know this number, which we call DMG, is a rough approximation using a gross measurement of projectile diameter as a stand-in for mass. We didn’t use mass because it varies so much, even for rounds of the same caliber. If a Referee or Player wants to add a weapon, we didn’t they can use two easy to find data points to find the DMG. They don’t have to chase the mass of the bullet or decide which of perhaps a dozen various bullets they will use. DMG is nothing more than a relative measure of the effect of the impact of a weapon or projectile. The game is not a simulation. Exterior ballistics are incredibly complex. The results of trauma caused by bullets depend on everything from the path through the body to the level of hydrostatic shock caused by the specific shape of the projectile. The amount of information needed to even roughly provide "realism" would produce a system far more complicated than the one provided. "Or (page 228) "combat breaks down into FOUR steps..." (then immediately lists 6 steps)." The “extra” two steps call for the action to move to the next character in initiative order and then the next in initiative order (and so on). I can see where there might be some confusion in the following text and table All combat in Stars of Empire breaks down into FOUR steps: Initiative, Declaring Actions, Hitting, and Damage. Table 121 Combat Sequence Table (table formating is not available here) 1 Determine Initiative Order 2 Declare Actions in Initiative Order 3 Player of the first character in initiative order resolves Actions 4 Effects, such as damage are applied to other Characters 5Next Player resolves Actions for their character 6Continue resolving character Actions in Initiative Order "– WORST: Results are nonsensical. For example, if you shoot an average unarmored person (toughness 20) with a pistol (DMG12), the best you could reasonably hope for is to stun them. You would have a 1 in 400 chance of doing 'moderate' damage (stunned for 6 seconds). To actually kill someone with a pistol would require rolling 3 natural 20s in a row (one in 8,000) - and even then the target gets some saving throws." The reviewer makes several contentions here that are not born out by the text in the rule book. Page 14 -For human Characters, Attributes can range from 0 to 25 (or up to 30 if a Top Hat Forte is purchased). For a playable character, most stats must be at least five. Although the mathematical average of 0-25 is 12.5, for the purposes of the game we will use 10 as the -average- basic statistic for a human’s Primary Attributes. This means that a -generic person- on the streets of London or New York in 1890 would have their six basic statistics all rated at 10.- Human Toughness is Strength plus five, so an average human toughness would be 15, not 20. Next, there is the issue of hitting a target and then damaging it. Hitting is an opposed roll between the attacking player and the target. Missile Combat "To-Hit" Rolls Table To Hit +Skill+Fortes-Range Penalties To Defend D+Agility+Fortes Many combat options can be taken and, as the reviewer says, modifiers for things like movement, visibility, target size, and whatnot. At its most simple, the “to hit roll” roll is as given above. For example, let's take an Average Player Character vs. a very average random NPC victim. The average skill level for a PC is between 10 and 15. Let’s give the shooting character a 15 and the victim an Agility of 10. Each Character rolls a D20 (we call it a D for simplicity because it's the only die we use) and adds it to the numbers as given. If the attacker is a Player Character, they win ties. This means that with no modifiers they attacker will hit approximately 30% of the time. In SoE, the To Hit roll directly interacts with the damage roll. If a player rolls to hit and is successful, the amount they succeeded by (called the over-roll and clearly defined in the rules) is added to the damage roll. This was specifically done so that a pet peeve of mine would be corrected. In many role-playing games, a player can get an excellent die roll to hit and then do little or no damage. By adding the over-roll from hitting to the damage roll, a high to hit roll increased the chance of causing more damage to the target. In the above example, the worst the attacker can do is hit with a tie and will get no bonus. Without rolling a natural 20, the best they can get is for them to roll a 19 and the defender to roll a 1, so a difference of 18. The shooter has an advantage of 5, to begin with, so they will have an over-roll of anything from 0 to 23. The pistol he chooses to reference is a light pistol that produces the least damaging of all firearms. It would be something like a small derringer or another weapon firing a very low powered round. It has a DMG of 12. A heavy pistol has a DMG of 26; this would be a heavy Webley or a Colt. To cause damage. D+Over-roll from To Hit Roll +DMG+Fortes To avoid Damage D+Toughness+Armor+Fortes To continue the above example, the attacking character has hit and will add anywhere from 0 to 23 to their damage roll. The DMG for the light pistol will add 12 to over-roll from the to-hit roll. The victim will roll and add 15 for their toughness. Without either rolling a natural 20, the range will be from a 12 to a 34 for the attacker and 16 to 35 for the defender. This gives the defender a decent chance of being uninjured. That is not unreasonable for such a light weapon. If instead, a heavy pistol is being fired, the attacker will get anything from a 26 to a 49. This gives a considerably higher chance of hurting the target. The other thing we attempted to put into the combat system was that there could be a lot of "whittling away" of a target. Even if damage doesn't cause physical injury to a target (what we call pre trauma), every point of failure on a damage roll reduces that character's abilities to function. If a character suffers a 5 pt. failure on a damage roll, every roll they make afterward is reduced by that 5 points until they can have those penalties removed. This means that the first couple of shots may cause a target to duck and be unable to return fire effectively. After a couple of turns of combat, a character's ability may be so degraded that they are at a substantial penalty and cannot effectively fight on or are severely injured or killed. Let's look at the above situation; the average Player Character, (one that is not optimized for combat) is shooting at an average NPC. We will assume the Player Character has initiative and makes their attack. They have two Actions and may fire their pistol twice. On the first shot the attacker roll a 19 and adds that to their skill of 15. The total is 34. The defender rolls a 2 and adds their Agility of 10 for 12. The difference, which we call the Over-Roll is 22. Now we determine the effect of the first round. The attacker rolls a 4, adds their 0ver-Roll of 22, and the DMG of the pistol; 12. The total is 38. The defender rolls an 8 and adds their toughness of 15. Their total is 23. The difference is 15. This means the defender will subtract 15 from their next roll. 15 is still Pre-trauma, so they suffer no actual physical damage. The attacker fires their second shot. They roll a 10 and add their 15 skill. This gives them a 25. The defender rolls a 2, adds their 10 for Agility, and gets a 12. However, they also must subtract 15 from the previous hit for an overall number of -3. This gives the total Over-roll of 28 (attacker rolling a 25 and adding the defender’s-3 roll). Now we go to damage. The attacker rolls a 9, and the defender's bad luck continues, and they get a 1. The attacker has a total of 37. The defender, with their -15 penalty, has a -14. 37 + (-14) gives a total over-roll of 51. The defender is dead. Since I'm a story gamer, what is the narrative here? A Player Character, who was not mainly oriented to combat, draws a small pistol and fires at an NPC that is a "walk-on extra." The PC gets the drop and fires two rounds from their pistol. The first round doesn't hit the target but throws the victim badly off balance; no longer able to dodge effectively, the second bullet hits the target dead center, and the bullet kills them instantly The fight required five opposed rolls; Initiative (not discussed-assumed to have gone to the attacker), first shot to hit and damage, second shot to hit, and damage. In-game time it was approximately 6 seconds, and in terms of real-time, it required far more time to describe than to perform. This is a straightforward example, with bare-bones characters in a situation with no tactical complications, such as movement, range, or the use of cover. The two involved Characters don't have any Fortes that affect combat in any way. If the attacker had been more skilled the first shot could easily have killed such a weak target. Conversely a target can Dodge, or use a wide variety of defensive Fortes, or ones that increase Toughness, or reduce the negative effects of pain and fear from injuries. A target can be behind cover, they or the attacker can be moving. The fight could be at long range or in the midst of a rainstorm. This was a very simple example. Many factors can impact combat. The -60 pages- of combat rules bring many of those factors into game play. "– Things get even more strange you look at combat with animals. A horse can have a toughness of 60, making it essentially immune to anything less than a 50-cal rifle (that might inflict a 'trivial' wound). An Elephant (toughness 220) can reliably withstand a hit from a quick-firing 6 pounder. It is clear the author never play tested this." Let us look in detail at shooting an elephant: An elephant is the largest and, in many ways, the most valued and challenging of all big game animals on Earth. Stalking and killing one was no small matter. A character with average abilities and skills would be ill-advised to go hunting an elephant. During character creation a player decided she wishes to build a character that can be a capable big game hunter. To build a character that can be successful in this difficult task, the player will need to look a little more deeply into the rules. When she creates her Character, she will max out its Physical Primary Attributes and max out its Marksmanship skill. The Marksmanship skill can be purchased to 25 and the Physical Native Ability adds 5 to that for a 30. Marksmanship skill covers all missile weapons. The player notes that she can use the Stacking Forte to specialize in a particular weapon. Stacking Fortes gives increasingly high bonuses to increasingly restrictive situations. The player purchases several levels of Stacking Forte under her Marksmanship Skill. The first level of a stack will be “firearm." The next is “shoulder-fired weapon." The third level is “hunting rifle," the next is “heavy hunting rifle” and finally “double heavy rifle." These five levels of Stacking make the Character a Master and gives her a bonus of 25 more points. In this case, if the Character is firing a heavy double rifle, she adds 55 (Skill and Stacking Forte bonus) to her to hit roll. The Player could elect to add two or three more levels to the stack. These would be ".600 caliber heavy double rifle", "Holland and Holland rifle," and finally, they could specify their own personal weapon. This would have given her the maximum level of a stack and a full bonus of +40. There are a number of other available Fortes that would make the character a more effective huntress. Other Fortes can also be taken by the player to enhance their chances. The Know Your Prey Forte can add 5 to the to-hit roll. A big game hunter needs a big gun, so the player buys the character a double-barreled, very heavy rifle. It has a DMG 54 per barrel. The target and tactical situation significantly affect the possibility of success and failure. An elephant is a darned big target. For its size, the attacker gets to add 50 to her to hit roll. There are many other things the players can do to increase their chances of success. One is that they can manipulate the tactical situation. If they can get surprise on the elephant but using skills like Camouflage, or Tactics or Field Craft (or a combination of them) the poor creature will roll a D+3 instead of a D+15 (this modifier is in the Referee's book, which is currently in final editing and layout) The Player may also choose to aim. Each action used to aim gives a +5 to the to-hit roll, with a maximum of +30. The Player might choose to go for a head shot. This reduces the chance to hit, in this case, by -5, but dramatically increases the damage done if a hit occurs. For this example, we will suppose the huntress lies in wait for their target, but doesn’t achieve surprise. She does take careful aim for six actions and fires both barrels of the weapon. The elephant gets to roll a D+15 for its Agility against the shooter's D+30+35+50+5-5. The roll for the elephant is 15, and that of the huntress is 6. The total rolls are 30 for the elephant and 121 for the human huntress. This gives an over-roll of 91. Since they fired both barrels and got an over-roll greater than 50, both rounds hit. Now on to Damage In this case, only the size modifier is used to avoid damage (also in the Referee's book). This means the elephant would roll D+50 (rather than D+220 for full toughness) to avoid damage in the case of a called shot. The elephant gets a roll of 9 and adds 50, for a 59. The huntress rolls 4. The DMG of the weapon is 54, but since both barrels hit, that is doubled to 108. The over-roll was 91, a total of 203. The final difference is 144. Since this was a called shot to the head, the pachyderm is dropped in their tracks. If needed, the Player could have elected to spend Character Creation Points saved from building their Character to influence the die roll. These can give up to four automatic rolls of 20, with the reroll (adding at least 80 to the roll). They could have purchased the "That has to hurt" forte that doubles the over-roll. There are several Luck Fortes that can substantially increase the probability of a favorable outcome. The action against the elephant starts with character creation. It continues through the efforts of the player through their character to use the rules to develop a tactical situation in which they have as many advantages as possible. The player has to make a lot of decisions. The events of the stalk and shoot may take hours of game time as the huntress carefully moves into a position from which to shoot her trophy. It all came down to a pair of opposed rolls, one to see if she hit and the second to determine the effect of that hit. Let's talk about the use of a 6pdr gun against an elephant. A cannon that fires an explosive shell can produce three types of damage. If they get a hit the shell may cause damage directly. If they detonate nearby their explosive filler can cause damage due to shock. Finally, the shell body will fragment and those shell splinters are also potentially deadly. Let’s look at a 6 pdr quick firing light canon firing at an elephant. The 6 pdr has a DMG of 215 for direct damage. It also has a bursting charge of 4 ounces. Looking at the Table 162 we see that a 4-ounce charge provides an 8 psi shock wave at 1 hex or less. Table 163 shows that 8 PSI overpressure gives 100 DMG to an attack. In terms of fragmentation a 6 pdr shell is a Class Five weapon from Table 166. Table 165 shows at 1 hex or less this produces a DMG of 400. A direct hit by a 6 pdr high explosive shell would produce a total DMG of 715. Going back to the elephant as a target which has a full toughness of 220 it is obvious that an animal would have almost no chance of surviving such an attack. If the 6 pdr round impacts several hexes from the elephant it is still likely to killed or badly wounded up to 5 meters from the detonation. Again, I would like to thank Murray R for all his support and taking the time to write his in-depth review. I very much welcome him onto the review team for the Referee’s book.
Ground Vehicles of the Worlds: 1905
by Peter K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2019 05:04:33

30 years ago, Steampunk came to Germany, in the guise of Space:1889. I still remember spending hours in the local library, to find out how forced draught actually worked (spoiler: it’s a turbocharger for the firebox), because the rulebook was vague about it.

With this book, while it is for Hive, Queen and Country, you get decent information about all the newfangled gadgets available at the end of the 19th century. The fact, that Space:1889 takes place 15 years earlier is perfect, since all the technical changes taking place during that period are covered. A boon for long campaigns that take technical development into account.

The world of HQC (Hive, Queen and Country) is different from ours, computers (Babbage's analytical engine) have arrived and change many aspects of daily life.

The enemies are not the High Martians or the dastardly Russians, but bugs, big bugs, the Hive in the name of the game.

To combat them a plethora of vehicles on the ground and in the air have been designed, this special book covers nearly 80 different ground vehicles, not even counting subtypes. They are organized by country and by type and most vehicles come with illustrations, depicting views from the front, back, sides and top.

In addition the technical data contains everything from the dimensions, weight, weapons, armor, speed, range, and even fording, obstacle crossing and Trench crossing capability. This is more “Jane’s All the worlds fighting vehicles” than a basic RPG supplement. The 256 pages contain a plethora of information and background data. IMHO a beautiful addition for any Steampunk game, and a worthy addition to the other HQC publications.



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Ground Vehicles of the Worlds: 1905
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Flying Machines of the Worlds 1902
by John D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/02/2016 19:23:10

This my good fellow is a veritable steal for such a low price. Just the smashing pictures alone are worth far more, but all the tactical ship information, secret background information, storyline etc makes for a rippin good book at a cracking low price. I am almost ashamed to encourage more people to expose the pauperism of the publisher who is throwing away these jewels at such a low price. Egads man, don't sell your house.



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Flying Machines of the Worlds 1902
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Creator Reply:
Thank you so much for the wonderful review. It is only because we are funded by the Royal Society of Mars and the International City of Venus that we can bring such materials forward at such reasonable prices!
The Hive and the Flame
by John D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/02/2016 19:19:13

Absolutley spiffin publication. Plenty of information to whet the whistle of any gentleman explorer or defender of the Queen's Realms. Artfully contructed, beautiful to behold, and very workable. Lots of story information. VSF at its jolly best.



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