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(TFT) Starship troopers and TFT
From: "rmorger" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I saw something about Starship Troopers last night and it got me
thinking (Not necessarily a good thing :^) about doing a TFT
adaptation for the said game.
Starship Troopers Fantasy Trip
A nod to Heinlein
(C) 1999-2004 David Michael Grouchy II. All rights reserved.
Converting TFT to space tech is easily done with Robert Heinlein's Starship
Troopers reality. We define three terms, start with an ideal, and subtract
from there. Finally the lone mad wizard antagonist is moved from the remote
tower or dungeon into the classroom teaching minors about to become adults.
Three terms defined, and their use in this conversion.
Fantasy: symbolism used to work out aggression.
The players expect the opportunity to slay, dominate, and even subdue
their enemies. This is best felt after a period of losses and/or defeates.
Once they finally achieve their goal, the victory feels more real. Running
a good fantasy session only requires that the players understand, and have
the implied permission to slay dehumanised entities. The bugs of starship
troopers is ideal for this. The whole sale mass extermination of an entire
genus, maybe even species, becomes permissable. In TFT terms the sheer
amount of experience that can be gained by a squad that sets off a nuke in a
bug hole would probably represent 2-3 character points for the entire squad.
This quickly becomes menorean in one session. Better to rule that
collapsting a bug hole is worth 1 character point for the entire squad or
125 exp, which ever is less. And make capturing a bug worth 1 char point,
smart-bug worth 3, and a hive worth 5.
Players represent the Freudian Id set loose to reign in a Jungian
fantasy. Or, to at least make part of it their own. In the ancient hindu
tradition of the tensions between the Brahma (all men as one, holy ghost)
vs. the Atman (individual), we find our hero(s). They are amoung the lowest
ranks of their society. They are pitted against a unified foe acting with
one will, a litteral hive mind, where the only individual initiative that
exists is far removed from the characters every day encounters. This is
ideal for a single GM playing all the characters in a world. But it must
not be abused. As a result of the hive mind the individual bugs will show
little initiative or variation of tactics. The GM should make an effort to
come up with totaly new scenarios, but to have the individual bug behaviour
to be instictive, and predictable.
The players will have characters that recieve a long series of
training. These are broken up into six week periods that equal three
character points. One point of strength, Running, Thrown weapons, warrior,
guns, and driver (for power armor), represent eleven character points, far
more than the characters can learn in boot. But they may pick 3 points
worth of talent of all those offered during boot. If the player makes a
character that has saved, or unspent character points, these can be used to
pick up more of the training. Most characters will have to list the other
boot camp courses as their "Studied:" in order to graduate without being
held back for another six weeks.
Games and Theory offers, charisma, courtly graces, naturalist, sex
appeal, new followers, diplomacy, tactics, and strategy. In addition any
character with a high enough IQ to have all their talents, and ALWAYS
maintain an extra or unspent IQ point is considered psychic. They can
dabble in any talent they do not have at a default of IQ-6. Any character
of this IQ will be assigned to Games and Theory weather they be male or
On the pilot front we find testing as opposed to training. The
character must have a full talent in all the following. Literacy, business
sence, Scholar, and Mathmatics. After six weeks of testing they will be
assigned as an apprentice pilot. Six weeks of that and they will have
missile weapons, but without the need for bow as a pre-requisite. The
missle they get +3 with is actually the space craft, particularly the
manuevering apsect of it.
Play: differences in male and female characters is debateable.
Heinlien says to us, if we're going to talk about women in the
military, then let's talk about women in the military. He may have felt it
was inevitable as he saw some connection between owning property and the
responsibility of protecting it. How ever, what is interesting to us is his
stance on the debate. Their are the notorious federaly sponsored research
papers on women failing as City fire fighters, and forest fire fighters
because of their weaker upper body strength. They were not able to carry
the line, and lift ladders over their heads. They were not as good at
digging trenches. Yet all of this research was done in the late seventies,
well after Heinlein's 1959 Starship Troopers. He does not focus on the
surest ways to make women fail, he focuses on the idealized relationship.
In his book it is implicitly stated that women have faster reflexes, and
make better pilots. In addition Air Force research has shown that women can
with stand greater g-forces. The distance from a women's heart to her head
is shorter than a mans, and can maintian blood pressure to the brain to a
heavier g-force threshold than a man.
Now for the approach to combat. This starts with an ideal. That the
character is un-kill-able. Any wounds or damage they recieve will actually
degrade or ruin their equipment. Unlike the movie, these rules focus on the
power armor. The suits invented by Heinlein in 1959 are the ultimate
armored knight fantasy. Before we get onto the suits though, a little
history of Heinlein's own work.
Issac Asamov and Robert Heinlein knew each other from their days of
working to invent the pressure suit for flying to high altitude, possibly
even into space. Heinlein's origional design was a complicated hard shell
exo-shell that joined with many swiveled joints. The shell was hard and
rigid unlike modern fabric space suits. This design was rejected because of
something called "programing lock" and the fabric suits used in the early
space program were litteraly sewn together by little old lady seamstresses.
Moving the arm or leg of a rigid suit required that the limb inside be
lined up a certain way. And complicated moves like reaching an arm around
behind something and then turning the wrist to work a wrench could result in
the swivel joints locking in an awkward position. In fact just getting the
suit into postion to loosen a bolt required such precise pathing by the
wearers limbs it was called programing. Getting the suit into a postion
where the multiple swivel joints locked and couldn't be reversed was called
It is obvious to me that Heinleins' Starship Troopers describes an
approach for a solution that would eventually make the hardened and powered
suit intuitive and easy to use. In 1959 he describes an interior covered in
countless sensors that detect the wearers' limbs and their every movement.
And he describes a suit that reacts accordingly, in an almost empathetic
relationship with the wearer. Add jump jets, twin shoulder mounted line of
sight mortar launchers, and rotating tool/weapon selections for each arm
gives us a personal size mech warrior.
Wounds: start unkillable, and reduce from there.
The promise is that even if the players' character is killed the player
will remain unharmed. The power suit will loose its functionality instead.
Break the suit into five sections, head, body, arms, and legs. Each section
is equiped with up to five enchantments. For instance...
head: fresh air, Dx+5, detect enemies, light, limited to body piece.
body: back up fresh air, armor +5, telepathy, telekenisis (for
launching morars), limited to person issued too. In addition there is a
back pack with 85 miniaturised petards. These are launched as molotovs,
using Dx-1 per mega-hex traveled. These are launched by the telekenisis of
the body piece. It is limited to only that function.
left arm: machine gun (rod of wizards wrath 3d+3 a turn), St+3, Iron
flesh (stops 6 more hits), Shock shield 1d+2, limited to body piece.
right arm: flame thrower (row of fireball, 3d-3 a turn, starts
secondary fire hexes), Immunity to break weapon, fireproofing, limited to
left leg: speed movement, flight, str battery for machine gun 255
points (85 shots), immunity to drowning, immunity to lightning 4d, limited
to body piece.
right leg: back up speed movement, redundant flight, str battery for
flame thrower 255 points (85 shots), immunity to fireball 4d, immunity to
disease, limited to body piece.
As a character is damaged, the specific location is determined using 2d
on the critical hit table. A drop weapon/ stun results in the lose of that
enchantment for the next turn. A lose of limb/ death results in the
breaking of that enchantment. Echantments are removed from the limiting
first, and back up the list. So a power armor helmit would have to take 5
points of damage (after armor 6 for fine plate, 6 for iron flesh, and +5 for
enchantment: or 17 points subtracted from all attacks) on five turns in a
row to loose all functionality. The first turn it would not be limited to
body peice. Second the lights would go out. On third turn of being damaged
at least 22 the detect enemies is wrecked, then the DX bonus, then finally
the life support (or fresh air) is knocked out. In this way a single
character can be down and pounded on by several spiders for many turns
before other characters really have to rescue them.
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