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(TFT) Starship troopers and TFT

From: "rmorger" <rmorger@mail.ev1.net>

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 female. 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 "programing lock". 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 body piece. 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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