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Here's the pitch:


Here's the pitch:  

18 members have voted

  1. 1. Which of the two Mech settings seems more interesting?

    • Post World War 3, with Players defending Superpower 1
      1
    • Post World War 3, with Players defending a Balkanized State against subjugation
      5
    • The Inner System, defending against, and hopefully defeating and learning the secrets of, unknown aliens to spread mankind into space
      14


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As those of you who care are aware, I was assassinated for a bit, but I'm feeling better now.  :D

 

 

 

I have been using my _very scant_ spare time during my assassination to rework Robot Warriors.  (Like Chris G, I have a deep love for that game).  I'm going in a different direction than Chris did with his conversion document:  I am doing a "powered by HERO," hidden mechanics sort of thing (much like the original, only with some new ideas to bring them game more in line with what we've seen in mech fiction over the years).

 

Hopefully, work will experience the "winter slow down" that gives me a bit more free time (If you're wondering, Spence, fourteen and fifteen hour days are why I haven't started the scanning yet:  it just can't be done in ten-minute intervals, I'm afraid).

 

More time, and I'm sure we are all hoping for a break in the Corona situation.  I haven't had a Robot Warriors game in some time, and if the stars align, I'd like to pitch one to one of my adult groups, but I want to start fresh and do an extended campaign as opposed to the "five-issue series" thing we've done in the past.

 

 

So I'm toying with a mech setting.

 

I've got two different directions, and I'm cool with either, but I'd like to know which holds the most general interest:

 

1)  The world has been reduced to one declining super power, one further-declined superpower, and several smaller up-and-coming powers.  Superpower 2 (the more declined one) advanced on a couple of once-backwards smaller nations to increase it's foothold near Superpower 1, so that it might build up for assault and reclaim its "former glory."  Superpower 1, having become sedentary and decadent, has been declining for the last hundred years, and Superpower 2 thinks it will never have a better chance.  As 2 amassed resources and collected smaller nations, 1 realized it could not keep letting this go on, and answered the call from the smaller nations: "War were declared."

 

At some point during this war, mechs.  They happened, they were sort of a game-changer (haven't bothered working out as I'm not sold on either setting).

 

Game starts after the war.  Superpower 1 is _spent_.  Superpower 2 is _gone_.  Not a glass-parking lot kind of thing, but between the uprising of the nations underneath it and the war with 1, it collapsed, it's government scattered and bankrupt, and a considerable amount of its former lands either taken by nations that 2 had once conquered, and the bulk of the rest heavily balkanized and with their own problems, each hoping to rise up enough to become a superpower in their own right.

 

The campaign will be either: A players are mech pilots defending what remains of Superpower 1 (as it has spent itself until it totters on its own collapse) against insurgent attacks from neighbors looking to expand their own holdings or simply eliminate the imbalance that Superpowers represent

 

or B: the players are mech pilots defending _against_ one or the other superpowers looking to increase themselves through expansionism.   

 

Either way, the setting is a heavily battle-scarred world, with all the infrastructure problems you'd expect from world war 3.

 

 

 

Setting option 2:

 

Near Space:

 

Earth has moved forward; there are successful colonies on the moon; there are successful cylinder colonies at the Lagrange points around Venus, and three large cylinders in orbit around the sun between earth and Mars, with orbits that are perpendicular to the planetary orbital plane.  There are smaller colonies on Mars.   The asteroid belt was being settled with an eye on the jovian moons.   That's when we found the aliens.  Their technology was found buried on asteroids and in one place on Mars (with the assumption that there are probably more alien holdings elsewhere on Mars).  So boom!  Mechs.

 

As we began to explore the Jovian moons, we encountered live aliens.    Too bad they aren't friendly.   The belt, Mars, and the Martian Cylinder have been militarized, and are the defensive line against the aliens.  The Players will be mech pilots defending the inner system while attempting to learn more about the aliens.  As of game time, none have been taken, even dead: self-destruction over capture.  No one knows where they came from, why they fight, or what they want.  Was it the move to the Jovian moons?  Are they Jovians?  Are they from further beyond?  Are they extra-solar?

 

 

Anyway, before developing one or the other (if either), I thought I'd toss out a couple of bits to see what seemed like the more interesting choice.

 

 

Thoughts?

 

Anyone?

 

Oh-- it should be multiple choice, but please: don't pick all three, even if they all work for you: it generates un-helpful data.  :(

 

 

Thanks for playing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I got thinking that scouts from the Balkin states looking for additional resources (perhaps weapons) several years ago were the ones who discovered the aliens. Since neither could understand the other due to their totally unique body design, the scouts assumed that when the aliens were communicating they were actually attacking. Because of this error, Earth's first interplanetary war was created. Now, all of Earth's divisions are still around in addition to that of the threat of the aliens that the superpower is willing to use for their advantage and sit on the side while the rest of the world does its best to stop them.

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Ah; let me help there:

 

My mech games don't just cover mechs.  There are exoskeletal machines as well, akin to the famous forklift in Aliens. (though the idea is much older; I originally got it from Patlabor and the number of civilian "mechs" in use to replace heavy equipment). 

 

And of course, the mechs aren't space ships.  People live in the colonies.  Mechs are transported to where they are needed either by carrier or by sled, depending on the length of deployment and the distance to be traveled. 

 

For military mechs, there are special stations, planet side or orbital, that serve as hangars and barracks. 

 

Space stations may feature hangers for a few mechs, but they don't walk around inside them.  That's where the people live. 

 

I hope that clears things up. 

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

Ah; let me help there:

 

My mech games don't just cover mechs.  There are exoskeletal machines as well, akin to the famous forklift in Aliens. (though the idea is much older; I originally got it from Patlabor and the number of civilian "mechs" in use to replace heavy equipment). 

 

And of course, the mechs aren't space ships.  People live in the colonies.  Mechs are transported to where they are needed either by carrier or by sled, depending on the length of deployment and the distance to be traveled. 

 

For military mechs, there are special stations, planet side or orbital, that serve as hangars and barracks. 

 

Space stations may feature hangers for a few mechs, but they don't walk around inside them.  That's where the people live. 

 

I hope that clears things up. 

 

Well if they're only exo-skeleton STR enhancers, that wouldn't seem to cause a problem.

 

I was picturing something like a BattleTech mech which has machine guns, explosive rockets, lasers, and flamethrowers.

 

An O'Neill cylinder space station, for example, has large interior dirt inner surface strips which alternate with large window strips which let in sunlight in order to grow crops and allow people to have a normal life.

 

Even if the window strips are transparent aluminum, I wouldn't count on them hold up to stray 50 caliber bullets and rocket impacts from mech battles.

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The mechs get much larger, but for reasons tied primarily to tidal forces, don't expect a mech in one of my games to break thirty foot, and very few humanoid mechs will break twenty.  Platform types may be larger, of course, but they operate under different stressors.  Still, most combat mechs will not see the interior of a space station, save for docking and repair mech-dedicated sections.

 

The fragility of the stations is precisely why you _won't_ them wandering around on the inside of a station.  You may find them outside, but if the enemy is attacking the station directly, there is little choice but to put the combat mechs where the action is.   :(

 

Primarily, combat mechs (in that particular campaign, I mean) would be confined to planetary or near-the-carrier type space action, and of course throughout the belt, where numerous ammo dumps, small repair stations, etc, have been constructed over the years.  Even then, except for mech-specific servicing stations, you won't find them inside the asteroids, either.

 

To sum it up more succinctly:  Battle Tech style mechs are the core of the military mechs (though I am partial to the VariTech for space missions), but they don't go stomping around inside the artificial colonies unless the enemy is already there.  Ideally, they repel the enemy before they get that deep.

 

I am working on a background point that the O'Neil's in orbit perpendicular to the solar plane are being studied with the goal of changing their orbits to match the solar plane, owing to the difficulty of defending them at the extremes of their orbits.  It's not something "from the history books," but a bit of background story I thought might add a little something in terms of depth and in terms of the situation:  "to even consider such a thing-- hundreds of thousands of people, too many to evactuate....  the dangers that must be overcome...   Things have got to be pretty bad to take that risk....  There's something that TransSolar isn't telling us; something they don't want us to know....  What sort of danger are we in that the risks of changing our orbits seems reasonable....?  And why the sudden big push to accelerate the teraforming on Venus?  The Tin Can Colonies have already given us so much room....."

 

That sort of thing.

 

So:   exoskeletal mechs: Frames.

Somewhat larger exoskeletal mechs, usually purpose-built (heavy machinery, heavy weaponry, but still generally open cockpit:  Rigs

Large enough to support a fully closed and life-supported cockpit:  Mechs

Heavy, wide, and generally low-built:  Platforms  (though these are also piloted as Mechs are, Platforms are generally tracked, wheeled, or multi-legged for stability or maneuverability, and generally tailored to certain terrains)

 

The problems of going larger than thirty feet or so with a humanoid form made of a metal framework and plating are all inertial, so while I enjoyed Transformers as much as anyone else (except maybe little kids, who dig anything more than us crusty curmudgeons ever could), I have a very difficult time building anything but a superhero campaign around anything much larger than thirty feet.  You know: the same reason that a crane that can lift fifteen tons will never _ever_ try to _swing_ even five tons: it will twist itself into a helix and fall over from any attempt to _stop_ swinging it.   :(

 

 

 

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Deep down, I like the idea of a Descent: Freespace meets MechWarrior vibe;

 

It’s after the war. Mankind has been busy rebuilding. Despite what we expected, we didn’t get bombed back to the Stone Age, but the deconstruction of super powers gave rise to new leadership, focused heavily on science and the technological advancements required to save our planet. The mechs started as more efficient excavation machines, drilling, moving earth, lifting heavy objects. That sort of thing. It wasn’t long, though, before patterns re-emerged. Market leaders were approached by new governments who wanted to “protect themselves” against non-existent threats; threats that arose because they armed. And here we are, again. That was 200 years ago.

 

Me? I’m a humble mechanic. Then one of my pilots got sprayed all over the inside of his machine by a microwave gun because his shielding wasn’t maintained right. A problem I had logged a half dozen times but was told “Hey, how often do they bring those things out? They’re not going to melt anybody.” Yeah...

 

So they cleaned out the cockpit and say “Jackie! You know this beast better than any of us!” I blinked and pointed out that doing VR sims based on current telemetry, while it’s fun to post high scores, is really a diagnostic tool so we can figure out what’s going to happen or what may have gone wrong or where repairs are needed by simulating stress on the machine. Nope. “Girl, you’ve got a hot hand and you can think on your feet.” I saw the first ones when they came down. The flash. Thought people were dropping bombs, but there were no planes, no radar signatures, it was all visual. Next thing we know, armored nightmares start crawling along the ground. We stood fast. Scanned, scanned again. Nothing came up, system choked like a bad sniper with the game winning goal in his glove. That was ten years ago.

 

This is my apocalypse.

 

Introduce the game as fighting for independence to avoid past mistakes, then ramp into alien invasion. The key for me in this setting is to keep the politics. Aliens arrived. Nothing changed except now we’re fighting a war on multiple fronts. 

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This is more of a pointer to a tool that's a GM reference aid, not a campaign concept/design aid, especially if you're going to be having scenes (etc.) on asteroids or movement between asteroids, etc.  For campaign design purposes, I think likely the coolest/most useful thing about it its graphic representation of orbits and orbital motion ("orbit diagrams").  On the up side, just about every known object in the Solar System is in there.  The biggest down side is that you can't make up things and see what they look like: you're limited to real objects; nor can you scope out more than one asteroid at once.  Another down side is the learning curve ... if you have never worked with orbits before then you won't know initially what you're looking for or looking at.  I can help with that if there's any interest.

 

JPL Small-Body Database Browser

 

I send my students there regularly. 

 

Spoiler

A very quick little intro:

 

Open a browser tab to the linked site.  Type "Apophis" into the search box.  (Apophis is a famous? infamous? asteroid that'll come pretty close to Earth in 2029.  There's several hundred thousand other objects in the database as well.)

 

You'll get a wall of numbers.  Near the top is a grey row of links that reads "[Ephemeris | Orbit diagram | Orbital Elements | ((etc.)) ]"

 

The graphic orbit presentation you get by clicking on "Orbit Diagram".  You get a view with colored curves showing the orbits of planets (and dots on those curves showing the location of each at the time shown in the lower left corner), a dot for the Sun at the middle, and a grey curve showing the orbit of the object you've dialed up (here, Apophis).  Clicking and dragging in that window will change your viewing angle of the situation.  Use a mousewheel to zoom in or out.  You can change what the view is centered on by clicking on that object.  There are more settings in the upper right corner of the view (including buttons to start/stop/reverse the simulation), and still more that you can access by clicking on the three bars in the upper left corner.  And you can set the simulation running to watch the Solar System objects run around in their orbits in a representation that's physically accurate, which has the biggest "oh cool" impact initially.  In the bottom left corner is information rather than controls, including the date/time being represented, the distance of the object from Earth and from Sun, and the designation of the object being represented.  Clicking the "Orbit Diagram" link again makes that diagram go away.

 

The Close Approach Data link will give another wall of numbers giving particulars for "close" approaches by the object to planets.  There may not be any (in which case the link won't show, I think).    For Apophis, if you scroll down a bit, it'll say that on 2029-Apr-13 at 21:46, its "nominal distance" will be 0.000252... astronomical units (and 1 au ~= 150 million km), so it'll be about 38000 km from Earth's center at that instant.

 

There is a "Mission design" link that frankly I have never used.  It's there for the people who think about sending spaceraft across the Solar System in real life -- those people work at JPL and similar places -- and the limits on that are always handwaved away in a sci-fi RPG for reasons we all know.  (To make a Space Shuttle accelerate at 1 gee using a photon rocket requires a power source several times Planet Earth's collective electricity generation capacity in 2010 or so, IIRC.)

 

The only thing I would caution against is clicking the Ephemeris link and trying to generate some tables of output.  If you don't know what you're doing, it's really easy to end up asking for truly stupendous amounts of output data, which does you no good and consumes computation resources at the back end.

 

 

 

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On 9/10/2020 at 6:32 PM, Duke Bushido said:

Hopefully, work will experience the "winter slow down" that gives me a bit more free time (If you're wondering, Spence, fourteen and fifteen hour days are why I haven't started the scanning yet:  it just can't be done in ten-minute intervals, I'm afraid).

 

:thumbup:

 

 

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I voted the third option, but I would lean toward a setting that happens after WW3.

 

Earth has slowly climbed away from extinction on a ravaged planet.  The population will no longer tolerate even the appearance of large government bodies so currently Earth is a very loose confederation of small independent villages, towns and small cities.  Both on earth as well as in the rest of the system. 

 

500 years before now on one of the early post war expeditions to the moon in an attempt to recover technology from one of the old lunar bases, they instead discovered a crashed alien vessel.  The technology gleaned from that ship was directly responsible for the survival of humanity and there ability to establish outposts and colonies off planet.  Even now the majority of humanity and the food production is not on Earth. 

 

The use of everything from Frames to Mecha has become common.  But there is no large standing military since that would establish a larger centralized government to control it.  Instead each local maintains its own security force of varying effectiveness.  Most are some form of law enforcement, Sheriffs, Marshals and Police are the most common.  Overall laws and regulations that affect the entire solar system are loosely enacted by the Grand Conclave which meets once every 10 years and includes voting representatives from every polity that has over 10000 inhabitants. With smaller outposts designating one representative per combined 10000.  The number was established when there were few locals that came near to 10k.  While the larger colonies have argued and tried to raise that number or allow larger colonies to have more than one vote, they can't muster enough support to pass the change.

 

The only two organizations that are independent and have jurisdiction throughout the solar system are the Support and Rescue Service and the Solar Marshall Service.  While they do have jurisdiction, their influence is muted by their numbers being spread out across the system. 

 

Overall, mankind has become very independent and self-reliant with an innate distrust of anything "big government".

 

In this environment a few small prospectors operating on the outer edge of the solar system have failed to check in.  And more concerning, the S&R ship dispatched to investigate has gone dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 9/15/2020 at 4:39 PM, Thia Halmades said:

Deep down, I like the idea of a Descent: Freespace meets MechWarrior vibe;

 

 

Thanks, Thia.

 

I'm going to have to take a few minutes to learn just what that is, though.

 

 

On 9/16/2020 at 12:21 PM, Cancer said:

This is more of a pointer to a tool that's a GM reference aid, not a campaign concept/design aid, especially if you're going to be having scenes (etc.) on asteroids or movement between asteroids, etc.  For campaign design purposes, I think likely the coolest/most useful thing about it its graphic representation of orbits and orbital motion ("orbit diagrams").  On the up side, just about every known object in the Solar System is in there.  The biggest down side is that you can't make up things and see what they look like: you're limited to real objects; nor can you scope out more than one asteroid at once.  Another down side is the learning curve ... if you have never worked with orbits before then you won't know initially what you're looking for or looking at.  I can help with that if there's any interest.

 

JPL Small-Body Database Browser

 

I send my students there regularly. 

 

 

 

Thanks, Cancer.

 

For the record:

 

The reason I do not yet know what Descent: Freespace means is because of the shocking about of time I wasted on the Small-Body Browser.

 

 

:D
 

 

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On 9/12/2020 at 2:06 PM, Duke Bushido said:

Ah; let me help there:

 

My mech games don't just cover mechs.  There are exoskeletal machines as well, akin to the famous forklift in Aliens. (though the idea is much older; I originally got it from Patlabor and the number of civilian "mechs" in use to replace heavy equipment). 

 

And of course, the mechs aren't space ships.  People live in the colonies.  Mechs are transported to where they are needed either by carrier or by sled, depending on the length of deployment and the distance to be traveled. 

 

For military mechs, there are special stations, planet side or orbital, that serve as hangars and barracks. 

 

Space stations may feature hangers for a few mechs, but they don't walk around inside them.  That's where the people live. 

 

I hope that clears things up. 

 

Perhaps this will help--

 

Exo-Squad

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@Duke Bushido Here’s the wiki link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descent:_FreeSpace_–_The_Great_War

 

Here’s an excellent explanation of the Shivans, their introduction and why they remain terrifying to this day: When I’m relating your idea, I’m thinking of a threat very similar to this, Lovecraftian in nature, forcing an all new arms race and who unchecked is going to run rough shod over everyone

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, wcw43921 said:

 

Perhaps this will help--

 

Exo-Squad

 

 

Thanks again, WCW.

 

I got curious, so I hunted about a bit and found a few episodes on you-Tube.

 

That was....

 

Man, that was bad.  That was really, _really_ bad.....

 

Don't get me wrong: I see the comparisons immediately, and I recognized after the first little bit of dialogue that this was geared directly at children, and so tossing in a few words or themes that suggested complexity was all they really needed to sell it as deep and complex--

 

X-men.   It reminded me of that nineties E-men cartoon; that was terrible in exactly the same way: eye candy that appeals to children, the suggestion of substance, and lots of short, impossible fights.

 

However, I still thank you, because everything can be a source of ideas.  I also caught the similarities (terraformed Venus; nothing out past the belt, etc).  I was really, really put off by the poorly veiled "we are suppressing a slave revolution; damn those evil uppity slaves" aspect of the plot, though; can't lie about that.  : /

 

I'm also astounded that got through the watchdogs of the day.

 

Oh-- 

 

in my games, what they are calling "E-Frames" would be "Rigs."  What the jump troops are wearing-- those would be Frames.

 

for anyone curious about the link, stick with the wiki; don't watch the show!    :lol:

 

 

  

11 hours ago, Thia Halmades said:

@Duke Bushido Here’s the wiki link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descent:_FreeSpace_–_The_Great_War

 

Here’s an excellent explanation of the Shivans, their introduction and why they remain terrifying to this day: When I’m relating your idea, I’m thinking of a threat very similar to this, Lovecraftian in nature, forcing an all new arms race and who unchecked is going to run rough shod over everyone

 

 

Thank you as well, Thia.  

 

I think I get it: unknown alien invaders that we don't (or at least haven't) been able to learn anything about, who strike and win _a lot_.   Yep.  That's very much what I had in mind, at least as the setting.  The game looks quite beautiful, but the video was more about the play of the game than the word in which it is set.

 

And wow.  Good diction or not, some people....   Some people, you can just _see_ the script in front of them when they read...

 

Outlines, people!  Outlines!  If you read completed text out loud, you will _sound_ like you are reading text out loud!   Things that flow well when written do not always _sound_ right when spoken.

 

Just jot down your thoughts, and extrapolate with freshly-strung words.  _That's_ how you get life into something!  :lol:

 

 

 

 

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I found the entire series on YouTube, albeit a bit distorted and with altered run speed to fool the bots.

 

Essentially, it's footage (from an odd angle) of a living room wall with the episodes playing on the television.

 

Once you stop wondering why there's a chisel on the speaker, you can focus in on the thing.

 

 

As I said, there were aspects and elements I liked.  Taken as a whole....  well, it wasn't for me.

 

 

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On 9/12/2020 at 1:59 PM, archer said:

 

Well if they're only exo-skeleton STR enhancers, that wouldn't seem to cause a problem.

 

I was picturing something like a BattleTech mech which has machine guns, explosive rockets, lasers, and flamethrowers.

 

An O'Neill cylinder space station, for example, has large interior dirt inner surface strips which alternate with large window strips which let in sunlight in order to grow crops and allow people to have a normal life.

 

Even if the window strips are transparent aluminum, I wouldn't count on them hold up to stray 50 caliber bullets and rocket impacts from mech battles.

That is why Mechs have Swords! Lol

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36 minutes ago, pinecone said:

If you go with Lovecraftian aliens, you get to do Kaiju vs Mecha, and you don't have to worry about scavenged tech changing things. The discovered alien tech could be from the last victims of the "Threat". (You don't say their name, it somehow attracts them).

 

Funny you should say that:

 

I was considering a "once we got to the belt and started mining, we found evidence, here and there-- only small hints and suggestions-- that the asteroids were once a world, inhabited by a race that died long before there was life on earth, a race that made technological strides further than our own, but at some point stopped reaching for the stars, and turned all their efforts to war...."

 

Something along those lines. (and yes; it would be some of these discoveries that led to the development of "mech tech" in the campaign universe).

 

Haven't put much thought into the aliens yet, but honestly, the entire campaign could play all the way through without learning anything about them.  The approach taken in the video Thia posted is very much akin to how I pictured the initial encounters going: mysterious, seemingly-invulnerable invaders from beyond....

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Thanks.

 

I'm rather taking time with it, picking things I like and studying them to see what will and won't fit.  I like a lot of individual elements that I've had to lay aside already-- my initial idea featured alien occupation, etc-- very similar to the animated series WCW recommended as a reference, really (thanks again, WCW), but I really want that "fear of the unknown" angle, and eventually had to just pull out a few bits and leave the larger parts of the plot alone.  :(   Still, I had a flash of the setting, and I want to stay as close to it as possible.

 

It won't be quick:  I'm working on so many things, and I am only off one day a week.  The other days are from 6am "until," with "until" usually 7pm or later, so I don't have copious amounts of spare time.  However, as I stated, I am looking at a rework of Robot Warriors (anyone else notice that a lot of us have giving that considerable attention lately?), and I'd like to have a setting in place for play testing, but I've also been pecking away at a fantasy setting (that I haven't touched in a couple of months  :(  ), getting the truck road worthy again, etc, etc, etc....  And of course, cataloguing the entirety of "compatible with HERO."  That's gotten harder to do since I started researching the old gaming magazines.  Way back when, I thought there were maybe a dozen.  Evidently, for everyone of which I was aware, there were a thousand I had no idea existed.    :rofl:

 

 

 

 

Lots of projects: no time.  

 

It's all good, though.  Something will get finished eventually.  

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