Friday, September 27, 2013

[Q&A] Jonathan M. Thompson & Luke Green (Double Spiral War, Traveller edition)

[20:02] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Good evening/morning as the case may be. I am Jonathan M Thompson, owner/operator of Battlefield Press and the co-author of the Traveller Setting book  Warren C Norwood's Double Spiral War. This is a rpg setting based off the trilogy by the late Warren C. Norwood
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[20:03] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> (done)
[20:03] <+GenoFoxx> (late?)
[20:03] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> No, we are just beginning
[20:04] <+LukeGreen> I live in Japan, so morning for me.
[20:04] <+LukeGreen> Anyway.
[20:04] <+GenoFoxx> (I meant Mr. Norwood)
[20:04] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Yes, Mr. Norwood passed away in 2005
[20:05] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Luke?
[20:05] <+LukeGreen> Good morning/evening, I'm Luke Green.  Freelance writer.  Co-author to the game and contributor to some of Jonathan's other projects.
[20:05] <+LukeGreen> Was deciding what to say.  ^_^;;;
[20:05] <+LukeGreen> (done)
[20:06] <~Dan> Thanks, guys!
[20:06] <~Dan> So what can you tell us about the setting?
[20:06] <+GenoFoxx> What is the Double Spiral War setting?
[20:08] <+LukeGreen> It's a hard sci-fi setting revolving around two primarily human interstellar governments and a group of neutral planets colonized by other alien species.
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[20:09] <~Dan> (Howdy, Canageek!)
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[20:09] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Humanity left for the stars, and eventually after generations came to colonize another galaxy. Eventually these groups split and came to different philosophies, these eventually formed the two major human empires.
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[20:10] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> During the games and trilogy era, the two major powers are at war, and it effects not only the powers but everyone in the galaxy to some extent.
[20:10] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> (done)
[20:11] <~Dan> So the aliens are lesser powers?
[20:11] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Aliens are neutral powers.
[20:11] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> They are not necessarily lesser than the human powers.
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[20:12] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> That doesnt stop them from being viewed that way, even by other alien powers.
[20:12] <+LukeGreen> Though none of them have as many planets as either two human powers.
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[20:12] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> But some do wield considerable influence, indirectly if not directly.
[20:12] <~Dan> What makes the setting stand out to you?
[20:13] <+LukeGreen> The scale and speeds.
[20:13] <+LukeGreen> Not that they're faster or slower but...let's see.
[20:13] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> The universe is not black and white, and Norwood lets you know that.
[20:14] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> He does a good job at describing the weight of the decisions that each character has to make in the course of the setting.
[20:14] <+LukeGreen> One character at one point comments that a ship can accelerate to light speed in 6 hours and that this is roughly twice as fast as anything they had except an experimental prototype.
[20:15] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> He also switches the pov of the setting by changing the pov of the story by telling it from another characters viewpoint.
[20:15] <+LukeGreen> And Jonathan is right.  There are a number of people that have a clear view on what is right and wrong, but their view does not usually match what you see from other characters.
[20:17] <+LukeGreen> The novels are a tapestry of several major plot lines and curious subplots.  They show a good slice of the way the war affects everyone from the soldiers on the ground to the unaligned merchants.
[20:17] <~Dan> How does that translate into the game?
[20:17] <+LukeGreen> (done)
[20:18] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> The game is taking place in the space in between.
[20:19] <~Dan> I'm not sure I follow you there.
[20:19] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> The campaigns can be anything from a military campaign where the squad (PCs) are attacking a stronghold, or exploration of the unknown or even a merchant/smuggling campaign. It is a lot like running a Star Wars campaign in my thought and opinion. In actual games I have run, we have played exploration campaigns while the war is going on in the background.
[20:20] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> (done)
[20:20] <+GenoFoxx> what's the technology like
[20:21] <+GenoFoxx> is it regressed tech like 40K and Star Wars or is it still expanding? or stagnant
[20:21] <+LukeGreen> It's definitely progressing.
[20:22] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> But sometimes you think its a bit anachronistic when compared to some of what we have today. Remember the series was written in the early 80s
[20:22] <+LukeGreen> Correct, it would seem comparable to the reboot BSG in tech level.
[20:23] <~Dan> No cybernetics or nanotech, then?
[20:23] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> No, none of that.
[20:23] <+LukeGreen> The impression you get, however, is that a combat round in space combat would represent 10+ minutes with battles taking the course of hours in game.
[20:23] <+GenoFoxx> so somewhere between Traveller tl 9-11
[20:24] <+LukeGreen> There is some genetic engineering in the far past that resulted in the Homo communis subspecies of humanity.  Which are mostly different for their lifespan.
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[20:25] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Somewhere between 10 and 11
[20:27] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> (done)
[20:27] <~Dan> What sorts of aliens are there?
[20:28] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> There are three type of playable aliens in the core book.
[20:28] <+LukeGreen> There are no near-human aliens.
[20:30] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> There are Oinaise appear to be mammalian, like a cross between a boar and an elephant.
[20:30] <+LukeGreen> There's the Castorians, who are sort of crab-like methane breathers.
[20:30] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> The Castorians which appear to be humanoid crabmen
[20:31] <+GenoFoxx> ((Crabmen from Titan))
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[20:32] <~Dan> (Howdy, CC!)
[20:32] <~Dan> And the third?
[20:32] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> (Howdy CC, pull up a chair)
[20:33] <+LukeGreen> The third is a sort of salamander/snake/lizard thing.
[20:34] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> And a race of snakemen of Cloise, who are also methane breathers.
[20:35] <+LukeGreen> Cloise itself has a number of species, but the snake-people are the most obvious residents.
[20:35] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> They are the rulers and arguably the most intelligent of the species that inhabit Cloise.
[20:36] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> The aliens in the DSW universe are more than just reskinned humans, they are actually alien.
[20:37] <+Bigby> Sorry I think I missed this earlier.  Is this a stand alone game and if not what system was it for?
[20:37] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> It is for the Mongoose Publishing version of Traveller
[20:39] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Though, while I dont have any knowledge of it first hand (since the only version I have ever played has been the Mongoose version), my friends that have been playing Traveller since the old days say that its very easy to convert over to other Traveller versions.
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[20:40] <+LukeGreen> I mostly focus on the historical and plot descriptions: the fluff, in otherwords.
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[20:44] <+LukeGreen> We seem to have lost Dan and Genofoxx.
[20:44] <+GenoFoxx> I'm still here
[20:44] <~Dan> Sorry -- got called afk for a moment there.
[20:45] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Its all good. :D
[20:45] <+LukeGreen> Ah aha...sorry, didn't see your names up there.
[20:45] <~Dan> What do you think Double Spiral War offers that Traveller's default setting does not?
[20:46] <+GenoFoxx> so DSW has hovercars but no true antigravity...yet?
[20:47] <+LukeGreen> They have artificial gravity.
[20:47] <+LukeGreen> But no, they don't seem to have actual anti-gravity.
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[20:48] <~Dan> (Howdy, Abstruse!)
[20:49] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Capital ships are equipped with artificial gravity generators, powered by their FTL engines.
[20:49] <+Abstruse> (Hello...sorry I'm late)
[20:49] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> (Welcome Abstruse and pull up a chair)
[20:49] <+GenoFoxx> so is the war full on total or more like limited engagements and precision strikes from orbit
[20:49] <+LukeGreen> The smaller freighters have artificial gravity as well, but frequently turn it off to reduce power drain.
[20:50] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Full on, ship vs ship, troop vs troop and even invasion of planents
[20:50] <+LukeGreen> I'd call it total war though it has stalemated at the border colonies.
[20:51] <+GenoFoxx> by total I mean planet glassing
[20:51] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> The commanders of each side have one goal, to totally annihilate the other side.
[20:51] <+LukeGreen> Something similar is carried out by both sides at least once.
[20:52] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Yes, in one example the United Central Systems made a planet nearly uninhabitable by launching neutronic missiles at its polar caps.
[20:52] <+LukeGreen> They put neutronic missiles into the ice caps to flood the planets and leave them almost no useable land mass.
[20:53] <+LukeGreen> One of the Sondak commanders takes the same action later on as a deliberate revenge.
[20:53] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> So they are not opposed to taking out entire planets to win, the desire is to make it so that the losing side can never again wage war.
[20:54] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> (done)
[20:54] <~Dan> What's the war about, anyway?
[20:55] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Revenge
[20:55] <+LukeGreen> This war is about revenge.
[20:56] <+LukeGreen> The Sondak about 23 years prior decided that the UCS had the potential to be an economic threat and attacked them.
[20:57] <+LukeGreen> The war proved an economic drain on both sides, but the UCS was just not able to compete at the time
[20:58] <+LukeGreen> But they managed to drag it on enough that when they sued for peace, the Sondak accepted it.
[20:58] <~Dan> ......................
[20:59] <+LukeGreen> At which point they forced a number of "reparations" out of the UCS, as if they started the whole thing in the first place.
[20:59] <~Dan> (Whoops... sorry about the .
[20:59] <~Dan> ".....", rather)
[20:59] <+LukeGreen> So the current war is the UCS paying back the unprovoked attack in the past.
[21:00] <+LukeGreen> Eh, I think Sondak's actions at that time earn a "..........................."
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[21:01] <+LukeGreen> (done)
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[21:01] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> brb -- carry on
[21:01] <~Dan> Did you see my earlier question about DSW as compared to the Traveller default setting?
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[21:02] <+LukeGreen> I have not played traveler, so I really can't say unfortunately.
[21:02] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> back
[21:02] <+AWOLJoe> Are all humans in the setting citizens of either the UCS or Sondak... whateverthey'recalled?
[21:02] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> I have never played in the Traveller default setting, so I can not give it a comparison.
[21:03] <~Dan> No problem.
[21:03] <+LukeGreen> No, there are numerous neutral planets.
[21:04] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> No, there are a few neutral powers that dont fall under either government.
[21:04] <+LukeGreen> Granted, UCS and Sondak make attempts to heavily influence or outright coerce those neutrals into joining, including some small scale wars, but there are many neutrals.
[21:05] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> And a couple of times a neutral power has held its own against one of the major powers.
[21:05] <+LukeGreen> While most of the human colonies were invented after the invention of the Gouldrive FTL system, some were established prior via slow, sub-light colony ships.  So there's several planets that maintain no connection to the other humans.
[21:06] <+LukeGreen> "Invented after the invention"...lovely.   Founded after the invention*
[21:06] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> You dont even have an excuse that its late :D
[21:07] <+LukeGreen> :P
[21:08] <~Dan> Do you cover alien flora and fauna?
[21:09] <+LukeGreen> We've had some discussion of that.  The novels don't give too much information on such things, but there is a little bit here and there.
[21:09] <+LukeGreen> We're filling in the blanks ourselves with more extensive description and lists.
[21:09] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> We wont in any great detail because of the lack of information. Anything we do will be created to fill in the blanks.
[21:09] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Luke beat me to it :D
[21:10] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> From his outline and pre writing notes we can make a pretty reasonable assumption that most planets have Earthlike flora and fauna
[21:10] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> (his is Norwood, not Luke)
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[21:11] <+LukeGreen> Mr Norwood focused almost entirely on human-alien interaction and drama.  There's no encounters with dangerous wildlife.  The laser fire and missiles provide plenty of danger as it is.
[21:13] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Also we are working extensively with his widow (who was also his idea bouncer, editor, confidant) to get the right materials in there and know what was in his head at the time of the writing.
[21:15] <+LukeGreen> *nods*
[21:15] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> (done)
[21:16] <+LukeGreen> (done)
[21:16] <~Dan> How cinematic is space combat?
[21:17] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Its comparable to something like Babylon 5
[21:19] <&Hound> What game is this?
[21:19] <&Hound> DOuble Spiral War?
[21:20] <+LukeGreen> Yes.
[21:20] <+LukeGreen> It's an upcoming science fiction game.
[21:20] <+LukeGreen> The space component of the Battletech universe might also be comparable
[21:20] <~Dan> Welcome to #rpgnet, Hound!
[21:21] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Double Spiral War for Traveller, based on the novel trilogy by the late Warren C. Norwood
[21:21] <&Hound> Awesome. (Its Tim/Silverlion)
[21:22] <~Dan> (Oh, hey, Sil! :) )
[21:22] <+LukeGreen> By the standards of fighting on the ground or Star Wars, fighting is slow.  But it reads and plays out just as dramatically.
[21:22] <&Hound> (Aye.)
[21:23] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Obligatory Kickstarter link: (Link:
[21:23] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Currently it seems we are at 90%
[21:23] <+LukeGreen> Especially since "Talking is a free action" makes perfect sense in the context of the setting.
[21:23] <+LukeGreen> At least in space combat.
[21:23] <+GenoFoxx> you went up 9points since wednesday
[21:24] <+LukeGreen> Awesome.  Glad to see it running so well.
[21:29] <+LukeGreen> The battle scenes for the space combat highlight the moments of danger and shock and leave the extended bouts of maneuvering assumed.
[21:29] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> It is one of my favorite science fiction stories, another one of my favorites is also by Warren Norwood called the Windover Tapes.
[21:31] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> (done)
[21:31] <+LukeGreen> (done)
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[21:36] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> We are here all night. Any other questions?
[21:36] <+LukeGreen> Indeed, ask away.
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[21:37] <+GenoFoxx> g'night
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[21:38] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> I think we lost Dan
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[21:39] <+LukeGreen> Yeah, seems so.
[21:39] <~Dan> Sorry, I'm here!
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[21:40] <~Dan> How much support are you planning for the game?
[21:40] <+LukeGreen> Oh, I see, the list keeps putting you down with the idlers.  I understand.
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[21:41] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> At least a sourcebook on all the major players, plus source material on a veritety of things that are alluded to but not specifically mentioned in the series. Plus I have the right to the novel (which are in print via amazon and rpgnow) and we are expanding the body of work to include new novels.
[21:42] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> * variety
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[21:44] <~Dan> What is weaponry like in the setting? Are there man-portable energy weapons, for example?
[21:44] <+LukeGreen> Laser rifles are standard equipment.
[21:45] <+LukeGreen> some of the prominent military families in the UCS keep antique slug-thrower pistols for the purposes of what is essentially seppuku by gun.
[21:45] <+LukeGreen> But that cultural quirk seems to be uncommon to rare in the current setting.
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[21:45] <+LukeGreen> There are also mortars, grenades, missiles.
[21:46] <~Dan> Tanks?
[21:46] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Yes. Tracked vehicles are common in infantry landings.
[21:47] <~Dan> Power armor?
[21:47] <+LukeGreen> As are air-superiority fighters and bombers.  There doesn't seem to be a crossover of space to atmosphere craft.
[21:47] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> No.
[21:47] <+LukeGreen> No, no power armor.
[21:48] <+Kei> so I'm late to the party. what are we talking about?
[21:48] <+LukeGreen> Double Spiral War game
[21:48] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Double Spiral War for Traveller, based on the novel trilogy by the late Warren C. Norwood
[21:49] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> I need that as a macro
[21:49] <+LukeGreen> Heh.  Control-C
[21:49] <~Dan> How thoroughly do you cover vechicles of all sorts?
[21:50] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Military vehicles will be covered, along with ships. There will be some talk about civilian vehicles, but they wont get a lot of love in the core book. It is pretty much a war setting afterall.
[21:52] <+LukeGreen> Oh, there are shields of a type, but they seem limited to buildings.
[21:52] <+LukeGreen> excuse me
[21:52] <+LukeGreen> They're limited to buildings.
[21:53] <~Dan> Are there robots and/or A.I.s in the setting?
[21:54] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> There are not.
[21:54] <+LukeGreen> The Oinaise use something like that, actually.
[21:54] <+LukeGreen> Though their droids are very limited in programming.
[21:54] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Yes, the check droids. I was thinking about the human powers. :D
[21:55] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Forgive me, I have been working on the planetary atlas for the United Central Systems all week. So thats where my head is.
[21:56] <+LukeGreen> No problems.  The check droids are almost more of a flavor thing.  Part of how the Oinaise deal with their population issues. (They don't have enough citizens for all their jobs).
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[21:58] <~Dan> Is there anything you'd like to cover in the time remaining that we haven't discussed?
[22:01] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> While the setting itself is based on the novel trilogy and set in the backdrop of a galactic war, characters are not limited to war related campaigns. The setting will support whatever campaign you want to run, without affecting the setting.
[22:02] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> The campaigns are played while the events of the novels travel in the background. Unlike other settings based on novels, the characters in the book dont do all the "cool stuff" in the book, leaving a place for your characters wide open.
[22:02] <+LukeGreen> There is a lot of stuff hinted out going in the realms of civilian government on both sides, for example.  Also the rise of a third interstellar power in the form of the Neutral Alliance.
[22:02] <+Canageek2> So, is this related to the Traveller 2nd (or 3rd, I forget) book I found in my Dad's gaming collection years ago?
[22:02] <+Canageek2> By GDW I think
[22:02] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> This is using the version published by Mongoose Publishing.
[22:06] <~Dan> I need to head out for the evening, so I should probably go ahead and log the discussion there. Please feel free to hang out as long as you like, though, guys!
[22:06] <~Dan> Thanks so much for stopping by to discuss Double Spiral War!
[22:06] <+LukeGreen> Not a problem.
[22:06] <+LukeGreen> Certainly enjoyed it.
[22:06] <+Bigby> Bye Dan
[22:07] <+Jonathan_M_Thompson> Good night Dan.

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