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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Brett Favreing It

I find now that I've unburdened myself of the personal commitment to writing here that I've got all this desire to blog nonetheless.  I also find I've written "nonetheless" twice now in twenty minutes and got it wrong both times. A psychologist might have something interesting to say about the former, but he or she would probably want to start with my bed-wetting and beating of the family dog.  I kid.  About the dog.

In any event, I'd like this here webspace to remain as-is and not re-purpose it for a broader discussion on games or D&D.  So, I just started up another one, linkled below.   Robert has offered to make me a new banner and I'm taking him up on it.  If the rest of you are inclined to follow me over, I promise not to retire again in five or six months. 

A Dungeon Master's Tale

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


It should come as no surprise to those few following along still that I'm posting what should be the final blog entry here.  My writing has been sporadic and even when I do drop in to post, I muse as much about D&D as I do Traveller.  Given that, I figured I should at least try to cap this off somehow as opposed to merely shuffling off quietly into the night. 

I set out to blog for two purposes.  One, just as a writing assignment to get the juices flowing.  As a body of work it may leave something to be desired, but I am writing more now off-line so: mission accomplished.  Two, I thought perhaps this blog would hold an interest for others.  Being an old hand at RPGing but having never played nor run a Traveller game, I figured I'd have something new or fresh to add to the  discussion.  I probably failed most here, but I'm not going to fret much over it.  I enjoyed writing the blog, however short-lived, and enjoyed shooting the breeze with the handful of regulars that would drop by and discuss things both here and via e-mail.  No harm there that I can see.

To be clear, this end isn't solely due to the constraints of limited time.  (side note:  I'm taking a break from work and blogging from a flight headed to the west coast thanks to in-flight wireless... otherwise, who knows when I would have gotten around to closing up shop here?).  Of course I'm busy with work, family and life but I still find the time to game (just ask the Mrs.).  That time just isn't being spent on Traveller and consequently this blog, despite an enthusiastic start to things.  Things became clear to me recently when I found myself putting the time and energy into converting  the current Traveller campaign to a BECMI D&D one.  No joking.  I had strayed off the original path and on to a new one... and I've decided not to fight it. 

So while I'm giving up this blog and possibly blogging all-together, Pilar and Nathan will still be venturing out upon the Longshot seeking thrills and riches... only now they'll be sailing the cerulean seas of Avandar, my D&D world, and not the stars as originally planned.  What this side jaunt into Traveller did for me, aside form exposing me to a solid and venerable game,  was to shove me out of the rut that kept me from presenting a solo D&D experience that my wife and I could enjoy together.  I think I've got that problem licked now, but the proof is still several weeks away.  I'm certainly squarely back into a comfort zone as far as the setting and rules go, so I can focus more on the specific in-game stuff that will make for a fun and worthwhile experience for us both.  I don't see a lot of dungeon crawling in our future together despite my personal love for that environment.  There's plenty of other material to mine and the D&D rules can in fact support it.  Now I see that more clearly.

In closing, thanks for a good time, folks.  Best of luck to you all and good gaming. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Neophyte on Neophytes

My contention is that most current-day RPG rulebooks generally do a poor job of describing how the game is actually played and this poses the most significant barrier to entry for new players. I feel rather confident in the related belief, having observed, read and heard about how a rather wide array of people play RPGs, that we all essentially play them the same way in spite of this. Anybody out there who is purposefully trying to break this somewhat undefined paradigm need not describe how you’re going about things. That you’re trying to break something at all is proof enough for me that it exists. I’m also not really talking about individual systems and their rules considerations, or tone, or milieu, or whatever… I’m saying that when you sit down to play Traveller, or D&D, or Warhammer, or Palladium or whatever… you’re embarking upon what is essentially the same pursuit each time. You learned or developed this having been shown what to do at some point. Reading the books wasn’t a big help… at least not in and of themselves.

Think of two groups of musicians from any time and place. They will play different instruments with varying degrees of skill, utilize different idioms, know different chords or scales and express all sorts of emotions; but speed metal to avante garde noise making to chamber music to kiddie pop, they all sit down to achieve essentially the same thing together, and couldn’t have described what that was prior to having sat down at least once before to do the same. So it goes with RPGs.

Interestingly enough, books on music also do a poor job of describing how to play in my estimation. When learning to play the guitar, for instance, you can read about string bending, hammering on and playing with different sorts of emphasis without really knowing what any of it is until you’ve seen or heard it demonstrated. How do you explain to somebody in words what Frank Zappa did to his guitar?

I’m bringing this all up today because last evening my regular D&D group had the pleasure to share our game with some true, pure-as-the-driven-snow RPG neophytes. They were two bright, young men just beyond their high school years and preparing to embark upon their college ones. That in the first summer of their ostensible manhood they would choose to play D&D on a Sunday night with my crew says something about why they belong amongst us in the first place. But despite their obvious smarts, being steeped in so-called geek culture and their previous exposure to RPGs through computer and online play; they couldn’t make heads or tails out of what we do when they acquired the core rulebooks for D&D and tried reading them through (I’m not entirely sure with which edition between 3, 3.5 and 4 they tried this).

Their questions were both basic and directly relevant to the game. What does the DM really do? How much of the dungeon map is revealed to players? What gets described during the adventure? What’s important to know as a DM? As a player? Do I have to talk as if I’m my character? Can I talk as if I’m my character? These sorts of things end up not being explicitly described in the rulebooks. It’s easy to overlook them because once you’ve played the game and grasped the concept you sort of take it for granted. You must see it to know what it is. Once you’ve seen it, and understand it, you don’t generally do a whole lot of examining or describing it.

That recent editions of D&D and independently published games seem to be attempting to put an emphasis back on instruction is a good thing, I suppose. Maybe with a different edition of rules in their hands these guys wouldn’t have had to come so curious but clueless to our table. Maybe the sort of informal and in-process instruction they received from my group will always be necessary. In any event, it was a blast showing them the ropes and I hope that they got out of it what they were looking for. I also hope that their curiosity becomes a full-fledged interest, whether it is pursued at my table or elsewhere, because they were smart, fun people to play with. This world can always use more of those types.   That their curiosity in the game could have diminished without every getting to experience a session is a shame.  What to do?  Build RPG outreach programs?  Probbaly not.  I dunno. 

Helping them out was me doing my part.  It also got me to thinking about my own first experiences with the hobby, reinforcing my belief that most RPG books are crap for describing play. It was a hot summer night on a neighbor’s back porch. His parents were two rooms away watching a Phillies game, oblivious that we were about to embark on a dangerous excursion to ruined Mistamere, the abode of Bargle the Warlock. The DM, a kid two years our senior, was the sort of wonderfully fair prick that makes adventuring tough but worth it. I was a thief. Raven. I drew a picture of a raven on the character sheet in the event an observer didn’t understand what I precisely meant. I was cool like that as a pre-teen.

I had my own D&D red box in less than a week. As I read through it, to better understand the rules behind all of those dice I was rolling, it was with having two full sessions already under my belt. I don’t know how much sense it would have all made lacking that. The red box was, and is, a rather clear and concise introduction to the hobby of role-playing. Just grasping the idea of not necessarily having a playing board might have been a broad leap for me at that time.

Anyway, I'm not really sure what I'm trying to express here other than documenting and sharing a memorable gaming experience that occured last night, leading me into a bout of nostalgia.  (Those likewise stirred with mentions of Bargle and Mistamere may find this to be of interest.)  I suppose just think a bit on how you got introduced to gaming and whether or not the books were big help aside from being a rules reference.  Tell me about it below.  Also, if a neophyte or two bothers to ask you about what it is you do... just show them.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Role Playing Games?

It has been a rather intense week at work.  I've just gotten through three days of the good kind of meetings, Tuesday through yesterday.  What that means is ten hour work-days locked away in a sterile conference room with a handful of admirably bright people trying to solve problems together.  I mean it, it was great.  We did reasonably well.  If the constraints of working for a large corporation whose leadership lacks balls and vision isn't too much to overcome, we'll actually accomplish something this year.  These last three days are what keep me coming back to this job.  I got to define, ponder and put forth solutions to problems this week.

I bring this up for two reasons.  One, I haven't done a damn thing on the trade system.  I went home every night these past three days and spent the waking hours with my family.  When the sun went down I sat alone drinking a bottle or two of beer, strummed the guitar and prepared myself mentally for the next day.  The other reason this all seems so relevant to me is that Alexis recently posted something over at Tao regarding RPG character cliches.  He hit the nail on the head, as is his wont to do. 

Accepting that others will get out of this game something entirely different than me perhaps, I know non-the- less what it is REALLY all about.  We want to solve problems.  We want to be clever and creative and in the end walk away with the prize because we deserve it... we won it.  This isn't a kids game.  A kids game is the charade I sleep-walk through most days of the work week.  The kids game is shambling from meeting to meeting to hear the same stupid shit I heard last week, or to go home and pretend to care while my neighbor drones on about lawn care or his kid's swim meet.  This game, whatever specific THIS GAME you're talking about,  is about solving problems.  At least that's why I keep coming back to it year after year after year and that's why it seems so much more relevant then whatever work-a-day routine I need to fall back into after three days of exhausting bliss.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Post Session Report 3: Back in the Saddle

After a too-long hiatus from actually playing the game, my wife and I returned to the MTU this past weekend. You can check here and there for the first two sessions, if you like. The condensed version is as follows: Pilar (my wife’s character) and Nathan (her NPC partner) were aboard their modified Type A scout ship, the Longshot, and headed outbound from the Ovuurn System. The pair had just delivered much needed spare parts to the belter’s colony there and was now deciding a course between leaving Ovuurn all-together or returning to an eerily dark and dangerous research station in distress at the outskirts of the system. The lone occupant encountered there during a brief exploration was shot through the chest with a laser blast when he attacked Pilar. Given his bizarre physical and mental state, the assailant (Dr. Fines) was possibly under the influence of some foreign or chemical agent.

Apparently not wishing to risk further harm to themselves or others without reasonable cause (or profit), and suspecting that whatever was happening aboard the station was indeed quite dangerous on many levels, they  decided to leave Ovuurn. As an aside, I’m trying to have Nathan Khyber, the NPC, be more than some dice rolls to fly the ship around. To that effect, he was a little more involved in the decision making this session without actually making the decisions on what to do. I’m still concerned about steering the game too much from my side of the screen, but things did go much better and my wife was more engaged in discussing things now that she got more than non-committal shrugs from her partner. Hey, there’s some great relationship advice somewhere in there…

The Llewellyn system, one jump away, was where the crew would receive payment for the Ovuurn job (just enough credits to cover their monthly costs). Returning to Llewellyn and getting paid was accomplished with ease. Finding the next job, however, proved to be difficult. Rather than wait it out, the pair decided that the Longshot should head core-ward a few parsecs to the Loki system, where a previous tip from an old acquaintance indicated that they could earn many times the going freight rate by smuggling contraband onto the rather restrictive world of Agape.

The trip would be three jumps in duration for the Longshot and would cross a sparsely settled and travelled area of the subsector. The first jump was inaccurately made (bit not a misjump), so the crew and ship spent an additional day or so travelling to the system’s gas giant. Here they collected and processed fuel before jumping out, with nary another ship detected the entire time. Upon arriving at the next system, Tyr, the Longshot’s active sensors picked up what appeared to be a tight debris field or a derelict ship (initial sensor check was not conclusive enough to indicate which). Hoping for the opportunity at some salvage and a subsequent improving of their finances, the Longshot approached the object or objects with care.

Upon closer examination, it indeed turned out to be a derelict Type A Free Trader. The ship was not responding to communication attempts and appeared to be powered down. Some scoring and burn marks on the exterior hull indicated that it had likely seen some kind of trouble, but none of it seemed indicative of the kind and amount of damage required to cripple such a craft. The crew decided to attempt a boarding by mating the airlocks, an easy task made difficult since the other ship was drifting. Nathan Khyber believed it within his piloting ability, and (barely) made his roll to safely join.

Both Nathan and Pilar suited up and armed themselves to investigate the drifting ship. Upon gaining the other ship’s airlock they noted that it had already been overridden from the outside and could be opened with ease. They weren’t the first to come this way. The ship beyond was without gravity, but life-support was on-line and operating as indicated by the airlock’s control panel. As the airlock finished cycling, the team entered the derelict amidst pale emergency lighting. These barely but adequately lit the compartments beyond  to navigate in the zero-G.

The crew’s common area was empty save for some floating debris such as errant foodstuff, containers and holodiscs. Pilar wanted to check out the cargo hold first so the pair made their way aft rather than investigate the nearby bridge or staterooms. There the duo discovered a compartment packed with unmolested freight containers. A brief survey revealed some to be filled with engine parts for petroleum-based technology and others filled with pre-packaged foodstuff. Forgoing a more thorough search of the remaining containers, the pair moved further aft. They were now in search of the engine room but came instead to a bulkhead at what would otherwise be the midpoint of the cargo hold on this class of ship. A brief search over the stacked and secured freight containers revealed a door on this bulkhead toward the starboard side of the ship.

The compartment beyond the door was approximately the same size and dimensions of the cargo hold, but was filled with rows and rows of cryogenic low-berths. Pilar estimated perhaps 120 in total. A search of the space revealed most of them (over 100) to be empty. The remaining units contained the passengers that apparently did not survive the resuscitation process. One unit was curiously functioning but contained only a set of the plain, grey coveralls that the other low berth passengers wore, arrayed as if one such passenger were still lying within.

The partners decided to try to open the low berth containing the coveralls, and as it began to cycle (a process that I decided would take several minutes) Pilar passed a recon check that I asked for and noticed some movement over her right shoulder, toward the aft end of the compartment. Turning about, she saw nothing more than the rows of low-berth units and the access ladder for the passenger deck above. She informed Nathan of the movement and decided to investigate the access while the berthing unit completed the opening process. Nathan, doing his best to find cover in zero-G, trained his auto pistol toward the hatch while Pilar approached it.

The hatch above was open and the shaft beyond appeared to lead to both the passenger deck and the gun turret above that. By the time Pilar gained the next deck the low berth had completed its cycle. Other then the coveralls, it appeared to be empty to Nathan, who passed this information over the comm. Joining his partner above, the pair then searched the passenger deck.

What they found was rather grisly; mid-berth passengers in staterooms and along the passageway, dead from apparent gunshot wounds and floating in zero-G. The common area had been ransacked for food; several wrappers and empty containers floated all about. The steward’s stateroom appeared to have recently been occupied. The bunk here had been rigged with clothing belts and cargo straps as if to secure one occupying the bed, though the space was empty save the personal effects of its original occupant.

The pair quickly but cautiously made their way to engineering, where the power plant and drives appeared to be down hard. This compartment was occupied by a strangely configured robot of a kind with which neither Nathan nor Pilar were familiar. It was capable of verbal communication and aware enough to provide a status report for the ship. Both the engineering plant and the bridge were down hard, reportedly the result of a tactical electro-magnetic pulse (EMP). Emergency life support and lighting were being powered from a hardened battery back-up system that resisted the EMP but was close to being spent.

An investigation of the bridge confirmed the report. All systems here were also apparently dead. The remains of four crew members were seated about the bridge, also dead but with no obvious cause of such. Nathan surmised they were electrocuted. Lacking the ability to access the ship’s electronic log from here, but hoping that some of that data survived, Pilar sought to retrieve the data storage device from the bridge computer. This was successfully accomplished with a Computers check, but the actual data retrieval, if possible, would have to wait.

At this point the pair decided that given the ship's condition there was nothing more to do other than salvage the more valuable cargo from the ship’s hold and make a getaway. The respective cargo holds of the ships were opened and the more valuable cargo (determined to be 18 tons of personal and commercial computing devices) were passed from the derelict to the Longshot. The latter’s cargo capacity of 18 tons is due to modifications made to the ship. Once the final freight container was shuttled over, Nathan Khyber stayed aboard the Longshot to finish securing the containers and prepare for flight while Pilar returned to the bridge of the derelict to retrieve the data storage device and leave through the airlock.

Before accessing the Type A’s airlock a final time, a voice called out to Pilar, “Take me with you.” Turning about she saw a rather thin human boy, somewhere in his teens and dressed in a loose-fitting vac suit sans gloves and helmet. When she questioned him, he claimed to not be able to speak, only emit the inarticulate grunts of a mute. Upon further reflection, she realized the voice couldn’t have come from the boy… it was not muffled from the vac suit helmet. It was as if the voice sounded right into her ear… over the comm?  Into her head? She couldn’t be certain now that she actually heard anything at all. Turning to the strange robot, which had followed her about during the evolution of moving cargo, she asked who the boy was.

“A passenger.”

“From where?”

“Berth 112.”

(Over the comm. Channel) “Nathan… do you remember what berth number we opened?”


The boy and the robot followed Pilar onto the Longshot.


Sorry if that was a lot. I’m writing this down as much for my purposes as for any potential reader. You see, none of the above was necessarily part of any kind of preconceived plan on my part. I really did expect my wife to give the research station on Ovuurn another try. I mean, who can resist space zombies, right? Given this belief, and that the station was essentially this… I was prepared. In the event that she decided to skip it, I was also prepared… there would be a possibility that another job cropped up on Llewellyn (I’ve got a random table) or she could follow one of the other leads provided during the first session. Since the smuggling work had always represented an opportunity with great upside, I figured she’d make it that way eventually or I’d come up with some other carrot or stick to make things interesting. I knew enough about what was going on between the Loki and Agape systems to fill up a session if need be.

But before we got there we rolled a random encounter in the Tyr system and came up with a derelict ship with some decent salvage. We paused the session at this point. More accurately, we actually split it into two sessions: Friday and Sunday. Friday ended up being about getting the dice and books out and reminding each other where we left off (the previous post-session reports on this blog were valuable for this) and getting into the swing again. It had been a rather long day for me and by the time we got around to playing I was pretty spent and having trouble focusing. By the time we sat down Sunday, I was recharged and had figured out the parts about the low berths, the full cargo hold, the boy, the robot and the dead passengers and crew.   There's a case for not toughing it out, I suppose... for only playing when you know you can.

I had managed to turn a one line entry on a random table into a mystery, and was actually rather proud of having done so. We've got a ship set adrift, apparently the target of some sophisticated EMP attack.  Its reasonably valuable cargo is intact, it's 100+  low berths are mostly empty, there are several dead passengers and crew; a lone, somewhat strange survivor and a myopic robot of unknown origin.  I have done this sort of riffing at times in D&D (with mixed results, admittedly) but this was the first time I had pulled it off in Traveller. Granted, I had an extra day to sort things out and there were a few inconsistencies as things got presented that I mostly talked my way out of, but here we were, playing way off of any kind of scripted event and in some ways making it up as we went... and it's so far potentially the most campaign-altering event to date.  There wasn't any gun play and only a few skill rolls made here and there, but we managed to create some tension and even wonder as the ship was explored and details uncovered.  There are some immediate things my wife is now considering aside from getting to Loki and finding work.  There are events afoot, BIG events, that the crew of the Longshot is now mixed up in... all off the cuff and all originating from a random encounter.  I'd say it was a successful return to the game after our hiatus, and we both can't wait to play again to see where it goes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I'm still cranking on the trade system.  My aim is to present something analogous to Alexis's grain and gold post here that explains how I'm adapting what's there to Traveller.  The bulk of the work now is coming up with a comprehensive enough list of raw materials and finished products without developing a completely comprehensive list.  Time and again I marvel at the effort, time and attention to detail that must underlie the finished product Alexis has presented.  I often find myself backing off on the types of inquiries he's hinted at diving right into.  How much and what specific raw materials should be  required to manufacture a jump drive?  What could I compare it to in present day technology?  A nuclear reactor, a massive jet turbine or something else entirely?  How much petroleum could an earth-like planet of 3/4ths the size of earth reasonably produce given a native tech level of x but access to tech level y?  What is used for in MTU?  What's rarer than lanthanum but still a plausible element that could be required for drive-building?  Each question begs fifty more.  I can see why and how it took him years and access to a university library plus to compile what he has.   Don Quixote indeed. 

I also received one of the books recommended last week in the mail earlier this week, and am giving it the once-over.  I also got completely distracted revising my magic system for D&D for a few days, only to go back to the way I have it.  Sometimes I've got the attention span of a 6-month old terrier.

So... the next Tackling the Tao post will probably be posted next week, where I show my subsector map and run through some examples.  There should also be a post-session recap and another World Profile up at that time.   Which reminds me, I've pretty much exhausted my small supply of already-worked-on-worlds and now need to whittle my notes on the rest down into more concise entries... are the articles actually benefiting anybody out there? 


 I'm also working on something for Zhodani Bases's 76 Patrons Contest.  If you're not aware of it, follow the link. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tackling the Tao Part One: Thoughts on Establishing the Currency Standard for MTU

That this topic has generated more discussion than all of the others combined is encouraging for me. If I need any further motivation to continue posting about rather than privately developing this with my occasional begging of help from Alexis, there it is. So thanks.

I approached this all with the full intent of posting my first essay on implementation today. I realize now that I'm not quite ready. For one, I need to translate my pen and paper maps digitally for demonstration purposes. For another, I haven’t run through the process quite enough so that I’m comfortable speaking to it. For thirds, I've got a D&D game Sunday to prep for... and maybe a Traveller game tomorrow.  That’s not to say, however, that there is nothing worthy of posting or reading about. It’s just that plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy. We adjust. We adapt. We overcome.

And progress has been made.

For starters, I’ve decided that there will be a material standard backing the Imperial credit and it will be some kind of “unobtanium”. I was beginning to lean that way and recently re-reading my initial post about MTU was the final straw. I’ve copied an excerpt below:

“The Imperium. Yes it does exist. On the surface it’s not a whole lot different from what I understand to be the features of the OTU’s 3rd Imperium. Scratch the surface, though, and you see a confederation of human-dominated client worlds affiliated under an Imperial Bureaucracy that is only a few centuries old. This order was founded after a long period of limited inter-stellar communications between the nations of Earth and their affiliated stellar colonies. An economic collapse on Earth brought on by a bloated planetary financial system spurred the colonies, increasingly self-reliant and more desirous of self-rule, to declare independence from their parent nations. Many years later, as Earth had recovered, a successful military coup established that planet’s current central government. A reinvigorated military-industrial complex moved outward to re-conquer the former colonies. These Unification Wars established the Imperium as it is today in the MTU. Its nobility are the descendants of military commanders and senior corporate officials.”

The bloated financial system referred to above could be one beset by the problems of a floating inter-system currency and short-sighted monetary management and policy. When the Earth government re-established itself, it was with it in mind that the currency would be fixed to a material standard. This material, rare in the galaxy, is a required element for the manufacture and operation of jump drives. The fuel is free, yes, but you need “unobtanium” to make it do anything. What that all amounts to in technical terms can be techno-babbled or figured out later. The important part for our economy is that this thing is needed for inter-stellar travel, but the actual consumable fuel remains hydrogen. Therefore, the Power that would presume to govern at an inter-stellar level would need to control the access to and distribution of this material and when determining their hard currency, could logically relate its objective value to a certain amount of this material.

This, of course, isn’t the first time this concept has been embraced in science fiction, possibly most famously in Dune (all due respect to Mr. Cameron and his film that I have yet to see). It’s great from my perspective because it not only adds some depth and verisimilitude to my economic system, it also provides oodles of great hooks, motivations and background details for the game. The party (player) stumbles upon a small cache of unobtanium… two systems are at war over mining rights for a newly found source of unobtanium… pirates have been successfully raiding heavily guarded cargo ships hauling valuable loads of unobtanium… the mining of unobtanium was halted on Shithole IV due to an outbreak of (disease, native unrest, volcanic activity, etc…). Those hooks all existed before, but now they mean something and have far-reaching effects. They become just the sort of status-quo altering events that players worth their salt should be getting involved in somehow, if the campaign is to be a memorable one. Why muck around trying to pay the mortgage hauling spare parts and dilettantes around the sector when one big score of unobtanium will set you up for life? Swing for the fences, people.

I’ll change the name of this unobtanium at some point. I’m not trying to be cute.

But before I do that, a few things need to be determined. How much unobtanium is there… how much unobtanium is one credit worth…how many credits are in circulation? Am I missing anything?

I haven’t yet decided, by the way. I don’t want to do so off-hand or casually. But let’s explore it a bit. A gram of gold appears to be selling lately for $38 USD. I’ve read somewhere that an Imperial credit is about the purchasing power of $5 USD current day. Let’s just go with the latter and bump the former up to an even $40. So gold’s value in Traveller credits would be 8 credits for a gram. How much more relatively valuable should unobtanium be? 10 times? 100 times? 1000 times? Why not a million times? I mean, we’re talking about the ability to bend space here…

My next step in zeroing in on something tangible will be to do some research on how much gold there is (or should be), how much jump drives cost in the Mongoose rulebook, figure out how much unobtanium is required for each kind of drive and then figure out some numbers from there. Comments welcome below.