Way back in the distant mists of 1983-1985, I was young teen who was totally hooked on role-playing games. Alas, at the time, I had yet to discover my first real gaming group. With a friend of mine in 6th grade, I stumbled on the Moldvay Basic set almost my accident and when that friend moved on to other things, I found a slightly older mentor down the streets who brought me into AD&D. But that slightly older friend soon found other slightly older friends and I was left to tinker with various games until early in my sophomore year, when I would finally meet the guys who would come to form the core of a tight-knit gaming group and that remain among my closest friends to this day.
But back to that interregnum between groups. I was lucky, I guess. Without anybody to play with, I could have fallen out of the hobby. But I was bookish, a bit shy, and absolutely fascinated by both the fantasy/escapist element and the nuts-to-bolts of the rule systems.
And so, I spent much of my time with Traveller. Character generation was a game in itself and one that didn’t require a game master. Then there was the world-building. I can’t begin to recall how many hours I spent generating star systems and filling out subsector maps. And the spaceships! My proto-engineering self adored the spaceship creation rules. I remember writing my first computer programs on my Commodore 64 to handle all three of these subsystems.
And that’s something that you don’t usually see in today’s games - subsystems that are games in themselves and that lend themselves to this kind of hobbyist tinkering.
Anyway, I bring this all up because I’ve been kind of on a hobbyist tinkering kick for the last few days. My Slaying Solomon session got called on account of the plague. And having a little bit of extra time by myself, I indulged a long-simmering desire to create some GURPS Spaceships and GURPS Mass Combat spreadsheets for my Knights of the Astral Sea game. Nothing terribly polished yet (and certainly nothing that is remotely ready to share), but something that is already helping me generate airships and manage belligerent forces across the Multiverse. We had been using Gurps Vehicles do do our airships, but I had been wondering if Spaceships could simplify things. Well, with Spaceships 7 and Pyramid 30 and Pyramid 34, I finally have the tools (gas bags, combustion engines, mass combat stats) to make it worthwhile.