Over Labor Day I’ll be running two sessions of a Classic Traveller at the Gateway game convention in Los Angeles.
As is my way, I’m putting together the tables for the Referee Screen. I’ve always found that building a screen helps me learn the overall rules and see now little details fit together in ways I hadn’t noticed before.
I think the Savage Worlds Screen is brilliant. It’s trifold, black vinyl landscape job, with six pockets (three in the front, and three in the back) that let you insert sheets of paper. Although it’s more expensive than a single cardstock screen, I can use it again and again for different games. Also, to repeat, they’re landscape… so I don’t feel like I’m barricading myself against my players. But I do get to hide secret things for them to find–which I think is important for the style of play I’m playing. It’s part of the magic show.
For the front pockets, I made a collage of images from LotFP products and ended up with this:
(I no longer see the value of putting tables on the front of the screen toward the players. They’re always too far away and can’t reference the information easily.)
Then in the back I placed one reference sheet of rules tables in the left pocket.
The rules tables are things for reaction rolls, combat, and movement… the stuff that I always have to look up because it’s all little wrigley numbers that I can never remember and never want to look up because that stuff is always used when things are most interesting, intense, and exciting. (“Why not make it up?” someone is asking from the back. “Well,” I reply, “because this is the stuff that puts constraints on both myself and the Players. By using specific and set rules and numbers everyone knows what the risks and advantages are of different choices. And I like that.”)
The other two pockets facing me are notes for the specific adventures I’m running. Again, things that I want to just be able to glance at and move on without having to pick up a book and flip through pages of material: names of NPCs, random encounter tables, and so on.
Here’s what the back looked like for The God That Crawls:
And here’s what it looked like for Better Than Any Man:
You can click on either of the above images for a better look at the information on each sheet.
So, for example, that Better Than Any Man has seven key NPCs, each with a name, a nickname, a key spell, and a familiar. I had read through the material several times, but the entire scenario swirls around them and I new I’d never keep them all straight. The PCs can visit or confront them in the town of Karlstadt in any order. They can try to dig up dirt on them, cast spells to learn more about them, and so on, bouncing back and forth between them. So having that central sheet in front of me meant I had the key details ready to roll at a moment’s notice.
Meanwhile, the second page covers the vital timeline of the adventure so I don’t lose track of that. And I’ve got the random encounter table in front of me, which is checked once a day as the PCs travel the landscape.
Also, I have a picture of my dog Coco ready to rock the house from behind the screen just before game time, so now you have to look at that.
NOW FOR THE TRAVELLER STUFF
Below are the two sheets I made, pulling information from The Traveller Book. (I did a little bit of reformatting and condensing.) On these two pages I’ve got everything I need to handle rolls for Surprise, Random Encounter rolls, Encounter Ranges, Combat details, Morale, Ranges, and more.
Again, this is the stuff I want right in front of me when I’m running the game so I don’t have to stop and look something up just as the PCs are on the verge of getting into a dustup with some outlaws looking for the same treasure they’re after.
You’ll notice this is all Player Characters on straightforward adventure stuff. There’s nothing about Trade rolls, nothing about Starship battles. That’s because I’m not going to be dealing with that stuff next weekend. This is me getting my bearings on a game that I’ve been taking apart for a year, but haven’t really dug into in play.
If and when I get my Traveller campaign going (work and lots of other games already in progress might keep that at bay for a little bit), I’ll start with these sheets and some straightforward PC adventures to get things rolling. Then, if it looks like we’re heading into directions that will require rolls for Trade or Starship combat, I’ll make up those sheets and slip them in as needed. I’ll be able to switch back and forth to have at hand whatever kind of information I want to focus on for a given night.
If you like what you see, here’s the link to the PDF version of the two sheets above.
And if you catch any errors, please let me know!