I’ve been posting a lot about a “New OSR”, an attempt to encourage others to build a community and produce gaming material for the Cepheus Engine (open source Traveller). Introduction post here. List of Cepheus rulesets here.
In this post, I wanted to list a lot of the resources and tools I’ve found useful for designing Cepheus settings. The idea being, a designer could mix and match rules from these to create the world they envision. There’s no way this is complete, so I’d be happy to hear your additions.
Archaic Firearms from Zozer games deals with early firearms – Flintlocks, Wheellocks, Matchlocks. etc., along with early black-power artillery. This is a perfect supplement if you’re designing a Early Modern European, or Colonial American setting, or any setting with primitive firearms.
From Zozer games. An excellent resource of melee weapons, with more detailed rules for various hand weapons. For example, spears provide an initiative bonus, some weapons can hook or entangle targets, and parrying is possible. If you’re running a fantasy or ancient historical setting and want crunchier, more realistic combat, this is a must buy. It also includes rules for mounted combat and medieval/ancient siege weapons.
If you’re interested in designing vehicles for Cepheus from the ground up, and not just making up stats, there are two published vehicle design systems available.
Cepheus Engine Vehicle Design System: From Samaradan Press, the creators of the original SRD.
Vehicle Design Guide: From Moon Toad publishing.
Both of these are quite similar in rules, but the Moon Toad book has extra rules for different vehicle types, and a lot more sample vehicle designs.
A simple one-page rules supplement from Michael Brown. It doesn’t contain a lot of detail on any specific martial arts, just a framework for creating your own. It separates martial arts into Hard and Soft, and discusses how to add locks, holds, and throws to melee combat.
Cepheus Magic Systems
Magic systems is one of the areas where I think Cepheus is a little weak. There are, however, a few interesting ones worth mentioning.
Sword of Cepheus: Uses a foci based system, with a long list of spells of escalating levels of difficulty. Spells are divided in to white, grey, and black. Casting grey and black spells can cause corruption.
Barbaric!: A simplified version of the Sword of Cepheus magic rules, with a simplified spell list. Players roll their Sorcery skill to cast. Critical failures can result in a roll on a Mishap table.
Cepheus Modern: This Cepheus variation has Urban Fantasy rules, including magic rules. Adds a Magic (MAG) characteristic. Players can get magical talents like skills – Augmentation, Enchantment, Sense, Sorcery, Transmogrification, Transportation. Each talent has a series of powers. MAG must be spent to cast any of them
Flynn’s Guide to Magic in Traveller: Designed for Traveller, but will work for Cepheus as well. It’s probably the most detailed Cepheus-compatible magic system available. There’s a magic skill that can be broken down into specializations: Attack, Charm, Create, Cure, Defend, Divine, Illusion, Move, Transform, Suppress and Summon. Spells can be cast from predefined rituals, or can be made up on the spot with spontaneous spells. There are of course, rules for creating magic items, and a list of sample spells.
Fast Magic: Adds Magic, Alchemy, Artifice, and Calligraphy skills. There’s a Mage career. There’s no spell list. The effect and nature of the spell is negotiated between the player and GM. Players pay a cost in END to cast spells. There are rules for creating magic items, along with examples, and rules for Spirit combat.
2d6 Magic: A small rules light book by Michael Brown. All spells are negotiated, and the GM sets the difficulty level based on the type of magic (Communication, Divination, Apportation, Transportation, Transformation, Realization), the range, and other factors. There are rules for familiars and magic items.
As far as I know, this 14 page booklet from Michael Brown is the only set of superpower rules available for Cepheus. It adds a PWR stat, and a method to create powers similar to Brown’s 2d6 Magic supplement (see above)
A wilderness survival supplement, intended for Hostile, the near future Cepheus setting by Zozer Games. It includes hexcrawl rules, event tables and survival rules for different climates, and various equipment lists.
Gamelords’ Environment Books
These are particular favorites of mine. As I mentioned in the first New OSR post, there are decades of old Traveller books to pull ideas and rules from. A particularly interesting example are the Environments books Gamelords put out in the 1980s for Classic Traveller. Each provides detailed rules for a particular kind of physical environment. They’re all still available in PDF.
The Undersea Environment: Rules for underwater exploration, including pressure, decompression, and underwater exploration. Decent list of underwater equipment. Excellent resource for a Blue Planet/The Abyss style game.
The Desert Environment: It has descriptions of all of the various types of desert terrain. Rules for desert survival are included, as are rules for all the bad things that can happen to a character in the desert (heat stroke, sandstorms, mirages, etc). If you want to run a Dune campaign in Cepheus, this is how you do it.
The Mountain Environment: Lots of RPG settings have mountains, but this is the only set of rules that have in-depth rules for rock climbing; including rules to map mountain routes, effects of altitude and weather, and lists of mountaineering equipment.
If you’re going to run a military-themed setting, Zozer’s Modern War has all the rules you’d need. There are squad-level combat rules, battlefield hazards, and detailed military character creation rules. There are, of course, many stats for modern guns and military vehicles.
This is a Traveller setting book from Modiphius. The original Traveller universe was very much inspired by mid-20th Century sci-fi, with feudal interstellar empires, jump drives, psionics, etc. Mindjammer is much more inspired by 21st century transhumanist sci-fi. It’s got rules for virtual realities, AI, memetics, and all sorts of far future tech. If you’re making any kind of transhumanist style universe, this is a must buy.
The Cepheus Journal is a free zine dedicated to the Cepheus Engine in all its forms. You can download them all here. Each issue has new rules, background articles, new creatures & equipment, and fiction. As of this post, they’re up to issue #11. I’ve contributed a few things myself over the last year.
/r/cepheusengine – The Reddit board for all things Cepheus
Cepheus Engine Forum – Cepheus web forum. Not particularly busy. Hopefully that’ll change.
1,000,001 Characters – a Cepheus Engine character generator. Lots of options.
Cepheus Light Character Generator – simple one-character random generator for Cepheus Light
I’ve made a lot of custom character sheets, including a lot of Cepheus sheets. If you wanted to make your own, here’s a post about the basics of creating a fillable sheet. I’ve also made a post on Cepheus-specific calculations for character sheets.
Next, I’m going to try to put some of this in practice, and start designing some simple Cepheus settings using these resources.