The James McCameron Star Frontiers Library
The Star Frontiers Virtual Science Project
I think the main reason people play rpg's is to think, imagine, and take part in adventure. To this end I have recognized several topics in my studies that can be adapted for use as puzzles inside the rpg framework. Imagine the next time your 4th level computer-expert Dralasite tries to hack into a computer and your faced with a logic puzzle based on real circuits principles! At SciCon 99 I leveled such problems at the players and after a short learning period they were beating every puzzle I threw at them! The look of pride as they felt ownership of the accomplishments in the game was priceless! Those guys were using their heads and feeling what it was like to do all the work their characters were doing. Very amazing. Below are some of the puzzle systems I've worked out for use with SF rules. Every one of them can be plopped into a game with ease and only requires a little work on the GM's part to make sure he/she has solutions worked out for every puzzle beforehand and can work through them for the players.
- Logic Decoders allow you to input a few binary digits to control the output of
machines - a brief overview of the input-output relationships shows you how all three decoders work.
- Logic Gates control the binary values of signals using simple math. Once again, a little review can show you how they work in a snap.
- Sample Logic Gate Problem as used at SciCon. Just input 1's on all four inputs and ask the players to trace through the wires to give you the output numbers. Nice puzzle for players hacking into systems, unlocking doors, etc.
- Soft Science Chemistry Table is a drastic abstraction of the real periodic table but sets up simple rules to make it interesting every time a PC wants to scan particles, mix chemicals to make weapons, figure out properties, etc. It also allows the GM a device to use in games that isn't so obvious as 'you found chemical X'.
- Geoscanner Grid works with the chem table to allow environmentalists the chance to scan samples and determine what elements are present. The table look-up scheme is based on binary numbers. Just use a calculator to convert a given string of 1's and 0's to a regular number and feed that number to the player. Have him or her convert the number back to binary and look up the element on the table. Simple, but it conveys a feeling that they did the work and is more fun that just spoon-feeding them the information.
- 4x4x4 Logic Puzzle Grid is a form for using a logic puzzle like the kind you see in gaming magazines. It's easy - just come up with four objects with 2 sets of characteristics about them you want ascribed to them through deductive reasoning and place them on the grid. Then seed the adventure with clues that will allow the PC's to systematically use process of elimination to link the clues together. Perhaps there are four guys Al, Bill, Carl, and Dean that have shirts colored red, blue, orange, and green and are arriving 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th at a party. Just feed them clues that help them figure out which guy has which shirt and shows up in which order. Rough example, I know, but you get the point. Fill in your own sci-fi clues of intrigue!
- State Diagram shows an example of a 'machine' that has a predictable set of outputs for every input. Using the colorful graphics and the table, one can trace an input-output relationship for every possibility.
- Example Finite State Machine shows a specific example of a 'machine' that has a predictable set of outputs for every input. Throw this at a player and there may be some head-scratching at first, but if they use the table provided they should be able to predict the states and outputs for any input sequence.
- State Tables form for solving State Machines
- Boolean Math shows how to solve simple boolean expressions by using a Truth Table
- Truth Tables form for solving boolean algebra
- Timing Tutorial shows how digital logic timing schemes work
- Venn Diagrams another logic puzzle
Star Frontiers, the setting, any published material and any images from the rules are all copyrights and trademarks of TSR, Inc., and appear here only for private informational or educational purposes. All other materials are the property of their authors.
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