It's another light, mixed post like the first miscellanea post back in September.
Got some good feedback on the proposed trope-based VBAM races from the VBAM yahoo group, so here are the updates on those:
Bugs: Swapping out Stalwart Defenders for Aggressive (all owned ground units gain +1 attack) and Hungry Hungry Hydralisks (when genociding enemy census, you gain 20% more EPs than normal). This generates a much more offensively-scary, all-devouring species of bug, rather than the turtling-type bugs in the older version.
Bots: General consensus on the yahoo group is that Robotic is overpowered as a result of being able to build lots of census wherever they want. Thus, probably swapping in Cybernetic (like robotic, but can't build census, lower population maintenance, and not collective-only government) and some other small bonus... not sure what to do for that yet. Possibly Efficient Industry (+10% construction capacity on all owned planets), something military, or a social trait like Closed Society.
Savages: Only suggestion on this one was to allow varying of the military traits to differentiate different savage empires. Easily done on the fly.
Puppeteers: Agreed that these are probably nerfed, and suggested adding a small bonus to Sneaky like ability to modify scenario length up or down by 1.
Merchants: Not much here... suggestion to add non-player empires for the Puppeteers and Merchants to spend their free diplomatic intel on, and for the Merchants to trade with, but that's not really a species trait change.
So that about covers the VBAM stuff... unfortunately, the more I think about VBAM-Traveller integration, the more issues I run into, particularly with economic and planetary scales. Traveller population, for example, grows exponentially, while VBAM population grows linearly, and then there's the ugly question of "How many megacredits is an EP worth?". These issues, combined with trepidation on Matt's part with regards to reading all of VBAM's rules, suggest that maybe a straight Traveller game would be a better plan. I've had a premise for such a campaign on the back burner for a while, so maybe that'll see play next semester (with prep and handout construction over winterbreak).
Finally, I was thinking about Space Hulk and Alien Swarm in the shower today. Space Hulk is a classic Games Workshop game which pits a squad or two of marines with guns against terrifyingly fast aliens who are deadly in melee. The game is heavily skewed in favor of the aliens, but this means that when the humans do win, there's usually a hell of a story to go along with it. Alien Swarm, on the other hand, was a short-lived freebie game from Valve which pitted four human players of marines with guns against a swarm of mostly-weak melee aliens, with a few special / scarier genotypes around to mix things up (parasites.... urrrrgh...). It was a significantly less lethal games than Space Hulk for the humans, but was a lot of fun. The multiplayer community has mostly died off, though, which is sad, so I'm kind of curious if I can tweak Space Hulk / 40k to run something similar to Alien Swarm without getting bogged down in massive complexity like Deathwatch did.