May 202017

Urban threats are random items you might find in any abandoned fantasy or science fiction metropolis.

Ghost dogs

[][] fair: dog [Dark Mastif]

Stunt: dog +2 stealth in the dark.

Pack birds

[] average: bird [Pack hunting flightless bird]

Pack bird Alpha

[][] fair: bird [aspect alpha bird is smart!]

Stunt: Bird +2 to create advantage using leadership vs. notice

Posted by Lodger
Aug 302010

Hello Lodgers,

August is here and it’s record-breaking cool here. I took a slight break to read up on The Dresden Files by Evil Hat Productions.

Technically this isn’t a review. Oh, I could go on and on about the books and their appearance. (Gorgeous.) Or, I could mention the price. (Reasonable but ouch.) The layout is clean and so on. But, I imagine that these things have been noted numerous times elsewhere.

Instead I will travel into uncharted waters: experiments in system and exploration of the outer range of what can be. Some of which, hopefully, will be of interest to those looking for inspiration.

The rules lay out some “templates” for characterization, all of which are taken from the series of books from which the game takes its name.

It is implicit in the text that these templates are guidelines. While these templates do speed up character creation, the section on powers and stunts is clearly filled with abilities not intended for use with many of these templates. Many are intended for the creation of unique character types, both player and non-player.

Here is where I come in. What follows is a series of PCs and NPCs for use in my campaign. I freely admit that I departed from the world building slightly.

Welcome to the Labrador Coast http://www.tarabryan.com/lamour/index.htmlhttp://www.ourlabrador.ca/member.php?id=46

A complex political landscape of both mortal and supernatural influences. The Labrador Coast is largely a collection of small fishing villages connected by waterways, and plied by aging barges and water taxis piloted by French-speaking descendants of the native Mikmaq peoples and the European fishermen.

L’Anse Amour

Centuries ago the first humans came to a small cove and buried a child. Something old resides there. Old even then, it made a pact with these travelers: peace and protection in exchange for their cooperation in some ancient, little understood, task. Thus was the first of the Mad Blades created to act as a supernatural sheriff. That Which Sleeps empowered its agent with a blade of whispering madness as their symbol of office.

There is a price to take up the Mad Blade. Those who drowned in the cove are given The Choice. They may take up the Blade and live, or pass on to their final reward. But those who take up the Blade are Its servants and they are doomed. There will be no reward for them, no promised afterlife. They will remain and sleep with the creature at the bottom of the cove. Forever their souls will be kept in a crude stone urn and their voices will be added to the mad whispers of the blade until the Mikmaq Armageddon is achieved at the end of the world and all things.

The current Mad Blade: Mike Sontag

High Concept: Wielder of the Mad Blade

Trouble: Doomed and he knows it

Phase 1 : Born oceangoing trailer trash

Phase 2 : Gambling is in my blood. My blood is on the floor?

Phase 3 : Bargains – Time to stop treading water

Mike made a terrible mistake. An illegal offshore gambling operation decides to write off his debt by drowning him and making off with his sister. That Which Sleeps offers him The Choice.

Phase 4 : Tunnel duelist

Trouble with rebel Boglins at the Gnomish Collective results in Mike dueling a Boglin work boss.

Phase 5 : No time for rules

As the representative of That Which Sleeps, Mike must negotiate a peace between the Eagle people and a human settlement. Mike is forced to break the peace when he discovers a black court vampire destabilizing the area, while his new friend Drale, Prince of Thunder, struggles to hold back his people from a murderous rampage.

Stunts:

Marked by Power (-1)

The Shadowed Gladius (+1)

Cloak of Shadow (-1)

Inhuman Strength (-2)

Supernatural Recovery (-4)

The Catch: Bright Sunlight (+3)

Refresh 4 remain from 8

There are several power players in the area. All of them are delicately balanced against each other. Each of them plays some mysterious part in That Which Sleeps’ plans. Of particular interest to the conspiracy theorist is the large number of rare werecreatures to be found living around the lake of That Which Sleeps.

These are the groups:

  1. Thunder’s Aerie – The descendants of were eagles. Once each generation, a prince is born with the powers of the Thunderbird. This youth is then raised to lead the band’s war parties. All day-to-day decisions are made by a council of elders.
  2. Spider Clan – Were wolf spiders, arguably the most powerful of factions. They are also the least organized. A coalition of family heads (male and female) leads the clan. Spider Clan places great importance on the safety and well-being of their mortal neighbors. Next to the Lich, they are the most active in hunting vampire threats.
  3. Abbey of St. Valentine – A Christian-based cult. The abbey takes in young women on a volunteer basis, usually from poor families. These girls must be extraordinary young women to be accepted. They then spend a year of toil for the abbey before they are inducted into the inner mysteries of the order. The ritual involves the ingestion of a very rare honey. At that point the young woman becomes a worker for the queen of the colony. The Queen is a particularly powerful were wasp. When the colony has grown large enough, the queen will choose her most promising worker and make a queen of her before sending her out into the world to start a new colony elsewhere.
  4. Gnome Collective – A freehold of gnome misfits from the isle of Jamaica. They call the tunnels beneath several human towns home. They run the Gnome Bazaar. The Gnome Militias protect their territories from the influences of Summer and Winter as well as anything that would prey on the human populace. There is a strange connection between the Gnome Collective and the Erl King in the form of Militia Hunter teams.
  5. The Lich – On the furthermost north island is a large, comfortably appointed mansion. The creatures within pose as eclectic scholars entertaining visitors from around the world with discussions of philosophy. These are the undying servants of the Lich, a wizard of ancient origin. The Lich is a freehold lord and thus governed by the accords. The White council takes a dim view of this creature but has more pressing matters to deal with. Perhaps one day, they will send a team to destroy it, but currently it is far too useful as an ally. It has a terrifying hatred of vampires. It has sent aid to several beleaguered warden teams in the form of mage hunters, a form of undead it creates from volunteers who have taken up “The Debt.”

Example characters:

Drale, Were Eagle Prince

High Concept: Were Eagle, Prince of Storms

Trouble: Noblesse Oblige

Phase 1 : The young rain caller

Phase 2 : Run! Logger scum!

Phase 3 : Thunder Bird Descendant

Drale learns to lead his people and to dislike loggers.

Phase 4 : Mike story: Storm’s Unquenchable Fury

Rescuing a swimmer leads to a fight on an oceangoing casino.

Phase 5 : Haley’s story: Why did it have to be underground?

Drale learns he has an inherited fear of being underground as he assists Haley in rescuing some children from smugglers.

Stunts:

Beast Change (-1) Really Big Eagle

Human Form (+1)

Claws (-1)

Wings (-1)

Modular Abilities (-4) (choose one at a time: Huge, Diminutive, Breathe Lightning, Inhuman Strength, Toughness, or Recovery)

Echoes of the Beast (-1) (Vision)

Refresh 1 remain from 8

Human                                                                                Bird

Superb: Presence, Might                                                   Superb: Fists, Athletics

Great: Alertness, Discipline                                         Great: Alertness, Weapons

Good: Endurance, Athletics                                         Good: Might, Discipline

Fair: Fists, Stealth                                                              Fair: Presence, Stealth

Average: Weapons, Intimidation                                Average: Endurance, Intimidation

Spider Clan Hunter (Were Spider Master Hunter)

High Concept: Were Wolf Spider, Clan Hunter

Trouble: Strange Family

Phase 1 : Back Woods Scholar

Phase 2 : 1st to College

Phase 3 : Feuding with the Queen Bee

Phase 4 : Night Stalker for the Eagle Prince

Phase 5 : Tunnel Homes

Stunts:

Beast Change (-1) Huge Wolf Spider

Human Form (+1)

Fangs (-2) [Poisoned]

Spider Climb (-1)

Supernatural Toughness (-4)

Catch (Obsidian Weapons) (+3 Common, research)

Refresh 3 remain from 8

Human                                                    Spider

Superb: Survival, Stealth                Superb: Fists, Endurance

Great: Alertness, Guns                     Great: Alertness, Athletics

Good: Intimidation, Fists                Good: Intimidation, Stealth

Fair: Athletics, Discipline                Fair: Discipline, Survival

Average: Driving, Endurance        Average: Driving, Guns

The Abbess (Were Wasp)

High Concept: Were Wasp Queen

Trouble: Territorial Matriarchy

Phase 1 : Abbey Obligations

Phase 2 : Pact with That Which Sleeps

Phase 3 : Drone Shortage

Phase 4 : Cold War with Were Spiders

Phase 5 : Ethereal European Beauty

Stunts:

Beast Change (-1) Giant Wasp

Human Form (+1)

Claws (-1) (Stinger)

Wings (-1)

Addictive Saliva (Honey) (-1)

Inhuman Speed (-2)

Channeling [Kinetics] (-2)

Refresh 1 remain from 8

Human                                                             Wasp

Superb: Discipline, Resources                Superb: Fists, Alertness

Great: Deceit, Alertness                           Great: Athletics, Discipline

Good: Lore, Presence                              Good: Endurance, Presence

Fair: Empathy, Endurance                    Fair: Empathy, Lore

Afer-Zuul (Undead Mage Hunter)

High Concept: Undead Mage Hunter

Trouble: Beholden to the Lich

Phase 1 : Beautiful Dead

Phase 2 : Runic Tattoos

Phase 3 : Merciless Hunter

Phase 4 : Soft Spot for the Young

Phase 5 : Secret Lives

Stunts:

Living Dead (-1)

Flesh Mask (-1)

Supernatural Toughness (-4)

Physical Immunity (magic) (-8)

Catch (+8) Fire, research

Refresh 2 remain from 8

Superb: Stealth, Guns

Great: Athletics, Alertness

Good: Conviction, Weapons

Fair: Intimidation, Discipline

Average: Lore, Investigation

There is a web of treaty and pact woven between these groups which keeps open conflict to a minimum. This is in each group’s best interest even if they may not realize this. Open conflict brings in the Mad Blade and their patron That Which Sleeps. None of the factions wants to be the one that forces the awakening. So conflict simmers in a supernatural cold war for the time being.

All of the characters are fit for player use in a campaign with an 8 refresh.

Places of note:

L’Anse Amour – A quiet and tranquil place where something old and powerful dreams, and in dreaming shapes the world.

The Gnome Bazaar – The ultimate destination of all that is lost or forgotten. Features of the bazaar include the animated skeleton of a North American mastodon, the hanging fuselage of a WWII vintage P-38, and a translucent blue obelisk made of unmelting ice. All are welcome here provided they abide by the rules. The bazaar is accorded neutral ground.

Thanks for visiting. I’ll try to be more punctual with my next installment.

Legends of Anglerre arrived this month. Who’s up for some dungeon stuff Fate style?

The Lodger

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , ,
Jun 292010

Hello,

I’ll be talking about Deluge again today.

My topic is “Route Creation.” Diaspora calls them “clusters” but that doesn’t make sense in the context of survivor villages.

A route is the local area familiar to your players: a series of villages and obstacles that will be known to them as part of the local geography. I’m using part of the Star Blazers Adventures sections on group-oriented adventure creation for the village stats.

  1. Start with a blank sheet of paper.
  2. GM picks the number of villages to be created. I think one village per player should be plenty, but more doesn’t really seem to cause too many challenges. My example has 4 villages.
  3. GM starts by placing a Major terrain feature/target area on the map. This is the driving factor for the area and can be almost anything: Mountain, Mines, Ruins, etc. This feature gets one aspect all its own. This  major feature dominates the area. It is often visible for miles even in the heaviest rains.
  4. Player 1 to the left names a village and rolls its 3 stats.

Stat 1: Tech level – Tech level indicates the available manufacturing level of the village. Roll 4df.  Any roll between +4 and -1 is treated as a -1. The other values are self explanatory.

Stat 2: Size level – Size indicates the current population. (4df Roll)

Home -4
Hamlet -3 -2
Village -1 1
Town 2 3
City 4

Stat 3: Wealth – The current wealth of a village. Mostly measured in what it can barter with. Usually trade goods or expertise. This is a simple number.

Choose 2 aspects to personalize the population. Local problems, relationships, or advantages are all good ideas.

  1. GM places a terrain feature next to the previous village. This has a single aspect and represents a point of interest or difficulty on the path to the next village.
  2. Rinse and repeat for each village.

This is the basic “Route” characters will travel and trade on. This forms the basis of a common shared background between them. The GM places a third aspect on each of the villages. This aspect represents the villages’ interaction and relationships with each other or their most significant terrain feature. Once that is done, technically, character generation or play can begin if characters were generated previously.

However, the villages could be made to provide a mechanical advantage in addition to their aspects. Star Blazers Adventures provides a set of stats for towns. This would allow characters inside a town to access that town’s skills for their own use; possibly even a companion bonus as if the town were a character itself.

Village Stat Block:

Structure stress: = Scale (City=5, Town=4,Village=3, Hamlet=2, Home= 1) This is the structure and infrastructure of a town. When reduced to zero the town has been destroyed.

Morale stress: = Scale (City=5, Town=4,Village=3, Hamlet=2, Home= 1) This is the populace. When reduced to zero the village has been abandoned.

Consequences: Per skill effected (Average(+1) = 1 mild, Decent (+2) = 1 mild, 1 moderate and Good (+3) = 1 mild, 1 moderate, and 1 Severe) A city takes damage differently then a character. Each of its skills can be used to absorb structure or morale stresses. A skill that has taken all of its available consequences can no longer be used and represents the loss of some critical industries. Additionally, the new consequences can now be tagged for effect to further grind the town down unto its destruction. These consequences also provide a mechanism for recovery after the attack. Treat these as wounds to be treated by any appropriate player or town skills.

Aspects: 3 (the aspects previously chosen)

Skills: Scale 1 = 0 pts, Scale 2 = 2 pts, Scale 3 = 7 pts, Scale 4 = 16 pts, Scale 5 = 20 pts

3 skill categories = General, Offensive, Defensive

General skills: Scouts (advanced warning and detection/area knowledge), Repairs, Salvage (recovery of old tech/archeology; requires warehousing/1 level), Docks/Barracks(Barracks house troops (see offense skills). Barracks can deploy one unit per exchange per skill level), Manufacturing, Mining (requires warehousing/1 level), Warehousing (Guest housing/animal farming/storage – one skill level for each skill which requires warehousing), Systems (required at Scales 4 and 5. Systems covers items not specifically mentioned; such as medical, libraries, messengers, bureaucracy, etc.)

Offensive skills: Melee Combat (fighting inside the village), Ranged Combat (fighting outside the village), Information War (including sabotage), Troop Facilities(1 squad/platoon of 10 troops per skill level)

Defensive skills: Walls(select only once), Hardened Structure (select only once; add Structure stress point equal to the skill and reduce attack damage on the walls by 1 pt per skill level), Concealment (select only once; some habitations are hidden to avoid attack all together). Walls and Hardened Structure cannot be greater then +3 skill level.

This is some major untested systems tinkering by me. But the main idea is to provide some mechanical advantages for players to encourage village building. Players in good standing with a village may substitute one of the village’s skills for one of their own as long as that substitution is supported by narrative, once per scene. Thus, a trader in need of goods to trade who has the support of a village (they’ve helped out there before) can roll on the village’s manufacturing to produce some goods (to a certain level/ quality) or to place an aspect, via a maneuver, on a load of goods to be tagged later (such as a load of weapons with the aspect: Hidden Flaw). Since players are starting out fresh, the GM probably won’t need the village stats immediately. But, as players assist their chosen homes by moving goods or improving facilities, villages will gradually grow and develop in new ways. Perhaps after each session, players and GMs should discuss what they see as having improved in their home village and a new skill can be added to the bottom of the pyramid.

Also, village skills can add +1 to assist player skill rolls and players can add +1 to the village’s rolls as long as the skills are appropriately similar in nature.

Example Route:

I created a sample route to illustrate how this could work.

GM-placed prime area

  1. Mount Garth [Aspect: Crumbling Basalt]: Mount Garth is all that remains of a once great mountain. Pounded into submission by the rains, the basalt columns lie in great stacks like blackened bones. They are visible from most clearings and dominate the skyline where the jungle allows.
  2. Garthville [Aspects:Made of Stone, Too Big, Lawless] {Stats: T-3,S+1,W-1}:  Garthville is in decline. It was once a bustling community of stone masons. Now its population has dwindled to a few grizzled miners. It is comprised of large stone buildings of which only the centermost are still occupied. The city has the air of a graveyard, silent and sepulchral, until the living areas are found, where a drunken revel to rival Odin’s hall is always raging. Miners only stop drinking when their chits dry up. They then return to the mountain to rake at its bones until they have enough carts of stone to trade with merchants for more drinking chits.
  3. Terrain feature: The Garth Road [Aspect: Stone Road]: Built by the early denizens of Garthville before it was realized how valuable their stone was. It is now constantly patrolled and maintained. It is far too valuable to dismantle as it provides a nearly rainproof connection to the next town.
  4. Tractorville [Aspects: Pig Farm, Methane Plant, Gas Tractor] {Stats: T-1, S-2, W-1}:  Tractorville sprung up at the end of the stone road when a group of mechanics recovered an aging tractor frame and adapted it to a methane engine. As the only working tractor in the area, it is used to transport stone to nearby areas.
  5. Terrain feature: Bright Jungle [Aspect: Strange Plants]: The jungle around Garth Mountain is not a normal place. The return of the jungle to this part of the world awoke strange seeds in the bones of the mountain.
  6. Black Patch [Aspects: Jungle Garden, Unhealthy Dirt, Trade Powerhouse] {Stats: T-1, S+1, W+2}: Deep in the bright jungle is a patch of black earth on which nothing will grow. The perfect place for a village. Black Patch is a wealthy trade haven. This village uses the strange plants and fungi of the bright jungle to make a living, which currently means trading fermented goods for stone building materials.
  7. Terrain feature: Apache Preserve [Aspect: Constantly Watched]: This patch of jungle is frequented by a tribe of intelligent bears. They are currently not hostile to humans. But never doubt, you are constantly watched.
  8. Savage End [Aspects: River Port, NeoSioux Outpost,Tribe  Bears] {Stats: T-1, S+2, W-1}: Savage End overlooks the massive and dangerous Savage river on which NeoSioux steam vessels ply their trade. Savage End is part of the NeoSioux civilization. There is a garrison of their troops here and some of those troops are bears. Trade here is largely in storage facilities holding goods destined for other places.
Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , ,
Apr 052010

Greetings from the Internet’s secret back alley,

Earlier I promised to share some of the development I did for my Deluge campaign. So here’s a couple of things I’m using for my campaign.

I’ll be using Diaspora for characters and base system with a little bit of Star Blazers Adventures for survivor village statistics.

Diaspora is a hard science sort of game, so some of the skills don’t apply to a survival game. I removed the skills Energy Weapons, MicroG, Culture/Tech, and stripped the [space] trapping off Navigation, Gunnery, and Engineering. I added the skills Scuba and Ballistic Weapons (Bows, Crossbows, Slings).

This simple skill conversion covers all my requirements for the story I want to weave. The Profession skill acts as a catchall for player desires.

Character Generation Phases are an important part of Diaspora. They are no less so for my Deluge game.

Characters: 10 aspects, 3 stunts and everyone starts with 5 Fate points.

Phase 1: Growing up – You grew up in the hot wet ruins of Deluge. What did you learn?

Phase 2: Starting out – Village life. It takes a village to raise a child in the future. What was yours like? Choose a motivation as one of your two aspects.

Phase 3: Close encounter of the third kind – No one knows what they are. But, at some point everyone sees one. What did your glimpse teach you?

Phase 4: Disaster – It rains everyday. Some days are worse. What was your bad day?

Phase 5: Here and now – Why are you here? What are you doing? Choose a duty as one of your two aspects.

Note on the “Have a Thing” stunt: that advanced piece of equipment you wanted? It’s ancient tech from before the rain. That makes it T0 at the highest level (T-1 is normal for PCs, lower is always available). Usually these things are special versions of existing equipment. This stunt can now include modified ammo types or special loads because ammo is becoming increasingly scarce. When your special ammo is gone, though, it’s gone. Time to pick a new stunt.

Deluge has a sanity check; Diaspora doesn’t. But Fate has a way of simulating this.

Sanity composure hits: terrifying things such as:

  1. The first time you get hit in a fight
  2. The first time a bear talks to you
  3. The first and every time you see an angel

These all cause Composure damage. The first damage rule is from Diaspora and I won’t be changing that. The other two (and anything else your Gm (I) wants) will call for the player to make a flat 4df roll to resist, modified by your Resolve.

Here’s my table:

  1. Talking bear: Sanity check = +1
  2. Seeing a giant octopus or intelligent squid: Sanity check = +2
  3. Alien angel creature: Sanity check = +3

Example: Billy Bob has ducked into a dark cave to avoid a cannibal raiding party. He should have checked better before entering. A deep gruff voice growls, “Who goes there?” Billy turns to find himself looking down the gaping maw of a massive shotgun held one-handed by the paw of a 10-foot tall grizzly. The GM calls for a flat roll of 4df. Billy rolls a -1. His Resolve is +2 and because it is greater then the bear’s +1 rating, it adds an additional +1 to his roll, making it a +0. Billy is about to take a 1-point hit to his Composure when the GM offers him a Fate point saying, “This is a creepy cave.” If Billy accepts the Fate point, he takes a 3-point hit to Composure. He may need to buy off this damage with a Consequence such as “I wet mah pants, dang.” He can also deny the compel at the cost of a Fate point he may need later. He’ll still take the one Composure if he does, though.

Villages are going to have a stat block, but I haven’t finished thinking about it yet. I’m thinking that the random tables will be providing some of the aspects that villages will be using. Possibly more on this later.

Diaspora recommends the use of imagery as a tool for delivering story points, so here are mine. I chose three to start with.

  1. An ancient stadium half-flooded with black sea water and wrapped in jungle creepers. A crowd screams for blood as twelve convicts are led to two oar-driven whale boats and armed with wicked harpoons. A ripple in the black water betrays the presence of something huge, intelligent, and many-armed as it races towards the boats. Jetting around the various floating debris and artificial islands dotting the arena, it closes in on its meal.
  2. An insane bear named Charlie standing many times the height of the humans it guides. Its thick fur scarred in ritual patterns. Its voice wrinkled by time and alien knowledge. It rambles and stares at its surroundings, seeing nothing and yet something more. A failed experiment given new and terrible potential.
  3. In the heat of the jungle, bacteria and fungus grow in infinite number. The old ways are gone forever. Those who embraced the ancient before the fall carried the future in their dreams of steam and independence. A village viewed from above is lit in brilliant blue-white arc lights. Freshly hand-wound generators turned by methane made in industrial anaerobic digesters. Anachronism made modern by a new order of brass and cog.

Weapons and equipment:

Anything could be justified with a stunt.

The state of the art varies by village from late Stone Age (T-4) to later industrial (T-1). The players’ starting tech will be decided by their home village. The average is crossbow, iron spear or sword, and leather armor. The typical vehicle is a cart and ox affair. In more elaborately supplied areas, the occasional cart and elephant will be seen.

Description: The Sundown World

The sunset world has passed into darkness and storm. The fall did not come as anticipated. Another intelligence has chosen our world for its home. As H. G. Wells once wrote, “Yet across an immense ethereal gulf, minds that are to our minds as ours are to the beasts in the jungle, intellects vast, cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.” They came unbidden and unnoticed and in the blink of an eye, our world fell to eternal storm. The rain became our master. One hundred and fifty years later a new human stalks the jungles. A hardier breed resistant to disease and wound. Lean and hungry, these new children stalk the ruins of the old world, searching for their heritage and building their new world on the bones of the sunset world.

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , ,
Nov 192009

Sorry, sorry…I know I said I’d try for one post a week. But I have a really good excuse. You see, there was this monkey, a giant space monkey. He needed a ride home and I was heading that way so I said, “What the hell. Why not?” Well, you’ve probably noticed my bandages by now, right? No? Well, never mind then. Suffice it to say the monkey and I have gone our separate ways. I got bandages and he got tetanus. (Long story.)

So, how about two quick posts this week to make up for my negligence? I knew you’d agree.

Part 3 of my Diaspora adventure. I post here  my player’s writeup.

Diaspora, Iron Spiral’s first adventure, 11/14/09  Note: My player came up with a new name, so cool.

IS (Iron Spiral) was selling lichen at some market somewhere, when the GM decided to try the social mini game. There was one other salesperson there, a woman also selling lichen. We had one customer, a man who to start with wasn’t looking at either of our stalls; he was checking out refractory materials nearby. IS decided to say to him, “Hey, what do you think of that near miss between two ships last week that almost caused a political scandal between Gemma and Demon Rock?” or something close to that, because she recognized that he was a pilot from his clothing. He said he was a pilot, but hadn’t been there. She said, “But I saw you on the news!” That caused him to say he hadn’t been there, but he had been on the news before. The other saleswoman said something like “Come get your lichen cakes while they’re hot,” which failed to grip him. IS turned out to have a fancy lichen sculpture/painting of two fleets of ships in front of a nebula. The ships were made out of iron, the rest out of variously colored and textured lichen (IS has a high Art skill). The pilot came over and admired the artwork. He said he was a Gemman pilot of a trade ship, and then he lowered his voice and said they had a goddess on board. IS asked what she was the goddess of, and he said the goddess of light and shadows, which turned out to mean that she could use a technology that could create impressive light-based phenomena. He said he’d buy all her lichen if she sold it for half off. There was a little haggling and he eventually agreed to buy the lichen at 47% off, which wasn’t really much of a deal, but what the hell. At the same time the other saleswoman had put on some weird music to try to get his attention, but gave up when she saw that he’d bought from IS. (End of social mini-game.) Oh yes, part of the 47% off deal was that IS would also get to meet the goddess. The pilot’s name was Gene-G(Gene) asked when IS would be free to meet the goddess, and IS said, “Well, since you bought all my stock, how about right now?” IS took down her stall and helped him carry the lichen to his ship, which was named the Cloudburst. The ship was very impressive. It also had gold decorations befitting a goddess. It had an odd smell coming from deeper inside. G led IS to a strange, large room which he said was called the ship “park.” This was where the smell was coming from, for it had grass and trees and a stream, all of which IS had heard about but never seen personally. Sometime while they were talking, during which G became quite animated when IS told him she was also a pilot and he started rattling on about the Cloudburst’s engines, G mentioned that the goddess had a “pet savage” who turned out to be a man from Demon Rock. This man had what G called a “thing” that G believed should be locked up because it was so dangerous, but that the goddess said would probably then break loose and kill people, so no, it got to stay free. G said he’d make an offering to the goddess of the lichen, and then IS could meet her. They headed toward the goddess’ office. IS thought she saw something metallic following them, but wasn’t sure. She mentioned this to G and he said he didn’t see anything. Then a voice said, “She’s right,” and a huge man in an antique armored vac suit with a horned helmet suddenly appeared, along with a very large granite boar. This was Deng, the “pet savage,” and his granite boar, whose name was Snaps and Drools (Snaps for short). G was extremely startled. D(Deng) said to G that the goddess wanted to see him, alone. It was about letting unauthorized people onto the ship. G hurried off to her office. D said he was the ship security officer, and asked why IS was there. She told him. He said, “Well, you’re here, so you might as well get the rest of the tour of the ship.” She petted S(Snaps) and it licked her. D said, “He thinks you taste good.” While D escorted IS, he told her that there was a vacancy on board for a secondary pilot, because the secondary pilot had gotten injured by S (he shouldn’t have tried to play with S). IS got to meet the goddess, Tu-Anon-Romten, who G had said was the least popular in her family, and that her father (also a god) had given her the Cloudburst in order to get her out of his hair. T(Tu-Anon-Romten) appeared backed by a godlike glow, and offered IS the pilot job. IS accepted. IS had a tearful farewell with her parents. Her father gave her an energy gun that had belonged to her grandfather. T also arrived and gave IS’s family gifts, which had been tribute given to her by some worshippers. IS boarded the ship. After she familiarized herself with the bridge, T appeared by hologram and gave commands. T also revealed that IS was the new captain, replacing G, who’d been demoted to secondary pilot. T ordered that they fly to Plug. It took a day to get to Demon Rock, at which one had to refuel in order to get to Plug. Actually IS took the ship to the Demon Rock refueling station, not the planet. The administrator assigned the Cloudburst one of the last to be refuelled, which pissed off T. T had D, S and IS come with her on a visit to the administrator. Inside the station, two Demon Rock guards saw them and reached for their weapons, but D made signs at them, and they saluted and stood aside. The station actually had Gemmans and Demon Rockans working there, plus I think a few visitors from Plug. T had D order S to burrow/eat through the administrator’s door. Inside was a terrified Gemman administrator. S started eating some of the furniture in the room. T and IS convinced the administrator to move the Cloudburst up to #5 in the list, out of about 180 ships. The administrator claimed he didn’t know the Cloudburst had a goddess on board. T wanted the #1 spot, but the administrator told her that was taken by the God of Heavy Weapons and Machine Guns, so T backed off. So now it wasn’t going to take weeks to get refuelled; only a few days. As they were returning to the ship, they noticed that they’d turned up on the news. D was not happy. T gave D and IS the day off and thanked them for their support. IS asked to meet D at the park, where she asked why he was unhappy about being on the news, and he said it was because he was something of a celebrity on Demon Rock because of his saving that warren from rogue granite boars and taming a wild one, which isn’t something normally done (taming a wild granite boar, that is). He said he preferred to lead a low-key life. He asked IS out to dinner on the station. Said he knew a good restaurant, which was owned by his foster mother, and he wanted IS to meet her. On the way to, and during dinner, S had taken the form of a large walking stick that D held. D explained that normal granite boars eventually decided to stop shapeshifting and settled on a preferred shape, but not S. D’s foster mom was a tall, tough blonde named Ping. She and IS liked each other. She chastised D for not writing, then they started talking about life on Demon Rock, which was better because there hadn’t been any recent granite boar attacks. IS, feeling paranoid, noticed four young vac-suited Demon Rock women at another table watching, but they seemed to be only interested in staring at D. IS commented how much she liked the view of the Hyathis nebula from Demon Rock, because at the Triskidar Belt, all you could see was the nebula’s top left tendril. P(Ping) said she’d like to visit the Triskidar Belt again because she hadn’t in a long time, and IS encouraged her because now happened to be the regular but infrequent occurrence in which the Hyathis tendril would move, as seen from the Belt. It was an altogether pleasant dinner, after which, back at the ship, IS went to bed. Okay, nothing adrenaline-pumping happened, but I had fun.

As you might have guessed, there is quite a lot of player-based story being added here. My GM style is to create realistic NPCs with goals (usually clearer stated in their aspects). Each NPC will follow their goal to its logical conclusion if the players are willing to follow that course. This allows me the flexibility to drop story threads as they become uninteresting to players. It also creates an organic “lived-in” feeling for the universe, which some players respond to. It has its complications as well. A large group (I’ve run up to twelve players at once) will immediately start splitting off to pursue their characters’ interests. This can be a challenge for a GM and all that parallel processing can bog a game down. There is also a certain player type who will take advantage of loopholes in the system, derail the adventure, or attack apparently important NPCs. These players are flummoxed by this method of driving a story. Since each NPC carries a goal he or she is trying to reach, exclusive of the players, they are quickly outnumbered and neutralized, usually, by other players.

That’s how I do it anyway.

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , ,