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: , , ,
Feb 142010

Hello my Lodgers,

To begin, VSCA games has released Deluge, a systemless pdf-only experiment under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share Alike license.

“One hundred years ago it began to rain and never stopped.“

The document is 34 pages and covers the Deluge setting in a toolbox fashion. It is intended that the purchaser use the contents to “Delugify” their home town. Details and resources for how this works are included. I hope to detail this and provide some transparency for my design decisions in an upcoming entry.

The setting includes aliens, talking bears, killer squids and five character “classes,” all laid out with the idea that a GM will be splicing their favorite system to the setting. Personally, I like what I saw.

That’s about all I’m going to give away. I have another plan in mind for Deluge. The license (and VSCA permission) allows me to distribute it as long as I don’t make money off it. With that in mind, I will now announce the beginning of the Diaspora Weapons Testing Ground – Malfeasance Range. Here’s how it will work. Buy a copy of Diaspora, or if you’re still holding out (why? Don’t make me come over there), go to the system reference documents and create a unique weapon using the rules provided.

The rules:
1.Weapon must be original design. No grabbing stuff from the book. I own that as well and I’ll know. 😉
2.The Range’s format must be followed (see below). I insist on this because a weapon is more then the sum of its stats. Players don’t remember their first +1 sword. But they do remember the blackened steel blade and the hilt wrapped intricately with the hide of a shadow wolf: the +1 sword named Wolves’ Bane.
3.I’ll choose the winner. Actually my team will but I’ll be taking the blame.
4.Contest ends when I have ten entries. So speed counts in this instance.

The Format: (example)
Title: Grandpa’s Modified Mining Laser (T1)
Stats: Harm-0 Pen-1 Min Range-0 Max Range-1 Stunt:Civilian (4 Bp total)
Description: A large laser pistol modified from its original industrial purpose. Blunt-nosed, the barrel is cut away at the sides to reveal the focusing lens, which shines a translucent blue when not in use and brilliant red when being fired. The weapon is powered by a cable-fed belt pack. The underside of the barrel is decorated in tribal fashion by three fetishes: an Iron ship signifying home, a small white figure signifying easy targets, and an Iron hand signifying the Iron handshake.
History: Conflict among the tribes of the Triskadar Belt revolves around resources. One such battle occurred between the Iron Tribe and Copper Tribe. An Iron frigate/miner had been ambushed by three Copper vessels near a contested asteroid field. The Iron frigate, badly damaged, fled into the field and exploded. The Copper vessels, believing the threat had passed, tethered and prepared to recover their salvage and begin mining. They were taken completely by surprise by eleven Iron Tribe warriors disguised as debris. The attackers used breaching charges on the command cabin of the tethering vessel. What followed was a vicious corridor to corridor skirmish that would be remembered in legend. While the Iron warriors killed the retreating crew, their best hacker used the tethering controls to vent atmosphere and sabotage the other vessels. The helpless crews desperately struggled to disengage their tethers. Thus was the term “Iron handshake“ coined for the tactic they used that day.

The winner will receive a copy of Deluge for their personal use.

Please post you entries in the comments section for all to see.
I look forward to your entries.

Side note: While playing Diaspora, play the song “A Glorious Dawn” by Carl Sagan and Symphony of Science. I thought it captured the feeling of the farmer in the first pages of the book.

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , , , ,