Feb 062016

Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of Myst and Beyond

Ancient_glyphs.jpg

Glyphs on black tablet

Unwritten, the long-awaited RPG based on the popular computer game by Cyan Inc., is the product of a November 2015 Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $36,000. It was produced with the cooperation of Cyan and includes data from the Uru MMO. The url is here: Unwritten

The Book:

I have the PDF version. The PDF is well put together with art from the Myst game as well as from other sources. An abridged version of the history of the Myst games is included to ground a GM in the game’s universe. This material is drawn from the novels and from the canon of Myst itself. The basics are: a splinter group from an ancient species of humanity from a parallel dimension with a unique understanding of dimensional physics goes into hiding beneath New Mexico. There they continue to build and refine their core cultural values. They are a society based on puzzles and plenty, and fueled by access to the multiverse via a specialized knowledge of “the Art of Writing.” This civilization flourished and then died in an act of petty tyranny at the beginning of the 19th century. Years later their caverns are rediscovered by their inheritors, modern humanity.

The System:

The system is Fate Core with some minor system tweaks. The attack actions and stress bars have been removed to de-emphasize violence because combat wasn’t the focus of the Myst games. Puzzles and discovery are the primary obstacles of Myst, and to facilitate them some interesting mechanics have been added. In particular, I found the deduction and journey mechanics most interesting. Journey mechanics are used at character milestones to represent the “off screen” work the players have been pursuing. Things like “Writing” new ages or discovering rare tech are handled using journey rules. Deduction mechanics provide setting course corrections usable by GMs to create player-established facts in the game setting. This mechanic personalizes the scenario or scene based on player character skills.

I’ve included some example Ages below. Feel free to include them in your game if you desire. I created these for a longer campaign I ran for my wife.

Example Ages:

Gilder: The Children’s Age

Aspects: [Lost Childhood], [Long Forgotten Tragedy], [Buried Guilt and Hidden Crimes]

Written as a fun and safe place for D’ni children to vacation, much like Disneyland. Gilder emphasized education, puzzle solving, and exploration, the hallmarks of D’ni culture. It was staffed by natives tasked with care of the children. Now, it is silent. The scattered remains of the ancient dead, large and small, litter the park. There were no dangers in Gilder. Gilder was written to be boringly safe from the beginning. There were friendly natives and few predators. During the Fall, many families sought to hide their children here away from harm. The majority of dead here didn’t die of the plague. They were massacred in the Hunters’ attack.

Areas of interest:

The Zoo: once filled with exotic animals from little-known Ages, these beasts have starved to death or killed each other.

The Aquarium: once beautiful with examples of brightly colored fish and rare aquatic animals. It is now a brackish, evil-smelling puddle more akin to soup.

The Library: exhibit books, dozens of linking books to small Ages fitted with observation domes to allow visitors to watch creatures in their natural habitats. One book is central and ringed by the most adult bodies yet seen. Here stands the Book of Haldis.

The Aviary: a large wrought iron bird cage. Silent now, the floor is littered with little bones.

The Park: square miles of park, now overgrown. Paths lead into and out of the village. A lake, located near the center of the park, is connected to a river. The native flora and fauna have reclaimed the park.

History:

Then there came the Hunters…

The Fall was a turbulent time. Many D’ni fringe groups saw it as a time to rise up. One such group was called the “Hunters.” They trained and worshiped in the park in secret. They interpreted the Fall as the realization of a prophecy. Their end time myth was enacted in Gilder.

The prophecy spoke of a great dying of the prey, from which would rise an apex predator. This predator would rule as cities were devoured by a return to nature once all foreign influences were expunged.

They attacked through the Book of Haldis with trained packs of war beasts found native in the Haldis jungles. Each hunter commanded a war pack of many dozens. The caretaker natives, most of whom were educators, were no match for the quickly expanding packs. Though they tried bravely, they were slaughtered. A few managed to escape to neighboring cities and a defense was rallied to contain the packs within the walls of the park.

The packs rampaged for weeks, but with little real effect. The Hunters had failed to account for the plague, believing themselves immune. Several of their victims had been carriers. When the Hunters died, the war packs turned on each other. Those that weren’t killed and eaten by their fellows were slain by vigilant caretakers guarding the walls. The natives of the current day still leave ritual offerings along the park’s exterior wall as if to placate angry gods for the failures of their ancestors.

 

Haldis: The Age of Hard Lessons

Aspects: [Harsh Lessons in Caretaking], [Cannibal Cult], [Testing The Fit]

This Age was written for the creator of Gilder. An apprentice was given the task of creating a “reasonably” forgiving environment for older children in which to learn and bond, a place of discovery and life lessons. It was intended to teach young D’ni respect for the Ages they would be visiting as they entered D’ni culture and took their place within the Ages to which they were assigned.

Unfortunately, the apprentice was not of sound mind. A species of cunning pack predator was included, and soon after, several ancient temples from an extinct native population were discovered. At first there were only minor issues between D’ni visitors and the wild packs. The inadvertent discovery of an old temple frequented by the packs fueled the rebirth of an ancient native cannibal cult. No records exist documenting how this happened. The cult recruited like-minded individuals from the D’ni youth camping in the settled areas. The cult waited for decades, claiming the occasional victim, until the moment was right. The Fall started and abruptly ended their rise to power.

Areas of interest:

The Forest Glen: a beautiful place of tall grass and bright sun. Several stout stone buildings provide shelter and comfort for the visitor. The buildings have the D’ni word for “barracks” carved into them. There are no bodies from the Fall here.

The Lake: a bright blue freshwater lake. Small to medium-sized silver fish can be seen swimming in it. A dock and a floating raft are provided for boaters and swimmers. No boats can be seen. The lake connects to the river.

The River: A slow-moving river enters the lake and leaves on the opposite side. Down the river a day’s journey is the Temple. Up river is another glen used for picnicking and camping. Many prepared campsites of stone are overgrown but still usable.

The Temple: built by the original inhabitants, a race of human type that developed a taste for their neighbors. Early in their history they domesticated a large flightless avian predator and through selective breeding made them cunning and hungry for human flesh. These people easily dominated the region for hundreds of years, but over-hunting turned them on one another. A priest class rose and through divine decree devoured an entire generation of their own elders. With no guiding wisdom the remaining factions turned on each other. Before long there were only a few survivors left. They died when the large packs could no longer be controlled. As a people they vanished into history. The temple somehow calls to unstable D’ni and a new cult rises in the ruins of the old. The temple is occupied for decades before the Fall. Initially the newly reborn cult quietly brings in book world native people for ritual feasts celebrating D’ni superiority. But, before long they begin culling the “weak” from their own people using a carefully designed trap.

The Exit Book: a linking book with an elaborately gem-decorated stand. Located in the forest glen, passage to the book is blocked by a clever drawbridge designed to prevent pack predators from using the book. A D’ni puzzle must be solved to lower the bridge and reveal the book. An arrangement of crystals locks the bridge in place. Arrange them into a pattern found in the placement of the barracks, and a drawbridge lowers, revealing a linking book. This book returns the user to Gilder. Arrange the crystals into a pattern found in the temple (a semblance of a pack hunter) and the drawbridge lowers, but a decoy book is revealed. This book takes the user to a small dimly lit room without windows or doors, where red crystals light another linking book that looks identical to the book to Gilder. This book sends the user to a holding cell beneath the Temple from which no one has returned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , ,
Jan 182011

Greetings from the sunset world.

Long time no chat. But worry not, development continues carefully, protected by layers of secrecy so deep and black in nature that, dear reader, for your own safety I cannot reveal anything. But having said that, against my better judgment, I reveal the elite mobile infantry unit: Incursion Unit November – Jandras’ Junkers.

Created for a nasty urban insurgency, the Gray Wolf ‘R’ series war strider was intended for drop into occupied zones, where its technological superiority and high mobility could be used for lightning strikes against enemy concentrations while avoiding roads and improvised explosives. November Unit has since gone rogue and now sells their services to the highest bidder.

4 squad members: Jer, Miki, Zendra, Vim; 1 fp each

Gray Wolf strider Series R

Mobile MEK Platform

Mobile Infantry Unit

4ap Lasers

1 right arm neural linked chain gun

1 left arm combat chain saw

Morale 2: OO

Move 4

T2

Skills: Direct fire 4, H-to-H 1, Movement(3)4, Veteran 2

Stunts: Cavalry-light (+1 movement), Agile, Scout

Aspect: Neural Linked Chain gun, Out-of-ammo

Leader: Jandras, 2 fp

Gray Wolf strider Series R1

Mobile MEK Platform – Leader1

Mobile Infantry Unit

4ap Lasers

1 right arm neural linked chain gun

1 left arm shoulder mount AA missile rack

Leader unit – 2 actions

Morale 2+2: OOOO

Move 4

T2

Skills: Direct fire 4, Anti-aircraft 1, Movement(3)4, Veteran 2

Stunts: Cavalry-light (+1 movement), Agile, Scout, Logistics Genius

Aspect: Neural Linked Chain gun, Agility Turbines, Out-of-ammo

As mercenaries they are forced to rely on their employers to provide battlefield support for signals warfare and retooling. Several times this “help” has fallen though. Jandras has earned a reputation for getting his troops through the roughest of scrapes. His current squad are ruthless slackers who despite their extreme laziness in camp are a by-the-book band of fanatical vets in the field. They are dedicated to closing a contract neatly and efficiently, so they can return to their boozing and carousing.

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , ,
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: , , ,
May 172010

Hello and welcome,

My apologies for the extremely slow update interval. I’ve recently aquired the .pdf versions of Evil Hat’s Dresden Files and Cubicle 7’s Legends of Anglerre. I’ve been reading them and making notes. Unfortunately, it is a little too early to do a proper review as they are both yet to arrive in print form. I like to have a finished product in hand to do a review. I still need to set up an actual play scenario for them as well. Busy, busy. So here is another installment from my favorite player. More new character action here!

UJ = Union Jane

M = Michael Mason

BJ = Bob Jumper

A new character, Michael Mason, a “billionaire playboy” and leader of Mason Industries, joins the ever-shrinking group. He has a wrist blade Weapon of Destiny, and a secret lair. M ended up getting kidnapped from one of his mansions by Dr. Jin, who was disguised as a handyman. (I needed to get him caught up to the other player.) He ended up on the X-5 (Bob Jumper’s plane. No Bob in this game, so I filled in some gaps with NPCs), which Jin was escaping in the last game. Jin flew to a mirrored area in space (giant mirror in space , literally), with UJ, Captain Bob Jumper (NPC now), the semi-clockwork lady (the last surviving “demon” of Jin’s; M named her Jessie), and Joe Longshanks (the last Californian bear shaman) in pursuit inside the alien spacecraft (Hunter had somehow disappeared, and the alien ship looks like a long golden skinny tube). The X-5 appeared to crash into a copy of itself, but that was just it going through the mirror substance. The Alien ship followed, but BJ ended up being knocked out of his chair and unconscious for the rest of the game (because his player didn’t show up). Inside the mirrored area were three orb objects (which were later explained to us to produce water, air and sunlight) and two asteroid-like things, one of which had a waterfall, which was the thing we landed on. UJ fortunately managed to land the ship. M broke free of his bonds, but only in time for Jin to leave the ship (he ran into what turned out to be a customs building and disappeared) and cause it to produce a deadly ice field thing that killed some bird-winged guys who were approaching. Our ships ended up getting surrounded by bird people (who looked human except they had bird wings, and they talked in bird noises). They were accompanied by some robot things. M came out to try to talk to them, except that he didn’t know how, and he got a bunch of crossbows pointed at him. UJ sneaked out of the alien ship and behind some of the bird people. Luckily the man in charge spoke English (a guy named Noh Ahcorian, captain of the guard). He accused M of killing a prince (one of the frozen guys) and UJ of being an agent of “the worm.” We got taken to their king. He had us tell our stories while putting our hands on an “orb of truth,” which exonerated us. “The worm” was the worm that Jessie was controlling in the last adventure (now dead). The bird people (“Avians”) believed they were from Earth but were stolen by the worm and brought here (the king told us a lot of stuff about his people’s history and this asteroid; his name was Ahv). There were other species on this asteroid, including “Digs” (don’t remember what they looked like, except I think they were short) and serpent people (Tephys’ people, an ancient race who ruled the Earth in its pre-human dawn and may or may not have created the human race). M asked if the bird people had any artifacts, anything Jin might be after. Ahv mentioned powerful weapons which were in a vault that would only open if the mirror barrier had been breached. So we went to check on the vault, only to find that Jin was there, in an Avian-like outfit only with metallic wings, holding a statue. There were dead Avians all over the floor. Jin blew into a weird whistle and the sky darkened with a bunch of small black flying biting things called razor-wings, and then he flew off. Okay, I’m missing something here, because I remember we looked at the contents of the vault and UJ borrowed a set of metal balls attached to a belt or strap (which she never used), and we weren’t being attacked then. Also the king wondered why Jin would steal the statue, because it wasn’t a powerful artifact or anything. It was a gift from the serpent king; an heirloom or something. (She has forgotten that it was she who pursued Dr. Jin. She tracked him through the castle to the highest tower, dramatically smashing every obstacle he threw in her path without regard to her own health. Jin was forced to unleash his little pets on innocents to get her to stop pursuing him. M had to pull her back into the tower one-handed as she had failed in her attempt to leap from the tower and drag Dr. Jin down with her own body weight. Good dramatic stuff. It’s strange what players remember later.)  Anyway, the king said we had to go activate a defensive perimeter device, which was in a tower near our ships. So we tried, but we had to get through a courtyard, a narrow hallway and another courtyard, all the while being attacked by the razor-wings, which were actually pretty nasty. (Num num num, player characters can be so delicious.) M made it to the tower, but a clockwork-like snake guy was there, so he had to take care of that. Unfortunately, it turned out that the switch to activate the defenses had been pulled off, and M took a bit trying to fix it (he ended up using his sword on it). Eventually, UJ killed all her razor-wings and tried to head for the tower, but Princess Ahvcoria, who still blamed us for her brother’s death, had started shooting at her with a crossbow. The Princess was attacked by another clockworkish snake dude. UJ killed him. M helped Ahvcoria up, and he rolled so well that she became overwhelmed by his charm. The king knighted us for saving the Avians. UJ and M went back to Earth temporarily to check M’s immense arcane library for clues about the statue Jin stole. It was a statue of a serpent god, carved by a powerful ruler/artist. It had something to do with an extremely powerful weapon called the Hammer, which the serpent people had sworn to never use. The Library also had some ancient tablets that recorded a serpent man paying a lot of money for a rare substance that was later crafted into a hammer. Also in the library, we found a picture of a serpent guy (the ruler/artist, I think) with a hexagonal black object floating above one hand, which might have been made out of the rare substance. Oh yes, while on Earth, UJ checked BJ into a hospital and stashed the X-5. Oh, and UJ got to take over the alien ship, because M was rich enough to buy his own. She also tried to return the metal ball weapons, but the king said they belonged to an ancient warrior and insisted that she keep them.

That’s all for now. I’m working to advance my Diaspora conversion to Deluge. I’ll keep you posted.

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: , , , , ,
Jan 272010

This entry continues the previous battles against the evil Dr. Jin. His plans seem to involve randomly setting the city on fire. But wait! That’s not it at all! This has all been a giant charade to get his hands on Bob’s prototype aircraft. The horror!

Note carefully that the Hunter character has been modified, again. Very soon he will be replaced by another. SOTC lets this happen without fanfare or GM involvement. Very nice.

B = Bob Jumper

H = The Hunter

UJ = Union Jane

O’Houlihan gives Bob a Colt .45, which belonged to his grandfather. He said something like, “You’ll need it hanging around with these two.” B, H and UJ were in the mayor’s office, again. The mayor was upset about all the fires in the city, and now homeless people had started disappearing. So there was to be an investigation. Don’t remember where exactly the next scene was; think it was “Remembrance Park” (place with statues commemorating victims of the Petrifying Wind, from previous games) near the beach and sewer entry tunnel. UJ found a shop steward who said his brother-in-law had fallen on hard times and become homeless, and recently the guy had appeared hysterically going on about how he’d seen “devils.” But the steward said his brother-in-law was a drunkard and implied that he might also be (somewhat) crazy, so “he’s not a credible witness.” The brother-in-law was a Chinese man named Lao. Somehow B, H and UJ found Lao in a bar with this big nautically-tattooed guy behind the counter spit-cleaning a glass (actual spit: only the best for my players.) All the patrons hunched themselves over their drinks. H asked if he knew where Lao was. He said he didn’t know, so H tried to intimidate him. He said, “I might know…run, Lao!” and a fifty-something guy ran for the door. They chased him and caught up with him, but only B could win his confidence (oh yes, H has Linguistics now, so he can speak Lao’s language). Lao said he thought we were leg breakers. He said he owed money to a tong and so had ran. They asked him about the devils he had seen. He said he wasn’t drunk enough to talk about that, so they had to go to another bar, which he said was better than the first. Over at least one bottle of something cheap and nasty, he talked about the devils. He said they came out of the sewers, and there seemed to be a lot of them. Don’t remember if he could describe them or not. They convinced him with more alcohol to tell whereabouts he saw them. He also said his friend Blake had gone missing, and he’d appreciate being told if he was found; said “He’s good for some rum.” Turned out that it was the exact place where the urchin kid had seen the creatures. Now, though, there was phosphorescent slime in the tunnel. They went in and eventually found the place where UJ fought the tiger guy last game. Although now there was a new, large hole with claw marks. These appeared to have been made by a large burrowing beast. B determined that the marks were too big to have been a tiger.  They entered the hole. Eventually they heard chanting and as they approached, they saw a man with white hair and a rattle doing the chanting, in front of a door with symbols on it. Also there were some frog creatures with tentacles instead of heads, who were trying to keep him from chanting. Okay, I don’t remember the sequence of the following frog thing-related events (up until the huge room with the UFO–see below), but here’s what I do remember. Eventually, the frogs were all killed except one, which escaped by squeezing into a small crack in the wall. H broke part of the wall down with his new Brickbreaker stunt. Somewhere along the line the chanter guy introduced himself as Joe Longshanks, local shaman. He said that the things were the Children of the Worm, and that (occasionally) at night they would steal some or a few of his people, and then magical wards (like the one he’d been working on) would be placed to drive them back/keep them away, but somehow they’d gotten past the wards, and because it’s always dark in the sewers, they were more bold about attacking people. He thought some new thing was stirring them up somehow. H managed to kill the escaping creature, but not before it made a piping noise. This turned out to be a call for help from more frog creatures, who eventually turned into about thirty creatures who split up to attack each one of the party. (One group attacked B and Joe together, and Joe gave B a Companion bonus). One of the creatures was bigger than the others so H attacked that one. It was a long and Fate Point-diminishing fight, but the frog things were all killed. Joe led the way onward deeper into the tunnels. On the way saw alienesque murals depicting worm history. The murals gradually got cruder the deeper they went. Arrived at these two big doors with marble carvings of strange guard-like creatures. It was locked, but they managed to figure out the mechanism and open the doors. Inside was an immense, bigger-than-a-coliseum-size room with pools with glowing fish. There was a UFO sitting inside. Also there was a woman who turned out to have a mechanical body. She was next to a giant worm. The worm seemed weak. She gestured, and a guy who looked like the fire samurai from the first game concerning Dr. Jin appeared. This guy, however, could change his arms into various weapons. He turned them into blades, and attacked. B, like a blur, ran for and entered the UFO. At this point Joe sort of disappeared, on account of we all forgot about him (but the GM says he actually was still there, but sneaking around or something). The woman was able to touch the worm and cause it to summon frog things. The frog things went to help the samurai guy, who, it was somehow revealed, was called Unkillable (U). H attacked U. UJ attacked U’s frog minions. UJ eventually started doing a block to keep the minions off H. B was able to figure out that the UFO had a weapon, and how to use it, and he fired it at the woman, but she managed to get the worm to summon more frogs to shield her. H began attacking U’s armor. Eventually B lasered all of the frogs protecting the woman, so she compelled the giant worm to throw itself against the UFO, which caused it to die. She entered the UFO. When the worm died, the remaining frogs left. UJ started helping H bash U’s armor. U was extremely tough. It took the longest time just to make a hole in the armor; most of the armor-attacking part of the fight only managed to dent it. The woman surrendered to B in exchange for her life. She said she was called the Unblinking Eye (UE) (she had one glowing eye). B fired the laser at U. UJ and H managed to get out of the way, but there was a big old shock wave and UJ was thrown into some sewage and had to struggle onto a dry surface and get helped up by H. H went to see what had happened to U. There was nothing left of him but one foot. H and UJ entered the UFO, and B figured out how to fly it out of the room through a hole. It turned out that UE & U were the last of Dr. Jin’s seven demons, although she was now free of his control (something about how she’d been a pawn, and he told her that if she survived, she would be freed). (Ha ha ha, such trusting players.) She had been acting as a sort of administrator for him. She said that he did all this to distract some heroes while he went to steal a prototype aircraft called the X-5, which as related in the last game, is B’s plane. So B flew to the X-5’s airfield, but it was taking off with a yellow glow. Jin had modified it somehow. B chased it very high into the atmosphere, or maybe it was the beginning of outer space, because these meteor things began trying to hit the UFO. UE said, “Master, he wants this.” (That is, he meant to lure the UFO/the party up here.) B was able to evade the meteor things, but Jin managed to escape.

Now things start to get weird.

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , , ,
Jan 102010

Greetings,

For today’s adventure we were joined by a new player. Bob Jumper is a master pilot with an experimental aircraft and a Flash Gordon flair. Those of you who GM regularly will note subtle changes in my world as a new player’s goals are injected into my previous designs.

UJ – Union Jane

H – The Hunter

Bob – Bob Jumper

A strange semicircular cloud has appeared over San Francisco. Detective O’Houlihan(O’H) approaches UJ and H with a summons from the mayor (Sunny Jim). So, they go to his office. They find there as well Bob Jumper, an ace pilot, ladies’ man, and adventurer (also of the Century Club). The mayor tells him that they want a pilot to investigate the cloud, and they need a really good one because of all the flying concrete debris from the destroyed Etheropia. The mayor also says that an explanation is needed for all the unsavory occurrences in the city lately, and that he doesn’t have one, and that’s when he reveals the journalists. They flash annoying camera bulbs, and ask H how many people he’s killed. At first he gives them a cold stare, but then he says, “What business is it of yours?” UJ tells them that the city is going to be attacked by a Chinese crime boss who calls himself Doctor Jin. Bob tells them that basically they’re wasting valuable time because the cloud has to be investigated, and our intrepid heroes manage finally to get out of the mayor’s office with their reputations intact. O’H says that there was an incident that he wanted to call attention to, and which he couldn’t pin on UJ and H because they were at the press conference. Police had gotten a call, and found 16 bodies of The Dawn Fist tong members. UJ asked to see the crime scene. UJ, H and Bob all went. The bodies were in a building with no windows and only one door. There were oddly shaped long glass shards on the floor. The bodies had claw marks from a tiger, and there were claw imprints of a lizard on the floor. This was determined by H. It appeared that the people had been brought into the building and then killed when something very heavy had crashed through the roof (the building had two or three more stories) and killed them all. There also turned out to be secret rooms with more bodies in them. One of the rooms opened onto a sewer passage. The party goes in, and hears sobbing. It turns out to be an Asian woman who by her dress seems to have been a cigarette girl for the Dawn Fist’s gambling parlor. Bob calms her down, and gets a police translator named Rosie. Rosie says the woman keeps saying “The tiger came out of the darkness, and it walked like a man” or something. Bob and H go to Bob’s plane, an experimental, well-armored plane with guns called the X-5, to go check on the cloud. UJ goes to find a map of the sewer system at the library. Bob and H find near the cloud a roughly humanoid thing with dragonfly-like wings (out of character: The Brother of the Wind = demon #2 of 7). H jumps onto it, while Bob shoots at it. H then tries to pull its wings off. He successfully pulls one off and realizes he is above the city; way above the city. Bob flies the X-5 in an attempt to catch H as he falls. The creature lets out a cry, and a Chinese dragon appears (out of character: King of the Storm, demon #3 of 7). It sends lightning Bob’s and H’s way. Meanwhile, UJ locates a map at the city planner’s office after meeting some helpful people at the library. She finds the sewer section from the last adventure with the Axe Gang, and sees that the whole sewer system is connected. She finds a place with a manhole entrance where she thinks a man-tiger could be hiding. She’s escorted there by a police officer assigned by O’H to keep an eye on her because “I don’t trust her.” She enters and finds a stash of money littering the floor. Then she hears a metallic growl and is attacked by the huge tiger man (out of character: Lord of the Hunt, demon #4 of 7–moving right along aren’t we?). Meanwhile, H tries to jump onto the dragon and ends up stuck on its tail. Bob has to catch H, again. Bob points out that this is new for him. He usually only catches damsels in distress, but he’ll make an exception for H. The X-5 gets damaged by dragon lightning. Bob has H pilot the plane (which he does amazingly well for someone without the Pilot skill) while Bob makes his repairs in mid-air. They shoot at the dragon some more. H tries to jump on the dragon again. The dragonfly man finally hit the ground, out of commission. H ended up falling onto/into a building. By now they’ve helped set fire to and otherwise damage a number of buildings. They eventually kill the dragon. I think they even caused it to fall apart. (Metal and armor rain down onto the unprotected streets.) The dragon, the dragonfly man, and, as it’s eventually revealed, the tiger man were part clockwork machine, like the “fire samurai” from the last adventure (obviously these were three of Dr. Jin’s seven “demons”). It is discovered that hidden up in the cloud there was a balloon craft with the remains of another clockwork/organic creature. The creature was putting this yellow stuff into the air that had something to do with/was causing the cloud. After the dragon’s demise the clouds above the city became normal again. Somewhere along the line Bob flies through a building, which was cool. Somewhere else along the line he also informs H about the parachutes under the seats, which H notes would have been a big help a little while ago when he was falling. Bob says, “We’re not done falling yet!” The plane is again damaged, but he has to land to fix it. Back in the sewer UJ and the tiger man beat on each other. The tiger man eventually decides to vanish into shadows, and UJ with her crappy Alertness can’t find him (oh yes, she got a flashlight from O’H) until he jumps her from behind. Eventually she beats him up so bad that he ends up trying to crawl away towards the ocean. Bob lands the X-5 at an airfield where he gets people to help with repairs. UJ hauls the tiger man up out of the sewer and tries to take him to the police station. She finds the old Chinese guy who was the interpreter in the last game and asks him to ask the creature where Jin is. At first the guy doesn’t want to ask, but he relents. The creature surprises them all and says in English, “He is already here,” and dies. A ticking sound is heard from the body. UJ yells “Run!” and “There’s a bomb!” It so happens that Bob’s nearby, and that he has the Aspect “Throw Me the Bomb.” Thankfully, he disarms the bomb, and the city is saved, for now. But as H kept saying, “The press is going to eat us alive!”

The power of SOTC is again revealed as a player can drop in without so much as a character sheet and integrate into the story almost seamlessly. Bob Jumper also took my adventure into a more sci-fi dieselpunk direction than I had originally intended, as will no doubt be seen in future installments.

Be well.

Posted by Lodger Tagged with: , , , ,
Dec 252009

Greetings to those of you in the Sunset World. I was hoping to have another Diaspora writeup, but circumstance conspires against us. (Doesn’t it always?)

But, no matter. Our next Spirit of the Century adventure followed some reading I did about San Francisco and its Barbary Coast district. I highly recommend The Secrets of San Francisco by Chaosium for details of this peculiar era of Old Frisco’s history.

Again, my littlest player came through for me. What would I do without her?

Union Jane – UJ

The Hunter – H

Suddenly UJ and H find themselves in San Francisco in 1927. There’s going to be a memorial service on Thursday for the first victims of the Petrifying Wind, in which there will be an official unveiling of commemorative statues. UJ and H are to represent the Century Club. But since H took the silver coins from the ship in the last adventure, he and UJ decide to get them appraised and sold. So they go to a coin appraiser, who tells them they’re worth twenty dollars apiece. He can’t buy them (he can’t afford to), but he knows someone who will, so he sets up an appointment for them with this guy in a few days. Outside the building UJ and H hear a commotion and see that there’s a man beating up an old woman, and they’re surrounded by a crowd of women. H dramatically jumps out a window to save her (he lands stylishly on top of a car, blowing out all its windows), while UJ runs down some stairs and out of the building to help. H attacks the man, who is tattooed, strangely. Eventually the man decides to run, and H chases him. The women carry the old woman to a building marked “The Gray Swan,” (turns out to be a brothel) and UJ follows them. In the meantime, H attacks and kills the guy. He searches the body and finds some papers written in Chinese. Also of note was that the guy had tattoos on his hands. One hand with a sunrise and the other with a sunset. H heads to the Gray Swan to find UJ. When UJ enters “The Swan” she sees the old woman being tended to by a white woman (all the other women are Asian). They’re all naturally suspicious of UJ and H, but UJ convinces them that they don’t mean any harm and want to help. Turns out the white woman is their madam. She implies that the old woman (Mama Han) was targeted by a tong, and that the tongs have become increasingly hostile to anyone who defies them. She also said that the Asian women were “slaves” who’d been brought from China. There are three tongs: Dawn Fist, Axe Gang, and One Thousand Fists. Mama Han (a former “slave”) has “the sight,” says the madam, and she keeps murmuring that “The hunter is coming.” She has also said that a “Doctor Jin” (Dr J) is coming. UJ and H take “the hunter” to be H. Dr J is apparently a very evil person from China that no one likes to speak of. The madam gets one of the Asian women who can speak English (named Rosie, because why the hell not?) to tell UJ and H about him. She said that Dr J makes “demons,” (think she was also the one who mentioned that he traveled with “the Seven”) and that when he comes, something bad is going to happen. She also thinks that maybe one of the tongs has insulted Dr J, and that’s why he’s on his way. The Axe Gang has heavily fortified their headquarters. The madam also took UJ and H down into a secret room to show us a bunch of women sewing, who she said would be in danger when Dr J came. H wanted to find the Axe Gang’s headquarters, but the women wouldn’t tell us. (They might not have known, actually.) Turned out that a union acquaintance of UJ’s had mentioned the Axe Gang, so UJ and H went to talk to him. He said he’d met a coolie who knew about the Axe Gang, and told us where to reach him. The coolie was found in a bakery, where UJ and H were first greeted by a Chinese woman. UJ had to bribe her to get her to let them see the coolie, and then UJ had to bribe the coolie to get him to talk, since he was afraid of the Axe Gang and Dr J. Of Dr J, he said that a tong in China had killed Dr J’s “grocer boy,” who was actually an old man (even though it was said that Dr J doesn’t eat like normal people, among other horrible things), and that afterward the tong’s hideouts started getting destroyed. The coolie wouldn’t tell us how to get to the Axe Gang’s headquarters, so UJ asked if there was a back way or secret entrance. He mentioned a sewer, and said that the leader here of the Axe Gang was fond of mussels and noodles. The coolie mentioned Pier 9. (This pier happened to be in the same location as the Petrifying Wind memorial statues.) He mentioned more than once something along the lines of “When they torture you to find out who told you about them, don’t mention me!” In gratitude for his help, H bought a cake. As he carried the cake through the city streets, urchins started following him. He gave the cake to them to get them to stop following him. As UJ and H headed to the pier at night (H said to look for noodles and mussels as a gift), they were confronted by five guys. One seemed to ask for beer money, and UJ said, “What?” He said “Screw it,” and they attacked. UJ and H killed them, after which they went to the beach where the pier was, but it was high tide and they couldn’t detect anything that looked like some kind of entranceway. They decided to hang out on a park bench. H didn’t have to sleep, but UJ rested on the bench. A policeman named O’Houlihan (O’H) confronted them and told them that they weren’t supposed to be there, and did they know anything about these five guys who’d just been killed nearby? UJ and H said they didn’t, but O’H continued to harass them, so they showed him their Century Club membership cards, which finally caused him to let them go about their business. Since it was almost daylight but too early to find noodles and mussels, and it was almost time for the appointment with the coin buyer, UJ and H went to a coffee vendor and UJ had some coffee. They eventually met the buyer. H and the buyer haggled a bit, and eventually the price of ten dollars per coin was agreed upon (because he couldn’t afford to buy them all for twenty dollars each, he said.) They all went to a bank nearby so he could pay H, which he did. There were one thousand coins, by the way. All of a sudden there was a really loud noise outside. The buyer left in the opposite direction of the noise. H jumped out a window, again, to see what was going on. UJ rolled 4 pluses and impressively jumped off a fire escape after him. Turned out that a boat had plowed into the pier (Pier 9, of course). There was fire, debris and screaming people. Firefighters started arriving. UJ and H went to help, and heard a woman screaming, “My baby!” Turned out to be a kid in the water, hanging on to a piece of debris. H and UJ swam out and H grabbed the kid. Somehow UJ helped him swim and/or hang onto the kid as they tried to get back to shore. ( I nearly accidentally killed the entire party here, oops.) They actually got pretty burned before they got back onto the beach, but the kid was safe. They approached the boat, which was flying a Greek flag. O’H came up to them and “asked” if they wanted to board the ship. So they did, followed by O’H and a few of his men. (H jumped onto the ship, UJ nearly fell trying to get on but was pulled up by H, then the total dork policemen went up on a ladder.) First thing that was noticed was the two Chinese symbols probably painted in blood on this door of a cabin on deck. O’H got an elderly Chinese man who was their translator, and this guy said the symbols meant “Dr J arrives” or something like that. Two of O’H’s men opened the cabin door, which was unlocked, went in and then ran out in a state of almost-puking. UJ and H went in and saw that the “steering wheel” or whatever it’s called on a ship had been mostly torn out and replaced by something that was partly made out of human muscles. UJ and H searched the rest of the ship. All they found of note (other than that there was no one and no bodies on board) was that the galley was bloody and appeared to have been used as an operating room. Wait a minute, there was something else, which was that there seemed to have been cushioned pod-like areas that looked like they were meant to protect seven things that were now no longer in evidence. At some point UJ and H left the ship and O’H and his men, and found these kids on the beach, who said that one of their number (named Billy) said that he saw monsters leaving the ship. The other kids thought Billy was lying, but UJ and H questioned him, and he said he saw flying creatures and “a lady with one red eye,” and that (at least some) of them had entered this hole, which UJ and H hadn’t seen before because of the high tide (uh-oh). The kids said they weren’t supposed to go in there because of high tide. H bought the kids some noodles and mussels from a beach stand. Then he and UJ entered the hole, which was a tunnel with burn marks (with the magic of Fate points, they miraculously found that they had flashlights, which they needed to see in the dark tunnel). Eventually they found (a) room(s) with bodies and more burn marks. At some point, they found a door, inside of which were the remains of some damaged stairs, which they had difficulty climbing. They then entered a room that was on fire, and there they were attacked by 25 tong members with axes. At the start, fifteen attacked H and ten attacked UJ. Eventually UJ and H killed them all, although they sustained quite a bit of damage. They then reached a room where they saw a “man” wearing strange, Asian-looking armor who had fire instead of eyes and who was killing the leader of the Axe Gang. The creature jumped out of a window. H attacked and did so well that he severed one of the creature’s arms. Some other people showed up–firemen? But they didn’t stay long. UJ and H kept attacking the creature, and were doing very well, in sharp contrast to when they had to fight the 25 tong members. At one point the creature had trouble turning its head. Eventually H got the idea to attack the creature’s armor. He rolled so well that he clawed off a piece of its chestpiece, revealing a clockwork mixed in with human organs, including two eye stalks. The thing then burst into flames, and some fluid spilled out of it, and it was no more. Later it was determined that if UJ and H could understand Mandarin, they would have known that the creature said “Thank you” when it died. It turned out that that wasn’t Dr J (as H thought earlier), but one of Dr J’s “Seven.” And then that annoyance O’H showed up, accused UJ and H of being suspicious and tried to handcuff them, but UJ intimidated him into not doing so.

And the session ended there.

’till next time. Enjoy the Holidays.

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