Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Half Damned

There are those who are born without a full soul. No one is quite certain why, but at birth they are missing some key ingredient. The world distrusts these half damned children, and to some entities they represent a chance to engage with the physical world to do and feel all the things denied them as beings of spirit. soon after birth these entities seek to inhabit the empty half of the child's soul. they offer power and ability, though should the child accept they are one step closer to damnation and the loss of agency.With every choice they are one step closer to a stranger world.

Half Damned: A person born with less than a full allotment of Anima, the stuff from which the soul is made. They are called this because of their tendency to draw the attention of corrupt spirits and become dangerous and powerful.
Rider: When a spirit places itself within the body of a half damned it is known as a rider.
Spirit: Immaterial creatures with a great deal of power, but very little ability to use it. Should they manifest through a half damned they can exert a vast array of power in the physical world.
Occupation: When it is said a half damned is occupied it means that a spirit(or spirits, theoretically) is riding the half damned.

The Nature of Spiritual Entities
Spiritual entities are elemental in nature. Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Aether each have their own court of spiritual entities. As you the spirit takes more control, the body of the half damned host begins to align itself more with the elemental nature of the spiritual rider. This has led to the rise of magical races of man: Undines(water), Jinn(fire), Cthon(earth), Harpies(wind), and Daemons(aether).

Undines: When a pure spirit they are spirits of emotion and artistic muse. When they manifest through a half damned they become secretive creatures of obsession and desire.
Jinn: When a mere spirit they are innovation and willpower. When inhabiting a mortal form they become singularly focused on social systems and analyses to the point of paranoia.
Cthon: In the spirit they are growth and endurance. When they occupy a person they become secretive and stubborn. They view no life as valuable, save for their own.
Harpies: When in the spirit they are protectors and healers. Occupying a mortal frame they become greedy and gluttonous beyond all reason. They are called the snatchers, for they will take from you until it hurts.
Daemons: Spirits of intellect and reason, when they inhabit a mortal frame they become tainted with desire and emotion. They will twist the truth into lies and break oaths almost as a rule.

Character Creation
Your character is created as normal for Fate Core with one exception. Replace the last aspect of the Phase Trio with your Rider aspect. Your Rider aspect represents the core desire of your spirit rider. This aspect is created by the person on your left and acts as a second trouble aspect.

You have a corruption consequence track of three consequences, whenever you need it you can tap into it and gain a corruption consequence and also a power bonus. The first time you gain a bonus point of refresh, the second you gain two refresh, and the third you gain three. Each consequence requires two fate points to refuse the compel(rather than the normal one).  Your corruption fate points need to look different from your normal fate points, or have some other way of keeping track of them.

Example consequences
There are three consequences you can take when taking corruption: Delirium, Stigma, and Blight.
Delirium: This represents a mental consequence. It is giving in to the desires of your Rider and manifesting emotional and intellectual traits that are not your own.
Stigma: By channeling the energies of the spirit world your physical form begins to alter in obvious and disturbing ways, whether it be through skin tone, restructuring of the body into a more alien form, or even stranger. When you are exhibiting Stigma, you cannot pretend to be normal.  
Blight: When you are manifesting Blight the world around you cannot abide your presence. Whether it is through waves of heat, ice, moisture, desiccation, strong emotion, or whatever else this consequence is the most disturbing. It makes it impossible to hide, and fills the world with more pain. Only other half damned can avoid the damage of your Blight.

Recovering corruption
Recovering from corruption consequences requires a lot of work. All of them are treated as severe consequences for the purposes of recovery. Once the requisite time has gone bye you must take specific action related to your desire to rid yourself of your rider.  When you recover you lose the bonuses along with the consequence.

Corrupted stunts
Once you have a consequence you can gain corrupted stunts. Corrupted stunts only work when you have an appropriate corruption consequence. When you have a corruption stunt you can invoke your corruption aspect to instantly succeed with style at a task, no roll required. You can even use it to succeed with skills that would normally require special knowledge or equipment. It will let you shoot someone even if you don't have a gun, or perform surgery drunk with no skills.

Let me know what you think.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Final Legion

In a far future much remains the same and much has changed. While technology and understanding has grown, our greed and shortsightedness remain the same. So it was that the Last War began. Some called it the world war three while others simply called it the last. For surely mankind would destroy itself now. It was a war fought sideways, no massed armies or great battles. Just small units of soldiers with weapons too powerful to control hitting targets with precision and speed. It was the end.

Until the Legion arrived. Heroes born, they used their technology and tactics to quell the violence and stop the war. At the time no one knew from where they came, or why they did what they did. Some claim that it was all conspiracy to take over the world. When the war ended, they stepped aside and let peace makers do what they would to save the world.

And now, thanks to the efforts of those brave beings, we have a lasting peace. Not built on false promises and weak compromise, but a peace built by those who had witnessed the horrors of a world gone mad. Peace, now and forever.

As to the Legionnaires? Some have gone back into peace time, working normal jobs and living normal lives. Some vanished at the end of the war. And some...some have turned their talents to mercenary work, and worse. There are still those who will pay to have violence done, and those who see themselves as above the law. The brave men and women of the Science Police work day and night to bring these rogue offenders to justice. Rest assured the peace will be maintained.

OK, so what is this?
This is a game of super-heroics in a world that no longer needs heroes. A game of hope and courage. A game of power and consequences. You play as former members of the Final Legion. It was formed by like minded individuals with unique power, skills, technology, or perspective. They banded together for one simple purpose, to end the Last War. They succeeded. The war has been over for 18 years and the world knows peace an prosperity. However, some soldiers cannot leave the war behind, and some evils cannot be removed so easily. There are those in the world who seek anarchy and the reign of the strong. Some were your old comrades in the legion, some were soldiers of one of the former powers, and some are new to this world and to their power. You play members of the Legion who could have put down their weapons(and perhaps they did), but when they saw how ill prepared the world was for threats of this magnitude, you suited up once more. The people have all but forgotten you as anything but comic book stories, when they see you in action they fear your power. Yet they need you. Who else is there? The Science Police are either too weak or too corrupt to do anything about anything. The Council of Harmony has no army. All that stands between the helpless and the tyrants is you.

The Rules
You make your characters as normal for Fate Core. You have access to a number of Extras, should you want them. Otherwise the game operates as normal.

You have made breakthroughs in physics and engineering so far beyond normal science that it often looks like magic to the layman. With Zero Point Energy(or advanced Nano-robotics, or whatever breakthrough makes sense) you can do things normally outside the bounds of possibility. You have constructed wonderful gadgets that allow you to stand up to tanks, mechs, and even greater threats. Perhaps you have built a super suit, an acceleration harness, or something really out there. On the field you use your pluck and ingenuity along side your super weapons to win the day. You have access to the Gadgets and Gear rules from the Fate System Toolkit. Keep in mind that the GM can compel cause you to lose your weapons, or have the power go out. It has been a long time since the war, and the money is not as good as it used to be.

Much like a tech you are enhanced by the technology you use. However, you do not just use it, you are it. You have augmented yourself beyond any limitations your flesh may have had. Having once been a creature of flesh, weak and small, you are aware of how frightened and alone everyone really is. Other Augs may use their enhancements as a way to separate themselves from mankind, but you see it as a a way to protect and nurture all the diverse and needy people in the world. There is more than one way to perfection, and there is more than one kind of strength, You use the rules for Cybernetics from the Fate System Toolkit. You may be compelled when you must face a dilemma between doing what is practical and helping someone in need.

Ultras & Uplifts
You are the next step in evolution, whether a genetically modified human or an uplifted animal. During the Last War their were a great many experiments in super soldiers and eugenics. You represent one of the few who came out of those programs sane and a success. You have seen the worst that world has to offer, viewed as a piece of property rather than a thinking person with feelings and dreams. You didn't let it get you down though, you sought to prove hem wrong. In the Legion you found what you had always longed for, family.

Now that the legion is disbanded, many of your fellow ultras and Uplifts have become disillusioned and bitter, but not you. If you want a better world, go out and make it. There is even an uplift on the Council of Harmony. Things are getting better every day. That doesn't mean that folks don't need help, though. Good isn't perfect and we are a long way from good enough. But hate is not the answer. When you make an Uplift or an Ultra you may use either the super skills or super stunts presented in the Fate System Toolkit, though you must reduce your starting refresh by one to use one or the other. You must also reference your genetic modification in your high concept. This can be compelled to put you in situations where people treat you as less than human.

Current Issues
Choose one of the following issues, or make up one of your own, to be the central issue of the first campaign arc.

Shadows of the War: Some soldiers could not leave the war behind. Even some of the Legion had trouble adapting to civilian life. A persuasive veteran has been gathering a group together to bring about some evil end.

  • Preacher: He is ex Legion, he should know better. Preacher is a Tech with a gift for oratory. He has gathered up a powerful group of ex-Legionnaires and soldiers and has begun a series of high tech heists. No one has yet figured what his end goals are and what he needs all that technology for. 
War in the Genetic Ghetto: Ultras and Uplifts are rare. Most people go their whole lives without meeting one. That said, there are still enough of them to concern baseline folk. After the war, they were declared persons, and given their freedom, but no one wants to work with one. Add in the large percentage of Ultras and Uplifts with mental issues(either from genetic tampering or PTSD), and the genetic ghetto was an inevitability. Now a gang is moving into the ghetto and pushing folks around. It is only a matter of time until someone snaps and bodies start hitting the ground.

  • Victor Flash: Leader of a large color gang in the character's city, he has recently come into possession of a lot of cutting edge technology and is using it to expand his territory.
  • Dr. Verhooven: he works for the R&D division of the Science Police and decided that he was going to do something about the Ghetto. To him it is a blot on the perfect harmony of the post war world. Do his superiors know of his indiscretion? The cops have been conspicuously absent for many of the worst crimes.

Pending Issues
Pick, or make up, a couple of the pending issues.

Why Would They Store That There?!: The Final Legion Museum houses many wonderful exhibits and displays. From the Hall of Holograms to the Sentinel's Vigil thousands of people thrill to their stories and pause in remembrance of the horrors of war. However it also houses many artifacts and devices that were actually used by the Legion or by their foes. Unknown to most, some of those weapons still work. there are people, powerful people, who would pay any amount to get hold of the power that the Final Legion once held.

The Knight has Fallen: Paladin, the former field leader of the Legion has gone missing. Upon further investigation many former Legion members have gone missing in the last few months. Is there some sort of killer on the loose, or perhaps a revenge squad of some sort? It is a race against the clock as  the players try and figure out who is after the Legion, and what they want.

Wheels Within Wheels: The Grand Architect was the First Legionnaire. It was he who brought those first together and formed them into a team. Throughout the War he defined courage and the ideals of freedom and peace. When the war ended, of course he was invited to sit on the council. And sit he has, for 18 years. It is odd, how he downplays the legion and pushes for more government control. Has he become corrupt? What could you do, even if he had?

Rogue States: There are those places where the new peace was not accepted, where barbarity and hate are still the paths to power. All in all they have little authority or ability to make themselves more than a nuisance. Together these are known as the rogue states. Ruled over by warlords and tin-pot dictators clinging to their technology salvaged from the end of the War, these places are havens for the mercenaries and criminals of the world. Should anyone unite these Rogue states, well that would be a different story all together.

Inspirations: Legion Of Superheroes(I love the Legion, and so I had to take stuff from them, science police and the name of the Final Legion are the primary examples), The Giver(mostly for the utopia that is secretly a distopia, play those buts up and the game goes in really dark directions), Buck Rogers(More things should have Buck and Wilma), Tom Strong, Atomic Robo, Overwatch(the video was what inspired me to write this), The Incredibles(I really like that movie, and it was present in my mind throughout all of this post)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Coded in the Blood

The idea: Corporations have been scrambling to unlock the secrets of the gene since the discovery of DNA. With little to no oversight much is learned and many shortcuts are taken. Genetics is the secret to controlling the future and making all the money. The first dinosaur was cloned in 1984, and by the nineties nearly anything was possible. Now corporations use genetic hybrid soldiers and spies to fight their secret wars and wars of secrets. This is Burn Notice, but with the TMNT.

Inspirations: TMNT, Jurassic Park, Secret of NIMH, Burn Notice, The Moreau Series, Dark Angel

Creating Characters
Creating characters for this hack is a bit different than in standard Fate Core. The aspects have been changed a bit and the  skills have been replaced with Roles, which I will go into a bit when we get there. Also there will be a couple of options for what you can do for stunts and extras, and we will dive into those at the appropriate time.

Concept: This aspect represents your basic personality and how people view you. Some sample archetypes you can build from are: Hero(Courage and Competence), Caregiver(Compassion and Generosity), Explorer(True to Self and Going Your Own Way), Creator(Creativity and imagination), Fool(improvisation and happiness). If you are having trouble come up with an archetype aspect use those examples as a basis for constructing your aspect. Combine your basic personality with your role in the team. Some sample roles include: Wheel Man, Hitter, Hacker, Face Man, Mastermind, Spymaster, Cleaner, Mechanic. Don't feel limited to those examples, if you have a better idea, by all means, go for it. Juts bear in mind that your characters are meant to be part of an elite infiltration and espionage team.
Genotype: You were born in a test tube, a hybrid of human and animal DNA, property of a corporation and trained to do the bidding of your corporate masters. This aspect represents the species of creature that you are, or that half of you are. You could also play a human member of the team, if you think that the corporation would not send expensive and difficult to replace assets into the field unsupervised.
Trouble: This is standard trouble as seen in Fate Core. What gets in the way of your character's goals. Try not to take a trouble relating to being hunted by the corporation if you intend to run through the campaign framework I lay out in this post, as that will be a central premise of the game.
2 Bonds: Bonds are aspects that link you to the other players' characters or non-player characters. Talk it over with your table and come up with some good links with the rest of the group or the setting.

Roles in the Field
Roles operate more like skills than like approaches, in that they are competence based, to a degree. However they are a little more open ended than professions, and so kind of fit into the area between professions and approaches. You describe how you are doing a thing through the lens of your spy training. Currently the Roles are rough and maybe described less than perfect. If I decide to do a bigger work up of this setting I will definitely rework these to be a bit more precise. I have a real urge to do these as free form skills. So if you want to try that out, please let me know how that goes. As it stands, if it makes sense to use a role in a given situation, they can use it. When making your character you get one role at +3(good), two at +2(Fair), and three at +1(Average).

Wetwork: Spilling blood, assassination, murder, any type of fighting and the like. Can also be used for intimidation, but only if you are really willing to harm or kill the person you are intimidating. Used primarily for attack and defense.
Surveillance: monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people for the purpose of influencing, managing, directing, or protecting them. Use of electronic devices and direct observation. Generally used for overcome and create advantage.
Social Engineering: psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. This is your go to role for manipulating and getting along with people. This is used for create advantage and overcome actions.
Black Bag: Breaking and entering(clandestine). This covers physical stealth as well as lock picking, picking pockets, and getting around security or observation. Overcome and create advantage, though it could be used for defense in the right circumstances.
Intelligence Collection Management: Dealing with the logistical and tactical concerns of an operation. Lore skill,basically, but with added perception and movement stuff. Basically this skill covers understanding what is going on around you and making the most of that knowledge. Usually used for overcome or create advantage actions.
Counterintelligence: information gathered and activities conducted to protect against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassinations conducted for or on behalf of foreign powers, organizations or persons or international terrorist activities. This is used for create advantage, overcome, and defense actions.

Stunts & Gear
There are two ways of doing stunts and gear for this setting. The first is to use standard Stunts from Fate Accelerated and create advantage rolls to represent the unique abilities and specialized gear. The other way of doing it, and my preferred method, is using the asset system from Jadepunk. I would just expand techniques to be able to handle any weird powers and animal hybrid might need and remove the requirement for jade in devices.

Once per session each player may have a Flashback. The flashback must in someway relate to the current situation. Have the player give a brief description of what it is and how it relates to the scene. After the description have the player create a relevant aspect. They gain a free invoke on that aspect. Also the player should make a note

The Company
GTRI(Genetic Technologies Research Institute)
Founded in 1981 by Malcolm Hammond-Grant with the dream of creating dinosaurs, GTRI made great headway in the early days when no laws existed to deal with what they were doing. The cloned their first dinosaur in 1984 and founded Mesozoic Land in 1989, allowing the paying public to see dinosaurs, alive and thriving, for the first time ever. By 1994 GTRI had moved far beyond merely cloning to direct manipulation and hybridization. by the end of the 90s it and its chief rivals(SynGen, Neurological Innovations, and Weyland-Yutani) had many hybrids ready for full production. The American Government had used small squads in the late 90s in the War on Drugs. However it was the War on Terror was a great boon to these countries, as powerful deniable soldiers were seen as a necessary evil to win out against the current foe.  Now, 14 years later every government wants Hybrid Soldiers to fight in their clandestine wars. Businesses and Power Players also utilize these assets in their games of international commerce. No one has yet successfully bid for these Hybrids to be viewed as Sapient life. There have been a surprising number of unexplained deaths involving those who push for it though.

Important NPCs
The Company Liaison
Name: Dirk Gunschotte
Aspects: Inveterate Schemer; These Creatures Are My Way To The Top; Profit Above All
Skills: The Corporate Game +3, Company Secrets +2, Tradecraft and Survival +1

The Doctor
Name: Marina Navarre
Aspects: Top of My Class; I Must See To Their Health; Sometimes I Have Second Thoughts
Skills: Master of Medicine +3, Psychology +2, Running Away and Smoothing The Way +1

The Technician
Name: Malinda Jones
Aspects: Cutting Edge Engineer; Machines Over People; Gunschotte is Bad News
Skills: Practical Engineering +3; Research and Development +2; Investigation and Countermeasures +1

Internal Security Squad
Aspects: Follow Orders
Skills: Run and Gun +2; Silence and Service +1

The Campaign Breakdown
This is just a very basic frame work to showcase how this sort of campaign might go. I would recommend using some of the tools for world building from some previous Fate games. City Building from Dresden Files would work the best, I think, as it would fit the concept of Burned Hybrid Spies who are hunted by the company and must make the most of the connections they can find.

Intro Scene
The PCs return from a mission to be debriefed. Take a moment and have the players describe a great moment their character had in the previous mission. The mission was successful and they arrive at the safe house unharmed. The safe-house is in a nondescript warehouse along the river, lake, or other natural boundary. When they arrive, have the debriefing start, but let the players know that their characters are aware that something is off. There are far too many soldiers/guards hanging around. As the debriefing gets under way, feel free to emphasize an ominous and oppressive atmosphere. As the scene goes forward Dirk will ask the players to give themselves up for destruction. He will tell them he knows what they have been up to. Make sure the players are aware that their characters do not know what they are accused of. Then the fight will probably start and players being players, they will probably escape.

The rest of the campaign will focus on escaping, finding out what it is they are accused of, and trying to get back at those that framed them. This could lead into all sorts of interesting places and to any number of interesting people. There could be a Mutant Underground in the city led by a radical leader seeking to violently end the repression and slavery of his people. A network of criminal gangs all being led by a dangerous and unpredictable mob boss. They could make friends or enemies with reporters, police detectives, corporate execs, and any number of interesting people. Keep in mind the mood of paranoia and competence. Let the characters be awesome, but also let them know that there are bigger fish in the sea.

So what do you think? I would love to hear any critiques, comments, or criticisms. Also if you use this to run a game, let me know how it goes.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Expanding The Understood Fate Paradigm

Earlier today +Anders Melsom expressed concern about Fate as an RPG, I will quote the relevant bits here, if you wish to see the full text here it is.
A game with the mechanics of Fate seems perfectly able to deal with faces and places from both real world history, contemporary themes and "High Literature". So why will we probably never see “Fate-Ibsen”, “Don Quixote Accelerated” or “In Search of Lost Time RPG"? You have to respect the least common denominators of our culture, some people would say, stick to the tropes. If you mention "Star Wars", “Harry Potter”, “Conan" or about any american tv-show, everybody gets it.

Is this an issue at all? Are all deviations from the norms of genre fiction doomed to be overly pretentious or just plainly boring? Does it smell of edutainment? Is playing "boyishly" all we really yearn for, staying in touch with the child within every man? Are Rpg's, Fate included, best left to deal with the debris of popular culture?

This led to quite a bit of spirited discussion, and got me thinking. Why is it that Genre and Popular Fiction dominates the RPG sphere. I think this is due to a few key things. First and foremost, the first RPGs were written by fans of science fiction and fantasy. In fact one could argue that RPGs had a direct involvement in the popularizing of certain tropes and subgenres(Cthulu Mythos, the Tolkien tropes, and certain kinds of science fiction). Basically early RPGs were designed and marketed by fans of genre fiction for fans of genre fiction. When stuff came along later, it fell into similar lines of thought, partially because it was accepted as the paradigm and partially because the only people designing RPGs were also fans of the tropes and genres that spawned RPGs in the first place.

The second thing driving this push toward genre is that Literary Fiction is difficult to construct into a game. Not impossible, mind you, just tricky.The introspection, slower pace, and lack of clear motivating goals all run counter to normal game design. In game design you spend a lot of time focusing on objective goals, tactics, logistics, and other external factors. Remember game design covers sports, tabletop games, and video games. All of which excel at direct feedback and objective thought. Games are skill based, to a variable extent. These things, in my opinion, run counter to a direct translation of the tropes of literary fiction. If you are going to design a game to do the tropes of literary fiction yo would need to bring the rules in obliquely, or add a layer of remove for the player. Again I am not saying that these things cannot be done, but they are things that can get in the way of trying to do this sort of game. Genre settings tend to have built in external conflicts and challenges, it is much easier to model a laser fight in a game than it is to model a man at war with himself, or making a great discovery about his own beliefs during his turbulent childhood.

The third reason for the disconnect is that literary fiction tends to focus on the individual and what the individual believes or feels. Now much genre fiction focuses on a single protagonist, its true. However if you look through it, the focus on external problems allows for fairly simple adjustment to multiple protagonists. Either you break up the problem into multiple parts or you multiply the problems. Again go back to the founding of RPGs. Dungeons & Dragons was based, in part, on Tolkien's fantasy works(The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings). In those works you had groups of protagonists adventuring to solve a big problem. The tropes needed for the game were already waiting within the genre that first appeared. Also look to Traveller, which had the crew of a spaceship, the multiplicity of protagonists was already part of the setup. Then take your average piece of literary fiction, and the problem manifests itself. How do you make a single character into many when the problems are so personal? Again, I am not saying this is insurmountable, but it probably adds to the reasons why folks don't make more of these.

The final reason I can think of for why literary fiction style games are less prevalent that popular fiction style games is simple economics. If you are a game designer and you want you game to reach the maximum number of players you will design the game to appeal to as many people as possible. Popular fiction, which is often genre fiction, tends to be more popular than literary fiction. Literary fiction often gets great acclaim and prestige by the critics and the hoi olligoi, but tend to do poorly in sales. Heck, there are reasons why they have to force children to read them in high school. Literary fiction is not popular and thus has a smaller group who would be interested in it. Thus those games that do fit into this category either have a small audience or must mask the nature of the game beneath a pop culture veneer.

So we come to Fate. Fate really could do literary fiction. With its focus on characters and the personality and beliefs of those characters, it seems like a perfect fit. Yet here we stand with very little show for it. Mostly we get interesting mash ups that would fit into the pulp style adventure fiction, or modern genre fiction. I think there is room for development in this direction and I think Evil Hat has already given us a blue print for a possible direction. No Exit, and adventure written for Worlds in Shadow, is a fascinating look into magical realism and dealing with real world issues. It is set as a horror piece, but not the standard slasher fare. This is a game that asks you to look into your character and what motivates that character. It places you in hell, but not fire and brimstone. This is a subtle damnation of your own making. The best part is that it does all of this without altering the core mechanics of Fate very much. It's like Dante's Inferno through the lens of House of Leaves. While it is the only piece in Fate, that I am aware of, that might fit into the literary motif, it is certainly a stellar beginning. If you wanted to make a literary Fate game, I see no real impediment to it, other than talent and desire to create it. But those exist as impediments to any creative endeavor.

All that said, there has been a major upswing in the indie game world and thus a lot of really fascinating games have come out that I think would fit into this sphere.

  • Grey Ranks: It is a fantastically dark game about a real event and real people. If you haven't checked it out, do so. 
  • Wraith: The Oblivion: Remember when I spoke of hiding deeply literary works under the veneer of genre. I was talking about this game(and a couple others that I will get to). While I always enjoyed White Wolf games, this is the one I disliked playing but loved reading. It is super depressing and fascinating, with genius mechanics that really reinforce the introspective nature and make the rest of the group involved in that introspection. Again, if you don't have a copy get one. Oh look they had a kickstarter for a new edition...I feel like it will be awesome.
  • Smallville: I know, right! I know. It is a super hero game, and it is also a TV show game, what the hell is it doing here? Well hold your horses and I will explain. Sheesh! I put this here because the mechanics could very easily be modified for a wonderful game of people interacting, making poor choices, and either learning from their mistakes or failing to. +Cam Banks designed a real firecracker of a conflict engine here, and I think that with a bit of work it would do a phenomenal job at doing exactly what was asked. 
  • Everyone is John: I have not read or played this game, but it did inspire me to write Whispers in the Dark. How you ask? Well I had heard the basic premise and the ideas for how it worked just tickled me. From what I understand this game would do a fine job of handling the desired game style. 
  • Pendragon: Oh man, seriously. Just get this game. Right now. Seriously. It was so ahead of the curve that it is still ahead of the curve. Greg Stafford is both the Akira Kurosawa and the Stanley Kubrick of Roleplaying games. And no, I have no idea what that means. Other than it means that this is a gaming masterpiece that focuses on family and emotions in a way that is ludicrously beautiful. It uses the legends of Arthur and his knights to tell deeply personal stories and also to tell stories about time and the nature of glory and honor. I am not doing it justice. Just go read it, then go play it. You'll see what I am saying. 
There are probably loads more that I am unaware of or that I forgot in the haze of writing this post. If you can think of any, put in in the comments. It will be a like a game. A game about games. It will be a metagame, our Metagame. Heh.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Stars Without Number Session 3: Glaciers and Traitors

Our heroes begin the session in orbit over the planet Diego in the Raginhild system. They have a massive discussion on how to best approach the landing zone as it is in territory controlled by the Gou Yin Alliance and they are working for the Glinka Organization. After much arguing and discussion they made an attempt at a stelath approach. It was less than successful. The Pictoris nearly fell down a crevasse upon landing. After sorting taht out, they decided to use the crevasse to speed up excavation of the pretech city. the party split up, Ben and Merrak headed down the crevasse while Ardalia and Srinivasan stayed on board the ship. All sorts of things happened, it was very exciting. They had been detected on approach, see. And that led to some quick thinking and the development of a snow machine. Down in the crevasse the group discovered the item they were looking for, some sort of ominous pretech device. They managed to get out without being noticed, but on refueling in the Kitu system they discover that there is a kill order on the crew of the ship. Interestingly the kill order came from the Al-Yaldai Clan, what could this mean? Tune in next time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Trek to the Stars Part 11: Fashion in the stars

Previously on Trek to the Stars:
Initial thoughts
Part 1: The Pitch
Part 2: Skill roll basics
Part 3: Potential Campaigns
Part 4: History in brief
Part 5: Keys and Secrets
Part 6: Timeline and Technologies
Part 7: More technologies
Part 8: Character Creation(rough)
Part 9: Stress and Fallout
Part 10: Nailing down the core mechanics

This post is going to be a bit about the stuff at the edges. Things like fashion and a potential mechanical fix to the problems this system has been having with genetic engineering and cybernetics.

Fashion in the system
Fashion in the future is a diverse and divisive subject. Some cultures spend a great deal of time, energy, and resources on fashion and others seem to care about other things. Lets delve in, shall we?

Old Earth
Traditional ethnic garb is the direction the culture has embraced. This is viewed as a response the earth's waning power and relevance in the system. It is a call back to an earlier time, when earth controlled everything. Along with a desire to wear once traditional styles(or modern interpretations of ancient styles), there has been a rebirth of something approaching nationalism. Earthlings have begun to behave in a stereotypical manner,at least in public. If a person behaves outside of expected ethnic behaviors as dictated by the culture, they are viewed as a bit odd.

Within the sky cities of Venus even the slightest misstep can kill. The fashion is utilitarian, mostly. Most signs of individualism are small and do not get in the way of doing the job of terraforming the planet. Related to this attitude is the Venusian Honesty, Venusians have a reputation for being excessively blunt and humorless. This is not true, but in public strong displays of emotion are viewed as a sign of an untrustworthy person. Untrustworthy people get others killed.

A planet divided between two major powers and a small number of lesser groups. In the northern federation individuality is prized, on a superficial level anyway. While the public good is foremost in in the minds of everyone, the fashion and culture is one of individuals and trying to stand out, this is viewed as a good thing, encouraging the advancement of all. So long as the clothing falls within government safety and anti hatred standards(need a better name for this) a person can wear whatever they like and look however they want. Oddly enough, architecture is fairly utilitarian and brutalist. People living in great blocky archologies.

The fascists of the southern alliance have taken an interesting route in fashion. They aim for androgyny and cover most of the form in black, grey, or brown clothing. While at the same time jewelry has taken on a central role. One's jewelry will tell others what their job is, what power block they support, and what their rank within each organization is. Often it outsiders find it difficult to tell who is who, within the culture sameness is embraced.

The people of the centrally located Municipality of Eon have a tendency to wear loose clothing and sturdy footwear. All of their cities are designed so that the people can walk wherever they need to go, though bicycles are also quite popular. It is said, "An Eonist could walk to the sun," and they do take pride in their hiking and trekking capabilities. They control much of the major waterways of mars and the warmest region and they like to flaunt that. During the summer months they will wear the lightest clothing they can. While the nights can drop in temperature fairly significantly the days are quite warm, and every day the terraforming process thickens the atmosphere and normalizes the temperature a bit more.

Moons of Saturn
Baroque and complicated displays of wealth are the norm among the residents of Saturn's satellites. Even the lowest class person takes great pride in appearance and displaying what wealth they can. The art of the insult and sly comments are seen as a sign of great culture. Extravagance in all things, and the wealthy often have great public dinners where they provide food and door prizes for their whole population. The more often you can host one of these Family Meals, the greater your prestige and the more the others in your community owe you a debt. It is a complicated and intricate system that defies explanation by any but the most dedicated outsider.

SO that is what I have for the fashion among the stars. I could write about this for days, as there is no bottom to this well, but I just wanted to lay out some basics. I would love to hear any thoughts, comments or criticisms on this or any of the previous posts.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Stars Without Number: Adventures of the Pictoris

A little while back I started a campaign of Stars Without Number. We started with character creation and some setting creation work. By the end we have the Starship Pictoris, recently won in a game of cards by the new captain, Srinivasan Krishnatray. As of two days prior to the adventure start he was still putting a crew together. Merrak is the muscle for the ship, as well as being the ship's purser. Ardalia is the ship's pilot with a desire to find a way to help her planet rise from the ashes. Ben Holiday is a psychic and the ship's doctor. None of them know all that much about each other, or of the ship. I am sure that will never be a problem...
Here is the recording, should you want to watch:

Between character creation and the first session, I had to take a week off. Some things came up, don't want to get into it, but I had to miss a session. Anyway, during that week the players got together and discussed what they wanted to do as a crew and such. I am not privy to what went on in that psuedo-session, however I think it was good as it helped the crew meld, I guess.

Moving on. In the first session the characters are looking for work. They were docked in orbit around Halia, and logged into the Daybreak Society network to find a job. They decided to go with a simple retrieval mission for the Glinka Organization. After several arguments between the new crew as to whether to take the job, they agree. Merrak laid down some sweet negotiations and managed to get them 9,000 credits upfront and a potential 10,000 in bonus if they can bring everyone and everything back to Halia intact. After all the discussion as to whether to take the job, enter another long long discussion. This discussion is about how to spend the money they have received up front. The crew are still getting used to each other, and so are still getting to know each other and trust each other. Finally they agree to buy a bunch of things that would be useful for all the crew in the long run, a bunch of toolkits, communicators, and vacc suits. They buy them from one of the criminal contacts of Srinivasan.

The organization sends three technicians to the ship with some gear to gather up whatever artifact the corporation wants. As they drill through to the next system the crew attempts to get some clue as to the nature of the thing the techs are sent to retrieve. They find out some things, Merrak reveals that he used to work for the Glinka Organization as a security specialist, and Srinivasan discovers what kind of people his employers are. He discovers that the company is threatening the life and livelihood of the assistant to the two technicians. Through all of this, they discover nothing much about the artifact they were sent to retrieve. The session ends with the ship arrived in orbit over the planet Diego, preparing to go down and retrieve the object in question.