Jun 23, 2014

Safe Area Duvanovic Introduction

AUC Airship Survey of Duvanovic Operational Theatre, Sector 5
The Ooze Salient, Necrocarcerus, 9998:

The flag is a clenched blue fist on a black field, and it waves over the last six blocks still intact in what was once the mega-borough of Duvanovic. The ooze-collaborationist Popular Purity Front, led by Rotman Carkel, lords over this micro-state in reward for their service in the first phase of the oozes' ultragenocide of the Braemonian citizens of Necrocarcerus. The outside streets are a no man's land stalked by inhumanoids, bandits, the undead, loyalist partisans and flesh-horrors produced by the oozes' war machine. Somewhere in the distance, the thunder of loyalist bombards and the reality-crackle of Weapon Q promise that liberation is coming, but the thousands of refugees who have flooded in can hardly wait. Food has run short, the water supplies are fouled, disease is rampant, and theosadists pluck people at random and subject them to demented tortures for their own pleasure. The rich pay black marketeers to smuggle them to safety, while the poor pray to the Creator that tomorrow a gas shell will fly astray and put them out of their misery.

Soldiers of the Popular Purity Front

WHY ARE YOU HERE (1d4)

1) Partisan infiltrator here to overthrow the Popular Purity Front on behalf of AUC.
2) Stranded by black marketeers who stole your money and dumped you here.
3) Convalescent from wounds in an earlier phase of the campaign.
4) Last survivor of a mercenary scavenger gang here to make their fortunes.


The random encounter table for wandering the no-man's land of Safe Area Duvanovic

Jun 5, 2014

Places to Go: The Far Lands of Necrocarcerus

The Far Lands

Caught between the Lythmarch, the Wastes and the Rail Lands, the Far Lands are only nominally loyal to the Guardians or AUC. They serve as neutral territory for rogues, heretics, projectors and the undead to congregate and scheme with one another freely. The Far Lands are the graveyard of a thousand mad schemes to conquer or escape Necrocarcerus, and long-abandoned ruins dot the landscape.

Pinion of the Flame-Tyrant

The half-submerged skeleton of an enormous turtle lays in the middle of a salt fen that is all that remains of a desiccated sea. Chained to the top of a beryl plinth rising from its shell is a man wreathed in flames shining brightly enough to be seen from the edge of the basin. His name and origins are lost in history, but when it rains his screaming echoes across the landscape. The salt fen is studded with cyclopean pillars tipped with grotesque gargoyle guardians, and inhumanoids prowl beneath the thick willow canopy. The no. 888 Spire-to-End-of-the-World train runs weekly along the inner edge of the basin and is notorious for its breakdowns and sudden unexpected delays.

Rocket Fields of the Transhegiromantics

The Transhegiromantics were a heretical sect that believed they could return to the living worlds by shattering the dome of heaven and then egressing through the hole. They did not reckon with the Perfected Spiders, who caught their first missile volley and sent it raining back down on the prideful ballisticians. The rockets for their planned exodus were mostly destroyed, but the Mahayana, the Great Vehicle of Salvation and flagship of the fleet, survived its builders. It sits awaiting a crew daring enough to brave the wrath of the sky-spiders. The site is now inhabited by a clan of primitive coal-wights who worship Agni-Ratha, a wingless draco-lich who sleeps curled around the Mahayana's engines for warmth.

The Intraperegrinate Orb

A humongous sphere of brass that rolls slowly across the landscape. As it goes, automatic tentacles pluck nearby Citizens into its depths, where they are installed in psy-creches that add them to the hive-mind operating the sphere. A few lucky individuals manage to resist integration, or escape through the hellish labyrinthine psy-scape of the hive mind back into their own bodies. The Rolling City has a massive well of nepenthe at the centre of it, and anyone who could wend their way through its depths could tap into the memory of thousands of Citizens now blankly imprisoned within the sphere.

End-of-the-World

End-of-the-World is the only AUC-controlled megaborough in the entirety of the Far Lands, and thanks to its rail connection to Freedom, it may not remain in their hands for long. End-of-the-World is where you go to get lost, whether because someone is hunting you, or because someone will come hunting you soon enough. Most of the borough is a fortified mass of ramshackle construction and winding alleys wedged in between abandoned monumental bunkers built in a previous epoch and sealed with ancient magic. Rumours abound that the High Asmarch, sovereign ruler of End-of-the-World and

Apr 17, 2014

Skills in Necrocarcerus

From the Necrocarcerus Document:

"PCs in Necrocarcerus use
Skills: The Middle Road. Tasks succeed on a roll of 5+.

Level of Proficiency
Roll
Unskilled
D6
Skilled
D8
Expert
D10
Master
D12

Skills

AlchemyIdentify and brew potions.
Appraisal – Evaluate the worth of treasure items.
Arcane Lore – Identify magical effects and items
Athletics – Climbing, jumping, running and swimming
Decipher – Break codes, decipher unknown scripts, and understand strange languages
Devices – Disable traps; build devices smaller than you
Disguise – Disguise one’s self or imitate another
Engineering – Analyse features of structures such as slope, height or depth, traps
Foraging – Harvest supplies while traveling
GeographyAvoid getting lost; operate portals
Healing – Restore HP equal to roll on die
Law – Know the details of and exploit legal systems
Listening – Discern what is out of sight
Pilot – Operate and repair vehicles
Religion – Identify religious artifacts; perform ceremonies
Stealth – Surprise enemies; avoid wandering monsters
TrackingIdentify monsters and animals; follow trails"

Yes, you use the Law skill to change your alignment, or the alignments of others, and yes this affects spells. Pilot is for riding horse-likes as well as driving motorcycles, steam-wagons, airships, trains and such. You use Geography to operate portals.

There are intentionally no History or Language skills. If you want to learn history or other languages in Necrocarcerus, you do it the old fashion ways, by either drinking the brain juice of people you kill to absorb their memories, book piracy, or placating ancient and inscrutable beings of immense power. In the meantime, you speak "Regular Language", a universal standard implanted into your head during incarnation.

There are no skills that provide gainful, legitimate employment.
Current backlog of professional licenses to be issued at AUC stations: 3 years
Current planned date of the end of the world: 2 years

Social interaction is handled with the system laid out in Courtney Campbell's On the Non-Player Character. (Full disclosure: I am mentioned and my work is featured in the aforementioned book, but I receive no financial compensation for its purchase because I am a communist).

Mar 30, 2014

Turtles All the Way Down

The original

Folks reinventing it

Intensifying and Elaborating the Core Concept of a Multi-factorial Array for Wandering Monster Generation

The core of the idea is to extend the single-factor wandering monster table into a multi-factorial one (the original single factor is "monster type" to which I simply added an ontological extension covering the kind of presence the monster has in the encounter). One could extend this process in various ways so long as one continued to generate interesting properties to serve as the basis of additional axes, and was able to track it effectively. Because of the limitations of paper as a surface for representations, this is difficult to extend past two factors, but a simple computer program could be written to include things like factional allegiance or preparedness/surprise. So long as the program generated a value in a multi-dimensional array rather than simply treating each as an independent factor, you would be able to produce interesting, meaningful and surprising results rapidly. I have no time or especial interest in generating such an array, but others might find it interesting as an exercise and I would encourage you to share your results.

Feb 25, 2014

Describing What Is In The PCs' Hands At the Start of Encounters

My experience has been that one small point of tablecraft that is often forgotten is asking the PCs what each of them is holding in their hands at the start of encounters, and then at the beginning of each round of combat. Though it seems minor, even trivial, it actually serves to define the immediate tactical options available to the PCs. e.g. whether someone is holding a light source or not, or whether they have their weapon drawn, will tell you some important details about how the round could develop. Asking this question establishes a shared understanding of the conditions which avoids further disputes or confusion later on, as well as making the scene more vivid and easily imagined.

My suggestion to you if you do not already do this is to experiment with doing so (in an orderly manner) in a few sessions and examine the results.

Feb 12, 2014

Two Proposed Simple Rules for Wands

Jack Shear put up a post about wands recently, reminding me of the old controversy. I have no opinion on that controversy. Broadly speaking, the division I use between wands and staves is that wands let you do one thing over and over again, whereas staves let you do many (or at least, several) things. Partially this is because wielding a wand is like wielding most weapons, in that it takes up one hand and binds the uses of that hand to it, while wielding a staff takes two hands and thus requires at least two options to replace the lost capabilities of that extra hand it requires.

I think I will therefore get rid of all wand types and replace them with one of these two house rules. I haven't playtested either, so I will have to try them out to see how they go.

Variant 1:

A spellcaster who wields a wand may make a saving throw when casting a spell. If they pass, they retain the spell and may cast it again.

In systems that differentiate saves, the saving throw is vs. spells.

Variant 2:

A spellcaster who wields a wand may roll a d10. If the result is higher than the spell level, they retain the spell and may cast it again.

If anyone has experience with either house rule, or similar rules, let me know.

Dec 27, 2013

Skills in Necrocarcerus

From the Necrocarcerus document:

Skills

PCs in Necrocarcerus use Skills: The Middle Road. Tasks succeed on a roll of 5+.

Level of Proficiency
Roll
Unskilled
D6
Skilled
D8
Expert
D10
Master
D12

Starting Skills

PCs start off knowing one skill at Skilled proficiency, plus one additional skill (also at Skilled) for each maximum additional language their intelligence would grant them (per Swords and Wizardry Complete). e.g. a PC with an INT of 12 starts knowing four skills.

Skill Descriptions

Alchemy – Identify and brew potions.
Appraisal – Evaluate the worth of treasure items.
Arcane Lore – Identify magical effects and items
Athletics – Climbing, jumping, running and swimming
Decipher – Break codes, decipher unknown scripts, and understand strange languages
Devices – Disable traps
Disguise – Disguise one’s self or imitate another
Engineering – Analyse features of structures such as slope, height or depth, traps
Foraging – Harvest supplies while traveling
Geography – Avoid getting lost
Healing – Restore HP; Stabilise dying characters
Law – Know the details of and exploit legal systems
Listening – Discern what is out of sight
Pilot – Operate and repair vehicles
Religion – Identify religious artifacts, perform ceremonies
Stealth – Surprise enemies; avoid wandering monsters
Tracking – Identify monsters and animals; follow trails

Training Skills

Level
Roll
Cost for Training
Training Time
Unskilled
D6
0
None
Skilled
D8
1,000
1 month
Expert
D10
5,000
3 months
Master
D12
10,000
6 months.