Friday, March 1, 2019

Infra-Red: Mechanical Nonsense

Due to its setting, Infra-Red's system moves quite far out from OSR orthodoxy.

It uses 6 stats: Athletics (ath), Driving (dri), Espionage (esp), Preparedness (pre), Shooting (sho), and Socializing (soc). Each skill starts as a 1, and characters have 6 points to assign between them, with a cap of 5 in a skill.

I use these stats instead of the traditional 6 because they focus more on what the PCs are assumed to be in Infra-Red: government investigators. I chose to use a point-buy system because there are a small enough amount of skills and points that this gives the player control without it being overwhelming.
For skill checks, you roll 1d6 and try to get equal to or below the skill being used.

Progression is inspired by Lost Pages' 1d6 Thieving: after failing a check with the skill 5 times, it goes up by one. If the skill is above 5, you roll multiple checks at once.

For example, a skill of 7 means you roll 2 dice, one against 5 and one against 2. if either die succeeds, you succeed.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Silver Swords Has 48 Hours Left!

I wrote an elongated version of A Positively Monstrous Way of Thinking for the Silver Swords zine, which you can back here! (It's $1 away from its stretch goal, too!)

It also has stuff from Follow Me And Die!, Papers & Pencils, and plenty of other OSR word-people.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Pendragon of Mars Character Creation

Pendragon's character creation can be best described as insufferable. I mean really; if your book has a heading that says "Allot Prime and Derived Statistics", it should be aimed at accountants. To help with this, I took everyone's favorite page from everyone's favorite book to take pages from: DCC's funnel.

To begin a game of PoM, you create 4 simplified Pendragon characters, each of which has 5 stats: Size, Dexterity, Strength, Constitution, and Appearance. For each stat, roll either 4d6 drop lowest or 3d6, depending on how authentic/masochistic you feel today.

Each character's HP is equal to their Constitution + Size, and they all do (SIZ+STR)/6 d6 damage with a melee attack. Your character drops unconscious if they reach 1/4 of their total HP.

Next, the characters create mechs. For the funnel, they choose a mech model:

A long-range artillery mech, able to hit targets at the longest ranges of any mech. However, it is slow and lightly armored, and can be easily defeated by swarms of enemies.

HP: 65
Armor: 4
Move: 2

Light Field Gun: 6d6 damage, no line of sight required, roll under 15 to hit
Long-range Comms
Active Sensors
4 Smoke Grenades

A small scout mech, with light armaments but lots of passive components.
HP: 45
Armor: 0
Move: 4

Light Laser: 2d6 damage, roll under 12 to hit
Silenced Servomotors
Active Sensors
Camouflage Paint
Short-Range Comms

Paladins are frontline combat mechs, with heavy armor and weapons. However, they have a very short range. 
HP: 80
Armor: 4
Move: 2

Rocket Pods: 2 shots at 2d6 AoE damage each, 1d4 usage dice
Medium Laser: 3d6 damage
Passive Sensors
Short-Range Comms

After The Funnel

Once the funnel is complete, players choose one of their surviving PCs to become a knight of 1st level: at 1st level, PCs get skills.

Skills are divided based off of what stat they use. The PCs score in that stat is now the pool of points for those skills.

For example, if a PC has a 12 in Bad Acting, they can put 5 points into Scenery-Chewing, 3 points into Mechanical Intonation, and 4 points into Literally Holding Your Script In Front Of Your Face.

As well as this, you can start to customize your mech with different components and weapons.

The Forest of Towers & The Coolant Sea

The Forest of Towers

The Forest of Towers is where the majority of Ein Soph's ecosystem lives. Intended to be the ship's hydroponics bays, the water eventually overflowed (as Keter no longer needed to take the time to focus on it), eroding through the floor. And then again. And then again. And then... you get the idea.

Now, the more reinforced parts of the hydroponics bays survive in tall, plant-choked towers above the Coolant Sea.

Inhabitants of the Forest of Towers
The Symphlan's threads can cause heart failure if driven far enough into the skin.
The Forest is the most densely populated environment of Ein Soph: large feathered crickets, poisonous threaded symphlans, and other creatures fill the pillars, along with Keter's looming Stylites and ancient food-production robots.
Pesticides can be equally effective against human targets.

The Coolant Sea

The Coolant Sea lies beneath the Forest of Towers, where radioactive reactor runoff mixes with water from the hydroponics labs. Crossing it is made difficult by the mangrove-like trees growing into it. Predatory water striders skim over the surface, capsizing boats. Far beneath is the Hydra, a gigantic crustacean with hundreds of lamprey-like heads.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Sunless Horizon: The Empyrean

A perfect dystopia. A heaven with no exits, and ten thousand eyes trained on you.
The playground of a mad God.

The Empyrean is the core of Ein Soph, where Keter holds the last of humanity in a 20-mile long cylinder. Those people, known as the Chosen (or His as a pejorative), worship Keter as a god, through his Prophetess Maia.

Every day, Keter's temple blares infohazards into the sky, summoning his flock to worship.
The people of the Empyrean are ceremonially implanted with a nerve staple when they are born. The nerve staple is a small device inserted into the spine at the back of the neck.

If one of the Chosen are found to be subversive, the nerve staple is activated, sending its own signals down the spine. The rebel walks out of the cylinder, and kills themselves as a copy is printed in Keter's biotech bays.

The Empyrean also has its own police under the control of the Prophetess, to handle other crimes.

In case of a widespread rebellion, the temple's infohazards change into more destructive commands.

After the rebellion is contained, Keter switches to damage control infohazards, removing the public memory of his actions.
None of the Navigator Houses have managed to get deep enough into the ship to find the Empyrean, and no one has ever escaped it. Yet.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Sunless Horizon

Sunless Horizon is the most self-indulgent setting I'll ever make, taking inspiration from Veins of the Earth, Axis Mundi, HMS Apollyon, Rain World, Orion's Arm, and Duskers.

The stars are dead. As the universe collapsed, humanity built Ein Soph: a worldship controlled by a network of AIs intended to keep operating until the AIs could find a way to dig into a new universe.

That was thousands of years ago.

The AIs have all been subsumed by Keter, who sealed the last of humanity into the Empyrean: a 20-mile long O'Neill's Cylinder under his direct supervision, "ruled" by the Prophetess Maia.

Outside of the Empyrean, castoff biotech projects have grown into their own species, laboring under the feudalistic Navigator Houses, who say they control Ein Soph, and that they're headed to Heaven.

Keter's protective programming extends only to humans, not to his creations: his androids tear at the borders of the Navigator Houses as he gets ever closer to pulling open reality.
Keter's Infopriests lead pilgrimages across the Coolant Sea atop their walking altars.
Rumors abound of the unnatural technologies Keter can bring to bear: Tipler Oracles, memetic plagues, non-euclidean creatures, and nanobot swarms.

Outside of Ein Soph, the universe is dark. The stars have all burned out. However, fragments of Ein Soph's supporting fleet orbit around the worldship in a halo-shaped mass called the Crown. Expeditions by the Navigator Houses have never returned, but that doesn't stop whispered discussion of what could live there. Some say the Crown is Keter's final defense, preventing any escape from Ein Soph.
The weapons of the peasants are crude and ineffective.
The Navigator Houses send missions out into Ein Soph to gather resources: these expeditions cross paths with Tear-Eater Cults, Keter's Disciples, and the creatures that have evolved to live in this hellish, lightless environment.
The Disciples scrawl strange symbols on their travels. Some can kill.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Anthology Campaigns

Everyone wants to run a long campaign, but short campaigns have their advantages: being able to actually finish, the ability to run multiple campaigns in different settings more quickly, and ease of planning.

However, one of the most difficult things to do with a short campaign is to explore a setting. With only 10 sessions (for example) your players will be going from A to B to C, with no time for taking a long trip to the next continent over and learning about the Thousand Eternal Emperors.

A possible (albeit untested) solution for this is what I call anthology campaigns: a branching set of one-shots where the player's performance in one effects the others.

For example, a short anthology campaign for Infra-Red could look like this:

Sunless Horizon

Sunless Horizon is the most self-indulgent setting I'll ever make, taking inspiration from Veins of the Earth , Axis Mundi , HMS Apolly...