05 November 2012

XP awards for current Stars Without Number game

 There's a missing mathematician, his research, and the shadowy forces that appear to have kidnapped him.

Recover the missing mathematician alive: 1,000 XP
Stop the mathematician from escaping: 500XP
Recover the research:1,000 XP
Understand the implications of the research: 250 XP
Lose the insurance, but stop anyone else from getting it: 500 XP
There are also three unsettling bits of information, each worth 250 XP points.

Life at Ix.

Planet IX, Ward's Star

On moonbases:

Mineshaft colonies, harnessing tidal forces for power, autonomous industry on the surface. Mostly settled by Japanese and Russian colonists.

In O'Neil cylinders:

Corporate enclaves. The top 500 all have official headquarters at Ix. Terrariums in space filled with nightmare suburban hell. The wealthiest baseline humans in the entire system play out whatever fantasies and amusements strike their fancy. Patrick Bateman would be in heaven. The old money families tend to be descended from Japanese colonists, and the new money from Russian colonists.

Inside hollow rocks:

Medium security corporate research facilities predominate. Ixian corporations are known for producing autonomous machinery, starships, cybernetics, and self replicating devices and software. Ethnically diverse, with many researchers from both the inner system and from other stars.

Aboard the Unflinching Eye of Heaven:

The Unflinching Eye of Heaven is a large cylindrical space habitat built shortly before the Collapse. The Eye survived the Collapse, and is at the high end of tech 5 or the low end of tech 6. The Eye is the seat of the Ixian Confederacy, and the largest population center in the Outer System. All residents of the Eye have a high standard of living, supported by the autonomous industrial capacity of the Eye. Most tech level 3 consumer goods are essentially free, but only in a limited range of styles. The pre-Collapse culture aboard the Eye was Russian and Japanese, with North American, Georgian, Indonesian, Romanian, and Peruvian minority groups.

National Geographic Star Survey #98567

30 October 2012

Yesterday, Tomorrow, and the Great Race of Yith

The Yithians are my favorite time travelling psychic jerkasses.
1. Yithians are great background noise, like the constant threat of nuclear apocalypse. Although you can get used to them, they are always unsettling. You could be snatched by the bastards at any moment!
2. The Yithians work well for missing persons cases. Missing persons, kidnappings, or any other kind of investigatory scenario can give players a feel for a city setting, as they blunder about like Walter and The Dude.
3. Where there are Yithians, there are Mi-Go and Elder Things. That's a great inter-species gang. If the Yithians don't steal your mind, the Mi-Go will cut out your brain and stick it in a jar. If you're lucky an Elderthing will adopt you as a pet, like the witch from "The Dreams in the Witchouse."
4. Its like elves and dwarves. Common starting point before you turn up the weird.

Orbital Habitats and Space Elevators (Stars Without Number)


More cylinders, this one is from a Gundam fan wiki.
Space elevator diagram from the wikipedia article.
Not a space elevator, but the citadel form City 17 could pass as the base of a space elevator.


26 July 2012

Hirelings From the Docks

Hirelings from the docks
It costs 1d6x10 gold to roll on the table. Cross off the hireling once they've been hired and replace them. I used one of the tables I found here as a starting point. Kilgore has a lot of useful PDFs up.

1. Nigel, a lotus powder addict. 2 HP, AC 10. Filthy, wielding a long sword (1d8), and and short bow (1d6). Willing to kill.
2. Gregor, a large bald man with cruel eyes. 5 HP, AC 14. Wearing a jack of plates (studded leather) and a buckler. Armed with a longsword (1d8) and a spear (1d6). Willing to kill.
3. Olaf, a northern berserker covered in crude blue and red tattoos. HP 6, AC 11. Wearing sandals, a loincloth and a small shield. "It's not that cold." Armed with a danish axe (1D8). Willing to kill.
4. Hamza, a green man from the south. 5 HP, AC 14. Wearing exotic foreign armor made of overlapping bronze scales sewn to boiled leather. Armed with a curved short sword (1d6) and a massive club covered in iron studs (1d8). Willing to kill.
5. Ingrid, a bone woman. 6 HP, AC 10. Jaunty pirate clothes, as well as a dashing hat. Armed with a cutlass (1d6). Willing to kill.
6. Brundergilta, a dwarven woman. 3 HP, AC 10. Wearing motley covered in rusty brown stains. Wielding a large mace (1d6). Willing to kill.
7. Mary, an aspiring robber. 2 HP, AC 12. Black leather armor, a mask, and a shock of red hair. Wielding a short sword (1d6) and a hatchet (1d6). Willing to kill.
8. Pip, a chimney sweep of indeterminate gender. 6 HP, AC 10, carrying a shiv fashioned from a piece of glass wrapped in a rag bound up with twine (1d4). Willing to act as a torch bearer, likely to bolt at the first sign of danger.
9. Samsa, a sullen wizard from the east. 4 HP. AC 10. Unshaven, unkempt, and apparently perpetually hungover. Smells terrible. Can cast Sleep once per day. Armed with a large knife (1d4). Willing to kill.
10. Sigmar, a cadaverous mugwump addict. 2 HP, AC 14. Wearing exotic armor fashioned from the hides of swamp lizards, wielding a mace (1d6). Willing to kill.

Right, here it is. The story so far, to the limit of my ability to recall.

 A gang of printmakers, needing a break from the bar and the printshop, sit down to play D&D.
Here's the party:
Brett's fighter guy, who has a gladiator thing going.
Kim's dwarven priestess and her creepy shiny rock that whispers things to her.
Kristy's gnomish bard who proves bards don't suck.
Rob's pie obsessed street urchin.
Brian's smooth talking thief.

We used a mishmash of 3.5 and whatever bits from Labyrinth Lord or the Basic/Expert books that came to mind. I'm still struggling with how to convert the characters to a system that I'm comfortable running but will work for players who are more used to 3rd/4th edition.

"Mental Illness in Freeport."
500 gold pieces would weigh far too much to carry. You wouldn't receive a sack of currency, much less raw gold. Mr. Johnson would extend you a line of credit, good throughout both the white, grey, and black markets of the city. That's how you first met him. Every foreign adventurer who washes up in Freeport needs someone to launder their money. Better to never handle the money yourself, at least not with the Lady High Treasurer's (Lady Anne Deerhall) unsettling pets snuffling and snorting about. Not to mention the danger of sitting on top of that much currency in a city swarming with thieves, hucksters, spies, and hired killers.

500 gold pieces is a lot for a missing librarian. Perhaps too much, but now it's more than just the gold. Albert, the missing librarian, hadn't made friends at work. Another Librarian-Priest is so desperate to be rid of the man that he's propositioning random adventurers himself, without the polite fiction of a middle man. Albert's diary is full of mad ranting and rambling, the fragments of a mind shattered by amnesia. There must be something there, some insight or secret worth killing for.

The trail has led here, to a burned out bakery on the edge of town, and into the sewers and tunnels beneath the city. To make things worse, the trail leads right into what is obviously an entrance into the dark underworld that festers beneath the city. If you go too far underground, things get strange. The barriers between this universe and the one next door are weaker down there. Hopefully whoever, or whatever, has kidnapped Albert hasn't gone too deep. Of course, there's bound to be gold down there. And gems, finely crafted art, talking swords, and relics of great power.

28 April 2012

What I know about New London

As the rest of the Fiend Folio isn't grabbing my attention, here's something different:
Detail from the cover of the Expert D&D book. Erol OTUS!
Flipping around, reading in little bits and pieces, the hex key jumped out at me:
Hex symbols from the Expert D&D book. MAPS!
Which made me realize I needed to get around to writing down what I know about New London.
1. It's a seaport.
2. It's been ruled by the Virgin Queen (It's like if Queen Elizabeth were a Bene-Gesserit stuck on a Mutant Future colony world but with less complex rules).
4. New Londoners, and the people in the towns and villages which they rule, are Elizabethans.
5. Foreigners are weird. Androids, bone-men, githyanki, Tom Waits type humans.
6. The City is engaged in a complicated game of espionage and piracy.
7. Spys and boats because they are a tiny maritime power surrounded by larger and weirder countries.
8. It's in the Mediterranean, but in the far future. Or the past. No one is really sure when it is.
9. Sorcerery is legal, but regulated.
10. There are many popular gods and cults. There's the Spider Queen and her priests, The Frog Gods, The Dancing Gods, The Fraternal Brotherhood of the Shining Trapezohedron, The Great Architect, The Black Pharaoh, The Great Eye, The Drowned Gods, The Gods of the Wood, etc. Gods of the X are always popular. For example: The Gods of the Hearth, or The Gods of the Kitchen, or The Gods of the Roads. Lots and lots of little gods.

12 April 2012

Mindflayers (because the Fiend Folio implies their existence)

While not in the Fiend Folio, the Githyanki entry mentions them. Of course, it also mentions red dragons, but I don't want Smaug hanging around.

I've never cared for all the complicated backstory built up around the Illithid, especially in the second edition monster manual, so I'm rewriting it.

Mindflayers are:
Gelatinous. If squeezed hard enough they pop, squirting Jale ichor everywhere. The ichor smells sweet. If consumed, save vs. poison (or whatever is appropriate for your system. For BoL, make a Might check). If the save fails, you enjoy 1d4 hours of agonizing abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Imagine the worst food poisoning you've ever had multiplied by a billion. If the save succeeds, you experience 1d10 minutes of mild nausea followed by 1d4 hours of intense hallucinations. The hallucinations are similar to the effects of DMT but they go on for far, far, far too long. After your mind clears, you've learned enough Aklo to get by as a tourist.

Flabby. Imagine a cross between Baron Harkonnen, a cuttlefish, and one of the viler Borgias.

Translucent. Their skin is a pale purple, with mauve liver spots, at about 20-30% opacity. The mauve spots are at about 40-50% opacity, but deeply saturated. The jale ichor is visible, pulsating and pumping about.

Decadent. Like Hedonismbot, but not funny.

Territorial. Mindflayers have long lives, spawn infrequently, and prey on sentients. As a result, they tend to be intensely territorial and competitive.

Paranoid. Like James Jesus Angelton on a month long amphetamine binge.

Psychopathic. At least by analogy. They are incapable of experiencing empathy, remorse, or guilt.

Mind-eaters. Not brains, but minds. Same mechanics as eating brains, at least as far as how many rounds and whatever. Instead of a cracked open skull and a corpse, the result is a drooling husk capable of obeying simple commands. Mindflayers don't need to eat minds, but it gets them high and fuels their sorcery.

Related to Mi-Go, or at least from the same region of space-time. Their molecules vibrate at a different frequency or they're made of astral matter or whatever crazy explanation you prefer.

Reproduce with a cloud of spores. Mindflayers lay grotesquely swollen eggs that pop emitting a noisome gas that's really just a mass of egg-spores. The spores get in your lungs, causing coughing and internal bleeding, until you start to swell up and enter a coma and turn all squidfaced. The bleeding is from all the egg-spores fighting it out in your lung until just one wins and takes over your body.

09 April 2012

Still thinking about RPGs, but busy with printing. Digital proof, colors all separated and ready to expose on a plate or screen.

08 March 2012

Githyanki instead of elves

Both are into swords and magic, but Githyanki have the advantage of no happy-nature-treehouse-hippy baggage. The astral plane is close enough to Faerie. Maybe that's where all the crazy Fiend Folio monsters come from. I suppose that means Githyanki occasionally kidnap children and replace them with little Githyanki babies, or at least people think they do.

05 March 2012

Illithid Spies

Illithid aren't in the Fiend Folio, but it implies their existence so that's good enough. Besides, who'd want to play in a world without psychic-brain-eating-mini-cthulhus? In the process of converting Githyanki, I decided that there are Illithid agents everywhere, sort of like Red Agents in the 50s, but with more brain-eating and less communism.

Cell with extensive support network:
  • Chief of Station (villain)
  • 1-2 body guards (rabble)
  • Sorcerer (standard NPC)
  • 1-2 apprentices/Igors (rabble)
  • Head of Security (standard NPC)
  • 3-8 security (rabble)
  • 4-7 Case Officers (standard NPCs)
  • Each case officer has 1-4 sources. These are typically merchants, nobles, low to midlevel underworld figures, ship captains, or artisans. The sources work for the same reasons that anyone becomes a spy: money, ideology, coercion, ego. 
  • Head of Infastructure (standard NPC)
  • 3-8 support staff (rabble). Support staff  forge documents and seals, arrange transport, handle money, secure weapons and other material, arrange and maintain safe houses.

Cell with small network:
  • Chief of Station (villain).
  • Sorcerer (standard NPC).
  • Head of Security (standard NPC).
  • 3-6 security (rabble).
  • 2-3 Case Officers (standard NPCs), each with 1d4 sources.

Cell with little to no support:
  • Chief of Station (villain).
  • Sorcerer (standard NPC).
  • 2-3 Case Officers (standard NPCs). They may or may not have any sources yet.

04 March 2012

Githyanki for BoL

Rough notes for converting Githyanki to Barbarians of Lemuria.
Githyanki are:
1. Warlike.
2. Utter bastards.
3. They like sorcery as much as they like stabbing people.
4. Formerly enslaved by Illithids. Going out on a limb, the Illithids have neither forgiven nor forgotten.
5. Some of them are anti-paladins, so in addition to being sorcerers they are also religious in the 'I need to stab you for god' sense.
6. They dig swords. Probably because of the stabbing.
7. Extraplanar.
8. Ruled by a lich-queen. Why isn't every D&D race ruled by undead sorcerer jerks? New D&D theory: everywhere is ruled by liches, mummies, vampires, worm-things, or Joseph Curwen.

In BoL terms, Githyanki tend to be sorcerers, priests, alchemists, slaves, soldiers, and torturers. Thieves and assassins are uncommon. I'm guessing there aren't a lot of farmers. Maybe they have slaves to do that for them? That seems reasonable in a circle of abuse sort of way. Interdimensional jerk-ass slaver sorcerers who stab people for god!

All Githyanki have at least 5 arcane power points, and can travel between the Prime Material Plane and the Astral Plane at the cost of one arcane power point. When shifting between the planes, the Githyanki takes whatever they are carrying with them. If they don't have any points in sorcerer, that's all they can do with their arcane power points. If they are a sorcerer, this doesn't get them any extra points. This is Munchkin Bait. "Oh sure, you can go to the astral plane whenever you want. It's pretty sweet." If by 'pretty sweet' you mean 'swarming with Mi-Go.'

Fearsome Looks: Skull-faced-maniac-sorcerers from beyond space and time? Roll three dice when shaking people down. 
Trademark Weapon: As long you've got your magic silver sword from another dimension, roll three dice in combat. This is more Munchkin Bait. Sure, you've got an awesome magic sword that cuts people in half. Did I mention that there's a black market in those things?
Sorcerous Strength : 2 extra arcane power points.
Natural Sorcerer: roll three dice for sorcerery, must take an additional flaw.
Hard to kill : 2 extra lifeblood points

Arrogant: Warrior slavers with a penchant for sorcery tend to be jerks. Roll an extra die when dealing with non-Githyanki.
Untrustworthy: Everybody knows Githyanki will turn on you as soon as it's convenient. Roll an extra die when the situation calls for someone to believe or trust you.
Madness: Sorcery and planar travel are not good for your mental health. I'll jump at any excuse to use the Call of Cthulhu insanity tables.
Cravings: Mulled wine, black lotus powder, the blood of children, whatever. You need it daily, roll three dice if you don't get your fix. All sorcerers should take this so-called flaw. How is it a flaw for a sorcerer to be a junky?
Hunted: Illithid agents are everywhere. In any city or town, there s a 1 in 6 chance an Illithid agent has spotted you and your awesome silver sword. It was probably the awesome sword that tipped them off.

BoL has a few holes in it.

How long do bad-guys (or good-guys) burn when doused in oil? How much gold does the alchemist want for some jale spider venom? My plan is to use Barbarians of Lemuria as the core, and refer to D&D, AD&D, and retroclones when I need to know that sort of thing. That way rulings aren't totally arbitrary, and players can have some idea of what to expect.

Changes and hopefully a bit of new life

I've mostly been using this blog as a placeholder until I have enough free time to run a ConstantCon game. It rapidly become something that I would update later in the day, or maybe on Thursday when I wasn't so busy. Predictably, it become something I never updated as I never had the free time to schedule a game, much less recruit players or run one.

Rather than commit to time or game, I'm going to shift to writing up bits and pieces I'd like to use to run a mutated Barbarians of Lemuria game. It might even lead to enough material or ideas to playtest via ConstantCon.