Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2221 - After the Nemesis Cataclysm: Spacer Campaigns



Spacer Campaigns: The Jovian Expanses and Outliers


There are as many mysteries in space as there are on Earth. Here are a few:

The Jovian Expanses

This is a collection of loosely organized Free Colonies with a strong neo-libertarian bent. The region is dominated by three primary colonies, being Europa, Ganymede and Saturn’s Titan, while dozens of smaller colonies and hundreds of mining and development facilities can be found throughout the greater region. The need for cooperation and resource management has insured that the otherwise loosely allied colonies of the Jovian Expanses remain cooperative and not hostile; the only real “police force” in the region recognized by all the Expanses as a proper authority is that of the Europan-based Expanse Investigations Offices. The EIO serves primarily to address issues of piracy and sabotage among the many independent corporate agencies and private parties of the predominantly libertarian domain of the Expanses, and works on a per-contract basis; for a colony to gain the advantage of the EIO it must be willing to pay the necessary insurance to provide funding and support for the organization. In turn, the government of Europa out of Galileo City provide supplemental dollar-matching funding, in exchange for more favorable contracts with the outliers and free colonies. So far, this has worked, much to the detriment of the inner-system socialist Solar Collective.

Europa

The principle governing colony world in this region is Jupiter’s moon Europa, where the vast ice-floating city of Galileo can be found. Galileo was founded early on in the advancement to space, and it became a center of outer-system exploration due to its unique position, providing water resources from Europa’s buried ocean while also providing extensive research on the nature of its vast oceans.

Europa was discovered early on to hold ocean’s full of microbiotic life, but no advanced lifeforms had evolved there at the time of discovery. In the century and a half since, rapid advances in bioengineering led to the development of engineered lifeforms specifically designed to populate the waters of Europa and to serve as a specialized developmental ecosystem, as well as a food source. The runaway success of this project has led to Europa being the third most “terraformed” body in the solar system, after Mars and Europa. The rapidly developing aquatic ecosystem is contributing greatly toward a more oxygen-saturated planetary atmosphere, although the likelihood that the moon will ever hold onto a thicker shell of atmosphere remains improbable. At present, humans can only venture onto the surface of the moon in suits; lethal radiation due to lack of atmospheric shielding otherwise prevents the moon’s surface from being hospitable.

The bulk of the “floating city” is beneath the ice. The vast construct and its outliers were part of a massive works project that began well before the death of Old Earth and continued to this day. The first fully sentient and self-aware quantum AI, calling itself Simon Marius, serves as the functional administrator and arbiter of the city, providing a relatively safe environment and responsive body of governance that the Europans have come to accept. Unlike most futuristic “AI doom” predictions, Marius continued to function in a manner that was mutually beneficial to himself and his creators.

Ganymede

The second most important colony world in the Jovian Expanse, Ganymede provides much-needed mined water resources as well as silicate and other resources. Much of the human-inhabited region is underground in the somewhat more stable planetary geology, to take advantage of natural rock as a shelter from the extensive radiation in the region. Ganymede has become a center of activity for starship construction and development, a feature that predates the collapse of Old Earth, and it has several orbital shipyards that provide new and much improved designs for outer-system starships; it actually makes a fair amount of money selling hulls to the inner colonies of the Solar Collective, as well. This prosperity and independence has made Ganymede the center of trade and commerce in the region for industrial construction and manufacturing, while its sister colony Europa provides food and water resources.

Ganymede’s center of trade and commerce is the orbital station Commerce. Ground-side, its dominant industrial city is Tether, which is not coincidentally linked to Commerce by a Space Elevator, the largest and most effective of its kind; only the old Space Lifts of Earth were regarded as more impressive, and virtually all of those have long since decayed and collapsed, catastrophically.

Other Moons of Jupiter

Not all Jovian moons are suited to colonization, and some are only approached by local mobile fleets for brief resource mining operations. Still others have developed extensive habitats about them, and are now part of the regular trade lanes of activity. A quick summary follows:

Amalthea (Inner) Satellites: the inner satellites closest to Jupiter are dangerous and only independent miners (commonly called belters) tend to be crazy enough to look for precious metals and other resources on Metis, Adrastea, Amalthea and Thebe.

Plot Point: There is a story that there’s a permanent colony on Amalthea, the ellipsoid inner moon that skirts the edge of the Jovian rings. This otherwise hostile moon is said to have contained a secret, an ancient monument of extraterrestrial origin, according to the self-proclaimed space prophet (and madman) Johnias Whinn. Thirty years ago he, a former eccentric billionaire, left his position as CEO of the SysStar Corporation and poured his resources into an investigation of the moon after strange stories surfaced from local belters who claimed they had found extraterrestrial artifacts. Although no independent observation has corroborated this, Whinn nonetheless claimed to have found something, and built a terradome on the planet’s surface, protected by an orbital defense platform manned by an AI called Searcher. Contact with the colony was lost ten years ago when a major impact presumably disabled or destroyed it and its orbital watchdog platform, but no one really knows. Remnants of his group, called the Searchers, still exist in odd pockets, including on Saturn’s Iapetus, where they seek evidence that the entire moon is actually a constructed vessel.


The Main Group: This group of moons includes Ganymede and Europa, as well as Callisto and Io. Io is an aggressively difficult moon to colonize, and most of the activities that go on are temporary operations staged from orbital platforms. Callisto, in contrast, suffers less from Jupiter’s magnetosphere and lacks any interior volcanism; dozens of small interdependent colonies exist on its surface and work in tandem to provide resources to one another. The local mining is mostly at the surface level, and three primary orbital platforms serve as the tether to the rest of the universe and the local colonies. Most of the colonies are a mix of subterranean and surface development, with the surface shielding less aggressive than at other inner system and main group colonies.

Plot Point: There’s currently something of a revolution going on in the many interdependent colonies of Callisto, where generations of regional interaction have led to several movements to develop a unified local government. Currently there are dozens of political parties lobbying for votes in the first round of elections, and the most outstanding party leader is one Clarence Durnham, leader of the Independence Party, which is strongly anti-outsider and also anti-AI. This has led to concern from neighbors Europa and Ganymede, who feel that such an isolationist party could be costly to the rest of the Expanse.

The Irregular Satellites: With so many irregular minor satellites in eccentric outer system orbits, its hard to even begin to keep track of the many colonies, private interests and other mysterious agencies out there, struggling to survive or otherwise looking for easily mined resources. As often as one finds an active colony or mining op you will just as likely stumble across an abandoned or defunct ruin. It’s a wilderness of survival.

Saturnian Space and Titan

Saturn is the edge of the outliers, the vast and untamed region of outer system activity that does not recognize the authority of any inner system powers, and engages in trade only with certain Jovian Expanse members. The only local authority of note is in the Diaspora of Titan, centered on the mining city of Herschel, which is managed by a benevolent AI called Devon. The Titan colonists are fiercely independent, and corporate and private influences are dominant in the Saturnian system, with absolutely no central authority or body of law outside of the all-mighty contractual agreement. What few disputes arise are often resolved in the free courts of Herschel, a loose civil protection system that moderates contractual obligations and rights. This movement toward total Capitolist Free Enterprise and the envelopment of personal and commercial rights into contractual obligations began during the dark years immediately following the destruction of Old Earth; in this period, the risk of death by asphyxiation due to lack of replenishable resources for air, water, food and other resources (never mind fuel) led to a rise in regional influence by corporate structures that quickly moved in to fill the void that was left with the destruction of Earth’s governance. It has steamrolled since then, and has rapidly become a cut-throat way of life in the region that even the quasi-unified libertarian colonies of Jupiter find disturbing in the way humans are regarded as commodities.

Enceladus

Aside from Titan, Saturn’s second most populous moon is Enceladus, where active regular mining groups produce much needed water and other resources for the region. This is also the moon with the largest concentration of shipyards. It is dominated by Cronos, the megacorporation that first founded the initial mining colonies and was given main privileges during the Old Earth years to administer local government. Cronos was a major factor in the contract-based rule of governance in the Saturnian region.

Iapetus

Iapetus is another moon on which numerous colonies can be found, including its largest which is Engelier City, built in the Engelier crater. There is a regional mystery, clouded by the efforts of local corporate powers, suggesting that evidence of extraterrestrial architecture related to Iapetus’ 1,300 km long equatorial ridge have surfaced. To date no one takes such claims seriously as groups like the Searchers appear to be fanatical and easily misled into believing natural formations are actually artificial, but some researchers feel there is evidence of writing found in petroglyphs along the ancient and mysterious ridge, and a few dedicated scholars (including Hans Orman of the Solar Collective) have made the study of this moon their life’s work, spending years at a time in the rough outlying colonies searching for clues, be they geologic or extraterrestrial as to the origin of Iapetus’s mysterious Equatorial Ridge and so-called writing.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Speaking of Three Months! Guess who's 3 Months Old???

Yep, Marcus turned 3 months this weekend! Yay. Dad proud.




Three Whole Months!



That's how long it took me to try and stay system-monogamous with Pathfinder....but I've fallen off the wagon and am going to start up a new 4E bi-weekly (or maybe weekly, we'll see) game soon.

A few reasons:

1. 5E's announcement has actually diverted all the attention of the Edition War gang away from bashing 4E to bashing Monte Cook's blogs and polls. This has effectively left 4E as "just another old edition" which I rather like.

2. I have my quibbles with 4E, and I really hope all the stuff I have issues with goes away in 5E and it also keeps all the stuff I like, but sticking with Pathfinder for a while has once again reminded me very much of just how much I dislike the 3rd edition approach to D&D. It's not that 3.X is bad, but it goes out of its way to make the process of simply enjoying a game for those with limited time too difficult to manage. I absolutely adore how 4E made the DM's job easier, and I really need that right now to be able to keep enjoying fantasy gaming. Traveller is good this way, too. So is The Mutant Epoch, for the record, and I still plan to run that soon.

3. Part of the problem is my new job. I've always noticed that there's a massive inverse ratio between "time I have to dick around designing stuff for scenarios" and "time I spend working my ass off." Right now, and for the forseeable future, I am in ass-worked-off mode. So in order to enjoy gaming, I need a system that lets me enjoy a night of gaming with minimum prep time (without also feeling like I'm cheesing it and basically providing a suboptimal experience; I can do 3.X ad hoc, but the experience is always shallower and less satisfying for it). 4E is one of several systems that handle minimal prep time really, really well.

4. I kinda miss the tactical combat that has clean, smartly designed rules that don't require constant rulebook flipping. Yeah I'm looking at you 3rd/Pathfinder. Regardless of the minis issue, 4E's streamlined combat mechanics are somehow more involved and interesting than 3rd edition's rules, while simultaneously being simpler and easier to moderate. Except for all the status markers, but we're all used to that now.

Okay, got that off my chest!

Monday, February 27, 2012

2221 - After the Nemesis Cataclysm: Plots and Locations



Plot and Setting Point: New Eden



The Colony of New Eden

The first colony, established about fifty miles from the seemingly successful native city of Needles and close to the Hoover Dam collapse point along the new Great lake, is established as the frontline center for research and investigation in to New Earth. Once the New Eden project is complete, then the formal re-colonization of Earth will commence.

Some of the mysteries New Eden must face:

• Learning to communicate with and educate the natives

• Discovering how to deal with the incredibly hostile alien seed life

• The revelation that more than one alien seed race is intelligent

The Survivor City of Fenx

The successful survivor city of Fenx is organized by a council of elders, who are the wisest survivors of the region. It is populated by many resourceful people who work in a cooperative egalitarian society. The organization called the Recorders is centered here, where relics of the lost civilizations are gathered and studied.

Fenx has a bunch of stuff to deal with:

• The threat of the skullkin, raiders, zombie hybrids and other menaces

• Finding the sacred relics of old that the recorders need to help restore society

• The appearance of men from space, who seem less interested in working with the men of Fenx than in changing them forever

• Survival! Always vital

Fenx Details:

Rulership: A governing council and appointed “Administrator” usually referred to as The Boss. His name is Molten. He's an affable fellow, a large, heavy-set but muscular man who offsets his gruff attitude with a dark sense of humor. He is very focused on keeping the peace with Fenx; he came here a decade ago from the town of Agua Prieta down south, where he saw the entire hierarchy of the town descend in to anarchy and tear the place apart.

The Sheriff: Constable Paul Hearse is the appointed sheriff of Fenx. He's a Wandering Gun, who impressed Molten and the council a few years ago when he rode in to town on a working solar car and drove off the then-powerful Knockers gang of wasteland wanderers. Hearse is a bit of a mystery....he's old, very old, and some think he's a First Gen Survivor, with Old Blood (the term to refer to someone who survived the apocalypse first hand, or is directly descended from someone who did, and who inherited anti-aging longevity genetic enhancements). He's a bit of a mystery, and could be a useful ally. He's very protective of Fenx, and between Hearse and Molten this is one of the reason that Fenx has prospered so well for the last decade.

Doctor Tom Rhymer

The Scrapyard-- Jerold runs it

Gun Shop--Hearse runs a gun shop. He can make bullets and shotguns.

Cages--There are prison cages. One has a small terror claw. Another has a melting mutant thing.

(The following are just short notes for ideas I implemented or planned to implement in the campaign)

Plot Points for the Post Apocalyptic Wasteland:


Southland Mine – Site of many ancient derelict robots, submerged in lava fields



The Superstition Pass Community

Being Plagued by screamers

Close to the Autogang territory


The Superstition Mountains Resort Community

Threatened by Slimer Mutants

A small community of about 50 people who took up residence here in a community surprisingly intact, nestled in a small northern vale that protected the resort from destruction

Leader: Turus the Bright


The Purple Vale

The Cauliflower Bug Mushroom Monster Fields

The Bull Cauliflower monster

Mysterious towers and “hill” at the center of the valley

The Jovian Crash

The remains of a cybernetic Jovian Pilot

A Neural Plug found on site

Broken Rail Gun
Northside of the Purple Valley

Evidence the shuttle crash was dragged down here by the giant cauliflowers

The cauliflowers “bloom” in to trees during rain (called agoros)

Creeper Spines

Encountered in Valley 2 where the ship actually crashed.

The Crash Valley

Fire swept area of crash, evidence of remains hauled off by creatures, footprints of cannibals nearby, and hidden remnants of trail of the captor and the woman.

The path leads up in to eastern mountains where the admin was hauled off by the renegade cyber soldier. Bodies of cannibals rammed on fence posts warn the local savages away from the cyber soldier's turf.

Path is littered with explosive motion sensing trap mines along the way.

Also, fine young savage named Jon Grinning Bear; hunting for his sister (named Fawn).

Cannibal Tribe called the Eaters of the Dead

New chief admin Tabitha Haft

Next: Spacer Campaign Ideas

Friday, February 24, 2012

2221 - After the Nemesis Cataclysm: Flora and Fauna of New Earth


Flora and Fauna of New Earth:


“Zombie” Hybrids

Not all humans who succumb to the DNA altering gene viruses of the Seed Pods come out “normal” In the end. A large number of altered humans from what may have been an early experiment by the alien machines were turned for all practical purposes in to violent, nearly unkillable mutant zombies. There is a belief that the virus altered the biology of the affected humans such that their body achieved a sort of “collective independence” in function and neurology. Effectively, you could cut off a limb, even a head, of one of these beings and each piece kept on living.

The zombie hybrids are a major threat to most normal communities of humans. The transmit viral protein strands through their saliva, which can infect and alter prey, turning the new host in to another zombie. They seem to be immortal, living pretty much until killed and eaten, although some unusual indigenous and alien diseases can have strange effects on the altered morphology of the zombies.

Thrashers

Thrashers are vicious alien lifeforms introduced by the Progenitor. Thrashers look like grass, initially, except the blades of grass (average 3-5 feet in height) are part of a bristly network of appendages attached to a much larger form beneath. Thrashers are plant-like; they bloom, spreading seed pods, which are caught by other thrashers. A small percentage of thrashers live long enough to grow large and dangerous. The largest of the thrashers can be a terrible threat to everything around.

Thrashers can move, by flexing their large, flat body, rolling up in to a ball (tentacle/grass blades out) and roll and pull themselves to their destination. It’s remarkable and terrifying to see one in action all at once.

Terror Jaws

The terror jaws are another alien introduction, therapods reminiscent of dinosaurs, but with a four-hinged jaw structure that also has surprisingly fine manipulation skills, Terror Jaws appear in a variety of shapes and forms, with the smallest being no larger than dogs, and the largest dwarfing Old Earth skyscrapers. It is not at all clear to Solar Collective researchers how the largest of these beasts can even support their own weight, and efforts to perform a biopsy to discover something about the physical properties of the largest beings.

Terror Jaws are smart animals, and pack hunters. They tend to feed off of indigenous Terran prey, and are also fond of several alien herbivores that were introduced by the Seed Pods. They are not a theat as long as they are not hungry and do not sense danger, but if provoked they can be deadly in close combat.

Skull Collectors

This particularly terrifying creature is some sort of weird hybrid symbiont which seems to voraciously absorb victims in to its own mass, adding them to the collective consciousness of the alien host organism. Many skull collectors alter their human victims, lengthening their necks, so that their distorted heads, which have grown numerous odd sensory nodes. Thus, skull collectors appear to have a number of tentacle heads with skull-like, polyp-laden heads attached to the ends of the hideous limbs.

Skull collectors live on the DNA and integrated body mass of all other living Terran and alien animals They are highly territorial as well, and appear to reproduce asexually, quickly shedding their newborns and forcing them away less they be re-absorbed in to their mass again. It is this inherent territoriality that prevents skull collectors from a ceaseless advancement in growth and threat to local humans and animals.

Other Creatures in Brief:
Reavers

Mentally unstable survivors with adverse mutations….failures

Harvesters

Strange an immense gathering beetles migrating from south to north

Pincers

Large horned beetle-like creatures that are prime hunters

Wasteland Scavengers

Rabble of all sorts who have degenerated to barbarism

Bandits and Raiders

Professional criminals who prey on the efforts of others

Black Plague

A name given to the victims of this black-creeping tar like substance which covers victims and takes control of their bodies, in order to spread itself to more hosts.

Thumpers

Giant beetle-like monstrosities that can be heard for miles using chemicals to detonate the ground in search of mineral veins which they absorb.

Sky Whales

Strange ovoid balloon-like creatures which attack with numerous dangling tentacles. They live in the upper atmosphere, mostly, and are a flight hazard.

Skullkin

Monstrous wolf-like beasts with exoskeletons and a terrifying howl. They are fierce predators.

Watchers

The mysterious sentient alien beings appearing near the Grand Canyon. They are four-armed and two legged, with long lean carpaced bodies, light blue skin, and wedged heads. They are tool users apparently, and it is uncertain where they have come from, but they are genetically distinct. May be new products of the Seed Pods.
Next: Plots and Locations

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2221 - After the Nemesis Cataclysm: Weaponry of the Solar Collective



Weapons of the Solar Collective


In Space, big guns can puncture spaceship hulls pretty effectively. Most space-born weapons tend to carry a light load with minimal risk of hull puncturing. On Earth it’s not the same deal. Most explorers, researchers, colonists and CDF forces preparing to venture to one of the new Earth colonies go through a rigorous routine involving muscle development using spin gravity to acclimate the spacers to life in 1 Gee. Then they learn how to use high-energy kinetic impact weapons: slug throwers.

Advanced weapons are all fair game, but plasma weapons are highly experimental and disintegrator weapons emit lethal radiation and a shielded suit must be worn for “safe” use. Laser weapons are fairly common and actually pretty useful on PA Earth, since the only people wearing proper reflec armor designed to thwart lasers are the colonists themselves. The most common hand weapon, however, is the less lethal electrolaser stun weaponry (stun pistol and rifle) which are remarkably simple yet sophisticated tasers. Neural weaponry is also fairly common and emp rifles are usually carried in squads of zero-gee units.

The simplest and most effective weaponry remains the slug thrower, a technology that is easier to maintain in the rough natural environment of Earth than more sophisticated and energy-intensive weaponry.

Armor is less sophisticated. Although the need for protective suits in space has helped develop some armor technology, there has never been a need to mass-produce such suits. As a result, complex body armor is rare among the colonists; light and heavy armor suits are available, but power assist armor is usually only found among the spacer colonies and rarely employed on the ground. Heavy power assist armor is extremely pricey and exists in the domain of the spacer militaries only at this time.

As it turns out, warfare either for sport or necessity was still a big thing on Old Earth, and as a result an alarming percentage of extremely durable, radiation-resistant, chemically resistant hazmat-style military combat suits still exist and are even in circulation among the survivors of PA Earth as a valuable commodity. Such a suit, even a partial suit, can be nearly impervious to the hand-made archaic melee and ranged weapons of survivors, and so is extremely valuable. The only thing that keeps it from being even MORE common is the predilection for such armor to be in the presence of derelict military bases, long abandoned by humans, but still managed by insane military robots. So there you go.

The really impressive Old Earth military armor can still be found in working order. These old-world Dragoon-Class Power Suits (Heavy Powered Assault Armor) are extremely rare and working suits must be found; they can’t be purchased at the start of play. Those who do own them are usually reluctant to give them up for obvious reasons. The old Dragoon-Class suits were powered by portable nuclear cores, which if breached could go critical and release lethal level doses of radiation in their immediate vicinity. The half-life of these cores is usually two or more centuries, and there are no Earth-side production facilities in place to replace them (that anyone knows of).


CDF Standard Gear

The Colonial Defense Force of the Solar Collective arms its field troops as follows; characters in the CDF automatically get one of the following packages (choose one):


Planetside Defense:

Armor: Light Assault Armor or Adaptive Mesh and a light helmet

Weapons: heavy pistol and assault rifle or stun pistol and stun rifle.

Melee: knife or baton (or both)


Heavy Weapons Specialist:

Armor: Assault Armor or Light Power Assault Armor and a heavy helmet

Weapons: Heavy pistol and assault rifle with undercarriage grenade launcher

Melee: vibro-knife



Security Defense:

Armor: Assault Armor and heavy helmet

Weapons: stun pistol or stun rifle, heavy pistol

Melee: stun lance and baton



Space Defense:

Armor: Vacuum-Sealed light power-assault armor

Weapons: laser pistol, laser rifle or electromagnetic pulse rifle, or plasma rifle

Melee: superfine knife or zap glove.


Next: New Eden

Monday, February 20, 2012

2221 - After the Nemesis Cataclysm: Technology Levels



Technology of the Solar Collective and Post-Apocalyptic Earth:


As a rule of thumb, here are the basic guidelines for technology in the setting:

Primitive and Archaic Technology: Available and normal tech for survivors on PA Earth.

Medieval and Renaissance Level Technology: rare tech levels, but some advanced survivors may be at this level.

(Modern) 21st Century Earth Technology: These technology levels can be found in the forms of relics and artifacts in the ruins of Earth.

Advanced Technology: This is the default tech level of the Solar Collective.

Advanced Plus Technology: this is the default experimental tech level of the Solar Collective; devices of this level may exist, but are rare and experimental. Examples would include advanced nanotechnology, AI-Construct World Ships, and fully engineered new life forms.

Old Earth Technology: The Pre-apocalyptic earth had tech that was well beyond much of what is common among the spacer colonies today and relics of such can be found on Earth and in the ruins of abandoned space stations and colonies, especially around Venus and Mercury, both of which were largely abandoned due to time and cost by the Solar Collective. It is known that experimental biotech and quantum level apportation on a macroscopic level was in development at the time Old Earth was devastated. Of all the lost tech, only AI advances are believed to be superior today, due to the self-evolving Jovian Network.

Default Solar Collective Technology Levels by Field:

This list will let you know what’s most common for the Solar Collective.

Transportation: STL is the only available form of space flight. In this universe, it is still apparently physically impossible to overcome the light barrier

Weapons and Armor: Modern armor and weapons can be recovered in the ruins, and is common amongst advanced survivor towns. Advanced gear is also salvageable and common among the spacer colonies

Power: There are very few successful experiments at harnessing antimatter, but it’s considered a sort of “holy grail.” There is a common belief that A-M technology was being developed on Earth right before the End.

Biotech/Medicine: Biotech is ahead of the game; transgenic modification is relatively common among spacers and has no social stigmatism attached to it anymore. Old Earth was on the cusp of much greater advancements, and it is known that some survivors today exhibit genetic modifications that date from this period, though the tampering of the Seed Pod Terraformers has confused the issue of what is a relic of human modification and what is alien. The information learned from the Seed Pod Terraformers on Mars also propelled biotech research well ahead of the pack for the Mars Collective.

Computers: Spacers use sophisticated AI technology with built in fail-safes; unrestricted AI technology built on quantum level biotech dominates the Jovian Expanses. Relic AI technology on Old Earth shows that this is one area where the colonies have actually evolved a bit past where Earth tech levels were a century ago.

Next: Weaponry

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Glassworks

It's Sunday Evening! Time for some more Philip Glass. This time, his passage from Glassworks of the same title, followed by Metamorphosis, one of my all time favorite pieces (and one of Glass's works which was featured in an episode of Battlestar Galactica. The one where Starbuck was stuck on lifeless Caprica).

 

Rest

This is misattributed as a zombie tale, when it's really a sort of ghost story/revenant's journey but well worth watching....once again, Vimeo proves to be the place for interesting and exotic films:

Rest from Sunday Paper on Vimeo.

Friday, February 17, 2012

2221 - After the Nemesis Cataclysm: Spacer Backgrounds



Citizens of the Solar Collective and other Spacers:


The Solar Collective is an advanced society with access to high tech resources, a necessity for them to have survived in the solar system for the last century. All Solar Collective characters start with access to most advanced technology, limited only by what resources they take with them to the surface of New Earth. Usually if they are arriving as part of an expedition funded by the Science and Research Institute of the Solar Collective, then they will receive plenty of gear for the task at hand.

Some characters may come from the Jovian Expanses or the Outliers. These are the regions where higher technology is blossoming, and access to even more advanced technology can be found. Characters could also have been involved in unusual research projects in the Mars Colony or off of the Venusian Projects.

Space Professions: Many professions are reflected in space, though the following are most common, including but not limited to assassin, computer tech, doctor, engineer, explorer, journalist, mechanic, pilot, scientist, soldier, spy, teacher, and technician.

Powers: Special agents of the collective may be outfitted with cybertech to aid them in surviving the extremely dangerous and often toxic wastelands of the world. A character may gain access to cybertech by making a LUCK roll and having a base wealth by profession of affluent or greater, or if the GM dictates it (such as their employer granting the surgical modifications necessary to complete a mission) Characters may build their cybertech using the Super Powers rules with a normal level of enhancement.

Equipment: When equipping characters, any Advanced Tech gear is readily available, although more conventional modern equipment may be chosen for its sturdiness or practicality. Some guidelines on weapons and armor will follow under the tech section. For practical purposes, assume your character has received equipment up to a value of Expensive as if the character had affluent wealth. from the Solar Collective to aid his venture on Earth.

Sample Ideas for Spacer Backgrounds:

Soldiers of the Collective

The colonial defense force is a small but well-trained military outfit. Although the Solar Collective foresees no conflict among their own, there are still plenty of rogue operators out there, not to mention the mystery of the Outliers in the outer system, and the reberllious Jovian Expanses. Such turmoil insures work for the CDF. Crack CDF elites are now being recruited to protect humanity’s return to Earth, as well.

Colonist

The colonists are a great choice for average (although “average” for the Solar Collective is still a scientifically educated and capable adult) citizens eager to “clean up” the old planet. As the mobilization to recolonize and “rediscover” the homeworld picks up, Spacers will be given opportunities to buy new plots of land on Earth, to begin the process or reinhabiting and reintroducing civilization to the damaged world.

Researcher

Researchers are chomping at the bit to begin new land-based expeditions to the old homeworld, after decades of limited ground contact and satellite surveillance. Many researchers are eager to unlock the mysteries of Thanatos and its terraforming project.

Educator

Educators are among those spacers eager to learn about the survivors and help lift them back up to new tech levels.

Explorer

Some spacers are simply interested in charting out the mysteries of a world no longer familiar, one which is essentially new alien territory to men and women who have lived their entire lives in space and on desolate planets.

Astronauts and Space Pilots

The astronauts and space pilots of space are unlikely to venture out on Earth for very long, but there may be some unfortunate incident forcing him to wander about for a prolonged period.


Next: technology!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Philip Glass, Minimalism and 1000 Airplanes (on the roof)

I had mentioned that I liked Philip Glass. That's a mild understatement...I believe I have just about all of Philip Glass's music which he wrote, orchestrated, performed or was even in the same room as. If you don't know much about Philip Glass (outside of the fact that his music occasionally graces Verizon and car commercials) you can check out a free sampler over at Amazon here called "The Orange Mountain Music Sampler." This'll give you an opportunity to experience the grandfather (although not the originator) or modern minimalist music in action.

Here's a sampling of one of my all time favorite works by Philip Glass, from the soundtrack to the science fiction play 1000 Airplanes on the Roof. This was the first CD I purchased back in 1988-89 along with my first CD player, and I still have that CD today.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Trollszine 4 is Out! Plus Fiery Dragon Ramps up for more T&T 7.5 Goodness

From The Trollish Delver

Always nice to hear more good news in the Tunnels & Trolls community (the guerilla underground of the RPG network). Trollszine #4 is out and you can download it for free here. Needless to say I have another contribution therein, and I need to get ahold of Dan Hembree and Scott Grant, the new caretakers, to provide some material for future issues.

Dan's blog talks about some great news as well: Fiery Dragon, which has previously produced the Tunnels & Trolls 7th and 7.5 edition boxed sets (as well as a follow-up Delver's Kit)  and is apparently moving forward with a new module and a new release of the 7.5 rules (hopefully in a full-size or more manageable bound book format....I'll keep my fingers crossed....). Moreover, they'll be donating a portion of the proceeds from these sales to the Jeff Freels Transplant Fund, a noted blind artist who is well regarded for his sword & sorcery illustrations. You can see some of Jeff's stuff here.

I haven't talked much about T&T on my blog....I don't get to play it as much as I might like (if I could play it weekly I would), and while its a very easy and intuitive game, it is very hard to sell to the predominantly D&D-familiar crowd I normally game with. That said, I've always held it up as one of my favorite systems of all time, simply because it's so elegant in its design and thanks to the many people from Ken St. Andre on to Liz Danforth, Jim Peters and the many, many others who have contributed to the game over the years to create a unique, farcial, serious, zany, dark, weird and over-the-top realm of fiction and gaming for T&T. It's nice to know that back in 1983 when I discovered T&T that the game would be going just as strong as ever nearly thirty years later, in its weirdly underground style. My first several years as a fanzine editor would never have happened way back when if it weren't for T&T and its dedicated fans.

By Jeff Freels

2221 - After the Nemesis Cataclysm: Backgrounds for Survivors



Backgrounds for Survivors:


The following backgrounds are appropriate to survivors by type.

Primitive Survivors

The survivors of the apocalypse are descendants of the humans who somehow weathered the passing of Nemesis and the destruction of Thanatos. Primitive survivors are wildmen, barbarians and savages by and large, and while they can often puzzle out the uses of the ancient artifacts of lost civilizations they are generally an uncouth, uneducated lot.

Available Professions: primitive survivors have access to a few professions, including explorer, hunter, shaman, tribesman, warrior and wizard.

Powers: Humans make a LUCK roll; if you make it you are a Hybrid and must roll D100: 1-40 roll for mutations; 41-80 psionics; on a 81-00 roll once for a mutation and choose one psionic ability. If you choose wizard or shaman then you may automatically start with psionics and may still roll LUCK to see if you start with mutations, as well!

Equipment: Primitive only; LUCK roll to gain access to 1D3-1 advanced pieces of gear. Purchase gear as if they were of destitute wealth level.

Enlightened Survivor:

Those who may have dwelt on the surface but who retained, learned, or were taught to understand the technology of the forgotten era are known as Enlightened Survivors. Perhaps the character was raised by a community of pre-apocalyptic robots, or maybe he was lucky enough to be born in to a village that had a ritual process for retaining an understanding of written language, as well as a rare cache of ancient tomes filled with the mysteries of physics, mathematics and mechanical engineering.

Available Professions: typically includes craftsmen, criminals, explorers, farmers, gamblers, hunters, laborers, lawmen, merchants, nobles, priests, sailors, scholars, servants, slaves, soldiers, thieves, and warriors. Some enlightened communities may include mechanics, teachers and students.

Powers: Make a LUCK roll; if you make it, roll D100: 1-40 roll for mutations; 41-80 psionics; on a 81-00 roll once for a mutation and choose one psionic ability

Equipment: Enlightened survivors normally have primitive gear, but they also gain access to 1D3-1 advanced pieces of gear salvaged by their community. Purchase gear as if they were of poor wealth level.

Awakened Survivor:

Survivors who somehow remained in stasis or were hidden away in technologically advanced enclaves and shielded from the destruction above are called Awakened Survivors. Regardless of whether the safe location the awakened survivor heralds from suffered a critical meltdown forcing him or her out of stasis, or whether the survivor’s hidden enclave at last ran out of resources and was forced onto the surface world, awakened survivors have been propelled into the real world as a result.

Available Professions: any profession may be suitable, but the likeliest professions include computer tech, doctor, engineer, explorer, mechanic, scientist, soldier and technician.

Powers: Make a hard (1/2 skill) LUCK roll; if you make it, roll D100: 1-20 roll for mutations; 21-80 psionics; on 81-00 roll once for a mutation and choose one psionic ability

Equipment: Awakened survivors are of average wealth level initially and can start with advanced gear (usually taken from their enclave or stasis facility), and should gather as much as they can afford or the GM allows, after which they must then forage.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Emitremmus - Nuclearization

You know, I just realized that although I found this great jem of Fallout-inspired post apocalyptic music a while back, I don't think I've mentioned it on the blog yet. So without further adieu, here is Emitremmus: Nuclearization: Voyage in the Post-Atomic Unknown:

New Hu Creix: Far

More excellent music from Hu Creix, with four tracks available for listening at Jamendo:

Ed Greenwood's Edition Neutral Forgotten Realms



Rule of Three over on the WotC website mentions this bit, specifically that Ed Greenwood is apparently writing his own version of the Forgotten Realms and its going to be edition neutral (as will the Menzoberranzan book). Thought it was worth sharing....I personally would be a lot more interested in seeing where Ed has taken his own campaign over the decades, that would be much more interesting I think than the years and years of hijinks and marketing shenanigans that have driven FR book for the last couple decades now.


Monday, February 13, 2012

2221 - After the Nemesis Cataclysm: Characters



BRP Rules for Characters in 2221:


Characters in the Post-Apocalyptic solar system are built at the default “normal” level of advancement. The following optional rules are employed:

Education is used (use to determine starting skill points)

Mutations, Super Powers and Psychic Abilities are available

Sanity Rules are in place

Personality Type Skill Bonuses are used

Androids use the Build Point-Buy option

Random Character Options:

If desired, a character’s background and race can be rolled for:



D100 Race                              D100 Background

01-60 Human                           01-25 Stellar Collective Spacer

71-80 Genemod                       26-30 Jovian Collective Spacer

81-90 Uplifted Animal              31-40 Spacer from the Outliers

91-90 Android                         41-75 Primitive Survivor

                                                76-95 Enlightened Survivor

                                                96-00 Awakened Survivor
Note: Hybrids can manifest as part of several backgrounds (below)

Races

There are five possible races: humans, androids, hybrids, genemods and uplifted. After choosing a race you will then decide on your background package, either as a survivor or with the Solar Collective and other spacers.

Humans

Despite the genetic alterations of the Seed Pods and the general devastation of humanity, actual humans continue to exist and prosper. Humans on Earth are a ragged lot of primitive survivors struggling day to day against horrific alien flora and fauna. Humans in the Spacer colonies are a hardier breed of man that has adapted to survival in space, and now seeks to return to the mother world.

Humans have a chance of becoming hybrids (below) but untainted humans often modify themselves. Spacers are often genemodded transgenics, or sometimes rely on cybernetic enhancements. Any spacer can choose to modify his or her body with bioware or wetware if he so chooses; only affluent characters can afford this (based on the wealth of the chosen profession, not the equivalent wealth level they are allowed to gear up from).

Androids

Androids generally only exist in the space colonies, though stories on ancient androids which still function on Earth exist. Androids are synthetic humans, built of artificial components and otherwise looking very much like humans. That said, androids are still machines and require physical repairs with the proper tools and parts to recover from injury, though there are rumors of nano-repaired androids.

Androids are built using super powers at the normal level. They are not subject to mutations or psionics. Because they are built, androids should be made using the build option for attributes.

Genemods

For a really odd character, you could have a survivor who is descended from a genemod. Genetic modification, also called transhumanism, was a common practice before the collapse of humanity. Some of the genemods may have been especially suited to survival, and since they were modified at the genetic level may have passed on some or all of their engineered traits to their children. If you wish to play a genemod survivor you may do so; such characters are designed using the Super Power rules in BRP (normal level of ability). Genemods may still roll to see if they have hybrid traits, as well (more below).

Genemods that require unusual or high tech maintenance may be unfeasible without a good explanation. Some genemods may be current transhumans from the Solar Collective, as well.

Uplifted Animals

Humans aren’t the only indigenous flora and fauna being modified by some Seed Pods. Animals may have been modified or uplifted as well. Such animals could also be relics from the pre-apocalyptic era of transhumanism, as well, or recent creations produced by bio engineers in the Solar Collective, too. Such characters can be designed by determining the uplifted stats of the base animal averaged with their human equivalent; they also gain access to unusual traits automatically (roll D100: 01-50 pick two mutations; 51-80 gain Normal level Super Powers; 81-00: gain psionics).

Hybrids of the New Earth

The hybrid is a variant of humanity that is becoming increasingly common: genetically tampered humans, some of whom survive childbirth, others who are changed after a happenstance encounter with a still-active Seed Pod from the Progenitor. To survivors, the hybrids are mystics and shamans who have been touched by the gods. To more learned men, the survivors appear to have been attacked at the genetic level, their DNA altered by hybrid gene-splicing nanoviruses released by the Seed Pods for an unknown purpose.

Hybrids experience mutations over time, causing them to manifest aberrant physical and mental abilities that sometimes border on the supernatural. The psionic effects of the hybrids are astounding, and as researchers are allowed access to Earth they seek to understand the mysteries of these strange mutants. It is suspected that the Seed Pods are clearly making intended experimental changes in their subject humans, but to what end remains a mystery.

Normally you do not choose to become a hybrid; instead, depending on the professional background you pick (next post) you will make a LUCK roll to see if you are a hybrid.


 
Next: Character Backgrounds

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Traveller Effect - or is it the Mongoose Effect???

I've been running Traveller on off-Saturdays now, and its looking ot be a permanent system for a while. This is good! It is also the only night I am truly looking forward to. Not because my other game nights aren't awesome, but because there's something really cool about having all the rules in one book (or even a handful of books) that all fit in the grip of a single appendage (i.e. hand).

Mongoose's digest size Legend and LBB series for Traveller are very kick ass like this. I'm going to add Mutant Epoch, C&C, T&T 7.5, Advanced Fighting Fantasy and probably a few others to the list. I will dream for a bit of what life would be like if I limited myself exclusively to RPGs that could be carried in their entirety without a sense of want in one hand. Ahhhhhhh.....

2221 - After the Nemesis Cataclysm: A BRP Post-Apocalypse Sci Fi Setting

This campaign actually played out in its first form using GURPS 4th edition, but I subsequently revised it for use with BRP, which was an easier set of mechanics to introduce players to. Either way, it may offer some inspirational ideas for your own future Apocalypse Campaigns!



2221 – After the Nemesis Cataclysm


The End of Earth: The Earther’s View

The end of the world happened about 100 years ago, although almost no pocket of civilization left keeps records anymore, so there is some debate about exactly when it happened. Best guesses from the organization called the Recorders is that it began sometime in 2121. This is the first time that records from the Old World speak of the entity known today as Nemesis.

Not much is known about Nemesis in the present, although it is thought to have been a great and terrible being from the sky, which passed near the world of man and wreaked terrible destruction upon the vast civilization of humanity. To the men of the current era it is seen as a quasi-mystical event, a grand cleansing that unraveled the civilization of old, from which a handful of worthy souls rose anew. The name, Nemesis, has come to hold terrifying connotations of reverence, awe, and fear. It is, to many, a terrifying god of darkness.

Not much else is known of this time, though the small handful of scholars called the recorders do seek to remember or salvage what little they can of the lost lore. It is known that Nemesis was heralded by several archons of the sky, which descended to wreak terrible destruction upon the world, in honor of their dark master. Wherever you see vast craters and scars upon the earth, you are looking at the tread marks of these archons. The cradle of the West, near the free city of Fenx, owes much of its life to the vast footfall of the archons, which itself filled with life-bringing water.

The most devastating effect of the great cataclysm was the arrival of the so-called Progenitor. Very little is known about what the Progenitor was, but it is known that the mysterious object was nick-named Thanatos by the ancients, who appear not to have understood what it was.

It was only after the great footfalls of the archons and the searing heat of the skies cast by Nemesis that the Progenitor came to Earth, and began to seed. Thousands upon thousands of what could only be described as pods, many of which are still plainly visible across the wilderlands, crashed to earth and exploded open, spewing forth mysterious gasses, spores they were called, which implanted themselves in everything, be it the soil or living creatures, and began to grow. Men and animals who inhaled the spores went mad, become ravenous beings driven to hunger and violence. From the soil, new plant life grew, strange and terrible life that was much more dangerous than normal plants. Soon, the first animals of the Progenitor appeared; some simple creatures, other terrifying giant therapods with six eyes, four jaw-like tentacles, two legs and long, prehensile tails. These creatures were immediately hostile to man and animal alike. Survival during this early period was harsh.

Over the years, it has been a long struggle for man and his devastated environment, working to survive against the new life brought by Thanatos, a form of life which survives by virtue of the devastation caused by Nemesis and the Archons. There are pockets of humanity which survive, and some claim that there are men in the sky who still survive, waiting for the day when they will come down to bring humanity’s surviving descendants to the mysterious safety of the starry heavens.

This is the future now of 2221.



The End of Earth: The Solar Colonial View

The world came to an end in a few short months. It began when the ISA Deep Space Array, a manned research and scientific outpost near Pluto in the vicinity of the Kuiper Belt detected a rapid approaching object that radiated a low level of heat but appeared to be immense in size. The object was dubbed Nemesis, after recollections of the very old but discarded hypothesis of the Nemesis star, once used to suggest that a large stellar object traversing the solar system might have gravitationally dislodged asteroids and comets, sending them hurling in to the solar system to lead to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Here, whether it was a fluke or not, was a massive object, a brown dwarf, which was about to pass dangerously close to both the Sun and the planets of the solar system.

Nemesis took a trajectory through the solar system which brought it alarmingly close to Earth. Space colonies had been established on Titan and several other Jovian moons, as well as extensive colonies on Mars, the Moon, and even research stations over Venus and Mercury. While most of the colonies were relatively safe, it became painfully evident that Earth would suffer a catastrophic near-miss.

As Nemesis came closer, it became evident that the situation was worse than could be imagined, for the heavy gravitational pull of the brown dwarf was dragging a large mass of asteroids and planetoids with it. Worse yet, it was dislodging cometary debris from the Kuiper Belt and beyond. Over a matter of weeks, thousands of planet-killer sized objects were detected heading inward toward the solar system, creating a devastating barrage of objects, any one of which hitting Earth could lead to catastrophe. The largest of these objects appears to be in a tidally-locked orbital pattern around Nemesis, and was labeled Thanatos.

Humanity’s preparations for the end of time included an effort to export as many carefully selected people as possible to the Solar Collective, as the colonies came to be called. Efforts at deterring planet-killer size objects were undertaken, but with limited success, for there was no amount of time and effort that could possibly deflect the number of incoming objects toward Earth.

After four months, the first of a series of asteroids and cometary debris struck Earth and the moon, followed by more than a dozen more strikes. The largest single impact object was a mile in diameter, but that was more than enough. Eleven successive strikes took almost the entire ecosystem, let alone the civilizations of man, out in a matter of hours. Only a few well-placed or lucky installations and cities survived for any length of time, and even then the wave of regression, followed by the nuclear winter and the devastation on both climate and food resources left 99.9% of all humanity dead.

The Solar Colonies watched in horror, unable to do much more than plan for future efforts to return and re-colonize their home world. That was when the Thanatos Object appeared to launch thousands of objects, like seed pods, at Earth and Mars, pelting both planets with a rain of steady asteroids for a period of weeks. On Mars it was immediately evident that the seed pods contained strange life, which seemed to have been genetically tailored to the unique environment and slight atmosphere of Mars. Because of Mars’s slight atmosphere, however, the vast majority of life spawned from the pods was microbial, with a handful of larger creatures that appeared to be remarkably efficient at converting and producing a meaningful atmosphere. It instantly transformed what was a millennial terraforming project initiated by humans for the last six decades in to an event that would take only a century or two.

It wasn’t until a year later that spacecraft observing Earth revealed that the objects on Earth were also seed pods, which had seeded the earth with the spores, bacteria, eggs and seeds of an entire alien ecosystem. Unlike on Mars, it appeared that the pods on Earth had less work to do, and so began to hatch all sorts of beasts, both foul and friendly. The severely weakened ecosystem of Earth was being attacked by alien invaders. Amazingly, it appeared that in the wake of Nemesis, an effort at alien colonization was underway.

Within three years, a project was launched by the Mars colony to pursue Nemesis and investigate all they could learn about the Thanatos object. It was evident now that what was previously believed to be a close orbital body to Nemesis was, in fact, a slower-than-light colony world, using Nemesis as a means of transportation and expansion. It would be decades before the project returned, using the fusion-powered Starbringer spacecraft, with firm evidence that Thanatos was a relic, ancient, controlled by an unknown artificial intelligence, seeding any potential world that Nemesis passed by. The object itself was some sort of immense processor and seeder, managed by curious self-replicating biomechanical robots reminiscent of Von Neumann machines.

Of all the alien creatures observed to date on both Mars and Earth, no evidence of true intelligence has manifested. This has led to a great deal of speculation about the real purpose of Thanatos, and where its intelligent creators have gone. Speculation ranges from suspicion that the artifact is a relic, long abandoned but still functional, to the fear that sister objects containing STL world ships of the intelligence behind this impressive terra-forming project may be on the way. For now, it remains a mystery.

A century after the event, the Solar Collective is an organized and efficient society of humans, with a strong presence on Mars, where they have made great headway in genetic engineering while learning to control and manipulate the alien environment introduced by Thanatos. The Jovian moon colonies are strong, and new colonies on the Moon of Earth have been built to replace those wiped out in the cataclysm. Recently, direct evidence from observatories on the Moon has shown that mankind survived the great extinction, and now holds its own in small colonies throughout the world.

The Collective is lead by the Colonial Director, a woman named Samaris Yingada, who has decided that the time is now ripe for the first tentative efforts at re-colonization must begin. Ten thousand men and women have volunteered. The Lunar Base has become the staging point for the re-colonization, and a brave new era of exploration and rediscovery is almost underway.

Next: Character Generation

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Origin of the Endreti Trolls of Lingusia

There was a post on troll origins in people's campaigns over at rpg.net and while answering it I thought, "I should add this bit to my blog." And lo, so it was!

Long ago, about ten thousand years or more in the distant past, during the fall of the Prehunat Empire, the trolls were a sylvan race not unlike elves who at the dawn of time were an innocent people. As the fable goes, the first of their kind was a terminally ill woman who would travel to a reflecting pool from which it was said those who slept by the water would experience strange healing dreams. There she shunned her sickly image in the water but made a comfortable bed in the grass beside the pool, and she did indeed dream. A voice spoke to her, ageless and ancient, with a strange quality that suggested that the originator of the voice was, itself, dreaming, perhaps even of her. In the dream it offered her perfection and immortality, if she but honored the sleeping entity. It revealed its name as Tsathoqqua, and said that like the frogs of the earth who bore down into the mud so too had it, long ago, and it had ever since been trapped below.*


The woman considered the voice's offer and eventually assented to its wishes. In doing so, she was changed into the first troll, as her flesh grew rubbery and pallid, but her immortality through regeneration (and a racial memory) was made manifest. Her form became hideous, and she cried out against the change, but Tsathoquaa explained that she was the purest form of beauty he could imagine. This first troll woman was known as Sakarta (and indeed all endreti trolls afterwards would name their first queen after her). She grew mad from her change, and at first lashed out with her newfound beastial rage against her fey kin. In time she grew lonely, and in a pact with Tsathoquaa she would capture her kin in the night, take them to the pool, and subject them to the dark god's change. Thus were the first of the endreti trolls born.



*Tsathoquaa in the Warlords era of Lingusia is revealed to be one of the twleve chaos titans called the Skaeddrath, and the pool from which the first trolls came was also the birthpoint of many horrible monsters over the eons. It is located deep in the eastern mountains of the Amechian region (the Sea of Amech region in the Warlords era).
 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Busy Week! On Moving, the Nook Tablet, and Crude Matter

Just a minor update and apology, the blog's preloaded content has momentarily run dry and I have not had time or a regular internet connection to properly update, due to a sudden move into what feels like a veritable mansion compared to the rather quaint townhome situation my wife and I are used to. Marcus of course is taking it all in stride: one place is the same as another. He only got upset when the vast array of colors and shapes that he loved to look at (known to adults as my "bookshelf") disappeared, to be replaced by a plain ordinary brown set of blank shelves with no colors or shapes whatsoever. Then he let out a major wail.

I'll always have a million books (or at least that's what my aching back tells me I have after this weekend of moving) but I did take a bold step forward on my Birthday last week and bought a Nook Tablet. I figured hey, its kinda like a tablet, and its also like a reader, so maybe I can check out a bit of both. Then I promptly downloaded my vast Baen Library (both the free stuff and the other books I have bought there over time in the hopes I might one day find a convenient way to read them), then went on something of a fevered shopping frenzy for more book deals. It was not pretty, and I don't know whether to be thankful or irritated that my bank let me make so many minor transactions with Barnes & Noble without questioning why so much activity had hit my card. So yeah....



Anyway, it's only been four days and already I am perplexed by the crude plant matter that we once used to record data. Life before the Nook (or more precisely ereaders in general) seems like a strange dream.

The Nook and its like aren't good for some things. My giant Halo Encyclopedia or Age of Conan coffee table books do not translate well to the hand-sized Nook, for example. Even though in principle accessing a PDF of, say, Pathfinder can be more efficient, the Nook Tablet (or rather Pathfinder's PDF layout) still doesn't cater to the medium. Stuff like that. And while some publishers get that we know they have reduced overhead in electronic media, others appear to take a "threatened" stance against it and proceed to jack up electronic prices even more. Then there are publishers like the aforemention Baen books who absolutely get it.

I'm not asking for steep discounts...but if you're $8 paperback is retailing for $8 in electronic form, then I know you're charging me more for the virtual edition in terms of profit than the physical edition. There's nothing wrong with that, except of course how I will then not buy your e-copy and go instead for the competitor who marks their $8 books down to $6 (or sometimes even less).

It doesn't look like ebooks in general have reached the "Steam Holiday Clearance Sale" level yet, though. Maybe they have on Amazon, I don't know. I couldn't bring myself to buy a kindle, though. I like having more options, not less...Nook seemed to fit a happy middle ground somewhere.

Anyway, apologies for not having any recent content! Once the internet is hooked up in the new house there should be more to come. Maybe even a Mutant Epoch article or two if I can find some time to finish them up...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tales of the Cannadad Dei: Hnaka Warrior Women


Orders, Cults and Secret Societies of the Sabiri


The Sabiri are like any other civilization, and must have their special secret societies and closed groups. Unlike many other lands, the sabiri have some unusual influences to this effect, including the revived demon cults of the Kadelans, the religious cults of the enigmatic Kobal and Amorgas (which are worshipped solely in this region) and the many unusual martial orders that cater to unique characteristics of the local culture and its unusual gender divisions. Each of the key groups and their influence in the land shall be addressed below.

Hnaka Warrior Women

The hnaka (hih-naka, which means horse slayers) are small sects of warrior women scattered throughout the many tribes of Sabiri. The hnaka rite of passage is a special ritual that women who chose to eschew their traditional roles may attempt to pass. The ritual is a grueling quest to prove one’s worth as a true warrior, and is meant to frighten away would-be initiates who haven’t the strength or fortitude necessary to survive in the demanding roles of a hardened warrior cult.

Hnaka who pass the test are indoctrinated in to a curious new society, one in which they are expected to dress and act like a man, and to even adopt male roles of sexual dominance. In the southlands a few extremist tribes near the border to Helios are known to undergo rites of genital mutilation. A handful of hnaka refrain from all sexual relations and choose a path of celibacy.

Tribes which have a sect of hnaka amongst their number treat the women of this group as if they were men in almost all other ways save for ownership of horses (indeed they are forbidden from ownership of horses). The men in turn treat them in kind, and grant them all of the rights and status of male warriors. This means, in theory, that hnaka can even take husbands—or wives—as if they were men. A hnaka who chooses men as husbands in this manner does have some restrictions: the men must be foreigners, slaves, or captured in battle from enemy tribes. It is extremely rare for a hnaka to take on a voluntary warrior mate of a friendly tribe voluntarily, for it still means a loss of status for the man.

Hnaka in battle show the uncharacteristic unity of their kind. If a dozen tribes gather on the fields of battle to face off against another dozen, the hnaka sects amongst each friendly tribe will gather together as one and work as a united company. No one questions this, and the hnaka usually choose one chieftain among the tribal leaders to answer directly to, though the exact process by which they make this decision is enigmatic. The hnaka do seem to have some sort of internal ranking system, but exactly how the pecking order is established is unknown.

Hnaka in battle are distinguished for being ground troops. As a unit the hnaka are infamous for their ruthless and deadly efficiency at dealing with mounted warriors on foot. Their ability to bring down both horse and rider is how they attained their name.

New Feat: Hnaka Celibate


Prerequisites: Hnaka Warrior Maiden background, female, celibate

Effect: A small number of Hnaka warrior women believe that sexual energy depletes their warrior’s prowess. By restraining from sexual contact these women are perceived as achieving greater skill in battle.

A celibate Hnaka warrior woman who remains so gains a special property: she may expend a hero point as a swift action to gain one of two benefits (chosen when the point is spent): she may gain a bonus to all attack and damage rolls equal to her level for a number of rounds equal to her Chrisma modifier (minimum 1 round) until the end of the encounter or she may recover a depleted spell slot. Should she ever break her oath of celibacy, she loses this feat immediately and must replace it with a different feat.

Warrior women who were not virginal before taking this oath may subsequently take it and be eligibile for the feat, but they must also subject themselves to a process of ritual purification during which they prove their worth by abstaining from sexual congress for a year, first.

(Notes: First, one might be forgiven for thinking that I devised Sabiri female warrior cults with all their tattoos and leather specifically to have an excuse to use Royo's warrior women illustrations in my campaigns. Second, this is technically as far as I've gotten with "ready to release" content in the Sabiri line, but I hope to get more material done soon....maybe even by the time this edition of Tales rolls around (I've preprogrammed a bit of it so I have a couple weeks...)