Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Trek: The Endless Frontier - Part Two

Continuing on from my last star trek post, here's five more pitches for Trek campaigns. Some people have been telling me to run a Trek game, so who knows, maybe some of these will actually get used...

Shadows of Praxis
Where: The Ilyushin Sector
When: 2293

The Khitomer Conference is concluded; a new world of galactic peace has arrived. The Klingon Empire is in upheaval, and you, the crew of the Constellation-class USS Gagarin, and the primary Starfleet presence in the distant Ilyushin sector, have to grapple with the sudden breakdown of political loyalties or economic relationships among nearby Klingon planets as Klingon Houses seek to gain advantage or Klingon-occupied planets move to throw off the yoke of the Empire.

The Long Night
Where: The Bajor Sector
When: 2360s

Bajor has been under the heel of the Cardassians for forty years now, and with the Cardassians distracted in another war with the Federation the time has come for the Bajoran resistance to expand its operations. You are one of the off-world resistance cells, tasked with securing the flow of weapons, medical supplies, tools and food to the resistance on Bajor and strike at Cardassian targets in space or on other worlds.

Where: The Lorenze Cluster
When: 2364

Starting with revisiting Minos, the "Arsenal of Freedom," the crew of the Miranda-class USS Syrran is tasked with exploring the xenophobic and hidebound planets of the Lorenze Cluster—surveying the devastated Erselrope system, surveying the ruins of Brunnis, and contacting the governments of swampy Gigerota, toxic Theleskon and the militarized dictatorship of Cluster Prime.

Free Haven
Where: Free Haven colony, Bajor Sector
When: 2369

The discovery of the Bajoran Wormhole had knock-on effects throughout the Alpha Quadrant, as new trade routes were charted to bring ships from across the Federation and beyond. As part of their assistance to the planet Bajor after the end of the Occupation, the Federation helps the Bajorans establish colonies on unclaimed planets in the region. One of these is Free Haven, a waystation on the route between various unaligned worlds, the Klingon Empire and Deep Space Nine. You are Bajorans working for the provisional government, Starfleet advisors, civilian merchants and colonists, or smugglers, criminals and terrorists trying to establish a new base of operations on Free Haven.

Ashes in the Fall
Where: Federation Oversight Zone, Cardassian Union
When: 2375

The war between the Dominion and the combined forces of the Alpha Quadrant is over, leaving planets across the quadrant in ruins. The major powers of the Alpha Quadrant have each established areas of control within the former Cardassian Union. You are Starfleet officers, Federation diplomats, civil engineers and doctors, Cardassian advisors or Klingon or Romulan attachés travelling on the Akira-class USS Thunderchild. Your directives: reconstruct the Cardassian economy in the face of post-war chaos, fend off the predations of the desperate and the opportunistic, securing advanced Dominion technology left over from their withdrawal, and dealing with Klingon, Romulan and Ferengi political goals in the new galactic order.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Star Trek: The Endless Frontier - Part One

If you average it out over the course of my life, I've spent fifteen minutes a day thinking about Star Trek. And since I was twelve, most of that has been in the context of running a Trek campaign. During those two-thousand seven-hundred and eighty-odd hours I've accumulated a fair number of campaign ideas for games.

Loracus Prime
Loracus Prime
When: Early to mid 22nd century.

This campaign is a sandbox centred on the 'capital city' of the United Earth colony world of Loracus Prime (Loracus being the Vulcan designation). The PCs are administrators, scientists or support personnel charting the planet and maintaining the infrastructure of the spaceport at the edge of human-explored space. The 'capital' is more like McMurdoStation, and the planet is far from an idyllic Class M paradise—it is a vast, purple, bug-infested wasteland.

Dodge Sector
Sectors 28223 through 28400
When: Mid 23rd century

Around Dodge IV and in the frontiers farther out there's just one way to handle the killers and despoilers, and that's with Starfleet Security and the smell of… phaser burns.
You are the crew of the Hermes-class vessel USS Dillon as it polices the spacelanes in the uninhabitable sectors on the deep frontier of the Federation. Miners, prospectors, homesteaders, thieves and hucksters congregate in the recesses of mined-out asteroids and the alleys of boom-towns, and it's up to you to keep them safe from the hazards of space, and each other.

Hunters of Orion
Rigel Sector and the Orion borderlands
When: Mid to late 23rd century

The Rigel sector, between the Federation, the Orion borderlands and the Klingon empire is one of the most populous, and most ancient places in the known galaxy. Tens of billions live on the planets of the Rigel system alone, living over (and in) ruins that date back hundreds of millennia. Living among these teeming masses are cut-throats, thieves, grave robbers, bounty hunters, spies and assassins—like you.

The Knife's Edge
The Organian Treaty Zone and beyond
When: Mid 23rd century

Space… the final battlefield. These are the voyages of the warship Rurik, to seek out new worlds, to kill new enemies, and to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of the conquered. To boldly go where no Klingon has gone before.
You are the crew of the IKS Rurik, a D7 class battlecruiser on a five-year mission to defeat the perfidy of the Federation, the schemes of the Romulans, to find new planets to conquer, and defend the Empire against the aliens who would dare defy it.

Friday, August 21, 2015

alter20: Thoughts on a d20 Variant

As the In Places Deep group is probably sick of hearing, I got into RPGs via Star Trek, not D&D. The whole level, class, lack of negative abilities thing—didn't absorb them early enough for it to make sense to me.

Thing is, though, I think 3e—the edition of D&D which was my introduction to the game, because I'm a stinking millennial—has a pretty solid structure to it, at least in levels 1-4. I'm a fan of the character generation in Call of Cthulhu d20: like BRP, it assumes skills are going to be medium for the majority of your mechanical interactions with the game world, and though it doesn't go far enough in integrating the rest of the organizational cruft (like BAB and saves) into the skills, it at least gives you a broad choice between an "offensive" (high BAB, one good save) and "defensive" (bad BAB, two good saves) character. (I also like the optional AC bonus per level.) It still has HD increase with level, though, so it's not perfect.

Whatever. The point is, I don't like levels.

Here's some notes toward a levelless version of d20. (Also a goal: no dice but d20s.)

Same, although scores are dropped in favour of just using modifiers. (Here's a table for using a d20 to randomly assign attributes—six rolls in order, of course.)


Now modifiers to stats derived from Class Features, like in 5e. Alternately, some of their functions (like dodging for Reflex) might fall under a Skill.

There as normal, but skill points are handed out bundled at chargen, in the hope of avoiding class/crossclass weirdness. (Maybe occupation/hobby split, like in BRP?) Increasing skill points is the primary route to advancement. BRP-style advancement might also be an option.

Highest skills at chargen should probably still cap off at 4, although there should be a way of having that be an emergent limit instead of just being like "this is the cap at chargen."

Probably going to have an open skill list, or one with broad categories which lots of things can fit into. (Sciences, armed combat, persuade). I guess you could borrow the skill (specialty) from CODAtrek, although as 5e recognizes the skills are already specialties of each Attribute, so they should just be organized per Attribute, with some tied to particular keywords (like Combat, Defense or for example)

Attack Bonuses
Fall under Skills. Weapon Proficiencies would need to be skill categories (Armed Combat: Axes).

Thinking attack actions might be formalized more, like in 4e or [Splat] World. That allows access to maneuvers or riders/added effects to be pinned more clearly.

Hit Points
Use a variation of Injury Saves from the SRD.

Now a roll, because I'm a jerk. Defense options might fall under various skills, too—a Dodge skill might be a good idea. Parrying would be under Armed Combat.

Class Features/Feats
None should just replicate skill bonuses, but should be exception-based things (like increased damage or new ways of using a skill in combat). They're each tied to a particular skill though, and become available at skill breakpoints for an expenditure of additional skill points. I'm thinking 1/2 the breakpoint number as a baseline for each, and for the first skill breakpoint to be 4 points (so 2 points for each ability at that level.)

Spellcasting is accomplished through sacrificial magic. If you want to accomplish something through magic, write it out in obsequious language and hand the note to the GM, along with an appropriate sacrifice of food and drink. Pizza and coke is traditional, but individual GMs might have different desires. (I prefer coffee, for example.)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Call of Cthulhu: The Malleus Monstrorum Hybridized, Part Two

Part one here. Only a few entries this time, since I'm slaving away on the Dracula Dossier.

FLYING POLYP: Sometimes people just get these polyps, you know? They just sort of show up out of nowhere. They might be caused by a viral infection running rampant in someone with a compromised immune system, or just one of those funguses we have on us already suddenly proliferating. It's not weird or anything. Except when they whistle.
FUNGUS, VILE: Already covered.
GHASTS: One of the several sub-species of hominid created by the Serpent-Men, ghast-human hybrids no doubt occur in both nature and the laboratory, some new large, hairy, sneaky humanoid to to complicate the next season of Finding Bigfoot.
GHOULS: Already covered, in more ways than one.
GLAAKI, SERVANTS OF: Already covered.
GN'ICHT' TYAACHT: A certain thickness to the skin, a kind of barklike stiffness and thin, reedy hairs might single someone out as the child of a woman ravished by a tree spirit, or one whose child gestated within reach of one of their groves.
GNOPH-KEH: Already covered, maybe? This is a place where shape-shifting is a survival strategy, and the gnoph-keh as chimeric hybrid of bear, whale and Rhan-Tegoth might be a common kind of regal form some lost culture's sorcerers to take.
GOATSWOOD GNOMES: See Statue, Animated.
GREEN ABYSS, SPAWN OF: See Boats of the Glen Carrig
GUGS: Worse than a hairlip, the jaw seems to have misgrown sideways, and the molars are wholly undeveloped. Muscles seem to be attached to anchor-points on the skull almost randomly. Another growth seems to be a vestigal arm growing backwards out of the elbow. Also, normally, we'd be in a position to perform a DNA test on the child to determine which worker in the coma ward impregnated his mother, but all the results come back as tainted samples. It's quite a mystery.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Call of Cthulhu: The Malleus Monstrorum Hybridized, Part One

Crossposted from a forum post.

Human-alien hybrids in Call of Cthulhu... alphabetically.

ABHOTH, SPAWN OF: A human infected with the Abhoth-like degradation of the flesh, rendering it like rubber or tripe. This probably extends to nerves and brain-tissue, creating odd absences of human feeling or cognition.
ADUMBRALI: 'Seeker,' already covered.
AIHAIS: Possibly deriving from the same ultimate root, if mi-go experiments were responsible for the existence of humanoids on Mars. Human-Aihai hybrids might have functional second-limbs in the middle of their torso (or emerging from their second torso, depending on Aihai anatomy) and might be taller than the norm, although their height might be a response to the low gravity on Mars, in which case it depends on which planet they grow up on.
ASKALI: Might require artificial means of hybridization, but if that's done it the Askali single-eye might emerge out of the forehead, or one of the hybrid's human eyes might swell asymmetrically to accomodate it. (If the eyes *aren't* weird, you can't really tell it's an Askali, can you?) Might be related to Lemurians.
ANIMICULI: Already covered.
BYAKHEE: We don't really know where they come from; maybe they already are human-alien hybrids? They certainly resemble the human pattern more than you would expect a real alien to. Perhaps this is ultimately another mi-go tool built from human biomass, freed en masse by the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign for their own interests, or some alternate form of Unspeakable Possessor originating in the unknown biome of Yhtill.
CHAKOTA: Already covered, but there's some Chakota-hybrid-like (mini-Chakota?) monster in TUO 14/15 (IIRC)
CHAUGNAR FAUGN, BROTHERS OF: Isn't there already a form of Chaugnar-hybrid? Or is that a unique entity?
CHILDREN OF THE WIND: These sound like they might be a form of Ithaquan servitor, not unlike the (false?) wendigo. Maybe this is what happens when they're stuck in a place (Syria) that's cut off from the influence of Ithaqua?
COLD ONES: Might as well be the undying remains of the human cultists of the Pole-Flame.
COLOURS OUT OF SPACE: I think this is covered in one of the Secrets books?
CRAWLING ONES: Already covered.
CRYSTALIZERS OF DREAMS: Shadow people, natch.
CTHULHU, THRALLS OF: Already covered.
DARK ONES: Already covered.
DARK SARGASSUM: See Boats of the Glen Carrig.
DEEP ONES: Already covered.
DESH: Not unlike a ghost, the human-desh is only partially in and partially out of material reality. Parts of their flesh may sublime into Tillinghast-space or rotate through dimensions (it takes a POW roll to do so consciously, as the human-desh is an awkward hypershape). Unfortunately, human-desh are natural conduits for regular desh, and though their deshness makes the process nonfatal, it is debilitatingly painful and distorts the human-material sections of their bodies in the process.
DHOLES: Dhole-like characteristics emerge out of a human after infection by dhole genetic material. If the body adapts to the replacement of carbon by the silicon-like formation dholes are comprised of, they begin to grow thick pads of skin and losing sensation throughout their bodies. While this may seem advantages in the short term, the human-dhole eventually transforms into a thick knot of dhole-skin, immobilized by their own bodies.
DIMENSIONAL SHAMBLERS: As Desh, although the humanoid shape of a Shambler makes me think that there's some human somewhere in there already.
DUST MEN: Seem pretty similar to the Paramentals of Lieber, right?
EIHORT, BROODLINGS OF: Already covered.
ELDER THINGS: An Elder Thing seed that somehow takes root in a human may, by virtue of the extreme antiquity of its biology, displace human organs with their own functioning, and eveventually hijack the genetic expression of new cells, growing elder-thing eyestalks out of human eye sockets and healing cuts with thick, fibrous knots of cactuslike flesh. EDIT: And of course, the Elder Thing seed doesn't trigger any immune-system responses due to admin-user privileges buried deep in the shoggoth-code.
FIRE VAMPIRES: These beings appear to be normal humans, but they have a complex electro-Kirlian field extending outwards. Electronic devices short out near them, and they can use the field to increase temperatures around them to dangerous levels—or suck the electrical energy right out of you.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Free Friday Map: Manhunter Is The 80est Movie Ever

I wonder if Hannibal is going to have wistful turtle scenes next season.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Free Friday Map: Several Rooms

A day late but that's what you get for being healthy, you're expected to do things.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Free Friday Map: Hair of the Dog that Sneezed On You

I've got some Call of Cthulhu posts half-written, but I'm too grungy to do real work today, so here's a map.