Thursday, February 24, 2011

Out of the Drum My Henchmen!

 OUT OF THE DRUM MY HENCHMEN! 

ALL MANNER OF EVIL POWERS WALKED THE EARTH

 DANIEL WAVED HIS SWORD

 HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT FOR THAT HORSE?

IVAN GOLIK DREW THE BOW

 THE TSAR WENT OUT INQUIRING OF HIS PEOPLE
IF ANY HAD BEEN WRONGED 

   
 THE WIND CAME AND SWEPT ALL OF HIS CORN AWAY 

THE GIRL DROVE THE HEIFER OUT TO GRAZE

THE TSARIVNA AROSE FROM HER COFFIN

 THE RULERS OF HELL LAID HANDS UPON
THE OVERSEER STRAIGHT AWAY 

HIS WIFE CARESSED AND WHEEDLED HIM

 SUDDENLY SAINT PETER APPEARED TO HIM 


A discussion about illustrating C. Kutalik's Domain Game rules at Hill Cantons reminded me of Noel Nisbet's illustrations from Cossack Fairy Tales and Folk Tales (1916).  I think Nisbit's work is really evocative and fantastic  plus there are the representations of various themes that I associate with the  Domain Game-demonic beings, agriculture, horse trading, vampires, odd headgear, a winged Tsar, and a drum full of henchmen.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

One Small Step

Posting has been somewhat sparse lately as I'm struggling to finish a dissertation scale report at work and I've been trying to put together some draft play-test rules for Humanspace Empires. I'm nearly finished writing the character generation, weapons, armor, and equipment rules. I need to tie up loose ends with these sections and write enough of the combat and adventuring rules to get a party through a space dungeon. I've added the Adventurer class, based on the optional Adventurer class for EPT that, I believe, was published in Dragon magazine. I'm struggling with how to handle robot and android characters and it seems that they may work best as yet another class; as such, the five character classes would be Adventurer, Android/Robot, Astronaut, Scientist, and Warrior. 

I'm hoping to have the draft finished over the weekend and I will make it available for download as soon as possible. I've generated the first character: Zád Áxáqan, a young human astronaut from the desert planet Canopus 3. He grew up on a moisture farm in the highland wastes and managed to sign on as a crewman with a nefarious local space smuggler. He's an excellent starship pilot for his age and has natural, untrained PSY power.

Zád Áxáqan

Class: Astronaut     Level: 1
Race: human         Sex: male
Age: 20
Homeworld: Canopus 3

STR : 7 (-1 melee damage/ force)
DEX: 13 (-1 AC /+1 attack)
CON: 10
INT : 9
PSY: 14 (+1 PSY saves)
CHA: 12

Background Skills
driver, moisture farmer, scavenger, survivalist
air pilot, alien contact, smuggler, thief, jack, poet

Astronaut Skills
turret gunner, space swordsman, energy pistol, navigator,
pilot +1

PSY Powers
PSY luck (1/day)

Languages: Sunuz

HP: 10
AC 4

Armor
skin-suit (AC 5) with bubble hood

Weapons
space sword 2d6
Z-ray pistol 2d8

Gear
utility belt, contra-grav belt, communicator (medium range),
translation orb (local Canopus, Ahoggyá, Hokun, Nininyal, Pe Choi, Tinalíya), backpack , 100’ rope, trade goods, waterskin

CR: 310

Monday, February 21, 2011

Saturday Night Specials: Shambleau

Shambleau

No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Inimical
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 7
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6 or special
Morale: 10

These solitary ancient alien beings typically appear as tan skinned humanoid women with bright green feline-like eyes with pulsating pupils. Shambleau have four digits on each hand and foot, all tipped with sharp protractible claws and a thin pink tongue. They are hairless and normally wear a turban or other head covering to conceal their mane of fleshy red worm-like tendrils. Shambleau otherwise tend to dress in a fashion that allows them to blend into the culture within which they hunt.

A humanoid being that gazes at a shambleau must succeed in a saving throw versus psionics, or fall under the creature’s eroticized mind control. It is possible to view a shambleau through a mirror or camera to avoid this effect. A shambleau may control a maximum of 3 minds simultaneously. Any being that engages in combat with a shambleau while shielding his or her eyes attacks with a penalty of –4, and the shambleau receives a bonus of +2 to hit. All shambleau are immune to PSY powers and have a bonus of +4 to all other saving throws. They are also very agile and capable of seeing in total darkness.

They may attack with claws or by lashing out with their mass of wormy tendrils. Their claws do 1d6 damage per hit; the tendrils do no damage but drain one experience level (representing life energy) per hit. Mind controlled victims will be similarly drained of life energy; however no roll to hit is necessary and the creature will usually extend the process over several hours. A victim drained below 0-level dies and is left as a withered husk. Survivors of an encounter with a shambleau are 25% likely to become obsessed with the creatures and attempt to seek out others of the species. They suffer a -4 penalty on saving throws against a shambleau’s mind control power on subsequent encounters.

The shambleau are highly intelligent but tend to have difficulty with human speech. The origin world of these beings is unknown but they are found throughout known space.




***
 She had risen soundlessly. He turned to face her, sheathing his gun and stared at first with curiosity and then in the entirely frank openness with which men regard that which is not wholly human. For she was not. He knew it at a glance, though the brown, sweet body was shaped like a woman's and she wore the garment of scarlet—he saw it was leather—with an ease that few unhuman beings achieve toward clothing. He knew it from the moment he looked into her eyes, and a shiver of unrest went over him as he met them. They were frankly green as young grass, with slit-like, feline pupils that pulsed unceasingly, and there was a look of dark, animal wisdom in their depths—that look of the beast which sees more than man... 


Her lips moved, and in a murmur that blended indistinguishably with the silence and the sway of her body and the dreadful sway of her—her hair—she whispered—very softly, very passionately, "I shall—speak to you now—in my own tongue—oh, beloved!"

And in her living cloak she swayed to him, the murmur swelling seductive and caressing in his innermost brain—promising, compelling, sweeter than sweet. His flesh crawled to the horror of her, but it was a perverted revulsion that clasped what it loathed. His arms slid round her under the sliding cloak, wet, wet and warm and hideously alive—and the sweet velvet body was clinging to his, her arms locked about his neck—and with a whisper and a rush the unspeakable horror closed about them both.

In nightmares until he died he remembered that moment when the living tresses of Shambleau first folded him in their embrace. A nauseous, smothering odor as the wetness shut around him—thick, pulsing worms clasping every inch of his body, sliding, writhing, their wetness and warmth striking through his garments as if he stood naked to their embrace.

All this in a graven instant—and after that a tangled flash of conflicting sensation before oblivion closed over him for he remembered the dream—and knew it for nightmare reality now, and the sliding, gently moving caresses of those wet, warm worms upon his flesh was an ecstasy above words—that deeper ecstasy that strikes beyond the body and beyond the mind and tickles the very roots of soul with unnatural delight.

All this in a graven instant—and after that a tangled flash of conflicting sensation before oblivion closed over him for he remembered the dream—and knew it for nightmare reality now, and the sliding, gently moving caresses of those wet, warm worms upon his flesh was an ecstasy above words—


-from "Shambleau" by C. L. Moore first published in Weird Tales, November 1933.
Illustration by Philippe Caza, copyright 1970.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Clone Run Over With Land Vehicle

Two of my favorite things about TOP SECRET (TSR 1980):


Very advanced playing.

In some cases it is absolutely inappropriate to determine the  number of injury points caused by clone attack with 2d10. That shadow always creeped me out too.  What is it? A robot? A clone? An alien being?

I always enjoyed rolling on the Methods of Extermination Execution Table though...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Humanspace Re-Alignment


A few astute readers noticed that the alignment of the Wimperer was given as inimical.  I initially had debated whether to retain alignment in Humanspace Empires at all, adopt the Good and Evil alignments of EPT, the Stability and Change alignments of later Tekumel games, the Chaos, Neutral, Law alignments of D&D, or go with something else entirely.

At this point I've pretty much decided on the latter approach and ripped off Gorgonmilk's great alignment scheme as detailed in his post Hidden Planet: Design Notes

Alignment only applies to monsters. It's more of a method for me to characterize their relationship to the PCs in a really general way. The three alignments are Inimical, Neutral and Benevolent. These are not the cosmic properties alignments represent in D&D.

I feel that Inimical and Neutral, at least, fit perfectly with my vision for Humanspace. I'm not completely sure if alignment should be "monster only" or if Benevolent is right for the friendly pole. I suppose in this scheme, alignment could be seen as simply a metric of a monster's disposition to humanity and its allies in Humanspace. As such, if alignments were extended to non-monsters, nearly all humans and members of allied races would be aligned Benevolent (or perhaps Allied).  

Stability and Change are certainly relevant within Humanspace, as contact with the inter-planar entities associated with these cosmic polarities is possible despite the thicker skin of the Humanspace Universe than that of Tekumel's pocket universe.  It is a major (and perhaps very non-canonical) conceit of the design of the Humanspace setting that space travelers spend sufficient time outside the Universe that contact with inter-planar entities and the ability to tap into inter-planar powers is possible. It is also my understanding that the Lords of Stability and Change were not the first or most powerful god-like inter-dimensional entities that reached out to (or for) mankind.  In the time of the Space-faring Ancients, it appears, that those beings that later became known as the Pariah Gods were more accessible from or more interested in the Universe of Humanspace, even if only because of hunger...

As it is possible that PCs in Humanspace might contact and ally with inimical beings or entities of one sort or another, perhaps they should have alignments...

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb


The image above is of the detonation of the Tsar Bomba nuclear test, Novaya Zemlya Island, Mityushikha Bay, Arctic Circle, Soviet Union, 1961, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever built.  The bomb exploded 2.6 miles above Earth, yet its fireball reached the ground, its shockwave broke windows in Finland and Sweden, and its mushroom cloud reached seven times the height of Mount Everest.

The graphic below presents a comparison of the fireball radii of various nuclear weapons including Tsar Bomba:
 


On the basis of a little additional research I’ve revised the stats for the impractical but interesting big bombs of Humanspace.  The table below lists the revised stats and approximate stats for a few real world nukes.  I’ve also edited the descriptions and effects of the atomic bomb, Planetbuster, and Thermostellar bombs.  I will probably need to revise these again once the force field and starship combat rules come together.

Weapon
Blast Radius
Variable Damage
Weight
Tsar Bomba (50 Mt)
7000’
Special
52,000 lb.
Castle Bravo (15 Mt)
4300’
Special
23,500 lb.
W59 Minuteman I (1 Mt)
1500’
Special
550 lb.
W88 Peacekeeper (350 kt)
1000’
Special
440 lb.
Fat Man (18 kt)
300’
Special
10,200 lb.




Atomic bomb
1000’+
Special
25 lb.+
Planet Buster bomb (sub-atomic)
50 mi.+
Special
500 lb.+
Thermostellar bomb (Interfogulator)
200 mi. +
Special
1000 lb.+




Atomic bomb: These devices derive their immense destructive force from nuclear reactions of fission or fusion.   Atomic bombs vary widely in yield.  An atomic bomb is treated as a diambrite explosion (see below) within its blast radius, as a 10X power firebomb in a zone 5x its blast radius,  and as a wavium bomb in a zone from 5x its blast radius to 20x its blast radius .  The powerful electromagnetic pulse created by the explosion will also jam electrical equipment (including energy weapons, robots, androids and force fields) in the blast radius for 2d8 hours.  Additionally any living being caught in the blast must save vs. death or die from radiation exposure in 3d6 days.

Planet Buster bomb (sub-atomic): These terrible weapons derive their destructive energy from sub-atomic forces.  Treat as an atomic bomb with a much greater blast radius.  A bomb of sufficient size may result in seismic aftershocks that are capable of shattering a world.

Thermostellar bomb (interfogulator): The weapon without answer. These devices are weaponized interfogulators that derive their destructive energy from inter-planar forces.  If exploded within a star a sufficiently large bomb may induce collapse or supernova. Treat as an atomic bomb with a much greater blast radius.  Objects “disintegrated” are 50% likely to be shifted into a bubble plane or another dimension.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Night Specials: Whimperers

Whimperers (Marashyálu)

No. Enc.: 1d3
Alignment: Inimical
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d8
Morale: 9

These inter-planar horrors are masters of illusion and usually appear as children, women, or wounded friends that weep and plead for help. They are powerful psionics and are capable of controlling the minds of 1d6 victims per round. Their hypnotic power has a range of 30’ and the victim is permitted a save vs. psionics. Anyone failing to resist is overcome and is typically commanded to fight against his or her allies.

The true form of the Marashyálu appears to be a fleshy creature with a long proboscis and several tentacles terminating in bony spurs. Although they tend to avoid engaging in physical combat they can strike once per round with one of their bony tentacles. The creatures will feed on incapacitated beings by inserting their proboscis into the mouth or other opening of the victim and sucking  the soft organs out of his or her body. These monsters are immune to physical attacks and energy weapons but are effected by inter-planar weapons and psionic attacks.

Saturday Serial: Space Soldiers


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Somebody Set Us Up the Bomb



Super Scientific Grenades
and Explosives



Weapon
Blast Radius
Variable Damage
Weight
Atomic bomb
1000’+
Special
5 lb.+
Diambrite (D-4 Explosive)
90’
Disintegration
1 lb.
Fire bomb
20’
8d8
1 lb.
Flash grenade
20’
-
0.5 lb.
Nerve gas grenade
20’
Death
0.5 lb.
Planet Buster bomb (sub-atomic)
10 mi.+
Special
100 lb.+
Pulse Grenade
10’
-
1 lb.
Shock bomb
30’
4d8
3 lb.
Shock grenade
10’
2d8
0.5 lb.
Smoke grenade
30’
-
1 lb.
Stun bomb
30’
-
0.5 lb.
Stun grenade
10’
-
0,5 lb.
Tangle grenade
10’
-
1 lb.
Thermostellar Bomb (Interfogulator)
100 mi. +
Special
500 lb.+
Wavium bomb
50’
8d8
3 lb.
Wavium grenade
20’
4d8
1 lb.


Atomic bomb: These devices derive their immense destructive force from nuclear reactions of fission or fusion.   Atomic bombs vary widely in yield.  An atomic bomb is treated as a diambrite explosion (see below) within one half of its blast radius and as a 5X power firebomb within the outer half of its blast radius.  The powerful electromagnetic pulse created by the explosion will also jam electrical equipment (including energy weapons, robots, androids and force fields) in the blast radius for 2d4 hours.  Additionally any living being caught in the blast must save vs. death or die from radiation exposure in 3d6 days.

Diambrite (D-4 Explosive): Diambrite is a very powerful and stable, synthetic plastic explosive.  Any being of less than 20 HD within the inner one-third of the blast radius is instantly disintegrated.  A being within the outer blast radius or a being with 20 HD or greater within the blast radius that saves against Energy blast will suffer 12d8 damage, a failed save results in disintegration.  All inanimate matter, excepting super dense metals is disintegrated; super-dense matter and energy within the inner blast radius are also destroyed.

Fire bomb: This spherical bomb will melt 50% of all but the densest matter and ignite flammable materials within the blast radius.

Flash grenade:  This spherical grenade emits a burst of photons that damages or destroys the optical nerve endings of all unprotected beings in the blast radius. A failed save versus energy attacks results in permanent
Blindness, a successful save indicates that the victim is blinded for 1d4 hours.  Space armor and most space suit helmets protect against this effect.

Nerve gas grenade: This type of grenade emits a colorless and odorless nerve gas that attacks the central nervous system.  Each round a target remains in the blast radius; he or she must make a saving throw versus poison or die.  Space armor and space suit helmets offer complete protection from the gas.

Planet Buster bomb (sub-atomic): These terrible weapons derive their destructive energy from sub-atomic forces.  Treat as an atomic bomb with a much greater blast radius.

Pulse grenade These spherical grenades emit a powerful electromagnetic pulse that jams electrical equipment (including energy weapons, robots, androids and force fields) in the blast radius for 2d4 rounds.  Robots and androids are allowed a save vs. energy blast to avoid this effect.  Electronic devices of less than super-scientific level are permanently short-circuited.

Shock bomb:  This cylindrical bomb releases a pulse of electricity in the blast area; protection and cover is not afforded by metal obstacles.  In addition to the damage caused by the burst, victims are stunned for 2d8 rounds.  A successful save vs. Energy blast halves damage and avoids the secondary effect of the bomb.

Shock grenade: This spherical grenade is similar too, but less powerful than the shock bomb; the stun affect lasts only 1d6 rounds.

Smoke grenade: A smoke grenade emits an inert thick white smoke that obscures all vision within its blast radius.  The smoke is treated as darkness for effects on visibility and combat. The cloud persists  for 1d3+6 turns.

Tangle grenade:  These large cylindrical grenades burst on impact expelling a mass of gluey fibers Beings caught within the tangle become entrapped and can’t move, but can break loose depending on their strength. Any being with strength in a human range can break free of the webs in 2d4 turns. Beings of higher strength can break free in 4 rounds. The strands are highly flammable. All creatures within the burning tangle mass take 1d6 points of fire damage from the flames for 2 rounds. After this time surviving creatures are free of the strands.  

Thermostellar bomb (interfogulator): The weapon without answer. These devices are weaponized interfogulators that derive their destructive energy from inter-planar forces.  If exploded within a star a sufficiently large bomb may induce collapse or supernova. Treat as an atomic bomb with a much greater blast radius.  Objects “disintegrated” are 50% likely to be shifted into a bubble plane or another dimension.

Wavium bomb:  These spherical bombs are filled with depleted wavium pellets which explode when exposed to oxygen.  The outer casing of the device is fragmented by a small timed diambrite charge exposing the pellets to air and creating the explosion.  The explosion may be timed or remotely detonated.  Wavium bombs are not usable in space or other environments devoid of oxygen.  

Wavium grenade:  This spherical grenade is generally similar to a wavium bomb; however the explosive charge is timed.

Confidential Confessions

First Confession - I have little use for superheroes and have felt this way since I was a small child. I read lots of comics in the 70s but they were almost all horror, sci-fi or swords and sorcery comics. I do like the Shadow, Justice Inc., and Doc Savage and the Green Hornet, Batman, and Incredible Hulk TV shows (Hey-Bill Bixby was a fine actor) and almost any comic drawn by Jack Kirby but I really have little interest in do-gooders that wear their underwear on the outside of their leotards and certainly don't give a damn about their personal dramas.  

I also don't really enjoy superhero RPGs but if I had to play or run one, I’d probably opt for V & V. Riffing off ckutalik’s post on competitive play, I recall playing in a fun V & V one shot in the early 80s where half the players were heroes and half were villains and both teams were racing to the control room of an alien Death Star that had materialized in low earth orbit. I played a villain, Black Wight, an evil ghost that could materialize his fist inside one’s chest. Ouch.

Second Confession – I've played all the Metagaming Micoquests, Death Test, Death Test II, Orb Quest, etc, through several times. I even tried to find the Silver Dragon.

Third Confession – I played few games in the late 80s and early 90s. During this period I played in a series of punk rock and noise bands, bummed around the U.S. and Mexico and did extensive field research in pharmacology. I also wrote a very William S. Burroughs influenced sci-fi novel that has never been published and a Flash Gordon RPG, now sadly lost.

Fourth Confession – I didn't actually buy a copy of Encounter Critical in 1979 and I've never played an edition of D & D or AD & D more recent than First.

Last Confession – When I was a teenaer I had an Atari 2600 and spent a lot of quarters at the video arcade playing Berzerk, Joust, Space War, Tank, Tempest, Spy Hunter and Gauntlet. The first modern computer game that I played extensively was Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. I still love that game. I also enjoyed the Homeworld games. In recent years I played a lot of Morrowind and Neverwinter Nights. Although I hated the official Neverwinter Nights modules; I think some of the user created modules were fun. I’ve never played WOW but I suggested that my two young daughters might earn some money gold farming a few summers back.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Hurraku

Explorers of deep space beyond Deneb and Rigel have reported the existence of the mythical, distant star empire of the Hurraku. The soldiers of this warlike and coldly logical interstellar civilization are said to be nine foot tall black insectoid bipeds clad in gleaming silver space armor.  
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...