Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Syrian Lightning - An IHW:Dragons! Dragon for Outremer

Continuing on in the spirit of adapting creatures from other Flying Mice games to Outremer, here is a desert dragon, the Syrian Lightning. I created it from the rules in In Harm's Way: Dragons! for Outremer. This was in response to Bonni's reply to my last post, where she says she may be using some dragons she had created for the older game in her Outremer game - I just couldn't resist, because creating dragons randomly is fun!

Syrian Lightning

Hippo sized - medium for dragons. Capable of carrying several people.
Break 4 - not easy to turn.
Damage Track 20 - quite tough!
Night Vision Edge: Night 4 - big eyes, possibly with chatoyance.
Acceleration 10 - extremely quick!
Ceiling 12 - moderately high flying
Max Speed 15 - goes like a bat out of hell!
Maneuv 12 - moderately maneuverable.
INT 8 - very smart!
Covering - Medium Feathers Armor 2
Natural Weapon - Claws +35 Attack Skill+2
Eats herd animals - Aggression: Defensive - not very aggressive, but will fight
Habitat: Desert - this includes both true desert and semi-arid lands
Sight X3 - Human level eyesight
Smell X3 - and smell as good as human eyesight
Hearing X1 - human level hearing
Touch X2 - very sensitive.
Alert +3
Observe +3
Terra Cotta feathers on the back with a matte gradation to pale gray on the underbelly
Barbed and Maned



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Peris and Deevs

For those interested in integrating Outremer with On Her Majesty's Arcane Service, the Persian Peri may be of interest. Peris are essentially Fairies, with two related types - the Peri being beautiful and generally benevolent, and the Deev being mishapen and in the main malevolent - and often giant-sized. In OHMAS, fairies are all born much like humans babies, but take the shape of their inner selves as they age. Consquently, in Outremer Peris would do the same, with the Deev taking on grotesque and bizarre shapes, while the others become more refined and beautiful. Peri should have a Charisma of 16 when in humanoid form - which means 16 points *must* be allocated to CHAR for full Peri, and up to 16 MAY be allocated for Half-Peri - with the beautiful, ethereal Peri being intensely attractive, and the hulking, grotesque Deev being just as intensely repulsive. Deevs and Peris are constantly at war. Deevs frequently capture Peris and hang them from high trees in iron cages, to torture them with the nearness of freedom.

Peri of both types have all the powers of Fairies in OHMAS - Shape Change, Size Change, Glammer, and Illusion - but they are a bit different from European faries. Like Djinn, they are held to be creatures created from eternal fire and not from earth, like Humans. Like Djinn also, they can mate and have children with humans when in human form. Like Fairies, they are not immortal and dwell in pockets. Like Fairies, their sometimes extended lifetimes are most likely artifacts of different time scales in their pockets. In other words, they live for approximately the same span as humans, but since they may inhabit a place where a year is longer (or shorter) than a year on our Earth, they can appear to live for long times. Unlike Fairies, they do not practice kidnapping human children and replacing them with Peri children - i.e. creating Changelings.

A Half-Peri, the product of the union of a Peri and a Human, which is brought up in Human lands, should be treated as a Fairy Changeling, and not as a Human Changeling. OHMAS gives the particulars on this. A Half-Peri brought up as a Peri would be a Peri in all essentials. There is no reason why either a Half-Peri or a Peri cannot be a Player Character in Outremer.

Peri Magic:


Glammer makes things seem better than they actually are. People are better looking, charming, their voices sweeter and more melodious. When cast on people, on a successful check and the loss of one point of AGY, the recipient gains +1 CHAR per 2 successes, rounding up. When cast on items, on a successful check and the loss of one point of AGY, the item seems to double in value with each success. These effects are maintained so long as a MAG point
is invested.


Illusion, on a successful check and the loss of a point of COOR, allows the caster to create an area with a convincing illusion, up to 5 square feet per success. In order to see through the illusion, the person looking at the illusion must make an Observe check with at least as many successes
as the caster’s Illusion check. The illusion is maintained as long as the MAG point is invested.

Shape Change

Shape Change allows the caster, on a successful check and the loss of a point of END, to change one body part of the target per success. The body part ‐ such as the head, hands, legs, feet, etc ‐ can be changed into the equivalent body part of any animal. The change is maintained as long as the MAG point is invested.

Size Change

Size Change allows the caster, on a successful check and the loss of a point of STR, to change the size of the recipient by 25% per success. The change is maintained as long as the MAG point is invested. STR changes proportionately with size, rounding up.


Friday, July 22, 2011

My Strange, Bizarre Convictions On the Role of the Designer

I have long held that in RPGs there are three levels of design - the Designer level, the Group level, and the Individual level. All games incorporate all three levels into the design, but proportions of each vary enormously. Traditionally, the GM does almost all of the Group design, where the other members of the group concentrate on the Individual aspects of the design - their characters, backgrounds, and things their characters control; but this is not my decision. As a GM, I prefer to include the rest of my group in the Group level design process, but I leave that open, as how it is done is a Group level decision.

In recent times - I have been running games since 1977- I see more and more auteurism in game design - designers who dictate in various ways how the game is played, and what the game is about, in increasing detail. I am not an auteur. I feel my job as designer is to help you play the game you want to play.

In my designs I do my best to push as much as possible down to the Group level by various means, such as providing tools to make it easy to generate setting within a framework rather than dictating setting. I make the system as flexible as possible to accommodate what the group is interested in doing rather than what I, as designer thought of when designing. In different games I approach things in different ways - in some games the method of resolution can be swapped out as required, in others I only frame things, leaving interpretations open. Always I define from center - for example skills generally have a definition which amounts to "stuff like this", spells may be only an evocative name, leaving the actual effects open to discussion, and lately have focused on the group defining what the game is about by designing their own company or association, then designing their characters to fit the association, and defining by their association what the campaign/adventure will be about.

When I develop settings, I try to keep the detail level as low as possible - working in broad strokes for the group to refine and detail themselves. I try not to prejudice group decisions by giving examples which are as broad and fundamentally different as possible. By this I encourage groups to think of these examples as arbitrary directions in a sea of possibilities - for instance in StarCluster 3, my example companies included among others medical groups, insurance adjusters, police and law enforcement, and religious groups.

What I set out to provide is ideas and settings and cultures that fire up one's imagination on what one can do with them. That is the living, breathing center of a designer's job, and always has been. This is why pure toolkits have never done well - most people do better within a framework than without.

The problem comes when the framework becomes a cage, when the only way to fit your ideas in is to rip something else out.

There are many ways in which designers do this - lock the group level imagination in a cage, I mean. One common way is to provide too much detail in a setting, then interrelate everything. Another is to tightly intermesh carefully balanced components of a system mechanically, so that one daren't tinker lest the whole edifice tears itself apart. Yet another is to circumscribe the setting and system 'til the game becomes a single scenario with a sparse attached system and many times pre-genned characters, just competent to deal with what is in the scenario - though this is better than the previous two as it's easier to add than to tear apart, then add! Still another is to lock down the variation possible between characters, making strict types, each with a specific function.

The net effect of all of these is to increase the Designer's share of the input into the game at the expense of Group and - less commonly - Individual input. There are big benefits to these methods, which is, of course, why Designers go this route and GMs stand for it. One can pick these games and play them as is without a lot of setup. One doesn't need to think too much, as choices are controlled and managed. They are great for one-shots. They are uniform across instantiations. They limit bad games by limiting possibly bad Group level choices. These are all solid, tangible benefits. The "caged-in" effect not a goal, but an unanticipated and perhaps unwanted side effect for designers working toward the benefits listed.

Umm, I guess there's more, but I could write pages and pages about this subject, and I'm salmoning - constantly swimming upstream. I find most GMs/groups - the vast majority actually - don't mind the Designer doing all the designing, they are just there for the ride. This makes me sad when I think about it, and I lose energy.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Drilling Down for Sub-Cultural Traits

Cultural Traits in Outremer are set at the national level, but that doesn’t mean there are no cultural groups at a sub-national level. All it means is that taking all people of that state into consideration, those average Traits stand out.
Below the state level are various sub-cultural groups, which can be approached the same way as the national level group. For example the semi-independent Principalities like Galilee are are given Traits separately from the main state’s Traits, but sub-cultures can be much smaller than Principalities. Bedouin tribes, city and townspeople, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, or inhabitants of remote areas are all examples of sub-cultures. Any time a group of people see themselves as different from the mainstream, there’s a sub-culture. In most cases, the so-called mainstream is an artifact made up of dozens of slightly different sub-cultures.
Drilling Down
The process of defining sub-cultures I call ‘drilling Down”. The smaller the sub-culture, the further you drill down, the larger the variation can be from the state culture.
Top-Level Sub-Cultures
Top level sub-cultures are huge cities or large ethnic majorities. These should only vary from the main culture by one or two Trait Points. For example, the Traits of the Emirate of Damascus are Inventive 2, Accepting 2, Cultured 2, Proud 1. The great City of Damascus - which all of Galilee would be swallowed up in - should vary little from this baseline - perhaps something like Inventive 2, Accepting 1, Cultured 3, Proud 1.
Mid-level Sub-Cultures
Mid level sub-cultures are smaller groups of people - a normal city, a prosperous valley, a quarter of a huge city, or a large minority of some type. These have more leeway in how much they can diverge from the main culture, so up to three or four points of difference is fine. For example the Traits of the Duchy of Acre are Brisk 2, Arrogant 2, Tolerant 2, Creative 1, but the Traits of the Lordship of Scandalion might be Brave 2, Arrogant 2, Tolerant 2, Taciturn 1.
Low Level Sub-Cultures
Low level sub-cultures as small groups of people. Examples would be a town or large village, a small ethnic or religious minority, or a large tribe. These groups may have little in common with the overarching state culture, so up to five or six points may differ. For example, the Traits of the nation of Rhodes are Methodical 2, Cultured 3, Arrogant 1, and Patient 1, but the inhabitants of the town of Stampalia might be Suspicious 2, Provincial 2, Generous 1, Polite 1, and Patient 1.
Micro Sub-Cultures
Micro sub-cultures, like small villages or tribes, may be totally unlike the state culture. Any similarities would be coincidence.


Cities, Towns, and Villages in Outremer

In the game of Outremer, I separated Cities and Towns, and did not distinguish Villages. Villages in the Holy Land are extremely important, and extremely ancient. From Aqaba to Edessa, Villages are named with either their ancient Aramaic names, or with some version of them easy to pronounce in the locally important language. These places have been around forever, and may be quite large. Villages are usually the places farmers or fishermen live, and they work the areas nearby. Unlike in the USA, famers do not live in single family houses on the land they farm. In the desert areas, villages are not so much for farming as for trade. Villages grow up around caravanserais or fortifications, most of which are ancient and rebuilt again and again in the same spot, where there is a supply of water. For all the population in the great cities, the bulk of the people live in villages.

Towns and Cities in Outremer are both urbanized, that is they are inhabited by a variety of specialists, and not by a group of farmers or fishermen. They tend to be walled, though many have outgrown their walls since the times of constant danger. Many have several fortifications around them, castles and forts designed to protect them, and large and ornate places of worship. Both Towns and Cities in Outremer have usually existed for millennia in the same spot, though not always under the same name. Conquerors tend to rename Cities, and sometimes Towns, and forget about the villages.

The difference between Towns and Cities is therefore the population, and by extension the variety of services which are supported. Where a Town might support a thriving souk, or market, a City might support a dozen souks. Where a Town might have an imposing cathedral or beautiful mosque, a City might have dozens of each, with many of differing creeds, with synagogues and other places of worship thrown in for good measure. Cities thrive on trade, and on pilgrimage. The economic importance of pilgrimage to the Outremer cannot be overstated!

The roads shown on the maps in the game are all important primary or secondary trade routes. These routes have caravanserai roughly a day apart, or villages with accommodations, or both. The roads may be paved, or they may be dirt, but they are unmistakable as anything but roads. At borders along these routes there are customs shacks for taking fees, and barracks for troops. They are also regularly patrolled to drive away robbers and bandits.

There are also a huge number of tiny tertiary roads. These may be smugglers' routes, or herding paths, or just country lanes. There are no caravanserai, villages are insular and not equipped to take travellers, and no one patrols them or taxes their use. Use the roads appropriate to your purpose. Many of these roads were once more important than they are now, and lead to ruined places and cities, and which are now the haunt of bandits - and much worse. Use the road appropriate for your purpose.

Caravanserais are different in form and function in Cities and Towns from those in Villages. Damascus, for example, has many huge, gorgeous caravanserais, some of them architectural marvels, with shops and souks inside like modern shopping malls. Rural caravanserais are noted more for their utility and protection than their comfort and beauty, but they all are are stoutly built, and provide food and water.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Look! Up In The Sky! Alpha Test

We played LUITS! Saturday and Sunday, and several things became almost immediately apparent. First, Klax had attempted to keep as much of the StarCluster/StarPool System feel as possible, but the damage track stages from standard StarPool - fine, down 2 dice, down 2 dice and stunned, critically injured and bleeding out, and dead - felt totally wrong. In place he put a new interpretation on the stages - fine, down 1 die, down 2 dice, down 3 dice, and unconcious - which was palpably better suited for supers.

Another thing was the increasing number of attacks with increasing Mastery. This doesn't seem to be a problem with non-combat skill use, just combat. Using a skill path character, a PC was able to take out two super powered Tanks in one round. Klax ruled that - where it used to be one attack until Master (Skill rank 0-4), two attacks with Mastery (Skill rank 5-9), three attacks with Double Mastery (Skill rank 10-14), etc. - a second attack was added with Mastery, but increasing levels of Mastery just gave you rerolls if you didn't like the results. That seemse to work very well, and taking combat ranks beyond Mastery became less and less appealing. It also makes speedsters more interesting as the only way to get more than 2 attacks per round. I really like this, and may introduce it back into the mainstream of SC System development. Part of the problem came from Klax's paring down the number of skills into only the essentials. SC was designed with a large number of overlapping skills. With so few skills, characters taking the Skill Path can easily get seriously overloaded.

Otherwise, we had a blast. The City was cool, the Association rocked, and the game was fun. We ran into the Amazing Four, a US government subsidized group with it's own space station lair. The AF consisted of Mister Amazing - the Skill guy and Leader, Bear - a truly brutal brawler, The Anvil - the prototype Tank, and Master Blaster - a Blaster type. The first encounter, we caught them by surprise and cleaned their clocks. We captured Bear when Shade Mimiced him and they took off with her. She later stole the Amazicar and brought it back from the station.

After that, though, the superior resources of the AF bore down on us. We lost our HQ after they traced the Amazicar there, then they tricked us - while we were assaulting them at our old HQ with robots of ourselves, they used robots of themselves to take the assault, meanwhile they cracked our back up HQ in the sewers. Decimo had to use his two Prepared boxes - "Don't worry, I've prepared for this happening" - to get us out safe.

Status as of now, we are camping out in one of the groups' Winnebago. No HQ, No access to our cool stuff. But the robots we sent in are truly amazing, and the AF are convinced they have caught four of us, and we can get telemetry from them. We also have Bear, sedated in a Healing Tank, hidden under our old HQ, which is now occupied by the AF. So things are not totally down. The Empire has taken Hoth, but we made a fighting retreat, and are still intact! :D


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Danny "Duke" Ducassi - AKA Decimo

Danny "Duke" Ducassi is the oldest son of a bastard son of the eighth head of the Ducassi family. The ninth head was his legitimate son, Danny's uncle. Danny's father, a captain in the Family, died saving the life of his half-brother, who didn't know about it as he was lied to. Danny's family has a ring which gives members of his family certain powers. When Danny's uncle died, the ring was passed to his son, Danny's cousin, but the ring rejected him. Danny's family, now headed by his mother, who hates the family, had drifted away into genteel poverty since the father's death, but the Family located him and the ring accepted him as leader. This occasioned the split in the family, which was very recent. Danny's cousin, Donny, heads the half of the Family who now protect Westwood. They are not - as yet - enemies, but rather rivals. The Ducassis are an old - and old-fashioned - Mafia Family. Danny's mother is his "Aunt May", who hates the Family and everything to do with it, and can never learn of Danny's involvement.

The ring is the Ring of the Fires of Life, one of several similar magical rings, though the Ducassis only know of theirs. It is massive, covering the entire first joint of the ring finger, with a huge cabochon ruby crossed by two gold bands in the shape of an "X". At the ends of each of the bands, and in the center, is a shimmering moonstone. It has been handed down in the Ducassi family for over 250 years, since before they arrived in the USA from Italy. No one knows much about it before it arrived in America with Quinto, Dino Ducassi, in the 1880s. The ring is keyed to the head of the Ducassi family, and gives the wearer sharpened intellect, toughens the body, and gives the wearer control over the fires of his own life - the wearer can shoot these fires out of his hands as a weapon, and they can be ridden like a surfboard through the air.

His nickname "Duke" is only used within the family, to help disguise his identity as Danny. As a super, his name is Decimo, for the tenth head of the family. His costume is a typical supers stretch suit, black, with a red D in a white circle on his chest. Over the top, he wears a flowing black trenchcoat. Over his face and head he wears a black tie-on mask, with white lenses, and a black fedora on his head over the mask.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Ducassi Organization - (Johnston Association)

Here is the Association we came up with for our Johnston campaign:

NAME: The Ducassi Organization

HQ LOCATION: The Old Ducassi Theater, Downtown.
ASSOCIATION TYPE: Straight Gang, supported by the population.

Guards and Security: Elite Grunts – 30, Elite Guards – 20, Standard Grunts – 60, Standard Security System
Transportation: Standard Cars – 3, Designed Vehicles (A-grav truck/tank) - 3
Medical: Poor Med Bay, Standard Doctor, Standard Med Tubes - 2
Data Library: Standard Science, Standard Criminal
Information Gathering: Internet, Standard Informant, Standard Hacker
Training: Danger Room
Logistics and Maintenance: 256

This association is a mob-like gang, that has taken it upon itself to serve and protect the citizens of the city in lieu of the government, who views the populace as nothing more than a set of people to tax, and otherwise don’t care what happens. This change, from standard criminal gang to protectors of the people, has come about through long term protection money and a certain Noblesse Oblige of the old-style Mafia family that runs it, the Ducassis. Recently, there was a dispute over the next head of the gang, leading to a split of east and west. PC’s are working with the recognized head of the family. The Informant will be named later, in play, as a surprise to the GM.

Klax's character is Danny "Duke" Dukessi. Danny is the oldest son of a bastard son of the eighth head of the family. The ninth head was his legitimate son, Danny's uncle. Danny's father, a captain in the Family, died saving the life of his half-brother, who didn't know about it as he was lied to. Danny's family has a ring which gives members of his family certain powers. When Danny's uncle died, the ring was passed to his son, Danny's cousin, but the ring rejected him. Danny's family, now headed by his mother, who hates the family, had drifted away into genteel poverty since the father's death, but the Family located him and the ring accepted him as leader. This occasioned the split in the family, which was very recent. Danny's cousin, Donny, heads the half of the Family who now protect Westwood. They are not - as yet - enemies, but rather rivals. The Ducessis are an old - and old-fashioned - Mafia Family. Danny's mother is his "Aunt May", who hates the Family and everything to do with it, and can never learn of Danny's involvement.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beryl Buran - AKA Shade

The last blog post - about Johnston, our LUITS! Super City - will be the first in a short series about the game. We finished our Association/Sentai - still unnamed - and all of us there made characters. We anticipate at least one, maybe three more characters to come. As the Sentai is still unnamed, and we haven't come up with a logo yet, I'll post it later in the series. For now, I'm posting about one of the characters.

Beryl Buran came to Johnston as a child with her father and mother, escaping the newly dissolved USSR. Her father is a mechanic, and her mother works as a receptionist for a dentist. As she grew up, Beryl fell in with a bad crowd, despite her Middle Class upbringing, becoming a member of a teenage gang on the streets of Johnston. She came to the notice of Dr. Destiny, a warped medical genius who ran one of Johnston's many gangs. She became his "Special Project" - an attempt to create the perfect thief.

Beryl disappeared from her home and the streets. Over a year's time, Dr. Destiny operated on her repeatedly, always without general anesthetic so she would remember who she owed her future to, gradually replacing almost every bit of her body. Her bones and muscles were replaced with elastomer based replacements and extre, cloned, nerve endings, allowing her full muscular control, and allowing her to both stretch any part of her body to four times it's normal length, and to mimic perfectly any person she touched - she can extract DNA from the touch, and temporarily mimic even metahuman powers, though it costs her physically to maintain it. Her body was toughened in the process, giving her twice the constitution she would normally have. A regimen of drugs and operations enlarged certain parts of her brain, giving her the ability to teleport anywhere, and the ability to form a sonic tendril of air and use it as an invisible whip to rifle range.

Beryl was not appreciative of the efforts Dr. Destiny exerted on her behalf, particularly since Dr. Destiny neglected to gain her consent - a trifling matter to one so powerful of intellect, to be sure, but one which made much difference to Beryl. At the first opportunity - when she was healed enough from the drugs and operations - she escaped from his clutches and vowed to fight criminals and crime with all her being. She was found wandering the streets of Johnston in a hospital gown and paper slippers by Decimo, who invited her to join his special team of metahumans. After determining the aims and resources available, she accepted.

Beryl took the nom de guerre of Shade for her fight against crime. Her costume is a form-fitting gray, without emblem or device, and a domino mask with wide cheek wings to hide her face. Her hair is a wild tangle of dark red, her eyes are blue - though the lenses in her mask hide this - and she is freckled, which the cheek winged mask hides. She lives in an apartment in Johnston, and works for Decimo's overt operation as Beryl Buran, an Effector.

A quick sketch of Shade


Johnston - A Supers City

We created the city for our Look! Up In The Sky! game, entirely through random rolls, with the exception of assigned Traits to bring it all together.

Johnston is a city somewhere on the east coast of the USA - about the size of Akron OH or Providence RI - with a big modern airport (Air route 1), a sea port a ways up an estuary (Sea route 2), at the end of a crumbling, traffic snarled, four lane highway (Land route 3). It's a large city, and a moderate world power. Johnston's City-wide Traits - it's civic stereotype - is Blue Collar 3, Stubborn 1, Gray 1, and Struggling 2. Johnston's City Government Traits are Rapacious 2, Disinterested 2, Despised 2, and Shabby 1

Johnston has 7 Districts:

Westwood is a tract of slums to the northwest of Downtown. It is Important to the city, and has 10s of thousands of people in it, in 2 diverse cultures, of whom 5% are metahuman. Surprisingly, it has only a moderate crime rate. Its traits are strugglng 2, Blue Collar 2, Stubborn 1, and Self-Reliant 2. It's conditions are Gloomy, Run-down, and Smoggy.

East Johnston is the waterfront and port, also a slum, and also housing 10s of thousands - this time in 3 separate cultures, with a 5% metahuman rate. It is of Average importance to the city, and also has a surprisingly moderate crime rate. It is the easternmost district. Both East Johnston and Westwood are protected and patrolled by resident funded gangs, as the cops are crooked and never set foot in the slums. East Johnston's Traits are Struggling 2, Roguish 2, Stubborn 1, and Self-reliant 2, and its Conditions are Seedy, Maritime, and Odorous.

The Pit is a district around the decrepit Johnston Civic Arena, where the semi-pro Johnston Jaguars footbal team and the AA Johnston Wildcats minor league teams play. It is south of the Downtown, and ringed with seedy sports bars and sleazy strip joints. Its Conditions are Crumbling, Sports-mad, and Outdated.

Pleasantville is a recently finished urban renewal area, funded with federal pork-barrel money. It is north and west of East Johnston, and contains the equally new airport. It is an urban residential district, with lots of high-rise apartment houses, which are mostly empty because very few people in Johnston can afford to live here. There are only some thousands of residents, but they are split into 5 different cultures as they have not yet had time to settle and gel. Crime is Plentiful, and 10% of the people are metahumans. It is of inconsequential value to the city, as very few people live here. Its Traits are Blue collar 3, Struggling 1, Gray 2, and Practical 1, and the Conditions are Clean, Empty, and Well Ordered.

West Johnston is a large, sprawling suburban district housing tens of thousands of residents in 3 cultures, 10% of whom are metahuman. Crime is Plentiful, as they rely on the crooked police, and it is of average importance to the city. It is located to the west of the downtown, south of Westwood, and the main land route out goes through it. Its Traits are blue Collar 3, Struggling 1, Chip on Shoulder 2. and Stubborn 1, while its Conditions are Spacious, Twisty, Green, and Clean.

Downtown is actually two districts, The Financial District, and the Government Center.

The Financial District is dominated by some fair-sized old Art Deco skyscrapers, most of which are half-empty, and all of which are crumbling. It is inconsequential to the city, as the financial institutions have been failing for some time. Its Conditions are Looming, Compact, and Run Down.

The Government Center is older, over a century old in most parts, filled with pillared government buildings and old low-rise office buildings. Johnston's Government Center is Very Important to the city, and its Conditions are Ornate, Old-Fashioned, and Outdated.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Another Busy Week!

Tonight we are meeting to prep a session of Look! Up In The Sky! while Klax is up here. He's added a lot of material since the last time, and made a lot of small changes in the stuff already written, so we've got to create a new Association - AKA Setai - a new City, and new heroes. One of the cool new things is a weapon definition system, where we can mod weapons for our heroes.

Our last session was very cool and a lot of fun, and we all loved our heroes, but the purpose here is an accelerated play test, and we need to push it, thus new everything. Our last Sentai had almost no resources, and we were all pretty poor, so we need to test out a better funded Association.

We'll play the game Sunday afternoon. Sunday Morning is my In Harm's Way: Napoleonic Naval IRC game, and Saturday is our Outremer game, plus Daring Derelict Delvers over IRC Thursday night with Tim, so I will be very busy this week!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

And Now For Something We Hope You'll REALLLY Like!

With Outremer out, I can concentrate on the game projects that have been neglected while I worked on it. Here are the projects that are some way along in development:

In The Beginning

This is a game set up as a prequel to StarCluster 3. The setting is the Solar System, as it is before the discovery of the calamity that was to come. Of course, it is fully playable without said discovery - if you want to bang around in the system and forget aout the Cluster, that's totally cool too. Earth has colonized many places in the system, from moons to planets to asteroids to habitats. We have also sent out colony ships to Alpha Centauri and other stars, and the Centauri colony is flourishing, though this game will not talk much about them. They are there in the background, though.

Fusion torch ships will be the primary mode of transport between worlds for people and perishables, but slow freight will take slower - and cheaper - modes of transport, from light sails to ion jets, almost exclusively robotically guided. There is no FTL, nor any anti-gravity, as yet in the game. I was originally going to do this as a free setting for SC 3, but there is so much work involved - from setting development to tech to new professions - that I have decided to make this a complete new game.

In Harm's Way: Pigboats

This game will be about World War II submarines, American, British, German, and Japanese. I may throw in others as well. The Soviet Union, the Netherlands, and Italy all had respectable submarine fleets as well. I will be (severely) adapting a new version of the air combat system from previous IHW games to use with submarines. This is another of my "special" projects, near and dear to my heart, like IHW: Napoleonic Naval and Tools of Ignorance, where I don't care if there is a market or not. I know Rich Rogers is writing a new baseball RPG, just as Neil Gow wrote his Napoleonic Naval game, so maybe markets can be developed ab initio.

"Lowell Was Right!"

This game is still under a working title I will not be using for the final product, which is why it's in quotation marks - it refers to astronomer Percival Lowell's sightings of canals on Mars. The premise here is that science as of the Fin de Siecle - c. 1900 - was basically correct in all important ways, and projecting those theories forward to approximately now. This means that clown Einstien was totally wrong, and the Michelson-Morley experiment proved the existence of the Luminiferous Ether. This will NOT be some Steampunk game - no Science!, just science as it was understood back then, projected forward.

Science theory in 1900 was very, very different to what is accepted today. There was no DNA, not solar fusion, no relativity. Unfortunately researching this period is proving very difficult. Science prefers to ignore its dead ends or to ridicule them. I want to explore them and extend them. This will be a hard SF treatment of discarded theory, as if it were true. Expect this to crawl along at a snails pace as I painfully accumulate enough knowledge to do this concept justice.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How to Make a Flying Carpet

by Hakim ibn Ali, Master Mechanist, Damascus


The 1001 Nights and other works often mention carpets which fly, yet no descriptions are given on how to create them. This paper is an attempt to supply that needed description.

The Armature

A carpet is a floppy thing, without an internal skeleton. As a Mechanist, when I create a device for attaching a Djinn animal, I look for attachment points where the muscles of the Djinn animal can be connected to perform work. The first step of creating a Magic Carpet is to provide this skeleton, which I call the Armature. The Armature can be any of several designs, but I have found a linked rod armature easiest to construct, with the best combination of rigidity and flexibility.

The Backbone

The backbone is a series of Acrean foot-to-cubit-long rods - wood or metal - with clevis ends, one end having a single tongue with a clevis pin hole through, the other with a double tongue and clevis pin hole. The clevis pin is part of the ribs.

The Ribs

The ribs are also rods. Half the ribs that attach to the backbone have one end with a bearing surface (as a clevis pin) and tapped hole, and a double tongue clevis half on the other end. The other half of the ribs have a threaded portion to match the tapped hole on one end, and a single
clevis tongue on the other end.

Place the single tongue of one rod between the double tongues of another rod. Line up the holes and put the clevis pin of a rib through, then screw the other side of the rib into the tapped hole, sealing the clevis pin into the clevis joint. The linked rods will now be able to pivot on the clevis pin ribs. Link enough rods together to stretch the length of the carpet.

Attach other clevis rods to the ribs to spread the width of the carpet. You will now have a flexible, articulated skeleton for attaching to the carpet and to the djinn animal.

Attaching the Carpet to
the Armature

Lay the carpet over the armature so that all of the Armature is covered. Using strong thread, sew the carpet to the Armature. If you wish, you can turn the carpet over and attach a second carpet to the back in the same fashion.

Enchanting the Carpet

You will need to summon the properly sized Djinn animal for the carpet. The animal must be a flying sort, and at least Rank 3 for a small, one or two person carpet. For anything larger a Rank 4 animal needs to be summoned. Anchoring should proceed as usual.

Option: Seats

If your riders are uncomfortable riding the backbone of the Armature, you can attach disk shaped seats to the ribs on short brackets over the backbone, covering them with the carpet as usual.

from the Outremer Companion, Volume I