Monday, April 30, 2012

Problems in Chargen

I looked over the characters last night and Kamar looks decidedly weaker than the others. I looked the character sheet over with my son Klaxon, to find out whether this was due to deliberate choice on the part of the player or to problems in understanding the process, and we discovered the player had made some mistakes in generation.

To explain, character generation is done by selecting a background template, an apprentice template, and by purchasing a number of professional templates with varying costs and varying pre-requisites, then adding up the changes from each template.

It appears that Kamar's player had purchased an advanced and expensive template he was not qualified for, and in doing so, had used up far too much of his allotment of build points. I will be going over the templates in question to see if the problems were due to poor wording in the instructions, or to an honest mistake or misreading. Generally, I assume poor wording unless convinced otherwise.

I'll be contacting the player to let him know what we found, and letting him make any necessary changes.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Volant is in Alpha Playtest!

Saturday, we began the playtest of Volant - Kingdoms of Air and Stone.We had a "Session Zero", where we created our home Region, the PC's Association, and the characters.

The Home Region - Daktari

Yes, Daktari - Swahili for Doctor. Why? I don't know, the players liked it. Daktari was randomly rolled to be a single region nation, large, and fertile. It has animal resources of Horses and Llamas, vegetable resources of Nuts, Grain, and Spices, and mineral resources of Quartzite, a kind of shipstone. Daktari has a Large city, Gupta, witch is famous for a spiced liquor called Betaljuce. A medium city called Deepta also graces the region, which is famous for llama wool rugs. A small city, called Mohatma, is renowned for its famous Curry Dark beer.

Conditions are Spicy, Hot, Humid, and Rolling.

Cultural Traits are Diplomatic 3, Boisterous 2, and Volatile 2.

Castes are a bit rigid,with a mixed base, and hard to understand.

The government's form is a Chieftainship, but its substance is Democratic.

It has some interesting oddities - children typically work, homosexuality and bisexuality are both common and unremarked, drinking alcohol is an important leisure activity, body modification - typically piercing and tattooing - is fashionable, and children with deformities are ruthlessly culled at birth.

The Association is a league of assassins, called the Hands of Kali. It is headquartered in an abandoned temple outside of Gupta. The highlights  - a great deal was spent on Espionage, agents, spy rings, double agents, safe houses, and local sympathizers; they sprang for a flight of six giant owls and a flight of six giant ravens; a squadron of six light warships; two other ships and some horses; a master alchemist and master armorer; superb armory; and a library with historical treatises and alchemical recipes.

The four characters created - more may come as other gamers drop in - are:

Arjuna Randheer - a very rich aristocrat who is a bow sniper - a master athlete and bowman who is expert at riding both horses and birds, sneaking, and hunting.

Kamar Buddhan - son of a skilled laborer who is a thug - an expert at sneaking, and good at fighting.

Sanjay Mataharan - a street rat who is a shadow - master of sneaking and hiding, and good at athletics, slight of hand, and punching people.

Nadila Rajmurti - wealthy merchant's daughter and avian knight - master of riding and the bow, and expert with the sword and athletics.

Next week, on to play! :D

Monday, April 23, 2012

The End of the LUITS! Playtest!

Our LUITS! playtest ended. The last scene was awesome. Sarge, Blue Demon, Enchantrix, Hazard, and Bamf tracked down a nuke inside the diesel tank of a generator at the Harvard Club. The detonator was a radio device on a timer. It could send 3 different signals - signal 1 was a constant chirp every second. If that signal stopped, and it was set to stop at midnight, the bomb would blow; signal 2 was emitted if someone tampered with the detonator's case, causing the bomb to blow; and signal 3 was emitted on command, causing the bomb to blow.

It was rigged to go at midnight, the time when the Bilderburg's meeting commenced in the Harvard Club. They had an hour to go, so they lifted it out to Outer Brewster Island in Boston Harbor, and Sarge had to defuse it. He told everyone else to go away, but they wouldn't leave him. This wasn't a matter of cutting wires - the trigger mechanism was fiendish. Sarge finally used his Preparation power - think Batman's "I figured you might do that, and came prepared" - and pulled out a device which could emit the same frequency blip as the exploder, and synced it up. Midnight came, and passed. Now they had time bring in some experts to really defuse it!

End came when Sarge used his preparation power one last time, and pulled a six pack from a cooler hidden under a rock. "I figured I might have to come here in an emergency, so I prepared for it." They sat on the rocky beach and listened to the surf crash and hiss in the early early morning. End!


ADDED: What was really cool for me was two things - One, we didn't go over the edge into Action Comedy, no matter how tempting it was for us. A lot of funny shit went down, but it remained a drama with some very amusing comedy - like Castle, or Northern Exposure. Two - these supers were *cops*! Not vigilantes, not a black ops team, not military or para-military or Mercs. Cops. When they forgot to read one guy his Miranda rights, they had to let him go. When a prisoner wanted a lawyer, they got one. When they couldn't find a charge that would stick after 24 hours, the guy was let go. There was no torturing, no beatings, no mindfucking. It *STILL WORKED GREAT AS A SUPERS GAME*!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Volant - Alchemy

Volant - Kingdoms of Air and Stone

Volant has only one type of magic. As humanity's magic has been burned out, the only thing left is the magic inherent in nature. Exploiting this is the art known as Alchemy.


Alchemy is the creation of potions through the use of naturally magical ingredients. Alchemy goes through a series of steps, each step lasting an entire day and requiring a skill check with at least one success per step number to produce the final product - i.e. a success at step two requires two successes on the skill check. The potion can be used at the completion of any step, but the effect varies with the step.

Step 1 - Distillation

This step purifies and intensifies the magic in the ingredient. The potion used at this stage must be drunk within a day or it loses potency. This potion is known as a "distilled potion".

Step 2 - Stabilization

This step stabilizes the magical effect and makes it last longer before it needs to be used. The potion at this stage must be used within one month or it loses potency. This potion is known as a "Stable Potion"

Step 3 - Combination

This step allows the safe combination of two distilled, stabilized - i.e. Step 2 - potions to create a third, which combines the effects of both. The potion at this stage must be used within one month or it loses potency. The effect of the potion is some kind of combination of the two ingredients, but the exact effect is up to the Alchemist, and requiring GM approval. "This potion is known as a "combined potion".

Step 4 - Enhancement

This step boosts the efficacy of the potion, doubling its effect. The potion at this stage must be used within one month or it loses potency. This potion is known as an "enhanced potion"

Step 5 - Sealing

This step completely negates the effect of time on the potion, so long as the container is not opened. If the container is ever opened, the potion at this stage must be used within one month or it loses potency. This potion is known as a "sealed potion".


Monday, April 16, 2012

An intro to Volant - Kingdoms of Air and Stone

Several people have asked me what Volant is all about, so here's a quick precis:

Volant - Kingdoms of Air and Stone is set in a world where two sets of wizards - the Living Wizards and the Stone Wizards - had waged a deadly war of mutual extermination long ago. In the penultimate strike, the Living Wizards had created horrific animal and plant monsters to destroy the civilization of the Stone Wizards. In return, the Stone Wizards had released their last spell, changing the fabric of all metamorphic rock so that it floated. These last spells burned out all the magical potential in humanity, so from that time forward, humans could only use the magic imbued in plants and animals, as well as the lifting powers of the stone.

Mountain ranges tore out of the ground like teeth being pulled. They soared up into the sky, with their attendant valleys, rivers, lakes, and deserts along for the ride. People were able to build and maintain their civilization on these skylands, while the civilizations on the surface below crumbled. They built ships with floatstone and keels of the straight grained keelstone and flew from skyland to skyland, though they could not go down to the earth below. They tamed and domesticated the giant birds created by the Living Wizards and rode them as well, even to the ground to gather scarce materials, plants and artifacts.

They terraced their hills and mountainsides to better farm their scarce soils. They learned that they could capture other skylands, lash them together, and they would slowly grow into each other over the years. The lands floated on the winds over the earth, and they learned to roughly control their skylands to mostly, awkwardly attempt to keep them out of the dangerous gyres and currents. They chained floated forts to mountains they thought would soon tear free of the earth to claim them, and fight off challengers.

Humans left below abandoned their civilizations and lived in the wild, wary of the great monsters who ruled their lands. Some served as guides to the Bird People when they came down from their skylands, while others hid and would have nothing to do with them. They Bird People may have nice things to trade, but they would soon leave, while the monsters would always be there.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Volant: The Regions of Straum

The Electorate of Straum is a six-region nation with a powerful military. It's national government is in form an Oligarchy, but in substance a Stratocracy. All six regions of Straum were produced randomly.

Ar Jinnyah is a large, arid region. It produces camels, cattle, poultry, quartz, chalk and bamboo. There are three cities in the region: Kumah, a large city which produces furniture from bamboo, leather, and feathers; Terah, a medium city which produces telescopes from bamboo and quartz, and Alvarah, a small city which produces leather goods.

The government of Ar Jinnyah has the form of an Autocracy, and the substance of a Matriarchy. The cultural stereotype is Off Kilter 3, Scientific 2, and Sarcastic 2. The Castes are very rigid, based on ethnicity, and layered. It's Conditions are Arid, Windy, Rough Hewn, and Wild. It's cultural oddities are: (economic) patron-client relations, (interpersonal) orgies, (leisure) retreats, (fashion) Natural Look, and (taboos) eating utensils.

Hamaura is a medium, fertile region. It produces sugar beets, pine, bamboo, horses, cattle, and quartzite. There are two cities in the region: Hamadraut, a large city which produces leather riding saddles from leather, pine, and silver; and Tauvas, a small city which produces paper.

The government of Hamaura has the form of an Oligarchy, and the substance of a Theocracy. The cultural stereotype is Gregarious 3, Laid Back 2, and Carefree 2. The Castes are somewhat fluid, mixed-base, and moderately complex. It's Conditions are Hilly, Well-Watered, Wooded, and Rolling. It's cultural oddities are: (economic) religious communism, (interpersonal) long courtships, (leisure) dancing, (fashion) elaborate shoes, and (taboos) bastardy.

Disomia is a large, mountainous region. It produces fruits, spices, poultry, basalt, quartz, and silver. There are three cities in the region: Samsarum, a large city which produces jewelry from basalt, quartz and silver; Hyorn, a medium city which produces candied fruit, and Kefel, a small city which produces spice extracts.

The government of Disoma has the form of a democracy, and the substance of a stratocracy. The cultural stereotype is Methodical 3, Stubborn 2, and Patient 2. The Castes are somewhat fluid, religion based, and extraordinarily complex. It's Conditions are Mountainous, Huge, Rocky, Wild, and Ridged. It's cultural oddities are: (economic) scientific research, (interpersonal) odd gender roles, (leisure) foot racing, (fashion) embroidery, and (taboos) eating utensils.

Amaris is a large, fertile region. It produces horses, birds, potatoes, flax, hardwoods, and marble. There are five cities in the region: Arnu, a small city which produces linen; Velos, a medium city which produces fancy clothing from feathers and linen; Marsil, a small city which produces hardwood lumber; Trino, a small city which produces instant mashed potatoes; and Palos, a small city which produces war horses.

The government of Amaris has the form of a chiefdom, and the substance of a stratocracy. The cultural stereotype is Hedonistic 3, Iconoclastic 2, Friendly 1, and Laid Back 1. The Castes are somewhat bendable, religion based, and complex. It's Conditions are Fresh, Rolling, and Beautiful. It's cultural oddities are: (economic) contract, (interpersonal) polyandry, (leisure) wilderness, (fashion) ornateness, and (taboos) pets.

Straum is the capitol and a large, mountainous region. It produces horses, fruits, bamboo, migmatite, iron, and coal. There are three cities in the region: Wellen, a large city which produces armor from coal, iron, and brass; Saren, a medium city which produces weapons from steel and bamboo; and Tromen, a small city which produces steel.

The government of Straum has the form of a technocracy, and the substance of a theocracy. The cultural stereotype is Aggressive 2, Arrogant 2, and Honorable 3. The Castes are somewhat fluid, religion based, and extraordinarily complex. It's Conditions are Well-Watered, Mountainous, Aromatic, and Cultivated. It's cultural oddities are: (economic) scientific research, (interpersonal) gender separation, (leisure) wrestling, (fashion) kilts, and (taboos) hair.

Carium is a medium, mixed region. It produces pigs, poultry, softwood, reeds, copper, and marble. There are two cities in the region: Cariol, a medium city which produces clockwork from copper and steel; and Otenium, a medium city which produces musical instruments.

The government of Carium has the form of a republic, and the substance of a kritocracy. The cultural stereotype is Melodic 3, Meticulous 2, and Spontaneous 2. The Castes are rigid, of mixed base, and hard to understand. It's Conditions are Chilly, Beautiful, Wooded, and Snowy. It's cultural oddities are: (economic) contract, (interpersonal) optimal offspring, (leisure) game craze and music, (fashion) elaborate shoes, and (taboos) nudity.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Volant - Castes

Some cultures in the world have caste systems. A caste system is a socio-economic heirarchy, where a person is born into a position and sub-culture, whose worth is intrinsic and - theoretically - unvarying.
Caste Societies vary immensely. There can be few castes, many castes, many sub-castes within a few meta castes, religion-based castes, ethnicity-based castes, and other variants. Marriages and offspring outside of ones caste are possible in certain ways, but the prohibitions and the strength of these prohibitions vary from culture to culture.
Game groups from a non-caste society should probably not use a caste-bound native culture to work within. Caste-bound societies for these groups would probably work better as foreign cultures, unless they are loose castes lightly applied. People from modern western cultures have difficulty dealing with the limitations from castes. Groups are, of course, free to disregard this advice. You can, if you wish, use the following table, or construct one to your own tastes.
Caste Table

Roll Rigidity Base Complexity
1 Extreme Religion Byzantine
2 Very Rigid Religion Extraordinary
3 Rigid Ethnicity Hard to Understand
4 Moderately Rigid Ethnicity Complex
5 Moderate Religion and Ethnicity Layered
6 Somewhat Rigid Tribal Moderate
7 Somewhat Bendable Mixed Moderately Simple
8 Bendable Mixed Mostly Simple
9 Somewhat Fluid Mixed Simple
0 Fluid Mixed Trivial

LUITS! and Coyote Trail Gaming

In my Monday Coyote Trail campaign, two weeks ago, the deputy got blasted with a shotgun trying to stop a night wagon coming from the Chinese teahouse. Doc saw one of the bags they were loading move, and the two went to intercept. Last week, the Deputy Jackson recovered while Doc, Gambler English Ed, and Cowgirl Portman went out to investigate a vulture's feast in the desert north of town. Turned out to be the bodies of two Chinese men. They had been flayed, the meat flensed and separated from the bones, then carved into thin sliced, and the viscera removed from the meat. Each was stacked neatly in separate piles, though the vultures had made a mess of it. They noted that a buckboard had come out drawn by two horses. Two men had descended from the buckboard, another had come in by horseback. The one who had come in by horseback left on the buckboard, trailing the horse. The two men had knelt in the dust, and were butchered where they knelt.

This week, they decide they had had enough of this, Portman climbed to the roof, dropping bundles of burning brush down the two chimneys, and covering them with wet blankets. Doc covered the people running out of the door with a rifle, making them lie on the street and put their hands behind their heads. Jackson covered Portman and Doc from the roof of the Dry Goods store, also with a rifle.

The giant Chinese man who had dealt with them several times before came out on the roof as Portman was dropping down the line to the lower roof of the Western Union office. He grabbed the line, and with his immense strength began hauling Portman up like a fish on a drop line. Portman leaped off the line and landed well on the lower roof, then shot the giant in the shoulder with her pistol. This enraged the giant, and he lifted a big stone fallen from the chimney over his head to crush Portman. Jackson shot him in the back, and he fell off the roof, directly at Portman, the stone still in his hands. Meanwhile a rifle poked out of a third floor window of the teahouse, and a man doc had walked past, trying to see how Portman was doing, jumped to his feet behind Doc and held a huge, wide bladed knife to his throat. Doc dropped the rifle.

Cliffhanger ending. Next week English Ed will be back from wherever he had gone, and we'll see how it all turns out this Monday.

In my Saturday LUITS! game, last week the main group met up with a local metahuman gang. They were in Harper's Ferry, a pub in Allston, when they heard a big explosion and rushed out without a plan. The two teleporters, Blue Demon and Bamf, got there first. They saw a bank blown up, dozens dead or wounded, and the streak of a speedster dashing around in the exposed vault. They tried to stop the Speedster, but Bamf was pummeled into unconsciousness, and Blue Demon was knocked way back. This was the most dangerous type of speedster - the kind that also had super strength and was highly trained in martial arts. Enchantrix was just then flying in on her broom, and Negated his speed. He then ran towards a point where he vanished. On checking his tracks, as the others arrived, they found he had met with an accomplice who was evidently an invisible teleporter.

They traced the two shoe prints - being cops - the woman teleporter was wearing designer soles bought from a single shop. The speedster was wearing custom soles. They were able to trace them to the buyer, a man by the name of Michael Moriarty, who lived in Cleveland Circle. The woman was a bit more difficult, as those model boots had been sold to seven women, and one man - veidently for his SO, as they wouldn't have fitted him. They left that for later and began planning their visit to Mr. Moriarty.

This week, Blue Demon was the teacher for the trainees. She teased them unmercifully, in her succubus way. She also told them they were going to do something important, not just wander around and hope for a fire, and that they were going to show up the full member team. They decided to go after the woman. They found that in addition to the eight sales, one pair of these designer boots had been stolen. They watched video of the date, and saw a woman take the shoes behind a stack of shelves and vanish. They did a facial recognition run on her, and got a name and address from the DMV - Hera Harvey, living in an apartment on Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton. Blue Demon sent Doctor Danger, Man-Spider, and Nike to her door in plain clothes, while Grease covered the courtyard and she and Volt covered the roof.

At Doctor Danger's knock, she looked through the spyhole and asked who he was. he answered "Richie Long". She asked "Do I know you from the University?" and he nodded "Yup!" It helps sometimes to have a fresh, innocent face! She opened the door and stared at the three people. She said "Who are you?" and Nike answered. "Deputy US Marshals, Ma'am". They got initiative. Doctor Danger hit her with a Disrupt, which randomly mixed her volitional powers. Man-Spider Negated her Invisibility, and Nike leaped on her, bearing her to the floor, and pummeling her with her super-speed, but light, punches. She, of course attempted to teleport out, but the dice said she actually activated her invisibility, which was already Negated.

When they heard over the radio what was happening from Doctor Danger, Blue Demon teleported into the courtyard with Volt in her arms, and Grease slipped in with his super speed, nailing her three times where Nike wasn't covering her. Again she tried to teleport, panicking now, but she rolled the exact same number and again activated her defunct Invisibility power. Doctor Danger, vulnerable as always to women, was too flustered by the sight of two women - Nike on top of Hera - writhing on the floor, and did nothing but stutter. He gained aHero Point for playing his Vulnerability against himself. Man-Spider jumped on top of Nike, and extruding his extra four arms, reached around her and slammed punches into Hera. Hera went unconscious, and they took her back to the HQ, along with her computer and anything else they could find in the search.

True to Blue Demon's word, they had executed a textbook operation, gotten a valuable prisoner, and opened a wedge into the terrorist/criminal alliance they were investigating. This was a lot of fun because of the interplay between the trainees and Blue Demon, the procedural way they found Hera, and the way they set the arrest up. Teleporters are extremely hard to capture, and they did it perfectly.

Next week, the big guys, stung by the success of the trainees - and exploiting it - go after Moriarty.