Sunday, August 25, 2013

Psionics in Lowell Was Right!


Psionics in Lowell Was Right! involve the use of a skill, plus the burning of a PSI point for the duration of the session. Any skill can be used with PSI to yield an effect, but what that effect is is decided by the GM and player. The following psionic effects are typical, but other effects can be created, and other skills used for these effects if the GM agrees they are pertinent.

Telepathy = Communication or Language + PSI
Psionic Healing = Medicine + PSI
Psychokinesis = Move +PSI
Clairvoyance = Discern + PSI
Dowsing = Hunt + PSI
Psychic Sensing = Discern + PSI
Precognition = Survival + PSI
Psychometry = Research + PSI
Aura Reading = Fake or Organize + PSI
Mediumship = Communication + PSI
Retrocognition = Humanities + PSI
Stun = Strike + PSI

Uncommon Powers

With the easy combination of Skill + PSI creating psionic powers, you may have strange and uncommon powers come up in play. If so, make a ruling for now, based on the above, and reserve the right to change it in the future, after you have had some time to think about it. Use the parameters above if possible.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Spaceships in Lowell Was Right!

Spaceships in Lowell Was Right! are built on a choice of "hull" - really a spar and attached module arrangement - and a choice of two drives for each "hull" available. One drive is a Burn-Drift-Brake type, and the other uses a constant low-fractional-G thrust. This means transit times between planets are measured in months rather than days or hours.

The Burn-Drift-Brake (B-D-B) drive uses more energy, and requires more of its mass to be fuel than the Slow Boost drive, which means the Slow Boost ships can carry more payload than B-D-B ships. On the other hand, B-D-B ships are much cheaper, and the very slow but constant acceleration of the Slow Boost means that B-D-B ships are faster over shorter runs.

On this, you can hang components - Crew Cabins, Passenger Cabins, Rotating (for false gravity) Passenger Cabins, Air Plants, Workout Rooms, Cargo, and more. What you won't find is weapons. Weapons available in Lowell Was Right! are pretty useless in space.

The only Artificial Gravity is through thrust or rotation. Thrust is either tiny or brief, and rotationally induced gravity is very expensive. Luckily, since radiation is space is all electromagnetic, and since calcium loss in bone was not a known effect in 1880, in Lowell Was Right!, weightlessness is for most people perfectly healthy, once you get used to it - though you may want to build up those muscles if you plan on going back to a planet...

Lowell Was Right! - Mars

Mars is much as it was imagined by Science Fiction writers early in the twentieth century. Small, bitterly salt seas are all that was left of oceans much like our earth’s. Canals bring the water across the land, nurturing scanty crops in the semi-arid lowlands. Across the highlands, nothing much grows - sparse hardy weeds nurture small herds of grazers, which in turn sustain a smattering of carnivores.

Mars was once as wet and warm as earth, but as the sun dwindled, the planet aged and shriveled up. Ancient and majestic ruins dot the higlands, where once fertile land has dried up and blown away.

The lowlands of Mars were at one time the ancient ocean beds. The highlands were at one time the islands and continents, and between the two there is a scarp, which was once the continental shelf. All of the lowland cities are relatively new as Martian cities go. The famous canals were dug over time, as the shrunken seas gradually retreated away from the continental shelves. Now, some of the lowland cities are very far indeed from the life-giving water. 

The Martians and Mars Humans who live here try not to think about the future, but one day, Mars will be as dead as Titan. In the meantime, the slow decline of the once powerful Martian Houses goes on apace. Once capable of cracking a planet into luimps of rock, the Martian Houses bend over backwards to curry favor with the now dominant Earth nations.

Mars is cold and the air is thin, like alpine regions of the earth. Humans have trouble in the highlands, though this is mitigated by Mars’ light gravity. The lowlands are somewhat better, and thus where most earth tourists stay. The great Martian cities of the lowlands still thrive, and the tourist exchange is welcome.

The Martians have forgotten much of the technology that brought them into space long ago. Their colony on Mercury was out of touch with the homeworld for centuries because they were forgotten about after a war, when the coalition that sent the colony out was defeated and records destroyed. Earth-sponsored archeological expeditions into the ruined cities of the highlands occasionally yield a rich trove of forgotten technology.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Generating Geopolitics in Lowell Was Right!

Superpowers are states which are able to support a space program, with military-civilian space presence. To find out how many superpowers there are in your world, roll 1d6+2. You can use nations from our earth, or you can roll or choose from a table.

How did this situation come to be?

The GM can decide alone, or the GM and players can jointly decide the course of the world since 1880 which would result in the geopolitical situation outlined above.


Designated player rolls 1d6+2, with a result of 4+2 = 6. Six superpowers are on this Earth! One player requests the USA to be a superpower, so that her character will work as she envisioned. No one objected, so the USA was chosen.

The other 5 superpowers were randomly rolled. They were Greater Nigeria, The Australasian Republic, Great Brasil, The Malay Republic, and Mormon Zion. The players and GM between them come up with the following scenarios:

1. Europe was flattened in The Great War - devastated, crushed, and bled dry. There are still armies of barbarians roaming the ruins throwing stones at each other as one player joked. A bit of overstatement maybe, but it never really ended, and armed arnarchic militias do indeed fight each other still in the shattered cityscapes.

2. A Mormon prophet came to prominence in Utah, creating a huge religious revolution in the Rocky Mountain areas. From the Dakotas to Alberta and Britsh Columbia, down to Oregon, to northern Nevada down to Utah, left the Union and became a Theocracy, to the relief of the rest of the USA.

3. In Nigeria, a Dictator arose when the British pulled out because of the Great War. An able administrator, he pulled the country together, then using his large, well drilled, well equipped armies, conquered everything in sub-saharan Africa but the southern part and Ethiopia and the Horn.

4. Because of the Great War, a flood of British and other European refugees set up a state in the Malay Peninsula, based in Singapore. The Dutch in Borneo, Java, and Sumatra soon joined in, along with - eventually - the French in Indo-China, The Thais, and Burma, making a multi-ethnic Asian-European state with immense resources.

5. The Pacific War of the 1940s between Imperial Japan on one hand and Australia and the USA on the other resulted in a union of Australia with western Indonesia, along with the Philippines and many Pacific islands. Japan was ultimately defeated, though not until they almost broke Australia and the USA, and today is a second rate power.

6. During and after the great War, a great many Europeans emigrated to Brazil, which enthusiastically embraced them into its ethnic and cultural stew. Using diplomatic and economic pressures, eventually all of South America north of Chile-Argentina-Uruguay were “volunteered” to be assimilated.

7. Overall, aside from The USA and Mormon Zion, the  equatorial position of these nations gave them an advantage in space launches before the discovery of anti-mass.

Ghosts in Lowell Was Right

Instead of being largely debunked, Spiritualism proves to be partially vindicated.  Ghosts exist, and mediums are able to make contact with them.   However, as they begin to be better understood, it becomes clear that ghosts are not exactly the souls of the dead, but bits of psychic energy that remain after emotional turmoil, carrying with them the feelings and the knowledge of those tormented souls.   The most common event that leaves behind a ghost are death agonies, but other events can prompt them as well, and living individuals may have ghosts in the world.  The majority of people leave behind a ghost upon death,  but persons who die peacefully frequently do not.

Ghosts can be contacted by individuals with psi powers and who possess the necessary skill of .  In séances , they can allow others without psi powers to experience and speak with the ghost as well, but this requires the use of a psionic amplifier of some sort.

Ghosts possess the knowledge of the person at the time the ghost was created.  They have no knowledge of events in a the life (if any) of the person forming the ghost subsequent to the point at which they were formed.  They have difficulty in retaining any new memories and so remain mired in the past.

Ghosts are frequently insane from the agonies which create them.  They are always less than full, well-rounded individuals and are focused on whatever was the concerns of the person who formed them at the time of their formation.

The psychic energy of a ghost is always attached to a particular object such as a building, a natural object (tree, boulder, etc.), or personal item owned by the individual (weapon, portrait, jewelry, etc.).  Destroying the item banishes the ghost.  Ghosts may also be exorcised without destroying the object by a sufficiently strong psychic.
Persons with psionic abilities and emotional problems can be possessed by ghosts.  In this case the ghost is able to once more have a full life experience.  The ghost can be exorcised, in which case the ghost is destroyed.

Some alien cultures have learned how to deliberately form ghosts and this has become part of their technology.  Ghosts are deliberately created to act as expert systems and to preserve the knowledge of the past.  In some cultures, creating a ghost is considered the appropriate final action of an individual  in the last moments of life.  Psionic devices and drugs have been developed to which aid in the formation of a ghost.   This technology has now passed into human hands and trained psionic individuals can form ghosts at will.

Creating a ghost requires one point of psi power which remains lost for the duration of the ghosts existence.  Temporary ghosts may be produced which vanish after a period of time but permanent ghost imply the permanent loss of psi power.   Permanent ghosts are therefore commonly only formed by persons in the last stages of life.  Because of these limitations, items haunted by expert ghosts are necessarily rare and expensive.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A New Review of Volant Up!

Another new review of Volant: Kingdoms of Air and Stone! This one from Geek Native's Andrew Girdwood.