Saturday, May 30, 2015

Story Seeds for The Necklace

At the suggestion of a Beta playtester, I am making up a series of 100 story seeds for The Necklace, "for people that just cannot get their heads around how one of your games actually play" My games are generally geared for less explored aspects of play. :D

So, there are 20 suggested types of organization you can build your characters for, and Klax and I came up with five quick story seeds for each. Example:

8 Outsider Mission

1: Your tour group has crashlanded somewhere in the Zoo. Survive until you are rescued!

2: Your mission is to steal a bio-genetic formula from the Altisherpas. Good luck!

3: You're on a mission to deal with Rasi for Builder Tech, but your ship is taken by pirates!

4: Your Outsider group has just finished an interstellar resort, when you find a Carnivale tribe has filed a claim with the Altisherpas for your land as a holy site!

5: Your cruise ship has been hit by a sky whale and SURPRISE! The escape equipment is limited and/or faulty. Survive!

Some of the seeds are re-used from a different angle, for example, #2 above is complemented by this:

9 Commercial Espionage

1: You have information that Outsiders are planning on stealing a bio-genetic formula from your Altisherpan company. You must stop them!

and #5 by this:

20 Salvage/Repo Company

2: Your team is sent in to salvage an airship struck by a sky whale, but the passengers have formed dangerous bands in the long derelict vessel!

So there is more than one way to view the same incident, depending on how it is approached.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Zoo - L4 In The Necklace

At the L4 point is a cluster of asteroids, all of them Builder-graviformed, and connected by loops to the River. Each asteroid contains from three to twelve distinct and separate self-sustaining ecologies, apparently imported by the Builders as curiosities. These asteroids are collectively called the Zoo, and this location is a mecca for tourism. Some of the ecologies are topped by films to keep in fliers, while others are open to the Necklace’s air. Over time, a few films have degenerated, allowing the fliers access to the greater Necklace, but Rasi and Altisherpa Rangers maintain the structural integrity of the films, and repair any tears that occur.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

From The Necklace: Altisherpa Nomad Camp

From The Necklace, a setting element, randomly generated:

Element Label: Air Mat (55)

Element Description: Altisherpan Nomad Camp

Element Size: Extra-Large

Other Element Data:

Settlement Type Altisherpan Nomad Camp

Settlement Name none

Settlement Size 151-200

Settlement Ancillaries/ Facilities/Resources Genetics Lab, Artists’ Colony, Actors’ Colony

Other Settlement Features

Vegetables - Enhanced Greens, Strange Liquors, Exotic Fruits

Meats - Zero-G Pigs, Exotic Fowl, Zero-G Cattle

Cultural Oddities

Economics -

Interpersonal - Legal Incest

Leisure - Recreational Drug Use

Fashion - Nudity

Taboos - Hair

Obligations - Social Bathing

Slavery -

Notes These Altisherpan Nomads are experimenting with a “natural” lifestyle, as they imagine their early ancestors on Earth would have lived, if their ancestors on earth lived in zero-G on a vegetative mat floating is a tropical sea of air whirling about a neutron star. Really, it’s an excuse for a somewhat kinky vacation in the wild, with no holds barred sex, drugs, and partying. They are fringe types, artists and actors, and they have regular exhibitions and performances.

The mat is huge, with forests, meadows, pools, and fields on both sides. The camp is distributed around a semi-permanent pool which is used for communal bathing. Portashelts, Inflatashelts, and hard and soft tents surround the pond, and the community airship is moored solidly nearby.

The Altisherpas are friendly and welcoming, so long as you abide by their community rules while with them. They’ve been on the mat for six months, and are not nearly ready to return to the City, though new people are going to be intriguing. Their biological changes are just starting to change the nature of the mat, making it more welcoming for future nomads. The introduced animals are flourishing, and culls have already been made, ending up on plates throughout the camp. They would certainly be willing to barter for other supplies and items of interest.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Yet Another Vignette From The Necklace

Cassie found him tangled deep in the jungle ball. She saw the feet first, toe thumbs pointing in, curled. Ustin! She reached out and grabbed his naked foot. Nothing. No pulse. Oh, God! Ustin! She called in on her comm, asking for medevac, gently untangling Ustin from the branches as she waited. Cassie knew better than to move him, but she could move the branches around him. She double checked when she could reach his throat. No pulse.

His face was puffed up. Bluish. Tongue protruding. His eyes were bugging out, milky. Cassie examined his face, his arms, his legs and feet. Aha! Two puncture wounds. Swollen and red. Right on the muscle between the left toe thumb and the index toe. One of the problems of being an Altisherpa - we don’t like boots.

The medevac cycle came just then, and the medtech - Josay - and Cassie put Ustin into the Life Stretcher. No chance of pulling him back, but it was standard protocol. Wouldn’t hurt, anyway. She hooked him up while Josay buckled him in. As a Nurse Practitioner, she was qualified. They had a short cry for Ustin. Poor guy! So young!

On the way back to the Camp, she input the parameters and symptoms into the report. Then she cross-indexed the data with both the Xenobiology and Medical databases. With this she was able to work up a profile of the culprit. Every jungle ball was different. The distance between the fangs, Depth of wound, Shape. There it was - a Walker’s Myriapede. She began working up a way to neutralize it. Predation? Yes - she could release Tinker Wasps. And they didn’t like Sweet Heliopang. She ordered the wasps out of stasis, and Sweet Heliopang planted around the camp. There! That was appropriate!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Another Vignette from The Necklace

The small airship taxied up over the River chop to the village. My mother sent me to see to them, so I arranged myself where they came in to the Almofada leaf. They tossed me a line, as if I were a dockworker. I stepped to the side and let the heavy line thump off the top, green layer, bouncing twice before someone grabbed it and tied the craft to the central stalk. I ignored the whole proceeding. There were plenty of my people there to take care of it.

They let their loading ramp fall and I winced at the damage to the leaf. Oafs! That would take weeks of careful tending to repair! I bit my lip. I had a job to do.

Rasi. They were Rasi. Not good! Altisherpas would meddle and move on, but Rasi liked to take things over. Stay. Take control. I exhaled and waited. Mother would not have reason to regret her decision to choose me!

They came down the ramp, looking around as if they were envisioning their settlement all built already. Useless Carnivales! They have no idea what they have here! We can get this place for a song! We'll cut into the leaf and make pools for swimming! How tall can we build our resort hotel, do you think? Notches in the leaf edge will make wonderful piers for the recreational sail boats! Do you know how much money we can charge for a stay at our resort here?

The last one, a woman, looked over the side into the clear water. She knew! She could see, far below, the shape of the last airship where we sunk it. She could maybe even see the gleam of white bone! God in heaven! She's about to say something! I pointed my finger. From half a hundred blow pipes came the soft thup! of darts winging out. The Rasi staggered and fell, clutching at their throats, tufted all over like molting birds. I pointed again and twenty silent warriors dashed up the ramps. Screams echoed in the hull. I looked up at the machine gun in its turret - it looked straight at me but did not fire. They were not fast enough.

I finally exhaled. It was done. Another airship. More bones. I had not failed mother.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A vignette from The Necklace

Bonchi saw the detective staring at his runabout parked on the rear deck of the airship, and walked over to find out what was on her mind. She was looking thoughtful.

"Hola Detective! Are the Rasi Police interested in acquiring a speedy little runabout? I can give you a good, fair, hardly inflated price!"

"Is this yours, Bonchi?" she asked, still looking at the craft, one finger tapping her lips.

"Why yes it is, Detective Jarlsdottir! I have the papers..." Or could write them up, real fast...

"Witnesses said they saw a blue runabout at the Trading Station some hours after your airship left. If that's the case, perhaps your airship leaving well before the casino heist doesn't give you all an alibi after all."

"That particular model was very popular when I bought it years ago. And who doesn't love blue? Blue is the color of the Necklace after all!" And if you buy that, I have a bridge I can sell, cheap.

She squinted at me out of the corner of her eyes. Why did I get involved with her in the first place? Oh yeah! Her eyes. "Really, Bonchi? If only the people involved looked anything like your troupe, your alibi would be worthless. Anyway, I'm free tonight, so I came to take you up on the offer of a seat for your play."

Ah! This I could do! "Of course, my dear! The ticket will be waiting for you at the window. And afterwards? I'm always pumped up after a show!"

She flashed a bright white smile. "Afterwards, we'll see what happens! Maybe I'll be all... excited too..."

As I waved to her affectionately, I figured I had put her off the runabout. Now if she ever realized how good our makeup people were, I'd be in trouble! I whistled to myself as I walked off. Life was good!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

New Pigboats Review

A new review of my In Harm's Way: Pigboats game is out:

Another indication of my utter inability to want to write a game people are actually interested in playing! :D

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Force in Star Wars-ish

In our Star Wars-ish game, the force is overlaid directly on StarCluster's PSI sub-system. Unlike that sub-system, the Force has two sides, Light and Dark. Light is Apollonian, intellectual, cool and removed. Dark is Dionysian, emotional, hot and involved. Any Jedi can access Light or Dark-side powers, but moving towards either side is an investment in that side, which may or may not be what that Jedi wants to do.

PSI ratings in StarCluster are limited, leaving a short power range usually capped at about 5 points - which is undeniably powerful, but definitely limited. By turning to the Light or Dark side of the Force, a Jedi can gain more power. Each step towards one side will increase a Jedi's power for those skills which use that side and for neutral skills, and decrease it for those skills which use the opposite side.

Thus a Jedi who has moved by one step into the Dark Side would be 1 point more powerful when using Dark Side skills like Force Lightning and Force Choke, as well as in neutral skills like TK and Shield, while being one point less powerful in Light Side skills like Heal and Stun. The further a Jedi moves into one side or another, the more powerful they become. Say a Jedi has a Force (PSI) potential of 5. By moving three points into the Light Side, the Jedi effectively wields a power of 8 for Dark Side and neutral skills, and a power of 2 for Dark Side skills.

Light Side is not equal to Good, and Dark Side is not equal to Evil. Still, one is what one does. Going further into the Light requires one to cut oneself off from emotion to enhance one's intellect, while going further into the Dark Side requires cutting oneself off from intellect to enhance one's emotion. The sacrifices necessary to move to one side or the other are commensurate with how deeply one goes. The sacrifice necessary to move from step one to step two are much greater than to move from zero (Neutral) to step one.

Evil acts are a shortcut to increased Dark Side power, but not the only way. They are just easier than other emotional paths such as Love. The self-denial required to advance along the Light Side makes one cold and calculating, not caring for others except in the abstract. Neither way makes a Jedi a better person.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Back to StarWars-ish!

We have now started - played our second session Saturday - on our third season of StarWars-ish. For the last two years, the party has been fighting the Mandelorians, who took advantage of the Empire's preoccupation with the rebellion to attempt to enlarge again. Now, though, the rebellion is gearing up for the Battle of Endor.

The party have come to Coruscant, when the Emperor and Darth Vader have departed, to try and cause holy hell in the capital. They first went to the ruins of Jedi Temple and Academy, all overgrown with 80 years - we are working with a timeline derived from information let fall in A New Hope - of neglect. They met up with Force Ghosts of Jedi children, ultimately freeing three of them from their compulsion to stay on the grounds, and finding a few buried artifacts - a gold bladed lightsaber wrapped in a white silky robe and bound with a gold bracelet, three holocrons, one being the record of Ashoka Tano's trial, and something else which i can't remember at the moment.

As they departed, they met up with a single person who turned out to be a hidden Jedi who had lost her master to the Inquisitors, but successfully stayed hidden by acting as a doctor. I mean she *was* a doctor, but hid her force use in surgery, healing, and the like. This was a new player, and after a lot of initial skepticism, took her with them on a raid, where she could 'prove herself'.

The raid was on a giant communications tower. For a kilometer around, the Empire had destroyed all the habitable layers of buildings, creating a flat plain. The party found disused paths under this destruction, and finally found a way up into the tower. They went in stealthily, protected by Jedi Mind Tricks into appearing to be nothing unusual. They even rode a few stories with three stormtroopers in a lift. They came to a control room protected by five stormtroopers. Daykon stunned two of them immediately, Nebula, the new Jedi, took out another with Force Lightning - in our continuity, the Force's Dark and Light sides are not directly tied to Good and Evil - and Torota threw her lightsaber, curving it with the Force, to take out two more. Josea herded the techies away from the comm equipment, and the Jedis shredded it with their lightsabers.

Learning that there was a single emergency comm link station above them which would have triggered when the main stations were destroyed, the Jedi sent the techs away, and rode up the lift. Assuming there would be an ambush laid for them, they exited the lift through the top. When it came to a stop and opened its doors, a fusilade of blaster fire exploded beneath their feet. Then after a short silence, one stormtrooper stuck their head in. This was their signal.

Josea, Daykon, and Nebula force jumped out, each taking down a storm trooper - Nebula taking out the curious one, Daykon taking the one to the right of the door, and Josea stabbing one right through the side of the lift to the right of the door. Again Torota waited until the last and dropped down normally into the floor of the lift, sending her lightsaber out to take down the last two in one loop of the room. (In this case, the first three used an attack by force-jumping, while Torota did not.)

They forced the lone techie out of the Comm station, gave the rest of the tower crew 9 minutes to clear the tower, set off a delayed destruct surge of the tower's power source, and force-jumped off the tower with the techie as it exploded behind them.

All in all, some fun sessions! Nebula's player will be irregular at best, but she lives in Coruscant, and that makes sense.