Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Two kinds of stuff in post-apocalyptic games

There's two patterns of how stuff is used after an apocalypse, as I see it. Mad Max is the penultimate example of one - the familiar is re-used in an alien way. Baby doll faces are built into the backs of helmets, gardening tools are re-crafted into a muzzle for a person, a rifle becomes a shamanic staff, bullets are twined together as a brassy wind chime. You know what these things are normally for, but the current denizens of the waste have repurposed these objects creatively, and younger folks aren't even aware of the original purpose. Cultural shear, like tectonic plates grinding away from each other, and a few people like Max are still (begrudgingly) bridging the gap.

This is how you wind up drag racing raiders on a turbo-charged lawn mower.

This relies on your familiarity with stuff that's shown - it works on things that actually exist now. You won't get this frisson with science-fiction gear, or at least, not nearly as much, because you're not combining existing material culture with a novel society, amputated from our own by the apocalypse. With science fiction items, you're asking the viewer (or imaginer) to envision two made-up things - the original group of folks that created the fictional gear, and the new group who have repurposed it.

However, I think Gabor Lux (among others) has shown another way to handle science fiction gear in a post apocalypse - make it strange and fantastical to the players, make it imply a culture quite different than anything we imagine.

And now I can't find this PDF on his dang blog!

Hah no wait, here's the OSR technology table I'm looking for.

So yeah, it has a very Carcosa vibe to it. Technology breaking rules (like lasers pinholing right through armor). Societies so far advanced that your AC is now obsolete. Technology for mind-controlling the masses and alleviating boredom.

So here's some additions I thought through.

Artifacts in the Wreckage of the Great Age

1. Fight enhance helm. Shows brain and central nervous system of enemies, if any, as well as anything central to circulation. So humans are a brain and the nerve cord in the spine, and a heart, and otherwise just a vague outline. Use knowledge and targeting aid to take 5e-style Advantage on damage rolls. After 4 uses the helm's working components fuse to your face. Your vision, brain are glitched and all you can see of other humans and humanoids is their brain and cns and heart, and a vague bodily outline. Good luck telling if someone is lying to you.

2. Parent Pod. Will accelerate time and raise a baby or child to the old age of majority (20.1). Kids will seem haughty, disadvantage on pleasant social interaction, but increased chance to identify tech or use it.

3. Mutantor bomb. Gives 1 mutation defect to anyone in a 100' radius. 15% chance of beneficial mutation. Emits no radiation. Modified mutantor bombs led to the current reality of mutated animals and humans running around - radiation was a side-effect of the subsequent Mutant Wars. 'Mutating radiation' typically means there's an unexploded but slow-leaking mutantor bomb nearby. (Weighs about 40lb, sizeable, bulky, but pack-mule-able.)

4. Moviedust. A tiny of powder. If a pinch is ingested, shows you the trailer, 1d6 rounds. If snorted you see the entire movie, 4d4 turns. You lie in a comatose state trembling. One hp of damage will rouse you, angrily, likely just before some interesting part of the plot. 2d4 doses.

5. Magma tube. Stone tube 3' in length, rather heavy, stoppered on one end with a hunk of metal. When removed, the tube oozes magma for 1 turn at the rate of 10' per minute.

6. Pain generator. Creates electricity based on local level of suffering and misery. Often used by slavers to power large barges of slaves who are whipped until their suffering becomes an insipid insanity. After which new sufferers are needed.

7. Floating barge. Think of Jabba the Hutt’s pleasure yacht. Slow, floats above the ground. Requires a ton of power to run. See: pain generator.

8. IndocChamber. Will kill mutants. Pure strain humans will receive some cybernetic augmentation (+1 to Str, Dex, +4 hp) and hypnotic conditioning. Will be compelled to uphold the law.
THE LAW: 1) Kill mutants. 2) Stop thieves! 3) Hang murderers. 4) Mutilate those who steal intellectual property. 5) Prevent riots, peasant uprisings, democratic systems. 6) Hunt down poachers (ie anyone who hunts at this point). NPCs obsessively act out their Law Compulsions, PCs get 500 xp for acting on them, but not if they're doing so in a really hypocritical way - ie hunting down some mutant while being aided by one in the party.

9. Repeller. Gnarled plassteel stick. Held in both hands, generates a bubble of armor energy, AC 2, AC 5 if moving. Large enough for 2 people to fit inside. If several people with Repellers are standing together the force shields are joined. Used for riot control alongside energy lances.

10. Energy Lance. Does damage as a laser pistol, can also make for a pike-like hand weapon. Long enough to stand behind someone with a repeller and poke the end out of the force field.

11. Indelible pen. Metal stylus with a very sharp point. Scratches out a thin black line onto anything, typically to a depth of 1". Does not bleed through paper somehow.

12. Kiy Novellas. Crystalline crowns which transport the wearer into an ongoing play for 1d4 hours. Depression, ennui, obsession follow. Save at +4 for 1d6 months. If you fail, the PC runs off in the night and becomes a murderous insane NPC. Play contents: 1) A woman berobed in gold, whispering to you, following you around, always over your shoulder 2) Dancers cavorting everywhere, hypnotically, while the world is frozen 3) Noble courts where all wear warped masks 4) Kaiju tentacle beast walks the world, devouring it

13. Gravity mace. Damage as a mace, targets must save or be flung back 15'.

14. Flame-retardant biological and radiation resistant Peace Observer uniform with hidden knives, contact poison hidden in indestructable ampoule in belt. Comes with a helm and a white, full-face mask which has a blank, inhuman expression. Grants advantage on rolls to resist radiation and chemical weapons, disadvantage on attack damage done by fire. Armor as leather.

15. Levitation spine. Replaces spine, Con -1 (requires a cyborger or a good automated surgical suite). Can levitate self at will if not heavily encumbered.

16. Grinder mouth. Replaces teeth, tongue, lower jaw, upper esophagus, same install requirements as levitation spine. Converts plastic, scrap metal, gasoline or hydrocarbons to nutrient paste. Works on regular food as well. You look normal if you don't smile. Loud in use. Thanks to Mutant Scavengers of the Ruined Earth's Termite Mask.

17. Last Act Pill. After ingestion, death of the eater of this pill generates a sizeable explosion: 8d8 damage to everything within 200', save for half. Undetectable except in stool samples.

18. God Botherer. Strapped to an object or person, they will be treated as a god. Reaction rolls determine if this is good or bad, but people will be scared to attack or debate with or contradict a god. If the user or object is injured, all present can save to see if they ignore the GB's effects.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Worldbuilding: Post Apocalyptic Raiders on Souped-Up Lawnmowers

I think I've seen a gif of a guy on a standing tractor, racing around. The machine was just an engine with a tiny metal platform behind it you stand on. Some wheels and some controls.

So I figured in the future the shitty raiders aren't going to have awesome rat rods - they're not going to have Nux' car. Nux had to work his way up the War Boy chain of death bullshit command to earn that car. Slit had to work his way up to be a passenger on that car. And these guys had a giant machine behind them - a V8 of logistics, trade/barter/exchange, brotherly nepotism, and some good geographical luck.

For the real scruffy, nomadic end of the raider ecology, you might see something more like this:

Drag racing a tiny tractor. I figure you stick an arrow-gun on the front of this and you're good to go. Fire them into someone else's tires and you can bring down a vehicle with things like doors, windows, a roof.

Want something less practical? There's a jet-engine go cart. The wheels are a bit smaller than the souped-up lawnmowers I've seen, so it might be a bit worse for off-roading. And it eats fuel, apparently. But it does have a certain something.

How to soup-up a lawn mower. You have to mess with something called the 'differential.' Yeah, I am ignorant regarding engines and cars and the like, generally (I drive a Corolla. I have never driven a stick-shift). First start of that build. As in the first time it was turned on and such.

Then you get into rat rods, which I just found out about today. You get something much closer to a Nux pursuit vehicle for sure. You can see something like this, which runs an engine common to 'wood chippers, combines, or in this case from a skid-steer.' So yeah, perfect scavenger vehicle.

Promising, probably more polished rat rod driving on the actual road. It does look pretty fucking scary honestly. Driving kills about 30k people a year in the USA. I love my curtain air bags. I'm very glad to no longer have my circa 1998 air bags pointing at my face. I can't imagine driving one of these on an actual road or at any speed.

Clearly I would make a shite war boy. Or nomadic wanderer.

So anyway, that was the worldbuilding hole I fell down, to see if raiders could feasibly ride around on souped-up lawnmowers. Turns out, yeah, road conditions depending. Or they could build a decent hot rod out of an engine from a wood chipper.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

He was scanning the horizon!

Scanning the horizon, you see...
Wrecked vehicle
Fallen-over skyscraper
D6+3 Raiders
Food, 40% chance radioactive
Kudzu-covered entrance to buried parking deck
Primitive wooden wall around small structure
Glowing locust storm
Just some cannibals. 50% chance they’re sated and friendly
Ongoing battle!
Copse of pines, sweating sap
Mega Ant Hive
Water supply, 40% radioactive chance
Rocky rubble
Wandering trader with armed guards
Really old gear, still useable
Wooden hut on stilts
D6 slugs
Crashed airplane
Omega Cat

Thick underbrush and trees. If passed through, CHA check to avoid poison ivy
Wild multidog pack

Interstate intersection
*Blood Dragon

House-sized lumps in the Urth - former neighborhood covered in mud and kudzu

Pristine house amidst still-hot rad craters


Skyscraper husk

Occupied, guarded couple of houses

Rusting billboard

Half-life water oak copse crashing about

Kudzu-shrouded rush hour traffic, permanently halted.

Ruined strip mall remains

*reroll, only encounter if you reroll the same number

Random 'driving around post-apocalyptic Atlanta.' Some of the locations are a lil bland, but I figure it's kind of like the empty rooms of a dungeon. OR you could cross out locations as you go, and just roll a d12 for that.

Inspired by Eric Nieudan's post here.

I wrote all this below in a G+ post and realized I need it here too, just 'cause otherwise you miss out on how cool Omega Cats are.

The default landscape is kind of a sweaty field, tall green grasses, some patches of asphalt. There's still trees - lots of pine, the gross redneck of the tree world. They're generally sparse enough you can drive around just fine, on a car or a lawnmower with a repurposed straight-6 engine.

Omega Cats should have 1 randomly chosen ability:
1. NegaYowl
2. Invisibility
3. Feather Fall
4. Phasing
5. CharmFace
6. Hypercut

Half-life water oaks mature and die within 15 minutes of a seed hitting wet clay. They cause havoc by spreading seeds and falling onto things. A sapling takes about a minute to form from a seed. At least we have lots of lumber.

Multidogs are probably regular dogs that can glorp together like The Thing and punch through walls and the like, but some are still semi-friendly even in hulked out form.

Blood dragons are just neon dragons. Sorry. I wanted them to be rare but possible.

As Eric pointed out, Blood Dragons should shoot beams of radiation at people. I also now recall from Far Cry: Blood Dragon that they were attracted to cyberhearts, so if you have a bag of salted cyberhearts handy, you can distract them. They're flightless. Should be about HD 9-10 in a Black Hack game. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Random Tables for Rad-Hack

Edit: I am trying to increase the font size to something normal. Blogger doesn't seem to want to keep that update. Sorry!

Oh, you know, just thoughts and notes on setting material for a Rad-Hack game. I started out looking for a good loot table and got carried away. 

Worth noting, loot for post-apocalyptic games comes in two flavors, in my link collection - many assume the apocalypse happened right around now, and all the gear is essentially modern or older. Then you have Gamma World and Rad-Hack type games, where loot can be modern, or it can be gonzo sci-fi insanity. *** Tons of places and encounters and gear *** Same. 'wasteland junk' on that page is a good random things table, scavenging list is nice. Worth noting, both seem to generate loot that's modern-era only, rather than some science fictional stuff. I do like how the scavenging list can create a bunch of corpses (including obviously mutant ones) and random semi-standing buildings (like a hardware store or an office or a hospital) with things inside. So that's cool. I need more than just modern stuff though - I want the world loot tables to be a little more science fictiony. - uses the Grand Unified Junk table, which is here:
The GUJ is great because there’s more fallout-esque or science fiction things in there. I mean, great for Rad-Hacks set in places with Omega Tech / Ancient High-Tech. This makes it the superior junk / loot table, if you ask me. So, this is my go-to loot table for Rad-Hack, other than the tables in Other Dust. More on that un below.

Gamma World Scavenger's Guide. Sci-fi loot with longer entries, has some good detail if that's what you're looking for. Very good. 

3169 things to do in Gamma World - so not a loot table, but fun and good for some inspiration.
" 1584 Get stuck on an inland mud flat. There are things in the mud that consume everything organic (which is why the boats are metal) and keep the soil consistency the same through out the flat. The boats' engines ran out of fuel and now the PCs (and crew?) have to figure out how to turn them into sail boats or starve to death. As the surface is mud, normal wind doesn't move the boats very fast." In the future the earth doesn't wait for you to rot and turn back into it, it helps the process along. is quite ban-happy with rpg authors I love, but I figure I won't find this list elsewhere for now. The EMO index. Great stuff. Elf Maids and Octopi is hyper prolific. Even if you're not trying for post-apocalyptic stuff, he probably writes a d100 table about some genre you like at some point. And this index makes it possible to find the stuff. d100 Tragic Old Murderhobos is pretty fantastic for a 'hireling' generator. I mean, who else would take a pittance to walk point for the PCs? - pdf of random modern-isa items you can find. has some pdfs of worth, just temper any excitement you have as some links are broken (some are on, but don't expect them all to be saved there). A few others just contain, say, lists of elements, or military designation names. Still, lots of stuff in there. - starts with a bunch of links to other random tables, also has some random-table content. Has some loot tables with different degrees of utility/worth, which I like. Krippler in general is posting some useful stuff / theft-worthy ideas in that thread.

And then there's random not-random-tables things. 

review of other dust:

I’m using Other Dust because Kevin Crawford knows what he’s doing as far as sandbox creation goes. Other Dust is full of random tables, especially the back of the book. Name charts, enclave architectural details. He has d100 tables of rooms for several categories of location (cavern, bunker, enclave, factory), and d100 tables for things found in each location category. Sample maps. So like even if you're not interested in Other Dust's specific setting, it seems like a very useful toolkit. - some nice setup for a campaign, some actual plays in there as well. The megacity reminds me a bit of the city in Neo Scavenger, a PC game where most of the map is crazy wooded wasteland, but there's a pocket of ultra-high-tech wealth. (So if you made a hacker character it's the one hex where he gets to shine.) Seems very cool. The writer is using a bunch of random tables (Vornheim, Augmented Reality, Other Dust) to run the game, so you know. Much more urban than the typical post-apocalyptic game, but I think it's a cool idea. What else does this remind me of? Oh yeah, a Pentagon video about Megacities in real life, which is depressing. But at least we can turn depressing future portents into present gameable material. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Rad-Hack and Maze Rats PCs

I'm surprised how versatile Maze Rats can be.  I threw up 3 random PCs in its tables and buttons in Adventuresmith, and used that app to generate some stats, and have 3 interesting PCs for a game of The Rad-Hack. (The Rad-Hack has an SRD, which is awesome, but the pdf with art is better.) Even the names are good for a post-apocalyptic, Gamma-World-esque good time.

I would like to thank the random number gods for giving me the most insane stats for a game of The Black Hack.

Orchid Crumpling: Human
Str 11, Dex 15, Con 17
Int 5, Wis 14, Cha 15
10 hp
Profession: farmer
Appearance: Wrinkled, long hair, ceremonial clothes
Personality: Rude
Mannerism: Long Pauses

Trillby Beetleman, Mutant
Str 15, Dex 12, Con 16
Int 16, Wis 16, Cha 14
Hp 5
Adrenal gland
Appearance: Sinewy, missing teeth, undersized clothes.
Personality: Jolly
Mannerism: Flowery speech

Minerva Coffin
Hp 7
Str 4, Dex 12, Con 9
Int 11, Wis 14, Cha 17
Psi blast
Appearance: Slumped, broken nose, patterned clothes
Personality: Sarcastic

Mannerism: Whispers 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Horizon Knight Troika! Background

I forgot to post this forever ago. Daniel made me a thing!

Horizon Knight
You are the disciple of a roving monastic order committed to the preservation of reality. You once sailed from sphere to sphere inside your hermetic fortress, plumbed the depths of non-existance, fusil-lance in hand, engaging in highly abstract combat with the forces of entropy and psycho-oblivion. However one day on returning from an excursion beyond the black rainbow you found your fortress to be gone. In itself not surprising, the fortress goes where it is needed, but to leave behind a Sentionaut is unheard of except in the most desperate situations. Investigation is warranted.

-Fusil lance (as fusil and polearm)
-Environmentally sealed plate armour (heavy armour, grants immunity to environmental effects. Requires recharging with a plasmic core once a week)
-A loyal Squire (6/10/2) who is attached to you via a metal umbilicus, allowing them to benefit from your suit. Can be released with a few minutes fiddling. Their own suit is sealed but cannot function alone.

3 Spell - Life Link
2 Fusil Lance Fighting
2 Astrology
1 Second Sight
1 Climb
1 Run
1 Strength
1 Fly
1 random spell from table 5

2017 is not 2016

For some reason I haven't posted here in a while or run any games or played in any. And not even just because google hangouts no longer want to have anything to do with RPGs and want to be 'enterprisey' and such. Why could it be that I'm not doing any

Oh yeah my wife and I made a tiny person. She is very small and angry. And hungry. She is so itty bitty and little and I try to read to her and she is all, Dad, I am hungry and am too young to listen to Shadow Over Innsmouth. She did make it through At The Mountains of Madness pretty well though.

In 2016 I ran a lot of DCC and then when I got burned out a bit on the gonzo crazy world prep and scheduling, ran some larger-than-life PCs through The Sprawl. Had a lot of fun doing all this, figure DCC isn't quite my favorite system, and now have a hankering to run Lamentations of the Flame Princess, in a proper sandbox. With some of the classic Raggi 'you are horribly mangled' dungeons and fear and such.

So anyway, 2017. I'm not going to run any games this year, in all likelihood, and I doubt I'll play in many, or any. But I have had fun playing Miso RPG, which is this awesome super-light RPG / solo engine / oracle setup. Sophia's RPG is cool as hell and easy to understand.

I combined that with a Sanity usage die, like as in The Black Hack's usage die, and have been writing a lil solo police detective vs Lovecraftian horror thing, which I should write up here sometime. I started my protagonist with d12 sanity, which seemed very, very high, and at some point gave him a -4 to the roll against the main Big Bads, which is way too big of a penalty. Went from 'unflappable' to 'only flapping' very quickly.

I might try something like Zak's Demon City system, where I'd roll a d10 for my character and a d10 for the trauma, and sometimes one side gets an advantage (a police detective has an advantage against normal human horrors, the big bads would get an advantage because it's a dude firing ropey flesh-tendrils from his face and using those to scout and suspend his once-human body in the air). That'd give about a 50/50 chance of fail normally, then it's just a matter of tweaking how many fails you can take before you are completely insane.

Sanity can be regained during a downtime. I roll a d20 and see if it's above the current useage die number - so to go from a d8 to a d10, you have to roll above an 8 on a d20. You can only go up one step per downtime. During downtime, the enemy does something proactive.

If the PC takes any downtime, I come up with some 'enemy action' options (break into the detective's home, try to have a corrupt coworker dispatch him) and use the Miso system to pick one. That also happens if the detective flubs obtaining leads or investigating, a la Hunter/Hunted.

But yeah, that's about all the gaming I can do now - 5 minutes at a time. It's solo or play-by-post, so for now, it's solo. I'll probably give PbP a try at some point, but don't have high hopes, given how slow and fragmentary it can be.