Friday, May 25, 2018

Quill Whitebox Crewing Sky Pirate Actual Play

Renald, esteemed magic-user and writer of wonderous words, having escaped the Tandalosian prison moon, finds himself crewing on a sky pirate's ship. Everything is wonderful but nevertheless he is planning out a new place to go.

(My language rolls look like this (456 +1), indicating I rolled 3d6 and got a 4, 5, and 6, allowing me to use a superior word and get a plus 1 for the letter. I often forget to try to use a flourish, but when I do, an F:1 indicates the flourish and roll for it.)

Dearest Boory - 

I hope this missive finds you well! Rufus and I find ourselves working upon the Old Hand, near  Horus' Marker (145 +1), and I was wondering, if you can find the time and space, if we can leave Captain Windsong's delightful vessel and visit you for a time. P: 5,4 +1

We may bring a few friendly will o' wisps, as they reneged on their deal with the captain - well, with me, acting as the captain. They have stayed on to be close to me! Fortunately the crew, who cannot possibly spy on these letters, have been the soul of understanding. They haven't even blamed the last sky squid attack on my 'devil magic' and my 'whispering hell lights' (245 +1). Though they have jokingly presented these colorful phrases. P: 6, 3 +1

Nor has the sighting of a Tandalos destroyer been laid at my feet (466 +1), for failing to summon a sufficient storm. As I told the crew, the Tandalos bloodhound half-golems can't possibly track one through the skies and aether. P: 1,1

Besides, all the crew saw me lead the defense against Tandalos boarders, when they flew in on a flight skiff at night, charging onto the decks, their vibro-cutlasses held aloft! (F: 2, 626 +1) They were very well-disciplined; they didn't scream their war-cries until they were almost atop me. I was on watch, you see. It's not as though they make me sleep above-deck because of my 'evil eye.' (No penmanship yet)

As an aside, my face, scalp, hands and feet are now covered in black line-art tattoos thanks to some gangers from the prison with some insight into metaphysics, and/or raving madness. However, despite the gangers' strange thought patterns, the tattoos function quite well as mystic armor, and repelled a sword blow or three as I summoned a strong enough aether wind to wash away some of the boarders. The Old Hand teetered and rocked as I did so, and the crew came to my aid, for which I am eternally grateful. P: 5,2 +1

After the fight was over, I and an older crewman set to swabbing the deck. I found a gem pistol (undischarged) in the coil of rope I had napped in, and Benjamos, the crewman, taught me a slow, low shanty (F: 3, 343). I'd love to sing it for you, so write back if I can room, perhaps, in your hidden basement? P: 4, 4 +1 (because magic user)

The wisps are humming now. I'll nod off soon. See you in a fortnight, hopefully!


Score: 9

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Quill Whitebox Scenario: Aboard a Sky Pirate's Ship

You are crewing on Captain Windsong's vessel, the Old Hand, earning your way elsewhere. Windsong is an honorable man by pirate standards, and runs a tight ship. Old friend or not, there are no passengers, only crew or prisoners. So you are now crew. You will contribute to the well-being of the skyboat or you will be marooned.

Profile: You have another old friend in the region, Boory al-Safufi, a person of letters who dwells in a small college upon a bucolic island. It's possible she could take you in for a few weeks while you seek out less piratical, more direct transportation.

Ink Pot

air kraken / sky squid
old coins / millenial doubloons
old island / Horus' Marker
 gliding varmit / saileater
enemy vessel / Tandalosian destroyer
privateers / anti-pirate task force
boarding gear / glide harness
sword / vibro-cutlass
cat / good luck charm
shanty / Rum's Blues
crystal / engine heart
bylaws / pirate's code
cargo / spider silks
refugees / fleeing Antillians


5-: You are marooned.
6-9: 20gp, an alright haul, and some of the crew even like you
10+: 40gp, cask of rum, the crew will miss you

Quill Sky Jail Actual Play

Dearest Captain Windsong - 

I find myself imprisoned Northish and below Antillus, in a Tandalos prison moon (355, +1), and urgently request your aid. I believe the transmit crystal I've found will allow me to describe a way for you to both rescue me, and profit. P: 3, 4 (+1)

The moon is a tiny, ugly fist of stone, orbiting a larger island of waterfalls and jungle. Within the fist's clutches are many hair-fine veins of adamantium (456, +1), and every week shipments are lashed to the surface and collected by a mildly-armed transport. This shipment's lashings could be cut a day early - the prison has no vessel which could easily collect the entire shipment, and through my magic I could waft some of the crates and myself to the island. P: 2, 5 (+1)

The dominant group in my sector, the packing quadrant, are a group of crazed gangers (231) who spout philosophical drivel. I have nevertheless ensorcelled a lieutenant in their midst, who will help me gain access to the crates before they are nailed shut. All he asks is that I become a semi-member via the application of a few tattoos. P: 3, 4 (+1)

I have also made a pact with the native spark spirits (445, +1), who now hide deep within the mine. They will help confuse the moon's exterior sensorium during my jettisoning, in exchange for passage off the moon and on your vessel. They ask only that we find them the nearest uninhabited moon to dwell upon. Given that they will help me escape and you gain valuable ore, I have agreed to their terms. P: 3, 5 +1

I must carry out my escape within 3 weeks - I fear by then they will discover my magus soul and bring me before some horrid device (F: 4, 243), in order to animate another ticking clockwork soldier. P: 4, 1 +1

Please come before then, for myself and your adamantium.

Yours in Hope,

PS Rufus, my cat, is also aboard the moon, and would obviously come with me. Cheers!

Score: 7, escaped!

Quill White Box: Prison in the Sky, Clockwork Automata Class

Captured by Tandalos magitech automata, you were transported via a black iron skyship to a small prison moon, where you may expect a life of forced labor or conversion to a clockwork golem, in time. But you've managed to steal back your writing gear and a sending crystal.

Profile: A pirate or privateer in the area, Captain Lest Windsong, is known to you, and could aid your escape if you can describe it well. The interior of the moon, where you now reside, is maze-like. The empire filled it with territorial gangs, while machine-clad guards stand aloof, preventing escape but not violence.

Ink Pot
PA / iron speaker crystal
ichor / crimson ferrofluid
crazed gangers / Last Thought monks
arresting magic / anti-riot halt invocation
sublevel / dank underwarren
will o' wisps / native spark sprites
elder guardsman / Bloody Red McDermont
fight / rowdy brawl
store / illicit canteen
ore / adamantium
poster / escape tunnel
the hole / converted torture chamber
horrid device / soulthresher
jail / prison moon

5-: You do not escape, and are converted to a magitech automata via the soulthresher. You wake up in 1d6 years as a Freed Clockwork Automata, see below

6-9: You manage to steal 15 gp in your escape for yourself.

10+: You manage to steal 30 gp and can take +1 to 2 rolls in the Captain Windsong's Vessel letter.

Freed Clockwork Automata

Heart: 1 die
Penmanship: 3 dice
Language: 2 dice.

Overdrive: 3 times per letter, you may add a bonus die to a roll. You may add multiple bonus die to a roll, and can use these after rolling your normal dice. You overclock your internal magitech network of energy, emitting smoke and steam, but thankfully not anywhere near the parchment upon which you write.

You've been lost in your shell's combat katas for at least a year, degrading your ability to use flourishes to draw people in with your passion. Inside the vessel, your feelings wash over you as though from a great distance. Each letter you write is as precisely executed as your combat routines, aiding your penmanship. You inbuild word repository is more than adequate for parsing orders, but the memory buffer you have may constrain the vocabulary you could otherwise recall.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Quill White Box: Sky City Under Attack

Antillus, one of the great Sky Cities, is under attack. The Tandalos Empire's airships have blockaded the city and landed marines and clockwork golems to capture the Queen and her prince, destroy the city guard, and lay claim to the capitol of the Azure Skyway.

Profile: You are describing your actions during the attack to a friend, M'Kala Brightborn - you either escape from the city or bunker down to carry out guerrilla attacks. M'Kala grows blockade-running seedships and could get supplies in, or provide you with the means to get further away from the city.

Ink Pot
fires / raging conflagration
broke / sundered
footsoldiers / Tandalos Marines Bevel Division
alley / shadowy lane
elevator / venerable lift
safehouse / discreet
airboat / willowy skysloop
golem / magitech automata
tunnel / Builder's vent
weapons / humming armament
comms / speaking crystal

5 or less: You are captured before any supplies or seedships can arrive. See JAILBREAK scenario

6-9: A seedship arrives in a fairly timely fashion. 15 gp in supplies arrive.

10+: 30 gp in supplies arrive from a stealthy, agile seedship. 

Writ by Renald, Sorcerer
Heart: 1 die
Penmanship: 2 die
Language: 3 die

Dearest M'Kala -

I awoke to the airships of the Tandalos Empire pouring fire into buildings and roads nearby. From my balcony, as I stood dumbstruck, I could see their footsoldiers marching in the streets, clearing buildings, fighting our guardsmen. P: 1, 1

I draped my robes about me and drew the fire of my Will close. I put Rufus in the armored cat carrier you sent - thank you again for that! Opening my apartment door, I was facing a blade-handed magitech automata (+1). P: 6, 4

It drew back its slender, black iron limb, but I was swifter, electricity cracking from my gesturing hand into it. I believe the Empire had spied out the homes of at least some of us war veterans - why else would this thing come calling to my door? Pondering such over the slagged heap of ceramic and ore, I headed to the venerable lift (+1), a Builder-relic which always calms me with its strange music. I took it to the sub-basement, but my fears were such that I scarce noticed its sounds. P: 4, 4 (+1)

I sought the inter-building tunnel connection and heard echoing retorts of firearms, screams, shouted orders. Truly it must be Tandalos spies which let them take the city, if they had already begun to use our subterranean infrastructure to move about. P: 6, 1 (+1)

I happened upon Klos and some of his fellow guardsmen - we now seek a cache of humming armaments (+1) with which we will strike back against these Tandalos cowards. M'Kala, if you can, we desperately need a seedship of supplies from you. Only yours are subtle enough to skip through the blockade. I fear that without your help, our efforts will be for naught. P: 3, 1

- Renald

5 points, a failure. Renald is captured and jailed, and I write from the Jailbreak scenario.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fighting Former Presidents

I had too weird of a dream to not write it up. I think I've read and thought about cyber ninjas too much. (In progress Black Hack cyber ninja game wooo)

Using foul magics, an unknown group tried to kill me and my son. We investigated, and found out who the nefarious bastards were: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. We confronted them in my high school library, where they were idly surfing the internet. I asked if we could take things outside, to reduce civilian casualties, and they agreed. We met across the street, in a golf course (not actually across the street from my high school library).

"I want to thank you two for coming," I said, as Lincoln struck a kung fu pose. He nodded graciously, smiling. "But I can't thank you for your attempt on my life, on my son's life!" I shouted. His visage was filled with rage. He charged me.

I remember fighting him off. I was thrown into the air by Washington, but in true anime ninja style, I pushed off the air and rocketed down at him, feet first. Just before I could crush him, Lincoln grabbed my ankles and held me aloft by them. He laughed cruelly.

Washington went after my son, and Lincoln, though weighed down by me, began swinging me about like a club.

He eventually tired of trying to hit my son with me, and hurled me away. When I recovered and rushed back, they were holding my son down, trying to break his knee. I superman leapt at Washington. I slammed into him and the sky and green tumbled around us. We found ourselves in a sand trap, grappling.

Washington drew a 1911 pistol from his coat and I grabbed his wrist just as he fired. Sand exploded around me as the gun fired again and again. With my free hand I grabbed his throat and crushed it. Washington died with a surprised look on his face. I took up his gun.

Lincoln was grappling my son as I rose from the trap.

"It's over, Lincoln!"

He pushed away from my boy (obligatory God of War BOI yell). He stood up, glaring at me.

"You don't understand. Four score and seven years ago, a great prophesy -"

I shot Lincoln in the chest. I didn't need to hear why he was in the right. I just needed to save my son.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Techno-Psychic Samurai Hack

This is a combination of ideas from The Black Hack and Techno-Psychic Samurai. And watching actual plays of Metal Gear Rising. I have not playtested anything yet, use at your own risk. This isn't done either - I need to think through cyberware and psychic powers a bit, action feat-things you may gain when you level, etc.

Vat-Grown Ronin

You are a vat-grown samurai, or a human head and partial face atop a robotic body. You do not roll for your attributes, your manufacturers tried to leave nothing to chance. Despite their best efforts, you have regained or created your own will and purpose. You are a ronin.


Samurai: Used for fighting and etiquette

Techno: Interface with technology, use implants if necessary, hack, etc. Used to sneak through laser tripwires or past robots or security cameras.

Psychic: Your ability to sense others chi fields, read their intent, and use esper powers. Used to sneak around organic entities.

Philosophizing: Used to debate others, try to sway them to your point of view or distract them before a dishonorable sneaky attack.

Assign: 15, 13, 11, 9 to the four stats.

You begin with 22 hit points. You have 4 hit dice for the purposes of fighting.

(Edit: optional thoughts. I want to cap stat growth at 16, after running the Rad Hack for some kids who rolled really well. Just so even at best there's a chance of failure. Or - stats and HP do not grow as you level up. You can switch any two attributes when you level up, if you can explain why it happened.)

You advance mechanically by gaining some abilities (esper, feat-things) that should be more about having different options for approaching problems, rather than just 'fight moar better.' Which happens anyway, in the sense that a 6HD enemy gets easier to solo when you advance.

You roll-under your stats to do things, just like in the Black Hack. Enemies with higher HD than you are harder to hit or debate - add the difference between their HD and yours to the roll.

All weapons and trained unarmed attacks do 1d6 damage. Some weapons or cyberfists can expend chi batteries to add +1 or +2 to the roll. This is a nod to Tenra Bansho Zero, another inspiration. Philosophizing can also do damage; see conflict, below.


Combat and conflicts are a little different - you describe what you do and that happens. You can't describe insta-gibbing someone though, but you can describe hits, damage, and the like. You do this before you roll any dice, and what you say happens. You then roll to hit and roll damage as normal, but these things are about reducing one side's narrative control, rather than rolling to figure out what you can describe.

If your enemy runs out of HP after rolling and subtracting HP, you get to narrate how you win - knocking them out, killing them, them running off. You might have whittled them down via philosophizing, and they may become friendlier to your cause.

If the enemy still has HP, the enemy gets to do the same thing in the next round - throwing you through a wall, beating you with a sword and spraying blood around, shaking your convictions to the core with some argument. HP are a measure of whether you get to keep narrating in the conflict or not. This is an idea from Norbert over here, where he probably describes it better than I do.

esper powers


example enemies