Monday, 29 October 2012

The Betwixt

It's Monstrous Monday so here's my contribution. With so many new creatures already created throughout the month and more due today, I've decided not to add another one to the list, but suggest a way two existing creatures can be combined in a single form.

The Betwixt is an outlandish fusion of two living beings, perhaps the work of a vengeful bolt or a mishandled magic, or capricious spirits stitching together the sleeping with ethereal threads, or a strange attraction in nature, even an outer power.

Tolerances being what they are, a fresh Betwixt may be cast out or hunted down by one or both of its former kin, forced to seek out a remote seclusion or lair. Less often these beings will find some degree of acceptance, perhaps be admired for the gifts gained or revealed, or even worshipped as proof of some formerly abstract ideal. More rarely still, they may bring together two alien peoples as one, shaping the world in their own image.

A Betwixt has a profile on which each stat is an average of the two on the profiles of its constituent beings, rounding down. If one has a stat the other does not, this is its usual level. In addition, a Betwixt retains any original abilities not prevented by the new nature.

If the constituent beings survive long enough, they will grow into their new form, and may become potent indeed: each appropriate period of time following their fusion - perhaps a week, perhaps a year - each stat improves by one point to the best of the two originals.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Conan, Frankenstein's monster, trenches and Chaos

Looking through blogs here and there today, and at subjects being discussed - Conan, Frankenstein, trenches, Chaos - I get to wondering: am I a barbarian, built of reclaimed bits of popular culture, hiding away from an outer inner darkness I won't face? Are you?

Here's some recommended reading: read the future. Start by reading between the lines and it's not so hard to do. There's a lot going on in between those lines. Read the future and if it's not escapism you're getting, it might be worth deciding - can the you of today live in that world? Because if we don't put in some work between those lines, ourselves, we might just end up so well adapted to that future we won't even know what happened.

Might just get a sense of something not quite li-  But still, play the games we played as kids, read and watch the same things, as if nothing happened. Nothing happened. As if.

Just breaking one or two fifth walls - or maybe a sixth?

Thursday, 25 October 2012

40K OSR? (21)

More 40K OSR? We know what 40K is, or think we do, but what's an OSR? Still a good question.

If you're part of it, feel free to use Colonel Kane's logo, here to the right, and think about linking to their exemplary blog Tales from the Maelstrom.

Since the last update Major Hazzard has posted an Eldar shuttle and crew - with spirit warriors.

And there's more of that heresy right here...

  • Staying on the subject of playing at smaller scales, Relic at Lead Space has 1, 2, 3 more 6mm Epic Crimson Fists models for use in skirmish games, ...

Also worthy of mention, Rob at Warhammer 39,999 is selling a large range of classic miniatures for various 40K armies and some fantasy, with the final day being Sunday.

I have a contribution this time too, the introductory post to a series on developing 40K the wargame into an easy-start RPG, with or without a GM. The next part isn't far off.

If you think I've missed anything, leave a link in the comments, even to your own work.

Update: In the comments scottsz has a link to Angel Barracks, where there's 6mm with possible counts-as squigs, a wheeled chimera-like chassis and various humans.

I also want to mention Dave G's weekly updates at Wargaming Tradecraft, which very often link to fan-made art, and BoLS this week had a Necron piece with a timelapse.

And I've just seen Curis at Ninjabread recently posted on building a Squat force - the Furnace Valley Brotherhood - with some newly-painted classics and current stats.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Rogue Space - Splinter Shield

I haven't done very much for Rogue Space lately, so here's a field type I came up with a while ago inspired by the Shields Shall be Splintered! rule.

Splinter Shield

A splinter shield projector is a compact device based on the coalescence technologies developed in Oboric planar travel, initially adapted to the Chargers of Rrrn Y. It is often worked into a chestplate or pendant and converts kinetic energy into shards of matter.

An individual with a splinter shield gains 1 point of Protection against ranged attacks, a hit from which sprays the area with apical shards: for each point of Damage caused by the hit, the radius of this area is 5' and there is a 1 in 6 chance of each target within it - except the individual protected - being struck by an attack doing 1D3 points of Damage.

For example, if 4 points of Damage are caused by a ranged attack, anyone up to 20' from the individual protected is hit on a roll of 1-4 on 1D6, suffering if so 1D3 Damage.

In addition, if the total Damage done by a ranged attack is 6 points or more, the shield fails after the hit is resolved, collapsing into 2D6 splinters, each with the following profile.

 Coalesced splinter      -     S      Brittle: one use; wielder loses first 1 HP if any Dam.

There's a bigger, nominally Rogue Space project on the way too, involving the excellent Lithus Sector, and from here the Trippies and Orəq especially. I'll be trailing that soon...


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Where does a Maelstrom go?

Hereticwerks recently looked at the Maelstrom in gaming, with ideas for treating it as a monster or hazard to navigation, a basis for a terrain piece.

They also suggested it could be a gateway, maybe to a strange sea, or even a Weak Point between the worlds, possibly one of the more final Ends.

I'll definitely add this take on it to the Ends list, but it would be good to explore the idea and get some options, maybe a table to roll on for each descent.

That could be used in roleplaying for an encounter, or in weird wargaming for a campaign event, maybe as a way to move a long-term game to a new setting or transform it. In fiction overall it could be a good source of inspiration.

As an example destination, the original post gives the fluidic space of Voyager's species 8472, and I suggest it could be somewhere a flood washes up, like the Deadly Desert in Return to Oz, or that a traveller could become a water baby, as in the novel or 1978 film.

Like the portals list and the Ends itself, it's a good subject to crowdsource. If you have a suggestion, leave a comment. I'll expand the table and credit you with a link.

     The descent into the Maelstrom... (1d8)
  1. ... carries the traveller into fluidic space. (Hereticwerks)
  2. ... washes the traveller up in the Deadly Desert.
  3. ... transforms the traveller into a water baby.
  4. ... becomes a water chute pouring into a cavern holding a galleon, an Inferno.
  5. ... with a hideous pause on the very threshold of bearability gives way to a cataract of surging, turgid unseen green waters cascading with a mighty roar into the heart of a fog-bound estuary just on the very verge of visibility. Some place long abandoned. Deserted. But very much alive. (garrisonjames)
  6. ... wakes the traveller - who is afloat and wired up in a sensory deprivation tank.
  7. ... fades to calm as the traveller emerges from a long-overgrown spawning pool.
  8. ... builds to a convulsion, ejecting the traveller either into or from a bodily cavity.

There's more inspiration in the original post, and the first for the Ends could also help.

Update: Entries 4+ are being added now, as per this post

Update: All done - it's now one of the Ends.

Friday, 19 October 2012

New genres A-Z - from archeopunk to zombie derival

Here then are all of the entries for the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2012, 26 posts with the theme of possible new genres for fiction, maybe in gaming but also beyond it. Some are deadly serious, others may just be silly, but as so often, it depends on you - the person.

The underpinning was this debate, on themes that have been running through a lot of the posting at the Expanse, and the discussion has spun out across the months. The latest instalment could be this recent back-and-forth. Feel free to join in, anywhere and -when.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Apocalypse come (1) - Your actual eaters of worlds

In sixth edition 40K some factions can only ally come an apocalypse. Trouble is, a 41st millennium apocalypse might just end up being moar of everything available, rather than something suitably eschatological and worthy of the game that gave us Realm of Chaos.

But then a lot of apocalypses can seem fairly samey. In an effort to help I thought I'd run a series with a few slightly lesser-spotted ideas, but not for any one system or setting.

The first theme I've had in mind a few weeks, but a comment at BoLS recently prompted me to post. The context was the idea that the new Horus Heresy releases mean people start playing what is effectively a new game - Warhammer 30,000 - just space marine on space marine. The commenter joked there could be a Warhammer 50K of Tyranids only.

In case this is all new to you, and don't feel bad about that, the Tyranids are a biological, self-evolving, nomadic civilisation from the intergalactic gulfs or beyond, directed by their psychic hive mind. They consume pretty much everything and evolve around problems.

That was a pretty freaky idea once, but today, for me - and without the infiltration of the genestealer cults especially - they're just a more colourful, general purpose armed force.

So how to get the horror back, but without the cult body horror? It could be by homing in on the broader existential aspects, and going for a more save-or-die cosmological tone.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Find that blog!

It's been quiet at the blogs lately. Not so many people are posting, and not as often as they did, and it seems there aren't so many newer blogs either. A lot of posts seem related directly or not to all those Chaos marines, or Dwimmermount, or new monsters.

(I'm not digging the new Chaos for various reasons, on the subject of Dwimmermount I like empty space, partly for this reason, and I love homebrew stuff like the monsters.)

I'm guessing it's just the cold and the darkness, an autumnal, getting-back-into-college blip. Trouble is, this could set off a downward spiral of less reason to check in, less jumping from blog to blog, so less traffic and fewer comments as positive reinforcement, which could mean bloggers spending more time away, or elsewhere, or just moving on.

In case it isn't the time of year, and to brighten things up, I want to enlist the help of one of the most consistently stimulating gaming bloggers I've had the pleasure to read. The posts are in my view generally excellent, often very rigorous and at times highly personal. They push the limits too. The person likes the games that many of us do, and is knowledgeable and engaging, and a theorist and philosopher. So who is it?

Monday, 8 October 2012

Skyrim and the horizon

On Saturday Dylan at Digital Orc wrote that he hasn't been playing video games much lately, and compared movies, roleplaying and novels as media, while Stuart Lloyd wrote about an old ST game called Mystic Well, a simple example of a digital dungeon crawl.

Coincidentally, on the same day I also watched some videos of a player running through stretches of Skyrim with a good knowledge of the earlier Elder Scrolls games. He had a thoughtful approach to the morality of the sides in what's still a very modern insurrection, and took the time to edit and polish the series in line with the general tone of the game.

Skyrim seems to encourage this kind of thinking. In Mystic Well historical terms, it feels like a Lure of the Temptress meets a Frontier: Elite 2 for depth and scope, with few easy answers. Although Jim joins the Empire out of pragmatism - and an odd lack of dialogue options - he's not entirely happy, and hopes there could one day be a return of religious tolerance, but presumably doesn't expect so subtle an approach will be accommodated.

But when he's there as the leader of the uprising is executed, an incautious comment by another character suggests there is hope, as if the designers did think it all through. The game seems happy for a player to take no side, and an armistice can be negotiated too.

This and the overall complexity, from politics through terrain, weather and encounters to picking flowers and even tasting bees, makes me think any options missing in the game might be not so much limits of thought or technology, just space for a future instalment.

Where am I going with this? As in Skyrim, it may be near incidental, but there is a point.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Appendix OSR (2)

I've been reading The Secret History of Star Wars on a now mysterious Marcia Lucas and thinking.

Thinking it's another good text for that reading list.

Thinking we may think we create, and do, but not so much as we might like to think we do. We can hold worlds in our heads (with art or miniatures to help maybe, and numbers etc.), but mostly these are variations on this world even when they're not.

And how well do we actually know this one..? Or each other's version? Do we even know our own?