Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Rival in the Sky

Not every operator in the Free Skies is motivated by conscience or political agenda.  Some do it for the thrill while others chase cold, hard cash. Desdemona Fairchild is the latter.  The family fortune squandered by her father's gambling debts, she gives nothing away for free and doesn't play well with others.  This inability to share keeps her from assembling a team, often piggybacking on the operations of larger teams and stealing the loot out form under them.
[Core Concept: One Woman Team, Flaw: Greed is Good]

Often the only sign she's in the area is her custom aeroplane, the Mischief Maker, circling overhead.  The plane's Autonomous Intelligence, Ariel, delights in the challenge presented by overwhelming odds and evading pursuit in the nick of time.  Unfortunately she likes the sound of her own voice, sometimes distracting the pilot.
[The Mischief Maker- A Sopwith Camel with the additional Aspects - Core: One of a Kind, Flaw: Chatty Cathy]

Adventure!: The Mischief Maker lands on the Condor, shot up and Ariel is freaking out.  Desdemona had attempted to heist the Ring of the Nibelungen, a heist the players were still planning, but the Black Cross caught her before she could escape.  She is now in the depths of their impenetrable iceberg fortress, being treated to the cruelties of their resident mad scientist, Dr. Grimm.

The larger threat posed by Ms. Fairchild's capture is her extensive knowledge of the Free Skies Asylums and other anarchist flotillas.  Having spurned the thin protections of nationality, they are prime targets for a paramilitary force like the Black Cross.  Without that support network, the Condor would be unable to continue its campaign.

Is this a rescue mission or an assassination?

Next: The Black Cross!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Night Gallery

Night Gallery will house thumbnails of future projects, let me know which you'd be interested in seeing more of and I'll go into more detail.  Future installments will develop an earlier campaign frame with either a mystery, an NPC, a location, etc.  I'll fold earlier campaign frames such as The Condor, Fall of Camazotz, Wicked West, etc. into this as well.

Between - In the Lost Age when Meat comingled with Shadow the Tribe's greatest tool was The Word and Old Night was Young; the Tribe lost her greatest Heroes to the Scourge.  A Beast so terrible is defies description the Tribe nearly scattered when they got word.  Luckily for the Tribe and the Elders a new generation will be undertaking their Rite and claiming their Names.  By taking a Name the Young become the Word and transcend the limits of Meat anchoring Shadow.  The Scourge is coming.  It may be behind the far hill or in the near valley but it will be Here before you know.

System- Icons an elegant, effects based superhero game that's available online.  FATE's emphasis on fiction would parallel the setting's emphasis on language and naming.

Inspiracion- John Harper's The Wildlings, New Mutants' Demon Bear saga, Turok, Tengger Cavalry, Noah, The Quest for Fire

Magnum Opus- The War to End All Wars has torn the heart from European Empire.  The frontiers are choked with tortured steel, scattered limbs, and unheard prayer.  Even the mystical Guardians, seduced by martial glory, lie entombed in earthworks. Smelling opportunity, an entire generation of hungry American mystics flock to  Europe's capital cities, eager to begin their own Great Works and plunder the shattered halls of power.  Ignorant of ancient pacts, they shine new light on aged bones, recover lost knowledge and unleash horrors thought destroyed.

System-  Probably the Cypher System, the {Descriptor}{Class}who{Focus} provides plenty of options while straddling the idea of magic as superpower vs. magic as resource.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bloggin' Forecast

Life's been incredibly hectic but all that's behind me.  I'm back on the keyboard, looking forward to posting with greater regularity. To that end, you can find the blog outline below:

Mystery! - Unraveling deceit, smut, vice, and base criminality kicks off the week.  Largely systemless, I'll tag any specifics in the title and the footer.  Expect a criminal, a method, and the last time the bastard screws up.

Night Gallery - Most previous posts revolved around world building in bullet points.  No reason to change, these posts will be system specific and run as long as interest holds.  Maybe I'll collect them into a pdf or something.

Fight Night - Have you watched Every Frame a Painting's "In Praise of Chairs"? If you haven't, you can find it here.  I'll wait.  When was the last time you had a fight in you campaign and the environ told you something?  Let's fix that and have the setting reflect character even in abscence.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Calm Before the Storm

I haven't blogging as much over the last two months or so, because other projects have taken my focus.  Since my birthday in April I've been running my Southern Gothic MotWeek campaign, Tumbleson County, within earshot of a microphone.  Most of my free time has been consumed with co-production (editing, voice over, etc.) and we're hoping to have it ready for weekly release come Thanksgiving.  For more information, you can check out our network page here.

Not yet a link

Thursday, October 20, 2016

RPG Blog Carnival: Potions and Patent Medicine

The stoppered glass bottle is synonymous with alchemy and its base unit: the potion.  The majority of adventure games relegate it to resource refresh, restoring lost health and mana.  A universal consumable that taxes the characters economically, and only extends their survival.  That's boring.

The historical practice of alchemy, like sympathetic magic, is an untapped vein of weirdness in tabletop games.  Whether mystic protochemistry or an occult recipe for gnosis this system of protoscientific philosophy is full of possibility. I'll focus on mystical protochemistry, since pursuing the Magnum Opus is more structural than material in games.  Often consumable magic is already present, or can be added with little effort, in the form of drugs, pharmaceuticals, and quack medicine.  Magical cocktails like those served in SwitchFlipped or the sorcerous shine sold in speakeasies in A Criminal Magic are two examples of the potion as drug.

In Wicked West you are occult prospectors who exploit the Otherworlds and introduce them to the power of gun.  Your greed and opportunistic actions poison the Tree of Life, and worst of all -you aren't alone.

In the Wicked West, potions are patent medicine by another name and just a few of the varied products you can get from the Medicine Show.  Alchemical concoctions serve a variety of functions with a range of quality from Poor (-1) to Good (+3), roll when you deploy it to determine how effective the admixture goes.  Quacks don't practice the most rigorous QC on their admixtures

Epoxies - An adhesive resin composed of two separate chemicals separated in the bottle by a thin wall, you can throw the container or pour out the contents. Creates the Aspect "Glued in Place" that can be compelled once for free to prevent the target from moving.  If you succeed with style "Glued in Place" can be compelled twice.

Infusions - Various plants and animals contain chemical and sympathetic qualities that can be leeched from them via submersion in alcohol, oil, or water.  When consumed they create a minion skill in FAE at the infusion's quality, example: drinking an Average Unicorn Horn Infusion gives the character Resist Toxins +0.

Solvents - Industrial solvents and acids can be used to eat through most obstacles, rolling the concoction's quality determines the amount of time it takes to work through the process.  If you apply heat, you can also use a solvent as a gas attack.

Unguents - Greasy ointments, most are refined from animal fats and used to coat the body.  Demand for these are high, especially among prospectors heading into known Spheres with dangerous environments.  For example, an unguent made from Uktena grease allows you to breathe underwater and grants 1 point of ablative armor.

 RPG Blog Carnival
This month's RPG Blog Carnival theme is potions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tumbleson County Glossary Part 2

 All the different monsters I've made list various keywords as Powers.  Here's the context and mechanics for Tumbleson County's haints and monsters. 

Tumbleson County is a God-fearing patch of Earth on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, too bad God forgot all about them.  The hunters are townsfolk, young and old, fighting to keep their town together.  Ghosts of a damnable past, and a bloodier future, rise up beneath the boughs and rotten plantation roofs sending it all tumbling down. 
Necromancer- Derived from the Etruscan tradition of communing with the dead, necromancy was once a sacred art.  True masters can do more than interrogate bones, they can command and control the mortal remains. Since the coming of Christianity the Black Art has become taboo.  Once a necromancer puts out the call, the dead rise for the next 2d6 moves.

Norn- To the layman the future is an open field of possibilities, to the fortune teller it’s a get rich scheme, to the oracle a nebulous cloud of events but, to the norn, the future is as straight forward as a railroad track.  If the hunters have earned a norn's ire then Doom is shortly at hand.  When a norn is the source of Keeper moves, then hunters have to spend an additional point of Luck to gain any benefits.

Oracle- Participating in an ecstatic tradition of seeing the future, oracular visions are a hurley-burley of conflicting images and actions.  Disorganized and conflicting from the onset, an experienced oracle massages the barrage into a rough sequence.  

Otherside- The Otherworld, Hell, the Umbra, or the Upside Down; whatever you call it the Otherside is a rough place where everything is backwards and more literal.  Left is right and right is wrong. Home to carnivorous entities such as Eidolons, 
Invert the stats rolled for moves, ex: roll +weird instead of +charm and vice versa.

Ourside- To describe Ourside as the physical world is short-selling the wondrous reality surrounding human minnows.  So much of the human mind's daily processes revolve around locking the doors of perception and staying mercifully disorganized. When you look to closely at the world, the world look back.  Attracting unwelcome attention is a soft move in Tumbleson County.

Shapeshifter-  Supernatural entities rarely hold fidelity to form, their flesh changes on a whim.  This makes corporal destruction a daunting task, especially out in the woods.  Sometimes the only way to be sure is setting a forest fire. But that comes with its own complications.

Silver Tongue- Some, like the Biblical Aaron, can sell ice to Eskimos and charm the Sun from the sky.  These golden calves are dangerous to themselves and others.  Like the Boy Who Cried Wolf they wear their veracity thin.  Any creature with this quality is a font of unvarnished truth and sincerity, until provided contradictory information hunters do not doubt them.

Sin-Eater- What's become an Appalachian tradition has its roots in the English hinter country.  Through the consumption of a ritual meal, a single person takes on the sins of a household.  In Tumbleson County, only the most trusted are allowed to perform the practice as it peels back the mask of gentility and reveals the family's myriad sins.  Sin-Eaters are a trove of discrete evils and possible blackmail.

Skin Thief- The dead don't need their covering and evil men desire to mask their sins.  With a prepared ungent, human skin, and the light of the full moon; a man may become a monster.  While wrapped in the stolen form, their conscience is suppressed and their ill thoughts spill forth.  Grotesque tableaus and violent crimes spring in the wake of skin thievery, graverobbing is just the first sign.

Spirits- Tormented echoes, whether once a dream or a living thing.  A torturous death produces a more powerful haint.  There isn’t any set form, the only thing they share is permeability.  Spirits gain power by kludging together but they then lose focus and threaten their long term existence as unfinished business becomes a poison of mass distraction. The monster moves through solid objects without hindrance and can drag hunters with them as a soft move, leaving them partly in as a hard move (5-harm)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tumbleson County Glossary Part 1

 All the different monsters I've made list various keywords as Powers.  Here's the context and mechanics for Tumbleson County's haints and monsters.

Tumbleson County is a God-fearing patch of Earth on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, too bad God forgot all about them.  The hunters are townsfolk, young and old, fighting to keep their town together.  Ghosts of a damnable past, and a bloodier future, rise up beneath the boughs and rotten ceiling beams sending it all tumbling down.

Eidolon- The Greek word for apparitions, describes immaterial entities of the Otherside too great to exist on Ourside without flesh to anchor them.  Unembodied, the best they can do is leer from mirrors and other reflective surfaces. The monster always deals at least 2 points of harm, regardless of spending Luck.

Emanation- Supernaturally potent beings composing Ourside, often clothed in religious symbolism and described as gods or angels.  They command a particular portfolio of earthly properties but overlapping identities.  They will bend an ear to human supplication, but are otherwise uninterested in our mayfly existence. Confronting an Emanation causes it to passively assault your bits that fall under its sway (mark unstable, cannot be reduced.) Ie, Mother Mud causes your fertility to literally rot out of your body.

Embodied- When and Eidolon is anchored to a prepared vessel.  Could be the work of others or a supplicant.  Once embodied, our perceptions invert around the Eidolon’s true nature.  For example, Kindness is anything but sensitive to our feelings. Embodied Eidolons unleash a death curse as they're slain.
Face of Innocence- The mask of civility and normalcy remains in place because people are desperate for pacifying routine.  Some monsters prey on this weakness, blending in with the masses and obscuring their true nature to hunters.  The monster in indistinguishable from bystanders, unless a hunter exposes themselves to the true horror of reality.

Great and Terrible- Some monsters clothe themselves in atavistic fear, provoking fight or flight response in onlookers.  Hunters take -1 forward until a 10+ Acting Under Pressure breaks the fear.

ImmortalSome things are just too ornery to take the Reaper's hand, clinging to life with terrible tenacity.  This monster takes -1 harm even if the attack is armor peircing.

Juggernaut/Leviathan:  Some foes are so great that the usual tools for killing aren't up to the task.  Can only be harmed by weapons and effects with the messy tag.

Magus- Well read and learned in the dark wisdom, magi are incredibly dangerous foes to hunt. Able to bend the forces of magic and the weird to their will, the best prepared hunters are underequipped. The Keeper applies Use Magic Backlashes with soft and hard moves.

Mesmerism- Popularly known as hypnotism, meserism is concious communication with the subconcious mind.  Implanting suggestions, manipulating memory, seeding new habits or abolishing old ones; these are only the surfaceHunters start missing time, God only knows what evil they've wrought in those lost minutes.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The River Remembers

 Old Man River
The River flows through both Sides, bearing wisdom, greedy for Sky, and jealous of its past. It remembers strangling the Land for forty days and forty nights. When its grasp was broken, it took everything it could carry to the bottom.  The River longs to hold and cherish everything again, never letting go.  Its agents work to complete the River's collection one piece at a time.

The Hellion- a cursed river boat casino, "do what thou wilt" is the only rule until you're caught cheating the House.  The ship is staffed by the Union soldiers forced into the River, fleeing the Harmans' night of vicious revelry.  Passage is negotiated at the crossroads by the Burnt Up Church Place, a night on the Hellion is ephemeral and costly.
Monstrous Motivation Queen
Spirit, Juggernaut
Harm-  Bloated Boys in Blue 2-harm, messy, loud, ranged Armor- Warped wood armor-2 Health: 12 Health  
Unique Moves

The House Always Wins- When a hunter rolls 10+ the Keeper still makes a soft move. 
Stoke the Fires - When a hunter rolls +Weird, increase the harm caused by the bloated boys in blue by 1 or heal the Hellion 1 Health. 

Salome LaBeija- an agent of chaos and a seer, she uses Kindness' left eye as a crystal ball. She now dwells on the Hellion, since she was drowned in the River, offering self-fulfilling prophecies and cold reading.  Salome's upper vertebrae were harvested for gris-gris, coveted all over the region for their myriad properties.
Monstrous Motivation Trickster
Face of Innocence, Oracle, Un-Dead
Harm-  Chaos bolt 3-harm, magic, Armor- Unfeeling flesh armor-2 Health: 9 Health  
Unique Moves

Entropic Barrage - When Salome causes harm, she damages another hunter for each degree. 1 additional hunter on a full success, 2 on a partial sucess, and three on a failure.
Lightning Dance- When a storm rages overhead, Salome can appear anywhere behind a lightning strike congealing from the aftermath. 4-harm entrance. 
False Visions - Salome can actively obscure premonitions of the future, hunters take -1 forward when following her poisoned futures.

Baphomet- This great Watcher is trapped in the River's collection since the Good Granny buried its Reliquary in the riverbed.  Bound to the Hellion, s/he runs the Blackjack table and bargains for the souls of mortal folk.  The combination of opposites, its paradoxical nature allows it to slip the Keeper's leash in small ways.
Monstrous Motivation Tempter
Watcher, The Paradox, Sacred Hermaphrodite
Harm-  Gore 3-harm, messy Armor- Otherworldly flesh armor-2 Health: 13 Health  
Unique Moves
One Man's God, Another Man's Devil- When a hunter makes an offering, roll +Weird - on a 13- hold 3, 10+ - hold 2, 7-9- hold 1. Hunters may spend the hold to cause Use Magic effects in addition to Keeper moves. 
Know Thyself- When Baphomet locks eyes with a hunter, that hunter must confide their weakest moment. Afterimages haunt the hunter, -1 forward in scenes reminiscent of that moment. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Apple Fell Close

Original Sin
While the 3 Kings are united in purpose but divided in method, Original Sin is the inverse. They have overlapping goals and share methods, they will be enemies in the end. 

Erica Harman and the Horror That Follows -  If the service hadn't been interrupted, Erica  could have been the Witch of Endor to the Rex Mundi. Now she wants the circle to go unbroken and run through her. One mind, one body, one spirit. 
Monstrous Motivation Collector
Face of Innocence, Oracle, Grotesque, Spirit
Harm-  The Press of Bodies 3-harm, messy Armor- Pulped mass armor-2 Health: 13 Health
Unique Moves
Tangle of Limbs- When Erica deals harm to a hunter, they take -1 forward as they're caught up in the jungle of her anatomy.  This is cumulative, anyone who takes more than a -3 forward is pulled into the mass and must be rescued.

Heaving Flesh - Hunters roll +sharp when fighting Erica instead of any other stat.  She recovers 1 Health
when she doesn't take any harm as a move's result.

Soiled - Seeing Erica stirs up a wealth of unwholesome feelings, hunters discover they have some issues to work out.  Roll +cool to suppress. 

Barren, the Mother Mud - A spiritual cast-off, Barren forgot her intangible past and found a new purpose in fundamental muck. If she gets her way, the rain will fall ceaselessly and tje mud will brim with new life in her image. 
Monstrous Motivation Breeder
Emanation, Leviathan
Harm-  Spectral Tadpoles 3-harm, magic, messy The Tongue 2-harm, sticky Armor- Greater than you armor-3 Health: 14 Health
Unique Moves
Human Mud - Anyone dealt damage by a Spectral Tadpole hosts a rapidly gestating Frog Demon minion. Next missed +tough roll births the minion. 

Reel Them In - When a hunter is hit by The Tongue they get pulled into Barren's gullet. 

Formed From Dust - Mother Mud sloughs off doppelgangers of people she's eaten.  They're stuffed full of Frog Demons and don't always survive birth trauma. 

Bayard Tagert- An unrepentant gambler, Bayard ignored his sister's advice and went out to Burnt Up Church Place. At the crossroads he lost his soul to Mother Mud with a roll of the dice. For fear of what he had wrought, Bayard attempted to enlist the Queen. Barren would have none of that and consumed him. Sloughing off a doppelgange of old B.T. and binding his spirit to the Hellion. Now he wants a new chance at life, maybe behind Cam Dolittle's face. 
Monstrous Motivation Tempter
Silver Tongue, Spirit, Skin Thief
Harm-  Revolver 2-harm, loud Armor- Spectral flesh armor-1 Health: 8 Health
Unique Moves
Helter Skelter - Bayard throws everything not nailed down in a flurry. Roll +tough, everyone marks unstable and suffer 2-harm 

Ghost In the Shell - Outside of Lacuna, Bayard can't physically embody and is forced to interact through machinery. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

We Three Kings

Eidolons. The Greek word for apparition, applied to entities of the Other Side too great to crossover bodiless.  Each Eidolon represents an element of Our Side: wrath, gluttony, greed, etc. Filtered through the Looking Glass, perception distorts their meaning.  Their nature remains static but people interpret the inverse. Thus Deceit is seen as Truth.

The Kings were once lordlings of the Other Side but global events shifted the order of things. The Great War fed souls and pain to Hope, a rising power that usurped their eminent position.  Nostalgic for nights before gods-on-sticks and sterile worship they seek a return to blood, love, and pain. With physical vessels prepared for their spirits, they set their plans in motion. 

Patience, the Cold King -
The long-toothed lord of ambush is known among the folk of Tumbleson County as Charlie. Sprouting from the Ferguson's cthonic seed, the flesh is clay to his will.  He has waited a long time for the Eschaton, he will not wait anymore.

Monstrous Motivation Devourer
Eidolon, Shapeshifter
Harm Massive Craw 5-harm, messy, magic Armor- A higher order than you armor-5 Health: 20 Health
Unique Moves
Just A Log - May be present in any scene as a piece of the landscape.  When Patience makes his move, inflict 5-harm and hunters take -1 forward as their lizard brains freak out.

Swallow Whole - anyone dealt harm from Patience's Massive Craw could be swallowed whole. Soft move, sliding towards oblivion and separated from the party. Hard move,  lost completely. 

Appeasement - Patience is appeased when families drown their youngest child. He bestows prophecy upon those performing the gruesome rite.
Abstinence, the White Teeth -
A large composite skeleton wrapped in gauzy flesh, Abstinence lairs beneath Hollow Hill, the Harman family estate. Each death on the Harman family adding to her mass. Plagued with nagging emptiness, she longs to be full.

Monstrous Motivation Beast
Eidolon, Necromancer,
Harm- Gnawing and tearing 4-harm, magic, armor piercing Armor- A higher order than you armor-5 Health: 16 Health
Unique Moves
Leftovers- Abstinence vomits Leftovers when threatened, minions made from misshapen beasts and people pulped together. Hunters need to roll +cool to keep their lunch down

Thirsty- Abstinence recovers Health equal to harm dealt. 

Appeasement- Abstinence' favor is earned through debased consumption. Raw offal, feces, cannibalism, the more extreme the greater your favor. The Eidolon grants the ability to wear the flesh of the dead. 

Kindness, the Blackeye Huntress -
A quiet menace, invisible against the night sky, Kindness misses the nights she could inflict cruelties on the human mice. The Rambler, Otis Lee, desecrated the Governor's son's corpse, a blood caked owlet congealed in the remains. She ate his heart and curled up in the cavity. Since the Rambler's arrest she now nests in the jailhouse.

Monstrous Motivation Torturer
Eidolon, Mesmerism
Harm-  Long Claws of Night 3-harm, magic, armor piercing, mark unstable Armor- A higher order than you armor-5 Health: 16 Health
Unique Moves
Dark Wisdom - Apply 2 backlashes when a hunter attempts to Use Magic. Apply 1 when they roll +weird.

Falling Up- When a hunter suffers harm from Kindness' talons they are drawn hurling upward.  Roll +weird to navigate the surging weightlessness. Plummet to Earth on a miss. 

Appeasement - Missing its right eye stirs Kindness' envy. Offerings of human eyes, especially from the heads of of willing supplicants, draws Kindness' attention. The favored move with the silence and presence of shadows. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Everyone Trusts Granny

 The Kindly Grandmothers
Beldames, termagants, maenads, and witches are a few of the names you'll hear describing the wild women who dwell far away from Tumbleson's townships.  Sought for favors by the desperate, the cost of business is more  terrible than the nuisance.  With their long memories and longer legacies, these women have a deep influence over County affairs following the Spinner's inscrutable directions.

Good Granny - preys upon her granddaughters and wants to free her grandsons from Abstinence. She uses the Great White Teeth's investments against it.

Monstrous Motivation Parasite- to infest, control, and devour
Magus, Shape Thief, Sineater
Harm- Hideous strength 3-harm messt Armor- charms braided into her skin armor-1 Health: 12 Health
Unique Moves
Worm in the Apple - Anyone who owes Good Granny a favor bears her worm in their ears, it shares their senses and takes over their bodies when they are willed to do so.
Counterspell - When a hunter rolls +Weird against the monster, reduce the success level by one.
Iron Nails - Good Granny Bulloch can hex any place or person that has one of her iron nails stuck in it.  They look like normal nail with hair wrapped around it. 

The Spinner- under England's gray skies they called her the Cutwife. In the New World she puts her Scissors to the Great Work.

Monstrous Motivation Parasite- to infest, control, and devour
Norn, Great and Terrible, Immortal
Harm-  The Scissors 2-harm, magic 
Armor- Death trembles to take her armor-2 Health: 10 Health
Unique Moves
Seen It All Before - When a hunter rolls against the Spinner, reduce the success level by one.
Welcome To My Parlor - Anyone who enters her Sanctum is unable to leave without permission. 
The Clean Cut - The greatest power held by witches is centered around fertility. The Clean Cut severs fecundity and fortune, requiring only the victim's bodily scraps. 

Wisteria Coryell - an herbalist first and will worker second, she is deeply involved in the life of her grandson Simon.

Monstrous Motivation Parasite- to infest, control, and devour
Face of Innocence, Herbalist, Medium
Harm-  Daddy's Peacemaker 2-harm, loud Armor- Innocence only preserves so much armor-0 Health: 11 Health
Unique Moves
A Kiss of Nightshade - If a hunter has consumed something prepared by Wisteria, they are considered poisoned when she wills it.
Malignance - When a hunter rolls +Weird against the monster, take -1 forward on future rolls. 
Daddy's Little Girl - A hunter rolling a miss on +Weird becomes possessed by the ghost of Wisteria's father. Turning on the other hunters, targeting the weakest one first. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bumps In the Night

This is a high point perspective of the competing supernatural factions in my Southern Gothic setting.  I will define the terminology and cosmology in entries focusing for intensely on each group.

 The Three Kings
These 3 Eidolons predate Man's arrival beneath the brackish canopy and grew addicted to his worship and flesh. Like junkies hungering for a fix the Three have differing methods to capture Man's fascination. But they share an end goal: aid the Rex Mundi in his Ascent and bask in the adulation of the Eschaton.  To do that they will need an Embodiment, so they can walk on our Side and intercede.
Movers & Shakers
Patience, the Cold King - born to one of its cultists and a Ferguson, its Embodiment is still a child but maturing rapidly.
Abstinence, the White Teeth - entered into a pact with Goodberry Harman, a bit of itself Embodies within every Harman boy.
Kindness, the Blackeye Huntress - the Rambler, Otis Lee, incubates its Embodiment where his heart should be.

Old Man River
The River flows through both Sides, bearing wisdom, greedy for Sky, and jealous of its past. It remembers strangling the Land for forty days and forty nights. When its grasp was broken, it took everything it could carry to the bottom.  The River longs to hold and cherish everything again, never letting go.
Movers & Shakers
The Hellion- a cursed river boat casino, "do what thou wilt" is the only rule until you're caught cheating the House.
Salome LaBeija- an agent of chaos and seer, uses Kindness' left eye as a crystal ball. Dwells on the Hellion since she was drowned in the River.
Baphomet- This great Eidolon is trapped in the River's confines since the Good Granny buried its Reliquary in the riverbed.

The Kindly Grandmothers
Beldames, termagants, maenads, and witches are a few of the names you'll hear describing the wild women who dwell far away from Tumbleson's townships.  Sought for favors by the desperate, the cost of business is more immediately terrible than the nuisance.  With their long memories and longer legacies, these women have a deep influence over County affairs following the Spinner's inscrutable directions.
Movers & Shakers
Good Granny - preys upon her granddaughters and wants to free her grandsons from Abstinence.
The Spinner- under England's gray skies they called her the Cutwife. In the New World she puts her scissors to the Great Work.
Wisteria Coryell - an herbalist first and will worker second, she is deeply involved in the life of her grandson Simon.

Original Sin
Burned alive on a Protestant altar, the death of Erica Harman and a generation of young people gouged a hole to the Other Side. Since then the Burnt Up Church Place is the center of superstition and avoided at all cost. Numinous power gathers and empowers otherwise minor spirits and Eidolons
Movers & Shakers
Erica Harman and the Horror That Follows - a nubile, young lady to the hips heralds the extruded tangle of human limbs and body parts behind it. She wants all of humanity to join her in unity.
Barren, the Mother Mud - the fecundity of the swamp given volition. Jealous of Man's independence, Mother knows best and wants him home.
Bayard Tagert- reneged on a debt he owed to Mother Mud, his soul is now trapped on the Hellion. Her agent in the court of foes.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Book Review: Do: Fate of the Flying Temple

 In the years since its release Fate Accelerated (aka FAE) has become my favorite flavor of Fate.  It's quick to kick off the ground, and fundamentally challenges the way we think of resolution in role-playing games.  Mark Diaz Truman penned Do: Fate of the Flying Temple, powered by FAE, a sequel to Daniel Solis' Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. Both games cater to families with young/first time players, though Fate is probably better for older players than Pilgrims.

The games' core idea is the characters are adolescents in a Little Prince universe on a problem solving pilgrimage answering letters they received. From there the two games diverge thematically. In Pilgrims, the characters eventually return to the titular Temple at the center of the Universe and discover destinies shaped by their experiences. In Fate, the Flying Temple is gone and the characters steward a young Dragon on their pilgrimage. Each player defines the Dragon with an Aspect and a new Aspect after each letter. Shaping the future Flying Temple through their escapades. 

Mark Diaz Truman has a deep understanding of Fate and a deft hand explaining the core concepts and applying them. For more of his excellent work, check out the Fate Codex on Patreon. If you're looking for a game to introduce Fate to kids pr the young at heart, then Do: Fate of the Flying Temple is worth picking up.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Book Review: Bubblegumshoe

Confession time:  I love mysteries and crime fiction, and nothing hits the nostalgia like teen detective stories: Encyclopedia Brown, Veronica Mars, Lumberjanes, Leave it to Chance, the 3 Investigators, Goldie Vance, Gotham Academy, Durarara!!, Persona 3 & 4, Scooby-Doo, the Hardy Boys, Danganronpa, Atlanta Burns etc.  So I'm an easy mark for these kinds of stories. Ever since Ken Hite mentioned Bubblegumshoe (BGS for short) over a year ago on KARTAS, I've been eagerly awaiting its release.

What is Bubblegumshoe? BGS applies the fantastic GUMSHOE system to the teen detective genre. Your sleuths assemble clues, expose secrets, snarl relationships, avoid the police, solve crimes, and generally get into trouble.  And since it's high school the stakes are incredibly high and incredibly low.  The GUMSHOE skill list is refined to bare necessities and more specialized information is obtained through WHO you know, rather than WHAT you know.

There are three ingredients that differentiate these stories from their adult counterparts: sleuth focused, entangled relationships, and verbal sparring.  When creating a Sleuth you define their place in school through socio-economic class, clique, clubs, etc. and their Goals.  Goals are outside the investigation and ground the character in the larger narrative, ranging from being class president to evading that bully.   Accomplishing your goals feeds into your character's Relationships, increasing their ratings.  Defined by a paradigm, (Like, Love, or Hate) that's how your get access to university book learning and adult resources (a car if the characters don't drive or a weapon from your mom's gun safe for example.)

Physical conflict isn't really a point of focus in these stories, in parallel BGS emphasizes social over physical confrontations. Called Throwdowns, they emulate the verbal cut-and-thrust of teen double speak and questioning. Interpersonal skills fill the role of more traditional fighting skills, allowing the characters a wide array of social tactics to get what they want. Reassurance, intimidation, flirtation, and more provide creative, and complicating, strategies than just talking at GMC's with an anemic diplomacy check.  I could write another blog post about Throwdowns.

One of the best things about GUMSHOE products is the modular campaign drifts and tools provided to assemble your own.  Pelgrane has cracked Bookhounds of London, Mutant City Spies, Shadows Over Filmland, Moondust Men and others.  BGS carries on this great tradition with some great examples in the back covering diverse teen sleuth flavors. For example, want super powered Hogwarts? Danvers Academy fits the bill. What about some sleuths with a weird sidekick? Then Ruby Hollow lets you assemble your own secret riddled township, complete with creepy old men driving down property values dressed as monsters.

The hardcover is only $20, it's the high quality typical for Evil Hat, the pdf is complimentary,  and the game design is top notch. If you're interested in playing teen detective stories then BGS is the best game for the job. Emily Care Boss, Kenneth Hite, and Lisa Steele have outdone themselves capturing the spirit of these stories.