Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wicked West: Walking Branches

Life is a journey and death is the experiential gate to other places, or nowhere. In the Wicked West most psychopomps won't claim to know what lies on the other side of the Veil.  The closest they can get is prospecting and scouting the Deadworlds, the Tree of Life's lower branches.  The Deadworlds' opposite number is the Younglands, ever fruitful and green.  Through the Traversal ritual, a psychopomp is able to align a physical trail with a metaphysical Branch.  The psychopomp needs to take part in the ritual itself but does not need to be the primary willworker.

Traversal is a Magic ritual that that requires four elements:
Location - the middle of nowhere, places unmapped, BFE, any place where the path's destination is out of sight. +1 if there's a numinous association with the destination.
Sigils - trail signs and/or a medicine wheel realign the path's destination to the appropriate Malum.
Mantra - a chant, a drumbeat, a song in a sacred tongue to imitate the drone of Life omnipresent among the Branches.  +1 if it's sympathetic to the Malum.
Guide - if you're a gambler you can consume psychoactive drugs like peyote. But it's safer to use a psychopomp.

Success transitions the scene to the Otherworld.  Success with style creates an aspect that covers your entry, ex: "Without a Peep" or "Shock & Awe"
Failure means you run afoul of some sort of Guardian creature or otherworldly predator - Cerberus, Humbaba, Tzitzimitl, The Horned Serpent, Cihuateteo, Heimdallr, Ratatosk, Dybbuk, Lords of the Night, Thunderbird, The Feathered Serpent, Raven, Rainbow Serpent, etc.

 Two notable psychopomps:
Adelita Perronegro - Born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, the sounds of gunfire & smell of smoke has been her constant companions. Since the Texian Revolution, the Valley has been a region in revolt against Anglo occupation. Adelita was taught how to shoot and fight by her three older brothers. Her mother disapproved of her tomboy tendencies, attempting to induct her into the Dream Society.
The grasping darkness and stillness of the kiva she found stifling, but she bore it for her mother's sake. On the full moon of her first Lunar cycle that was no longer enough. Blood running down her leg. Pain wracking her body. A glowing severed head in place of the moon. A hairless black dog lapping at her runoff. Grinning wide the canine explained her family's role as custodians of the White Caves, & Adelita's place as his wife. Always a fighter, Adelita fled the Valley and worked her way up to the Colorado Territory. She has found plenty of work for herself as a psychopomp, humming the medicine chants of her mother & guiding occult prospectors to unplundered Otherplaces.

Hillbilly Jim - Hailing from the backwoods township of Mud Lick, Kentucky, this genial old fellow is a sin eater of infamy back East. Out in the West his addiction to guilt is harder to feed, too much competition. Unable to grift off grieving families, Jim has to rely on other means. Armed with his fiddle, "Whip-or-will" - whose strings vibrate under no power when death draws near.  He consoles the dying & peels the iniquity from their soul as they cross over.  Leaving them raw and vulnerable for disembodied predators scuttling in the Veil. 
Since the 13th Union was shattered, Hillbilly Jim has discovered a hidden talent for psychopompery and his deepest fear. His fear of the Unknown among the Apples and desire for survival is only overwhelmed by his greed and lust for gambling. He charges more for guidance across the Branches than other psychopomps, but will contest any with his fiddle to lower the price. 

This month's RPG Blog Carnival theme is Portals & Gates, the seed article is found here

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

LLSF Locker Room Pt 2

Buffalo Ramos- Indio, bull necked, & proud, Ramos is the Comanche murder machine. Freshly shorn after losing a lucha de apuestas to Carmelita "La Jugosa," he refuses to don a mask to mask his shame. His martial pride still hurting, he hopes to have a rematch versus la exotica with his signature stipulation - the bullrope and bell. Requiring both competitors to be tied together with a length of bullrope, the stipulation heavily favors to aptly named Buffalo over the lithe Carmelita.
Finishing Move: Extremo De Pista (powerbomb into a single knee back breaker)
Aspects: Blessed by the summer moon, Sting of recent defeat, Tied to the Beast

The Mad Monk - Rumored to be a defrocked priest, most everyone in the back gives him a wide berth. The reason for his expulsion varies, ranging from kid-touching & seduction of married women, to dark rites gleaned from abominable tomes. Though the stories disagree on the reason, his soul bears a shadow of corruption.  He performs communion for all who can bear his presence in front of a large paper mache  sculpture of the Virgin of Guadalupe, rivulets of dried blood in the corners of her eye sockets.
Finishing Move: Crucifixion (running big boot to a rope hung opponent)
Aspects:Defrocked priest,  "Don't worship God, worship ME!"
 Primer Dragon - Hailing from distant Japan, the fighter known only as Primer Dragon has her mind on a singular goal: revenge.  All that can be gleaned is she came from a wealthy family, but her fiance was moved to betray them through jealousy of primacy.  Her family estate burning down around her, face streaked with her brother's blood, she swore vengeance.  Others close to her say she has pursued this villain to Thailand, Australia, across South America, and now to Mexico.
Finishing Move: La Magistral (standing shiranui)
Aspects:Snowblood, Dogged tenacity, Ankle didn't heal right

The Executioner- Back when Lucha Libre Sin Fronteras was a traveling circus there was a strongman known as El Magnifico. One of the main draws, El Magnifico could drag a train for a mile with minimal effort. But while his body was strong, his heart was weak for the attentions of Lupita. Unfortunately he was too much man and too little the lover Lupita needed. Seduced by a local padre, she was persuaded to drown her children and run away from the carnival.  The deed done, the priest stood her up and fled town. The abandonment drove her over the edge of despair, and she took her own life. 
Struck dumbfounded by everything, El Magnifico retreated inward. Dead to the world around him and haunted by Lupita's phantom, the Executioner now walks in el cuerpo de Magnifico.
 Finishing Move: El Peso De La Justicia (Over-the-shoulder back-to-belly piledriver)
Aspects: La Llorona's husband, Broken heart & broken mind, 
Mariposa Asesina - Wherever she goes scandal, broken hearts, and tabloid reporters follow.  A herald of inevitable heartbreak, Maripose Asesina takes what she wants whether man, woman, or Big Gold Belts.  Her dalliances serve ulterior motives, as she tests the Aztec blood and warrior's temperament of the modern Mexican peoplt.  She seeks luchadors fiery and strong enough to join La Nidada de Colibri, the Wounded King's failed bodyguards turned shadowy fraternity.  This apocalyptic brotherhood failed at the critical moment of the last gyre, and they will not fail a second time.  To do so would render the sun a cinder.
Finishing Move: Mariposa Obsidiana (Back-to-back double underhook piledriver)
Aspects:Years like grains of sand, No remorse, Old wounds never fully healed

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fragged Empire: Respectable Businessmen

Left to right: Corporate, Legion, Kaltoran, and Nephilim

 Prepping for a Fragged Empire campaign, here are three pillars of the underworld community to navigate and deal with.

Fabian Gracchus -  A Legionnaire with the rare head for numbers, he served as a quartermaster during the tail end of the Great Xion War.  Directing supplies, he and his unit were captured in a Nephilim raid on their lunar supply depot. Imprisoned in Shayol, an infamous Nephilim camp for Legion POWs, he became cadaverous as his Legionnaire values ceased relevancy.  One night, he woke to find another starving prisoner gnawing on his arm.  Fighting off his attacker, Fabian realized that survival was a matter of amoral, predatory arithmetic.  He will not say much else when recounting the rest of his time, but he was one of the few prisoners released retaining some modicum of health.

Free to operate in Corporate culture, he has carved a niche in the black economy.  Fabian has become a banker for individuals and organizations who wish to avoid scrutiny in their business dealings. Whether it's the hyper-elite obscuring their art assets or a slaver who gets paid in rare earth ingots, Fabian accepts all sorts of tender for deposits.  Maintaining a series of vaults in a nearby asteroid belt, his security is top notch and his clients trust it to stay that way. That trust is built upon Fabian's refusal to outsource the deposit and withdrawal of valuables in his care, every transaction is carried out in person with a complement of his Nephilim security staff.  He maintains an index of preferred freelancers when he needs additional muscle, and placement on that list is a coveted prize.

Signature Items - "Pulchra"- a sawed-off boarding shotgun and "Crypta"- a refitted Legion bomber

Hooks - One of Fabian's hyper-elite clients has passed away, and an extremely valuable piece of art was willed to a young family member, a child isolated from society at large.  Per his policy, Fabian will only release the piece directly to the child.  Needing specialized personnel, he hires the characters to help him make the delivery.  He considers this an audition for the crew to get on his Index.

Topiary - Since the Kaltoran Reemergence their children were raised on their parents' tales of Eden's beauty and the lost glory of their fallen society.  All in an effort to downplay the terrible things done for survival beneath Kadash's skin.  Yearning to revisit the glorious past, several of these individuals have grouped together and formed Topiary, an eco-terrorist group that doubles as a secret front for the Kaltoran Militia.  Since the Militia refuses to deal with the Corporation in any capacity, Topiary steps up and fills this space.

Where the Miltia stages terrorist attacks on Corporate industry, Topiary stages protests and capitalizes on the omnipresent news cycle, decrying the Nephilim colonization of their lost home world, the Corporation's defiance of their biological predestination, commodification of biomass and the rampant cannibalization of Kaltoran and Archon material remnants.  Topiary claims that as the last species decanted without an express purpose beyond maturation, Kaltorans are the heirs apparent to the Archons.  Because of their adherence to non-violence and incorporating public stunts into their protests, Topiary is largely seen as a mostly harmless organization starving for attention.  Internally they venerate the Dark Tribesmen of Kadash as an ideal Kaltoran society: unburdened by Corporate materialism, the Legion's failure, and the Nephilim's fleshy blasphemy.  To freelancers Topiary offers an incidental way to keep flying, unwilling to involve non-Kaltorans in their operations, the organization pays well with little outright risk, but what actually earns this pay is seemingly idiosyncratic.

Signature Items - Protest signs, various states of undress, and pamphlets.  So many pamphlets.

Hooks - Because the other species will be unwilling to put the genie back in the bottle and step aside for their betters, Topiary is seeking out lost Archon databases for any clues leading to a Genesis Engine.  These low orbital devices were used by Humanity, and the Archons, to terraform inhospitable planets.  They are willing to pay fairly well for solid leads in this direction.

The Eye of Ahura, a Kaltoran cultural treasure, is on display at a Corporate CEO's fancy soiree.  Topiary wants you to procure an invitation so they will know the party's location and stage an appropriate protest to demand the gem's return.  As always, Topiary has ulterior motives desiring the Eye and the invitation.

Bella & Donna - Heads turn at any space station when "Leather & Lace" pulls in, one of the eminent dens of iniquity in the void. A refitted freighter, "Leather & Lace" may not look like a pleasure palace but it is more discreet and impregnable than any yacht plying the Night. Bella, a Corporate spin doctor, and Donna, a Nephilim emissary, won the ship in a game of cards, making it a place where all sorts of nearly victimless vices are available.  Hired flesh, kinky catharsis, barely legal boutique narcotics, and whispered confessions are advertised, rumors abound that there are darker, stranger indulgences to indulge. Morality parties planetside prevent ventures as large as Bella/Donna's from finding a permanent home outside Nephilim space.

Aside from their public role as proprieters, the couple dip into a number of clandestine activities. Ranging from small time blackmail, minor smuggling, intellectual property infringement, implanting spy ware, and non-consensual gene sampling. a cadre of powerful politicians protect them when these side businesses go awry and hush everything up. Makes you wonder what hangs over their heads. 

Signature Items - "Leather & Lace" - A refitted Corporate Bastion Mass Cargo freighter, and modified UNITY chips networking Bella/Donna together but excludes other chips.

Hooks - Some Corporate research monkeys are eager to get their hands on Bella/Donna's hacked UNITY chips, as well as some of their narcotic wares. Unless the crew has a surgeon to remove it, this will involve kidnapping. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Play Report: Festivities of Fear and Loathing

Habrá Sangre was on Sunday, the player characters were:

El Mini Grande - The leader of Lucha Libre Sin Fronteras' mini locker room and one of the head trainers, he was once the compatriot of El Grande - the promotion's perennial champion.   Having sacrificed his mask to save El Grande's martial pride, he now feels betrayed and gone rudo y yanqui in retaliation.  No matter where the LLSF pitches its tent, El Mini Grande has a malicious legion of black hearted little people at his beck and call.

Tornado Rosado -"Rose Tornado"- El Grande's daughter and bearer of his legacy, Tornado wishes to reunite her father and El Mini Grande.  Driven by a strong sense of justice, Tornado Rosado is a role model to her Tornado Scouts and wears the Mask of the South Wind.

Tobillo Largo -"Long Ankle"- A relative newcomer,  she earned her ring name after she gained the upper hand in her debut match with El Diablo Abismo and retired him after he refused to submit to her ankle lock.  Under the mask she is a medical doctor raising money to keep the doors of her family's free clinic open. Her iron grip is not to be trifled with.
 El Chupacabra - "The Goatsucker"- Literally the legendary cryptid.  While he rarely wins, the creature in funerary garb doesn't fail to entertain. The last of his kind, he seeks the attentions of Tobilla Largo as a salve to his loneliness.

The Game:

After the city of Monterrey is wracked with tremors from the collapsed Aztec temple previous, the scions Alonzo put on a free show to bolster the city's spirits. A trios match was announced featuring El Mini Grande, El Chupacabra and the Mad Monk against Tobillo Largo, Tornado Rosado and Aguila Ayudas.  Initially framed as a match betwenn the tricolor and yankee traitors, the Mad Monk's vicious catechism reshaped the match into a battle of the sexes.  Aguila Ayudas had his masculinity mocked in the opening exchange, a nagging jeer with repercussions later.

Flinging their bodies at high velocity, the luchadors inspired the audiense to new heights of hope and fear: deep arm drags, lariats from hell, shotgun knees, and eye rakes abounded.  Ina particularly vicious exchange, Aguila Ayudas and Tornado Rosado attempted a stereo dive onto the Mad Monk and El Mini Grande, but the rudos countered with synchronized steel chair shots.  Knocked loopy, the technicos managed to regroup and apply pressure once more.  Unfortunately for them, Aguila Ayudas turned against his teammates, combined with El Chupacabra supping on Tobillo's essence and mimicking her iron grip.  With a suplex into a small package, the ashen ghoul placed his weight on her injured elbow and won his first match, though Tobillo won his cadaverous heart.  Seeing their heroes defeated so angered all the mothers and abuelitas in the crowd that the air was soon full of flung chancletas and rolling pins.

Shamed by the matronly rebuke, Aguila Ayudas is convinced by El Mini Grande to retire his eagle regalia and adopt the vulture's carrion plumage as the Buzzard. 

Powdering out of the tent, the luchadors were sent to a nearby pulqueria for a meeting with Carlos Alonzo, the shiftless middle brother.  He informed them that he had been contacted by a  wealthy retired wrestler, Dorrance Blanchard, who had requested that Carlos send some of LLSF's rising stars for him to meet and possibly mentor.  Carlos selected Tornado Rosado, Chupacabra, and Tobillo Largo as representatives for LLSF's future, and El Mini Grande, the Mad Monk and the Buzzard as examples of the promotion's adaptability. Blanchard's mansion was located outside of town, a towering tubular eyesore called La Casa de los Tubos haloed by ominous storm clouds.
 Lucha libre legends La Dama del Silencio, Cyclone Anaya, Xochitl Cuahtemoc, and El Rey Plomo had arrived ahead of time. Greeted at the door, Blanchard's butler took their capes and accessories, ushering them into the dining room where a banquet was all laid out. Assured that Blanchard would be along shortly, the luchadors were encouraged to dig in. Two other luchadors arrived after the party, Zapato de Muerte and El Ciclope; disgusted with Tornado's presence Zapato derisively compared her to Eva Maria.

Restrained by El Mini Grande from assaulting Zapato, Tornado swore on her family's honor to avenge the slight.  El Mini Grande slipped her a steak knife and advised her that revenge is best when allowed to chill, a murderous glint in his eye.  Dorrance Blanchard emerged from a side room once nearly all the guests had helped themselves to the repast laid out, the Mad Monk refrained since he'd sworn an oath of deprivation.

Blanchard informed them that the future of LLSF was murky, and he was looking to form a core of talent to help him lead the company into the future. Once they'd cleared up any questions regarding the inheritance and Vincente Alonzo's death.   Cyclone Anaya stood up and toasted Blanchard's vision, as he gulped the last of the wine he keeled over apparently dead - eyes split apart like flowers mid-bloom.  Blanchard informed everyone present that they'd been poisoned with Black Lotus Powder (a toxic hallucinogen) and that this was an audition not an open casting call - 4 antidotes were hidden in the locked down manse. You survive the night, you're in.
Panic overtook the guests, Tornado Rosado tried to void her stomach, but all that came up were mewing kitten heads and sadness and Zapato de Muerte snapped his shin kicking the door.  El Mini Grande quickly threw himself to consuming as much charcoal as possible, before pinning and scalping a helpless Zapato de Muerte.  Tobillo Largo consumed activated charcoal she kept in her medical bag and scanned a small handbook for common antidotes.  El Chupacara's alien digestion delayed the onset of side effects.  The various luchadors then scattered throughout Blanchard's bleak manse seeking the secreted antidote: El Mini Grande racked up a game in the Billiards room to discover a secret passage to the Lounge, Tobillo Largo found the empty container of Black Lotus Powder in the Kitchen, El Chupacabra investigated the Library which was connected to the Studio, and Tornado Rosado clutched the mewling kittens to her as she checked the light fixtures.  Las leyendas and others scattered to other rooms.
El Chupacabra came upon Xochitl, Rey Plomo, and La Dama Del Silencio fighting in a barbed wire roped wrestling ring over an exquisite vase, ostensibly storing the antidote. His entrance distracted Rey Plomo for an instant, allowing La Dama to drag his throat across the top line of barbed wire and chainsawing through his flesh.  The drugs hit El Chupacabra in that instant, transposing Rey Plomo's with a great horned goat's head - yearning and hunger overtook him completely.  

In the lounge El Mini Grande came across the butler smothering the maid on a divan as the Buzzard slowly stalked them both, all three bearing the telltale unfurled eye.  El Mini Grande convinces the butler that if he gives Mini Grande his antidote, then Mini Grande can call off the Buzzard.  Taken in by the mini's silver tongue, he produces a vase which Mini Grande promptly snatches up and runs into the Hall - leaving the butler to the Buzzards tender bladed ministrations.  Entering the Conservatory Tobillo Largo discovers that was now a green space for cultivating Black Lotus, but the portion used to create an antidote was already cut away.  Beneath the surface of the water she spotted a corked vase, retrieving it she found one of the antidotes.  Consuming the contents, she headed towards all the ruckus.  Tornado Rosado clutched the largest kitten and entered the Hall, in the Ballroom El Ciclope called out to her - holding a vase in one hand and a rose in his teeth.  El Mini Grande quaffed a portion of the potion, the lotus' grip released  he saw El Ciclope holding a large cactus and several spines piercing his mouth while Tornado Rosado clutched a vase of the antidote like she would a tortured pet.
In the Studio Chupacabra's voracious lunge wrenched free Rey Plomo's head - his last words: "You're beautiful" before his eyes unfurled, releasing his soul.  In the ring La Dama hit a gory neckbreaker on Xochitl and released her, reeking mortal injury on her opponent.  Chupacabra witnessed an angel vacate Xochitl's body, pulled through the ceiling in radiance.  Sensing an opportunity, La Dama launched herself in a suicide dive at El Chupacabra which he dodged at the last minute.  Rey Plomo's head rolled into the vase, which Chupacabra lost sight of.  Following his nose he was able to find the vase and scramble downstairs into the Hall. Eager to save the life of his new discovered love, Tobillo Largo.

El Ciclope implored Tornado to split the antidote with him so they would both have a chance at life. Not taking her silence as a refusal he took a face-full of cactus spines, attempting to administer "the antidote" mouth to mouth. as he leaned in to "give her some sugar" he caught half a Chelsea grin & a flanged tongue for his trouble.  Staggering back with the knife caught in the meat of his neck, El Mini Grande slipped in and whispered in Tornado's ear as he administered the potion: "I am a greater man than your father." Chupacabra caught up with Tobillo at the stairwell and proffered his vase, calling him a pendejo she forced its contents down his gullet.  Amused by the carnage on display, the Mad Monk applauded Tornado's bravura and joined the other characters in the Hall. The butler's choked death scream rang out of the Lounge preceding the Buzzard's gore caked entrance, knife brandished and eyes blooming. 
The earnest butcher grinned wide in anticipation, a rictus grin he'd wear into death as his skull exploded into chits and brain fragments.  Dorrance gripped the smoking gun, gloating that only the most ambitious and ruthless luchadors were worthy of his enterprise. This moment of triumph was cut short as Cyclone Anaya's 1946 Chevrolet crashed through the Ballroom's large window, pulverizing Blanchard.

Three floating feminine forms silhouetted against the stormwracked sky.

This whole session was a lucha libre/exploitation/melodramatic/horror remix of Clue.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Game of Daggers

"The British-owned slave ships, and the British vessels that put down the slave trade; the destruction of the dens of tyranny in India and Abyssinia, and the hideous vandalizing of the Summer Palace in Peking; the serf armies and pirate navies that needed crushing, and the magnificent peoples – Zulus, Sikhs, Afghans – who the British had finally to admit were unconquerable.  The Empire on which the sun never set was also the empire on which the gore never dried." - Christopher Hitchens, Speaking of Flashman

I've cribbing the stats for the Great Powers from Romance in the Air, they're all fairly self explanatory. After the heist is completed, the Mark gains a Complication relating to the theft.  Other Great Powers take advantage of destabilization and jockey for power across the Globe in response. Meanwhile, the Condor searches for future opportunities.

Muscovite Sovereignty
Diplomacy +2 Espionage +4 Industry +3 Warfare +5 
High Concept Cruel Tsarist Aristocracy
Color Aspect Do Not Provoke the Juggernaut!
Internal Trouble Anarchist Conspirators

Stunt: General Winter - If an opponent attacks you with Warfare, and they inflict at least one military stress, you may spend a fate point and degrade his Warfare by two in the next exchange.

Holy Roman Empire
Diplomacy +4 Espionage +5 Industry +2 Warfare +3
High Concept Deceptively Foppish Dictatorship
Color Aspect We're Watching You
Internal Trouble Ethnically Balkanized
Stunt: Deniable Assets - The Holy Roman Empire knows no shortage of radical dissidents, undeterred by bloodshed for a cause.  You may inflict military stress with the Espionage skill, like Warfare it degrades with use but may be replenished with Diplomacy.

Prussian Allianz
Diplomacy +2 Espionage +3 Industry +5 Warfare +4
High Concept Ruthlessly Efficient Autocracy
Color Aspect Ambitions to Rival Britannia
Internal Trouble Ruled by Fear and Madness
Stunt: Proper Design Counts for Everything - When using Industry to restore lost Warfare ranks, restore one additional rank.  So a successful roll restore 2 ranks, while succeeding with style will replenish 3.

The Third French Republic
Diplomacy +5 Espionage +4 Industry +3 Warfare +2
High Concept A Republique Across Two Continents
Color Aspect Liberté, égalité, fraternité
Internal Trouble Nationalist Factions in Far Off Corners
Stunt: Global Intersection - May roll Diplomacy instead of Industry when obtaining rare and sought after materials.
League of Italian Principalities
Diplomacy+3 Espionage +5 Industry +2 Warfare +4
High Concept Every Man an Emperor
Color Aspect A Little Violence Never Hurt
Internal Trouble Et tu Brutae?
Stunt: Antiquities Abound - When defending against a Warfare attack, you may spend a fate point and describe the ancient historical site that's become a battleground.  If you do, your opponent must take care to avoid damaging this site irrevocably in his attack.  If your opponent exercise due care, he subtracts an additional 2 from his Warfare roll.  Otherwise he takes a point of political stress.

Diplomacy +3 Espionage +2 Industry +5 Warfare +4
High Concept Steam Powered Victorian Empire
Color Concept Britain Rules the Skies!
Internal Trouble Populist Reform Movements
Stunt: Air Superiority- Once per session, when using Warfare to attack or defend, you may invoke Britain Rules The Skies! for free.

Pacific Empire
Diplomacy +2 Espionage +3 Industry +4 Warfare +5
High Concept A Power Rising as the Sun
Color Aspect Sharp Swords, Sharp Minds
Internal Trouble Too Many Mouths
Stunt: Suspicious of Outsiders - +2 to defend against Espionage attempts by opposing Powers. attempting to infiltrate spies or recruit assets.

Spanish Confederacy
Diplomacy +5 Espionage +2 Industry +3 Warfare +4
High Concept Forced Together Out of Necessity
Color Aspect The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Internal Trouble Stretched Far and Wide
Stunt: Tangled Webs - gain a +2 to create a Diplomacy advantage against someone you've successfully Diplomacized earlier.

North American Union
Diplomacy +3 Espionage +2 Industry +4 Warfare +5
High Concept The City on the Hill
Color Aspect Treading Softly with a Big Stick
Internal Trouble Civil Wounds Go Deep
Stunt: Sharpshooters - During a Warfare attack, spend a fate point and declare a specific condition you want to inflict on the target, like In My Sights. If you succeed, you place that condition as a situational aspect in addition to hitting them for stress.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Imperial Powers

Muscovite Sovereignty
The beast of the east, the Tzar sees his nation as the Third Roman Empire maintaining traditions of faith & society stretching from antiquity.  As such, he covets the Holy Roman Empire to validate his legacy,  as well as the Caucus Emirates for territory. In the Orient, the Sovereignty suffered a loss at the hands of the Pacific Empire. To massage its sore pride, the Sovereignty is consolidating control of Mongolia and making inroads into the Afghani Kush.
Targets of OpportunityRegalia of the Russian Tzars, deliver a marriageable daughter (or son) from the Emirate of Azeria to another Imperial Power, Faberge Eggs and other death machines,

Holy Roman Empire
Also known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the nation's geography corresponds to cultural strain felt within its borders.  Caught between the predatory Prussian eagle and the treacherous Muscovite bear, the Austro-Hungarian establishment is far more concerned with internal unrest than any colonial prizes that may tempt their neighbors.  Through the Evidenzbureau, their military intelligence directorate, the establishment has negotiated an official cover for the Condor as an Austro-Hungarian diplomatic courier, in return the Condor's crew leaves the Holy Roman Empire alone.
Targets of Opportunity: The Holy Crown of Hungary, break up the Triple Alliance through a complicated series of events, Vienna houses the Palladium

Prussian Allianz
Initially formed to wage a war with the Third French Republic, the Allianz won & eroded Britannian hegemony on the continent. Since then the treaties forming the detente have since been extended in perpetuity. Drunk with martial success, Kaiser Wilhelm plots a series of campaigns to build a power bloc to rival Britannia & the Muscovite Sovereignty. His designs include stretches of Central Africa, Tonga, & Samoa.  Armed annexation of neighbouring states like the Hagen Royal Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire is not beyond his ambition as well. 
Targets of Opportunity: Smuggle out the suppressed political writings of a demagogue and smuggle published copies back in, the Royal Casket was stolen under the Kaiser's orders, the incorruptible corpse of Meister Eckhart

The Third French Republic
Possessing extensive colonial holdings in North Africa since the First Republic, France harbors resentment towards the Prussian Allianz & actively antagonizes Prussian holdings in the Dark Continent.  The Foreign Legion has proven invaluable in this theater, working alongside rogue Britannian explorer Dr. Livingstone.  Aside from that, French attention has largely been focused on South East Asia and North Africa.  Compared to their rivals, the French have made strides to incorporate their nearer colonial holdings into the government proper.
Targets of Opportunity: Robur the Conqueror's Albatross is the only craft that rivals the Condor, the complete lineage of the Merovingians, the Cathars hid the Holy Grail

League of Italian Principalities
Of all the Imperial Powers, perhaps none are as devious and tricky as the Italian Princes.  Their home peninsula has long been the site of fratricidal bloodbaths and backbiting since other nations were tribes living in wallow huts. The League places the highest priority on reclaiming their ancestral stomping ground of the Mediterranean basin. Aims that put them in conflict with the Third Republic and Britannia.
Targets of Opportunity: Vatican City houses the secretive Catholic Archives, the 6 cursed candles made from the fat of Cagliostro's corpse,countless works of art

Egypt, Jamaica, Canada, Australia, India, Kenya, Singapore and countless smaller territories compose an empire that swaddles the very Globe. Britannia constitutes the world's largest maritime empire, an accolade accompanied by the envious gaze of the rest of the world.  Whether the Italian Princes, Prussian Allianz, or the Spanish Confederacy, all wish to ascend the mountaintop.  Even Britannia's allies, the Third Republic and the Union, seek to gain every advantage possible from their greatest ally.  Britannia's greatest strength may yet be her downfall, stretched too thin with too many foes.
Targets of Opportunity: The Other Log of Phineas Fogg lies in the Tower of London, military plans to contruct technologically advanced submarines, return the Koh-i-Noor diamond to its rightful owner

Pacific Empire
On the opposite side of the world from Europe, Japan has rechristened itself.  Fresh off back to back victories against the tottering Sino Empire and the under supplied Muscovite Sovereignty's eastern most edge, the Pacific Empire is ready to further assert its claim to all lands touching the mother ocean. Japanese sorties have already been fought with the Third Republic's Indochinese forces and Britannia's Australian & Burmese holdings have shown signs of Japanese infiltration.  Though the Pacific Empire's hands seem clean, their activities have not escaped the Condor's notice.
Targets of Opportunity: Kusanagi and the other Imperial treasures are not that lost, discredit a militaristic politician, expose a spy

Spanish Confederacy
Reeling from the loss of their South American colonies, Spain & Portugal unified for stability. The new forged Confederacy seeks expansion of mercantile operations throughout the Pacific islands & Latin America. These ventures are finding an expanded military presence in Goa, the Confederacy 's sole Indian holding. A development that draws suprisingly little attention from Britannia proper.
Targets of Opportunity: La Noche Triste, a sunken treasure galleon was discovered, Spanish treasure hunters have ran off with a Lingam
North American Union
Distanced from the other Imperial powers by two oceans and reforged by a civil war, the North American Union casts its gaze outwards upon the largely untapped Pacific frontier as well as its southern neighbors. Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Yucatan are just a few of the assets recently seized from Spain within the Western Hemisphere.  To say nothing of the Philippines and Guam, domestically seen as the stepping stones to China and their potential trade partners, the Pacific Empire.  Cocksure and unwilling to back down from a fight, the North American Union may light the match that ignites the powder keg.
Targets of Opportunity: Hit the U.S. gold reserve at Fort Knox, seduce a politician's wife to push your agenda, distribute guns to disenfranchised minorities

Example Places of Origin for Characters: Afghani Kush, Korea, Australian Outback, Madagascar, Alaskan Frontier, French Indochina, the Caribbean Islands, Chilean Free State, Belgian Congo Protectorate, Samoa, the British Raj, Goa

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Kruger Affair: A Heist of the Century

The year is 1900, a new century is born accompanied by the heroes and villains of an age. The Great Imperial Powers play a game of daggers, waging proxy wars over colonial holdings in the corners of the Globe.  Their homelands are protected by bands of Extraordinary Citizens; America is defended by the Century Club, England has the League, Le Hommes Mysterieux protect France, and so forth.  By contrast, the megalomaniac Shadows plot to bring the World under their individual heels, only to find themselves stymied by the geographically relevant band of Extraordinary Citizens.
Taking a page from the heroes' playbook, you've formed a coalition with the aim to bring a little chaos into the World and loosen the Imperial grip on the throats of your homelands. Headquartered in the Condor, an experimental aircraft, you strike out across the globe, performing acts of criminal bravura that shake the Halls of Power but too petty to attract major attention.  Boast as much as they like, most Citizens wouldn't know the Florentine Diamond existed, much less its current wherabouts.
Five years ago, the British Crown's catspaws raided the neighboring Transvaal Republic but failed to seize control.  Since then what was a series of border skirmishes has escalated to full blown conflict.  British air superiority has been sorely tested as gyrocopters of the Transvaal Luchtfoto Marine utilize their superior knowledge of the terrain and weather patterns to wage an asymmetric war on invading British airships.  Sensing an opportunity, your gang begins laying the pipe to purloin the Kruger Millions and draw Great Britain into conflict with Dr. Belsidus' Black Empire. and further erode the Imperial grip on the globe.
King Leopold  is next, so he had better watch his back.

The Kruger Affair is a campaign of Ruritanian romanticized criminals in a steampunk, pulp world that never was.

Player Characters are created with Fate Accelerated, follow the text accordingly.  Characters must either hail from an Imperial colony (fictional or real) or a criminal of conscience.  Stunts may be used to obtain a situational bonus to an Approach, recruit Minions, or endow you with a Supernatural Power.  The game session will end with a round of the Great Game as Imperial Powers jockey for position in response to the Condor's activities, I will provide the character information for the various Imperial Powers.

Inspiration: Strange Tales of the Century, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Graustark, The Prisoner of Zenda, Leverage, The A-Team, Planetary, Lobster Johnson, Heart of Darkness, Parker novels by Richard Stark, Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard, Monaco, Drawing the Dark by Tim Powers