Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 149: Building the Setting
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Main Topic

The basics of the setting is the Ark. While there are potential asteroids and planets that may expand the horizon of the world, these will be primarily tackled when we talk about locales in a future episode. This episode is focused on the ship and relationship that a party will have to that main point. Each section will include a key location and an NPC or two we can come back to when we look at NPCs in more depth. 

Each “section” of the ship can be large enough to encompass entire campaigns, as a generation ship could be as massive as needed. This allows for shifting priorities within the ship, and potential mutations to take over entire sections without compromising the integrity of the ship as a setting and turning it into a horror game as a default. Imagine something close to the size of a continent, but not quite the size of a moon. 

Ark ship sections of note include:

  • Life Science Section – The Life Sciences section means more than just where you can find the best medical care, but also the hydroponics and green water and air facilities. You have the equivalent of the lush jungle of an unexplored planet in the middle of the ship. With the less than optimal crew complement, there are even rumors of entire villages or groups of … something not quite human within its folds. 
    • Great Expanse – The Great Expanse is 160 acres of grassland using genetically modified grasses that grow 3M high providing not only a rotational planting rich soil but a CO2 sink. Of course, nobody knows just how deep the roots of these grasses actually reach. At least three floors “below” the Great Expanse are blocked off on the ship schematics with nobody admitting to finding a way to tell if it is just soil, constantly regenerating from the refuse dumped in the Expanse or something more.  
    • GAIA Analysis (AI) – GAIA Analysis, or “Gaia A” is a top of the line science AI.  She works assisting everyone who comes into the life science section.  The soothing disembodied female voice serves as a teacher, a research assistant, doctor, data analyst, therapist, and a friend.  Some of the old timers refer to her as “Super Siri.”  She also works to gather real time data regarding all the biological specimens.  Sentient and non.  But she is still just a program, which leaves her vulnerable to code corruptions.  And if the hardware on which she resides is damaged, she may be lost forever
  • Engineering Section – A misshapen MC Escher design of winding corridors with questionable gravity make the Engineering Section a habitat left for the fearless or optionless. The inherent danger of a long forgotten experiment run amok or just a shifting mass of supplies precariously balanced on an outcropping means being constantly alert. And constantly tired. You do get really wiz trinkets and gear … if you can live long enough to make them work consistently. 
    • Tinkers Guild – Springing up where the command structure collapsed, the children of the actual engineering crew ended up turning a tween gang into a functioning guild. It doesn’t hurt that the scruffy little ragamuffins are the most adept at tinkering and repairing parts of the ship. Dealing with them can feel a lot like trading chocolate for bullets, but you have to do what you have to do and the TInkers Guilds’ twinkling eyes and mischievous nature make them especially dangerous in the enclosed space of the Ark. 
    • Duct Goo – A lovely little product thought up and then made real by the tinker’s guild.  Old School duct tape has been in use for various engineering flash repairs for such a long time.  So why not improve the go to quick fix?  Necessity being the mother of invention and all that.  The guild took into account the need for it to work in a wide variety of environments (Irradiated, extreme heat, extreme cold, zero grav, under water, etc) and came up with an amorphous substance that will take on specific qualities when exposed to different electromagnetic frequencies.  Once exposed, the solid “remembers” its properties.  And works to “duct tape” whatever is broken in place so it can be fixed at a later date.  Thing is that this substance requires unique and rare substances to make, so it has to be used sparingly. 
  • Storage/Bullhead – This is where any and all raw materials, scavenged or brought with are stored.  Also unidentified items, which need to be analyzed for usefulness and safety are kept here in isolation, to prevent accidental contamination.  Depending on the day/event/situation, the place can look like a tetris expert organized it or the aftermath of somebody shaking a lego box everywhere, writ large.  The area can also be used as an impromptu research station as the need arises
    • Research Block Zeta – Coming across strange and unique organic and inorganic materials is almost expected on this journey.  Research Block Zeta is set up with various scanning/analyzing tools as well as storage containers.  Standard storage containers from flasks and test tubes are mingled in with high power magnetic and plasma “bottles”.  While this research area is a lot less organized than the ship’s lab, many researchers enjoy the rustic and “cutting age of science” feel of the area.  It is also the most dangerous assignment for any of the science minded, since they have no idea what may be stored next to them.  Or what may happen when a power fluctuation lowers the containment strength of the magnetic bottle.
    • Lemurian Wyvern – One undisputed fact about the bulkheads is that a predator stalks its darkened recesses. Slipping in and out of different storage areas and bulkheads, the killer called the Lemurian Wyvern has been a threat to lone Arkers for over a century. The best information anyone can share, or is willing to share, is that victims are often damp with water, rent with sharp and devastating claws or blades, and branded with a wyvern somewhere on their body when found. It is a constant tension because the beast’s origin can’t be found in the computer system leaving many to believe an alien has infiltrated the ship while others claim its a ploy of the Command Section to keep everyone else in line. Or maybe just a fungus in the wheat. 
  • Command Section – Command holds an outsized importance on the Ark and the vast majority of controls for the Ark’s functions reside there … but these systems come with the downside of being the most frequently malfunctioning. The high tech, high demand computers require constant upkeep which means inhabitants of Command are constantly trading favors and resources to keep not only their little corner running but the ship flying. 
    • Leftenant Grigori Hayabusa. Inheriting the title of Leftenant from his father who inherited it from his father before him and who inherited it from his father before him … or maybe some sort of ceremonial competition, Grigori is best described as a well intentioned buffoon. Griks, as he is also called, can’t seem to help but stumble over his own ideas and plans. Perhaps it is the insulation from any responsibility growing up in the lap of technological luxury that kept him from actually internalizing the skills of his parents, or perhaps it’s the well hidden extra temporal lobe that showed up in an early brain scan. A quietly dangerous and calculating inhabitant of the “Command Section”, Grigori may harbor more answers than his inept appearance seems. 
  • Civilian Welfare – The section that was to be the most important section for the generational long trip is now the biggest wreckage of the ship. With little to provide a structure to its place, Civilian Welfare was the first area stripped of useful materials and mined of its components as immediate repairs had to be made in the first few decades. Perhaps the Arkers will come to regret having cannibalized their own civil society but it was in the name of pure survival. The miles and miles of run down and abandoned shops, faux parks, and recreational expanses are dotted with outcasts and exiles who couldn’t find a way to keep their wits in the horizonless Ark coupled with an ever present question of whether any particular room has been exposed to the vacuum of space. Taking a walk on the welfare side is to take your life into your own hands, if you are lucky.
    • Felix Chin – Felix is the person who is most likely to slip into and out of other Sections with “special deals” from Civilian Welfare leftovers! Felix is the head of a roughly organized chain of smugglers and grey market dealers who provide access to nearly anything you can imagine, often made from parts or pieces of a bygone recreational era. A special deal, this week only, and found virtually untouched by vacuum by yours truly! What is it? A box, my dear girl, a box! What is in the box? What IS in the box . . . 

Closing remarks 

Zendead – Enhance Game Bags I have been looking for a new GM go bag for awhile and I found one that does everything I need. It holds enough books and minis as well as all my dice and pencils. It even has a cool map strap for your maps that are too big to go in the bag.  I love mine. 

    Joules – Makai Kingdom – Turn Based Grid/esque video game.  It is intentionally over the top, campy, and crazy silly.  If you liked the mechanics of Final Fantasy Tactics, but want something insanely sillier?  It’ll overlord your faces off!

    Guard-a-Manger – Ms. Marvel. A reimagining of the quintessential Marvel comics story of a teenage outsider who has to come to grips with special powers in a world that doesn’t automatically love them. Ms. Marvel takes the breakout smash Ms. Marvel comic book hit and not only seamlessly adds it to the MCU but does it with a wit, charm, and poignancy other shows have lacked. 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us

 

Author Pages with all of our contact info

Zendead 

Joules 

Guard-a-manger

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Dog Days of Podcasting Day 5
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 Deter the Meter

What do you need to do kid? Are you kidding me? The Layout artists approved this? I don’t think so. I may be old but I sure as hell ain’t stupid. You know that the time to print that is going to be so long that it is going to show up on the Shift manager’s log. Get out of here before I let Samiel know you were down here trying to do this. 

Deter is an old timer that still works to help maintain the printers. He can tell by looking at a spool if it will be enough to finish a print. Not because he is that good at printing as a matter of fact he does have anything to do with printing anything. He has been cleaning up since he was a kid. Maintenance came as second nature to Deter. He can replace anything on a printer from the small ones that see almost daily use to the vehicle printers that don’t get used very much. The parts for them all he has to ask for since he can’t figure out how the software works.

Deter has been doing this job forever but his true passion is to go to one of the observation decks and stare out into the void. He lets his mind wonder which then opens him up to the crowd of voices that are always pushing into his mind. It is these moments that give him the piece to be a person. Because most of the time Deter is sure that something is not right in his mind. 

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Dog Days of Podcasting Day 4
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Sammie “The Worm” Gregory

Sammie is a scrounger and cleaner. She is working on her understanding of the printers and how to work them. The big printers all the way down to the smallest ones hold her attention like no one’s business. She has been trying to get a berth in the guild since she could run under a printer and scraped some of the hot resin to soak in the chemical bath that makes it possible to reuse filament, at least after it has been extruded again. 

Sammie hates the nickname of the Worm. How would they like it if she started calling all the others by a gross feature that they had? Not everyone these days is born perfect. Some people can not help the fact that they didn’t have parents that were important. Getting children checked for genetic anomalies before birth is something not for the average person on the ship. Which is why Sammie has the issue she does. Her left arm has no bones in it and a musculature similar to that of a cephalopod. 

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Seize the GM
Dog Days of Podcasting Day 3
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Layout Artist Jackson Macgee

Jackson is a newer artist when it comes to creating protective gear for the engineers. The suits he makes can be anything from tight fitting printed on a skinsuit with the wearer in the tank to built post fabrication when the pilot comes in for final fitting. These systems have some prefabricated pieces that are easy to slap into the suits. Equipment that makes working on engineering issues easier like cutters and tool sets. Those are not what Jackson likes doing his forte is the smaller, tighter, and more personal suits. 

He has started to take on a few apprentices to help with the work of getting protective suits built. At some point very soon the command is going to have to start looking for a place where they can send some people down to get more supplies. He wants to be one that goes down so he can help in getting the raw material for the printers. If he stays on the good side of Artemis then he stands a very good shot at being on the ground party surveying for supplies. 

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Seize the GM
Dog Days of Podcasting Day 2
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Chief Layout Artist Artemis 

CLA Artemis may be one of the few that is truly capable of creating from nothing the files to make whole new prints. She has spent more time with every old timer in the union than anyone else. While not wanting to lose any of the knowledge that they have. She records audio and video of all that will allow it. As well as takes copious notes on anything and everything that they will part with as far as knowledge goes. She has been working on a deep archive that can not be lost or so she believes.

Artemis has figured out new ways to do 3d-prints. As well as ways to save on the amount of material used in the process of printing. While she is doing all of this she has not been working on training new Compositors for the union and that is leading to conflict in the union. Artemis does want to get as much recorded before any more knowledge is lost to the void. Petitioning any option to get raw material to create material is something Artemis is working on in the background. Also she is trying to figure out a way to broker a deal that gets the tinkers guild helping to create new power generation for the ship. In the end she wants there to be a way to repair all the systems on the ship. 

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Dog Days of Podcasting Day 1
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Compositor Union

The Compositor’s Union is the faction that is in charge of the 3d printing tech and all it can do. If it is inorganic they can print it. Printers work in many different mediums. Now the power needed to get the manufacturing up to speed and get parts out has run into two different stop gaps which are print medium and power. The power needed to get the big printers up and going uses a lot of energy. Which will of course pull power from other sections that are also in need of that energy.

Printing mediums can be made from raw materials in short order. Though after so long there is only some of the original left and making new stuff always needs power to do so. They can make small batches but even salvage runs into the Civilian Welfare section are producing less salvage that can be used. It is getting to be time to start trying to find worlds that can be harvested for material that can then be used to make more printing stock. Command doesn’t want to waste time and manpower to get the material that the Compositors need. Though they might need to get things printed soon.

“River of Io” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

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Seize the GM
Episode 148: Worldbuilding and Themes for Setting
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Main Topic

In the last episode we let you in on what we are doing this season. We all pitched a setting . . . and then we came to the conclusion that they all had a place in this season’s setting! To recap:  The setting is an Ark Ship that had left early from its dock ahead of a catastrophe of some sort. In doing so, it didn’t have all the supplies it would need and was carrying full gene lines for every creature that was left on the home world. But the shielding on the ship isn’t complete, Resources are needed to manage the potential mutations for the crew and their descendants as well the normal repairs needed for the ship. Will whatever finally finds a new home be human, something we would recognize as human, or whole new creatures once the journey is over? 

Now we are going to dive into the major themes for the season. This will also help to direct the type and way we are going to look at worldbuilding. One significant impact on the themes is that a Savage Worlds engine encourages pulpy game play and results, so more Buck Rogers than Space: Above and Beyond from the mechanical system. 

Themes

The themes we think are going to be present are as follows:

Desperation – The ship is going to get to the new world but will the people be ok and will the seeds of life brought with them be viable? What tradeoffs will be needed?  

Scarcity – Things on the ship are in a state of decline. The ability to repair things is present but the parts are starting to run out. What do you do to find new ways to repair items? What sort of partial successes are you open to? 

Exploration – As different environments on the ship and on other worlds are encountered, the sense of wonder and “what is over the hill” should be used. It isn’t a horror game so a sense of hope has to be available and can best be found in something “new”. 

Worldbuilding

Technology Level – Part of any Sci-Fi setting is the technology level – while lacking a “warp” drive of some sort, planetary exploration or at least asteroid exploration means some level of advanced travel or a highly “messy” area of space. 

Because a post-apocalyptic setting makes much story potential out of the character choices in the face of limitations, the technology has to be recognizably limited but also advanced enough to build out the world. Will this be more of a steampunk creaking corridor and venting pipes sort of tech or a cleaner, if still malfunctioning, stream of lights?

Density – How often would new planets or biomes be encountered? Should it be built around one per session, per arc, or per campaign? How frequently should the players encounter something they don’t have the answer for? Are there other lifeforms out there? 

Closing remarks 

    Zendead – Let’s Summon Demons Ok I am not a board game person but this game is so fun. I played like 10 times over 2 days with my wife. We got so into it we want to try the other ones in the series. 

    Guard-a-Manger – Defiance. Sci-Fi Channel’s show with an MMORPG tie-in was an example of a unique world and great worldbuilding across multiple platforms that fits a lot of the themes for our world. I may be using this as inspiration as we look at aliens, scarcity, wonder, and hope in a world that is left shattered by the past. 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us

 

Author Pages with all of our contact info

Zendead 

Joules 

Guard-a-manger

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Episode 147: Season 6 Opener- Creating a Post Apocalyptic Campaign
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Main Topic

Intro

After we ran a poll with the Patreon Subscribers whose votes counted double and a poll on twitter we are here. And where is here? We are at the collapse, the end of days. Well actually it is after that has come to pass. We are in the Post Apocalypse. What does that mean for this, and why does it matter? 

Well this season of the show we are going to be doing something much different then we have done since we started this podcast. In the past we talked about how to create campaigns. This year is going to be taking those things and doing a build out with the bits you will need to run a full campaign. But first things first we are going to be talking about what it means to be post-apoc. 

What is Post Apoc?

There are several things that help to define the genre. Below are several of them. These are some of the core features. Depending on time frames and other things there can be more and different features. 

Identifying features:

  • Resource Scarcity – Post Apocalyptic settings are always starved for resources of various kinds
  • Declining Tech – New tech cannot be made up to the old standards. Something was lost in the apocalypse
  • Exploration or re-exploration vibes
  • Feudal Social Structures – Reversion to less democratic or anarchic structures in favor of authoritarianism
  • Limited Choice – Limited resources create limited choices

Guard-a-Manger Concept

ISS Pandora 

A huge generational ship or Dyson sphere launched before its time. The impending solar catastrophe wrecking the planet slowly was only accelerating and before the solar flare could wipe out all of what was left, the ISS Pandora was launched taking with it what it could. Attempting to outpace the collapsing solar system behind it, Pandora makes its way through space.

The different crew designations and then noncrew make the factions. All equipment wasn’t loaded before launch and repair parts are nonexistent. 

Zendead Concept

Typhon

The Typhon Project is one that mankind had planned to use to terraform the moon of Io. Mankind had started to terraform so very slowly this moon. They had a number of sections of the moon that were semi habitable by humans. Well humans might be stretching that a bit. Gene rewriting to make them able to live there was the short term plan of a generation or two at the most but then the Typhon project was brought online. 

There were a few hundred city states all over the moon and when the project was made active something happened. No one is sure since once it started the moon underwent a drastic change almost overnight. The moon was declared dead by the rest of mankind since the people couldn’t have survived what happened. 

What really happened? That is the biggest question and was it the plan from the beginning? Who has the pieces and what has been lost in this world? And more importantly what has survived?

Joules Concept

Eileithyia

One of the “Cradles of New Civilization” has reached the end of life.  It was one of 100 ships sent out from a dying earth.  Plagued with ever worsening technical challenges, the ship has to find a habitable planet in the near future, as well as protect the various biological specimens stored on the ship.

DNA is so very fragile, and exposure to cosmic radiation can introduce so many risky variables.

Do they continue to “undo” the damage to the DNA strands, which consume precious resources?  Are they try and protect only the most necessary and fragile specimens, hoping that the hardier ones survive?  Do they just cross their fingers and hope for the best

Who gets the resources, because if the ship crashes, all that effort is for naught.  But if the specimens are destroyed, same result. 

Closing remarks 

    Zendead – The Lost City By Goodman Games, this is so good. 

    Joules – Everlore by Manchild Ltd Games.

    Guard-a-Manger – Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Streaming on Amazon Prime, a movie from the early 2010s that is full of camp, fun, and some neat ideas of world building coming off of the idea of Hansel & Gretel as adult bounty hunters. 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us

 

Author Pages with all of our contact info

Zendead 

Joules 

Guard-a-manger

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Seize the GM
Episode 146: Statblockapolooza Part 7
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Main Topic

We are going to throw down a person, place and thing in three different themes. Let’s see what our creations are with the themes of Aliens, Fallen Empires, and When the master is away the minions will play.

Stat Blocks

    Zendead

Empress Halid Padidalious the First

Who says that the Calphanians are still around? Or any from the line of succession at that. They were all killed. It was the only way to ensure that the dynasty of the Padidalius would truly end. The empire spanned over 200 star systems and was ruled with a fist so tightly it was only a matter of time before the other nobles, that had been appointed by the emperor, wanted more. 

The rules were simple, if you were a noble you held the system you had been given no more no less. That never works because the drive and ambition that made these rulers seen by the emperor was the same that made them want more. After the coup that leveled the palace and with it the whole line of the emperor.  Or so they had been told by the ones that did the actual deed. 

The stasis pod lid slid into the pod. The air washed over the face of the young woman inside. Her clothing was intact but not made for the wilds of this planet. She jolted awake as if from a nightmare. The woman tumbled from the pod and emptied her stomach. As her hand touched the palm reader inside the pod the system spoke. “We are sorry to have to tell you this but you are the only and last survivor of the Paidalius Empire your world is no more. I have the names of those that have done this but it has been a century since you were awake Empress. We will help to teach them that the Empire is still yours.” 

The Emissary Protocol

Slipping between the layers of the planet’s atmosphere was easy for the object. It was more of a filament than a massive object like you see in the holovids on the networks. Once its mass had gotten through the atmosphere it was quickly collected by some intelligence and wrapped until it became a sphere roughly 3 meters in diameter. Then it started spinning like a ball of twine reeling in the rest of the filament. Not all of it had made its way on the planet as it were. More and more collected it was pushing itself quickly into the sphere. Once it got to the size of 81 meters it then shifted again in its shape and this was when the planet’s defenses were made aware of its presence but it was too late it was here. 

At this point the shape changed into what looked like a spike of metal. It was still in the atmosphere but then it let gravity take hold and it plunged to the surface. Something the locals were not aware of was that it had been very careful of all its changes and landings into the surface. It was going to land in an uninhabited spot with miles of empty space around. The impact was unlike any before. It plunged into the ground burying 81 meters into the ground. The whole time it had continued to add mass from its trail. Where it hit it was already double the size it had been when freefall had started. It had added a total of  6561 meters of total size before the locals arrived. 

Its shape had changed one last time before they arrived. It was a triple helix DNA spiral like the locals had but not like the originators had. Theirs was a double helix mobius strip which was on the base next to the handprint scanner that would match any native to the planet. They needed an emissary to speak for them to the locals. The language of math might be universal but this target race was still planet bound. That would be changing very soon for they needed soldiers in the war that was coming to this part of space. 

The Once Great Starfield of Safalion Prime

Earth once had a story called The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It was cute at first and near the end it was showing the dangers of too much power too soon. This is the same type of issue that happened with the Great Starfield of Safalion Prime. It stretched across many star systems before the foundlings came to Safalion Prime. 

What are the foundlings? They are the remains of a forgotten experiment by some other power in the galaxy. They have an uncanny ability to kitbash technology. This is not something that they think through before playing with. This is what makes them a plague on the galaxy. So a hundred years ago they created something that is now called The Star Eater. 

The Star Eater is what has given us The Once Great Starfield. Somehow they figured out how to make a machine that can break down stars at a fast rate. Then use the energy to continue the destruction of more things. The part of the galaxy that surrounded Safalion Prime was destroyed in a matter of days. Something no one thought could be done. While most other civilizations had a few days, most planets that were habitats were gone too fast for evacuation. It spread fast and in a way no one could predict. All life and light were wiped from that portion of the galaxy. Now it is just black blank space. 

The worst part is that the foundlings are still out there. What will be the next place they make empty space because of something else they have created. 

    Joules

The Spine of the Black Citadel

It’s been months since the Master Tower was locked in some kind of temporal stasis.  Initially, we worked as if nothing was amis.  We had our orders and we performed them dutifully.  Keeping the tower running in our master’s absence.

But as days stretched into weeks, chaos began to creep in.  The lack of absolute authority gave rise to chaos.  Various teams all operating independently.  At times unintentionally undermining each other.  Something had to change.  The head of the research team put out a missive to the rest of the leads.  We need to work together or everything will fall apart.  Leaving our citadel easy pickings for the various warlords.

We set up a council of sorts.  The leads of the various organizations would meet weekly to discuss any issues, set policy, and coordinate efforts.  Each team from magical research to home defense to repair and maintenance was represented.  All issues and concerns could be presented with no fear of reprisal.  The only way the citadel would survive would be if there were no secrets between us.  We were able to keep everyone supplied, safe and cared for as long as knowledge was shared and lines of communication remained open.

Then something strange happened.  What began as a clumsy way to coordinate citadel functions became a well oiled machine.  Inter-organizational fighting and undermining ceased. We became a united force, each doing their part to defend the citadel and ensure the prosperity of its occupants.  Other warlords attempted to attack the citadel, only to be repulsed by unanticipated tactics and a ferocity no one expected.

We still continue our work, to keep the Citadel safe. We wait for the day the Master returns to take the Citadel back.

If he can

The Cycurian

At first no one was sure what it was.  An exoplanet survey team found it crashed into our moons, covered in regolith.  A flimsy twisted metal construct.  Pockmarked by innumerable meteroid collisions.  So much time was spent analyzing the materials.  An even longer time scanning and analyzing its structure, guessing at its purpose.  Analysis showed the age to be into the billions of years.

It was then that the golden disc was discovered.  Basic pictograms adorned its surface.  Two bipedal creatures. How strange.  Mobility with only two legs.  The lack of body covering was a constant jest amongst the exobiologists.  Still, full understanding of its nature eluded us.   What did the radial symbol mean?  The line of circles at the bottom?  But it was one of our younger researchers who noticed the two circles at the top.  Originally we thought them clamp impressions or something as inconsequential.  The researcher made an offhanded comment about Hydrogen and how it reminded him of an image from his collegiate chemistry holo-vid.  Something about transition or something.  

That was the key.

We were able to decipher it.  Understand it.  It was primitive, yet effective. The radial symbol denoted the orbital periods of various pulsars.  It was a bit of an effort to identify the pulsars referenced.  Some of the periods had drifted, but it was a simple task to “turn back the clock” as it were.

We found a section of the galaxy that in our distant past was extremely noisy, specifically in the radio part of the spectrum.  Maybe there?

But we had a location, a map, and a mystery. Maybe this is the proof we have been searching for.  That life existed, independent of the Cycurian empire.  That uplifted itself, independent and free from our assistance.

Terran Dynasty

After finding the artifact, the populace once again seemed to find wonder in the stars.  In the many mysteries it still held.

Recruitment for this expedition required so many specialized experts.  Archeology, Anthropology, Chemistry, Geologists and countless others.  Preparations for the expedition continued at a nearly frenzied pace.  It would take some time to get there, even with Hyperdrive. But patience was in short supply and the expedition left Cycurian space as soon as they were able.

We arrived at the system indicated, but something was wrong. There were not 9 planets as previously indicated.  Only 4 large gas giants circled a white dwarf star.  The four smaller planets no longer existed.  A scan of the remaining planets revealed various structures, all long abandoned.  Maybe information about this lost civilization could be gleaned.  Many of the remaining structures appeared to be research facilities.  Their technology was primitive yet effective.  They stored their data electronically, so it was an easy task to modify our light based technology to access it.  We were able to decode some of the terminology and translate a word or phrase here and there.  There were seemingly innumerable variations of language which will make universal translation a very slow endeavor.  But we were able to glean some information from these storage systems.  Seems their physiology was carbon based and they relied on oxygen to power many biological processes.  (Makes sense, Oxygen is incredibly volatile and it would have been a simple biological hack to use this element.)

They worked in groups of similar abilities, but lived in groups that seemed to have little in common.  How strange.  And how inefficient.

We found various repositories that contained an amalgamation of various sounds. We are not sure of their function, but there are many stored here, under a title called “Playlist”  

But what happened to them was still a mystery.

But there may be a clue nestled in the small rocks at the edge of the system.

We’ve identified a very weak signal on one of the larger ones.  We have not deciphered the full dataset, but we have decoded the broadcast. 

“Final Record of the Ark Project.  The last hope of survival for the Terran Dynasty.  We entrust the remaining citizens of the Human Empire and our future to the stars.”

    Guard-a-Manger

Klyfaxxian Exploratory DutyStation 

Cycle: -4. Klyfaxxian Standard Dates

Exploration is a double edged sword. It is always a highlight of the Space Secretariat’s year when they have a fresh contact to crow over and new worlds to show on the vidcast. You would think that the Space Secretariat’s charge to not only explore but also safeguard the border regions would get more attention. But the attention goes to the exciting and sexy NEW ALIENS WE FOUND. I really do expect the budget requests each and every cycle to get a closer look but it never hurts re-election to get your picture taken with an alien, does it?

Cycle: -2 Klyfaxxian Standard Dates

This time around, it seems like the newest find from the spin side of the border expanse is mostly benign. What could possibly go wrong, they don’t even have a warping drive yet – just low key intra-system rockets based propulsion. Simple political structures, or tribal structures, it is hard to tell from the reports the Space Secretariat lets out into the ether. It’s not entirely clear where that head evolved though, it is so … small and compact. Perhaps thats why they don’t have a more developed space program. It would make sense that these were not truly ready for admittance into a larger and grander sphere.  

Cycle: Null KSD. 

Whatever else those acurrsed little monkeys are, they are a pest first and foremost. We should never have let the Space Secretariat adopt so many of them for study and exchange programs. Exchange programs … that’s just the War Secretariat’s shorthand for “We don’t have to tell them where we are taking them” for military purposes. Enough of them managed to escape from their captivity that it’s been hard to disguise what was going on now. Slave labor isn’t going over well, and the fragility of the current Dictariat’s hold on the economy has definitely been faltering. We should have known better than to think that a version of a hairless ape would be good for something other than documentary vids shot from cloaking. 

Cycle: 297 Uplift Standard Year

**It is remarkable to find such well preserved records or diaries of the previous inhabitants of the planet. What is perhaps the most revealing, or worrying is that they seem to be describing us in various ways. If we were involved in being resettled, relocated, or kidnapped hundreds of years ago, why isn’t there a better record of it? Is this why we have not made any new star cruisers? Did we inherit a dead planet or take it away from those bug-eyed pictured life forms like a virus?**

Chrysanthemum Maxwell Dellegrotto, the IV

Each one of the artifacts had their own luster and special circumstance. They were Legendary Items after all – spoken of in hushed tones around the darkened corners of the best kept secrets of the world. The Torus, the Battery, the Chain, the Pendant, and the other three all kept the shadow world humming for centuries. It couldn’t just be the connection to the Eidelons that populated these same shadow worlds, kept apart from the broader world. There was some deeper connection between the Eidelons and the Artifacts. 

Enter Chrysanthemum Maxwell Dellegrotto, the IV. Chrysanthemum, or Chrissy for those who actually meet her more than once, has been a fixture in the shadows of the world for at least half a century. You don’t really ask certain questions since she doesn’t appear to age quite as much as would be expected … but with the mental powers of an Eidelon fresh on your mind, a way to delay the onset of old age doesn’t seem too strange anymore. Chrissy uses her control over the Blazarethian Foundation to ensure that her goals are being met – one of those goals seems to be the collection of the various 7 Legendary Artifacts. 

It should be enough to seek out even one of them, the Legendary Antillian Torus seems to pass into new hands every decade at least, as they present themselves as a treasury beyond reckoning to all but the least aware of the true workings of the world. Every government wants them, every Eidelon has felt their draw, and each and every time one is hinted to be found, Chrissy hires people to try to get it for her. It has been rumored that the Blazarethian Foundation has managed to acquire at least four of the seven, and hold them in a safe storage facility on a remote isle. 

You took the invitation to that remote isle because you had to know whether it was true. You’ve set eyes on one of the artifacts, years ago, and had to see whether these rumors were true. They were. Five artifacts pulsed inside of what appeared to be glass displays, each humming in its own pitch and its own tone. Chrysanthemum stood in the center of the room, two cases empty, and as she let her false skin slide from the lie of her human form, she invited you to sit so she could “Shed light on what has truly occupied your human culture for the last two millenia.” 

Automatic Bot Cleaning Deployment, the ABCDs

10. RUN Diagnostic 1

20. RUN User Input 1

30.  . . . ERROR . . . 

35. . . . ERROR . . 

40. GOTO 60

50. If you are reading this we have missed the opportunity to input the safety code on the automatic cleaning system. Please be aware that the automatic cleaning system will no longer accept overrides until programming is complete. 

60. RUN Sanitize 1

65. RUN Mapper 2

70. RUN Mopper 1

75. CONFIRM SANITIZE [[MAPPER 2]] [Y/y]

80. RUN Dustbin 1

81. COUNTER [[DUSTBIN]]

85. If [[DUSTBIN=10]], RUN Flush

90. COUNTER [[FLUSH]]

95. IF [[FLUSH=5]], RUN Nuke, 

96. IF [[FLUSH =/= 5]], GOTO 60

100. CONFIRM [[NUKE]] [Y/y]

101. Goodbye.

Closing remarks 

    Zendead – Ultraman on Netflix is a fun and crazy trip into a classic Japanese TV Series and so much more. Cool character design and storytelling. 

    Joules – The Pentaverate.  Probably one of the silliest super science/secret societies parody I’ve ever listened to. It stars Mike Myers in a variety of roles. And Jeremy Irons narrates the intro.  And if you skip the intro, you get scolded. BY JEREMY IRONS!

    Guard-a-Manger – Warehouse 13. It is on Amazon Prime streaming and one of my favorite shows that delved into the Weird Science/Mysterious History setting tropes. A marvelous ensemble cast with electrifying chemistry makes this a romp and half worth the laughs and cries. 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us

 

Author Pages with all of our contact info

Zendead 

Joules 

Guard-a-manger

Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 145: How to be a good citizen at the game table
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Main Topic

When you are sitting at the table to play a game what are you doing? Are you waiting to be led to the next thing or are you engaging in the game? How do you, as a GM more often than not, make a gaming table more fun, fulfilling, and low stress for another GM? That is what we are going to be talking about on this episode of Seize the GM. 

  • Take the Clue or Hint and run with it – Make the GM’s life easy by engaging with the plot elements that are presented. We’ve all had games where the players actively ignored the plot hints right in front of them or made an effort to derail what was put in the world; don’t be that player to another GM.
  • Give Other Players Spotlight Time – It is easy to crave the chance to roleplay only one character when you finally are on the players’ side of the GM Screen, but remember to share. Being a GM means you may play support characters more often and work to ensure other players are engaged. Like when you GM, have your character grab the character that hasn’t spoken up in half an hour and get them into the thick of it. 
  • Be Mechanically Adept – Know your character’s mechanics. Be ready to answer a GM’s question about what any unusual powers or special rules may be for what you are playing. You should have a good command of the rule system anyway, but pick up as much mental slack for the GM as possible by being ready to apply your character to the world. There are a bunch of “crutches” you can use, from notecards, sticky tabs in your book, even a basic list of your powers and what books and what pages they can be found in.

Be Generous, Be Friendly, and Be Good

Stat Blocks

Zendead

I don’t have anything tonight. Sorry the block is real right now. 

Joules

Whose Miracle

“If everything is a blessing, then either nothing’s a blessing or the gods are incredibly fucked up.”

-ZIppy Toetag

If you actually think about it, the concept that everything is a miracle can be incredibly hilarious and/or abjectly terrifying.  To go to an old standby, take the platypus.  Dionysus is all like,”Yeah sorry man, there was a rager the other night, and while I’ll not explicitly state its nature, there was a wager involved.”  But everyone thinks of that one.  Now let’s consider Beethoven.  If you think about it, he was blessed by Apollo (God of Music) and Harpocrates (God of Silence).  What a horrific, tortured existence.  Created brilliant timeless compositions that he would never hear.  

Heck, you could be the innocent bystander in the granting of someone else’s miracle.  Sure Thor may smite some guy’s enemy with lightning, but you were standing next to said enemy at the crosswalk. And Thor’s not too concerned about splash damage. Lightning arcs and now you’re in the hospital and all your electronics are fried.

Well at least you can point the blame rather than deal with the concept of a cold unfeeling universe.

And I’m not going to even start with how the muses would fit into all this.  

But there remains one last thing that folks don’t consider.  The miracles and blessings of long lost gods.  Forgotten gods, whose worshipers have been dead for hundreds/thousands of years. Adherents beseeching their deities to have the earth swallow up their enemies, for the rains to fall upon the land and make it fertile, for food to be plentiful. If you think about it, really think about it, it may explain sinkholes, dams breaking and flooding the lowlands and locust swarms (high in protein).  

How to Use Whose Miracle in Game:

Kind of a way to turn the whole “gods influence the world” Paradigm on its head

Guard-a-Manger

The Shattered Labyrinth

Cloaked in an ever-dense fog amidst the Blotackian Fen, a particular ruin lies waiting while it sinks slowly beneath the encroaching miasma. That can’t be right. The deserted ruins you are looking for are in the Khonfarga desert only being revealed from the ever shifting sands once a generation. That seems wrong too … the clues from the history book point to a Lushithani mountain pass that is permanently covered in snow and ice blocking the way to the sheer cliff face that holds the thousand and one steps to the Shattered Labyrinth.

It is confounding to have so many clues that all lead to different locations … Where do you start? You need the lost and hidden knowledge of a time long gone and the ruins are the only lead you’ve been able to identify. Now you have to race to … one of the three ahead of whoever else is on this fool’s errand. Days of travel, searing winds or quicksand, frozen lakes or sand dunes, and avalanches or grasping vines leave you weary and depleted but you arrive at the entry of the Shattered Labyrinth. Traps, hostile inhabitants, crazed foliage, and more have all tried to stop you but that is behind you now. Literally! You need to get inside!

The danger seems to be passed, as the vaulted doors close behind you to a surprisingly well kept and tidy “Shattered Labyrinth.” It isn’t too long before you make your way deeper into the depths, your torches flickering ominously as you follow the twists and turns of this ossuary to a dead Empire. One by one you pass by doorways and glance through the slightly ajar doors – you see a swamp, the desert sands, a frozen cliff face, and more … you see exits or maybe entrances from all of the stories locations. The seven archways in this hall each with a glyph over the keystone lead to different PLACES. 

Your shock has barely faded when you hear a voice as clear as day, “Dear, did you invite anyone over for dinner? Because we have visitors. No, I most certainly did not; you will not lay the blame for this on me. Be a dear and start the kettle.” Looking up, you realize that there is a Sphinx eyeing you with a mixture of curiosity, indifference, annoyance, and hospitality. You see what may be wings shimmering from her shoulders like they are flitting into and out of existence and a dull glow in her eyes. As her mate appears, levitating a cup of hot tea to your hands, you realize they are expecting an introduction from you.

How to Use The Shattered Labyrinth in Game:

Do you need a way to have your players quest for lost knowledge? Maybe the world has gotten a bit too stale? The Shattered Labyrinth is both a gateway and an Oracle. It can provide a way to cross the world or even jump to other worlds and holds the mysteries of a lost Empire and the knowledge long  gone. Whenever you need a good exploratory challenge, one of the other entrances to the Labyrinth can be sought….

Lexicon

Autarchy  noun (1)

au·​tar·​chy | \ ˈȯ-ˌtär-kē  \

Definition of autarchy (Entry 1 of 2)

AUTARKY

Definition of autarchy (Entry 2 of 2)

: absolute sovereignty : AUTOCRACY

First Known Use of autarchy

Noun (1)

1617, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1665, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for autarchy

Noun (1)

by alteration

Noun (2)

Greek autarchia, from aut- + -archia -archy

Look-up Popularity

Top 7% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead – Improv for Gamers 2nd Edition 

      Blade Runner RPG

Joules – Take a nap!  We’ve all been pushing ourselves so much to keep it together.  Take care of yourself and allow yourself to nap.  Recharge and Dream!

Guard-a-Manger – OMAC: One Man Army Corps. One of the last works Jack Kirby made for DC Comics, O.M.A.C. is a series set in a uniquely Kirby dystopian future where the Global Peace Agency recruits a young man to become their One Many Army Corps, or OMAC. A disturbing, brilliant, and utterly creative work that should fuel your own imagination for decades, especially as it was cut short in the original run but reverberates through comics and pop culture to this day. 

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us

 

Author Pages with all of our contact info

Zendead 

Joules 

Guard-a-manger
And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment