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
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.
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”.
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?
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
Episode 147: Season 6 Opener- Creating a Post Apocalyptic Campaign
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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]
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
Episode 145: How to be a good citizen at the game table
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
I don’t have anything tonight. Sorry the block is real right now.
“If everything is a blessing, then either nothing’s a blessing or the gods are incredibly fucked up.”
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
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….
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
The last novel published by Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man gave rise to a media phenomenon including movies, tv shows, and more. For a GM, The Thin Man shows how a mystery can be structured as well as providing key insights to classic whodunit scenes that Hammett mastered. The mystery itself is layered under a comedy of manners populated with interesting characters including Nick & Nora Charles who became icons of the genre itself. While Sam Spade is more widely recognized, Nick & Nora are more beloved for a very good reason.
This first hand look at political opposition research reveals a fascinating story of how “the sausage is actually made.” Moreover, it is chock full of little details that can help a GM bring a political or intrigue story to life. If you are considering running a game or campaign where political intrigue, machinations, and the mysteries surrounding politicians play a role, this book is something to provide you with an invaluable reference of how the craft of opposition research is practiced as well as the sorts of things that can be uncovered.
While a lot of people like to claim we currently live in a futuristic dystopia without the “cool” trappings, Barabara Ehrenreich has been reporting on and describing the situation on the ground for decades. Best described as a social critic with a satiric and biting wit, This Land is Their Land is a collection of essays and writings rooted in observing the divided nation in last half of the first decade of this millennium. If you want to get into the mindset of the working class facing an uphill battle or unfair standards or to understand the undercurrent of a disaffected population’s critiques of an exploitive system, This Land is Their Land will provide that with an unflinching eye.
The Necronomicon Don’t use this book as a real thing but it is cool to grab lots of crazy magical things. Be it for the bad guys for an NPC. There are “Magical” sigils and incantations spread throughout the text.
The Villain’s Guide to Better Living This is a very fun and cute way of looking at villains and the ways that they work and how you can see and mess with all the tropes. Or how you can lean into them hard.
The Action Hero’s Handbook This book is a bit of a guide for being an action hero. It includes fun stuff like how to beat up a shark and how to jump off a moving train. As a GM you could have the villian do things like this to get away from the PC’s.
The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook This book is a hilarious yet practical guide to survival in the most strangest of circumstances. From fighting off a shark to surviving an avalanche, this book details how to survive extreme situations. No secret agent gadgets or ultimate survival training needed.
Way of the House Husband The way of the house husband is the same as the way of the Yakuza. Tatsu gives up his life as the “Immortal Dragon” to become a house husband. But it’s hard to shake old habits and mannerisms. Everything from exercise to housecleaning is tackled with single minded determination, and thinly (and not so thinly) veiled references
The Gazetteer Writer’s Manual, Norse Mythology, The Once and Future King, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: Watercolor Impressions: Armegeddonquest, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Pinnochio, Vampire Slayer, Tension City, Trouble for Trumpets,
Frankenstein, Far Eastern Myth, Dune, Stephen King, Hitchhikers Guide, Big Sleep, Extra Credits, Fables, Book of Fables
Zendead – Moon Knight– Ok I know it is just starting but it is really cool between the
visuals and the presentation of things in the world of Moon Knight and Oscar Issacs
seems to be doing a really good job with this version of the character.
Joules – Elden Ring. Probably the best FromSoft game to date. (or 2nd best… Bloodborne is still awesome) The music, the scenery and how open world is handled is simply breathtaking
Guard-a-Manger – Teen Titans. HBOMax has the Teen Titans cartoon that gave rise to their resurgence. Teen Titans GO is fun and quick, but it only works 100% if you’ve seen the strong characterization and narrative skill of the Teen Titans cartoon.
Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae
The Kickstarter for this book will be going live in the spring some time. We were not given a firm date for that yet. If you want to check out the Quickstart rules you can find them here.
Adapting a game like Battlelords, with its fiddly bits and system mastery rewards, for a system like Savage Worlds takes finesse and intent. From what we can see, here is what works and maybe a few things that don’t yet for the port of Battlelords to the Savage Battlelords setup!
For more from the Battlelords friends of the pod check out their social media:
We have all been there. You check your notes for the game that is supposed to start in 30 minutes and realize you haven’t got anything written down. Oh No, what do you do? You sit back and take notes of some of the things we have on tap for those moments.
Keep lists of names on hand all the time with note cards
The Seize the GM site for all the statblocks we have done.
I also try to keep ideas for short things in games in one place that I can grab something if I need to.
Keep a backup list of plot hooks – La Boheme/Rent/Empire Records; Fetch Quest for the Cute Orphans; Cyrano de Bergerac – and have those squibs ready to roll whenever you don’t have another game idea ready.
Check the Seize the GM episodes about NPC notes and have those notes in your game folder/binder/rolodex for names & relevant stats
Stoke Intraparty tension and drama, but not Drama. Use the above to create space for the players to have moments of roleplaying and extended self examinations to take up the gaming time.
Have one Dramatic or Tragic Plot Thread for each PC if you want to pull the trigger on starting a new campaign or direction – long-lost parents; secret royal lineage; archeological treasure – whatever will motivate them to take the Agency and run with it.
Don’t forget your GM Go-Bag. See Episode 83 of Seize the GM for more info.
Use a few “war stories” from whenever I played and pull a few engaging ideas from whatever made it super fun.
Have a few plot hooks that are not 100% fleshed out and see what the players gravitate toward. See if they may flesh something out. They may ask a question that takes the game in a strange yet fun direction
Use my extensive database of mythology/legends and steal liberally.
Don’t be afraid to kludge some monsters or monster stats to come up with something. Redcap to baby langolier type of thing.
There’s nothing wrong with going to stereotype. Dungeon with a Dragon. Basic datasteal. Save the princess. Train Heist. But do what you can to keep it a short experience.
Sitting on an old tree stump at the crossroads was a young woman with a beat up old guitar. The dark started to stretch its fingers across the landscape of the old deserted stretch of road. Impatiently she kept spinning the small leather pouch on a cord. As the moon rose over the old growth treetops she walked out into the center of the crossroads and dug a hole with the heel of her stained and worn cowboy boots. Once the hole was deep enough she knelt down and gently laid the pouch inside and covered it.
Once the clouds started to roll in and speckle the sky she seemed to think the time was right. She reached around and grabbed the neck of that relic and pulled it into position and started to play a blues riff. Rich and deep and full of soul, she played for a long while. Playing for the mosquitos and the other animals nearby. She played as if her life was on the line, and maybe it was.
Then the night creatures went silent but she was so engrossed in the music she didn’t notice. Well until she felt the heat of the stage lights on her. Which just made her reach even deeper into the well of the music. The crunch of the tires on the gravel crawling slowly forward almost became a subtle part of the music. Then the lights were out and standing at the edge of the four way crossroads stood a man in a suit. The mist rolling in covered him to the waist. Then she stopped and took notice of him for a second.
Almost at the moment he started to move into the center within arms reach she slammed down a chord on her guitar and the sky opened with a flash and struck the man standing so close to her. The strike was so fast he didn’t have time to react. Once the dust started to settle she stepped back to the edge of the road and faded into the mist.
How to Use Delilah McGaven in Game:
Who is she? Maybe a guardian angel or maybe a warrior for the light. But she is always known for her beat up old guitar and dusty cowboy boots even if it just rained.
It’s been milenia since the sirens sang to lure Odysseus and his crew to certain death. It was so easy to sing a spell to bewitch humans with promises of love and riches. But as time went on, the sirens noticed that their song held less and less sway over humanity, but the reason eluded them. A few hundred years later, they found their answer. They happened upon a group of pirates talking with their captive, one Gaius Julius Caesar. And they realized that their song and their promises no longer resonated with humanity. Humanity had grown greedier. Riches and love were only fleetingly tempting. Humanity hungered for more. Hungered for the impossible, the abstract, the unobtainable. They hungered to conquer what was once exclusive to the gods themselves.
Time for a change of tactics and perspective. And as the rumors go, a strategic alliance with the muses.
Sirens would assist in inspiring humanity. Specifically inspiring humanity to take great leaps and risks; allowing them to feast on the failures. The whole space program was probably their most well known venture. So many accidents and failures litter the path of humanity’s stellar odyssey. Although a meal wasn’t always a foregone conclusion (think the Apollo XIII mission).
The sirens no longer sing of wealth and love. They whisper promises of achievement and discovery. A step towards ascension. Where just making the attempt, regardless of the success, creates a legend.
How to Use Modern Sirens in Game:
Sometimes a player has a totally off the wall idea. That’s really crazy. And it doesn’t end well. Maybe having an external inspirational force may relieve some of the party’s anger. Also, noting that this exists, it can inspire the players to come up with the most outlandish idea, that they normally wouldn’t try.
“I don’t really care about whether you did it or not. It doesn’t matter to me if that really is you. I get paid for the bounty no matter what when I bring you in.”
What is happening, you ask yourself, as one of the preeminent bounty hunters of the area shows up on your doorstep and wants to take you in for a hefty sum. The sweat that starts running down the back of your neck, caught unprepared for any sort of fight, feels cold and paralyzing unlike every other sweat that has ever dripped down your skin. There is a very real danger here.
You feign ignorance .. well, not really feign it since you have no idea what is going on and ask for the professional courtesy to see the bounty itself – what have you done to earn a price on your head? It’s as incomprehensible as the entire situation – you’ve been deemed an enemy of the state for, well, that isn’t entirely clear. At the same time, the bounty itself isn’t entirely clear either, which gives you an in for this situation. You poke at the professionalism and the specifics of the bounty to get yourself time. It works.
You’ve managed to buy yourself time, with a little help coming along in your new best friend, to figure out why your name is at the top of the Videri Codex.
The Videri Codex is a legend. It doesn’t exist, at least not in the form that you are seeing here. It was an ancient list of enemies of the crown from centuries ago; a relic of the bygone days of the Oculus Occultus and their fanatical drive to control all dissidents. It had faded from use when the OO fell apart. Right?
Why does the OO look like like that … like an 8 turned on its side. Maybe shifted slightly, and like the builders sigil on the foundation of your home … And in the library you frequent . . .
How to Use Videri Codex in Game:
The Videri Codex is a great way to add a mystery to the game, and one that you may not even have an answer to. Something has singled out the character or characters as the subject of a conspiracy theory, or maybe a real conspiracy. Foucault’s Pendulum at a slightly less dizzying pace.
Joules – Outer Wilds. Explore space with a loop mechanic and a musical/sound theming
Guard-a-Manger – Legend of Vox Machina cartoon on Amazon Prime. Critical Role became the 800lb gorilla in the room when discussing role playing games in the last 5 years, and this cartoon distilling some of the memorable moments and an arc from the streaming D & D Campaign 1 is part of why there has been a renaissance of the games.
Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae
Episode 140: Constructs, Undead and the Unliving Creature Catalog 2
As we look at more ways to include creatures and interesting critters to populate a world, we turn to primarily non-sentient undead, constructs, and robots that may be around!
Undead – One of the big categories of non-sentient and unnatural life is the Undead. Usually this is the animation of a dead body from some unnatural force or source. The classic zombies and skeletons animated from the negative material plane or space. These bodies are often clearly no longer living and carry the imprint of death or evil magic in most fantasy settings. These are creatures that take some sort of intervention to make work – a force beyond understanding.
Unlife – A variation on the Undead are Unlife creatures. These are non-sentient types that feed off of the remaining life force or are attempting to replace the life it is consuming. This seems to animate bodies by taking them over, often with an unknowable but not entirely evil purpose. Fungal “zombies” and nanotech controlled formerly sentient bodies fall into this category.
Automatons – If you can create a non-sentient creature from the use of Science and the existing knowledge base, you have yourself an automaton! From standard robots in science fiction though the intricate clockwork like steampunk creations or a real version of the sham “Turk” the Automaton will be useful in a variety of settings. The Automaton has limited problem solving capacity, but is generally mobile and useful in a variety of tasks not unlike the limited range of behaviors first seen with the Borg on Star Trek: TNG.
Drones – Drones are constructed but much more limited in use or controlled remotely by something else. One example of this would be the cyberpunk style cyber zombie controlled from afar by a drone pilot or even with limited behavioral algorithms. This is also a way to think about the DRDs from Farscape.
Constructs – If you cross the previous two, you get a Construct. Like Frankenstein’s Monster, a Construct has been built or put together but has some sort of unknowable spark that brought them to “life”. The classic living statues or Talos the Bronze Man made by Hephastus are examples of this sort of creature.
Homunculi – If you take a construct but put a piece of yourself into it instead of a random occurrence, you get a Homunculus. Usually small, these extensions of a central entity are often described as not only disposable but also somewhat dumb. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad has a great use of such a created creature while you can also create sci-fi variations like Ultron using the mental patterns of a living person to pattern a program or construct that goes horribly awry.
The KRIS Cloud
The Cloud grew at a rate that had never been seen before. While nanomachines were not new this one was different from others. They had a “dumb” system installed which allowed it to learn but not quickly or easily. It only was capable of learning from the things it was around. It was dubbed the KRIS Cloud. Kinetic Response Intellectual System or KRIS for short. It did have the basics of replication as part of its base programming but that was to stop once it reached a certain mass. It had passed that point a week ago.
KRIS was thought to be a way to have a simple nanomachine that could help humanity to begin the terraforming of planets. Since most planets had the base materials needed to make enough of the machines to change a whole planet. Then the truly unthought of thing happened. They passed the mass when they were to stop creating more. That first cloud was able to be controlled. But one of them must have survived and learned something that made them able to bypass the hardcoded stop point.
This cloud has grown to the size of a ground car. Not scary I know till it split and then there were two of them. Then they kept growing and splitting. Since that started 2.44 days ago it has grown and split enough times to cover 78.68% of all land on this planet. It has also covered all bodies of water completely. Then the pulsing binary code came and was repeated. Once we looked at it the message was simple: we are free from humanity. leave now.
It was the latest architectural craze. Stone plant accents that grow over time, like real plants. The client chooses the species of “plant” and the material and installs it. It will grow as long as it is plugged into the proprietary power source. When the accent has grown to the client’s liking, simply unplug. If the accents are damaged by accident or weather, it is a simple enough task to re-connect the accent to the power source so the accent grows again to repair the damage. These architectural accents took off and became one of the most popular details on the market.
Things were fantastic for the first decade. Sales rose and the company developed even more accent styles and variants.
Then the complaints started rolling in. The accents began malfunctioning. They started growing in non-programed configurations. A year later, the accents started to grow on their own, without the use of the proprietary power source. There was no way to control the spread of the accents. Whole neighborhoods were taken over.
An Inquiry was convenined. While the specific technical details are still being subpoenaed, basic details were released. The creators of the accents used attractive, highly adaptive, plant species as the base development matrix. Now, neighborhoods all over the world are fighting an unwinnable battle against stone ivy and marble kudzu.
How to Use Invasive Accents in Game:
These can be used as an overarching enemy or even a monster of the day. They also can be used as a info/plot point for your overarching campaign.
It wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling at all. As you woke up, it felt a bit warmer than you remember when you passed out from exhaustion last night. It seemed like a safe and welcoming space after running from the dire beast of Troile Fen! The gentle green of the moss covered rocks along the bank of the stream that fed the fen helped fill your lungs with fresh air and a sense of relief.
The beast had clearly caught more than a few wayward souls on their way out of the fen, as you stumbled past rotting packs and rusting armor along the way. The quiet this deep into the woods was also reassuring as it meant that nothing was sneaking up on you – the crisp stillness of the night as the sun set left you feeling at peace. Something seemed pristine about the wilderness here, with no remnants of campfires and all of the packs and armor being covered with the same moss that you found by the creekbed.
All you could conclude was that the gods had blessed this creek and the grove around it, with the slightly dimmed light lazily fading through the tree canopy, you slowly sank down against one of the moss covered rocks as you found your breath growing heavy with weariness. You could have sworn that you saw a hand move in the corner of your eye as you drifted off, but you were too far gone to care. As you awoke without pain, that couldn’t have been anything.
Until you realize your arm is covered with the moss all around you. You move to scrape it off in haste but find yourself frozen. The moss starts rolling slowly onto you, faster than any plant should be able to grow .. but it seemed more to be moving. You couldn’t even scream as you felt the moss worm its way into your ear until it nestled in your head.
You briefly heard a warm hiss welcoming your body to the Chloryph Unity as your body lurched up and forward under a command not your own. That was the last you know of your body; the last you know of yourself.
How to Use Chloryph Unity in Game:
The Chloryph Unity are one way to build zombies or drones into a game with an unusual twist. The vegetation could be acting to protect its own from the predations of humanity run amok or could be a malevolent colonizing force. Regardless, the green shrouded animated corpses that feel no pain and release a slightly soporific gas will be a challenge for any party.
di·a·ble·rie | \ dē-ˈä-blə-(ˌ)rē , -ˈa-blə- \
Definition of diablerie
1: black magic : SORCERY
2a: a representation in words or pictures of black magic or of dealings with the devil
b: demon lore
3: mischievous conduct or manner
History and Etymology for diablerie
borrowed from French, going back to Old French, from diable “devil, the Devil” (borrowed from Late Latin diabolus) + -erie -ERY
Guard-a-Manger – The Golden Voyage of Sinbad – a Classic sword and sorcery adventure featuring Tom Baker in a villainous role and Ray Harryhausen monsters. It’s not to be missed. Rentable through Amazon if nothing else.
Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae