Zendead Theme: Urban Primitive
Joules Theme: Twilight of the Paragon
Guard-a-Manger Theme: Alt-history
April 24, 1892 The manor house of Lady Alice Engelwood
Clicks and whirls filled the small room as ether filled its chamber. The face of a young woman solidified from the mist.
“Welcome new crew member. I am AlIce 2.0 at your service “
The distorted voice said from the victrola horn that was connected to the machine that filled most of the room.
“What does AlIce stand for? I know you want to ask but you have better manners than to ask a lady her secrets. So I shall tell you. Artificial Life Intelligence Cognitive Ether. Yes I am powered by a difference engine as well. You may call me Alice for short. I understand that the use of this should not make what I am possible but here we are good sir.”
Alice is not sure how she came to be but her creator Lady Alice Engelwood is. It happened as Lady Engelwood was finishing up her work on this difference engine. Lightning struck a misgrounded lightning rod that was connected to her lab. She was touching the Engine when it struck and somehow a shard of her personality was imprinted into the machine.
How to Use AlIce 2.0 in Game:
Alice 2.0 can be a great help on that Victorian Airship or as a science officer for your team. Since she isn’t distracted like a normal person she can work even when the others are sleeping. She could as well be working behind the characters back to bring about their downfall.
Water drips off of your cape as you make your way deeper into the cave system. The coordinates were dropped into your secure communication network that you share with the others. The team will not be happy that you are out here alone with no backup. But the message said to come alone.
The Infrared light you use to work in the dark without giving away your location lights the way. As you turn a last corner the flash of bright light forces your image enhancer to cut on to keep you from being blinded. Looking around you see the silhouette of the masked vigilante known as the Shade. But no one has seen or heard from them in the better part of 5 years. That is why you and your group got together and started doing what the Shade had started but never quite finished.
“Welcome Shawn.” The gruff voice called from above. “I see you got my message. “
“Yes I did and how did you break our encryption? Or better yet what is this place?”
“Well if your team would like a better setup and maybe a bit of help from time to time The Cavern is yours. It has all the tech and other things a team of vigilantes would need to bring the city the Justice I was not able to. This body is beaten and broken but my gear is still cutting edge and I have the money to keep it up. So are you in or do I have to make you disappear?”
How to UseThe Cavern in Game:
The Cavern is a base of operations for a super team or maybe a team of Revolutionaries. The options are limitless here. The Shade is also a force of what the city used to need or was he a cancer that kept things from getting better.
Windchime of the Lost
As the breeze blew through the city streets the chimes of a lost windchime ring about. The sound is so discordant to what you figure the sound of a windchime should be. What did you want from the wild homeless guy? He said that if you left it on your front steps the sound would help those that are lost find their way. What could he have meant this thing sounds like a bunch of junk bouncing together. It is not an art piece, it is just garbage.
As you are getting ready to tear it down and throw it away a young girl hops up on the curb just as a car goes barrelling down the street almost hitting her. That is strange.
“ Hey mister did you see that? I didn’t see that car come screaming around the corner. If I hadn’t gotten off the street I would have been hit.
The next day a young homeless guy is walking down the street and as the wind picks up he trips right outside your place. Once up he is holding a pair of hundred dollar bills that he picked up from under a car, that doesn’t belong to one of your neighbors. You have never seen that car before.
Is it something that is just random luck or is it more. Only time will tell, but you seem to be a magnet for this new found luck. Everyday that you go out to a store you get the first parking spot. What is that about? Well you also have had a run of good luck at work getting easy assignments that have pushed your profession to the next level.
How to Use Windchime of the Lost in Game:
What is this strange item hard to say is it from a shaman of the streets or is it just a good luck talisman? Anyway you use it in a game, think about having it help others near it before the owner of the Windchime. Good will come to you but only after you use it to help others first. Maybe a prophet will tell them what they have or maybe not.
Ad Astra (Alt History)
“Sir the crafts have completed re-entry and we are moving to collect them. We expect to begin data analysis in about 12 hours or so.”
The scientist looks down and clears his throat. He always felt awkward addressing military personnel. The whole “Sir” thing messed with his train of thought. He centered himself and met the officer’s intense gaze.
“We expect that test launches with living creatures can proceed on schedule.”
“Also, we have gotten a lot of public support in regards to the gecko breeding experiment. There are a lot of private ventures that are willing to help fund the project, provided we allow them to live stream it.”
The officer sighed and shook his head in a mix of resignation and disappointment.
“If it will secure funding, have them write up a proposal and submit it. We will need to ensure the proper disclosure protocols.”
The scientist scribbles the instructions on his notepad.
“Also sir, we need approval for the proposed living specimens. We need to begin candidate selection soon. And the technical specifications on the craft will depend on the specimens’ genus and species.”
The officer takes the list, affixes his glasses and begins reading.
“Oh no, you’re not going to use any canids. I like those animals. They’re cute,” grumbles the officer. “There must be other viable candidates.”
“Well what would you suggest, sir?” stammers the scientist.
“What about those pink hairless apes? They keep popping up everywhere. They’re warm blooded, moderately intelligent, and easy to study. Seems like an ideal candidate.”
“I’ll submit your recommendation right away, Admiral Rex.” replies the scientist.
Sensing the conversation is at an end, the scientist begins walking back to his office, being wary to give his tail enough clearance so as not to smack the Admiral.
Those hairless apes always unnerved him. All warm and smooth. Sometimes he wished that a huge meteor would come and wipe them all out.
How to Use Ad Astra in Game:
Turn your players into space exploration test subjects. Or run the space race with dinosaurs. Would you do something to get the attention and maybe be uplifted?
The Eternal Ascension
Come here, young one.
I see that you are confused and lost. Tell me, what troubles you.
Ah I see.
You want to know what happens to our heroes when they get old?
Well I have a secret to tell you.
These paragons are just men and women (and sometimes catdogs).
You’ve traveled with them to the land of make believe. Learned not to beat yourself up and to accept the happy little accidents of life. You love the books and stories. Learned to love learning itself.
Ah, our heroes. They inspired us to stand up for what’s right even if we were the only ones doing so. To believe in truth and justice.
No matter how powerful they are, how beloved they are, they can’t outrun time itself.
And neither can we, dear child.
We outgrow the stories. Outlive our heroes.
But did we really lose them? Have they truly abandoned us?
While we may never know the details, It seems they persist.
You seem puzzled, dear child. Let me explain.
Our heroes are smart. They knew we’d need them, even if they couldn’t talk to us directly. So our paragons recorded their adventures and the lessons they learned. And then, trusted allies seed them in easy to find places. Their legends were gifted to others, so their stories may be lived anew. They gifted the world courage to carry on and endure. Thus their light is carried into the future.
This is what happens to our heroes at the end.
They ascend beyond the limits of flesh and blood. They became icons. Embodiments of their special philosophy. They become legends. They become gods.
But there is something you must remember. Something very important.
They became your heroes because you listened to them. You believed in them and what they wanted the world to be. And you wanted to be the kind of person they would approve of. And by your actions, you continue their work. To make the world the way they wished it to be.
This is the Eternal Ascension
How to Use The Eternal Ascension in Game:
This would be an interesting way to create a pantheon and mythos. Imagine if the gods weren’t always there. How do gods come around? It also may give your players a long term goal. Or as a hook for adventure. In order to ascend, your players need to take care of unfinished business.
Diamond Colosseum (Urban Primitive)
Titan panted, exhausted. He was the only one left to protect this sacred site. But he knew his sacred duty. He knew that to be seen as the bestest boi, he had to keep this place safe. And he would.
Titan did another loop around the perimeter. Sometimes, he thought he could pick up the faintest whiff of pine tar and chalk. Outside the perimeter, after it rained, he sometimes smelled fermented grains, smoked meats and various sweets.
During his sweep, his mind began to wander. What must have it been like back in the old days?
Days when the humans took walks, played with balls, and threw sticks. What did the humans do here? The aura of this place still felt electric. This is a place where great battles took place. Titan knew that. There were many sites like this all over the world. But what were the battles like? The bloodshed here was minimal. And although sometimes they found teeny chicken bones, no human bones were ever found.
“A huge battle and no one died! I wonder what that was like.” mused Titan.
He finished his perimeter sweep and laid down behind a rubbery plastic pentagon.
His nose twitched. He smelled something. After one glance around he began to dig furiously.
Something was here. Something powerful.
He kept digging.
The hair on his scruff stood on end. He found it.
A long smooth wooden stick. Thick on one end, thin on the other. There were letters burned into this stick.
He’d have to take this artifact back to the wise elders.
Maybe they’d know what “Louisville Slugger” meant.
How to Use Diamond Colosseum in Game:
Places of competition and great conflict carry an aura and feel of their own. So imagine coming across a grown over baseball diamond. What kind of energy would be embedded there. What kind of magical artifacts would be there.
It wasn’t immediately apparent why it was going to matter. History is strange that way – the rippling effects of one moment in time rarely announce themselves as imperative. The seeds planted in the Hanging Garden have not been identified, but we know they sparked the changes still echoing today. These plants hold something special and when we eat them, something changes. Some say the legends describe them like a butterwort, but what is for sure is their consumption grants us something new.
They’ve been with us for a few thousand years, so super powers doesn’t cut it anymore. Flight? Speed? Strength to lift a bus? Fireballs? All just part of life. Identified. Licensed. Taxed. It’s how these Seedlings are incentivized to public service – but something has accelerated lately. As seedlings became more common, so did the technological drive recede. The powers have grown stronger and more varied; if we only knew how that plant gets into our food maybe we would know what is next.
How to Use Seedlings Blossoming in Game:
Seedlings Blossoming is a campaign or game world in toto. You can use this setup as a springboard for many different kinds of stories, from the classic super heroics to the Noir. The mystery of the Seeds – what they are, where they are from, and where they are now is nearly unlimited. The regulated and professional heroes means that history changed as we have known them for some time. The lack of technological progress, or the slower progress is the biggest difference as reliance on these Seedlings was possible.
Gravis never seemed to account for much with his little storefront and meager week to week existence. At the same time, Gravis didn’t stand out either with a little shop teetering on the edge of collapse month after month on a street that was full of these same stories. Downtown will take most of what you have to offer after all. It was Gravis’ adopted child that held the key, though.
While Gravis seemed to miss out on every opportunity, that was just the disguise that camouflaged the truth of that storefront to the world. Gravis was also a duly deputized crime fighter with extraordinary ability. His stooped stance and grating voice would vanish in the blink of an eye when he was needed to stop something far more important than just a flower shop on skid row.
The storefront held a greater secret than even that. Gravis’ adopted child had been unhappy, unaware of anything more than a ragged life that was … fine, but far from anything extraordinary. It’s why they didn’t understand the fear in Gravis’ eyes when they found the seedlings that were growing hidden in the back. Unique, beautiful, and thoroughly entancing, these beauties had been Gravis’ secret.
Gravis died before he could decide whether to share that secret with Hazel. It happens, of course, as masks and derring do so often lead to an impromptu demise. Without Gravis, without his father, Hazel was suddenly left to decide what to do with the shop, life, and those unaccounted for seedlings. There was a fruit starting to mature on that seedling to the right, and a feeling of warmth from it.
Maybe a little treat, and tomorrow, Hazel can decide how or even whether to go on.
How to Use Hazel Corman in Game:
Hazel Corman is a plot factory waiting to be spun up. With a father who was a secret super hero, the potential for hijinks can easily ensure. Should the players be friends or acquaintances, they may get suckered into saving Hazel and the shop, or perhaps they find out about the seedlings in the back that may well hold a deeper secret. Especially if they are Blossoming.
Between the cracks of the pavement, as scraggly plants grow in what little light and soil is left, lies a secret. The secret may be something large or small, but it is hard to tell from where you sit. The crack in the pavement doesn’t let just anyone peer through it. You need answers to your questions … answers to what is now bubbling inside of you.
This is when you call on the Parados. A simple wave or greeting as they walk past is all that is needed to summon them. They take their places around you, arms crossed, hair coiffed, scarification clear as day, and look you up and down – Waiting. You see them move slightly, from left to right and then right to left. You can hear them in your head. You ask the question, the question you think you want to ask – “What lies beyond the crack in the pavement? What feeds those scraggly plants?”
The answer isn’t what you expect. Your sight is swirling as you see them dancing around your field of vision, purring and spouting answers but not to what you asked. You hear what came before; you hear what comes next; you see the crack in the pavement open up. As the chorus subsides, you realize you must go – and leave behind an offering, a token, an trinket at the crack in the pavement not knowing if it will fall through or be scooped up by the Parados
How to Use Parados in Game:
The Parados can serve any number of functions, but will most often reflect how your characters are interacting with a larger world. Overarching themes and past events are revealed when the Parados appear and they may also serve as a special effect or description of character abilities. Their origin? Their true nature? Whether they are masked? All of that can be left to you … or left to the imaginations of the players.
Zendead – Do something that makes you feel happy. These are some trying times so it is ok to take some time for yourself and your significant other if you have one. Be safe and have some fun when you can.
Joules – @ikristypeterson on twitter and the_black_kristy on instagram. She’s one hell of an artist, GM and mom. Go check out her stuff
Guard-a-Manger – Defenders of the Earth – A saturday morning cartoon I grew up on is on Amazon Prime now. It features Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, The Phantom, and Lothar with their kids opposing Ming the Merciless in an 80s cartoon fashion. It is full of surprisingly rich ideas to build a world and is one that I love greatly.
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