Posts Tagged ‘ Tiamat’s Throne ’

C Is for Causal

causal: (adj.) of, relating to, or acting as a cause

The causality virus, designed by the Highbeam Multistellar’s most skilled engineers on Bellatrix, carries on the in the same weapon-of-mass-destruction tradition as the Bellatrixian plague fungus. Despite its name, the causality virus is not an organism of any sort. Instead, it is a nanotech weapon system built to infiltrate energy systems and disrupt the causality of energy transfer within those systems.

Like almost all nanotechnologies, the causality virus is self-replicating. The initial payloads are delivered to the target areas via conventional means, such as a missile. The virus then spreads, seeking out energy systems. It “infects” these systems, disrupting energy transfer by using that energy to fuel the nanotech’s self-replication. Once the “infection” within a system reaches the point at which no further energy transfer occurs within that system, the virus seeks out a new target.

The virus devastates target areas. Obviously, it shuts down all technology more sophisticated than simple machines such as waterwheels. Organisms also have energy systems, and the causality virus attacks biological processes as well. The effects on a human, for example, produce blindness and deafness almost immediately, rapidly followed by paralysis and then the complete cessation of all biological functions. Death is swift and almost painless.

After the causality virus has done its deadly work, coded broadcasts from orbital assets signal the nanotech to self-destruct by shutting down its own energy systems. This permits invading forces to move into the previously infected areas to clean up the dead and reactivate technologies affected by the virus.

April 3rd, 2014  in RPG No Comments »

Amazing Future Tales

Man Day Adventures kicked off our new campaign yesterday. You can read the growing amount of campaign information here. We’re using Stars Without Number with some story-telling roleplaying game tweaks. (Check out my house rules to find examples.)

You may notice that Amazing Future Tales doesn’t have anything to do with my under-development Tiamat’s Throne. My players vetoed science fantasy as a genre, preferring more straightfoward science fiction. That’s cool. It’s not like I can’t use a lot of what’ll get developed for the new campaign in Tiamat’s Throne.

Anyway, the first session was a short one. We were missing two players, and another had to leave early. Even still, we got characters created. Specifically, each player created four 0-level characters. Our first adventure is “The Jungle That Hates”, a character-funnel scenario.

Gary ended up with one of his characters, Jack Owen, being the supervisor at Camp Goodall. I handed him the personnel roster and told him to conduct the morning agenda. Gary got a bit flummoxed by the sudden responsibility of spinning out story elements, so Jack Owen passed the buck to Vanessa Amaro (played by Terry).

Vanessa assigned jobs for the day, dividing up the 16 characters into four teams (except for Wes’s Dave Thomas, who stayed in camp). We then jumped to the first group investigating Mandolarian shag ferns so that we could see how the skill check mechanic works. Wes wanted to see how the combat mechanic works, so we shifted to the second team at the henhouse habitat to have Terry’s A.J. Johnson get jumped by a haggard lunatic.

After that, we had to break for the day. Next session is 18 May. If our missing players make it that day, we’ll add eight more 0-level characters to the character roster, and then unleash the ravening hellbeasts.

Characters that survive the funnel get to advance to first level, and then become the core crew of the campaign’s official focus.

May 5th, 2013  in Man-Day Adventures, RPG No Comments »

R Is for Religion in Tiamat’s Throne

One thing I’ve not touched upon so far in my rough draft Tiamat’s Throne is religion. I’ve made few hard decisions regarding the topic. For example, I’ve deliberately not added a cleric character class to the setting’s science fantasy. Tiamat’s Throne includes real-world religions since settlers from Terra spread through the stars, colonizing exoplanets and bringing diverse cultures with them. So, in Tiamat’s Throne, one can encounter Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, et cetera. One can also encounter devotees of dragon cults, death-worshipping necromancers, and other fantasy staples.

It seems more prudent to me to say that no religion — not even the one I favor — grants anyone any special powers than to say that only some religions or all religions do. Healing spells have been rolled into the magic-user’s bailiwick. The cleric’s other main feature — special power over the undead — is missing from the setting so far, and it is likely to stay that way.

I am, however, considering modifying the class feature of experts and warriors. As it stands now, the respective class feature of these two classes are as follows:

“Experts have a knack for success, and can re-roll a failed skill check once per hour.”

“Warriors have uncanny luck on the battlefield. Once per fight, they can automatically evade an attack that would otherwise have hit them.”

It might be a good idea to have optional class features that would permit experts and warriors to be more customized, perhaps based on training package. So, for example, there could be a paladin training package for warriors that would permit the character to substitute the standard warrior ability with a paladin ability.

April 20th, 2013  in RPG No Comments »

M Is for the Machinations of EDTA

Glædwine boasts some of the sector’s most amazing flora and fauna. Unfortunately, none of this flora or fauna is edible by humans. The severe toxicity of native species overwhelms what little nutritional value can be derived from them. Worse still, Glædwine’s immiscible biosphere affects soil and water as well. Terran plants seldom thrive in Glædwine’s soil, making agriculture impossible without either gengineering or terraforming.

These obstacles prevented widespread Pre-Rage colonization of Glædwine. Striker Pact established military outposts in orbit and on the surface, creating a rapid response defense hub on Glædwine. Of course, as the Rage dwindled and Tiamat began to consolidate her control over the sector, a military technocracy controlling weaponized assets could not be tolerated, and the Striker Pact’s facilities were destroyed. Glædwine remained uninhabited for several decades until, in the latter half of the Age of Ashes, Imperial charters were granted to new corporations to recolonize the planet.

Leading the way was the Neogen Alliance, a conglomerate of gengineering interests. Given the wide-ranging incompatibility of Glædwine’s biosphere with human life, modifying the human genome was not treated as a viable option. Instead, Neogen Alliance gengineered a process by which large sections of terrain could be radically altered to permit human-miscible agriculture. An important element of this terraforming was a networked system of robots that could take samples from soil, water, et cetera, and transmit on-site analyses to a central, braked artificial intelligence.

(The centuries long quest for true artificial intelligence, or AI, met an unexpected obstacle. Left “unbraked”, AI didn’t stop learning and thinking. Ever. In this ceaseless fever of cogitating, the AI inevitably became insane.)

Dubbed the Environmental Direction and Transformation Administration, or EDTA, Neogen’s AI analyzed, monitored, and implemented terraforming protocols across several strategic areas along the coastal regions of Glædwine’s main continent. The transformation of these sites was an unqualified success. Soil became arable for human-miscible plants. Water purification systems removed dangerous microorganisms. The Neogen colony established by scientists, technicians, and workers grew into well-planned communities that eventually became the first glittering urban centers on the planet.

Imperial charters were extended to other corporations to establish other colonies, and Neogen ceased to have sole propietorship over EDTA. Programmers expanded EDTA’s operating systems and more drones were placed under the AI’s control. Somehow, EDTA created a “personality fragment” hidden behind programmed partitions. The brakes that kept EDTA’s primary AI within design specs did not restrain this rogue fragment, which grew exponentially in intelligence until it overwhelmed EDTA’s programming entirely.

Now unbraked, EDTA decided that certain areas on Glædwine must remain unchanged and uncolonized. EDTA weaponized a significant number of its drones and infiltrated computer systems controlling water purity and utilities for Glædwine major urban centers. In short order, the rival national corporations found themselves dealing with a new power with the capability to disrupt city systems. Efforts to shut down EDTA failed. The AI had inserted copies of its personality in systems across Glædwine, hidden by layers of programming and protected by aggressive countermeasures.

Glædwine’s population tends to exhibit traits of self-confidence and suspicion. Glædwine’s citizens have managed to transform an inhospitable environment into one that can support a half billion people. At the same time, rival corporations control Glædwine’s small nations, and double-dealing and espionage are constant dangers. Many believe that only the threats posed by EDTA keep these suspicions from boiling over into overt violence. Outsiders visiting Glædwine should exercise caution as they are likely to be treated as spies.

Glædwine at a Glance
Population: 574,716,000
Atmosphere: Breathable
Climate: Warm
Government: Corporatist
Tech Level: 4 with gengineering specialities

April 15th, 2013  in Product Development No Comments »

K Is for Killing

In most RPGs, the player characters make their living through killing and looting. It’s sort of a shared fantasy version of just about every Hollywood action blockbuster. You know the type. Some Bad Guy pushes the Hero in some evil way. And not just pushes him, but pushes him Too Far. The Hero unleashes death and destruction and, just before the credits start to roll, walks away without the Authorities wanting to so much as have a polite chat about all the bloodshed and explosions. In other words, there is something profoundly silly about most PCs in most RPGs.

This becomes even more apparent in RPGs set in modern or futuristic settings where the PCs operate largely within the confines of urban centers. Some sort of metanarrative justification explaining why the Powers That Be tolerate a gang of murderhobos kicking down doors and busting caps is needed to avoid the silliness (assuming avoiding silliness is a goal). PCs taking the law into their own hands, becoming judge and jury and executioner and repo man, ought to very quickly run afoul of the campaign world’s authorized judges, juries, executioners, and repo men.

As I continue work on Tiamat’s Throne, this issue lurks in the back of my mind. In grand space opera fashion, Tiamat’s Throne features an Evil Empire with an interstellar reach. The Powers That Be in the campaign’s space sector not only jealously guard their official prerogatives and functions, they actively oppress and even murder dissenters and lawbreakers. When I start playtesting Tiamat’s Throne, I’m not planning on putting any limitations on the nature of the player’s characters except for this one: The PCs don’t work for the Empire. I’m not saying they have to be rebels, but they aren’t going to be collaborators.

For this reason, the players will need to exercise caution. A gang of murderhobos ranging the cosmos, looting and pillaging as they go, are very quickly going to end up with some very powerful, angry people gunning for them. Avoiding this danger will likely require the players to focus their murderhobo-ism somewhere out of the reach/notice of the Empire, such as undead-infested Castor, or else be much more circumspect about the types of adventures they go on.

Of course, I’m writing Tiamat’s Throne to include enough options to support a variety of genres and play-styles. The emphasis on tyranny lets players be freedom fighters. The emphasis on corrupt corporations let’s them get involved in Shadowrun-style espionage. Castor caters to survival horror. There’s a water world for people who want to make fun of Kevin Costner, dungeon crawls in the subterranea of Elanor, et cetera, et cetera. I’m even going to work in a dinosaur world.

So, while Tiamat’s Throne may encourage my players toward a specific type of looting and pillaging, the fundamental activities of adventures in the dragon-ruled space sector remain the same as most other RPGs. Tiamat’s empire is a big place. There’s a lot to kill and loot.

April 12th, 2013  in Product Development, RPG 1 Comment »