City takeover

The other day, I ended up having a scroll through some old blog posts and one caught my eye that I’d completely forgotten about.

Since I’ve written that post, new novels about that hinted-at history have begun rolling out, but I’m ignoring those until I get my hands on a copy!

 

Anyway, the point being, I’m now thinking about how this could be pulled off in an RPG. How best to apply the rules, and what rules? Taking over a city is basically the main goal in any Vampire: the Masquerade game for any half-decent coterie, so I might ignore that.

What then? FATE, D&D, Cortex, Savage Worlds all give potential, as does just homebrewing or mashing a few of them together. D&D would be easy to pick up for most of my players, but FATE might give me the god-like messiness that gives them the chance to really take on a city.

I may have been playing too much Saints Row and falling back on my love of the Authority comics in brainstorming this. And then I remembered the post I made before my original city takeover and thought about connecting the players to an old forgotten temple or something like that.

 

Anyway, we’ll see. So far, my options for a new RPG are either this, Space Viking D&D, or an intro Vampire game that people might be interested in. We’ll see. It’s been far too long since I rolled some dice!

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Vikings! An Update

My great habits of updating often have suddenly fallen by the wayside. I’m claiming it’s because of only having a semi-functional keyboard, but I could still use the phone or my tablet (as I am now)  if I really wanted to.

I’ve been very slowly thinking about the space viking game. I’ve had a rethink about a few things, worked out how Bifrost works (a cross between movies Thor and Stargate), turn Yggdrasill into a kind of space elevator, and had more of a think about guns.

Since they’d be replacing bows for the most part, the general idea would mean most ranged combat is actually using modern rifles. I might dig through the old d20 rules and see how easy it would be to port them across.
I don’t want to be as bogged down in choice as the d20 games, I just want more of an idea of options.

Guns so far in the game:
Common modern pistol
Advanced modern pistol (burst fire option)
Common modern rifle
Advanced modern rifle (burst fire)
Shotgun
Laser pistol (double base damage of modern pistol)
Laser rifle (double Base damage of modern rifle)

So thinking d8 for the pistol, and d10 for the rifle, but I might change that still. Maybe change the lasers to 2d6 and 3d6 or something. They’re dangerous, but hopefully survivable.

Enemies – still not sure. The undead maybe, via a cybernetic virus? Some kind of nanite plague making monsters? Certainly gods warring somehow. All of the above probably.

The trick will be balancing magic and tech, because there’s going to be some mad anachronisms all over this setting. People sitting by the fireplace in a long hall drinking mead, listening to the scalds tell tales, and reading the latest news on their data slates.
Monsters attacking in the night, fought off with rifles, axeblades and “smart steel”, by soldiers with genetic and cybernetic enhancements.
Wizards conjuring physical forms from the Datasphere into the real world, either as familiars or fireballs, again probably from cybernetic enhancements (like the technomages in Babylon 5 maybe).

Anyway, that’s where I’m at so far. I’m debating adding some animal uplifts as player races, but I might stick with what I have for now before I tinker too much.
I might need to tweak some classes yet, which would be more important than the races for now.

More of the same soon, hopefully this week!

Vikings… IN SPAAAAAACE!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a Viking-styled d&d game, and I’ve come up with a few ideas.
However, since I’ve also been playing a lot of Mass Effect, been reading some of Marvel’s Battle world stuff and thinking about the Thor Corps, AND partly inspired by the article over on the D&D website, I’m making the setting a bit more scifi than just plain Vikings.

So, how’s this working exactly? I’m. Mixing together a bunch of notes as I write this post, so hopefully it won’t be too disjointed.

The World Tree, Yggdrasil, can be travelled. The interaction of the different realms has long been a fact, and so many races exist across the many realms, not just their own homes.
In scifi terms, they’re all originally human stock, but for some reason or other had been ‘locked’ into their own world so long that they evolved into separate races. Then the barriers came down.

Many of these worlds were more like pocket dimensions, but Midgard, the ancestral home, is huge, and filled with baseline humans.
Other races that now live in Midgard:
The Aelfr and Svartaelfr – elves and dark elves, though I might make them more grey elves than drow.
Dvergar – dwarves
Svirfneblin – gnomes
Niflungr – goblins
Trolls – orcs (maybe? Traditional d&d trolls would become Jotun – giants!)

In theory, I could also throw in:
Dreki – dragonkin
Djöfullinn – Tieflings
And then Aelfblood and Trollblood for half elves and half orcs, respectively.
I’ve taken out half lings for now, and replaced with Goblins. Because I like goblins!

Next up, classes. At this stages, I’ve only reskinned the names,but I’ll be fiddling a little bit too. All translations taken from Google Translate.
Bard –  Skald
Barbarian – Berserkr
Cleric – Prestr
Druid – Hamaskr
Fighter – Hermathr
Paladin – Vaeringjar
Ranger – Skógarvörthr
Rogue – Fantr
Sorcerer – Galdramathr
Warlock – Norn
Wizard – Töframathr

Now, this being scifi influenced as well, I’m flying to add in the firearms rules.
That means anyone who gets full weapon proficiency is also likely to pick up guns as a proficiency (fighters, some clerics etc).
The guns available will be the modern pistol and rifle, though access to laser rifle and pistol is a possibility, and I’m debating making these more like Stargate’s Jaffa staff weapons and Zzzats. Either way, they’d be rare or the equivalent of magic items (maybe the gods run around with them?)
Armour would likely gain a damage reduction against ballistics, but again that’s something I need to work on. I don’t want to make the weapons too lethal, as they’d break the game, and ammunition needs to be important.
In the case of laser weapons, I’m tempted to make them recharge over time, so they have a very limited number of shots that only recharges on a rest, and possibly only partially for short rests. Again, something I’m still working on.
At the moment:
Modern pistol: 1d8 damage
Modern rifle: 1d10 damage
Laser pistol: 2d6 damage, option to stun
Laser rifle: 2d8 damage, option to stun
Light armour: 2 DR versus ballistics, not against lasers
Medium armour: 4 DR versus ballistics, 2 DR against lasers
Heavy armour: 6 DR versus ballistics, 4 DR against lasers
(I’d probably get a bit more detailed and make it certain armours, not the entire rating)

On to important aspects of the setting!
I want to add in the Honour ability score. It’s cool and I think it fits. Oaths are important. Oath breakers, called Nith, are very important.
The pantheon is the standard Aesir/Vanir of Norse mythology.
Dragons are a thing. They are called Hoggr.

I’m ripping social classes and such out of a combination of Saxon and Norse stuff, should be familiar to Skyrim players.
The castes are broken down into
The King/Rix. Probably one for each realm.
The Etheling. Nobles, both Jarls and Thanes.
Freemen. Karls/churls.
Thralls. Slaves tied to a person and serfs tied to the land.

Felags are communities to which a character belongs. They might be obliged to serve in some way, as the felags are usually centred around a trade or military venture.
A big army barracks is surrounded by support people, so is a large vineyard or weapon manufacturing centre. Even a town known for art will have charcoal burners, quarries and paper makers all around it, plus farmers etc.

The sib is the basic family unit. Hence the term sibling.
Fostering of the children of blood sworn kin is also common, though these are the links between the various sibs.
Injury between sibs can be collected upon through fines, called weregild (the worth of a man). Weregild is claimed at annual Things (the meetings of a populace) and decided upon by Gamuts, a court of popular vote. Sometimes an ordeal might be issued.
Gamut can also declare outlaws, who are banished on pain of death, their rights revoked and their marriages dissolved.

So where does this leave my current idea?
The characters are all. Members of the same Felag, which involves trade with other settlements and sometimes other realms. Travel through Yggdrasil will be happening, but has become more difficult of late.
The group is attached to a caravan to carry wares to another settlement, then on to another realm. I’m imagining that the ‘branches’ of Yggdrasil are gateways to travel through, perhaps an astral or shadow realm.

Ultimately I want to involve Ragnarok, or the fear of Ragnarok, and perhaps a villain being sponsored by the Jotun or the Dragon Nithoggr, or both, to bring Ragnarok about.

Y is for: Yaninda

The known world, the realm of mortals, is not the only part of existence.
The spirits live on an adjacent place, a place that some few are able to pierce through to with magikal power.
These world’s beside the realm of mortals are known as Yaninda.

Ancient legends speak of such places, such as the place the ancient Oon came from. Generally these are referred to as origins in ancient texts, though the birthplace of the Oon themselves is referred to as Origin, believed to be translated from their own language by the ancient Lizardfolk Empire.

Several realms in the Yaninda are known to exist, and are documented in ancient legends and modern texts of scholars and Arcanists:

The Deadrealms are the easiest to visit, as all mortals that die pass through the place to wherever it is souls go after death. Rituals of witches and Arcanists have long allowed brief travel to the place, if only as a shade of the mortal body. The Deadrealms is home to the Shores of the Dead, and the unceasing siege of the Fiend against the Black Lady’s forces.

The Spiritrealms, sometimes called the Greenrealms, are the home to various spirits of nature and the elements. Which travel to the Spiritrealms is impossible for mortals, if it possible through long ritual to at least blur the boundaries of the mortal world and see into and barely interact with the place. Such rituals are used by Witches seeking a soulbond with a spirit.

Whilst the Dreamrealms might seem like the easiest to reach for mortals, in reality it is the dreams that bleed over to the mortal world, and sleeping mortals are the best able to perceive these bleeds.
Some legends tell of spirits making their home in the Dreamrealms, but whether these stories are true or not is much disputed.

The Darkrealms are the only known Yaninda tied to an elemental power, that of elemental Dark.
Spirits of Darkness are most easily able to slip between here and the Spiritrealms, though their methods are entirely unknown.

Several theoretical Yaninda exists, based on knowledge of the above. Elemental aligned realms, fore fire and water and so forth, are believed to exist, though many spirits of these elements claim no knowledge of them.
The Lightrealms, believed to be a mirror to the Dark, have long thought to be lost somehow, as no spirit of Light has ever been encountered. That hasn’t stopped sages and mystics throughout history from hunting it.

Lastly, the Godsrealms are thought to be on the edges of the mortal world, perhaps bordering the other realms. It’s believed the Green Lady inhabits an area close to the Greenrealms, whilst the Watcher in the Night is said to be able to travel to the origin of Dreams.

W is for: Witchblood

In the Old Crown, those touched by a lineage of magikal power are known as Witchbloods. Whilst hereditary, sometimes the witchblood skips generations only to appear again.

Long ago, the natural order of the world brought forth individuals who had innate magikal abilities. Some speculate it may have been caused by interference by the legendary Oon, though most legends also speak of their downfall because of the innate gifts of the races they created.
The witchblood allows those gifted with it to perceive natural magik much more intensely, to perceive it at a level much deeper than normal mortals. Whilst most might experience a feeling of being watched or a prickling sensation on the back of the neck, a Witch can perceive any flows of magik or the auras of nearby powerful spirits in a similar way to sight, sound or taste, and even sometimes as these senses. They can usually pinpoint magikal sources in the vicinity with ease, or even blur the edge of realms to see and speak with spirits themselves.

The Witchs’ affinity for spirits of all kinds can be seen in their ease at the spiritbond. Arcanists can train themselves for decades and rarely hold a bond as strong as an apprentice Witch, whilst Oathed might gain such a temporary bond via the power of their Ascended patron.
Using a spiritbond, part of the soul and animus of a Witchblood permanently joins to that of a spirit, and the equivalent exchange is made by the spirit also. This touch of the spirit world is enough to allow the Witch great control over the certain magiks that their companion can also control. The reward for the spirit is a greater ability to manifest in both the spirit realms and the world of mortals caused by an accompanying rise in power.

Mostly Witches bind to peri, the spirits most closely associated with the natural world. This is the source of the power of the witchblood as a healing obligation, so that Witches become the centre of communities and important public figures, healing the sick and teaching the young and so forth.
Some Witches instead bind with the elemental jinn, gaining greater focus in elemental abilities. Rarely this is to the exclusion of all else, though the stories of the Sundancers that come from legends of the Wick would make it seem that binds to fire greatly limit healing abilities.
Theoretically, it should also be possible to bind with a Wight, as the spirits of the restless dead are still spirits, and readily able to manifest in a way similar to daimon despite scholar’s arguments to the contrary.

The Seawitches are a particularly strong bloodline of Witchbloods that make their lives travelling across the known world.
Their abilities tend to manifest at a much younger ages than other Witches, and rarely is a child born without some.
They also have a curious ability to spiritbond with animals, though generally these animals are exceptional in some way – albinos, crossbreeds, having some touch of the jinn about them, and so forth.

Witchblood has been seen as both a blessing and a curse. It brings an individual with great personal power, and often many responsibilities. Being so closely tuned to natural magik energies can draw the attention of both friendly and hostile spirits, not to mention manifested daimon.

T is for: the Tiles

The tiles are used in all manner of games, for fun and for stakes. They are popular with children and adults of all levels of society, and the only differences found are in the quality of the tiles and the types of games played.

The tiles have a long history, going back to old Istan. They have always been a popular game, but have also been used by diviners and witches to read the fates, help decisions or prepare for adversity.

There are a few main houses, used in most games:

1-7 of Stars, Lord of Stars (The Arcanist), Lady of Stars (The Witchblood), The Dancing Spirits, The White Tower

1-7 of Cups, Lord of Cups, Lady of Cups, The Drunken Fool, The Sleeping Dog

1-7 of Coins, Lord of Coins (The Unhappy Merchant), Lady of Coins (The Happy Merchant), The Fates/Luck, The Lost Souls

1-7 of Swords, Lord of Swords (the Fiend), Lady of Swords (the Black Lady) , the Shields, the Blue Gate

1-7 of Moons, Priest of Moons, Priestess of Moons, The Lovers, The Dark Tower

1-7 of Staves, Lord of Staves (the Warden), Lady of Staves (the Guilder), the Forgotten Warrior, the Black Gate

Games revolve around playing sets of tiles in combination for points, through the luck of the draw. Tiles may be played stood tall, bowed or broken, and some games can involve these States being changed by the play of other tiles.
Some games make use of a designed board, though many are played on any flat surface.
A variant popular in Raethmoor involves playing on multiple layers, and players must remember which tiles have been placed below others.
The variant most popular with high ranking members of the Broken Circle has tiles played face down, with wagers made on the word of the player that the tile is what they say it is. In these games, it is not rare for five of the same time to be in play at any one time.

In addition to the house tiles, there are several more that are unassigned to the houses, and not regularly a part of games. Whilst some games, especially for stakes, can make use of them, they are primarily the domain of diviners.

The Prostrate
The Maidens
The Sword Dancer/Swallower
The Followers
The Little Lord
The Council of Ravens
The Mark/Brand
The Black Horse
The Mourners
The Shining Serpent
The Arrowhead/Blade
The Scales
The Hermit/Solitary
The Ropes/Knot
The Many Faces
The Winding River
The Dervish/Dancer
The Hand/Palm
The Tails/Whiplash
The Twin Wolves
The Drake
The Half-hand
The Drawn Bow
The Lion’s Head
The Calf
The Ship

All the special tiles are be played as stood tall, bowed or broken as normal, except the Prostrate who is never stood tall, the Black Horse who is never bowed, and the Maidens who are never broken. The rules the diviner uses to make interpretations of the fates are as unique as the diviner themselves, with as much variance between them as between different groups of players.

S is for: Siaiwh, water spirit

Siaiwh lighted in the deep dark below, surrounded by the bubbling laughter of siblings lighting. There was slow groaning all around from older spirits of earth, and quiet whispers from timeless spirits of dark. Always there was the built bubbling voice, the voice of the mother. Edanu was her mother, and her world.
And Siaiwh danced to it all.

With siblings dancing all around, they rose upwards through the deep dark. Sometimes they would have to squeeze past the protesting earth spirits who would grumble as they danced over and between. Sometimes they would slow awhile, or some would stop in the open places where the dark would whisper its soft words. Once they all heard angry voices from deep below, as all around them grew hotter, an entirely new sensation that luckily did not last long.
Siaiwh learned to listen to the other spirits while many around her thought only of the water. Some tired of the dance and grew still in the open places, stopping their journey with others who came before them.
But Siaiwh could not stop dancing. And sometimes, Siaiwh would sing.

And then one day, all that were still dancing emerged into the light, falling down from the caves high in the mountains. This new place had air and earth spirits in abundance. The great big mountain spirits were replaced by the stones and pebbles, but the tiny gusts of the air spirits were also met by great winds and storms. New water spirit cousins fell from the sky to join with mother Edanu.
And the dark spirits would visit, and welcome them all to the world. And Siaiwh listened. And danced. And sang.

Once an old pebble spirit spoke to Siaiwh of the Others as the river danced by. They could come and go as they pleased, wandered the world, but we’re all but invisible to spirits.
The air and dark spirits sometimes whispered of the Others too. Siaiwh wanted nothing more than to meet an Other, so sing and dance with it, to learn more about them. It must be an odd thing to be invisible, Siaiwh often thought.

One day, at a river crossing, when the earth spirits were crowded and the dance was most energetic, it happened. An Other appeared in the middle of the fording.
This one was huge, much bigger than the pebbles and stones, the spirits of the air, perhaps as big as the mountain spirits themselves.
Siaiwh danced to the Other, and then everything changed.
The other spoke, in the words of the mother Edanu. And with great hands reached down into the river, and lifted Siaiwh upwards, away from her kin. And then the world shifted, and then we’re more shapes, more Others all around, but somehow hidden too. And Siaiwh could not hear the other spirits any more.

“Hello little,” it said, “I Valam, I talk your words, you know?”
Siaiwh didn’t know what to do but dance and sing.
“Other, I am Siaiwh. You speak the words of my mother Edanu. I cannot hear my siblings or friends. Where are they?”
“Friend here, little Siaiwh. All here. Hiding, like you do.” The Other said something to one of the indistinct shapes, the one closest. The language of the Others was a coarse angry gargle compared to all the words of the spirits.
“Master speak you know much. Speak to me words I say now.” The Other, proud, made a little cough, then looked all around smiling, before looking back at Siaiwh.
“Siaiwh, spirit of the mother Edanu, I am Valam. I search here for a friend of my own, a spirit friend. I seek knowledge, to share with all around. But I need the help of a spirit. I ask you to choose.

Knowledge, or home?”

Siaiwh was confused, but had always wanted to know more and more.
The Other had been clumsy, stumbling over words that were simple, until using words given by another.
“Other Valam, what is a spirit friend? Why must I choose?” Noises came from the assembled shapes, almost like bubbles bursting. The one called Master spoke again, as the smile faded from Valam’s face.
“Siaiwh, Master speak choose me or mother Edanu. Me be spirit friend forever or mother Edanu friends only spirits forever.”
Siaiwh danced nervously on the Other’s hands, looking all around, wishing for mother Edanu’s voice of calm. The one called Master moved to Valam’s side, raised and arm and suddenly there was another spirit sat on a hand beside Siaiwh.

“Hello young one. The choice is hard, yes?” The air spirit giggled, danced up from the hand and down again.
“Perrar wants me to help you, to help you understand. The boy is young, his spirit tongue is flawed, and water spirits are never alone, so you must be scared, yes?

“The Others have a whole world we don’t see, but they don’t see ours either. We’re on the edge of both right now. The choice let’s us visit both, and will let the boy visit the edge without help from all these others.

“This binding will take you away from this place, your mother and friends, but you will learn about all the world, and all the spirits, and all the other places you could go.

You just have to make the choice.”

The air spirit nodded, and disappeared again. Valam stared down at Siaiwh, who looked once back down to the water far below, then stared back at him.
“I choose knowledge.”