Sunday, July 20, 2014

Poking My Head Out of the Shadows

I just haven't been very productive lately, well, at least here on the blog. I have been working on a few projects, and I'm getting myself re-grouped and re-psyched to plunge back into my Mythic Space setting. I've also decided to wait until I have the three main rulebooks for the new D&D in hand before I make my pronouncements about the new direction of the game. However, I will say that the Starter Set along with the (very) Basic pdf rules are more than worth a try. I don't know that I'm completely sold on this new edition, but it does strike more chords with me than 4E ever did.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

End of the Week Musings

I'm still writing up my thoughts on the D&D Stater Set and the release of the Basic D&D pdf. It's been a difficult project for me. On one hand, I haven't had a lot of time to just sit and read through everything. On the other, my opinion on the new edition is in a seemingly constant state of flux. There are some things that I really, really like about the new edition. On the other hand, there are some things that I just don't care for. It depends on time of day on which side is getting more play in my mind. I do hope to have something finalized and posted in the next few days.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

New Acquisitions

My birthday was yesterday and I headed out on the town flush with birthday cash to stock up on some games I've had my eye on. My first stop was Barnes & Noble to check out the 50% off table. Every now and then there's some RPG or board game items on the table that I pick up. Lately, my trips to B&N have been fruitless, but not so yesterday. They had a copy of Dungeon Command: Blood of Gruumsh, which I promptly snatched up. The Dungeon Command boxes in and off themselves are pretty "meh" for me as a game. However, they have cards to use the figures with the various D&D board games (Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, and Legend of the Drizzt), not to mention cards for outside areas that can be used as well.

After grabbing the lone box of Dungeon Command on the sale table, I headed past the RPG section and didn't see anything that caught my eye. Well, I can't say that'd entirely accurate as I did flip through Age of Rebellion from FFG's new Star Wars line. I've played the basic set adventure for Rise of the Empire, and while I still prefer WotC's Saga System, I do like what FFG is doing as far as the system goes and with the unique dice mechanic that doesn't feel like a gimmicky way to "board game-ize" an RPG...like what they did with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. My big complaint is that they've made the buy in for the new Star Wars system simply too damn high. A core rulebook for each era doesn't sit well with me along with having to rely on homemade rules for playing Jedi (some of said rules are really pretty good and hopefully close to what FFG comes up with when they finally do and era that has Jedi running around in more numbers). If I'm going to shell out $60 for some Star Wars RPG rules, I want them to be more all-encompassing than solely focusing on one era or another. Anyway, I digress.

After putting down Age of Rebellion, I walked over the board game section. Typically, unless something is marked down, I don't tend to buy board games from B&N. If I'm going to pay retail, I prefer to give my FLGS the love. That said, my FLGS didn't have a copy of the base set of the Pathfinder Adventure Card game. In a moment of weakness, I grabbed the base set, the character add-on pack and adventure packs 2 & 3. I haven't ever played this game before, but I've read some great reviews from folks in various communities whose tastes closely align with my own. I didn't get a chance to do much with it other than get everything sorted, but I hope to do so in the coming days.

After checking out at B&N, I headed down to my FLGS. I had every intention of picking up at least one more adventure pack for PACG, but I saw that they had the Starter Set for the new edition of D&D already. I knew several places had gotten their copies in a week or two early, but I wasn't expecting to see it so it was a bit of a shock. I grabbed a box and headed home with my finds.

I've also downloaded the new Basic Rules pdf that WotC has recently put out. I haven't had a lot of time to pour through them yet, but I do think that I'll have some thoughts organized and typed out sometime this week. I don't know if I'll have anything all that poignant to add to the cacophony of people buzzing/yelling/discussing the game right now, but I'm going to add my two cent regardless. That said, after having played in a few beta test games of 5E, if the final cut of the game (even this trimmed down "Basic" version of the game is much like what I played I'll likely end up passing on it. Not that 5E isn't fun or I have something against the system, it just didn't run as fast or as well as what I get out of my hack of Swords & Wizardry. I know that I'll likely end up picking up the Monster Manuals for the game whenever they come out just to have new fodder to either tweak my existing creatures or to add new creations to my growing monster database. All that aside, I do have to say that even in the beta tests, I liked 5E/Next/Whatever more than 4E.

That's how I blew through my "fun-money" after my birthday this year. I'm happy with my acquisitions, though my not wanting to wait on shipping caused me to get less for my money than I normally would have picked up. Now...where the hell will I store all of this stuff? I'm running out of shelf space...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Human Family Part 2

In my last post, I covered many of the various breeds that carry human genetics that can be found in the galaxy. This post will expand upon two other members of the human family tree: Mutants and Human/Alien Crossbreeds.

In an older post (found here), I discussed the background information of mutations in (what I'm now calling) Mythic Space. Mutants have a tough time among their own species, even in one as diverse as humanity. Mutants still face racism, discrimination, and violence because they are what they are. Out in areas of the galaxy where there are many different species converging together, such as the Citadel, mutants are afforded the chance to move about freer than they would in a largely human colony. (For Savage Worlds, I've been using Darwin's World to generate mutants and mutations.)

In my last post, I mentioned the human-fraal hybrids, the Serran. The human/alien crossbreeds I'm talking about here are not like the Serran, who were born out of emotionless science, but rather a human and an alien creating offspring the old fashioned way. There are many different humanoid species in the galaxy, most with the same physiological set-up down to their reproductive organs. In fact, there are so many humanoid species that look similar enough that the classification of near-human and baseline humanoid are virtually commonplace. For instance, upon first sight, one cannot tell the difference between a human and a Sebacean and a Betazoid, but the differences are there. Even so, somehow these species are able to create viable offspring. This is one of the reasons there are so many theories surrounding a "seeder race" that populated the galaxy with so many species that are so strikingly similar. (See my post on Precursor Species here.)

The children of these pairings can have a difficult time in life, especially if their parents came from vastly divergent cultures, such as human and klingon. The children may never truly find acceptance in either parents' culture, and will lead a life that is filled with wondering where they fit. However, in cases where both parents come from species that are similar enough, such as with humans and sebaceans, the child may not even know for a long time that they are any different than the other children around them.

Humans can mate with a vast number of species, but producing offspring that are truly viable was once very rare. However, as humans become more and more entrenched into galactic society, the desire for mixed species couples to have children that were their own has grown. Medical science as stepped up to help alleviate some of the genetic incompatibilities that some pairings once faced in having a child. However, there are some rules that hold true no matter what science would like to accomplish. Generally speaking, humans can only produce offspring with similar species like vulcans, sebaceans, bajoran and the like; or in other words with species that still look and are not too dissimilar to themselves. However, pairings with some...more exotic species have been known to produce offspring such as pairings with luxans, cardassians, and even scarrans, though these are rare. The same hold true for other species as well. Caininoids can procreate with other caininoids and felinoids with other felinoids and so on.

The rules for playing such as character in Savage Worlds are still being worked on. Most of the time I try to meld the two species together by toning down the non-humans stats a bit, and that goes for the penalties as well. If the character is still a bit too strong, I tend to apply the Outsider hindrance as well. I always apply Outsider if the character has parents with features that will make it stand out as something other than human, like a luxan/human since he will have lenkas growing out of his head.

One last piece of the human family tree is that of the Simulacra. These beings were first developed by Voidcorp as laborers for areas that held either distrust for droids or for lines of work where robots or androids would not be able to properly function. They were billed as expendable clones. Most of the galactic community admonished Voidcorp, and they quietly sold off the tech to anyone willing to pay. Now simulacra are only found in areas of space where cloning workers is common, such as in the Thuldan Empire, among Aboleth and Illithid installations, and even among some of the larger pirate barons. Simulacra are human, but with a very shortened lifespan (7-10 years at most). They are born from vats, adult and fully-functioning when born with certain traits and skills coded into their DNA. There are three general "models" of simulacra: laborers, luxury, and soldiers. Most people in the Concord will never see one of these beings. Still, there are the occasional groups that break free of their masters and travel to medical havens with the hopes of stopping, or at least slowing, the sand in their hourglasses. (Use the Simulacra rules in Interface Zero 2.0.)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Human Family

In Mythic Space, the central society is that of the Galactic Concord, a very Star Wars/Star Trek/Mass Effect space opera cosmopolitan society containing a vast number of different species all working together for mutual benefit (for the most part). However, Humans and their genetic brothers and sisters make up a startling array of life. Starting in the late 21st century and only increasing as man began to colonize other worlds, the human genome has been not unlike clay in the hands of a sculptor. There have been mistakes and some research into genetic modification has drifted too far into the realm of "mad science," but genetic manipulation has allowed mankind to leave its mark on the cosmos in ways that would have been impossible otherwise. This post delves into the rocky history of man "playing god" and details the various new breeds of man that make up the human family.

Genetic modification has had a sordid history for humankind. Slave owners applied animal husbandry techniques to their slaves in order to try and bring forth certain traits. Eugenics also came from this idea to try and create a "master race" by selecting certain traits deemed most desirable, finding people with those traits and having them mate and bear young. Cloning was first outlawed by many of the nations of old Earth out of fear of the unknown or oftentimes out of religious-born fear of God's wrath for essentially trying to trump him/her/them at their own game. Early cloning techniques were crude and created "copies" that simply weren't viable due to susceptibility to diseases or bringing forth genetic conditions due to an incomplete understanding of the genetic code. Some geneticists declared that they could manipulate the genetics of a child in the womb to bring forth certain traits like being more physically capable, being more intelligent, or even changing the sex of a child to what the parents wanted; most of these doctors will little more than charlatans and frauds and others danced too closely to the line of morality of the times. Then there was the birth of the Moreaus, a mixture of animal and human DNA, that helped spark the riots in places like the USA and Russia that helped Moreaus earn their freedom.

In the early 22nd century the desire to create a master race of man once again reared it's ugly head. With the competition for work becoming ever more cutthroat, parents were willing to go to great ends to ensure that their children had every advantage possible. Some turned to geneticists to give their kids those advantages. In India, a group of "super-humans" (also known as "Franks", short for Frankensteins, which were also created by certain nations as a form of better soldier) staged a bloody coup of the government, convinced that their superior genetics made them the only logical choice to lead humanity into a new golden age. In other parts of the world, similar groups gathered together with also similar goals. This lead to the short-lived Gene Wars and lead many nations to outlaw the practice of genetic modification for the sole purpose of improving upon a person's natural abilities. While there were still places where such modifications could still be had, the practice became like other socially unacceptable practices like being racist or smoking. Those that received genetic modifications had a higher chance of developmental issues, and even those that were able to conceal the fact that they had been enhanced had to forever keep their secrets due to the social backlash that would inevitably occur should they be found out.

Once man had began to colonize parts of the Sol System, it was decided that certain colonists should receive modifications to their genetic structures in order to make them better able to handle specific rigors of life on certain moons and planets. These "Neo-Humans" (Franks being a highly racist term) weren't met with the fear and derision of their ancestors, but were seen as the next step forward to cementing mankind's place among the stars.

Since these early days, genetic science has cured many maladies that once plagued mankind. Plus, it has allowed humanity to colonize entire star systems, a feat that would have been impossible without alteration. Many of these changed beings are now essentially new species in and of themselves, adding new branches to the human family tree.

The top of the human family tree is your garden-variety human with all the wondrous diversity that entails. These are people like you and me, only they live in an amazing future filled with starships, aliens, and advanced technology.

Moreaus and their history have been covered here. (For Savage Worlds, I use Interface Zero 2.0's Hybrids for the rules for Moreaus. For Rogue Space, the Simians make perfect Moreaus of several primate species. I'm working on adding several others to cover the more common breeds.)

Neo-Human is a blanket term that cover several specific genetically modified human types. A few have even bred true to become their own race, but those are covered elsewhere. These beings are much like those that started the Gene Wars in Earth's pre-Concord history. They have the best genetics that money can buy and that tends to make them arrogant. However, most Neo-Humans keep their origins to themselves, and some have no idea that they have been modified as their parents never told them. Still, arrogance and over-confidence seems to be a common trait among Neo-Humans. (For Savage Worlds, use the Human 2.0 race for Neo-Humans.)

Europans are race of humans that was born from genetic modifications made to allow humans to better survive aquatic environments such as the frigid oceans of Europa. The initial Europans bred true and are among the first colonists called upon to colonize and explore oceanic worlds. Europans tend to be an adventurous, but easy-going people. They are most comfortable in aquatic environments where their gills and their webbed fingers and toes are more useful, but they can function on land as well as underwater. (For Savage Worlds, Europans use the Aquarian race package found in the Deluxe Sci-Fi Companion.)

Spartans are the descendants of Brute and Praetorian-class Franks from Earth. During the Breakaway War, several companies of these beings split off from the Sol Systems Alliance to form their own government on a planet in the Yaro system they named Sparta. Since that point, the Spartans have become little more than a society-wide mercenary unit. (Many of the early separatists, gave up the idea of a new Sparta and rejoined the SSA.) They are an aggressive and war-like people that feel that might makes right, relegating them to the fringes of cosmic society. However, their reputation for being fierce and highly disciplined soldiers has made them highly sought after as mercenaries throughout the Alpha Quadrant. (For Savage Worlds, use the Fury race from the Nemezis setting for Spartans.)

Nords are the descendants of the first humans modified to better survive the rigors of arctic environments. Nords require little rest, none of which being sleep, in order to function normally. They can also safely withstand the effects of temperatures well below freezing. They are a tough and hardy people who are hard-working and value courage and efficiency. Their ability to go without sleep allows them to make more use of every solar day, which also leads them to look down at many normal humans as being lazy. (For Savage Worlds, use the Ashite race from the Nemezis setting for Nords, but I add in the Hindrance of suffering a -1 penalty to rolls when in 70-80 degree temperatures, and a -2 penalty when in temperatures over 80 degrees.)

Serrans are a hybrid of Fraal and Human DNA. These being first became public knowledge after a raid on a Cerberus (a very well funded pro-human terrorist organization) facility. They were using genetic techniques gleaned from the Illithids and possibly Gene-Techs to create a human with more psionic potential. Their experiments had been going on for some time, as Serrans were in their third generation. Since that point most Serrans have entered into Sol Alliance society as citizens, while others travel the cosmos trying to find their place in the cosmos. (For Savage Worlds, use Serrans as is from the Deluxe Sci-Fi Companion.)

Psi-Stalkers are a breed of human that was developed first by certain factions on Earth that feared the psionic abilities that the Fraal were helping to unlock in humans. They saw psionic ability as evil and something to be stamped out as ruthlessly as possible. Psi-stalkers are able to track psions by sensing the psionic energies they give off in little pulses that are not perceptible by most species. The original Psi-Stalkers were supposedly all wiped out shortly after their discovery, but Cerberus and other terrorist organizations throughout space, both human and not, have made use of these beings. While there are no known Psi-Stalker colonies, it has been determined that these being do breed true, so they have evidently been active for a long time. Most Psi-Stalkers today, if they are not in the employ of a specific terror cell, tend to be bounty hunters and mercenaries. They are aggressive, almost bestial when closing in on their prey, and are regarded as a threat species by both the SSA and the Galactic Concord. (These are from Rifts, and I do have Savage Worlds stats, but until Kevin Siembieda loosen his restrictions on posting conversions of his work, these stats are going to have to stay secret.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Homebrew Supers: Firearm

This is the last in this series of homebrew superheroes (for now). No stats with this one yet, just background information. I'm slowly adding MSH stats to the other characters, so be sure to check them out again from time to time.

Firearm 

Real Name: David Masterson
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 190 lbs.
Hair: Black
Eyes: Green
Identity: Secret
Nationality: American
Ethnicity: Caucasian

The story of Firearm actually begins with the villain, Arsonator. Arsonator was a power-armored firebug that went on a wild, three-day arson spree throughout Miami, Florida. It was a spree that ended with a climactic battle against the hero, Zerker Dan. The Arsonator was brought to justice and his armor was taken as evidence the Miami Police Department.

David Masterson was a beat cop in Miami who had lost his right arm below the elbow a year ago while attempting to stop a convenience store robbery. Since that time, he had been in charge of the Evidence Department. He hated being stuck behind a desk, but realized that he wasn't going to be able to fully return to street patrol. When the Arsonator armor arrived at the station, he did something that had never even crossed his mind in his life. David Masterson broke the law.

David took the armor and modified it (with help of his brother, an engineer), so that it would better fit his body. The design was changed a bit to make it look more heroic and a lot less like the Arsonator. David donned the armor and started his career as a super hero.

Being a fire-wielding hero took some getting used to. David wasn't entirely comfortable with the flamethrower controls his first time out and caused far more collateral damage than he even though he could without burning a building down! Plus, it didn't take long for the Miami police to realize that someone had stolen the Arsonator’s armor and was parading around town in it.

After some missteps, being arrested for theft, losing his job, and eventually being exonerated. Firearm has become a staple of the super-hero community. He’s even received some upgrades to his original armor thanks to Tony Stark.

Firearm’s armor is a shiny metallic burnt orange color. The lower right arm is a flamethrower. The armor stands around 6 feet tall and allows not only for blasts of super-hot fire, but also for rocket propelled leaps, enhanced strength, and protection from damage. David is an athletic man, with black hair, green eyes, and is missing the lower half of his right arm. Before becoming Firearm, he wore a simple prosthetic arm capable only of grasping objects. He now wears a new prosthetic arm that works just like a natural arm. His armor even has space inside it for the arm to slide out of the way easily and still be protected from the rigors of combat.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Homebrew Supers: Black Bird

Black Bird 
M&M Stats
PL: 10 (150 pp)

ABILITIES: STR: 30 (+10) DEX: 16 (+3) CON: 30 (+10) INT: 7 (-2) WIS: 12 (+1) CHA: 10 (0)

SKILLS: Climb (+10), Concentration (+1), Escape Artist (+3), Intimidate 8 (+8 ), Notice 4 (+5), Search (-2), Sense Motive (+1), Stealth (+3), Survival (+1), Swim (+10)

FEATS: Power Attack, Teamwork (2)

POWERS: *Super-Strength [4], *Flight [6], *Protection [2], *Immunity (Life Support) [9], *Regeneration (Diehard, Persistent, Regrowth feats) [7]

COMBAT: Attack 10 [Unarmed +10 (Bruise)] Defense 18 (14 flat-footed) Init 3

SAVES: Toughness 12 (12 flat-footed) Fortitude 15 Reflex 12 Will 9

Abilities 45 + Skills 3 (12 ranks) + Feats 3 + Powers 41 + Combat 36 + Saves 22 – Drawbacks 0 = 150 / 150

Real Name: Craig Lang
Height: 6’8”
Weight: 350 lbs.
Hair: Strawberry Blonde
Eyes: Blue
Identity: Public
Nationality: American
Ethnicity: Caucasian

Craig Lang has always been different. He was born with several learning disabilities that left him behind both educationally and socially to other kids his age. What Craig lacked in smarts, he made up for in toughness. He didn't have to suffer too many insults because he always stood at least 6 inches taller than everyone else and was built like a tank. Craig also had a heart of gold. He was tough, he could take the insults, but he hated to see weaker kids get picked on. Craig was always getting into fights standing up for other kids getting picked on, which quickly became a constant problem.

By the time that Craig was in the third grade, he had to be sent to the alternative school for kids with social issues. While Craig was never the instigator, he was always the one that ended whatever came up…usually with the result of the other kid getting black eye, fat lip, or the occasional broken bone. At the alternative school, Craig was surrounded by kids that had no qualms with starting fights with him.

To his credit, Craig didn't get into any fights for the first three weeks at the alternative school. He took the insults and jabs in stride and just tried to get through the day so he could make his parents happy. (His folks fought the school board for weeks after they decided to send Craig to the alternative school.) There was a group of older kids that decided they were going to finally get to Craig. They ambushed him after school, hitting and kicking him mercilessly. Craig didn't really fight back since he promised his parents that he would do his best not to fight. One of the thugs picked up a rock and hit Craig in the head. As blood poured down the side of his head, fear kicked in and unlocked his latent mutant abilities. The wound on his head healed, and Craig got up. The kid with the rock took another swing, but Craig was quicker shoving the kid back 50 feet with barely any effort. The other kids stopped their attack and ran off. As they fled, Craig leapt at the kid that hit him in the head and surprised himself as he flew at his attacker! Craig was so astonished that he ignored the kid as he ran off to catch up with his buddies.

Craig flew home, totally unaware of the scene he was causing by flying over heavily populated Chicago. It was long after he got home that the police arrived and swarmed his family’s townhouse. The cops had called in backup from the National Guard (since it was an obvious report of unknown super-human activity) who relayed the call to Air Force who scrambled three Argonauts to apprehend Craig. At the sight of all the attention, Craig got scared and flew straight up through the roof of the building. After a brief chase, and the intervention of Hero Prime, Craig was returned to his worried and frightened family.

A few days went by with Craig’s family wondering what they were going to do with their super-powered son. They were visited by Professor Charles Xavier and two of his students: Jean Grey and Jubilee. They convinced Craig’s parents that he needs to learn how to use his powers responsibly and to enroll him at Xavier’s School for Gifted Children. While Craig was scared to leave home, he was happy that he would be in a better school with kids that are a lot like him.

Thanks to Prof. X’s guidance Craig discovered that he has super-strength, regenerative powers, and can fly at great speed. Over the years, Craig has developed into the very vision of a gentle giant. He has learned how to judge when and how much force he should use against various foes. He became a member of the New Mutants and adopted the name of Black Bird. He still doesn't like to fight, but will quickly step in to protect innocent people or his teammates. Once he graduated, he left the New Mutants and became a member of the X-Men.

Craig is an imposing figure. He is tall and heavily muscled. He tends to wear a backwards Chicago White Sox cap even when suited up in his X-Men uniform. His hair is kept long and usually tied into a ponytail, and his facial hair is kept in a goatee and mustache.