Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Palette Cleanser

It's been terribly quiet around here for a while, and I apologize for that. I've got a few thins in the hopper that I just can't get myself to give a crap about to finish them. This period of writer's block has been further hampered by work and family obligations as well, so I'm going to cut my losses and shift gears for a while.

Ever since I picked up Mutants and Marvels (and add in that the boys and I have been watching a lot of superhero shows lately) I've been wanting to look back at MSH with Tom Doolan's rules as the focus. I'm going to pick  back up on my massive super-hero database by re-tooling MSH stats to fall in line with the Mutants and Marvels rules. Most characters will essentially be the same, but there will be some changes since damage doesn't work the same.

I'm not giving up on Mythic Space by any means, I just need to let it sit for a bit until I don't feel like I'm just re-hashing the same ideas over and over and over again. I want to write because it's fun, and I just haven't had much fun with it lately.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Farewell to an Icon


I had intended on wrapping up a post about Thanos and the Thanosi tonight, but fate had other plans. Instead, I'm posting a fond farewell to a man that I didn't personally know, but one that had a profound effect on my life. I don't typically feel anything other than a quick "bummer" at the passing of actors/athletes/celebrities, but there are a few out there that do occasionally affect me. The passing of Leonard Nimoy is one.

While my sci-fi teeth were cut on Star Wars, it was Star Trek where they were honed. One of the most endearing characters on the Original Series was that of Spock, the half-breed Vulcan who was Captain Kirk's loyal and trustworthy sidekick. His cold facade hid a truly human heart. To this day I still tear up during the reactor scene in The Wrath of Khan as Spock forces out his heartfelt goodbye to his friend, "I have been - and always shall be - your friend..." is even more poignant now.

I credit Mr. Nimoy along with the rest of the cast and crew of Star Trek for instilling in my a love of science fiction and a desire to see their world become our future. It is with a heavy heart that I, like many of us today, say goodbye to one of the titans of the genre. Rest in Peace.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A'askvarii in Mythic Space


Galaxy: Milky Way
Quadrant: Alpha
Star System: Deneb
Planet: Oerlanii, third from the sun
Type of Government: Benign Anarchy, Member of the Galactic Concord
Level of Technology: Starships capable of Warp 5, little defensive technology


The A'askvarii are an aquatic semi-humanoid species from the planet Oerlanii in the Deneb system. They are a pacifist species, with only rudimentary weapons technology, who despite what they refer to as the Concord's "anti-tentacle sentiments" ingratiated themselves into the Galactic Concord even though they have no real governing body. 

A'askvarii are a very warm and inviting people, despite their somewhat fierce appearance. It is their appearance that kept them from travelling the stars too much until the last 50 standard years. They found early on in their interstellar travels that many humanoid species have a great fear of anything that deviates too far from the humanoid standard of two arms, legs, and a head. Their tentacle arms being the largest deviation from the humanoid standard. Especially after the Illithid Invasion, fears of such beings run higher and stronger than ever. Many A'askvarii felt it was too dangerous to mix with many other species due to their illogical prejudices, and largely kept to themselves. 

When they began to be harassed by Horune pirates that were making the Deneb system something of a waystation on their raids into fringes of the Concord, several groups of A'askvarii knew that they were going to need help, and the Concord was their best bet. It took several months of negotiations, but they were finally admitted into the Concord. However, since the A'askvarii have no central government they do not have a seat in the Senate. Since the A'askvarii don't see the need in governance, they really don't care as long as they can do their part to be useful members of the Concord, if individuals so choose that is. 

A'askvarii culture is one that is centered around peace and independence. They were once slaves of a species that sounds suspiciously like the Thorpids that were recently ousted out of Corvian space. The history of the occupation and time as slaves is sketchy at best, but what is known was that the A'askvarii largely did not resort to violence, but instead went about on a crusade of civil disobedience to make themselves as annoying as possible to their captors. Seeing as how Oerlanii has little in the way of precious resources not in abundance elsewhere in the sector, it was likely that the oppressors simply figured they weren't worth the trouble and left for greener pastures. This adherence to pacifism is one of the key tenets of their culture to this day. They are also fierce individualists, likely a side effect of formerly being a slaved species. This is a large reason why they have never set up a formal government. There are local councils and committees that oversee various issues like infrastructure and the like, and for larger issues some committees band together to talk over issues and make decisions for the planet, but once the work is completed these committees are quickly disbanded and the members go back to their everyday lives. A'askvarii equate governance with the gathering of power and that nearly always leads to violence and a loss of individual rights. That is something they will not allow to happen. 

The decision to join the Concord was one of the most heated debates in A'askvarii culture. To most A'askvarii, the Concord is no less violent and expansion-oriented as the Romulan and Klingon Empires and the Peacekeepers. Add in that many A'askvarii have had bad encounters with several Concord species over their tentacles, and many were not in favor of getting into bed with the Concord. However, the thought of throwing away good A'askvarii lives against pirates that were vastly better armed and skilled at war was just as terrible of a proposition. They have known for a long time that the time would likely come in which they would either have to become a more martial society or ind allies who could fight but were less inclined to impose their will, and so the decision by the "Grand Committee" was made to approach the Concord for admittance. 

So far, the acceptance of the A'askvarii into the Galactic Concord has been largely positive. The increased trade with many Concord members has improved the level of technology on Oerlanii and the Horune pirates were quickly driven out into space by the Concord Navy. The addition of a Concord starport near the fifth planet in the system leaves some with a feeling of disquiet, but few A'askvarii visit the station anyway. Really, the biggest issue has been the prejudices of many Concord species, but the A'askvarii are such a kind people, that any foolish fears are quickly done away with. Many A'askvarii have entered into careers in the Concord bureaucracy to help further drive out some prejudices as well. 

A'askvarii are a humanoid species, but one where the regular two arms are replaced by six tentacles with suction grips on the ends, three tentacles on each side. They are an amphibious species. Their noses consist of two gill slits. Their eyes are large and end and have a complex filtering system that allows them to see in the gloom of their deep marshes as well as protecting their eyes from the brightness of their sun while on land. Their legs come with three toes, all taloned, with the third growing on the back of their heels. Their mouths are filled with needle-sharp teeth, which are very evident as most A'askvarii tend to smile a lot. A'askvarii flesh is rubbery and a mottled green in color for males with females being a more blue-green shade. They mate in much the same way as most humanoid beings, surprisingly enough, but females lay eggs. A'askvarii infants are born able to eat meat, which makes up much of the A'askvarii diet. 

A'askvarii for Savage Worlds
Aquatic: A'askvarii cannot drown in oxygenated liquid and have a free d6 in Swimming. Their Pace in water is equal to their Swimming skill.
Additional Action: Due to their six arms, A'askvarii get one extra non-movement action per round at no multi-action penalty.
All Thumbs: Due to their lack of fingers, A'askvarii being play with the All Thumbs Hindrance. 
Pacifists: A'askvarii are strict pacifists and start play with the Major version of the Pacifist Hindrance. 


A'askvarii for Rogue Space
Archetypes: A'askvarii can be either Scoundrels or Technicians and add +1 to either Acquiring or Empathy. 
Abilities: A'askvarii can breathe both air and water. Due to their lack of fine manipulating digits, they suffer a -1 penalty to all Repair rolls. 
Psionics: A'askvarii can be Espers with Commune and Empath being the most common powers they display. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bleh and Ugh...

Another long stretch with nothing, nada, zippo out of me. We've had a run of the plague the last couple of weeks and this time I was not immune. However, with the forecast being cold and crappy this weekend, I foresee being able to put the finishing touches on a couple of Marvel Aliens. Hopefully, that will spur me on to getting back in a regular groove of posting.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Mythic Space Mutants

I've mentioned a few times that for mutant characters I use Darwin's World. I've had to tweak the system so that it works more generically than the post-apocalyptic setting it was designed for. Here's how I'm going about doing that.

First off, the default assumption is that most mutants with be human or near-human as a base. Alien species can have mutations, but in order to make use of the mutations the GM and player must come to a decision as to which default abilities are given up in lieu of the character being a mutant. (At least +2 worth of abilities for each mutation stage.

Mutant characters are broke down into 3 stages. The first stage are the weakest with the most defects with the third stage being the strongest with more major mutations and fewer defects, so no real change from the default found in DW. All mutant characters are considered Outsiders, which fits their background since most come from the worst hellholes in the galaxy. All mutations are determined randomly. The breakdown of mutation levels is the same as that found in DW with Major and Minor Mutations and Defects. I've even put together a table for Neural Mutations.

Speaking of Neural mutations, only the Novice level powers are allowed. Neural mutations do not automatically gain the Psionics Arcane Background, just three rolls to determine their powers and 10 power points. They can purchase the edge and become full psions, but until that point they are unable to advance their powers, and their powers cost +1 extra power point to use. (I tend to use the No Power Points rules for Psionics. In lieu of 10 power points, neural mutants suffer a penalty to their Psionics roll equal to the full cost of the power being activated.)

Why Didn't I Think of That?

I've made it no secret that when it comes to supers rpg's, my heart is set on Marvel Super Heroes. I like just about everything about the system, except for the chart. I've never cared for the chart, but it's always been something that I just put up with and it never really got in the way of running a good game. ICONS makes an effort to simplify the process and at least on the surface feels very MSH-like. However, I'm not a fan of the FATE-based bits and breaking down the action into panels and pages, while thematically great, just doesn't do it for me.

Enter Mutants and Marvels.

Mutants and Marvels is a 45 page rpg that takes it's inspiration from MSH, but tweaks the system into the D20 system for the dice rolling only. It keeps the FASERIP stats. It keeps the rank names. It keeps the Popularity, Karma, and Resources. There's no more chart, there's only some simple addition and subtraction. On it's own, the book is far too light to make the robust heroes and villains that MSH players are used to, but applying the mechanics to the Ultimate Powers Book and the various Gamer's Handbooks to the Marvel Universe (not to mention the mountain of fan-created stats for just about every character in the Marvel Universe) and MSH becomes about as perfect of a supers game as I could want. There will be some tweaks that need to be applied here and there, especially for power specially written for certain characters, but most of those can easily be done on the fly.

This is one of those things that when I read it I thought "Huh. Now why didn't I think of that?" Seriously, I should have thought of that a long time ago. Thanks to Tom Doolan for doing it for me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Guilty Pleasures

I have a confession to make, I love late-night talk radio. Shows like Coast to Coast AM and Ground Zero are a couple of my favorites. They often delve into realms that no typical radio show would ever dream of touching for fear of appearing, well, unbalanced at least or outright insane at worst. Aliens, Bigfoot sightings, secret cabals, and so forth are constantly given airtime to anyone within the distance of the signal. Oftentimes when I listen to these shows I get the itch to make notes for a Dark Matter campaign I'll likely never run (again) as they are an excellent source of bat-shit insane ideas just begging to be added to a game.

Dark Matter was the first Alternity campaign I ran. From the moment I picked up Alternity, I worked on a space opera setting (much of that material turning into what is now coalescing into Mythic Space), but Dark Matter inspired me to get out from in front of my computer to the table with friends. During this time, X-Files was at the height of popularity and so it was easy to convince some friends to join in for a game. While it only lasted for a handful of sessions, it remains one of the more memorable campaigns I ever GM'ed or played in. I often look at it sitting on the shelf and get the hankering to run it again, and those feelings only get stronger whenever I catch a good episode of late night talk radio.

Tonight's episode of Ground Zero was "Synarchy" from the viewpoint that the world's empires and nations are following the guiding hand of extra-terrestrial or divine beings. "Evidence" was being presented in the form of quotes from people like Winston Churchill, to former Canadian Defense Minister Paul Hellyer, to even Meryl Streep supporting the idea that aliens (or angels and demons) are either working with world leaders or actually are the ones in charge of the world we live in and are behind everything that goes on. While the idea is laughable, these are the makings of a great Dark Matter (or Paranoia for that matter) game.

I'm not likely going to start detailing any such campaign, though I might dust off some of my old notes from my old Dark Matter campaign and post them here. Mythic Space will remain my primary focus, but it's nights like tonight that the ol' gamer ADD really kicks into high gear...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Some (Relatively) Recent Acquisitions

I've been working furiously on getting my core rules for Mythic Space finalized (I just keep finding more things to add and/or tweak), but I wanted to take a little time to tell you about some of my recent purchases.

First off, I realized the other night that I forgot to mention that the final setting book from The Last Parsec KS, Scientorium, was released a while ago. This one might just be my favorite out of the three. The Scientorium is an ancient space station/library of a long dead galaxy-spanning empire. It is a mysterious place full of knowledge, super-tech, and dangers. It's just the kind of place that a good sci-fi exploration game needs. Just like the rest of the Last Parsec line, Scientorium is light on the details, so it is more of set of interconnected plot hooks and adventure ideas than a fully-realized setting. All in all, while The Last Parsec ended up being less of a setting than what I envisioned when I plunked my money down, I'm still happy with the purchase and will find a use for all three books for many years to come. I hope that Pinnacle gives the setting a more detailed look, or at least more of these setting books in the future.

Next up is another Savage Worlds book, but this time for Interface Zero 2.0. Japan: Empire of the Setting Sun details, well, Japan from the Interface Zero setting. There's a lot of stuff backed into these 67 pages. Lots of cultural details and adventure seeds, plus new gear, golemmechs, and threats. If you are a fan of Interface Zero 2.0, or a fan of a dystopian, cyberpunk Japan (which thanks to movies like Akira and the asian-theme-laden Blade Runner is nearly iconic with the cyberpunk genre) then I highly recommend picking up a copy.

Finally, I picked up the system-neutral sci-fi setting Strange Stars by +trey causey from From the Sorcerer's Skull blog (which if you like space opera/sci-fi/sci-fantasy is a blog that you really need to be reading if you're not already). Weighing in at 32 pages, it's a bit pricier than what I like to pay for a pdf of that size, but Trey has put together a great setting that is throwback to games like Star Frontiers (complete with an homage on the cover) and the heyday of late 70's and early 80's sci-fi from movies, TV, and comics. If system-neutral isn't your thing, there is a Fate version and a Stars Without Number version in the works. Plus, there might just be a Savage Worlds version in the works as well. Strange Stars is packed with great material that can serve as the basis for a campaign in the setting to add to your own space opera campaign. I highly recommend checking it out.