The Druids of Fridon call it The Curse of Iron. They have seen it many times over the centuries. Once a person or group uses weapons of iron they can never put them down again. Inescapably, others will come for their iron next. Or those around them will seek their own iron out of fear, tearing up the earth and felling the forests for fire to shape it. They will build stongholds and castles to keep it in their possession. They will enslave people to build for them and to work their fields. It will consume them and change them and all around them. And that is why The Druids and the wild elves and the hillmen of Fridon bury iron they find, praying for it to sleep again as they return it to the earth.
Posted in Lore / Worldbuilding and tagged Soralia by Adam A. Thompson with no comments yet.
The chief Unicorn (me) went to snowy Lake Geneva last weekend to play games with friends old and new.
The big project was DOUBLE SIZED DIVINE RIGHT, a larger version of the rare fantasy board game of yore. I love playing the game, but the original version is too small for my aging eyes and trembling fingers at this point. So I decided to make a larger copy both for home use and for traveling with. One of the fans on the forums suggested printing it on vinyl, and in spite of my aversion to plastics I did so. My local print shop did an awesome job scanning the board and printing a vibrant, durable, and portable copy.
For the chits and cards I used the .pdf files on the CD-ROM that came with the 25th anniversary edition. The same local print shop printed them on cardstock, which I glued down to matte boards with archival glue. Once they were dry I started to cut them out with scissors and art knives, but only got about halfway through when I ran out of time and hand strength. That matte board is tough stuff, but playing with the bigger chits was worth the work. Back to the local print shop which did a decent job cutting the remaining chits out.
Playing with the larger version on Thursday was great fun. I had two other players in the game, which threw off my plans. I had hoped to have 4 to 6 players, and I was going to play the Black Hand and mostly stay out of it. But with only three players that didn’t make as much sense to me. So we drew kingdoms at random and I got Pon. Ethan got the Trolls, and John got the elves of Neuth. I ended up getting good rolls and activating Suchhasum, then Mivior, then the Goblins, then the Black Hand. The others did not do as well on their diplomacy rolls. Once my armies were organized, I sacked the blue city in the south, then the Black Knights Keep, and then headed north to face the elven, troll, and dwarf forces attacking my cities. Upon the banks of the Loudwater River my combined army defeated the elves and their king was slain. Meanwhile the goblins had sacked Immer’s capital and captured their monarch. At the end of the day I had a tremendous number of victory points. But a couple lucky diplomacy rolls is all it really takes to give a player a big edge. Everyone showed great fortitude by playing all 20 rounds over the course of 11 hours (with breaks for meals and to see the wedding).
Now that I have all the chits organized, I’d like this to be a convention game that I run frequently.
Sending The Black Hand to break the siege of The Pits.
Besieging the dwarven capital.
In the aftermath of the battle, the Black Hand constructed The Colossus. None would dare approach The Pits again. Pon and the eastern powers had crushed their enemies.
Posted in Board Game, convention, Fantasy, Lore / Worldbuilding by Adam A. Thompson with no comments yet.
In a distant age, at the edge of the galaxy, on a planet named Voek ( UWP: D525A76-6), industrial facilities in the wasteland churn out power generators, spaceship parts, and other machinery for the Grand Imperial Duchy of Abiodun.
Overview – Gamma Complex* is a city-sized science-fiction role-playing setting where a monopolistic corporation, criminal syndicate, royal family, communist dictatorship, or other totalitarian group controls every aspect of life for the residents of the technocratic, massive, hyper-efficient habitable Complex.
The corridor walls of the huge indoor Complex are covered in official murals and motivational posters, and the gray plasticrete passages stretching throughout connect the pay-by-the-minute sleeping-tube warrens to the various work areas and corporate-run stores.
Outside the habitable complex, in the thin air, an immense Scrapyard sprawls for many kilometers. Beyond that, rocky badlands with sparse bits of alien scrub stretch out to the horizon in every direction.
Many workers are in debt to the corporation, and if unable to refinance or get loans, can not afford places to sleep, and eventually, due to their negative credit ratings are only allowed in the access corridors and outside where the atmosphere is thin and their only hope of clearing their debts is bringing in valuable materials from the Scrapyards.
Others, desperate, cunning, or otherwise, take advantage of the Ducal Corporation’s Crime Reporter’s Service, which offers large Gamma Credit (GC) bounties (usually between %5-%20 of the total fine) for any information leading to the fining of any who steal or otherwise violate corporate policy.
The local industry involves significant material recapturing programs, which on planet Voek are concentrated around Gamma Complex, an immense enclosed city-sized building towering over an endless scrapyard. The major industry at Gamma Complex is managing the waste materials from industry in a way that captures valuable materials and keeps costs down.
The whole planet is under the jurisdiction of the Duke of Abiodun. Those without noble titles or connections have little recourse to the law. Workers are classified by the Ducal Corporation into different groups based on their credit scores. The richest Contractors are the Purples, followed by the Greens, Blues, Yellows, Oranges, Browns, and finally, those with debt, the Reds. Workers are required to wear clothes of colors matching their Credit Band – usually some type of work jumpsuit.
Contractors – Most workers at Gamma Complex are “Contractors” or “Sophant Resources” who have made legally recognized arrangements (weather voluntarily, or under duress, or as a result of their parents’ debts) to sell their labor for a period of time. As part of their local job assignments, they are given a certain number of Gamma Credits (GC or GC’s) per local work rotation. Those workers who come from offworld are often delivered to Gamma Complex with significant debts already owed, such as for transport and feeding while being brought to Voek. Many have been sold off as “work-release-prisoners” or “undesirables” under system law from some world or another. Others were born here, inheritors of their parents’ debts. Everyone is required to wear color-coded clothes and mandatory position-tracking name-plates that all visually indicate their job duties, and therefore pay grade and relative status.
Contractor Grades are as follows, and represent cash or credit equal to:
PURPLE – 25 or more Megacredits
GREEN – at least 5 Megacredits
BLUE – at least 1 Megacredit
YELLOW – 500,000 – 100,000 credits
ORANGE – 100,000 – 10,000 credits
BROWN – 10,000 – 0 credits
RED – 0 or fewer credits
Law – Within Gamma Complex and in the Scrapyard the central authorities have total control and tracking of the Contractors’ movements. Contractors can use their nametag-badges to access their work areas and any recreational or sleeping areas that they can pay for. Those without Corporate authorization to be at Gamma Complex will be arrested, subdued if need be, imprisoned, fined, assessed for work skills, and then offered a Corporate Contract to refinance their fees and then pay off the debt over the course of many years. Depending on the contract, interest rates on loaned credits can be quite high, and Contractors often find themselves in debt from which they can never realistically escape.
Crime – All crimes are punished with monetary fines in the form of GCs. From indecency, public intoxication, and vagrancy, to theft, to assault, and other violent crimes, all result in lost Gamma Credits, or if destitute, with debt. Particularity heinous crimes are met with fines in the millions of credits. Those with sufficiently high debts (such as murderers) are concentrated in high-security areas from which they can only access the Junkyard (usually referred to as “The Kennels”). Anyone with a negative credit score (aka debt) is classified as a “Red”, and is required to wear a red jumpsuit to identify themselves. Wearing the wrong color clothing is punished by a heavy fine.
Contractors can also earn small GC rewards for reporting crimes that result in assignment of fees. Usually they earn %5-%20 of any fees levied, varying somewhat depending on the individual contracts and crimes. As a result, the Contractors of Gamma Complex are quick to report any theft, vagrancy, malingering, anti-company-plotting or other “morale code of conduct violations”** to the Corporate authorities. This of course results in false accusations for profit or out of spite, which if caught itself results in a major fine.
Economy – The Ducal Corporation that owns and operates Gamma Complex provides dispensaries where registered Contractors can spend GCs for food, clothing, and other necessities. Sleeping arrangements are paid for by the minute in a vast complex of Corporation owned and operated accommodations. Steep interest rates are charged for any debits workers incur. Debt refinance and consolidation are available, but only from the Corporation. Some seek loans from illegal underground criminal groups. Either way, debtors usually end up in worse debt.
The entire complex is overseen and run from a central command center, where cameras scan every corridor, tracking badges and color-coded clothes are required at all times, and any one without proper clothes, noble connections, or lots of GCs to spend is going to be reported to central security for intruder interrogation or, if resisting arrest, neutralization.
Due to the ever-lowering wages, and the ever-escalating food and sleep-minute charges, the only way to survive in Gamma Complex is to continuously out-compete all of the other workers. Those whos’ Ducal GC debits remain in the negative cannot buy accommodations must go out into the sprawling Scrapyard where all of the planet’s industrial waste is dumped. There, robots and workers dig out the most valuable bits and bring them back to exchange for GCs.
The Scrapyards – The Scrapyards stretch for miles in every direction around Gamma Complex, interrupted only by the spaceyard landing pads and the ribbon of raised plasticrete roadway, a ribbon of white soaring high above the Scrapyards on high arches, carrying roaring supersonic trains and whizzing cars over the horizon towards the planet’s main starport at Sigma Complex.
In the scrapyard huge machines slowly push around mountains of junk, which sky-screeching cargo shuttles and smelly, creaking dump trucks deposit in ever-growing piles. Mobile smelting bots pick bits of metal and drop them into their furnaces. The resulting ocean of trash constantly swells, heaves, and falls in super-slow motion waves as the machines and Contractors methodically sort through, and fight over the scrap.
Characters who are not protected from hazardous materials or connected to the Corporation’s extensive and ever-changing material-cataloging database, and who travel in the Scrapyard risk the following encounters (roll 2d6 as often as appropriate, such as when entering a new area, or pausing and engaging in loud conversation):
2 – An Enormous Mutant beast lurking in the sludge attacks, or perhaps the PCs risk falling into a dangerous but hidden toxic sludge pit or similar hazard?
3 – A huge mobile refinery-robot-smelter threatens to scoop up and melt the PCs, or some other huge machinery like a crane, trash shuttle or dump truck is about to carelessly or maliciously drop a huge amount of trash on them and crush them…
4 – Radioligical or bioligical hazard that looks like good salvage – a warhead, data cache corrupted with a computer virus, special ammunition, etc.
5 – Attacked by a larger force of salvagers in red jumpsuits, who will take whatever they can.
6 – 8 Panopticon in the Junkyard
If spotted by a patrol in flying car, or a snoopy or Gamma-Credit-hungry shuttle, ship, worker, robot, or satellite, the PCs might be stopped and questioned by Corporate security. They will fly up in an Corporate Security vehicle and demand that the PCs present official Corporate ID or be immediately subdued and arrested. If arrested for unauthorized presence, non-Contractors will be fined a hefty fee, and then be offered a contract to work for the Ducal Corporation to pay off their fees. Those who sign are evaluated for fitness for work assignment, and then given work duties according to their abilities, with varying pay based on worker availability and seniority. Most unauthorized persons end up like the majority of residents at Gamma Complex: in an ever-deepening debt that can probably never be paid off. Those who refuse to sign up for a Contract will be assigned to the extremely onerous Default Contract and put to work in the Scrapyard.
9 – Scrap dealer or collection station – the PCs find a place where someone is buying scrap, whether for GCs, or barter, or whatever else, or perhaps an automated station or giant land crawler that is accepting choice scrap for secure transport back to the smelters and factories.
10 – Useful scrap of some type – Space-radio? Jet packs? Food? A friendly but damaged robot? Skeleton key for their space-handcuffs?
11 – Puppet Masters Ship – Standing among the heaps of junk and trash, an off-kilter beat-up 1950’s Earth-style refrigerator lies with it’s door-side tilted up at the sky like a swollen belly. Behind the door of the beat up refrigerator is a multi-dimensional-reality-jumping-ship operated by insectoid creatures known as Puppet Masters (see Class of 199x). They bring their ship here sometimes to collect materials and kidnap people to use as mind-controlled slaves. Entering requires significant work to bypass the super hi-tech / magically warded door, or the use of one of the mind-control collars that all of the Puppet Master slaves wear.
12 – Overlooked Salvage – for some reason this very valuable piece of salvage, be it a trophy, piece of technology, spaceship or vehicle of questionable quality, or a massive gemstone or idol) has been misplaced in the Scrapyard.
Outside of Gamma Complex
In the huge wasteland around Gamma Complex the people are mostly escapees from the Junkyard or the non-employees: a group of humanoids, mostly Voekian natives, who have adapted to the local toxic environment to various degrees. Some have advantageous mutations, but most just die, be it slowly or quickly.
Terrible creatures great and small, and wondrous ones as well, thinly pepper the harsh scrub of the highlands for many miles.
*with much love to Paranoia the RPG, and hilarious memories of nonsense in Alpha Complex, back in 1998x-199x!
** including belonging to or associating with any organized group, political party, fellowship, union, cult, or religion
Posted in Campaign Setting, Location, Lore / Worldbuilding, Region, rules agnostic, Science-Fiction, Traveller and tagged Class of 198X, ClassOf198X, Paranoia, Skein Reach by Adam A. Thompson with no comments yet.
#NSFW #puppets #apocalypse #robot #mutant
Posted in d20 Future, Fiction, Gamma World, Post-Apocalyptic and tagged #NSFW #puppets #apocalypse #robot #mutant by Adam A. Thompson with no comments yet.
Upon the black sand shores of far north-eastern Findor, a few miles up the road from an isolated fishing village, there is a three-story monastery of basalt stones. Beside it is a shrine to no named god, built beneath the shelter of the upturned prow of a wrecked sailing ship. The monks there will tell visitors that the monastery was founded by a sailor who washed ashore after a great storm, and who took shelter and a vow of silence beneath the wreckage of the ship. He built gardens and started building the monastery tower, and others joined him there in a peaceful life of contemplation of the dark ocean and the cold wind.
Now the monastery is well established, with a well, two fishing boats, an apiary and meadery, numerous chickens, and flocks of sheep and goats. Three monks oversee things, Brother Trausti, a mute human who teaches unarmed combat* and stonework, Brother Fardinb, a friendly half-elf who oversees the work of the younger monks on the monastery’s farms, and Sister Gretta, a studious hill gnome who oversees the library that takes up the top floor of the monastery tower.
Unknown to all of the residents the monastery has a magical connection to the astral plane. The sailor who founded the monastery had a vision of the Sea of Stars when he was dying of drowning, and meditated on it until he discovered how to travel there in his mind. His frequent psychic travels formed a weak connection between the training room that makes up the first floor of the monastery and the astral plane, and as a result planar travel and communication with the outer realms is slightly easier in the first floor of the monastery.
Through his meditation, and his time carving the stone of the training room, Trausti has begun to receive visions from the deep astral, as have the rest of the monks in the monastery. These visions, like those received by others scattered around the world, relate to the impending apocalypse of the Summer Frost, and are the result of White Eye’s secret spell to locate the pieces of the long lost Ring of Runes. With it in his grasp and reforged, White Eye intends to use its world-altering power to encase the world in eternal ice.
*Because one player wanted to play a monk in my Monday D&D game, I came up with this place on the fly during Session Zero. It turned out to be a great place to tie the plot threads into since we decided the warlock PC would also come from the same place. Good brainstorming in Session Zero really bore some great fruit, in terms of plot.
Posted in Location, Lore / Worldbuilding by Adam A. Thompson with no comments yet.
I came up with this dungeon when my players wandered into hex C2-20 in the classic Dungeons & Dragons adventure Descent Into the Depths of the Earth, a great old adventure which encourages DMs to fill inthe blank encounter areas with dungeons of one’s own design.
One of the players was playing a Warlock with the Far Ones pact, and I wanted to introduce a re-occurring Mind Flayer antagonist who would be a contact for the Warlock for their pact. The result was a nasty little dungeon filled with traps and horrors. When the Mind Flayer within contacted the warlock telepathically to offer magical secrets the Player Characters followed them right in.
The evil architects of this stronghold forced their slaves to build it as a spiraling trap, with a raised, hidden central area from which they could use their psychic powers on hapless intruders. As their prey make their way through the outer areas, encountering the mind-controlled slaves who dwell there, the Mind Flayers will lurk, peering through hidden peep-holes to use mind blasts and charm powers on their victims. If discovered, the Mind Flayers will retreat up 20 foot vertical shafts to the central passages and behind further secret doors.
Posted in 1st edition D&D, 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, Adventure, Fantasy, Location, Lore / Worldbuilding, rules agnostic, Trap and tagged Descent into the Depths of the Earth by Adam A. Thompson with no comments yet.
Having crossed the length and breadth of the Skein Reach
nurtured a nascent Droid Uprising
faced off against, and robbed
the Imperium, and the Ragranok Krew
made enemies innumerable
and killed many
and in the process saved many from death and from fates worse than death
the motley crew of the starship CALAMITY
navigate ever coreward
following the impulses of a strange cyber-brain
and a pieced-together map from a lost star empire
past dead star after dead star
attended by tiny chunks of rock
(each gathering sufficient hydrogen from the bright strands of bright, colorful nebulae to allow refueling)
nestled in the glare of a deadly pulsar
a blank globe
of deepest darkness.
Posted in Lore / Worldbuilding, Science-Fiction, Traveller, Uncategorized and tagged ale break, Skein Reach, worldbuilding by Adam A. Thompson with no comments yet.
The “Boast of White Eye”, as it is called by the magi of Setheria Isle, was found by the Magus Oahkill when a quest led him to the Ice Isles of northern Findor, some one hundred years ago. His written account of the journey contains the following passage. He first saw the sign of a simple spell, and investigated. His eldritch sight deciphered secret wizard-writing sorcerously scrawled across an iced-over engraving of the royal family of dwarves who had built the towers here so long ago.
Posted in Character, Fiction by Adam A. Thompson with no comments yet.
The sound of rapping at the door barely interrupted the thunderous downpour. After the proprietor peered through the iron peephole and made out the huddled form, he let the stranger in. A drenched Glenillyn from the Northlands passed the threshold, introduced himself, and asked for shelter at the house of Traer in the Southlands. He was carrying a bridle round his neck and spurs dangled from his belt.
After a frugal supper filled with rich conversation, Glenillyn inquired as to what service he could render to repay Traer’s hospitality. The dark host sat silent for some time, then he said to his guest, “I ask nothing of you save you bring me the prized mare held by my neighbor to the west. He guards her with such precision that for months all my attempted ambushes have been in vain.”
Glenillyn said, “You in the South are certainly slow and cowardly by our standards. We would have made an attempt to get her and even have died rather than hang about for moons. Tell me where she is and wait here over the next night and see how I do.”
Said Traer, “We know all about the boasting of your people. Cadwallon, the son of Uther, has the mare at Gelligaer. She feeds by day in the midst of soldiers. At night she slumbers on a fine brachan in the far corner of his house, with the whole household between her and the only door and four of his best men between her and the fireplace. In addition to repaying my hospitality, you shall get ten cows for the mare and five for the brachan.” Traer strolled up unconcernedly to the face of Glenillyn, as no thief in the Southlands is arrested but is instead killed on the spot, so if the traveler were seen again it would mean success and he would have his prize. Glenillyn nodded, took his rest, and in the morning set forth to retrieve the mare.
The night was dark and starless as Glenillyn approached Gelligaer. With his knife he made a hole beside the door and let himself in. He stole up to the mare and loosed her. Then, with the lashing skills of the seamen of the north, he tied the fringes of the carpet to her tail. The four men were sleeping on the carpet and following Glenillyn’s lead, the mare dragged the guards bodily through the fire, which consumed them immediately and with nary a shriek, their ashen corpses covered the rug as it was dragged outside the door. Cadwallon’s remaining band set out after him, guided by the sparks. These Glenillyn quenched, and mount and robber rode off into a nearby field. Just before dawn, he returned to Traer safely, handed over the mare, received the cows and gained for himself great renown for daring as against the men of the Southlands.
Unfortunately for both men, the story doesn’t end there. The mare herself sustained burns passing through the fire that night. The ashes of the corrupt guards wore into the sores opened by the flesh wounds, infecting the mare with the evil intent that an unjust death does. The next night, she broke free of the stables of Traer, breathing fire as bright as ever from the hearth of Cadwallon at her captors, her flesh still rotting yet clinging to her animated frame. She galloped off across the land, set free by her power. From the prints where her hooves stepped that night, no plant has since grown.
It is said she has bred many more mares in her corrupted image. On starless nights, beware the whinnies that wind through the dells of the Southlands and the haunted dreams of men.
Inspired by the Welsh legend of Genillyn, the Thief of Glamorgan.
Posted in Fiction and tagged fiction, hook seed or legend by Stephen Hilderbrand with no comments yet.