Setting Riff: Oa versus Krypton

A thousand years ago, on the planet Krypton, there was a technologically advanced, cruel and nihilistic race which carved a vast stellar empire, subjugating thousands of civilisations under their regime. Only one planet managed to overthrow the grip of the empire, Oa, but their rebellion only served to free their own planet.

Their thirst for power eventually cost the destruction of their own homeworld. In the dying moments, one of their top scientists sent his offspring to one of their genetic stock planets in the hope that he would revenge them by breeding a new race of soldiers. The spacecraft travelled for a thousand years until it reached the small blue marble orbiting a yellow sun. The primitive present on the planet were seeded millions of years before and would be almost completely genetically compatible with the offspring. The scientist had not realised that these primitives would had evolved rapidly in their culture in the intervening years. The Kryptonian offspring would fail in his mission, living as one of the primitives, becoming their protector.

But the offspring was not the only survivor. Thousands of their genetically superior supersoldiers had survived the destruction of the planet and were now warlords over the planets they had subjugated reporting to a military command structure engineered to survive a cataclysm – their commanders reside on Kandor, previously a planet not dissimilar to Earth, whose population were also seeded by the Kryptonian war machine.

The rebellion would be slow, it would be thorough and it originated from Oa. Their agents would spread through the shattered Kryptonian empires and recruit forces of rebellion from their own people. Oan scientists had discovered that fragments of the destroyed planet were toxic to the survivors. Each type would cause a different effect, but only one could be used as more than a poison, only one would be able to take the fight to the stars: green kryptonite.

And from these fragments, they fashioned their weapons.

The theft of the Book of Raziel

I’ve stolen the main text here from page 54 of the Smallville RPG but remodeled it on Qabal:

Isaac’s player, James, says, “I step into the room from where I have been eavesdropping and accuse Rothschilde of stealing the Book of Raziel.” He then grabs his TRUTH die and his CIRCLE die. None of his other assets apply (he is not trying to intimidate). He rolls both dice and adds them together to get his action result of 8.

Rothschilde’s player, Gerald, rolls before replying. He picks up his POWER die, his ILLUMINATI die and his DECEIT die. He rolls them together and picks the highest two, getting a 12 for his result. He says, “I look Isaac straight in the eye and cooly tell him that I was out of the country until this afternoon, which is a lie but he doesn’t know that.”

I’m wondering whether the mechanic would work. I think it’s the right level of non-violence (except when needed). I think it might drag in the right amount of other factors into a challenge. For one thing, Qabal would not suit the slap-dash mechanics of ZOMBI nor the gun-calibre specificity of The 23rd Letter. Would it suit SixSimple? I’m not sure – but the construction of Rmaps and relationships/values/connections/resources seems perfect.

Cold-Blooded Killers

Lizaur on TheRPGSite commented:

Well, the vast majority of RPG has leeengty chapters just about how to kill people, so what do you expect my players do?

Being a bunch of cold-blooder killer bastards, that’s. The fuckers.

Which stands to reason that if you want a game that is violence-free (though not necessarily conflict-free) then you need to reduce the number of pages allocated to killing and maiming in the game. And, to be honest, it also stands to reason that games traditionally appeal to a small section of the population.

The traditional game, D&D, brings you a setting where it is assumed that you will wander the cuntryside, robbing tombs, killing wildlife and murdering other intelligent beings. It’s no wonder that I never liked it.

OK, it’s no secret I’m just a big geek.

Smallville, Serenity, Firefly

I got the Serenity book a few months ago from Sub City in Dublin and the Smallville book arrived today from Amazon.

Both use derivatives of the Cortex system from Margaret Weiss Productions. While Serenity uses the Cortex systems in a “traditional” way, Smallville uses it in an interesting way. To perform an action, it’s not really how talented or skilled you are, it’s about how much the action matters to you, how it aligns with your values and who will benefit from the action. That’s interesting because it aligns partly with what I had in mind for Qabal – even though I may not have realised what I had in mind. I’d still likely use a card-based system rather than a dice-based system but the mechanic is interesting.

Smallville is a TV based on the early years of Superman/Clark Kent, concentrating on the period before he put on the red cape and blue tights. It’s mostly a teen drama similar to Roswell, 90210 or Gossip Girl. The series plays loose with the Superman mythology, altering timelines and characters to provide a episodic story (which has been denounced as “Freak’o’the Week”. They are also, for the most part, blaming the rise of superheroes on the kryptonite meteor rocks which accompanied Clarks escape pod. As plot devices go, that’s quite clever. The story arc is detailed enough and they’ve even resurrected the JSA to provide older mentor roles.

What turned me onto Smallville was an Actual Play on in this AP, the GM (Watchtower) is running a game entitled “Gotham” which is chronicling the teen angst of the various personalities involved in the Batman legend; obviously Bruce Wayne but also Vic Sage (the Question), Talia Al Ghul, Helena Bertinelli (Huntress), Harvey Dent (Two-Face), Ted Kord (Blue Beetle) and others. He’s chewing his way through some of the old DC villains (Black Spider, Terrible Trio etc) and working up to a series end which will have some of the bigger foes. It’s an extremely compelling read.

Of course, to be able to play these kinds of games, you need players who are not only able to put themselves in the mindset but also those who are interested in the mythology of the series, whether that’s Smallville, Gotham, Roswell or Gossip Girl. I’ve met players who couldn’t get past their own biases when playing characters. Such as an atheist who couldn’t play a religious character and a caucasion who couldn’t play a black character. Most fellas seem comfortable enough playing women though (with hilarious and creepy consequences). This sort of game is a relationship drama – it’s about the interactions of people – and you can recognise them on TV as the protagonists are wound up in secrets and never seem to be able to tell the whole truth. Because that would sort stuff out. Duh

The community is developing other homebrews such as Blakes 7, The Matrix, Bugsy Malone, Teen Titans. I’m tempted to find some folk to run a Misfits game. Misfits is a E4 TV series about four young offenders who gain superhuman abilities by being exposed to a strange storm while performing their community service. The first series was extremely enjoyable, the second series starts at 9 pm tonight. It has the advantage of being “new” so you don’t have to have extensive background knowledge to enjoy the story but the disadvantage that you don’t have a lot of pre-made stuff from 50 years+ of writers and artists.

RIP Six Flags New Orleans 2000-2005

Six Flags New Orleans is an amusement park in New Orleans, Louisiana, which has been closed since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
The park is located in Eastern New Orleans, in the Ninth Ward of the city off Interstate 510. The park first opened under the name “Jazzland,” opening in 2000 and operated by Alfa Smartparks before Six Flags took over the park lease in 2002.

And fans of Left4Dead 2 should get a huge amount of shivers from this. This is just screaming out for a new Batman/Joker film to be made.

Music by Godspeed You Black Emperor

Horror – Sids Story

I wanted to write a quick horror scenario which would fit in with pretty much any game and I figured that it couldn’t just be a magical teleporting serial killer, like Jason, Freddy or Leatherface.

Inspiration for this one is “Sids Story” from the Captain Britain trade paperback.

Summary: A local homeless man is infected with an alien spore. It slowly transforms him into a monster but gives him unnatural urges, bouts of superhuman strength but when they recede, he’s just plain ol’ Sid. He’s driven mad by the spore and even sees himself only as a witness to the killings – so he becomes the primary contact for information. Eventually the horror cannot be hidden beneath his rags and cap and his urges drive him underground.

Sid doesn’t get any magical abilities. He’s just strong, streetwise, ashamed of his ‘condition’ and going quite mad – in utter denial of the situation.

Sequence of Events:

  1. Establish Sid the Homeless Bum as a local contact.
  2. A powerful shapeshifting beast is defeated by the heroes. You have to make it characteristic – like the creature eats a certain organ or attacks a certain way – perhaps it leaves needles from its back littered around, each covered by a nasty toxin. Perhaps in the purple bulbous nature of its malleable flesh. Whatever it is – make it a HARD battle – but an obvious, showy, non-secret one.
    The creatures eggs were taken and eaten by some homeless people. Most died, Sid got sick – slowly.
  3. Bodies show up and it’s assumed they died of exposure. No surprise as it’s cold out. Sid contacts them saying there’s a killer out there.
  4. Bodies show up, gnawed.
  5. Body shows up, rent from ear to spleen. Sid blames the killer. The PCs find the needles.
  6. Let it die down. For a few sessions.
  7. Bring it back. Sid is changing slowly, in constant pain and still in denial. He needs food constantly so the people attacked are other homeless, the workers in the soup kitchens etc and eventually some rich kid doing community service. Sid contacts them again, both putting them off the trail and telling them more about the creature.
  8. Fight.