Sunday, January 3, 2021

Jumpgate Hyperspace Cults

Jumpgate Hyperspace Cults, who you can read about here and here, are religious groups who worship hyperspace, and their highest-ranking members expose themselves to hyperspace travel fully conscious to achieve enlightenment (it also drives them insane and sometimes gives them limited psychic powers). They operate the jumpgates that make large-scale interstellar travel possible, they employ a lot of non-believers to run upkeep on the space stations that host the gates, and they’re in a constant power struggle with everyone else in the galaxy. Each gate is run by a different cult and there is no central authority; generally members of different cults will get along, but the rare conflicts are bloody and awful.

Using all these tables will quickly develop a unique cult- I’d recommend supplementing the space station with the tables from A Pound of Flesh. Although these cults are a major thing in my setting, you could drop a single, solitary cult into your own setting without much trouble.


Also, if you have Skerples’ Kidnap the Archpriest module, try reskinning it as a cultist space station with security androids, laser hallways, etc. I did, and my players really enjoyed it!


What’s this specific cult called?

  1. Apostles’ Gate Church

  2. Sisterhood of Void Exultation 

  3. The Lack

  4. Empty Communion

  5. Prismatic Temple of the Boundless Rainbow

  6. Freedom Through Infinity

  7. The Most Holy Abbey of the Kelvion-C54 Jumpgate

  8. Peace Beyond All

  9. Arcturus’ Saviors

  10. Gorged Church of the End Times


What’s an identifying feature of their believers?

  1. Constantly humming a low drone

  2. Sacred geometry tattooed all over their faces

  3. Vow of silence

  4. Intricate robes and shawls, all in one specific color; nonbelievers on the jumpgate’s station are forbidden to wear clothes of the same color

  5. Blindfolds and visors prevent them from gazing upon this unworthy realm

  6. Ritual self-scarification leaves their skin a knotted, roiling mass of lumps

  7. They smile, always, just a bit too widely

  8. Reek of formaldehyde and soil

  9. Brains uploaded into simple robotic bodies, leaving the prime self free for round-the-clock meditation

  10. Speak to each other in a babbling, fractured conlang


What are their fringe beliefs apart from basic hyperspace worship?

  1. It’s not enough just to go through hyperspace conscious, you’ve also got to be on psychedelics to get fully enlightened

  2. Attempts to impose human rule over outer space (ie interplanetary governments) are sinful

  3. Random civilians should be forcibly sent through hyperspace while conscious, to give them the gift of enlightenment

  4. An embodiment of pure evil that can only be fought and killed in hyperspace is going to destroy humanity unless we can destroy it first

  5. Hyperspace must be colonized

  6. Each time you jump through hyperspace you’re actually traveling to a branching parallel dimension with subtle differences; you can never return to the original

  7. The strange phenomena that occur during a failed jump are clues as to the true nature of the universe, and should be studied extensively

  8. The only way to go to heaven is to die ritualistically in hyperspace

  9. Hyperspace IS heaven

  10. Meditation is a perfectly fine replacement for a cryopod


What are their aesthetics like?

  1. Gothic cathedrals, stained glass

  2. Poured-concrete brutalism

  3. Geometric mosaic tiling and gold everywhere

  4. Spare and ascetic, translucent plastic and plain white walls

  5. Ultra-primitive; high-level technology cleverly concealed in rough-hewn hallways and handwoven tapestries

  6. Infinite mirrors (Yayoi Kusama-style) in every room

  7. Too hardscrabble to scrape together an aesthetic- just industrial grit

  8. Neoclassical; glowy crystals and Jack Kirby geometries proliferate

  9. Neo-midcentury modern Tomorrowland raygun gothic

  10. Art Nouveau revival, floral scrollwork on every surface, some of the ultra-organic looking mechanical stuff starts to look a bit less Alphonse Mucha and a bit more H.R. Giger


What problem will they hire spacers to solve?

  1. A ship recently docked to hand off some cargo that turned out to be a bloodthirsty alien organism- it escaped and it’s eating everybody

  2. The nonbelievers have unionized and they’ve got a list of demands a lightyear long

  3. The usual cargo supply ships are all arriving empty, with their entire crews slaughtered and the ships running on autopilot

  4. A hijacked prison transport ship docked here and the convicts escaped, blending in with the other nonbelievers and biding their time before their escape (after which they’ll be truly impossible to recapture)

  5. Cult members are being killed off and the only suspects are also cultists

  6. There’s a charismatic cultist attempting to start a splinter faction and engage the original cult in a holy war

  7. They need a ship outfitted with ultra-delicate sensors to make a dangerous hyperspace jump to settle a theological debate, and none of their ships are sturdy enough for the jump

  8. All communications from the place their jumpgate leads to have ceased, following a single message: “THE ANDROIDS WON, BE VERY AFRAID”

  9. Some cultists are trying to leave the group but they know valuable corporate secrets that could get everybody into big trouble if leaked

  10. Hyperspace has begun rejecting their ships- upon trying to jump, the jump drive just fizzles out


What’s the deal with the nonbelievers they employ?

  1. The entire jumpgate station is segregated into believer and nonbeliever spaces

  2. Plotting to overthrow the cult and seize control of the gate

  3. Prisoners working for no pay as an alternative to life on an deadly irradiated prison world 

  4. Persuasive cultists have turned them into believers too, now they want full cultists status and benefits

  5. All of them are androids… and they’re hiding the fact that they’re defective (or Cloudbank Infiltrators?)

  6. Involved with organized crime (arms dealing? sycorax smuggling? identity laundering?)

  7. Operate a popular interstellar casino on the jumpgate station

  8. Hardened Marines and mercenaries; they won’t explain why this specific jumpgate needs the extra security

  9. Apathetic and underpaid enough that the jumpgate frequently breaks down

  10. Totally cheerful, polite and hardworking; secretly infected by an alien hive mind planning a hostile takeover


What does their jumpgate lead to?

  1. Dense city-planet whose skyscrapers reach miles into the atmosphere

  2. Lunar headquarters of an illegal salvage operation servicing a nearby derelict graveyard

  3. Asteroid at the boundary of a black hole’s event horizon, used as a research site

  4. Overworked, over-exploited farming colony responsible for growing most of the fresh produce in the sector

  5. Maximum-security Interplanetary League prison

  6. Active planetary warzone

  7. Tropical lunar resort

  8. Barely-explored, resource-rich planet with insanely dangerous wildlife

  9. Military training basecamp surrounded by planetary mining facilities and geodome farms

  10. The Dead Planet- the jumpgate itself was sucked into its orbit and the cultists now worship the Gaunt


What else is on the jumpgate space station?

  1. Digital library of obsolete media contains knowledge long thought to be lost

  2. Top-secret Corporation laboratory that the cultists were blackmailed into defending

  3. Safe house for embattled members of a brutal organized crime syndicate. The password is a few lines quoted from “Kubla Khan”

  4. Magnificent aviary where real, live birds swoop and soar. Beautiful enough to bring a tear to the most grizzled spacer’s eye. The birds of prey feast on the bodies of the cult’s enemies

  5. Massive, completely-clear hull panels, overlooking the vast field of space

  6. Well-kept, often-used self-mortification chambers full of flagellants

  7. Bustling nonbeliever bazaar stalls in the central hub where all your contraband can be discreetly passed off to creepy buyers

  8. Makeshift shanty town housing refugees from a recent cataclysm

  9. Choral hall whose acoustics cleverly ensure that the atonal song of the Voidnuns can be heard everywhere in the space station

  10. Rickety space elevator to the celestial object below

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Andromeda Playtest pt 2

Second report on my Mothership module playtest. The crew:


@Volkovy, playing "Dog" Fairbanks, an ex-construction teamster.

@Burrbank playing Lana Zephyr, Marine. Top of their class but new to field work.

@Face_Fisted playing Dent, a vat-grown droid with strange eyes like Riddick. Sadly could not be present at this game so I played Dent as an NPC.

We start back up with Dog, Lana and Dent hiding out in Security, scanning nightmarish security footage of the Resort’s android staff hunting down strange blob-creatures. Lana notices that when the cam isn’t actually focused on a blob, though, they seem to look a lot more human-like, and in fact one of them in the resort lobby looks a lot like one of the gangsters they’re here to rescue. 

Heading out to go find their target, the crew carefully creep down a hallway out of the Staffing building. Along the way they notice a nearby commotion- an android, who looks more like an ordinary person than the other ones, attacking a group of android staff. Although they’re curious about what’s going on, they all decide to take advantage of the distraction to cover their escape. After leaving quietly, they decide to return to their ship and have the autopilot fly it to the Guest Landing pad to wait for them, since that’s closer to their target and they don’t want to backtrack.


They’ll have to cross the pool area to get into the lobby, and to even get there, they’ll have to reckon with a locked gate. Luckily, a trellis along the wall and palm trees providing cover allow the group to sneak in safely. The pool area has lots of suspicious bloodstains on the ground and weirdly bubbly pools- but there’s also a pool bar, to our heroes’ delight.


Dog peeks inside the little thatch-roof stall, sees some very fancy alcohol and exotic fruits, and jumps over the bar to start making himself a delicious drink. Unfortunately, when he leaps in, he lands right on top of a corpse (presumably that of the bartender) with its eyes torn out. Eeewwww. Not to be deterred, he mixes an extremely fancy piƱa colada.Downing it relieves some of the Stress he’s been racking up but also gets him a bit tipsier than he’d expected.


Lana decides to scavenge for materials with which to create molotov cocktails, but in doing so, knocks a bottle off the shelf- which smashes right on top of the corpse. Which groans, gets up, and begins clawing at Dog. Whoops.


After a brief scuffle in the cramped stall, Dog makes a plan. He and Lana run outside, Dent grabs a fancy fruit (gotta have some snacks for the road!), and before the shambling corpse can follow them, Dog fires a flare right into the bar. The alcohol ignites just as planned, engulfing the bar in flames. 


https://uncannyspheres.blogspot.com/

As the bar explodes, the flaming corpse comes stumbling out and lunges towards the crew… before flopping harmlessly onto the ground, burnt to a crisp. However, the explosion caught the attention of the security androids (which Lana confirms with a quick check of their HUD), so the crew figure they’d better hide for a bit until they can safely make it across the pool area and reach the main Resort lobby.


Looking around, they see a bandstand that could offer them some cover. They can hear low sobbing and the sound of jazz music from within, but lacking better options, they decide to make a break for it. Running at top speed, Dog slips and falls into one of the pools, finding it to be boiling hot, but luckily Lana hauls him out before he gets hurt too badly. The crew arrive at the bandstand just as androids begin to close in around them. Flipping through the security cameras, Lana realizes that the security androids see themself and Dog as weird blobby creatures as well (Dent just looks normal). 


Diving into the dark, shadowy bandshell, the crew discover the source of the music- an awful jumbled mass of limbs, faces, and musical instruments, playing some lovely bossa nova. It doesn’t seem to care that they’ve entered the bandshell, but the security androids give the place a wide berth, apparently unwilling to approach. Dog tosses his flashlight into the blob’s saxophone, making it look as though the crew are still moving around in there with the light, and the crew escape through the back.


An android lies face-down on the ground behind the bandshell, its memory cores apparently removed. The crew decide to ignore it and just get out of here, and they sneak into the lobby safely thanks to their effective decoy. 


Once there, they’re greeted by a grisly scene. With Lana guarding their hiding spot behind a spiral staircase, Dog climbs up to get a better vantage point. The place is swarming with more shambling, grotesque people, the target is nowhere to be found and the lobby looks like the scene of a fight, with sprays of blood along the walls leading to the Moonwalk Cocktail Bar (where the crew previously saw the corpses of a few of the Syndicate bosses).


Carefully making their way into the bar, the crew find the corpses they expected, but also a few more people. The bartender (who, upon closer examination, is definitely also a dead guy) is just standing behind the bar while an injured young man sits at the bar, drunkenly sobbing. Dog decides to sit down with the young man and see what his deal is. He decides to get another drink to avoid raising suspicion and orders the most touristy-looking drink available, a bright-green martini, but the bartender makes a gin fizz with blue curacao instead. It’s tasty and makes him feel at ease, which is good because Dog had been racking up the Stress lately.


Meanwhile, Lana scans the security cameras and manages to spot their target again. Now they’re fleeing down the hallway of the 2nd floor of the Resort’s rooms. Striking up a conversation with the young man, Dog realizes that he’s another Syndicate-affiliated target of theirs; however, the man refuses to come along with the crew, insistent that he’ll be killed once the Syndicate finds out what he’s done (the exact nature of his transgression is not apparent). Dog reassures him that they’ll bring him somewhere safe while making a ‘we’re getting paid’ gesture towards Lana behind his back. So with the young man in tow, the crew prepare to rescue their next target from horrors unknown….


Thursday, December 3, 2020

EarthBound meets GLOG

GLOG classes and a sketch of a ruleset for an adventure that’s strange, funny, and heartrending.

A few differences from normal GLOG, and random notes, for this as-of-yet unnamed hack:

  • PSI-using classes do not expand their spell lists upon levelling up. Instead, they learn new powers by adventuring in the world, visiting inspiring and beautiful locations, and learning new things from people. When a new psychic power, or PSI, is first acquired it is fairly weak but over time you can improve your spells, also through diegetic means. I might replace the standard stats with more thematic ones, but PSI will likely be cast with the WIS-equivalent stat.
  • The ‘spell slot’/PSI slot system will likely be similar to this one from Archon’s Court
  • Nobody in the party can die. However, if they would normally die, they instead break their leg or something like that and need to go rest in a hospital for a while, effectively removing them as a playable character for 2d6 months. Generally, defeated foes are knocked unconscious.
  • Armor, usually in the form of a bulletproof vest, is expensive and optional, and always confers a flat +4 defense.
  • The ‘rolling HP’ system will be incorporated somehow.
  • There will be a d100 table for effects of the Psychic Kid praying.
  • Characters start with d10 dollars.
  • A party can only have one character of each class. Kids are generally preteens except for the Tough Cookie who is teenage. An adventuring party cannot include adult humans, only kids, animals and weird creatures.
  • Strictly formal adventure goals (get the 8 melodies, pull 7 needles, beat this specific big bad guy, etc) but in a sandbox environment.

And now, some classes. 


Brave Kid


Start with a baseball cap, striped shirt, and 2 of these, rolled randomly: 1. baseball bat 2. yo-yo 3. doggy friend 4. walkie-talkies 5. RC car 6. cheap electric guitar 7. light-up sneakers 8. FM radio


When you have a meaningful experience, you may learn one new PSI, or advance a PSI you already have to its next rank.


1. +1 PSI slot, Nostalgic Spirit, Caring

2. +1 PSI slot, Adventurer

3. +1 PSI slot, Childhood Memories

4. +1 PSI slot, True Hero


Nostalgic Spirit- Your unique PSI, Spirit, draws on memories of your favorite thing. Cast a ray that hits everybody in front of you for 20 feet, for 1d6 base damage.


Caring- When an ally would take enough damage to remove them from the adventure, psychically shield them and take the damage yourself. 


Adventurer- For every meaningful experience you’ve had, Spirit’s damage increases by +1.


Childhood Memories- Spirit’s base damage increases to 1d10. In the presence of your favorite thing, you are immune to mental effects that involve fear and confusion.


True Hero- 1/day, deliver a speech to your companions to inspire them to keep on going! Everybody heals 1d4 damage, regains one PSI slot, and any skill they have with a ‘1/day’ cooldown is usable again.


Psychic Kid


Start with 2 of these: 1. neatly-folded Sunday-best clothes 2. handkerchief for nosebleeds 3. book of etiquette 4. toy katana 5. teddy bear (can soak up damage instead of you, destroyed at 10 damage) 6. religious amulet 7. little fancy soap 8. cute backpack (1 extra inventory slot)


When you have a meaningful experience, you may learn two new PSI, or advance your PSI to their next ranks.


1. +1 PSI slot, Natural Psychic, Divine Gift

2. +1 PSI slot, Power of Friendship

3. +1 PSI slot, Super Psychic

4. +1 PSI slot, Psychic Intuition


Natural Psychic- You know 3 random first-rank PSI from the list.


Divine Gift- You can Pray. If you are within 50 feet of danger, you know it immediately.


Power of Friendship- Telepathically send (but not receive) a message to any other kid or ally within a mile’s radius.


Super Psychic- Learn three new PSI from the list, or advance PSI to their next ranks.


Psychic Intuition- Pass a wisdom test and you can do one of the following:


Learn the general location (such as what town) of any one person or thing

Gain an insight as to the nature of a mysterious or otherworldly force

Determine the effect of one small action (ie ‘what would happen if I opened that door?’)


Tough Cookie


Start with 2 of these: 1. skateboard 2. grouchy pet iguana 3. learner’s permit 4. pack of cigarettes 5. treasured childhood memento 6. really cool sunglasses 7. fake ID to buy beer 8. razor comb


When you have a meaningful experience, you may learn one new PSI, or advance a PSI you already have to its next rank.


1. +1 PSI slot, Thunderstruck, Won’t Get Fooled Again

2. +1 PSI slot, We Will Rock You

3. +1 PSI slot, Leader of the Pack

4. +1 PSI slot, Seven Nation Army


Thunderstruck- Unarmed attack does 1d6 + STR mod damage.


Won’t Get Fooled Again- 1/day, negate a single PSI aimed at you.


We Will Rock You- When making a CHA test to intimidate somebody, subtract your STR mod from your roll.


Leader of the Pack- Your PSI negation can affect a PSI aimed at either an ally or yourself.


Seven Nation Army- When attacking somebody who is intimidated or afraid of you, all attacks are dealt as though you have rolled maximum damage.


Kid Genius


Start with 2 of these: 1. homework 2. stink bomb 3. water gun 4. thick glasses 5. laser pointer 6. fountain pen 7. inhaler 8. abacus


1. +1 Repair Die (d4), Study, Repair

2. +1 Repair Die (d4), Innovative

3. +1 Repair Die (d4), Right Tools for the Job

4. +1 Repair Die (d4), Quantum Mechanic


Study- As an action, learn somebody’s stats and a PSI weakness if they have one.


Repair- 1/day, fix a broken machine. Roll as many of your Repair Dice as you want, add, and consult the Repair Table. A die that rolls a 1 is instead treated as -1 against the total.


Innovative- In a skill test where your inventions aid you, subtract your INT mod.


Right Tools for the Job- After rolling Repair Dice, pay $10 x the number of dice you rolled to reroll a die. Pay again to reroll another die, as many times as you want. 


Quantum Mechanic- After rolling Repair Dice, pay $20 x the number of dice you rolled to change a die to any number. Pay the fee again to change multiple dice.


-4

Hostile Robot



-3

Explosion (3d6 dmg)

7

Shield Piercer

-2

Explosion (2d6 dmg)

8

Counter-PSI Unit

-1

Explosion (1d6 dmg)

9

Crushing Pincer

0

Nothing at all

10

Laser Beam

1

Sticky Armor

11

Gaia Gun

2

Stinkbomb Launcher

12

INT Booster

3

Zap Beam

13

Mecha-Armor

4

Slime Generator

14

Big Bad Laser

5

Forgery Engine

15

Robot

6

Bottle Rocket

16

Death Ray


A few more classes I plan to write include a Cub Scout, a Sneak, a Robot and a Young Alien.


Sunday, November 29, 2020

Crewmember Retirement and Roguelike Progression in Mothership

When the crew is in port, a player may decide to retire their current crewmember and start over at level 0. Here’s the rules:
  • It has to be a friendly port. If everybody hates you, you can’t retire there.
  • A retired crewmember is no longer playable, and instead becomes an NPC. Their money and Stress will affect the kind of life they lead as an NPC.
  • Retirement does not necessarily mean ‘doing nothing for the rest of your life’, but instead adopting a safer, less risky lifestyle. For instance, a retired crewmember may settle down with a menial job and start a family.
  • If the Warden brings back a retired crewmember you used to control as an NPC, you may discuss their role with the Warden to ensure they are acting in-character.
  • If circumstances affecting a crewmember’s quality of life are not dealt with, they may cause a drastically less peaceful retirement. A crewmember being actively hunted down by foes would do well to deal with those foes before retiring, for example.
  • A retired crewmember can come out of retirement at any time but they’ll be reset to level zero- they’ve gotten rusty.
A crewmember’s total amount of money upon retiring affects their lifestyle. If they have any outstanding debts, subtract them from their funds. If the crew holds their funds communally, a retiring crewmember must negotiate their percentage with the rest of the crew (or steal the money). Relevant storyline factors (very wealthy benefactors willing to help out, etc) can be included in the total money calculation at the Warden’s discretion.
  • Negative 25+ mcr: Utterly wretched poverty, debtor’s prison, or even worse.
  • Negative 10-24mcr: Poverty, or worse if the entity to whom they owe their debt is vindictive.
  • 0 to negative 10mcr: Poor, but able to eke out an existence.
  • 1cr to 999kcr: A comfortable life, if not a luxurious one.
  • 1mcr to 499mcr: A comfortable life, able to afford an occasional extravagance.
  • 500-999mcr: Able to afford a decadent lifestyle and finance large-scale personal projects of their choosing.
  • Over 1000mcr: Filthy rich, enough to be considered a major, setting-wide power.
This being Mothership, it’s far easier to fall into poverty than to get rich.

A crewmember’s Stress upon retiring affects their overall state of mind during their retirement. It's totally fine to reduce Stress right before retiring, but large-scale Stress reduction can be expensive.
  • 0: Optimistic and at peace with their lot in life. Things generally tend to work out well for them.
  • 1-5: Well-adjusted and able to put the horrors they’ve faced behind them.
  • 6-10: A bit jumpy, tends to be distrustful, but not so bad that it gets in the way of day-to-day life.
  • 11-15: On the bad days, they can’t stop thinking of the things they’ve seen. On good days, they can put it out of their mind.
  • 16-20: Haunted by the past. Never quite at ease. Probably keeps has a weapon close at hand at all times.
  • Over 20: Completely traumatized. Difficulty reintegrating into civilian life. Constant nightmares, intense paranoia.
After retiring a crewmember, a player may take ONE of these boons when creating their new crewmember (some may require the player to have an in-story explanation):
  • One unique piece of gear from the retired crewmember.
  • One skill of any level that the retired crewmember had.
  • One-quarter of the amount of funds the retired crewmember ended up with (this takes those funds away from the retired crewmember).
  • One stat that the retired crewmember had, or reroll any one stat during character creation.
If the retired crewmember had negative funds or over 20 stress, the new crewmember doesn’t get a boon. If the retired crewmember had over 500mcr AND zero stress, the new crewmember may choose two boons.

EDIT:

I’ve decided to rework how the boons are assigned. Here are a few principles I’m keeping in mind while doing it:


  1. The boons should reward a skilled player for retiring a character.
  2. The boons should take into account a character’s funds, stress, and level upon retirement.
  3. The system for assigning boons needs to be simple because actually retiring a character is rare- most die instead. A game system players rarely interact with should be lightweight.
  4. You should roll a die at some point during the retirement process because rolling dice is fun.


So here’s what I’ve come up with:


Roll Xd10, where X is the retiring character’s level, and compare it to the Retirement table. Yes, this means that retiring a level-0 character is pointless. If the character’s total money is negative or their Stress is over 20, roll [-]. If their total money is over 500 mcr or their Stress is 0, roll [+].



1-5

No boons.

6-20

New character gets to choose between getting 1/8 of the retiring character’s funds, one piece of their gear, or one of their Trained skills.

21-45

Choose between getting ¼ of the retiring character’s funds, two pieces of their gear, or any one of their skills.

46-60

Choose two: getting ¼ of the retiring character’s funds, two pieces of their gear, or any one of their skills.




Jumpgate Hyperspace Cults

Jumpgate Hyperspace Cults, who you can read about here and here , are religious groups who worship hyperspace, and their highest-ranking m...