21 October 2009

Venturer: Thoughts

Science Fantasy, Post Cataclysmic, Pulp Planetary Romance, in the Far Future!!

What the hell does that mean? Let me tell you dear reader (yes you, I see you over there).

Science Fantasy: This one's easy, two great tastes, together at last. The fallen Imperium of Man once ruled 30+ stars alone and serene in the vastness of space (science). As the Empire slowly ossified and sunk into degenerate hedonism, cults began to spring up that worshiped the ancient things beyond space and time (fantasy). Taking advantage, the wild men at the fringes of the Imperium; barbarians, pirates, raiders, fanatics, and outlaws began to run wild in an orgy of rape, pilliage, and destruction (science). One cult rises up to convert the wild men and lead them across the breadth of the Imperium smashing and burning worlds to feed their dark gods, culminating in the Sack of Terra (fantasy). With the Western Imperator dead (strangled in bed), Terra fallen, and the wild men settling down to enjoy the fruits of their conquests, Terra Nova in the East is the last bastion of Imperial technical civilization (science). Just when the traumatized human sphere thinks the worst is over, the stars come right again and the ancient things from beyond space and time, the vile Xothians rise up out of the depths of the wells of chaos and emerge from the ebony spherical event horizons that have opened up all across the worlds of men (fantasy).

Post Cataclysm: Well I think this speaks for itself, post apocalyptic just doesn't mean what people think it means, and has the wrong connotation to boot. Despite the fact that 'apocalypse' just means 'change' to most readers the connotation is one of finality. A cataclysm on the other hand, is in fact a major catastrophe, but it is not the end. One story ends and another begins. Most of the invading wild men were just looking for habitable worlds to settle on, and they intermarry with the surviving Imperials to found a new culture. One that looks back to the very Imperium that the invaders help to bring down as a lost golden age. In fact the new Western kingdoms that spring up adopt the Church of the Spirit of Man of the Earth, like their ex-imperial neighbors and in contrast to the popularity of the Spirit of Man of the Stars in the areas dominated by Terra Nova to the East.

Pulp Planetary Romance: Well, each habitable planet will have a unifying theme that will guide me in creating the textures of background and setting. For example, Venturer Mars will be based on Dark Ages Britain, while North America takes on traits of Gaul, Italy, and Spain, with Eurasia representing North Africa and Germania. The Asteroid belt and the moons of Saturn will be home to space vikings and so on. The characters will be larger than life, heroic or vile. This is not a setting for second guessing or navel gazing, but direct action!

07 October 2009

Venturer: Careers, one more time

Ok got it. If we rearrange the Freeman career slightly;

Freeman: Not many of the few skilled free-guild members will leave the relative safety of their walled towns, underground vaults, and guarded cantonments, but some skills are rare and in high demand in the scattered small villages and settlements on the edges of the Yankish Kingdoms.
  • Tech Rigger: This skilled technician can create and repair electronic and robotic devices, even remotely control drones and automatons.
  • Mechanic: Generators, engines, windmills, tools to make tools... someone has to keep civilization going...
  • Merchant: Merchants can make real money bringing resources to the cities and finished goods to the fringes.
Then we add two more career trees: the Entertainer and the Adept.

Entertainer: Man does not live on bread alone, he needs stories to feed his soul and frame his life. The road is dangerous, but you never know what you will find. Will ye Venture out with me?
  • Bard: Musician, poet, minstrel, troubadour, six-string samurai; your songs can move the masses
  • Harlequin: Jester, juggler, tumbler, mime, actor, masked man; your antics can bring laughs and tears, also few can control their bodies like you can
  • Gladiator: Man must learn face his end, and you show how by facing death to give example. Few can best you one on one.
Adept: There a few educated men left, and fewer still go out into the world a Venturing. Those few have valued places in any party.
  • Field Researcher: Archeologist, biologist, planetologist, a thousand others; you have a theory and need data to back it up.
  • Churigeon: Medics and healers are all well and good, but sometimes you need a real student of the human body. Sure would be nice if he would stop studying you long enough to actually fix you though.
  • Mad Spark: They said it couldn't be done, that it shouldn't be done. You'll show 'em, you'll show 'em all!!

Venturer: Careers II

more paths to 'Venture:

Psion: These mentalists use their talents to peer into other's thoughts, or to form darts of their will
  • Wyld Psyker: Cast out into the wilderness for his wytchery, the Wyld Psyker has little training but raw power and a connection to the natural world
  • Mentalist: Trained by an order or guild of mind-masters, the Mentalist has a breadth of skill and fine control of his abilities.
  • Psyber Knight: A psionic warrior-mystic, the Psyber Knights are respected and feared.

Rogue: Members of Societies seedy underbelly, the Rogue has many abilities that may be useful to a Venturing party.
  • Thief: Any thug can kill people and take their stuff, it takes skill to just take without the killing.
  • Assassin: Stand up fights are so declasse; the only fair fight is the one you loose.
  • Intruder: Information is the real prize; knowledge is power and you can't stop the signal. No information system is safe from electronic intrusion.

Scout: Scouts specialize in seeing and not being seen, they are the eyes and ears of any group travelling the wastes and ruins.
  • Ranger: Mountain man, monster hunter, bandit slayer, forester, wilderness guide.
  • Outrider: Mounted scout whether the mount is living or machine.
  • Scavenger: The 'Scav' specializes in recovering artifacts of the ancients from the ruins and selling them. Some ability to jury rig and repair, all serious Venture groups should have one.

Sky People: The lords of blue and black, orbital angels, the Sky People are the lifeline of a fallen world to the wider system. Smugglers, raiders, smugglers and even honest merchants. The Vikings of space, they are loved and loathed.
  • Pilot: The dashing flyboy, aerial acrobat, the Pilot's Guild is ancient and venerable.
  • Able Hand: The Able Hand forms the body of any Sky Ship crew.
  • Specialist: No proper ship could get by without its Mission Specialists; from Sawbones to Scotsmen to Stewards, these are the department heads that Captains rely on.

Ok, that's what I've mapped out so far. What am I missing? Agents? Not a whole lot of ideas there. I know I want a drone specialist sub career, but I don't know where to put it. Maybe an Adepts branch with more educated classes? I need somewhere for fixers/bag men...

06 October 2009

Venturer: Careers

Ok let's talk careers. The initial setting will be somewhat zoomed in on the Central States of Coventry (CSC) and the Yankish people, but most of its assumptions will be true for not just the ruins of Mundopolis Terra, but the solar system as well.

Instead of enlisting in imperial services or entering galactic careers, characters in Venturer will be testing to apprentice themselves into various guilds. If accepted they will gain some initial training and an opportunity to continue. Each 4 year indenture will give a character a chance to gain skills and to advance within the profession, or to crash and burn out miserably. The Nomad career will always be open, and some service will take levees, but you may only be levied once. Upon leving the service of their master, succesful characters will have the opertunity to gain starting funds (his master investing in his student) or trappings of his profession (starting gear).

I'm still mapping out some of the sub-careers (professions) but here's what I have so far:

Armsmen: Armsmen make their living with the strength of their arms, they are natural Venturers.
  • Land Warrior: The most fundamental Armsman, the Land Warrior is skilled in hand weapons and military armor
  • Dragoon: The Dragoon is a vehicle based soldier he is a driver, loader, gunner, commander, mechanic, or other crewman. Also capable of fighting on foot in a pinch.
  • Immunes: The Immunes are skilled warriors who support their comrades in the fight and off the battlefield. Medics, technicians, artilleritsts, they are immune from most camp chores because of their rare skills.
Augmentees: These armored and enhanced warriors seek the toughest challenges, with great risks come great rewards.
  • Power Troopers: Those who seek to master the almost lost art of battledress and power-suited combat. These powerful and valuable suits attract hostile attention on and off the battlefield.
  • Excelsiors: These few crazed individuals seek to eek out impossible performance from their bodies with combat drugs, aftermarket parts, and metabolic tuning.
  • Cyborgs: Where does the man end and the machine begin?
Divines: These holy men and women seek to bring the light and law of the spirit and gods of true men to the downtrodden masses in these dark times. Sometimes evil must be confronted directly
  • Cleric: These ordained priests are forbidden from rending flesh or spilling blood. The good book is a mite fuzzier on the subject of neural maces or knee caps. Also respected healers of flesh and spirit.
  • Monastic: Battle Monks and Warrior Nuns, these lay ascetics have left the walls of the monestary or convent to bring the word to those who will hear and sword to those who will not.
  • Paladin: Former Armsmen and Noble warriors who have heard the call and enlisted as a Knight Brother in an order-militant.
Freemen: Not many of the lucky few skilled freemen will leave their walled enclaves, vaults, and cantonments for Ventures in the Wyld.
  • Bards: Singers, story tellers, poets, troubadours, these wandering performers are one of the few sources of entertainment on the road, or off it.
  • Tinker: Skilled crafters; a brave maker of fine things can make good money on the road
  • Technician: Those skilled in the decaying technology of the ancients, the ruins still hold untold riches for recovery, if one is bold enough.

Mystics: Mystics use the power of their wills and their knowledge of hyperdimensional metaphysics to shape reality more to their suiting. Most honest people avoid mystics like the plague they are.
  • Wizard: The Wizard, or Arcane Caster focuses on the formulaic side of magyckal theory; by holding strange alien and barbarous formulae of power in their minds they can rewrite the code of reality.
  • Sorcerer: These magyckal casters focus on the wyld act of will to tap into sources of power beyond mortal ken.
  • TechnoMage: These scientist-wizards seek to unify human reason with alien blasphemies. The search to unify law and chaos continues.
Noble: These grandees have great resources and credit available to them, but also attract attention to themselves without trying.
  • Knight: A noble warrior, noble in station if not motive
  • Lord: A holder of a title of some import or wealth
  • Dilettante: An idly rich noble with many interests.
Nomad: Societies outcasts, this option always remains open to those who would walk alone.
  • Barbarian: A rough hewn wanderer of mighty thews.
  • Road Warrior: A wheeled drifter on the crumbling byways
  • Vagabond: A little of this and a little of that in the big rock candy mountains.

Next time: Psions, Rogues, Scouts, and Sky Raiders

Venturer: Post Cataclysm Science Fantasy Traveller

As much as I love Basic Roleplaying (both for Elfquest, my intro to the hobby, and Call of Cthulhu, the BRP masterwork), I have been continually sidelining my BRP projects in favor Mongoose Publishing's new Traveller ruleset since I first aquired it, doubly so since I started running a Traveller campaign.

The new MGT rules approach the conceptual simplicity of the little black books, but with a unified system that doesn't require a separate sub system for every skill. It also blows away most versions after the LBBs due to comparatively tight editing and the aforementioned simplicity. Contrary to the closely held shibboleths of greybeard Traveller Grognards(tm), the great weight of Third Imperium Cannon was strangling Traveller, not defining it.

The MGT rules return us to a sense of wonder and wide open setting material with only a few essential assumptions penciled in, rather like early D&D and the neo-classical retro-clone movement. Even better, the new ruleset was released under an Open Gaming License, indeed, The OGL. which means that all those that want to develope for traveller, or even games inspired by Traveller are free to do so. Awesome! I truly believe that MGT has within it the potential to become the D20/D&D of SF roleplay, the baseline that it was always meant to be.

What does this mean for me? Well the 'Nemesis Gates' material I was working on for Chaosum's new BRP release will find a new home under Mongoose's Traveller, and I may just be able to sell it. Now that's something I wasn't expecting. This all became clear to me when I realized that in the MGT campaign I was running (it is on hiatus now) WAS the background story for the Nemesis Gate campaign. With the redirection of focus I need a new working title/codename, so now I am working on Venturer: Post Cataclysmic Releplaying, in a Science Fantasy vein.

So things in MGT that are awesome and must be included:

-careers and lifepath chargen.
-dynamic initiative
-stats as hitpoints
-quality of success adding to damage!!
-skill system encourages teamwork to solve problems
-connections between characters and party campaign skill packages
-social and education stats

Stuff that isn't in MGT that must be added:

-critical damage a-la WHFRP (love those bloody charts) 'head flies off 2d6' in a random direction'
-character advancement beyond trading down-time for skills
-coolness under fire or 'bottle'
-situational awareness
-suppressive fire as area of effect attack not get driven back involuntarily
-mutations, corruption, and Lovecraftian stuff
-'gold' as experience (which ties into #2 above)

Watch this space, this is going to get interesting.