Archive for the ‘Other Systems’ Category

Deck of Many Genres

July 2, 2014

Mandatory Legal Disclaimer: side effects of bringing the magic item in this post into a game with a group that takes their games too seriously or that aren’t already expecting some serious weirdness may include rage quitting by players, blank stares, loose teeth, lost friendships or, in extreme cases, critical existence failure.

Recently while at my desk, an idea occurred to me for a magic item that might inspire far more dread in the hearts of players than even the infamous Deck of Many Things… as the title suggests, this is none other than The Deck of Many Genres. This is a magic item that is best reserved to particularly open-minded, experimental or creative play groups and GMs, and would clearly be much easier to use in a game like FATE, Wushu, Capes or Savage Worlds that can be retooled to new genres on the fly without hours of number-crunching misery. Alternately, a wily or enterprising GM might have stats generated for existing characters from your D20 or whatever game in FATE, Capes or something similarly fast and fluid that can be taken to hare off into crazy land with this thing as a side jaunt. (more…)


Another Look at The Fiend

August 7, 2012

Some while back I stumbled over Hero Machine, but I didn’t really take the time to do more than glance at it very briefly until last night, when I decided to try and put it through its paces and see if it was up to creating images of a rather challenging character: my own Brigitte Adelinde von Teufel, better known as The Fiend.

For those of you that might be new readers, Fraulein von Teufel is a gestalt being, created by thoroughly merging the mortal woman whose name this creature still bears with a demoness (specifically a Fury, a bringer of punishment and retribution), as a result of a botched summoning where the Nazi Occultist (Sigismund von Asch, the human Brigitte’s mentor) tried to sacrifice her to summon the Fury in question through her mortal shell. Neither the woman nor the demon exists anymore, in their place is a hybrid partaking of the abilities, knowledge and identity of both at once. She hasn’t aged a day since that event in 1938. As a character, one could think of her as being somewhere between Elsa Schneider, Illyana Rasputin and John Constantine. But enough jibber-jabber. Here are the results of my fevered experimentation. As always, click the images if you want to get a look at larger versions of these images.

Modern era Fiend

Here’s Brigitte in the modern days. She doesn’t look half bad for a centenarian!


Favorites, 40K Edition

January 3, 2012

In the GrimDarkness of the far future, there is only war, or so we are told. The Warhammer 40,000 universe is populated with a considerable array of different options for players, and probably half of those options consist of different paint jobs for these guys:

At least that's what Games Workshop wants you to think of them.

At least that's what Games Workshop wants you to think of them.

As nifty as the Marines are, I consider them overhyped, oversaturated and frankly much less interesting than one specific other faction. Let’s think about the various factions that exist in WH40K and see a little bit of why. (more…)

Two Character Concepts

May 6, 2011

This post consists of two character concepts that I’ve been kicking around in my head for quite some time. They’re both fantasy concepts, for no particular game system. Either would work very well in a Capes or FATE variant (but then, what doesn’t?). Both of these are extremely… er… swordy girls but are quite different from one another beyond that detail. (more…)

Legend of the Archons Game Open

September 8, 2010

Legend of the Archons

Legend of the Archons is a game of intrigue, high adventure, discovery and sorcery set in the fantastic continent of Occida, which is currently in the throes of major social, technological, political and religious upheaval. You and I would recognize a great many similarities between Occida and our own world’s Europe during the tumultuous Renaissance, though here technology and magic can at times be interchangeable, bringing wonders of clockwork and brass to a semblance of life. The great Council of Archons, nine paragons of the Thrice-Three Principles that once functioned as the lynchpin of religious life as well as the ultimate authority to which even kings, emperors and potentates had to pay heed, has been vacant for a generation of men, having been destroyed by unknown forces. For the first time in many an age, the Colossi of Occida stand silent, without champions chosen to stand in their behalf as living bridge between Heavens and Earth.

Without the Archons’ guidance (some would say manipulation), even the Great Church, the keeper of the Sentieric faith, has not weathered this period of change intact, and it has become embroiled in wars and dissensions of its own as the Great Sunedrion asserts authority in the face of the dissenting Restorationists and Reformers that claim the Church itself has become corrupted and its leaders have stepped beyond their bounds. These dissensions and an elaborate network of long-simmering political disputes erupted in the continent-wide dynastic conflicts now known as the Successor Wars that have finally toppled the ancient and seemingly invulnerable Heiligen Empire to collapse into a seemingly numberless succession of bickering statelets and kingdoms great and small. Man has claimed the world for his own, though the spiritual Alanir and the collectivist Durgans have refused to go quietly into oblivion and stand both beside and against the masters of this age. Beyond the walls of civilization the fey, feral Fomori rage against their oppressors with the assistance of the otherworldy powers of the Autumn Court.  Meanwhile, in the darkest of the wild places and the most cancerous bowels of human society lurk the Lost, seeking to drag the world down with them.

Into a world reeling from the aftermath of the Successor Wars and poised on the verge of either disaster or glory have come heroes, Legends marked by Fate for a future both great and terrible, and in whose wake nothing shall go unchanged. Many of these Legends wield the awesome and mysterious power to directly rework the weave of Fate itself through one of the Thrice-Three Principles that the Archons themselves once mastered: unruly Forces, subtle Mind, rational Substance, vigorous Life, solemn Death, evanescent Horizons, harmonious Concord, rebellious Opposition and esoteric Vision.

Archons Principles Enneagram

(Above, the glyphs of the Thrice-Three Principles connected to one another by the enneagram that was the emblem of the Council of Archons. At apex: Vision. Clockwise from apex: Horizons, Forces, Opposition, Death, Substance, Concord,  Life and Mind)

Legends with access to a Principle pair their magical skill with one or more Words related to their guiding Principle, representing a different sort of magic with which the character is proficient. Using this particular magical skill, the character may invoke effects (cast spells) based around that word, which may be interpreted both literally and metaphorically. For example, if a character (whose Principle is Concord) has the skill “Magic: Distance,” he could cast spells that interact with the physical distances between objects, or the social distance between persons or opinions and so on. Magic is not necessarily only a matter for cloistered priests and learned sages, for a craftsman, a hunter or even a soldier might unknowingly weave Fate through one of the Principles to achieve his ends. Flashes of insight, mysteriously potent persuasive power and phenomenal luck are manifestations of the power of the Thrice-Three every bit as valid and potent as a fire summoned from nothingness.

This game is played using the 3rd edition of FATE, an open source gaming system designed to foster deep connections between the characters making up the player group and between the characters themselves and the ongoing narrative. Where some game systems claim not to get in the way of the ongoing story’s progress, FATE actively facilitates player participation in and influence over the narrative itself. The passions, weaknesses, friends and enemies of Legends are writ large on the world about them, and their very presence alters the course of events and binds them to one another.

To what end has the pilgrim Aquila gathered a small group of renowned Legends together in times such as these? Why did the Council of Archons perish, and what did their late leader Mordamund know about their impending Fate? Why is King Gustavus of Zachsen touring the volatile lands of the Dachs? What will befall when the disparate forces of the Church, the armies of Men, the barbaric hosts of the fomori and the intrepid Legends converge upon the ravaged County of Nordmark? Not only find out, but shape the weave itself by joining the ongoing Legend of the Archons at Newlegends!

If you’re interested, you may contact me at or via the Newlegends boards. Also, see the Legend of the Archons wiki!

The Shroud, Redux Again

November 28, 2009

Once more I have decided to revise my old chibi of a super character I’ll most assuredly never get to play or get round to writing anything for: The Shroud.

For the earlier versions, see here. Why do I make these? Dunno.

Diaspora Space Combat Chapter

September 25, 2009

Allrighty, I haven’t added as much content to this recently as I’d have liked, but that’s msotly because my other projects are humming along pretty quickly and distracting me.

However, it has come to my attention that the fellows behind Diaspora (hard scifi FATE system) have made their space combat rules available for free download at their website.

If you’re interested in FATE, check out this variant. It’s pretty interesting. I’m more of a fantasy/steampunk guy right now myself, but this is still cool stuff.

Hillbillies From Hell!

August 29, 2009

I’ve meant to post this idea for a very, very long time.

Back when I was still running games using the old World of Darkness and its Storyteller system, I had an idea for a series of pickup scenarios to run a very blackly humorous game.

This idea came from creatures that I found in the sick and satirical yet awesome supplement Freak Legion: a Player’s Guide to Fomori and the far superior and more serious later supplement Possessed, which detailed not only Fomori but Gorgons, Drones and Kami (creatures possessed by wyrm spirits, wyld-spirits, weaver-spirits and Gaian forces respectively). While I use the term fomor in my blog a lot, this is a very different concept than the one found in my Legend of the Archons game.

The creatures that I found that inspired me so? Why, the Fomor Families of course. What are they? I’m glad that you asked. They’re a distinctive form of Fomor that operates in groups that are notable partially because their taint is passed down family lines and also because the Bane spirits that possess them are elemental in nature rather than emotion-oriented banes like those that create most Fomori. They flourish in backwoods areas like the everglades, Louisiana bayous, deep in Appalachia and similar places (tiny New England towns work too, hint hint). They’re actually one of the more dangerous types of fomor too, not because of individual power but because they cooperate with one another and they don’t tend to stray far from territory with which they are intimately familiar. Also, they’re frequently Kinfolk to the Black Spiral Dancers.

So what have we got here? We’ve got degraded and inbred mutant hillbillies, more or less. It’s The Hills Have Eyes, the hillfolk family from the Simpsons and the guys from Deliverance all at once but they’ve got grotesque spiritually-based powers on top of their misanthropy and ignorance. These guys are literally the Hillbillies From Hell!

And that is where I got the name for this potential series of one-shots. I figured that I’d do a series of them but put them in no particular order and without any real attempt at continuity. They’re stand-alone scenarios using the same characters, more or less.

Instead of having the titular Hillbillies From Hell(!) as antagonists, we’d more them front and center to being a dysfunctional, despicable and blackly comedic protagonist group. Picture something like a film directed by the team of Rob Zombie, Quentin Tarantino and Terry Gilliam. PCs would have to include some or all of the following:

  • Pa, the patriarch of this here band of hellbillies. I reckon that he’s a laconic sort that, when he speaks at all he has the final word. May be up on some supernatural lore also, a la Old Man Whately from The Dunwich Horror.
  • Ma, the dreaded and terrifying harridan that keeps everybody else in line.
  • Two or more big, brawny idiots of sons/cousins/whatever, in varying degrees of size and cunning.
  • The obligatory Hot Hillbilly Girl.
  • Optional: The Wilbur Whately. See The Dunwich Horror for more on this guy. Utterly creepy, only marginally passable for human and surprisingly erudite in supernatural matters and dark lore despite his lack of a formal education.
  • Optional: a little weaselly snitch of a younger family member.
  • Optional: the chilluns/young’uns.
  • Optional: If somebody’s feeling frisky, they could play the alpha of the family’s rampaging pack of hound dogs. It’s not like most of the family is any smarter than the old hound dog anyhow…

I am just doing this to toss ideas out there and to help myself remember this. I’ll probably never run it, but I’d love to at some point. Maybe somebody cut put it together for a convention game.

Below are the titles of some of the possible scenarios I came up with to run the Hillbillies From Hell(!) through:

  • Hillbillies From Hell Save The World! – A flyin’ saucer or two touch down on the Hillbillies’ land intent on establishing a beachhead for a planetary invasion out someplace where nobody will care about. It’s up to the Hillbillies From Hell to save the world from these gribbly alien scum a la Redneck Rampage. “Pa, ah see a bright light out there inna yard – it’s prob’ly them gubmint. Git th’ squirrel gun!”
  • Beverly Hillbillies from Hell! – Paw’s out shootin’ at some food and while he’s out there he finds something that makes the family rich beyond the dreams of avarice (maybe impressive movie-grade uranium deposits or something equally entertaining) and so they move out to some posh locale while still making sure to keep an eye on the pestilent little hole they came from. Demonic hillbillies mixing with the elites and noveaux-riche. Hilarity ensues.
  • Hillbillies From Hell Family Feud! The Hills Rise Wild meets Romeo and Juliet or the Hatfields and McCoys, anyone? Why are they feuding? Is it over some mystic artifact, or because of soembody’s sister/cousin being literally given the eye by somebody from the wrong family, or is this simply a feud that has been going on since before anybody now living can remember?
  • Hillbillies From Hell Hit the Road! Traveling cross country to see Wally World… with the Hillbillies From Hell. Cue disaster.
  • Hillbillies From Hell Go To School! Social Services has cottoned on to the poor treatment and zero education of the family’s chilluns, and has decided to step in. If’n the family doesn’t want to lose the young’uns, they’re going to have to send them to school. To be fair, Pa’s probably going to have to send the older ones too. Hilarity ensues. Alternately, the game could focus on the kids having been actually taken away from Ma and Pa and placed in foster care… how long can the state cope with having these hellions as its wards? Can we actually root for Ma and Pa to find a way to get their young’uns back?
  • Hillbillies From Hell Against The Law! You know these guys are involved in moonshining and probably growing certain other interesting substances, and it’s very likely that some corrupt official wants their land and possibly something else of theirs, so he has turned his equally corrupt official minions to finding a way to cart the lot of them off and justify a land grab. maybe the corrupt commissioner is a Toad Fomor in a white suit and taking kickbacks from Pentex to pave the way for the company to claim the “old mine” that’s in the family’s territory. Cue car chases, colorful metaphors, confederate flags and of course the jiggling of our own resident hillbilly hottie. Them Dukes!
  • Hillbllies From Hell Stick it to the Man! This is one where for some reason or another, some slick big city developer has decided he needs to develop the family’s land. Maybe he’s decided it’s a good place for a resort, or a power plant, or perhaps he’s a civil engineer that wants to put a freeway through. Whatever. Anyhow, what’s important is that he’s decided that the hellbillies have to go, and the snake’s not only got a bunch of lawyers and cronies but he’s also put the ATF or some similar federal agency on to the family’s questionable practices. Stick it to The Man!
  • Hillbillies From Hell at the County Fair! Can Ma keep her prize giant punkin from eating the judges before it can win the blue ribbon? Can Cletus find a way to woo both the prize hog and its pretty owner? Can Pa make it through the day without shooting anybody? And what ever happened to them young’uns?
  • Hillbillies From Hell Go To Town! – The family has to go in to town for one reason or another (to get parts for their broke down old tractor maybe? For the Farmer’s Market maybe?) and hilarity ensues.
  • Hillbillies From Hell and the Great Bank Robbery! Pa takes the family with him to go to the bank and get his subsidy/welfare/whatever check dealt with, and some poor bastard of a bank robber decides it’s a good time to start a high stakes bank heist! Before Pa can get his money! And he took Lula Belle hostage! This is going to get very ugly, very fast. Heck, we could make it a high rise and go Hellbilly Die Hard.

Since dreaming up this concept, I have reviewed it and thought that it could run very well in a number of other game systems. Apart from the assorted universal systems, a game like this would work really easily and entertainingly in Capes or FATE/Spirit of the Century, and would also make for a hysterically awesome game of octaNe.

Steamhammer: a Taste of Things to Come

August 23, 2009

So, I have decided that my poll has gone on long enough, and the results are ones that I can work with. At a commanding plurality of 44%, the winner is Steamhammer. I really liked Warhammer: Age of Steam and Rune Engine also, but I’ll go with the results of the poll on this one. I do think that is a good title and I’ll run with it.

Also, I’ll give a little tidbit of one of the ideas that is going in to this game as well. Note that any wiki links below are to items and persons that as they were in 2519 IC, not as they now exist some 500 years or so later.

One of the distinctive features of this setting is that, not only is it in an industrial revolution/age of steam type tech level, but also that certain enterprising factions have also begun fairly serious explorations of the possible integration of magic and technology, leading to some steam-powered wonders of rune and steel known to modern science as Rune Engines. The first pioneers into this area of knowledge were of course the verminous Skaven with the insane warlock-engineering of Clan Skryre, and the Skaven remain on the bleeding (and extremely explosive) edge of this technological wave.

However, outside of Skavendom, the field of magically-empowered technology owes much of its current state to experiments and concepts pioneered in the New World rather than in the old. Cultural factors such as the influence of elvish views on magic and an eagerness to recruit engineers that were willing to innovate beyond the bounds and restrictions of the dwarven engineer’s guild in the Old World combined to create an atmosphere that was more receptive to this sort of endeavor. Indeed the civilized nations of the Old World have been slow to adopt or pursue this area of knowledge and remain far behind due mostly to their distrust of magic at large.

The greatest of the early innovators in this area were the Get of Oroboros, the magical society operating out of Schloβ Drache as part of the Dragon Brethren. Their leader, the immensely powerful Liche Cedric Enric, along with his closest collaborators Derelek Caravan the dwarven alchemist/engineer and the intuitively gifted Rahann Magritte Gunderit, pioneered most of the early work in this field and much of what stands today is based on their body of innovation.

One particular area into which very few other than Enric have been willing to delve is a sub-type of rune engine that has immense yet eerie and ethically worrisome promise. This is arguably Cedric’s greatest invention: the Wraith Engine. Using mysterious necromantic arts both of his own devising and derived from ancient nehekaran texts, the master Liche has learned how to bind the spirits of the restless dead into arcane machineries to provide them with motive force and even the ability to operate with a guiding albeit often malevolent intelligence.

Since the fall of the original Schloβ Drache into the harbor at Kalterhafen, Cedric has turned the partially-submerged fortress into his own personal workshop and field for experimentation. Few mortal beings are permitted (or would desire) to enter now, and no living men patrol its crooked battlements though their position commands a highly strategic point for defense against any naval assault on this critical port city. Mortal defenders are unnecessary, for Enric has filled the place with spirits, undead beings and wraith engines in the form of both automata and artillery.

Around the ancient fortress, sunken ships litter the bottom of the harbor. These ships have been visited, partially repaired and imbued with wraith engines of their own by Enric and his minions. He has several times deliberately scuttled captured enemy vessels to add to this number. Should any hostile fleet dare to sail on Kalterhafen, they would have to contend not only with the mortal navy stationed there and the formidable gunnery of Cedric’s tower, but also would have to contend with a flotilla of ghost ships rising up from the deep in their very midst to wreak havoc.

We shall further examine Rune Engineering, the Wraith Engine and other subjects of interest to Steamhammer at another time.

Also, because I’m a dork that enjoys creating these silly little electronic paper dolls, I’ll post a pic of a possible character idea that I had – I haven’t named him yet, but I envision him as a descendant of Rahann Gunderit who has continued to pursue advancements in rune engine technology.

Young, well bred and a mad sorcerer-scientist. Whats not to love?

Young, well bred and a mad sorcerer-scientist. What's not to love?

Steampunk Warhammer = Steamhammer?

August 19, 2009

So, I’m not going to close the poll in my most recent post until it’s been open for a week, but at the time of this posting, SteamHammer has a fairly commanding plurality going on.

While I’m not a slave to this poll, I do think that I get where people are going with that title preference and it does make a certain amount of sense to me.

It’s slightly silly sounding, which suits the longstanding Warhammer aesthetic of combining silliness with absolutely pitch-black grimness in a somewhat over-the-top fashion. Also, it retains the references to iconic bludgeoning implements that are so prevalent in GW’s work. They really like hammers, for some reason. Do you reckon those oversized hammers and war machines are compensating for something?

My personal favorite of the titles in the poll based on how it sounds on its own would be Rune Engine. Run engine, however, has the fairly serious disadvantage of not having an inherent thematic link with the Warhammer universe since the word “hammer” doesn’t appear anywhere in it.

I’m just musing over trends on the poll.  Don’t mind me.