Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Kami Powers, Rorqual Edition!

December 6, 2017

It’s time for me to post more content for the Possessed. Yay? The original source of the Powers below is World of Darkness: Blood-Dimmed Tides (pp. 14-15), but the mechanics needed a little tidying and point values, so here is my adaptation of them to the rules in Possessed: a Player’s Guide. They were originally intended for Rorqual (a specialized form of Kami cetaceans), but may have broader applications. For reasons that I will cover below, two out of three of these particular powers needed considerable adaptation to become playable. Note that my text uses the terms Gnosis and Steep interchangeably, a nod towards the Rorqual themselves.

Breach (5) – Only Kami may take this Power, and it is all but unknown outside the rare cetacean Rorqual. The Kami can make a spectacular leap from the water that has a purifying effect on the waters around her from toxins such as crude oil, or even supernaturally active toxins. When she reenters the water, she may spend as much of her carried Steep as she likes; the first point spent cleanses the area covered by the Kami’s actual splash, and to the depth that her splash down carries her. Additional points of Steep increase the area of effect by half the radius of the first, with a maximum range out to line of sight. While supernaturally active toxins can be cleansed, the area of effect is reduced to one fifth in such cases. Naturally, a Rorqual will only use such a Power as a last resort, as they do not consider the energy they carry to be theirs to spend.

Song of the Sea (3) – Only Kami may take this Power. The Kami sings a sad, haunting alien melody to coax the power of the Grottoes or a Caern into their body. It usually takes about ten minutes for each point of Gnosis that they absorb. This may be a long, slow process but it is considerably faster than conventional meditation.

Steep Reservoir (6, 7, 8, 9, or 10) – Only Kami may take this Power. This character is functionally a living Caern, able to collect and store vast amounts of Gnosis from undersea Grottoes or terrestrial Caerns, well beyond the limits normally imposed by their own Gnosis score (the Rorqual refer to it as Steep), and is capable of transmitting it to other supernatural creatures (Shapechangers, Changelings and Mages being the most likely recipients) via touch. Supernatural creatures can be granted up to 5 points of Gnosis (which are converted upon transmission to Glamour, Chi or Quintessence etc, if necessary for the recipient in question). This Power comes in several tiers, with the maximum available tier a function of the Kami’s overall body mass. Smaller Rorqual in the form of porpoises or dolphins, for example, can hold 100 points of Steep. Certain larger Rorqual are theoretically capable of holding five or ten times as much (another reason not to restrict such leviathans to NPC status). A dolphin sized character can store up to 100 Steep for a cost of 6, a small one like a Beluga (up to perhaps 15 feet, comparable in weight to a hippo if you want a terrestrial equivalent) can store 200 at a cost of 7, a moderate sized whale like an Orca or Minke whale (or an elephant, which is of similar weight) 300 at a cost of 8, a large whale like a Humpback, Grey or Sperm whale (say, 60’ length) 500 at a cost of 9 and a huge one like a Finback or Blue Whale 1000 at a cost of 10. No extant natural terrestrial animal is large enough to accommodate the 9 or 10 point versions of this Power, though not all Kami are derived from terrestrial animals. Obviously, Spirit Ties is a prerequisite for this Power. (This power was extrapolated from World of Darkness: Blood-Dimmed Tides, pp. 14-15, and is not explicitly named there. I codified the specific tiers, within the overall range found in the source material).

Note: the Human Form power from WoD: BDT is not included here because it is just a specific instance of the existing Power: Transformation.

Note on Breach: I modified this Power’s area of effect considerably. The original scope of this Power’s reach was laughably small – it seems to me this came from the writers not having really thought about the scale of bodies of water, even though Blood-Dimmed Tides repeatedly reminds readers just how vast the ocean is. One cubic foot of water makes up 7.48 gallons and would cost 2 points of Gnosis to cleanse in this way. A theoretical Blue Whale Rorqual with a Steep Reservoir of up to 1000 points, if they blew the entire thing, could purify 5000 gallons of water.

An Olympic-size swimming pool is approximately 50 m or 164 feet in length, 25 m or 82 feet in width, and 2 m or 6 feet in depth. These measurements create a surface area of 13,454.72 square feet and a volume of 88,263 cubic feet. The pool has 660,253.09 gallons of water. An adult humpback whale is up to 52 feet in length, a sperm whale might reach 60 feet and a blue whale might be 100 feet long and weigh in excess of 200 tons. 5000 gallons of water amounts to 668.44 cubic feet of water, so compare: 88,263/668.44 = 132.043. It would cost 1000 points of Gnosis to purify less than 1/100th of an olympic sized swimming pool (the entire pool is only half-again as long as the whale’s own body!) Volume = side length cubed, so to determine the size of a cube that would occupy 668.44 cubic feet of water, we only need its cubed root: 8.74 feet. So 1000 gnosis can only purify enough water to fill a cube with sides 8.74 feet long. That’s… pitiful. According to this link, a typical suburban swimming pool with 18’ x 36’ in dimensions, 3 feet deep at one end and 8 at the other would hold 26,658.72 gallons of water. So purifying a volume of water too small to even hold the body of a moderate sized Rorqual (say, a grey whale @ 49 feet in length or a humpback @ 52) would require 5332 Gnosis to purify. The splash from the whale’s actual breach probably displaces more water than that. 1000 Gnosis would only be able to purify 1000 gallons of water if it is supernaturally poisoned – a big rig trailer can move 18 portable water tanks of 1k gallons each.

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Awakening: Procedures

June 21, 2014

(This is a side bit from ACWoD/ The Awakening Chronicle, from Story 4: City of Angels. I’ll periodically post other side bits from the chronicle here as time goes on.)

Special Agent Luz Martinez pursed her lips as the tracking bullet embedded in the Superstitionists’ bumper failed to respond to its activation code. Her tracking Procedure was being jammed. She tried several applicable alternate frequencies, but was unable to sufficiently modulate it to penetrate interference and pick up a signal, and she finally acknowledged that her own apparatus was unlikely to get a fix on their location before they could find and dispose of the device. One smack to the dash of her service vehicle communicated her annoyance, and then she was once again the picture of operational professionalism.

“So we lost them,” Agent Sumner stated matter-of-factly. The Man in Black pulled the nondescript black sedan over and looked over to his senior partner, mirrorshades glinting in the late morning sunlight slanting in through the windshield.

“Yes,” she replied calmly. “They won’t flee the city again yet; they wouldn’t have risked returning here without a solid reason.”

“Agreed,” Sumner said and checked the radio, not picking up any reference to their quarry.

“We don’t know where they are or where they’re going right now,” Martinez said to herself, “But let’s see where they’ve been.” She called the display in her mirrorshades online and patched in to the vehicle’s onboard computer and communications array with a couple of subvocalized commands into her wireless headset,

Satellite Location, UID CZ411, timestamp 30032011-1106. Magnify. Isolate targets at 1200 and 1155. Magnify.

She regarded the vehicles and reviewed their information and the analysis she had already been sent by Bates, her Amalgam’s Watcher. The sports car first: 2007 Dodge Charger, red, NY license plate # ADL 4681, registered: Brennan, Rowena Brighid. Ms. Brennan’s driver’s license photo matched the woman Martinez and her partner had seen. Ident confirmed, she notated, adding Probable Reality Deviant.

Next, the battered van that she had picked up first, and which had been the reason for her picking up the pursuit: 1975 Dodge Ram Van, brown, CA license plate # 3LUE042, registered: Milton, Irene Ruby. The identification of its color as “brown” was certainly suspect as far as Agent Martinez was concerned, but she let that slide. The flag of what had initially caught her attention earlier when she ran the plates was much more interesting to her: Vehicle matches one identified via satellite departing facility at +35° 41′ 1.46″, -116° 50′ 11.05″ designation “Overwatch HQ” prior to said facility’s destruction via aerial strike. Vehicle believed to be operated by Reality Deviant designated “Eel,” wanted for reality crimes and for murder of Enlightened and UnEnlightened Personnel in connection to attack at US Bank Tower Dispatch Center. Last confirmed sighting: Las Vegas, NV. Detain and question operator. If positive identification is obtained, subject to be processed or terminated. Subject to be considered armed and dangerous. Known associates: probable Reality Deviant designated “Steve” [status: unknown]; Reality Deviant designated “Umbra” [status: unknown]… she noted that this “Umbra” fellow was probably the same man that had been the passenger in Brennan’s vehicle.

“Bates,” she said via comm to her Watcher, “What else have we got on file for these people?”

“Getting what I can now, Agent. There. There’s not much. Both ‘Umbra’ and ‘Eel’ have very sparse information, considering that both are known to have been part of Incident 05092010-B17,” Bates responded. Off the record the area’s Operatives had dubbed the prior year’s debacle “The Non Event” in a tongue in cheek reference to the Herculean lengths to which their Methodology and the NSC had been called upon to go to contain the outbreak of deviant anomalies and to maintain the ignorance of the Masses afterwards. “I suspect that there are further details that are classified,” he elaborated, though for a moment Martinez entertained a paranoid, niggling suspicion that perhaps the paucity of records might be due to tampering instead. Further inquiry and request for access to classified documents would be warranted. There would be time for that and a review of other known associates later.

“I need to trace the movements of the two suspect vehicles, Bates. Designate Suspect vehicle 3LUE042 as Primary, ADL 4681 Secondary.”

“On it,” he answered and she heard him talking with his staffers for a moment before he patched what he had been able to get through to her onboard computer. “The satellites didn’t get complete coverage of that space and period, but I think I can stitch most of it together by cross-referencing the traffic camera system where possible and extrapolating the rest,” he advised.

Collating, her display informed her. Plotting movements of suspect vehicles back to timestamp 1036. Looking at the map of their movements, she observed that they had at one point converged on a point in silverlake and parked there for a while, and so she had the system home in on the timestamp of their arrival and magnified the imagery to see what they had been doing there. Brennan and a pair of suspects that she felt she could confidently confirm as “Umbra” and “Eel” along with several other as-yet unidentified persons emerged from three vehicles and met with the occupants of two automobiles that had arrived shortly before them.

The tense confrontation between the two parties played out silently for her. Deviance detected: increased mass and bodily transformation, three subjects. UnEnlightened observers of Anomaly: 0. Luz shook her head, grateful that the RDs had at least had that much decency. The shroud-barreled, slabsided weapon that one of the deviants brandished caught her attention as well, and she commanded the system: Search records for pictured firearm. The results came back after a moment: IMI Vanguard pistol, chambering 12.7mm Sagittarius gyrojet ammunition. Hypertech, pending approval for insertion into Consensus.

“Where did our cowboy get hold of one of those beasts anyhow?” she asked rhetorically. That would bear further investigation, but she decided that he and his companions were not the primary targets just yet, and she added a notation to open up further lines of inquiry.

She noted how after the group including the wielder of the experimental firearm departed, the group of targets swapped from one vehicle to another before splitting up and she decided to stick with the primary target for the moment, and traced the battered old van back to a neighborhood in West LA. The imaging was too patchy at that point for some reason to pick out a specific house, but Bates advised her that he could readily pinpoint their stopping point to within a one block radius.

“Sumner, we’ve got them,” Martinez said with some satisfaction. “We’ve got some more due diligence to perform and some classified records to request access to, but we’ll find them. There are a couple of fish here that really need catching.”

“What were Hart’s instructions when you reported you’d spotted the van?” Sumner asked by way of reminder.

“To proceed with all caution,” Martinez replied firmly. “Let’s get the rest of the Amalgam involved and see if we can’t requisition a little more help. We’re going to need some backup.”

A Few Old NBish Bits

June 18, 2014

As a follow up to my last post, I thought that I would share a few old screenshots that I still had lying around somewhere from back in my old NB days or just following its demise. Most of the bits I’ll post here, I held on to for humor value, though a few I kept for more sentimental reasons. NB was a weird and wild place, and I enjoyed it… most of the time. Most but not all of the below are bits of out-of-character conversation. Due to the format of this blog, quite a few of these images are displayed at a smallish size. You should be able to right click on them and view their full size versions, however. None of the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Below, the ever-awesome ST Keith shared with me something that a player (who was running a Demon: the Fallen character) had asked him via private message…

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Apparently, Georgia’s got some, ah, interesting rules regarding their driver’s licenses:

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Sometimes, a player would post in the wrong window, with embarrassing results:

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Mockery Breeds? Awesome, Wyrm20 Style

June 6, 2014

I hope that you’re already aware of the Book of the Wyrm W20 Kickstarter. Well, if you’re not, consider this your wake up call. Yes, I’m a backer. Come on. The Wyrm, with an updated treatment? You know I’m there. Very fortunately, this is not going to be just a retread of the first and second books of the Wyrm. Go on ahead and take a look; they’ve got a going-to-layout draft of most of the book’s text right there for free download on the kickstarter page, so you can get a look at what you’d be supporting. I haven’t had much time to go over that draft, but there are some very cool new concepts in there that have got me grinning. Here’s one of them, below. I take the text of this teaser from update #3 on the kickstarter.

Project Update #3: Preview: Yeren

Posted by Richard Thomas♥ Like

Hi folks, Rose here. Stew sent over one of the Mockery Breeds, with a few notes on how they came to be.

I love the sheer range of creatures that we could fit into the Book of the Wyrm 20. Holden came up with the idea of the Mockery Breeds, engineered creations that try to ape the Changing Breeds. (For those of you who’ve read ahead, the pun was indeed intended.)

The Yeren are one of those Mockery Breeds, that combine the best parts of human and ape into a greed-is-good corporate operator, Gordon Gekko turned up to eleven. Engineered to consider businesses and boardrooms their natural habitat, and with a natural urge to dominate and humiliate anyone who gets in their way, the Yeren are both perfect examples of what the Wyrm might create, and something I’d never have thought of in a million years.

Yeren are shapeshifters who take on the form of apes, designed to thrive in the modern city, and to hold an edge over the savage and primitive Garou. The Yeren’s instinctive domain is the halls of power. They’re naturally attracted to money and authority. Creatures of appetite and greed, the majority have nestled themselves into the upper-middle management of corporations, banks, and law firms, where they remain in sporadic contact with Pentex. A few Yeren have even begun climbing the corporate ranks of Pentex-owned companies, and most of those few have their eyes on a seat on the Board of Directors. They’re one of the major influences pushing Toads (see p. XX) out of their traditional niches, and they’re territorial to boot. Yeren bristle when they become aware of other supernaturals dipping their talons into a wereape’s self-proclaimed domain. This makes them natural rivals of the Glass Walkers, and they take a particular delight in using their mastery of political and financial influence to demolish, or re-zone Bone Gnawer septs. Of course, the wereapes’ rapacious greed and territorial instincts also bring them into conflict with vampires, urban Black Spiral hives, and other Wyrmspawn.

In the end, the Yeren want it all: all the money, all the power, all the respect; and they’ll happily backstab, undermine, and eat anyone who gets in their way. They may be the newest players on the battlefield of the Apocalypse, but they’ve already gone all-in. Let the Garou satisfy themselves with glorious, Pyrrhic final charges, and the Anurana with subsistence survival in toxic swamps, closers close, and winners win.

 

So that’s way, way cool. Whole new Changing Breeds, but creations of the Wyrm rather than Gaia? Please sir, can I have some more? The Yeren, for instance, are perfect for a good game of intrigue and influence and messing about with governments and corporations. Then of course we get more on the War Wolves, which of course are faux-Garou that we’ve seen before, but more details are always good to see (for a given value of ‘good’), and now we’ve got the Anurana swamp-stalkers (who are creepy, dangerous and at first glance seem absurd enough not to be a real threat…). So yeah, check the book out and back that bad boy to Luna. Speaking of, I’m gonna have to make up some new Mockery Breeds, ho yez….

A Passel of Collective Nouns

May 31, 2014

I find collective nouns fascinating, so I decided to compile a list of fun ones. Note that many of those below are of my own invention, and some I found in various sources on the interwebs. Some are pretty much legit, and others are me being, well, me. If you think you have a better one for one of these, hit me with it. There are several sites (such as this one and of course wictionary) where folks discuss these things endlessly.

On with the list!
a gaggle of gamers
a party of grognards
a guild of judges (related to the below)
a clatter of GMs
A crypt of keepers
a rage of nerds
a squad of geeks
a guild of neckbeards
a board of memetards
a conspiracy of theorists
a sameness of DJs
a poverty of artists (at least one source says it’s a colony, but I like mine better)
a pretension of poseurs
a crew of pirates
an absence of ninjas (note: this one’s highly controversial and there are many competing terms. I’ve seen “an apparently empty room full” posited, but while funny, I find that one objectionable for lack of convenient utility)
a team (or a legion) of super-heroes
a rumor of gossips
a horde of barbarians
a crew of hipsters (or an irony)
A forum of trolls
a clamor of twitards
a squee of otaku
a clowder of catgirls
a combat of shippers
an audience of fans
a convention of cosplayers
a yiffing of furries
an enterprise of trekkies
a collective of borg
a negging of PUAs
a band of robbers
a squad of feminazis
a march of activists
a parade of republicans
a herd of democrats
a rant of bloggers/podcasters
a prey of vegans
a desire of suitors
A flight of Elvii? (or Elvises, if you prefer)…
a congregation of hypocrites (same for worshipers. Hopefully they’re not equivalent…)
a companionship of mormons
a denunciation of atheists
an equivocation of politicians
a firm of lawyers
a congress of useless men

RPG things

I’m a longtime gamer, and this list above was partialy inspired by my mind running wild while thinking of the interesting collective nouns that get used for groups of various things in RPGs. Such as…

A party of adventurers
A coterie of Kindred
a pack of werewolves
a cabal of Mages
A circle of wraiths
a motley of Changelings
A coven of Verbenae
a society of Etherites
a covenant of Hermetics
a cult of Ecstatics
An amalgam of Technocrats

Dream Journal: Tile Puzzles and Dance Battle

March 18, 2014

Okay, last night I had a singular and vivid dream that I really felt the need to journal here. Fans of adventurous literature, RPGs and/or dream interpretation could potentially have a field day with this one. To begin with, I was in an old European palace, but the setting was definitely modern for reasons that will become clear, and the castle had glass-paned windows with those lean lines between the panes, and in one room there was stained glass too. Anyhow, for some reason, I had to pass through a series of chambers with different flavors of floor-tile puzzles.

The first of these had widely spaced tiles and I had to step between them in order to avoid a large and nasty sideways-angled pounder-purtcullis thingie. Those always ruin one’s day when they’re triggered, but I got through there safely. (more…)

Webcomic Discussions and String Theory

June 23, 2013

Okay, I know it’s been forever since I updated this thing. I’m thinking of starting to use it again to post excerpts from my ongoing and very extensive Argent Passage project and prolly putting more Awakening stuff up here again too. But that’s not what I’m writing about this morning. No, this morning I’m posting a bit of an amusing correspondence. Well, amusing to me. So make of that what you will.

On the Erfworld forum, which I read glance at every couple of days, I found this discussion: Magic As Six-Dimensional Space And String Theory, which tries to take this diagram of the axes and elements of Erfworld magic and… do something with it.

I read the thread and immediately remembered of this XKCD. Even if the model this guy is trying to build is correct, so what? As far as I can tell, it’s putting a lot of brain power into trying to build a theoretical model that, frankly, won’t actually tell us anything meaningful about Erfworld (a comic filled with pop culture references and deliberately arbitrary things about its bizarre setting’s internal physics) or its narrative. Okay, so what if these guys can build a model that illustrates the relationship between Erfworld disciplines of magic? Will we suddenly gain a comprehensive understanding of how Weirdomancy works on a metaphysical level, when the actual textual source of what we know, the comic itself, has only mentioned this discipline in passing and has never shown us an actual Weirdomancer that we know of, or reveal what direction Rob Balder’s narrative is going to go? I don’t think it will. I don’t think that Rob has put quite that level of physics work in on this, because what he’s doing is writing a webcomic. It’s a webcomic that has very interesting internal rules, strong characters and a fascinating narrative. Trying to use string theory on its magic system, which is mostly built on humor and puns, just seems like straining at a gnat to swallow a camel as far as I’m concerned.

oWoD Grappling Rules! iä! iä!

August 8, 2011

Yeah, we all know that the oWoD grappling rules… make the baby Cthulhu giggle. So I’m trying to give them a little help. I made an exhaustive review of the grappling rules for WtA, VtM, MtA and the nWoD (which has a better system for grappling than oWoD does though it’s still hardly perfect) in order to construct this, and I like to think that the results will be a touch more useful and cover a few more of the possibilities. These rules are not presently set in stone, and are open to discussion and adjustment. I am using these rules in my current Werewolf Chronicle:  Awakening. (more…)

Oh, The Germanity! A Real Cowgirl!

April 5, 2011

Horse dreams dashed, German teen turns to cow Luna

Regina Mayer

LAUFEN, Germany – When Regina Mayer’s parents dashed her hopes of getting a horse, the resourceful 15-year-old didn’t sit in her room and sulk. Instead, she turned to a cow called Luna to make her riding dreams come true…

Now, something about a young German girl jumping over fences on cowback makes me happy. I just can’t help it.

His Majesty, Prince Rohr!

September 14, 2010

Last night, as I was in that state somewhere between totally asleep and sort-of awake, I had a dream that has mostly escaped, but which had a repeated element that has stuck with me all morning thus far.

That bit was a scene where a menacing midget with rather nasty teeth came over a hill followed by more midgets and guys that might have been giants or ogres. All had black hair and wore armor and kit that were somewhere between Huns and Persians.

As they crested the hill, the “camera” zoomed in on the lead midget and he bellowed in a powerful and deep voice, “His Majesty, Prince Rohr!” (with a little reverb too, if memory serves). I remember panning over to see the prince’s arrival, but I can’t for the life of me remember what the dude looked like. The roaring midget herald’s the main thing that sticks out in my memory.

Just sharing.