Saturday, January 16, 2021

TWO RELIGIOUS ORDERS

 

Religious orders might be an unconventional option for a MoSh campaign either as players, allies, or adversaries.    


EYES OF UTU (EVANGELICAL SOLARIAN CHURCH)

The Solarian Church is a very big tent; while major sects usually believe that the archetypal sun god ties humanity to the world.  Some sects believe in a literal sun god, some venerate many ancient terrestrial sun gods as manifestations of Sol Invictus, and others focus on the metaphor.  Also, some deal drugs and work with organized criminal groups.  The Solarian church is not inclined towards secret orders.  It is generally well regarded by ordinary people and its doctrine doesn't threaten most established power structures it also has no central authority beyond its local leaders.  

Nevertheless, some Solarians form secret groups to back up the law-giving aspect of the Unconquered Sun.  The Eyes are representative of one such group.  They are concerned with matters of divine justice (read: vigilantism)  but also take the lifegiving aspect of the Unconquered Sun seriously.  They assist spacefaring communities when life support is failing and feed the hungry when the Corps would leave them to starve.


ORDER OF ST. LAWRENCE (NEOCATHOLIC CHURCH)

The Neocatholic Church is focused on preserving human heritage and venerating exemplars of human virtue (the Eastern Orthodox Church has absorbed those Roman Catholics who follow more traditional doctrines).  Being an entirely secular religion, the NCT doesn't have many secretive groups but it does have the enthusiastic support of many of the Exile States.  

The Order of St. Lawrence is responsible for the NCT's efforts to secure and recover what human heritage that survived the mistake.  The group's public face includes culinary historians, cryptographers, dead language specialists, archivists, and programmer/priests (and priestesses) familiar with ancient digital file formats.  The Order's less public face includes archaeologists, art thieves, and IP pirates who seek to pry back humanity's heritage from the corps by any means necessary.  The secret wing of the Order is very secretive and very well-armed.  They are also in possession of a NEMO device.




 


Thursday, January 14, 2021

POCKET DIMENSIONS AND THE GATE BUILDERS

 

THE THEORY

Conceptually, creating pocket dimensions in hyperspace is rather simple.  Using complex n-dimensional geometry it is possible to twist and warp hyperspace so that it wraps around a bubble of realspace, creating a non-orientable object that is simultaneously inside and outside both hyperspace and realspace at the same time.  This is how a hyperdrive works.  It is also possible to use the same mechanism to make a hole.  This is ill-advised.  A hole made near a hyperspace mass shadow is an invitation to Gaunt and other creatures of baryonic matter living in hyperspace.  A hole in deep space is infinitely worse -- bad as the Gaunt are, they are made of the same stuff as people and operate on the same general principles (also, if you shoot them enough they'll die).  Higher hyperspace life (such as it is) is only detectable by its wispy interactions with this universe and even then only by indirect inference using sophisticated particle detectors and cutting-edge particle physics equipment.  



In any event with more processing power and a better understanding of exotic physics, it is possible to build metastable non-orientable structures in hyperspace.  In practice, the simplest of these structures is a tunnel or a sac (though these analogies do a great disservice to the mind-bending geometry involved).  The former is the basis for Tippler Oracles and can be created with state-of-the-art human technology.  Bigger structures resemble vast systems of non-orientable veins, twisting into, around, and through each other creating a pocket of realspace twisting and arcing through hyperspace without ever truly being in hyperspace.  

The most notable user of this geometry is everybody's least favorite human-derived superintelligence: MONARCH.  MONARCH's pocket dimension (or maybe dimensions) are relatively simple in geometric terms, the result of a mighty but ruthlessly pragmatic intelligence hobbled by its human ancestry -- if a competent scientific organization got a hold of ARTIFACT 97 (GD p. 63), they would likely be able to derive substantially more computationally efficient warp drive geometries from MONARCH's worked examples.  Without access suitable computing power, pocket universes would still be out of the question.

MONRACH is not the only intelligence that has played around with exotic hyperspace geometries.  Others have done so too.


THE GATE BUILDERS

The Gate Builders are a mysterious species, lost to the ravages of time for millennia.  It is likely that they made use of a DNA/RNA biochemistry very similar to that found on many worlds (including Earth) and were not inclined to create megastructures (other than the Gate Network).  The configuration of the gate network suggests that the Gate Builders embraced neoprimitivism and retained their carbon-based forms.

The Gates allow one to walk between worlds, covering lightyears in just tens of thousands of kilometers.  Gates show up intermittently, almost without exception on worlds with complex carbon-based life, usually in areas with considerable biomass.  Sometimes for minutes.  Sometimes for years.  Usually, multiple openings appear in close proximity.  Often, this leads to biosphere bleeds and may result in dangerous new invasive species.

The Gate Network supports a stable biosphere, has an internal surface gravity of about .62g, and most areas have a breathable oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere.  It's not obvious where a gate will lead until one gets there (the computing power required to model such a system is beyond that available to most true superintelligences).  Most explorations of the network have wound up on other life-bearing planets within or near Known Space.  If other explorations have strayed further afield, their realspace transmissions haven't reached a settled planet yet.  Luckily, most of the Network's documented destinations are reasonably suitable for human habitation.

In any case, the network seems to be intelligent -- gates appear and disappear with apparent intent but unknown motives.  It's quite possible that old Terran stories about the fey and spirit worlds were inspired by early humanity's contact with the gates.

Also notable is the fact that the Network's geometry, which is designed to create internal gravity, creates an external habitat for baryonic hyperspace life that depends on gravity.  Just as humanity crosses vast distances in the inside of the Network, the Gaunt do so on the outside, moving from planetary mass shadow to planetary mass shadow.  Sometimes things that should be outside slip inside (and vice-versa).  While the network does not tolerate sustained Gaunt infestations (and will seal off seriously compromised areas), small numbers of Gaunt have been reported by some explorers.


ADVENTURING IN THE GATE NETWORK

The Gate Network is a Big Dumb Object in the same way that a Ringworld is.  It provides a rich and diverse environment that can be traversed by explorers in an ordinary wheeled vehicle without the backing of a powerful corporation or research institute.  It also provides an excuse to introduce all sorts of wondrous terrain from fantasy OSR games into a game of MoSh.

The animating impulse for the Network is the chance to play a mega-scale Gardens of Ynn game.

The Gate Network could be connected to any number of other alien mysteries but probably shouldn't be.  It also provides a compelling in-universe justification for a large number of planets with a recognizable biochemistry.  That can be good for wilderness-type adventures.       



Wednesday, January 13, 2021

MORE HACKING GEAR

 

The hacking pamphlet is really great!  Here's some extra equipment.


CAMERA SPOOFER: [100cr]  Disposable device that enables you to wirelessly display any prerecorded image or video through a camera.  Must have physical access to the camera (and be able to open it up).  1 minute to install. 


DOWNLINK NODE: [2kcr]  Add a node to the network.  You may access this node remotely and carry out hacking attacks from a safe distance away.  Wiring this device into a network takes 2d10 minutes and requires a successful mechanical repair or engineering check to install.  If this node is discovered, your position can be determined and you may be exposed to an adversary's hacking attack.


TRYGON ELECTRONIC WARFARE ROUTER:  [5kcr]  Allows access to all nodes connected wirelessly to the network (nodes must be hacked as normal) within 50m.  When connected to building or ship power, may access all nodes within 500m and may disconnect those nodes from the network.


PORTABLE TIPPLER ORACLE [1mcr] Bulky device the size of a portable nuclear warhead and about as dangerous.  Makes use of exotic hyperspace geometry to carry out massive brute force calculation at speeds impossible in realspace.  Decrypt all encrypted nodes you have access to, reduce all hardened nodes you have access to to secured nodes in one round.  Massive explosion.  25% chance of a metastable hyperspace tear (expect Gaunt).  Unless nobody's home, add +10 to the response table.


POLTERGEIST:  [5kcr]  When wired into the network (1d5 minutes, halved on successful engineering check) randomly opens and closes doors, sets off alarms, activates sprinklers, etc.  Can't mess with secured nodes.  A great distraction but add +5 to response and delay the arrival of physical security by 1d10 rounds.


SOLPSIST TIN:  [200kcr]  A master hacker's brain in a tube.  Irretrievably insane but capable of making one hacking check at advantage per round.  Putting a brain in a jar and depriving it of all external sensory input is a truly evil act but that's never stopped the corps.  5% chance every hacking turn that the brain in a jar does what it wants (many suffering this fate consider death a mercy and would love to take you down with them).









Tuesday, January 12, 2021

CHIMERAS AND PANIC

 

Sharing your body with an alien horror isn't all laughter and sunshine.  As appropriate, you may call on a player to roll on this table instead of the ordinary panic table.  

CHIMERA PANIC TABLE

Roll 2d10

2-3        Limbic Spike.  Advantage on all combat rolls, athletics checks, and saves for 2d10 hours.  May reroll damage done by natural weapons (fists, teeth, claws . . . ).  

4-5        Adaptive Atavism.  Advantage on all combat rolls for the next 6d10 minutes, may reroll damage done by natural weapons (fists, teeth, claws . . . ).

6-7        Minor Adaptive Atavism.  As above but for 2d10 minutes.

8-9        Atavistic Override.  For the next 1d10 hours, you must make a sanity save or engage in combat.  [+] if combat would be obviously suicidal to an alien horror (the chimera is more impressed by big things, loud things, and has a poor grasp of environmental hazards).

10-11    Threat Display.  Non-chimeras gain 2 stress, chimeras gain 1 stress.  Impossible to sneak or perform technical tasks for 2d10 minutes.  

12-13    Major Atavistic Override.  Disadvantage on any skill that does not involve combat or movement and may only use natural and integrated weapons.  2d10 minutes.

14-15    Tank Memories.  Flooded with visions of your chimera's 'birth.'  Recollections of pain and total powerlessness are most common.  [-] on all initiative and perception-related checks, 1d5+1 stress for 2d10 hours (secret).  

16-17    Overwhelmed.  As PSG (gain 1d10 stress).

18-19    Self-Harm.  2d10 damage to self, others must make fear save or take 1d5 stress.  

20-21    Submission Display.  Cannot attack the source of the danger unless attack.  If an environmental danger, may not act for 1d10 rounds without a fear save.  [+] on fear saves with respect to dangers that would be obvious to a chimera (fire, hostiles . . .).

22        Nonverbal.  Cannot communicate verbally for 1d5 days.  Can sign, write, operate a computer and make any noises the chimera is capable of making.  Non-chimeras gain one stress whenever they encounter you. 

23        Death Drive.  As PSG.

24        Psychotic.    As PSG.

25        Severe Tank Memories.  As tank memories but for 1d10 days (secret). 

26        Regression.  Lose one randomly determined skill (reroll if the skill is something a chimera would be innately capable of).

27        Compounding Problems.  Roll twice.

28       Unsettling Presence.  Gain the android's fear effect (permanent).  

29        Feral.  Your character is now played by the WARDEN and immediately flees.  

30        Feral Rage.  Your character is now played by the WARDEN and immediately attacks the nearest friendly target.  Attack continues until your (former) character is reduced to half HP.  

MEDIA

 

Worldbuilding crap -- sorry!


HOME ALONE IN THE DEAD DIMENSION (Anand Ramani, 2588):  An iconic action-horror film  starring MΓΌmtaz Kovar (who had a successful directing career themselves).  Cult following among those who are wise to the existence of Gaunts because of the franchise's Deadwalkers' striking similarity to the Gaunt.  Incidentally, Ramani gave up directing for a distinguished career in sculpting.
  • Ramani's sculpting career is entirely unrelated to the Gaunt.


LORD OF THE RINGS (Yijun Hermansdotter, 2611):  While Tolkien's iconic work was preserved in the 1976 Soviet adaptation, the original source material was only rediscovered by the Neocatholic Church in 2596.  The 376-minute-long epic was not well-received by critics but attracted a small cult following.  Most viewers found Hermansdotter's depiction of Tom Bombadil deeply disturbing.  

  • Everyone in this adaptation was dressed in clothes resembling mid 20th-century fashion because that's the cultural touchstone for "old-timey."
  • Gandalf is dressed exactly like Tolkien would dress.
  • The orcs are dressed like GIs with swords.


DEGREE OF FANCY (Ember, 2592): First mainstream romantic comedy directed by a canid and starring human leads in which the female lead, a high-powered corporate manager, teaches the rural male lead to love city life and hate the holidays.  Well-regarded but had a very short run in cinemas due to intellectual property disputes surrounding the female lead's preferred drink of choice (which was used without proper permission).  Ember is most noted for her later action films, which often pushed the limits of intellectual property law out of sheer spite.  

  • The offending drink in Degree of Fancy was literally a Latte(tm).
  • The film was shot from three feet above the ground because that's where the director's head was.  The apes liked it because butts.  
  • Ember's trademark low shots are iconic and have become something of an inside joke.  Because butts.


SNOWBLINDER (Enos Shepherd, 2631):  A very questionably-accurate action-adventure adaptation of the Pre-Mistake Glacier War of the late 21st Century focusing on a heroic band of corporate mercenaries (there is no historical evidence indicates substantial corporate participation in that war).  Several members of the crew were seriously injured by local wildlife in the cinematic stand-in for the Himalayas.  Shepherd is currently regarded as uninsurable as a result.  

  • Snowblinder is banned in every Exile State with connections to the Glacier War.
  • Lawsuits resulting from the catastrophic shoot are still ongoing to this day.



AVIA (Drop Through The Blue, 2634):  An poignant and entirely dialogue-free cinematographic masterpiece by the Gibbon director Drop depicting a beautiful garden world and its surreal inhabitants.  Noted for superb composition and the fact that it was shot in a single take by the director and one sound tech.  Some find the surreal aspects of the film very unsettling.  

  • Drop deliberately introduced subtle continuity errors -- no mean feat in a one-take film.; 


   



KNOW YOUR SLEEVE COMPANIES: A GUIDE TO THE PEOPLE MAKING YOUR NEW BODY

 

KNOW YOUR SLEEVE COMPANIES: A GUIDE TO THE PEOPLE MAKING YOUR NEW BODY


HORIZON NEUROGEN:

Only makes Chimeras -- usually named after well-recognized mythological creatures.  Careful, rigorous, and insufferably smug.  Notable for comprehensive disclosure of all safety and operational data to customers and commitment to serving operators from underrepresented primate communities.  Horizon Special Projects is just rigorous and smug.  All sleeves show a steady and growing tendency towards a single optimal body plan.  The optimal body plan is an alpha gaunt.  


DAEYI-HAN CONSOLIDATED CYBERNETICS:

Only makes chrome sleeves and cyberware.  Design relatively rejection-resistant chrome sleeves (and very proud of it).  Image conscious and tends to emphasize non-violent applications for chrome sleeves.  Their IP enforcement department will fuck you up and then write an feel-good blog post about it.


OAI INDUSTRIES:

Vat culture company -- makes vat sleeves, clones, replacement body parts, and provides various assisted-reproduction technologies.  Diversified business means competitive prices and surprising quality.  OAI pads its bottom line by way of kickbacks and, where kickbacks fail, by strong-arming death insurance companies into buying their sleeves.  This benefits the consumer (remarkable thought!) but has made them many enemies.  Always looking for security contractors.  Mind the turnover.


CONSOLIDATED ROBOTICS:

Makes chrome sleeves, cyberware, mechs, power loaders, robotic pets, industrial robotic arms, etc.  Also in the body warehousing business.  Working primate's chrome.  Decent price, decent quality, and deep bulk discounts.  Consolidated sleeves are popular among rough-and-tumble outlaws, organized crime groups, and mid-sized security companies for their ease of deployment and affordability.  Doesn't advertise the peaceful applications of their products (but there are many -- Consolidated sleeves are popular among spacers, asteroid miners, and emergency services providers).  Consolidated s robopet division is currently experiencing a meteoric rise.  Most sleeves and battlemechs come with a free pet (surprisingly comforting).         



SOME EQUIPMENT FOR A GAME WITH SLEEVES

 

GEAR

HEADHUNTER:  [10kcr] A metal cylinder big enough to fit a human head (and the important bits of the brain stem) and miniaturized cryostasis equipment.  The bottom has an iris of very sharp blades.  It takes about 30 seconds to decapitate a corpse in such a way that their brain is recoverable.  Willing living subjects take 2d5 STRESS and may PANIC (failure to hold still may result in irreparable damage).  This is a life-saving device unsuitable for use as a weapon.  Rumors exist of headhunters designed to restore a brain to consciousness for interrogation, etc. [5mcr, extreme risk of rejection].  

TRAUMA KIT:  [500cr] ADVANTAGE on rolls made to stabilize dying characters, on successful roll, quadruple time before irreversible brain damage.  Bulky.  May stabilize a character having a heart attack (critical success returns character to play immediately).


DRUGS

HOCAT:  [500cr/dose]  Disadvantage on all rolls except FEAR and SANITY saves.  Immune to panic.  Duration: 3 hours.  Don't combine with stims under any circumstance.  High doses induce a reversible coma -- legitimate lifesaving medical applications.  Useful for saving the brain (and maybe body too!).


CYBERWARE AND WETWARE

BLACKBLOOD: [10kcr, 1 slot] Ordinarily if a body is left lying around, the brain will be irretrievably damaged after about 10 minutes (in primates).  This increases the time to 30 minutes.  Additionally, the user has advantage on any check involving extreme endurance and can hold their breath for 10 minutes (4 hours for dolphins, 16 hours for whales).  Banned by most sports leagues.  

DIRECT OXYGEN HOOKUP: [40kcr, 0 slots] Can hook up an oxygen tank to your lungs or your cranium.  While you aren't immune to other effects of vacuum (your eyes will still boil!) your lungs will be fine.  If your skull is intact your brain can still be oxygenated.