Saturday, January 30, 2021

PLAYING d5 ALIENS

 I doubt these are 100% viable as PC aliens.  But if you wanted to, here are the stats.  Descriptions HERE.


1. THE ELECTRIC-TENTACLED SPECIES

  • 6d10 + 10 STRENGTH
  • 4d10 SPEED
  • 7d10 COMBAT
  • Natural weapons deal 2d10
  • 150kg, 4m long, very flexible
  • Electrical sense functions as bioscanner in water and can stun small prey.
  • Communications by electrical signals
  • Slow movement out of water, average movement in water
  • Temperatures over 0C are uncomfortably hot, temperatures over 10C are lethal in hours.  
  • Ammonia-H2O solvent biology incompatible with most other DNA-RNA life.


2. THE SOLITARY SPECIES

  • 2d10+50 STRENGTH
  • 3d10 SPEED
  • 7d10 INTELLECT
  • 7d10 COMBAT
  • +10% to armor and body saves
  • Enormous (1000kg) and many-limbed -- natural weapons deal 4d10
  • Communication entirely by means of body language and writing; no spoken language and limited ability to rapidly process same.  
  • Stunted social processing and very little empathy or theory of mind.

3. THE TINY TYRANT SPECIES

  • 3d5+5 STRENGTH (a further +5 to HP)
  • 6d10+20 SPEED
  • 5d10 INTELLECT
  • -5% to body saves, +5% to fear saves
  • 7kg, capable of flight and a skilled climber
  • Immune to all but the most horrific DNA/RNA-derived diseases.
  • Can eat human food with no issues.
  • Cannot fly in body armor and cannot use human-sized weapons.

WEAPONS:

RECOILLESS RIFLE -- 6d10, single shoot; 10m blast radius

AUTOMATIC RIFLE -- 2d10 3(6); +5% against armor (low muzzle velocity)



4. THE WHITE-FEATHERED SPECIES

  • 8d10 STRENGTH
  • 6d10 - 3 COMBAT
  • +5% to body saves
  • [-] on checks involving intermediate-scale manual dexterity that require some force (picking locks with one's tongues is easy but carpentry is very hard); some gross motor tasks can be done with bendy feet
  • Carrying capacity double human
  • Superior speed, can't climb
  • Natural weapons deal 2d10 
  • 400kg, much more flexible joints than terrestrial animals with a similar body plan (i.e. ungulates)
  • Blind but can smell, taste, and hear with its feathers (putting one in a space suit or heavy armor is likely to go badly and should usually lead to a panic roll).

WEAPONS:

FOOT BLADE -- 3d10, bleed on critical

NECK SPEAR THROWER -- 2d10

GUN HELMET -- 4d10, 6 round magazine.  Human gift-tech (very scarce; mostly used by nobility and favored warriors).   


4. THE BOWER-BUILDING SPECIES

  • +10% to body saves
  • 6d10 -3 SPEED
  • +5% armor
  • Carrying capacity double human
  • Natural weapons deal 1d10; DNA/RNA life must make a body save at [+] or roll at [-] for the next 2 rounds due to mild stinging venom
  • 200kg
  • Below-average speed, too dense to swim
  • Can eat human food

WEAPONS:

CROSSBOW -- 2d10






Friday, January 29, 2021

IF I HAD d5 ALIENS . . . .

 I don't use playable aliens at my table.  While there's nothing stopping anybody from running a decent horror game with playable aliens, it may undercut the psychological aspects of a horror game at all but the most committed tables.  In any case, here's some ideas in varying levels of detail (with MoSh rules as my fancy strikes!).  


1. THE ELECTRIC-TENTACLED SPECIES

Generalist large littoral predators with a weaponized electrical sense organ well suited to sensing and stunning smaller prey.  Biology uses a hybrid ammonia-water solvent and world is much colder than Earth but very biologically rich.  Sometimes hunt larger prey or ambush from the surface (by dropping from trees or rocks).  Large with false trilateral symmetry.  Culture has just developed primitive metalworking (copper) and with it, the telegraph (using electrical sense organ).  Larger settled polities dam rivers to create favorable habitats for small prey and build boats to move goods and traverse perilous deep waters.  Rapid cultural development but unlikely to consolidate into large polities of unrelated individuals; the species has well-developed conflict-resolution instincts and is not inclined towards wars of conquest.  Capable of rich communication and interested in other species if they can demonstrate they are inedible or dangerous.  


2. THE SOLITARY SPECIES

Possessed of tremendous might, intelligence, and longevity, but largely asocial, this species dies after giving birth.  Hidden nests fortified and filled with the mother's tools and knowledge left for her daughters to master without explanation.  Technological development is glacial; some things simply require more cooperation than this species can manage.  However, relentless domestication efforts over hundreds of generations has produced a near-sapient domestic species which protects juveniles and assists in some manual tasks.  Human comparisons to dragons and cephalopods are not entirely unfair despite a radically different body plan.  Probably not inclined to friendly contact with alien intelligences but might be plied with metals and advanced technology.


3. THE TINY TYRANT SPECIES

Little colonial omnivores (ecological niche similar to bats); weigh about 4-6kg and nest in massive colonies (originally caves, now artificial structures) with hundreds-of-thousands of individuals.  Intelligent, cooperative, and far more capable of complex social organization.  Population and complex-organization kept in check by disease; large states are the result of the development of vaccination and sophisticate public health services.  Largest superpolity and only global power is a semi-secular totalitarian state which contains over forty billion individuals and emphasizes total erasure of individual will as a form of salvation. Being so small, space travel was inevitable; largest polity has a substantial presence in orbit (about 1000 individuals or 6 tons).  Luckily for other species, virtually all technology is controlled by the tiny educated elite, which has severely stunted development.  Primitive nuclear weapons are in early development.  Contact is restricted by a biosecurity blockade (a exposure to a novel disease reservoir this big would be an extinction event due to their high biocompatibility with Earth-derived life).  Limited trade in cultural items through robotic intermediaries is permitted.  


4. THE WHITE-FEATHERED SPECIES

Horse-sized quadrupeds with long snake-like necks and sleek eyeless heads with hundreds of teeth and multiple dexterous tongues.  Omnivore that favors insects, fish, and plants but occasionally hunt larger prey by running it down and kicking it to death.  Live in the terminator of a tidally-locked world and accustomed to the dark; massive covering of feathers are used for hearing.  Have limited metal tools but make use of local flora and fauna to construct sturdy composite and ceramic tools.  All polities are preindustrial and slightly less violent than similar human states and more disposed to complex systems with a globe-spanning trade network.  Their music is utterly terrifying to the human ear.  After a few aborted attempts to chew on the first human explorers, peaceful contact was established.  Smuggled human technology is gradually destabilizing native political and economic structures. 


5. THE BOWER-BUILDING SPECIES

View large engineering projects as a sex thing.  Long-lived and relatively peaceful.  Many limbs and spiny carapaces.  Has not even reached industrial-age civilization but biosphere is rapidly approaching collapse due to the ecological impact of the largest projects (some stretch tens of kilometers and include dams and similar large structures).  Examination suggests that this species is an atavistic relative of the species that hollowed out the Black Plains.  Sociable and very interested in trade with humans to facilitate even bigger construction projects and stabilize local ecologies.  

ODDS AND ENDS: RANDOM WEAPONS, ARMOR, AND EQUIPMENT

 Stuff lying around in my notes.  As much for my reference as yours.


MELEE WEAPONS

PNEUMATIC RAM [800cr] -- 4d10; 2 charges per gas cartridge.  -10 to armor saves.  1mdmg if used on delicate vehicle components, break down most ordinary doors without a check.  Warden should punish misuse severely (e.g. use in vacuum without proper bracing will send you flying).

GAS SPIKE [250cr] -- 3d10 as the blade injects CO2 into wound; 5 charges per gas cartridge (when the gas canister is empty).  -5 vs armor saves.  On critical, target panics; a very cruel weapon. 

MONOBLADE [20kcr] -- 4d10, amputation on a critical hit, amputation of own limb on critical miss

RANGED WEAPONS

EMAG FLECHETTE [5kcr] -- 2d5 * 10; 3(6) shots.  Damage scales as combat shotgun without knockdown or knockback.  Completely silent. 

BURST FIRE SMART RIFLE [15kcr] -- 2d5 * 10; 2(5).  Bonuses as regular smart rifle.  

ARMOR

BONESUIT [200kcr] -- HERE

COMBAT SPACESUIT [20kcr] -- As Advanced Battledress but disadvantage on most fine-motor tasks; you won't be picking locks in this.  Can mount two oxygen tanks.  Integrated thruster pack provides advantage on some Zero-G checks.  

CONCEALABLE VEST [500cr] -- +5%; hard to spot.  

LIGHT INDUSTRIAL EXOSKELETON [1kcr] -- +5%, double carrying capacity

OTHER GEAR

SHAPED BREACHING CHARGE [200cr] -- Destroys most standard doors.  Damage as frag grenade to vehicles. 4d10 to anyone standing too close to the door.  


THE WHIZ, THE SCOUNDREL, AND THE APPRENTICE

 


Here are 3 more classes.  Do with them as you will.


THE WHIZ

Brilliant with a towering ego.  But when things don't go your way, everything is likely to come tumbling down around you.  You might be a skilled hacker or talented xenoarchaeologist but you are just as likely to be a superb sniper or ace pilot.  

"I AM INVINCIBLE!"
-Boris Grishenko, Goldeneye

STATS: +10 SPEED OR +10 INTELLECT

SAVES: 30/30/25/30

SKILLS: 1 or two Whiz skills; 3pts 

WHIZ SKILLS AND STRESS: Pick one master skill or two expert skills.  You gain an additional +5% when using that skill (or skills) but take 2 stress every time you fail a skill check.  On a critical failure, roll on the panic table.  


THE SCOUNDREL

You exist at the margins of society, badly adjusted to polite society and never able to fully settle down.  You're a bundle of unhealthy coping mechanisms and street smarts.  You might be a criminal but you're just as likely to be a hardboiled cop. 

Star Wars, Episode IV


STATS: +10 SPEED

SAVES: 35/30/35/30

SKILLS: Rimwise, PICK TWO: piloting, driving, athletics, computers, 2pts

STRESS: Your minimum stress can never drop below 3.  


THE APPRENTICE

Prospect


You are student, still carrying your technical manuals or educational tapes with you.  You are inexperienced, fragile, but bounce back much faster than others and adapt to your circumstances with surprising grace.

STATS: +5 to any ability (may pick during play); +5 to any ability if you reach level one

SAVES: 40/25/25/30 (if you reach level one, you may add +5 to either your body or fear save)

SKILLS: 3pts AND 2pts to spend during play.  If you reach level one, you gain one extra skill point) 

STRESS: You have advantage on fear saves to relieve stress and anyone else using psychology or theology to help you recover stress does so with advantage.  



Thursday, January 28, 2021

PUTTING SLEEVES TO PAPER

 I keep forgetting the stats for many of my most common sleeves.  Here they are.


HORIZON NEUROGEN "WEREWOLF" COMBAT SLEEVE

Image: Juho Laitila

The Werewolf is one of the most popular chimera sleeves despite its high price.  There are many companies that outcompete Horizon on cost but they've yet to match them on operator safety.  It is a proven design and the sleeve's temperament is well understood and unusually sociable to the point where most operators feel safe being around their children in the sleeve.  

STATS AND SAVES

STRENGTH -- 6d10+18

SPEED -- 6d10+5

COMBAT -- 6d10+10

BODY +4

FEAR +4

ABILITIES

  • [+] on checks involving senses 
  • Unarmed attacks deal 3d10 (reflecting multiple claw and bite attacks)
  • Brain is in the torso in an armored compartment
  • Recovery in 48 hours
  • IR vision and integrated phased-array radar (as IR goggles and bioscanner respectively) -- 1 cybernetic slot
  • Subdermal armor (+4%, stacks) -- 1 cybernetic slot (this is removable with the usual rules in APOF); generally armor and vacsuits designed for a combat sleeve cost 2-4x the normal cost and powered armor is unavailable.


BONESUIT

This is my take on APOF's exosuit. It's armor (not a sleeve) and it cuts back on the weirdness from using [+] on strength, which is too extreme in my opinion. 

STATS AND SAVES

STRENGTH -- +20 (maximum with increase is 65)

COMBAT -- +10

ARMOR -- +20

ABILITIES

  • 2x O2 tanks
  • Extra inventory slots

CONSOLIDATED ROBOTICS HESSIAN

Image: Lee Yeong Gyun

Consolidated makes sensible combat sleeves and sells them at sensible prices.  

STATS AND SAVES

STRENGTH -- 35 (fixed, if your class provides a strength bonus, you don't get it)

SPEED -- 30 (fixed but if your class provides a speed bonus, you still get it)

BODY -- 44 (fixed and can't be improved)

ARMOR 44 (fixed, can still wear armor)

ABILITIES

  • Integrated bodycam, IR sensors, and bioscanner
  • No head -- extendible sensor mast can extend one meter upwards
  • Immune to many environmental hazards such as vacuum, poisons, etc.
  • Internal oxygen supply for brain lasts 48 hours (48 hours from each extra oxygen tank)


INFILTRATOR CHASIS (ANDROIDS ONLY)

This isn't a true sleeve; it's an aftermarket kit that can be applied to any standard android. 

STATS AND SAVES

STRENGTH -- +5

COMBAT -- +5

ABILITIES

  • With 24 hours and appropriate specialized 3d printing technology and feedstock,  can alter appearance to mimic that of any human provided you have detailed reference images.  Can alter height from 160cm to 180cm and weight from 50kg to 100kg.  
  • Can mimic any voice you have heard before provided you have a suitable reference (at least one minute of recorded voice).
  • Unarmed attacks are treated as scalpel attacks

TWO MORE PREGENS (AND AN EXAMPLE WIZARD

ISSOUF (SCIENTIST) 

Human/Baseline

PATCH:

"Dead men tell great tales"; "A WIZARD DID IT"

TRINKET:

Banjo; Antique Pocket Watch

TRAIT:

Compulsive shopper; donates regularly to one strange charity

 

 

HP:

64

BASE STATS:

32/34/40/27

SLEEVE STATS:

N/A

 


BASE SAVES:

40/29/29/30

SLEEVE SAVES:

N/A

RESOLVE:

2

 

 

ANI & SPELLS:

Doom 1 (cured)

Spell Slots: 3, (3 base dice +1)

Spells known -- Shrivel, Go Forth And Multiply, Starve, Group Selection

Spells loaded into ANI -- Go Forth And Multiply, Starve, Group Selection

 

 

SKILLS:

Biology, Mathematics, Rimwise, Theology, Athletics, Magical Theory, Physics

 

 

CYBERNETICS:

Slicksocket (1), Deadswitch (1), TWO SLOTS UNUSED

 

Tier I ANI (s1, Red Equation), Tier II ANI (s1), Tier III ANI (s1), spell (s0)

 


 

 

EQUIPMENT:

INFILTRATION LOADOUT  (Includes, among other things, concealable

body armor, revolver, cutting torch, lockpicks)

Supplemental Processor

Battledress

Smartgun (1 magazine)

 

 

OTHER:

N/A




SOFIA (TEAMSTER) 

Human/Horizon Werewolf

PATCH:

Eye of Providence; "Lamb of God"

TRINKET:

EVA knife, blade melted to slag; Can of spray paint (fuligin)

TRAIT:

Makes unwise investments; retro style

 

 

HP:

96

BASE STATS:

N/A (Intellect 31)

SLEEVE STATS:         

43/28/31/46

 


BASE SAVES:

30/35/30/35

SLEEVE SAVES:

38/39/41/44

RESOLVE:

2

 

 

SLEEVE ABILITIES:

  • [+] on checks involving senses, 
  • IR vison, and integrated phased-array radar (counts as 1 cybernetic slot)
  • Subdermal armor -- +4%, reflected in stats (counts as 1 cybernetic slot)
  • Unarmed attacks deal 3d10 (reflecting multiple claw and bite attacks)

 

 

SKILLS:

Zero-G, Mechanical Repairs, Heavy Machinery, Archaeology, Mysticism, Xenoesotericism, Military Training  

 

 

CYBERNETICS:         

Terminal Jack, ONE SLOT UNUSED

 




 

 

EQUIPMENT:

EXTERMINATION LOADOUT, not carrying battledress 

Combat Vacsuit (not reflected in armor)

Gas spike (3d10 melee underwater or in space and may trigger panic on

critical success, armor penetration 5)

 

 

OTHER:

N/A

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

THE ARC'S DANCE

 Also not very Orthodox.  Use with care in a horror game -- maneuverability is a hell of a thing when you're being hunted.  


THE ARC'S DANCE


Beyond life there are'—his face grew ashen with terror—'things that I cannot distinguish. They move slowly through angles. They have no bodies, and they move slowly through outrageous angles...God, they are breaking through! They are breaking through! Smoke is pouring in from the corners of the wall. Their tongues—ahhh—

-Frank Belknap Long, The Hounds of Tindalos

Geometry is a hell of a thing.  While you don't understand the equations you use, (for that would lead to your doom) you can twist space itself to your own ends and in dire circumstances, walk the world itself.   


PERK

You can safely remain conscious in hyperspace (with the same restrictions as an android).  Like androids, you probably want to remain inside the ship at all times.

You can perform many complex mathematical operations in your head without a calculator, computer, or pad and pencil.  


DRAWBACK

Creatures that are familiar with the odd geometries you work with -- especially the Gaunt -- hate you with a singular, burning fury; you are an unnatural and hideous thing in their eyes.  


SPELLS

  1. HYPERSPACE STABALIZATION -- you may safely exit a spacecraft in hyperspace for [SUM] minutes.  You may safely cross through stable hyperspace portals created in a gravity well without taking damage (but you probably won't like what's on the other side).  You still take stress but make your sanity save with advantage.
  2. SECRET ROOM -- as Door Wizard except the room lasts for [SUM] * 5 minutes (rolled in secret!) and is only 10 x 10
  3. ALL THING ADJACENT -- as Door Wizard except ranged attacks are made with disadvantage (still great if you've got a combat shotgun).
  4. GRAVITATIONAL LENSING -- you can create a distortion in space that functions as a powerful telescope or microscope.  This shield can't be moved but protects against a single non-area attack (and dissipates).  3 dice creates a movable dice.
  5. LONG WALK -- you (and only you) are treated as twice as far from all visible enemies that you are aware of. 
  6. DISPLACE -- [SUM] * 3 damage as you rip microscopic bits out of your target
  7. SPATIAL TRICKERY -- one target acts at disadvantage on all rolls for [DICE] rounds as space conspires against them.
  8. CREEPING DISTORTION -- you infuse distortion in the fabric of reality with a piece of your will.  The distortion is visible but translucent and has ([DICE] * 10) +10 combat and instinct and [DICE] hits.  It lasts for [SUM] minutes.  The distortion is alive and acts independently. 
  9. CRUSH -- obliterate a single minor enemy with a gesture (costs a minimum of two dice).  May defeat any enemy with [DICE] - 1 hits or [DICE] - 2 hits if it also has HP.  If a creature can't be killed by this spell it suffers no effect.  
  10. ONE GIANT LEAP -- You teleport up to 5 meters provided you have an unobstructed path (1d); up to 20 meters (2d); up to 1km but take 4d10 damage, 1d10 stress (SANITY for half) (3d); or to any planet you have suitable jump coordinates (save at disadvantage or die, permanently reduce your minimum stress by 5, take 2d10 stress with no save, roll for panic, and suffer the class' second doom).  If you spend 5d, you may take all creatures within 10 feet of you (they suffer the same onerous effects including the effects of the second doom.  If you also roll a mishap, you suffer the third doom at your destination.   
EMBLEM SPELLS TBD -- maybe won't be used in the final incarnation of the magic system


MISHAPS



DOOMS
  1. Lose ability to cast for 1 day, begin to take up sculpture
  2. Lose ability to cast for 1d10 days, nightmares (Dead Planet p. 27)
  3. You finally understand hyperspace's dread geometry and in a brief moment of enlightenment are swallowed into hyperspace.  As a final act, make a sanity save.  If you fail your save, 2d10 gaunt pour through the tear in reality.  You may attempt to trigger this doom voluntarily.  If you do, you die and fail your sanity save.  Roll every magic dice you are entitled to +1 (including burned dice and dice from equipment).  If you roll triples, 2d10 gaunt appear and you are sucked into hyperspace.  If you fail, you just fry your brain (permanently dying).


 

MOSH WIZARDS: MISHAP TABLE

 

Unlike default GLOG, mishaps will adversely impact the caster and anyone friendly.  Magic is an untrustworthy thing.  Also, more is left to the Warden's discretion -- rulings over rules.  Fluff varies by caster.


MISHAPS

Roll d5

  1. Gain 1 stress and take d10 damage 
  2. Gain 1 stress, allies gain 1 stress each, roll panic (self only unless you're a Marine)
  3. Lose 1 casting die until the next long rest, gain 1 stress, allies gain 1 stress
  4. Agonizing pain, can't act for d5 rounds, gain stress equal to number of rounds incapacitated, allies save or gain 2 stress each
  5. Implant malfunction -- 2 stress, d10 damage, and roll for a random mutation, allies save or gain 2 stress each.

DOOMS

Dooms are more likely with d5s than d6s (duh).  Additionally, unlike GLOG, they are unavoidably fatal and usually present expensive medical complications or disconnection from reality for an extended period.  Don't compromise here!  Like a chimera, magic is powerful but increases the likelihood of permanent and irreversible death.  Such is the price of power.  

MOSH WIZARDS: THE SONG OF DUST

 

A little bit of the Doomguard from Planescape and the serious bits of the Goblin Filthomancer. This is a less orthodox wizard with some abilities that are very, very useful in a modern setting.  


THE SONG OF DUST

How much information is there on a sheet of printed paper?

There's the printed words, and all of their coded and uncoded meanings.  Perhaps the choice of font and ink can tell you about the era and region of origin.  The paper can tell stories, too, of trees and glue and grinding metal.

Now, tear the paper up.  Has the information increased or decreased?

A clever mind can match the edges, and a steady hand can reassemble them.  All of the original information is still there--and a great deal more.  What was the shape of the hand that tore the paper?  Fingers, claws, or blades?  Was the force strong or subtle?  Was the paper gnawed upon as if by vermin, or was it carefully folded before its trauma?

-Arnold K,  Goblin Punch 

Information lives forever.  Even as entropy marches ever onwards it is possible to trace its path.  Jumbling the pieces up is futile.  Practitioners of the Song of Dust are a singularly secretive group because their magical abilities present a fundamental threat to the cryptographical systems that underpin civilization in Known Space.  Most people don't know they exist at all.  Song of Dust ANIs are never available on the open market.  Unless you are a closely-watched corporate asset, the only way to get an ANI is to cut it out of somebody else's head.  Others will surely do the same to you if they learn of your secret.


PERK

Theories of Dust -- as goblin filthomancer.  No method of destruction can obscure the information contained in an object if all the pieces are there.  You can read a pile of dust that was once a book and see a pile of bones as they were in life (sometimes distressing).  Without using other magic, you can't interface with electronically stored data; you can just see the hard drive.


DRAWBACK

You carry priceless hardware in your head.  Many people would kill for it.  Keep your secret close to your chest.  


SPELLS

  1. DECREPITATE -- as filthomancer.
  2. DUST INTERFACE -- you may read computer data directly using with your mind, including with Theories of Dust.  Because the human mind was not designed for this sort of thing, take 8 - [SUM] stress.  More dice must be spent for particularly tricky data.  You can also spend an extra dice (which does not reduce your stress cost) to transfer this information to another storage medium
  3. SONGS OF ENTROPY -- provided you are connected to a functioning computer, you can break any encryption in hours (1d), minutes (2d), or immediately (3d).  You can't crack passwords in this way but if you have access to a part of a system where encrypted passwords are stored, you can discover them that way.  This ability may impose an additional stress cost and cannot defeat a substitution cipher.
  4. SCRAMBLE DATA -- render a computer unusable or force a fear save at disadvantage from an android or AI
  5. MAXWELL'S DEMON -- spontaneously self-organize molecules to change the energy state in an area.  1d creates minor changes (as air conditioner or heater), 2d creates moderate hazard, 3d creates major hazard.  Spending an extra dice extends duration from [DICE] minutes to [DICE] hours. 
  6. ENTROPIUM -- as filthomancer.
  7. MEND -- as filthomancer.
  8. TOUCH OF DUST -- disintegrate a circle on any inanimate object.  May deal [DICE] MDMG if use on a sensitive part of a ship or vehicle. Circle is 25cm in diameter and 2cm deep per dice.
  9. DISPLACEMENT FIELD -- + [SUM] to armor rolls as projectiles rapidly lose energy and claws and fists wither.  [DICE - 1]d10 damage to melee attackers.
  10. PSYCHOMETRY -- as filthomancer.
EMBLEM SPELLS TBD -- maybe won't be used in the final incarnation of the magic system


MISHAPS



DOOMS
  1. Visions of people in and things in earlier states and loss of casting for 1d10 hours.  Panic roll.
  2. Lose casting for 1d10 days, at least one panic roll per day and extreme difficulty distinguishing present from past.
  3. Dust-to-dust -- you die


 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

MOSH WIZARDS: THE RED EQUATION

 

This is a decidedly Orthodox wizard and it represents one of the most common varieties of magic and one that happens to line up with the Corps' ideologies.  Obviously, it's also adaptable to good old fashioned GLOG -- just change the dice around a little. 

It's not strictly based on Dan's Red Formula -- but it often seems that way.  


THE RED EQUATION 


But it's like we weren't made for this world
Though I wouldn't really want to meet someone who was
-Of Montreal, "The Past Is A Grotesque Animal"

Every self-replicating structure possesses an emergent and innate 'drive' to be fruitful and multiply from the tiniest prion to titanic emergent systems far beyond humanity's feeble understanding.  So too animals, corporations, and ideas.  But all this has an end-state of cold, uniform perfection.  Those who study the Red Equation have mastered this underlying optimizing principle of reality.  Many speak of vast and fecund gods of the Beyond or universe-spanning beings of cold, dead hydrogen stretching past the end of this universe, or idiot-savant algorithms.  


PERK
Weakest Link -- [+] on rolls to determine relative fitness of evolutionary systems.  Not usually useful against people (where fitness is not usually particularly important on a day-to-day basis) but a tremendous asset when picking stocks or optimizing machine learning algorithms.

Recovery can be accomplished in half the usual time.

DRAWBACK
[-] on any reaction roll where you need to present as friendly, caring, and well-adjusted.  You aren't necessarily a sociopath but have internalized the fact that things like cooperation and love are mere  instruments in the service of a greater goal.  You probably aren't very emotionally healthy.

SPELLS

  1. KNIT FLESH   --  Derived from HERE
  2. PERFECT FORM -- You look like a subjectively ideal member of the viewer's species (changing sex, gender, species, etc.) for [SUM TIME].  [+] on social rolls in most casual interactions unless they catch on to the fact that you look different to each viewer.  On two dice, may pick a single appearance of your choices and effect lasts longer.  On 3, may pick a single permanent appearance and the illusion becomes reality.  
  3. SHRIVEL -- Derived from HERE
  4. OPTIMIZE -- Add [???] to a one ability score, in addition to usual mishap on doubles or triples target suffers a minor mutation   
  5. GO FORTH AND MULTIPLY -- Target takes [???] damage (no save or attack roll) as you displace some of your cells into them.  These cells rapidly grow into a tumor, absorbing nutrients and heat to fuel their explosive growth.  While this tumor is intact, you know the approximate position of an infected creature.  Works on gaunts and plants, but not androids or inanimate objects.  
  6. STARVE -- redirect whatever energy creature or thing relies on.  Creatures have disadvantage on physical rolls for [SUM] turns, can extinguish fires, empty batteries, etc.
  7. MATERIALS AND ENERGY -- sustain yourself on magical power alone for minutes [1d], hours [2d], or days [3d].  Just because you don't need oxygen doesn't mean your lungs and eyeballs will be destroyed by vacuum.
  8. GROUP SELECTION -- advantage on rolls where a small group risks life and limb for others in that group.  Duration of [DICE*2] minutes.
  9. TOUCH OF PERFECTION -- [LARGE DAMAGE] as target touched is consumed by tumors.
  10. MASTERY OF SHAPE -- change form for [SUM TIME] into an alien creature ideally suited to one unusual or hostile environment (combat is a hostile environment).  Stat increases based on [2 * DICE * 10] points distributed in 10 point increments.  5 dice allows for permanent "resleeving" of a with 30 points to distribute.  All resleeving rules apply (including level loss as applicable). 
  11. MUTATE  -- Derrived from HERE
  12. HEAL --  Derived from HERE


MISHAPS

HERE


DOOMS

  1. You lose control of your cells.  Lose ability to cast for 1d10 days and lose 2d10 HP that can only be healed at a specialized medical facility as benign tumors grow all over your body. 
  2. Lose ability to cast for 1d10 weeks.  You will die of cancer in 2d5 months unless you receive (very expensive) medical treatment.
  3. You require major and very expensive medical treatment every d5 weeks or will die.  Cryosleep can slow but not stop this process.  If you ever roll doubles again you will die immediately. 



GLOG MAGIC IN MOSH (OR MAGIC IN SCI FI GLOG GAMES, I GUESS)

 

Despite my best efforts to create a relatively non-supernatural setting, I always come back to magic.  This is the first step; based very strongly of the GLOG wizard template.  This post assumes familiarity with those rules and with APOF's slickware installation rules.  


SPELLS AS SLICKWARE

For each 10 points of intellect, you may "install" one level of spell mastery.  Because (safely) manipulating magical forces is beyond the capabilities of an unaltered human mind, you need a slicksocket and installed software running in parallel to your regular neural processes to safely manipulate supernatural forces.  Technically, anybody can discover and even use an arcane secrets but without selectively turning off various important parts of your brain, it is not something a character is likely to survive.  

This means that unlike your stereotypical grey sage, wizards under these rules will gain power very quickly if they have access to the right knowledge.  Also, arcanosoftware can be (and usually is) patented and equipped with all kinds of horrible copy protection.  Likewise, wizards and corporations value their secrets and often leave booby-trapped spells.

Arcanosoftware does two things: (1) selectively shuts down portions of the brain when a user manipulates magical formulae and (2) creates a mental firewall that enables a wizard to look at a spell without committing it to long-term memory (which would fry their brain).  Arcanosoftware requires a terrific amount of data; the implant can only store the safety protocols for a limited number of spells at a time.  This is effectively equivalent to preparing a spell.  

The actual application of arcane information varies from user to user; there's always a personal touch.

ARCANOSOFTWARE

Tier 1 Arcano-Neural Interface (ANI) [200kcr, 1 slickslot] -- Select one magical "school." You have one spell slot, one casting dice, and may roll two 6-sided die to determine which two spells you initially know. 


Tier 2 ANI [400kcr, 1 slickslot, requires Tier 1 ANI] -- Gain an additional spell slot, an additional casting die, and roll an 8-sided die to learn a new spell.  Slickware installation roll not made at [+].  You can learn one more spell but must pay for it separately.


Tier 3 ANI [800kcr, 1 slickslot, requires Tier 2 ANI] -- Gain an additional spell slot, an additional casting die, and roll a 10-sided die to learn a new spell.  Slickware installation roll not made at [+].  You can learn one more spell but must pay for it separately.


Tier 4 ANI [1.2mcr, 1 slickslot, requires Tier 3 ANI] -- Gain an additional spell slot, an additional casting die, and roll a 12-sided die to learn a new spell.  Slickware installation roll made at [-].  You can learn one more spell but must pay for it separately.


Spell [50kcr, requires Tier 2 ANI or greater] -- roll a dice your ANI entitles you to roll (or a smaller dice if you wish) to learn a new spell.  


GEAR

Supplemental Processor  [100kcr] -- a bulky computer and power source designed to increase the power of spells.  Gain a magic dice.

Solid State Arcanostorage Device (SSAD) [10kcr * (2 * spell tier)] -- The only thing that can store something as data intensive as a spell and retrieve it in timescales measured in seconds (rather than hours) is alien computronium.  Unfortunately, the best way to get that is to kill gaunts and steal their brains.  SSADs are expensive and the rapid transmission of information slags them.  You can cast spells outside your template using an SSAD, however.  

Monday, January 25, 2021

CONLANGING FOR MOSH (SORT OF): UDEL

 


"Learn read Uniform Data Enter Language"

UDEL

This isn't a real conlang but it's great when you need to put something pretty on the side of your starship that isn't English.  Strictly speaking, UDEL is a cipher based on the Cistercian numeral system, which was used by medieval monks to number pages from 1 to 9999.  The cipher cross-references the Project Gutenberg corpus of the 10,000 most common English words and follows a few very simple grammatical rules and dispenses with some superfluous grammar. 

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IN-UNIVERSE HISTORY

UDEL did not start out as a language as such.  Rather, it was the creation of harried data-entry technicians who sought a more efficient way to input text into spreadsheets in a machine-readable format.  With only four strokes of the number keys, an experienced writer can enter all of the most common words in English (and its successors).  As corporate bureaucracy spread, so did UDEL and it gradually took on a life of its own among spacers, technicians, and corporate functionaries.  

UDEL is easy to transmit, information-dense, and extremely keyboard friendly, especially where a user does not have access to a full keyboard.  While the language is a parasite on the 27th-century ancestors of English (such as they are) and does not have an independent existence, tongue-in-cheek UDEL-derived compound words are very common among spacers, often displacing the original words (for example "straightlight" has displaced "laser" among spacers).    


GRAMMAR

UDEL generally follows English SVO word order but as it has developed as an independent written language, users often adapt the language to their own tastes.  Generally, UDEL disregards plurals, adverbs, and other guff in the corpus.  

READING ORDER:  Left-to-right and top-down.  Proper nouns in cartouches are read in the same manner.

ARTICLES:  Optional in informal use but present.  

PUNCTUATION:  As other ordinary 27th-century English relatives.  

PLURALS:  While most users dispense with plurals in casual use, when it's absolutely necessary, they either add a number or a word such as "many" before the noun or double up the noun (like various Malay languages).  For example, to say "he has demons," a UDEL writer would say either "he has many demon" or "he has demon demon."

PROPPER NOUNS:  Proper nouns are denoted with a cartouche.  UDEL tends to regard more things as proper nouns than ordinary English does.  While some common names exist in the Gutenberg corpus, they don't exist in the fictional cipher that UDEL would use in-universe.  Ideally names follow the etymological history where that exists.

COMPOUND WORDS:  Where UDEL's limited lexicon is not adequate, compound words may be used.  These words may be indicated with an underline if it is unclear that the combination of words is intended as a compound word.  This is one way to express things like chemical elements.  For example,  hydrogen is "ELEMENT 1" (2713; #0001).

NUMBERS:  When you need to write actual numbers with the numbers UDEL uses as characters, just rotate the Cistercian numerals right-side-up.  UDEL has a very strong preference for scientific notation and when representing large numbers without it, most users turn to Arabic numerals.  It's also possible to disregard the thousands place in the Cistercian numeral and write a large number like 23,900,000: "0023; 0900; 0000."  Optionally, the number may be underlined.  Decimals use a period.  

TENSE:  UDEL only uses infinitive form of verbs, tense expressed by context (as Mandarin). For example: "yesterday he eat [a] hamburger" instead of "he ate a hamburger."

POSESSIVE: UDEL uses a general purpose possessive particle similar to the Mandarin "的" (de).



EXAMPLES  


"TRADE 666 Broke Gods" 
(1115-0666-0845-1387)
This is a proper noun and a ship registration all in one!
"MILITARY Certain Sword Lady" (1026-0285-1070-0421)
Also a name and registration.
"Dull Theory Among Slaves" (1824-1773-0222-1670)






"I not like journey to shop"











Saturday, January 23, 2021

HOW MUCH DOES A SPACE STATION COST ANYWAY?

 I was curious  so I did some more napkin math.  I'm pleased that my numbers lined up with APOF's.  This should be useful if you want to see who'd build a large space station and how they'd pay for it.  We'll use the Dream as an example because it's the most accessible example.  We're using my setting assumptions which are probably more conservative than yours -- so a space station in your own setting is likely cheaper.


THE BASICS

The question of cost is really reducible to three separate questions: (1) how much does a space station cost per unit weight, (2) how much does living space weigh, (3) how much does financing cost.  We can figure out some upper and lower bounds on all of those values.

As before I shall assume that one credit is worth $4 USD.  

COST PER TON?

At worst, the cost to launch stuff into orbit provides an upper bound for the cost of a station.  Obviously, launching that much of anything from a deep gravity well is really dumb.  I assume launch costs of $5/kg (about $500 to send a person to orbit).  That's $5,000/ton (oof!).  At these prices labor and fabrication are negligible.  

Using some assumptions about orbital launch and propulsion that aren't really worth elaborating on unless someone is really interested, I assume it takes about 4x less energy to move stuff from the asteroid belt to geosynchronous orbit around an Earthlike world.  Because the energy of extracting stuff is probably equal to the cost of moving it, let's say it's half as much or $2,500/ton.  Again, ignore labor costs. Everything except finishing is probably automated anyway.

Now, if you're located somewhere where power or energy is cheap (asteroid belt, Mercury), you can probably ignore one value.  So 4x cheaper ($1,250/ton).  This is probably the right value.  If you're building a station in a low-orbit asteroid belt or using especially efficient propulsion to get asteroids from A to B it's even cheaper! 

For what it's worth, a regular ordinary American house costs somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000 per ton depending on where the house is located and the style.  Not really very relevant but interesting all the same. 


HOW MUCH DOES IT WEIGH?

An O'Neil Cylinder weighs about 7.5 tons per square meter assuming half is windows and a relatively inefficient design (oof!).

The ISS weighs about 120kg/cubic meter (not much empty space!).

A house weighs about 33kg/cubic meter (plenty of empty space!)

Let's go with 50kg/cubic meter.  A space station has a lot more empty space than the ISS (and also more than a house) but it's also a center of industry etc. and saving weight isn't cost effective (making the ISS as light as it is costs a lot of money which is justifiable when you pay $3,000 to $12,000 dollars per kilogram to launch something into orbit).   

If you look at the Dream, you get between 500 and 1,000 cubic meters per person including space that's not used for living and the Choke.  Maybe a bit more.  We'll assume 1,000 cubic meters.  This comes to about 50 tons per person. Obviously not all of this space is for living.  


FINANCING?

Interest rates vary depending on how secure an investment like a space station is.  It's somewhere between 1% and 10%.  Depending on the size of the station and the length of the loan, high interest rates may make a project nonviable.  I shall assume 2%; lenders will expect that whoever is running the station will be able to charge rent, collect taxes, etc. This is probably too low in the Rim but we want space stations to exist.

Obviously, equity financing is probably preferable here, but better to stick to the pessimistic alternative for the purposes of this article.


WORKED EXAMPLE: THE DREAM

Population of 8.7 million.  Let's round up to 500 million tons.  That's about 625 BILLION dollars.  Sounds like a lot.  It actually isn't.  Manhattan has a population of about 1.6 million.  And the value of all land in Manhattan is about 1.4 trillion dollars.  If you have the energy and population, making a station like the Dream actually looks like a pretty solid investment if you disregard interest rates.

If you do include interest rates it costs about 2.5x more (50 year bonds with 2% yield).  About as much as Manhattan ($1.562 trillion)!  Only you can distribute the cost to about 4x as many people.

In any case, Yandee, Tempest, and every other stakeholder need to bring in about 32 billion dollars per year to pay the down the bonds financing the Dream.  Not actually very much money but obviously the Dream also has to provide other services and infrastructure.  The "oxygen tax" (10cr/day) on the dream is equivalent to about $15,000 per year (oof).  Counting only the people who are paying, that alone brings in $84 BILLION DOLLARS.  Should cover the station, security, and whatever services the Golyano Il Bratva deems essential (trial by combat is essential).  

In other words, Prospero's Dream is a moneymaking machine.  It's a superb investment in a setting where there's enough infrastructure to make projects like this feasible.


CONCLUSIONS

Bigger stations cost less per ton.  An O'Neil cylinder costs about $5.625 trillion.  It's a lot but the type of people undertaking that project can probably get a very good interest rate.  It's certainly within the realm of possibility for a large megacorporation or a joint venture.  

However, most stations are likely to be smaller unless they're located in places where building a large structure is a lot cheaper.