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Friday, October 21, 2016

Long Range Desert Grotesque

As the Allied forces in North Africa began successful operations against the Afrika Corps the Axis command decided to think out of the box. Due the difficulties of resupply across the Mediterranean a local source of reinforcements was investigated by Ahnenerbe specialists and S.S. wizards. The circles were drawn, the tanna leaves brewed, and the rites performed in forgotten tombs.

The new recruits were tireless, superhumanly strong and needed no food or water. They traveled with surprising speed over the desert dunes on their bandage wrapped feet in a stride that never faltered

Lesser mummies vary greatly in strength and capabilities and may have from 2 to 4 hit dice. Unlike most undead they have no fear of sunlight. They take only half damage from bullet or explosions since they no longer have working internal organs. Their bandages provide two points of armor per hit die. Fire is their greatest weakness. Any flame attack does double damage and 1d4 the round after hitting.

Lesser mummies are almost mindless creatures completely in control of the necromancer who raised them.

Greater mummies were wizards and priests seeking immortality and not undead so much as reanimated. They are at least 6 hit dice. Some can cast spells as a wizard of their level if you use The Black Hack rules. At the start of an adventure greater mummies have only 2 hit points per hit die. They can rapidly increase their hit points by using a life drain ability. To drain life the mummy must grab its victim (Strength save to avoid). If the grab hits on the following round, and until the victim breaks free, the mummy does maximum damage and its hit points are increased by one point per hit die (up to a maximum of 8 points per hit die). Unimportant non-player characters could be considered
killed instantly if grabbed (no benefit to the mummy).

A greater mummy has numerous amulets and charms animating and protecting it. Flame attacks do normal damage. Instead of armor points these charms and their enchanted bandages have a d8 usage die. Each attack forces a usage die roll. The mummy takes no damage until their charms and bandages are depleted. A greater mummy (especially one with access to spells) is a foe worthy of the most experienced troops with heavy weapons or magical resources.

Don't forget to add a few cultists or guards in case your greater mummies get hungry.

Poll Positions

I've been writing game designs here for a while and I noticed my narratives are increasing in length. I've personally had a low tolerance for people sticking narratives into games. I'm buying a game sell me a game. Don't add the first chapter of your never to be completed novel into it. Perhaps I'm a little harsh in that.

In my defense I'm not charging you anything for my ideas and game stats so look at the narratives as a little something extra you could take or leave if they aren't to your liking.

Feedback on my Hawking Courier book was very positive for the format and narratives. Personally I like to give you a writing piece that will help you enlarge your sandbox of play and give you more ideas, not just show you I can write (anyone can write, it's writing well that is the problem).

So a short poll and be brutal:

Keep the narratives

Lose the narratives and write more crunch

Write more crunch and write a damned book already

Keep everything as it is but make removing puns my first Patreon goal (note, no Patreon account yet)

The Immoral Equivalent of War

Dame Ranna, one of the younger and more hellacious Tech Knights made a decision. She loved her homeworld, Zaonia. She'd already lost an eye in its defense. She knew the people were clever and tough and that soon none of that would matter. Zaonia was failing to progress technologically and surrounded by star drive capable worlds.

The longer Zaonia waited playing with internal combustion and vacuum tubes the less likely it would ever amount to anything in the face of more advanced and expanding worlds. There was a glimmer of hope. Old Earth had gone from Zaonia's level of technology to interplanetary flight in about a century and it didn't have more advanced neighbors to steal from emulate.

Earth however made a good deal of its progress due to two global wars. A costly but certain spur to progress. Ranna needed something similar. Then she started the buzz. The offworlders considered Zaonians backward, a stupid pastoral people. There was some truth. Most offworlders who knew Zaonians respected them. A few were a little scared of them. They had achieved lifter technology with their vacuum tubes, at least on a limited basis. It was easy to discount their opinions. They were friends and clients. But those other nameless and faceless offworlders ... they had an attitude according to Ranna.

Her half truth worked wonders. If someone insulted their customs or theology the Zaonians would haul off and give them a poke in the eye. But saying they could build things better, faster more powerful? They were up for that! They'd prove to them they weren't stupid the only way that mattered. They'd build their own spacecraft, even build a real jump ship! A race to space would replace war as a driving force for human advancement.

Call a man a heathen or slob and he'd argue with you. Tell him he can't do something and he'd kill himself to make a monkey out of you.

Ranna expected developing spacecraft to be a long drawn out affair. In fact developing them was unimportant to her and her vision. She expected technology from the research to trickle down and spur inventors and engineers on a planet wide scale. Unfortunately her plan hit a snag.

The Zaonians figured out a way to actually build a spaceship in the next few years. That was when the various parties interested in keeping starship construction their monopoly sat up did a spit take and started making plans of their own.

The cutting the brake lines on Dame Ranna's roadster was the first sign of their disapproval.

To be continued ...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Automat-ic Assumption

The Inerzan merchant looked a little sinister though it wasn't his fault. A black scarf covered his lower face. red locks framed his dark face and intense green eyes.  He gestured angrily at Mayor Burns but his voice was more controlled.

"So you honor, respectfully, I want my loving money back!" he concluded.

Mayor Burns looked at him from across a truly massive desk of the local stone wood. He steepled his fingers thoughtfully and then called on his intercom. "Jorge, please bring in Mr. Prigo."

Jorge Pierre Guttman ushered the local in. The merchant noted the young man's hair and complexion, so similar to his own and frowned slightly at his unmasked face. A handsome fellow to be so unsanitary. On Inerze a new virus broke out every few weeks in the crowded arcologies.

Steen Prigo sat down haevily and the Mayor bristled at him, "I ain't told you to sit. We're ending this little scam right now. No need to take a load off. Get up!" Prigo sprung to his feet.

"Okay, speak to me. What's your side of this?"

Prigo began sweating, "Yer honor, I run a clean joint and a honest establishment. Mr. Xibalboa here comes in with his crew to eat up and throw a few credits around ... we got a special: berry pie for a quarter credit a slice ..."

"Can the commercial."

"Right. Well they're sitting around and talking with the locals and this guy ... Mr. Xibalboa asks to see the owner. I come out ask what's what and it turns out everything is fine. He's watching my customers all throwing coins in slots and pulling our pot roast and chicken and dumpling and ... sorry. He's watching them all pay and pull the entrees out the little compartments and he says he wants to invest in the place. Me ... I want to put in a salad bar but sneeze guards cost ya ..."

"So you made a deal and took his money?"

"Natch ... er yes. That was yesterday, I dunno what his beef is today! Incidentally: beef ribs on speci ..."

"Clamp it Prigo. All right Mr. Xibalboa ... what seems to be the nature of your complaint?"

The Inerzan took a deep breath. "I was misinformed! Lied to!"

"I ain't lied to you! You wanted to know what we took in and I showed you the books! You quoted the number and I agreed! Ya grim reaper wannabee!" Prigo hollered.

"All right! Mr. Xibalboa ... what was the problem?"

"Mayor Burns ... you note my face mask? My gloves? My people pride themselves on the sanitary habits."

"Ya could use a roll on ... with the rest of your crew!"

"Dirt eater!"

"Aaaah, ya get a banjo with that outfit?"

"Well ... wait ... what?"

"QUIET!" the Mayor bellowed. "Mr. Xibalboa ... I try to extend every courtesy to our offworld merchants and the clients for our various services. We pride ourselves on being patient and understanding with other cultures ... but spill it awreddy! What's your complaint?!"

"Well the little windows, the coin operated meals ... I thought the place was ..." Xibalboa's answer trailed off and was muffled by his scarf. The Mayor fixed a stare on him until the tall ginger offworlder spoke in a rush.

"I thought the food was all prepped and served by robotics behind the walls! I had no idea people did all that work in a kitchen! The idea of eating food prepared by human hands ... no thank you. My gorge rises. It is not a fit enterprise for me. My reputation ... This man tried to make me think the place was run by robots! Even the name: automat! Implies robotics! I thought it amazing this little backwater had robots."

"We got a whole gang of them, the Clank Tanks ..." Prigo was going to mention the Clank Tank gang's last daring bank job but a look from the Mayor silenced him.

"Give him back the money."

"I spent it on the sneeze guard!"

"All of it?"

"Well the sneeze guard and salad. High end ingredients," Prigo explained. Xibalboa shuddered at the mention of sneeze guard.

Mayor Burns rubbed his eyes. "All right Mr. Xibalboa ... I'm going to give you your money back from city funds. Then Mr. Prigo, you and I are going to work out a payment plan for your salad bar."

"Thank you, your honor. May I return to my ship?"

"Please do. I'll send the check to you ... oh all right, the cash to you within the hour."

The tall Inerzan rose, and departed with a stiff bow. The Mayor regarded the budding restauranteur sourly. "You ... better get to the starport and find another offworlder to invest and pay me back. Fast. I'm giving you two months."

"Yes your honor. Thanks your honor!"

"And city employees get ten percent knocked off!"

"Sure your honor! What about the Tech Knights?

"I said city employees. When did that bunch ever do a day's work? Besides they can strongarm their own deals. And send up one of those berry pies!" the Mayor added.

"On the house yer honor," Prigo said retreating expeditiously.

"He thought we had robots ... almost a sin to leave offworlders' money in their pockets," the Mayor muttered.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Black (Lagoon) Hack!

A hidden lagoon in the jungles of Brazil; holds a secret - a monstrous creature half man and half fish. The creature runs amuck on an isolated rubber plantation, a plantation owned by Japanese expatriots. Some of these still have strong ties to their homeland and a message is sent. This is a creature that could cause havoc to the enemies of the Rising Sun.

The creature is captured and subdued using explosive charges and torches. A U-Boat is despatched from the Third Reich to bring a horrific cargo to Florida.

The Man-Fish
The Man-Fish is a 5 HD creature. Its alligator like skin absorbs four points of damage. It has 1d10 usage die to represent its limited endurance out of water. The creature's level for making or avoiding attacks on it  is considered to be half the highest number on its usage die, so it starts at 5 (1d10), then becomes 4 (1d8), 3 (1d6) etc to a minimum of 2 (1d4). The usage die is rolled every minute of normal activity, every moment of combat.

The creature is extremely cunning and stealthy. characters may be called on for a Wisdom or Intelligence save to detect a sneak attack by it. If they fail the roll the creature's claws do double damage.

Fighting the creature under water is not advised. Characters foolish enough to fight it in its element roll with disadvantage to hit, block or do damage. Even going near the water is dangerous as the creature can still make a sneak attack and the saves to detect it are rolled with disadvantage.

The Man-Fish is incredibly strong, able to overturn a car or fling a grown man like a doll. It is also able to make 10-20' leaps out of water of any depth over its head.

Attacks with flame or electricity allow a character to make a Charisma save to drive the creature away or at least keep it at bay.

It is unknown if the monster is a unique relic or a small population of them exists deep in the jungle. Their cognitive ability is also unknown. They may be trainable as underwater shock troops. for that matter the creature itself might be a victim of cruel men and more docile than initially reported.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Coffee and Nobility

"Sit yourself down and have some breakfast, we got time to spare," Mayor Louie said gesturing grandly. The grand gesture went unnoticed by the crowd at the counter. They were more interested in their coffee and eggs. His driver, Jorge Pierre Guttman sat down and doffed his Taxi cap with some misgivings. Red dreadlocks spilled out to cover his shoulders.

"C'mon ... my treat. What's the problem? I got you by the hour today ... this is a democracy ain't it?" the Mayor snapped, grabbing the ketchup near him.

"Actually we're listed as a feudal technocracy run by an oligarchy," Jorge said slowly.

"Yeah yeah them guys run the big stuff. I deal with the day to day stuff and my part is a democracy!" the Mayor answered, putting too much ketchup on his eggs. He regarded his half drowned eggs sourly before he added the home fries to the mixture and began eating.

"I don't know how the Tech Knights would feel about your assessment your honor," Jorge said as the waiter filled his coffee mug.

"Ah screw 'em. They want to keep a lock on too much technology. They should get some outside opinions. Get around a little. Rub some shoulders. Press the flesh," the Muttered between forkfuls of eggs.

"Why don't you stop complaining so much? Some of us just want to eat our breakfast," crabbed a woman hidden behind a newspaper.

"Don't you tell me to shut up!"

"I'll tell you plenty! Shuddup before you get a poke in the nose," she rejoined turning to the sports page.

"Oh yeah? Who's going to do it?"

"Me! I'll come right over there and bop you."

"Oh yeah? And how are you going to get back to your seat?"


"Meh," Louie responded, using little of his oratory skill.

"Good coffee," Jorge ventured cautiously.

"Louie, pass me the sugar please," Ranna said suddenly changing her tone.

"Sure thing. Ready for your speech?" the Mayor asked.

"I am now. Thanks!" Dame Ranna got up. As she did a tall skinny man in uniform appeared behind her to drape her coat over her shoulders. "Thank you, Beppo." The man nodded curtly and followed her out into the street. Another uniformed man joined them and Dame Ranna strolled in the clear autumn sunlight towards the main plaza.

"What ... " Jorge began.

"It's her cure for stage fright. We have a little tiff before she goes on. She's an all right Dame."

"Someone could get the wrong idea," Jorge said sipping the strong coffee.

"Already happened. She forgot to tell Beppo the first time and he nearly shoved that scattergun down my throat when I called her a ham fisted tyrant."

Transcript of Tech Knight Senior Dame Ranna Morrigan at Zao Plaza, Life Day Speech

"They call us backward because we drive cars and fly propellor planes. Our electronics are primitive because they use tubes and transistors. Our phones have wires and dials. Our media is sound only or black and white. One of those offworld fools laughed himself sick watching me ride a horse once into the starport."

"We have our merchant fleet made of ships built offworld. That is the answer to many planets, buy it from offworld. That is what the great corporations and banks want, to make consumers and workers of us all, their workers! That is not our way. We build it and we own it. It is time to send a message to these spacers, that we are every bit as good as they are! We are building a rocket!"

"Think about it ... mankind was no more advanced than we are now once ... centuries ago. they made that leap into space with far less knowledge than we have now. We know how it was done. We have Belters ready to sell us materials in bulk, not just steel and titanium but fissionables. We have basic lifter technology. We can get to orbit and beyond in a ship build solely on this planet! We are going to do this. It will be hard. It will be expensive. We won't see a profit from this ship. Our grandchildren will. We will spread to the stars again in our our ships built by our own hands and we will be no one's slaves!!"


There is something afoot in any Traveller setting that uses the the standard starport system. Either interstellar travel is way less common than actual play and most settings suggest or something is happening with starship construction. There's a definite shortage of starports capable of producing starships. That shortage is even greater if you look at whether a world with shipyards also has a population and technology level that supports building a number of ships with many being marked for export. In fact I think on average 2-3 worlds per subsector will control the bulk of ship production despite other worlds having higher technology or population.

I think the reason boils down to control. certain people (like the Company) want to restrict and control space travel and private enterprise or exploration of space. They deliberately restrict the number and quality of of shipyards in a subsector. They have a very simple way to do this. They sell starships.

Building a starship or even a shuttle is a complex enterprise. It's way easier buying one (if you don't mind paying 220% of its value in the long run). Build the ships, sell the ships and free up that industry to other things, like luxury items to keep people from wondering where the hell the post scarcity economy went. Worlds that are not habitable could put that industry to work terraforming or building bigger and better habitats. Balkanized worlds might have enemies close by that require defense plants.

In a few years universities won't even offer courses to become a naval architect. those who want to become naval architects will have to travel off planet for education and discover most employment opportunities are at existing shipyards.

It's a delicate system. The ship builders do not want people realizing they too could work their way into space. Let alone that they have technology (like lifters) that will make such a leap easier than it was for the homeworld to take those first steps. It is a fragile lie and one planet or even a few exceptional people might shatter it and usher in holy Hell (from the powers that be perspective).

Friday, October 14, 2016

Man Made Horrors

I haven't done a post for The Front or  the Black Hack for a while. I'm very find of creatures and monsters in a WW2 game and what better place for science to go awry?

I meant to use these ages ago but the WW2 Champions game I ran fell by the wayside and I don't stat up characters for theHero system for fun so here goes using TBH and The Front!

Blitz Truppen
Blitz truppen began as recruits that tested for an abnormally high resistance to electrical shock. Under the program the recruits were given mutagenic substances and progressively larger electrical shocks until they began to depend on them much as an addict does his daily dose. When powered down blitz truppen are normal if lethargic humans. They can absorb electrical power to raise their strength and endurance to superhuman levels. They remain very susceptible to orders from those controlling their electrical power source and behave in a zombie like fashion.

Blitz truppen are 4 HD monsters and use the rules for Powerful Opponents. In addition they wear insulating suits that are equivalent to leather armor. When this suit is shredded by edged melee weapons or natural weapons like claws the trooper loses 1 HD every other moment. Attacking  blitz truppen with metal melee weapons does 1d4 damage to the attacker on a successful hit.

Player Characters (Electric Troopers)
Some experimental subjects on both the Allied and Axis forces were able to absorb and control larger amounts of electricity and combat the lethargy between treatments, remaining aware and independent. Their powers at various levels are written up using the format I began with here.

This assumes the character is wearing a special containment suit to contain their power. The containments suits are fairly ordinary insulating suits and provide 4 pts. of armor. Bullets ignore this armor. Without a containment suit a character's usage die is reduced one size.

Usage die 1d6
The character has advantage making strength rolls to hit and damage. The power functions as an additional 2 pts. of armor if a containment suit is worn. The usage die is rolled to represent depleting the electrical energy (going through water, being stuck with a metal object etc. If the die is reduced to to zero (note it gets reduced to 1d4 first) the character had disadvantage on strength rolls until he powers up again. A character with a low power level can generate an electrical shock affecting 1d4 close targets. this requires an immediate usage die roll to check for depletion. Attacking the character with a metal weapon causes damage to the attacker equal to their current usage die.

Usage die 1d8
As above except the power gives 4 pts. of amor. The character can generate an electrical shock causing damage equal to his current usage die to 1d4 close targets.

Usage die 1d10
As above except the power provides 6 pts. of armor. In addition the character can fire an electrical bolt to nearby range causing damage to one target equal to their current usage die. This automatically drops the usage die to the next smallest.

It's up the the Gm how much electrical power Electric Soldiers need to recharge. Low and Paranormal levels might revoer with house current in a few hours. Superhuman levels might require a power station or laboratory for full recovery (but work at Paranormal levels till then).

Special- a genius type working behind the lines could construct a containment suit that magnifies a character's power bringing the usage die up one size.