Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dieselpunk Campaign In a Nutshell

I generated the following background for a dieselpunk setting. Comments in parentheses are variations I invented because I can't leave anything short and simple. 

Setting One: The Atomic Gangsters!
The rolls: Earth is mostly ruins with strict rationing. It is menaced by gangsters who want to rule mankind. The Earth is defended by heroes. Under technology I rolled up superconductors and insulators as well as exo-armor (human tanks) and intelligent robots. The heroes also have state of the art equipment made with ultralight alloys, and at least one member with psychic abilities. Technology does not show a high degree of automation for reasons I go into below.

Earth is mostly in ruins, recovering from an atomic war in the past century. Life is hard and many items like food and water are rationed by government orders. Nutrition depends on food tablets for most of the diet (carrying supplies is not a problem, you can carry a week's rations in your jacket).

Energy weapons and energy resistant armor is very common (bonus to damage and armor for energy weapons and their defenses). People traveling any length of time on the surface use exoarmor. The city dwelling humans also have fairly intelligent robots (robot PCs may be possible)to help them rebuild society and attempt to civilize the ‘wild people’ living in the wastes. (I made up the part about savages in the ruins, you could use them as player characters or even a career or class if your system runs towards that).

There is very little automation in day to day life. The robots are reserved for important projects in the ruins. In addition there is a large number of refugees from the wilds who need gainful employment to truly become civilized (this is more for color, telephone and other media exchanges have hordes of operators, servers wait on you hand and foot in restaurants and so on. Getting laborers for an expedition is possible and cheap. However, laborers might run away while robots will not.)

Society is menaced by futuristic gangsters calling themselves warlords who have fortified underground bases in the wastelands. So far they have proved impossible to assault directly due to their numbers and large settlements of innocent people that spring up around their stronghold entrances seeking protection, food and water. (In a black and white world the Earth government is Good and the warlords Evil. Or are they? Perhaps the earth government s completely corrupt, creating various shortages to keep the public in line, welcoming refugees, then virtually enslaving them and scheming away. Warlords could be rebels. Calling them rebels would tip off more would be rebels to join them. The Earth government calls them warlords to foster an image of brutality. The 'warlords' attempt to keep the poor and starving fed and away from the government 'education programs' that make slaves of them. While we're at it: what's IN those damned pills?!)

The gangsters want to eventually rule all of mankind. (Or if you go with my spin theory above they want everyone under their relatively benign rule and the current regime destroyed). The gangsters are opposed by a band of heroes with special technology based out of an old ruin who are kept informed by a warning system the surviving cities are linked to. These heroes have developed ultralight steel for their weapons, armor and vehicles making them far faster and maneuverable than the gangster forces. They also have high powered 'solium' fuel that lets their vehicles and robots have much greater range as well as a psychic who can give them a few minutes warning of the gangster attacks. (Obviously the head gangsters should have mind reading proof helmets to prevent the heroes from learning their big plans -an excuse to roll up fancy helmets. (The 'heroes' are in for a surprise if the Earth's government lied to them when they remove a gangster's helmet!)

The gangsters have numbers and brutality on their side but can’t find the heroes’ base. If they did all would be lost. (If the Earth's government is the corrupt one or just corrupt the 'gangsters' ' numbers and brutality might be greatly exaggerated.)

Space travel is not developed yet. (With superconductors, super insulators, high energy fuels and lightweight alloys it is certainly possible in the near future or even immediately, at least to the Moon. If the Moon has useful resources it will be developed even faster. (Hint: I rolled up a subterranean world for it. The first explorers are going to be adventuring!)

Rules Systems
Open d6 is a quick and clean system for running adventures. It originally was the engine of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game from West End Games. It's qualifications for running space opera are unquestionable.

White Star is also a quick clean system with plenty of space opera material. Just change the focus from an entire galaxy to the solar system. Really nine planets, a possibly hollow Earth and 30+ moons and asteroids aren't enough for a couple of years of play at least?

Cepheus Engine is another system that is easy enough and quite good for simulating a variety of different technologies. It takes a more hard science approach to technology but some imagination (and Dieselpunk in a Nutshell!) can remedy that.

D.E.C.O. system by the sadly inactive Heliograph Games was designed to run adventures in the Zappelin Age (I wish I'd thought of that term). If you can track down a copy of their Airship Troopers on the Volcanic Island of Dinosaur Doom (if that title isn't enough to get you looking ...) it has a neat little system with FUDGE and Open d6 conversions.

Atomic Rockets obligatory link:
Winchell Chung's inimitable website is geared for writers and referees who want to tell stories that respect hard science. For the rest of us the site has tons of images from the era and notes about various handwavium and unobtainium equipment. This is great if you want to know exactly where you started to BS in your background. He also quotes a number of bloggers (AHEM) with ideas for world building.