2020/05/16

OSR: Extra Ultraviolet Grasslands Vehicle Upgrades

Here are some extra vehicle rules for Ultraviolet Grasslands. Fuel costs are here. Normally I try to provide attribution for images, but in this case there are just too many. If you want to track down sources you're on your own.

Guzzolene-powered vehicles are sturdy, simple, and easy to maintain. A self-driving golem needs a Golemmafex. A biomechanical beast needs a Fleshcrafter. But a simple vehicle that drinks distilled hydrocarbons and spits out fire and speed can be maintained with a hammer, some wire, and a some luck, provided you don't care about safety or environmental standards. In the Ultraviolet Grasslands smog is the least of your worries.
Side Note: I think everyone should try to own a truly terrible gasoline vehicle built between 1940 (when people figured out how to make vehicles that worked) and 1977 (when people figured out how to make vehicles fancy). You'll learn a lot. Find something that sort-of runs or could potentially run, fix it just enough so that it does run, and drive it until it doesn't run anymore and is too expensive to fix.
Remember, anything built before the invention of safety is intrinsically safe.
OC, based on the wisdom of the ancients.
Any upgrade for a smaller vehicle can be purchased for a larger vehicle at double the cost (so putting a Gun Mount on a Road Yacht costs €100, etc.). Some upgrades might not make sense, so talk to your GM.

Upgrades are a great way for a group to sink extra cash into a shared project.

The mechanical logic is simple. Everything is expensive. If it takes up space in a vehicle, it reduces the vehicle's capacity by the number of Sacks listed. A Sack is 10 inventory slots, 1 person, 1 person's inventory, or 1 week of food and water for 1 person.

I haven't put any vehicle combat rules here. If you need them, try Gaslands or something, or just make a bunch of rulings on the fly. Vehicle-on-vehicle fights are more about mobile terrain anyway.

Metal Steeds - One-Way Ticket To Organ Donation

Capacity: 2 Sacks
Cost: €1,200
If it's 90% engine, 8% wheels, and 2% seat, it's a Metal Steed. No space for supplies, no room for error. Goes like the absolutely clappers. The best are air-breathing, like wicker autogolems, and require no fuel. Most need 1 Supply of fuel every 2 weeks.

Metal Steed Addons:

Gun Mount: €50
Lets the rider fire 1 weapon while riding at full speed. The weapon must fit in the rider's inventory (part of the 2-sack capacity). Attaching or detaching it takes 2 rounds.

Sidecar: €500
Increases capacity by 1 Sack, but loses the Fast trait.

Aquatic: €1,000
Sometimes, all the good loot is buried at the bottom of a lake. The vehicle can no longer operate on the surface, but it can move underwater. It's not a proper submarine, with rooms and torpedo tubes and all of that. It's just a pressurized pod with an engines on it, a diving suit with attitude. The driver can wiggle their arms through thick diving gloves. Only works on Metal Steeds.

Gyrocoptic! €1,000
Flying in the Ultraviolet Grasslands is a bad idea. Bits of invisible stuckforce shred aircraft. Purple haze rots your brain. Dormant anti-missile defense systems wake up, think "oh, that looks interesting" and blows you out of the sky. Still it beats walking. A caravan with a flying vehicle gains 30 minute advanced warning against most encounters. Flying vehicles ignore terrain. Only works on Metal Steeds.

Wicker Autowagon - Witness Me!

Capacity: 3 Sacks
Cost: €2,000
A little bit bigger, a little bit sturdier, and a whole lot dryer in the rain. Some are literally made of wicker, some just look like they are. If you can fit 2 people in the front seats and some cold snacks in the back, you've got a Wicker Autowagon. Some are small enough that air-powered engines can haul them, but if you can't afford one, or you want a little more oomph, fuelled engines are the way to go. A non-air-powered Wicker Autowagon sips 1 Supply of fuel every 2 weeks.
 
Wicker Autowagon Addons:
 
Nitro:
€50 per use

For up to 1 minute, the vehicle moves at Ludicrous Speed.

Snazzy Paintjob: €100
Shiny and polished. Options include, if normal colours aren't good enough for you: Scarabeo, Pearl-Tone, Fordite Swirl Supreme, Vantablack, Gibbon, Taupeamarine, and Splunge.

Jet Booster: €1,000
Occupies 1 Sack. About the dumbest idea imaginable, but the first thing anyone tries when they find a jet engine from a bunker. For up to 10 minutes, the vehicle moves at Ludicrous Speed. Gaps smaller than 30' can be safely ignored. Uses up almost all the vehicle's stored fuel. After firing, the vehicle has 30 minutes of safe driving left. Proper Oldtech Jet Fuel lets the vehicle can use this ability twice on one Supply of fuel.

Dropper: €300
Occupies 1 Sack. The back of the vehicle opens up and drops something. Could be a mine, some trained assassin-skeletons on rollerskates, a bunch of oil, some skulls stuffed with hornets, or just a whole bunch of scrap metal. The Sack occupied by the Dropper includes whatever you load into it. For an extra €100, the Dropper can launch stuff forward or sideways instead, becoming an ejector seat or a compressed air cannon.

Hover Wheels: €1,000
The vehicle floats on billowing air-jets, stuckforce discs, or dozens of spinning propeller blades. It's not practical but it is cool. Ignores mildly difficult terrain.

Hood Ornament: €100
Shiny, chrome, and, in emergencies, a good thing to cling on to.
 


Road Yacht - Justified and Ancient

Capacity: 6 Sacks
Cost: €4,000
Back in the old days these used to be everywhere. All the blackthumbs know their names, and the names of their vital gubbins: sparkulator, lightning-whirler, juicebox, caboxylator. Parts are as good as currency in some parts of the Grasslands. While some warriors prefer swift Metal Steeds or sprightly Wicker Autogolems, the greatest Knights of the Road pilot their mighty Road Yachts. A Road Yacht drinks 1 Supply of fuel every week.
 
Road Yatch Addons:
 
Luxury Seats:
€300
Made of genuine imitation leather (from genuine imitation cattle) and stuffed with the finest springs. The back seats even fold down to make a bed. Fuzzy dice optional.


Air Conditioning: €500
There's a magic box and by making part of it warmer, somehow the air inside the Road Yatch gets colder. There's probably a bound demon involved. Air Conditioning has no mechanical benefit but it's very impressive.


Fridgermerator: €1,000
Occupies 1 Sack. Can cool up to 6 sacks of storage space to a chilly, supply-maintaining temperature. Excellent for transporting perishable fruit, bodies, etc.

Para-Radio Set: €500
Most of what's broadcast these days isn't fit to be heard by mortal ears, but you can get echoes of tunes long past (or yet to come), coordinate with other vehicles or settlements (weather permitting), and

Loudspeaker: €100
Broadcasts music or speech really loud, to help block out those negative waves.

Big Gun
: €1,500

Occupies 2 Sacks, typically 1 for the gun and 1 for the ammo, maintenance equipment, and blast shields. Options include:
-Flammenwerfer. 3d6 fire damage, Far, Reload 6. Sets everything on fire.
-Rotary Rattlecannon: 2d12, Far, Reload 3. Can actually be used to propel a car backwards.

Turret: €500
Occupies 1 Sack. Lets a Gun Mount or a Big Gun fire in all directions instead of a fixed direction. Also makes a vehicle look properly intimidating.

Safe:
200
Occupies 1 Sack. Can contain 1 additional Sack of vitally important material in a gene-locked steel enclosure. Proof against anyone without serious tools and know-how.

Smoke Launchers:
50 per use
Fills a 100' cube with opaque smoke. For an additional
€10, you can pick the colour of the smoke. Makes shooting or boarding a caravan difficult, but tends to attract attention.



Generic Vech, Porcelain or Prismatic Walker - Fight the Hurricane

Capacity: 12 Sacks
Cost: €6,000
Walkers are great in the Grasslands because they are tall and all the cool factions use them. That's about it, really. Legs have a lot of moving parts to maintain and powering one on guzzolene is silly. Still, some people have an unhealthy obsession with giant mechanical spiders. Upgrading bio-mechanical or fancy golem walkers is significantly more expensive (and beyond the scope of this post). A fuel-powered Walker slurps 1 Supply of fuel every week.

Escape Pod: €600
Occupies 1 Sack. Lets 4 Sacks of capacity (2 people and their inventories) escape a wreck in the event of a catastrophic failure.

Chainsaw Arm
: €1,000

Occupies 3 Sacks. Deals 4d8 melee damage and ignores armour. Ponderous and inaccurate against small targets.

Boarding Ramp: €500
Occupies 1 Sack. Folds out to allow people from one vehicle to board another, or cross a wall, or generally get into trouble.

Bouncer: €1,000
Rocket-packs, nozzles, and springs let the vehicle leap up to 10' in the air while maintaining its current speed. Bouncing more than once per day will inflict structural damage.
 


Autowagon - 12 Yards Long, 2 Lanes Wide, 65 Tons of American Pride

Capacity: 24 sacks
Cost: €10,000
Could be an old Wreckreational Vehicle, a Desert Bus, or something even stranger. Whatever it is, it's big enough to have separate rooms or compartments, a door with a step, and a comically large turning radius. The flagship of a trading caravan, a little slice of home-away-from-home... or a big slice. An Autowagon guzzles 1 Supply of fuel every week.
 
Water Closet: €500
Occupies 4 Sacks. Toilet, sink, and shower. Ludicrously luxurious for the deep grasslands.
 
Observation Deck: €200
Completely useless, wildly impractical, and likely to take out an eye if you hit deep grit. But if you're going to sail across the grasslands, a chrome-railed balcony is the place to be on a calm Orangemonth night.
 
Hydraulic Throne: €1,000
Occupies 1 Sack. Gold-plated, halogen-lit, extendable flexible automechanical seat of grandeur. Deploys from the front, or from the back on a crane. Could also be a giant holographic face with optional flame cannons.
 
Ram: €200
Occupies 2 Sacks. Might of way makes right of way, and being able to bulldoze smaller vehicles off the road could be handy.
 
Winch, Jacks, and Shovels: €100
Occupies 1 Sack. Look, if you're going pretend an Autowagon is an off-road vehicle, you might as well be prepared to deal with the consequences. Gets a vehicle un-stuck in most conditions.
 
Luxury Pod: €500
Occupies 2 Sacks. 1 person and gear can ride in elegant comfort in their own private suite, with a folding bed-chair, hanging lamp, and adorable cupboards for sundries and snacks. This upgrade can be purchased multiple times.
   
Debauchery Pod: €600
Occupies 2 Sacks. The same as a Luxury Pod, but with a meter, drugs cabinet (drugs not included), and additional horizontal surfaces.
 
Medical Pod: €3,000
Occupies 4 Sacks. Room for 2 patients and a doctor. Proper medical equipment, drains, ominous lights, and sterile plastic sheeting. Lets patients heal on the road.
 


War Engine - Tankity Tank Tank Tank

Capacity: 36 Sacks
Cost: €20,000Impractical, cumbersome, huge, and obvious. Might as well slather yourself in barbecue sauce and wait for the vultures. But still, if you've got one, anyone without serious gumption will think twice before crossing your path. Filling up the vehicle's capacity with weapons and armour is strongly encouraged. Otherwise, it's just a long-haul truck. A War Engine slurps 2 Supply of fuel every week, or 3 Supply if run at top speed (still Slow).
 
War Engine Addons:
 
  
Armour Plating: €1,000
Occupies 4 Sacks. The vehicle reduces incoming damage by 8 (or, effectively, ignores small arms, medium arms, and glancing hits from heavier weapons). This upgrade can be purchased multiple times, but at some point you're better off calling it a town.
   
Big Treads: Free
Replaces wheels or centipede legs or whatever. The War Engine now moves Incredibly Slowly, but can ignore terrain, smaller vehicles, or anti-personnel mines. It leaves an obvious track through the landscape.
 
 Really Big Gun: €3,000
Occupies 4 Sacks, typically 2 for the gun and 2 for the ammo, fire prevention equipment, and earplugs. Seriously, what are you expecting to fight out here?
-Artillery Tube: 2d10x1d10, Very Very Far, Reload 20, blast. Ignores armour, intervening terrain, and common sense. Makes a hell of a noise. If it hits anything smaller than a Road Yatch, target must Save or evaporate instead.
-Doom Laser: 3d20, Very Very Far, Reload 10, requires 1 round to charge before firing.





1d10 What's Broken? How Do We Fix It? How Long Until It's Fixed?
1 Sparkulators are clogged. Take them out and file them. 1 hour.
2 Lightning whirler isn't whirling right. Squint at it, twiddle some screws. 30 minutes.
3 Fuel tube's busted. Run a new one. 1 hour.
4 No brakes. It'll probably be fine. Don't worry about it.
5 Flat tire. Get out the tools, patch it, swap it. 30 minutes
6 Radumilator is blown. Keep adding liquid as we go. Ongoing issue.
7 Fuel pump is seized. Probably need a new one. 12 hours.
8 Won't hold any pressure. Bit of bubblegum welding. 1d20 hours.
9 Carboxymlator's stuck or something. Hit it with the backside of a wrench. 10 minutes.
10 Wheel bearing has locked up. Grease and a hammer. 2 hours.
11 Threw a belt. Find something long and stretchy. 30 minutes.
12 Lightning hoses are broken. String together some new ones. 30 minutes.
13 Confuser unit gives an error code. Get the diagnosticator, push buttons. 1d20 hours.
14 Transmission goes "clunk". Take the whole thing off. 2 days.
15 Transmisison goes "grrrrntktktktkt" Just don't use that gear. It'll be fine.
16 Zeusbox won't charge the battery. Replace it, ideally with a better one. 1 hour.
17 Battery won't hold a charge. Fancy chemicals and a short ritual. 6 hours.
18 Burned all the dead dinosaur juice. Stop and add some more. 30 minutes.
19 Hole in the metal-fragment-catcher. Patch it, add more liquid, pray. 1d6 hours.
20 Piston went on a space vacation. Needs a full rebuild. How far is it to town?


1d20 Brands of the Long Long Ago Dubious Features
1 Insoggle Self-Threading Caps
2 Golemkraftwagen Anti-Tampering Engine Configuration
3 Ober-Kastell Synchrotronic Gearbox
4 Chuft Electric Transix Variator
5 Adlertz Lycoming Compressors
6 Rocksfall Rulings Oulianov Propulsion Unit
7 Tuker-Simplex-Ransommmer Microhydraulic Control Lines
8 Atomic Coachwerks Inhalator Body Air-Scoops
9 Ultracta Anti-Kidnapping Heartbeat Sensor
10 Nevada Systems Nine-Axis Suspension Struts
11 Sord Swivel Bucket Seats
12 Kurdish Wheyland Gyroscopic Autoleveller
13 Revochelle Automatic Anti-Crash Foam Nozzles
14 Prangwalter K 90 Extruded Bismuth Trim
15 Sklorch Enginefabber Telepathic Key System
16 Omniversal Hydroid Corporation Extensible Omniadaptors
17 Vulcan Trained Underbody Rust Slimes
18 Silverkammerung United Mercuric Chrome Bearings
19 Capricorn Extra-Dry Clutch
20 Offroad Indolence Syndicate Hydrophobic Seatcovers


2020/05/12

OSR: Ultraviolet Grasslands Session 9 - Random Encounter Trouble

Last session, the Cat's Meow Trading Company, after a very short series of comically terrible choices, accidentally set off a nuclear explosion.
Note: If you haven't read Ultraviolet Grasslands, most of this writeup will seem like psychedelic heavy metal Mad Libs. Even if you have read UVG it's going to be a mess.
The survivors of the catastrophe were:
 
Granville Porter
Cogflower necromancer lawyer. A mutant human thief/necromancer and warlock of Kon-Fabulate. Survived by using a porcelain walker as a ballistic coffin.
  
 
Gormog the Builder

A half-orc barbarian/fighter and warlock of Kon-Fabulate, Gormog survived by being a VOME -  a ViOlent MEchanism.  
 
Clovis

Exiled pirate liberal with a chainsword and a tattooed map to an aerolith fortress. Survived via the power of foam.
 
Dusty
Human unicorn farmer and Ba-Priest. Main asset is a truly ludicrous accent.
 

Transport: 1 zombie porter, badly burned by radiation and missing an arm.

Hirelings: 1 scorched Veggie-Mite.

Moebius
The foam cube smashed into the ground several miles from the drifting column of radioactive smoke. It bounced once, twice, then gently came to rest on top of a mesa. As the foam slowly dissolved, Clovis and Dusty emerged. While Clovis performed an impromptu baptism and anointing ceremony, praising Holy Foam the whole time, Dusty collected their possessions, said a polite (if quavering) goodbye, and marched away from the drifting cloud of fallout.

Side Note: Dusty's player had to drop out of the game for the time being. Surviving a nuclear explosion is an excellent excuse to leave an adventuring and mercantile group.
The other survivors used the fallen cube as a landmark. The group slowly reassembled. Gormog's appearance was now distressingly VOME-ish. What remained of his original half-orc flesh was pierced and subsumed beneath layers of cabling, silicone goop, and hissing hydraulics.

The nuclear explosion, falling foam cube, and roving VOME had attracted some local attention. Three people, whose pleasant meeting-shack had been demolished by the blast wave, peered through binoculars at the motley collection of burned PCs. They were:

-Garet 3-Mind, a half-ling polybody dilettante. Though not a Porcelain Prince, the polybody was known to them and considered a harmless eccentric.
-Cheesus, a mutant steppelander boneworker and force wizard, hired by Garet 3-Mind to complete some bonework sculptures. Cheesus' mutations included mystical body odour that could turn milk to cheese and one mug-shaped hand.

-Greb Greb, another mutant steppelander, blending both fighting and wizardry. Greb Greb is a devotee of the Radiation God, exiled from a high-tech arcology for her beliefs or transgressions. The mushroom cloud and fallout were, to her, signs of divine favour.

The three new arrivals, after a few hours of cautious scouting, approached the Cat's Meow Trading Company to see if they could explain the nuclear explosion. While scant details were provided, Greb Greb was delighted to meet people who had been so near to a holy event.

The group's only valuables, aside from some loose change, were the pieces of looted ultraviolet porcelain Granville had carried from the quarry. They had no supplies. Gormog and Greb Greb volunteered to search the blast zone for sturdy items. They encountered the screaming radiation ghost of one of the group's vaporized hirelings, but Greb Greb convinced them that suffering was the natural state of life, and that being dead (and a ghost) wasn't so bad.

With pockets full of mildly radioactive metal and a few scattered cash ingots, the group decided to move southwest around the Potsherd Crater, away from the site of the explosion, and towards abandoned dig sites and quarries that might provide cover from fallout.

Lucas Roussel

Unfortunately, the cave they chose to hide in contained a Dragon.

Six-legged war-beasts from the Long Long Ago, Dragons are notoriously difficult to kill. This one breathed freezing lumps of burning phosphorous. Despite scouting and preparation, the fight went poorly for the Cat's Meow Trading Company.

Gormog fought bravely, but the colossal VOME-infected warrior was frozen then shattered by the dragon's breath. Granville Porter, survivor of so many misadventures, exhausted his spells and resorted to desperate dagger-stabs before succumbing. Cheesus fired off a single spell then fled. One of Garet's bodies, bravely wielding a bow and arrow, attempted to help, but was frozen and devoured in turn, leading the other two bodies to panic.

Greb Greb and Clovis bravely assisted from very, very far away. In fact, along with the Veggie-Mite and two of Garet 3-Mind's bodies, they didn't spend any time in the cave at all.

With all combatants in the cave dead, the dragon retreated to lick its wounds. Greb Greb prepared some radioactive poison for it, but the next day, stealth-based assassination via chainsaw, Black City Blade, and magic won the day. The few survivors settled down to a feast of highly unstable dragon meat.

Mutations ensued. Greb Greb gained draconic scales. All of Garet 2-Mind's teeth fell out, and planting them raised an obedient skeleton for 1 hour. Clovis acquired a dragon's acquisitive nature and secretly began assembling a hoard.

The dragon's hoard consisted of silver wire and sheaves of asbestos. The group also found a dragon egg wrapped in protective insulation. The prospect of a trained war-beast appealed to the group.

But fighting a dragon is not a silent affair.

Two bounty hunters, dispatched by the Porcelain Princes, arrived to witness the debauched barbecue. They asked if they could join; there was more than enough dragon-meat to share, and the group didn't want another fight.

And so Doman, a dour Myrm tracker and hunter, and Sentinel 473, a Porcelain soldier-drone, joined the group, at least temporarily. Myrms are masked deep-steppe isolationists, notoriously efficient and clean but brutally dismissive and curt. Soldier-drones of the Princes are vat-spliced disposable fighters, for situations where an entire Polybody would be unwieldy. Their enhanced abilities came at a cost; they healed slowly without high-tech equipment and rare ingredients.

Side Note: I'm using my hacked-together World of Rust bestiary to populate some bits of the Ultraviolet Grasslands. Art for the Myrm is on pg. 8 and art for the Kingdom Soldier is on pg. 20.
 Like  many things in my games, details were made up as needed.
David Tilton
The bounty hunters were on the trail of a pair of terrorist dwarves, whose notorious crimes had threatened the rule of the Porcelain Princes. "Never heard of them," Clovis said, looking at the glossy photos of Karl and Frieda. As the last survivor of the original Cat's Meow crew, and someone who'd always preferred to remain out of the spotlight, Clovis felt completely safe. The half-elf even insinuated that the bounty hunters could join this new crew, the "Dragon's Bollocks Trading Company", for safety and ease of travel.

The other PCs shared tales of the Princes' perfidy, their cheapness, and their recent political upheavals. The "Animated Teratology", a cabal of 4-body Princes had seized power in the Last Serai and the Porcelain Citadel. Monobodies were not permitted in settlements; many had been executed in arbitrary purges. Patrols near the settlements imposed rapacious taxes, but in the deep country, allies or representatives with para-radio sets hadn't received new orders.

And so, lightly mutated, heavily irradiated, and freshly enriched, the reconstituted and battered group plotted a new course to fame and fortune. First, they would need to acquire new wagons or beasts of burden, and fresh uncontaminated supplies. Finding a fleshcrater would also be useful. Dragon meat had mutated Doman's hands into claws, rendering his finely tuned bow useless. The rest of the group had assorted other ailments that required professional healing.

Third, and finally, Clovis wanted to reach the mysterious Lake of Wyv and the aerolith fortress said to float above its oil-slicked waters.

2020/04/25

The Violent Unknown Event: Diegetic Horror

I'm not a huge fan of blog posts about definitions, but (as far as I can tell), there isn't one for this genre. "Conspiracy Horror" might work, but I prefer "Diegetic Horror". Horror, or something like horror, that is created by in-setting materials.

Defining the Genre
-Primarly diegetic media (public service announcements, posters, documentaries, game shows, etc.)
-The Event is not defined. We do not see The Event occur or learn exactly what it is, but details and hints are present. 

-Horrifying details are presented blandly and dispassionately, or with inappropriate emphasis.
-Connections are implied. The audience is encouraged to put the pieces together.
-The camera is not a participant.

This genre is distinct from found footage horror films, where the viewpoint is a participant or direct witness to The Event, or films where The Event occurs and is later fully, or mostly, explained.

The Falls (1980)

It is not recorded what Orchard thinks of the Violent Unknown Event, and he is very noncommittal about any opinion concerning the Responsibility of Birds, though in an unguarded  moment, he has described his enemy as The Fox. This might be no more enigmatic than a reference to his profession as a seller of chicken wire. 
-The Falls, Entry 1: Orchard Falla
The world has been struck by a mysterious incident called the "Violent Unknown Event" or VUE, which has killed many people and left a great many survivors suffering from a common set of symptoms: mysterious ailments (some appearing to be mutations of evolving into a bird-like form), dreaming of water (categorised by form, such as Category 1, Flight, or Category 3, Waves) and becoming obsessed with birds and flight. Many of the survivors have been gifted with new languages. They have also stopped aging, making them immortal (barring disease or injury).
-Wikipedia
The Falls is deadpan, absurd, and brilliant. The trailer covers the basic format. It might not be the origin of this genre, but I suspect it's more influential than people think.

Local 58

A perfectly ordinary local television station. Though I think "Contingency" (linked above) is the best short they've produced, "Weather" is closest to pure Event media.
 

The Event - Mitchell and Web

Stock up on basic supplies. A suitable shopping basket would include sand, tinned tomatoes, and six hundred toilet rolls. Get your supplies early, as smaller shops may run out of sand.
A series of linked skits about The Event, beginning (chronologically) with an eerie PSA and ending with a slowly collapsing game show.
   

Welcome to Night Vale

A long-running podcast styled as a small town radio program. It's famous enough to have books in big book stores, so presumably it doesn't need an introduction.

Scarfolk Council

An image-based blog about an imaginary town where it's always the '70s. Always.  Some posts are closer to current political satire than Diagetic Horror, but there are some superbly eerie posts buried in the archives.
 

The Mystery Flesh Pit

A relatively new, location-specific blog about a fictional national park. The author's found the perfect mix of deeply disturbing and utterly banal details.
 

Debatable Media

-Lessons Of Darkness (1992)
 -The Visit (2015). I've been unable to locate a copy of the full film, but the trailer, stripped of context, seems to qualify.

-The SCP foundation, if you stick to some of the early articles only and ignore the vast realms of explanatory fluff that have sprung up over the years.
-Bits of The League of Gentlemen apply.

 
If you've got other suggestions, post them in the comments.
 

Why Do I Love This Genre?

First, it tickles the human need to pattern match and problem solve. A web of connections is presented; the reader is rewarded for making connections and catching obscure internal references. There's craft to appreciate.

Humans are also very good at adapting to remarkably terrible world-changing events. There's a reason this genre tends towards '50s-'70s aesthetics; the first age of mass media, looming feasible global apocalpyses, and cheerfully dreadful government announcements.

Since we're in the middle of "The Event" right now, we can watch euphemisms and jargon go from strange to common in real time. "Flatten the curve", "social distancing," "N95", "isolation", etc; without context, a current news report sent back in time 1 year would be as alarming and interesting as anything in "The Falls".

So sit back, relax, enjoy the Event, and consider the Theory of the Responsibility of Birds. Or perhaps of Bats.

2020/04/24

OSR: Electric Industrial Bastion Revolutionland (or: Mashing Wizards Together For Fun and Profit)

The internet rumbles with portents of a combined Wizard Business setting. Jelly Muppet's considering mashing up Chris McDowall's Electric Bastionland and Luke Gearing's Swyvers with Magical Industrial Revolution. I'm considering a similar mix, but with Martin O's Wizard City Hexcrawl too. I'm in a slightly odd position where I can't run my own book straight; all my usual players were involved in testing bits. Ah well.

So let's take a second look at Electric Bastionland now that the final PDF is available. Most of the notes in this review still hold up. It's a great book. Lots of art, lots of concepts, excellent GM advice. If you're looking at a book to introduce new people to RPGs, it's certainly up there.

EDIT: as a side note, Chris has been doing livestreams (archive) and podcasts about E.B. They're fascinating from a designer's POV. More people should do them. Sausage doesn't make itself.
Alec Sorensen

The Map Might Be The Territory, Actually


Cities, like murder mysteries, are things that traditional RPGs don't handle well. There's an axis. At one end, you've got fully mapped cities where every street, shop, and NPC are named. At the other,  you've got die-drop tables and vague as-needed mapping.

Endon from MIR sits somewhere in the middle. Bastion, from Electric Bastionland is somewhere on the fuzzy side.

I'm not a fan of fully mapless cities. I prefer being able to answer questions like "What would happen if I fired a giant cannon directly east?" or "Where's the nearest spire?". Visualizing a city is important. Sightlines and landmarks and weenies. The world carries on even if nobody's looking at it. Street-by-street mapping isn't necessary, but a sense of "over there" or "the wrong side of the river" is, at least for me.

Bastion is this roiling urban psycoplasm. There are no landmarks, either physical or cultural. The local council's been replaced with a junta of mandrills in dress uniforms and nobody seems to care. Your apartment above the sweet shop was sold to a group of urban beekeepers, who apologize and hand you beekeeper suits along with the new lease paperwork.

There's logic here, but it's the logic of scriptwriting or dreams. Nothing happening is boring (or allowed to be boring) so everything is constantly happening all at once to everyone. As the book says, "Finding medical treatment is an adventure. Going shopping is an adventure. Getting the train to the library is an adventure."


Running an hour-by-hour game in Electric Bastionland, where there are zero timeskips until you sleep (and even then, you might want to eat a tin of caffeinated horseradish and keep going) seems to be how the system is designed. Discworld meets Crank. Grab a drink of water, catch a breather, restore all HP and carry on.

That sense of overwhelming activity is brilliant on its own, but it's not compatible with MIR's Innovations and Tempo tracks or sense of a world slowly tipping on its side. The world in Bastion changes too fast, and at the same time, it doesn't change at all. The Temo is "flat-out". Someone's already invented the radio, the electic tuk-tuk, and aluminum foil. Revolutions are political (and ultimately futile), not magical or industrial.

Could Endon become Bastion? Absolutely. Running a game of by-the-book MIR, then skipping forward a few decades to Bastion, would be superb. Original PCs could be legendary figures like Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Ada Lovelace.
 

You Feeling Lucky, Punk?

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.
-George Orwell
In Electric Bastionland, you're the human faces getting stamped on. Maybe not quite as grim and dark as all that, but you're clearly not in charge. You've got a failed career and enough cash to buy a sandwich. Society is arranged (badly) for someone else's' benefit. If you scrape and save, you might be able to afford a waxwork sculpture or a fancy hat collection.

In Endon, you've noticed someone is lacing up a giant boot. "Hey, that wouldn't happen to be a face-stomping boot?", you might ask, and the person lacing it up might reply "Almost certainly not." or "Some faces might get stamped on but look at this lovely leatherwork." Magical Industrial Revolution is not steampunk, or any kind of -punk. Electric Bastionland, arguably, is.
 
Alec Sorensen

Magical Industrial Revolution + Electric Bastionland

If you like MIR, what bits of E.B. are easy to nick and bolt on to the framework?The GM advice section, spark tables, and tips are universally compatible. Failed Careers require some adaptation. The system and base design is fantastic, but you'd probably want to write your own tables (or borrow some of these) for Endon. The ones in the book are perfect for a city that's already reached the apex of its weird arc.

No matter what system you're using, the simple tag concepts are great. I particularly love "Deprived: you can't regain HP until you clear this tag." Brilliant. You are Deprived if you aren't wearing fashionable clothes. You are Deprived if you can see a cat. Etc. Sublimely elegant.

To adjust costs from E.B. to MIR, divide costs in E.B. by 100 (so £100 becomes 1gp, £10 becomes 0.1gp or 1sp, etc.). This might not work perfectly but it's fairly close.

Electric Bastionland + Magical Industrial Revolution

If you like E.B, what bits of MIR are easy to nick and bolt on to the framework?

The magic weapons and items table make excellent Oddities. The magic items especially; they're directly swappable. Prosthetics too.

The basic NPC and building tables are broadly compatible, though Rumours are setting-specific. More Urchins, Thieves, and Scoundrels are always useful. The Menagerie (especially the 1d100 Skeletons) fit right into Bastion's stew.

The Paradigm is, by the standards of Electric Bastionland, rather quaint. Still, rules for building your own industry might be useful if players earn enough money to buy face-stomping boots of their own.

To adjust costs from MIR to EB, multiply costs by 100 (so 1gp becomes £100, 1sp becomes £10, etc.)
 

A Final Note on Failed Careers

Failed Careers are designed to help a player immediately embody a PC. They're superb.

There's a problem though.

-Steve Dougwailer, failed attorney-at-underlaw, starts with an electric cane (d6) and a book titled "Torts and Retorts".
-Boxton, failed sweetpincher, starts with a dagger and an obedient sugarcrab pet.
-Alice the Wombat, failed prizefighter, starts with a pair of boxing gloves and a red silk cape that turns her into cinnamon-flavoured smoke once per day.

(None of these are actual E.B. packages; I just freeformed them).

Anyway, after the first treasure hunt, Steve Dougwailer and Boxton both die. Tragic.

Alice the Wombat inherits the sugarcrab pet. The two new PCs (Scoots Morganson, failed insurance scammer and Ixilblat, failed time traveler) pick up the law book and electric cane when they join the group.

The original concepts, so clearly embodied by their oddities and items, get diluted. A few rounds of character deaths and everyone's got a mish-mash of stuff. Because character identity is so closely bound to portable items (rather than class features or mechanics) the identities get sloshed around and muddled.

This isn't an issue for one-shots or convention games, but it's a known issue for longer games. Since that's not where E.B. seems to be aimed, I'm not sure it's a major concern, but it's worth noting.

For longer games, or to get around this problem, I'd suggest giving each Failed Career a table of a Thing You Have (portable, an oddity, a weapon) and a Thing You Can Do (personal, non-transferable, minor or significant). Some Failed Careers already do this.

2020/04/20

OSR: Class: Electric Wizard

Writing Ultraviolet Grasslands wizards is a lot of fun. Luka's got a SEACAT electric wizard on patreon. I referenced the playtest doc while building this wizard, but it ended up going in a slightly different direction for the UVGLOGlands wizard.
Clint Cearley

Electric Wizard

You wield one of the great invisible forces of the world. Whether you dream of blasting your enemies into molten fragments or raising a high-tech city, your world is lit by lightning. Your magic is not subtle or delicate.  
  
Starting Equipment
Spell Focus (see below), rubber cloak, thick-soled boots.

Perk

You generate a mild electric current. Each week of safe travel or rest, you generate one Supply of power. This power must be used immediately and cannot be banked (unless you have expensive power cells).

Drawback
You must brandish your spell focus to cast spells. Roll on the table below. A spell focus takes up 1 inventory slot and costs 50 cash to replace.

Electric Wizard Spell Focus
1. Two amber rods
2. Dried cat on a stick.

3. Mysterious paleo-tech box battery (dead) and cables.
4. Hand-cranked generator and tinfoil hat.
5. Tame but useless legged electric eel.
6. Neon electric guitar.





Dirty Iron

Cantrips
1. Touch a creature to deal 1 lightning damage to it. Touching an unwilling opponent requires an Attack roll against their unarmored Defense.
2. You know the vague direction of magnetic north.
3.You can choose to become as conductive as gold or as insulating as glass. This does not change the amount of lightning damage you take.
 
Electric Wizard Mishaps
1. MD only return to your pool on a 1 for 24hrs.
2. Lose 1 permanent HP and take 1d4 damage.
3. Random mutation for 1d6 rounds, then Save. Permanent if you fail.
4. Dance and twitch for 1d6 rounds, taking no other action.
5. Induction. One item random item is destroyed. Can be your spell focus.
6. Unable to speak in anything less than a full hearty shout for 24 hours.
 
Electric Wizard Dooms
1.
Permanently Magnetic. Cannot wield metal weapons or carry more than 1 metal item.
2.
Struck by lightning. Take 4d6 lightning damage. All creatures within 20' must Save or take 1d6 damage.
3. Pelted From Above. Each hour you are outside and exposed to the sky, there is a 1-in-6 chance you will be struck by lightning (as 2, above.) Buildings conceal you, clothing does not.


Spells
1. Patented Electric Mood Restorer
2. Rubberize
3. I Singe The Body Electric
4. Yakob's Ladder
5. Electric Visions

6. Clear! 
7. Control Metal

8. Give My Creation Life!
9. Right Hand Rule
10. (In the Path of a) Lightning Bolt
11. Ride the Lightning
12. Thunderpunch

Krist Miha

1. Patented Electric Mood Restorer
R: touch T: creature D: 0
You deal 1 lightning damage to touched creature. Unwilling creatures can Save to negate. Touched creature gets a new Save against all ongoing curses or mind-altering effects. They may reset their emotional state.
 
2. Rubberize
R: touch T: creature D: [sum] minutes

You coat a creature in a thick rubber skin. They are immune to lightning damage and acid damage, and take 1/2 fall or bludgeoning damage.
 
3. I Singe The Body Electric
R: 0 T: self D: [sum] rounds

You generate a strong electric current, which arcs from your fingers toes, and hair. You glow as brightly as a torch. All creatures within [dice]x10' take [dice] lightning damage per round. Any creature that hits you with a successful melee attack also takes [dice] damage.
 
4. Yakob's Ladder
R: 20' T: point D: [sum] rounds
You create a humming electrical ladder [dice]x20' long and 2' wide. The ladder is a semi-solid barrier. Climbing it is not dangerous, but running through it deals 1d6 lightning damage. The ladder can support the weight of a person but not a vehicle.
 
5. Electric Visions
R: touch T: sighted creature D: [sum] minutes / permanent
If you invest one [die]: Target can see the electrical body-hum of living things, even if invisible. Target can see through illusions. Target can see operational electrical devices or high-powered equipment, even through walls.
 
If you invest two or more [dice]: This can only be cast on yourself. As above, except you can also see through magical darkness. There are also some permanent effects: (a) You can forever see invisible creatures as a flickering electric skeleton, (b) You can tell if someone else is possessed or has been raised from the dead by looking them in the eyes, and c) you can tell if an electrical machine is malfunctioning or cursed by looking at it. You suffer a permanent loss of 1d6 Wisdom (as you keep staring at things that aren't really there) or 1d6 Charisma (as you keep sharing eerie insights).
 

6. Clear! 
R: touch T: creature with at least 1 Fatal Wound D: 0 
Slap your hands (or paddles) on the chest of a fallen creature. Roll 1d6. The target:

1-2. Gains [dice] Fatal Wounds.
3-4. Removes [dice] Fatal Wounds.
5-6. Removes [sum] Fatal Wounds.
This spell does not restore HP.
 
7. Control Metal
R: 50’ T: metal D: concentration Each [dice] you invest increases the effects. One [die] is minor, 4 [dice] is a legendary display of metal control.
At one [dice], control a fist-size lump of metal. You can a) make it hop or roll at a walking pace, b) magnetize or demagnetize it, c) slowly reshape it, d) gently heat or cool it, or e) slowly separate impurities.

  
8. Give My Creation Life!
R: 20' T: [dice]x2 HD corpse D: 2 hours
This spell takes 1 hour and consumes 1d6x10xHD cash in reagents and special implements. At the end of the spell's duration, raised creatures must Save or die. The creature obeys the Electric Wizard for the spell's duration, then pursues its own agenda. Low HD creatures can be coerced or threatened into obedience.


[Dice] HD Type of Corpse Golem
1 1-2 Wire Ghoul
2 1-4 Ozone Ghost
3 1-6 Flesh Golem
4 1-8 Reanimated Titan
 
9. Right Hand Rule
R: 0 T: self D: 0
You make a strange gesture with your right hand. You fly up to [dice]x100' in a straight line in the direction your thumb points, while spinning in the direction of your curled fingers. You cannot drill through solid materials, but you may be able to push dirt out of the way. You take normal fall damage. You may need to test Dexterity to land safely. If you collide with anyone, they take [sum] damage and you take 1/2 [sum] damage.
 
10. (In the Path of a) Lightning Bolt
R: [dice]x20' T: area D: 0
Designate a straight line [dice]x20' long and 10' wide. Anything along the line takes [sum] lightning damage, Save for half. Up to [dice] targets up to 20' away from the line must also Save or take half damage. The spell sets small objects on fire and makes a tremendous noise.
 
11. Ride the Lightning
R: [dice]x 1 mile T: self D: 0
You teleport in a flash of lightning, instantly appearing at any point within range. Both your origin and destination must be visible to the sky or connected by a sufficiently conductive item (a wire, a pipe, etc.). Upon arrival, you deal 1d12 lightning damage to all adjacent creatures. For each [dice] you invest past the first, you may bring 1 additional touched target with you when you teleport.|
 
12. Thunderpunch
R: 0 T: self D: 10 min
You enchant your hand so that it discharges [sum] + [dice]x2 damage worth of lightning into the next thing you touch. You cannot wear any metal on the hand you enchant. Touching an unwilling opponent requires an Attack roll against their unarmored Defense. If you deal more than 12 damage, you and your target must both Save or be flung apart, knocked prone, and deafened for 1d6 rounds.