2020/04/13

OSR: Oil Barons and Refinery Kings


Money, in my UVG-GLOG hack, has two main purposes. PCs can spend it on gear, accommodation, and trade goods, or they can spend a random amount (typically 1d6x100 or 1d6x200) on partying for a week to gain that much XP. The main way to gain XP is to travel to Discoveries. Tools and items are more useful than cash, but hoarding cash is the only way to party without potentially going into debt. In the core Ultraviolet Grasslands book there are many alternative options.
Side Note: adding extra Discoveries to the map was a neat idea, but, unexpectedly, it's lead to players sticking around one area for longer. There are relatively few pressures to explore deeper into the Grasslands when "safe" XP is locally available. Something to consider if you're running an UVG game.
Vehicles are explicitly listed as impractical and expensive. A good mule or crab-camel is much more sensible. It eats grass, can travel over all terrain in all weather, and if things are truly dire you can eat it.

But a mule can't haul a monolith or act as a mobile battle-fortress. It takes a lot more effort to spook or fatally wound an autogolem. Setting up tents next to a herd of camels every night grows tiresome when flesh-eating worms can burrow through your bedroll. And while a trading company with some camels is just a trading company, a trading company with a massive smoke-belching autowagon is Those Guys Who Are Not To Be Fucked With.

All this is anti-canon, of course.

Nicked from Luka's Patreon. That's right, this post has optional DLC. Mwahaha!

Fuel Costs

Common supplies are 2 cash / sack.
Premium supplies are 10 cash / sack.
Alchemical Lubricants are 100 cash / sack (UVG pg. 179).
 
So, eyeballing it, I'd say:
Low Quality Fuel is 20 cash / supply and produces a great deal of smoke. It adds the "smoke" tag to a caravan.
Premium Fuel is 30 cash / supply.
Proper Oldtech Jet Fuel is 50 cash / supply and adds the "fast" tag to a caravan. It also burns white-hot and occasionally explodes engines.
 

Oil Barons and Refinery Kings

An oil well can be stealthy. Flaring excess gas will create a huge smoky column, but if the gas can be captured, burned quietly at ground level, or vented without burning (ideally, down a long pipe downwind of the wellhead), a simple pumpjack can be hidden behind a hill or in a low valley.

But it's still a permanent site. Since conventional pipelines aren't viable in most post-apocalyptic settings, oil will need to be transported by truck, barrel, or bucket. That means some form of loading infrastructure and a way to defend the site. Otherwise, anyone could waltz up, fill their tanker, and set off... or set the whole place on fire for the hell of it.

While a refinery might be sited near an oil well, multiple wells will probably be required to keep a refinery fed and profitable. Each well requires a fortification, a force to defend it, and some sort of leader. Distributed forces who are loyal to a local leader, who in turn loyal to a local overlord is, or is close enough, to feudalism.

Oil Barons run wells. They might operate a simple refinery tower next to their well for local use, but they sell/tithe the bulk of their crude to a Refinery King. The Refinery King, in return, promises to round up a bunch of other Oil Barons to sort out any local trouble. It's a protection racket, a mutually beneficial relationship, and/or a cult.

There are Oil Barons throughout the Ultraviolet Grasslands. Finding one isn't difficult. Follow the smoke. Safely cutting a deal for their precious fuel is more difficult. There are only a handful of Refinery Kings and they guard their burning fortresses with potent magic. Though less powerful than the Porcelain Princes or the Spectrum Satraps, any faction that can wield armoured vehicles is a potent force in the unclaimed areas of the Grasslands.
Ramshackle Games

1d10 Oil Barons

1. Dolce V-Eight

Crazed naptha-smeared wire-headed wasteland tyrant. Minimal tactical skill, maximum ferocity. Speaks via a microphone and amplifier strapped to the back of an unlucky captive.

Approach
: bodies on spikes leads to a dead-end path, perfectly sited for a clifftop ambush.

Well-Fortress: small walled compound with an armour-plated storage dome in the centre. Tower next to dome fires flaming oil spheres from compressed air launchers. Inside, asphalt-covered trading square surrounded by contemptible shacks.
Fighters: thirty greasy and sleepless narco-loons wielding claw hammers, pop-powder pistols, and

Vehicles:
-Diplo-Wagon, a dented purple autogolem with a bench and table strapped to the front. Captured number-speakers or wordifiers are sometimes tied to the front as well to assist with negotiations.
-Rattlebikes. One- or two-warrior motorcycles mostly made of springs and smoke.

Trades: slaves, rare goods, vaguely interesting old-tech to barter. Accepts occasional tribute/bribes from the Porcelain Princes to avoid or attack certain caravans.
Lucas Roussel

2. The Black Throne Gang

Nigh-identical spiked Kafka thug bugs on proper oldtech motorcycles. Rude as hell, but willing to cut and honour a deal. Leader is "Black Thorne", whoever that is. Might be an Ultra.

Approach: bridge over a steaming oil-moat full of tarpit crocodiles.
Well-Fortress: crumbling dryland coral manor half-engulfed by pipes and storage tanks.
Fighters: fifteen proper battle-hardened bugs, plus ten less tattoo

Vehicles:
-Black Thorne Bikes. Vome-made, they say, or mined from a primordial strata of chrome and rubber. Solid, reliable, and clearly not designed for a giant insect, but if they catch you riding one the whole gang will descend to pull your limbs off. They're very fussy about their image.

Trades: wax, gold, tattoos, music.
 

3. Randall's Bandits

White-webbing harnesses, exposed genitals (not necessarily theirs), and thigh-high white leather boots. Randall has an 4' tall orange turban covered in gems and dried frogs.

Approach:  mobile, so follow the white fog-dust cloud and the oil slick droplets.
Well-Fortress: none. Instead, a herd of bloated and testy petroleum sloths. Lanky, hairless, and flammable, but capable of turning just about anything into crude and a little but of useful fuel. Driven from pasture to pasture.

Vehicles:
-Trained War-Camels. Crab legs, so they can only move sideways, but their broad backs provide an excellent firing platform for bows and stick-bombs.
-Hoot-Balloon. Scout and emergency escape system. Parachute pack deploys into a bloated owl, rockets the bandit into the sky.

Trades: fodder, rumours, negotiable companionship, really good drugs.
giorgio baroni

4. Crankcase and the Jams

Time-lost immortal warriors trying to survive in a hostile and baffling world. Crankcase, their leader, wears a row of ludicrous medals and a red-goggle mask.

Approach: maze of dryland coral tank traps. Navigable if you've got a guide.
Well-Fortress: razorwire and coral bunkers around a silver derrick.
Fighters: twenty-eight regenerating supersoldiers. Can still feel pain, and getting shot is messy, so they fight conservatively.

Vehicles:
-Thunderchild, heavy war-banger. Two-turrets, two barrels each, armour that eats lasers and rockets for breakfast. Moves at the speed of a turtle but kills anything it sees.

Trades: ammo, maps, old or time-lost tech.
elSEED

5. Lord Kurorelli

Rogue Porcelain prospector turned warlord. Encased in oldtech power armour. Delusions of world domination.

Approach: crude stelae carved with Lord Kurorelli's many victories.
Mill-Fortress: four-bladed windmill pump, sails made of vinyl and pressed leaflets. Iron castle, but mostly for show. Can be electrified in an emergency, but only for a few minutes, and with a great spray of sparks and fire.
Fighters: ten devoted surgically altered chem-ghouls, plus 2 ooze-infested ogres. Nothing a competent army couldn't handle, but the ogres terrify local raiders. It's the way they eat people...

Trades: luxuries, food, disposable slaves.
 


6. Pringles Hardvale

Staunchly communal diesel dwarf turned from the path by the Invisible Hand. Adopted a new name and converted their communal well into a neon-lit citadel of capitalism.

Approach: blazing glow-wurms in glass tubes spell out inviting slogans.
Mill-Fortress: open gates lit by more wurms. Inside, a party every day, if you can afford the fees. Diesel dwarves drink distillate for free; Pringles hopes to turn them to his cause.
Fighters: no organized force, but Pringles pays well for bounties and has a crypto-life-linked cash box; the only way to get the sweet credit chips is to play by his rules.

Trades: booze, dancers, soft fabrics, stories of fortune and glory.
Chenthooran Nambiarooran

1d6 Refinery Kings

 
1. Tanker Trailer Soldier Spy
Two-headed bickering mutant from the deep Grasslands. Ever-ready war-fleet.
 
2. Chelbat Gargantuman
10' tall space knight who, they say, speaks to rocks. Calls up oil like water, sells it cheap to buy weapons.  Possibly preparing for a holy war against some rival faction.
 
3. Molly Methoozela
Biolubricant genius from the Rainbowlands who found and tamed a petroleum elemental.
 
4. Imperial Oceanic Kroog
Rules the Floating Smoketress, probably the last functional skyliner.
 
5. Babyface Skip and the Wild Hags
Self-explanatory. When the fleshcrafters say they can make you look young again, definitely ask for clarification.

6. The Tyrant Spitfire and His Legion of Centipedes
Also self-explanatory. The Obdurate City of the Tyrant Spitfire is more of a village, but it produces the purest jet fuel commonly on the market.

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