A Use for Excess Experience Points

Rembrandt has too much XPIn games which grant experience as a reward for recovering treasure, there is usually a rule that a character can’t level up more than once in a single session. So if you’re level 1, and you find a diamond worth 10,000 money, (which would normally translate to 10,000 experience), you don’t get to jump straight to level 3. You’ll reach level 2, and then stop. Usually the rules allow for a character to gain enough experience to be 1xp short of gaining 2 levels, but that’s it. After a big treasure haul you might see large amounts of your experience evaporate because of this rule. Possibly even the majority of it.

This is good and proper for any one of a dozen reasons. It maintains the pacing of the game. It cuts down on complications. It prevents players who may have missed a session from being left in the dust. It allows the referee to place large hoards of treasure without worrying that it will wreck the game’s progression. There are tons of reasons to recommend it. It’s a good rule.

But, from a player perspective, it’s always kind of a bummer losing out on those excess experience points. Sure gaining one level was nice, and you’re nearly guaranteed to level next session. That’s nice too. But gosh dang it, you could have leaped all the way to level 6 if not for that dumb rule! It’s enough to leave you weeping into your massive pile of money. #SuccessfulAdventurerProblems.

What if those spare experience points could be used for something? Not leveling, but something. Preferably something simple, since this issue only arises rarely. It would be too complex even to make the benefits proportional to the amount of excess experience the player earned. I think it should be treated as a binary thing: did you earn more experience points than your character could absorb? If yes, you get a cookie.

So what’s a good cookie?

  • Free training. This is kind of the obvious one, right? Experience points are usually used to train a character in their class, so if it can’t do that, it may as well be used to teach the character something else. Excess experience could allow a character to select any training they qualify for, and instantaneously and freely gain it. Alternatively, if that’s a little too much, you might consider waiving only one of the two requirements: either the training is free, or it’s instantaneous.
  • A skill point. If you’re not using any kind of in-game training, then most characters will never improve any of their skills. Giving a skill point to characters who earn excess experience flows from the same logic that training does. To the Fighter, having a 2-in-6 Tinker chance would be a pretty significant ability, since it’s not something they’re ever supposed to be able to get. But overall, it does little to impact the fabric of the game.
  • A character’s total XP doesn’t only model their wealth of experience as an adventurer, it also models their social cachet. An excess of experience points could be taken to indicate a sudden surge in renown for the character. Perhaps word of their great deeds is only now starting to reach the upper echelons of society, or maybe their recent success was so explosively impressive that nobody can really ignore them anymore. For whatever the reason, the players should see some benefit from this. People of higher status should take notice! Land grants or titles should be offered. Or, on a smaller scale, better jobs should come the players way. Perhaps they’re able to recruit hirelings more effectively. And on that note…
  • Hireling loyalty improves. There aren’t a lot of explicit ways to improve hireling loyalty. Knowing that you’re working for a winner can be a real ego boost. All hirelings get a +1 bump in their loyalty. Or maybe just one hireling, if the referee is stingy.
  • The player may Auto-Best a single roll, after it is rolled. It’s a small reward. Simple. But turning an attack roll of 1 into a 20 feels pretty durn good.
  • Temporary hit points. This is the one time I think the reward should be proportional to the excess XP. The character gains 10 temporary hit points for each level which they could have gained, but didn’t. So if they started at level 1, and could have made it all the way to level 6, then they get 40 temporary hit points. (Because they level up to 2, then get 10 each for levels 3-6). The temporary hit points cannot be healed, they last until the character takes enough damage to exhaust them.

This post was in no way inspired by the diamond worth 100,000gp that my 1st level character found in Courtney Campbell‘s Perdition campaign.

 

 

d100 Pieces of Technological Junk

TNG Dr Pulaski with a medical tricorder
Dr. Pulaski is infinitely superior to Dr. Crusher. Suck it nerds.

As you are now probably well aware, ORWA, is set in a post-apocalypse. Most people in this world are lucky to own anything as technologically advanced as a sword, much less something electronic. They are surrounded by the remnants of a an advanced civilization’s technology, but all of it is useless.

Rarely, though, a piece of technology is mostly intact. It still doesn’t actually work, but with some luck and elbow grease, a technologically savvy PC could make it work. So what technology might be of interest to an adventurer? Here’s a d100 table for tech that I thought might be interesting to see the players make use of in play.

My rule for repairing any of this junk is based on a new skill called Technology. The skill becomes available at a 1-in-6 chance once players join a secretive cabal of technologists. A successful Technology check (requiring one week of game time) grants 1d4 uses of the repaired device before it breaks and needs to be repaired again. Additional Technology checks can be stacked, and each successful check adds 1d4 uses to the device. If a Technology check is failed, the device is completely broken and becomes useless.

  1. Autograpple Harness. A belt with back support, and straps around the legs. A pair of cables are launched from each hip to gracefully pull the wearer to the top of any structure as a single move action.
  2. A micro drone qudcopter equipped with a camera. Moves relatively quietly, and transmits footage back to a monitor in real time. Too small to carry anything heavier than a pencil.
  3. A blender. One of those nice ones that can blend fuckin’ anything.
  4. Exoskeletal carrying legs and back support. Allows a character to triple their carrying capacity. Prevents stealth, but otherwise does not hinder movement.
  5. A consumer grade 3D printer. Accepts verbal description of objects to be created. The items produced are of a sort of brittle plastic. You’d have a hard time snapping an object in your hands, but it’s still not well suited to heavy duty work.
  6. A 4 legged pack robot, the size of a large dog. Capable of carrying a load equivalent to what 4 hirelings could carry.
  7. A pair of large goggles, tinted green. When worn they give the wearer a Heads Up Display. A variety of information is shown, including the AC of anyone the character looks at.
  8. A handheld scanner which can identify any medical issues and suggest a proper course of treatment after 1 turn of activity. Increases the efficacy of any non-magical healing by 50%.
  9. A classic 1980s vintage camero. Neon yellow, covered in dings and dents and missing the passenger side door, but otherwise mostly intact.
  10. A deep blue motorcycle in the style of the one from Akira. You’re probably nowhere near as skilled in riding it, but it’s actually in pretty good condition aside from some chipped paint.
  11. A nail gun, which someone else has modified with a small compressed air tank. The gun is not a functional weapon, but does allow for deploying nails quickly and quietly.
  12. A harness with large, glowing-red plates at several key support points around the body. When activated, these plates generate a personal anti-gravity field, making the wearer act as though they are in a zero G environment.
  13. A really fancy Nikon digital camera, complete with monopod and a lens that probably cost more than a car when it was new.
  14. A nice, 88-key electric keyboard. Has a number of instrument sounds pre-loaded, including acoustic guitar, grand piano, and harpsichord.
  15. A solid body, V-2 style electric guitar. The amp is built into the body, thanks to microamp technologies that will be invented in 2214.
  16. An honest-to goodness, Back to the Future-style hoverboard.
  17. One of those real-life “hoverboards.” The kind that has wheels, and rotates on an axis between your feet.
  18. A laptop PC. Repairing it involves completely reformatting the drive due to data corruption. It’s a reasonably powerful machine, probably meant for gaming. If only you had any of those…
  19. A tower PC. It is a low grade machine, but its software and operating system are intact. It may contain valuable information from the pre-apocalypse.
  20. A flashlight. A nice heavy one. The handle can be unfolded into a tiny tripod, and the head is hinged so the light can be angled perpendicular to the handle.
  21. A standing vacuum cleaner with attached bag. Part of repairing it is strapping a car battery to it for power.
  22. A laserjet printer with a built in scanner. Can duplicate any document you feed into it, or print from an attached computer.
  23. A Creative Zen brand MP3 player. Filled with terabytes worth of music: (1. Country, 2. Rap, 3. Novelty, 4. Pop, 5. Classic Rock, 6. Nu Metal, 7. Folk, 8. Jazz, 9. Inane Podcasts, 10. Whatever the technologist’s player enjoys.)
  24. A Segway.
  25. A nice, heavy-duty quadcopter. Can carry a single encumbering item.
  26. An Kindle with an advanced X-Ray scanner. When left on top of a book for 1 turn, the Kindle can actually scan each individual page automatically, and digitize the book without ever opening the cover.
  27. A magnetic deflector shield which resembles nothing so much as a complete set of sports padding. Helmet, elbows, knees, and palms. When active, it deflects high-velocity metal objects such as swords, arrows, or bullets, granting a +1 to AC. Can be worn in conjunction with other armors, but provides no protection against non-metal attacks.
  28. A jetpack.
  29. A water purifying filter. Effectively removes any non-magical contaminants, including poison.
  30. A full space suit.
  31. A military grade gas mask.
  32. A handheld synthrope dispenser. The dispenser contains a compressed material which is sprayed out of a tiny nozzle, and solidifies into a rope-like substance on contact with air. Heated sections of the rope become powerfully adhesive, and will remain stuck once they cool. Synthrope dissolves within 6 hours.
  33. A telescoping 15′ pole. Can be retracted down to about 2′ in length.
  34. A megaphone.
  35. A Roomba.
  36. A large shoulder-mounted net-cannon, which attaches to the body via a series of padded straps. Cannon works like a T-Shirt cannon, but fires weighted netting up to 30′ away, requiring a save versus Breath to avoid becoming entangled.
  37. A clothes washing machine.
  38. A clothes drying machine.
  39. Augmented Reality goggles, allowing the wearer to experience the world around them in a completely different way. Everyone looks like they’re smiling, the grass is always green, and rampaging monsters look like giant kittens who just want your love and attention.
  40. An electron microscope, allowing any object to be examined for even the most minute details.
  41. A video game console, with 4-6 games found nearby.
  42. Image editing software. When installed onto a computer, can be used to manipulate photographs.
  43. The Fing LongerAudio editing software. When installed onto a computer, can be used to manipulate recorded audio.
  44. A pair of helmets connected by a thick bundle of wires. When activated, two living brains can effectively switch places.
  45. A Fing-Longer.
  46. A modern police taser. Twin prongs on cables which fires up to 10′. On a successful hit, target is immobilized for 1 turn. Weapon can only be fired once without resetting, and is ineffective against characters with an armor bonus greater than 2.
  47. A small device fitted into the ear, which produces sounds by vibrating the muscles around your ear, and sends sound by interpreting your brainwaves. Allows for completely silent audio communication.
  48. An RC car.
  49. An RC plane.
  50. A model rocket.
  51. Stealth camouflage. Turns the wearer effectively invisible, with only a slight warping of the space around them possibly revealing their presence. Camo may be damaged by heavy impacts, or by extended exposure to water.
  52. A weapon scope which digitally tags any target it passes over. Tagged targets may continue to be tracked even if they pass out of sight. May tag up to 8 individuals at a time.
  53. Night vision goggles.
  54. Heat vision goggles.
  55. X-Ray specs. Functions exactly like real ones don’t. Allows you to see through as much as you want to see through.
  56. A hair dryer.
  57. A large pod. If a person spends one night sleeping in it, the pod will take samples of their blood, their brainwaves, their appearance, etc. When they leave, the pod will seal up and begin to hum. 1 month later, a clone will emerge. Roll 1d6: 1-2: Horribly disfiguringly mutated, 3-4: Roll 1d4 Metamorphica mutations, 5-6: Identical clone.
  58. Electric shears, like those used by a barber.
  59. A teleportation pad. Can be made to function perfectly, but only one is ever found at a time. In order to retrieve the other pad, you must use the teleported blindly, being transported to an unknown location. The second pad, having not been repaired, will break the moment your group comes through. It must then be hauled back to base manually for its own repairs.
  60. A heating dish, like the one you might have had in your first apartment.
  61. A device which emits a high frequency tone when activated. Each instance of this device is set to produce a different kind of tone, each of which has a different effect. 1, Attracts dogs, 2. Attracts bats, 3. Makes anyone who hears it poop, 4.  Makes anyone who hears it irritable and prone to angry outbursts.
  62. Rocket Boots. The design of these is poor compared to a proper jetpack. They allow the wearer to move at extremely high velocities, which can make for effective charge attacks or escape attempts. But, there is a 2-in-6 chance with each use that the wearer will go completely off course.
  63. A high quality video camera.
  64. A high speed video camera, suitable for recording thousands of frames per second.
  65.  A phenomenal, DJ-quality sound system. Can be used in conjunction with any sound-producing electronics, or with the included microphone.
  66. A 4-wheeled ATV.
  67. A freestanding lamp.
  68. A small translator robot, little more than a disk with a face on it. The robot has a simplistic, but friendly personality. Has an effective 6-in-6 language skill and will happily translate anything you need. Hesitates any time it is asked to translate rudeness.
  69. A hotplate.
  70. A leaf blower.
  71. An electric fan. (1. Free standing, 2. Desk Size, 3. Box Fan, 4. Heavy duty.)
  72. An electric wheelchair.
  73. A bug zapper
  74. An exoskeletal structure which fits around the hand like a glove. Confers immense crush and grip strength on the hand, allowing it to hold on on to a ledge indefinitely, or bend swords or gun barrels.
  75. A toaster
  76. A microwave.
  77. A lawn sprinkler of whatever style you prefer. (Highly effective when used with gasoline!)
  78. A forklift.
  79. A programmable robotic arm. Has no sensors, but can be instructed to perform a set of potions when prompts are given. Roll 1d4 to determine size: (1. Half human size. 2. Human size. 3. Three-times human sized. 4. Construction sized.)
  80. 30′ of liquid sensing wire wrapped in absorbent rope. If any fluid touches the rope, an alarm will go off immediately.
  81. A backpack sized water-compression tank. Capable of compressing water down to 25% of its normal size.
  82. A handheld laser-cutting tool. Able to slice a 4′ line through just about any material within the space of a turn. Does so with almost complete silence.
  83. A 6″ tall robot which moves on treads, and manipulates objects with two tiny pincer arms. Is intelligent enough to accept simple verbal commands.
  84. A sewing machine.
  85. A gambling machine. (1. Video Poker, 2. Slots, 3. A claw machine 4. A coin push machine.)
  86. A moderately heavy-duty water pump, capable of pushing about 20 gallons per minute.
  87. An air compressor.
  88. A V-chip which can be programmed with certain information, then installed into a person. Any time that person would reveal or express the indicated information by any means, they fail to do so. Instead, they use some replacement information. So instead of saying “Virgil is planning to kill you,” they say “I enjoy sexually molesting stuffed toys.” Or something like that.
  89. A personal holographic projection device. Always a pre-rendered recording to be emitted in life-size above it, appearing for all intents and purposes identical to reality.
  90. A chainsaw.
  91. An electric drill.
  92. A functioning AI, trapped in a device that is not connected to anything. Treat this as an NPC, who who will probably be grateful for being released, but will also doubtless be someone maladjusted from their long isolation.
  93. A hangglider, constructed of the highly advanced lightweight materials that make such a device feasible.
  94. A helmet which can be connected to a computer via a bundle of wires. When a person is wearing the helmet, their skull will be destroyed and their brain dissected. The entirety of their consciousness will then be uploaded to the computer they are connected to.
  95. A personal sized submarine, capable of holding only a single person.
  96. A heavy backpack with a hose-like extension. When activated, the extension emits a kind of “tractor beam,” capable of pulling objects towards it. The weight limit of the beam is equal to the weight of whomever is wearing the device.
  97. An auto-follow spotlight equipped with repulsortech. Once a target is identified the light can fly through the air to follow them wherever they go.
  98. A cryogenic freezing tube. Can be set for any length of time.
  99. An earthquake machine. When mounted to a hardpoint (such as a support beam), a weighted rod will begin to shift back and forth. Microcomputers will calculate the reaction reaction to this movement, and adjust the movement of the rod to match a structure’s frequency. 1 watch after the device is in put in place, it will be able to produce violent shaking within the building after 1 turn of buildup. This is unlikely to destroy the building, but is almost certain to disrupt any loose objects, and frighten any people.
  100. An ultralight helicopter.

Colorful Characters 27: Bric Shilic

This is honestly EXACTLY what I pictured Bric Shilic's cart looking like. Right down to the umbrella and the bicycle wheels.
This product photo is EXACTLY what I was picturing in my head when I first described Bric Shelic to my players. The only difference would be a whole lot more dents, dings, grime, and grease.

I never expected to write another Colorful Characters post, but here we are. There’s no way I could keep this fuckin’ guy to myself.

Bric Shilic is a parts vendor. Human parts. He meanders through the back alleys of large cities. The ones that the locals have learned to avoid. When he sees someone with a serious injury or disfigurement, he calls out to them with a practiced friendliness that seems at odds with his gravelly voice. He likes to say “An arm or a leg won’t cost you an arm and a leg!” It’s a witticism he’s proud of coming up with.

He speaks speaks with all the bluster, fast-talk, and suspicious confidence of a successful street vendor. All of it comes through a foreign accent so thick it’s sometimes too dense to penetrate, but you get what he’s saying by context. I went with a stereotypical middle eastern accent myself.

Also present is Bric Shilic’s cart, covered in dried blood and grease, buzzing with gnats and flies. Inside of it, Bric Shilic has one of everything, but only one. If you’re missing an eye, he has one eye, if you’re missing a thumb, he’s got one thumb, and if you’re missing 12′ of intestine, well he’s got 14′, but he’s willing to cut it down for you. Special deal.

His prices are:

1,000 money for any small, mostly cosmetic graft. Noses, fingers, ears, etc.
2,000 money for major grafts. Arms, hands, legs, eyes, genitals, etc.
3,000 money for anything that has to go inside of you. Livers, lungs, bones, etc.

There are usually little stories to go along with each piece. “Nose came from little boy. Die in terrible accident. Was hit by…stick. Stick wielded by bad man. Not Bric Shilic. You buy. You buy.”

For any parts that are not internal, the player should be given some idea of what they look like. After all, the character is lucky just to have found someone willing to sell them a right hand. Who are they to complain that the hand comes from someone of a different age, sex, or ethnicity? It will function just fine, of course. Bric Shilic does not sell shoddy merchandise. But if the character is gonna look like a frankenstein, they oughta know it.

Flip a coin to determine the sex of the person the donated part is from. Roll 1d8 – 1 to determine the decade of life the donor was in when the part was harvested. Parts have a 1-in-6 chance to match the recipient’s ethnicity, otherwise the skin is of a noticeably different color.

Parts are attached by using Bric Shilic’s body fluids as an adhesive. He’s sensitive about explaining why this works, but the results are undeniable. If you need a new nose, Bric Shilic just licks the back of it, then presses it against your face for a few seconds. The process burns a little, but when he removes his hand you’ll be able to sniff,sneeze, and smell with the best of them! Of course, installing internal parts is a little more of an involved process that will require Bric Shelic to shove his entire arm down your throat. He’ll ask some of your friends to hold you down if a procedure like that is necessary.

Bric Shilic is a 6th level Magic User. If attacked, he primarily uses spells like Hold Person and Sleep.

d100 Magic Words: Opposites, and Evocation

A wizard using magic words to summon a monsterThe best way to implement words with opposite meanings had me stumped for a little bit. On the one hand, there are some opposites which players should absolutely have to earn separately. Stuff like Fire and Ice, or Love and Hate. Yet there are other words which seem as though players ought to be able to automatically know one if they already know the other. Words like Fortune and Misfortune, or Appear and Disappear.

I was seriously toying with the idea of some kind of “discover opposite word” ability before I realized that the solution to the problem was already built into the system: if you know a word, then you also know any words derived from it. If an opposite is created merely by adding or removing a prefix or suffix, then it’s functionally the same word for the purposes of creating spells.

In retrospect, this seems so obvious that I feel a little silly spelling it out. But I’m the guy who came up with the system in the first place, and I was confused by this, so it seems reasonable to assume others might have a similar mental hangup. Anyway, the first of the two lists below are opposites which don’t share the same root, and thus would need to be learned separately.

The second list, Evocations and Shapes, is of course a spellcasting necessity. While spells like Fire Ball or Lightning Bolt aren’t exactly the most creative or interesting spells, I would be remiss if elements and shapes were not represented on these tables. And the great thing about forcing myself to write 100 point tables is that I need to really stretch myself to find interesting elements and shapes to include. So while Fire Ball may be droll, I’m curious to see players create spells like Plasmatic Circle, Magnetic Ray, or Earth Ball.

d100 Opposites

  1. Expand
  2. Contract
  3. Open
  4. Close
  5. On
  6. Off
  7. Abundance
  8. Scarcity
  9. Accept
  10. Refuse
  11. Admit
  12. Deny
  13. Friend
  14. Foe
  15. Bitter
  16. Sweet
  17. Odd
  18. Even
  19. Old
  20. Young
  21. Past
  22. Present
  23. Peace
  24. War
  25. Plentiful
  26. Scarce
  27. Power
  28. Weak
  29. Beautiful
  30. Ugly
  31. Private
  32. Public
  33. Ancient
  34. Modern
  35. Answer
  36. Question
  37. Arrive
  38. Depart
  39. Begin
  40. End
  41. Grow
  42. Shrink
  43. Large
  44. Small
  45. Construct
  46. Demolish
  47. Love
  48. Hate
  49. Scatter
  50. Collect
  51. Sink
  52. Float
  53. Slow
  54. Fast
  55. Truth
  56. Falsehood
  57. Under
  58. Over
  59. Victory
  60. Defeat
  61. Virtue
  62. Vice
  63. Vanish
  64. Appear
  65. Win
  66. Lose
  67. Zenith
  68. Nadir
  69. Rare
  70. Common
  71. Rich
  72. Poor
  73. Permanent
  74. Temporary
  75. Night
  76. Day
  77. Happy
  78. Sad
  79. Major
  80. Minor
  81. More
  82. Less
  83. Loose
  84. Tight
  85. Lazy
  86. Industrious
  87. Lead
  88. Follow
  89. Left
  90. Right
  91. Less
  92. More
  93. Intelligent
  94. Stupid
  95. Shame
  96. Pride
  97. Help
  98. Hinder
  99. Life
  100. Death

d100 Evocations & Shapes

  1. Acid
  2. Air
  3. Arc
  4. Arcane
  5. Ball
  6. Blade
  7. Blanket
  8. Blast
  9. Boil
  10. Bolt
  11. Burning
  12. Channel
  13. Circle
  14. Cloud
  15. Coax
  16. Cold
  17. Cone
  18. Crystal
  19. Cube
  20. Dark
  21. Disc
  22. Disease
  23. Disintegration
  24. Dome
  25. Earth
  26. Electricity
  27. Explosion
  28. Exude
  29. Fall
  30. Filth
  31. Fire
  32. Flame
  33. Flow
  34. Gas
  35. Gaze
  36. Geyser
  37. Goo
  38. Gravity
  39. Grow
  40. Growth
  41. Hail
  42. Heat
  43. Ice
  44. Imbue
  45. Inebriate
  46. Lance
  47. Laser
  48. Lava
  49. Light
  50. Lightning
  51. Line
  52. Magic
  53. Magnetic
  54. Metal
  55. Missile
  56. Mud
  57. Music
  58. Narcotic
  59. Nature
  60. Nothing
  61. Nuclear
  62. Ooze
  63. Orb
  64. Pandemic
  65. Pentagram
  66. Plant
  67. Plasma
  68. Poison
  69. Pressure
  70. Prismatic
  71. Protoplasmic
  72. Pyramid
  73. Radiate
  74. Rain
  75. Ray
  76. Rock
  77. Sand
  78. Shadow
  79. Shock
  80. Slime
  81. Snow
  82. Sonic
  83. Spectral
  84. Speed
  85. Sphere
  86. Spiral
  87. Spray
  88. Spread
  89. Square
  90. Steam
  91. Steel
  92. Storm
  93. Telekinetic
  94. Time
  95. Triangle
  96. Tumble
  97. Vacuum
  98. Wall
  99. Water
  100. Wind

d100 Results of Drug-Addled Engineering

Rick and Morty Dot Com, Forever and EverAn engineer locks herself in a room with her tools, a ton of miscellaneous parts, and a fucking mountain of drugs. A week later she walks out holding __________ in her hands.

Any attempt to modify these devices after you come down from your high is completely fruitless. They are impossibly complex, relying entirely on drug-addled logic. You don’t have any idea how they work, let alone how to change the way they work.

I should note that this table was requested by one of my players, who plays an engineer with a drug problem.

  1. Goggles which replace everyone’s heads with emoticons.
  2. Goggles that make anyone under 12 years old invisible to the wearer.
  3. Goggles that monitor conversations for context clues. If you hear someone’s name, then the goggles heard the name as well, and will remember it. From now on, any time you see that person, their name will be displayed above their heads.
  4. A grenade which opens a hole to some eldritch place of tentacles, eyes, and eye-tentacles.
  5. A grenade filled with compacted birthday party accoutrements. Baloons, confetti, streamers, and cake will all explode outward when the grenade is thrown. There’s even a banner which attaches itself to the nearest wall.
  6. A sort of implosion grenade. When detonated, it compresses everything in a 10′ radius into a 2′ square cardboard box.
  7. Subdermal telescoping dick elongator. Produce painful, 1′ erections at will!
  8. Subdermal LEDs, allowing the engineer to produce glowing dots of red, blue, or green in a 5×5 grid on the center of their chest.
  9. Subdermal laser pointer installed beneath the finger, allowing the character to point much further away than they would normally be able to!
  10. A palm-size box with a digital monitor. Pressing a button causes it to display a random number between 1 and 10,000
  11. A palm-sized box with a speaker. Pressing a button causes one of a number of random sounds to play. There are several bird calls, shouted profanities, brief clips of synthetic music, and farts.
  12. A palm-sized box with a speaker on it. Pressing a button causes the box to wait for 10 minutes, then emit an ear-splittingly loud tone for 1 hour.
  13. Shoes which light up with every step you take.
  14. Shoes with a button on the side of them. When the button is pressed, the shoes cause the wearer to begin dancing–at least below the waist. Roll to determine the type of dance the shoe is capable of: 1. Tap, 2. Salsa, 3. Ballroom, 4. Ballet.
  15. Shoes which, when the heels are tapped together, produce a row of 4 wheels down the center of the sole. Rollerblades triple your movement rate over smoothly paved areas, although you may be forced to make saves versus Wipeout whenever you are struck, or the referee judges the terrain is unfavorable.
  16. A buttplug, attached via a wire to a wrist-mounted screen. This screen shows details of your body temperature, as well as numerical representations of your health, fatigue, etc. Essentially, this device allows you to view parts of your character sheet within the game world.
  17. A buttplug that vibrates.
  18. A buttplug with a button on it. If the button is pushed while the plug is in someone’s butt, it will attune to that person. If the button is pushed while not in their butt, and they are within 1 mile of the buttplug, it will turn to point in their direction.
  19. A 4×4 steel crate with mechanisms haphazardly welded all over it. Anyone kept inside of it for 3 hours will have their height modified by 1d4 – 3 inches.
  20. A 4×4 steel crate with mechanisms haphazardly welded all over it. Things placed inside of it are teleported to an unknown location. At least you think they’re teleported. That’s what the screen says is happening. From your perspective they just sorta…disappear.
  21. A 4×4 steel crate with mechanisms haphazardly welded all over it. Objects appear in it occasionally. Never anything very useful, just random crap. it’s unclear where it comes from.
  22. A pen that explodes when clicked three times.
  23. A pair of pens. Any motion made with the red one is duplicated by the blue one. By moving the red one, the blue pen can be made to stand up and write, however some part of the blue pen must always be resting on a surface. It doesn’t levitate or fly.
  24. A pen that will write in different colors based on the emotion the writer is feeling when they use it. Lies, notably, appear in a shade of pink.
  25. A device which can be fitted into the ear. Everything the wearer hears is autotuned.
  26. A device which can be fitted into the ear. Replaces some words with other words. The device is easily programmable by the user, allowing them to determine which words will be replaced, and which words they will be replaced by.
  27. A device which can be fitted into the ear. If a pin drops within a mile, you’ll hear it. It’s a pin-drop-detector, and it monitors the environment for pin-drop vibrations, and amplifies them accordingly.
  28. The engineer removed their fingernails, and replaced them with tiny monitors, each of which picks up a different television station.
  29. The engineer removed their fingernails, and replaced them with synthetic fingernails which grow and retract at will, up to 8″ in length!
  30. The engineer removed their fingernails, and replaced them with tiny percussion plates, allowing the force of a light punch to be delivered with the flick of a finger.
  31. A printer that produces maps of entirely fictional places.
  32. A printer that produces bad, but always unique, poetry.
  33. A printer with a microphone duct taped to the side of it. If a picture or mental image is described into the microphone, the printer will produce ASCII art of the thing you described.
  34. A glove which can be fired off of your hand up to 20′ with good accuracy. The glove has no substantial weight. Being struck by it is more offensive and annoying than it is harmful.
  35. A glove which cannot drop what it’s holding. It will move your fingers and hand for you if it feels something leaving its grip. You’ve actually got to hold down a safety button on the glove to do so much as set down a glass of water. Throwing or dropping an item in combat is next to impossible.
  36. A pair of gloves with 80mm computer fans mounted on the palms. It’s meant to work as a stabilizer for the rocket boots you plan to build later.
  37. A box on a strap, meant to be worn tightly against the throat. Makes the wearer sound like a robot.
  38. A box on a strap, meant to be worn tightly against the throat. Automatically performs a tracheotomy if it detects any evidence of throat or tongue swelling.
  39. A box on a strap, meant to be worn tightly against the throat. Whenever a randomly determined party member says “Bad [engineer’s name]!) you get an electric shock that prevents any activity for 1 round. You can’t seem to figure out how to get it off.
  40. A room-sized device of impossible complexity. Insert your finger into a hole, and 30 minutes of intense activity later, a small card will drop out of a slot. The card produces the perfect insult that will absolutely devastate you emotionally if ever directed at you.
  41. A room-sized device of impossible complexity. Insert your finger into a hole, and 30 minutes of intense activity later, a small card will drop out of a slot.The card lists everything you’ve eaten for the last week.
  42. A room-sized device of impossible complexity. Insert your finger into a hole, and 30 minutes of intense activity later, a small card will drop out of a slot. The card describes a random thing you’ve forgotten. Something like the name of your childhood friend’s pet mouse, or the combination to a toy diary you owned when you were eight.
  43. A head-mounted camera which creates 3D models of environments. Can be hooked up to software to create google-maps style walkthroughs.
  44. A head mounted camera that intelligently identifies moments that would make for good “Fail” videos. The device then automatically uploads them to youtube.
  45. A head mounted camera that saves instances of violence to a publicly accessible server. This way the public can determine whether or not your actions were justified, and you can be held accountable for them.
  46. A flashlight with a fleshlight hidden inside of it.
  47. An X-Ray flashlight. When directed at a person their insides become visible. The light also gives them a tumor that will kill them in 10 + 1d20 years.
  48. A flashlight with “strobe” and “disco” settings. The handle can be unfolded into a tripod.
  49. A gun that shoots good feelings. Makes people happy.
  50. A very small gun which fires a massive caliber of bullet. It deals a fuckton of damage if it hits (3d12), but the kick of it deals 1d8 damage to the wielder. Any time the gun is fired, it is sent flying out of the wielders hand and will need to be searched for to recover it.
  51. A gun which fires bullets in slow motion. It’s unclear how this is accomplished. Possibly via temporal manipulation, localized around the projectile. The bullet comes out of the barrel at a speed of about 1′ per minute, and goes forwards until it hits something. When it does finally hit something, it does so with all the force it would have had if it was firing normally.
  52. A hand held scanner attached to a briefcase-sized box. If you spend a few minutes thoroughly scanning a person, they will be digitized and displayed on a monitor mounted on the box. 20 buttons display different emotes for that animation.
  53. A hand held scanner attached to a briefcase-sized box. When an object is scanned, the box spends a few moments whirring before producing an origami copy of whatever was scanned.
  54. A hand held scanner attached to a briefcase-sized box. When a person is scanned, a screen on the box displays a list of their allergies.
  55. A heavy mechanical backpack. Adjusting the various knobs and levers on it allows you to produce several varieties of fountain drinks.
  56. A heavy mechanical backpack. When activated, it creates a 10′ air-conditioned bubble around the wearer. Ambient temperature is reduced by 10-20 degrees within the bubble.
  57. A heavy mechanical backpack. By turning a crank, you provide power to an extendible helicopter blade that pops out of the top. For every 10 minutes you crank, you create 1 minute of airborne time. A charge lasts for 1 day before it dissipates.
  58. A U-Shaped electronic headpiece which requires the wearer to shave their head. While wearing it, the wearer instantaneously knows the answer to any mathematical equation they read.
  59. A U-Shaped electronic headpiece which requires the wearer to shave their head. The device pumps the wearer’s brain full of confidence chemicals. They are immune to fear, but also to retreat. The device cannot be removed in less than 10 minutes without causing brain damage.
  60. A U-Shaped electronic headpiece which requires the wearer to shave their head. Allows the wearer to be sexually attracted to anyone or anything they want to be.
  61. A chair, covered in electrodes and leather straps to hold someone down. When a switch is flipped, whomever is sitting in it is affected by a brief, but intense, electrical shock. They pass out, and when they awaken, they have a new personality trait. (Roll this from one of the “On the NPC” tables, or just make it up if you don’t own that book for some reason).
  62. An all-terrain wheelchair. The treads move very slowly, but effectively cross most terrain.
  63. An egg-shaped chair which emits a low-level psychic radiation. Anyone within 100′ of the chair will feel a strong impulse to kill whomever is sitting in it. The moment that person leaves the chair, the impulse will end.
  64. A briefcase which contains random, non-functional parts duct taped all over the inside of it. The engineer is quite proud of their brilliant invention.
  65. A briefcase which contains a yellow light that shines into the faces of anyone who opens it. If the light touches your face, you must save versus Magic or be impressed with the value of the contents.
  66. A briefcase which can be quickly unfolded into plastic armor. The armor grants +1 to the wearer’s armor score.
  67. A coffin-like pod that will freeze anyone who gets inside of it. They are unharmed by the process, but will remain in cryogenic stasis for 1d1000 years. There is no way to extract them without killing them.
  68. A coffin-like pod. Anyone who sleeps in it will experience their dreams much more vividly, and remain in their dream world for 1d6 days worth of time.
  69. A coffin-like pod which gives a new accent to anyone who sleeps in it.
  70. An 8′ tall tesla coil. Anyone who approaches within 10′ of it is zapped 5 seconds back in time.
  71. A 8′ tall tesla coil. Anyone who approaches within 10′ is painfully electrocuted to death. A second zap produces an exact duplicate of the dead character, with identical memories to the previous one, except for any memories of the first character’s grizley death.
  72. A 2′ tall tesla coil which functions as a kind of thought-sink. Anything that you think while touching the coil doesn’t actually go through your brain, it’s diverted through the coil. Thus, nothing you think while touching the coil can be remembered later. Nor can it be read out of you by a telepath.
  73. A 15′ length of wire with exposed ends. If two people each hold one end of the wire, then they will feel one another’s level of hunger, as well as any particular food cravings the other has.
  74. A 15′ length of wire with a flat copper tab on one end, and a 3.5mm plug on the other. If you put the tab on a substance, and you put the plug in your mouth, then you will be able to taste whatever the tab is touching. You don’t actually get any sustenance from this exercise, but it does allow you to taste things from 15′ away!
  75. A 15′ length of wire with an USB connection at one end, and a drill bit at the other end. If the USB end is plugged into a computer and the drill bit is placed against your head, the bit will automatically drill into your brain. Once it is firmly in place, your neural pathways will automatically be transferred into the computer, and then erased from their original location. This process only works in a single direction.
  76. A drinking straw that filters whatever is drank through it. It cannot filter out poisons, but it will purify water that is contaminated by dirt, feces, or heavy metals.
  77. A drinking straw which makes anything drank through it taste exactly like a strawberry soda.
  78. A straw which somehow resonates with the skeletal structure of most camels. If rested on top of such a creature, it will spend a moment calibrating itself, then shatter several of the camel’s vertebrae.
  79. A game controller that partially plays for you when you hold it. Using it makes you much better at video games. The equivalent of having a 6-in-6 skill.
  80. A game controller with a 3′ long antennae. When you point it at a person, there is a 1% chance of that person being susceptible to control by this device. If they are, you can control them completely for 1 exploration turn before their brain re-calibrates itself to reassert control over the body.
  81. A game controller. When you hold it, you seems as though you are controlling a game. You hear sound effects, and the controller occasionally vibrates, but you can’t actually see the game. You have no idea what is happening in it.
  82. A quadcopter which has been programmed to move between 3 randomly determined locations. It will wait at each location for 17 hours before leaving to travel to the next.
  83. A quadcopter which is set up to follow its creator. Any time its creator does something, it will play an audio recording of an enthusiastic compliment. (In the creator’s own voice, of course). There’s no way to stop it from doing this without destroying it completely.
  84. A quadcopter which has been imbued with true intelligence. It decides that this place is fuckin’ bullshit, and leaves forever.
  85. A small device inserted into both nostrils. Lights are mounted on it which illuminate the wearer’s face eerily in the dark. Kinda like putting a flashlight up to your face, but wearable all the time!
  86. A small device inserted into both nostrils which allows the wearer to smell things from much further away by pointing an attached dish-gun at the thing they would like to be smelling.
  87. A small device inserted into both nostrils. Vibrates to let the wearer know when it has detected something it thinks the wearer will find funny.
  88. A humanoid robot with the personality and traits of an incredibly frail nonagenarian.
  89. A humanoid robot that is only interested in sexual gratification. It’ll fuck everything and anything but its own creator, because that’d be like fucking its own parent. Gross.
  90. A humanoid robot that tries its very best to be a homicidal psychopath. Fortunately, it is astoundingly inept at murder, and its attempts at homicide are mostly just comical.
  91. A program, on a floppy disk. Installs a virus, the only function of which is to copy itself into as many computers as possible. If it is installed on a computer, entering a complex series of keystrokes will cause it to create a dialogue that says “I’m here!” That is all the virus does.
  92. A program, on a floppy disk. When inserted into a computer, it will automatically open any files on the computer that have the word “secret” associated with them.
  93. A program, on a floppy disk. It’s 8-bit Flappy Bird.
  94. A shield which gives the wielder GPS style instructions on when to block incoming attacks. It’s pretty laggy, so it usually just tells you when you should have blocked.
  95. A shield with haptic feedback, allowing the wielder to feel the pain suffered by the shield as though they’d been struck by it themselves!
  96. A shield with a slight repulsor effect on the front, intended to make it better at blocking incoming attacks. It doesn’t, but it does allow the shield to make an effective hover-sled.
  97. A small device on a tripod which creates a light show production w/ lasers. The production responds intelligently to any music in the environment.
  98. A small device on a tripod which functions as an auto-surveyor. On an attached screen you can view measurements of the environment, as well as the number of people who entered the environment from each possible vector since it was set up.
  99. A small device on a tripod. When activated, it creates a holographic, wireframe environment by spinning really fast and projecting in all directions.
  100. (100) Roll on this table twice. Figure out how to combine the two things you rolled into one thing.

Bringing PCs Back as Cyborgs

MGS Meryl Shot, Sniper's Trap The ORWA campaign recently had its first character death. Umquat, of blessed memory, had her neck melted through by the Righteous Gaze of the Children of God. She fell to the ground a mere 15′ from the rest of the party. Even if there had been hope that she might be saved, there was no way for Umquat’s fellows to step out from their cover without sharing her fate. The dice foretold that she would gurgle and cough for 4 rounds before she was able to die, and all the party could do was watch. It was a death beautiful in its tragedy.

However, beautiful as it was, it occurred to me that there’s no reason for death to be the end of Umquat. After all, ORWA has long since moved beyond the technological limitations of its medieval beginnings. The setting has a very “Saturday Morning Sci-Fi” vibe, and characters already have the option of cybernetically enhancing themselves. Why not allow dead characters to be ‘resurrected’ through cybernetics? If fits the themes of the game perfectly.

Requirements

The body of the character to be cybernetically resurrected must first be recovered. Your friends need to get your corpse back to the safety of a haven with Internet access. (By which I mean, a haven where the party can make contact with agents of the shadowy organization known as “The Internet.”) If the majority of your body is unrecoverable for whatever reason, then there is no hope for you.

Cybernetic resurrection is also expensive. It costs all the money of the person being reincarnated. All of it. They’re able to hold on to any material goods they might own, but any liquid wealth is confiscated by The Internet to pay for the procedure. If you didn’t have very much money, or no money at all, well then you lucked out. The Internet is feeling generous that day.

The Consequences

Cybernetics are great for enhancing the natural function of your body, but they’re shit at actually replacing those functions whole cloth. And unfortunately, you’re dead, which means some part of your body is so damaged that it could no longer function at all. That part of your body had to be completely replaced with cybernetics, and those cybernetics are gonna be a whole lot worse than your original home-grown human parts were.

I use Courtney Campbell’s Table for Avoiding Death. It is a very good table. One of its many benefits is that when a character dies, the table describes precisely what their means of death was. In Umquat’s case, her neck was melted through. Other deaths include a bone shard puncturing your femoral artery, the front of your face becoming frozen enough to shatter, and dozens upon dozens more. Like I said, it’s a very good table.

When a dead character is cybernetically resurrected, the part of their body that was destroyed during the death process must be replaced by a mechanical facsimile. The drawbacks of this are entirely at the discretion of the referee. They should be significant, but not so debilitating that the player wants to retire the character. For example, this is what Umquat will have to deal with:

Umquat’s new neck is good at allowing her to breathe, speak, and control her body with electrical impulses from her brain. However, it can’t handle food or drink. Umquat must now feed herself through a tube in her stomach, using special liquid rations which cost 3x the normal rate for rations. Even in dire circumstances, she cannot eat normal food. 

Also, she has to talk in a robot voice from now on.

As a corollary to this first point: since vital life functions are now managed by machines, the cyborg is vulnerable to EMP attacks. If all electronics would be shut down for any reason, then the cyborg is immediately reduced to 0 hit points until the effect is ended. (If they already were at 0 hit points, they gain 2 pain, as per the Table for Avoiding Death).

The second major drawback to being a cyborg is the consequences of brain death. In the real world, resuscitation has to occur within minutes of death, lest the patient’s brain be irreparably damaged. In the game, even ignoring the time it takes to recover, the actual process of being cybernetically reanimated takes nearly a month to complete. It is hardly surprising that cyborgs suffer from a variety of mental derangement. Roll on the table below to determine the way in which the cyborg’s brain is damaged.

  1. Gray Fox, Grey Fox, Cyborg Ninja, Metal Gear SolidThe cyborg is sexually attracted to spherical objects. They are a sphere-sexual.
  2. One of the many technicians who worked on resuscitating the cyborg has added secret instructions into their brain. The referee should write these down on a piece of paper, and place that piece of paper in an envelope. When the instructions become relevant, the player should be allowed to open and read the instructions.
  3. The cyborg becomes obsessed with a religion–either one that they already professed, or a new one determined by whatever means seem most expedient. The cyborg follows an arcane set of rules based on their extremist interpretation of the religion, and will find some way to bring every single conversation back to their faith.
  4. The cyborg is utterly disgusted by children. Any human that has not yet gone through puberty is profoundly offensive to the cyborg.
  5. The cyborg loses impulse control. Any time that the player mentions a possible course of action, jokes about something ludicrous that their character does, or even expresses a desire for something, the cyborg will do that thing.
  6. The cyborg becomes an absolute coward. Roll 3d6 to determine a morale score using the same chart hireling loyalty is generated with. Any time a hireling’s loyalty would need to be checked, the cyborg’s morale must be checked. On failure, they have to flee for their lives.
  7. The cyborg just doesn’t see why they would ever pass up a good time. If some pleasurable activity is available, they must agree to participate. There’s no way to keep the cyborg on task during a party, or in a red light district.
  8. The pleasure center of the cyborg’s brain has withered, and they are incapable of having a good time. Worldly pleasures just hold no draw for the cyborg, and they look down on any pursuit of pleasure they witness in others.
  9. The mood of the cyborg is completely disassociated from the events occurring around them. Rather, it’s a randomly determined fact established at the start of a game session. Roll: 1. Angry, 2. Cheerful, 3. Morose, 4. Silly, 5. Lethargic, 6. Anxious
  10. The cyborg becomes incredibly miserly, and will never spend more than 10% of their total net worth in a single game session or haven turn.
  11. The cyborg finds clothing incredibly uncomfortable against their skin, and refuses ever to wear it. They must be completely naked at all time, with the exception of jewelry. Jewelry is nice.
  12. Only one hand is ever available, because the other is constantly masturbating. Constantly.
  13. The cyborg develops a kind of narcolepsy. This usually isn’t too much of a problem, as companions are around to nudge them awake. If the cyborg is ever alone, however, then one of the results on the encounter die should indicate that they have fallen asleep, and will remain asleep for 1d4 turns or until awakened. Due to the adrenaline kick, the cyborg will never fall asleep in combat.
  14. The cyborg is given to passionate, flighty affections. Anytime a new NPC is encountered and engaged in discussion, the cyborg must make a 2d6 reaction roll for themselves. If they roll a 12, then they fall desperately in love, completely forgetting whoever they were in love with previously.
  15. The cyborg believes that they are more cybernetic than they actually are. Despite any evidence to the contrary, they do not believe anything remains of their human selves. As far as they’re concerned, they don’t have anything but circuits and disks in their heads. They will often attempt to “interface” with machines, which of course never works.
  16. The cyborg’s reality is almost entirely different than our own. Everything they see appears more colorful and simplistic than it actually is. Instead of people they see anthropomorphic animals, instead of blood and death they see silly slapstick comedy.
  17. The cyborg believes they are trapped at a certain age. They have all of the adult faculties and experience of their true age, but will act as though they’re doing an impression of a person of a different age. Roll to determine what age they think they are: 1. Four, 2. Nine, 3. Sixteen, 4. Ninety
  18. The cyborg becomes a serial doodler of graphic vulgarities. Any time the cyborg has a few free minutes, they scrawl dicks and tits and profanities on the walls. If they ever spend any length of time waiting somewhere, it will be clear to everyone that someone was there.
  19. The cyborg suffers from a literally paralyzing fear of the dark. If they ever find themselves in an area where they cannot see their surroundings, then they freeze in place. They are completely trapped until something illuminates their surroundings.
  20. The cyborg’s internal balance is messed up. They can usually walk okay (though they do stumble more often than most people). However, any time their balance would be in question, they fail automatically.
  21. The cyborg can’t quite control their eating, and they become immensely fat as a result. The added pudge requires that any armor be specially fitted for them. Their own fat takes up a full encumbrance worth of inventory space.
  22. The cyborg develops a depraved sexual fetish that even the most tolerant individuals are disgusted by. The cyborg must make a saving throw versus Poison during each haven turn. On a failure, they spend 1d6 x 100 money pursuing their strange fetish with a wild abandon, and they lose out on any opportunity to use their haven turn more productively. They will become well known in their community for their depravity, which will affect their reputation accordingly. (If the cyborg was in the middle of training, this does not interrupt that training. The training is merely delayed).
  23. The cyborg feels disassociated from their own flesh, and begins self-mutilating as a nervous habit. Any time that is not actively spent in some task requires a save versus Paralyzation. On a failure, the cyborg deals 1 point of damage to themselves.
  24. The cyborg becomes unbearably prudish about sex. Even something as simple as casual flirtation happening within earshot will prompt the cyborg to launch into a lecture about sexual morality. The cyborg is even uncomfortable around anyone who is a parent, because they know that such a person must have had sex at some point.
  25. The cyborg loves animals, and lacks impulse control. Anytime they see an animal they will run over to pet it and coo at it, without thought to their safety or any task they were previously performing.
  26. The cyborg refuses to ever bathe again. Their stench will make parley difficult, at least with any creature that has a human sense of smell.
  27. A new skill is created for the cyborg. It doesn’t matter what, so long as it is pretty much useless. Something like whittling, guitar hero, or macramé. The cyborg becomes obsessed with this new hobby, and cannot spend their haven turns doing anything other than training in this hobby until they reach the max level of skill.
  28. The cyborg refuses to acknowledge that they are affected by weather. Heat, cold, rain, or hail, it doesn’t matter. They will not make any attempt to protect or prepare themselves for dealing with environmental conditions. This will certainly end badly anytime they have to deal with these factors.
  29. Loud noises cause the cyborg to soil themselves.
  30. The cyborg is completely incapable of ‘negative’ emotions, such as anger, sadness, resentment, jealousy, suspicion, etcetera. They are dangerously naive because of this, and are absolutely convinced that everyone and everything they meet is a good friend to them.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Thoughts and theories on tabletop games.