Tag Archives: ORWA

Trying out Glory from God: The Past Gods

Saxo GrammaticusNote:This post is presented to you by the generous people who support my Patreon campaign. Normally I only update once a week, but thanks to your pledges, I’ll now be able to throw in one extra update each month. If my pledges keep going higher, I’ll eventually be able to move to a full two-posts-per-week schedule! So if that’s something you’d like to see, check out my PatreonWe now return to your regularly scheduled bonus P&P article:

The goal is to make cleric magic weirder. To create a better counterpart to the Magic Words system used by Magic Users in my games.

So far we’ve established the broad stokes of how the system is going to work, and how spells will be created. We’ve also created a kind a template for how gods can be presented in a useful, gameable way, as well as a fun table of oddities to make casting a little less predictable. Now we need to work up some examples to turn all of that theory into a reality. I’ll probably write two or three of these so I can really start to get a sense of where the system’s strengths and weaknesses are.

I’m going to be playtesting this system in my ORWA campaign, where I have one cleric who is playing a techno priest.  (Unfortunately, this player had real life obligations, and had to leave the game after only three sessions. But I wrote all of this before that happened, sooo….) Given that, it only makes sense to write up The Past Gods, who are worshiped by that sect. They’re not a very traditional deity, given that they’re sort of a pantheon of nameless entities that are worshiped as a single deific force. But if the system can’t handle weird, then it’s not a very good system.

The Past Gods


Domains

  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Lost Knowledge

Mythology

The past gods were the normal men and women of an advanced age now past. They gave us all of the many technological wonders humanity once enjoyed, and which humanity lost when it descended into a sinful, ignorant subrace. The past gods still hope that we can return from our fall, and so they bless us with samples of the technological wonders that will await us if we follow them.

Laws / Taboos:

  • Technology should be acquired and preserved. Even broken technology is sacred. In other circumstances, property should be respected. However, all technology belongs to The Past Gods, and so taking it in their name is not theft.
  • Technology should be understood through The Technology Support Rituals. To try and understand technology on one’s own merit is to presume equality with the humans of old, and this is an insult to The Past Gods. (This is a stricture of the church, and not one imposed by the gods themselves.)

Spells (All 1st level)

For the purposes of all spells here, “Technology” refers only to devices which are now beyond common human understanding in the setting. So a flashlight, a gun, or a cellphone would be considered technology, but a spade or a crossbow would not.

Abjuration (1 round casting time)

“And the biting current was altered, and brought to rest in the right place.”

The next time the targeted character would suffer electrical damage, that damage is grounded and does them no harm. The effect lasts for 2 exploration turns per caster level, or until it has been expended.

“For mechanisms work only by the will of the Past Gods, and not against their servants.”

The target becomes completely incapable of activating mechanical devices, either intentionally or not. This includes tripwires and pressure plates which might cause a trap to be sprung on them. Similarly they cannot open a lock or fire a gun, as these are also mechanisms. The effect lasts for 2 combat rounds per caster level.

Command (1 round casting time)

“Cease your function, blessed tool. You are in the hands of the enemy.”

An indicated piece of technology within 30′ of the caster ceases to function. It cannot be repaired for 2 exploration turns per caster level.

“The hooting screech, guardian of the net’s bounty.”

To cast this spell the caster opens their mouth, and from their body comes an inhuman sound. A series of high pitched screeches, mixed simultaneously with beeps and white noise. The sound is so cacophonous that nothing requiring sound can function within a 30′ radius of the caster. No speech, nor any spell casting either. This effect also blocks any special effects that use sound to function, such as Hideous Laughter. The spell lasts for up to 1 round per caster level, though the caster must maintain the spell with their full attention if they wish for it to last longer than a single round, and thus cannot take further actions.

Blessing (1 exploration turn casting time)

“For the sinful man, answers remain always elusive.”

This curse prevents the target from discovering some specific piece of information by any means. Even if it is directly told to them, it will fall immediately out of their heads like the name of the 99th person you’re introduced to at a party. Even if they try to exert all of their effort to paying attention when they are told this information, they simply cannot learn it.

The spell is cast on some written example of the forbidden information. The first person to read the ensorcled text will become the spell’s target, and they will remain subject to it until Remove Curse is cast.

“She did rise, as though held aloft by a rotor of blades.”

With the cacophonous sound of helicopter blades, the target of the spell rises into the air. There are no physical rotors, merely the sound of them. The beneficiary of the spell can travel in any direction at a rate of 30′ per round, up to 100′ in the air. The effect lasts for 2 exploration turns per caster level.

Divination (1 exploration turn casting time)

“You will know them by their form and by their function, for they are blessed.”

So long as the caster does not move from their spot, they gain a sort of technology-detecting vision. They may turn round if they wish, but cannot take any steps away from where they are when the spell is cast. Any technology that falls within their field of view will glow a slight shade of red. The caster is also able to determine the function and condition of the technology from the shade and vibration of this red aura. This doesn’t aide so much in diagnosing what needs to be repaired about a broken piece, but does allow for quick determination of what is working and what is not.

“Of my companion I did ask: call my phone, so that its location shall be revealed unto me.”

When cast, the caster identifies a piece of technology. It must be a general type, rather than a specific item. “An xPhone Universe 6SS” is an acceptable identification. “My cell phone,” is not.

The caster then knows the precise location of the closest instance of the described device. So long as the caster does not move a muscle, they can track any movement of the device. Once the caster moves, the effect ends.

Prayer (1 watch casting time)

“Though beset by magnets, the machine did boot.”

The cleric can order any broken machine to work for 1 turn per caster level. The caster does not control the machine, nor does the machine necessarily have access to its full range of functions that might require additional working bits. (Guns may be forced to work, but they will not produce bullets. Computers may be forced to boot, but they will not necessarily be able to display the data you wanted.)

“That which transpires here must stay here for all time”

The cleric consecrates an area of a 30′ radius, which lasts for 1 day per caster level. Everything that transpires within this space will be forgotten by those within it when they leave. Even the caster will have no recollection of what they said or did while within the consecrated space.

Ritual (1 haven turn casting time)

“From the gods’ mind, creatures were given life who held no form.”

This ritual requires that the caster have access to a computational device, such as a computer, or cell phone. It also requires 300 credits of computational resources.

When the spell is complete, the caster will have created an artificial intelligence. This new AI is an NPC like any other, with its own will, personality, and traits. It is able to move throughout computer systems with greater flexibility and understanding than even the most adept human user could achieve.

In thanks for giving birth to it, the AI will perform any 3 tasks the cleric asks of it without question. After this, it considers its debt to be paid, and will not accept commands from the cleric any longer. However, unless it has been made to act contrary to its personality, the AI will remain friendly with the caster, and may be willing to provide favors or services like any other friendly NPC would.

“Man and machine became one when man first came to rely upon shelter and fire. We now take one further step on that most ancient of paths.”

This ritual requires the cleric to have access to a piece of technology that currently works, as well as a willing subject. The cleric can perform the ritual on themselves if they wish.

The working technology is merged into the character’s body in whatever way the caster describes. The device now draws energy directly from the person’s body, and no longer requires batteries or any other power source. Further, the subject is now able to use the technology via thought. Depending on where the technology is placed, its function may be limited as logic would dictate.

If the merged technology is a gun, ammunition is still required as normal.

 

On a Red World Alone; Handling Factions

On a Red World...ALONE!The other day I was getting ready for an upcoming session of ORWA. Much of the adventure was going to involve the players interacting with various factions. As I wrote up the notes I thought I would need, it dawned on me that over the past year of running this game I’ve come up with a fairly robust set of tools for faction management. It happened without me even noticing, so I never really put it all together in writing. It doesn’t have all the features that I want a faction system to have, but perhaps there’s something here that others will benefit from.

First you should know how ORWA is laid out, since it’s not your typical campaign world. The physical size is very small–a single biodome on mars. I’ve been intentionally vague about precisely how big the dome is, but the point is that there’s not a lot of room for folks to get away from one another. It’s not unusual for my players to spend time in three, or even four different sovereign territories in a single game session

Given all that, the factions have ended up as cross between city states and street gangs. They have traditions and governmental structures, and wars. But their armies are measured in the hundreds at the most, and moving the boarder a few city blocks is considered a significant shift in territory. Within their territories they provide law and order, but unless you’re at the very heart of their turf, then you’re never more than two steps from anarchy.

I keep a simple map with faction boarders on it, which serves as my primary campaign map. There are narrow strips of no-man’s land between each faction, but pretty much all the space is the territory of one group or another. Each territory is keyed to a short description of the faction that holds it. These started out as 1-2 sentence affairs, but have slowly grown larger as the factions were developed through play. As with a lot of things in tabletop games, I’ve found it works a lot better to start simple, and let the details take shape on their own.

ORWA Map

The Outsiders (group “E”), for example, began as giant dudes who’ve learned how to survive outside of the Dome for days at a time. Through play they’ve earned a sort of celtic flavor, and we’ve established that theirs is the best territory to try and start a new life in, so long as you’re okay with always being a second class citizen for lacking the biological advantages they’ve discovered. (Advantages your children will have a chance to achieve).

At some point I put all of the factions on a D% table. The amount of space each faction takes up on that table is weighted by how often they’re likely to have an impact on events beyond their own boarders. Five of the factions equally share about 70% of the table. These are the big, established powers. They provide the closest thing to stability the dome has.

Then next 20% of the table is for the two up-and-coming factions. Small territories with ambitions of expansion. The final 10% of the table is shared between three groups. There’s the Lords of Light, who are the vestigial remainder of a defeated power. There’s The Fighting Mongooses, a territory of mercenaries who are understood to be a neutral party by all the other territories. And, finally, there’s the territory of The Friends of Needletooth Jack, which is a completely insular territory. No one goes in, no one comes out.

Anytime I need to determine where something happens, or who did a thing, I roll on this table. Pretty much anytime anything happens I randomly determine who or where, because why not? It adds an interesting texture to the world. If I come up with everything myself it’ll make a bland sort of sense. But if you give me two dots and I have to figure out how to connect them, that’s where things start to get creative.

For example, a couple adventures back, my players needed to raid a building and recover a machine. Randomly determining where the building was determined which encounter table they’d be rolling on during their travels, and what sort of purpose the building might have been put to since the apocalypse. This particular territory happens to factor into one of the conspiracies that drive the campaign, so sending the party there on completely unrelated business gave me an opportunity to drop hints about what was coming.

In their last adventure, the party needed to rescue someone who had been captured, because I thought a rescue mission would be interesting. I rolled to determine which faction had this person, and that helped me determine why this person was being held, and whether it was an official act of the faction as a whole, or whether it was an individual acting without official sanction. The whole character of the adventure was determined by that roll.

In the party’s current adventure they need to protect a third party during a war between two factions. The location of the third party didn’t really matter, so long as it was fixed once determined. I randomly rolled an aggressor, then flipped a coin to decide which of their neighbors they were attacking. When that was done I rolled opposed d6s as a rough measure of discerning how successful each side of that conflict would be. The player’s goals really had no bearing on that, but the result of the war would have a huge effect on the territorial balance in the dome.

The different territories also correspond to different encounter tables, which allows me to show my players, rather than tell them, the difference between each faction. In the territory of the Redstone Lords (Faction “A” on the map), for example, the government is unusually organized. There are fewer encounters with monsters, and more encounters with thieves, aggressive agents of the state, or non-combat stuff, like slave markets. Meanwhile, in the territory of the Dukes of the Dome (“B”), where mutants are hated, there are no encounters with mutants. Or, if you do encounter a mutant, it’s being harassed / arrested / killed.

For interfactional relationships, I’m so far keeping things simple. Every faction hates the factions which boarder it, and are neutral with the factions that don’t. The simple fact of the matter is that everybody wants to grow, and there’s no territory to take that doesn’t already belong to someone. That means your neighbors want your territory, and you want theirs.

There are a few exceptions to this which are easy for me to just keep in my head. For example, the priests of Technotopia (“I”), have a particular grudge against the Lords Beneath the Black (“C”), because they are the two largest religions within the dome, and both would prefer to get rid of the other. Likewise, nobody likes the Friends of Needletooth Jack (“G”), but nobody is ever going to fuck with them either, because their territory is small and they’re scary as shit.

I don’t really have any means for tracking the player’s reputation with each faction, but I’ve found that I don’t really need it so much. Even with factions as small as these, the PCs are beneath the notice of the faction as a whole. I do track the player’s relationship with pretty much every NPC they ever meet, which serves as an adequate substitute. So while The Outsiders as a whole have no feelings about the PCs, the leader of the Outsiders (known as The Highlander) did once have a meeting with them. They brought him reliable information, but he repeatedly caught them lying about the details. So the party is useful, but he doesn’t trust them.

What I’ve put together for ORWA does lack a lot of the features I have always wanted from a faction system. Things like a reward/penalty track for building a reputation of working for or against each faction. But what I do have has been working surprisingly well, so hopefully others can get a little use out of it.

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.

 

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