Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ten For Tzitzimine

Tzitzimine Star Demon by Juan Ochoa

The Tzitzimine Star Demons love Eyes and other technological devices that use other-planar energy. So let's give 'em some Eyes! There are actually twelve of them below, not ten. So feel free to roll a D12 and pick a few for your Tzitzimine!

"Things to gather, things to grasp, spheres in a halo, treasures to grant."

What are Eyes, you ask? They are “Devices surviving from the ancient and glorious days of high technology” is according to their creator, Professor M.A.R. Barker.[1]  They are a hallmark of his world of Tekumel, which is perhaps the most elaborate fantasy setting ever created for gaming. According to Barker, Eyes are “so named because they are shaped like small, dull gems, with an eye-like aperture on one side and a protruding stud on the other, which activates the device.”

Eyes are handheld superscience artifacts that use other-planar energy. Each one is like a printed circuit with a specific function. Eyes are a perfect embodiment of Clarke’s Law, which states that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” For this reason, they are often found in temple treasuries, in tombs and hoards within the Underworld, and in the hands of the powerful.

They are also very useful to adventurers, who often search for them in the Underworld and within the ruins of the temples, bases, and other facilities of the star-spanning Ancients. Each Eye has a specific power and effect. There is no way to discern an Eye’s power without using it. Each Eye has 1d100 charges, after which an ancient device must be used to restore their charges.

The Eyes below are non-canonical and were inspired by a number of authors including M.A.R. Barker and Cordwainer Smith. (In fact, Cordwainer Smith was undoubtedly an influence on Barker, since Tekumel has its own constellation of species called "Underpeople".) These Eyes may be used in any setting which includes ancient space empires and superscience in its background. 



[1] Quotes in this section are from M.A.R. Barker’s Empire of the Petal Throne (TSR 1975), p. 75.

***

The Eye of Friendship with Underpeople: Every world touched by the Lords of the Instrumentality had certain abject hybrid species who were created as laborers by the Instrumentality's cruel and inventive Gene Masters. Most of these creatures long ago broke their bonds to the ancient masters. Today they are retiring and resentful of Mankind. This Eye creates a temporary bond of friendship with one of these creatures. The bond lasts one Scene. Only creatures whose apex Skill/Approach is greater than +1 may resist the effect of this device. The Eye's user rolls CHA/Flashy +2  vs. the target's WIS; if the Eye's user rolls higher, the bond of friendship takes effect and a suitable temporary Aspect is created on the target, such as "Friend of Man".   The Underperson might take any action that is reasonable for a true friend to take (such as fighting alongside the Eye user) but will not take suicidal actions.

The Eye of Lord Tezcatlipoca: This Eye can activate any gate in the network of Smoking Mirror Engines that string disparate places and worlds together like black pearls in the shining void. These gates are one way portals (at least using the Eye), so an activated gate will open only to the next available egress from the Smoking Mirror Engine network - whether that is on the same world, another world, or even on an entirely different plane. The gate remains open for one Scene. Once opened, anyone may pass through the gate and will arrive at the next junction in the network.

The Eye of Adopting the Mien of a Lord of the Instrumentality: This Eye surrounds its target with the data cloud of one of the star-spanning Lords of the Instrumentality of Mankind. In ancient times, this Eye was a favorite tool of the assassins that these Lords (and the Guilds) used to settle their conflicts. Today it is mainly used to gain access to secure complexes in space, as well as to comparable planetside facilities, and certain long-forgotten areas of the Underworld defended by ancient superscience. The Mien created by this Eye is a temporary Aspect (for example, The Mantle of Lord Vex) that lasts for one Scene. The automated defenses of the Instrumentality’s ancient facilities will grant the target and their entourage unrestricted access to all but the most sensitive installations. Once the target gains access, they must act quickly. Reactivating the Eye within such an installation will awaken terrifying automated defenses.

The Eye of the Banishers of Gloom: The Banishers of Gloom are today one of the Legions of the Imperial Sovereign. In ancient times, they were an elite military unit of the Instrumentality dedicated to exploring dead planets and space hulks. They garnered a reputation as fearless hunters of the undead and of abominations from the planes beyond. On many worlds, they remain active within religious orders dedicated to Law and the destruction of the undead. This Eye is their signature weapon. The Eye unleashes a miniature hypernova beam upon its target, a 1’ in diameter beam of coalesced visible light, x-rays, and gamma rays. The Eye’s range is three Zones. All combustibles touched by the beam burst into flame.If an attack by this Eye hits its target, stress inflicted automatically bypasses the target's Stress Track and causes one or more Consequences of equivalent effect.

The Eye of the Dutiful Corvee: While the Instrumentality was an advanced interstellar civilization, social relations under the Lords of the Instrumentality often took on a semifeudal character. The ancient Lords used this Eye to compel corvee labor on many worlds. The device only works on humans, as other species were by definition suitable for enslavement rather than beings subject to a labor tax, This device works infallably on beings whose apex skill is +1 or less. With each use, a total of 1D20 such beings may be commanded to work indefinitely on some major project. Legends tell of isolated worlds where nearly immortal humans continue to labor on great works for the Instrumentality even today.

The Eye of the Beshadowed Labyrinth: This Eye opens a gate to ruined planet. The gate itself is entirely invisible. An individual might pass through it quite unwittingly.  The ruined planet's lifeless, airless surface is constantly abraded by the deadly energy beams emitted by the magnetar - a species of neutron star with intense magnetic fields - which the world orbits. Below the surface is a world-labyrinth inhabited by innumerable inimical species. Vast subterranean machines maintain a barely breathable atmosphere tainted with a thousand exotic chemicals. The entire labyrinth is shrouded in shifting dim light which projects shadows everywhere. Adventurers who survive in this deadly realm will need to find another way home: the gate opened by this Eye only offers a one way trip.

The Eye of the Glorious Instrumentality of Mankind: A favorite of galactic tomb raiders everywhere, this Eye projects a 3-D holographic representation of the regions of space ruled by Instrumentality of Mankind, showing the location and disposition of all Instrumentality resources including fleets, legions, bases, and nodes in the Smoking Mirror Engine network, as well as protected trade routes. Points of interest may be zoomed in upon by using physical gestures; this reveals planetary maps and additional data such as day length, climate levels, etc. The projection lasts for one Scene.  It automatically updates once daily within Instrumentality facilities that remain connected to the Smoking Mirror Engine network. But few do.

The Eye of the Lady of the Jade Skirt: This Eye will summon the nearest minion of a god or goddess of rivers, lakes, seas, rain, or storms. The ahuizotl is an example of one of these, as are anaconda, crocodiles, and hippos. Caution must be taken when using this Eye in open seas, as it can summon particularly nasty creatures such as mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, killer whales, kraken, akho, and avanc. This Eye has even reportedly summoned a 'Zotl. The creature remains for one Scene.

The Mystic Eye of the Hexagonal Chamber: Zealously sought by scholar priests, archaeologists, and obsessive antiquarian biblophiles, this Eye confers upon the target the ability to read, comprehend, and memorize any religious, mystical, or sorcerous manuscript, no matter the language in which the text was written. The user fires the Eye at the head of the person desiring to read the text in question (this is often none other than the user of the Eye). The effect lasts for one session. But that's not all. A degree of harmful other-planar informational decay is associated with the use of this device. With each use, the reader must make a Clever/WIS roll to defend against a mental Attack with an insanity trigger of +2.

The Majestic Eye of Lord Pacal: This Eye allows its user to pilot telepathically a Pacal-class Vimana - one of the ancient chariots of the gods - for an entire Session.

The Eye of Petty Theogony: The target upon which this Eye is used selects a temporary Aspect reflecting a minor deity, or a lesser avatar of a great deity. The target selects a suitable temporary Aspect to reflect this. Their CHA/Flashy Approach also increases by +2 for the remainder of the Scene. Intelligent beings who are friendly or devoted to that deity will be favorably disposed; those intelligent beings who are opposed or hostile to that deity will be more likely to attack or flee. Any Consequence will completely dispel the effect of this Eye. No one likes a god that bleeds.

The Eye of Vague Auguries: When this Eye is pointed at an object such as a door, secret panel, or other portal (including interdimensional gates) the Eye will issue two vague-but-true telepathic auguries about persons, items, and conditions on the other side of the threshold. The auguries become scene Aspects as determined by the GM.  For example, if a PC uses the Eye at the threshold of a doorway in the Underworld, the auguries might be “reptile god” and “priests”. The resulting scene aspects might be:
  • Threshold of the Temple of the Snake Demon Ysxthici. 
  • A high priest, unwilling sacrifices and numerous cultists.

  • The devices above are copyright 2013 by John Everett Till.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    Who Can Use Magic?

    This is a rough guide to the creatures in the FATE Bestiary that are able to use magic spells. Some will have a preference to use other means, and will rarely use magic, but this is a representative running list of creatures that can use the kind of spells featured in the Galactic Grimoire at FATE SF:

    The Anapa

    Autodidacta

    Creepers

    Crocodilian-Humanoid Hybrid Demons

    Crocodilian Guardian Mummy

    Dromedary

    Elementals

    False Beholders

    Ghost Wolves

    Imperial Sibyls

    Mi-Go

    Morlock

    Mother Mass

    Old Martians

    Planarian Nine

    Plasmate

    Peyotl

    Red Martian Scientist

    Saguaro

    Serpent Folk

    Tzitzimine Star Demons

    The 'Zotl

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Glastegs


    Glastegs glitter, Glastegs shine, Glastegs come from another place and time. Glastegs are rare as hen's teeth but they have been spotted on several different worlds with saurian megafauna, including Sector I-5 of Kepler-22B. Glastegs are modified stegasauri resulting from genetic engineering by the Translucent One Who Chimes, a mysterious visitor to the pocket universe known as the Land Between the Pylons.

    Glastegs can modify their chromatic properties of their integument. They can become translucent to the point of near invisibility, thereby evading detection by predators. They can also become blindingly reflective, startling and confusing their attackers. There is at least one instance of glastegs working together to concentrate beams of light between them, and then channel this energy in a beam attack upon an opponent.

    But that's not all. Glastegs can also affect local gravitational fields when they become enraged. When attacked, they may bombard adjacent zones with gravity waves of 2-3 standard gravities, overturning the earth, tearing flesh, and breaking bones. Working together, they can even disrupt planar boundaries, creating temporary interdimensional Nexus Points.

    Glastegs can survive on a diet of plant matter, but only have access to their special abilities when they consume energy sources such as matrix gems, batteries, and power packs. In the Land Between the Pylons, they lurk near these enigmatic structures, hoping to startle a passerby and consume any matrix gems they may be carrying.

    Glastegs have a nose for such energy sources, and will track and pursue persons who have these items. They are drawn to the ruins of technological societies for the same reason, as there are often long-abandoned power sources upon which they can feed.  No doubt that is why the Glastegs seem to thrive on Kepler-22B.

    OGL MECHANICS


    Glasteg
    Modified Stegasaurus (neutral)

    ASPECTS:
    • High Concept: Mirrorskin Stegasaurus
    • Trouble: An appetite for batteries and power packs
    • Aspect: What's that chiming sound?
    • Aspect: Look at me long enough and you'll go blind
    • Aspect: Glastegs come in threes
    APPROACHES
    • Careful: 0
    • Clever: +1
    • Flashy: +3
    • Forceful: +3
    • Quick: 0
    • Sneaky: 0
    STUNTS:
    • Blinded by the Glitter: Glastegs take +2 to their Flashy Approach to Create an Advantage against an opponent using their blinding mirror skin. This only works in daylight. The more suns the better.
    • Ray Blast: When three or more Glastegs work together, they can add +2 to their Flashy Approach to blast someone or something with a laser beam. This can be used as an Attack or an Overcome an Obstacle action.
    • Tailcrack: By slapping its spiked tail against the ground, Glastegs can propagate gravity waves into adjacent Zones. They take a +2 to their Forceful Approach to Create an Advantage such as Crushing Gravity. This effect propagates in a particular direction for two Zones on a result of +1, or three Zones on a result of +2 or better. On a Succeed with Style, the total effort of the roll can be directed as an Attack on each creature in the direction of the gravity wave.
    • Turn Translucent: Glastegs take +2 to their Sneaky Approach when becoming translucent as way to Creating an Advantage against a pursuer or enemy.  
    REFRESH: 2

    Wireless Message

    Wireless Message (Divination, Cost, Per Scene, Permanent, Requires one other Divination spell):  A Wireless Message never brings good news. This casting is used to keep tabs on a loved one, or a person the caster has been charged with protecting. It requires a photograph, a lock of hair, or some other arcane connection to its target. Once cast, the spell is permanent, but is only discharged if the target is threatened in some way by their immediate external environment (e.g., fire, drowning, abduction, an accident, or assault). If a triggering event occurs, the caster receives an immediate sensory impression of the local environment from the target's point of view. The caster will also be aware of the target's thoughts and feelings at the time of the triggering event.

    This spell requires a WIS/Careful +2 roll:
    • A normal success means that the spell has been cast successfully. 
    • If the caster Succeeds with Style on their casting roll, they will experience Wireless Message as a premonition which occurs one day before the triggering event. 

    A target may resist the casting by rolling their CHA/Flashy vs. the caster's WIS/Careful +2:
    • If the target rolls higher than the caster, the spell fails. 
    • If the caster rolls higher than their target, the spell is successfully cast upon the target. 

    This spell was inspired by the Ambrose Bierce short story, "A Wireless Message".

    Monday, October 27, 2014

    Planarian Nine

    http://www.ub.edu/web/ub/en/menu_eines/noticies/2011/02/07.html

    Planarian Nine is a species of other-planar flatworms that range in from 1 cm in length x 3 mm in width on the small side, to the dimensions of humpback whales when full grown. The average specimen is 3-4 M long x 1 M wide x .3 M from dorsal to ventral surface. These planar vagabonds squiggle and squirm their way between dimensions. They extend their ventral feeding tube into nexus points to prey on unwitting travelers. They also scour a world's tidal pools and planar adjacencies - at least in those adjacencies with two or more dimensions - seeking fleshy morsels. For that reason, Planarian Nine are one of the main interdimensional wanderers feeding on the flesh that is displaced when the formula Skeletizer is cast.

    A Planarian Nine secretes a sheet of mucus whose special properties lubricate the interstices between dimensions, facilitating smooth transitions across the planes. Their skin is much sought after for these properties. The eyes of the Planarian Nine are on their dorsal surface, so the creatures seldom view what they are consuming. Instead, the eyes help them to discern the energies coursing within and between dimensions, facilitating the identification of planar adjacencies that are nutrient rich. The creature's eyes are much sought after by those seeking a permanent version of the spell Eye of the Nexus, as its ocular tissues can be sectioned in exquisitely thin sheets for use as contact lenses.

    OGL MECHANICS


    Planarian Nine
    Planar Flatworm (inimical)

    ASPECTS:
    • High Concept: Huge interdimensional flatworm
    • Trouble: Can't see what it's eating
    • Aspect: Moves on mucus and leaves a trail
    • Aspect: Drawn to Nexus Points
    • Aspect: Quiet as a mouse
    APPROACHES
    • Careful: +2
    • Clever: +1
    • Flashy: 0
    • Forceful: +3
    • Quick: 0
    • Sneaky: +3
    STUNTS:
    • Dimensional Editing: A Planarian Nine takes a +2 to its Sneaky Approach to a Create an Advantage by collapsing three or more dimensions down to two in an adjacent Zone. This forces any three dimensional creature to move one Zone further away. On a Succeed with Style, this action inflicts one Moderate Consequence on any targets in the Zone being edited; such individuals are also displaced to an adjacent Zone.
    • Planar Squeeze: Once per Scene, the Planarian Nine may shift itself to another plane of existence. They cannot return to their original location during the remainder of that Scene.
    • Regeneration: At the end of any Scene, the Planarian Nine may remove one Moderate Consequence.
    • Twinning: After taking a Severe Consequence, the Planarian Nine may split itself into two smaller organisms and begin to regenerate. The Severe Consequence is downgraded to a Moderate Consequence for each twin. If the parent also had a Moderate Consequence at the time of twinning, each twin gains two Moderate Consequences. Each twin also inherits any Stress that its parent had at the time of twinning. Both have the memories of their parent.
    REFRESH: 3


    Monday, October 20, 2014

    Dr. Hern's Anaetheric Lacuna

    Dr. Hern's Anaetheric Lacuna (Abjuration/Planar, Cost, Persistent, Requires two other Abjuration or Planar spells): This formula disrupts the luminiferous aether, creating an airless vacuole of absolute darkness that is roughly 10' x 10' x 10'. Any individual trapped within such a vacuole takes a Consequence each round (starting with the Medium Consequence Breathless, Blind, and Freezing), and will soon freeze and suffocate in an absolute, terrible pocket of darkness. No sound, light, or energy of any sort penetrates the membrane of this void, but physical objects pass through it normally.

    This casting is not infrequently used as a means of assassination. It is particularly effective in this capacity when used at night, since it can often be cast unseen directly in a target's immediate path.

    If the target can see Lacuna being cast, the caster should roll CHA/Flashy +2 vs. the target's DEX/Flashy Approach. If the defender's roll is higher, they successfully evade the specific location where the caster placed the Lacuna.

    A second, no less important use of Lacuna is to shield its caster from the fire of energy weapons. Because light cannot enter the vacuole - it has no luminiferous aether - the vacuole's membrane harmlessly deflects energy weapons of all sorts, scattering their rays away from the caster.


    This spell was inspired by Ambrose Bierce's short story "Charles Ashmore's Trail."


    Monday, October 13, 2014

    Imperfect Conflagration

    Imperfect Conflagration (Abjuration/Evocation, Cost, Persistent, Requires one other Abjuration or Evocation spell): A classic containment/detainment formula used by the Nexialists and many others to thwart their aggressors, Imperfect Conflagration imprisons up to five humanoid creatures within four vertical flaming walls, Each wall face is up to 3 x 3 meters in area. Those imprisoned by the walls of flame cannot pass through them to escape but are also not harmed by their proximity to the flames.

    The caster rolls CHA +2 vs. the targets' individual DEX rolls. Any targets that succeed in their roll are successful in dodging out of the way of the casting at its moment of imminence.

    The walls of flame first appear as a 3 x 3 meter square of flame at ground/floor level, each face of which whooshes rapidly upwards to create four flaming walls. Once erected, the walls create an impassible barrier from either direction. The area overhead is open, however, and presents a possible means of escape for creatures capable of feats of saltation, levitation, or flight.

    If the floors or spaces upon which this formula is cast contain combustible materials, the space will take on the temporary aspect On Fire or In Flames until the casting AND the flames are both extinguished.

    While this casting only lasts one Scene in the field, Nexialists often use this casting within their Institutes to interrogate enemies and imprison those who have persecuted their Order. Within the Institutes' meditative labyrinths, the caster can make the duration of this casting Permanent, because the formula has the ability tap into the circuits of other-planar energies circulating within these spaces.  Targets imprisoned indefintely using Imperfect Conflagration do not age or die, and will not need food or drink.

    This spell is inspired by Ambrose Bierce's short story "Imperfect Conflagration."  We're reading a lot of Mr. Bierce this month of October.