Thursday, April 17, 2014

Llyddwdd's Grasping Hands

Llyddwdd's Grasping Hands (Evocation/Planar, Cost, Per Session, Permanent, Requires one other Planar spell): This casting is used by temporal scavengers to retrieve items from one or more Golden Ages in the past or future, times of technological marvels. It is also used to seize objets d'art or antiquities from another time, feeding present-time markets for collectibles.

The caster rolls CHA +2; success creates a window of access +/- 500 years from the caster's present time. Each additional shift increases the window by another +/- 500 years.

The caster's hands stretch out, literally spanning a temporal displacement. If the target object has unusual physical properties (i.e., is hot or slippery, has sharp edges, an electrical charge, etc.) the GM may require a DEX roll to make sure the caster has a solid grip on the target.

The caster may then pull an object from another time into the caster's present. An object taken in this way must be inanimate, and something that a single person can grab hold of and carry in one or two hands. The caster can only see across the temporal displacement if they have access to the spell Negobipfel's Temporal Lens. Without access to that spell, the caster must select the object to be acquired by tactile sense alone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Negobipfel's Temporal Lens

Forest Whitaker in "Ghost Dog"

Negobipfel's Temporal Lens (Divination/Planar, Cost, Per Session, Persistent, Requires Clairvoyance): When casting this spell, one or both of the caster's eyes begin to droop, as if the caster has a lazy eye. The caster's gaze shifts from their "present" location to the same place in distant times past or present.

The caster rolls WIS +2; if successful, the caster can gaze into the past/future for +/- 1,000 years from their present. The caster will see a montage with brief impressions of different times within this continuum. Each additional shift extends this time by another +/- 1,000 years.

If the caster achieves a Succeed with Style, they may also declare that they have targeted a very specific time, +/- 4,000 years of their present time, with great accuracy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Shield Me, Please

"Faith," available as "The Great Doctor" on Netflix

I've been enjoying the Korean time travel drama "Faith", in which a general, the loyal retainer of Korean prince in the Goryeo period, travels forward in time. His task is to find a doctor who can save the prince's intended, a Yuan dynasty princess who was injured in an assassination attempt. He has to save his bride. Otherwise there will be Mongol trouble, and he will not become king.

The general passes through the time portal that connects a shrine in medieval Korea with a location in contemporary Seoul. He thinks he has arrived in sagely Heaven; he kidnaps the first doctor that he can.

Unfortunately for the general, the woman he kidnaps is an extremely whiney plastic surgeon, not some gifted physican-immortal. But he won't learn that until it's too late. The general fights the local police, grabs one of the fallen cops' plastic riot shields, and heads back through the portal with the shield and his doctor. Adventure ensues in the past. The intrigue of a jealous elder prince, bomb throwing assassins, an evil flute playing bishonen sorcerer, and much, much more lay ahead for our general and his heavenly physician.

The most important shield in Korean history

I love the detail that the general brings the riot shield into the past. It takes a beating. I'm about eight episodes into the series, and the shield is a mess of spiderweb cracks, and there's a fist-sized hole where a chunk of plastic has fallen out entirely. The shield is so Gamma World. But without the apocalypse.

That whole post-apocalyptic thing is starting to get really tired.

We need more of this kind of thing: the past, contaminated by relics of the future.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jadepunk Playmat Reviews

You got Jadepunk in my Tekumel!

Over the last few days, we published a series of reviews, or, perhaps, practical elaborations, designed to show what you can do with the Jadepunk RPG's playmat:

Ryan M. Danks, one of co-authors of Jadepunk, released his first Jadepunk tutorial video this weekend, which explains how to use the playmat. It's very instructive and helpful.

Ryan told me recently that once I tried the playmat, I'd never go back to running Fate without it; he may be right!

The playmat costs $10 plus $6 shipping and can be purchased from the Reroll Store.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Jupiter and Ganymede

During the Latter Period, some 80% of the Empire's territory was directly incorporated to the R.U.R. Workers-State which lies coreward of the Empire. It happened across vast stretches of the Empire in the course of a six hour period. In less than a day, the majority of the Empire's most densely populated worlds were incorporated into a more advanced machine civilization. A prosperous humanity transcended to a new, effectively post-human state. The R.U.R. bulwark against the Anti-Consciousness lurking in the Core was likewise bolstered immensely by the territories added during the Subsumption.

After the R.U.R. Subsumption, the Empire's rimward expansion accelerated. The Late Expansion was rapid because the Empire kept the entirety of its fleets and Legions, which no longer had such a vast territorial expanse to defend. Imperial Sovereigns resumed the habits of the Empire's first rulers. Like their Comet Barbarian ancestors, they led the expansion from the front, at the head of their fleets. Their efforts were supported by an influx of new ships and R.U.R. legions manufactured in the Subsumption Zones.

All of these developments have caused many to wonder whether the Subsumption was planned from the beginning of the Empire. Was the Subsumption agreed upon thousands of years ago, during the Empire's Early Period? It seems likely. After all, it was the 13th Imperial Sovereign, known as The Cupbearer, who first befriended the Jupiter Brains of the R.U.R. He established the most enduring alliance in the Empire's history.

Upon his abdication, the 13th Imperial Sovereign lived out the remainder of his life in R.U.R. space, in the company of his machine-friend, the Thingmaker-class Intelligence Panjandrum. Almost alone among the Imperial Sovereigns of the Early Period, The Cupbearer chose one of Panjandrum's disused factory wheels as his burial place, rather than the Eagle King's machine world of Altair IV. (The Nexialists claim that Panjandrum's current speech patterns resemble those of The Cupbearer, so perhaps he yet lives on in some form?)

Further evidence that the R.U.R. Subsumption was a long-planned event can be found in the storied history of The Interstitials, the numerous post-human statelets that formed, dissolved, and reformed on the borders of R.U.R. space and the Empire. Such statelets have existed since the time of the 17th Imperial Sovereign as places of innovation and encounter. Many were short-lived experiments, and for this reason are also known as the Firefly States. They were the first places where humans (and aliens) and machines learned to live in harmony, growing together and developing new states and forms. From this living dream, the first seeds of the Subsumption grew.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pus Geyser

The Underworld is a living place; it is corrupt, fecund, and rhizomatic in structure. The Underworld has many tributaries. That is because Lords of Xibalba are ever-eager to expand their domains. They often gift sorcerers with spells that spread their corrupting influence.

Pus Geyser (Curse/Necromancy, Cost, Per Scene, Permanent, Requires two other Curse/Necromancy spells, Corrupting): This spell creates a small spurting tributary from one of the great rivers of the Underworld. It may be a river of pus, blood, centipedes, scorpions, spinal columns, fingernails or any other of the contaminating flows surging through the heart of Xibalba.

The spell can only be cast below ground. Any tunnel, cave, sewer, or cellar will suffice. The caster must lance an infected wound; the exudate drips to the ground, and charged by the spell opens a small gate to one of the rivers of Xibalba. The ground bubbles, and then spurts.

One zone is corrupted by the first casting. Each successful further casting spreads the riverine infection to another zone. Such follow-up castings require a rotting corpse to feed the river. The discharge from a pus geyser may be temporarily mopped up, dried, or otherwise quenched, but the flow will resume as soon as such activity stops. However some supernatural "plugs" exist; consult the priests of Kukulkan and Ix Chel.  

Zones affected by a pus geyser have the following aspects:
  • River of pus (or blood, centipedes, etc.)
  • Unquenchable geyser
  • Underworld poisons spread disease
Flow creatures may be treated as swarms, as per the Fate Freeport Companion rules.

Visitation Of The House Of Knives

"Trials of the Hero Twins" by Diego Rivera

The House of Knives (center top in the illustration above) is one of the places of torture in the Mayan Underworld of Xibalba.   In this place of testing, intelligent obsidian knives fly in every direction, thirsting for the flesh of all who enter this place where heroes are tested.

Those sorcerers who have earned the favor of the Lords of Xibalba or Lord Tezcatlipoca may learn the spell for summoning one or more of these demonic blades into our world.  But only the most favored and corrupt sorcerers learn the spell Visitation of the House of Knives. This spell brings the deadly House into our realm for a time; it has caused the slaughter of many.

Visitation of the House of Knives (Planar, Cost, Per Scenario, Persistent, Requires Call Knife Point and at least one gate spell, Corrupting): The caster rolls Flashy/CHA +2 to summon the House of Knives. Such castings can only be attempted on a planet during nighttime or an eclipse. If the summoning is successful, part or all of the current Scene is enclosed by stone walls on all sides.

The size of the chamber is determined by the results of the roll. A result of one shift produces quite a small chamber; anything in the same zone as the caster is enclosed. Two shifts produces an enclosed space of 2 zones. Three shifts produces an enclosed space of three zones, the maximum size of the House of Knives.

The chamber is plunged into darkness unless a preexisting light source is present. It is filled with an intelligent swarm of flying obsidian knives, which Attack all present (with the exception of the sorcerer and those under their protection) with a roll of 4DF +2 each turn.

The House of Knives has the following aspects:
  • Flying obsidian knives!
  • A stone chamber with no source of light
  • No apparent exit
Such magic is a major infraction, doing 2 points of Corruption stress to the caster.

Because the knives are intelligent, a clever hero may attempt to bargain with them. The knives thirst for the flesh of both the living and the dead. If approached with an offer, the GM should draw a card from the Deck of Fate. If the card drawn reveals a favorable aspect, the knives will pause after their first attack to negotiate.

If normal ants, Napoleon ants, or other ant-like intelligent species are present, their collectivity may be bargained with for help against the knives. Such species of diggers and tunnelers frequently have their own conflicts with the meddlesome and diseased subterranean Lords of Xibalba, and the smallest of their kind are usually immune to the knives' attacks.