Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Coronal Mass Ejection

Attribution

Coronal Mass Ejection (Enchantment/Necromancy, Cost, Per Scenario): One of the most potent subterfuge/obfuscatory formulae, Coronal Mass Ejection is a Flashy casting that generates an anogenic solar response. Upon a +2 effort, a sun releases a coronal mass ejection that reaches a planetary target up to one Astronomical Unit (AU) in distance; each additional +1 effort extends the range of the ejection by 1 AU.

Casting this formula requires a considerable sacrifice: the caster takes a Severe Consequence, which may manifest as radiation burns, psychological harm, or other disturbances, such as spontaneous mutations.

The coronal mass ejection permanently takes out any planetary and orbital communication and computational systems unless they were purpose built to resist such stellar events. Hardened systems will still be taken out for at least one scene.

There is a further potential consequence of casting this formula. It often increases entropy in the star that is the target of the casting.

Roll 1dF:
  • A positive face indicates no effect beyond the coronal mass ejection;
  • A blank face indicates that the star enters a period of instability, with frequent subsequent coronal mass ejections; 
  • A negative face indicates that the star enters a terminal, often explosive phase. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Harmonization



During the Nexialist Revolt, seventeen worlds were rendered Harmonized by the Nexialist insurgents. This was both a practical measure to mobilize entire populations to resist the Imperial Sovereign, and an ideological demonstration of the principle of Nexialist Unity. Every ball was said to bounce at the same time on these worlds.

While the Empire's philosophers and sociologists are loathe to use terms like "totalitarianism" to describe this level of planetary-civilizational social engineering and manipulation, the term of course fits. The pacification of these worlds was equally absolute, and took the form of Excommunication.

Harmonization (Curse/Necromancy, Cost, Per Scenario, Permanent, Requires the Great IT spell, Corrupting): This formula must be cast in the immediate vicinity of an IT-class giant brain, and is therefore typically cast inside a Nexialist Institute that has been configured to accommodate such a brain. The spell's zone of effect expands incrementally; it can take up to 24 hours to achieve its effect planet-wide. A newly cast Harmonization reaches out across the planet's surface in an expanding circle whose center is the giant brain. The effect is Permanent, as long as the giant brain is intact.

The casting places the following Aspects on any intelligent living creatures on the planet:
  • Of One Mind
  • Obedient to the Brain
  • Every ball shall bounce at once
Anyone who needs to resist the effects of Harmonization does so as if contending with a +6 Clever adversary. This casting has no effect on robots or other non-biological intelligences, or on other-planar intelligences such as angels and demons. 

This entry in the Galactic Grimoire is of course inspired my Madeline L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time."




Sunday, March 25, 2018

Space Vampires



We finished Colin Wilson's 1976 classic "The Space Vampires" this weekend, just a tad after Vintage Science Fiction Month (in January). It is arguably a Mythos story since the titular monsters have a connection to Clark Ashton Smith's Ubbo-Sathla. The book is written using the Van Voghtian method: a narrative with terse sentences, and often vague or partial description of things in the environment. The latter is supposed to produce some anxiety and a sense of estrangement, as the brain "fills in" the missing pieces of the description.

So who or what are these space vampires? They are the spirit forms of formerly star spanning aliens who lost their physical bodies as a result of ancient accelerations of evolution. Or the immortal, malevolent, and degenerate forms of an ancient and benevolent star spanning race - take your pick.

The space vampires are very similar to how Nephilim were conceived of in the old Multisim/Chaosium RPG: they are disembodied astral parasites who can only act when they occupy a host organism. No less importantly, they are also energy vampires who feed off of life energy/sexual energy of embodied intelligent creatures.

They require a voluntary host - probably. But we know how that goes: such parasites always target those with very strong drives - often drives about which they would be embarrassed to tell others.




OGL MECHANICS


Space Vampires 
Parasitic energy vampire 

ASPECTS:
  • High Concept: Parasitic energy vampire from another world
  • Trouble: No body aside from yours
  • Aspect: "I know what you want."
  • Aspect: "I can help you get it."
  • Aspect: Skilled infiltrator
APPROACHES
  • Careful: +2
  • Clever: +3
  • Flashy: 0
  • Forceful: 0
  • Quick: 0
  • Sneaky: +2

STUNTS:
  • Embody - A Space Vampire first spends 1 FP to attempt to embody in an intelligent biological host to which their spirit form is adjacent, or to transfer from one intelligent host to another with whom their host is physical contact. The Space Vampire attacks with Clever; a potential host defends with Clever or Forceful, whichever is lower. Stress lands immediately as a Consequence. A Severe Consequence indicates possession.
  • Feed - Take +2 to Forceful Approach when Attacking a potential victim with a seductive touch or kiss; the target resists with their Forceful Approach. Any stress lands as an immediate Consequence for the target. When the target takes a Consequence, the Space Vampire immediately gains 1 FP.
  • Insight - Take +2 to Clever to ascertain the appetites of an embodied intelligent being.  
REFRESH: 2 

STRESS: 3 Boxes

***

SPECIAL: 

  • Hunger - Must feed daily. Each day without feeding means the Space Vampire either takes a Consequence or loses 1 FP.
  • Physical invulnerability - Cannot be harmed by physical (i.e., melee/ranged weapons) attacks, although mental and energy attacks might harm a Space Vampire, and a Faraday Cage Room might contain one. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Machineries Of Tarot

Fans of Yoon Ha Lee's Machineries of Empire series, which starts with Ninefox Gambit, might like to know that the author has created an online Tarot card spread generator based on the world of the SF series.  Hopefully, Yoon will one day publish a deck of cards.

In the meantime, you can generate spreads here.

Everway fans should enjoy this. Just don't become like these factions.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Azure Nebula Campaign II


Tonight was the fifth and final session of our Azure Nebula mini-campaign, so I can share the map I made for the adventure. The core of the nebula consists of a double layer of spacetime folds. It's quite mitochondrial really. Outside that double structure, the "dots" are a series of rather rude Klingon buoys warning ships away from this region of space.

You'll find the Azure Nebula in the Star Trek Adventures gamebook. It is right on the border of the Federation and the Klingon Empire, and also rather proximate to the Romulan Empire. If you're looking for a place for a Triangle Campaign, the space just "Northeast" of the Azure Nebula should work just fine!

The Azure Nebula is also a rather storied region of space. Enter at your peril; there's no telling what you'll find!


Monday, January 1, 2018

The Azure Nebula Campaign


We're four sessions into an Original Series mini-campaign using Modiphius' Star Trek Adventures.  I asked the players in our Thursday night group for the opportunity to run a short campaign, because I'll be running two scenarios at Con of the North in February. I ran three one-shots of STA in the Fall of 2017, and want to stay fresh with the mechanics, since the system has a little crunch.

The crew of the Larson-class starship U.S.S. Argument is tasked with serving on a technical test bed starship with a rudimentary cloaking device. The cloak is a prototype derived from the Romulan cloak recovered by the U.S.S. Enterprise during the Original Series TV episode "The Enterprise Incident".

First session was devoted to character creation, along with ship design and detailing the captain, which was a group effort. Captain Rex Tillerson secured his assignment as captain of the U.S.S. Argument purely through political connections. He has little in the way of traditional Starfleet competencies (and behind his back, the crew snickeringly refer to him as "Wrecks Everything", although the Captain does have Orion syndicate connections, and is something of a collector of rare artifacts and taxidermized aliens.

The crew successfully launched their vessel from Starbase, but the Chief Engineer almost immediately discovered many problems with the vessel, including an unreliable cloaking device, plasma power system issues, and possible, nay, definite sabotage.

The crew's mission is to test the cloak, and to survey the Azure Nebula, which is a region of space immediately adjacent to the Klingon Neutral Zone. Officially, no Starfleet vessels have previously entered the Azure Nebula, so a survey will fill an obvious gap in Federation starcharts and increase Federation knowledge and intelligence about the Klingon border.

As you can probably tell from the photo above, thanks to STA, I am finally putting to use some of my ancient FASA Star Trek RPG resources, including the Klingon D-7 blueprints on the right hand side of the photo, as well as the Federation and Klingon starship books, and John M. Ford's excellent Klingons sourcebook.

As of last week's session, the players are really getting the hang of the system, and are developing insights into the the range of things players can do with Determination, Momentum, and Talents. For example, one player encourage his teammates to roll for a Difficulty 0 task as a way to build up their Momentum pool.

We have one more session next week, but this set of characters can be used for one off adventures whenever the players decide they want to play another session!