Thursday, May 25, 2023
Saturday, May 20, 2023
I'm fond of emphasizing the role of religion in worldbuilding, so here's a mechanical take for Tidelock, with a kind of Greco/Roman bent.
Dungeons are a weird space. It's just kind of assumed that you can just... murder everything inside of one without consequence? Like dungeons are a truly lawless place, free of the moral trappings of society and religion. What happens in the dungeon stays in the dungeon. There are some exceptions, sure, but by and large murder and plunder in the dungeon is the norm. I mean, that's what one does in dungeons, right?
This assumption can be applied to most 'wilderness' places in your traditional RPG campaign. You go places and kill stuff and take loot, right? And nobody bats an eye at the adventurer for doing so.
...But what if that wasn't the case? What might that look like? What if the religious consequences for murder were quite real and explicit, for everyone? (Not just for goody-two-shoes paladins and clerics.)
Like, what if you killed a goblin, and then the goblin god was got pissed at you for (in its eyes) murdering one of its followers? And then the goblin god would bide its time until the right moment to, like, have a rat bite at your ankles while you're fighting, causing you to take a spear to the face?
The "Dungeon" is Desecrated
Desecrated in a religious sense: it is a space within which the relevant gods no longer cast their gaze. It is not a sacred, or even a normal space - if it were, there would be religious consequences for plunder and killing. In the true "dungeon" there are not.
Some dungeons are desecrated. Some have been that way for a very long time (such as old ruins). Some are not (yet). In order to do your killing and plunder without running the risk of gaining Nemesis or Doom (see below), you're going to need to consult with a good faith cleric, priest, druid, or other religious sage, in order to determine whether this particular space has the protection of a god.
So, say you're an adventurer!
How does one determine whether a space is protected by a god or not?
- History (desecrations and consecrations are important events. People will remember them, and tell their kids and grandkids about them.)
- Consult or contract a sage, priest, druid, monk, scholar, etc. to find out.
- Be a cleric, druid, occultist, etc. and do the augury yourself to determine if there's something here.
- If there's religious stuff around (altars, priests, religious art), it's a sure thing that at some point it is, or was.
Does the place you want to loot and possibly kill within have the protection of a god?
- No: Well, have at it, then!
- Yes: Better get protected by a god then, or have it arranged to strip the protection from the place. Consult a priest.
|You don't want this to happen to you!|
"Justice and Divine Vengeance Pursuing Crime" - Pierre-Paul Prud'hon
With this is mind, the adventuring party can make some informed decisions about the places they want to delve and the things they might want to hurt.
Ruins will typically be desecrated dungeons, and have likely been so for a long time. Chances are that one can avoid divine retribution in these godless spaces. People like to avoid these for exactly this reason. It might be full of monsters without sentience: undead and the like. Conspiracies and outlaw cults might drag people to these places so that they can do their horrible rituals without the notice of gods and men. Ruins are innately risky places.
Caves, Groves, and other Natural Spaces may or may not be deconsecrated. Are there religious markings anywhere about it? Does it have a sacred animal inside? Is a Druid present? You can consult a Druid if one is unsure whether that space is okay to take from or not, or take a (probably) safe risk if you don't see any markings.
Forts, Temples, Shrines, Hamlets, or other places that have People are likely not only to not be deconsecrated, but are probably specifically consecrated: under the watchful eye of one or more gods. Not recommended to attack or loot unless you're either preemptively absolved (morally, legally, religiously), have significant divine protection, or you're prepared to accept some divine retribution (see below).
Outlaws carry their desecration wherever they go. There's very rarely religious consequence for killing one or taking their stuff. It's still possible, though, for outlaws to gain religious protection from some other source than from the society which outlawed them. A pious outlaw is rare indeed, but one can become a serious problem for the authorities. It's not uncommon for outlaws to kidnap priests, monks, and druids to use as hostages in case somebody comes after them - a priest who dies in a skirmish will likely taint everyone involved.
Nemesis and Doom
When characters kill things that are still under a god's protection, steal or deface holy items, exhibit extreme hubris, or otherwise act in a way that invites divine retribution, they gain either Nemesis or Doom, proportional to how severe the transgression.
Nemesis is a die (in whatever system you use, likely a d20), that the GM keeps in reserve to use against you at a very inopportune time: an important Save, a crucial attack roll, a dangerous kill check, etc. This roll can be whatever the GM dictates (although it probably shouldn't generate critical hits). Nemesis inflicted for any particular act range from 1 to 5, depending on severity.
Nemesis dice never expire. They can be held onto and hoarded until a truly critical moment. The GM has discretion for what fate this entails. Nemesis can be removed by making amends with the offended god, by the various ways one might do so (material sacrifices, blood prices, donating to charity, self-flagellation, etc.). Or, Nemesis can be removed by getting another god to get the offended one off your back. The champions of gods in this way are like the international diplomats of the religious world. They have a certain amount of immunity before they're expelled.
The player-character find out how much Nemesis they have when they next sleep or long rest. It's not immediately apparent how much Nemesis a certain act has produced. Until this point, the GM cannot use Nemesis on that respective character.
Examples of acts that might produce Nemesis:
- Killing someone. (Everyone's got a god. Maybe even if they attacked first. Do all the gods recognize a mortal's argument of self-defense? Probably not.)
- Touching a dead body. Maybe even looking at one. Maybe even mentioning a dead person's name.
- Cursing a god. Cursing The gods. Cursing God.
- Taking treasure from a place that has not been de-sanctified by a cleric.
- Beating up a priest, monk, druid, pilgrim, or other holy person.
- Killing a sacred stag, favored animal, or "monster" considered holy to a god (without the proper ritual beforehand).
- Supporting, being around, or being associated with somebody with active Nemesis. The closer you are, the more it radiates.
- Expressing hubris.
Doom is reserved for truly offensive acts in the eyes of the gods. Doom can never be removed by any means. Characters with Doom suffer the worst possible outcome on an injury table or death saving throw when next it is rolled (or at least something more severe than a potentially normal outcome). This can't be gamed (say, by trying to preempt it in a safe scenario). GM has discretion to withhold the Doom if the situation seems too safe.
Similar to Nemesis, Doom cannot be utilized or confirmed until an Omen has been revealed. It's up to the GM as to exactly when this happens. These should be specific to the offended god (e.g. a snake eating itself, a shattering mirror, an eclipse).
Examples of acts that might produce Doom:
- Defiling the altar of a death god.
- Hearing the banshee call your name.
- Slaughtering and looting a temple.
- Killing an (innocent) priest, monk, druid, or other holy person.
- Slaughtering the sacred chickens.
What's the Point?
What's the point of these mechanics? Well, maybe two things. One is that hopefully it might lead towards the campaign that emphasizes careful consideration of killing, particularly its religious consequences. Murder suddenly becomes a much more expensive proposition if the gods are paying attention to your violence. If you want to kill without consequence, you're going to need to get permission (or protection) from some gods.
So, what do you do instead of murder and plunder? Well, you can maybe murder and plunder only a little bit and maybe get a manageable amount of Nemesis. You can beat up or capture your enemies (but be careful with the priests!), or force them to run away. You can make sure that when you do kill and plunder, you've got some religious backing to do so.
Second, it really gets religion involved in the adventuring cycle. Want to do dungeon delving? Better consult a priest first. Get some blessings before you head out of town. Visit shrines along the way. Why are there unplundered shrines and treasures all over the place? Because most people know better than to mess with them. Going to fight some gnolls/orcs/trolls/etc.? Well, you'd better get some protection against their gods, or you've got some serious nemesis in store for you.
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
The Lancer RPG generally doesn't have systems for exploration. The following was my attempt to homebrew such systems for my Kalliope Jazz campaign setting. It's got a few base assumptions:
- It's a bit gritty. Mechs don't have infinite power. They work kind of like Evangelion mechs, with a power gauge ticking downward. Mechs are scrappy little death machines cobbled together with old ship parts and prayers.
- Food is one of the most valuable commodities.
- PCs start the campaign indebted. Credits are the main currency.
- Taking your enemies prisoner is generally more lucrative than killing them.
- Cloning is very expensive and highly regulated.
|Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute|
KALLIOPE JAZZ HOMEBREW RULES SECTION
For use with the Lancer RPG for Exploration and Adventure
There are 4 Seasons per Year.
Cost per Season
Bell Peppers and Beef (Without the Beef)
Bare subsistence. Your stomach is always rumbling. You sleep inside your mech.
-2 to all skill checks.
As Much Rice As You Can Eat
Perhaps lacking in nutrition, but it will sustain you. You sleep in a barn.
-1 to all skill checks.
A Bit of Protein
Brothy soup and leftovers. Maybe the occasional tip to a musician. You sleep in a bed.
Steaks Every Night
Steaks and fully balanced means. An entertainment subscription service. The occasional gift for a paramour. You sleep in a room with a lock on it.
+1 to all skill checks. The following season only you can reduce the penalty from poor nutrition by 1.
Wine and Blackjack
The occasional high class entertainment and eating out every night. Tons of partying and money for drugs.
Same as Steaks Every Night, except you get a free GET A DAMN DRINK downtime action in addition to your normal one. For this carousing, roll twice and take the lower result.
Caviar and Champagne
The most luxurious imported goods. High class hotels and entertainments. Playing golf with businessmen and politicians.
+2 to all skill checks. An additional +2 Bonus towards any diplomacy or dealing with the rich and famous. Get a free GET A DAMN DRINK downtime action without disadvantage.
MECH COSTS AND BONUSES.
Players will begin the Kalliope Jazz campaign with 1000 Credits of debt to the Orleans Company.
The purchasing of Orleans Company (GMS) equipment requires a GMS License.
A GMS License costs 50 Credits per Year. This gives you access to all of the standard GMS weaponry, systems, and mechs. Licenses must be renewed every Year.
Mech Licenses cost 500 Credits to purchase.
Talents cost 250 Credits to purchase.
Mech Skills cost 150 Credits to purchase.
Grit increases to 1 after spending 1000 Credits, and every 2000 Credits after that. Credits acquired by taking out loans do not contribute towards Grit. Credits spent on Repairs do count towards Grit.
After acquiring 3 Licenses in a particular Mech, receive a Core Bonus from that Manufacturer.
Mech Licenses can be Rented for One Year.
100 Credits for the 1st Rank
300 Credits for the 1st and 2nd Ranks
500 Credits for All 3 Ranks
When a mech is destroyed, roll 1d6 for each Weapon Mount or System. It is destroyed if rolled under excess damage dealt to mech, up to a maximum of 5. If excess damage exceeds 10 or the pilot self-destructs, the mech is utterly obliterated.
(So if 4 excess damage destroys a mech, then each System and Weapon Mount is salvagable upon a 5-6 on a 1d6 roll.)
Disabled or destroyed mechs can have their Systems and weapons salvaged and sold off or converted into Repairs. Systems and weapons can be retrofitted onto Player mechs at a Garage/Stables at a cost equal to their Salvage value.
Auxiliary Weapons = 1 Repair = 5 Credits Salvage
Main Weapons = 2 Repairs = 10 Credits Salvage
Heavy Weapons = 4 Repairs = 20 Credits Salvage
Superheavy Weapons = 8 Repairs = 40 Credits Salvage
Systems = 1 Repair per SP = 5 Credits Salvage per SP
Prying all of the weapons and systems off of a mech takes 1 Hour. Salvage obtained in this way takes up 1 Carry Capacity for every 4 Repairs, or it can be bundled up as an Object of Size 1 for every 8 Repairs harvested.
You can try and quickly amputate a fallen mech’s equipment in a single round with a successful applicable Skill Check (GM’s discretion as to what applies). Particularly difficult systems or weapons to extract (such as Integrated Mounts) will require a Difficult Skill Check. Whether successful or not, equipment obtained by amputation has half normal value as soon as an amputation is attempted.
REPAIRS + LIMITED ITEMS
Every Repair costs 10 Credits. You begin the campaign with all your Repairs. These may be purchased and loaded up when doing a Full Repair.
Doing a Full Repair when in Nova New Orleans does not cost you anything, although replenishing your Repairs, up to your max repairs, does.
Orleans Company = GMS
The Colonists = ISP-N
House of Coals = SSC
The Oracles = Horus
Imperial Remnants = HA
Reputation with each group exists on a -10 to 10 scale. -10 indicates that this group will attempt to destroy you utterly to ensure you’ll never come back. 10 means that you are allied and considered deeply trustworthy.
Reputation with a group or particular person means that their items are cheaper.
Items purchased from Faction Vendors will cost 100% - (5% x Reputation). To a maximum of 50% for Allied, and 150% for enemies. Vendors will stop selling to you once you reach -5 or lower. At that point you must purchase such items and licenses from the Black Market.
HONOR AND RANSOM
On Kalliope, it is often more enriching to take enemies captive rather than killing them. Lancers with connections who are slain will simply be downloaded into new bodies via the Omninet. But Lancer held captive will not reincarnate unless certain anti-cloning protocols are breached. (If that happens, the original “Illegitimate” is typically disinherited, and slated for elimination by cloning authorities.)
The Orleans Company provides arbitration and safe transfer services for ransoms at a fee of 15%. They also provide consultations for reasonable ransom rates. Transactions and prisoner swaps are performed honorably under company auspices, rather than relying on hazardous in-person transfers.
Typical ransoms are as follows. Ransoms will often take 1d4 Seasons to finalize, due to the negotiation and logistical processes.
*Peasants are typically not even worth the cost of feeding them, and are usually executed or mutilated and set free.
**Knights and more senior nobility are typically Lancers, and are hence immortal.
Family Is Rich
Family Cares About Them
x0.75 per Mutilation
Wards, Prisoners, and Ransoms have a cost to hold them equivalent to x2 whatever Food/Entertainment costs you would prefer to keep them in as per the above Table. (Prison costs on top of food/entertainment.) Generally, the better you treat your prisoners, the more amiable they and their faction will be to you if ever the favor should be returned.
DEATH AND TAXES
Dying is expensive. This is why most noble houses prefer ransom over regrowing clones. Regrowing a Clone and building a brand new mech costs 1000 Credits by default. This amount automatically goes towards your debt, which accumulates debt-interest at a rate of 20% per Year. At the start of the campaign the Orleans Company holds this debt, although it’s possible that other entities can purchase this if they feel the need.
The Orleans Company is not fond of supporting horses that keep losing. If your debt exceeds 3000 Credits due to cloning expenses, they will implant your new clone with cybernetic protocols to “safeguard their investment”.
If your debt exceeds 5000 Credits due to repeated death, your Cloning Contract becomes null and void with the Orleans Company. They will not bring you back, and will attempt to confiscate whatever remains of your estates if you die again. Or they might bring you back and sell you into debt slavery.
Orleans Protocols and Cloning Contracts may be removed or renewed if you can reduce your debt. Typically to below 1000 Credits.
The Orleans Company offers personal and business loans to Lancers at the above 20% per Year rate, up to 1000 Credits. This Credit Limit can be extended by gaining Reputation with this faction.
REPLACING LOST MECHS
Sometimes your mechs may be irreparably destroyed or captured. When this happens you’ll need to replace the entire unit. The cost for replacing an mech is 40 Credits (or 4 Scrap) for an Everest, and 80 Credits (or 8 Scrap) for any other mech frame. If you have the Licenses to produce mech frames other than the Everest, and you decide to rebuild your mech using the Everest template, you must use the Everest frame for at least one season prior to switching frames.
There are 6 Watches in a Day.
Each Watch is 4 Hours.
Days alternate between Night and Day (Night is 24 Hours long, as is Day)
A mech travels underwater at a velocity of Speed x 3 Knots
An Everest with 4 Speed travels at 12 Knots (About 12 mph)
Hexes are 24 miles across. (Takes 2 hours, 1/2 Watch, to travel
Knots (Speed x 3)
Watch Distance (Miles Travelled / 4 Hours)
Watches to Cross Hex (24 Miles)
Distance Travelled Per Day (Nautical Miles)
# Hexes Travelled During One Watch
Hexes Travelled Per Day
Searching or Traveling?
PCs determine underwater travel elevation (Surface, Floating, or Floor)
Determine Weather Effects or Travel Events
Determine direction of travel and formation.
(If Underwater) GM determines Lost Status and potential Veer
PCs engage Movement / Searching
If Active Sonar is engaged, record terrain features and moving objects.
Resolve Encounters, if any
Record resources expended
When traveling underwater, for our purposes there will generally be three important elevations: Surface, Floating, and Floor.
When traveling on the Surface, mechs have full view of the sky. They are visible from the air and can spot things on the surface up to 3 miles. Active Sonar will grant the greatest amount of information. It is the least stealthy option.
When Floating, mechs do not have view of the sky, nor do they have a visual of the sea floor. It typically grants no visual information. Active Sonar will reveal a moderate amount of information. It is slightly more stealthy than Surface. There are different degrees of Floating, depending on the maximum depth of the area. All water areas will have a Depth rating from 1-6, which corresponds to potential degrees of Floating. In these instances, Depth 1 = Surface. Max Depth = Ocean Floor. (e.g. in an area of max Depth 4, a Depth of 1 is the surface. Depth 4 is the Ocean Floor. The party may travel at Floating depths 2 and 3.) The deeper you Float, the less information Sonar grants and the less detectable you are.
When traversing the Sea Floor, mechs have a visual of the floor of the ocean and are susceptible to any terrain movement penalties, and any visual features they can see (up to Sensors distance). Active Sonar will reveal the least amount of information, especially if located in a valley or contained within other obstructing landscape. It is the stealthiest option. Traveling along the sea floor gives the greatest chance that one will avoid enemy active and passive sonar.
Weather Effects and Floor Terrain Features
Certain weather effects may affect Travel Speed, Getting Lost chances, or Veer.
Surface visibility reduced fractionally based on Storm potency. Veer chance doubled.
Every Watch, Hull Save or take 2d6 Physical Damage.
Mechs gain 1 Heat every round spent in fire.
Every Watch, Agility Save or take 1d6 Energy Damage.
Every Watch, Systems Save or a ghost inhabits your machine. (Effects Vary)
Once per Watch, there is a 5% chance for each mech to be picked up and hurled into an adjacent hex. This chance is halved for mechs of size 2, and halved again for size 3.
Gravitational Anomaly that will crush anything that enters. When encountering a Charybdis, make two consecutive Agility Checks. If both are failed then your mech and pilot are crushed and destroyed.
Visual searching chances are Impaired.
50% Chance of any particular Elevation being affected. Reduces Sensors by half.
All Saves are DC 10 unless otherwise noted.
* Indicates which elevation this affects.
Gain Precision +1 when avoiding or evading.
Terrain effects may be ignored within a single hex by having an Encounter with mines.
Getting Lost chance tripled.
Veer Effects are Directional and Constant
**Minefields may be active or inactive at any level.
Only applicable when at Floating or Floor elevations, or during weather effects that prevent visibility conditions on the Surface.
When it is determined that the party has gotten Lost, the GM secretly rolls a degree of Veer and distance movement penalty. When Lost, the party has no bearings and cannot accurately determine direction and course. To regain bearings, one of the following must occur:
Gain sight of a familiar landmark (such as an island, a wreck, or natural feature), or area that has been previously scanned by the party.
Receive directions from a local.
Your Mech Bonuses affect certain areas of exploration.
Hull increases your Carry Capacity.
Agility modifies your Speed, which affects Travel Times.
Systems amplifies the chance of discovering something hidden when Searching. It also amplifies the scouting radius of active sonar and surveillance drones.
Engineering modifies energy consumption and recovery, which can be used to overdrive your mech to high speeds or sustain oneself in areas of energy drain.
Carry Capacity = (3+Hull) x Size
1 Unit for Carry Capacity = , a Treasure Chest, Extra Ammo, a spare Energy Core, etc.
Search Success Chance = 5% + 5% per point of Systems
Multiple people may initiate searches simultaneously. All Search rolls are done in secret.
Energy Production = 1% per point of Engineering.
There are two resources which will be important to exploration: Energy and Repairs.
Repairs work independently of the travel mechanics. Resting requires 1 Watch (4 Hours) instead of the normal one Hour. Full Repairs require the use of a Garage/Stables/Dry Dock Port.
Energy is the primary resource for exploration, the equivalent of torches and rations ticking down. Every mech has a reactor that supplies energy which under resting conditions is self-sustainable but under strenuous conditions drains. Energy begins at 100% and drains at a rate proportional to the hazard faced, modified by factors such as Mech Size and Engineering Save.
Under normal conditions, a mech uses up 5% of its Energy every Watch and every Combat Round. Every Watch, a mech produces Energy according to its Engineering mech skill. (Yes, with 6 Engineering you can in fact gain Energy during exploration.)
Energy Expended = 5% - Engineering
During Exploration, a mech pilot may Overdrive the Mech. Doing so increases your exploration Speed. For every 1 Speed, an additional 2% Energy is used every Watch. You cannot Overdrive your mech in combat, only in Exploration.
If Overdriving your mech by a Speed of 3 higher than normal, you must pass an Engineering check every Watch (DC 10) or suffer 1 Stress.
During Combat, Combat Energy Drain may be reduced to 2% per Round default at the expense of your mech being Slowed and Impaired. This can be initiated as a Protocol, which persists until the Protocol is disabled.
If your Energy reaches 0%, your mech is effectively Stunned until it either rests or acquires Energy from some source.
Energy returns while Resting at a rate of (5+Engineering)% per Watch. Resting may occur within areas of Energy Drain, though in some areas of potent Energy Drain this will be a losing battle.
Returning back home to base after a season requires no Energy and happens automatically.
1 SP, Unique
Once per Watch while underwater, your mech emits a mighty caw of active sonar that determines general topographical data and major structures within 24 nautical miles (one hex) plus an additional 8 miles per 2 points of Systems. It will identify moving objects of size 1 within the same hex (within 15 miles), and moving objects of size 2 or greater in adjacent hexes.
During combat, the Huginn Transducer may be activated as a Protocol - All Invisible beings within Sensors only have a 33% chance to be missed, instead of 50%.
Beware, though, for there are terrible things in the deeps. And they’re surely listening.
1 SP, 1 Carry Capacity
Once per Watch, you may send your drone up into the sky to get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area. Depending on the weather, it may acquire surface topography up to 96 miles.
UNIVERSAL POWER CABLES
Pilot Item, 1 Carry Capacity
You may connect two mechs together with this cable, allowing them to donate/receive Energy from one another. Mechs connected this way may not move 2 Spaces from each other. In combat, this takes a Full Action to attach, or a Free Action to unattach.
1 Carry Capacity
An easily-acquirable reserve. Each battery can instantly give your mech an additional 20% Energy for a Size 1 or ½ mech, 15% for a Size 2 mech, or 10% for a Size 3 mech.
Are divided into three categories: Docks, Dry Dock, and Hostile.
At Docks, your mechs can be bunkered up for the rest of the season, but they don’t have the facilities to do a Full Repair. Sometimes special Downtime Activities will be present, depending on the Port.
At Dry Dock Ports, Full Repairs may be initiated. Dry Dock Ports are often bigger and more impressive than Wet Dock Ports. The cost of purchasing Repairs will vary from port to port.
At Hostile Ports, Full Repairs may not be initiated, and Downtime Activities may not happen without some kind of subterfuge. The Port Guards may also attack and attempt to impound your mechs and/or arrest or kill you.
MULE Harness (Lancaster II) has the added benefit of having all riding mechs match the Lancaster’s speed when traveling.
Transfusion Cables. Pilot Gear. Allows the sharing of Energy between mechs. Any connected mechs may donate any amount of Energy to any other connected mechs. Requires 1 Watch to complete.