30 October, 2015

NaGaDeMon 2015

I usually manage to get something together for NaGaDeMon, whether I do anything with it after the month is up... well that's a different issue entirely.

This year my aim is to pull together all of my notes for the revised FUBAR and put them together, finally putting out the definitive edition that's been played at conventions for the last couple of years.

I'm also planning on getting the illustrations right for Bug Hunt, possibly going for something very pretty and art nouveau inspired. That way I'll have a pair of games ready for crowdfunding early in the new year.

We'll see how the plans pan out.  

29 October, 2015

#Drawlloween #Inktober 28 - Black Cat

There weren't always cats in the Darkhive, but in the past two centuries of their recorded existence they seem to have become a natural fit to the realm.

Unlike many things in the Darkhive, the origin of the cats can be easily pinpointed. An obscure feline race crashed into the outer shell of the hive with their damaged generational ship. Vast numbers of the ship's inhabitants died in the crash, with perhaps a few hundred managing to get into the relative security of the hive. These survivors brought with them an assortment of plants and animals native to their world, hoping to establish a colony or survivors. The colony survived the first few years in general isolation, and even started to make a few trade contacts with some neighbouring settlements. But the survivors didn't understand that the Hiveguard were simply advancing on their territory to clean up the devastation caused by their damaged ship crashing into the hive. They fought off advancing waves of Hiveguard, each one more powerful than the last, until the Hiveguard won a decade long war of attrition. The feline race were decimated, and their remnants scattered through the hive. Interbreeding with other races before they completely vanished, the feline race sometimes manifests in children with throwback traits, and some of these throwbacks seek one another out with the intention of bringing back a more pure strain of their original people, but for the most part they have been lost to the mists of time. The race's cats have long since multiplied, often traded as kittens to nearby settlements, within a year of two having new litters of kittens to be further traded across the hive. The cats have proven far more adaptable to the hive, so have a few of the plants rescued from the generational ship which are even now used in herbal concotions.

Cats have become a useful tool for keeping the rats and rodents of the hive in check, but like cats everywhere they typically keep to themselves (unless wanting to be fed). Among some settlements, cats are seen as a useful ally, among others they are seen as yet another pest, and in those settlements near the original site of the crashed feline ship, they serve as a reminder of events now in the past.

#Drawlloween #Inktober 27 - Witch

If the term "witch" is defined in the faerie tale sense as a woman with supernatural powers, then pretty much every woman in the Darkhive fits this description... they are all capable of healing woulds at an exponentially greater rate than people elsewhere, they all have to potential to tap into deeper powers if they choose to open themselves to the unknown.

If the term "witch" is more narrowly defined as a person who deliberately studies the loopholes in reality to invoke effects that would not normally be under the control of mere mortals, then there would be far less individuals fitting that description, but still a sizable percentage (maybe 30% of the population, male and female, actively study ways to gain the power necessary to survive and possibly gain an edge over the people around them).

If the term "witch" is defined in the Catholic Inqusition sense as an individual (typically female) who makes some kind of pact with the infernal to gain power, then the numbers are far lower still. A small percentage of all survivors in the Darkhive have considered making a deal with the Hiveguard, with one of the darker Symbiote Surgeons, or possibly among the less mentally or emotionally stable, making a deal with the Shellbrood. Of these, less than half a percent have actually made such a deal and have gained a benefit from it. More often than not, they wander off into the labyrinth of the hive, following some ancient map or rumour, never to be seen again.

The dark skinned Khar-Tui (and those who follow their cultural ways) are perhaps the most likely to come out ahead when engaging in infernal pacts. As consummate scholars and keepers of both law ad lore, they are less likely to go wandering off into the forgotten parts of the Hive, but more likely to know the right way to word a contract, and the right warding effects to have in place, to get the best out of any deals that might be made. On the down side, the kinds of creatures who are capable of granting supernatural power are a selfish lot, and due to the reputation of the Khat-Tui, many of them are unlikely to deal with the race at all due to fear that they might not get a good bargain. More often a member of a less scholarly culture will seek out the wisdom of a Khar-Tui solicitor before heading off into the hive to find their supernatural destiny. The fact that not many come back is of little concern to the Khar-Tui, and is is said that canny members among that race have cut deals with infernal beings to send a steady stream of unprepared souls their way. But that's all just rumour and innuendo from racists isn't it.  


#Drawlloween #Inktober 26 - Rat


Rats, rodents and other small scavengers from a dozen different worlds are common throughout the Darkhive. Such creatures were recorded aboard the first Riven and Khar-Tui ships to collide with the huge structure, and similar creatures found they way onto the hive through the dimensional portals that sporadically open to the hidden parts of lost planetary empires, and via numerous crashed ships that lie in waste across the hive's outer surface.

Unlike apex predators, scavenging rats and rodents find plenty to eat among the insects, the waste of various settlements and the carrion of battle. Such creatures are treated here with much the same disgust and disdain that most civilised cultures treat them, as eaters of carrion they spread disease from one part of the hive to another, but they also serve the vital purpose of breaking down rotting meat into more easily accessibly nutrients for the plant life and fungal growths throughout the hive. They are a valuable part of the ecosystem especially in settlements where there are gardens, or areas where green plant life has gradually claimed the hive for it's own.

Rodents are typically not found in areas where Hiveguard have restored the Darkhive to its pristine form (there simply isn't enough refuse and garbage for them to eat in these areas), and their numbers tend to be lower in areas where their is a strong presence of Shellbrood, but they can be found almost anywhere else in the hive.

#Drawlloween #Inktober 25 - Mummy


Mummies exist in the Darkhive as a peculiar side effect of certain regal Panaho funeral rites. Occasionally when one of the leaders of the Panaho becomes too intrinsically connected to the fungal symbioties in their systems, their whole body starts to slow down. They become one with the fungus and literally seize up as the fungal life threads its way through their veins and muscle tissue.

Such regal elders either go insane as they find it harder to remain mobile, or they spend longer periods in meditation to develop otherwise unknown heights of psychic awareness. Those who go insane are often set slowly wandering the depths of the hive where they might confront mutants and monstrous creatures in one last civic duty for their people. Those who develop psychic powers are carefully bandaged to avoid injury as their mind wander the astral realm. Ghosts have often claimed to encounter the astral forms of these mummies, but they fear these powerful beings. The little news about the mummies which filters through to those still living speaks of grand psychic battles between savage races of monsters. These monsters may be the driving forces behind the Shellbrood, the creatures who use demons and devils as their servitors, or even the creatures who originally created the Darkhive itself. Transcending to take part in this eternal battle beyond tie and space is considered one of the greatest honours for the regal elders of the Panaho, and something that lower ranked Panaho believe is beyond their grasp (but ironically, there may be just as many lower ranked Panaho symbiotically waging the eternal war from their moldering corpses in the middle of fungal gardens...they just don't fight as long as their bodies gradually give way around them).

Eventually, most Panaho mummies become solid fungus, the entirety of their bodies used to nourish new life over the course of centuries. Some gardener priests tend mummies, pruning the fungus to preserve the remaining flesh and bone for as long as possible. These gardener priests are often granted blessings by the mummy over the course of generations. These blessings become ever more powerful when they are granted (as the mummy gains power at levels typically considered akin to a spirit or deity), but as the mummies consciousness drifts further into the deep realms, it's concept of time becomes ever more tenuous and those blessings become more sporadic. 

27 October, 2015

A Magic System



Light and Witchy Ars Magica 3
So, having looked at a lot of bits, I think I have the shape of the magic I want, now.  it goes like this.

1. You decide on what you want to do!  You'll describe it, and get a combination of a verb, a noun, and a form.  You'll have a rating from 1-4 in each (dots, probably).

The Verbs Are: Banishing, Conjuring, Divining, Dominating, Invoking, Warding.

The Nouns Are: Beast, Blood, Dream, Earth, Fire, Hex, Name, Plant, Shade, Water, Wind.

The Forms Are: Poppet, Brew, Rite, Taglock, Circle, Tool.

2. The Guide tells you about materials: Poppets need to be sewn or sculpted, Brews need to be brewed, Rites need participants and a formula, Taglocks need a sample of the noun or target, Circles need a circle of a material that suits, Tools need a tool custom-made for the job.  You put that stuff together.

3. The Guide presents some dangers: Dangers include the spell failing, you being doomed to also suffer the effect of a negative spell in future or the reverse of a positive one (up to three times), becoming exhausted, a collateral effect hitting similar or linked targets, a ban on use of the created thing (like your tool spell giving you a divining rod that only works under the full moon, or a knife that banishes hexes but can never touch blood).

4. You roll: This is a pool of d10s; you roll a number equal to your verb + noun scores.  Each die that comes up equal or less than your score in the form cancels a danger.  You suffer the others.



This popped up in my stream today, it's almost a ready made set of components to develop magic in System 4. It uses verbs (much like the core mechanisms of the game system), it it modular allowing for a more free-wheeling style of magic that fits the type of game I enjoy. It might need a few tweaks, but it's so close that it feels like cheating to adapt this into my game.

The major change that I'd need to make is to adapt the die mechanism to match the remainder of the game, but that's not a hard fix. I'm thinking that each verb and noun comes in basic/intermediate/advanced levels (d2/d4/d6 respectively). When you want to perform magic, you add together the relevant noun and verb to get your "power die" (which could therefore range from d4 to d12). The power die gets added to whatever else you are doing, it provides extra magical successes to the action. The form is more like a Mage: the Ascension focus, a specific way of doing things that defines your magical practice, these might be traditionally linked to specific verbs or nouns, they might provide bonuses when used with some, or might be banned from usage with others. If you have access to two forms that might work with a certain verb/noun combination you might get automatic successes on the action.  

I've already started adapting the system to fit into the mystical paradigm of the Darkhive. A single asterisk described a common magical word or form for one of the three mystic forms, a double asterisk indicates an uncommon word or form, and no asterisk means that this word or form is not associated with that style of mystic influence at all. I've also started working on a simple system to flavour these words to work in different ways, simply (I'm not sure if I'll keep this though).

Speed = How long it takes to manifest the effect
Duration = How long the effect tends to last
Range = How far to the epicenter of the effect
Area = How wide a radius the effect has around that epicenter
Effect = How potent the specific effect is 

A mystical effect has a baseline that manifests with a single success, this baseline is set with the bonuses and penalties of the words and forms comprising the effect. Extra successes increase one of the categories defining the outcome, typically the "Duration", the "Area" or the "Effect" level. Players define the spells that their characters have memorised, or they can create effects on the fly.  

Word
Fungal
Mutagenic
Psionic
Bonus
Penalty
Verbs





Ward
*

**
Duration
Speed
Invoke

**
*
Speed
Duration
Transform
**
*

Duration
Area
Dominate

**
*
Effect
Range
Summon

**
*
Range
Area
Divine
**

*
Speed
Area
Corrupt
*
**

Duration
Speed
Purify
*
**

Duration
Speed
Compel
**

*
Speed
Effect
Banish
**

*
Range
Area
Manifest
**
*

Effect
Speed
Perceive

*
*
Speed
Effect
Mutate
**
*

Effect
Speed
Nouns





Air
**
**
*
Area
Effect
Earth
*
**
**
Duration
Speed
Fire
**
*
**
Effect
Duration
Water
**
*
**
Range
Speed
Fungus
*
**

Duration
Speed
Beast

*
**
Area
Speed
Blood
**
*
**
Effect
Range
Plant
**
**

Duration
Speed
Thought


*
Speed
Duration
Curse

*

Duration
Area
Light
**
**
**
Speed
Effect
Darkness
**
*
**
Speed
Effect






Forms





Brew
*


Effect
Area
Circle


*
Area
Speed
Tool


*
Speed
Duration
Ritual


*
Duration
Speed
Symbiosis
*


Effect
Range
Mutagen

*

Duration
Area
Warp

*

Speed
Effect
The whole thing needs more work and a bit more refinement, but it feels really good. Much like I was aiming for when I was developing the Storified Mage. Maybe it's time to revisit that project.