Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fate of the World Part 4: Mind of a God

Now we delve into the murky world of Channels(...mer...I really do not like that name, I need a better one. Thesaurus don't fail me now...and my thesaurus has failed me, looks like I am stuck with channel for now). Influences four this are Watchmen(Doctor Manhattan), Aberrant(Novas/aberrants), Progenitor(Dark Energy Users), and Steelheart(though more alien and less evil in this version).

1956, the year everything changed. 1956, the year physics as we understood it left the universe. 1956, the year He entered the world. At a small atomic research station in the middle of New Mexico an accident occurred. Michael Shuster, the labs leading researcher, died. He was disintegrated in a small nuclear reactor accident. Three days later, he body began to rematerialize from the brain outward. The Military quickly stepped in to cover up the situation. Soon they realized they had in their possession the ultimate weapon. Michael could manipulate the Strong Nuclear Force, or he seemed to be able to. For several years they tried to duplicate the conditions and results of his accident. They failed. As the years went on Michael became stranger, more distant. Many feared what would happen when he lost all connection to reality as we understand it.

They began  a program to get him reconnected to this world. He went public, and over the next decade revolutionized technology, becoming a celebrity scientist. The years spent studying him allowed for various avenues of technology that were previously unimaginable. Michael was now connected to the human race again, but that did not make his thoughts or actions any less alien. As the decade progressed he became stranger and more philosophical. In 1967 a group stepped forward, the children of the atom, they worshiped Michael as Divine Made Flesh. Often he would visit these people and discuss things, sometimes denying his divinity and other times seeming to acknowledge it. These discussions were published as The Final Hypothesis. In 1969 Michael left the Earth. His last words were, "I am leaving yet. I must meet myself. Your destiny has been my Fulfillment." Much has been made of these last words. Some say that he had become unhinged completely, others that it was some kind of threat, still others think it a prophesy. No one really knows. That was the last anyone would ever see a being like that. Until 1972.

In Karuizawa, Japan. The United Red Army gathered a over twenty people into a Holiday Lodge below Mount Asama. Their the detonated an electrical device of unknown type, most likely derivative of technology developed by Dr. Shuster. This explosion caused the volcano to erupt. Thousands died, and much of the city was  left in ruins. Three days later a naked woman was seen hovering over the ruins, apparently helping the cleanup. Aoki Fukuko, the worlds second Channel, had arrived. Since 1972 there have been other occurrences, other accidents. Currently the world holds at least forty two Channels. There may be more, some may be hiding their nature.

Channels do not read as different than normal humans on initial inspection. All of their powers stem from their mental ability to control one or more of the four fundamental forces of the universe. So far none have been anywhere near as powerful as Michael Shuster. All of them seem to become more alien as time goes on.

Rules for making Channels in Jadepunk
1. You must have Channel in your portrayal
2. Your techniques are allowed to have any feature or flaw and they must all have the troubled flaw(relating to your inhuman nature and mindset.
3. Devices are unchanged.
4. Your Trouble must also relate to your inhuman nature in some way
5. Allies are not available to you. You have trouble making connections.

And that is my take on Channels. I really do need a better name for them, so any help there would be appreciated. Also any other comments or critiques would be welcome. the next post will be a little bit more history and world building as well as a couple of characters, maybe.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fate of the World part 3: It's because of, really

And here is where we get into the weird powers and strange history of the world a bit deeper. Today we will be delving into the hidden world of mutants and madmen. Today we are detailing Chimera. My influences for this, are TMNT, Elephant Men, the Prototype game line, The Bourne Legacy, Captain America, Jurassic Park, Resident Evil, and Aliens. It is three parts human animal hybrids, two parts zombies, two parts techno thriller, and one part body horror(not a whole lot of that, as it really creeps me the hell out).

But first, it has been brought to my attention that I have not dealt with the Themes and Threats of this setting. True enough, to be perfectly frank I had forgotten about them altogether as started writing this up. Now I sit, ready to lay them least my first thoughts on the themes and threats. If you all see a better set of them, or even more that could be added in please let me know. This setting is very much a work in progress and kind of a stream of consciousness setting at that.

Threats and Themes
This would be dependent on the level of play, there are three modes of play that I see, so far, in this game: Street Level, City Wide, and World Shaking. These do not correspond to power level or anything like that, though they would certainly be influenced by that. I am reminded of Rorschach from the Watchmen. On the surface he appears to be in a street level game, but in reality he is in a World Shaking Campaign. He may be the least powerful of them all, but he has the biggest impact on the story(arguably). So those are the three levels I see.

Street Level is your basic TMNT type campaign. They deal with the Purple Dragons street gang and the Foot Clan. Basic conflicts would be turf wars and neighborhood level crime. the end of a street level campaign(or at least the major milestone) would be going up against a city wide organized crime family or some equivalent force. You will rare leave your local area and mostly deal with thugs and punks(with the leather jackets and their Mohawks). I think a good threat there would be something along the lines of: "[Local Gang] Is Taking Over." Then you could come up with a few faces for the local gang and some possible areas that need dealing with. A possible Impending Threat would be something like: "[Local Gang] is just the fingers of [Larger Organized Crime]." Themes for this would be anything from, "Our Home, Our Family," to, "This Turf Is Protected." really anything focused around the idea of keeping your streets clean and orderly. Make it fit with the threats you are working with, and the PC group you have.

City Wide is your bigger story, this is where you get your Prototype style game and that sort of thing. Generally you would be dealing with larger threats and a bigger scale. A common threat would be: "[something related to you origin] is threatening the city." This could all be a prelude to some larger plot something like: "This Is Just A Test Run." Some Themes that might fit could be, "Only We Truly Understand How To Deal With This," or, "Someone Must Clean Up [threat's] Mess."

For World Shaking Campaigns you are dealing with serious issues, I mean, this is where you get alien invasions(or faked alien invasions), A Bunch of Supers taking over a country, international politics, and massive conspiracies(the Bourne Legacy is a fine example of a low level version of this sort of campaign). As this is such a wide array of potential campaigns, the threats and the themes will be up to individual tables to work out. Some advice would be to keep it about power and The corruption that stems from it. Keep it based on the idea that the world is more exaggerated and that consequences are for failure are often far reaching and dangerous. You may want to use the Collateral Consequences rule from the Fate System Toolkit for this level of play(any level of play really, it is a spiffy rule that fits the ideas behind this series well).

I know that this is not a direct set of themes and Threats, but I think it works pretty well as guidelines for making your own campaigns. Of course, please let me know if you disagree or have a different idea on how to do it. Now, on to the Chimera and history moves forward a little bit further.

No one know exactly how the Germans became so advanced in the field of Genetics. Sometime in the early thirties, Nazi scientist began to make huge leaps in the field. by 1935 they were more than a hundred years ahead of the rest of the world in that field. It wasn't until 1967 that anyone had even a glimpse as to what caused this technological boom. It was during the 1936 Olympic that the world realized what they were facing. The Nazi government fielded a team of Ubermenschen. They passed all their requisite drug tests and anything else the Olympic Committee threw at them. They broke every record known in the physical fields. It was only in the equestrian events that the rest of the world could compete, and even then america and Britain's golds in those fields were tightly contested. All in all, it was a tough row to hoe. Part of america's losses was due to the Crime College. the Dutchman had gathered up many of the best athletes in america at the time to work for him. America's teams were woefully under talented.

Then came the War.

By the time the Americans became embroiled in it, Germany controlled a few key beaches in Brittain and was driving straight for London. Their Super Soldiers were a key force that were hard to pin down or hold back. They called themselves the Blitz Soldaten, the Lighting Soldiers. It was all America and Britain could do just to hold them to the beaches, until Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson initiated the Stimson Plan. the Plan would allow former "villains" to join up and get a free pass on their actions prior to the war as well as being allowed to keep any devices or techniques as secret as they like, provided they put their efforts toward the war effort. Villains and Vigilantes signed up in droves, all wearing their masks, all dedicated to the freeing of Britain and the destruction of the Axis powers. The war was brutal and long fought. Lasting over ten years. Most of Europe was in ruin by the end, save for a few neutral countries. It ended August 4, 1949 with the unconditional surrender of both the German and Japanese forces, five days after both Berlin and Tokyo were wiped from the face of the earth with the first(and thus far only) atomic devices, Little Boy and Fat Man. There were few Blitz Soldaten left by the end, as they were often used in the toughest fighting, and most of the research and scientists who worked directly of the Ubermensch project were killed in Berlin. It would be twenty years before anything like them would be seen again.

Nineteen years later John Maldonado, an american treasure hunter, came upon a German U-Boat. It had been sunk in the final days of the war heading toward Antarctica, for reasons unknown. Within this sub were full research notes and schematics for the German Genetics Program. Within the notes were references to a "benefactor," and mentions of a disaster in the year, "1986." Hinting that the Germans did not come up with their process alone, and seemed to have some sort of doomsday cult within their scientists, who believed that a great disaster was coming in 1986.

Maldonado hid his findings from the rest of the world and began to gather investors in a wholly new idea. A genetics firm to build a better tomorrow. this was the Birth of Alpha Corp and the beginning of the Genetics race. Overnight genetics research when from the theoretical to the practical. soon their were multiple companies vying for the genetic dollar. But racing ahead of them all was Alpha Corp. For nearly twenty years they were the leaders in the field. their motto was as true as it was ominous, "Alpha Corp, we're in everything." Then the worst happened, 1986 happened. New York was nearly wiped out by a targeted pathogen, it killed people, and those it did not kill it altered. The first Chimera were expelled into the world like an unwanted tumorous growth. Some of the '86ers(as they became known) managed to hold onto their sanity and gain some semblance of control. Some went a little crazy, but most managed to try and help as best they could. It was during the investigation of Alpha Corp that much of their information went public in one form or another. Many of Alpha Corp'c competitors managed to reverse engineer what they found, and thus we entered a new era of technology.

How to make a CHymera Character using Jadepunk Rules
1. Devices can be considered internal mutations. Otherwise their rules stay the same. treat them as if they were part of the character.
2. Techniques are unchanged
3. Allies are generally going to be either from one of the genetics companies, or(if you are runaways or failed experiments) from the underground. What underground, you ask? why THE underground. There is always an underground. Make it fit for your campaign, it could be a bunch of PETA rejects or Luddites or whatever you like.

Sample NPCS
Hero Animal Pals - the well known and well loved mascots of Genicom, they mostly make public appearances, though they are on call by the cities SWAT team for whenever a strange event occurs. They have loads of training and equipment. They make Genicom grotesque amounts of money, with their cartoon series, comic books, and Public Appeal. Currently Genicom is the US governments leading supplier of post-utero genetic enhancements. All of the Hero Animal Pals is a cutesy animal designed to look good on TV as well as being able to deal with a crisis. They all have the same stats and Assets. they may look different, but they are really quite the same genetically.

Professions: Fighter +3, Aristocrat and Explorer +2, Scoundrel and Scholar +1, Engineer +0

Animal Powers
They have been genetically modified to be the perfect soldiers and faces for the company.they are fast, tough, and cute. The kids love them.

Function Aspect: Awesome Animal Abilities
Features: Focus 2 (Scholar +2), Focus 4 (Explorer +2, Fighter +2), Harmful 2, Protective 1(reduce incoming harm by 1 for all successful attacks), Sturdy 1(increase stress by one box)

Flaws: Situational (bonus to Scholar on works when using your senses), Situational(bonus explorer only works when using your natural senses), Situational(fighter bonus only applies when using your natural weapons, claws, teeth, etc)

Squeeks: Modified Guinea Pig, Field Leader, stern and serious, always training
Portrayal: Guinea Pig Commando
Need: Never be Caged Again
Secret: Hates The Company
Notes: Swap Aristocrat and Fighter ratings.

Hoppy: Happy go lucky modified Snowshow Hair,
Portrayal: Rabbit Sniper
Need: Have Fun and Be Free
Secret: Hates to Kill
Notes: Swap Scoundrel and Aristocrat ratings.

Ham-Ham: Modified Hamster, master of close in fighting
Portrayal: Cutest Little Rage Monster
Need: To Be Accepted
Secret: Severe PTSD
Notes: no changes

Rex: Canine Heavy weapons, loyal and bright
Portrayal: Collie With Heart of Gold and a backpack full of C4
Need: I Must Keep My Family Safe
Secret: Afraid of Being Alone
Notes: Swap Engineer with Scholar rating

Standard New York Rager
Most of the folks affected by the Pathogen become Ragers. I am going to use +Ryan M. Danks' wonderful Zombie stats here, to represent the Ragers. i have changed a few of the aspects, but otherwise they are the same.

Mooks: Ragers
If you need a bunch of Chimera minions to threaten your PCs, this is the way to go.

Portrayal: Brain-dead Chimera
Need: Flesh
Secret: Aim For The Head!
Trouble: Unthinking Attacks
Competence Bonus: Average (+1)
Assets: Strong Bite
Type: Technique
Guiding Aspect: Brain-Dead Chimera
Features: Aspect (Infecting Bite), Harmful 1
Stress: 1 for every two zombies in the horde.

that is the Chimera, or at least, my take on the Chimera at the moment. Let me know what you think. What do I need to add or subtract? What am I missing completely? Alright, barring anything else, the next post will be the Channels, and the truly Inhuman. You know, I think I need a better name than just sounds wrong when used as a noun describing an individual. Any thoughts on what i should call them?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fate of the World part 2: Natural Order

There have always been exceptional individuals. However they were few and far between. In 1924 the Dutchman opened the Crime College in order to find and train these individuals to further his ambitions. This lead to far more exceptional individuals in a far smaller geographic space. These men and women were trained in all manner of skills and technologies. They created wondrous devices and esoteric techniques. They wore bright colors and robbed banks, bold as brass. these were the first Villains. In order to face this new threat, heroes were forced to wear masks and delve into the esoteric. Many strange skills and bizarre inventions were used in the fight against crime. The public ate it right up. These were heroes right out of the pulps, facing evil villains in a never ending struggle of good against evil. That was the lie the papers sold them. the truth was far murkier. Many of the supposed heroes were nothing more than thugs in masks, shaking down villains. Some stood tall, but others became the very thing they were fighting against. It was a dark time, and justice was blind.

Rules for making Naturals in Jadepunk
1. Naturals may take any technique that does not break the laws of physics(discuss how far you want that to go within your group). 
2. Naturals may have any device, though the larger it is, or the stranger, the more likely it is to have the troubling flaw(everyone wants it, or it breaks all the time)
3. Allies are unchanged, these would be your gang, or your cop pals who feed you information.

Ivan Dahl von Teler
AKA: The Dutchman, the Ghost, George Anderson, Dutch

Born to a wealthy Danish family, Ivan was trained in everything the sone of a rich man was to know. A prodigy Ivan began learning everything that was available. By the age of eight he had read every book his father owned or could procure as well as burning through seventeen private tutors. At age eleven, tragedy struck. His father's fortunes waned and the family was forced to move to america. Things continued to deteriorate throughout his teen years and by the his sixteenth year his family lived in a detroit slum. During this time something cam unhinged in young Ivan. He began to see that he was different than other children, and in his isolation he focused even more on his studies. While he could no longer afford proper schooling as he was used to he began to train his body. Becoming strong and swift, able to do nearly impossible feats. He began to suspect that there were others like him out in the world. With that in mind he began his plan. He would build an organization of the greatest humanity could offer, and organization that could never fail, because it only accepted the best. To build this organization he needed capital. he began a string of robberies, and discovered he liked it. Ivan wished to remain anonymous and yet he also wished to be known for his expertise. And so the Dutchman was born. Dressed as a ghostly Pirate, he would rob banks and other high security locations. in 1921 he robbed an armored mail truck for over two million dollars in jewels and cash. He finally had enough money to put his plan into action. Over the next year he cemented his hold on a section of Chicago, and managed to pull together a few other unique individuals like himself. In 1923 he began work on the Crime College, developing recruitment tests and building a following of lesser crooks. His dream was about to take flight.

Portrayal: King of Crime
Background: Unhinged Prodigy
Inciting Incident: Out of the Ashes I Rise
Belief: Those With The Means Shall Rule
Trouble: It Is Never Enough

Professions: Scholar +3, Aristocrat and Engineer +2, Explorer and Scoundrel +1, Fighter +0

Technique: Mind Is The Best Defense
He has trained his body through the use of his mind. In a fight he can predict where an opponent's blow will land and be elsewhere. Fighting the Dutchman is like fighting the wind.

Guiding Aspect: Unhinged Prodigy
Features: Focus 2(+2 to fighter), Protective 2(reduce incoming harm from a successful attack by 2)
Flaws: Situational(only for defense and must described as part of the plan)

Technique: Master Mind
The Dutchman is brilliant at planing and getting people to do what he wants. He is a student of the mind, and the mind holds few mysteries for him.

Guiding Aspect: King of Crime
Features: Focus 2(+2 to scoundrel), Focus 2(+1 to aristocrat and engineer)
Flaws: Situational(only when dealing with followers or working toward a grand plan)

Stress: [] [] []
Refresh: 3

And that is my take on the Naturals for my setting. Let me know what you think, and perhaps what I am missing. Next up I will delve into the bizarre genetics of the Chimera. its gonna be pretty sweet.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fate of the World Part 1: An Rambling Introduction

I got a lot of good feedback on the last series of posts I did(for those who forgot or missed it, I did DC superheroes using Jadepunk's setting and mechanics). At the end of that series of posts I asked what I should do next. I laid out a few ideas I had and I got a response. It was unanimous, everyone wanted me to do TMNT.

Well I say everyone, when really I mean, four people. So I set to work doing something approaching TMNT in Jadepunk, and I realized a couple of things. First, all the turtles are mechanically identical, save for the aspects(and even those are pretty darn close). And second, doing a straight port of TMNT did not really play to my strengths. Namely that I am a world builder primarily. I love making up worlds and settings and all that sort of stuff. So I decided to go with fusing a bunch of ideas I have had for a long while and build a setting that utilizes Jadepunk's rules, while giving you a whole new world to play in.

First, a story. A while back I saw the movie, Watchmen. I liked it. Specifically I liked the ending, I know I am going to get flack for that but I really think it works. But that is besides the point. what I loved about the movie was the way in which the "heroes" were portrayed. They were one step below superhuman really. I mean, in the comic they were shown as really competent, sure. It was only when I saw the movie that the idea struck. What if people could train themselves to that level. Not a lot of people or anything, but a small number like two hundred people world wide. So I started digging, and holy crap there really are some terrifying people out there. I mean, Houdini sure, but there were all kinds of awesome folks. Like The Mighty Atom, Howard Hill, and Christopher Lee, all these folks I looked into had amazing lives that are crazy. So I got to work. I started working on a way to do supers as I envisioned them, starting in the late twenties(for reasons I will eventually get into) and going through the end of WW II.

The problem I had with the setting was a lack of supers. If I was going to base it off of Watchmen, even tangentially, that means there really can't be superhumans...well there can, but they need to be almost inhuman to work. Enter my love of Aberrant and Progenitor. They had Dr. Manhattan-esque supers, and they had a fair number of them. So into the toolbox they went. Also, aberrant had a backstory that worked with what I was doing with my 1920s, it was nearly a perfect fit.

Alright so that is my old setting I want to revamp, so far so good. How then, do I get TMNT and all that into my setting. Recently I have been replaying Prototype 2, and the idea struck me(ouch), I could use an event like that, I could make that work. I already have people who can do the impossible, and people with knowledge and training at nearly superhuman levels, it would not take much to push one of them a little too far and create something truly...interesting. Enter Jurassic Park. I love that book/movie, love it/them. Anyway, one of the things I love is Ingen and its competitors. I love the world Crichton gives us. A world where technology and innovation have vastly moved faster than the laws could keep up with. the way Ingen was described, it reminds me very much of Umbrella Corp and other companies that do bad kinds of research. I need a company, or maybe a coupe of companies, that do the cutting edge genetic research and are moving so far ahead that there is no way to keep track of it much less legislate it. Also it will alow me to move into the Bourne Legacy type thing too.

So I have now three basic types of character in this. I have the singular individuals the Doctor Manhattan types, and the genetic hybrids. I think I can work with this.

I don't want this to turn into another World of Darkness, we already have two of those and they do a fine job. This can't be based on our world all that much ether, as things rapidly spiral out of control that way. So this is an alternate world where everything is a little more extreme. The darks are darker, but the lights are lighter. There is not a whole lot in between. If people tend toward selfishness, it is closer to Weyland-yutani from Aliens. Corporations are all money grubbing and evil, the government i out to get you(well the bad "rogue" factions are), but the good guys really are good guys, yeah?

So lets come up with names for things and a basic history.

There are some people who are just better than the rest. With seven billion people on the planet, every now and again one will show up and excel at everything. Whether through natural talent, skill, luck, or some combination of all three, these folks stand above the rank and file. They are 1% of 1% of 1%. The best of the best. They are the area where our world began to change. It started in the twenties with masked villains, and rumors of the Crime College. During the twenties and thirties these masked criminals all were under the thumb of The Dutchman, a supposedly ghostly criminal genius. He showed up on the scene in the early twenties and managed to rob some 3 million in money and jewels over a three year period. He gathered up some of the brightest minds of his age and formed the Crime College, an underground lab and crime training facility.

In the thirties the Crime College began to recruit bright young students and training them in the engineering of crime. This led to the masked criminals being better trained and equipped than other criminals and even than the army. Some of their devices were twenty to thirty years in advance of the standard tech levels. During this time the cops couldn't stop the crime wave, and many were afraid of going against the Dutchman and his cronies. Some cops got together and decided to fight fire with fire. They put on masks and walked the night hunting criminals. As time wore on they too gathered up unique devices and skills. The papers loved it. Until the 1936 Summer Olympics, and the advent of the super-human.

The Nazis had discovered a method to alter the genetics and form of a person, allowing for beyond human abilities. They introduced the world to these beings during the summer Olympics of 1936. They could run at nearly sixty miles an hour, jump over thirty feet from a standstill and were able to lift well over a ton. They never told anyone the downside of the project, only one in 50 survived the process(they got it down to one in ten by the end of the war), and there were side effects. a small percentage of them became cannibals, they felt a compulsion to kill and eat the flesh of humans. These cannibals tended to be the more powerful of the hybridized super soldiers. needless to say, this changed the war. small groups of super soldiers could do far more than three times their number. During the war the government gave amnesty and a full pardon to any of the masked vigilantes and villains who wished to fight. Many advanced and strange devices were used against the super soldiers. the war went longer than in our reality, lasting until 1949. The bombs were dropped, first on Berlin and then on Tokyo. It was a horror show.

twenty years later an amateur treasure hunter discovered a Nazi U-boat in the south pacific. in it were many artifacts and plans. Specifically all the Nazi research into genetic modification. He managed to keep his find to himself and founded the first corporation with the goal of creating genetic engineered products. This is Alpha Corp, and today they are in everything. Alpha Corp crops are virus and pest resist and while granting greater nutrition and faster growth times. Alpha Corp cattle are larger with less fat. Alpha Corp is in everything...even you. You see they had started out to unlock the potential in the genes, and as time went on they began to make slight modifications to humanity, making us more resistant to disease and radiation and other harmful environmental effects. All of this went bad during game seven of the 1986 world series. A pathogen was released that awakened something in all of Alpha Corp's altered genes. People began changing, and New York City had to be quarantined. For those effected the pathogen had differing effects. It altered brain chemistry and bodies. Most people became shambling mindless eating machines. Some retained more intellect, but were altered in more subtle ways, becoming something more than human, and something less. They still hungered for the flesh of humans, but they could take that flesh and use it to repair themselves and other stranger effects. These became the first Chimeras, able to alter their own bodies at will through the use of stolen genetic material. Many Parts of New York City are still under quarantine, as every now and again the pathogen will flare up. Needless to say, Alpha Corp is now a dead company, most of the scientists and executives are in prison. However, this event unleashed a flurry of new activity in the fields of genetic engineering. Many new innovations sprang from the horror of that event.

In 1956 in a nuclear testing lab, something happened. An accident in one of the test chambers led to the supposed death of one of the scientists. He came back a weak later, reconstituted himself. He cam back changed. He could now manipulate the fundamental forces of the universe. as the years went on he became more alien and strange, eventually leaving in the early 1980s to, "see the universe and perhaps find myself." he has not been seen since. However, there have been other accidents, and others people have gained a bit of what he had. they too can manipulate the fundamental forces, though not to such a degree as the original. These people have become known as Channels, conduits for a power far beyond our tiny understanding of the cosmos.

Okay, so that is kind of where I am starting with the setting. I will be using the rules in Jadepunk to develop powers and characters for this setting, so please let me know what you think. Specifically let me know if you would like something specific added in, or if you see holes in my setting that need filled or explained.