Thursday, August 8, 2019

Death & Dinosaurs: Introduction

As it is my birthday, I have been thinking about my personal history with roleplaying. I did not start way back in the seventies or early eighties like some. I started in the early nineties and didn't play D&D until I was well into the hobby. In the last few years, I have been looking at the OSR movement. I dig what they are attempting to do with the various games. It seems like they are trying to impart the feel and style of game they first played. I like this whole concept, though I didn't have the same experiences or the same beginnings as many of the designers of OSR games. I do not have the same experiences, but the OSR bug had me. So I have decided to do a bit of micro design here on the blog. I will be making my own personal OSR game, my own Old School. So come with me, back to the early nineties. An age of game design that was strange and fun, filled with cargo cult design and metaplot. It shall be a strange journey, I hope you have as much fun reading(and hopefully playing) it as I did designing it. Let us begin...

The nineties were an odd time for gaming. Design Theory was still kind of vague. This is all from my perspective, but this seems to be the core of gaming at the time. Primarily I recall gamers wanting to find the one system that works for everything, and there was a lot of work to make that happen even with really odd systems. I had a friend who used(and still uses to this day) Marvel FASERIP for every game he runs. EVERY GAME.  I had another who used Rolemaster combined with Paranoia and swore it worked even when it clearly did not. This led to a lot of system bloat in games, where they added systems for all sort of things to games. I am pretty sure there was not a lot of playtesting done. If it was done at all it was alpha testing only, and that led to odd gaps in rules descriptions. Finally, there was a sense that rolling dice was sort of seen as a failure. I recall my playgroups really looking down on combat systems, and mechanics in general. So this sort of led to cargo cult design, games that add more and more systems to an existing system with the knowledge that it was not going to be used. So the systems existed only to add flavor and style to the game. Nineties games were all about style and self-assurance. At least, that is how it felt to me.

Now I am not going to try and recreate it all, but I am going to try and recreate a game that feels in play like the games I played with my friends. It will be silly, as my friends were all pretty silly. It is going to be gonzo because we played games that had all the things we liked in it. It is going to use systems that feel a little janky, but it will be a bit more coherent than some of the games we used to play. It will have Vampires, because the nineties. It will zombies because nineties. It will have cyborgs, because nineties. It will have Dinosaurs...why? BECAUSE NINETIES BABY! YEAH! I am currently calling it...

Death & Dinosaurs

December 31st, 1999 the thirteen archmagi of the earth seek to take over the planet using their magical powers to summon demons and evil spirits to inhabit the bodies of the dead. Technology becomes unreliable and billions of the dead rise and take over much of the world. One cutting edge tech company genetically created dinosaurs in the early seventies as attractions for a theme park. When the world fell these dinosaurs were released into the world. Now 50 years later mankind has tamed these dinosaurs to aid in travel through the cursed wasteland and fight the zombie hordes. Only three remnants of civilization remain, Norad holds much of Missouri River Basin, The Circle protects New Orleans and the Mississipi, and the Sea-Tech Alliance produces incredible technology from the islands of the Puget Sound. Each of these remnants sends out rangers to defend civilization with iron, salt, and the ancient power of the saurians.

Inspirations: Lazarus comic series, Old Man Logan, The Book of Eli, Alita: Battle Angel(and the comic it was based on), Jurassic Park(books and films), Cadillacs and Dinosaurs(Xenozooic Tales), Zombieland, Suicide Squad(Specifically the film, and specifically the witch in it and her plan.), World War Z(the book not the film), The Jon Shannow books, The Stand, I Am Legend(also Omega Man), Dino-Riders

The North American Zones
Manhattan: Magic cannot cross the water, and the city is run by a gang lord, The Duke,  who rose through violence and canny political moves. He maintains order through a quasi-feudal system of control. often raiders head out to steal and scavenge from the surrounding lands.
The East: Vlad II(father of Dracula) rules most of the lands between the Atlantic and the Mississippi River. Many cults rule over the territories, building vast temples for sacrifice to their dark lord. Vampire Queens roam these lands with their packs of lesser vampires, demanding tribute from all within their domain.
The North: Baba Yaga rules Canada down to the great lakes and the Missouri River, very few people remain in the region. She rules over magically uplifted wolves and bears, infused with demonic spirits. her power holds the winter in place, making it always winter and never Christmas.
The West: From the Mississippi River to the west coast ruled by Morgan le Fay. She has granted power to a number her Chosen Knights who rule over various territories and fight each other for her amusement.
The South: Florida, Alabama, and Georgia are controlled by the Serpent King, the area is infested with dragons of all sorts. Sometimes dragons and dinosaurs fight. This is awesome.
The Islands: the islands in the Puget Sound are protected by the waters of the pacific and the last of the big tech companies, who have been working on ways to fight the zombies. Currently, they have developed technologies that are magic resistant, and have found that cybernetics and genetic augmentation can protect the technology from the effects of magic. These augmentations allow soldiers to fight on an even field with the worst of the demons. Aristocratic elite use technology to protect and control the serfs who work within them.
New Orleans: home to the last of the white magicians. and central hub for the river folk. They are ruled by a council headed by someone calling himself Thrice Blessed Hermes.
Norad Defense Zone: Running out a few small bases along or near the Missouri River. They are the primary suppliers of refined metals and dinosaurs. They also are the few

Magick has always existed, though only a few humans have ever been able to use it. For thousands of years The Circle, the powerful ruling council of magicians, held magicians in check, protecting the world from evil magick and demonic forces. Magick can corrupt those who wield it, but the remnants of The Circle use their magic to defend humanity and defeat the minions of The Thirteen.

There are two kinds of magick spells and rituals. Spells are quick and dirty magick that deals with immediate effects. Rituals have lasting effects and take more effort to accomplish. The 13 used a massive ritual to attain immortality and tremendous godlike magical power, they each have a different style and a different focus.

Magick cannot cross running water, or circles of salt. Salt and Iron can disrupt magick, and deal damage to spirits and demons. Dinosaurs predate magick and are largely immune to magick. These ancient beasts represent raw power deep within the collective unconscious, which grants them deep metaphysical power.

Minions of the 13
Zombies - Footsoldiers of armageddon, the lowest and most numerous od demons inhabiting the bodies of the recently dead, almost mindless and shrieking with hunger. The more they eat, the more horror they cause, the faster stronger and smarter they become. eventually becoming a ghoul. tend to attack in wave upon wave.
Vampires - Leaders and spies, they have many powers and are often minor lords of hell in the bodies of the fallen. Appear to be alive, though still dead. Must drink blood to continue to operate. Fears sunlight, and can only be killed in certain ways.
Ghouls - High ranking demons who seek to infiltrate and bring chaos to the societies of man. They are corrupters and ill-meaning advisors. They often come across as wise and knowledgeable but in the end, bring only ruin to those they advise.
Mummies - Even the 13 care for some people, and those they want with them for eternity are mummified and prepared using special rituals so that the soul does not leave the body on death. Mummies are usually quite insane, and vastly powerful.
The Chained - Living humans who have betrayed their people to the dark forces are sometimes put through rigorous loyalty training before having a demon bound into their body. They have a great deal of power and are used to bring down groups that are prepared for the undead.
Wendigo/werewolf/berserker: a demon of hunger bound within the body of a person granting them the powers of beast and man.
Madlings: people who have been driven mad by the collapse of reason. they seek to live in the world by becoming worse than the world.
Sorcerer: those chosen few trained and raised up by the thirteen to rule over small regions of their territory. They have spells, but they are not trained in Magick. If they betray their master they lose their power.

Who do you play
The Range Rider - Have a kinship with nature and animals, they ride dinosaurs to protect the few civilized places. Focus is on the pet, use some ranger rules. Tyrannosaur, Triceratops, Ankylasaur, Utah Raptor, Quetzalcoatlus. They can take action after the character's action. They gain access to more commands and tactics as their master levels up. They draw aggro and do area attacks.
The Chosen One - Before the fall your kind was chosen to defend the earth from demons and monsters. You can sense them, you can fight them, and you have the instinct of a hunter. Can sense demons and demon spawn, does extra damage ith all attacks to demonic forces, highly immune to magic, enhanced physique.
The Faithful - The 13 were only able to do their dark ritual because the world had become secular and depraved. Mankind had turned his face from god and so evil was given domain over the earth. You are one of the few Trained Clergy remaining in the world. This grants you the ability to resist temptation and the mission to help bring light to the darkness. Immune to mental domination, ability to inspire those around them. gain a superhuman ability(healing, purify food and water, inspiration), basically a cleric.
The Egghead - You are the mad scientist. You build things. You harness the power of nature into new and better ideas and understandings. MAD SCIENCE, huge bonuses to science and engineering, however, they pick up derangements to decrease difficulties or time. You can keep magic from affecting your inventions, though if it leaves you for a little while it breaks.
The Mystic - There are still those magicians in the world who do not want to serve the 13. You are one of these White Wizards. You know the temptations of magick, and you fight it every day. For, in the end, your knowledge will help bring down the 13 and save the world. you can cast spells and know magic circles. can become corrupted, use a dark side mechanic...prbably from Star Wars WEG.
The Augmented - You have been enhanced through some sort of super science, you went through Crispr or you are a cyborg or similar changes. You can actually go toe to toe with the demons in hand to hand combat and win. Each level you gain another augment, so long as the tech is covered in the flesh of a human it is immune to the corrupting influence of magic. However, if you gain too many augments you become inhuman enough for demons to gain control of you. Can increase each of the physical attributes to 16(if taken again can increase to eighteen), must take separately for each attribute boost. Increased initiative. Healing increase. sensor abilities.

Norad: the remnants of the North American militaries, centered along the Missouri River. They use non-electronic weapons and seek to return the Democracy and Peace to the remains of the Republic. Each town and base has a governor a representative, they are centered in Great Falls Montana.
The Circle: The last of the white mages, centered in New Orleans and the Mississippi River. They use massive rituals to hold back the tide of dark magic from the lands along the river. The Circle has a hard time dealing with normal folks as they are viewed with great suspicion by the average person.
Sea-tech Alliance: the Seattle technical firms using advanced tech to defeat the menace from the islands in the Puget Sound. There are three major corporations in the alliance. This region has become something like techno feudalism.
Gulf, Lake & River People: they live upon the Missouri and Mississippi rivers as well as the great lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. They roam the rivers to stay safe and trade with the people and towns along the way. They have a reputation as being untrustworthy and of stealing people from communities.

Alright, that is the first part done. I think I have enough in here on the setting is adequate for basic play. Though if you know me, you know that I will be adding more and more as I go forward. Next up I will be introducing the basic rules of the game, attributes, and skills. I hope you like it. Let me know what you think.

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