jameson (ST)

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jameson (ST) last won the day on July 15 2014

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About jameson (ST)

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  1. Story Seed - A New World

    Image Source: http://funkylounge.deviantart.com/art/Paradise-648160280 This is inspired by a recent decision to do a one-shot of After the Bomb RPG on my birthday coming up. It was favorite of mine years ago, and I hope it stands up to a trip down nostalgia lane. Nobody rightly recalls how it all happened. How it started. Some say it was a war for resources that escalated. Some that it was all an accident with an advanced defense system. Others say it was a disease that made mankind mad, and in its madness it lashed out, flailing at itself with weapons of mass destruction. However it began the world was bombarded in nuclear fire and the old world was destroyed. The world died, humanity was reduced from billions to tens of thousands. Maybe it was the radiation. Or a chemical. Or some kind of disease that changed. Regardless, as humankind fell the animals rose. Mutations rapidly changed the wild and domesticated animals of the world. Intelligence. Sentience. Sapience. Hands. Even psychic abilities. As humanity gasped against their death, the animals took their first breaths as the world's new dominant "species." The remaining humans have either embraced the new citizens of the world or banded together against them. In the ruins of the old world both parties eek out survival. The wind swayed the trees and brought a new scent to my nose. I sniffed and then wrinkled my nose at the odor, some kind of synthetic volatile. Motor oil perhaps, or something else. I crept forward and peered out from the hedgerow. A mechanized soldier, one of the Empire's robot suited thugs. I sat back and un-slung my rifle from my back. Not for the first time I cursed my underdeveloped legs. Walking on two legs was beyond me for more than a few steps, unlike some of my friends who were more human in that regard. Still, I shouldn't complain too much, my hands were well developed and I'd retained the superior sense of smell of my forebears. I lifted the rifle, then thought better of it. Instead I grabbed the battered walkie talkie. It's case was held together with old silver tape and the batteries were being held in by a rubber band, but it worked. I clicked it on and quietly called for help from my comrades. I took up my weapon and waited, peering through the simple tube scope on the rifle and waiting for my allies. I didn't have to wait long. A bellowing roar preceded the arrival of Moose. Antlers down he charged the armored soldier, slamming into it with the force of a car. Hot on Moose's heels were Shifty and Fred. Shifty held a submachinegun that was comically large in the mouse's hands but the cleverly assembled recoil brace did its job and he laid down and impressive amount of suppressing fire. Fred was another dog, but his mastiff roots made him huge and he rushed out swinging a crude maul built from an old metal pole with a chuck of concrete still fused to the end. Two other soldiers joined the first but I managed a lucky shot and got one just below the face shield of his helmet, sending the man down in a gurgling tumble. The stream of bullets from Shifty kept the other pinned down long enough for Moose and Fred to beat the first into submission. The third ran, his robotically augmented legs carrying him away quicker than any of us could, or cared to, follow. "They're getting brazen," Shifty said as he reloaded an extra long magazine for his weapon. "This is way closer to home than they usually patrol. Things are getting bad." Fred nodded, "War is coming." View the full article
  2. Monday Story Seed - Marksman Sadly work got the better of me this week and I was unable to prepare my usual schedule. However one more thing of mine was published this week: my adventure "Thirst" for Gods of the Fall was published in issue #8 of the CypherCaster! If you have a Gods of the Fall game running, or plan to start one, this is a great (my opinion) adventure for shortly after your players hit tier 2. Please consider checking it out. If you like the magazine please consider reviewing it on DriveThruRPG, and if you run the adventure please let me know how it went! View the full article
  3. Story Seed - Marksman

    Image Source: http://aituarmanas.deviantart.com/art/Cyborg-Araneae-461010438 My comms bleeped twice; the operation was go. I mentally triggered the full suite sensor helm that was slaved into my biocomp. There was a high pitched whine as the electronics woke up and the external projectors came to life. The night fled like shadow under the noon sun. I flipped through the overlays and dialed in a combination of IR (25% opacity), active UV (20% opacity), passive light amplification (65% opacity), and ultrasonic echolocation (45% opacity). The world looked like a drug trip gone wrong, and the detail was washed out, lost beneath the optics enhancements. I dialed up the computer active framing assist to 85% opacity with a 70% sensitivity. My biocomp processed the incoming data set separately and the redrew the details I'd miss into my active display. I could have read the newspaper lying in the gutter if I'd wanted. I gave my rifle an unconscious heft. My biocomp told me that it came in at 18.87 kilos, and the magazine was fully loaded. One hundred solid steel, polymer coated, 14mm slugs, lined up and eager to fly with the assistance of several dozen high Gauss electromagnets. I activated the smart gun overlay (77% opacity) and knew exactly where the gun was pointed. In this case at the alley below, and the picture in picture pop up on my active display was more than enough to know that there was smashed flat soda bottle at the end of my gun's current trajectory. I shouldered the weapon and took a shooting position before locking my leg joints (100% stiffness) and dialing up the resistance in my lower back (45% stiffness). I'd barely feel the recoil at all. I waited, my reticle hovering over a bit of brick wall. I adjusted the IR overlay (65% opacity) and dialed back the passive light amplification (20% opacity) so I could better see the interior of the cheap hourly coffin bank. Details were lost as my biocomp adjusted for targeting beyond the wall and inside the building (projection accuracy: 73%). Lucky for me the uplink quickly communicated my problem with the field agent inside. His biocomp provided as much data as it could and my active display started to update with projected renders based on what he could see and sense (projection accuracy: 87% and climbing). I waited. View the full article
  4. Last Week Today - January 2 - 8, 2016

    Monday Holiday Wednesday Inspirational - Person of Interest Friday Gods of the Fall - Session Prep - Things Change View the full article
  5. In the last session that characters had a strange adventure in a collapsing aether realm that may well have been a heaven, a heaven for gods unknown during the Fall. Their journey tested them and in then end gave them a bit of nascent power. Will that power grow within them upon their return to the Afterworld, or will the darkness there snuff it out? Our heroes have returned to the world. They are more than they were but have also been scoured by their journey and have sacrificed blood and possessions to return. They now stand in the crater of that fallen object, an aether realm that has finally degraded into nothingness. The first thing that will happen is they will realize they are not alone. Actually the first thing that will happen is they will have to deal with the dawn's light that threatens the life of one of their own... ... and also they will find they are not alone. A large figure, rough in appearance exited the object with them, or perhaps was at the crater site when they exited. This savage seeming ork has a ruddy red glow about her to their eyes. What will they do?Raehcha claims to have had a vision of a fallen star that led her to this place shortly after the impact. Her description of the realm within the object is similar to what the PCs saw but neither she nor they can explain why they did not see each other. Raehcha (level 4, red aura, divine symbol appears as a drop of red liquid, health 18) Raehcha, is a nascent god of health and a possible ally of the group. I'm curious how this will play out as the Gods of the Fall orks & goblins are described as being fairly savage. We'll see how the PCs deal with the situation and if they may an ally and potential pantheon member from of this goddess of the savage races. Of course hours have passed and the sun is rising. With the godstorm that protected the impact site gone the group may make their way out of the crater easily enough. There are still many cyphers to be looted (and in daylight its easier to do so, 10 minutes of searching will yield 2 cyphers with a level 2 perception/searching test. However with daylight have also come more of the curious, including many who would not have made the journey at night. This includes two groups that the PCs are already on somewhat familiar terms with: The Reconciliation and the Adherents. The Adherent preacher from the night before (Jaekob, level 2) is leading a group of the faithful (mostly level 1 to 3) to the impact site as they consider this a holy event and a holy site. They arrived just before dawn and were witness to the godstorm's collapse. When they see the PCs climb out of the crater they will react accordingly. The Reconciliation arrived more recently, with a full Knight in tow. Two of the junior knights the group had humiliated the night before had followed the group here and then reported back after seeing the PCs enter the godstorm. They returned with their senior knight, a sneering, woman named Keetha, to secure the area for the Reconciliation and (they hoped) get some revenge on the PCs. The two groups are on the verge of fisticuffs. Keetha has little patience for the Adherents and outside of the city limits of Somorrah she is not bound by the city's law. She intends this to be a massacre. Though the Adherents outnumber the Reconciliators by 5 to 1 they are not combat trained and many are not armed with more than a dagger or walking stick. If need be one of the Adherents will out themselves as a bibliomancer (possible GM Intrusion during combat if it comes to that), but the odds are by far in favor of Keetha and her men. I'm not planning this beyond the set up. If the PCs can manage a diplomatic solution I'll let it happen, but Keetha does want blood, and 3 of her men want retribution for the humiliation they feel they suffered at the hands of the PCs. Jaekob and his followers don't seek violence but they will not back down from their beliefs which will now include that the PCs (and possibly Raehcha) are (at the least) chosen champions of the old gods. For this session I decided not to plan beyond these two encounters as there is a strong chance that the 2nd will lead to a combat. Keetha is a full level 7 Reconciliator and while she will not fight to the point of death or foolishness, the odds are in favor of PCs being able to route her men and forcing her to retreat (which would allow a recurring villain to be born). If there's time I'll allow the PCs to continue RP with the Adherents and/or return to Somorrah to regroup and refit (e.g. shopping), if not this can happen off screen between this session and the next. View the full article
  6. Inspirational - Person of Interest

    This is a trial of a new column that may become a semi-regular feature. We'll see how it goes. If you want to see more posts like this please comment, if not, do nothing and I'll take the hint. So I stopped paying for (live) TV back in 2015. I was traveling a lot for work at the time and paying for cable when I wouldn't be around much to watch seemed silly. It proved an easy life change and I never went back. I do still pay for Netflix, and I have Amazon Prime, so when I heard that the last season of Person of Interest was on Netflix I decided to finish the series by rewatching it from the get-go. Turns out Person of Interest (POI) is cyberpunk as hell and I hadn't noticed till now. Oh, and by the by, there'll be spoilers within.... A note, while I think POI is cyberpunk I don't think it represents what most gamers picture as cyberpunk because it is decidedly NOT Shadowrun, Cyberpunk 2020, or Interface Zero. Granted it's not your typical trope laden cyberpunk in the way that you might expect. It's its own thing and that's fine. Actually it's great because it makes POI different and, in a way, new. The core premise of the show is different. It's less about big corporations and more about big brother. It's about artificial intelligence, privacy, how technology is changing the way that we live. It's also about power in many forms and almost all of the sub-stories involve power struggles. Characters & Archetypes Harold Finch & Root - Hackers - These character's can navigate the digital world in ways that allow them access to information hidden from most of us, and information is power. Finch is almost pure hacker, whereas Root is more of a "combat hacker" or "practical hacker" but both are very capable in their own ways. John Reese & Sameen Shaw - Combat & Covert Ops Specialists - I'd argue that Reese is the prototype of a Street Samurai, and Shaw is more of an Operative but regardless these characters are highly trained in intelligence gathering, covert surveillance, and combat in all forms. Both are more than capable of taking on multiple assailants when needed, though even they can't be more than one place at a time. Lionel Fusco & Joss Carter - Investigators - These two have the connections to resources that can't be hacked and/or cannot be obtained via less than legal means. It pays to have connections on the honest side of the street. Both Carter and Fusco also know their way around a firearm which helps to provide backup for the specialists or allow the team to spread resources farther. Zoe Morgan - The Face - When the POI regulars need a little extra diplomacy they often call on Zoe for her skills with applying a different form of pressure to people. Zoe allows them the option to blackmail, dirty deal, trade in secrets, and similar. But wait what about cyborgs and the man-machine interface themes? What about the trans-human themes involved with genetic modifications and cybernetic modifications? Well Root is technically a cyborg, though a very minor one, with her cochlear implant granting direct access to the Machine. Decima also toyed with brain interface and control once Samaritan was running and we don't know if they had any level of success. The Machine and Samaritan also tie in some of the post-humanist themes. Finch is afraid of the Machine, especially after the machine's "reboot," and his fears come from his understanding that an intelligence as vastly beyond human as the AIs are could very easily begin to view us in the way we view pets or even insects. POI may not be the chrome and mirror shades Cyberpunk that probably comes to mind most often when people think of the theme, but I believe that it is most certainly a cyberpunk series and in its own way it shows us that cyberpunk need not be limited to that stereotype of post-modern dystopia. View the full article
  7. Monday Holiday Schedule Wednesday 2016 Holiday Interlude #1 - Frostborn Snowmen Friday 2016 Holiday Interlude #2 - Reindeer Have happy holidays folks and I see you in 2017. View the full article
  8. 2016 Holiday Interlude #2 - Reindeer

    Name: Reindeer Level: 3 (TN 9) Health: 12 • Armor: 0 Damage: 3 Movement: Long Modifications: Defense as level 4 due to speed. Combat: Reindeer attack with hooves by kicking, and with antlers by charging as a level 4 creature. One in nine reindeer has a glowing red nose that can fire a beam of energy at level 4 dealing 5 damage. Interaction: Reindeer are smart but still animals and generally can only be interacted with as animals. Use: Reindeer are found throughout the North and especially around the North Pole and Santa's workshop. Reindeer are always friendly to those who share the holiday cheer. A willing reindeer can easily carry even a large humanoid creature, and characters who befriend them are able to count them as staunch allies for transportation. Notes: Reindeer don't fight to the death and will retreat at speed as soon as they are able. Loot: Most reindeer don't drop any loot, but those reindeer with glowing noses may yield a cypher if slain. GM Intrusion: The reindeer was part of a herd and 1d6 more come to its aid, either to help defend it or to lend aid to it or its allies in some other fashion. View the full article
  9. Image Source: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Snowman-342628181 Name: Frostborn Snowman Level: 3 (TN 9) Health: 14 • Armor: 1 Damage: 3 Movement: Short on level ground or ascending, Long if skiing/sledding downhill Modifications: Defense as level 1 against heat & fire attacks & environmental effects. Defense as level against water based attacks, and failed water based attacks heal 1 point of health. Combat: Snowmen attack with their limbs, or a weapon if they have one. A snowman can also form snowballs and attack at up to short range for 2 points of damage. Interaction: Good snowmen can be jolly and helpful especially providing advice how to find good places to ski or sled and locations where hot cocoa can be found. Evil snowmen are seldom willing to parlay and will attack to protect whatever they have been set to protect, or whatever target they can reach if they are wandering. Use: Good snowmen are often found near the lairs of Gingerbread Dragons and/or the North Pole and are happy to help visitors. Evil snowmen are often created by Gingerbread Ninjas to act as guards or to aid them in attacking Santa's elves or Gingerbread Dragons. Notes: The above stats are for frostborn snowmen of human stature. Larger creatures will have higher levels and non-humanoid snowmen will have additional or different capabilities. Loot: Slain snowmen will leave behind a single holiday appropriate cypher (healing/recovery cyphers, flight, and the like) in the form of an article of clothing or piece of their non-snow features. GM Intrusion: The frostborn spends a turn creating another snowman to aid it. View the full article
  10. Holiday Schedule

    Hey folks. Holiday season is here. I'll be going off schedule for the next couple of weeks. I've got a couple of Holiday Interlude posts again this year starting this week. There are those from last year for your themed gaming fun! Holiday Interludes 2014#1 - Gingerbread Dragon #2 - Gingerbread Ninjas 2015 #1 - Octoclaus the Santapus #2 - The Ginger-mech Man #3 - Krampus View the full article
  11. Monday Story Seed - Lost Kingdom Wednesday Nuts & Bolts - Advanced Logistics Friday Gods of the Fall - Here There Be Monsters Starting next week: Holiday schedule including new Holiday Interludes! View the full article
  12. This'll be short(ish) because it's all pure speculation, and when it comes to speculation I prefer to light the fire and walk away. The Afterworld is large-ish; I think I recall somebody estimating it as having the land are of Texas. As settings go it's plenty enough space to roam around and cause trouble, or stop trouble, or get into and out of trouble. It's pretty small though on a world or planetary scale. Let's assume that the world that the Afterworld is part of is Earth size. Texas is about 268,000 square miles area, which is a tiny portion of the 57.5 MILLION square miles of land area for the Earth as a whole. That's 0.47%. So if we assume the world of Gods of the Fall is the same size and land to water ratio as Earth the Afterworld that we have a map for is not even half a percent of the setting. Half a percent! Needless to say there's a LOT of room for additional setting material. I can certainly hope that we'll get more official material, but hoping and getting are two very different things. So, what's a guy to do? Well, the first thing I do is ask the most obvious question: Did the Fall have an effect on the rest of the world? If so, were the gods of the Afterworld the gods of the rest of the world, or did dozens or hundreds of pantheons die during the Fall? Did dozens or hundreds of heavens Fall that day? Are there potentially hundreds of underworlds tossed into chaos? Is the entire world teetering on the brink of darkness and corruption? How many other parts of the world wallow in darkness like the Nightlands? I can't answer these questions for you. I'm not even sure there is value in answering these questions for myself. Let's say I decided, for my game, to say to all of those. What does that mean for my players? Should they feel obligated somehow to contact the gods of the rest of the world? Do they even have the means? Can a single GM and a single game group even tackle a story of such scope that it can encompass an entire planet? Maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe it does. These are things that a GM will need to decide, perhaps with their players, perhaps on their own. I don't know how I'll answer these questions, that'll take some time and consideration. What about you? What does the world beyond the map look like in your game? View the full article
  13. Source: http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0012.html Regardless of what you get out of playing RPGs, how much combat you prefer versus role-play, whether you are into intrigue and romance or the perfectly executed combination of feats to drive your enemies before you and hear the lamentations of their women ... ahem ... regardless of the why you play you probably expect that over the course of a campaign or series your character will develop and grow. That they will gain some form of experience, be it as a game currency to increase traits or give in-play boons or as a simple arbitrary metric toward the next plateau of power or level. Here's the thing though, there's more than one way to skin that proverbial cat (note: we do not condone skinning non-hypothetical cats, ed.) and show the mechanical growth of your characters. When it comes to gaining experience there are two primary ideologies: Experience as Currency and Experience as a Meta-Value. Experience as Currency Plenty of games use this method, with GMs rewarding players with experience points that they can use to buy advancements. In some games this is an entirely meta-activity only. Experience gains and spends are only ever carried out off frame in the world of the character sheet. It's pretty easy to balance the value of experience spends in this way. If an attribute contributes to five skills it should probably cost roughly five times as much experience to increase compared to the cost to increase a skill rank. Similarly "power" stats that grant access to new levels of player powers are probably going to cost more than simply increasing currently available abilities. Other games gift broader importance to experience and add in a mechanical significance where the player can spend experience during play to enhance the character's abilities. Often this comes in the form of a re-roll, or possibly the purchase of an extra die (for dice pool systems), or some other bonus. This comes with a more difficult design challenge; how do you balance long term permanent advancement against short term character boosts? The cost to use experience to re-roll a failed roll, or add to a roll prior to rolling it needs to balance favorably against permanent advancement or the players will simply hoard their experience and forego those short term uses. Likewise it needs to avoid becoming overly favorable compared to advancement, usually this is easy, but it does bear noting. These games tend to use modular character creation, whether that means a point buy system or a "building block" method that alllows choices from certain pre-defined packages, or even mixes of the two where character creation hybridizes the two. This gives the player more freedom but also has greater room for balance to go out the window. Experience as a Meta-value As common as currency based experience is, experience as a meta-value is probably the better known. The granddaddy of RPGs uses this method primarily (I seem to recall some magical crafting requires spending EXP in D&D) and plenty of newer systems do as well. You gain a certain amount of experience, usually determined by the GM, after each session. Once you pass a threshold value you advance in level and gain the associated benefits of that new level. Balancing experience between characters in this game is a matter of understanding how characters accumulate experience and deciding how quickly characters should advance, and if they should do so at the same pace. The benefits are clear, advancement can be balanced directly and advancement is controlled specifically to set level benefits instead of a more customizeable piecemeal advancement. These games tend to use character classes that pre-define many aspects of a character and minimize the player choice to perhaps an ability or two, or a selection of spells, and some may not even offer any customization. This limits the freedom the player has over their character but favors designed in balance. What's it All Mean So what, right? This isn't exactly rocket surgery. If you're familiar with RPGs you've definitely seen at least one of these and very likely both. It bears understanding however. As a player understanding how your game of choice controls character progression can help you make informed choices what whatever level of choice you are given. As GM it bears understanding the way your players' characters will advance and understanding what you may or may not be able to expect from that. The other reason it helps to understand different character advancement systems is so you can find a game that fits your expectations. Perhaps you don't care about detailed customization of your character's abilities and just want something simple and straightforward. Or maybe you desire to be able to tinker and build exactly the character you have a vision for in your mind. These are just as important to some players as how the game plays and even what the game itself it about. Did I miss something? Disagree with me? These are my thoughts but I welcome yours in the comments. View the full article
  14. Story Seed - Lost Kingdom

    Image Source: http://zoriy.deviantart.com/art/Ruins-526838419 "Ten thousand years. That's what the legends say. This city was lost ten thousand years ago shortly after the gods came to power and favored humans over the sleen." "That's ridiculous, the gods didn't favor humans over the sleen, or the taran for that matter." Haaldr scoffed, "They didn't before the Fall, but ten thousand years ago maybe they did. Maybe the sleen didn't worship the gods at first and so they were on the skat list." "Maybe," Uttol said skeptically, "but this place doesn't look like the forest had been growing over it for even a hundred years." Haaldr nodded, "It is strange." The slender man knelt down and inspected a serpent statue. "Perhaps because it was never fully abandoned." "I think that's probably right. Haaldr, umm, we appear to have ..." "Yes? What?" Haaldr replied. "What is it Uttol?" he asked again, vexed. Finally he turned from the statue and drew a sharp breath, Uttol was being held at spear point by half a dozen savage appearing sleen. Their scales were decorated brightly with smears of pigment, and their lithe bodies were clothed in leathers and woven reeds. "Oh my," Haaldr managed before a trio or spears were brought to bear on him. "Well, it would seem my theories were right after all." View the full article
  15. Last Week Today - December 11, 2016

    Monday Story Seed - Source Wednesday Nuts & Bolts - Hacking the Cypher System - Modes of Play Friday Gods of the Fall - Session Prep - Things Fallen & Things Divine View the full article