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  1. A week ago, New York's human population was a little less than 20 million. That was last week. Now it seems like there are more corpses on the sidewalks than there are stopped cars and taxis in the streets. The only things more numerous are the pigeons and herring gulls swarming in the air, picking a once-in-a-lifetime feast from the bloated flesh of the Big Apple's citizens. Barr Longley sits on the step of a church and cries to himself. He's not homeless anymore. There's homes everywhere; everyone is dead. New York's dead. He's still poor, still ugly. But everyone else is dead. He coughs loudly into the sleeve of his jacket, an Armani tuxedo he's taken from a shop on Main Street. Nobody had stopped him. He'd have liked it if they did. The cough echoes, reverberating off buildings and coming back even more ragged and sick-sounding than before. Still, as sick as Barr is, he knows he's getting better, not worse. And he's a damn sight better than the rest of New York. New York's dead. * * * In another part of the city, Lieutenant Gerald Myers surveys the carnage. His sinuses feel like they are burning. The metal of his semi-automatic's grip is painfully hot against the calloused palm of his right hand. Nothing is moving at all, except the birds. The f!cking scavengers. He opens fire. Gulls and pigeons take to the air like an ocean wave slipping away from the shore. A deafening RAT-A-TAT-A-TAT resounds off the concrete and glass and metal that was Times Square. Nothing happens, really. Myers lifts his black walkie-talkie from his utility belt to his ear. "White?" "Yes, sir?" The response crackles instantly over the line. It sounds loud over the little speaker. "Keep trying to contact the Pentagon, or any other military base across the country. In the meantime, quarantine New York City. Post guards in the tunnels and on bridges, and don't let anybody in or out." He pauses. "Well, just don't let anybody out. Anyone wanting to come in must be a madman, but we needn't stop them." There is silence over the line for a few seconds. A gull squawks and Myers smiled a grim smile. "Sir?" hisses the walkie-talkie. "What about the creature that Jenkins found?" Myers slowly nods. Yes, that would require his attention. "Are any of our survivors any kind of scientific personnel?" "No, sir, not at all. I mean, Perry and I went to college, but this is just..." The line falls silent again. Myers nods to no one again. "You keep that thing from going anywhere, and wait 'til I get back, Private." He takes a long, deep breath through his nose, filling his big lungs slowly. He's gotten used to the smell already. * * * What should I do, Lord? The church's silence is so painful. Sister Jane wonders how many silent churches she has been in over the years. Now, perhaps the whole world is full of them. A sick-sounding cough comes faintly in through the thick doors. Sickness is another thing there's a lot of, now. Sickness and death. No answer seems forthcoming. Sister Jane runs her fingers over the cool metal beneath her pew. * * * Michael Trafton makes his way across the road, weaving through stopped cars and gingerly stepping over corpses rotting in the road. He's not too worried about what's coming. After all, if he survived this plague, chances are there will be others. Enough for a whole new civilization, probably. Maybe even one without all the bullshit the old one had. And in any civilization, there has to be trade. And he has something to trade: a practical knowledge of karate, for one, and of how to teach self-defense to complete novices. He wonders if there'll be any need for that kind of thing in the new world. And he's not bad with cars, either. He wonders how long it will be before the streets are cleared off. He surveys the road up ahead and sees someone moving around. He'll talk to them, once he gets there. Too far away to tell, but it looks like it might be a lady. That would certainly be nice, because for Michael it's been a long time since he had a woman's company, or any kind of company, for that matter. He continues walking through the cars. He can see now that she (he thinks it's a she) is also moving, actually, moving faster than he is, towards him. Michael places his hand on the hot hood of a red Honda next to him. She looks like she's walking quickly, even running. Well, he loves a lady in good shape. He grins and throws a couple of punches in the air, showing off to no one in particular. She's behind a big stopped Mack truck; when she comes around it he'll be able to see her. He turns to head around its front and meet her on the side. "Hey, you!" Michael says, enjoying the sound of his own voice in the warm air. "Man, am I glad to see another human be--" She walks into view. Michael screams. Something is really wrong. The girl's eyes have no pupils or irises; her face is bruised and bleeding; patches of her long, black hair are coming out, especially in the area of a large, messy wound in her temple. Her fingers and nails are black and gangrenous, and her right arm meets her shoulder at an unnatural, painful angle. Michael stops screaming. The girl cocks her head slightly, as though sizing Michael up. Michael loses control. He responds to the terror in the only way he knows how. He throws a punch, pouring his weight in behind it, supporting the blow - strong enough to knock a man's head clean off. The girl's mouth opens. Mouths shouldn't open that wide. He feels her jaws around his fist, her broken teeth digging into his wrist. His blow lands against the back of her throat, but it's not where he thought the blow would land and feels almost ineffectual. He starts screaming again. The girl digs her sharp teeth into his wrist; he knows he's bleeding. He pulls it out in a swift moment of agony; he feels like his hand will never be the same. And for a moment, he makes the mistake of looking at the bleeding circle of cuts on his wrist, and away from her. She lurches forward, and he feels her jaws around his throat. Michael stops screaming. * * * Barr stops crying. He surveys the man before him. His voice cracks when he talks, but steadies itself. "Shit," he says to the beat-up, injured looking being with no eye, "I thought I was the ugliest f!cker still standing in this city." The thing groans loudly at him. Barr uneasily retreats a few steps up. The thing lunges. There's an explosion, like a clap of thunder went off just a few feet from Barr's head. The thing's head explodes, spraying all over the cars and corpses in the street behind it. Barr turns around. A slender black woman wearing a nun's habit and brandishing a big shotgun (with two smoking barrels) is standing in the door to the church. She pats Barr on the back. "On your feet, Mac," says the woman. "We got work to do." * * * [Watch this space.]
  2. Okay! As you can see from this thread , there is a new game in town. Cottus Centimane and I will be collaborating as your Storytellers. This ain't your daddy's USA The game will begin in New York City, the United States of America. A deadly plague has just been unleashed upon the world, and now all but a fraction of a percent of humanity lies dead on the ground. Living corpses are beginning to walk the earth, hungering for the flesh of the living. In the wake of these events, men and women with superhuman abilities and mystical senses have begun to appear. Strange, huge wheels are turning, and humanity may stand in the space between the gears... * * * Watch this space.
  3. I’m going to try and hand out xp to you guys once a month (I haven’t set a particular day yet, but I’m thinking I’ll just try to get it out on the first of every month). You’ll be getting xp for all the usual sorts of things that STs hand out xp for in a PbP game (quality and quantity of posts, amazing results on dice rolls, major plot developments that your character was central in moving forward, good character interaction, etc), but I’m going to be using a different system for handing out the xp than what is normally used. The xp will be divided up into four separate categories: General Experience, Trait Experience, Background Experience, and Inspired Experience. Each of these experience types will be useable for very specific areas of your character sheet (as listed below), with the exception of General Experience, which can be used exactly like normal xp is used in any other game. Experience Types: Trait Experience: is useable for raising/buying Attributes, Abilities, and Specialties for Abilities. Players will likely receive more Trait Experience each month than any of the other categories, though this won’t necessarily be the case all the time. Trait Experience points will be awarded for regular, and noteworthy, use of Attribute and Ability dice pools in a given month. “Noteworthy” does not necessarily mean “successful”; your character could fail in a noteworthy manner as well, and it’ll still count. When you use the experience gained to buy a dot in an Attribute or Ability, I will expect you to spend it on a Trait that was actually put to use recently (though it doesn’t have to be the trait that was used the most, I just don’t want to see someone’s Appearance suddenly going up two dots when they haven’t made a single Appearance-based roll in the past month of IC-time or something). Background Experience: is useable for raising/buying Backgrounds and Background Enhancements. Players will likely receive fewer of these points on average than any of the others, as opportunities to develop, or raise, backgrounds will probably not be very common. This will be awarded on a case by case basis, as appropriate. As an example, especially good interaction between a PC and an NPC might net that PC’s player some Background Experience so that they can buy themselves an Ally or Contact (or maybe even a Nemesis). As with the Trait Experience above, Background Experience should be spent with an eye towards what is appropriate for your character at a given time. Note that you don’t have to spend experience points right when I award them, so while I may have given you 2 BEs for exceptional interaction with an NPC two months ago, if you decide to save your points until you have enough to buy the fourth dot in your Sanctum background instead (and provided there isn’t some IC reason why a fourth dot isn’t really feasible), I won’t stop you. Inspired Experience: is useable for raising Inspiration, Temporary Inspiration, buying Knacks, and raising Willpower. Inspired Experience will be awarded for clever use of knacks, facets, and Inspiration points, as well as for noteworthy uses of the character’s Willpower dice pool/points. This will be one of the more difficult categories to score high in, but I do want you guys to be able to develop your Inspired traits as well as your normal ones, so I’ll keep a careful lookout for opportunities to award Inspired points to each of you. What is, or is not, an appropriate use of Inspired Experience points at any given time will be handled on a case by case basis. In general though, I’m going to give you guys as much freedom as possible when purchasing knacks, raising Inspiration, etc. General Experience: is useable for anything that regular xp can be used for. Players will almost always be awarded at least one point of General Experience point each month, though the exact amount will likely vary each time. General Experience is the most flexible of all the experience types, and can be used to purchase dots in any part of the char sheet. Firstly, you can add General Experience to the experience you’ve saved up in any of the other three categories to purchase things you might not otherwise be able to afford. So if you’ve managed to save up 6 points of Inspired Experience during the last two months, and you’ve also managed to save up another 6 points of General Experience, you can add the two together for a total of 12xp and buy yourself a Level 2 knack. Second, you could use the 6 points of General Experience to purchase dots in a category that you don’t currently have any xp in at all. Or third, you could just keep saving. I will award General Experience points for such things as outstanding posts, and post regularity. I will also award General Experience anytime I think a player deserves experience for something, but can’t decide which of the other categories to put it in. ::wink The reason I’m doing things this way is because, as I’ve stated in the General Forums before, I don’t like the incredibly slow rate at which players generally accrue xp in a normal PbP game. But at the same time, I can understand why STs are leery of just handing out gobs of xp every month or so, because it presents the temptation of buying up lots of high-powered goodies in only a few weeks, or even days, of IC-time. On the other hand, I myself am constantly frustrated by how hard it is to raise base Attributes and Abilities, or Backgrounds for my PCs. When I realize that buying that fourth dot of Perception, and a third dot of Awareness is going to cost me a full 16 xp, it’s just depressing. Especially in an Aberrant setting, where I could buy the first two dots of Mega-Perception for less. I end up sacrificing IC-Realism for Dice Pool efficiency. Not good. So I’ve come up with this new system for handing out xp. Splitting up the xp like this gives players the opportunity to raise all those mundane traits and backgrounds that normally get ignored once play begins. At the same time it avoids the temptation to players (at least, it’d be a temptation to me) of using all those gobs and gobs of xp to raise your Inspiration to 6 and buy up all those level 2 and 3 knacks you couldn’t afford at CharGen, all in the IC-equivalent of two weeks! Obviously, this is a never-before-tried system (so far as I know), so expect me to be feeling things out for the next couple of months or so. If I do decide to make any changes to the above system I will notify all of you immediately, but I’m not really expecting that to happen. My goal in creating this system is to give you guys regular, concrete rewards for the investment you put into your characters and this game. My hope is that being able to see your characters regularly grow and change in small ways, and occasionally in big ways as well, will keep them fresh and interesting in your minds, and greatly increase your overall sense of satisfaction and enjoyment in playing.
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