Camelot Cosmos: The Shores of Akheron

This adventure seed was generated using the adventure generation tables within the Camelot Cosmos GM’s book.

Summary

The characters are hired by The Merchant’s Guild in order to Infiltrate a Group of Necromancers at Arthur’s Grave: Shingle Beach Isles, Shingle Graves but are opposed by Necromancers & Tech Zombies who are working for Necromancer.

Plot

Keltan Surwood, a Necromancer of some repute and no small amount of fear, approached the merchant’s guild with a proposition. He and his followers said they had a way to create workers that would not tire, would not need payment, or food or any other maintenance.

Robots from earlier ages are unreliable, expensive and hard to maintain. Regular workers are expensive and difficult to control, always wanting rights, money, refusing to work and all that sort of thing.

A halfway house between the two seemed like a good idea and Keltan produced an example for them but when they realised, truly, exactly what he was doing they blanched and have sought the assistance of knights errant or mercenaries to deal with Keltan and his followers.

Introduction

The guards stand aside and you are ushered in to the Merchant’s Guild office. Profligate wealth screams from every corner, glittering and baroque.  There is gold worked into patterns on every surface, semiprecious stones, mosaics, rich tapestries.

Guildsman Tharn welcomes you effusively with grand gestures and warming mugs of tea and then brings you in to back room to sit around a table in the light of a glow-lamp and to broach the matter at hand.

“We have had dealings with a Free Man, Keltan Surwood, who presented himself to us as a Mage of good standing. We have discovered, however, that this is not the case. It has emerged that he is a necromancer of no mean power and our dealings with him before you knew this face place us in a position of some delicacy. We should like to retain you to deal with this problem quietly, so as to maintain our honour and integrity and to deal with the threat he poses at the same time. His refuge is upon a small island in the Shingle Beach Isles. Whatever darkness he is working there must be destroyed and the necromancer expunged. We will, of course, pay handsomely for your assistance.”

Tharn doesn’t know a great deal but does know that Keltan has students and that he has a number of unnatural creations at his beck and call. He strongly suggests that infiltration would be the better bet, to remove Keltan’s source of power before tackling him or his creations. Tharn does know Keltan is based off a scrap of an island called Horst’s Spur, next to the fishing island of Tail.

Adventure

If necessary the characters will need to travel to Arthur’s Grave, this can be accomplished in a Merchant Guild ship or via the gates. The ship would be more stealthy and draw less attention, while using the gates may tip their hand (though it is unlikely).

Travelling to the Shingle Isles will need to be by boat. Tail and Horst Spur are not much visited, though one ferryman will happily tell them he’s had plenty of business going too and fro with scholarly gentlemen and crates.

Tail, if investigated, has only a small, abandoned fishing village with some signs of battle (boarded up windows, blood stains) but no people to be found. There are only a few dogs and goats left, the first beginning to prey on the second, rangy and hungry and growing wild.

Horst Spur is a lump of bare rock with the worn-smooth remnants of an old building atop it and the shattered bones of a metal bridge that once stretched to Tail left, only on the Horst Spur side.

The main entrance to the Horst Spur catacomb is in the ruin, a perfectly square set of steps leading down into the dark. An alternative entrance is a pipe, beneath the sea water, that leads into an old chamber filled with seized old machinery.

Keltan, three of his Necromancer students and a score of tech-zombies are in the catacombs which are regularly laid out, a cross shape of corridors and eight rooms (two in each part of the cross with a corridor also around the outside – [+] – like so).

Perhaps five tech-zombies shamble around doing pre-set jobs and do not know to attack unless ordered. The Necromancers light their way with a thin halo of mist light, conjured from their hands. They are not much good in a fight but can use their talents to cause sickness, vomiting, temporary blindness and other debilitating effects at a distance. The same is true of Keltan though he is more powerful. What they can do is waken and order the tech-zombies which can then attack in large numbers.

In the one chamber that is locked are the shattered remnants of a medical droid, a whole bunch of broken stasis pods and one to which Keltan has attached his primitive equipment.

There are also dead bodies, taken from the village.

Keltan is penetrating the stasis pod and extracting nanomachines from the person held within, placed in stasis long ago to await a cure for their brain damage. The nanites keep the body preserved and enable it to accept basic instructions. This was originally so that they could be moved around hospitals or turned in their beds without using up valuable staff time.

Keltan is using them to animate the fresh dead as easily controlled ‘worker zombies’.

Conclusion

Keltan may try to buy his life with more info about the Merchant’s Guild involvement. They knew what they were getting into, they’ve just gotten cold feet. He’ll fight until it’s obvious that he’ll lose, then he’ll surrender and offer just about anything within his power to be left alive.

Mass Effect Part Two: Shields & Geth

Shields

Shields ‘ablate’ when hit by damage and regenerate by one (or more) every turn that they are not hit by anything. Shield value (however much remains) is taken off damage before it is applied to the wound values.

EG: An experimental Geth Hopper 2.0 has been fitted with a shield, this shield has a rating of 20. The Geth is shot with a sidearm for a total of 30 damage. The shield takes 20 and is knocked offline. The remaining 10 damage is applied to the Geth’s wound levels of 28/40/65. The Geth is undamaged. Without the shield it would have taken a light wound.

Geth

The Geth are a race of artificial beings, originally created by the Quarians to be servitors. They became sentient and in the panic to shut them down a war was sparked. A war that the Quarians lost, turning them into interstellar nomads and ceding their worlds to their inheritors. The nature of the Geth and their revolution serves as justification for the ruthless repression of AI across civilised space and the use – instead – of VI, virtual intelligences, advanced expert systems that are not truly intelligent.

The Geth are configured along the same physical lines as their creators. Bipedal – albeit with reverse-knee configuration – with two walking limbs and two grasping limbs. They see via sensors, implanted under their heads, that glow and have been said to resemble ‘flashlights’.

Geth bodies are contained within a hard outer shell and are made from a springy, synthetic muscle tissue. This tissue can be grafted to and integrated with organic tissue allowing for bionic replacement and enhancement limbs for those who lose them in battle. Geth are also filled with a complicated white ‘goo’ that acts as a conductive gel and a coolant that can also – in a limited capacity – ‘heal’ their wounds.

Geth operate on a colletive neural network that makes them more intelligent and more capable the more of them are collected together and reducing their intelligence and capability the less of them are available on the local network. An individual Geth is little more than an animal, but in groups they can reason, analyse and think.

  • An individual Geth reduces its CRE, INF, KNO, PER, PSY and WIL by -2.
  • 1-5 Geth reduces by -1
  • 6-50 Geth suffer no penalty.
  • 51+ Geth gain +1

Geth Characters

Geth characters are individuals, similar to the Legion platform, and contain around ten times as much processing and ten times the programs of standard Geth, making them capable of independent action and thought. They do not get to choose their starting statistics, but may spend skill points as normal.

Their starting statistics are

  • AGI +2, APP +0, BLD +1, CRE +0, FIT +2, INF -2, KNO +1, PER +1, PSY -2, WIL +0
  • Their chassis has an inherent armour of 25

Geth Hoppers

Geth Hoppers are ‘new generation’ Geth, designed by themselves with the addition of Reaper technology. They have microscopic hooks on their hands and feet that let them climb almost any surface and they carry specialist systems for hacking and stealth. Their sensor eye is also a beam weapon and they are capable of leaping huge distances.

  • AGI +3, APP +0, BLD +0, CRE -1, FIT +1, INF -2, KNO +1, PER +1, PSY -2, WIL +0
  • STR +0, HEA +0
  • STA/Armour 13/25/50 (28/40/65)
  • Shield 0
  • UD 6/AD 3
  • Head Laser Accuracy +1, Damage x25, Range 50/100/200/400 ROF 1
  • System Shock 5

Acrobatics 4, Athletics 3, Combat Sense 2, Communications 1, Computer 2, Dodge 3, Electronic Warfare 3, Electronics 1, Hand to Hand 3, Mechanics 1, Notice 2, Security 2, Small Arms 2, Stealth 4

Review: John Carter

I saw John Carter opening day in the UK and I was pleasantly surprised. Given that I’m British and we have a talent for understatement, let me rephrase that in an American-friendly fashion.

This film is goddamn awesome. Go see it right now!

Liberties have been taken with the story – somewhat – but it’s recognisible. The racism and sexism of Burroughs’ writing (a product of its time) has been tempered with some modern sensibility, but by no means has the naive charm of the story been destroyed.

The effects are excellent, the CGI is grounded and is not disruptive or included ‘simply for the sake of it’. The landscapes are gorgeous, the props solid and while, perhaps, it’s a little less colourful in palate than it could have been it doesn’t succumb to the ‘beige = realistic’ mistake of many CGI heavy films.

First the little nitpicky criticisms:

1. Not enough nakey: there was no way Disney was going to go with the original. Tits were out of the question and loose-flapping wang was absolutely never going to happen. It’s a pity we can’t see the ‘real’ vision brought to life but this is as close as it gets and I can deal.

2. 3D: I saw the film in 3D. It had absolutely no reason to be in 3D and while the 3D didn’t ruin the film it did detract from the experience. In many of the wide landscape shots it made the travelling figures/mounts look like little toys and spoiled the sense of scale they were trying to convey. If you can see it in 2D, see it in 2D.

Now the gushing praise:

I haven’t felt like this about a film since, perhaps, the original Star Wars. It was wonderful, truly wonderful. There was nothing cynical about it, nothing knowing or nodding. It didn’t make fun of itself or view itself in a self-deprecating way. It was a great, ‘old fashioned’, adventure film.

I mean, I loved it. I felt like I was ten again. I want to go charging around a playground having pretend swordfights and rescuing princesses (fortunately, as a gamer I can do some of that).

The Tharks were believable and harked back to some of the best illustrations of those there ever have been and while the creatures weren’t always true to the book descriptions they were close enough.

Carter wasn’t a huge, buff, hero, more an everyman of the type you can relate to physically. A break from the book, certainly, but also one that I think is an improvement. Dejah Thoris is, equally, a believable beauty rather than a barbie girl and the ending scenes had a palpable chemistry and a look of convincing adoration in her eyes worth a hundred more explicit love scenes in a hundred other movies.

Martian women have always been fierce in the novels and in another break they introduced her fierceness a lot sooner in the story. Again, I think this improved it though I do think it will upset purists. It was one of the chief things that concerned me going into the film (along with the atrocious marketing) but I left reassured and happy.

I sincerely hope they’re able to follow up with sequels and that they remain this true to the books in the future. The perfect balance between respect and modernisation.

Just, see it in 2D if you can.

Style: 4

Substance: 5

Overall: 4.5

Here’s some Michael Whelan cover art to end with. The original had no panties 🙂 Also here’s a download of a Barsoom compilation, which is public domain in Australia and Canada, but ABSOLUTELY DO NOT DOWNLOAD IF YOU LIVE ELSEWHERE. I certainly didn’t.

I have a new short story out.

Head on over to talesofgrim.wordpress.com to check it out.

 

Traveller OGL: Alienist RELEASED!

A full career path for the Traveller OGL
Many people are fascinated by alien cultures but for some it becomes an obsession and for a few, exceptional people they become a part of the culture that fascinates them. Accepted in a way that most never could be.

Caught between their own people and their obsession, the Alienist is a bridge between disparate cultures separated by light years, psychology and even biology.

Xenophiles are those who are truly in love with the alien and wish to become a part of it. They might be scouts or soldiers who have ‘gone native’ while stationed in alien dominated space or they may simply have become enchanted with the aliens through the image that they have in the media, seeing them as the embodiment of a concept or as something in their own species that has been lost or diminished. In extreme cases a Xenophile may be suffering from a mental illness, believing that they truly are a member of this alien culture that has become trapped in a human body. They seek to soothe their craving for belonging by finding a new home in an alien culture.

Xenoethnologists are scientists who specifically study the cultures of alien species. Rather than the dry, biological facts or a broad study of intelligent beings as a whole, they zero in on an alien culture and study it intensively, living amongst it and learning to translate meaning between that species and their own. The build bridges between different species and cultures that sometimes don’t even share base biology or senses, let alone concepts.

Tourists Tourists are fascinated by alien cultures in a more general sense. They want to experience as many of these cultures and viewpoints as they can, to travel far and wide seeking novel experiences and seeing strange wonders. They wander from port to port, trying to get off the beaten track, away from the well travelled and to lose themselves on alien worlds. Tourists often find themselves in trouble but this adds a frisson of excitement to their travels and and gives those who return to civilisation interesting stories to tell.

Buy download HERE

Ace Slamm on sale elsewhere!

You can now get Ace Slamm: Space Bastard at…

Smashwords

Lulu

Trollspace: Gear

Characters talents and level are worked out as per the normal T&T book but equipment and money work a little differently, given that we’re talking about science fiction here.

A character starts with 3d6x100 Quid (Short for Quid-Pro-Quo) which is a universal standard of electronic currency and is used to assign value to items even if you’re engaging in barter.

A Quid is divided into 100 Cents which are used for small transactions.
Small numbers of physical coins were issued by the old empire in both denominations and these are worth approximately double what the electronic version is worth.

Incompatibility between old electronic systems and the breakdown of galactic civilisation has lead to a plethora of different coinage systems both physical and electronic but the Quid/Cent is still a common term and point of reference.

Gear

Clothing

All costs are for base-quality gear. Good quality gear costs x2, Bespoke x10 and Couture x100

Belt – 2q
Belt, weapon – 5q
Boots (work) – 15q
Boots (dress) – 10q
Boots, knee-high – 20q
Boots, thigh-high – 25q
Cap, workers – 5q
Cape – 20q
Cloak, heavy – 30q
Cloak, hooded – 40q
Cloak, light – 15q
Coat, short – 30q
Coat, long – 75q
Dress, short – 50q
Dress, long – 100q
Halter – 3q
Holster, shoulder – 5q
Jumpsuit/catsuit – 25q
Kilt – 25q
Kilt, utility – 30q
Rags – 1q
Shoes, practical – 5q
Shoes, dress – 10q
Shoes, fancy – 20q
Shirt, long sleeve – 10q
Shirt, short sleeve – 5q
Shirt, T, – 3q
Shorts – 10q
Skirt, short – 10q
Skirt, long – 20q
Trousers – 20q
Underwear, men’s – 5q
Underwear, women’s – 15q
Vest – 3q

Tools

Las-saw – 50q
First Aid Kit , 5 uses – 100q
Grapple Gun – 60q
B&E Kit – 150q
Hack Pad – 500q
Wrist Computer – 200q

Riding Animals

Krank, pack lizard – 400q
Grum, heavy hauler/meat animal – 550q
Gork, two-legged riding bird – 300q
Bork, larger two-legged riding bird – 1200q
Rork, two-legged riding raptor – 3000q
Skash, six-legged felinoid – 4000q

Tack and harness included.

Misc Gear

Backpack – 5q
Trunk – 200q
Lighter – 20q
Torch – 15q
Ammo belt, ten magazine – 25q
Climbing rope, fifty feet – 25q
Water bottle – 5q

Next time… weapons!