Monday, August 31, 2015

Gaming Materials: "Microgames"


Haven't done one of these in awhile.  I could go back to In Transit Monsters (I still am working on polishing up part 15), but decided to opt to write on a few games I've tried out in the last few months.  Gaming Materials, Reading Materials- these are my attempts at reviews of things.  I tend to be positive, and I try to offer ideas for how to use them to enhance a tabletop game experience, be it RPG or board game.

Love Letter and Coup are part of this new movement in tabletop stuff: "micro" games that aim to take up tiny space, and tiny time while still scratching that itch.  The first benefit of the move is that they take small amounts of time to play.  It's a matter of economy of time- if you can scratch certain itches before a bigger game, you get more gaming in.

Each of these are recent additions to my library.  They've become useful pre-game appetizers.  Like the microgame movement itself, I'll try to be brief about each.

SUSHI GO!
Sushi Go is a drafting game, most likely you heard of it already- it appeared on Tabletop.  I had already wanted the game before that, though, after I had read its rules.  I should explain that I like Magic: the Gathering, and my favorite format of that TCG is drafting.

Drafting's appeal is in how players can interact by the choices they make.  In MtG, draft removes a good chunk of reliance on card and decklists.  It involves more skill and luck, rather than raw ability to find synergies and guess metagames.  In Sushi Go, I like interacting with other players by choices.    Sushi Go rewards you're ability to see how and be able to guess ahead of other players.

I haven't yet won a game of Sushi Go, yet I want to play it again and again.  For some reason, my inability to guess other players accurately drives me to want to experience it again.

Also on a horror level: the sushi in this game looks somewhat sentient.  They have faces.  And sushi is eaten raw, so... yeah.  You are collecting living, sentient sushi to swallow whole.

AGE OF WAR
Age of War I picked up on a whim.  Normally I don't do that.  I try to spend my board game dollars with research and foresight.  I'm paranoid about being burned about a game I know nothing about.

Age of War's box got me to pick it up.  I purchased it on impulse.

The interesting part is that Age of War is a dice game.  It sort of catches the taste of a war game without the time or work.  The downside to it, though, is that it lacks any real endgame.  It slows down to a snail's pace toward the end, and you can clearly see who is in the lead.  This is something I think could be house ruled around- instead of playing for points at the end, play for a number of castles or some other measure that doesn't drag the game out.

It also came with a set of neat, weird, unique Samurai themed dice.  If I ever get around to L5R or running John Wick's Blood and Honor, I think they might be fun to insert in.

WELCOME TO THE DUNGEON
And here is the bizarre drug of a game I really have enjoyed for my tabletop group.  Welcome to the Dungeon is a game of chicken, where you compete to get someone else to stumble stupidly into a
dungeon unprepared for the monsters within.  It makes you giggle.  Hysterically.

The game goes faster as players drop during their dungeon crawls.  It's entertaining to watch others play.  And for someone who likes tabletop RPGs, Welcome to the Dungeon is easily sold to my players.

Its funny.  Hilariously so.  You will do something brazen, and others will all of sudden throw you into the dungeon to have to deal with it.  You have to be subtle, or at least willing to think before you get too far ahead.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

City of Curses: Classes, The Archaeologist (Fate Core)

For my home #Crux game, I revisited my notes on how each class was founded to add some more mechanical bits for my players to use. As is my usual bad habit, I went a bit overboard I think. Here it is for anyone wanting to see me putter through #FateCore stats for a class of sorts. Any suggestions/critiques welcome, I'm fully aware I might not be doing things 100% cleanly. 

Archaeologist.  
A descendant class from Rogue, Investigator and Bard, first appeared in the last decade and has emerged as a
brand new class of its own.  The first Archaeologist had been a Feyborn Ferret and Rogue, Koa Skysword.  


Originally venturing into the deeps of Crux for potential treasure, Koa had a knack for learning the history from the clues left behind by prior generations.  She balanced the greed for such relics against the knowledge to be obtained; to others of the field, she blazed a trail for them to follow.  But she always bowed to economic interests to continue her work, something that would always stain those who followed her.  Moneyed interests, from the Archwitch to the Banker always presses Archaeologists for their own ends.


Archaeologist balance the need for funds to continue their work and the importance of the knowledge they uncover.  On top of this are the more complicated pressures of the Esoterium Machina, which most times push them to seek out dangerous items.  Or confiscate them.  Others like the Ursyklon restrict access to their own sites, like Gruudl to only Ursyklon Archaeologists.


Permission: To be considered a Archaeologist, one must have a class aspect that reflects it, like Ursyklon Archaeologist, "Archaeology" Major, or Relic Hunting Scoundrel.  


Invocation For Effect (Identify): A Archaeologist Class Aspect can be invoked for effect- i.e., you can spend a fate point to invoke it to do an effect other than just a re-roll or a bonus.  If you can instantly identify the function aspects of a magical object, or you instantly identify the aspect of any ancient location.


Stunts.
Clever Explorer
Permission: Must be a archaeologist or some other class with knowledge of devices.
You can disable intricate and complex devices quickly, even when distracted or endangered.  Whenever you try to disable something with the Clever approach, you never risk setting it off by accident.


Psychometric Archaeology
Permission: Must be an Archaeologist; Must have the Archaeological Insight stunt.
You've learned how to peer into the past through relics.  If you handle a relic, you can use Investigate to peer into the events that surround the relic's past.  You can see how it was made, who owned it, what it was used for, and so forth.  


Archaeological Insight
Permission: Must be an Archaeologist;
Whenever you examine a site or location for clues, you always add 2 shifts on Investigate rolls you succeed on.  These can go toward uncovering more clues, or creating more boosts you can use on a locale.


Archaeology Major
You gain a +2 on any Academia rolls pertaining to Archaeology and History.


Trap Sense
When you enter an area that might have traps, you have a +2 to any Notice roll to spot them.

Friday, August 28, 2015

In Transit Monsters 15 (A Story of the Hecate Project)

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Nasr (H minus One Month 22 Days)

People never name something without meaning the context of the namesake.  That's why no one ever
names something Icarus.  Icarus failed.  To name something after him is to damn something as failure.  That also goes for things like Eurydice or Maenad.

Names have power.  For human psychology.

"Why?!"  Ghale's voice announced her presence before her arrival.

Hecate, Miri, Nicky and I sat at the folding table in the middle of what served as the office for the facility.  My jaw thrummed with a toothache and irritation.  The last week had proved stagnant for the Monsters.  I tried to not let a grumble out as Ghale thundered into the room.  This had been long coming.

I'd hoped that only my tooth would be harassing me.

"Why?"  Ghale demanded.

"MAny woRLDs."  Hecate said.

"Not you.  Miri.  Why?"

Miri didn't look up from the screen she'd been reading.  "Why what?  Are you still obsessed with what happened ten years ago?"

"Obsessed?  You were the one who refused to not respect my choice!"

Nicky winced.  She gave me a forgiving look.  I ignored it.  I'd been waiting to see Ghale confront Miri about this.

Miri glared up at her.  "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Liar.  Dammit Miri, this isn't like when we were kids.  You need to learn to grow up.  I put it together."

"Why do you care?"  Miri shot back at Ghale.  "You don't need to be here anymore.  You can just leave, if you don't like my methods."

"You collected an aborted fetus I buried in the ground, Miri."  Ghale glowered.  "I cried over her for the better part of a year.  I still have dreams about her.  You never got it.  You just thought you got to decide for me."

"You don't throw away a life because you're scared."

"You don't GET TO MAKE THAT CHOICE FOR ME, MIRI!"  Ghale shouted back.

"You don't get to exclude me from that discussion either.  At least I respected Mom's wishes."  Miri said.

"Don't bring the dead in on this, Miri.  Why?  Why did you do it?"

"You don't want a reason, you just want to be mad."  Miri said, her eyes returning to the screen on the table.

"You never understood me, Miri.  It's always your way or never."  Ghale said.  "Tell me why you decided to violate my rights?  To do this to me?"

"Pygmalion has the right to do whatever necessary to-"

Ghale cut Miri off.  "I know what Pygmalion can and can't do.  I help direct the damn program, Miri.  I'm not talking about legal rights.  I mean my personal ones.  The human rights.  Y'know, the part where you feel guilt and shame for doing something wrong?  Or has your chance to play Dr. Frankenstein outweighed everything else?"

Miri stood up from the table.  "I did it because you were irrational then, and still are now.  Because you were too scared to even dream of giving a new life a chance.  So I gave her a chance you never bothered to think of!  You're welcome."

Ghale kicked a nearby chair, slamming it against a wall.  "Miri!"

"You want to know, fine.  Alpha and Bravo failed.  I didn't have anything to lose, and just went for it.  I didn't think Charlie's original genome would've worked for Hecate's redesign.  I never thought she'd... I never could think of a way to explain it to you."

"What?"  Ghale looked at her sister for a moment, her rage subsiding.

"You got your explanation.  Go find someone else to terrorize."  Miri got up.  She took a nearby screen and left.

"I don't understand her.  Why do I have to be cursed with her for a sister?"

"Life is pain, get over it."  I told Ghale.  Then I winced.  This was none of my business.  I never had any siblings.

My last relationship had been such a clusterfuck.  Last thing I should do is try to solve someone else's problems.  None of my business.  It couldn't be helpful.  It didn't help Dom.

"She didn't violate your rights."

"Never mind."  I sighed.  "I've got enough of my own problems-"

"Sorry, I shouldn't snap at you, Major.  Miri just pushes my buttons.  We've never gotten along.  Not once."

Nicky shook her head and left.  Hecate watched her walk out.  Ghale did too, her face burning red with embarrassment and shame.  I just shook my head.

"Time to get back to work."  I told Hecate.  The ghostly hologram just blinked at me.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

City of Curses: Icon: The Blood Barons

Blood Barons
Aspect: Blood Calls To Blood
Quote: "These are ours.  But we aren't savages.  Of course we are willing to make a deal."

The heads of the five vampyre clans in the Blood Quarter; granted their baronies by the Prince centuries ago, they refuse to let progress unseat them from their place of power.  They've been part of the City of Curses for almost twelve-hundred years.  The Blood Barons are certain they'll survive any storm on top.  Unlike the other icons in Crux, the Blood Barons are five powerful persons, sometimes united, sometimes divided.

Common Knowledge
"Don't go down there.  Blood quarter is only for losing your blood.  You understand me?"

Most folk don't know the who's or what's of the vampyres in the Blood Quarter.  Sure, they've heard tales that of Fish-vampyres that use the coves of the Blood Quarter for smuggling.  And certainly there have always been rumors about the monsters that abduct unsorcerous at night.

But with the right wards and words, such things can be driven back.  And the Blood Barons, no matter who they are, are more legend in Crux than actual threats.  Landed gentry in Ith has long been outlawed, to be replaced by the more progressive magocracy that dominates Ith life.

Like the Prince, the Blood Barons are faceless figures.  Unlike the Publisher or even the Spice Khan, they don't directly influence the daily lives of folks.  Most pray to the Twins to protect them.

Conflicts, History and Infighting
When the current Baron Inculti aided his mother in the massacre of the elders of the vampyres-then besieging Crux, he and the other scions of the four vampyre clans swore allegiance to the Prince.  He granted the their baronies, and gave them the area now known as the Blood Quarter to rule.  Even when Othebea had conquered the region around Crux, the vampyres endured: each attempt to excise them by the Church of the Twins and the Eternal Order of the Eagles and the Crows failed.  Or at least, that's how the vampyres tell it.

The five Blood Barons share rule over the Blood Quarter.  Their council meets in the Bloodfire Tower, which was built at the site of where Baron Inculti slaughtered the Elders in the Bloodfire Age.  The building is a massive, gothic edifice that serves a reminder of who survived the fires and who didn't.  Their shared rule is rarely doesn't scathe.

The five clans compete against one another from one issue to the next.  The Medama clashing with the Visconti over discoveries under the University of Crux.  Patrizo and Walridr feuds over rights to particular prey.  Their feuds last decades, orchestrated through pawns and manipulations.  Even the civic-minded Inculti are known to partake of these games of shadows the vampyres play.

Few things can make the five Barons unite.  Should the five of them ever unite, the five barons could take down any of the other Icons and gather more power for themselves in Crux itself.  The Prince has always kept them feuding amongst one another, using their own pettiness to keep them from unbalancing the status quo.  The Blood Barons themselves each try to worm their way throughout Crux, doing what they can to gain more power: artifacts, alliances with other icons, blackmail and whatever else they can claim.

Each Baron has their own veritable horde of Dhampyr and Vampire children.  The children of a baron often do whatever they can to prove themselves.  For Dhampyr, its the chance to become a full vampyre.  For other vampyres, its a vicious competition to make themselves viable heirs for their Baron parentage.  Over the years, a few Barons have been slain.

There is always a chance to move up in the dark.

The Barons
Baron Konner Visconti is a Ursyklon embraced about four hundred years ago; a arithomancer, his specialties are numbers.  He hates animals.  His part of the blood quarter is known for the bloodslaves tasked to find any animal and  to kill them as cruelly as possible.

Baron Hoberto Patrizo became a Patrizo while held captive in south Ocrid seven hundred years ago.  He loves the sea, but loves commanding others more so.  Any child Dhampr or Vampyres of his are expected to be his servants and crew, in whatever capacity he sees fit.  His part of the Blood Quarter tends to be devoid of many bloodslaves- Patrizo has a bad habit of gorging on them.

Baroness Jiddia Walridr looks like a girl barely fifteen years old.  From Ainesia, she led her Clan to Crux fifteen years ago.  Walridr loves extravagance, often treating the dreams and minds of others as her canvas.  Her part of the blood quarter is theaters and music halls, bordelos and bars- her bloodslaves never are fully aware, always half-asleep in some dream or nightmare.

Baron Zyan Inculti is the eldest child of the original Inculti.  His part of the Blood Quarter maintains all the civic elements of the quarter.  It also is closest to exits to the surface in Old Crux.  Inculti keeps no bloodslaves, just folk who pay him rent in the form of boiled blood.

Baroness Izzeranna Medama was embraced at Crux University five hundred years ago.  The process cured her of her deafness, allowing her to hear others.  She is obsessed with the history of the Prince, often forgetting to maintain elements of her part of the Blood Quarter- she cares for information and manipulations, not providing food or water to any starving bloodslaves that harass her.

Allies
The Blood Barons have ever-shifting alliances with the other icons in the city of curses.  This vary from Baron to Baron.  Baron Patrizo deals on good terms with the Spice Khan, as does Baron Visconti, some of the time.  But sometimes Visconti insults the Spice Khan with his demands.  Their mutual interests in trade with Maliph always seem to clash with her as much as it could aid them.  In recent years, the Vampyres have been trying to draw more and more Maliphi vampyres to Crux, to add a new clan to the Blood Quarter, one that might be able to overthrow the Inculti.  Whether or not the Spice Khan sees a profit in that, remains to be unseen.

It is the Prince from which they derive their mandate to rule over the Blood Quarter.  Each Baron claims to have ways to communicate with the Prince, to even ask him for favors.  The Barons still perform tasks for the Prince, claiming to still provide Crux with protection or security from time to time.

All of the Barons share the same warm relationship with the Banker.  Each Baron has wealth from their centuries of life.  They have been clients of the Banker ever since the Bank in Crux first was founded.  Often they and the Banker share goals for various business ventures.  But the Banker rarely commits to anything.  Worse, none of the Barons has ever been able to turn the Banker against one of the others.

Enemies
The Archbishop remains long-term foe of the Blood Barons.  He and the eternal order of the Eagles and the Crows are constant in their attempts to slaughter vampyres.  It has been years since they've succeeded at slaying a vampyre of any significance.  The Blood Barons, though, still strive to find ways to use the Archbishop in their own manipulations, even if it might blow back at them.

The Prince is also a enemy of the Blood Barons.  In that he always works to prevent them from uniting any meaningful way.  The Prince always sends adventurers and others in order to help keep their feuds going.  Sometimes he favors them only to try and frustrate their efforts to garner power at the same time.  He is both their enemy and ally, their eternal foe and jailer.

Monday, August 24, 2015

In Transit Monsters 14 (A Story of the Hecate Project)

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Davyd Samuel Whyte (H minus One Month 22 Days)

I smiled for the Net.  My Daemon had prepared a transcript of what I should say.  It scrolled along as the interview went.

"EpicVentures has expanded the World Ag Fund this year, in the hopes that this years food riots will not be as intense as years previous."  I said.

The woman interviewing me frowned a bit.  Journalists.  A rare breed to see.  Even though EpicVentures owned her company, she had that stereotypical urge to distrust me.  Fine.

She had dark hair.  Moira Hobb.  Genderfluid according to her file.  But these days she leaned more often on her female persona.  Cute.  Charming.  She looked like a survivor.  Dark clothes.  A practiced manner ideal for dealing with the drones flying around her.  A intelligent problem solver.  But not as smart as Rahm.

How I missed her, even though she were one transit away.

"So you admit that under-funding let to riots in the past."  Moira Hobb said.

"Prior members of the board disagreed with my policy to expand welfare."  I smiled into the drone.  "Automation has eliminated most jobs.  And as we've lost access to the vast resources of other worlds, we should try to do what we can help our less fortunate.  Not helping them make ends meet is cruel."

"You plan to expand other charities EpicVentures sponsors then?  Does that clash with your company's opposition to social reforms?"

I shrugged.  "We've recently had changes in our executive structure.  As part of those changes, I've decided to expand our welfare as much as possible.  It seemed like the right thing to do."

Rick had always opposed damaging the end profits.  I disagreed, but never could get him to budge on it.  What was the point of profits when the world was coming to a end?  Most of these people were going to die.  The money wouldn't survive it.  Orpheus wouldn't save the cash.

Money didn't matter so long as I had Rahm with me.

"I see.  Mr. Whyte, what is your take on the recent emergence of Joiner protests?  What do you think of people who want to join the Enemy?"

It took a moment for the words to register with me.  I hadn't expected them.  My Daemon had failed to predict this.  I blinked my eyes with surprise.  My Daemon failed to predict that question.

"Mr. Whyte?  Do you need me to repeat the question?"  Moira Hobb's eyes glittered like a predator.  Great, I had made something Net-worthy of her attention.

"No, I..."  I tried to put the confusion of the failure off to one side of my mind.  I focused on the question.  "I haven't put much thought on traitors."

I winced as the last word came out.

"So you believe anyone who joins the enemy to be a traitor."  Moira said.

"Well- that is what they are.  Humanity is humanity.  Anything alien is... is a betrayal to the species."

My Daemon had failed to predict this.  Why?  It hadn't failed in years.  In fact, I couldn't remember any time it had failed.  Not in my memory.   I relied on it to predict things like this.  I needed that edge.

"Betrayal to the species, even those who don't have a choice?  Or do you mean just those who've used violence in their protests?"

"Violence in their protests...?"  I asked.

"Yes.  In Seattle last week I witnessed people killing their own children as a formal protest.  They used conjured pistols to openly claim human offspring deserve to die rather than live unjoined.  Or so some speculate, anyway."  Moira explained.

"That's obscene."  I said.  "How dare they- I mean, I think its a travesty.  EpicVentures has long been opposed to any sort of slaughter as part of a protest.  We need to preserve the count."

"Will EpicVentures begin to start social welfare to combat such protests?"

"If lunatics are killing their children, and the UN chooses to do nothing about it, then yes.  Yes will we do whatever we can."  I said.

I instructed my Daemon to begin a self-diagnostic.  I wanted to know what that had happened.  Mental lists of tasks started to formulate.  Consequences I needed to check.

#Daemon Diagnostic Running

"Well, thank you for your time, Mr. Whyte."  Moira Hobb offered her hand to me.  I returned the gesture with a smile.

"Thank you Moira!  I'm always glad to speak with SBC."

"And the drone is off."  Moira smiled.  "You can unclinch."

"Life is boring without stumbles."  I replied.

"Is the Pygmalion Program really ready to unveil their soldiers at the end of the month?"  Moira asked.

I raised my hands up defensively.  "I have no influence over them and-"

"Off the record.  I'm personally curious.  I have a... a longterm friend who works for the program."  Moira gave a concerned look.  "We've lost Mars.  People don't think we can make it.  The count keeps dropping.  The enemy will be here within a year, even though we know they could transit over here at anytime."

"We still don't know what the Enemy only transits between stars.  That's part of the mystery we all deal with."  I said.  "Pygmalion has been hard at work for ten years.  Time to give our last chance."

"Last chance."  Moira shook her head.  "We keep saying that.  It doesn't sink it for me.  I can't blame them for killing their kids, even if they want to join the Enemy, y'know?"

I nodded.  "If you have no future, then morality goes out the window."

Diagnostic Ended.  Daemon Error Chance of 0.04% Found.

Error chance?  What did that mean?

Moira nodded.  "Thanks for the interview.  The live stream will be available for replay in four or five minutes."

"Ah.  Good."

Moira Hobb left.

I slid down into a chair.  An error chance of less than half a percent.  Even lower than that.  I thought about contacting Rahm and asking her about that.  My Daemon updated my feed again.  Messages and predictions entered my BrainSys.

Perfectly predicting the rest of my day.  As far as I know, it was perfect.  There still would be an error chance that wasn't zero.

What if what it predicted about Rahm to me had been wrong?  What if she really wasn't working hard at Orpheus?  What if she weren't missing me all the time?  What if she had found love in someone else?

That error chance made me worry.  I thought my Daemon had been the perfect form of foresight.  But it could be wrong.  That interview had a minor mistake.

What else could it have gotten wrong?  Could it have been wrong about Rick?  Or Project Orpheus?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

City of Curses: The Beitsabdh (Fate Core)

Well.  Didn't get done what I had done, but this is a nice short piece I had prepped.  When I get a chance, I'll expand it a bit more.  This is a post at very least, of the #Crux kind.  It continues my idea that the faiths in Crux should all have facets that mirror all nine alignments.  The Beitsabdh are the Petsellers- an order of Witches devoted to Lupa that turn their victims into pets that they sell.  Of course, all proceeds go back to the Church.  Why not?

Beitsabdh: Petsellers of Lupa the Wolf-Mother

Beitsabdh often is mistranslated as petseller in Tomish.  In Ursyklo, it means "Beastwitch."  Beitsabdh enjoy catching people, cursing them and changing them into small animals.

Their order originates in a mandate to "enjoy" nature with an air of nobility.  Those who lack this intrinsic nobility, are rude or otherwise cross a Beitsabdh are often transmuted through cursecraft into an animal small enough it can be caged and sold easily.  Feyborn animals often think the Beitsabdh might be one origin of their kind, from generations of lost children and forgotten souls changed into pets.

Petsellers insist on the importance of embracing even the smallest slice of nature to their customers.  They are generous, always willing to fed stray cats a mouse or two.  They are able and willing to find any sort of animal if commissioned.  Lastly, they always move on.  Their part of the clergy follow the totem of Urnanefiomo or The Trapping One, whose favored form is that of a giant spider.  In that way, they always move, obedient to their totem's belief that all is best done while hunting.

Marquess Arachne
Witches require a patron for most of their spells and other powers.  For the Beitsabdh, they journey into closest parts of the plane of Faerie.  In the reaches closest to Crux, there are fields of webs and spiders.  A fey Marquess keeps her manor in the Thicket of Webs, Arachne.

A massive entity, Arachne often makes deals with potential Witches.  She even purchases en masse the cursed folk the Beitsabdh cannot sell.  Unlike most Fey Nobility, Arachne enjoys news of the outside world.  Crux fascinates her.  She always wants to hear more of it.

But she never dares step inside the boundaries of the city of Curses.  She is quick to admit as to why.  The Prince long ago made a compact with her and a dozen other fey whose realm touch on the city.  Each fears breaking that particular oath.

Beitsabdh Stunts

Witch's Patron.
Permission: Must be a Witch of one kind or another.
The Witch can cast major spells.  Major spells cast this way use Sorcery to create a variety of effects, some fiat, others based in actions.  Any major spell is a spell that would require a dice roll.  Casting major spells cost the Witch a fate point OR inflicts 1 shift of mental stress.

The flavors of spells a Witch can cast must be of two related flavors.  Both of these flavors come from the patron that grants the Witch their magical powers.  


Prepared Spellcasting
Permission: Must be an Arcane Spellcaster Class; Must have Arcane School or the ability to cast major spells.
You keep five spell slots.  For each spell slot, write the Aspect of the spell down.  Whenever you cast a major spell, if one of those spells match one on your prepared list, you gain one of the following based on what kind of action the spell is:

  • Create An Advantage: You gain a free invocation of the spell's aspect; if the spell creates more aspects, you gain a free invocation of each aspect that the spell created.  
  • Overcome: You gain a +2 on your Sorcery roll for the spell.
  • Discover: You gain a free invocation of any aspects discovered, or you gain 1 free detail on top of what you'd get for your roll's result.
  • Attack: Your spell inflicts 2 additional shifts of physical or mental stress, even if it ties with what it is attacking.
  • Defend: Your spell deflects 2 additional shifts of physical or mental stress, even if it ties with what it is defending against.

 If others try to counter that spell, and they've prepared the same spell on their one of their own spell slots, they gain a free hostile invocation of that spell's aspect to counter it (you gain a fate point if others try to counter it).

Baleful Polymorph
Permission: Must have the Witch's Patron stunt; Must be a Beitsabdh
You can cast a major spell to curse another into a small animal.  After you spend a fate point, you must make a Forceful Sorcery roll against their Quick Physique roll.  If you succeed, the target is transmuted into a small animal.  Write this down as an Aspect, it replaces their Culture aspect.

You can spend a fate point to end the Baleful Polymorph at anytime.  Another can attempt to counter it, but it costs a fate point to do so.

Face: Sample Beitsabdh
Dunkan Hogan Frogeater.
A old Ursyklon, Dunkan's dark green robes look like they've seen better days.  He carries dozens of cages with him.  Each cage has a different small, furry animal.  Each meticulously clean.  Despite a kink in his back, the old ursyklon always has a smile on his face.  One of his eyes is red, the other blue.

Always with him is the dark, purple spider Omara.  The size of a cat, Omara rides along on Dunkan's cart.  Intelligent enough to help Dunkan, the spider tends to various cages.  Dunkan always refers to her as "my pretty darling."  Omara seems to love that epithet.

Dunkan travels every day from the Wolf Quarter, through the Grand Bazaar to Palace Hill.  He stops at any gathering human children he sees.  Despite them being his height or taller, Dunkan favors unsorcerous children.  He lets them poke and pet any of his small pet wares.  Often most of his cages are empty by the time he returns home at night.

By the next morning, Dunkan's cages are all refilled.  Whenever Dunkan runs into a trouble child, the next day child cannot be found.  Even when he's been robbed or threatened on the street, would-be thieves will suddenly stop, return the stolen item, and then walk with Dunkan all the way back to the Wolf Quarter at the end of the day.

The cheerful Dunkan always has full cages of small pets to sell the next day.  "Don't mine me back.  Joy in givin' nature to the kids, you see.  Everyone needs a bit more of the Wolf-Mother in them, don't you say?"

Aspect: Withered Old Petseller; Loves Them Kids; Always Has Full Cages The Next Day

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In Transit Monsters 13 (A Story of the Hecate Project)

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Ghale (H minus One Month 22 Days)


A part of me had become paranoid about watching the monsters.  Yet I still watched from one of the
carbon-fiber catwalks.  I didn't need to even be at the facility.

Miri made monsters from my DNA.

Nasr's training had begun in earnest.  My attention wasn't needed.  Miri certainly hadn't needed me around.  I had nothing to contribute to the work of her or her staff.

Yet I still lingered here.

Miri made monsters from my DNA.

The Net hadn't been a distraction.  The latest riots in Seattle had been something new.  They had been growing in numbers.  I didn't understand it.

She had been Morgan more often back when the two of us lived together.  That had been different though.  We loved each other.  Not after.  Not after what we agreed to do.

#IncomingCircle from @M_Hobb

I blinked away the tears that had been forming at the corners of my eyes.  Below me Charlie and the smaller Whiskey floated.  Both were asleep.  Engaged in dreamspace, none of Miri's monsters were awake.  At least they didn't seem to be.

If they were awake, I would've found somewhere else to be.

#IncomingCircle from @M_Hobb

What hadn't she called me earlier?  Why did she wait four days?  Why didn't she respond to my Circles?

My BrainSys pinged again.

#IncomingCircle from @M_Hobb

I activated the Circle app in my BrainSys.  Audio crackled for a moment.  Then I ventured out, certain that neither of us were eager for it.

"Uh... Hey."  I said.

"Ghale.  Its been... almost six years now."

"Ten years since the abortion you mean."

I cringed as I spoke my words.  Maybe they went too far.

"Yeah."  She said.

"I saw the video in Seattle, Morgan.  Everything... it...  Morgan, I didn't get it.  What happened?"  I asked.

"You saw the video.  People with Conjured guns killed their kids as a political statement.  Gunned them down rather than let them die on Earth."

"I saw the video, I meant... the idea of killing their own kids- Morgan, I've never really looked at any of those sorts of politics.  I deal in science and trying to save humanity."

"And rather than be worried about me, you're curious about them?"  I could hear her mouth curl into a sarcastic smile as she said those words.  Of

"I just..."  I spoke a bit more softly to the Circle.  "I just don't get it entirely.  Aren't these the same people who were against aborting fetuses ten years ago?  When did Pro-Lifers go from that to killing their own kids?"

"I... don't know entirely the why.  Just that they almost killed me."  She said.  Her voice definitely had its feminine inflection.

I winced a bit.  Moira then.  Not Morgan.  I had been using the wrong name.

"Moira- I never really understood why you got into that work.  Playing Net vid gal.  Journalism and all that."  I told her.

"I had to call.  But I couldn't."  Moira whispered.  "I tried to.  But I didn't want to ruin your work with my grief.  I still imagine... I mean... Ghale you ever see our kid?  In your imagination, I mean?"

"Um."

"Because I did.  And those kids dying... I can't say its monstrous, because I did that.  We did that.  We killed our own kid."

"That isn't the same thing."  I winced.  Moira had a right to know about what Miri had done.  Just as much as I had.

Miri made monsters from my DNA.

"Same ends.  We just used different means.  Ghale, these people believe that we should either kill ourselves to join up with the Enemy."

"That makes us different.  Even the suicide protests before were at least loyal to humanity."

"Or maybe that was never the point.  I'm not saying its sane, or even reasonable, but those people call themselves 'No One.'  And they weren't pro-lifers, Ghale."

"That isn't what was being reported to me."

"The truth is a bit more insane than that.  Conflicting stories, I guess.  There was a massacre in Missouri that morning too."  Moira said.  "Ghale, I was there in Seattle.  No One is new.  They honestly have been convinced that children are worthless."

"That only makes it sound darker."  I said.

"I guess it makes no sense because it's a cult that worships the Enemy.  Children, age, infirmity, all of that is supposed to 'disappear' when you join."

"No one knows that for certain.  No one has ever even documented much on those who join."

"Hence the name."  Moira said.

"I miss these talks you know."

"Me too.  But we know it can't last."

"Yeah."  I said.  "It never can last anymore, can it?"

"We would've made horrible parents."  Moira lied.  We both would regret that for the rest of our lives.

"You should see what the Pygmalion has cooked up."  I said.  The spontaneity of it threw me off.  What was I doing?

"And what is that?  Images and vids from one of the countless blacksites the UN doesn't admit exist?"  Moira asked.

"The information is out there, if you ask for it."  I said.  "Nothing is classified or censored, unless it could cause harm."

"Like the Hecate Project?"  Moira asked.  "The one your sister runs?  The one allowed to break all the rules?  If no one knows what to ask, how can they ask for it?"

"It's... it's something we might need to consider give PR for."  The honest thought leaked out of me.  We were going to need something about the Hecate Project.  "None of it is censored or classified, you know that.  There's no good reason to cover stuff up."

"Yet groups like No One claim you do."

We weren't like that.  Yet... Miri made monsters from my DNA.

"Moira... I need to tell you something.  Its important and... I don't know if a Circle is the best place to do it."  I said.

"Going whistleblower on me?"

I chuckled a bit.  "No... I just... I..."

I couldn't just show her what Miri had made.  Not without being certain about it.  That Charlie had been created from our aborted fetus's DNA.  A clone I never would've allowed Miri to create.

Screw it.  Miri needed a lesson.  Moira could help me get back at her for this.

"Moira.  It's important.  And it is about the both of us.  And the Pygmalion Program.  You need to know."

"Sure.  I can transit over tonight... I mean..."  Moira's voice trailed off for a bit.

"I thought you didn't want to talk with me about it either."  I said, answering the question that went unsaid.

"Yeah."  Moira said.  "I kinda threw myself into my work.  You know?"

"Anything to avoid thinking about it.  I still have that nightmare."

"Yeah.  Look, Ghale, I... I'll see you tonight then, ok?"

"Yes.  Of course.  You probably have stuff to work on."

"See you Ghale.  Nice to talk with you again."  Moira said.

"See you."

I ended the Circle between Moira and me.  The app made a little ding in my BrainSys as it closed.

#CircleClosed

I stood up from where I had been on the catwalk watching Charlie sleep.  I gazed down at her giant form.  Her head looked too small for her body.  Her body looked massive compared to me.  Her limbs looked thick and too long.

Her black hair had been awful short.  It would never grow to be longer than a handspan.  Dark scales covered Charlie's almost inhuman frame.  The pair of green eyes looked up at me.  Along with the freckles on her cheeks, they reminded me of Moira, back when she choose to be Morgan more often.

Awake.  Charlie looked at me.  Her eyes wide.  The eyes of my child, the gigantic monster-girl.

Panic filled me.  I bolted away from the catwalk.  I didn't need that thought in the roil of my mind.

I needed to talk with Miri.  I just had to get the courage to follow through with it.  Miri made Charlie from my DNA.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

City of Curses: Knights of the Blood (Fate Core)

#Crux entry on the Knights of the Blood.  A personal philosophy of mine is that faiths in settings should be multifaceted.  They should have positive and negative sides to them.  The faith of the Summer Rose is about Birth, Youth and Flame- a religion about the kind of warm fire that protects you from the cold of the wild.  It needed its own dark side, and in a recent story arc in my home game, I needed a different kind of antagonist to get things done.


Here it is, the Knights of the Blood.  Intended to be a kind of Chaotic Evil side to the Summer Rose, they are important in that they think of themselves as performing a necessary evil.  The pain they cause is "needed" from their point of view.

Church of the Summer Rose: The Bloody Knights (Antipaladins)
Knights of the Summer Flame originate the ideal of the Paladin in shining armor. They wear fire on their bodies, and they brave any fear to save the innocent. Like all faiths, however, the Summer Rose has its own dark servants, Knights whose actions are darker than one might consider possible.
Knights of the Blood are Anti-Paladins sworn to the Summer Rose. Where the Summer Flame shines in the sun, Knights of the Blood bring fire to the night. They can use infant's blood to grant renewed youth to anyone, the Blessing of the Summer Rose.

But they can do more with blood taken from the young. Often Knights of the Blood work with children and teenagers. They never kill their charges, but take their blood. Lots of blood. They often use bloodletting to treat their young charges, especially infants against disease.

Their blood magic allows them to perform miracles no one else in the Church of the Summer Rose can replicate. They can perform rites of that allow painless births, end disease, destroy buildings, or even change the weather. Blood is used to create a circle, around which the Knight prays to the Summer Rose to intercede. Their most dire trick, however, is turning blood into a weapon.

Knights of the Blood can turn blood into knives, bullets, even spears. They can ignite the flesh of others, turning them into living candles. This is perhaps the most heretical of what the Knights of the Blood do is use the blood of the young to assassinate enemies of their faith.

Rather than entrust the Church of the Black Rose, Blood Knights stalk prey and kill them. Most Knights of the Blood target known criminals or monsters, using their blood rites to slay enemies. But there are a few who believe the Summer Rose blessed them to spread her fire. They experiment, trying to unlock eternal youth.

These experimental rites kill more than they ever save. Renewed youth is a brief respite; but Blood Knights dream of helping the Summer Rose remake the world into a fiery din of the forever young. Their targets almost always never realize they've been selected to be blessed. A rarer few survive the rite, alive, only for strange things to happen to them.  Some age backwards. Others shrivel into odd horrific looking things or worse things happen to them. Nightmarish horrors.

Midwifery
Despite their darker experiments, most only know of the Blood Knights for their professional associations. Some work with children, operating orphanages or teaching the young. The most common role Knights of the Blood serve is as midwives. They are excellent at the task.

They make use of the Birthing Flame, wherein a holy fire is used to help the birth pass. The Knight anoints and lights a fire around the laboring mother. Instead of harming the flesh, the fire instead takes away pain. Babes emerge, caressed by white flames. Then the flame is extinguished, burning away the remnants of the birth in the process.

In this role, most Knights of the Blood make sure to also bloodlet the newborn as a precaution against disease. The midwives are adept at this, using leeches upon the newborns with skill. After all, they are there to help.

Possible Aspects: Knight of the Blood; Summer Rose Midwife; Sister of the Blood Order
Knights of the Blood Stunts

Blood Rites.
Cost: this stunt costs 2 fate refresh.
Permission: Must have be a Knight of the Blood.
You can use the blood of the young to cast major spells.  The flavor of your spells must be Blood or Youth.  The skill you use to manage these spells is Faith, and each time you cast a spell it inflicts 1 mental stress onto you.

When you cast spells, if you add blood of the young as a component to the spell.  If you do, you also can spend a Fate point to perform a miracle.  Performing a miracle is a form of adding a detail, only that is only limited to being related to aging, blood or health.  It cannot create something from nothing- immortality, eternal youth, or limitless energy.  Such miracles have a easier time destroying rather than creating.

Midwife
You know rites and rituals that help with the childbirth.  You can identify and help with the process.  You give the mother a +2 on any rolls to overcome obstacles during labor.

Blessing of the Sun
You are resistant to the effects of the blood-based magical manipulation of Vampyres.  You get a +2 on Will to defend against such attempts.

Friday, August 14, 2015

In Transit Monsters 12 (A Story of the Hecate Project)

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Charlie (H minus One Month 24 Days)


"See?"  Whiskey held up the icy object to me.  Intricate lines of energy throbbed from within it.  Goetia traced from her fingers into the ice.  Each line carried thousands of nanoscopic bots, each rearranging energy and matter.

Whiskey used them to take water from the facility.  Then she froze it by having them suck out thermal energy.  The energy still crackled from it.

"Ok.  But what is it?"

Whiskey and I both had been experimenting in realspace, at Nasr's prompting.  Whiskey had begun toying with the water in the facility.  I laid back on one of our bunks that hung out of the water.

"Oh."  Whiskey looked down at it.  She smiled to herself.  "Can't you tell?"

"This is payback for all those dreamspaces, isn't it?"

Whiskey giggled.  "Give it a try, ace."

I rolled my eyes.  It'd been hard to focus on things in realspace for me.  At least in dreamspace I could pretend things in real life weren't real.  I could pretend.

But here, where we were in our real bodies, it was harder.  Once in a while I could see Aunt Miri or Ghale Putnam in one of the viewing catwalks.  I still felt guilty looking at Ghale's dreams.  They had scared me.

I didn't know who to talk about it.  Burdening Whiskey with it didn't seem right to me.

I put one of my dark grey fingers on the ice.  Energy stopped flowing through it.  The icy thing cracked and popped.  Four limbs suddenly slid out of the oblong shard.  A small head with a pair of cute ears perked up at me.  It then moved, lightning fast.

I moved back a little from the tiny thing.  It crawled up one of Whiskey's arms, clambered up to the top of her head, and leaped at me.  In midair the frozen ferret twisted and twirled as it flew at me.

"Ah!"  I threw up my arms automatically, to keep it away.

Whiskey laughed at me, her face wide in a grin.

"Get it off!  You- Whiskey!"  I tried to grab the scurrying little thing.

Another dark grey hand reached over.  It plucked up the ice-ferret by the head.  The hand held it up to Foxtrot's face.  The redhead rolled her eyes at it.

"What is this?"  Foxtrot asked.

I closed my lips.  Whiskey moved over to Foxtrot.  "Give it back, you'll break it."

Foxtrot rolled her eyes.  "Why?  You can make another one."

"That's-"  Whiskey narrowed her eyes.  "Go away."

"I thought you wanted me to drop it."  Foxtrot dangled the little struggling goetic construct in her hand.  The meter long thing melted in her grasp.

"Don't you have better things to do?"  I found myself asking her.  I blinked at myself.

Foxtrot tossed the little ferret into the water.  It floated, pieces of coming loose after it splashed.  The redhead gave me a level look.  "Yeah.  I do I guess."

Whiskey rushed to her goetic creation.  She lifted it up gently out of the water.  The ice ferret flopped like a rag doll in her hands.  Goetic lines glowed for a moment as Whiskey fixed it.

@Charlie: @Whiskey She's right.  Just ice.

@Whiskey: @Charlie its mine.  don't take HER side.

@Charlie: @Whiskey Sorry.

I looked away from Whiskey.  I didn't know why Foxtrot liked to pick on us.  But she just did.

"I care about her."  Whiskey let the white-blue goetic ferret go.  It scampered away from her.  In a moment, it had started to climb up a nearby wall, its nose sniffing as it went.  "I made her.  You care about things you make."

"Yeah."  I nodded.  "I understand that."

Whiskey looked up at me.  "I hope so.  You ok?"

"Well..." I shrugged.  "Foxtrot... I don't know why.  Ever since I hit her, I just want to do it again.  I wanted to... beat her tiny head to pulp."

"I want to do that."  Whiskey sat down next to me on my bunk.  "That isn't what's bugging you.  You've been avoiding talking about something."

"I... I don't know what you're talking about."

"Charlie... people notice things.  I know you want to pretend they don't, we do."  Whiskey put a finger to her lips.  She gave me a look of concern.  Even though in realspace, our bodies were misporportioned to our bodies, I could see her concern.  "And people who care about you, people who love you, we notice stuff.  Even Foxtrot notices it."

"Oh."  That I hadn't expected to hear.

"So."  Whiskey put a long, dark grey-scaled arm around me.  In realspace, it was far longer than it should've been.  "You going to talk to me, C?"

"I..."  I tried to think this out.  The memory of Ghale's dream still rattled around in my mind.  Her sitting there, crying over a puddle of blood.  "I looked into someone's dreams with my Oneiros.  It... was so very wrong."

"What?  Aren't you the master of the dreamspace?"

"It wasn't my dreamspace, Whiskey."  I shook my head.

"Does it matter?  Couldn't you change-"  Whiskey's eyes widened.  "Wait.  You went into someone else's dreamspace without permission?  You can do that?"

I waved a hand.  "My Oneiros can hack into that.  Did you see how Nasr used our dreamspaces?  That's what my Oneiros is like.  Your nanosystems can build things and power them.  Mine create connections."

"Isn't there software or things that should block that, though?"

"Hardware.  I hack the hardware, Whiskey.  I... er... sent my nanobots to connect into the heads of a few people.  I made a network, entering their dreams as part of my dreamspace... it... well..."  I let the last word hang in the air.

"It was just a dream."  Whiskey told me.  "I mean, you kinda just barged into someone's dreams-"

"I went into Ghale's mind."

"Ghale?  Miri's sister?  The new woman who argues with her all the time?  Why would you do that?"

I didn't know.  It still bugged me.  I had no idea why I had done it.  "I... It scared me.  It was horrible."

"C?"

I wished I could cry in realspace.  No tear ducts.  We didn't have those.  I think it might have made me feel a bit better.  But telling Whiskey so far had felt like taking in a breath of fresh air.  Time to finish it.  Time to tell her the rest of it.

So I told her.

"That's..."  Whiskey shook her head.  The image still hung in my mind after I had described it to her out loud.

"She just kept looking down at this dead baby."  I shook my head.  "I didn't want to know that.  She felt so guilty for doing something horrible to it."

Whiskey shivered.  "Have you talked to her about it?"

"Um..."  That idea hadn't occurred to me at all.  "I invaded her mind, C.  I don't think they'd like to learn I could do that."

"Miri would protect you."  Whiskey's ice ferret had crawled into her lap.  It dropped the ceiling.  It blinked icy-white eyes up at her.  "She created you.  She would do that."

I studied the little ferret made of ice.  "Maybe.  Maybe not."

"C, you can be the bravest person I know.  Sometimes though, you are the most scared monster I've ever seen."  Whiskey played with the ice ferret.  The goetic critter made chittering noises.  "You'll make a world of dreams, but be scared of what's real."

"Dreams are easy.  Realspace is ugly and..."  I tried to think of a good excuse.  Something to get Whiskey to drop it.

"And you are braver than me.  You just gotta let the crazy angry part of you to do the talking is all."  Whiskey's warm smile reassured me.  "Do it in a dream or something you can control.  At least then she won't think it happened for real."

"I'll think about it..."  I started to go over the idea in my head.  Thoughts on what words to say came to mind.

Maybe if I said the right thing in the right way.  Maybe brave, honest truth would work.  Maybe Ghale would scream in fear of the ugly thing invading her thoughts.

"'Don't think, do.'" Whiskey intoned.

"Yeah, quoting Nasr is a great way to encourage me."

Whiskey wrapped me in her arms in a hug.  The meter-long ice-ferret chattered.  In a moment it had ascended up to the top of my head.  I felt it curl up into a pile.

"I think I'll name her Kyra, after that girl in the Dark Crystal."  Whiskey said, her eyes glittering.  "What do you think?"

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

In Transit Monsters 11 (A Story of the Hecate Project)

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Moira/Morgan Hobb (H minus One Month 26 Days)

#InTransit Morgan Hobb


Stupid machine never could keep my name straight.  Then again, I shouldn't let a bare bones computer interface bug me.  It wasn't been offensive on purpose, it just always seemed unable to know which I had become for the day.

"And I've been Moira more often than Morgan the last three years anyway."  I told myself.  "You're just frustrated that the stupid machine keeps misunderstanding and using the old ID."

@Ozzi_SBC: @M_Hobb, you on location then?

I rolled my eyes.  @M_Hobb: You just saw me leave.  Five seconds ago.

@Ozzi_SBC: Sorry.  I know, its the anniversary.  You sure you are good to work?

I should've listened to Ozzi and just left.  But she'd voiced the thoughts going through my head.  The last eight years I've taken this day off.  I had to try to break the cycle.  To make it go away.

It'd been ten years since Ghale and I had made that decision.  You'd think I would've learned to
let it go by now.  Even though we still were married, we'd spent the better of the last five years apart.  We can't stand looking at one another.  We remember killing our baby each time.

Some people think that's an easy choice.  That one doesn't blink at an abortion.  We did.  We
dragged out feet getting to a decision.  We couldn't allow someone to live only to die.  Or worse.

There was always so much more worse.

The word abortion is cold and clinical.  Makes it easier to hate that word because it sounds uncaring.  Wrong.  Like some sort of mechanical process, like osmosis or even the word conception.

Call it what it really is.  The removal of potential life.  We didn't like doing it.

No one likes to lie to themselves either.  But most of us left here do that.

@M_Hobb: @Ozzi_SBC I'll be fine.  

Stoic regrets don't really matter now.  Kid never got a chance to even be born.  Time to live my lie for myself.

@Ozzi_SBC: Everyone has regrets and hang ups.  You two made the right choice.

Our kid would've been ten.  Crap.  I resisted the tears trying to climb out of my eyes.  I needed to work.  I needed something else to think about.

@M_Hobb: Old News.  Drones on site?

@Ozzi_SBC: You sure you don't want to talk?

I gritted my teeth.  @M_Hobb: :|

@Ozzi_SBC: sigh.  fine.  Drones online.  Seattle feed will be streaming you once you 
give the go.

@M_Hobb: Good.

Work.  Good.  Time to slip into the net-perfect image of a reporter.  Time to find some of way to
exorcise the image of a little kid that was in my head.  The echoing dream of a child.  A child who
we never wanted to see the world.

You don't give your kids a delayed death sentence.  Not when your species is on the way to its
extinction.  It had been a harsh choice.  But on days like today, you still felt it tugging on your heart.

@M_Hobb: #ActivateDrones.  


My BrainSys flashed my QR code over the net to the Drones.  It took a minute.  Then my BrainSys
connected directly to the Drones' feed, a little window appeared in my vision of myself standing
outside the Space Needle at Seattle's self-named Seattle Center.

Drones On.  #Stream?

I gave my internal neural cyber-interface the ok.  I didn't know how people survived before these
things.  People used to have to access a device, like a tiny phone or wristwatch.  Yikes.  Signals
and power issues.  I'd go crazy if my little box lost its power when I was in the middle of doing
work.

Tech is amazing.  The BrainSys alone is a miracle.  The kind that I can't help but love.

Focusing on the tech kept the imagined image of my kid-that-never-would-be at bay.  Yay workaholic attitude.  Fight back that healthy confrontation of emotions.

#Streaming M_Hobb.

I gave my best Net-quality smile.  No one on the net knows the difference from a real or fake one.

We could use some virtual avatar instead, but alas, that would require a high-level artificial
intelligence.  Not allowed to have one of those, at least we weren't.

I knew there were UN classified projects toying with such AIs.  I had always avoided that sort of
work.  Not out of fear.  Ghale worked on a program that dealt with that.  Conflict of interest if I
got involved.

"Moira Hobb here."  I smiled, my black, curly hair matching the nice black blouse I wore.  Stylish
and perfect for the Net.  Made me look casual twenty-something, not the tired thirty-or-such I
really was.

"I'm at Seattle, where I'm going to talk with people on the street about-"

There was a shout from the Seattle Center.  A crowd had started to propagate, growing larger and
larger as I moved toward.  Hovering camera drones watched me and the crowd intently.  They were the size of bats, each darting quickly like hummingbirds with roters and cameras strapped to them.

"About the protests."  I finished my sentence with a wince.  Angry faces glared at me.

I moved toward mob of white signs and holos.  Some read "We Should We Die?" and "We Killed The Earth!  Why Not Us Next?"  Little children clung to their parents.  Tense emotions clung to the
air.  Someone cried off in the distance.

I walked up to the first protester.  I used my best Net smile.  A bit of a pose to try to get on
their best side.  He stood at equal height with me, which meant we both hit the six feet.  The
lanky man's eyes were bloodshot.  His shirt was brown stained camouflage, and he didn't carry a sign.

Instead, a holo of a human hugging one of the alien in caricature played out in the air above him.

He looked at me.  It took him a moment to register, that yes, I indeed was a woman the same height
as him.

"Sir, Moira Hobb with SBC-"

"We join them or we die!"  He almost sprayed me with spittle.  "Big corporate greed is too fixed on
killing this planet to embrace our only chance of redemption!  Their enemy is our salvation!"

"Right."  I didn't let frustration enter my voice.  I tried to let his rudeness slide off me.

"Sir, are you okay with surrendering to that slime?"

He fixed his gaze on me.  "Humanity shouldn't die for greed."

"Even if no one knows what happens to those who are affected by the enemy's, er, slime?"  I hated
that no one had a better term for that.  Something that really explained what it meant to embrace
that slime, to join with the Enemy.

"Death.  We get death chosen for us."  He intoned.  "We don't want to die because they chose death
for us!"

"What about your individuality?  What if joining the Enemy kills what makes you, you, in the process?"

"Between the corporate brands, the transit created infections, the ecological disasters, what
individuality?"  He shook his head.  "No one here!  No one here!"

The crowd joined him in that chant.  "No one here.  No one here.  No one here."

I paused, letting the drones capture that.  That got their message down.  I didn't agree with the
idea of surrendering.  But these people deserved a bit of attention.  Maybe that would keep things
from escalating like they'd had in Tokyo and Bombay.

Then, through one of the drone's vid feed I saw a muzzle flash.  Police were forming a line on one
side of the crowd, out of my direct view.  The muzzle flash had come from the crowd.  Then more
came.  And more.

Little children had been lined up between the police and the crowd.  Angry men and women pointed
handguns and fired at them.  None of them had to be any older than three or four years old.  Then
each parent pointed their firearm at themselves.  They fired, slumping into a pile mirroring their dead kids.

The police had tried to stop it.  But the shock of it, the shock of seeing someone kill unarmed
children.  I stumbled backward.  Police rushed the crowd.

"What-"  I tried to keep it down, but I couldn't.  My stomach knotted up.

@M_Hobb: @Ozzi_SBC Get me out of here.  ASAP.

I cut the stream feeds off.  I tried to get clear of the riot in progress.  My body lurched.
Vomit expelled from me as I crawled away from it.

Guns.  Twenty years after banning them in the continental US, and they still kept reappearing.

Someone had a stash of illegal guns and these folks used them to murder a bunch of kids.  As a
demonstration.

Some kept screaming as tear gas flooded the Seattle Center.  "No One Here!"

I crawled.  Tears and vomit covered the front of me.  At some point I must have crawled all over
broken glass, my left arm and leg gushed out blood.

#InTransit @M_Hobb



Monday, August 10, 2015

City of Curses: The Perfectors (Fate Core)

#Crux post tonight.  The Perfectors, a weird sect of Android and Human body splicers.  Recently they popped up in my campaign, figured they'd make for a quick bit of Crux for Monday's post.  

I plan to do some more this week, but this got rushed en lieu of my vacation this week.  Should do some more soon.  In the mean time, enjoy!

The Perfectors

"Flesh and iron, machine and humanity, android and organics.  We are presented with two paths by the mother, but instead believe we can forge a new one.  We can join together clockwork and viscera, to find perfection."
-On the Perfection of Form; 

The Tinkerer's followers are diverse.  Androids and many others obtain a sort of obsession in her wake, eager to boundaries.  For the sect known as the Perfectors, the Tinkerer opened a chance at new path, one between artificial and biological life.  The Perfectors combine human and android parts to find a more 'perfect form.'

They are odd, even for those who study at the Tinkerer's workshop.  Each Perfector might be human or an android.  For humans, it might mean the return of a lost limb or an enhancement beyond what they possessed before.  For Androids, human flesh is startling fascinating.  Because Android's are created with some human blood in their composition, human flesh can survive and live on their bodies with little magical adjustment.

Tactile sensation has long proven to be something Androids spend hours playing with one they experience it for the first time.  Touch, even the lightest, seems addictive to them.  Facial skin grafts aren't uncommon among Android Perfectors.  When asked on its advantages, more Perfectors become evangelical on the advantages of grafting.

Perfectors study anatomy, mechanics and how to connect android parts to human flesh.  And vice versa.  Their appearances can be disturbing to those unused to them.  The obsession to combine humans and androids means they seek non-perfectors to experiment on.  Sometimes this works out with problems; other times the Perfectors go a bit too far.  The Tinkerer has often reined them in, especially in cases of attempted kidnapping.

Being a Perfector tends to appeal to those with an addiction to surgery.  Class-wise, it appeals to most.  Alchemists and other magical classes tend to be master surgeons, learning how to remove flesh and preserve it alive long enough for transplantation.  The Perfectors have been known to hire graverobbers if they cannot find ready volunteer donors for their organic transplants.

Experimental Work
A few perfectors specialize in obscure or unique grafts and transplants.  Gargoyle wings, Gnoll intestines, Golem torsos, etc.  They tend to veer the most astray, especially Androids that graft monstrous flesh to themselves.  Hormones from a dozen sources drive their matrices insane, and these Androids drift in Crux's undercity, looking for newer monsters to find grafts.  To find new sensations to satisfy their monstrous lusts.

Perfector Faces

Raf and Half are often paired together, with each other having installed and transplanted parts for the other.  Both are found in Poorfellows, but they can also be seen at the Skullmount, despite the Tinkerer's reservations, to obtain any available corpses for their use.

Raf
An Android with a collection of human parts.  Her left arm, face and right leg are human flesh.  She wears loose clothing, dirty from work, but open enough she could show off her living components.  Raf is addicted to human sensations of touch, her living lips often touching on a bit of everything.

Raf loves to measure and study anatomy.  Very tactile, she tends to forget about minding other people's space.  Ever.
Aspect: Inappropriate Touching!

Half
A human with a collection of android parts.  His right arm and left eye are clockwork, while bits and pieces of his body has other clockwork embedded in it.  Balding, Half's components were voluntary.  Where Raf is addicted to touch, Half is obsessed with logistics.

Half is quick to evangelize, even calling the Tinkerer, "Mother" in the same manner that Androids do.  He holds her in holy regard, almost converted to her cult like Androids might be.
Aspect: Just Like Mother Has Showed Us!

Friday, August 7, 2015

City of Curses: The Blood Quarter, In-Depth (Fate Core)

A post of #Crux.  City of Curses, here is the Blood Quarter in depth.  Home of the vampyres, it has long been the dark hole they hide in.  The Clans rule here, like kings and queens of their own caverns.  

It became theirs during the Bloodfire Age, and ever since has been a part of the City of Curses.  Where lycanthropes earned the Prince's ire, the vampyres became loyal, for a price the city still pays for.  

Aspect: Home of Old Blood and Old Money
Connected To: Havershill (Above), Old Crux (Above), Sleeping Straits (Above), The Catacombs (To the West), Gruudl (To the South), Tinkertown (to the East)
Most Significant Icon: The Blood Barons
Well Known For? Vampyres, Undercity Access, Black Markets
Notable Sites and Locales: The Hall of Butterflies, The Blood Market, The Visconti Arcade, Bloodfire Tower, The Empty Throne Pub, Inculti's Obelisk

It is hard to see in the Blood Quarter, but one first smells it.  Copper tinges the air, the taste of blood.  In the dark, that smell is the first sign one has walked into a different place.

The caverns of the Blood Quarter stretch underneath the Sleeping Straits.  They are a long line of caves, tunnels and vast chambers, long ago created by lava and magic.  The darkness, too, permeates the Blood Quarter as well as the smell.  The dark shadows blanket everything.  There are torches here and there, but they are far apart.  

The stairs and corners make the living trip.  Vampyres lurk all over down here.  Even magic, wards blanket the Blood Quarter, snuffing lights or dimming them.  They've made it into a dark bolt hole, a place they dominate, protected.

But even in the Blood Quarter, one can find sites to see.  One can find places that overlook the caverns.  The blood red granite of Inculti's Obelisk can be seen gleaming in the dark.  The glowing white of the Hall of Butterflies.  The gothic, complex grotesques of the Bloodfire Tower.  The many candles of the unsorcerous of the Blood Quarter, long since charmed and enchanted to serve the clans down here.

Sometimes, in the darkest shadows, the Blood Quarter looks like gazing at the night sky.

History


The Blood Quarter hasn't always belonged to the Vampyres.  Before the Bloodfire Age, it belonged to the Forgotten.  The Forgotten were the misshapened and deformed of Crux.  Descendants of Ursyklon, Human, Tiefling and more, the Tomasi Empire had long persecuted and tortured them.  The Forgotten had escaped into the vast large caverns of the Blood Quarter, using trapdoors and secret coves to transverse to the surface as they needed to.

For centuries they existed in the Blood Quarter, worshipping their own version of the Summer Rose.  The Age of Bloodfire drove them out.

The Bloodfire Age saw the Darkness return to Orphos.  With the Tomasi Empire fallen, cities throughout the Maru Sea fell to the control of Dragons, Lycanthropes and Vampyres.  Where Ainesia dealt with the rise of Dragon Lords, Lycanthropes and Vampyres worked together throughout what later would be Ith to form their own petty kingdoms and princedoms.  Four Vampyre clans sought to take control of Crux from its Prince.

The elders of the Clan worked with lycanthropic warlords to beseiged Crux.  Infecting Crux's own City Watch with Lycanthropy, Vampyres used blood magic to break past Harun's Gate.  The Prince repelled them, decreeing all Lycanthropes that day forward to always die within his city.  The Prince caged them in silver, so that his enemies would forever remember, no lycanthrope would be allowed to do such to Crux ever again.

Baroness Inculti proved herself to be a traitor within the midst of the Vampyres.  Although she'd helped bring their four clans into alliance, Inculti led the Vampyric host into the Blood Quarter.  They took Forgotten, using them as part of a plot to enter Crux secretly from underneath.  That plan never materialized when Baroness Inculti incinerated the Elders of the Four Clans at the Burning Banquet.  She slew herself, her fire taking away the most aged, most powerful of the vampyre clans in one blow.  Her scion would kneel to the Prince.

For their new loyalty against the Lycanthrope Warlords south of Crux, the Prince granted them the Blood Quarter.  They became Barons, swearing fealty to the Prince.  They fought for Crux.

Even centuries later, this loyalty has kept the Blood Quarter unmolested by the Prince or his City Watch.  Although it also might because of their corrupt nature, no force has even succeeded at trying to drive the Vampyres out.  Not even the Inculti could manage to unroot them once they sunk into the Blood Quarter.  Even the Forgotten driven out by the Vampyres couldn't win back their old home.

The Blood Quarter became a center for the wealthy in Crux.  The Patrizo turned the Blood Quarter into a trade post for their piracy, creating black markets.  The Visconti created banks and used Patrizo stolen gold to help grow Crux into the dominant free port of the Maru Sea.  The Medama pursued their studies, learning knowledge that allowed them to lay down the many wards and defenses that secures the Blood Quarter against outsiders.

It has endured as such ever since.  When the Walridr vampyre clan arrived from Ainesia, they joined the other four clans to form a five-pointed star within the Blood Quarter.  Othebea's Crusades failed to drive them out.  The Ithic Revolution failed to drive out the Vampyres- instead, the Sorcerous Republic gave them rights as Citizens.  If anything, Vampyres look at a future filled with possiblities, chances for alchemy, science and magic to provide them with means to bypass their own curses for chances at true immortality.


The Tomasi, Rosac, Jarn and other humans within the Blood Quarter rarely, if ever have seen the sun.  They outnumber the vampyres and even their dhampyr children.  For every vampyre, there are over two dozen unsorcerous that live in the Blood Quarter.  

Pale-skinned, these unsorcerous each are bloodslaves to their respective Vampyre Clans.  Even the Inculti maintain thralls of this kind, even though theirs are granted free rein and protection as if they were full citizens.  There are so many, so many bound by the blood magic of the vampyres.

This blood magic binds their loyalty.  Some have been addicted to it for generations.  These generations-long bloodthralls often are treated more like animals, branded and collared.  Most think nothing of the surface.  Even those, such as the Publisher, find it hard to bend them, to make them embrace the fervor of the Revolution.  But there are a few strong souls among the unsorcerous of the Blood Quarter, working in little ways to do something.


Locales
The Hall of Butterflies: Once an marble temple to the Summer Rose, the Walridr clan took control of the structure when they moved to Crux during the Revolution in Ainesia.  They converted it into a place of amusements, where their dream magicks could create whatever they wanted.  Many establishments are housed within the Hall, each controlled by a particular Walridr Vampyre and their particular tastes.  It is one of the most vibrant, visible sites to see in the shadows of the Blood Quarter.  Even those from the surface come down to partake in the amusements.  The Walridrs always invite visitors to the Hall.  Sometimes they even add them permanently to their entertainments.

Incult's Obelisk: At the site of the Burning Banquet, Baron Inculti erected a monument.  The blood-red massive stone obelisk towers over most of the Blood Quarter, a gleaming red slash that can always be seen in the distance.  Crafted with raw fire magic, most Inculti feel drawn to the obelisk.  Glyphs cover it, each the name of a Inculti Vampyre remembered for the price they paid to better the world.  It also marks the center of the Inculti part of the Blood Quarter, their own turf.

Bloodfire Tower: Headquarters of the Blood Barons, the Bloodfire Tower is a gothic edifice that stretches from the cavern floor clear to its ceiling.  Carvings, statues and grotesques of the five vampyre clans cover it.  Traditionally the home of Baron Inculti, it also is where the five Blood Barons meet to discuss matters.  Here they conduct bludtrials, negotiate deals with other icons and perform ceremonies the clans observe from time to time.  The symbolic heart of their power in the Blood Quarter.

The Vampyre Clans
Each Vampyre clan controls their own part of the Blood Quarter.  These are their Baronies, their part of the City of Curses.  In accordance, tradition has granted them the right to enforce laws as they see fit.  For the authorities of Ith, this has been a remaining problem, a logistical nightmare to sort out.  For the Prince, it means each Clan has their own City Watch, their own precincts loyal to them alone.

The archaic nature of the Blood Quarter means that centuries old laws and decrees remain enforced.  Inertia prevents any meaningful change.  And the City Watch that clans command are servants to their blood magic.  This blood magic binds them.

Worse, monster hunters and would-be vampyre slayers are as often enslaved.  Most don't survive entering the Blood Quarter.  Magic keeps them at bay.  Blood reprograms their minds, making them unable to even attempt slaying their targets.  The clans do hire and send agents against one another, though.  Sometimes a slayer who manages to kill a vampyre, has been hired and helped by a another vampyre.  Such manipulations are expected, all part of the bloody duels vampyres enact against one another.