Thursday, 15 June 2017

Metal Dragons

Inspired by a Scrap Princess G+ post about how forgettable the metallic dragons are. There's now one dragon for each of the alchemical metals, with a personality based on the associated planet.

Suryamandra, the Golden Wyrm. Rightful empress of all creation. Threw the gods off their sacred mountain at the world's hub, moved in to their eternal city. Paladins of the outcast gods try to fight her and always fail. Breath is all-consuming sunlight that liberates noble souls from their corrupt fleshly bodies and leaves behind only smoking skeletons. Souls then bound to serve her for eternity. Heart is the philosopher's stone. Will know if even a single coin from her immense treasury is stolen and will dispatch a battalion of heroic ghosts to track down and slay whoever's wound up holding it. Shopkeepers in vicinity of sacred mountain all know about this and will not accept payment in gold under any circumstances.

Chandraluna, the Dragon Argent. Comes down on nights when the moon is full to play tricks on lone travellers who won't be believed. Can shapeshift into a hot person, command night creatures, induce petty misfortunes, turn straight roads into winding ones and winding roads into labyrinths. Breath is luminous mist that takes the shape of your nightmares and attacks you. Lives in a moon castle full of secret passages, doors to nowhere, libraries of lies and whimsical items taken from children's dreams. Any madman who enters the castle becomes sane, but only so long as they stay there. They also live forever. Advised by beautiful trauma victims and exiled monarchs from long-forgotten kingdoms. Deliberately drives people mad so they have to stay with her and be her friend.

Vormangala, the Iron Serpent. Flightless. Lives in a tunneled-through magnetic monolith in the heart of a barren red desert. The monolith's black sides are encrusted with weapons and the corpses of soldiers who couldn't get out of their armour in time. Breathes a torrent of red rust that corrodes all metal instantly and infects you with the desire to beat each other to death with your bare hands. Has the same effect on anything he touches, but slower. Jealously hoards enough enchanted blades to equip a small army. Loves chess but plays far too aggressively. Has a long-distance game with a prominent general who's secretly analysing every move for clues to his psychology and weaknesses.

Aphrasukra, the Wyrm Verdigris. Breathes a cloud of colourful spores that makes you fall in love with all living things, including the dragon. Lives in an enchanted rainforest full of tropical birds, carnivorous plants, butterflies, tigers and blissed-out romance cultists who live off fruit and the intoxicating nectar of the flowers. Attracts poets and painters, who scrape the verdigris off her flanks and use it as a pigment. Rewards her favourites by eating them. The rainforest is hostile to anyone who comes with less than pure intent and a haven for people fleeing arranged marriages. More than one kingdom has been cast into brutal war when a peace treaty and diplomatic betrothal was scuppered by a runaway husband.

Jovanguru, the Dragon Pewter. Conspiracy theorist. Covets Suryamandra's power and is obsessed with unveiling the secret systems by which the gold dragon controls everything that happens in the world. Sly, duplicitous and paranoid. Likes to think he's outwitted you. Sees everything not in her direct sphere of influence as a threat that must be controlled. Has made a fortune on the stock market through various proxies and invests it all in plots against those who would destroy him, including the other dragons, gods, kings, merchant houses and ordinary people who just happened to move in a suspicious way. Breathes lightning and lives in a thunderhead. Sees everything that's visible under the sky. His enemies wear wide-brimmed hats.

Kronoshanti, the Leaden Wyrm. Sleeps among the columns of a ruined city, dreaming of the day when it was whole. By crawling into the dragon's ear you can become a character in its dream, someone who lived in the city back when it was inhabited and prosperous. The temples of the dream-city hold priceless knowledge, including the recipe for liquid fire and a map to lost Hyperborea. If you stay in the dream too long, however, the memories of your dream-life will overwhelm you and cause you to forget the waking world. The dragon inhabits its own dream as a small black dog somewhere in the city's slums. Killing it will throw you out of the dream and wake her up, although maybe only briefly. Breathes a tide of darkness which inflicts rapid aging and melancholy. Armoured everywhere except for her belly, which she sleeps on. Heavy as fuck.

Hermastunga, the Dragon Mercury. Lives in a glass bottle-palace under the sea. Aggressively cheerful and hyperactive. Can change size and does so constantly. Wants to collect all the knowledge in the world. Memory like a goldfish. Has developed an ingenious new way of storing information in liquid form but can't remember how to read it. Kidnaps people and makes them tell her everything they know from the beginning as fast as possible. Then forgets that she's done it and makes them do it again. Then gets frustrated and eats them. Served by amnesiac djinn who will lose count of how many wishes they've granted you and forget what the wish is before they make it come true. Breathes poisonous fumes that cause itching, tremors, paralysis, hair loss, irritability, light sensitivity and the feeling of bugs crawling under the skin.

Lesser dragons include antimony, arsenic, bismuth, borax, magnesium, phosphorus, platinum, potassium, sulphur and zinc. Aeneolus, the Dragon Bronze, is Aphrasukra's daughter with Jovanguru. Orichalcos, the Dragon Brass, is her son with the wyvern zinc. They hate each other.

Monday, 15 May 2017

SUBLIGHT Classes

Arnold asked me for classes to go with the hexcrawl I wrote. I came up with seven that I think more or less cover the scope of what I'm trying to do in SUBLIGHT. Some of these are more based around skill and some are more based around social position, although really I think the two things are kind of inseparable.

ALIENIST. Like a psychiatrist but for AIs. Since AI is embedded in everything this is a little like being a hacker and a little like communing with the spirit world. Hacking is always hard to make interesting in games, so I want to replace pretty much all of it with social challenges, such that getting through the locked door is less about making a roll or solving some kind of logic puzzle and more about negotiating with the bored computer that runs everything in the complex. I also want to establish that AIs are deeply weird, in some ways like people with mental illnesses and in some ways like faeries or demons than need to be carefully bargained with. Alienists know all the tricks about how to do that, with the consequence that they tend to be pretty weird themselves.

SCAVENGER. Understands how machines work. Can take them apart and use them to build other ones. This might cover anything from a safecracker to a long-haul trucker to an industrial saboteur who specialises in precision explosives. I want each of these classes to have some kind of implicit goal, and the scavenger's, presumably, is to find interesting new bits of tech to add to their big rig or robot buddy or favourite gun or suit of power armour or whatever. Can't work with AI the way an alienist can, and might have an unfortunate tendency to see even a sapient robot as useful bundle of parts.


ENFORCER. Resolves situations through the intelligent deployment of violence. Skilled in both detective work and gunplay, and knows when to stand their ground and when to walk away. The class most likely to get into a Mexican standoff. An enforcer could be a sheriff, a standover man, a bodyguard or a bounty hunter, or anyone else whose job involves shooting at people until they do what you want. Sam Spade is one, as is Raylan Givens, and to be honest the protagonist of pretty much every movie.

APOSTLE. The representative of some religion, whose job is to provide spiritual and material comfort to those in need. Derives much of their power and authority from their social status - has useful contacts among the faithful and can, in emergencies, rally the flock to their cause. I imagine this as being a kind of jack-of-all-trades class, with maybe even the ability to borrow another class' skills - so a Jain monk might be an expert vet, a Buddhist would know kung fu, a worshipper of Tiamat the Mother Machine might have some skill at preaching to AI.


SAWBONES. Not necessarily the mad scientist class. Cuts up people and animals, then puts them back together, hopefully better than before. Synthesises their own customised medicines and drugs, as well as viruses and genetically-altered strains of bacteria. The guy to go to if you want a new set of fingerprints, a robot eye hooked up to your optic nerve, a pill that will make you immune to pain, an untraceable poison, a tailored plague that makes your enemies schizophrenic, a fun night on the town, a tooth pulled or somebody tortured to death.


PIONEER. Lives off the land. Understands animal behavior and ecosystem management. Knows how much nitrogen is in the soil and how to fight a bear. All habitable environments in space are artificial, from the smallest orbital oxygen bubble to the vast terraformed hinterlands of Mars, and having somebody around who knows how to maintain the delicate cycle of nutrients which sustains all organic life can mean the difference between life and death, unless of course you are a robot and don't give a shit. The pioneer could be a gaucho, a mountain man, a fur trapper, an isolated farmer or anyone else who's uncomfortable in cities and maybe has an animal companion.


EXECUTIVE. Has the greatest power of all - money. Unlike all these other plebs, the executive is a ranking member of some corporation, government, wealthy family or other high-status and well-funded organisation. They have way better starting equipment than anyone else, and the social connections to do stuff like get out of jail or be invited to the party, but these things have to cover for a lack of actual physical skills and the hassle of having a boss who can tell you to do stuff. Kind of the opposite of the pioneer, in that they're useful in urban environments and bad in the wilderness.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

SUBLIGHT Hexcrawl

A hexcrawl I made for SUBLIGHT, my near-future hard SF setting. This is a section of the hinterlands of a terraformed Mars, where people go to flee civilisation and make a new life for themselves in the desert. Things that are in it:

- tyrannical Buddhist monks ruling from a palace atop a waterfall
- an elevated highway that runs across the map, abandoned and home to flying bandits (this is the grey line)
- mining towns run by the East Wind Company, who combine ruthless capitalism with qi gong
- satellite shamans who may or may not derive strange radio powers from orbital gods
- a cadre of deadly lawpersons bound to clean up the hinterlands, whether the locals like it or not

It's too long to post here so I'm giving it to you in this Google doc. i hope that u like it

DESERT
MOUNTAINS
HILLS
FORESTED HILLS
SCRUBLAND

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Kaiju Generator

Base animal
  1. Ape
  2. Tortoise
  3. Crab
  4. Mantis
  5. Iguana
  6. Mole
  7. Anglerfish
  8. Spider
  9. Porcupine
  10. Nautilus
  11. Centipede
  12. Moth
  13. Bat
  14. Armadillo
  15. Toad
  16. Chameleon
  17. Vulture
  18. Scorpion
  19. Wasp
  20. Penguin
Powers
  1. Extra head
  2. Radioactive
  3. Fire breath
  4. Frost breath
  5. Acid blood
  6. EMP blast
  7. Skin parasites
  8. Shoots spikes
  9. Shoots webs
  10. Camouflage
  11. Burrowing
  12. Laser eyes
  13. Summons storms
  14. Knows judo
  15. Sonic blast
  16. Plasma claws
  17. Atomic self-destruct
  18. Electrified
  19. Vents sound-eating fog
  20. Shed-skin duplicates
Behaviour
  1. Meeting up with other kaiju to fight
  2. Meeting up with other kaiju to breed
  3. Thinks city perfect place to lay eggs
  4. Already has babies, teaching them to hunt
  5. Just awoke from hibernation, cranky
  6. Seeks vengeance on humans who've disturbed its home
  7. Must kidnap and protect one particular human
  8. Must find place to weave cocoon and metamorphose into next life-cycle phase
  9. Restoring balance to nature by destroying artifacts of civilization
  10. Driven mad by radio transmissions
  11. Being controlled by pilot creatures that ride it
  12. Aggravated on purpose by hostile power
  13. Vanguard of alien invasion
  14. Hungry
  15. Hungry for one specific thing, i.e. plutonium
  16. Thinks city is living thing, trying to communicate with it
  17. Hiding in city from some greater threat
  18. Wants to be worshipped as a god
  19. Claiming city as its territory, marking boundaries with body fluid
  20. Only wants a friend
Target city
  1. Tokyo
  2. Shanghai
  3. Seoul
  4. Kuala Lumpur
  5. Honolulu
  6. Sydney
  7. San Francisco
  8. Las Vegas
  9. New York
  10. Washington, DC
  11. Miami
  12. Rio de Janeiro
  13. Buenos Aires
  14. London
  15. Moscow
  16. Venice
  17. Cairo
  18. Dubai
  19. Mumbai
  20. Cape Town
Greg Broadmore

Bonus Kaiju
  • Kaiser Kong - white ape with black Hitler moustache and spiked Prussian helmet. Grown in lab by German imperialists
  • Baroqueus - a Gothic cathedral brought to life by Satanic sorcerers and given humanoid form. The skies around it flock with gargoyles
  • Zozobra - a wicker giant that kidnaps children and puts them inside him. Could easily be defeated with fire, but that would kill the children
  • Kushiel - an angel of God, sent to purge the city of its sins. Four arms, lidless eyes, flaming sword, thirty stories tall
  • Ghostzilla - Godzilla but dead and a ghost. Intangible to buildings but not other kaiju
  • Kink Kong - ape in a gimp suit

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Lizardmen


  • Geckomen
Can't blink. Must constantly lick their own eyes. Small but surprisingly loud. Live in arboreal puzzle villages where the walls are floors and the floors are traps. If you attack one the jungle will ring with war-chirps as every geckoman in twenty miles is alerted to the threat you pose. Attack from the trees with small, powerful bows and poison-tipped arrows. Steal children and try to raise them as their own, but this never works because they can't figure out how to teach the children to walk on walls. Love pineapple and will gather around to lick at it with their little tongues.

Some of them can glide on skinflap wings. These are called "ptchyozoons" and held in high regard by the others. Others look exactly like leaves and attack from ambush.


  • Frillmen
Live lonely lives in deserts. Only want to scare people and cannot figure out why no-one is scared of them. Run up to travelers and bare their frills and go "naaaaaaarrrrrrrr". Get really annoyed when, instead of running in fear, people think they're hilarious and adorable. Then go home and write sad poetry about it. Actually quite talented poets. Much in demand as exotic pets. Aristocratic owners like to pierce the frills and put gold rings through them.


  • Molochmen
Sit alone in barren places feeding off the dew that condenses on their skin at dawn and dusk. Rarely move. Considered by some to be wise ascetics and sought out for the sagacity of their judgments, which must be paid for with a sacrifice of at least one hundred pounds of ants. Thought by others to be devils in ascetic guise whose alleged words of wisdom are in fact designed to insidiously corrupt the moral fibre of their disciples. Monarchs have been known to consult them - always in secret, to avoid being accused of blasphemy by those whom their decisions disadvantage.

Can shoot blood from their eyes. Anyone who sees someone covered in molochman blood will immediately know that person is guilty of some monstrous, though unspecified, sin, and must be punished in an appropriately brutal fashion.


  • Monitormen
Eat mostly carrion. Always have bits of rotting flesh caught between their teeth. Red saliva swarms with septic bacteria. Bite people, or stab them with saliva-dipped spears, then scuttle away and follow them around for several days waiting for them to die of infection. Hate doctors and have been known to perform daring raids into urban areas just to kill them. Love to raid graveyards, dig up fresh-buried corpses, bite them into swallowable chunks and leave the remains scattered untidily around the church steps. Only need to eat once a month and spend a lot of time lying on warm rocks, basking and digesting. Have a strict hierarchy based on size. The young live in trees and roll in shit to dissuade the old from eating them.


  • Iguanamen
Amphibious. A dull, sooty black, the same colour as the volcanic beach boulders they live on. Stubby faces are always encrusted with salt, which they blow from their nostrils like whales. Eat algae. Live on isolated islands and are desperately curious about the outside world, but are thought by sailors to bring bad luck to any ship that allows one on board. Will try to stow away in holds, though they're thrown overboard if caught. Proverbially ugly. Love games - have a deceptively simple-seeming form of checkers that they play with pebbles on boards drawn in the sand. Also love really bad jokes/ Worship the Volcano Woman, who they believe cursed them into their current hideous forms and will, if they are sufficiently good, one day make them beautiful again. Sacrifice beautiful things to the Volcano Woman when they think nobody's watching.


  • Tuataramen
Third eye on top of the head can see the future. Deep time agents from a long-forgotten age of reptiles, Take jobs as henchmen for low-tier warlocks and secretly manipulate their actions as part of an impossibly complex, millennia-long plan to resurrect the Lizard Queen and bring about the dawn of a new Scaled Epoch in which humans will once more flee and cower before their cold-blooded masters. The only ones who know about this are the rats, and the Rat King works in opposition to them wherever possible. They kill rodents on sight.