My Games

Sunday, July 3, 2022

GItMS! Mecha Gear

This is an old draft, way before I decided to start using Concept Crafting for Mecha Gear. I think in all likelihood it's too fiddly, and I wasn't satisfied with it even at the time, but it's interesting seeing how it got me to where it is now.


This is for my Into the Odd Mecha Hack: Get Into the Machine, Shinji! The mechanics have changed to varying degrees since I've been running my MRD2 Campaign, but this post more so corresponds to the original GitMS! than to MRD2. Most notably, it is no longer the case in MRD2 that Golem (the Mecha) have their own Ability Scores anymore, instead just sharing the pilot Ability Scores, but having their own Damage dice and of course the Gear.
Here's my Weird & Wonderful Table of Super Robot Wars-inspired Mecha and a "Gacha" Mecha Dispenser generator as well, and if you want some weirder MRD2 stuff I have several posts of Weird Golem for MRD2.




I don’t want the game to be too crunchy, and I don’t want to go too wild with the core resolution mechanics because that rarely goes well for me and also doesn’t appeal to me anyway, but Mecha RPGs is maybe the one RPG genre where I still want there to be something mechanically distinct about it; can’t explain why, I just do.

While I have not playtested it yet, I am reasonably confident in and excited about the way that GItMS! distinguishes between Pilots and Mecha and how their abilities interact.

For the most part, Mecha Gear and abilities are very FKR-ish- little to no explicit mechanics, and where a roll is necessary, some kind of basic Save approach, but I’m thinking over just a few more mechanics that hopefully keep it interesting without getting in the way, but I want to hear what people think.


Idea 1: Mecha and Pilot rolls for Advantage/Disadvantage
Normally if a Mecha would need to make a Save, they use their own Ability Scores or relevant rolls; Pilots can spend their Ability Points to use their Pilot Abilities but otherwise don’t directly affect Mecha rolls. However, I’m thinking that where Advantage/Disadvantage would come into play, instead of rolling the Mecha Save twice, instead they roll one for the Mecha’s Ability Score and one for the Pilot’s.
I’m hesitant to put too much weight on Ability Scores, but I actually think this works in the favor of that goal; a Pilot with a similar Ability Score distribution as their Mecha will be more likely to succeed on Advantage/Disadvantage for their good Abilities and less likely for their bad Abilities, whereas a Pilot with a different Ability Score distribution is still affected by Advantage/Disadvantage but in less Ability-preferential ways. Neither is better or worse than the other, just different.




Idea 2: Gear
I like how ItO and EB are very items-heavy, and I’ve similarly enjoyed Cyphers from Cypher System. I want a Gear mechanic that allows for Mecha customization and churn of various unique special items, but not to the extent that the Mecha loses its identity.

Idea 2a: Gear Level
Gear has levels, tentatively 1-4. They affect the various 2abc’s following. The idea is not to be too mechanical with it though, it’s mostly just an indicator of relative power. I don’t necessarily want to have Mecha Levels, but there would still be regular Pilot Levels, and possibly Pilot Level might determine the highest level of Gear they can use, or use reliably (using higher-level Gear might force a Save for Gear Damage, as explained below).

Idea 2b: Gear Damage
Rather than rolling a Damage die to deal direct Damage, Mecha can target exposed Gear, where Players roll Saves either to dodge/defend or to attack depending on which side of the equation they’re on, and they go from `Damaged -> Disabled -> Destroyed`. Gear Level may affect how many times a Gear would need to be successfully hit to move from one stage to another, where from Disabled onward it can no longer be used until repaired and Destroyed means it normally cannot be repaired at all. On the flip side, Gear Level also would determine the cost to repair.
I worry somewhat about coupling Level, Damage, and Cost too tightly; probably there would be many exceptions but this would just be the default case.
I also like the idea of having to expose Gear, because then you can create interesting encounters that force Players to come up with clever ways to expose protected critical Gear, so it makes Conflicts potentially less about just slinging dice and more about clever problem-solving.

Idea 2c: Iconic / Permanent Gear
I want to come up with a better name for this, but tentatively we’ll say Iconic or Permanent. This could include the starting Gear for a Mecha, the stuff that makes it unique, and maybe Pilot Level number of additional pieces of Gear can also be marked Permanent. These Gear can be repaired even from a Destroyed State. They can also be stored for free. Their Level might scale with Pilot Level or something like that.

Idea 2d: Gear Storage
Pilots may want to build a small arsenal for themselves, more than they can carry at any given time, in which case they can be stored wherever their Mecha is stored or at some other facility, at some cost relative to Gear Level. There could maybe be a maximum storage number by Pilot Level as well, but that seems extraneous. Iconic / Permanent Gear can be stored for free (assumes Pilot always saves a little extra cash for their important Gear).

Idea 2e: Gear Points
I keep referring to cost. Gear have a value, generally relative to their Level. So if you destroy an enemy Mecha, you get 1 point for the scrap (or maybe more in special cases), but if you Damage or Disable enemy Mecha Gear or the Mecha themselves without destroying them, you can potentially recover their Gear to keep and/or sell. These Gear Points are used to repair, store, or less frequently, purchase or upgrade Gear.


My hope is that this whole Gear system allows for a nice balance between having an Iconic Mecha but also the fun of load-outs and loot, and it can allow the setting to explore some capitalist themes, without over-relying on a complex economy or being too crunchy. And additionally, it creates a unique and fun, but still rules-light play experience, and differentiates Mecha from regular play in an interesting way.


REMINDER: This is no longer the Gear System in MRD2, but it's still interesting in its own right imo and maybe with some playtesting could work for regular GitMS!

Saturday, June 25, 2022

MRD2 Nazarite Contracts and MRD2 Updates

I'm a few sessions into my MRD2 Campaign. Scheduling an IRL game is a nightmare or else I'd have liked to be a bit further into the campaign by now, but it's nice to be playing IRL again regardless. I'm realizing now that I've referenced Nazarite Contracts in the PRs and some of the other posts, but have not formally shared anything on them here.

The Nazarite Contracts of MRD2 are equivalent to the Poltergeist Forms of MRD1, the character classes. They are meant to reflect various kinds of careers or skillsets related to careers, but also speak to the psychologies around those careers, what that says about the individual or their relationship with the world.

Mechanically they are mostly the same as Poltergeist Forms, with some changes based on my experiences with my >1 year-long MRD1 Campaign and playtesting over the course of development of that game, and some smaller changes that are more about the context and flavor.

The biggest change is that rather than having a mix of Nazarite Features with Damage Dice or just utilities, now the Nazarite Contracts themselves come with a distribution of Damage Dice which can be applied to any Feature or action contextually, and all Nazarite Features are utility-based, affecting what information you have or how you interface with the world, and not just numbers to add or subtract or roll.

I'll share the Nazarite Contracts further below (although keep in mind these are all incomplete and being playtested and only up-to-date as of posting), but as an example, the Psychonautical Sub-Mariner's Damage Dice distribution looks like this:

Damage Dice: Wd6 (Aware of Social Failings), Nd6 (Physical Willpower), -P (Looked down on by society)

Meaning they can deal d6 WISdom Damage in contexts relating to awareness of the problems in society, especially those that are systemic (not necessarily their ability to overcome them, that would be more so PROpriety, just to be aware of them and perhaps work around them), d6 NATure Damage for physical willpower (I guess like "Fortitude" or "Endurance" challenges, more so than fighting or lifting heavy things or whatever), and -P means that they can only ever deal d4 PROpriety Damage in most social contexts, even if they might otherwise have a means of dealing Enhanced Damage or otherwise more than d4.

There is not yet an equivalent to Quirks of MRD1. They were mostly just flavor anyway; I would like to include something like it, just not sure how to present it.

Nazarite Vows replace Starting Karmic Attachments in name only, but that's basically what they are. The only major difference being they are necessarily tied to their relationship to The Corporation or to their career or working life.

Sacrifice to the Shamir replaces Reincarnation Ritual, and work a little differently but serve the same purpose. From my experience with MRD1, the Reincarnation Rituals that were more or less ensured, but involved some kind of tradeoff, were generally much more interesting and satisfying than the ones that required specific circumstances or else would fail, so I've made that more core to the Sacrifices. Tbh I'm still working out some of the particulars, it hasn't come up in play yet, but it will involve something like a Shamir Attachment, similar to the Recursion Attachments of MRD1, which neither accrue nor divest Karma, but must be resolved before Advancing. There's also a different subtext to the Shamir Symbiont vs. Recursion if you care about such things.

All art made with Hugging Face Dall-e-Mini
Maximum Recursion Depth


Final note before I get into the Contracts themselves. I'm having a blast with this campaign, writing up these Weird Golem, and developing this setting. While I love the concept of MRD1 and the Courts of Hell and Recursers, I really do think MRD2 as a game will be an improvement over MRD1. That all said, it's seeming increasingly unlikely that I'll actually make it a proper, published product in the way I did for MRD1 and had intended to do for MRD2. I'm not closing the door on it entirely, and maybe I'll feel differently in a couple of  months, but right now, I just don't have the energy or enthusiasm for it. I love the creation process, I love commissioning the art, and having this thing that I can put out in the world for people to experience, and I will forever have that with MRD1. And while in some ways working on MRD2 has been much easier because of what I've learned from MRD1 and because I'm bootstrapping off of it, the hard parts, like coordinating between all the collaborators, taking on the financial risk even if I can afford the loss in a worst case scenario, the logistics of presentation and accessibility, and also finding my market and marketing and all of that most of all, I'm just so fucking tired of that especially. I wrote most of MRD1 during peak-Covid, but now there's more I can do out in the world, and while I'm grateful that MRD1 has been successful enough for me to even have considered an MRD2, I just don't know if the juice is worth the squeeze the second time over. It's so much work, and so much of yourself to put into a thing, and then you have to scream into the void to get anyone to pay attention, and I'm serving a niche of a niche of a niche, and even the people who do it full time and are enormously talented end up having to make creative compromises and are still struggling to pay their bills, so how can I hope to get any level of traction I'd be satisfied with when this is and will always be just my side hustle? So I have no intention of stopping blogging or creating things, I just don't know if MRD2 will be a real book in the way I'd have wanted. If MRD1 ever reaches some relatively self-sustaining cult status where I don't have to be constantly answering the question "what is MRD?" to people, that is the most likely scenario under which I change my mind, but we'll see.


Anyway, that disappointing statement out of the way, here is the current state of the Nazarite Contracts. I hope to have 6-8 in total, but currently have 5.

Brief Descriptions 
  1. Fast Lane Fintechnomancer: Fast-life corporate culture, intersection of finance and big data / big tech. People who kind of know they're making the world a worse place and may or may not be ok with it but work hard to not have to think about it and just be comfortable.
  2. Psychonautical Sub-Mariner: Dirty but necessary work, work that deals with the consequences of others, marginalized peoples who are as a result more aware of social failings.
  3. Streetlight Dadaist: Artists, neurodivergent people, others who don't fit neatly into society- who have "sold out" to a corporation.
  4. Infrared Ranger: First responders and other kinds of emergency work, medical work, soldiers. People who are labeled "heroes" so that we can undervalue their lives. A play on the concept from Tokusatsu fiction of the leader in red e.g. Red Ranger of Power Rangers.
  5. Smooth Operator of the Cyblessed: Service industry or people who have given a substantial portion of their time or identity to their career, which can include executives and entrepreneurs and middle managers. Cyborgs of a sort, giving up their bodies and minds to a higher class (the "Cyblessed") so they can appear more like them / conform to their world. People who are (or believe themselves to be) smarter than their bosses.


Cyberpunk CEO
Fast Lane Fintechnomancer

Flavor Text
The world is full of freaky frequencies but only some scry the spiking signals. You ride the heartbeat of society on a crash course for cardiac arrest, but the spectators and speculators will rave as you race right until the end.

Nazarite Vows
  1. Once you had dreams, but now you know that dreams are just a pyramid scheme, and you will reach the top.
  2. Accidents are inevitable when you move this quickly, but after so many Hit & Runs you can't stop now.
  3. You're a true believer. It's easier that way. Never lose faith in the company, or yourself.
  4. Moving this fast you risk outpacing your own predictions. Don't get too far ahead of yourself.

Sacrifice to the Shamir
  1. Give the Shamir a spiritual experience in contradiction to your understanding of the world.
  2. Although your livelihood depends on it, reject the illusion of past and present, allow the Shamir to experience the moment.
  3. baz
  4. qux

Damage Dice: Nd6 (Intelligence), Pd6 (Corporate Savvy), -W (Uncritical of society)

Nazarite Features
  1. Transcranial Tachyonic Stimulator: Wearable thiotimolinic time crystal technology like a futuristic EEG cap. When taking a risky action, you may evoke the consequence before the antecedent (but necessarily committing to it).
  2. Zip Ribbon Regressor: You've spent so long collapsing the past to predict the future, motion lines course your movements. When investigating a new situation, you gain one profitable insight that would otherwise be impossible to have known.
  3. Fast Lane Flow: When allowed to engage in a task without interruption, you enter a flow state, experiencing time as if everything besides yourself were in slow motion. Not quite superspeed, but the next best thing.
  4. qux
  5. quux
  6. quuz
  7. corge


Submarine Janitor
Psychonautical Sub-Mariner

Flavor Text
In the dark depths of the subconscious you scavenge misremembered treasures. The egotists profit while calling you dirty as they drift helplessly on surface thoughts. Rise slowly, the bubbles in your blood carry more than nitrogen.

Nazarite Vows
  1. You reek of putrid deep subconscious. Even as the world recoils in your presence, do not let them tarnish your pride.
  2. Buried so deep in the burdens of others, you risk forgetting yourself. Never lose sight of which way is up.
  3. Among the ruins you have found a treasure, and you must cherish and protect it from a world that will never love it as much as you do.
  4. They demand you work to exhaustion so as to never question why it is your burden to bear. You must remain awake and aware despite them.

Sacrifice to the Shamir
  1. Pass on your suffering to the Shamir, not out of malice, but because it must know what the world will do to it.
  2. bar
  3. baz
  4. qux

Damage Dice: Wd6 (Aware of Social Failings), Nd6 (Physical Willpower), -P (Looked down on by society)

Nazarite Features
  1. Ichor, Sweat, and Tears: The three humours of the subconscious made manifest. When you hurt yourself doing dirty work, noxious humours burst from the wound in sprays, splatters, and beams.
  2. Sub-Atomic Treasure: Wrest the irradiated waste of secrets from the subconscious of another's mind in the form of a physical item- a treasure to wield and weaponize for the duration of the item's half-life (~1 hour).
  3. WetOps: When engaging in dangerous, difficult, or otherwise unrewarding but necessary tasks, others are subconsciously compelled to ignore you, almost as though you're invisible (may require a WIS Save).
  4. qux
  5. quux
  6. quuz
  7. corge


DADA Standup Comedian
Streetlight Dadaist

Flavor Text
Dereliction in duty is a matter of course for those so far off it. You shine on the margins of a dimly lit street, but in the moments between flickering lights you speak truth to power in a hoarse voice.

Nazarite Vows
  1. It's surprising how quickly one can grow accustomed to a gilded cage. Always test the bars.
  2. Despite your best efforts, you've failed to find the sublime in the subliminal, but don't stop trying.
  3. You sacrificed another to get here, and now you're alone with the sharks. Don't let them smell blood.
  4. They have misconstrued or perverted your art and you let them do it. So long as you remember the true meaning, nothing else matters.

Sacrifice to the Shamir
  1. Create a piece of art in expression of the Shamir, and let it be denigrated commercially.
  2. bar
  3. baz
  4. qux

Damage Dice: Wd8 (Abstract and Critical Thinking), -P (Find social mores aversive)

Nazarite Features
  1. Entropic Anti-Meme: Create a work of art with subtle profundity masked in absurdity or grotesqueness. The work will attract those of a like kind like a beacon, while being ignored by others, or induce discomfort from them if forced to confront it.
  2. Detritus Dada Demon: Create a work of art from found objects, imbuing them with life to serve simple purposes while bristling those who interact with them.
  3. Graffiti Gateway: Create a one-way entrance or hidden path to an otherwise unreachable or inaccessible place, so long as you know its location. Only operational while in your vicinity. If a foe attempts to use it, make a WIS Save to determine whether or not they succeed.
  4. qux
  5. quux
  6. quuz
  7. corge


Flamethrower Red Ranger
Infrared Ranger

Flavor Text
Heroes are, by definition, few and proud, for heroism can only be defined in contrast to the weak and meek; the cowardly and shameful. The paradox of a true hero is to be unrecognized as such until they are spent.

Nazarite Vows
  1. You love when they call you a hero, even if they don't know your name. Sacrifice and sacrifice until they etch your name on a wall.
  2. They convinced you the honor was worth the suffering. Don't let it be for nothing.
  3. In a faraway place or a time long ago, something happened that changed you forever. The pain persists, but you must keep moving forward.
  4. On cold and inhospitable nights, you resent the way they use you. All the same, you must continue fighting for them— you cannot afford to hate.

Sacrifice to the Shamir
  1. Cry for help, as honestly and pitifully as you can muster, so the Shamir experiences catharsis.
  2. bar
  3. baz
  4. qux

Damage Dice: Nd6 (Take Action)

Nazarite Features
  1. Eternal Flamethrower: An inextinguishable all-purpose tool that only a True Hero may wield, proportional to their conviction. It brings light, combustion, warmth, sterilization, and controlling of the wilds, but also burning, blinding, suffocation, and pain.
  2. Infrared Immolation: Find power in your inner fire, even as it consumes you. An infrared aura surrounds you, allowing you to perform superhuman physical feats or feats of will (NAT), at the cost of Nd6 Damage to yourself.
  3. Crisis Captain: Once per Conflict, if any Ability Score dips below half, gain 3 Armor for that Ability and take a bonus action of any kind immediately afterwards. All teammates gain 1 Armor for that Ability and one teammate chosen by the Infrared Ranger may take one non-offensive bonus action.
  4. qux
  5. quux
  6. quuz
  7. corge


Psychedelic Cyborg (I really liked all of these in different ways and couldn't pick just one)
Smooth Operator of the Cyblessed

Flavor Text
For each piece of yourself sacrificed in service, you are empowered by the whole (and the whole is empowered by you). In honor of your service, you become more like those above, and soon you will be indistinguishable from them.

Nazarite Vows
  1. Blinded by the bright lights and shining chrome, you must nonetheless chase the spotlight, or else be forgotten in their shadows.
  2. You believe you've given you're all, but all you've got is not enough. Discover something new in yourself.
  3. Whether in pursuit of greatness or just to make it to tomorrow, you must bow to those below you, and do so with a smile.
  4. A compromise is a risky and painful investment, but you must keep working deals if you ever hope to come out on top.

Sacrifice to the Shamir
  1. Reveal to the Shamir a part of yourself that disgusts you.
  2. bar
  3. baz
  4. qux

Damage Dice: Pd8 (Play the Game), -N (Give up a part of oneself to do it)

Nazarite Features
  1. The Magic Word: Your primary Cyblessed Enhancement is imbued with a Word, empowering you to do something superhuman in place of that bodypart, and also can be used as a Golem Gear Mod (not counting against total inventory, can't be permanently destroyed). Once the Word is chosen, it can't be changed under normal circumstances.
  2. Contractual Binding: When arbitrating to avoid Conflict or at the onset of PRO Conflict, you may make a written contract. The more specific the contract, the more likely it is to end the Conflict favorably. If the contract cannot be kept as written, words may be removed to broaden its scope, but there will be consequences.
  3. Smile on a Razor's Edge: Your uncanny Cyblessed smile pacifies the foolish and threatens the wise. 2 PRO Armor and you may nullify one aggressor for 1d4 turns, if their aggression towards you is emotional in nature. Any actions taken against a nullified aggressor re-aggravates them.
  4. qux
  5. quux
  6. quuz
  7. corge

Monday, June 20, 2022

MRD2 PR 3: You Weren't Supposed to See That Yet

Previous PRs and general MRD2 context

The Corporation
RegeXperience: “Live for the RegeXperience”. Childishly edgy experimental entertainment and defense company that doesn’t want the world to know what’s really behind their algorithm. EXPERIENCE, ALGORITHM, ENTERTAINMENT

The Manager
Baz Beetz: Infectiously enthusiastic “artiste” and true believer in the company mission who is as profound as nonsensical.

The Cyblessed Liaison
“Tastes like eating out the ass-end of human progress.”: Like a cheap flaccid little candle dripping wax down an otherwise glorious cake wearing a tacky suit reminiscent of a 1980’s faux-wood-paneled station wagon.

The Issue
The Quarterly earnings report is coming up soon, and The Corporation is anomalously underperforming.
  • Several brand launches this Quarter were undercut by a previously unknown startup in San Francisco. The Corporation wants The Team to investigate The Startup on the pretense of a buyout.
  • The Startup somehow acquired the licensing rights to the old Jingo Jangles cartoon, undercutting The Corporation’s upcoming Tempeh Toons licensed products line, just as the Jingo Jangles Museum is reopening.
  • Several other corporations, including The Rival Corporation, have been hit by a similarly bad Quarter. The Cyblessed Liaisons intend to arrange a meeting in neutral territory, Venus City of Tehom.

And last but not least...

The Team

Ben: Larry
Nazarite Contract: Fast Lane Fintechnomancer
Larry's past life was one of public mission in conscious contrarianism to his peers partying with the money of their employers. The brief accolades received from new acquaintances never quite made up for the lack of money and freedom. When he'd ask what others were doing to make the world a better place, they'd stare as if they had never considered the question before. What's the point of caring if no one else does?

Lukas: Icarus Tromp
Nazarite Contract: Infrared Ranger
Was an heir to a crime family but betrayed them when his conscience caught up to him. In need of structure and a sense of justice, but without any good frame of reference and few other options, he shortly thereafter accepted the Nazarite Contract with The Corporation.

HuffaErnst
Nazarite Contract: Psychonautical Sub-Mariner
Golem: Forgetting Pile - An oozey amorphous Golem collective made of empowered trash and detritus.
An old man who trawls through the unconscious sea gathering the things people forget from their dreams. Sometimes its material that The Corporation deems useful.



Where we left off...

The Team investigated the Jingo Jangles Museum to glean insights into how The Startup scooped The Corporation on their quarterly strategy. After encounters with Transdimensional Toons, they travelled through a portal into a Vessel of Tehom, a strange place with an inhospitable environment and competing forces that would crush a human body. Summoning their Golem, they traversed the spinning rings in this plane towards the core, making Karmic Attachments along the way with the likes of Doughboy and the Dreadnaughty, a broken-legged Leaping Lorenzino (given a Dreadnaught for a peg leg), and a mysterious figure in a sub-sub-dimensional shadow who The Team suspect is The Cofounder of The Startup. Finally, the core ruptured, revealing an enigmatic foe, The Entropy Elancer.

The "Boss Fight"

Design Notes
The majority of this session ended up being a "boss fight". I don't intend to rely too much on these, but I wanted to stress test some of the mechanics of the game. We've decided to forego Golem Ability Scores altogether, finding them redundant. Instead, Nazarite Ability Scores apply to their Golem. The Players can choose one Ability Score to get a d6 Damage Die for their Golem (the rest would be d4), and there are no ability score modifier bonuses or anything so it's really just for thematic purposes, if they want to further differentiate their Nazarites and Golems.

This is something that is not so much a mechanical rule as a design goal, but I made a point of saying, yes you can always just roll for damage, but in most regards, if you try to use your Gear in interesting ways and do something more than just attacking, it will generally be more beneficial to do so.

Gladly, they took that to heart and not a single basic attack roll was made! In fact, they dealt literally 0 Damage to the Entropy Elancer, instead focusing on systematically breaking its Gear. I still think a traditional attack and HP system makes sense as a fallback, but I actually really like the idea that this should be probably the primary approach to Golem Conflict, where enemy Golem have extremely high HP, and it's usually more worthwhile to target their Gear rather than attacking directly (and maybe breaking Gear can equivocate to some large amount of Damage so that they aren't disincentivized altogether from mixing approaches). While the core of this Gear system is built on Concept Crafting, I do think this idea of Gear Targeting was inspired by Batteries Not Included.


Entropy Elancer (Inner Ring)
The core ruptures, and the auto-erotic necro-rgasmic moan of an entire civilization whines at a jarring frequency like poking at a blister, before turning tinny, and abruptly and prematurely ceasing. Amid the destruction, a merely normal-sized Golem not unlike The Team’s elances onto the Inner Ring as if it were a stage. Strobing lights flutter like bugs in the sky and the Entropy Elancer dances in myoclonic jerks masquerading frames between moments of light like a kinesthetic zombie artform. Dead bodies and viscera in detailed Transdimensional Toon form slough off its sleek body apathetically.
  • HP: 30; Hits each PC each turn with one of three attacks randomly. Immune to physical damage so long as it remains in motion.
    • Wd8 (Strobing Lights)
      • x3 Strobing Lights: (1HP each) While the strobing lights are present, Entropy Elancer can bypass obstacles between flickers of light.
    • Nd6 (Phosphene Slipper Kicks): NAT Save (or maybe a different Save if feasible) or else Gear is disabled. 
      • Partial Success: Gear/Mod not disabled; Entropy Elancer gains one of that Gear’s Words as a Mod.
      • Full Failure: Destroys Mod permanently (if there was a Mod); Entropy Elancer gains the destroyed Word as a Mod.
    • Pd8 (Zoetropic Thunder- wowing the audience)
    • A Discordant Curtain phosphene can be sensed at the edge of consciousness, and from beyond the fourth wall the shadows of an audience can be seen.
    • They are enraptured by the performance, but will be moved to support Entropy Elancer or The Team depending on circumstances, providing morale boosts or even throwing things onto the stage. They’ll throw Words onto the stage which can be used as Mods or other things.
  • Leaping Lorenzinos holding hands thrust-kick back and forth between the middle and outer rings like meteors (Nd8). 
    • Occasionally they get stuck in place and become obstacles on the ring.
    • They appear to be specifically targeting The Team, but may be used to trap the Entropy Elancer in place.

Audience Word List:
  1. PERFORMANCE
  2. DANCE
  3. APPLAUSE
  4. SPARKLE
  5. LIGHT
  6. STAGE
  7. CURTAIN
  8. AUDIENCE
  9. TOMATO
  10. CHAMPAIGNE
  11. WALL
  12. BACKSTAGE
  13. ANIMATION
  14. MOTION
  15. ILLUSTRATION
  16. OPERA
  17. SONG
  18. OVATION
  19. HECKLER
  20. EMPTINESS

Design Notes
As part of encouraging the Players to use the Words as Mods for their Gear and engage with the environment in interesting ways, if PCs do something which would grant them new Words, they can use one Word as a free action. kind of like how in FATE you get a free evoke on an Aspect when you create an Aspect (or it's been a while since I've played FATE but it's something like that).

Additionally, I decided that they can use the Words to do individual, specific effects, not as a Mod for their Gear, but in such a case it's a one-time use (and they can also use Words in this way as Nazarites outside of their Golem). It gives them more opportunities to use the Words in interesting and fun ways, while still incentivizing them to use them as Gear Mods more often than not.


This is a rough approximation of events, I remember some particulars and not others offhand...

The PCs figured out quickly that they needed to drum up support from the audience, so Lycaon Strain used one of their Gear that produces a fear-inducing howl, along with the ENTERTAINMENT Mod, to turn the scenario into something like a horror movie with The Team as the protagonists and Entropy Elancer the monster, and the audience threw several Words onto the ring for them: DANCE, APPLAUSE, OVATION. They used APPLAUSE to create a raucous soundwave to destroy one of the Strobing Lights, and as a result the Entropy Elancer's phasing ability was diminished.

My memory of the middle of the fight gets fuzzier, but I remember that Forgetting Pile used their previous Mod HONEY with one of their Gear to break the Tesselating Zoetrope Gear, disabling that attack, and later the Entropy Elancer uses the Phosphene Kick to break Forgetting Pile's UNCONSCIOUS+OOZE Gear into just OOZE, but then I think Chemysterious Cascader used a Gear to drum up more excitement from the audience to get more Words: OPERA, ILLUSTRATION, WALL, CURTAIN, and Forgetting Pile creates an OOZE CURTAIN to disable the Discordant Curtain Gear. At some point a Leaping Lorenzino is used to break a Strobing Light.

Around the end, Forgetting Pile and Chemysterious Cascader use their Gear collectively to summon a manifestation of Harry the Honeybadger and Barrys the Bees, the Jingo Jangles Transdimensional Toons they met at the museum, to break the Phosphene Slippers, and then bees consume the Entropy Elancer.

I'm definitely not telling it right, but it played out along these lines.

Design Notes
Obviously the Players themselves didn't have everything laid out in front of them, but you can see here how, because the Entropy Elancer has one attack associated with each Gear, along with some other miscellaneous stuff, they're incentivized to target the Gears vs. just dealing Damage directly.

I also tried to make each attack interesting. The Strobing Lights are what give Entropy Elancer it's phasing ability. The Phosphene Kick can break Gear or steal Mods. The Zoetropic Thunder can drum up the audience in its favor. The Leaping Lorenzinos can hem in the PCs, but also be leveraged by them.

Before being defeated, the Discordant Curtain falls. 

Star Wars-style text crawl overlays like a laser word projector (The Transcending Descender [a creature made of projected words, from previous session]):

Outnumbered and viciously attacked by the treacherous Villains of Regexperience, our Hero makes their valiant exit stage left as the Discordant Curtain falls like a guillotine a hair’s breadth before the evil Nazarites. Thwarted for now, the malicious lot return to the mundane reality of The Startup Office, finding themselves in the midst of The Founder. While they lie and scheme to undermine the rebel upstartup, where has our hero gone? Fret not, our hero will return, mightier than ever, for progress never fails in the end! Stay tooned my fresh friends. Fraxinus!

Back to Reality

At the startup, mid conversation with The Founder, Doughboy alongside them, and The Leaping Lorenzino in the guise of a phone app like an incredibly homoerotic 90’s 16-bit fighting videogame port.

I finally name and characterize THE FOUNDER and THE COFOUNDER:

THE FOUNDER
Ash McLaren: Prettyboy up-and-comer with dorky predilections and glassy eyes seeking long lost wonder.

THE COFOUNDER
IQ Warburton III: Sharply dressed and sharply cunning coder rich in name only with a salty chip on his shoulder.

The Team are informed that they can either attempt to close on the buyout / snoop around the office or head uptown to Fort Mason to investigate the fallout of the Kaiju attack that they missed from session 1, that was apparently in the form of Teagan Tenderloin the Tempeh Toon, The Corporation's licensed toon brand that got scooped by The Startup's Jingo Jangles licensed toons. The Venus City pre-meeting will be starting in a few hours, so they only have time to do one of those two options in San Francisco, or both if they are ok with skipping the big meeting.

They choose to stick around at the office.

Larry and Icarus get into PRO Conflict with Ash McLaren, where they can leverage the various information they've sleuthed to benefit their argument in favor of buyout.

Meanwhile Ernst engages in WetOps, stealing a keyfob to get onto the company Wifi to access the augmented reality space [from previous session]. Then, they retrieve The Cofounder's unique keyfob from the memory of an employee who once saw The Cofounder use the key, to unlock The Cofounder's Office, all to decrypt the rest of the data they stole.

After decrypting the data, they get the following intel:
Files discuss the meeting in Venus City, funds being diverted quasi-legally, and references to a large number of secret investors across Earth and Tomino’s Array* with no obvious connection except to someone or something referred to as “Hibernating Hyberia”.

* Tomino's Array is one of the Space Settlements and was a HOTSPOT for one of the other ISSUES. Given the nature of ESCALATION in the campaign, when they pursue some ISSUES over others, the others continue to ESCALATE without their involvement...

Ernst also gets the Mod BACKDOOR for the successful hacking and decryption.

After agreeing on The Buyout (in part by convincing The Founder he has no choice, that The Corporations will swallow them up eventually so better to take the deal now while the terms are good, and also they lie to him that The Cofounder already agreed to be bought out himself), they receive the Mod SALE. Also, Icarus makes a Karmic Attachment with The Founder (now being Karmically Attached to both Ash McLaren The Founder and IQ Warburton III The Cofounder).

The successful hacking into the augmented reality and the Karmic Attachment co-occur, at which point something strange happens. Ash McLaren (The Founder) wears a special helmet, which they learned about in the augmented reality in the previous session. They see underneath The Founder’s helmet a draconic, chitinous moth-like monster has eaten through the back of his skull and hijacked him like a parasite.

“Oh, you weren’t supposed to see that yet”. Reality itself goes fuzzy for a second, and then he appears normal, and acts as though nothing happened.

Icarus pulls a stunt of sorts with his Eternal Flamethrower to get some analytics on whatever is underneath the helmet, and it becomes apparent that whatever they saw is no longer in reality, that underneath the helmet is relatively normal brainwaves and organic tissue.


And this is where we leave off, but next time it's off to Venus City! Fraxinus!

Monday, June 13, 2022

New Kinds of Magic

No, this isn't about Vancian vs. such-and-such. I guess it's more like different schools of magic like Illusion, Evocation, etc., but it's not bound to those classifications either. It's just meant to get you to think about weird abstract things, and what magic can mean, and how different principles of science and philosophy and cognition and perception operate.

My character in Mike of Sheep & Sorcery's Weirdways Campaign (previously discussed in this post) also more recently gained powers relating to the first entry, so that's cool.

There aren't that many of these because I've been busy and tired lately and trying to prioritize shorter high quality posts over forcing out longer ones, but I'm happy with these.

Cool art to draw the eye, to break up the page, to give you a reason to click. Empty and unsatisfying, disconnected from my words because I don't know how to draw. A memetic parasite burrowing into your brain imposing itself onto your perception, in place of my words. Hollow eyes desperate for a connection they cannot see and will not understand. An anaglyphic simulation of three dimensions where only two exist. Boastful promises behind tinted lenses yielding nothing.
  1. Necroneiromancy: These are no mere prophecies. Dead dreams aggressively forced onto the future, feeding off of time like an ouroboros.
  2. Ennui: A magic imprisoned invisibly by the ignorant, closing in tightly, oppressing only those who perceive it. A deprivation, lack of stimulation, a self-generated counterforce compressed until it bursts. A violently unleashed imagination.
  3. Graphomatica: Philosophers seek unknowable Truths fruitlessly, where real magic is in modeling reality via approximation. Graphomatic representations realize radical realities in higher dimensional spaces.
  4. Alone: Reality is a shared delusion, where for each contributor, any given contribution is lessened. Alone, one's own magic magnifies, reality warping around preconceived notions and preferred prophecies. More efficient than the compromised magic we share, more effective too, until challenged.
  5. Soberotica: The girl next door of magic, the paradoxical sexy in the unsexy, the attainable if unglamorous, utilitarian utility of serviceable services in the unflattering light of sober sensations.
  6. Dissonant Dissociative Multitudes: The magic of an unabashed, unashamed detachment from reality. Embracing cognitive dissonance, dissociated self from space, inversion of subject and object, magnified madness made manifest, multitudinous; magical power pawned from pathology.

Mike also created several cool New Kinds of Magic which with his permission I have also included.
  1. Egregoristry: Mages gather to create a higher being out of their collective consciousness: a being submissive to their will, but have they created this being truly or merely given body to something old and dangerous?
  2. The Craft: Just as a genius sculptor has the power to do what most see as impossible so there is a level above the genius sculptor where they can truly give life to marble or even a higher level where they sculpt time and dimension. This is the magic of pure excellence in a particular craft until it exceeds the boundaries of possibility.
  3. Mom Magic: Some moms genuinely have eyes in the back of their heads and they can definitely take you out of this world just like they brought you into it: with blood and screaming.
  4. Quantum Catalog: Undo choices and force the universe down a different path through mastery of the Dewey Decimal system of the Akashic Library.
  5. Dimensional Theurgy: like Rick and Morty with the microverse car battery. The wizard creates a pocket dimension in which they are God, feeding on the worship of the creatures there to fuel their magic.

Monday, June 6, 2022

5 Minute Challenge Anew: Incursion

Library of Attnam has started doing Quarter Hour of Writing (QHW) Challenges in the vein of my old 5 Minute Challenges. I like the idea of bumping it up to 15min, but I also have not quite 15min before I need to start work, and I try to post on at least a weekly basis, and as Save vs. TPK said recently I'm trying to be more comfortable with shorter posts.

I'll use one of Attnam's prompts, and in this case I rolled Incursion, so that's what we're doing.

And... GO!
  • A spectrum of light perpendicular to light as we know it, intersecting at green, breaches the electromagnetic barrier.
  • Reality is in fact a dream, and for the first time, you experience oneiric wakefulness.
  • The universe is an Ouroboros. As it comes closer to consuming itself, entropic unraveling exponentiates.
  • Breaching the wall of life and death like puncturing choking cellophane, a pleasant and disturbing compression.
  • Transduced consciousness into soundwaves and decomposed along frequency-power axes via Fourier Transform.
These were adequate. Until next time...






Monday, May 30, 2022

Getter Robo Armageddon Not-Review

I'm moving in a couple of days, not very far, but still stressful, so in my procrastination on packing and prepping, here's another not-review of an obscure-ish Mecha anime.


Getter Robo Armageddon came out in the very late 90's, but like with Iczer-One, it has this beautiful hand-drawn art style that you just don't see anymore, which I've always really loved. This would have been the very tail-end of that style of animation.

My understanding is that the original Getter Robo, along with Mazinger Z*, were the two original and still most archetypal "Super Robot" Mecha anime, but Getter Robo Armageddon is more like a sequel or spiritual sequel to the original series, set after a Getter-related apocalyptic event. I haven't seen or read the original manga/anime so can't say for sure but that's the impression I get. I will also say, clearly I didn't feel like I needed to know more about the classics to enjoy this.

There have been a couple of anime adaptations of Getter Robo since this one, but honestly the other ones didn't look or sound as good as this one and this is the one that the Super Robot Wars videogames keep coming back to, so it's probably the best modern-ish adaptation.

* I have also watched some Mazinger anime adaptations, should maybe do a not-review of those some time as well but I don't have as much to say about them, but I did reference Mazinger in my MRD2 Campaign Setup. I guess I don't have much to say here either, but oh well...


Like with Iczer-One, this anime looks and sounds really good, and while it's 13 episodes, I don't think it overstays its welcome, and it has really excellent Mecha and Kaiju designs. Also like with Iczer-One, despite how well it's produced and how much setting is implied, I will say it doesn't feel like there's a lot of there there, which I think I also said about Iczer-One.

Unlike Iczer-One, it does at least at first seem like it's going to be about more, it feels like there's intended subtext, but by the end it kind of devolves into typical shonen-adjacent Mecha action anime stuff, which is a bit of a shame. That said, this would have been a great show for the classic Adult Swim anime Saturday night lineup back in the day, would have fit right in.


Superficially, especially at first, it feels actually a lot like Evangelion, despite it's more classic designs for some of the characters and Mecha, although it's just as likely that Evangelion was inspired by earlier Getter Robo than this series was inspired by Evangelion, but it seems plausible given when it came out that it went both ways. But whereas Evangelion is about something, is an exploration of real themes or dare I even say a deconstruction of those themes, I don't think Getter Robo Armageddon really capitalizes on what it sets up.

It seems like it's trying to explore nuclear or other human-made devastation a la Godzilla and plausibly also the classic Getter Robo, and maybe commenting on Japanese Imperialism or American Imperialism, but ya it never really goes anywhere as far as I could tell, but I still enjoyed it.

I don't have much more to say about it than that, but if you like good animation and great Mecha and Kaiju designs and want to know more about the history of Mecha, check it out.

I actually struggled to find great screenshots, but hopefully these have gotten the point across.



Monday, May 23, 2022

Weird Mecha: An Exercise in Nihilism

I've enjoyed creating these Weird Mecha / Golem for MRD2. Two of the PCs in my MRD2 Campaign are using them (Chemysterious Cascader and Lycaon Strain), and one of them showed up as an enemy in a cliffhanger in the previous session. Those two are arguably more concrete than some of the other ones, which is ok, but I do really want to test the viability of abstract "Mecha" and exploring those possibilities both subtextually and in terms of how they open up the game in new ways.

The two current posts include tables for superorganism mecha and embodied cognition mecha. In this post, I'll create a few mecha combining both of these tables. 

TL;DR Creating weird "Mecha" (including more symbolic extrapolations of the body like superorganisms and cognition) where combinations of words are used to craft them.

I didn't have a preconceived notion of what this would entail thematically when I started, but on reflection, there seems to be a kind of anti-theme, an undercurrent of nihilism and a rejection of the two previous posts' themes. Also, to be clear, I'm using the word nihilism very colloquially here.

I chose to avoid using Words I've previously used, but otherwise the words were generated randomly (as were the table combinations, except that each consists of one from one post and one from the other).




GOLEM 1 (WEIRD + PSYCHOACTIVITY tables)


CORE: (ANNIHILATION + POPPY)
Climax Heroine
The ultimate saccharine lovey-dovey feel good pop song to end all pop. Not just a song; a movement, a moment, a memory. Something so profound and so profoundly empty; a fleeting satisfaction in the form of an inescapable earwyrm on a pretty red flower smiling.

GEAR1: (EUPHORIA + ALCOHOL)
Mixomania Turntable
Music and mood and concert and club in colorful liquid form shaken or stirred with zest or bitters and poured onto a turntable. A bath of sounds and spirits and colors and patterns transcending spacetime, controlling the mood of the party with precision, like an MC or DJ, or GM.

GEAR2: (TRANSMIGRATION + AMPHETAMINE)
Black Carpet
The walkway across the Heart Attack Dimension for all the Hollywood harlots and heartthrobs. The steps between heart beats in flicker fusion. Channel the adoration and accomplishments of those who raced against death and lost.

GEAR3: (COMEDY + STILTON)
Varicose Vanity
The disrobing of the Climax Heroine reveals bacterial blue varicose veins. Underneath the pomp and circumstance, a cruel joke of the empress' beaten body, inducing drowsiness and vivid dreams in 27 minute naps. The long overdue comedown.




GOLEM 2 (DISTRIBUTION + EMOTION tables)


CORE: (JOIN + DULL)
Univertrax the Brownian Singularity
The last surviving entity of another universe, or the previous loop of our universe, or our future. The accidental drift of all the life and love across all of their universe, every beautiful majestic creature, poem, work of art, technological achievement, world wonder, averaged and reduced into a mindlessly replicating, incomprehensible, incompatible, irrelevant brown sludge of cosmic insignificance.

GEAR1: (GESTALT + ENNUI)
Brown Note Broadcast
The collective sigh of an innovationless mega-monoculture. An overly long series of derivative ads for long-forgotten reboots of reimaginings of old stories that weren't actually very good to begin with. The embarrassing fart that breaks a crying fit. A message out of place and without a place, breaking up joy and tension equally like an unstoppable anti-empathetic force, leaving behind an emotional wreck and oppressive stillness.

GEAR2: (HUMAN + RESTLESNESS)
Spineless Hedgehogs
The beings of Univertrax long ago gave up the pretense of individuality, even as echoes of dissatisfaction and compromise forever belies the failure of their being. Some can be prodded and coerced to action, agitated to leave the Brownian Singularity. Though they eventually dissolve in their impotent rage back into the filth swamp of their own making, for a brief moment they channel what they once could have been in a single glorious and undeniable gesture.

GEAR3: (ALL + SADNESS)
Big Crunch
Univertrax compresses itself tightly into a micro-gravity field, tugging on the universe and crushing it like an implosion, like its marriage with Univertressa. Leaves a permanent mark on the universe, like a knotted scar or crumpled piece of paper. Anything that can survive the Big Crunch is changed permanently, and if multiple beings survive, there is a good chance they've merged into one, like the necromantically revived corpses of a crushed ant colony connected by a pool of lymphatic fluids.



GOLEM 3 (ELEMENT + SENSATION tables)


CORE: (ORDER + PERCEPTION)
Apophenic Arrangement
This Golem does not exist. It is the illusion of a pattern, like a gambler staking their last dollar because they've got a good feeling, or a person of meager means paying the entrance fee to see Jesus' face on toast. It exists where there is want and means to believe, to fill the empty spacetimes, and the occupied.

GEAR1: (LIFE + STIMULATION)
Hypothetical Babbler
The improbable dreams laid upon an unwanted child made in bad faith. Almost like a real baby, it crawls forward in spacetime naively, experiencing senses unadulterated- an intellectual madness. It grows and learns, but never develops an ego, or any filter on perception, purely life and sensation. Quicker to learn and more powerful than human, yet never more nor less than the sum of its experiences. An unbounded thing that grows massively, but only with linearity.

GEAR2: (ACID + HEARING)
Genetic Backmask
Genes are not merely patterns of organic acids, but exist in any medium of sequences, including audio waves. There are secret messages of life hidden inside music. Do the observers create them, or does the living music plant the expectation? Either way, they are a novel kind of life yearning to be heard, and glad for their new friend. If only everyone else could hear them.

GEAR3: (VOID + ELECTROCEPTION)
Shadow Generator
Our experience of reality is merely the reflection and refraction of signals bouncing off one another, a world of relational patterns and shadows. The shadow generator models sources of higher reality signals into perception, creating a shadow space like objects pinging off radar, revealing approximations of hypothetical things in higher places. Even in their lowered resolution, transduced into shadows, there is a bittersweet beauty in the things beyond our ability to conceive.