My Games

Friday, November 29, 2019

Martians pt.1: TNT Character Types

I've been struggling creatively (as I've recently mentioned), but as I suspected, the process of venting publicly about my creative frustrations did help inspire me creatively.

I've been enjoying these TNT character types, even if I am yet to succeed at making TNT the new GLOG (that's a draft I am wholly unprepared to post at this stage). One thing though, is that I think most of my TNT character types so far have been cool ideas, but too complicated or overwritten. Wanting to simplify was part of the appeal of writing the Subtypes (here and here). What appealed to me so much about TNT in the first place was how simple and elegant the character types are (although imo the rogue is underpowered, but my house rules alleviate that somewhat, I think). The warrior gets an additional 1d6 combat dice per level for melee attacks, can double the hit reduction of their armor if they roll Wear & Tear, and can't use magic. That's it. Simple, elegant, fun. So as much as I like some of my more "high-concept" character types, I'm going to try to keep most of them relatively simple going forward. Also, given my more limited time and creative slump, simple is easier ;).

Here are a few character types for martians, inspired largely by schlocky B movie-style martians that I a mainly associate with the 1950's, and then 80's/90's, but seems to have fallen out of favor in the decades since. In October I went to a cool arcade in Asbury Park that was largely pinball focused, and it had a really cool martian pinball machine. I don't know why, I'm not a huge pinball guy, but for some reason whenever I do play pinball, I find it really creatively inspiring. So anyway, it made me want to make some martian TNT character types. It also made me want to come up with some headier tabletop RPG concepts, but I just don't have that in me right now, so this will have to suffice for now.

This post has actually turned into something much larger than I initially anticipated, so I think I'm going to break it into parts. This first part will be Character Types, but it will be followed by (in no particular order) an Items/Gear/Vehicles list, a Bestiary, maybe a Martian Spellbook, or a micro-setting post...

I'm pretty sure it was this pinball cabinet. Also, this animated 3D image is perfect for what I'm going for here!

Martian Psychomancer

The psychomancers are psionically-empowered martians. The ancient martian wizard Vance developed a new kind of magic; by encoding memory engrams from the psychosphere, they can cast any spell in the martian collective unconscious, so long as they are powerful enough, and have time to prepare the psychograms.

  • Same abilities as Wizards except for the following.
  • Must prepare psychograms over the course of a long rest (e.g. beginning of the day). Allocate WIZ for each psychogram. A spell may be encoded more than once. Left over WIZ may be used to powerup psychograms at time of casting.
  • Psychomancers may prepare any spell from the GM approved spell list of their level or lower.

Martian Thark

The Tharks are ogre-sized, four-armed, fanged or tusked martian warriors with large, menacing, glowing red eyes. Their extra arms and regenerative abilities make them a force to be reckoned with.
  • May regenerate 1d6 CON as a single action up to their level times per day.
  • May attack unarmed with all four fists for 2d6 damage per fist plus combat adds (applied once, NOT per fist!).
  • Lack the acuity to multi-wield weapons efficiently, but may use their extra arms to carry additional shields, backup weapons, or other gear or items, or attempt to grapple* and attack in one turn as part of a full turn action.
* I forget if there are official grapple rules off-hand, but here is my proposed grapple rules: Make a strength SR, default level 2, modified if the enemy is much smaller or larger (difficult to grasp), too powerful, abnormally shaped, etc., or modified easier if the grappler is much stronger. Grappled enemies may not move or attack on the subsequent turn. The grappler must re-roll the SR each turn to maintain the grapple, and each turn the SR level increases by 1.

Barsoom was another inspiration for this

Martian Radium Legionnaire

The Radium Legionnaires are the elite foot soldiers of the Martian Space Force. They are infamous across the galaxy for the explosive, devastating power of their radium pistols.
  • Gain +2 combat adds per level for missile attacks.
  • May make a Radium Explosion (as missile attack SR) up to their level times per day with a Radium Pistol.
  • Do not need to roll Wear & Tear for normal use of a Radium Pistol and critical fails on missile attack SRs with Radium Pistols do not destroy the pistol or create a local explosion.
  • May choose not to create a Radium Explosion when rolling doubles on a missile attack SR with a Radium Pistol.
  • The missile SR for lobbing Radium Grenades is decreased by 1.
  •  (see Radium Explosion).

The coolest Marvin the Martian

Radium Explosion: The target and all characters in melee range of the target (including allies) take 1d6 radium explosion damage.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Help! Life is good and I don't know what to do about it!!!

For the past month+, everything I've posted was a complete or mostly complete draft that I had written at some point prior, in some cases much prior. I've got a handful of drafts nearly finished that I just can't wrap up, and a handful of ideas I haven't started writing yet and haven't been able to focus on. Only a couple of those are from more recently than a month ago and I have written nothing in that time. I haven't gamed in that time either, although that may change this weekend. I can kind of feel the bug coming back. The problem is that life has been really good lately, and I'm afraid that life being good is killing me creatively. I keep trying to remind myself that Republicans and Boomers are ruining the world and the president of the United States is a rapist traitor who launders money for the Russians and China is committing genocide and climate change is plausibly going to make my 401K irrelevant, and I am genuinely upset about all of these things, but on a personal level life is good, and apparently I lose creative inspiration and/or motivation to create when I'm happy? I don't even think I'm really happy, just the closest fascimile of happiness that I'm capable of experiencing that will likely crumble at any moment anyway, but in the meantime I don't know what to do about this. I'm trying to convince myself that this creative break will give me a chance to refresh and I'll come back stronger, but what if I just don't? I think I need to make a concerted effort here, but I don't know how or towards what ends. What is something reasonable and within my wheelhouse you'd like to see from me? Or maybe something outside my wheelhouse? This is a rant. Hopefully I'll have a real post soon.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Throne of Salt Mothership Play Report (and The Microbiome)

I recently (as of when I drafted this post, it's actually been quite a while) played in Dan D's Mothership game (I'm tagging this Danscape since that's what I used for Dan's other game I played in, but it's a different setting), and it was awesome! I also tagged this post as play report even though it's not much of a PR because I'm terrible at them, but I'll say that it was effectively a very creepy, modern Lovecraftian game- not in the sense of encountering Cthulhu, but in the sense of their being a low-key disquieting, ominous factor throughout the session.

We investigated a radio tower on behalf of our Handler named Friend, who communicates to us through an old-school CRT monitor as a smiley face which is burned into the screen (I jumped into the game without proper context for the setting so it's possible I'm making some incorrect assumptions). We encountered an android that wore human skin which I named Leatherdroid, which had gone insane and was attempting to find the Blessed Interface, a means of reaching singularity with some sort of Machine God. Then we wound up in a small town under the thumb of space fascists that served amazing Goan food and drink. Dan's going to write a better play report later but that's the gist of it, and my explanation is not doing it justice but it was great.

Anyway, this is about an idea I had for the setting. Dan has said that every player can contribute one thing to the setting, and I have a hard time turning down an opportunity to do some worldbuilding! A big theme of the setting seems to be the idea of trans-species-ism; the androids trying to find the Blessed Interface, various post-human species, uplifted animals, etc., and additionally there is the aforementioned theme of ominous weirdness, so this idea is intended to combine those two things. I don't know if he's actually going to use it, but I liked the idea so I'm posting it here.

*NOTE: It was brought to my attention that this idea may come off as offensive. To be clear, the choice to make the human antecedents of the Microbiome Hasidic Jews was only because I wanted to tie in a real-world religious / cultural element, and I wanted Kabbalah iconography (specifically the spheres of qlippoth / sephiroth, which seemed like a cool symbolic representation of the Microbiome). It was in no way intended as any kind of statement about Hasidic Jews. For what it's worth, I am ethnically Jewish (although not Hasidic), which may be why it didn't even occur to me that it could be interpreted as offensive. I wanted to leave this idea in its original form, but there's certainly no reason why you couldn't just take that part out, it's certainly not critical to the idea. Anyway, this caveat is partially why I delayed posting this for so long, but I'm running out of pre-drafted posts and haven't had much time or creative energy lately, so I'm taking my chances and hoping people understand and can take from it what they will.*

Uplifted Microbiome
The bacteria, yeast, and single-cell organisms that comprise the microbiome of a community of humans became uplifted. It is unclear whether this was by design, or an emergent phenomenon, as the community has managed to keep its nature a secret from the wider world. One could theoretically conceive of a means to scientifically test for the existence of the microbiome, but they have not yet incited a need for the world to do so.

The human hosts of the original microbiome mostly maintained their independent intelligence and autonomy, not even conscious of the intelligence lifeforms within them, but over generations of neuro-immune, genetic, epigenetic, and selective meddling, the human hosts have been reduced to little more than biological machine vehicles for the microbiome, and would not be able to survive without the microbiome except with extreme medical intervention.

The original human hosts were Hasidim, and the microbiome religion uses iconography of Kabbalah, seeing the Tree of Life, and the spheres of the Sefirot and Qlippoth, as God communicating the concept of the microbiome to humans, who failed to heed God's wisdom. The fruit of knowledge for humans was a poison to the microbiome, dulling it for the sake of the human hosts. Eden was not outside humanity, it was within.

The microbiome have no social taboos around excrement and other bodily expulsions, and in fact have many religious rituals around it. Poop is to be revered, but it is also sensual and sexual. It is not wasted, instead it is laid throughout the town, a constantly fed, living network, connecting the microbiome.

The human hosts provide little in the way of intellectual identity, existing as little more than a "lizard brain". They have simple urges, mostly relating to pain and pleasure. The microbiome are thrillseekers; they play with knives, they touch hot things until their skin burns. Mutilation is a lifestyle choice. Sometimes they forget to restrain themselves around humans.

They try to be respectful of humans, but to them, humans are like zombies or morlocks; they look into human eyes and see little more than a dumb animal, a primitive microbiome trapped in meat, a creature living its entire life in sensory deprivation.

While the microbiome expresses itself uniquely within each host, and undergoes rapid change moment-to-moment, there is a large degree of continuity in its being. It is difficult to quantify how many microbiome individuals exist, or if it is meaningful to quantify them as such. While their hosts have gender, the microbiome do not. They communicate verbally as humans, or through the expulsion of bodily functions, burping and farting and pooping, and these pheromone signatures are not just artifacts of communication, but part of the microbiome itself.

Their human bodies are not tied to their identity or intelligence, and because they can transfer between bodies, and at least temporarily exist outside the body in excrement, the body has very little psychosocial value to them. They wear clothing only for protection, as needed, or to make humans comfortable, and they put very little effort into physical appearances. They are not sexually attracted to human bodies but to human microbiomes (but only the most exceptional).

Their lack of hygiene, due to lack of care of the body, and the practical and ritualistic use of excrement and other bodily expulsions, disgusts most humans- at first. The microbiome is smarter than human gut flora, and soon humans no longer notice the smell, and find that the microbiotic "humans" have a je ne sais quoi about them, a subtle underlying attractiveness. The symbiosis between human host and microbiome is so deeply selected that baseline humans are not at immediate risk of infection. It would take months or even years before the microbiome could even survive the hostile wilds of a human gut forest. However, it is theoretically possible, and would be exacerbated by sexual transmission or the insertion of microbiome excrement into a human.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

More TNT Character Subtypes

Part of my series of TNT content, currently including:

TNT House Rules and Cheatsheet
TNT Character Type: Mystic
TNT Character Type: The Huntsman (and TNT Traps)
TNT Character Type: War Dogs (and Caves & Canines Hack)
TNT Character Type: Warlord
TNT Character Subtypes: Paladin, Eldritch Knight, Ace
Mechs & Monstrosities Hack
M&M: Mechs
Dueling Minigame

Berserker (Warrior Subtype)
Harder-hitting warriors, but less resilient.
  • Do not gain armor bonuses from wearing body armor, helmet, shield, gloves, etc.
  • Rage: Once activated, lasts 1d4 turns. Counts as a free action (can move, attack, or do other things the same round as raging). Add +1d6 combat dice per barbarian level to combat rolls, but take 1d6 damage at the end of the rage (ignores armor).

Cleric (Wizard Subtype)
Can cast "divine" spells at no cost, but with longer cast-times.
  • Cleric spells do not cost WIZ.
  • Cleric spells require praying for spell level - WIZ level number of turns (minimum 1).
    • If the party (if in group combat) or the cleric takes combat damage, there is a 1 in 4 chance that the cleric spell will be interrupted.
    • Powering up spells increases duration rather than WIZ cost.
  • Unlike wizard spells, cleric spells resolve last in combat.
  • Can only cast divine spells (see examples).
  • Do not subtract cleric level from WIZ cost / duration.
  • No benefits of wizard focus.
  • Example Spells:
    • Detect Magic --> Detect Divine (holy/unholy)
    • It's Elementary --> Holy Water, Divine Light
    • Oh Go Away --> Turn Undead (powerup increases duration geometrically)
    • Will O' Wisp --> Divine light rather than blue light
    • Poor Baby --> Can be cast as level 1 spell. Powerup increases quantity linearly OR increases range (touch -> close -> short -> medium -> long).
    • etc...

Bard (Rogue Subtype)
Limited talent versatility compared to Rogue. Better spellcaster, but less flexible (in combat takes a turn to switch from casting to fighting).
  • At least one talent must be presentation-oriented (music, acting, singing, dancing, etc.).
  • Can use a presentation tool as a wizard-like focus for spellcasting (e.g. instrument, prop).
  • During combat, takes one turn to switch between a performance (spellcasting) and regular combat attacks.

Mystic (Rogue Subtype)
A simpler version of my Mystic Type as a Rogue Subtype. The ability to optimize for mental attributes and the tank-like CON/WIZ ability is offset by increased spell cost and limited unarmed / mystic focus damage.
  • Use mental attributes for combat adds when fighting unarmed or with mystic focus weapons (IQ, WIZ, CHA, LK).
    • Mystic focus weapons do not provide any other benefits.
  • Spells cost 1.5x WIZ to cast.
  • Body and Mind are one: CON and WIZ are interchangeable for taking damage and casting mystic spells.
  • Can fight unarmed or with mystic focus weapons with (1d6 * STR Multiplier) + 1d6 + combat adds.
    • For human characters, this would mean 2d6 + combat adds
    • This is the same as the Martial Arts rules in TNT Deluxe but with an additional 1d6

Huntsman (Warrior Subtype)
A simpler version of my Huntsman Type as a Warrior Subtype. Sort of like a more combat-oriented rogue or dungeoneer.
  • Gain warrior combat dice only on surprise attacks or ranged attacks while hidden.
  • Cannot wear metal or other heavy armor (or else lose other huntsman abilities).
  • Gain one of the following as a bonus talent: trap-making, trap-setting, hunting, tracking, lumberjacking, survivalism

Artificer (Wizard Subtype)
Less flexible than a wizard, but arguably longer-lasting. Additionally, depending on what kind of spells are imbued in what kinds of items, they can be made to be more warrior-like.
  • Can imbue items with spells.
    • Imbued spells do not cost WIZ to cast.
    • Only Artificers can cast imbued spells.
    • Can only imbue spells of artificer-level or lower.
    • Takes spell-level hours to imbue an item.
    • Must roll SR Luck for wear & tear after each casting of imbued spell.
    • Artificer's WIZ is reduced by the WIZ cost of the spell plus spell-level until the imbued item is destroyed or discarded. If the imbued item is later retrieved / put to use, the WIZ reduction re-applies.
      • Discarded means nobody in the party has access to it. If you give it to a party-member it still affects your WIZ.
    • An item can only be imbued with one spell at a time.
  • Cannot cast spells.