Kalyr RPG Blog

Skills for Organisations

Another post about the work-in-progress RPG.

Organisations (Everything from word-spanning guilds and legions to local street gangs) are a major feature of the setting, so the game will be describing them using the Fate Fractal. Each organisation will have aspects, skills and possibly stunts, describing them as if they were characters.

This is a draft list of the skills a organisation can have. They’re not the same skills as those used by characters. How does this look as a list?  Is there anything obvious missing? Can some be merged and/or replaced by aspects?

Power
Power is a measure of the amount of direct legal, political, military or equivalent force the organisation can call upon. The precise nature of their power should be apparent from their aspects. A legion will have different sort of power to a city government that can call upon the legion, and both will be very different from crime syndicate which has a bit of “muscle”.

Influence
Influence is a measure of the “soft power” of the organisation. It’s a combination of reputation and more subtle political, social and economic links. As with Power, the precise nature an organisation’s influence should be apparent from their aspects. Religious groups and philosophical movements are likely to have an Influence far higher than their Power, as will merchant companies.

Reach
Reach is a measure of how far the organisation’s tentacles reach. Low reach indicates that the organisation is confined to one location, and their power and influence doesn’t extend much beyond that. Very high reach indicates that they have a presence more or less everywhere.

Secrecy
Secrecy is the measure of how the organisation can act without it’s actions being traced back to it, and how difficult the organisation’s workings are to penetrate from outside. Low secrecy means everything they do tends to be highly visible, and they don’t go in for covert actions or plausible deniability (or if they do, they’re not very good at it). High secrecy means they’re far better at pulling strings behind the scenes, and many of their actions happen in the shadows. If secrecy is their highest skill, it could even mean that their very existence is unknown to most people. Spy networks and underground cults should have high secrecy.

Resources
Resources is the measure of an organisation’s wealth. Not just liquid cash, it includes assets such as land, buildings or exclusive control of some important resource. If the source of an organisation’s wealth is very specific or has a lot of story potential, it should be represented by an aspect. And organisation’s wealth should be reflected in the standard of living of their membership from their leadership down to the rank and file. If it isn’t, there’s a story there, and therefore an aspect.

Knowledge
Knowledge is the measure of what the organisation knows, and how good it is at finding things out. Temples or guilds with vast libraries of information will naturally have a high rank in Knowledge. So will an extensive and efficient spy network.

Unity
Unity is simply how united the organisation is. Low unity indicates an organisation riddled with factions and internal strife, and a leadership which does not necessarily have everyone’s full support. High unity indicates the opposite; strong loyalty and common sense of purpose across all levels.

Administration
Administration is a measure of how effectively the organisation is run, and the strength of internal communications, both of which will be reflected in how rapidly the organisation can react. A low rank in this means that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, or everything is bogged down in red tape, either of which makes it hard to get anything done.

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Nightfall

A piece of short fiction, written as the introductory vignette for the as-yet untitled game I’m working on. Each chapter of the game will begin with one of these short stories. The idea is to illustrate the game setting and show some of archetypcal player characters.

This one’s intended for the opening chapter, and will therefore be the very beginning of the game text. It’s intended to show the social structures of the game in a way a dry info-dump cannot convey.

A young couple moved furtively through the lengthening evening shadows in the streets of the imperial capital, Vohrleyn.

As freeborn and slave, they were not really supposed to be together. Ennar was an apprentice in the Academy of Knowledge, one of the minority of humans in the greatest city in the world who wasn’t the property of a wealthy member of the master race, the kandar. Tuavu, on the other hand, was far more typical of the city’s human population. She was a slave, a household servant in one the sprawling mansions of the kandar overlords. They’d met when he’s accompanied a guild journeyman to that mansion, carrying out repairs to house’s electrics. They both knew, in their hearts, that the relationship was doomed; if either the guild or Tuavu’s owners found out, that would be the end of it, and they’d never see each other again. But they were young enough to hope; that things might change, and true love might find a way.

“The road at the back of Kalan Street”, said Ennar, “There are fewer patrols there, and more places to hide if we’re unlucky. And then we only have to cross Vothal street and we’re right up to the north wing door where you know the word of command for the lock”.

“Will you be safe returning to your guild”, the girl responded.

“I know several routes back”, he said, “And besides, I’ve guild. Once I’m back in the the streets my own guild patrols, I’m safe. And elsewhere, if I meet a patrol, be it another guild or knights, I’m guild. I’m safe from summary justice. The worst I’ll get is a beating. And you know I’ll risk that for time with you”.

The pair negotiated the narrow twisting alleyways without problem. The few people they encountered, kandar or human, were too preoccupied with their own affairs to notice two young humans doing nothing to draw attention to themselves. All that remained was to cross one busy street, and Tuavu would be home and safe. After which Ennar was streetwise enough to look after himself and get home safely.

Ennar scanned the street. A fair bit of pedestrian traffic, kandar out for evening stroll, a few humans scurrying on errands. They were in noble territory now, the streets patrolled by clan knights rather than guild security. A massive power-waggon, one of the machines built and maintained by Ennar’s guild, rumbled past on its eight fat wheels. Presumably carrying some valuable cargo up from the harbour, it manoeuvred to one side to let a tram pass in the opposite direction.

“Now”, said Ennar, as the tram clattered off into the distance.

The knight seemed to appear out of nowhere. In his multi-coloured ulsoghir-hide armour and plumed helm, he was the last thing they wanted to meet. An adult kandar standing a head taller than the average human, he towered over the pair. He drew his narvork sword as he stepped forward across the road to challenge them.

“So what have we here?”, he said, “Escaped slaves? Or would-be thieves? Who do you belong to? Answer now!”

“I’m guild”, said Ennar, making sure the stylised meshed gears and lightning insignia on his sleeve than denoted his guild was clearly visible, “Let us pass. We mean no trouble”.

“Not so fast!”, he said, “what about her? I see no guild label. Why should I not cut her down as the street rat she is?”. And with those words he slapped her in the side of the neck with the flat of his sword, leaving her sprawling in the dust.

“No” cried Ennar. The knight raised his sword again. But before he could slay the girl, if that really was his intention, a piercing whistle cut through the scene. The knight hastily stepped back, narrowly avoiding being run down by another tram, this one a train of four empty vehicles lashed together, returning to the depot at the end of the day.

Once it had passed between them and the knight, Ennar and Tuavu were nowhere to be seen.

- – - – -

At that same moment, within the house of Kordath Ardreyr, the very place to which Tuavu has been attempting to return, one of the kandar ladies of the house was entertaining a visitor.

“So, cousin. Tell me about your travels”, asked Asnelina d’n Zuvara Ardreyr.

“Where would you like me to start”, replied the visitor, a young kandar man named Elneyr d’n Lendol Ardreyr.

“Tell me about the places you’ve travelled to”, Asnelina said, “What are the cities of the north like? Have they really fallen into barbarism as people say, now that they’re no longer a part of the empire?”.

“Don’t believe all you hear”, he replies, “They still have their kandar lords ruling the cities. Humans have more freedom there, it is true, and there are many more of them, but the cities still belong to we kandar. The guilds like The Academy of Knowledge and The Academy of The Mind do not stop at the borders of the empire. Neither do the merchant companies, the purpose of my travels”.

“So the north is really the same as here, only colder?”.

“Not quite”, Elneyr replies, “The cities are far apart, and once you get north of Calbeyn the lands between are empty of civilisation, occupied by feral human, vordral, sssraa, and worse. You only travel the roads in large, well-defended groups”.

Asnelina shuddered.

“Anyway”, he said, “What’s been happening here in Vohrleyn while I’ve been away?”

“The usual”, she replied, “Plots, and rumours or plots. Everyone accusing everyone else of either plotting to overthrow the emperor, or spying for Karmork. Or both. Four Karmorki spies beheaded in front of the citadel last week”.

“Serious, then?”.

“His spymaster and the psionics seem to think so”, she replied, “Word is that they had all four mind-reamed to establish guilt. One was even a high-ranking wizard himself”.

“Karmork worries a lot of people in the north too”, said Elneyr, “Plenty of Karmorki ships at Ravenah. The merchants would trade with them, but never trusted them. And they’re worried about Karmork in Calbeyn especially. Karmork sympathisers amongst the opponents to that city-lord they’ve got there, who’s far too tolerant of humans. If Calbeyn were to fall to Karmork, they would control all trade between the empire and the north”.

“Will that really affect us?”, Asnelina asked, “What does it matter here what happens in the north?”

“It will more than inconvenience a lot of merchant companies, including mine”, came the reply, “Trust me on this. There will be war between Karmork and the empire in our lifetimes. The more powerful we allow them to get, the harder it will become for us to defeat them. From what you say about those executions, the way may already have started. It’s just that nobody calls it a war yet”.

“Are you so sure of that?”, she asked, “Karmork is far far away, and our legions are strong. They would surely resist a direct invasion? The emperor surely has a far bigger problem with rivals from within. There are plenty within our clan who seek the throne, and might not be prepared to wait until he dies. And Clan Alkurvil would love to take back the throne from our clan”.

“And those divisions are precisely what Karmork will exploit”, Elneyr responded.

Both heard a muffled crash, as if a heavy object had fallen in a distant part of the building.

“What was that?”, said Asnelina,

Then all the lights went out.

- – - – -

Tuavu and Ennar had taken a long circuitous route after that encounter with the knight, looping back through guild territory and dodging at least one patrol, before they finally managed to reach the door to the north wing of the mansion where Tuavu worked as a slave.

Tuavu saw the crumpled form first, lying right by the door. An armoured kandar, lying in pooling blood, his sword dropped on the ground beside him, and the plumed helm rolled across the narrow street, exposing long hair dyed in black and gold streaks. They had both seen that helm before. Behind him, the door lay open, the word-lock shattered and burned.

Ennar turned the body over to expose his face. It was indeed the same knight they’d encountered in very different circumstances a short while before. Now he was dead or at least dying from massive wound in the chest made by some weapon that had burned though his armour.

The knight opened his eyes and tried to speak.

“You… you must stop…”, he said, weakly, every word an effort.

“What happened?”, asked Tuavu, “Who did this?”.

“Come to kill. Must warn…”. With those words, his head fell back, and the knight died.

“Assassins”, said Ennar, “In your master’s house”.

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Fate Core Psionics – Take Two

Take two of my Fate Core psionics draft, following feedback from various sources to the first draft I posted a couple of days ago.

I’ve reduced the skills to from ten to five by merging the three “mind” skills into one, ditto the three perception-type skills, and made matter manipulation into a stunt rather than a skill it’s own right. At the moment I’m not 100% sure about the Psychic Senses skill. It may need some of the “big” uses split out into stunts, but not sure which ones, and don’t want to leave the core skill too underpowered.

Psionics are extras; requiring a dedicated aspect defining the nature of a character’s powers, and one refresh for each skill.

The basic skills can be used for three of the four standard FATE actions, Overcome Obstacle, Create Advantage and Defence. An additional stunt is required to use any skill as an attack.

Telepathy

Covers sending projecting your own thought and emotions, along with sensing and influencing the thoughts of others.

Overcome obstacle
Communicate silently and privately with another willing (or at least not actively unwilling) person at a distance. Communication with another telepath is easier and faster, but two-way communication with non-telepaths can still take place with the non-telepath subvocalising replies.

Create Advantage
Read strong surface thoughts or determine emotional state of a target, or project emotions or plant suggestions in the target’s mind. Or even send distracting thoughts and images.

Defence
Read attacker’s surface thoughts so you know what they’re going to do and can counter their attack, or by mentally disrupting the attack itself.

Telepathy Stunts

Mental Blast
Use Telepathy for a direct mental attack, overloading their brain with static. Take them out and they’re knocked unconscious.

Mind Control
Use Telepathy for a direct mental attack, with the objective of taking control of their mind, If you take out your opponent in mental combat, they become a puppet under your control. You need to make another roll each time you try to force them to act against their nature, and they break free from your control if you fail the roll.

Mind Reading
Use Telepathy for a direct mental attack with the intention of reading their mind. If you take out your opponent in mental combat, you can search through their memories, rolling for each piece of information.

Psychic Senses

The ability to project senses into the past, present and future.

Overcome Obstacle
Passive “danger sense” that can give warning that something bad (like an ambush) is about to happen. Detect any actual use of psionics within range. Project your senses to see, hear or otherwise sense things a distance away.

Create Advantage
Create predictions as as Aspects on a target (or just “the future”) which can then be tagged. Persistant aspects stick around until either the foretold event comes to pass, or is prevented. Psychometry to determine one of an item or location’s Aspects.

Defence
Predict attacker’s moves in advance in time to counter them

Psychokinesis

The power of Mind Over Matter

Overcome obstacle

Anything that needs physical things to be lifted or moved. Difficulty based on a combination of weight, size and distance.

Create Advantage
Create obstacles, disarm, throw opponents off-balance, whatever…

Defence
Foil a physical attack

Psychokinesis Stunts

Psychokinetic Attack
An attack that causes physical damage to opponent, e.g psychokintically hurling rocks at them or throwing your opponent into the scenery.

Matter Manipulation
Destroy or alter unliving things by altering their chemical properties.

Lightsculpt

The power to manipulate light and create illusions

Overcome Obstacle
Conceal objects or people. Or for something completely different, use illusions for entertainment.

Create Advantage
Distract opponent with illusions

Defence
Distract opponent with illusions

Lightsculpt Stunts

Shock and Awe
Create an illusion sufficiently realistic and frightening that it causes mental shock, and counts as an attack.

Body Control

The power of Mind over Body

Overcome obstacle

Heal injuries to yourself and others.

Create Advantage
Push yourself past normal limits for feats of strength or endurance

Defence
You can soak up injuries

Body Control Stunts

Cause Injury
An attack cause physical hard to an opponent, essentially healing in reverse. Opponent must be in the same zone as you.

Advanced Stunts

These stunts require more than one skill as pre-requisites.

Energy Blast
Requires both Psychokinesis and Lightsculpt. Create a bolt of energy (fire, lightning, whatever) as a ranged attack.

Mindswitch
Requires Telepathy with the Mind Control stunt, and Body Control. You can swap minds with an opponent you’ve taken out in mental combat.

Shapechange
Requires both Lightsculpt and Body Control. You can change your appearance into that of another being. You don’t change size, and do not gain any special abilities of the new body shape unless you can simulate them with another power.

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Psionics for Fate Core

Yes, I know the RPG project has been on the back-burner for a long, long time. I haven’t completely abandoned it, and here are some thoughts on revising psionics to be more compatible with Fate Core.

I originally based the powers in the setting on the metapsychics of Julian May’s Pliocine Exiles saga, with the power level scaled back, since the setting is more pulpy science-fantasy than four-colour superheroics. Since the setting came from a long-running GURPS game from way back when there’s probably still a fair bit GURPS Psionics in it’s DNA too.

My original intention (from a draft that pre-dated Fate Core) was to avoid stunts entirely and represent psionic powers with skills. I came up with a list of skills representing different “powers”. Now I’m thinking in terms or making the more powerful applications of psionics into stunts based on those skills, and if possible reducing the number of skills in the process. The idea is that skills on their own can be used for Overcome Obstacle, Create Advantage or Defence (three of the four standard actions in Fate Core), but you need a stunt to used any power forAttacks.

I’ve taken my original psionic skill list and listed Fate Core actions attached to each one.

So, two questions. First, do any of these look overpowered or unbalancing as they stand? And second, which of these could be collapsed into fewer skills (such as merging the three “Mind” skills into a single “Telepathy” then breaking out the attack modes into stunts?)

Mind Control
Attack – Direct mental attack, taken out results in a puppet under your control
Overcome Obstacle – Control someone you’ve taken out.
Create Advantage – Project emotion or plant a suggestion in the target’s mind which you can then use to your advantage.
Defence – Foil a physical or mental attack

Mind Reading
Overcome Obstacle – Listen to another person subvocalising to communicate privately without being overheard. Read thoughts and memories of someone you’ve already taken out by mental attack
Attack – Direct mental attack, taken out lets you read their mind as Overcome Obstacle.
Create Advantage – Read strong surface thoughts or emotional state of target which you can use to your advantage.
Defence – Read attacker’s surface thoughts so you know what they’re going to do and can counter their attack.

Mindspeech
Overcome Obstacle – Speak to another person a significant distance away; communicate privately without being overheard.
Create Advantage – Send thoughts or images to an opponent to distract or confuse them to your advantage
Attack – Direct mental attack, taken out knocks the target unconscious.
Defence – Send thoughts or images to distract or confuse your opponent and disrupt their attack.

Precognition
Overcome Obstacle – Passive “danger sense” that can give warning that something bad (like an ambush) is about to happen.
Create Advantage – Create predictions as as Aspects which can then be tagged.
Defence – Predict attacker’s moves in advance in time to counter them

Psychometry
Overcome Obstacle – Learn something about past of an item or location
Create Advantage – Determine one of the item or location’s Aspects

Clairsentience
Overcome Obstacle – Project your senses to see, hear or otherwise sense things a distance away.

Psychokinesis
Overcome obstacle – Anything that needs physical things to be lifted or moved.
Attack – Physical attack on a target (anything that can cause injury)
Defence – Foil a physical attack
Create Advantage – Create obstacles, disarm, throw opponents off-balance, whatever…

Lightsculpt
Attack – Create illusions that frighten and cause shock for mental damage.
Defence – Distract opponent with illusions
Create Advantage – Distract opponent with illusions
Overcome Obstacle – Conceal objects or people. Or for something completely different, use illusions for entertainment.

Matter Manipulation
Overcome Obstacle – Destroy or create things by altering their chemical properties
Attack – Physical attack to cause injury either attacking the body directly or altering their environment
Create Advantage – Altering the environment to give you an advantage
Defence – Altering the environment to make you harder to attack.

Body Control
Overcome obstacle – Heal injuries to yourself and others.
Attack – Cause physical hard to an opponent, essentially healing in reverse.
Defence – Soak up injuries
Create Advantage – Push yourself past normal limits for feats of strength or endurance.

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FATE Core vs. The Kalyr RPG

Now that FATE Core is out there, I’m wondering what to do with the FATE-based game I’ve had in the works for ages. It’s been on the back-burner of late, but maybe now is the time to pick up the project again.

For those of you unfamiliar with the project, the game is optimised for play-by-post rather than tabletop gaming, and as such some of the mechanics are streamlined and simplified. The setting comes from my long-running science-fantasy game I’ve been running online for years, heavily influenced by the novels of Jack Vance, amongst others.

The most significant changes are:

  • No Stunts. I’ve got a few tweaks to the skill system to allow for things like specialisations, and slightly expanded the role of Aspects.
  • Combat used the old Fudge-style simultaneous rounds rather than the alternate rounds of more recent builds of Fate, resulting in combat that’s round-based rather than turn-based. I find this works better for asynchronous play across multiple time zones.
  • No stress tracks. Losing a round in combat goes straight through to consequences. This speeds up combat, which would otherwise be too slow.

FATE Core has redefined a lot of game terms, for example, “Manoeuvres” have become “Create an Advantage”, and the game text needs to be revised to be consistent with this.

At the moment I’m keeping the simultaneous combat rounds and lack of stress tracks. Stunts on the other hand, I’m still not completely sure about. Early drafts included Stunts, later drafts removed them (Awesome Adventures was an influence here). FATE Core, along with every other FATE game I’ve read with the exception of Awesome Adventures, makes Stunts an important part of the game, which makes me think I ought to revisit this decision. Again.

And the game still needs a catchy and evocative name…

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Vignettes and Implied Setting

I’m posting most of my RPG-related posts over on the RPG blog, but I thought I’d post one here. It’s an introductory vignette/teaser I wrote for a playtest PBeM a year or so ago. I think it gives a lot of flavour of the both the setting, and the specific adventure.

Within the ancient stone walls of Ardryr House, the kandar overlord Zartheyn Tyr has summoned his chief of security.

“So, Valneth”, said Zartheyn, “It is six days since we last spoke.  Please update me on the security situation”.

“The rebels attacked us again last night”, the knight replied.

“And?”, Zartheyn asked, “What damage this time?”.

“My militia gave a good account of themselves”, said Valneth.

“You have not answered my question”. Zartheyn tried to suppress his rising anger.

“They.. attacked the village at Gavius Hill”, the knight replied, “Set fire to the barns using flamelances.  And some farm workers are missing.  My men extinguished the fires, and saw the rebels off”.

“Flamelances again?”, said Zartheyn, “We’re not up against regular feral humans, are we?  They sound like legion deserters to me.  Or worse.

Zartheyn let out an audible sigh.  Valneth was his half-brother, after all, and ties of blood within the clan are supposed to run strong.  He’d be in trouble with the elders if he dismissed him without good cause.  But Valneth was so clearly not up to the job.

And the rebels did have to attack Gavuis Hill, of all places.  It was almost as if they *knew*.

“It is probably fortunate that I have persuaded the legion to step up their border patrols”, Zartheyn continued, “I am expecting reinforcements to arrive tomorrow, and expect your full co-operation”.

“Will there be humans in the patrols they send”, asked the knight.

“They’re from Calbeyn, so that is to be expected”, Zartheyn responded, “And don’t look so disgusted.  They tell me they’re sending veterans from the Zughru wars, so they’re men, kandar and human, who know how to fight.  And I’m summoning their commanding officer here as soon as he arrives so that you and I can brief then on the situation.  Understood?  Good?”

“Yes, brother”, Valneth replied, as he turned to leave.

- – - – - – - -

“So, what have we learned?”, Brogan asked his fellow across round the campfire, “Are the Academy of Life just growing bigger and better turnips, or is there something more sinister going on?”.

“Perhaps the turnips are the sinister goings on?”, asked Qeelu, the solidly-built woman who acted as his second-in command.  “Perhaps those rumours really are true”.

Brogan laughed. “What?  Turnips that render humans infertile?”

“Don’t dismiss it out of hand”, Qeelu responded, “We don’t really understand the magic of the Academy of Life.  Our reconnaissance did pick up a lot of Academy of Life comings and goings to and from the village”

“And the barns we torched were full of turnips”, added Grodd, a small wiry man who acted as the scout for the group.  “We all know how the kandar fear the rate at which we breed”.

“You’re both expecting me to believe this nonsense”, snorted Brogan, “Turnips are cover; they have something nastier in the works”.

“Which we’re not going to find out about unless we raid their research complex at Guvil Bridge, Grodd replied, “Which is too well defended, and will bring the legion down on our heads if try a fool stunt like that”.

“And I’m no fool”, Brogan stated firmly, “Guvil Bridge is off-limits; but I know enough about the Academy of Life to know their black projects are never based at their publicly known facilities.  There’s something going on at or near Gavuis Hill, that needs a stop putting to.  And I intend to find out what it is”

These things are quite fun to write, and seem to an effective means of communicating elements of the setting in a way that demonstrates how they can be used in an actual game, more so than the traditional sometimes dryish info-dump.

They don’t have the form and function of complete stories, because they don’t serve quite the same purpose – they’re intended to demonstrate the potential for the stories the players themselves will create in the game.

So, if anyone cares to comment, what does the above tell you about the setting? Or the scenario? And does it make you want to find out more?

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Whatever Happened to the Kalyr RPG?

A while ago, I started work on a Fudge-based RPG using my science-fantasy Kalyr setting. It got to the point where I had most of the first draft written, and got as far as playtesting it. But there were one of two elements I’ve was never quite 100% happy with. Things have gone so quiet you’re either wondering what happened to it, or else you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Over the past couple of years, Fate has really taken off in a way I hadn’t anticipated when I started work on the game. While Spirit of the Century justifiably won awards back in 2005, the more recent success of games like Diaspora and more recently The Dresden Files RPG have made me realise that what I’ve been trying to do is insufficiently different from an implementation of Fate to be able to justify the game not being a Fate game.

So it’s back to the drawing board. Well, not quite, the setting material doesn’t change, and there are certainly significant parts of the rules chapters I can salvage and rework. The challenge is to find a way to streamline Fate so that it works well in a PBeM context with a much simplified and compressed turn sequence. I’ve got some ideas, so watch this space.

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More actual play – An interrogation

Another of those ‘actual play’ threads from the Dreamlyrics forum.

This scene covers the interrogation of the major villain, Guruinath Zalyn before his superior and the acting commander of the Legion. The two PCs are Kolath, a relatively junior kandar Legion officer, and Hollis, a powerful if unstable human psychokinetic who’s been, who are major witnesses to his wrongdoings.

[GM]

The prisoner sits in a wooden chair, constrained by leather straps. There’s an ugly bruise across his face that wasn’t there when Hollis saw him last. His face is twisted to an ugly snarl. He’s accompanied by two immense Legionnaires, both human, who Kolath recognises as as two of the guards from the Legion’s military prison.

Apart from Guruinath’s chair, the chamber is empty. Everyone else will have to stand.

Lavuyl, the senior Karazthani, takes a small spherical device from his pocket, and places in the floor a few paces from Guruinath.

“Recording eye”, he says, “Everything that happens in this room will be on record. This will form part of the official investigation”.

“This is an imposition!”, says Gurinath.

“Shut up”, says Nir-Urileyr Kavarluis, “You are not to speak except to answer questions”.

“I demand independent representation!”, says Guruinath.

“This is not your trial”, says Lavuyl, “This is your interrogation. You will just make things harder for yourself if you you do not co-operate”.

[Kolath's player]

The tall, thin Kandar legionnaire nodded as Lavuyl placed the recording device on the floor and activated it, relieved that the interrogation would be recorded.

“Requests would possibly be considered, Guruinath, but your demands no longer impress us overmuch.”

[GM]

“Don’t listen to him”, snaps Guruinath, “Can’t you see that human wizard is mind-controlling him? She’s making fools of you all. Known terrorist, she is. You know her brother is in the cells, don’t you? Accessory to murder. Don’t try to deny it woman, you know it’s true”.

[Hollis' Player]

“Let anyone ask the questions,” Hollis said, maintaining a steely demeanor despite the spike of fear this revelation engendered. How much did he know? How much could he know?

“If you fear me so much, I will leave the room and let anyone ask the questions. Besides, if I could mind control anyone, why not just mind control you into admitting your complicity in treason?

“I suppose they could bring in someone from the Academy, who could check for my presence in their minds. Face it, Guruinath; You’re whining is so transparent. You are a traitor who’s been caught, and you are trying to blow enough smoke to conceal your treason and confuse your interrogators. You are so used to bullying everyone to get your way, you keep trying it even when the truth would clearly be best. Who’s in prison has nothing to do with your guilt or innocence.”

[Kolath's player]

His expression did not change much, but he did wonder about the brother statement. Now was not the time to delve into that subject, however; Hollis was right.

Kolath cocked his head slightly to one side and looked at his associate and, yes, friend and he nodded before turning his attention back to Guruinath.

This is a scene where powerful NPCs are in opposition to each other, but I have to remember it’s got to be about the PCs. So I’m treating the it as a conflict between Guriunath, who’s currently down but not out, and the two PCs. The stakes are simple, it’s who’s story Kavarluis and Lavuyl, the two high-level NPCs believe.

So far, we’re just scene-setting, and I have yet to roll any dice.

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Some Kalyr RPG progress

If you’re not interested in the Kalyr RPG or the Fudge system, stop reading here.  The rest of this post will not make any sense.

I’ve finally had a few hours to spare to work on the Kalyr RPG. I’ve been working on the Gifts section of the character generation chapter, one of the sections I’ve never really been happy with.

The end result is quite crunchy – I think the gifts I’ve ended up with are reasonably balanced.  The big change is that I’ve eliminated Talents as a separate type of Gifts.  Previously talents were a crude way to trade gifts for skills, in that each one gave an extra level in four different skills.  What I’ve done now is turned most of those talents into specific gifts, and they no longer all work the same way. Some still give extra skill levels at character creation time, others give a +1 bonus in play in particular situations, or let you substitute one skill for three or four others.

I’ve cut-and-pasted the whole draft to The Fudge Forum to try and get some feedback and comments.

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RPG plotting by Prog!

My online game, KLR has reached a point where I need to introduce some new plot elements. We’ve just seen a major villain taken down in a battle with exploding airships and artillery duels across the city.  While there’s some mileage in dealing with the aftermath and fallout of this, the game needs a but more than that to keep the game going.

So, to try and get the creative juices flowing, I decided to select half-a-dozen random songs, and seek inspiration from the lyrics.  Since I haven’t ripped most of my CD collection onto my PC, I selected the songs by rolling assorted oddly-shaped dice to determine shelf, CD on shelf and track within CD.

This gave me the following six songs:

Rush – Red Lenses

Here we have a lot of imagery associated with the colour red; sunsets, blood, dancing shoes, the Soviet Union. The nearest analogue to the Soviet Union in Kalyr is probably the Konaic Empire.  They are the morally unambiguous villains of the setting.

Iommi/Hughes – Don’t You Tell Me

Am I a sacrifice?
Am I too blind to see?
I’m not a vagabond
I know what is, is meant to be
There is a better way
There comes a time I do believe
There’s a price to pay
I know where you’ve been

Don’t you tell me you don’t know

Seems to be about a betrayal, the exact nature of which isn’t specified. There’s definitely some plot potential there.

Marillion – Easter

The original song, written in 1989, is about the troubles in Northern Ireland.  Made more general, a pointless death in a long-running conflict which needs to be resolved.

Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2

OK, so I can’t really fit teachers and education very well, but ‘We don’t need no thought control’ works in a setting where telepathy and mind control are common powers.

Breathing Space – Shades of Grey

There’s no need to pretend now
We all come in different shades of grey

Moral ambiguity – the protagonists of the story arc aren’t flawless, and the bad guys aren’t necessarily irredeemably bad either. But when I’ve got Nicki Jett as a player character, the first bit of that goes without saying, really.

And finally:
Uriah Heep – Time to Live (from Salisbury)

Well I spent twenty long years
In a dirty old prison cell
I never saw the light of day

They say I killed a man
But I never told them why
So you can guess what I’ve been through
So for twenty long years
I’ve been thinking of that other man
What I saw him do to you

There’s definitely an NPC with a significant back-story in that song.

Let’s see what I can come up with with that lot.  To go into any more detail would be entering into spoiler territory!

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