I've uploaded the images I captured to my flickr site.
Check 'em out!
I've uploaded the images I captured to my flickr site.
Check 'em out!
Long thought to have intellects marginally above those of wild animals, Martians were gigantic lumbering brutes. In its efforts to colonize Mars, humanity encroached on the Martian habitat. At first, they were viewed not unlike bears.
Leave them alone, and most of the time they'll leave you alone.
Something, still the subject of much debate, triggered their rage.
In 2068, more than ten years after the first Mars colony was established, the Martians began an all out assault on the colony. The natives were violent to the point of wanton cruelty. They taunted and tortured the colonists. They attacked with cunning efficiency. It was a massacre.
Stunned by this sudden violence and enraged by the horrors captured on vidcam, Earth struck back. Hard.
For the first time in its history, Earthers attacked beings not indigenous to their home world. And for the first time, Earthers hunted an alien race to extinction.
It would not be the last.
In 2075, the last known Martian was killed. A number of the Martian bodies were rendered into trophies and are on display in several museums. A few even tour on the carnival circuit out amongst the colonies.
The Duarn are a race of comparatively short, blue skinned, stocky humanoids. They are powerfully built. Their race is stereotyped as being marvelous engineers and determined warriors. To a large degree, this is true. The Duarn are gifted builders, mechanics, and engineers. They have a knack for making things work. Many imperial starship captains will not launch without a Duarn in the engine room or at the tactical station or both! The Duarn owned Lungoon Aerospace is the gold standard in Imperial ship building.
They are fearsome soldiers and - interestingly enough - have a knack for poetry.
Prior to the formation of the empire, Duarn mercenaries hired themselves out for Terran military efforts. In today's military, Duarn can be found at every level of the service.
Cultural standards require males to be bearded. It is considered scandalous to not wear one. Likewise, females wear their hair long and always braided in public. Only the female's mate ever sees her hair unbraided.
Like the Bigozian, Duarn are well respected within the Empire and close allies with Earth.
The Duarn have no capacity for psionics.
Character Creation Notes| Duarn have the following abilities:
In church today, my priest preached on the First Letter of Peter. In First Peter, we are directed to be in the world, not of the world. Today's sermon reminded us that we are sojourners - or resident aliens - in a foreign land and that it is incumbent on us to maintain our spiritual purity out in the sinful culture of the world.
Side Note Here: My priest rails on "The Culture" on a weekly basis. One day it dawned on me. I write a blog! Crap! I'm the sinful culture he keeps nattering on about! I suppose with a domain name like EvilBastard.net, I shouldn't be surprised.
I've turned it into a drinking game. Each time he says "The Culture" in his sermon, I take a shot. A mental shot, anyway. I don't actually take the flask in with me, though that's sounding like a better and better idea all the time.
While he only said "The Culture"twice today, he said it eight times last week! High on Christ? No! High on gin! But I digress...
Early in his sermon, he said: "We cannot achieve a life free of sin, but we can have a reduction in sin."
And that's where he lost me. My mind went somewhere else entirely.
The term sounded like something I'd hear in the conference room.
I envision a table full of directors and executives being led in grand fashion by our CEO.
"Sin was through the roof last year," She'd say gesturing to a graph illustrating her point projected onto the wall screen. "Ideally, we'd be without sin - but it'll take us awhile to get there and we will get there. Effective immediately, I am tasking this team with a 20% quarter-over-quarter reduction in sin."
There'd be applause around the room, cheering such an audacious goal.
I'd be assigned to a Six Sigma team in which we would develop, implement, and refine our sin reduction initiatives. We'd target specifc sins at first, going after that low-hanging fruit:
I foresee drafting quality improvement initiatives for Quality Management Committee review and assigning sin reduction outcome objectives to my staff.
"Measurable goals," I'd tell them in staff meeting. "Peterson, I'm liking your adultery numbers. Bondurant, great reduction in coveting! And, Weightman? Way to go on the not killing anyone last week! Good hustle, people. Good hustle!"
Our first year after implementation of the Sin Reduction strategy would be hailed as a tremendous success and branded a best practice. I'd be asked to lead a workgroup rolling out Sin Reduction to all markets.
Industry magazines would laud my brilliance and call me a visionary!
Before you know it, I'd be keynote speaking at capacity conferences and interviewed on Good Morning America by Robin Roberts.
I blinked, reflecting on all of this as my priest wrapped up his sermon. Somehow, I suspect I missed his point.
Folks who have gamed with me over the years, particularly those who've played in my Trek games, will be familiar with this next race of mine. I like them so much, that I had to make room for them in This Empire Earth.
The Bigozians were the first sentient alien race to encounter humanity, even though the Martians were literally next door (oh yes, there are Martians... more on them later). And of course, the humans did not realize what they saw - or thought they saw - was from outerspace.
Bigozians are giant, burly humanoid creatures who generally average 2.5 meters in height. Bigozian's have long, wirey fur covering much of their body with colors ranging from white to brown, black to blonde. Despite their shaggy coats, Bigozians are equally comfortable in either arctic or temperate settings. The Bigozian strength is fabled throughout the quadrant, but despite their great abilities as warriors the Bigozians have embraced the imperial ideals of peaceful trade.
They are renown throughout the galaxy as entrepreneurs, merchants, and salesmen.
The Bigozian people are an ancient race. Their civilized history extends back more than tweny-five thousand years. The inhabitants of Bigozi (Bee-goh-tseye) developed interstellar travel some 3000 years ago. This technological advancement came prior to their establishment of planetary unity. As they were still organized into large tribal units, their goal in space was to conquer more territory and seize resources enough to hammer their tribal adversaries. They fell to civil war. In their distracted state, they became vulnerable to predation from outside forces. Outside enemies led to unification, but they were not fast enough in pooling their resources to avoid the plunder that followed. Bigozi suffered a century-long ecological and financial dark age. They had only recently returned to space when they encountered humanity.
It has not gone unnoticed by Terran scholars that the Bigozians bear a fierce resemblance to the fabled SASQUATCH and YETI. Bigozian archival records have confirmed that expeditionary forces were mounted in the direction of Earth but were reported missing in action. It is unknown why the Bigozians failed to conquer or colonize Terra at that time. Certainly, the Earth was in no position to defend itself from an alien invasion some 2000+ years ago. Scholars have hypothesized that the Bigozian starships suffered some kind of equipment failure.
The Bigozians have withheld certain historic records documenting centuries of looting Earth treasures and trafficking in Humans both as slaves and cattle. Very few humans outside of Imperial halls of power are aware of this.
While it is not a secret, it is rarely discussed that Bigozians find human flesh to be a delicacy. No civilized Bigozian would ever entertain the notion of serving up a plateful of human, but one can dream.
Aaaah... the crackle of manfat in the pan!
Even more disturbing is the Bigozian fascination with sex with humans.
Relations between Earth and Bigozi are strong and positive. Bigozians are generally well thought of within the Empire
Naming conventions: Bigozian names generally follow one of two forms, either CVCCVCVC or CVCCVC.
Character Creation Notes| Bigozians start with the following abilities:
We're all looking to get some serious geek on this week with the premiere of Jon Favreau's much anticipated IRON MAN feature film. As I think about how freakin-assed-cool that movie's gonna be while I sip my coffee this Saturday morning, I reflect on my Iron Man experience from Saturday mornings many years ago...
At the dawn of the 28th Century, the powerful hand of Imperial Earth stretches far across the stars touching the lives of countless humans and aliens alike. Humanity dominates the known galaxy, assimilating cultures and conquering any that would oppose its rule. It is a broad, expansive empire yet distant frontiers abound.
It is on one of those many frontiers that the first game in my home brew Sci-Fi setting will begin... but I'm getting ahead of myself. Over the coming weeks, I'll be sharing bits and pieces of what I have developed.
Today you get a peak at one of the alien races I have written up for This Empire Earth. Please note that the character generation rules were developed utilizing Savage Worlds.
The Ambriidans are a race of amphibian humanoids. When the Empire discovered Ambriid, they found what was initially thought to be a sub Tech Level 0 culture that had not emerged much beyond the Bronze Age. It turns out that while their manufacturing technologies were primitive, their planetary sciences were TL 3.
Ambriidan scientists eagerly joined the Empire (not that they had much choice in the matter) contributing a wealth of insight to the Imperial knowledge base. Ambriidans now serve in the Imperial Navy and in many other aspects of the Empire.
All Ambriidans have webbed fingers and toes and have no claws.
Ambriidan Skin color ranges from golden to various shades of green to green with striping of red and/or yellow to black skin and occasional striping. They can adjust their skin color in moderate fashion to facilitate or control heat absorption.
Ambriidans shed their skin twice each year. Customarily, the shed skin is consumed for its nutrients and spiritual value. It is considered a great intimacy to share one's flesh with another. Usually, the feast is shared with immediate family. Pulerauntane, the Ambriidan Chieftain at first contact with the Empire, shared his Winter skin with Captain Normand - a great honor.
Ambriidans thrive in wet, tropical settings, but can survive in almost any climate with appropriate survival gear. An Ambriidan "wet suit" fits slimly underneath most clothing. It circulates water to cool or heat the body as necessary. Absent the wet suit, the Ambriidan must regularly hydrate in fresh water.
Ambriidan males sing hauntingly compelling melodies. Any given night on Ambriid a chorus of thousands can be discerned singing their mournful songs. Many have commented that the music sounds not dissimilar to Tibetan Throat Singing.
Character Creation Notes| Ambriidans start with the following abilities:
As I have mentioned earlier on the blog, I'm currently developing a far future, SF setting in which one of the player character types offered is that of robot. Beyond the stat generation systems discussed in today's episode, I'm looking at the broader implications of the self-aware artificial intelligence.
If you're essentially immortal, what impact do you have on your culture? Moreover, what impact does the culture force onto you?
Some of the notions I am playing with...
... Despite having won parity at almost all levels, AIs are not permitted to hold public office. In fact, AI (sentient or otherwise) are required to employ dominator chips, which allows law endforcement to "reel' them in as necessary.
... I'm also playing with a longevity tax that essentially prevents wealth from accumulating in any great manner with aging AI...
So the question then becomes if declaring your self-awareness buys you some liberties - but limits you in other ways, doesn't that encourage you to lie? And if you're incentivized to lie daily about yourself never able to be your true self, what does that do to your own values, your perception of self, and your perception of those limiting your possibilities.
Not a HUGE aspect of the game I'm working on, but a piece of it.
Just some ideas I am knocking around...
Last night, I ran chapter two of my zombie apocalypse setting "...And a Little Child Shall Eat Them" utilizing All Flesh Must Be Eaten's Unisystem. You may recall that I ran the first installment of this campaign for my guys back in September and ran another version of it at last month's Fear The Con in St. Louis. I'd been wanting to run session two for awhile and more than just continuing to tell the story, there were a few other items that had me excited.
As you may have seen elsewhere in this blog, I am jazzed about Savage Worlds, a game system that lends itself to very quick, clean, cinematic action. Despite my earlier comments regarding AFMBE's Unisystem, I find the mechanics to be a bit less than dazzling. They are simple, which I like, but they don't have the warm, gooey goodness of Savage.
Prior to the game, I didn't have time to Savage the whole thing. So, I pulled two elements that I groove to in SW: Bennies and Initiative Cards. Three bennies, or benefit chips, were issued to each player. Cashing in a bennie allows the character to re-roll an unsatisfactory to-hit roll. Instead of determining initiative with dice rolls, I dealt cards to the players and non-player-characters prior to each combat round. The sequence of action is determined by who has the highest cards. Aces are high. Jokers are wild. Jokers enable the character to choose when he acts in the round and provides for the opportunity to interrupt another's action.
Also of note for this session, and something that had me particularly pumped, was that it was the first time (of many, I hope) that Josh and James joined us. I met the two Js at Fear The Con. They played in my Zombie game. James played the honorable Farmer whose wife had to be rescued from the zombie infested church. Josh played the very put out Accountant who really just wanted to get back to his office and finish up that stack of 1099s. During the initial outbreak in the diner, the Accountant climbed onto his table employing sugar shakers to lethal effect by pitching them at the baby growlers.
These guys were a lot of fun at FtC. I knew they'd be a good match for our group.
We had a full house last night. Everybody was in attendance, plus our two new fellas.
The Players and Their Characters:
Also on the bus were Heather, a nineteen year-old waitress from the diner and Jenna, a very pregnant seventeen year old.
The zombie outbreak appears to have started with children. They are fast and ferocious with supernatural strength and agility. They are flesh eaters and have been dubbed Growlers. Their bite kills and turns those bitten into the shambling, slow-moving zombies so familiar to the Romero films. These are called Moaners.
At the end of the last session, our intrepid survivors had escaped from the townsquare having provisioned themselves with items looted from the sporting goods store and were motoring out of town in Mr. Badger's school bus. In direct contradiction to Dan's position in Fear The Boot episode 97, I started Session Two directly in the action. Picking up less than twenty minutes from the end of the previous game, the bus, one of those short numbers, was having a hard time of it out on the highway.
Rodger provided me with the image to the left captured at an actual school event and assured me that Mr. Badger visually inspected his bus to ensure no such padlock was present on the bus' emergency exit.
Wrecks littered the road with cars smashed into the railing and into one another. Many of the vehicles were aflame. Bodies strewn about in various states of consumption were not uncommon sights along the way. Mr. Badger navigated as best he could, but the obstacles were getting thicker. In fact, he could see that within another thirty feet or so, the road would be impassable.
As they slowed they could hear the all too familiar moaning of the stumbling dead.
And gun shots.
Sgt Fielder observed three figures running towards them, one of them firing behind at the Moaners in shuffling pursuit. Laying down covering fire, the marine stood in the door allowing The Doctor, The Chef and the third man to enter the bus as Mr. Badger stalled the bus' engine.
"Mother...!" He swore.
Just then, Growlers pounced onto the school district transport...
Frenzied zombie fun followed!
Eight Moaners staggered to the stalled bus, beating at the door and sides, shaking the bus. Additionally, four snarling Growlers hammered at the bus seeking entry. One slammed into the window beside Sean's seat.
"Pie!" He exclaimed as cracks spider-webbed through the window.
Fielder rushed over, planting his gun against the window and firing. The feral child is blown back, the window exploding. Remarkably, the creature wasn't killed...
Mr. Badger turned the engine back over and at once cranked the wheel to turn the bus to the median and over to the other lanes of traffic. At the same time, the man who came aboard with the Chef and the Doctor was firing his gun out the window at the moaners.
Eventually, the boys made good their escape.
In a rare quiet moment on the bus, Jenna remarked to the man who came aboard with Dr Jacobson and Jaques: "I know who you are! You're that tough, smart lawyer from the TV!"
That's right Jim Adler, the Texas Hammer, was right there, smack-dab in the middle of my zombie apocalypse.
When I was thinking about what kind of celebrity might be wandering through Calhoun, Jim Adler came to mind. His onscreen personality strikes me as a Texas good ol' boy who's got a conceal-n-carry permit complete with 9mm strapped under his jacket.
Makes me giggle.
Of course, Jim Adler (the one in my world anyway) is an amazing shot!
Dr. Jacobson shared that everything was fine at the hospital when he left. The facility has lots of heavy doors with locks. Looking for some place providing a modicum of safety, Mr. Badger drove the bus to the hospital.
The gates to the parking lot were closed. Moaners staggered about out there moving amongst a number of State Trooper cars. Trying the service entrance, the bus backed into the loading dock. Dr. Jacobson moved out to the service door from the bus' emergency exit (true enough, no padlock). Sliding his cardkey through the slot, the sensor flashed green, but the door failed to open.
Sgt Fielder heard Growlers. Several of them coming from the end of the dock. And at least one coming from... above.
The doctor retreated back to the bus and called his co-worker who was on duty.
"Hey, Bhargav..." He began chatting with his friend. "...Let us in!"
The doc remained in the rear of the bus with pregnant Jenna.
Sean sensed them. He knew that there were four for them approaching the front of the bus and that there were two angling from the rooftop.
Two growlers bounce onto the hood of the bus, Mr. Badger freaking the hell out as Chef Jacques, Sgt Fielder, and Jim Adler open fire on the little darlings. Exploding through the roof of the bus, a precious little Growler lands in the center aisle - snarling and flashing teeth. A precious, darling boy.
Sean, as mentioned above, is autistic. On occasion he enters a savant trance and can engage in survival activities in heroic fashion. Sean entered such a trance...
As Mr. Badger hacked at a Growler with his machete, Sean gathered up a fire extinguisher and sprayed the precious, darling boy down.
Prof. Pettigrew rushed forward and jammed a burning flare into the child's mouth. This would prove to be the Professor's preferred mode of attack. As they worked to eliminate this Growler, one of the ones on the hood smashed through the windshield and another came through a side window...
Gun shots flashed and flares sparked within the tight confines for the bus.
At last one lone little girl Growler was left having taken much damage, she fled the scene.
All the characters remarked that this was the first instance they had witnessed of a Growler retreating. In previous encounters they fought to the death. It was also noted that the creatures appear to be acting in concert.
The door opened into the hospital and the group moved in abandoning their bloody, battered bus. After a thorough inspection to ensure none of them suffered a bite, they learned that the outbreak here started in the pediatric ward. In fact it got so bad so fast that they locked down the ward, abandoning any hope of rescuing those inside.
The hospital was choked with survivors all battered and beaten, horrified, and hopeless. Sgt Fielder and Dr. Jacobson quickly observed that while the Troopers were on site, the facility was absent any real leadership. Clearly, folks expected things to be resolved at a higher level and were in sit-tight-mode.
Viewing the security monitors, two dozen Growlers were seen stalking the halls of the fourth level pediatric ward. Moaners shambled about.
Dr. Jacobson excused himself to the physician's locker room where a handy flask of adult refreshment awaited him while the remainder of the player characters departed to the cafeteria. The boys were hungry and - hell - they had a Chef among them. Heather, Jenna, and Jim Adler stayed out in the lounge area catching their breath.
Chef Jacques was horried at what he found in the cafeteria. People were gathered here eating food from vending machines. With new found resolve, he set to cook for these people who had been through so much. The PCs bellied up the counter as Jacques set to preparing a frittata.
In the locker room, Dr. Jacobson sipped at his flask full of nerve. A thought struck him. How many children were there supposed to be in that ward? He only saw two dozen... Oh crap!
More than two dozen growlers charged into the Cafeteria mowing though the people gathered there. The player characters dived into the kitchen, pulling down the louvered security gate and barricading the door.
Jacobson, returning to the security station saw the horror there. The Troopers agreed to assist, but needed to gather resources... Not wanting to wait, Jacobson enlisted Jim Adler and the two dash off to the hallway outside the cafeteria.
They had been through this corridor earlier. At the time it was full of patients on gurneys, in chairs, on the floor. Returning here, they found no one alive - all looking as if they'd been through a thresher. Down the hall, the doors were wide open... Watching in amazment, they stared on at the massacre taking place in there.
"Suddenly," Jim Adler gulps, "I don't feel quite so tough, or smart."
The two resolve that they cannot go the direct route... they'll have to go around outside through the garden and try and reach the rear entrance to the kitchen...
Meanwhile in the kitchen, the Growlers were beating the hell out of the door and security gate.
The folks in kitchen retreated out the rear while Sgt Fielder cranked the gas up on the stove and, borrowing a flare from Prof. Pettigrew, tossed it back just as the Growlers breached the barricades...
The explosion tossed the fleeing marine far onto the parking lot, but he emerged mostly unscathed.
The PCs all hooked up there by the dumpsters as the Cafeteria burned. Jim Adler reported that Moaners had entered the gardenand were heading their direction. Most likely, these were the mauled patients that they left in the hallway...
The hospital revealed as the evil opposite of a safe place, the players boosted an ambulance. Before departing, Sgt Fielder busted into a couple of State Trooper cruisers gathering up guns and bullet proof vests.
It was around this point that Gary started nodding off. He'd get startled awake as we dealt each hand of initiative cards. He asserted that he was having a good time, but that he'd had a very long day. It was amusing though to see him jump out of his skin as I retrieved the last hand's card from him.
Driving ten miles away to Washington's, Chef Jacques' lakeside restaurant, they aim the ambulance's spotlight onto the dark restaurant to find a dead Moaner on the porch. They found that the staff and some of the customers were hiding within, lights off. Three of their number had been bitten by the Moaner.
Dr. Jacobson set Mr. Escame down on the bumper of the ambulance to treat his rather significant shoulder wound while the Cardenas' - also bitten - opted to head home. Mr. Badger and Professor Pettigrew were only too happy to see them go.
Engrossed in Mr. Escame's medical condition - high fever, difficulty forming words, necrotizing flesh - Dr. J was taken by surprise when his patient took a big, juicy bite from his upper arm!
Sgt Fielder blew Escame's head clean off. Suddenly, there was an uncomfortable silence amongst the players and the characters. Something would have to be done about the Doctor.
The doctor volunteered to do a walk-through of the restaurant as he could not be further compromised. Finding no other zombies within, he went to the kitchen, located the meat saw, and without asking for any assistance from his travelling companions set about to amputate his own arm. The others only became aware of it when Jacque's kitchen staff started freaking the eff out.
Though the brulee torch was recommended, Jacques employed a hot grill to cauterize the wound.
Attracted by the sounds and the ambulance's spotlight, more Growlers approached. Lots of them. Perhaps fifteen? Maybe more.
The lake! A pier lay behind the restaurant where patrons moor their boats. One of the larger boats out there could handle all of them. It was Mr. Escame's. But they would need his keys...
Mr. Escame's body was lying prone by the ambulance...
Sgt Fielder dashed out to fetch it and was attacked by four of the precious, darling Growlers. The kevlar vest he wore proved to be valuable, deflecting what would have otherwise been successful bites... He wrestled and tumbled with these angelic children as his companions shot at the creatures from the doorway. Sean, entering another savant trance, gathered up a shotgun and fired into the onrushing monsters as well.
Standing near the Chef, Dr. Jacobson bit at Jacques - narrowly missing him.
Josh, playing Jacques, considered for long moments his next action... but in the end rolled and successfully put a bullet in his friend's brain.
"It's what the doctor would have wanted me to do," Jacques said.
I suggested that perhaps his response was a bit extreme in that all the Doctor tried to do was bite him and he was unsuccessful at that. Maybe they could have hugged it out? But no, Chef Jacques' is hardcore. He grants no quarter. You should see how he reacts when someone breaks a ramekin. Take cover!
Fielder made it back without a bite and the remaining players and Jim Adler ran for the boat, Growlers hot on their tail. With only a few near catastrophes they escape to fight zombies another day, death and destruction bubbling far behind in their wake.
I had a blast! Comments from the players were all positive. I particularly liked the bennies. My guys seemed to as well. Initiative cards were fun, too. Both seemed to integrate well.
I think what I like so much about the bennies and the cards is that they are an additional tangible quality to the game. One of the fun things about role playing games that we often forget is that chucking dice is fun. It is a physical, tactile act in an otherwise very cerebral experience. Adding bennies and cards enhances that aspect.
I loved the guys throwing chips in when they cashed a bennie for a do-over roll. The groans when the cards were dealt was also satisfying.
James and Josh meshed great with the group and us with them, too.
It was a hoot. We're gaming next on May 10th at which time I expect to run my new Savage Worlds Sci-Fi setting. More on that later.