Wednesday, January 31, 2024

New Salem Character #31: Verity Pryor, professional bounty hunter

Verity Pryor

Experience level: 5

Affect/Gimmick: She's a highly experienced professional bounty hunter, relaying more on her wits and ability to predict where an opponent will run, but she also has a mean right hook and killer aim. 

Gang?: Yes, she's the best hunter in the New Salem AAA Bail Bondsman offices, which means she has some back up in the form of other hunters, a tough boss with a heart of gold, and a small secretarial staff.  

Status: Verity is the niece of Raidy O'Rielly, though she is not aware that her uncle does anything other than run a legal munitions manufacturer and security company.  Still, this relationship is enough to leave her off limits from Syndicate retaliation... not that she would ever end up targeting someone higher than Tier 1 without being pulled into something by the PCs. 

Powers: 1

  1. Weakness Detection: In combat one action spent studying a target at 5" range gives her a +5 to hit for the remainder of that fight. Once she has this she will make Special Attacks to the head to knock her opponent out and end the fight. She can also use this to dig through records on her current target for 5 hours and be able to predict their next actions/find any hiding places at one difficulty level lower (save vs I on d% becomes save on I*3 on d%), etc. and can save vs. I on d20 to learn their weakness, if they have any that are in any way known or identifiable. 
Weight: 130               Basic Hits: 3    Agi Mod: +0
S: 16        E: 15         HP: 15            
A: 15        I: 15          Pow: 61          
C: 11                         Move: 46"        
Accuracy: +2 or +7 with weakness detection
Damage Mod: +2
Reactions Mod: +0
Carrying Cap: 263    HTH: 1d6
Inventions: She has super-alloy handcuffs (SR 14), a gift from an old friend in the FBI.  

Background/Origin:  Verity Pryor comes from a long line of soldiers and law enforcement, and while she did her time in the Army she didn't then jump into being a cop, finding the New Salem police force too corrupt for her liking. Instead she moved into being a bounty hunter, tied to a reputable bail bondsman. Most of her cases are pretty simple, but she's the one that AAA Bail Bonds turns to when the target could get violent. I'm not gonna say she always gets her target, but she's got a hell of a success rate. 

Someone might try to recruit her to locate the PCs, but unless they've actually jumped bail in their secret IDs someone throwing money at her to find someone will get her more sympathetic to the PCs than her putative employers. More likely she will be hunting after one of the Pcs targets - the PCs need them for information or vengeance, Verity just wants them back in court. 

New Salem: Renaissance. and the NSR vs. OSR

Nearly done with the first month of New Salem content on the blog, driven at a high pace from TardisCaptain's Character Creation Challenge for this year.  I originally laid out that New Salem was a stab at an OSR style of play, but having waded more into the nomenclature wars of the internet I'm not sure that's the right term. There's so much in the OSR space that ties directly back to D&D or games that ported the play principles over from D&D into other genre environments, such as Gamma World. 

I'm not trying to do that, because for all that New Salem is intended to instill a lot of the PC-driven rather than PC-reactive play concepts, it is still a comic-book super hero setting, and that carries a lot of different connotations than a exploratory/attrition setting from D&D. Hence the terminology move from OSR to NSR. This is very "inside baseball" for people who don't follow this, but it feels better to me. 

So what is NSR? This post lays out some basic design principles, and this one clarifies that a couple years on. For the purposes of New Salem V&V, that means the following: 

  • A GM: This is a Trad-style "GM builds the world, PCs interact with it and learn about it but don't take a part in defining it" style
  • A Weird Setting: Well, but not being D&D it's certainly weird! But also it means the rules of the comic book universe apply - there are the implicit physics of the V&V attack table, but also 
    • Secret Identities are worth maintaining; if you don't you will suffer for it.
    • Masks Work to maintain secret identities, as does minimal effort... unless you are captured. 
    • Costumes Are Advantageous, and not wearing one makes everything harder. 
    • Hyper-Tech Is Constrained and doesn't change the world
    • Extreme Skill, Hyper-TechMagic, and Mutation Events co-exist, for all that New Salem prefers origin stories in that order. 
  • A Living World: This is very true. While the appearance of the PC heroes is the inciting incident to create cascading change in the city, the city itself will change in ways that have nothing to do with the PCs. 


  • Rules Light: V&V is VERY rules light and highly flexible for a super-hero game, at a trim 48 page rulebook
  • Consequential: Super-heroes are hard to kill, but there are real paths to death in play. Plus New Salem deliberately avoids the 'reset to normal' of episodic supers media - there are real chances to lose and have to bring in a 'legacy hero' or just a new PC. 

and focus on

  • Emergent Narrative: Because the PCs are initiating the action, there are precious few times where the villain has a plan, which the PCs have to unravel, with multiple meetings, leading to a GM envisioned climax. Such villains are the equivalent of Wandering Monsters, and they disrupt everyone. The core events are driven by the reactions to the PCs actions, and how they react to that. There's no 'story' that the Players have to decipher that the PCs are destined to survive to the climax of. 
  • External Interaction: The joy of V&V stripped down mechanics, along with its "cause based" rather than "effect based" powers, means the interaction between the PC and the environment not the player and the mechanics is easier. 
  • Exploration: This not so much the exploration of the unknown dungeon/wilderness environment but the exploration of the criminal and corrupt structure of the city. It's the exploration of the enemy. The players aren't going to have to make maps of the buildings but of the relationship web. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

New Salem Character #30: Randolph 'Duke' Heather Winthrop IV

Randolph 'Duke' Heather Winthrop IV

Experience level: 3

Affect/Gimmick: He's the stern hyper-moralist capitalist patrician who in an earlier era would have had all his workers in company provided housing with pay enough to care for a family and immediate termination if you violated any of his moral "rules". He rails constantly about the sin and corruption felling the city, but places the blame on moral failings and a falling from grace of the puritan ideal. And he'll still fire your ass for moral infractions. 

Gang?: Yes, for a guy who runs a toy and game company he has a surprisingly effective security force, bodyguards, and a former intelligence officer as his chief of security.  

Status: He's considered untouchable by the Syndicate, in part because he makes such an excellent foil for them: his money and influence is why this state doesn't have a lottery (allowing the Numbers Game to really flourish), why the track is the only allowed gambling in the city (even roller derby betting is handled by the Syndicate), and his constant loud claims of corruption as a failure to follow good puritan ways makes a lot of noise to cover up the real issues. No one other than Paper Doll yet knows that Duke is his dad, but if that's revealed to Duke, or the world, things could get weird. 

Powers: 1

  1. Willpower: His has an iron hard grip on reality, and gains a willpower defense type against any magical or psionic attacks. His powerful affect gives him double normal reaction when first meeting someone, but his suspicious nature means he ignores other peoples reaction modifiers - he can't be charmed or wheedled. His business acumen is such that he has a photographic recall of financials, deals, and partners (and also the Bible), but he only has regular recall of other things or people he encounters outside of the business environment. 
Weight: 160               Basic Hits: 4    Agi Mod: +0
S: 9         E: 11          HP: 9            
A: 12        I: 15          Pow: 47          
C: 18                         Move: 32"        
Accuracy: +1
Damage Mod: +2
Reactions Mod: +3 or +6 on first meeting l
Carrying Cap: 152    HTH: 1d4
Inventions: He was, as a child, the inventor of the Crosses word game, which is essentially a junior version of Scrabble and sells very well to kids. As an adult he developed a similar game with Bible quotes called Verses, which sells OK but is provided free to church-based day care centers across the US. 

Background/Origin:  Randolph 'Duke' Heather Winthrop IV is the current head of the Happy Witch Toy Company, which is the major employer in the Bowery. His second son, Randolph 'Duke' Heather Winthrop V, is in line to run the company while his eldest son, John David Heather Winthrop took his inheritance and has no doubt squandered it by now. Duke hopes he be home any day and keeps a fatted calf on standby. 

Happy Witch Toy Company's bread and butter is the long standing line of Happy Witch dolls, developed during the 1920's, the games Duke invented, and a line of Beanie Baby-Esque dolls called Aren't You Familiars of cute black cats, green frogs, yellow toads, white mice, red snakes and navy blue ravens. If this seems at odds with Duke's personality, he sees it as using the weapons of the enemy against them. The Happy Witch comics (think Sabrina the Lil Witch) and Aren't You Familiars cartoons all ultimately teach the principles of brotherhood and charity and fighting against evils. 

Duke is not, at heart, a bad person. He's clever and generous and cares for his people. He's just also unyielding and believes that there are fundamental rules... that happen to be the things he believes. He won't attack people for their gender expression as you are supposed to love your neighbor; he will fire them for smoking pot at all or drinking on Sundays because Blue Laws matter. If the PCs can handle that he might make a great ally. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

New Salem Character #29: Ernie Souchak

Ernie Souchak 

Experience level: 3

Affect/Gimmick: Crusading newspaper report on the crime beat, who just happens to be legally licensed to support a Bald Eagle, a gift from his wife in the Rocky Mountains. 

Gang?: No 

Status: He's a thorn in the side of the 3rd and 4th tier of the Conspyramid, investinging their larger organizations, but not too much of a concern for the upper levels. He hasn't turned his attention to the 5th and 6th tiers, though if he decided to focus on one of them he might cause them lots of problems. Souchak is protected by the mid levels of the corruption pyramid, who love reading his work in the daily paper, and also because his wife is is a nature themed super hero Divide. She never comes to the city, but she will if Souchak is wounded, any no one wants to deal with that. 

Powers: 1

  1. Pet: His very intelligent Bald Eagle, Blaire. She always has eyes on him from somewhere overhead, or is roosting nearby him, and can intervene at any time. Use Eagle stats but due to her magical background increase her HP to 20, her Power score to 70, and her basic HTH to 1d8.  
Weight: 220                Basic Hits: 5    Agi Mod: +0
S: 10          E: 10        HP: 8
A: 13          I:  15        Pow:  48
C: 15                          Move: 33
Accuracy: +1
Damage Mod: +2
Reactions Mod: +2
Carrying Cap: 220    HTH: 1d4
Inventions: he invented Souchak Shorthand, which is treated as a complex code when it comes to cryptography. 

Background/Origin: A long time dogged investigating reporter looking into criminal corruption in New Salem, after a warning attack his supervisors sent him on a trip to the Rocky Mountains until the heat died down to do a story on a reclusive nature researcher. Once he found her he a) fell in love and then b) discovered she was a nature-themed superhuman, Divide, who protected the mountains. Eventually he had to return to New Salem, where he continued his investigative reporting, just now with an eagle-eyed companion in the form of one of his wife's bald eagles, Blaire.

Is this me doing the strangest Expy ever by brining in the John Belushi (and by extension Blair Brown) character from the Michael Apted movie Continental Divide? I do believe it is!  The remainder of this month will also be 'heroic' 'normal' NPCs in the setting, but the PCs will remain the only super-heroes. 

Emirikol, Clerics, and Religion

Religion – especially in a game with real and verifiable gods – can be a big part of campaign prep. I remember being happy with the 3E rules for being so much clearer than 2E, which were so flexible as to make clerics easily unbalanced. 3E’s “armored defender of the faith using exorcism and support spells, with some specialized powers based on the god’s domains” was a nice mix of 1E and 2E.

Still, giving the powerful religious structure from Dumas the spellcasting ability of 3E would deform the setting. I kept the religions simple – elemental gods providing boons for sacrifices and empowering their intermediaries, the ghosts of family ancestors, and the ascended divine emperor. In other words, “hey I’d like to play a cleric with powers”, “I’m religious but I don’t care that much”, and “I’m a future Paladin, or an ally of one.” Plus, there are Chaos Cults, to be the bad guy evil gods, who we don’t have to overanalyze because they are chaos cults worshipping madness inducing beasts from beyond. You get it.

My decision to avoid undead cut into the clerics abilities. I compensated by a) switching up who could turn what and b) letting them also spend their uses of this to do other things. I swiped some stuff from the 3E book Defenders of the Faith; while I didn’t want to incorporate every 3E book some of the ideas were nice. 

·       Ancestors: Animal, Knowledge, Luck, Plant. The oldest of the religions, it has the spheres needed for farmers and animal owners, with the bonus of asking questions of ones ancestors. Divine Channeling can turn plants or give +2 sacred bonus to Fortitude saves to your allies in 60’ radius for charisma modifier in rounds.

·       Emperor: Law, Good, Protection, War. The emperor's spirit is the strongest force of stability in the world but has some muscle flexing with the War sphere: they are at war with Chaos. Divine Channeling can turn chaos, which is prevalent enough to not need a secondary effect.

·       Chaos: Chaos, Destruction, Evil, War. These are the Bad Guys. The Cults are agents of the great beasts, having infiltrated many families in Samaria with gifts of madness and promises of power. Divine Channeling can turn law, which is prevalent enough to not need a secondary effect.

·       Air: Air, Knowledge, Magic, Travel. Known for his words of wisdom and power, as well as for the need to travel to learn. Plus, winds power sailing, making him a prominent god on the coast. Divine Channeling can turn air elementals or give you and your allies +15’ movement for your charisma modifier in rounds.

·       Earth: Earth, Plant, Protection, Strength. Solid and dependable. His worshippers make up much of the imperial guard and army, even as the Paladins worship the spirits of the emperors. Divine Channeling can turn earth elementals or give your shield an AC and attack bonus equal to your charisma modifier, for a duration of your charisma modifier in rounds.

·       Fire: Fire, Healing, Sun, Trickery. The goddess of Fire is known for her purifying aspects but has a touch of chaos with the trickery sphere. Divine Channeling can turn fire elementals or give 5 points of fire or cold resistance for your charisma modifier in rounds.

·       Water: Death, Trickery, Travel, Water. The Empire practices water burial when possible, so water is associated with death. The Water Goddess is mercurial, but blesses people with transport. Divine Channeling can turn water elementals, or to add your charisma modifier to your weapon damage for charisma modifier in rounds.

In a nod to Dumas the local heads of the elemental churches were Cardinals, but each major population center has 4 of them, for the directions (So the Cardinal of the West Water, etc.), and the 16 of them together determine religious direction as a Congregation, under the guidance of the gods.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

New Salem Character #28: The Scarlet Phantom

Scarlet Phantom (Jennifer Capri)

Pyramid Tier: 0    Experience level: 5

Affect/Gimmick: She's a big picture thief armed with an invulnerable armor suit and a vibration gun that makes use of the peculiar 'vibrate through objects' loophole in comics physics to be the villain who fills the role of Windsor McKay warps with reality villain.

Gang?: No 

Status: She's hunted by the cops and by the Syndicate and possibly by the heroes, because she makes them look like idiots and because she strikes whoever she wants. 

Powers: 3

  1. Invulnerability Device: her shades of red body armor with a classic ghost design on it provides her with 22 points of invulnerability. It's also pretty effective camouflage in light low enough that humans are seeing in black and white. 
  2. Vibratory Powers + Transmutation Devices: This combined device has 26 charges, a 40" range, and the following powers 
    1. She can attack people with Vibration, doing 2d8 damage. It's her call at the time whether this is shaking them violently or sending them flying (no knockback vs. knockback), 
    2. She can turn up to 5000 lbs. of solid objects intangible - this doesn't have to be the whole object, and you can extrapolate the effects of some of the object suddenly being no longer load bearing. (She's very good at telling load bearing from regular walls for the effect she wants). The object stays intangible for up to 1 turn per level (currently 1 minute, 15 seconds or 5 turns) or when she shuts it off. 
    3. She can easily use this to make non-flying characters drop through the floor, fall through walls, etc. This is an action and attack roll, and normally just strands the character in some open space. However, she can choose to make a Vibration Attack with a carried Transmutation attack. If the first one hits, the target takes 2d8 damage and is violently expelled from the space. If both hit, they take 4d8 damage (with twice the damage mod) and are stuck inside the solid object. This massive damage is often enough to kill normal people, and she can make special attacks with it to destroy the targets limbs by fusing them with solids, rather than the targets have the chance to break out from the imprisoning solids. 
    4. With one action she can set up a vibratory defense that turns inorganics intangible as it intersects with her suit or repels any organic that hits it - basically if the attack misses because of the defense, apply the effect (which is 2d8-Basic Hits inches of knockback for unarmed attacks).
  3. Prejudice: She's hunted by everyone. All reaction mods are negative. 
Weight: 140                Basic Hits: 3    Agi Mod: +0
S: 12          E: 13        HP: 10
A: 16          I:  17        Pow:  58
C: 10                          Move: 41
Accuracy: +2
Damage Mod: +2
Reactions Mod: +0
Carrying Cap: 191    HTH: 1d4
Inventions: She has small, adhesive 'ghost strips' with either remote control or timed application of the intangibility effect.  She has 2 'repulsion grenades" that do 2d4-basic hits knockback to everyone in 2". She has a very prosaic 'invulnerability dome' that covers a 3" radius hemisphere with an opaque, 8 invulnerability cover which hides what she's doing underneath it and protects whatever is inside it (this collapses a convenient half-brick sized block). 

Background/Origin: Jennifer Capri is an engineer at OMEGA and quietly works away on her assignments, having already made and hidden an incredible discovery concerning vibration patterns. So she uses the funds she steals from her high profile heists to set things up for more high profile heists (as well as better than you might think she could afford but she is a single woman living alone vacations, and her extensive retirement funds) because she enjoys it. She's killed people in the course of these but honestly after the first couple of deaths you get used to it. And making the incredibly corrupt cops look like idiots with their narrow physical-reality-means-something thinking is so damn much fun. 

Scarlet Phantom is very clever, and very hard to hurt, and very good at getting away, and exceptionally good at hiding her identity. But if that is ever revealed, she's in soooo much trouble. 

Lore 24: Sudilitas - the threats to the city

Jan 22: Being a military man I have to expand on the threats facing Sudilitas. First and foremost are the agents of the Dark Emperors, angry at the theft of their thaumaturgy. They control the trade routes to Sudilitas from two directions, cutting us off from the Ranks of the Fit to the Southeast. 

Jan 23: To the southwest are the remains of a massive city from before the great upheaval. There are so many secrets there to be uncovered, but a cult of Radioactivists worshipping "the glow" that coats parts of those structures. To be fair, the glows are very pretty on clear nights, but the Radioactivists presenace makes our forays there even more fraught. 

Jan 24: To the north are the Badders, a kingdom in the Holy Roan Empire. Getting the Badders to embrace feudalism was the greatest coup of that offsoot of the Zoopremicists. Foisting that brand of Moreaux supremacy (which was so much better articulated by our own beloved departed emperor) was a blow to the world

Jan 25: To the east, a short distance away, lies the Great Lake. That lake holds the remains of several cities of the Ancients, which only the foolish think were originally constructed there rather than falling prey to changing coastlines. Ragged mutant and Moreaux communities lie between us and the lakes treasures of fish and artifacts; some can be traded with. Some Can't. 

Jan 26: To the west are several patches of forest, scrub, another various terrain each with pockets of true breeding Moreaux like Floops and mutants such as Gren. Our relation with these other communities vary with the seasons and the strengths of our respective harvests. Without the Ranks here our position weakens. 

Jan 27: Overhead? You have heard then of the floating city that occludes our sun for three days in the 7th moon ever year? Some cults of Archivists or trinities of Brothhood or Healers follow its path, but we have heard no stories of anyone reaching its streets or breaching its walls, and it ignores all attempts art communication. 

Jan 28: One Sleeth fulgurator of our community, Slithertongue by name, claimed that he had discovered the codes for entering that place, but demanded... DEMANDED!... that we violate the request of RWN and dig down into her ruins before he would hare those codes. We exiled him to the east, of course. Such attempt of one to demand control of all will not be tolerated. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

New Salem Character #27: Johnny Snuffbox

Johnny Snuffbox (Brice Jonathan Winthrop III)

Pyramid Tier: 0    Experience level: 2

Affect/Gimmick: He's a high society swell who is "cosplaying" as a criminal; in this case he's an Edwardian Gentleman in appearance, stylish black suit day suit and umbrella. Visual image is Colin Firth in the Importance of Being Earnest.

Gang?: Yes, the Drones, who are young men and women dressed in Edwardian clothes (all male clothes) who are in it for the adrenaline and hedonism. 

Status: He's now a known quantity in the city, tolerated by the Syndicate because his handler keeps his 'dues' paid and keeps him in check. Plus he's colorful and not overly violent.  

Powers: 2

  1. Darkness Control Device: Per the book, this has 18 charges and is performed with black magnetized metal dust that he claims is Snuff. His pocket watch contains the controls for complex performances, but the snuffbox itself has a back up system 
  2. Magnetic Powers Device: His umbrella contains his primary magnetic devices for attack and manipulation. It has an effective Strength of 10, so currently 1000 lbs of lift. (he can also use it as a club for +2/+1d4 damage,) It has 14 charges. His waistcoat contains the circuitry for his Magnetic Powers defense, which is constant with no charge or action cost (this makes him feel more than a little invulnerable).
  3. Heightened Charisma A: +11
Weight: 180                Basic Hits: 4    Agi Mod: +0
S: 12          E: 13        HP: 13
A: 14          I:  15        Pow:  54
C: 24                          Move: 39
Accuracy: +1 
Damage Mod: +2
Reactions Mod: +5
Carrying Cap: 246    HTH: 1d6
Inventions: None yet, but maybe soon 

Background/Origin: Brice Johnathan "Johnny" Winthrop was once just a number of indistinguishable socialites across the country - in his case the heir to an electrical engineering company that his father insisted he learn how it worked, hence the engineering degree - who banded together to lead more exciting lives as... Super-Villains. The quartet moved to New Salem at the advice of the Madam (who might have been the one to seed the idea), and became the Stagedoor Johnnies! Paying their protection money to the police (and while they didn't know it, Madam handled the Syndicate) they were able to do anything! Form gangs! Rob Banks! Directly Swindle Old People Out Of Their Savings! MURDER! 

While he was happy to have a gang of Edwardian-themed youths gather around him for themed crimes and thefts, Johnny Snuffbox left the bank robbing to Johnny Dastardly, the swindling to Johnny Charming, and the murder to Johnny Springheel. Yes, they would gather together to do big scores as well, but his particular and generally flashy, fun, but non-violent niche might be why he's the only one of the original four still alive. 

He's harkening for companionship outside of his tough guy and nubile Drones again, and might help Madam recruit some more Stagedoor Johnnies from the country's rich and disaffected young men

Friday, January 26, 2024

Friday Book Recommendations (Jan 26)

This week's reads

They Walked Like Men by Clifford D Simak: This was one of the very few books my father in law ever recommended to me, and I'm not sure why he ever read it out of the stuff he was picking up for tag sales. I had no idea what to expect and initially I was very concerned that it was a coded metaphor for white flight. Whatever he meant by it though, it hits very hard and very topical today in ways I don't want to spoil. It is a 1950s SF book with a stalwart report, his girl Friday, and saving the world via mechanism only a little less silly that Indian Slim Whitman's Indian Love Call, but it's worth the time. 

Tasting History by Max Miller: yes, I did read the other gay man made famous on the internet by cooking historical meals during the internet cookbook. And I liked it! Mostly i enjoyed it for the historical anecdotes and potentially gameable material about food in ancient Rome. Not likely to cook anything from it but happy to have it. I expect the historian/archaeologist kiddo will groove on it 

E-Man in First Comics by Joe Staton and others: So the energy ace has two real series - the Charlton Comics one from the 1970's and this one from the 1980's. The series vascilates based on who's writing it - the original concept was serious enough stories that E-Man would bounce off of in an interesting way with delightful artistic jokes slid in by Joe Staton. When Staton got the book re-started by First in the 80's a change in his has the first few issues of this volume as densely packed parodies of contemporary events and fellow comics creators, the latter of which could get, to be honest, mean spirited. By about issue 7 or so the book changes back to the original design as either Staton starts writing himself or changes to other writing partners. These issues hold up better in my opinion as they aren't so rooted in time. That being said, the pot shots against scientology and 80's fire and brimstone fear-generating grifter-preachers remain sadly relevant. Mostly I'm reading it for the art and the side gags - the whole extended bit with the snake in issue 9 is just comedy gold that my friend Tom and I would quote for years. 

New Salem Character #26: Val-Lor

Val-Lor (Alexander "Xander" Jessup)

Pyramid Tier: 0    Experience level: 2

Affect/Gimmick: Portal Fantasy "hero" who is actually a vain, petty, rogue who stole others ideas and leaving chaos in his wake. 

Gang?: No, He keeps claiming that he has led armies in other realms, but there's no evidence of that.  

Status: An unknown at the time of his first appearance. Any experience he has had has been in another realm of existence. 

Powers: 3

  1. Dimensional Travel C: He can travel to worlds that are explicitly not places in Earth's timeline. His chance to enter a desired world for the first time is I%, and locating one he has been to before is I*4% (so 10% and 40%)... if he knows what dimension he's in; otherwise it's 0%. He can increase these odds by +1% per point of power expended. As it stands Xander only knows Thracia (Greek-Myth Themed Magic Kingdom), Earth (well, the Earth New Salem is on) and The Poltergeist Plane (a foggy limbo 'next to' Earth that people can, with a d20 Save vs. I, peer into Earth at the corresponding location, but failure draws attention of angry 'ghosts'). Xander will often spend all but a couple of his remaining power to get to a 90% chance of arriving exhausted but where he wants. 
  2. Pet: Fury, an enormous griffin. Use stats for Siberian Tiger from rulebook, but give 440" flight speed, decrease initiative interval to 5 (so on a roll of 10 it goes of 20, 15, 10, and 5), and it has magically based invulnerability of 11 points per round and it takes 0 damage from conventional ranged attacks such as bullets and arrows - you have to fight it up close or with powers. Not normally around, it dimensionally shifts in whenever Val-Lor is being engaged in combat. It can also dimensional travel, but see below. 
  3. Reduced Endurance: -11 This is the result of the massive damage Xander took while stealing Heartpiercer; without the sword, his Endurance score stops to 0, and he will be near death and in constant pain. 
  4. Transformation A Item: "Skillful Heartpiercer" is a magic sword stolen from a dark tower in Thracia. When Xander drew it it, it made him Valor, with the form of a barbarian hero but not the heart. Sheathing the sword won't change him back, nor will having it taking away - he has to voluntarily set it down, changing back to his mortal form. The sword itself is +2 to hit, +1d6 damage, as per normal swords.
    1. Body Power - Mighty-Thewed: This increases all of his physical characteristics by *1.5, and if he trains in them they increase by 2 points but only in Val-Lor form. (He has trained once in Strength, his stats are all 10 otherwise).  
    2. Magic Spells Item - Heartpiercer is capable of magical spells, which the voice in his mind calls 'Runes', and has revealed three of them to Val-Lor
      1. Rune of Life Transference: at the end of any turn in which Heartpiercer draws blood, Valor recovers as per Regeneration. 
      2. Rune of Eternal Vitality: As long as Val-Lor draws blood at least once a day, this rune suppresses his Reduced Endurance weakness. 
      3. Rune of Heartpiercing: He can spend 5 Power points to get a +10 on both rolls for a special attack with the sword.  
    3. Prejudice, modified: Fury is trying to kill Xander, for his theft of Heartpeircer from Griffin Mountain. It's just that Fury needs to be the one that kills him, and will dispatch anyone else threatening Xander so that it can spend time savoring the kill. Fury will always find him by the stench of his fear when he is threatened, but otherwise it has a 10% chance per day of locating where Xander is hiding in the multi-verse and following him. 
Weight: 240                Basic Hits: 5    Agi Mod: +0
S: 17          E: 15        HP: 21
A: 15          I:  10        Pow:  57
C: 10                          Move: 47
Accuracy: +2 (+4 with sword, +14 with the Heartpiercing rune)
Damage Mod: +1
Reactions Mod: +0
Carrying Cap: 770    HTH: 1d8
Inventions: His inventions all roll into his Magic Spells item 

Background/Origin: This story really starts with The Thracian, a super-hero from another age who gained her skills and expertise from discerning the secrets of dimensional travel, how to navigate the mazes between worlds, and bringing those back to our Earth to fight for truth and equality. While her identity was never known, journalist Xander Jessup did manage to locate her and, while she lay in a coma, rifle through enough of her papers to learn the secret of "maze connecting" and jump to Thracia. 

There, Like a Lawrence Watt-Evans protagonist, he learned that he was really, deeply unsuited for this, but he refused to leave for home empty handed and braved the great Griffin Mountain to steal the magic sword held there. Fury ripped him to pieces, but just before his death Xander was able to reach Heartpiercer and pull it from the altar. The sword slipped haphazardly out of his sheath, the trapped entity inside decided that was good enough, and used its runes to make Xander into Val-Lor. The mighty thewed barbarian lived long enough to initiate a dimensional shift, and spent months working through the Poltergeist Plane alternating between trying to find a way home and thinking he was dead.  

Finally returning to Earth, he is using his access to the Poltergeist Plane to steal unfinished works or inventions to sell under his own name, but he can't settle down because Fury is constantly after him. When he arrives in New Salem he'll be looking for buyers for something he recently sold, attracting attention, and then dragging chaos in his wake when Fury comes after him. He's not so much a super-antagonist as a thief with a 800 lb chaos monster indiscriminately tossing bodies around. 

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Weekly Cooking Report January 25: Arroz Con Pollo

OK, this week what looks simple is actually a little complex due to two stages of it, but I have faith in you! Arroz Con Pollo is a classic dish that brings to mind Mexico and the American southwest. I have NO IDEA how accurate it is to actual Mexican food, but this version is yummy and comforting and warm on cold winter nights, so that's what we're making 

This recipe from food network is my go-to for this, which may not speak too well to its authenticity but there you go. She says this makes four servings but we always end up with closer to 6-8; if you know you're feeding more people, get a larger bird. 

Of course, you may have to get a larger bird anyway. Trying to find a 3.5-4lb chicken as opposed to a 6-8lb one can be hard in today's megamarts. Given how long the chicken cooks anything you get under 8 lbs is going to be cooked through. If you don't want the hastle of breaking down the bird you can buy either pre-broken birds or just a 3-4 lb collection of parts (thighs would be my choice, drumsticks works)

Shopping for this is the aforementioned bird-of-varying-size (not a lesser known Figurine of Wonderous Power), an onion, a couple of bell peppers, some garlic (which ideally you have in one of the pre-minced or pre-diced jars because they work fine), some long grain rice (rice gets surprisingly complicated but as long as what you have isn't sushi rice you're probably OK) and some tomato sauce. 

You also need a salt, black pepper, cumin, cayenne, and powdered garlic, which if you have one of those spinning spice racks you already have. But if you instead want to by any sort of Mexican or Tex-Mex seasoning blend those will all work too. Not caring if you're authentic opens a lot of options. Put the seasonings into a gallon plastic bag, or bowl honestly. You just need a place to mix it with the chicken. 

So the first complex bit is breaking down the bird: assuming you didn't go with the pre cut option. It's a few more steps than butterflying the duck, and can be intimidating, but it does let you play with knives, so give it a shot. The one minute instruction video is here. Given how large the breasts are compared to the other body parts I will often then cut them in half widthwise, so I end up with one slightly longer wedge and a kinda cube. The recipe calls for the skin to be pulled off, but I don't. Do as you will. 

I know, precision. 

Once you break down the bird toss it in with the spices and mix till the spices are evenly over the bird. Now is the time to chop up your peppers into big pieces and dice your onions into smaller pieces. The big pepper pieces make it look pretty. 

Then heat the oil in your skillet. You want the oil the 'shimmering', which is one of those things that you'll know when you see it. Then put the chicken into the pan, making sure there's space between each piece. This may mean doing the chicken in two batches. 

NOW HERE IS THE TRICKY PART: how long the chicken takes depends on so many factors that you just have to keep an eye on it, occasionally trying gently to lift a piece with a fork. If it freely comes up it's ready, but you can let it sit a little longer if you want more browning. If it sticks, leave it unless it starts to look deeply brown. it's one of those weird things in science where the sticking to the pan thing is nature trying to help you out. When you flip it over it should be about this brown. This could be anything from 3 to 6 minutes per side. You're just browning it - it's gonna cook the rest of the way later.

Once these are done on both sides, move these to a plate, do the other half of the chicken, move them to the plate, and then toss in the onions, peppers, and some salt. Turn the heat down a little, and stir occasionally until everything softens. That'll be about 7 minutes, and stir it once every 30 seconds to minute. No stress, but don't wander. Once that's done, toss in the rice and garlic, stir it for one minute, and then add all the fluids. Then nestle the chicken pieces inside the water/sauce/stock/rice/veggie mix. it will look like this 

Bring to a boil, then take the heat down to medium/low (about 3 if you have a 1-10 scale on your cooktop). Cover and leave it for 30-35 minutes. Take it off heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. 

Serve to a grateful family. It's a protein, starch, and veggie all in one skillet. And if you buy the broken down chicken parts the only complex technique is browning the bird parts. Give it a shot! 

New Salem Character #25: Fenris

Fenris (Angar Angarsson)

Pyramid Tier: 0    Experience level: 5

Affect/Gimmick: It's the World Most Dangerous Game, only he hunts his prey in mentally controlled wolf robot, and transmits the hunt back to the client who wanted the prey dead.  

Gang?: No, but he does have a crew of engineers who help him maintain WORG and the rig. They are all neo-Nazi jackasses with delusions of competence but they are barely more combat worthy than your average man on the street. 

Status: Fenris is a known and respected quantity to the Syndicate. He's not a member but he clears his targets, pays his dues and takes no chances with them. They appreciate that. They've never called on his services (that's what they have the Talon and Aces for) but that doesn't mean they can't.... 

Powers: 3

  1. Transformation A Device - Power Activation: when in 'the rig' he is controlling the WORG, a giant wolf robot. This activate the following powers 
    1. Robot Body: As per the book, this is an enormous wolf-robot that he drives around in a trailer off the back of his pristine Ford F-150. It has the following abilities: 
      1. 0% human (but a very convincing wolf!), 0% self healing. 
      2. Heightened Strength C+18, weight x4
      3. Animal/Plant Powers Device - Mammal: Wolf
        1. Natural Weaponry: +3 to hit, +1d8 damage
        2. Speed Bonus" +70" ground (total speed 29 mph)
        3. Lowered Intelligence: -5, due to lag delay from the rig.
        4. Heightened Senses: His baseline detect danger is as if he had 0 Intelligence (30%) as an animal; can track via scent, has low-light vision via light amplification, and can receive/block radio transmissions
    2. Psionics Item: The WORG to Rig link can also send information to the client so they can experience the hunt first hand (he convinces them that they are directing it, for greater client experience, but they are not - though he can feel what they would _like_ to do and may incorporate it). As an attack power Fenris can direct this at the target as a Mind Control attack that does 4d10 Movement damage, potentially freezing the target in the place for the round. 30" range, 6 uses. 
  2. Heightened Expertise: +4 to hit with the WORG melee attacks, and also with a hunting rifle.  
Weight: 180/720            Basic Hits: 4/15    Agi Mod: +0/-4
S: 13/31        E: 14        HP: 13/66
A: 17/13        I:  16/11    Pow:  65 (splitting the difference)
C: 13                             Move: 44/128
Accuracy: +2 (+10 with rifle) /+1 (+8 with WORG melee attacks)
Damage Mod: +2/+1
Reactions Mod: +1
Carrying Cap:  278 / 11,228   HTH: 1d6 / 2d10
Inventions: He has a top of the line rifle scope that he can use for nightvision and increased range (base is HTH+4/1d10 damage/ 204" range). He also has an Armored Hunting Vest (can roll with double amount for non-special attacks). His Encrypted Comms Rig can be used to summon his support crew to help with the WORG or intercept police. 

Background/Origin: Angar is a great white hunter with the emphasis on white. A neo-Nazi idealist he led safaris for his customers across Africa to experience the thrill of the kill. When his odious politics and obvious contempt for the locals got him banned from most of his work countries, he moved to the States, where he somehow forged an arrangement with a fascist cell working on high tech robotics. That got him access to the WORG, and once he found a crew of people to maintain it for him on his dime he (mostly) severed ties and went off on his own. 

He knows someday he'll probably have to pay back WORG's original creators, or kill them, but so far things are amicable enough. He uses his old client list of incredibly wealthy, bloodthirsty, borderline sociopaths who he can convince to pay him bundles to let them really experience the hunt. it's a boutique and personal form of assassination (usually of business rivals or journalists or other irritants) or just casual killing (that one, right there, I like the look of her, here's a quarter of a million....). 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

New Salem : Renaissance and the Syndicate Structure

Now that we have all the Syndicate members created (as well as a few on the bottommost tier of disconnected villains), here's how the pyramid looks. The arrows mark lines of control, with Reverend Green having direct control of Doctor Black and Miss Wight, and the two of them sharing control of Raidy, the Dutchman, and Strega. 

After that, we start seeing less direct control. Strega (and by extension the Mafia) oversee the Havana Mob, who then oversee people who used to report directly to the Mafia. There are several possible problems here, and they all have to do with Sevite needing to be there to keep Sawshark focused. It's Sevite and Strega's relationship that keeps the Havana Mob quietly in the Syndicate, and Sawshark has is just a little too misogynistic, a little too vengeful and too constantly striving to handle it without peer support.

This shows itself in his placing Calypso over the Cormorant, leading to the latters discontent discontent and the former's feeling slighted by being a goad to the old man (who she doesn't like, but that's not the issue. It shows itself in Handicap's inability to take FAGAN seriously extending to Sawshark: a different line of command and maybe FAGAN might not be turnable due to her irritation with Handicap patronizing her. And it shows itself with Sawshark not making Calypso pull her weight with Paper Doll, putting extra work on Hustler. With Sevite alive the plates all keep spinning, and Strega lets her freind handle it. But if he dies, she may just eliminate the Havana Mob altogether if Sawshark doesn't follow orders. That would be a bloodbath. 

The Dutchman oversees Edward Bear due to their tech affinity, who in turn oversee the Enormity and Aces O'rEights, who have very different uses for the organization. In theory Aces should oversee the Enormity but everyone in the chain, her especially, knows its a bad idea. The Enormity has a growing need to jump the chain to get control over Aces, and yes, that means what you think it means, and it will NOT go as well as he thinks. But he plots. 

Raidy with his time in Asia during "the war" has the best relationship of respect you can have with the Talon - even if they do see him as lacking finesse. They in turn control Coyote, who they see as a brutal, violent, but effective thug... which is the best the Talon can home for from  most occidentals. And to be fair, he is a brutal violent thug. 

Coyote oversees and provides support for Loupe (who he thinks is another brutal, violent thug) and the Enormity. That dual lines of command is a problem with the Enormity, who is already trying to game the system to work that to his advantage and promotion, knowing that when two people are in charge no one is in charge. This opens a real question - the Enormity is a cancer in the lowest tier of the Syndicate who if the PCs heroes leave alone will start to damage them. But he's also utterly vile and the most deserving of getting his teeth kicked in. 

There's another dual line of command, in theory, between Calypso and the Hustler over Paper Doll. Calypso doesn't give one damn about that reporting relationship and Hustler, who finds Paper Doll creepy, handles all of it, with resentment. Still, a possible lever. Paper Doll just wants to be left to his own creepy devices, pay his cut and get his protection, so he doesn't care who he reports to. 

New Salem Character #24: Major Arcana

Major Arcana (Benito ‘Benjamin’ Sforza) 

Pyramid Tier: 0    Experience level: 6

Affect/Gimmick: Tarot Cards, Riddles; his look is an 18th century military officer/warlock at an imperial court. 

Gang?: the Minors;  some people who act as advance agents for him in terms of finding clients, and some who will assist in doctoring individual people's tobacco/drinks/etc. for the effect, and some who act as muscle for him (Swords) 

Status: Major Arcana is an internationally known and feared serial killer, one without a particular territory and one who announces his intentions (more or less) creating a reign of terror when he appears in the city. 

Powers: 3

  1. Astral Projection: He is capable of a form of Astral Projection as per the rulebook, which he uses to scout out people and targets. PR 12 per 1 hour use. People to whom he makes himself visible or audible have to consider magic credible to be able to see him.
  2. Special Requirement: Needs cards (ideally tarot cards, but he can make do with a pack of regular cards) to make his Astral Projection work, and he has to have a spread out in front of him to be focused on. He also HAS TO leave tarot spreads at the first killing of any 3 killing cycle that show the past (this death), the present (what he's working on) and the future (third killing).
  3. Mind Control Item: This is a combination of post hypnotic suggestions and drugs applied through various methods (gas, injection, ingestion) concealed in and about the target that make them act in specific and self destructive/harmful to others fashions. The GM can determine when, or if, this could be allowed in combat. 3 charges per appearance.
  4. Heightened Endurance A: +14
  5. Poison/Venom Item: these are less specific versions of his near magical drugs that attack as Emotion Control and are delivered as gas/contact poison/darts as need be. The specific emotion can be tailored to the moment and comes with illusions A (all senses), and are highly programmable by Arcana in advance. 6 charges per encounter.
Weight: 210      Basic Hits: 5    Agi Mod: +0
S: 13        E: 28        HP: 31
A: 13        I:  17        Pow:  71
C: 15                        Move: 54
Accuracy: +1
Damage Mod: +2
Reactions Mod: +2
Carrying Cap: 942    HTH: 1d8
Inventions: Thee are tied into the specific chemicals and their delivery methods, and don't need to be addressed here.  

Background/Origin: Benito "Benjamin" Sforza was a biochemist until his work led him to muddle with things outside of his awareness. The hallucinogenic madness that claimed him saw him stagger into a street fortune tellers shop and accept anything she told him about himself and his "destiny". Then he murdered her. Still, the event seems to have opened parts of his mind, expanding his pharmacological knowledge and giving him near magical powers with his tarot deck.  

Since that time he has been operating as a hired killer, and a general purpose crazy person. His sprees are always 3 people per city, so anyone who hires him to kill does so knowing two random innocents will meet their end as well. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

New Salem Character #23: The Sphinx

The Sphinx (Felix Catt)

Pyramid Tier: 0    Experience level: 5

Affect/Gimmick: Egypt, Cats, Riddles. He's a classic riddle villain, and needs to share his genius with the world. He's also a roaming villain, not tied to New Salem particularly. 

Gang?: Sometimes. Depending on the gig, he sometimes has a small group of thugs or a crew of professional thieves, who are always referred to as his Pride. 

Status: He's a known villain, experienced, smart, not yet captured, and while the Syndicate doesn't care for him, they also don't really care too much about him. He's not targeting specific people in the city over and over, so they're better off just reimbursing if it hits him and not engaging. Of course some of the more egotistical nodes might get their hackles up if he makes them look like idiots.  

Powers: 3

  1. Animal/Plant Powers - Mammal. He has several cat powers, mostly from just really acting like a cat. Sometimes he appears to have cats-eyes but not always. No one knows why/how.
    1. Heightened Strength C: +8
    2. Heightened Agility C: +8
    3. Heightened Charisma C: +9
    4. Heightened Senses: Catlike balance and nightvision. 
  2. Lightning Control Item: This is as book, except that each of the component powers comes from a different piece of gilded hardwood on its surface "Egyptian tech". These are far more advanced than any traditional electronics (even if when you cut into them they appear to be electronics) and they are genetically coded to Catt (though in theory his offspring can use them). Assume 20 charges. These include 
    1. Kopesh-topped spear: +3 to hit, +1d4 damage with a carried lighting control attack, or can fire lightning bolts to 22" range, each 2d8 damage
    2. Egyptian Bow & Arrows: 44" range, +4 to hit, HTH +1 damage and the arrows carry a special attack to short out electronics, 44% chance. 
    3. Control Scarabs: toss onto electronics for the usual control chances as per the rulebook. 
    4. Pharaoh's Nemes: the headdress of the rulers of egypt, his looks kind of like a mane and also gives him Lightning Control defense. 
  3. Heightened Charisma A: +12
  4. Low Self Control: Has to leave riddles about his next crime; of course those riddles set people up for the wrong answer, but he still has to a) play fair and b) leave them.  
Weight: 230      Basic Hits: 5    Agi Mod: +0
S: 23        E: 14        HP: 50
A: 21        I:  23        Pow:  82
C: 22                        Move: 59
Accuracy: +4
Damage Mod: +4
Reactions Mod: +4
Carrying Cap: 1389    HTH: 1d10
Inventions: He will build specific tech for each crime, usually 1-2 pieces of one use tech. At one point he had a flying chariot, and he may bring that back at some time as needed. 

Background/Origin: Felix Catt claims that as an Egyptologist he found a hidden room inside the Sphinx that revealed to him secrets of Egyptian Technology*. This is likely all balderdash, but hey, it's a weird world. What is known is that he is a world class genius with electrical engineering, riddles, and Egyptology. He used to hold a post at Yale, but even they couldn't put up with this much eccentricity. 

*Stolen from Detective Comics 508

Monday, January 22, 2024

Emirikol Class Modifications

An advantage to 3E’s robust, modular system was that things were really easy to modify for the milieu. I took the Aristorcrat as presented in the DMG (page 38) and added the following, culled from powers Chris Aylott’s Dynasties & Demagogues.

·       Estate Income: In addition to a high starting currency (6d8*10 GP at 1st level or an inheritance of +150 GP if you multi-class into aristocrat) and receives a monthly income of 15 GP per class level.

·       Patron: the Aristocrat can select a patron (with that patron's consent). When the Aristocrat evokes his patron's name he gains a +2 circumstance bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate or Perform (Oratory) with people who would recognize the name. The aristocrat must follow his patron's orders: disobeying severs the relationship (unless the aristocrat makes amends). Severing a relationship removes this ability until the character gains another level of aristocrat.

·       Capable Servants: at 2nd level the Aristocrat develops a network of servants, giving a +1 circumstance bonus on Appraise, Gather Information and Knowledge checks when he can get his servants to do research for him (+2 at 6th level, +3 at 10th, +4 at 14th and +5 at 18th). The The results of the check come in 1d12 hours, but don’t require the PC to spend any time.

·       Word of Honor: at 4th level the Aristocrat can establish bonding handshake agreements between himself and another party in which both sides have obligations. Both the aristocrat and his partner make Diplomacy checks, the outcome of which is the DC of the other’s Will save to violate the agreement, which ends it for both parties.

·       Leadership: Aristocrats gain this feat automatically at 6th level.

·       Authority: at 8th level the Aristocrat gains a +2 on Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Perform (Oratory) and Sense Motive checks with his followers. This increases by +1 every 4 levels thereafter.

·       Raise Troops: at 10th level, once per year the Aristocrat can double his number of followers for one month or for a specific, pre-stated goal (whichever comes first). His followers’ level ratios remain unchanged. This increases to x3 at 15th level and x4 at 20th.

·       Aura of Authority: at 18th level any character who can see and understand the Aristocrat must make a Will save (DC 25+ChaMod) to voice disagreement or disobey direct commands.

Given the amount of social interaction in the swashbuckling milieu this really boosted the class to PC levels, and two of the players immediately adopted it (mostly to get the network of capable servants).

I also tweaked Sorcerer to fit the setting more: the sorcerer now got 4 skill points per level, and I added a few new class skills to show fencing training (balance, intimidate, tumble) and a proficiency with a single martial weapon. This was when I saw sorcerers as obsessively focused fencing/spellcasters rather than the more standard ones that Bec envisioned, but the changes really were critical for the setting.

Likewise, fighters got tumbling and balance as class skills, as well as 2 extra skill points for not having the heavy armor option. Again, driving home setting with minor changes. Jim used his to generally improve physical skills till he gt to a +5 or 5 ranks in them, while Tom was more methodical and aimed for those 5 ranks and synergy bonuses whenever he could. It didn’t unbalance play.

Dave insisted that his Bardic Spells were Dramaturgy, and we went through and tweaked some of the lower level spells to have some stagecraft aspects (cure light wounds was drawing the wound onto a cloth, leaving a blood red cloth that simulated blood; detect secret doors gave a ‘sense of the stage’ or a general awareness of the entire space he was in, etc.)

There being so many little levers to push for flavor changing any one or two of them is not going to break the game in 3E. And the rules only have to apply to your table, so universal balance isn’t needed.

New Salem Character #22: the Cat Who Walks Through Walls

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (Lamont Washington)

Pyramid Tier: 0    Experience level: 1

Affect/Gimmick: 1970's Blaxploitation Hero, akin to Shaft or Dolomite. He may be out of style with today, but he's a badass from another decade. Important are the shades, the big hat, and the leather gloves.

Gang?: No. He's not established enough for that.  

Status: He's a very small fish with a very specific niche, but he can surprise people with his unusual power. He's also using the name of an established villain from another era, which might earn him respect or derision.  

Powers: 2

  1. Speed Bonus Device: +40" tunneling speed (so 40" total). The actual speed is 40" divided by the structural rating of what he's tunneling through, up to SR 13 (which is 3" speed). This comes from specially tailored chemicals that melt a path for him through solids, so it has some secondary abilities
    1. He can make a touch range chemical powers attack 4 times per day for 2d8 damage, but he almost never does this because it melts the flesh off the target and that's not the kind of cat he is. 
    2. He can spend one action turning on a Chemical Powers defense for the fight (taking one of his attack charges), but he can't use this with his Ice Powers Device.
  2. Ice Powers Device (Modified) - Foam Gun: This larger than normal pistol (with hose connected to a pack under his jacket) attacks as Ice Powers at 7" range, coating the target in rapidly hardening air-permeable chemically inert foam. The foam is assumed to be Structural Rating 1 and have chemical powers defense, so it's very hard to burn or freeze. He has 22 charges. 
    1. For damage, roll 1d12 and use that for base damage. Anything that would be HP of damage is then reduced by half, but doubled when it comes to cubic feet of foam coating the target. This doubled damage is also done to the targets Movement Rate for this round. In order to keep this flexible in use it disintegrates pretty fast, losing 1 cubic foot between turns. Each cubit foot reduces target carry cap by 50 lbs. due to both weight and bulk. If the target's moment is reduced to 0, or their carrying capacity is overloaded, they can't move until they break free of the foam. 1 charge per attack. 
    2. He is assumed to have 80 ADR of 'foam armor' at the start of the fight, which is him shooting incoming attacks out of the air with the foam gun. His reflexes will dim and he has to worry about supply as the fight goes on, which is why the ADR drops. Any melee attack blocked by the armor leaves the weapon (or the opponents fist/foot) coated with 1 cubic foot of foam
    3. He can create foam walls, slides, basic geometric etc. of varying sizes and shapes as needed, using 1 inch of movement per cubic foot. The foam is watertight and buoyant.  It also deforms under pressure and can be used to make 'airbags' in a pinch.
  3. Phobia/Psychosis: Obsessed with learning who killed his uncle. 
Weight: 170      Basic Hits: 4    Agi Mod: +0
S: 13        E: 14        HP: 10
A: 13        I:  14        Pow:  54
C: 28                        Move: 40
Accuracy: +1
Damage Mod: +1
Reactions Mod: +1
Carrying Cap: 262    HTH: 1d6
Inventions: None yet, other than his devices

Background/Origin: Lamont Washington is the nephew of the Kermit Washington, the original Cat Who Walks Through Walls. The original had a device that let him enter a ghostlike state, but it disappeared when his uncle did. Lamont was the one who found the cache of his uncle's stolen monies and journals, but he just wasn't a good enough physicist to recreate the intangibility device. What he did do was use the money to get a degree in chemical engineering, eventually becoming the scientific brains behind BTB "better than biped" Shipping, which uses hyper-efficient, chemically inert spray foam packaging to move fragile goods around New Salem. They company is getting ready to go national. 

Which brought them to the attention of the Syndicate, and Edward Bear started demanding protection money, if not a cut of the company. Washington paid, but seethed, and realized that these men must have had something to do with his uncles death. Constructing his own method for being the Cat Who Walks Through Walls he's stealing the protection money he's paying out back from the Syndicate while trying to figure out which of them killed his uncle. 

He is woefully unprepared for that answer. But until then he's a cool cat burglar and syndicate front robber with a unique ability to get places. He's not a killer yet, but he is a crook, and he's got no interest in helping anyone else. If the Syndicate ever catches him, he might run to the PCs for help. 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Lore 24: Sudilitas, the last city - the history of Sudilitas

Jan 15: I suppose a history of the city is in order. It was three or four generations ago the Seekers of the New Dawn arrived on this land and declared the land fit to farm. They built simple structures and crude walls to muster some defense against Badders and others of the Holy Roan Empire, but fared poorly until the Peace Brigade came. 

Jan 16: The two groups saw an immediate advantage in partnering, and that was when the Brigade lay the foundations of Sudilitas as we know it. The defensive advantages of the new city let them hold off the Holy Roan Empire's feudal states, and Sudilitas became the Peace Brigades headquarters in this area. 

Jan 17: Art that point the height of the visible technology was swords and spears, bows and crossbows, windmills and water wheels for grinding grain. The Seekers accepted this level of technology, but argued and bickered over the Peace Brigades new seeds and fertilizers - what would harm the mother Earth, what would not - and accepted or rejected as they would. 

Jan 18: This changed when the Orlen appeared with the Dark Emperors books of lightning science. The Orlen were Restorationists, and the Peace Brigade sided with them. This led to intense discussion and politics before the Seekers split in two, with the more traditional of them - to be fair, the Moreaux not enamored with the Restorationist creed - left to farm outside Sudilitas territory. 

Jan 19: Relations between the departed and the city remained cordial. This was critical when their territory was attacked by a mass of of Reavers, the Friends of Entropy, intent on slaughtering them all and destroying their land. All fell behind Sudilitas walls to withstand the siege.

Jan 20: Still, the Reavers might have spelled the end for all of us save for the opportune arrival of the Ranks of the Fit. The Ranks broke the siege, scattered the Reavers, and hunted them down to the last so their Ergot could not spread. We then took political control of the area, as was our right. The balance of power in Sudilitas between humans, mutant humans, and Moreaux changed again. 

Jan 21: With the death of our emperor, Napoleon Ursus, blessed be his name, the Ranks have fallen back from our most distant outposts. This has left but a Company of we Black Sheep behind as an auxiliary force. We are too few to govern with Moreax in control, so a balance exists between the Company, the Peace Brigade, the Fulgurator/Restorationists and the Seekers. For now it holds.