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Messages - RadioactiveBeer

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I've been wondering about running some games at GenCon and would be interested in running them for RPPR fans. Probably better than a random batch of players.

RPGs / Re: Red Markets Inspiration
« on: December 18, 2016, 02:48:44 PM »
Bend The Knee: A Campaign Framework

"The new world order is this, and it's really very simple, so, even if you're stupid, which you may very well be, you can understand it. You ready? Here goes. Pay attention. Give me your shit... or I will kill you. You work for me now. You have shit, you give it to me. That's your job." - Negan, The Walking Dead

Enclaves get by, just about, with maybe a little wiggle room for small, stained luxuries - and to pay for Takers to get what they can't source otherwise. But that wiggle room has competition. Raiders, Randians, LALA's. There's plenty of people out there living Darwin. Instead of farming, they run what is essentially a protection racket. Roving bands of professional assholes travel the Loss, preying on travellers and smaller survivor groups. Larger enclaves might put up a fight, but more likely they pay small fees to keep them away.

In the "Bend The Knee" campaign model, your enclave and most enclaves in the local area have a common enemy: Darwin. Darwin is the biggest, nastiest son-of-a-bitch anyone's ever seen in this neck of the woods. Every Taker has some story about seeing Darwin personally rip a Vector's arm off and bash it's skull in with the wet end, or some other badass half-myth. What makes this even worse is Darwin stands at the head of a huge Raider band that travel between enclaves. They say they're keeping trade routes clear of Casualties, that they hunt the Meek and bash their heads in with golf clubs. Part of that's even true. But they're bleeding the enclaves under their "protection" dry with their tithes. Don't pay your dues and the next Taker group that leaves the enclave, funny enough, doesn't come back.

This represents a general campaign frame, with the specifics being up to your own group and enclave. The fundamentals are that Darwin and his boys are a big, dominant force most of the enclaves hate but have to put up with. They're large enough that most enclaves have essentially decided it's cheaper not to fight them - but, of course, player characters don't think like that and are inevitably going to want to fight him.

As Takers in Darwin's country, your profit margins are down and that's bad news. Providers just don't have as much as disposable income to throw your way if they also need to make Darwin's next tithe. That means you need to grift and grab even harder if you really want (Market: When rolling the pay for a job, roll Equilibrium twice and take the lower result. The higher represents how much it would have been without Darwin's depressing effect on the location.)

Next, vignettes work a little differently. Each session, one Taker does not get a regular Humanity healing vignette. Instead, the Market and Taker act out what would have been a vignette involving a Dependent - and then Darwin or one of his raiders comes in and ruins it. It's date night and then here's someone with a baseball bat smashing the plates and asking for this week's cut. These vignettes should serve to reinforce that Darwin is in charge, but also keep the resentment going.

Finally, the default retirement scheme for a Bend The Knee game model is tontine. The ultimate plan is, of course, to take down Darwin and his organisation. But such a job is not to be undertaken lightly. Darwin's crew is large, well armed, has a lot of vehicles and strong defences in their home base. Resources need gathering. Meeting milestones in this model represent actions that would undermine Darwin's organisation (such as sabotaging some vehicles, causing an outbreak in one of their forward camps) or somehow improving your odds in the eventual attack against Darwin (laying in extra ammunition in a secure location, getting the support of additional combatants etc.) Mr JOLS is, of course, the final battle or the assassination mission.

Other retirement options are of course entirely valid in this campaign model; your Takers may just want to get away from Darwin and his raiders and get into the Recession, or even just flee to another state and join another enclave away from Darwin's influence.

Once Darwin is dead (no easy task, bringing down a well-trained and dedicated Latent), the question is of course what to do with the political and economic vacuum that creates. If Darwin's raiders weren't wiped out in the battle, what stops them from just moving to a new neighbourhood and setting up the same scheme? Do decentralised raider bands now prey the roads that were formerly policed and kept clear of the dead by Darwin? Do the Takers assume Darwin's mantle and become the new legendary badass extorting the local enclaves?

RPGs / Re: Delta Green Story Workshoping
« on: October 13, 2016, 10:49:23 PM »
1) A Cthugha story that doesn't revolve around fire or firemen.


Hatha and Sahaja yoga have practices intended to awaken kundalini, the coiled primal energy housed in the base of the spine, often visually represented as a serpent of fire. The idea is to provoke a state of extreme personal invigoration, vitality, bliss and transcendence.

In an obscure mythos-based tradition of yoga, one is not awakening an inherent force so much as preparing oneself to be host to an outside force. It's dressed up with good hippy-dippy nonsense about "awakening oneself to the cosmos" and so on, but basically it's about fooling rich white people into becoming hosts for fire vampires. DG gets involved when a series of bizarre crimes in TOWN X are carried out by people who then spontaneously catch fire and burn to death before they can be apprehended; these people were yoga students who had reached a high enough level to become host to a "kundalini being" - a fire vampire.

2) A Ithaqua story that doesn't revolve around storms, the North, or freezing blizzards/snow.

You know where's cold? Space.

Astrophysicists staring out into the cosmos are making an unsettling discovery; "cold spots" and the so-called 'super-void' that account for billions of light years worth of cosmos where there should be stars, should be heat - and there isn't. In the cosmic horror of Delta Green, these voids are a kind of life in and of themselves, living nothings, embodiments of entropic stasis; even after the stars come right and the old ones walk, these things will be waiting for their time to shine. Maybe the thing we call Ithaqa is an infant or degenerated version of one of these un-things, a small sentient eddy of heat-erasure.

These are philosophical, existential threats, so far and distant as to be not even actually "present" in the scenario; instead it's all to do with the nihilism their discovery creates in the DG friendly astrophysicist who goes to the Green Box and starts opening crates because why not, right? Sun'll swallow us before they do, nothing matters, etc etc.

3) Re: Shan.  Make the Beings from Xiclotl (Shan tree like animal servitors) actually scary and totally distinct from Dark Young.  Right now they are quite boring in a D&D sense.

This is a tricky one because a) as you say, they're very similar to Dark Young and b) they're so tied to the Shan that it's hard to do something with them that isn't ACTUALLY about the Shan.

I think one of the interesting things about the Mythos is the idea of Shoggoths and servitor races, these biological construct creatures. So what if, instead of being merely enslaved aliens the Xiclotl have a function, some biological reason the Shan keep them around other than for muscle?

My first thinking is terraforming; they're walking micro-climate generators that spit out toxic atmospheres that allow Shan to exist in their natural state without needing to hide in a human body. It makes them more interesting and bizarre, I think, and introduces more opportunity for bizarre descriptions instead of "it's like a tree but metallic".

RPGs / Re: Recruitment attempt for online game of DG
« on: October 13, 2016, 09:23:51 PM »
I am a member of this group and I (am contractually obligated to) vouch for his DM'ing prowess! Even if he did throw an Evervector at my face. Grumble.

RPGs / Re: Delta Green Story Workshoping
« on: October 08, 2016, 09:29:18 PM »
So, I think a few things that would need to be hammered out first off would be:

1) Location. A nationwide rash is unsettling, sure, but it's also not very easy to build an investigation or a session around. I'd recommend centring the "clown infestation" in one state, county or even town in particular to make it easier to get your player characters to the right place at the right time.

2) Agency. While Cowboy DG will send basically anyone anywhere because they don't the resources to be picky, Program DG will probably tap select agents for the job. So the question is what agencies are likely to be the ones DG would send? Is a mixed party okay or should there be, say, a strong CDC presence in case Clownitis is contagious?

3) The Inciting Event. Guys in clown suits is creepy, but it's not Delta Green's kind of creepy. There's nothing inhuman or supernatural about a man in costume. So there needs to be something more to the clowns that would get a government conspiracy that investigate the supernatural involved. What piece of weird found footage leaks on YouTube before our boys at the NSA snatch it down and use it as a briefing material? Does the clown's mouth open too wide, and in too many directions? Instead of teeth, does its mouth seem to instead contain the star-stained void of the outer cosmos?

4) Okay, here's where we get more into digging into the Lovecraftian interpretation of "creepy clown". Now, where my head goes is that a lot of the horror around clowns comes from the uncanny valley effect in that they're human-like but rendered just inhuman enough (clothes alter their apparent proportions, faces made confusing by painting one expression over another) so you could say that a clown-monster is how the human brain processes and justifies... something that looks KIND OF humanoid but with weird proportions and with a face that is at once static and mobile, as if a face that is at once smiling and sad. Like how in Under The Pyramids, the monster Houdini sees inspires the Sphinx not because it literally looks like a sphinx but because it has "lion-like" qualities at the same time as "human-like" and "eagle-like" ones and the sphinx was how people held those ideas in their head at the same time without the truth of Whatever It Was making something snap inside. Perhaps the Clowns are, in fact, some hominid offshoot ala the Kn Yan or Tcho-Tcho? But with the alien-ness dial turned way up.

OOH, this just came to me: the Clowns want to be seen. They need affirming in this reality. What if they're from Outside, some alternate universe or cosmic otherworld, and are trying to quantum tunnel their way into our reality? Something like a Hound of Tindalos, occupying more or less the same dimensional-predator ecosystem but at a different level and with different tactics. They appear human-ish because that's the closest analogue we have, their proportions are weird and their expressions conflict because they are existing in quantum superstates of tall/short and happy/sad. 

RPGs / Re: Red Markets Online Gaming Group
« on: October 02, 2016, 10:29:10 PM »
Seconding the points about listening to the AP's - it's a good way to internalise how the game should "flow" and "feel", as wanky as those terms are. Brutalists uses an older rules iteration, but the negotiation mechanics it uses are basically identical.

As for job lines, I think the GM section does a fairly good job of breaking down all the important bits and rolling up a basic framework is easy. When I was running an IRL demo game it was an hour's work on a laptop in a Starbucks to churn out the basics of three jobs (services, prices, competition, legs and complications) with fleshing out taking a little longer but being a pretty painless process. The main issue is probably just navigating the very early document. Also, listening to the (many, many) podcasts will help you get an idea of what sort of thing a job could be and, again, how you can structure things etc.

(I'm actually working on a bundle of 'demo jobs' right now, which Aletha has been giving me some great help on, for exactly this purpose. If you'd like I could PM you a Google Doc link.)

General Chaos / Re: Image Thread
« on: October 01, 2016, 03:51:01 PM »
I'm the child on the far left with the massive arm.

Role Playing Public Radio Podcast / Re: The Mitchum Cleary Time Loop?
« on: September 09, 2016, 11:06:31 PM »
And "Lucille" is the name of Grandma Scorch - perhaps in After the Bomb we see where Mr. Cleary develops an affection for Lucille?

Role Playing Public Radio Podcast / Re: The L5R Loan Offer
« on: September 07, 2016, 11:20:51 PM »
Also, 4e books are super pretty.

I've run a few campaigns of L5R and, yeah, there's a lot of lore to dig through but like a like of games with rich settings it's very much a matter of which parts you think are cool and important to focus on more than anything.

Often the problem I ran into when coming up with ideas for L5R games was time periods; the metaplot kind of 'starts' around the tenth or twelfth century and then shit gets crazy. So a common technique I had for running games was setting it a couple hundred years ahead of "canon" in a time of nebulous and uneasy peace between all of the Clans, save for the shit I wanted stirred and some of the "fundamental" conflicts (the Crab and Crane hate each other, the Unicorn are weird, the Spider twirl their moustaches etc).

Alternatively, a campaign model I came up with that might be useful revolves around picking one tiny lore strand and saying "fuck the rest of it". This lets you focus tightly on one particular aspect of the setting without getting too overwhelmed. One game I came up with using this principle went like this:: A Minor Clan called the Bat Clan are created relatively recently in the history as thanks to a shaman; the shaman channelled the spirit of the Emperor's sister, allowing him to get closure and say farewell. The shaman, Koumori, is given a previously-uninhabited tropical island in the Islands of Spice and Silk to call his own and set up his castle. The game was about the foundation and establishment of this small clan on a hostile island whose woods are full of carnivores and worse - for the reason Koumori chose that island in particular is because the wall between realms are thin and spirits are common. So a lot of the conflict started very human and small-scale, people struggling to survive in a new place and building relationships, then worked in some more abstract notions of "proving themselves" and carving out the clan's wider identity and role, and then further into the setting's cosmology through the Spirit Realms. But being on a small island out in the ocean we didn't get into inter-clan politics, the Shadowlands and so on.

RPGs / Re: Watcha gonna do? Delta Green: Agent's Handbook is coming for you!
« on: September 04, 2016, 12:53:04 AM »
Double-posting months apart, but recently I listened to the People's Guide to the Cthulhu Mythos do a dramatic reading of The Strange High House in the Mist and discovered I may have accidentally been making a really good allusion in my notes for Thieves of Many Waters?

I kind of drew Olney from the aether, the sort of quaint collaboration of syllables that seemed plausible for 'small fishing town' to my ears. It turns out that the protagonist of Strange High House is Thomas Olney and in the course of the story Olney meets Nodens in the titular house and the experience changes him deeply; after meeting Nodens, Olney moves his family out of Kingsport. In the course of the story, Olney goes from a rational philosopher with a well-disciplined mind but who despairs at the mundanity of his life to one who "never fails to smile correctly with pride when the occasion calls for it. In his glance there is not any restless light, and if he ever listens for solemn bells or far elfin horns it is only at night when old dreams are wandering." Which struck me as a strange description, as if he was mentally unsettled quite profoundly encounter. Like meeting Nodens changed him fundamentally somehow and that he left Kingsport with a new and terrible lease on life..

I must have read Strange High House properly years ago - during the Lovecraft phase a lot of 17 year old nerds go through, I expect - but didn't re-read it, so I wonder if this is just luck or the machinations of the subconscious (or something else?) Either way, it kind of fleshes out backstory for me - Thomas moves west from Kingsport to the Pacific, his contact with Nodens giving him a new terrible clarity and purpose. Perhaps HE writes Strange High House as a coping mechanism for the true traumatic contact with the divine power of Nodens - the house as a metaphor for an alcove, perhaps, that houses a similar temple to the one below the Oregon town. I think it also makes it a really fitting DG scenario by connecting it to a primary Lovecraft source (as opposed to secondary mythos writers or inventing something all my own) and one that isn't as widely known, making it a better twist.

I really need to run this scenario to see if it makes any more sense to people who aren't inside my head.

RPGs / Re: Red Markets Inspiration
« on: August 19, 2016, 08:13:53 AM »
A job I made using the format Bystander posted earlier:

And Now, The Weather

Goods/Service: They say that in the Loss, Casualties are like the weather. It'll kill you, but only if you let it take you by surprise. You need to be ready, you need to keep one eye on the horizon - and you need a forecast. Dr. Hamilton needs a group of Takers to help her "catch and release" the undead, allowing her to track the local herds and stampedes. The job is simple-ish. Tag a group of Casualties (at least three), dead-drive them into a stampede - and then make sure it doesn't follow you home.

Economy: Based on local Markets.

Equilibrium: Roll for local conditions. Add 1 Bounty for every Casualty successfully tagged past the third.

Client: Dr. Hamilton, a zoologist holed up in a wildlife observation facility. She has access to a lot of radio equipment and trackers. She has thick, milk-bottle spectacles and frazzled ginger hair.

Weak Spot: Accidentally Useful - Hamilton doesn't fully understand the value of her work - or rather, she understands the wrong type of value. A pure scientist, she understands data is useful but she's a zoologist - she's interested in studying Casualties as animals, specifically herd animals. The thought of the "weather forecast" aspect of her work simply has not occurred to her, causing her to significantly undervalue her job. She might be exploitable by those who appeal to her pure scientific side, or a more charitable soul might seek a pay boost by explaining plainly why local enclaves would very much like early warnings for zombie stampedes.

Soft Spot: Loves a War Story - Hamilton survived the Crash by sheer isolation, sticking herself in the middle of nowhere and not coming out until the bombs stopped falling. She has a strong Lifelines presence, looking through stories and records of how the world fell apart. She might rationalise it ("Just gathering data!") but her appeal is more emotional; Takers who detail their experiences (perhaps embellish, a little) will gain traction with her.

Tough Spot: Please, No Headshotting The Specimens - Hamilton is somewhere between a Shepherd and Crusader, fascinated by studying the undead and not wanting anyone to break her toys. And, of course, the job only makes any sense if Casualties are left alive (well, mobile) at the end of it. She doesn't want people who boast about how many heads they've popped, she despises Black Math, but she values skill and a measured approach to the apocalypse.

Gift Spot: The Reedus Package - Hamilton will provide the Takers with a fully-charged crossbow with RIF arrows, Tactical and Composite. It is to be used in the job but she will let them keep it after the job is complete. The arrows contain the tracker she intends to use to map the herd movements.

Competition: Based on local Markets.

Travel Time: 3 Legs

The Site: Hamilton has identified a small group of Casualties (~10) loitering around an abandoned strip mall. The strip mall is in a small ghost town, exactly where being up to the Market. The stores include a diner, a clothes store and a pawn shop (as well as whatever the Market considers appropriate). Most of the storefront windows have had the glass broken and some form of barricade or boarding set up; some of it still stands, a lot of it doesn't. Local Takers have been talking about a stampede heading in this general area and by the time the Takers arrive it can be seen, just cresting the horizon. (Markets may want the sight of hundreds of Casualties to prompt a Self-Control check, even from so far away)

The street flanked by the stores, in which the Casualties stand, is standard post-apocalyptia, lined with abandoned, smashed and burned out cars. The Takers can use these cars to take cover in, but their engines are long ruined and their cargo picked clean. An additional wrinkle (Awareness check to spot) is that a number of bear traps line the street; in fact several of the Casualties in the street seem to have been caught in traps themselves.
The looming stampede is a time limit on the mission; it moves slowly, but certainly. Markets should keep an eye on the clock to make sure it hits at a dramatically appropriate time. Once the stampede hits, the Takers can get to safety by spending rations; either they try to outpace it, or find somewhere secure in the strip mall (a meat locker in the local butchers, perhaps?) and just waiting it out.

Complications: The zombies outside the strip mall aren't just random undead; they're guard dogs. A small group of survivors are holed up in the strip mall (having knocked down the walls dividing the diner, pawn shop and clothes store) and set the traps to scare off lone scavengers and wild animals. They're skinny, half-mad and have a small assortment of knives, cudgels and one shotgun amongst them. If the Takers make too much noise in the street, the survivors will realise someone's out there and come out to defend their home turf. Leaving them to the stampede (or, worse, only realising they're even in the mall when the stampede hits and their walls collapse) is a major Detachment stressor.

Job Line: The Information Game - Once the dead are providing data, it's time to interpret those findings! And, of course, sometimes you need to do a little further investigation to really understand what your data means. Successfully completing this job can open up a job line with Hamilton. When her data spits out something weird, the Takers are the first people she'll turn to with a contract to research it. ("Why do the Casualties seem to avoid this particular stretch of highway?", or "What's directing them all towards that megachurch?" and so on.) These jobs should be used to accentuate the weird, seemingly logic-less nature of the Blight - and it's an excellent opportunity to throw Aberrants at the group.

RPGs / Re: BaseRaiders
« on: August 12, 2016, 04:18:37 PM »
The setting would.. honestly, I think it would work for one-shots of a horror bent (especially Cube style "murder rooms" for your base) but the empowerment fantasy inherent in superheroics clashes pretty hard with the DISempowerment fantasy of most horror. Like, being a normie in a supers setting would be horrifying but being a super in a supers setting is about "look at how cool my powers are". So, your first Base Raid would be horrific (oh god the guns are shooting at us oh good weird monsters in the specimen jars oh no they woke up because the stasis field lost power) but once you get the super-serum and inject yourself with it the horror kiiiinda grinds to a halt.

RPGs / Re: Hacking Red Market question.
« on: August 03, 2016, 11:50:40 PM »
The PCs would be hard-hustling street rogues, scruffy two-bit hedge wizards, or laid-off ex-guards, trying to keep food on the table without attracting the notice of any 20th level Epic Murder Hobos.

I'd play. Please? Can we make this happen? With Stokesian levels of plotting and death traps?

Can anyone apply?


Death traps would be a big feature, for sure. That's why the Great Heroes who own the dungeons can lay off all their little guards. You don't have to pay death traps any wages.

Not just death traps; if the Heroes horded all the magic stuff typical in a fantasy setting to themselves, that would include magical automata, right?

"Golemisation ruined the economy! Took jobs from the hard-working fleshy types!"

TMayes, I'm always up for a game of Eclipse Phase.

By the by, has anyone got a link to the fan/GenCon GroupMe chats? I just downloaded the app in preparation for the con.

RPGs / Re: Freaky Architectural Stuff for Ruin
« on: July 18, 2016, 11:09:47 AM »
The BBC has a photo feature about relics of the Soviet era, which are exactly as bleak and colourless as you would expect.

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