Sunday, January 14, 2018

Another PDF

This PDF includes information about the sky islands of the djinn on the planet Freya, some more deities for the Homeworld pantheon, four articles about worldbuilding, an introduction to the history of Homeworld, details about the ratfolk who inhabit the Grotto, and a random ship name generator.

Aetherial Adventures #9

-Nate

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Random Ship Name Generator

This is an idea that I've been kicking around for a while; hopefully it's useful to GMs. Note that, while it's designed for  a space fantasy campaign, it can easily be used for more traditional nautical fantasy; the big change for any campaign setting is to provide a different list of place names for Table 7. 

-Nate 


Random Ship Name Generator
The following tables are designed to help GMs quickly and easily generate names for ships. Start with Table 1—Basic Name, and then move forward as directed. As always, the GM should feel free to interpret dice rolls as needed for the enjoyment of the players and the benefit of the campaign—and especially when results are nonsensical or otherwise inadvisable.


Table 1—Basic Name
Roll 1d10 and consult the following results.
1-4. Adjective—Roll again on Table 3.
5-6. Animal/Monster—Roll again on Table 4.
7-8. Other thing—Roll again on Table 5.
9-10. Two parts—Roll again on this table,
and roll on Table 2.
Table 2—Additional Descriptors
Roll 1d8 and consult the following results.
1-2. Color—Roll again on Table 6.
3-6. Adjective—Roll again on Table 3.
7. Location—Roll again on Table 7.
8. Choose whichever result you want, or roll
again.


Table 3—Adjective
Roll d100 and consult the following results. Note that, in addition to providing names for vessels, these descriptors also provide hints as to the natures of the vessels' crew and passengers, along with their purpose in traveling the Void.
1. Able
2. Absolute
3. Adamant
4. Adventurous
5. Amorous
6. Avenging
7. Awesome
8. Beautiful
9. Benevolent
10. Blessed
11. Bountiful
12. Brilliant
13. Calamitous
14. Capricious
15. Carefree
16. Celestial
17. Charming
18. Comely
19. Cunning
20. Daft
21. Dark
22. Dastardly
23. Defiant
24. Dominant
25. Elemental
26. Eminent
27. Enchanted
28. Eternal
29. Famous
30. Fateful
31. Favored
32. Fell
33. Fickle
34. Fighting
35. Free
36. Glad
37. Godly
38. Grandiose
39. Grim
40. Harmonious
41. Hateful
42. Hellacious
43. Holy
44. Humble
45. Illustrious
46. Infinite
47. Interplanetary
48. Interstellar
49. Intrepid
50. Itinerant
51. Jaded
52. Jolly
53. Jovial
54. Joyous
55. Kindly
56. Limitless
57. Lost
58. Luminous
59. Magical
60. Magnificent
61. Majestic
62. Marvelous
63. Melodious
64. Militant
65. Nebulous
66. Numinous
67. Omnipotent
68. Omniscient
69. Opalescent
70. Otherworldly
71. Patient
72. Penitent
73. Pleasant
74. Proud
75. Questing
76. Radiant
77. Redoubtable
78. Regal
79. Resilient
80. Resolute
81. Royal
82. Splendid
83. Stalwart
84. Steadfast
85. Stellar
86. Strange
87. Tempestuous
88. Tumultuous
89. Ultimate
90. Undaunted
91. Unfettered
92. Unrepentant
93. Valiant
94. Vigilant
95. Vindictive
96. Virtuous
97. Wandering
98. Wicked
99. Wondrous
100. Zealous


Table 4—Animals and Monsters
Roll d100 and consult the following results. Here again, the name chose provides some insight into the character and purpose of those who crew the vessel.
1-2. Albatross
3-4. Asp
5-6. Barracuda
7-8. Bat
9-10. Bear
11-12. Boar
13-14. Bull
15-16. Carp
17-18. Cockerel
19-20. Crow
21-22. Dolphin
23-24. Dragon
25-26. Eagle
27-28. Eel
29-30. Falcon
31-32. Fox
33-34. Ghost
35-36. Ghoul
37-38. Grackle
39-40. Griffin
41-42. Hag
43-44. Harpy
45-46. Hart
47-48. Hawk
49-50. Hound
51-52. Ibis
53-54. Jaguar
55-56. Kingfisher
57-58. Kraken
59-60. Lark
61-62. Magpie
63-64. Manticore
65-66. Mermaid
67-68. Narwhal
69-70. Nereid
71-72. Owl
73-74. Porpoise
75-76. Quail
77-78. Raven
79-80. Roc
81-82. Serpent
83-84. Shark
85-86. Siren
87-88. Spectre
89-90. Spirit
91-92. Squid
93-94. Tempest
95-96. Tyrant
97-98. Walrus
99-100. Wraith


Table 5—Other Things
Roll d100 and consult the following results. As mentioned above, the chosen name provides hints regarding who crews the vessel and what business they might be pursuing.
1-2. Arbiter
3-4. Bastion
5-6. Beggar
7-8. Breeze
9-10. Bulwark
11-12. Cad
13-14. Centurion
15-16. Damsel
17-18. Dancer
19-20. Dirge
21-22. Dowager
23-24. Entropy
25-26. Explorer
27-28. Fire
29-30. Flame
31-32. Gale
33-34. Hammer
35-36. Hunter
37-38. Interloper
39-40. Intruder
41-42. Jester
43-44. King
45-46. Knave
47-48. Liberator
49-50. Lightning
51-52. Lotus
53-54. Maiden
55-56. Martyr
57-58. Merchant
59-60. Minstrel
61-62. Nereid
63-64. Outlaw
65-66. Pilgrim
67-68. Prince
69-70. Princess
71-72. Queen
73-74. Rock
75-76. Rogue
77-78. Rose
79-80. Runner
81-82. Siren
83-84. Thunder
85-86. Venture
87-88. Victor
89-90. Vow
91-92. Warrior
93-94. Wave
95-96. Wind
97-98. Youth
99-100. Zealot




Table 6—Colors
Roll 1d20 and consult the following results.
1. Azure
2. Brown
3. Cerulean
4. Copper
5. Crimson
6. Ebony
7. Emerald
8. Golden
9. Grey
10. Indigo
11. Ivory
12. Lavender
13. Ruby
14. Sable
15. Sapphire
16. Scarlet
17. Silver
18. Turquoise
19. Umber
20. White


Table 7—Locations
Roll 1d12 and refer to the following results. In this case, the nature of the beings who inhabit the given location can provide insight into just who is traveling aboard the vessel in question and what manner of business they might be pursuing. Note, too, that the location names can be used in different ways to go with different corresponding words. For example, a given set of rolls could result in the Spirit of the Sun, but the Solar Spirit might be more agreeable as the name for a ship.
1. Sun/Sol
2. Wodan
3. Freya
4. Homeworld
5. Luna
6. Tyr
7. The Belt
8. Thonar
9. Kronos
10. The Void
11. The Galaxy
12. The Universe

An Example of Use
Let's say the GM needs to generate the name for a random ship. She starts by rolling 1d10 on Table 1, yielding a 9; the result is a two-part name, and she rolls again. This time she rolls a 6, calling for an animal or monster. Her 1d8 roll on Table 2 is a 3, resulting in an added adjective. As such, she rolls once on Table 3 (yielding a 65) and once on Table 4 (a 68). This results in the christening of the Harmonious Narwhal.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Holy City

Here's a map of the Holy City, along with a settlement stat block and area descriptions. 

-Nate 


The Holy City
On Homeworld, the largest temple of the Universal Architect is located in a coastal city known fort its strong harbor, daring captains and thriving trade. Known far and wide as the Holy City, it sits on the shore of a massive inland sea. Groundling vessels make their way hence, carrying trade goods, merchants, missionaries and settlers to all parts of the world. What is more, aetherships come and go more frequently there than anywhere else on Homeworld, given the desire of the Universal Architect's followers to explore the solar system.

Settlement
LN Large city
Corruption +0; Crime +2; Economy +4; Law +0; Lore +1; Society +6
Qualities Academic, Holy Site, Pious, Prosperous, Strategic Location
Danger +10
DEMOGRAPHICS
Government Council
Population Approximately 20,000 (details)
Notable NPCs
Imhotep (LN human cleric 13)
MARKETPLACE
Base Value 11,440 gp; Purchase Limit 75,000 gp; Spellcasting 9th

1. Islet
Part of the protection for the city's harbor is formed by this small island, which lies about a quarter of a mile offshore. Much of the natural body has been covered with a small fortress, one that boasts a lighthouse for guiding ships along with siege weapons for defending the area.

2. Mole
Built stone by stone with the force labor of convicted criminals, this artificial spur completes the protection for the city's harbor. A crenelated road runs it length, allowing traffic to and from the fortress on the islet.

3. Harbor
Given the previous two structures, the Holy City's harbor can protect vessels from all but the worst of storms. Usually at least one galley is located here at all times, providing a first line of defense against attack vessels. Additionally, any approaching aetherships are directed to land in the water beyond the mouth of the harbor, with severe penalties for failure to do so. Inside the harbor, along the shoreline, numerous piers jut into the water, providing places for boats to load or unload cargo and passengers.

4. Marketplace
Just up a short road from the harbor is the city's main marketplace. While there are many smaller ones—including some covered marketplaces, or suqs, where illicit goods are more likely to be found—none is as large or as vibrant as this one. Some three hundred feet wide and five hundred in length, it is filled with tents, stalls and other such arrangements for presenting food, equipment and other goods. This place is a hub of activity from before sunrise until after sundown, at which point business and entertainment shifts to indoor locations.

5. City Gates
Five different roads lead out of the city, either along the coastline or into the continent's interior. Each is guarded by a gate, where city officials and their enforcers examine newcomers and assess taxes on the goods that they carry with them.

6. Temple
The religious heart of the city is this shrine to the Universal Architect; see below for more details.

7. Captain's Houses
Each of the seven captains who form the ruling council for the Holy City has an impressively lavish home. Once again, see below to find the layout and description of one such domicile.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

A History and Geography of Homeworld

This piece is the first part of an effort to flesh out some details regarding Homeworld, central planet of the Sol System. It draws a lot of inspiration from the Kingdoms of Legend campaign setting on which I worked with the guys from Interaction Point Games.

-Nate


A History and Geography of Homeworld
Refer to the map above for the following location descriptions.

The Northern Empire
For many years the lands to the north of the Middle Sea were ruled by numerous kings, princes and dukes, all vying to expand their own holdings and enlarge their groups of loyalists. That gradually came to an end when a single figure—the first Sun King, believed to be the offspring of the god Sol and a mortal mother—began to rally the lesser rulers around him, bringing enlightenment and acting as a spiritual leader and moral compass for them. That was Edmund I, the Light-Bringer, and the founder of the House of Helios. For the most part, life in the Northern Empire under King Edmund and his descendants has been a time of peace and plenty, with the cessation of hostilities providing a chance for agriculture as well as the arts to flourish. 

One exception to this general rule is that life has been harder for non-humans in the lands surrounding the Middle Sea. This is because some of the more closed-minded followers of Sol claim that, that God chose to sire a child by a human woman, that humans must be closest to the deity in their nature. In some places that has led to intolerance, and even persecution. That, combined with the fact that human enterprise is letting them explore and exploit the previously wild parts of the world, has led many elves and dwarves to leave Homeworld behind—the prior going to Starfort Station or venturing beyond the reaches of the Sol System, and the latter finding a home and considerable business in the Asteroid Belt.

Free Cities of the South
As a counterpoint to the widespread worship of Sol is the rise of Ptah's priesthood. Instead of a whole pantheon of deities, this faith maintains that a single deity, the All-Knowing, is the mind behind the creation of the universe, and that natural forces put in place by that deity gave rise to the world as it is, in accordance with Ptah's plan. While this set of beliefs also had broad appeal among the masses, it clashed with the Church of Sol and thus found little sympathy from those clerics. This led to verbal and then physical conflict, putting the new faith in danger. 

The Church of Ptah was saved, however, by its appeal among the sailors who lived in small enclaves along the southern shore of the Middle Sea. Those corsairs gave refuge to clerics of Ptah who were fleeing persecution, providing food and shelter and even doing battle against the followers of Sol. Eventually this led the cleric Imhotep to establish the center of his church there. While not so organized nor as individually powerful as the Northern Empire, together they are a force with which to reckon.

The Barbarian Lands and Eastern Kingdoms
To the east of the Middle Sea lies a broad expanse of terrain dominated by hills and steppes. This area is the domain of the Golden Horde, a loose confederation of clans led by Timur the Khan. They are nomadic bands who live by horse-mounted hunting, along with some limited agriculture. Of late they have also profited from raids on more civilized lands. Although these have occurred only on a small scale so far, certain military-minded leaders in the Northern Empire have argued that some kind of concerted action is needed to “tame the infidels.” The barbarians practice ancestor worship, revering the spirits of those who have led them in the past and striving to be worthy of a place in the afterlife with their vaunted dead.

Beyond those lands, far to the east lie a trio of civilized, relatively advanced states known as the Three Kingdoms. The inhabitants of these realms generally live at peace with each other, working together to defend against the Golden Horde, but there are occasional exceptions. Instead of venerating specific deities, these people believe in a philosophy that they call Dualism. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Blood on the Snow

Happy New Year! The past year has brought lots of changes for me personally, but I'm excited to see what 2018 has in store for life. My first post of the new year is this short adventure. 


-Nate 


Blood on the Snow 

This short scenario is written for use with the Sixth Gun roleplaying game, based on the comics from Oni Press, using the Savage Worlds RPG from Pinnacle Entertainment Group. It is intended for a relatively new group of characters, but can easily be adjusted for use with stronger parties.  

Introduction
Life on the American frontier is not easy. The basic necessities of life—shelter, food and water—can be hard to acquire. There's danger from foul weather, not to mention potentially hostile Indians or even bandits. More recently, however, an even greater threat has appeared: someone, or something, has been attacking isolated farmsteads. The popular opinion is that local Indians are responsible, and that the White settlers and their military protectors will soon be a reckoning with the natives.


Adventure Synopsis
The heroes happen to be present at a remote location—such as a frontier military fort—when one of the werewolf's victims shows up on the scene, having suffered grievous injuries. So long as they are willing to investigate the matter, the heroes can trace this unfortunate back to a farm that has been left in ruins. Taking a closer look provides a clue that things may not be quite what they seem, however. As long as cooler heads can prevail, the heroes can look deeper into the situation. That requires keeping suspicious soldiers from overreacting, negotiating with local Indians, and learning that they, too, have suffered attacks. In the end, if they are careful, the heroes can track the culprit to his lair.


For the Gun Master
For years Henri Francois LeBlanc, a skilled woodsman and trapper, has lived as an outcast. He is infected with the disease known as lycanthropy; with the coming of every full moon, he turns into a wolf and goes on a murderous rampage. At first he was able to minimize his killing sprees, claiming a few victims in a remote and isolated location before the cycle of the moon had passed. He also kept moving from place to place, always a step or two ahead of those who sought to capture and punish him. Even so, gradually Henri has started to run out of territory in which to hunt, ranging always further south. Now he's reached territory with a more sizable native population, scattered White settlements and, what is worse, a military presence. Knowing that they could eventually coordinate with each other, expose his activities and hunt him down, he's devised a plan to divide and conquer them. 

He's going to start a war on the frontier. 

To that end, Henri has begun attacking isolated Indian camps and White farmsteads, satiating his bloodlust while also planting evidence that incriminates one group or the other. Ultimately, he hopes to incite the two sides to seek vengeance against each other, thereby creating chaos in which he can continue to hunt with impunity.


Involving the Heroes
The start of this scenario assumes that the heroes are visiting some location on the American frontier. The frontier fort, presented in another supplement, is an excellent starting location, since, it is suitably remote and introduces vigilant but weary military personnel who can act as a foil to the heroes as they investigate the recent killings.


Alternately, a settlement such as Smith's Crossing, also detailed in another supplement, could serve as the launching point. In that case, it could be a bloodthirsty posse, rather than army soldiers, who seek revenge in spite of the heroes' efforts to discover the truth of the matter.


In that case, the nature of the people who run Smith's Crossing, and the means by which they do so, can provide an added level of complication to this investigation.


Scene 1—Running Wild
Note that this scenario assumes the action is starting at a frontier military fort; a GM opting to use a different location can adjust the details accordingly.
To begin, the heroes have a chance to experience life in the fort and interact with those who live there. At the GM's discretion, that could be little more than some vivid description, or might involve the heroes making checks for useful skills in order to contribute: Healing to help treat wounded soldiers; Knowledge to recall an interesting tale and entertain the troops; Repair to fix a broken stove or some other device; or Tracking to help find some wild game, providing a welcome change from salt pork, hardtack and beans. There could even be an opportunity for some Gambling, too.

The Runaway Wagon
At some point once the heroes have had time to interact with the locals, they should all make Notice checks; success means that they hear the rumble of approaching wagon wheels, and gives them five rounds in which to react as the wagon comes rumbling past the fort. Each raise achieved lets that character have an additional five rounds in which to act. The wagon is drawn by a single horse that is running at full speed but is nearly exhausted. There is someone slumped over in the driver's seat. Those who succeed at a second Notice check can also see that there are people lying motionless in the back of the wagon. 

The heroes have a number of options for dealing with the runaway wagon. One is for a character to make a Climb check at -2 in order to jump aboard the wagon. Failure on that check means the character takes a tumble but is unhurt; a botch means the character suffers 2d6 falling damage, just as for falling off of a mount (see page 74 of the core rulebook). Once aboard, the character must then make a Driving check at -2 to rein in the horse. Another option is for a character to make two Riding checks at -2 penalties, one to jump onto the horse and one to bring it to a halt. Of course, the heroes are likely to devise other means of stopping the wagon, subject to the GM's adjudication. All in all, this is meant to be an exciting scene, but not one that threatens serious harm for the heroes. 

After they've gained control of the horse (or, at least, the wagon), the heroes can learn a little more about the situation. The driver is a woman who is incapacitated by fatigue and the cold. Bundled in blankets in the back of the wagon are two children, terribly frightened but otherwise okay. The kids can explain that they are Ellie and Sam Clayton, from a farm near here; their parents are Nora, the driver, and Samuel. They don't know what has happened to him, except that their mother made them leave the farm in a hurry, without him, “because they were in danger.” Just what that danger was, however, they don't know. A Healing check can start Nora along the road to recovery, but it takes time that the heroes probably don't have. 

Instead, if they want to learn more, the heroes have one main option, to follow the wagon's route back to the farmstead from which it originated. Those who succeed at a general Knowledge test can recall where that place is located, and the fort's personnel can help with that, at the GM's discretion. Failing that, the heroes can make a Tracking check to retrace its route. Whatever the case, the action can continue in the next scene.

The Overzealous Cavalry Officer
A good option for adding more roleplaying to this and other scenes is for the GM to play up the part of Lieutenant Danforth Jeffreys, the fort's cavalry commander. He jumps to the conclusion that this is the result of an attack by Indians, and wants to respond in force. The lieutenant can therefore be played as a foil for the heroes, and possibly even incite combat if they don't manage to keep him in check.






Scene 2—The Scene of the Crime
Refer to the map above when the heroes arrive at the Clayton family's farm. It consists of a small house with a main room and kitchen (1A), along with bedrooms for the children and parents (B and C). These have clearly been ransacked, with items strewn about the floor and nothing of value remaining. There is also a cattle barn (2) with a fenced area for cows, along with an outhouse (3) and a horse barn (4). While the latter two are empty, the prior of these contains the slaughtered remains of several cows. What is more, the front gate to the cattle pen stands open, and several wolves have wandered in to pick meat off the of the dead cattle.

Wolves—Use the stats from page 157 of the Savage Worlds Deluxe rulebook.

In addition to the wolves, there is plenty of evidence that local Indians are responsible for this attack. Numerous native arrows stick out of the ground, and walls of buildings; additionally, a Tracking check reveals footprints that seem to have been made by people wearing moccasins, rather than boots or other more modern footware. A raise on that check, however, reveals that the tracks in and around the farm seem to have been made by the same individual, while others, leading away from the farm, were made by a group of individuals. Just what this implies—that one person committed the crime, but that a group then came along to witness the aftermath—is up to the heroes to deduce.


Scene 3—Two Sides to Every Story
Another Tracking effort can lead the heroes from the farm to the Indians' camp; refer to the map above. It consists of four tepees clustered together in an area that is out of the wind; each is home to one brave and his family. There is also a place where they've driven stakes into the ground to tether their ponies. That makes it harder for the heroes to sneak up on the camp, since the ponies can also make Notice checks opposed to their Stealth efforts.

Braves—Use the stats from page 84 of the Sixth Gun RPG.

Ponies—Use the stats for riding horses from page 160 of the Savage Worlds core rulebook.

As long as they can have a look at the camp, they can find even more evidence that seems to implicate the Indians in the attack. In one of the tepees, Samuel Clayton is bound and gagged. This is not because they took him prisoner, however, but because they found him wandering and recognized that something is not right about him. They do not know that he has been infected with lycanthropy, though.

Developments
Just how this situation plays out depends on how the heroes decide to approach it. Those who are looking for a fight can easily find one, since the Indians are wary of retribution from the Whites. Should that happen, then it could lead to an ongoing series of skirmishes, with more and more people from both sides of the conflict becoming involved in the growing conflict. 

On the other hand, if cooler heads prevail, then the heroes can learn a good deal more about the situation. Standing Bear, the Indians' leader, can explain that his people didn't attack the farmstead, but that they found Samuel Clayton left for dead. They've been keeping him bound because “There is something wrong about him.” Should anyone think to ask about any people other than farmers, soldiers and Indians in the area, Standing Bear can confirm that they were visited by a White Man, a trapper and trader from the north, named Henri. Indeed, he can even lead them to Henri's hunting camp. 


Scene 4—Hunter and Hunted
If the heroes manage to track down Henri, they find that he's a formidable foe. His campsite is surrounded by bear traps that are hidden in the snow. Those who move through one of the trapped squares must make a Notice check at -2 to avoid it, or suffer 2d6 damage and become immobilized. At that point, it takes a Lockpicking check or a Strength test to disable the trap. This also, of course, alerts the werewolf to their arrival.

Henri Francois LeBlanc—Use the stats for a Werewolf from page 78 of The Sixth Gun RPG. Note that the loup garou has kept some spoils from his previous kills, including miscellaneous money worth a total of $100.

Henri fights to the death. Keep in mind that it takes silver weapons to hurt him, so this should press the heroes into being creative about how they fight him.

Epilogue
As long as the heroes can expose Henri's ruse, they can prevent a war between the Indians and settlers. While there isn't much monetary gain for them, they have won some potentially valuable allies.

Further Adventures
Elements from this scenario can also lead to other adventures; a few of the possibilities are detailed below.
  • In the tent the heroes can find evidence of multiple previous “lives” for Henri Francois LeBlanc, any one of which could involve another plot. This might include an undelivered letter that holds clues to a strange plot, a map to an unfinished mining claim, or the like.
  • The Indians are grateful for the heroes' aid, and may come to them looking for help with future difficulties involving White settlers or other tribes.
  • Recognizing the heroes' abilities, the commander of the military fort, Captain Anders Arneson, might also have jobs for them in the future, such as helping to track down and bring to justice a notorious band of outlaws.
  • There's also the matter of recently widowed Nora Clayton, who could become a romantic interest for one of the heroes.