Monday, August 29, 2005

Jumpstrike

There is fire among the stars.

The soulless machines of war which humanity unleashed upon itself have been extinguished. Yet still, there is fire among the stars. Colony clashes with colony. Alliance rebels against empire. The age old struggle of wills continues on, to build empires, or to defend freedoms, to take what you want, or to keep what you have. There is fire among the stars, and it is the fire of Humanity, its evils and its hopes. Its dreams of what may come.

Politician, trader, diplomat, warrior. Whatever fate may hold in store, may your fire burn brightly. Welcome to the universe of Jumpstrike.

Overview

The Jumpstrike setting is a semi-hard science fiction setting. While there are no aliens, there are a wide variety of human cultures, with plenty of room for customization. The overall feel of the setting might best be described as "classical Greece in space", but the setting is more than a direct translation of ancient Greece. Politically, there are four major powers and many other minor powers and independent colonies. Diplomacy and international relations are critical to the setting, and even a simple merchant might be called upon to represent his or her home colony, simply by being in the right place at the right (or wrong) time. This article contains a brief history of the Jumpstrike setting, an overview of the technology and society that has grown up in the Jumpstrike universe, and a description of the major (and a few minor) powers, along with possible themes based around them.

History

  • Pre-Burn
    • Late 21st Century: Jump drive discovered. First colonies founded.
    • Most colonies are left to themselves, and try to develop a primitive, but self-sustaining, technology base.
    • Advances in artificial intelligence lead to the use of unmanned intelligent warships by the Earth and the most advanced colonies.
  • The Burn
    • April 17, 2341: A war starts (for unknown reasons), and, with the combination of AI-controlled warships and couriers, quickly devastates the Earth and spreads to the nearby colonies.
    • The use of autonomous artificial intelligence becomes forbidden as the knowledge of the Burn spreads through the colonies.
  • The Reconstruction
    • Most colonies are completely cut off, without the ability to repair their starships or build new ships.
    • The New Earth Empire and the Core Worlds Alliance are formed around colonies with shipbuilding capabilities.
    • Colonies begin to re-discover shipbuilding.
  • The Present Day
    • Interstellar travel and trade once again becomes fairly common.
    • The Far Stars Republic begins to expand.
    • The Hellenikan League is formed.

Society

The setting was designed as a deliberate homage to classical Greece, with its proudly independent and constantly squabbling city-states (poleis). The reference is particularly appropriate because star travel makes the universe much like a group of islands -- there are no restrictions on where you go except for the distance involved, and the time required to cross that distance. Governments resemble Athens' League of Delos far more than Sparta's Peloponnesian League, although only the Far Stars Republic and the New Earth Empire are especially close to the League of Delos, and even they are not especially close. The diversity of governments was also taken from classical Greece, mostly because it provides an opportunity to be creative when making up your own colonies.

The society of the Jumpstrike universe centers around the colony, the planet, and (for a few colonies) the government. Even for members of one of the great powers, the local planet is more important than the central government, and the colony itself vastly more important than either. Although millions of people live and work in space, most people never leave their home colony, much less their home planet. Colonies prize their independence, and the members of the major powers usually see themselves either as "allies" or "conquered," rather than as members of a larger group.

Every inhabitable planet discovered, except for the Earth and Magna Gaia (BD+05 3993-IV) has isolated island chains and subcontinents, with an independent colony on each island chain or subcontinent. The center of a colony is its Akropolis, usually a defensible site which holds the colony's spaceport and center of government. Colonies also tend to have a few smaller villages, and plenty of wilderness. Most colonies have a population somewhere between 75,000 and 10 million, with an average of about 5 million.

Colonies tend to be governed by some form of representational government. At one extreme are colonies like Eire (24 Iota Pegasi-II), with a direct democracy including every citizen and resident of the colony. At the other end are colonies like Cordova (BD+61 195-III), where citizenship is limited to the descendants of the first settlers, and only 175 people, out of a population of over five million, have voting rights. Colonies may or may not have a head of state or council supplementing their citizen body.

Colonies tend to have fairly large militaries specialized in defensive operations. Warfare is much more common than it was in the 20th century, although "total war" is rare. Instead, wars tend to be fought to gain specific advantages or concessions. A colony is likely to fight most of its wars against neighbors on the same planet, since transporting large numbers of troops is difficult even for the major powers. Since space warfare is uncommon, most colonies have only a few warships, usually purchased used from one of the major powers.

Small alliances are common, but don't tend to last very long. Only four major powers exist, the New Earth Empire, the Core Worlds Alliance, the Hellenikan League, and the Far Stars Republic. The Empire is essentially a group of close allies led by New Earth (Iota Persei-V). The Alliance is a group of large independent colonies who have interests in common. The League is a diverse group of allied colonies with a central government that delegates most of its authority locally. The Republic is a central world (Magna Gaia) which has conquered a number of colonies and rules them by force.

Technology

The Jump Drive

Starships are able to exceed the speed of light by means of "jumps" during which the ship disappears from one location and appears at another. Jumps must be calculated precisely, and longer jumps take longer to calculate. The effective speed of a ship depends on how far it jumps and how fast it can calculate its jumps, and the change in gravitational potential between the starting and ending points (jumps must be shorter near stars and planets). Merchant ships take somewhere around two days to travel one light-year, generally in either one or two large jumps. Military ships are about twice as fast. The most that almost any merchant can travel without resupply is five parsecs, which works out to around a month's worth of travel.

Military ships are also built to make tactical jumps, which happen on the order of seconds instead of minutes. Each jump is shorter, and the overall speed is less, but tactical jumps allow ships to avoid incoming fire. Ship-to-ship weapons are also based around jump drives, and any ship without a military jump drive is essentially helpless in combat. As a result of a recent rise in piracy, most commercial ships have at least some tactical jump capability.

Mass Conversion

Military starships generate power using the direct conversion of matter to energy. This process is exceptionally efficient, but each jump still requires a considerable amount of power. Conversion chambers carry the danger of a runaway reaction (where part or all of the mass of the ship is converted into energy, with obvious negative consequences for the crew), but runaway reactions are extremely rare, and the few that have happened have all been the result of battle damage. Mass conversion is also at the heart of most ships' normal-space drives, albeit in a less potentially dangerous form.

Gravity Manipulation

Gravity manipulation allows ships to reduce their effective mass, especially when near planets. The overall effect of this is to allow starships to land and take off from planets without requiring specialized equipment, and also to allow interstellar shipping costs to be low enough to support large-scale trade (even if only in luxuries).

Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology allows stronger materials to be built, although the construction times are increased. Nanoassemblers, while unable to replicate, do allow the quick construction of small items, if given the proper raw materials. Medical nanotechnology allows drugs to be tailored to the individual metabolism, and microscopic robots capable of limited surgical operations. In general, nanotechnology allows better quality, whether in manufacturing or in medicine, but at the cost of increased time, money, or both.

Weapons

Space combat occurs at incredible speeds, with battles often lost or won within seconds of the initial engagement. With ships operating at faster-than-light speeds, conventional weapons, even lasers, are too slow to use against military ships, although pirates do use them against merchants (and, sometimes, merchants against pirates). Instead, military weapons are equipped with their own jump drives.

Lances were the first form of space weapon able to attack a ship capable of tactical jumps. With a specially designed jump drive, a lance will jump thousands of times in its two-second lifespan. If it approaches close enough to a ship, the lance detonates, either damaging or destroying the ship. While lances are seldom used now, a smaller version, known as Interceptors, are used to attack approaching Strike Pods before they can detonate.

Strike Pods use the same tactical drive found on ships. They have the same jump distance but a somewhat higher cycle rate, thus allowing them to move approximately twice as fast as ships in combat. Strike Pods are sent out from the firing ship in an attempt to get close enough to a target ship to attack. Pods attack by deliberately overloading their conversion chamber in order to damage nearby ships with the blast. Some strike pods even carry small lances, potentially allowing them to make multiple attacks.

Ground combat has changed much less than space combat, although the tools used are different. With the high cost of interstellar transport, the large-scale warfare of the past is almost entirely gone. Instead, the attacking force tends to be a small, high-quality force intended to fight in urban environments and take over important targets, such as space ports.

Infantry weapons are more advanced than in the past, but still based on the same principles. Projectile weapons are more likely to use linear accelerators than chemical propellants and lasers are used in specialized capacities, but any member of the infantry from the 20th century onwards would be able to pick up and use even the most modern weapons with only minimal instruction. The main improvement in weaponry is in non-lethal weapons, now used by most police departments and, in special circumstances, by military forces.

Governments

The New Earth Empire

The New Earth Empire is located between the core worlds and the Far Stars cluster. Because New Earth, the home of the Empire, was far away from the core colonies, it was able to survive the Burn with only minimal disruption. As one of the only colonies with shipbuilding capabilities, New Earth was attacked from all sides by colonies hoping to seize its shipyards. The Commonwealth won these battles, and conquered a number of its former attackers.

The New Earth Commonwealth was always dominated by a small aristocracy, and its expansion concentrated the power further. By the time Susan Northwald was elected coordinator of the New Earth Commonwealth in 2402, it was effectively a hereditary monarchy. In 2580, John Northwald, the fourth ruler of the dynasty, was officially granted the title of Emperor by the General Assembly of the New Earth Commonwealth, now the New Earth Empire.

The current emperor is John Northwald II, who ascended to the throne in 2613 at the age of 32. The emperor serves until his or her resignation, usually at around the age of 100, although some past emperors have ruled for life. Advising the emperor is an elected body, the Imperial General Assembly, and presiding over the Assembly is the Imperial Executive, a hereditary aristocracy. Members of the Executive also serve as representatives of the emperor in the Empire's other settlements.

Adventures and Themes

The New Earth Empire is a group of allies dominated by New Earth. Although most of its member colonies were originally conquered, the Empire's expansion has been based on diplomacy for centuries now, and all of its colonies have full citizenship, with their aristocracies integrated into the Imperial Executive. The Empire is home to diplomats, merchants, soldiers, courtiers, and any other type of character imaginable. The Empire currently has two major problems: the lack of an heir to the throne, and the threat of the Far Stars Republic.

Since John Northwald II (see below) is childless, various factions have arisen in the Imperial Executive attempting to get their own candidates declared as the heir. Northwald has recently married a second wife in an attempt to produce a legitimate heir, but the future of the Northwald dynasty is in doubt. PCs could be involved in this struggle either as members of the Imperial Executive, employees or members of one of the Executive households (or the Imperial household), or as employees of the government or the military. While the intrigue in the Executive has so far remained strictly an internal matter, the situation could become a civil war at any time.

Since its founding, the Far Stars Republic has expanded rapidly. With the Hellenikan League apparently too strong to attack at the moment, the Republic has begun testing the Empire's frontiers. While the Empire has managed to retain control over its colonies so far, the Republic has shown no sign of giving up. PCs could become involved in the tension between the Empire and the Republic either as soldiers, diplomats, or merchants, or even as citizens of either side caught up in a border war.

Aspect Level
Dedicated [ ] (Fair)
Getting Old [ ] (Fair)
No Heir [ ][ ] (Good)
Emperor [ ][ ] (Good)

Emperor John Northwald II

Emperor Northwald was born Christopher John Northwald in 2581. He took the throne when his mother, Susan Northwald IV, retired in 2613 at age 83. Since his accession, he has attempted to maintain the Empire's position through diplomacy, although the Empire has fought several times against the Far Stars Republic. Now 72, John Northwald II is struggling to maintain control over the Empire. None of his wives have produced children, and the Imperial Executive is pressing him to name an heir from another family. Emperor Northwald is unlikely to be encountered in person unless the PCs are members of the Imperial Executive, but his influence is felt throughout the Empire.

Aspect Level
Bureaucrat [ ][ ] (Good)
Drives a Hard Bargain [ ] (Fair)
Likes his power [ ] (Fair)
Annoying Voice [ ] (Fair)

Paul Roberts

Paul Roberts is a staff member at the Imperial Trade Representative on Alphonse (Gl 436-III), the Empire's major contact point with both the Hellenikan League and the Core Worlds Alliance. His job is to make arrangements with small traders to allow them to bring goods into the Empire. Any group of merchant PCs who wish to trade with the Empire, or Imperial PCs who wish to trade beyond its borders, might need to negotiate with Roberts to get their cargo into, or out of, the Empire.

The Core Worlds Alliance

Although most of the older colonies were affected by the Burn, a few were far enough away to shut down their AI fleets, or primitive enough to be still relying on crewed ships. These colonies depended on their trade lines with the rest of the core worlds, and the Burn threw their economies into disarray. In response, most of these surviving colonies began to trade with one another, eventually uniting into the Core Worlds Alliance.

The Alliance now includes fifteen colonies, of which twelve were founding members. These colonies have mature economies based around interstellar trade. The colonies that make up the Core Worlds Alliance retain a great amount of independence, with the Alliance providing little more than an internal free-trade zone and an agreement on military cooperation. The Alliance is formally governed by the Advisory Council, which includes a single member appointed from each colony, along with representatives of the major shipping guilds and corporate interests in the Alliance.

The Alliance's emphasis on interstellar commerce makes it the New Earth Empire's major competitor, while the Alliance's status as the "protector" of the worlds devastated by the Burn has sometimes led to conflict between the Alliance and the Hellenikan League. The Far Stars Republic is too far away to seriously threaten any of the Alliance's territory, and no independent colony is powerful enough to threaten the Alliance.

Adventures and Themes

The Core Worlds Alliance is intended as a trading power, and as a remnant of the old pre-Burn society. On good terms with all the major powers (except, occasionally, the Hellenikan League), the Alliance's merchants travel everywhere, and the power of the Alliance keeps them relatively safe from piracy along the way. The Alliance is also a very conservative society, with a voting age of 45 and a constitution that gives the founding members almost complete control over Alliance policy.

For characters interested in making a living through trade, the Alliance is fighting an economic war with the Hellenikan League over access to the colonies devastated by the Burn. While the Alliance sees itself as the protector of these colonies, it also sees them as captive markets, and a number of recent attempts by Hellenikan traders to establish direct agreements with these colonies has prompted the Alliance to subsidize its own merchants to offer better deals to colonies in the core stars. Since the core stars also have one of the highest piracy rates in known space, the combination of armed traders, pirates, commerce raiders, and the occasional warship makes the area an exciting place.

Aspect Level
Loyal [ ] (Fair)
Idealist [ ] (Fair)
Stubborn [ ][ ] (Good)
Politician [ ][ ] (Good)

Coordinator Natalie Dumont

A native of Alphonse, Dumont was first elected as the Alliance's coordinator in 2641. Coordinator Dumont is currently sponsoring legislation aimed at giving the Advisory Council the ability to tax Alliance citizens directly, something which was last tried (unsuccessfully) eighty years ago. Dumont is an idealist who believes that the Alliance will slowly lose influence unless it is able to unite together, and that the Advisory Council is the only body that can hope to overcome the desire of the Alliance's member colonies to retain as much independence as possible. Characters might encounter Dumont if they are active in Alliance politics, either trying to unite the colonies or maintain their current autonomy.

Aspect Level
Devious [ ][ ] (Good)
Tactician [ ] (Fair)
Leadership [ ] (Fair)
Arrogant [ ] (Fair)

Fleetmaster Robert Johnson

A native of Stracher (BD+36 2219-IV), Johnson was an early supporter of Coordinator Dumont, and she has rewarded him by putting him in charge of the Alliance's military presence in the core worlds. Due to the high incidence of piracy there, most of the Alliance's merchant shipping is armed, which places it under Johnson's extended command (although he seldom exercises this authority). Johnson is also in charge of anti-piracy patrols, which he combines with some discreet commerce raiding against the Hellenikan League. Any character who spends time on a starship in the core worlds will likely be affected by Fleetmaster Johnson, and any Alliance character could encounter him directly.

The Hellenikan League

The Hellenikan League is an amalgamation of a number of smaller alliances, formed mostly in reaction to the growing power of the New Earth Empire and the Far Stars Republic. The founders of the League were determined to prevent the League from becoming another expansionist power, but were unable to keep it from growing quickly as the independent colonies tried to avoid being absorbed into the other major powers. Individual colonies in the League do have a great deal of autonomy, and the League has a wide variety of internal styles of government and codes of law.

The League's government was designed to give its member colonies, and its citizens, as much independence as possible. The head of the League is the Archon, supported by the Boule, which is divided between elected members, hereditary members, members appointed by the Archon, and members appointed by the League's colonies. Although the Archon and his or her representatives are able to wield considerable power in emergencies, for the most part they hold a ceremonial role. The primary exception to this rule is the Strategoi, a group who act as both soldiers and diplomats, holding power in the name of the Archon, but nominated by the member colonies and ratified by the Boule.

The League's society is chaotic and diverse. Although the League has a set of overall legal standards and rights, these apply mostly to League citizens, a position held by only a third of the population. Most League residents are instead citizens (or non-citizens) of one of the member colonies, and are subject to the laws and customs of the colony in which they reside. The only universal laws in the League are that any League resident has the right to apply for League citizenship and, if accepted, must be treated as a citizen in any League member state.

Adventures and Themes

The League is the new blood of the setting. As a new power, the League has very little stability, and even its form of government is still changing as time passes. The only constants during the League's 138-year history have been the Archon, the Strategoi, and the Boule, which were inherited from three of the League's founding members: Albion (GJ 1148-I), Nattara (43 Beta Comae Berenices-III), and Menast (Alphonse, Gl 436-II). Although the League has a fairly short history, it has managed to integrate the traditions of some of its members into its own identity, which has helped to provide some stability.

Like the New Earth Empire, the Hellenikan League offers almost any type of adventure. The League's chief threat is the Far Stars Republic, which has been attempting to eliminate the League since its founding. While the League has fought wars against the Republic in the past, recent history has seen only minor skirmishes, with as much diplomacy as violence involved. Characters could be involved in defending the League, taking the fight to the Republic, negotiations between the two, or convincing independent colonies in the New Stars cluster to ally themselves with the League.

Another source of adventure lies in the core stars, where the League has been trying to secure allies and trade routes. This has brought the League into conflict with the Core Worlds Alliance, although neither side has used military force, at least not officially. Finally, there are many possible adventures inside the League's borders, attempting to turn a loose alliance of diverse colonies into a functioning government. While the League itself is over 100 years old, more than two thirds of its members have joined within the past twenty years, leaving the League's government and military struggling to cope.

Aspect Level
Old and Wise [ ][ ] (Good)
Old and Tired [ ] (Fair)
Leader [ ] (Fair)
Suspicious [ ] (Fair)

Archon Martin Holm

Archon Holm was confirmed as Archon in 2595 at the age of 53. Now 105 years old, Archon Holm is looking forward to his retirement, and the accession of his heir, 38-year-old Ryan Laskell, currently serving the Boule as First Citizen. Over his career, Chancellor Holm has seen great changes to the Hellenikan League. At his accession, the League was strongly isolationist. It was only under Chancellor Holm's direction that the League opened up diplomatic relations with the Core Worlds Alliance and the independent colonies. When the Far Stars Republic attempted to conquer Liberty (GI 793-IV), it was Holm who led the League's military in their defense. Archon Holm does his best to be available to any of his representatives, so any character in the League government, such as a strategos, could encounter Archon Holm, or go to him for assistance.

Aspect Level
Machiavellian [ ] (Fair)
Strategist [ ] (Fair)
Diplomat [ ][ ] (Good)
Lonely [ ][ ] (Good)

Strategos Johann Chengalur

Strategos Chengalur was appointed by Archon Holm to manage the League's network of alliances in the New Stars Cluster. A gifted strategist who made his reputation commanding small fleets of ships, Strategos Chengalur has also shown a talent for political manipulation. Thanks to his efforts, the League has been able to base its military forces with a number of allies, some of whom are on the same planet as Republican colonies. The League's network of alliances has prevented the Republic from directly attacking League territory for the past decade. Any character acting as a League strategos, or other military officer, could encounter Strategos Chengalur, and might end up under his command for a mission.

The Far Stars Republic

Originally, the Far Stars Republic was the Kingdom of Kharybdis, one of the colonies established on Magna Gaia, but it has now grown far beyond the bounds of a single planet. The Republic's government has three major branches and a complex interchange of powers. The First Minister heads the executive branch and must be a member of the Senate, but is elected by the People's Forum. The Senate controls the judicial branch, serving as magistrates in the court system, and elects its own members for lifetime terms, although the First Minister has the power to veto Senate appointments. The People's Forum is the legislative body and is elected by popular vote every five years, with one member for every electoral district on Magna Gaia. Each Senatorial district includes 20 Forum districts. Laws passed by the People's Forum do not take effect until ratified by either the Senate or the First Minister.

In 2550, the Expansionist party won 154 of the 301 seats in the People's Forum and selected Anastasia Korolov, one of two Expansionists in the Senate, as the First Minister. The Expansionist party began a shipbuilding program and quickly went to war with independent colonies in several nearby systems. Due to their lack of experience with space warfare, the Republic lost most of the space engagements, but, thanks to the skill and experience of their ground forces, was able to conquer Diamant (BD+03 3465-II) and Paradise (BD+05 3409-III). With the success of their initial assaults, the Expansionists entrenched their hold on the Republic. While they have recently lost their majority in the People's Forum, the Expansionists now control the majority of the Senate, and are thus able to control the laws passed by the People's Forum.

The Republic's expansionism caused few problems in their wars against independent colonies in the Far Stars cluster, but their recent attacks on the Hellenikan League and the New Earth Empire were costly and embarrassing failures. Many of the remaining independent colonies in the Far Stars cluster have sought protection from either the League or the Empire, and the Republic's potential for future expansion is limited unless they can defeat one of the great powers. The Republic has also faced rebellions in many of its new conquests, especially since the People's Forum is unwilling to allow voting representatives from any planet other than Magna Gaia.

Adventures and Themes

The Far Stars Republic is caught in a trap. Instead of governing a prosperous and reasonably peaceful planet, it now controls most of the New Stars Cluster, but its conquests are rebellious and the remaining independent colonies are allying against it. The Expansionist party has built its reputation on successful military campaigns, and a recent attempt by First Minister Joyce Laporte to temporarily halt the Republic's expansion cost the Expansionists the 2560 election, and Laporte her position as First Minister. The Expansionists will lose more support if they extend citizenship to conquered colonies, but without some self government the colonies will continue to rebel.

Republican characters might be involved either in working to maintain the status quo or working to reform or undermine the Republic. Reformers might be members of one of the minority parties in the Republic, soldiers convinced that the Republic's military is overextended, or rebels on one of the conquered colonies. Supporters of the Republic might be colonial governors trying to maintain order, Expansionists struggling to retain control of the government, diplomats trying to keep the peace between the Republic and the other major powers, or soldiers fighting against rebels in a conquered colony. Whatever happens to the Republic, it will provide a fertile ground for adventures.

Aspect Level
Patriot [ ][ ] (Good)
Indecisive [ ] (Fair)
Paranoid [ ] (Fair)
Coalition-builder [ ][ ] (Good)

First Minister John Masters

Masters was a compromise candidate, selected to bring the Development party into a coalition with the Expansionists. Since his election, Masters has tried to keep both the Expansionist party and the Republic from falling apart. Masters' attempts to find a diplomatic solution to the rebellions on the conquered colonies have led some of the Expansionists to break away and found a new party promoting a hard-line approach against both the rebels and the Hellenikan League. For now, though, the Expansionist-Development-Populist coalition still has a slight majority in the People's Forum. Masters could be encountered either by conservatives or reformers, either as an ally or an opponent.

Aspect Level
Diplomatic [ ] (Fair)
Inspires Loyalty [ ][ ][ ] (Great)
Pacifist [ ] (Fair)

Governor Erin Lockhart

Erin Lockhart is the most successful of the Republic's governors. Assigned to the colony of Diamant, which was captured in 2551, she has managed to bring the populace under control without excessive bloodshed. Instead of governing by an appointed council from Magna Gaia, she has given Diamant considerable self-government, and refused to implement some of the harsher penalties in the Rebellion Acts. This has made her popular enough with the coalition government that a recent attempt to recall her was treated as a vote of confidence, and failed by seven votes. Governor Lockhart would make a useful ally for Republican reformers, or an obstacle for natives of Diamant determined to start an open rebellion.

Minor Powers

There are dozens of independent colonies and small coalitions, most of which are either near the solar system or in the fringes of the Far Stars cluster. These powers are a diverse assortment, with almost every imaginable type of society. Most smaller powers are poorly defended, often with only a few obsolete warships sold off by one of the major powers. The powers described here are a sample of the independent colonies in Jumpstrike.

The New Solar Union

The New Solar Union was formed in the wake of the Burn from a number of international relief organizations. After the Burn, the Earth was devastated, and starvation and disease killed many more people than the orbital bombardments. The relief organizations led a global response to the Burn, and eventually formed the nucleus of a planetary government. Since the Burn, the Earth has managed to exist peacefully with a unified government. Although a minor player in most ways, the New Solar Union is the most populous government in existence, with over 1.5 billion citizens spread throughout the solar system.

The New Solar Union has concentrated on the defense of the solar system, and has taken advantage of the recent rivalry between the Core Worlds Alliance and the Hellenikan League. Both sides have contributed ships to the New Solar Union, and the Union's capabilities were recently demonstrated when a strike force from the New Earth Empire, attempting to acquire a base in the Sol system, suffered a humiliating defeat. The New Solar Union has recently begun its own shipbuilding program, and some of the new classes are comparable to the ships of the major powers. The government of the New Solar Union is based on a combination of direct democracy and a representative council. The Council handles urgent problems, but its decisions are subject to a review by the entire citizen body of the Union.

Ephidites

Ephidites, one of four colonies located on Rhodos (BD+45 2505-IV), was one of the last colonies founded before the Burn. Within 5 parsecs of three League colonies, 4 Republican colonies, and one Imperial colony, this strategically important location has led to Ephidites being courted by both the League and the Republic.

Ephidites has a small citizen body and a larger number of residents with limited citizen rights. Most of the citizens support Archon Martin Chengalur, who tends to be sympathetic towards the Hellenikan League. Many of the residents, and a few citizens, support Exarch Brian Smith, who advocates an overthrow of the citizen government for more inclusive franchise. Smith has recently approached the Far Stars Republic for backing in his attempts to take over the government of Ephidites. If both sides gain support from the major powers, Ephidites may become the focus of another war between the Hellenikan League and the Far Stars Republic.

Korkyra

Korkyra is an independent colony on Merrod's World, the same planet that houses Stracher (the current capital of the Core Worlds Alliance). Korkyra was founded fifty years later than Stracher, and was a young colony at the time of the Burn. After the Burn, Korkyra survived only because Stracher and Heritage, another older colony on Merrod's World, were at war with one another but at peace with Korkyra, making Korkyra the only legal trade conduit between the two powers. Since that time, Korkyra has survived as a free port close to the League, the Alliance, and the Empire.

Korkyra's citizenship policy is extremely loose, with both foreigners and citizens eligible for full voting rights. The only distinction is that only citizens may serve on the Legislative Council, and foreigners pay slightly higher taxes. Only those adopted by a citizen or born to two full citizens are eligible for full citizenship, and Korkyra has many foreigners whose families have lived in the colony for hundreds of years.

Map of the Colonies

The starmaps come from the HabHYG database by means of Winchell Chung and his star maps web site. I wrote a script which drew the maps, and I played around with which stars actually had habitable planets until I had a map that I liked. The assumptions that I used are extremely optimistic, but that's the only way that real starmaps can be used for game purposes.

This map shows all known star systems with inhabitable planets as of 2653 (although essentially no new surveying has taken place since the Burn). Lines are drawn between stars 5 parsecs or less from one another (that being the maximum distance that most merchant ships can travel, and the maximum distance that a warship can travel without being stranded at the far end). Although some stars are marked as belonging to a major power, most have many colonies, including some neutral colonies.

Read the full article...
Monday, August 22, 2005

The Neighborhood

The Neighborhood is a campaign set in a suburban North American neighborhood sometime in the '60s or '70s, where players take on the roles of the animals that populate the Neighborhood. The setting can be used for a one-shot or as an entire campaign. The goal is to create the sense of mystery, wonder and exploration that one had as a child exploring backyards and vacant lots.

Introduction

The Neighborhood is a campaign set in a suburban North American neighborhood sometime in the '60s or '70s, where players take on the roles of the animals that populate the Neighborhood. The setting can be used for a one-shot or as an entire campaign. The goal is to create the sense of mystery, wonder and exploration that one had as a child exploring backyards and vacant lots. The Neighborhood is designed as a framework. Some locations, peoples and animals are specified, with potential for adventure and conflict, but it is up to the GM and players to create specific characters and breath real, detailed life into it.

Players can play as domesticated animals, such as dogs, cats, or house-birds, closely tied to their human owners, or they can play their wild counterparts, stray cats, runaway dogs, or lost birds. Characters can also be one of the many wild animals that naturally occur in neighborhoods, rats, mice, pigeons, raccoons, possums, blackbirds and squirrels. The setting is based on the assumption that the animals are sentient beings, who behave as the animals they are, but have emotions and think rationally like humans. They may still be guided by their instincts and do not have a strong understanding of human emotions and behavior beyond where it directly affects them. This adheres to the model of animals as found in most fiction, such as Watership Down, the Secret of N.I.M.H., Charlotte's Web, etc. The setting could be played much more realistically, with animals having limited rational intelligence and communication abilities (dogs bark, cats meow, etc.). You could take it to the other extreme and have the animals be as intelligent as humans, perhaps even being able to communicate with humans.

The type of animal the PCs choose will strongly direct the motivation and conflicts of the game. One of the most interesting aspects of this setting is the relationships between the various animals groups. Depending on the nature of the adventure, different species may cooperate, in spite of their instincts. The cat may have to grudgingly rely on the mice to get information for him. The dog may allow the cat to pass through the yard if the cat can steal him a snack. The squirrels and birds may make a food and information sharing agreement. The game could also be run "naturally" where the dogs and cats are truly rivals, the cats hunt the birds, mice, and squirrels, etc. There is plenty of conflict inherent in such a setting. It's up to you! The adventure ideas at the end of the article assume that the animals will want to work together.

Rules Additions

New Traits

Obedience: Because Fudge was designed by humans, the higher the obedience, the "better" the trait. However, from a dog character's perspective, a high obedience is not necessarily a good thing. A dog with a high obedience may often succeed at a roll and thus be forced to follow the desires of his master. Obedience is a situation that can make for interesting roleplaying as well as create the strange situation where a player may wish to fail his roll! For instance, a dog may discover an enemy in a vulnerable situation and attack. If his owner sees this and calls him back, the dog must fail his obedience roll to keep fighting.

Instinct: Instinct, like Obedience, is also "backwards." However, it affects a wider range of animals. Certain animals have strong instincts and sometimes they are so powerful that they overtake the animal's will and make it do something the player might not want to do. A tom may be forced to pursue a cat in heat. A mouse may be forced to cower in fear or run away from a cat. A mouse may also be compelled to take that nugget of cheese sitting on the metal spring! Again, these are cases where the player will want to fail his or her instincts roll. There are times when strong instincts are beneficial, such as in helping a cat find a hidden prey or a mouse discover a hidden exit.

Note: the GM can reverse these traits, calling them Resistance to Obedience or Instinct Discipline if it makes it less complicated and counter-intuitive. They can also discard them altogether if they don't want to add this component of roleplaying to the game and allow the players absolute free will.

The Animals

Cats

Cats tend to be house-cats or strays, though there is a gradient between these as there are some cats who spend all their time outdoors, but are fed regularly by a human. Cats have a range of personalities and goals, and because of their mobility and easy access to both human and animal worlds, can be the most interesting characters to play. They are also the most aggressive animals and often hated or feared by many of the other animals (except most dogs). Cats have a complex hierarchy and territory system and a lot of their lives are spent in establishing their place in the pecking order and defending or expanding their territory.

Dogs

Most dogs tend to have human owners. There are few strays. Dogs also come in a range of types and motivations, as well as a range of liberties. Some dogs may never be let out of the house, except for leashed walks; while others may be given free range of their backyard or even complete freedom.

Squirrels

Most squirrels live inside trees, either in holes higher up or in spaces underneath their roots. They forage for nuts and other food, and are extremely agile and mobile. They are also very verbal and aggressive. Some animals find them irritating, as they will sit on a wire looking down and criticizing the other animals in a loud voice (which sounds like weird chittering screeches to us humans). They especially love to berate humans, who, if they understood what was being said, would be deeply insulted. Squirrels are also big gossips and love to share information. If you can take the time to suffer their haranguing, they can provide a lot of useful knowledge about activities in the Neighborhood. They avoid cats and most dogs.

Mice

There are two groups of mice, field-mice and house-mice. They are both the same species, but have different cultures. The field mice tend to stick together in family groupings and help each other out. The house mice also live in family groups, but in smaller sizes and their members tend to act more independently, surviving and getting food on their own. All mice are incredibly timid and nervous, and are especially scared of cats. However, if they can be befriended, they are excellent infiltrators and also have a lot of information about what goes on inside houses.

Rats

The rats are tough and mean. They tend to live outside of (and under) the Neighborhood (on the other side of the tracks), but occasionally one or two will make their way down Parker Street. They command the sewers and must be negotiated with if any other animal wants to use them for transportation.

Birds

This is a coverall category for all the different birds that nest and socialize in the Neighborhood: blackbirds, robins, sparrows, crows, pigeons, etc. They tend to remain socially aloof from the other animals, being more concerned about their own social affairs. But they can deliver messages from afar and attack in groups, either dive-bombing or dropping scat on their opponent, which can be most effective against individual humans or dogs.

Raccoons

These masked bandits are tough and smart. They operate at night, and their main concern is getting food. They will eat from garbage cans, gardens, and kitchens, if they can get inside. They are not aggressive, but will fight if cornered. Most raccoons are not particularly social with other species, but can be persuaded to communicate with food or access to food.

Players are welcome to take on any other species the GM feels is appropriate.

Description of the Neighborhood

The center of the Neighborhood is Parker street, between Elm to the north and Oak to the south. It is a middle class residential neighborhood on the edge of a medium-sized city. It has a two-lane street and a tree-lined sidewalk. Most of the houses are one or two-story single-unit dwellings with front and back yards. There is an alley running behind both sides. The alleys are a favorite route for the dogcatcher, a relentless and disciplined city functionary who wears a white suit and drives a white truck (fortunately, he always eats spicy baloney sandwiches and thus can be smelled quite easily). Rainwater is collected in gutters and flows down drains at each end of the street. These drains are connected to the sewers which can also be accessed by manholes in the street. The sewers also connect to houses through drains and some animals (mainly rats) can access the interiors of houses this way.

Children play in the streets in the summer and after school, and they come home when their parents call them. Laundry is hung out on lines in the backyard. When the weather is nice, many families keep their front door open. Crime is low, but not non-existent. Residents are truly of the middle class that flourished in North America after the Second World War. There are tradespeople, salesman, young professionals, teachers, service industry workers, manual laborers, a house of students, an "artistic" couple and some just struggling to get by. Socially, it is a fairly open place and most neighbors know each other, though there are a few who keep to themselves.

There are four seasons and the weather can affect various animal groups' behavior significantly. Some of the municipal trees produce fruit (mainly small plums) which are a favorite of birds and local children. There are many gardens in the backyards which present a cornucopia of food for many different animals. When the weather is warm, the pets go out more and the wild animals are more active. When it's cold or snowing, domestic animals can be trapped indoors for days at a time and many of the wild animals will hibernate.

Specific Locations

The Rollins House

The Rollins family are the "poor" family in the Neighborhood. Though they are actually okay people in many ways, they do not conform to the social mores of the Neighborhood and are thus shunned by many of their neighbors. Their yard is a mess, with a junked car, old tires and other car parts spread around, all surrounded by a rickety 6' high wooden fence. Buddy, their German Shepherd, spends most of his time chained to a post there and is quite aggressive and ferocious. He barks at anyone who walks by and will attack any animal that enters the yard. Judd Rollins, the father, is a truck-driver and alcoholic, away for weeks at a time. His wife is also an alcoholic and their three kids (Kenny 16, Norma 14 and Eddie 8) are always getting into trouble. Other parents warn their children about hanging around with the Rollins.

The Vacant Lot

This plot of land, three houses south of Elm street, on the eastern side of Parker, belongs to the McWiley family. Old Man McWiley lived there for the longest time with his dog Moses. When he died, his children tore down his house and then got into a fight about what to do with the land. The fight has turned into a stalemate and the lot has become neglected and overgrown. When the old man died, his dog Moses ran away. He returned to the lot and now makes his home in what's left of the basement of his old house. The lot can be accessed from the street, from the alley behind and from the neighbors' house on either side. Moses is a wise dog and will speak with any animal that comes to see him. He is considered an excellent source of counsel and his lot is seen as neutral ground for the animals, where they can come and discuss problems that affect them all. Children do play here from time to time and some of them know about Moses, though most adults don't. He gets his food where he can.

The Red House

The narrow, dark-red shingled two-story home is rented by the Manfreds, a young couple relatively new to the Neighborhood. They are both "artistic" and are the first of a new generation that is not necessarily following the same cultural past as the others on the block. Jacob works at a local typesetter in town and paints in the evenings and weekends. Linda stays at home, tries to write and take care of the house. She loves animals, especially cats and feeds a lot of the Neighborhood strays (though many of them aren't actually strays, just taking advantage of an extra free meal). They have two parakeets (Gargantua and Pantagruel or "Gargy" and "Panty" as Linda calls them) of their own, but do not own a cat (Jacob isn't ready).

The Mansion

Doctor Ernest Jablonsky is a well-respected member of the community and lives in "The Mansion," as it is known, with his old aunt on the southwest corner of Parker and Oak. He has a busy practice as a General Practitioner in town, organizes well-attended dinner parties from time to time, and is known by the children to have the best porch and treats on Halloween. He has a small lab in his basement where he practices his second love, taxidermy. He contributes to taxidermy journals, attends conferences and is recognized in the field for having invented some new techniques.

White Picket Fence

The classic nuclear family, the Jordans live in a small, two-story house with a neat front lawn and a swing-set in the back. Mr. Jordan (Robert or Bob to his friends) works at the firm and his wife Elizabeth keeps house. Timmy, 12, is a good kid, a boy scout, and spends most of his time with Lucky, his border-collie, trying to shake his pesky kid sister Suzy. Lucky is smart and obedient and lives to serve and protect humans, especially the Jordans.

Mrs. Brewster's House

Hetty Brewster is the classic grandmother. She lives in a one-story bungalow and often sits out on her front lawn with her dachshund Libby. She contributes regularly to the SPCA and has gone out of her way to help injured or hungry animals. She is also well-loved by the children in the Neighborhood, to whom she gives cookies from time to time. Though old and starting to get mentally weak, she is quite tough still and works in her garden in the back when she's not out front. Her husband left her a lot of money when he died, which she keeps invested, spending only enough to keep herself comfortable and make her charitable donations.

Colonel Manley's Backyard

Colonel Manley may or may not have fought in the war, though everyone in the Neighborhood refers to him as the Colonel, as in "Don't go in the Colonel's backyard!" He has a high, secure fence protecting his extensive and abundant garden. He is obsessed with defending it against rodents, neighborhood dogs, and childrens' balls. He has a small salt-gun that he will not hesitate to use on intruders. Any balls that go over the fence will never come back. His front yard is an immaculate lawn and he is just as ferocious about defending it. He tends to use his high-powered hose on any dogs that walk on it.

Adventure Ideas

Dogcatcher

The Dogcatcher has finally caught Old Moses, the wily old sage of the vacant lot. The rest of the animals must get together to rescue him before he is put to sleep.

Saving Little Timmy

Little Timmy Jordan (or his sister) has (fallen in a well, gotten trapped in a cave, been kidnapped) and it's up to his dog Lucky to rally the rest of the animals to save him.

The New Rats

Judd Rollins is halfway through hauling a container from the west coast to the east coast. He decides to stop at home and leaves his truck parked in the Neighborhood. Some tough and mean wharf rats from Hong Kong have smuggled themselves aboard and decide that the Neighborhood looks like a perfect place to exploit. They sneak out of the container, find a nest and start breeding.

The Doctor

Stray cats are disappearing, so are squirrels. The smell of death emanates from the garbage outside Doctor Jablonski's old manor. The mice swear that he has an extensive laboratory in his basement where he spends all night working...

Animal Day

The animals unite and decide that the Neighborhood is theirs to inherit and they decide to take it over from the humans. The campaign starts with sabotage and will not end until every last human is driven out...

Mrs. Brewster's Nephew

A well-dressed, polite young gentleman starts calling on Mrs. Brewster. He helps her out around the house, has dinner with her and brings her presents. She introduces him as her nephew. He is not, however, as friendly with animals as she is and seems quite interested in the state of her will. When Libby shares her suspicions with the other animals, they decide to investigate...

The Mind Thing (read the book by Fredric Brown)

A small, streamlined object crashes into the vacant lot. Inside is an alien with the ability to possess any sleeping, sentient creature and make it its host. It's goal is to eventually possess the most powerful creature on the planet but in order to do that, he must first make his way through the animals...

Read the full article...
Monday, August 15, 2005

Cinematic Damage Alternatives

If you're looking for a swashbuckling or cinematic feel to your game, try out one these two options. Not only will they provide relief from the "death spiral," but they can get your players more involved in spicing up the combat. Yet they're simple to use and will keep the flow of combat going smoothly. If "Hit Points in Disguise" isn't for you, be sure to read "Dramatic Events" further down. The two systems each stand alone, and "Dramatic Events" will knock your socks off... which avoids a point of damage!

A common grievance heard from people trying to use Fudge in more cinematic settings is the so-called "Death Spiral." As wound penalties and wound overflow combine, it becomes very difficult for a character to win a fight without drawing first blood. There's nothing wrong with that system, and some might say its more realistic, but its not hard to think of genres and settings where that sort of "grit" isn't the norm. How can we make Fudge combat more "fantastic" or "cinematic" while still keeping it simple?

Why not use Fudge Points?

Many GMs keep a tight rein on the distribution of Fudge Points. Fudge Points are pretty powerful, so having a large pile around for fights might make the game unplayable in other areas. Providing a separate pool of points that quickly regenerate has less impact outside combat. Another advantage is that these points could be used for other effects as well. Using Psionics or Magic might require the expenditure of Endurance points, thus providing an outlet for characters who wouldn't fight toe-to-toe very often, as well as a means of containing extraordinary powers with respect to unempowered characters.

Hit Points in Disguise

One possibility is to add an additional pool of points that players could spend to reduce the effects of damage. These can be labeled as appropriate to setting... Endurance, Wind, Luck, Action, Fate, and so on. As wounds are taken by the character, the player may choose to spend a point to reduce the severity of the wound by one level (Very Hurt to Hurt, for example). Once these are gone, or when the player doesn't spend them, the wound results proceed as normal. These points should recover at a fairly quick rate once the fight is over.

The initial size of the pool should vary with setting and character. In many settings, primary characters should have a larger supply, while "mooks" or minor characters might not have any. Since every group is different, its difficult to make firm recommendations for numbers of points. That said, if the points are only being used for wounds, I have trouble seeing more than twenty points being useful for anything but making fights take an excruciating amount of time. I tend to think something closer to ten, perhaps modified by Attributes, being more effective.

The advantage of this system is that it's quick and dirty. It will tend to make characters more brave, because it will likely alter the players' combat decisions. The primary disadvantage is that it doesn't directly add any cinema or drama to the situation. That burden still falls primarily on the players and GM. That is to say, when a player spends points to reduce a wound, there is no requirement that they describe how they are doing it. The wound just "gets reduced."

Dramatic Events

Combat in cinematic environments can have many results beyond merely wounding your opponent. Swords are knocked over cliffs. A missed shot starts a fire near the fuel tank. Shields are shattered. A cascade of blows drives a warrior to the edge of the bridge. The Nazi grenade blasts the heroes back into the field. In many games, these events are turned into special abilities that characters collect and invoke as they gain experience. This method runs up against advancement systems in Fudge, and makes things perhaps even more complicated in that area. Furthermore, Fudge requires a lot of work on from the GM as it is. Adding an entire system of Gifts and Faults to handle all the possible things you might want to do in combat seems a bit much.

Instead, using the chart below, let the players buy off their characters' imminent wounds with some of this drama. The events are available to all characters, except perhaps minor "cannon fodder" characters like City Guardsmen, Orcish Raiders, Zombies, etc. Tougher or more highly-skilled characters will use them less often, as their abilities will take care of themselves. The GM is also free to forbid a particular usage if it doesn't meet with the spirit of the event, character, or common sense. These events should still act as penalties, just not the wound penalties that lead directly to the dreaded "Death Spiral." Optionally, you may allow players to use more than one event on a given wound. If so, they must take the maximum result from a category before choosing another. (So a seven point explosion might be absorbed by a Knock Back, Instant Doom, and Disarm, but a three point hit cannot be absorbed by a Driven Back, Cosmetic Damage, and Set Piece Damage.)

Dramatic Events Damage Points Absorbed
Event Category 1 2 3
Weapon Trouble Disarm Disarm Plus Weapon Destroyed
Position Driven Back Knock Down Knock Back
Equipment Cosmetic Damage Equipment Damage Equipment Destroyed
Environment Set Piece Damage Impending Doom Instant Doom
Social Awkward Moment Embarrassment Utter Humiliation

Event Descriptions

  • Weapon Trouble: The basic Disarm means exactly that. You drop your weapon. It doesn't go flying anywhere special, just dropped, but it will take precious time to pick it back up. Disarm Plus is a little bit more. Your weapon gets knocked well away from you, or gets grabbed by your enemy. Weapon Destroyed is pretty self-explanatory, but it also would apply to a weapon irretrievably lost.
  • Position: If you are Driven Back, your opponent forcibly repositions you. (Probably not to your advantage, either.) If you trip, get tripped, slip, stumble or otherwise lose your footing and end up prone, he scored a Knock Down. A combination of both those, particularly suitable to explosions and the like, is the Knock Back. Not only does it leave you prone, but it also moves you in a direction of your opponent's choosing. It should be noted that any time a character is rendered prone, villains are likely to start monologing about their nefarious schemes.
  • Equipment: The equipment in question must be of significant import, or there must be a lot of it. So you may not have anything particularly important in the backpack, but having all your rations crushed and useless will still cause you difficulty. Certain equipment may be exempt for plot purposes.
  • Environment: When you select Set Piece Damage some piece of the scenery or item in the scene is damaged significantly. This damage is inversely proportional to its potential utility. (Who weeps for the ficus?) Impending Doom occurs when your clumsy fighting sets off the first in a chain of events that will make the area generally unhealthy. This can be a fire starting, the radiation shields collapsing, the warp core alarm starting to chime, etc. Instant Doom is even worse, something really bad happens. Perhaps the bridge starts to collapse, or a wave of water crashes through the window. Whatever it is, it significantly changes the battlefield and threatens innocent bystanders.
  • Social: This isn't appropriate for every game, but games set in Swashbuckling eras, Shuojo anime, or other settings might find it useful. For all three results, the victim suffers a loss of social prestige and coolness for some time to come. This might affect future attempts to influence others, or promotion, or romantic inclinations. An Awkward Moment might earn the character some teasing at a later time. An Embarrassment might do the same, but it would also leave the character vulnerable or hurt emotionally. Utter Humiliation shatters the character's self-esteem and ruins his confidence (or the confidence others have in the character.)

This system has the advantage of giving the players some say in the narration of the fight without leaving the GM uninspired. It also has the advantage of actually adding drama to the combat. The only real disadvantage might occur when two closely-matched characters duel. If neither character can get a "solid hit" on the other, all their blows could theoretically be absorbed by their surroundings. If this becomes problematic, the GM could just drop the table for the duration of that contest.

It should also be noted that other Event Categories might be added in some settings. I could easily imagine adding a "Wild Magic" row. However, this would be for more flavor reasons than it would for effect. Most of the possible results from such a row are included in one of the above categories, and any could be narrated as the result of "Wild Magic." I could see a specialized category for characters with certain weaknesses. Perhaps barbarians, lycanthropes, superheroes, or special equipment have certain special problems that erupt under stressful situations.

Combining the Two

There is no particular reason not to use both Points and Dramatic Events. Certainly I would recommend using a very limited number of points, but the two systems could work well implemented side by side. To limit the extent to which the Dramatic Events option can drag out a fight, Points could be required to use Dramatic Events, forcing the combat to a head when a character runs out of points. However you choose to use them, these options are sure to bring some "cinematic spice" to your combats.

Read the full article...
Monday, August 08, 2005

Fudge Miniatures Battles

The sounds of clashing steel, the feel of sweat running down your back, the taste of blood in your mouth... these are what await you on the battlefield. Do you have what it takes to enter into bloody battle, a few sworn comrades at your side, cold steel in your hand, and a grim and firm determination to be the victor? Enter, then, the field of battle...

Introduction

Since I picked up Fudge many years ago, I have been enamored of the simple and elegant dice mechanic. As an avid miniatures war-gamer, I decided to create a set of war-game rules that use it. This rule-set can be used to play out skirmish battles with each player controlling between three and ten models apiece. It is written with fantasy battles in mind, but with different Gifts, Faults, and equipment, it can be expanded to any genre.

Ground rules and assumptions

Trait levels and their respective bonuses

  • +4 Legendary
  • +3 Superb
  • +2 Great
  • +1 Good
  • +0 Fair
  • -1 Mediocre
  • -2 Poor
  • -3 Terrible

Players should be familiar with how to roll and read Fudge Dice (4dF) and how to figure out the result of the roll.

On an unmodified roll of +4, re-roll, ignoring all [-] results, and add the new results to the total.

This game uses numeric values instead of descriptive trait levels. During playtest, it was found that continually converting back and forth between numbers and descriptive levels significantly slowed down the game.

There is no points-construction system. Forces will not necessarily be balanced against each other. The players should agree on a scenario that seems balanced based on the forces the players have brought to the table. "Last Man Standing" is discouraged, in favor of things like "Hold the bridge for X turns" or "Escort King Kinglsey Across the Board Before Knave Knavely Beats Him Up and Takes His Mojo".

The players should have a model for each of their characters that roughly corresponds to the stats and equipment they are giving it.

Editor's Note: A vast array of inexpensive paper miniatures and three-dimensional paper models are available on RPGNow.com. They may not be as cool as painted metal miniatures, but being able to field an entire army for the price of a single metal figure trumps "cool" when your budget is tight.

  • It doesn't matter who makes the models, though painted models look cooler and roll better than unpainted models. Really. They do. Honest.
  • The model's base does not matter, but it would be nice if each model's base was roughly the same size and shape as other models about the same size as it.
  • Munchkins, Rules-Lawyers, and players who make a fuss about "Tournament standard" or "Legal models" shall be kicked once, very politely, in the shins.
  • Laminated datacards and dry-erase markers work well for easy bookkeeping.
  • If a model is Near Death, lay it face up. If a model is Dead, lay it face down.

The datacard

Each model has a datacard that contains the following things:

  • Wound track (see below)
  • Strength
  • Dexterity
  • Guts
  • Movement
  • MODF (Melee Offensive Damage Factor)
  • RODF (Ranged Offensive damage Factor)
  • DDF (Defensive Damage Factor)
  • HDDF (Defensive Damage Factor when helpless)

Making a character

(This is for a standard human. Other races may be modified based on general consensus.)

  1. Each stat starts out at +0, except for Movement, which starts out at 5". Each model has four free levels to buy stat increases: +0 to +1 costs one level, etc. You can lower a stat two levels to increase another stat an extra level (do this only once).
  2. Assign Gifts and Faults (see next section).
  3. Assign equipment that corresponds to the mini.
  4. Calculate Melee ODF, Ranged ODF, and DDF:
    1. MODF is the weapon's damage plus Strength (or Dexterity). For example, a model with +2 Strength and a +1 longsword has a Melee ODF of +3. Each weapon will state whether it is Strength or Dexterity based.
    2. RODF is the weapon's damage. If any stat bonus is added, it will be stated in the weapon's description.
    3. DDF is the model's Dexterity plus Armor bonus.
    4. HDDF is the Armor bonus without the Dexterity bonus or the bonus to shields the defender would not be able to use when helpless.

Gifts/Faults

A standard human model will get one Gift and one Fault. Five-Point Fudge has an excellent list of gifts and faults from which to pick. Each Gift and Fault should have a tabletop effect, so unless the scenario calls for powerful allies coming on the field later in the game, a gift such as "Rich and powerful Patron" would not be appropriate. Faults like "Impotent" or "Scabies" have no effect on the tabletop, so they also would be inappropriate. I'm sure someone will prove me wrong on this, by the way. I could use a good laugh, so if you do, I want to hear about it.

The Game Turn

Players take turns activating their entire force. Play proceeds clockwise around the table if there are more than two players. Initiative is determined by the scenario. If the scenario has no preference, then whoever brought pizza for the group gets to go first.

  1. Player's models may move between 0" and their maximum movement.
  2. Player's models may either melee, shoot, cast a spell, or perform any other available action.
  3. Any damage is applied.
  4. Player's models may move any distance they did not move in step 1. Note that if a model was wounded in the previous step, it cannot move more than its new movement stat. This is unlikely to happen, but if I don't put it in, someone will figure out how to do it.
  5. The next player clockwise around the table starts his turn at step 1.

Available Actions

  • Loot the dead
  • Pick up an object
  • Shoot all wielded ranged weapons
  • Melee attack with all wielded melee weapons
  • Cast a spell

Movement

Each model is able to move a distance on the table equal to its Movement stat. If a model does not move its full Movement distance before it does an Action, use a die other than a Fudge Die to track how much more movement the model can make.

Disengaging

When a model leaves base-to-base contact with an enemy, the enemy gets a single free attack on the model, unless the model succeeds in a Dexterity check that equals or beats the enemy's Strength or Dexterity, whichever is greater.

Terrain

Certain types of terrain cause penalties to movement. Each inch or fraction thereof that a model traverses imposes the following modifier on the number of inches of movement needed to traverse that inch:

  • Open terrain - x1
  • Rough terrain - x2 (Swamps, briar patches, barbed wire, etc)
  • Swimming - x2
  • Elevation increase - x2 per inch climbed (hills, ladders, hedges, fences, etc)
  • Model is Flying - x1/2
  • Decrease elevation - x1

Combat

If the scenario, situation, or particular attack calls for a model to be surprised or helpless, use the target's HDDF.

Melee Combat

  • A model makes one attack per weapon wielded. Weapons are either wielded with one hand or two hands. Each weapon will have "1h" or "2h" in its description. A model cannot wield more weapons than will fit in its available hands.
  • Melee attacks must be made in base-to-base contact with the target model unless otherwise stated in the weapon's description.
  • To make a melee attack (do this once for each melee weapon the attacker is carrying):
    1. Attacker rolls 4dF plus MODF versus the target's DDF (target does not roll; is assumed to be actively dodging.)
    2. If the attacker's total (roll+MODF) equals or beats the defender's DDF, the defender takes a wound equal to the relative degree (total-DDF).
  • If more than one model are attacking a single enemy, each attack gains a +1 bonus to hit.

Ranged Combat

  • Ranged weapons may not be fired while in base-to-base contact with an enemy unless otherwise stated in the weapon's description.
  • A Model has line of sight to a target if, from a model's-eye view, it can see at least half the target model.
  • Ranged weapons may be fired at targets outside their Range, but rolls suffer a -1 penalty for every multiple of the weapon's Range or portion thereof.
  • If the target is behind cover, the attacker's roll is modified by -1.
  • To make a Ranged attack (do this once for each ranged weapon the attacker is carrying):
    1. Attacker rolls 4dF plus RODF versus the target's DDF (target does not roll; is assumed to be actively dodging.)
    2. If the attacker's total (4dF+RODF) equals or beats the defender's DDF, the defender takes a wound equal to the relative degree (total-DDF).

Wounds

Models take damage using the standard Fudge wound track:

Model is healthy:

Scratch Hurt(-1) Very
Hurt(-2)
Near
Death
Dead
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]
0-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9+

Model takes a 4 wound (Hurt) and is at -1 to all stats:

Scratch Hurt(-1) Very
Hurt(-2)
Near
Death
Dead
[ ] [ ] [X] [ ] [ ] [ ]
0-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9+

Model then takes a 5 wound (Very Hurt) and is at -2 to all stats:

Scratch Hurt(-1) Very
Hurt(-2)
Near
Death
Dead
[ ] [ ] [X] [X] [ ] [ ]
0-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9+

Model Takes four Scratches which carries over through Hurt, Very Hurt,and into a Near Death:

Scratch Hurt(-1) Very
Hurt(-2)
Near
Death
Dead
[X] [X] [X] [X] [ ] [ ]
0-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9+

...et cetera. Note that increased wound levels carry penalties to all stats, not rolls.

When a model becomes Near Death, it falls to the ground (face up) and cannot do anything else. If it was flying at the time, it takes an additional 4dF+5 wound as it crashes to the ground. This may well result in the model becoming Dead.

Starting on the model's next turn after it becomes Near Death, it must make a Guts roll. If the modified roll is a +2 or better, it becomes merely Very Hurt and may then act normally. If the modified roll is a -1 or less, it becomes Dead (turn model face down).

If a model attacking a model that is Near Death, the attacker only has to roll to wound. The attack is assumed to automatically hit, and is made against the target's HDDF stat.

Guts

Each model has a Guts score. Certain circumstances call for the model to make a Guts Check.

Circumstances requiring a Guts check, and the target for the roll:

  • Model takes a new Wound Level (Scratch to Hurt, Hurt to Very Hurt, etc): Target number is +1
  • Model is in a combat and a friend shoots into the combat: Target number is +0
  • Model suffers two wound levels in a single attack (Scratch to Very Hurt): Target number is +2
  • Model tries to charge, or is being charged by, a Terrifying opponent (Terrifying would be a Gift possessed by the opponent in this case). Target number is 0 plus the number of "Terrifying" gifts the opponent has.

If the Guts check is failed, the model suffers the effect based on the margin of failure:

  • 0 Model may act normally.
  • 1 Model is at a -1 to rolls (Rolls only, not stats).
  • 2 Model may not attack.
  • 3 Model immediately runs at least half its movement towards a safe place. Enemies in base contact with it get an immediate free attack at +1.
  • 4 Model falls to the ground, terrified, and enemies treat it as a helpless target.

Each subsequent turn after a model fails a Guts check, it must pass another Guts check or continue to suffer the effects of the previous failure. It gains a cumulative +1 to this Guts roll every turn starting the turn after it took the wound level. If it suffers another wound level before it passes a Guts check, it must immediately make a Guts check for the new wound level, AND it loses the next +1 bonus to the check for the first wound.

Sample characters

King Kingsley
Strength +2 MODF +7 Kingly Robes
Dexterity +1 RODF N/A Sword of Smiting 2h +5
Guts +1 DDF +1  
Movement 5" HDDF +0  
Gift Noble presence, peasants make Guts checks at -1 when in melee with the King
Fault Leader, all followers make Guts checks at -1 if the King has fallen
 
Sir Knightly
Strength +2 MODF +4 Longsword 1h +2
Dexterity +0 RODF N/A Plate armor +2
Guts +2 DDF +3 Shield 1h +1
Movement 6" HDDF +2  
Gift Faithful, +1 to Guts checks when defending the King
Fault Chivalrous, Cannot strike a defenseless opponent
 
Yanni the Yeoman
Strength +0 MODF +0 Shortbow 18" 2h +3
Dexterity +3 RODF +3 Leather armor +1
Guts +1 DDF +4 Dagger 1h +0
Movement 5" HDDF +1  
Gift Steadfast, +1 to Guts check when being charged by Terrifying opponent
Fault Poor melee combatant, opponents get +1 to "free" disengagement attack
 
Knavely Knave
Strength +2 MODF +7 Knavely Robes
Dexterity +1 RODF N/A Sword of Smiting 2h +5
Guts +1 DDF +1  
Movement 5" HDDF +0  
Gift Skilled backstabber, +1 ODF when attacking from behind
Fault Self-interest, will flee combat if wounded.
 
Brutas the Brute
Strength +2 MODF +4 Longsword 1h +2
Dexterity +0 RODF N/A Plate armor +2
Guts +2 DDF +3 Shield 1h +1
Movement 6" HDDF +2  
Gift Terrifying appearance
Fault Mercenary, will flee the combat on any failed Guts check
Read the full article...
Monday, August 01, 2005

Fudge Flatland

In 1884 the mathematician and theologian, Edwin A. Abbott, created Flatland in his book 'Flatland: a romance of many dimensions'. Although it was not the true focus, in just a few pages he detailed the history and culture of an unparalleled universe. This universe is populated by unique beings that, while strange, still may seem familiar in many ways. So, step inside for a quick one-shot or a full campaign and see how many dimensions your characters can find in world that reportedly has only two.

"Fudge Flatland" is based on the book "Flatland: a romance of many dimensions" by Edwin Abbott (freely available from Project Gutenberg). Some additional information (such as the animals and plants of Flatland) has been fabricated strictly for the purposes of this game. This game is intended for play using the One Page Fudge or Fudge in a Nutshell rules.

The Nature of Flatland

"Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows -- only hard and with luminous edges -- and you will then have a pretty correct notion of my country and countrymen."

The population of Flatland lives in a rigid social structure based on shape and intelligence level. The ranges of possibilities are from the lowest class Isosceles Triangle to the Middle Class Square all the way up to the elite Circle priest. The Isosceles Triangles are the soldier and working class. The Equilateral Triangles are the skilled workers (foremen, secretaries, artists, etc.). Equilateral Triangles, Squares and Pentagons are the tradesmen, which include lawyers and doctors. The Polygons (a worthy title) with 6 or more sides make up the nobility. Ruling over them all (or controlling, based on your point of view) are the Circles. The Circles usually don't care what the nobles do to each other or the lower classes as long as it does not affect their way of life. You can find noble Polygons of all types from petty dictators to enlightened reformers but, whether they are called President, Your Honor, Dictator, Magistrate, or Master, it is the Polygons that run things from day to day.

"Place a penny on the middle of one of your tables in Space; and leaning over it, look down upon it. It will appear a circle. But now, drawing back to the edge of the table, gradually lower your eye (thus bringing yourself more and more into the condition of the inhabitants of Flatland), and you will find the penny becoming more and more oval to your view, and at last when you have placed your eye exactly on the edge of the table (so that you are, as it were, actually a Flatlander) the penny will then have ceased to appear oval at all, and will have become, so far as you can see, a straight line."

Because all of the things you can see in Flatland look like a 'line', part of the social customs have evolved around the methods for identifying others. While all Flatlanders can distinguish small differences in the sounds and voices of their family and friends, there is still a need for the ability to identify others not known to you. For the lower classes, the main skill is touch. It is a relatively easy task to identify a shape by feeling one of its angles. This method is not used on or by the noble classes. Among the upper classes, the more difficult skill of visual identification is used. Visual identification is not taught to the lower classes, and touching is forbidden by tradition in the upper class.

The only way to change the social class of your family is by breeding. While most Isosceles births result in an Isosceles child, it is possible, in rare cases, for the child to be an Equilateral Triangle with 3 equal sides and 3 equal angles (or near enough to that to be declared so by the ruling authorities). In higher status individuals, beginning with the Equilateral Triangle, it is expected that any son will have one more 'side' than the father. The son of a Square will be a Pentagon and his son will be a Hexagon, etc. Among the nobility, where births become increasingly rare by some form of natural selection, the number of sides a child has may be many more than his parent. Of course at that level of society, who can really tell the difference between a figure with 20 sides from one with 24? These facts of Flatland reproduction are a major force in keeping the class distinctions in place.

Most full grown Flatlanders will be less that 12 inches long and will have a perimeter / circumference of less than 3 feet.

Important Figures, Places and Events in Flatland

Prometheus The Square - The first heretic, he was a Square who clamed to have been shown the true nature of Flatland by being taken out of it by a Sphere. He lived out the remainder of his life in an Insane Asylum. His real name lost, he is known as Prometheus which he reportedly chose based on a figure from the world of the Sphere who was punished for releasing the knowledge of fire.

Resolution of the Council - The latest edict of the current ruling council aimed at keeping the status quo is commonly known as "the Resolution of the Council". Simply stated, anyone who claims to have received revelations from another world is a heretic and subject to "arrest, imprisonment, or execution."

Heretics - Any person who follows the belief that there is a third dimension is branded a heretic. The first such heretic was an unnamed Square that claimed to be taken out of the world into the third dimension by a 'Sphere'.

Insane Asylums - The Circles maintain control by any means. Crimes in the middle and upper classes, especially 'political' crimes, are only committed by the insane. There are no jails in Flatland, only asylums. Any member of the lower classes who commits a crime is usually executed. For an Isosceles, even being accused of a crime by a Circle priest is enough for a death sentence.

Revolts - In written history, there have been over 100 major and 230 minor revolts of the lower classes. These have always been put down by the Circles. To put down the revolts, the Circle priests use bribery, murder, and trickery, and are quite adept at exploiting the jealousies and fears of the lower classes.

Universal Color Bill - Several generations ago, a Pentagon (who came to be known as 'Chromatistes') learned a method for making body paint in various colors and started using them on himself and his family. Within two generations, this practice had spread to all but the very extreme ends of the social spectrum. The practice came into question when it was realized that, by the use of body colorization, visual class distinctions could be reduced. This led Chromatistes and others, with the support of a vast majority of the lower classes, to push for the Universal Color Bill that would greatly reduce the power of the Circles. This came to be known as the 'Color Revolt'.

Color Revolt - The Chief Circle in the time of Chromatistes was Pantocyclus. Pantocyclus invited the leaders of the Color Revolt, along with thousands of their followers, to a great conclave in which he would declare his support for the 'Universal Color Bill'. In a stunning reversal, he gave a speech praising the virtues of the existing class system. The speech was so successful that many of Chromatistes's lower class followers renounced their support of the bill. In the resulting confusion, Pantocyclus ordered an attack by a group of paroled Isosceles criminals. In the resulting melee, almost all of Chromatistes's supporters and the criminals were wiped out. This horrific event, and the subsequent speedy court martial of the Color Revolt leaders, effectively ended the most dangerous uprising in Flatland's history. Now the secret of creating paint is known only to a few high level Circles.

Circular Neo-Therapeutic Gymnasium - The physicians of Flatland have discovered that the sides of young Polygons can be broken and reset, if done within the first month of life, to double its number of sides. This practice is expensive and dangerous to the infant and only about one in ten survive. Still, some higher order Polygons send their first son through this treatment, hoping to skip a generation or two in the process of moving their family to the social level of the Circles.

Irregular Figures - Being born with an irregular, non-symmetrical figure is usually an instant death sentence. For the few who do survive, being irregular means to be under constant ridicule by the general public and overt suspicion of the authorities.

The Plants, Animals, Geography, and Climate of Flatland

Plants - The plants of Flatland have two basic shapes. The first are the small, almost solid equilateral triangles that function as the fruit and vegetables of the world. The others are open stick structures or 'trees' where each joint, or bend, grows at exactly 90 degrees from its parent limb. These trees would look like wire diagrams with only 90 degree bends and 'T' intersections from the third dimension. All structures that are built in Flatland are created from the wood of these trees. Trees have been known to grow as tall as ten feet when left alone.

Animals - The animals of Flatland are all omnivores and will eat any organic matter available. Where the intelligent Flatlanders have rigid sides, animals have flexible outer surfaces and would look somewhat like amoeba if viewed from the third dimension. There are no real 'species' differences only size variations. The largest wild animals only grow to an approximate length of six inches while the domesticated varieties barely ever reach four inches. Except in the extreme outlying areas, animals are rarely a real threat.

Geography - Flatland has the directions of North, South, East, and West but no true Up or Down. The general orientation of the terrain, houses, Polygons, etc. are North/South with the top being toward the North. There is a slight gravitational pull to the South. Flatlanders sometimes call North 'Up' because of this orientation. There are vast sections of Flatland made up of earth that are known as hills. Hills can be dug into, forming caves, which can be used for housing, storage, or any other such purpose. Hills seem to be more solid and rocklike on the northern sides. These hills might look like islands if viewed from the third dimension.

Climate - All of Flatland is mostly temperate with no areas so extreme that a figure would suffer damage from being there. In the far southern regions, the pull of gravity is less and may cause some discomfort to those not used to such conditions. Rain is common to all parts of Flatland and always falls from North to South. It is rare for more than three days to pass without rain fall in any given location. Fog is also common for most areas.

Houses and Other Buildings

At first by tradition and then later by decree, all Flatland houses have five sides. It is thought that this is the minimum number of sides that produce an angle that is not too dangerous for normal travel. Most public buildings follow this rule. The only exceptions are military forts and secure public buildings that should not be entered by the general masses on a regular basis.

Character Creation

  1. Select one free Gift. You may take an extra Gift for each Fault you take.
  2. Select a type: Isosceles Triangle, Near Perfect Triangle, Tradesman (Equilateral Triangle, Square or Pentagon), Noble (Hexagon to Dodecahedron [6 to 20 sides]). Each type has a maximum Reasoning score.
  3. All Attributes start at Fair. Assign 2 free levels to the 4 attributes Reasoning, Perception, Strength, and Health. You may not exceed the maximum Reasoning score for your type at this time.
  4. Select your skills for your character type and add 10 free levels. You get the listed starting level for all of the skills listed for your type. You may not have more than 1 Superb skill and 2 Great skills when you are done.
  5. 1 Gift = 1 Fault = 1 Attribute Level = 2 Skill Levels
  6. Due to the nature of Flatland, all player characters are Male.
  7. Names usually sound Latin or Greek and may indicate the family, job or position of the individual.

Character Types

  • Isosceles Triangle - These are the soldier/worker class members of society. They have little hope of changing their lot in life but are content in the knowledge that they can be rewarded for a job well done. Isosceles Triangles do +2 damage in ramming combat and have a maximum Reasoning score of Fair.
  • Near Perfect Triangle - These characters are the middle class. They are usually the foreman, team leaders, or sergeants over the lower classes. It would be unwise to anger a Near Perfect Triangle who decided to send a few of his workers out to teach you the error of your ways. Near Perfect Triangles add +1 damage in ramming combat and have a maximum Reasoning score of Good.
  • Tradesman - The Tradesman are the transition between the workers and the nobles. They are the lawyers, doctors, and architects of the world. They also are able to function to some degree in both the upper and lower class settings. This usually means that they end up being the agent of the upper classes when dealing with the lower or the means by which the lower classes are represented to the upper class society. Tradesmen do normal damage in ramming combat and have a maximum Reasoning score of Great.
  • Nobles - The functional ruling class begins with Polygons of 6 or more sides. This type of character is usually more concerned with pleasing the higher ups by keeping things running smoothly. They may view the lowest classes as anything from objects of contempt to valuable resources. Some may even feel the love that a master feels for a favorite pet when dealing with the Isosceles Triangles under them. It is the rare Noble that realizes that each person of every class has hopes and desires of his own. Nobles can never do any damage in ramming combat and have no maximum Reasoning score.

Skills

  • Ram Attack - This is the basic combat attack: the attacker rams the defender with one of his angles. No figure with more than five angles can do any physical damage in ramming combat.
  • Dodge - This is used in combat to avoid being rammed. Out of combat it can be used to avoid thrown or falling items.
  • Rhetoric - This is the ability to get others to do what you want or at least stop doing something you don't want them to do. This can be used in combat at one level lower than your current skill.
  • Touch ID - This is the most accurate way to recognize someone in Flatland. It is mostly practiced by the lower and middle classes. Touching is socially forbidden in the upper classes.
  • Sound ID - This is the most common method of identifying others in Flatland. All Flatlanders are able to distinguish the voices of friends and family, as well as the general speech patterns of each class.
  • Sight ID - This is the most difficult method used to identify others and is the only acceptable method of identification in the upper classes. Sight ID becomes harder in fog by one level.
  • Disguise Voice - This is the skill of disguising your voice against someone using Sound ID to determine your class or who you are.
  • Siege Weapon - This is the skill to use the only weapon on Flatland. Siege Weapons are fixed at fortifications and resemble large sling-shots.
  • Stealth - This is used to move without being heard.
  • Direction Sense - This is the ability to determine which way is North. In the far southern regions of Flatland where the southern pull is very small, it takes a GREAT Direction Sense roll to figure out which way north is.

Skill Bases for each Character Type

Skill Isosceles Triangle Near Perfect Triangle Tradesman Noble
Ramming Mediocre Mediocre Poor -
Dodge Mediocre Mediocre Mediocre Poor
Rhetoric - Poor* Mediocre Mediocre
Touch ID Mediocre Mediocre Mediocre Mediocre
Sound ID Mediocre Mediocre Mediocre Mediocre
Sight ID Poor* Mediocre Mediocre Mediocre
Disguise Voice Mediocre Mediocre Mediocre Mediocre
Siege Weapon - - Poor Mediocre
Stealth Poor Mediocre Mediocre Poor
Direction Sense Mediocre Mediocre Mediocre Mediocre

Skills marked with '*' can not be improved and skills marked '-' can not be learned by that character type. Certain Gifts allow these rules to be broken.

Gifts

Any appropriate Gift allowed by the game master can be taken. Here are some Gifts specific to Flatland:

  • Surprising Intelligence - Increase your Reasoning score by 1 level and increase you maximum Reasoning score by 2 levels.
  • Cross Trained - Select one skill from another type's skill list and add 1 level to the skill base. You may now improve this skill normally.

Faults

Like Gifts, any Faults that the game master allows can be taken. Here are some specific Flatland Faults:

  • Heretic - You believe in the third dimension. You will come to the aid of any other heretic even if it may get you into trouble.
  • Irregular - Your sides and angles are not quite even. This makes you the target of suspicion and ridicule.

Sample Character

Inquisitus is a four-sided private investigator (Tradesman). He works for the Polygons when he has to, but somehow feels better when he is helping the often dismissed common Triangles. He has a higher combat ability than most others of his kind but he gets into more situations where that is needed.

  • Attributes (+1 level from a Fault)
    • Good Reasoning
    • Great Perception
    • Fair Strength
    • Fair Health
  • Skills
    • Good Ram Attack (cost 3 skill levels)
    • Mediocre Dodge
    • Mediocre Rhetoric
    • Mediocre Touch ID
    • Mediocre Sound ID
    • Fair Sight ID (cost 1 skill levels)
    • Good Disguise Voice (cost 2 skill levels)
    • Poor Siege Weapon
    • Good Stealth (cost 2 skill levels)
    • Mediocre Direction Sense
  • Gifts
    • Contacts - Knows key Polygons and many triangles
  • Faults
    • Code of Honor - Help the lower classes

Possible Adventures in Flatland

A Trip to the Country - The characters are brought together by the local Polygon magistrate. He has been receiving complaints from some of the workers in an outlying area. They are being overworked by a Polygon that has recently moved into their area. He is not their master but still demands that they do his bidding. He also has some Isosceles enforcers serving him. He is not leaving them enough time to do the work they should be doing. If the players ask, they will be told that a messenger that was sent to find out who this new Polygon is has not returned. Is the offending Polygon really a new noble or is some irregular trying to carve out an illegal existence?

Color My World - In the strictest confidence, the character of the highest class is taken into a meeting with an actual Circle. He is told that there has been several individuals found wearing body paint in a small village to the West. The player must find and eliminate the source of this paint. He can use any means necessary. What he can not do is allow anyone else to learn the secret of making paint, including the members of his own party. Unauthorized knowledge of this type carries an automatic death sentence.

Read the full article...